Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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The Secret of 1,000,000 Followers: Karen Hutton’s Story

April 5, 2012

Photo Taken by Scott Jarvie

I would be thrilled for any client to reach 1,000,000 followers, but it has been exceptionally thrilling watching photographer Karen Hutton reach the 1,000,000 follower milestone on Google+. While it is a great accomplishment, that’s not what has made it thrilling. The thrill has been that she reached the 1,000,000 mark without seemingly trying. It’s not your typical story, but not much about Karen is typical.

What does it take to reach 1,000,000 followers?

Most of the entrepreneurs I know believe that it takes the right investment, the right guru, the right system that will firmly place them on the path to entrepreneurial success. Most have invested tens of thousands of dollars into marketing, consultants and coaches. They’ve spent hundreds of hours of time implementing strategies, launching ideas and working, working, working very hard. Karen, much like her photography, has taken a different approach.

Karen’s path to 1,000,000 has been creative diligence and imaginative consistency. To be an amazing artist you have to be creative and imaginative, but there are thousands of amazing artists who never near critical or commercial success. To reach milestones of success in any field, diligence, persistence and consistency are qualities you must encompass. And it is just those qualities that have catapulted Karen on her path.

I’ve written a blog about Karen before: Creative Brain vs. Business Brain. It’s the story of how she ignited her long-smoldering passion for photography while bolstering her ‘real business’. The back-story is that, while her photography has catapulted her in the world of photography and Google+, it’s not her principle vocation. Karen is a well-known voice over professional: she’s the narrator of the Echoes of Creation film, the voice of the #1 GPS app, MotionX and she talks you through the world in Trey Ratcliff’s amazing Stuck in Customs iPad app.

Photo Taken by Karen Hutton

For the year of 2010, Karen made a strategic business decision to “live her life as an artist.” And while that may conjure up visions of a year of whimsy and impulse, to Karen it meant diligently, persistently and consistently enjoying, learning and growing her love of photography. Her goal wasn’t 1,000,000 followers. Her goal was to bring joy to her life through photography. And she met her goal with diligence, persistence and consistency. Twyla Tharpe’s inspiring book The Creative Habit tells you that creative success comes from doing exactly what Karen did.

She consistently stepped outdoors with her camera to connect with her creativity, she studied other photographers’ work and methods and she began amassing a large volume of work. When she joined Google+ she didn’t just join, she began diligently, consistently posting her photos coupled with her imaginative prose. She found joy in joining in the renaissance community of photographers that have convened on Google+, both online and traveling in person to the photowalks that have sprung from the online community. Admired photographers became friends, and then admirers of her work. The tipping point was when someone at Google noticed her body of work and added her to the Photography & Art interesting people to follow list.

The marketing gurus will tell you to do much of this: joint venture, build community, post regularly. The uniqueness, though, of Karen’s path was that she wasn’t seeking an outcome of 1,000,000 followers; she was using creativity to bolster her life. She was simply having fun.

Are you using creativity to bolster your life and your business?

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 Stacey Powell builds financial muscles at TheFinanceGym.com and shows of Financial Art at Facebook.

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January 27, 2012

Creating Answers ~ A Blog on Financial Clarity

My best friend Tina Reynolds, owner of Uptown Studios, was honored today by the California Legislative LGBT Caucus for her extraordinary inability to stand by and watch even one person be treated as less than equal. I’ve know Tina for 15 years. We met when she was doing volunteer work for CARES, and through the years I can not begin to recall how many organizations, actions and activities she has led or been a part of. And not just LGBT issues; she’s an equal opportunity activist. I’m proud to be her friend, and I’m proud that she’s a role model for my daughter.

What does this have to do with small business? For those of us that own small business, we all know that we have less time, not more, to spend on our passions. How in the world does Tina have time to do all that she does? Well…

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Growing Your Business Through Practicing Gratitude

November 23, 2011

It’s the time of year we all give thanks for our many blessings. It’s a good practice in our personal lives, and an equally good practice in our business lives.

On the Wednesday of Thanksgiving week it is my tradition to spend the day calling clients, past clients, colleagues who refer business to me and anyone else who has impacted my business over the past year. The calls aren’t sales calls, they’re gratitude calls. My intention is to thank those that have positively impacted my business’ growth as well my own personal happiness.

I’d like to say that I started this practice because I’m such a good person. But the truth is that I started it some years ago when I was scared to death to make sales and marketing calls. Picking up the phone and asking someone to become a client or refer business to me was terrifying. This gratitude concept that I began was a kinder, gentler (or perhaps spineless) approach.

The first year of the tradition I landed a big client. It was someone who I knew desperately needed my help. I hadn’t heard from him in months, and he was thrilled to hear from me. He was finally ready to face his financial issue and I called on just the right day. What I realized for the first time that day was that he needed my service more than I needed his money. The calls I was making weren’t about generating business, they were about serving others. After that experience, sales and marketing calls became much easier.

