Monday, October 31, 2011

Costume Changes

Ever notice what happens when people put on a costume? It doesn't matter how young or old they are, personalities shift. The range can be from thinking they have license to do all those things they would not do without the costume, to total discomfort and uncertainty as to who they are now supposed to be.

I thought about this whole thing when I was struggling to pull on the black vinyl catsuit I decided I wanted to wear for Halloween. I've no doubt the one wore by Catwoman was a lot more expensive than mine and therefore had a lot more flexibility. I'm also sure hers did not come with that delightful odor reserved for vinyl shower curtains. But once zipped up, I started to giggle. Not only did I look different,  I felt different. I was about to take on the persona of my costume. I wasn't going to the party as the writer, or business coach, or new novelist. I was going as someone different. And what I was wearing was making the difference.

The truth is we all wear a costume, everyday, regardless of whether it is Halloween or not.

I still have a closet full of suits that when I am forced to wear one, I look and feel like the corporate executive I spent many years playing, buttoned up, restrained, having to conform to the rules. I slip on my yoga pants and t-shirt and I am not just headed for the gym, but I am now in my writing costume, comfortable and flexible with which to stretch my creativity. Dinner with mom is not how I dress for dinner with a date. Two different costumes for two different personas. A pajama party with the girls is not the same costume of lingerie I might choose for a sleepover with my guy.

Why do we have these costume changes? To help shift us into the various roles we play in our lives. How many times have you walked in the door after an excruciatingly long day, aching to take off the costume you'd been playing your role in just so you could find the core of yourself again? Sometimes the costumes are fun and others might make you break out in a rash.

The roles you play in these costumes are not necessarily unauthentic. Just parts of who you are. Underneath all the layers, you are still you. The difference with Halloween is you get to be outlandish.

What's your Halloween costume? 
Do costume changes help you to shift into your various roles?

The Secrets They Kept is now available for sale on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes and other on-line booksellers.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Don't Call Me A Slasher !

They’re calling me a “slasher”. And I don’t like it. The word smacks of vampires and comic book villains.  Of which I am neither.

But then I am not much of one for labels in general. Labels denote black and white or red and blue status. Labels alienate. Labels imply there is no gray matter in the world. Labels are our culture’s attempt to fit into a box something that defies the status quo. If you don’t look like, think like, dress like or this case work like me we need to put a label on you.  Preferably something that insinuates just how different you are. Or maybe even squeezing in the labelers personal opinion about what they think of your choice.

Marci Alboher, author of the book One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success has coined this term for the growing number of individuals (myself included) who draw their income from more than one area of expertise. The slash apparently refers to the slash mark used to separate these different jobs. In my case, that would be Writer, Business Coach, Speaker and Author of The Secrets They Kept. Except that I do not use slash marks to separate these parts of my business. I prefer commas. On my business card, I have spaces. That’s the kind of girl I am. I pause. I don’t slash.
Yet “slasher” is the latest in a string of labels used for members of The Gig Economy, those who have opted out of the traditional 9 to 5 job culture. These independent workers, entrepreneurs, self-employed, sole proprietors, freelancers, consultants and now “slashers” earn their living from more than one source.  They are not beholden to one employer, but several. They can sleep until 10AM on a Monday morning and work until midnight on Saturday and no one will fire them as long as they complete their project. They don’t always know when their next check will come in, but they know it will. They plan their own days.  They are the boss of them. They are generally happy people working at what they like and if they are really lucky, passionate about.

All these labels assigned to classify someone who wasn’t riding an elevator to the same office every day used to terrify me when I was still firmly entrenched in my supposedly “secure” corporate job.  They all sounded too rebel like and unsafe. But then that is what labels are supposed to do. Scare. Keep people standing still and not upsetting the apple cart.  Especially when they sound as inviting as “slashers.”

