Category Archives for Blog

Simplifying Social Media with Ellen McDowell the Social Butterfly

To watch the interview, press the forward facing triangle in the center of the image above. 

To listen to the interviewclick this link and the audio recording will open in a new browser window. 

To download the audio recording to your device so you can listen later, right click this link, choose Save As, and navigate to where you want to save it for later. 

Some of the links below may be affiliate links. That means if you click through and make a purchase I may make a small commission as a thank you. It doesn’t impact the price you pay. It’s my way of generating gas money for my long trips back home to South Jersey. 

 

Show Notes

Welcome to the Courageous Entrepreneur Show. This is the show that shares information and inspiration to help you break free from self-doubt, limiting beliefs, and disempowering patterns and break through to create the thriving, successful business you dream of and deserve.

The show features interviews with entrepreneurs who’ve overcome amazing challenges to create success on their terms and experts who share insight and practical information to help you move forward with courage, confidence, and clarity so you, the introverted, mission-driven entrepreneur, consistently reach your biggest goals.

As a solo professional or microfirm owner I’m sure you’re always looking for ways to get your message out easier, faster, and to a bigger audience. Of course that means we’re turning to social networking and social media.

Caucasian woman, headshot, Ellen McDowell, social media trainerIn this episode of the courageous entrepreneur show Ellen McDowell, the social butterfly, dispels some myths, simplifies things, and helps you get your head around what you should post and where to post.

Ellen is teacher, trainer, and lover of tech and wine. She specializes in teaching small business owners how to get their message out using social networking and social media tools.

Ellen is an honors graduate from the University of Georgia where she received her masters degree in historic preservation. She also holds several certifications including Constant Contact solution provider, and SCORE mentor.

She lives in the Baton Rouge Louisiana region and is an LSU superfan.

Remember my guests and I aren’t giving you specific business advice. The information we’re sharing is for educational and entertainment purposes only. If you need help be sure to seek out a trained professional whether it’s a financial advisor, tax professional, business building expert, or healthcare provider.

Listen in as Ellen shares:

  • How her work found her rather than the other way around
  • The difference between social media and social networking
  • The one thing you need to do on every social site
  • The kind of posts you should share
  • How to figure out which platforms to focus on
  • Why sharing bits of our personal lives is actually important and how to decide what to share
  • How to decide when you need help with your social presence and social content
  • And What to consider when hiring someone for that role

As always, listen all the way to the end where I’ll share your cocktail exercise and action step for this episode.

Guest Contact Information

Ellen’s website 

YouTube channel 

Elen’s LinkedIn Profile 

Ellen’s FB page 

Ellen on Twitter 

Ellen on Insta 

 

Related Episodes

Here are past episodes that relate to this episode. I thought you might find them helpful.

Click on the link to open the recording in a new window / tab and play it on your device. You can also save it to listen at your leisure by taking the following steps:

  • Rright click the link (on a PC)
  • Choose Save As
  • Navigate to where you want to save it
  • Name it something you’ll remember
  • Click Enter or Save

Tips for an Effective Social Media Strategy with Leslie Horn Trossett 

Episodes from the Let’s Talk Tech show

My first podcast was called Let’s Talk Tech. It’s mission was to demystify the software, systems, and apps needed to run and grow a profitable business and leverage the Internet.

I no longer create new content for that show but it’s still live on iTunes / Apple Podcasts. Much of the content is still relevant because I focused on making the show as evergreen as possible.

You can click on the links to listen right now or follow the instructions above to download them for later.

Social posting with Laura Roerden, founder and CEO of posting tool Edgar 

Get out of social media overwhelm with networking and LinkedIn expert Wendy Terwelp

Want More Practical Information on Growing a Solo Business? Especially if You’re an Introvert?

Like what you see and hear on The Courageous Entrepreneur? Get access to all the episodes from past seasons as well as bonus content when you sign up for The Vault.

You’ll get episodes emailed to you when they’re released along with articles, tips, and information to help you get the courage, confidence, and clarity you need to get your business to the next level of success.

Join the Courageous Success Community

Are you an introverted, mission-driven coach, consultant, or other service professional with a big message and big mission to change the world? Are you ready to stand out and step up as a thought leader in your industry segment and to your target audience?

If you want support to help you stay focused on your core goals along with information, tips, resources, and training to help you be seen as the go-to expert you are, then join my Facebook group, The Courageous Success Community.

Common Mistakes Made Starting a Business Going from Employee to Entrepreneur

To watch the interview, press the forward facing triangle in the center of the image above. 

To listen to the interviewclick this link and the audio recording will open in a new browser window. 

To download the audio recording to your device so you can listen later, right click this link, choose Save As, and navigate to where you want to save it for later. 

Some of the links below may be affiliate links. That means if you click through and make a purchase I may make a small commission as a thank you. It doesn’t impact the price you pay. It’s my way of generating gas money for my long trips back home to South Jersey. 

