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It’s All Over and Beginning

“Don’t worry. It’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place.” 

That is a wonderful comforting cliché that people say so that the person in front of them does not lose their mind in the midst of their personal chaos.  The truth is if a project, business, or relationship is falling apart, it’s not falling into place. You are shedding something you do not need anymore so that you may grow…and it’s painful. There will always be things we clutch to because we think we need it to survive. In some cases this is true. However if your business has been thriving and suddenly things are falling apart or you feel stagnate, it is time for it to die and for you to begin something new.

SHOT OUT OF A CANNON

Imagine being a single parent of twin toddlers. Despite the adventure and complications of being a parent of two, work is steady, and your social life is reasonably balanced considering. Life is good. Then suddenly work becomes unstable, your twins are rotating between terrible three tantrums and sickness, and the people you thought would support you start to fade away. The friends are your clients or coworkers who had your back. Work is the structure in which you held your plans for success. And your twins are the ideas of your personal and professional life that are now falling apart. At this moment you realized that you’ve been shot out of a cannon, tossed into the air, and landed head first in the dirt leaving your body in the stance of an ostrich. You are in a dark place, vulnerable, and uncertain of what to do next.

GRIEVING

As your head is in the dirt you’ll likely process the five stages of grief.

It’s not over!

A few weeks ago I talked about burning the boat. Which is a way of saying take a chance or ‘die trying’. However, when you are not the one to light the match to your boat is unnerving and will leave you screaming ‘It’s not over!’…But it is. You will toss the water of  ‘never surrender’ and clench on to the hope that things will work out, but it’s over and you must try to let go.

How could you?! 

We all make mistakes. When you are “in the dirt” you start to reexamine things that could have possibly avoided your downfall, then the blame turns on yourself. You hate what influence you allowed to create this catastrophe. You hate that you did/did not take chances so that also led to the shattering of your dreams. So you are left with anger towards yourself and no one else.

Scraping for a chance to survive

Any entrepreneur or mother knows there is always a way out. In this second wave of denial you’ll try to scrape together anything you can to recreate a small version of the life you use to have. Every scrap of an idea or old partnership becomes suddenly useful…to no avail.

It’s really gone

After the shock, the blame, and fantasy of pulling it all back together it is time to finally put your idea of life or business to rest. Here lies the life you knew and struggled to hang on to and now you weep. You weep for the potential this great life had. You weep for the memories of accomplishment and adoration. You weep now because your head is still in the dirt and you don’t know what to do. When your existence has become synonymous with your work it is hard to say that final farewell to who you once were.

You still have to exist

After months of battling grief and having their head in the sand, the parent started to contemplate what to with their twins.  They are running circles around the buried head and the parent does not know what to do with them. Suddenly the twins grab their parent’s legs and pull as hard as they can. Eventually they pull their parent out of the dirt. The twins stare at the parent who is readjusting to the light again and trying breathe so that they can play with their children. Then the twins pulled their parent up by their hands to make them stand up. The parent stood up and looked around, then looked down at the smiling twins and began to play. The parent did not know what they were going to do with these twins (ideas) just yet. However, now they are out of the dirt, standing tall, and living with these ideas that will give them a new purpose.

When our dream life ends, it ends. There is no comforting quip that can be offered to soothe that. However when you are able to take some time and figure out what more you are capable of the business and the life will build itself.  An ostrich sticks it’s head in the sand to create a nest for the eggs then they check on their eggs every so often by sticking their head in the hole. While you’re in the dirt you are protecting the best parts of you from others and even from yourself. Do not be ashamed of being in the hole while you process what to do next. Sometimes we hold on to things because we think they can’t happen again. But they can and they will. Fly high, bury yourself, and begin again.

 

 

In the Dark: Depression Affecting Superwomen

Look at her. She is decorated head to toe in skills and success stories. Having triumphed over the embarrassing mistakes of her youth, negations of her worth, and a host of other challenges. She walks in pride with a sparkling smile and glow in her eyes. Who could challenge her wit, grace, and professionalism? Who is this go-to goddess of the industry? She is here right before you as a reflection on the screen. But…underneath this gilded shell of magnitude she trembles in the fear of not being enough. She whimpers at the thought that she is going at it alone. She wails at the thought of being unloved. Because an enemy known as darkness, sometimes sadness, sometimes overthinking, or perhaps a simple needle that pokes a hole in her gilded shell is unrelenting. An enemy others would call depression.

