July Book of the Month

This month’s Books To Live By choice highlights our July theme — Following Your Dreams!

Women on Fire’s July 2013 choice is:

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms The Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brené Brown

Many of you are already familiar with Brené Brown from her insightful TED talks on vulnerability and shame, or her recent appearance on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday.

But for those of you who are hearing about her for the first time, Brené is a powerful writer and speaker with sharp insight and wit. She is the author of  six books.

Daring Greatly is her latest and my new personal favorite of hers.  In it, she helps us to understand and recognize the power of vulnerability, and how true whole-hearted living is derived from worthiness.

Brené walks you through her own journey of opening up and maps out easy to follow strategies for how to let your guard down. She helps you come to realize that only through breaking down our barriers are we able to soar above our expectations and allow ourselves to be worthy of the success we desire.

So it’s easy to see why she’s a Woman on Fire, right!? I was so enthralled after reading this that I couldn’t wait to share with you.

I urge you to consider ordering  Daring Greatly and any of her other titles– or two of each to share with another woman in your life.  Acting on her powerful messages is a sure way to move toward the dreams in your life!

I’ll let Brené have the final word:

What we know matters, but who we are matters more. Being rather than knowing requires showing up and letting ourselves be seen. It requires us to dare greatly, to be vulnerable.”

Enjoy and as always, let me know if you’ve read and what you think!

Lean in…With Support!

The cat just looked at me as though I’m from Mars.

Wilber eats dinner every single day at 5PM. On the dot. When I served him his evening meal on this first day of daylight savings time, he was utterly confused.

To him, it was still 4PM. He walked away without even a lick of his Fancy Feast!

How’re you adjusting to the time change? Hope you’re easing into it better than Wilber;-)

I just returned from New York City where I met with a number of Women on Fire, which is always so uplifting. I love hearing about your hopes and dreams, challenges and struggles, and sharing what is easier to do together than alone.


Lucky me in the middle of this Women on Fire sandwich with style consultant Holly Getty and finanical expert Manisha Thakor, who was featured in last month’s Women on Fire membership CD package. (Photo by Meredith Schoenberger)

While in New York, I also attended a conversation with Gloria Steinem and women who created Makers, the inspired stories of women trailblazers.

(I invite you to check it outWarning: once you go down the slippery slope of watching and reading about these fascinating women, you can’t stop! My favorite so far is Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run in the Boston Marathon. You can’t believe what happened.)

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Gloria Steinem, who is 78,  in the center of conversation about the 50-year history of the Women’s Movement with producers and subjects in the “Makers” series.

Nearly everywhere I went last week, including in the conversation with Gloria, people were talking about two women in the national news: Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg.

Marissa Mayer, the chief executive officer at Yahoo, made headlines when she  announced her company would end the worker-friendly practice of telecommuting.

Her reasoning is that it is bad for a collaborative company to have so many employees losing out on interacting and participating in experiences “that are only possible in our offices.”

I see her point. Still, if a male CEO (other than Microsoft’s Bill Gates or Apple’s Tim Cook) banned telecommuting, I doubt it would have been news.

Then there is Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook. She has a big week ahead: she is on 60 Minutes, on the cover of Time Magazine (with the sexist perpetuating headline ‘Don’t Hate Her Because She’s Successful’) and on Tuesday her new book is released.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead explores what is keeping women from rising to the highest echelons of power.

“We hold ourselves back, in ways big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in,” she proclaims.

This 43-year-old working mother of two small children believes that women underestimate their abilities and “lean back and sit on the sidelines.” She herself admits to times of fear and holding back, and urges women to “lean in.”

Critics accuse her of making women feel as though failing to get ahead and achieve at the same rate as men is their fault. Others attack her because she is a billionnaire and don’t believe her advice resonates with the average woman.

I am eagerly awaiting my copy of the book.  But after reading pre-publication excerpts and interviews, I whole-heartedly support her.

“The time is long overdue to encourage more women to dream the possible dream and encourage more men to support women in the workforce and in the home,” she says.

Well, that is for sure.

Check out this brief video of what she hopes the book will inspire and tell me what you think? You also might watch her famous 2010 TEDx talk  about why women are not making it to the top anywhere in the world.

In her ideal scenario, “I believe this world would be a better place if half of our companies and half our countries are run by women and half our homes are run by men.”

When I think of leaning in, I also think how easy it is to tip over.

