The Write Academy

Hello everyone!

We’re back. You know the saying, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder?” You must be very fond of us right now! Not really funny, but we’ve been busy working on Your Literary Prose and during the past several months we have been busy launching a new joint venture program to assist writers, authors, and speakers along their journey of publishing their book. Your Literary Prose has teamed up with Joyce Glass, The Write Coach, to bring to you The Write Academy.

What is The Write Academy?

About 15 months ago, Colleen and Joyce met each other through SPEAK, a professional speaking program. After the gals met they decided to connect via internet and learn about each other. After speaking a few times and learning about one another, they clicked and knew each of us could bring different things to the table and something great could come from working together to offer writers. That’s how The Write Academy was formed.

But what is The Write Academy?

The Write Academy is a subscription-based program guiding writers through the entire process of publishing. During the past year Colleen, Joyce, and I put our heads together and used our 25-plus years of business experience working with authors, speakers, writers, and business owners and came up with a way to help people write their book in their own time with the tools to do it correctly with guidance from us. What came out of these many meetings is The Write Academy Success Path. The Success Path divides the process of writing a book into four systems: Clarify, Create, Complete, and Connect. Every step of the publishing process can be placed into one of these four areas.

The Write Academy Has It All 

The Write Academy includes monthly training from the team, your experts. Each month focuses on one area of the Success Path and goes deeper into the steps included in that area. For example, we teach our members how to develop their voice, how to self-edit and the difference between self-editing and professional editing, how you can organize your book and its chapters, and more.

How’s your grammar? Each month we add a Grammar Time lesson. For those who haven’t paid attention to grammar in a few years, this is a refresher in the details we may have forgotten or don’t think about so we shed a little light to help improve writing skills. .  

In addition to our training, members of The Write Academy receive an hour-long call with the whole team.It’s your time! Join our Zoom call and ask questions, share successes and concerns. The Write Academy Team, Peter, Colleen, and Joyce, are experts at what they do; ask away. Our goal is to help you meet your dream of published author.

Looking for a community of like-minded people? In our Facebook community members have the opportunity to share their work with each other, develop relationships, ask questions, and much more. You never know what can happen.

Meet The Team

The Write Academy Team is comprised of Colleen Wietmarschen, Peter Wietmarschen, and Joyce Glass.

Colleen Wietmarschen – Colleen’s business experience spans 21 years (yes, she was only eight years old!). As a Professional Author’s Assistant, she understands all the processes (manuscript creation, publishing, and marketing) needed so you reach your dream of published author! Colleen’s attention to detail shows through her copywriting, copyediting, and proofreading – she believes professional written image represents you, your brand, and your company – and your book is a company!​  Over the past few years Colleen has honed her speaking skills and is now a professional speaker. With her knowledge of business, writing, and more she brings a wide array of experience to her talks.

Joyce Glass –  JoyceThe Write Coachhelps writers and entrepreneurs  use the power of story to market their business. People may not remember what you say, but they will remember your story. Joyce takes her clients through the book writing process from the idea of a writing a book to the finished manuscript.

Some people start multiple books, and never finish due to overwhelm of the process. Joyce loves to help her clients break it down into manageable steps.  She helps you reach the finish line.

Her first published book is iNeed God ~ daily downloads for your heart. The next in the series is iNeed God ~ daily downloads for a Mom’s heart is being released in the Spring 2017, and she is currently working on her first novel as well.

Peter Wietmarschen –  Peter, a 2014 graduate of Morehead State University’s Caudill College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music with a minor in Psychology. He strives to express his thoughts and ideas in a creative and a professional way.

Peter is the Vice President, Director of Operations at Your Literary Prose and contributing writer for their blog, “On Record.” He enjoys writing blogs which provide helpful information to readers as well as general business practices and more! He comes to us with contemporary ideas, a fantastic work ethic, and tremendous energy. Peter has an open mind. He is exciting to exchange ideas with and have him challenge us!

Where you can The Write Academy: 

For more information on The Write Academy visit our website or if you want to stay up to date with all the latest info sign up for The Write Academy Waitlist where you will also learn about how you can create your writing plan. 