Depression is not as simple as sadness. Nor is it only a chemical imbalance. Sometimes it is circumstantial. Other times it is all three. As women, we can be chastised for being too dramatic in our reactions to things by both men and women. If a normally strong woman has an emotional breakdown due to stress, some would ignore her cry for help and call her a victim. When you have gotten use to the toxic trait of “I got it” syndrome and refuse or never ask for help it is easy to get to the point of a nervous breakdown. Additionally if you already suffer from a mental illness like depression or anxiety stress only makes it worse. A woman could have everything together and going well, but if they do not have a method to release their emotional state will implode and they will sink into the darkness of depression.

WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE 

 I am not a medical professional, however after a few conversations with friends and some research I was able to conclude that a lot of “Superwomen” suffer from high functioning depression. Some of the common traits of HFD can easily be experienced by a Businesswoman, Mothers, and College Students. People who need to keep going  no matter what. It can be a combination of all three factors in depression (chemical imbalance, sadness, and circumstantial), but because they keep smiling through it, who would suspect otherwise.

According to Healthline these are some of these traits and actions I have witnessed in Superwomen:

Feeling like you’re “faking it”: A mother must keep her children happy and try to set the mood for their days as she smiles in their face. Deep down she is feeling unappreciated, unloved, and unfulfilled. Whether or not the environmental factors affect how she feels, it does not matter. She must stitch a smile across her face when she wants to cry as if she is putting on the greatest show on earth; it is agonizing.

Needing help and no one believes you: When everything is going swimmingly at work or business and it appears that everything is perfectly organized and completed no one would believe that deep down you want to scream. Of course no one likes a consistently sappy person at work. So why show signs of weakness? In order for someone to believe the agony you want to release, you have to be ill or driven to drastic measures before they believe you. And the thought of resorting to such extreme measures makes the depression seep deeper into your psyche.

Good days, Bad Days, and Exhausting days: If you are a student doing well or failing there can be days you throw caution to the wind, some days you sink low, and some where it is in between but you are exhausted. You feel like no matter what you do in school or in life that you are worthless. Even at the end of a victorious day there may be a sense of sadness that someone did not see the wonderful moment or the daunting thought of carrying a winning streak at school. Having to be a million different people from one day to the next and none of them reflect how you feel is exhausting, because it is not about your happiness it is about how other people see you.

IT’S OK TO NOT BE OK

I’m not really sure when we were taught that we must always wear a smile on our face to be socially accepted. That type of thinking is an illness within itself. Some people have a genuine happy walk and look about them. Others appear to have…well let’s just say an unwelcoming face for a woman. Women need to allow themselves to not feel great every once in a while.

Much like a virus, depression and anxiety must run it’s course sometimes and that is OK.  I hate getting sick and at the first sign of a cold I rush to get whatever vitamin C tablet, echinacea, or DayQuil I can get my hands on to avoid the sickness  so I can keep functioning. But sometimes the virus beats out everything that should stop it. It is time for my body to process it on it’s own and let it run it’s course for the next 2-3 days.

After a discussion with a friend who has suffered through this I realized not owning your emotions can create an internal toxic environment where depression can grow. If you are stressed out and no drink, massage, or expensive excursion can fix it, just take a moment a be in your stress/depression. That moment could be an hour or a day. When you allow it to sit for that moment and start to process then slowly begin your healthy coping mechanisms. Whether that is counseling, something active, prayer, or just talking with a friend.

It is ok to not be ok, but do not allow the “virus” to stay past it’s expiration date.

