Have you ever had a favorite pet that was your BFF and constant traveling companion?

I can say yes, and let you know that such was the case with Lucy, my sweet Sheltie who passed yesterday after a long spirited life.

 lucy in woods

In honor of Lucy, I’d like to pay tribute to some of the lessons she taught me about life, business and the pursuit of happiness:

  • Celebrate Life. Lucy made no bones about it; she was all-in and ready to travel. Much like her Mom, she was a midnight rider, a good listener and could nap anywhere.
  • Travel with Style. It really didn’t matter whether Lucy traveled in a convertible, in the back of a boat, or front seat of a pick-up truck. Lucy had wanderlust — and a leash was optional.
  • Be Pampered. Lucy lived a life filled with kindness, kisses, sweet talk and TLC. She loved attention — and was a pro — at giving it, and getting it.
  • Be Loved. Lucy showed me time and time again, what unconditional love looked like. It was a daily lesson and a reminder that love is the most important thing on Earth.
  • Take the High Road. If Lucy didn’t get her way, she took the high road. Tomorrow there’d be another chance to get that cookie, go for a walk on the beach or smell other dogs. She looked forward to those simple pleasures.
  • Know When it’s Time to Rest. Sleeping was one of Lucy’s favorite pastimes, though I’m not sure if she just closed her eyes during all those phone calls, or the snoring was meant to fool me.
  • Remember to keep a secret. Let’s just say, I’m sure she heard more than a few short and long tales. What a confidante!

Though my heart may break with sadness, my heart is also filled with joy for the love we shared.

If you had a favorite pet, you know what I mean.

Here’s to you Lucy, and the giant parade with Milkbones that welcomed you.

I’ve discovered that one of the easiest and most fulfilling ways to bring business in the door, and feel like I’m making a difference is through donating gift certificates to charities and organizations that need to raise money for a good cause.

Choosing the right organizations that align with my brand and core values is important, and knowing who the audience is gives me an opportunity to target my message and customize it for the cause.

In my Goodness Campaign, all branding materials and collateral have a ‘look’ that is consistent with the way I want to be seen — in my community, to my colleagues and clients, and to the world. My gift certificates are well designed, include my signature photo, and key information about my business – so anyone bidding on an auction item or not, can contact me.

My time and PR and promotions services are valuable, so I also make it a point to give at least a $500 gift certificate and ask that at least half of the money is collected for the cause. Return promotion is a given.

If you want a million dollar brand, you want to look like a million, and feel like a million. Giving opens the heart and allows prosperity to flow.

Go with the flow. Make time to make a difference.

I had the pleasure last week of some downright frolicking. Not on my calendar. Not on my radar. Not organized by me.

A little bit of unexpected fun, spontaneity and more than a few laughs – took me by surprise and to a place where although we know that life is serious, we don’t always need to be so serious. Perhaps we can all learn from Gumby, and be more flexible. Perhaps we can also learn to be more generous to ourselves and allow playfulness to rule – for just a while, giving responsibility a well-deserved time out.

Will there always be work to do? That’s a yes. Do we have responsibilities that require our focused attention? Well, of course. Are we open to looking at life not just through rose colored glasses, but through the eyes of a child, excited to see what’s around the corner?

That’s where bold meets beautiful.

Do you think we attract frolicking or does frolicking seek us out? That’s a question we’ll have to ask ourselves.

Laissez les bons temps rouler.

Let the good times roll. Expect the best and let it happen.

Last week, I had an opportunity to attend a breakfast on Regenerative Medicine, a subject which has always fascinated me.  I decided early in the year to go to new and interesting talks as part of my plan for 2012 to hear about ideas, different from my everyday world, and get insights to inspire my current thinking.

At the breakfast, I caught the eye of a young man who smiled warmly at me.  I returned the smile and focused on the presentation at hand, about stem cells, and the research being done at Boston University which was impressive.

At the end of the event, this young man, two seats away, introduced himself.  Much to my surprise, he was my next door neighbor over 25 years ago.

Handsome, smart, a PhD Angel Investor and CEO , he told me over coffee what an impact I had on his life as a young boy, giving him his first job and being a role model as a female entrepreneur.

I sat rather quietly, listening to a 12 year old’s memories of my spirited work, non-traditional entrepreneurial efforts, and first- hand stories of me, as his neighbor.  It was interesting to note that the joyful entrepreneur — and attractor of opportunities and financial success that I am drawn to — was sitting across from me.  In a flash, I witnessed not only the passing of time, but the overwhelming importance of our impact on children and how we, whether we know it or not, can influence others.

Twice last week I have been touched by such stories.

Is there a next door neighbor in your life? Is it a little boy?  A troubled teen?  An elderly woman feeling vulnerable? An entrepreneur who needs an encouraging word?

You never know when you can make an impact. Even when you’re just being you.

Today, as my youngest daughter left to go back to college, I got choked up and my voice changed.

No matter how I tried to hide it, I couldn’t. After seeing this email from Seth Godin, I decided to share it. It was meaningful for me because in business and in life, your voice will give you away. It’s an expression of who you are.

I send this today as a heads up the next time you give a presentation.

Are you you?

Your Voice Will Give You Away by Seth Godin

It’s extremely difficult to read a speech and sound as if you mean it.

