Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Social Media Story

It's Day 31 of the 31 day blog challenge and I've faithfully participated all 31 days! YAY! Maybe you haven't noticed, but, this is quite a personal accomplishment.

The other day, I came across an article about the "Millionaire Visa" and I thought it was interesting. Apparently, wealthy people from foreign countries can pay for an entry visa into the United States. The cost is $500,000 and the condition is that they create 10 full-time jobs. I'm actually writing more about it on my business blog since I work with affluent clients.

When I sent out the tweet, it was pretty matter-of-fact, but, I got a nice response. A few of the people who follow me thought it was interesting and said they wanted to know more.

This, my friends, is the power of social media. A lot of people don't understand or appreciate social media applications like Twitter or Facebook, but, this occurrence is part of why you should be participating there, if you aren't already. People do actually read what you write and you can get fans/clients based on the things you talk about.

It's not all about selling, so if that's what you have in mind, let's just forget that part. I've made new friends/fans by talking about some of my favorite TV shows, like Shark Tank, which I live tweet every Friday (when it's not a repeat). The other day, I gained new followers because I was tweeting about House Hunters, a show on HGTV that I'd never really watched (or tweet about) before.

It doesn't matter what you're interested in, but when you start a conversation on social media, you are inviting other people to become part of that conversation (good or bad) and it shares your message with the world. Remember, people do business with people, not nameless/faceless businesses. As a matter of fact, my very first client came from Twitter.

So, that's all I wanted to tell you today and I wanted to keep it short because it is Halloween. If you have some good social media stories, I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

PIA Prospects

Photo courtesy: Flickr Kyle Henson

I was planning to write about something completely different today, but I got wind of this post from the author of "Get Clients Now" and it resonated so heavily with me, I figured the other post can wait.

As entrepreneurs, we get excited when the phone rings or the email buzzes. It means that there is a potential for money in the bank. But, it's not just about making money or accepting anyone who wants to buy from you - remember, we're not Wal-Mart.

There are some people that you just don't want to deal with. They are a pain in the a** coming in the door, which means they're probably going to be a PIA throughout the relationship. You should avoid these people like the PLAGUE. It's important to know the warning signs so that you can run the other way.

C. J. does a great job of highlighting those signs for you. Here's the run-down:

  1. The prospect who comes in asking for a discount. They tell you that they'd REALLY love to work with you, but they can't afford your price. They may not be asking for a discount up-front, but ultimately, this is what they're asking. C. J. points out that these people don't value you as a professional (I'd add) or as an entrepreneur. 
  2. The prospect with the revolving door. They tell you how they've worked with several people in the past and none of them have been the right fit. Now, you can choose to put your cape on like Superman and think that you're going to come in and show everybody how it's done, but chances are they are hard/impossible to please and they're going to be telling the next hopeful the same line, but this time, your name has been added to the list. There's a reason plastic surgeons don't work with people who have had multiple same surgeries before or people who have sued 1 or more of their previous doctors. It's not good business.
  3. The prospect who wants a discount now and promises to send you TONS of business in the future. Yeah, right! How about you pay my regular rate now and then, in the future when you send me all this business, I can give you some kind of loyalty or referral discount. 
  4. The frantic prospect. You've been trying to contact them, they haven't been responding and all of a sudden they have some emergency and want you to drop everything and help them. Let's not go forming any bad habits. Everyone's time is valuable here!
  5. The prospect who doesn't have time to pay you up front, but wants you to start work anyway. Money talks. Serious people speak that language. When it gets to the money part of the deal and they've got problems and excuses, you're setting yourself up for failure.
Other people on the list include the people who want to have several meetings without closing the deal, people who only want to speak to references with projects EXACTLY LIKE THEIRS, people who want you to do things that aren't specifically part of what you do, people who want to increase the scope of work after you've already quoted pricing, and the non-committed prospect who wants you to block off your calendar for them.

OMG! I think I've dealt with 2 people recently that cover all 10 of the people on this list, that's why this was so urgent for me to cover right away. We want to see the best in people and we want to do business with people because we like them or we know them, but, as Jay-Z said, business is not about emotions.

If you've heard some (or all) of these stories from prospects, I'd love to hear about it in the comments and don't forget, if you want to read the full post by C. J., click here.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Creative Marketing Strategies

One thing I learned pretty early about being an entrepreneur is that marketing is important for getting the phone to ring. The other thing I learned, that's more specific to what I do, is that all marketing is NOT created equal.

I've spoken with my fair share of "marketing experts" and they would like me to believe that marketing is marketing is marketing, but that's simply NOT TRUE. My clients are affluent busy businesspeople and you just can't market to them the same way you market to everyone else. Don't believe me? Here's a question - when's the last time you've seen a Coca-Cola commercial on TV? Probably recently, right? Ok, now, when's the last time you've seen a commercial for Rolex or Audemars Piguet or Lamborghini or Hermes or Alexander McQueen on TV?

I'll wait.

You probably didn't come up with an answer for that because all marketing is NOT the same. Higher end brands like Rolex, Audemars and Lamborghini don't advertise on television. They do advertise in publications that also cater to their target demographic. This is proof-positive that all marketing is not the same.

Years ago, the top marketing methods were direct mail, TV and radio spots. Today, most people throw unsolicited mail in the trash, DVR shows so they can skip commercials, or listen to their MP3 player instead of the radio. So, it's important to come up with creative ways to meet your client-base.

One of the ideas I had was to go out to Open Houses (generally on Sunday) and meet high-end realtors because they're selling homes in the price range that my ideal clients are buying. This is a great way to get to know people, have face-to-face interaction and build the like, know, trust factor that is necessary in doing business. If the realtor likes me and the client likes the realtor, it makes the gap between me and the client a little smaller. It's all about relationship-building.

This is just something to think about. If you're out there hustling or grinding or even praying to get business, opening yourself up to opportunities for the right people to come your way is extremely important. Having a website is great, but unless you are or hire an SEO wiz, it's just not enough to bring people in the door.