 

CLIMBING OUT THE WELL

It is ok to not be ok. It is ok to ask for help. It is ok to fake it when you need to. It is not ok to always go at it alone. Being a woman in business, college, marriage, motherhood, just being a woman can be difficult…and that is OK.  Speak your affirmations, say your prayers if that is your thing, go for that run, read that book. Do whatever you need to do to get yourself out of the darkness fully knowing that it is acceptable for you to feel low. If you can not climb out of the well of depression reach out for help to your inner circle, your resident sage in your life, or try one of the resources below to let you know that the woman staring at her screen right now is allowed to be vulnerable and powerful simultaneously!

 

The Value of Your Gift

When we were younger people would ask:

“What do you want to be when you grow up”

To which a reply might be:

“A fireman!”

“A secretary!”

“The boss!”

No matter the answer there was an encouraging smile or giggle that would support the fantasy of being something great. But what is not asked is what do you value most and how will you build your career around it? Pretty heavy question to ask a six-year-old right? How about a 16-year-old who is starting to plan their lives? Still a little heavy right? What about at age 25, 35, 45, and so on? An adult should be able to answer that question right. Surprisingly enough, many don’t know what their core values are and have gotten so far away form them that their values equal their bottom line.

Let’s examine this a little bit. If someone asked you what your core values are as an individual would you be able to name them? Would the values be: honesty, integrity, being organized etc? These are not bad values to have, but they are typical. What truly matters to you? Is it your family? Is it stopping a generational financial struggle? Is it a spiritual conquest? There is no wrong answer as long as it is inline with your gift.

 

 

The Gift

I think  something we forget about is that we are capable to live our lives however we want to. Circumstances are challenges not a condemnation to live a certain way. That is our first gift, we can choose. The second gift is whatever skill(s) or talent(s) that you have.  This does not necessarily mean a physical skill such as IT, management, graphic design. The second gift could be your gift to heal people, a great listener, a fantastic speaker, or…your experience. Being in tune with those types of gifts filter out into career and life choices.

A young woman had the natural gift of being a story teller since she was a child. She could talk your ear off, but she’d also listen very well especially if you were ailing. Yet when anyone would ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up she’d say “I’m a writer!”. The spark of youth that ignited her life passion began to fizzle out as she got older and economic demands withered her passion. She became many people throughout her various ‘get by’ careers that pleased others; unfortunately, she lost her core values of being a great listener, speaker, and healer that fueled her ability to tell stories to the values of her circumstances. One day she said enough and had a great ‘Aha’ moment that realigned her different core values into singular ‘super powers’ to be able to tell stories effectively through many different mediums. And now her core values became her funnel to success.

This young woman had to make a choice to either allow her circumstances to dictate how she functioned or to tap into the power she has had all along and become who she is meant to be. From what I understand her story is far from over. Yet she is relieved that she found the woman she is meant to become. One day I believe she will write a best seller, in the meantime she is telling other people’s stories to heal, educate, and speak to the souls of their respective audiences.

Identify your gifts and values

It’s not unusual to be out of touch with who you are at your core; especially in a culture where people value what you do over who you are. You’re not your job, you’re not your skills, you are your core values.  I would like to invite you to do an exercise that may narrow down who you are vs who you have become.

  1. Make two columns
  2. In one column write down your top five virtues. (Example: Family, Healing, Spirituality etc)
  3. In another column write down the top five things you are doing in your life or your career.
  4. Draw lines that connect each virtue to your career or something else your doing.
  5. See how your virtues line up with what you are doing.

After this exercise see how what you have chosen or what your circumstances have chosen for you correlate with who you are. And if most do not connect, that means you need to realign yourself with your core values. Doing this will not lead to guaranteed financial abundance. However it will align you to your gifts that you carry naturally that will put in to your ‘wind’ and allow it to lift you into you mental, emotional, spiritual and possibly financial prosperity.

 

 

Ride the Wind, Eat the Cupcake

With the passing of an incredible Author, Toni Morrison, I began to look up different things she said and relived the passion of her stories over the years. She walked us through the experience of Black people on a spiritual level and the literary world was better for it. As I was reflecting on her impact, I started cackling when I overheard  one of my associates say to her co-worker who was rejecting sweets to maintain her diet, “Girl life is short, eat the cupcake!” .  And just as I finished laughing and turned back to my screen I saw one of Toni Morrison’s quotes:

Hearing about the cupcake and reading this quote again, it made me ponder on what we view as freedom. In a political sense, people view freedom differently. But how should we view our own personal freedom? What I interpret from this quote is that we only have but so much power and eventually we will have to surrender to will of a situation, but when we surrender we can begin to control our own freedom.

