Brand Your Uniqueness

In addition to networking events, I try to attend conferences that either inspire, empower or educate me. My intention is to continue to push forward by surrounding myself with those who have much more experience and exposure as business owners. Earlier this week, I attended the 15th Annual Moving Your Business Forward conference hosted by the Atlanta Tribune. The event started with a panelist of representatives from several big named corporations including Home Depot, AT & T, Grady Hospital, GoDaddy and of course Atlanta Tribune. The panelist provided insight about how small business owners can present themselves to big corporations and the importance of preparation for the opportunity. The topics ranged from professionalism to scalability of your business model.

Afterwards, there were breakout sessions that focused on new technology, live business pitch, and branding in the current social media climate. Shawn Pfunder, Senior Communications Director for GoDaddy was the highlight of the event. Shawn also interviews small business owners for Steve Harvey’s Funderdome show on ABC.

Shawn’s been working with freelancers, entrepreneurs, and business owners for more than 20 years. He’s consulted companies large and small on communication, social media, and marketing strategies. At heart he’s a small-business superfan. He believes that working for yourself is one of the most courageous and creative moves anyone can make.

Three small business owners were selected to share their pitch with the audience who would vote for a winner.  After each pitch, Shawn Pfunder asked a series of questions about each company to gauge their marketing strategy to create and expand their online presence. The winner Yvette Pegues owner of Your Invisible DisAbility Group captured the audience with her passion for her business.  In addition to sharing her business model and strategy, she shared her real life experience about what it was like to live with a disability.  Although she is paralyzed she discussed her refusal to allow her disability to take over her life.  Yvette has a very active life that includes skydiving.  Her words were inspirational and spoke to the courage that all business owners need to find their passion and follow their purpose.

The last segment was a presentation by Shawn Pfunder as he shared the importance of finding your identity as a person and incorporating your uniqueness into your brand. He provided multiple examples of how creating your authentic story and allowing yourself to be less than perfect is what makes your brand unique and relatable.  He discussed how social media is key to your future growth potential and provided tips on how you can share your uniqueness over social media.

The more human you are, the more likely you are to standout. – Shawn Pfunder

I walked away with a lot to think about.  I immediately sat down to think more about my personal and business identity and how I could marry the two. I created a list of the top ten things that identify or define who I am. Then I did the same with my business.  I almost instantly saw the advantage of this exercise. I could see where I am not connecting my uniqueness with the service I provide.  I instantly started thinking of ways to rectify this. This event was very eye-opening and I definitely walked away with more than I expected. If you are trying to create your brand start by making a list of the top ten things that define you and your company.  I’d love to hear your feedback below.

Peace and Blessings

 

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Happy Endings and New Beginnings

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The first cycle of my journey into entrepreneurship has come to an end.  Spiritual nudging’s have been evident all around me. I have been seeing all the usual bread crumbs my guides have placed before me including repeating 111’s.

111’s encourages you to assist and inspire humanity via your natural abilities, relying upon your inner wisdom and intuition to guide you

Some endings I was aware of and others I was too scared to ask. Knowing requires action and I was avoiding the next steps on purpose. I knew my accounting contract with my previous employer would end by September however it ended a month early.  I also knew one of my private yoga clients would be going back to school by September.  That contract ended two weeks earlier than planned. The ending of one of my corporate yoga contracts was completely unanticipated. The prior year’s contract with this client ended in November, however, two weeks ago I received notice that August would close out the 2017 contract. The door for future partnerships and opportunities was left open which made me feel good about my relationship with this company. The reality remained, this first cycle was ending and how I navigated this transition would be pivotal.

The accountant in me came out and I immediately pulled out my spreadsheet.  I had to make sure I could continue to live on my terms for just a little bit longer. I immediately got scared.  I’m not going to lie because that last one threw me off. Then my conscious-yoga side kicked in and I started to focus on my breathing. There is an always an energy tied directly to our thoughts especially about finances. I am a proponent of prosperity thinking which leaves no room for impoverish thoughts.  What I think and speak becomes my reality.

