On being real, even if you're famous like Heather Locklear, who I spent the weekend with (sort of)

Last weekend, I had a fabulous experience.
An “aha moment”, as they call it at the incredible Miraval Resort and Spa where we were staying in Tucson, Arizona. (More about the resort in another post.) An “aha moment” is when you have sudden clarity of a thought, an idea, a spark of a dream. Typically, in this blog, I’d relate an “aha moment” to you and your dreams of re-thinking your personal brand, or the clarity to finally go for it and start your business. And that fits.

But in this case, my “aha moment” was about celebrity in today’s culture. Authenticity – being real – is an over-hyped term. But at its core, sincerity is still a quality you can feel in others and you know it in yourself. That brings me back to Heather Locklear. It got me thinking about how hard it must be for her, to - out of necessity - build a shell around her real self just so she can walk through a restaurant, go shopping or just goes for a walk on the beach.

Her appearance the first morning at breakfast, with her also-celebrity friend Jack Wagner (of the Bold and Beautiful), caused a heightened buzz through the room. Next came the staring, pointing. Even in a place where all were supposed to be engaged in finding inner peace. Last week's cover story in People magazine, and subsequently in all of the other gossip magazines, had heightened our collective awareness. But none of us know her.

Natalie Goldberg, of Writing Down the Bones fame, began a speech at a writer’s conference I attended with the words, essentially: “You don’t know me. You think you know me. But you don’t. Don’t come up to me at lunch, and chat and talk. I don’t know you.”

She was, I believe, in a very strong and powerful (off-putting to me at the time, but now I’m wiser and understand) manner telling the crowd that our perception of her as a powerful author and inspirational creative force was all we were entitled to have of her. All we, who did not know her, could and should know. The rest was private.

As I glanced at Heather (aka Kathy, the name she used at the resort) and Jack across the room, I saw a couple having fun like everyone else in the room. I saw an animated, beautiful woman who I felt a connection to just because I’ve grown up watching her on TV. She’s my age. I am cheering her on.

But I don’t know her. I shouldn’t want to know about her personal struggles, splashed across the tabloids with words like depression, anxiety, drug abuse. No, what the “aha moment” taught me first-hand this weekend is that our celebrity culture is dangerous. We don’t know these people. We should applaud their art, their acting, their public personas for which they are handsomely rewarded. As for the real person behind the fame, we need to leave her alone.

The spark, the work and yes, the reward

Successful entrepreneurs. They're inspiring.

Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs is about to launch, and one of the most exciting parts of the book is my ability to introduce you to just some of the amazing entrepreneurs I've been priveledged to meet, interview, laugh with, and share with over the course of my last two decades in business.

Earlier in my career, while working for different advertising agencies, I could spot the entrepreneurial clients the moment the meeting began. It's a special spark, a flame of creativity. A passion. As a marketing executive for several large service companies, I had the privelege of packaging that spark into break-through brands. And at the helm of my own writing business, each time I interview an entrepreneur I smile. It's fun and inspiring.

That's why I've featured 24 real stories in the book, with more being added all the time to my website . Real women with real stories of success. Perhaps you'll find a story there to inspire you, or if you're already an entrepreneur, you'll find yourself reflected in the pages.

What else do all of these entrepreneurs have in common? Hard work, of course. Businesses don't just happen. But they do when entrepreneurs find it within themselves to create a unique brand and bring it to the world. Authentically. With purpose.

Every 60 seconds a woman starts a business. Maybe this is your spark's time?

Are you worried? Turn off the news...

Here's the thing: when you have 24-hour news slots to fill, you have to fill them. And what has proven to draw viewers, more than anything else, is negative, sensationalized news. We all know that - and yet - we all play into it by watching.

Ick. So, yes, the economy is not what we hope. But how many different news segments do we need to hear/watch filled with doom and gloom to get the picture? Housing - whether your area had a bubble or not - has faced record trouble, but in many parts of the country, things are starting to stabilize. At my company, Real Living, we are based in the heart of the heartland - Ohio. And here, like other areas of the country without the extreme highs, buyers are coming back into the market.

You don't really hear about that though. It's doubtful the 24-hour news cycle could sustain interest in stability. That just doesn't sell. So, you'll continue to hear that you better save, that America and Americans are living on borrowed time, that the sky is falling.

So tune out. Tune back into you.

As I write in my book Real You Incorporated, www.RealYouIncorporated.com, the key is to make sure you - and your passions - are in alignment. Is the business you created, want to create or where you work a good fit for the real you? Take some time for introspection and reflection. A time not filled with worry, but with possibility and excitement. Take action if you have financial challenges, but don't stew. That won't change anything.

Make 2008 great for you, no matter the latest news. It all starts with you.

It's true, you know

Gloria Steinem's recent sold-out visit to Comfortable Columbus (Ohio) is just one of the many signs that the collective power of women is becoming more apparent and verbalized. We're beginning to see the new wave of feminism - and it's not feminism as an "F" word. Nope, those pioneers - led by Steinem in the second wave just as Susan B. Anthony and the suffragettes led the first wave - had to be more combative. They were fighting for basic freedoms and rights for women.

Today, we all have the power to assume the place in the world of our own making. And if we all stick together, it will be powerful. And balanced. And, well, fun and real.

Women entrepreneurs are starting businesses of all kinds at an amazing rate. Women make or direct 91 percent of all home buying decisions, 79 percent of all consumer purchases and will control most of the wealth in the U.S. by the middle of this century.

It's exciting, this women ruling thing. But the main point is that the way women rule is different. We share. We care. We love men, too. We just want to do things our way. With support. Let's go!