Archive for the ‘Gratitude’ Category

I’m Back from my Sundance Festival Road Trip!

I'm Back from My Sundance Festival Road Trip!

I’m back from my Sundance Festival road trip and it was amazing!

I had so much fun and packed so much stuff into a short time frame (left on January 26 and got back Feb 2).

I posted pix of my explorations on our ACA Facebook group. Come join us there if you’d like to take a look. (Note: If you request to join and your profile doesn’t provide any info about your administrative support business, be sure you also message me either on Facebook or by email.)

I just LOVE road trips. Travelling by car is my favorite way to travel because you can go at your own pace, stop when you feel like checking something out, and see cities and countryside up close and personal that you haven’t before.

It’s a much more intimate way to travel and see and explore places that would be bypassed in any other mode of travel.

Some of my road trip highlights:

  • Um, attending the SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL!
  • Meeting and talking with all kinds of interesting industry people from actors to a film composer to filmmakers and others who work behind the camera.
  • Having Robert Redford walk past me so close we actually touched. And yes, he is handsome as ever.
  • Also, walking past George Lucas as he was exiting one of the many celebrity Suburbans that began showing up later in the day on Main St.
  • Shopping for souvenirs and gifts.
  • Having an amazing pedicure in Park City.
  • Getting restaurant recommendations from locals and eating at some amazing places including some fantastic greasy spoons. (For anyone not familiar with the term, a greasy spoon is a high honor. It’s the kind of establishment that is usually locally/independently owned where typically fresh/home-cooked type food is served. These are often the BEST places on the planet for amazing down-home breakfast served any time of day.) I highly recommend No Worries Cafe in Park City.
  • Seeing the Great Salt Lake in person for the first time (I’ve only ever seen it by plane other than that).
  • Seeing country in Oregon, Washington and Idaho I’ve never been to before.
  • Oh, and lots of new souvenir travel magnets to commemorate my travels and explorations!

I'm Back from My Sundance Festival Road Trip

And it was scary crazy how everything worked out so perfectly. This was a totally spontaneous decision to go. I hadn’t actually registered for Sundance this year, didn’t know if I’d be able to even see any films (and if I didn’t, I was okay with that; it was enough just to go), and I thought there was no way in hell there would be any hotel rooms left, especially not without any advance reservation (and if there were, they’d cost a million dollars; most rooms start at $500 during festival week and go up into the thousands.).

I just left and trusted that everything would work out the way it was supposed to. And it did!

Everyone I talked to could not believe how lucky I was. When there were still hundreds of people on waiting lists for tickets, for some reason I scored seats. And the first hotel I called actually had a room available. For some inexplicable reason, they put me in a $500 room and only charged me $129/night (I stayed two nights). The only thing I can think is that I really hit it off with the gal I spoke to on the phone. She loved how I had just hopped in the car and took off.

This trip was also one of personal growth as well as it was the first time I’ve traveled such a distance (3 states!) all by myself.

Since I’d never done anything like this before alone, it was scary to me in a lot of ways.

And I aced it! Not one bit of anxiety being that far from home by myself and not one pang of homesickness (other than being ready for my own comfy cozy bed after a week).

I gained a huge sense of accomplishment and empowerment. It was a reminder to me that the world is my oyster and I can do anything I set my mind to do (and have).

And while I do love travelling with a partner, I also enjoy my own company and meeting and talking to new people immensely.

This trip was a precursor to a bigger plan I’ve had brewing for several years, which is to travel the U.S. (first) and some parts of Canada, meeting my members and colleagues, and seeing the country by car.

I’ve sort of kept it on the down-low because I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. I’m also not one of those people who benefits from putting plans out there as a way to make me accountable to myself. The minute I do that, I get blocked, so I just don’t. And life also simply got in the way.

First, we moved to Europe for a couple years. Then six months after we returned to the U.S. for good, I left my man of 12 years which was a huge, life-changing decision. Then I wasn’t sure how to even undertake something like this all by myself. And then my dad’s health took a turn for the worse and I had to put him first and help care for him.

Once we got dad’s health stabilized in January, I decided to make this trip to do something for me to recharge and renew.

