Two Secrets to a Productive Day

meKathyWhat Do I Do All Day?

Now that I am retired from twenty years as a school counselor, lots of people ask me how I like retirement and what I do to keep busy all day.  My response is that I love my new job of working full time as an author, coach and speaker.  I am truly busier than ever.   In fact I was just commenting to a colleague that I don’t have enough time to complete all the tasks and ideas that are swarming around in my brain.  So just what is the secret to managing my time effectively when there is no boss or predetermined schedule?

You Can’t Really Manage Time

You can’t really manage time because it is, well, time. You can’t corral it.  You can’t stop it or speed it up. But you can manage your activities. The problem most people have is that they try to manage their time by keeping track of information and priorities in their mind.  The brain is not designed to hold on to and maintain a list of everything that you need to accomplish.  The brain is designed to be used as a problem solving organ.  Here are my two secrets to having a productive day:

Begin Your Week with a Plan

Each Sunday afternoon I spend some time creating my calendar for the next week.  I have it on a whiteboard that I keep in a very visible place.  I put all my appointments, client calls, speaking engagements etc on it.  I also have this on my ipad but the large visual that I can quickly see each morning over my coffee helps me organize my day.

I have another whiteboard where I list ongoing ideas and projects.  Some of these are in various stages of completion.  Some are in my parking lot of ideas.  This means that I will get around to them at some point in the future but they are not currently demanding my time.  For example, I am currently working on completing programs for two breakout sessions for the Georgia School Counselor Conference which is in a few weeks.  This is an active project.  Creating a proposal for speaking at other conferences is in my parking lot.

Begin Your Day with a Plan

There is something incredibly compelling about a schedule that is written down. There is something powerful about knowing how you are going to spend your time and being accountable to a schedule, even if you are the only one who created it.

I begin every day with a very simple form that I complete.  I’ve tried lots of different approaches and forms and this one addresses everything that I’m trying to do in my day.  It guides my day in terms of business activities and personal schedules but it also begins with getting my mindset firmly in place.  I’ve found that this is often the forgotten piece in so many checklists.  We spend time recognizing what we want to do but don’t spend any time centering ourselves in who we want to be.  I begin each day answering the questions: Who do I want to be?  and How do I want to feel?.  Then I align my mindset with that before I even begin my tasks.

Why Creating a Plan Works

One thing that we know about the brain is that the brain is drawn toward congruity and completion.  This is why it is important to have a plan or a goal for the day.  Our brain will then want to align our daily activities with those goals.  It is drawn toward activities where completion is a given.  This is one reason that we often find our selves emptying the dishwasher when the plan was to contact three possible clients or write 1,000 words on the book.  It’s not just procrastination.  We can easily see the end of emptying the dishwasher or sorting the mail.  Other tasks are not so clear.  This is why having a system for managing tasks and setting priorities is so important.

Learning to identify the important activities in your life and structuring your day and your weeks to direct your energy is a necessary part of  living an intentional life.  It is how dreams become reality and  goals are achieved.  A goal is simply a dream with a plan.

For more information on living an intentional life, including how to structure your time, check out my book: DreamAchiever:  Simple Steps to an Extraordinary Life.

Do you need some help with creating a plan that will help you move closer to you dream job and dream life?  Check out my coaching packages.  I’d love to talk with you!

My teleseminar on Work in you Strengths~Stand in Your Power for Introverts is less than two weeks away.  Learn all about it here: http://acalledwoman.com/teleseminar

 

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Three Dog Dogmas for Winning at Life

frisbeedog

Recently, I attended the US Disc Dog National World Cup Competition in Cartersville, Georgia.  This is a fascinating organization that provides opportunities for all breeds of dogs to compete in a free style throw and catch and throw format.  Many countries were represented at the competition including Canada, Japan, China, & Czechoslovakia.  I was mesmerized by the energy and skill of these dogs.  I can only imagine the training and dedication that it takes on the part of the owners to develop the dogs into top notch competitors.