So, I also applaud Sheryl Sandberg for creating a foundation for Lean In Circles to support “a program for professional women that encourages them to review social-science research, share stories, receive instruction on career development, and “lean in” to (as opposed to opt out of) their careers.”

I can certainly buy that, too.

At Women on Fire, we’ve been doing just that for 10 years.  We’ve leaned in, listened, supported, shared information, resources and opportunities, and cheered each other on. We know how it works for you to have your dreams. Now it’s time to spread it to the world!


For a decade Women on Fire have shared and cheered each other on in circles of support. Pictured at a New York City gathering last Friday: Janina Sebesky, Holly Getty, Elle Celeste, me! Miriam Posner, Shannon McCaffery and Meredith Schoenberger.

Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg are blazing trails by igniting conversations that need to take place about women in the workplace.

Billionnaire or no, it takes a lot of guts to stand up and be criticized for leaning in to speak their truth.

Maybe one of them might even become powerful enough to ban Daylight Savings Time. ;-)

 

Best-ever Women on Fire Retreat!!

My heart is full.

What an amazing, inspiring weekend with women from 22 states and Canada at our annual Women on Fire Retreat held this year in Chicago!


The fabulous women who attended the Retreat! (Photos by Heather Stone)

Next week I’ll say more about what it was like to be in the energy of all these dynamic, creative, supportive women who are making a difference in the world.

But right now, those of us on the East Coast are preparing for the effects of Hurricane Sandy, and I am sending love and hope for everyone’s safety.

Meanwhile, please join us in a few Women on Fire moments from the weekend! More pictures next week.


Chicago host and Woman on Fire Debi Lilly cheering!


The wise and talented Sophfronia Scott, publisher of the next Women on Fire book, shared our plans for inviting co-authors to participate. Very exciting!


Kim Davis, Dana Frost, Nancy Neal and Cindy Clendenin listen intently to Margo Frazier sharing what she is “on fire” about in her life!


Blue Women Group? Not exactly! Dreaming Big was this year’s Retreat theme.  Everyone received a blue-gel mask to promote relaxation, better sleep, good dreams!


My sweet mother Mary Lue Phillips attended her first-ever Women on Fire Retreat. Here she is, happy in the moment with Laura Benton, Meredith Schoenberger and Arlene Alexander.


Enjoying the Retreat with my best friend Jan Allen, a coach and life strategist, who moderated a panel on Career Leaps and Changes and also discussed on her experience giving a TEDx talk. (Photo by Jamie Eslinger)


Yoga teacher and trainer Laurel Hodory led us to discover techniques for becoming centered and grounded.

To everyone who participated in this powerful, engaging, life-changing Retreat, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Safe travels home.  And stay tuned for next year’s Retreat date and city!

If you haven’t attended a Women on Fire event, I hope you will soon. No better way to fill your cup:-)

Success secrets from a “shark”

Would you like to learn some success secrets today from a woman who borrowed $1,000 to start a company and later sold it for $66 million?  I thought you might!

Last week I spent a day in New York and a private lunch with the dynamic business whiz Barbara Corcoran, star of ABC-TV’s hit reality show Shark Tank, and I’m eager to pass along her wit and wisdom to you.

Even if you’re not an entrepreneur, what she has to say about life and work will inspire you!

But first …

Happy birthday today to at least two amazing Women on Fire: Dr. Elvira Lang of Boston and MJ Bindu Delekta of Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts!

And, here on Martha’s Vineyard, we’re awash in autumn colors and you may be, too.  I asked my talented husband Rob Berkley to share a scene for you and here is his offering!

Welcome also to new Spark! readers, including therapist Tricia Bennett, who with Heidi Bertram, started the company Be More You to help women find their life partners and for married women to be re-inspired in their relationships.


With Tricia Bennett, creator of Happily Ever After Is Real seminars and teleclasses to help women find the love of their life. (Photo by Rob Berkley)

You’ll be hearing more from Tricia and Heidi in the future. Those of you who are tired of being single and want to be married and in a committed relationship can check out their upcoming seminar October 20-21 in Boston.

OK, so now to the delightful, irrepressible “shark” Barbara Corcoran, author and real estate mogul, and her secrets for being successful!

Obstacles You Must Overcome For Success:

1) Falling prey to the word “no.” You must learn the power of getting past “no.”