I'm Back from My Sundance Festival Road Trip

I’ve long been a lover and devotee of independent film so it was perfect timing and the festival gave me a great destination focal point.

And besides being a business networking/writing retreat, I had also wanted to try to meet a few colleagues along the way. This trip was pretty much a spur-of-the-moment decision and since I announced it so last minute (like, the day I was leaving, lol), by the time I had heard from three Portland area colleagues, I was already near Idaho.

So, I did learn a lot of things in this first trip which are going to help me in my next member/colleague meeting travels:

  1. After a certain point, you have to stop planning and trying to identify every little detail and JUST DO IT! There’s no way you can figure everything out upfront and too much planning can easily become a procrastination vehicle.
  2. One of the things that was stopping me before was trying to figure out how I was going to accomplish a full cross-country trip. What I realize now is that the best way I’m going to accomplish it is doing it in different legs, not all in one shot. For example, I’m thinking my next trip will be down the Pacific coast and/or I5 corridor through Oregon and California and than maybe over to Nevada with a turn-around for the return leg of the trip in Sedona, NM. I haven’t completely figured out how I’ll work any midwest and east coast and southern legs, but I’m thinking for those trips, it might make sense to fly somewhere once I’ve mapped out that particular travel route, and then rent or lease a vehicle there. Anything west of the midwest states, I can use my own car.
  3. I love to travel and I can and have continued running my business and taking care of clients on the road (even in a different country). However, I do work best from my main command center (my home office, lol) and the luxury of my big main computer. I do not prefer working on a laptop. I can and have, but it’s not how I do my best work. In recognizing this, I can plan accordingly. And all the more reason why I will benefit from doing these trips in mini-stages instead of one long stretch. That way, I can come back to home base, regroup and then go on the next leg of the journey at a time that’s optimal for me.
  4. I need to figure out how to monetize the venture so that besides the expenses being a business write-off, it also funds itself instead of just being an expense. That includes putting more focus and attention on sales from the ACA Success Store. I’m thinking that in addition to just meeting up with my industry mentors and colleagues, I could offer some paid in-person, day or half-day consulting and coaching spots for those who want to take advantage of the opportunity while I’m in their city or town.
  5. There are people who are super smart about getting sponsors and things like that for trips like this. I would love to learn more about that, but currently I’m not one of them and I’m okay with that about myself right now. And the thing is, I don’t really want to make a huge production out of things. Because once that becomes the case, for me, it takes the joy out of it and then I don’t want to do it. I can’t let not having sponsors to make these trips pay for themselves be the thing that stops me from doing it.
  6. I need to find the balance between being spontaneous (which is what “does it” for me) and not having everything turned into a big production, and planning and making announcements with enough advance notice that people CAN have enough time to plan on meeting up when I’m in their city. What I know about myself, bad or good, is that I am commitment phobic, lol. Not about taking care of clients or anything like that. I don’t know where it comes from (though it does seem to be something I developed when my first/late husband passed away nearly 20 years ago). I just know that the minute I have to RVSP to something is the second I absolutely, positively don’t want to go. I know, it’s crazy. But that’s just me. Therefore, I know I wouldn’t do well making a big deal out of planning a meet-up, securing a specific venue or conference room, yada, yada, yada. Yuck! I hate that stuff! I like to keep things casual, informal, personal. What I envision is letting my peeps know (on the blog, via the ACA mailing list, etc.) that I am close to their city and inviting them to contact me to meet up. Then when I hear from someone, asking them where a great spot would be to get together, a fun restaurant or pub or something, and once we decide that, inviting others in the area to join us. Casual, see?

I don’t have it all figured out. I don’t know how it will all work out. And I don’t have any specific time frames right now. But that’s where all the magic, fun and adventure of it is!

If I was to come to your area, would you like to meet up for a meal, do something fun together, or maybe be my tour guide for a day? What do you like to do for fun and/or what would you show me in your city? I’m game for just about anything. (Except skydiving. I have no desire to skydive and I’m okay with that, lol.)

Would you love an opportunity for private, one-on-one, in-person business consulting and guidance if I came to your city? I’m exceptionally gifted at identifying where people need help in their business, but tell me, what areas of your business would YOU like more help with?

