They say that most of us are born with our inherent natures. The old Jesuit saying "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man" certainly has a ring of truth to it, particularly when author/entrepreneur Beate Chelette describes her childhood: "Some little girls dreamed of doll houses and unicorns. I dreamed of how to start companies and monetized my first poster mail order business from my bedroom." That childhood was spent in Nuremberg, Germany where, according to Chelette "I was such an outsider that even the weird kids didn't want to be around me." Chelette turned her outsider status to her advantage, applying herself rigorously to her profession, becoming the chief photo editor of Elle magazine's German edition at age 23.
Work brought her across the Pond to Los Angeles in 1989, where she built one of the leading photo syndication services in the world. Her fortune began to change in December of 2000. "One of my closest associates basically stole my business out from under me. When I found out, I fired her one day too late. She had already given my client list away and all the invoices I had written were paid to her, not to me," Chelette remembered recently over lunch. What kept her going was her myriad of European-based photographers who booked her steadily to produce their U.S. based photo shoots.
But, when it rains, it pours. Soon after the international tragedy of September 11, Chelette's beloved father died of cancer. "We were at the grave just after the service and my phone rings. It's my new shady landlord calling from L.A., telling me he was throwing me out of my house. This was my defining moment and I raised my fist up to God and said 'If you have a plan for me, this would be a great time to fill me in.'" Chelette flew back to the States, $13,000 in debt, a single mother of a young daughter, with no prospects professionally, and unsure if she even had a home waiting for her. Chelette had to figure out, literally, how to save her life.
"I started writing a new business plan every night from nine until midnight, after my daughter was in bed. Finally, I was so desperate I wrote a letter to President (George W.) Bush, saying "I did everything right, tried to live the American Dream, and it blew up in my face. I need help now and I'm giving you a real-life opportunity to prove that you believe small businesses are the backbone of this country." Several weeks later, Chelette received a letter from the White House, putting her in touch with the Small Business Administration office in Los Angeles and its Deputy Chief Director, Lorenzo Flores. "He said the magic words to me: 'I will put in what you put in,' and that's when I knew everything was going to be okay." Chelette received a low interest loan to pay off her $13,000 debt. The new business plan she worked on diligently every night turned into BeateWorks, a stock photography syndication company which specialized in photos of architecture interiors and celebrity homes. "We quickly became the industry leader," Chelette says.
Eighteen months after her lowest point, Chelette sold her revitalized new company to the iconic Corbis Images stock photo company, owned Bill Gates. Now a multimillionaire, she easily could have retired. "I think I retired for about a week, but I couldn't be idle," she remembers with a laugh. "I thought back on all the experience I'd had in the corporate world, and how it was such an immature, mean-spirited culture that wasn't about who was the best and brightest, but who can adapt to that culture the best. I had experiences at large corporate publishing companies in Germany and at Corbis where I realized I wasn't made for that. For me it was all about being creative and progressive, not about holding on to a position and title. That didn't interest me at all. So I left in 2008, retired for about a week, and decided I was going to write a book."
In 2011, drawing on the tools, hard knocks, and strategies she learned on her road to success, Chelette founded The Women's Code®, which in turn gave birth to her new book, Happy Woman, Happy World (Visualist Publishing; $13.99). With Happy Woman, Happy World, Chelette hopes to create "a new core code of conduct by which women will live happier, more successful lives and as results show -- have better relationships with other women and men."
Chelette considers the book's demographic to be a wide one: "The book is written for two types of women: a woman in her 30s that who is crazy busy trying to make her relationship work, raise her kids, and has the dream of having it all work. The second are women in their 40s who have older kids who realize they've reached an age where it's now or never or have had a career which is now at a stalemate. Or women who realize they've reached an age where it's now or never. "
The philosophy that drives the Women's Code is the concept of ego-RHYTHM®, which Chelette devised initially for her own peace of mind. "I realized the things we worry about today somehow go away over time, no matter how deep or traumatic they are, like my father's death or the betrayal of this person that so deeply affected my professional life. The more I observed it, the more I realized that life goes in a very predictable pattern, and I recognized it lasting 3-4 years. I compared it to the concept of seasons, which is a natural rhythm, which is why I called it ego-RHYTHM, because it's our own."
Chelette has broken the ego-RHYTHM down into nine stages: the Me ego-RHYTHM, the Career|Eduction ego-RHYTHM, the Family|Friends ego-RHYTHM, the Health ego-RHYTHM, the Love ego-RHYTHM, the Mom ego-RHYTHM, the Bad Luck or Tragedy ego-RHYTHM, the Transition ego-RHYTHM, and the Zen ego-RHYTHM. Chelette explains the genesis of the idea:
"I recognized one of the biggest issues women have is that we wake up every day and look at these nine ego-RHTYHMs and feel that each one must be happening simultaneously or else we're failures. So we're worrying about things that haven't happened yet, that may never happen but we constantly keep ourselves engaged in these crazy-making scenarios." To complete her formula, Chelette drew on her observations of the opposite sex. "Men have an ability to compartmentalize that women don't. Even if a man experiences this, there's a point where a man makes a conscious choice not to think about it, and they don't. Whereas women, we helicopter over the problem over and over and over again, because we must resolve it, and we can't."
Once a woman familiarizes herself with the different ego-RHYTHM and what they entail, it's time to put them into practice. "It's to teach women there's a time for everything and give them the tools to realize which ego-RHYTHM they're in and what to do once they recognize that. Once you know which ego-RHYTHM you're in, you know where to set your focus. For example, if I'm a mother and I know I'm in my mother ego-RHYTHM, I can give myself permission to make that my main focus for the next 3-4 years. Does this help or hurt my main focus?"
As the self-help book genre has been flooded over the past decade with a myriad of titles that has not only exploded it from a niche market twenty-five years ago into a billion dollar industry today, Chelette isn't worried that Happy Woman, Happy World will get lost in the shuffle. "What makes Happy Woman, Happy World and The Women's Code different is that it speaks to the whole person. I didn't want to slice and dice and cramp a woman's needs into one all-important category or aspect of her life. This is about taking all of a woman's needs and making them work together."
Buy the book here: www.HappyWomanHappyWorld.com
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