The 3 best children’s books for entrepreneurs

The 3 best children’s books for entrepreneurs

As I snuggle with my three year-old son at bedtime, it’s fascinating to me the lessons he’s already learning about life from these charming books.

Lessons all of us entrepreneurs need more often than we think.

Lessons on resilience, taking action, understanding that things won’t always go smoothly. Lessons on failing over and over again yet still not letting go of your dreams.

Here are three wonderful children’s books you should add to your business library, whether you have kids or not!

  1. Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss

This one may seem like a “Duh” selection, but have you ever actually read the words with an entrepreneurial mindset?  The main lesson about the ebb and flow of success and failure is profound:

Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.
Except when they don’t.
Because, sometimes, they won’t.
I’m afraid that some times
You’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
‘cause you’ll play against you.

Entrepreneurial A-Ha: The road to your destiny is paved with good days and bad ones; successes and failures. And sometimes your worst enemy will be yourself. (TWEET!)

Another great passage for entrepreneurs:

You can get so confused
that you’ll start into race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…
…for people just waiting
Waiting for a train to go
Or a bus to come, or a plane to go
…or waiting around for a Yes or No
—or waiting perhaps for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil or a better break.
Everyone is just waiting.
That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

Entrepreneurial A-Ha: Don’t fruitlessly wait to follow your dreams, get your break or request permission. Take action. (TWEET!) 

  1. How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers

An eager little boy loves stars and dreams that one day he will catch one star to be his friend. Despite multiple worries and setbacks, he keeps trying new ways to make it happen…until in the end, his hopefulness pays off and his dream finally comes true, just not quite in the way he had thought.

The boy tried to jump up and grab it.
But he could not jump high enough.
So, very carefully, he climbed to the tallest tree he could find.
But the star was still way out of reach.
He thought he might lasso the star with the life preserver from his father’s boat.
But it was much too heavy for him to carry.
Perhaps he could get a seagull to help him fly up into the sky to reach his star?
But the only seagull he could find didn’t want to help.
The boy worried he would never catch a star.

Entrepreneurial A-Ha: Never give up your dreams because success comes in many forms. (TWEET!)

  1. The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

A little boy discovers a small patch of abandoned garden in his otherwise dreary industrial city and–through trial, error and love­–helps it thrive, thus transforming his community. The most poignant passage talks about the power of contributing what you can, however you can and learning as you go.

Liam may not have been a gardener, but he knew that he could help. So he turned to the railway the very next day and got to work. The flowers nearly drowned and he had a few pruning problems, but the plants patiently waiting while Liam found better ways of gardening. As the weeks rolled by, Liam began to feel like a real gardener and the plans began to feel like a real garden.

Entrepreneurial A-Ha: Even if you don’t think you’re qualified to do something, with enough caring, learning and patience, you can create something beautiful. (TWEET!)


Image credit via Flickr

Three Strategies for Dealing with Problem Clients or Customers

3 Strategies to Handle “Problem” Clients

My two-year old son is my heart, my joy and my life.

His can also be a pain in the butt.

A friend once said that dealing with toddlers is like dealing with drunk people. They can be the happiest, most joyful people one minute and turn into a nasty, crying, incoherent mess the next. Sounds about right.

I’ve seen some parallels between toddler behavior and challenging clients. And I realized that some of the coping strategies we use with my son are actually pretty good tips for working with a “problem child” client or customer. (TWEET THIS!)

Here are three reasons why challenging clients or customers can behave like toddlers – and what you can do about it. And, PS, these apply to both product and service businesses:

  1. They don’t respect boundaries – because boundaries were never set: My tussles with my son are often because he simply does not know where the line is. If you’ve never tried dive-bombing off the couch onto hardwood floor before, you would also be surprised if all of the sudden you ended up in Time Out. It’s my responsibility to set clear boundaries of what is and is not okay.

Same holds true with your clients or customers. They can’t read your mind.

What you can do:

  • Draft a clear contract that outlines exactly what you will deliver and what is not included. If a particular clause or section needs their attention (no refunds, payment plans, etc.) make them initial that section.
  • Set boundaries on when you are reachable and how to best get in touch with you (email, mobile phone, not on weekends, etc.)
  • Firmly but kindly say “no” when asked to do something out of scope, or better yet, refer them to someone who can help them.
  • Post simple-to-understand (and easy to find) policies on your website, in your store or on your sales page so there are no surprises.
  1. They make irrational demands: My toddler has requested, at one time or another, to run around with a sharp knife, play outside right before bedtime, or that I make him something and then, once made, he refuses to eat it. These demands are maddening. The tantrums that follow even more so.

