Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Blogging from McDonald's

Well, I am blogging from a corner booth in the local McDonald's. We lost internet/cable/phone in the storm on Sunday afternoon and it is still out. Thankfully, we didn't lose power. I am grateful to have power, but it gets rather frustrating not having things working properly. It is great to be able to have somewhere to go and work and we didn't lose power like a lot of other people did, so I need to keep that in perspective. One of the worst things is not being able to blog or catch up on emails late at night!

So what else is happening besides my return to the technological stone age? Things are moving along well on the date auction front. I'm in the process of putting the order together for our date auction bachelors/ettes and editing their profiles for space. I had one girl drop out yesterday, but we filled her spot immediately from the waiting list and I opened up another spot today. I'm still waiting for some of the info from the fire fighters and a couple of ads. Ticket sales are moving along steadily- although, in my perfect world, we would have already sold 300 tickets! We have a Smiling Stiletto Fashion Show the following week and we have been selling tickets for that for the last few weeks. We are almost all set for the gift certificates for the 'couples' to use on their dates.

Even though things are moving along well, I still feel really anxious about the events. I know that I'm doing everything possible to make the events successful, but that really doesn't take away the stress.

Well, I am off to have some tea and keep working. I'm sorry this is such a short post! Until tomorrow friends.. please wish my internet back on!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Major Problem and a Solution

Well, this morning got off to a seriously rocky start. I started my day with the calendar printer calling my cell phone to let me know that they are closing down on August 31 forever. I have been using this printer since our first calendar in 2004 and they do a wonderful job- so the news was very upsetting. Even more upsetting was that I was now left with finding a good quality printer who can do our job at a reasonable price. The printer did tell me that he would look into finding other printers who can do our calendar. I started researching printers in Massachusetts- there are still some in existence. I particularly wanted a printer who does the work in-house. It is usually cheaper and there is less chance of things getting delayed. I called a couple of printers. One gave me a price which was a little more than I usually pay and another gave a price that is cheaper than what I've been paying. I had a good feeling based on the phone call with the cheaper one- this was before he even came back with his price. I'm going to meet with them this week to show them the calendar so they can see what our finished product looks like (I already gave them all the specs) and to see some samples of their work. If we can get an equally good print job, done in an equally timely fashion and save a few hundred dollars, that would be great. I was so relieved that I found a solution to the problem. Not having a printer, just a few weeks before the calendar is ready to print, is very stressful. It is really sad when small businesses go under. This company had been in business for over 20 years. They used to employee 30 people, then last year it was nine people and this year was only 5 people because business had been slow. They do a great printing job, so it had nothing to do with the quality of their work.

In other news, we got two new bachelorettes signed up for the date auction today- they look like great girls, so I'm happy that they signed up. One of the ladies found out about the event on the BSSC website. It is so important to post the event everywhere, because you never know where people will end up seeing it.

I posted the Date Auction on Boston.Com today. I paid a little more to upgrade the listing so I could add a lot of photos- it really makes a difference. I also spent $30 to upgrade to some extra promotion. You can check out the posting at:

Well, it is almost 1am and I need to write my list and head to bed. Until tomorrow friends...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Well, we are to report date auction progress this afternoon! I emailed the sponsor that I've been waiting to hear back on and she wrote back that they are sponsoring at the same level that they did last year. I am very happy about that. We are almost at our sponsorship goal which is great. Since we've been able to cut cost from last year, even if we don't quite get to the sponsorship goal, we are still in a good position. In other good news, I spoke to the sponsor that I've been trying to connect with and everything is still a go with them. We also may have a potential sponsor for a shoe club event which will go towards Project Smile, so that would be really good news too. I decided to see if I could keep the momentum going and made another phone call to the fire department rep who was going to help recruit bachelors for the date auction- I actually got to speak with him and things are looking good to get some more fire fighter bachelors signed up. It feels great when things fall into place like this. I've been getting frustrated recently trying to follow up with people and not getting any response, so when I do get a positive response it makes it all that much better.

Yesterday, I rented our stage, tables and chairs for the event. The price is a little bit higher than last year, but not enough that it is worth it to look elsewhere. We've been using this rental company since we started and it works out well. They deliver and set up the stage and then pick it up on Monday. Tomorrow, I'm doing a walk-thru at Gypsy Bar with the events manager and the rep from Pretzel Crisps who is going to be doing a sampling at the date auction. They want to set up a lounge type area, so we are going to figure out where the best place is for them. I have another appointment after that and then a shoe club party that I'm hosting at McGreevy's in the early evening.