That was just the beginning of understanding of the role of gratitude and service in business. The more I began to weave it into my business, the more I recognized how gratitude was impacting other successful businesses I worked with.

  • One very successful colleague writes her thank you notes every morning at the breakfast table with her husband. It’s a sweet practice, and I believe a cornerstone of her success.
  • Another successful entrepreneur I know keeps a gratitude journal, writing in it each day that which she is grateful for.
  • Sandra Yancey, the phenomenally successful entrepreneur who began eWomen Network says that behind her company’s motto “Give first, share always” is a sense of gratitude. She ensures from the top down in her company that gratitude is practiced amongst the members and with not-for-profit causes.


One of the business coaches that has most influenced my happiness as a business owner had me start our work together with a gratitude practice. I’m an accountant. Not a curmudgeonly one, but definitely not the first person to be open to the kind of advice that goes like this:

“Stacey, I want you to write down 25 things you’re grateful for every day.”

“25????”

“Yes, 25.”

I thought to myself….”that’s stupid.”

But I was unhappy at the time, and thus willing to try new things. 25 was a lot. After the obvious:

  • my daughter,
  • my cat,
  • sunshine,
  • my health,

I had no idea what the other 21 should be. But kept thinking and eventually I’d get the 25 down, and every day it got easier, and eventually I realized that the gratitude practice was helping me on a daily basis assess what it was I LOVED about my business, and what it was I dreaded.

Focusing on gratitude brought to the surface that I had been burning myself out spending time doing tasks and taking care of clients that I didn’t have a passion to serve. Focusing on gratitude, and really noticing on a daily basis which clients I was grateful for helped me become very clear about the mission of my business, and it was then I renamed the business Creating Answers and made a bold decision: I was only going to do work I loved, and I was only going to work with clients that I loved; ones that I felt grateful for.

I’m not always successful; I suppose no one is. But what I am is happy. Almost every day when I go to work, I am happy. And I attribute my business’ growth to that happiness, which grew from the gratitude practice.

What are you grateful for?

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Stacey Powell builds financial muscles at TheFinanceGym.com, creates financial clarity at CreatingAnswers.com, and shows off Financial Art at Facebook.

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The Power of Tracking Your Numbers: Step #3

November 22, 2011

This is the 3rd in a series on creating a financially healthy life. If you jumped in and did the first two steps, Just Do It and Reality, Get a Dose, this one might be the one you might need extra support in accomplishing. Lots of us like to do projects. We like to plan. The first two steps were projects.

This 3rd step requires consistency. Yes, consistency. This is where many of us jump off the financial band wagon.

I liken it to the health band wagon. Most people can stick to a diet for awhile. It might be challenging, you may not like it, but if we knew that we only had to change our eating habits for 3 months to impact our physical health for the rest of our lives, would we do it? Most of us would.

If I told you that getting into financial action for 3 months, really making a consistent commitment, would change your financial life for the years to come, would you do it? You’d have better results if you agreed to do it for a year, for 5 years, or for the rest of your life. But tracking your numbers for just 3 months will make an impact as well. It will reset your clock, equilibrate the way you look at your spending, and serve you in truly seeing your income versus your spending.

If you’re ready to seriously impact your future financial health, here’s what you MUST do:

  • Record your spending weekly. Ensure you’ve captured everything. Total your numbers in the categories created in Step 2. Look at them in comparison with your monthly spending plan. Are you on target? If you aren’t, why? Do you need to make adjustments to your spending throughout the rest of the month?
  • Record your income, all of it. For many, this is the same number over and over and it might seem like drudgery. But its only 5 seconds worth, so just do it. For others, those with commission-based income, hourly jobs that shift income or self-employment income, tracking recording your income is every bit as important as your spending. Inconsistent income can cause a lot of challenges in balancing your spending. I know many a mortgage broker and Realtor that have money issues solely based on the fact that some months they earn five-figure, and other months they earn nothing.
  • Write it down by hand. I know this advice seems odd, almost counter-intuitive for some. But if you’re ready to seriously impact your future financial health, just do it. Why would someone who successfully uses Quicken or Mint.com take a pencil to paper and write? Because we take in information that we’ve written differently than that which we’ve read. Remember, I’m not suggesting you do this forever. But I am suggesting you do it for 3 months.
When you’re at the end of the three months, you’ll know whether or not you need to continue a weekly practice. You will have gained a lot of factual knowledge about your finances. But more importantly, you will have gained some personal knowledge of how you feel about your income, your spending, and your consistency with the financial health band wagon.

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Stacey Powell builds financial muscles at TheFinanceGym.com, creates financial clarity at CreatingAnswers.com, and shows off Financial Art at Facebook.

