OBAL 015: Your Badass Guide to Tax Season

Time For Taxes Message Showing Taxation DueOutside of the folks at H&R, I am pretty sure most people don’t enjoy tax season, us included! It is a necessary evil. “Did you properly fill out your schedule C? How about your 1065?” Crazy paperwork overload. There is no escaping it though. In this episode, we talk you through taxes and how we prepare ourselves to get through this process each and every year. We break this down into four questions that you can’t overlook to survive the tax season:

  • The first question is Where is the paperwork? It seems like you need to hire a secretary to keep everything in order.
  • The second question is Who is doing your taxes? This may be a function of cost or of your level of comfort.
  • The third question is Are you getting all the credits and deductions? If there is one thing that the professionals know, or should know, are all the different credits and deductions that you need claim.
  • The fourth question is What can I do different this year? However your taxes turned out, short of a near balance, you have some adjusting to do. Some people feel that getting a check around tax time is great and others don’t like lending money for free to the government.

So listen in as we discuss these four questions in further detail, and lay out your Badass Guide to Tax Season.

Be sure to support our podcast by sharing it with others and rating our podcast on iTunes. Ratings helps us keep our podcast visible, giving other a chance to check our podcast out. A special thanks to those that have already provided a rating.

If you’d like to comment in this episode, please go to the bottom of this podcast. We look forward to reading your comments.

Don’t forget to check out the resources page to get access to some of the tools we have made available to our audience.

We are glad you joined us. Now go live one badass life!

OBAL 014: Save Your Marriage with Date Night

love_110009989-1013intIf someone was to ask us the top three things that keeps our marriage going, in no specific order, they would be:

  • Open and real communication
  • Eternal love
  • And Date nights

That’s right, date nights! We love our date nights! They don’t have to be over the top, although those rock too. Setting aside time for the two of us to reconnect without the boys helps us to rekindle our relationship. Now I know the initial reaction is going to be “date nights are great but making time is the biggest roadblock.” We totally understand. In this episode, we break this down into four tasks that you need to accomplish to make your date nights awesome:

  • The first task is kid logisitics.  Every successful date night will come down to kid logistics. If you can’t check this task off your list, you are not going to have fun.
  • The second task is the Itinerary.  Now that you know that the kids are taken care of, you can move to the main event.  Date nights can vary, so you need a plan!
  • The third task is to Focus.  Date nights are your time to focus on each other. Not your work emails, not fantasy football, not Candy Crush. This is so important in our date nights! This gives you the ultimate time to talk to each other.
  • The fourth and final task is Enjoy.  This should go without saying but the whole point of this night is for the two of you to have fun TOGETHER.

According to a study by the National Marriage Project called the Date Night Opportunity, Couples are 21% more likely to get divorced if they rarely have couple time.  I will give you a link to this report in our April Resources Page.

So, tune in and listen to our discussion as we expand on our four tasks and give you the tips you need to have amazing date nights over and over!

Be sure to support our podcast by sharing it with others and rating our podcast on iTunes. Ratings helps us keep our podcast visible, giving other a chance to check our podcast out. A special thanks to those that have already provided a rating.

If you’d like to comment in this episode, please go to the bottom of this podcast. We look forward to reading your comments.

Don’t forget to check out the resources page to get access to some of the tools we have made available to our audience.

We are glad you joined us. Now go live one badass life!

OBAL 013: Urban Farming, Rollins Style!

farmyard-hens-1013tm-pic-1070We have ourselves a bonus episode. To properly celebrate, we decided to talk about something that involves our entire family, can be really fun and helps us eat healthier. That’s right, Urban Farming! Chickens and fresh produce right out of your backyard. Tune in to our discussion about the four questions your family needs to consider before you start an urban farm:

  • What do you want to grow and/or raise?
  • What can or can’t you do in your backyard?
  • Does your family Understand the amount of work involved?
  • Are you going to have fun with it?

Be sure to support our podcast by sharing it with others and rating our podcast on iTunes. Ratings helps us keep our podcast visible, giving other a chance to check our podcast out. A special thanks to those that have already provided a rating.

If you’d like to comment in this episode, please go to the bottom of this podcast. We look forward to reading your comments.

Don’t forget to check out the resources page to get access to some of the tools we have made available to our audience.

We are glad you joined us. Now go live one badass life!

OBAL 012: Job Search Strategies that Really Work!

Job In Maze Showing Finding JobsLooking for a job can be one of the toughest things you will ever do. What is the most difficult part of your job search? Have you got your resume built for all the different jobs you want to apply for? Do you know how to network with the right people to get noticed? Is your social media platforms ready for the visitors it is going to get from your job search?

You need a plan and we are here to help. In this episode, we discussed the four tools that will make your job search really work! Our four tools are:

  • Resume
  • Networking
  • Social Media
  • Research

Be sure to support our podcast by sharing it with others and rating our podcast on iTunes. Ratings helps us keep our podcast visible, giving other a chance to check our podcast out. A special thanks to those that have already provided a rating.

If you’d like to comment in this episode, please go to the bottom of this podcast. We look forward to reading your comments.

Don’t forget to check out the resources page to get access to some of the tools we have made available to our audience.

We are glad you joined us. Now go live one badass life!

OBAL 011: Making Spring Break Fun at Home!

Happy school children playing tug of war with rope in parkThere will be years that for one reason or another, your family won’t have a vacationed planned. This doesn’t mean that your family still can’t have fun. You just need to be creative. When you put your mind to it, you will be amazed at the great times and memories you have made. We have had many spring breaks that schedules and/or budget have given us this opportunity. In this episode, we discussed the three keys to a fun spring break at home:

  • Make family time
  • Local camps while you are at work
  • A family project

Be sure to support our podcast by sharing it with others and rating our podcast on iTunes. Ratings helps us keep our podcast visible, giving other a chance to check our podcast out. A special thanks to those that have already provided a rating.

If you’d like to comment in this episode, please go to the bottom of this podcast. We look forward to reading your comments.

Don’t forget to check out the resources page to get access to some of the tools we have made available to our audience.

We are glad you joined us. Now go live one badass life!

OBAL 010: Rock Your Vacation and Afford it!

Cruise Ship On A Cruise Near The SeashoreIt’s spring break season! Time for a much needed vacation. We always want the best vacation, free of stress and full of fun. However vacationing can be very expensive. Are you concerned on how you are going to afford everything you want to do?

In this episode, we discussed the three factors to an affordable vacation;

  • what type of vacation do we want
  • where your money goes while on vacation
  • how you can save enough money to keep your vacation within your budget.

So, tune in to get your vacation finances in order!

Be sure to support our podcast by sharing it with others and rating our podcast on iTunes. Ratings helps us keep our podcast visible, giving other a chance to check our podcast out. A special thanks to those that have already provided a rating.

If you’d like to comment in this episode, please go to the bottom of this podcast. We look forward to reading your comments.

Don’t forget to check out the resources page to get access to some of the tools we have made available to our audience.

We are glad you joined us. Now go live one badass life!

OBAL 009: How to get Your Kids Asking to do Chores

Family Picking Up Litter In Suburban StreetDo you struggle with getting your kids to do help with chores around the house? Maybe you can get them to help, but it becomes more of a headache for you because your kids lack the drive to do a good job. In this episode, we discussed just that. As parents, we must help our kids build good habits. Our three step approach has us in an enviable position of having our kids ASK us to do chores.

  • Step 1: Getting them engaged and learning their chores
  • Step 2: Building and expanding
  • Step 3: Rewards

Be sure to support our podcast by sharing it with others and rating our podcast on iTunes. Ratings helps us keep our podcast visible, giving other a chance to check our podcast out. A special thanks to those that have already provided a rating.

If you’d like to comment in this episode, please go to the bottom of this podcast. We look forward to reading your comments.

Don’t forget to check out the resources page to get access to some of the tools we have made available to our audience.

We are glad you joined us. Now go live one badass life!

OBAL 008: How to Tell Your Boss to Suck It in a Nice Way!

Change Same Signpost Showing That We Should Do Things DifferentlyThere comes a time in everybody’s career where you have had it with your current career or job and are ready to make a move to change to something better. Is it the right time for you? Your Family? Are you ready for the change? Do you want to tell your boss to suck it? In this episode on freedom, we discussed our approach to a career change and these four tips to get to think about:

  • Plan how your life is going to transition with the career or job change
  • Make sure you understand how the change will affect others
  • Strategize on what you need to do between now and when you leave
  • Prepare yourself for the change

Be sure to support our podcast by sharing it with others and rating our podcast on iTunes. Ratings helps us keep our podcast visible, giving other a chance to check our podcast out. A special thanks to those that have already provided a rating.

If you’d like to comment in this episode, please go to the bottom of this podcast. We look forward to reading your comments.

Don’t forget to check out the resources page to get access to some of the tools we have made available to our audience.

We are glad you joined us. Now go live one badass life!

OBAL 007: Fun Places that are Easy on the Wallet

kids-watching-aquarium-1113tm-pic-632From visiting the local parks to matinee movies, there are thousands of fun things you can do without spending a fortune. In this episode, we discussed some of the fun places that our family has enjoyed over the years. So, tune in while we talk about:

  • What makes a good outing with your family.
  • Outdoor activities that cost next to nothing.
  • Who knew that learning could be fun too!
  • Get your exercise in while having fun.

Be sure to support our podcast by sharing it with others and rating our podcast on iTunes. Ratings helps us keep our podcast visible, giving other a chance to check our podcast out. A special thanks to those that have already provided a rating.

If you’d like to comment in this episode, please go to the bottom of this podcast. We look forward to reading your comments.

Don’t forget to check out the resources page to get access to some of the tools we have made available to our audience.

We are glad you joined us. Now go live one badass life!

OBAL 006: How to Spend Thousands Less on Groceries

Food Prices High Monitor Showing Expensive Grocery Costs

Groceries can dominate your budget. But where do you start? Listen in to our discussion on how to save thousands on your groceries.

In the last four years people have increase their spending on groceries by 17%. According to the USDA, the average household groceries budget in the United States is $150-$200 per week. That’s $7,800-$$10,400 per year! Through a lot of planning and budgeting we have been able to get ours down to $50-$75 per week! We discussed the following four tips that got us where we are:

  • Groceries can dominate your budget excluding your mortgage
  • Making a plan
  • Stocking up for rainy day
  • Sticking to the list!

Be sure to download our Save Thousand on Groceries premium content mentioned in this podcast. This download will give you all the sites that Tracie uses to help put together our master shopping list. This premium download is available for free for a limited time. Download it at our resources page and join our Badass Membership!

Be sure to support our podcast by sharing it with others and rating our podcast on iTunes. Ratings helps us keep our podcast visible, giving other a chance to check our podcast out. A special thanks to those that have already provided a rating.

If you’d like to comment in this episode, please go to the bottom of this podcast. We look forward to reading your comments.

We are glad you joined us. Now go live one badass life!

OBAL 005: A Teen’s Perspective on Social Media and Parents

social-network10-01-111413-2421.epsIf you have teens, it’s likely they engage with their friends through social media. Parenting is hard enough without the internet. So we have brought in a special guest to guide us on:

  • Top five social media sites used by teens
  • How and why these sites are being used by teens
  • Advice and tips on how we as parents can engage with teens through social media
  • How do parents keep awareness up on what their teens are doing
  • Five things parents should not be doing on social media
  • Secrets that your kids don’t want you to know about!

We have a special giveaway for you this month. Be sure to visit our website to learn how you can get your free copy of A Busy Parent’s Guide to Social Media-Facebook Edition. Go to our resources page to download it today.

Be sure to support our podcast by sharing it with others and rating our podcast on iTunes. Ratings helps us keep our podcast visible, giving other a chance to check our podcast out. A special thanks to those that have already provided a rating.

If you’d like to comment in this episode, please go to the bottom of this podcast. We look forward to reading your comments.

We are glad you joined us. Now go live one badass life!