The Wind

Do you remember being young, dumb, and determined? I giggle thinking about it. I’ve had this conversation among friends about how we were running in circles piecing together our lives and livelihoods. Then hearing the echo of elders saying ‘If I knew then what I know now.’ Well fortunately I do know better now, and the best thing you can do is let it all flow.

Somewhere along the ‘adult’ education it was learned to have a handle on your life in every aspect, because that is what a well functioning adult does right?  I agree with this quote because I remember being my 20s and running into possibilities and dead ends and all the fun in between. But as I watch these young people today I see a lot of them being overworked, stressed about what they call ‘adulting’, and not taking the time to tap into the inner parts of themselves to become who they wanted to be when they were children; free.

Life is always going to be complicated in one form or another. That is the wind.  It’s never perfectly structured and may whip you about. Yet it is always moving, gently lands a petal or fallen leaf, moves the ocean, and blows your hair all in it’s own perfect way. So if you are able to collect all of your broken pieces from trying to control a circumstance, release them to the wind and let it be. There is no sin in letting something just be. That is the freedom we dream of as a child; letting things go and being ourselves in the best way possible. And every once in a while breaking the barrier of being responsible.

The Cupcake

Who doesn’t love a cupcake? They are sweet, wholesome, compact, and beautiful…much like many things in life that are worthwhile. How many times have we withheld ourselves from love, opportunities, or just having a wonderful time, because we deemed it to be irresponsible to do so? Why would anyone want to trap themselves into a space where there was little enjoyment to keep them in their sophisticated trappings that they or their communities uphold? Because that is what we are taught.

‘I’ll just have a small piece.’

‘Maybe just for a little while then we need to do xyz.’

‘No I can not do such a thing, it’s just not proper.’ 

These types of phrases come from thinking that too much of a ‘good thing’ can ruin you. To an extent that is true. We must have some self-control. However, why suppress our inner child in to thinking that experiencing some of life’s smallest and greatest joys is wrong? It’s not. There is certainly a time and place for anything that we do. However every once in while we have to throw that caution to the wayward wind and let the moment, the opportunity, the love, the adventure just be. You never know what beauty and growth will come from such a small sweet thing.

Life is short, find your freedom, ride the wind and eat the cupcake.

Thank you Toni, be free. 

 

Blink Blink Click: Bionic Eyes are coming soon

We have seen sci-fi movies with bionic eyes and all the damage they could do. However this is, pardon the pun, and eye-opening experience that will change how we see the world. Some see this as an opportunity for the blind to see and for people to be more informed about who they are interacting with. There are some pros and cons to this, but first let’s look at the fascinating field of neuroengineering.

Neuroengineering is a rising interdisciplinary field that creates devices that can interface with the brain. This is a fascinating feat being that people are creating machines that will directly affect how our brains function; in this case with our eye sight or providing real time information about a person. Now we can’t get to excited yet because it will still take some time to develop an entire real-time user interface, but it is most certainly on the way. I am thinking about how this will affect personal and federal security when it comes to interacting with people. There may be some information you do not want people to know. While a lot of information is available on the inter webs, even some personal, this type of invention sparks the question about real time security. Can we opt out of providing certain information? What happens if our information is hacked? Or what if the device breaks? Will it be covered by insurance? As far as Federal information, would security clearance be provided to certain individuals in a digital download? These are all concerning questions that come with developing this type of technology.

“Brain-computer interfaces” can be used both for treating neurological and mental disorders as well as for understanding brain function, and now engineers have developed ways to manipulate these neural circuits with electrical currents, light, ultrasound, and magnetic fields. Remarkably, we can make a finger, arm, or even a leg move just by activating the right neurons in the motor cortex. Similarly, we can activate neurons in the visual cortex to make people see flashes of light. The former allows us to treat neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy, whereas the latter should eventually allow us to restore vision to the blind.”

