From our team to yours, we just want to wish you a happy holiday season! May 2017 be a wonderful year for you!
It seems like at every conference I attend, every webinar/teleseminar I listen to, everywhere I turn, there are recommendations for books I absolutely MUST read. With so many recommendations, how will I ever get to all of them? After all, I’ve been reading the same book for the last six months – and it is a good book! I just never seem to be in the mood anymore. I used to love reading books. First it was actual books and then I used the Kindle.
But after looking at a computer all day, the last thing I really want to do is read!
Then last month, I tried an audio book. I love it! I’ve listened to two books in two weeks. Woohoo! I had been putting off audio books for a while. I mean, I’ve listened to teleseminars and I didn’t think I would like listening to books being read to me. I’d have to carry pen and paper with me so I could take notes, so it’s not like I could listen while I’m walking. And then what if the reader talks really slow? My mind would be wandering! And I thought I could read faster than I could listen.
Boy, was I wrong… [Read more…] about Audio books ROCK!
Malala Yousafzai has been in the news recently as the youngest person nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She was just an 11-year girl in Pakistan when she began her crusade for girls’ education. At 15 she was shot in the head by the Taliban, but she survived and is thriving. She’s written a book and speaks out about education for girls. She put her life in danger by expressing her feelings. So why did she do it? Because she wants girls to get an equal education to boys. Simple.
So have you thought about your ‘why’ recently — or ever? Why did you start your business? Why are you still in business today? What was the problem you’re trying to solve? Your why can change … mine certainly has over the years. Of course, we all want to make money in our businesses, but that’s not our why — we could make money doing other things.
When I started my business in 1996, my son was eight, my daughter was three. My son had an illness called Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome. When I interviewed for the Executive Assistant job two years prior, I was upfront about my son’s illness and the fact that he would be violently sick for five days at a time about every two or three months which would cause me to miss work. They were fine with that, we’d work around it…until two years later when I got “lectured” about my absences. I wasn’t getting paid sick days, but my time away was now a problem.
I had a choice to make — stay where I was and keep “getting in trouble” or leave… Shortly after that meeting, I gave my notice and started my entrepreneurial journey. In 1996, my why was my kids. [Read more…] about What’s your why?
Would my husband really want to continue dredging through 72-hours of online class work if no one acknowledged his hard work? Would a volunteer put himself out there again if no one recognized his dedication to a cause? Hardly.
If we as bystanders don’t do or say anything, how can we expect others to be excited about and continue what they are doing? We can’t. Encouragement is fuel and we all need it to persevere.
It truly doesn’t take much to encourage others. It’s not something you have to plan out or orchestrate. It should come from the heart in the joy of the moment and be spontaneous or at least happen before too much time has lapsed. It’s positive reinforcement right then and there.
- Begin with interest. A genuine, deep interest in what the person or group is doing is best because your enthusiasm should spill forth without much thought. On the other hand, you don’t have to care so much about the project as long as you care about the person and the same outcome should result. Think about a child taking violin lessons; even if it’s difficult to listen to the screeching strings in the beginning, your child is enjoying this fresh endeavor, learning a new skill, being involved in a group or team, and gaining a significant life lesson in the end. You’ll do them a disservice if you don’t cheer them on.
- Express your approval. How many times has a thought popped into your head that you didn’t say out loud? How many times would that same thought have been perceived as a form of encouragement by the recipient? Saying something as simple as “The sautéed spinach tastes really good” or “I can’t pinpoint what it is, but you look vibrant and happy today” can lift someone’s spirits and turn their whole day around. No matter what positive thought pops into your mind — articulate it. Set it free to do its work!
- Be appreciative. My goodness, a simple heart-felt “Thank you” once in a while can go a long way especially for those redundant or bothersome tasks no one wants to do. “Thank you for sweeping the floors” or “Thank you for taking that phone call for me” shows them that what they’ve done has not gone unnoticed. Sometimes we assume they know we appreciate their efforts, but in reality they might feel as if they are being taken for granted. Don’t let this happen. I’d be lost if hubby didn’t help around the house with laundry, chickens, meals, trash — the list goes on — so I try to thank him when he’s listening (not during football).
- Special recognition. Sometimes something unexpected is warranted. Recently the rescue where I volunteer was selected to participate in a potentially profitable popularity contest. One of our volunteers took it upon himself to reach out to every one, every where he could think of in order to garner votes. Then every day, twice a day, for several weeks, he manually calculated our standings and emailed a reminder status/update. His words and actions were encouraging us to keep voting … and ultimately we won. So the board of directors, rightly so, sent him a public letter of acknowledgment for his extra dedication to the cause.
