From Failure to Success

When you talk about success there are several ways you can go about it and many definitions of success. There are big successes and there are small successes. Someone that many people have followed over the years in terms of a success journey is Martha Stewart. Starting really with cookbooks in 1982 ever since then Martha has been building an empire that now includes TV shows, websites, cookbooks, magazines, and food and home products.

But if you’ve followed her story you know that she spent several months in jail in 2004-2005 followed by several years of probation for being convicted of conspiracy and other non-violent offenses. This is a huge blow to anyone who is trying to build a company, and a reminder that anyone can be so caught up in their success that they can make bad decisions. And she paid the price for her bad decisions.

Like anyone else Martha Stewart then had to make a decision about what would happen next. She probably could have retired from public life and quietly run one or more smaller private companies and done OK. But instead she chose to stand tall and let her talent and passion shine. I see her on many channels around the TV listings these days, from cooking shows to shopping shows to news shows, around the internet and making all kinds of partnerships with businesses and celebrities. From all appearances she’s happy and doing well, and just as passionate and dedicated as she has always been.

Most of us will make a couple of mistakes or have some failures in our success journey, few of us are able to do it without screwing up. Often success is a question of how we recover after our failures, not just how well we do the success journey. If you’re struggling with your success journey today know that you can push through or turn things around, it’s a question of how passionate and dedicated you are to making it happen.

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A Community for Veterans

November 11 is Veteran’s Day here in the US, a day when we honor and remember the men and women who protect our country. Sometimes that means going to fight in a war, sometimes that means dragging a boat through flood waters to rescue people, sometimes that means helping a nation rebuild, sometimes that means protecting dignitaries, sometimes it means sitting behind a computer, sometimes that means speaking to high school and college students.

But being in the military is a high risk career, one that carries physical and mental risks for the soldiers as well as relational ones. Whether you know any veterans or not, you hear stories and see commercials on TV about how people lost limbs and marriages due to their military career. They don’t really tell you what it’s like to have a TBI or try to return to civilian life after you’re done when you sign up.

But a veteran is a lot more than just someone who goes out for the country and does stuff. They’re people who are part of a family, they’re people who live in our communities, and they and their families need our support. Veteran’s Day is an opportunity for us as a community to stand up and do more than just thank them for their service, although that’s a good start. It’s an opportunity for us to help them build businesses, help raise service dogs for them, donate to organizations that help them navigate returning to civilian life, help build adaptive houses for them, and give them flexible but reliable job opportunities.

So today I encourage you to not only thank a veteran and their family, but also step up for them in some way in your community or in the veteran community as a whole.

The Business of Holidays

I love holidays, from the wandering through stores to see their decorations, to perusing holiday catalogs to holiday movies to holiday commercials to the food to holiday shopping for loved ones.  We’re just about 2 weeks away from Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and closing in on the holiday shopping season and special deals.  This year something different happened, instead of getting the Black Friday ads a couple of days before Black Friday, they started sending them out this week!  I was a little surprised but I think it makes good sense knowing how people like to shop around during this time.  So today I thought I’d share a few ideas for how you can tap into the holidays successfully for your business.

First, sneak peeks and early bird specials are a great way to get shoppers in the door early, and hopefully make it more of an even stream of customers rather than a crush.

Second, take advantage of all the holidays. Have special offers for Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Hanukkah, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and even the first day of winter.  Whether you’re an online only, a mixed online and local, or only local business you can tap into all of these holidays and events.

Third, don’t forget to give back.  Recognize a charity that is in line with your business, or you’ve spoken about before, or is well-known in your community (and your customers will know) and donate some of the proceeds of November 27 to them, or at the very least encourage your customers to donate or shop with them.

Fourth, it’s hard to like a last minute (panicked) shopper, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t take advantage of all the spending that happens and the gifts that are given in the season and offer special last minute offers, gift baskets/boxes, or packages.

Fifth, make sure you reward your most loyal customers from throughout the year.  Yes, the holidays are a time when many people spend, but some of your customers have been buying from you all year long.  Reward them for their patronage with some extra holiday cheer.

Finally, make sure to celebrate the holidays and let your customers know that you know there’s more to the season than just spending and gifting.  Share some behind-the-scenes looks and holiday stories from your employees and don’t forget that the holidays are about coming together and celebrating.

What are your holiday plans for your business?

Knowledge is Power

We’re proud people. It’s absolutely OK to be proud that you know something or how much you’ve learned or the degree you’ve gotten. It’s not a bad thing to recognize and celebrate your accomplishments. In fact most people focus too often on what’s not right or what has failed and don’t spend any time celebrating what goes right or what they accomplish.

What’s not OK is if that’s all you do or if you let that be a limit for you. The moment you say “I know that” and assume there’s no more to learn or nothing your current knowledge, you’re setting yourself up to fail, because there are very few things that have an end to knowledge, and most people have only tapped into a tiny fraction of the knowledge of the world by the time they die.

