Tag Archives: communication

8 Reasons Why We Never Have Enough Free Time

8 Reasons Why We Never Have Enough Free Time

Think of the last time you went a whole day without doing something that could be considered work. Whether this is catching up on emails over the weekend, working ahead on a project after the kids have gone to sleep or spending what should be leisure time overexerting yourself cleaning the house, tending to the garden or sorting out a closet.

If you’re lucky to have recently enjoyed a fully unplugged vacation, you are in the rare minority of people who can actually recall a day in which they have not worked. What’s worse is that most of this “work” is self-imposed when really leisure time would totally be acceptable. We are creatures of habit and work has become a habitual part of our daily routine that gives us comfort and security.

As Americans, our growing addiction to using every ounce of our day doing something productive has greatly impacted the way we view and distribute our free time. We are now wired to always feel like free time is this luxury we can never afford when really it’s surrounding us all the time. We simply cannot break out of our habit of busyness to enjoy it.

After some deep reflection on the way I personally view and use my own free time, I want to share with you 8 reasons why I believe we feel we never have enough free time (even when we do). Take a look…

We quite literally see time as money.

Back in the 18th century, the clock was first used to synchronize labor. Ever since then, our society has grown an increasingly strong correlation between time and money. We are paid by the hour, bill by the hour and even if we’re salaried or paid on a per project basis, we still know approximately how many hours we’re working and how that breaks down into dollars.

In our minds, time is money. This is why we worry more and more about spending, saving and profiting from time.

Busyness is a badge of honor.

Centuries ago, only the wealthy were afforded the luxury of free time. Now we no longer see free time as a luxury, but as a sign that we’re not working to our full potential or that we are not needed. Think of the typical office environment. The people who are deemed dedicated and successful are often the first to arrive in the office and the last one to leave for the day. Sometimes it even becomes of competition over who is willing to skip lunch, forgo bathroom breaks and steer clear of water cooler talk just to appear the busiest.

Our society now sees the busy person as the more valuable person. Clearly they must be more talented and in higher demand if they have nonstop work to do, right? With busyness as the new indicator of success, free time makes us question our self-worth.

The more we feel our time is worth, the stingier we become with how we spend it.

As we continue to link the relationship between time and money, here is one more reason why we never feel like we have enough free time. It’s because we overvalue what our time is worth. We keep moving the target for how much we should earn per hour, always striving for more. Because for many of us, this amount will never be enough, we struggle to find any leisure activity that is worth the opportunity cost of not working (thus not earning money) for this amount of time.

The thought of “wasting time” is causes more anxiety and stress than we realize.

And because we see time as money, it now has a real value to us. Anything that is valuable seems scarcer, therefore we see time as this resource we cannot afford to waste. When we have free time, our habitual minds tell us to use it to do something productive or something that will earn more money.

We feel comfortable and secure when we are spending time working. It’s what we know and what we ultimately crave. If someone were to take away your means to be productive for a day (cell phone, computer, tablet and internet connection), how anxious and stressed would you feel? See how long it takes people to realize the internet isn’t working in a coffee shop and you’ll see this scenario play out before your eyes. You would think the oxygen had been “turned off.”

Choices raise the opportunity cost of leisure time.

There are so many ways we can spend our free time and this often results in the paralyzing inability to spend it at all. We struggle to narrow down our options and stress over the opportunity cost of picking one thing over another. Simply put, we overthink how we spend our free time and then default to the easy and familiar option of work.

We can earn more money, but we can never earn more time.

One of the biggest traps we fall into is deferring our happiness for this mythical moment in the future in which we will finally enjoy the fruits of our labor. The reality is, we will always keep pushing this goal further and further away with the promise that the end result will be even bigger and better if only we work a bit harder for a while longer.

As we work hard to earn more money to one day afford a life of leisure and happiness, we are using up prime hours that could make us very happy right now. The bottom line is that we can earn more money, but we can never earn more time.

Instant gratification breeds impatience.

Yet another reason why we can’t seem to enjoy free time is because technology has us so high strung. We want instant access and gratification for everything we do. Leisure activities become stressful when we feel like we are being inefficient with our time – which is the whole point.

