Thursday, February 24, 2011


The Proposition: We need to develop strategies and promote actions that accelerate Stamford's reorientation around the economic crisis. Stamford should aim to emerge from the recession as a more innovative, greener, more sustainable and diversified economy, and overall, a more consciously resilient place and people.

 Sounds like our kinda place.

That was at the bottom of the page I just read about the initiative to "Reinvent Stamford".  Props go out to Debbie Piedra, the commercial real estate agent we met with this past weekend. She went to the Stamford Chamber of Commerce meeting this week and made some connections for us. 

One of those connections is deeply involved with:   I am going to read the entire pdf they suggest and do my homework before I meet with the contact, but suffice it to say that Deb did a great job of connecting us to someone who is...connected.

In a nutshell this new contact said to Debbie that she is looking forward to meeting "your contact that is looking to invigorate the arts community in Stamford."  Reinventing Stamford is the civic dialogue about making Stamford a more vibrant and livable city.  They have discussed how vitally important the arts are to Stamford.  Many of the active participants are involved in commercial real estate development and/or city government.

The upcoming town meeting that she invited us to attend is called, Winning the Future—borrowing a phrase from the recent State of the Union speech by President Obama.  She said the President suggested that there are three elements to increasing economic competitiveness:  innovation, education and infrastructure.  We have two of those areas covered by the way.

She says The BIG IDEA is to integrate these three elements in one competitive strategy, and the way to do that is not through interdepartmental task forces within federal or state government, but rather by how a diverse group of players make places at the local level.  Place-making is the way that the other threads connect, and is the focus area of the fourth Reinventing Stamford Action Team.

The underlined area above is what got me dancing around the room with my hands in the air.  A diverse group of "Players".  I like that.  We ARE that.

When I catch my breath from dancing around, I am going to call the contact and set up a 'coffee' meeting to share with her our ideas.  Debbie says she will be there with me.  A kind of "pre" meeting before the big meeting.  Winning a few more folks into our tribe.

Bit by bit. Putting it together.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


My favorite marketer/author Seth Godin is coming out with a new book called "Poke the Box".
I found this Q and A relevant to anyone who is 'starting something'.  Since what I am doing could fail, a thought that scares me, it was also good to read that someone who has been so successful could also have failed a few times.

BTW, I have a meeting with a commercial realtor who is very connected in Stamford this weekend. She knows the mayor, and some other influencial folks. So I plan on going over the highlights of my marketing plan and how it involves, connects and benefits the community at large.  Next step: keep building on those relationships until I have enough verbal backers to get this going. 

A Q&A with Seth Godin

Question: What does it mean to Poke the Box?

Seth Godin: Conformity used to be crucial--fitting in, not standing out. Compliance used to be the heart of every successful organization, every successful career. The reason? We all worked for the system, in the factory, doing what we were told. Now, though, compliance is no longer a competitive advantage.
Poke the Box is about the spark that brings things to life. We need to be nudged away from conformity and toward ingenuity, toward answering unknown questions for ourselves. Even if we fail, as I have done many times in my life, we learn what not to do by experience and doing the new.

This isn’t the same thing as taking a risk. In fact, the riskiest thing we can do right now is nothing.
I’ve had an extraordinary run, creating a dozen nationwide bestsellers, starting Internet companies and giving speeches around the world. The key thing I bring to the projects I take on is not more talent than most (I don’t) or even more hours than most (hardly). My contribution is a willingness to poke, to start, to lean into the project and to get it out the door.

Question: What will I learn from reading Poke the Box?
Seth Godin: Hopefully you will learn lots but do more. Start thinking about when you’ve taken initiative in a way that really meant something to you and your team, your family. When was the last time you did something for the first time? How did it feel?
There are no step-by-step how-to instructions in Poke the Box. Instead, you’ll find a series of layers, a foundation for taking a different approach to your work. Instead of learning to be more compliant, I want to push you to be the one who takes initiative.

Question: Why did you write this book?
Seth Godin: I’ve been fortunate enough to hear from almost a million people over the years, to talk with CEOs and bosses and customers around the world. And they all tell me precisely the same thing: it’s the motive force they demand, the person who will shake things up and move them forward.
Static is not an acceptable state. The status quo is no longer something we want at work or in politics or in any organization we care about.
The market is just waiting for people to step forward. I wrote the book for those people, the ones who’ve been hesitating to take the leap.

