Good luck to Advice Guru Bette Alkazian!

My colleague and friend Bette Alkazian of Balanced Parenting is one of the ten finalists for Good Morning America’s Search for the Next Advice Guru. I couldn’t be happier for her and wish her luck! If you haven’t checked out her sample advice (and voted for it, of course) please check her out and vote accordingly! CLICK HERE.

The best thing about satellite radio…

Is two continuous channels of holiday music!  Yes, this nice Jewish girl has always had a thing for Christmas music, both the classic Burl Ives type stuff as well as the new Santa Baby kind of stuff.  It just makes me happy for one month of the year.  I’ve even been known to subject my fitness classes to step music just for the holidays.  But since I’m not teaching right now, my car radio has become my best friend.  Traditional Classics or Holly.  I arrive everywhere humming goofy music and smiling.

Are holiday cards defunct?

We had a professional photographer come out to the house a few weeks back to shoot our little family photo (particularly momentous for the removal of my teenager’s braces!).  I went to upload the photos to one of those card-making sites when I paused.  And I thought:  most of the families on my holiday list are also my Facebook friends.  Why not just post the photos there?  I have never been one of those long annual family letter writers (though don’t get me wrong, I adore getting them from those brave souls who do venture to write them!)  Is it worthwhile to just send a photo of my little family with some holiday/New Year greetings?  Is it a waste of time and money (and environmentally unsound?)  Or is it a welcome tradition that people would miss if I didn’t do it?  Editor’s note:  we did not send cards last year because we’d just had our daughter’ bat mitzvah and had been in touch with all the important people already.  So do I break the chain and just not bother?  Do people still like getting them?

The Power of Masterminding

Back in California for a short, extremely packed week of friends, family and work I was able to get my old Mastermind group together for one of their regular monthly breakfasts today.

I was the initiator of this group 18 or so months ago and I am pleased (though somewhat saddened) that they continue strong without me. In my few months away I had really missed their valued input and ideas. These smart, trusted business people are all out pursuing their own ventures but for this one meeting per month, they can be the source of honest feedback and real listening that is so hard to get any other way. Because we all know each other so well, there’s none of that introduction, networking stuff that inevitably takes place at most “networking” meetings. These sessions get right down to brass tacks…how is it going and how can we help you?

I did a webinar for Practice Pay Solutions eUniversity last week with colleague Cheri Ruskus last week where she talked about her specialized sort of Mastermind groups for women called Victory Circles. (Catch the video here if you want to watch for yourself.) Cheri’s groups focus on one of Napoleon Hill’s Mastermind Principles and have a real structure and accountability element built in.  Worth checking out.

If you are feeling isolated in your small business, consider Masterminding.  I highly recommend it and want to publicly thank Bill, Bette, Michelle and Tracie for being my Masterminds!

What is with all that spam?

Just went to comb through my blog comments and I have to ask…does every blogger have to deal with hundreds of spam contributions?  In the latest batch, I found several in Hebrew (which I can assure you I cannot read), promos for Acai berries, student loans, adult products of many sorts, Internet money-making schemes, web design programs, sunglasses and one to Free The Seals.  Is there an advisor somewhere that tells people to generate all these bogus posts in hopes that they will slip by the blog author and get posted so they’ll get more traction for their own products and programs?  Almost all of them are gibberish, many of them identical gibberish.  I have to assume they are not being submitted by individuals who actually read and process the content of the website or blog because there is absolutely no reference to the topics I talk about.  Strange stuff.  Are there real people out there?  Hellooooo?

Good to meet you. Where did you go to school?

Finally getting myself out and about in Baltimore and meeting people—business meetings, networking, etc…plus just getting to know the neighbors, having my cousins over for a barbecue.  I am just starting to understand the culture of this place:  when someone asks where you went to school, they mean your high school.  Yes, your high school.  Baltimore folks make sense of who you are by relating it to what prep school you went to.  Since I didn’t grow up here, they have to make do with proxies:  my dad went to City College (which apparently means smart working-class boy who wants to make something of himself) and my daughter is starting at The Friends School (which seems to indicate respectful, socially responsible but still smart).  She applied and also got into The Park School (lefty/liberal) and Bryn Mawr (all-girls, terribly exclusive, dahling) and when she picked Friends we had no idea the bigger implications of it as a social statement.  This is a whole new world to me.  Everywhere else I have lived had much more transient populations (Boston, New York, Southern California) and no one shared enough history for this kind of thing to make sense.  Is this high school as social statement thing common elsewhere or is it just a Baltimore thing?

Coach, Consultant, Advisor?

The most recent issue of Choice magazine (published by my buddy Garry Schleifer, focused on coaches and the coaching industry) focused on the concept of coach vs. consultant.  Got me thinking about which I am.  I call myself a Business Coach, but it is probably more accurate to say that I am a Small Business Consultant.   Or maybe an Advisor.  Something that is a hybrid, but probably leaning toward consulting.

A very fine line, but my understanding of the difference is that a coach does not offer solutions to problems, but instead encourages the clients to find answers on their own.

Seems to me that my clients want my actual help and insight into solving the problems by using my creativity and business knowledge and acumen so they can leapfrog ahead.  For entrepreneurs it can be  costly and time-consuming to muddle through until they reach the Aha Moments.  If the person they are paying to help them can get them where they want to go faster…why wouldn’t they want that help?

I totally get that in a Life Coaching type of situation, you must reach your own conclusions and figure out how to navigate personal issues and human relationships yourself…so coaching makes perfect sense in that context.  But business is about making money.  (Isn’t it?!)  So there are principles and proven strategies that an entrepreneur can implement without reinventing wheels.

Maybe it’s time to rebrand as a Consultant/Advisor?

Welcome to Baltimore!

One of my very favorite things about my new home here in Baltimore is that you can hear the church bells chiming at every hour (I think).  Right now it is noon on my first official workday here in Charm City and I believe I am hearing the bells from the Baltimore Cathedral.  Other than that, I’ve been holed up in my thankfully air-conditioned house unpacking boxes (it’s like a treasure hunt for your own possessions!) and trying to catch up on a backlog of work.  Luckily the cats have settled in and we’re getting used to the new routines and rituals associated with a new house.  So far, so good.  Pleased to hear from so many old friends, clients and colleagues in the Baltimore/Washington corridor who want to hook up.  Feeling very welcomed.

I miss you all already.

I finally went public with the big news that I am moving to Baltimore at the end of this month.  I just slipped it into my monthly business building newsletter and the outpouring from many of you has been so heartwarming.  I’ve heard from many of the Southern California business owners and clients I’ve worked with in the eight plus years I’ve lived here.  Many of you reminded me of projects, events and groups from many years ago.  It is so easy to forget how many people we touch every day and how your impact can remain even long after you’ve lost daily touch with each person.  I am not moving until the end of the month, but all of your touching messages make me miss SoCal already!

Sometimes you’ve got to throw away your prepared remarks…

Did a wonderful, meaty little presentation/impromptu mastermind session this morning at my colleague Jacque Mills’ spa, Soft Touch Beauty Solutions.  For the month of May, she’s hosting various speakers in her spa and I was scheduled to talk this morning about Women and Starting Up Your Own Business.  When every woman who attended (and thank you to all of you for coming!) turned out to already have businesses started up, I tossed out my talk.  Instead, we all participated in a spontaneous business coaching/mastermind, brainstorming ideas for each other and helping get each woman to get a handle on her current business issues/dilemmas.  What fun for me, I think they enjoyed it too!