Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Health Insurance Hindrance To Creating New Jobs

Health Insurance is one of the biggest reasons many don't take the risk and create their own dream job. It is a question I got from the minute I decided not to seek another job in Corporate America. What was I going to do about Health insurance? How was I going to afford that big expense without a major company subsidizing me?

I had my Cobra to delay that decision. But now with just a few days before that runs out I understand more those concerns. It's not enough to make me run back to an office of glass and steel. I'm still sticking to my plan. I found a decent policy with its requisite high deductible and high premiums. But it does make me wonder.

If something tangible was actually done in the next day or so at the Obama Health Summit. If the concept of compromise is demonstrated and real steps towards enacting health care reform were achieved. Something that would target the insurance companies and make health care more affordable and more accessible, just how many more people might create their own new jobs and take a leap toward their passion? And if that happened how many of those entrepreneurs might be successful enough that eventually they would hire more people to work for them, creating even more jobs? Could health care reform be its own brand of job stimulus?

If you were not concerned about Health Care, what sort of an entrepreneur might you be?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tiger Woods: A Reinvention In Progress

I didn't watch but a few minutes of Friday's press conference but I did read the transcript posted on Tiger Woods website. It seems he is ready to start his reinvention.

The reinvention might not have had to be so drastic had he taken a tip from David Letterman and spoken when he knew the press was on to his string of mistresses rather than leave it to the media and the public to piece it all together. But he didn't. He let the press and the Internet take control. What might have been a left turn down a one way street became a 14 car pile up.

Now he has his work cut out for him. His reinvention will have to be around the Tiger Woods brand. He is no longer who we all thought him to be. He is still arguably the greatest golfer we have ever known, but it's the image of the person inside that has been destroyed.

I believe in redemption. I believe we can change. I believe that will be his angle.

He stated it was not about your accomplishments in life but about "what you overcome." There is that redemption theme.

He also remarked that he will continue to "receive help" because he has learned that is how people change. I'm with Tiger. Reinvention requires help. Should I let him know I coach reinvention?

And my favorite, his apology will come " not in the form of words, it will come from my behavior over time." This is key. The world we live in does not allow for privacy as it has in the past. While that is disconcerting to many, I think one of the pluses is it requires us to live with integrity or be found out. It is too difficult to create a public persona that is a sham. We live in a world obsessed with flaws. Too many will be on the lookout to see if the flaws win or if he does. Every step he takes will be documented.

I don't think Tiger ever consciously created the persona he had. That he could "do no wrong" image. It fell to him because of his skill as a golfer. And he let everyone think it was his truth. Maybe that was part of the problem. He was only living his truth on the course, but never off of it. Now he has a chance to prove he can use the integrity he owns as a golfer as he reinvents not just the image we have of him personally, but the life itself.

I don't condone what he did but I do believe in redemption. This is a win I'd like to see.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Is Work A Four Letter Word?

I had a boss once who when he wanted to convey how serious he was he would remind the staff we were at work. This conversation would usually ensue if he noticed that too many of us looked like we were having a good time. His point was that if we were really working, we wouldn't be having any fun. Work was not to be thought of as enjoyable. That's why they called it work, he told us. If it wasn't they would call it play.

Work takes on a negative connotation in the contrast of play. Work becomes tiring and boring. It becomes something we have to do and not something we want to do. We sludge through to get it done so we can go play later. It's what happens Monday through Friday in specified hours. Work now and play later. Forget any enjoyment. No smiles, please. Who really wants to work anyway? Work becomes a four letter word.

But then, so is Play. And if you are working at what you love or at the very least love what you are working, the lines get pretty blurred. You still can feel the euphoria of Friday and the break of a weekend ahead, but you're not going to dread Monday morning. Or if you're like me you might occasionally do your work all day Sunday and take Tuesday as a rest day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Searching For A Smile In The Crowd

I admit that it is not often that I start my day with a trip to the gym. But I did this morning. Out the door by 7AM and waiting for the elevator. I wasn't expecting company when the doors opened. I smiled and waited. No one moved. No one smiled back. In fact the man reading his paper did not even look up.

I felt the shock I get when I step for a few moments into that world I once inhabited. The one that has you racing from the minute the alarm goes off. People in suits, looking down, not up, immersed in newsprint or mobile devices. Strangers crowded into elevators ignoring each other and not smiling.

The streets were already pretty full of more of the same. Everyone with the same flat expression on their face. Most multi tasking, no one smiling. And trust me I tried to get a few too.

But what I noticed more than the lack of lips curving upward, was the look of unhappiness that seemed prevalent. Yes, it was cold and blustery out. Yes there was fresh ice on the ground to navigate. But no one look enthused. No one looked happy to get where they were going. No one exuded any joy. And believe me I was looking for it, that one pair of eyes that might have the slightest glimmer of a twinkle.

