Liqiud Courage

        Sorry. I’m not talking about alcohol. Not that I’m against a drink now and then, I just don’t recommend it before entering a selling situation. After, well…that’s up to you.

       No, ladies and gentlemen, my liquid courage comes in a small, plastic tube. Beige 1 tinted moisturizer, SPF 20, to be exact. Now, you may be wondering what that has to do with courage? Well, as some of you know, I’d always hated my complexion. It was acne-prone, shiny and all-around make-up repellent. I could never seem to get my foundation shade right and even if I had, my make-up never lasted more than half a day anyway; put it on in the morning and it had slid off my face by noon. Seriously, ask my friends. We all know kids are cruel. We were probably cruel to some ourselves.  I heard all the usual comments that accompany this kind of skin and few really creative zingers that left bigger scars on my psyche than my acne ever did on my face. I learned to layer on the products and became a big fan of full-coverage everything.

         When I signed up for this business, I did it for the opportunity to be my own boss. I had never really tried the products and I was worried that maybe they weren’t as great as everyone said. If that was the case, I’d be in trouble because there would be no way I could sell something I didn’t believe in. But guess what? It works. It works spectacularly well. For the first time in my life, I feel comfortable in my own skin. I may not be model pretty, but I think I look pretty good most of the time. I’ve had several people tell me they thought I was much younger than I am and one young lady said, “I hope I look that good at that age.”  Woo Hoo!

        I seem to be a walking cliché these days. I understand I’m not making earth-shattering revelations of character, but it’s the first time in my life I can see these things at work on how I live. I thought I had to have everything  just- so for this to work. I thought I had to be just-so for this to work. In holding on to that, I took a lot longer to really try at this. I never knew how much energy got sapped from my life by letting perfectionism rule the way I did things.

        Mary Kay’s products have helped me get to the point that I can wear our sheerest foundation formula with pride, but learning this business has led me to reach for my personal best potential. With that comes the bonus of looking for it in others. Letting go of that need to be perfect has allowed me to focus on other people; to see what they bring to the table.

       So far this month I have two challenge-takers. I need 8 more to fulfill my own monthly goal. I may not make my goal but it won’t make or break me. In the past, if something wasn’t immediately successful, I gave it up. In the past three months, since I really started going with this, it’s become easier and easier to get back on track,  dust off  my scraped knees and keep going forward. Disappointment has had a harder time bringing me down or keeping there for very long. I intend for these blogs to be less about trying to climb my hurdles and more about which ones I’ve conquered.  Well…..I’m off to conquer.

This Wave of Doubt has a Strong Undertow

        Well….I got smacked between the eyes this weekend.

          As you may remember from a  previous post,  I mentioned that there are some people who see my failure in my Mary Kay business as a matter of course. They assume I’ll do poorly and try to be “honest” with me about how I’ll eventually end up licking my wounds and settling for my sub-par existence like a good girl. After all, they’re only trying to “prepare” me for what everyone else sees coming.

        It was also mentioned that women would rather buy their foundation cheaper and in a glass bottle with a pump whereas ours was just in a “plastic tube”. …Ouch. I wasn’t feeling all that well when this was said and my shields were down to 35% power, so my confidence took a direct hit. Fortunately, my starship was not destroyed.

        Now, don’t scold me. I’m well aware that I need to learn to brush that stuff off, but I was still smarting from only having 3 challenge takers this month and no sales from those. I had just written my last post about bravely going on and I was starting to feel foolish. After all, I wasn’t seeing the growth I had hoped for and everyone else was seeing me not having any success either. I started to consider giving this whole thing up. Because, well.., it costs money to put those packets together. It takes a lot of printer ink and a lot of paper. I spend a lot of time writing up the customer info cards and filling out 100 invitations to my challenge celebration. Not to mention what I’ve laid out for prizes and party supplies. And fewer challenge takers means a smaller well from which to draw new challenge takers from.

        Well….I went home and took some ibuprofen, said a prayer and climbed in bed. I had two guest scheduled for the brush clinic the next morning so I recited the Bilbo Baggins speech and went to the training center. One guest cancelled. The other not only showed up, but bought a bundle from one of my challenge takers. And she’s considering joining my team. Take THAT Smaug.

       I re-scheduled the guest that couldn’t make it and today I spoke to three people I hadn’t had the courage to speak to yet. Result: four new bookings. I have the challenge celebration on the third of September and I have some more leads to follow-up. I hope next week I’ll be a bit less pathetic and whiney. Why do I continue to doubt when this is so clearly the way I’m supposed to go?

       As for cheaper and in a pretty glass bottle? I say, first of all, what’s cheaper: a perfectly matched foundation that you’re happy and confident in or one that may or may not match your skin tone?  A foundation that offers a full money back guarantee or one you may not be able to return? A foundation that comes in a glass bottle or one that lasts 5 months with everyday use, has anti-aging properties and comes in a plastic tube that you can not only squeeze every last drop from, but is easier to recycle? If it lasts 5 months ( and for some ladies it lasts much longer), and it’s $20 a tube, that’s a grand total of $4 a month when you break it down. Hmmm…a dollar a week. And that’s our highest priced foundation. I’d say that’s pretty economical.