Certain clients or customers ask for the sun, moon and stars, make wacky requests or behave irrationally, which could result in emotional meltdowns that would even impress my toddler (Yes, a client has yelled at me and my team before. He was not a client for long!)

What you can do:

  • Set clear boundaries upfront: See above.
  • Acknowledge the request: “I can see that your boss is demanding the work earlier than expected. You’re trying to see if we can move up the timeline we agreed to upfront and still include everything you asked for, correct?”
  • Empathize and mirror their concern. Only then will they be receptive to what you have to say next: “That’s a rough spot for you to be in! I can see why you’re so frustrated.”
  • Get to the root of the demand and offer an alternative, if you can. “Can you share what’s causing this issue and maybe we can find another solution?” Or, “We can try to deliver that to you ahead of time, but then your final deliverable will not include x, y and z. Are you okay with that?”
  • If there is no alternative other than an outright “No”, offer a referral or resource. “I really want you to get the help you need, and unfortunately, I don’t do that type of work. May I recommend so-and-so?”
  • These ideas work even if you have a product or retail business. Acknowledge, empathize, find alternate solutions or refer them out.
  1. They don’t listen: No matter how many times I ask him to not do something, my son sometimes never learns. “I’m telling you that if you put your hand on that pot you will burn yourself. NO TOUCH!” And he slowly stares me down as he stretches his hand toward the forbidden item, as if to say, “Are you watching?!”

Clients and customers always have the final say. It’s their money. But it can be hard, especially for services professionals, when some clients refuse to listen, things go sideways and then they might blame you. It’s sort of like talking to my two-year old: “I TOLD you not to touch the stove and you did it anyway!”

What you can do:

  • Back up your recommendations with data, a similar experience or a recent article.
  • Share both the upsides and downsides of all options to show you’ve considered everything.
  • Gently remind them they are paying you for your expertise, not to “yes” them to death (unless they are….?) or lead them to failure. It’s your responsibility to at least voice concerns by making a clear and professional case – but don’t harp on this if they continue to say no. In the end, it is their money and decision.
  • If they still won’t listen, document your recommendations in email or more formally. You can even say, “We are committed to helping you move forward, however, we’d like to officially document our concerns one last time.” Trust me on this.
  • If this is not a path you can morally, ethically or intellectually get behind, break ties. Do so gracefully by focusing on their needs and what would be the best value for them. Offer a refund only if that’s appropriate.

Now…..hang on……here’s your WHIPLASH moment:

Are YOU a “problem child” for someone else, or are you a good client or customer? Think about your web designer, copywriter or social media strategist. Hmmm…..well, um…yikes.

If you want to make sure you’re being a good client to your own vendors and consultants, here’s a FREE GUIDE I made for you: How to Play Nice with Consultants. Enjoy!

Image Credit via Flickr

5 Ways to Make Marketing More Enjoyable

5.24.165ways to Make Marketing Fun (Blog)

I adore business owners that say they hate promotion. It’s super cute.

This comes in other forms as well: I hate sales, I hate networking, I hate marketing.  hate writing.

Why so much hate?

If this is you, let me comfort you a little bit. It’s not that you “hate” any of those things. Truly. Please save hate for things like reconciling your books or filling out government forms.

I believe that what you actually hate is the way you think it has to be done. Somewhere along the way, you associated cheesy spokespeople, ego-centric self promoters and jargon-filled web copy as “marketing.”

If you are trying to send any sort of message to the world, be it attracting customers or promoting a book or asking for donations, then you are a marketer.

You should be the most excited person in the world to share your story and your value. If not you, then who?

If talking about and promoting your work doesn’t light you up, then why should your audience care? (TWEET THIS!)

