The Brain Exchange
The Brain Exchange
20th Anniversary, August 1995- August 2015
San Francisco Bay Area Women's Brain Exchange


We've brainstormed topics ranging from deeply personal issues to formal, challenging business matters..

Want help finding work? Finding a place to live? Marketing your business? Celebrating a major life event? Deciding about retirement? Finding love? Family matters?

You can have the benefits of brainstorming these and countless other subjects with creative, energetic and wise women. Start your own group and see what you can come up with.


Finding research and policy work in environmental and government agencies.

I’ve done research, advised policy makers, evaluated state policies and how they should be applied for environmental work and government agency. There are no jobs in those area right now. I’d like find out about locating a new job in the those areas, and suggestions for people to talk to and places to go.

  • Look at your resume and find categories of skills that are transferable; then research companies that mention those skills on their webpages
  • Think about teaching, use the words “veteran, experienced” Prepare a course or series of lectures and send it out
  • Promote yourself as an independent researcher/writer.
  • Think about companies that need a consultant
  • Do informational interviews
  • Use your political allies as consultants; ask them to tell you about jobs that become available
  • Small developers need researchers to help them go green to take advantage of available rebates
  • Stress: I’ve got great experience, I know how to do it”
  • Pick an area that you think you’d like to work in. Get a volunteer position in that area
  • See if you can be a consultant for your former employers
  • Consider becoming an expert in combining economic growth with green technology
  • Attach yourself to someone who is running locally
  • Look at job listings at Lawrence Berkeley Lab every day. They change every day. Talk to Jeff Miller in Public Affairs
  • Look at Craigslist every day in different sections like “writer”
  • Read SF Business Times
  • Look at Green Careers for Dummies
  • Sustainable Business Alliance has regular meetings
  • David Brower Center
  • Talk to the Al Gore Guys
  • Go on a vacation while you can
  • Connect with the earth and trust you will get a job
  • Do some meditations and take a walk
  • Make a list of the ideal things you want and put it out there
  • EPA has website with job listings.

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How to find a place to live for barter/no rent.

I want to find a modest place to live without having to pay rent. I can barter my literacy expertise for kids, cook and garden and do some childcare, but I want to be free to be away for half the week.

  • Be willing to consider that you might need to set specific days and hours so people know they can count on you
  • Consider being a companion for an older person
  • Talk with people with whom you work and demonstrate how you could create a win/win situation.
  • Consider paying a bit of money
  • Get a room in exchange for teaching people to follow their bliss
  • Post on Berkeley Parents Network
  • Find people who travel part time for their work
  • Find university faculty who go to other universities for a semester
  • Job share -- find someone to take the other half week
  • Post on ’Barter’ at Craigslist
  • If you like to cook, cook them meals for a week and freeze
  • Advertise in Piedmont and other affluent neighborhoods
  • Think about what you can offer that is not schedule-dependent
  • Be an educational babysitter and do it on a regular basis
  • Contact organizations that help people age in place: Ashby Village
  • Work a couple of hours per week at higher rate and separate your work from the conditions of your living..

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I need work. How can I find jobs that use my skills as a therapist?

Want contacts in the therapy/agency world for jobs. My expertise is in women’s reproductive health issues like pregnancy, infertility, menopause I’d also like suggestions for how to expand my therapy private practice.

  • Check out website that lists jobs
  • Alameda Co Health care services list positions some part-time
  • Contact Women’s Therapy Center about teaching or supervising for them
  • North Oakland family practices
  • Give talks to women’s groups about women’s health; write or blog
  • Talk to local physicians who are advocates in the fields you’re interested in
  • Lead a workshop at a nursery school
  • Lead workshops on menopause
  • Contact Insurance panels;-write a proposal about a workshop for doctors
  • Offer workshops to hospitals like Alta Bates and John Muir-Lead a workshop and offer a John Muir women’s health center
  • Senior Round table
  • Kaiser Oakland women’s health ed program
  • Activate your Rolodex to let your contacts know what you are looking for
  • Put up a simple one page resume website to make it easy for people to check you Linkedin
  • The job you want is may already be in your community. Let your community know what you are looking for
  • Talk to your kids’ pediatrician
  • website for single women getting pregnant.; write for that website
  • Get on managed care lists or update your listings if you are on them
  • Allocate time every day to working on your practice and your job search
  • Make a list of things you can do towards this project and keep it with you so you can do these when you have a break

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How can I expand the clientele for my personal chef service that specializes in organic/sustainable meals?

