Author Archive

Guilt over biz travel is unnecessary baggage – pt.2

Posted by at 25 June, 2009, 11:26 am

If a girlfriend told you she was feeling guilty about not feeling guilty, the two of you would share a good laugh, wouldn’t you?  Still, there are plenty of working moms falling into the same strange scenario – they’re not agnst-ridden, with hearts broken and hair pulled out, because of the time they spend away from their kids at work or on business trips – yet maternal guilt never fails to whispers in their ears, “don’t enjoy yourself too much!”

This nonesense is completely self-inflicted, but so subtle, and lightening fast, we don’t even realize it.   Besides just staying alert to it, other effective ways to stop, or at least muffle, the mommy guilt are all rooted in a good amount of high quality alone time with yourself.

Most of us, myself included until three years ago, don’t really take the time to figure out what success means to us.  For me, it was going to college, finding a good job, getting my MBA, landing another good job, and racing up the corporate ladder.  That’s what everyone around me was doing – people I loved, admired, and trusted - and it made sense to me.  I never gave it much more thought than that, nor was I particularly unhappy.  Instead, I think I was pretty much asleep at the wheel.  That is, until I started looking at the people at the top of that ladder and realizing I didn’t want the life they had.  I didn’t want to be on my blackberry during every family vacation, or helping my kids with their home work over the phone, from my office late at night.  I also didn’t want to have to pay attention to the office politics or not speak my truth for fear of losing my job – and my big paycheck.  Once I defined what success meant to me, and only me, then I became 100% more comfortable with the choices I made about my career and family. 

My choice is only mine.  There are other women who want the career I was chasing, and who view it much differently than I do.  I truly support them 100%, too.  It doesn’t matter what I think, what our mothers or co-workers think, etc.  We can put mommy guilt to rest, and get on that next plane with delight, when we know at a soul-level what we’re doing and why.

What’s your definition of success?  What choices do you make to support it, or perhaps, not?

Posted by momprenuer Phaedra Cucina, author of the children’s book, My Mommy’s on a Business Trip.

Category : Travel

Guilt over biz trips is unneccessary baggage!

Posted by at 25 June, 2009, 7:07 am

What an honor to be invited to speak with the mompreuner community today!  What a pleasure to spend the day with the smart, dynamic women who are a major force in our economy… all while raising happy, healthy kids!

Today, we’re talking about an almost inevitable part of doing business today – business travel.  After writing my children’s book, My Mommy’s on a Business Trip, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with tons of moms, road warriors and those who just travel occasionally, who are wracked with guilt about leaving their kids behind and heading for the airport.  Some feel guilty about the time away, and some feel guilty that they are actually looking forward to the trip!

I believe your time away is GOOD for your kids, the person left behind to care for them, and you.  We’ll talk a lot about this today, as well as stories about our trips – the good and bad.  Let’s share the sad stories to offer support to one another and our tips and tricks to help the next trips go much better.   Let’s also talk about the upside – what we love about our trips  how we make the most of them.  One of my favorite parts of business travel is the moment when I walk in the door after a trip and hear that delightful, high pitched yell of  “Mommy!”  Then 40 pounds comes rushing into my arms and I get a big squeeze around my neck.  I can’t think of many things better than that!

Where do you find your self on the Mommy Guilt Meter – guilty about having to go on the trip, or guilty that you’re happy about going?  Why?

Posted by momprenuer, Phaedra Cucina, author of the children’s book, My Mommy’s on a Business Trip.

Category : Travel

Desperate times call for…smart measures

Posted by at 13 March, 2009, 8:04 am

I don’t know about you, but I have had it up to here with hearing how tough the economy is and how sucky the job market is in return. It’s a fact. Can we move on now? Because dwelling and moping gets us nowhere.