So let’s banish all of your old notions about what promotion “should” be, shall we? Here are 5 spicy ways to make marketing more fun:

  1. Make friends, don’t “network”: If you go a BBQ and you don’t know anyone, isn’t it fun to stumble upon an interesting person or someone you want to get to know better over coffee? You’re meeting them casually, letting mutual interests guide the conversation, and you can see if you click….or not. The truth is that we do business with people we like. Not everyone is going to appreciate that snarky sense of humor but then c’mon over to my house, because I’ll love you! If you want people to know about your business, you have to…you know, be around people! Offline AND online. Instead of tensing yourself up into a stress ball the next time you have to” attend a networking event, think of it like a block party. Who do you like talking to? Who is interesting? Who did you exchange knowing grins with when you made that sarcastic crack about the boring speaker? Give yourself the challenge of meeting one (just ONE!) interesting or cool person at your next function or in your LinkedIn group or wherever and see where it takes you.

Read: The 11 Laws of Likability by Michelle Lederman and I’m at a Networking Event—Now What??? By Sandy Jones-Kaminski

  1. Write Love Letters, Not Sales Pages: Maybe you’d rather dance on hot coals than write….anything. Or perhaps you’re a little less extreme and would just rather not write “sales copy.” Again, you may hate this because you’re conditioned to think it has to sound like a cheesy infomercial or that you simply must have tons of BUY NOW!!! arrows all over a 9-mile long page. Not true. The best sales pages are those that speak to the benefits the potential buyer gets, of course, but they are also personal and approachable. No one wants to be sold to, but everyone wants to be wooed! Approach your next sales page like a love letter: I know you crave x, y, and z, Maria, and this is why you’ll love what I made for you!” Think about how you convince your friends to read a new book or try a new restaurant that you love. You’re excited, not robotic. You talk about all the reasons they would like it. You immediately text them the link so they don’t even have to make an effort. Treat your sales copy like your next juicy recommendation to a friend and see how much more you enjoy writing it!

Do: Need more inspiration to get your writing juices flowing? Try this creative tip from Melissa Cassera. And here’s a fabulous template from Alexandra Franzen if you need one. Oh, and total thanks to verbalizing this concept goes to my friends and collaborators Alex and Melissa (I never titled it anything as eloquent!)

  1. Automate Where You Can: Rather than dying a slow death every day, batch and automate as much as you can for the week (or month, if you can be that on top of things.). If you can set it and forget it, it’s a lot less painful. I know a few successful solopreneurs that batch all their blog posts by locking themselves in a hotel for a weekend and cranking out content for the next six months. Then they just schedule the blog posts, all the associated social media posts to drive traffic and BAM, simply check in on comments when it goes live. If they even use Comments. Some folks choose not to do this.

Try: BufferApp, Hootsuite, Missing Lettr.

  1. Take an Improv Class or Join Toastmasters: If you have something to share with the world, you have to be able to tell them about it. No getting around it. If public speaking–whether giving a simple elevator pitch, running a small workshop or presenting a keynote to thousands­–horrifies you as much as the thought of a world without wine (GASP!), face your fear. Part of your anxiety comes from lack of practice or fear of the unexpected. Like anything else, the more you do something, the better you will get at it. Sharpen your skills and make a game out of it! Take a local improv class to get comfortable with thinking on the fly (and to get comfortable in your own body, which could be something adding to your angst.) And have fun doing it! I, personally, adore public speaking because there is no greater honor quite like enlightening and inspiring a person right in front of you and to see their eyes light up! When you attack your fear head-on, you will not only defeat the bully, you may find this is a wonderful and fulfilling way to spread your message.

Do: Type “Find an improv class” into Google. Join a local Toastmasters chapter.

Read: The Introvert Entrepreneur by Beth Buelow. And these 10 tips to improve your public speaking skills.

  1. When all else fails, outsource: OK, so there might be some ongoing marketing tasks that you really do loathe. That’s fine. You can always outsource tasks that bring you no joy or on which your time would be better spent elsewhere. Look to a virtual assistant (VA), intern, agency, consultant or perhaps even a new hire. You can find great inexpensive resources on sites such as Upwork, Fiverr and 99Designs­ but you need to be very selective and clear on what you want in these places, as they attract all levels of talent. Some specific folks I turn to are Worldwide101 for my VA, Virtually Savvy for social media management, Hey Eleanor for copywriting, and Tiny Blue Orange for website management. For interns, contact your local college or university to find business, marketing or communications students who are looking for internship opportunities.

Image Credit via Flickr

Hot List! 12 Fab Finds for Your Business, Brand + Soul

5.17.16HotList (Blog)

With today’s avalanche of information coming at us every day, one of my joys here at Red Slice is to curate some fabulous resources for you.

