Archive for July, 2011

Sterling Advice for Mompreneurs

Posted by at 24 July, 2011, 3:00 pm

This past weekend, as part of my research for an upcoming magazine article on direct sales, I was invited to attend Silpada’s National Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. For those of you unfamiliar with Silpada, it is a direct sales company that specializes in sterling silver jewelry sold at home parties. Every year they have a conference for their sales reps, with workshops, awards, inspirational speeches, and more. Along with fellow journalist and friend, Andrea Atkins, I got to experience it all.

On Friday morning at the opening general session, Silpada sales rep Jill Mapstead spoke about her experiences as a businesswoman and parent of a special needs child. I was so inspired and moved by her words, that I thought I’d repeat her “pearls” of wisdom here, since they apply to all mompreneurs.

•Treat your business like a business. Block out the hours that you will work, and set goals for yourself. “If you don’t, you’re cheating the boss,” said Jill, who referred to herself as a “complete carrot-chaser.” Goals are your “mile posts.” Setting short-term and long-term goals keeps you on course.

•Work on your business a little bit each day. Even if distractions or unexpected events (like a sick kid or a snow day) blow your to-do list to bits, do one business-related thing. E-mail a potential client. Research a store you’d like to be in. Check out your competition online.

•The business is all in your head. Keeping future-focused helps you survive the inevitable bumps, obstacles and setbacks along the way.

•Play up in this game. Surround yourself with people who have skills you admire; and learn from them.

•Be a balcony person, not a basement person. Cheer on the people you work with, rather than dragging them down. As Pat and I have always said, “Confidence is contagious. When you have it, others will want to be around you, so they can have it too.”

•If you don’t like something, change it. And if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.

•Be consistent. No matter what business you’re in, be consistent in your efforts. For Jill, that meant having 4 to 7 jewelry parties a month. For me, it means continuing to pitch stories to editors, even while I’m working on finishing up big articles. Consistency is what keeps the work (and the dollars) coming in!

Thank you Jill Mapstead for those inspirational words!

Category : Running Your Business | Working From Home

Free Teleseries: How I Transformed My Fledgling Coaching & Consulting Biz

Posted by at 21 July, 2011, 12:43 pm

free signI’m excited to invite you to join me for my upcoming free teleseminar series, where I’m going to personally share with you exactly what I did to go from scared and struggling to standing out as an expert in my field, attracting a steady stream of ideal, raving fan clients, and making a lot more money while working LESS in my business (and how YOU can too!) This series begins July 26 at 8pm EDT, so head here to get all the details and to grab your spot:​workshoppreview/

On this special call series, I’m going to reveal to you the EXACT steps I took to transform my fledgling coaching and consulting business into a 6-figure business in less than 3 years–while having more fun than I could have ever dreamed… :-)

You can check out this page for more details:​workshoppreview/

Hope to have you on the calls!

Category : Social Media


Posted by at 19 July, 2011, 12:20 pm

What’s new in Disneyland this summer?
Hint: You’ll go under the sea and to a galaxy far far away.

I’m so lucky that as a travel writer I often get invited to press events for sneak peeks at what’s new in the industry. In early June I flew to Anaheim, California for Disneyland’s Soundsational Summer event, where they unveiled 2 new rides, a funky parade down Main Street, and the latest improvements to the Disneyland Hotel, which is getting a spiffy makeover. We also got to see the construction site of the new Cars Land, opening in Disney California Adventure Park next summer.

Many of you already know that I come from a family of Disneyholics. We’ve taken our kids to the California and Florida parks countless times, and my husband and I even spent a milestone anniversary running in a Disney marathon. I’ve written about Disney theme parks for Family Circle, Parents, and many other outlets, and I’m always eager to get the inside scoop on their latest rides and attractions. Though my kids are now young adults and couldn’t join me cause they have jobs of their own, it was so much fun texting them as I got to see the big reveal.

First stop: Star Tours—The Adventure Continues. I arrived a few hours before the official press ceremonies began, and ran straight to Disneyland’s Tomorrowland to catch previews of this ride before the grand opening. The previous Star Tours had always been a favorite of my family’s—especially my son, Matt, 24, a big fan of the Star Wars movies. But it sorely needed updating. I mean how many times can you keep going light speed to Endor, before it starts feeling a little, well, old? Matt was excited to hear about the revamp, yet protective of the original and worried that it might become too high-tech in its transformation. “Hope they don’t screw it up,” he texted me, as I walked through the queue. He needn’t have worried. The 3-D version has preserved the very best elements of its predecessor, while throwing in some surprising new twists. You still ride in a motion-simulator Starspeeder (this time wearing 3-D glasses, and with C3PO at the helm), but you never know where you’ll wind up or whom you’ll meet along the way. Imagineers have added a bunch of new hi-def images from the prequel trilogy, but here’s the really cool part: The ride’s random sequence generator mixes up the scenes and characters “like a slot machine,” according to Tom Fitzgerald, Executive VP and Senior Creative Executive at Walt Disney Imagineering. There are up to 50 different storyline combinations possible, so the ride feels fresh and different every time you board. I rode 3 times: First to the icy terrain of Hoth; next to Tatooine for a pod race; and last to Kashyyk, home of the Wookies. My text to Matt when I emerged: You. Will. Love.

