Archives for posts with tag: The Art of Non-Conformity

A month ago today, I was in Cleveland, Ohio, on the first leg of my vacation. The second leg would involve traveling to the West Coast to Portland, Oregon to attend a conference of epic proportions, The 2012 World Domination Summit.

I should start off by saying that the trip was an amazing experience and was worth every day and every dime spent. I got to spend time with family that I don’t get to see that often, as well as friends who are like my family. In fact, they are so much like family, I’m considered their sister-from-another-mother.

From there, I flew West to Portland, Oregon. It was my first time out there and I’m so glad I went. I needed Portland the way a crack head needs crack. I was undergoing an emotional experience that began before I left for Cleveland and culminated with purchasing a dozen donuts and shipping them to New Jersey (I later learned that they were covered in insects and so it wasn’t quite the surprise I was going for, but the gesture was not lost).

I suppose this post is going to be a lot more about love than I had originally intended, but you know, when it comes to writing, I often let the feelings in my heart dictate the message of each post.

I have spent most of the year, since February, in a state of anxiety, excitement, and fear. To many, it is not typical Sara.

See, I learned back in 2009, after my father passed away, that many, so many people, had expectations of me. I’m not one to shirk expectations because I have high expectations of those in my life as well. But I felt the burden of those expectations. The number one expectation I realized many had for me was to be happy-to be the sunshine every day. It was hard to find that happy place because I wasn’t happy; in fact, my heart was broken (dad died) and I didn’t know how to get through except to try and make every day go by with as many things possible occupying my time and thoughts.

It was during that time that I started going out drinking more and ending up sick every night. After about two, three weeks, I realized that this wasn’t healthy and that I needed help. So I got help and I realized so many other things that weren’t working: my job, my relationship with my boss, my relationship with myself, my own expectations of myself, and most importantly, what it was I wanted from my life.

One of the first things I realized I couldn’t maintain was the “sunshine, happy Sara” that so many had become accustomed. This included best friends, co-workers, and anyone else I had in my circle. It was definitely a blow, but it taught me to accept that some days I’m not going to be happy go lucky; That some days life is going to suck, even if I don’t want it to; That I can be positive all I want, but if I’m feeling anger, or sadness, or any emotion for that matter, I have to feel it and explore it and become one with it in order to move on.

This leads me back to this post because my head and heart were clouded with a relationship. A relationship that I haven’t always been my best Sara with, but one that I have attempted to nurture over the past two years, but more importantly the last four months. It’s made me question a lot of things, most importantly, “What do I want?”.   A hard question when you try to be a controlling go-with-the-flow kind of person.

Arriving in Portland, allowed me a sense of getting away (I didn’t really know anyone there) while trying to answer this question. I had a few other items on my brain such as my youngest brother’s attempt to find the money to get to school, what my mother is going to do with her life as she goes from having her last child home to no children home, and how can I get my business in order.

A lot of things in my poor little brain, I know. But I went to Portland thinking negatively and looking for release and ended up leaving overwhelmed with positivity and 75% released.

My first night in Portland, I walked and walked. I walked from NW to SW, which might not seem long, but it was quite a few blocks and involved crossing a river. It was a hot evening, too. But it was worth the walk. I found myself surrounded by nine amazing Etsy sellers with unique stories and quite a bit of information to share.

My second day in Portland, I made a friend, met a guy with the same name of the first guy I loved as an adult, Jamison, and walked some more.

Before I get into the details of the second day, I want to touch upon Jamison quickly. We shared a table at breakfast at the hostel we stayed at and we talked a bit. He had long blonde hair, hails from Virginia, and was taking his days off from his job where he researches deer that live on land owned by a lumber company.  He struck a cord with me for two reasons: 1. his name and 2. his laid back attitude. I learned that he didn’t have a room that night in the hostel because it was booked (thanks to the conference) and so he was going to call some people and hopefully find space that night. If not, then as he casually told Emily (my new friend) and I, he would just sleep in his car, or outside somewhere. He told us he had everything to camp out in his car if need be.

Later that afternoon, we bumped back into him while he smoked a pipe and read a book and we chatted some more. He had not heard anything still, but hadn’t lost faith. He’s figure it out.

