What is Your Truth? (Part One)

Firstly, here's what it's not

In my acting classes at the New York Film Academy, we were often taught about embracing our inner truth. I never understood the concept. I originally thought it was just an acting thing :P My teacher was strong, loud and confident. She was sure of herself and what she liked and didn’t like. She had so many stories about her days in acting class with Bradley Cooper! She was in touch with an incredible inner “knowing” of who she was. It was a core strength of utter authenticity. Over and above her clothing, there was an X-factor. It transcended a 1 dimensional existence. It was mesmerising! It was attractive! I wanted it! As the months rolled on, I threw myself into her teachings and soon came to a total understanding of the word “truth”. It wasn’t just an acting thing, it was a human thing. I ‘got’ that if we could learn to be free in our own unique footprints, we’d be so much more victorious in every day life.

So what is “Truth”? 

IT’S NOT A BRAND

If you’re going to try and contain your inner workings, human psyche and organically fluctuating creative spirit (also known as being a human being) in a box labelled “brand”, you’ll drive yourself crazy.

When it comes to business, there are things to a brand which must be in place. They are super relevant and should be well-planned. But publisits globally have now started a trend toward extending that concept to the personal human being. To be honest, I did enjoy reading the Personal Branding for Dummies article on developing your private brand!

Personal branding has become a huge money-making realm. Coaches in it teach us to: 

- calculate every part of ourselves precisely.

- manipulate ourselves to portray a desired “angle” to the public at all times.

To me, that’s not branding. That’s a forced existence. It also opens up the can of worms of living for others. Can we be free in our own thoughts, feelings and emotions if we are living for others? All the great minds of the world tell us the exact opposite. They say to live for no one but ourselves. The commercial seed of crafting an image to suit a brand in order to succeed may be a seedling in a garden of snakes in your head where you feel you can’t be yourself. Those snakes lead to things like depression. 

IT’S NOT BOXING YOURSELF IN

Why do we have to harness the expansiveness of the human spirit to limit it to a specific way of being? 

- a logo

- a colour scheme

- a fashion style

- a haircut

- an attitude

- a music taste

- a behaviour

- a profile on a social platform

I believe in giving people the freedom to come and go as they want. I believe it’s everyone’s right to decide how they want to do stuff. I personally like innovating constantly. I believe its a good way to be effective. When we box ourselves in to do certain things, we shadow the multi-faceted prism of human nature. We run the risk of putting a blanket over our natural “glow” which changes all the time. As individuals, we aren’t a business. We have an ebb and flow of likes and dislikes. We like to change. So I see a difficulty in needing to box ourselves in, the way businesses have to.

A Brand is the “design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers.”

– Wikipedia

IT’S NATURAL DISTINCTION

We all like distinction. But we must remember that we don’t need to do any work in trying to be distinct. As humans from totally different backgrounds, countries, personal histories, families, religions and cultures, we already are distinct. We can simply stand in that. We don’t need to try harder to stand out more. We are already individual just by being here. No one else has our story.

I wouldn’t be looking at this topic if it hadn’t come up as a theme in my own life. Many people ask me about how I crafted my “brand” and I have no idea what they mean. I’ve always gone with the flow of my spirit and what it likes, when it likes it.

The whole idea of personal branding highlights the importance to me to draw the distinction between being human and being a brand. It’s my belief we should do away with the pressure of “branding” ourselves if we’re ever to live naturally and freely in the world.

We want to live naturally so we can be empowered in ourselves; so we can be happy. I think we confuse ourselves by trying to assign adjectives and labels to our being. I believe we confuse ourselves when we copy what other people are doing. Some spend hours crafting their behaviour and appearance across all their portals because they think they should. It stops being healthy when it comprimises your sanity.

IT’S YOUR OWN STYLE

I have friends who are actors, writers, designers, musicians, bloggers, models. They’re people with good talents first and foremost. They’ve started:

- dressing in a certain way to be “appealing”

- posting updates on Facebook about topics they’re not really into

- instagramming certain things

- speaking in a certain way

- tailoring their Facebook pages to be a certain “look”

There’s a part of them that feels they have to. But it sounds like a lot of effort to stage themselves for the world. Rather cultivate your own style of talking online; post about what you really like. I value the power of branding and marketing/PR strategy in the workplace. But when living as a personal entity, I see more power in authenticity. We can have many tastes and celebrate our varied preferences on a daily basis. There’s no need to label any of it, or change it to suit the world. It’s our individuality that makes us special.

At castings, I see people come in having changed their hairstyle or “look” because their agent said they must be a different “brand”. They change themselves. They try to be someone they authentically aren’t. It’s a disservice to their natural strengths, which no one else has. People can make the mistake of thinking fashion defines them. It doesn’t. You can choose to be classic and simple this week, and next week wear a scruffy sundress with messy hair. One of the constraints personal branding puts on people is to stick to a certain fashion. Fashion can hide who we really are. A lot of time can be saved when we realise we don’t need to focus too much on the tactics of branding as the world knows it in our personal capacity. Simply have a core principle – you and your tastes – and the rest is fat on the bone. 

