Temenos Journal II

October 25, 2014

Stranded in Reno

Filed under: Branding,Reno,Writing & Creativity — by Genie Webster @ 9:33 am
Tags: , , , , ,

 

Stranded in Reno

Sign from Genie’s show in front of Harold’s Club in downtown Reno circa 1995

Only one person that I know witnessed the short period of time in the mid-90s when I sang on the street in Reno, Nevada to make a few bucks so that my roommate and I could buy groceries. Now mind you, I was not a kid… I was a 40ish grown woman. We needed immediate cash and that’s what I knew how to do. Susan (my roommate and only witness) was my side kick, percussionist, and promoter.

Being the good citizen that I am, I sought out a policeman on the downtown Reno beat and checked to see if singing for tips on the street would be okay. He pointed me to a spot in front of Harold’s Casino, which had recently closed, but which still had a lot of foot traffic. “You won’t be blocking anyone’s business over there,” he said.

I treated this as any gig… put on my make-up and show costume and went out to give the passersby an entertaining show and hope they would throw tips into my open guitar case at my feet. Most of my songs are finger-picked ballads and at the time I only knew two or three up-beat songs that I could strum. Since there was no amplification, I had to sing songs that were lively, that I could belt out. Well, due to poor planning, I wound up singing the same couple of songs over and over again. It was a windy night, too, and somehow that made this outdoor unplugged gig very exhausting.

Reno attracts a lot of conventioneers and bachelor parties so there were groups of drunk horn-dogs who would gawk and heckle us as they walked by. One obnoxious guy touched my arm and said, “Hey honey, are you working tonight?” Aggravated, I pulled away and hollered at him, “Of course I’m working! What does it look like??” Being brand new to Reno, I didn’t know yet that this was lingo for hiring a hooker.

After three exhausting hours, I counted the change in my guitar case and it was about $30… enough to feed us for a couple of days. But I was utterly exhausted. “This has been the hardest thirty bucks I’ve ever earned,” I said to Susan, who was also exhausted herself from banging a tambourine for three hours in the wind.

The friendly policeman who had given me advice earlier must have seen us sitting on the sidewalk, leaning up against the wall exhausted. He walked up and said, “You’d probably do better if you weren’t dressed nicer than the tourists… You need to look more downtrodden, like him (and he pointed to an apparent bum sitting on a milk crate playing terrible harmonica across the street).

My roommate and I looked at each other and nodded.

We went home and that’s when I created the “Stranded in Reno” sign above. The next night I dressed in ragged jeans and a flannel shirt and I propped the sign up in my guitar case. At first Susan objected because she thought the sign was misleading because it wasn’t true… “false advertising,” she said. She felt better about it when I explained that “Stranded in Reno” was the name of our band.

The cop was right! People not only dropped in more money, but they offered us a place to stay, and we got invitations to get something to eat. One person even stopped by to offer the use of her phone to call long distance to anywhere we wanted (that was in the day before cell phones). About 30 minutes into our show, the harmonica-playing bum came across the street and set up his milk-crate about ten feet down the street from us. “Hey, quit trying to ride on our coattails,” Susan admonished him.

We made $30 again the second night, but it only took us a little over an hour. Which proves three things: 1.) you can’t always judge a book by its cover; 2.) the way you package your product determines your perceived value; and 3.) there will always be opportunistic imitators lurking in the wings.

genieCDcover

The Susan in the above story (my best friend/biggest fan/partner in adventure Susan Cerny) inspired the song “Walk the Dream.” She died in 1997, but she was alive every day of her life. Sometimes I still feel her encouragement…..

 

 

 

 

May 20, 2014

You can’t judge a book by its cover

Filed under: Branding,Business,Reno,Sales,Spiritual Activism — by Genie Webster @ 1:35 pm
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Every time I hear the expression “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” I’m reminded of the smart aleck guy in high school who said, “Well then take your cover off!”

