When I was in college, my idea of professionalism was a power suit, back-to-back conference calls, early mornings, late nights and black coffee. I guess I watched too many movies in the 80s. When I actually got into the workforce – outside of my part-time college gigs – I realized it was more about prompt follow up and knowing your stuff.
Whether you’re climbing the corporate ladder, launching your own business or working in a non-corporate capacity, a certain level of professionalism is sure to kick your career up a notch. Here are a few unspoken rules that all true professionals hold dear:
Being professional never goes out of style. What are your tips for impressing your colleagues and clients? Tell us in the comments below!
Debt. It just doesn’t seem to go away. Whether we’ve racked up credit card bills during the summer wedding season or had to give in and get a new car, many of us have some form of debt to our name. More than likely, however, most of us have debt in the form of the good ol’ student loan. According to American Student Assistance, today in the U.S. there is approximately $902 billion to $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt.
Fortunately there are programs out there that help students and recent graduates pay off their loans more quickly and efficiently. One such program is SmarterBucks – a website dedicated to helping reduce student loan debt (and don’t worry, it’s legit. SmarterBucks is an FDIC member).
A website that promises to help pay off student loans faster? Sign me up! As a woman who is more-than-eager to pay off her grad school loan, I eagerly accepted the invitation to check out SmarterBucks and explore how the service could help me out. After all, that hefty monthly payment would be much more useful in my savings account, or for charity, or …perhaps the occasional extra pair of shoes.
Through using a special debit card issued by SmarterBanks or simply making purchases through preferred vendors, SmarterBucks will give users up to 10% back in rewards to help pay down student loans. Users can also invite family and friends to contribute to their account.
SmarterBucks offers great tips and resources for debt management, as well as exclusive discounts and deals for users.
Signing up for the SmarterBucks account and inputting all of your information is easy. In order to actually pay down a loan, users will have to link their SmarterBucks account to their student loan account so that SmarterBucks can track it. The site seems really secure, so this shouldn’t be a concern.
The actual process of earning rewards and paying debt down has been a bit of a challenge for me thus far. Since I don’t necessarily need to make purchases from vendors within the SmarterBucks marketplace, I have yet to actually earn any rewards to go toward my loans. Still, for the diligent buyer who is determined to pay off her loans, the process is simple and each dollar will add up quickly.
My advice is to sign up for the SmarterBank debit card. This is the fastest way to make qualifying purchases that will help erase that debt. It works like any rewards Visa where you earn points or cash back for everyday purchases, except you get SmarterBucks back instead – and those go toward your designated student loan. It’s a win-win!
If you have student loans to pay off, you should definitely give SmarterBucks a test drive to see if it will work for you. Every dollar toward those loans helps, and soon (okay, maybe a few years from now) the debt will disappear.
Can you define your personal brand?
If you had to think about it, you can’t.
Why does it matter?
In the words of business icon Warren Buffet: “Your premium brand had better [be] delivering something special or it’s not going to get the business.”
In the last five years the idea of a “personal brand” has become more important, even if you’re a corporate employee. Perhaps especially if you’re a corporate employee! With the uncertainty in the economy, people realized that they couldn’t afford to skate through their workdays unnoticed if they wanted to keep their jobs, much less earn a promotion.
If you want to build your career and success, as any MADE woman does, you need to take the initiative, show up every day and look for ways to innovate and stand out.
You need to define your Personal Brand. The POWER of a brand lies in its ability to speak for you and before you.
As any marketing executive can tell you it takes a lot of work to create a brand. So sit down and take some time out to create your own, strong personal brand:
Personal Brand Element #1 – VALUE
Creating your personal brand starts with understanding the value you offer. What differentiates you? What makes you stand out from the competition or your co-workers? Brainstorm your unique skill sets as well as your unique attributes. Are you a good communicator? Do you stay cool under pressure (Emotional Intelligence is just as important as IQ)?
Personal Brand Element #2 – VISIBILITY
What kind of an impression do you want to leave with co-workers, colleagues, clients or managers? This means becoming recognized for something so that even others are talking about you. However, it starts with YOU showing up and stepping out to make yourself visible. Attend networking events, ask for introductions and also offer introductions. All while keeping in mind what it is you want to be known for as the go-to expert.
Personal Brand Element #3 – AUTHENTICITY
It’s personal for a reason. It’s all about YOU. If people sense that you’re being inauthentic, even if it’s with good intentions, they won’t trust you. This means that if you’re trying to be a certain way because that’s how you think you’re supposed to be, you’re inadvertently coming off as untrustworthy. OWN all of YOU.
