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CAUTION: Don’t Rely On Gurus

Don’t do it.

After spending most of the past year laying a solid foundation for my resort-based websites, I found myself listening to guru podcast after guru podcast instead of concentrating on things that really mattered to drive my business.

I was of the opinion that everyone else (except for me) had uncovered the secret to online success. If I could just listen to each worthwhile podcast or attend the ‘mustn’t-miss’ webinar, I, too, would learn the secret and be on my way.

Three things happened that not only changed my mind, but more importantly, corrected my course.

The Perceived Experts

There were two back-to-back instances that didn’t just make me take pause, they stopped me cold in my tracks.

I was following one social media guru who I thought had all the answers. First, I noticed her healthy twitter following and her impressive guest lineup for her webinars. I opted-in to receive her free manifesto and purchased one of her online courses on social media.  I even participated in her members-only social media groups.

And then I decided to take the day off, away from the computer. Relaxing by the pool with my podcasts fired up and ready to go, I had the first “oh, say it isn’t so” moment.

This nice guru of mine was being interviewed as a guest entrepreneur for another podcast. Truth revealed, she was barely scraping by and admitted to almost throwing in the towel numerous times.

Here I was, thinking she was making well over six figures a year when she had just surpassed four. I did learn some things from her, but to assume she was the ‘be-all, end-all’ because of her following and connections was a miscalculation on my part.

By the way, you’ll start noticing, once you hop on the guru train, that clusters of gurus begin to form in order to build each other’s email lists via guest posting and webinars. It’s not a bad short-term tactic, but it seemed to me to be more about tit for tat than forging real partnerships focused on bringing genuine value to the end customer.

Mistake #1: Don’t believe everything you hear.

I invested less time in following the second guru.

He appeared to have credentials and came recommended by yet another guru in the circle I followed (one who actually walks the walk), so I was almost hooked when our less-than-impressive encounter occurred.

I registered on his website for his enticing offer to be considered for one of the free spots in his mastermind class. He clearly knew of one proven online secret: the money is in the (email) list.

He got this sucker’s email address.

Yet, instead of gaining access to his ‘expertise,’ I was given random reasons why we weren’t a good fit — one being the name of my company of all things. Another reason?  He wanted members of his mastermind class to possess a robust email list in order to help promote his business.

After I provocatively pushed back, he conceded. I unsubscribed after seeing others complaining in his email threads about similar tactics.

Mistake #2: Believing you can get something for nothing.

It was at this moment that my chutzpah returned, and I finally realized it was time to quit looking outside myself for some illusory magic potion.

Guess what? The secret is that there is no magic potion other than putting in the work.

Interestingly enough, when I stopped looking at the gurus and started looking in the mirror, I realized I possessed more sales and marketing experience from a longstanding sales and marketing career than they had since graduating from college (or not) just a few years earlier.  I’m guessing I also made more money.

Because I came from a corporate sales environment, I was under the wrong impression that my past experience wouldn’t translate into this new online world.

Mistake #3: Thinking online sales is completely different from offline sales.

With 20+ years of solid sales experience, I know one thing for sure: sales is sales is sales.  If you can sell offline, you more than likely have the ability to sell online, given the right tools.

Because of your experience, you’ll know that it boils down to offering value where demand exists.

Yet, since there are so many new variables that impact an online business, ranging from community development to search results, it’s easy to become sidetracked in the confidence department.

Confidence Builders

It wasn’t until I reinstated my confidence and started unsubscribing from those pundits who didn’t deliver real value to my work day that I got back to doing real revenue-generating work.

For one, the time I saved from emptying my inbox of guru solicitations has been nothing short of amazing.

Since unsubscribing, I have used that extra time to complete Technology Entrepreneurship e-145 which is a course offered through Stanford University (it is one of my endorsed programs).

This third ‘eye-opener’ was time well spent.

If you want to succeed in any online business, I suggest you start there, learning from the best (really).  This course, which was difficult and time consuming, was inspirational, educational and invaluable.

