Getting CEO Organized

Since I started my first website in 2013, I have gone through the ringer when it comes to the balance between work and family, working in and working on your business, ideal clients and not ideal clients…and attempting to figure out how to schedule my time.  Hence, a category on this blog “Hot Mess to Great Success.”

I was stunned when I launched my first great idea and heard crickets.  Started networking and reading about all these neat things that “they didn’t teach me in PhD school.”  I’ve held together my business with post-it notes and peanut butter.

And then there are the pile of excuses – as I have always known I have to get it together as I allowed my personal life to blindside me.  It seems like each time I attempted to put new systems in place the universe had other plans.  I would have a personal curve ball thrown at me (some good some horrific) or a slew of new clients would run in the door and I would abandon all plans and stop paying attention to goals…and systems.  I was a rat in a wheel.

However, with the start of 2018 I have taken the opportunity to say that for the first time I will achieve my goals – with relentless pursuit and never ending passion.  No longer will my personal life get in the way of my sales system.  The hot mess but great success that I was isn’t cute anymore – it is unbecoming of a CEO.

Here are a few things I have started…and that all entrepreneurs can start as well…to get their mind, body, soul and business moving forward.

Habits
I have a massive list of daily habits that I want to build and for me the only way to accomplish this is by writing it down and then ticking them off each day.  They range from 30 minutes of cardio to blogging to learning french.  Most of the things on the list I have wanted to improve upon for some time and…as I have stated to the universe…now is the time.

Scheduling Every Single Last Thing
I took the time and figured out all of the different activities I need to spend time on each week – from writing and blogging to client work and tennis.  I then standardized it into a template so I can get in the habit of doing things on certain days at certain times.  I purchased a calendar that has the month view but also a page for each week in column form.  Each Sunday I block out my calendar – for instance, Wednesday morning from 8-11 is marketing brainstorming and writing, Mondays from 9-12 I am working on sales system touches.  In each of these categories I will have specifics of what I want to accomplish – little to-do lists.

Sales
I have never had a sales system.  I’ve never had a way to reach out to cold leads, follow-up to those who show interest – or even follow-up after I send a proposal.  Now I have the systems in place so I can really start to sell – and track – and reach out.  I’ve heard the phrases “if you aren’t selling you are dying,” “sell like hell.”  Now I can do that because I have a plan in place for each step.

Tracking
For someone with such an analytical mind I have not done a good idea of tracking…anything…for my business.  I’ve simplified my tracking systems and made sure they fit with my goals.  I’ve also standardized lists – so everything is in the same order as I move from daily, weekly and monthly notes to tracking sheets for the year.

I will say that on each of these topics I have done a tremendous amount of reading and introspection.  I’ve taken notes on what successful entrepreneurs do, what is going to work for me, and then what I am ready to commit to.  For me, the biggest piece of this is that commitment to relentlessly pursue my goals.

Know Thy Numbers

So for many reasons and mostly procrastination I have never tracked the numbers of my business.  You would think that with my analytical mind I would have a handle on the bounce rate for my website (how about just the number of visitors?), the number of blog posts I write, my moz ratings, and the ever popular ‘close rate’ on client proposals.

As I started my business my biggest metric was self-measured stress level as my phone did not instantly ring.  Then, as I signed clients I was all excited about the dollars pouring into my bank account…and the business was building I thought “ok, how big can this get?”  And life got in the way – moving and blending, getting remarried, saying goodbye and recovering through the end of 2017.

But no more…and I’m really sick and tired of guessing…not knowing…and being a little clueless.  Paying my bills, saving the maximum in a 401k, and still having money left over is no longer the sign of success.  I want to know what else is going on in my business – so as I scale I know where I need help.

To be clear, most questions about business growth can not only rely on a number – usually they also require some intuition, market research, temperature taking, and gut instinct.  But the start are the numbers.

As you start on your own path as an entrepreneur start collecting data.  This way, when someone asks how many visits you receive on your website, you won’t have to “guestimate”

Here is a small sample of the numbers I have committed to tracking – and what is so funny is that I put ‘tracking’ as a goal for this year by itself.  I’m doing these (and more) each month:

  1. Number of hot prospects
  2. Number of videos I send out
  3. Proposals sent
  4. Number of blog posts and LinkedIn long posts.
  5. Hours I work on goals for my business
  6. Number of visits to my website (www.jennifergardella.com)
  7. My Moz rating
  8. Number of 30 minute cardio workouts I get in.

The list is endless and enough to make anyone else’s head spin.  Here is what I have learned after 5 years in business – you can only track over time what you commit to measuring – and most importantly – is there value to any activity?