Think about all the unappealing labels attributed when people, especially women break the status quo. A woman dating a younger man become a cougar. A woman marrying a man much older than herself becomes a trophy wife.  A woman owns her sexuality and is on her way to becoming a slut. In the not too distant past a woman who never married was called a spinster. A mother is only called a working mother if she is working outside the home. A woman who asserts herself in the business place and perhaps makes an unfavorable decision is a bitch. A woman who knows and asks for what she wants very specifically is considered high-maintenance.

Do something unconventional and we create a label that implies something is wrong.  

I hear the word “slasher” and I don’t think of a slash mark on my computer keyboard. I picture a dominatrix-like figure clad in leather and wielding knives as she cuts and slices her way to a paycheck.  That’s not how I see myself, not how I want to market myself to a new coaching client, not how I want the readers of my blog or my novel to view me.

I am guessing that Marci Alboher’s intention was not for “slasher” to conjure up an image of a trail of blood left in the slasher’s wake. But nevertheless it has. At least for me. That’s the trouble with labels. We don’t always know what their impact will be.

In case you were wondering I won’t be introducing myself as a “slasher” anytime soon. I don’t think it would be good for business. But I’m thinking it  might make a great Halloween costume!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No Excuses Not To Come Visit!

I first met Gloria Feldt at an 85Broads breakfast not long after I left the corporate world. I admit to being a bit intimidated. After all this was Gloria Feldt, best selling author, commentator, public speaker on women, feminism, politics, leadership, media and health. And did I mention former President and CEO of Planned Parenthood? How could I not be in awe? 

Gloria and I stay connected in that way that is only possible in the world of Twitter and Facebook. When No Excuses, 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power was published I was riveted. So much so that I wrote a blog on it suggesting, and I quote myself:

"Whether you lean left, right or in between, if you are a woman you should read this book."

What I have learned about Gloria is that she walks the walk. Gloria believes in women supporting women and demonstrates it in her generosity. When she heard I had chosen the non-traditional route of self-publishing she invited me to be featured on her 9 Ways Women Are Doing It blog. Which is where I am honored to be today. 

There is no excuse not to come join me! Just follow this link!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

While You Were Out

In case you haven't noticed we're living in a time where things are changing so fast that keeping up can be pretty exhausting. I needed to slow it down the other day and instead of completely shutting it all off,  I did something old fashioned and decided to read my print version of the New York Times instead of the one on my iPad.

I caught a little blurb in the sidebar,  that four new print magazines are launching next week that will advise business owners how to use social media tools. I know it sounds funny, doesn't it?  Starting new print outlets in this age where supposedly that is dying as fast and furious as the trees used to make the paper.  And all with the purpose of teaching ( translate: making money off of)  those companies that haven't been paying attention the last three years how to use use platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google and LinkedIn to their benefit.  But apparently, it's true.

The owners, GSG World Media have a website with a big headline "social media's about to get down to business" that I am sure will be chock full of all those things that new media marketers have been talking about on their blogs and in teleseminars for free the last few years while those companies were out doing something else, diverting their attention to things like downsizing their organizations and I am sure hoping this social media thing was just a passing fad.

That's  what happens when real change abounds. The majority of us tune it out, hope it goes away and long for the good ol'days when you didn't worry so much when you left your office about all the "stuff" you would come back to. A time when things like phone messages were written on a pink slip of paper by a human being and email was barely a glimmer in someone's eye.

But sometimes the noise gets too loud and we are forced to pay attention. Sometimes that leaves us behind the eight ball or in this case with the option of paying $7.95 a publication at your local Office Depot.

I am the first to tell you social media will not replace and make extinct all other forms of media, just like FM radio in the eighties did not make AM stations go away nor did cable make people stop watching broadcast. The pie just became more fragmented. Instead of indulging on one big wedge of apple crumb, you can have a sliver and still have room to try the blueberry and the pecan if that is your taste, never changing your caloric intake. Or like me, you can embrace the change, mix up scrolling on your iPad with some good old fashioned newsprint on your fingers  while you search the sidebars for interesting tidbits with which to write a blog.