There are so many smart people doing amazing things in the world: writing books, inventing time-saving tools and creating soul-stirring, shut-up-and-dance music (and hilarious parodies of said music!)

Here’s my Hot List of current obsessions: the people, books, tools, and music that will make your biz and life easier and more joyful. (Tweet the love!)


7 Things to Do When a Big Website Links to Your Post by my writing partner-in-crime, Sarah Von Bargen @yesandyes

20+ Social Media Hacks and Tips from the Pros suggests oodles of tips and tools to get smarter about social media management, including introducing me to MissingLettr (Tip #8) which I really dig. By @LisaDJenkins on @SMExaminer

8 Ways Lead Pages Can Grow Your Blog or Online Business by @melyssa_griffin. I just started using LeadPages and it’s been fabulous. There is SO much you can do with it to grow your list and sell your offerings online, and Melyssa explains it all.


Use this to easily put together an inspirational, funky or thrilling custom playlist for your email subscribers or Facebook fans? @8Tracks

Surprise a special client or customer by recording a personal thank you message. Will certainly cut through the email clutter and they will adore it. @vocaroo

If you are a speaker or workshop leader, please check out PunchSlide Design to beautify your slide decks and make them pop. I’m using them for an upcoming keynote to 400 people and I can’t wait to show off my new deck! @punchslidedsgn


Career Courage: Discover Your Passion, Step Out of Your Comfort Zone and Create the Success You Want by Katie Kelley: This amazing woman was my tough-love coach who, with just a few sessions, transformed the way I do business in 2010. Whether entrepreneur or corporate climber, you will love her savvy approach, meshing psychological counseling experience with her mad career coaching skills.  @Katie_C_Kelley

Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness by Shasta Nelson.  I adore Shasta personally and professionally. This woman is passionate about changing the world by creating better friendships. Unless you’re someone who does not want lifelong health and happiness, plus sizzling fun and nurturing friendships (whether you’re male or female), get this book.  @ShastaMNelson

Nail the Interview, Land the Job: A Step-by-Step Guide for What to Do Before, During and After the Interview by Michelle T. Lederman. Michelle is a dynamic and direct executive leadership and networking coach who is also a friend and a past client! With targeted information for the recently unemployed, new graduates, and parents returning to the workforce after an extended absence, this book is a crucial tool for people at any stage in their careers. @mtlederman


This song is my everything right now.

This parody of it is a MUST-VIEW if you have toddlers…be prepared to laugh until you cry.

And THIS amazingly cool jam by JT may just be the song of the summer!

What hot picks do YOU have to share? Please post them in the Comments below!

Image via Flickr

“I am not a marketer.”


Do any of these refrains sound familiar?

“I don’t know what I don’t know about brand. Why do I need it?”

“I hate marketing, I’m not interested in being the star of the show. It feels slimy.”

And my favorite (and the most common):

“I’m not a marketer.”

Don’t get me wrong. The fact that folks have these beliefs is why I have steady employment and I’m more than happy to serve.

But let me be clear: You are a marketer. (Tweet me!)

You may not know the ins and outs of writing a killer blog post, or how to do Facebook ads correctly or why you need a messaging platform…..but you are a marketer.

Marketing, in my view, is about sharing the passionate truth of your story to the right people so that they know you solve a problem they have – or you can deliver something to them that they really, really crave.

When it comes down to it, your work either helps people avoid pain or find pleasure. Whatever that “pain” might be: struggling in business, feeling lonely, spending too much money. Or…whatever that “pleasure” might be: saving money, losing weight, gaining confidence, etc.

Marketing is NOT: Lying, coercion, extortion, bragging, selfish or cruel. While many soda, food companies or politician may not subscribe to this is beside the point.

FACT: Marketing is communication.

If you enjoy what you do, if it provides value for people and if you’re excited about talking about it, then guess what? That’s marketing.

Whenever you overdeliver for clients, delight customers, or tell someone about your cool new offering or snazzy new product with all the zeal of a tween at Bieber concert, you are marketing.

Doesn’t mean you still can’t grow and learn exactly which steps to take and how to get to success.

Never again let me hear you say, “You are not a marketer.”

There is a brand and marketing genius inside you, bursting to get out. You just need Glinda to the Good Witch (a.k.a, me) to show you how to use those ruby slippers you’ve been wearing all along and guide you down the right road to get home.

Love or Lust? Decide.

