Protogenia's Diary - Outrageously Successful Women Share Stories and Insights


It is 1:30am, and I am still awake working on a job that brings in little income.  In fact, I often say I am on my way to being the best dressed (hat) lady in the poor house.  So why am I doing it?  Even more puzzling, why do I feel I have something to share with others?  Let me see what I can pull out of my hat to answer these questions:


I keep referring to hats because my business is hats.  But it is not the tangible variety:  I don’t make them; I don’t sell them; I can’t even pin a flower on them for decoration.  I simply love wearing hats.  Ultimately I formed an Organization of ladies who also love wearing them, an Organization that combines camaraderie with community service.


Simply wearing hats seemed pretty stupid when I started wearing them in earnest seven years ago.  Instead this simple act lead to my doing the most meaningful thing I have ever done. And that is the first bit of advice I would give to someone just starting out in her career:  Don’t dismiss something as “stupid.”


Look at your idea from every angle, from outside the box (or hatbox).  My hat is far more than a hat, far more than I could have ever imagined. It is a symbol. It causes people to talk and say, “I love your hat.” It brings people of all ages, sexes, and backgrounds together.  It transcends cultures.  It speaks without words.  It is an amazing networking tool because once communication starts, it can lead in all sorts of wonderful directions.  Never underestimate the power of networking.


Look for ideas from your past.  I didn’t first start loving hats seven years ago; I discovered them 52 years ago in my girlfriend’s attic.  I can still see myself in one with a sweeping brim, with a scarf around my neck, and a pose that said, “Oh darling!”  And I didn’t stumble on the skills I would need to organize a group of Ladies who love hats; I was organizing special events in 5th grade when I spearheaded the first Mother’s Day Luncheon for my club.  I was volunteering at Food Banks and Christmas gift wraps long before I turned my Hat Ladies into a stylish brigade of volunteers who are making a difference.  The clues as to who and what you are have been there all along.  Be a detective in your own life and find them. 


Then toss your hat in the ring.  I learned that powerful lesson when I was ten years old.  My Mother bought a raffle ticket for an event so large it was held at the International Amphitheater in Chicago. It was her name that was called when the winning ticket was drawn; she won a car because she took a chance.  Eventually I started taking chances, too: Moving to new towns, trying new careers, applying lessons I had learned.


One of the most important lessons was the importance of self-esteem.  I had been a Guidance Counselor at a premier high school for 25 years. During that time I tried to help others gain self-esteem.  Now I am doing it at the drop of a hat.  I realized when you look good, you feel good. If you think how you look doesn’t matter, you are wrong.  If you think your clothes speak volumes about you; you are wrong.  They shout them! 


Take time to work on your appearance: learn proper make-up techniques, take an honest appraisal of your body type, keep your hair styled and teeth white. Then carry this concept one step further: When you look good and feel good, you are in a position to do good.  Volunteer.  Give back to your community.


Keep a positive attitude (or as Hat Ladies would say, a positive hatitude).  Remember the nine most important words in the dictionary: “Never give up.  Never give up.  Never give up.”  Surround yourself with positive people and positive sayings.  The rim of my computer is decorated with one-liners sent by Hat Ladies telling me the joy I have brought into their lives and the community.


It is this positive feedback that keeps me going on those rainy days when I feel like hanging up my hat.  But I won’t because I found my passion, and I’m making it happen.  I am following my bliss, which means I am “…enjoying that refreshment, that life, within (me) all the time.” (Joseph Campbell).  It has kept me up until 2:50am with the hope I have given you something to hang your hat on.


Archie, Top Hat