Lynne Goldberg: OMG! I Can Reinvent Myself

Lynne Goldberg MeditatingIn a short period of time, Lynne Goldberg lost all the personas with which she had come to identify herself.  They fell away, one after the other. No longer expectant mother, daughter, wife, sister or businesswoman, she was left with only one face to look at in the mirror and she didn’t like what she saw.

Goldberg grew up in Montreal, Canada, and joined the family retail chain business where she spent more than two decades in charge of merchandising management. She was a typical type-A executive, stressed out and overworked, which wasn’t exactly helpful when she and her husband decided to start a family.

“We had a lot of trouble getting pregnant and went through numerous failed fertility treatments. I was overjoyed when I finally discovered I was pregnant with twins after four years of effort.”

“It really helped me. We wear so many masks all the time and when you finally get down to it, who you are at your core really doesn’t change. Knowing that helped me shift from meeting external identities to finding myself.”

Her joy turned to sorrow, however, when Goldberg’s mother was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer. The stress, combined with her full-on work Lynne Goldbergschedule, forced Goldberg to take bed rest on her doctor’s orders to save her pregnancy. It was all in vain as she miscarried and had to deliver the fetuses. Within the year, Goldberg’s mother died and her world fell apart as her brothers pushed her out of the family business.

“My mind was just not there anymore. I couldn’t perform at work and wasn’t able to do what they needed done. It was a business after all, so they asked me to leave. And despite having adopted two children, my marriage unraveled. I lost everything in a few short months,” she recalls.

She threw herself into a new line of work, using money from her buy-out to launch a home décor importing business to support herself and her children. Nevertheless, it was hard, as she was constantly travelling to China and Europe. On a personal level, Goldberg was angry, disconnected, and generally unhappy. She carried around the feeling that there had to be more to life.

Seeing her struggle, a friend turned her on to meditation.

“It really helped me. We wear so many masks all the time and when you finally get down to it, who you are at your core really doesn’t change. Knowing that helped me shift from meeting external identities to finding myself.”

She continued running the business but was really drawn to meditation and signed up for more and more courses, trying to figure out how she could develop that aspect of her life further. She began teaching meditation at hospitals and schools, until she finally came to the realization that teaching was what gave her the most satisfaction. Although her importing business was doing well, with clients like Costco and Walmart on board, Goldberg decided to sell and focus full time on teaching meditation.

“It was an easy decision.  There wasn’t any meaning in what I was doing; it didn’t make me feel good. Teaching did. When you get out of your own personal drama and look at the world from a bigger perspective, what good you can do, your mentality shifts. It’s empowering.”

And her perspective did change. Goldberg reconnected with her brothers, with whom she is very close today. She remarried and – most importantly – she’s happy and fulfilled.

“I went from being consumed with anger to having family that I love. It’s like that expression says, ‘Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal withOMG I can Meditate! Poster the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.’ One of my biggest life lessons has been forgiveness. Now I choose to find the things that give me joy. Instead of feeling something was taken away from me, I shifted to what I have.”

But the Type-A exec still lurked beneath the surface, and Goldberg wondered how what she was doing could be bigger – how she could reach more people and give them the same joy she was experiencing. As it happened, Goldberg’s husband, a fellow meditation convert who had been in tech, was feeling the same way. His last business produced ringtones and mobile content, and his number-one selling app was the fart ringtone. So it’s hardly surprising, he too was having the sense there’s got to be more and wanted to help his wife in her mission. The couple teamed up with another husband and wife duo who also meditated and had experience building apps.

After one year in development, the result was OMG I Can Mediate, a mobile app targeted at people who have never meditated before. The app launched in March 2015 with 12 weeks of content (the first of which is free) and over 100 specialty meditations from helping you wake up in the morning or go to sleep at night to dealing with your kids. There’s even the wonderfully named “My Boss is a Jerk” which teaches compassion.

OMG I Can Meditate! Logo“If you live in NY or LA, then meditation is widely accessible. But in most other places, it’s still primarily just the early adopters. We wanted to give everyone the opportunity to meditate and make it less daunting and a little fun,” the 52-year-old explains. “The irony is that the very devices that have made us more frenetic can also be the means to finding peace and happiness.”

They are constantly updating and adding new content to the app. After the launch, they were the number-one app in India – an unexpected but pleasant surprise. And AppPicker.com called OMG I Can Mediate “best meditation app available in the app store.”

Looking back at how her life has changed, Goldberg is effusive “I feel blessed, truly grateful. I cannot believe how lucky I am. We wonder why tragedy happens. Sometimes the explanation takes 20 years to figure out. If I knew back then how everything would turn out, I would have been a lot happier. But at least now I have this sense of trust that when stuff happens, it’s meant to happen and it’s going to be OK. It takes the drama out of the day-to-day stuff.”