I never saw Jamison again after that day, but he’s clearly, a month later still in my thoughts. Maybe it’s because I took it as a sign that I bumped into a man with the same name of my first love, as I tried to comprehend my feelings (and our disagreement) for the guy I currently love, whom, I might add, is the second person I’ve truly loved. Or maybe, it is because Portland proved to be a reminder of my past life. Jamison wasn’t the only reminder of my past life. He was the first.  I’m not going to delve too much into this, but I want you to know that Portland holds a very special place in my heart now because of coincidence.

Back to my second day, however…

Emily, my new friend, and I shared a room in the hostel and we met in the kitchen that morning and started talking. I told her what I was planning to do that morning and she asked if she could come along. I said yes, of course. Our first stop was Voodoo Doughnuts and I had a little surprise and magic to make.

Of course, this involves sending doughnuts over night, across country to New Jersey. I can’t tell you what sparked it. I can’t tell you why it had to happen, why I couldn’t have just bought the doughnuts before leaving and hand delivered them. I can not tell you any of these things. What I can tell you is that I was excited beyond belief. I really felt like a magician. I also knew with every fiber in my being that they were going to accomplish what I needed them to.

And so we waited in line, I ordered my doughnuts, including one for me to eat (which melted in my mouth and made me so incredibly happy!), and we found a post office. This all happened before 10am, by the way. With the help of the post office employees, I was able to find a box to fit the box of donuts, I had a magazine in my purse to add as packaging and I mailed them off express mail with the guarantee that they would be there before noon Saturday morning.

Emily, turned to me as we walked out of the post office and said, “I hope this accomplishes what you want it to- you are glowing right now. It’s the right thing to do.” With that, we walked on, explored some of the neighborhood, went to the bank, saw some cool parks, ate lunch, talked a ton, visited Powell’s Books, checked in to the Summit, and attended the official kick-off party. It was an amazing day and creating magic was a great way to start.

The third day was the official first day of the conference and boy what a day it was!

I should state first, that I don’t really like conferences. I’ve gone to a few for past jobs and they’re fun, but I always find networking and talking to people unsettling. I really dislike talking about myself that way. I always find it unsettling to have to explain what I do, or where I work, blah, blah, blah. Meeting Emily, was one of the best starts to the conference because it didn’t start out that way at all. Yes, as we got to know each other we talked about life and our plans and goals and dreams, but that wasn’t how it started and it made such a difference. She was the one person I connected with and I’m glad for her because if not, I don’t know that I would have connected otherwise.

That does not mean that I disliked the conference because I didn’t. I loved the conference. But I think just as much as we want to be surrounded by people who believe the same things, a lot can be said for being surrounded by people that don’t believe in the same things.

Attending the Summit from the perspective of being there not so much to connect, but to listen and watch was what I needed. This goes back to that being sunshine Sara from earlier. That Sara, I have no doubt would have talked to everyone and tried to be friends with everyone there, but the Sara now, had no interest. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy meeting those people, because I did talk to a lot of people those two days, but I didn’t bother to make deep connections. I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing or not, but I can tell you that I don’t think I left the conference with any less than the people who attended and made friends with lots of people.

Back to the first day…

The conference opened with a welcome from Chris Guillebeau, who is the owner of this conference, and immediately gave way into the amazing force of a woman named Brene Brown.  Her talk made me cry. As the rest of the day went on, I heard from a slew of other speakers, all interesting: Scott Harrison of Charity: WaterSusan Cain with Jonathan Fields,  a panel of business owners who started their own businesses and were interviewed by Chris Guillebeau for his latest book, The $100 Startup, and Scott Belsky. I also took a session about photography and went to a smaller session with Brene Brown.

That night, I was so overwhelmed by the first day, that I knew I had to walk around Portland. So I walked to the river and took some pictures and then I decided to pay $12 to attend the Portland Blues Festival and bought some bbq for dinner and listened to a bunch of different blues musicians on a crowded lawn area just along the river. It was amazing! It was also exactly what I needed.  Fresh sounds and air.

The third day in Portland, and the second and last day of the conference was just as powerful. This time I got to hear Chris Brogan, Cal Newport, Danielle LaPorte, Tara Gentile, and J.D. Roth talk. All of them were equally moving discussions. Danielle LaPorte, rocked my world. She was so powerful that I went and bought her “Fire Starter Sessions” to read when I got back home.  There was also a panel where 12 attendees told us about their journeys and everything they’ve done to follow their dreams and get where they are now. Incredibly inspiring stuff, people. Incredibly inspiring stuff.

