True Social Entrepreneurship: The Story of Ms. Pink

I posted this on my personal Facebook page earlier today, but wanted to add it here as well so it didn’t soon get lost in the Facebook timeline abyss. “Social Entrepreneurship” is such a buzzword right now, but what does it really mean? Is it truly people wanting to make a difference, or is it people wanted to make a buck off of social causes….unfortunately a bit of both and sometimes the cause is who gets hurt in the process (note, I’m not making a blanket statement, just expressing an increasingly concerning situation that I’ve seen as ‘social entrepreneurship’ has come in vogue.)

But today, I met a true social entrepreneur: Ms. Pink, the Checker Cab Driver

pink cabSee this pink piece of taxicab perfection? This is what picked me up to take me to reclaim my injured car from the mechanic this afternoon. Not only is it bright pink, so obviously awesome, it has an amazing story and driver as well.

The driver, ‘Ms. Pink’, retired from corporate life and wanted to do something to sort of ‘reset’ herself, enjoy life again and give back. So, she started driving for Checker Cab & Shuttle of Jacksonville about two years ago.

She has this awesome pink cab that she uses not just to drive customers, but also works with Women’s Center of Jacksonville’s Bosom Buddies (Breast Cancer Support Group) and does free medical transport on the weekends.

She said to me, “This job makes it really easy for me to find a way to help someone every day.”

Obviously, for all the above reasons, this little pink powerhouse has now become the official cab of #petropower. But more importantly, it is a great reminder to us all that every single day we have opportunities to help each other out and to make the world an easier and happier place to live. Ms. Pink, and others out there like her, challenge us to make sure we take them.

Finding Home

findinghomeI realized something about myself over the labor day weekend. A difference in my older, more mellow self (and I know, I know those that know me are cringing at the fact that the Laura they know today is actually a much, much mellower version of the Laura of yesteryear….scary, huh?).

I used to be obsessed with sound, buzz. If I was home alone I often would have both the TV and the radio on because I couldn’t stand being alone without the noise. It literally freaked me out. Silence, freaked me out. Honestly even people talking about silence made me feel uncomfortable.

On Monday I was home, alone, determined to get my still ‘move-worn’ home into some sort of presentable order (or at least the living room), and all the sudden I realized I was in silence. When I first noticed this fact, it jolted me a bit. I wasn’t sure what to do. Was there something wrong with me? Was I ok? This might sound weird, but being ok with silence is so rare for me that I literally had to go through this process.

I finally realized that yes, yes I actually was content in the silence. It gave me a sense of centeredness that I desperately needed. And, most of all, I had no interest in introducing sound.

And this made me pause.

I was reminded of a TED Talk I had heard a few weeks ago that had really been of interest, especially considering I had just moved at the time and going through a few ‘relocation’ pains. The talk from Pico Iyer, evaluates the concept of ‘where is home?’ and tells the story of his visit to a Monastery where absolute silence was required. His take away was,

“It is only by stopping movement you can see where to go. And it is only by stepping out of your life and the world that you can see what you most deeply care about and find a home.”

Stop. Take a moment of silence and let that absorb, because there is a lot there.

I’ll wait.

Shhhhh

I’ve continued to roll it over in my head and let my brain sweep over the edges like your fingers do to an impossibly smooth river pebble ever since. And with each sweep I think I find something new.  But let me tell you about some of where it has taken me so far.

Finding Home: 

In my early 20’s not only was I obsessed with noise, I was obsessed with moving. I had a hard time staying in one place for longer than 8 months and I would literally wake up one morning in each place I lived and decide it was simply unbearable to stay in that place any longer. And I’d find a way to move.

In retrospect all that moving was much less about the place, and much more about me. It wasn’t the place that I couldn’t stand any longer, it was myself in that place. The idea of moving for me was an embodiment my ability to find a self that I liked more. That wasn’t ‘unbearable’ to live with or in, but instead encompassed who I was. As Iyer says, home “is the place where you become yourself.” I was searching for my home.