I know I personally feel annoyed or panicked when I try to stream a movie and the internet is slow. I get impatient and usually check emails or answer texts while I wait. Or think about spending a day at an amusement park. Not only does it cost a lot of money, it also requires a lot of time to wait in line, sometimes several hours for a single ride. For these reasons, many would agree that a trip to an amusement park feels anything but leisurely.

We are surrounded by constant reminders that our work is never done.

Even if we dare to take a break and use some of precious time to do something that is unrelated to work, we can never fully escape. Our phones, computers and tablets seem to always be within reach. Our deeply rooted habits tell us we should be refreshing our emails or answering any call that comes in “just in case it’s an emergency” (though it rarely ever is).

One of the biggest reasons why we don’t feel like we have enough free time is because we never actually experience being completely disconnected to the point we couldn’t answer a work email even if we really wanted to. If you haven’t taken a vacation somewhere where internet simply isn’t an option, I urge you to do so this year (think tropical island, secluded cabin, etc). Shutting off your phone and stowing it away for a few days is one of the best things you will ever do to find true relaxation and redefine your self-worth beyond your hourly billing rate.

Do you share in some of these reasons why we never seem to have enough free time? Do you have others to add to the list? Share your thoughts by commenting below!


Posted by on September 28, 2015 in Business & Success, Time Management


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Why Technology is Killing These 11 Essential Skills

Why Technology is Killing These 11 Essential Skills

Technology is a help as much as it is a hindrance. While we have used countless forms of technology to fuel our efficiency, organization, communication with one another and the way we impact the world,  we have also lost some essential and valuable skills along the way.

What skills have suffered? Mostly our people skills and soft skills, but also a few others you might not expect! Let’s take at a look at the 11 skills that technology is killing and see if they apply to you as well.


I certainly hope I’m not the only one who doesn’t recognize my own handwriting on the rare occasion I need to send a written letter or jot down some notes. There are really limited instances that don’t allow for a keyboard to make our thoughts legible. While technology certainly provides ease and efficiency of writing, quality penmanship has become a lost art.

Why does this matter? There will always be instances when a pen and pencil yield a more “personal” product, like a thank you note. There will also be times when we simply will run out of battery or WiFi and need to ask for some paper to capture important thoughts.

Eye contact

We have the ability to communicate with more people than ever on a daily basis. Yet, this has made these countless interactions feel less personal. Contributing your opinion to an online thread of thousands of comments is nowhere near as direct and meaningful as a face-to-face conversation with someone over a cup of coffee. I’ve found that people are so engrossed in their technology, catching up on email or social networks as they walk to and from their next destination, that they forget to look up and see the “real life” people standing around them.

The result? We forgot to look into someone’s eyes when we are talking to them. Do you greet your cashier by looking him in the eye and asking “How are you?” Do you keep eye contact with someone as they answer your question? If not, these are all areas we should strive to improve by unplugging from technology and plugging into one another.

The art of small talk

For most career-minded individuals, networking and meeting new people is essential for growing your business. This often means making a lot of small talk. But quality small talk requires more than just asking someone the obligatory “How are you today?” or commenting on the weather. It requires attention to the situation and nonverbal cues that tell us what will engage that person.

Technology has distracted and disconnected us from the living, breathing world around us so much that we have lost the valuable skill of being able to have an off-the-cuff conversation with a complete stranger.

Basic math

I am not too proud (though embarrassed) to admit that my basic math skills are severely lacking. Funny enough, I do still know my times tables and have not forgotten how to add or subtract. What I’ve lost is my confidence and patience to do the work mentally. Why? Because of technology. Why spend twice the time coming up with an answer I am only 50% sure is correct when I can just whip out my phone, punch in some numbers and have full confidence in the right answer?

This, of course, is a dangerous mindset and one that will continue to spread from generation to generation as technology only becomes increasingly convenient and ever-present. The solution is not easy, but it can start with each of us personally. We should take pride in keeping our basic math skills sharp and utilize them even if it means taking a few extra minutes and double-checking our answers.

Social awareness

Social awareness is the modern day way to say common courtesy. As the result of our obsession with and reliance upon technology, we forget there are other humans around us. The most common examples I’ve come across are people forgetting to hold the door, stepping in front of a line of waiting customers and cutting people off with a grocery cart.

While these are simple scenarios, they do indicate a larger social problem. We are so consumed in our own (online) lives that we ignore the need to courtesy coexist with one another.

