Category Archives: Inspired

Call me a romantic, but I’m easily inspired-more often than I blog about, but when I get the chance to, here they are

Fitness and Faith: for optimal results, approach as prescribed!

I’ve noticed for some time now, that when I am speaking about God or Christianity, that I can often use exercise as an analogy.  It struck me the other day because I’m on a training regimen with so many components that building them into my lifestyle is the key to it’s existence and success; just like my faith.  I’ll unpack that a bit for you, along with some other correlations that I find helpful. IT’S A LIFESTYLE: To me, there is a 3-Pronged approach to creating a lifestyle: habits, schedule, community.  Neither faith or fitness is something that you can implement part of the time and experience measurable results.  Your faith and your fitness, if you want to be a warrior in either, have to be lifestyles that include daily practices, recurring calendar appointments, and people. for me: this means that I have certain habits that I do daily: I drink [a gallon] of water a day, I cook my own meals, I pray as soon as I wake up, then I eat breakfast.  I also have chosen to be a fitness instructor so that exercise is literally a non-negotiable appointment on my calendar several times a week.  “Church” is also on repeat in my calendar.  It’s the people who have people at the gym and church who are more apt to stick with the program.  Don’t be a loner in a  lifestyle that you want to go after.  There’s still much more to improve upon, but I live fitness and I live in faith.  They are lifestyles. THE PAIN BECOMES GAIN: When you lift weights, you are literally tearing the muscle fibers.  Muscles grow larger and stronger when they repair themselves after being torn; so, the situation has to get worse before it gets better.  Interesting, huh?!  In the same way, God grows our character through trials: periods of loneliness during which we grow closer to Him, temptations that strengthen our character, hopelessness that sends us into intercessory prayer.  On the other side of this: we are physically stronger from pushing those weights, feeling that soreness, and bearing that pain.  And we are spiritually stronger from the trials that we have endured. for me: this means that I am exhausted at the end of a weight-lifting session, but then I get to see and feel the growth in my muscles and I witness progress with the amount of weight I can lift.  I feel accomplished when I move up the weight rack!  In my spiritual life, it means that when I look back at the bleak times in my life, I can appreciate how far I’ve come, and I can see the contrast between that and a life with God’s presence in it. THERE IS A DEVIL TO RESISTshieldsofstrength2 Both faith and fitness require staying on the narrow path in order to achieve the results or the life we want.  These narrow paths are choked by temptations that we must resist.  In fitness, it’s chocolate cake, alcohol, and french fries.  In faith, it’s sex before marriage, gossip, and unforgiveness.  It is in the resisting of these temptations that we can experience the fullness of the body and spirit that we are seeking.  Resisting temptation also becomes easier over time. for me: this means that my home is filled with healthy food and Bible verses.  I don’t bring things into my home that will thwart my goals.  I admire and drink from sources that are respectable leaders in both industries so that my mind stays on track. ACCOUNTABILITY IS KEY Group fitness classes and community worship simply have better success rates than going at these things alone.  Even if we’re talking about one additional person, having someone to go to the gym or go to church with will oftentimes mean the difference between doing it or not.  Announcing that you’re going on a diet or surrendering something to God increases the success rate as well.  Man was not made to go at life alone; hook up with a buddy for the things that are important. for me: this doesn’t necessarily mean that I have a buddy to do everything with, but it does mean that I become related to the people around me: trainers, students, fellow gym rats, pastors, fellow church go-ers, in order to build a community and have accountability. shieldsofstrength3IT TAKES FAITH, TRUST THE PROCESS Anything worth having is worth waiting for, right?!  It’s usually around after one month of compliance with a diet and exercise plan that I begin to notice results.  That’s one month of just eating and moving in faith.  In the same way, we have to take a leap of faith to jump into a life with God and be vulnerable in order to experience His fullness.  We have to move into his calling, sometimes against all logic, without seeing any hope, and just believe that He is for us. for me: this means that I operate on faith and that I gobble up fitness success stories and testimonies from faithful Christians to fuel that faith.  I live my Christian life based on principle, not emotion and I eat for nutrition, not to feed my feelings. These photos are from Shields of Strength, a company that has fused faith and fitness into fantastic jewelry designs.  I love the concept, obviously, and shall be buying one!

THE ONE THING

Success is built sequentially: action begets action. habits beget habits. success begets success.
Success is built sequentially: action begets action. habits beget habits. success begets success.
Two events happened simultaneously: A friend of mine recommended a book called “The One Thing” and another friend of mine had a heart-to-heart with me about lacking focus and asked me a focusing question that read like “What is the one thing that you want to do, to be known for?”  I could have sworn he had read the book, but he hadn’t, he was just an experienced self-starter and more importantly…a self-finisher.  Yes.  That is the distinction that I made that night.  That because I did so many things and was so altruistic with my time and so varied in my talents…I simply wasn’t finishing anything, really.  And so I decided in that moment that there was no ignoring the lack of SINGULAR focus in my life and I’m ready to implement it now.  There is SO  much good stuff in this book!  I took copious notes and rather than attempting to translate them into a gazillion tweet-ables, here are all my notes.  Read ’em; then still go GET THE BOOK because you need get what it means for your life!

DISCIPLINE

Discipline is myth.  People are a result of their habits.  Develop enough discipline to create a habit and then the amount of discipline necessary to achieve that action will become minimal.  The average amount of time required for this is 66 days.  Self-help books tout 21 days, but stick to it for 66 days, which was the mean on a spectrum of habits ranging from easy to hard.
Regularly work at something until it regularly works for you.
People who appear to be disciplined have simply trained a handful of habits into their lives.
Choose the right habit and bring just enough discipline to establish it.  That’s it.  That’s all the discipline you need
Be a person of powerful habits / Develop one habit at a time/ Give each habit enough time.

WILLPOWER

Willpower is a limited resource.  It’s most available early in the day, so do the ONE Thing early in the day before the day has had a chance to drain on your supply.
Willpower-heavy activities and my combats:
implementing new behaviors
filtering distractions (work in a non-distracting environment)
resisting temptation (don’t bring temptation home)
suppressing emotion (express myself)
restraining aggression (express myself)
suppressing impulses (follow my gut)
trying to impress others (just be myself) 
coping with fear (be courageous)
doing something you don’t enjoy (do things that I love)
selecting long-term over short-term rewards (do things that I love)
Reserve your willpower for what matters on any given day since you have a limited supply/ fuel your brain properly/ Do what matters most early

THE SUCCESS HABIT

What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else ail be easier or necessary?  
Ask this in the morning, when you get to work, when you get home, etc.
Ask GREAT Questions to get GREAT Answers.  Big and Specific questions push you and are framed to be measurable.  

TIME BLOCKING

It’s a way of making sure that what has to be done gets done (The suns rays do not burn until brought into focus)
Go to your calendar and block off all the time you need to accomplish your ONE Thing, whether it’s one time or recurring
Everything else must wait – expect chaos – expect to say no
Once you do your ONE Thing for the day, you can devote the rest of it to everything else (just use the focusing activity to identify it) (rinse and repeat until the workday is done)

TIME BLOCK YOUR TIME OFF

Extraordinarily successful people launch their year by taking time out to plan their time off.  They know they’ll need it and they know they’ll be able to afford it.  The most successful simply see themselves as working between vacations.
the least successful don’t reserve time off because they don’t think they’ll deserve it or be able to afford it.
By time blocking your time off = managing your work time around your down time instead of the other way around
When you intend to be successful, you start by protecting time to recharge and reward yourself.
Resting is as important as working
So take time off.  Block out long weekends and long vacations, then take them!
Re-Creation Time!