Returning to Church…

For years I have battled an internal struggle revolving around returning to church.  I was raised a devout Catholic where church doctrine was never questioned and mass was always attended even on vacation.  I taught Kindergarten CCD for my oldest daughter and started having problem with the prayers I was expected to have them memorize even though I didn’t know some of the vocabulary.   I attended the children’s mass a few times and sat in horror as I watched these children stand and recite these same prayers without comprehension.  Then the sex abuse scandals broke and I watched in horror on TV as the accused and convicted were shuffled around and moved to more prominent positions as if to be rewarded for their crimes.

And I said no more.  At this time I committed to the girls all receiving their First Holy Communion, basically so everyone would have the picture in the white dress and a big party to remember.  We started attending a family program at our local Presbyterian Church which had a stellar Youth Group component, and I suddenly found myself no longer a practicing Catholic for the first time in my life.

I was no longer watching the hypocrisy of Democrats accepting communion (this always bugged me) – the cafeteria Catholics who took prominent positions in the church and then left the building and then no longer lived a Catholic life.  I didn’t care what they did at home, I just hated that they acted one way in front of the cross when others were watching.

When we moved out here to the sticks I attended service at the Lutheran Church…it was deserted…the Presbyterian Church was so stuffy and sort of reminded me of the folks in The Purge…and then I went to the other Lutheran church, which was as deserted as the first.  I resolved to find a church when it felt right again…

Last year I found myself actually returning to the Catholic Church.  Not for mass but to light candles and talk to God…actually beg God to save him.  To spare his life and bring him home so that my children would not have to walk a path without their father.  This fall I returned to cry in those pews and light candles asking for John to move college applications for our middle daughter into the “yes” pile so she didn’t know rejection after losing him.  Needless to say, John passed away and she was rejected from her first choice..the candles did not work.  As a realist I was not lighting candles asking for help, I know God rewards all.  I was there out of desperation and reaching back to a world that I knew – because there was nothing else I could really do.

And now, as I enter 2018, for many reasons and almost no reason at all it is time.  I’m making the rounds…sitting in services among the few and the uptight…looking for a spiritual home.  But this time I have a different mission…and that is just to sit.  Not expect to much and everything that I would want in a Christian community.  As long as  I have a place to go, even if it is a different place every week for a while…well that is good enough for me.

I’m not giving up because I haven’t found perfection – I’m adjusting my expectations and staying true to my cause here – find a place to go and be at peace once per week.  And it is all the better if the community I sit with doesn’t mind if I’m a bit off key.

The Squares

As many of you know, on July 1, 2017 we lost my ex-husband John Wengler after his 81 day battle with Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer.  At the end of his life I started thinking of how we were all going to move forward and was a bit overwhelmed realizing my responsibility in helping to keep his memory alive .  After all, the girls are young with many milestones ahead, and he certain deserved to have some special presence.  I needed a way to very simply infuse him into moments of their lives honoring him without being overwhelming, since I was going to be the one who was present for them all.

And so was born the idea that is now known now as “The Squares.”

John had a love and collection of Hawaiian shirts, and was often made fun of for his lack of fashion sense.  Upon his death I was certain that no one would make a claim for these shirts.  And they could be the subtle yet powerful token to help me out.

I had each of the girls place a square with him as they said their final goodbye and then  I shared that I would make sure a square would be sewn into special moments of their lives – like graduation gowns and Christening blankets.  Sometimes I just cut a square of a shirt and write simple words and phrases like “18th birthday,” “drivers permit,” – and leave them on pillows on special days.

They aren’t meant to be messages from beyond.  They are meant to remind the girls that during moments big and small his spirit in them lives on as they move forward.  I have learned that they keep the squares in special places and cherish the pile they are building.

I have struggled with the “is this really my job” when it comes to honor his memory – after all, he was my ex-husband.   But he was a close friend, my co-parent – and I feel obligated to honor the peace we had – and I do this for my children – who lost a very special father way too young.

So, from now until eternity his memory will “own” the Hawaiian print – I’m convinced no one else will lay claim to it – certainly not the fashion industry.

Behind the Scenes

I exhausted myself staying one-step ahead of you – second guessing and overthinking, maneuvering in the background where you couldn’t see, where you would never look.  Putting so much support in place and then camouflaging it in the care of other people.     Ensuring doors opened for you effortlessly.  I built scaffolding that was invisible – well, except to me since I was holding it together, or would have to rebuild it when someone dropped the ball, or forgot, or upset you in some way that was unjust.  And again, so you wouldn’t see it.  And you thought everyone else was amazing and so supportive, with their comments and cards.

The therapy, support groups, guidance counselors and even just talking to the friends of your parents – the time in searching for the right people to talk with, at the right time, just in case you needed them, we needed them, in the future.

