Thursday, September 17, 2009

I try not to get emotional!

My husband and I began shopping for investment real estate before we were married and before we even owned a house to live in. We lived in Manhattan but wanted to buy a three or four-unit apartment building upstate. Taxes, rent and future flips propelled us. We did great on our first building, making a profit. It's because of Micheal more than me - why? Because he is not emotional when it comes to business.


When we were shopping for buildings, he told me rule number one was: "Don't fall in love with any house." It's only investments and we had to make smart choices and had nothing to do with how a house made us feel. We must buy with our heads.

I would always look as houses from the point of view - "would I live here?" Most of the time the answer was no but, I started to see what Micheal was saying. The place we bought I would never live in but it turned out that we got great rent, we upgraded cheaply and sold at a profit!

Because I create and believe in what I do, I take it very personally. If I get the slightest criticism, I start to doubt myself. If I get praise, I should note the learning experience instead of letting it stroke my ego. I'm trying to learn instead of react.

I also try to not make decisions based on what I want to do but rather, what would make the most sense economically. I would love to go to a million vendor shows, have a booth and talk to everyone that comes by our table. However, some of the shows are very expensive, so instead, I buy a ticket and walk about with business cards and brochures and I pick up other's cards. With the cards I collect, I send them emails to ask them to join my non-profit. It's a lot of work to walk around and approach strangers. It's easier to let them come to me. Yet, it was cheaper and hopefully, will produce the same results.

I would like to hire a web designer and manager but, it's not the best use of business funds right now, so I do all the work. It gets frustrating, tiring and I will hire at some point but, right now I need to do the financially sound thing.

Emotions in business can be a good thing - the whole go with your gut thing...but, your head is a better bet.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Work at Home Fantasy

In the first part of 2008 I worked at a non-profit healthcare company as a trainer and leadership coach. My mother-in-law lived with us full time, took care of my two girls and she was fantastic! I'm one of the lucky ones that gets along with her MIL.

Then it turned into a crazy year.

1st - My MIL decided that she wanted to move out and be on her own. She had been living with us for three years after her husband died and now wanted to be on her own for a while. She just wanted to be Grandma instead of the nanny. I TOTALLY understood. But, of course, focused on my problem of childcare. I worked in non-profit, which translated to not-much-pay. My take home would barely cover childcare in Westchester, NY. So, I started job hunting and setting myself up for the possibility that I'd be a stay-at-home mom.

2nd - My husband got laid off. He was one of the early casualties of the great bank tank of 08. He is in very specialised area where not many do what he does so, he took the summer off and played around with an antiques business. I continued to look for a new job. Even though I didn't get paid much, I at least had cheap family insurance.

3rd - At the end of August I got laid off. Oh crap. Well, Micheal decided that he'll have to go back to banking. He's still looking.

4th - While at a wedding and traveling in France, (we went because it was already mostly paid for) we found out that Lehman Brothers folded and AIG was on the brink of disaster. All that you read about in the papers about credit default swaps - those were the transactions that my husband worked on - also known as derivatives. He wasn't one of the sales guys making millions but one of the lawyers explaining that they were taking too much risk! He'll probably never make it back to banking.

5th - I go full force with job hunting. I gotten several rounds of interviews with at least 8 companies. A few of them I was the top 2 candidate. No offer has come.

So now, here I am. I think to myself. I should just start my own company. Looks like a better bet at this point.. I can take care of children and make some money.

LOL LOL LOL

What a fantasy. I'm not doing the best at taking care of my children. They watch waaaay too much TV. They are only 2.5 and 4. They need lots of attention. I'm not doing the best at my work. I have two of them and I'm not earning any income. Sigh. It's is not possible to take care of your kids and work at the same time. It is not possible. The kids want you when you are on the phone. They must think the computer is permanently attached to my hands. I can't concentrate with the constant interruptions.

I need childcare to keep them busy while I get the business going but I need money to get the childcare, but I don't see myself making a lot of money if I have to always take card of the kids. My oldest starts school full time in the fall, which is good but the other one will be here.

I know start ups take time but, I don't feel I have the time. I hope this fall will bring promise.

I'm still collecting unemployment while I interview. I'm not giving up on finding a job even though I've ventured on my own.

We have a little breathing room for now. My husband is doing OK with the antiques, he is also doing little legal work and we get health ins with that, our portfolio has bounced back a little bit and we are making out house payment...barely. I get scared some days. I know we'll make it but the gravel road is getting old. Even though it's a road it's very bumpy. He wouldn't like to know that I'm typing this but, I have to get it out. Luckily, there are only three followers and you are all friends and family.