I need to get a photographer who would like to donate his/her time to come and photograph the date auction. One of my friends who usually helps photograph our events isn't able to do it. I usually do photos as well, but it would be good to have someone whose only job is to take pictures. So if anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

Calendar photos are wrapping up very soon. I did a lot of photos lately that are so adorable. I've just started the photo selection process, we still have a lot more pictures to go through. I still have some ads that I need to get sorted out- I need some people to send their ads in and there is one sponsor that has been there since the beginning, but I haven't been able to reach him.

Well friends, that's it for tonight. I'm off to read The Help- I just got it out of the library, eat some delicious baklava which is waiting in the kitchen, write my list and then head to bed at a relatively decent hour. I'm blogging super early tonight so I can actually go to bed early- although that never seems to actually happen! Until tomorrow friends..

Monday, August 15, 2011

Manic Monday

Well, this title is an exaggeration- it wasn't a manic Monday, but I was thinking about that song- "just another manic Monday...". Tomorrow, it will be exactly one month to the date auction. Can you believe it? Nine months of work and now we are only 4 weeks away. It is a little nerve wracking, but I am excited. Our marketing is lined up- a lot of it hasn't started yet, but things are in place for it. The posting went live on the Professionals in the City website today. You can check it out at:

They will have it in their newsletter for the month too. Mix 104.1 is going to radio blasts about it leading up to the event and we are going to do a ticket giveaway to help build buzz. Tomorrow, I will post it on Boston.Com. I'll also post it for my Meet Up groups this week too. I submitted it two websites last week that I would love to have feature it, I haven't heard back yet. The Stuff magazine ad is almost done, I'm just waiting for news from one potential sponsor. We also submitted the listing for the Improper Bostonian last week too.

Tomorrow, I'm going to book our rental items for the date auction (stage, tables, chairs) and follow up with getting other gift certificates for the couples, auction items for both events and more marketing. I followed up today on a couple of Anniversary event sponsors that I hadn't heard back from- I didn't get a response today, but it is important to follow up.

For the last week, my daily list included writing our August newsletter. I didn't get to it during the day today and I was determined that I wasn't going to add it to tomorrow's list, so I spent the last hour working on it and sending it to Lisa. I think it turned out well. I need her help with choosing the right date auction image to use for the newsletter image. I'm quite glad that I don't need to add it to tomorrow's list- sometimes, the desire not to write the same thing on my next list is enough incentive to get things done that day!

Well, that's all for tonight friends- I'm off to read more of the good book that my sister gave me, write my list and then head to bed. Until tomorrow friends...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Latest and Greatest

Well, the week is winding down, what is the lastest? We did more calendar photos yesterday which went really well. We did photos at Quincy PD and the MTA police academy. I have two more photo shoots scheduled for next week. We still have more to do- I want to get them all done, but I can't wait forever. The deadline is the last week of August for photos. I still need some ads from people who have committed to sponsoring. It is always hard when I have to keep chasing people down to get their info. One would think that I would be used to it since it has been the same for the last seven years, but it still gets frustrating at times.

In good news- we have a new date auction sponsor! I am really excited about that. I met the sponsor at a networking event that I went to on Tuesday night. I wasn't even expecting to meet a potential date auction sponsor at that event. It is the perfect marketing opportunity for this sponsor, so I think it will work out great for everyone. I'm still waiting to hear back from another sponsor who has been involved for the last couple of years, they have expressed interest, so hopefully they will be committing soon and I will have more good news to report!

I lost one fire fighter last night who I was told was going to be in the date auction, but then I got a new one signed up this morning which was good. I picked up a gift certificate for the date auction in Boston tonight and I got a commitment for another one. We're also going to be a getting another salon gift certificate and a chiropractor certificate for the silent auction. I was also following up with donors who have promised items for both events, but we haven't received them yet. It really is rather amazing just how much time I have to spend following up with auction item donors- sometimes, I think about giving up, but then it is that last phone call or email which actually leads to the item being sent. It is so important not to give up.