 

 

Welcome to the Courageous Entrepreneur Show. This is the show that shares information and inspiration to help you break free from self-doubt, limiting beliefs, and disempowering patterns and break through to create the thriving, successful business you dream of and deserve.

The show features interviews with entrepreneurs who’ve overcome amazing challenges to create success on their terms and experts who share insight and practical information to help you move forward with courage, confidence, and clarity so you – the introverted, mission-driven entrepreneur — consistently reach your biggest goals.

If you like what you hear I hope you’ll share the show with others.

You can access episodes from every season of the show along with bonus material by becoming a fan of the show at CouragePodcastFan.com and signing up to access “The Vault”.

SHOW NOTES

If you feel as though you’ve worked hard to get your coaching, consulting, training, or healing business off the ground but have found yourself nowhere near the success level you dreamed of or if you’re starting to feel the entrepreneurial itch and you dream of going out on your own and making a big impact and big income but you’re wondering if you’ve got what it takes to create the success you dream of and deserve, then you’ll be glad you tuned into this episode.

Deb Boulanger is a success mentor for women leaders who want the courage and confidence to make bold moves in their life and career.

She is also founder of the Launch Lab for Women Entrepreneurs – a 12 week virtual accelerator for women making the leap from corporate leader to successful entrepreneur.

Deb spent the majority of her corporate career with Gartner, Inc. where she was responsible for developing the concepts for several of the company’s key products.

In her last position she launched and grew a new service offering to $32M in just over 2 years.

She’s passionate about translating the exact principles that work in the corporate world to entrepreneurs who are launching their businesses.

Deb is based in Sag Harbor, NY where she shares her love of the ocean with her life partner and her son who is a junior at the University of Michigan – “Go Blue!”

Remember my guests and I aren’t giving you specific business advice. The information we’re sharing is for educational and entertainment purposes only. If you need help be sure to seek out a trained professional whether it’s a financial advisor, business advisor, tax professional, or healthcare provider.

Listen in as Deb and I discuss:

  • What drives us to start our businesses and how we end up with the opposite of what we want
  • The amount of money she thinks you should reasonably expect to invest in launching and growing your business
  • The common mistakes corporate escapees make with the money they invest in their startups and where they should invest instead
  • Why your reputation isn’t enough to launch your business and the two things you need to focus on
  • The two biggest mistakes she sees people make – I’ll bet you’ve made or are making at least one of them.
  • What you need to stop hiding behind and stop spending money on
  • The 10K investment she made in her own training as an entrepreneur that’s still paying dividends
  • Why you often need a coach and a community to make the advances you dream of.

As always, listen all the way to the end where I’ll share your cocktail exercise and action step for this episode.

Guest Contact Information:

Take Deb’s free quiz to find out if you’re entrepreneur material

Checkout Deb’s Launch Lab Accelerator

Connect with Deb on Social Media:

LinkedIn

Facebook

Twitter

Resources:

Get the worksheet with questions to ask yourself before you launch your business when you become a fan of the show and access “The Vault”. It includes access to the show’s past episodes in both audio and video formats along with bonus material.

Looking for a Like-Minded Community of Introverted Entrepreneurs?

Join the Courageous Success Community and receive support, encouragement, and free training and resources while you build a network of fellow introverted coaches, consultants, and other service experts.

Build Your Business Your Way with Legal Strategist ReeJade Richmond

To watch the interview, press the forward facing triangle in the center of the image above. 

To listen to the interviewclick this link and the audio recording will open in a new browser window. 

To download the audio recording to your device so you can listen later, right click this link, choose Save As, and navigate to where you want to save it for later. 

Some of the links below may be affiliate links. That means if you click through and make a purchase I may make a small commission as a thank you. It doesn’t impact the price you pay. It’s my way of generating gas money for my long trips back home to South Jersey. 

 

 

Welcome to the Courageous Entrepreneur Show. This is the show that shares information and inspiration to help you break free from self-doubt, limiting beliefs, and disempowering patterns and break through to create the thriving, successful business you dream of and deserve.

The show features interviews with entrepreneurs who’ve overcome amazing challenges to create success on their terms and experts who share insight and practical information to help you move forward with courage, confidence, and clarity so you – the introverted, mission-driven entrepreneur — consistently reach your biggest goals.

If you like what you hear I hope you’ll share the show with others.

Show notes, resources, and links for this episode are right here; but, you can head to CouragePodcastFan.com and register to become a fan of the show. You’ll get access to all of the episodes organized by season as well as by topic to make it easier for you to watch the episodes that you most care about. You’ll also find show notes, resources, and bonus content — all in one easy to navigate spot.