It is time to stop moaning about why your resume is getting no clicks and your emails are not getting responded to. It is time to be smart. Let me share this story with you. As a freelance writer I get a lot of work from my current client base. But I also find work on craigslist, mediabistro, morning coffee and other job boards. I am also always on the look out for new places to find jobs and often click on links within sites because you never know. The other day I saw a posting for a full-time job but thought perhaps they might be open to working remotely. But when I went to the link it was a placement agency and they wanted me to spend like an hour filling out this ridiculous questionnaire. I knew that would not be a good use of my time so I did some digging, found the hiring manager and emailed her my questions directly. She was out of the office so I got an auto-response directing me to another person. So I emailed her. Well, she got back to me immediately and said the position was not open to working remotely and the salary was below my ask. But, she did have a freelance position open elsewhere and she wanted to put me in for it.

So not only did I not have to waste my time filling out all the online forms (only to find out the job would not have fit my criteria), she directly submitted me to her client. I am still waiting to hear, but regardless, I made a connection and now have someone who will continue to look for me. And it was all because I decided to be smart and direct and take a chance. So go out there, be positive and be direct. Now more than ever, you need to take a chance to get noticed. Who can disagree with that?!

Category : Freelancing | Networking

If it Ain’t Broke…

Posted by at 4 March, 2009, 12:19 pm

As a freelance writer, I am always looking for my next gig. From networking to checking websites, this is practically a full-time job in itself. It is also overwhelming and exhausting. You always feel like there is more you can do, more places you should be listing your resume, more sites you should be trolling for jobs. And in my haste, I have gone to sites and spent hours uploading my work only to find out that potential clients offer what isn’t even minimum wage for most of the jobs they post. This is my own fault because I should have done my due diligence in the first place and even though a site may have been recommended to me, I should have perused to see what the pay was before wasting all that time. The bottom line is there are sites that pay off for me and I need to continue to know that they will pay dividends.

And you should do the same. I know that I command a pretty penny for my services. I have 15 years experience doing Marketing and Copywriting so where I might look for a job, is vastly different from where a newbie might look. And when I went freelance, I did adjust my rate and take things that paid less because I needed to build up my portfolio. This has helped me get work I might not have gotten before so it was worth it to work for a little less. But you also need to understand your value and have confidence in what you do. If you keep settling and working for pennies, you will never get back to where you deserve to be.

So don’t waste time trying all these new things and stressing over your next gig. Use what worked in the past for you and trust that it will again. Have faith in yourself, write everyday – a blog post, an email, a letter – anything to keep the juices flowing. If you write it, they will come.

Category : Freelancing

Taking Responsibility

Posted by at 12 February, 2009, 8:33 am

As I was coming back from my walk/run this morning, I saw a few people staring into the sky. I couldn’t imagine what had them so enthralled until I looked up and saw the biggest, most beautiful rainbow arcing across the sky. Now rainbows are hard to come by in general, but in NY they are almost unheard of, so this was truly a site to behold.

Heading home, I thought about how, if I had not gotten up to exercise I would never have seen this rainbow. But for the past few months, a friend and I have been meeting 3 mornings a week at 6:30am to walk. Now before you stop reading and think, “oh she’s one of those people,” let me assure you I am not. I enjoy exercise but I also enjoy sleep and like many of us, I had gotten into a rut with my life where I was not working out enough and the scale began to show it. Weight for me, like many women, has been a battle my entire life. I yo-yo dieted, gaining and losing the same 30 pounds for years. It was not until I had my son 3 years ago that it became less about weight and more about health and fitness. Luckily, despite my extra pounds, I have always been a healthy eater, have low cholesterol and low blood pressure. But having my son made me want to be more active, to live life with him and be truly happy with myself. So I started to play tennis again and watched what I ate. But this article is not about weight, it is about responsibility. I finally said to myself, it is time, I am the only one responsible for putting food in my mouth and making my body move. No one can do it for me and all the busy mom excuses in the world will not change that.