Personal Brand Element #4 – IMAGE
As the uber-successful Tony Robbins shares, “Initially, style is more important than substance. If you don’t have the right style, you won’t get to share any of your substance.”
Your style and presentation is a visual representation of your brand. Communication is 55% visual. You are communicating who you are before you even get a chance to speak. Your favorite color to wear subconsciously tells people a bit about your values. Your accessories, hair, nails, shoes, etc. is evidence to your attention to detail. Your outfit hints at your personality. Finally, your image must be appropriate to the audience without completely sacrificing who you are. For example, if it’s a suit culture, add color, accessories and heels to bring in your personality and brand.
Personal Brand Element #5 - CONSISTENCY
Whether you’re going for coffee or leading the meeting, your focus on your visual presentation should be the same. You don’t have to put a lot of effort into your ‘coffee casual’ look to still be polished, professional and confident if you happened to run into a potential client or colleague. The same is true with all written communication – whether on Facebook, in email or on LinkedIN, write with the intention of building your Personal Brand.
What is your Personal Brand? Tell us in the comments below!
If you’re a young entrepreneur, the first time you open your doors, make a high-stakes deal or put your product on the shelf -- you may encounter a moment of sheer terror. As much confidence as you may have in your big idea, that moment of fear and self doubt can creep up on the best of us. Nicole Baldwin knows how important nerves of steel can be for success. As an US Army veteran, with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan under her belt, she is familiar with the courage it takes to work through fear in order to reach an objective.
You can’t help but find perspective when you are 19, thousands of miles from home and risking your life in service to your country. Nicole’s Army experience made her even more determined to start her own business and create something meaningful out of her life’s work. She worked on a plan right there in the midst of conflict, staying up sometimes until 2 am. She created a vision board for everything she wanted her company to represent, staying focused on her goal despite the turmoil around her. Committed one hundred percent, she came home ready to execute her plan for BIAO Skin Care -- the name, an acronym for Beauty Inside and Out. “The use of the acronym is a hat tip to the Army; they use an acronym for everything in the Army,” she proudly explains.
But why a skincare line? For Nicole, it’s quite personal. When she was a little girl she snuck into her grandma’s kitchen wanting to surprise her with a cup of tea. When she reached up to put the kettle on the stove, the boiling water spilled on her, giving her third degree burns on her face, chest and lips. The scars were devastating to Nicole. Beside the pain she endured, she also had to deal with being teased by other kids. Luckily, her grandma -- a nurse by trade -- had a recipe for an herbal remedy that was known to work like a charm. Her grandmother applied the remedy on Nicole’s burn scars and over time they went away. As she grew up, her family continued to use this formula -- a mixture of vitamins and other herbal plant combinations.
Nicole learned how to make the formula from her grandma and, after her tour in Iraq, decided to go to school to be an esthetician. “My passion was born from a tragedy that happened to me,” she says. She wanted to help other women get past the trauma of severe scarring using the remedy that worked for her and learn that if you have beauty inside and out, nothing can take that away from you.
To Nicole, BIAO is so much more than a beauty product. It’s her mission to help others who went through what she did and spread the company’s vision that “Beauty is Giving Back.” “It’s a reward that money can’t buy,” she says. All of the products in the line are natural, organic and cruelty free and each ingredient is certified organic by the Natural Product Association. Nicole believes that focus on the details is important to building trust with her customers. “We want to make sure our products do not expose the consumer to unnecessary to biochemicals, genetically modified organisms, biosolids or irradiation.” She speaks confidently of her product, knowing that her face itself is proof of its effectiveness.
And others are catching on, too. She was recently interviewed on ABC.com and was one of 24 women selected to receive a grant as an Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps Awardee, for Capital One’s Count Me In initiative. The key moment for her? When BIAO became a finalist in the Happy Beauty International Packaging Awards, after competing with hundreds of other companies including Estee Lauder and Beyonce’s line, Pulse. “That’s when I knew I had something with BIAO. That it could be a success.”
Success is definitely knocking on Nicole’s door. She attributes much of it to attending events and seminars, “as a small business, as an entrepreneur, you have to get out and meet others.” But she also warns up-and-comers to be selective on the tradeshows and events they attend. “Sometimes I felt like they owed me money for attending,” she laughs. She also gives credit to networking with other aspiring women in the cosmetics industry and says that she’s learned a lot from her mentor in her industry.