Well, that's it for tonight. I'm really enjoying the book that my sister gave me and I'm trying to get to bed earlier. I've been getting into this dreadful habit of going to bed even later now and it makes it so hard to get up a decent hour in the morning. I need to change that. Until next time friends...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Calendar Work

Well, things are moving along well with our 2012 calendar. We have commitments for almost all our ad spots which is a relief. We haven't received payment for all of them yet, but that is OK. There is one spot that I'm waiting to hear back from, but it should be fine. The person who usually sponsors it has been on board since our very first calendar (when it was very hard to get people to participate), so hopefully they will keep supporting us. I did photos with Hopedale PD today- they came out so cute. We had 3 officers participating, two of the officers are twin brothers and they each have daughters who are close in age. It was hard to get a good group photo because the kids were so little, it gets difficult to get them all to look the same direction and sit still at the same time! Tomorrow, I'm at the police academy to do photos. After that we only have about 5 more photo shoots to do, then we can send it all to Lisa to work her design magic and then to the printer. On Friday, I'm going work with my volunteer Leni to choose the photos from the calendar. We've been working together on that task for the last few years. She enjoys doing it and I like having her help with the photo selection. It really does help to get a second opinion.

I went to a really good networking event tonight with a group that I've belonged to for years, the Downtown Women's Club Attleboro Chapter. I run the Metro West chapter of the same DWC group. There was a good turn out. I had met quite a few of the women before, so it was great to catch up with them and I also met some new women who were very friendly. I also met a woman who had been to our Anniversary Celebration two years ago, she bought the Southwest Airline tickets. She said how much she enjoyed the event and wanted to attend this year's event- which was great! I was getting a little tired before I left for the networking and wasn't particularly motivated, but I had signed up to go and it is important to attend events that one signs up for and it is important to go to networking events- so I'm really glad that I gave myself the little extra push to get out the door.

Well, that's it for tonight. I'm off to read for a bit and write my list. I think I'm going raid the fridge for more cherries. I was going to work for a bit more, I just sent some more emails for work, but I think I'm done for the night. Until tomorrow friends..

Monday, August 8, 2011

Event Anxiety

Well, that time of the year has arrived- event anxiety is here. We are only 5 weeks away from the date auction. It may seem like a lot of time, but it really isn't. I know that I don't need to freak out- things are moving along fine, but I keep getting panicked thoughts of 'what if no one shows up!'. We are doing all of the same event marketing that we have done in the past which is important. Word of mouth marketing is one of the best ways to get people to attend, so I really need the bachelors/ettes that are participating to help spread the word and get their friends to attend. I emailed everyone who signed up today and asked them to start spreading the word. We have almost all the guys signed up that we need to, although I am still waiting on some of them to send in their info. We still have a few more spots open for ladies to participate. This is a reversal of what usually happens. We still need gift certificates for the couples to use on their dates and I'm still looking for more event sponsors. I think I need to expand the number of volunteers that we need, since we are going to have our own food at the event- so that will mean more volunteers to help with that.

There is so much pressure associated with this event, it is hard not to get really anxious about it. The most important thing is that I keep working on all the details that need to be handled, get all the marketing lined up, keep getting the word out there- take all the steps that I can to make it a success and hopefully, the rest will fall into place. We have had 4 years of successful events, so there is no reason to think this one will be any different. In my own perfect world- we would already have 100 tickets sold! I know that isn't reality though, people are generally rather last minute when it comes to buying tickets for events and it is still only early August- mid-September seems very far away to most people (particularly those who don't plan events!).

It feels good to vent about my anxiety. I know I should be calm since things are moving along in the right direction, I need to keep reminding myself of that. Well, that's the latest for tonight. I'm off to read some more of the book that my sister gave me, write my list and then head to bed. I've already done my cherries, watermelon & pineapple cottage cheese and blueberry muffin snacking for tonight! Until tomorrow friends...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Tidying Up

Well, this is going to be a quick post since it is already after 1am! I don't have anything incredibly exciting to share, but I didn't want to go another night without blogging. Things are moving along on the date auction front, even though I get moments of panic when I think that no one will ever come to the event- it will just be me and 40 bachelor/ettes that I will be forced to bid on! Of course, that won't happen, but there is always the fear of having a disaster on your hands. In order to prevent such a disaster from ever happening, I've been working on lining up the marketing for the event. I'm copying pretty much everything that I did last year for marketing and I'm trying to expand. The good news is that through a sponsorship trade, I got a much better deal on a magazine ad that we are doing (we did the same ad last year). I'm still short of our sponsorship goal, but the good news is that I've been able to make some significant cost savings which helps a lot.

It is rather amazing how the date auction ever comes together. There are so many pieces that have to fit together in order to have a successful event- sponsors, marketing, vendors, hosts, venue, gift certificate donations, auction items, bachelors/ettes, volunteers. Speaking of volunteers, I need to get a volunteer coordinator who can come with me earlier in the day to help set up and then manage the volunteers as they come in. That is such an important job and I need someone to do it because I get bogged down with all the other things that are happening at the event. I do a volunteer responsibilities list that I print out for the volunteers, but I still need a person to make sure everything runs smoothly. There is one person that I have in mind who might be interested. The difficult part is that it is during the work day for most people.

