Last night I spoke to a group of women at a local clothing store in the Boston area. I was invited to talk about the launch of BetterAfter50 my new online magazine that is four months old this week. The women greeted me excitedly at 7pm ready to hear about the top five things you need to know to launch your business.
Having just come from teaching my three- hour Entrepreneurship class at Tufts, I was wondering how I would have the energy to get into it all. But, when I saw the flurry of shopping activity going on, I was instantly charged up. Granted, it was hard to pull a few of the women away from the racks of wonderful dresses, scarves and jewelry to begin the conversation. – and I was tempted myself. But we were at Zia Clothing Outlet (www.ziaclothing.com) in Cushing Square in Belmont, MA to talk business. So, after we all helped ourselves to wine and cheese supplied by Zia owner Karen Kostigen, we settled into what turned out to be an incredibly engagingly, and delightful evening.
As we introduced ourselves to one another, it became clear most of these women were already in business and my topic wasn’t going to work. At first glance this group was so diverse it was hard to imagine what the thread would be. We had a professional organizer, a personal shopper, a 70-plus year old woman who was already planning her business with her granddaughter, an 80-year-old Reiki healer, a real estate broker, a blogger who writes daily as a hobby, a graphic designer and even my sweet 20-year-old girlfriend who loves to write and wants to make her career in publishing when she finishes college. And then there’s our hostess Karen, an amazing entrepreneur/connector and former social worker, who often uses her clothing store as a venue for women to come and talk about their new books, businesses and adventures.
As I began to tell the story about launching BetterAfter50 and following my dream, the floodgates opened. Maureen, the organizer, opened up about the issue of how to get the word out to grow her business. Our personal shopper nodded in agreement and we were off and talking about marketing. How best to use the tools of social media and of course, our networks? Everyone was sharing ideas and the group was beginning to connect.
But then something happened which made this evening even more special. One woman said she wanted to start a business but she was afraid. We all perked up ready to respond and encourage. None of these women knew each other 10 minutes ago and now we had instantly formed a sort of affinity/support group. We were listening empathetically, full of kind thoughts and clever ideas. Next, Maureen began to open up – she talked about her idea of opening a flea market in a nearby town. She lit up as she spoke about this and we were all excited to hear more.
Women began wandering in over the course of the 90 minutes we were together and instantly picked up on the energy in the room. The Reiki healer who was a spry under 5 feet tall 80- year-old dynamo, wanted to get new clients and we were brainstorming for her. When she touched my arm I felt a wave of calmness spread over me – what was that?! We were all so “out there” — so honest and so full of ideas – and so empowered with this instant feeling of trust. And it all happened in an hour – amazing.
The evening reinforced what we already know but yearn to recreate over and over again — the power of women and the comfort and connection and creativity that can flow when people are open with one another. Get a few great minds in a room and when the protective walls come down – the floodgates open.
As the evening wound down, the shopping ramped up. This was great for Karen our host and fun for the rest of us. Here I am in my dreamy new dress with my young friend. I left that evening feeling so uplifted. It wasn’t ME talk – it was the WE talk that made the evening so powerful.
This is just the beginning. We will be having more BA50 events in your neighborhoods, and if you know someone who wants to be a hostess – give us a tweet – a Facebook shout out or an old fashioned email —this is a magic formula that needs to be replicated.