I am skipping all the juicy bits because I wrote an article that got published on the Etsy blog last week with my favorite key takeaways. You should read those points there, but   one thing that I do want to point out here, that I wasn’t able to on the Etsy blog is something done by Chris Brogan during his session. When we walked into the theater, we were given superhero cards. Chris told us we could trade them if we wanted to, but I kept mine. I kept mine because much like meeting Jamison that Friday morning, or walking across random streets and seeing the names of two of my best guy friends: Mark and Paul, or even seeing the slogan of Voodoo Doughnuts, “Good things come in pink boxes” along the glitter wall, I knew this card was mine. I got “Arch-Enemies: X-Factor vs. Apocalypse”  On the back it says the following:

Each day, new mutants-people born with superhuman abilities-are discovered. While the team of mutant heroes known as X-Factor work to bring about greater understanding between humans and mutants in the hope that someday the two might co-exist in peace, the mysterious mutant villain called Apocalypse believes that mutants must someday destroy mankind, and schemes to weed out those mutants he considers weak while bending the strong to his will.  Although Apocalypse believes that X-Factor is weak because of their wish to defend humanity, they have proven themselves strong enough to defeat his plans of genocide in battle after battle.  (Trademark Marvel Entertainment Group)

I’m still figuring out where and how this card meets with my heart and soul and goals, but I knew upon getting it that this was my card.  I think it speaks of my struggles as a human that sees the good in man kind, but also sees the bad and struggles to be happy living in a city where the bad often times out weigh the good.

At the end of the day, Emily and I walked back to Voodoo Doughnuts, where it all started and walked back home. We stopped at Wholefoods and ate dinner and then headed to the end of the conference celebration which was awesome. It’s a gorgeous space with tons of music history and included amazing bollywood dancing lessons. It was awesome!

Monday morning came and I was scheduled to leave that night, but I was able to get some one-on-one time with myself. I was feeling better having realized that this conference was meant to happen this year. Or rather that I was meant to attend the conference this year (I missed last year’s and it was now, I’m glad I did). But also my feelings regarding the love situation were easing up and we were on better speaking terms. Still, I knew that I needed to tackle of self love and I still am. One walk through the woods and a drive around Mt. Hood and along one of the most stunning views of natural Oregon were not enough to get through the concept of love and appreciation for myself.

Yet, still, my several hours of exploring Oregon’s breathtaking scenic high way to Mt. Hood, was enough to make me say, “NO FUCKING WAY!” once I got off the main highway onto the scenic path. I’m pretty sure that Lewis and Clark exclaimed the same thing when they saw what must have been a more pristine Oregon landscape all those many years ago.

As I drove along, I stopped along the way and saw breathtaking falls and I even crossed a narrow bridge into Washington State as I searched for the Oregon Trail. The drive involved loud music courtesy of the oldies station that I turned on and it happened to be playing one of my dad’s favorite songs.  I kept the windows down (it was a bit chilly that day) and had my hand out the window flying most of the time. I sang, I cried, I thought about where I am and where I want to be. I considered love and my heart. I felt gratitude for this opportunity – to see Mt. Hood, to have spent time with my family, to have heard that being vulnerable is not a bad thing and nothing to shame, to be alive and surrounded by good fortune in the way of friends, family, and people I’ve yet to meet. I also felt gratitude for my job, my talent, my creative energy, and the ability to recall my past and remember how fortunate I’ve always been.

The World Domination Summit 2012 was many things to me, but it was first and foremost an experience in gratitude. It allowed me to take all the negative energy that had been sitting in my gut and heart and move away from it and to find a place where I’m grateful to, hungry for, and ready to accomplish the future.

Further proof of this, goes back to the Sunday, the last day of sessions at the conference. At the end, Chris Guillebeau got on the stage and started talking about the conference and planning the conference and started talking about offers he got for sponsorship and how he declined them because that’s not his thing. He wanted to keep the conference smallish and for us, not have paid advertisements along the way. In other words, this is a conference for the people who truly believe in his message of non-conformity, making a difference and living the life you want.  As he went on, he talked about an attendee from the 2011 Summit who wanted to give money to this year’s Summit. It wasn’t a sponsorship, it was a gift and so Chris accepted. Except, unlike last year, he had a profit from conference sales and so combined with the money given to the Summit by the attendee last year, he had enough money to give 1000 attendees $100. In his own way, he gave us all the chance to be the $100 startup via his $100 Investment.  His message is much more eloquent than how I’ve just described and you can watch him tell us in a posting he put together days after the Summit ended.

