…by Prill Boyle

I don\’t know about you, but I need all the support I can get-especially when I\’m taking a risk.

Over the years, my girlfriends and I have endlessly encouraged each other. But as I was gearing up to launch my first book a few years ago, I needed the support to be both more specific and more structured. So even though I\’m not much of a joiner, when my headshot photographer Suzanne Sheridan suggested in the fall of 2003 that we form a Creative Women\’s Business Group with two other local women, I thought to myself, why not? The four of us have been meeting ever since.

Here\’s how the group works: Every other Friday we get together for an hour and fifteen minutes, rotating among our houses. After giving each other a hug and grabbing a cup of coffee or tea, we settle down to business. Each of us has ten minutes (we actually use a timer) to present what we\’ve been up to over the previous two weeks and to ask the group for advice. Simply put, we act as one another\’s board of directors.

The meetings alone would have spurred me forward. (Who wants to be the only one with nothing new to report?) But each of us also brings specific talents to the table. I\’m insanely persistent and organized, and inspire the others to follow suit. Rozanne Gates, who was an actors\’ agent for 25 years and is currently the production manager of an arts center and the director of our local First Night celebration, is fearless about contacting movers and shakers and nudges us to do the same. Penny Pearlman, who graduated from the Wharton School of Business in her 30\’s and is both a successful management consultant and an artist, encourages us to charge what we\’re worth and assists us in figuring out what the market will bear. (I can\’t tell you how much Rosie and I need this!) And Suzanne, who\’s not only a professional portrait and events photographer but a singer and songwriter, helps us keep it all in perspective.

Over time, we\’ve gone from being group-mates to great friends. We even take yearly trips together, belting out show tunes in the car as we travel down the highway. We all agree that we wouldn\’t have accomplished nearly as much as we have these past few years without our bi-weekly meetings and all the encouragement and laughter each of us brings to the table.

In other words, one of the best ways to support oneself is to support others. And whether we choose to lend that encouragement in a formal setting or one-on-one, what we gain isn\’t just a series of feel-good moments, but deeper, more meaningful connections with others and the opportunity to be part of an ever-growing community of mutually-encouraging fellow gravity-defiers.

What could be better than that?

Prill Boyle is the author of Defying Gravity: A Celebration of Late-Blooming Women (Emmis Books, 2004). To learn more, go to www.prillboyle.com or visit Prill\’s blog at http://defyinggravitynow.blogspot.com