Archives for posts with tag: Entrepreneurs

Or one of my favorite quotes, “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” — Max Ehrmann (Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life)

And so…

I woke up Tuesday morning and felt coincidence in the air. Kind of the way, I can look at a pink sky in the winter and feel the snow that is about to fall. It’s a bit off. I know.

This kind of reminds me of how I used to tell my brother that I could see air. I can’t see air. I’ve never been able to see air, BUT I used to space out and would see these particles floating in the air. More than likely dust, but I still would tell my brother, “I can see air!” He’s quickly tell me that I couldn’t and that would be that.

Alas, Tuesday morning, I woke up and felt coincidence. Then I came to work and told my coworker that I felt coincidence in the air that we had to be ready to deal with all that was going to happen. I’m not really going to delve into why I felt so strongly about coincidence, but it does involve a name and the fact that the person who the name belonged to was on my brain and then I started reading a book where the name popped up and then Tuesday morning as I sat at my desk talking to my coworker who was reading an email to me written by a guy with the same name, another coworker with the same name called me. Oy, coincidence, you are both my friend and foe!

And folks, the coincidences did not stop there! The only thing is I can’t quite remember them. What I can tell you, though, is that as the day went on and then yesterday came, I felt like all the little moments that had made up the past two days were in fact destined.

Yes, I know some people think destiny is bull.

Yes, I know that I am the captain of my ship and therefore what I do is what I do and if I make things happen, then I make them happen. BUT I also believe in the great wide universe. I believe she helps and when you ask for things, she listens and helps you find what you, we, me, all of us are looking for.

I also believe that everything happens for a reason. Which means keeping aware that coincidences are things that are meant to happen and just take part in making the bigger picture more recognizable and inspiring.

Having started last weekend, while dog sitting for a friend (I’ve considered taking up dog walking/sitting as a potential job for when I make my Sasquatch step), photographing and attending the Long Island City CSA Farmer Meet and Greet event, shopping for last-minute necessary items for my products for Celebrate Brooklyn! and having amazing, in-depth conversations about life, goals and purpose over amazing meals with friends and family, I knew that good things were to come this week.

And it did! Yesterday morning, I attended this AMAZING breakfast through Gotham Media Ventures called: Women and the Entrepreneurial Spirit in New York. The panel consisted of four amazing women:

Ellie Cachette, CEO, ConsumerBell
Holly Hurd, Serial Entrepreneur; Founder, Venturemom.com
Sheelah Kolhatkar, Assistant Managing Editor, Bloomberg Business Week; Author, “If Women Ran Wall Street,” NY Magazine
Wendy Weinstein Karp, Co-Owner PLATES Restaurant; Owner W2K Marketing Consultant

All of these women were different in how they went about their business ideas and planning, yet all of them were the same in how passionate they are about their businesses and following their dreams. Amazing stuff, ladies and gents!

The key points that I took away from the session are:

1. Successful women are:
-Focused on work
-Don’t have time for very many outside activities
-Are very determined and almost have an immigrant mentality that makes them willing to do whatever it takes.
2. When you hire people on board, hire people you can enjoy and who will empower you.
3. Never be afraid to ask for help from family and friends and to talk, talk, talk about yourself to everyone and anyone. You never know who your friends and family know and how they can be of help.
4. YOU are the brand! So remember to control your content, your SEO, your social media.
5. Find your Niche.
6. Rather than who is your target, always ask the following: “What are the people whom you are trying to reach going to believe?”
7. If you go to a networking event (like this) and it doesn’t work for you and you know you’re going to leave, make sure you give your card out to at least 5 people. No matter what, tell your story, shake hands and kiss babies. That’s your role as the CEO.
8. Dreams don’t come true when you just think about them part-time. (LOVE THIS ONE!)
9. Don’t accept no as an answer. Be relentless!
10. Always move forward.

I left completely and totally star truck, but not by fame and fortune, instead by women and the potential of women. I was also struck by how honest and open these women were about their lives, goals, and dreams. All of these women had amazing things to say. They all talked about what they would have done differently and what inspired them to go off now. They talked about following instincts and also planning. They also talked about realizing when you, as a woman, an employee, and as an individual, need to reassess your life and wants and take the opportunity.