Since her focus is not just monetary, Nicole has made “world beautification” the company’s mission. One dollar of every product sold goes to Free the Children, an organization that works to empower kids in 45 countries. She is also working with her grandma on a new line of products that can be used to treat burn victims. Her grandma is excited to see her old family remedy bring her granddaughter success, and Nicole is thankful for her grandma’s encouragement. “It’s important to surround yourself with positive people -- people who are going to push you toward your vision,” she relates.
It’s been a long road for Nicole, but she has stuck to her plan for her company with the determination and discipline of a true solider. What she encountered in the battlefield was more than enough training for the high-stakes and fire drills of entrepreneurship. She leaves fear at home and makes the moves necessary to advance her company. Her example as a businesswoman and the bravery she displayed in defense of our country definitely make her a Made Woman.
So you have a great idea but you don’t have funding? Aside from begging your parents, skipping meals, and buying a Mega Millions ticket, crowdfunding is the most accessible way to fundraise. I’ve recently completed a Kickstarter campaign and thankfully, we successfully raised over $30k. It was a tremendous learning experience, and I've compiled a few tips on how to stand out from the crowd while crowdfunding.
1. Pick a Platform
Everyone is familiar with Kickstarter, but there are a variety of crowdfunding websites available. It’s crucial that you find the site that aligns with your project and its needs. Some platforms only allow you to collect funds if you reach your goal. Others allow for flexible funding. So whether you raise 100% or 20% of your ask, you’ll walk away having benefitted. Among the top crowdfunding sites are: Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, WeFunder, Startup Addict, Piggybackr and Quirky. Each aims at assisting different types of projects. Startup Addict targets fundraisers for up-and-coming businesses, Piggybackr is for youth fundraisers, and Quirky aims to help inventors.
So once you have your idea, identify which platform will help you reach your intended support group.
2. Determine Your Core
This part should be easy, because if you’re creating something, be it a business, film, or product, you’ve already determined who’s going to be interested in your creation. Those with an immediate connection to your project are going to be first money in and will likely encourage others to contribute. Figure out who and where they are and start contacting them!
3. Inform Without Exhausting
Crowdfunding isn’t new. By now, most people have probably gotten an email or Facebook message informing them of a Kickstarter campaign. It will be important to let people know about your campaign without exhausting them. No one wants a million emails about your project. Be tasteful and timely when making contact with donors. And remember, all help is good! Sometimes people won’t be able to make a monetary donation but they’ll be willing to spread the word. Take advantage of this offer! It is equally important.
4. Contact Social Media Tastemakers
Social media will be crucial to spreading the word outside of your immediate family and friends. Blogs and online magazines are constantly looking for content. Contact outlets that will be interested in your project. When I was in the midst of my own campaign, a blog helped us reach our goal within 12 hours of posting about our film.
5. Show Gratitude
Whether you’ve reached your goal or not, give thanks to those that have supported your cause. Not only is it important to show how people have impacted your project, saying thanks for each contribution will also help you stay encouraged. You will have tangible proof of how much your circle believes in your vision. Plus, once people know that you’re grateful for every penny you drum up, they’ll be more willing to help, financially or via word of mouth.
We are surrounded by managers. Managers are responsible for organizing and maintaining our organizations, teams, families and more. Managers are great, but there are important differences between managers and leaders -- and they should not be confused. The biggest difference lies in the fact that managers will never change the world.
Every once in awhile, you run into a leader. You can spot them because leaders always see the silver lining. They’re the people who always see the glass as “half full,” not because they’re delusional, but because of how they seem to know where the water is. They don’t just see problems. They also see the opportunities and then they seize them. Instead of waiting for a big break, they create their own luck. Leaders are the ones with the power to change the world, and they are in high demand in every segment of our society.
On the inside, many of us hear an inner voice telling us that it’s time to start making an impact -- to move to the front and lead. But how do you become a leader? Below are some principles of authentic leadership. Transforming yourself into a leader takes work. But if you start to take on the mindset of a leader, you will see your families, workplaces, and communities change.
Both managers and leaders can be identified by what they focus on. Managers obsess over protocol and rules, while leaders are more concerned with the individuals that make up the team. Leaders know that the potential of any organization lies within the individual.