Today, I did calendar photos at Worcester PD and I also made another donation of stuffed animals, coloring books/crayons and reading books. The photos came out well. Then I headed up to Westminster to pick up an auction item donation at Wachusett Brewery and stopped at the Olive Garden in Marlborough to pick up a $50 gift card donation. That was the most they have ever donated, so that was a nice surprise. There is a restaurant that has donated a gift certificate for the past few years for our event- every year the donation gets smaller. It used to be a $75 gift certificate, then it went to a $50 one last year and now it is a $40 one. I don't know if maybe business hasn't been as good for them and that's why they are cutting back. It is a popular place though. Every donation is appreciated, but I naturally wish they could match what they used to do!

Tomorrow, I'm taking a half a vacation day. I have some emails to send in the morning, then I am heading out. I have a fancy event to attend tomorrow night which I am really looking forward to. I spent this evening tidying up- I was cleaning my office, but it still needs more work. I was also tidying up some loose ends that needed to get taken care of- paying bills, organizing some documents, writing thank you letters, updating the new Smiling Stiletto website- that type of thing. There is a lot more that I need to do, but I'm getting tired now and my eyes are starting to hurt.

It is almost 1:30, so I am off to bed. No list writing tonight! Until next time friends..

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


One of the keys to running a successful business that I think isn't discussed enough is persistence. Yes, you do hear that it is important, but it can't be said enough how crucial it is for success. It is even more important than brains, connections, a good product/service- none of that means much without the persistence and drive to keep going, particularly when things are difficult. I can't tell you how many times I need to follow up with people to get things done on a daily basis. There are frequent times when I think about giving up on a person, but decide to make one more follow up call and that is the one that leads to success. When I get a rejection letter from a grant, my first response (after the first couple of minutes of disappointment during the short drive back from the post office) is to get back on the computer and start searching for the next grant that we can apply for. It is that drive to keep going in the face of rejection that is so important.

I was particularly thinking about how important it is to be persistent today- I was doing a lot of follow up with our calendar, date auction and anniversary event. We have a lot of auction items that have been promised, but now I need to focus on getting them in hand. It can take a lot of phone calls/emails just to get the items that people already promised months ago. There is one auction item that I will be picking up this week which took 4 messages and 3 emails since March in order to get. It isn't a particularly big auction item either. I know that people are busy, but sometimes it does get frustrating the amount of time that I have to spend following up with people.

On that note friends, I am off to bed. It is barely midnite, but I'm rather tired. It was another late night last night- almost 2am- and I was definitely feeling it this morning. I really feel a lot more awake when I get to bed earlier. So I am going to eat a few more cherries, write my list and sleep. Until tomorrow friends...

Good News

Good news on the grant front friends! On Friday, we received a $3,000 grant from the DCU Foundation! That was a great way to wrap up the month. I was really getting worried with the grants, so it is really good to have some good news. The funny thing is that when I felt the envelope, I was convinced it was too thin to have a check in it. While I was opening it in the post office, I kept psyching myself up that it was OK if it was a rejection- there are lots of other grants to apply for and we're still waiting on news from other grants. I definitely thought it was going to be bad news, especially since they seemed to respond rather quickly to our application. Imagine my happiness when I opened the letter and saw the corner of the check, then read the amount- what a relief! Obviously, this helps financially and it is also encouraging for other grants. Foundations and other organizations are still giving money and we can still get sizable support. I don't mean to sound like I didn't appreciate the $500 grants that we received recently, but the reality is that $500 grants don't go very far. Every donation is important, no matter what size, but we definitely need the bigger amounts to come in steadily. That is the only way we can maintain what we are doing and grow- the real goal is growing, not just maintaining what we have.

Well, there is a lot more to write about but it is already 12:45 and I need to at least seriously attempt to get to my 1am bedtime. I was working on the email blast for our Smiling Stiletto August event and it took longer than expected. I even managed to add the event link to our new website all by myself- I am rather proud of my techie ability! Smiling Stiletto is the new name for the Hello Stiletto Shoe Club which I recently took over. It is a social organization for shoe lovers. We get together regularly for parties and other fun events- some of those events benefit Project Smile! Feel free to check out our new website at www.smilingstiletto.com

I'm off to write my list and dash to bed. Until tomorrow friends..