Test drive the meditation app.

Tips from Lynne Goldberg

  • Building a business process requires a great deal of perspective.
  • Do what you are passionate about. You’ll find success, if you truly love what you’re doing. But remember, you can define success in many ways. Happiness should be the baseline.
  • If you’re thinking of launching an app, keep these things in mind: Keep it simple; Be patient. It takes time to build a brand; Believe in it and let go of expectations; Breathe!

 

 

Nichole Montoya: “Nacho” Ordinary Payment System

Nichole Montoya and Molly DiCarlo at National PTA EventAccording to the Urban Dictionary, the go-to source for the definition of all terms hip and cool (or in our case, slang we hear our kids using) to “Cheddar Up” is “to gain money through legal or illegal means.” As in “Man, I gotta get my hustle on and cheddar-up.” No small irony then that two moms in Colorado, by way of the Iowa and Nebraska plains, should settle on Cheddar Up for the name of their venture, the latest and most innovative arrival to the stage of group payments.

“Every time she hears me explain that ‘cheddar’ is slang for money, my co-founder Molly can’t keep a straight face. There is just something about two moms, handing out cheese cubes and company flyers at a school carnival that doesn’t scream Jay-Z,” laughs Nichole Montoya. (more…)

Marlo Scott: The Sweetest Revenge is Just Being Happy

Marlo Scott

Everyone’s job stinks from time to time, but if you find absolutely no joy in what you do then it’s time to get out. Some of us are lucky and can do this sooner rather than later but others, like Marlo Scott, bide their time, planning and preparing for the day when they can bust out of the toxic work environment once and for all.

“I spent seven years in a hostile industry. The media business is full of bully bosses, but this was only fuel for me to figure out how to work for myself. When I was passed over for a promotion that I should have gotten, I swore I would get my sweet revenge on my bad boss. It was only a matter of when.” (more…)

Ellen Reich: The Square Peg Who Found Her Hole

Ellen ReichEllen Reich has always struggled with trying to find just the right profession, something that would enable her to mesh her aesthetic side with her political leanings. It took her some time to figure it out, but today Reich is the proud owner of Three Stone Steps, a small import business specializing in “ethically-sourced” products.

“I never took a linear path, I meandered a bit, but that’s sort of what I do. And in the end, it all worked out. I like to think I’ve had an impact on making people more conscious about what they buy, where things come from and if they are fairly made. I don’t hit them over the head with it, but I find it really satisfying when it happens.” (more…)

Michele Glaze: Taking the Plunge, For Better or Worse

MicheleGlaze-headshotFor as long as she can remember, Michele Glaze has wanted to move to California. Not because the Saskatchewan native had visions of being a Hollywood starlet but because she wanted to work behind the scenes where the drama was real. While she hasn’t (yet) made it to California, Glaze did leave behind a well-paid, secure corporate position for a career in the non-profit world of performance arts where she got to fulfill her dream of working in music and staging live events.

Unfortunately, things just didn’t work out and today the 48-year-old Glaze is seeking new opportunities.

But be warned: This is not a cautionary tale about the perils of taking a risk, leaving your comfort zone and following your passion. While the job may not have been a good fit, Glaze is adamant she made the right decision in taking the plunge and is confident she will find something in the field which she really loves.

“I have absolutely no regrets. Even in my position of having to look for a new job, I would do it all over again. If I hadn’t left my secure job and taken the risk, I would always have wondered. I’ve never been comfortable with the what ifs in life.” (more…)

Lakeisha Dunn: A New Business for a New Life

LakeishaDunn-outsideLakeisha Dunn spent ten years doing a job she strongly, strongly disliked. A job that left her miserable and depressed. But the pay was good and it offered job stability, and she didn’t think she was qualified to do much else. So she stayed.

Fresh out of high school in Baltimore, Maryland, Dunn enrolled in a program that trained nursing assistants but realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t for her. She worked a couple of different jobs as an administrative assistant, and while they were fine she wanted something new, something different. She thought that a job that allowed her to walk around some, maybe even go outside, would be ideal. And so she was thrilled when she landed a job as a correctional officer at a Baltimore City jail. (more…)

Kathy Lindert: The Mortgage Banker Who’ll Put You Under Her Spell

KathyLindert-head-shotKathy Lindert wants you to take her to bed. In fact, she has slept with thousands of men and women and swears it’s okay because her husband is good with it.

You see, Lindert is a hypnotist who helps people overcome any number of issues ranging from smoking to fear of flying. She records all her sessions and gives them to her clients on MP3 or CD.