Some people try to “lead” by using manipulation or guilt to get things done. This type of control is not true leadership. It may be effective for a time, but soon burnout or resentment will set in. On the other hand, leaders inspire others to find motivation within themselves. The result is a person who has become a self-starter and no longer has to rely on the overbearing superior to spur them into productivity.
Managers are always focused on, and, in many cases, worried about money. This is not necessarily a bad thing. But if you are always focused on the bills or the overhead, you cannot look forward to new ideas and opportunities. I believe that money should never be the goal of your efforts. The goal should be to contribute your best. Money is the result and product of your work.
Managers are interested in fulfilling their duties and completing their objectives, and oftentimes they do this mindlessly. But leaders are interested in the purpose of their work and what they can bring to the table. They’re after significance, and they want their work to matter.
Some people are afraid of change, and they get uncomfortable with anything that looks or feels different than the norm. These people can be good managers, but at this stage they are not leaders. Leaders embrace change, especially when change is needed. They push the boundaries of status quo, and because of their slightly rebellious nature, they are often the ones that find the new ideas first. These are the type of people who are sought after by companies like Apple and Google, because companies like that know that this mindset is the difference between stagnation and innovation.
As a word of warning, while you will find much success from following these principles, you may also experience criticism, obstacles, and all kinds of “player hating.” It’s lonely at the top, and some people will take pleasure in sabotaging your progress. But you are too important to let them discourage you. We need leaders, and you might be the one destined to bring new life to your family, company, or the world.
Purpose. It’s defined as the “reason for which anything is done, created, or exists.” As Made Women, when our purpose calls, the only option is to accept its challenge. For some, true purpose may not always be one hundred percent clear -- we are only human -- but it often reveals itself over time in ways we aren’t capable of seeing in the moment. Ayke Agus’s purpose has seemed predestined – seemingly understood by the people and situations around her since her birth.
Sitting with Ayke in her beautifully manicured LA home, you feel as though you’re surrounded by history – her teacher’s (Jascha Heifetz -- more on this later) grand piano situated in one corner, nestled between beautiful antique furniture and music paraphernalia galore. Touches throughout the room point to her Indonesian roots, and she invites you into her home as she would her own family. After offering tea, she sits down with an inviting smile that encourages conversation to flow freely.
Born in Indonesia, Ayke was the oldest of nine siblings, which undoubtedly shaped her maternal nature. A mixture of Chinese, Indonesian and Dutch; Ayke grew up in a diverse setting in terms of culture, religion and music. This cultural background shaped her path in many ways. “My life was not a standard example of a career woman,” she recalls. “Everything was determined by others. I never had really a dream or a vision or a goal… In Indonesia people were told by their parents what they were going to become.”
From the age of five, she and all of her siblings were forced by their mother, a piano teacher, to practice piano daily. Ayke, as the oldest, was appointed overseer and piano-practice-enforcer -- often watching over her siblings as they played in tears. Ayke’s father, an architect and builder for Catholic missionaries, would bring pianos home to try to return them to playing shape. One day, her mother told Ayke and her siblings to tune them. It was then that her mother discovered Ayke had what’s called “perfect pitch,” the ability to recognize the pitch of a note or to produce any given note without a reference tone. This skill -- along with the hours of technical skill reinforced by her mother’s stern guidance -- set her apart in her lengthy career as a pianist, violinist and teacher.
At seven years old, Ayke was considered a child prodigy and played for kings and queens of Indonesia. After completing her undergraduate degree at Daemen College in Buffalo, New York, she was offered a scholarship to the famously competitive Julliard School for her graduate studies. But before starting there, Ayke found out some devastating news: her mother was dying from bone cancer. This sparked Ayke to track down her mother’s hero, Jascha Heifetz -- a Lithuanian-born, Russian violin virtuoso, considered by those in the music world to be the greatest violinist of the twentieth century. All Ayke planned to do was shake his hand, so that she could go home to Indonesia to tell her sick mother while she still could. Ayke discovered that the only way to meet Heifetz was to attend his masterclass at the University of Southern California and audition for him -- so she did just that. After hearing her play, Heifetz accepted her to study under him -- and she turned him down (he later told her she was the only person to ever turn down his offer to teach them). She ended up accepting his offer, persuaded by her classmates in Buffalo, and spent the next fifteen years of her life as his student and accompanist; and ultimately, his assistant and confidante.