For most of us, when reading, posture changes, the throat tightens and people can tell. Reading is different from speaking, and a different sort of attention is paid.

Before you give a speech, then, you must do one of two things if your goal is to persuade:

Learn to read the same way you speak (unlikely) or, learn to speak without reading. Learn your message well enough that you can communicate it without reading it. We want your humanity.

If you can’t do that, don’t bother giving a speech. Just send everyone a memo and save time and stress for all concerned.

I’m a strong believer in giving back, even in ways that may seem somewhat offbeat or unrelated to the casual observer.

Case in point. This month, I’ve had the pleasure of sponsoring a 4-week Self-Defense program for women in my community, and worked closely with both my local hospital and Police Department to make it happen. An odd partnership you may think, if you look at this from straight on. But from my viewpoint, Let’s Make You Shine and this course did have one thing in common: empowering women, in a big way.

Week two, and the softest spoken women, the most unexpected teenagers, and fellow sisters who could have been your “aunties” or neighbors, have risen to the challenge of putting power in their punch, exercising their vocal chords, and bonding with a group of strangers preparing to defend their most valuable asset, themselves. They parried and blocked, without fear, and celebrated with a sense of dignity and accomplishment, that they can be powerful, even at 5’2.

Financial advisors may tell you to invest in the stock market, big pharmas or natural gas, but I remember advice with impact, from about five years ago.  “Invest in you” was the message. And, it was loud and clear – so I took the time to invest as well as protect me, in many facets of my life.

Four police officers and twenty-five women are a part of the Let’s Make You Shine RAD Self Defense program this November and December. RAD is a series of stances, “ready commands” and information that every woman should know, regardless of her age, so she can feel safe, and live in her fullest power.

This same inner strength, coupled with focused action and advanced technique is similar in many ways to how an entrepreneur might navigate a business.

The power of a punch, and where your energy is focused. The power of thinking on your feet, and  making it through unexpected challenges. The power of being prepared, and letting no one interfere with where you want to go, be, do or have.

There are no guarantees in life, but I like knowing that I’ve got what it takes to live a big, full life, and that no one’s going to stop me.

For me, empowering women, children, or a troubled friend is just the right thing to do. And what a bonus it is, when your community supports you. Easy.  Just as life should be.

A huge thank you to all of my communities, near and far, for your unwavering support. Stay safe on your travels, and enjoy the blessings of Thanksgiving.

I’​m finding that with the current economic marketplace, I advise small business owners to give lots of added value.

Instead of discounting programs, I suggest that they add to an established program. That often makes a difference;​ i.e., a half day session included with a six month program, for business coaching for example.

There are many vendors that may offer your service, but you have to personalize your products to their needs (not yours) without giving up integrity, or doing it for free.

By adding a little extra, of their perceived value, you’​ll turn a prospect into a customer.

Give + give freely. Your time.Your insight.Your expertise.Share your successes and failures.Your community wants to connect with you to solve a problem,be more successful,learn and grow.Give and you will receive. Serve and you will be served, all ways!

Thanks to The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur for sharing my tip! Be sure to read all of the tips by clicking here: Ways to Embrace Your Community and Audience

“A man without a plan for the day is lost before he starts.”
Lewis K. Bendele

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I know that I am meant to do this with my life, but with all the things I have to do, when will I have the time?” Sometimes, the real challenge is not finding your dream, but finding the time to dedicate to your dream. Our lives are full with work, family, friends, technology and more. De-cluttering your day may be just what you need.

De-cluttering your day is not a lot different from de-cluttering your closet or your desk. You have to go through all the ‘stuff’ (or in this case, ‘stuff that needs to be done’), get rid of the stuff that no longer serves you, and streamline/organize the rest. It may mean that you let go of obligations that no longer make sense for you. It may also mean that you let some things go.

Maggie was in a small, cozy book club. Several women from work got together once a month to have a glass of wine and discuss the current book. It was fun, but Maggie wanted more time to pursue her dream to paint. Giving up book club would not end contact with anyone in the group, so Maggie told her friends she would be moving on, to take a painting class. Her decision was met with complete support. “I was nervous that they’d be somehow insulted or hurt, but ‘the girls’ have cheered me all the way. They even came to my first art show in the city.” Maggie is on her way to earning a full-time income from her painting, and her friends are very proud of her.

Chores take time too, and they just won’t go away. I’ve checked, and there is no ‘laundry fairy’, but that doesn’t mean we can’t streamline things a bit. Start with the tasks that are your responsibility within your family, work, etc. Are your kids old enough to take on more responsibility at home? Maybe it’s time to delegate a few tasks at work to someone who would like more responsibility. If finances allow, it may even be time to hire a little help. According to Dr. Donald E. Wetmore, time management expert and author of Beat the Clock, “Hiring a college student to do routine tasks (grocery shopping, yard work, household chores, etc.) will free up as much as 20 hours per week for the average person to devote to more productive uses.”

Take a long hard look at how you use technology as well. Tell the truth — how often do you check your email? How much daylight are you burning on social networks and forums? It’s important to be in touch, but not to the point that you can’t get things done.

Spend some time this week paying attention to how you spend your time. Find those ‘lost minutes’, gather them together and use them for the important work that is your life.