I had the privilege of speaking for the Litchfield County Women’s Network last Wednesday night, one of those pouring rainy nights we seem to have had so many of lately. I was a tad grumpy coming in after a long drive, but the mood of the room and the warmth of the members soon parted the clouds in my brain.

Although her business is graphic design, President Chana Monahan is a Toastmasters-trained powerhouse, leading her network through dinner and the best self-introductory ice-breaker I’ve seen. As part of each woman’s 60-second ‘hello,’ we were asked to identify a significant historic moment from our childhood in addition to announcing who we were and what we did in our businesses. I heard everything from the arrival of the Beatles to Kennedy’s assassination to the invention and acquisition of Cabbage Patch Kids. The mood was light, congenial and more revealing than any sound bites on self-proclaimed business acumen. My recalling the world-changing invention of Ford’s Model T got some interesting looks. (I used to be the youngest in the room–What happened?)

After dinner I gave my talk on having A Million Dollar Presence on a Zero Dollar Budget, which I subtitle, How I Got on the Today Show. It was followed by a lively Q+A and discussion. During my book signing I met many of the women, packed up and drove home in more rain.

Not two days later I received a personal, handwritten note from Chana thanking me for my contribution to her group. My talk was pro bono – I do one per quarter – so Chana was expressing her deep appreciation for my time. Enclosed was a $100 Shell gas gift card. What a brilliant gift! In this day and age, if you drive a car, the escalating cost of fueling it has become a major consideration. This was the perfect gesture and will be gratefully used, with Chana and LCBW in mind, when I fill my tank (at least once!).

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