TIME BLOCK YOUR ONE THING

The most productive people (who experience extraordinary results) design their days around doing their ONE Thing.
They don’t necessarily call their day done if their ONE thing isn’t (dairy farmer milks all the cows)
Successful people work on “event” time, others work on “clock” time
Best way: Do it EARLY!  Set 30-60 min to take care of morning duties (breakfast, praying, reading Bible, email, schedule, etc)/ then move to ONE Thing/ Block out 4 Hours minimum, do more if you can/ (Stephen King)

TIME BLOCK YOUR PLANNING TIME

Reflect on where you are and where you want to go
Annual planning (at end of year w/ enough time to get a running start for next year)
Take a look at SOMEDAY and 5 YEAR goals and assess the progress you must make in the next year to be on track.
Block an hour each week to review your ANNUAL and MONTHLY goals
Ask what needs to happen that month to be on target for annual goals
Then, what needs to happen that week to be on target for monthly goals
Essentially asking: What’s the ONE Thing I need to do this week to stay on track for my monthly goal and for my monthly goal to be on track for my annual goal?  (Jerry Seinfeld: put an X through each day that he wrote jokes; he eventually created a chain; he didn’t break the chain)

PROTECT YOUR TIME BLOCK

If you erase, you must replace
Internalize the domino fall that will happen when your ONE Thing gets done, and remember that everything else you might do or have to do will be easier or unnecessary.
UNTIL MY ONE THING IS DONE, EVERYTHING ELSE IS A DISTRACTION!
When stuff pops into your head, write it down on a task list and get back to work; brain dump

THE THREE COMMITMENTS

  • Follow the Path of Mastery
  • Move from “E” to “P”
  • Live the Accountability Cycle

FOLLOW THE PATH OF MASTERY

When you see mastery as a path you go down instead of a destination you arrive at, it starts to feel accessible and attainable.  Mastery is a way o thinking, a way of acting, and a journey you experience.  When what you’ve chosen to master is the right thing, then pursuing mastery of it will make everything else you do either easier or no longer necessary.  What’s why what you choose to master matters.
Healthy view of master: giving the best you have to become the best you can be at your most important work.
How much time do I need to block out to master something? 
4 hours a day if every work day (250 workdays) = 10,000 hours over 10 years
3 hours a day if every day (365)
[I will workout/eat right for 3 hours every day] in order to master winning a fitness competition!
As you progress along the path of mastery, your success competence grows
The path of mastery is not so different from one pursuit to the next
Giving yourself over to mastering ONE Thing serves as a platform for, and speeds up the process of, doing other things.
Knowledge begets knowledge and skill begets skill.

MOVE FROM “E” Entrepreneurial TO “P” Purposeful

The path of mastering something is the combination of not only doing the best you can do it, but also doing it the best it can be done.  Continually improving how you do something is critical to getting the most from time blocking.
Entrepreneurial – our natural approach.  Seeing something we want to do or that needs to be done and racing off to do it w/ enthusiasm, energy, & our natural abilities.  There is an inherent natural ceiling here.  This doesn’t work for the ONE Thing.
Highly productive people don’t accept the limitations of their natural approach as the final word on their success.  When they hit a ceiling, they look for new models and systems, better ways to do things to push them through.  They pause just long enough to examine their options, pick the best one, and then they’re right back at it.
With a “P” mindset, you can achieve breakthroughs and accomplish things far beyond your natural abilities.
the “P” mindset wants to keep learning and so seeks out a new model, a new system, or both.
It will feel unnatural: adopt new thinking, new skills, and new relationships = unlocking potential

LIVE THE ACCOUNTABILITY CYCLE

Taking complete ownership of your outcomes by holding no one but yourself responsible for them is the most powerful thing you can do to drive your success.
Accountable people:
absorb setbacks and keep going
persevere through problems and keep pushing forward
are results oriented and never defend actions, skill levels, models, systems, or relationships that aren’t getting the job done.
When life happens, you can either be the author of your life or the victim of it.
Successful people are clear about their role in the events of their life.  They seek reality, acknowledge it, and own it.
The fastest way to accountability is getting a partner.  Writing goals =39% more effective / Sharing goals = 76% more effective

THE FOUR THIEVES OF PRODUCTIVITY

INABILITY TO SAY NO

one “yes” must be defended over time by 1,000 “nos.”  Protect what you’ve said yes to by saying no to anyone or anything that could derail you.  How you handle interruptions determines the time you’re able to devote to your YOUR Thing and the results you’re ultimately able to produce.  When you say yes to something, it’s imperative that you understand what you’re saying no to.  “One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it.” -Sidney Howard, Gone with the Wind Screenwriter.  Steve Jobs example.  Saying yes to your ONE Thing is your TOP Priority.
All of us struggle to some degree w/ saying no.  You can say no with respect, promptly, and with a lead to someone who might say yes.  But just saying yes because you can’t bear the short-term pain of saying no is not going to help you do the work.
A request must be connected to my ONE Thing for me to consider it -author’s Three-Foot Rule
If you don’t make your life about what you say “yes” to, it will most certainly become what you say intended to say “no” to.
When you give your ONE Thing your most emphatic YES and vigorously say NO to the rest, extraordinary results become possible.

FEAR OF CHAOS

Untidiness. Unrest. Disarray. Disorder…all happen on the way to extraordinary results.
Focusing on ONE Thing = other things not getting done.
It’s a package deal: When you strive for greatness, chaos is guaranteed to show up.
beg, barter, get creative to protect your time block.  Don’t sacrifice it on the alter of “I just can’t make it work.”
In time, commitment to your ONE Thing creates the income or opportunity to manage the chaos.  Trust your ONE Thing will come through for you.

POOR HEALTH HABITS

High achievement and extraordinary results require big energy.  Think of yourself as the amazing biological machine you are and consider this daily energy plan for high productivity:
Begin early w/ meditation and prayer for spiritual energy; starting the day by connecting w/ your higher purpose aligns your thoughts and actions with a larger story.
Then move straight to the kitchen for a nutritious breakfast
Fueled up, head to your exercise spot to relieve stress and strengthen the body.
Find your loved ones: hug, talk, & laugh.  You’ll be reminded why you’re working in the first pale
Grab your calendar and plan your day.
At work: give yourself some time to do morning priorities and then get to your ONE Thing
Get eight hours of sleep. Protect your sleep by determining what time you have to sleep each night and don’t be lured away from it.  Connect proper sleep with success, you’ll have a reason to get up and you’ll go to sleep at the right time.

THE HIGHLY PRODUCTIVE PERSON’S DAILY ENERGY PLAN

  • meditate and pray for spiritual energy
  • eat right, exercise, and sleep sufficiently for physical energy
  • hug, kiss, and laugh w/ loved ones for emotional energy
  • set goals, plan, and calendar for mental energy
  • Time block your ONE Thing for business energy

YOUR ENVIRONMENT DOESN’T SUPPORT YOUR GOALS

No one succeeds alone and no one fails alone.  Pay attention to the people around you.  The individuals in your life will influence you and impact you – probably more than you give them credit for.  Give them their due and make sure that the sway they have on you sends you in the direction you want to go.  (i.e.:Don’t drive past your neighbor if you can’t spare to chat)

THE JOURNEY

Close your eyes and imagine your life as big as it can possibly be.  as big as you have ever dared to dream, and then some.  Whatever you can see, you have the capacity to move toward.  And when what you go for is as vast as you can possibly envision, you’ll be living the biggest life you can possibly live.  Living large is that simple.
Multiply your income by a number until your current actions couldn’t get you there in 5 years; then make your actions match your answer.
Extraordinary results require you to GO SMALL.  Getting your focus as small as possible requires simplifies your thinking and crystallizes what you must do.
There is no surefire thing, but there is always something, ONE Thing, that out of everything matters more than anything.  There won’t necessarily be one thing or the same thing forever.  At any one moment in time there can be only ONE Thing, and when that ONE Thing is in line with your purpose and sits atop your priorities, it will be the most productive thing you can do to launch you toward the best you can be.
Actions build on action.  Habits build on habit.  Success builds on success.
A life worth living might be measured in many ways, but the one way that stands above all others is living a life of no regrets.
Live your life to minimize the regrets you might have at the end.
The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying:
I wish that I’d let myself be happier
I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends
I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
All success in life starts within you.  You know what to do.  You know how to do it.  Your next step is simple.  You are the first domino.

