Saturday, September 14, 2013

Cleaning the Forest Floor

Photo credit:
I remember when I was little and fishing with my Dad up on Mooselookmeguntic Lake, I looked up at one mountain range and noticed one mountain was bare and black.  "Dad? What happened to all the trees?"

He looked to where I was pointing and said "Oh, that looks like the Ranger Service conducted a managed burn..."

"A managed burn? What's that?"

Dad went on to explain that a couple years prior, a windstorm hit the area, and toppled down all the trees, making it impossible for anyone to get through the area - including the wildlife like moose, bear, and deer. The Forest Rangers deliberately set fire to areas of the woods  to "clean the forest floor." By doing so, they prevent uncontrolled wildfires, they make it easier for larger wildlife like to re-enter the woods, and it allows new growth to come in and heal the damaged and scarred areas from the storm.   Sure enough, a couple years later we came back to the same place, and I looked up and saw a green and lush mountain.

photo credit:
This year, I lit a match.    No, not to the woods - that would be highly irresponsible and illegal unless I was a trained Forest Ranger.   No, what I am talking about is the business I had been building for the past five years.  My business, much like the mountain range I saw with my Dad all those years ago, had taken a large hit.  Medical and financial set backs had weakened an already fragile ecosystem.  My business had become overgrown with wild ideas and half completed goals.  I had no clear vision of where I was going.  I was going in circles, trying to climb over toppled debris, and working way too hard to get on the right path.  It didn't make any sense, and because of that, I wasn't attracting clients, and wasn't experiencing any new growth.  No matter how hard I tried, nothing sustaining would ever come from that mangled mess.  I stopped creating new programs, stopped taking on new clients, and stopped working on a plan that wasn't working.  I lit a match and watched it burn.

I am allowing what was meant to be
to spring up from the ashes.

At first, I was devastated.  It had taken a long time to grow my business - I mourned what was, and what might have been.  But, just like the burned forest, I now have a blank slate, I can allow for new growth.  I discovered I am not growing a completely new business - I am allowing what was meant to be to spring up from the ashes.  Best of all, the ashes of my previous experiences are acting as nutrients for my new direction.  Just like the forest, nothing needs to be replanted - it is replenishing itself because of the vast amount of potential that was laying dormant just waiting to blossom once it had the space to flourish.

Starting over is never easy - even for trained professionals.  There can be many variables and unknowns, and it can be scary.  But, when you plan a managed burn and regrowth properly, and with the right people to assist, you can grow back stronger, more resilient and better than before.  Sometimes when you are trying to Open Doors to Reach Your Key Potential, you need to Blaze some Trails.

What space in your life do you need to clear in order to grow?  If you need help - I have a match.

Please come visit me in my new neck of the woods -

Until then, Hit the Heights!
Priscilla Hansen, CPC - Business & Leadership Guide
Blazing Trails Coaching

Monday, June 24, 2013

Laughs and Lattes - Coffee with the Masters - Tim Ferrell, Before You Speak

Coffee with the Masters -Tim Ferrell
OK, I admit - I was a bit nervous setting up this coffee date.  Why? I'm not sure.  Mostly because Tim Ferrell has been someone I have been wanting to chat with for a long time, and now, I finally had my chance.  I have admired Tim's work ever since I watched MyHoney take the stage nearly five years ago in the Portland's Funniest Professional Contest, knowing that Tim was the man who coached him, and I laughed until my sides hurt.  More importantly, I was impressed by the students - ordinary average people - who had become brave, funny, bold and daring in just eight short weeks.  This guy, I knew, was not only a Master of Laughter -but he is a Master at transforming people into performers.

I've been in Toastmasters a long time, and have studied professional comedians as they deliver their lines.  Quality writing, timing, impromptu, laugh counts - it's all a beautifully orchestrated event, and when done properly can leave an audience in stitches and repeating one-liners for days, weeks, even years to come.  There isn't a person alive who doesn't know Who's on First.  So, to be able to sit and pick the brain of the Master of Comedic Delivery and Performance - Tim Ferrell - was indeed - a treat.

Funny thing was (excuse the pun) - Once I finally got the man behind the mic in front of me, I drew  a blank of all the things I wanted to ask him and was just enthralled to sit and listen to his stories - his incredible stories that paint a picture of lessons learned, pitfalls to avoid, triumphs, ah-ha moments, and success.