OBAL 004: Building a Passive Income Business

passive income word cloudAre you stuck trying to pay your bills without ever having the opportunity to get ahead? Sometimes there isn’t an option to get that promotion or change careers. In this episode, we discuss a possible alternative to help your finances, passive income. We discuss the following four tips to get you started:

  • Examples of a passive income business
  • What are the benefits of a passive income business
  • How does someone get started with creating a passive income business?
  • Getting traffic to your site

Be sure to support our podcast by sharing it with others and rating our podcast on iTunes. Ratings helps us keep our podcast visible, giving other a chance to check our podcast out. A special thanks to those that have already provided a rating.

Don’t forget to check out the resources page for tools mentioned in our podcasts.

If you’d like to comment in this episode, please go to the bottom of this podcast. We look forward to reading your comments.

We are glad you joined us. Now go live one badass life!

OBAL 003: Operation FUN! Kids Night Out.

Family Preparing meal,mealtime TogetherKids sure do grow up quick, right? You have to make the time you have with them count. In this episode we introduce you to our Kids Night Out! One minute you are holding them in your arms, their eyes solely on you and nothing else. The next minute they are asking to borrow your keys. You have to make the time you have with them count.  We discussed the following items to get you and your kids on the path to Fun:

  • The story of how we came upon this concept of mom and dad time with the kids
  • How to keep the events unique and interesting without blowing the budget
  • Conversations Starters with your kids

Be sure to support our podcast by sharing it with others and rating our podcast on iTunes. Ratings helps us keep our podcast visible, giving other a chance to check our podcast out. A special thanks to those that have already provided a rating.

Don’t forget, download the Conversation Starters tool in our resources page to help you break the ice with your kids.

If you’d like to comment in this episode, please provide your comments at the bottom of this post. We look forward to reading your comments.

 We are glad you joined us. Now go live onebadass life!

OBAL 002: Your Road to Debt-Free Living!

Debt concept.The road to debt-free living starts with acknowledging your debt, making a decision to stop, identifying why you make purchases, making a plan to get out of debt, and living a debt free life!

Debt can impact your family in so many ways. Over 40% of US families spend more than they earn and the average American carries over $8,400 in credit card debt. This has to stop! You have to make a change and we want to help you start. In this episode we discussed these five steps that will get you on the road to deb-free living:

  • How we got out of our debt.
  • Making a decision to stop
  • Identifying our purchase behavior and understanding why we make purchases
  • Making a plan to correct it
  • How to keep your debt-free living

Be sure to support our podcast by sharing it with others and rating our podcast on iTunes. Ratings helps us keep our podcast visible, giving other a chance to check our podcast out. A special thanks to those that have already provided a rating.

Don’t forget to check out the resources page for access to tools that we have created for our audience.

If you’d like to comment in this episode, please provide your comments at the bottom of this podcast. We look forward to reading your comments.

We are glad you joined us. Now go live onebadass life!

OBAL 001: Ignite Your Marriage

Enamoured couple is playedWe’re excited to bring you the first episode of the One Badass Life podcast where we’re sharing the things we’ve done in our 16 years of marriage and how we can help you ignite your marriage.

It’s our mission to bring the latest and greatest tips and tricks that will help you achieve solid F’s in life. These F’s include family, finance, fun, and freedom.

In this episode, we discussed the following:

  • How we met
  • The highlights of what things we have done to keep our marriage interesting.
  • What tips we can share that might help our listeners create a strong relationship?

Be sure to support our podcast by sharing it with others and rating our podcast on iTunes. Ratings helps us keep our podcast visible, giving other a chance to check our podcast out. A special thanks to those that have already provided a rating.

Make sure to download our Zombie Tag Rules on our resources page. You and your kids will have so much fun with it!

If you’d like to comment in this episode, please go to the bottom of this podcast. We look forward to reading your comments.

We are glad you joined us. Now go live onebadass life!

Free 2014 New Years Resolutions Worksheet

New Years Resolutions worksheetThe new year brings new hope and new beginnings. It’s a  chance to reflect on the past, be thankful for progress made, and to resolve to make this year even better.

Free 2014 New Years Resolutions Worksheet

This worksheet is designed to step you through the process of developing realistic and achievable resolutions. You’ll step through your 2013 successes and opportunities to identify resolutions that will make 2014 a great new year. You’ll also identify other areas to focus on as you create your New Year’s resolutions. Take a few minutes to fill it out and post it somewhere visible so that you can track your progress throughout the year.

Celebrate Success
Take a look back at 2013. What did you do that was really great? What do you consider your successes from last year?

Identify Strengths
Review your successes and highlight reoccurring themes. What strengths do you see that tend to repeat over and over in your successes? What do you consider your strengths?

Learn
It’s important to identify what you didn’t accomplish last year and why you didn’t succeed in that area. This helps you identify what you want to work on this year and mitigate the risk of failure.
Were there areas that you wanted to improve upon that you didn’t get to last year? What resolutions didn’t get checked off?

Opportunities
Identify weaknesses that you want to improve on in 2014. These are opportunities for growth.

Planning
What stood in your way of accomplishing what you set out to do last year? How will you stay ahead of those risks this year? What reminders, systems, or accountability partners do you need to put in place to help you achieve your goals for 2014.

Resolve
Resolve to grow by improving upon your weaknesses

Resolutions
Now it’s time to make that infamous New Years Resolution list. Take some time to think outside of the box and come up with other resolutions that will surely make 2014 the best year of your life.
List them in the space provided and post it on your refrigerator, mirror, or workspace.

Other Areas
In addition to strengths and opportunities, other areas that you might want to add to your list include family, fun, finances, freedom.

Word of the Year
Once you’ve put your resolution list together. Think about one word that describes your focus for the year. Keep that word close to your heart an remind yourself each and every day to encourage you to have a fantastic year.

My word for 2013 was CHANGE and boy did that happen in a really big way.  I quit my job, moved on towards a better one, started a business, a blog, and relished every bit of family time I could possibly steal in a day. Remembering my word each day helped me to persevere during the tough trials of everyday life. My word for 2014 is LIVE.  I’m excited to share the events of the year with you. What’s your word for the year?

8 Tips for Conference Attendees: Get the Most Out of Your Conference Experience

8 Tips for Conference Attendees

Image courtesy of Phil Whitehouse under Creative Commons License

Conferences are a great way to learn a ton of information in a short amount of time. They’re also a great way to reenergize your business, make new connections and establish life-long relationships. Here are 8 tips for conference attendees to ensure you get the most of out of your conference attendance.

8 Tips for Conference Attendees

1. Get the Best Seat

Sit a close to the front as possible. This is where all of the serious people sit. There are less distractions, less opportunities to checkout, and more chances to engage with the speaker. I treat conferences like I do a Depeche Mode concert. I make my way to the front row and take in every single word.

2. Do Your Homework

Learn everything you can about the speakers and their topics before the conference. Engage with them on social media and let them know you’re looking forward to their lecture. This makes the transfer of learning easier since you’re already familiar with their speaking style and topic.

3. Engage with the Speakers

Listen attentively and write down questions. If there’s a chance to ask questions after the lecture be sure to take advantage of that opportunity. While everyone is rushing to get to the next lecture, pause for a moment and let the speakers know what you enjoyed about the lecture. If you learned something, follow up with them and let them know how you’ll apply the technique they mentioned.  Speakers love to hear how you’re implementing the tips and tricks they’ve shared with you.

4. Buy the Video Library

Often times the video library is a few hundred dollars. This is a cheap way to make sure you get all of the information, rather than having to miss out on concurrent sessions. This also saves you the hassle and stress of trying to make sure you don’t miss a thing. You’re hands will also appreciate not having to write or type so much.

5. Purchase Materials

Often times you’ll get an attendee discount on books and training when you attend a conference. If you’ve done your homework and know the speaker and their offerings, you’ll be prepared to take advantage of a special deal and reduce the changes of buyers remorse.

6. Stay Healthy

Ensure that you stay hydrated and fed. Learning transfer is less likely to occur on an empty stomach. Be sure that you take a protein bar or granola bar with you just in case you need it. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after the conference.

It’s best if you can focus on the conference and leave you work at the office. However, often times you’ll need to work during the night after a long day at the conference. Try not to work too much. Remember to get some sleep so that you can be alert and ready to go the next day.

7. Bring Breath Mints

There’s nothing like stinky breath to make a gal want to grab your card an move on to the next conference attendee. Bring a pack of breath mints to keep the conversation going.

8. Business Cards

Business cards are still a great way to stay in contact and they’re pretty cheap. Bring them with you so that you can hand them out. Be sure to follow up with all of the attendees that gave you one. This will jump start the development of a great business relationship.

What are your tips for a successful conference?

 

 

 

Uncover Your Buried Dreams

“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” – James Dean {Tweet That}

Your Squashed Childhood Dreams

When you were a child, you saw the endless possibilities that our world has to offer. You made declarations of greatness like becoming the president, a rockstar, a famous actor or an artist. You described adventures like exploring the world, flying like a bird, being a hero, and slaying a dragon. Your plans were great, but life got in the way and they became buried in the sea filled with other priorities, negativity, pessimism, and lack of resources.
You continued your journey through life accumulating just the right mix of information and advice that beckoned you along a different path. A path far from your dreams. Maybe you faced a difficult event that left you without resources to move forward or forced you in a different direction. Perhaps your greatest influencer, parent, or teacher laughed at you, petted you on the head, or simply stated that your dream was stupid. Maybe you told yourself that it would never happen, and that you should grow up, stop dreaming, and consider something more realistic. Whatever the reason, it’s time to pause, assess where you’re headed, and give yourself permission to dream again.

Uncover Your Buried Dreams

You might be thinking that you have no dreams, have too many dreams, or have no time or money to pursue them. That’s fine. You don’t have to accomplish your dream in one day. Just take one small step to remember what you wanted to do or be when you were young. Who did you pretend to be?  What did you pretend to do? What was it about that experience that made you happy? Write down your childhood dreams in a journal. All of them.

Today’s Dreams

Once you’ve accumulated a list of childhood dreams, review them to determine if they are still relevant. Move the dreams that you still want to accomplish to the top of your list. Then think about dreams that you have today that you want to fulfill. Write them down.

Once you have a comprehensive list of your dreams, group like items together. Then prioritize them. A good rule of thumb is to start with one dream that you can easily achieve because success with one dream leads to success with another.

Writing down your dreams is the first step in uncovering your purpose. Your dreams, combined with your passion and native genius will bring clarity to your life. {Tweet That} You can start taking steps towards fulfilling your dreams today.  In doing so, you’ll discover more about yourself and your purpose along the way.

What did you discover about yourself as you began to uncover your dreams?

Uncover Your Buried Dreams

Seven Steps Towards Identifying Your Purpose

Seven Steps Towards Identifying Your Purpose

Identify Your Purpose
In my last post I shared seven steps towards identifying your purpose. In this post I’ll break them down.
1.    Uncover buried dreams
2.    Articulate your passions
3.    Discover your native genius
4.    Identify your unique characteristics
5.    Review the activities above for similarities and commonalities
6.    Choose the activities that are key to driving your purpose
7.    Define your story based on these activities

Uncover Your Buried Dreams

In this step you’ll search your past for the dreams that you’ve buried as a child. Who did you pretend to be?  What did you do? What was it about that experience that made you happy?  It’s likely that someone in your life discouraged you from pursuing that dream because it wasn’t practical or because they wanted to influence you to choose a different path. It’s time to bubble up that dream and write it down.

Articulate Your Passions

Understanding your passions helps you identify the things that you like to do that bring you joy. Think about the things you love to do at work, during your personal life, and when you volunteer. These are your passions. Write them down.

Discover Your Native Genius

In the book, Multipliers, Liz Wisman and Greg McKeown identify native genius as something that you do naturally and exceptionally well.  It takes little effort on your part and you often find yourself doing it without reason, payment, or condition.  When you are doing something related to your native genius, you get results that are head-and-shoulders above others and you do it without breaking a sweat.
What’s your native genius? Discover yours by answering these questions:
•    What do I do better than anything else I do?
•    What do I do better than the people around me?
•    What do I do without effort?
•    What do I do without being asked?
•    What do I do readily without being paid?