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Throw Your Spending Plan Out The Window

August 10, 2011

In “Entrepreneurship and Making ‘Adult’ Financial Decisions” I Told the Truth about why I wasn’t at the eWomen Network Conference this year. And I outlined a spending strategy I had developed with a client:

“One of my favorite clients loves conferences and trainings; she has about $4,000 annually in her spending plan. She wants to spend more, but her business’ budget doesn’t allow for it. We developed a profit-splitting plan that puts a percentage of her business’ net profits into a savings account titled “Business Investments.” She doesn’t have to spend that money, but when a conference pops up that she wants to attend, she no longer has to discuss it with me or agonize over the pros and cons of the decision. If the money is in the reserve account, she goes.”

Best laid plans. While she was away at the eWomen Network Conference I received a text from her:

 

There are a lot of gurus out there selling marketing, sales and mindset training/coaching programs. Entrepreneurs invest hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands in these programs. The potential and possibility of learning from someone like Lisa Sasevich can be irresistible, and in the moment of making the buying decision, it’s challenging at best to separate logic from emotion.

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Entrepreneurship and Making ‘Adult’ Financial Decisions

July 7, 2011
Adult Financial Decisions

When I launched on Forbes.com I promised myself that I was going to start Telling the Truth. It’s easy to be a financial guru, talk at people, and tell them, “This Is How You Should Handle Your Money.” It takes more courage to be transparent and share stories not just from our clients, but from ourselves, and even more courage to share not just from our past, but from our present. So here I am, being courageous.

Every summer I head to Dallasfor the annual eWomen Network Conference. I look forward to it all year long. It’s the largest business women’s conference in North America, and an amazing place to learn, connect and be inspired. Sandra Yancey, CEO of eWomen Network, provides the incredible opportunity to learn from a long list of business rock stars: Michael Gerber, Tony Hsieh (zappos), Robert Stephens (Geek Squad), Lisa Nichols, Zig Ziglar and the list goes on. This summer, I’m not going.

What’s an ‘Adult Financial Decision’?

Adult financial decisions are logical decisions—ones we intuitively know are good decisions even though every other part of our being disagrees. When we make adult financial decisions, our inner child screams, “But I wanted that!” or our lips pout or our hearts feel heavy. Last month I made the adult financial decision that my team was not going to the conference this year. As a result, I’ve been walking around pouting and having a heavy heart. And then I heard a voice shout: “Stacey, how many hundreds of times have you advised people who were conflicted about when and how much to spend on professional development??? Stop being a weenie and write a blog.”

Entrepreneurs make the assumption that they are the only ones making emotional spending decisions. “If I just ran my business more like a business owner, I don’t think I’d have these cash flow issues.” The truth is that entrepreneurs are human beings, and most of us humans make emotionally-based financial decisions. That’s not a bad thing. It’s when we don’t balance emotionally-based decisions with logical ones that imbalance can capsize our ship. Over the past year, my business has made a number of bold spending decisions, some logical, some emotionally-based. We’ve also pruned our client tree (let a few clients go who were no longer a good fit). The end result is that our reserves are at low tide.

Could we go to the conference? Yes. Do we have the cash? Yes. Would there be consequences? Yes. Is it worth the consequences? Logically, no.

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3 Words to Small Business Success: Easy, Fun and Popular

June 8, 2011

What’s the attitude you show up to in your business each day?

Are you having fun?

Does it lift your spirit to connect with those you need to connect with to be successful in your business?

In my blog Community Service, Leadership and Small Businesses, I told the story of how my best friend Tina Reynolds, long-time small business owner of Uptown Studios, uses her love of community service to drive the marketing for her business. I met Tina 15 years ago, when she was doing volunteer work for a local HIV/AIDS service organization, and through the years I cannot begin to recall how many organizations, actions and activities she has led or been part of. Her dedication and stamina for community service are unparalleled, and as a result she frequently receives awards, honors and nominations.

At this week’s California Small Business Day, she was honored by California’s Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg as the Capital Region’s Small Business of the Year. Senator Steinberg made an excellent choice. From the vantage point of a best friend I’ve watched Tina’s business grow, and then sputter, and then grow again. I’ve watched her maneuver through the economic challenges of the past few years, always with a positive attitude.

So how exactly do you get to be a Small Business of the Year? What makes Tina and her business stand out as a role model for entrepreneurs? To use Uptown Studios’ tagline, be Easy, Fun and Popular.

Easy

In my Forbes Profile I write about blocks I’ve Been Around: putting $10 of gas in my car because that’s all I had. This was years ago, so I’m going to out Tina: she was the one I passed that $10 back and forth with. Sometimes I needed it; sometimes she did. Entrepreneurship isn’t always glamorous. But Tina, no matter how challenging a client project or how tough a business issue she faces, always has a can-do attitude and exudes to her staff and her clients that it’s easy. “Let’s just jump in and get it done.” And to persevere as an entrepreneur while enjoying a personal life, having an “It’s Easy” attitude is vital.

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