Blog-Are-you-in-love-with-your-businessEntrepreneurship…business ownership….freelancing….author or speaker….whatever you call your profession, the bottom line is that you work for yourself.

You are responsible for building your business, marketing it, talking it up, making connections, reconciling the books and most of all, finding work that pays.

It can be hard and joyous.

It can be stressful and freeing.

It can be lonely and empowering.

There is a lot of work to be done and no one else to do it but you. Or, I should say, no one else is responsible for driving it but you.

It takes a certain amount of moxie and momentum to wake up every morning and make your work happen.

So right now, decide:

Are you in lust or are you in love with your business?

Lust is chasing the cute bad boy (or gal) in the leather jacket because he looks cool. You know nothing about him but you dive in headfirst because you think this will be a helluva lot of fun.

Lust is surface. Lust runs hot and cold. Lust is about short bursts of passion and effort. Lust is moody. Lust drains you. Lust bails when things get too messy or hard.

Kind of like starting a business because you think it looks “really fun” and you don’t have any desire to put the time, effort and work needed into it. Or maybe you’ll just work on your business “when you have time,” like you do with your favorite hobbies.

It’s spending all your time building a cool, hip website rather than worrying about the bottom line. It’s randomly advertising or marketing without a sound plan in place. It’s taking get-rich-quick courses to shortcut the work, or failing to budget or plan. It’s designing pretty business cards for months rather than getting out there and hustling for paid work.

Love, on the other hand, is getting to know another person for who they really are, and embracing their soul. You know there will be good days and bad days and you learn how to work together as one solid unit–even in moments when you might want to rip their eyes out. You are committed to every delightful, frustrating, cherished and annoying moment of it.

Kind of like starting a business with eyes wide open, knowing some days you’ll be successful and others you will fall on your face, but always keeping your larger vision in mind. You learn from your mistakes. You study. You soak up knowledge. All in an effort to improve. It’s hard work but you stay steadfast and don’t lose momentum because you are “all in.”

Love is deep. Love is honest, stable and healthy. Love is constant and committed energy and motion. Love fuels you.

I’m not saying your have to run your business for the rest of your life or even that you should continue on if you no longer find joy in it. On the contrary, please, if this is where you are, give it up immediately and do something else that lights you up inside.

What I am saying is don’t confuse lust and love. Lust is a fling. Love is a commitment. (TWEET THIS!)

Love is not easy. Love has bad days. But love is a commitment to forward movement. To momentum. To growth.Love is a sweet promise into which you put your whole heart, come what may, because you can’t imagine doing anything else.

Right now, decide. Are you in love or in lust with your business? And then act accordingly.

Photo credit: Nathan Walker via Unsplash

Craving more entrepreneurial advice and inspiration? Check out my Juicy Guide to Entrepreneurship: How to Energize Your Brand and Squeeze More Soul into Your Business, on sale on Amazon right now for just $0.99!

10 Killer Resources to Boost Your Business + Inspire Your Work

8.11.15 - RoundUp (blog)

It’s hard enough to find time in our busy schedules to read all the great posts you can find online, much less consume all that great information. So, this week I thought I’d give you a quick round up of 10 articles from around the web that will wonderfully boost your daily business activities.  Check these out for inspiration, business guidance and a little motivation…and please share to your heart’s content!

20 Smart Ways to Generate More Leads for Your Business
You may already know about some of these existing resources and tools for business development: Now jumpstart your lead generation efforts with a few new tips on how to use them.

More Than Personas: How to Know What Your Audience Really Wants
While I still think creating ideal customer personas is a HUGE help to focusing your marketing efforts and creating a connective brand, this article features other expert examples on how to identify your audience needs.  My faves? “Pull up a digital seat”and “Ask and track.”

The Difference Between Strategy And Tactics And Why You Need To Know
Ah, my favorite, favorite topic! An often mistaken distinction that can make or break your business success  -and your sanity.  I adore Bernadette Jiwa and you will, too. Main message: Stop working backwards.

The 200-Word Guide to Personal Branding
Personal branding requires you to be in the spotlight and you need to be ready. This is a short guide to getting your brand up to par.

Improve Your Email Content With a 7-Minute Workout Routine
A handy infographic that provides a quick “maintenance boost” to your email content and campaigns.

How to Address Marketing’s Big, Nasty and Age-Old Believability Problem
Faced with a world of disbelief, marketers can often get discouraged that they are not making headway. This article features some provocative FAQ’s on the subject and how you can address them.

