self improvement

OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE

“Why don’t you think about being a Strategies Coach?” Neil Ducoff, one of my mentors and friends and also the founder of the consulting company, Strategies, asked me in a conversation we had a few weeks back. We were talking business, one of my favorite topics and certainly Neil’s too as he has been a strong voice in the consulting world of all things beauty business for well over twenty years. I had been speaking to him about needing some jolting. I was feeling a little redundant and complacent after sixteen years in the beauty business and his suggestion was something I had been toying with adding yet another layer to my already pretty full life. But this is how I roll. I like action, movement, challenges and though business ownership gives me that trifecta sometimes I need a little more of a wake up.

I haven’t worked for anyone but myself (and my team) for almost twenty years. I haven’t had to report to anyone, answer to anyone, request time off from anyone. This has mostly ups and on the surface most people who are employees rather than employers may look at this with a bit of envy I imagine. But what many don’t see are the sleepless nights, the weeks when I may have to forgo a paycheck, dealing with floods and employee theft and all of the other inside details that hide in the backround of the gloss that the outside often shines with. The notion of having to be accountable to another company intrigued me. To having to follow a set of someone else’s rules, dress code, time and process gave my heart a little extra flutter.

So after sleeping on this for the past two weeks and doing the due dilligence of speaking with the head honcho of the training for about an hour, I decided to march forth. I accepted the challenge of learning something brand new, out of my box of always having to create and enforce and instead rather follow some rules and regs of a company I have worked with for over sixteen years since I began my own business.

In this decision that I deeply considered before saying yes, I weighed the pros and cons. The pros are numerous especially as it relates to my own business development. I will see what it feels like to experience being spoken to, critiqued, encouraged. I will directly feel what my employees feel when I have to review yet again how to properly clean a room from floor to ceiling or what it feels like to get a not so positive comment about a treatment for the first time. These examples may seem like the cons versus the pros, but I don’t see it that way at all.  This major dose of humility about to enter my brain and heart will be great for my business.  I am confident it will strenghten my resolve for constant improvement and growth in the expectations I have in my own company.

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The cons are minimal, they mostly represent the travel and away from my home time, not being able to cook my own meals and sit down for dinner with my partner. The flutter in my stomach that came from the first read of the instructions of the training seemed at first glance like a con rather than a pro. But after the second and third read, I went from Holy Shit, what have I gotten myself into to Oh yeah, bring it on. Bring on the challenge of having to create a Power Point Presentation in front of my peers out of the gate. The last time I created a Power Point presentation that didn’t look like an eighth grade project was over fifteen years ago. I am open to learning and this is the best part of this new path I am about to skip down.

I have spent countless hours developing a team of women, developing systems so that my business could run efficiently without my physical presence. I have taken classes, but they always are to improve my coaching skills to bring out the best in my team and my business. This is different. This is an opportunity for me to be a student, a kind of employee who has to report to some else’s agenda. At fifty four, this is a great shift. I know I will come out the other side after talking down my nervous stomach because I am about to embark on a new challenge.

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I love new challenges and this one that comes in the form of two intense weeks of training is exactly what I need. Despite the workload ahead to prepare for this training, I am looking forward to the shake up. For those of you who know me, you probably are thinking “Can she ever just settle down?” Truth be told, I have been feeling like I have been too settled recently. There is a sense of urgency that is a force in my life after losing three women peers last year to breast cancer. Not to sound doom and gloom but Am I next crosses my mind on more ocassion that I care to admit. I am not worried. I am pragmatic and this in itself is the driver in the race I call my healthy and joyous life as it is right now.  Out of my comfort zone is an investment in me and it is exactly what I need.

 

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FOR THE LOVE OF TEAM

FOR THE LOVE OF TEAM

Being in business for over 16 years, like being a parent, has a lot of memories. Ups and downs, ebbs and flows, successes and failures. Opening a business in my thirties as a relatively new mother of a two year old, trying to understand the skill set necessary to operate a successful operation has lots of moving parts. Besides the obvious of providing great client care, there is the important development of a great team and the actual economics of understanding the financial and important implications of managing cash flow so you actually have a business to run. I have learned much. I have learned from mistakes along the way and this is the best part of owning a company- the daily schooling of a living breathing operation.

For sixteen years, team development has been one of the highlights of owning my own place. I have learned what I don’t love about owning over the years, minutia, maintenance, such as having to buy light bulbs, scheduling maintenance services, the seeming trivial but important in the background one of many elements I never really thought about when I fantasized about owning my own company. Developing and coaching and mentoring women though has been the best part of my female entrepreneurship.