And everyone keeps telling you how great you are doing, how he loves you and is looking down, how his strength will get you through, and how much he loves you.  And I continue to hold up each of you like three boulders on my back.  As parents themselves it is like they do not realize what it would take to get you through this in the real world of our lives.  As if his memory is enough to get you through – and I’m just carrying on doing nothing for you.  It is really easy to post a “he loves you” comment on an Instagram post – it is another to reach out and see if you actually need help.

I get the sense that they feel I’m the ex, and the one who is lucky to be alive – they were clear at the beginning with all of the “should’s” for me, especially for my wallet.  Maybe  they can’t even imagine that I would say a kind word about him – or make you scrapbooks they chose not to contribute to.

My unwavering position from the day of his diagnosis was that you would be ok…you would survive the initial shock of the “c” word.  Right from the start my research led me in the scariest of directions, and “no hope” was the best outlook we had.  But then there was the part of me that didn’t want to be the grim reaper – sure, there is hope, maybe he would be the exception, the miracle would happen.  In my heart I hoped but new the gruesome reality of what we were facing.  Where was I wrong, that it would all be over so quickly and I would be left holding a bag of insanity to sort out, almost all on my own.

But now six months later and you have realized that you are going to get through this – where there was no hope you actually see opportunity and your own strength.  You’ve realized, “Oh look, time marches on, life goes on…I’m still standing.”  You are surprising yourself and astounding me with your insight.

Take the “he loves you” comment with a grain of salt – people need to be in the public eye showing support.  For the record there are only a handful of people who have actually reached out to me – and honestly, I talked to them on a daily basis before his diagnosis.

 

Goodbye to 2017

I can remember last January (2017)  reading that the most successful entrepreneurs know the magical power of January 1st, they plan for it and then walk into the new year ready to step off and create new habits…new systems…new income…and it all made perfect sense to me.  Don’t miss a single opportunity to create the next year and start on Day 1.   While I had planned a bit I didn’t have the detail to launch an attack on life on January 1st.  And after the hoopla of the holidays, and without a concrete plan and the regular few new clients that trickled in…well, for me 2017 was off and running.

However, at the start of 2017  I did say to the universe, “I just want my life to look completely different by the end of 2017.”  As a powerful manifester I should have known better than to be so vague…what I meant was that I wanted my business to be significantly bigger…

Instead, the universe, acting with zippo direction from me, delivered to me exactly what I had asked for – and I sit here on December 31st still a bit dazed.  From the start of his illness my children were living with me full-time, adjusting to visiting their father in ICU and rehab, no longer able to have full conversations with him due to a tracheotomy and feeding tube that were inserted just 7 days after diagnosis .  They learned and saw the impact of daily radiation and weekly chemo.  Life was already completely different and they hoped it was temporary…and then he died…yep, the guy that promised to be immortal, left us on July 2nd – only 81 days after his diagnosis.  During this time I also noticed my clothes disappearing out of my drawers at an alarming rate – ahhhh…three daughters full-time.

During the “15 minutes of fame,” which to us parents who have lost the co-parent – is the time when the whole world gathers around you in a gigantic show of support for you and your children.  Ex, or not, you get promises of support, “we are going to check in with you,” “know you are not alone.”  Then reality sets in, people start telling you what to do with your own children and have the nerve to talk down to you when they remind you it is your job to honor his memory.  I was sued by his family as they also managed through a loophole to saddle me with his tremendous debt.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, health and dental insurance, college applications, car titles and car insurance,  and how my middle daughter was going to finish out her senior year of high school where her father lived – dumped in my lap without an iota of care – at one point the family sent me his tax bill and told me to pay it.  Gone was the loving and respectful relationship I had built from scratch with my co-parent.  The day he died his sister called me screaming.

Yep…life was looking completely different.

So, not to get caught again with my manifesting pants down, I have been much more specific.  After-all, I have to be.  The very powerful messages I put out the universe seem to be taken in the most literal sense.  This year will be about building me.

I have told the universe I now have boundaries – no one can come into my house (mind, heart, parenting) and push me around.  My business will build with new systems, new staff, and new clients that are all in place – and more, lots more, will be coming in…and I have a profoundly different outlook on life.

Tonight I will ring in 2018 as my dear sister marries the most kind-hearted and loving perfect man that she manifested.  We have both come a long way since she stood at the backdoor of her home years ago,  ranting about who the heck would ever want to come into her insane life.  Now, we have both hopped across the river and find ourselves living the same mile apart here in PA that we had in NJ. Weird.

I will be wearing a dress owned by my other bestie which, is quite different for me as well.  That woman knows how to shop – and look fabulous – and I am grateful to take advantage of her legwork.

