May Favorites

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!

Advertisements

Japanese, Lesson One

Last night I attended my first, real, Japanese lesson.

Some of you may be scratching your head at why I’m learning Japanese at this time. After all, I’ve admitted that I am in fact not going to Japan as soon as I thought I was.

So why?

Well. See.  I had to use my five-week long language lesson coupon that I purchased through Groupon last September.  It was going to expire if I didn’t use it before June. And in the early days of trying to figure out going to Japan, I knew that I was going to need to learn basic Japanese, but I wasn’t sure when I’d have the time to learn. That’s when I remembered I had language lessons waiting for me. So I signed up. I’m so glad I did…

Even though I’ve worked for a Japanese company the past four years, I’ve never really paid that much attention to the language. I did try to sign up for lessons two years ago, but it didn’t go anywhere. In fact, it seemed hard and well, let’s be honest I was a bit scared. I like my languages romantic. Not saying that any other non-romance language isn’t romantic, but I do well with Spanish, Italian and French. I think it’s just best to say that the language and I were not meant to be at that time. Time is such a funny concept, isn’t it? Yet, I do believe that timing is everything.

Anyhow, it all culminated yesterday. I arrived at Rennert Language Center on E. 45th and entered a booming center full of students registered for a variety of different classes–Arabic, French, Spanish, etc.  I asked for beginners Japanese and was directed to a small classroom at the end of the hall with two other students. Another student joined us 15 minutes after the session had started, but I had one of the best first language classes I’ve ever had. I felt like I had been transported back to Italian at GW, except we had much fewer students.

Oh, did I mention that before getting to class, I stopped at Staples and purchased new pencils and lead. The eco-warrior in me was not pleased, but I could not start my first day of lessons without a new pencil and honestly, I need good quality pencils for the sketching I do for my designs, so there you go. (I can talk myself into anything, by the way.)

Class started at 6:35 pm or so with the instructor introducing himself, asking us to write our names on paper and have them in front of us, and then passing out our workbooks. Again, excited! Even though, I was tired and drinking two-hour old coffee, I cracked open my notebook and started taking it all in.

The lesson lasted until 8:30 pm and involved us learning how to say good morning (Ohayou-casual; ohayou gozaimasu – formal, professional, first time meeting someone), good afternoon (konnichiwa) and good evening (kon ban wa).  After that we got into the bulk of the lesson–learning how to introduce ourselves and ask, “how are you?” as well as, “what is your name?”,  and “what is your phone number/email?”

We also learned how to count to 10–I am proud to say that I have 1-10 memorized and today alone have recited the numbers to two different coworkers who were very impressed.  We learned syllables and how to write some words in Japanese letters (I need to practice this for homework before next Monday).  Finally,  class ended with us learning how to go into a restaurant and ask for a menu, ask the price of a meal, order a meal and ask for the bathroom. All really important and good things!

When I left class, I felt a bit more confident than when I walked in and I left with my head swimming with words to remember so that I wouldn’t forget between now and next Monday.  Before I went to bed last night, I pulled out my books and my notes and started practicing. I counted on my fingers without looking to memorize the numbers ( I was successful) and then I went to sleep.

This morning, beaming I told my coworker and pal, Mark that I love my instructor and my class and that I’m really excited to learn Japanese. I still can’t believe I said that. Nine years ago, nobody would have believed me capable of saying that.

I tell you all of this because as I’ve told Mark  just yesterday, it’s amazing how our brain perceive things once you open another space in your mind. In my case, I explore other arts, languages, dance, countries, food, or anything else I can think of  to get a different take on life, but no matter what, I’m always left amazed at what is out there and yearning to take in more.

When I take a class on calligraphy, I care more about fonts I can use on digital design. When I knit, I crave more color. When I draw, I crave tangible texture. When I recycle, I wonder about how I can reuse things in other ways. When I dance, I crave ethnic music. When I learn a language, I crave an experience-a trip, meeting people who speak that language and learning from them. I suppose in this case, I’m still at the right place because I am surrounded by Japanese people for 40 hours a week.  When I add all of these together, I get a new perspective on how to see color, design, space, shapes, texture and words in a different way than before. It makes my work more interesting and more thoughtful. And it’s breathtaking and inspiring.

I can’t wait for next week’s lesson (I’ll blog about it, too) and to keep learning!

I Hope you’re learning something new if not every day, then at least every couple of days. Never stop learning, you never know where it will lead you.