Hello! Feeling much better today. I've been going move crazy, with a million details to take care of before I close on the new condo on Thursday. I've been going nuts with all those details until today, when I finally permitted myself some fun Home Depot shopping. I got a shiny new bathroom faucet fixture, some nifty new halogen bulbs for the vanity, and one of those cool rain downpour shower heads. Ordered a new, modern track light fixture for the kitchen, too. OOooh, it was so nice to deal with fun, new, pretty things instead of lawyers, realtors (wonder though he is!), and change-of-address forms.
BTW, for those who read this blog, my cell phone number and email will stay the same; a new Oak Park P.O. box is forthcoming. And, of course, you can always find me here online!
Another nice stroke today: my colleage Jill Monaco actually asked for a copy of the materials I've created for my new clients, including Heidi's Do's and Don'ts for a Great Show and the Presenter's Checklist for clients who are hiring a presenter for the first time. I was glad to help and share with another consummate professional!
Whine-whine-whine-whine-WHINE! I was up at 4:30 a.m. yesterday in order to be downtown for the industrial shoot by 7:00. (I am habitually early for appointments, something I picked up when I was giving seminars. Nothing like being late when you're giving a seminar on time management!) I kept mumbling to myself, "I'm an actor, for Goddess' sake! I don't get up early!" But I know I get no sympathy--I got to watch a beautiful sunrise over the lake and see Millennium Park on a gorgeous morning without a million tourists milling about. In fact, I snapped a few pictures of the giant bean, otherwise known as the Cloud Gate sculpture, in the early morning light, with absolutely NO OTHER HUMANS in the picture! Go ahead--YOU try; it's hard!
And I was a bit worried by our wind and microphone difficulties that ate up the first hour-plus of the shoot, but once we got out of that location and moved to another one, everything went like buttah. Easy takes, almost no flubs, and we got one great shot after another, with tons of usable footage for his client. Yay! We finished right on time, with the client thrilled that the ear prompter made the shoot so easy and giving promises to keep me/us (me plus the agent that booked me) in mind for his future needs. Yay for smooth shoots!
But I was a mess for the rest of the day. Kept trying to crash, but my worries about various condo and moving issues kept me from taking an afternoon nap. I also got a bit grumpy when the folks who'd been so eager to buy my used sofabed today didn't show up and didn't call. Grrr. I'd even asked them specifically to give me a call if they couldn't make it or changed their minds. (sigh) Why must people be so inconsiderate?
But now I'm off to the store to buy ingredients for chocolate-chip cookies for the folks who are stopping by today to pick up various furniture items and/or just hang out while my apartment is slowly emptied. Wheee! Here goes the sleep-deprived Heidi!
Wheee! Whoa, Nelly!
Looks like my October is gonna be CRAZY! After a very slow August and September (for which I am actually quite grateful, since condo closing and moving details tend to eat up hours of my time and energy every day!), suddenly contracts for October are pouring in! I'm shooting two industrials this week (one for Caremark, one for a financial company), and I already had a new contract for a new client for GraphExpo and an old one from an existing client for ACTFL, but just last night this frantic call came in from an Atlanta agent:
"Heidi? Are you booked for the [name of show that I forget already]?"
"Um... no, but when is it? I'm already booked for two weeks of October."
"October... " [my heart falls as she searches for the date, knowing I'm already booked] "... third through the seventh, with rehearsal on the second. Can you do it?"
We're working out details. It will mean I'll have to miss a ROCKIN' party that I've been looking forward to that Saturday night (prom theme, with all the inherent cheesiness therein--I was gonna wear a tiara!), but hey, priorities, right? And it will be in Atlanta, which is probably warmer than here, so I can catch a few more days of summer before fall hits.
The remarkable thing I discovered after we hung up is that this means I'd be travelling ONE DAY after my move to the new condo! Yup. Movers come on the 30th, and I'll be an Oak Park resident by October 1st. Then, if this contract went through, I'd be off to Atlanta on the morning of the 2nd. All I can say is, thank the goddess I'm so compulsively organized--I'll undoubtedly have the suitcase, ear prompter, and script info packed and ready to go before I even move!
Oh, but don't you love it when the shoot goes so well that you can't even recall the events of the day? No script changes, no whispering in hushed tones, no tension, no stress. This shoot was so well-organized and so laid-back that it didn't feel like work--it was like play! Oh, but I wish they could all be like this!