I just learned that out of 2,000+ teams who participated in Stanford’s foray into online learning, my Food Compass Team Project is one of a handful being considered by Stanford for promotion of their online course.

This compliment (and my team’s five star rating) drives home the point that when you stop looking to others for all the answers, it’s amazing what you’ll uncover — all by yourself.  You’re more competent than you think you are, and the truth is that no one knows your business better than you do.

Now, if you’d just start taking the time to listen to your intuition over their podcasts.

Bottom line?

I may have been prey to some of the self-proclaimed gurus who didn’t deliver, but that’s a thing of my past.  If you don’t have proof (such as a solid Alexa ranking, huge community or a professional write up vs. a guest blog post) or years — not months — of experience backing up your claims, count me out.

You need some feathers in your cap if you’re going to be called a guru in my book.

Don’t get me wrong.  There are many experts, both online and offline, who can teach you more than a thing or two, so don’t rule out building partnerships and learning wherever you can.  I just recommend choosing your gurus wisely by teaming up with accomplished entrepreneurs who have built real businesses and/or products that generate real revenue.

I’ve accomplished a lot this past year — but my primary focus from the start should have been testing and confirming my hypotheses about the market. I’ll continue to use Lean Launch Lab to do more of that going forward.

And although I will still follow a few of the proven gurus who have taught this old dog new tricks, I’ll be refocusing my efforts and trusting myself more.

I hope you’ll do the same.

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[DOUBLE DIAMOND] TIP: Too Busy To Slow Down? Doubt It.

Get the right mindset for your online business.

I have been taking it really easy lately which is definitely a good thing. I’ve been cranking out some work, and admittedly, I’ve been recuperating from too much over-indulgence.

There’s definitely something to be said for stopping.  Just stopping whatever you’re doing and getting present.

I received an email from a friend and potential business partner this afternoon that screamed ‘overwhelmed’ to me. I’ve been there so many times, so I know. You could just tell from her writing — the anxiety and hurried wording in just her first paragraph.

It certainly made me take pause to send peace her way.

Sometimes nature makes you take pause, like right now.

Although I’ve arrived at my destination, it’s raining pretty hard outside. So, I’ve turned off the engine, turned off the lights, turned off the radio, turned off the iphone. And for the past 10 minutes, I‘ve just listened to the sound of the raindrops on the roof. It’s awesome to take the time to observe, really observe, those happy, dancing raindrops trickle and burst down the window pane.

This moment of bliss was so inspirational that I decided to write about it and share it with you, just in case you’re too busy to slow down yourself.  Hopefully you can close your eyes and at least imagine it.

It also feels like I’m in a cocoon of sorts, observing the outer world. My false perception is that no one can observe me back. I just watched a guy in a bright red raincoat and flip flops leisurely walk his yellow lab. The rain doesn’t bother him a bit. A few minutes past that, I observed a full-blown argument taking place between a stressed out couple in their car. The rain must bother them a lot.

It seems like we don’t have time, but we can make time if we really want to, especially time for ourselves. Just steal some moments like I’m doing now. I believe it’s important to take a pause out of the hectic and come back to the peace.

The ten minutes of raindrops have been music to my ears. I’m glad I’m learning to stay present. 

The street lights just came on. My roommate just came home.  And I need to pee.  So with my spirit renewed, I’m ready to dash to the door.  But at least for the past few minutes, I exhaled. And it was nice.


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[DOUBLE DIAMOND] TIP: Who Can You ‘Kudo’?

Get the right mindset for your online business.

After another late night of working into the wee wee hours, I decided to meditate to start my day off right. I always intend to take the time and do this, but I’m not always successful.

Meditation is completely appropriate and much needed during any business launch period.

Today’s guided meditation — one of my favorites — was on trust and surrender.  I find it  helpful to remember these two action verbs when bootstrapping my start-up.

Entrepreneurs find themselves working long hours, day in and day out, without little to no recognition in the beginning, so it’s important to trust that your hard work will pay off and completely surrender until it does.

After centering myself from meditation, I fired up my iPhone and immediately one email from a complete stranger caught my eye.  This stranger sincerely complimented me on something I’d written and wanted to know if I was available to discuss ways we could work together in the future since he owned a related business.

