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Archive for September, 2009

Every once in a while, you meet a really bright spark that you know will become (if they haven’t already) a really big bonfire…the kind everyone wants to warm up by over great conversation and maybe even some beers. I met such a spark on January 26, 2009. Her name is Carla Langhorst and she was the most welcome rush of warmth and energy in an otherwise cold and gray room (I do disdain networking functions…or at least…did back then…now I’ve found a way to make them fun).

She introduced herself as a “self-employed consultant” and at the time, I didn’t realize that this was a big shift for her to introduce herself in that way. Over the past months, I have reveled in her progress, her success and her friendship. She is a woman to watch. Here’s why:

  • She is the wisest 29 year old I’ve ever met.
  • She just earned her MBA.
  • She just launched a book called “Will it Fly: And Idea Tester” which is an important read for anyone with a vision and an uncertainty about its viability (and invited me to speak at the launch party…told you she was cool).
  • She is hilarious.
  • She has a consulting business called Make it Fly that is simply bursting at the seams.
  • This month she launches a new site called: smallbusinesssolver.com which was created for small business owners who may not be able to afford a business consultant’s wages. It was also borne out of her connection with herself and her values. Smart, smart woman. She knew that as successful (and here, I mean bucks) as she will continue to be as a business advisor, that she was likely not going to be satisfied in the long term helping people with the same problems and the same answers. She likes greater variety and wanted a product that could reach everyone…not just those who can pay top dollar. The Small Business Solver is a program that represents tons of research and interviews with small business owners (yours truly included) to tap into what their needs are…and the solutions. Do check it out…even if you don’t sign up, you will learn some aspects about your business that you may not have considered.  She’s very very very generous that way.
  • She has great shoes.
  • She is a world traveler.
  • She is a natural and giving connector and if you ever get the chance to sit down with her and talk about life, love, success and all things glorious, you’ll feel grateful to have her at your table.

I wanted to write about her because you know how I love to talk about people who step into their greatness. I also like to write about people who are tapped into their values. And I wanted to post about her today (September 30, 2009) for two reason:

  1. I believe in helping to build the businesses of those I dig and smallbusinesssolver.com launches this month (October 15th, 2009). Yahoo!!!
  2. On this day last year, she almost died en route to Tibet…elevation sickness. Twelve hours away from a hospital, she went into a coma for 5 hours and when she awoke, the only person who spoke English told her that they didn’t think she’d walk for at least three days…what with her temperature of 106 degree temperature and all. Call me sentimental, but I thought that story bore telling.

Here’s some insight that she shared about herself in an e-terview.

You are someone that I admire…who do you admire and why?

I admire my best friend. She is a rock.  She is one of those people who knows herself, knows what she stands for, and lives up to it every single time.  She believes in being good.  She is rather quiet, but she shines because she is comfortable with herself and is extremely happy because of this. I think that it is probably easier to be happy when you are being true to who you are – and she pulls it off better than anyone.

You are an idea tester. What is the greatest idea that you’ve come across (perhaps one that you wish you had have come up with) and what might you have done differently?

The greatest idea?  It is so tough to judge as it depends on the criteria of a great idea. I generally judge ideas on how they fit the people who want to push them forward. Often an idea doesn’t fit a person’s salary expectations, the number of hours they want to work, or their own strengths.

But to just judge an idea on its own, you have to know what the criteria of best is.  If the criteria is money (which is the traditional view of a “good” idea), I would say that casinos are great. I wanted to own one since I was 10. How would I do it differently?  My casino would go after a different niche – women.  All of the men serving drinks would wear revealing clothing, and the night entertainment would be significantly different. Instead of free cigars, maybe free manicures.  I haven’t narrowed in on a name, but maybe Cougar’s Palace. If the criteria is giving back, a neat concept, cool technology, or promoting sustainability, the best idea would be completely different.  I think that to figure out what is the “best idea”, people need to start with what is important to them. (ed note: DING DING DING!!!!!)

Was there a moment in your life that you can say “turned it around” for you (life, business or otherwise?)

No. There are many. I think that life is full of paradigm shifts.  The key is that each one should bring you to a new (and better) viewpoint.  Not to say that you can’t take a step back every once and again.  I took a step back last week. But the key is to keep striving for the next viewpoint and turning bad times into learning points.  Everyone has good and bad moments, that’s the charming part of life.

One paradigm shift that sticks out in my mind was when I first met you.  Everyone at the networking event didn’t seem that interested in speaking to an unemployed graduate student.  I kept having playbacks in my mind of headhunters telling me how many companies were on hiring freezes and the job offers I was getting were 50% below the offers given before the economic downturn.  And the shift hit me.  I had been in sales, I believed in the product which was me, why not sell that and become self-employed? That’s the exact moment you walked up to me and introduced yourself.  I responded, “I’m Carla, and I’m a self-employed consultant”.

What is the one word that guides all that you do?

“Fun” was my first reaction.  I basically live each moment, and fully enjoy each moment.  I figure I only live once – and if that is the case, I should have no regrets.  But you really can’t have fun, or at least appreciate it, without the other – connection with other people.  And I think the strongest connector is giving to others and caring about others. So I try to make sure that that is central in things I do.

