Christine Clifford’s experience taught her how to market and sell products, services and herself. Now, Christine Clifford shares those talents with others. She has definitely cracked the “glass ceiling.” By age 40, she was senior executive vice president for The SPAR Group, an international marketing services firm in New York.
As the top salesperson in the multi-billion dollar retail services industry for more than eight years, Christine’s accounts included Kmart, Toys ‘R’ Us, Walmart, AT&T, Mattel Toys and Revlon. Taking her company from a million dollar per year loss to more than $54 million in sales, Christine signed the largest contract in the history of her industry with Procter & Gamble, doubling the size of her company overnight.
Diagnosed with breast cancer in December of 1994, Christine went on to write five award-winning portrayals of her story in her books including her best-seller, “Not Now … I’m Having a No Hair Day!” Starting her first business in 1995, Christine’s company, The Cancer Club®, is the world’s largest producer of humorous and helpful products for people with cancer.
She was featured in Better Homes & Gardens, MORE, SELF, American Health, Golf Digest and Worthwhile magazines, as well as The Singapore Women’s Weekly and the Hindu in India. She appeared on CNN Live as “one of the world’s leading authorities on the use of therapeutic humor.” Host of The Christine Clifford Celebrity Golf Invitational, a benefit for breast cancer research, her total contribution has been more than $1 million.
Christine received her Certified Speaking Professional designation from the National Speakers Association. Less than 300 people hold a CSP designation, putting her among the top 7 percent of professional speakers worldwide. Today she owns and manages five companies: a marketing consulting company, her books and speaking engagements, an anti-aging distributorship and now Divorcing Divas. It is not her intention to be an “advocate” for divorce. That said, sometimes divorce can be the right decision. Sometimes, it’s not the right decision. And, sometimes it’s the only decision. She created Divorcing Divas to help attendees determine the right decision for their lives. It’s not the end … it’s the beginning!
What are you working on right now?
Besides my golf game, which is a constant work in motion, I am focused on launching a national organization to provide educational workshops and seminars for people facing divorce. My first event entitled Happily Ever After by Divorcing Divas was held in the Twin Cities on Sept. 25th. I secured a presenting sponsor, The Crossroads Group, Thrivent Financial, which is no small feat for a first-time event and in this economy. I also sold out our forty vendor tables to include companies ranging from ProStaff, Arthur Murray and Mary Kay cosmetics to attorneys, financial planners, those featuring women’s products, self-defense and life coaching. There has been a spectacular reaction in the community for this event. We have nine speakers, including a certified divorce planner, attorney and mediator, two psychologists, a CNN Health Advisor, a nutritionist and I’ll be speaking on both using humor to get through the divorce experience and how to create a home-based business.
3 trends that excite you?
1. While many couples were delaying divorce due to the recession, many couples have realized that the recession is here to stay, but they can’t stay with their spouse. Divorce is on the upswing again.
2. Despite the recession, companies are seeking unique ways to connect with new clients, and especially with women. Divorcing Divas provides that opportunity.
3. The Internet has made marketing so much easier. In just a day, I was able to get out 1,200 press releases to Twin Cities contacts, resulting in interviews with NBC, the local newspaper and dozens of suburban papers with the click of a button. Social media has expanded our outreach.
How do you bring ideas to life?
logo, ordered stationary and business cards, hired a Web designer and put together a committee. One of the slogans for another of my companies is, “If you believe in yourself, your product, your service or your cause, anything is possible.” Then you need to get your butt off your chair!
What is one mistake that you’ve made that our readers can learn from?
What is one book and one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?
buy feelings. And if you can portray those feelings — of passion, conviction, meaning and truth — people will want to support you in your efforts.
What is one idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
You must come up with a catchy name, or title for your company or your cause. Cancer Club. Divorcing Divas. These are names that draw media attention, capture the imaginations of potential clients, and seem “fun”, though the topics are not. I did break a cardinal rule when I chose the name “Divorcing Divas”, which is: a company’s name should never be longer than three syllables and ten letters. Why? Because the name won’t be memorable: it’s too long. People remember in sound bites: Nike, Apple, iPod, Lexus, Tiger, Beyonce. Ultimately I decided to live with Divorcing Divas because it was so unusual.
Why have you chosen topics that are of extreme difficulty~ cancer and divorce~ and turned them in to companies?
Interestingly enough, cancer and divorce have a lot in common. When people hear you’re going through one or the other, they don’t know what to say, and they don’t want to say the “wrong” thing. So often, they end up saying nothing, which causes the person going through cancer or divorce to feel even more isolated and alone. By hitting these topics head on, and using humor to put people at ease, I’ve found this method to be a great connector of people. And in both cases, people facing divorce or cancer need to be surrounded by people who care.
Which experience was more difficult for you? Facing a diagnosis of cancer, or going through a divorce (or in your case, two divorces)?
While I can look back on my life and wish that I had not had to face the adversity I’ve faced, in both cases, the experience alone turned out to be a gift. My life has been better on the “other side” of those adversities: on the other side of treatments for breast cancer, or now on the other side of coming through a bad marriage. I’ve met thousands of people, traveled the world, written books and started companies. I unleashed an arsonel of talent I never knew I had inside of me. And so, with both, if my personal Guardian Angel would land on my shoulder and tell me I could go back and change three things in my life, my cancer would not be one of them. My first marriage would not be one of them. My second marriage? Wish it had never happened! But now, something has come of nothing. As the saying goes, “It’s always OK in the end; if it’s not OK, it’s not the end.”
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.