Really?  My ego took a leap.

A complete stranger was not only reading, but responding to, my written thought.

The positive feedback felt great, especially considering how exposed I’ve been feeling as a new business owner who’s authentically writing about the trials and tribulations of being an entrepreneur.  Trust me, I’d relish any and all kudos coming my way.

People don’t sincerely compliment friends, nevertheless strangers, nearly enough these days.  That’s why starting today, I am going to make a concerted effort to do that more.

A compliment is a two-way gift anyway.  Both the giver and the receiver benefit from this kind gesture; yet too often, people deprive themselves of the pleasure of giving a compliment, instead choosing to let the moment slip by without conveying their thoughts.

Maybe it’s time you take a good hard look around at your friends, family, employees, contractors, vendors, partners and even strangers.  Pay close attention.  See who needs lifting up.  Then, offer a compliment and a smile.

Times have been really tough lately.  More people than not could use some support or at least a kind word now and then.

What makes for a good compliment?  The praise needs to be sincere, specific and without qualification (no underhanded or excessive compliments).  When praise is delivered the right way, you’re bound to make that person feel better.  You may even motivate them too.

So, who can you “kudo” today?


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If you learned something from this post, please share it. It only takes a second, but it makes a huge difference to me! Thank you.

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[DOUBLE DIAMOND] TOOL: Entrepreneur Interviews

Get the right mindset for your online business.

Are you frozen by fear, scared to make a move and wondering what the heck you should do next on your entrepreneurial journey?

There’s one place I go to learn from others who have come before me, and that’s  Mixergy is a place where successful people teach ambitious upstarts what works for them, and what doesn’t.

The people who speak on the Mixergy web site or at live Mixergy events are well-known business people who take time out of their schedules to help teach others what they learned from their own experiences.

You’ll find over 725 interviews and 66 courses on all things entrepreneurial.

For example, you’ll find interviews ranging from how to systemize your business so everything runs smoothly and finding great mentors to building a passionate online community and bouncing back to $100 million-dollar success after losing everything.

Take a moment to visit the site and scroll through the interviews with exceptional entrepreneurs, and you’ll be hooked.

Mindset: Are You Playing to Win or Playing Not to Lose?

One of the things I love most about these interviews is hearing about the mindset of these entrepreneurs — what they did when they found themselves in crisis mode and how they broke through to the next, better level.

For example, in the clip below, you’ll see how one entrepreneur, Verne Harnish, got back on his feet and into the ring when he was knocked down in business.  He opened up about his dark days in business, how he snapped back, and how you can too.

It’s interviews like this one that keep me going in my own dark days as an entrepreneur.  They don’t just inspire me, the content on helps me stay focused, think outside the box and get to the next level.

Knowing that I’m not all alone in my experiences is one of the reasons I keep pushing through in spite of my darkest days as an entrepreneur.

These interviews remind me that the sun will rise again tomorrow, as it always does.

A Daily Dose

To help me stay focused and renewed, I start my days with a three mile walk in the woods with two companions: my audio companion and my sweet black lab, Lady.

I listen, I learn and I stay inspired.

That’s the only reason I wanted to share this incredible resource with you.  Please know this post is not some affiliate link or related to any “kickback.”   I just really like Andrew Warner’s Mixergy website and felt it was worth promoting to my audience. has lots of great free interviews readily available for consumption, but if you want to sign up for his premium membership (which I’ve also done), it’s well worth the $25/month expense (or less expensive for a longer commitment). 

A final bonus is that you can choose how you consume the content — watch, listen or read it.

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If you learned something from this post, please share it. It only takes a second, but it makes a huge difference to me! Thank you.

~ by Connie Hammond ~

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[DOUBLE DIAMOND] TIP: It’s Time To Burn Some Bridges

Get the right mindset for your online business.Everyone thinks that burning bridges is a horrible thing.

But when you’re an entrepreneur in the start up phase of a business, burning bridges is not only a good thing – it’s a necessity for success.

