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Get Off the Sidelines and into the Game of Life

Photo courtesy of Rafael Amado Deras

For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt this certain…stirring inside of me, urging me to think outside the box. I realized that I was destined to look for opportunities in unlikely places, and that I am just not the type of person who can be satisfied living life as a spectator. And so, eventually, I gave up my season tickets to the game of life and jumped on the field myself, ready to catch all of the solid opportunities that flew my way. It took me a little bit of practice to learn the difference between a homerun and a foul ball, but I think I finally have a handle on when to make the catch, and when to let it go.

Those who take action in life inevitebly end up ahead.  Sure, we may be called selfish, single-minded and dreamers, but the truth of the matter is, failure to take advantage of a good opportunity when it arises is the worst decision possible and will only leave you in the same rut for the rest of your life. Being ready to execute quickly while simultaneously weighing out the risks is a sign of someone who is destined to succeed.

The important thing to remember when presented with a potential new project is that not every opportunity is a good one.  Learning how and when to say no is an invaluable skill that will ensure that your successful ventures outweigh your failed attempts. This is not to say that you will never make some bad choices, or some less-than-ideal investments. As Edward Phelps said, “The man who makes no mistakes usually does not make anything at all.” I don’t know about you, but I would rather make some mistakes on my way to success than never making anything at all.

When an opportunity knocks, make sure that it fits in comfortably with your personal values and morals. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Figure out your bottom line and know what you feel comfortable with. Be sure that the project aligns with your mission and the market image you wish to portray. An entrepreneur without a mission statement will ultimately lead his business off-track. Only say “yes” to opportunities that will create beneficial partnerships and reinforce your brand’s identity. And, most importantly, if you don’t find yourself presented with enough opportunitites to find success, step outside of that cardboard box, crumple it up, and make your own.

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Create Your Own Paycheck and Cash in on Life

Photo courtesy of blakespot
So many of us spend upwards of eight hours a day behind a desk in an office somewhere, wishing we were free to come and go as we please. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people say, “I’d give anything to be my own boss.” However, it’s rare that anyone does anything about it, and instead there are millions of Americans resenting their jobs on a daily basis due to feeling unfulfilled, under-appreciated, under-paid and overworked. Most people are too afraid of the “unknown” to take a dip in the entrepreneurial pool, but what they don’t realize is that unless they are the boss, their 9-5 job is the unknown. In most workplace settings, employees can be fired for virtually any reason, at any time.

I have been on both sides of the job fence. I went from teaching to motherhood and then changed courses after a divorce to pursue a job as a legal assistant. During the motherhood phase of my journey, I discovered my innate ability to be my own boss quite by accident by freelance writing while my children napped. However, like most people, I became concerned about my lack of health insurance coverage after I went through a divorce, and headed back into the corporate world, working eight hours a day and commuting an additional 80 minutes, making the total time I dedicated to my job approximately 9 1/2 hours a day.

Personally, I loved that job, and it is probable that I would have continued working there were it not for health reasons that forced me to re-think my entire life strategy.  I decided that my original intuition about being my own boss would be my new direction, as I was given no other options and had to make it work. I began by making as many contacts as possible in my field, building up experience and clients. It slowly dawned on me that I was branding myself, creating my own job, making my own rules, setting my own income, and working the hours that I wanted to work. I don’t know if I would have been so successful at creating my own business if I hadn’t been forced into the situation, but what I have learned is that anyone can do it.

I would never have described myself as a business woman , and yet I was able to create a job for myself based on my innate talents and skills . I found a niche where I could be successful using what I know how to do well. I  decide what things I want and need and then I set out to make enough money to pay for them.  Rather than letting my boss tell me how much my efforts are worth, I decided to tell my clients how much my efforts are worth, and it turns out that they agreed.

If you’re completely fed up with letting your paycheck dictate what you can and cannot afford, take the time to re-evaluate your view on who you really want controlling your income. If you have a talent or skill that is in demand and want or need to work in a non-traditional setting, take it from someone who made it work: anything is possible.

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What’s in a logo?

Photo courtesy of Roadside Pictures

How important is a logo?

A few weeks ago, I decided to renew my membership at my local gym. To my surprise, (and later, my disappointment) the gym had completely changed during the months I’d been away, beginning with a bold new logo that was stretched out across the front of the building. I soon learned that the gym had been acquired by a larger company that was going about making several changes to ‘improve’ the quality of the fitness studio, and the new logo was the first of many steps in making those changes.

But let’s backtrack a little. I first joined the gym a couple of years ago. When I signed up, I was instantly sold on the relaxed, friendly vibe I felt as I passed through its doors. In my experience, gyms tend to be too clinical, catering more toward the fitness freaks and bodybuilder types that bring in the bulk of the revenue. But this was a different place. It seemed to be I could be sitting at a rowing machine next to a 75-year-old gent as much as, say, a lean twenty-something with perfect abs. And that was what originally drew me in. It was a place where everybody felt welcome. It was more about improving health in a relaxed, encouraging way that simply made you feel good. And what more than that do you need? Apparently a lot, according to the new owners of the club.

Staring at the new bold sign on the front of the building, I could tell that my once warm and inviting gym was gone. The logo, built in large red and black letters, was sheer-edged and pumped up (like the kind of bodybuilder they want you to be, apparently). It looked like the kind of blocky font you find on almost every bodybuilding supplement.

Unfortunately for me, the changes didn’t end with the logo. Despite already being a pretty slick facility, the new owners promised a complete refurbishment of the building over six months, with upgrades to machines, weights and other equipment. After renewing my membership, I also learned of a more immediate change: tie-in fitness merchandise. From apparel to bodybuilding supplements, advertisements were now being blasted through the gym’s overpowering sound system while you work out. It can certainly be argued that these are all good things in terms of business expansion (and other gym goers may even embrace these changes), but in implementing them, the spirit of my old gym had been killed.

I’m sad to see my friendly gym replaced with a cold, clinical place much like thousands of other fitness studios on the planet. But I must give kudos to the company for their new logo, and here’s why: before I’d even entered the building the logo told me everything I needed to know about the new direction they were taking, with a single glance. Okay, so it turned out to be a negative association for me, but that doesn’t change the fact that the logo was perfectly clear in what it was selling. Not every business can claim to do the same.

Building your brand from the logo up is a smart way to inform people of exactly what it is you want to sell them. If you’re about to set out on a new creative venture, be mindful of your intended target when designing your logo, and it should get you a long way.

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