As someone who has found herself on both sides of mentoring relationships, Ayke’s advice to aspiring musicians is to “find a good teacher – a teacher that inspires you to want to practice, because unfortunately that’s what has to be done. Repetition…tenaciousness, diligence, willingness to sacrifice. It’s a lot of sacrifice.”
Ayke’s incredible sacrifice has been recognized throughout her life, such as when the controversial leader of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan, discovered a book Ayke wrote about her teacher, “Heifetz: As I Knew Him,” in a music repair shop. Farrakhan, a Heifetz devotee, was suffering from prostate cancer at the time, and tracked her down to prepare him for a violin performance that he thought might be his last. Ayke, also a cancer survivor, was unfazed by the politics surrounding the minister. She accepted his proposal and their relationship has grown over several years. Farrakhan survived the cancer scare and she is currently prepping him to perform Tchaikovsky’s Concerto for violin and orchestra (considered to be the most difficult violin piece) at his eightieth birthday celebration this year.
Ayke’s life mission has evolved over time, but she now knows that it is to “perpetuate the Heifetz legacy: the art of music-making with another human being.” She strives to use her musical gifts for the art of empowerment -- inspiring others through her performances, whether by volunteering her musical talents to play for hospital patients, or inviting friends into her home. She is even planning a world tour, sharing her musical gifts in Indonesia later this summer; and then as a piano and violin soloist, accompanied by the Harmonie-Nautique Symphony Orchestra this coming October in Geneva. And to bring it full circle, she will be teaching a masterclass at Julliard next April.
Through her extensive career, Ayke has honed in on what success means to her: “[It’s] somehow giving a little bit of yourself without expecting anything back in return. Whether it’s advice, money, your time…not saying, ‘what’s in it for me?’” She says her life philosophy is one that she has borrowed from her relationship with Minister Farrakhan: “The most important thing is that you need to be willing to be a student at all times. There’s no room for arrogance… There’s always room for improvement and learning something new.”
Throughout her life, Ayke has committed to being open-hearted and unafraid of rejection. “You have to embrace adversity instead of pushing it away, and then use it to your advantage. What is it that it presents for you? Unbelievable challenges present opportunities to be creative. What do you do about it?” If you’re Ayke Agus, you fearlessly share your God-given talents, using them to inspire greatness in others. You accept chance encounters and embrace the adventure that life can bring. You forge forward, trusting meaning will someday be revealed. In other words...you fully accept and embody your unique purpose.
We’ve all had those moments, chatting away at a dinner party, vino in hand ... you ask the smokin’ hot hipster sitting to your left what he does for a living. “Oh, I’m a resort water slide tester,” he casually replies like that’s something you hear everyday. “Excuse me—a what?! Awesome ... I didn’t even know that was a job.”
In today’s world, countless unique careers exist that your parents and college counselor probably never mentioned (or even knew about for that matter.) At a young age, most of us are plopped onto a track heading straight to Normal Jobville. Few kids grow up wanting be to a roller coaster designer, hair stimulation supervisor, menu engineer, ice cream taster, fortune cookie writer, or conlinguist—but they are all very real vocations.
While some high schools and universities are attempting to better prepare future young adults for occupations that are unique or don’t yet exist, most haven’t found effective ways to make students more aware of the wide variety of positions that are available, beyond the basics. So, how does a modern girl discover unconventional career options? It’s not as difficult as one might think.
Start by digging deeper into the world in which you want to work. Food, fashion, photography, medical, writing, hospitality, travel, entertainment, interior design—in each industry, there are a plethora of uncommon jobs. Talk to as many people as you can who work in fashion, if that’s your passion, and Google! The answers are there under simple searches like “unique jobs in fashion.” Another option that yields results—visit the “career opportunities” section on websites of companies you’d like to work for. Often you’ll see job listed that you never knew existed. Here’s an example on CondeNast.com.
There are also occupations that are highly unusual by nature and require unique individuals to fulfill the duties—i.e. sea urchin diver, coconut safety engineer, and snake milker—all examples of work that definitely qualify as unique, but also are not for everyone. Because most women I know (not all, but most), don’t want to learn how to extract venom from snakes and sell it to research labs for use in anti-venom medications, here is a list of unconventional jobs that might actually be of interest:
This person is the middleman/woman between textile manufacturers and designers. The job involves a fair amount of travel, as many fabrics are sourced in other countries. It also provides plenty of freedom from being stuck in a office cube. Textile distributors make an average of $105,000 a year.