The last bit is something that I think everyone as individuals needs to do and experience regularly, not just when a large shift occurs. It’s so easy to continue going in circles trying to figure out safety nets for the leap, but sometimes you just have to leap and the net appears.

In the past two weeks, I’ve come from under that overwhelmed, unmotivated, and deeply unhappy place to realize that I’ve got to keep moving. I’ve been fortunate enough to see all the wonderful signs that the universe and my wonderful friends have thrown my way and I feel a bit lighter and brighter.

Rather than feeling stuck, I now feel excited (Celebrate Brooklyn! is two weeks away!) and ready, now, more than ever, to make bigger steps. No more baby steps (please tell me you’ve seen “What About Bob?”); I’m making teenage steps now. Next will come young adult steps, 20-something steps, adult steps and finally the big step, the Sasquatch step. When I do, you’ll know!

If you’re planning and plotting for your Sasquatch step, good luck! Always know that there are things, positive and amazing things waiting for you when you do. Also, you’ll know when to take it. You’ll feel it like a jolt, or a shock or much like when the air just speaks to you. Keep your eyes open for the coincidences, signs, and occurrences and be inspired and inspire.

HOLD THE FREAKING PHONE! Word is that President Obama released his REAL birth certificate claiming his American nationality yesterday and he even held a press conference.

And guess what?

People still don’t believe he’s an American. Not only are they still speculating, many have moved on to his ivy league education. Sigh.

You may be wondering what the hell the President of the United States of America, a Stationer and Entrepreneurship have to with each other. Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on this issue, that I’d rather not discuss, but I think holds a great lesson in communication as a greater whole, and also to the many aspiring or already formed business owners, as well as a few large corporations out there that don’t seem to get “it.”

So, yeah, Obama released his real birth certificate on the White House website and held a press conference. Great! But for who? The people who elected him into office, that clearly don’t care? I don’t think so. The people who resent that there is a “black” man running our country? Most definitely.

I would be lying and skirting the issue if I left out the part about racism in this circus act that is known as the birther movement.  All of this disbelief comes from ignorance and a lack of understanding change or black culture in America. However, this is not a topic for this blog, but I want to make sure you readers are aware of  racism being a reality in America.

So how does this relate to existing and budding, new businesses?

In the following ways:

1. Transparency. We live in a society that has come to value transparency. EVERYTHING is transparent. All your gadgets track your whereabouts from both moments that require a bed-waking up and falling asleep.  I’m not talking about privacy theories or anything like that, I’m simply stating a fact. A fact that has become big recently thanks to learning that the iphone stores your location information.  Combine that with the internet and well, you’re so see through, you’re glowing!

The minute you share a tweet, post a photo on your social network,  write a blog, or share a video, you are being transparent. You are letting the world know about you, your likes, your dislikes, and anything else that you choose to share.  Many call this social sharing. Which is fine, but the reality is that some of us over-share. More importantly gone is the era of secrets and cover ups. You mess up and you will be caught.

The White House and President Obama know this better than any other President. Obama’s entire campaign was built on the creation of an online database. He, Michelle and his fellow partners send me emails weekly discussing their thoughts, their determination, their ideas and you know, it creates the idea of knowing the man and being part of a larger network of concerned citizens and Americans. But, there’s always a flip side to all the inclusion and knowledge…the expectation that you, me and everyone else should know EVERY detail of every thing.  Which can lead to a mob lynching if you’re not careful. In these days of the internet, no mob lynching is bigger than the ones you find via reader comments and feedback…

2. Sharing Your Voice + Over Sharing + Transparent Feedback.  The  internet, the glorious area of electronic communication, is not only constant and continuous, but it allows everyone to have a voice. And everyone has a voice. The fact that America is a “democracy” only fuels this belief that we have to and must share our voice. We all in some way want to share our thoughts, or for many find that ticket that is to the mega millions, regardless that few ever will.   Instead, they will find more voices like them to rant and vent and social share. There is nothing constructive about this negative behavior, nor is it conducive to building a stronger and better community of Americans.  I’m not trying to spin this negatively because I have had the pleasure of meeting/knowing people through communities online, but for those that use the internet for darker things, they can find their jackpot.