IT’S YOUR X-FACTOR

If I think about it, let’s look at it practically. My husband one day won’t fit in to any “brand”. All I know is that the essence of his spirit will transcend what he’s wearing, what he’s driving, what music he’s listening to, how he acts, what his website looks like, what his instagram looks like, what he tweets or how popular he is on Facebook. My impression of him will be superior to all that. His business is one thing, his human-ness and personality is another. That’s his X-factor. His business needs a brand, he doesn’t. I know he will change every day. His tastes will evolve according to his truth, his fashion sense will transform over time, his values will change, his passions will vary. His simple, elegant “way of being” will fly in the face of any personal brand he meticulously crafted once. He won’t overthink his existence. And I won’t be able to put my finger on why I like him.

IT’S YOUR COMMON SENSE

Some things to me are common sense, not brand buzzwords. Things like:

- Be authentic

- Treat others with respect

- Stand out in your own way 

I also believe we all know these things on a instinctive level. There’s a deep X-factor which is all of you that you cannot force or change. You can try to dress it up or manipulate it to stick to an “angle”, but that wouldn’t be truth. That wouldn’t be your common sense. 

IT’S CHANGING EVERY DAY

When you put labels on yourself, you create a need to be loyal to “consistency” which brand building entails. This is pressure. As human beings, we are naturally inconsistent. Things are happening to us every day which shape how we think and how we do things. What I feel today will be different to what I feel tomorrow. To force yourself to be the same all the time could be suffocating. To force others to be the same is also suffocating. That’s a huge disservice to the mind. We should all give ourselves equal permission to flourish.

When you agree to trust and surrender to who you really are on a daily basis, you’ll have a deep contentment. You’ll stop needing to control yourself or others. Business is the only thing that needs a “spin” on it.

Truth begins with knowing who you are this morning and that you will grow and adapt by sunset. It’s enjoying your personal way of being and of doing. It’s not trying to understand it, it’s going with the flow of it. It’s being proud of it. My teacher knew that.

- It’s Not a Brand

- It’s Not Boxing Yourself In

- It’s Natural Distinction

- It’s Your Own Style

- It’s Your X-Factor

- It’s Your Common Sense

- It’s Changing Every Day

My teacher embraced these things. As a result, she was whole. It made her energy irresistable. 

Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment.

- Rumi

Photo: Death to the Stock

Finding Your Voice Online

Finding Your Voice Online - Embrace you! Find out how to Communicate that Truthfully that Online

Imagine you were an astronaut catapulted into space on a rocket (bear with me). You were told you were chosen for an extra-special mission and would only return to earth in 3 lifetimes – over a century. Now the time has come for you to arrive back on your home planet. You land once again on earth. You are set free and told to integrate back into society. You visit your old house – now changed and inhabited by a completely new family. You visit the house of every person you ever cared about. Not too surprisingly, you learn they’re all dead. Everyone you once knew and loved is gone. You remain. What’s left?

Their digital footprints.

I’m no computer whiz but I’m sure the Internet will still be around in over 100 years and perhaps more advanced, who knows. The point is, their digital footprints will still be online and accessible. 

Unlike our space story, though, you won’t be here in over 100 years. But your virtual footprint will be. A cyber record of your existence will be archived somewhere. So wouldn’t you agree it’s pretty important that it’s a real and accurate reflection of who you really are? 

When you launch your online platforms, know that your presence on here is eternal (until further notice, anyway). The way you carve out who you are online is a big responsibility and not to be taken too lightly. It has rammifications if used recklessly and has the “forever” label on it. You want to make sure that it’s not only accurate but as true a portrait of you as possible. That way, you can really stand by everything you’ve ever posted or said. And, if something happened to you, you could die knowing that it was your total truth, through and through. 

Speak like you do in real life, online.

Communicate to your virtual audience in the same way as you would talk to the one person in the world who you feel most comfortable with. Why? Because that’s who you really are. That’s the way you talk, those are the things you say. So just type in the same way you would talk to this person in real life and that is your “voice” online.

Find a comfortable way of writing to communicate your thoughts online.

What things interest you? What things make you smile? What do you really think/value/believe in/feel? What do you find amusing or not so amusing? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google+ and the countless other realms are only conduits for you to reflect your inner spirit in a cyber realm. There’s no one else like you! Embrace that. You surely want the expression of you across all your platforms to be accurate, don’t you? That way there’s no mixed signals with the people you care about. On top of writing about your interests, you need to write so people won’t get bored.

How to write with ease and make your posts effective:

  1. Use simple language 
  2. Use short sentences 
  3. Use bullet points
  4. Use metaphors 
  5. Write many drafts of your article/status updates/posts before publishing them
  6. Use photos
  7. Practice using your “voice” in everyday stuff. Really look at how you write text messages, respond to comments on public platforms and in e-mails. Get to know how you express yourself and keep it congruent with your online platforms
  8. Respond kindly to all comments/e-mails/tweets and virtual interactions
  9. Do regular audits of your old blog posts, status updates and posts. 
  10. Encourage your audience to approach you! 
Constantly look for inspiration.

I love Pinterest, music, other blogs and everyday things that are happening to me! I use these as catalysts for articles and updates/posts because they mean something to me and chances are they will be relevant to my audience, too. 

Keep up to date with your goals.

This involves “thinking on purpose sessions” as Joyce Meyer instructs. And wine. These are fun brainstorming sessions I would suggest having with yourself at least once a week to brainstorm new topics/angles for what your audience would like to read. 

