YOU GUYS!!!! You did it! You did it well and right and I’m so so thankful! After my big ask last week, you all came through with NINE questions! Nine really great, thoughtful questions. Thank you so much for delivering just like I knew you would, and most of all, for trusting me. I won’t let you down!

I am, of course, still taking questions and you can always find our form, The Sarah Project Official Question & Quandry Submission Form, here.

Today, I’m actually going to answer two questions! WHAT!?! Yeah, two questions. Why? Because I’m feeling cocky—both in my ability and in your coming through for me with more questions. Because they’re pretty similar in terms of the basic issue: how to interact with magazines/bloggers/news sources to drum up some publicity for you/your company/your products.

So here we go. Here are the two questions as I originally received them:

I’ve noticed a lot of businesses giving away product to bloggers, magazines, celebrities etc… to gain notice in their respective publications/social media accounts. I have personal objections to this, and I think that the willingness to give away your product de-values it. My product is also a higher price point, and therefore I take a bigger hit giving away samples and pieces to gain traction. Do you have advice for doing this in a sustainable way, or other options to promote to bloggers and such?
—Marketing Conundrum

Sarah! We’re dead center in our ‘slow period’ and freaking out. It’s our first year in business as a brick and mortar and are desperate to find creative and FREE ways to advertise our business. (And we say free because we need free, not just because we want free.) We are participating in social media, admittedly not as frequent as we should (think weekly instead of daily), and gaining slow and steady traction. I guess our question is, how do we get other people to write about us and create some legitimate buzz? We think we’re buzz-worthy. We’d love to see some bloggers and newspaper/online writers take the time to visit us and consider writing a piece about our shop, but I don’t know how to reach out to these people without sounding desperate. We have a website that we’re proud of, maybe a great way for these people to get a feel for us before committing to spending time on us. Any tips?
—Twiddling Thumbs

And here are the three issues we need to tackle to help these small business owners out:

  • the ethics of giving away your product for review, and if doing so devalues your product
  • how much publicity can you get for free, and…
  • how do you approach your targets without feeling lame and/or desperate

So, logically, let’s start at the end: never feel weird or desperate pitching yourself/your product/your business to a blogger, magazine, or news source. You are helping them. Their entire job is to produce content—to find things to write about. And trust me when I say, finding things to write about can be the most challenging part of writing. (HELLO! Remember my big desperate ask from last week!?! The one that got me EXACTLY what I was looking for?!? Yeah.)

Now, this is not me giving you permission to be pushy and aggressive. There are best practices for approaching writers and you should always, always employ them. On the most basic level, a press release is how you get the word out there. We send them out for the Flea events, as do most other markets, and I think that small businesses should be employing this tactic, as well. Press releases will usually do you the most good when pitching to bigger news sources which are, across the board, grossly understaffed. In fact, often times they will publish the press release you send them with very few edits or additions. (I know that can be intimidating when you think about writing something that may go straight to press. And I promise to make and/or source a press-release writing guide or course for you in the near future.)

For pitching to bloggers, I would take a different approach. They are not giant news conglomerates that are under a ton of pressure and running from an ever-shrinking budget. They are humans. People. Generally, people who write and share and praise because it brings them a lot of joy, and some income. READ: They are not independently wealthy and their time, talent, and the audience they’ve built is still very, very valuable. Now, our reader (Marketing Conundrum) didn’t get into the specifics of his/her ethical concerns surrounding the product-pitch method, so I can’t address them directly, but I also don’t want to dismiss them entirely. My understanding is that the product-pitch method was the result of a discounted view many people had/still have of bloggers and the scope of their reach, plus the difficulty of selling/aptly displaying conventional ad space on earlier blog platforms. Essentially, this kind of bartering system—goods (your products) in exchange for a service (reviewing them)—stands in place of a dollars for ad space system. Nowadays, many bloggers do sell ads on their sites, and if you’re still uncomfortable with the product-pitch method, this door is open to you. However, I believe the product-pitch method usually has a higher ROI for makers. A lot of bloggers are also willing to host giveaways as an extension of this method. (Which yes, leads to you giving away more of your product, but it’s to a third party, so maybe you feel a little better about that. Maybe not.)