Committing things to memory

If you were without your cell phone and needed to call your closest friends and family, would you know their phone numbers by memory? Probably not! I know I have exactly two phone numbers memorized aside from my own, my childhood home phone and my husband’s cell. This means I couldn’t even call my own parents’ cell phones without referencing my contact list.

Technology is a great tool for storing important information and phone numbers are just one of countless examples. But think about how we also Google everything imaginable – even common things like the meaning of an acronym or the year WWII began. If we lost access to all technology, would we, as adults, be “smarter than a 5th grader?” I’m not so sure.

Appreciating silence

This skill is one I really see the importance of as an introvert, yet I don’t always practice it. Think of your work environment. Do you always need some sort of background noise like a radio or TV? When walking from one place to another, do you feel the desire to talk to someone on the phone or pop in your headphones? When is the last time you did anything (aside from sleeping) in complete silence for more than an hour?

Appreciating silence is an important skill because it forces us to clear out the mental clutter, listen to our thoughts and address issues that might be bugging us. All of these things are easily masked by technology and noise – but will cause stress and distraction if not given proper attention.

Feeling comfortable without “props”

Similarly to feeling uncomfortable in complete silence, how do you react to waiting for someone or something without any technology to distract you? I know if I am waiting for a client, a food order or to be called back for an appointment, I feel the need to read emails, check in on social media or catch up on texts.

There’s a level of efficiency with this, but that is soon fulfilled within a few minutes. The issue is when we aimlessly browse our phones or tablets as a distraction from the world around us. The next time you’re waiting for someone to meet you in a coffee shop, enjoy sipping your coffee and watching the real world unfold. It’s amazing what you’ll see that you would have missed otherwise!

Making plans and sticking to them

When making social plans on the weekend, I’ve often wondered what people did before cell phones when it came to changing plans or running late. From asking enough of my “older peers,” I’ve come to the conclusion that people simply did a better job of sticking to their original plans!

Thanks to technology we have the ability to endlessly change where we’re going, at what time and with whom. If you’re on the receiving end of all of these changes it’s frustrating to say the least. Back before cell phones and social media, once people left the house, they were expected to be where they said they were going – and they really made a better effort of honoring that.

Fully focusing on one thing

Using multitasking to be more efficient with your time is a huge myth. Why? We’re not machines. We cannot quickly or easily switch from one task to another without losing momentum in the process. When we multitask and try to do too many things at once, we don’t fully accomplish anything.

Technology has created an environment where it’s easy to multitask and pile on distraction upon distraction. One time I caught myself watching TV while surfing my iPad. I couldn’t remember what show I was watching and I had minimal recollection of what I was looking at on social media. Trying to multitask my leisure time was a moment of reckoning for me. We need to get back to applying our sole focus to one thing at a time, doing it well and moving on to the next task with a clear mind.

Feeling content

Finally and most importantly, our reliance upon technology has messed with our ability to feel content. This is a bold claim, but one I strongly believe is true. How do you feel when you surf social media? In seeing other people’s lives (which are inevitably a carefully framed highlight reel of the truth), how do you feel about your own? Recently there have been more and more times that I have felt worse after browsing social media – not relaxed or entertained, like I had hoped.

Technology provides us a big, open window into each other’s’ lives. As we peer through, we can’t help but compare what we see to our own reality. Using technology for this purpose fuels jealously, discontent and stress. The skill we really need to strengthen is our ability to be happy for one another while being equally happy for ourselves. We are all blessed in different ways!

Has the overuse of technology hindered some of these valuable skills for you personally? Or does this apply to someone you know? Share your experiences by commenting below!


Posted by on September 14, 2015 in Life


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The Most Common Social Media Personalities – And How to Communicate with Them

The Most Common Social Media Personalities – And How to Communicate with ThemHaving spent any amount of time on social media, you are sure to have encountered many different personalities. People who are fairly normal functioning members of society in real life can take on entirely new personalities from behind the “mask” of their profile identity. This often leads to them interacting with in a way they would never do face-to-face.

While social media offers a great opportunity for people to open up, get real and support one another, it can sometimes allow us to be judgmental, critical and overly cruel to one another. So what are some of the common social media personalities that come out of the wood work? And what is the best way to deal with them? Here is a look at 10 common communication styles we can find on social media every day…

Nickname: The Angry Troll 

What they do: This social media personality is one we have all likely encountered. He or she is truly a “troll” in all sense of the word, scrolling through highly interactive social media accounts (like brands’ or celebrities’) and spitting out mean and offensive comments that are totally uncalled for. Likely this person would never say such things to someone’s face, but behind the mask of social media, they feel they can displace all their anger and insecurities upon someone who never invited such ridicule.

