Facing Our Fears

Halloween has arrived! If you’ve been following me on the other family blog we’ve had a fun month of crafts, treats, sweets, costumes, pumpkins and lots of scary fun. With today being the celebration, if you will, of all things scary I thought we’d talk about fears.

In truth, fear is really natural. We’re supposed to be fearful of heights, snakes and people that can hurt us, it’s nature’s way of protecting us. There’s another kind of fear that we have, the kind we have because we’ve had our trust broken so many times that fear is ingrained in us almost from birth (even subconsciously babies fear being left alone so they cry). The happiest babies and kids are those who know, feel and experience that they are loved unconditionally and abundantly. But along the way we’ve had our hearts broken, we’ve learned that there are people in the world who don’t have our best interests at heart and are selfish. We’ve missed out on opportunities because politics or money have gotten in the way of the best choice, and not everyone thinks of what will be the best for the greatest number of people, or how to have win-win solutions.

One of the greatest challenges we will ever face in life is getting over our trust issues and fears. It’s a challenge because we have to learn and experience that the world isn’t all evil, even though there is plenty of evidence that proves there is a lot of evil, and that there is hope for a future that isn’t all about the bad, the evil and filled with fears. We need to learn that love is the solution and that there is love in the world to be found.

It’s interesting the progression we go from thinking of fears on Halloween, to being thankful on Thanksgiving, to experiencing the love and celebration of Christmas during these last 3 months every year in the USA. Fear is something that can stick with us for a long time, forever even if we never do anything to get over it, expose the truth of it or heal it. But we have the choice, and the power, to do something about it. We can choose to accept the love in our lives, accept ourselves and share love with the world.

You were born in the situation you were born in, you grew up with what you had. But as an adult you’ve got the whole world at your disposal to make and become whatever you want. Will you choose love or fear?

“Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here.” Marianne Williamson

In the Business of Fixing Fears

This Friday is Halloween in the USA, so today and Friday I’ll be talking about one topic quite a bit: fear. Being a business owner can be really scary. You aren’t guaranteed success or enough money each day, but then where is there really a guarantee of a job? Even in healthcare fields you can still lose your job with closures and downsizing, and have to look for a new one. Businesses today are facing some big opportunities between Ebola and various wars, if you could actually figure out some solutions for those most affected you’d easily make billions. And then we have the challenges that we usually face like trying to stand out against all the other businesses that are very similar to ours, and trying to share our message with the world when there are so many messages being shared already.

You could easily spend days at a time worrying about how you’re going to make ends meet, how you’re going to top this week’s success and how you’re going to convince your partner that this was the right choice for you. There are certainly plenty of things you can worry about or fear happening. A big one for me is the flooding and natural disasters that seem to have increased dramatically over the past few years. Flood zones and large trees are two things to be concerned about when picking a new home or business location.

It’s a scary world out there with all the people with crazy ideas about what is OK to do and say and how to behave when interacting with others. Just think about all of the hacked accounts that have been revealed this year from Home Depot and Target. Plus all of the regular computer viruses and not even beginning to mention the many different illnesses that have popped up around the world and are killing people.

You get the point, right? The world is a scary place. Now that I’ve really scared and worried you let’s get to today’s thought/inspiration: if you try to take on all of the bad stuff, all of the fears, all of the problems you’ll never make it. The person who finds a solution to Ebola is most likely not going to be the same person who stops this round of hacking. They’re two different problems, and both are really big and will require undivided attention for some time.

No, the answer is to make a difference when and how you can. Start small. Don’t be embarrassed by the fact that you’ve only helped one Mom find a cute outfit for her baby, one business be a success,  or one person get off the street and into a job and home, everyone has to start somewhere.

“If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.” Napoleon Hill

The Value of Goals

We’re almost at the end of another month and only 2 months away from the end of 2014.  How are you doing on your 2014 goals?  Are you going to reach them, surpass them, not accomplish them, or have they changed over the last 9-10 months of 2014?  For me the year has not been anything I could have expected, anticipated or planned for thus far.