My advice to you, Marketing Conundrum, is to reconsider the product-pitch method, but just be really selective and thorough in doing so. In fact, I think this process only devalues your product if you are reckless about who you pitch to. I don’t think it’s out of line to reach out to other small businesses (although not your direct competitors) asking about the experience they’ve had with certain bloggers you’re considering pitching to. Also, with more expensive products, you’ll of course want to pitch to a blogger who has a more affluent readership. If you’re being really selective, you should be targeting high-end lifestyle bloggers who probably have hard numbers to show you regarding their reader demographics. The reason I want to push you to reconsider product-pitching, is that I think it can help your brand gain nationwide recognition and significantly boost online sales in a way other campaign methods simply can’t. As we’ve talked about in the past, employing a strong social media marketing campaign can empower your current customers to act as brand ambassadors for you and is a great means of gaining new followers and customers. However, as a local brand, that campaign can sometimes stall out at your regional boarders. Thus, selectively product-pitching to bloggers outside your city/region can be a great companion method for your current brand campaigns.

For Twiddling Thumbs, I would suggest hosting local bloggers for a special event at your space. Maybe dress up your brick and mortar store a little, reach out to some food/beverage makers that might also be looking for a boost (and/or some of your neighbors), and throw yourselves a bit of a party. Invite your best customers, close friends, and then send out a press release with a little pep and personality to aforementioned bloggers and smaller, more specialized news sources. A lot of small businesses were doing similar events around Valentines/Galentines Day, but I think you could pull it off for the start of Daylight Saving Time or the first day of spring. This will also give you a low-risk means of practicing your press release writing skills. Play some tunes, poor some bubbly, and make some new friends in a space where you’re already comfortable.

As for that web site you’re really proud of, figure out how it can work for you. I looked, and you’re right! It’s awesome! But make it a resource for me. Can you set up an online sales platform? Or would creating content via a blog be more engaging to your followers? Maybe as an extension of your event, invite bloggers to guest post on your store blog about their best finds form your store. You might even be able to set up your own version of the product-pitching system by offering some perks to a small number of local bloggers.

The great thing about modern commerce is that modern customers love to engage with your company beyond the initial transaction. So much so that an entire subset of them have become professional customers/brand engagers.

They’re most commonly referred to as bloggers.

So reach out. They don’t bite. I promise.

the sarah project: the big ask

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

blog-posts-sarah-project-the-big-ask

Oh hey guys!

How’s it going? You notice that little bit of extra sunshine we’re getting? Yeah, I’m pretty excited about it, too. Looks like this winter stuff won’t last forever after all.  

So how’s the fam? Good? That’s awesome! Your mom/kid/dog is so cute!

Yeah, so anyways… The reason I called blogged, is because I was hoping you could do me a small favor. See I’ve got this advice column gig…

Yeah, no, it’s great. Yep, I’m actually getting paid to give people advice. Oh, haha. I always forget how funny you are.

Anyways… yeah, this advice column. The thing is…

I kind of need you guys to ASK ME SOME DAMN QUESTIONS!

Otherwise, I just keep having these really awkward one-sided conversations with myself. (See above.)

But! After a particularly great chat wherein I asked myself for advice as to why nobody was asking me for advice, I realized something! Anonymity! You guys need some anonymity—the chance to ask me questions, and share your deepest, darkest, social media secrets without outing yourselves!

(So… not to give it all away up front, but a good Google form is pretty much always the answer.)

I give you… The Sarah Project Official Question & Quandary Submission Form!

If all this is revving up some guilt, pity, or just unbearable awkwardness and you really want to submit a question but can’t think of anything, here are some not-so-subtle suggestions.

  • I run a service-based business and spend A LOT of time communicating with potential clients. If only a percentage of those potentials actually sign on as clients, I feel like I’m wasting A LOT of time. Help!
  • I think this other business owner is over-engaging in my social media postings in an attempt to feed off my followers! How do I politely tell them to back the eff off?
  • I’m trying to transition from my soul-sucking day job to working full time on my kick-ass, life-affirming hobby job but what if I fail? Or worse, what if my life-affirming hobby job BECOMES just another soul-sucking day job!?!
  • What’s the meaning of life?
  • Is self-tanner ever a good idea?
  • Why does my dog bark at the mail man but not the UPS driver?

So there it is kids—my big ask. Help me help you!