Get up-to-speed with your field of ‘expertise’.

If your blog is topical (deals with a specific field), get up to speed on current happenings and events so you can offer something valuable and relevant to your desired audience.

Be Passionate about what you are writing about.

Because it all begins there.

Hone your intention.

Is it to help, enlighten, entertain, inform, discuss?

When using your voice online, run the “Digital Presence” Four-Way Test 

(my personal adaptation of the Rotary Four-Way Test)

1. Is it the Truth? Do you believe in what you are saying… really? Are you saying it with comfort and ease; expressing your honest personal and creative views?

2. Is it Fair to all concerned? Think about whether your audience will feel repelled or energized. Think what makes you feel repelled from other people when they post stuff. Then don’t post that kind of stuff. The aim is always to make sure your audience feels better after having read your stuff than they did before they read it (life lesson in general)

3. Will it build Goodwill & Better Friendships? Will people reading your material feel like they can comment and interact with you? Would they want to have a coffee with you in real life? 

4. Will it be Beneficial to all Concerned? Is what you are saying helpful to your audience?

Things you want to aim for with your blogging/social presence in general:

Credibility 

Your readers respect that you have a fair share of experience in life/your field and can truly give them good insight and guidance to help them.This is especially true if you’re running your blog as a business (for profit)

Authenticity 

Your readers feel you are being transparent and open with them. You are being the ‘you’ who you are in real life 

Mutual Respect 

Your readers will honour you if you honour them. They will interact with you if you take the time to respond to them and visit their portals. 

Visual Appeal 

Your readers are human beings and need to feel visually engaged in what you are writing about. Make sure to include photos and infograms (don’t know what an infogram is? I didn’t either. But now I love them. I have a collection of them on Pinterest here.) Include a couple personal pictures also so your readers feel connected with you. Keep it exciting!

Sustainability 

Don’t start something you can’t finish. Keep the creative energy flowing. Keep the content high quality and truly ‘you’. Continue sharing and embracing the beauty of others who you have learnt from. Link back!!

Humility 

Don’t post stuff to show off. Or prove to us how ‘happy’ you are. Please, spare us.

I would love to hear from you. Do you have a blog? Do you have social media platforms? Do you know who you are online? Here are my platforms, let’s connect.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/TamikaDoubell

Instagram – @misstamikajade  http://instagram.com/misstamikajade

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/TamikaDoubellLiving

Linkedin – http://www.linkedin.com/pub/tamika-doubell/3b/63a/16

Photo: Death to the Stock Photo

Blogging is Like That Awkward Crush You Have

Blogging Do's and Dont's! Play it cool... Just like with your crush;)

Blogging is like that complicated relationship you have with the guy you like. There are days when you feel completely at ease with yourself, comfortable in your skin and rooted in the beauty of your organic-ness (I made that a word). On these days, you’re inspired, stimulated and wholeheartedly engaged. You have that supernatural feeling that the world is simply equally in sync with you – all you care to do is ride its electric wave of perfect harmony. You have the overwhelming desire to be enchanting, helpful, brilliantly clever (even if this only extends to a picture you gave a good re-pin this morning) and you feel your efforts will be received with equal connect. On these days, the breath of salty sea air sweeps through the crevices of your mind. You forget all the problems you’ve ever had and you feel totally refreshed and motivated to take new, inspired action with your crush (guy or blog!). On these days (which are rare), you feel compelled to write a good article on something that appeals to you, casually coin a cute title and share it recklessly with the world. It might not even have anything whatsoever to do with your readership, but you just like it. Come hell or high water, you’re going to post it.

In the same way you feel the divine confidence on these days to find your true voice with your crush, so you find your voice with your blog article. Just as you would text him without overthinking it, so in the blog post you feel empowered to type exactly what you want with unapologetic flair.

What would I write about on these sacred days, you ask? Well, dear reader, on these days you’ll feel compelled to write about:

1. A current news story or political puff of information you feel completely authorized to write
2. A remarkable quote which you believe will change the lives of your readers as you know it
3. A fascinating travel story about a place you’ll probably never go to
4. A cute fashion collage of Selena Gomez. Or someone you’ve never met.
5. Someone else’s article. On anything. Because you just liked it.
6. An overly-verbose rant about something spiritual without having any training whatsoever in the field, but feeling like you have a doctorate in the matter.

So basically, you’ll have that supernova energy ranging through a delicious cross selection of topics that interest you today for no reason whatsoever. And you’ll post it. Even if your blog is about endangered birds. Screw it.

On these days, nothing relates and nothing has to. You’ll make a silent covenant with yourself to:

1. Fly in the face of consistency
2. Throw your ‘brand identity’ or ‘social niche’ market out the window in favour of the raw, unparalleled energy of the moment
3. Forget about putting the article into a category
4. Ignore your blogging schedule
5. Rebel against ‘the system’ as the world knows it
6. Flourish in a lavishly-sourced or creatively-written piece of art coming from your own sense of what is appealing

On those days, dear readers, I salute you!

But – and here it is – just like that complicated relationship you have with that stupid crush, there is an inevitable low.

On these days you:

1. Lose your voice
2. Feel judged
3. Feel lame
4. Feel confused
5. Feel awkward
6. Feel uninspired
7. Feel like your readers are cheating on you.

