Why Join the Chamber of Commerce?

After living out in the country for forty years, not that far removed from the proverbial 40 years in the wilderness, the experience of living in town wafts in like fresh spring breezes. Before my only community was my church and my neighborhood, but now I find myself part of a city, and I enjoy actually being part of the Chamber.

I joined the Chamber last month and attended my first luncheon today. First impressions: a sea of people representing businesses from every facet of the community, professionals who take time for the welfare of others, potential friends. Many of the attendees sat with friends and colleagues, so I was just a bit of a country mouse, but I thoroughly enjoyed meeting a few people and listening to discussions.

How do you make the most of the experience? If you own a business or work in a business or love the idea of a business, join. Go to meetings. (I am ordering business cards tonight, since for my writing, everything is online. Big mistake, lol. Take lots of business cards.) Initiate conversations. Ask questions. Find a way to be useful. The local Chamber is networking at its best and most basic level. You will find no other gathering with as much business experience, friendly sharing of information, and encouragement than this. constitutional convention

Most importantly, find a way to give back. One very primary goal of any local chamber is service to the community. Americans have grown accustomed to tax dollars paying for everything from education to road repair, and lost the compulsion to dig in to make things happen…but the lifeblood of the community runs on volunteerism. The chamber thrives on finding ways to enhance the well being of each and every citizen in the community. They need you to be part of that calling. Take some civic pride in being part of a community dating back to good old George Washington and the framers of Constitution, who might very well represent the first Chamber of Commerce in these United States.

Think of your membership in the Chamber of Commerce as your initiation into the inner workings of your community. Be a part of the heart. Be an arm or leg, helping or transporting. Be some rapid firing neurons, training others. I find no shortage of opportunities for service, so seeking the best niche is important. It is okay to take your time and find your place…but you’ll never find it if you never join. I encourage you to take that first step. Invest in yourself and in your community.

How To Become an Entrepreneur

Confession: I am a serial entrepreneur. Yes, I worked off and on through my adult years as an RN in various emergency rooms and operating rooms, and yes, I loved nursing. But a typical shift in any job often proved cumbersome. As a mom, I wanted to be at home and offer my children an idyllic childhood. What to do, what to do…I decided to hire myself!

My trek through the no man’s land of self-employment began innocently enough. I published a nonprofit newsletter for three years, and grew it into a 30+ page monthly magazine. Becoming a graphic designer and publishing corporate newsletters and brochures proved to be just a step forward. Call me crazy, but I was hooked. I loved the challenge of taking on a new enterprise and building it into a growing concern. Through the years I had several businesses: I was a bead artist and sold handmade beads at trade shows nationwide; I became a travel agent; I became a MLM rep for a leading skincare company; I co-owned an expo company promoting crafters an other entrepreneurs. Now I am publishing books for teens. Along the way I learned a thing or two.

passionReady to embark on this adventure of directing your own life? My number one tip is a simple one. Believe in the magic of the journey. Many a nurse when I worked part time in surgery would wistfully say, “It must be nice, traveling all over the country selling beads.” It was nice. But they never dared stepping out from the comfort of a 40 hour week into the uncertainties of adventure. You must believe in the magic of the journey. I worked hard at both nursing and building a bead business, often working much longer hours than any of my nursing buddies, and while they envied the glamour of my life, they never wanted to embrace the vagaries of life on the road.

Second, you must fuel your passion. Choose an endeavor you enjoy. You can’t sell hair extensions if you love short hair. I know. It sounds too mundane to warrant space on the page, but I see it over and over again: people selling themselves into a business for which there exists no spark of joie de vivre. The average client or customer has a built-in BS meter, and instinctively pulls away from a sales pitch. If you’re not in love with what you do, you’re embarking on a solo expedition, and it will prove lonely and disappointing in the long run.

working officeLearn, learn, learn. My third tip exists as a maxim for all of life. Learn your craft. Learn the tax laws. Learn how to sell effectively, saying just a little while saying all the right things. Accept that a lifelong date with trends and new skill sets exist as a part of the journey, a place to hang your hat each night. If you don’t learn and adapt, your journey will be cut short.

My fourth tip either lights your eyes or causes you to cringe. Connect with people. This is an age of instant communication and social platforms transforming the way business is conducted. Brick and mortar businesses struggle to compete with online entities. Support groups, conferences, other entrepreneurs form a nest from which you draw ideas and leads. If you see yourself as an introvert, pull up your big girl panties and join in. If you see yourself as an extrovert, be careful about overwhelming others. Establish an online presence and form connections.