Scared money don’t make no money

My interpretation of this phrase means if I’m scared to lose financially then, financial gain is highly unlikely. Take a moment to think about the posture and the self-talk that comes with the fear of poverty.  There is a tightness that forms around the shoulders. There is also a very specific dialogue about our deservability and decision-making skills that surfaces.  Prosperity is our birthright, fear only succeeds in pushing humankind further from this truth. Even if prosperity has not appeared in your life yet, we have the power to create the possibilities with positive thinking.  We have the power to establish a belief system that lines up with the energy of abundance and prosperity.

I recently published 60 Affirmations & Reflections for Entrepreneurs. My intention was to provide a roadmap for other entrepreneurs to change their thinking. As I was explaining the premise to another entrepreneur she responded, “affirmations don’t work unless you believe them, if you don’t believe them then it just creates a struggle”. I was initially offended but I am in partial agreement with her.  Positive words mean nothing if you do not believe the words but your belief must start somewhere.  It takes practice, it is not an overnight process.  I have been actively using affirmations and positive thinking since 2010.  I started with the phrase “I love myself” to be honest I probably didn’t start off believing it because no one ever told me it was possible to love myself.  Over time and with consistency I started to see the changes in how I treated myself.  Positive thinking has become a lifestyle.  It’s impossible to think positive all the time but when I drift out into negativity, there is something that eventually pulls me back. It takes practice. I listen to affirmations every morning. I repeat them throughout the day. My affirmations and positive thoughts are constantly evolving. When a cloud of negative patterns descends on me, some days I choose to stay there for a day or two.  However, I’ve planted so many seeds with the people around me refuse to let me stay there.  I start to hear my quotes spill from their tongue. I immediately self-correct and move to a state of thankfulness. In my experience, when I become thankful I automatically shift away from fear.

Once in a grateful state, I was able to look at my life and finances with clarity. I reflected on my three-month plan and adjusted as needed.  Based on the new information I am still on track with my plan.  Shifting to positive thinking moves me from stagnation to creativity. I can focus on pushing my business forward and enjoying the journey.

When the life you know is dismantled, don’t mourn instead prepare for your resurrection

Peace and Blessings

Affirmations & Reflections

 

 

I’ve been staring at the proof of my first book for about a week. Today I decided to check Amazon to see if my book was even listed yet.  Much to my surprise, it was and I felt an overwhelming desire to share it with the world.  As I’ve mentioned previously I’ve attempted to write a book more than once. About three years ago I wrote a book of poetry that I never published. Every so often I come across the document and vow to self-publish it but I never did. In the past, somehow I couldn’t wrap my mind around the self-publishing steps. I read books and articles but couldn’t get beyond the first step.  This time was different. The time was different because I am different.

Now more than ever I feel I have nothing to lose by doing what I want. I don’t answer to anyone.  I don’t have to explain my intentions or wait for approval. I’m operating from a different place that is both familiar and unfamiliar.  I’d wouldn’t describe it as 100% fearlessness but I’m probably operating at 80% fearlessness.  There are moments I still get nervous about what the future holds. Other days I know with clarity that success arrived the moment I took the first step. Holding this book in hand is proof that the life I used to know is no more. A thought I had years ago now lives physically in my hand. There is no going back.

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I’ve used affirmations for years, however, I knew moving in a new direction required more than just knowing the definition of an affirmation. It became necessary to go beyond repeating a one line phrase.  Affirmations reminded me that I was making the right decision and moving in the right direction. I started to incorporate them in my life like never before. It was my way of talking through my own fears. It was written for me to move forward scared or not. I stood somewhere between proud of myself and scared shitless. I found comfort in my affirmations.

After I left my corporate job, it came to me that I needed to share my affirmations with other entrepreneurs. Seemed simple enough but it took about four months think though the concept and put it on paper.  I wanted to go beyond just a one line affirmation. I wanted to share a series of positive statements that could be read, contemplated, visualized and spoken into existence. I divided the affirmations into categories that I thought were most important for entrepreneurs on their journey.  The affirmations speak of love, courage, vision, success, abundance, and entrepreneurship.  This book begins with love because you have to know regardless as to what happens next you are loved. I spent years working on self-love and that love has been reflected in the family and friends who continue to step forward to support me.  Glancing down at the cover, an overwhelming sense of peace finds me. Today I present to the world the gift that continues to push me along as I create my imprint on the world. Affirmations and reflections continue to work in my life and I hope they work in yours as well.