“The last thing you hear, read, see, or do is what your mind works on, and so I want that to be you. I want you go to bed and listen to my voice. So tell your partner, I’m 52 and really cute, and I’m going to teach you a lot of things because I’ve got a lot of experience,” she says with a laugh. “But seriously, it really works because when a person is relaxed, they are able to change.” (more…)

Tina James: Championing Women on and off the Dance Floor

Tina James_ballroom compressedTina James’ heart and passion lie with women’s empowerment and, in case you doubt her credentials, she’s got two businesses to prove it. FemTECH, a support program for women-owned tech-enabled start-ups, helps African women take charge of their destinies by creating growing businesses. On a lighter note, Dancing Divas, a non-traditional dancing school targeting more “mature” ladies, builds confidence on the dance floor that translates into clients’ daily lives.

“I am so fortunate to be involved in two businesses that I am absolutely passionate about. The dancing caters to my creative side and through femTECH I can offer support services to women that inspire them to make their visions a reality. Out of what was not a very nice situation seven years ago, so many wonderful things have happened.” (more…)

Marcia Reynolds: Whose Life are You Living?

Reynolds lightThe day the doctors told my father he could no longer work was the day he accepted his death sentence. He was only 59. He had gone deaf due to a growing brain tumor. Yet the doctors said the tumor was operable. There was even a possibility that he could hear again, but they insisted he stop working. No matter how I tried to convince him that he still had a good life left to live, I failed to convince him. Two weeks later, he passed away.

The crazy thing is that I missed the lesson in my father’s passing. My father could not free himself from the identity of being a successful businessman. When he could no longer hold on to that identity, he quit living. All he knew about life was working hard and being the best. He packed his free time with tasks. When he had to give up his addiction to achievement, he gave up his will to survive.

I didn’t see how much I was like him. The obsession I inherited helped me to be successful and almost killed me too. I worked the night after his funeral, thinking that was what he would have wanted me to do. He wanted me to thrive through my achievements at work. I proceeded to be successful partly for myself and partly in honor of his dreams for me. (more…)

Samantha Razook Murphy: Creating a Movement from a Summer Camp

Beth_Samantha_Melisa_SillyThey say that necessity is the mother of invention, and no one knows better than Samantha Razook Murphy.

Running a residential summer camp for teens, far from family and friends, this creative mom launched her own day camp for young girls to occupy her daughters while she worked round the clock. With a focus on hands-on science and project-based fun, Curious Jane was an immediate success and has evolved today into a highly successful camp, after-school, and community-events business aiming to empower girls to solve problems and experiment in unexplored subjects.

“We take a STEM approach but it’s also creative. Really my goal with the girls is to remove fear of failure as they tend to have greater internal and external pressure to get something right. I want girls to fail. I want them to see it’s totally fine and they can learn from it. I want them to use their hands, look at the world in a different way, open the kitchen drawer and see tools and resources for their creativity, and, best of all, know they can do it themselves,” she explains with enthusiasm.

A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Razook Murphy always did well at school. Academics were a top priority, and she didn’t disappoint when going to Yale. But her choice of major – graphic design – at an ivy league school was non-traditional. Graduating a year early, Razook Murphy moved home and did some work in the field only to discover it wasn’t really her thing.

She married young, at 23, to an entrepreneur who was building a computer camp business in which she was very involved. But the day after her honeymoon, the newly pregnant Razook Murphy was initiated into the very grown-up world of financial strain and endless worry: “My husband, Doug, was in a very serious car accident. He survived but the recovery process took a year. The business went into Chapter 7 bankruptcy. We were wiped out and basically had nothing.”

With her options limited, Razook Murphy felt her best shot was to retrain and – thanks to her parent’s support – she returned to school to get a Masters in industrial design. With their one-year-old daughter and not much else in tow, the couple moved to Brooklyn, NY, where she started studying at The Pratt Institute and Doug began to rebuild his business. “It was pretty tough going. We were lucky enough to have a lovely older woman across the street who looked after Eleanor while I studied and worked on Doug’s business. We had to take a lot of loans and drained our financial resources, but we managed.”

With her degree in hand and another baby joining the family, Razook Murphy ramped up her involvement in the business. While this was the family’s main bread and butter, she still found time to teach at Pratt and do some industrial design freelance projects.

Fast forward a few years and with the recession going strong, Razook Murphy and her husband needed to get a little more creative about making money in order to stay in their increasingly expensive Brooklyn neighborhood. The plan was to establish a new overnight program – Blue Tree Camp – for teenage girls on the Bryn Mawr campus outside Philadelphia that Razook Murphy would run while her husband remained in Brooklyn.