It’s the job of a colorist to make sure that fabrics are the right color and of the same dye lot. If you have an amazing eye for color differentiation and know how different light sources effect the way we see color, this might be your next job in fashion. Colorists make an average of $53,000 a year.
Recipe Developer and Tester
Today you don’t have to have a professional culinary degree to get sell your recipes if you’re an amazing cook, uber detail oriented and can write precise directions. Magazines, brands, and even celebrity food personalities are hiring home-chefs to help fill their plates, pages, websites and cookbooks with delicious recipes. This is typically freelance work and it helps to have a food blog to showcase your talents. Recipes are generally sold for between $275 and $1,000 each. If you’re skilled at food photography, you can charge more.
Gourmet Food Buyer
If you have a passion for food, this could be a dream job. Stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Costco all employ people to find and purchase the foods they sell and to decide which items to take off the shelves. To qualify for a position like this, it’s best to have a background in hospitality and gourmet food, but Trader Joe’s is known for promoting from within if you have the drive. Other skills needed: excellent palate, ability to negotiate with vendors, product sourcing, inventory management, marketing, and an understanding of trends in consumer taste. Travel is sometimes involved and salaries range from $50,000 to $80,000.
This is an amazing way to travel the world, entertain people, and avoid sitting behind a desk all day. Cruise directors are responsible for all on-board hospitality, entertainment and social events. They act as the public face of the company and are constantly interacting with the guests. For this job you’ll need a charismatic personality, tons of energy, the ability to be away from home for extended periods of time, and experience working in recreation, entertainment and/or hospitality. Here is an example of a job listing for Cruise Director for Royal Caribbean. Salaries can range from $45,000 to $150,000.
Hot hotels today are hiring “Vibe Managers” to create the overall “vibe” of the hotel—from the music in the lobby, spa and elevators to creating unforgettable corporate meeting experiences for hotel clients, e.g. setting up a DJ booth in the conference room so the CEO can be spinning pre and post meeting. Read more about the Vibe Manager for Hard Rock Hotel, San Diego here. Salaries range from $50,000 to $75,000. Here is a list of other unique jobs in the hospitality industry.
No matter where your passions lie, you can be sure there are unique jobs that exist in that field … you just have to do some digging to uncover your first or next unconventional career!
Being an ambitious entrepreneur is a gift and a curse. On the one hand you get things done. You have a vision, you started a business and you’re making a difference in this world (and some money). On the other hand, your schedule is overflowing with client work, networking events and business opportunities. There is always something more you could be doing. The questions becomes: How do you fit it all in?
Here are some tips for managing your schedule as a busy entrepreneur:
Focus on the Big Rocks. Stephen Covey famously spoke about putting your “Big Rocks” first. Look at the mission of your business. What are you trying to accomplish? What is your purpose? Each day, think about the three most important things that will help you move forward on your business – your Big Rocks – and create a schedule to get them finished first. Once you’ve completed your Big Rocks for the day, you can move on to less important activities. And on those days that you’re only able to get one or two things accomplished – it happens to the best of us – at least you know you’ve tackled the most important things on your list.
Bucket Your Tasks. Set your schedule up so that you’re working on similar tasks all day. For example, I schedule all client meetings and coaching calls for Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Mondays are reserved for writing and planning. Fridays are my admin day. Creating a solid schedule helps in two ways: 1) you’re not constantly bouncing from task to task and 2) you know exactly what you’ll be working on each day.
Get Rid of the Fluff. Let’s be honest. There are going to be things that just never get done. If you take an honest look at your day’s activities, you’ll see that there are some activities that you’ve picked up along the way that are no longer serving you. Maybe you had a problem saying “no” or maybe it’s something that seemed exciting when you first took it on. Either way, if it is not serving your bottom line, it needs to go. Does this activity align with your purpose and move you forward? If not, then it is time to place it on the back burner.
Figure out Your Energy Zones. Take a look at your energy levels throughout the day and schedule high energy activities when you feel the most alive. Are you a morning person? Crank through your to-do list early on. Do you find your stride after lunch? Schedule your tough mental tasks then.
Take It Easy. Part of the fun of being an entrepreneur is making your own schedule. Make sure to schedule breaks and down time so that you can refresh. That might mean hitting up the gym during lunch or simply setting a timer so that you take periodic breaks throughout the day. Don’t get too down on yourself for having an off day – we all need a break sometimes.
