Archive for the ‘Entrepreneurial Lifestyle’ Category

Can’t sleep…too busy!

In Action, Balance, Entrepreneurial Lifestyle, Resistance on November 17, 2010 at 5:40 pm



2 months ago I was sitting in traffic trying to figure out WHY I was so tired and cranky. The answer?

I have:

2 kids
2 private practices
2 jobs
2 board positions

I was recently sharing my tale of “whoa” to a former housemate who replied, “Sounds like you need to be 2 people.”

And it’s true, I can’t be 2 people.

One of my favorite things to say when community building (which is always) is “One person can not run around and a community be.” And apparently this is also true for a single mom with 2 of everything (except herself).

Back to the basics.
The first step in finding balance, is to understand our limits and boundaries.

Limits are not a bad thing.
Limits signify the outer edges of our capabilities.

Whether it is our ability to tolerate abuse, bullshit or achievement, limits provide a container that helps us to maintain a sense of integrity. (And by integrity, I mean the hull of a ship) Integrity speaks to the perceived continuity of self and if we can carry ourselves throughout a variety of circumstances in a consistent way, we have a more solid base to work from.

And when we bump up against our limits, we hit that moment of resistance.

I was joking during last weeks Work101 meeting that Sheila couldn’t have any resistance because all of it had come to stay with me for a bit.

But, I have maligned resistance. It is not squatting with me. I am just too darn busy to get anything done. In fact I am too busy to even deal with resistance and this may be the point of it all- My resistance to deal with my resistance? …What?… Wait…

You know what? Fuck it.

At some point we have to accept that it doesn’t matter why things are as they are… if they are out of balance, we just have to fix it… and my experience is, that through this process, we will have a better understanding of why.

Let’s see…so that means I now have:
2 kids
2 private practices
1 job
1 board position
2 (almost) free days to work.

SO I guess this means I only have to be 1½ people…
*snark* I can do that…
In my sleep.


Mothering and theWork

In Balance, Collaboration, Entrepreneurial Lifestyle on September 28, 2010 at 5:00 am


...finding our groove...together

Recently a single mother came up to me after I had spoken on a “Women in Leadership” panel, wanting to know how I, as a single mother, balanced the needs of my children with the needs of my growing practice and work.

Well, that is a great question and one that I struggle with everyday.

How do we know?

Sometimes it feels Ike a choice, either them or us. It’s hard and difficult and pushes a lot of the shame and guilt buttons that we were raised with, both in our families and in our culture.

I think even if you have a partner in parenting, there is just nothing like being “the mother”. It is a heavy  trip indeed. Our kids look to us, as the mother, for things that others could not possibly fill.

So how do we know? How do we determine what is “too much”.

For me, the answer to this question lies with my children. But this is also tricky because I know that my children’s one alternating mission in life is to balance their need to individuate from me while simultaneously striving to make me proud of them.

Talk about balance.

Sometimes it feels Ike a tightrope- too much either one way or the other and off I go… Praying there is a net on my way down.

And you know what, there is a net.  It was developed with intention and the fiber of it is constructed by the relational space created through the process of my collaborations.

First and foremost, with my kids and then with my workgroup and then with my community and family.

I guess for me the key to this journey through motherhood and professional creation has been one of integration. Finding the groove wide enough for us all to slide through our lives, in balance, together.



Working Together

In Entrepreneurial Lifestyle, Success, Uncategorized on July 28, 2010 at 6:50 pm


I have witnessed and participated as individuals, communities and organizations have worked together on various projects- Sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn’t.

I have a real relationship with work and working with others.

My first co-worker was my brother.  He and I spent endless hours as kids working on assigned projects around the house.  The summer camp I was blessed to go to as a child was all about cooperation and working together.

I grew up with the concept that we HAVE to depend on those around us if we want to survive.  This idea has held up for me over the years.

For the past 9 years I have lived with 12 other people in a house that needs a lot of work. Although I work alone, I share a multi-use workspace with about 20 others.

From jobs that necessitated working with large bureaucratic agencies like immigration, the legal system, social security and community agencies, to my personal journey through the red tape of the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety and community politics, I have been patching together avenues of communication and collaborative work.