My business is a catering and personal chef service. My specialty is organic, locally grown and sustainable meals. My customers are families who are too busy to cook but want to eat better, people with dietary restrictions like gluten-free.

  • Donate to a fundraiser at your kids school or get a mention in their newsletter
  • Contact and go to their annual conference and set up a booth
  • Use your current clients as a base and give them promotional material to share
  • Offer them a discount for a referral
  • Teach a class at high end cookware store
  • Focus on gluten free-it’s an expanding market
  • Sugar free is also hot
  • Be part of larger conferences part of sustainable agriculture
  • Talk to YWCA
  • Go to Farmers Markets and hand out your brochure
  • Put up your website
  • Talk about price on your website
  • Link to a farmer-supplier at the farmers market
  • Salt free food
  • Do a promotion at assisted living sites; some residents may want you to prepare meals
  • Market in Orinda, Piedmont and Marin
  • Consider lunches for businesses
  • Cancer Resource Centers to connect with women with cancer who want a healthy diet
  • Diabetics also a niche market
  • Market yourself to the independent schools

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Looking for work in sports/recreation management

I’m want help with for networking and making connections. I was a marketing manager. I’ve always been involved with sports. I want to be in sports or recreation management. I’m considering a graduate program in this field.

  • Create a camp for kids
  • Work for a camp that already exists
  • There’s a big home schooling community in the Bay Area that needs sports and recreation
  • Send applications to all local cities’ parks and recreation departments
  • Corporate wellness programs
  • Make a marketing piece for people who run marathons
  • Market yourself to organizations – Like American Cancer Society – who hold annual ‘runs’
  • Morale boosting programs for corporations
  • Tailor activities to women in corporations
  • Put together your own program for women
  • Explore which corporations are interested in sports and see who is sponsoring marathons
  • Look on BART to find sports event sponsors
  • Look at Sports Illustrated
  • Take time to envision someone who has a job like what you want and see if you can meet them
  • Do informational interviews with them
  • Volunteer at an event where you’d be interested in working
  • Develop your network that way by volunteering and meeting people
  • Make yourself very noticeable at events you are interested in
  • Berkeley tennis club tournament
  • Alta bates hospital
  • Create a team or league for home schooled kids and be the head coach
  • Create a Big event for the Y
  • Instead of enrolling in the graduate program, spend the two years and big bucks on home schooling yourself.
  • Just take two or three of the courses but don’t try to finish the master’s degree
  • While enrolled in the courses, use the school’s connections
  • Find out if the master’s program has internships and with whom

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How can I find or start a book group?

I'm looking for a group of committed readers with the intention of forming a book group. I’m interested in both fiction and non-fiction.

  • Be very specific wherever you promote this idea
  • Some libraries have book groups
  • Check out Meetup group
  • Google: book groups in your neighborhood
  • Ask everyplace you go
  • Post a list of 8 or 9 books you really love and who would like to read this kind of book
  • Think about the size of group
  • Ask around about existing book groups
  • Use Amazon for "if you liked this book here's another book you might like"
  • Look for people who might want to join a group-you don't have to be the leader
  • Check out if Oprah's website has a link to starting a book group
  • Have a list of criteria so you know who you are dealing with.
  • Send out an email where people recommend books to you-maybe like a chain letter
  • Limit geographic area so it is easy for people to join
  • Leave yourself open to having people of all political persuasions to generate interesting discussions.
  • Find retired teachers
  • Retired librarians
  • Craigslist

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Have sold my home after thirty-nine years, and want advice for my next step.

I’ve just moved out of the house I’ve lived in for 39 years. I have to decide if I should rent or buy. How do I go about making this decision?

  • Consider rent-to-buy
  • Coop or condo
  • Talk to a financial planner
  • Check out a condo
  • Give yourself a year to think about it.
  • Don’t do anything until you know
  • Send Suze Orman an email asking this from financial viewpoint
  • Consider shared housing
  • Financial scale of rental/buy 15:1;
  • NY Times has real estate:
  • In a writing exercise, determine how much it would bother you not to do something you want because the landlord says no
  • If you rent, you can move more easily
  • Spend some time in your storage unit getting rid of things.
  • Go around and look at some rentals and houses and see what speaks to you
  • Check out co-housing
  • Don’t see this as right or wrong decision
  • Be willing to change the deadline
  • See this decision as shaping the next chapter of your life and what you want this to include
  • Get big piece of paper and write the things that come up about this
  • You can always change your mind
  • Make believe you’ve made a decision and imagine living it for a few weeks
  • Listen to your body
  • Give yourself breaks and breathe and have fun
  • Make a list of what’s important to you as you age.
  • Start to vision what you want your life to look life from this time forward.