And eventually I found it. With each move I was able to find and excavate a new dimension of myself. I was able to figure out who I was, what I wanted, where my cushy place in the world was (which wasn’t a location, but a purpose). Everyone has a different method of finding themselves. I did it through moving. And oddly enough it was only through refusing to stay in one place long enough to make it home, I found the home within myself I was looking for.

Finding Silence:

And now that I found my ‘home’, over the last few years I’ve increasingly found silence. Because I have learned to know and be comfortable in who I am, I’m no longer afraid to be with that person. I’m able to deal with the self-analysis that silence inevitable brings, and I welcome it.

I’m finding it is those times that the world begins to feel overwhelming, that I crave silence the most. I need to step out of the buzz to navigate it. I need to stop the world for a few moments to strategize how I want to best conquer it. And silence brings me that moment. It allows me to put things in perspective and better make choices that aren’t wrapped up in chaos or jaded by emotion.

I think silence is vital for innovation and necessary for smart decision making. Our perspective becomes very limited and biased if we allow ourselves to exist only in the buzz and that is bad for us both professional and personally.

This is a skill I am going to consciously try to nurture, the cultivation of silence.

How about you?

 

 

5 Reasons Why Rescuing a Dog is a Better Choice than Rescuing a Man

Today we are lucky enough to have guest author Kirstyn Northrop Cobb do a fun (and accurate) side by side comparison of which is better a dog or a husband? 

Cobb comes from a background in animal welfare and currently works in animal sheltering. She resides in Maryland with her husband, daughter and a house full of animals. 

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funny-dog-cartoon-trade-puppy-husbandThe other day, I came home from work and my dogs were so happy to see me. They showered me with kisses and that unconditional love that we have come to know and love in dogs. My husband, on the other hand, said “What’s for dinner”. It really made me think about the differences in them. My husband isn’t a jerk, in fact, he’s a really nice guy. But, my dogs are much nicer! So, here are the top 5 reasons that I could come up with on why.

  1. As mentioned at the beginning, my dogs are always happy to see me. I can walk to the mailbox and back with them watching me the entire time and they are still happy to see me. I can’t say that about my husband.
  2. Yes, my dogs shed. My husband is also losing some of his hair. The difference is: my dogs are much less sensitive about it. They could care less about the possibility of balding. Again, I cannot say the same thing about my husband. In fact, it’s a good thing that he doesn’t read my articles, as this will possibly reduce him to tears.
  3. My dogs are never in a bad mood. Work stuff doesn’t get them down, life stuff doesn’t get them down, they are happy dogs! And, that happiness is contagious!
  4. My dogs have never complained about a single meal that I have made. In fact, as they usually get the same thing day in and day out, they are beyond excited when I experiment in the kitchen and hook them up!
  5. My dogs love me just the way I am, no matter what. They love me if I get a bad hair cut, they love me is I choose to wear sweat pants all day, they love me if I get up early, they love me if I sleep in, they love me if I’m singing in the shower despite the fact that I can’t and shouldn’t sing. Yes, my husband does as well, but, never to the extent that my dogs do.

Yep, dogs are pretty amazing companions. Admittedly they don’t help out with the bills, but still, they are a fantastic choice for companionship. And, really, what more do we need?

A Pig of Many Oinks…..

pig and catsTo those of you have gotten to know me (in person, on facebook, through other networks…hey maybe even here on the blog), it probably comes as no surprise that I am both a chick of many interests and…well, I have something to say about all of them. Many things can be said about me, but two that never will ever hold water are that I’m ever at a loss for words or opinions, oy…

Quite the contrary in fact I struggle with needing to filter my own brain due to the overload of thoughts, opinions and observations on the world that fill it every minute. Thus having a one blog, focusing on one niche is extremely frustrating for me. There are so many things I want to write about, not just communications, entrepreneurship and/or business (Flying Pig), or about animal advocacy and welfare (Wiggles and Zoomies)….but just about the world in general.