For some people it’s a numbers goal, other people have relationship goals, some people have health goals and some people are a lot less focused and just have “do better” goals.  It’s not bad to have these types of goals, or to accomplish them.  Most of us need to have solid facts and accomplishments to work with, “do better” goals usually aren’t enough motivation for us to do the work necessary to accomplish them.

But the question that we always come back to when talking about setting goals or resolutions is about what we will get when we reach our goal or follow through on the resolution?   What are we really getting by doing what it takes to reach that target?  Are we adding another piece of paper to our wall of certificates, are we creating more work for ourselves, are we adding more money to an already plentiful supply, are we just chalking up another victory because we can?

Success is relative depending on who you are talking to; we each have our own definitions of it.   What I see as success, as an accomplished goal, may look like a mountain or a molehill to you depending on your view of success.  So instead of looking at success as a benchmark for goals, I believe we should be looking at a different measuring point: does this add value to me or the world?

If accomplishing your next goal will add value to your life, go for it.  If your next resolution will make the world a better place, go for it.  If it’s just you doing another something to do another something, and it won’t really add any value to you or anyone else, look for something better.

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” Albert Einstein

Satisfying Seafood

October is National Seafood Month, so I thought I’d share some recipes that you can try to spice up your date night, or try with your family!

Seafood dip

Hot shrimp dip

Red chile seafood soup

Shrimp bisque

Savannah seafood gumbo

Spicy shrimp and bok choy noodle bowl

Spaghetti with pinot grigio and seafood

Scampi on couscous

Seafood mac and cheese

Seafood risotto

Sicilian rice salad with seared tuna

Asian broth poached shrimp, scallops and soba noodles

Quinoa and curried shrimp

Crab ravioli with citrus shrimp

Bucatini with shrimp and spicy cherry tomato pan sauce

Sea bass alla fiorentina

Shrimp boil with clams and lemon

Grilled seafood salad

Spicy seafood potpie

Grilled fish tacos

Scallops with orange and honey

What are your favorite seafood recipes?

The Voice of Your Brand

I am tired.  I’ll just admit it for everyone.  It’s not a good thing going into this super busy season of the year.  I’m busier than I’ve ever been, happy to be helping more people but more people means more work, plus the needs of my partner, my family and my friends, means that there’s not a lot of time to just be or recharge each day.  You may be right there with me.  You may be tired from the stress of a new school year starting for your kids, or the stress of launching a new product or service in your business.  If you are it can greatly affect your ability to promote your business and create long-term relationships with clients.  When you’re tired you don’t present your business in the greatest light possible, or you may make mistakes that you wouldn’t usually make, and when you’re not on the top of your game neither will be your employees.  With this in mind there’s 3 things I want to touch on today to hopefully make the next 2 months better for all of us.

Marketing that attracts: last week I shared about some of the different types of marketing to help clear up some of the confusion.  This is an extension of that: your marketing either attracts your potential clients or repels them.  I visit dozens of websites on a daily basis, and at least 2 every day make me shudder.  It’s not about the type of business, it’s that they’re definitely not putting their best foot forward.  I may not need what you have to offer but if you’re really passionate about it (not in an overwhelming way but in a way that I can feel and catch your excitement), I may buy anyway.  You’ve attracted me through what you’re saying, your smile, your presentation and I can feel your love of the topic, and it makes me want to be part of that.

Be a champion for your brand: this is really the way that it’s supposed to be.  You’re supposed to be thrilled because you have the opportunity to do what you love most every day, it’s why you got into the business in the first place, right?  If you can’t say that you’re thrilled to sit in front of your computer or be at the business again today you’re not going to be a very good champion.  You’re not going to win people over or share the experience that made you want to do what you do, and your employees will be equally flat.  You want to be, and hire people who are, excited about what you offer and the difference you’re making in the world.