2) Forgetting what business you are in. Pick a lane and stay focused in it. Don’t jump all over the place with lots of confusing offers and abilities.

3) Failing to finish what you set out to do.

What Works For Success:

1) Clarity and simplicity when you speak.  “Fancy talk doesn’t work,” says Barbara.

2) The best business ideas come from experience.  Your product has to make a difference. (Example: the flight attendant who invented a device attached to luggage that will carry a child, eliminating the need to travel with a stroller.)

3) Fire people who are habitual complainers. They poison the environment. “Complainers in your business are the equivalent of a thief in your business, stealing your emotional and financial resources,” says Barbara.

4) Become great at failing.  People remember your successes. So quickly move on from your failures and get to your next success. You almost always can make lemonade out of your failures. The trick is to very quickly pick yourself up after a stumble.

5) Two kinds of people in business — expanders and containers. Make sure there is a balance of both in your work and life.

6) Have fun. Fun is good for business. If you are having fun, you are likely succeeding!

And, finally, these words are not from Barbara but the inspiration is:

7) Go for what you want!

And, no better example than Barbara, 63 (who is a mother of an 18-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter).  Her real estate business was evaluated at the time for only half of the $66 million she received.  But her favorite, lucky number was “66” so she went for it — and got it!

Women on Fire was created to support you in whatever you are dreaming of having and doing in your life. I hope one or more of Barbara’s success tips speaks to you and helps you take your dreams a step further.

Let me know!

Have fun this week and I’m counting the days until I see you at the Women on Fire Retreat in Chicago Oct. 26-27 :-)

Celebrating Your Dreams

Hello from New York City!

I’m here celebrating another fabulous Women on Fire tea.  Participants came from as far away as Colorado, Connecticut and New Jersey to meet each other and share their joys, dreams, struggles and triumphs.

Women On Fire Tea NYC September 14, 2012
Women on Fire tea at Lady Mendl’s in New York City! Front row: Melissa Lerner, Michelle Whittaker, Lisa Parker, Lisa Clair, Trudy DuJardin. Back row: Shannon McCaffery, Holly Getty, Christine Medvedev, Wendy DeSimone, me!, Kelly Hurley, Linda Yellin, Dawn Halkuff, Sophfronia Scott, RoseMarie Terenzio and Terri Cole. (Photo by Rob Berkley)

If you’ve not yet been to a Women on Fire tea, please don’t think you have to “have it all together” or even be “on fire” to attend.

In fact, coming to a tea is often just the “spark” you need to regain your spirit and feel supported while you meet other women, all in various stages of life and love and work.

At the teas, there is magic in other women’s stories and a collective wisdom in sharing resources and supporting each other no matter what you are going through.

When I started Women on Fire in 2003 I had an inkling the “rising tide” of women coming together, inspiring and supporting each other would “lift all boats.”

I just had no idea of how powerful it would be to help us move toward our dreams and our best selves.

And, that brings me to my favorite moment of the month — celebrating in today’s SPARK! the recent dreams, goals, successes and accomplishments of women in our community.

These are the women you meet when you attend a Women on Fire event — whether at a tea, in a coaching group, on the monthly Live Chat for members or at our annual retreat.

Please keep us posted on your latest news.  And, congratulations to these Women on Fire for your exciting steps toward your deepest desires!


Jan Allen speaking at the 2011 Women on Fire Retreat (Photo by Nancy Lambert)

Jan Allen of Columbus, Ohio will be featured at TEDx Columbus 2012 on October 5 sharing her signature talk — Retiring Retirement: A Personal Upgrade to the Bonus Decades.

Among many talents, Jan is an expert in helping others navigate through life’s many transitions. As she approached her 60th birthday and realized she had lived longer than she has time left, she plunged into despair.

And, then she set out to identify a new life stage that takes advantage of the depth and breadth of life’s experiences and transforms the “retirement” years into anything but!  Her TEDx talk also will be available on video.

Jan is a member of Women on Fire’s leadership team and leads the Women on Fire coaching group in Columbus. You can find out more about her here.

Nellie Partow of New York City is gaining recognition for her exquisite fashion line and was recently featured in the New York Times Magazine and named by Harper’s Bazaar as the new name in minimalism.  Check out her website.

Saks Fifth Avenue will soon showcase her designs in exclusive trunk shows nationwide.  Go to Nellie’s Facebook page and “like” it and you will to be kept up-to-date on the cities and dates where Nellie will appear.

