Yesterday I was conducting one of my group book mentoring calls with a group of eager, enthusiastic, aspiring book authors. One member of the group told me he was ready to write the introduction to his book. I was stunned. Its two and a half months in to a six month program. I thought – why hasn’t he written his intro already?
I had to get to the bottom of what was going on and help him move forward.
Generally when you haven’t dug in yet – it’s possible it’s an issue of time management. You simply haven’t sat down and communicated the ideas out of your head and onto the ‘puter screen. Often the challenge is you don’t have a good idea yet for that part of the book. Why waste valuable time sitting down to write when you don’t have a good idea?
You may protest and say, “But Denise, I’m so crazy busy I haven’t had time.” Usually I discover the person hasn’t made the time because he or she is unsure where to go next. You don’t have the next great idea. Yet.
I was surprised with this particular writer. From the first time I spoke with Bill it seemed like he was incredibly clear about the message of his personal growth book. From Day One I’ve agreed with him he’s on track with his overall message. I still feel his topic is an excellent fit with the focus of his successful business. It will dovetail nicely, help position him as an expert and bring new clients his way. He’s ready for that success and elevated credibility as an expert. I’m honored to be helping him and all the people in my groups. He was stymied about how to execute that message.
He told me, “It’s just a matter of sitting down and knocking it out.”
Whenever I hear a sentence that begins with “It’s just a matter of…” I’ve learned most of the time there’s more to it. There’s something in the way. There’s “matter.” Matter is weighty stuff. It gets in the way of moving forward.
If this describes you, it’s possible you haven’t have put your finger on the obstacle yet. Often the best relief for the “matter” that gets in the way (for all of us) is coming up with a good idea. Once again you’re propelled forward, writing happily. How do you come up with that next great idea? If you’re in my program you throw it out there on our live group calls twice a month. If you feel “stuck” you share it on our once a month bonus call. I can help undo the logjam. That’s what I do.
In Bill’s case I knew something was blocking him from getting his introduction done. It’s my job to help unravel whatever is in the way so he can get his introduction done and move on to the next chapters.
Many writers believe to get inspired and keep writing, the heavens open and these gorgeous rays of sunlight spill down upon us and God speaks and bingo – we’re inspired and we know what to do to keep writing amazing prose and finish the next chapter and then on to finish the entire book. Or, we’ll research online and the perfect idea will appear on our screen. Or, we’ll be talking with a friend, or, out for our morning walk enjoying nature and the perfect idea will pop into our consciousness.
It happens. Sometimes.
However, more often when we sit down and write the perfect idea comes to us and flows through our brain, down our arms and into our hands. Then our fingertips dance across the keyboard and BAM – inspiration. Surprisingly, what most people don’t realize is that when they sit down to write – the first thoughts that come through usually aren’t the best ones. Not yet.
In fact, I generally suggest you plan on deleting the first few paragraphs because they won’t be your most brilliant. I learned this way back in college. If you’re patient and keep writing – the good stuff will come. Before you know it you’ll be smiling to yourself saying, “This is GOOD!” and know this is why you love to write and why you’re excited about getting your book done.
Save deleted stuff, by the way. Later, it could spin into a great article, a speech topic or perhaps it belongs in another chapter later in your book.
Inspiration for many, many writers is a function of sitting down to write. Look at your book outline and decide to write on the topic that gets your heart racing slightly. Or start writing on the topic that intrigues you most. Face that blank page and start pouring out your thoughts onto the computer screen.
I guarantee – the first sentences and paragraphs you write won’t be all that and a bag of chips. If you keep with it though, the inspired, clever, thoughtful – and yes I’ll say it – BRILLIANT thoughts will come. Be patient. Stay with it.
We live in an immediate gratification world. The fastest technology on the planet won’t help you pull great ideas out of your brain any faster. If you will simply clear your mind of distractions, be patient with yourself and simply sit down to write – it will come to you. The “matter” will gently move out of the way and you will be delighted with the amazing thoughts you will write that will help readers everywhere when they get their hands on your book.
Denise Michaels is C.E.O. and Founder of the “International Book Writing Guild.” She leads group book mentoring programs for writers of how-to and personal growth books. For more information contact her on Facebook or email her at email@example.com Website coming soon.
Ernie and I will have a small holiday and I’ll be cooking my own moderately healthy version of a Thanksgiving meal.
It’s been a good year. I’ve made such massive shifts in my business and it’s been incredibly worthwhile in every way possible. I see more changes happening next year. Wonderful, positive changes. I’m very grateful.
I’m probably one of the worst people to write a post or article on gratitude because even thought people generally see me as positive the truth is, in the back of my mind I’m usually thinking about, “What else is there?” and “What more do I want?”
Right now for the first time in a long time I’m completely at peace and at ease with where I’m at. I’m looking forward to see what unfolds next, but letting it happen at it’s own pace.