My Landmark Forum Experience

I recently took a course called the Landmark Forum that has seismically shifted the space that I’m operating in.  I was referred to it by a trusted friend who reported all sorts of positive results.  Being that I felt I could afford to experience a breakthrough, I waffled a bit and then prodded by some frustrations and a check that came in, I made my move!  And so, on a recent weekend, I found myself spending 3 days, 10 hours each day, soaking up radical views on our existence and approaches to our life events.  Below are the points that made the most impact on me.  I’m excited to share with you and solidify the information for myself as well.
 
What happened vs. Your story of What happened. landmarkWe are meaning-making machines.  We attach meaning to stuff that simply happens and those meanings usually don’t serve us.  Then we drag those meanings all the way through life so that our present state of being is a result of a damaged child.  Remove meaning from all the bad things in your life and you will be free to to have peace of mind, self-expression, power, etc. What this means to me: My dad can hang up the phone abruptly with me and I won’t take it to mean he’s insensitive or doesn’t want to talk or doesn’t love me.  I can leave it as simply “He hung up the phone.”  This simplicity allows me to step into the next moment w/o preoccupation from life’s stories.  We have the freedom to change our stories as well.  “I am not a morning person,” is just a story and can be changed if you choose to author it differently.  
 
Get good w/ your parents
One assignment that everyone had  was to call their parents and thank them for the gift of life and for all the good things in his/her life.  Conversely, such meant that everyone then had to take responsibility for all of the things that were not good in his/her life.  Everything that your parents did after giving birth to you was bonus.  And thus, they don’t owe you for any of the things that you are probably blaming them for.
An entire room of almost 300 people were making calls to their parents to say “I love you.”  Chinese twenty-somethings who hadn’t called their parents in weeks to seniors who had decades of resentment to release…released it all.  It was incredible to witness healing on such a massive scale.  For me, it softened my approach towards my parents and gave me compassion for them.  

Relationships are 100/0
We usually think of relationships as being 50/50….and so we wait around if we feel that the ball is in the other person’s court.  Well, Landmark teaches that all it takes is one person to decide he/she wants to make the relationship whole and the other person will rise to the occasion.  This gives you permission to take action.  Now that’s uncomfortable, but it’s going to save the relationship. This was huge for me.  It took the waiting out of  reconciliation.  It told me loud and clear that I needed to make some phone calls.  
 
Don’t make anyone wrong. There is no wrong; there is just another possibility.  Consider the possibility that someone else has another way of doing something.  Then, when you talk to them about it, you aren’t coming from a self-righteous, “attitude-y” place; you are coming from a place of enlightenment where you want to create a new possibility for yourself and that person.  You can be right and alone or you can have a relationship.  And no one wants to go to the grave, “having been right” [and no one at their funeral].
 
Forgiveness Forgiveness does not condone the action at hand.  Forgiveness is for you; it releases you from the right to punish or resent the other.  And when you have resentment in your heart, you’re not at ease, aka dis- ease, aka disease, aka you get sick!  And when you ask them to forgive you, you’re releasing them from resenting and punishing you.  That is why it’s so important to apologize.  An apology completes the relationship.
mothertheresa
 
You chose everything in your life. Your life is a result of your choices, not your decisions.  Decisions involve reasons.  Choosing is simply your choice.  Therefore, if you take on the mindset that you chose your parents; you chose yourself; you chose everything, then everything is perfect and thus you have perfect parents, you are perfect, your body is perfect, etc.  When you start using the word “choose,” you empower yourself and stop making yourself a victim to your circumstances.
 
Everything in the present is given by the future.  
When it’s Friday, you’re already living in the weekend.  When it’s Sunday, you’re already living at work.  When you have a vacation in que, you are already losing weight for it two months out.  Thus, the present is given by the future.  Now, if you attach meaning to the past, the future is consumed by an effort to try to recreate the past or avoid the past and the present is given by that.  So, your present is simply about the future which is about the past.  But if the past has no meaning, then it doesn’t exist in the future, and thus, your present is unaffected by it.  Then, you can enjoy the moment.
Life is Meaningless; don’t take things so seriously. The game of life was invented to raise the stakes in a game to keep us interested.  I didn’t like the way this sounded to me at first, but I have to admit that this phrase has removed a lot of the stress and burden that I oftentimes place upon myself in the name of being successful, being a good daughter/sister/friend, being a good Christian.  A levity is discernible to me post-Forum. There is no tomorrow, there is no past, there is just now, then now, then now, etc.  Just live in now.
Don’t place so much significance on weight, it’s just weight.  And then it comes down to discipline. This was big for me, but I think that being in a happier, more secure place after the Forum will help me be in control of my diet and exercise naturally.  Then, not placing such great emphasis on weight will make it easier to create a transformation as well.  Whatever you resist, persists.
Language is the author of everything.
When God said, “Let there by light,” there was light.  Create new possibilities for yourself by speaking them out.  Declaring is the beginning of creation
possible
These were just  some of the moments that took residence in my brain.  I have to say that I’m excited to take the Seminar Series on Thursday, designed to help one solidify their knowledge from the Forum.  I would whole-heartedly recommend the Forum to anyone who is looking to lessen frustration, decrease stress, heal relationships, remove life clogs and drains, in order to ultimately live life w/ power, peace of mind, self-expression, and freedom…what we all want.  (Power is the velocity with which you can enact ideas into action).  Anything is available that you want for yourself.
I didn’t buy into everything that the Forum taught, and so I’ll add the disclaimer that it will not necessarily all be for you.  But I’d be lying if I didn’t confess that I’m feeling like I can breathe easier, live more spontaneously, shrug off things that don’t serve me, and choose the life that I want.  I’m relaxed!  And all because life is meaningless…go figure!

Who Are Your Lifelines?

I’ve started and put down many business ideas.  I’ve also started and am still growing other business ideas.  What  did the business ideas that survived have that the others did not?  In a word…a team.  What do we always hear makes working out, dieting, staying sober, praying, etc, more “sticky?”  Accountability partners.  It’s no different than for a business idea or project.  Build a community that will rally around, validate, and contribute to your goal and its chances for success will skyrocket. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to call this community your lifeline because this is how critical it can be to your success.  There will be times where your lifeline will literally cause a resurrection of your idea, inject new life into your idea, or simply keep the life flowing into your idea.  You can’t do these things alone.  The bigger your idea, the greater the resistance, and the more crucial your team…or lifeline. I can hear your questions arising already.  And so, let me overcome some objections. What if I don’t want a partner in my business? Having a lifeline does not mean naming someone else as co-founder, splitting your baby down the middle with someone else, etc.  It can mean wrangling, interviewing, researching people that believe in your idea enough to contribute intellectually, financially, or hands-on.  It can mean having interns who are willing to do work for you.  It simply means having specific people who are now attached to your project, in addition to yourself. What if I have a mastermind group? I have been a part of mastermind groups that I’ve started and I love the idea.  Eventually, however, I’ve found that the ideas and agendas diverged too much to be able to offer long-lasting and ongoing feedback for each individual.  With lifelines, those attached have roles that contribute directly to your idea, not just to you.  A lifeline plays a role in the operation of your idea and thus, will always be relevant. What if I don’t have money to pay people?  If your idea is good enough and you are easy enough to work with, your lifeline will be free of charge.  People will rally around your idea, with or without the promise of pay.  Although, as a smart business man/woman, I’m sure your idea is designed to eventually pay you and the lifeline that contributed to its success! What does having a team accomplish exactly? My goodness, having a team does so much.  Besides the obvious practical benefits, such as being able to share the workload, gain perspective, and collaborate on ideas, here are some other benefits that I’ve learned to be grateful for: Moral support:  When you’re down, it’ll bring you up.  It has come in the form of an email, a comment, a text, etc.  The vehicle didn’t matter; the content was what lifted me up.  When you’re birthing or growing something new, your lifeline is a community of believers that without even knowing it sometimes, will encourage you and renew you. Responsibility:  You’re less likely to let others down.  It’s easy to drop things when no one knows about them.  Private failure is easier to stomach.  But there’s a reason why sites like stickk.com which sets you up to pay someone or an anti-charity if you fail at your goal.  We also work harder when the welfare of others are at stake.  We will much sooner abuse ourselves and our own time before we’ll affect others like that.  So use your lifeline as insurance on your dream. Validation:   If they’re willing to work for you, your idea is worth something.  Imagine being able to look around and see people investing in your idea.  There is no greater proof than that that you’re onto something right.  It’s the ultimate litmus test for any project and is ongoing evidence you can access to fuel yourself. My personal experience: I have two businesses that I have started: Actors In Christ and Get Fit NY.  They both have full-fledged teams that are 100% committed to the operation and success of these brainchilds.  These lifelines are a huge part of my ongoing progress, motivation, and satisfaction with my projects.  The inspiration for this blog, for example, was that I was taking a break from both projects for a short while and have found my community prodding me to get the ball rolling again.  I cannot affirm that I would have picked the ball back up, let alone, roll it, without someone to share it with.  This time, a singular text, charged with enthusiasm that she “really believes in this project” and that it’ll become “huge” re-invigorated me.  And there have been so many other moments and there will continue to be many more moments.  I’m so grateful for a community where I can “phone a friend,” “poll the audience,” etc, because without these lifelines, I’d be much worse off.  And so, I encourage you to gather your lifelines and experience some of their life-giving moments for yourself!