How to handle them: Use your judgement here. If the comments use profanity or are extremely offensive, report them! Otherwise, let social media karma have its way. It’s not smart to engage in an argument with an Angry Troll or you will surely become the next target. There are only “losers” in this game.

Nickname: The Pot Stirrer

What they do: This social media personality is somewhat like a troll in that they intend to create mean and unjust comments, but prefer to have someone else stoop to that level. So, they stir the pot with a snide, but craftily innocent-appearing comment that causes other people to jump on the negative bandwagon. Meanwhile, they sit back and enjoy the fire they just started.

How to handle them: Steer the comments in a new direction to stifle the effects of the pot stirring. Ask a new question or offer a positive comment that will trigger others to focus on this direction rather than the potentially negative direction of the Pot Stirrer. 

Nickname: The Inappropriate Tagger

What they do: Often this social media personality is “new to the game” and doesn’t quite grasp the social norms of how to use features like tagging. This results in awkward and embarrassing tags where you are linked to a post, photo or video of something you would never personally choose to share with your network. For example, your Great Aunt tags you (and her entire friend list) in a video of a cat dancing in a clown costume. Thanks! Just what I wanted my potential clients to associate me with.

How to handle them: You can discretely untag yourself from posts you don’t want showing up on your page. If they keep adding you to Facebook groups that you don’t want to be a part of, you can also leave the group and request to not be added back. Keep a kind heart, as this person often doesn’t realize that what they’re doing is annoying you.

Nickname: The (Not So) Private Investigator 

What they do: This social media personality is shamelessly curious about your life and not one bit discrete about it. They will spend a creepy amount of time surfing through all your photos from as far back as those college days (you knew you should have deleted those albums). But instead of silently snooping they will leave an obvious trail of breadcrumbs by “liking” random photos along the way. Bold, unaware or both?

How to handle them: Unless their comments are inappropriate, there’s not much you can do. If you’d prefer them not to be able to sift through your history, take control of your privacy settings to limit their access to your profile. But note, if they are used to having unlimited access, they will surely notice getting shut out and you may need to offer an answer why if confronted.

Nickname: The Overly Personal Acquaintance 

What they do: You likely accepted this person’s friend request because you felt bad for them or guilty because they look familiar, but you just can’t recall from where. In return, this moment of weakness forever penalizes you with a new “virtual best friend” that is the first to like and comment on anything you post, especially personal stuff. Like, dude, sharing my engagement announcement doesn’t mean you’ll be invited to the wedding.

How to handle them: Be sure to acknowledge them, because your social media relationship obviously means a lot. So long as they are supportive and positive, who doesn’t want a cheerleader? If they enjoy your social media life this much, maybe there’s a real-life budding friendship there.

Nickname: The Self-Appointed Judge 

What they do: Like the Angry Troll, this social media personality feels like they have the ultimate responsibility of passing judgement on anything posted by a brand or celebrity. Go ahead and call out your disapproval of Beyonce’s latest shoe choice. Based upon your own profile, it’s pretty obvious that jealousy and insecurity (or just plain mean-spiritedness) is the real driving force here.

How to handle them: Offer only a positive reply that doesn’t’ acknowledge the dig, but focuses on something nice and encouraging. You will never “win” a case against a social media Judge, so let it hang in the balance.

Nickname: The Self-Appointed Defender

What they do: To counter act the Self-Appointed Judge, the Self-Appointed Defender has also emerged as a common social media personality. This person quickly “comes to the rescue” of anyone who is being unfairly put down. Don’t get me wrong, this is a refreshingly good personality to have on your side! However, it can be a bit awkward when they act like they personally know the celebrity or brand they are defending on a deep (very deep) level. Now you’re wondering just how far they’ll go to see that “justice is served.”

How to handle them: Play the peacekeeper and acknowledge both sides of the Judge and the Defender. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but also thank the Defender for being positive.