Roxy  the Rock Star and Jac

Roxy the Rock Star and Jac

Roxy the RoxStar

Here’s the back story to my attendance at the event.  While attending an author event, I met another aspiring author, Trish Greenlee who wanted to publish a book about her dog, Roxy, a rescue dog that her husband  trained to compete in disc dog events.  Roxy the RoxStar is a rags to riches story of a dog no one wanted who became a winner.  I met with Trish to advise her on how to publish her book and her book will out soon.  This competition was Roxy’s last performance as she will be retiring  and resting on her laurels which include the following:

  •  In 2009 she won 1st place in Division II Freestyle.
  • In 2010 she won 2nd place in the US Finals, and then 4th place in the World Finals.  She has qualified to compete in the World Finals event every year since 2009.  All of this is pretty incredible when you realize that she had a Titanium knee replacement in 2012.  Jac took her out of “Freestyle” competition at that time, and only competes with her in “Toss and Fetch” now.
  • In this past weekend’s events, Roxy won 7th place out of a field of 80 dogs competing in the “Toss and Fetch” competition World Finals.

Three Must Do Dog Dogmas

It occurred to me as I watched these amazing talented dogs compete that  there are a number of lessons that we as humans could learn from them.  Here are three Must Do Dog Dogmas to move into the World Cup Winning Circle in our own challenges.

  • Focus-The focus that each dog had for their trainer was the most obvious attribute.  They enter a field where there are hundreds of distractions all around:  other dogs, people talking and clapping, an announcer on a microphone, the smells of food, the wind blowing just to name a few, but the dog’s eyes remain glued to the trainer.  While they may pace and circle around in barely restrained excitement, their eyes are focused and ready for the first command.
    • What about you?  Are you focused on your goals?  Do you tune out the many distractions all around you?
  • Persist-The winning dogs persist throughout the whole routine no matter how many mistakes they make.  Certainly not every dog caught every disc thrown to them.  Some missed several in a row but not one laid down and gave up.  They gave every throw, every trick 100% of their effort and if they missed, there was not a moment’s hesitation before they took off in pursuit of the next throw.
    • What about you?  If you miss the mark, if you fail at a goal, do you collapse in a heap or do you gather up your energy and keeping moving forward?
  • Celebrate-The finish of each performance often ended with a leap of the dog into the trainer’s arms, hugs, kisses and a proud salute as they acknowledged the accolades of the audience.
    • What about you?  Are acknowledging your wins and accomplishments?  Are you taking the time to hear the cheers of the crowd?

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Winning at Life

The dogs in the competition came in all shapes and sizes.  There were dogs that may have had an advantage due to their breeding.  There were dogs that were large and could leap high in the air.  There were dogs that had long legs and could run fast.  But there were also winning dogs, like Roxy who overcame obstacles and through focus and persistence accomplished more than could be expected.  It’s all up to you how you play the cards that you were dealt in life.  No matter your circumstances, you can achieve your dream.  Just look at what Roxy accomplished and be inspired.

Roxy

Roxy, Trish and Jac Greenlee and family

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Five Top Sales Strategies for Introverts

kathyandme

I talk with lots of introverts who are passionate about their product and passionate about starting a business.  They just know that once they get it up and running, start promoting their wares or their services on Facebook, their book will be flying off the virtual Amazon shelf or people will be standing in line to sign up for their services.  Then reality hits. After the first circle of friends and family purchase the product, sales dribble in slowly if all and soon they are desperate to reel in some more customers.  But where are the customers?  What is the next step?  Please don’t tell me I have to start networking or making cold calls.  I’m an introvert, after all.  I was hoping to let Facebook be my face and my voice.

Five Top Sales Strategies for Introverts

I’m an introvert myself and learning to sell my children’s books and now my coaching services for women has taken a huge mind shift for me.  However, I’ve come to realize that introverts are uniquely wired to be great salespeople.  When you work in your strengths and learn some new strategies, it can actually be something that you not only enjoy but look forward to.

