Archives for posts with tag: Mashable

I did a lot of reading this month, I just don’t know that it’s properly reflected in this month’s list of favorite articles.

In the process of reading, I discovered that I am always behind and not reading the things I want to read like “War and Peace”. So I’ve decided that come 2012, I’m going to go light on the business reading and heavy on the personal reading. While I enjoy the materials I read for business purposes, I really need to expand my brain and vocabulary more on the personal front.  Moving toward 2012, I’ll make sure to step up my business reading game so you guys know where and what to read. Not only will these issues will be lighter and more reflective of not everything that gets me excited, but what I consider are must reads.

Below are my recommendations for October.

BUSINESS:

What is YOUR brand? Have you got it figured out? Maybe you’re on the cusp of having a brand? Wherever you are, read this posting and get your brand together! http://www.themogulmom.com/2011/10/your-brand/

Megan Auman of Crafting MBA discusses the importance of images and why they are so important. http://www.craftmba.com/2011/10/04/image-is-everything/

I need to read this and reread this and do again and again until I’ve got it. Some great PR tips for a new company. http://mashable.com/2011/10/10/pr-startups/

Raising your rates. A topic we all despise. I think because we don’t want to lose existing customers, but Tara Gentile is here, along with DailyWorth to give some insight and encouragement to those who are considering raising their prices and who want to raise their prices. Good luck! http://dailyworth.com/posts/935-What-to-Expect-when-You-Raise-Your-Rates

The List of things to Not Do, courtesy of Inc., Magazine. I love quite a few of these, especially the bit about presentations. Awesome! http://www.inc.com/magazine/201110/the-dont-do-lists-for-running-a-business.html

This is more about networking and specifically for women, but I love the humor behind the article and the voice of the author. Larry’s points about promoting, breaking into rooms you aren’t invited to, and focusing on one person at each event to remember are great things to remember as you try to work through the networking ladder. Every event I attend, I give out cards, but really focus on talking to the same people throughout the session. I also try to email them as soon as possible after the event to not just remind them of me and my company, but to let them know I remembered them. It’s a good balance.  http://www.women2.org/networking-as-a-woman-a-mans-perspective/

This article has some GREAT tips for entrepreneurs. I’m attached to the author’s second tip about not being afraid of experimenting. So glad I read those thought-provoking questions- it kind of kicked my butt in motion to get moving BIG picture with small action. http://www.women2.org/build-your-business-empire-by-thinking-big-and-starting-small

I seriously HEART this article by Blacksburg Belle about following trends. She’s spot on about why not to follow them, unless you have trendy clients. So read it and if you’re like me, be smug in your quirky self and business. http://www.blacksburgbelle.com/2011/10/one-big-way-creative-entrepreneurs-waste-time-how-to-stop/

YOU:

I suffer from “superwoman/hero” syndrome. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s damn hard. But I like this article, a lot because it reminds me that it’s okay not to be super woman. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to make priorities rather than just try to make everyone happy. So read this if you’re like me and sigh a little sigh of relief. It’s easier once you realize you can’t do everything. Woot! http://www.themogulmom.com/2011/10/the-best-you/

This one is good! I love Heather’s 25 tips to nurture yourself. So true and so awesome! Start them NOW. Okay, maybe not now (I haven’t started mine yet), but you know gradually. First on my list wake up 30 minutes earlier. Yay for me time! http://www.themogulmom.com/2011/10/nurture-yourself/

I’ve talked on other sections of my blog about my debt (it’s kind of an irritant), but what’s more is my desire to rid myself of my debt and this time I’m SERIOUS. Some of these tips are awesome and help give you a jumping pad for ways to start saving/cutting back/killing debt where it matters. Good luck! http://dailyworth.com/posts/934-Top-6-Budget-Tips-from-Readers#articlejump

So I love that this woman is happy with her full-time job and is still pushing away at her side business. I think that is normally the case when someone loves not only what they do, but who they do things with. If you’re not lucky like that and the fire has gone out for you and you REALLY want to leave and pursue your passion and dream company, I say DO IT! If you fail, well you can always look for a dream job in an office already established, or try again elsewhere.  http://www.lauraroeder.com/2011/10/follow-your-passion-and-keep-your-day-job

This should have it’s own topic heading as well, but I think the quotes from some incredible rising women in business are more great motivators and inspiration for you as you move forward. http://www.women2.org/10-tips-to-rise-to-the-top-dare-to-dream

ENTREPRENEURSHIP:

This article single-handedly describes how I feel about working in Corporate America. I’ve realized that I do want to offer skill-based education and jobs, but they won’t be as earth shattering or staggering as Google, or any other large company and for the most part, I seek to do better for the planet, but maybe this will give people an idea of why so many are leaving Corporate positions to seek their own happiness. Furthermore, I’m interested in how Corporations will view this flight. Hmm… http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-15082998

CUSTOMERS: This is a new topic, but I felt that I couldn’t just keep adding to business this month.We’ll see if “customers” manages to stick in future months.