Also, if you’re wondering about me and why I’m qualified to answer your questions and fix your life, here’s what I can tell you. I’m 28, married, and currently succeeding at keeping two dogs and five house plants alive. I’m the middle (mostly-grown) child and the only girl. I learned pretty early on to ask for what I want, and also spent a lot of time quietly observing my brothers’ ultimately-benign, poor life choices. I’m happy to say that the most expensive thing I own is my college degree: a B.S. in journalism from Ohio University—my favorite place on earth. I’m self-aware, clumsy, well-intended, usually hungry, and chronically disappointed in my wardrobe. Mindy Kaling/Lahiri is my hero. I’ve been working for Indie Foundry/The Cleveland Flea for a year and a half now. I’m the Market Manager, the office mom, and I’m damn good at my job.
Also, if you abuse this form and send me shitty and gross questions, I will Liam Neeson you.
Feel free to do with this information what you will. 

Perspective + Process.

Monday, February 16, 2015

nikki38

The closer we get to Flea Season, the more stressed I get.  This year I’m tackling new BIG things that bring along with them new challenges and new anxieties.  This stress has the capacity to change my perspective from, “Wow, I’m living my dream life!” to, “Why did I get myself into this?  How could I sign myself up for such a monstrous challenge?  I’m just not good enough to get this done.”  Wow, right?  There are times when tackling a new challenge (like hiring new employees) just might stress me enough to make me forget just how lucky I am to be running this creative business with dream customers, dream jobs and dream employees.

Through some observation and journaling, I’ve begun to notice something about myself.  When the tasks are new and big, I get overwhelmed and can barely see my path in front of me.  But what I’ve also learned by working with creative clients over the past few years is that the answer to that project anxiety (or the unknown) is to zoom out and create a method for getting from point A to B.   Methods and process break big things down into small steps.  As much as I am a free spirit and I want everyone to live their dream life, I always find that it’s not the dreaming alone but the doing that gets you that dream life.  What gets me feeling dreamiest is tackling the numbers, planning the process and executing on that plan.  What gets me stressed is avoiding the numbers, and not doing the work.

Perspective-and-Process

This year we’re taking big leaps.  We’re running our first Kickstarter for The Cleveland Flea.  We’re launching a new site here AND at The Flea.  We’ve hired 2 new employees who are amazing additions to our already kick-ass team.  We’ve got 3 interns, a new lecture/workshop series and a plan to make The Flea bigger and better this year.  When I zoom out, I am so proud of how far we’ve come and I know that I can tackle the new (and exciting) challenges ahead.  But when I lose perspective, and focus only on how big things seem, all that goes away.  So, today, I’m focusing on process, mapping out how we’ll get from A to B and reclaiming the joy I have for this kick-ass creative business.

 

Making time to stay inspired.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

staying-creative-header

As creative entrepreneurs, we get into our own businesses because we have a desire to express our creativity and make money doing it.  I know, because I’m one of those creatives.  Hi there, friends, Stephanie here.  I began a side business while I was at my architecture firm as an outlet for creative expression- but the kind that I could get paid for.  At that point, of course, I wasn’t planning on launching my business full time so I was blissfully unaware how the running of a business could actually kill much of that creativity.

Flash forward 6 years later, and I’ve got two thriving businesses that at times feel like newborn twins– always on my mind, depriving me of sleep, hard to tell the difference between the two and certainly presenting some new tax challenges.  I think babies actually help you with the tax situation, though businesses might not.  But just like those twins, they provide me with so much purpose, drive and an outward expression of myself.  I couldn’t be happier with the dream life for myself.  But sometimes I’m bogged down with being the boss, making big decisions, reviewing contracts, tracking progress, writing eCourses, creating processes, worrying about payroll and prepping for taxes.  It can zap a lot of energy (though I love being a boss and running a business) so I need some time to recover and continue to inspire myself.  But the challenge I face is guilt.  Guilt at making decisions that favor me instead of my business.  Well, I’ll tell you that I had to squash that and remember that I STARTED THIS BUSINESS.  What’s the use of having my own schedule and autonomy if I stay tethered to rules that I had imposed upon me when I worked for someone else?  So, here’s how I stay inspired and battle guilt while also remaining a responsible and thriving business owner.  An uninspired creative won’t remain an innovative leader.

staying-creative

Create a vision board.  At the beginning of 2014, I crafted a vision board from a piece of foam core and lots of magazine cuttings that began the piece together the dream life that I live today.  That board lives in my bedroom, and I look at it at least weekly, to check in on all those longer-term goals and keep space for all the wonderful people and dreams that I’m inviting into my life.