Some collaborations have been successful and some have fallen short.

The main trick to working with others is to listen. I mean really listen and understand what the others in your group are saying.

Sounds simple right?  Well not always.  Sometimes we are so anxious to be heard, so ready to be understood that we lose sight of the opinions and thinking of others.

I have come out of meetings in which not once did I do anything but ask questions and clarify the point of what the others in the room were saying. And in the end I have gotten what I needed.

Information is our friend and the more information we have, the better off we are at understanding exactly how we have to work in order to achieve our goals.

But whatever it is we learn, it will ultimately make the possibility of our success more realistic; because we are just that much closer to understanding the logistics of any given situation. And this allows us the vision too see exactly what we are working with and what we need to do in order to accomplish our goals.

Sometimes we have the urge to charge ahead of ourselves. Pushing the work forward with a sheer act of will. But this process creates a huge amount of resistance. And the energy we have to exert is massive and often beyond what we have the capacity to generate. Either through lack of  internal or external resources, utilizing brute force to move through a given situation just gets us sore muscles and if we are lucky and inch closer to our goals.

The first thing I do is try and get a sense of why others I am working with do not think what I want to achieve can be successful.  This gives me a real sense of how I have to work in order to succeed.

Working with others is not easy but it is very simple.

Here are some steps to working with others effectively:

1.     Listen.  Even if you think you do not like the information that is being shared take it in.

2.     Ask a lot of questions. Make sure that when you leave, you know what those you were talking to are saying.

3.     WAIT for the answers.

4.     Do not be overly concerned with being understood.

5.     Even if you have the opportunity to correct someone or point out the paradox of what they are saying…hold your tongue.

6.     If there are more than a few people in the room, look at the people who are not talking.

7.     Before you leave, have a real sense of what your personal action items are.


MFT, Life-Strategist, Co-Creator theWork101

theWork101. All grown up: A blogs fate hangs in the balance….

In Entrepreneurial Lifestyle on July 20, 2010 at 10:52 pm

Lately I have been pondering on the fate of theWork101 blog.

The blog has represented the collaborative work of our group. It has been a reflection, not of our personal work, but of our collaborative work together. It has been a looking glass into the process of collaboration-our collaboration. But as our own individual projects come more sharply into focus, we have less and less time to reflect on the process, outside of the time to do it.

And beyond this, theWork101 has become such a huge part of how we work (and approach life in general), that we have folded it into the substance of how we function. Collaboration has been our guiding principal and when we find ourselves individually or as a group faltering, we have, time and time again, fallen back on the process of our collaboration to see us through.

So as the very fact of the collaboration recedes into the background and our work rightfully steps into center stage, where does this leave the blog?

For a minute I considered the possibility of beginning something new. But when I checked in with my cohort, we all felt resistance to letting it go… letting it drift into the cyber abyss. But the reality is that, as we have internalized the process of collaborations, we have outgrown the enthusiasm of thework101 blog.


theWork101 has become  a functioning part of the way we work, a comfortable background hum, feeding the fires of our own individual work.  The work101 has become a core value for us- for the way we conduct our lives and our work.

But the time to devote to understanding and deconstructing the experience and process of our collaboration diminishes as our individual work demands more space,

And there lies the answer. Collaboration is a part of the work we all do. It represents the vehicle we use to move forward. Although a given for us…still a function of the work we do. So I guess the blog stays. And we continue to write and share and deconstruct and represent.

theWork101 has grown up. And just as we all mature, we lose the wonderment of what once was new, but is now assumed.


theWork101: Collaboration in development

theWork101.:Collaboration in Action


MFT, Life-Strategist, Co-Creator theWork101

What is theWork101?

In Entrepreneurial Lifestyle on July 9, 2010 at 9:34 pm

It is interesting, in many respects, theWork101 has become my work.

theWork101 is the work of entrepreneurs: the work of dreamers and creators. It is the work of those who are looking to effect real change in their lives… and this is my work.

It is both my personal work and my professional work.

I am a people person.  A community builder.  A therapist.  Coach and facilitator.

I am deeply committed to the process of collaboration.