Unfortunately I am not independently wealthy and I am also not being paid for my millions of opinions and rather fantastic thoughts on life (a mystery to us all, right?). So having multiple niche specific blogs that I fill with these things is very difficult to do. There are just not enough hours in the day, or Lauras on the earth to make it happen.

So my temporary solution for this now is to combine them all into one….and that my friends is what the new Flying Pig blog will start looking like moving forward. I will do my best to categorize and tag each post specifically to make it easy for you to find the ones you want to see and not deal with the areas you aren’t as interested. However, there is quite an overlap in many of the areas I write about, so you might surprise yourself and find a majority of them useful to you in one way or another.

This is still a work in progress, so bear with me, and let me know your thoughts along the way!

The Unequivocal Measure of Success

successcarrotI love this post from Seth Godin, it says a lot about our cultural and individual encouragement of mediocrity. We often focus on the limitations of the fear of failure, but not as often on the equally blocking effects of the fear of success. Although these are intimately connected, they have different implications. Even more importantly, aspiring to success means we have to define it.

When you have to define success you must also define your priorities and goals. I often ask clients (and myself) the very important question;

What does success look like for you?

This stumps many and you often get ambiguous responses that leave a comfortable ‘success cushion’. If you are ambiguous when you define your success metrics, you leave yourself more room to comfortably fail and then rationalize that failure. This is human nature, of course, and not necessarily a bad perspective. Afterall the ability to see the success in every failure is a much needed one for to be an entrepreneur, a business owner, a leader…..a human.

However, when in creation mode, you must, must, must set out unequivocal measures of success. That cushion allows you to not create your best. It gives you an excuse to be less than your potential. It allows you room to create something ‘ok’, verses creating something extraordinary. Cushions are comfortable, but if you ask anyone who has created something great, they will tell you that no part of the process was comfortable.

The Idiot’s Guide to Destroying a Community

360_26422794447_2797_n

Look at how cute I am? Why would you exploit me to build a fake community?

This is a post I’ve debated back forth writing for a while now. Maybe one of the most irritating on-going conflicts the ability to write and publish at will presents is deciding if you are writing because it will benefit your community in some way, or if you are writing for purely selfish or rant-iliscious reasons (much like how I make up words such as ’rant-iliscious’ due to the inability for the english language, as is, to properly allow me to translate my sentiments. But, I digress…)

Often, such as with blogs like my recent “How to be a ridiculously awesome failure”, I write them as a bit of self therapy, but follow through in publishing them because I feel they also might strike a cord with all of you (or at least some of you and in the end that is all that matters. If I can help just one tadpole turn into a toad, I’m a happy camper).

So anyway, this post I’ve waited on writing because I wanted to make sure it just wasn’t a petty rant. That basically is the moral of that story (oh yeah….who can get to the point quickly? This girl! BOOM!)

Now here is the actual blog (don’t worry, I’m rolling my eyes at myself right now…save your breath). The company name is being kept confidential because it really isn’t needed to make this post useful. I’ve already reached out to them indicating that I felt there methods were not aligned with what I assumed to be their goals. I’ve received no response. So they can continue to do what they do and the rest of you can hopefully learn from their mistakes.

A couple of months ago a friend told me about a fun new social network for dogs. Obviously being a huge animal lover and a dog mom, I thought it sounded fun. Even more importantly, I do a lot of work with dog and animal focused non-profits and so wanted to check it out to see if participating might be somehow useful for them or their communities. So I signed up to receive a BETA invite.

The whole ‘sign up for an invite’ ploy is totally effective. Both for startups, leaving the gate fresh, and for established brands, launching something new. As humans we are naturally drawn to things that are ‘exclusive’, so it appeals to basic human nature. “Ohhhh, I want to be a part of that!”

This was a gold star #1 for them.