Identify Your Unique Characteristics

Think about all of the things that you love or admire about yourself. Consider the positive statements or titles that the people in your life assign to you. Think about what people will say about you when you’re gone. These characteristics  are part of your purpose.

Find Similarities and Commonalities

After you’ve spent some time journaling your responses, take some time to discover the similarities and commonalities. The activities that occur most frequently help you fulfill your purpose.

Define Your Story

Now that you have an idea of the activities that make up your purpose. It’s time to imagine your life as a journey with you as the hero or heroine. Think about the activities that you listed above. Who are you helping by performing those activities? Why do you need to help them? If you rescue them, what will happen?  Define the story that you need to live; this story is your purpose.

Discovering your purpose takes time, self-reflection, and intention. Spending 30 minutes answering the questions posed in this article will help you identify it and take the first step towards personal mastery.  What’s your purpose?  Share it in the comments below and if you have a website or blog be sure to let me know about it too!

How to Discover Your Purpose

How do you discover your purpose? Each of us seeks the answer to this question at one point in our lives. We strive for a deeper understanding of why we’re here on this earth. We seek the one answer that explains our existence and seems to beckon a life that’s more meaningful than without it. We read self-help books and look within ourselves, to God, to our friends, family and co-workers to shed light on what seems like a complicated mission statement just outside our reach. We seek that one thiDiscover Your Purposeng that makes sense and leads us on the path to greatness.

If you’re looking for the one thing that you can define as your purpose, you might as well forget it. Your purpose is  more than just one thing, action, task or goal. To believe that you are here on earth to fulfill one purpose simplifies the entire journey of life into a moment of achievement that when accomplished leaves you asking…”now what?” The truth is that you have many reasons for being on this earth. Discovering your purpose is about articulating them.

More than One Purpose

Historical figures,  leaders, influencers, and Jesus had more than one life purpose. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s purpose was to lead India to independence, and inspire worldwide movements to reduce poverty, inspire civil rights movements, expand on women’s rights, and allow for religious freedom. Mother Teresa’s purpose was to teach children, care for the poor, help heal the sick, and advocate for the disadvantaged. Jesus had at least many reasons for coming to this earth, one of which was to bridge the path to God through his sacrifice for our sins, but there are at least 20 reasons listed in the bible by my count.

How to Discover Your Purpose

Your purpose in life isn’t just a statement. It’s the set of actions that you take that leave the world better than when you came into it. There are seven steps that you can take to identify your purpose.
1.    Uncover buried dreams
2.    Articulate your passions
3.    Discover your native genius
4.    Identify your unique characteristics
5.    Review the activities above for similarities and commonalities
6.    Choose the activities that are key to driving your purpose
7.    Define your story based on these activities

In my next post I’ll unpack each of these steps. Have you taken any time to discover your purpose?  What tools, processes, or methods did you use?

How to Apply For Coverage Through the Health Insurance Marketplace

In this post, I’ll show you how to apply for coverage through the health insurance marketplace {Tweet That}.

A Brief History

By 2014 all non-exempt Americans must have health insurance according to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare. This act was passed and signed into law on March 23, 2010. The purpose of the ACA is to increase the quality of health care and lower the uninsured rate.  Only God knows whether or not it will actually fulfill its promise, and if past behavior is an indicator of  future success the chances are unlikely. For the sake of this article, let’s just assume its everything it promises to be.

If you have health care through our employer, you probably don’t need to read this article unless you want to marvel at the beauty of a site that requires multiple redundant requests for information,  long wait times, and no immediate answers.  {Tweet That} Wait, that’s normal…right?

Health Insurance Marketplace

If you are an American or immigrant with a certain status as defined here, you can get insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace assuming that you can actually get to the log into the site. The government (these are not the furloughed employees who were declared non-essential and sent home on the day of the launch) is working over the weekend to fix the glitches that have plagued the site since its debut on October 1, 2013.

Having worked in both the public and private sector, the lack luster launch doesn’t surprise me. However, once you get to the front of the virtual line, you can start enrolling and receiving the benefits that this system provides.

Benefits of ACA

It’s important to note that the ACA doesn’t actually provide the insurance. It simply facilitates the purchase of affordable health care coverage. Each state can determine if they want to use the federal program or if they are providing their own. Some of the benefits that the ACA provide include:

  • Prohibiting insurance companies from dropping your coverage
  • Eliminating discrimination based on gender and existing health conditions
  • Increasing the age of coverage eligibility to 26 for young adults who are on their parent’s plan
  • Protecting rights to appeal insurance decisions
  • Protecting against unjustified rate hikes

How to Apply For Coverage Through the Health Insurance Marketplace

How to Apply For Coverage Through the Health Insurance Marketplace

To apply for coverage through the health Insurance Marketplace, you’ll need to visit www.healthcare.gov. Make sure that the https and .gov are in the url. If the extension is not .gov, you’re likely at the wrong site or perhaps even a phishing site that wants your personal information. Be careful and report any suspicious sites to the United Sates Computer Emergency Readiness Team site here. There are four parts to the application process:

  1. Setting up your account
  2. Verifying your identity through your state application process
  3. Applying for coverage and help with payment
  4. Waiting for your options

Setting Up Your Account

Once you’re on the site you’ll follow these steps:How to Apply For Coverage Through the Health Insurance Marketplace Queue Page

  1. Select the Apply Now button
  2. Select your state
  3. Wait your turn
  4. Set up your account with basic information (note that you’ll have to enter your state again as the only information that carries to other pages is your name)
  5. Create a username and password
  6. Select three security questions
  7. Check your inbox to complete the account setup

 Verify Your Identity

How to Apply For Coverage Through the Health Insurance Marketplace State ApplicationOnce you’ve clicked the confirmation link in your email, you’ll proceed to apply for coverage through your state application process.

To complete this step you’ll:

  1. Click the Next button
  2. Enter your contact information again, including your state (Is it just odd to me that I need to enter in my state on the Arizona application page?)
  3. Answer identity verification questions such as, residences, credit card numbers, and phone numbers

 

Applying for Coverage

Once you’ve verified your information, you can apply for coverage.

How to Apply For Coverage Through the Health Insurance Marketplace application startTo complete this step:

  1. Click the Get Started button
  2. Agree to the privacy policy
  3. Enter your contact information (Are you counting  how many times you’ve entered the same information in the system yet? Hmmm…..I suspect that the Health Insurance Marketplace links many systems to one user interface, which is why they don’t talk to each other nicely. Sound familiar?)
  4. Note who’s helping you in this process (Please don’t say me. I’m not a  health insurance expert by any means.)
  5. Apply for payment assistance (If you apply for payment assistance, you’ll need to enter your contact information…again. You’ll also need to disclose your immigration status. )
  6. Add additional family members
  7. Review your information and virtually sign the document

Waiting for Options

Once you’ve completed the three main steps, you’ll wait to hear back on what type of coverage you qualify for. This process could take days or weeks.  It’s not instantaneous. You’ll get a notification, pick from the options, complete the process, and make a payment.  I anticipate that there will be many opportunities for you to wait in this process. Just be patient. Insurance doesn’t kick in until January 1, 2014 anyway.

Live Chat Functionality

I was pleasantly surprise at the live chat functionality that was available in the process. Anyone may ask questions through the live chat. However, be prepared for a decent wait time. I was in line for 18 minutes before it was my turn. Unfortunately, I navigated away from the page to write this post and was disconnected within 2 minutes.

According to CNBC, 99% of Obamacare applications don’t have enough information in order to enroll the applicant into a plan. We’ll have to wait to see if my application has enough. I’m looking forward to seeing the options that are available to me and comparing them with what’s available through my employer.  Have you applied for health care coverage?  What was your experience?

11 Steps That Help You Spend Less and Save Thousands

Saving money on the things you need is a skill that’s easy to perfect. In this post I’ll share 11 steps that help you spend less and save thousands on items that you’re buying anyway. I’ll even show you how I saved a thousand dollars in one shopping trip.

How I Saved a Thousand Dollars in One Shopping Trip

11 Steps That Help You Spend Less and Save ThousandsOver the years saving money has become automatic to me. I owe a lot of my frugality to my mom, who loves to splurge but does so strategically. When I pay full retail price for an item, it’s painful but there is always a good reason and I usually come out ahead in the long run.

I’m always searching for what I need or want at the lowest price. I combine coupons and rewards to get what I need at a fraction of the price others pay for the same items. The key is to combine sale items with one or more of the following:credit card rewards, manufacturer coupons, store coupons, store rewards and bonuses, shopping cards, shopping apps, and online websites, such as Ebates. You can get $10 from Ebates by using my referral link here. I usually get at least two discounts in for each item, but three or more is the norm.

Yesterday, I went to Kohls because I had a few items that I needed to purchase. I worked a few extra gigs this month, which also freed up money for some non-essential want items as well. Armed with my 30% off coupon and their Kohls cash promotion, I headed out to knock some of the items off my shopping list. Shopping the clearance and sales racks, I found 30 items of clothing, 2 pairs of shoes, and one Mint floor cleaner all at 75 – 90% off. The sales representative looked at my receipt and said, “I’ve never seen this before. You saved over a thousand dollars. That’s amazing”. She handed over $40 in Kohls cash to spend next week, and I smiled and replied with a thank you.

I’ve wanted the Mint cleaner since it debuted, but the $250-$320 retail price tag was a bit high for an item that wasn’t a necessity. After my coupons, it ended up costing $90 and I received $10 in Kohls cash to spend later. For $90, it’s well worth it! On a side note, the Mint is working beautifully. I plugged it in overnight and it cleaned my floors for over an hour today, putting my mopping (which was done yesterday) to shame.

11 Steps That Help You Spend Less and Save Thousands

  1. Plan Ahead – Planning ahead is essential so that you get the best price on items that bring value to your life. Buying items that you want, but will never use is called wasting money. It’s not saving money. I’m not suggesting that you can never have something that you want. However, I am suggesting that everything you buy works to provide value. You should absolutely buy something that you want if your budget permits it.
  2. Make a List – Grab a journal or a piece of paper and write down the items that you need in one column and items that you want in another column. Write down the name of your favorite stores that carry the item.
  3. Assign Dates – Necessities have dates. If you truly need the item then it’s likely that you need it by a certain date.  For the items that you need, write down the date that you need it by. For example, if you need a dress for your Christmas party on the 10th of December write down December 9th. For items that you want, use a key milestone. Milestones can be  key events such as, birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, a weight loss goal,  or a promotion.
  4. Budget – Allocate a set amount of money each month to save towards your  needs. You don’t have to spend the allocated budget each month. In fact, you shouldn’t. Use the strategies below to get what you need for cheap, and save any extra money for more expensive necessities and want items.
  5. Wait – Wait for the item to go on sale. This is probably the hardest step. The more you practice this step, the better results you’ll have. Almost everything you’ll purchase in your life will go on sale at one point or another. The key is to plan ahead so that you can snag what you need when it’s at a great price.
  6. Compare – Compare resale with new items and brand name items with similar off label brands. If the off label brand is comparable, consider purchasing it in lieu of the brand name. If the brand name is the reason why you’re purchasing the item, take a step back and assess who is influencing you and why you believe you need that brand. Then think about  the statement that you’re making to the world and those close to you when you wear the brand name item. If this statement supports who you are, then by all means stick with the brand label.
  7. Off Season – Consider purchasing items that are off season for next season. The best time to purchase swimsuits, shorts, sandals, and t-shirts is during the fall. Late in September or early October stores begin slashing prices because they are trying to make room for the Christmas merchandise and winter wear. If you have growing kids like me, purchase a few sizes up and make sure pants can be adjusted.
  8. Inspect – Make sure that the item that you’re purchasing is worth what you’re paying. Inspect it. Are there any holes, stains, or imperfections? Is the stitching tight or easily unraveled? Does the item function as intended? Never purchase low quality items just because they are cheaper. There’s a reason why some items are significantly less than others.
  9. Coupons – Keep an eye out of coupons. Many stores will offer percentages off, buy one get one, free items, and dollars off coupons. When you find a high value coupon and have budget available, it’s time to shop!
  10. Rewards – Combine rewards with coupons. Rewards can be cash back or points. I’ll post more on rewards programs in a future post, because there are great online and offline shopping strategies that you can use to get more for your dollar.
  11. Clearance – Keep an eye on the clearance section of the store. Occasionally, you’ll find an item on your list drastically reduced. When this happens you can swoop in and snag it for a fraction of the price.

