Yesterday I was conducting one of my group book mentoring calls with a group of eager, enthusiastic, aspiring book authors. One member of the group told me he was ready to write the introduction to his book. I was stunned. Its two and a half months in to a six month program. I thought – why hasn’t he written his intro already?
I had to get to the bottom of what was going on and help him move forward.
Generally when you haven’t dug in yet – it’s possible it’s an issue of time management. You simply haven’t sat down and communicated the ideas out of your head and onto the ‘puter screen. Often the challenge is you don’t have a good idea yet for that part of the book. Why waste valuable time sitting down to write when you don’t have a good idea?
You may protest and say, “But Denise, I’m so crazy busy I haven’t had time.” Usually I discover the person hasn’t made the time because he or she is unsure where to go next. You don’t have the next great idea. Yet.
I was surprised with this particular writer. From the first time I spoke with Bill it seemed like he was incredibly clear about the message of his personal growth book. From Day One I’ve agreed with him he’s on track with his overall message. I still feel his topic is an excellent fit with the focus of his successful business. It will dovetail nicely, help position him as an expert and bring new clients his way. He’s ready for that success and elevated credibility as an expert. I’m honored to be helping him and all the people in my groups. He was stymied about how to execute that message.
He told me, “It’s just a matter of sitting down and knocking it out.”
Whenever I hear a sentence that begins with “It’s just a matter of…” I’ve learned most of the time there’s more to it. There’s something in the way. There’s “matter.” Matter is weighty stuff. It gets in the way of moving forward.
If this describes you, it’s possible you haven’t have put your finger on the obstacle yet. Often the best relief for the “matter” that gets in the way (for all of us) is coming up with a good idea. Once again you’re propelled forward, writing happily. How do you come up with that next great idea? If you’re in my program you throw it out there on our live group calls twice a month. If you feel “stuck” you share it on our once a month bonus call. I can help undo the logjam. That’s what I do.
In Bill’s case I knew something was blocking him from getting his introduction done. It’s my job to help unravel whatever is in the way so he can get his introduction done and move on to the next chapters.
Many writers believe to get inspired and keep writing, the heavens open and these gorgeous rays of sunlight spill down upon us and God speaks and bingo – we’re inspired and we know what to do to keep writing amazing prose and finish the next chapter and then on to finish the entire book. Or, we’ll research online and the perfect idea will appear on our screen. Or, we’ll be talking with a friend, or, out for our morning walk enjoying nature and the perfect idea will pop into our consciousness.
It happens. Sometimes.
However, more often when we sit down and write the perfect idea comes to us and flows through our brain, down our arms and into our hands. Then our fingertips dance across the keyboard and BAM – inspiration. Surprisingly, what most people don’t realize is that when they sit down to write – the first thoughts that come through usually aren’t the best ones. Not yet.
In fact, I generally suggest you plan on deleting the first few paragraphs because they won’t be your most brilliant. I learned this way back in college. If you’re patient and keep writing – the good stuff will come. Before you know it you’ll be smiling to yourself saying, “This is GOOD!” and know this is why you love to write and why you’re excited about getting your book done.
Save deleted stuff, by the way. Later, it could spin into a great article, a speech topic or perhaps it belongs in another chapter later in your book.
Inspiration for many, many writers is a function of sitting down to write. Look at your book outline and decide to write on the topic that gets your heart racing slightly. Or start writing on the topic that intrigues you most. Face that blank page and start pouring out your thoughts onto the computer screen.
I guarantee – the first sentences and paragraphs you write won’t be all that and a bag of chips. If you keep with it though, the inspired, clever, thoughtful – and yes I’ll say it – BRILLIANT thoughts will come. Be patient. Stay with it.
We live in an immediate gratification world. The fastest technology on the planet won’t help you pull great ideas out of your brain any faster. If you will simply clear your mind of distractions, be patient with yourself and simply sit down to write – it will come to you. The “matter” will gently move out of the way and you will be delighted with the amazing thoughts you will write that will help readers everywhere when they get their hands on your book.
Denise Michaels is C.E.O. and Founder of the “International Book Writing Guild.” She leads group book mentoring programs for writers of how-to and personal growth books. For more information contact her on Facebook or email her at email@example.com Website coming soon.
I say this because many people who have always been considered as the “establishment” are now in a minority. A difficult concept for those folks to grasp. They believe they have always been in the right and that would never change. In their minds minorities, gays, women, Latinos and other groups would continue to live on the fringes of our American adventure.
Many pundits prognosticated the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency four years ago was about Americans getting swept up in the “magic” of the historic first African-American to occupy the Oval Office. They mistakenly thought four years later we would take off the rose-colored glasses. They thought it would be easy to unseat a President who didn’t appear “traditionally Presidential” with a candidate who did. Besides no president since Roosevelt has won re-election with unemployment figures over 7.4 percent. They felt his points of view were a little too this or too that and the more conventional guy backed by big money would get swept right back into office. They believed the job was Romney’s for the taking.
Truth is, we never were wearing rose-colored glasses in the first place. This is how we see America and what we want. We want a country where Americans aren’t obstructed from voting. We want an America that’s inclusive. We want an America where women can make their own health care choices and people can love and marry who they want. We want an America that spends less – but makes those tough decisions putting everything on the plate – including the military budget.
They expected Romney’s sweep into the Oval Office even though he wouldn’t submit tax returns, has secret accounts in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland. Even though he lied about Obama’s record. Even though he made those scurrilous comments about the 47 percent and ran patently false ads about Chrysler’s Jeep division after Chrysler said the ads amounted to fantasizing and untruths.