The saying “knowledge is power” is right, the more you know the more you’re capable of doing or becoming. When you take the time to learn something new you’re opening the door to a whole new world, a world of possibilities and potential that you can’t imagine now because you haven’t opened the door yet. But trust me, it’s greater than where you are and what you’ve accomplished thus far, even if that’s pretty amazing. You have all the power in the world at your fingertips thanks to the internet, it’s just a matter of tapping into that power.

So go ahead, say “I know that” this week and celebrate what you do know. But once you’ve celebrated what you do know take time to learn something new about what you already know so that you don’t get stuck or stagnant. Go ahead, live and learn a little this week!

Celebrating the Tastes of Autumn

One of the things I love most about the change of seasons are the different foods that come into season.  Yes, we’re lucky enough in our world that we can have an ingredient at any point in time, not just when it’s technically in season, but most fruits and vegetables are better when they’re officially in season.  So today I thought I’d share a list of in season vegetables and some recipes that are kid (and picky adult) friendly.

Beets:

Beet and carrot latkes

Beet and chocolate muffins

Beet hummus

Beet, banana and raspberry smoothie

Beet chips

Crunchy beet and carrot slaw

Brussels Sprouts:

Lemon honey shredded Brussels sprouts

Caramelized Brussels sprouts with maple orange glaze

Brussels sprouts with bacon and raisins

Crispy Brussels sprouts chips

Squash:

Butternut squash mac and cheese

Butternut squash bread

Butternut squash fries

Bacon and Parmesan fritters with spaghetti squash 

Spaghetti squash fritters

Sweet Potato:

Sweet potato, black bean and kale enchiladas

Sweet potato cottage pie

Sweet potato tots

Sweet potato corn cakes

Bacon and sweet potato slice

Cauliflower:

Twice baked cauliflower

Creamy cauliflower capellini

Broccoli and cauliflower bites

Cauliflower pizza crust

Cauliflower buffalo wings

Parsnip:

Parsnip muffins

Parsnip fries

Sweet potato and parsnip mash

Parsnip chips

What are your favorite recipes to make with fall vegetables?

Organizing Your Business

Today I’m thinking about a really important topic for your business, something that often stands in the way of businesses being successful: getting organized. As I was thinking about things that are happening this month, Veteran’s Day (11th), Clean out your refrigerator day (15th), and Small Business Saturday (24th), I was reminded again and again the power and support that being organized can give to your business.

Being organized is about scheduling. One thing that veterans and active military personnel can tell you is that there’s something to be said for the structure and scheduling. Taking the time to write down the steps to doing anything that can be done by any employee or team member, scheduling (and keeping) regular meetings with employees or teams, scheduling in times to deal with emergencies and surprises that come up, really investing serious time in training employees consistently (both when they’re hired and throughout their employment), keeping track of and planning out all the marketing you’re doing, and planning out the products/services/programs you’re offering for the year ahead can ease a lot of the frustration, panic, annoyance and extra expenses that crop up for those who don’t plan ahead.

Second, being organized is about knowing when to get rid of stuff or release stuff to be more productive. For some business owners this is difficult because they’re, to put it bluntly, a control freak, and they have to have their hands in everything and nothing can be completed without their say-so. Business owners should be involved in their businesses, but there comes a time when the business owner can’t manage everything and certain, specified and discussed, things should be released to employees or team members, which allows the owner to focus on things only they can truly do.

Finally, being organized means you’re able to succeed whether you’re small or large. Being a small business you’ve got a lot more flexibility and ability to pivot than the big businesses do, but one of the biggest struggles to being a small business is that you’re small and fewer people are managing more. So having your ducks in a row, having a filing system that everyone can use and understand, scheduling your bills and invoicing, having a small but mighty team you can rely on, collaborating with other businesses, and planning ahead can all make a difference to your success or failure.

So what about your business? What most challenges you most about organizing your business?

The Drive of Success

This month one of the big stories in the US has been about the lottery. Two jackpots were extremely large numbers, in the hundreds of millions and above, and it took a good couple of draws before anyone won the big pots. Friends and I have talked about how unbelievable it was that no one won until someone did, and that the pots could get as large as they did. Someone said that maybe it got that large because it is as random a draw as they say it is.

So each time that no one won people bought another ticket, and with the pots as large as they were people who don’t usually play were buying tickets too. I know that the likelihood of winning is extremely low (almost impossible), but the fact is someone has to win at some point in time, and people eventually did. Although it’s not the best thing to do with your money I thought there were some interesting lessons that could be learned and applied to our success from the lottery craze these past few weeks.

These two most recent pots both showed the importance and value of perseverance. Lottery in general means you buy a ticket for the upcoming draw and that ticket is only good for that specific draw, not all future ones or any in the past. Also true is the fact that if you don’t buy a ticket you can’t win. If you want to win sometimes the only way to do so is to try, and keep trying.