The same goes for writing. When I embarked on my freelance career, I knew I would have to work twice as hard to get jobs, network my butt off and just be out there all day, every day. I had to take responsibility for not only finding work, but delivering it on time, pleasing my clients and not procrastinating. I realized I could spend all this time surfing the web, reading blogs, twittering, reading Facebook, etc. but in that time, I could also be writing. Because even if I did not have a client at the time, the sheer act of writing was what I needed to keep the juices flowing and just remind me why I do this in the first place. And I find that when I help friends who need content for their website, or a write a letter for someone, or re-do their resume, even though they don’t pay me, inevitably a paying gig walks through the door during or immediately after. Maybe it is karma. Maybe it is just coincidence. But I think it is because I am making my own destiny, so to speak. By taking responsibility, I am making things happen. And you can too.

Category : Mompreneur Stories

Get to know Writer Mom. You might learn something. And I’m funny. Really.

Posted by at 9 February, 2009, 10:40 am

So this being my first post, I will give you some background before I get down to the task at hand in future posts – writing. I spent 14 years in Entertainment, mostly doing marketing for major cable networks. It was not nearly as glamorous as it sounds, though I did spend many a night in a luxury hotel and ate many fine meals. But the hours were terrible, the pay more so, and frankly, I always wanted to write.

I’ve written some screenplays, one which even was an award-finalist, had some published articles and just always found that the written word came very easily to me. I am that person who writes letters of complaint and gets free repairs, plane tickets or new products. I always appreciated the power of words.

After the birth of my son, I was working 4 days in the office and one from home. This was wonderful until they changed my role from Copywriter to Marketing Manager. There went my creative outlet. Instead of crafting programming descriptions and content, I was trying to work as an advocate for the network. Bo-ring! Hated it. Took another job as a Marketing Director where I thought I would have more creative control. Yeah, not so fast. And they wanted me in the office 5 days. That lasted 7 months.
When that job did not work out, I knew it was now or never. I could try and go freelance as a writer and enjoy quality time with my son, or I could continue on the path to misery. You can see where the story leads. Over a year and a half later I am still freelancing and have never been happier. Not only do I get to pick the projects I work on, they are diverse and short-lived. If I don’t like the client or the content, I know there is an end in sight. Though, honestly, that rarely happens, because like I said, I get to choose who I work for.

Plus I also get to spend time on my other passion – Baby Fish Mouth. This is my infant and toddler t-shirt company that takes famous movie lines and puts a “baby” spin on them. A friend from college and I launched this in 2007. I love being able to create something that people like and coming up with the slogans and writing the content fuel my creative fire.

All this goes back to creativity. All of us have it, we just need to tap into it. And we have to be ready and at the right time in our lives to do it. I could never have gone freelance  before I had children. Giving birth and being a Mom has given me this sense of self and blistering confidence that allows me to speak with authority to my clients and charge the rates I do. If I can raise a child and get him to eat broccoli, I can certainly talk to the CEO of a company about his website content. Not even on the same level.

Plus my desire to be home fuels me in ways I never could have predicted. I also work about 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, but it is such a different type of work than being in an office. I make my own schedule. Work when I want and know what I need to do to get things done. Hmm, I think I am an adult. How did that happen?

Ok, so enough about me. Future posts will feature advice, stories, information and general BS about writing, working from home and that kind of stuff. You know what I mean. We’re buds already, I can tell. I promise to offer some value all the time and a lot of humor. Sometimes more of one and less of another.

So go find your passion, fuel your creativity and find your sense of worth. If you don’t, no one will do it for you.

Category : Blogger Introductions

You CAN teach an old dog new tricks…

Posted by at 20 June, 2008, 11:41 pm

I was posting on another thread about my day yesterday – it was pretty exciting. But I realized that 3/4 of the things that happened yesterday were a direct result of being on the Mompreneurs Online board – had I not I joined Mompreneurs, these events in my day yesterday probably would not have happened.

1) We had 5 web sales – all from different places. Due to all the PR we are doing. Before Mompreneurs, my PR was limited to local papers, and places where we were performing.

2) We were contacted by a wholesaler in Canada. Before Mompreneurs, I didn’t know what a wholesler was, and never dreamed we would be getting requests for orders in Canada!

3) We got a dropshipper acct set up in California. Before Mompreneurs, never heard of Drop Shipping. Still figuring it all out too, with everyone’s help here. Thanks!!!