The crazy thing is I haven’t written down any goals around my new business direction. For thirty years I’ve always been a goal setter. This time around I’m following what feels right to do next and I’m listening to that small still voice inside rather than talking my cues from a pretty journal that I wrote in at the beginning and middle of the year.
I’m encouraging you to come from gratitude first. When you do – it’s amazing what will open up next and next and next and next.
The holiday season we love to hate as it hurtles toward us every year is here. Don’t tell me you haven’t already noticed all the red and green decorations and merchandise in the stores. Heck, I’ve already missed “holiday celebrations” that started last week.
Why? Because some people now feel there are so many parties and events for the holidays in December they’re now moving them to the first half of November. Sorry, I won’t be attending any holiday gatherings until after Thanksgiving. Just not ready yet.
Between cooking, decorating, shopping, entertaining and fitting it into a demanding, busy life it can be overwhelming and yet every year we try to do it all anyway. We want to create lovely memories of the holidays. However, if most of us dread the upcoming holidays what kind of memories have we been creating year after year?
Here in Las Vegas where I live we’ve had a drastic drop in temps the last couple days which is getting me in a holiday mood. Last week temperatures were in the 80s. Yesterday our high was 48 degrees. Brrrrrrr! On Friday I finally pulled out the sweaters, jackets and cozy socks. I bought a red sweater yesterday, so I’ve got something cozy, casual and holiday-ish to wear.
We dread the onslaught of the holidays as December 25th, Christmas, the MacDaddy of the holidays sneaks toward us because it’s a stressful time. It’s stressful in terms of all the things we feel we “have to” do to get ready. It’s also stressful when it comes to the hit on our finances. Women typically make the holidays happen while men are relegated to handling the decorations outside the home and footing much of the tab (if you’re married).
Christmas is supposed to be joyful as we celebrate the “reason for the season.” The last decade I’ve made a conscious choice to celebrate the spirit of fun and joy and dial back on the stress. The way I do it is pretty simple:
- Focus on doing the things that are fun and enjoyable for you
- Minimize things that aren’t much fun and are just plain irritating
- Don’t shop on credit cards or spend more than you can afford
I don’t love decorating – but I love the way holiday decorations look. Next weekend I’ll put up the Christmas tree. I know, it’s before Thanksgiving but I figure it takes the same amount of time to put up and take down the tree whether it’s before Thanksgiving or on Christmas Eve. Because it’s an artificial tree, I can keep it up as long as I like. It has the tiny, white lights already affixed to it so I save time. I make hot cocoa and put the Christmas CDs on as we adorn the tree with red, white, silver and gold decorations. The rest of the decorations go up after Thanksgiving, the first weekend of December.
Decorations are only in our entry, living room and dining area. The holiday finery is focused and feels inviting and Christmasy without spreading it everywhere. I don’t use Christmas towels in the bathroom or Christmas sheets on our bed. We have a Nativity set placed in a prominent place in the living room. After all, Christmas IS about celebrating the birth of Christ. As lovely as all the decorations are, they accompany the Nativity set.
Outdoors? We hang a beautiful wreath on our front door and call it good. My husband doesn’t want to spend an entire Saturday running up and down a ladder affixing lights. I also don’t want to run up our electric bill and get a January surprise.
Holiday cooking: for decades the Saturday before Christmas was baking day for me. I spent the whole day with Christmas music on in the kitchen working away. I enjoyed it. My husband Ernie is great about doing dishes in-between batches. Problem is I noticed I was eating a lot of those cookies. It’s easy to sneak a little cookie or two out of a ZipLoc bag when the mood strikes. Not a good thing when I really need to cut back on carbs.
So, I’ve made an adjustment to this routine. Now I bake a lot of holiday quick breads: Cranberry-Orange-Walnut Bread, Pumpkin Bread with Raisins and Chocolate Chips and I even have a tasty Apple-Rosemary Bread we enjoy.
Baked goods freeze well and a loaf of bread that takes hours to thaw is less tempting then grabbing one small cookie that thaws in minutes. Less temptation equals less stress. Before going in the freezer they’re cooled completely, wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. I “feel” like I’ve enjoyed the holiday activity of baking I remember from the past, but it takes less time and the calories aren’t as tempting.
The breads become one of the gifts I give family and friends. I buy a roll of pretty fabric ribbon with a holiday look and tie a bow with a sprig of holly or a tiny pine bough tucked in.
Cookies and candy aren’t the only holiday temptation: colder temps mean we lean toward more artery-clogging “comfort foods.” For many there’s a greater temptation to imbibe more alcohol to celebrate. How can we stay healthy and avoid stressful weight gain without eating salads when it feels like the last food we want?
Soup to the rescue.
A hot, hearty bowl of soup loaded with veggies and a little meat or beans if you choose is a great way to eat in between the parties and get togethers that’s smart for your health and for your wallet.