The other thing these large pots speak to is hope.  People don’t work for success unless they’ve got something they’re looking forward to as a result of that success.  Maybe it’s more time with family, a better life, or making a difference, but people don’t apply themselves to something that they don’t have even a sliver of a belief that it could come true.

You may not have won the lottery this past month, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have success in your life.  Success is something that almost anyone can achieve, especially those who believe in themselves, put their minds to it, and make the effort.  What is driving your success?

Halloween Lessons

Halloween is Wednesday so today I thought I’d share a few thoughts on lessons you can share with your kids for Halloween, and you might find they apply to you too.

Tricks: sometimes life sends you tricks. Yes, sometimes you can choose if you want the trick or the treat, but often you don’t get a choice, life chooses for you.  It’s really a question of how well you’re going to deal with the trick you’ve received, the attitude you’ll work through it with and what you’ll do after you’ve survived.

And Treats: Halloween is a bit of a catch for those who watch their sugar, because it’s really a celebration of treats and sweets. It’s a reminder that sometimes life is short and treats should be eaten and enjoyed, especially in moderation.

Costumes: the other big thing about Halloween is everyone dresses up. Yes, sometimes its good to try new things and see if they could be the right direction for us, after all, if we don’t try new things we can’t know if they would be right for us. Sometimes it’s just fun to be someone else for a little while, even though we’re satisfied with our lives.

Community: the whole concept is based around going from house to house around your neighborhood, and expecting those homes to open up and share candy or other treats. It’s not something we do with any other holiday, only Halloween.

What has Halloween taught you?

The Business of Halloween

Halloween is on Wednesday, it’s the day that kids dress up in fun costumes and visit around their neighborhoods to gather candy and other treats.  Celebrating or recognizing Halloween in your business can be a way to welcome or begin the 2018 holiday season and get things started with a bang, or it can just be a way to have some fun and more personally connect with your customers.  So today I’ve got a couple of ideas for how you can incorporate Halloween into your business.

Your marketing: One fun thing you could do would be a play on the “trick-or-treat” fun and offer a trick or a treat in your newsletter.  You can also ask customers to share or submit their Halloween photos and do a photo contest of pumpkin carving, costumes, lights or other topics on a specific theme that relates to your business.

Limited time offerings: Holidays typically are associated with special treats and Halloween is associated with candy and other sweet treats and pumpkin too, so businesses in the food industry can incorporate popular candies or pumpkin into their offerings for the weeks/days surrounding Halloween.  Clothing businesses can incorporate costumes into their lineup for the season and also offer ideas for how customers can incorporate their clothing into costumes or Halloween party attire.  Travel agencies can share a list of haunted locations and/or Halloween activities near their customers and/or sell tickets/arrange trips incorporating those locations and activities. And of course home decor businesses can include some traditional pumpkins as well as some more magical or mystical decorations and decoration ideas to help their customers have the spookiest house in the neighborhood.

Of course, don’t forget that if you’ve got a local store you can encourage customers to come in if you’re offering a special treat on Halloween (i.e. candy) or special coupon for a future date if they shop with you on Halloween.  Will you be sharing the Halloween spirit in your business, and if so, how?

Grand Slam Success Secrets

Today begins one of the biggest events in baseball each year, the World Series.  It’s an event that’s happened since 1903 and this year it’s between the Dodgers and the Red Sox.  Baseball has fascinated and attracted sports fans and even those who aren’t sports fans for over a century, from little leagues to the World Series and several rivalries that raise lots of attention and conversation.  Today I thought we’d talk a little about some of the success insights we can learn from this big event.

It’s a competition of up to 7 games, or whomever gets 4 wins first.  I like that there’s not a one-and-done requirement, that one game decides the ultimate winner of the 162 games teams play each year.  Some years the team that wins sweeps the series, other times they play all 7 games and it’s neck-and-neck the whole time.  Life is like this; it’s rare that we’re only allowed or given one try to get it right.  So if you’re dealing with a failure don’t give up yet, move on to the next chance.

There’s a chance that any one of the 15 National League and any one of the 15 American League teams might end up there.  There’s no rule that a team has to be there, or any rule that says a team can’t be there again.  It’s totally up to each team to have the best players and play their best if they want to get into the World Series.  It’s also up to each of us to determine our future and do what we need to do to be successful.

Teams play the games but they’re made of individual players who each bring their skills and talents to the field.  There’s always a MVP and there are always standout players on a team, but each team is exactly that: a team.  There can’t be just one or two players on a team, it wouldn’t be physically possible for them to do all of the work themselves.  So the next time you find yourself trying to do everything, don’t be ashamed to reach out and ask for help.

More than just the team though, baseball is made up of hundreds of thousands of fans who cheer the teams on.  Baseball wouldn’t be what it was without all the fans who watch/attend the games, buy the gear and talk with their friends, family and even strangers about the games.  We celebrate our team’s wins and encourage them and cheer them on even when they lose.  Everyone needs a cheering section, to celebrate their wins and encourage them through their struggles.

So what about you? What have you learned from baseball?