Romney lost in his home states. In Massachusetts, the only state where he’s held political office, he lost by 23 points. In Michigan where he grew up and his Father was a popular three-term Governor, he lost. In California and New Hampshire where he owns homes, he lost. VP sidekick Paul Ryan didn’t help the GOP ticket pick up Wisconsin, either. Wisconsin went to Obama.
What the uber-conservatives failed to see is the demographics of our American landscape have changed dramatically over the last generation. The mostly white “establishment” who thinks in lockstep and always thought everyone else would too - got a spanking yesterday.
I feel a little sad for them (not much – just a little) because they live in a bubble. I’m talking about the arch-conservatives who only talk with each other. They only get their news from the conservative right. They honestly don’t know what’s happening with real Americans which represents a myriad of colors, faiths, lifestyles and belief systems. They’re clueless as to who and what the “average American” is about in 2012.
The world has changed.
Geez, how many times have I typed or uttered that sentence in the last couple years?
The America Mitt Romney wanted to lead doesn’t exist as it used to exist. At least not in enough numbers to win the Presidency any longer.
One Democrat Strategist said, “They’re living in a ‘Mad Men’ mindset in a ‘Modern Family’ world.”
When Senatorial candidates Akin of Missouri and Mourdock of Indiana talked about the horror of rape in a shockingly insensitive way women and men said, “No more.” Women Senators will sit in those seats instead for the next six years. In fact, for the first time we will now have 20 women in the US Senate, 17 Democrats and three Republicans.
Unfortunately the GOP thought they still could win with this kind of knuckle-draggin’ Neanderthal senate candidate. When conservative shock jock Rush Limbaugh called a female law student a “slut” last year for expressing her point of view on making contraception available, people from both genders remembered that intolerance in the voting booth.
That’s perfectly okay in the GOP playbook. Americans, mostly women and some men too said, “No effing way.”
Thank goodness tough guy, “my way or the highway” politics of the establishment are going the way of the dodo bird. Our democracy is truly becoming more representative of our nation.
Halloween is over so we can’t be overly annoyed with the Christmas merchandise that’s been in stores for a month now, and, the holiday tunes starting to come from the Muzak speakers on elevators.
I don’t need to look at a calendar to know the holidays are coming fast - I can feel it in the air. My Circadian rhythyms are playing red and green. My instincts are telling me it’s time to start making lists.
This week I’ve gone on Epicurious and started comparing recipes for Cranberry Sauce and healthy sweet potatoes. I’m wondering if I want to do anything different with my holiday decorations.
I generally ponder these holiday questions because from mid-November to January its always the slowest time of the year for me.
Prospective clients say, “Oh Denise, I’d love to start working with you – after the holidays.” That’s the pattern I’ve seen all the years since I started marketing mentoring. I’ve learned to set aside money so I can enjoy the holidays without dipping into credit cards or real savings. After all it’s the most expensive time of the year and the time when clients say, “I want to take a break until after the holidays.”
This year is different. Back in April when I started my first Group Book Mentoring program I had no idea how much life would change. I didn’t know how many people I’d help by guiding and supporting them in writing their how-to or personal growth book.
Oh, I live in the same home and drive the same car. I’m married to the same man. But I’m busy right now – in a good way - and I didn’t expect that. I figured I’d have the typical holiday season slowdown. Take a break, enjoy the holidays and start another group in January.
Not this time around. Within the last 36 hours I’ve had three people say they want to get started working with me before December. Yowsers!! That means just a few people more (I only accept 6-8 people per group) and it’ll be a full group. All three said they want to wait until after the holidays before actually writing. They want to align with me right away and get going in some way. Does that sound like you?
So, this group will be a little different. Sign up by December 1st and you’ll get a private mentoring session with me before starting into the six month, group book mentoring program in January.
It’s not exclusively about writing a book - it’s also about sorting through and developing a vision, a business model and a plan that will sustain both your book and your business. We can talk over a cuppa something warm to keep the winter chill away and talk about what you want to create. That’s what we can do together before you write word one so it all comes together and makes sense. That’s what synergy is all about.
When you create your strategy and build leverage by aligning your how-to or personal growth book with your business - the book succeeds and your business succeeds. That’s how I made my book a business bestseller sold in 15 countries.
The actual program is six months long and takes you through all the steps of writing your book. Step by step and word by word your book grows. You also learn about editors, publishing options, promoting your book and more.
As mentioned, I had no intention of doing any marketing or selling appointments during November and December. I figured that would be my ”kick back for the holidays” and “hunker down and write my goals” time of year. That’s the way it’s been for so long.
Surprise, surprise! I had three of these appointments this week and all three aspiring book authors said “yes” to working with me.
In fact, I have a meeting Monday morning with a woman referred to me by another happy client. She’s a life coach who lives in New York City. Yes, the same NYC ripped to shreds by Hurricane Sandy and the flood surge that happened Monday night this week. Now that’s dedication and passion.
One big lesson I’ve gotten in 2012 is that flexibility and a willingness to adapt to changing conditions (changing for the better!) is a good thing. Not that I was inflexible before – but I’m really discovering that things go best for me when I check in with how certain decisions feel in my body and then follow my heart. It’s working for me – and I’ll bet it’ll work for you, too.