4) We got a great review from another product review blogger site. (Parents With Style ) Before Mompreneurs, I had never heard of a Product Review blog.

5) We were contacted by a national magazine!! (More on that later,when it happens, but WOWEEE!!!!) Before Mompreneurs, I didn’t have the slightest idea how to approach a national magazine, and I always thought it had to be a BIG company to get national press. I’ve learned so much and gotten the information necessary to feel very comfortable approaching any magazine. Extra big thanks to El and Pat for giving me so much guidance!

6) I was able to hold an intelligent conversation about SEO, page rankings, and metatags. That sentence would not have been spoken from my lips 6 months ago. I owe all that to fellow Mompreneurs, Holly, Jill, Amber, Amy and Lisa (and anyone else I am forgetting…) Thanks Gals!! You would have been proud of your humble student And, I have found an amazing community of great women here that I consider my teachers and my friends. Thanks, El and Pat for providing the Mompreneurs board, and thanks fellow mompreneurs for making this journey a great one!!

The other cool things that happened yesterday, – un-Mompreneur related – we booked a House Concert, and we also took a part time job putting together a choir for a nearby church.

I needed to do something for my spirit – I visited my blind 91 year old friend, Reverend Wills, lovingly known around here as “the broom man,” at his new home – a nursing home. :( We were able to find a piano and sing some songs. Several residents wheeled themselves in to the little room and sang along or listened. I’m going to go again next week. THAT fills my soul. And at the end of the day those are the things that matter.

Category : Success Stories

So Many Hats!!

Posted by at 30 May, 2008, 6:52 pm

Mercy me, how many hats do we need to wear as mompreneurs? Sometimes I feel like I am in a complete whirlwind – and not because it is tornado season either…we just need to wear so many hats!!

Every day for the past couple of weeks has been different – every hat is out of the closet and piled up in the middle of my office floor. It’s a mess.
- Booking agent hat: Need to get a contract off for a performance, (have to find the right contract) and solidify some other performances.
- PR hat: Have magazines, mastheads and product review blog lists all over my desk. Need to write a Press Release that has to get done ASAP. Like everything else.
- Distributor/Shipper hat: Need to ship off product to several music reviewers at magazines -bubble wrap is being joyfully popped and pranced upon by my 7 year old son as I am typing.
-Performer hat: We sang at a private event Friday eve, a lovely winery Saturday eve and an out of town church service Sunday morn. I LOVE THIS HAT. Next to my Mommy hat, this is my favorite. We’ll be singing at the College World Series Opening Day and just learned we’ll be singing for the US Olympic Swim Trials!
-Record Label hat: Just got all our info on how to submit for the Grammy’s. I’m new to the Academy, so…its all a blur. Contacted a Grammy governor, have three pages of notes – in the middle of my office floor, with all the other hats.
-Vendor hat – sold products at all these events, and am regularly contacting stores and distributors.
-Advisor hat: Helped a client pick out music for an upcoming event. Need to learn two new songs by next Friday.
- Student hat: Spent time on the phone with fellow Mompreneur, beautiful Diana (Dee) Ennen, who is truly one of my mentors. She really helped me get focused today. Helped me pick an outfit to go with a few of those hats, so to speak. ;)
- Mommy hat: My most prized hat!! Son has watched the Looney Tunes DVD so many times this week, he has it memorized. He’s pretending to be the road runner, and running through the piles on my office floor. We’re all getting cabin fever. Need to go swimming with my family – as soon as I’m done with work.

Tomorrow is Saturday. I am not going to work. I am going to clean my office. I will find some space for everyone of these beautiful hats that I truly cherish, and organize them on a shelf.

‘Til Monday.

Category : Meeting Goals | Mompreneur Stories | Organization

Tradeshow 101: Your Booth

Posted by at 21 April, 2008, 8:51 am

Ok, so you’ve decided to do the show. NOW what?!?! There are two important things to do prior to the show.