A couple of weeks later I got a great email with my invite. It was handled really well, gave proper motivation and continued the excitement of the perceived ‘exclusivity’ of being asked to join this social network. Gold star #2.

I logged in with my invite code and proceeded through several extremely user friendly steps to set up my dog’s profile. Gold star #3.

But then what? I finished setting up my profile and it was very unclear what I was supposed to do next? What good was this new social network other than looking at other people’s dog’s profiles and “heart-ing” them? I couldn’t figure it out (and this is what I do for a living, meaning I spent much more time trying to understand the WIFM (what’s in it for me) of the site than the average user would). So I clicked away. Mistake #1.

Since I work with a lot of start ups, I have a soft spot in my heart for them. I understand how hard it is. Plus, they were in beta, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt. Beta IS for continued market testing after all. However, ‘beta’ has seemed to take a bit of a broader definition as of late and it seemed (based on the wide range of people ‘invited’) this was less of a beta and more of a launch. Regardless….

The next day I received a well written template letter from the Founder and CEO of the platform. Although it didn’t tell me much more, at least the acknowledgement was good.

So let’s recap. So far

-I sign up and set up my profile

-I see no really WIFM other than looking at other dog’s profiles and the ego boost of having my dog’s mug there and sharing it (which is really not much different than other things I can already do that also have additional benefits and capabilities as well).

-I get an email from the CEO, giving me no further direction. But hey, at least I was acknowledged.

That is all I have received after giving them my trust, time and information.

One week later…..I get a breed specific sales email. Now this email isn’t directly listed as being from the company I set up the profile on. Instead it is from some lady (who I have never heard of but is proclaimed in the email as a vizsla expert.) and called ‘The Vizsla Pack’. This email was full of “cute vizsla stuff hand picked just for you”. Which were items for me to buy that supposedly were good for vizsla’s and their people. It also contained a few half-ass articles (aka crap content used only for the purpose of trying to pretend the email is actually useful when it is really simply crappy sales spam).

Because getting signed up for emails that I didn’t opt in for is the one of my pet peeves, I decided to research where, how, who did this so I could disconnect myself from them in every way. Low and behold, the fine print says I was signed up because I joined the social network. Mistake #2

Well, that’s just swell. I provide them my info, I am given very few benefits (basically none

We really hate spam email!!

We really hate spam email!!

that are all that inspiring), and hear nothing until they start immediately trying to sell to me. And in ‘beta’ too. Again severally pushing the definition of ‘beta’, which is a time that most companies are wooing visitors and provide free or reduced fee services to test the market out, refine and also get people hooked on things so when they do start selling their community will already feel like they need them.

Now being a business owner, I know it is really hard to fully understand the outside user experience. So since I have the CEO’s email from her previous template letter I decide to take the time to write her a nice note, letting her know how this appears. I would want someone to do this for me after all.

I spend time laying out exactly what my experience was, why it is off putting and how much I really loved the concept of the platform so I was disappointed to see this be the way the community was being handled. It was very tactful, complimentary and polite.

I wait, I hear nothing, but continue to receive sales emails weekly. Mistake #3 and #4

I unsubscribe and continue to receive them. I unsubscribe again, and again. 5 times I’ve unsubscribed with no change. So, I remove my dog’s profile. Community member lost.

And that folks is the anatomy of losing a community member and destroying a community before you start. Community by definition is not about YOU, it’s about them. It doesn’t just work as a one way street to fuel your sales. It is about relationships, about giving to the people who give you their trust (through sign up, info, participation, etc.). It isn’t a quick overnight get rich scheme, it takes time, commitment, work and an understanding of who the people are you are reaching out to.

What do they want?

What do they need?

How can this community help provide for those two things?

How can you bring them together?

How can your organization be the moderator to facilitate all of this?

As ‘community’ continues to become more of a trendy catch phrase than an actual understanding we are going to encounter more and more situations just like the one outlined above. The good news is that successful community building simply won’t occur in these cases. The bad news is that many potentially fantastic concepts and brands will die prematurely as a result of misuse. Business Darwinism in action.