Lorin

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Blog, blog, blog

I'm told by many experts that blogging is a great marketing tool. There are many "rules" that I read about all the time. Don't blog too much, don't blog too little. Don't make it about yourself unless you are THAT interesting. Make sure that you comment on other peoples blogs regularly. If I really followed all the rules, then I would have no time for other work.

Being regular and consistent is difficult for me. Most of the time I don't think that what I truly want to write about is that interesting.

I want to complain about husband, money, work and kids. Boo! That would make anyone fall asleep.

My goal is to start writing lists of topics to type about and then make sure I type when I'm not tired. (Which is my current state.) One of the best things a blogger can do is to "back log" articles.

I know that I should post often but I'm not too motivated when I only have three people following me. However, now is a good time to practice for when I have the world really watching me.

Thanks for your patience with this post tonight. I'm very tired and a little burned out on the computer. Better stuff to come...

Cheers, Lorin

Monday, June 22, 2009

SAHM vs. WAHM

I spent a little time as a Stay-at-Home-Mom in the fall after I was laid off from my full time job. It was a lot of work. It was so very different. Stressful because of the loss of income. I did have to job hunt and go on interviews, but for the most part, I took care of the kids. When the economy dictated that I work I became a Work-at-Home-Mom. I have too tell you, the former is much easier than the latter -- for me.

As a WAHM I have to do all the stuff a SAHM does plus try to find clients, work for my clients and all the administrative stuff, too. Plus, I have two "jobs." One being my coaching and the other my non-profit. I find I loose my patience more because my to-do list is much longer. If I have only my family to tend to, I find it much easier.

As WAHM, everyone thinks that since I'm home, I have time to hang out, go shopping, one-on-one playdates and talk on the phone. To be honest, I had more time to talk to my friends when I worked full time than being at home full time.

Even my husband thinks that I can do all kinds of home care. When I used to go to the office, I still had to do home care but at least at the office, I didn't have to clean up spilled OJ, do some marketing, call the dr., go to the DMV - all with the kids.

Granted my kids are little and a bit far from all being school age. My oldest will be in full time pre-k but, my youngest will be home. And my husband wants a third. Ugh.

I wonder if I can be successful at being a mom and a business woman. There are many that argue that I will do harm to my kids because I have to park them in front of the TV for times I when need some quiet. I jump for joy at nap time for the 2 hours of uninterrupted work time. I can't do the one-on-one play time and when I take them to the library it's a quick trip - the park, too.

Where's my husband some might say? Well, he's working two gigs to help pay the bills and keep us from loosing our house. I pitches in when he can but since he's currenlty bringing in more money, I have to pull the house weight. One of the reasons I have to work is so that I can contribute to our survival and then Micheal can spend more time with the kids.

To SAHM's argument, I want to stay attached and relevant to the work world in case I want to go back full time or a full time opportunity presents itself. I know several that are having a hard time finding work after being out and their husbands are out of work, too. I also, know that when all my kids are in school it'll be hard to justify being home while they're at school.

Also, I have to argue that I love what I do. I think that I'm teaching my daughters the joy of having work that I'm passionate about. It makes me complete to have something other then my children to focus on.

The best thing about WAHM is the ability to be able to take care of my kids when they need me and I don't have to try to "get out of work" or negotiate with my husband on who should take the day off.

I like being a WAHM much more than I thought I would. I go to networking event for my social out reach, plus, I do play-dates, too.

I just hope that I can find a rhythm to my life so that I can keep my sanity while trying to make a living and take care of my kids.







Tuesday, June 9, 2009

5 Helpful Hints to Better Communication in Writing

Miscommunication happens all the time. A lot of it can be laughable. Most often, however, conflict or issues will arise. Some of it can be detrimental to your business or family!

Recently, I wrote an email to my EPMA colleague, Mary Ann and some dates got mixed up because I did not write clearly what I was trying to say. It was interesting because my first reaction was, "She didn't read what I wrote." But that really wasn't accurate. Even though what I wrote was clear in my head, it didn't come across clearly to her. My bad. Before I said anything I looked at what I wrote from her point of view and it was NOT clear at all. I apologized instead of blaming. Luckily, it was not serious and we could laugh about it.

In communication, it is BOTH parties responsibility to understand the message but most often there is blame. Either we say, "you didn't tell me" or "you don't listen/read." Both are right and both are wrong.