Here are my top five sales strategies for introverts:  (they’re not a bad idea for extroverts as well)

  1. Make sure you love  and believe in your product.  This seems obvious, but if you signed up to sell jewelry or make-up or vitamins or whatever, because someone told you you could make tons of money at it, but you don’t really care for the product, in fact you don’t even use the product yourself, you are going to have a hard time persuading others to buy it either.
  2. Make sure you identify your ideal customer.  Just because your product is made for women, doesn’t mean that all women everywhere are going to want or need your product.  Spend some time determining exactly who you are marketing to.  Here are just a few questions to get you started:
    1. What is your ideal customers’ biggest challenge or problem?
    2. What does your ideal customer love to do?  What would they pay anything to make happen or change?
    3. Where does your ideal client hang out?  online?  in the real world?
    4. What are three mistaken beliefs that your ideal customer has?
  3. Provide value that helps your client overcome the challenges or problems that you identified in #2.  You can do this in lots of ways.  You can write a blog, send out a newsletter, offer a free class, start a podcast or create videos.  Use the medium that works best for you.  Here’s the key word:  consistency.  Don’t write a blog today and the next one six months from now… or never.  You will just be shooting yourself in the foot and losing clients rather than creating them.
  4. Develop a relationship with your clients.  People buy from other people that they know and trust.  Rather than pushing your product on others, pull the customer toward you with a genuine, heart felt relationship.   This in particular is something that introverts are good at.  Spend time listening to your clients’ concerns and showing them that you care and want to help.  This is the heart of good sales; helping others.
  5. Create packages with your product that create exceptional value, creativity and/or service.  People are naturally drawn to packages whether it is buying a series of books or signing up for a series of online classes.  Not only is this more profitable for you but it also better meets client’s ongoing needs.

Want to learn more about the introverted personality profile and how you can work in your strengths in all areas of your life?  Join me for a four part series on:

Working in Your Strengths~Standing In Your Power for Introverts

You can sign up here:  http://acalledwoman.com/teleseminars/

Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

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Simple Steps to Living Each Day Productively

meDISC2013cNow that I’ve retired from my career as a school counselor to run my writing and coaching business full-time,  a lot of people say to me, “What will you do with all that unstructured time?  How did you start a business while you were working full-time?  How do you manage a business when you don’t have a full-time job to report to?  The answer is organization and scheduling.

For many years, I lived my life by being reactive instead of creative.  In other words, instead of living intentionally by creating a plan and a schedule, I simply reacted to whatever was going on around me.   I started my day with a vague notion of something I’d like to accomplish.  I often had a to-do list in my head or even jotted down somewhere.  Then I would hear the ping of an email or a text message and immediately stop what I was doing and respond.  A co-worker would stop me in the hall and I would take on a new task or responsibility.  A phone call  or a memo would redirect my day.  I constantly allowed the tyranny of the urgent to swallow up the important tasks in my day. My day was at the mercy of whoever and whatever got my attention.  At the end of the day, I would wonder where my time went and why nothing of substance was accomplished.

 

Living a Creative Life

Living a creative life does not mean that we ignore the necessary tasks and the relationships in our lives.  It does not mean if there is an emergency, we don’t respond.  Lets face it though.  Most of the things that we are distracted by don’t enhance our relationships and they aren’t emergencies. The things that draw us away from our goals are the black hole of social media, the endless but mundane tasks of our world or the vegging-out-in-front-of-the-television type of activities.  We all have the same amount of time in our day, but how we plan out our time is the difference.

meKathy

You Can’t Really Manage Time

You can’t really manage time because it is, well, time. You can’t corral it.  You can’t stop it or speed it up. But you can manage your activities. The problem most people have is that they try to manage their time by keeping track of information and priorities in their mind.  The brain is not designed to hold on to and maintain a list of everything that you need to accomplish.  The brain is designed to be used as a problem solving organ. The other thing that we know about the brain is that the brain is drawn toward congruity and completion.  This is why it is important to have goals.  Our brain will then want to align our daily activities with those goals.  It is also drawn toward activities where completion is a given.  This is one reason that we often find our selves emptying the dishwasher when the plan was to contact three possible clients or write 1,000 words on the book.  We can easily see the end of emptying the dishwasher or sorting the mail.  Other tasks are not so clear.  This is why having a system for managing our tasks and setting priorities is so important.