Buffer Stopped Posting for 30 Days and Here’s What Happened
This is a great read to solidify thoughts on content re-purposing and taking some time to create.

How To Be Creative When Your Brain Doesn’t Want To Play
Addressing writers block with a little creativity instead.

And these 5 bonus ones from yours truly. Enjoy!

Get inspired! 20 of the best branding + business quotes

No matter your focus, I gathered some of my favorite business quotes to inspire you through the challenges.

The Not-So-Secret to Brand Success

It’s probably on your mind after all the inspirational posts you’ve just combed through, but this not-so-secret that I shared last year is still very relevant.

How to Define Your Audience and Boost Your Brand as a Writer MASH Stories, a blog for young writers worldwide interviewed me on this hot topic.

Here’s a piece I wrote for Online Super ninja called 4 Tips to Making Your Message Sexy (ooh la la!)

And a lovely shout out from One Woman Shop, where Red Slice was named one of the 100 best sites for solopreneurs. Honored to be in such company!

Which article is resonating the most or causing an “A Ha!” moment for you? Would love to know in the comments below!

4 Ways to Shift Your Brain & Get Fresh New Ideas

7.21.15 Fresh New Ideas (Blog)

Apple challenged us many years ago to “Think Different.” But are you stuck in a mindset rut? Sometimes this can happen when we focus solely on our role, business or even industry.

You’re networking with people who do what you do. You go to the same places. You read the same books. You’re looking at what everyone else in your industry is doing – and it all looks the same. It’s no surprise that when you surround yourself with sameness, you’ll naturally fall into a creative void.

But there’s a way to shake things up.

Change your habits, experience new things & watch the ideas flow. (Tweet this!)

For many years, I was a management consultant, working with Fortune 500 companies. Then I worked as a consumer-focused Marketing Manager for Discovery Networks. Then I became an Account Manager for an ad agency, and finally did an 8-year tour of duty in the and Silicon Valley tech scene before launching my business.

Bouncing from process design to event planning, from B2C to B2B, from communication planning to PR, from agency to client …these experiences ended up creating my biggest secret weapons. I see the whole picture. I connect dots and articulate themes that others can’t see. I can now take the best of what I’ve seen in one industry or business model and apply it to another to turn things upside down. The humor and fun I learned while marketing consumer networks like Animal Planet and The Discovery Channel? I applied that kind of human voice and vibe to B2B tech marketing to great success. The sales process and lead generation best practices I honed as a technology Marketing Director? My smallest entrepreneurial clients love that insight to not only build their brand, but to structure their pipeline and business development.

Even being an actress has added dimension to my current work. I’m able to tell stories, evoke emotion and create drama for my clients’ brand strategies and messaging. And of course, that skill enables me to light up a conference stage and delight an audience.

If you’re bored with your approach, tired of how “we’ve always done things around here” and new ideas just aren’t coming to you, sounds like you need to shake things up. Here are 4 ways you can shift your thinking and generate creative business ideas – not to mention contribute to your mental well-being:

Ditch the bedside business books: When my nightstand is piled high with business or management books, I find I’m less creative and imaginative. Not that they don’t have their place for learning important strategies (ahem…I know of a really good one on how to build your brand.), but try something completely different. Light up sleepy parts of your brain, perhaps with a memoir, historical non-fiction, dramatic fiction, moody detective novels…hell, even a juicy romance novel.* Point is, you’ve got to exercise all parts of your brain and imagination in order to come up with fresh ideas. And movies count, too: You may just find your next brilliant business tip or sexy new marketing promotion from a spy thriller.

Immerse yourself in the arts: In 2013, I took a 5 week sabbatical to attend an exclusive acting intensive through San Francisco’s famed America Conservatory Theater. From 9 am to 6 pm – and even later at times – I sat on the floor and took notes from acting masters (on real paper!). Created art with my body during movement classes. Tapped into the raw, true voice that emanates from my gut, not my head. Let go of self-consciousness during improv. Tested my strength and agility in combat fighting. When I returned to work, I was exhilarated and approached my clients’ work with fresh eyes. Creativity poured out of me and I never felt more alive. Being in plays or doing short films has the same effect for me: I am surrounded by people who think, act and express in ways that folks in my “regular” works never would and it energizes me. Instead of going to your next networking event, go see a play with a friend. Make a date to wander around your local art gallery on a Sunday afternoon. Take an improv class. Sign up for a pottery workshop. Flex your artsy muscle and expose yourself to a radically different world outside of your “business box.”