Overcoming the Resistance!

I discovered Michael Hyatt by way of a Facebook comment from a former-NY, now west-coast friend.  She throw his link at me, I bit, and have been chomping away ever since!  The titles of his podcasts all captured me and I was at a loss for finding even one that I did not want to hear; everything from “A Leader’s Heart” to “How to Take Control of your Inbox,” resonated with me.  I plugged Michael in during car rides, runs, & cardio sessions and it was the best multi-tasking tool!  I could complete a 45-min cardio session and “Learn how to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty” all in one shot! Well, they say that the best way to get something to “stick” is to repeat it, so here’s one podcast that especially grabbed me: “How to Overcome the Resistance!” At first, this conjured up images of war for me for some reason, but after a few seconds, I realized that this was fortunately, way off base!  So, in actuality, the resistance is “That invisible, destructive force that  opposes you anytime you try to accomplish something significant or make an improvement in any area of your life.”  Resistance is that thing that causes procrastination, negativity, skewed perspectives, etc. Here is how to identify resistance: INVISIBLE: you cannot see, hear, taste, touch it; you can feel it INTERNAL: Michael Hyatt gives an example here of a Barracuda experiment where a glass partition is placed in a tank to separate a Barracuda from his prey.  He smashes into the glass in his attempts to attack the smaller fish and becomes gradually less aggressive until he gives up completely.  Eventually, even when the glass is removed, the Barracuda, so trained to, no longer attacks the fish and they can actually swim about the tank, unassailed.  The Barracuda’s obstacle is internal.  The resistance is self-generated, self-perpetuated, the enemy within, the story we’re telling ourselves.  For example, “I’m just not good at this,” or  “No one will hire someone my age,” etc INSIDIOUS: It opposes every good thing and prevents us from becoming all that God designed us to be.  The resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. INFALLIBLE: The resistance will always show up and point true north.  In this way, we can navigate based on the resistance.  For example, the presence of the resistance can act as a guide on your journey to significant work.  For example, you won’t experience resistance if  checking Facebook vs work doing work.  You won’t experience resistance ordering dessert vs hitting the gym.  The more important the work, the more opposition we’ll experience. So, now that you can identify resistance, the next task is HOW TO DEFEAT IT! Here are the resistance’s primary strategies and the prescribed countermeasures: FEAR: usually happens at the start of a project.  Our typical response is PROCRASTINATION; the  countermeasure is to START. Until one commits, there is hesitancy.  The moment one commits oneself, then providence moves too.  A whole stream of assistance comes your way.   Whatever you can do or dream, you can begin it.  Whatever it is you think you need in order to begin won’t show up until you take the first step.  Develop the discipline of beginning.  Look fear in the face and just step into it. UNCERTAINTY: This usually happens in the middle of a project.  Our typical response is to get DISTRACTED; the countermeasure is to FOCUS. Stay focused and develop the discipline of pushing through; this is the only way to get out of the middle of a project.  Anxiety, self-doubt, etc, all present themselves in the middle of a project; that’s how it always feels in the middle.  But remember that you always feel uncertain before you feel certain. DOUBT: usually occurs at the end of a project.  Our typical response is to QUIT; the countermeasure: FINISH. Practice not quitting.  Finish at all costs.  Develop the discipline of finishing. I think that for those of us who want to make a difference in this world, we’re up against resistance all the time.  I loved the examples of when we experience resistance and when we don’t.  Of course we won’t experience resistance with sleeping in, eating junk food, and maintaining the status quo.  When we will experience resistance, however, is in re-engineering our mornings (another great podcast of his), eating clean, and going above and beyond.  So, hats off to all of you who are beginning, in the middle, or finishing some significant project.  You are undoubtedly being challenged by some resistance, but I have no doubt that you will begin, focus, and finish that good work!  Here’s to resistance…bring it on! Here’s the podcast: download and subscribe…he’s good!

An Evening With Euna Lee: more than I ever expected

I attended a talk the other day, ” An Evening with Euna Lee,” and was brought to tears by this woman’s testimony of twisted fate, desperate faith, and redemption.  Her name may not ring a bell as clearly as Laura Ling, but they both suffered the same ill fortune: imprisonment in North Korea which punctuated their documentary project in the bordering country of China. I will confess that I did not follow the story too closely at the time, but the incredibly personal version of her story that evening trumped anything that I could have ever gleaned from CNN.  Just to recap the basics, Lee and Ling were arrested on March 17, 2009.  They were filming a documentary on human trafficking and accidentally crossed into the North Korean border without a visa.  They were imprisoned for 140 days during which they were subject to ongoing interrogations.  Former US President Bill Clinton visited North Korea in an attempt to free Lee and fellow journalist Laura Ling. The North Korean government pardoned both Lee and Ling after meeting with Clinton that day. These are the basic facts.  There was a lot more that I learned that evening.  Here are some realizations that will take your breath away. LEE AND LING WERE LED TO CROSS THE BORDER: I think that many are guilty of judging Ling and Lee as being foolish for toying with the infamous Korean government by treading so closely to their border.  Lee, however, described the harrowing event of their arrest.  According to Lee, they were being guided by an officer at a certain point in their trip.  Lee said that she had eaten dinner with the Korean-Chinese officer and felt that she could trust him.  The following day, they were traveling near the border, which, by the way, had no markings.  “There was no wire, no wall, no guards to identify the border,” Lee said.  At one point, the guard crossed a small river and beckoned for them to follow.  Without hesitation, they all followed suit.  But within moments, a simultaneous sentiment arose amongst the group that something wasn’t right and they all immediately retreated.  Lee said that as they did that, a member of the group said, “soldiers!” and indeed, Korean soldiers were racing toward them at full speed.  As she was running, the guard ran alongside Euna and asked her, “Are you filming?”  Lee said that she thought he was crazy…until she flipped open her camera, gripped it under her arm, and continued to run with it.  Lee said that they all ran for their lives, some of them crossing to the other side to safety…and then, Laura fell.  “I couldn’t move,” said Euna.  “I couldn’t leave her.”  Laura’s leg was injured, Lee stopped, and within seconds they were surrounded and arrested.  And so began the 140 days of their imprisonment and America’s vigil.
Euna, Michael, & Hana reunite
EUNA LEE HAD A FAMILY I think that many people imagined Lee being a “bandit” reporter of sorts, what with her seemingly underestimating the dangers her environment by encroaching on a country so known to be corrupt.  I never would have imagined her, instead, to be a wife and a mother.  At the talk, a little girl raised her hand with an innocently vague question: “How did you feel?”  The audience chuckled, but Lee graciously described how she missed her daughter while in prison.  “I drew a picture of my daughter so that I could toucher her face and look at her and hug her.”  And now I’m so glad that I can do that for real.  That little girl who raised her hand was Hana, indeed, Lee’s daughter, now six, then, only three.  Interviewer Megan Alexander invited Lee’s husband and daughter onto the stage and you just had to cry at the sight of this beautiful family, or rather cry at the thought of this beautiful family having been torn apart so suddenly, so violently, so hopelessly.  Tears welled up in my eyes as watched Euna hold her daughter on her lap, her husband alongside.
Euna Lee’s book: “The World is Bigger Now”
EUNA LEE IS A CHRISTIAN Somebody in the audience raised her hand and asked Euna, “Were there certain Bible passages and verse that you turned to during this time to sustain you?”  I thought to myself, “Whoa, someone is BOLD, asking a question like that! ”  But that shock was nothing in comparison to Euna’s answer that the passage in Psalms 23:4, reading, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”   My mouth dropped with the realization that Euna Lee prayed and cried out to God in that prison.  She said that she wished she had been more diligent in memorizing Scriptures as a young girl, as she was desperate for them in those dark months.  That passage became a lifeline of sorts for her; yet, Lee still longed for her family. The most dramatic moment of the night for me was when Euna disclosed that she ultimately surrendered her family to God.  “I said to God, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen to my family, God, but if I never see them again, I trust you to take care of them.’  And that was the hardest thing that I ever had to do.”  Unbeknownst to her, her husband, back in America had just surrendered her to God as well.  And two weeks later…Euna was rescued!  The drama!  The emotion!  I could hardly take it!  This was such an Abraham and Isaac story! I was speechless by the close of the evening.  I had come expecting a news/politics talk and found myself experiencing God’s incredible work in the intimate details of this world news story.  I purchased her book in my feeble attempt to express my gratitude for this woman and will most likely post about it in the near future.  😉  Praise God.