The gym wasn't much different. I wondered if it was the morning? Is that the real test for how happy you are to be working whatever your job is? Is it morning where you can't pretend ? The effort to get up and out of bed enough energy spent already that there is no more to mask? Or are there just that many people unhappy? And if that is true, why aren't more doing anything about it?

I know the list of things that hold them back. This morning I was quite happy to have shredded mine. I was excited to get back home, ready to sit at my desk and get some work done. As the Universe would deem it, once in the doors to my lobby I found a smile. From my doorman.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Slippery Patches

They're always there. Slippery patches. If you want change in your life they are bound to show up. Sometimes expected. Sometimes they catch you off guard.

Take Monday. I went for 3 mile walk in Central Park . The drives have been clean of snow for days so sneakers do just fine. My general route has me crossing West to East at the Reservoir. I noticed as I approached the track that it was still snow covered. I could have turned around and gone back the way I came. But I didn't. Even in my sneakers with no traction. The day was too glorious. Bright sunshine, blue sky and lots of still white snow on the trees and lawn.

But it did slow me down. That's what happens when things get a little slippery. You slow down. You try not to think about falling. You search out the parts that look a little shiny, the ones that are truly ice. You try to avoid those. You could slip on those. Fall. Hurt yourself . Worry you might not be able to get back up. Fear finds its way into what had been a pleasant, invigorating power walk listening to the Black Eye Peas.

As I navigated my way to the other side, catching myself more than once as my foot got away from me I thought about the fear I could let overtake me. Fear that could have me holding on to the tree branches that line the perimeter. The fear that used to paralyze me on a steep slope on Aspen Mountain. In one moment I would forget I knew how to ski. Too terrified to move, I would stop, look down and fear what would happen if the icy slope proved too much for me and I went spiraling out of control.

The same fear one encounters when reinventing. Fear of something going wrong, fear of failure or perhaps even fear of success. The fear never goes away. The slippery patches never disappear. It's just whether you choose to giggle at them as I did on my walk, demonstrate whose in charge or let the fear win. Your choice. But if you can't laugh, reinvention is not a route I recommend.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Secret Love

In honor of Valentine's Day I thought I would let you in on a secret love of mine. It's been going on for a while. Just eight years in March. I was reluctant at first. But that is true of a lot of what you love isn't it? Resistance to the very thing your heart is yearning to open to.

I didn't really like the way my love looked at first. Too retro. And cheap. How could I really love something that was so cheap?

But I pushed past. With some effort I listened to my heart. I followed the direction of Sonia Pilcer. She was teaching the class I was taking at the Writer's Voice at the West Side Y. She told me I needed a notebook. Not a fancy leather bound journal type of notebook and definitely not anything with a spiral. That would be too easy to tear out pages and throw them away. The simple kind. The one you had in the first grade that you learned to write the alphabet in. The kind with the black and white marble cover that said Composition.

It was in my first Composition book I owned since elementary school that I created the character of Elena who became the protagonist for my first novel. I filled two more when I wrote the Seduction of Darlene. I have another pair of new blank ones sitting on my desk right now for projects I just got the ideas for. Each fresh white page is ready for me to fill with my notes, snippets of sentences and scenes, or the visage of a new character. I've come to love the retro feel of it. It reminds me of the excitement and anticipation a clean empty page brought me as a kid, instead of the fear it can sometimes elicit as an adult writer.

Yes, on Valentine's Day 2010 I confess to my secret love. I sit amongst piles of them now. Some full, others with much left to write. My silly little Marble Composition books that cost no more than two bucks are always my first sign of commitment to an idea I have. They are also my reminder that you are never really sure where you might find love. It can surprise you.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Jobs Of The Damned

Anyone who has ever worked a job has a story. At least one worth telling. Whether it is the worst boss you ever encountered or the most bizarre situation you ever found yourself witness to. Every office, every workplace is teeming with the tales. Here's your chance to tell yours.

Jobs Of The Damned is not your average writing contest. Now through May 2, 2010. you can submit your story. There are cash prizes and weekly winners plus the chance to be published in the Jobs of the Damned anthology. Unlike many writing contests, you can check in daily to read that submissions for that week, plus you get to vote on your favorites.