Create some work / life boundaries.  I hired a consultant to come into my home office and devise a strategy to give me some distance and even celebrate my personal space in a way that I hadn’t been able to make myself.   I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.  Nikki helped me purge and then re-design with what was left to create my own dreamy work/life space.

Book a trip.  I can hardly believe I’m going, but I just booked at ticket to Morocco for March (YAYYYYYYYY!!!!).  I used to travel abroad at least yearly, and then when I launched my business I was in startup mode for so long I forgot that travel is essential to my creativity.  Getting that trip on the books, building excitement and planning my work around it builds in into my business plan rather than leaving it as a non-necessary luxury.

Take one day off a month to inspire my entire staff.  This is a policy I’ve adopted because I was listening to the Design Sponge After The Jump podcast and they mentioned having one day to get out of the office and stay inspired.  I love the idea, because I LOVE my staff so much and I look forward to helping make their lives as dreamy as mine and my clients’ lives.

Read & Write.  Even though I’m not as accomplished and experienced a writer/blogger as I’d like to be, I do enjoy sharing my story with my tribe (that’s YOU) and encouraging others to share their trials, tribulations and victories.  I also love reading, and I’ve picked up some rather lovely books lately.  It’s nice to have that time in bed or my reading nook, with some tea and a notebook to take down my inspirations.

Share my own gifts of knowledge.  I’ve recently hired a copywriter to help me turn what I’ve learned in the past 6 years running a creative business and the last 3 years running an incubator program for makers into an eCourse, workshops, blog posts and other content aimed at helping other creatives run more successful, lucrative and purposeful businesses.  I learned so much from my own coach and brand specialists, and I wouldn’t be here without them.  Even just writing this little blog post gives me energy, and that’s how I know that it’s worth doing even if I’m staying up a bit past my 10pm curfew (only on nights when I don’t have spin the next morning).

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

I’d love to know what keeps you inspired in the midst of running your creative business.  Share it here or on facebook. 

sarah-project-intro-photo

Only a crazy person insists on originating 100 percent of the content they share online.

You have a business to run. So running your company’s social media accounts cannot, in itself, be a full-time business.

For example, I’m giving myself exactly one hour to write this blog post. Believe me when I say that is a challenge. Without a hard deadline, I can spend more than half the day writing a single post. And I’m a fancy writer with a fancy journalism degree and years of blogging experience.

But writing takes time, And so does great photography and videography and graphic design. No matter the method through which you create content, it all takes time.

So you should probably just give up and go back to that corporate job where you were stuck in a cubicle and there was no pressure to share anything because nobody even knew your name.

Just kidding. Don’t do that.

But also, don’t feel that you have to reinvent the wheel. There is so much good content already out there. Content that your followers probably have not seen and that they will so greatly appreciate you sharing. That’s why those smart kids over at Facebook invented the share button anyway.

Now here’s the catch: you can’t just get lazy and share every cute kitten video you find and stop creating content altogether. Like most things in life, this is about balance. And integrity—correctly and diligently crediting your sources is a must.

The right balance between creating and sharing is different for everyone. And finding it is going to be a matter of trial and error. The one thing I will speak on is that, as a reader, I would rather see a business only post 4 or 5 times a week than share more unoriginal content as a means to an end. If you find the balance you’re comfortable with, but can only keep up with it on a 4-times-weekly basis, that’s okay. Don’t throw a bunch of filler at me just to keep your name at the top of my newsfeed.

Now, as far as curating what you share and giving appropriate credit, I can speak on that all day long. But, I only have 35 minutes of my hour left, so let’s head off on a bit of a tangent and simultaneously focus on giving credit appropriately.

When Robin Williams died, I was as heart-broken as the rest of the country, and I immediately sat down to watch Dead Poets Society. As a fancy writer myself, John Keating is naturally my favorite Robin Williams. Keating gave us so much inspiration, so many quotable quotes.

“Carpe, carpe diem. Seize the day boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”

“I always thought the idea of education was to learn to think for yourself.”