Spark & Hustle

On the recommendation of a trusted acquaintance, I attended Spark & Hustle, a one-day conference to inspire the female entrepreneur.  It was held at Columbia University and boasted a roster of experts in the areas of everything from real estate to makeup to Youtube videos to all things mommy.  The Keynote conversation was between founder of Spark & Hustle, Tory Johnson and co-founder of Vera Bradley, Barbara Bradley.  Founder of Peeled Snacks, (those adorable fruit snacks in Starbucks!)  Noha Waibsnaider, was in the house; Gretchen Rubin, bestselling author of The Happiness Project, graced us all with her presence, and the real-estage mogul Barbara Corcoran proved to be a fantastic close to the evening!  It truly was a veritable buffet of generous free-flowing knowledge and inspiration, refreshingly honest revelations, and laugh-out-loud anecdotes.  Here are some of the day’s fantastic lightbulb moments! Barbara Bradley Baekgaard (Vera Bradley) Barbara was the Keynote Conversation (I love that term, btw!) and Tory interviewed her, asking her to take us back to the days when she was a “wallpaper-er.”  Barbara spoke candidly about her humble beginnings.  For example, she didn’t tell her husband when she first started earning her own money.  Instead, she would “put on” that she had been home all day by throwing some food on the pan and jumping out of her uniform as soon as she got home.  She also received one of her first big breaks by accident when a company thought she was with Vera-something else.  Nevertheless, she capitalized on their mistake and scored an appointment with the boss.  She told how each of her bags being $18 developed her memorization for the “18’s times tables!”  Her father’s advice always stuck with her: “You sell yourself first, your company second, and your product third.” One of my favorite gems from Ms. Bradley was: “We don’t hire people and then tell them to be nice; we hire nice people.” Clearly with an employee base of 2,100 employees, she’s doing something right.  Two of the core values that are paramount to Vera Bradley’s success, explained Barbara, were being “Fussy” and “Fun.”  She said that celebrating birthdays is a staple in their offices: everyone gets $50 cash and a card signed by everyone.  I loved that and have decided right then and there to apply that one to Actors InC: “Celebrate Birthdays!”  Barbara specified: friends, family, and faith as the three cornerstones of her company.  She finally said that if we are struggling with an aspect of the company, we should go and find someone who can do it better. Michael Alter, president and CEO of Sure Payroll: made 5 keypoints that he believed would give us insight into building our businesses.
  • Business is like Walking: Just like his kids, Michael said we have to bump our heads and “celebrate our mistakes.”  He actually rewards “the best new mistake” at Sure Payroll!
  • Use your strengths to your advantage: Being a small business is our positive.  We can be more agile and adaptable than a multi-layered company choked by policies and procedures.
  • The toughest thing is saying “no” to business: If a business offer takes you in a different direction, then the money is not worth the price of digressing from your vision/goal.
  • the paradigm of “Fixing your weaknesses” is flawed: Contrary to what we learned in traditional schooling, focus on what you’re passionate about and hire someone to take care of your “weaknesses.”
  • Leverage Technology: Nowadays, a small company can appear big!  Level the playing field by looking and acting like a big company with the technology for url’s, conference calls, and more!
True spark and hustle: What struck me as a common theme amongst the speakers was the sheer chutzpah that they displayed.  Not only did these women not take “no” for an answer, but they blazed new trails and were quintessential embodiments of “spark and hustle.”  For example, when Tory held her first career fair, she had no connections…just a dream to show off “Women for Hire.”  So she reached out to Mademoiselle Magazine, the big magazine of these time, and pulled them in as a sponsor!  She also dreamed of having Star Jones, who had just joined the View at that time, appear.  How to go about doing that, however, when Tory had no connections?  Well, being that Star had just released a book, Tory sprung on the idea to offer to buy 100 copies in exchange for Star Jones coming to sign the books.  What a plan!  Love it! Additionally, Nicole Feliciano, founder of momtrends.com, didn’t balk at the idea of making her own Youtube videos.  With her baby in school and nanny on camera-duty, she started posting up fashion video bites…and that’s how it all began for her!  At that moment, I felt a confirmation about making a webseries; this is the day and age of “Do It Yourself!”  Laura Geller, a makeup line owner touted as a QVC Queen, also stressed the importance of driving your own visions.  In the face of doubt and even “no’s” she has historically forged ahead to success.  Even now, she has a nail concept that she cannot receive positive feedback on, and yet, she remains unruffled and believes she will break through the barrier soon enough.  So the lesson here is to put in the hard work, persevere through dissent, and as Liz Lange, owner of the only maternity line at Target, said: “Have a ridiculous amount of optimism and poor judgement, in a good way!” Gretchen Rubin was an intriguing subject to hear from.  Firstly, her mission was very interesting: She spent a year test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.  With an unassuming and modest presentation, Rubin revealed to us some of her project finds.  She said that SLEEP is a major culprit in depriving us of our happiness.  Adults need 7-9 hours and we never get that.  CLUTTER was right up there on the list as well.  The feeling of looking around and always feeling like you have something to do robs you of happiness.  She actually purposely tries to keep an empty shelf.  EXERCISE also, that ironic elixir, as she referred to it, that “both energizes and relaxes,” is key. People who have the most successes also have the most failures  And so she emphasized the importance of “Enjoying the fear of failure.”  She also said to “Choose the bigger life.”  So when someone who was seeking advice was trying to decide what direction to take her career in, she simply asked the question, “Which is the bigger life?”  Another happiness tip:  Giving yourself time to just do whatever you want and just be goofy, as an adult, is important.  She sets a “clock out” time everyday and at that time, she tries to put down her work and just do what she wants…and that doesn’t include laundry!  I appreciated Rubin’s ability to communicate effectively and speak on a subject that has been at the core of humanity’s existence since forever and for forever. Finally, the firecracker that closed out the show: Barbara Corcoran of Corcoran Group.  The TV Shark Tank star gave her talk in the format of 10 lessons from her life: 
  • I’m Great At Failure:  the employees that were the most successful never took too long to feel sorry for themselves.  She would literally weed out the ones who spent too much time in their own pity party.
  • Perception Creates Reality:  Make it so you have to run to keep up with the perception you create of yourself!  Being a small company is something to be taken advantage of!  Barbara generously offered the story of the very first “Corcoran Report” that ended up in the NYTimes.  Little did everyone know that she was one woman submitting a report based on 11 homes that were sold that year.  She appeared huge and that all that mattered!
  • Expand Before You’re Ready:  Human beings are more resourceful than they give themselves credit for.  She would often buy offices with double the amount of desks so that she’d be forced to fill them!
  • Shoot the Dogs Early:  She encourages “getting rid of dead weight” and defining a system for that.  ie: she draws a line across the list of her agents, planning to eliminate the bottom earners.  But she doesn’t see it as hurting them, more as helping her top earners.  “I’m saving the good kids from the bad kids,” she sang!  Complainers or low performers, she knows, will only detract from her good employees and by cutting off the “dead weight,” she is free to spoil and shower her “favorite children.”
  • Expanders and Containers:  These are the only two kind of people there are and you need to work with your opposite.  She will make a million dollars and then lose it just as quickly.  Her containing counterpart will take the money that Barbara earns and hide it from her!  It creates a balance.
  • Recognition works better than Money:  Barbara admitted that this conclusion might be due partly to her thrifty nature, but she told the story of how she offered a “#1 Ribbon” to the next salesperson to sell a million dollar property.  No one cared for the cheap ribbon, but then, when a few weeks later, someone was being awarded with it, suddenly people were motivated by it.  In the same way, inexpensive trophies, chairs, and various other tokens of recognition have been revered by her employees in a mind-boggling way for her!  She was almost embarrassed for her employee who had her trophies in a plastic case in the middle of her penthouse apartment!
  • Fun is Good for Business:  Corcoran is known for its parties just as much as for its place in the industry!  Barbara told the story of how even early on, she rented a bus from Harlem for $150 and then took the whole crew with her for a night out on town.  Then she told the bus driver to play as if the bus had broken down and leave them…in the middle of Harlem!  That practical joke is now a Corcoran legend.  And every year, in February, (because prices are low then!), she rents out a space and holds their annual theme party, forcing everyone to dress up in 70’s or nuns or drag or whatever theme she’s come up with.  I can see the fun in that and I get it.  People bond, they talk, they remember…and you get to talk to Bob from sales while he’s sportin’ eyelashes!  haha!
  • Bad times are the best times to move ahead:  Creativity over cash.  She felt sometimes as if she was robbing big companies while they were sleeping because while they were scared to make moves “while times were bad,” she, the little company, with nothing to lose, was snatching up all the deals!
  • You have the right to be here:  Her mother would often make her participate in local competitons and such and though she hated it, the point her mom was driving home was, “You have the right to be here.”  And didn’t that come in handy years later when in a male-dominated industry, she would sometimes question her place.  “I have the right to be here, you [expletive optional] would be Barbara’s anthem when she was suing Donald Trump for a deal he owed her!
Ah, what a woman.  Barbara doled out so much advice with so many heartfelt stories.  She didn’t spare herself from the story of her heartbreak and her weak moments.  She was so kooky, as was apparent in her supplementary Power-Point presentation complete with photos of her face Photoshopped on Julia Robert’s body and various other creations!  She giggled as she revealed her unconventional thoughts and practices and it was all made for a very interesting package. So, in conclusion, do yourself a favor and attend Spark and Hustle next year!  And take notes!