Click the link to get your copy of 60 Affirmations & Reflections for Entrepreneurs.

Peace and Blessings

 

Gratitude and Acknowledgement

I recently personally thanked a friend for attending one of my classes. He curiously asked if I hadn’t expected him to come. I explained my view on expectations, basically, I had none. It is my belief that all who should be there will be there.  This allows me not to focus on attendance but beyond that, it keeps me in a constant state of gratitude. It’s an authentic gratitude because I know at that moment a person has many options on how to spend their time. It is not my right to obligate anyone or to tie my success into someone else’s actions. When a student appears I see it as alignment. My choice to lead combined with their choice to attend is alignment, not a coincidence. Whenever I get to share a part of me with someone else, I am thankful.

Not everyone operates under this belief system. We often assume family and friends know we appreciate them. It takes two seconds to acknowledge someone’s effort and help free them from guilt, sorrow or feeling they’ve disappointed you because of expectations. Not everyone in your life is meant to serve in the capacity in which you want them to. They may want another role or serve a completely different purpose. Letting go of expectations and allowing others to show up how they choose reduces internal and external conflicts.

When you operate from a space of no expectations, you allow the universe to send who is supposed to be there. After class, I could call everyone to find out why they didn’t make it to class. I could get so caught up in the drama of expectations that I miss the opportunity to see the people who have a genuine interest in what I do. Expectations become a distraction and could cause me to miss out on the person who wants to explain the impact my class has had on them. I do not focus my attention on what’s not in my control instead I focus on what is presented to me in that moment. The moment someone appears I instantly become thankful.  I feel gratitude for being allowed to guide them. I openly show my appreciation but I also silently send blessings as well. Whether we accept it or not we are being guided. Therefore I purposely thank people for their time and acknowledge the light that guided them into my personal universe. The people that choose to come to my mindfulness classes are making an investment in themselves. The alignment is bigger than me and I am honored to be their leader. My gratitude is sincerely to encourage them to keep following their light even if that light does not lead them back to me.

Peace and Blessings

 

Networking For The Attuned: Reloaded

 

I recently took a four-week break from networking to evaluate my experiences and to come up with a new strategy. Being new to the game and trying to get my feet off the ground, meant I spent the first 90 days going to any and every event. In retrospect, this was not the most effective approach because I found myself burned out and reluctant to continue in that way. Although I was meeting great people, those individuals weren’t always open to the services I provide.  I quickly discovered that networking without a defined strategy is draining.

After a few weeks of rest and relaxation, I was able to redefine my networking target and niche. My intention is to focus on partnering with companies that are interested in providing mindfulness in the workplace options for their employees.  I decided to take it a level further by creating a list of three specific professions to focus my efforts on including human resource, accounting, and health care professionals.

Human Resource professionals from a health and wellness standpoint are the gate keepers to benefits programs offered to employees. Beyond that every year human resource departments gear up for annual enrollment. Annual enrollment is when employees are added to the insurance plan for the upcoming year, the process usually starts in the fall and ends after the new year.  This timeframe is very intense for benefits department which means a mindfulness practice can decrease burnout and improve overall mood.

Accountants on the other hand gear up for year end followed by audit and tax season. For accountants, December through April tends to be a highly stressful time of the year t since all three activities tend to overlap and have competing deadlines. This is also the time when most accountants work late nights and weekends, a mindfulness practice can increase clarity, concentration, and alleviate tension.

Last but not least I want to focus on health care professionals who are constantly on the front line helping to ensure the well being of others.   Health care professionals are tasked with making difficult decisions quickly. A mindfulness practice would be a great way to manage everyday challenges, increase resilience and improve coping skills associated with the health profession.