Tip #5:  Read daily. Read classics. Read memoirs. Read nonfiction. Read great writers. Think about when you attended high school or college literature courses. You were assigned masters of their craft, and it sharpened your own communication. A steady diet of light reading as an adult dulls those instincts.

My next tip, number six, travels hand in hand with reading. Write daily. Keep a journal, write lists, work on your memoir, or just pen a missive to someone you know. Writing is a necessary complement in the process of growing your communication skills. Learn how to weed out the intransitive verbs, and insert words with a punch. Craft sentences an English teacher would want to read. Your verbal communication earns an overhaul in the process.

Last but not least: Grow your self-discipline. If you can’t make a list and force yourself to accomplish a day’s work, you cannot hire yourself and expect a living wage. Time management, organizing and prioritizing tasks, creating a product or offering a service all require putting the pedal to the medal. You have to make miles each day on this trip of a lifetime. Stay too long at an oasis along the way, and you’ll find yourself lost in a labyrinth of trying to catch up or rejuvenate your business. A strong work ethic is a hallmark of any entrepreneur.

If this resonates with you, share your experiences in the comments. If you want more encouragement, reach out. I freely admit I am old by some standards. My parent’s generation turned 70 and sat at home waiting to die. Instead, I’m starting yet another business and tickled pink to be on the road again. I absolutely love this journey of life, and expect my writing career to be more fun than a barrel of monkeys! Excuse the outdated pun. I’d love to share this journey with you.

What To Do When Capitalism Goes Awry

Now don’t get me wrong. I believe in capitalism over all other national forms of economic structure. I do believe, however, that something has gotten our economic system out of whack.

Right now the old aphorism that it takes money to make money has never been more true. Entrepreneurs, inventors, craftsmen and authors find themselves disenfranchised when it comes to getting noticed or marketing their products. It takes a hefty bankroll to break into the public consciousness.internet

Social media leveled the playing field for a short time, but then Facebook began manipulating the posts, so no one knows who actually receives what is put online. The ever mysterious metrics on Google make reaching people on the world wide web more a case of hocus pocus and less a marketing strategy that anyone can implement with precision. The slow demise of the printed newspaper has compounded the dilemma. Even catching the eye of a reporter is difficult when the electronic age insulates them from from unwanted solicitation. The cost of advertising on any of these platforms also favors the lucky recipient with a bankroll.

The result cheapens the market because we see is not necessarily the best of the best. Cream doesn’t always rise to the top in a manipulated market. And it’s not up to you or me to judge the difference…that’s been done for us and we’ve been spoon fed what we are allowed to see. The invisible faces of people pulling strings do that for us.

My question is: How long are we going to let the invisible entities muddy up the waters? It’s time to rise up and figure a way around the stranglehold. I have ideas. Pockets of people could create accounts for startups and we could finance ourselves. The successful startup would then pay back for the next recipient. We really need to get behind a new and more transparent form of social media. And finally, we need to champion the worthy causes we see around us.

internet2It isn’t easy, I know. I am one of the sisters organizing The Ultimate Expos. I see fabulous artists who go largely unrecognized despite our every attempt to showcase their work on Facebook. We commit ourselves to advancing their careers…we just have such a twisted and tightly regulated medium in which to do it.

I welcome other suggestions. It’s up to we the people to change things. What are your ideas?

How To Actually Enjoy Retirement

If you are reading this blog, you’re either thinking about retirement or enduring it.  Either way, read on! Some look at the “golden years” apprehensively, as if any change, even a good one, might be about as enjoyable (or as exciting) as boiled spinach.  Others think they want to retire…until they do.

The change from gainful employment to every day a Saturday impacts your life in several ways:

  • Income changes
  • Health insurance changes
  • Activities of daily living change dramatically

Let’s look at each one.  Income.  Most of us aren’t sure just how much we’ll have at retirement until we actually retire.  Bear in mind that pensions are fixed, and Social Security offers few increases for the AGI.  Guess low.

Medicare requires a translator even for a college-educated health professional.  Find a retirement consultant you like for advice, with prescriptions in hand.  The balancing act of a Medicare Advantage plan is like gambling with a roulette wheel.  You trade lower monthly costs for the advantage of having good health, but one major incident changes your pre-existing conditions and preempts you from a change in plan.  Medicare is not for the faint in heart, no pun intended.  Don’t try to navigate these uncharted waters without guidance.