And it was one of those great experiences that felt like working with old friends. Deb from Karen Stavins was our makeup artist, and Renee, the charming-looking redhead in the picture (also from the agency) was cast as the Big Boss who was caught cheating on her expense report. Oooh, corporate espionage! And I soon discovered that Carrie, cast as the employee making a tough decision about cooperating with a boss making an unethical decision, is actually a singer in an industrial goth band! Don't you love actors with range? From black lipstick to corporate sweater sets in two minutes flat!
Of course, I've been known to have a bit of a goth life, myself. ;-)
Also props go to Mary, the most laid-back writer I've ever met, and Chris, the director who made all of us at home from the get-go.
Just like buttah, I tell ya!
Well, as some of you know, I'm in the process of purchasing a condo, choosing movers, switching over service, and all that that entails. So I've been having lots of customer service experiences to observe and write about. And even though it was just a month or two ago that I wrote about The Price Client, I thought I'd throw in a few of my own observations from this week:
I've decided to spare my friends' backs this time and hire professional movers. So I contacted about a dozen movers, set up a spreadsheet to compare rates (my mantra: "When all else fails, make a spreadsheet!"), and narrowed it down to three. Then I called each one for a written quote.
Contestant #1: returned all calls promptly, showed up on time, took a half-hour to prepare the estimate on the spot, gave me a copy, and ended with "I'd like to have your business." Quote was around $1,000.
Contestant #2: waited a day or two to return calls and began each one with excuses ("I got really swamped; I'm sorry I didn't return the call sooner"), showed up an hour late for the appointment without calling, and called later to give me a verbal (not written) estimate. Quote was around $500.
Contestant #3: has returned all calls promptly and politely, comes with a personal recommendation from a friend, arrives in 1/2 hour for an estimate.
I'm still waiting on the third estimate, but can you guess which mover I'd hire of the first two? Even though the second one quoted a price that was HALF of the first, I'd never in a million years leave all my wordly possessions in their care.
And this is the same thing I tell my own clients: This is your show, and you're hiring someone to be your company's face. You can choose a presenter based on price, but it's usually best to choose someone (within your price range, of course) with whom you'd be comfortable leaving your entire business for a week--that's really what you're doing at a trade show: trusting that your presenter will present your company's benefits and goals better than you could yourself!
On Friday, after spending the morning at IKEA doing some new-condo shopping and the afternoon with movers making an estimate, I rushed off to my Success Team meeting, having done absolutely no personal preparation. And one of the exercises really hit home for all of us, so I thought I'd share.
OK, here it is: we were supposed to think of a time in childhood when we tried to get or do something and failed. It was hard for most of us; we'd all blocked out the memories. But eventually, we all came up with memories--incredibly painful ones. Me, I'd blocked out almost everything, so I chose a memory from young adulthood. Here it is, if you're interested: My best friend/roommate from college was getting married and had asked me to be her maid of honor. The poufy-sleeved dress that she chose was nearly $200, almost as much as the rent I was paying as a poor grad student! I had no credit cards and had signed a contract not to take any work outside of the university. So I called my mother and asked her for the money for the dress. Her response? "No, it's not a necessity. You'll just have to tell your friend you can't be in her wedding."
Ouch. And everyone else's memories were equally painful. We had all been crushed by not knowing how to get what we wanted, and we'd all given up after one attempt.
But then came the good part of the exercise--we were supposed to write down what we would tell ourselves if we could go back. You know, encourage ourselves and come up with other options for getting what we wanted. We all did a pretty good job of it, too (me, I could have simply asked for the money as a loan to repay instead of an outright gift or simply told the bride that I loved her and wanted to be there for her, but I just didn't have the money).
But what really impressed me about the exercise is that ALL of us, every single one, had given up after one attempt as children (or, in my case, as a young adult). None of us had those critical thinking skills that would help us find a way around a tough situation. But you know what's amazing to me? I constantly watch my friends around their children, and I have no doubt that my friend Gray's kids, for example, will not have stories like these to tell. Oh, I'm sure they'll have something to tell their therapists later on, but not this. Because whenever he says no to something and the child is insitent, it's not unusual for him to say, "OK, if you can find a way to get yourself a bike--new or used--for under $50 (or free, or what have you), then you can have one." He challenges them to find another way. Or he'll think of another way himself and bring them along for the process.
Nice to know that people can change, yes?