By deciding to use my knowledge of corporate departments and also tapping into the expertise of close friends who work in these environments I was able to create a better strategy. If you are currently seeking a networking strategy here are ten steps to consider in your plan.

  • Evaluate your target market and niche
  • Choose 3-5 areas to focus on
  • Define what successful networking means for you
  • Create a metrics to measure your progress
  • Every quarter evaluate your strategy and adjust it as needed
  • Get involved in the community by joining causes and associations you believe in
  • Volunteer at events that tie into your interest and business
  • Attend a lot of events to increase your confidence, practice your approach and study the crowd
  • Have fun and be fun to be around
  • Drop expectations and trust the process

These steps should get you off to a great start.  As you find your footing, more opportunities that are in alignment with your higher goals will appear. Stay positive and stay the course.

Peace and Blessings

Boundaries

Boundaries

I recently had a situation that brought into my awareness the concept of boundaries. Boundaries in the sense of who you allow into your personal space and your life. In some aspects, boundaries are a necessary part of life that distinguish between where we began and end.  When we create mental, emotional and physical boundaries it also establishes what type of energy we will allow in and around us. The flip side of boundaries is if left unchecked we can start to create boundaries that imprison us mentally, emotionally and physically.  We began to develop a general mistrust of all things and all people.  There may even be a tendency to assume everyone you meet has the intent to harm you in some way.

This area of boundaries is one very familiar to me.  I did not have the traditional upbringing. My environment and how I was raised bred me to believe that everyone had a motive so it was my responsibility to look for the motive.  Trust wasn’t awarded, at first sight, it had to be built and mutually fed. As I get stronger in my spiritual walk I have learned to move away from general mistrust to a curious discernment. Curious discernment means I am able to perceive if in that instance a boundary is needed. Almost like looking at something through a window glass with my head cocked to the side with my eyes partially squinting. I’ve learned not to look at life with my eyes but rather to hear it, sense it, smell it and feel it.  I learned what I see in front of me with my two physical eyes is not always the truth or the authentic version. So I squint them to increase mental focus. I hear the sprinkles of one’s inner workings as I tune out their actual voice. I am searching for the truth in what’s in front of me.

What I’ve learned that most boundaries we create are a false sense of security. A faulty door that just has to be walked around. There comes a time when we have to take an honest look at these false borders that keep us from being fully present and engaged. It’s time to extinguish the borders that keep us from believing that a truly magical being stands before you with no expectations and no hidden agenda. A being that has learned to discern her way through the life she is creating and truly believes there is no such thing as coincidence. The only thing that is real is our understanding of the experience that stands before us.

I am not in the business of breaking down other people’s barriers but hope only to demonstrate that there is a freer way to live and love. Willpower and choice push you to get up despite betrayal, hurt, pain and ill intentions that may occasionally skate pass your door.  This also means that we have a choice in the boundaries we perpetuate in our life. Boundaries are healthy and serve a purpose but stay open to surrendering them for a moment to trust what stands before you. Be willing to close your physical eyes and open the one in your brow center.  For most of us boundaries were learned or created as a result of what was seen as a bad experience. Take a moment to review your boundaries and determine if they have to be one size fit all or if they can be softened when faced with new experiences. Be open to shifting and creating new ones.

Peace and Blessings

90 Days In

I am officially 90 days into full-time entrepreneurship. Like all areas of my life I spend so much time being obsessed with the activity that I lose sight of the reflection. When an impending burn out pops on my radar, I halt all activities to regroup. So for the last three weeks, I settled into my quiet routine to rediscover my center. I’ve spent the last few weeks being out in nature, reading and reflecting.  It seems like so much has changed in the last 90 days, my experience has been good so far and here are some of my accomplishments.