The infinity of free time holds the key to both of the above. Find meaningful, hopefully profitable ways to employ your time at your own discretion.  I have four side gigs to contribute income, offer me stimulation, and improve my life.  I started with one, of course.  I made glass beads and sold them at trade shows.  China flooded the market with cheap beads and that ended that.  In all honesty, it proved to be very labor intensive, and it probably needed to disappear anyway, much as I loved it  What I discovered is that life is not stagnant.  Your interests change, your energy and health dictate what you can do, and that’s okay.  Now that I juggle four interests, time management requires budgeting my hours, but I’m good with that.  I don’t sit still well anyway.peeking.JPG

The long and short of it is simple.  You spent many a year preparing for a career, and many a year building a career.  Spend some time preparing for and building an enjoyable retirement.  Don’t assume you can retire on Friday and fill Monday with meaningful activity–you can only reorganize your sock drawer so many times.  Closing your eyes and peeking out to see if you’ll like it is not a good retirement plan.  I am finding ways to enjoy this season of my life despite the curve balls and losses, and think that all of us could…with some preparation.  Enjoy your retirement.  Don’t just endure it.

 

Boomers Unite! Make Mondays Great Again!

I’m starting a new revolution.  Forget Peace and Love.  Ignore the rude world of politics.  Boomers, join my new movement, which I call Make Mondays Great Again!  Monday is my favorite day of the week.  I know, I know, some of you, with stones in hand, prepare to destroy such heresy here on the spot, but bear with me.

Monday got stigmatized long ago by people who hate their J-O-Bs.  Pure and simple.  Let me list the dazzling facts surrounding Mondays for you proselytes.

  • Mondays symbolize “new beginnings with no mistakes in them,” as Anne-with-an-E stated so poignantly.  I know, she thought she was talking about tomorrows, but I’ve got her covered here.  She meant Mondays.  Truth.  Everyone starts over on Mondays, each allotted an equal chance of weekly greatness.  Gotta’ love it! Vote for Mondays!!
  • The madness of insane weekends disappears on Mondays.  Weekenders, be they hip hop night-life lovers or Sunday go-to-meeting devotees, all end Sunday feeling just a little on the whipped to well done side of the platter.  Gotta’ love Mondays!  Inhale.  Take a deep breath.  Smell the fresh morning dew.  Vote for Mondays!!
  • Mondays begin in third gear.  Everyone stumbles out of bed, reaches for the joe, and tiptoes into the week.  That laid back entry, as opposed to the Tuesday being thrown to the wolves dynamic, just makes me smile.  Gotta’ love Mondays.  Yes, vote for Mondays!!!

So, Boomers, unite!  Spread the word.  Hang posters.  Write editorials.  Let’s Make Mondays Great Again.  If Monday is your Nemesis, think of joining me.  I make Mondays fun!!!

Rosie

Are We Funny, Quirky, or Obsessed?

Isn’t it funny what sticks and what doesn’t?  A little minion at our house absolutely adores Monk.  No day is complete without an episode, or two if at all possible.  It’s a blessing and a curse.  We love that time of day.  Snuggling, laughing together.  And we enjoy our shared jokes, citing Monkisms in the pool, driving to town, doing chores.  Yes, she is obsessed with Monk.

Yet the obsession begins and ends outside the realm of personal tidiness.  Her penmanship?  Not Monkish at all.  Cleaning?  Nope.  Dust bunnies and spider webs never call her name.  Personal hygiene?  Not so much.  We have yet to find a toothbrush she wants to employ.

We each pick and choose where we place our focus, what we adore, what we very conveniently overlook.  I love recipes and meal planning–but I never measure ingredients.  I mean, how important can that be?  I choose what matters to me.  I bet you’re the same way.  Do your little obsessions make you quirky or annoying as all get out?

I believe that quirkiness makes us human, not as a species, but as individuals.  A dog at our house is quirky as all get out too, but while he considers himself human, we rarely inform him otherwise.  No, it makes us human as in flawed, less than perfect, slightly crazy in a good way, as long as we deem our obsessions healthy and productive.

My family thinks I obsess over Posh.  Hmm…I do love Posh.  I am obsessed with the packaging, the quirky product names, its effects on my skin.  It’s also my bread and butter…take that back.  As a side hustle, it serves more as my barbecue sauce.  It seasons and makes our lives richer and more palatable, adding spice to my days.  Is it productive?  Yes, we discovered a little too late this well known fact: You cannot survive on Social Security.  Posh income adds an important contribution to our financial well being. So, yes, I guess I am obsessed with Posh in a good way.  It’s a blessing and a curse.