Until next time… 

Peter 

Habits Are Hard to Come By

Over the past couple of weeks I have been thinking about habits, what they are, how they are formed, and how we can use them to our advantage. This is important for writers because writers have to make a habit of writing every day. I know I have not been able to build the habit of writing every day, and I can see an impact not just in the quantity of writing I turn out, but also in the quality of writing. Today I want to take a few minutes to write about how and why the habit of writing is important for all of us, whether you are a writer or a business owner. 

What is a habit? 

If you search habit on Google you will find Merriam-Webster’s definition: “a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiological exposure that shows itself in regularity or increase facility of performance.” The Encyclopedia Britannica says “a habit – which can be part of any activity, ranging from eating and sleeping to thinking and reacting – is developed through reinforcement and repetition. These two words, reinforcement and repetition, are key to how habits form and why they stick around.

Reinforcement 

I do not want to dive deep into what psychologists define what reinforcement is but I do want to touch the higher level meaning of the word. Psychologists define reinforcement as a consequence to strengthen (or weaken) a future behavior when the behavior is followed by a specific stimulus.  There are two types of reinforcement – positive and negative. To put it in layman’s term, positive reinforcement is something received when an action is completed and negative reinforcement is something taken away when an action is completed. By recognizing the types of reinforcement we can help ourselves better form our habits.

To help you establish the habit of writing there are some ways you can reinforce your actions. For example, you can use positive reinforcement by allowing yourself to watch an episode of your favorite show on Netflix after you write for 30 minutes. This is something I used in college when practicing for my senior recital. I would walk down the street, practice for a straight hour and when I was finished I watched an episode of New Girl. 

You can see the use of negative reinforcement in action whenever you climb into your car. The little beeping you hear when put your key into the ignition? It turns off (removed) when you click in your seat belt. I’m not suggesting you have a big bell that keeps ringing until you finish your writing but there are things you can do to negatively reinforce your writing habit. Having a deadline to meet can help you negatively reinforce your writing habit. In practice, you can use this to help avoid the unpleasant feeling (or worse yet, loss of revenue) of missing your deadline. The act of finishing your project on time is negatively reinforced because you are removing the negative feeling of missing the deadline because your task was completed early.

It is important to stay consistent with your reinforcement. There is something called a schedule or reinforcement which is how frequently you reinforce your behavior. If you want to learn more about these there are many sites on the internet you can search. Also, you want to be sure you are reinforcing your behavior (writing) within an appropriate time. The reinforcement will have a higher chance of being tied to an action if the reinforcement is seen as close to the action as possible. So if your positive reinforcement for writing an hour is to watch an episode on Netflix be sure to watch that episode as close to the completion of your writing time as possible or you risk having the reinforcement lose its effect.

Repetition

Repetition is the act of repeatedly doing something over and over. Repetition means you spend time writing each and everyday. When you try to create a habit of writing it is important you always write daily, no matter how long it might be. John Grisham, New York Times Best-selling author, recently released eight tips for writers. In the article he says writers should write one page a day, in the same place and at the same time each day. This simple act of repetition will have you form your habit of writing. 

If you struggle with finding a constant time and place to write, schedule out your writing time in advance. Maybe you spend thirty minutes a day writing after you watch the morning news, or maybe you write as you ride the bus into work each day. Look at your calendar and find a time that works best for you and be sure to stick to it. That’s what repetition is all about. 

When you are trying to build your habit of writing make sure you use both reinforcement and repetition. If you are looking for inspiration check out our Facebook Page, M Colleen Wietmarschen, LLC, for a daily writing prompt. 

It’s November. Time for NaNoWriMo – What’s That?

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NaNoWriMo – have you heard of it? National Novel Writer’s Month. Honestly, I never heard of it until six months ago. NaNoWriMo is the month (November) writers and anyone who wants to enhance their writing skills commit to their goals for writing. People dream about writing a novel or book or becoming a better writer, but we all know dreams don’t mean anything unless you set a goal because goals have a deadline. NaNoWriMo is the month people commit to write 50,000 words for their novel or other writing project during November. Fifty thousand words divided by 30 days is 1,666 words/day. What activities can you shave out of your day to make time for writing? Less TV, less time on social media, less time sleeping? Maybe you’ll have more time one day than another. That’s okay. The idea is to set your goal and stick to it.