Wins

  • Lots of feedback from class participants. I love when I hear about how something I taught in class my students are able to use in their real life.  My students report back how they felt prompted to slow down and breathe.  Some of them will also share that they “heard my voice in their head” telling them to breathe. I love feedback because it lets me know that I am making an impact and heading in the right direction.
  • Overwhelming request for me to continue. I teach several corporate classes.  Usually, the initial contract is only for a six to eight week trial period. This gives time for both client and myself to determine if there is the partnership is a good fit.  What I offer is not a fit for every company, my higher focus is on if the energy is a good match and if the students are engaged and receptive. Across the board at the end of each trial period, I have received an overwhelming request to continue. One Human Resources Manager said, “I don’t know what you are doing in those classes but please continue to do it”.  She had apparently received an outpouring of calls and emails at the end of the trial period and was in a rush to get me back in the office to continue.
  • For the first half of 2017, I have touched at least 150 souls. Over the course of my corporate, private and group classes, 150 individuals have signed up and attended at least one of my classes. 2016 was only about a third of this amount. Of course, I’m more out in the open now and actively networking to bring more awareness to what I do. It’s just amazing how quickly life has changed in the last 90 days.
  • New ways to incorporate and expose students to mindful moments. Some of my students have been with me for at least a year.  It is my intention that as I evolve as a teacher so does my teaching style. My focus is slowly transitioning from just teaching one how to breathe to a more holistic approach to living a mindful life. Mindfulness is about awareness.  Awareness allows you to live in the moment.  When you are living in the moment you are more likely to react with clarity or change how you react to others. Now more than ever we need more compassion for ourselves and others and mindfulness can lead the way.  I want my students to live a more mindful life and to be able to share our experience with others.
  • New possibilities have opened up. The first half of the year has been good to me and it has also put me in unfamiliar territory.  As I attend more events I have become more accustomed to sharing what I do with others.  In addition to finding my voice as a wellness advocate, I have developed an interest in public speaking and coaching. Both seem like a natural extension of what I am currently doing. I look forward to exploring these new interest.
  • Writing has become a central part of my life. I’ve always wanted to be a writer and I’ve been able to find an outlet as a blogger.  I currently manage two blogs Return of Eros and Jaiona’s Yoga Closet.  About a month ago, I was asked by a fellow blogger to be a contributor to her site. I felt honored to be considered and gladly accepted the offer.  I am now a contributing blogger for Get Inspired, a lifestyle blog for the everyday woman.  I have learned so much from her editing style and perspective. I have been able to use the feedback to make my other blogs better.  I have also been able to build relationships with a host of other bloggers in the Atlanta metro area.
  • Happier and successful. I have made a major accomplishment by trusting my intuition. My stress level is low and overall I feel more upbeat. There are times when I’m living too far ahead or calling forward a memory from long ago.   However, I’m learning to constantly redirect my thoughts to focus on the current moment.  In the current moment, I realize what I am faced with but I am also able to solidify that happiness is a choice. Redirecting your life is a choice.  Once you get past the fear of the unknown, you can live the life of your choice.

My life has changed dramatically over the last 90 days. I have had some great adventures so far but I’ve also had some challenges which I will share in the coming days.  I continue to receive an outpouring of love and support from my friends and family which gives me the courage to stay the course.  I am forever changed by making the decision to follow my intuition and I look forward to what is to come.

Peace and Blessings

9 Things To Consider Before Leaving Your 9 to 5

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How did you know when it was time to leave your 9 to 5 to focus on your business full-time?

This is a continuation of the previous post Leaving Your 9 to 5. If you are thinking about taking that leap, here are nine things to consider beforehand.