SHOW NOTES

If you’ve worked hard to achieve a goal and then discovered you didn’t really want what you had gotten, you’ll find a lot to relate to in this episode. Especially if you built a business around a model that made you miserable or just didn’t work for you.

ReeJade Richmond is an an acclaimed business and legal strategist who empowers women to embrace their true power bossness and turn their business into an empire. From rock-solid business structures to impenetrable contracts, she shows them how to get legal, legit, and profitable.

A first-generation college graduate, ReeJade finished law school determined to live the fairytale that every up and coming attorney dreams of. Seven figure salary. Partnership. Prestige.

ReeJade landed a position with one of the top intellectual property firms in the Detroit Metro area and quickly earned her superstar spot, working on the continued preservation of Malcom X’s and Alex Haley’s heirs legacy.

A complicated labor left her 1.3lb baby in the NICU and Reejade with complex health problems. She ended up bankrupt but risked it all to have it all. She’s committed to helping women build something big and understand all the words above the dotted line and the value of the assets that could make or break their bottom line.

Listen in as ReeJade shares:

  • The quarter life crisis she had at 25 and what she realized
  • What she finally did to get the clarity she needed
  • How she broke free from the typical attorney model to provide better service and create a more joyful life for herself
  • She shares how she built a six figure business and her thoughts on the strategic priorities we manage as entrepreneurs

As always, listen all the way to the end where I’ll share your cocktail exercise and action step for this episode.

Guest Contact Information:

Please let the guest know you heard or watched their interview on The Courageous Entrepreneur Show

Website
Facebook
LinkedIn
Insta
YouTube

 

Related Episodes:

Click the links to play the audio recording or right click and choose “save as” to download a copy to listen on your device.

From Side Hustle to Six-Figures with Ed Gandia 

The Courage to Live a Different Version of Your Dream with Jodi Harrison-Lee (a former Top 10 episode)

 

Related Blog Posts:

Business Models for Service Providers and tips for choosing the right model for you 

The 5 Frameworks That Support an Expertise-Driven Business Model

Join the Courageous Success Community

Are you an introverted, mission-driven coach, consultant, or other service professional with a big message and big mission to change the world? Are you ready to stand out and step up as a thought leader in your industry segment and to your target audience?

If you want support to help you stay focused on your core goals along with information, tips, resources, and training to help you be seen as the go-to expert you are, then join my Facebook group, The Courageous Success Community.

Become a Fan of the Show and Get More

Want an easier way to find back episodes? Want to be able to watch episodes instead of listening to them? Want access to The After Show? In that case, register to become a fan of the show and get the back episodes in both audio and video formats as well as additional resources including episodes of “the After Show” my Facebook Live video show where I take an aspect of the week’s episode and go deeper into it. Just click this link and join the fan resources area.

Summon the Courage to Be You – the right audience will embrace you

One of the nice things about living where I do (north of Niagara Falls in the last exit in the United States)…is there’s this outdoor theater in town.

The concerts are dirt cheap (they used to be free!) and we’ve seen some great shows….Geezer Rock stuff like..Foreigner…Peter Frampton….Steve Miller…RINGO!!!!

Well last night we saw The O’Jays. How fun are they? They were big when I was in high school.

What struck me by the end of the show was how NO ONE was sitting down. Everyone who COULD stand up was up and dancing in the aisles. People were dancing with random people.

You know what? People who don’t like the music the O’Jays do didn’t come.

The O’Jays didn’t sit up there and cry because there were people who didn’t come to their show.

They didn’t call a meeting to figure out how to convince and persuade those people to give them a chance and consume their music, buy their albums, listen to their message.

No.

They stood up there in their light blue suits and danced their butts off and sang their hearts out.

They didn’t sit around comparing themselves to Yes (the band who will be there next week).

Can you commit to wearing YOUR special outfit and dancing your crazy steps and singing your song at the absolute TOP of your lungs?

Can you listen to the people who LOVE you and who want to hear the same song again even though you just finished it?

Can you just be you? I know it’s hard. Being ourselves is the absolute hardest thing for most of us to do.

Even The Rock – Dwayne Johnson — says so.

It makes sense that we want to fit in and be part of a community. It’s how we were designed.

But we’ve been hurt before being ourselves.

But you know what else?

You were meant to stand out. The community YOU’RE meant to be part of is probably the one YOU’RE meant to lead.

When The O’Jays told us to sing, we sang. When they told us to dance, we danced.

So stop feeling guilty for being the strong, opinionated person you are and start singing that song and wearing that outfit and inspiring people who LONG to hear you.

And stop thinking you don’t “sing” well enough. Your audience…your community…will love it when you just do you. You give them permission to be themselves.

How to Make Faith Front and Center in Your Life and in Your Work Day

“My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for testing. Set your heart right and be steadfast, and do not be impetuous in time of calamity.” SIGH….boy is that true or what? That’s from Sirach 2. That particular book of the Old Testament may or may not be something you’re familiar with but that sentiment probably is. You’d think the opposite would be true, wouldn’t you? But I think this speaks to so many truths about life, work, and business.