Nickname: The Irrelevant Commenter

What they do: This type of social media personality just so badly wants to be a part of the party as quickly as possible, they get a little trigger happy. For example, they jump into a long stream of comments about the latest presidential debate with something like “Yeah and I mean unless we start using the metric system, we’re all screwed anyways.” (Insert “confused look” meme from all other commenters.) A for effort doesn’t even apply here, because had they taken any effort at all to read the original post or the other comments, they would surely realize how far off base they were. Way to kill a good comment flow!

How to handle them: Try and guide the conversation back to the original point through your own comment. If at all possible, connect the dots for the Irrelevant Commenter with what you think they could have meant. Kindness always wins on social media!

Nickname: The Anti-Grammarist

What they do: The United States education system has either miserably failed this person or they cleverly bypassed all English classes without learning the difference between too, to and two. This social media personality really makes you question the average education level. Most social media sites will kindly alert you to misspelled words with a red squiggly line. So they have either blatantly ignored this cue or have absolutely no idea what’s incorrect about using “defiantly” instead of “differently.”

How to handle them: There’s really never a kind and polite way to correct someone else’s grammar on social media without looking like a control freak. Use it as a lesson in refreshing your own grammar and correct the sentence with your mental red pen.

Nickname: The Silent Observer

What they do: This final social media personality is likely a close friend or relative that you talk with outside of social media on a regular basis. You’ve noticed that they never interact with any of your posts (even major life announcements) and just figure they don’t login that often (yes, these people do exist). However, whenever you see them next, they mention everything you ever posted on social media in great detail. Now you’re left wondering whether they secretly hate you on social media or if they really don’t understand that the concept is to interact with people, not just silently observe their lives.

How to handle them: This is a completely harmless social media personality. Sure it may be a pet peeve that will irk you a bit from time to time, but enjoy that they do keep up with your life and remember the important details well enough to talk about them with you the next time you are together.

What are some of the difficult social media personalities you have encountered? How have you learned to effectively communicate with them? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

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Posted by on August 24, 2015 in Social Media, Technology


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9 Warning Signs That Networking Is Wasting Your Time

bored businessman

Anyone that has gone to enough networking meeting, mixers, socials or luncheons can relate to this topic. There are simply times when you know you are talking to someone who will never be qualified to refer business to you or who won’t even remember your name and what you do more than 5 minutes after you part ways.

But in these same instances, there will be business contacts that will forever change your outlook (and income) with a few simple introductions. So how do you distinguish between the two? Here are 9 warning signs that networking with these particular contacts is simply a waste of time.

  1. They give you their business card before you give them your name

I appreciate people who cut straight to the chase, but being greeted with someone’s business card before I’ve even had a chance to tell them my name is just plain annoying. Before you get to know me or I get to know you, there is no way I trust you and like you enough to buy whatever it is your selling. In fact, I’m quite certain I’ll grab that business card as a ticket out of that conversation and drop it in the trash on the way out. Be wary of these type of networkers as they clearly only have their own interests in mind.

  1. You describe your job and their only response is “Oh.”

Once you tell someone what it is you do for a living, it’s a bad sign if they have absolutely no further response than “Oh.” They don’t have any questions, comments or stories related to this topic? This is a sure indicator that these people are either not into you at all (and unlikely to keep you in mind for future business) or they are terrible conversationalists – neither of which you want to spend any more time around than you absolutely have to. Get out now!

  1. You describe your job and they reference a negative industry stereotype

If someone does give you more of a response to your job description than “Oh,” you still don’t want it to be a negative connotation they have about the work you do (I heard you guys are sleazier than a used car salesmen. Or I bet you’re charging me for this conversation right now, huh?) It’s a hard enough battle to make someone like you from a blank slate, combating a pre-existing stereotype is a whole other war – and one that you are not likely to win in the short amount of time that networking mixers afford.

  1. You describe your job and they totally don’t understand what you do

Another big, red flag is if you’ve given an adequate and elementary description of your job and they still can’t grasp what it is you do for a living. A blank stare, confused face or redundant questions are a sure sign they have no clue as to the value you provide. If you’re struggling to convey this concept to them, you can be certain they won’t be able to accurately tell anyone else what it is you do and hot leads are never going to happen. Cut your losses, fake an important phone call and walk away.