Pinch Yourself Today, Right Now

Pinch Yourself Today, Right Now

I was chatting online with a long-time colleague yesterday, someone whom I greatly like and admire.

I asked how business was going for her since we hadn’t had a chance to catch up in awhile.

This colleague has always invested in herself and her business. She’s purchased my entire system of business success products and if I remember correctly, taken all my training classes as well, and she is doing all kinds of fantastic!

I didn’t want to say how proud I was of her (though I am) because that sounds so condescending. So I said I hoped she realized how stinkin’ proud of all that she’s accomplished she should be because SHE did this!

And I hope YOU are taking time regularly for “pinch myself” moments to honor and celebrate all that you’ve accomplished in your business journey as well.

I call them “pinch myself” moments because even having been in this business for nearly 20 years, I frequently marvel at just how fortunate I am to be living this lifestyle that my business affords me. And I “pinch” myself in gratitude that YES, this is REAL, this is my real life and I DID IT!

All anyone (myself included) can do is give you our best help, knowledge and guidance, but it’s YOU who makes it all happen in your own life and business.

So take a moment, right now, to celebrate all your accomplishments, every step you’ve conquered, every action you’ve taken, every fear you’ve faced, no matter how big or seemingly insignificant. Because they are all equally important in your journey.

Every time you learn a difficult lesson, every time you face down something you were scared of, that intimidated you or you felt daunted by, you make progress toward your goals for self determination and independence. And you grow not only in your business, but personally as well.

Saying Thank You

One of the things I love about etsy are the clever, inventive ways the vendors come up with in saying thank you. This is obviously something that is cultivated as part of the etsy culture. From beautiful uses of natural materials to creative packaging to (like today) an adorable little bundle of extra beads with “Thank you” attached.

Sure, some may think it’s “just” a thank you, but that stuff is not lost on clients and customers. It’s delightful and memorable and there is obvious effort and style involved, which is what makes it more meaningful.

This kind of effort can make even more of an impact on the clients of services (where our “product” is a service which is basically invisible). I am not a fan of automating “thank you’s.” I detest it, in fact. Because the message is, you are not worth me putting myself out enough to make an effort. And it’s the personal attention and effort that is the secret sauce and makes the meaning.

What clever, creative, inventive ways can you dream up and instititute as part of your brand culture to say “thank you” to your clients for their (continued) business?

How to Luv Up Your Clients this Valentine’s Day

How to Luv Up Your Clients this Valentine's Day

So often in business we focus on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas to give out extra helpings of gratitude to our clients. I happen to think Valentine’s Day is for sweethearts of all kind—including our clients. So let’s take a moment today to let them know just how much we appreciate them.

1. Say thank you. Take the opportunity today to tell your clients how much you love and appreciate them and what an honor and privilege it is to help them in their businesses. An email is fine, but a phone call or card is really the perfect touch.

2. Dole out the atta boys/girls freely. Everyone appreciates a pat on the back. Tell your clients what qualities you admire most about them and the work they are doing in their business and the world. Describe to them all the reasons why they are so wonderful to work with.

3. Give a little gift. I can’t think of a single person on earth who doesn’t delight in receiving an unexpected present. Whether it’s flowers, chocolates or a little trinket you know a client will like, you really can’t go wrong here. One caution: Save the business branded SWAG for business occasions. No one feels special about something you bought in bulk to promote your business. Make it personal. Make it something that shows you expended some time and effort choosing. Make it about them. THAT is what makes it special and meaningful.

4. Sing their praises. Be an advocate for your clients’ businesses. Love and appreciation are wonderful things, but practical referrals can mean new business and more money for your clients. Post a review. Rate their website. Send an email to your contacts introducing them to your client’s business. These are just some of small gestures that can have real, tangible impact for your clients.

5. Share your resources. What or who do you know that your clients might appreciate? Is there some free advice or consulting you can give them related to a goal or objective they are currently interested in? Give them the inside scoop as a little way of saying, “Thank you, you’ve helped my business by being my client and here’s a little something I’d like to give back to you.”