Begin Your Day or Week with a Brain Drain

The first step of managing our tasks is to figure out what we’ve stored in our brain. You can’t organize or schedule tasks until you know what is calling out for your attention or what you should be paying attention to that isn’t a squeaky wheel.  At the beginning of the day and at the beginning of each week, take a piece of paper and write everything that you can think of that is on your mind to do.  Include even the silly and ridiculous things that you are worried about or just obsessed with.  Honesty counts here.  No one will see this but you.

 

Create an Organized List

Next, take another sheet of paper and divide it into four quadrants.  At the top of each section write the following categories:   Time wasters, Have-to-dos, Top Priorities, Maintenance Tasks.  Now take all the things from your Brain Drain and put them in the correct quadrant.  You probably know what time wasters are.  Have-to-dos are all those tasks that must get done regardless of whether you want to do them or not.  These are things like completing all the paperwork for taxes or paying bills.  Top Priorities could also be labelled Money Makers if you are running a business.  Sometimes creative types get so involved in the creative part of the business that they neglect to give priority to selling the product or running a marketing campaign for an upcoming event.  For me this includes book signings, book festivals, presentations at conferences, clients that I am contacting and coaching. When you are running a business it is important that you spend a good part of your time working in this quadrant.  Otherwise you find that you have a hobby but not a profitable business.  Finally the last category is all the things that you do to maintain a business but that don’t perhaps result in quick return.  For me this relates to the actual writing of articles or books.  Sometimes items from the Maintaining the Business category are moved to the the Top Priority category.  This is a fluid vehicle for organizing your tasks and may change day to day.

talkingtoLiz

  Create a Daily/Weekly Schedule

Once you have all your tasks divided into four categories, you need to get a calendar and schedule your time for the upcoming week. It can be a huge calendar that you put on the wall or something on your computer.    I organize my upcoming week on Sunday afternoon on a whiteboard so that I know what I have coming up for the next week.

Begin with the obligations that you know you must show up for and block out those times.  Do you work a 9-5 job?  Block out those hours.  Do you have a doctor/dentist appointment? Does your child have basketball practice twice a week? Block out the time for that.  Now look at the time that you have left surrounding those obligations.  It may be a little or it may be a lot depending on the season of your life.  If you have young kids, there are certainly times to be blocked out for family time and children’s activities.  However, there will still be blocks of time, no matter how small, that you can use to accomplish your goals. Now start plugging in the activities in your Top Priorities and Maintaining the Business quadrant into those blocks of time.  Be reasonable but be proactive.  Chances are you won’t get up at 4:00 AM every morning to work on that novel you want to write but you could get up at 6:00 AM on Saturday morning to garner some quiet time to write creatively before the rest of the family gets up. Maybe evenings are a better time for you.  Two nights a week you give up watching television and instead put in two hours of networking and creating a marketing plan on the computer.

 Use a Timer

There is something incredibly compelling about a schedule that is written down. There is something powerful about knowing how you are going to spend your time and being accountable to a schedule, even if you are the only one who created it.  Use a timer to create boundaries for the task and set it for the block of time that you have designated.  Don’t allow outside urgent activities and requests to overcome the important work that you are doing.

Learning to identify the important activities in your life and structuring your day and your weeks to direct your energy is a necessary part of  living an intentional life.  It is how dreams become reality and  goals are achieved.  A goal is simply a dream with a plan. Set aside some time this week to create a plan for your life.  I promise you will find it so empowering, you will wonder how you ever functioned without it.

 

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Five Tips to Tap Into Your Creative Spirit

Every creative is challenged with how to best structure their life to engage in creative pursuits. Just how do you get the work done? How do you tap into that creative spirit?  Do you require yourself to spend a designated amount of time staring at the computer no matter what?  Do you write a certain number of words per day?  Do you schedule time in the morning?  Do you set aside a particular day?  Do you simply wait to be inspired by your personal muse?