The birthers have found their dark place. In the same place that all extremists do. Every side has both a good and a bad, but when the lynching mob comes with their media backed outlets and their mama bear and bad hair piece wearing leaders, they are no longer have a dark place, they have an entire platform.

President Obama had to release his birth certificate because even though there are more important things to deal with, the lynching mob was leaving a feedback trail of disrespect, disbelief, injustice, and hurt all across the country.

Feedback is necessary to any business because it allows reflection to a busy owner that might not be able to see all the areas of improvement necessary. However, not all criticism or feedback is constructive. Or necessary for that matter. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard and read about responding to feedback on websites and allowing areas for communication with fans/readers/shoppers/potential clients/anyone who randomly lands on my page, and I agree (I allow for feedback on this blog).  But I also believe that real, honest, and genuine communication doesn’t always happen in public spaces. It happens in one-on-one situations where I can directly gather all the information I need from voice tones, physical body cues, etc.  Which leads to the next lesson…

3. Contact. I don’t necessarily think that President Obama’s initial handling of the questioning was mishandled. I would have handled it in the same manner, but I think by thinking that it would go away without properly viewing it from the opposition’s side showed a disconnect in communication. Or rather a disconnect in approachable communication. You can email everyone in the country until your face is blue, but what about the people who don’t have internet? (I know, completely unfathomable!) What about the people who don’t watch the news? There are people out there that simply choose not to connect via technology. What about them?

This is the same thing for any business. Business owners hear a lot about learning and exploring their target market. Something that is very important in deed, but what if they don’t connect to you the way you’re reaching out to them? How do you fix that? How do you make yourself more approachable? Sometimes, just sometimes, you won’t be able to reach those people. At this point, all you can do is make a decision to either go against or do nothing. Which leads us to the next topic…

3. Making a Decision + Laying You Cards Out.  Being President of the United States of America is no different from being the CEO of a business, regardless of size.  What Corporations got away with in the past such as being able to hide important details about their history and business practices, no longer is acceptable and clearly the same goes for the Presidency.  I am not speaking of say KFC’s secret recipe for fried chicken or Coke’s formula for their cola. I am speaking about whether KFC uses sustainable chicken raising practices or not.  Consumers doubt and lose respect for companies that do not lay out their cards on the table. Companies now have a million and one annual publications ranging from Corporate Social Responsibility to Financial Statements. Why? For the sake of transparency. In 2011, no one wants to be caught like Enron.

Which is why I understand why Obama went the route he did and includes the risk of media…

4. Media. When one group of people force an issue into the limelight and attention is given, the consequences, if not dealt with can be dire.  A recent situation that is brought to mind is the whole lawsuit against taco bell. (I know, right?)  Taco Bell handled the situation well. They never hid from any of the criticism. Using social media tools and traditional media outlets they were able to fight back against the claims of their meat.

Obama held a “breaking news” segment through the media earlier Wednesday to announce that he was sharing this birth certificate and noted how it garnered a lot of press. A ton of press actually. Doing this allowed his news to reach as many outlets as possible. To reach as many of the corners that needed to hear the message.  In 2011, I’m beginning to doubt that the Media understands its role. Again not the topic for this blog, but what I find the most striking is the love/hate relationship with media. If you listen to the first few seconds of Obama’s talk, he criticizes the media. As a matter of fact, the over all tone of that talk is one of a teacher scolding a classroom of students. Even though I’m not a person of the press, or a birther, I felt chastised after watching the clip.

I realize that this blog is a form of media (to an extent) and I realize that by discussing this issue, I am opening myself up to the wider arena of media, but I am also not the President of the United States, nor am I a celebrity.  I know the role I want media to play in my life and in my business.  What this issue has taught me is that anything that is sensational or resembles the lynching mob will be given attention by the media and when they do, they will use it to the max.

In this case, the birthers have been allowed to attack, yell, debate and undermine  Obama’s entire presidency, legitimacy, and authenticity thanks to the media at large. Why? I may never understand, but what I do understand is that I and everyone else who wants to be productive citizens and business owners, need to make sure that our relationship with the media is controlled.