Soup is a great way to eat during cold, winter months. It’s also the perfect way to use up vegetables that have been in the frig a few days and become a little wilted. I usually start by sauteeing onions, carrots, celery, garlic and red bell pepper and then add prepared broth and anything else that sounds good. I toss in some protein rich quinoa (say “keen-wah”) rather than pasta or rice to keep carbs fairly low. Add a little crusty baguette on the side or crackers and dinner is ready to go. Leftovers the next day usually taste even better as flavors meld together in the frig overnight.
Holiday shopping: this is where people really lose all sense of sanity about the holidays. Budgets go berserk and people end up secretly wishing they could bomb the mall to avoid the crowds. I enjoy shopping and I’m good at finding bargains. I’m one of those crazy people who’s out the door before the sun is up on black Friday, newspaper circulars in hand and ready to go. That’s because I’m naturally an early riser AND I like shopping. It’s like a holiday after the holiday for me. If you hate that idea, enjoy sleeping in instead.
If you dislike shopping – buy gift cards. One of our local grocery stores has a big rack of gift cards from a variety of retailers and restaurants. Match with a lovely card and a personal note and you’re good to go for most people on your list. A trip to your grocery store could be all you need to complete your holiday shopping and make everyone happy.
Don’t let Christmas sneak up on you. It happens December 25th every year. Never changes. You know who you need to buy for, right? No reason to be out with mobs of people at 6:00 pm on Christmas Eve. Buy one or two gifts per week and your gift-giving will fit better in your budget without pulling out the credit cards. Organize your time and make it happen in advance.
Set a budget you can live with. Decide how much you’ll spend per person and stick with it. Tell family and friends you’ve decided to be sensible and focus on what matters most and less on making a big splash with gifts. Chances are they’ll be relieved and agree with your choice. It’s up to them to follow suit.
Do some of your shopping online. Or, if you can, shop when malls aren’t busy. Weekday mornings you’ll find no mind-numbing crowds and sales people actually able to help with your purchases. Big crowds don’t always mean better prices. If you shop with a very specific list, unwilling to stray from every item on the list, you might meet with disappointment. Have clear ideas in mind but also consider, “What would my brother Jim like?” You just might come up with an even better gift choice faster and easier.
Go to one wonderful holiday event that makes you feel in a holiday mood. Whether its a beautiful presentation of The Nutcracker Suite ballet, to a performer you love doing a Christmas show or something else - attend a ”feel good” performance. Ernie and I have attended a holiday musical presentation at our local community college several years in a row. It’s a feast of Christmas music, decorations and good feelings. Cost: about $10 per ticket.
When you attend a performance you’re focused rather than catching a few notes of holiday tunes in the background as you navigate rush hour traffic. You get dressed up and for the duration of the show you immerse yourself in the beauty of the holidays.
Many other activities can make the holidays fun and festive without crazy spending. Play games with Christmas carols playing softly in the background. I got the Baby Boomer edition of Trivial Pursuit at a yard sale for two dollars. It’s a blast to play with my friends to remember those days.
Sing Christmas Carols: Go online and get the words of holiday music and print them out for your holiday singers. Pull the chairs together in a circle and sing. It’s good for you – really. Or, venture outdoors in the chilly, early evening air with flashlights. Stroll down the streets in your neighborhood with friends and sing. It’s a great way to enjoy an hour, bring a smile to your neighbors, and, burn off a few calories after a big, holiday meal.
Help Out a Mission or Soup Kitchen: Collect things that can help out others less fortunate: food, cash, blankets and your time. It’s a good reminder that giving to those less fortunate warms the soul and reminds you to have gratitude for what you DO have this time of year.
Make your Christmas feel less stressful and more special and unique to you and what matters to you. Focus on what’s fun and steer away from things that feel like “have to’s” especially when it comes to spending more money then you’re comfortable laying out for the holidays.
Recognize that people, not stuff, is what’s truly important during the holidays and throughout the entire year. Make your Christmas an expression of the love you share with people close to you and don’t worry about the perfect, opulent display of holiday riches.
I say this because many people who have always been considered as the “establishment” are now in a minority. A difficult concept for those folks to grasp. They believe they have always been in the right and that would never change. In their minds minorities, gays, women, Latinos and other groups would continue to live on the fringes of our American adventure.
Many pundits prognosticated the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency four years ago was about Americans getting swept up in the “magic” of the historic first African-American to occupy the Oval Office. They mistakenly thought four years later we would take off the rose-colored glasses. They thought it would be easy to unseat a President who didn’t appear “traditionally Presidential” with a candidate who did. Besides no president since Roosevelt has won re-election with unemployment figures over 7.4 percent. They felt his points of view were a little too this or too that and the more conventional guy backed by big money would get swept right back into office. They believed the job was Romney’s for the taking.
Truth is, we never were wearing rose-colored glasses in the first place. This is how we see America and what we want. We want a country where Americans aren’t obstructed from voting. We want an America that’s inclusive. We want an America where women can make their own health care choices and people can love and marry who they want. We want an America that spends less – but makes those tough decisions putting everything on the plate – including the military budget.