When we’re in a stressful environment, we’re going to operate on auto-pilot. Just reacting unconsciously…from the established patterns we’ve developed over the years.

I spent the first third of my career in human resources…in staffing, training, and organizational development.

One of the frustrations I had was that we’d spend tens of millions of dollars on training but not provide the kind of support that course attendees needed to truly learn the subject they were taught, whether that was customer service or leadership.

When learning to apply new skills, new ways of approaching a problem, we need support as we resist and work to break our old patterns of thinking, doing, and being because unlearning and re-learning are two of the most challenging things we do.

Our “reptilian brain” kicks in and we just start to react from those ingrained patterns and deeply rooted beliefs.

So of course our faith is tested…because it FEELS like testing.

But what’s really happening is our old way of being, doing, and thinking — going along with the masses….focusing on short term and worldly gain….being more concerned about our earthly relationships rather than our spiritual relationships — is so comfortable that we instinctively revert back to it.

So what we need to do is set ourselves up for success and to make our faith easier for us to be consistent with — everywhere in our lives but especially in our work and business life.

Here’s how to do that….

1. Make God and faith first. Wake up and give a prayer of thanks to start the day. Develop other rituals that keep you focused on God. You could read morning prayer or read a scripture reading and spend some time reflecting on its application in your life.

2. Put visual cues in your work space. That’s really what the cross on the wall was for (if you grew up in a home with crosses on them…we had them in all our bedrooms). Hang a cross or some symbol of faith (could be a poster of nature or a sunset or anything that reminds you to stop and think about God). Even hang post-it’s on your monitor if that will help.

3. Take prayer breaks. You know sitting for long periods of time is deadly right? So is a lack of prayer I think  So when you take a break, just say a quick prayer of thanks….recite a favorite scripture quote….or just have a conversation with God. That’s what prayer really is to me….a chat with God.

4. Check-in when you feel yourself get stressed. Keep your Bible or other favorite spiritual book handy and open it up for a quick read. Or again,take a deep breath and turn to prayer. You want to develop the habit of turning to God rather than fuming or grabbing a piece of chocolate or whatever is your current habit of dealing with stress.

5. Make God and faith last. Every time you finish a task or project give thanks for the ability to do that work. Give credit where it’s due — to God for giving you the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the work and for sending you what you need when you need it. Say a prayer of thanks at the end of the work day and certainly as you get ready for sleep. Ask for and expect a great, restful night and ask for the wisdom to do what you need to do the next day.

The key thing is to focus on developing the habit of making faith the center of your actions and where (and who) you turn to first for support and guidance.

And if you’re as fascinated about behavior change and habit as I am, check out this great book, The Power of Habit. 

Are your actions consitently in alignment with your faith?

 

image courtesy of Pixabay.com

A few years ago I came up with “Thankful Thursday” as a way to remind myself and my connections to take a minute to reflect on and celebrate something we’re extra grateful for. There’s always something, right? And we know what we focus on expands. Well today is also Holy Thursday for those of us who follow the Christian beliefs around Easter and I saw some posts on Facebook this week that concerned me; so I feel compelled to share a few thoughts with you.

Believe me I’m not preaching here. I know I’m far from perfect.

I’ve mentioned before that this year (March 7th 2019) is the 20th anniversary of my brain injury. If surviving something that kills 60+% of the people who experience it doesn’t increase your faith then I’m not sure what will.

I spent a lot of time (and still do) wondering why I survived and wondering why I had the minimal damage I had / have considering the severity of the accident.

I had some long conversations with the Almighty and told Him I understood there were lessons I needed to learn and things He needed me to do and I was willing to do them.

This of course was before I got so frustrated with Him that I told Him to stop being mysterious and start calling me (that’s a story for another time ).

I started to get the unfortunate sense that there was some form of ministry He was calling me to. (Oh no! PLEASE not that! Funny how we say we’ll do whatever we’re called to as long as it’s not X)

I thought maybe if I got more active at church I’d be able to figure this out.

So I was helping at a fundraiser — manning the cupcake table — when 2 pillars of the church came near my table. They didn’t say anything to me or acknowledge me.

Pillar number 3 of the church came in and he asked if I needed anything. If I needed a break or water or anything.

I said no and thanked him.

sad young girl covering her face

Image by Riala from Pixabay

He left the area and as soon as he was out of ear shot, pillars one and two began talking about him…making fun of him…criticizing him…they sounded like two teenaged girls in the the high school cafeteria.

I watched and listened to them and my jaw dropped open.

Luckily my relief came at that point and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. It was like I’d been hit with a lightning bolt.

As I drove home I realized that being faithful isn’t just going to church. It’s not just reciting prayers we could say in our sleep we’ve said them so many times.