What are some of the creative marketing methods you have tried? I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Barneys and Jay-Z

Have you heard about what happened at Barneys department store in NY? According to the reports, a young black male bought a belt at the store earlier this year using his bank debit card. It was allegedly reported as a fraudulent transaction by the sales person who assisted him and a block or two from the store, he was stopped and subsequently arrested by plain-clothed officers. He was held for a few hours while the whole thing was sorted out after the police verified his banking information, the transaction, and his receipt. Now, the young man is suing the company. You can read more details about the story here and a similar situation here.

I was extremely pissed off about this situation, if it happened the way they say it did. But this isn't about me, it's about business.

Enter Jay-Z!

Jay-Z recently inked a deal with Barneys for a Holiday Season collaboration. Proceeds from the deal are slated to go to the Shawn Carter Foundation, which provides scholarships for people with difficult socio-economic backgrounds so they can further their education.

People have taken to various forms of social media to state their displeasure in Jay-Z, who is black, doing a deal with Barneys, a corporation that possibly practices racism towards people of color.

At the time that everything broke, Jay-Z was away on tour in Europe; however, today he's released a statement that I think is very poignant:
"I move and speak based on facts and not emotion. I haven't made any comments because I am waiting on facts and the outcome of a meeting between community leaders and Barneys. Why am I being demonized, denounced and thrown on the cover of a newspaper for not speaking immediately?"
Does he have a point or what?

I would venture to say that people are boycotting for the sake of boycotting. Let's face it, there weren't a ton of black people shopping in Barneys in the first place. Someone on Twitter called for people of color to "shut 'em down" but that's just unrealistic.

We live in a society where "outrage" seems to be a hot-button word and everyone wants everyone else to respond IMMEDIATELY to any allegations or conjecture that is brought about regarding someone they they do business with. This is just not smart business! You can't spend all your time jumping to conclusions and jumping on the bandwagon, especially when most people make their judgements on half-cocked information. I'm not, by any means, excusing Barneys for what they've allegedly done. But, what I do know is that people and corporations make mistakes. It's how they clean up those mistakes that's important.

If we're expecting that every business is going to get everything right every time, we have unrealistic expectations for businesses, and, as entrepreneurs, for ourselves. I think Barneys first statement to the press was a load of BS and it did very little to soothe the upset of the people. The CEO, Mark Lee, attempted to rectify that by issuing another statement that seemed a little more sympathetic.

All this said, I believe that there's a lot to learn from this:

  • Make business decisions based on facts, not emotions, even if that means you have to wait.
  • Don't allow pressure from society (mainly people who probably don't do business with you anyway) to influence your decisions.
  • We make mistakes. Don't beat yourself up. Apologize and course correct ASAP!
  • Don't respond to legitimate concerns with fluff written by suits. It's not authentic and it's insulting to your consumers/clients.
  • Do what you can and consult/hire whomever you need to in order to get yourself from under the dark cloud as soon as possible.
We can always learn from other people's mistakes. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

5 Lessons from The Titanic

Everybody knows about the Titanic - the unsinkable ship, that sank. But, I bet there are some things you didn't know about it. I was listening to a talk radio station and this man was filling us in on some little known facts about the ship and how things happened.

Here are the bad business decisions that led to such a huge historical disaster:

  • The captain of the Titanic was planning to retire after this voyage and he was hell-bent on setting a record, so he required that the vessel travel "full speed ahead" and he went to bed that night, although there were warnings about ice in the water.
    • Lesson 1: It's important to slow down when danger is ahead of you.
    • Lesson 2: Don't sleep when you should be leading.
    • Lesson 3: Putting your selfish desires over the good of the people you serve can spell DISASTER.
  • The men that were on lookout up in the perch at night had requested binoculars, but the "powers that be" didn't see them as a necessity.
    • Lesson 4: As the Boy Scouts say, "Always be prepared." What may have been avoided if they had the tools necessary to do their job?
  • There were more lifeboats prepared for the ship than were actually on the ship because "the powers that be" felt that the lifeboats hanging from the side of the ship wouldn't look attractive in the photos, so they didn't put them on the vessel.
    • Lesson 5: Vanity costs more than it's worth, in business and in life. In the end, it's not worth it.
I hope these lessons are helpful and if you have heard anything else about the Titanic that you think we can learn from, I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Elephant in the Room

I'm a HUGE fan of The Shark Tank every Friday on ABC. I normally live tweet the show as I watch it and I've developed a nice group of people who participate in my conversations.

I believe that there is a lot to be learned from watching the show and the things that the entrepreneurs who enter the tank do/say. Sometimes, they have really good ideas, but they manage to talk the sharks out of all interest. Sometimes, they have not so good ideas and the sharks toy with them before sending them on their way.

Last night, a company called Elephant Chat entered the tank. They're a married couple who created a concept of a small-stuffed elephant inside a case that you would put in plain view of your partner to let them know you have something you need to discuss with them. The particular example given was that maybe your spouse left the toilet seat up. My response on twitter was that if a toilet seat becomes the elephant in the room and the need for a serious chat, your relationship probably has bigger issues.

Anyway, the product, although cute, was utterly ridiculous. They're asking people to pay $59 for a $3 elephant in a plastic case. If that's the case, why wouldn't a consumer just buy an elephant at the toy store and put it on the table - if that's the method you want to take in your relationship. But, I'm not here to diagnose relationship issues, I'm more concerned from a business standpoint.

  • The first order of business is to find a consumer need and fill it. As one of the Sharks told Jason & Amanda, there probably is a market for what they're selling, but it's not a broad market. 
  • Once you have the need and the plan to fill the need, you have to find your target market. They would probably have success selling this product to relationship counselors, as they are known for using "corny" methods to facilitate communication.
  • The third thing, which is pretty important, is to make sure you don't price yourself out of the market. $59 for a toy in a case? SERIOUSLY? It doesn't talk for you! And, if anything it's a giveaway that tells your partner to RUN if they walk in the house and see it on the table waiting for them.

Since Jason and Amanda didn't get the funding from any of the sharks, they're running a Kickstarter campaign to fund this product. At the time of this blog, 29 people have decided to invest in this product.

Don't be that person when it comes to business. Don't make these costly mistakes.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Plans Change

In this video, Donna Karan speaks about how her plans changed. She said that she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, until a random situation led to her becoming the head of design for Anne Klein when she was just 25 years old.

I've heard it said, "Man plans. God laughs." 