As I walked out of the theater in tears, I knew what I was going to do with my $100. I sent it to my Mom to use toward my brother’s education. I consider Travis, my youngest bro, worthy of not just feelings of hope, but of a future where he achieves his dreams and the life he wants. For that opportunity, I can not thank Chris Guillebeau, or the World Domination Summit enough. Again, another lesson in gratitude. There is no guarantee that I will be at next year’s Summit, nor that he will give away $100, but I know that being there this year was exactly as it was meant to be.

Monday night, before leaving, a friend of mine from my DC days who I haven’t seen since moving in 2006, picked me up and we went out for a drink and some dinner. It was awesome to catch up and hear about her life on the West Coast. She dropped me off at the airport and then sent me the sweetest email thanking me for my friendship, support and love.

I’ve never had anyone thank me for loving them before. It was a new feeling. One that I’ll gladly accept and hope to keep feeling.  As she dropped me off, I got a text message from the guy who I had been arguing with, sent the doughnuts to, and realized more than ever that life is a series of coincidences, situations, heart break, and breathtaking experiences that keep us moving and show us that we make the most of every opportunity that comes our way. Portland reminded me of that from the very beginning with Jamison, to the very end with Angela.

Thank you Portland, Oregon for an amazing time. Thank you Chris Guillbeau and everyone who put the Summit on for teaching me more than I even thought possible. Thank you life for being amazing. Pictures of my days are below.  When you’re doing looking, write an email, a note, or call up the person you’re most grateful for and share that. You’ll be glad you did, as will they.

Oh, a bit more about me and how this all becomes a package tied with a pretty bow: there were a few bumps in the road after returning- I moved and things were a bit up in the air and change felt thick, oh, so thick. During this time, though, I also started thinking more seriously about Japan (more on that later)  and I jumped into a market (more on that later) at the end of last month and have another one coming up this month, so things are moving. I thank Chris and his Summit for getting me moving again. I know I’m the captain of my ship, but if you read the points I share in my Etsy article, you’ll know exactly why I’m thanking Chris and his Summit. Sometimes you just need a little reminder to get you moving again. We all get stuck, it’s what you do to get unstuck that really matters.

“My dad’s advice was very helpful: Be good at something. Add value to that. Don’t get distracted.” – Scott Malkin, Forbes Magazine.

This past month, I read a lot. I wish I could say I read more personal interest books, but I did not. Instead, I read both the May 23rd issue of Forbes Magazine and the June issue of Inc. Magazine from cover to cover and a ton of blog postings (see below).  Under the Success category, I discuss the article in Forbes that roped me in: ” Like Father, Like Child: Is Entrepreneurial Success Inherited.” As I continued to read the magazine I became more and more enthralled with families of entrepreneurs and I discovered that my streak comes from my dad. I think. It makes sense. He opened his own trucking company and was successful until he got ill.

I followed that read up with Inc’s June issue which boldly states, “How To Be An Extraordinary Leader.” I recommend that you read the entire issue if you can get your hands on it. If you can’t, you can read the articles online. I highly recommend the cover article:  “Core Values of the Top Small Company Workplaces.”  I know as I start to develop my long-term business plans, the first thing is the core values of S2 Stationery and Design. After all, the values that I’ve kept to myself so far, are the reasons behind me moving in the direction I have followed and continue to follow.

With that, I leave you with the rest of my suggested reads for June.  Enjoy!

YOU:

I really should just have a section that is dedicated to Chris’s articles because I post at least two every month. Here is the first one. He’s talking about his World Domination Summit that I chose NOT to attend because I thought I was going to Japan (oh Universe, how unfair you can be sometimes!), but I’m excited to see how it goes for him and everyone else who attends and maybe I can go next year? We’ll see. Maybe I should schedule it now. Alas, my favorite part is his comment at the end: “Whatever your own venture / adventure is, don’t hold back! Don’t wait until you’re completely certain. It usually works out in the end.” That’s exactly how I feel!
http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/preview-of-world-domination-summit/?awt_l=8ByzZ&awt_m=1fmi.yxmgsnt7W

Now, read Sherry’s take on the event. I love that she wrote her favorite statements down. That’s something I’d do, too. Also, most of them are great. So great, I printed a copy of the article to have in my journal/planner. http://www.ottsworld.com/blogs/finding-inspiration-in-others/

EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ THIS ARTICLE! I know I’ve fallen into this trap in my younger days, but not anymore. Now I can accept when I should step out of the trap and I do so happily. I know so many people who could benefit from doing the same thing. http://zenhabits.net/trap/

CREATIVE:

THIS is an argument I’ve heard a lot about in the crafting community. I’ll write a posting about it another day, but for now, I think it’s really important to think about copying and theft of art and what it means for the art world and the artist. http://www.scoutiegirl.com/2011/06/bad-artists-copy-great-artists-steal.html

TRAVEL:

I mentioned Sherry Ott two months ago, I believe, and she’s back on this month’s list thanks to a SPECTACULAR article about your personal tipping point. I read it and completely understood where she was coming from and appreciated her experience and how it will inspire my experience. Good stuff! http://www.ottsworld.com/blogs/the-career-break-tipping-point/

SUCCESS:

I finished my Forbes Magazine dated May 23rd and loved it! There is this great article about entrepreneurial success highlighting Ralph Lauren and Dylan Lauren called, “Like Father, Like Child: Is Entrepreneurial Success Inherited,” but then continues in sharing father/son and father/daughter accounts of entrepreneurship. It’s a great read! It also made me wonder about my own entrepreneurship. My Dad started his own company after years of working as a dispatcher for a trucking company and this was years after working as a bus and truck driver. He drove constantly and to the point of unhealthiness, but he did not like working for anyone, listening to anyone’s rules and restrictions, and thrived on being his own boss. Years later, I find myself in the same shoes. So maybe entrepreneurship is genetic after all? Or maybe it’s just learned behavior, but we learn to take and enjoy the risks, from the people who create our foundation, after all. Makes total sense.

I ask for feedback. I rarely ever ask for validation. This is an important article to read if you always feel the need to ask for other’s opinions about things. Yes, it’s a good idea to see how other people can help, but it’s always more important to follow with your own feelings and thoughts. It is your life after all. http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/an-important-thing-no-one-will-tell-you/?awt_l=8ByzZ&awt_m=1bO25YlBksnt7W

I hate having too many choices. Ms. Megan sums it up quite nicely here on what it takes to be a successful sales person and offer choices. http://www.craftmba.com/2011/06/09/the-paradox-of-choice-and-the-powers-of-mind-control/

This article can also fit below in Business Development, but I’ve chosen Success instead, because collaboration is key especially when you’re building yourself and your company.  http://mashable.com/2011/06/23/small-business-collaboration-economy/

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT:

I’m so glad Megan wrote this article! Here I am expanding and creating lines with all of these questions in my mind. I realize I’m a bit different as I’ve never had collections to expand upon before, but it was nice to read that I was headed in the right direction after all. http://www.craftmba.com/2011/06/08/5-questions-to-ask-when-expanding-your-product-line/

This is a long article, but I had a conversation on this topic last night. At the end, I was told by a fellow documentary loving woman, “stay idealistic.” Lets hope I do. I hope you make the right choice for your business, too! http://www.jonathanfields.com/blog/build-company-sell/

CRAFTING FUN:

If you’re ever on the market for rubber stamps and what to do with them, check out this list courtesy of Paper Source. Some great ideas here! http://www.paper-source.com/cgi-bin/paper/howto/rubber-stamping-recipes.html

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Very good article about using Twitter, which I recently signed up to use and am loving! http://www.openforum.com/articles/6-ways-to-monitor-your-brand-on-twitter?utm_source=The+Mogul+Mom+Subscribers&utm_campaign=f6ce762634-6_Ways_To_Monitor_Your_Brand_On_Twitter6_20_2011&utm_medium=email

 

Another amazing article from Ms. Tara Gentile from Scoutie Girl about the whys behind using social media. It’s a good read and one I encourage everyone who spends time and effort developing and cultivating a social media presence and plan to look into.  http://www.themogulmom.com/2011/06/why-are-you-using-social-media/?utm_source=The+Mogul+Mom+Subscribers&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=13570fef9d-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN

PASSION:

I most definitely found my passion, when I wasn’t expecting it. Which I think is how things tend to happen, but in the case that you are trying to find it, you may want to read this article. http://zenhabits.net/the-short-but-powerful-guide-to-finding-your-passion/?utm_source=The+Mogul+Mom+Subscribers&utm_campaign=c31e38442d-Cash_In_On_Yo_Passion6_10_2011&utm_medium=email