Anyhow, this article about learning how to change the way people behave, really caught my eye. I believe that success comes to those that are transparent and really work with clients. I also believe strongly that things happen when consumers and people alter their habits and thought processes, but I don’t know that it should be up to the companies to change the way a person thinks. That mentality has led us to an extremely wasteful culture. IF a company has good intentions, then I’m okay with it. If they don’t, I’m a bit unsure that I agree.  http://www.women2.org/startup-lesson-learned-how-to-change-the-way-people-behave

ENDINGS:

This is a new topic! Chris’s post about what to do when a big adventure comes to an end really resonates with me. If you’re a goal oriented person like me, even more so. I’m always looking for a new adventure and path to take after closing another chapter. http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/the-sense-of-loss-in-a-big-adventure

LIFE:

I put this under life because really, who does make the rules? More importantly why do we follow them ( societal standards aside)? http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/questions-to-ask-of-the-people-who-make-the-rules

I really like these ideas for life practices, not just business practices. Knowledge is the basis of everything, any good, smart Sagittarius (like me) will tell you that, so keep trying to learn, constantly in every area of your life. You’ll be better off for it. http://smartblogs.com/leadership/2011/10/21/improve-your-knowledge-daily/

FINANCES:

http://www.themogulmom.com/2011/10/common-financial-pitfalls-entrepreneurs

DESIGN:

I read this article and I really didn’t like Jen Bilik or her company Knock Knock. I’m not just saying that because I view her as competition. It’s rare that I view most people in “stationery” as my competition. I don’t say that out of cockiness. I say it simply out of a sense of I make what I make and they make what they make. Some people will like my “competitors” work more than mine and that’s fine. I’m not trying to appeal to the masses. I’m trying to appeal to the different and quirky people. Knock Knock’s stuff is cute, but it’s Jen’s persona that I don’t like. I don’t think I’m being judgey either. The tone of the entire article threw me off and wasn’t endearing. Maybe it’s just me, but I put it under here because she’s a designer and she runs a design operation and so it’s worth checking out. http://www.inc.com/magazine/201110/the-way-i-work-jen-bilik-of-knock-knock.html

What are the characteristic’s of a leader? This article helps, but I tend to think every leader is a bit different. Either way, if you’re searching for leaders and what makes leaders, start here.  http://www.inc.com/magazine/201110/the-characteristics-of-a-great-leader.html

I’m an optimist and a designer and an entrepreneur, which is why it makes sense that I dig this article. I think the points made are valid and worthy of deeper consideration. The design community can make waves as they have been for centuries. Rise up!  http://www.fastcodesign.com/1665120/designers-are-the-new-drivers-of-american-entrepeneurialism

This GEM could go in any topic, but it’s under design because when it comes to designing and being creative, you shouldn’t wait or put things off. Even if it’s a failure, it is worth working on and working on until you get it to your liking. The more you practice the better you create. Sometime I must keep in mindhttp://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/never-save-it-for-later/?awt_l=8ByzZ&awt_m=JNw1ZHdA5snt7W

Until November’s list, brush up on these. Oh and share your favorite articles, too. Please? You never know when you’re helping someone out!

Hi Readers!

This post was meant to go out yesterday, but in the flurry of, “WHAT?! It’s already May 31st?!” and my cousin graduating high school, I got a bit behind. Regardless, May was a doozy and you’ll soon find out! I can honestly say that all the printing, cutting (I don’t have cuts on my hands to show how much I’ve been cutting, but I did grow tired of the cutting machine soon after beginning), I am seeing the fruit of my labor.

Between Sunday and Monday morning/afternoon/evenings I found myself wrapping some stationery product in the wrappers I’ve created and sealing with my new labels. All I can say is that it was/is one of the most gratifying and exciting feelings EVER! Well, one of them.  See, I often feel this way after completing a customized stationery order. The difference here is that these products haven’t been tested. I’m taking a risk and accepting my love for them and hoping that people, especially people who attend the concerts at Celebrate Brooklyn!, will love them, too, or at the very least like them a bit more than just like and a little less under love (I think that’s a happy medium!), to buy them.

Anyhow, in the mix that was, and still is Celebrate Brooklyn! production and completion (I have less than a week! Eeps!), I have done some great reading and the links are all below. There should be more, but I’m running a bit behind on my reading schedule and so c’est la vie, until I change that. Until then, enjoy the following. Oh and happy June!

FUN

I LOVE to knit! I’m currently knitting right now. I think this is a great idea for anyone who knits and loves to throw parties. Fun, fun! http://www.designspongeonline.com/2011/03/hunt-gather-and-host-a-knitting-party.html

I LOVE this idea! What if I made you a recycled newspaper scarf (there goes that knitting again!)? http://greenupgrader.com/2138/handspun-recycled-newspaper-yarn/

SUCCESS:

Funny isn’t it how when you’re feeling a certain way things have a knack for finding you. Or better yet, the way you feel brings you the things you need the most? This section is all about dealing with what I experienced earlier this month. I didn’t feel like a failure as much as things aren’t happening as fast as I want them. Alas, I got things under control and reigned in my emotions, but the day I decided to man up, I read these articles and was wowed at how timely they were.