“Language was developed for one endeavor… To woo women! And in that endeavor, laziness will not do.”

“No matter what anyone tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”

And my favorite: “That powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse!”

Seeing every social media platform busting at the seams with these quotes and so many others from the over-100 films Williams completed in his lifetime was such a comfort.

Until I saw one of the above quotes, beautifully illustrated, and incorrectly credited only to Robin Williams. As much as Williams IS Keating, and as much as I will always hear those words in his iconic voice, Williams didn’t write them. Williams did not create that content. They weren’t part of an acceptance speech or an interview with Inside the Actors Studio. Tom Schulman, or one of the writers on his staff, wrote them. And across all the illustrations of those quotes, he is never credited. Part of the job I think—a necessary evil. One of those weird hiccups that comes with writing screenplays rather than novels. But 90 percent of the time, John Keating is credited, or Robin Williams as John Keating, or Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society. And as much logic deters me from giving credit for real words and real sentiment to a fictional character, by extension, this fictional character accepts credit on behalf of his creator.

John Keating is given credit for these lines on behalf of Tom Schulman; Robin Williams is not. Crediting Williams with these words is factually inaccurate. It robs Schulman of something.

And yes, like I mentioned above, that was a bit of a tangent. I will admit that it was something I’ve been wanting to get off my chest for awhile now. But I think it’s really applicable here. I know that you think you’re just sharing a meme, or a kitten video, or a blog post, or a quote from a movie that seems applicable to this day, in this life, in your business, but so often, you’re sharing someone’s art.

And just as you wouldn’t want one of your customers or clients passing off your product as something they made themselves, that artist doesn’t want you taking credit for their art. So do the research, do the digging, find the source, and give credit where it’s due.

a verse

For the record, I’m fairly certain Tom Schulman got his—the money, the mansion, the awards and accolades.

Next week, we’ll get into how to best curate the content you do you share. But if there’s something specific you want to chat about, or a question you have, please reach out. Email me at sarah@theclevelandflea.com.

[In case you’re wondering, I did go over my time limit on this. But only by 15 minutes! Sometimes a small failure feels more like a small victory—perspective.]

 

Building a dream job.

Monday, February 9, 2015

dream-job-1

One of my friends asked me the other day just what was the turning point in my business.  I had to think about it– the question AND the answer.  Was there something or some moment that defined this dream job?  Was I there yet?  I certainly have dreamy days and not-so-dreamy days.  I think life must be like that.

When I thought more on the questions, I settled on a few key moment and actions that truly have had impact on where I am now.  For one, I have a large tolerance for the unknown.  It allows me to take risks that others might not ever consider.  Another big part of what changed everything for me was shifting my attitude/mindset and investing (money & time) in my success.  Committing to my dream and creating a structure around it also feels pretty high on my list.  Making my dream a reality was as much about letting go of what wasn’t working as it was about grabbing on tight for what was (and paying professionals to help me get the message out).  But also, the truth is that I’ve been working at this dream for years, putting in countless hours and fighting against large doses of of doubt/fear/rejection and the occasional setback.  When I had enough money, I hired a team to help me build this dream.  I couldn’t do it alone, as much as I wished I could.  I trusted professionals to take my vision and help me craft it into something I could sell to pay my bills and fund my dreams.  I still don’t feel like I’ve “made” it, but I do feel closer because I’ve created a job that allows me to have purpose and autonomy, while being of service to others in the process.

dream-job-2

I look at this team, this group of wonderful ladies who help me make this dream job possible every day, and I think to myself, “How lucky I am to be here doing what I do.”

If you’re looking for a way to build your dream job, give us a buzz over at Indie Foundry to see if we can help you get clarity and build a brand that kicks ass.  Just email us at Stephanie [at] indiefoundry.com 

Design Dream: A Tiny A-Frame House

Saturday, February 7, 2015

building-a-dream

We’ve been plotting and planning some amazing projects for the 2015 Flea Season, and it got me thinking about one of my ultimate passions, building a tiny home for myself.  There’s something about the details and scale of tiny homes that allow you to see the human touch in the building process.  For the Flea, we’re specifically looking into building some A-Frame structures that will serve as some cool infrastructure and as I’ve been researching, I’ve been coming across tons of sweet little cabins and homes that I want to live in– right now.  I started a Pinterest board so follow along if you’re so inclined.

building-a-dream-2

I hope you’re all having a beautiful, snowy Saturday.

the sarah project: perk up

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Last time, I told you that photo and video are king. This is true. But words are also, like, super important and stuff.