Jobs of the Damned is a cross platform publishing venture initiated by Heliotrope Books. All of the details are on the site including a provision for you to submit your entry anonymously. Whether you are a writer or just an employee with a good story to share this looks to be a lot of fun. Jobs of the Damned is relying on viral marketing and the power of the Internet to elicit entries, so please, spread the word!
In interest of full disclosure, yes, I have been invited to be one of the panel of judges.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Resistance Lives

The word keeps popping up everywhere I go. Resistance. So it shouldn't really surprise me that when I heard my crush, Seth Godin was going to be at Borders at Columbus Circle with some other writer, that person turned out to be Steven Pressfield, the author of The War of Art.

The Universe is like that. When it wants to make its point, it keeps hitting you over the head.

The concept of The Resistance is what The War of Art is all about. I admit, I would never have picked up a book with War in the title. I'm just not drawn to those stories. But after listening to Seth Godin and Steven Pressfield engage in a lively, poignant and for me timely discussion about The Resistance I took a copy of this slim book home with me. And yes, I read it in its entirety.

When Seth refers to Art in Linchpin, he stretches the word beyond the traditional definition. Steven Pressfield speaks to Art in reference to his own writing. The common thread is that no matter how you define Art, Resistance to it will be there. Every day. Resistance to doing the Work. And without the Work there is no Art.

I have been resisting my Work. As I am getting all the details together for my coaching practice, my fiction has taken a back seat. The conversation in my head has been going something like this. Is the coaching taking away from writing ? And if it is, am I using it as a form of resistance? Should I not coach? But I want to coach. I like helping people. I feel that pull in the same way I feel pulled to write. I'll write later, after I get this page finished. But not a page is finished yet. Not the coaching page for my site or a page of fiction. No Art. Of any kind.

It's been a heated discussion. The Resistance morphed itself in the form of the debate and endless chatter in my mind. The Resistance has been winning, coming up with all sorts of reasons not to sit down and do The Work.

I never expected all this Resistance. I imagined when I was still handcuffed to the chair of my Corporate office that when I was on my own there would be no Resistance. But that was because I saw the Resistance as someone or something other than me. When the truth is The Resistance is my own terrorist plot, one that lives inside trying to stop me from doing my Work. Somedays the security level is on high. Somedays less. But there is never a day, where it's threat does not exist. It's just up to me to be on alert.

Woody Allen said "Eighty percent of success is showing up" He left out the part that once you show up, you have to sit down and do the Work. That is if you want to create Art.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Courageous Or Crazy ?

At lunch on Friday a friend remarked to me that what I was doing was courageous. It wasn't the first time someone has said that to me. I shrugged my shoulders. Because quite frankly I don't see myself as courageous.

Now tell me you think I'm crazy and I'm sure to nod my head yes. Some days I think I am out of my mind to have chosen this point and time, the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression to start over and launch a new career. But courageous ? Not through my eyes.

To me courageous is how I describe the members of our armed forces who are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Courageous is what Rosa Parks did when she refused to give up her seat on the bus. Courageous is what the NYFD does every day when they run into burning buildings and risk their own lives to save others.

Merriam Webster defines courage as having the "mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty". OK, so I am venturing and it does require mental strength to persevere. But courage sounds like a much bigger word to me than simply taking a risk. Courage sounds like something larger than who I am and what I am doing.

I didn't feel courageous when I left teaching to get into radio sales. I didn't find anything particular brave about my actions when I moved to DC for a promotion or back to NYC to sell cable. People thought I was courageous then too. I only remember moments of thinking I was completely insane. Those times when I wondered why I had left the predictable and comfortable for the unknown. And now looking back I suppose I can see how that too was perceived as courageous.

Maybe part of being courageous is not being aware of it at the time. Which is probably a little insane itself. Whatever the risk you choose, there is no place or time to get caught up in how brave you are. You just do. You put one foot in front of the other and you expect to win. You don't allow yourself to entertain the thought there might be any other outcome. If you feel your courage fully, you might also feel your fear.

So maybe I am both. Crazy and courageous. Maybe that's the way it's supposed to be. How courageous can you really be if you're also not a little bit crazy ?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Weekend Reads

If you are looking for a great read this weekend, something that will make you glad it is cold outside and not care if it snows a foot, pick up a copy of Sarah's Key. It's rare that I find myself with a book that is so good, I just cannot put it down. The kind of story that keeps me up late and has me abandoning all other reading and my own writing. Sarah's Key is that kind of story.

The author, Tatiana De Rosnay takes a factual event, the Vel'd'Hiv' roundup that took place on July 16, 1942 and weaves it into a fascinating work of fiction which finds its way into the present day.

The Vel'd'Hiv' roundup is considered a black mark in French history. On that day French police, acting under orders from the German Gestapo forced thousands of Jewish men, women and children from their homes, most, ultimately to their death. The author takes you back and forth from 1942 to modern day Paris in a page turning story that will leave you wanting another chapter.