We All Are Creative

I just returned from spending several days at the beach with friends.  It was a time of rest, renewal and and relaxation.  It was also a time of productivity, creativity and focused work.  How do you meld the two?  I recently finished a great book on creativity and how to best nurture the creative spirit.   Be Your Finest Art was written by Joanne Miller and Dorsey McHugh, two speakers from the Called Woman Conference 2014.  Here are five tips from the book to rev up the creative juices and tap into the wellspring of creativity that we all have.

joanne and dorsey27

Learn to Paint Light

While Dorsey and Joanne are a painters and I am a writer, I still believe this advice is worthwhile for all of us.  Dorsey writes, “There is always light even in the darkest shadows…We retrain our eyes and brains to see what light is doing.  This takes a new kind of seeing.  No color exists apart from light.”  Just as a painter must retrain their brain to see light where there appears to be only darkness, it is important to retrain our brains to see the possibilities and opportunities all around us.  Focusing only on the negative does not encourage creativity.

jonnedorsey16

Be Willing to Do It Badly (even in public)

Dorsey writes that “It takes courage and discipline to do art.”  We must be willing to practice our art imperfectly in order to grow our creative spirit and ability.  Too many of us hold back for fear of making a mistake or looking foolish.  We compare ourselves to others and decide we are not gifted enough to move forward and consequently lose out altogether on creating something worthwhile.

joannepainting9

Think of Yourself as a Modern Day Prophet, a Story-Teller

When you stop thinking of life as  just surviving each day but instead think of it as creating a story with your life, you have become an artist!  With this in mind it is easy to see that we are all artists in some sense of the word even if we don’t pick up a paintbrush or a pencil.  Every day is an extraordinary gift filled with potential.  What will you create today?  What chapter will you add to the story?

joannedorsey4

You Are Playing, Not Failing

Our creative self thrives when we play.  When we focus on doing everything the right way, following instructions and avoiding mistakes, we squelch our artistic nature.  To release our creativity, we have to let go of the fear of failing and learn to play freely while simultaneously learning from trail and error.

joannepainting9

A Broken Line is a More Beautiful Line

Just a nature abhors a straight line, we are all broken in some way.  The life lessons that we have learned from personal failings and tragedies is what makes us who we are.  Being authentic and sharing our brokenness frees our creative spirit and helps us connect with the brokenness in others.  Ask yourself, how can you take your mess and make it your message?

Pablo Picasso wrote, “Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. ”  Are you nurturing your creative spirit?  I hope so.  Just as we were all created, we have a spark of that creative ability  inside each of us that is yearning to break free.  Take time to recognize and nurture that spirit.  I promise that you will be richly rewarded, perhaps even amazed, at what you can create.

 

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Don’t Wait- Seize the Opportunity

Seize the Opportunity!

Routine is Important

  Since I recently retired from my school counseling job, people often ask me what I do all day.  I have a morning routine.  It goes something like this:

  1. Coffee!
  2. Quiet Devotional Time-setting priorities/intentions for the day
  3. Walking with my neighborhood walking partner (Yeah Sherran!) and/or yoga stretches
  4. Write
  5. Answer emails, marketing, planning
  6. Lunch
  7. Coaching Calls with Clients
  8. Gardening, Household chores

Whatever I do, I try not to change the order of the first four items.  Writing is a top priority and I find if I let it slide too far down into the business of the day, it disappears altogether. Same thing happens with exercise.  One day recently,  I broke my own rule.  I moved #7, gardening into the #4 slot and writing got bumped down to after lunch.  Not a great plan generally but here’s why I did it;  it rained the night before!  This is especially exciting because it has been dry as a bone for a few days and my garden has not only been suffering but also neglected. Goodness knows, it is difficult to work with rock hard dirt and heat stroke temperatures.  However because of the rain soaked ground and the high temperatures later in the day, I knew if I didn’t get outside to work in the garden early, I’d miss the opportunity. 

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Garden Flowers

Seize the Opportunity

Before I did this I promised myself that writing would follow close on the heels of the gardening and I made sure I clearly identified the parameters of what I hoped to accomplish in the garden.  I knew that I had a lot to accomplish and it is so easy to lose track of time in the garden!  I also decided that while I was gardening, I would be doing research at the same time.  How is this possible?  Well, I think that gardening is a great place to learn the lessons of life.  So much of what makes sense in gardening makes sense in life.  So here is a lesson gleaned from my research:  Seize the opportunity.  Just as getting out in the garden early was a good idea for today, it’s also a good idea to seize the opportunities in life in general.