Sometimes, we have it in our head how we would like things to play out in our lives, but, as I expressed yesterday, you aren't the driver. If you allow yourself to be open to different experiences and opportunities, although they don't align perfectly with your plans, you could find yourself pleasantly surprised by the trajectory it puts you on.

Have you had a situation where something worked out differently than you planned and ended up being a blessing in disguise?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

You are NOT the Driver

Last week, during motivation week, I wrote a post around a motivational speech from Eric Thomas "How bad do you want it?" The thing is, although I agree with some of what he said, I don't agree with all of what he said for SEVERAL reasons.

As usual, I was having a chat with my friend Nicole Orisich about it. I told her that I don't believe in "grinding" because it tends to make people believe that the seeds you plant today will sprout tomorrow if you grind hard enough.

Or, in this case, Eric Thomas said that if you don't sleep and don't eat and just pound away at your goals, you will be successful. That may be true, but, you know what else you'll be - SICK! Your body needs rest and food and water just like any other living thing.

Nicole said "Grinding is a man-made action that enhances the illusion that we're in the driver's seat." She wrote a post on her blog a while back about that very thing.

I believe that everything happens when it's supposed to. You can spend 24/7/365 grinding, if that's what you think you should do and if it's not your time, it's just not your time. Now, this doesn't apply to schoolwork and studying, as referenced in Eric Thomas' video. He's right about school, don't quit because it's easiest. Spend more time studying and less time partying. Don't be so concerned about your social agenda that you miss out on your grades. I agree with ALL of that.

But as someone who knows from firsthand experience, you can put in all the work you want for something that you want and if it's not your time to have it, all your work is for nothing.

Take the steps to make sure that you stay prepared, so that when the timing is right, you don't have to get prepared, but as far as grinding is concerned - leave that for the gears.

The truth is, you aren't as in control of things as you'd like to think you are and your constant need to be the bus driver will cause madness, depression and a host of other problems. I don't think it's worth it.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


It's important to celebrate your victories, no matter how small. It's good for your morale and your sanity.

Don't get so caught up in the big wins that you don't understand, embrace and celebrate the little things along the way.

Here are some ways that you can do that:

  • Write a "Things Done" list at the end of the day, instead of a To-Do list at the beginning of the day. It helps you see how much you did or did not accomplish on a daily basis. 
  • Create an accomplishments list of at LEAST 10 things you've done that you're proud of. Maybe you want to put this somewhere that's visible to you regularly.
  • Write a list of 50 of your best qualities. (I had some trouble with this one myself and had to get help from friends)
These are just a few suggestions that can hopefully get you started on your way to a continuous complaint-free path that embraces your blessings. Additionally, when you know what's great about you, you can express that in your business.

I hope this helps...but if it doesn't, you're not allowed to complain about it. LOL!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Grab Your Scissors

In keeping with the No Complaining Challenge that I think we should all participate in, I want to present you an option - GRAB YOUR SCISSORS!

That's right, it's necessary to cut some things and some people out of your life in order to enhance your positivity. It's said that negative people can add to feelings of sadness and depression and who needs that in their life.

I would suggest that you check in with yourself from time to time and figure out who/what needs to be in your life and what needs to be out. It's not an easy process, by any means. Sometimes, you'll probably feel guilt or some other negative emotion related to doing so, but, in the end, for your positivity, not to mention, your sanity, you have to do what's best for you.

What I would suggest you do is get a pen and paper and start making a list of the people in your life that give you the most grief, complain the most, always have something negative to say, don't support your business, etc. That's a good place to start, but I also want to be clear - cutting people out of your life doesn't change the way you feel about them. It just says that you're going to care about them from a distance and not give them cart blanche to interfere in your life/business/thoughts.

The next thing would be to take inventory of the things around you - the things that you complain about, that get in the way, that immensely annoy you, but you keep around anyway. Start getting rid of those things as well.

For some people, this process is going to be longer and harder than it will for others. That's ok. You work at the pace that best suits you as long as you're committed to getting it done.

In the end, you're going to feel lighter, you're going to see things differently and you're going to have more room/time to appreciate the good things in your life without spending so much time/energy focusing/thinking about the negative things.

Do you have a process for evaluating your life and cutting things out? I'd love to hear from you in the comments. Additionally, if I can offer you any support on this journey, I'd love to hear from you as well.

Snip! Snip!

Monday, October 21, 2013

No Complaining!

I've been interested in writing a post about not complaining for a while now. It seems that complaining has become a way of life for a lot of people. I remember years ago, a friend of mine wrote a Facebook post to complain about how much people were complaining - oy vey!

When you watch TV or listen to conversations, children are complaining, everyone is (claiming to be) stressed out, nobody wants to do whatever it is that they're doing, but they do it anyway and murmur the whole time. It's intense to see.

I have another friend who has a job that she constantly complains about, but she complained constantly about NOT having a job. People without money complain about that. People with money find something to complain about. Fat people complain about thing people. Thin people complain about fat people. Commuters complain about the car, the walk, the bus, the bike AND the subway.

People with jobs complaining about being sheep. People that are entrepreneurs complain about the hard work of working for themselves (guilty!).

I say we do away with all the complaining.

I've heard it said that the more you complain, the more you'll have to complain about; however, the more you're thankful, the more you'll have to be thankful for. So, I present to you the 21-day No Complaining Challenge.

Can you find it within yourself to replace your negative thoughts/words with positive ones? I'm sure that for some people it would be much harder than for others, but I don't think it's impossible for ANYONE!

Whenever you're feeling the itch to complain about something, focus on the solution:
Instead of saying "I'm hungry" (which is a complaint, by the way), just go get something to eat and give thanks for being able to do so.
If you're cold, grab your jacket and be thankful for it instead of complaining about it.
If you hate your job, be thankful for having one while you work on your exit strategy.

The list goes on and on, but I think you get the point. As Joel Osteen reminded us yesterday, Be Positive or Be Quiet.

So, I'd like to challenge you to make your entire life a Complaint-Free Zone for 21 days. This means you don't complain and you don't listen to the complaints of others. You focus on being thankful, positive and finding solutions.

If you'd like more information on how to do so, take a look at or do a Google search for "21-days no complaining" and read some of the information that comes up.