  1. They never even ask you what you do

The last several warning signs were nice enough to assume your networking contact will even bother to ask you what it is you do. Sometimes you don’t get this common courtesy! If they’re rambling on, basking in the attention of explaining their “fulfilling” career of selling erasers, don’t waste any more time waiting around for the obligatory question of, “So what do you do for a living?” It’s likely not coming, nor would they pay attention long enough to understand.

  1. They have a hard time describing what it is they do

If you do end up listening to the ramblings of what they do for a living and realize that you could do a better job explaining to them what their core responsibilities should be, this is a warning sign that they likely won’t be in their position for too much longer. Don’t waste your time…or a business card. Politely scoot away for a drink of water and some better conversation.

  1. They quote you for their services within the first 10 minutes

Whether it’s a networking mixer or a one-on-one meeting, unless you directly ask someone for a proposal for their services, you’re completely correct in feeling shocked when they openly give you a quote for something they deem you “must have done now.” People like to buy, they don’t like to be sold. If this person hasn’t yet grasped this concept – or social awareness – they are not likely to be making too many other quality contacts that could benefit you either.

  1. They are constantly looking around for other people to talk to

Have you ever been talking to someone that you feel is always looking over their shoulder at the people passing by or checking their watch? Yeah, they’re not fully engaged in your conversation. Don’t take it personally; these people may truly think they are being discrete. But do take note and mark their business card diligently with a “never talk to again” or NTA label. Only invest your time in people who are willing to invest some of theirs in you.

  1. They forget or mispronounce your name before the conversation ends

And finally, if by the end of your 1 minute and 30 second conversation they have already forgotten your name, it’s not looking hopeful that they’ll remember to contact you or pass along your information to anyone else who could use your services. I would give an “A” for effort, but even being called “Susan” instead of “Stephanie” is something I simply cannot reward. Come on people! You have a business card in your hands and I’m likely wearing a huge “Hello My Name is…” name tag – double check your resources and call me by the right name!

What are some of the worst experiences you’ve had in networking meetings? Share your stories by commenting below!


Posted by on November 24, 2014 in Business & Success


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Failing Forward: Why It’s Important to Fail Often


Failing is a necessary part of life. I’ll refrain from inserting too many cheesy “fail” quotes because I’m sure you’ve seen most of them already, but they do carry truth. Instead, I will say that I fail often and in a variety of ways. Sometimes my failures are so silly they make me roll my eyes and giggle. Sometimes my failures are so frustrating that they bring me to tears. Both types are equally as important. Why? Because failing is a sure indication that some pretty cool things are happening in our lives.

To help you come to this same realization – that failing often is a good thing – I may need to paint a clearer picture. We should not label failing as “failure” so long as we learn to fail forward, to get stronger, smarter and more courageous as a result. Here are six reasons why, after allowing yourself a brief pity party, you should take a deep breath and embrace failing with gratitude.

  1. You are challenging yourself

We don’t often fail at things that are simple, easy or common. No, we fail at things that require taking a leap, stretching our limits and coming out of our comfort zone. These are all good things (regardless of the outcome)! If you’re not failing often, you’re not pushing yourself often. I’d much rather know that I’m pushing my own limits – and every so slowly moving them – than to never fail the rest of my life.

  1. You are learning how to deal (gracefully) with disappointment

Learning how to deal with disappointment is one of the most valuable lessons we can learn in life. We’re moving toward a society that is so politically correct and focused on being “fair” that we’re creating a world of wimps. I said it. It’s important that we learn early and often the burn of disappointment from failing. It hurts, it sucks and it sticks around for a while. I still feel the discomfort of failing, but it no longer brings me to my knees as it used to. By failing often I have learned, time and time again, how to quickly regain my composure, fight back my tears and look for the bright side of things.

  1. You are growing tougher skin

The more you fail, the more resilient you become at brushing off the feeling of failure. In looking back at my childhood, there were always one or two kids that just seemed to have terrible luck. They couldn’t catch a break in school, sports or social circles. But I remember these kids as being some of the most pleasant people, always smiling and even learning to laugh at themselves. They grew tougher skin early in life and I’m slowly catching up. Things I would once deem as “catastrophic failures” are now merely a bump or two in the road. I’m becoming more resilient as a result of failing often.

  1. You are identifying your weaknesses

If failing is good for nothing else, it exposes our weaknesses. This exposure can feel raw or we can choose to see it as an opportunity to work on these weaknesses so that they don’t continue to trip us up in the future. For people who never fail (and I don’t believe they exist), they live their life thinking they’re without flaws and then when something does go wrong it totally catches them off guard. Failing allows us to sharpen our swords each and every time, so we never fail in the same way twice.