What are you always giving away and what does that give you?

Anything I can really.  I make it a priority to do one good turn a day.  This can be as simple as smiling at a stranger, telling a woman on the street that she has excellent shoes, or something more involved such as pushing someone to a homeless shelter in a wheelchair for 2kms. I find that I give 30% of my time away to people.  In the end, most of my clients are a result of having done a good turn somewhere else in my life.  I think the important thing is not expecting that or taking it for granted.

Beyond the launch of smallbusinesssolver.com this month, what’s next for Carla Langhorst?

I wonder that myself. I do have a dream to write a second book during a 3 month backpack tour of South America.  But that is 2 1/2 years out from now.  Right now I want to focus on smallbusinesssolver.com.  I want people to know about it as I think that it is going to help a lot of people out there, but I also want to make it better. I know that there is a ton of potential for this tool, and I want to get it there. Imagine if the percentage of small businesses that fail was reduced to 25% – how much more creative and competitive would Canada be?  How much better would the world be if a country with so much potential could flex its creativity muscles?  I think that I’m going to keep coming up with ways to do that.  Why not have a dream?

On her first day of MBA classes, the professor said: “Live like you’ll die tomorrow and learn like you’ll live forever”. Carla was listening…and so should we.

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I am enjoying a wonderful birthday today. And why wouldn’t I? I was feted by my family over the weekend, and both my husband and I have booked ourselves off for the day. First order of business? Latte…then moksha yoga. Deliciously hot. Our instructor kicked off final savasana today with a famous quote from Theodore Roosevelt. It spoke to me (and not just because I was bathed in sweat) and I wanted to share it with you.

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.

“Citizenship in a Republic,”
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

For my birthday, I ask that you be kind to yourself too…and know that it’s okay to come up short time and time again.

Off to feast on oysters for lunch now. Yup, it’s a good day to be me.

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Know people who are stuck in the nineties? Who really think that Melrose Place being on the air was the pinnacle of good times? That somehow they were part of that campy troupe of styling blondes saying drivel like “nothing like a cold chardonnay on a hot summer night” with zero trace of irony? Melrose Place is coming back…and I fear for those who think it will be the same. Because it won’t be. Not even close. The actors are different, the writers are different and here’s the kicker, like it or not, the viewer who’s been pining for its return is different.

Our ten-year wedding anniversary is coming up on Friday. It has been a beautiful marriage with lots of laughter and love on the one hand and some pain AND growth on the other.  There is so very much to celebrate and as life would have it, for lots of reasons, we aren’t able to celebrate it in the way we’d like to…we WILL make the space and time to do it up right, it just won’t be next weekend.

So it was with a LITTLE bit of a heavy heart that I went back to the scene of the wedding reception. You see, Coach Buffet Toronto is coming up on November 17th and we need just the right place for our unique venue needs: three distinct spaces for the one-on-one coaching, workshops, and mingling to happen.  I had not as yet found the perfect spot.

I walked in the room with a slight bit of uncertainty…I didn’t really know what to expect. Would I be greeted by the happy ghosts from 10 years ago…the jazz trio’s music wafting through the halls, the laughter and excitement that only a happy occasion like a wedding brings and the air of expectations for a perfect life?

In a way, I guess I was kind of afraid to go back…because I don’t ever want to live in the past. And as I walked through the virtually unchanged space, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror that I fixed my complicated ‘do in 10 years earlier. I am no longer that young bride filled with dreams of how happily ever afters work. And that’s good. What I saw in my reflection was a different woman…still confident in the inherent goodness of the world, a steadfast believer in the power of positivity, and filled with a different brand of dream, but slightly more pragmatic, slightly more wrinkled and a hell of a lot more empowered. And that is even better.

Our wedding day was a beautiful day. As is today. As will tomorrow be. There is no need to go back to capture that beauty.

So, I am happy, nay, thrilled to announce that Coach Buffet Toronto will be held at University of Toronto’s Faculty Club. A beautiful space with neither too much pomp, nor circumstance, but with the right peppering of Group of Seven paintings and a cool academic vibe.

Moreover, I am thrilled that 10 years later, my husband will be there with me, by my side. We are different now, and that’s good.

And for you hard core Melrose Place aficionados, that lousy smug Michael may not be back, but enjoy the new and different show.

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You are glorious, do you know that? I just thought we should get that right out in the open. You are beautiful, creative, resourceful and whole and there’s not a thing wrong with you.

No truer words have ever been spoken. For real.

So, given that we know the above to be the truth, why do you figure that you aren’t achieving the results in your life that you seek (and results here can mean bucks, acknowledgment, mojo, enlightenment, peace, flow, joy, a grammy, tranquility or whatever your guiding force may be)?

Upon completion of all of my Board of Your Life programs and at the end of a coaching relationship (when the birds fly from my loving nest to soar…sniff), I ask for feedback. Why? Quite simply, I like to hear what rocked my clients (so I can continue to do the same for others…AND because it sounds so nice). I also *want* to learn what wasn’t so impactful. And that part is hard…no matter how “non-attached” and zen-like I intend to be.