It.  Is.  Aliiive…

About 2 years ago, I decided to leave the non-profit world I was so committed to and begin a private practice. This was not an easy decision. Until then, I had been able to eek out a living doing what I love to do in various agencies focused on providing assistance to a very disenfranchised population of individuals. But as the recession hit and contracts and budgets began to get slashed, it was clear that my run of stitching together part-time jobs that would afford me the flexibility I needed as a single mother, were numbered.

Standing in the kitchen of my home, I was talking with a housemate of mine who was also looking at beginning to hustle up some work for herself.  Very quickly we were joined by a third and then a few months later a fourth-and this was the core of theWork101 .


We created a container for the group: a container that was managed and defined by the process of our collaboration.

It grows…

The energy of sitting together in this intentional and collaborative way was initially wholly engaging. As we tasted the power of our created space, we got wrapped up in the pedagogy we were creating for ourselves. The transformative value of it was impossible to turn away from. This blog was born of this.

It goes to college…

It is from our efforts to understand our collaboration that we learned how to better understand ourselves. Our individual work came more sharply into focus and necessarily began to be the focus of our time and energy. We were growing up. Our work was maturing.

In the end, we all begin to embody the principals and process of collaboration. Sheila thru film production, Kaye through relationships, Elizabeth thru art and community action.. and me?

Well I am all about collaboration… in every aspect of our lives. From dealing with the tasks of daily living, to the projects of daily work. From home life to work. Collaboration is key.

Collaborative therapy

Collaborative parenting

Collaborative living

Collaborative work

Collaborative community building.

Collaborative relationships

This is my Work and my Work101.


MFT, Life-Strategist, Co-Creator theWork101

Trust vs. Contracts

In Entrepreneurial Lifestyle, signature work style on September 3, 2009 at 1:42 am


As a culture, we just do not seem to know what to do with trust. In fact, we are so consumed with it, that it seems we have created a whole legal system dedicated to the pursuit of it. It is a big, I mean a BIG issue for us all; from the personal to the political.
I find it ironic that the word trust has in and of itself been co-opted by the legal sector. A trust is a kind of contract, a trustee someone who protects and ensures the contract is carried out. We could go on and on. If you just google search the word trust you get a hodgepodge of legal, business and personal definitions of trust. This is because without some level of trust, you can not achieve anything in collaboration with others or, for that matter, self.
I am not a lawyer and my understanding of legal terminology is basic, at best, however I believe this is why we have contracts, right? . . .in order to ensure trust. There is an assumption that we need a contract in order for trust to be assumed. From the offset we are taught that in order to really move ahead, we need a written agreement. I am not saying that contracts are not necessary, the complexity of some agreements are intense and the need for clarity certain, however I believe a contract does not ensure trust.

“An agreement is only as good as the paper it Is written on”

One of the cornerstones of trust is accountability. And one major ways that a contract works in against building trust, is that it has the capacity to stunt accountability. Because instead of being accountable to self and other, we become wholly accountable to the terms of the contract and I have learned, as we all have, that there is always a loophole, a way around the terms laid down in a contract.

This is why it is such a relief to work in collaboration with others. Because there is space built into the relationship for accountability and for trust. Heck the whole thing revolves around accountability without judgment. When working collaboratively, you get what you put into it and this is what determines what you get out of it. It is not just agreed upon terms and contractual obligations, it is the reality that the product you produce will be a reflection of what all of us contribute.

A contract and the necessity for one is weighted against, potential for loss, not gain. It is about protecting our resources and interests. In our Work101 groups and the work we do together, there is very little potential for loss, only gain. When we find ourselves feeling slighted or cheated, through discussion and accountability to self and the group, we come to realize that often these feelings come back to miscommunications fueled by personal issues. The space created by working collaboratively allows us the clarity to see ourselves in relationship to the other sitting next to us.

When we work collaboratively the assumption of trust is the contact … no paper needed here.

Dena Plotkin

MFT, Life-Strategist, Co-Creator THE WORK 101

Working in a Bubble?