Touring Tip: Head here first thing in the morning, and grab a Fast Pass before riding. Then return at the Fast Pass time and board it again. You can also catch this attraction in Disney World, Orlando.

Darth Vadar and the Storm Troopers made a surprise appearance at the grand opening of Star Tours--The Adventures Continued

The media went wild when Darth Vadar and the Storm Troopers made a surprise appearance.

Next Up: The Little Mermaid—Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. With my feet back on planet Earth, I made my way toward Disney’s California Adventure Park for the grand opening of The Little Mermaid—Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. Before the ride was premiered, there was a star-studded ceremony featuring Jodi Benson (who voiced Ariel in the movie) singing “Part of Your World.” I couldn’t help but get a little emotional, remembering all the times my daughter Amy and I cuddled up while watching that movie. And, so of course, I had to text her some photos of Jodi in her spectacular sea-green dress. “So cool!” came the response from my now 21-year-old, still a kid at heart. Finally it was time to test out the ride. After all the intense high-tech thrills of the new Star Tours, I admit that at first I expected more in-your-face special effects from Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. Then I realized that it is the hidden technology that makes this new ride so charming. It’s a classic dark ride, similar to Snow White’s Scary Adventures, but with surprisingly lifelike Audio-Animatronic figures. As Ariel sings and swims, her movements are so natural and graceful—even her hair seems to bob in the water. Sebastian has eyes that blink and change expression—all powered by an invisible tiny projector planted in his golf ball size head. And just like in the movie, Ursula the Sea Witch stretches, bounces, and changes form, as she belts out her signature song, “Poor Unfortunate Souls.” Most of the movie’s main numbers are represented, as you journey through the scenes in a clamshell vehicle. By my third time through, I totally got why Imagineers chose to keep this ride so simple. It’s an homage to the classic kind of ride that made Disneyland so special when it opened back in the 50s. So it makes perfect sense to put it in the revamped California Adventure Park, where the theme is movie magic. Of the more recent Disney movie classics, “The Little Mermaid, remains a perennial favorite,” says Larry Nikolai, Principal Concept and Show Designer at Disney Imagineering.

Touring Tip: While the ride is mostly lighthearted, very young kids may get scared at the dark parts with Ursula and her evil eel sidekicks Flotsam and Jetsam. This ride will also come to Disney World, Orlando next year, as part of the Fantasyland makeover.

Ariel looks so lifelike--even her hair seems animated.

Ariel looks so lifelike--even her hair seems animated.

I Love a Parade: Disneyland’s newest, Mickey’s Soundsational Parade, is all about music and percussion.  ”It is designed to be a river of sound,” says Steven Dawson, VP, Parades & Spectaculars for Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment. It opens with 6 dancing drummers (some of them from the movie Drumline)  and then continues with songs, scenes, and characters from popular Disney movies (like Aladdin, Tarzan, Little Mermaid, and Princess and the Frog), all grooving to the rhythmic backbeat. Check out the cymbal and castanet dancers in this preview.

Touring Tip: Nab a curbside seat on Main Street at least an hour in advance. Have a family member save the spot while you do a snack run!

Down the Road (so to speak): Before the press event wound down, I gathered with fellow travel journalists for updates on Cars Land, a 12-acre expansion of Disney California Adventure Park, due to open in summer 2012. Patterned after the town of Radiator Springs in the Pixar movie Cars, this auto-themed land will feature 3 exciting rides: Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, with spinning tractors; Luigi’s Flying Tires, a cross between bumper cars and flying saucers; and the showcase e-ticket attraction, Radiator Springs Racers, where you zoom around a speedway, competing neck and neck with the car beside you. (It’s kind of like Orlando’s Test Track, except you’re racing against others.) From the looks of the construction site, this is going to be HUGE! Here’s a little coming attraction, courtesy of

Are you headed to a Disney theme park this year? Share your questions or experiences here.

Category : Travel Writer Mom

Still a double standard?

Posted by at 4 July, 2011, 9:29 am

When Ellen and I started working from home, we were so concerned with maintaining a professional image that we always made phone calls when our kids were either at school or with a babysitter to keep them quiet or out of the house. We felt it was important that there be no crying, requests for a snack or calls to go potty overheard by those on the other end of the call.

I realize that times have changed and working from home is much more acceptable as a “real career” these days. But the other day I was on a 4-way conference call with some business associates and one of the guys (who works out of his house) had babysitting duties because the kids were between school and camp. His 3-year old and 6-year old were in his home office obviously doing an arts and crafts project because we heard repeated demands for “more glitter” and “colored markers” in the background. Now I find it challenging to participate in conference calls to begin with…especially when someone is on a cell phone. But the kids voices were really distracting. I didn’t say a word, but finally, his superior said “I’m finding it really hard to hear what you’re saying with the kids’ voices in the background…can you do something?” She was half kidding, but I know she would have preferred them out of the room (she has no children.)  He explained that the babysitter didn’t show and then found a quieter room to finish the call from.

My feeling is that work-at-home dads still get away with more than work-at-home moms. I know the “rules” are more relaxed now. But most of the mom entrepreneurs I know would still feel it necessary to project a more professional image and would schedule conference calls when they know they have child care coverage or can at least have a chunk of quiet time.  Maybe I’m wrong.  What are your “rules?” Does it depend on the business you’re conducting and the person you’re talking to? Please share!

Category : Working From Home