Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mensch of The Month: Acting on Ideas

I got really tired of hearing all of Dana’s good ideas (there were too many to count) and finally I told her to pick one and see it through. Half the battle of being successful is having the gumption to act on your ideas. In October she decided to create a calendar called Mensch of the Month (Mensch is Yiddish for a good man) which featured single Jewish men of the Bay Area. All proceeds from the calendar went to support her favorite nonprofit SMART.  In about two months she managed to get the word out for applicants, shoot all the photos, complete the layout, print and sell all 100 calendars, raising nearly $2,000 for SMART. IMHO she should have thought even bigger and printed more calendars.  

Today, Dana is sharing her perspective on acting and not taking yourself too seriously.Go Tell it On the Mountain. My idea for the calendar initially was a joke, as in “listen to my scheme to get cute, single men to email me their photos and contact information”. But after I made a website for the calendar a reporter from the Jewish Daily Forward contacted me the very next day to interview me about my project. That was the biggest blessing of all, to have someone to force me to act on my idea and hold me accountable. Obviously, a reporter isn’t going to call everyone and ask to publicize your project. So, the next best thing is to announce your idea to the public yourself. TELL EVERYONE. It’s hard to get yourself to act on your ideas but if you start telling people your plans it’s a lot easier. It’s too easy to quietly quit your project if no one knew you had even begun.
They’re Right. Do What You Love. My main interests and talents have always been related to comedy, a keen appreciation of Jewish men, and match making. In retrospect it seems obvious that I should have created a hobby that encompassed the things that I love, as random as they seem, but these aren’t normal interests and I didn’t know I could make a hobby out of them. It’s always been said that “if you do what you love, you won’t work a day in your life” and while I don’t really know if that is true, loving what you do sure is nice. I bet a lot of people have ideas they are afraid to act on, or interests they don’t know how to funnel into a business or hobby. I’d say talk to people about it and figure out how to make it work. It feels so good once the ball starts rolling and you’ll be so proud of yourself for trying. Why wouldn’t you try hard to do something you’re interested in?
The Last Laugh. Throughout the entire project I took the details very seriously: the scheduling, the marketing, the negotiations with printers, and our designer etc. but I took the overall project with a grain brick of salt. Since I tend to stress out, I enlisted the help of my friend Liz. She let me make most of the decisions but was always happy to listen to what I was worried about and give her stamp of approval and pat on the head. Not taking things seriously does not mean not working hard, it just means keeping perspective. Going out and doing something on your own is really scary so I obviously you want to take it seriously, but you also have to cut yourself a break and laugh a little. Like if you schlep all the way to Berkeley’s campus for a photoshoot of a very busy graduate student and the battery on your camera dies.

Sometimes you just have to laugh your way through things.  So what's the big idea that you've been holding in?

Be sure to visit the Mensh of The Month blog here to see the scheming for  the 2013 calendar!

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