You really can’t judge a book by its cover. I learned that when I was selling motorized scooters to handicapped people in their homes. They would see the “Free Scooter” commercial on TV and they would call the 800 number to see if they qualified. Sometimes they got talked into agreeing to see an in-home salesperson who would try to sell them a scooter (hardly anyone qualifies for a free scooter).

I would get my assignments by email every morning and I would load up my van and go. One morning I got an assignment to visit a woman way up in the hills of Northern California… north of Grass Valley in a very rural area (off Jackass Flats Road — I’m not kidding). I could not find my customer’s address. This area was so remote that I did not get any cell phone coverage… so I had to drive until I could pick up a signal.

When I finally got ahold of my customer, she said that she would meet me at a certain juncture in her pick-up truck, and that I should follow her up the mountain, which I did.

As we were driving up the winding mountain road, I was wondering what on earth I was doing driving a van full of power scooters up the mountain to who-knows-where. After what seemed like 20 minutes or so, my customer finally pulled off the road and parked at what looked like a hippie camp. There were piles of lumber and tents and what looked like a construction trailer.

“We’re living in the trailer while we build our home,” explained the customer, who walked with a cane towards the trailer. “We can meet in here.” She had to make room for me to sit down. Her partner (another woman) joined us and I said to myself “Oh dear lord these poor people will never be able to afford this $3000 scooter.”

The woman had been injured in an accident and wanted the scooter to help her get around the property so that she can build their home. I did my job… I showed her the sales pitch… I gave her a demo ride… and I asked for the order, even though I did not have high expectations of a sale.

The woman excused herself, while she and her partner went to the back of the trailer for a private conference. I started packing up my stuff to head back down the mountain. When the woman returned, she had an envelope with $3000 cash.

You can’t judge a book by its cover!

The next day, I received an assignment to visit a woman who lived south of Reno, in Palamino Valley. My GPS sent me up into the mountains, climbing and climbing up Whiskey Springs Road. I could see a huge house up the mountain. “Eureka!” I thought to myself. “People with money,” I assumed.

The closer I got to the house, the more I saw how huge and well-built it was. The property was more like an estate, with multiple buildings and horses and barns.

When I met my prospect, she was a 60ish woman, who walked with a cane. An elderly woman was sitting in a recliner in the living room. “That’s my mother, who lives here with me. I care for her.”

The further I got into the house, the more I saw how things were a wreck… crayon marks on the walls… debris and junk everywhere. I could hear kids running and playing in the background. “Those are my grandchildren,” the woman explained. “My 40-year old daughter and her children live here with me too.”

Her husband was in a nursing home, recovering from a stroke and she was trying to take care of a household of six people while crippled. She wanted to buy a scooter desperately.

When she was turned down for financing, she cried.

You can’t judge a book by its cover!

Whether it’s in sales or any area in life… Do not impose limitations by jumping to the wrong conclusions too soon.

antiquebook

 

 

 

December 15, 2013

The Technology of Success

Success, as I’m using it here, is defined as the self-perception that you are reaching your potential for fulfillment in any given area of your life. Success is defined by what you believe about yourself.

Some people seem to attract success and others resist success by attracting bad luck… why is that?

I’m learning that there is indeed a technology for success. There are a variety of teachers and methods for this technology.

I’ve been studying pieces and parts of the technology of success all my life, but I was missing the glue that put all the pieces together.  A big turning point for me was sparked at my first Out of the Matrix weekend in February 2013. I went to 5 or 6 subsequent Out of the Matrix weekends and learned a lot more about the technology. Not only that, but I did the homework and started seeing some dramatic results.

More specific technology for success is taught in Kabbalah, and using the tools from both technologies has resulted in huge personal breakthroughs for me, which continue to unfold.

If you learn the technology, apply the technology, and stay connected to like-minded teachers and students of the technology, then you can’t not be successful!

There are other technologies as well, but I like these two the best.

Join the mailing list to be kept informed about future Out of the Matrix weekends and events:

 

September 22, 2012

I stood up to a bully and won!