And, as the clock strikes midnight I will be holding myself accountable for every second of time and what I choose to do with it – I will be relentlessly pursuing my dreams – in a way I have never walked before

Tomorrow I will sit with my family but also for a while with my business – lay out those boundaries and continually remind us all of the very specific things I am manifesting in 2018 …and savor the opportunity of starting fresh on day one with a new year.

In 2017 I am leaving behind my very heavy heart and profound sadness I have carried for the last 6 months for my dear friend.  I believe that in many ways I have been the one to care the most about my friend and all that he is missing with our children – several times a day, every single day, I have cried for his pain.  But, I believe that he would want me to be mosying on – and what better time to do that than on NYE.

2017 gave me gifts and lessons while it robbed me blind at the same time.  I bid it a fond farewell and look forward…with specificity of course.

The Hustle

Ya know what has built my business – my hustle.

In the words of a woman I highly admire…Ms. Tina Hines…The very people who are saying they want to be where you are, are also talking about your ego.

 

CEO- if you are not operating with integrity in your business, then you are not worthy of the CEO title.  Earn it every single day.

Webinar Review – The Four Pillars of Your Business

How to build your business?  I love to take calls with coaches and watch business coaching webinars of all sorts.  Typically I find them through Facebook ads or they have secured my email in some way.  I’m not specific in the types of coaching I need – they could be selling general business coaching, high ticket programs, Facebook and list building courses…whatever, I’ll listen.  Afterall, one of my honest statements is that “they didn’t teach me this stuff in PhD school.”  And I always learn something.

The webinars all follow the same pattern and are getting longer…and longer.  The typical webinar starts with “we need your undivided attention” and then continues for about 90 minutes.  Not sure where they learned this length was a good idea – but they must be successful.  They start with our pain points (overwhelmed, lack of predictability, not as successful as where you want to be) continue with their story, throw in testimonials, and at some point in the middle of all of that, they throw in a few teeny tiny pieces of content.  They talk about how whatever it is that they are going to tell you will dramatically change your entire business, your life, and you will shatter your goals – if you implement it.

I typically take significant notes,

Adam Davies.  It took him 12 minutes to introduce himself – I literally had no idea who was talking because his slides were not branded.  Apparently he founded CoachingWithYou.com.  He lives on the beach (most do) and promises that if you follow his instructions you too can have his amazing life…not sure about the hot wife he talks about…but I digress.

His claim is that you need one funnel – one offer.

The Four Pillars of a Successful Coaching Business

  1. One perfect offer – solves a specific problem, it is priced as a premium, and highly leveraged.  You are selling a result – and that result is critical to your ideal clients.
  2.   TeleFunnel (43 minutes in):  This is your ‘client conversion machine.”  Telephone funnel – I’ve never heard this one before!  The most successful coaching businesses have one.  Huh!  I took LOTS of notes.  Did he give you the exact formula?
  3. Facebook Ads to find your people (‘nuf said’).  Nothing is free if it is taking your time.  Spend the money to do what works….interesting.  What you pay is what you can get out.
  4. Get a mentor…huh, I wonder if he knows one?  Bill Gates has one…Adam himself has invested 10’s of thousands of dollars in a mentor.  You need someone who can help you steer the ship!  Don’t just float!

This was interesting.  He said that the list here to the right – is the icing on the cake.  These things won’t bring in clients.  This stuff will keep you busy – and the effort will not bring you the results you need.  You can exhaust yourself and still not have a consistent funnel.  You need all this stuff, but not until you have the four pillars.

I found this webinar incredibly informative and highly highly recommend you listening through to the end.  For each pillar he does give quite a bit of content which is unusual in a webinar.  I took a page of notes, wrote this blog post, and have some actionable steps I can take going forward.

What did I learn specifically…well, that wouldn’t be ethical for me to share…and you should hear it from Adam yourself.

I Deserve Your A-Game

Let’s face it, these last few months have been rough…in fact, since April 12th I have been living under a blanket of fear and sadness.  Fear he would die, fear of what a recovery could be like, fear of my life changing, fear of you and all you would go through with whatever happened.  Sadness that his summer was ruined, that your life had changed so much while he was in the hospital.  Fear he could not come home, and sadness when I realized he never would.  Fear of how to make it without him, and sadness when we finally had to trudge forward after his death.

Through all of it, I have supported you unconditionally, never hesitating in how my life would change with his illness, the announcement of hospice, and then his death.  You have been my first thought always as I neglected myself and just about everything around me to care for you…sometimes just to worry about you – even when you were fine.