Keep it Professional. Full time entrepreneurs can find themselves slacking on the rigid scheduling. Early morning meetings are replaced with nooners. Business professional clothes are replaced with PJ’s... all day long. It’s fine to make your own rules if you are running the show, but try not to let all of your professionalism go out the window. Keep a clear, daily schedule even if you don’t go into the office everyday.
Once you are able to lock in a solid schedule, you’ll be able to focus on your revenue generating activities and really grow your business. Get laser focused on the activities that will move you forward and let the rest fall to the wayside. And when in doubt, take a little break!
Think back to the sixth grade. Remember all the trouble you used to get into? What about 7th and 8th grade. Oh, boy. Now imagine how bad things would have been for you (and your parents) if you would have had an iPhone, Facebook and Instagram during these…growth periods. Yikes. Well, kids these days (yeah, I just said that) have all of this and probably a few things we don’t even know about. With these distractions and all the other challenges they face coming up in America, (post-economic meltdown and “KimYe”) it’s not hard to see why trying to instill good morals and values in youths has become harder than ever. We all know it. But for most of us who don’t have kids yet—or even if you do--we feel there’s not much we can do about it.
Kelley Raleigh had a different reaction to this issue. While studying social work at the University of Missouri, she became a Big Sister to a 13-year-old girl and was moved to see the direct impact she had on a young life. The experience inspired her to outreach further and she began to mentor more young kids. Kelley realized pretty quickly that this was her passion and her mission became clear: reach out to kids in order to help them discover their purpose. She began to feel that she was making a difference but the challenges of her newfound passion became clear pretty quickly too, “I realized there was a fine line between wanting to encourage and forcing your ways on someone. I learned to be careful not to put my own ways on [the kids]. I didn’t want to interfere with what parents were teaching them.” Kelley’s passion for mentoring became her career focus after she graduated and she became a program director for the Big Brother and Big Sisters' group mentoring program, teaching college students how to be mentors. She taught the little kids arts and crafts for fun, and lessons like how to be a good citizen. She also formed a committee of teens to produce open mic events, dance performances, short films and art exhibits.
In 2003 Kelley moved to LA and began working with Teen Insight as the Director of Teen Insight & The Institute for Youth Leadership. More than just giving her pupils fun activities to do, Kelley honed in on inspiring them to look inside themselves and figure out what they had to offer the world. She created a four day retreat in Malibu with the goal of developing leadership skills by creating volunteer projects. For three years they met and had each teen volunteer group presented a plan to visit one place in the world they would want to go. The amazing part: in 2009, one of these plans was chosen by Teen Insight to be a real volunteer project! Kelley and her team of family, friends and these amazing young people raised over $120K to pay for their trip to Tanzania, Africa. Kelley and 16 kids, most of whom had never left the greater LA area, traveled across the Atlantic to visit an AIDS orphanage, build classrooms, teach English and give mini versions of the same leadership seminars they held in LA. They even learned Swahili! The trip was three weeks long and it was life changing for all of them. The American students were inspired to change the world in a very real way and many of them signed up to make the trip again in 2011.
Talking to Kelley about this, I was truly amazed. Her easygoing manner belies her deep-rooted passion for creating change through youths. She considers the young girls and boys in her group, and their families, all part of her own family since she has been mentoring them for years. A woman of many talents, Kelley now uses her production background to create rewarding experience for her students. When she left Teen Insight to focus solely on service projects for teens, she started Leading by Example, a multimedia company where kids create positive, message driven content. Recently, the group created a “Stop the Bully” video and held a screening at their school. “I want to ingrain the desire to help others in my students, give them a hands-on experience with making a difference in the world,” Kelley said.
It was a lot of pressure to plan an international trip with young kids, keep everyone safe and healthy, and provide an amazing experience, but she did it all again with her own company in 2012. This time around, Kelley's and her team of youth volunteers visited AMANC, a special hospital in Mexico City for poor children with cancer. There, they practiced healthy visualizations and yoga with the sick, and just spent time with them. The experience was much different, but no less rewarding for Kelley and for the teen volunteer group.
It takes a great leader to inspire others to do good works. Kelley has inspired hundreds of kids to lead better lives for themselves, and to be examples for others. Her dedication to instilling values and creating leaders makes me feel a little bit better about the future of our youth. Hopefully her example will inspire other Made Women to reach out and support those coming up behind us as well.
For more information on Leading By Example please visit http://www.kelleyraleigh.com.