Suddenly, that verbose message to the world without caring what it thinks doesn’t seem so bewitching anymore. In fact, it seems pretty scary and overwhelming. You wish you could feel inspired. You wish you knew what to write. You don’t like your theme anymore. You don’t like your categories. You don’t like the sidebar. You wish you had more to offer. You search Pinterest for other blogs to prove to yourself why you shouldn’t have started one to begin with. Everyone’s blog is better than yours. You wonder what your voice is. You wonder if you have a voice. You have a whisky. You look through your readers Snapchat list to see who their best friends really are.

On these days, my advice to you is this:

1. Do nothing
2. Say nothing
3. Back away from the device slowly
4. Make a decision not to make a decision
5. Take a hot shower
6. Read Dr. Wayne Dyer’s “The Power of Intention”

The truth is, the biggest judge of your material is yourself. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in blogging, only your unique perspective on [insert your topic here]. What is essential and eternal, though, is that you:

1. Realise life has an ebb & flow which is not up to you to decide
2. Make a concentrated effort to develop a structured lifestyle which lends itself to healthy blogging
3. Tap into your own truth and remind yourself of your voice and what you want out of your blogging experience daily. (I recommend yoga and brainstorming sessions with lots of colour)
4. LEARN/DISCOVER/SEEK KNOWLEDGE from experts who have got valuable things to teach you about the art of creating and sustaining quality stuff online
5. Write articles in advance. Preferably as many as possible when you are surfing the creative high.
6. Look to platforms like Pinterest to inspire yourself.

The beauty of blogging is really the same as the beauty of having a crush on that guy. You know you like it. You don’t have to know why. You know it makes you happy to create, design, write, share, exchange, engage, innovate and evolve. You know it’s a work in progress and a constant stretch of all you thought you knew.

But that’s precisely what makes it exciting, appealing, intriguing, interesting and mesmerising for your readers. And that’s the key. So there’s no need to overthink it. If the feeling is in you to do it, there is a purpose for it. Trust that.

Whether you’re blogging for entertainment, personal enjoyment or for money, I do have some grown-up tips:

DO:
1. Be prepared and plan out the month of blog articles according to the angle of your blog
2. Have a skeleton outline of where you see yourself going in the next month with your content
3. Have a core principle. The rest is tactics. (I learnt that from Nelson Mandela in Richard Stengel’s book ‘Mandela’s Way: Lessons on Life’)
4. Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment
5. Research what you’re not sure of
6. Constantly audit your categories and old blog posts

DON’T:
1. Overthink it
2. Underestimate your reader’s intelligence
3. Thwart your development by not diving in to your (yes, your) creative space wholeheartedly
4. Question the theme you chose. Or your sidebar.
5. Doubt your supreme potential
6. Make the mistake of not considering intimately what you are writing, how you are helping others and what you are offering the world.

Just so you know, it’s fine if blogging makes you do goofy things. Unlike Whatsapp, you can’t see when your readers were last active. They probably didn’t notice you changed your Gravatar pic a hundred times in the last hour to get their attention ;)

Ps. My blog is 3 years old today!

Photo: Death to the Stock Photo

Top 10 Foods That Will Keep You Hydrated

healthy foods which keep you hydrated

Reblogged from Healthy Food Mind, I just loved this article on which fruits & veg keep us hydrated the most! We get thirsty very often in these hot summer days because our body is forced to cool down through perspiration. This drains significant amounts of fluid out of the organism. If you didn’t know, the thirst is a kind of an emergency alert and occurs just after the body loses more than 1% water. The best way to avoid dehydration is to regularly drink small amounts of water even when not thirsty. However, avoid ice cold water because it depletes the body. Include more vegetables, fruits and salads in your diet, which will give you more water and less calories. In this way you will hydrate your body properly and at the same time you’ll get lot of electrolytes, which are necessary for the bodily functions. Foods with high water content are cucumbers, lettuce, melons and more. Here are some foods and the percentage of water they contain:

Cucumbers: 96%
Crystal salad: 95%
Tomatoes: 94%
Peppers: 94%
Watermelon: 91%
Strawberries: 91%
Spinach: 91%
Melon: 90%
Peaches: 89%
Pineapples: 86%

To get you started, here are some genius ways to enjoy watermelon. Check out more interesting facts and cool designs on my Health Board on Pinterest ❤

watermelon ideas fruit healthy eating

6 Clever Tricks for Social Media Management

Entrepreneurship Tips for Social Media Managers in South AfricaEven if you’re the ultimate hybrid project manager/content creator and community-engager, reality is, you’ll probably develop Social Media Manager Multi-Personality Disorder (SMMMPD)* at least once in your career.