In Entrepreneurial Lifestyle on June 26, 2009 at 9:19 pm


As a coach, I have worked in a kind of isolation.  Like therapists, and many other individual service professionals, I have clients who come to see me.  But at the end of the day all my paperwork, billing, filing, and hum-drum work is done alone. There isn’t the built in benefit of being able to lean over a cubical wall when I need a break.  There is no office politics, but there ‘s also no comrades to share with when a difficult client comes in, or when I slam dunk a new solution. There is no mentor to show you the ropes, or ask for an outside opinion when you get stuck.

As a beginning entrepreneur, I spent years bootstrapping, trying to juggle marketing, finances, strategies, events, and continuing education around temp jobs, part-time jobs, odd jobs, and shoe-string budgets. I’d get lost in the myriad of details.  And by the end of two years, I wasn’t making much progress. Actually, it wasn’t until I sat down with three other entrepreneurs; Dena, Sheila, and Elizabeth that things took shape, and took off. Suddenly, I had the best of all worlds; focus, collaboration, mentoring, water-cooler talk, and field trips to the spa or the beach, while actually getting work done. As one of the founders of Blanks Spaces puts it – just because you’re working for yourself, doesn’t mean you have to work alone. Shared work space, combined with focused Work Groups takes things that much further.

Kaye Porter
Professional Speaker & Educator, Co-Creator of THE WORK 101

“Work for yourself, not by yourself” -Blankspaces.

In Entrepreneurial Lifestyle on June 24, 2009 at 1:00 am


The concept and practice of collaborative work has played a central role in my life. So when Sheila brought this quote to my attention, I immediately got excited.

I was taught that work was something you did to get ahead in life. Work to do your chores so that you can have a nice house. Work at school to get a better job. Work at your work so you can make money. It was a job and a job was work. It wasn’t until my work outgrew my job that I began to actively engage the idea of being self-employed.

The schedule, the freedom, the satisfaction, the endless opportunity are just a few reasons why I love working for myself. However, it also presents a hundred different challenges too. I had tons of vision, but struggled with my focus.  When I had my focus, I struggled with organization. And this is where my work met the collaborative process: in this frustrating, cluttered workspace that was my head at the time.

Sharing a workspace, and eventually our work, with each other, seemed the natural process for all of us. However, very quickly we realized the space we had created was a powerful one.

If I have learned nothing else in life, I have come to understand that whatever energy I put into a task reflects almost exactly what I get back.  If I had any doubt of this before I quit my last job, my experience with self employment has wiped it away. (I know why I didn’t get the clients – I did not make the calls.)

The primary focus of the group has always been our work and although we all do very different things, we had our Work and the intense desire to succeed in common. The group became a magnifying glass, my energy plus… plus Sheila, plus Kaye, plus Elizabeth. And I began to get that energy back.

Our group has become an invaluable resource and a transforming experience. Through our common commitment to being self employed, we have been able to reach our individual goals and complete tasks that seemed insurmountable in the past.

Work for yourself, not by yourself. Tap into a community of like-minded individuals and in the process receive better definition, focus and balance for yourself.

Dena Plotkin

MFT, Life-Coach, Co-Creator of The Work 101

“Work for yourself, not by yourself” – Blankspaces.

In Entrepreneurial Lifestyle on June 23, 2009 at 1:42 am
The Work 101

The Work 101

This quote resonated for me because I enjoy being an entrepreneur.  I also understand that everything has an up side, and a down side.  As much as I love the solitude of me and my computer, I also know that my view is limited, and I can get stuck.  This is where collaborative relationships come in.  Someone asked how entrepreneurs will survive the “downturn.”  The response was “Innovate, partner, connect, and give…give…give back.  Only when we look to collaborate will true opportunities arise.”

I’ve been that entrepreneur-in-a-bubble.   Then, I decided to change my approach to business and started a focus group with my office mates.  This group was born out of pure drive and desire to break through all obstacles that face us – including ourselves – to help each other thrive in this shifting economy, to successfully do the work we love!  We each have unique goals.  Yet we have assisted each other in ways we never could have imagined and ultimately moved our projects to completion.  This has been an amazing transformation for my business, and my life – a process I’d like to share.  I invite you to collaborate and discuss your insights.

Sheila Hardy

Filmmaker, Co-Creator, The Work 101