  1. You are gaining experience

Whatever steps you took that led to failing were still steps of progress that helped you to gain experience. Maybe you didn’t win that race, but all those training miles that led you to that big moment are yours to keep. You’re stronger and better prepared to take on the challenge again in the future. The same applies for so many other aspects of life. While you didn’t win the “prize,” all the time and effort you put into getting to that point are pretty good consolations.

  1. You are avoiding something that simply wasn’t meant to be

For those who believe in fate (and I do), I appreciate the fact that failing means I’ve successfully avoided something that wasn’t meant to be. If we wished to never fail again, we would likely stumble into situations that prove to be more harm than good. In my career, failing by not winning a client or job has almost always been a blessing in disguise. Either they were a bad fit or another, bigger client came along shortly after that I would have had to turn down had I won that original client. We can apply this theory to relationships, travel, big purchases and more. Be happy that failing is life’s way of protecting you from a far worse fate.

How have you failed recently and how did you choose to make the best of situation? Share your personal experiences by commenting below!


Posted by on October 6, 2014 in Business & Success, Life


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The Art of Storytelling: Why This Tactic is so Valuable for Your Business


The influence of storytelling can be found in all aspects of our lives. First, think of how we are entertained. We watch television and movies, read books and surf social media. All of these components include storytelling in one way or another. Now think about how we mentally and emotionally connect with the world around us. We share our day’s events with our friends by recounting them through a story. We read news stories in print and on the web. And we reminisce about old memories through stories that evoke every emotion imaginable.

Do you now see why storytelling is such an essential – and powerful – means to communicating a message? It’s important to remember that storytelling is anything but new. Before civilization knew how to write, we told stories as our only way of learning and passing along knowledge to one another. In fact, a good story teller was among the most respected and revered people in a community!

Before I turn this into a history lesson, I’ll finish with one thought. While our label for the modern day “storyteller” has many names, the gifted storytellers among us still rise to the top as charismatic and effective communicators. They are deemed likeable, influential and wise. There are several things we can all learn from these storytellers and apply toward our own business communications. Here are 5 ways to incorporate storytelling into your public relations and marketing efforts:

  1. Give the sweet and condensed version

People don’t want to read the next great American novel when learning about your business. They would much prefer the Reader’s Digest version that highlights the most interesting, impressive and important details, while skimming over the things that are basic and obvious. Say what you need to say in the fewest words possible and carefully select those words to have the greatest impact. The “less is more” theory absolutely holds true to your marketing content. Rarely will people spend more than 7 seconds trying to understand your message if it is not clear. Keep it simple and keep their attention!

  1. Call upon personal experiences

Bring the characters of your story to life by sharing their personal experiences – both triumphs and failures. This adds that “human element” that allows your audience to connect with your story on a deeper level. Another strategy is to write the story in first person, allowing people to hear your voice and associate you as the storyteller – not some anonymous third party. Not only does this add credibility, but it shows you are involved with your business on a very personal level and your customers can expect this same level of personal attention.

  1. Focus on evoking one emotion

So often business owners want to describe their services with numbers, statistics and cold, hard facts. People don’t connect with – or remember – this approach. Instead, people remember only how you made them feel. Take control of the emotions you evoke with your storytelling by thinking strategically and planning your content appropriately. Most importantly, select just one emotion and focus the details of your story on this emotion. For some industries, humor is the most effective. For other industries it’s pity or fear. And the list goes on and on. Do your market research to see what your target audience receives well and use this as the theme that brings your entire story together.

  1. Don’t make yourself the hero

In many cases, you as the business owner will play a role in your story. You can certainly be a character, but avoid making yourself the hero. Instead, focus on the people or the lesson. Speak directly to your target audience with your story by making it conversational and asking rhetorical questions. Or focus on teaching them a valuable life lesson by sharing your struggles as well as your successes as inspiration for what they might achieve. While you might very well be the hero of your story, take a backstage role and let your audience bask in the lime light.

  1. Remember your audience

Finally and most importantly, remember to whom you are telling your story. Sure, you are speaking to people, but what kind of people? Get inside their minds and figure out what makes them tick. Maybe they are tech-minded, science geeks. Speak their language! Don’t try to appeal to them with romantic, flowery language. It won’t work. For any type of marketing, you need to understand your target audience. Apply this knowledge toward how you shape your story.