So if the idea of finally getting your how-to or personal growth book makes sense to you and feels right in your body, you’ll know it. You’ll just sense a little imperceptible shift or that small still voice inside urging you forward. That’s what 2012 has been like for me – and it’s been a very good year. If that sounds like you, we’re in alignment. Connect with me and let’s talk about it. I’ll give you all the details so you can decide if it’s right for you.
Denise Michaels is C.E.O. and founder of the “International Book Writing Guild.” Contact Denise via email at firstname.lastname@example.org on Facebook or text her at 702-401-6313 to set up a time to connect and discover more.
You can’t turn on your TV or computer without being impacted by the stunning images of catastrophic damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy earlier this week.
There are a few important things to look at in the aftermath of such a tragedy. With a big election next week, maybe it’s the right time to reconsider the kind of country we want to live in.
Government: doesn’t it make you feel a little better to see those images of President Obama together with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie? That’s what government is supposed to do – work together to create solutions no matter what party, red or blue. Consider that as you go to the voting booth next week. (I already voted earlier this week.)
The “I won’t talk with you, I won’t deal with you” attitude toward governance the last few years has resulted in more problems and a sluggish response to the challenges we face as a nation. I’m tired of the vitriole and the bickering, aren’t you?
When we work together – even if we have strong differences of opinion - good things happen, Obama and Christie have taken the lead here. I give both credit for putting aside their differences and working together to help the thousands impacted by Sandy.
A few years ago crossing the aisle was considered the preferred norm, not a reason to get your shorts in a twist. You don’t get a doggone thing done if you don’t find workable ways to get along with others.
I blame marketing. Yep, it’s what I’ve been doing my entire career. But I lay the responsibility for a lot of our sniggering small-mindedness on marketing. If we couldn’t tell the difference between one candidate or another and where they stood on issues in the past – we sure can now. Politicians have made certain of it by distancing themselves from each other so much we look ridiculous.
The “have it my way” culture that sprung up in the 1980s and the “me generation” has led to the expectation that’s how it should be all the time, every minute with everything. That everyone should get things exactly as they want them and no one’s feelings should ever be hurt along the way. A little unrealistic, don’t you think?
Infrastructure: Let’s start getting honest here. If you haven’t travelled around the world there’s probably a chance you feel America has the most advanced systems in the world. Not even close. We’re seriously behind the eight-ball when it comes to mass transit, bridges, education, energy development of renewables, delivery of medical care and much more. As a matter of fact we’re currently rated 20 in the world. Not even in the top ten. We’re at 20. Sheesh!
New York subway officials have said this is the worst damage to the system in its 108 year history. They’ll get it patched back up and running again with duct tape and chewing gum. Thank goodness for our weather satellites that provided enough lead time to get all the trains and all the machines moved to safe places, saving billions of dollars in further damages.
The people of New York, New Jersey and other states are still waiting to get back their subways and power back. Mayor Bloomberg has issued a rule you must have three people in a car to get into NY City. Right now just walking down the street without slogging through a few feet of water, debri, sewage, petroleum and more is a challenge. Anyone who knows me knows I love walking, and, walking in New York City has always been an empowering experience in such a vibrant, exciting city. Well, especially if I can sneak in a little shopping – but I digress.
Global warming: whether it’s due to man-made activities or not we have to deal with the fact killer storms and hurricanes happen more often. Let’s stop politicizing what’s obviously happening, kicking the can down the road. Can you believe some turkeys see weather as a Democratic or Republican issue? Weather? Really?
These once-every-century storms and floods now happen about once every two years. Let’s stop kidding ourselves. Scientists, the most apolitical people on the planet, say that our artic ice is melting more and more every year. The result is crazy weather systems like mega hurricanes, flooding and massive snowfalls in winter.
Is it due to our “carbon footprint” or something else? I don’t know. Who cares? Do we really want to keep acting shocked when these events happen,, plunking our heads in the sand? Really?
Our natural tendency is to reach out and help someone who is in worse shape than we are. We selflessly give what we can when our fellow man or woman is hurting, and, we sure as heck don’t ask if they’re Republican or Democrat first.
In a tragedy we see people coming together in ways that show we understand the Golden Rule. Living with meaning and purpose for most of us means finding ways to help others whenever we can.
Here’s something funny in an ironic way:
People in the affected areas without power are running around trying to find power to recharge their cell phones, iPads, laptops, etc. Wouldn’t it be funny in a good way if as a result of this tragedy people actually look at each other and say “hi” rather than endlessly staring at the screen on their phone?
When I ask people what’s most important they almost always reply “helping others” and “making a difference.” Its a more powerful core value than anything else. If so, why do some folks get in a snit when two people with a difference of opinion AND the power to make a difference actually get along? Why do we cross our arms refusing to acknowledge what’s clearly happening and act like we can stuff the toothpaste back in the tube? Why do we posture and act like arch enemies when people clearly care and want the best for each other?
I like Mondays. It’s a fresh, opportunity to start another week where I can start anew and create what I want. Call me an eternal optimist but I always look forward to the endless possibilities Monday promises. This morning Ernie and I will attend our regular Monday networking group, called Enlightened Entrepreneurs.
It’s a growing group of small business owners who come together each week to help and support each other. We do business with each other – but EE is also about learning and connecting in a uplifted way that provides a great way to start our week.
This weekend was filled with activities that made me feel like a part of the community I live in rather than my online community. Different from sitting in my office chair and facebooking for the weekend.