(I’m wearing one of Nellie’s fabulous dresses in the tea party photo above!)

Pat Snyder of Columbus, has received her Master of Applied Positive Psychology degree from University of Pennsylvania.  A lawyer, Pat was in the first women’s coaching group Jan Allen and I led in 1996 called Live The Life You Want.

Now an author and coach herself, Pat is using her talent and expertise to help other lawyers launch their dreams.  Her business is called I Can Fly, LLC and her site is www.LawyerCoachPatSnyder.com

Kim Dettmer of Berea, Ohio was very busy over the summer. She finished a rough draft to write and illustrate her children’s book called Moments to Savor. A mom of two, she also has accepted a new role as the Executive Director of a local non-profit.

Donna Kim Brand of West Palm Beach, Florida has completed her book The Force of Creative Collaboration. Check out her website at www.donnakimbrand.com.

Margo Frazier of Spring, Texas, is moving on up. She was promoted to Supervisor of Operations at Sheldon Independent school district in Houston.

 


Congratulations to our resident book coach! Here I am with Sophfronia at last week’s New York tea.

Sophfronia Scott of Sandy Hook, Connecticut will be featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul Inspiration for Writers published in May 2013. She recently spent time with Amy Newmark, owner and publisher of the Chicken Soup empire.  The founder of Done For You Writing, Sophfronia has been a writer in the Chicken Soup series in the past.

Wendy Taucher of New York City and Martha’s Vineyard is the founder of Wendy Taucher Dance Opera Theater. Among her projects, she is currently  co-producing the All For One festival at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York City.  The next performance is at 2PM Saturday, September 22.  Check out www.cherrylanetheatre.org for details.

A must-see for a Woman on Fire!

Roxanne Dupler Crocco of Columbus, Ohio realized her dream to sing before an audience when she performed at the Park Street Tavern’s Jazz Jam. Congratulations and what a way to rock it, Roxanne!

Keep your dreams going, everyone.  And, please keep us posted on what you are up to!

The secret ingredient

I am on my way to California to attend a women’s conference that I will tell you all about next week.

Before I go, I want to show you a picture that delights me — of radiant smiles after a Women on Fire tea party.  Thank you, Renata Ramsini, for capturing the women at last week’s tea in Columbus led by Jan Allen. Today, I’ll tell you the secret ingredient that makes these gatherings so very wonderful and powerful.


Women on Fire Tea last week in Columbus — Front row: Erin Brewer, Kris Myers, Jan Allen, Mary Kay Purdy, Nanci Larsen, Phoebe Lapine. Second row: Jane Juergens, Lisa Everson, Sara Diehl, Laura Benton, Julie Quackenbush, Jessika Ferm, Mary Duafala, Pam Allen, Roxanne Crocco, Michele Hoyle, Julia McLemore.

Women tell me all the time they are surprised by what happens at a tea and how connected they often feel.

Maybe they’ve said something out loud they’ve never voiced before.  Or, maybe they sat next to someone they’d never met, but shared so much in common that they were sure I sat them next to each other on purpose!

What I know for sure is when women get the chance to connect in a safe and inspiring environment, magic happens.

How often does that happen in your life?  How often do you connect with people who make you feel good to be alive?

When we can vulnerably and authentically share what is on our minds and in our hearts, we feel connected. And, when we feel connected, we feel worthy of our dreams.

Radio talk show host Janette Barber, who has attended at least a million Women on Fire teas in New York City, frequently says, “the tea party always works.”

What she means is that no matter the city and no matter the women who attend, being able to be ourselves, to share what is authentic and vulnerable, and to feel connected “always works!”

Research shows that when we experience feelings of connection and belonging, it gives purpose and meaning to our lives.  So, that’s why I think there are big smiles and much happiness after a Women on Fire gathering!

Some of you may know the work of researcher and story-teller Brene Brown.  (She is both brilliant and adorable, I might add!)

If not, I hope you will take some time to check out her inspiring talk at TEDx.

She and her research suggest that “to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen … to love with our whole hearts even though there is no guarantee … to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror … to feel this vulnerable means I am alive.

“When we work from this place, we stop screaming and start listening and we are kinder and gentler to the people around us and we are kinder and gentler to ourselves.”

This is why I love our teas and every single occasion where Women on Fire connect and we so often share what is vulnerable.