I believe it'll change your life. Are you ready?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Motivation Week - Joel Osteen "Be Positive or Be Quiet"

It's Sunday and the end of Motivation Week. I've tried to include a little something for everyone, so, today, as they say, "Let's take 'em to church."

I chose Joel Osteen because he's known for his motivational speaking. His sermons are about uplifting people, not condemning them, as some other preachers tend to do. He's also pretty brief in his delivery, so I encourage you to take about 30 minutes to watch the whole video.

The summary of the message is this - rain falls into everyone's life and you give your thoughts power when they become words, so, it's your responsibility to speak positively or not at all. It's easy to complain and moan about what's going on, or going wrong, in your life, but when you dwell on that, you're missing something good that's going on.

As Al Pacino told us yesterday, it's all about living one inch at a time. It's ok if you don't get it right, but don't dwell on it. Give your positive thoughts life by speaking those things.

I challenge you to try it for 21 days and see how you feel at the end of that time.

I hope you've enjoyed Motivation Week. I'd love to hear from you in the comments section.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Motivation Week - Al Pacino "Heal or Crumble"

Warning: The video I've shared today contains some cursing (so does my blog) so, if you're not comfortable with a few curse words, I wouldn't suggest watching it (or reading my blog LOL).

As a movie-lover, I was bound to give you a motivational week post that came from a movie and I found the perfect one from Any Given Sunday, a 1999 film about a football team. Well, I suppose it's more complicated than just being about a football team, but it's mostly about a football team. It's a star-studded affair - Cameron Diaz, Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx, James Woods and Dennis Quad.

Most people call this the "Inch by Inch" speech and while I can see the relevance in doing so, I decided to focus on another important point made in the beginning of the speech:
Either we heal as a team or we're going to crumble.

Here's the thing, in life and in business, shit happens. You make bad decisions. You work with the wrong people. You chase the wrong thing. Nobody's perfect and anyone who tells you that they've gotten it 100% right from the beginning to end is either lying to you or they aren't making any decisions. I once heard it said "If you're not making any mistakes, it's because you're not making enough decisions." But, no matter the outcome of your choices, when things don't go well, you have the option to heal and move forward or crumble into pieces and stay there on the floor.

Lord knows I've had quite a few scenarios when I've been faced with such a decision - should I give up or should I keep going? Ultimately, my desire to be successful and my passion for what I do far outweighed any desire I remotely had about quitting.

Pacino goes on to say:

Life is a game of inches. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They're in every break of the game, every minute, every second. We claw with our fingernails for those inches because we know that when we add all those inches up, it's going to make the f*cking difference between WINNING and LOSING. Between LIVING and DYING!

In any fight, it's the guy who's willing to die who is going to win that inch.

Now, whattya gonna do?

So, that's it - that's all there is. You live your life and you run your business one inch at a time. You do the best you can with what you have and you press forward in spite of bad choices/mistakes or less than favorable situations.

Are you motivated yet?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Motivation Week - Jada Pinkett Smith "Approval"

For motivation week, I have been posting videos from motivational speeches, but today, I wanted to do something a little different. I follow Jada Pinkett-Smith on Facebook and she tends to post some very poignant thoughts. Recently, my friend and fellow blogger Chiquandra, posted about caring so much about what other people think.

As a society, we used to have norms and values that guided what is/is not appropriate. Over time, some of those things have been challenged and rightfully so to push the envelope and open the door to innovation (think Masters & Johnson) and in other instances they have been challenged in very bad ways (think Recently Bill Maher did a New Rules segment (Rated R) about it, and while I don't agree with 100% of what he says, I felt 100% about that particular topic...but I digress.

At any rate, it's important to have a healthy balance between being concerned about what's appropriate (in any regard) and being obsessed or even paralyzed by what other people think. If the thoughts of others are causing you misery or paralysis that keeps you from moving forward with your life and/or your dreams, you need to check-in with yourself and figure that out.

If you have a desire in your heart to test and write about vibrators or sex or you want to want to walk cross-country collecting signatures on American flags or you want to give free lessons in coding to a homeless man - you can't allow the thoughts of others to keep you from pursuing what's in your heart.

Follow your heart - not your fear. If this didn't motivate you, maybe tomorrow's post will. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Motivation Week - Nick Vujicic

Have you ever heard of Nick Vujicic? He's a magnificent motivational speaker without arms or legs. His brand is "No Arms, No Legs, No Worries" and I think it's an incredible way to live.

Growing up, I heard people say "I used to complain about not having shoes, until I met a man who didn't have feet." Essentially, it's people's way of telling you to count your blessings, but also a way of acting as though whatever you're going through isn't a big deal. I don't believe that! What you're going through is a big deal to you when you're going through it.

That's why I like Nick because his message is not to tell you that your problems are smaller than his, but to motivate you to know that if he can overcome, so can you.

In the clip, he gives some very poignant points:

  • You will have good days and bad days, but you will always learn something new. You will learn more overall on bad days.

If you didn't go what you've gone through, you wouldn't be who you are.

  • You need to know the answer to 3 questions:
    • Who are you & what's your value?
    • What's your purpose here in life?
    • What is your destiny?
I hope this video will motivate you to do some deep thinking and get you FIRED UP! READY TO GO! If not, the week's almost over. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Motivation Week - Eric Thomas "How Bad Do You Want It"

I came into motivation week with the mindset that I wasn't going to post videos from the same person more than once, but, I had to make an exception because this speech got me so FIRED UP! READY TO GO! that I just had to post it for you.

Yesterday, I (re)introduced you to Eric Thomas, a well-known motivational speaker and his video "Shut Up." I included a link to today's video because it's received over 3 million hits on Youtube, but as I was watching it, I decided that something this powerful needed more than just a passing mention. (I almost scrapped yesterday's video and replaced it with this, but I think we deserve both.)

The video is packed with information and I encourage you to watch it for yourself. Here are some of the highlights:

  • When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you'll be successful.
  • If you're going to be successful, you have to be willing to give up sleep. If you go to sleep, you might miss the opportunity to be successful.
  • Don't cry to give up. Cry to keep going. You're already in pain, get a reward from it.
  • You won't be successful until you have the passion in your heart that's worth more than money.
  • It's not about where you come from, it's about heart!
  • You should be able to, at any moment, to give up where you are for what you want to become.
  • Pain is temporary, but eventually, it will subside and success will take its place. If you quit, it will last forever.
Ask yourself - are you being the best YOU that you can be?