Being truly faithful means living a life of service that’s in alignment with the tenants of our faith. It’s living our lives 24-7 truly in alignment with our faith.

Our faith is challenged in all of the little moments of choice in our daily lives. Will we be kind or will we snap at someone? Will we be patient with that person in front of us at the store or will we sigh loudly and engage in passive-aggressive behavior? Will we say a prayer of thanks that there was no accident and hope the person who cut us off gets to their destination safely or will we we speed up and give them the finger?

And what about our behavior on Facebook, on other social platforms, and even on blog sites? Will we choose kindness and patience, working to understand others actions and motives — always assuming that someone is coming from a good place or maybe an uninformed place — or will we strike out with judgment and even hate?

It was in that moment at the church fundraiser that I suddenly realized so many things about Jesus and faith.

It’s not about the rules. It’s not about what you do on the Sabbath. It’s not about what you eat and when you eat it or anything else.

It’s about Love.

We’re made in God’s image. The image of love.

“Love thy neighbor as yourself” is one of the “two great commandments. “

It’s not about romantic love. It’s about compassion. Compassion for others and also compassion for ourselves.

A friend of mine is going through something truly horrible on Facebook right now. Lawyers are involved. It’s stressful. It’s ugly.

I’ve seen people make hateful comments to others over political beliefs and I’m sure you have too.

We’ve seen people cheat, lie, and bribe to get their kids into school.

So on this day of all days as we move into the holiest of time in the church calendar, please ask yourself what you could do to bring your life more into alignment with your faith, beliefs, and values. And what more could you do to become more Christ-like? Because whether you consider yourself Christian or not, there’s probably some element of Jesus’ life and teachings that you (that we all) can learn from and admire.

BTW, I wrote a book after that experience at my church. It’s called Faith From 9 to 5. I’m writing this and wondering now if maybe it’s time for the sequel?

Have a reflective Holy Thursday and long Easter (or Passover) weekend.

sunset three crosses

How to Put More of the Real You Into Your Marketing to Attract Great Clients and Opportunities

One of the common themes you hear repeatedly about marketing is the need to be “authentic”.

But how do you actually do it and why should you?

The most basic answer is because we all do business with people we know, like, and trust. And we can’t know, like, or trust someone who doesn’t share the sort of things we need in order to know, like, and trust them.

The other piece of the answer is, life is just too short to pretend to be someone you’re not.

But as corporate escapees…people who’ve spent decades working for companies…we may not fully know who we are.

It’s why it’s so important to detox from your corporate life as you begin to plan and build your business.

In this Facebook Live, I talked about how to put more YOU into your work and messaging.

You can watch the video below, head over to Facebook to watch and comment there, or you can skip down and continue reading where you’ll get the more organized version of my tips.

So how, exactly, do you add more YOU to your marketing?

Get clear on your POV and share it. I grew up in an environment where it wasn’t exactly safe to voice your opinion. It was a time when children were seen and not heard and you didn’t voice an opinion unless you were asked for it. And the one you voiced better agree with your parent’s. I grew up professionally in a similar environment.

There were times when it was ok to voice an opinion but even then, it had to be worded very carefully in order to get your colleagues or your boss to listen.

That can make voicing a strong opinion in your marketing very difficult. But in order to clearly stand out people need to know what you stand for. And while we all know there are lots of shades of grey in life and business, the best brands are clear and polarizing to a degree.

Remember, marketing is as much about repelling as it is about attracting.

Know what you want to be known for then work to be known for it. Do you want to be known for always being on the cutting edge? Then you better communicate true thought leader ideas. Do you want to be known as a straight-shooter? Then don’t mince words and recognize some people aren’t going to want to hear that.

Create branded content. Branding is all about being easy to remember and about making a promise to the marketplace.  The goal with branded content is to become known around a language, a system, etc. It makes it easy for you to begin to be known for that specific thing. My content gets branded around the concept of courage. That also makes it easier to come up with visuals that support the messaging.

cartoon guy busting out of the page

Images courtesy of Pixabay and 3dman_eu

On Facebook, my posts almost always include a picture of this little cartoon guy. That helps me build a brand image so when people spot that guy in their feed, at a glance they know it’s me.

Bring things you love into your content whenever possible. My cats often pop into my videos, I make movie and Sherlock references in my posts, and when I do videos at my desk you can see items behind me that support my branding. My little stuffed lion….my violin (which is part of my Sherlock collection)…and sometimes you can see my Sherlock figurine and Sherlock teddy bear. Now that I’m doing videos in other parts of my house as well as outside (when my stupid wifi works) you’ll see my garden and other things important to me. And did I mention my cats? 🙂

Sherlock Holmes memorabilia

Share your story. I know how hard this is. I’m a very private person and an introvert. But people really do want to know how you got where you are and they want to know what you wrestle with. Think of it this way — we want diet tips from Jennifer Hudson. We want to hear from someone who struggled and made it, not from someone who appears perfect and can make us feel like we’ll never be anywhere near where she is.