- Be their rock. Sometimes we just need to know we have someone to turn to when we’re floundering with a project or goal. We need someone in our corner we know will instill some confidence and remind us of why we’re doing this in the first place. Think of your friend trying to lose weight who knows she’s on the edge of falling off her weight loss program in the middle of the afternoon when the munchies strike and reaches out to you to steady her. She knows that you’ll always say something to keep her on track, so you can be instrumental in keeping her confident and secure.
Every single day people in our lives are doing things they might not enjoy or find difficult or feel are unrewarding. It’s our job… it’s everyone’s job… to offer encouragement to those around us.
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEBSITE? Please do but be sure to include this complete blurb with it: © 10/17/2012 Kimberly J. McCloskey, author and copy editor, will be your sounding board, proofreader and partner to make you look intelligent, sound professional, and be authentic! Learn about her at www.TheWritingPartner.com.
The trees were in peak foliage season. Reds, yellow, greens and browns against a clear blue sky. The air was fresh and clean with a bit of a chill. I strolled and started thinking about seasons. Seasons of the year, our lives, our businesses.
Each season is beautiful and each season has things that we complain about. We need all of the pieces to complete the cycle.
One thing I find fascinating about the seasons is that as we get towards the end of one, we get tired of it and are ready to move on. For instance, I love the first snow but after a while I get tired of being cold and start searching for the first flower.
The tools you need for each season vary too. Warm clothes and snow boots in the winter, shovels and spades to loosen the soil in the spring, sprinklers in the summer and rakes in the autumn.
It’s the same in a business.
As time passes in your business the tools you need vary. The projects you work on change and the level of support you need shifts. There are times when things are going great, growing seems effortless and you don’t want to change a thing. There are other times when it seems that no matter what you do nothing moves and you can’t wait for it to end.
Looking at the picture of Holly standing (pretty much by herself) and reviewing the video over and over again, has reminded me that there’s a life lesson in here that’s bigger than what you might see on the surface.
Help from others is a good thing. Generally you can’t do everything alone, no matter how much you want to. Get help from others to assist you in their areas of expertise or something they are enthusiastic about. For me, I’m eager to help Holly walk so I do various therapies with her at home. The neurologist is excited to see her walk with the use of his therapies, and fans are willing to pay for this visit. Holly might not be standing if it weren’t for everyone pitching in.
If unconventional practices seem to be working, stick with them. There are a lot of people out there who look at me funny when I try to describe the type of therapy the neurologist – a surgeon – uses on Holly. There’s a whole other large group of people who are rooting on the whole process. I agree that some things the neuro prescribes or performs don’t necessarily make sense for the scientist in me, but proof is in the pudding and Holly stood – basically on her own – following her last treatment.
Your gut will guide you to do the right thing. This goes for me, Holly and everyone who cheers us on, sends us donations, gives us gifts, or just friends us on Facebook. We know in our heart we’re doing the right thing by Holly, even if it seems strange or almost useless, why would Holly deserve any less? Additionally, if you think about it, Holly lost use of her back legs when she was a mere three months old – that’s young! She’s a year old this month and we don’t know that Holly remembers anymore that she used to walk. However, in watching Holly on a daily basis and seeing her stand with Dr. C, it seems to me that Holly knows in her gut that she’s supposed to stand and supposed to walk and by golly, she tries.
Surround yourself with friends who encourage you. Without a doubt, it’s extremely difficult to do anything when the people in your life don’t support you in your efforts to reach your dreams. Holly has a whole host of friends on her Facebook page who cheer on her every photo and video, offer words of encouragement, provide solid and sound advice, and share in the setbacks when they happen. They certainly make my endeavor with Holly easier to bear.
Accept the gifts of others. If someone wants to give you something to help you along, take it. At times it’s difficult to ask for things we know might help us in our quest. On the other hand, there’s probably someone within our circle who knows exactly what those things are without our asking. If one of them gives you a gift, no matter how significant or overwhelming it seems, swallow your pride and take it. They want to help you, so let them. Benefit from it, be grateful for it and show your appreciation, of course. The most recent gift Holly received was a cart built for animals with paralysis. It was an expensive gift, but one that will allow Holly to be safely mobile, in a standing position, and have the opportunity to use her legs if she wants to.
Persistence pays off. In this instance, it’s not necessarily Holly’s persistence but I will say she doesn’t give up easily when she wants to get somewhere. She just doesn’t know that the people around her who continue to push her (help her) to walk are actually having their efforts pay off… finally!
You can reach your goals in life by remembering each of these important lessons. If you do the right thing, stick to your guns, and seek and allow help from others, anything can be achieved. Anything.
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEBSITE? You sure can! Include this complete blurb with it: © 9/13/2012 Kimberly J. McCloskey, Professional Virtual Assistant, in her attempt to help all people improve their personal and professional productivity, shares her insight through her newsletter “Productive Pointers”. Her natural artistic abilities, organizational skills and a love for detail shine through her creative writing for blogs, newsletters, articles, information products and more for her clients. Learn more at www.VA-Partner.com.