What other tips do you have for saving money on necessities? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.

How to Propose Budget Allocation for Your Professional Development

Personal and professional development can be costly, but it doesn’t have to impact your bottom line if you can learn how to propose budget allocation for your professional development. Professional development is key to keeping happy and productive employees. Successful leaders are constantly learning, gathering insight, and helping the company thrive.  Many employers know this and often will provide programs and training to support this. Large companies typically have formal programs and application processes, but small companies often have some funding allocated for this as well.

Over the course of my career, I’ve received tens of thousands of dollars towards my development, including professional organization memberships, conferences, certifications, and a Masters in Business Administration. Some of these were part of a company wide initiative or program, but all of them required a pitch of varying degrees. You can do this too by simply including a few key elements in your pitch.

Propose Budget Allocation for Your Professional Development

Having a plan that you can step through with your manager is the best way to  begin the conversation to propose budget allocation for your professional development. It’s your best shot at getting approval. Here are 9 essential elements to include in your proposal:

  • Pain Points that specifically describe the issue that you’re trying to solve
  • Relevant facts that make a compelling argument for your education
  • Ideas and plans for implementing what you learn
  • Benefit statements that explain the value of the education
  • Value added offer to help others in the company
  • Alternative options so that you provide your manager with choices
  • Details such as location and expense
  • Your option preference
  • Request for funding presented in a way that doesn’t provide a no option

Professional Development Proposal Example

Here’s an example of  each of these points laid out on a pitch to to attend an educational content marketing conference.

  • Pain Points-The market is changing. Our sales are flat, and our market share is diminishing. Consumers have adapted to the multitude of marketing messages that they encounter each day, and they’re no longer listening.
  • Your Idea-We need to change our marketing strategy, and I’d like to explore the use of educational content marketing in our campaigns next year.
  • Relevant Facts-Educational content marketing is significantly less expensive than paid advertising, often times 31-41% less according to Kapost.
  • Your Plan-Therefore, in order to ensure we stay competitive in our environment, I’m requesting funding to attend the next marketing conference to learn how we can effectively implement educational content marketing in our organization.
  • Benefit Statement-Funding this conference will allow me to get up to speed faster than our competitors, customize a plan for our company, and begin taking steps toward implementing our content strategy.
  • Value Add-Further more, I’d be happy to present my top ten learnings during the next lunch and learn so that anyone from the company can learn.
  • Options-There are two conferences that present best practices for educational content marketing. They are Content Marketing Universe and Social Media Universe.
  • Location-Content Marketing Universe is  being held  in Honolulu, Hawaii on July 6-9 of next year and Social Media Universe is being held in Orlando, Florida on May 28-30.
  • Cost-The cost of the conferences are $10,000 and $7,000, respectively. This include conference registration and travel expenses.
  • Preference-I can attend either conference or both. However, my preference is to attend Content Marketing Universe because of the keynote speaker lineup and Chief Content Officer track.
  • Request-Which of these two options works best in your opinion?

What other strategies do you employ when you propose budget allocation for your professional development? Let me know in the comments below.
Propose Budget Allocation for Your Professional Development

How to Get Your Education for Free

This post isn’t about how to get your education for free through scholarships. Rather, it’s about how to get your education for free through unconventional methods.

You see, my co-worker Jamie is leaving this week. She’s moving to follow her husband around the globe. She’s leaving her career as a copywriter to pursue her love for her husband and to focus on her small children.   She’ll freelance to help make ends meet, but besides that she doesn’t really have a plan. I admire her for her free bird approach to life, but wonder about her journey.  Will the stress of reducing the family income by 40% overburden her husband?

I can’t predict the future, but I can encourage her to plan. I took her out to lunch to chat about her preparation and plans for the future.

What Have You Done to Enhance Your Skills?

I asked Jamie if she had taken any classes, gone to many conferences, or joined professional groups during her time with our company. Sadly, she replied no.  Apparently no one had ever asked her if she was interested, and she was too busy with work to ask. In the five years that she worked for our company, she never asked for a single learning opportunity because she didn’t think she could. She felt sad and disappointed by her lack of initiative, and asked me if there was anything she could do to get started in the right direction. It was getting late so I gave her a few pointers and promised to follow up soon. Here’s what I said.

How to Get Your Education For Free

There are many sites that provide a way to get your education for free. The key is wading through the noise and finding one with content that helps you grow. Blogs are a great start and its often easy to find the leader in your space with a little bit of research, asking your peer and co-workers, participating in forums or in online groups, or picking up a copy of the latest professional magazine and following the writers on Twitter. Then read, watch, learn, and take one action towards implementing what you’ve learned.

These are my favorites:

  • Coursera-I’ve taken classes online at Coursera, from writing to marketing to psychology there are hundreds of college level courses to choose from. Sign up for a class and check it out.  There’s no charge and you can always un-enroll if you find it’s not your thing.
  • iTunes Podcasts-I always have at least four podcasts queued in my phone. Most of them involve something business related and they keep me up to date on the latest trends and business tips. Visit the iTunes Podcast store to find a podcast that interests you. If you don’t like it, you can always unsubscribe. You’ll need to download the Podcast app to play it on your phone.
  • Overdrive Audiobooks-I use the Overdrive media app to check out audiobooks from my library for free.  I can’t tell you how many hundreds of dollars I have saved on audiobooks using this tool. You can also checkout e-books as well, but check with your library first to see if they participate.
  • Noise Trade Audiobooks and MP3 Albums-I’ve recently snagged a few great audio books from Noisetrade. It’s perfect for giving new authors and artists a try.
  • Amazon Kindle-Amazon offers free books all the time. The key is to find one that’s worth reading. The best tip I have here is to follow your favorite author or tribe leader by blog or Twitter. Occasionally, they will give a away their books for free to attract more readership and increase their brand recognition. Here’s my affiliate link to the free book list: Amazon.

Upgrade to the Cheap Seats

Once you’ve saturated your brain with all of the free information that you can stand, it’s time to upgrade to the cheap seats. You can only get so far by reading what you can find for free. {Tweet That} At this point you’ll want to invest in more formal education specific to the skill you want to acquire. This might include joining a professional society, visiting your local recreation center or library, joining a niche membership site, or taking a course online that you can’t get anywhere else.

Often times the cheap seats are so affordable that you could pay for them yourself. If you are working for a company that utilizes your skills, I would ask them to pay for it first. You might be surprised to see your manager sigh with relief at the $30/month membership or the $200 small business conference. After all, the rest of management just got back from spending $10,000 each to attend the I’m An Awesome Manager conference. The $30/month will pretty much feel like free after that.

Front Row and Center

Once you’ve gotten the OK from your manager to pursue your education in the cheap seats, you’ll want to explore conferences and other premium opportunities to take you to the super star level. I’ll give you some tips on how to propose budget for this activity in the next post.

Take Your Steps

If you haven’t had a chance to sign up for my free Best Version of You program, it’s not too late.  I’d love to help you get started on your journey by helping you identify your native genius, discover your dreams, and take actionable steps to achieve them.  This is not your mama’s coaching program. {Tweet That} There is no cost to go through this program, and I think you’ll find it worth your time.  Click here to get started.

At the end of our lunch Jamie looked at me with a little sadness in her sky blue eyes and explained that no one had ever posed the questions that I just did. She had a lot to think about. She promised me she’d look into free education when she got settled in and then we parted ways. I wonder if she’ll take those steps. What do you think?

How to Get Your Education for Free

Pursue the Best Version of You Online Dream Program Launch

I’m excited to launch my Pursue the Best Version of You online dream program today. Click here to give it a go.

Online Dream Program Launch

Dream Program

This seven day email series will explore your passions and help you to take steps to become the best version of you. Imagine, in seven days you’ll be on your way to pursuing the best version of you!

Within the dream program, I’ve included my Dream Identification path for those of you who don’t already know what your passions and dreams are.  There is no cost to sign up for the Dream Identification path either. It’s absolutely free. If you select the Dream Identification path on day one, the entire experience will take slightly over two weeks.

Why Provide the Dream Program for Free?

Why am I making this free? That’s a great question! I believe that everyone should have access to a dream program. It’s our dreams that inspire us to action. Our actions change the landscape of those around us. They tell the story of who we are and why we are here. When we live our lives with intention, the world becomes (quite frankly) a little bit brighter. {Tweet That}

What are My Dream Program Qualifications?

What makes me qualified to provide an online dream program? I think the best answer to this question is Experience and almost two decades in curriculum development and training. I’ve also coached many start-up businesses, mompreneurs, and friends on how to pursue the best version of themselves, their businesses, and their lives. I’ve successfully lived through some very dark times, including having no income in 2009 to support my family, 11 weeks in the NICU praying for the chance to take my baby home, and so much more.

Start Now

It’s time to take steps towards your dream.
Sign up for my FREE Pursue the Best Version of You online dream program to receive specific actionable steps that will help you:

  • Discover your dreams
  • Create action plans to achieve breakthrough results
  • Become the BEST VERSION of YOU

Don’t waste another second.  Start now, and while you’re at it tell a friend. The journey is always better with a friend.

Mompreneur Theme Genesis Framework for WordPress

Mompreneur Theme Genesis Framework

I have to say that I’m super impressed by the MomPreneur Theme. Mompreneur theme Genesis Framework. The Mompreneur theme runs on the Genesis Framework and is super chic, has great colors, and it’s so easy to set up.  I might have to snag this for my website soon – what do you think?

The colors in the Mompreneur theme Genesis framework are basically pink and gray. More specifically they are gray and chartreuse, gray and coral, and gray and yellow and navy. There are two page layouts. One with full width content and the other with sidebar content. With the click of a button, you can add all of your products and have a fantastic chic storefront.  So easy! I love how the banner can display a shopping cart along with your social media buttons. The polka dots and stripes go really well together, making this theme perfect for mommy bloggers, crafters, and anyone with style.

Targeting Your Customers: It’s Not Just About Demographics

New research from Infusionsoft suggests that it’s not just about demographics when targeting your customers. You also need to have a good understanding of your customers attitudes, beliefs, and corresponding behaviors. In the whitepaper published by Infusionsoft this month, I discuss the four types of buyers: Strivers, Customizers, Maximizers, and Supporters and how vendors can work with each buyer to increase the probability of success.

Targeting Your Customers

Once you know the customer type, you can begin to customize your conversation with them.

  • Strivers-For Strivers, you’ll need to focus on the processes that are necessary for your product to function well. Help Strivers discover and implement good business processes by providing tools, education, and recommendations. This should be seen as complementary to your business and can be implemented through blog posts, online learning, and recorded webinars to reduce the resources required.
  • Customizers-Customizers believe that what they do is so boutique that infrastructure may end up hindering their business instead of helping it. Demonstrated success in similar businesses and provide success stories to help Customizers bridge the gap between apprehension and implementation.
  • Maximizers-Everyone loves a positive return on investment and Maximizers are no different.  What’s unique about Maximizers is that they tend to fully utilize the capabilities that they purchase.  Show Maximizers how they can improve their business through increasing sales while reducing costs and headcount. They’ll love you for it.
  • Supporters-Supporters appreciate businesses that understand the uniqueness of their niche. For small businesses, that means being in touch with the difficulties, such as long work days, weekends at the office, and the never ending to do list. Show supporters that you’ve walked in their shoes and can relate to their business. Build trust through your trials and show them how you’ve persevered. Take time to nurture the relationship and you’ll win their support.

