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Friday, August 01, 2008

Lipstick Leadership: "Thank You!" - Michelle Yozzo Drake

Thanks to everyone who participated in "Lipstick Leadership Week". Here's hoping this is the first of many!

For more of "Mom's Wisdom" to apply in your workplace for success, check out my new book "From the Kitchen to the Corner Office: Mom's Wisdom on Leadership" available in local bookstores and online at BarnesAndNoble.com!

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Shalini and Friendship

Sometimes you find friends in the most unlikely of places. That's the conclusion Shalini and I came to the other day on the phone. It was funny to think about my relationship with her and how she never thought that she would be friends with someone who lives in Connecticut, runs a company and has a family!

Ain't life funny! But, there is power in unlikely friendships like ours.

"I think my most powerful relationships have been making allies with people who are unlikely friends," Shalini says. "Who else makes us think out of our box? Befriending someone that has different views is an opportunity for us to move to some greater understanding because we all share some common values; it's just that we have different approaches."

So today, let's get out of our comfort zones and make a new friend today!

Find out more about Shalini at OurVoicesInMedia.com

For FREE tips on advancing your career and navigating the workplace, sign up for my FREE e-zine "Lipstick Leadership" at LipstickLeadership.com today! And check out the products I've developed to guide you toward the success you deserve!

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What Films Inspire Shalini?

As Shalini's mentor, I get to chat with her about both business and pleasure. During one of our recent sessions, we finished up with the business talk and moved onto the fun stuff.

As someone who creates films that are so inspirational, I was intrigued as to what films SHE draws inspiration from.

"I love movies about someone who discovers their calling. I like films like Whale Rider, The Matrix or Star Wars: The First Trilogy, because they're about someone who comes to care and comes to realize who they really are... and I think that’s really powerful," Shalini explained. "I’m really excited about this new trend of socially conscious films in Hollywood, films like The Constant Gardener, Syriana or Good Night and Good Luck, which really help us examine the world in a new way.

I also like films like Children of Men because they create this haunting future, and I love the near future as a time period and when filmmakers depict a frightening, terrifying world that we’re heading towards unless we change our ways."

Shalini's own film A Drop of Life is set in the near future and is the story of two women whose disparate lives intersect when they are both confronted with lack of access to clean water. Maybe filmmakers like Shalini will provide the world with the wakeup call we need to make serious changes and preserve our planet, ourselves and our way of life.

For more on Shalini, go to OurVoicesInMedia.com

For FREE tips on advancing your career and navigating the workplace, sign up for my FREE e-zine "Lipstick Leadership" at LipstickLeadership.com today! And check out the products I've developed to guide you toward the success you deserve!

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Shalini Kantayya Competes in FOX's ON THE LOT

I am sitting in my living room, getting ready to watch a young woman whom I have mentored for the past 2 years take the first step toward realizing her dream of directing feature films with a social message.

When Shalini Kantayya first told me that she was thinking about submitting her film to a new reality show called "On the Lot" - launched by Steven Spielberg, Mark Burnett and DreamWorks - I asked her: "What is there to think about? Just do it!"

Don't you know...SHE DID!!!

When I first met Shalini Kantayya, she was screening her film A Drop of Life at a women's leadership retreat in Texas. Utne Magazine sponsored Shalini's film screening at their Revolutionary Women Retreat in Austin, TX. Kathy LeMay (CEO of Raising Change) and I met Shalini for all of three minutes at that retreat, and we immediately knew that there was something special about Shalini and her work. We knew that we could really help Shalini get her message out there on a very large scale.

I began mentoring Shalini within a few weeks of the retreat. When Shalini asked Kathy and I to sit on the Board of Directors for 7th Empire Media - Shalini's production company - we were both happy to be a part of Shalini's dream. Over the past few years, I have become very close to this amazing young filmmaker. I am happy to share some of what I know about Shalini and her favorite causes with you through my new blog "Our Voices in Media."

Oh! "On the Lot" is about to begin! Guess I'll write while I watch!

As a social activist, Shalini had to pitch A Drop of Life to potential funders to get her message out. What a great first challenge to highlight her poise and passion! How wonderful that her pitch was about a struggling priest! Her spirituality is a strong part of who she is. She and I have had many long conversations about the role of religion and spirituality in our lives. I am not surprised that she made it over that hurdle.

24 hours to put a short film together...quite a challenge, especially among strangers and fierce competitors! I guess we'll have to wait until Thursday at 9:30 p.m. to see the outcome of that challenge!

As Shalini opened the show, my wish for Shalini is: "May The Force be with you!" I hope you feel all of the people sending positive thoughts out to you!