  • Create a realistic plan with multiple versions. I seriously wrote out a plan A- E. I considered all my what if situations. My plan E involves going back to corporate full time. It’s only a few months in and I’m still on plan A.
  • Create a financial plan. My financial plan is similar to my realistic plan but it focuses solely on money. I looked at all my savings, IRA and 401K plan. My savings would get me started. I also decided I was willing to tap into my IRA and 401K if needed. I feel that strongly about what I’m doing. Consider both your business expenses and your personal living expenses. I made the conscious decision not to downgrade my life at this time. I believe that my future earning will allow me to maintain my same lifestyle. Of course, I have to cut back on shopping and dining out but I’m ok with that.
  • Create a spiritual and/or self-care plan. Consider how will you connect with your inner self when times get tough. Entrepreneurship requires courage and self-motivation. Start to surround yourself with the things that will feed your spirituality. We all have different belief systems so there is no one size fits all. Even if you do not believe in a higher power, surround yourself with things that motivate you.  Keep handy anything that brings you peace and allows you to find clarity.
  • Put yourself in the rooms with other entrepreneurs. You need to surround yourself with like-minded people. In my experience entrepreneurs are the most supportive. It’s like you are joining a community and they are all giving you that nod of approval.  You will learn from some and others you will teach. Know that at some point it will be your turn to pass the torch to the ones coming behind you so learn all you can.
  • Ask questions about other people’s journeys. I personally do not want to learn the hard way on every aspect of entrepreneurship.  There will be some challenges that are specific to you, your energy and your industry. For everything else learn quickly from other people’ mistakes. Find inspiration in their journey’s.
  • Identify your support team.  There are people who will support you to the ends of the earth with no questions asked. There are people in your life that will challenge you to be the best version of yourself. Then there is everyone else. Identify who is who and if for any reason you are lacking a support team this is your opportunity to create one. We are born into a family but we all come here with a tribe. It’s time to find your tribe.
  • Become aware of your inner critic and be able to identify it when it shows up. Your inner critic can take many forms get to know him or her. Be vigilant and wary of the messages he/she brings. Find the tools to face your inner critic.
  • Know that at any time, you can make another decision. We are never stuck and we have choices. At any point in this journey, it is your right to make another decision. Usually, the only people questioning your decision-making are the people sitting on the sidelines anyway so why are you listening to them? Thank them for their service and send them on their way. Then refer back to your plan A- E and adjust it according to what’s in your own best interest.
  • Trust your process. Your experience is unique to you and will be determined by the summation of your thoughts, words, and actions. On your journey, others on similar journeys will be revealed to you. We are always in the right place at the right time.

It’s a lot of planning but it’s necessary to think of all areas that might impact you on the front end.  This is my list but evaluate and add to it as you see fit. Good luck.

Peace and Blessings

Leaving Your 9 to 5

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How did you know when it was time to leave your 9 to 5 to focus on your business full-time?

I hear this question very often. It’s amazing to me to hear entrepreneurs tell prospective entrepreneurs not to leave their job. Maybe I’m too new in the game to understand. However, I don’t think there is a one size fits all response. The decision to leave your 9 to 5 is very personal and each person’s journey will be different. To date, I’ve only heard one entrepreneur say trust your instincts. This lady was one of five panelists at an event I attended.  The other four warned against it but she smiled and shrugged then shared her story.  She worked in corporate for nine months then one day fate stepped in and she never looked back.

I understand why entrepreneurs warn against it. Starting a business requires money and often times the first five years may require out-of-pocket funding. In addition to funding your business,  you have to be able to maintain your lifestyle and keep a roof over your head. It might be a little hard to concentrate and allow your creativity to flow if you don’t know when your next check will come. Your other option is to trust completely and tap into your spirituality which is a feat in itself.

Trusting requires courage, knowledge, and patience. It is no cake walk. There are days when my inner critic steps forward and I have to regroup physically, mentally and spiritually. I’m getting pretty good at confronting my inner critic but it too is a learning process. Every time I hear her, I entrench myself in positive affirmations to that all is possible through prayer and meditation. I’ve pulled out all the tools that got me here. The road is not always easy but it is my job to feed my mind and surround my life with the things that empower me. I attend a lot of empowerment events and each time I gain more inspiration which drives me to stay the course. Some days you can’t see the light st the end of the tunnel or hear your higher guidance. Those are the days you have to seek what you need and remind yourself why you chose this path. No one can really tell you when is the perfect time especially without knowing your journey. Some entrepreneurs will make your question about them.  It might have taken them years to take that step or get their business off the ground but only you and the power you believe in can guide you on what’s best for you.

This is a two-part series so stay tuned for my follow-up a list of 9 Things to Consider Before Leaving Your 9 to 5.

Peace and Blessings