business friends

Common Friends: My Savor the Success Mastermind Group

I'm dedicating two postings this week to my left-side friends.  :) This is my second one. I've found that most of us fall into one of two camps when we look at the 5 Circles of Connectedness.  We either tend to have so many friends that our left side is super full, but we feel a lack on the right side where the intimacy, comfortableness, vulnerability and acceptance happen with real confidantes.  Or, the other imbalance is to only have a few close friends (a strong right side) and dismiss any relationship that doesn't feel BFF-like.

My previous post introduced you to the Friendship Circle women who are some of my Contact Friends, meaning that we don't really know each other well but we feel connected in some area, referring to each other as a friend, someone we're friendly with. This post is dedicated to the next circle, some of my Common Friends.

Common Friends:  We share occasional time spent together in the area we have in common. The difference between this quadrant and the former is that we have actually spent time together in a way that connects us deeper, we have our own one-on-one relationship with these individuals. It can be in our mom’s groups, because we work together, sing in the same choir, belong to the same club or we are frequently in the same social circle but we know these individuals well within the area we have in common.

One of my Common Circles: Entrepreneurs/CEO's

Last January we all committed to journeying together as a way of supporting our roles as entrepreneurs and CEO's of our own companies (our area of shared commonality). But what makes this group different than my Contact Friends is that we met monthly, shared our vulnerabilities, brainstormed solutions for each other, and offered to help whenever we could.  These women became friends of mine- I feel like I know them and they trusted me with the highs-and-lows of their businesses. (But note that they stay on my left side since we haven't necessarily bonded/socialized outside this area of commonality.)

One of the things I love about our friends in our Common Circles is that we may only have one obvious thing in common (i.e all entrepreneurs, colleagues, same pilates class, or all trying to lose weight) but we can all be so different from each other outside of that area.  In other words, we allow for friendships in this Circle with women of different ages and backgrounds far more than we do when we're out looking for a new BFF.  And it's the diversity that can add so much, often unexpectedly!

Before you meet them, I want to tell you what this group did for me, that my BFF's couldn't have done (since they aren't all running their own businesses).  These women, who were strangers to me a year ago-- have since then given feedback on my web site, introduced me to my lawyer, reminded me how far I've come on goals that felt like they were never going to happen, cheered for me when I shared my wins, talked me off the cliff when I felt overwhelmed, and brainstormed ideas with me for various projects. Those are no small things! My life is richer for having connected to this group!

Now I'll let a few of them speak for themselves!  They will each tell you what their business is and how they specifically benefited from this belonging to this group.

Ayesha Mathews-Wadhwa: Founder of PixInk Design - San Francisco Bay Area's premier digital design agency focused on brands marketing to women.

"This fabulous photograph was inspired by the Savor SF Mastermind Group. Having had the privilege to lead this amazing group of women in 2011, I really wanted a photo memory that celebrated our journey thus far and the future successes to come. I was thrilled with the support and enthusiasm with which everyone in the group helped make this happen. Special thanks to Sonya Yruel for the great photography and Kat Gordon for the captions and Shasta Nelson for showcasing us in her blog! Like Kat said "Behind every successful woman... are others lifting her up."

Shamini Dhana:, Founder of Dhana, a new Eco Brand for kids is the lifestyle brand for tween boys and girls that is eco-conscious, ethically sourced, cool, outdoorsy, and exudes that pizzaz of fun and green, inspired by international artists. Available for purchase online and through selected retail stores.

"Connecting with people like Kat Gordon of Maternal Instinct and Ayesha Mathews of PixInk allowed me to gain insight into the world of women, how they were influenced by brands using different strategies. This was such a huge gift as understanding this behavior was exactly what I needed considering the market Dhana was serving – mainly mothers and women. Additionally, I would like to add that it truly helped having a group of women to trouble shoot, de-stress and share the lonely and challenging road that all entrepreneurs experience – great group of friends and a testament to Shasta’s GirlFriendsCircles concept."

Mary Irving: Founder of Maris, Botanical skin Care Products.

"Participating in the Mastermind helped me to keep moving forward with my business.  I committed to a new website and new versions of my products so every month I'd provide updates and sample products that kept me accountable to my goals."