During the last week of March I attended my first business-related convention and I’ll tell you what, it was nothing like I expected! The presenter not only had a stage, she started the “show” with a band, hired a professional and well-known comedian to emcee the event, showed movies, played upbeat music, had an exhibit area for sponsor booths, and had a multitude of speakers… all in addition to the material she was teaching! Talk about information overload!
But it was all good. I was given the opportunity to meet several fellow virtual assistants and a couple of clients I had never met face-to-face before. Of course, I met a LOT of other people too since there were over 650 people in attendance.
So you might expect this newsletter to cover some of the topics I learned regarding marketing, networking, promotion, business planning… but I’m not. Instead I’m going to share some of the nitty-gritty nuts and bolts I learned about the process of attending a convention instead. Even if you don’t travel to conventions, I think you’ll find some of this information to be useful even for vacations!
- Make a list of what you need to take. Most people know I’m a huge fan of lists, and traveling is no exception. I made a list, starting a week in advance, of everything I knew I wanted or needed to take and added to it as the thoughts popped into my head. It’s fantastic for those last minute things that you might otherwise forget in the rush to leave.
- Roll your clothes when you pack them. I never tried this trick before but I actually was able to fit far more clothes in my suitcase than I’m used to packing. I don’t think it cut down on wrinkles, but as long as I hung out my clothes, the wrinkles lessened.
- Taking extra vitamins might not be enough to keep you from catching something! This particular event was held at a hotel located in the Orlando airport. Meals were eaten among the general travelers. Even though I washed my hands often and don’t touch handrails and such, I still came down with one of the worst “colds” I can ever remember having. I can’t speak for its effectiveness, but next time I’m giving Airborne a try.
- Be yourself. Everyone lately is talking about being authentic, being different, standing out from the crowd to get noticed. I learned through networking with some folks that simply being myself got more attention than when I tried to put on the professional business woman guise. Yes, I am one, but that’s not the skin I am comfortable in. So, be yourself and be relaxed.
- Have plenty of business cards HANDY. Conventions are typically places where you’re expected to network… i.e. exchange business cards. Someone showed me a great tip for keeping my business cards accessible: I put them inside my plastic name badge holder but behind the name badge. It worked like a charm!
- Establish a collection method in advance. Have a system for where you will put all the business cards you collect, as well as all of the receipts. There’s nothing more frustrating than knowing you have a piece of paper with important information on it and can’t remember which of five places you might have put it.
- Have a plan for doing something with all of those business cards once you get back! I made notes on the business cards I collected so that I would know who they were later when I reviewed them. When I returned home, I decided with whom and how to keep in touch… and I followed through. I’m amazed at how many folks, especially the booth sponsors, have not added me to their mailing lists or reached out in any way. That’s poor follow-up.
- Somehow you will always come back with more than you took. This convention gave us notebooks, binders, bags and countless other goodies that took up far more room than you would expect! Plan for this additional baggage in advance, especially if you are flying.
Traveling can be stressful, confusing and overwhelming, but if you take just a little bit of time to plan in advance you’ll find you can lessen the hectic moments of panic. Enjoy your travels!
I don’t usually rant and rave about too much, but this issue has come up a couple of times, and I thought now would be a good time to see what others think.
When you manually sign people up to receive your ezine, do you ask permission? I always ask permission and about 2% of the time I receive a “No, thanks. I already get so much information in my inbox.” No problem. I can certainly understand that. But these same people — twice now — have turned around and added me to their ezine list without asking my permission!
These people were prospects, and we had some e-mail communication, but does that mean they can just arbitrarily add me to their list? My opinion is no, they should not be doing this.
Now, granted, if they asked I would probably have said yes. I mean, I can always unsubscribe if the information is not what I’m looking for. But it irks me that I gave them the respect of asking and yet, they did not show me the same respect and added me without asking.
So how do you handle signing people up for your ezine? And what are your thoughts when people add you?
Are you a small business owner or entrepreneur? Think about that question for a minute. Which are you? Small business owner or entrepreneur? You might be thinking that they’re basically the same and to some extent, you’re right.
When I think of entrepreneur I think of someone who is creative, lives on the edge, is excited about their business, and is always on the frontline of the newest trend. When I think of small business owner, I think of the hair salon or the mechanic down the road. They have a brick and mortar business, signs on their building, and they wait for their customers. Maybe they run their business or maybe it runs them. Small business owner could also be a virtual or online business.
Now which are you? And which do you want to be? When you started your business were you full of excitement, new ideas, and ready to go — like the entrepreneur? Do you still have that entrepreneurial spirit…or have you slipped into the small business owner mind frame, living and running your business in chaos?