Take time to rest: I know, it’s not easy especially when there is so much to do.  but you can’ t be on top of your game if you’re not rested and have the energy to share passionately about your business.  You can’ t cheer on the field for every game if there isn’t a break in between games.  You can’t attract people if you show up looking like you haven’t showered in a week or just threw on whatever clothes you could find, or let your business be a mess.

So what about your business?  Does it attract people?  Are you excited about your business in such a way that people eagerly want to know more?  Do you take time to rest each day so that you are fresh to meet the opportunities and challenges that come your way?

The New in the Old

I believe that in each and every day there is a new lesson waiting to be learned.  Just a few clicks away, a short walk away, a conversation away is something that will blow your mind.  Maybe you’ve gotten too comfortable with the life you have, so let me be the first to tell you that the second you feel you know everything is the first in what will probably be a long line of mistakes and wasted efforts.  There is no way to know everything.   You may know a lot about a topic but you can’t know everything.  It’s simply not possible.

So, of course, you could take the time to pout about it and be frustrated that you can’t be a proverbial island, but I don’t see a point in bothering.  You don’t need to know everything.  As I said at the beginning an unbelievable assortment of options and ideas are just a few clicks away.  And if you took the time to talk to someone else who feels they know everything on a subject, you’ll probably be able to enlighten each other with a few insights.

I know quite a bit about a lot of things, but I will never tell you I know it all.  Even if I think I know it all from a factual basis, there are tons of other perspectives and opinions out there that, while they may not be completely factual, may shine some light on some facts in a way that I never considered before.

The question we each have to answer is are we able to keep our minds open to learning new things and experiencing the world in new ways?  Personally it excites me to know that I can visit another website, open another book, meet another person, drive a couple hours and be in a world unlike any I’ve experienced before.  A simple example is pizza.  Pizza in NYC is different from Chicago pizza which is different from Italian pizza.  Travel the world a dozen times over and you’ll still find new pizzas to try.

It’s not just about variety being the spice of life, but about the fact that victories usually aren’t made while sitting still.  You may cheer your team to World Series victory from your easy chair but there are men and women working very hard on and off the field to make that success happen.  What will you choose to explore today that has been part of your life for longer than you can remember?

“It’s unbelievable how much you don’t know about the game you’ve been playing all your life.”  Mickey Mantle

Trying New Things

I am not the type of person to go out there and try new things if I don’t think I’ll like them, or if I’ve had something similar and didn’t like that. But I usually will try it, especially if it comes in a small enough package or portion for me to try without buying a ton. I tried a new hummus this week and I was definitely not a fan. So I’ve portioned it out to add to soup that I make over the winter rather than eat it with carrots or celery. So as I was thinking about this and it being Columbus Day this past Monday, it got me thinking about what it means to try new things, and why it’s so challenging for us.

All parents have the challenge of getting their kids to eat something different, something other than what feels like the same 4 dishes and snacks, when you’d really like to cook or make something else, not just for your sake but because just eating the same 4 dishes can’t be balanced nutrition. I know that cooking things differently and seasoning them differently, not to mention correctly, can make a big difference to liking or disliking something. So don’t be afraid to try some different versions.

Unfortunately, we are all different with different palates and different preferences. What tastes good to you won’t taste good to someone else. If they try it and don’t like it you can’t blame them. But don’t let their fears of trying something new stop them from trying. All of the stories of Columbus tell us that he had a really hard time convincing people of his beliefs on the true nature of the world and that there was more land to be found. Columbus didn’t give up just because others had tried and failed, he kept trying.

So this weekend, don’t be afraid to try something new for dinner, go with your partner on a different date than you usually do, pick out different clothes the next time you go shopping, or try a different approach for handling things at work. As Columbus discovered trying new things can have great results.

Demystifying Marketing

Today I thought I’d take some time to talk about something that many business owners today are confused with: marketing, marketing conversion, engaged marketing and content marking. It’s not easy to be in business in this crowded marketplace we have today, but there are people who are doing it and doing it well. Sometimes it’s about finding your niche and having the right price, other times it’s about who you are, but it always comes down to connecting with or presenting people with your offer to make the sale.