Tim Ferrell
Tim started out just like any other success story, really.... on a dare.  I mean - don't we all start out that way?  His friends dared him to get up on stage, try out a few lines, and he said "sure."  He grinned slyly as he leaned forward and admitted to me "getting a couple laughs was addictive"... The rest is history.  He went on to to perform comedy in clubs all over NYC, and then began managing one.

"Thing was, as the comics got off the stage, they would always ask me how they did.... so I would tell them.  After a while, I became known as the guy who gave pointers on how to make their sets better.  Finally, someone said to me - you outta do this for a living"  So, he began running comedy workshops, and has been transforming ordinary, average people into humorous, bring-down-the-house, confident laugh creators.

"It's just one of my passions to see other people do well."

Tim - what are the most valuable keys to success you want people to know? (Finally - my star-struck self started to remember some questions I wanted to ask!)

"Be willing to fail - because no matter what, you are going to make it.  The audience, your clients, your family and friends WANT you to succeed."

What do you tell people who think they wouldn't be any good?

"Give yourself permission to suck - a little bit.  No one is brilliant right out of the gates - work on yourself, and don't take criticism personally."

Laughs & Lattes - Coffee with the Masters

What do you tell people who get disheartened and want to give up?

"You need to pay your dues - You need to ask yourself, 'what can I do today to move forward' - even by just a little bit.  A good comedian makes stand-up look effortless, but it's work.  At the end of a set, an audience won't even remember your name.  They will remember you by material you said. They will say things like 'remember the guy who said the thing about the cat....'   You have to be willing to be THAT guy.  Be willing to take a chance."

Be the doorman for when opportunity knocks, be willing to take a chance, pay your dues, and no matter what - don't take yourself too seriously.  Keys to Success from the Master of Laughs - Tim Ferrell.

After we wrapped up, I walked out to the parking lot and sat in my car to review my notes.  For an interview with an amazingly funny man, I have a lot of serious business building material here.  He gave me pointers on how to improve my own stage presence.  He recommended always stepping out from behind the podium so you are in front of your audience.  He gave me pointers to improve my video blogs - such as to never sit down when presenting (unless you are being interviewed), keep your eyes on the camera (or person you are talking to), and simplify your message - "less is always more" Tim said.  I was excited for my next chance to get on stage to try his tips and techniques that would really bring my audience in... and for me, that is no joke. 

If you are interested in learning more about Tim Ferrell, and how adding humor to your presentations can boost your business - watch his presentation on Vimeo:

If you would like to learn how to work with Tim Ferrell either via workshop or one-to-one coaching -check out his website:

"Laughs and Lattes" is an installment of  the "Coffee with the Masters." Series.   If you are a business owner in the Greater Portland Area who would like to chat over cup of coffee to share your keys to success and how to reach your Key Potential - please contact me.  I'm buying!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Make Your Summer Sizzle

AH... Summer in Maine... the sweet smell of cut timothy and clover as I drive down the country roads brings me back in my mind to the hot summer days I spent throwing hay bales on my dads farm.  Summer meant hard work, but it also meant swimming, fishing, and biking.  It was a perfect mix of work hard and play hard.  Perhaps my up bringing is where I first tapped into my passion of work-life balance because nothing brought me more pleasure than finishing up  a hard days work and following it up by an evening of swimming, barb-b-ques and baseball.

Its natural for many business owners to slow down in the summertime -the weather is perfect for the beach, kids are home from school, and there are many summer outings like family reunions, graduations, and weddings to attend.  So how can you keep the momentum of building your business up, while slowing your personal life down?
I have comprised a list things that you can do this summer to keep your business sizzling while you cool down.

1) READ. Summer is the perfect time to grab a cup of coffee in the morning and start your day out on the deck with a good book. I have a few summer favorites this year - including:

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg ... Take the time to read this book.  Sheryl explains why women aren't rising to the top -and the answers may surprise you.

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo.  This came highly recommended to me by a friend, and it hasn't disappointed.  The author brings us through step by step how Steve Jobs put together his presentations so that his audiences were begging him to sell them his products.

2)  Write - Summer is a great time to grab your journal and head to the beach and dream.  Dream about where you want to go, what you want to do, and what you want your business to provide for you, your family, and your lifestyle. Once you are back from summer vacation - bring your ideas to your coach so you can get them implemented.  What a great time to clear your mind.