I was introduced some time ago to the simple method of gleaning feedback: “Start, continue and stop”. What should I start doing? What should I continue doing? What should I (…inhale deeply…) stop doing?

Peter Drucker once said, “Half the leaders I have met do not need to learn what to do. They need to learn what to stop.” Yup.

Starting’s easy when you have a good reason to get going. Continuing is dead simple if you’ve got momentum working for you. It’s the stopping that is terrifying. What happens when you stop doing something? The fear of having to start something new to replace the stopped something can be brutally scary. Few people like change…and fewer still like to change.

To get where you know you want to go, what do you need to start doing, to continue doing and to STOP doing? (And, here’s the trick..you can do it all and still be your glorious you.)

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As long as I can remember, I’ve been experimenting with food. Some flops – I seem to recall an ill-fated melba toast in the toaster (yup, flames and all) and some winners for my grade-school palate (chocolate ice cream sprinkled with iced tea crystals; grapefruit stands with any topping you could think of; fresh fall apples with molasses). All of my experimenting was done with equally culino-curious friends.

The joy was in the collaboration, the excitement of trying something new and the anticipation of the results.

And so, I am thrilled to be in the kitchen (so to speak) yet again with my dear friend and colleague, Lisa Chandler. She conceived of the idea for an innovative coaching event and asked me to help tweak it. With a dash of this and a pinch of that, Coach Buffet was created…in the most delicious way (and with a delightful logo, thanks to Stephen Caissie).CB-logo-horizontal

Coach Buffet is a fun, innovative event that was concocted to bring a dozen powerful life and business coaches together with participants for meaningful one-on-one coaching conversations in a social evening format.

Sampling different types of coaching styles = buffet…get it?

This event is perfect for professionals and business owners who feel stuck in some aspect of business, career or life in general and who are hungry for possibilities.

Our first ever will be in Montreal on October 15th and will be followed up in Toronto on November 17th.

For Montreal, our array of coaches is sumptuous (by mid September, you can read all their bios on the site) and our venue is exquisite. I can assure you that powerful coaching will take place and strong relationships will form. As we say at Coach Buffet:

We are serving possibility….Are you hungry??

Register now at www.coachbuffet.com. Spaces are limited!

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Last Friday, I was introduced to a practice of mindfulness and supreme focus by my friend Adam. While he IS a wise old soul, he is neither a yoga master nor a Buddhist monk. He is an 8 year old boy who likes Doritos, Ben-Ten and modeling clay figures of Spider Man and he suggested that I give Fimo a whirl. So I did.

Let me preface this by saying I’ve made it a bit of a mission to find wee food items for my daughter’s dollhouse (custom made by my Dad to look like our house…wall colours and all). I pretend that I’m seeking out the cutest foods for my daughter, but when I’m being honest with myself, it’s a quest for me…something unrequited there, I’m sure! Last week, I spent a WHACK of money at the Ex on dainty teeny-tiny foodstuffs (and felt a little bit like a crazy old cat lady for the experience…miniature doilies, anyone?).

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Fun with Fimo

So when Adam implored me to take a jaunt with him to our nearest art supply store and shell out some bucks for Fimo,  I was in…though just for him. I never thought I’d manage to create something worthy of adorning the dollhouse. Fourteen dollars later however, my mind boggled with the endless possibilities: ice cream cones, sushi, meatballs, cookies…oh my!!!!

We nimbly worked it with our fingers, talked about life, love and bullies. We listened to the rain fall and shared jokes. We counseled each other on our creations and championed each other’s good work.

Given that this delightful afternoon occurred during my working hours, and in honour of my value of hard work, I’ve decided to apply what I learned about the afternoon to my business…and my life. And what did I learn? A lot.

  • Be open to new endeavours…whatever it may be.
  • Want more play in your life? Listen to children…they know how it’s done.
  • Letting go of preconceived notions about how something should be done can give you lots of room for expansiveness. And a quieter mind. Very good for your innate creativity in all you do.
  • Taking time away from business is a good thing…besides, as the one and only Danielle LaPorte tells it, you’re not that important
  • Paying attention to details can make the difference between something being unpalatable or sumptuous. A little more effort can be rewarding…even if it feels fussy and awkward.
  • The only person that expects me to be perfect is me. AND, given that I’m imperfect, what the hell do I know about perfection anyways!
  • There is certain deliciousness in variety. And FURTHER to this, stay tuned for an event that I’m co-hosting with my dear colleague Lisa Chandler. It’s all about sampling a delectable variety of coaching styles…in 15 minute increments. You’ll be AMAZED how a good coach can help you cut to the meat of an issue in less time than that.

I’ll not be doing this for a living any time soon, but was pretty pleased how my little smackerels turned out….fingerprint imprints and all.

So, I ask you to try something new, fearlessly and with no attachment to the outcome. You may surprise yourself…and even clear your mind while you’re at it. And if you don’t know what that could be, ask a kid. They’ll let you know how fun’s done.

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