So let’s start with some definitions:
marketing: spreading the word about your product
marketing conversion: the percent of people who hear about/see your product and choose to buy
engaged marketing: “a marketing strategy that directly engages consumers and invites and encourages consumers to participate in the evolution of a brand.”
content marketing: “a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

Let’s talk next about the concept with the biggest difference depending on what you do or believe: conversion. It starts with difference between regular marketing wherein you’re trying to reach as many people as possible to get them to hear about your brand, and engaged marketing where you’re starting off not only qualifying people as possibly interested in what you’re selling, but having them get to know you. Regular marketing means you’ll have a higher number of people reached, but very possibly a lower number of conversions. Engaged marketing means that you’ll get in touch with fewer people but usually with better results.

Where does content marketing fit in? It’s part of the engaged marketing process. It’s one of the simplest, least expensive and fastest ways to get the word out about who you are, what you offer and what difference you make in people’s lives and why they would want to be part of what you’re doing.

Let’s now address the biggest questions most people have when it comes to marketing/content marketing/engaged marketing: the cost. Yes, in some ways it’s cheaper and easier to just simply market your business. You’re just throwing out a bunch of leads and hoping they get picked up. It’s not something you’re personally invested in, you’re just a numbers guy, and you like big ones. Yes, there is a lot of work that goes into engaged and content marketing, but it often gives you the chance to prove that you’re different from every other Tom, Dick and Harry out there in the same type of business, and connect with your ideal customers on a personal level which will mean more sales, more recommendations and more satisfaction for everyone.

Personally I believe in engaged marketing. I believe that each business should let their personal light shine and be unique. You can’t please everyone, so why would you want to market to everyone? No, market to those who will care, who will get invested in you and what you offer and will make all your hard work worth it.

Making Lemonade

When life seems to send you more lemons than anything else you’ve got a couple of choices to make: you can choose to complain, you can choose to change, you can choose to let go, or you can choose to make lemonade. Each of these are important and have their place as part of the challenges in our lives.

I think it is a nod to our human nature that we’re upset when things aren’t going well. We like it when things work, when they’re successful and when they’re doing good in the world. We don’t like it when things go wrong or aren’t as successful as we hoped. It’s actually healthy to take time to mourn and accept the failure. If it wasn’t healthy we wouldn’t have tons of research done on the stages of grief, but we do.

But the upset and grief can only last for so long. At some point in time in the near future it has to change to action based on the challenge, which means you need to let it go, change things or just go with it and make the best of it even if it wasn’t your original plan, and sometimes you’ll have to do a combination or all of those.

But the key to dealing with the lemons of life is actually in the lemonade: it has to be made. Lemons don’t just turn themselves into lemonade, you have to give them a helping hand. Whether you were the cause of the lemons or just the unfortunate beneficiary, it’s up to you to deal with them. If you’re lucky, it’s actually a good thing you were given lemons, because you’ve been waiting for something to change or for a push to get you out of your current situation and on your way, and here it conveniently is. What will you do with the lemons life sends you?

“When you’re in a situation, you can complain about it, you can feel sorry for yourself, you can do a lot of things. But how are you gonna make the situation better?”  Tony Dungy

Plans with Popcorn

Today I’m sharing lots of popcorn recipes to get you ready for the World Series, scary Halloween movies, or just a yummy afternoon snack.

Chili Lime

Cheesy garlic

Mexican chocolate


Chocolate almond

Sweet and spicy crunch

Macadamia butter crunch

Kettle corn

Sweet and nutty

Sesame ginger

Aztec chocolate and caramel

Cranberry orange caramel

Herbs de Provence and asiago cheese

Carmel apple monster munch

Slacker jacks

Grandma Paul’s caramel corn

Theater style butter

More Treat Ideas

Chewy caramel popcorn and pretzel bars

Golden popcorn squares

Toffee almond popcorn balls

Gooey Halloween popcorn balls

Candy corn popcorn balls

What toppings have you tried and enjoyed with popcorn?