When you speak to customers as individuals, you’ll begin to build a relationship that lasts.  Knowing who they are is the first step. When targeting your customers always be aware that it’s not just about demographics. They’re a whole other layer to consider.

Targeting Your Customers

Save Money at Target with the Target Cartwheel App

 target cartwheel appToday I decided I would save money  with the Target Cartwheel App. I stumbled across it by accident really, but I thought I’d give it a try since I had some lunchbox shopping to do anyway. I downloaded the app, synced it to my Facebook account, and then clicked up to 16 offers that I wanted to use on my shopping trip.

Saving Money at Target with the Target Cartwheel App

One of the best things about this app is that you can combine discounts with your Redcard, target printable coupons,  manufacturers coupons, and sale items. For example, I needed to purchase some Vitamin Waters this week that were on sale for .88 each. I had 1 target printable coupon for buy 4 get 1 free, 4 vitamin water manufacturer coupons for .75/2, and 10% off in the Target Cartwheel app:

  • 8 x .88=7.04
  • - .88 (target printable free coupon) = 6.16
  • -$3 (manufacturer coupons) = 3.16
  • -.70 (Target Cartwheel app coupon) = 2.46
  • and if you have a redcard another 5% off (-.12) = 2.34

That works out to be about .30 per 20oz bottle, which is pretty good for vitamin water. It’s cheaper than Costco anyway. I’m sure some of my brilliant money saving friends could have come out getting paid for these waters, but I’m not that intense about couponing.  Long gone are my binder days.  I miss those days, but I just don’t have the time anymore.

Stack Six Levels of Savings at Target

Anytime I go shopping I always have a trifecta of savings by using store rewards cards, digital coupons, and sale items. That way I get discounts without much effort. I try to pay with cash so that I don’t overspend, but many savvy shoppers use rewards or points credit cards for additional savings.  With the Target Cartwheel app, you can combine up to 6 levels of savings:

  • Sale items
  • Target printable coupons
  • Manufacturer coupons
  • Redcard 5% discount
  • In store promotions: buy x get $x Target gift cards
  • and the Target Cartwheel App discount

On my shopping trip I saved $3 using the target cartwheel app and about $30 in other coupons and discounts on items I was going to purchase anyway. For the few minutes it took me to familiarize myself with the app, it was worth the time.

You can find the Target cartwheel app in iTunes and in Google play. Just search for Target Cartwheel and it should come right up.

Living in the In-Between – A Review of The In-Between by Jeff Goins

Last week I  introduced to the writings of Jeff Goins, who recently published a book called the The In-Between:Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing.the in-between I love books like this because they inspire me to remember to live in the moment of each day. I’ve spend so much time waiting for the next big thing to happen, that I sometimes forget about the now.

In The In-Between, Jeff encourages readers to focus on the moment. Focusing on living in the now doesn’t come easy to me. I’m a planner, a gal who always thinks two steps in front of the current situation, who identifies and (trys to) mitigate risks and leave no stone unturned. I feel that I have to always be productive because time is short.  These are all good traits, except when I forget to look up. I find myself trying to fill the time void. So instead of enjoying a cup of coffee while I wait for my team members to show up to a meeting, I respond to e-mail, return a call, or check another thing off my to-do list. Instead of enjoying the food that I eat, I mindlessly eat while creating a marketing campaign, managing my project, or reading email. I battle with living in the in-between each and every day.

It’s hard for me to embrace the boring parts of life. The wait at the doctor office, the wait at the checkout line, or the wait until my kid gets on stage to perform his next hip hop routine. So I fill the wait times with activity, because life’s too short and things have to get done. But in that hurried activity,  I miss the beauty in my son’s face as he takes in the latest adventure of Sponge Bob Square Pants. I miss the glance that my husband gave me that was supposed to say I love you. I miss the goofiness of my dog as he chases his tail.

It takes a huge effort for me to live in the moment, but I try to each and every day.  I know that if I simply take in the joy of life, I will find what I’m desperately searching for. The love that I already have, the joy that’s in every moment, the peace that contentment brings. When I embrace living in the in-between, I realize that I’m already living one badass life.

Tammy Helfrich interviewed Jeff on her Right Where You Are podcast.  Be sure to stop by and listen to it. If you want to purchase Jeff’s new book (which is awesome by the way) you can buy it on Amazon using this affiliate link: The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing [A Spiritual Memoir]

A Couple’s Journey to Escape Average with the START Experiment

If you want to know what a couple’s journey to escape average looks like, then you’ve come to the right place. In June of this year I read a blog post from Jon Acuff who invited the world to escape average with the START Experiment, and join him on an adventure. I like to try new things, and this was just the motivation that I needed to get started on my second (and apparently third) book. I was so excited about the START Experiment that I invited my friends and husband to join me as well. To my surprise, Lonny decided he’d join me on this journey.

A Couple’s Journey to Escape Average

Lonny and I have been married for over 15 years, and we’ve been together since high school. He works for the government and I work for a software company.

Couple's Journey to Escape Average

Our days consist of getting up, heading to work, coming home, getting dinner on the table, shuffling the kids to practices, homework, bed, rinse, and repeat. We lead a pretty average, but blessed life. It’s time to escape average.

We each chose 1 risk (or challenge) to complete during the Start Experiment. Mine is to complete a draft of my next book. I knew it would be a challenging to pump out an entire draft in 24 days, but I’m focused and doing well so far.  Lonny’s risk is to complete a marketing campaign for our business www.MyVideoScribe.com. That meant that he needed to get up to speed in two software programs, draft a campaign, and include all assets within the campaign.  Not only that, but guess who’s not the marketing person in the house (I’ll give you a hint, it’s not Lonny).

Daily Accountability

Each day we receive an email from Jon Acuff that lists the challenge for the day. One challenge might be to write our our goals, ignore haters, or thank someone. We are in groups of 24 and in that group we each have a partner. Mine is Tammy Helfrich and Lonny’s is David Burns. We check in with our partners at least twice a week, and post to the group’s closed Facebook page. This is great for accountability.

On our couple’s journey to escape average we are accountable to each other. Every night we talk about our day, and how we’re progressing with the START Experiment.  We help each other out when we are stuck or out of ideas. This daily accountability helps us complete our challenges, but more importantly it brings us closer together.

Goodbye Average

One of my favorite moments of our journey was when my husband told me that he wanted to continue to progress in his career. I had given up pushing him in this area after he was laid off in 2009. He needed some time to just have a job, come home, and focus on his family and himself. When he told me that he wanted to start working towards a promotion, I think my jaw dropped. In our house a job is much different than a career, and to hear him tell me that he was ready to become awesome was…well…awesome.

I’m so proud of all of the accomplishments that he has been able to achieve over the last 20ish days. He was an amazing husband and father before we started, but now he’s finding dreams that he never knew he had. That’s the thing about dreams. You get started on one and another one appears that you didn’t even know you had.

It’s Not Over

The first round of the START Experiment ends this week. I’m not sure what’s next, but I can tell you that it’s not over for us. Lonny and I add this daily accountability to escape average and continue on our journey. We’ll talk about our dreams and the steps that we take each day to work toward being the best we can be as a couple, as parents, as siblings, as children.

My Start Experiment “Pick Me” Video

If you know me and my obsession with Quitter and now Start then you know that I wasn’t about to miss out on this adventure with one of my favorite authors. I was one of the first to sign up, and submitted this video in hopes that my email would get some attention. I’m so glad that it did. Along our couple’s journey to escape average we grew a little bit closer, got a heck of a lot done, and became better versions of ourselves.

If you were part of the Start Experiment, comment below and let me know how you did. I’d love to hear how you escaped average too!

 

How to use Instagram for Small Business Marketing

Instagram for Small Business MarketingEvery business has tried out Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc. as marketing tools to promote themselves. Yet another marketing tool that has been gaining importance and is equally or even more powerful than others is Instagram for small business marketing.  Ever since the application has been launched, it has lured many people because of the ease with which photos can be taken and the cool filters that can be applied. Sharing pictures on social media has never been this easy or fun.

Initially, this mobile app was only accessible to iPhone users. Now, it has moved into the world of people using Android too. With the growing popularity, Instagram surely has a long way to go.

Statistics have shown that people respond more to pictures than texts. That is why businesses try to incorporate images in their promotional tools. The best part about using Instagram is that even small businesses can incorporate this app in their marketing efforts because the photo sharing program is absolutely free. What’s more is that you can also interact and connect with other users through web generated Instagram profiles. Given its active user base and recognition, Facebook acquired the app in April 2012.  So, if you are running a small business, make the most of Instagram and reach a widespread audience within your budget. Here is how you can use Instagram for small business marketing:

Instagram for Small Business Marketing

  • Before getting started, the first step should be to do some planning. Think about how and what types of images will you are sharing. How will the message of your business be communicated via these graphics? You are not using Instagram for personal profiles but for business purposes. Hence, be more strategic.
  • It would be in your best interest to check out the strategies of your competitors. Keep a look on how their fans are responding to the content they share. Ask yourself: What kind of pictures do their fans like? How will the potential followers begin to prefer your content over others? Doing so will help you to enhance your own business strategy.
  • Since Instagram is a photo sharing app, you may want to consider using it with other social media sites for greater impact on your audience. In this way, your business message will be easily communicated.
  • Using Instagram for marketing your business means that you will have to be really good pictures. Good enough to attract potential customers. Either learn about some photography tricks or hire a professional for the task. Taking classes or working with art students or qualified photographers will help you enhance your photography skills. You should also not hesitate from using Instagram filters that would add more charm to the images taken. Make sure that the pictures you share are quite appealing because Instagram users are creative and savvy. Thus, posting aesthetically engaging pictures should be one of your priorities.
  • A very important tip that you must not forget is the usage of hashtags. Just like Twitter, even Instagram users use hashtags to search for content they are concerned with. For this purpose you can use two types of hashtags:
    • Brand specific hashtags – These hashtags are specifically related to your business name, your products, services or anything else that is associated with your business.
    • Generic hashtags – These hashtags are not brand specific and are general in nature. These hashtags will allow your business to gain attention among people who may not be aware of your business.

Whether you choose to use generic hashtags or brand specific hashtags, you are providing an easy way to users to search for your images.Instagram also offers another amazing feature of geolocation. The geolocation feature, popularly recognized as “Photo Map”, provides yet another opportunity that will engage your followers. With the help of this feature you can tie your pictures to specific location. This in turn will alert users of this particular area about your presence.

Apart from the above, you can post pictures to inform people about the following:

  • Your latest products
  • How your products were made
  • Offer sneak previews of what will be available soon
  • Give the users some tips on how your products can be used.
  • Share pictures from PR actions like brand endorsement activities, product launch events and the like.

Are you read to use Instagram?

Five Awesome Android Small Business Productivity Apps

Android small business productivity appsTechnology continues to make our lives easier each day, and I’m always on the look out for awesome Android small business productivity apps. Today, I’m sharing five of them.  I download most of mine through the Google Play store, but there are many available on Amazon as well.

Android Small Business Productivity Apps

The first one to is the app called Evernote. I use this app to take notes during meetings and when I think of ideas to write about. It’s not just for writing down your notes, it can also facilitate synching, sharing, and recording reminders for later reference. I highly recommend this free app.

Dropbox is my second favorite. Dropbox is a file storage and sharing system, where the files are stored in a cloud (e.g., a server located somewhere that you access with your computer).  You can store files, image, videos or any type file, and share files or folders with your co-workers.

Google drive is similar to Dropbox.  It has the same cloud base sharing and document collaboration functionality. Once you upload a file, you can share the link with your co-workers. If you document is private, it will require that they request access from you. Google will send the request to your Gmail account. Once you approve it, your co-worker will have the access that you granted.

Hootsuite keeps all of your social media streams in one location.  I use it to view my Facebook pages, Twitter, and LinkedIn updates. It helps keep me organized and in the know.