     So. I had a bad few days. In Mary Kay bloody knees are mentioned  frequently.  I was all set to say I have a new scratch when I just now realized I have not had a fall. I didn’t give up,  I just thought about it. So this is more like a stubbed toe. It’s painful and I hobbled for a while and did that “Hsssss…owww….hssss..owww…hssss..owww” thing as I went but….I went forward.  Hooray for Bilbo!

     Oh yeah, and I sorta committed to submitting for DIQ by the end of November.  … *GULP*


Harnessing the wisdom of Bilbo Baggins

       Yup. Bilbo Baggins. Arguably one of the BEST characters ever written, in what is, in my opinion, one of the best books ever written. I refer, of course, to The Hobbit. He’s a pivotal character in subsequent books, but I am partial to him in this one.

        I love Bilbo. He’s small and just a bit fat. He loves to eat, sleep, and read books. He bakes. He tends his garden and he always carries a pocket handkerchief. He’s civilized and doesn’t like to be uncomfortable.  He’s not into adventures. Until Gandalf comes along and spoils it all.

        Yeah, o.k., Gandalf  knew he just needed a push to get up and out and become more than he’d ever considered possible. In the end, Bilbo was wealthy, respected and proud of who he had become. It’s a fantastic story that I read over and over again.

       I really identify with Bilbo. As certain readers of this blog can testify to, I’m small, a bit dumpy,  I love to eat, read and sleep. I bake, I HATE to be uncomfortable.  Thank God I was never a pioneer. Who could live without indoor plumbing? ..Deoderant? ..Chocolate? Well, not me.

      There are several analogies I could draw between myself  and Bilbo and I may, in all likelihood, return to that particualr theme in future posts. The thing I wanted to share with you kindly forebearing folks was what I like to call ” The Bilbo Baggins Speech”.

       This refers to the self-talk he does on his way to see the dragon Smaug for the first time. I say this speech whenever I’m about to face something I really need courage for. …Like on my way to the dentist’s chair, or trying something new, i.e. Mary Kay…or blogging. This is my condensed version of it:

       (thinking) “Now you’re in for it at last, Bilbo Baggins. Why are you here? You’ve no use for dragon treasures….Feel the worm’s heat, Mr. Baggins? A few more steps and you shall see the old dragon Smaug at last……You can still turn back you know..but to go on, to take those few steps, that would be the bravest of  ALL moments. Whatever happens afterwards is nothing. ….Yes, here is where you fight your real battle, Mr. Bilbo Baggins. ……Do you turn back?”  (aloud) “NO!”

       Then he goes forward and meets Smaug. I’m sure most of you are familiar with this story or, if not, then at least familiar with the Lord of the Rings movies, so it’s no spoiler to tell you he lives and is made fabulously wealthy with some of the dragon’s treasures.

      This has been a hard week for me. I’ve been putting off writing this because it’s the 18th and I still only have 3 challenge takers this month. And none of them has been able to sell anything. I knew when I started this program and this blog that there would be days and weeks and months like this, I just didn’t realize how hard it would be to write about them. I was obviously harboring secret hopes that it would be all lemon drops and milkshakes from now on. Failure and  blog posts  has been my Smaug.

       Well, part of this process is learning and over-coming difficulties. Besides, how could I help anyone struggling with belief in themselves when I had no hardships to deal with?  And this week has actually brought me some success. Because I’ve been talking to people more, I’ve gained new customers and I have not one, but two appointments for Saturday morning brush clinic . I know that probably sounds lame, but if you knew how anemic my appointment schedule has been, you’d know why that’s exciting.

      I’ve also had the opportunity to share this challenge idea with other Mary Kay consultants who’ve been struggling like me and they seem very excited about the whole thing. I’ve been able to e-mail them the documents they need and tell them how I’ve set mine up. I’m hopeful that if I can’t make this work, perhaps it will work for them, in which case, it’s still a success. …But I still believe it’ll work for me. Do I turn back?……..NO!

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

        O.k,…I borrowed that title. And there’s no bomb. I hope you’re not disappointed. If you are, you may need therapy, but we’ll save that for another blog. This is about MY issues, thank you.

        Well, as mentioned, there is no bomb. But there IS something I’m learning to recognize as major reason I’m not moving forward in business the way I’ve seen others do. It is…drum roll, please…..fear of public humiliation.  … A show of hands for those who  can relate?……Would it have been easier to ask for those who CAN’T?

        Yeah,  it’s not some earth-shattering revelation of self-discovery that will become the next big buzz-word in psychology. Just your run-of-the-mill fear that plagues us from the time we learn to care what others think of us. I have the sneaking suspicion that some people who know me are just waiting to see me give up this silly notion of becoming a successful business woman. They may never say so, but in their heads they’re thinking; “Good for her! She’s giving it a try. I just hope she’s not too disappointed when she finds out how hard it is and it doesn’t work like she thinks it will.”  They truly don’t want me to be disappointed, but that’s because they feel, if I am, it’s just the natural order of things.