 

Using your past for future business success

This pigeon is clearly working hard to learn from the past in order to do his job better

This pigeon is clearly working hard to learn from the past in order to do his job better

Yesterday was a bit of a significant date for me. It is a day that has been symbolic on several levels for many years now and each year I watch it slowly approach, and think to myself that it won’t affect me in the same way it traditionally has. Each year I’m wrong.

The day was pretty appropriate for its historic date. Tornado alerts and warnings all day, endless rain, cloudy skies, an overall environment that indicated an ill ease of some type. I have a few days like this in my year. The dates are significant to no one but myself and in general represent decisions I made in my life that, although I don’t regret, I still work to have make sense. To come to some sort of conclusion where I can say, ‘yeah, ok, this was worthwhile. The lesson you learned here, it was worth it.’

Memories are powerful things in that way. consciously and unconsciously they shape who we are and how we experience the world. I once wrote about using nostalgia to build community, and the power of tapping into these different nostalgic emotions to help connect people in a singular way. It is also important, however, to be conscious of how our memories affect how we interact with the world ourselves.

As business owners and entrepreneurs, our ‘baggage’, past failures and scars can dramatically hinder how we move forward in everything we do. Our brains are constantly bombarded with triggers of certain memories. These triggers will affect the decisions we make. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, often they do so as a result of something we’ve learned and therefore help prevent us from making the same mistake. However, it is something we must constantly be aware of and acknowledge when making choices on both a personal and professional level.

In fact, I believe that learning to use your past to positively guide your future is a trait that the best leaders and entrepreneurs MUST have. The ability to do so empowers them with a unique knowledge base and a very directed intuition that can help them lead their organizations (and themselves) to a greater success.

This doesn’t just mean learning from failures (although that is obviously crucially important), but learning from successes as well. And then learning from those times that might not be categorizable, but just exist, and (like my day yesterday) are for some reason significant to you. I think those ‘inbetween’ times might in fact be the most crucial, and are often the most ignored.

As a political science major a good portion of my time in school was spent doing just this type of analysis. That same technique can be applied to your own ‘history’. These are the questions I ask myself when I come upon one of those moments or memory triggers:

-Distinguish fact from non-fact: We often tend to impose emotion unto the actual events, which can distort them. Try to get a very clear and accurate picture. What actually happened? What were the actual consequences (good, bad, emotional, physical)

-Understanding why: Why do you feel the way you do? What it is about this moment or memory that triggers these emotions? It is important to try to distill this down to as detailed and grainy a view as possible.

-Butterfly effect: How has this past event already affected things for your organization (and/or life).

-Potential: What opportunities does this event, the things learned from it, the people connected to, the experience in general provide for the future.

How have past events affected the decisions you’ve made for your business or life? How have they affected you as a leader and manager? As an entrepreneur and business owner? As a human?

And a very happy Friday! Wishing you all a weekend full of lots of memorable learning lessons! :)

 

Entrepreneurship, Weather Systems and Your Impact on the World

936987_10151622486159448_426134214_nOver this last weekend I had the joy of traveling to Maine to visit some friends. If you haven’t been to Maine it is a MUST GO destination. I instantly fell in love with everything about it. It has a wonderful and unique charm, a freaking amazing coastline (says the girl in Florida…so I know my coastlines, yo!) and beautiful parks everywhere. If you are an outdoors person at all (I am, so I’ll spare you my monologue geeking out about trees in case you aren’t) you’ll just fall in love. I’m already planning my next trip.

You can see some pictures of my trip HERE (be prepared to be envious).

Anyway,  this blog is not about me bragging about my trip (ok, well this blog might be a tiny bit about me bragging about my trip). Instead it is about an interesting phenomena that occurred while I was there. We referred to it as “El Petro”.