On Saturday I went to the Warrior Dash as you see from my post yesterday. Afterward, I took my friend Val to lunch at the Lake Las Vegas Westin (yes, the mud was gone by then).
Yesterday I had a meeting with a client at Barnes & Noble. She has been with me for well over a year now and the amazing strides her business has made during that time is nothing short of remarkable. She’s always upbeat and positive and looks forward to our meetings.
One of the things I told her is that she needs to be a follow-up warrior with her business. She can be a force of nature when she wants to be – but other times she lets things fall through the cracks. We all do that at times as small business owners and closing those gaps by following up and can make a huge difference.
I attended my husband Ernie Martin’s Spiritual Circles of the Vegas Valley discussion held at “The Spirit Within U” owned by the lovely Karen Campbell. For years Ernie’s passion has been to lead a group in spiritual conversations. No rights or wrongs here – it’s all about what your experience is and what matters to you.
We had a wonderful conversation for about 90 minutes exploring the question, “Is prayer/meditation effective for you?” (The picture on the right is from a wedding we attended a couple months ago in San Francisco.)
In the evening I attended a candlelight vigil for a young woman, Anne-Monique Lippitt (pictured left with her mom) who was in a near-fatal car accident a little over a week ago and has been in a medically-induced coma since at University Medical Center. Annie, age 20, is a college student working two part-time jobs. She has a ready smile for every one and is all about bringing people together. She graduated from Spring Valley High School in 2010 where she was president of the student body all four years. If you’d like to support her and her family click here now.
As I was driving home from the candlelight vigil with my friend, Stacey Hall, I felt like I really was a part of my community this weekend. I contributed in the best ways I know how to support others and connect in meaningful ways.
I was there as an observer. My flipcam was on as I watched the crazy antics of what appeared to be humans except covered with mud. Many were covered from head to toe. They seemed to revel in pushing themselves through tests of physical endurance and derring-do, accomplishing these feats in the dirtiest way possible.
Hundreds, actually thousands of “Mud People” both male and female, all converged on this one site on the outskirts of Lake Las Vegas. It was a strange sight indeed. I think I saw more Mud People then I ever thought possible yesterday. Except they didn’t start out covered in brown terra firma slime. They started out actually looking like humans of every stripe about to enjoy a pleasant, Saturday morning run on a beautiful, sunny October day.
All that changed very quickly.
From the start of their adventure they dashed and within minutes they were plunged into a pit of mud to crawl through to the other side. Then they would dash several hundred yards where they would climb up and over a wall – yes, covered in mud.
Many mere mortals were there to cheer them on to personal victory. Up over hills and down into pits of brown, primordial ooze they went. Through a test of strenth and hilarity that stretched over 5k of dirt and glop. These Mud People have good hearts, I understand. Not only strong enough to push themselves through this dirty deed but compassionate enough to do it to raise money for charity, a hospital that helps human children in need known as St. Judes on earth.
I was content to watch from the sidelines. I’m built for comfort, not speed or muck. I can walk long distances - just walked over seven miles last Saturday morning – but running and mud? Not my thing. I was amazed and impressed with how the Mud People seemed to love the goofiness of it all.
Thousands of Mud Warriors one after another tested their mettle on a course designed to push each mud person to the limits of what’s possible and how many human orifices can conceivably be filled with muck.
At the end most succeeded. They crossed the finish line and collected their rewards – a medal of completion, a T-shirt, a mug of beer, and, a turkey leg. Guess that’s considered warrior food in the Land of the Mud People. I’m not saying I limit my turkey consumption to just the Thanksgiving holiday. But since I was there in the morning – I never considered turkey and beer the breakfast of champions, either.
Okay, the gig is up. I must tell the truth. They were not really Mud People, though they got damn muddy as you can see. They were people who ran in the Las Vegas Warrior Dash 2012.
The Warrior Dash is a race that happens in cities all over America to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and all the good work they do for children who need medical help no matter what their families’ financial circumstnces.
I was there to support my friend and walking buddy Val Cataldi, a Health Coach as she took on the Warrior Dash for the fun of it. To the right is a picture of Val with her blonde hair, big sunglasses and the mud du jour fashion choice. Val is a fitness and weight loss success story. Five years ago she lost 80 pounds and has kept it off. Her clients have lost up to 100 pounds and all have done it while learning how to love and take better care of themselves.
The Warrior Dash is sort of a testament to the fact that there’s no limit to the ridiculous, funny things people will do to test themselves physically and mentally while helping others less fortunate. It’s billed as “The Craziest Frickin’ Day of Your Life” and if I had run it, gotten covered in mud and swigged beer and eaten a turkey leg I probably would have felt that way, too.
But when it’s all done to support a good cause – it somehow makes perfect sense and it makes the Mud People and their land not crazy – but pretty wonderful.
Twice a month on Mondays I conduct three of my Group Book Mentoring program live sessions. We talk about my clients books in a small group setting (6-8 people) and I help them tweak what’s working to make it even better and sometimes I help them adjust and put together what’s not working to transform it into something far, far better. Other times I’m helping my International Book Writing Guild Members of my group book mentoring program to get beyond their doubts and fears about their book, their writing style, their expertise. It takes dedication - and I love it.
Yesterday on all three calls there was someone who acknowledged that as they were thinking about their book these nasty, negative thoughts kept popping up. Thoughts about a little crisis in confidence, “Who am I to write a book?” And, “Who am I to write as if I REALLY know what I’m talking about? After all, I’m just a regular person.”