1) Map out your booth, the design, the function, your needs, essentially how you will get the most of out of the booth

2) Make it known that you are going to be at the show.


This is a huge expense but the good thing is that you usually only need to make the investment the first year. My opinion is to keep it simple and clean. Don’t overcrowd your booth. You want to carry a consistent look and feel so create a booth that is a reflection of your company logo or packaging. You will need a few basic elements to pull this off;


I was lucky to have use of a pop-up display. But you can easily have a large banner made with your company logo to hang along the back of the booth.


I used a table with sides to demo the Color Bug and then had a Shipper full of product. That was it. I printed off graphics to cover the edges of the table and to place at the top of the shipper to reinforce the brand. Shippers are a great way to display the product on a piece of furniture that is light weight to ship.


I prefer to use a tall bistro table. You don’t need anything large and it’s nice to be able to stand and use the table. You should NEVER sit while working at the show so using tall barstools allows you to rest a little during slow periods but you are still at eye level. I have rented these items but could have also gone to Target, purchased them and thrown them out cheaper than what I paid. Unfortunately, doing a show in NYC makes it difficult to be able to do that. This year, I will most likely purchase all of my furnishings and just ship them back and forth.


Most shows (even the craft shows) do not include carpeting. You are required to cover the floor in your booth. I have rented my carpet but am looking into another option. This site gives you an idea of the options: but I’m not promoting them based on the pricing this is something to look into. Again, unless you have some type of 10 X 10 remnant, I would bite the bullet and rent for the first year.


I feel that lighting makes a huge difference in gain attention as you walk down the aisle. There are numerous tradeshow lighting units but you can also find many creative options around your house or from the local hardware store. It doesn’t have to be fancy just so it highlights your backdrop and/or products. Keep in mind, electricity is another extra cost in the show. Your booth comes with NOTHING except a drape in the back and on the sides to designate your area.


Those are the basic elements you need to think about to set up your booth. The next things we need to discuss are the things you need WITHIN the booth for a successful show. And then we will get to the marketing piece.

“Bigness comes from doing many small things well. Individually, they are not very dramatic transactions. Together though, they add up.” Edward S. Finkelstein

Gwen Austin, RC Art Toys, Inventor of the Color Bug

Category : Tradeshows

The journey on the way to our dream

Posted by at 13 April, 2008, 2:52 pm

To stay motivated, I try to surround myself with messages and stories of inspiration.? (and of course a dose of Donny)? I recently read a story of a woman that spent 35 years planting 50,000 bulbs on 5 acres in the mountains one by one? What she created is a breathtaking view on an obscure mountain top. I would imagine that many people would think she was crazy. Haven’t each of us experienced that along our path?? What one can learn from her is the importance of moving toward your goal, even if it seems overwhelming at times. I think so many people want the finished product right now and if it doesn’t happen then they give up. We need to remember the journey is just as important as the destination. Make small goals and celebrate each of those goals along the way. So sit down right now and make a list of small goals you can commit to. Those goals can be as easy as compiling a weekly to-do list, hanging it in clear view and checking off at least one thing a day.

Another helpful way of making you stay on schedule is to commit to events that are scheduled ie craft shows, holiday shows, tradeshows. Many of the holiday shows are already taking applications for the November shows so start looking now. During my initial start up stage, I made a commitment to attend the FAO Toy Auditions to give myself a date to have my prototype completed. They are conducting them again this year .? It’s a GREAT way to get feedback from the industry. My second commitment was for the Toy Fair in NYC. Next year the show will be held Feb 15-18, 2009 but you need to start applying for space now. The bottom line is to create deadlines and commitments that don’t give you the ability to back-out.? It’s easy for each of us to put something off until tomorrow but when you know outside sources are relying on you, it makes you accountable.

Each one of these small goals will eventually lead you to your final destination…..if, in fact, there ever is a “final” destination. In the end, the days and years will pass one way or another so you can either sit back and enjoy the view you’ve created or live with the regret of the time wasted not pursuing your dream.

All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them Walt Disney?

Category : Meeting Goals | Mompreneur Stories | Organization