They expected Romney’s sweep into the Oval Office even though he wouldn’t submit tax returns, has secret accounts in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland. Even though he lied about Obama’s record. Even though he made those scurrilous comments about the 47 percent and ran patently false ads about Chrysler’s Jeep division after Chrysler said the ads amounted to fantasizing and untruths.
Romney lost in his home states. In Massachusetts, the only state where he’s held political office, he lost by 23 points. In Michigan where he grew up and his Father was a popular three-term Governor, he lost. In California and New Hampshire where he owns homes, he lost. VP sidekick Paul Ryan didn’t help the GOP ticket pick up Wisconsin, either. Wisconsin went to Obama.
What the uber-conservatives failed to see is the demographics of our American landscape have changed dramatically over the last generation. The mostly white “establishment” who thinks in lockstep and always thought everyone else would too - got a spanking yesterday.
I feel a little sad for them (not much – just a little) because they live in a bubble. I’m talking about the arch-conservatives who only talk with each other. They only get their news from the conservative right. They honestly don’t know what’s happening with real Americans which represents a myriad of colors, faiths, lifestyles and belief systems. They’re clueless as to who and what the “average American” is about in 2012.
The world has changed.
Geez, how many times have I typed or uttered that sentence in the last couple years?
The America Mitt Romney wanted to lead doesn’t exist as it used to exist. At least not in enough numbers to win the Presidency any longer.
One Democrat Strategist said, “They’re living in a ‘Mad Men’ mindset in a ‘Modern Family’ world.”
When Senatorial candidates Akin of Missouri and Mourdock of Indiana talked about the horror of rape in a shockingly insensitive way women and men said, “No more.” Women Senators will sit in those seats instead for the next six years. In fact, for the first time we will now have 20 women in the US Senate, 17 Democrats and three Republicans.
Unfortunately the GOP thought they still could win with this kind of knuckle-draggin’ Neanderthal senate candidate. When conservative shock jock Rush Limbaugh called a female law student a “slut” last year for expressing her point of view on making contraception available, people from both genders remembered that intolerance in the voting booth.
That’s perfectly okay in the GOP playbook. Americans, mostly women and some men too said, “No effing way.”
Thank goodness tough guy, “my way or the highway” politics of the establishment are going the way of the dodo bird. Our democracy is truly becoming more representative of our nation.
If you’re a life coach, a consultant, a trainer or a speaker chances are you’ve noticed there’s been a lot of changes in what makes people happily say “yes” over the last five years. If you’re not paying attention to what’s changed and are hoping for things to somehow return to how they were a few years ago, well that’s not likely.
When you learn to adapt your message and your business to what people are looking for and are willing to pay money for – your opportunities expand. Adjusting to frequent change means paying attention to what you see and feel around you. Sometimes its subtle and making a minor shift can make a big difference in your business.
When you went through the training or education you rely upon to help your clients you probably didn’t get much information about how to get new clients. You probably didn’t learn how to swing with what’s new so you thrive rather than just keep your head above water. And when people change we have to change – even if it’s just a little bit. Here are just a few changes I’ve noticed:
- We live in a DVR world, most people don’t want to have be in a meeting (webinar) at a certain time.
- Less people are geeked up about travelling to workshops/seminars. Gasoline prices are up and it’s easier to drive home and put on your sweats and cozy socks.
- Life coaches have become a dime a dozen. Many appear to offer the same cookie cutter services with no differentiation, “I help people figure out what theyr’re passionate about.” Blah, blah, blah…
- People want to feel they’re on top of things (a little bit), yet there’s a dizzying array of choices
- Direct marketing and network marketing businesses continue to surge as people feel they must create an income they can rely upon outside of their jobs.
- People pick and choose the information they’ll listen to – they don’t have to listen and deal with the opposing point of view.
- Information overload is everywhere you turn and people believe (right or wrong) they can get any info free. For a prospective client to see your value has more to do with hiring you then almost any other single factor.
The internet has provided us with countless opportunities to learn about what’s available in the world. On the other hand it’s shut the door on some streams of income that perhaps used to be a slam-dunk in your business. So, as a coach, consultant, speaker or trainer how do you fight back from the slow, steady decline that’s made your expertise and what you do seem less desirable to the people who need your services?
Unless you do something significant differentiate yourself from so many others out there, you’re like one grain of salt on the California coast. You go largely unnoticed by the people who should be paying you for your valuable services.
One highly effective way to differentiate yourself from others that will place you head and shoulders above the rest is to write a book. It may sound “old school” but even in 2012 becoming an author is the best way to be seen as different and worth a second look. A book:
- Gives people a significant glimpse into who you are and what you’re about. It says I have something important to say and I’m not afraid to say it.
- Positions you as an expert – more than blogs, websites, brochures and speaking. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do those things – but a book raises you above the fray.
- Provides you opportunities to speak which also makes you look like an expert and gives you a way to sell your books.