Want a sneak peek at who Shalini Kantayya is and what she stands for? I'll be sharing moments from my interviews with Shalini for my upcoming book and will be interviewing many of Shalini's friends to get their favorite Shalini stories on my "Our Voices in Media" blog.

Support Shalini Kantayya: the woman who represents...

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Monday, March 05, 2007

On Spielberg's Reality Show--ON THE LOT-- A Drop of Life is a MUST SEE!

I have been working with an amazing young filmmaker, Shalini Kantayya of 7th Empire Media, for the past year and a half...coaching and mentoring her. She has submitted a film to a new reality show concept--On The Lot--that is selecting contestants for a spring airing.

From Mark Burnett, Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks Television, ON THE LOT affords aspiring filmmakers the opportunity of a lifetime: a $1-million DreamWorks development deal. Over the season, the 16 filmmakers will produce short films in every genre every week and the viewers will vote on who gets eliminated. The show will premiere with a one-hour auditions episode on Wednesday, May 16.

Shalini's work is amazing and her rating for her first submitted work is 4 1/2 stars out of 5. Check out her film and give your 2 cents at the link below...

A Drop of Life by Shalini Kantaya

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Stay Out of the Kitchen...Until the Cook Invites You

When I was growing up, my family alternated who hosted the holiday meal between my parents home on Long Island and my Aunt Marie's in Connecticut. The meal consisted of a traditional 7 course Italian feast and to say it was a lot of work is an understatement. In total there were 16 people in attendance and my mom and aunt would start cooking weeks ahead of time.

Upon arriving at Aunt Marie's house you were assaulted by heavenly smells that reflected generations of cooking and recipes that had been passed down through the amazing women in my family. The immediate instinct was to run (not walk) to the kitchen to hope for a sampling of something...anything. This urge was always brought to a screeching halt if Aunt Marie was standing in the kitchen.

Aunt Marie would hold up her hand to stop us from moving and tell us "Do not talk to me yet...stay out of the kitchen until I am ready" Once she had her head wrapped around the intricate orchestration of getting all the food out at the proper time at the proper temperature...we would be invited into the kitchen to take part in the preparation and sneak a bite or two. I have such fond memories of her kitchen...but only after I was invited in by my aunt...the cook.

This lesson of patience, respect and clear communication has stayed with me all these years. As with many other lessons I learned from my mother, aunts and grandmothers, I have applied this simple truth in the work place with tremendous success. When offering to help an employee or coworker with a project at work I remember to wait until the cook invites me in. It has saved not only many relationships but has produced some beautiful "meals" at work.

Read more inspirational stories like this one in my upcoming book:

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Friday, May 26, 2006

The Sound of My Fear Produced a Powerful Voice

When I was in college I had a class that I took...


I did not know what ROTC stood for as an 18 year-old. I found out soon after I enrolled in this class...I was expecting the study of important leaders in history...what I got was running, shooting guns, and obstacle courses...the last straw was that the final exam was jumping off the science building on my college campus...my fear of heights had me in a total panic. The final was the determining factor for an A or an F in the class. Failing was not an option.

I have to confess that I tried every trick in the book...as the only female in the class I tried pleading, crying, playing sick and threatening passing out...The Captain who taught the class did not buy any of it and talked me through jumping off that building. It was a defining moment for me...

I felt power surging through my veins as I stood on the ground at the bottom of the building that I had just leapt (ok, well was practically pushed) off. It seemed to me that light and energy was shooting out of my finger tips and that I knew I could accomplish anything that I set my mind on.

The same degree of fear that I felt manifested itself into a powerful belief and a bold voice. It is not that I was never afraid again...It is just that I have the most powerful belief that I can get past any fear, because I jumped. Confronting that fear gave me the tools to handle other more traumatic events that life had in store for me. I use jumping off that building as a measuring stick for what I can get through...Life has had some very large hurdles for me to get over ( violence, death, illness) ...but hell, I jumped off a building...I can handle anything! Thanks Captain!

My challenge for you this week is to search out a fear and confront it...what you get on the other side is a powerful voice that believes in all the possibilities that life has to offer.

I Believe...do you?

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Cleaning Habits of Little Boys

When my sons were little they liked to "help" me.

To the by-stander it may not have been apparent. The chore they loved best was washing the windows and front door glass.

They had an interesting technique, they would spit on the glass and then take their little hands and smear the liquid around...Just like mommy and the cleaning spray and cloth.

They were always so proud and enthusiatic about their work. I have to admit that I encouraged them to "help" me. So I brought my double-time workload on myself.

There are many people who "help" in our lives the same way the boys "helped" me.

It might be
  • a well-intentioned mother who consoles an over-weight child with homemade cookies
  • a bitter friend who "bashes" your spouse when they perceive you have been wronged
  • a negative relative who always feels compelled to tell you why your idea or dream can't work
While these "helping" actions are usually not meant to do you harm...They create more work for us in our lives.