Not a recent grad, but this article rings true for anyone of any age seeking for their next steps. http://www.openforum.com/articles/for-recent-graduates-many-paths-to-a-career?extlink=sm-openforum-tw

I am putting this under passion because I think what Sherry is getting at is the pros and cons to following your passion and dreams. Yes, there are success stories, but as a good friend told me the other day, it takes a truly special person to really follow your dreams and make things happen. I also add this posting in this section because I really believe that Sherry hits upon areas that sum up how I feel as well. http://www.ottsworld.com/blogs/blogging-i-love-it-and-hate-it/

Following the same thread as above, here’s an article about what to do once you’ve found YOUR passion: http://zenhabits.net/passionguide/?utm_source=The+Mogul+Mom+Subscribers&utm_campaign=c31e38442d-Cash_In_On_Yo_Passion6_10_2011&utm_medium=email

That’s all for June. See you in July! Oh and have a happy and safe Independence Day weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

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 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.

Last year, I landed upon the most magical blog ever created: The Art of Non-Conformity. I’ve discussed this blog several times here, I know.

I was at the peak of a depression. I hate the word depression, but the reality is that I was depressed. Majorly depressed. I couldn’t see the clearing in the clouds at all. Everyday seemed to start the same way–no excitement for the day, no enthusiasm for going to work, or seeing friends, etc. I just wanted to wallow.

Just for the record, I am not a wallower. I dislike wallowers immensely, so I started to dislike myself a lot. Needless to say, I got help and started to get things back on track, but one of the things that really helped me was a guy named Chris Guillebeau. Again, I’ve talked about him before, but his website came to me through an Etsy article.

That one suggested reading article, led me to a world where I felt I truly belonged. I started reading EVERYTHING he wrote. I went back in time to see where he started. I commented on a few posts. And I started sharing his thoughts with friends.

Back in September I had the fantastic opportunity to meet Chris at a Borders while on his book tour for the book quite appropriately titled, “The Art of Non-Conformity.” I wrote a blog on my other (personal blog) about meeting him and then a week or two later a blog reviewing his book. You can read both of the postings on my other blog, “Strides With a Smile.” As a matter of fact, my book review is the last posting I’ve done in a while. (I don’t suggest having more than one blog, By-the-way, it’s tough work, especially when you’re making invitations, designing cards and working a full-time gig.)

While at the book reading, Chris discussed the book and why he wrote it and then opened the floor to questions. Many, like me, knew Chris and loved his work, and many had just wandered in and were curious. One of the people in the crowd, who I got the impression knew of Chris, was looking for direction, for more help and so she started rambling on about the things she likes to do and how could she figure out what she’s supposed to do in life. A very large question to ask, not to mention, to ask of someone who doesn’t know you, but Chris offered some advice and then simply stated “if you dream about it, that’s what you’re supposed to be doing.”

I share this with you today, not just to give continued props and adulation to Chris, but because this morning, I woke up restless around 5. I was up and out of bed by 5:30. This is a rarity, even in my post-depression state. I just don’t like waking up early! But I got up because in my head, I was visualizing all the things I wanted to get done stationery wise. In my restlessness, I had developed an idea for a Valentine’s Day Card (I have romance on the brain, people!) and I was trying to figure out how the hell I would put two cards together and include a heart. Don’t ask (I’ll share more once I get it figured out) and so I simply could NOT stay sleeping.

I should have you know that this morning already included painting a vineyard theme on an invitation, cutting card stock out and trying to figure out the final touches for these cards invitations I’ve been sample designing.

What I’m saying is, if you EVER, EVER, EVER, wake up from a sleep with a dream very clearly in your head, explore it. Don’t let it get away. Even if what you dreamt about is an idea that seems obtuse, or no longer relevant in the world (paper? Who needs paper?!) follow it and see where it takes you.

Special thanks to the Universe, my father’s spirit, and Chris Guillebeau for all being part of my morning already.

It seems as though everyone is trying to figure out what worked and what didn’t work in 2010. Almost every blog that I follow has had some sort of talk about reflection. My two favorites (meaning they really deeply resonated with me) are from Chris Guillebeau and Sherry Ott. Chris writes the blog, “The Art of Non-Conformity” and Sherry writes at, “Ottsworld.” Check out their blogs!