Dr. Brown inspires us further that “vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, of love, of belonging, of creativity, of faith and so it becomes very problematic when, as a culture, we lose our capacity to be vulnerable.”

Even though it may feel scary to tell another person our heart’s deepest longings, our fears, our insecurities, doing so is the very thing that will connect us and allow others to support us.

It is why I always encourage you to reach out and gather support before you embark on your journey.

And, vulnerability is the secret ingredient of why you feel so very good inside when you have shared your heart safely with someone who receives you.

Talk to you next week from sunny San Diego!

Have a wonderful week and let me know how you’re doing ~

What would happen if you married your passions?

I’ve just returned from a fabulous time in New York City and Columbus, Ohio.

I’ve been on the road for the past two weeks to attend Women on Fire tea parties. And, while in Columbus, I talked about 5 Powerful Ways to Kick Off  2011 on NPR’s All Sides With Ann Fisher (you can listen to the interview here.)   I also co-led with my best friend Jan Allen a transition session for members of outgoing Ohio Governor Ted Strictland’s senior staff.

All that meeting and talking about how to express your life’s potential reminded me of how powerful and inspiring it is when we combine — or marry — our passions, interests and skills.

Today I’m going to introduce you to a woman I’ve personally wanted to meet for a long time who has done just that.  She combined her various interests in a surprising way and founded one of the country’s leading ice cream companies!

But first…


My new “do” courtesy of celebrity hair stylist Jacob Neal

I’ve been so busy traveling that I hadn’t scheduled time for a haircut. So, I was running around like a shaggy dog when I remembered my former stylist in New York City Jacob Neal now operates a gorgeous salon in Columbus.

It was fabulous to reconnect with him and in no time at all he whipped up my great new short haircut.  I felt ready to take on the world!

Then, the coolest thing happened.  I went to see Women on Fire book co-author Patricia Wynn Brown perform at TedxWomen in Columbus.  (Tedx, by the way, was brought to Columbus by two terrific, inspiring women you should know, if you don’t — Ruth Milligan and Nancy Kramer.)

While attending, I met up with a woman I’ve been dying to meet who has inspired me for years: Jeni Britton Bauer, founder of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams!


How fun to finally meet rock star ice cream entrepreneur Jeni Britton Bauer at TedxWomen in Columbus!

As much as I would go to the end of the earth to eat her ice creams — with unusual combinations of flavors you might not associate with ice cream such as Salty Caramel, Wildberry Lavender, Thai Chili, Cocoa Zin, Riesling Pear, Goat Cheese with Roasted Cherries — it is her story that intrigues me.

She grew up enthralled with the tastes and smells of the herbs and flowers in her grandmother’s extensive gardens.  At college she majored in art and worked in a French patisserie.  And, at age 22 she married her passions for flavors, textures, smells and the creativity of art and food and applied it to ice cream!

“At our company, all roads lead to ice cream,” she told women in Columbus.  “The memory associated with flavor is very strong. Flavor takes you to a feeling and a memory.”  Her ice cream, created from local ingredients, and more flavorful than sweet became Jeni’s vehicle to deliver pleasure!


Woman on Fire Jan Orosz first told me about Jeni’s Elderberry and Ohio Sweet Cream ice cream. Jeni brought it and two other ice creams as a treat for TedxColumbus attendees. YUM!

Jeni went on to describe her life as an entrepreneur, saying that she views herself first as a mother with two small children and then as a customer advocate.  Her office includes not only a desk and chair but a kitchen with a stove and refrigerator where she and a colleague test until perfection each and every flavor of ice cream.

Success is starting to come fast for Jeni with a new book about to hit the market and new cities and markets clamoring for her special ice creams.

Still “every single day we wake up fighting for our lives,”  she said, adding that the joy, however, supercedes the terrifying roller coaster that is often the life of a business owner.

When you think about your own life, what passions have you combined to create something new, exciting or rewarding?

And, if you’re working to figure out your next steps in your life, like Jeni, which of your talents, passions and interests could you combine to create your next great thing?

I’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to share in the comments section below.

Until next week, take extra good care of yourself.

And, if you’re anywhere near Jeni’s Ice Cream, please treat yourself to a scoop of Banana Caramel Cashew or Raspberry Mascarpone or Cayenne Chocolate — and know you’re also celebrating the success of a woman’s courage to pursue her passions!

Much love,

Debbie