Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Farewell to Oprah Winfrey Show

If I had but one wish, it would be that a kind person would help me figure out how to use my DVR that has been collecting dust in my entertainment cabinet. (Well of course I'd love to win the lottery but I'm being realistic of my odds).  For those that know me, I don't ask without making attempts to figure out  a solution myself. (Supposedly I need a cable box which I don't subscribe to, that still may be the problem). How I wish I had my old chubby TV with the VHS recorder!

Today is the last day of the Oprah Winfrey show.  While I never taped an Oprah segment, I always watched whenever I was home sick or on a holiday.  Oprah Winfrey is so many things.
She's a powerful media mogul. She's insightful, articulate and most of all, she geuninely helps others. Now I may not have always agreed with her on some social and political issues, but Oprah is a successful, powerful woman willing to share insightful lessons and experiences. Learning from her imparting wisdom is valuable to anyone who wants to grow whether personally and/or professional. It's free advice. Take it!
I dragged up a chair to make myself a "front row seat" but failed to bring the tissues. The segment was not a spirited show of materialistic giveaways.  It was an episode of reflection. It was classic Oprah.

She began by encouraging us, her audience, to follow our passion, to continue believing in our cause. No matter what the cause may be. I knew she meant more than just charity work. It could be a person battling an addiction trying to improve him or herself, coming forward about abuse, learning financial discipline and not overspending and getting into unncessary debt... the list is almost infinite. 

Oprah also reminded us, just as she started her first TV job with no physical audience, "You have a reach, an audience and while your reach may vary in size whether it's 20 people..." or 20 million viewers,  we all have our platform, our own Oprah Winfrey Show.  She's absolutely right. Oprah encouraged us to never stop believing in our cause.

So during the commercial break, I reflected on my cause. Yes my reach is 20 people. But one day it will be 200 million.

 Like a 30 second movie trailer, my mind raced with a montage of my efforts to help voiceless,  homeless animals in my immediate neighborhood. The 20 homeless cats that live outdoors, and thanks to others, they live humanely.  Capture kittens, nurture them and find them homes, create flyers, distribute flyers, talk to neighbors in the hallways and elevators,  capture new cats for spaying/neutering, create a website, recruit volunteers to feed the cats, take cats for shots, ask for donations, keep recruiting volunteers, buy cat food twice a week, capture new friendly cat, ask for donations... my heart is fulfilled. Never have I worked so hard for free and felt so rewarded. I'm on the right path and making a difference.  The cats are smiling, purring and doing their happy feet tap dance. They really do! My heart is smiling.

Next Oprah shared her most valuable lesson-- the energy you emit is the energy you will receive. She made reference to the character that Whoopie Goldberg played as Ms. Sealy in the Color Purple, a black woman abused by her husband who had the courage to finally walk away, even while he threatened her. As Ms. Sealy steps into the car, she turns around and holds out arm and two fingers like a V prong toward his eyes, foretelling her abusive husband that he will receive the same treatment he bore on her.

The next segment after the break was her revelation that no matter if someone is good or bad, struggling or challenged, everyone wants to be VALIDATED.  "Do you see me? Do you hear me?  Everyone wants to be heard. Everyone wants validation." Indeed she is so right.

Oprah recognized her 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Duncan, who was sitting in the audience, as the first person to liberate her.  Allowing Oprah to be herself, to pray in class...

A ridge of tears formed on my lower eyelid. Oprah and I share something in common. It was also my teachers, actually they were nuns, that helped me understand how special I was to God and the world. Specifically it was Sister Phil (short for Philomena), one of the strictest nuns I have known, but I've been told even as an adult (and affirmed in my Meyers Brigg test) that I possess a rare insight.  I knew Sister Phil had a soft spot despite her ruly exterior that fits the Catholic school stereotype. Sister Phil always told us during religion class, that we were each unique. And that God loved us all. It wasn't just our parents telling us we're special, but the strength and wisdom in her eyes shined, I knew God was speaking through her.  She encouraged us not to let peer pressure deflate our self worth or degrade our self worth.  She offered the analogy of when the people who one day praised Jesus in the streets, all turned against him just days later. It was the popular thing to do.  But does it make it right? That story, that analogy stayed with me. Jesus was good a man, with good intentions. He did not deserve to be crucified.  I understood well, despite my shortcomings, that God loved me. While I may not have been popular like my younger, attractive sister, I knew I had something to offer the world and God. And I couldn't wait to fast-forward the teenage years to discover my own talents and gifts and more importantly, how I would make a positive difference.

Thank you Oprah for the memory.

It was no surprise that Oprah repeatedly acknowledged God "HE had a hand in all this," she started. "God is love and life. God is always speaking to us. Sometimes it may be whispers but listen to it. "What's whispering to you now?"  I thank God everyday for my beautiful home, my health, my family, my outdoor companions and the opportunity to serve HIM. The silver lining in my hardships, is that I learned to enjoy the daily, simpler things--the view from my balcony, a homemade meal, the selfless love of homeless creatures.  My life is very fulfilling thanks to God.