See—you hate me right now because of how I worded that last sentence. It reads in the voice of a slightly annoying and flippant teenager (think Haley Dunphy). The only thing worse would be the opposite extreme—pretentious, stuffy, and akin to a waspy grandmother (à la Emily Gilmore). I can’t pull off either of these tones because I’m almost 30, and only almost 30, and it’s 2015, so the world generally expects you/me to be both educated and not an uptight jerk about it.

Now, each brand, company, and/or small business has to find their own voice—something that aligns with their objectives and also feels natural. There is no one-size-fits-all for this kind of stuff, but there are definitely some one-size-fits-none varieties.

There are a few things to avoid, but today we’re just going to cover negativity. There are a few versions of the @DebbieDowner voice, so let me break down all the possible kinds of whining that nobody wants to hear.

  • “The job I made for myself and the work that I do is so hard, and nobody understands because I work all by lonesome all the time!”
    • Yes, running your own business is hard and being self-employed can be lonely, but nobody wants to come to your social media pity party. That being said, there is definitely room for real talk and honest connection in your posts.
    • What to say instead: If you’re struggling with one specific aspect of owning/running your business, talk about it in a really straight-forward way, and ask for help. Like I’ve discussed in pretty much every single post so far, your customers and followers want to interact with you. They want to help you! And if you can’t make heads or tails of your taxes, or need to streamline your shipping process, there is probably somebody out there who would jump at the chance to help you. You started this business because you’re really good at something, not because you’re really good at everything and want to run the world. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a lot of aspects of running your business, pick one thing to tackle, follow the instructions above, and then get yourself a cocktail. You deserve it!
    • Now, what I haven’t gotten into yet is that other companies/brands/ small business owners want to interact with you, too! Because the same things that are tripping you up are probably difficult for some of them, as well. And! You most likely share a customer base with small businesses on your radar, so anything related to how you interact with the public is that open door you’ve been waiting for to start building connection to those people who do understand!
      • Remember, sharing a customer base does not always equal competing for customers. One needs both bread and cheese to make a grilled cheese sandwich, so make friends with the baker!
    • My favorite thing about this approach is that it turns a negative into a positive. Engaging your followers by asking for help builds connection that empowers them to act as a brand ambassador going forward. After the issue has been resolved, a quick post thanking everyone who helped—and calling out those who went above and beyond directly—is quick, easy, and necessary.
  • “I’m a total failure and have officially fired myself. Sven the office mouse is now taking over the business.”
    • We all screw up and feel like assholes sometimes. If we didn’t, our egos would get too big. And when your ego is too big it’s like wearing a dopey mascot costume of yourself. Don’t be Dopey Mascot Rob Lowe. But also, don’t be Self-Deprecating Business Owner.
      • Don’t get me wrong, self-deprecation can be funny. But I know exactly one real-life person who can do it well, and that person is not you. (For the record, that person is also not me.) So if you insist on it, use the funny-sads sparingly. This is not your go-to, your wheelhouse, or old faithful. This is the social media equivalent of your ugly Christmas sweater—best worn sparingly and off-season.
    • What to say instead: Nothing. Seriously, cut yourself some slack and be kind to yourself. Remember that you had so many more of these shit days back when you were working that job you hated. And you also had a lot fewer good days there. You’re on the right track and tomorrow will be better. And today, there is wine.
  • “This horrible winter weather is single-handedly ruining my life, my business, and my hair.”
    • Stop it.
    • “There is no such thing as bad weather…”
    • What to say instead: If the weather IS relevant to your business, like you do environmental work and are trying to convince everyone that global warming is real (which, first of all, cheers to you), then you are allowed to talk about the weather. If you do not do environmental work, call my Uncle Tom in Seattle and talk to him about the weather. Literally NO ONE else wants to hear it.

So, the moral of the story here is perk the eff up. And be nice to yourself. Remember that you’re in control here, so you can change the things that aren’t working. And you will, some day, be able to hire someone to do all the REALLY bad stuff.

