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Smart Woman Online: Lucy MacDonald

Dear readers, Jane is so proud to bring you this week's Smart Woman Online, Lucy MacDonald. We have a number of exciting interviews lined up and this one is especially wonderful, because...well, you will find out why. Lucy MacDonald is a new blog friend. We discovered her at the Carnival of the Capitalists [don't we encourage you to visit the Carnival every week?] and an exchange of emails ensued. One short conversation was all it took to convince us that Lucy had good stuff to share. She's the kind of lady we write about -- energetic, friendly, full of wisdom, and kind. Read on to learn something about 'optimism', a quality Jane thinks we all need, now more than ever.

Lip-sticking: We're intrigued by the idea of 'marketing your private practice. ' Sounds Doctorish. Are you focused on the medical profession?

Lucy: The focus of Marketing Your Private Practice is to provide marketing and business advising to health care practitioners who offer services such as counseling, psychotherapy, massage and other alternative or holistic therapies.

It is my belief that our communities, especially the rural ones, need counselors, psychotherapists, and other alternative therapists to stay in practice. Most health care professionals do not receive any business training at the university level which puts them at a great disadvantage in the world of business. Many a good counselor shut down their private practice not because they were poor clinicians, but because they lacked good business and marketing skills. [which can also be said of entrepreneurs...]

Over the past seven years I've been approached many, many times by other practitioners about some aspect of business or marketing. As a result, I created a course called How to Start and Market a Successful Private Practice and have now created a new business based on the business and marketing needs of private practitioners.

Lip-sticking: We notice a Creative Commons license on your blog. We're familiar with this, but others might not be. Can you tell our readers about it, and explain your CC license, as it pertains to your blog?

Lucy: Creative Commons is a copyright license that allows the holder of the copyright to grant some rights to the public to use the content of my blogs. There are a variety of copyright choices. In my case, anyone can copy content and use it but they cannot change it in any way and must state that I am the author of the content. Identifying content as Creative Commons enables the sharing of information.

Here is a direct quote from the Creative Commons website. "Creative Commons defines the spectrum of possibilities between full copyright, all rights reserved, and the public domain, no rights reserved. Our licenses help you keep your copyright while inviting certain uses of your work, a "some rights reserved" copyright."

Lip-sticking: How long have you been blogging, Lucy? What got you into blogging? What do you like best about it? Are there things you don't like about it?

Lucy: I am very new to blogging; not much longer than a month! I've had a website for two years that I started to promote my first book, Learn to be an Optimist, as well as my counseling and speaking services. I am surprised and amazed how fast the blog posts get picked up by the search engines! So far I am enjoying the blogging experience as I love to share information in a timely fashion which is what blogging is all about, at least in my opinion. I don't think a blog replaces a website but it certainly is another powerful marketing tool that creates traffic and visibility.[where have you heard that before, dear readers? From Jane, and numerous other bloggers, perhaps?]

A blog is a great way to test a business idea or product without spending time and money on a website. However, there is an important caution: whatever you write for internet is there to stay and you must always bear that in mind. Before posting ask yourself: In five years from now will I be comfortable reading this post on the internet?

One way to get your blogging feet wet is to subscribe to some blogs that are of interest to you (google blog directory) and start making comments on posts that interest you. Remember the caution above!

Lip-sticking: We were cruising around your other blogs, specifically the Positive Perspectives blog and we are curious about your "getting over anger" class. For women. Why for women? We think men have more of a problem with this than women do! Are we being sexist? Or, are you being sexist?

Lucy: I think this is a great question. One reason why I offer a "women only" anger management course is that in my clinical experience some women do not feel as comfortable voicing an opinion or participating when there are men in the group. [Jane can relate!] The other reason is that not many men are interested in being part of a psycho-education group and are more likely to seek individual counseling for anger management. Women-only anger management group is a good example of a niche marketing opportunity. You can read more about niche marketing on my R.E.A.L. Marketing blog here and here.

Lip-sticking: Tell us about "You Gotta Have 18," another neat post from Positive Perspectives.

Lucy: The Toronto Globe and Mail has a daily section called Social Studies written by Michael Kesterton that includes a few short items of the sometimes off-beat but always interesting. I am always intrigued by research on what makes us emotionally healthy. Everyone knows that close relationships (friends and family) are an important component of mental health. What I did not know was that according to Ray Pah's research, 18 close relationships is the optimal number of intimate relationships we need to stay in the pink emotionally. [What about those of us with more than 18? Do we have kill off the extras? Just wondering.]

Lip-sticking: How do you keep up with all the websites and blogs you have? Do you sleep?

Lucy: Chuckling... Yes I do sleep but I am known as an early, early riser. I am a decent time manager, as my new book, Learn to Manage Your Time, should attest. I love to work (at least I do most of the time) and one of the benefits of being my own boss is making a schedule that suits me. Part of what gives me energy is the positive feedback I get from clients and from readers around the world.