Cozi Calendar and Shopping Lists is a must have.  I can organize my entire family calendar and send reminders to my phone before I’m supposed to be somewhere.  It really keeps me on track! This app stores shopping lists, to do lists, and journaling as well.  I LOVE THIS APP!

So there you have it! My top five awesome Android small business productivity apps. Now, let’s get productive!

How to Grow Your Email List with Videos

It’s  time to grow your email list with videos. Grow Your Email List with VideosVideos are fun, entertaining, and feasible for small businesses on a tight budget. There are four ways that you can grow your email list with videos, and we’ll unpack each of them below:

  • Tell Stories
  • Educate
  • Entertain
  • Humanize Your Brand

Tell Stories with Videos

Let’s face it. We’ve been watching stories on video since the early 1900s when the television was introduced to United States. With stories we can visit new places, experience new things, and become the individuals we secretly want to be. Ordinary people can watch actors who exhibit similar characteristics and imagine that they too can be the celebrity or successful tycoon. In a study titled Why Americans Love Reality TV, Psychology Today concluded that fans of reality shows value status because they measure it by level of attention. The more attention they receive, even if it’s not good, the higher the prestige. We as fans will watch theses stories with attention and commitment like no other.

Share a testimonial from your greatest fans. Let us envision how we can use your product or service to become your next success case. Here’s an example of a video scribe that I produced on the successful launch of my blog.

Educate with Videos

Videos that Educate are also trending in popularity. This is primarily due to our increasing need for answers now. We want the information today, and can’t wait for the next class to be scheduled or the next book to be released. Look at the popularity of TED talks, a place where anyone can digest content from the “greatest minds” on technology, entertainment, and design (actually it’s grown way past those topics). We want to grow and experience success. Sometimes we just need someone to show us how to get from point A to point B.

Teach us something that we can use to further our dream or challenges our beliefs. It doesn’t have to take long. In fact, the more succinct and creative you are, the happier we’ll be. Here’s a great example.

Entertain with Videos

Videos that entertain provide great value to our society, and can be somewhat categorized as an addiction. Generally, we tend to relax and become passive watchers as the events unfold before our eyes. With a fluctuating economy and stress-filled days the norm, it’s no wonder why we gravitate to a world that takes us away from the normalcy of our hectic lives. We simply need a break from reality sometimes.

Give us a chance to laugh, cry, and connect with your brand. Even if the only time we see your brand is in the “sponsored by” section.

Humanize Your Brand with Videos

For years we’ve been bombarded with messages that speak, “buy me now” in volumes. We are answering the advertising call less and less. Instead, we’re  increasingly  using social media to validate performing companies prior to engaging in a purchase transaction. It’s more important than ever to show your prospects and customers that your business is more than just an entity.

Show us your company, culture, and process. Soon we’ll begin to realize that your product is more than something we need, it’s something that does good for our society because it creates jobs, happiness, and freedom. We all want a little bit of freedom.

Grow Your Email List with Videos

Now it’s time to grow your email list with videos. It’s time to show them that you’re human, and that you care. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth so much more. Video scribing is a great way to get started. Click here learn more.

Four Fantastic Resources for Cheap Books

I’m an avid reader of all sorts: history, self-help, fiction, religious, you name it. I’m always looking for resources for cheap books, and I’ve saved thousands of dollars by being smart about my purchases. Of course, the library is a great resource for borrowing books, but sometimes I forget to return my borrowed books. I prefer to pick up a book for my collection if I can get it at a great price.

Four of my favorite resources for cheap books are the library, Goodwill (or any thrift store), Amazon, and Paperbackswap.com. I get most of my books from one of these four locations.

Cheap Books at the Library

Resources for cheap booksOne of my favorite places for cheap books is the library. Almost every library that I’ve been to has a free or cheap books-for-sale section.

Recently, I traveled to Alpine, Arizona and stopped in at the local library branch. I was impressed by the assortment of magazines and books all for only .25 each. Since I have a growing pile of books, I chose to purchase All You and Woman’s World magazines for the ride home. While my kids were in the free Wifi room, I read a few chapters from Survival Mom, by Lisa Bedford and got a few tips for food storage.

Cheap Books at Paperback Swap

Paperback swap is an online book swap community. It’s free to join and you get 2 free books to start. You post the books that you have available for sale, and request books that you want.  When a member requests your book, you’ll send it to them and receive a credit for your efforts. Once you find a book that you want, you simply use one of your credits and a member will send it to you. Click here to learn more.

Cheap books at Goodwill

Goodwill is resource for cheap books. If you have a Goodwill, check with them to find out when  they have sales, such as 1/2 price Saturdays or 1/2 price colored tags. I’ve wanted to read Escape by Cubical Nation by Pam Slim for about a month now. Luckily for me, I picked it up during the last 1/2 price sale for $1.50. I’ve also picked up a few Seth Godin, Dave Ramsey, and other great reads there.

Cheap Books at Amazon

If you have the Kindle App you can download free or cheap e-books on Amazon.com. Last year I picked up Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey for $1.99. That’s one great business book.

Share Your Resources for Cheap Books

I’m always on the hunt for more resources for cheap books. I’ve seen great deals at library fundraisers, yard sales, second-hand book stores, dollar stores, and sometimes at the local grocery store. Where do you get your cheap books at?

 

 

9 Easy Steps to Move Towards Mobile Marketing for Small Business

You need to make a move towards mobile marketing for your small business. Mobile marketing for small businessThere is a significant trend towards increasing use of mobile platforms and if you don’t get onboard with mobile marketing now, you stand to lose a good share of your customers. According to Forbes, more than 50 percent of Americans have smart phones. For younger Americans ages 18-34, that percentage skyrockets to 80%. That means that your customers are mobile. So why aren’t you?

What is Mobile Marketing

According to Wikipedia, mobile marketing is the “distribution of any kind of promotional or advertising messages to customer through wireless networks”. A more specific definition is the following: “using interactive wireless media to provide customers with time and location sensitive, personalized information that promotes goods, services and ideas, thereby generating value for all stakeholders”.

So basically, mobile marketing is simply meeting customers where they are, and being in front of them when they’re ready to buy.

How to Get Started with Mobile Marketing

Getting started with mobile marketing is easy. It starts with mobilization. Here are 9 steps that you can take to move towards mobile marketing for your small business:

  • Mobilize-Mobilize your website. In geeky terms, that mean to make your website “Responsive”. If you do all of your website creation, you can take advantage of the existing responsive templates for your blog or website. There are many templates that do this for your automatically, but it’s up to you to make sure you use the right one.  Otherwise, pick up the phone and call your web developer today, and get him or her on the ball with making your site responsive. I’d be a little pissed if was paying someone to manage my website and it wasn’t responsive. Come on web developers – it’s not that hard! Service is key!
  • Research-Check out your competitors. Learn what they’re doing and create a plan that’s unique to your business.
  • Claim Your Business-Claim your business on location-based applications.
  • Rewards-Reward customers for checking in at your business location. This helps get the word out to their friends that they frequent your location.
  • New Customers-Give new customers an incentive to try your product or service.
  • Variety-Change your promotions often.
  • Target-Target customers or prospects who are checking in a different business that is located in close proximity to yours.
  • Try it-Run a mobile ad campaign. Then track and test your results.
  • Use Social Media-You’ll never get good a social media unless you take the plunge to learn and use it yourself.  Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to learn every platform. Start off with the one that interests you or appears to be a good fit for your business. It’s actually quite fun!

If this post was helpful to you, please share it  with your peers and friends.

Take a Break: It May Just Save Your Life

Today’s post is about remembering to take a break and prioritize your family and friends.Take a break In the middle of all of life’s hustle and bustle it’s important to make time to just be in the moment, and to remember why you work so hard.

This weekend I took a day off and headed to Tucson for an impromptu family reunion. I spend the day hanging out with family members that I haven’t seen in years. I reacquainted myself with them and their new additions. I had a bit too much to eat, learned more than I probably needed to know about life, and spent the day not thinking about anything except family. At the end of the day, I packed up and headed back home refreshed and satisfied with time well spent.

Take a Break

You don’t have to take an entire day off if you don’t want to. You can take a break in increments. Spend 15 minutes reading to your kids before they go to bed. Take 5 minutes to handwrite a letter (seems like nobody does this anymore).  Take 10 minutes to snuggle with your spouse or better yet walk around the block together. When you take a break, this 30 minutes just might be what saves your relationships, makes an impact on a loved one, or even saves your life.

Save Your Life

According to the Center for Disease Control, breaks can help lower stress, accidents, soreness, musculoskeletal disorders, and eyestrain. They are also linked to having a smaller waistline, lower body mass index (BMI), and lower triglyceride levels. In other words, take a break and save your life!

If you don’t take time out to enjoy today, then what’s the point?  Work will be here tomorrow, but if you don’t take time to be with the ones you love today…it might be too late when you finally “get around to it”.  Enjoy life now, remember to take breaks, and live one badass life.

Get Started with the Vine by Twitter

The Vine by Twitter has finally been released for the Android,vine-twitter which should cause usage soar through the use. Why not get in front of this social media platform?  Get started with the Vine by Twitter today before your competition leaves you in the dust.

Recently I wrote a thought leadership post for Infusionsoft’s Big Ideas Blog: Grow Your Business with the Vine.  I highlight 3 key strategies that small businesses can use to get started with the Vine. They are:

  • Share helpful tips
  • Humanize your brand
  • Give fans a preview of a new product

There are many great uses for the Vine and I’ll highlight some more in a future post.  For now, take a peek at the Big Ideas Blog. Don’t get left behind, stay ahead of your competition and get started with the Vine today!

Get Started with Small Business Social Media Marketing

SocialMedia

Image Credit: Juan Iraola

It’s Momprenuer Monday!  Are you looking to get started with small business social media marketing, you have a range of choices and channels at your disposal.   Try not to spread yourself too thin. Instead,  select one or two to focus on from among the best social media channels such as, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram and Google Plus. These rank among the most highly utilized social media platforms. In the next few weeks, we’ll take an in depth look into each one of these. For now, here’s an overview:

  1. Twitter: Have something to say?  Say it in 140 characters or less With Twitter. With Twitter you can be assured that your message can spread quickly to influencers and you can connect with people who are so busy that they prefer quick bites  information. Twitter is well-known for its immediacy and its mobility.  With Twitter you can get everything you need from videos on how to get started to advanced professional strategies and links to additional information. In addition,  people from all over the world can share their thoughts and experiences with others, without spending any money. Devoted users of Twitter’s services or Tweeters as they are called, are challenged to express their opinions through concise  140 character “tweets”. These tweets are categorized using #hashtags. Twitter is also used to stay connected with family members or friends, or even access breaking news updates.
  2. Facebook: Need word of mouth? Use Facebook! Facebook is ideal for businesses due to the word of mouth effect. You can start by connecting with your family and friends, and spread the word to customers and prospects. You can create your fan page or your very own group page. Facebook’s privacy setting allows you to customize according to your desires. Fan pages, groups, and events are becoming more popular. As a result you can use Fan pages and groups for promotional activities. Facebook’s new features like group chatting, notification and file sharing helps members of the group to stay connected, and updated on your business offerings.
  3. Google+: Want word of mouth + a lot of other features? Perhaps you’d like to be in the front of a social media trend instead of playing catch up? Google + is very similar to Facebook, but adds additional functionality such as circles, hangouts, communities and more.  Its goal is to be all things to all people. Google Plus redesigned interface allows for the exploration of content and access to the main features of the social network. If you’re looking to get in front of a social media trend, this is probably the platform you should take a gander at.
  4. Pinterest:  Got products? Show them off with photos. Pinterest provides you with group boards where you post and categorize pictures that you like or that are relevant to your brand. It allows you to grow a network and  connect with people who share similar interests. Pinterest is visually driven; it makes content sharing on the web easy and visually appealing.
  5. Instagram: Got pictures?  Instagram is similar to Pinterest in that the platform convey information through pictures instead to text. With Instagram you can take a picture, apply a filter, and share it with other social media platforms.
  6. YouTube: Videos are in! Want potential customers to watch your clever and entertaining ads? Get on YouTube! YouTube is owned by Google and videos are a must have for many businesses. Videos can drive a lot of traffic, and often show up on the first page of search results. Videos often they are frequently embedded by bloggers and shared to their followers.  Talk about word of mouth!  Unlike other forms of advertising, YouTube videos are can be made relatively cheap, and there is no charge to upload them to the site. YouTube marketing takes your website global and you’ll have viewership all over the world. When you connect to your customer’s emotions, the videos are often shared by viewers with their friends and family members.  Here’s one of our VideoScribe whiteboard animation videos that was shared with over 8,000 viewers for mother’s day.
  7. LinkedIn: Looking for new clients or even a new job? LinkedIn provides power, credibility and professional networking opportunities. The referrals gained through a professional network are more qualified and help in building a referral base with greater efficiency. If you are in the consulting business, you should consider creating a  LinkedIn site and getting recommendations. This will help potential customers feel more comfortable with your offerings.