I don’t know that I suffer from these three obstacles, but I can see how anyone can and it’s important to know that there are out there and that you can stop them. http://handmadesuccess.com/2011/05/the-three-obstacles-in-your-way-to-success/

I need to print this and carry it around with me always. Some great tips! http://zenhabits.net/small-scale/

ANY article that starts off with, “Ignorance and arrogance are the artist and entrepreneur’s indispensable allies. She must be clueless enough to have no idea how difficult her enterprise is going to be—and cocky enough to believe she can pull it off anyway.” has my vote from the beginning. My other favorite, “Fear saps passion.” Don’t let it sap yours! Keep reading!  http://the99percent.com/tips/7017/Overcome-Resistance-and-Get-Out-of-Your-Own-Way

I am a loyalist to Chris’s thoughts and philosophies. Maybe because they are like mine. Either way, this article is for everyone struggling like me to get out of bed and do a job that you’re not so passionate about. http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/the-good-job/?awt_l=8ByzZ&awt_m=1gDDRXsrPsnt7W

This article is SO SPOT ON! READ IT! http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/redefining-risk/?awt_l=8ByzZ&awt_m=1gFN.uLhPsnt7W

Practice, Practice, Practice and wake up loving it! http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/rain-running/?awt_l=8ByzZ&awt_m=1fnpF3zDjsnt7W

This one goes under success because it’s about how we place value on what we’re selling. Very important. http://www.craftmba.com/2011/05/25/what-are-you-really-selling/#comment-28538

Megan is just spot on. Really, I just just make my monthly favorite’s a dedicated spot for Megan because I post a lot of her articles. This one is just as true as the above. As someone who is in the “stationery/paper” industry, I know how easy it is to do what other people are doing, which is why I try not to. I know it’s not just my industry either, I know it happens in jewelry and clothes. So ask why and then stay focused on that way. I know that’s what I’m doing! http://www.craftmba.com/2011/05/17/standing-out-by-starting-with-why/

LANGUAGE:

Oh, Irony. Do you know how to use it? http://www.prdaily.com/writingandediting/Articles/8206.aspx

YOU:

I definitely over think. It’s not good. However, I also know that without overthinking about somethings, I would not have grown as exponentially as I have in the last year. It’s a give/take. Some things definitely need to be overthought, most does not. The question is how do you figure out which do and don’t and how do you stop it from taking over? This is powerful! http://www.happiness-project.com/happiness_project/2011/05/do-you-fall-into-the-trap-of-overthinking.html

I have always been 100% behind being Sara. Always. I hate being grouped. I hate being asked what where I come from. I really dislike when people label me in general. Which is why I’m adding this article by Chris Guillbeau, of course, to the list this month. When you’re an entrepreneur, you are different and it is a good idea to come to terms and accept that you’re not going to fit into any one particular box. http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/hello-my-name-is/?awt_l=8ByzZ&awt_m=1dQ9gJL1Msnt7W

And just when I wanted to go out and buy something pricey, I read this and remembered why I love, and have always loved, that full-of-himself man named Thoreau. http://www.dumblittleman.com/2011/05/thoreaus-guide-to-living-more-by.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DumbLittleMan+%28Dumb+Little+Man+-+tips+for+life%29&utm_content=Google+International

BUSINESS:

I didn’t graduate from Syracuse, or in May of 2011, but I swear he was talking to me! http://mashable.com/2011/05/16/dennis-crowley-syracuse-graduation/

I tell myself “Sara, YOU are an artist” almost every day. It’s worth it and it reminds me why I love doing what I do. http://www.artbizblog.com/2011/03/art-has-value.html

I’m always thinking about sustainability and business and how S2 is going to be a sustainable business. I love articles that show how you can keep being sustainable, doing good and make profits. THIS is the area all businesses should REALLY be looking into. http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/20/how-many-business-models-can-one-company-have/

This posting is so good! I am a knitter by hobby, which means I enjoy the entire creative process involved and end up making blankets and scarves and the like for friends and loved ones, but more than just enjoying knitting, I love how Tammy writes about the lessons behind knitting. As I read this posting, I definitely agreed with what she has learned and realized that I’ve never truly explored all then ways and things you can learn from knitting. Often times, I talk about lessons I’ve learned from running, etc, but there are lessons to behold in everything we spend our time exploring.  http://rowdykittens.com/2011/04/knitting/

This one is GOOD! So good! When I read it early in the month, I was struck at how timely Megan is with the two ceilings that an entrepreneur can hit. The question is how will I tackle this? Working on a strategy! http://www.craftmba.com/2011/05/04/growth-ceilings-and-scalability/

Do you sell on Etsy? Are you curious about finding certain data in your analytics? READ THIS! http://www.etsy.com/storque/seller-handbook/web-analytics-whos-found-you-through-the-taste-test-12747/#comment-507008

I wrote a blog last week about scarcity and the implications of it and then Ms. Megan went and wrote about making one-of-a-kind products. Go figure! She’s right, though! http://www.craftmba.com/2011/05/18/turn-your-liability-into-an-asset-or-how-to-wholesale-limited-edition-products/