But what about her daughters? What to do with them while she worked?

LivvyGrace_Samantha_Eleanor_Sitting
With her daughters Livvy Grace and Eleanor

“I didn’t have anything in my mind. I was in pure panic mode. I was only thinking, ‘We have to be able to pay the rent so we’re going to call Bryn Mawr and rent space there to run a teen girls’ summer camp. Maybe I can set up a day camp on the side for younger girls where I can put Eleanor and Livvy Grace while we work and work and work. Curious Jane is a fun name. Yeah, let’s go with that.’ It was as simple as that,” she laughs.

And so Curious Jane was launched purely out of necessity, as so many service-oriented business are.

Before taking it to Bryn Mawr campus later in the summer, Razook Murphy rented some space in Brooklyn, signed up a few of her friends, and got started. “We ran a few weeks of Curious Jane in early summer then I packed up my kids, packed my stuff, moved to Bryn Mawr, lived in the dorms for six weeks, ran Curious Jane there and then ran the teen overnight program,” she recounts breathlessly.

Starting small, Razook Murphy hired one teacher and did everything else herself, from driving the camp van to designing the classes, all the while being responsible for Blue Tree. She created an umbrella entity, Girls Dream Out Loud, to house Blue Tree and Curious Jane. “So I won’t lie, it was incredibly stressful that first summer. My kids were there, other kids were there. I look back on it and it creates panic in my stomach. But you put one foot in front of the other and just keep going.”

The following summer, she saw the pay-off. While the Bryn Mawr Curious Jane camp remained small with the focus being on the teen Blue Tree program, the1973956_10151955129636516_1973352057_o Brooklyn camp took off. “We went from 78 camper weeks in 2009 to 520 one year later … 700% growth! What happened was that the girls came, they loved it, their moms loved it and we had an audience.”

And who wouldn’t love classes with names like Guerilla Art, Spa Science, and Gadgets + Gears. You can even learn how to create your own graphic novel or made quiz boards with conductive paint in Wired 101.

Growth came mostly through word of mouth and there was a huge response from the community. Within another summer, Curious Jane opened a Manhattan location and today offers its camps in eight locations.

While it initially subsidized Curious Jane, after six years the Blue Tree teen residential camp has run its course and this summer was its last. “Basically Curious Jane proved to be the much stronger brand. It was able to support itself. It’s unique in that it’s all girls and based on themes like toy design or electronics. These 6-11 year olds are so jazzed to be in the classroom working on their projects because the staff is just so awesome. Curious Jane’s approach has attracted the most phenomenal young women as staff members. It’s a very collaborative and inspiring environment,” Razook Murphy explains.

Curious Jane got a big boost in 2014 when it won a generous small-business grant as part of a nation-wide competition. “It was tremendous! There were CJ_Mag_Cover_BlackOutlinesome debts that needed to be cleared but most importantly we were able to engage a business development group. We’d always grown organically and didn’t have a strict game plan. Frankly we were a little all over the place and they helped us narrow the areas we wanted to move into, to lay a path should we wish to pursue additional funding. We also secured a new office space which allowed us to accommodate more staff and supplies and therefore do more outside of the office. And finally we launched a magazine for cool creative girls. It’s advertising free, full of fun stuff to create, and just awesome!”

And how does she feel now from those heady camp days in 2009? “I’m thrilled, I love waking up every single morning and coming to do what I do. That’s an enormous blessing. I love the people I collaborate with and the fact that I do something good for girls, especially my own girls. They can see a role model, a strong confident woman. Success for me has been being able to grow and develop resources at every state, and frankly to have developed a little bit of grit. People respond so positively to Curious Jane and I get to make a living from that. How great is that?”

Tips from Samantha Razook Murphy

  • Don’t let fear of failure hold you back.
  • Connect strongly with your first customers, value them, learn from them, serve them, they are by far your best tool in growing your business.
  • Mind your time and your energy — throw yourself in but take a moment to step back
  • Reach out for feedback — it’s scary but critical
  • Put one foot in front of the other
  • Remember that “balance” has no momentum… chaos does. Get comfortable with that, use it!

Farhana Huq: What’s Your Lie? Here’s mine

This post is modified from www.surflifecoaching.com/

sunset-at-ocean-beach-random-photoshoot-farhana2 (1)What’s your lie? I asked this question to a recent client of mine who was feeling very stuck with what she wanted to do regarding a major life decision. She couldn’t answer me on the spot, she needed time to think. But I have a lie…let me tell you about it.

