Thursday, August 4, 2011

Join Words To Live By on WordPress

Dear readers,

Words To Live By is moving to a new blog host—WordPress—as part of The Writing Life. Please join me on my exciting new adventure! In case you want to find a previous post, here is a list of everything I have written so far.

Blog Archive

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Katie Couric's Words to Live By

I seem to be reading a lot of inspirational books lately. I guess I need them. The most recent one is The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons From Extraordinary Lives by Katie Couric, and I read it straight through without stopping. The book is a compilation of essays by the author and many celebrities on what they have learned in the course of their lives. The contributors, who make up the Who's Who of Everything, include:
  • Authors (Gail Collins, Anna Quindlen, Arianna Huffington, Gloria Steinem)
  • Comedians (Chelsea Handler, Steve Martin, Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Cosby)
  • Actors (Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, Meryl Streep)
  • Politicians (Michael Bloomberg, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Condoleezza Rice)
  • TV personalities (Ellen DeGeneres, Larry King, Dr. Phil McGraw, Dr. Mehmet Oz)
  • Athletes (Apolo Ohno, Chris Evert, Michelle Kwan)
  • Musicians (Wynton Marsalis)
  • Military professionals (Colin Powell, General Ray Odierno)
  • Journalists (Christiane Amanpour, Barbara Walters, Thomas Friedman, Maria Shriver)
That list doesn't begin to cover the people who shared their experiences with Ms. Couric, and thus with us. Some entries were pages long; others, mere paragraphs. But the advice these people gave was amazing—so amazing, I found myself taking notes. I knew I would forget, and I didn't want these snippets of wisdom to slip away. Here are a few of my favorites:
  • Courage is the ultimate career move.
  • Sometimes, hard work and good timing intersect. Be ready.
  • Honor your soul by listening to its clean, clear voice.
  • Possess absolute, unbending, unimpeachable integrity.
  • Try to recognize opportunities in disguise. Be lucky.
  • Life is not so much about what you accomplish as what you overcome.
  • This is not a dress rehearsal. This is your life—your one shot.
  • As human beings, we are all works in progress.
  • You have the power to change your world.
  • Live your life focusing on what you can do rather than what you can't do.
  • If you don't like the path you're on, get off.
  • Avoid people who are not genuine and whose energy is toxic.
  • Life is made up of moments. Live them. Find the joy.
  • Dare to be happy.
This little book is a treasure. Just the few bullet points above are worth their weight in gold. Thank you, Katie Couric, for giving all of us these words to live by.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Book to Treasure

A friend gave my daughter a book as a gift. My daughter lent it to me. I bought it for my sister, who will probably pass it around her friends and buy one for someone special. As a reader, I am so enchanted with the book, I am going to buy a copy for myself. As an author, of course, I wish I'd written it. As a publisher, I can't wait to show it to my graphic designer. As a teacher, I will use it demonstrate all the marvelous little touches. That's how books "go viral."

The book is Lessons from Oz by Julienne La Fleur (Is that a gorgeous name or what?) This is the blurb from the back cover: "Lessons from Oz recaptures the magic of the classic film Wizard of Oz while pondering life and illuminating over 35 lessons that we, as grown-ups, tend to forget. some are whimsical, some are serious, and might make you want to go skipping."

What is so captivating about Lessons from Oz? First of all, it's beautifully and cleverly designed. I could rhapsodize about the type style, printing, and paper (really!). I will definitely use it with my clients as an example of a well-thought-out concept; it's brilliant. And, of course, there is the writing—funny, inspirational, insightful.

In case you want to own your own copy, go to or (I have no vested interest ... I just love this book!)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Why hire a V.A.?

First, what is a V.A.? The letters stand for virtual assistant, which is a bit of misnomer, since she (usually a she) is a real person. Maybe a V.A. is considered "virtual" because you hire her on line and may never meet her in the flesh.

Second, what does a V.A. do? She does whatever you need done that her skills qualify her to do. Once upon a time she was called an administrative assistant and did the things secretaries did, but as life has become more technologically advanced, V.A.s have too. Most of them are far more computer and Web savvy than I am.

Why do you need a V.A.? Well, if you are a "solo-preneur" (one-man/woman band) wearing all the hats in your little business, it's probably because you're meeting yourself coming and going. You may be tearing out your hair from finding the business, managing the business, marketing the business, and, in between, doing whatever you are in business to do. Maybe you're tired. I'm tired just writing that.

I have struggled along for 20+ years trying to do it all. It hardly bears mentioning that in the beginning I was 20 years younger. The Internet, my Website, and social networking have been added to the above responsibilities. My marketing is actually generating leads, so I have many more people to respond to than I had in the past. I'm busy, busy, busy; and, quite frankly, I need help! Enter my V.A. (I love her!)

What's the lesson here? I think it is don't fritter away your creative energies doing things someone else can do a whole lot better. Do what you do best, and find a wonderful V.A. to do what you don't do so well. Everybody wins, especially your clients.