To trade show or not? I’m not nearly trade show ready, BUT I really enjoyed reading Megan’s (yes, another article by her) take on this and I also really loved her comment, “Despite all our reliance on technology and social media, we still crave physical connections with people and objects. ” Read the full article and watch the video response: http://www.craftmba.com/2011/05/20/icff-innovation-and-the-future-of-trade-shows/

MONEY:

Yeah, what does it mean to have money? I’ve never really had money, just enough to keep paying debt. But what about when I do (because I will!)? What then? Tara Gentile, gives a great thought about this on Daily Worth. http://dailyworth.com/posts/756-What-Does-It-Mean-to-Have-Money-#articlejump

SOCIAL INTERNET:

I came across this article on The Atlantic on May 12th and understood it immediately. I have used Groupon and I’ve definitely overspent in the case of restaurant coupons, but I’ve often wondered how exactly do both parties benefit from the program. I’ve also noticed that the deal that roped me in is not the same caliber of deals that are being offered currently and so I end up deleting the emails and paying less and less attention to the whole online discount coupon programs that seem to be popping up every way you turn. Needless to say, I think this is a great way to begin really looking in-depth at the cases of these programs, especially for small and new business owners.  http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/05/why-does-groupon-work/238706/

Following the article above, I present this article, which you can find in the above article. This is a first hand account of a business owner who used Groupon last year and lost big time. Sometimes it’s important to hear about experiences especially when they are open and honest. It’s also a great way to learn that somethings are not always what they seem. I’m curious to know how many other businesses have stories like this and if they’d be willing to share them. http://posiescafe.com/wp/?p=316

Just 29 days until the next list of articles!

I came across this article on Mashable.com a while ago titled, “Why the End of Scarcity Will Change the Economics of Everything [Opinion].”

I remember bookmarking it because I naturally had an opinion about it, but I wasn’t quite sure what. Clearly, I needed it to simmer in my brain until today, when I know exactly what are my thoughts.

The first time I read the article, I disagreed completely, but I think my perspective was a bit cloudy (hence the bookmarking), but upon the second reading, I decided that I agree with the author to an extent. The extent is technology. In the past 10+ years, technology has advanced and continues to advance at a rate that can at times be overwhelming. Clearly, I am old enough to remember when computers were integrated in classrooms, although to be honest, I didn’t start actively using a PC on a daily basis until the 10th or 11th grade.  I also remember getting our first computer at home.  That computer was just a box with a dark screen that had a typing program where I typed almost all of my high school papers.  I also naturally remember when we got the next generation of computer just before I went off to college. Our internet connection was modem and I can hear the AOL connection noise in my head as I type this sentence. It really is amazing how in the last 12 years, things have changed. I got my first desktop my sophomore year of college and then two years later, having grown tired of having to move it, got my own laptop. Now, my laptops are skinnier, way cooler looking, and made by Apple.

All of the above doesn’t even touch upon the changes in the last 12 years that the internet has created in how we read and write content, receive our news (whether it be correct or not),  purchase items, plan our vacations/trips, share news with friends and colleagues, and interact on the whole. I know I’m missing a few things here, but I remember when I first signed up for Friendster. Then it was MySpace and eventually went into Facebook. I remember when Facebook was just for college students and I, already a college grad,  had to listen to my younger friends talk about the world of Facebook. Then I remember joining Facebook and the onslaught of other social media platforms that have essentially changed the way we think, or as some would say “enhance the way we share”.

I also remember the immediate love of the share, knowing what was going on and updating my life every minute that I could.  Now, I also am aware of the backlash of all of that. I have changed the way I share. Yes, I’m still open. Yes, I share my thoughts, my activities, my vacations, but I’ve also become a bit more secretive. I don’t want you to know that I’m sitting in a bar with my best friend, and I really don’t think you need to know what I am eating for lunch right now.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t use social media because I do, but I’ve learned to share what I REALLY want to share, what seems genuine and unique than sharing my every movement or photo.

This is where the article comes in because the author is correct that as we generate content on the internet, access is not scarce. The more she share, provide, and create, the less scarce content becomes. No longer is news just created by professional journalists who write for newspapers. News comes through Twitter and on Facebook by average citizens of the world. And now journalists are in the position of being on the front lines even more than before to get news before the average citizen does. They may have a better skill set in reporting the news, but they’re in a race against the average citizen to still be relevant. The same goes for photography. I know on any given day as I walk the streets of NY, I see every second person with a SLR camera. They are documenting, or attempting to document the nitty gritty of life.  Pictures are uploaded to Facebook  at rates that are ridiculous (750 million photos uploaded to Facebook over New Year’s weekend)! Yet, there’s still that skill level that differentiates an amateur from a pro, and yet there are more photograph options. Average people are capturing moments faster than the pros.

And then there is blogging (myself included!).  Almost everyone has a blog, although that doesn’t always mean they are good, but it makes finding thoughts, perspectives and opinions (like this) abundant and never-ending.

With so many options, scarcity in the technological realm does not exist and companies that do attempt to create it are fooling themselves. So score for the author! But what about art in other genres? What about the validity of the content and the production?  More importantly what about the lack of scarcity on the environment when it comes to tangible items? You may or may not have been expecting me to go this angle, but again, as I sat last night surrounded by paper, I really understood where my initial disagreement with this article began.