As you cross the bridge over the great divide from employee to entrepreneur, you must burn that bridge down or else you’ll find yourself constantly distracted, looking back over your shoulder.

Burning bridges keeps you from backstepping into past illusions of safety and grandeur.

When I talk about burning bridges, I’m not advocating that you write off old colleagues or telling an old boss to go jump.

What I am talking about is firmly saying ‘no’ to those nagging options that keep appearing which only serve as tests to your entrepreneurial resolve.

Don’t be like a child.

Consider a toddler who’s learning how to crawl.

With each step, he strays further and further from his comfort zone in his quest for independence. But once he crosses a threshold to a new room, he realizes “momma” isn’t in sight and goes scurrying back to safety. Once he discovers she’s there patiently waiting for him, he starts the process all over again.

This tireless zigzag pattern of reassurance works great for a child who’s in the process of flexing his independent muscles, but this fear-based pattern can wreak havoc on success when you’re an entrepreneur.

It all boils down to commitment.

Until you’re fully committed to success, you’re never going to grow your business efficiently and effectively because you’ll lack focus, constantly question yourself and ponder too many ‘what if’ scenarios instead of moving forward quickly, with resolve.

In an interview about who’s most likely to succeed with Charlie Rose, Paul Graham (cofounder of Y Combinator which is a funder of startups) indicated that “there are some people who just get what they want in the world. If you want to start a startup, you have to be one of those people. You can’t be passive and wishy-washy.”

Paul Graham talks to Charlie Rose about Character Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

He goes on to offer the five keys to entrepreneurial success: determination, mental flexibility, imagination, naughtiness (someone with a gleam in their eye; you don’t want obedient employee types) and friendship (founders who are already friends). Notice how determination was #1. Make no mistake about it, becoming truly committed – in spite of the risks involved – is one of the hardest challenges you need to face before you can truly move forward. An entrepreneur, by definition, is a “risk-taking businessperson.”  They are by nature daredevils – the ‘Evil Kneivels’ of the business world if you will. They’re constantly pushing the limits of safety, getting out of their comfort zones and taking risks to grow their business. And as entrepreneurs move forward with this daredevil mindset, failure is an almost constant companion on their journey.

Failure is your friend.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ‘fail fast and fail often.’  Although rarely intended, failure should almost certainly be expected. Too many people are afraid to fail, but those failures should be viewed as learning opportunities on your path towards success. You’ll experience lots of ‘mini-failures’ during the startup phase when you’re testing the waters in a big way. When failure starts showing up, it’s easy to run back to your old, safe life which once existed. Security blankets can show up in a variety of ways: a tried and true tempting corporate job offer which looks like the safer bet, obtaining a not-so great loan just to give you some breathing room or taking on even more dreaded consulting work that really only serves to keep your eye off the prize. Pretty soon, the mere distraction of looking over your shoulder to make sure there’s a safer option available starts to become a liability.  With each retreat back to the illusion of safety, you lose your energy. You lose momentum. You lose focus.

Keep your eye on the prize.

We’re led to believe that being uncomfortable is a bad thing. But I encourage you to consider the alternative. Being uncomfortable may be just what you need to propel yourself forward when many others give up. Are you tired, exhausted, and broke? Have you completely run out of gas?  Good. Get out of your comfort zone. Burn those bridges. Commit.  

Live and Learn.

We’d love to hear your perspective! Have you been acting wishy-washy and fear based? Do you need to recommit in a big way to propel your business forward? How do you cope when life gets tough and failure rears its ugly head?    

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~ by Connie Hammond ~  

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[DOUBLE DIAMOND] TIP: Take Time To Reflect

Get the right mindset for your online business.Like most people, I spent this past weekend reflecting on the last ten years since 9/11/01.

The memorials certainly were top of mind, but the biggest reflection trigger was having what I hope to be the last garage sale of my life (although I’m not overly optimistic considering that was the exact same sentiment I expressed after the last three).

This time, I do believe it is true.  I’ve changed.