How Many Jars are you Putting Out?

Pastor Alan Platt flew in from South Africa last weekend to ask us “How many jars are you putting out?”  He retold the story of the woman in the Bible instructed by Jesus to fill up empty jars with her oil.  First off, it amazes me when preachers such as Platt retell Bible stories with such vivid detail, inspired with visions of how the event took place, providing incredible insight and new appreciation for the story…amazes me!  As such, I will never think of this story in the same way again.  I will even think of it again…that in itself is an accomplishment! LIVE A LIFE OF EXPECTANCY So, Platt starts out his message with “Live a life of expectancy,”  because God will meet you at the level of your expectancy.  And he goes on to give examples in the Bible: Jairus, the Centurion, the women who touched Jesus’ robe, the city of Capernaum, etc, where people set their level of expectation high and Jesus met them at the level of their faith. USE GOD’S VOCABULARY TO CREATE YOUR EXPECTANCY Furthermore, your expectancy is to be based on what God says; not on our circumstances.  Because when God speaks, it changes the picture of our future.  If you listen to God, He’ll put pictures of great expectations on your mind and you will carry that.  Conversely, if you have the wrong source of information, you will carry the wrong pictures, and ultimately have the wrong expectation.  So, what are you basing your expectations on and what is your expectation for your life, your church, your city? EXPECTANCY CREATES AN ENVIRONMENT FOR THE MIRACULOUS TO HAPPEN Platt illustrates how this applied to him in real life.  He is most well-known for the work he has done in South Africa.  He has literally changed the city through his Godly work.  And this first started in 1994, when God gave Platt the illustration of Mark 6: the feeding of the 5,000 in the Bible.  From this story, Platt was shown how the disciples, given 5 loaves of bread, were instructed to feed 5,000 people.  He imagined how timidly those disciples must have approached the first group of 50 people, holding out his one loaf of bread.  Platt imagined how meticulously they must have torn off the first morsels of bread, attempting to naturally somehow tear of nearly a thousand more pieces.  And then, Platt saw how the disciples must have suddenly become aware of something miraculous happening right inside their hands.  And as they realized that this bread wasn’t going anywhere, they must have stood up straighter and torn off pieces more boldly, probably at one point, encouraging people to “take as much as they wished!”  And truly, the disciples had grown bolder, because 12 baskets were leftover once everyone was fed.  The takeaway from this story?  The disciples had to at least start breaking the bread in order to experience the miracle that God had in store for them. 2 KINGS 4:1-7: THE WIDOW’S OLIVE OIL Platt gives his final illustration…the one that impacted me the most.  And again, I am moved by the amount of detail and insight Platt and other such speakers have into these stories…truly, as if they are relaying a story from their life!  So, in this story, Jesus instructs a widow who has no money, to use the little jar of oil that she has to fill as many jars as she collects and then sell the oil for money. “The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”  Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”  “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”  3 Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”  5 She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”  But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.  7 She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”  And so, the widow’s first task is to collect And so her first task is collecting jars.  Now, here is where Platt’s God-inspired storytelling comes in again.  He envisions this woman going around to her neighbors, asking for jars.  And as she does, they must ask her what she is planning to do with them and when she replies with Jesus’ instructions, Platt deduces that those neighbors must have thought to themselves, “Boy ever since her husband died, this woman doesn’t quite have her head on straight anymore!”  Once all the jars are collected, Platt then goes on to see this woman telling her two sons to help her fill them all and being met with similar sentiments of skepticism from them.  Platt describes the woman pouring out those first few drops of oil timidly, just a tiny stream, probably with one eye closed…and then, just as with the disciples with the loaves, suddenly realizing the the oil was not stopping, that the little jar of oil was miraculously ever-flowing.  She must have excitedly gestured to her son for the next jar and quickly they must have switched the full jar for the empty jar, never interrupting the flow of oil.  And this must have gone on for some time, during which the atmosphere of that household must have been electric.  The skeptical sons were probably screaming, “It’s working, Mom!” And inevitably, there came a point when the widow asked for another jar when her son looked around and said, “There are no more jars, Mom.” The takeaway from this?  This is very important.  The oil only stopped flowing when they ran out of jars.  When there were no more jars is only when the oil stopped flowing.  That means that it all depended on how many jars they had collected at first.  They dictated the capacity to which God could fill them.  They set their expectation for God and He fulfilled his promise and met them there.  Now…what is the capacity for which you are setting God up for?  How many jars are you collecting?  Collect those jars, pray over them [Jesus prayed over the loaves and the widow prayed over the little jar of oil] and expect God to fill those jars.