(*Totally made this up)

Reblogged from Mashable here, Kelly Meyers offers up her favourite tips for Social Media Managers everywhere. I believe it’s all about structure, time management and keeping one step ahead of the game. Social Media today is one of the best venues for marketing products and services. Why? Because humans are social by nature! It’s digital word of mouth. Most companies employ social media experts to handle their online presence, reputation, promotions and branding. It’s important to remind yourself that it’s all about keeping your client’s brand alive and relevant, as well as connecting with readers in a compelling way to cultivate a strong community around a valuable service or product. Strengthen brand awareness, extend your network, attract new audiences and engage old ones. Bottom line – get business! Bottom bottom line – get feedback! Always aim to innovate, transform, evolve and create. Build on what you’ve designed to manage your clients accounts by using the suggestions below. I believe these tips will be a great resource for you. Enjoy! And be sure to check out my Social Media Management board on Pinterest ❤

1. Pain: So many accounts, so few browsers, so slow Internet speed.

Every day, we log in to our Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr accounts, our work email, Google Drive and our internal communities, not to mention those of all our clients. We open our desktop versions of Tweetdeck, Twitter clients for Mac, Chrome for our personal accounts, Safari for our brands’ accounts and Firefox for our work accounts. Twenty minutes later, mid-tweet: not one applications is responding.

Remedy: Behold, Chrome profiles. Create as many Google Chrome profiles as you need — one for work, personal stuff and each client — and you’re free to toggle among multiple accounts at once. Each is fully customizable with account-specific bookmarks, Chrome apps, saved passwords and more. No need to use Chrome’s “Incognito” mode or multiple browsers at once.

2. Pain: You can’t find a buried document, and you keep opening the wrong version.

Your desktop is a mess, your download folder is bursting at the seams and your “organize screenshots later” folders (come on, every community manager is guilty of this) are about as useful as a junk drawer.

Remedy: Download FoundApp. Immediately. FoundApp simultaneously searches all basic file types in your folders — Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive and Gmail attachments (even the ones you never downloaded). My favorite feature is preview, which allows you to easily scroll and view each document without having to open it. (Fingers crossed that its January YouSendIt acquisition doesn’t make it another Sparrow.)

3. Pain: Photo fatigue.

Cross-posting Instagram photos to Twitter is a time-suck, and Instagram photos take up too much space on your phone. Any community manager knows that time and space are of the essence. And so is seamlessly optimizing content for each social platform.

Remedy: With IFTTT (If This Then That), you can literally put the Internet to work for you. Use one of its pre-created recipes, or make one of your own to cut down on social media cooking time. Two recipes I love: auto-publish Instagrams as Twitter pictures, and save tagged Facebook photos to Google Drive or Dropbox. IFTTT currently support 62 platforms, which means options are endless.

4. Pain: Creating an actionable to-do list just isn’t happening.

No matter how many to-do list apps we try, there is still something special a colorful Sharpie and a notebook. Many times, the action of writing solidifies memory. When you’re juggling communities for several brands, the key is how you define and prioritize each action item.

Remedy: Snag an Action Method notebook from Behance. Each page feels like a blank slate, organized just like a digital note-keeper: date, action items, project titles and even a “backburner” section. Action Method offers a digital version, but I’m sticking to pen and paper for now.

5. Pain: You can’t see your Tumblr post in the context of your brand’s custom theme before publishing.

Tumblr Primary and Secondary

Getting a true feel for a concept in social media can be challenging if you don’t display it in context. An Excel sheet full of pasted images and suggested copy just doesn’t have the same effect as the real thing.

Remedy: For Tumblr, try creating a secondary password-protected blog under your account, using the custom theme code from your actual blog. This way, you can use it to test posts internally and easily send around to your teammates for feedback.

6. Pain: Taking and saving screenshots of everything.

If your client hasn’t yet requested, you do it anyway: screenshot everything awesome or horrible on social media that you see. After all, it could disappear moments later. But organizing, archiving and annotating these screenshots isn’t easy.

Remedy: Skitch, now a part of Evernote, is the greatest screenshot tool you will ever use. It’s a departure from those “Print Screen” keyboard shortcuts you’ve grown accustomed to, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s worth it. You can store screenshots in Evernote, tag, categorize, share, edit and annotate. Skitch is the best way to annotate anything else you keep in Evernote, too.

jmg-software-social-media-management

 

25 Common Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship South Africa

Reblogged from Entrepreneur.com here, I just love this! Enjoy and scoot on over to my Entrepreneurship board on Pinterest for more inspiring designs :)

1. Do what you enjoy.

What you get out of your business in the form of personal satisfaction, financial gain, stability and enjoyment will be the sum of what you put into your business. So if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, in all likelihood it’s safe to assume that will be reflected in the success of your business–or subsequent lack of success. In fact, if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, chances are you won’t succeed.

2. Take what you do seriously.

You cannot expect to be effective and successful in business unless you truly believe in your business and in the goods and services that you sell. Far too many home business owners fail to take their own businesses seriously enough, getting easily sidetracked and not staying motivated and keeping their noses to the grindstone. They also fall prey to naysayers who don’t take them seriously because they don’t work from an office building, office park, storefront, or factory. Little do these skeptics, who rain on the home business owner’s parade, know is that the number of people working from home, and making very good annual incomes, has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years.

3. Plan everything.

Planning every aspect of your home business is not only a must, but also builds habits that every home business owner should develop, implement, and maintain. The act of business planning is so important because it requires you to analyze each business situation, research and compile data, and make conclusions based mainly on the facts as revealed through the research. Business planning also serves a second function, which is having your goals and how you will achieve them, on paper. You can use the plan that you create both as map to take you from point A to Z and as a yardstick to measure the success of each individual plan or segment within the plan.

