Friday, March 13, 2009

How I survived Part 2

I wept as I read the comments from last week's post. Your kindness and tenderness touched those places in me that wept in the alley so the neighbors wouldn't hear. Thank you. (If you are having a down day check out Ed and Deb Shapiro, Dr. Judith Rich, John Morton, Anne Naylor, Kari Henley and Dr. Cara Barker they will lift you as well.) Having a supportive community gave me courage to dive back into my March Meltdown. Looking at the calendar I realize that much of it was happening almost exactly ten years ago - today.

Many of you told me how much my story helped you, so here goes...

Leaf on A River
In the blur of days after I lost my company I needed to figure out some way to make money. (Sound familiar?) I had been an actress and an entrepreneur so I had few marketable skills (Computer and office skills - yeah right, I was always the boss!) I knew how to cook up designs for "sumptuous adornments" and do a killer Arianna Huffington accent (even Arianna agrees!) ...but that was about it.

One of the greatest pieces of advice was from my friend Michael Hayes. "Look at your life as if you were a leaf on a river. Go where it takes you. Accept your opportunity - even if you don't understand it." I didn't have other options - so a leaf on a river I became.

This was great advice.

Try it.

From Business Owner to...Shirt Girl
I said yes to the first person that offered me a job, it was my first taste of humble pie. I went from Business Owner to...Shirt Girl. My new occupation was making custom shirts for Business Big Wigs. I hated pretty much every nano second of it...but at least I was eating.

Since I had always been good at schmoozing, I visualized that I might be able to cook up some sort of business opportunity by putting custom shirt clients together. Within eight months I did just that. (That high flying venture of Business Big Wigs put together by Shirt Girl was more of a movie script than a blog post.)

And the point of the story is.....

Reinvention Lesson #1: Eat Humble Pie
Do what you need to do to stay afloat. It may seem crappy in the immediate moment. (Trust me. I am right with you!) You will get through it.

Reinvention Lesson #2: Accept Your Opportunity
If you keep your focus on what you want to create, you are more likely to find a way to get there. Over time that lousy job helped me find my way to both consulting, coaching and later to becoming an author.

Reinvention Lesson #3: Use What You Got To Get What You Want
You have certain areas that you excel in more than others. I have been "working the room" since I could walk. What are a few areas of your own natural talents? Now is the time to harness what you do with ease.

Whack-A-Pee-Pee Piñatas
It is hard for me to type at the moment, because I am laughing so hard.

Whack-A-Pee-Pee was the name of first company that hired me as a consultant. I kid you not. A well-known doctor who bought shirts from me thought he would make a fortune-selling penis shaped piñatas. He heard of my business background and hired me to consult him on his new venture.

As much as I needed the money, I advised him to fire me. After I reviewed his business plan my recommendation was simple. "Don't do this!"

He needed to save the $100,000 he was about to spend on making injection (no pun intended) molds to mass-produce the "Provocative Piñatas." Dr. James* needed to put porno piñatas out of his head and stay in the business of medicine.

He was impressed that I didn't take his money as much as I needed it. That decision paid off. Dr. James saw that I knew how to build a business and I was honest. Those seemed to be somewhat unique qualities in the industrial medical field. He referred me to his friend whose medical practice was in a slump. I used the strategies that built orders in my design company to help that physicians business flourish. More medical practices asked for my consulting. My income doubled, tripled and then quadrupled. Friends saw that I went from driving a banged up Honda to a Mercedes. They asked me to coach them in their businesses. They used the tools and their incomes doubled. Soon I was coaching and writing a book on nights and weekends. A decade later I still have my medical consulting business. Boy, am I grateful!

And the point of the story is.....

Reinvention Lesson #4: Honesty Is The Best Policy
In the short term it would have been very easy to make several thousand dollars consulting for the Whack-A-Pee-Pee Piñata Company. Dr. James had plenty of cash. He got such a kick out of being in the provocative piñata business that he was happy to write checks. Being honest paid off. I hope that Wall Street will learn this lesson

Reinvention Lesson #5: Treat Everyone as Your Friend
One of the best pieces of business advice came from my minister. "Treat everyone as your friend." Now, more than ever this is a powerful tool. I could have dismissed Dr. James as a porno piñata kook. Treating him as a friend lead to him helping me start a consulting and coaching practice. Everyone is mega stressed these days. By treating everyone with respect you may open the door to an incredible opportunity.

As I write this I am in the midst of a whole new reinvention myself. So, I hope that you will share what you are doing to reinvent yourself.

* The name has been changed to protect this fine physician.

Are you ready to get out of the way and let your dreams have a say? Email Eli about how you reinvented yourself recently at or go to today.

Eli Davidson is a nationally recognized executive coach and motivational speaker. Her book, "Funky to Fabulous: Surefire Success Stories for the Savvy, Sassy and Swamped", (Oak Grove Publishing) has won three national book awards. Eli is a reinvention catalyst, who can transform your professional and personal life from Funky to Fabulous with her ten, trademarked Turnaround Techniques that create rapid and remarkable results.

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