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How can I market my massage practice?

I’m a massage therapist and I want ideas for how to market my practice with confidence

  • Clarify what your ideal day/week might look like
  • Write down your philosophy and your price list so you can just read that list when someone asks you
  • Do some role-playing with a friend as practice in talking to a potential client
  • Ask them what they like about you
  • Give them discount for a referral
  • Sell a package of massages
  • Once you have a presentation, go to senior health clubs like and make your pitch
  • Pay yourself well to take care of yourself
  • Ask your best clients for testimonials and write
  • Get on Yelp and get your clients to recommend you
  • Do a massage exchange with a coach
  • Stop sliding scales but find a way to offer something
  • Create a branding package for yourself with answers to questions clients might have
  • Check out
  • Take a class in improv or public speaking
  • Join Toastmasters (
  • Talk to other massage therapists so you won’t feel so isolated
  • Network with people in related fields so you can refer to each other
  • Think about people like real estate, bankers and market to them
  • Put an ad in the local publications
  • “ I found my masseuse at a farmers market”
  • Target wealthier areas where there are people with money
  • Ask yourself why you are not following through
  • Consider working in a spa

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I’m in a job search in the PR field and want to keep my energy high while I search

I’m looking for work doing PR, writing, editing, speaker training, event production for non-profits. I’d like ideas for sustaining my momentum and lightening up.

  • Send out a holiday card to some of the people you’ve worked with
  • Use social media
  • Think about non-profits who work with elders and need traditional outreach so social media isn’t an issue
  • Think about volunteering at non-profits you care about to get in the door
  • Use your Rolodex to contact your own network to say “I’m ready!”
  • Read the New Yorker cartoons to keep laughter in your life
  • Buddy up with other people in this same situation for mutual support
  • Contact 10-20 people ask them what they liked about working with you
  • Use their language or quotes in your materials
  • Do something to nurture yourself every day
  • Find something you want to do and do it with other people
  • Exercise
  • Get a nice new notebook and write about how you will reinvent yourself
  • Join a group so you can hang out with people who are employed and employing
  • Read Artist’s Way for motivational exercises
  • Belleruth Naparstak motivational CD’s

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I’d like help creating a meaningful celebration for my 60th birthday.

I want to have a celebration for my 60th birthday. I want some attention and some validation; I want it to be meaningful and connecting. Ideas for how to create this. Could be in my back yard. Parties are hard for me.

  • Put out a request for a party planner
  • Create a committee of a few people you trust and are close to; tell them what you want
  • Organized potluck
  • Don’t organize potluck
  • Put out request for someone to host
  • Request a pre-party and post -party cleanup help
  • Find one friend and ask them to help you & to create a ceremony
  • Consider telling a story at your party
  • Set a time for rituals and potluck at a certain time. Ask people to bring a short poem or inspirational statement
  • Ask your friends to tell stories
  • Spend the night before the party somewhere else. Arrive at your own party when everyone’s there
  • Make posters of photos from different decades of your life
  • Tomorrow make a commitment to a date for this party and things will go from there
  • Tell people you are planning a surprise party for yourself, tell them to park down the street and when you come in they should yell “surprise”
  • Identify a creative friend and have her bring supplies for a celebration book
  • Ask two friends to use your $100 to buy the plates, etc needed for the party
  • Consider having it at someone else’s house
  • Mention your favorite foods & ask for what you want
  • Get together with one or two friends to create the ritual
  • Think about what you want to wear
  • Make your guest list
  • Decide if you want gifts
  • Don’t say “no gifts” on your invitation
  • Think about how your birthday can be part of building your community

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How can I develop a client base for my financial adviser business?

I’m new as a financial adviser. I offer a free financial analysis. I sell a variety of financial products. I need ideas on how to develop a client base.

  • Use Facebook and give advice so people know what you know
  • Give talks to community organizations
  • Give a Library talk with 10 tips
  • Have your marketing materials with you when you speak
  • Make a bookmark with the 10 best tips
  • Do create a simple website
  • Think about the people you best connect with and target them in your marketing
  • Speak to the paralegals
  • Speak at Rotary, Soroptomists, etc.
  • Organize your next class reunion
  • When you speak, pick an issue that’s suitable for your target audience.
  • Long term care insurance presentation
  • Approach wealthier independent living places for elders on how to invest their money
  • Have a program on alerting them to fraud and elder abuse
  • Start joining professional organizations and networking
  • Many professional organizations will allow you to go to one meeting free
  • Chamber of commerce
  • Women in business group
  • Consider working for someone who pays you by the hour, rather than working on commission
  • Make it a point to network a lot
  • Check out library listing of local groups
  • Look for a job while trying to build up your client base.
  • Network with your colleagues about how they are developing a client base. Find one buddy you trained with to partner and support each other

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I'm a web designer. How can I learn to tighten up so I get paid for all the work I do?