Dr. Michael Beyeler in PC MAG Restoring Vision With Bionic Eyes: No Longer Science Fiction.

On the other hand giving blind people the ability to see is a scientific miracle.  The version of the bionic that is available to patients suffering from blindness functions more as an add that provides sight. This is not a security threat. but quite literally an eye opener. See the video below about a woman who received a bionic eye and can see for the first time in 16 years.

 

The Greedy Love A Cheerful Giver

When Mansa Musa (The wealthiest African King in history) passed through Cairo, Medina, and Mecca he had an entourage of 72,000 that carried gold bars and other riches throughout the cities. They handed out gold to the poor and traded it for souvenirs. The people who received the gold we delighted and used it to flourish their communities. Unfortunately because of the influx of gold, it lost it’s value over the next decade, and pricing on goods and wares became inflated. The increase within the communities became detrimental because the value of what was given exceeded what they could use it for. Mansa Musa came back and took back some of the gold from lenders at a high interest which stabilized the price of gold and the cities.

There is nothing wrong with being a cheerful giver. However the gift should be put into the hands of those who know how to use it and appreciate it. 

Birthing a Greedy Gut

When people have a ‘glow-up’ in their lives whether that is a new skill set, connections, or other forms of success they give back to their communities. Their community could be an actual community or family members, friends, or colleagues. This is the respectful thing to do for those whom have contributed to your ‘glow-up’ directly or not. A response to a financial favor, a networking hookup, or performing a service  is “sure”. Because, you have your gold in spades.  So let’s say you give that money, perform the service, and make the connection and the recipient squanders the money, abuses your service, and missing the meeting for the connection. What is your response. Mine would be to never trust them with the gift again. However, many continue to spread their generosity because they believe the person can be redeemed; thus birthing a cycle of taking gold that they can not manage. Habits are hard to break, and you can not save them all.

Be a teacher not a savior

I had expressed in another post about how to not be part of the group when it comes to ‘being the hero’ for everyone around you. When you choose to be the savior, everyone relies on you for everything. It was not until Mansa Musa came back that the economy stabilized after his gifts of gold. It was ten years before they could be stable again. Can you imagine you gift someone a fully loaded computer so that they can start to build their business and they fill it up with games and viruses that damage the computer beyond repair, because you did not leave some instructions on how to use it? I would be furious! …at myself.

Try not to be an infomercial for quick success 

“If you invest $500 into this product you will be a millionaire in six months!”

Yeah right…

Belief in someone’s capacity is not a pass for skill. If you know that someone within your community wants to build up their business or a project etc, then connect them with resources that show them how. No one can build their version of an empire on the foundation of ignorance and impatience. They need to be taught how to construct their dream so that when you hand them gold they will know how to use it. Eventually they will be able to hold conversations with you about expanding their own gold and laying their tracks of prosperity.

Glow Up and Grow Out 

Most people start from humble beginnings. It is within those roots that you form your relationships that become your community. As growth happens learn how to section out your gold as a reflection and inflation of what was given to you. Allow yourself to be guided to a purpose from which your influence will grow outward and plant seeds into those within your community and beyond. Do not harbor your gold, but give it with the intention to grow your respective communities into a better environment that will cultivate new ideas, ventures, and knowledge.

 

 

 

Burn The Boat

In ancient times of war commanders would order their soldiers to burn their boats on the enemy’s shores as a signal to incoming sailors that the soldiers were going to win the war or die trying with no chance of retreat. Check out this video about Hernando Cortez who decided to take a chance; burn the boats.

In our lives we like to create options or a ‘plan B’ just in case something goes awry. While this is the intelligent decision, consequently it creates room for error that never allows you or a team to reach full potential. The reason we cling to these ‘safety boats’ is due a fear based on experience and the personification of it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Again this is the intelligent thing to do, especially as a business owner. However we have to create environments where every once in a while you must throw caution to the wind and go for it.  I’ve spoken about how a good indicator of proper leadership is knowing that your team will follow you over a cliff. Burning ‘your boat’ is similar, except this time everyone’s livelihoods, passions, and personal intentions are at stake; essentially the plan must work or you’ll die trying.