We’ll spend some time investigating each of these social media platforms in greater detail over the next few weeks. For now, take some time to familiarize yourself with each of them and get started with small business social media marketing. If you’re not stalking me on Facebook come visit me here.

Bring Your Business Idea to Life With 9 Questions

You have a great business idea, but you’ve put it on a shelf to visit at a later date. Are you wondering if now’s a good time to start a business and bring your business idea to life? The economy seems to be doing better and new local shops are popping up where vacant buildings sat empty for the past few years. But even if the economy wasn’t doing great, today still be a good time to start. So why aren’t you?

Business Idea Roadblocks

Everyone has at least one roadblock on the road to entrepreneurship. Why haven’t you brought your business idea to life? Are you:

  • Afraid of failure
  • Overwhelmed
  • Unsure of success
  • Uneducated
  • Not ready
  • Not as good as the next person

Do you feel like your business idea isn’t unique enough. That’s exactly how I felt for the last 4 years. Yes, I sat on this blog idea for 4 years. I kept coming up with excuse after excuse on why I couldn’t devote time to this idea. Events and appointments were plenty, but they weren’t the true reason why this blog waited so long. They were my excuses, and I hid behind them.

In truth, I hid behind my excuses because I couldn’t figure out how to make my blog unique. I didn’t even have a name for it.  Then about 2 months ago the name fell into my lap. Well actually it was on a whiteboard.  My friend Misty  posted a picture of Mark Wahlberg on a whiteboard with Be Badasser written next to it. It became our mantra.  I told her that one day I was going to start a Badass blog that would help people (especially us gals) live the life that we were meant to live.

Business idea to life

I started the process of formulating my idea by first acknowledging that I have a strong passion for helping others succeed.  I feel joy when I write, train, or speak to people about taking steps towards their goals.

9 Questions You Should Ask to Bring Your Business Idea To Life

The I got down to answering a few business related questions. As I began to answer these questions I could see my business start to come alive. It started to take shape. The more structure that I put around it, the more the idea began to flourish. It’s still not perfect, and I doubt it will ever be. But it will get better and better as I continue to grow and improve.

Here are the 9 questions that I asked myself to help bring my business idea to life. Use them to help you formulate your idea, and you’ll soon begin to see it grow.

  1. What is the problem that you’re trying to solve with your product or service?
  2. Why does that problem exist?
  3. Who has the problem?
  4. Why do you want to solve the problem?
  5. How does your service or product solve the problem?
  6. Who else has a solution?
  7. How can you add value to an existing solution?
  8. How will you brand it differently than others?
  9. Is the solution to the problem worth paying for?

What are you waiting for?  It’s time to start!  Mompreneur Advantage members get access to a downloadable worksheet. It’s free to join, so if you’d like a copy and other tools to help bring your business idea to life, click here.

Announcing the VideoScribe Book: A Beginner’s Guide to Whiteboard Animation

I’m excited to announce the release my new book, VideoScribe: A beginner’s Guide to Whiteboard Animation.  This book is now available on Amazon.com. If you really want to know how easy it is to use the VideoScribe software, now’s the time!  Create your own whiteboard animations and save THOUSANDS $$$$!  Here’s the link to the paperback and kindle versions:

     

VideoScribe Book: A Beginner’s Guide to Whiteboard Animation

Learn how to create whiteboard animations using VideoScribe software. Video scribe is a unique way to engage any audience with your business and brand through the combination of images, text, and effects using a hand or other tool to draw on a whiteboard. Start creating visually appealing animations that everyone wants to watch. No graphics or computer programming required.
Don’t waste your time spending days and days searching for answers.
In this book you’ll learn:
• How to take your animation idea from concept to production
• The different components of VideoScribe
• Adding and editing the many stock images
• Changing the color of stock images
• Importing your own images
• Morphing images
• Adding and editing VideoScribe text
• Changing the pen stroke color
• Importing fonts
• Adding background music
• Recording a voice over
• Importing soundtracks and MP3 files
• Changing elements in the storyline
• Changing the drawing speed
• Addingdeleting pauses
• Setting the camera
• Changing the background paper color and texture
• Changing the drawing hands, pens, and feet (yes, feet can draw too)
• Adding a vignette
• Rendering the VideoScribe animation
• Exporting png files of your video scribe
• Exporting to File to Your Desktop, YouTube, Facebook, and Dropbox

Get this book now and stay ahead of the competition! If you’re looking for online training, you can find it at: www.myvideoscribe.com

Videoscribe Book

5 Steps Towards One Badass Life Step 5: Being Free

Being Free

Enjoying Freedom at Crystal Cove Beach May 2013

Being free is the last step in our Badass life journey. Sounds simple and easy, doesn’t it? What exactly is freedom?  Is it the chance to slack off, come in late, and do nothing all day long?  Probably not.

In fact, you may find that you spend more time doing what you love and helping others along the way. You might spend a little more time at work, writing your book, blog, or coaching someone to be better than they are today. You begin to perfect your craft, and find that you complete your work in record time with unsurpassed quality. You no longer watch the clock because you love what you’re doing. You may even choose to gift your time to others in the form of teamwork, coaching, or friendship. A selfless act that you do with joy and purpose, because you finally realize that you are FREE.

My Freedom

The second that I made a choice to be the gal God wanted me to be, things started to change for me. I began speaking in front of my classes and conferences with joy. I began connecting with my students, understanding their struggles, and creating creative ways to help them learn what they needed to know in order to be successful in their careers. I began writing my materials with purpose, and executing them with passion. I began to be free.

Freedom doesn’t mean that I get to do anything I want. In fact, it often means that I get more responsibility at work, that I wake up at 5:30 am to write a blog post, or that I stay behind to help someone who needs a little boost. It simply means that I get to do work that makes me happy. I get to learn new things. I get to have opportunities to help others to be successful. This freedom brings me joy that radiates, and often leads to strange looks and questions from people I don’t even know. I am blessed.

Being Free: Break Your Chains

What’s holding you back?  Is it the voice in your head that says you’ve wasted years and thousands of dollars?  Is it the person who mocks your dream? Or is it really just you? The five steps below will set you on a path to discover your badass life, and truly live it. They are:

  1. Fall “in like” with your situation—Being “in like” with your situation, your job, your life is a choice. It’s looking through the window knowing that it’s cracked, but realizing that you can still see through it. The window isn’t perfect, it’s broken, but it works enough for now.  Be in like with your journey, but realize that you’re not done yet.
  2. Prepare for the opportunity—Create a strategy through activities related to your goal. They don’t have to be expensive. They can be as simple as reading books and blogs, volunteering, or more formal education. Whatever path you chose, do it now.
  3. Snag it when it presents itself—Preparing for the opportunity is one thing. Combining your knowledge, intuition, and faith helps you identify when the opportunity is right in front of you. Be open to opportunities because they’re ready for the taking. Life’s too short. Have no fear.
  4. Change your mindset—Clear your mind, ask questions, research, learn, take educated risks, and force yourself to take steps on the path you want to be on instead of pretending like you already know how to get there. There’s a learning curve, so cut yourself some slack.
  5. Be free—You begin to perfect your craft, and find that you complete your work in record time with unsurpassed quality. You no longer watch the clock because you love what you’re doing. You may even choose to gift your time to others in the form of teamwork, coaching, or friendship.

Read the previous 5 posts if you’d like more details behind each of these steps. Otherwise, take sometime now to think about how you can implement these 5 Badass steps and live the life you’ve always dreamed of. You have the steps; now it’s time take the first one. Be You. Be Free. Be Badass.

Change Your Mindset – Step 4 On Our Journey

Change Your Mindset


Anyone who tells you to simply change your mindset is arrogant. It’s not that easy. One of the easiest things to do attempt to move into a new situation, is to use your past experience. You should always learn from your past and continue to move forward. But what if your past is what’s holding you back? What if your stuck falling back on what you know despite the fact that it’s not enough to get you to where you want to be. How will you ever achieve your goals if you continue to do what you’ve always done? Past behavior is a great predictor of future behavior. If what you are doing didn’t work in the past, the probability of success using the same formula is too low to waste your time on it again.

Once you recognize that you don’t know how to get from point A to point B, you become open to the possibility of learning what it will take to get you to your destination. Clear your mind, ask questions, research, learn, take educated risks, and force yourself to take steps on the path you want to be on instead of pretending like you already know how to get there.

Questions Initiate a Changing Mindset

Starting your research begins with asking the right questions. These questions force you to focus on the possibilities and seek empowering solutions that enhance your growth and development. With each new challenge, ask yourself:

1. Does this challenge create a new opportunity?  It make take days, weeks, or even years to realize the opportunity but I guarantee it will come much faster if you ask yourself this question when you face a new challenge.

2. What next step do I need to take to transform my situation? You don’t need to figure out the entire path of actions before you start. Identify on or two actions to take, take them, and then ask yourself the question again.

3. Did the action get me closer or farther away from my goal?  Evaluate the results of each action that you take. I’m not suggesting that you formulate a differential equation here. Simply take one step back and assess whether or not your action is helping you proceed in the direction that you want to go in.

Dealing with Haters

Once you begin to change your mindset by taking steps into the unknown, you’ll realize how much more you need to learn. Continue to grow and learn, but realize that there will always be haters on this path. When your haters appear, and believe me everyone has them, follow Jon Acuff’s advice on how to deal with them by asking two questions:

1. Who said it? Is it a close friend who cares about you or a complete stranger? Most of us receive all hate as if we’re receiving it from someone who knows us deeply. In most cases, it’s not, but if not ask your self the next question.

2. Why did they say it? What was their motive? Are they upset because something has happened in their life that caused them to lash out at you? Pausing to ask why gives you time to reflect before you act and ensure the criticism is truly valuable before you internalize it.

There will always be haters, and they come out in troves when you’re on the path towards success. You must choose to be you before someone else does it for you.

Choosing to Be Me

When I made my career change announcement, the comment that stuck out the most went something like this, “That’s nice honey, but what about your career?” {insert stomach punch here} It was in that one moment, I decided to change my mindset. While the person was someone I love and value greatly, the motivation for the question wasn’t a desire to help me grow on my path. The desire was to live life through me. Once I realized the motivation behind the comment, I was able to move past it.

From that moment on, I decided that what other people thought about my “wasted education” wasn’t going to hold me back from achieving my dream. I was going to stop justifying my career choice, and stop beating myself up over my winding path, and enjoy the success of journey.  I was going to choose joy over logic, and I was going to let the teacher in me be free.’’

Choosing to be You

What comments have others made in you life that have led you to the situation you face today? How will you recognize the difference between caring advice and selfish motivation or haters? Change your mindset by asking questions, taking action that get you to the next stage in your dream, and continuing to assess what’s working. Then be prepared for the haters, because they’re coming!

In our next post, we’ll discuss the last step in the 5 steps to One Badass Life series, FREEDOM! If you’re not stalking me on social media, please take a moment now to connect, and let’s continue on with this journey.