If this video didn't motivate you, maybe Monday's video or Tuesday's will do it. If none of those work, I'll see you tomorrow for the next one.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Motivation Week - Eric Thomas "Shut Up"

If you've never seen an Eric Thomas video on Youtube, he's a very accomplished motivational speaker. He speaks with athletes and schools and other groups. He's extremely motivated and he wants to give you the tools you need to be successful.

His speech "How bad do you want it" has over 3 million views on Youtube.

It's pretty funny that the title of this video is "Shut Up" and he has a lot to say, but it's a motivational speech and his passion comes through in what he's saying.

Talk less. Grind more.

Let your work speak for you.

Eric is saying that we spend too much time talking about what we want to do and who we want to be and not as much time being/doing it. There's clearly a method to his madness. At some point, you just have to shut up and do it.

Stop wishing. Stop waiting. Start working.

I hope you found this video motivational and in case you didn't, maybe yesterday's video would do it. If that still doesn't work, stay tuned, I'm bringing you something motivational every day this week.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Motivation Week - Dr. Schwarzenegger's 6 Rules for Success

Every now and then, especially as an entrepreneur, we need some motivation. Especially after the week I had last week. So, this week, I'm going to dedicate to motivational speeches. Each day this week, I am going to post a speech from Youtube and give you the notes from it. Hopefully, by the end of the week, we'll both be FIRED UP! READY TO GO!

"These are my rules and I think that they can apply to anyone, but that is for you to decide. Not everybody is the same. Some people want to kick back and coast through life and others want to be very intense and be number 1 and be very successful." - Arnold Schwarzenegger

Dr. Schwarzenegger's 6 Rules of Success:

  • Trust yourself! What is most important is to dig deep down and ask yourself "who do you want to be" not WHAT but WHO. Figure out what makes you happy, no matter how crazy it may sound to other people. Figure out what's inside of your heart and your head.
  • Break the rules (not the law)! We have so many rules in life about everything. "What's the point of being on this earth if you want to be liked by everyone and avoid trouble?" The only way you will ever get any place is by breaking some of the rules.
  • Don't be afraid to fail! You can't always win, but don't be afraid of making decisions. You can't be paralyzed by fear of failure.
  • Don't listen to the naysayers! Just imagine if Bill Gates had quit. They told Eunice Kennedy Shriver that the Special Olympics wouldn't work. People told Barack Obama that it couldn't be done. 
  • Work your butt off! You never want to fail because you didn't work hard enough. Leave no stone unturned. No pain, no gain! If you want to win, there's no way around hard work.
  • Give back! Whatever path you take in your life, you must always take time to give something back to your community. Reaching out and helping people will bring you more satisfaction than you've ever had.
"Never lose that spirit of optimism." - Arnold Schwarzenegger
I hope that you will be motivated by these 6 rules, as I was and if not, maybe the motivation from tomorrow will do better.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Evolution of Nikki

If you know me, you know that I'm a SERIOUS Jay-Z fan. There's not a person who is in business who resonates more with me than he does. Not because I want to be a rapper, but because his business acumen is unparalleled.

I was watching the documentary "Jay-Z Made in America" directed by Ron Howard and Jay said something that really resonated with me and some things that I've been dealing with/experiencing as an entrepreneur.

When you evolve as a person, you learn to listen to your instincts and intuition more.
As you've probably read in previous posts, my failure to listen to my gut instincts/intuition has led to nothing but trouble and bad business decisions.

I'm evolving and as such, I am definitely going to do a better job of taking not of what my gut/intuition says, but acting on in it the proper format.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Change in Perspective

This blog used to be "My Entrepreneurship Diaries: Sharing stories because it's a marathon, not a sprint"

I believe that if you're going to be in entrepreneurship for the long haul, you're going to need to hear stories that help you along the way. It's a hard row to hoe (as granny would say) and you need to know you're not in it alone.

Lord knows, I've made more than enough mistakes about it for ALL of us. For examples, see here, here and here. I've been on the verge of quitting more times than I'd like to count, but there's something inside of me that keeps pushing me because my business isn't just what I do, it's a huge part of who I am.

A while back, I read a blog post by Blake Cavignac that discusses the scientific reasons as to why you should treat entrepreneurship like a sprint, not a marathon.

Now, I have a different perspective on the whole thing. Marathons can be tiresome and if you dont' approach them right, you will burn out long before the finish line.

Sometimes, a change in perspective is best.

Friday, October 11, 2013

My Picker is off

My friend Nicole Orisich reminded me that I have to be accountable for my own actions. I'l admit, this is something I'm normally pretty good about, but I was apparently more bothered than I realized. It's times like this when I'm very appreciative of her New York candor.

Here's what happened:

For the last 3 years, and against my business preference, I've been pursuing a business relationship with a celebrity. I normally don't work with celebrities and I'll probably write a blog about why later.

The reason I've been extremely interested in working with this particular person is because I believe in his brand and message to the world. (Or so I thought)

When I met him in person 3 years ago, we had a chat about what I do. It was just conversation, at first. Then it turned into the possibility of me working with him.

The first time we discussed it, I was told that he was "genuinely interested" but due to financial reasons and some revamping within his organization, it would have to wait until after the first of the year.

The first of the year rolled around and I checked-in again. I was told that it's still not the right time.

For a very long while, I was busy doing other things, living my life and I forgot all about doing business with him until the beginning of this year when I found out we were in the same city at the same time. When he sent me a message with his cell phone number and told to contact, that's what I did.

We chat and it was a bit of a "You're exactly what I need" conversation. I was excited, as before, about the prospect of working with someone I respected.

For the last 10 months, we've engaged in a series of extensive chats and text conversations and the reason that the deal hasn't been sealed has varied from one thing to another.

In August, we had an extensive conversation (our first) about what his business needs are and the list was pretty extensive, but it was all things within my wheelhouse, which I explained. I talked about my experience and how I could save time and take care of all these things.