You see, the average temperature in Maine in the summer is somewhere in the 70′s. Obviously for me, anything below 75 is considered cold. I was a tiny bit nervous that I’d be suffering from Petrolino hypothermia (which is basically the type hypothermia that only really pathetic wusses suffer from….sometimes I really shake my head at the fact that I shiver when it is in the 60′s, but I digress). In fact, even the week before it was in the 40′s there. So I came prepared with layers and fleeces and lots of warm accessories.

Much to my surprise, when I landed, instead of finding a polar ice cape, I encountered a beautiful (and hot) 90 degrees. Warmer than it had been when I left Florida. This rather odd and surprising weather system, we dubbed “El Petro”, since obviously it was a result of my presence. The entire weekend Maine encountered this lovely effect of my visit.

Ironically, as soon as I left, the hot weather left with me and Maine returned to it’s familiar 50-60′s. I’m that kind of powerful folks.

So this story is a parable of sorts, with one main take away:

The world is a big and busy place. It is often easy to lack appreciation for the impact we are having on (and in) it. Now, not everyone needs to be a whole freaking weather system, like myself (start small people, I mean, I am ‘El Petro’, it took years of work and whining about cold weather to reach this level of achievement). But although our impact is often hard to see, it is very important for us to acknowledge it.

We must constantly be aware and acknowledge how we leave an imprint on the world and the people around us. This is the case not only to reward ourselves for our hard work (working and living in a vacuum where we feel we have no affect at all is a horrible and debilitating place to be), but also to guide us in our future choices and endeavors.

As I’ve mentioned previously, the book “Man’s Search for Meaning”, but Viktor Frankl, is one of my all time favorite reads. In it, Frankl discusses a phenomena called ‘Sunday Neurosis’, which essentially refers to the deep depression that is often encountered at the end of the work week when a person takes the time to think about how empty and meaningless their life is.

Frankl, believed that this depression was the result of the realization of a gap between who we are and who we are destined to become. A gap so large it is gut punching and at it’s very worst leads to a complete abandonment of future goals….aka: cessation of searching for meaning.

However, when you are in a constant state of awareness about how you are affecting the world, you are better able to use that information to discover and refine where your power is. Meaning is found when you understand exactly what you can bring that no one else can. That understanding is only found through constant examination of the ‘weather system’ you bring with you everywhere you go.

Entrepreneurship in particular can lead to this ‘Sunday Neurosis’ trap. This is especially true if you come from a traditional environment when you are accustomed to having someone else define what you do and how your work will impact the world. Learning to define it for yourself can be a daunting process.

So basically, each day take some time to reflect on what jet stream you are flying on. If you were on the meteorologist’s blue screen, what would you look like? Take that info and continue to rain down something awesome.…..every.single.day.

That’s the end of my story today for now I must be off to bring some sunshine and beachy weather to those that need me! Have no fear people of the world, take off those fleeces and rain coats, El Petro is on the way to save the day!!

How a great bra can save your business

bra-adThe other day I was telling a friend about my recent #girlfail at Victoria Secret. Sadly, these are common occurences.  I’m not sure where along the way I missed out on all the ‘how to be a girl’ lessons, or if I just had some odd deletion in my DNA, but WTF? I just can’t seem to get the whole female gig down. Anyway, I was in need of a new bra and dragged myself to the mall (aka the temple of doom….ick, I hate that place and ALWAYS lose my car, making the whole experience very disturbing).

Now before I launch into this story, please know that for my entire post-pubescent life I have worn the same size bra. I never really took the time to have someone officially size me, I just tried a few on and went with what I thought worked (or honestly my whole decision might have been based on what colors they had in what sizes. I don’t remember, but I can tell you for sure it was not a scientific process.) So, 15 years later, I’ve been wearing the same size bra, totally confident that this was the size I was supposed to be in.