Many people, one in particular,  seem to be taking credit for this document release, when in fact, I see this as President Obama’s way of saying “ENOUGH!” President Obama could have easily kept going down the road of  ignoring the onslaught of conspiracy theories and attacks, but instead he made a decision to go down another road, possibly a higher road.

In President Obama’s announcement yesterday, he noted that conversations and debates are part of a democracy, but that they should be used to discuss issues of great importance.  While I completely agree, I also agree that sometimes you have to bite the bullet, even when it’s something you don’t believe in to move forward. If you don’t, you’ll be left haunted your decisions and choices, or better yet be left in a stagnant period.  Nobody in life ever wants to be stagnant. Those that do are the ones that live with fear, or better yet have settled with their fear(s).

As an individual, it is rare that I believe in buying into things like this–giving attention to a group of people who aren’t worthy of it, but sometimes that is not an option. Sometimes, you have to face the naysayers, attention seekers, the Donald Trumps , doubters and haters and give them what they want.  I’ve experienced this both in my personal and business life. For as stubborn as I am, I’ve realized that  I have to do things I would prefer not to for the sake of moving forward. And in those few times, I always opt for the open, truthful roads because I want to keep my steps moving toward my goal.

As a business owner, it is important to realize that here will always be dissenters and lynch mobs, and if you feed them, or allow them to be fed, they will polarize. There are ways  respect the media that we live with today and be transparent all while using them to our advantage and being successful business owners and leaders. Yesterday, President Obama showed America that he heard what was being said and that he is a leader, one that is willing to face his opposition for the sake of moving forward. That is the kind of business owner I aspire to be as my company continues to grow. I hope it is the same for you.

Remember how I had said I’d post my favorite articles from the month a week before the end of the month, oh about a month ago?

Well, I completely forgot.

Not because I was ignoring writing the post, either, but because I had so many other thoughts going on in February about work and potential blog posts that well, I forgot to keep track of postings/articles that I really loved. In other words, I don’t have many articles to send your way, but I do have three things that I came across/discovered/took part of in the month of February that I want to share. Oooo…I’m not a lost case after all!

1.  Etsy Success Symposium, 2011

Etsy hosted their first all day event. It was filled with wonderful entrepreneurial women like myself who sell crafts through their website. I attended. And it was a great day for many reasons–the information, the speakers, the food, the energy, all of the wonderful new people I was able to connect with. It truly was an amazingly full of inspiration day! Even the speaker on copyright and legal issues was bubbly and turned legal jargon into fun and digestible pieces of information. And then there was the singing CPA. He was maybe my favorite–a man who loves his numbers while singing songs about them at the same time. Awesome!

What really got me was the wealth of knowledge the room held–long time crafters, makers and vendors (table/ festival sellers and online sellers).  The speakers all have information to offer on running businesses because they own businesses. They were all women whose blogs I read and look forward to their insight. The best insight I got the whole day was from a woman named April Bowles of Blacksburg Belle, who talked about getting clear about your money so that you can figure out what roads to take that will help you get there business wise. SO IMPORTANT!  It also helped reiterate another session I went to called “The Greedy Crafter.” The speaker, Lorrie Vesey, of LennyMud, talked about how often times we think artists are not supposed to make money and so the word “greedy” has a negative connotation, but it shouldn’t.

A lot of the time, we talk about making money, but we’re never truly realistic about the number. Many artists, women especially, think that we’re supposed to be the “starving artist” and be happy not making money, just making art, but the reality is we’re not. I know I wouldn’t be happy. I have a life style that I wouldn’t mind scaling back on, but I have just the same.

Being able to live with what I make comfortably is what really matters to me, now. If I wanted luxury, I’d figure out how to climb the corporate ladder! Instead, I want a creative enterprise, where I can be happy and healthy while helping other people be happy. As I have stated before, without customer satisfaction, money is irrelevant, at least in my business. Those are my realistic goals for my business. I don’t think they’re far-fetched or irrational.

Oh,  one more thing,  I would  like to make money to continue to do some traveling here and there.