Authors of how-to or personal growth books are people who believe deep in their heart they have something of value to share with others – and they want to share it. I didn’t say that they have something perfect to share. They have something of value. You don’t have to be a perfect example.
You don’t have to be a millionaire who looks perfect and rides in limousines and wears a Rolex. I don’t. I wrote a very successful book on marketing a few years ago – and I’m still learning all the time. I’m attending two seminars in the month of October to become even better in my business.
Authors don’t start off as these larger than life people – and then they write a book. They start off as regular people who have some good ideas and then after going back and forth about whether they should write a book or not – for months – sometimes years, they finally write a book. And then they work on building the brand and the image of a book author. That’s what my six month program helps you to do. Write the book and then figure out how to leverage it to make it and your business more successful.
We talk about all the steps to write your book. We talk about publishing options. And, we talk about the best ways to get out and promote your book today. The latest strategies. And then we tie it all together so that you are seen as the expert and it brings greater credibility and authority to your business and what you do. The result? You not only make money selling books, you make a lot more income doing what you already do. Demand goes up, if you want your fees can go up. The financial goals you set for your business when you originally started finally start coming true.
My next Group Book Mentoring program is starting on Tuesday October 16th at 10:00 am pacific time. I’d love to have you join me if you have a how-to or personal growth book in your heart that will help position you as someone who knows your stuff.
The next step? Let’s have a conversation on the phone or on Skype. I’ll answer all your questions and share my fees with you at that time. You can do this. If you have a book inside you – I can help you get it out where it can help so many other people – and help you.
Ernie and I flew to Oakland California last Friday. On Saturday we attended an Indian/Sikh wedding. When we received the elegant invitation in the mail a few months ago I told him, “Hon, I’ve never been to anything like this before.”
Ernie, who grew up in India and came to America at the age of 18 many years ago replied, “I’ve never been to anything like this either.”
Our connection to the couple is Ernie’s good friend, Ravi. They were co-workers together many years ago during his days working in the aerospace industry. The couple, both born and raised in the US chose this traditional Indian/Sikh way of getting married. The bride is an attorney. The groom is a pharmeceutical sales rep.
There were Sanskrit words on the ornate red and gold invitation, so I went about looking them up on Google so I’d understand what they were about. Quickly I discovered Indian weddings are a big deal. This one was a two-day affair filled with cultural depth and rituals passed down for centuries.
I have to say this straight up – when I met Ernie, I’d never even experienced Indian food let alone Indian culture or Indian people. All I “knew” was that Indian women were supposedly considered second class citizens and had to walk two steps behind their husbands. Back when we started dating I was terrified that within a few months he’d have me chained to a stove stirring curry. It never happened. We’ve been together 15 years now and he’s the most supportive, kind, thoughful, funny, caring man I’ve ever known.
The evening before the wedding there was a party put on by the bride’s family. Actually the siblings of the bride host the party – but the parents probably paid for it. It’s an Indian traditon. It was held at a Marriott hotel with a open bar featuring Margaritas, a Fajita buffet and a DJ playing Punjabi hip hop faves. Okay, some American hits by Usher and Katy Perry slipped in but it felt Indian.
One of the unique Indian fashion traditions is the bride usually has intricate henna (an herbal dye) tatoos traced on her hands and arms called “Mehndi.” They’re considered a beautiful adornment for the bride. At the party Friday evening a Mehndi tatoo artist was doing designs on any of the women who wanted them done on their hands and arms.
I have a detailed design on my left hand that looks like a heart with leaves trailing up my arm. It has a red/brown cast to it, and, I’m told it will last about 10-14 days. I’m surprised a few people have noticed it since the wedding and pointed it out saying, “Oh, you have a Mehndi.”
Of course the bride had her Mehndi designs done the day before the party and the photographer got pictures of the beautiful designs on her hands and arms a part of the memories of her wedding.
Towards the end of the party there was a ritual where different family members put bangles and charms on the brides arms as a symbol of happiness, prosperity and long life. The tradition is that the bride is supposed to wear the bangles for the first 40 days after her marriage.
On her wedding day, I asked the bride if she wore her bangles and charms to sleep the night before. She told me she kept the bangles on her arms but removed the charms so they wouldn’t wake her so she could get some sleep the night before her wedding.
The bangles were red, white and gold similar to the ones you see in this picture - which are the customary bridal colors of India.
The day of the wedding Ernie and I arrived at the Sikh temple called a “gurdwara” at about 8:00 am in the morning. After a lot of standing around wondering what to do the groom rode in on an ornately decorated horse surrounded by family members who are all dancing, whooping and hollering with joy for the soon-to-be husband and wife.
The bride chose pink as her color and the groom chose purple so there were lots of brilliantly hued pink and purple saris and other Indian apparel. Because both men and women have to cover their heads in a Sikh temple there were also a lot of men wearing pink or purple handerkerchiefs tied on their head to honor the bride and groom.
A light breakfast was served with Samosas, Pakoras and Indian sweets. Indian chai tea was offered along with orange juice. All the food was vegetarian. Volunteers at the temple traditionally cook and serve the food at this meal.
Then people started filing into the actual hall in the temple you see in the picture. Men sit on the left side of the gleaming marble aisle, and, women sit on the right side. It’s a very meditative space and you remove your shoes and sit on the heavily padded and carpeted floor.
In researching a little something about Sikhs, I discovered they broke off from the Hindu faith about 500 years ago. They are not Muslim. They are very peaceful people and most of the 700,000 Sikhs in America are in business, medicine and academia.