3)  Network - With all the summer barbeques and open decks at your favorite cantinas are open - don't miss an opportunity to build relationships.  Is there a prospect you've been dying to do business with, but haven't had a chance to get five minutes with him?  Invite him out for a lively game of golf, a cruise of Casco Bay, or a walk around back bay.  Summer is a great time to connect, because chances are, the people you want to connect with are eager to slow down too.

4) Check In  - Check in with your accountability partner.  Sounds like work doesn't it?  But just like when kids are out of school, if we get into "vacation mode" too long, it can be hard to bring yourself back.  Do it gently by making plans to stay in touch with your coach, mentor or accountability partner through out the summer months.  

Summer sessions are still available at Key Potential Coaching - and coaching can be done from your chair on the beach!  To check availability, or to get a free summer session - click HERE

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Family That Picks Together, Sticks Together...

That was my Dad's mantra for our family business for years.  When I was 8, the mantra would irritate me more than the ragweed that made my eyes water as we hunched over the 14 acres of rutabagas and hand weeded each row.  Once weeding was done, we would pull in around 1300 hay bales before finally calling it a day.  With sore muscles, tanned faces, and dirt under our nails, we would join around the dinner table and eat the casserole my mom creatively stretched to feed her family of five, plus at least five more of the hired hands.  The crew ate with us so often that I actually thought one of them was my brother, and was heartbroken to learn that he just worked for us .. but really, in a family business, more often than not, the employees become just as important as each family member.

Mornings began with tight muscles and high expectations.  Nights fell with a satisfying empty field, and the anticipation of having to do it all over again tomorrow. Dad would recant the day with us at the dinner table, and I always felt important when he discussed the crew members with us -the challenging ones, the funny ones, the non-memorable ones (what was his name again?)... I felt grown up, and part of the management team.  I think even my Dad had a hard time remembering we were, in fact, just kids.

As I watched my Dad lead, I learned to be a leader.  I watched him handle the disputes of disgruntled employees and hot and bothered hay customers.  At market, I watched him humbly hop back in his truck and drive back to the farm with a load of rejected produce. (rejected only because the buyer screwed up the order)....  I beamed with pride when I witnessed my Dad throw in a few extra rutabagas or vegetables into a person's car when he knew they were having hard times.  I smile to this day when I pull into the door yard and see my Dad walking up from the fields, and pause as he gets lost in thought as he gazes at the rolling green hills which are his pride and joy. 

And now, as a business owner, I marvel at his ability to weather the storms that washed away his hard work, his strength to keep going despite setbacks, and his faith to keep praying for rain, and just enough sun.  Often, I reach down deep to pull out some of that Hansen stubbornness and tenacity that has kept my Dad going for nearly 50 years as a business owner.  I apply his principles of customer service, pride in your product, humility, humanity, and family values to my own business every day.  I can safely say, it's made me not only a better person, but a better business owner myself.

So, while my Dad's mantra is "A family that picks together, sticks together...." I have to say not only is that true - but also, a Dad who teaches his daughter to lead, will help her to succeed.  Thanks Dad.

Did you grow up in a family business?  What life lesson's did you learn that you'd like to share?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Picture Perfect - Coffee with the Masters - Joanne Lee, Joanne Lee Photography

Almost seemed silly calling this coffee date "work" because when you get together with Joanne Lee, of Joanne Lee Photography, you are getting together with a friend.  As soon as I walked into The Local Buzz - Cape Elizabeth's newest hot-spot for coffee lovers, I got a warm hug from Ms. Lee.  It's been way too long my friend since we have got together.  I had the pleasure of first meeting Joanne Lee when she photographed me and MyHoney's first family portraits, and my first professional head-shot.  Our dogs were charmed by Joanne, and despite the fact that all Lexi, my little white Shepard-mix wanted to do was sit in her lap, she got some amazing shots.  |

So here is the deal.  I am a blogger who writes about getting together with local amazing business owners and chatting over a cup of coffee to discover how they reached their success - their Key Potential.... and I have decided to quit drinking coffee. Irony right?  After watching the barista make an amazing latte with a glorious leaf design for another patron, I gathered up my will power and ordered a lovely salad - and a water.  I walked back to the table and joined Joanne, and girl talk commenced for another 30 minutes as I munched on my salad, and got caught up with my old friend.