We’re all busy, but if we’re serious about writing, let’s take the challenge. When I plan things or carve out time for tasks I’m able to hit my goals. If exercise, violin lessons, meetings, etc. are on my calendar, I’m more organized and my brain doesn’t have to “remember” things. Therefore, I’m less stressed and have a clearer head to finish things faster and easier.

At this time in my business and life, if I aimed for 50,000 words this month, I’d fail. Wow, did I say that? Yep, but I’d rather say it up front than to say I’ll write 50,000 words this month, not do it and then criticize myself for the next five years! So, my goal for November is writing 25,000 words. That’s 833 words a day which is doable. We’re creating new programs, writing more blogs, and writing a book for 2017 so 833 words on average a day for the month of November is my goal. I can commit to that. How about you? What’s a goal you can stick to and not blast yourself for the next six months if you don’t reach your target?

It’s about having fun, setting a goal, managing your time, and finishing or moving closer to completing your novel or writing project. If you want support during this month, follow us in our Facebook Group, Your Literary Prose Writing Circle. It’s an interactive group where you ask questions, find support, and more. We’re announcing new things to come and provide daily tips and more! We hope to see you there!

We look forward to hearing your goals for NaNoWriMo this month. Comment here and in our FB Group. Peter and I will post our updates daily in the FB Group too.

Here’s to NaNoWriMo and making it work for you – no matter what your goal is for writing this month!

Until next time,

Colleen and Peter

Your Literary Prose

Here’s more information on NaNoWriMo.

 

Halloween…Ghostly Fun for Kids and Memories for Kids at Heart!

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Time flies by and life is so busy, I can’t believe October is over.  Carved pumpkins still sitting on house steps, fallen leaves not yet raked still on the ground, and on November 6 we gain an extra hour of sleep. I used to love the time change and now that I am older…not so much!  By 6:00 p.m. it’s already dark – boo, and I don’t mean the ghostly boo; I mean yuck!  It seems like it’s already time for bed. I’m already making a list of things to do in the evenings!

On with my story:  While wracking my brain on what to write about for Halloween, I came across the picture for this blog and remembered an event that happened 21 years ago. When I saw it, I knew I had to share my story. I chuckle when I see this photo. People who know my sister Mickey will understand and laugh, and those of you who don’t will hopefully laugh and enjoy the story because with any luck I will write this so you can envision it as you read along.

Rewind 21 years. How many of you remember the Olan Mills picture plans from years ago. The plan offered a “free” 8-1/2 x 11 picture four times each year if you came in for a “sitting.” Well, we all know the “ploy” of going through the door and you never just leave with that 8-1/2 x 11 because let’s face it your kids are just too cute.  Peter is our only child so we have pictures from Olan Mills from age three months to four years old and then we start with his pre-school to kindergarten pictures hanging down the hallway stairwell from our upstairs, and we call it the “Wall of Peter.”  During the beginning of the “Olan Mills” years Peter was the only grandchild (besides two older grandchildren) on our side of the family for several years and then boom, boom, boom, three boys within six months of each other: Mitchell, Kevin, and Donovan.

Kevin’s mom is Mickey, and Mickey and I did a lot together (she’s about 12 hours away now). When Kevin was born our mom “gifted” Mickey the Olan Mills’ picture package too.  So Kevin’s first Halloween Mickey said it would be fun to take Pete and Kevin and have their picture taken together and dress them up in a costume.  So being the “leader” I am, I followed right along.  We arrived at Olan Mills and we “dressed” them in their Halloween costume and the picture above is the most expensive photograph two people probably ever spent on two children and you can’t even see their faces!  Now mind you, Kevin was six months old and Peter was 3-1/2 so you have a 3-1/2 year old holding a 6 month old underneath a sheet to make them look like a ghost.  I actually stood behind them and propped Kevin up against Pete so he wouldn’t fall off the table. We were laughing so hard during the entire time it was amazing the photographer was able to take the pictures.

Every year during the Halloween season, I look at this picture and it brings back fun and fond memories of two small boys who are now 24 and 21, two wonderful young men, and I wish I could stand behind them and protect them like I did 21 years ago, but today they stand on their own and I pray God protects them and they stay smart enough to protect themselves.