Now, I am not the best writer. I consider myself a good writer but by no means am I an excellent writer. I aspire and work on it constantly. Being a good communicator is the utmost important in business. It showcases your credibility. If you communicate poorly then you are seen as less credible in the business world and vice verse.Today, with the sheer amount of writing that we do, whether it is emails, blogs, websites, brochures, case studies or old fashioned business letters - your abilities are on display.


  1. First and foremost. Make sure your sentence structure is correct, especially watch for any misplaced modifiers (i.e. "Last night I dreamt I shot an elephant in my pajamas. Why he was wearing my pajamas I'll never know.") and typing their or there for they're, etc.

  2. www.drgrammar.org is a great website to help when you are writing. It is a collection of FAQ's regarding grammar and spelling.

  3. I also recommend a writing class - for many of us it's been several years since we last took a class in writing and it's not like a bicycle, there are many things we forget if we don't practice. Look to your local community college for a class or workshop.

  4. For goodness sake, PLEASE have someone proof read important documents that you hand out for marketing or to sell as a product. I recently received some training materials that has typos and missed words! I paid almost $1000 dollars for the materials! (She's an attorney, too!)

  5. The most important, however, is remembering to be clear and concise. Less is more.



Happy communicating and before you blame others for not listening or reading - make sure you are clear in YOUR writing or talking.



Cheers, Lorin

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

When Family Visits During a Launch

Opus=Work * Vesta=Goddess of family * Ego=Self/Consciousness

There are many times when we do not have the option to say "No" to visitors. Usually this means family. My husband's Aunt is visiting and I love it when she comes. My girls just adore her and she always plays with them! She is a very interesting woman who has been working VERY hard the last 5 years on getting a center built in Afghanistan for children and widows. I'm amazed by her tenacity and determination in fund raising and in construction in a foreign country. I'm very proud to be related to her!

She's in New York to see us and timed it with a fundraiser that she is sponsoring.

The hard part about her visit and this is true with all visitors to my house - I want to make sure they have what they need, they are entertained and are having a good time. This can be stressful enough when we are not busy but add a launch and it becomes even more stressful.

There are many steps we can do to help the craziness and anxiety that can result --

  1. First, plan ahead and know that you will be limited on what you can accomplish when you have visitors.
  2. Pare down your to-do list and limit clients as much as possible.
  3. If you can reschedule, do it. Most people are understanding and flexible.
  4. Put in your gratitude journal that it is wonderful to have family and friends who care enough about you and your family to visit!
  5. Negotiate up front about expectations on their visit. If you have clients let your visitors know when you have to work with them. Make a calendar or list for them. They won't remember nor, do they have to remember. And your visitors are very understanding!
  6. Remind yourself as to why you are an entrepreneur - for the flexibility! It's amazing how inflexible we are when it comes right down to it - even though we SAY we want it...we most often have a hard time putting that flexibility into practice.
  7. If you start to stress out, journal your thoughts. It is an easy an quick thing to do. Stream-of-consciousness-writing. Just blurt it out. Once it's on paper you can get the feelings out and figure out what you want to do about it - choice 1: be upset about something you can't 100% control OR choice 2: Take a deep breath and enjoy the time you have with them.

The people in our lives are so very important. If you were on your death bed tomorrow, would you say, "I wish I spent more time working?" Be grateful for the time. It's sometimes hard to find the positive but not that hard! As an entrepreneur or sales professional you have to be an optimist or you will never make it!

As for my Aunt-in-law...I'm enjoying my visit with her and doing whatever I can to help her with her fundraiser. It's more fun and a nice break! My stuff can wait a few days!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Launching a Business and Learning Curves

Opus=Work * Vesta=Goddess of family * Ego=Self/Conciousness
It's interesting, when you launch a company, that there are many learning curves. There are small learning curves and large learning curves. One of the biggest for me, is technology. This blog is a learning curve! I know enough to get myself in trouble but not enough to do it all on my own. The trouble part is that I'm trying to do all the website work myself to save money. We are a small start up and a non-profit. Until we get going, there isn't a whole lot to go around. I end up spending a lot of time learning so that I can do it myself...for free. There are good parts and bad parts to learning curves.

Remember this: Time is Money!

1. Do you know enough to not waste time? I feel I can get myself into trouble but I try to ask for help as much as possible. This is not typical for me. I'm one of those that will sit with a puzzle for hours until I figure it out. I don't have time to do that now. I need to ask for help and I'm starting to do that.

2. Are there easier alternatives...for now? Sometimes we need to have patience. At this point, re prioritize and ask yourself, "What do I really need to make my client/customers happy?" or "What do I really need right now to be able to market myself."