Pushing my plate away, and looking at my blank notepad, I realized I needed to get to the interview  - even though Joanne had already given me so much to write about!  Joanne is interesting, funny, and so talented - she adores her family, her face lights up when she talks about her hubby and two boys,  and how she loves to watch them play baseball.  Her eyes sparkle when she goes back into her memory and talks about a couple she recently photographed who had been searching for each other for 40 years before finally getting together, and getting blissfully married after all these years.....   I could see it all, and she never showed me her portfolio, or any of her photographs.  She didn't need to - the way she described it, I was there.

"It's not just about the photographs - it's about the story...."  I nodded as she smiled, and I felt emotional as she continued to describe the magic she encounters behind the lens of her camera.  "I'm allowed into peoples most intimate moments... from the bride having that last talk with her dad before walking down the aisle..... to taking a newborns first picture - I take that privilege and honor very seriously." 

Joanne's clients are not just clients - they become family.  "They invite me to photograph their wedding, then their first, second and third babies - family portraits, graduations... "  She told me that once a bride and groom took her to the Bahamas to photograph their wedding because there were no quality photographers they knew, liked or trusted there - so she went along with them to shoot their wedding.  Joannes personality is so comfortable and relaxed, I can see why that arrangement would be so comfortable for both her and the newlyweds.

Leaning in, I inquired  "Joanne, what do you contribute to your success?" 

"Well, obviously hard work and dedication - but also I listen.  I listen to the needs and wants of my clients, but I also listen to their story.  It is my job to capture their story - I won't be there later to narrate - the pictures need to speak for themselves - their story needs to come out of the photographs in a way that is moving and meaningful.  My favorite thing to hear when someone is looking at a picture of their child and they say "OH - that is SO Joey" or Justine....  That means I captured the very essence of their child.  It's important to spend time with my clients to get to know them, listen to their story, and capture it so it is reflected back for them to see for themselves"

"What is the key to being able to do that, Joanne?"

"I am always learning.  I have mentors that I think highly of, and ask them to give me feedback on my images.  I take classes in the newest techniques of lighting, contrast and art.  It is very important to me to continue to grow as an artist.... but most importantly - I like to take pictures for fun..."

She went on to tell me about renting a photo studio just to take photographs with her niece as the model - when asked by another photographer the motive for the shoot, Joannes response was "Oh, we are just having fun..." Puzzling the fellow photographer because of all the production and art that Joanne had brought to the shoot.  "It was just for fun.  I need to be fulfilled as an artist to grow as a business owner." 

Joanne - thank you for sharing your keys to reaching your potential.  Listening to your clients so you can capture their stories, continually learning as a business owner and as an artist, and having fun, so that you remained fulfilled so you can continue to grow.  That, right there, is the picture perfect formula for success. 

"Picture Perfect" is an installment of  the "Coffee with the Masters." Series.   If you are a business owner in the Greater Portland Area who would like to chat over cup of coffee to share your keys to success and how to reach your Key Potential - please contact me.  I'm buying!

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Cup of Awesome, with Jennie, from Blossom... Coffee with the Masters - Jennie Stancu

When I saw her posts on Facebook announcing her new health and wellness coaching programs, I knew my next Coffee with the Masters interview needed to be with Jennie Stancu of Blossom Massage.  After all, I know the power that coaching provides for my business clients, but I was intrigued to know how Jennie was using coaching to transform her clients from being "a mess and under stress... to feeling awesome"  as her tagline says. 

As I pulled my trusty stead Ru the Subaru up to the parking meter on Commercial Street and fed the meter some quarters, I inhaled deeply the salt air.  Gulls laughed as they dipped down to the bay, and the sunshine sparkled on the waves.  I looked over at the coffee shop "Crema" which was our rendezvous, and wondered how hard it would be to twist Jennie's arm to get our coffees to go and sit out on a park bench to soak up the sun.  Apparently, not hard at all, Jennie is a Yoga instructor, and very flexible.  Her face lit up when I mentioned the suggestion, and we stood in line at the coffee counter getting caught up with each other.  She is newly wed, and I am newly engaged - so exciting, stressful, and wonderful at the same time.  It felt good to be in the company with a fellow businesswoman who "got it."  ... Come to find out, Jennie lends an empathetic ear quite easily about any subject, and is very easy to talk with. 