For the love of Pete…UNPLUG!: Guilty. I admit it. I’m never without my phone within 1 foot of my body and panic if I can’t find it. My husband says my tombstone epitaph should be, “Where’s my phone?” because I ask it about 100 times a day. But seriously, guys. It’s time for a Digital Detox. Let’s stop crossing the street glued to our phones. Let’s step away from the laptop for a day (a week, a month…) Look up. Open your eyes. Connect to others around you at the coffee shop or grocery store. When was the last time you people-watched at the airport and invented fun back-stories for the strangers who pass by? Do you want to get new ideas? Then you have to experience life, connection and reality. Start with one afternoon you designate as “tech-free” and see where it takes you.

Move your body: My good friend, Melody Biringer, Founder and CEO of CRAVE and a serial entrepreneur, swears by “business meeting walks.” This was one of my favorite ways to connect with her. Walking miles, we’d work out business challenges and come up with brilliant new ideas. I always had a fresh perspective on my work after our walks together. Go for a hike. Take your dog for a walk. Swim, Bike. Dance. Do yoga. When you move your body, you give you mind the break it needs to generate new ideas later. I make time every week to go to Crossfit and spend mental energy focused on my strength and agility. Start with a 15-minute mid-morning walk every day, regardless of where you work (I’m sure you can walk the halls or around the parking lot if it’s not the nicest setting). Shut the door on the boring conference room and take your next one-on-one meeting on the road as a stroll in the park or downtown.

What about you? What shakes up your thinking and enables you to come up with fresh new ideas for your business? Please share in the Comments. Or let us know which one of these tips you’re going to follow ASAP!

*In full disclosure, some links may be Amazon affiliate links where commissions are paid. But that’s a win-win if you decide to check out these great reads!
Image Credit: Wilerson S Andrade via Flickr

Leprechauns, Charms and the Space to Make Magic

03.17.15 Recharging (blog)

I took two weeks off for vacation and prepped everything in my life for a work detox. I call it a “work detox” not a full-on digital one, because I specifically set things up to take a break from work email, while still enjoying personal connections via social media: Coordinating a meetup with a friend via Twitter. Posting pics of my sweet babe playing among neon lights at London’s Museum of Childhood or a family photo atop the London Eye, bundled up in the cold weather despite the bright sunlight. Instagramming new fallen snow in the Scottish Highlands before it quickly melted away. Sharing a hilarious video of my mother-in-law’s Boxer and Jack Russell up in Scotland licking my baby boy with love and gusto – and his attempts to kiss them back.

Today is St. Patrick’s Day and my mind is filled with lucky charms, Irish blessings and pots of gold. It seems appropriate to talk about how to make more magic in your life on this special day.

But since I’m not a leprechaun, I can only share some ideas for how this two-week playdate away from work on foreign soil helped me recapture a bit of magic and verve in my own life – and how you might be able to do the same:

  1. Remove or Outsource the Clutter: I knew my Type A personality would go mad if I just “didn’t check email” for two weeks. But I didn’t want the time-suck that email brings distracting me from my family and vacation time. So I asked for help. My rockstar VA checked my email while I was gone, with instructions on how to respond, what to delete and when to send me an urgent text. And guess what? The sky didn’t fall. No one was upset. I had zero junk email piled up. My business didn’t shatter to pieces. If anything, more new business and opportunities awaited me upon my return. And more importantly, I used that time to create magical memories and slow down. Now that I’m more used to it, I’m also finding ways to check email only a few times a day.

What is taking up space in your life that doesn’t serve you or your business? Can you outsource it or delete it completely to make time for silence, laughter, and peace? You have to remove what’s not working before you can replace it with what does.

  1. Change your Environment: Okay, so we can’t always travel 6000+ miles from where our obligations and responsibilities surround us in order to “get away.” But shifting your location, surroundings or context can do wonders for throwing you just a bit off kilter so you are more aware, more alive, more thoughtful. When your surroundings are new, they tend to have a magical, sparkly glow. You’re simply paying more attention because things are unfamiliar. That shift in focus can result in amazing connections – like when I happened to meet the CMO of Pizza Hut for the UK at a café over breakfast. It can spark new dreams – like our desire to pick some other travel destinations for the year. And it can laser-focus you on what is important and what can simply fall away. Hint: A lot more can fall away than you keep telling yourself.