Burn the ego 

The most frightening thing for a CEO or independent business is to not have a project live up to their vision. Just because you plan and visualize for something, does not mean that is how it will turn out; get over it. It is infuriating when things do not fit into the ‘vision boat’ because the vision is perfect in your mind and anything less or different is unacceptable. When you take on a project it is important to put everything into your ‘vision boat’ then burn it. Let me say it again, put everything in your vision boat and burn it; because the result of lowering the expectation of perfection will create room for creativity, a lesson, and ultimately lower your anxiety about anything being perfect. Stop feeding your ego with the “We are the best” mentality because that is toxic enough to sink any boat.  Move forward with “We can deliver” to burn your ego and create something withstanding.

Die trying

As mentioned it is always good to have a back up plan. However consider this: If your business has not grown, because you have not taken a chance you are failing. This is called the Complacency Boat.  Businesses should always grow whether that is in tactics, offerings, staff specialties, and upward movement for all employees. When Cortez decided to storm the beach and get the treasure he essentially said we are going to do this or die trying. In a business sense, this does not mean you actually die, it means you are putting everything on the line because you are expecting it to be successful. Thus burning the Complacency Boat. But what if the Die Trying boat goes up in flames and you are stuck on the island of What Now? A true leader will pick up the pieces that are left from the boat and build a house on the island that would be named New Ideas. Not many people will remain after the Die Trying boat goes up in flames. That is alright. As the house of new ideas is being built continue to build more Vision Boats that will travel to a safe complacency island, pillage the island for more new ideas and strategies, burn the vision boat, and be prepared to reemerge as a force that will succeed or die trying; then rise again.

 

 

 

Peace Be With the Fallen Hero

Not everyone is suited to be an entrepreneur, most definitely stay out of that lane if you are not built for it. However everyone is capable to command their own lives. Sometimes it means breaking and bending rules, but you are your own first priority. Former first lady Michelle Obama recently spoke at The Essence Festival about how women must put themselves on their own priority list, because we have a bad habit of putting everyone else first. As a woman I can agree with this, but to an extent. Only because this is not just a woman issue, it is a super-hero syndrome issue. At times we feel that we must conquer all of our issues and others too, because we’re ‘capable’ of doing so. Eventually your emotions, mental state, and body will run aground and who wants to deal with a broken hero? It is important not to allow everyone’s need of you to replace the appreciation and love for yourself. Essentially, we must learn to say NO.

STOP BEING A PART OF THE GROUP

Working on a team or having a group of ‘complicated’ friends and relatives can be easily compared to the worst group project of the century. There are people 5 types of people in a group project: The Face; they show up and speak with conviction on matters they know nothing about, The Whiner; they whine about everything including the smallest of tasks, The Grinder; they take care of everything to keep everyone on track with little to no help, The Charlie-Come-Lately; they show up in spurts and are amazing when they are there, and The Pumpkin Head; full of hallow ideas, boisterous, and have no follow through.  Whether in the professional realm or personal life there will be one of these people always coming to The Grinder for advice, to save them in their crisis, or to criticize you for not doing either. The Face will act as if they have it all together, but in truth they don’t and The Grinder will have to pay for it. The Whiner will never be satisfied by any word of advice or direct action because they are lazy and entitled. The Charlie-Come-Lately can be a good ally at times, however they are as unreliable as everyone else, when The Grinder needs help themselves. And finally the The Pumpkin Head will always talk about making major moves, helping out the Grinder, or others and then disappear when they are needed most.

Being a Grinder has one major flaw, they gain fulfillment by being the the ‘go-to’ person even if it leaves them mentally destitute. Being able to handle everyone’s problems is not a gift. It is a charge that no one should take on fully. Separate yourself from people who will ultimately bring you to an emotional demise because they themselves are mentally and emotionally destitute.