As you know, I make stationery and invitations. I’ve recently run into the issue of not having inventory. Why? Well because I’ve created custom products for many clients. I’ve done so much custom work that I haven’t needed to actually create pieces that I can wholesale or just have available for tabling events.

So what did this girl do?

Well, she, I, started designing, creating and recreating pieces. She started imagining things she could make and might be of interest for her first tabling event. In other words, she started to produce inventory.  And it was exciting! It was exciting to go through bins of paper she’s been hording for two years to see what she could create.  It was also exciting to set a limit. To realize that these are custom pieces, without being customized, and they are unique and therefore scarce.

Oh no! Have I created the idea of scarcity?

No.

First of all, there are a million stationery designers in the world, so clearly everyone is operating on a no scarcity level, but my products are scarce because of a decision I’ve made and because of a few external issues beyond my control.

The materials I work with are subject to discontinuation, discoloration, and more importantly lack of inventory. If I buy handmade paper from India tomorrow, there is no guarantee that six-months down the road that paper will still be available. Or that the paper if it’s handmade, will be the same color as the first time. Handmade products that are dyed often have an issue where they were created in different batches and can result in the coloring being slightly off. In that case, what am I to do? Keep creating? Well, yes, but in a different way.

My designs change based on that materials I work with.

Additionally, I get a lot of inspiration from nature.  Often, colors in the sky at sunrise and sunset and flowers dictate colors that will be used in my palette for days, weeks ,and months.  Often times, I will recall them through memory or thanks to a photo snapped at that moment. Yet, I’m completely aware that as time moves, I forget the exact colors and that photos, even with the best lens, can not always capture the bright pinks and oranges that your eye does in the moment.  Therefore nature has also created scarcity.

Which brings me to the next point that everything on this planet is not forever. We have a tendency to believe that it is. Our attempts to outmaneuver death don’t really work and yet we are vigilant in trying.  I don’t mean to get on a soap box here or to force my philosophies on anyone, but having worked in a position that has required me to learn and understand Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) and becoming an eco-warrior as I’ve aged, I’ve realized that we are running out of natural resources, which makes the lives we lead now unsustainable for the planet and all living creatures.  As an entrepreneur, paper passionista, and stationery designer I wonder, often, what I can do to conduct my business in a respectable manner for everyone.  I’m still figuring out my plans and my future commitment to CSR, but I know it is one of the strongest considerations as I move forward.

To return to last night, where I sat surrounded by paper (to be honest it was more like the paper blob slowly seeping out of my room into the living room), I knew that I had purchased enough paper to create a certain amount of sets to sell at Celebrate Brooklyn!  Should items sell out, then I’ll know I need to create more, but until I know for certain, I will not produce more product “to be safe”.

I’m not going to lie and say that I have not freaked out by thinking that I won’t have enough product for Celebrate Brooklyn!, because I have. But for each of those moments where I have freaked out, I have also been brought back to earth with the realization that I: 1) have a limited amount of funds (anyone who wants to give me a grant, can by the way!) and 2) I have a limited amount of time. I did not purposely set out to use scarcity as a tactic, but as an artist, I’m instead embracing that sometimes things have to run their course and no one thing can run on forever. Not to mention, I don’t really want to have product sitting around that doesn’t sell, which is a risk that any business runs into.

What I’ve felt all along is that scarcity is not a bad thing. Nor is it something that should be feared. It’s something that should be accepted much like life and death. It is something that reminds us that we are individuals with different tastes and preferences. As consumers, we should also be unique, just as our existence and experiences on this wonderful planet we call home.

I have to admit that I barely read in April. Actually, that’s not true. I did read. I read a ton, but I don’t think you want to read a recap of my romance novels that I plowed through several weekends in April. Instead when you get below, you’ll see links of all the blogs and articles I did read and did enjoy reading and think you can learn from. You know the drill.

But before I get into those articles, I want to include a blog posting written about yours truly, ME, and my work space. I credit the amazing Katie G., who was here, visiting that weekend, and took the picture of my messy, messy space with me in it and the wonderful Stephanie of Metalicious, who also happens to be a member of my Etsy Team, The {NewNew}.  The article, titled, “Workspace Wednesday: Featuring S2 Stationery and Design” is from May, so really should be included in the May Favorites issue of this blog, but since I’m late with April and the posting came out yesterday and it is about ME, I decided to just include it in April’s. It makes perfect sense to me even if not to you. {Insert image of me sticking out my tongue at you, reader who disagrees.}  I think it’s a wonderfully done article and getting Stephanie’s kind words are just the encouragement I need. Thank you, Stephanie!