What’s your favorite Halloween memory? We’d love for you to share your story!

Until next time,

Colleen

[Updated post from four years ago.]

You have cancer…

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Three words you never want to hear – You have cancer.

Three words my family members and friends have heard all too often.  Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought I’d share my mom’s journey with breast cancer.  Her first diagnosis was 26 years ago.  My mom didn’t have her first mammogram until the age of 58.  Her doctors kept telling her she didn’t need to have a mammogram.  My sisters and I (there are four of us) kept telling her that she needed to have a mammogram.  It wasn’t the doctors’ lives that were on the line.  It was her body and she needed to have a mammogram.  My mom is of the generation that does whatever the doctor tells them to do (I realize it was the age factor but I’m stubborn and would not go for that).  Eventually, we talked her into having a mammogram.  Thank God she did.  They found something on her film, called her back and scheduled a biopsy.  She went in for the biopsy and the doctor said he would call her back with the results.  He never called, but the nurse did – to schedule her for a modified radical mastectomy the following Monday, which was Christmas Eve! My mom said, “What?”  The nurse said, “Oh, the doctor hasn’t called you to let you know the results yet?”  “No.” Imagine my mom’s panic and ours.

The next few days of tests and doctor appointments for pre-surgery workup, etc. were a blur.  Mom had her surgery and all things considered was actually very lucky.  The cancer had not spread to any of the lymph nodes; therefore, she didn’t need to have radiation or chemotherapy except for tamoxifen.  Still, the ever-lingering fear of the return of cancer stays with you for some time and depression sets in, but our family humor eventually came through.  My sister and I went with mom to have her prosthesis fit; somehow my sister and mom ended up naming it “Bitsy.”  We went with mom to some breast cancer survivor support groups and life continued.  Each day/month was a little better.  The fear started to subside little by little.  The next year, four days after my son was born, my dad found out he had prostate cancer.  A year after that, his cancer had metastasized to his bones.  Oh, this disease; how I hate it.

Life went on, my mom’s fifth anniversary came and five years means you’re cured!  Wow, what a blessing; a miracle.  We knew my dad would never be cured because once cancer has metastasized to your bones it’s just a matter time depending on how fast the cancer decides it wants to eat away at your body.  At that time, mom and dad were both doing well.  At mom’s seven-year mark, she had her annual mammogram and her remaining breast showed something.  Are you kidding me?  Not again.  Okay, same drill.  Testing, biopsy, and the doctor came out of the biopsy and said, “Everything looks great.  It doesn’t look like cancer.  It’s just a cyst.”  Thank God. We were ecstatic.  Three days later, mom received a phone call from the doctor’s office saying that the biopsy showed cancer.  A completely different type of cancer than the first time.  We were in shock. Again? But the doctor told us it wasn’t.  Why would he do that? It was like moving around in a haze. Was this really happening?

Okay, what’s the plan.  She opted for another mastectomy; again, she was lucky there were no lymph nodes infected with cancer so she didn’t need radiation or chemotherapy except for Raloxifene (the new “tamoxifen”).  We were all grateful and she is one of the most spiritual people I have ever met and her faith kept her going.  My dad lost his battle with cancer a year later (2010).  He’s been gone for 16 years now, but my mom, is a survivor!  It’s been 26 years!  She turned 84 this summer and she is a true miracle.  She took her health into her own hands; thank goodness she didn’t wait for her doctors to tell her to have a mammogram or who knows what would have happened.

I took my mom to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure a few years ago and each survivor receives a hat and they put a pink ribbon on the hat for each year you are a survivor and at that time my mom’s hat had 22 ribbons.  There were ladies who came up to her who were one or two years out from diagnosis and said to her, “Can we take a picture with you with your hat because you’re our inspiration. We hope we’ll be a survivor for that long too.”  Does anyone have a Kleenex?

