Sharing Knowledge: Speaking on Stage Is Both Exhilarating and Intimidating

“The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.” ~ George Jessel

How can something be both exhilarating and intimidating? It’s like the fine line between love and hate; you feel the thrill of exhilaration and the fear of intimidation at the same time. 

I spoke at two events in the same week recently, and while I don’t like to pat myself on the back, I do know my material, but it’s almost like my brain shuts off as soon as I walk onto the stage. What’s up with that? My journey to speak professionally started three years ago and I’ve actually wanted to speak professionally most of my life. My goal is to bring humor into my presentations; when appropriate. I’m a pretty funny gal.

So why does my brain play tricks on me? Most of it has to do with mindset. Will people like what I have to say? Why do they care what I have to say? Have they heard this stuff before? Mindset is probably the most important bridge to cross because we let our minds play games with us. However, the trick is for us not to listen because we are all great at what we do; we just have to believe in ourselves and do it!

I want to share a couple of things I learned from speaking at these events. I thought they might help you or someone you know let go of the intimidation so you can enjoy the excitement if you’re speaking at a workshop or thinking about starting to speak, or you have a presentation at school. 

  1. Never wear black when you speak on stage. I wore a black skirt and jacket at one of the events and guess what? The curtain on the stage was black. All the audience saw was my face and my blue blouse. I should have remembered the information from my speaking classes, but it didn’t even cross my mind because I was so focused on my material and making sure I had everything else put together.
  2. You know your stuff. If you’ve practiced a million (okay a hundred) times, stop the chatter in your brain; shut it off. You wouldn’t be at the event if you weren’t an expert at what you are talking about so take a deep breath, enjoy the day, listen to the other presenters, see what you can learn from them – what they do great when they’re presenting, what’s not so great, and relax.
  3. If at all possible, don’t use notes as a crutch. I did and I probably would have executed my presentation better without them. My coach says, “People don’t know what you’re going to say so if you forget something it doesn’t matter. You can always go back and add it later.” I’ve vowed to myself I’m not going to use notes the next time. It’s like I mentioned above; it seems as if my mouth disconnects from my brain and foreign words start pouring forth!
  4. Tell stories during your presentation. This helps the audience relate to you and the information you’re sharing. If speakers just blurt out technical stuff, personally I go into La La Land. I can read a book and find out the same information. The more someone relates to you, the know, like, and trust factor is easier to develop which is huge for building your community!
  5. During my presentation, I mention not using “industry-specific jargon” in marketing materials or speeches because your audience might not understand what you’re saying. So what do I do? In my presentation, I used the words “pain points” when I was talking about determining who your ideal audience is and if you don’t know your audience you can’t market to them until you understand their pain points. It never occurred to me the people I was talking to wouldn’t know what “pain points” were. When it came time for Q&A the first question out of one of the audience members was, “When you say “pain point” what does that mean?” Wow, I talked about not using jargon and I used jargon. 

Learning to speak professionally is a process and the process doesn’t start until we do. Also, we don’t become professional speakers overnight (unfortunately). We keep learning and recognizing what we’re doing right, what improvements we can make to do better because we’re students until we leave this earth. I continue to learn and grow, but I’ve started, I’m putting myself out there, and I’m being vulnerable. The funny thing is I’m also exhilarated and intimidated at the same time, and I’m loving it! 

What’s one thing I shared with you and you thought I could do this? I’d love to hear from you. If you want to speak, go for it; one speech at a time.

Until next time,

Colleen

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

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

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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

The Easiest Way to Start Your Book Today

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Welcome back readers.

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I want to write a book?” Or, maybe you’ve heard an increasingly large number of entrepreneurs are writing books and you want to jump on the train. Maybe you want to spread your story and expand your audience beyond your current clientele. We’ve heard these types of comments and questions from many people and we are here to help. Over the past month we have put together a guide for authors, speakers, coaches, and businesses owners to start the book they’ve always wanted to write.

Today I’ll break down what we created and why we sectioned it out the way we did. From the first day of writing to finding your readers’ problems to brainstorming ideas for your cover and everything in between, we have you covered.

What we did?

Making it easier to start your book!

“Ten Simple Steps to Discover the Book Inside You” is our way to help people who want to write a book but do not understand where to start. One of the hardest parts of writing a book is starting. Newton’s first law, as stated probably one too many times outside of the field of physics, still holds true – “An object in motion stays in motion, an object at rest stays at rest.”  The aim of our guide is to help writers to just start, to create a certain time to write in a creative place, and to begin planning the entire process of writing, publishing, and marketing their future book.

Each manuscript goes through three main processes, which you have probably heard from us before: writing, publishing, and marketing. We divided our ten days into three, three-day blocks tackling the three tasks in each period block. But, that only adds up to nine days. The last day, and in our opinion the most important day, is the day in which we encourage our writers to take the time to plan out the rest of their book, and to take the next step forward.

If you want to learn a bit more about how to start writing your book, download “Ten Simple Steps to Discover the Book Inside You” today and begin your path to publication. Or, if you know of someone interested in writing a book, please share this post with them. We appreciate it! 

Until next week,

Peter

Ten Simple Steps to Discover the Book Inside You

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Who needs processes?

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A process for you and a process for me.

Have you ever done the same task over and over again? As humans, we are creatures of habit so most of what we do each day is routine; same old, same old. We don’t like to do things differently and it makes sense to do every task the easiest way possible, right?

It makes sense then that what we do in business should be completed in a similar fashion each time and the easiest way possible. This is where processes come into play.