- Promote who you are and what you do – through radio and TV appearances, guest articles on heavily-trafficked websites and much more.
- Makes you more in demand and helps you attract the kind of clients who will value what you offer and pay for your services.
I watched this during my 7.5-years working for a NY Times #1 bestselling author. It may not be your aim to write a mega-book, but even a book with moderate success will create a platform for you to succeed as a coach, consultant or speaker who is respected and sought after.
You may be thinking, “But Denise, a book? That’s a big deal. I don’t know how to write a book.” If you can write a few paragraphs or an article you can write a book. I’m not saying it’s a slam-dunk, there are things to learn to write a book that helps people, and, leverages you and your income. But you can do it. There are people who can help you. Um, I happen to know someone who’s really good at that. *wink*
The important thing about your book is to have something to say. Don’t simply write the platitudes of others who’ve gone before you. Develop your own unique message that actually creates your special “brand” and will help you stand above others.
Yes, writing a book is a big commitment. It’s something most people aren’t willing to do. That’s why book authors are still in a special category of their own and always will be.
The world opened up when my book came out. I became more in demand. I was elevated to a higher stature than my peers – and I stayed there. I raised my fees for marketing mentoring – four times in four years. Fully 97 percent of coaches never make a full time income. I’m solidly in the other three percent.
If you’ve been toying with the idea of writing your book - trust your instincts. Do you have some unique ideas to share? Or maybe it’s not so unique just a new spin on something old. Be smart about it. Arm yourself with the right knowledge that will make the book-writing process easier. The right support will help you write a book that results in people looking up to you. You’ll be proud of your book for years to come. It actually becomes a part of your legacy as a professional.
Denise Michaels is author of the business bestseller, “Testosterone-Free Marketing” a business bestseller sold in 15 countries. She’s also C.E.O. and Founder of the “International Book Writing Guild.” She mentors people to write their how-to and personal growth book so they can position themselves as an expert and leverage their business income.
Halloween is over so we can’t be overly annoyed with the Christmas merchandise that’s been in stores for a month now, and, the holiday tunes starting to come from the Muzak speakers on elevators.
I don’t need to look at a calendar to know the holidays are coming fast - I can feel it in the air. My Circadian rhythyms are playing red and green. My instincts are telling me it’s time to start making lists.
This week I’ve gone on Epicurious and started comparing recipes for Cranberry Sauce and healthy sweet potatoes. I’m wondering if I want to do anything different with my holiday decorations.
I generally ponder these holiday questions because from mid-November to January its always the slowest time of the year for me.
Prospective clients say, “Oh Denise, I’d love to start working with you – after the holidays.” That’s the pattern I’ve seen all the years since I started marketing mentoring. I’ve learned to set aside money so I can enjoy the holidays without dipping into credit cards or real savings. After all it’s the most expensive time of the year and the time when clients say, “I want to take a break until after the holidays.”
This year is different. Back in April when I started my first Group Book Mentoring program I had no idea how much life would change. I didn’t know how many people I’d help by guiding and supporting them in writing their how-to or personal growth book.
Oh, I live in the same home and drive the same car. I’m married to the same man. But I’m busy right now – in a good way - and I didn’t expect that. I figured I’d have the typical holiday season slowdown. Take a break, enjoy the holidays and start another group in January.
Not this time around. Within the last 36 hours I’ve had three people say they want to get started working with me before December. Yowsers!! That means just a few people more (I only accept 6-8 people per group) and it’ll be a full group. All three said they want to wait until after the holidays before actually writing. They want to align with me right away and get going in some way. Does that sound like you?
So, this group will be a little different. Sign up by December 1st and you’ll get a private mentoring session with me before starting into the six month, group book mentoring program in January.
It’s not exclusively about writing a book - it’s also about sorting through and developing a vision, a business model and a plan that will sustain both your book and your business. We can talk over a cuppa something warm to keep the winter chill away and talk about what you want to create. That’s what we can do together before you write word one so it all comes together and makes sense. That’s what synergy is all about.
When you create your strategy and build leverage by aligning your how-to or personal growth book with your business - the book succeeds and your business succeeds. That’s how I made my book a business bestseller sold in 15 countries.
The actual program is six months long and takes you through all the steps of writing your book. Step by step and word by word your book grows. You also learn about editors, publishing options, promoting your book and more.
As mentioned, I had no intention of doing any marketing or selling appointments during November and December. I figured that would be my ”kick back for the holidays” and “hunker down and write my goals” time of year. That’s the way it’s been for so long.
Surprise, surprise! I had three of these appointments this week and all three aspiring book authors said “yes” to working with me.
In fact, I have a meeting Monday morning with a woman referred to me by another happy client. She’s a life coach who lives in New York City. Yes, the same NYC ripped to shreds by Hurricane Sandy and the flood surge that happened Monday night this week. Now that’s dedication and passion.