I will also tell you that when I say I HATE wearing bras, I mean hate in the fullest definition of the word. I think they are uncomfortable and awkward and just all around stink. I’m always having to fidget with them and am constantly aware of their uncomfortableness when I have them on. Now you all might be saying to yourselves, “Laura, obviously if you had this many issues with your bras there might be a reason. Did you ever investigate why, and if there was a solution?”

Um…well no. No, I did not. As I said, I just really suck at being a girl. I felt it was a necessary evil, sort of like shaving…not fun, but it was some sort of karmic debt that we were forced to pay.

So I drag myself to the temple of doom and lo and behold they don’t have my size in the bra I want. To me this was absolutely unacceptable since the thought of exposing myself to the horrors that are the mall and having nothing to show for it was simply too hideous to bear. So I grab a size that was ‘close’ to my normal size and went to try it on (pretty much determined that I would make it work). Compromise is the essence of valor right?

As I’m trying to evaluate if the thing is more uncomfortable than normal, I pull a sales girl and ask her what she thinks. This prompts her (shock and awe) to actually measure me to determine the right size. The whole crazy ‘measurement’ deal reveals that I have been completely wrong on both my cup and band size. Basically, I’m 32 years old and have been wearing the completely wrong size bra for at least 15 of those years. Like completely!?!

So she gets me in the RIGHT sized bra and I go on my merry way.

Now, ladies and gentlemen of the audience, let me tell you….this new bra is freaking AMAZING! Not only is it not uncomfortable, my boobs look utterly fantastic in it (I say that in the most humble way possible…). Everything I wear looks better, and I just feel better. It just fits. So now I walk around in my new correctly sized bra, all KAZAAM! Looking and feeling like a new person.

Now this story does have a purpose (other than just to brag about my great looking pectorial region) and a take away to apply to yourself and your business.

It is sooooo important before launching off into any new business venture or path to take the time to make sure it is the right fit. Don’t assume, don’t try to make it fit because you like the color or the style, KNOW it is the right fit.

This means doing your research. It means looking at the business from a 360 perspective.

A lot of business owners evaluate the common things like;

  • Will this business be profitable?
  • Is there a large enough market?
  • Is there continued opportunity to grow?
  • Does it logically make sense?
  • Can it successfully operate?
  • Do we have the resources needed?

And so on. Don’t get me wrong all of these questions are VITAL. You should never start any new venture without evaluating all of them. But it is equally important to take a look at some more lifestyle based questions as well.

  • What will my life look like when running this business?
  • What do I see as my role as this business grows and expands?
  • How do I see that role changing?
  • How will this business affect my family?
  • How will this business affect the the things I enjoy in my life?
  • Can I financially live the life I want? (look long-term here)
  • Will this business help me achieve my goals as a human?
  • Does this business align with my morals?
  • How will my schedule be affected?

Without evaluating these types of questions as well you will not be able to clearly understand if the business venture or idea is actually a good fit. Just because something works operationally (technically my ill fitted bra did the job it was intended to do, not as well as it could, but it accomplished the basic goal) doesn’t mean it works optimally. Know the difference and know how to apply it to your life.

How about you? How did you know your business was a ‘good fit’? What have you done when you realized it wasn’t?

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This post is part of the monthly Word Carnival series of posts. This month, our carnies are exploring the theme of Time Travel, specifically: from where you are now, what one piece of advice would you go back in time to give yourself on your first day in business? Check out more of the Word Carnival series at WordCarnivals.com (going live 5/29).

How to be a ridiculously awesome failure

fail_20at_20failing

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.”

-Neil Gaiman

 

There are those weeks…..

Those weeks with way too many walls and not enough doors.

Those weeks that you feel you are a case study for the statistical relevance of Murphy’s Law.

And you just want to cry and then throw a tantrum (or several) and then put on a bubble suit, change your name to Esmeralda, quit this whole ‘blaze your own path’, entrepreneurship crap and go attempt to be ‘normal’ like everyone else.

That was my week last week.