It is no wonder that Tatiana De Rosnay is considered one of the top ten fiction authors in Europe. Sarah's Key is an international bestseller and has sold over a million copies to date, a slow but steady climb up the lists. She is the kind of author that inspires me to write.

For the record I am not the least suspcious how this book is selling so well. The reason is pretty simple. It is good story, brilliantly written. It can be that easy.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Just For Fun

Yes, I suppose it sounds silly. But this is how writers can get sidetracked when they sit down in front of the computer. One minute you are just checking the comment section on your own blog and the next you are taking on a blog challenge. It is actually quite fun. The challenge is to fill in after the words in bold below. I'm calling it this morning's writing practice. If you'd like to join in or take the challenge yourself visit Female2Female.

If I could dance right now, I would call up my favorite dance instructor Alex Tchassov and see if I could book a session this morning.

In my kitchen cupboard is extra virgin olive oil, a box of whole wheat linguine and more vitamin supplements than I can count.
On my desk are piles of notebooks, one for each project, my gratitude candle and a big mug of coffee.
Image in my head is of the East End of Long Island in July, a perfect beach day, sun warm, but not scorching, the sky blue, just enough of a breeze that it makes me never want to leave.

In the middle of my to do list is what is at the beginning and the end, writing projects.

I am dreading getting my taxes organized.
Right now I want to be sitting in a romantic cafe in Paris.
I think that I am a pretty lucky woman that I can justify a blog challenge as good writing practice!

Going to write something brilliant today! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sometimes I Know Too Much

Sometimes I know too much. I am not just a writer lost in the world of my characters. I have spent twenty five years selling advertising, immersed in the ways of the media. I understand spin and the manipulation of numbers to create sensation. It can make one cynical.

It is also why I have been so perplexed by the way Sarah Palin's book Going Rogue shot to the top of the bestseller list so quickly. Yes, I understand why she made Barbara Walter's list of the most fascinating people of 2009. Whether you like her or not, who can deny she is an interesting character ?

Still it seemed a little strange to me. I do not personally know anyone who bought or would buy the book. But then I live in New York, hardly what would fall into the category of the "Real America." I didn't want to think what my marketing mind kept suggesting. That perhaps someone might have bought bulk copies to inflate those sales figures.

Yes, those things do occur. Like it or not, those with deep pockets can aide in the sales of almost anything. The result being media spin that the product is the next hot thing.

So I wasn't that surprised when I read that Sarah Palin's very own PAC disclosed that they bought copies to provide to her supporters. According to the LA Times, it is difficult to ascertain how many copies the reported $63,000 got them. It all depends on whether they paid full price at $28.99 or the deep discount of $9.99 offered at Amazon and Walmart.

It doesn't matter. In either case, it certainly wasn't enough to skyrocket the book to that #1 slot at Amazon she held. And it wasn't enough to hold her. Going Rogue is now # 60. But it does get you wondering.

Monday, February 1, 2010

On Lizard Brains And Shipping

"Real artists ship." That is a quote from Seth Godin in his latest book Linchpin. I talked about my crush on Seth a few weeks ago. But can you blame me? This guy always gets me thinking.

Depending on your art, shipping can mean a lot of things. As a blogger, it means hitting the publish button. My last blog was January 28. I haven't been shipping. Mostly because the lizard brain has crept into my psyche and has been refusing to keep his voice quiet. You might think that voice would get me writing and shipping, but it hasn't. The lizard brain is the fearful part of me. The one who worries about money and success and things like that. You would think that would get me moving. But it has done just the opposite. When the lizard brain gets noisy it evokes in me a semi state of inertia. I am not completely frozen. I am wandering, from project to project, completing nothing.

Everything I want to do is swirling around in my head, manifesting the last few days in opened and minimized documents on my computer screen and piling up around my feet in the form of notebooks, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, half read books and health insurance plans. No shipping. Which as a writer makes me question whether I am truly an artist. For if real artists ship, what have I been doing the last few days. Pretending to be an artist? This is my lizard brain in action. Questioning everything and getting no movement.

OK, so if you have not read Linchpin, and again I highly recommend you do, you are wondering what exactly a lizard brain is. The lizard brain is also known as The Resistance. For me it's been manifesting in writer's block.

I decided to stop this morning and read that chapter on The Resistance in Seth's book. I struggled with my decision, because reading instead of shipping didn't make logical sense. I didn't know at the time that I was actually taking control of my lizard. You see according to Seth, the lizard brain will tell you not to do that. Read. The lizard brain thinks reading books that might make a difference is a waste of time.

The lizard brain is wrong. Taking a moment to do something useful , like reading Linchpin, can have profound effects. It got me to ship something today.