I started having mammograms when I was 32; I wasn’t going to wait until someone told me I could have a mammogram. I’ll be 56 next month and in the last four years I’ve had two scares and my heart falls to my stomach when the phone rings and the doctor’s office calls and says, “Your mammogram showed something and we need you to come in for more films…”  I can only look at it this way… I have not control over it (I am a control freak so this is huge for me to “let go”), I know this disease runs in my family, I have my yearly mammograms, I do my monthly checks, and I have my yearly doctor visits so I am proactive about my health.  If something shows up and is that horrible “C” word, I know I did everything to the best of my ability and it will hopefully be cured.  I ask anyone reading this to do the same (man or woman).  Early detection does matter.

Take care of you!

Until next time,

Colleen

Try These Writing and Editing Processes… Your Time Is Money

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In the long run, separating the writing and editing process, setting a timer just to write, and avoiding distractions can end up saving you time and money.  We’re all busy and try to multitask everything we do, but sometimes it just doesn’t pay to try to combine doing everything at one time because we end up going back and starting over again. When I write, I find I need my brain’s undivided attention!

Write First; Edit Second.

One common trait many writers and authors wrestle with is disconnecting the writing and editing process.  I struggled with this for years; if I knew something was not correct while writing or typing, I immediately went back and corrected it so I wouldn’t forget to change it later, but realized at some point that I was losing time, and let’s face it, time is money. After years of doing this, I finally started writing the article or blog, etc. and then editing. “Letting go” of this was excruciating for me, to say the least! My advice: Put all your thoughts down on paper or type them on the computer and then revise the grammar, duplication of word usage, incorrect spelling, etc.

Wait to Write Your Introduction.

Introductions are hard to write so if you struggle with your introduction just start writing your first key point from your outline and then after you write your chapter, article, blog, etc. go back and compose your introduction.

Set a Timer.

I’ve mentioned this before in different “writings” but it’s a great habit to start no matter what type of business you are working with; i.e., coaches, speakers, lawyers, Fortune 500, etc. When you determine the length of time you want to write, set a timer and write. You decide the amount of time – 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes – it’s up to you, but during this time, until the buzzer sounds – write. Focus on writing; no checking email, making phone calls, checking Twitter or Facebook, cleaning off your desk, etc. Write.

Keep Moving.

What? I mean keep writing even if you want to edit as you are writing. This is one habit I have really worked on; however, it’s a struggle, but I have found that if I keep writing and edit later, I do save time. I have a system for notes or information I don’t want to forget about; I highlight the area and mark it with bold letters. You could try this or write a note to yourself or use {brackets} to record your notes and come back later and edit the material.

DD – Duck Distractions!

It’s difficult enough to write when you aren’t interrupted, but constant interference can play havoc with your writing progress. Some helpful hints to DD:

  • Tell people you are writing and need to concentrate; give them the hours you are not available.
  • Turn off Skype, Twitter updates, your cell phone, office phone ringer, etc.
  • Find a quiet place – a place you can close the door, or perhaps a go to a quiet park or the beach.
  • Put on a pair of headphones – people will think you are listening to something (even if you aren’t) and less likely to disturb you.

I post tips and suggestions on Facebook and received the following comments from two people:

Introductions: Michelle Campbell from Forte Virtual Support Solutions:

“This is a great tip, Colleen. I always do this. I rarely start from the beginning and finish at the end. I jump around from section to section and point to point, especially when I get inspired to discuss a particular point. It’s much more difficult to write if you force yourself to stick to an outline you create.”

DD – Duck Distractions: Patti Cooper from Big Sky Social Media Management:

“I find it very difficult to concentrate when working from home, there’s always someone around. I usually just go in the bedroom and close the door. But the headphone idea is a great one. I’ll be trying that now, thanks for sharing!”

What steps do you take to Duck Distractions?

My tip for you – keep moving along when you write, and edit when you have finished your article, blog, chapter, etc. See what happens. You might find you are more productive and the system works better than editing as you write.  What are some of your tips and tricks? I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time,

Colleen

Three Easy Steps to Set Yourself Up for Success

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Early last week Colleen and I went to Canada for a retreat with our business coach and some of her other coaching clients. During that time, I learned a lot of great things and I want to chronicle for you my three biggest takeaways from our adventure in learning and building relationships:

  1. Listen to everybody.
  2. Be resourceful.
  3. Apply what you know.

Listen to Everybody

You never know what you’ll learn

One of my biggest mistakes has been avoiding certain business leaders just because of their name. To be honest, I was not the most receptive of some of the most well-known business minds when I first started working at Your Literary Prose. I’ve felt many were gimmicks, snake-oil salesman, insincere, just about anything else that could be said of phonies. These thought leaders seemed to just prey on the weak, make them feel insecure, and force them to buy into a program that most people would never use.