  • Notify each client of your fees in writing before you start working for them
  • Look at your 'slidetime' and build $60/hour slidetime into your original fee
  • Change your fee to reflect the extra work you do
  • Do some personal work on valuing what you do
  • Go shadow an attorney and watch how they bill for their time
  • Find out what your peers are doing
  • When you give a new client a contract, spell out what is and is not included
  • Try to separate personal and professional relationships
  • Read "When I Say No, I feel Guilty"
  • Look at what you give in time for which you don't charge
  • Recognize that in service work, there is always time that can't be billed
  • Put post-its around the computer to remind you of your goal
  • Set a timer – it can help you decide to stop or to charge
  • Take a retainer, and tell them they are working off it.
  • Give them warning when they are close to it being used up
  • Add 20% for overhead
  • Pretend to have a business mgr you have to check in with before you make a commitment
  • Keep meticulous records of the time
  • Have daily, weekly, monthly goals. How much do you need to earn? Make sure you aren't giving your time away
  • Pay your virtual business mgr
  • Expect this to be a learning process
  • Pay a coach or a real business manager
  • Post your monthly expenses on your computer
  • Practice tough love
  • Look in the mirror
  • Smile when you say, "I want to help you and this is what it is going to cost"

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How can I prepare to make a potentially disastrous family meeting effective?

  • Bring Hershey kisses
  • Dispense hugs
  • Sedate your mother
  • Hire a mediator
  • Think about what you learned about divorce mediation
  • Send a letter to your family before you go
  • Have a values assessment discussion about what they really value
  • Give them a values assessment test
  • Write out your ideas ahead of time
  • Identify an ally in the group to help you stay grounded
  • Tell that person ahead of time what you might need
  • Note what's going to drive you crazy and identify
  • Anticipate your problem areas and create a mantra
  • Identify what you want from the meeting
  • Think about what their fears are
  • Give mother space to address her fears
  • Write down your judgments about the people and their opinions so you can be free of them when you are there
  • Express the emotions /get them out
  • Find a neutral position; be out of the caretaker role
  • Take breaks
  • Remember your purpose in coming together
  • Remember active listening as a tool
  • Most effective person listens the most
  • Take lots of bathroom breaks
  • Drink a lot of water
  • Wear the superpower underwear you wore to divorce mediation
  • Wear no underwear
  • Wear lavender aromatherapy
  • Giggle occasionally
  • Ask if they would be willing to hold hands, be silent, and center together for 1 minute
  • Use a timer or talking stick so no one person dominates the discussion
  • Pretend you are a scientist or observer who has come to observe
  • Think of this as grist for the mill and publish an essay about this experience
  • Decide what your bottom line is
  • Establish ground rules at the beginning

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How can I overcome my negativity about having a love in my life?

  • Choose specific time frame per day or week and act as if you are totally going to find love this week
  • Behave as if you believe
  • Be cocky about yourself
  • Know that its OK to be shy and beautiful as you looked when you began to frame this question
  • Pick a day when you are out and about and smile at 50 people
  • Go windsurfing
  • Buy slut red nail polish
  • Smile mysteriously to yourself
  • Get a tattoo on your right buttock
  • Create an affirmation about this and write it 50 time/day
  • Wear sexy underwear
  • Make a list of what you want to change about your attitude
  • Make a list of all the men you know that you have regard for, and what you regard in them
  • Do a personal inventory of your fears and of your desires about a relationship
  • Give up trying to reason yourself into this new state of mind
  • Do a dialogue between the two parts of you
  • Listen to music
  • Listen to romantic music
  • Seek out poetry readings
  • Write poetry
  • Follow a good-looking man around incognito
  • Try dating online
  • Flirt online
  • Read Nancy Blachman's book "Putting Your Heart Online"
  • Make some male friends thru hiking and bicycling groups
  • Go to a center where you can teach ESL. Meet foreign men
  • Examine your ambivalence: on a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your desire for a relationship
  • Daydream
  • Take some time to think of every relationship you've had and unhook yourself from all these old ones
  • Take a salsa dancing class
  • Buy Susan Page's book "If I'm So Wonderful, Why am I Still Single?"