You were pissed, angry and upset with all that was going on, and that was understandable.  You are too young, as was he, to go through any of this.  It is not lost on me that you were stuck with bad cop – the stricter parent.  I know he was your buddy and that void must be heartbreaking for you to even think about acknowledging let alone begin to explore it.  But I’m doing everything I can, and I’m going to now demand your A-Game – afterall, I deserve it.

  1. Flush the toilet
  2. Make your bed
  3. Clean your room
  4. Engage at the dinner table (don’t just stare into space).
  5. Do your chores.
  6. Mind your manners
  7. Show kindness to others when they try to help you through
  8. Look for the good in our home
  9. Say good morning and hello
  10. Say thank you

Above all, it is what your father would have wanted.  He would want you to bring your A-Game to our home, to represent him in the best possible way.  He would want you to remain somewhat together, neat, and to realize that this situation is not perfect for anyone.  He would want you to appreciate that while this impacts you the most there are others who have adjusted around you.

We have heard horror stories of other teens who have gone through exactly what you have experienced…and they have not handled it with the grace and success we expect of you.  They go off the rails turning to others and substances to ease the pain and heal the void.  But the void you feel from his loss is so big that there is nothing that could fill it and I will not allow you to dishonor him by trying .  So as you move forward fill the loss with your own success and happiness. Nothing can dumb or dull the pain of his absence.

Social Media Marketing

Social Media and Blogging to Build Your Business

Social Media Marketing
© | Dreamstime Stock Photos

I recently had the great honor of recording a presentation for a class at Del Val College here in Buck’s County, PA.  As a social media consultant I love sharing my knowledge with small business owners and this certainly feel into that category.  The professor of the class had the students prepare some questions – some related to social media and some to building my business.  During the conversation I realized this would make a great blog.

Continue reading Social Media and Blogging to Build Your Business

Brick wall background.

Boundaries

As I have maneuvered around in the world, I am often amazed how others think they can treat me.  How my time, ideas and intentions are somehow secondary to someone else’s.  How others can look into a part of my life, an event, or ask for a favor and then think they can somehow dictate everything about it…including how it impacts me…or what I want to do….or again, my time. Continue reading Boundaries

Luke, I am NOT your father

He cooks your meals, starts your car in the morning when it is cold, and has dinner with your boyfriend.  Takes you on fancy vacations, checks your oil, and hugged you tight when dad announced he was going into hospice.  He has helped your mom in too many ways to count…and held her up through the imaginable of this summer as she struggled to hold you up at that time.   Continue reading Luke, I am NOT your father

The First Birthday After a Parent Dies – Happy Birthday Buddy

The first birthday after a parent dies.  I was told the day was going to suck …and that this day in future years will always suck.  I prepared myself mentally which means I braced for tears…mine and theirs as well.  The oldest has come home to be with us – I arranged for them to go out to dinner with your person.  I’m sending them to Wawa for Treat-yo-Self Friday.

I want to erase this day from the calendar or race through it with lightning speed.  For 30 years or so I have reached out to you on this day…in person and then on text with a Happy Birthday.  You considered it a national holiday – I threw you elaborate parties – and even after our split helped you honor yourself in ways big and small.  I laughed as you always took off from work – and now as I look at all that has happened, I am glad you did.  It is also not lost on me that since your birthday falls in October it is the start of the holiday season – and this year that start is one of dread.

Look, I’m a happy person…glad to be the parent who is alive for sure.  But their pain is so great I want it to be over with already.  I’ll carry them on my back, wipe their tears, give them hugs…but at the end of the day this isn’t very fun, in fact it is profoundly sad.  We all just miss you.

Over these last three months my heart has broken a thousand times for what you are missing – both for you missing it and them missing you –  there have been so many moments each day when my eyes have filled with tears, and other times when I have sobbed.  Drivers permits, college tours, campus drop offs, first days of school, new boyfriends (ughhh to that last one).  I know you aren’t missing it, I can feel your presence, somehow watching over us.  But to not be there with them, for them, and enjoying it all for yourself.

I know that wherever you are, and whatever the temperature, you have a beer in your hand and friends surrounding you.  Just know that we are all sitting here thinking of you..and wishing you were still with us.

Thank Goodness for Her…

Yesterday morning , as I went running off to a meeting, I grabbed my tan jacket for the first time this season and bolted out the door.   I realized there was a piece of paper in my pocket and came to see it was my Penn Hospital name tag from April 20, 2017 … the day I drove our daughters down to Philly so they could see you in ICU for the first time after your surgery.