One big lesson I’ve gotten in 2012 is that flexibility and a willingness to adapt to changing conditions (changing for the better!) is a good thing. Not that I was inflexible before – but I’m really discovering that things go best for me when I check in with how certain decisions feel in my body and then follow my heart. It’s working for me – and I’ll bet it’ll work for you, too.
So if the idea of finally getting your how-to or personal growth book makes sense to you and feels right in your body, you’ll know it. You’ll just sense a little imperceptible shift or that small still voice inside urging you forward. That’s what 2012 has been like for me – and it’s been a very good year. If that sounds like you, we’re in alignment. Connect with me and let’s talk about it. I’ll give you all the details so you can decide if it’s right for you.
Denise Michaels is C.E.O. and founder of the “International Book Writing Guild.” Contact Denise via email at firstname.lastname@example.org on Facebook or text her at 702-401-6313 to set up a time to connect and discover more.
You can’t turn on your TV or computer without being impacted by the stunning images of catastrophic damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy earlier this week.
There are a few important things to look at in the aftermath of such a tragedy. With a big election next week, maybe it’s the right time to reconsider the kind of country we want to live in.
Government: doesn’t it make you feel a little better to see those images of President Obama together with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie? That’s what government is supposed to do – work together to create solutions no matter what party, red or blue. Consider that as you go to the voting booth next week. (I already voted earlier this week.)
The “I won’t talk with you, I won’t deal with you” attitude toward governance the last few years has resulted in more problems and a sluggish response to the challenges we face as a nation. I’m tired of the vitriole and the bickering, aren’t you?
When we work together – even if we have strong differences of opinion - good things happen, Obama and Christie have taken the lead here. I give both credit for putting aside their differences and working together to help the thousands impacted by Sandy.
A few years ago crossing the aisle was considered the preferred norm, not a reason to get your shorts in a twist. You don’t get a doggone thing done if you don’t find workable ways to get along with others.
I blame marketing. Yep, it’s what I’ve been doing my entire career. But I lay the responsibility for a lot of our sniggering small-mindedness on marketing. If we couldn’t tell the difference between one candidate or another and where they stood on issues in the past – we sure can now. Politicians have made certain of it by distancing themselves from each other so much we look ridiculous.
The “have it my way” culture that sprung up in the 1980s and the “me generation” has led to the expectation that’s how it should be all the time, every minute with everything. That everyone should get things exactly as they want them and no one’s feelings should ever be hurt along the way. A little unrealistic, don’t you think?
Infrastructure: Let’s start getting honest here. If you haven’t travelled around the world there’s probably a chance you feel America has the most advanced systems in the world. Not even close. We’re seriously behind the eight-ball when it comes to mass transit, bridges, education, energy development of renewables, delivery of medical care and much more. As a matter of fact we’re currently rated 20 in the world. Not even in the top ten. We’re at 20. Sheesh!
New York subway officials have said this is the worst damage to the system in its 108 year history. They’ll get it patched back up and running again with duct tape and chewing gum. Thank goodness for our weather satellites that provided enough lead time to get all the trains and all the machines moved to safe places, saving billions of dollars in further damages.
The people of New York, New Jersey and other states are still waiting to get back their subways and power back. Mayor Bloomberg has issued a rule you must have three people in a car to get into NY City. Right now just walking down the street without slogging through a few feet of water, debri, sewage, petroleum and more is a challenge. Anyone who knows me knows I love walking, and, walking in New York City has always been an empowering experience in such a vibrant, exciting city. Well, especially if I can sneak in a little shopping – but I digress.
Global warming: whether it’s due to man-made activities or not we have to deal with the fact killer storms and hurricanes happen more often. Let’s stop politicizing what’s obviously happening, kicking the can down the road. Can you believe some turkeys see weather as a Democratic or Republican issue? Weather? Really?
These once-every-century storms and floods now happen about once every two years. Let’s stop kidding ourselves. Scientists, the most apolitical people on the planet, say that our artic ice is melting more and more every year. The result is crazy weather systems like mega hurricanes, flooding and massive snowfalls in winter.
Is it due to our “carbon footprint” or something else? I don’t know. Who cares? Do we really want to keep acting shocked when these events happen,, plunking our heads in the sand? Really?
Our natural tendency is to reach out and help someone who is in worse shape than we are. We selflessly give what we can when our fellow man or woman is hurting, and, we sure as heck don’t ask if they’re Republican or Democrat first.
In a tragedy we see people coming together in ways that show we understand the Golden Rule. Living with meaning and purpose for most of us means finding ways to help others whenever we can.
Here’s something funny in an ironic way:
People in the affected areas without power are running around trying to find power to recharge their cell phones, iPads, laptops, etc. Wouldn’t it be funny in a good way if as a result of this tragedy people actually look at each other and say “hi” rather than endlessly staring at the screen on their phone?