I’ve Been an Expert at Waiting…

I’ve not always been so good at seizing opportunities.  Previously, I tended to wait for someone to call me, suggest something to me or just generally knock me over the head with a two by four before I’d move ahead on anything.  I thought of it as “waiting to make sure it was the right thing to do”.  Learning to seize the opportunity has really been a lesson learned over the years. Sometimes I’ve waited forever for an opportunity to drop into my lap when I should have been creating opportunities.  For instance, I wrote several children’s stories about Wyatt The Wonder Dog and then kept them in a drawer for about ten years hoping someone would come along and tell me how to get them published.  Not until, I got inspired by Dan Miller of 48days To The Work You Love did I consider self-publishing and actually doing something rather than waiting. As Dan says, “The  best way to predict your future is to create it!”

What are You Waiting For?

I talk to people everyday who are waiting and wondering what direction to go in with their lives while opportunities are calling out all around them.  Sometimes I even talk talk to people who are advised by someone else to wait.  Today, I talked with a client who has a book ready for publication and the company doing the publishing told her she should wait to market the book until she actually had it in hand.  Seriously?  Have they never heard of pre-ordering something?  Obviously they have no idea how long it takes to get buzz going about a new product. I’m not suggesting that you neglect the necessary research to make a wise decision.  But sometimes, much like today in the garden, you just have to recognize that now is the time and make arrangements to seize the opportunity.  It might mean breaking out of  a routine to seize an opportunity that is knocking at your door or it might mean creating an opportunity.  

What about you?  Are you seizing the opportunities around you?  Or are you an expert at waiting?

 For a quick start plan to quit waiting and start moving, check out my book:   Dream Achievers:  Simple Steps to an Extraordinary Life.

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Five Beliefs that Sabotage Goals

doneDo you have some big goals?  Are you making progress?  Or are you making excuses?  How long have you been saying you were going to write that book?  Start your own business?  Try a new career path? Get out of debt?  Get in shape?

Maybe you say you tried it and it didn’t pan out.  You wrote a few chapters and quit.  Sent the finished copy off to a publisher and got rejected.  Applied for another job and didn’t get the call back.  Created a business plan but couldn’t find the cash to get started. Tried a diet and gave it up.

Maybe you figure goals and dreams like that are for other people.  People who are lucky.  People who are really talented or smart.  People who have willpower.  People who have connections.

Truth or Fiction?

What if I told you none of those things are necessary for you to be successful at accomplishing your dream?  What if I told you that you are sabotaging your own success with your beliefs? The picture shown above is from an UpLevel Conference I attended in June.  It is one of hundreds of beliefs that participants wrote down that they wanted to give up.  Our beliefs are so wired into our brains that many times we aren’t even aware of how they guide our steps.   I spent ten years after writing my first Wyatt the Wonder Dog book, waiting for someone to appear in my life and tell me how to get it published.  What if I told you that NO ONE like that ever came along and I could easily still be waiting for something to happen if I hadn’t changed my thinking? The first step to accomplishing any dream is to examine your beliefs about yourself and make sure you aren’t sabotaging your God given ability.

Beliefs that Keep You Stuck

Here are five common beliefs that many  people hold on to that wreak havoc with their ability to move forward. Do any of these ring true for you?

  1. Do you believe that you don’t deserve it?  Is your image of yourself that of someone who can only do average things in an average world?  Someone who can’t possibly be so extraordinary as to step outside the parameters of “normal”?  Do you feel that you aren’t worthy of success?
  2. Do you believe that comfort in your present situation, even an uncomfortable present situation, is better than venturing into unknown territory?  Have you been miserable so long that you’ve become accustomed to it and actually prefer it to stepping out into the unknown?
  3. Do you believe that if you are successful you will lose something or someone?  Perhaps family, friends or co-workers would be unhappy, jealous, resentful, or disappointed? Do you find that the people in your life say they want what is best for you but you know they really want you to keep things as they are?  Would you rather be safe and secure… and miserable, than successful?
  4. Do you believe that you are not capable enough, smart enough, savvy enough, athletic enough, gifted enough to be successful?  Do you fear that if you became successful, someone would realize that you were faking it?
  5. Do you believe that you should wait to move forward until you are certain of the future?    That you will somehow find that everything fits perfectly into place and until you are certain and confident without a doubt, that you should wait?