RADIO SILENCE

In the military, Radio Silence is used to stop possible  communication interference or interception by an enemy. It is also used by sea captains to make sure they can hear faint distress signals. Both are needed in your life if you are going to take command of your peace. I have a colleague and friend who seems like she has 8 arms to manage everything within her business and personal life, will call her Serena. Serena would seemingly have it all together and for the most part she does. However there are times when anxiety takes over and her body shuts down ; distress signal. Unfortunately there have been moments where she’s had to power through ‘the distress signal’ and people will either pick up on it and see it as a weakness or it would interfere with her communication to others. Serena’s circumstance is not uncommon, however the solution is…go silent. When you are managing a lot in your life, even if it is beneficial, it does not negate the fact that you need to take a break for your mental space.  Have the courage to say no, turn off the phone, get off social media, don’t respond to the email and be with yourself. In this space you can recognize what is and what is not working to your benefit or you can just be silent. In this silence no one can penetrate your emotions or mind with their issues or emergencies. This is for work and your personal life, because sometimes the careers we have and people we love can wear us out as well.

DON’T CRY OVER PEOPLE WHO WILL NOT CRY AT YOUR FUNERAL. 

There will be a lot of people in your life that will guilt you into doing things for them, but they won’t shed a tear when you’re gone. When you are dead, in the proverbial or literal sense, the same people who have demanded your time, attention, and energy without reciprocation will not cry at your demise. There are three types of people at a funeral : The Wailers; they are slightly upset but are there to be seen in a dramatic fashion, The Vase; these people send flowers with a generic card and not their presence, and The Crier; the people who know and care for you and silently plead for your reemergence even though it’s unlikely.

Let’s say you are proverbially dead (career tanked, desperate situations, health crises etc) and you are crying out for help. A Wailer will announce publicly how terrible they feel for you, pry to get more gossip,  and do nothing to assist your reemergence. A Vase may contact you to critique your “funeral”, offer generic advice or words of comfort and disappear until you are useful to them again. These are the people that use up most of your energy and resources like the Face, Whiner, and Pumpkin Head. However the Crier will always speak life over your situation because they genuinely care, are Grinders themselves, and want to win as a team.

Do yourself a favor and take off your cape. Make peace with the fact that you said no to being everyone’s hero. Ultimately the person you need to save first and always is yourself.

 

Nobody Wants To Leave Their Baby With A Stranger : The Trust Pact Between Clients & Contractors

Entrepreneurs. CEOs. Mom-preneurs. Dad-preneurs. Artists. Contractors. Whatever title you hold, your brand and business is your baby and no one wants to leave their baby with a stranger. Who is a stranger? A stranger by definition is someone you do not know. A stranger as defined in business is someone who has not proven their worth through work ethic and skills; and that is scary when you are rebranding or getting your business off the ground and they are yelling ‘pick me!’. It is no secret that there are some very crafty scam artist who will display all of their skills and ‘clients’ only for a business owner to discover that they misrepresented themselves. Unfortunately many have been had by a stranger which makes them look at a legitimate business as a stranger. This can cause a lot of tension in a business relationship, because there is no trust for the expert. On the other hand there are many contractors and freelancers that have also been attacked by strangers, but they must carry their baby (skill sets, time, and services) in to the next hands and hope that this new client will be careful with their baby.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN BABY FIRST

The reason we hire people is to complete tasks that we are otherwise incapable of doing, understanding, or do not have time to do amidst other tasks. When you take a baby to a daycare it is hard to part with them, the same happens when you are a business owner or contractor that must relinquish total control in a new project. Before you take your baby to daycare, it’s imperative to spend time with them first so that you can get to know them and their needs. The same thing happens when you are building your business. You need to craft how you want your business to run and be open to suggestions, and not having tunnel vision. When you are handing a tasks over to let’s say, a Creative Specialist, you should educate yourself on that particular realm of expertise. This does not mean that you learn all of the schematics of the field; however you should have a ‘Creative Specialist for dummies’ level knowledge of what the person does so that when you hand over your baby to this person you should know what to expect as you would expect of a daycare provider.

  • Learn the basics of how the field/skills works.
  • Look for pricing as if you were a contractor trying to price yourself.
  • Google your company (if you have a website) or similar companies to see how they operate and how you want to be different.

These tactics are imperative to get to know how to take care of your ‘baby’ as either a contractor or a business.