When I ask people what’s most important they almost always reply “helping others” and “making a difference.” Its a more powerful core value than anything else. If so, why do some folks get in a snit when two people with a difference of opinion AND the power to make a difference actually get along? Why do we cross our arms refusing to acknowledge what’s clearly happening and act like we can stuff the toothpaste back in the tube? Why do we posture and act like arch enemies when people clearly care and want the best for each other?
I like Mondays. It’s a fresh, opportunity to start another week where I can start anew and create what I want. Call me an eternal optimist but I always look forward to the endless possibilities Monday promises. This morning Ernie and I will attend our regular Monday networking group, called Enlightened Entrepreneurs.
It’s a growing group of small business owners who come together each week to help and support each other. We do business with each other – but EE is also about learning and connecting in a uplifted way that provides a great way to start our week.
This weekend was filled with activities that made me feel like a part of the community I live in rather than my online community. Different from sitting in my office chair and facebooking for the weekend.
On Saturday I went to the Warrior Dash as you see from my post yesterday. Afterward, I took my friend Val to lunch at the Lake Las Vegas Westin (yes, the mud was gone by then).
Yesterday I had a meeting with a client at Barnes & Noble. She has been with me for well over a year now and the amazing strides her business has made during that time is nothing short of remarkable. She’s always upbeat and positive and looks forward to our meetings.
One of the things I told her is that she needs to be a follow-up warrior with her business. She can be a force of nature when she wants to be – but other times she lets things fall through the cracks. We all do that at times as small business owners and closing those gaps by following up and can make a huge difference.
I attended my husband Ernie Martin’s Spiritual Circles of the Vegas Valley discussion held at “The Spirit Within U” owned by the lovely Karen Campbell. For years Ernie’s passion has been to lead a group in spiritual conversations. No rights or wrongs here – it’s all about what your experience is and what matters to you.
We had a wonderful conversation for about 90 minutes exploring the question, “Is prayer/meditation effective for you?” (The picture on the right is from a wedding we attended a couple months ago in San Francisco.)
In the evening I attended a candlelight vigil for a young woman, Anne-Monique Lippitt (pictured left with her mom) who was in a near-fatal car accident a little over a week ago and has been in a medically-induced coma since at University Medical Center. Annie, age 20, is a college student working two part-time jobs. She has a ready smile for every one and is all about bringing people together. She graduated from Spring Valley High School in 2010 where she was president of the student body all four years. If you’d like to support her and her family click here now.
As I was driving home from the candlelight vigil with my friend, Stacey Hall, I felt like I really was a part of my community this weekend. I contributed in the best ways I know how to support others and connect in meaningful ways.
I was there as an observer. My flipcam was on as I watched the crazy antics of what appeared to be humans except covered with mud. Many were covered from head to toe. They seemed to revel in pushing themselves through tests of physical endurance and derring-do, accomplishing these feats in the dirtiest way possible.
Hundreds, actually thousands of “Mud People” both male and female, all converged on this one site on the outskirts of Lake Las Vegas. It was a strange sight indeed. I think I saw more Mud People then I ever thought possible yesterday. Except they didn’t start out covered in brown terra firma slime. They started out actually looking like humans of every stripe about to enjoy a pleasant, Saturday morning run on a beautiful, sunny October day.
All that changed very quickly.
From the start of their adventure they dashed and within minutes they were plunged into a pit of mud to crawl through to the other side. Then they would dash several hundred yards where they would climb up and over a wall – yes, covered in mud.
Many mere mortals were there to cheer them on to personal victory. Up over hills and down into pits of brown, primordial ooze they went. Through a test of strenth and hilarity that stretched over 5k of dirt and glop. These Mud People have good hearts, I understand. Not only strong enough to push themselves through this dirty deed but compassionate enough to do it to raise money for charity, a hospital that helps human children in need known as St. Judes on earth.
I was content to watch from the sidelines. I’m built for comfort, not speed or muck. I can walk long distances - just walked over seven miles last Saturday morning – but running and mud? Not my thing. I was amazed and impressed with how the Mud People seemed to love the goofiness of it all.
Thousands of Mud Warriors one after another tested their mettle on a course designed to push each mud person to the limits of what’s possible and how many human orifices can conceivably be filled with muck.
At the end most succeeded. They crossed the finish line and collected their rewards – a medal of completion, a T-shirt, a mug of beer, and, a turkey leg. Guess that’s considered warrior food in the Land of the Mud People. I’m not saying I limit my turkey consumption to just the Thanksgiving holiday. But since I was there in the morning – I never considered turkey and beer the breakfast of champions, either.
Okay, the gig is up. I must tell the truth. They were not really Mud People, though they got damn muddy as you can see. They were people who ran in the Las Vegas Warrior Dash 2012.
The Warrior Dash is a race that happens in cities all over America to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and all the good work they do for children who need medical help no matter what their families’ financial circumstnces.
I was there to support my friend and walking buddy Val Cataldi, a Health Coach as she took on the Warrior Dash for the fun of it. To the right is a picture of Val with her blonde hair, big sunglasses and the mud du jour fashion choice. Val is a fitness and weight loss success story. Five years ago she lost 80 pounds and has kept it off. Her clients have lost up to 100 pounds and all have done it while learning how to love and take better care of themselves.