Clearing the Clutter

No longer interested in acquisitions, I have officially entered the “less-is-more” phase of life.  Many — like my old self — claim this phrase as a badge of honor before purchasing more, but without a doubt I’ve had a shift.

These days, I much prefer life experiences over Gucci purses.

I found myself more excited about letting go of things that have been weighing me down and keeping me stuck.  So much so, that if someone really wanted something and started to haggle, I’d not only cave but give it to them outright with a “Merry Christmas” attached.

The most surprising lesson was uncovered in my clutter.  After hunting through closets and drawers for long lost possessions that have lost their appeal, I realized how much not only my tastes have changed, but so have my needs.

Reflection Confirms You’re On Track

When my friend and mentor stopped by with her lovely spirit to offer much needed support during what I hoped would be a Saturday morning shopping stampede, I smiled.

My junk had reminded me of a decade old promise I’d made to myself, and I was excited to share it with her:

“Regardless of where I was or what I was doing, I promised myself I would take the time (ie. one entire year out of corporate America) for reflection to ensure I was staying true to my life’s purpose.”

Sounds deep, I know.

But I do feel it is extremely important to check in with yourself and ask those hard life questions about which areas of your life are working and which areas of your life aren’t…and then make the necessary changes.

Ten years ago when I made that promise, I had taken time off from my sales career to randomly attend NYU’s School of Continuuing and Professional Studies for Fine and Decorative Arts Appraisals.

I did so for no other reason than I had just gotten separated from my husband and was searching for my long lost joie de vivre.

So why not try something different and immerse myself in art, music and saying yes to whims galore?

It was time well spent.

That year of immersion led to new intentions (including keeping my 10-year-old promise today) which, upon reflection, became my reality over this past decade.

I lived in Manhattan, lived in Aspen, traveled extensively, learned a new career (or two), worked with smart people, won awards, loved hard, followed the Tour de France, took up painting, joined a ski team, competed in tennis, taught myself how to build websites, completed a basement remodel, rekindled my love for the Rocky Mountains, became an entrepreneur, met hundreds of new (real and virtual) friends and most importantly laughed a lot.

“You’ve certainly done a lot of livin’ these past ten years,” she said.

Yes I have.

Slowing Down To Create My Future

So in March of this year, I kicked off another year of reflection and planning for my future.

I slowed down.  I consciously exchanged the “must do’s” for “or nots” and began the process of recentering to help intend what I experience in this upcoming decade.

I can’t wait to see how my future reality will unfold.

I’m actually surprising myself at some of the intentions I’ve been creating.  Heck, why not shoot for the moon?

So I’ve been mentally, physically and emotionally preparing for the next ten.  Like most bootlegging entrepreneurs who choose to follow their dreams over corporate America, I’ve happily started the process of downsizing my life even further so I can live even bigger.

Interestingly enough, one word keeps popping up during this planning stage:  freedom.

I noticed that with each truckload of garage sale leftovers donated to the salvation army, I exhaled deeply and felt more alive.  I also felt more on-purpose.

It was freeing.

And that’s what I want more than anything going forward: freedom to live my life on my own terms.

Live and Learn.

We’d love to hear your perspective!

Have you been taking the time to set clear intentions about your future? Do you need to de-clutter? Are you happy with your last ten?

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It only takes a second, but it makes a huge difference to me!

~ by Connie Hammond ~

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CAUTION: Average Is Over

I recently watched Thomas Friedman’s (Pulitzer Prize winning author and NY Times columnist) appearance on Piers Morgan Tonight, and I was struck by something he said.

In talking about education in America and the new world economy, he suggested we ponder the serious question: “What world are we living in?”

This discussion is one he addresses in his new book: [amazon_link id=”0374288909″ target=”_blank” ]That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back[/amazon_link].

What World Are We Living In?

Good question.  He certainly got me thinking about competition and the economic environment we live in today.  He went on to define it.

“We’re living in a “hyper” connected world which means employers have more access to more machines, more software, more robots and not just more access to cheap labor, but cheap genius, from anywhere in the world.  And this is posing a huge challenge to our workforce.