Alas, given that I’ve been dealing with questions about money,  increasing prices and evaluating my work and my time, I’ve been thinking about making the most of my pieces. When I think about my work, I know without a doubt that I can sell and be successful off of it because of what I can offer — another great topic discussed on multiple levels by different people. As a matter of fact, one of the most challenging sessions was toward the end (it was a long day), when Michelle Ward, the “When I Grow Up Coach,” asked us to fill out work sheets describing ourselves. This culminated in each of us having an elevator pitch. I failed this project and it made me realize that I need a better handle on describing what I do.  So I have a new focus, and a new blog posting/series to write about (stay tuned).

While these aren’t specific articles, I know, Etsy, has a few of the sessions via video stream in their community section. I highly recommend you check them out!

2. pinterest.com

I am absolutely and completely obsessed with pinterest.com! I know that I’m not going to do the website enough justice, but it is an incredible tool for those who are tired of making lists on random pieces of paper of things they’ve seen online that they want to remember for that one day soon, when they have an occasion to get dressed up for, or a house to furnish. Like me.

The premise is that you create boards of your favorite images online. You can name the boards anything you want and you stick to a theme.  For example, I have a board that is of quotes that I love.  I also have a board called “My style” and “puppy love.” I have 12 boards now, I think, but I have so much fun putting them together. It’s incredible how one little button called, “pin it” can bring me so much happiness.

I suppose what I really love about it is that it’s a virtual vision board. Thanks to being inundated with images and graphics, daily there’s just not enough space to contain all the favorites. But now I can have my “real” vision board on my wall at home and my virtual vision board where I can keep track of all the things I can’t print and hang on my wall.

Currently, pinterest.com is by invitation only, although I did submit an email to get added to the invitation list, which worked because I’m now a member. I highly recommend this site!

3. Forbes Magazine

Below resides an actual article.  Promise. I graduated in 2002 from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. It’s a long story for another day, but I knew with every fiber in my being that GWU was the school for me. It was my first “love at first sight” moment (I have only had two of those moments).   It is going on nine years since I graduated and I’m still fairly active–I update the English Department on my whereabouts and doings, attend alumni events,  mentor recent grads occasionally, as well as, donate money from time to time.  Two months ago, they offered me membership in this business group with a free subscription to Forbes Magazine. I figured why not. It’s good to be connected sometimes. What I wasn’t expecting was my interest in Forbes mag. I have gotten several issues and I’m hooked! I have enjoyed almost every article I’ve read and I really like their entrepreneur articles. They’re informative and eye-opening.

In the last issue for February, an Op/Ed piece by Rich Karlgaard titled, Ten Tips: Great Restructuring Winners really got my blood pumping. I even ripped out the article to put in my “business planning” folder.

My favorite points are, well all of them, but: design, speed, service, internal communications, external communications, brand and purpose. I know, it seems like I just picked all of them, but I didn’t. I simply picked the ones that seem the most relevant to me as a new entrepreneur. In this moment, I am obsessed with design, brand, service, purpose and communication.

I selected internal (and external) communications because while this may be a one woman show, I need to be open and honest with myself at all times. One of my great frustrations is that I haven’t learned to face my boss the way a man might and be comfortable with that. Instead, I let emotions get in the way. This could be for a variety of reasons, but  I know it’s bad.  And I know that moving forward in my own business, I need to make sure that I can be comfortable with talking honest with myself (which I can, mostly) and also conveying that to future employees (I can’t believe I just said/thought that!). Nobody wants to work for someone they don’t like/can’t trust/hate talking to and I refuse to become that type of boss. Not to mention, you can already imagine the effect it would have on any and all external communication.

Brand and design seemed to be good to combine because I am designing my brand and branding my design (I was an English Lit major, give me a break). Any designs that I do must go along with my branding guidelines and mission and my business branding needs to fit along the lines of whatever I design, otherwise, I will be conflicted. I want to point out that I am not saying that this will restrict my designing and branding whatsoever, but I want to make sure that at the core of my design and brand are the values I want to carry down the long road known as S2.

Finally, service and purpose. These two could easily go along with communication, but I separated them and combined them together because I think in order to provide service (which should be the most important value to any business, large or small), you need to understand your company purpose.  By purpose, I mean what IS that you’re doing? and why? and what exactly are you hoping to accomplish?. Without this, you’ll be lost forever, not to mention you’ll leave many clients and potential clients, confused, or lost to the point where they won’t return.