The Warrior Dash is sort of a testament to the fact that there’s no limit to the ridiculous, funny things people will do to test themselves physically and mentally while helping others less fortunate. It’s billed as “The Craziest Frickin’ Day of Your Life” and if I had run it, gotten covered in mud and swigged beer and eaten a turkey leg I probably would have felt that way, too.
But when it’s all done to support a good cause – it somehow makes perfect sense and it makes the Mud People and their land not crazy – but pretty wonderful.
Many people in my Group Book Mentoring program start the journey of writing their book with excitement and a spirit of discovery. Sooner or later they hit that wall famously known as “writer’s block.”
(Which is why we do a Bonus Call once a month that provides an opportunity for writers to talk about writer’s block, obstacles, time management issues and more. But I digress.)
What I believe truly stops a lot of writers of how-to or personal growth books cold, is at some point it suddenly dawns upon them: Wow, positioning myself as an expert or authority really means taking on the mantle of being just that – an expert or authority.
Self-doubt comes rushing in like a lava flow off the side of a volcano. All the, “Who am I to say I’m an expert?” questions start crowding the mind. The book writing process stops dead in it’s tracks. Often, its the end of many aspiring book authors quest to become the author of a how-to or personal growth book. Like the lava flow those self-doubts about their expertise destroys everything in it’s path.
So, this begs the question, “What makes you an expert?”
If you’re a scientist – the bar is pretty high. I once knew a woman who was a Chiropractor. She has tons of post-doctoral training, fifteen years of experience and has developed and championed techniques used in her profession that have gained widespread acceptance in per profession as beneficial to patients. Yet she revealed to me, she didn’t feel like an expert.
When you write your how-to or personal growth book, your experience is your expertise. If you’re writing a book about how to raise successful, happy kids and your experience is your six successful, happy kids – say so. Don’t shy away from the fact that you don’t have a degree in Child Development or Child Psychology, say it clearly. Don’t skirt around the issue. State your credentials based on your experience with pride.
If you don’t have a bunch of initials based on advanced degrees after your name, don’t worry about it. Most how-to or personal growth books don’t reqire educational requirements. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to have a college degree. My book, “Testosterone-Free Marketing” is about Marketing for women, small and micro business owners and I do have a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing. But I don’t have a Masters degree. I’ve never run the marketing department for a Fortune 500 company. I’ve only run my own small businesses – for over two decades.
- Your grandma’s best pie recipes without being a Master Chef
- Growing amazing vintage tomatoes without being a Horticulturist
- Increasing your confidence without a Ph.D. in Psychology
- Developing a closer connection with your faith without a Theology degree
- Opening a coffee shop without a degree in Hospitality and Restaurant Management
- Losing weight and keeping it off without being an Exercise Physiologist and Nutritionist
- . . . and many more
Remember, if book readers want a book written by someone with a bunch of initials after their name they will find that book and bypass your book. They’re simply not your ideal book reader. They’re not going to hunt you down and shout in your face, “Hey, who do you THINK you are?!? You can’t write this book?” That might happen in your mind – it doesn’t happen in reality. I believe with all my heart there are just as many people who would rather avoid that kind of ivory-tower expertise and look for someone who can relate to them in a down-to-earth way based on personal experience.
So if your heart is set on writing a how-to or personal growth book, get writing. If you know being the author of your book will help people see you as an expert they they will want to work with, leveraging your income - don’t delay. When you say you’re an expert or authority, and, you’re proud of the credentials you DO have people will sit up, take notice and buy your book.
Denise Michaels is Founder of the International Book Writing Guild which provides aspiring, enterprising book authors of how-to and personal growth books with the support, knowledge, strategies and tips to successfully write a book. Michaels is also author of the Business Bestseller, “Testosterone-Free Marketing” which became a business bestseller and sold in fifteen countries.
… I Miss My Mind the Most
Pretty stressful day today.
Close friends having meltdowns all over the place wanting to vent on me today. When I have a rough day I vent on them occasionally - it’s only fair as a friend that I reciprocate now and then.
So, at about 5:45 pm I said, “Ernie, let’s go out for dinner.”
Went to a nice little local cafe – great food, a little exotic, friendly servers. Suddenly I thought – I’m positive I have a live session with one of my Book Mentoring groups at 7:00 pm – and it was 6:47 pm. Checked my phone it wasn’t on the calendar but I was SURE it was tonight.
Anxiously, I told the waiter, “We gotta go!!” paid the check and bolted out the door.
Got home at 6:59 pm, checked the official calendar and the call isn’t until next week. Sheesh! I could’ve relaxed and finished my Grilled Tilapia with Scampi Sauce and glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
And my quote for the day….
“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not in fact, simply surrounded by assholes.”
~ William Gibson