Mindset is Key

You see, what we believe about ourselves shapes who we are.  It shapes the goals we set, the path we take and the energy we put into accomplishing our dreams.  If we believe ourselves to be inadequate to meet the challenge, incapable of pushing our limits then we will be stuck doing what we’ve always been doing and getting the same results we’ve always gotten.  If we wait for others to approve and give support or for the stars to perfectly align before we move forward in our plan, we will always be waiting.

One of the great icons of the motivational world, Zig Ziglar used to say that he was so positive, so sure of accomplishing his goals that he would, “go after Moby Dick in a rowboat and take the tartar sauce with me.”  What about you?  Can you envision your goal?  Can you envision you in the future accomplishing your goal?  Are your beliefs inline with success? Are you so confident, so determined that you would take off after Moby Dick and bring the tartar sauce?

Want to tackle those dragon beliefs that are limiting your life?  Want to become a Dream Achiever?  I can help slay the dragon and get you unstuck with my Dream Achiever:  Coaching for Success program.

 

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Shady, the Devil Dog Escapes Again

Meet Shady the devil dog.

I haven’t written much about her lately because I’ve been winning (at least in my mind) the battle.  That all changed when I returned home from church yesterday to find that she had busted out of her pen and was happily wandering the neighborhood.  Keeping her contained has been an ongoing problem.

shadycrate

She has dented and broken out of crates.

 

If left alone in the house to wander around at will- (lets say I’m working outside in the yard) she will frequently destroy a basket, upholstered chair, or rip the cable out of the wall.  If she has long enough, she will do all three.

shadymess

Consequently, she has to stay outside in her pen regardless of the weather if I’m out of the house for any longer than a short walk to the mailbox. I bet you’re thinking she is a puppy and will out grow it?  I doubt it.  She is about 11 years old.  She has a pen outside that I have resorted to putting her in whenever I am not around.

damage

It’s still difficult to keep her contained.  She has stripped siding off the house and eating through sheet rock and walls.  She has bent the wire on chain link fence gates and  busted out of her pen leaving the gate flapping in the wind.

But when I arrived home yesterday  and went to let her in from her pen, I seriously thought something magical had happened. It looked like she had flown the coop leaving behind no indication of how she escaped.  The two inch thick plywood was still in place on the house so she hadn’t eaten through any walls.  The gates were both tightly closed, then secured with chains and zip ties.

doghouse

The dog house was in the middle of the concrete (no leaping on top and over the fence).  The wire along the concrete floor was all still solidly in place.

 

It was a bit like that murder mystery where someone is dead, locked in a room and there is no weapon just a puddle of water.  Except in this case she was very much alive and I doubt she used a block of ice to escape.

escapegate

After much observation of the pen, I decided that the most likely area of escape was the bottom of one of the gates where she had pulled the fencing through.  It really looked like an impossibly small hole for a medium sized 50+ lb dog to squeeze through.  What do you think?  Can a dog this size fit through a hole that small?

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This morning, I wrapped it in some thin twine, put her in her pen and headed out for my daily walk.  As I headed down the home stretch to my house, a mere 45 minutes later, Shady once again greeted me in the street.  Not only was she an escape artist but she was also a fast escape artist.  My guess was right though.  She had torn up the twine showing me the escape route.  Now how to fix it???

escaperoute

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Seven Secrets to Selling More Books

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One aspect of being a writer and an author that I initially hated and feared was selling and marketing my books.  In the beginning I was one of those people who said, “I can’t sell anything.”  However if you produce a product, eventually you want to share it with others and unless you can afford to give it away, you will need to learn how to best promote and sell it. I’ve studied and practiced this for several years now (how time flies!)  and the exciting thing is that I now love to sell my books and other products.  I actually look forward to events like the Decatur Book Festival that I attended this weekend.  How did I change my attitude about selling?  I changed my mindset.  I no longer think of it as selling my books.  Instead I think of it as sharing and helping others.