The end of the conversation sounded promising. He said they needed to discuss it with his wife, but he was "really interested" in moving forward; however, my fee was a challenge. Everything in business is negotiable and it has to be a win-win for all parties involved, so I was willing to negotiate.

Immediately after the conversation, as is customary for me, I sent an email to memorialize what we discussed including the scope of work and my fee.

I didn't get a response. But, he had already said he was terrible about following-up, which is why he had put all the responsibility on me over the years to stay in contact with him. (I'm guessing)

Then, he dropped the f-bomb. He said he wanted me to work for FREE so he could get familiar with my work. At this point, he may as well have used the other 4-letter F-word.

But, I said I was willing to talk about it. (What was I thinking?)

So, he didn't want me to work for free. He didn't want to pay me. He didn't want to negotiate. He didn't want to follow-up. He can't afford me. His money is tied up. He's busy. He's got other things going on.

In the midst of ALL THIS, he's saying "but keep checking in with me" or "call me next week" or "I'm going to call you in a minute" or something/anything else. The latest "reason" he gave me is that he needs to wait until after the first of the year.

My general rule is if I have to chase you to work with you, I'll probably have to chase you for payment. He seems to fit right into this rule.

This is where it hit the fan. With his last text message about not having the money, I told him that I'll resign the idea of us working together. (I mean seriously, it's been THREE YEARS!)

His response was a super-long text message that said I shouldn't take a business decision personally (which I didn't - business is business and I don't have another minute to dedicate to pursuing someone with more excuses than a kid). Then, he said something about pursuing Jay-Z for the last 7 years and he'll never give up (maybe if he had me on his team, I could get him closer - I do have some connections, after all). Followed by telling me that I've never put anything on paper, no scope of work in detail.

Which one is it? Are we not working together because you can't afford me? Because you want me to work for free? Because you have personal issues? Because you need a scope of work? Or, are we just playing games?

I responded and told him that I did send the scope of work, followed by a text message screen-shot of the email with time and date stamp and the email address I sent it to.


This has been absolutely absurd and again, I broke all my rules by pursuing a celebrity, negotiating from a point of weakness, and wasting too much time on someone who isn't actually ready to pull the trigger.

A lot of the trouble I've found myself in business-wise, is based on my failure to listen to my gut and follow my own rules. I'm not even mad about this. Not because it didn't work out. I am a little pissed by him questioning my integrity and accusing me of not sending the scope of work, just because he didn't check his email. But, I feel like he's grasping at straws and trying to poke holes in my business acumen.

Every experience is a lesson. Have you ever had an experience where you didn't listen to your gut and it got you into trouble?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Are you practicing the "3 Ups?"

I recently watched Oz The Great and Powerful and it's a pretty good movie. 

James Franco's character, Oz, was talking to Finley, his new flying monkey companion and he said that in order to be a successful assistant you need to remember the 3 ups:
  • Show Up
  • Keep Up
  • Shut Up
I thought this was a brilliant summary of business (and life), especially as it applies to what I do.

I'm a Personal Concierge. I work with affluent clients and my top priority is to protect the principal(s) that I'm supporting. I need to show up, not just on time, but early. I need to keep up because most of my clients are movers and shakers. I definitely need to shut up - confidentiality is my top priority.

But these aren't just the rules for what me. They apply to you, too. It's a summary of what all customers expect! 

They want you to show up for what they need, keep up with their requests and shut up when it's not necessary. My dad used to say all the time, "You have 2 ears and 1 mouth, so you can listen more than you talk."

I have an extensive background in customer service and that "shut up" part is something that I mastered during that time. People want to vent and then they want to work towards a solution.

I think that if you can master the 3 Ups for your business, you will do extremely well and I also think that it's something that the best business people, like Jeff Bezos, understand.

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Offense is a choice

I learned that offense is a choice and as a result, I don't get offended by things, although the media would lead you to believe it's the go-to reaction for anything you don't agree with.

I am thankful that certain situations have been coming along which practically allow this blog to write itself and that makes this 31-day challenge easier.

Here's my latest diary entry:

Recently, I had a chat with a lady about business and my experience and stuff. She kept making comments like, "You're so cute. Aren't you adorable? How'd you get to be so smart?" 

It was the equivalent of being pat on the head and pinched on the cheek. I mostly looked at her with a smile and a bit an "are you serious?" head tilt.
Since I don't know her, I couldn't tell if it was sincere or condescending and as much as I embrace my youthful appearance, I kept thinking I'm too old for this. 
Quite a few people told me that they would be offended by these remarks. I choose to take a different perspective. Sometimes, people just don't know. They have no clue that they sound condescending or border-line rude "How'd you get so smart?" REALLY?!

So, I choose to accept the statements as compliments, no matter what her intention was or what her thought-process was behind them and I refuse to jump on the "Let's ALL GET OFFENDED" bandwagon.

I find that things work out better that way - for all parties involved.

Have you ever faced a situation that could have been offensive in a business conversation? I'd love to hear your stories.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Matching messages

I recently posted a status on Facebook and it got an overwhelming response, so I decided to turn it into today's blog post:

I met a lady who was a contradiction in many ways. She writes for a fashion blog, yet she was dressed - um, let's just say far less than fashionably (and I'm no fashionista, but this was just far less than what I expected).
She was very pleasant to speak with, but she used maybe one or 2 phrases that are meant to sound intelligent over and over again.
Then, she said that she was a grammar nazi/word nerd like me; however, when I researched her, I read her public blog and it's abundantly clear that isn't true.

This isn't judgment of her. Maybe it was a bad day for her wardrobe. This is just the epitome of some things I've been thinking about lately.

What happens when what you say you are and what people see you as don't line up? You say you're a lady, but you dress like much less than a lady. You say you're a Christian, but the majority of your words are filled with hate and far more judgment than they should be.

As they say in the 'hood - "Don't talk about it, be about it."
Is it just me, or do you see this happening a lot lately? People say they're one thing but their actions say they're something else.

People watch both - your words and your actions because they want to see if they line up.

Do your messages to the world match?

Monday, October 7, 2013

How being ripped to shreds changed my perspective

Photo: Flickr MadMup

In 2011, I took a bold leap and moved from Houston, TX to Los Angeles, CA. A place I had been wanting to live for a very long time. Finally, the circumstances aligned that gave me the ability to go.