4. Manage money wisely.

The lifeblood of any business enterprise is cash flow. You need it to buy inventory, pay for services, promote and market your business, repair and replace tools and equipment, and pay yourself so that you can continue to work. Therefore, all home business owners must become wise money managers to ensure that the cash keeps flowing and the bills get paid. There are two aspects to wise money management.

  1. The money you receive from clients in exchange for your goods and services you provide (income)
  2. The money you spend on inventory, supplies, wages and other items required to keep your business operating. (expenses)

5. Ask for the sale.

A home business entrepreneur must always remember that marketing, advertising, or promotional activities are completely worthless, regardless of how clever, expensive, or perfectly targeted they are, unless one simple thing is accomplished–ask for the sale. This is not to say that being a great salesperson, advertising copywriting whiz or a public relations specialist isn’t a tremendous asset to your business. However, all of these skills will be for naught if you do not actively ask people to buy what you are selling.

6. Remember it’s all about the customer.

Your home business is not about the products or services that you sell. Your home business is not about the prices that you charge for your goods and services. Your home business is not about your competition and how to beat them. Your business is all about your customers, or clients, period. After all, your customers are the people that will ultimately decide if your business goes boom or bust. Everything you do in business must be customer focused, including your policies, warranties, payment options, operating hours, presentations, advertising and promotional campaigns and website. In addition, you must know who your customers are inside out and upside down.

Related: Keeping Your Customers Satisfied — It’s All in the Details

7. Become a shameless self-promoter (without becoming obnoxious).

One of the greatest myths about personal or business success is that eventually your business, personal abilities, products or services will get discovered and be embraced by the masses that will beat a path to your door to buy what you are selling. But how can this happen if no one knows who you are, what you sell and why they should be buying?

Self-promotion is one of the most beneficial, yet most underutilized, marketing tools that the majority of home business owners have at their immediate disposal.

8. Project a positive business image.

You have but a passing moment to make a positive and memorable impression on people with whom you intend to do business. Home business owners must go out of their way and make a conscious effort to always project the most professional business image possible. The majority of home business owners do not have the advantage of elaborate offices or elegant storefronts and showrooms to wow prospects and impress customers. Instead, they must rely on imagination, creativity and attention to the smallest detail when creating and maintaining a professional image for their home business.

9. Get to know your customers.

One of the biggest features and often the most significant competitive edge the home based entrepreneur has over the larger competitors is the he can offer personalized attention. Call it high-tech backlash if you will, but customers are sick and tired of hearing that their information is somewhere in the computer and must be retrieved, or told to push a dozen digits to finally get to the right department only to end up with voice mail–from which they never receive a return phone call.

The home business owner can actually answer phone calls, get to know customers, provide personal attention and win over repeat business by doing so. It’s a researched fact that most business (80 percent) will come from repeat customers rather than new customers. Therefore, along with trying to draw newcomers, the more you can do to woo your regular customers, the better off you will be in the long run and personalized attention is very much appreciated and remembered in the modern high tech world.

Related: Why You Should Never Prejudge a Sales Prospect

10. Level the playing field with technology.

You should avoid getting overly caught up in the high-tech world, but you should also know how to take advantage of using it. One of the most amazing aspects of the internet is that a one or two person business operating from a basement can have a superior website to a $50 million company, and nobody knows the difference. Make sure you’re keeping up with the high-tech world as it suits your needs.. The best technology is that which helps you, not that which impresses your neighbors.

11. Build a top-notch business team.

No one person can build a successful business alone. It’s a task that requires a team that is as committed as you to the business and its success. Your business team may include family members, friends, suppliers, business alliances, employees, sub-contractors, industry and business associations, local government and the community. Of course the most important team members will be your customers or clients. Any or all may have a say in how your business will function and a stake in your business future.

Related: Why Teamwork Should Be Your No. 1 Sales Tool

12. Become known as an expert.

When you have a problem that needs to be solved, do you seek just anyone’s advice or do you seek an expert in the field to help solve your particular problem? Obviously, you want the most accurate information and assistance that you can get. You naturally seek an expert to help solve your problem. You call a plumber when the hot water tank leaks, a real estate agent when it’s time to sell your home or a dentist when you have a toothache. Therefore, it only stands to reason that the more you become known for your expertise in your business, the more people will seek you out to tap into your expertise, creating more selling and referral opportunities. In effect, becoming known as an expert is another style of prospecting for new business, just in reverse. Instead of finding new and qualified people to sell to, these people seek you out for your expertise.

13. Create a competitive advantage.

A home business must have a clearly defined unique selling proposition. This is nothing more than a fancy way of asking the vital question, “Why will people choose to do business with you or purchase your product or service instead of doing business with a competitor and buying his product or service?” In other words, what one aspect or combination of aspects is going to separate your business from your competition? Will it be better service, a longer warranty, better selection, longer business hours, more flexible payment options, lowest price, personalized service, better customer service, better return and exchange policies or a combination of several of these?

14. Invest in yourself.

Top entrepreneurs buy and read business and marketing books, magazines, reports, journals, newsletters, websites and industry publications, knowing that these resources will improve their understanding of business and marketing functions and skills. They join business associations and clubs, and they network with other skilled business people to learn their secrets of success and help define their own goals and objectives. Top entrepreneurs attend business and marketing seminars, workshops and training courses, even if they have already mastered the subject matter of the event. They do this because they know that education is an ongoing process. There are usually ways to do things better, in less time, with less effort. In short, top entrepreneurs never stop investing in the most powerful, effective and best business and marketing tool at their immediate disposal–themselves.