Lastly Oprah showed a black and white photo of a young black girl, exposing her belly "Who would have thought a little black girl in rural Mississippi would end up here."  The tears came rushing like a thunderous waterfall.  Why didn't I grab the Kleenex tissues at the last commercial break?!  Indeed anything is possible.  If you ever take my Art Deco walking tour, I talk about the women who contributed to the foundation of Miami (Julia Tuttle), the preservation of Miami Beach's Art Deco buildings (Barbara Capitman), the savior of the Everglades (Marjory Stoneman Douglas), the growth of downtown Miami as a business community (Mary Brickell).  One person can make a difference!

I hope to follow in their footsteps. Whether helping homeless animals, or small business owners, and just following my dream to build my own small business, by lassoing my talents as a marketing professional, writer and activist, I hope to leave the world a little better.

Now where's that darn Samsung DVR manual? Maybe there's a way it will work with my new Samsung flatscreen TV? Anyone? God?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Free Webinar for Female Owned Businesses

As a female entrepreneur and supporter of small business, I wanted to share this important notice to fellow female business owners looking to sell to the U.S. government.

American Express OPEN, in partnership with Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), is offering a free, one-hour tutorial from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday (May 25), to help women business owners participate in, compete for and win federal contracts.

There are about $27 billion in contracts set aside specifically for women business owners and there are as many a 684,000 women-owned businesses that could potentially benefit from the program, American Express OPEN and WIPP said.

The webinar is part of the Give Me 5 Program, a national program created by American Express OPEN and WIPP to help women business owners sell to the U.S. government.

Business owners who are interested in joining the Webinar should visit http://www.wipp.org/, see the Calendar of Events on left hand column, and click on Give Me 5 131: Using your WOSB Certification to Win Contracts.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother's Day at the National Hotel



Every year I look forward to Mother's Day. As busy as we both are where weeks go by without a phone call or email, we know it's a day of quality time. It's always a day around an activity whether it's brunch at a tropical garden or whizzing along murky waters canals in noisy airboat for alligator sight-seeing. Activities of extremes indeed.

Sometimes mom tells me if she has something in mind and her wish is my command. Or if no fanciful notion has caught her attention, then my creative marketing mind kicks in gear.  This year I chose the traditional route with a twist. As an Art Deco-phile (lover of  Art Deco) I invited mom to brunch at the National Hotel.  I absolutely love this hotel for its Art Deco decor, some original, some new installations. Since they announced their Poolside Brunching  I immediately made reservations for Mother's Day.  This was a special treat.

First, since it was close to a record-breaking hot day, we chose to sit indoors with floor to ceiling windows facing their famous 250 foot long rectangular pool.  The National Hotel offered a sumptuous spread and mom and I indulged in three servings.









On a perfect spring day with blue skies minus any clouds, the pool dazzled like a brilliant aquamarine gem. It was quite inviting. The best part is we could "dip" or use the pool as brunch customers, as part of their new promotion.  We came prepared and changed into bathing suits and coverup.





We highly recommend the National Hotel for brunch and a dip into their pool. I loved it so much that I'm starting another Art Deco tour, and I will chauffeur clients during the hot summer months to learn about this Art Deco treasure that was part of Millionaire's row in it hey day! So be sure to take my tour to learn the fascinating stories and complete your visit with great food, pampering pool and bar service, and a slice of history.

Cheers!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Vote for Innovation, Sustainability and Small Business Owner!

Often in news reports we hear how critical small businesses are to the economy.  Growth spurts in this sector are encouraging innovative thinkers to take that leap forward.

A good friend of mine and former colleage, Daniel Lessem, is that entrepreneur mind who recently developed a business plan for a new venture called Urban Forager℠, an energy efficient micro-distributorship of locally grown food from bio-diverse farms in Florida to area chefs.

In March, he entered his plan in The Miami Herald Business Plan Competition and has been selected by leaders of industry as one of 6 finalists out of 222 entries consisting of both pre-existing and start-up phase companies. (I'm not surprised at all!)

To win, Daniel needs your vote!

Please watch his 90 second video clip about Urban Forager℠ and cast your vote! There are two groups or tabs. One is the "Community Track" and the other is the "FIU Track". Daniel's video of Urban Forager is in the "FIU Track".  The site accepts one vote per email address and no other personal info is requested from you. (I'm voting for BLOCK UV in the Community Track). The ballot is located at the bottom of the page below all the video clips.


Here is the link to Daniel's video, learn more about his concept and vote:

http://www.miamiherald.com/businessplanchallenge/vote/

Please forward to friends and associates to view and vote! Your vote can help influence decisions of potential investors to pay attention to new projects in sustainable foodservice.

Voting end 11:59pm on Monday, May 9th.

GOOD LUCK DANIEL!!!