Now on to my favorite’s of April:

BUSINESS:

Mogul Mom and her article about comedians sharing rather than competing got me REALLY thinking about how businesses can really band together and learn from the simple concept of sharing. I know as a female I’ve often times wondered how much more awesome women would be if we stopped hating each other based on looks and instead decided to share our secrets, history, and lessons with each other.  I don’t just mean sex story swaps either,  I mean, debt story swaps and heartbreak swaps. After all, this is the basis behind any good knitting group or book club, so why not in small business/entrepreneur endeavors? This article made me so happy to have my community of fellow {NewNew}ers because we already do something like this. But what if I got together with another group of stationery makers and created a group where we could share and complain and partner together? Not something that can’t be done, but definitely something that MORE of us should be considering. http://www.themogulmom.com/2011/04/bonding-over-business/

This is a FREE ebook from the wonderful Megan Auman of Crafting an MBA. It is her best articles from the site. I actually have many of them already in my “light reading” binder for S2 inspiration, but I highly recommend that you read this thoroughly and share amongst your friends and family and anyone else trying to make a go of entrepreneurship. Also check out her site. It’s well, great. http://craftmba.com/downloads/bestofcraftmba.pdf

This is incredibly important for all entrepreneurs. I know, especially as a designer that we can get hung up on things such as how perfect our logo is and the reality is that a logo should be noticeable and stand out a bit, but it shouldn’t consume the real nuts and bolts of your business. Megan shares her thoughts here. She rocks! http://www.craftmba.com/2011/04/25/promote-your-product-not-your-logo/

I’d like  a cupcake right now. To eat. Not to learn from. But I did learn a few things from this article. Enjoy!  http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/12269/Marketing-Lessons-From-the-Cupcake.aspx

YOU:

Successful businesses are caused by a variety of different things, but ultimately it comes down to YOU. This article really was a jolt for me to stop being unmotivated or unhappy about things not moving in the direction I want them to, when I want them. Maybe it’ll help you, too: http://rowdykittens.com/2011/04/fearless/

How do you keep the excitement? Chris can tell you how! http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/opening-night/?awt_l=8ByzZ&awt_m=1a6rhPMhosnt7W

Yoga! It is the way to go! And it can help in so many ways and places as you’ll find out. http://www.good.is/post/how-yoga-can-improve-your-looks-and-your-sex-life

THIS article of all the articles is important. What happens when YOU (or ME) don’t have the motivation, or believe that another road is the best road, or better yet that we’re not good enough?  What happens when we just stop? When I’m down, I realize I have to feel the feelings, but then I need to get back up and move because life can be tough, if we let it.http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/the-starving-artist-solves-the-problem/?awt_l=8ByzZ&awt_m=1ZED7h6kpsnt7W#comments

Ah, what is it about O Magazine? I know I’ve written about how inspiring I find Oprah Mag, and once again, it left me breathless. This article is a MUST read for anyone and everyone. Please, share it with everything you know and love. We all have people and situations and even ourselves that we have to forgive. This article will help you take steps to learn forgiveness.  http://www.oprah.com/health/How-to-Forgive-Others-Health-Benefits-of-Forgiveness-Fred-Luskin

CREATIVITY:

Remember how I took a calligraphy class? Well, this article talks about the art of learning handwriting and why it’s so important to not just give into the touch screens and key pads of your electronic gadgets. Another way to think of it that your brain will thank you later! http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/04/handwriting-is-a-21st-century-skill/237998/

I present, “A 12-Step Guide to Fostering Your Creativity” from Mashable because sometimes even us creative types need a refresher on exploring + channeling creativity.  http://mashable.com/2011/04/12/creativity-guide/

TRAVEL/INSPIRATION:

I read a blog by Sherry Ott pretty regularly. Her website is called Ott’s World and she is a nomadic traveler and photographer. She once sat in a cube, but for the past four years has been wandering, learning and sharing her experiences via blog and photos. She’s got amazing talent and I love reading her updates. With that said, she is part of this great and FREE ebook called: “Around the World with 40 Lonely Planet Bloggers”. She shared it with her readers just the other day and so now I’m sharing it with you. (If you like what you see, I suggest you check out Ms. Sherry and learn about her amazing decision to do the Mongol Rally 2011 to help raise money for Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, a charity helps homeless and abandoned children of Mongolia.)  The book inspires me in more ways that I can tell you and I thought it might do the same for you.  http://media.lonelyplanet.com/pdfs/Around_the_world_40_Lonely_Planet_Bloggers.pdf

Travel far and wide, never forgetting to learn along the way!  That’s my motto.  Happy May! More posts soon.

Hi readers!

It is the end of the month. Holy crap, I can’t believe it! I have been scratching my head the past four days trying to figure out where January and February went.  Time IS flying by.  The good news is that I at least know that ups and downs aside, I have had fun. Hooray!

Now, the end of the month has come to mean that my last posting of the month is dedicated to my favorite reads from said month. The articles are all over the place: social media, entrepreneurship, time management, crafting, artistry and more.  I’ve tried to separate them based on their topic, but they all kind of blend together after a while. (BTW, please let me know if you find this topic separation helpful. I will really appreciate the feedback!) Here goes…

Business, Social Media, Entrepreneurship and Tools:

“Then I realized over the years that it’s actually more about right time than real-time. In fact, when information comes through, it doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s the right time to engage, capture it, and share it. I’m more successful now creating a list of information, relevant information, and then repackaging, repurposing, and broadcasting that information at the right time.” -Brian Solis, author of Engage