I had the pleasure of working for Aveda when it first got off the ground, way before Estee Lauder bought it and dumbed it down. When the founder of Aveda actually privately owned the company, the one and only late Horst Rechelbacher, I was exposed to guest speakers like Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Candace Pert, Pamela Peeke. I was able to learn about Demming management, organic farming, and environmental issues well before the environment became the hot topic it is today. The list is endless and this exposure formed my entire view on how to think about what my intention would be when I finally opened my own. What I did know hands down was that without a strong and dedicated team, there is no business and lots of businesses give this a lot of lip service, but their action does not match the reality. After surviving a divorce, a flood and a two time we caught it early breast cancer diagnosis, I feel unstoppable as I reflect back and march forth.

I love planning my annual team meetings. I try not to over meeting the team, but a well planned organized and energizing team gathering is one of my top three favorite parts of business owning. I plan for weeks, writing the handouts, figuring out the swag bags, inviting guest speakers and of course no meeting would be complete without a full day of homemade food. Fuck the healthy, though I do weave that into the day, mostly it is comfort food, macaroni and cheese, Dolly Parton potato casserole, (seriously this will change your life) and challah bread white chocolate bread pudding. Israeli clementines, salad with homemade dressing and roasted vegetables to top it off. Grazing all day, learning, laughing and connecting with each other in a way that is impossible in a day to day environment as we share and learn together.

Yesterday was our first meeting and if I do say so myself as much as it was jam packed and over scheduled, it was my favorite meeting. I let them know that I took personal responsibility as their fearless leader to “make them smarter.” The theme this year was FITNESS. Not just physical fitness, but the importance of financial, home, food, relationship, life and work too. These were the topics throughout the day and the guest speakers to support this did a stellar job. I invited Chris Anasoulis from Lisa and Sousa speak about wills, trusts, health care proxies, power of attorney and the awkward subject of death because let’s face it, no one gets out alive. Besides me, only one of my fifteen team members had a will. No one really knew the importance of having the conversation with either their partners or their parents and they were enlightened. I gave them each a fifty dollar credit towards the fee too. A great swag gift if you ask me.

Our next guest was Cortney Serbst Lancaster, a female SUPER chick from the Bristol Fire Department who came and spoke about fire safety, how to use a fire extinguisher, where to put them in your house, how to talk to your kids about fire safety, what about your pets and a fire and so much more. I gave each of my team member, as one of their swag gifts, a fire extinguisher. In the middle of all of these speakers, I taught them the importance of positive self talk, affirmations, breathing exercises to help ground and center them. They shared their ideas and their challenges, offering up vulnerabilities because they felt safe to do so.

We ended with Adriana Ferns, a local and wonderful personal trainer who spoke about healthy eating, nutrition and daily planning for health. She said something that really stuck with me and I hope with the team as so many say that eating healthy is expensive or takes too much time. She used the analogy of buying your first expensive car and washing it, keeping it maintained with considerable care and putting in high test gas and the irony of caring more about a piece of machinery then the actual one you are born with. This stuck with me. I have watched my young team parade in with 16 oz iced coffees, expensive and sugar laden lattes and fruit filled low fat yogurt over the years not only affecting their mental and physical health but their financial health as well. I taught them how to pack snacks ahead of time for their week in their workplace. I challenged them to test their fitness prowess by attempting to hold a plank for a full minute, or do as many full body pushups to see how much opportunity there is for improvement.

All of this yesterday added up to a chock full day of smarter chicks and most important to me, independent ones. So often my team of wonder women rely on their partners who in our case are all men to fulfill the traditional (and outdated) nod to men to make these grown up decisions likes wills and fire safety and IRA contributions. My hope yesterday was to increase their self confidence that they are the caretakers ultimately of their destinies. They have a choice, they have the knowledge and the brilliance to decide and take action when these basic life skills perhaps have been put off into the we’ll get to this later as so often we hear.

My mission yesterday was to spark their minds to take action and learn new knowledge that propels them as women and mothers and colleagues so they ebb and flow in my workplace as the superchicks they are and will become. They may feel lucky to work for my company, but I am the lucky one because I get to wake up every single day and call my workplace my own with a team of women who I am so proud to call my employees. I know I make a difference and this is the most satisfying part of my personal existence. To serve. To inspire and to be charitable. #luckiestsuperchickever

smarter and more brilliant for sure.