As a contractor it is important to know if your ‘baby’ (skill set and expertise) will play well with a potential client’s baby. If you know that the project  will require more than you are capable of, be honest, and say that you will collaborate or refer them to another contractor to complete the tasks. Just as some children can be in the same room, but do not play well together, it is the same thing when it comes to providing a service to a client. Knowing that a project does not fit within your brand or expertise or vice versa is  a disappointing experience, yet a humbling and honest one to where both parties walk away and ‘play nice’ because they know the value and characteristics of their respective businesses.

STRANGER DANGER 

The infamous term of mansplaining is also applicable to strangers who want you to pick them so they can make quick money with little work or get a lot of work with no money paid. This is equivalent to be lured to a van with candy. We’ll call this Candy-splaining. Candy-splaining: The act of presenting a ‘sweet’ opportunity in an auction style tone and carnival slyness that insists the company/contractor choose them and a payment or product is under-delivered or not delivered at all. Unfortunately this happens to a lot of new businesses, whether a contractor or business.

When a colleague of mine was starting her business, a woman had presented a grand opportunity for travel, expansion of skills, and moving to New York City. She was a contractor who worked in a creative field jumping at every opportunity she could to build her portfolio and her first love, travel. Plans and a small deposit were made that the ‘Candy-lady’ insisted upon because a bigger payout was coming later. My colleague took the candy and did $5,000 worth of work. When the payday came the Candy-lady had absurd yet believable excuses. After a while of believing the sweet lies , my colleague had to cut her losses and move on, never receiving her payment.

If you find yourself in a Candy-splaining situation have enough power to walk away, because you do not want your baby to get caught in a van that they may never find their way out of.  Unfortunately after coming through an experience like this, you are wary of anyone who is trying to sell something to you, and this is on both sides of business. My advice is not to have a sweet tooth; a desire to chase money and not having discernment about the type of client/contractor.  Opportunities to excel always look great, but read the ingredients: Fine print on the proposals, researching the client/business/person, checking who else they are connected to and avoid anyone you are in direct competition with. In my experience, those who can and will deliver are humble in their approach, asks and answer questions authentically, and have a general idea of how they want ‘the children to play together.’ Be friends, not strangers. 

THE PLAYPEN PACT 

When you’ve had a Candy Van experience it’s not uncommon to want to micromanage everything to protect your business. When a mother first leaves their child in daycare or their first day of school there is a moment of guilt for leaving them. This is a normal instinct to have, even with your business. Do not allow the guilt of leaving your baby to play with another baby and be in the care of someone else to consume you. It will not serve you well. When two children come together in a playpen there is an unspoken trust that they have within the confines of that playpen. The playpen is your marketplace and with a little trust and discernment the children will play nicely. Continue to learn how to play with each other by respecting each other’s value. Nail down a process that works for both the business and the contractor. Create a space to learn from one another consistently, even if it is the ‘for dummies’ version of expertise. Ultimately the pact made within the playpen is that both the contractor and client are on a mission to grow up together.

Farmbeats: AI & Nature Combine to Keep Us Fed

By 2050 we need to increase food production by 70% to feed the growing population and it can not be done simply by farmers intuition, we need AI. Thankfully Microsoft has developed Farmbeats which uses technology to predict the best times to plant, grow, and harvest for certain crops that reduces waste and increases production.  This is an opportunity for us to quite literally get back to our roots and redefine the food production process, even for small businesses.

Impact on the government contracting market 

Most of the government contracts for agriculture come in the form of conservation consulting and equipment maintenance. Now with this type of technology IT can get in the game. Through  government subsidies for farmers this allows a space for them to create a budget to use this technology and hire a small IT business to maintain, upgrade, and consult on how to improve harvests.  By using Farmbeats, the once separate consulting and maintenance contracts are blended and create a new revenue stream that benefits everyone. From my understanding this is not available to be subsidized just yet. However  I see an opportunity where small IT businesses can make a large impact in this field and possibly create teaming opportunities that would benefit local and national economy by employing more farmers, IT workers, and producing harvests that will over-exceed the need for more fresh produce.

See how this works at the Dancing Cow farm.