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How can I use a job interview to determine if it's a place I want to work?

  • Have fun in your interview
  • Find out how long they've been in business.
  • Find out what potential there is for advancement
  • Focus on getting the job. Then think about if it's the right place
  • Be genuinely curious about the job and the place.
  • In your second interview, ask to meet other employees
  • Do research before the interview.
  • Think about it like a marriage and consider compatibility
  • Check out the furniture, the environment, ventilation
  • How many buttons will there be on your phone
  • Smiles on people in the office
  • Ask all your questions before you accept the position
  • Notice how people are dressed
  • What is their philosophy on training
  • Identify what's important to you in a job, then ask questions
  • that focus on that.
  • Rehearse those questions with a friend or colleague so you can say them with confidence
  • Believe firmly that they want to hire an employee who really wants to work with them, and pitch your interview to that belief
  • If not, pitch yourself out as quickly as possible
  • Do informational interviews first
  • Check out the restrooms
  • Check out the bulletin board
  • Talk to people in the bathroom
  • Talk to people in the lunchroom
  • Check for graffiti
  • Don't accept a job that doesn't excite you
  • Write your criteria before you go in
  • Be willing to revise your criteria
  • Consider ergonomics
  • Talk to someone with a similar job

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How do I envision retirement and begin to think about next phase of my life?

  • Hang out with people who are successfully retired
  • Expand on what gives you enjoyment now
  • Sit in a coffee shop with a book and see how that feels
  • Write several drafts of a short story- about a 56 yr old woman
  • Think about the things you love most in your job
  • Moments in the day that bring you joy
  • Make lists of why do I want to retire, what will I do?
  • Transition year-part-time
  • Don't use word retirement
  • You don't have to know what will come before you do it
  • Meditate
  • Helps to be in the moment
  • Read the Elderhostel catalog
  • Know that it will take a year to feel good about it
  • Know that it will take one day to feel good about it
  • Internal photo album-pictures about retirement that please you
  • Accept that it's scary
  • Think about times when you weren't busy and how you felt then
  • What dreams haven't you fulfilled
  • Drop in on retirement group-talk to people
  • Make a dream board
  • Survey retirees
  • Imagine four scenarios and notice your feelings around each
  • This decision will not be made in your head

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What do I call the time between jobs?

  • Serial retirements
  • Innie-outie
  • None of your goddam business
  • Serial sabbaticals
  • Advanced dilettantism
  • Independent consultant who operates on a project basis
  • Cultural creative
  • Cultural creator
  • Independent contractor
  • Episodically energetic
  • Episodically employed
  • episodically unemployed
  • Unpigeonholed
  • Living life
  • Eclecticly employed
  • Renaissance woman
  • Cultural hiatus
  • Lucky in labor
  • Work-recycler
  • Work-cycler
  • Impermanent professional
  • Discriminating dilettante
  • New professional
  • Cyclically employed
  • Seasonally retooled
  • Available
  • Intentional hiatus
  • Accidental employee
  • OOOF Occasionally Occupied Occasionally Free
  • Occasionalist
  • Balanced with leisure lifestyle
  • Corporately aloof
  • Balanced
  • Unincorporated
  • Work in progress
  • Work-sabbatical cycle
  • Employed by whim
  • Liberated creationist
  • Temporarily out of service
  • Self-unemployed
  • Self-unemployed executive (a SEX-worker)

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Ideas and advice for me about renting out a room in my house (and I could use help in furnishing it)

  • Be clear about your boundaries. What are you willing to share in your house?
  • Contact airlines human resources departments
  • Contact Inger re foreign students
  • UC language studies-You have to do a bit more-like speaking English and feed them breakfast
  • Mills College
  • American Language Institute
  • Think carefully about what rules you'd like to make
  • Research on Craig's list to see what's out there
  • Create an interview list of questions
  • Make a list of your expectations
  • Find out about Human Investment Project
  • Think about someone who needs a sometime place
  • Commuter airline people
  • Start out doing this temporarily month-to-month until you get your sea legs
  • Ask questions about cooking, alcohol, smoking, if they have visitors who spend the night
  • Make a 'house guidelines' list
  • Graduate students in physical sciences are never home
  • Doctors and nurses work long shifts
  • Traveling nurses - contact nurse recruiters at hospitals
  • Research legal issues about getting them out
  • Go to storage unit sale
  • Rent it furnished or unfurnished
  • Get a good bed, desk, chair if you want to get a good price
  • Research rent rolls
  • UC Housing office can give you advice
  • Large corporations may need short-term housing for temp staff.

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