Seize The Opportunity: 5 Steps Towards One Badass Life

So far we’ve talked about falling in like with your situation, and preparing to seize the opportunity when it arises. Here are 5 Steps that you can take to recognize when an opportunity exists and then seize the opportunity.

Seize The Opportunity – 5 Key Steps

1. Keep Your Eyes Open—Rarely does opportunity knock on your front door. Often it’s disguised and easily missed because we create a perception that opportunity doesn’t exist. Increasing education combined with preparation will help you identify the right opportunities. Use your wisdom, intuition, and faith to discern whether or not you should take action to pursue a particular opportunity. You need all three in order to make a wise and educated decision.

Seize The Opportunity

2. Sell It—You have the skills and knowledge to take steps towards your dream. You don’t have to be perfect when the opportunity arises, but you do have to explain why you’re the best person to seize it. Try to find ways to spin your skills and knowledge so that others know how much more you bring to the table.

Seize the Opportunity Step 2

3. Recognize the Learning Curve—Once you’ve made the decision to seize the opportunity, you’ll likely have a steep learning curve. Every new experience often comes with a steep learning curve. Give yourself some grace and do your best to soak up as much information that you can handle, and rapidly implement your new found knowledge.

Seize the Opportunity Step 3

4. Ditch the Negativity—You’re not the only one who doesn’t like failure. Everyone wants to succeed, but past failures often bubble up reminding us of how much it hurts to fail. Learn from your past mistakes and implement actions to reduce the probability of reoccurrence. If you can do this, anything that happens next is a new learning opportunity, not a repeat of past mistakes. If you can take a break and reflect on the situation, you’ll often feel positive a few minutes later. Ditch the negativity and continue to learn.

Seize the Opportunity Step 4

5. Believe that You’ll Succeed—When you believe that you’ll succeed you set yourself up to make it happen. When you believe in yourself, you’ll continue to pursue your dreams until they come true (or at least some version of your dream comes true). You’ll stop worrying about other people’s opinions, and know that for every success there will be haters. You’ll look to guidance from God because his power overshadows the opinions of the crowd who puts you down. You’ll fight to make your dreams come true.Seize the Opportunity - Step 5

Seizing the Training Opportunity

I began my career in project management after I secured my MBA, and I hated it every second of that job. I prepared for the opportunity to exit through volunteerism and adult learning theory self-study. I watched the company job listings like a hawk for two years.

Then one day, a position became available and I networked the heck out of that position. I met with the hiring manager to learn about the position and team, and I prepared for the interview that would soon follow.

With only volunteerism and a side project in my training portfolio, my experience was lacking. In the interview I positioned myself as an expert in nerd translation {my engineering degree helped here} and project management {hello MBA}, with a passion for training. I explained that although the hiring manager was looking for an experienced trainer, that I had skills that his ideal candidate would lack. I gave examples of how I could solve training problems with my skill set, and left the interview confident that I gave it my all. I started my official training gig a month later.

The learning curve was steep, and it seemed as if I’d never catch up. I had a million questions that I would ask or research at night. I quickly got up to speed and implemented my first course within a month of my start date. There were days when I felt like I just couldn’t do anything right and in my frustration, I’d walk away from my desk and head to the gym. I always felt better afterwards.

Every mistake that I made was a learning opportunity. My peers were experts, and I wasn’t afraid or embarrassed to ask them to share their best practices with me. Often times they were more than willing to accommodate me, and within months I was one of the top performing trainers. I was writing curriculum and delivering it to hundreds of employees and finally living my dream.

Seizing Your Opportunity

Preparing for the opportunity is one thing. Combining your knowledge, intuition, and faith helps you identify when it’s right in front of you. Be open to opportunities because they’re ready for the taking. Life’s too short. Have no fear. Be Badass.

In our next post, we’ll talk about dealing with difficult people and choosing to be you as we continue to discuss the 5 steps to One Badass Life. If you’re not stalking me on social media, please take a moment now to connect, and let’s continue on with this journey.

The Small Business Owner’s Vacation Planning Strategy

The small business owner’s vacation planning strategy begins earlier than the average person’s vacation planning. In fact for some small business owners, planning begins almost a year in advance.Small Business Vacation Planning Strategy

As a small business owner, I used to think that taking a vacation was impossible. After all, running my small business alongside of a 40+ hour a week career and an active family schedule leaves this gal completely crazed and confused!  But, in 2006 I made a commitment to take at least one vacation every year.

I plan this vacation a year in advance, and then I forget about it until the kids announce that school is almost over. Instead of worrying about what we’ll do this summer, it’s already planned. I can sit back and enjoy the view from the beach for an entire week every year. Don’t get me wrong, I take other vacations throughout the year too, but this vacation is one that’s on my reoccurring Outlook schedule.

I recently wrote an article for the Infusionsoft Big Ideas Blog that details 7 steps that small businesses can take to get your vacation on this year. Be sure to check it out and start planning your vacation this year too!

5 Steps Towards One Badass Life Step 2: Preparing For the Opportunity

Welcome back mompreneurs!
In the last post I wrote about falling “in like” with your situation. Once you’ve accepted reality and are “in like” with your job, your next step is to prepare for the opportunity and perhaps craft your exit strategy.

Suggestions for Preparing
There are many ways to do this. Here are a few:
• Education—Educate yourself through formal or informal education.
• Volunteerism—Volunteer for extra projects at work, at a non-profit, or through networking group.
• Intern—Pick up knowledge through internships.
• Blog—Start a blog to share the information that you learn.
• Write a Book—Take notes and compose a book as you learn more about the field you’re interested.
I crafted my strategy through volunteerism and education. It wasn’t a perfect path, but it got me to where I am today.

Volunteer For the Stuff You Like
I rocked in my career in engineering for about two years and then I began to feel bored. Capacity planning for a major computer chip manufacturer no longer held my interest, so I volunteered for more work. I didn’t ask my boss for more work. I went to him with a proposal to do something that would make me happy and help the company at the same time. I wanted to create a training program for our department. That program would later win the Intel Manufacturing for Excellence Award {Yay, free beach vacation!}.

Continue to Learn
The success of that program brought me to the realization that engineering wasn’t my gig. Helping people make sense out of complicated processes and jargon was. I was destined to be a teacher, but I wasn’t ready to embrace it. Exiting stage left, I went back to school while working full-time.

This time I snagged my MBA and began my career in project management with the same company. I hated it every second of that job. The only joy I had was when I’d volunteer to teach classes for the corporate university program or speak to schools through the community volunteer program. I secretly began studying adult learning theory in my spare time so that I could be ready when a position opened in the training department. I say secretly because I knew that becoming a teacher wouldn’t go over well with anyone, including the inner voice that told me that I just wasted 6 years of education and thousands of dollars on engineering and business degrees. I was preparing for the opportunity, but I wasn’t ready to announce it to the world.

Preparing For Your Opportunity
I crafted my strategy through volunteerism and education, but yours might look different. What are activities that you can do to take steps towards yours? They don’t have to be expensive. They can be as simple as reading books and blogs {Insert a shameful plug for www.onebadasslife.com here}, volunteering, or more formal education. Whatever path you chose, do it now. Life’s too short. Be Badass.

In our next post, we’ll talk about snagging the opportunity as we continue to discuss the 5 steps to One Badass Life. If you’re not stalking me on social media, please take a moment now to connect, and let’s continue on with this journey.
Prepare for opportunity

Falling In Like With Your Situation: Step One Towards One Badass Life

It’s Mompreneur Monday! We’re continuing our 5 Steps to one badass life with step 1: Falling In Like With Your Situation.

Falling in like with your situation is simply accepting where you are, learning to deal with it, and finding purpose in it. It’s the best way to set up your dream for success. You don’t have to love it, but you do have to deal with it and take steps towards your dream.

It’s not always easy to be in like with your situation. In fact, today started with a call to get help with my broken air conditioning unit. It’ll be over 100 degrees today so I’m hoping to get it fixed. If it doesn’t get fixed I’ll likely run over to my sister’s house and bum a couch or an extra room for me and my family. I’m in like with the situation, because my experience tells me that I’m about to learn something that will help me grow. I don’t have to love my situation. I just have to take steps to get out of it.

If you’re not living your dream, the first thing you need to do, is make a decision to accept the situation, embrace where you are, and take steps to move towards your dream. It may not be a perfect straight path, but it’s one that will help you grow. That’s what happened to me when my dream of becoming a teacher came to a screeching halt one day.

Losing My Joy

I was destined to be a teacher from the age of 5. Everyday, I’d put my stuffed toys in a line and explain to them the basics of mathematics. They were A+ students I tell ya. I admired my teachers and planned on becoming a teacher some day, but something happened when I graduated from high school. I was told that it was a bad idea because I wouldn’t be able to support myself on a teacher’s salary. {Did you just hear that car screeching to a halt?} I was crushed, young, and impressionable, which pretty much means that I did whatever people told me to do.

Enrollment for the local university was in progress, so I grabbed the U of A course catalog and started to narrow down my career choices. Back in “the day” college catalogs were printed and bound. {Dang. I totally just dated myself.} You had to drive to the campus and fight the skinny people just to get your hands on one. I always got at least one. Sometimes I took two just to prove a point.

I thumbed through the big red book and took an entire ten minutes to choose a major. Ten minutes to change course and shape the rest of my future. My mission was to find a job that could bankroll the rest of my life, so I asked the only person my age who seemed to have it all together. He looked up at me and said with confidence, “I’m going to be a Civil Engineer”. Feeling a little pressure to be confident like him, I responded with, “Ok, me too. I’ll be an engineer just like you”.

As I began to review each of the engineering descriptions, I began to get glossy eyed. I think I may have nodded off at least once in the ten-minute career finding journey. I crossed off each major one by one, until the only engineering major that seemed remotely interesting remained. I literally chose my career through process of elimination. I was going to be an Industrial Engineer. {Trumpets just blew. Admit it, you heard them too.}

Being In Like With My Situation

For the next few years I would struggle through differential equations, physics, and Pascal programming. {Crap. I’m really not that old. Pascal was on its way out anyway}. I held internships, made the honor roll, and began to find ways to like engineering. I discovered that there were many things that I liked about it, and I even had a job offer before I finished senior year.

Engineering wasn’t my dream job, but it would teach me about efficiency, process, and constraints. I could take complex problems and explain them to anyone off the street. {That’s probably why I didn’t have too many friends.} In that job, I could build upon my skillset and eventually move towards my dream.

Being In Like With Your Situation

Being in like is a choice. It’s looking through the window knowing that it’s cracked but realizing that you can still see through it. The window isn’t perfect, it’s broken, but it works. Be in like with your journey. You’re not done yet. Be Badass.

In our next post, we’ll talk about preparing for the opportunity as we continue to discuss the 5 steps to One Badass Life. If you’re not stalking me on social media, please take a moment now to connect, and let’s continue on with this journey.

5 Steps Towards One Badass Life: Mompreneur Mondays

Happy Mompreneur Monday!
Today we’re starting a 5 part series on steps that you can take on your badass journey towards living the life you were meant to live. Here’s this weeks whiteboard animation:

I’m going to tell you a secret that’s probably going to make you tweet your pants. Jesus is totally badass. I mean he walks on water, turns it into wine, and bridges the chasm to God. Being badass came natural to him, but if I’m being honest and transparent being badass doesn’t come natural to me. {Tweet, there it is.} It took me years to discover how to live one badass life, and even more years to embrace it.

The truth is that everyone {Yes that means you.} can absolutely live the life they’ve dreamed of. But it’s not going to happen by accident. If you truly want to live one badass life you’ll have to take steps to get there, and I’m ready to help you get started. Here are a few steps that you should consider:

  1. Fall “in like” with your situation*
  2. Prepare for the opportunity
  3. Snag it when it presents itself
  4. Change your mindset
  5. Be free

We’ll unpack these steps over the course of the 5 Steps to One Badass life Mompreneur Monday series. So take a moment now to stalk me on social media, and let’s continue on with this journey.

*{Term “in like with” credited to Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job & Your Dream Job}