I’ve changed my mind. Over the two days we watched a couple of clips from Tony Robbins. Yes, he was one of those fakes to me, but after actually sitting down and watching what he has to say, I can say I’ve learned a few things about business. Tony is not the only person you can learn from though. Be open to others when they speak, learn from them, watch TED talks, listen to radio shows, watch the Sunday morning televangelists. They can all teach you something – if you’re willing to listen.

My first big takeaway:

Open your mind when others are speaking; you’d be surprised at what you learn.

Be Resourceful

It’s not what you have, it’s how you use it

This is the biggest takeaway from watching Tony Robbins; the biggest reason companies have setbacks is not the resources that they have, it’s how the resources are used. Here’s what Tony has to say on the matter (be aware – he does use a few choice words throughout). If you want to accomplish something you need to be resourceful, “if you want to take the island, burn the boats.”

What was great about this trip was the group used their resourcefulness later that evening. We all went to an escape room. If you’ve never been, I highly suggest going with some friends, business colleagues, or family. It’s a team-building adventure. What happens is you are locked in a room full of clues and you have to unlock the door and escape. You have all the resources at your disposal – the key is being resourceful, finding the clues that actually matter and the clues that are red herrings.

My second takeaway:

We all have the tools we need to succeed, what matters is how you use your tools.

Apply what you learn

It doesn’t count if you don’t apply what you learn

How many of you have ever been to a retreat, a seminar, a class and come across something you want to implement in your business or life? I’m sure that’s all of you. But how many of you have ever actually taken the time and energy to implement what you’ve learned? I can imagine that’s only a few of us. I am that person.

Stop wasting time and money not implementing what you’ve learned. If you take a simple economic approach to this, if you spend $500 to attend a one day seminar and you don’t apply anything, you will have a zero dollar return on your investment and on top of that you lose that whole day and time you could be billing your clients. That’s easily a $1,000 day, and most probably a whole lot more.

How do you implement these things? Take notes. I’m sure you already do this. Read your notes at the end of the day and find no more than three things that you can implement. It might only be one simple change, like how we learned a better way to organize our client work on the calendar. Or it might be a huge change that you have to implement in stages; that’s even better!

My last takeaway:

Make a concerted effort to use what you’ve learned.

Conclusion

Keep your mind open and ready to learn

To better yourself and your business you must have the right mindset.

What mindset are you in?

Stay Well,

-Peter

What is it that keeps entrepreneurs moving forward?

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We’ve all been there. We’ve all heard the sayings:

  • “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
  • “No one has the power to shatter your dreams unless you give it to them.” ~ Maeve Greyson
  • “When you feel like quitting think about why you started.” Unknown

And the list goes on and on…

A few weeks ago I had a pretty discouraging outcome from something I have worked and put my heart and soul into for the last seven months: a one-minute message for my speaker’s reel. Many of you probably think what’s the big deal? It’s one minute. Yes, it was one minute of information I am an expert on; so what made/makes my heart race and my thoughts turn to confusion when I look into a camera or talk in front of a group of people?

Friends who know me would never guess speaking in public or in front of a camera would make me freeze like an ice cube because I can pretty much talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime… However, the head chatter, “I’m not good enough” or “Why would they want to listen to what I have to say” or “How can I make this interesting because they’ve probably heard it before” surfaces, and it takes practice to keep the chatter at bay. Lots and lots of practice and a change in mindset because we are enough, we do have things to say people want to hear, and we are interesting!