15. Be accessible.

We’re living in a time when we all expect our fast food lunch at the drive-thru window to be ready in mere minutes, our dry cleaning to be ready for pick-up on the same day, our money to be available at the cash machine and our pizza delivered in 30 minutes or it’s free. You see the pattern developing–you must make it as easy as you can for people to do business with you, regardless of the home business you operate.

You must remain cognizant of the fact that few people will work hard, go out of their way, or be inconvenienced just for the privilege of giving you their hard-earned money. The shoe is always on the other foot. Making it easy for people to do business with you means that you must be accessible and knowledgeable about your products and services. You must be able to provide customers with what they want, when they want it.

16. Build a rock-solid reputation.

A good reputation is unquestionably one of the home business owner’s most tangible and marketable assets. You can’t simply buy a good reputation; it’s something that you earn by honoring your promises. If you promise to have the merchandise in the customer’s hands by Wednesday, you have no excuse not to have it there. If you offer to repair something, you need to make good on your offer. Consistency in what you offer is the other key factor. If you cannot come through with the same level of service (and products) for clients on a regular basis, they have no reason to trust you . . . and without trust, you won’t have a good reputation.

17. Sell benefits.

Pushing product features is for inexperienced or wannabe entrepreneurs. Selling the benefits associated with owning and using the products and services you carry is what sales professionals worldwide focus on to create buying excitement and to sell, sell more, and sell more frequently to their customers. Your advertising, sales presentations, printed marketing materials, product packaging, website, newsletters, trade show exhibit and signage are vital. Every time and every medium used to communicate with your target audience must always be selling the benefits associated with owning your product or using your service.

18. Get involved.

Always go out of your way to get involved in the community that supports your business. You can do this in many ways, such as pitching in to help local charities or the food bank, becoming involved in organizing community events, and getting involved in local politics. You can join associations and clubs that concentrate on programs and policies designed to improve the local community. It’s a fact that people like to do business with people they know, like and respect, and with people who do things to help them as members of the community.

19. Grab attention.

Small-business owners cannot waste time, money and energy on promotional activities aimed at building awareness solely through long-term, repeated exposure. If you do, chances are you will go broke long before this goal is accomplished. Instead, every promotional activity you engage in, must put money back in your pocket so that you can continue to grab more attention and grow your business.

20. Master the art of negotiations.

The ability to negotiate effectively is unquestionably a skill that every home business owner must make every effort to master. It’s perhaps second in importance only to asking for the sale in terms of home business musts. In business, negotiation skills are used daily. Always remember that mastering the art of negotiation means that your skills are so finely tuned that you can always orchestrate a win-win situation. These win-win arrangements mean that everyone involved feels they have won, which is really the basis for building long-term and profitable business relationships.

21. Design Your workspace for success.

Carefully plan and design your home office workspace to ensure maximum personal performance and productivity and, if necessary, to project professionalism for visiting clients. If at all possible, resist the temptation to turn a corner of the living room or your bedroom into your office. Ideally, you’ll want a separate room with a door that closes to keep business activities in and family members out, at least during prime business and revenue generating hours of the day. A den, spare bedroom, basement or converted garage are all ideal candidates for your new home office. If this is not possible, you’ll have to find a means of converting a room with a partition or simply find hours to do the bulk of your work when nobody else is home.

22. Get and stay organized.

The key to staying organized is not about which type of file you have or whether you keep a stack or two of papers on your desk, but it’s about managing your business. It’s about having systems in place to do things. Therefore, you wan to establish a routine by which you can accomplish as much as possible in a given workday, whether that’s three hours for a part-time business or seven or nine hours as a full-timer. In fact, you should develop systems and routines for just about every single business activity. Small things such as creating a to-do list at the end of each business day, or for the week, will help keep you on top of important tasks to tackle. Creating a single calendar to work from, not multiple sets for individual tasks or jobs, will also ensure that jobs are completed on schedule and appointments kept. Incorporating family and personal activities into your work calendar is also critical so that you work and plan from a single calendar.

23. Take time off.

The temptation to work around the clock is very real for some home business owners. After all, you don’t have a manager telling you it’s time to go home because they can’t afford the overtime pay. Every person working from home must take time to establish a regular work schedule that includes time to stretch your legs and take lunch breaks, plus some days off and scheduled vacations. Create the schedule as soon as you have made the commitment to start a home business. Of course, your schedule will have to be flexible. You should, therefore, not fill every possible hour in the day. Give yourself a backup hour or two. All work and no play makes you burn out very fast and grumpy customer service is not what people want.

24. Limit the number of hats you wear.

It’s difficult for most business owners not to take a hands-on approach. They try to do as much as possible and tackle as many tasks as possible in their business. The ability to multitask, in fact, is a common trait shared by successful entrepreneurs. However, once in a while you have to stand back and look beyond today to determine what’s in the best interest of your business and yourself over the long run. Most highly successful entrepreneurs will tell you that from the time they started out, they knew what they were good at and what tasks to delegate to others.