It was probably THE SCARIEST/MOST EXCITING thing I've ever done in my life and you'll probably hear more stories about that as this month rolls on.

Prior to doing so, I reached out to some contacts I had made to try and line up business contacts, as well as job prospects while I looked for a job.

I had no idea just how different the culture would be.

A few months into the new year, I finally had an opportunity to have a meeting with a man that owns a placement agency. He and I had been corresponding while I was in Texas via email. He said that he was impressed with me (a phrase I never really know how to take) and that he would be delighted to speak with me and try to help me when I arrived.

It took several months from the time I arrived until I actually got a meeting with him and he said it was to be an "informal" meeting, which in LA-speak, means, "I'll meet with you so you can stop bothering me."

Although the meeting was informal, I still dressed more towards business - something I may wear on a job interview. He wore a very tight button up shirt that was practically see-through, with no undershirt and jeans.

I felt overdressed.

We exchanged pleasantries and in spite of my several emails with him, he asked me to remind him who I was again, which I did.

After some chit-chat about why I moved to Los Angeles and him re-reviewing my resume, since I brought a hard copy, let the shredding begin:

  • The name of your business is not sophisticated. It may be cute back in Texas, but it just won't do out here
  • Be mindful of the way you speak. 
  • Some of your words are flat, maybe you should watch videos of Mrs. Obama speak and practice speaking like her (I don't speak like Reba McEntire, although there is a Southern twinge to my speech)
  • Do you work out? Maybe you should join a gym or go to Runyon Canyon, remember, in your line of work, you're a physical representation of whomever you're working for (did he just call me fat?)
  • Your business card is over the top, you need something plain, more subdued (my business card is a direct reflection of my personality and my brand - it's silk, red on one side with white letters and white on the other side with red letters)
  • When you say "thank you" you should look people in the eye (although I was taking notes as he was talking)
He spent the a little over an hour telling me everything that he thought was wrong with me. Although I'm from Houston, to him, I may as well have been from Cut and Shoot, Texas or Backwoods, Mississippi. I get it, Houston isn't the most sophisticated place in the world, by ANY stretch of the imagination; however, I'm well-educated, well-mannered and I conduct myself accordingly.

He gave me quite a few useful pointers regarding my resume and some careless mistakes that I had made, so for that portion of this experience, I was grateful, but as for the rest of it - when I left his office, I was ready to get back in my car and drive back to Texas.

I sat with his words for a while. I even cried. I was upset that he felt that way about me. I was upset because he had seemed so friendly before. I was especially upset that I had allowed him to hurt my feelings in that manner. And, I'll admit, for a moment, I was upset that I had come to LA - if this was what my experience was going to be like, I was in the wrong place.

Then, I started to see things differently. These were the opinions of ONE man. 

I've heard it said, "If one person calls you a horse, you sock them on the nose. If a second person calls you a horse, you call them a jerk. If a third person calls you a horse, then perhaps you should go shopping for a saddle."

Don't allow the opinions of one person, or even two people, with little or no significance in your life distract you from your dreams/goals/mission. Chances are, they don't have the purest intentions in the first place and instead of being honest, they wrap it in a bunch of BS.

Once I grasped this lesson, I was able to handle things differently. 

I don't get up in arms about what people say about certain things, especially when they're not a trusted source of information. Additionally, it's not worth it to get upset about someone's opinion when they probably weren't ever planning to do business with you in the first place.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

What's Your Personality Type?

I think the more you know about who you are, it will help you deal better with the people you serve.

We all tend to know what we like and what we do, but, I don't think everyone takes some time to learn WHY we do it.

A few weeks ago, I took a personality test and found out that I'm an ENTP - Extroversion, Intuition, Thinking, Perception.

I knew these things, but I didn't know the depth of it. I knew that I'm outgoing, or an extrovert, but I also have some introvert tendencies (who knew?).

I knew that I have pretty good intuition; however, I'll be completely honest and say that I don't always listen to it. It's something I need to work on.

I'm a thinker and I have pretty good (almost excellent) perception, although, like my intuition, I don't always listen to that either.

The first time I took the personality test, it was the Harry Potter version and told me which character I was most like (Sirius Black), but since I don't know that much about Harry Potter, it didn't resonate with me.

Today, I got a new version which shows me people I can actually relate to. Turns out, other ENTPs include President Obama, Benjamin Franklin and Robert Downey Jr. - all of whom are some of my favorite people.

So, I encourage you to take the test and I'd love to hear what you find out in the comments section. Like I said, the more you dig into this, I think it can help you in business and in life.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Simple Saturdays

For the majority of the week, I am all about business.

But, on Saturdays, I like to relax. I usually watch some stuff on Netflix (X-Men, Justice League, etc) or Andy Griffith on Amazon Prime. It's how I relax and you're never too old for Saturday morning cartoons.

Sometimes I do some reading, but, it has to be something that really holds my attention to give my Saturday!

The other thing that brightens my Saturday would be my 2 godchildren - Amber, a 4 year old feisty girl and AJ her 1 year old very active brother.

As much as I LOVE these 2, I have to make a lot of adjustments to everything. For starters, I can't stay in the bed watching cartoons on my iPad.

I have to adjust what I watch on TV and let's face it, today's cartoons just can't compare to the old school stuff (except Phineas & Ferb). No movies with violence or excessive cursing - so, basically, no movies because if it's not action/thriller, I'm not watching.

Adjustments not withstanding, I absolutely light up when they're around and isn't life all about making adjustments with a great attitude?

So, that's what my Simple Saturday consists of because we ALL need some downtime.

In the comments, tell me what your Simple Saturday looks like.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Why I Don't Give Out My Email Address

OK, I know that sounds a bit like I'm a snob, but I promise you, it's not the reason I don't give out my email address.

My first set of business cards included my email address and I used to go to different networking events with my friend and there would be lots of other entrepreneurs there.

I would stand around in these circles and watch people interact with other people where they would start a conversation like this:

"Hi, I'm Liz, what's your name?"
"Nice to meet you Nikki. So, what do you do?"

That's a rude way to interact with someone and you think it's appropriate, you're wrong.