I took a moment and decided this was a sign showing me the strength I had when you were diagnosed.  When we visited that day my plan was to carry everyone on my back through your inevitable recovery.  Yesterday that name tag was a reminder that even though these last two months didn’t go as I planned and have exhausted me (since that inevitable recovery did not happen) I had to find the strength and keep moving forward.  Little did I know, with that one little sticker, you were speaking to me…

Little did I realize that in a very small way you were giving me a very very clear message to think of you that afternoon when I needed direction.   You were reminding me that you still have say in the girls lives even though you are no longer here.  You knew I needed a reminder that your network, your people, your connections could help me – and I should reach out to them…and that you wanted me to.

Little did I know it was going to be a horrific afternoon, as I spent some time on the phone sharing yet again with others that you were gone…asking for their help to sort out yet another unusual situation created by your death.   Over these last two months so many things fall into this category and most have been uphill battles.  As the details unfolded and I wrapped my head around the options,   I knew I needed help… I had to make a call…but I was so unsure of who it should be to.    My two closest friends didn’t qualify, so I made a list of those who would.  The job at hand did not match the  candidates, no matter how qualified or honored they would be to step up.

And as I have taught myself to do over these last two months, and as that little name tag in my pocket reminded me to do,  I thought about what you would want me to do …and immediately knew the answer.

And so, I called her.

I called the woman you loved, the woman you planned to spend the rest of your life with…who stood by your side through the horror of the summer, and who was now alone.  I have been saying for months that I hope she eventually heals enough to move on…and find someone amazing and worthy of her own amazingness.  And yet here I was, calling and dragging her into our lives and a hole that only exists because you are no longer here.  I felt horrible.  But I knew in my heart you would tell me to reach out to her.  I needed her and more importantly,  our child needed her.

We chatted and caught up, she asked about the girls.  And then I told her about my current dilemma.  I explained I was calling because I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, you would tell me to.

I was clear that she was my first call, but that there were others who would help.  I explained that she could absolutely say no and I would completely understand.  She was adamant, explained she thought she had mentioned it to you, and would do whatever I needed her to do. We commiserated over the situation, shared how sad we are that we have to even deal with it.  Honestly John,  I felt like I was talking to a sister-in-law who was dealing with her own grief but still so connected to our children.

There is a formal process she will now walk through with me,  some hoops to jump through, some very official  signing we will need to do together.  And honestly, I can not think of anyone better person suited for the job.  I have no doubt she will care as if she was her own.

John, the woman you love is standing right beside me,  helping us move forward as we still try to process your absence.  It is a testament to you John,  that your ex-wife can call your girlfriend and ask for a rather significant favor, and that we can work together out of our friendship and love for you to get us all through these obstacles.

Thanks for the message yesterday morning  my friend…it helped me find the prefect solution to an incredibly difficult situation.  As for the name tag, well I’m keeping it in the trench coat as a reminder that we have all the support we need to move forward, no matter how hard.

Still wishing every day that you were with us…we all do.

The Start… “I Have Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer”

On April 12, 2017 my life changed forever.  Those of you who have walked this path with me over the last several months have listened, cried, worried, hoped and prayed alongside our family. The writing I feel compelled to share now is a recount of my experience…the details of what we went through.

At the wake and the funeral so many people asked…what happened?  They hadn’t even heard he was sick and yet he was gone.  John R. Wengler, my ex-husband passed away on July 2, 2017.  Not even three months after his initial diagnosis.

So back to 4/12 – I was sitting in a conference at the Pyramid Club in Philly.  I knew that John was scheduled to be at UPenn medical that day.  He had found a lump on his neck and was meeting with a surgeon to have it removed.  Tests had shown it wasn’t cancer but the doctors were sure it still was.   Before I left that morning I commented to my husband that it wasn’t good that he still had the appointment.  Afterall, they always call with good news, you go in for the bad stuff.

At about 10:30 I heard from John with a text… “I have Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer.”  My heart sank for my dear friend as I envisioned the surgery and radiation would wreck his summer – and John R. Wengler LOVED summer.  My next thoughts were kind of strange and ranged from “for the love of gosh John, cancer…like we need to now juggle this right now?  Our girls were settled after the move, life was good, I needed time to spend on my business”  I quickly realized I had never heard of Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer…so I looked it up….

Rare…aggressive…deadly

What the hell?  I have a few friends who have had thyroid cancer…a little surgery, a little radiation and they are good to go.   But as I read in those first few minutes that he had a 10% chance of living a year, that treatment would be brutal, and most patients live just a few months…well I started to cry.

John was my friend, my co-parent.  What was he going to go through?  And what about our girls?  He was young…so young to get this…maybe his age would save him.  A myriad of questions filled my head as I continued to search on the small screen of the phone.  I texted my husband to let him know…and just continued to cry.