25. Follow-up constantly.

Constant contact, follow-up, and follow-through with customers, prospects, and business alliances should be the mantra of every home business owner, new or established. Constant and consistent follow-up enables you to turn prospects into customers, increase the value of each sale and buying frequency from existing customers, and build stronger business relationships with suppliers and your core business team. Follow-up is especially important with your existing customer base, as the real work begins after the sale. It’s easy to sell one product or service, but it takes work to retain customers and keep them coming back.

32 Ways To Eat Quinoa

Quinoa Meals

These are some great ways to use Quinoa. I sourced this from Pinterest and re-blogged it from BuzzFeed Food. I Love it! See my Healthy Eating board on Pinterest here.

1. Quinoa, Fruit, and Nut Bars

Quinoa, Fruit, and Nut Bars

Carry these around with you for snacking and feel virtuous all day. Recipe here.

2. Nutty Cinnamon Breakfast Quinoa

Nutty Cinnamon Breakfast Quinoa

Recipe here.

3. Almond Cranberry Quinoa Cookies

Almond Cranberry Quinoa Cookies

Three words: COOKIES FOR BREAKFAST. Recipe here.

4. Hot Oat and Quinoa Cereal

Hot Oat and Quinoa Cereal

You can start this cereal the night before and have it ready to go in just a couple minutes in the morning. Recipe here.

5. Coconut, Almond, and Quinoa Breakfast Cakes

Coconut, Almond, and Quinoa Breakfast Cakes

Vegan and not about to apologize for it. Recipe here.

6. Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

Recipe here.

7. Quinoa Granola

Quinoa Granola

Recipe here.

8. Quinoa Pudding

Quinoa Pudding

Very like rice or tapioca pudding but with the MAGIC POWER of quinoa. Recipe here.

9. Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad with Soft-Boiled Eggs

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad with Soft-Boiled Eggs

All the protein a lady or gent could ever ask for. Recipe here.

10. Green Quinoa

Green Quinoa

Fresh herb paste turns the quinoa this pretty color; finish it with chopped nuts, arugula, and pepper flakes. Recipe here.

11. Quinoa, Fennel, and Pomegranate Salad

Quinoa, Fennel, and Pomegranate Salad

Observe the trademark Ottolenghi blend of colors of and textures. Recipe here.

12. Plum and Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate Dressing

Plum and Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate Dressing

Pears would be a very nice sub for plums in non-summer seasons. Recipe here.

13. Quinoa Tabbouleh

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Because bulgur is so 2007. Recipe here.

14. Sweet Potato, Craisin, and Pecan Quinoa Salad

Sweet Potato, Craisin, and Pecan Quinoa Salad

Recipe here.

15. Pomegranate, Orange, and Quinoa Salad

Pomegranate, Orange, and Quinoa Salad

Pom and quinoa are a match made in tiny crunchy spherical food heaven. Recipehere.

16. Garlic and Thyme Quinoa Patties

Garlic and Thyme Quinoa Patties

Recipe here.

17. Quinoa Cakes with Eggplant-Tomato Ragu

Quinoa Cakes with Eggplant-Tomato Ragu

Makes a nice vegetarian dinner-party main course. Recipe here.

18. Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bites

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bites

Recipe here.

19. Crispy Quinoa Sliders

Crispy Quinoa Sliders

Chickpeas, cheese, and breadcrumbs hold these cuties together. Recipe here.

20. Taterless Tots

Taterless Tots

This is either sacrilege or genius. Both? Recipe here.

21. Broccoli, Cheddar, Jalapeño, and Quinoa Fritters

Broccoli, Cheddar, Jalapeño, and Quinoa Fritters

Recipe here.

22. Cheese and Scallion Quinoa Cakes

Cheese and Scallion Quinoa Cakes

Little cubes of mozzarella melt into magical gooey cheese zones. Recipe here.

23. Veggie Fried Quinoa

Veggie Fried Quinoa

Recipe here.

24. Quinoa-Crusted Chicken with Peanut Sauce

Quinoa-Crusted Chicken with Peanut Sauce

Served here with soba noodles. Recipe here.

25. Quinoa Chili

Quinoa Chili

Recipe here.

26. Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf

Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf

Recipe here.

27. Homemade Quinoa Pasta

Homemade Quinoa Pasta

Next level. Recipe here.

28. Quinoa Kale Jambalaya

Quinoa Kale Jambalaya

Recipe here.

29. Quinoa Sushi

Quinoa Sushi

Watch your back, rice. Recipe here.

30. Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash and Quinoa

Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash and Quinoa

Big Q is a great way to add oomph to soups and stews. Recipe here.

31. Broccoli Quinoa Quesadillas

Broccoli Quinoa Quesadillas

Recipe here.

32. Spaghetti with Quinoa Meatballs

Spaghetti with Quinoa Meatballs

Neat vegetarian swap idea. Recipe here.

Awesome To-Do Travel Ideas to Add to Your Bucket List. Like, Right Now.

The "Devil's Pool" at Victoria Falls, Africa

The “Devil’s Pool” at Victoria Falls, Africa

In honour of it being “Travel Thursday”, here are just a few awesome ideas that jumped out at me from Pinterest. I personally love these ideas. There’s 83 altogether, sourced by PopSugar. These are popular experiences from all over the world which have become iconic in their own right. Check out my Travel Board on cool experiences like this which really appeal to me (and I’m certain will appeal to you, too!)

travel experiences