So share your mistakes….what was hard for you…and what drives you. Tell stories! Those are the things that really raise your KLT-Q — your Know-Like-Trust Quotient.

People want and need to connect emotionally as well as cognitively with you.

Embrace your quirkiness. I take pictures of my crazy socks. I’m a crazy cat lady and proud of it. I’m from Jersey and have giant coffee mugs with the State on them. I know what it’s like to be afraid of showing that stuff. But remember this:  fear is just a memory. You’ve already been rejected…your feelings have been hurt….so you’re just anticipating that happening again. This is why it’s so important for you to have a clear POV and share it. When you do, you repel people who aren’t interested and you attract people who love you BECAUSE you’re quirky.

 

 

 

 

 

Get a color palette. One of the easiest things to do is get a color palette created. You don’t need a logo (yet anyway) but a color palette helps you create a unified, attractive message and visual identity. Be sure to invest with a good designer who truly understands branding. It’s unlikely you’ll find someone like that on Fiverr.

Finally, take some risks. On the anniversary of my car accident, I shared a very long post on Facebook. (I published it here too) I talked about my long recovery and how emotionally painful it was for me.  That post got amazing engagement — more than 90 reactions, dozens of comments, and I had 20+ people ask to join my Facebook group, the Courageous Success Community.

If you’re looking to really have your marketing efforts pay off, no matter what type of content you create or where you share it, you’ve got to bring more YOU into your message so you attract more great clients and opportunities and do it faster.

On the 20th Anniversary of the Greatest Gift I ever Got

20 years ago today (March 7th) I pulled out of my driveway to go to the gym and then stop by my office to do some straightening up. The next thing I knew I was conscious of a strange noise in my left ear. It was the sound of the EMT cutting open the jacket I was wearing.

I told him to stop it, because it was my favorite one.

I then lost consciousness again.

I had survived a car accident.

I spent the next week in the hospital in and out of consciousness and have very few memories of that time.

I do know I struggled to control my emotions.

The rare times when I was in conversation with anyone I struggled to follow what they were saying. I struggled to not compulsively repeat myself over and over and over.

I struggled to not sound angry and to not start crying.

I couldn’t hear very well. I complained about my double vision so much that I had two….MRIs?….CT scans?….I can’t remember what it was; but I remember being wheeled away and stuck in some contraption so doctors could figure out what was going on inside my head.

The day of my release, the doctor – who never looked me in the face while he talked to me – told me I had a brain injury and what I was now was the best I would ever be.

I couldn’t tie my shoes. Couldn’t remember the honeymoon we’d been on just six months earlier.

I couldn’t see right. I couldn’t hear well. And I had lost sensation in most of my face including my mouth and gums.

When I walked, I had to stay close to the wall because I was afraid I’d fall over.

I was 36. I had been married for 6 months. 10 months prior to the accident I had graduated in the top 10% of the class when I got my Master’s degree in HR. I had been promoted 3 times in 18 months and was about to be promoted again from Director of HR and Chapter Operations at the nonprofit where I worked to Assistant Executive Director.

I spent the next week at home. Sleeping.

Each time I woke up I had a hard time processing what had happened to me.

I looked fine. Why didn’t my eyes work anymore? When people saw me they would either ask me what was wrong with them or they’d look over their shoulder thinking I wasn’t looking at them.

I went back to work.

I thought just needed to get back to a routine. Back to doing what I knew I was good at. But I struggled to do the smallest task. I couldn’t control my emotions and of course people didn’t understand I wasn’t the same because I didn’t understand it either.

And I looked so normal.

Then the migraines started.

They’d last for most days of the week. Every week.

Sleep was the only way to get relief.

After about a month more of my unusual behavior and inability to function my husband insisted I see our family doctor.

My doctor took charge of my care and explained that getting well had just become my full time job.

FINALLY. Validation that there was something wrong and some hope that I could fix it.

I saw a physical therapist to regain my balance and learn to deal with the loss of much of my depth perception. Many TBI survivors continue to reinjure themselves because of their issues. I hit my head on the trunk of my car twice. I fell down the stairs of my deck.

I saw a psychologist to deal with the fact that I had suddenly become a disabled person and to work to learn how to control my deep frustration with my issues and to relearn how to control my emotions (for me, this has been the hardest and most shame-inducing “scar” since I had always prided myself on self-control…the calm in the center of any storm).

I saw a neurologist to try to solve the nerve, hearing, and vision problems in my head. But it was my home town eye doctor who came up with a solution of sorts to the vision problem.