Question: Who is Seth Godin?
Seth Godin: I’m an author, entrepreneur, and a person who starts things.

Check him out at .  

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


"The only difference between a rich person and poor person is how they use their time" ~Robert Kiyosaki (author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad)

I would say that applies to wealth and truly any other project worth your time. This week I am doing a reading of a new musical at the York Theatre in NYC (with Matt Castle, one of my fav “Company” cast mates) so I am budgeting my time differently so that I can get things accomplished.

Since this blog is a way for me to stay accountable and to share the process with you, in case you ever attempt something big that is a little outside of your comfort zone, here is my progress this week.

I did speak with a nice lady at the Economic Development office in Stamford. She asked me to write up exactly what we were looking for in a space and some details about our project. The more details the better.

I sent my first attempt to a businessman friend who I know will tell it to me like it is. He did.  I am so used to writing like I speak, that is how my proposal sounded.  But he was right in telling me that it seemed very ‘beginner’.   So I sent it to my favorite editor, Dad, and he tweaked it a bit for me.  He knows my “voice” and was also my editor for my “Company” stories (  search under “actorquest”)

After he made some corrections, I emailed it to Sue Gilad ( author of The Real Estate Millionaire and Proof Reading for Dummies.  Also a business partner of mine.  She sent me back some more tweaks as well.  

Below is what I sent to the economic development office lady, who promised to get it to the right department.  In case you ever have to write something like this for a project of your own you can see what we did.

Ps and thank you Randy West (director and businessman extraordinaire) for answering so many questions and sending me emails  about how you founded your theatre.  I am blessed to have so many great connections and friends helping me along the way.  Thanks Anita for reminding me to keep a “Gratitude Journal” too.

Dear ….,
Thank you for your time today and for your generosity in helping us in Stamford. 
Upon examination of the initiative to revitalize downtown, and after speaking to local business people, we are gravitating toward Stamford in our search for a theater home.  We are impressed with the potential of the film/television work referred to as “Hollywood East” and feel that our professional theatre could become a complement to that work.  

Our proposal for a professional (non profit) theatre: 

1.      Arts.  Many are aware of the contribution of the arts to a local culture.  Our team is comprised of experienced Broadway actors, directors, producers and investors.  I am a professional Broadway actor (20 years’ experience) and would expect to bring only the highest caliber talent to our area.  We intend to partner with other community arts groups in promoting Stamford as the place to be for performing artists, potentially providing job opportunities for the area and bringing more foot traffic to Stamford. A division of our company called “Conquer Entertainment” which specializes in finding and promoting recording artists will contribute as well.

  1. Education/Outreach.  Our team has representatives of state educational institutions who understand the methodology of providing experience not only in the performing arts, but also in marketing such an endeavor.  (I teach at both the University of Hartford and Western Connecticut State, so I naturally consider educational dimensions of my work important.) Since our internet marketing company specializes in social media, it’s an excellent opportunity to involve and provide experience to college marketing and PR departments, at the same time taking advantage of experienced professional as marketing experts, producers and casting directors. Certainly local high schools and other groups could benefit from a relationship with a non-profit group that has a serious and intentional community emphasis.
3.      Non-profit organization experience.  Our company works with over a thousand NPOs nationwide in fundraising. When I was Miss Ohio/ Runner-up to Miss America, my platform issue was exploring opportunities to promote and fundraise for charities.  Since that time, my team has developed The Powerful Image Events and Broadway Babes Cabarets to fund raise for local CT non-profits.  I am on the marketing committee for the United Way in Milford and several of my key associates are actively involved on boards as well. As a non-profit organization, our intention is to set an example of how fundraisers can utilize the Internet while actually assisting other local non-profits raise capital. 

  1. Internet Marketing.  Our company is partnered with Microsoft and just acquired (a Bill Gates-backed company that specializes in Search Engine Optimization. This is also the company that powers Our leaders are the top in their field for social media and marketing, which means our theatre will be excellent for other arts groups and businesses in the area to grow their utilization of internet marketing.   Our marketing concept is to win supporters when businesses see that we are working with them; teaching them as we garner their support.
The ideal scenario is to decide upon an area that wants to grow, is progressive in their appreciation for the arts, and is willing to explore its connectedness to local businesses. We emphasize cooperation rather than competition.