Those of you who have followed me at all know that I’m an eternal optimist, almost to a fault at times. So it really takes a lot for me to have one of ‘those’ weeks. And although they royally suck, and large objects might be thrown and tantrums might be had and lots of Eminem might be listened to during said tantrum having and object throwing; they really are a bit of a necessary evil.

Those ‘ick weeks help me reset, re-evaluate where I am, where I want to be, what’s working and what needs to be changed. And once I recover from the collateral damage I’m ready to get out there and kick ass again, but this time with a better perspective or reworked plan of action to help me be even ‘ass kickier’.

Last night while doing my traditional Sunday ‘Brain Pickings’ reading, I stumbled upon Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech to the 2012 graduating class of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. And I need to add that the fact that I found this speech at the end of a rough week and the beginning of one that is poised to be renaissance of my ass kicking spirit, is evidence that the law of attraction is a completely accurate principle.

So anyway, in it Gaiman focuses on 8 lessons that should make up the foundation of your personal and professional journey. You need to watch the speech and really absorb them all, but most focus on the ideas of discovering what you love, doing it passionately, and in some ways selfishly, and not being afraid to fail or make mistakes.

That’s the part I love the most. One thing I can say confidently about my professional career is that I’ve always been a risk taker. Of course, as I’ve gotten older and learned through my many, MANY mistakes, those risks have become smarter and more strategic, but they are risks all the same. I’ve put myself out there a million, zillion times and done so fully and completely, balls to the wall, without looking back.

This is really the only way I’ve ever known how to do things….all or nothing, but never halfway. This is also what I coach my clients to do. Be smart, but go all in. Sometimes having a ‘backup’ plan is the surest why to ensure you’ll fail. Afterall, nobody starts a race with the plan of only running half of it and turning back, why should you start a business or pursue a professional goal with that perspective? That just never resonated with me.

Of course this has also meant that I’ve become a ridiculously awesome failure. I’ve crashed and burned more often than not. Some crashes from which I’ve recovered quickly and resiliently and some which have caused me to go a bit Ricky Bobby for a while.

“Help me, Jesus! Help me, Jewish God! Help me, Allah! Help me, Tom Cruise! Tom Cruise, use your witchcraft to get the fire off me!”

 

But I learn from each one, pick myself up and head fearlessly and fiercely into my next adventure. More than anything, this ability is what has summed up my professional career and ANY success I have had has been a direct result of it.

The other day in an email exchange with my amazing friend and colleague Tori Deaux of  Circus Serene about my current crowdfunding campaign for Call a Biz Hero, the business talk show I co-host with Nicole Fende, she so eloquently said:

“What I admire most about the whole Call A Biz Hero venture… is that you two are models for putting yourself out there and taking risks, pushing the limits, trying to break things and sometimes actually breaking them! Keep trying to break things. I’ll keep watching and taking notes”

And it dawned on me that if this alone was my legacy; fearlessly taking risks, ignoring the ‘box’ and convention, and trying to break the system when I saw a way to create something better….I would be content.

A long time ago I made a promise to myself that when I feared something I needed to evaluate why I feared it before deciding how I was going to respond to that fear. If the fear stemmed from the following two sources I would push through it:

1) Ignorance: Or simply not knowing or understanding some thing, some one or some situation. If this was the source of fear I’d do my research until I truly felt I knew enough to be able to evaluate if the fear was justified or not.

2) Worry of failure: Obviously for all of the reasons listed above.

That has been my guiding principle, and I’ve stuck to it rather religiously. In the end, it has never failed me, only helped me grow as a human, both professionally and personally.

So, if you made it this far, thank you. Sometimes I write for others, and sometimes I really write for myself and figure that if it somehow resonates with others as well, all the better. This post is definitely an example of the later. But my take away message is this:

You will fail. You will fail often. You will fail hard. And when you do, let me say to you in advance, congratu-freaking-lations! Failing means you are trying, failing means you are making an impact on the world and failing means that you are 100 million, zillion, ga-billion times closer to eventually stumbling on a way to succeed.

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