Power Women Event

I finished last year on a high note when I was granted the incredible opportunity to hobnob with 25 of our culture’s most powerful feminine forces.  It was the NY Moves Magazine‘s Power Women Issue, personified in red-carpet fashion.  This was the 8th year of this glorious spectacle and I was armed with a mic and the job to capture it all! The beholders of this award did not fit any one mold.  These women were old and new, foreign and American, business and non-profit, CEO’s and CCO’s, beauty queens and humble Hannahs.  One thing they all did hold in common was, as told by Moves Magazine ” These are women of substance who have made an incredible impression in their respective fields and an impact on their environment…pushing boundaries without fear or favor, prejudice or pre-conditions and always from the right direction.” I was to come up with clever questions to accomplish the task of extracting the most memorable sound bites from these women.  And so I came up with, “Where do you summon your powers from?” and “What do you think makes a power woman?”  The arrivals were a frenzy of wisdom and accomplishments, all wrapped up in perfume and gowns.  Then, I joined everyone for a fabulous dinner and the awards ceremony.  Here are my most memorable encounters of the evening. Lisa Ling: Host of Our America with Lisa Ling on OWN She said that she “summons her power,” by doing what she loved.  Ling claimed that she never really worried about how much was in her bank account and to this day, does not really know.  She said, and we all know this to some degree, if you do something for the money or the fame, you’ll cease to be satisfied.  I appreciated her confirmation on that. Gloria Allred: Lawyer/Partner at Allred, Maroko & Goldberg.  Also a famous lawyer on high-profile cases such as the Nicole Brown Simpson case and with the court TV show “We the People With Gloria Allred.” I sat next to Gloria at dinner and helped her to get a vegetarian dish and I was amused at her lack of amusement for the food.  We chatted about commonplace things, such as her flight and such, but what else was I going to do?  Ask her about the O.J. Simpson case?  Haha Sade Baderinwa: Anchor, ABC New York’s Eyewitness News Sade was stunning…and fit!  She pulled off a cute pixie cut effortlessly and was every part graceful and well-spoken in speech as well.  It was no wonder, after a minute with her, why she is an anchorwoman. Amy Chua:  Professor of Law at Yale Law School, Author You can call me biased, but I definitely swelled with a little more pride upon seeing my Asian women representing on that carpet.  Amy reminded me of wanting to read her book, “Battle Hymns of the Tiger Mom,”  and I was genuinely star-struck upon hearing that it was her book!   She packs a big impression for the cute little thing that she is! Betsey Johnson: Chief Creative Officer, Betsey Johnson Betsey was just loopy!  She was really something else.  I didn’t know where to hold the mic as she danced around in response to my questions!  She wore a patchwork dress, Chucks, dreadlocked blonde extentions, and her signature bright red lipstick and big lashes.  She is a tiny little thing though and had a childlike demeanor that belied her 60+ years. Iman: Supermodel, Founder & CEO of Iman Cosmetics I didn’t expect the thick accent that emerged from this statuesque supermodel.  What I remember most about Iman is that she used her acceptance speech to plug her organization and attempted to, in her allotted handful of minutes, rile up a passion in us for these women in the Congo.  Kudos to Iman for being shameless! Grace Hightower De Niro: Philanthropist Grace and Robert were an odd coupling to me, but I appreciated that he was supportive of her, accompanying her to this humble event.   Now that is a true power couple! S.E. Cupp: Conservative Commentator, Author I love a woman with a sense of humor…who doesnt?  And S.E. Cupp wrote her acceptance speech to highlight just that!  She read it straight from the page, but with a deadpan delivery, stated, “The last thing I won was a buffalo wing eating contest…and it was against myself.”  Perfection.  And, she was very pretty and brought mom as her date, to boot! Gabrielle Hamilton: James Beard 2011 “Best Chef NYC” Gabrielle was extremely personable and affable.  She played down winning the “Best Chef in NYC” title, and although is the first woman recipient, is more proud of holding her own against the boys.  My kinda woman.  😉 Sukanya Krishnan: Morning Anchor, PIX11 News Sukanya was the emcee for this event and this woman raised the bar for me in terms of what an emcee should be.  She killed it.  She was hilarious (she had us truly laughing out loud), spontaneous, accurate and she managed to both honor and poke fun at each honoree…what a feat!  One would have never known she had only met some of these women that night!  Now that’s skill! Nancy L. Zimpher: SUNY Chancellor What impressed me about Nancy was that she is the first woman to serve as Chancellor of SUNY, which I learned is actually the largest university in the nation.  The first female Chancellor…of the largest university…in America…now that is impressive! Jennifer Siebel Newsom: founder & CEO, MissRepresentation, org I just love the name of this website.  Sometimes you have to give it up to someone for simply being clever with their words!  But on top of that, Jennifer’s cause is also incredible: to fight the media’s misrepresentations of women have led to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence.  Right on, Miss! Babe Rizzuto: Vice President of Public Relations, Conair Corporation Babe…(I mean, it’s in the name)…was the girly girl of the night.  She was blonde and bubbly and her catchphrase sums it up: “Beauty is comes from within, but gorgeous hair can’t hurt!”  And what I loved about her story is that at age 18, she created the High Energy line of neon-colored hair tools.  She was born into a family well-off in the salon business, but was an entrepreneur in her own right! Below are the remainder of the Power Women, some whom did not make it to the event or whom I did not have the opportunity to interview.  A common sentiment that was expressed throughout the evening was the love that these women had for their careers and the appreciation they had for their family. Nell Newman: Co-Founder & President, Newman’s Own Organics Tonia O’Connor: President, Distribution Sales & Marketing, Univision Mia Herndon: Executive Director, Third Wave Foundation Dorothy Herman: President & CEO, Prudential Douglas Elliman Kate D. Levin: Commissioner, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Dana Fiser: Global CEO of Jenny Craig Inc Maria Bartiromo: Anchor CNBC’s Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo Robin Wright: Actor, Raise Hope for Congo Gillian Tett: US Managing Editor, Financial Times Rosie Perez: Actor, Activist, Director, Producer Lori Ordover: Managing Member, Ordover Group Laureen Ong: President, Travel Channel Norah O’Donnoll: CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Connie Nielsen: Actor, Co-Founder & President, Human Needs Project Heidi Manheimer: CEO, Shiseido Cosmetics America It was an amazing evening.  Inspiring.  Exquisitely executed.  It was a Cinderella evening for me.  I will end with this quote that I love from Iman: “I totally believe that success is not what you do but what you inspire others to do.  Mentor a young girl or find yourself a good mentor – make a difference in the lives of others.”  Beautiful. 

My “Christian Women in Media” Event Keynote Speech!

