Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Single Edition's "Live the Life You Love": A Singletude Review

Yesterday I attended the last evening of Single Edition's "Live the Life You Love" discussion panel series for single women at Saks Fifth Avenue. Single Edition founder Sherri Langburt, interviewed by Singletude last January, says that she hopes to sponsor further events, so here's a recap of what you can expect for next time:

The night kicked off with refreshments, and most guests took advantage of the time to circulate and mingle. It was a friendly, upbeat crowd and a great opportunity to meet and greet other women with similar interests. One or two single men even stopped by in hopes of making a love connection! Gradually, everyone migrated toward the main event space to claim a pen and notepad and a chair, most of which were filled by the time the presentation started.

The four panel experts of the night were Beth Schoenfeldt, founder of Collective-E, a web site and social networking organization for entrepreneurs; human resources consultant and career coach Alyson D'Anna; Karine Bakhoum, president of KB Network News, a food and hospitality industry PR and consulting firm; and Brad Berkowitz, author of The 21st Century Guide to Bachelorhood: Lessons Learned Over the Past 20 Years. My primary interest was in the career and business domain, so I was particularly curious to hear what Schoenfeldt and D'Anna had to say.

Schoenfeldt was the first to speak and related her experience building a business as a single woman, contrasting it with a later venture that she undertook as a married mother. One of the main points of her presentation was that singleness can be a huge advantage to small business owners, who can devote their undivided time, attention, and financial resources to what may become an all-consuming professional project. Shattering the myth that married entrepreneurs always have partners to fall back on, she reminded singles that not all spouses are supportive and that the additional risk of investing in a business alone can boost motivation in a way that a partner's comfortable salary can not. Schoenfeldt also promoted networking, especially with proven start-ups who might serve as mentors.

Next up was Bakhoum, who talked about cooking for one, emphasizing the importance of pampering yourself with simple yet special meals. Bakhoum recalled that when she was single, she found herself going all out for guests but reaching for the takeout menu for her own dinner. Eventually, she realized that she was entitled to healthy, delicious food and didn't need to wait for other people to give herself permission to enjoy it. Bakhoum shared some of her favorite cooking tips, advocating for the transformative power of seasonings and sauces and the judicious use of leftovers.

Getting back to business, career coach D'Anna focused on how singles can market themselves, advising workers to integrate self-promotion into their daily lives rather than scramble at the last minute when a raise is on the table or a job is in danger. Her strategy was not for the timid--she recommended chatting up senior execs at company events and the person next to you at private parties. Like Schoenfeldt, she presented singleness as a career advantage, suggesting that solo employees can more easily work a room or go back to school without the distraction of spouse and kids. Finally, D'Anna addressed the sensitive issues of dating and singlism in the workplace. Regarding office romance, she advised strict adherence to company policy, disclosure to immediate supervisors when a relationship is serious, and a professional demeanor should the love match sour. As for combating singlism, D'Anna encouraged singles with outside interests not to stew in silence but to speak up for themselves and their right to enjoy life untethered to a desk.

The last speaker was Berkowitz, who began by asking the audience for a show of hands if they were doing absolutely everything they could to meet men. Of course, not all of us are interested in dating, so he lost me at hello, but chances are many of the other single ladies were on his wavelength as he talked about utilizing every avenue to meet potential partners (hint: go where the men are, such as gyms and sports bars), decoding male interest signals, and holding out for love (or at least serious interest) before giving sex. This advice was nothing new, but maybe that's because Berkowitz didn't make a name for himself advising single women; his book is for single men. In fact, as far as I know, it's the only dating guide for single men. I haven't read it yet, but maybe some of you single guys out there will pick up a copy and give us your feedback.

Each presentation was followed by a Q&A, and although the audience was shy at first, the questions were flying fast and furious by the end of the night. The discussion wrapped up after about an hour and a half, at which time everyone was given a 15% discount card and turned loose on Saks for an after-hours shopping spree. Cosmetics consultants were also on hand with free samples, and a lot of women stuck around just to chat. I wouldn't have minded if the guest speakers had been allotted more time to expand on their topics with more concrete, step-by-step examples, but of course the audience was antsy for the rare opportunity to have Saks all to themselves.

As a parting gift, attendees literally got everything and a bag of chips! Each gift bag included a GO SMiLE tooth whitening kit, samples of Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Ultimate Youth Eye Creme and derma e Scar Gel, a bottle of Glaceau smartwater, a bag of popchips--for real!--and discount certificates for The Vitamin Shoppe and a local personal trainer.

But really the best aspect of the night--for me, at least--was that a bunch of single women with similar goals were gathered under the same roof. One of the lessons of the evening was that we need to keep in mind the importance of connections, and this was a perfect venue to get to know some like-minded people. I'm looking forward to another discussion series and would encourage you not to miss the next time around if you want to network with other singles, learn some tips and tricks for single living, and get some cool freebies.

Tomorrow, you may want to stop by Singletude again because in lieu of the usual big, meaty midweek post, we have two lighter "snacks," this one today and one tomorrow. Tomorrow's post will introduce you to some links that couldn't be included in "Singles in the News" last week but are nevertheless worthy of a special mention. Curious? See ya tomorrow!

If you were able to attend any of the "Live the Life You Love" events, what did you think of your experience? Do you know of any other singles-oriented discussion series that you would recommend? Do singles events like this appeal to you and, if not, what kinds of events for singles would you like to see (other than dating or matchmaking events)?

Fun Link of the Day

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have an unpublished rant or rave about singlehood? Write in, and you just might see your question in a "Singletude Q&A" or your rant or rave in a "Singletude Sound-off"! Singletude makes every effort to republish submissions in their original form but reserves the right to edit your submission for length and clarity.

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