Now that you have 5 strategies to keep in mind when crafting your own business’s story – take it and run with it! Tell a story that sets you apart from your competition. Tell a story that makes you relatable and likeable. Tell a story that inspires people that they can also achieve success against all odds. Let’s continue this beautiful tradition of storytelling and respect it with stories that are worth remembering for a lifetime!

How have you benefitted from the art of storytelling in your own business or personal life? Share your experiences by commenting below!


Posted by on September 29, 2014 in Business & Success, Life


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Life Lesson: 5 Ways to be Your Own Advocate


Throughout my life, I’ve learned a time or two – the hard way – that no one else is going to seize opportunities for you or voice your opinion. You must be your own advocate.

My most vivid memory of this life lesson was on the campaign trail in my former career. Our candidate was elected and the celebrations were coming to a close. Yet, one big question remained. What do I do next? Do I have a job? We were promised that, yes, we would all be placed somewhere within the new administration; however, days then weeks passed without any senior staff members sitting down with me to discuss my future.

It wasn’t until I started asking some of my peers that I found out that job conversations WERE taking place – for those who were bold enough to wait outside the office door and track down senior staff to MAKE them have this conversation. The people that controlled my fate were beyond busy and weren’t going to make time for me unless I demanded it. I had to become my own advocate if I wanted that job I was promised.

Things worked out. I was finally given the attention I demanded and got the job (I thought) I wanted. While I didn’t stay in this role long, it was a necessary turning point in my career and in my life. I was slapped in the face with the reality that if I didn’t muster up the courage to seize my own opportunities, they were surely going to pass me by.

I want to now share with you some of my hard-learned lessons on ways you can become your own advocate and seize life’s many opportunities – before someone else does.

  1. Build your personal brand

If you’re committed to becoming your own advocate, you must work to build your personal brand just as a publicist does for celebrities. This doesn’t mean securing guest appearances on the Today Show, but it does mean creating a valuable set of skills and qualities that can be marketed to potential clients or employers. Here is a great starter guide to help point you in the right direction. A strong personal brand is a valuable asset and wise investment of your time because it follows you wherever life may lead.

  1. Network internally and externally

For some reason we think of networking as only taking place at socials and mixers where everyone is wearing a stick-on name tag and shoving business cards down each other’s throats. This isn’t reality – and hardly even “networking” in its truest sense. Be aware of opportunities to network internally as well as externally.

No matter your current job, there is a valuable opportunity to build relationships with (and impress) your peers and higher-ups. This is an obvious opportunity if you want to move up within your own company, but it’s also valuable if you want to move on. You never know who other people know and the more people that can recommend your work, the more opportunities you will have at your finger tips.

  1. Actively seek opportunities

Life will rarely ever spoon feed you your next big break. You need to be out in the field – everyday – hunting down opportunities. The people I know who are their own best advocates are the people who get aggressive about knowing all the opportunities that are available to them at any time. They may not be in search of a new job, but they still keep their ear to the ground for anything interesting going on. By the time you realize you’re ready for a career change, you’re already behind the curve. Stay connected on social media, inquire within companies that interest you and keep an open conversation with your peers – who should also be on the hunt!

  1. Stay educated

I can’t stress enough the importance of becoming a lifelong learner. This makes you well-rounded, knowledgeable and interesting. It also keeps your eyes and ears wide open to an array of opportunities that people who are less informed would overlook. Staying well educated is like staying in shape. If you should be presented with the opportunity to run a 5k – or interview for a job – you are fit to jump right in with far less preparation and training than those who do not “stay in shape.”

  1. The right time is always now

Finally, develop a sense of urgency in your life. As your own advocate you cannot become complacent. This is one instance in life where patience will not serve you well. You cannot afford to wait around for the next opportunity to present itself; otherwise you will risk falling into the trap of waiting around forever. Opportunities are always around us. While not every opportunity is a large stepping stone to our dream career, those tiny pebbles do stack up. Get excited, get motivated and become urgent about your need to advocate for your best interests.

What are some ways in which you could benefit from being your own advocate? Share your experiences by commenting below!


Posted by on September 8, 2014 in Business & Success, Life


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