The most devout of Sikh men never cut their hair and wear it bound in tight, meticulously wrapped turbans. They are not Muslims – the only similarity with that faith is the turban. Another thing I learned about Sikhs is they believe in complete equality between men and women, husbands and wives. All the unfair treatment of women in the Middle East is not a part of the Sikh faith.
Finally the ceremony was about to start at 10:00 am and the groom came in. He was wearing the most incredible beaded and embroidered jacket that came down almost to his knees. He wore dark red pants beneath the jacket, bare feet, a red ascot and a red turban. The groom in this wedding is usually clean shaven guy with a conservative Western haircut. It’s common for Sikh grooms in America who cut their hair in a standard American way to grow a beard for about a month before his wedding day out of respect for the Sikh tradition among men.
At last the bride appeared from the back of the temple. She was slowly walked up the aisle by two friends – sort of handmaidens. They brought her up the aisle in her gorgeous red wedding dress resplendent with heavy gold embroidery and beading. Her mother and soon-to-be mother-in-law were also a part of the procession walking up the aisle with her to her waiting groom.
Both Hindi and Sikh weddings, very similar, are wordless affairs. No vows are spoken. There is much well wishing by family members as the wedding takes place but no “I do’s” are said.
The groom walks around the altar in the temple and the bride follows him around. They are connected by a sash or a ribbon of red fabric. Each time around the altar represents something – though I never found out exactly what. It’s all done very prayerfully and mindfully. If she follows him around all four laps they are finally husband and wife. Ernie told me that in a Hindu wedding there are seven laps around the altar so the wedding ceremony takes even longer
Once this ritual is completed there is handshaking all around and the ceremony is almost complete. Then, all the wedding guests get in line to give their good wishes to the new bride and groom. They also make a contribution to the gurdwara – I would imagine the money helps to pay for the food. Most people seemed to give about ten dollars each, so that’s what Ernie and I contributed to the kitty.
I’d say there were about 125-150 people at the temple so the line was a slow one. When we got to the front of the line there was a photo op to get your picture taken with them.
Now I said the wedding ceremony is a wordless one – but it’s not a silent one. These three bearded dudes played drums and sang traditional Punjabi wedding music – much like chanting throughout the entire wedding ceremony.
After the ceremony was over we left the main hall of the gurdwara. I removed the scarf from my head and put my stilettos back on. Felt like me again. Once again, volunteers prepared Indian food in a buffet for lunch. This time the food was served by some of the family members. The lunch was a little more hearty compared to breakfast. As much as I told myself “don’t eat any more” – it was just all so good. And there was more to come at the reception.
For a few hours Ernie and I went back to our hotel room before the reception which took place at a lovely venue for weddings and other big events owned by a winery. As we arrived appetizers were served and there was an open bar and lots of milling around. Lots of dancing, too. The music was booming. Ernie and I cut a rug and had a lot of fun, even if we didn’t understand the words to the music.
When the bride and groom made their entrance into the wedding reception room they looked very different. She was wearing a white dress, though Indian in style with a lot of gold embellishment. He was clean shaven and wearing a very modern suit. They both were beaming.
Dinner is served later in India. Same as in Europe. Ever been to Paris and the restaurants don’t even open up for dinner until 8:00 pm? At about 9:15 pm, six huge doors into a buffet area were opened and dinner was served. If this was a food blog I’d go into detail about the food. Suffice it to say everything was the most delicious Indian food I’ve ever had the opportunity to enjoy.
Unlike at the temple – it wasn’t vegetarian. Fish and two kinds of shrimp were served during the cocktail and appetizer hour. During dinner chicken and lamb curries were served. No beef or pork, of course.
Everyone we talked with and hung out with was lovely, gracious and full of fun. Old guys with salt and pepper beards were on the dance floor celebrating. Young women in saris and Indian dresses with the latest platform heels were getting their groove on to the music. It was a once in a lifetime experience I’ll remember with fondness the rest of my life.
I believe when it comes to doing something as outrageous as writing a book – we’re waiting for someone to say, “It’s okay, you can do it. You have my permission.” But the is truth no one gives us permission. There’s no Queen Elizabeth who’s going to tap you on both shoulders and say, “I now proclaim you expert of _____________.” and then you’re magically it and everyone automatically accepts you as as the expert of ______________.”
Life doesn’t work that way. We have to claim it for ourselves. A leader is someone who goes first. What that means is that when you claim it, when you say that, “I am an expert” or “I deserve this” then other people begin to say, “Oh, okay.” It doesn’t start with you hoping and wishing they they will come up with the idea that you’re an expert or you deserve a certain amount of money for your expertise. It starts with you.
This leads in perfectly to the Paradox of Learning…
Let’s say you decide you want to learn something new – how to buy and own a restaurant, for example. But you don’t really know much about the restaurant business yet. Let’s say everything you know about restaurant ownership is about the size of grape. And everything you don’t know about restaurant ownership is touching the outside of the grape.
So you read a book on what it takes to own a restaurant. And now everything you know about restaurant management is about the size of a lemon.
But you still don’t feel like you know quite enough so you go and read two more books on restaurant ownership. Now everything you know about restaurant ownership is about the size of an orange. And everything you don’t know about restaurant ownership is touching the outside of the orange. However, you still don’t feel like you’re ready to sign on the dotted line and buy a restaurant yet.