We all need to be more aware of how to best respond to these well-intentioned sabatours. Carefully protecting ourselves, our relationships and our creative ideas so we are not manipulated by someone else's perspective of life.

Ask yourself...

Is this feedback, response, action really helping me move closer to my joyful life?

Well, is it?
Read more inspirational stories like this one in my upcoming book
For more FREE tips on advancing your career and navigating the workplace, sign up for my FREE e-zine "Lipstick Leadership" at LipstickLeadership.com today! And check out the products I've developed to guide you toward the success you deserve!

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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Can You Smell Quiet?

As I have been preparing all of my family's favorite dishes for Easter I noticed something remarkable...

I can smell my quiet voice...And the nurturing voices of the women of my past.

Does that sound a bit, well, woo-woo? Well, have you ever smelled something and been transported to a very vivid memory? That is what I am talking about.

For me the quiet of cooking evokes smells of my childhood...Different dishes trigger different feelings and voices.

Bread, Wedding Soup, Pizza Roustica, Pizzelles, Honey Balls and Bow Ties...Evoke the voices of My Mother, Aunt Marie, Nana and My Aunt Jennie.

The smell of bread baking...

the rhythm of kneading the bread...

the smooth texture as it begins to become what it was born to become...

I am the bread and the baker!

I hear my Aunt Jennie (she died a few years ago at 96 years old) a little powerhouse of a woman who taught me lessons on being faith-filled, disciplined, giving and generous, direct in speaking my mind and how to bake bread. All these lessons came with a special twinkle in her eye...She was fresh and playful right to the end.

Aunt Jennie called me Michealina and made me "earn" the bread recipe...Leaving a few steps out each time... I would try to make the bread like hers, and when it did not come out "nice, nice" I would call her for help and she would give me another trick...Eventually I earned the full deal and am now charged with passing the recipe down so that both it and Aunt Jennie lives forever.

At the holidays I bake 10 pounds of flour...The smell is in the house all day long...About 10 loaves get baked. I spend time with Aunt Jennie and myself as I cook.

Work keeps me on a very fast pace...

This special kind of quiet time keeps me connected to the women and traditions of my people...

Which ultimately keeps me connected to my best self.

I encourage you to inhale, smell your quiet and rediscover yourself!

Read more inspirational stories like this one in my upcoming book

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Meet Rajai Davis...

Allow me to introduce you to a friend of mine.

Rajai (pronounced "Ra-jay") Davis is a young man that I have had the privilege to know for about four years. By profession, he is a professional baseball player with the Pittsburg Pirates organization...but that is what he does...not who he is.

Rajai is a spiritual, charismatic, sweet, loyal man who is connected to his higher purpose in life. He feels that he was put on this earth to mentor inner city boys.

Rajai came to me to find his "voice." As an athlete and role model, he was asked to speak to groups about how he'd made his dreams of playing professional ball a reality, and he wanted to be a better speaker.

This post is part of the story of Rajai finding his inner voice through his quiet.

As I've said in my earlier posts, we all find our quiet in different places at different times. Rajai found is quiet in a hotel room through prayer. The son of a very religious mother, praying was always a part of life in his household...but just something "my mom did for many years."

In a conversation with Rajai Davis about his first foray into the minor leagues and how he dealt with the feeling of loneliness, he shared his struggle with me.

Prior to getting drafted, Rajai had only been away from home for two months at the most. Now he was faced with leaving his home and his family for long periods of time. "They're a phone call away, but they're not there in person which makes a difference, a big difference," Rajai explained.

Despite the anxiety of leaving behind what was familiar for the unknown, he embraced the challenge and told himself, "I've got to do this thing on my own. I've got to find out what's really going to push me because it was my mom that did, so much for me, but now it was time for me to do things for myself so that I can grow, so that I can learn."

One of the first things Rajai learned was that the power of prayer could counter his loneliness. He began to converse with God on a regular basis, asking for advice and sharing his thoughts on issues he was facing. It was then that Rajai realized why his mother had spent so much of his life praying. Able to release his emotions through prayer, Rajai was then able to focus on the task at hand: playing baseball. He admits, "I wouldn't have found out (my skill level as a baseball player) if I had stayed in the safety of my family. I had to go out and see for myself...and it was going to take me to do it for myself."

Rajai recognizes the powerful influence his mother's example had on him. By being a doer' by showing him the power of prayer, by living the word of God, Rajai's mother set him on a path to finding his own quiet time with God and himself and helped lead him to success on the ball field as well.

Check out Rajai at pittsburgh.pirates.com....

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