        I’ve listened to words of caution all my life. I’ve been taught to be practical, look at things from all angles. Expect the best, but plan for the worst. Protect yourself from crushing defeat. This is often expressed in this way: ” Well, why don’t you just pray for God’s will in your life, no matter what that may be.”  Not that this isn’t good advice, it’s just given me a convenient fortress  in which to hold myself prisoner. I can couch my lack of faith by pointing the finger of blame at God saying; ” I guess it wasn’t His will for me, after all.” In fact, I don’t feel WORTHY of God’s best for me.

       This is complete crap. I am a person of deep and abiding faith and I’m aware some of you  reading this are not religous at all. I don’t have any intention of preaching to you, I just hope you can hear my heart in this and realize that this is where I come from. I honestly believe He has led me to this job. If I believe that, then I must believe He intends to see it come to good. I’m not one of those who hold to the health-and-wealth theory that if you obey God, you’ll be rich and never be seriously ill, but I do believe He works for our benefit.

        I also believe it’s His will that I be a blessing to others in all He asks me to do. I concieved the Challenge program after stuggling with finances last year. It was especially hard at Christmas. If I had’t had my business, I would’ve been able to pay my bills, but not buy any presents. Mary Kay gave me the means to buy presents from my sale profits. I thought about that when a director e-mailed us the idea for the first challenge I offered customers. I thought of how many others were probably in the same boat as me and what a relief it would be to have free items to give or to be able to indulge in some little luxuries that would otherwise be out of reach. I really, really want to be able to bless someone with this. It’s in my nature to serve others and I often feel I don’t do enough. But remembering how I felt has given me more will, courage and determination to ease some of that for others in a way available to me. I believe this is God’s way. I’m not going to let Him down.

The “Naked in Public” Nightmare

       Yeah, I pretty much feel like I’m naked in public by writing this blog. I have a couple of  friends who have blogs and both of them are exteremely talented and amusing. They both DESERVE to have a blog. Who wouldn’t want to read their stuff?  I, on the other hand, have a hard time coming up with a basic Face Book post.

     So, why am I writing this?

      By day, I am a full-time pre-school teacher of two-year-olds. While this can be a fulfilling job, it’s hard work and the pay isn’t exactly something you can live off of. I love my bosses and it’s a great environment, but it’s also a treadmill as far as finances go and it’s a job not a career.

      Enter Mary Kay.   I became a consultant about year and a half ago and the more I do it, the more I love it. THIS is the career I want and so I’ve come up with a way that I hope will help me reach my goal. That’s my challenge. What’s the way, you ask?   So glad you asked.

     Back in June, Mary Kay launched an amazing new mascara. To promote it, they are offering a limited edition bundle set of  the new mascara, the eye-makeup remover and an eye-lash curler with three replacement pads for $30.  One of our directors sent out an idea to help us further our business by suggesting we offer a challenge to ten of our best customers. The challenge was for each of the ten to find ten other women to buy the bundle for the sale price of $25. If they met that challenge, they, in turn, would recieve $100 free product of their choice. We would recieve the names and numbers of the buyers who would then be contacted to follow up on how they liked the product and then offered the free facial as a thank you. Voila! 100 new contacts.

     I offered this challenge and when I had 4 takers, I thought “Why not sweeten the deal and give them more incentive to find 10 buyers?”  So I offered a prize drawing on top of the free product to each challenge taker who sold 10 bundles. Then I thought “What if I have a party to celebrate their hard work and they can invite the buyers for their pampering session there?” Thus creating The End of the Challenge Celebration. Further, I thought, “What if I did this once a month with a different bundle for each challenge with an awesome prize drawing?” That would mean the potential for 100 new customers a month.

     Now comes the hard part; finding my challenge-takers. My challenge is to find 10 people a month willing to try and find 10 buyers of that month’s bundle. In June I had 6 takers. No one sold any. In July I offered the Satin Hands set as the bundle. I had 9 takers. I only had 4 items sold. But, both of those numbers are an increase from the previous month. This month I only have 3 takers so far. I’m trying to get 10 before the 15th of this month so they have time to find their 10 buyers. In their packets, I’ve included selling tips, product info, inspiration and 10 invitations to the Challenge Celebration. This month’s bundle is Satin Lips and a lip gloss in either Starry(clear shimmer) or Gold Rush as those are pretty universal.

       I’m hoping this blog will be motivation for me to work my hardest, be an inspiration to others and maybe an exchange of ideas, if you have any, on what will make this work. This challenge will be open to ANYone  who wants to take it. Who couldn’t use $100 extra dollars worth of quality, name brand product to use for themselves or give as gifts? Imagine, $100 worth of Christmas gifts YOU didn’t have to pay for. I even have people in other states taking this challenge since the products can be ordered from my website for the same price since shipping is free. All a buyer has to do is reference the challenge and month plus their contacts’ name so I know what to charge and whom to give credit for the sale. Easy as pie.

      So there it is. Out in public. Everyone will know if  I don’t make it. Naked in public.  However, everyone will ALSO know if I DO meet this challenge.

      Wish me luck, folks!