Cindy Lin: Founder of Staged4more Home Staging celebrated revenue growth, working with great clients, different project opportunities within the visual industry and expanding our networks. We've also added new retailers to our fun environmental real estate good luck charm: EcoJoe.

"I loved having a sounding board of people who know what I'm going through over a consistent period of time and who can grasp the business scenarios I face. While my friends are supportive, they don't necessarily understand because they work in a corporate environment, unable to understand what small businesses go through on a day-to-day basis. This group knew how stressful having your own business can be!"

Kat McCaw Gordan: Founder of Maternal Instinct: Creative Problem Solvers for Marketing to Moms. This past year we invented our MBA Program product which stands for Mom Brand Audit. It enables us to truly move the needle of the mom friendliness of any brand of any size from any industry. That's really gratifying.

"More than anything, what I valued most about the Mastermind was having access to a range of perspectives. Countless times when I was reporting my biggest challenge, someone in the group would re-frame the issue or ask a question that allowed me to unlock a solution I never would have thought of without their input."

Other members of the group include: Cristina Moe, Founder of Moe Media Marketing that helps women-owned businesses with marketing and SEO, April Yarahmadi, Founder of April Reno Jewelry creating timeless and bold fashion pieces, and Erin Shields, Founder of Green Carpet Limo, Bay Area's premier eco-friendly chauffeured car service.

Makes you want one, huh?  Yeah, me too.  I'm so sad this group is ending!

I'm already thinking ahead for what I need to do now to make sure I have this in my life next year.  My biggest piece of advice in participating in any group is to make it as regular and consistent as possible, at least monthly.

Who is in your Common Circle? What area of your life needs focused friends (business? motherhood? divorced women? politics?) Do you need to create one or search one out for 2012?

 

An Example of Contact Friends: "The Friendship Circle"

I love watching little light bulbs go on when I talk about my 5 Circles of Connectedness.  It's not that describing different types of friends is revolutionary, but I love how seeing the spectrum validates us both for the amazing circles we do have, and acknowledges why we're sometime craving more, different experiences in our friendships.

In this blog I often talk about the far right-end of the spectrum-- as most of us are craving more Frientimacy, deeper connections, and confidantes.  But I want to dedicate my next two blog posts to some fabulous women on my left-side--the friends whom we share something in common, cheer for each other, and provide resources and support as we can in that context.

Contact Friends: We share a casual connection with these friends that is limited to one area of our lives. This is not the same as ALL acquaintances.  For example, we may know the names of all twenty people in our monthly association meeting or at church, but these are the 2-3 that we gravitate toward, considering ourselves friends when we see them even though we don't get together with them on our own, outside the shared context.

One of my Contact Circles: Twitter & Female Friendship

In the last couple of years as I've dived into social media, I can honestly say that building up some Contact Friends on Twitter is the only way I was able to stay engaged. Otherwise, it could have just felt pointless and exhausting-- too many people talking, too few listening.  But in the exchanging of some introductions (in under 140 characters), I now claim to have friends in that world.

These are friends in the loosest term of the word in that I have met only one of them in real life, know next to nothing about their personal lives, and we connect only in the area we have in common which happens to be twitter and the subject of female friendships.

But don't let the fact that it's casual imply that it's not meaningful! They do for me what my dearest, closest friends couldn't do.

These Contact Friends connect with me in different ways; they help me feel heard when I send out a tweet, offer to partner up on projects, congratulate me on my business wins,  and share with me the resources on our shared subject that they come across. Those are no small things!

Introducing the Friendship Circle

We've banded together and created the Friendship Circle.   Since they are all aficionados of female friendship-- they have a lot to offer the readers of my blog.  I want to introduce you to these friends of mine... that they might be yours too!

  1. Business: Tell us what you do and why you love it!
  2. Gratitude: What would be #17 on your list of gratitude?  :)
  3. Friendship: Give a shout-out to one of your GirlFriends you appreciate!