The concepts that I’ve learned from selling books, are useful in many other situations, so whether you are a writer or artist or an inspirational speaker, you can apply these principles to your work.  Here are my Secret Seven:

 

Know who your audience is.  I write two kinds of books.  Wyatt the Wonder Dog books, are picture books with a lesson and The Call: Perfect Dream, Imperfect Life  is an adult inspirational book.  My children’s books appeal to parents, grandparents, educators and school counselors.  My adult book, is written for women who are interested in discovering their passion and reinventing their lives.  To be successful, I need to sell in an environment where I can find my audience.
Know what your audience wants.  I’ve found that you have to be sensitive to the focus or the purpose of the event and the audience. I’ve participated in quite a few school festivals where I’ve been a vendor and sold books, which seems like the perfect environment for children’s picture books. In fact, I’ve found that parents and kids are more focused on festival/carnival type activities than buying books. They want to play games, win a cake in the cake walk. buy junk food and get their face painted. If you are going to participate in this type of festival, you need to have something at your booth that appeals to kids and draws them in. Simply displaying your wares and waiting for the sales to happen isn’t going to work.  On the other hand, my experience at the Decatur Book Festival is different from other events.  Because it is billed as a book festival you are more likely to find parents and children focused on finding the next great read.  foxtalebooth

Have a visually appealing set up.  Do something that attracts attention and is engaging.  Just having a few books stacked up, or brochures laid out is not enough.  There needs to be a sense of abundance at your booth.  If products look scarce, people don’t feel it’s worth their while to stop.  They can see from a distance the one book you are offering and check it off their list.  Is there something they can touch?  Can they flip through the book?  Can they see how they might package the book with a a puppet and tie it up with a bow for a gift?  At a Christmas booth, I packaged my five children’s books together and tied a big Christmas bow around them and displayed them on a stand.  It was easy and an instant holiday idea.

Tell a story. Everyone loves a story and it is stories that sell products.  Often it’s not just the story between the covers that sells a book. Readers like to know the story behind the story.  How did you come up with the idea?  Is the main character like you or someone you know?  What other interesting things can you share about the book and how it is used by others?  Engage your customer by showing the features of the book.  I usually tell about my history as a school counselor and how I came up with the different themes of the books.  Which leads me to the next point….

Develop a relationship with your customer.  Don’t just be interested in getting them to buy your product.  Ask yourself, “What does this person need and how can I help them?”  This is the secret to how I got past my fear of selling.  I stopped thinking of it as selling and started thinking of it as helping.  Although I have a goal of selling books, my top priority is how can I help each individual I meet.  Sometimes I help by listening to their story and making suggestions.  Sometimes I help by telling them how I started writing and publishing books because they mention that they’d like to write.  Sometimes I help by suggesting other products, books, blogs, conferences or authors  that they could benefit from.  In other words, selling  my book is secondary to helping meet their needs.  Zig Ziglar said, “You can have anything you want if you just help enough people get what they want”  and I find this to be true every time.

Create a package.  I can sell one book or I can sell all five as a package and give a discount. I can add in a CD with an audio of the books.  People are just naturally drawn to not only getting a deal, but getting more, especially where there is a connection or theme.

Mathew Ward signing his book:  The Fantastic Family Whipple

Mathew Ward signing his book: The Fantastic Family Whipple

Give something away to everyone.  Even if someone does not purchase a book, always have something to share. At the Decatur Book Festival this weekend, author Mathew Ward gave away trading card with the main characters of the book on them.  I’ve partnered with a local doggie boarding and daycare business and they give me doggie treats and coupons for their business to pass out.  You can give away bookmarks, coloring sheets for kids, a brochure… the list is endless.

 

Well there you have it.  My seven selling secrets that I’ve gleaned from a few years of marketing and selling my books, speaking programs and coaching sessions. Would you add anything to the list?  What have you learned about selling your product?

Want some help in overcoming the self-publishing overwhelm?  Checkout my self-publishing guide: http://wyatthewonderdog.com/publish

 

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