None of the points, or the article itself, seem very innovative (regardless of the heading it sits under), but it helped remind me of what should be key business points for every business, young or old.  And this is the kind of information you need when plotting and planning for business and world domination. Especially in a world where information abounds and can be overwhelming.

I hope your designing, building, planning, thinking and plotting is going well. If you have any articles to share, please do, other wise, stay tuned for the next two postings this week and Happy Marching!

I have quite a bit to say. It seems as though my blogging ebbs and flows the way life does. Some days, I really struggle for topics to write about and then other days, I’m bombarded with thoughts. It’s amazing how that happens, isn’t it? I wonder if other people experience the same thing. If I were a smarter blogger, I would jot the thoughts down and space them out for those days when I am struggling. E viola! I just gave myself an organization tactic. A.W.E.S.O.M.E.

Now because I am not going to apply this organization tactic today, or this week for the matter (Hooray, it’s Friday!),  keep in mind that this post may be a bit long and have a ton of thoughts racing through it (much like my mind), but there are a lot of gems in here.

First:

While perusing/reading Mashable yesterday, I came across the following article: “11 Recommendations for the Entrepreneur’s Bookshelf.”  The first book suggested is “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac. Considering that it is one of my all time favorite books, I immediately decided to like the selections.  I try to follow reading books for business owners and entrepreneurs, but there are a million books and between trying to get through “War and Peace” and “Tactics for New Businesses”  (not sure if that’s even a real title, I just typed it), I tend to choose “War and Peace.” Either way, I will commit to reading as many of the 10 books I haven’t read this year.

Second:

You know that moment when the lighting bolt flashes above your head? I do! I’ve had it happen once before, when my business came into focus and now, this week, again. I’ll only state now, this week, again for the two ideas that just hit my face the way an egg might a door on Halloween. That may have just been a bad analogy, but you get the point.  The idea didn’t leave a mess of yolk and whites running down the door, but it did muddle my brain a bit. The fact is both ideas need a wee bit of planning and fine tuning. BUT they are both doable and in the works.

I apologize for being so cryptic, but the fact is, I kind of have to be. I don’t want to release too much too soon.  Either way, one of the lighting bolts will see me across the world, learning, engaging and exploring. I will be documenting it on this blog. I have a tentative schedule right now and a HUGE plan to save money because I’m going to need it. But the reality is that it IS going to happen now. My brain is submerged in the thought of it and where it will take me and I can’t wait to formally announce it and share it with my family, friends, customers, readers and maybe even the world?

The second lighting bolt will take me on an exploration of mail and sentiment. This one I can be a bit more open about. I am still working out the fine details of how I can make this work, but it’s essentially the resuscitation of snail mail. I know, you’re wondering where did it go? Well, electronic mail is a HUGE factor, but really, I think people have just gotten lazy and they don’t know how to write.  Either way, I just can’t imagine a world without stamps and letters. I LOVE stamps. I collect stamps. Even international stamps and I think nothing is greater than getting a real piece of mail with a stamp and looking at the pattern and design. Nothing says, “I love you” like a nice piece of solid stamp.  There will be way more on this because I really genuinely believe I’m on to something here, but you know…stay tuned!

Third:

Because I am a promoter of social good in business, I want to announce that my Valentine’s Day themed items on sale now at Etsy are under a promotion. 25% of all sales made through the love collection will go to an organization working in Haiti. Ideally, the organization will be helping to create a sustainable Haiti, not just work with the people. If I find an organization that is working to plant trees, recycle materials to help build hospitals, houses and businesses, even better, but those are my requirements.  I want a stronger Haiti that can live with a natural Haiti.

Valentine’s Day for me, a single woman in her 30th year, is not a dreadful day. It’s a great day, full of love. There are so many ways to achieve love aside from serious/partner relationships. I am not inadequate or less because I don’t have a boyfriend. Heck, I have at least 100 friends that love me and my mom and my brothers and the rest of my family. Hardly lacking. More importantly, the day is a day to share love…with people that are lonely. It is a day to show the world that we do care and that is why the Valentine’s Day collection is supporting Haiti. We must care about our fellow brothers and sisters.  You can view my collection on duh, Etsy.

Whew, that’s that! Again, stay tuned…

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