Lasik surgery in one eye created mono vision where one eye sees distance and the other eye handles up close. But I had to wear an eye patch for months before I took that chance and I was shocked at how people treated me when I wore it.

The reactions were occasionally funny — like the cashier who yelled out how much I owed her. As if not being able to see out of one eye also meant I was deaf.

But most of the time people made very hurtful comments. I assume that was because they thought I couldn’t hear either, even though I was less than a foot away.

Finally I was referred to an occupational therapist who specialized in treating the brain injured.

It was the hardest, most frustrating 6 months of my life.

There were times I’d be late to my appointment because I couldn’t remember how to get there even though I had been there less than 48 hours before.

If anyone had seen what we were doing for hours at a time they’d think we were “just” playing video games.

But I was working to retrieve the skills that that had gotten jumbled up inside the filing cabinet in my head.

I couldn’t add one column of three single-digit numbers.

There were times when I would burst into tears from shear frustration.

“You HAVE to do this” my OT would say. “THIS is what’s going to get you back to where you were. THIS is going to get you back to the YOU that you remember being.”

That’s what kept me going. Hope and someone who believed in me…who believed she could help me.

THAT and the determination that this wouldn’t trap me. It wouldn’t define me.

My family didn’t understand what was going on or why I wasn’t the same.

I understand that it hurt them to think of me in pain or suffering emotionally and not being able to help me.

It hurt me that I couldn’t talk to them about what I was going through.

I looked so normal.

And when friends saw me – people who I had worked with and known for years — I had a hard time remembering their names.

They didn’t really want to hear how I was. They didn’t want to know I was in physical pain or that I was sad and depressed.

Most people say “how are you?” as a sort of extension of their greeting hello. They don’t truly mean it. And if you mention something you’re struggling with they’ll try to minimize it what you’re experiencing by laughing off their own forgetfulness or struggle with words.

I knew they meant well and were uncomfortable thinking about what I had experienced and what I was going through.

But it still hurt.

As I worked to get better, colleagues who heard about my accident and recovery began calling me asking if I was well enough to do a small project for them.

It might have seemed small to them but it meant the world to me.

Suddenly I had validation that I was worth something. That I wasn’t useless. That I still had skills that mattered.

One project lead to another and the projects got bigger.

People often ask me what kept me going during the recovery (which is never really over….TBI is a lifetime of adjustment and work to develop new strategies to bring me ever closer to my former self).

In a word….faith.

The definition of faith is belief in that which is yet unseen.

Faith is built on trust.

I believe you play the hand you’re dealt as best you can. We can’t afford to give in to the sadness that can easily seep in and overwhelm us.

I also believe that because God created the world in balance – every back has a front, each season is needed for the others – this had to have happened to me for a reason or reasons and it was up to me to use it for something positive…or something negative.

I also had to give myself a break and have faith in myself. I had to trust that I could do this. I could recover.

I had to stop focusing on what I struggled to do or what I couldn’t do (yet). Instead I had to be so grateful for what I was still able to do – write and teach.

I had to learn to give myself what I was known to give others:  compassion. To be kind to myself.

That was especially hard because what I was forced to realize was I couldn’t be kind to myself since I actually LOATHED myself.

I had to admit that all of the degrees I chased and the jobs and promotions had simply been a way to get outside validation that I was a good person….a smart person….a deserving person…a worthwhile person.

See, as my brain worked to re-organize the memories stored in my mental file cabinet, all sorts of awful memories stored away in the banker’s boxes of my head came tumbling out.

As the early years of my TBI recovery passed and I struggled with marketing myself as a solo professional and taking action to do the things I knew would lead to business for me (things I could easily tell others to do), I had a colossal epiphany, which was this:

The behavior patterns and strategies I had developed over the course of my life that had led me to be a good student and a successful employee were now actively holding me back. And I knew I HAD to break free from those disempowering patterns I developed that yes, had helped me survive and even thrive in those environments but now actively held me back.

Things like perfectionism….not rocking the boat….people pleasing (which was actually an extreme attempt for love and acceptance)….workaholism (which for me was driven by a combination of fear and wanting to be seen as good and valuable).

So on top of dealing with my ongoing brain injury I had to heal from the emotional trauma I had experienced growing up as a child, living in a house with abusive parents. I had to heal from the emotional trauma I experienced working for abusive bosses.

I had to become a student of mental health. I had to take my knowledge of behavior and motivation much deeper in order to recover from my newly rediscovered emotional wounds, just as I had to relearn how to learn as I recovered from my physical wounds.

I share all this because whether you’ve experienced something traumatic like I have or you’ve “just” experienced the slings and arrows of everyday traumas – little wounds that overtime become deep, painful aches that you try to hide — each wound you experience or obstacle you face is an opportunity to grow in a new direction. It’s an opportunity to shed beliefs…stories… that you’ve become attached to but no longer serve you.