I totally agree that reflection is important. If we don’t reflect, or even take the time to admit that not everything was good, or think about what was good and why was it good, we’d all be selfish humans. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good thing to be selfish, but if we never looked back at our actions, or skills, our talents, we’d never be true to ourselves. We’d wander through life, hurting other people, taking things for granted and stunting ourselves. As you can guess, I highly recommend reflection, but I’ve decided that in 2011 rather than worry about what didn’t work-how I didn’t lose those 30lbs, I’ve been saying I wanted to lose, or how I didn’t do nearly as many orders as I wanted to – accept that I LEARNED so much in the year that has passed. So much. Not just about myself, but about being in an emotional funk, needing to not be a robot for the corporate world, loving that each order that I do takes a lot of time, accepting that I’ve got some kind of talent, what I want in regards to relationships, etc. You get the idea. So with that said, I want to share with you my “goals” for 2011.

-I will focus more on the business. I will design and throw myself into what I know IS my destiny.

-I will LEARN, LEARN and learn some more.

-I will understand that not everything happens at rocket speed and that I need the time, not just for me, but for myself.

-I will explore design in every way shape possible.

-I will accept that my talents and skills are different from others.

-I will always strive to educate before making money, but I will make some money

-I will find a balance–not just in the sense of balance, but I will stop carrying everything around with me as if things can’t wait. They can, if you’re balanced.

Everything else will fall into place. I have some HUGE changes set in place. I’ve already begun planning and developing my path, and some of the steps to the biggest act begin in January, but they don’t officially roll out until July. (I’ll return to this posting six months from now to see where I am, if I’m feeling any more relaxed, excited, or just worn down.) One of the biggest things I learned this year is finding a balance. Anyone can be an entrepreneur with the right spirit, but you can’t be an amazing entrepreneur with a sustainable business if you don’t have balance (see the last goal).

That’s it folks. There not so much resolutions as real attainable goals. I’m not saying that anyone can’t lose 50lbs in a year, but as we all know (from experience) that my weight loss goal has never been achieved because I’ve never had the real heart behind it. I’ve signed up for expensive gym memberships to end up not going after two or three months. Which means that any personal or professional goal or resolution can be achieved with a bit of faith and heart.  My next year is full of both of those.  If you can’t find a resolution or goal with heart, then just go with the flow of enjoying every moment that comes your way. Even the ones that aren’t fun and suck are for something.

Good luck with yours! Happy New Year!

As I weave my way into the whole online business world and dunk myself further into the world of Etsy, I’ve managed to find some great websites/blogs of other Etsy sellers, crafters and a few self-made business people that provide not just positive energy and thoughts, but advice on being an online-vendor, crafter, business person.  I have  say, I have found many of these articles helpful, but I’d say 75% of the time I agree. The other 25% of the time, I spend scratching my head. I know everyone is different.

Either way, I’m sharing my favorite articles of 2010. This isn’t complete and I know I’m missing a few, but here they are:

Etsy – Etsy has a newsletter that publishes GREAT articles about quitting your day job, being an entrepreneur, etc. I have been a subscriber for a while now and I’ve been very pleased by what they dish out. They scour the web looking for interesting blogs that will help inspire their sellers and community. I find the range very helpful. Here are a few that have stood out in the many…

http://www.etsy.com/storque/craftivism/random-acts-of-kindness-kind-over-matters-pursuit-of-positiv-11048/

http://www.imaginativebloom.com/2010/11/24/how-to-identify-your-ideal-customer-by-april/

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/11/where-do-ideas-come-from.html

http://www.fastcompany.com/1691558/5-takeaways-marketers-could-learn-from-mr-rogers

http://www.copyblogger.com/creativity-killers/

http://www.jonathanfields.com/blog/the-moment-you-speak-to-the-world-you-speak-to-no-one/

http://www.longerdays.com/blog/2010/09/3-step-process-for-quickly-overcoming-burnout/

http://www.thebusinessofbeingcreative.com/2010/09/07/the-4-ps/

http://www.jonathanfields.com/blog/55-quotes-creativity-innovation-action/

Craft MBA – Megan Augman

http://www.craftmba.com/2010/12/06/etsy-community-commerce/

Women In Business – I think everyone should have this on their wall!

http://www.womeninbusiness.com.au/_blog/Style_and_Substance/post/manifesto/

Duct Tape Marketing -

http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog/2010/12/10/accentuate-the-negative/

Whitehot Truth -

http://whitehottruth.com/business-wealth-articles/ode-to-the-entrepreneurial-spirit-an-apology-to-9-to-5rs-everywhere/