Entrepreneurs are a special breed; I’ve been one for 20+ years, and even when I was growing up I sold enough Camp Fire Girl candy every year from second through eighth grade for summer camp scholarships (yes, my mom was our cheerleader and we went door to door every weekend but hey, who doesn’t love a little kid trying to sell candy – that helps right?). I also remember going around collecting canned goods for Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Carnivals… The entrepreneurial spirit is in our blood and deep down I think it’s because, whether we want to believe it or not, we’re BRAVE. During my walk the other night I was listening to my music and the song “BRAVE” came on and it clicked in my head… Entrepreneurs are BRAVE; why else would we do what we do? Okay, maybe the term “entrepreneurs are a bit crazy” comes to mind too, but to put ourselves out there speaking, coaching, hitting the pavement, doing the best we can for clients, learning to balance and not be taken advantage of but providing great customer care and more. We’re BRAVE:

Brilliantly Responsible, Authentic, (and) Vibrant Everyday.

  • Brilliant(ly): As entrepreneurs, being brilliant at what we do is crucial because if we aren’t there are plenty of other people out there with the same skills we have. How are we going to stand out and do it better? Keep learning. Keep reading…
  • Responsible: Are you responsible? Do you meet deadlines? Do your classes, products, programs fulfill the promise you gave clients? How do you handle responsibility?
  • Authentic: Be yourself. If you like a lighthearted, casual atmosphere for work and can make sure you meet deadlines, etc., that’s okay; it’s okay to laugh and have fun. If you’re more formal, that’s okay too. People would rather work with the real you than an imposter. Authenticity is where it’s at!
  • Vibrant: Sometimes the words “happy and excited” wouldn’t describe your day or what’s going on in your business, but when you’re out networking or speaking with a client or at an event – be happy, smile. It goes a long way and you never know who might need that smile or laugh you bring to them that day! Plus, people remember a smile and a laugh.
  • Everyday: Bring your best self to the table everyday. We may not always feel like it (trust me, been there, done that), but the entrepreneur in us has to show up daily so find a MasterMind group, network in person and meet people, find a support system outside the office and go for it!

We all have days, great and not so great; it’s life, it’s business. What do you do that shows you’re BRAVE? Love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Colleen

*BRAVE by Sara Bareilles

The Three Best Places to Learn Online

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What does your daily schedule look like? I know I have talked about reading, particularly books, but have you set aside time to read other professionals’ blogs, peer-reviewed articles, magazines, or listen to the newest craze – podcasts?  As an avid learner, I love to scope other places so I continue developing personally and professionally.

This week I want to write a quick blog about some of my favorite places to find, read, or listen to articles, podcasts, and more.

My top three places to read/listen:

  1. Medium
  2. Feedly
  3. Stitcher

Medium

Medium is a place writers can publish their blogs. On Medium you can search articles through tags like you would find in blogs published on individual’s personal or business websites.

Why I like Medium

As a reader, you can find articles from multiple authors about one topic. This is great because you can go to one place and learn from multiple people about a particular topic of interest.

What Medium could improve

The articles are not always current as some bloggers use Medium to republish their own blogs after they have already been on their own website. Also, there are an increasingly higher number of clickbait articles coming to the site. It’s more than just a title but also the content in the article is not always the best. So like other websites you need to learn what authors to trust.

Feedly

I’ve written a great blog on feedly before.  Feedly is a place where you can read all of your favorite RSS feeds in one place.

Why I like Feedly

You have probably found a few great websites or authors who you love to read. An RSS feed is a tool that automatically updates with the feed’s newest articles. Here you can gather all of you favorite authors in one place and even organize the feeds into tags.

What could be better?

There are many websites, businesses, or authors that keep an RSS feed. However, not every place has one. Also, there are many RSS feeds  so again finding the ones you gain the most from takes a bit of time.

Stitcher

Stitcher is a site, well technically an app, that plays podcasts.

Why I like Stitcher

There are many podcasts you can listen to. There are some wonderful podcasts that are both professionally created and filled with great information on any and all topics. Also, you can listen to podcasts on your computer or your phone.

What could be better?

The biggest problem I see is sometimes it is hard to find older podcasts as they do not seem to load.

Conclusion

What are some of your favorite places to read or listen? There are plenty out there so let’s hear ’em!

Peter

A Four-Step Plan to Reach My Reading Goal for 2016

book reading

Hey there reader!

We are almost halfway through the year. I’ve been thinking about writing an update on my reading challenge I started this year and what better time than now? But before I talk about myself let’s talk about you for just a bit.

Why read?