He continued, “Everyone needs to start thinking like an immigrant or an artisan.  An immigrant thinks: ‘nothing is owed me.  I don’t have a place at Harvard waiting for me.  I better understand the world I’m living in and boy, I better work harder than the next guy because I have nothing else going for me.”

Think Like An Artisan

Friedman added, “And everyone needs to start thinking like an artisan.  Before mass production, artisans were so proud of what they were doing, they carved their initials in it.  When you are doing your job today, think of the artisan.

Everyone needs to bring their “extra” because average is officially over.”

Jolting, huh?

When you own a small business, you set out all excited and professional with the best intentions and a perfect vision.

Then work happens.

You have research to do, financing to raise, meetings to attend, products to manufacture, sales to make, clients to please, colleagues to appease, websites to develop, conferences to attend, reports to read, podcasts to hear, decisions to make…the lists goes on and on.

You’re exhausted at the end of the day.

There’s Never Enough Time. 

In other words, entrepreneurs can become easily overwhelmed by their busy schedule.  Unfortunately, being overwhelmed wreaks havoc on your perfect vision and good intentions.

Before you know it, you start accepting less-than so you can just get-‘er-done.

You begin to justify to yourself why that’s okay.  And sometimes it is – you may not have a choice if you’re up against a firm deadline and need to move forward.

Sometimes, though, being busy becomes a crutch.  Excuses can always be found when needing to justify less-than deliverables to yourself and others.

Listening to Thomas Friedman served as a good reminder for me to stay true to my vision — and work extremely hard to achieve it — so I stay proud of my work.

Are you prepared to carve your initials in your work creations?  I am.

Live and Learn.

We’d love to hear your perspective!

How do you think you compete in today’s global economic marketplace?  Are you proud of your work this year?  What changes can you implement or intentions can you set today so you do better work tomorrow?

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It only takes a second, but it makes a huge difference to me!

~ by Connie Hammond ~

Live and Learn.

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CAUTION: Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself

Don’t do it.

I’ve always been one to work extremely hard.  Most entrepreneurs do — especially during the all-encompassing start-up phase.

Sole proprietor’s are incredibly fired up that they work around the clock to bring their ingenious ideas to light.  This tireless effort is exhausting enough, but when you throw your negative internal critic into the mix, it’s difficult to stay positive and proud.

“Why can’t I get more done?”  “Who do I think I am?” “Why can’t I figure it out?” “What was I thinking?” “I’m such a loser.”  “I should have kept my day job.”  “Why didn’t I workout today?” “I should have taken more technology classes” “No one gives a shit, so why am I wasting my time?”

OK.  Those negative thoughts just rolled off my tongue in five seconds flat which goes to show how hard it is to keep a positive attitude (even if you’re a positive person by nature and have been working hard to stop your internal critic by being conscious).

Those self-doubts are in the back of your mind just waiting to pounce.   Without a doubt, I’ve been harder on myself than anyone else could ever have been on me.

(Mistake #1: Engaging in negative self-talk.)

Thoughts. Words. Actions.

The problem with being your own worst critic is that it’s really a disguise for self-sabotage.  We’ve all heard about the power of positive thinking and how what you think affects what you do, but let’s face facts.  It’s hard to stay positive when you’re fried most of the time from working nonstop.

Instead, what you really need is to be your own best cheerleader and best friend.

When I find myself questioning why I launched a business and going through all the worst-case what-if scenarios and self-deprecating comments, I stop myself and ask “Is it true?”

If you’ve ever listened to Dr. Wayne Dyer or read his book [amazon_link id=”1401922945″ target=”_blank” ]Excuses Begone!: How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits[/amazon_link], you’ve probably heard him talk about the problem with memes.  Memes are cultural characteristics that are passed down from generation to generation.

Reset your mind to the possibility that your beliefs carry far more weight than you realized in determining what you can do, what you’ll undertake, and how far you’re capable of going.” —Dr. Wayne Dyer

Just because it’s a meme doesn’t mean it’s the truth.

It’s one thing to have a healthy inner self-critic that keeps you from being complacent and reminds you of where you need to grow as a business owner.  It’s another thing to have an unhealthy self-critic that operates on false assumptions.