The point of their interaction was to find out what you do so they can possibly try to sell you something and then, they ask you for your business card and they end the conversation with you and move on to the next person in the crowd.

After watching this happen a couple of times, I'd actually lie and tell them that I was fresh out of business cards. Now, I don't include my email address on my card. When I got cards with just my name, phone number and web address, people acted like I had broken some unwritten code of what a business card is supposed to look like.

Networking with a business card with your email address on it can lead to 2 possible outcomes.

Either they're going to give you a follow-up call to try and sell you whatever product/service they're selling, even though you expressed no interest in it.

Or, they're going to input your email address into their newsletter system and you're going to start receiving these unsolicited emails from them.

I used to just unsubscribe myself and not say anything about it. Now, thanks to some information from a friend of mine, I've actually elected to reply to their email with a link to an article that explains fully why you shouldn't add strangers to your email list.

Chris Brogan wrote a post some time ago where he had to send an email to someone who had added him without his permission.

Sure, I may seem like a snob for not giving out my email address, but if you're adding people to your email list/newsletter without their permission, it seems like desperation.

Don't be THAT person.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Business Tips from The Sheriff and the Inspector

It's #ThrowbackThursday again, so I want to talk about one of my favorite TV shows of ALL TIME!

The Andy Griffith Show. (Only the black & white episodes when Opie was still small)

During Season 1 (available to watch on AmazonPrime), episode 27, the State Inspector comes to the jail in Mayberry.

Andy was expecting the inspector who normally comes, Sam Allen, which has also become a buddy. Andy and Sam normally go fishing and hunting during the "inspection" visit.

Instead, Sam has been replaced by a strictly-by-the-book man, Ralph Case.

Inspector Case is pretty appalled by the laid-back way that Andy conducts things in Mayberry. He doesn't like that the jail cells are set-up to make people feel at home. He doesn't like that Otis (the town drunk) isn't locked away in his cell. He doesn't like that Andy brought Otis a cake for his birthday (which means a lot to Otis).

There are rules. Lots of them. And Andy just doesn't follow those rules.

Inspector Case goes from rude, to insulting, and back again a few times before easy-going Andy has to tell him off.

Eventually, they have a situation with one of the Mayberry residents, Luke, who runs a still (he makes moonshine) and he gets upset and starts shooting his rifle.

Naturally, Inspector Case freaks out and wants to call in the State Police with guns and tear gas to take the man down.

Andy manages to get in the house and take Luke into custody without a gun, any force or any backup.

Here's the takeaway:

Everyone doesn't do things exactly by the book. It doesn't mean that their way of conducting business is any less effective. You can't go around thumping on some rule book and trying to get someone to bend to the way you think they should do things. (This applies in business and life)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Detachment is scary

When I first saw the trailer for Gravity, the upcoming Sandra Bullock & George Clooney film, I don't think I breathed much for most of it.

I was holding my breath and almost in tears as I watched Sandra Bullock being carried off into space, initially by some mechanical piece and then by a lack of gravity.

I had my "OH MY GOD" face as I wondered what would happen to her. How would she get down? Couldn't she just swim through space and head back to the ship? Ok, maybe that last one was illogical, but panic had set in - mine, not hers.

It's a 6 minute trailer that has so much action and uncertainty in it, I can't imagine how my heart would be able to endure watching the entire film.

If you haven't watched the trailer yet, I'll wait. It's going to help you understand what comes next in this blog post.


Being an entrepreneur can be some scary shit! Let's just be real about it.

In order to become an entrepreneur, it takes a lot of moxy to detach yourself from the life you're used to - steady employment, benefits, a steady PAYCHECK, and venture out into the unknown.

Everyone handles this differently.

At some point, when things aren't necessarily going according to planned, panic can set in and just like Sandra, all of your training goes out the window - and FAST!

Around 1:38 of the video, you can hear George Clooney trying to give her instructions "You need to detach from that arm or it's going to carry you too far and I won't be able to reach you."

Have you ever felt that way? Has there been something that was carrying you too far off the path you're supposed to be on?

Have you allowed the distraction/disturbance to cause you to panic and you can't hear that inner voice or voice of a friend that is trying to guide you back to where you need to be?

Maybe there's a level of panic/fear that is keeping you from quitting your job.

Maybe there's something you want to do with your business that panic/fear is preventing from you doing.

It's ok!

It's going to be ok!

Just breathe!

At this point, I don't know how Gravity is going to end, much like you don't know how your story is going to end.

What I can tell you, is this - if you hold on and keep the panic at bay, you will get through it.

If you've got a detachment story, I'd love to hear from you in the comments section.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Marketing Genius at Work

Image: lizethvelez Tumblr
At the risk of being THAT person who mentions her again, I want to talk about Miley Cyrus.

I'll wait until you finish groaning and rolling your eyes.

Ok - here's the deal. Love her. Hate her. Be completely indifferent. This young lady is doing big things.

Keep your judgment to yourself about how you feel about what she's doing. That's unimportant, because we're talking about business and entrepreneurship here.

Have you ever heard the statement, "When there's blood on the streets, buy property?" Baron Rothschild said it in the 18th century. It basically means, strike while the iron is hot. My friend says something similar, "The opportunity of a lifetime must be seized in the lifetime of the opportunity."

That's what she's doing. She's seizing the opportunities that are in front of her. She's never going to be 20-years old again with the golden ticket.

Fame is fleeting and social media has maximized people's ability to hold on to their 15 minutes as long as possible.

In the month since her VMA performance, she has been on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, and released, her video Wrecking Ball has over 100 MILLION hits on Youtube, her video 23 has over 23 MILLION hits as well as (re)introducing people to Michael Jordan tennis shoes and gear.

This means that everyone's cash register is ringing right now, hers, Youtube and its advertisers, Rolling Stone, Michael Jordan and every single web source who has written about her or mentioned her in the last month.

Everytime you click on a Mashable/HuffPost/Cosmo/etc. link on any social media source that mentions her name, someone is making money from it.

This is marketing at its finest. People want to talk about you and what you're doing because you have something spectacular going on. It doesn't matter what the ultimate bottom-line is the cash registers are ringing and at the end of the day, it's the ultimate goal.