Cherie Burbach (aka @brrbach), Friendship Guide at About.com

I'm a freelance writer and author, and I celebrate the fact that every single day I get to do something I absolutely love. The days fly by when you love your work. My #17 is that I have creative hobbies (crocheting, painting, mixed media) that I can lose all track of time in. It helps me recharge my batteries and reminds me of the blessings I have. My GirlFriend: Debby Mayne. She's a writer I met online and has been a source of encouragement and cheerleading all year. I am very thankful for her generous spirit.

 

 

Rachel Bertsche (aka @rberch), Author of MWF Seeking BFF (blog & book)

Mine isn't a business, per se, but my book and blog are how hard--and hilariously awkward!--it is to make new friends as an adult. Last year was my second year at it, and I think last year I got really good at embracing the "you never know if this will be your next BFF" attitude in my life. #17: I am SO GRATEFUL for the fact that I'm someone who sleeps through the night. I hear about others who wake up every three hours and I always think, "Thank God for my lucky sleep habits!!"  Random, I know. GirlFriend: I can't pick just one! I have so many wonderful friends, and I'm so grateful for the new friends I've made over the last two years. Specifically, the new pals who've supported my writing--especially when I'm writing about them!

Debba Haupert (aka @girlfriendology), Founder of Girlfriendology

My business is my passion - inspiring women and their friendships. Girlfriendology started with a couple girlfriends dealing with cancer and grew to a community of over 40,000 women. I celebrate the joy of hearing women's stories and giving them a platform to share them. #17 Being born in this time. I'm not a 'ride across the prairie in a covered wagon' kind of girl and I'm definitely a technology and social media maven. I'm thankful for being alive in the time of iPads and WiFi (and, to be honest, indoor plumbing, gorgeous/easily-accessible shoes and coffee shops!). My beautiful GirlFriend Deana has has a rough year - including losing her BFF. Yet, through everything, she is always there for her friends and family - and with a gorgeous smile on her face. She inspires me and makes me very, very thankful that we met in college a long time ago.

Irene Levine (aka @irenelevine), Author of Best Friends Forever

I am trained as a psychologist and work as a full-time freelance journalist writing about a variety of topics including travel, lifestyle and friendship. The nicest part of my work is getting letters from people who say that my book changed their lives as well as their friendships! #17: I'm grateful to all the friends and mentors who helped shape my life---even though I've lost contact with many of them. My GirlFriend Linda listens, understands, and is always there for me. I'm lucky to be able to call her at any time or hour when I need advice.

 

Britt Michaelian (aka @MamaBritt) and Dabney Porte (aka @DabneyPorte), Co-Founders of #SMgirlfriends

Girlfriends Productions, LLC is our business and one thing that we are celebrating is that we have reached over 30 million people in 18 different countries and over 250 million impressions of support in the first 6 months in the Social Media Girlfriends community! Our #17: We are so grateful for the many people within our communities who are cheerleaders and who support one another without us asking for them to do it! GirlFriend: It is so hard for us to thank one person because there are so many to choose from and no one is more important than the next, so if we had to choose one person to thank it would be… our entire community.

 

And then there's me: Shasta Nelson (aka @girlFRNDcircles), Founder of GirlFriendCircles.com

My favorite aspect of GirlFriendCircles, the women's friendship matching site, is talking and writing about friendship.  This last year I was excited to expand this blog (subscribe top right corner if you're new!) and for the Huffington Post. My #17 is weekends with my husband-- the restorative time when I remind myself that my self-worth is not tied to my business worth. And a GirlFriend I want to shout-out to is Daneen for being willing to keep investing in our friendship even though the mom/non-mom difference between us can feel vast.

A pretty amazing round-up, huh?  :)  How much more enjoyable my social media experience  has been because of these women!  Follow all of us on twitter by following this list: @Girlfriendology/friendship-circle

Your Contact Friends?

What worlds are you a part of where building some new friendships would be meaningful? Where do you need inspiration? Resources? Encouragement?

What are you hoping to accomplish in 2012? Weight loss? Business growth? Home-schooling your kids? Involvement in a church? Hanging out with more singles? Where can you find those people? How can you start the connections?

All friendships start here with your contact friends. Put yourself out there and introduce yourself!

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p.s. And huge thanks to Girlfriend Celebrations (Dawn Bertuca & Tina Bishop) who were founding members of our Friendship Circle, helping get us all together!