Just Keep Passing Out the Peanuts

On April 12, 2017 while attending a conference in Philadelphia I received a text from my ex-husband.  I knew he was also down in Philadelphia, his trip was to visit a surgeon at Penn hospital to remove a growing bump on his neck.

“I have anaplastic thyroid cancer.”

I originally thought, “oh jeeze, like me need this.  But whatever, we will get through it.”   Having never heard of this type of Thyroid Cancer I immediately looked it up.”  Tears filled my eyes, my hands started to shake, and stresses ripped through my body settling with that tingling feeling in my calves as I read…

“Rare…aggressive…deadly.”

I immediately asked him what stage he had…afterall, isn’t that one of the first thing they tell you?  I thought of our three teenage daughters…but as I dug a little deeper into the internet from my phone, I learned that this cancer is always stage 4.

As I look back on these last six weeks (it seems like I have been in a time warp, I have realized that at that moment John shared his news with me the plane our little family usually travels on started experiencing extreme turbulence.  And just like a flight attendant, my job would be to stay calm and just keep handing out the peanuts.

But let me tell you, that has not been easy.  He left his original surgery with a tracheotomy and was not able to speak for weeks.  Upon learning the results of surgery (which did not produce the miracle we hoped for), and many times since I have been the one to share news with our three daughters, and none of it has been particular good.  I was the one who told them the actual diagnosis, “dad is back in the hospital.”

I’m just now realizing the importance of writing about this.  My dear sister Susan reminded me of my gift and the cathartic impact.  Not to mention that I have a resounding message, that every divorced parent needs to hear…which will be shared with every post…

For the sake of your children make friends with your ex.  As divorced parents it is the greatest gift you can give to your children.

When You Need Help Starting A Business

Do you need help starting a business?  When I started my business I had an idea, expertise, a newly printed PhD.  I had my buddy Marcus Padulchick by my side (and even sitting on my shoulder), friends who would support me through anything, and a belief that I could build an empire.  With all of my grit and support I stumbled…many times.  I can remember hearing at a networking group that I needed a business plan…prospect management list and book keeper.  I searched for how-to’s while also managing a business that was taking off at warp speed.  I was struggling and I did not have to.

Don’t struggle through like I did…when you are starting a business your first stop should be the SBA.

Today I had the good fortune of attending the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce Women In Business Committee where Sonya Smith (Economic Development Specialist  at the SBA) told the group about the the services offered.  Over the years of building my business I have often said “they do not teach you about running a business in PhD school,”

Let me just state again, that SBA is a federal agency…the resources provided are free of charge for you.  So, when you have a business, starting a business, building your business (should I stay an LLC, how do I hire an employee) you can find resources to teach you what you need to know and make decisions.

Sonya Smith is an expert in helping small businesses grow in the greater Philadelphia area.  I have personally called Sonya with questions regarding the process of  getting certified as a woman owned business.  She is as kind of a person as she is knowledgeable and encouraging.  She helped me make a big decision and then encouraged me to run a workshop on social media at the SBA.

The SBA has many different programs, workshops and connections for you to take advantage of as you start and build your business including:

  1. Business Plans
  2. Capital
  3. Government Contracting
  4. Disaster Recovery
  5. Women Owned Business
  6. Veteran

 

Business Lessons from Getting My Hair Highlighted

Flying hair
© Cherrymerry | Dreamstime Stock Photos

This is not meant to be one of those “oh look, I have something to say and I’m going to cleverly tie it to getting my hair done”  This is an actual concrete real-world example when I learned the basics of business out of a life experience.

Let me start off by saying that for quite some time I have not loved my hair.  Up in a clip it has gone on all days.  I tried to get it highlighted before the wedding in July but the stylist told me afterwards “I didn’t give you the blond highlights you asked for because I didn’t think you would like them. ” Guess what…I didn’t like my non-highlighted blond hair or the $200 I spent to not get what I asked for.  In fact I sort of have issue when I don’t get what I want especially when I ask and pay for it.

My husband is convinced I was scared to get my hair highlighted and he is in large part 100% correct.  I would love it if we could all just age gracefully allowing our hair color to change over the years.  While I am a non-conformist in many ways I am also a realist and know that if everyone else is going to try to look younger I am not going to sit in a self-righteous slump and go grey.

So back to the same salon I trekked before Christmas.  Why?  Because it is the only organic shop in town and the thought of all those chemicals on my hair makes me a bit crazy.  When I called to make the appointment I did speak to the manager.  I explained that I was not really happy last time I visited and asked for the best colorist she had.  Oh my gosh, I walked out with the perfect result.  I mean, I love my hair.  So let me explain a few things I learned.