Always be learning.

I know some of you have listened to Colleen talk recently, and I want to highlight one of the most important pieces of advice: READ! I know there are many of you out there who read for pleasure or for business, and I know there are just as many of you who don’t. I was reading through some articles on Medium and I came across one I think is worthy of your attention, “Why Successful People Always Stay A Student” by Darius Foroux. In the article, Darius quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson,

“Do you know the secret of the true scholar? In every man there is something wherein I may learn of him; and in that I am his pupil.” 

What does this have to do with reading you might ask? I look at reading as a way to learn from the authors you read, each of whom have a unique perspective. What better way to learn from someone than by reading their own take in their field of expertise. And it’s not just from non-fiction books that we learn. I can tell you from experience there are many things I learn from some of my favorite fiction works. Whether you learn a new word or the importance of love, each book has something different to offer its readers.

Where am I?

An Updated Look At My Reading Challenge.

Here is where I stand.

  • I pledged to read 50 books through the Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge.
  • I have currently finished 9 books.
  • That puts me 15 books behind schedule according to the challenge tracker.

I will admit I have not be as successful as I had hoped. And yes, being 15 books behind schedule is probably too many to overcome but that won’t stop me from pushing towards my goal. Right now I would like to look at a few different things and try to discover what I did right and what I could do better.

What I’ve Done?

Observations from the journey.

When I started the challenge I told you one of the best ways for me to read more was to cut out some of the Netflix I watch. At first this was easy and I probably spent more time reading than I did watching Netflix. What I have noticed though is as time went past I started going back to Netflix more and more. Now I have to consciously think about and make a concerted effort to sit down and read. This is something I have recognized and as long as I work to correct this I should be able to read more books during the second half of the year.

Another observation I have is some of the books I read are quite long, 700 or more pages. Two of the books I am reading now are over 7oo pages. So even though I have not finished as many books as I have wanted, I’ve read a considerable number of pages, in total. As of publication, I have read just under 3000 pages this year.

One of my biggest struggles is I have not been reading business books much since March. I am always one for a good story and I have found that some non-fiction books are written poorly. One book took me entirely too long to read because I could not move past errors such as formatting problems, typos, and a true lack of any substantial lessons. I know this is something I need to work on and what I have started to do is read business books at the end of the workday. This way I am still in work mode and I can devote more brain power to what I am reading.

As you can tell, I am not changing my schedule to fit more reading into what I am doing. I believe we all have things we have to do: work, friends, family, sleep, etc. What I need to do is more effectively use my free time to accomplish my goals. For me, that means less time on Netflix, less time watching soccer (thank goodness that Copa America is finished and UEFA Euro 2016 is winding down!), and less time on social media.

Moving Forward

Attack Plan and Updated Reading List

I know there is still half to year left to read 41 books and I am going to write out a small attack plan here to help me reach my goal:

  1. Read for 30 minutes at the end of each business day.
  2. Watch less Netflix; I am going to try to do a 1:1 Netflix to reading ratio.
  3. Spend at least the last 30 minutes before I fall asleep reading.
  4. Go outside and read! It’s summer and the sun is out. I’ll use that to my advantage.

Updated book list: (12 Read)

  • The Mysterious Affairs at Styles – Agatha Christie
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
  • The Heart Goes Last – Margaret Atwood
  • Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
  • The Most Productive People in History: 18 Extraordinarily Prolific Inventors, Artists, and Entrepreneurs, From Archimedes to Elon Musk – Michael Rank
  • Awakening – Jeremy Laszlo
  • Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History – Antonio J Mendez & Matt Baglio
  • The 5th Wave – Rick Yancey
  • Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath – Ted Koppel
  • The Girl Who Played With Fire – Stieg Larsson
  • Along Came a Spider – James Patterson
  • Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy –  Martin Lindstrom

Also, I wanted to add my favorite fiction and non-fiction books I’ve read so far this year. There is no real judging categories or scores, just whatever I thought was the best read:

  • Fiction: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
  • Non-Fiction: Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History – Antonio J Mendez, Matt Baglio

I challenge you to go out and start to read more. I’ve taken some steps to push myself towards reading more. What are you going to do to read more?

Stay Well and Read,

Peter