Heartmade Blog –  I recently stumbled on this site and it was because of this newsletter posting that I keep returning (although I still don’t know what to make of the blog or whether I will be a loyal reader); Don’t get me wrong, I do like Mayi a lot and respect her for being out there doing her thing. Whether I remain as a reader or don’t, here’s what inspired me…

http://www.heartmadeblog.com/

You Don’t Need Magic to Run a Successful Shop

Believe it or not, successful online shops don’t happen overnight. I know, I know, we would all like to think otherwise, that a Fairy God Mother can suddenly appear + fix all our problems + transform our shop’s into a hit. That would be pretty sweet, but since that probably ain’t happening anytime soon (or in our lifetime), let me share with you a pretty awesome plan B that will seriously impact your shop’s success fast!

Now, come closer. Just a little closer please. I’m about to reveal my top 5 tips to running a successful shop, right here on this newsletter. Call it my secret weapons if you will. These tactics have really worked for me + I’m confident they can work for you too. Plus, I just love success stories, especially from hard working + passionate creative folks like yourselves.

I don’t want to keep you waiting so let’s get right to it, shall we? Drum roll please!

My top business success secrets disclosed:

  1. Listen to the little voice inside your heart. Yeap, I typed that correctly. I didn’t mean head, but heart. Be aware about your feelings + ask yourselves the hard existential questions “Am I happy, really happy doing what I’m doing?”, “Am I doing what I was destined to do?. The rush of the everyday tends to dilute our emotions. Tip: Don’t be an android + don’t be afraid to feel + listen to your heart. I promise it will take you far when you embrace it.
  2. Be a real person. Doing business online can sometimes feel a little cold, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Allow your customers to “see you”. Put a picture of you in your profile + write a heartfelt about page + tell your story. Allow your customers to easily identify with you, the person, not the shop, but actually I real skin + bones + heart pumping human being. Tip: The more your customers can identify with you, the more likely they will buy from you.
  3. Brand + brand + brand. It must be the communications major in me or all that marketing jargon I learned in college, but the point is I’m a strong believer in the power of branding. Everything you do must support your brand + big idea + story: your logo + business cards + blog + boutique + craft booths + tags + note cards + packaging + bags + anything + everything that your potential customers see must be branded. Your clients should be able to see + feel + smell + hear your brand from a mile away. Tip: branding is very very powerful. Use it! It will be your biggest ally!
  4. Take yourself seriously. Get yourself an office space + buy the best supplies you can + hire a professional to help you do what you can’t + seek help + open an online shop. Don’t wait for your big break. Don’t wait for anyone to approve of your less than common career path. Don’t wait until Oprah invites you on her show to take yourself seriously. Give it all you’ve got! Turn off the “I’ll do that when I’m rich” mentality. Tip: take yourself seriously + have the gut to make the important decisions your business needs to grow.
  5. Surround yourself with love + support. I’m not good at asking people for help. Luckily, I’ve been extremely fortunate to have a loving family + boyfriend + friends around me to take care of me even when I didn’t even know I needed to be taken care of. I really couldn’t have gone this far without having loving people around me. Tip: Surround yourself with loving + positive + inspiring people. They will be your fortress when you are weak + your cheerleaders when your triumph.

These are just simple things you can do for your business that can really REALLY make a difference + no bibbidi bobbidi booo magic is actually involved.

xo,
Mayi Carles

The Mogul Mom – I am NOT a mom, well there’s a child I adopted in Ecuador, but I’m not really a mom. However, that doesn’t mean that this blog doesn’t ring true for us non-moms. She’s smart and with a few businesses under her belt, I’ll take her word for it any day!

http://www.themogulmom.com/2010/10/strong-brand-image/

AND finally, drum roll please…..

The Art of Non-Conformity – anything on this site really, but I discovered Chris Guillebeau earlier this year and he’s been one of the greatest forces in my life…

http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/how-to-get-paid-for-what-you-love/

http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/if-you-love-something-you-have-to-protect-it/

http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/transitions/

http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/get-excited-and-change-things/

http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/the-four-burners-theory/

There are  A LOT of writers that I’m leaving out and there are a lot of articles that I’ve read this year and marked or saved because they just rang true with my thoughts and my wants, but I don’t have them at hand. The articles above have all made a mark and I suggest you check them out.  I think moving forward I’m going to work on doing a monthly list of articles that I’ve enjoyed so that maybe you will enjoy them as well. What a plan!

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