I'm dedicating two postings this week to my left-side friends.  :) This is my second one. I've found that most of us fall into one of two camps when we look at the 5 Circles of Connectedness.  We either tend to have so many friends that our left side is super full, but we feel a lack on the right side where the intimacy, comfortableness, vulnerability and acceptance happen with real confidantes.  Or, the other imbalance is to only have a few close friends (a strong right side) and dismiss any relationship that doesn't feel BFF-like.

My previous post introduced you to the Friendship Circle women who are some of my Contact Friends, meaning that we don't really know each other well but we feel connected in some area, referring to each other as a friend, someone we're friendly with. This post is dedicated to the next circle, some of my Common Friends.

Common Friends:  We share occasional time spent together in the area we have in common. The difference between this quadrant and the former is that we have actually spent time together in a way that connects us deeper, we have our own one-on-one relationship with these individuals. It can be in our mom’s groups, because we work together, sing in the same choir, belong to the same club or we are frequently in the same social circle but we know these individuals well within the area we have in common.

One of my Common Circles: Entrepreneurs/CEO's

Last January we all committed to journeying together as a way of supporting our roles as entrepreneurs and CEO's of our own companies (our area of shared commonality). But what makes this group different than my Contact Friends is that we met monthly, shared our vulnerabilities, brainstormed solutions for each other, and offered to help whenever we could.  These women became friends of mine- I feel like I know them and they trusted me with the highs-and-lows of their businesses. (But note that they stay on my left side since we haven't necessarily bonded/socialized outside this area of commonality.)

One of the things I love about our friends in our Common Circles is that we may only have one obvious thing in common (i.e all entrepreneurs, colleagues, same pilates class, or all trying to lose weight) but we can all be so different from each other outside of that area.  In other words, we allow for friendships in this Circle with women of different ages and backgrounds far more than we do when we're out looking for a new BFF.  And it's the diversity that can add so much, often unexpectedly!

Before you meet them, I want to tell you what this group did for me, that my BFF's couldn't have done (since they aren't all running their own businesses).  These women, who were strangers to me a year ago-- have since then given feedback on my web site, introduced me to my lawyer, reminded me how far I've come on goals that felt like they were never going to happen, cheered for me when I shared my wins, talked me off the cliff when I felt overwhelmed, and brainstormed ideas with me for various projects. Those are no small things! My life is richer for having connected to this group!

Now I'll let a few of them speak for themselves!  They will each tell you what their business is and how they specifically benefited from this belonging to this group.

Ayesha Mathews-Wadhwa: Founder of PixInk Design - San Francisco Bay Area's premier digital design agency focused on brands marketing to women.

"This fabulous photograph was inspired by the Savor SF Mastermind Group. Having had the privilege to lead this amazing group of women in 2011, I really wanted a photo memory that celebrated our journey thus far and the future successes to come. I was thrilled with the support and enthusiasm with which everyone in the group helped make this happen. Special thanks to Sonya Yruel for the great photography and Kat Gordon for the captions and Shasta Nelson for showcasing us in her blog! Like Kat said "Behind every successful woman... are others lifting her up."

Shamini Dhana:, Founder of Dhana, a new Eco Brand for kids is the lifestyle brand for tween boys and girls that is eco-conscious, ethically sourced, cool, outdoorsy, and exudes that pizzaz of fun and green, inspired by international artists. Available for purchase online and through selected retail stores.

"Connecting with people like Kat Gordon of Maternal Instinct and Ayesha Mathews of PixInk allowed me to gain insight into the world of women, how they were influenced by brands using different strategies. This was such a huge gift as understanding this behavior was exactly what I needed considering the market Dhana was serving – mainly mothers and women. Additionally, I would like to add that it truly helped having a group of women to trouble shoot, de-stress and share the lonely and challenging road that all entrepreneurs experience – great group of friends and a testament to Shasta’s GirlFriendsCircles concept."

Mary Irving: Founder of Maris, Botanical skin Care Products.

"Participating in the Mastermind helped me to keep moving forward with my business.  I committed to a new website and new versions of my products so every month I'd provide updates and sample products that kept me accountable to my goals."

Cindy Lin: Founder of Staged4more Home Staging celebrated revenue growth, working with great clients, different project opportunities within the visual industry and expanding our networks. We've also added new retailers to our fun environmental real estate good luck charm: EcoJoe.

"I loved having a sounding board of people who know what I'm going through over a consistent period of time and who can grasp the business scenarios I face. While my friends are supportive, they don't necessarily understand because they work in a corporate environment, unable to understand what small businesses go through on a day-to-day basis. This group knew how stressful having your own business can be!"

Kat McCaw Gordan: Founder of Maternal Instinct: Creative Problem Solvers for Marketing to Moms. This past year we invented our MBA Program product which stands for Mom Brand Audit. It enables us to truly move the needle of the mom friendliness of any brand of any size from any industry. That's really gratifying.

"More than anything, what I valued most about the Mastermind was having access to a range of perspectives. Countless times when I was reporting my biggest challenge, someone in the group would re-frame the issue or ask a question that allowed me to unlock a solution I never would have thought of without their input."

Other members of the group include: Cristina Moe, Founder of Moe Media Marketing that helps women-owned businesses with marketing and SEO, April Yarahmadi, Founder of April Reno Jewelry creating timeless and bold fashion pieces, and Erin Shields, Founder of Green Carpet Limo, Bay Area's premier eco-friendly chauffeured car service.

Makes you want one, huh?  Yeah, me too.  I'm so sad this group is ending!

I'm already thinking ahead for what I need to do now to make sure I have this in my life next year.  My biggest piece of advice in participating in any group is to make it as regular and consistent as possible, at least monthly.

Who is in your Common Circle? What area of your life needs focused friends (business? motherhood? divorced women? politics?) Do you need to create one or search one out for 2012?

 

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