So you do more to learn about this subject. Now you take a seminar on restaurant ownership. What happens? Well everything you now know about restaurant ownership is about the size of a grapefruit. And, that means everything you don’t know about restaurant management has expanded too – because it’s the size of a grapefruit, too.
Next you get a job bussing tables at a restaurant. And everything you know about restaurant ownership expands to the size of a coconut. However, everything you don’t know about restaurant ownership has expanded too – because it’s touching the outside of the coconut, remember?
You know enough when you know that you don’t know everything – but you’re willing to step out courageously and take action anyway – despite your fear that you probably still don’t know enough.
That’s courage and confidence in action. That’s true leadership.
I’m typing this post to you from a lovely two-bedroom suite at the Hyatt Pinion Point in Sedona Arizona. It’s beautiful, elegant, natural, relaxing and great Feng Shui around here. Tomorrow we’re going to shoot some video in the morning and we’ll probably go hang out in the vortexes. It’ll be interesting to see if I feel anything while I’m there.
It was about five hour drive down here through quite a bit of rain but it looks like it’ll be a gorgeous day tomorrow.
As I’m sitting here on the terrace with sultry summer breezes, overlooking an inky dark sky filled with stars I’m reflecting on what it took to get to this spot. This is actually our celebration and reward for a successful “Occupy Your Life… NOW!” workshop last month.
If I’m going to be honest – there was some galloping chutzpah involved. I always tell people at my workshops, my webinars and my private mentoring clients that it takes getting out of your comfort zone to get to where you want to be. After all, if the way you are right now was exactly what you need to have your defininition of success – you’d be there by now, right?
I’ve discovered is you can’t hide out if you want to be successful. There is a notion in some circles that “I don’t have to sell to get sales.” There’s a belief among some people that, “I can keep being quiet and stay in my comfort zone and charge top dollar for what I do because people will be attracted to me according to law of attraction principles.”
I believe those principles. In fact my business partner and friend Stacey Hall who wrote the bestselling, “Attracting Perfect Customer: the Power of Strategic Synchronicity” is here with me. We believe in attracting what you want – but please don’t cotton to lovely however false idea that you can skip everything about marketing and business strategy and still get there. The Universe works in amazing ways – but not quite like that.
Many people find this hard to believe because I’m known as a speaker, a trainer and a motivator – but at my core I really am an introvert. That means I re-charge my batteries when I’m alone. I’m most comfortable in my own skin when I’m writing or doing something either solitary of with just one other special person – probably Ernie, my husband, or a close friend.
To manifest where I’m at right now I had to speak into my greatness. I had to be willing to claim it. I had to be willing to say in a bold way that I’m capable of helping people make some pretty incredible positive transformations in their lives and in their business. That means knowing me and really seeing who I am as a magnificent person with powerful gifts to share with the people who want to receive them.
I know I’m good at what I do. You probably know you’re good at what you do, too. But there’s a very good chance you’re waiting for others to discover it with out you saying a word.
Many years ago Woody Allen famously said, “Eighty percent of life is just showing up.”
Are you showing up for you?
There’s so much noise, confusion and caccaphony out there – showing up in a way so the right people notice and start paying attention (that’s what marketing is all about) is a challenging job for any small business owner. I’ll be honest – its not the most comfortable easy thing that I do. However, when I step outside my comfort zone and into “the puke zone” and say what needs to be said and speak my truth loud and strong – I always get positive results.
Take an honest assessment of yourself and your true desire to achieve your definition of success. Are you willing? Or, is your intention to keep visualizing and meditating on what you want without taking the action steps required to get there. If you’re not willing to get out of your comfort zone – it certainly doesn’t make you a bad person. But maybe it’s time to stop kidding yourself about how you’re going to create what you say you want.
Can you get there by just giving to others? I’m sorry, nope. There must be a fair exchange of value. Money is an exchange of value. Barter is an exchange of value – but you must see value in what another person is offering to agree to it.
Norman Vincent Peale said, “Help enough other people to get what they want and you’ll get what you want.” I do believe in Karma and that what goes around comes around. But if you don’t clearly state what it is that you want - you won’t get it. People will give back but it may not be what you need and want to create the success you’ve been visualizing for so long.
Every now and then I’ll see an award given. Someone is given a plaque of appreciation for tireless, selfless work on behalf of others. These never seem to be bold people. People will whisper, “She’s the nicest person. Always giving and never asks for anything in return.” Nice. That’s like telling the Universe, “No, please, stop. I don’t want anything.” The Universe says yes to our most dominant desire. Giving, giving, giving is a great way to receive appreciation and a moment onstage – but will it give you the success and the life you want?
Be honest now. *smile*
By Denise Michaels
For over a decade now, women have been inching toward creating a new kind of success – business success. Most aren’t interested in building the next General Motors or MicroSoft. Does this sound like you?
You want to provide a service your passionate about and genuinely enjoy. You want to live a nice life doing what you love. You don’t want to be consumed by work and business on a 24/7 basis. You want success – on your own terms.
Chances are you started your business excited about helping clients AND making money. However, in the recesses of your mind you may have believed you wouldn’t make much money right away.
So you started: full of hope, working hard, getting your ducks in a row. You’re building a good reputation with your services at a rock bottom price. The strategy? “As my reputation and my brand grows – I’ll gradually increase my fees.”
Click here now for my upcoming webinar program, “Get Paid What You’re Worth – for Women!!”
Oh, the best laid plans of mice and men…
Reality often shows a picture that’s quite different.