Some people decide the pain of change isn’t worth it. They believe THEY’RE not worth it.

Don’t let that be you.

Promise yourself that you’ll step up and create #CourageousSuccess for yourself.

PS. If you or someone you know recognizes that fear is getting in their way and they’re ready to get help to break free then please know you’re welcome in my Facebook Group, Courageous Success. You can ask to join here:https://www.facebook.com/groups/2104151309834011/

Signs and Symbols of the Christmas Season and the Messages They Send

Christmas Tree with Merry Christmas message, characters, and gifts

Image courtesy of 3dman_eu via Pixabay.com

The Christmas holiday season is full of beautiful and traditional sights and sounds that warm our hearts and remind us of an element of the origins of the holiday.

As I was making last-minute preparations for the holiday with Lou and our three cats, Posey, Dexter, and Teddy I started to think about how so many of the traditional symbols of Christmas are symbolic for us as entrepreneurs and solo professionals.

Decorated Trees – While there are two basic categories – fresh cut and artificial – each tree is as unique as its owner. Color, decorations, size, and type are just a few of the differences. And with an added elements of creativity and ingenuity, you can create a tree as distinct as you are.

So remember, there may be many others who are in your general category – coach, consultant, healer, or creative – there’s only one you. Your job is to stand up tall, clearly stand out, and be you. You’ll attract those who want to take a closer look.

Lights – There are differing beliefs around the history of using lights at Christmas.It’s hard to know exactly why we use lights other than it’s a tradition. One of course is that lights are reminders of “the reason for the season” – the birth of Jesus who is often described as the light that was born into the world.

One story traces the origin of electric lights on a Christmas tree to Edward Johnson who was an enterprising assistant of Thomas Edison looking for ways to capitalize on the invention of the lightbulb and the fairly recent tradition of putting up a tree for Christmas.

I think it’s our job to be a beacon to others. As leaders we light the way for those we guide. You may be uncomfortable with your light and concerned about it shining too brightly for fear of overwhelming or outshining others. Don’t be. You’ve been chosen to shine so others may find you. Don’t dim your light but let it shine brightly and be sure to never let it go out. And don’t be afraid to twinkle ?

Snow flakes – yet another reminder that with billions of people on the planet and millions of professionals doing work like yours, there’s only one you. Delicate and beautiful.

Presents – This is another tradition that has different beliefs attached to it. There’s the origin story of Saint Nicholas who is said to have given gifts to less well-off families with young girls. This allowed the family to have some sort of dowry which helped their prospects for marriage and saved them from a life of prostitution.

Then there’s the purely commercial story that as advertising grew, it fed the commercialization of the holiday. No matter what the truth (and of course it’s probably a combination of many things) about the origin of Christmas gift-giving, you were given a set of gifts – talents, skills, and strengths – that are yours to package and to give to others to enrich their lives.

Leo Buscaglia, one of my favorite philosophers, is credited with saying “Your talents are God’s gift to you. What you do with them is your gift to God.” It’s easy to get caught up in doubt and fears over your gifts wondering if your gifts a re good enough…comparing your gifts to others.

Remember, your gifts are just what your targeted recipient wants and needs. If you don’t share that gift their life will never be complete.

No matter how you celebrate the day, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to remember that you were given to the world as a truly unique gift meant to be shared with others as the blessing you are.

 

Top 10 Episodes from Calendar Year 2018

A big thank you to my fabulous show guests for being their authentic selves and a hug to everyone who’s watched, downloaded, listened to, and subscribed to The Courageous Entrepreneur Show.
Here are links to the audio versions of the top 10 episodes from the 2018 calendar year. These are listed in order of download — and there was a tie!
 
1. Living a Different Version of Your Dream — featuring Jodi Harrison Lee http://bit.ly/2RiGj9x
 
2. Career Reinvention — From Science to Publishing featuring Susan Ordona http://bit.ly/2EXTDtX
 
3. Becoming an Intentional Networker featuring Patti DeNucci http://bit.ly/2Rooe9N
 
4. Get Known Faster featuring Dr. Letitia Wright http://bit.ly/2Qg74GM
 
5. The BS of MS featuring Lisa Cohen http://bit.ly/2QYaEuo
 
6. Success No Matter What featuring Scott Chesney http://bit.ly/2LFLElY
 
7. Creating a Social Media Strategy that Works featuring Leslie Horn Trosset http://bit.ly/2ApXrjK
 
8. Open Yourself to Abundance featuring Nat Courompitree http://bit.ly/2R3y3e0
 
9. Build Lifelong Client Relationships featuring Deb Brown http://bit.ly/2R1PfRd
 
(Tie) 10. Get Clients with LinkedIn featuring Tracy Enos http://bit.ly/2LILwls
 
10. Recognize Your Money Patterns featuring Robyn Crane http://bit.ly/2RtMeIE
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