How can you change the scenery in your everyday life? Is it a staycation at a great boutique hotel or perhaps working out of a new coffee shop instead of your old office? Can you take a new route to work or repaint a room? Shift your surroundings so you can shift your focus.

  1. Appoint a Muse: Upon my return, I was lucky enough to have a call with one of my dear gal pals who is also a trusted colleague, inspiring entrepreneur, business-scheming partner-in-crime, idea generator and all-around cheerleader. I realized my joyful talks with her help me focus and keep me motivated on the bigger picture. She inspires me to dream big and find out what I want. Our calls are magical and I always hang up buzzing with energy, as if she’s weaved a little spell around me.

Who can you meet up with regularly to be your personal muse – and for whom you can do the same? Make sure you have these magical elves on speed dial and set up regular dates with them so you get out of your own head and your own ruts. Collaboration breeds all sort of creativity and wonder.

Bottom line: Don’t wait for the leprechaun. There are lots of way to create your own charms and spells to inject magic into your world. (Tweet this!)

Now it’s your turn: What are some ideas you can share about how to rejuvenate your business, spark our creativity or create magic in your world? I’d love to know so please leave a Comment below!

Image credit: Judith Doyle via Flickr

5 Books to Ignite Your Business and Brand in the New Year

1.6.15 ignite your business (blog)

You have big plans for the New Year. I just know it! You want to build your business, increase your brand awareness, streamline your marketing efforts and, essentially, get your irresistible message out there – with style and grace, naturally.

Whether you are a business owner, or have a book, cause, or project to get off the ground, here are five plucky and practical books I recommend to amplify your message and ignite your efforts this year. (Tweet this!)

Propel: Five Ways to Amp Up Your Marketing and Accelerate Business

Whitney Keyes is a consultant, international speaker and professor who offers smart, simple and super fast marketing strategies for organizations big and small. Plus, she’s a trusted colleague and I’ve seen her work her magic first-hand. This book breaks down a marketing and sales plan into something doable, practical and – dare I say – fun to execute.

I’m at a Networking Event—Now What??? A Guide to Getting the Most Out of Any Networking Event

This book will make you love and appreciate the art of networking. Seriously. Whether you’re an introvert, or simply and extrovert who hates business card-swapping and idle small talk, Sandy Jones-Kaminski is a networking maven and shows you how to network the right way so its fun and fruitful. One hint: It starts with generosity and curiosity – not forceful sales pitching. Sandy shares helpful conversation starters, online connection do’s and don’ts and ways you can get more out of that next conference or event – other than parking yourself by the pastry table.

The 11 Laws of Likability: Relationship Networking…Because People Do Business with People They Like

Michelle Tillis Lederman is an executive coach and corporate trainer who has boiled her years of experience with large corporations down to 11 simple principles for making sales, forming partnerships and managing teams. This book is a perfect read for entrepreneurs, business leaders and job seekers alike if you’re trying to get out there and promote your message or mission.

The Digital Mystique: How the Culture of Connectivity Can Empower Your Life – Online and Off

Sarah Granger is an online guru, technology master and digital marketing consultant who has worked with clients ranging from political campaigns to corporations. This book is a great primer on how to seize digital opportunities to make both your personal and professional life richer. Her tips and case studies cover important guidelines on everything from making online connections with possible clients and partners met to privacy to encouraging your kids to behave responsibly online. Sarah offers a positive spin on the digital revolution and how it can help us connect, create and collaborate when used appropriately.

Branding Basics for Small Business (2nd Edition): How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget

Sorry, couldn’t resist adding my book, especially since I’ve added more robust content in this 2nd edition on networking, social media and content marketing, in addition to new case studies and interviews with marketing experts such as Jay Baer, Ann Handley and Mike Michalowicz. The book outlines a simple ten-step questioning process to clarify your brand strategy, focus on your ideal audience and make thousands of marketing decisions with more ease and confidence. The goal is to help you attract more of the right customers and save valuable time and money by avoiding “random acts of marketing.” Doesn’t that sound good?!

Which books do you recommend to boost your business or brand? Please tweet me @redslice and let me know.

Image Credit Ulmann Patrik vis Flickr