How do you react to change?
Do you wait until you have to adapt or are you an early embracer?

BTW...Have I mentioned my debut novel, The Secrets They Kept is now available on Amazon AND Barnes and Noble in print and e-book! And please, feel free to use your social media of choice to help spread the word and the book sales! 

Friday, October 14, 2011


Having never had children I don't know from personal experience what happens in those first weeks after giving birth. But I'd think there are some similarities to what I've been feeling since The Secrets They Kept was published. This book after all, was my baby. Instead of nine months, it took seven years.  Seven years of attachment in some form to this story and these characters I had invented, fed and nurtured, breathed life into, let rest for awhile and nurtured some more. And then with a press of a button on a keyboard the placenta is broken and I am detached.

But not really. What mother gives birth to a child and stays separated? 

And then there are all those questions crowding my mind and vying for attention.  Like what do I do now?  I can't leave this thing sitting on a web page on Amazon by itself and think it will survive?   Is it going to be a healthy child or sickly? Why has it taken so long for Smashwords to send files to Barnes and Noble and iTunes? Will it live to a good old age or die young? And then the really big question, am I actually ready to be a mother, I mean published author? No matter. It's too late now to debate. There is a newborn book who needs me.

The book needs press and reviews that will translate into sales. It needs me to guest post and be interviewed to spread the news of its arrival. There is no nanny in the form of a Big Six marketing budget, just me, the birth mother, with a little  help from Facebook,Twitter and her friends, trying to wash away the afterbirth and get on with the business of making sure this baby book lives a healthy, happy and long life.

After all, that's all any mother wants for her child.

Check out  my first Amazon review in which The Secrets They Kept was called an "Excellent Debut Novel!"

Friday, October 7, 2011

Walking The Walk

I keep thinking there is something I want to write about Steve Jobs and then I look around and I see the airwaves, the papers, the Internet, flooded with conversation and commentary and I wonder what I could possibly say that hasn't been said already, what I could add that would give a fresh perspective.

And so until now I haven't. I've let everyone else speak. But this morning I remembered why I write. It is not necessarily the story itself but it is how it is told. And it is our own unique voices that make all the difference.

Steve Jobs' voice was unique. His story engages us all. He did what so many of us want to do but are afraid to. He followed his heart and his intuition. He went against conventional thought.  He let his passion direct his path, not where he thought there might be money. He demonstrated what can happen when you do that. He literally changed the world and from that the bonus was a financially abundant life. But Steve told the world he never did it for the money. That is so contradictory to the thought process that dominates today's corporate culture. And yet it worked, and brilliantly!

You never hear people complaining about working for Apple. In fact, go into any Apple store and people are happily waiting to help you. That passion that Steve Jobs had for the product miraculously makes it all the way to the person sitting at the Genius Bar. Encouraging creativity, thinking out of the box, establishing an environment that people want to come work in, this is not the way of most business environments today. Yet Steve Jobs proved it can work and be profitable at the same time. That's a concept that is as innovative as the iPhone was in 2007.

I commented on Facebook the other day that the world has lost a bright light in Steve Jobs. I'll now add that because of the way he chose to live his life, that light will shine on into eternity. He changed the way we use technology. He made it fun and colorful and easy. He encouraged us all to follow our heart and our intuition. And he did more than talk the talk. He walked the walk. The only gift he was not blessed with was the length of time in which to do that.

I don't know if my thoughts add any freshness or insight to what has already been said, but it doesn't matter. I am listening to Steve Jobs today. I am not waiting for someone else to say it for me or assuming someone else will say it as well. If Steve had waited who knows what our world would like.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

On The Radio

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Kelley Connors, host of  Real Women on Health on BlogTalk Radio today. If you missed the show and would like to listen in on what we talked about, just press play for the podcast. The topics ranged from my eclectic media consumption to how I came to write The Secrets They Kept. Thanks to Kelley for the invitation!

Listen to internet radio with kelleyconnors on Blog Talk Radio