6. Reward your existing clients. Everyone is always giving discounts and freebies to prospects. But why? What did they do to earn anything? That’s just bribery. Instead, how about rewarding your ACTUAL clients… you know, the ones who actually work with you, pay you and stick by you. You wouldn’t have a business without them. You could threw in some extra work you don’t worry about billing for. Or get them to tell you what the one goal or nagging to-do item is that just keeps getting pushed to the back-burner. Then help them get ‘er done once and for all at no charge. Making their life easier is a wonderful–and memorable– way to show you care about them and their lives and making things better for them, not just getting paid.

7. Host a client social. Whether online or in-person, this is a fun way to get together with clients, introduce them to each other and express thanks to all of them for being clients. You could pick up the tab for dinner or lunch, and in the case of an online event, organize one or two fun games.

8. Brush up on your clients. When is the last time you updated your client info sheet? Spend some time brushing up on what you know about each client. Add those personal tidbits of info you have come to learn about each client personally. The more you get to know each client as a person, the deeper you can nurture the relationship. And don’t forget to share things about yourself as well.

9. Put your money where your mouth is. I don’t just work with my clients. I have frequently purchased their services and/or products for myself or to give as gifts to my other clients. Appreciating your clients like this is a great way to pay it forward.

10. Contribute to their conversations. Post comments on your clients’ blogs and social networking posts. Retweet their tweets. Friend them on Facebook. Give feedback they can use in their products and testimonials. Everyone appreciates these kinds of contributions that help spread their word and build their reputation. And contributing in this way helps them generate the discussions they are hoping to cultivate on these platforms.

What Makes You Happy for 2011?

So do you make resolutions this time of year?

I’ve never been one much for resolutions. But I do tend to feel a renewed sense of energy and excitement for all the wonderful and unknown things to come.

Rather than resolutions per se, I tend to do a quick mental check of a few goals I want to achieve and things I want to focus on.

Like this new year, I have some projects that will be finally completed and I plan on taking more time out for the activities that I had temporarily put on the back-burner. I hadn’t done nearly as much bike-riding this year as I normally do. This will be a year of taking more time out, getting back to focusing again on my own business around second or third quarter, and enjoying all the hard industry work I put in these past five years.

Oh, and VIDEO! Yes!

What about you? What kind of goals or resolutions or focuses do you have for the new year? What are you excited about for 2011?

Be Thankful

I came across this little ditty on one of those placemat flyers you find in various greasy spoons… you know, the kind that have funny quips and crosswords to amuse yourself with as you wait for your food.

I’m not usually a fan of platitudes as they tend to be too cheesy or nauseatingly saccharine. Uck.

But this one is very simple and plainspoken—just my style–so it naturally resonated with me.

Be Thankful

author unknown

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary,
because it means you’ve made a difference.

It’s easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those
who are also thankful for the setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.

A New Day

I had a chance to watch some of the inauguration clips and most especially Obama’s inauguration speech, and I just feel such a great swell of American pride that I’ve never felt before.

Oh, sure, I appreciate how lucky I am to have been born in America. It’s a gratitude I consciously think about and appreciate constantly. But I’ve never felt it in this way, a way that I can’t quite describe.

I’ve watched inaugurations and the changing of the guard before. Sometimes with great happiness. Other times with extreme disappointment.

I don’t know if it’s being in Europe. I don’t know if it’s because I’m older and maturing in my understanding and interest in politics or what.

But it just feels so different this time.

Maybe I’m simply getting caught up in the group think. But I don’t think so.

I think there is something truly different and special about Obama’s presidency, and I am so looking forward to watching things unfold, being part of those things.

I think we are in store for lots of good and goodness!

One thing I really loved about his speech was not just the inspiration of it. Hope and optimism are ingredients that we all need. But they aren’t the only nutrients we need.

Nothing is healthy without balance and wholeness, and that includes not only allowing hope and optimism to buoy us, butalso being open to taking a good hard look in the mirror and acknowledging not-so-pretty realities.

Inspiration can become like candy to children. And people can be easily fed and led into unconsciousness by the sugarcoating and BS of “inspirational” things; by telling folks what they want to hear instead of the truth; by only looking at the “pretty” things, the “positive” things and not the whole, real picture.