  • The quote above is one of my favorite that I’ve read this month! I believe wholeheartedly in timing, even though I also believe in moments and living in the moment (real-time).  However, what is most important between the two is knowing when the timing is right.  (Sara, you impatient, spontaneous, woman you, pay attention to your own words here for everything.)  In social media, it’s even more important to know your timing, especially when writing and editing  your own content vs. sharing the content of others. Read the wise words about the importance of curation and creation in this article courtesy of Mashable: http://mashable.com/2011/03/17/curation-importance/
  • Has social media hit a plateau? Good food for thought! This article on Mashable asks the question and follows up with some insight: http://mashable.com/2011/03/16/social-media-innovation-plateau/
  • I am so anti-twitter, but so many love it. I am also trying to balance my social media presence (or lack there of) with real tangible contact and connection. This worksheet is a must for those of you like me, trying to figure out which social media routes to take to help build a better, stronger, and more tangible communication platform. Thanks Mashable, again: http://mashable.com/2011/03/11/social-media-marketing-chart/
  • Last one from Mashable, I promise.  This gem is about brand consistency. For new entrepreneurs (myself, included) this article is a must read. You want to make sure you’re brand is strong and sings, yet rolls with the punches. Here’s some great tips: http://mashable.com/2011/03/22/brand-consistency-social-media/
  • Ah, Chris Guillebeau. You shouldn’t be surprised to see an article about him because I’ve written about him before. Either way, this article is fantastic! Not only does he offer tips on business planning and development, customer service, communication, but most importantly, shares a moment he had with someone he connected with randomly and made a huge impression.  Enough for Chris to promote his business. Articles like this, I appreciate when ruminating on my business. Maybe you will to:  http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/business-secrets-from-a-cambodian-tuk-tuk/?awt_l=8ByzZ&awt_m=1ewVoV.mvsnt7W
  • What is enchantment? What can enchantment mean to you, your business, your clients? Well, Guy Kawasaki kind of has it figured out. And I’m kind of in love with Guy Kawasaki because of this interview. Now, I want to read his book.  Check out this well done interview and let me know if you have, plan to or don’t want to read his book: http://www.bazaarvoice.com/blog/2011/03/17/interview-guy-kawasaki-on-reciprocity-influencers-ecosystems-and-the-art-of-enchantment/
  • This one is a bit tough because I think it can go under the money topic as well, but what it really gets to is pricing. I know I need help with pricing. Always. If you’re like me  (I’m sure you are), you’ll want to check it out: http://www.artsyshark.com/2011/03/26/are-your-prices-unrealistic/
  • Finding your niche is something people desperately look for. I know I’ve been wondering about myself and in discovering what my niche and who my target is, I’ve restructured and tweaked my branding quite a bit. This article by Ms. Megan Auman for Craft MBA is definitely worth the read:  http://www.craftmba.com/2011/03/22/niche-products/
  • Last, but not least in his category is another article from Ms. Auman that talks about our creative vs. business brains. This is a GREAT read, especially for crafters who make things and think they all have to be favorites and sell:  http://www.craftmba.com/2011/03/28/balancing-the-creative-brain-with-the-business-brain/

Time Management, Self Development:

Money:

You:

  • My dear friend, Jolie Guillebeau, is still a new friend, but I love her art, passion, talent and most importantly how sincere and heartfelt she is as a human being. I had the pleasure of meeting her several months ago and I knew that I liked her immediately.  I signed up to receive her newsletters shortly after our meeting and I love reading her words and seeing her work.  Earlier this month, she wrote a wonderful intro to go with a painting that she  recently worked on and it really resonated. She’s right–I’m tired of hearing people make excuses for how they think they’re perceived. Whether we are “beautiful” or not, we all have something to offer and the least important part of it is our looks. I suggest you check out Jolie’s work and read the blog posting called “Forty-seventh. Tired.” from March 17th: http://artbyjolie.com/stories/
  • Ah, the age-old question of should you quit your job before you’re ready? I don’t know that this article answers the question completely, but being that I’ve been debating this myself, I thought I’d share it with all the others in the same shoes: http://www.womeninbusiness.com.au/_blog/Style_and_Substance/post/Should_you_quit_your_job/
  • This article should be listed under “business,” but you know, I read it and wondered about losing my interest in my craft, not my business. I know that many people may have experienced this, or may be on the cusp of experiencing it, which is why I am listing it under “you”. As a crafter, you have to remember what you love about what you’re doing before you wonder about building a business empire. The minute that the flicker of light is gone, you’re in trouble: http://www.thebusinessofbeingcreative.com/2011/03/22/beginners-enthusiasm/

That’s all, friends-happy reading!  I hope you all find these as useful as I did/do. Please feel free to share any articles you love with me. I’m always looking for new perspectives.

Oh and happy last day of March!

This may seem a bit premature, since my favorite articles of February is due out soon, but the two articles below really struck a chord a few weeks ago when I read them. They relate to social good, which is an important thing to me when it comes to business.