Be Your Own Friend

If you were your friend, what would you say?  I’d probably tell myself that I am deserving of success, I work extremely hard, do my best and am already successful because I at least had the courage to go for it which is more than most can say.

So do the Stuart Smalley.  Say positive affirmations to reprogram your thought patterns if need be.  Get rid of those dysfunctional, negative beliefs.  Focus on the positive and grow your business.  Concentrate on the good — things like the tasks you’ve accomplished today, how far you’ve come overall, new partner relationships forged, new business secured (no matter how small), new podcasts heard or webinars completed.

One thing I know for sure — you’re more knowledgeable today than you were when you began on the entrepreneurial path.  So, embrace your wise self.

Bottom Line? You’ll be doing yourself a huge disservice if you engage in negative self talk more than you engage in positive self-talk for one reason: it affects your attitude.

And attitude permeates everything you do, and how you’re perceived.

Live and Learn.

We’d love to hear your perspective!

Are you constantly cutting yourself down in spite of how hard you work? Or, have you mastered the power of positive thinking?

Please share your comments below.

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[DOUBLE DIAMOND] TIP: When You Get The Wind Knocked Out of You…Breathe

Get the right mindset for your online business.

Don’t Forget To Breathe

The other night, I got the wind knocked out of me, and I literally lost my breath.

I had the excruciating pain of falling down a flight of stairs. It wasn’t a rolling tumble by any means. It was the type of fall that hurt.

I stepped on the edge of the carpeted stair, my feet flew out from under me and my back crashed with a forceful thump against the treads. I slid down the rest of the stairs, caught my breath, checked myself, and cried.

Actually, I sobbed.

Granted, it was 2 am, I was tired from being on the computer all day long, and mostly I was scared. Not paying attention, I was hurrying down the stairs to lock up before hitting the hay. I was scared because it reminded me that if I fell and did indeed get hurt, no one would even know.

Everyone in Minnesota always thinks I’m in Aspen, and everyone in Aspen always thinks I’m in Minnesota. Its times like these that make me miss my ex-husband. Or maybe I just need a “just-in-case” plan: the “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” alert pendant.

The tears flowed. And they were needed, because those tears represented a big, giant exhale.

I keep telling myself I’m getting good at being present and checking in — so much so that I can tell when I’m headed for one of these build-ups.

I start feeling antsy. I start feeling rushed. I’m indecisive and sick of the computer. I’m stressed out and delay or postpone my workouts, and I certainly don’t have time for meditation or a massage. What I’m really feeling at these times is a craving for mental rejuvenation.

But like most entrepreneurs I know, I just kept pushing through instead of paying attention to the stress build-up. There’s a reason I do this. It’s because I’m trying to beat this really big imaginary clock that keeps ticking and tocking louder and louder.

I’m racing against some imaginary time machine, yet I know that racing upstream is never a formula for success.

“If I can just do this, I can move on to that and then that will be done, which means I can do this.”  What a cruel joke doing this and that is. It never ends.

I should know better. Striving for the end game is the wrong approach; it means you are not enjoying the process. But it’s easy to get caught up in the madness. I am human after all (as clearly demonstrated by my fall).

I know I am never going to beat the clock. I know I have to let go of self-imposed deadlines. I know I need to stay in the moment. Because every single time that I do, serendipity visits.

After I fell and cried that night, I exhaled. Then I took 3 pain relievers and went to bed. The next day, I woke up sore, but renewed.

And that’s when serendipity kicked back in.

Before starting my day, I happened upon a random article that revealed how a good sob is as important to your mental well being and stress relief as is a good laugh.

My first phone call of the day had to do with an exciting new partnership opportunity.  The next call with a prospect resulted in a new consulting gig, and another client conversation resulted in a 50% increase in the monthly retainer I receive.

The point of all of these interactions is that they all produced new opportunities or ideas that did not even exist at this time yesterday.

You see, when you cry, you exhale. When you exhale, you say “I give.” When you give up and let go, you trust.

And when you finally trust, you breathe.