They abdicate then both their responsibility for the way things are and their freedom to change those things. They are lulled into complacency, a childishness where someone else makes the decisions, calls the shots and takes care of things.

So, what I also loved about his speech is that not only was it hopeful and inclusive of all races, all creeds, all religions (including non-believers, which in itself is remarkable)–and we need that after these past eight years–but it also reminds us of the opportunity to take back ownership of our country in its fullness, with all its warts AND all its goodness and promise, by asking each and every one of us to take responsibility.

It’s not someone else’s job, someone else’s responsibility.

It’s OURS. Each and every one of us.

That is a gift, my friends, one we should never take for granted.

Grateful Mondays: New Adventures

I have some news to share and it’s all happened so fast, I don’t even know where to start. You wouldn’t believe the turn of events in my life that have transpired over the last several weeks.

If you are a reader of my blog, you may remember my post not too long ago that talked about my guy’s retirement (yeah right… I was naive to think my workaholic would really retire for good). He’d been pretty burnt out with all the travel and hard work of his old job (ME, TOO!).

However, after only being “retired” a brief moment in time, he ended up taking on an engineering job with an international fishing corporation because the money was just too good to pass up and he only had to work three months on and then have three or more months off.

We went through a lot of fighting about that. He actually had been offered this opportunity about a year previously. I’d been saying “no” to the idea from day one. I wasn’t happy about it because I don’t care how good the money is, it’s just too much time apart.

But my guy is stubborn. He is money-making mo-chine and when he sets his mind to something, although my womanly wiles work on lot of things (okay, most things, LOL), there are just other things he absolutely digs his heels in about. So I had to relent and just let him have this experience and make the best of it. He ended up being gone April through mid July and it was really hard on me.

Well, he got home and he had absolutely hated that job–much to my happiness!!! We’ve been having such a blast travelling and doing fun things since he got back. I was really getting used to him being home all the time and not having to work.

Well, the company he used to work for is an international outfit and they contacted him to see if he’d be interested in a shop job for one or two years in Germany (he is from Germany). They work a regular work week, the money is amazing and there’s no travel involved (maybe once or twice during the entire year, if at all). So it’s a really cush job in terms of the work he does.

Long story short, we have bought a condo in Mannheim. My guy left today and I’m leaving December 5 to join him and stay through January (possibly February). However, I’m not a citizen so I can only stay for three months and then have to leave for a certain amount of time before I can return for another three months.

Anyway, it’s all been hustle and bustle over here these past few weeks getting the cabin prepared for winter. We’ll have a housesitter (a good friend who has lived here on the beach before) and, of couse, my daugher will be checking in on things and continuing to work for me while we live abroad.

I’m definitely going to be learning how to truly make the business portable. I’ve only done this in the states where it’s been nothing to login remotely onto my computer or our intranet and work on the road, so it’s going to be a learning experience to see how I can make this work away from the office internationally for long periods of time.

I’m looking forward to sharing my adventures and experiences (and pix) with you. I’m going to be putting my Vonage V-Phone to work (it plugs into any computer and allows you to talk anywhere within your service area for free as if you were still here in the US) and I’m thinking about getting an Earth Class Mail account, too.

If you have any tips and tricks for preparing and travelling internationally as well as practical ideas for running the business from a different time zone while all my work and clients are in the US, I’d love to hear from you. Just post your comments here as I’m sure the conversation will be helpful to anyone reading.

Grateful Mondays: Being a Non-Conformist

I had to run an errand last week that took me along Marine View Drive which runs alongside the water on the northeast side of the bay. It’s a lovely stretch of road that goes uphill with marinas dotting the waterline and cliffside homes overlooking breathtaking views.

In a few pockets of the drive, lately, have been springing up these homogenized McMansions… fantastically ugly nouveau rich-in-a-box designs exactly the same, three or more right next to each other in a row.

These are no inexpensive pieces of development either. Each one has an assessed value of at least a couple cool million.

It really made me think… has our society become so homogenized in its thinking and personality that even when we have that kind of money to spend, all we can come up with are these hideously uninspired commercial monstrosities devoid of all artisty, individuality and style?

So in a roundabout way, these thoughts made me realize how grateful I am to be a free-wheeling, independent-thinking non-conformist.