Lip-sticking: We recently spoke on blogging at a women's conference here in our hometown. The women were eager to learn this new technology - we could see the lightbulbs going off in their heads, all over the room! Would you say that women, as a whole, are better suited to blogging -- because we like to talk and share and refer, more than men? Yet, the majority of bloggers are all men -- or are they? What do you think?

Lucy: I don't think women are more or less suited to blogging than men. It is possible that women may be more intimidated by the technology involved in setting up a blog and are not early adopters of technology. I can vouch for the fact that setting up a blog is fairly easy. [Can we quote you to our prospective blog clients?] I think what makes someone suited to blogging is having an entrepreneurial mind-set, especially the mind-set of a solo-entrepreneur which includes curiosity, the ability to connect with others, the willingness to go the extra mile. [We like this -- we're using it! We'll make sure we give you credit.]

Another crucial aspect of business building involves developing relationships with current and potential clients and one of the best ways to do that is to share information that is of value to them. Blogs are a great medium to build those relationships by educating clients with information. [What a concept: educating clients with information! We hope all the blog naysayers are listening.]

Lip-sticking: We see some books on your sites. We especially like the cover of your Learn to be an Optimist. Did you design it? Is optimism something that can be learned? When people are struggling through tough times, getting laid off of work, getting caught in a hurricane, tending to a loved one on the brink of death -- is it possible to still be optimistic? How?

Lucy: Wow! This is really a big question!

Cover of Learn to be an Optimist ...

I did not design nor having any input into the cover, nor the graphics of Learn to be an Optimist. Once I was finished with the text the publisher, Duncan Baird Publishers (London, England), hired an artist, who read the text and created original drawings and the cover.

Is optimism something that can be learned? When people are struggling through tough times, getting laid off of work, getting caught in a hurricane, tending to a loved one on the brink of death -- is it possible to still be optimistic? How? ...

Optimism is considered to be one of the emotional intelligence skills and can be learned any time throughout the lifespan. Everyone has the choice about how they explain to themselves why good and bad things happen. You can choose an optimistic or pessimistic explanation; this is called your explanatory style.

Optimistic people tend to say that they are responsible for making good things happen and that bad things are due mostly to circumstance. Pessimists think the opposite: when something good happens they believe it was a fluke and when something bad happens they automatically blame themselves. (I am giving you the very, very short version here. I could recommend a good book if you want to learn more)

When we are faced with dramatic life events such as death of a loved one, loss of a job or health, it is important to give ourselves time to grieve and to integrate the experience into who we are. Being an optimistic person does not mean we deny the reality of loss and sadness.

Lip-sticking: Betcha thought we forgot the 'do you shop online' question, but we didn't. Here it is: would you buy an expensive piece of jewelry online, sight unseen? Let's say a diamond bracelet from a reputable jeweler. Why or why not? How about flowers, books, shoes, drugs? What's taboo in your opinion?

Lucy: The short answer is no, I would not be comfortable being a piece of expensive jewelry online. In my opinion jewelry is something that you need to try on to see what it is like. Also the risk of "outlaying a great amount of money" is more that I am comfortable with. Items I've bought online include software, books, flowers, nutritional supplements, and specialty foods. [what happened to the long answer? Just kidding.]

Lip-sticking: Give us a glimpse into Lucy's future: what do you want to do with your life when you retire?

Lucy: I am not a big believer in the traditional idea of retirement. I believe that I will simply stop one activity and start another until the sun sets, so to speak.

This is a second career for me (seven years now) so I have many interesting business and personal projects. Here's the short list... I am in the process of writing my third book tentatively titled How to Start and Run a Health Care Practice to be published in September 2006. My second book, Learn to Manage Your Time, will be out in January and I will spend some time in January and February doing book signings, interviews and the like. Lucymacdonald

In March, I will be attending and presenting at a joint conference of the Canadian Counselling Association and American Counseling Association right in Montreal. In April I am going to France and Spain to walk the El Camino de Santiago which is an ancient pilgrimage. [Jane is so jealous!] I plan to walk approximately 800 kilometers which should take me about 5 weeks. I would like to write a book about the whole experience and hopefully will have a publisher and contract before I leave. I speak French so traveling in France will not be a problem and I am taking Spanish lessons every Saturday morning for four hours at McGill University so that I can more or less converse while in Spain.

That's about as far as my planning has taken me. I hope to be writing and speaking and inspiring people to live meaningful lives for the rest of my days. [Jane needs to sit down and catch our breath! We had no idea! Dear readers, THIS is what we are talking about when we say women are busy teaching the world to sing. What? We've never said that before? Well, we're saying it now, and Lucy MacDonald is right there out front, singing her little heart out!]

What's not to like about that?


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