For 11 years, I worked to build a non-profit organization in service of helping immigrant and refugee women start their own businesses. They faced systemic challenges in getting their businesses up and running – mostly due to language and economic barriers.  In 2010, I took a sabbatical from my organization to recover from burnout and to figure out what was next for me. I was relatively free of stress during my sabbatical; it gave me the opportunity to really experience life in a way I had never been able to in my adult career and to realign my passions with my work.

What became clear to me was my commitment and support of women’s empowerment. I also valued freedom and independence greatly. (Yes, I was the type of kid who would look at our shed outside my suburban NJ home and wish I could live in it by myself.)  I wanted to empower and work with women, regardless of whether or not they were immigrants. When I came back from sabbatical, I realized my lie was deep inside, I was not the one who should be running this organization. I knew it should be led by the people it sought to serve – by fellow immigrant women in the community. Only they really knew and understood their circumstances and challenges and could organize and represent themselves in a way where they shared power and were the ones making change.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe had developed an innovative curriculum in the process, and I believed that could be spearheaded independently of the organization by a motivated entrepreneur who could take it to the next level. At first, I thought that entrepreneur was me but, on further reflection, the thought of raising capital and driving forward another start-up – which would take everything I had – made me cringe.

This realization only came to me after stepping away from what I was doing and giving myself a break. I actually had no idea about the amount of financial stress I had been under all those years running the organization. Don’t get me wrong; we did AWESOME work. The team was even more AWESOME, and our clients – amazing.

When I started working with low-income women entrepreneurs and was thinking of starting the organization, an early donor – herself an immigrant – 2803746_origsuggested to focus on immigrant women. She hadn’t seen anything substantial being done for the community in this respect. In some way, it had felt as if I had been partially carrying someone else’s agenda all these years and not been feeling my full authenticity. There were elements I felt I owned, but in the spirit of a non-profit, at the end of the day, I worked on behalf of the interests of donors and institutional funders. I never felt stuck, per se, but the year upon returning from my sabbatical, I knew it was time for a change.  I acknowledged my “lie” and what the right decision for the organization was.

Being clear with myself on what I really wanted to do was key. It took time and space to figure this out but, when I finally did, everything seemed to flow like a river. No more getting sick. No more stress. No more feeling like I was pushing a boulder up a hill. I could just flow, knowing I was on a path to live my truth: to work one-on-one with successful women and leaders, in service of their personal and professional transformations, and guide them in using their success to have a positive social impact on individuals and the planet. While all these years I had dedicated myself to working on behalf of women with few resources, I knew my calling was to work with women who had the resources to give back.

Sometimes we do good work, and it is not exactly the path that we know will most fulfill us. Sometimes we do work that sucks the life out of us. It’s what Greg Levoy, author of Callings calls a “parallel path”. It’s like the dancer who becomes the dance critic or the novelist who instead ends up in journalism. Don’t get me wrong; sometimes parallel paths are very necessary. But what is your “truth” that keeps popping up?  What are you hiding from? What parallel paths do you keep creating for yourself to avoid your real path? Give yourself space and time to reflect. If you don’t, you will feel stuck, unmotivated, and even sad.

4387505I was fortunate to have the time and space to figure this out.  I was able to explore and make so many different discoveries about my next steps.  If you cannot make physical space or take time off, it’s critical to make mental space. Keeping a journal and adding a self-reflective process to your regime will help immensely with this.

So what’s your “lie”? Really mull it over. See what comes to you. You may be surprised at what pops up and how this bit of information can help ignite momentum for your next big leap, whether it’s a career change or new business idea. The other way to explore this (also great advice from Greg Levoy) is to have someone ask you over and over: “What do you KNOW to be true?”  Have them keep asking it and see what it uncovers in you.

Farhana Huq is an award-winning social entrepreneur, executive coach, and founder of several globally conscious ventures including Brown Girl Surf. You can find out more about her at www.surflifecoaching.com.

Ann Marie Cassella: From Selling Books to Housing Seniors

ann marie headshot

Sometimes our career paths feel winding and unpredictable, and yet in the end they seem to lead us exactly where we’re supposed to be. Such was the case for Anne Marie Cassella.

With a public relations degree in hand from Utica College in upstate New York, Cassella’s  first job was as PR Director for The Arc, or the Association for Retarded Citizens, as it was known at that time. The job was a good fit and Cassella enjoyed her work, but soon decided to go back to school to earn a second degree in graphic design.

In order to keep her on while she went to school, The Arc offered her a position more compatible with her student hours. “The Arc owned forty residential care homes, and I became a floating manager, going to various facilities to assess their needs and make sure they were being properly run. I had no experience in this area, but they gave me all the training I needed.” (more…)