At the counter, Jennie ordered a cup of "Wisdom Woman" tea.... and even though this is "Coffee with the Masters", I ordered the same, and found it very suiting we would have "Tea with the Wise Women" instead.  We walked out into the May sun, and noted a cool breeze coming in off the bay.  Once we settled in on a park bench we made no hesitation on chatting... the hour we had on the meters ticked by quickly... she is such a joy to be in company with - I don't know about her, but my stress of the day was instantly gone as she told me about the exciting new ventures she has going on at Blossom.

"I've always played a coaching role with my clients - I need to know where they are when I give them a massage, and I bring them to a place they need to be...., but it got so I was doing more and more talking during massage, rather than them just receiving the massage - so I decided to offer the coaching as a separate service, so they can come receive the massage, and I can hold them in their space."  she gestured with her hands as she spoke, placing her hands to her heart when saying "hold them" and smoothing the air in front of her gently when she said "receive" ... I noted how beautiful and comforting she was... even though the ocean breeze was kicking up and sending shivers through me, I felt warm when she spoke.

"What brought you to this work, Jennie?"  She looked up to the sky with contemplation and ease, and said "At that time (she went through tragedy and loss) I needed to be touched in a safe way... I just needed to be soothed"  And that is what she provides for her clients - a healing, soothing, touch.

"What are you providing with coaching?" 

"I provide a space for women to give themselves permission to be the divine blessing that they are, how to deeply relax  their body and minds, and how to truly receive the simple pleasures of life."  Jennie explained.

I know by personal and professional experience, that is a recipe for successful health, wellness, and stress relief.  Anything would be possible with that mindset.  Jennie has something amazing to offer here -the combination of coaching, deep relaxation and touch is a powerful catalyst for long lasting mind and body transition.   Awestruck, I almost forgot to ask the most important question of the interview... "Jennie, what are your Keys to Success?" 

Without hesitation she answered "Consistency, Self-Care, and following my heart."  Again, talking through her blue eyes, and gesturing with her hands in a gentle way, that made me want to lean in and learn more... but the wind picked up, and we both realized we needed to go rescue our cars from being ticketed.

We separated at the sidewalk, and I hopped into Ru and warmed up, taking the last few sips of my "Wisdom Woman" tea.  Not sure if it was the tea, the conversation, the sunshine, or the combination of the three... but I felt more enlightened.  Actually... I felt awesome.  Thanks Jennie!  You are certainly a Master of Health, Wellness, and Calming Energy... Namaste!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Working on Your Fitness

Having grown up, and lived in Maine my entire life, I know a lot of small business owners who have seasonal businesses that ramp up in the summer.  DJ's, photographers, landscapers, farmers, retail shop owners, restaurants owners to name a few.  

From my experience, I have seen first hand the effects of not working in a balanced plan of nutrition, proper exercise and self care, and downtime to offset the effects of a busy rush time.  Working 12-15 hour days to get the job done, or "make hay while the sun shines," can take a toll on your body.  I have also learned that with proper planning, you can have healthy snacks, plan time for activity, and have the energy to not only service your clients, but spend time with friends and family.  Want to learn how?

In May, I will be sponsoring some events that focus on small business owner health, well being, and time management, and I hope you can join me for as many events as possible.  Summer will be here before we know it - it's time to get game ready!

MAY 8TH, 2013 - "Healthy Happy Hour" - Jessica Champagne Story will be hosting a special evening to teach 8 special VIP Business Owners how to:

 This is a special "by-invitation" only event - click HERE for more information.

MAY 9TH, 2013  "Seasonal Business Survival Tips" - Free Tele-CHAT for Business Owners -
If you are a small business owner whose peak season is the summer months, you will not want to miss this call.  You will learn tips and solutions to:
  • Stay hydrated, nourished and rested 
  • Maintain your energy 
  • Stay focused 
  • Organize your schedule to meet demands from family, friends, and clients!
Click HERE to register!

MAY 1ST - MAY 31ST - Free "Life Balance" assessment and action planning - regularly valued at $99.00 (1 hour phone-only session)
Schedule a complimentary "Life Balance" assessment to review where you are "off kilter" and learn some immediate action steps you can take to bring yourself back to alignment.  Includes a followup call, 2 weeks of email guidance and ability to access the "private client" website for even more support.   Click HERE to schedule

NEXT MONTH - June's "Coffee with the Master's" highlighted business owner makes you feel awesome - even when your life's a mess and you're under stress - so stay tuned!

How are you getting ramped up for your busy season?  What has worked for you? I'd love to hear from you!