Filed under: Business,Temenos Journal — by Genie Webster @ 7:51 am
Tags: , ,

No Bully Sign

My former employer tried to cheat me out of wages and commissions earned… Long story short… I stood up to him and I did not back down regardless of his intimidation tactics (he is such a bully!). I hung in there and I stood my ground and I won. It took me six months to collect compensation from a bully who has the habit of ripping off salespeople. I won! It’s not the money… it’s the principle, dummy. Oh and p.s… You didn’t know who you were dealing with, did you? It’s… Tenacious G!

August 27, 2012

Business Etiquette 101: What’s Inappropriate?

During the business day, the name of the game is to focus on achieving the company’s goals. Anything that distracts from achieving the company’s goals is probably inappropriate.

If one of the company’s goals is to help foster goodwill and camaraderie among employees, then occasional chit-chat about family activities and how the Browns did last night is certainly appropriate.

How do you know if your chit-chat is inappropriate… or over the line? The easy way to determine whether a topic is appropriate or not is to ask, “Does this kind of talk make anyone uncomfortable?”

Chances are that if your topic is anything about sex or politics…. at least 50% of the people will want to edge away from the conversation.

If you want to talk about what you did with your spouse or date last night… after the lights were out…  chances are pretty good that some people will feel uneasy about participating in the discussion. “Too much information” is one polite way to tell someone, “Dude… I don’t even want to envision that.”

Another thing that makes a whole lot of people uncomfortable is politics. Especially emotionally-laden partisan exclamations by a person in authority. Our nation is pretty evenly divided 50/50 between Democrats and Republicans. So if you proclaim a partisan political opinion, at least 50% of the room is likely to disagree. It’s best to keep business as non-partisan as possible.

If one of the company’s goals is to further the success of one particular political party… then that’s another story. In that case, it’s necessary to talk politics in order to further the company’s agreed-upon goals.

When in doubt… just don’t talk about sex or politics at work.

As far as appropriate business attire… in general, don’t wear flip-flops and don’t dress provocatively or sloppily or too casually. Dress appropriate for your industry, i.e., fashionably if you’re a hairdresser; pocket protector if you’re an engineer.

Keep your eye on the company’s (or the community’s) goals, and everyone wins.

July 7, 2012

Leap! How to think like a dolphin….

I just finished the first chapter of the much-anticipated book by one of my favorite authors Dudley Lynch….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZXCUCacK1A

Leap! How to Think Like a Dolphin, & Do the Right, Smart Thing Come Hell or High Water

http://www.braintechnologies.com/leap.htm

Related: https://temenos2.wordpress.com/2011/06/19/on-the-strategy-of-the-dolphin/

 

July 6, 2012

What matters most….

What matters the most is… Can you turn off the chatter in your head long enough to give your total attention and focus to the present moment?

Because if you cannot do that, then you do not have control over your thoughts.

Uncontrolled thoughts are like static on a recording. Static detracts from the clarity of a recording. So does uncontrolled mind chatter detract from critical thinking and creative spontaneity.

We can improve our ability to control our thoughts by practicing. Athletes practice controlling their thoughts when they get “on their marks” in a race… or when they huddle up in a game.

We learn to focus our minds so that we give our best performance on the job or at our art or craft, or at our sport.

We can also learn to focus our minds in our daily spiritual practice, so that we can be quiet long enough to sense whether we are really on track or not. Our Higher Guidance is most often subtle. There must be quiet to hear the “still small voice.”

Keep your mind’s eye focused on being in your “right” mind, in the present moment…

That’s what seems to be most important in staying peaceful and sane.

Keep your focus on this moment

July 30, 2011

Confessions of a Recovering Angry Feminist

RosieRiveterYes, I admit I am a recovering angry feminist.

I still abhor the patriarchal values that perpetuate a fear-based society, where money buys power and bullies rule.

I still get livid when a woman or child is abused — physically, mentally, or spiritually.

But I have changed my thinking in one major way…

During the 70s and 80s I worked very hard to prove that I could make it in a man’s world. I worked my way up in a nontraditional job in a piping construction firm — from clerical worker to project manager — and learned to wear a hard hat and read a blueprint.