Last Thursday, I spoke at a the New York Christian Women In Media Dinner.  Aaron Horton and Johanna sang an incredible song that brought me to tears and then before I knew it, I was asked to come up for my speech.  Still dabbing my eyes, I went into my speech and wasn’t sure how well my message got across, but received loads of compliments afterward and I just wanted to touch more people with a recording and transcript of it since it seems to have helped so many people.  Enjoy! Hi, I’m Jeanette Eng and I’m honored to be here tonight, to share with my fellow Christian Women in Media. Now, I had this whole speech written out, recorded in Garage Band, converted into mp3 format, and playing in my ipod while I ran, hoping that I could subconsciously program it into my brain. Hey I’m Chinese and a stickler, what can I say?! But that all went out the window last night when I was at a power women event hosted by Sukyana from Channel 11. She hosted with such flair and humor and ease…all without notes! So, I said, out with these notes, I’m gonna do the same! And then I came to my senses! So, let’s get started. I know that for me, it helps me “get” people when I get their story, so to say, so I’ll give you the standard introduction. I’m a commercial actress and model and spin instructor, working in NY and living in NJ. I’m 32 years old. I started as a Journalism major at Rutgers University and my first job out of college was writing for a local paper. That was the end of my print career. I decided TV would be much more exciting and then just followed the bright lights. To make a windy story short, church reporter led miraculously to red carpet hosting, which led to commercial acting and modeling, which I have been living off of for 4 years…which in this industry, is like tenure! Ok, that’s it for my Facebook profile. Now, let’s get into the meatloaf of the night, shall we?! I have been a Christian for most of my life but it is only recently that I have begun to truly mature in my faith and as God would have it, also hitting my stride professionally and personally. As I mentioned, I was at an event last night that celebrated Power Women. Women in media were present, but these women represented excellence in all fields, from entertainment to film making to business, from Iman to Sade Baderwinwa to Lisa Ling. I was the reporter assigned the task of asking these women “how do you summon your power,” a clever wordplay on the theme of power women. And I received all sorts of answers, from my family to my children to doing a job that I love, but I never heard doing it for God. And that’s my vision…that one day, I”ll be interviewing one of you and that you will be the one to give me that soundbyte. But I did get some great tips from these women and I don’t think it’s a coincidence, but a God-incident, that I’m experiencing two female power themed events back to back. So in that spirit, I’d like to share 3 stories about what I believe helps us tap into our power source, our Lord, Jesus Christ, to reach our God-appointed power potential. This first story is about Following the Burden in Your Heart. God has to speak to us somehow, am I right? And one of the ways, I truly believe, is through what many people will call gut feelings, nudges. I believe that if you have a God inspired moment like this and you receive affirmation of it and it simultaneously terrifies you and gives you peace, you need to pay attention to it. L Case in point, I took a commercial acting class and was exposed to a population of improv’ers and comedians that I really took to. At one point in the night, I realized, sadly, that I was probably never going to see many of these people again. And the Christian in me was heartbroken, wanting to connect with these people beyond this one evening of performance and drinks and laughs. But it just wasn’t realistic for me to invite them all to church, or for me to go to all their shows, or for all of us to somehow become coffee grabbing buddies. And so, my heart was burdened. At the same time, I realized that I was being charged up the “you know what” for this commercial acting class that, in my opinion, did not command such a price tag. I realized that I could mimic this formula of theirs and probably help a lot of people out by doing it for free. And the wheels started spinning. Well, within a few months, we held our first Actors In Christ meeting, affectionately referring to it as Actors InC w/ a capitol C, for Christ ;). And fast forward one year, we just celebrated our one year anniversary of meeting every Monday. We have a consistent turnout of 20-30 actors. We consider ourselves equal parts acting workshop and missional outreach. We have brought actors to church and to God and helped them nail auditions and land roles. And one of the actors from that original acting class, whom I felt burdened for, is now one of our leaders. As Christians, we often have this dilemma. We exist day in and day out, in our unique industries and various circles of friends and acquaintances. How much of God do you share with these people and do you feel a burden in your heart to do so? If that’s the case, my plea to you is to follow that burden to a solution that enables you to bridge that gap. Someone in our church works in a financial firm where he began sending daily inspirational verses to his co-workers…now, there are several hundred Wall Street men and women on this mailing list. And I can just imagine how much life has changed for him, now known as a Christian amongst his peers. So, once again, follow the burden in your heart…it’s from God for a reason and to you and it’s for a reason. This second story is about: Biting off more than you can swallow and trusting that God will help you chew. Some of the best things that have happened in my life have been the things that were the most daunting, the most unplanned, the times that God had to help me chew. Francis Chan wrote in his book, “Forgotten God,” “I want to live in such a way that I am desperate for Him to come through. That if He doesn’t come through, I am screwed.” And as a pastor, he acknowledges that he probably shouldn’t use that word, but he doesn’t feel that any other word expresses his feelings as well! And he goes on to challenge us to live a life that screams, “This could have only been made possible by the hand of God!” Like Gideon’s army, we want people to look at our lives and know that this was some sort of miracle, this was not simply of our own skill and network, but something infinitely and mysteriously greater. And, in order to do that, we have to step out on faith, step out on those burdens, and trust that God will meet us when we need Him. He wants us to set the bar so high, think so big, that it would be impossible on our own. How exciting is that call to action? To think big, and then think even bigger on top of that? We don’t do that enough! I was guilty of it when I embarked on my first missions trip last summer. It took me over a decade to do my first missions trip because I was “ye of little faith.” I looked to my bank account, my lack of experience, my time constraints…and they all told me, you’re in no position to go on a missions trip! Yet, when I went for it, God raised the $3,500 that I didn’t have, gave me the missional mindset, and made it all not only possible, but a life-changing trip for me. It was this missions trip that planted the seed for Actors InC. But I committed the same crime just months later, when just a week shy of the launch of Actors InC, I tried to delay it. I wanted to prepare more, become more qualified to lead an actor workshop, get rid of this voice in my head that kept taunting me, “who do you think you are, leading an acting workshop, you’re still taking them!” But God spoke through one of my brothers, who would not allow me to delay the launch…he said, “God will make it happen.” And so I took a big ole bite! This is nothing new. We’ve all heard “It’s easier for God to re-steer an object in motion than to move a parked object.” “God, I’ll take care of the quantity and you take care of the quality.” Start your vision and the provision will come. So ladies, this is one area in which I denounce portion control! Go and start biting away at the God’s plan for you! This third story is about: Being excellent in what you do and being honest about your faith. All things stem from this and go back to this. Tim Tebow is an example. Oprah can be cited as an example. Jeannie Mai is an example. Megan Alexander is an example. And we should all hope to be household names one day…names of people excellent in their craft who give all the glory to God. It’s started to happen to me lately, where people are seeking advice from me and time with me, and are simply marveling at “how I do it.” And these are my golden opportunities. I couldn’t ask for a better platform on which to reveal that I thank God for it, that I prayed over it, and won’t you come to church with me? If you live this way, “being excellent in what you do, and being honest, and I mean, raw honesty, about your faith,” I can assure you that you will be challenged…there’s no way to live this way and not be. And cue, my 3rd story. I was recently on a shoot for Shape Magazine. On this shoot, I had to do 100 exercises over the course of 3 days! And I executed those exercises with excellence, holding poses for much longer than is recommended! And never once did I complain or display diva-behavior. In short, I displayed excellence in performance, attitude, etc. And when the shoot wrapped on day 3, I was so joyful that I again felt this burden to say a prayer with these people who had been my family for the past 72 hours. And so I asked. I asked these people, whose faith was unknown to me, to “just humor me and join me in a quick prayer of gratitude, before we leave?” And so, there we stood in the studio, heads bowed and hands joined, as I thanked God for a successful shoot and prayed over each person’s individual life. It was scary for me, but to have done anything less than that would have been a lie. Honesty is still the best policy and so, if you are honest about your faith, you will talk about church when asked what you did this weekend, you will say grace even at a business lunch, and you will be the same woman in church as in the world. And excellence for God is one of the best motivators! There are times when I’m swimming and literally thinking to myself, this is for God because this exercise is going to make me more excellent. Whether I’m running a race, getting dressed, exercising, auditioning, or any of the multitude of tasks that we have to complete in this life, doing it for myself doesn’t always cut it, and when I switch to doing it for God, suddenly, the drive is back. Doing it for God is certainly a reason to get up in the morning! And honestly, the success, accolades, and money will come. Last night, I was in a room full of CEO’s, Bestselling authors, the president of Jenny Craig, all clad in glittering gowns and smelling just lovely. And people wanted to know how these women do it. And there is truth in the clichés because these women testified t it. The soundbytes I collected included, “Do what it is you’re passionate about and the money will follow.” Lisa Ling really drove this point home when she pointed out that she doesn’t even know how much money she has, she just does what she loves. And I believe her and it’s comforting to see living proof that that works. Other sentiments were, “Stay true to yourself,” “mentor and inspire others…go outside of yourself to affect the world.” These women were in a position of influence and were given a platform on which to share whatever it is they wanted. When Iman got up, she went into a whole schpiel about her charity, attempting to connect with us in 5 minutes about the women she is trying to save in the Congo. It was a bit much, like a mini-lecture, but I applaud her efforts. And my prayer is that one day, one of us is up there, just as passionately ignorant of our time restriction, using those 5 minutes to glorify God. So at the end of the night, I was kicking myself for not inviting Lisa Ling, Sukyana, and Robert Dinero’s wife here…sorry Suellen! And that made me realize how unique we are. Because in a room full of media women, I didn’t experience one who was clearly a believer. We are a demographic that represents a slice of an already small slice! So, it’s vital that we all play a role in supporting CWIM, not only returning, but returning with someone new every time. As we grow in excellence and gain more clout in our respective fields, it becomes even more important to bring that back to CWIM and God will continue to bless us…abundantly, accordingly, and powerfully. Thank you!