3. Refer to a "to-do" list before you launch/open for business. Make sure you have your product and that you can deliver. Everything else will be done if you keep it in sight.

4. Don't let details be an excuse. I can sure get caught up in minor details, that I forget the big pictures. I can also be good at say that I can't do this or that because of this other thing. Get going on that product and when you start making some money - improve.

5. Launch small. If your learning curve is super great, don't promise what you can't deliver. Just be what you can be for now. The "big" can come later.

6. Prepare. Nothing says that you can't start pricing experts to help you when you have the money. The first thing Mary Ann and I will do when we start adding members is hire a web designer and maintainer!

The good part about learning curves is that I'm know very familar with web design, hosting, some html and other stuff - the great thing about that is I can talk to an expert without sounding like a complete idiot. We'll be able save time in the future because I understand more.

The other learning curve is accounting. I'm just doing my best and hoping that any mistakes are fixable! And I'm going to try real hard to not hand an accountant a box of receipts at tax time!

If you are launching and have any good tips. Share them with us! I hope you follow our blog - we're going to put tricks, tips and ideas up here on a regular basis. Plus, I'll share the BusiMom's Time Out on Monday's.

Cheers, Lorin

Founder, CEO, Entrpreneur & Professional Moms Association: http://www.epmassociation.org/
President: Opus Vesta Soulutions: Organizational Development for Small Businesses / Coaching for you, your family and your business: http://www.lorinkmask.com/

video

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Focus

Opus=Work * Vesta=Goddess of family * Ego=Self/Conciousness

I've had some trouble focusing lately. I have so much going on that my attention is too easily diverted. I wanted to write for the last few days but I couldn't figure out what I really wanted to write about. My mind was jumping from topic to topic to topic. Not a good read.

I sat down today, opened a word document and started to type words, not sentences, just words. This was the only way I could find a reoccurring theme to write about and it was funny what I came up with:

Focus

Or the lack there of -

Time is one of the biggest complaints I hear about a lot. Lack of time, time management issues, time goes too fast or too slow. No one is happy about the rate of things.

If we can not get focused then we loose time. It's something we can not get back once wasted.

Here are 5 tips for getting focused:

  1. Sit quietly for a couple of minutes and see where your mind takes you - go in that direction.
  2. Make a to-do list. Many times this will get me to prioritize.
  3. Read a book or magazine for half an hour. The FIRST thing you think of when you "return" is the first thing you do or give attention to.
  4. Call someone and tell them you are having trouble getting focused. Tell them to ask you questions. When they ask what kind of questions, say "any kind." This will get you thinking.
  5. Do what I did earlier - write words and see what the main theme is...that will help you go in a direction.

Wow! I was dreading this blog post today and it took me only 5 minutes to write it...now only half an hour to edit...lol

Have a great week, month, year, life! Come back! Oh, and I've posted my recent Entrepreneur and Professional Moms Association video for you. Don't forget to visit our website http://www.epmassociation.org/

Cheers, Lorin

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Powerless or Powerful?

Opus=Work * Vesta=Goddess of family * Ego=Self/Conciousness

The other day, I got very angry. We got a ticket on one of our cars for expired registration. I knew it was for April but thought we till the end of the month. Oh no. It expired on the 15th! When did this start?

The ticket is an absurd $65 dollars for being a few days late. I felt robbed and it made me angry. Not just of the money or ticket. I was angry because I have a very full life, like many working parents, and I try to make it by on some assumptions so that I can get things done in life with some ease. One assumption I thought I could make was to take care of vehicle registrations at the end of the month.

I decided to take some time to think about what really made me angry. It came down to one word:

Powerless.

I can often feel powerless and it makes me feel helpless, which in turn makes me angry. I feel powerless because there are people, such as government officials, company executives and others that do things that have control over me, yet I have no say. (Kids probably think this all the time)

Vote and boycott is many people's answer. I feel voting does not work. I could vote for every alternative and the fact is, government bureaucracies will change things without our consent and we are powerless. Look at the MTA fare hikes in NY.

The only thing I can do in life is change and work on the things I can control:
  1. Such as, read my mail and don't assume.
  2. Look for alternatives at every corner. (I changed cable companies in the nick of time but I was lucky there was an alternative.)
  3. Prioritize important deadlines
  4. Listen
  5. Act instead of react
  6. Pick my battles

I really like that last one. My husband and children are a good examples. There are things I will go to battle for but, I make sure it's THAT important.