As a marketing mentor for over a decade now, here’s what I see – a woman a few years later who is still passionate about helping people with what she does. Only now she’s a little discouraged and living month to month on less money then she did back when she had a job. Struggling to pay her bills. Wondering when it will get better. Does this sound like you?
- A web designer – client of mine – was dangerously undercharging. She thought she was taking her business seriously – but she really didn’t know how. People weren’t seeing her value even at her rock bottom prices. I got her to triple her prices. Not all at once – but she did it. She actually gets MORE web design clients than she used to, she has a part-time helper at her home who also does dishes and vacuums. And now her husband is no longer bugging her about going out and getting a “regular job.”
There’s a silent code which says there’s something unseemly, unattractive or not “nice” about women who have the nerve to CARE about making money. Society sees that woman as strident, cold and calculating. We don’t like her one bit.
For some inexplicable reason you may quietly judge women who show clear, focused ambition. “She’s okay,” we might sniff. “I just don’t happen to like her. I don’t know what it is about her.”
Click here now for my upcoming webinar program, “Get Paid What You’re Worth – for Women!!”
After all, in our Mom’s generation (maybe Grandma) a woman’s job was to make a home – not make an income. It was a husband’s job to bring home the bacon. Women were not allowed in that arena. Ever.
Money was rarely talked about in in mixed company. And, it sure as heck was NEVER talked about in the quilting circle, the garden club or the coffee get-together. In my groundbreaking book, “Testosterone-Free Marketing” I say that 40 years of feminism doesn’t wipe out 40,000 years of human conditioning.
- Met an attorney and mom of three at a summer barbeque two years ago. She told me she charges half what other attornies charge to be nice. She was stunned how her clients didn’t seem to respect her. I suggested she double her fees. She balked. Six months ago I bumped into her and she had the same lament. I gave the same advice and told her how to do it. Two weeks ago she called and said, “It worked!” She’s making enough income now to hire a part-time assistant AND a housekeeper one day a week. Plus, she STILL has 25% more income after paying her new helpers, but less stress, more time for family, and, more respect from clients and peers.
“She only cares about the money!” is one of the worst insults. It implies a woman who’s dishonest, lacks integrity, doesn’t care what she does to get money, and, who might even gladly sell her kids down the river for a few extra bucks. Okay, I’m only joking about that last part. *smile*
Some men are still threatened by a wife who makes as much or more money as he does. A few knuckle-dragging Neanderthals still exist. Just as many men don’t give a darn one way or another. It won’t change his love for her. But she’s still wired to the unspoken belief he might be bent out of shape if she’s successful.
A fascinating study I read about a year ago said man’s greatest fear is that if he’s not successful he’ll lose everything that matters to him. He’ll lose love and his family.
Conversely the study also said a woman’s greatest fear is if she’s successful she’ll lose everything that matters to her. She’ll lose love and her family.
Click here now for my upcoming webinar program, “Get Paid What You’re Worth – for Women!!”
These are extremes – but our subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference. We have put in place a glass ceiling of our own making. Now, it isn’t some mean-spirited male boss trying to keep us in our place. It’s us doing it to ourselves. Most women who are struggling to succeed as business owners are stopping themselves from creating and enjoying success.
- A copywriter in one of my webinars was approached by a highly successful man about writing his web copy. Then he dropped a bomb and tried to dicker her prices down. She replied, “Sir, with all due respect, I can’t afford to work with people who can’t afford my fees.” Not exactly what I taught her – but she stood up for herself. He replied, “I can afford you. I just wanted to see if you’d go lower.” She said, “I’ve already given you an excellent price.” Within 24 hours she had the largest check she’d ever received on her desk via FedEx. Within three months she quadrupled her income. In less than a year she moved out of her crappy little apartment and into a luxurious condo overlooking a golf course.
Isn’t it time to stop condemning ourselves and judging other women for caring about money and our financial future? Why do we assume making money, passion and integrity cannot happily co-exist? Why do we assume the people we love the most will suddenly turn on us when we’re successful?
- Working harder and harder to make up for not clearly, politely asking for what you want in your business.
- Allowing clients to dicker down your fees, as they moan about “the economy and then silently resenting them later
- Spending tons of your valuable time doing “research” instead of spending that time creating more income
- Living the little ”white lie” that everything is fine to keep up appearancesyou’re making more money then you are
- Secretly worrying about the fact that you’re not saving money for your future needs as you probably should.
- Smiling at clients and not even telling them when you give away hours of time you should rightfully get paid for
- Spouting silly excuses about ”giving back” as a reason for undercharging when your own cup is almost empty
Click here now for my upcoming webinar program, “Get Paid What You’re Worth – for Women!!”
Women are starting businesses faster than men, and have been for almost a decade now. Isn’t it time we stop acting like we don’t care about money? That’s the purpose of having a business – to make money. If along the way you get to express your passion and do what you love that’s a wonderful thing. But the purpose of enterprise is to create income.
Get honest with yourself. When you do – you may discover you’re finally ready to release yourself from The shackles of what you thought was being “nice” and go for it, free from the bondage of limiting thoughts that have held you back until now.
On Tuesday October 30th, 2012 I’ll start, “Get Paid What You’re Worth!!” a five-session webinar series for women business owners of service-oriented businesses. If you provide a service in your business whether you’re a graphic designer, a life coach, a massage therapist, an attorney, a bookkeeper or something check it out. If you relate to the article above and know you undercharge, I’m confident it will be perfect for you. For more information, a 3-minute video and to get registered, go ahead and click here now.