Our present need is to find a place to call home, one that wants to be known for developing a template, with our assistance, that can be a model to other arts groups on how to work in a community not only for cultural development, but also business and non-profit development.   At this point we are looking for a town-owned property that might already have a stage, such as a school that might be closed, or a space that could be developed into a theatre, approximately three hundred to five hundred seats.  Our marketing plan describes ideas that go beyond merely bringing an arts emphasis to a community.  We are thinking in broad-spectrum terms in providing very hands-on management and guidance.

Breaking the Fifth Wall 
An Innovative Theatre Company
Actors are familiar with the idea of breaking through the fourth wall, the invisible barrier between stage and audience. The New Paradigm Theatre Company seeks to take “audience participation” to a new level by a commitment to dramatic excellence while empowering the supporting community in each project. Often the close of a play or musical is the end, something to critique or remember. The New Paradigm Theatre Company’s mission is to explore ways of engaging the community (formerly known as the audience) in all facets of a drama so that they live inside the story, not just as viewers or listeners. Breaking down this fifth wall is an unusual attempt to let performance art become participatory in a deeply collaborative partnership with the local community.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Feel your way....

Another blog that helped me today is

" The will and power to change a Pretty Strong-Minded Thing...i.e. YOU GOTTA BELIEVE...Pretty the Worth of Your Quest"    Tom Peters.

So Tom,  here is what I have in the works for the next couple weeks.  I have a call into the Economic Development office of the city of Stamford asking for a meeting as we go on a fact-finding mission to explore Stamford as an option for our theatre.

I have a call into a film studio owner in Stamford so that I can show him the ideas I have about combining efforts, or at least garnering support.  Then I need to hit some local big businesses to get some verbal support. There are many large corporations there. Gotta figure out who to speak with first in that type of a situation. I also emailed another recommended contact who knows the ‘cultural climate’ there in Stamford. 

I would love to just jump in, as per my personality, but I think it’s probably best to take the temperature of the city first and then do my usual "fling it against the wall" thing. I only need a few other cohorts for that.

In a nutshell, we are proposing a theatre that not only provides art for the community, but also works with the local business to increase their foot traffic and social media presence. Since we own our own Internet Marketing company (partnered with Microsoft) there are already many tools and systems at our disposal.

We will be working with colleges in the area to promote that press idea/marketing experience for the students with apprenticeships possible.

Also I have another idea that will help more local nonprofits in the area (I already have a few ideas in my marketing plan utilizing my Powerful Image events and benefit cabarets that have been helping charities over the years) In November our Internet company also rolled out an entirely new NPO program that helps Non profits raise money... for free.  Over 1000 NPOs across the US are utilizing that now.

 Hear me out on this new one cause I need to tweak it:

Our schedule for performances will be Thursday, Friday, Two Saturday shows, Sunday.  That leaves Monday dark and Tuesday and Wednesday free right?  Soooo...we can’t make this mandatory, but what if our theatre had a policy, a suggestion, an initiative, that every Tues/Weds the actors and staff volunteer at some local nonprofit.  A soup kitchen, Shelter, United Way (I am on the marketing committee).  Two hours or so. What if we got the reputation for not only helping ourselves, but also helping the others in the community who do so much good?  I write another blog: ( and an article in the local paper that highlights the Executive Directors of local nonprofits. I know what Herculean efforts they put forth.

Already in my marketing plan, Saturday nights are called “Cash or Cans”.  When you leave the theatre, you can donate money, or canned goods, and we will take them to the local shelter. So why not really make the commitment to the community by utilizing those actors who want to be a part of our outreach. I will certainly do it.  When I hand pick my casts in the early stages I will be sure to pick those actors I know are altruistically-minded just to get the idea going.  They are not REQUIRED to do this, as I know AEA would have a problem with that.  It’s just a nice chance to have actors be seen in a ‘giving’ light.  And the theatre of course. I realize it’s good PR.  But it’s not a one-time thing. It’s a commitment that we are making to the community.