I think about Primoff of Scarsdale, who put her children on the street, not 20 minutes from my home, who is also a partner at the same firm where husband works. In her moment, she felt powerless and reacted to her sense of powerlessness. Is she a bad mother? I have no idea. Did she do something dumb? You bet. Does she regret it? Oh yeah. My only hope is that it turns into some thing funny for the girls, later in life, like:

12 year old, now 30: "Remember that time Mom got so mad at us that she left us on the street in White Plains? LOL"

10 yr old, now 28: "OMG, Mom, you were so mad! I can't believe I went with that person to go get ice cream! What was I thinking? LOL and the media went berserk!"

Mom: "I'm sorry I was an idiot. Now that you have kids, do better!"

We can only hope. I'm sure there are many lessons in power from that one.

A few last thoughts and I'll share my Entrepreneur and Professional Moms Assoc. video.

Think about your power over others and use it wisely - justly. Consider the power others have over you. Most importantly, think about the perception of power of others over you. Work to control your reactions.

Wish you all the best,

Lorin



video

Monday, April 13, 2009

Energy Drains

I sent out a video today to all my BusiMoms. (That's my short hand for members of Entrepreneur and Professionals Moms Assoc.) I'd like to share it with you today!

It's about energy drains -- all those pesky things that make us crazy and puts us into a negative thought zone. This negative energy will keep you from getting the most out of your day, your week, your life.

Find out what drains your energy and work to get them under control. You will never be able to completely eliminate them but if you can start to manage them in a positive way then they won't control your physical and emotional self.

Some hints for gaining control:
  1. Make a list of any thing in your life that drains you mentally. i.e. The key that sticks in a lock, gray hair on your head, peeling paint, clutter, a leaky faucet, dentist appointments, unanswered mail/email - walk around your house.
  2. Take a week to fill it out!
  3. Post this list in plain sight.
  4. Look at the list and meditate - think positive thoughts. You don't want to be overwhelmed.
  5. Categorize the list into reoccurring energy drains and a list of "one-time" energy drains.
  6. One-time to do's are easy. Just pick one each week or if inspired, one each day and cross them off as you go. If you're like me, when family visit, they are sometimes able to help out with some of these. (I find a lot of these seem to be home improvement related! lol)
  7. The reoccurring energy drains are tougher. You have to look at each one and figure out what it is about the drain that gets you. For example, I go crazy over putting laundry away. I can seem to get things in the wash but, putting them away is another story. This week, I'm going to figure out a way to make it easier on myself. If you have any suggestions about what works for you...I'll consider it, post in the comments.

It takes 21 days to start a new habit. If you are working on the reoccurring drains and you are going to try something new. You need to do it 21 days in a row. If it's not a daily occurrence still stick to the 21 days.

A coach can do wonders helping with energy drain management. I recommend finding one. I'm going to talk with my coach about that laundry.

Cheers,

Lorin



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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Today is my first blog. I am an extrovert and have a hard time sitting down to write my own thoughts. I decided that perhaps it was time to start a blog and perhaps that will entise me to write.

I'd like to explain my title. Opus, vesta, ego. Opus means work, vesta is the goddess of family and ego is self or conciousness. It kind of explains me. I am a mom, wife, maid, household I.T. expert/landscaper/medic/historian/party plannerm/mediator and entrepreneur.

I've started a group called Entrepreneur & Professional Moms Association. Check out our website! www.epmassociation.org

I also do organizational development for small businesses and entrepreneurs and have a family and couples coaching practice. I love helping people succeed and making a positive difference in peoples lives.

I hope that you enjoy my blog and follow me as I search for things and ideas to help others with business or family or both!

Cheers,
Lorin

Work at Home Mom

Opus=Work * Vesta=Goddess of family * Ego=Self/Conciousness

It is not easy working full time away from the house when you have kids at home. Working at home when you have small kids at home is not easy either. Too many distractions.

The biggest problem for me is prioritizing and focusing. The second biggest problem is my attention and effort in any one area. I feel I'm balanced but everything and everyone is only getting so much from me...including myself.

My Entrepreneur and Professional Moms Assoc. gets %25, my consulting business gets %25, my family gets %25 and I get %25. That adds up to %100 of me. This is because when I'm working, I'm feeling guilty about not spending time with the kids. When I'm with the kids, I'm think about all the things I need to be doing.

I think the trick is to try and just give %100 into what I am doing at the moment. Instead of sitting in the living room while my children play and me sitting on the computer. (The benefit of wireless laptop) I need to stop and play with them and then go to my own area to do work. Easier said than done. More on this later, as I explore it.

Cheers, Lorin