I suppose I should share why I feel social responsibility is important. It stems from having a wide variety of jobs in non-profit and for-profit organizations. My first job was for a smallish for-profit. My next two jobs were with non-profits, both heavy in education, but one for the arts and the other for cancer prevention and nutrition. And my last/current job is for a large corporation. Names will be left out, but what each of these jobs has taught me is that it’s not just about the money, regardless if that’s what the company cares about most. What matters most is that businesses engage in healthy business practices in order to create trust with their customers, continue to stay relevant and in business and finally to make money.

A lot of the time, people will hear about the shareholders of a company and how it’s the company’s responsibility to keep the shareholders happy, i.e., make them money. And while that is the case because they do have an interest in the company, they are not the only shareholder.  Think about it this way…if a company makes money off of the earth, their greatest shareholder is the EARTH. They owe it to the source of their income to be fair and to be respectful. This makes complete and total sense to me.  In many cases, the real shareholder is not the top priority and that’s when companies end up in trouble with their other shareholders…their clients.

When a client buys into a brand, a client is trusting that brand. They’re trusting that they aren’t being deceived, or lied to. In the past couple of years, a lot of information has come out showing that brands that I’ve trusted and known my entire 30 years have duped me. They’ve duped me in ways that can be detrimental to me and my health, not to mention the health of the future. In the past two years, I’ve stopped shopping at traditional grocery stores because I can’t trust “regular” brands. I’ve also stopped using many over-the-counter bath products in favor for aluminum-free deodorants, fragrance and phosphate free shampoos, soaps, mousse, creams, etc. My concern is my health. And the fact that these companies choose to overlook the greater health of their clients for the sake of their “stakeholders” and money.

Now this post isn’t to be a rant, or to try to convince you that my way of living is the right and only way because it’s not. My way is only good for my way, but when it comes down to business and how I want to conduct MY business, it’s important to me that I adhere to my personal values and my business practices must reflect that.  It’s also one of the reasons why I’ve become loyal to brands that actually make a difference, or in rooted in practices that help make a difference.

For example, my first article is actually a blog posting by the creator/owner, Blake Mycoskie, of the shoe company TOMS. If you don’t know about TOMS, well now you’re about to find out…I first heard about TOMS thanks to a coworker who had a pair on. I complimented her and all she said was, “they’re expensive.” So I got curious. That curiosity led me to the TOMS website and then the purchase of my first pair and then the subsequent noticing of everyone in the LES of NYC wearing the brand.  Now, normally, I would be against being part of a movement, or rather owning the same thing that so many other people own. I like being a bit unique (okay, maybe a lot unique), but either way, wearing my pair of TOMS, I experience the same feeling I get when I go to a concert…the awareness that we’re all connected for a brief moment/period in a love of something. TOMS is ALL about the love of a greater good. That greater good being humanity.

The concept of TOMS is simple…you buy a pair of shoes and a poor child in a third-world country gets a pair of shoes. With your $60 pair of shoes, you are giving a child the opportunity to be disease free. Every time I put on my gold sparkly TOMS shoes, I know that a child has a pair of shoes in another part of the world and that makes me feel like I’m doing something good, not just being your average American over-consuming person buying another pair of shoes.

What really struck me about this blog posting is that I completely understand what he’s talking about as a socially aware entrepreneur. My two favorite sentences are, ” What I love about being an entrepreneur are the beginnings of things. I love the act of creating, of figuring things out, and of turning nothing into something.” and “And all the while, we were figuring things out… always asking questions and challenging ourselves to think of a better way.”

Days when I think about not having a business plan, I go back to those two sentences. Sometimes it’s about figuring things out and not always about planning things out.  And so Blake Mycoskie’s posting, “Finding Joy and Inspiration in Ethiopia,” really struck home in more ways than I thought possible. Which is why I’m sharing this now, early, today. I think every budding entrepreneur should read this and hopefully will feel as inspired and ready to do something as I did/do.

The second article, “How To: Develop Ideas That Will Disrupt Your Industry” comes from Mashable.com. Another favorite website of mine. It’s an article that connects to this posting in the way of doing something different to upset your “industry.” In my case, it would be cards/invitations/personalized stationery. So what can I do different to set the industry spin? Of course I’m still thinking about this article, but when I think about it in conjunction to TOMS, I conjure thoughts of a large-scale. I mean, how disruptive is TOMS to the shoe industry? I think very. Some may not agree, but I think they may just be in denial.

This article is a must read because I often times think that people create a business without always thinking outside the box. I’ll take myself for example. I make cards and invitations and personalized stationery. I don’t know that there’s anything innovative about this industry. If anything, the more designers that graduate, the more saturated the industry becomes with cards that are luke-warm funny and warming.

My take, and I’m still building on this, is that I’m out to take cards back to a place where they’re not so heavy on dripping sentiment or witty one-liners/phrases and curse words. They are to focus on YOU, the writer and communicator. Again, not too far-fetched, but this allows me to build on design strategies that are different and unique. And it allows the buyer to think differently about how and what they are willing to purchase to share their feelings.  This article helps to ignite my passion in another direction, in a way, where I need to think outside the box, be creative, and set the industry on its tail. Wish me luck! I’m wishing you luck, too, if you’re out to make a positive change and set the world on fire.

So read both articles, carefully and as many times as you must to let it sink in and inspire you.  The rest of the articles will be out by next Monday.

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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