If you’re not careful, as the years go by — or even as you’re struggling in the early years to be successful — your business can slowly drain your emotional capital. From Conquer the Chaos “Emotional capital is the currency you use to wake up every day and fight the battle. It’s the passion, enthusiasm and positive outlook that propel you through your day, keeping you driven to achieve your goals.” If you don’t make deposits to your emotional capital account, the next thing you know, you’re living in chaos — the ambition and drive you had to have a successful business is wearing thin, and your business is running you!
How do you keep your emotional capital account in the black? There are a few things that you can do to make deposits into your emotional capital account, and that’s what I’d like to share with you.
Network with other entrepreneurs. These people do not need to be in the same industry as you. This is a time to share your entrepreneurial stories — successes, failures, and dreams. It can be a small group, just three or four people. Discuss problems and ways to overcome those problems. Let the ideas, creativity, optimism, and support flow — all the time making a deposit into your emotional capital account. This group of like-minded entrepreneurs can also be accountability partners. Have you ever said, “I’m going to do X, Y, and Z this month” and then never did it because you didn’t have anyone holding you accountable? This group can do it.
Next thing you can do to make deposits into your emotional capital account is to read books by the experts. You’re not the first person in the world to try to build a successful business. There have been plenty of others before you, and some of the more successful ones have written books about it. Here’s a few books on the suggested reading list:
~ The E-Myth by Michael Gerber
~ How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
~ And of course, Conquer the Chaos by Clate Mask and Scott Martineau
I know what you’re thinking…”I don’t have time to read books.” There are things you can do to help you read faster, like speed reading. Check out my blog for some tips on how you can read very quickly.
Seek out inspirational quotes. There’s something about a one-sentence quote that can pick us up when we’re feeling down!! Take advantage of those to add to your emotional capital account. There are several websites built around quotes for different occasions. Sign up to receive their “Quote of the Day” or “Quote of the Week” e-mail. Social media sites are also loaded with them. If you see one that calls to you, share it with your peers.
Read inspirational stories. Maybe the quotes aren’t enough for you. Maybe you need just a little more to make that deposit. Who inspires you? Who do you admire? Read those success stories. But also remember to stop periodically and look at your own successes and give yourself a pat on the back, too. Perhaps quarterly, stop and acknowledge your accomplishments over the past three months.
Let yourself dream. Get that entrepreneurial spirit back and dream big! What can you do to make the good things better? Think about the reasons and feelings that drove you to start your own business to begin with. What were you hoping to achieve? How big did you want your company to be? What were you hoping to find in starting and running your own business?
Reward yourself. Set a goal — even a small one — and decide what your reward will be when you reach that goal. Then follow through and do it!
Now that you know how to build your emotional capital account, spot-check it occasionally to make sure you’ve got the funds needed to continue your entrepreneurial dream!
The Internet has become a way of life for 75 percent of the population in the United States (according to Internet World Stats). But how reliable is the information they’re seeking and you’re finding?
The recent stories of Shirley Sherrod are a real life example of how misinformation on the Internet can harm someone. In this case, a blogger posted a portion of a speech she had given which made her appear to be racist. Shortly after, she was forced to resign as Georgia State Director of Rural Development for the United States Department of Agriculture. This is the short of the story — there are a whole myriad of other issues involving this case, which I won’t get into in this post because this is about being aware of the Internet and the misinformation it provides.
Another example involves a fellow Virtual Assistant. Several months ago she had a couple of her articles, taken from one of the article marketing sites, reposted on another website. She was given credit for the articles, and this is within the rules of the article marketing sites (i.e., you can use the articles as long as the author is given credit and the article is unchanged). The problem was the article had been substantially changed and the changes were not good — incorrect grammar and random words added and changed, making the article appear like it was written by a first grader. She does copywriting and anyone who Googled her name would see these horrendous writings. She has tried unsuccessfully to get the articles removed.
On Friday evening I was watching the news and it talked about a doctor who — between surgeries — visits social media sites to disperse correct medical information because, according to him, he had too many patients coming in with false information they had read on the Internet.
Why all the false information? Well, basically everyone has an opinion and if they have a computer and access to the Internet they can voice those opinions! They can be whoever they want to be on the Internet, so they can also appear to be an expert in that field.
How can you protect yourself? First, what is the purpose of the site? Is it selling a product? Is it to entertain? Is it a place where Joe Smith basically rants and raves his opinions? Next, is there contact information on the site — or an About Us page? Is the site sponsored by a company or is it a forum where anyone can post?
Check multiple sites. Don’t just read the first one you come to and believe what they say. Do more research. When I do a Google search, there are particular websites that I read first because I know they’re reliable, but I will also check some of the other sites and see what their opinion is. When I came up with the 75 percent of the U.S. population using the Internet (above), I looked at several sites before I determined the 75 percent to be accurate.
Just be aware of the sites you’re reading. And if you still have questions, call an expert in the field you’re researching and talk to them!