Then I went into my own business. First I went into publishing, which evolved into graphics and printing. I negotiated contracts, raised working capital, and had power lunches with bankers, lawyers, and CEOs. I became a successful, prominent business woman who was often profiled in the press as a role model and a leader.

A big part of my mission was to help pave the way for other aspiring business women. I was a charter member and active leader in the local Women Business Owners Association and I organized a roundtable discussion group of successful business women. We learned how to network and make things happen alongside the good ol’  boys of the Cleveland business community.

We were the women who learned to compete and win in the male-dominated competitive and greed-driven business world. We (or most of us) had become part of the system. Right around the time that George Bush Sr. dropped the first bomb on Iraq… I realized that I no longer wanted to be part of that system. I felt something like ashamed.

That moment of epiphany was the beginning of the decision to leave the business world and become the artist and writer that I was born to be. I did not like what I would have had to become in order to go to the next level of success in business. I did not like playing by the rules that were invented by men in suits. I announced my decision to my friends in my business women’s roundtable and I had their full support.

As I began the process of easing out of business, I gained a new appreciation for what men have been accomplishing for so many centuries. As I slowed down, the numbness caused by the continual onslaught of adrenalin began to subside, and I started to realize how bone-weary I was. I ached from head to toe. My brain was worn out.

I remember thinking, “Men can have this. Running a business is for the birds.” I reflected on all the giant things that men have accomplished… building the railroads, building the bridges, inventing commerce, etc. This is way too much work and you really do need broader shoulders than I have or want.

I just wanted out of the game. It did not feel like defeat, it felt like liberation.

I am still a feminist. That is, I will always work for equal rights for women and girls. Thankfully, there’s not nearly as much work to do now as there was when I was starting out in business. But I am no longer an angry feminist.

I feel compassion for men, not anger. My mission has changed from “making it in a man’s world” to “changing the way we look at the world.” I have many male friends who share the same vision. Men are not our enemy. They are our brothers. The enemy is the patriarchal system, created before our grandparents’ time. The enemy is corporate greed, that holds so many of our men (and women) hostage.

We allow ourselves to look the other way and become numb so that we can provide a certain expected lifestyle for our families. Well, that’s a short-sighted sell-out because we lose our integrity in the process. We lose our health, our peace of mind, our self-respect, and ultimately our souls.

We need to participate more as conscious citizens who can think for ourselves and make up our own minds, instead of coasting along like passive consumers, most of whom are also self-medicating themselves just to be able to withstand the insanity.

As citizens, we need to stay vigilant to keep informed about what the prevailing game is, and to know the rules. If we don’t like the game, we don’t have to play. We can help invent a new game where the object is not necessarily to win — the object is to keep the game going. We need to revisit the rules every so often, so that we can change the rules when they no longer serve our highest collective good.

Yes, the angry feminist has mellowed. Now I am a spiritual activist. I don’t think we can change the world… but I think we can change our hearts. And so my work is to reach peoples’ hearts through my music and my writing and my art. Yes, I believe we can change the world by changing our hearts, one heart at a time. This is about as feminist and feminine as you can get, I think.

 

Related: On the Strategy of the Dolphin

Related: On Spiritual Activism

July 25, 2011

A David & Goliath Tale – No. 1

I’m not afraid to take on the big cats.

The first time I took an unpopular stand against a daunting authority figure was when I was 19 or 20… working for a company called Tube Craft in Cleveland, Ohio.

I was quiet and focused on the job then, just like I am now. I started out as a “shipping clerk.” I learned quickly and soon got promoted to something like a production expeditor (? I don’t remember…). I do remember that the guy who worked side by side with me and who trained me was a tall blonde young man around my age. He was a nice guy, happily married, and we became pals and sometimes went out to lunch together.

The company was expanding and soon there was another guy around our age… a dark-haired shorter Italian guy. This time I was the one who trained him and we all did the same kind of work and became pals and often went out to lunch together.

One day, the tall blonde guy was complaining that he had to ask for a raise. “My wife and I have a baby on the way. We can’t make it on $XX per week.”