Until then, send me your questions and pet peeves! Even if you need to write out the negative stuff that’s bouncing around your head and itching to make it to your Faacebook page, email it to me instead—sarah@theclevelandflea.com. I want to help!

 

yes please-cover

I’ve been a huge fan of Leslie Knope ever since she fell in a hole (and later worked to turn that hole into a park) in Parks and Recreation.  I’ve been a huge fan of Amy Poehler since seeing her on SNL and laughing my a$$ off.  So, when I saw her book coming out, I immediately ordered a copy for myself and 3 more for my besties.  I have been traveling this last week, and have had lot of time in the airport, and just exploring Denver on my own (more on that later), so I made sure to have Yes Please with me most times.  It’s an easy read, not overly complicated and seems more blog/journal/stream of consciousness than “book” but was funny, and honest and nonetheless taught me a few things.  I, myself, am no Shakespeare, so I’m not really going into the whole literary critic side of things, because I honestly have no business doing that.   But there are some great nuggets to share, and it was a super fun read.

yes-please-1

We can think that overnight success is a real thing.  It’s not, as much as I can tell.  I’ve been lucky enough to find myself in a position where my business actually pays my bills and makes me happy (most days) but that doesn’t mean that it came easy.  There were sleepless nights (many) and strategic planning and hiring people who could help me connect the dots of my experience and skills into something that can help people and generate income.  There is so much I had to learn, by just doing, and not worrying about being perfect.  I was far from it, but unless I put in the time and just did the work, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

yes-please-2

yes-please-3

yes-please-4

yes-please-5

This chapter is titled “gimme that pudding”, within part 2:  Do Whatever You Like.  In this case, “pudding” is synonymous for awards, accolades and acknowledgement.  What cracks me up about this chapter is that Amy and Tina Fey come up with a scheme at the 2012 Emmy’s to pretend that they are fake actors in the audience representing some fake movie.  But they were also up for their  (real) category.  So when each was announced, they’d snuggle up to some celebrities.  In Amy’s case, she decided to sit on George Clooney’s lap (and didn’t really bother to tell him or his people that was going to happen).  Ask for forgiveness, right?  That’s what I do, and I’m lucky it’s mostly worked this far.  The stunt is funny and silly and reminds me of the shenanigans that I pull with my lady friends.  And I totally agree that it’s better to do things together and have those experiences rather than win some award or accolades.

yes-please-7

 

yes-please-6

I love this quote from Amy, “You have to be where you are to get where you want to go.”  I think she’s referring to being in the moment, really being in the moment to get yourself to the next place you’re supposed to go.  I don’t have my book with me right now so I can’t check, and I really want to publish this post.

Funniest chapter:  “Obligatory Drug Stories”

Most analogous to running a small business:  Chapter on How a Movie is Made (again, I don’t have my book, so that’s the best I can remember).  It gives you the job descriptions of all those people who get movies made, and it just reminds me that the small biz owner wears all the hats (initially), but that you really want to be the coveted Producer.

So, who wants to trade me Tina Fey’s Bossypants, or Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl or Mindy Kahling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

 

 

 

 

Don’t make it the mountain.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

dont-make-it-the-mountain

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m in the mountains or not, but they’ve been on my mind.  There have also been a few other things on my mind.  Setting up my accounting for 2014 business taxes, making a call to a business owner that I truly admire (who I believe I totally let down), setting up appointments to get new insurance and then various doctor appointments, getting my nutrition and fitness in check, and finalizing my business plan for our 2015 expansion.  These things have been hanging over my head, taking up space in my mind, causing me to lose sleep and taking me away from thoughts that might add to my overall happiness.  But also, getting through these things actually MAKES ME FEEL BETTER.  It’s maybe the anticipation that this will suck or my anxious, quickening pulse that I get when I think about tackling them that stops me in my tracks.  Or maybe it’s the fact that I’m not doing them that causes me the most stress.  Knowing that something is important but that I’m making the choice to not make it a priority is probably the root feeling if I dug deep.  But today, I made that call, and you know what?  It turned out great.  So, my advice to anyone who is trying to tackle something that seems impossible (or just plain not-fun).  Don’t make it the mountain.  Just pick up the phone, put down the social media, and just DO THE WORK.  Trust me, it’s just the thing you need to do.

Theme by Blogmilk   Coded by Brandi Bernoskie