Process? What process?

Merriam-Webster defines process as, “a series of actions that produce something or that lead to a particular result.” For example, you follow a process when you send a newsletter, write a blog, post on social media, call a client, etc. There are many actions business owners take on a daily basis that need to be written into processes. 

Creating processes may not sound like a great use of time, but trust me, it is! Imagine for a second currently you send two newsletter campaigns out each month. Do you put the same content in each newsletter? I bet you don’t, but where does the content come from? Probably your blog or a personal update or curated content from industry leaders.

As entrepreneurs, the goal is to grow your business and as it grows, taking time to do all the things you do now like write your newsletter isn’t the best use of your money or time. So you hire a social media expert or a Virtual Assistant to compile your newsletter. How will they know what to put in your newsletter? Do you expect them to know exactly what you want with zero help? If so, you’re asking for trouble.

Here is where a process comes into play. There are many things to include in a process – what tasks you are going to complete, what tools do you need to complete those tasks, a specific order of events, and a time frame for how long the tasks should take.

Every business has clients, but what do you do when you first start working with a client? Here’s our process for what we do when we talk with a potential client:

  1. Email client a client intake form which includes the following:
    1. Name
    2. Email
    3. Phone number
    4. Business name
    5. Email newsletter subscriber info
  2. Put info into CRM
  3. Add intake form into client folder in Google Drive/computer

Client intake information is a basic process, but processes can (and should) be developed for many tasks, both simple and more complex. I even have a process for when I write blogs!

What processes do you have in place as your business grows and it’s time to bring on a Virtual Assistant, if you have a sudden illness, or accident? Processes can make or break your business. Colleen and I look forward to hearing from you.

Peter Wietmarschen

The Best of Goodreads, or How to Find Your Favorite Book!

Hello there readers!

Last week I published my first blog in a few weeks and I’m back at it again today! Be sure to keep your eye out for my blogs hitting the site once a week, usually on Tuesdays from here on out but maybe some on Thursdays like today.

So yesterday June began! We are almost halfway through the year already, I can’t believe it! But June is the start of the summer and vacations and, for me at least, that means it’s time to read, read, read. What better way to start off the summer than with a blog for readers.

Goodreads

The Basics

I know in the past I have brought up this site called Goodreads but we haven’t had the proper opportunity to really delve into what Goodreads really offers. There are many functions of Goodreads but I want to talk about some of my favorites.

To start, what is Goodreads? Goodreads is a social network for bibliophiles. It’s a virtual bookshelf for readers to showcase what they are reading to friends, family, and any one else who follows them. Goodreads helps you stay in touch with other readers through your books and their’s.

There are many aspects of Goodreads and many of them can seem somewhat confusing. I wish I had the time to really take apart each of these sections because I think they provide incredible tools to readers and authors alike. However, for today’s purposes the two most basic parts of Goodreads are your bookshelves and your basic update.

Goodreads keeps all of your books, whether in print, on your Kindle (which is what I use the majority of the time), your Kindle App, or any book you read on other platforms, on virtual shelves.  There are a few shelves that everyone is set up with from the beginning, Currently Reading, Read, To-Read, and you can add shelves to organize your books in other fashions. I currently use the three main shelves as well as a shelf dedicated to my 2016 reading challenge, which includes all of the books I have completed this year. Maybe you want all your sales books on one shelf or your top 10 favorite books on another, make your shelves personal! And don’t worry, you can have your books on multiple shelves at once.

The other basic aspect of Goodreads is the update. Once you have a book added to your shelves you can update your reading progress to show others how far you have read. You can do this on your Kindle by sharing the update from your current page and Goodreads will automatically update with your progress. If you read print books, keep track of your progress on Goodreads as well, just add a manual update and Goodreads tracks your place.

If you are new to Goodreads these two parts are where I would spend some time becoming familiar with the site. But if you are a regular visitor or an advanced user there are many other aspects of the site that I love.

Virtual Spelunking

Further exploring Goodreads

For those who want some more Goodreads, come and explore with me! I really want to talk about two things I use regularly.

First off, check out their List section. Reader Beware: You can get lost for a long time here. As the name suggests, here you will find lists upon lists upon lists of book. The topics range from :Best Books of the ’90s” to “Books that Grow You” to “Best Business Books” and thousands of others. Why do I sit at the computer and look at these? Mainly because they are lists generated by users who vote on books to climb up or down the list. This is neat because it shows you what books others are reading and what books you might want to read.

One downside to the way that this works is that people have an inherent bias to vote for books that others have voted for in order to be viewed favorably by others. This might hide a few books that are great reads so don’t feel obligated to read what everyone else already has. Do not let that impede your discovery of books though as nearly all of the books I have found on these lists are top-notch books. The biggest thing is that the lists are a tool for you to discover new books to read and you might find a hidden gem you never knew about before!

The other part of Goodreads I like is the recommendations offered by Goodreads. The site takes the books you have read, shown interest in, or rated and it will give you recommendations based on those books. With someone like myself who constantly wants to find a good book to read these recommendations give me another source to add books to my to-read shelf.

Your turn!

What else is there?

I know that there are many other aspects of Goodreads and I highly suggest digging into them especially if you are a reader. From giveaways to the Choice Awards, to discussions, and more, you can find about anything you need to satisfy your need to read. Look forward to some blogs coming out in the future that will look into these other sections.

For those of you who use Goodreads, what are some of your favorite parts? Anything you can’t live without or maybe something that you hate? Let me know!

And if you want to become friends send me a request!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Peter