I think he was making about 30-40% more than I was.

Now I had been a feminist since the 6th grade when I challenged the recess monitor, Mr. Lehman: “How come the boys get the good kickball field and the girls get the junky one?” It just so happened that when I got home from work that day, the headline in the Plain Dealer said something like “GE (or some other huge corporation) must pay ($ some huge amount) in back wages to female employees in class action pay discrimination lawsuit.” It was a huge victory for feminists who were working to achieve equal pay for equal work at the time.

The next morning, little soft-spoken Genie went in to see the immediate supervisor, Frank Petrovich. I showed him the headlines and asked him “Did you know that it’s illegal not to pay women the same wages for equal work?” Frank was a really nice guy and a great boss. He said, “I was wondering when you would bring that up. I’m sorry but I can’t do anything about it. You’re going to have to take it up with Mr. Wiley (the president of the company).”

Bruce Wiley was ancient, but authoritative and an intimidating figure. Everyone was afraid to talk to Mr. Wiley and I was no exception. Although he did have a soft spot for young girls like me. So when I asked to see him, I was given an appointment.

I brought the Plain Dealer headlines with me. He was friendly and all smiley with his pale complexion and fine white hair and he invited me to have a seat. I sat across from him at his huge shiny desk and I put the newspaper headlines down in front of him. He adjusted his wire-rimmed specs and took a look and his pale face turned a bright shade of pink and his smiley-smiley face went dark.

I bravely asked him, “Mr. Wiley, are you aware that it is illegal to pay women less than men when they are doing the same work?”

He was angry that I would even ask such a question. “Young lady,” (I’ll never forget his words) “In this company we compare the women with the women and the men with the men.”

“I know you do, Mr. Wiley. But now that’s against the law.”

Mr. Wiley was really angry now. “What makes you think you’re worth more than Viola May, or Betty Sadowski?!! I don’t care what the law is! We compare the women with the women and the men with the men here.”

Then I did something that amazes me now. I mustered up all my courage and I said, “With all due respect, Mr. Wiley, this practice is illegal, and I am going to take steps to protect my rights by the law.” (My heart was pounding!)

Mr. Wiley never spoke to me again and I became a pariah in that company. The guys wouldn’t eat lunch with me anymore. The women would avert their eyes. And I was just a sweet young girl!

I think I took a day off to go downtown to fill out a report at the Ohio EEOC. Long story short… I won the case. And Mr. Wiley’s Tube Craft had to pay me all the back pay which was the difference between the guys’ wages and mine. I think that was the first time I took on Goliath and won.

But it wasn’t the last time…

July 1, 2011

The PIA* Quotient

Filed under: Business,Temenos Journal — by Genie Webster @ 2:43 pm
Tags: , , ,

When I was a band leader, I didn’t always choose the most talented musician to be part of any given music project. There are many aspects to consider… musicianship, experience, charisma, reliability, and that hard-to-define aspect which I call the PIA* quotient.

This same aspect is applicable in choosing players for any team… be it a creative team, business team, volunteer team, medical team, etc. etc.

Is the team member needy, always looking for attention? Do they often stir up tension or drama? Do they have a disruptive significant other or other baggage that comes with the package? Do they know how to behave in a professional situation? Do they do their homework? Do they read their emails? Do they require handholding? Do you like to hang out with them? Or… are they a PIA?

Most people can be a PIA now and then… I know I can be one sometimes. That’s where the quotient part of this aspect comes in. On a scale from one to 10, what is a potential team member’s PIA quotient.? Hopefully, with me, it is only a one or a two (sometimes higher, I admit).

If a person is highly qualified otherwise, and their PIA quotient is in the mid-range, like three to six, then they are still coachable (usually). A patient mentor can usually help improve a protegé’s PIA quotient.

However, I have concluded that it is just not worth the price in aggravation and disruption to hire a team member with a high PIA quotient. Not unless there is absolutely no one else available.

*PIA = Pain In the Ass

(c) copyright 2010

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