Introducing Irma

I could write about the day I met Irma. It’s a funny, and entertaining story, and I hate to tease you, but that’s a saga for another time. Today I’m going to reveal the Irma I know up close and personal. If you can relate to reinventions, creating a successful second chapter of your career life or if you just plain love motivational stories about dynamic women, then read on.

Recently my friend contributed a chapter to an international bestselling book, “Voices of the 21st Century,” a tome about gutsy women who carved out their own path leaving education, inspiration and a blueprint for other females in their wake.

As the book jacket proclaims, Irma Parone is a “sought-after leadership consultant, speaker and author.” Buy the book and read more of her back story. She writes of her career with authenticity, embracing all she is, displaying her kick ass talent of dealing with what life throws at her and coming out on top no matter the odds.

But there is so much more to the CEO of Parone Group.  She’s the gal you want to sit next to at one of those conferences for women. She will engage you and have you laughing from your first bite of the mixed green salad to the last morsel of the ever-present rubber chicken. During that luncheon, it won’t be all about Irma. She will pepper you with questions and quickly have you declaring your future dreams with confidence. Why? Because she is really, really good at getting women like us to believe in ourselves. My advice is lean in close, and listen intently because you will learn from her.

Parone is a fighter. Yep, she’s a badass who worked her way to the top in a male dominated industry without the help of any fairy godmother or female movement. I suppose the secret sauce to her success is a four- letter word: grit. She is persistent, never gives up and having discovered long ago that success and failure go hand-in-hand, is constantly learning. Irma is not shy about telling you what failure feels like, but she is the kind of woman who looks a problem in the face with a wink along with her trademark mischievous smile.  

Another factor key to Parone’s success is passion. Experiencing any employee issues? Just ask her about creating high-value service levels and trusting relationships that earn the support and loyalty of your staff. She excels at this and is passionate about creating organizational effectiveness.

Lastly my friend is never timid about seeking and receiving support and forever grateful as evidenced by the lines she wrote in the book:

I think we can all agree that much of the emotional and mental strength we possess often comes from the strong bonds we have with our amazing female friends. A trusted ally is a lifeline. Much of the time our female friends know and understand us better than our partners. A recent study done at UCLA revealed what we already knew. Friendships between women are special on so many levels. Yep, that’s the call we make when we need a listening ear, some wise counsel or a night out with a good glass of wine and some meaningful conversation.

I hope you all have a friend like Irma in your life. A lunch or dinner with Irma is better than any therapy session. Her wise advice and sincere caring come directly from the heart and there is always a pinch of spice that leaves me laughing.

Getting Ready to Play Hardball

Hand of Baseball Player with Pink Glove and Ball over Blue Sky
My client sighed heavily as he took a seat in the office lamenting over the multiple projects needing attention and his lack of motivation to tackle anything. I nodded as it was not unusual in my practice to have clients voice that particular frustration. Certainly we all go through periods of diminished energy and experience feelings of not being “up” for the challenge. Long ago I learned a partial remedy for combating inertia is, as Woody Allen so aptly expressed it, “80 percent of success is just showing up.

The fact that the young man did arrive for his scheduled coaching session was indeed a start. Reminding him of this fact, I also shared the story of a baseball player who developed a system to pull himself out of a lethargic funk and ready both mind and body for a win. This pitcher developed a routine that consisted of jogging back and forth on the field, stretching hips and hamstrings, throwing some light warm-up pitches from the mound and then heading back to the dugout. He diligently performed these sequenced movements prior to every game. The routine not only succeeded in getting his body warmed up, it also coaxed out a positive attitude resulting in his pre-game focused mentality.

Most of us do not bound out of bed with the enthusiasm of a four year old at the beach. Our mind and bodies often need a little prodding to get the message that there is work to be done. As adults, establishing a rhythmic series of steps helps inspire action. A friend of mine jumps out of bed and into her running shoes to convince her feet that sooner or later they are heading to the gym. I go through an orchestrated dance when arriving at my desk each morning strong cup of coffee in hand. Rather than immediately diving into a complex project I warm up by reviewing my schedule, reading an inspirational blog or two and then attending to some mundane administrative tasks. The process takes about twenty minutes and by that time I am alert and ready to take on the day.

There are those who may dispute the utter simplicity of just showing up and going through the motions. But just as a prima ballerina warms up at the barre with a series of plies and ronds de james prior taking the floor,
Ballerina 2
or a chef preps food before creating a gourmet entrée, we all need a little windup routine before we can knock one out of the ballpark.