  1. You need a support team – this cut and color was in the works for months and required tremendous support from my bff Dannielle as well as the suburb hair coloring ability of Erin.  Without them this might not have happened.
  2. When you are not happy with a service you need to speak up – look, I wasn’t happy the first time around and the manager needed to know.  I didn’t scream, rant, rave or even ask for my money back.  I wanted her to understand that I was coming back for specific reasons and really was committed to finding a better person there to cut my hair.
  3. You need to be clear – I showed up with pictures and wording from Dannielle.  Basically I could have prepared a power point presentation on what was wrong with my hair and what I really wanted.
  4. You need to show grace – I am the first to admit that I had no idea what I was talking about when it comes to cut, color, decorating, styling, trends, (or cooking for that matter).  Yet, I am the client and should walk out happy.  This means I may have to go above and beyond and do my research to properly communicate what I want, and I need to do that in a non-superior tone that conveys I need the stylist’s help…no matter how much I hate spending (wasting) time being with her.

In building my business I have learned that grace, clarity, preparation and tact can go a long way when coupled with your expertise.  After all, I am the first person you should call if you have a social media or blogging question…no doubt about it.  But, I am the last person you should call to cook you dinner (unless you REALLY like pizza).

 

A CPA in Bucks County, PA

Michael Davis, CPA was at the first networking I ever attended as I started my business. Best_of_Bucks_2011_adOver these years I have found him to be one of the most honest individuals who is giving of his time (and knowledge) to his clients and friends.  Mike sat with me as my business started to grow and walked me through the systems I needed in place.  He gave me an abundance of advice in the type of retirement accounts I should set-up (what really is a SEP account anyway?).

Mike dedicates a significant amount of time to helping small businesses make more money and grow their businesses.  He has built a successful business for himself and wants to teach you how to do the same for your endeavor.  Mike is one of the most connected networkers I know and is happy to introduce you around.

While I am gifted in my expertise (haha) and the service I provide to my clients, I am continually learning about the running of a business.  This includes how to manage business finances, tax exposure and a 401k.  When Mike speaks I listen closely and today he spoke at the networking group we both beyond to.  Today, Mike shared these 5 key financial reports and how to use them:

  1. A daily profit and loss –  how much money have you made today?
  2. Sales report by product or customer – who spends the most with you and what product of yours is most successful?
  3. Accounts receivable  – who owes you money?
  4. Accounts payable – what are your outstanding financial obligations?
  5. Cash on hand  – how much cash do you have available?

Mike gives other great tips:

  • Pay as much of your business expenses on your credit card – you get miles.
  • Check out Quicken for your personal finances

This is not just a guy who can handle your personal and business taxes.  Mike will take the time to go over each detail of your business and look for the opportunity for you to maximize your efforts.

 

How to Build A Business Based on Your Values

Out and about promoting my business today I meandered to the home of Jamie Broderick  owner of Network Now Connections.  Jamie brought together thirty women for a morning of networking and building our businesses.  Our speaker today was no other than Sue Guiher of Thrive for Success.  She is an author, speaker, professor, and also an intuitive who helps you align your business with that which you truly value.

Sue discussed the importance of knowing what you stand for and creating a business based on your values and purpose.

Now let me just say that Sue Guiher is brilliant.  I worked with Sue to get to my core essences which are :  Trust (my lense), Uniqueness (fuel), and Courage (anchor).  When I worked with Sue she had me dig deep into myself and get to own who I really am.  As we uncovered those core values, so many pieces of my life that had caused great confusion or questioning to me in my life suddenly started to make sense.

Taking a Stand:  Connect with what you do.  So for instance, I stand for attorneys and business owners who want to build their businesses.  If you want to build and run a successful business you need to make sure you not only know your values but live through them every day.

The question is, what do you value and how does that connect to your stance?

Why are Values Important for Your Business:
Having done the values work, I will share that my core values not only seep into but also guide my businesses.   The problem is when we do not think about about our values and how they connect to our work.  Aligning our core values with our business can bring harmony to your whole person.  In fact, when you are out of alignment with your core values something doesn’t feel right, suffocated even adrift.

So the question is then, how strongly can you stand on your values.  What would sacrifice to maintain your values.  For instance, if you value integrity but knew a potential client was dishonest in their own interactions, would you still work with him/her?  What parts of you would you sacrifice for the sake of building?

Maybe, right now, you are having problems in your own business and you can not figure out why – maybe it is because you are out of alignment with your values and you do not even know it.

Sue’s mission is to help your business Thrive.  She wants to see each and every small business succeed.  She wants you to think big, then think a little bigger.  You are challenged to look inside and bring forth that which can propel you forward.

Remember, no value is good, bad, right or wrong.