The New Normal Can Be Fun

Winter eclipsed into summer leaving scorching temperatures in its wake.  In despair we gave up on spring.  We mourned the loss of spring.  Then out of the blue, cooler spring-like weather blew in.  I should be overjoyed.  Yet now I sit on the deck shivering, while indomitable little people insist it’s not too cold to swim, and they must be watched, ergo I shiver.  Mother Nature’s vagaries play havoc with my life, and in the midst of it all, I love watching little people savor every last drop of joy in the process.

Changes large and small now define us.  It used to just be the fluctuating stock market or roiling issues in the Mideast that epitomized our lives in flux.  Not so anymore.  Change itself has become the norm.  Ann Dalton, our Posh guru, recently told us regarding challenges and change in the marketplace, “This is the new normal.  Get used to it.”

When you look at your finances, your place of employment, your bank balance, your portfolio, do you feel secure?  Any individual, be it a CEO or a janitor, exercises a mere dab of control over his or her own income/destiny these days.  A side hustle is one small thing you can control.  Choose something you like, something you’ll enjoy.  Dive in.  Allocate resources of time, energy, a small startup monetary investment…you choose.  Your dime, your future.  You be the change and define yourself.  For example, everyone sells skincare these days, but I market the magic in making it fun.  I chose a logo that looked like fun.  Yeah, I sell fun.  Having fun as I grow old is my new norm.  What’s yours?

option 2

What is the Second Great Mystery?

I often read about serious things.  I do.  I know that theologians refer to the inexplicable nature of God as being The Great Mystery, but the issue of disappearing internet bandwidth ranks right up there in my book!  On the 15th we got a text telling us we had used up our allotment of bandwidth.  Really?  With half a month to go?  Had it vaporized into thin air?  Our habits are deeply ingrained; we hadn’t changed one iota.  Yet suddenly our lives were drastically altered.  We contemplated a Stonehendge existence, and I realized three stark options before me:

  1. We could purchase expensive tokens as a temporary solution.  The helpful lady at customer service gifted us two, which disappeared in less than 24 hours.  Somehow, that didn’t look like a satisfactory option.  How does that even happen?
  2. We could upgrade our plan and restart another 24-month cycle of enslavement to HughesNet.  Ick.
  3. We could camp out at Panera’s when we wanted to use a laptop.  Tasty!

Right now, pencil in hand, I realize how deeply dependent I am.  I run my business on the internet.  We communicate via email on the internet.  I keep recipes on my Pinterest board, which, of course, lives on the internet.

Byte by byte the encroaching and never ending reach of technology poses as a blessing, but its ramifications quickly become a curse when your access disappears or your identity gets hacked.  Our information, minute details of our lives get encrypted into invisible strands that stream away, landing who knows where and handled by nefarious rogues, I’m sure.  Upon reflection, I realize the periphery of my life revolves around internet availability, but the essence of my heart and mind dwell in another dimension.  A solid dimension of hugs and meals and people. The problem is that I spend as many waking hours wrestling with the periphery as I do with what matters most, and see no way of changing that.

I bet you’re wondering how we solved this weighty dilemma.  We immediately ruled out #2.  In six months we will be free to look at another company lined with fine print, but a different cage may feel more attractive to us.  We opted not to change our plan.  At roughly $10 a meal at Panera’s, I figured that three days of internet usage equaled the cost of 10 extra tokens.  I stopped right there and discarded door #3.  Yes, we made someone’s day and bought tokens.  Label me #ensaredbytheunseen.   This second great mystery plagues me.

words

For now I sleep comforted, knowing I own 10 tokens of an unknown quantity of internet bandwidth, which means diddly squat in terms I understand.  Actually, I didn’t sleep all that well last night.  The second great mystery eludes me.

What is a Blog?

Blogging.  I am conflicted about the whole concept of blogging.  On the one hand, it seems like the ultimate self-adulation in a world drunk with selfies.  What possible insight does one lonely blogger offer a society stuffed with too much useless information?  Google any topic and you’ll find a plethora of quotes and articles, and probably spend hours sifting through it all.  Adding to the reams of cacophony seems pointless.  On the other hand, the impulse to write burns within me.

I write for myself.  I write for my business, because I love what I do.  I write because words carry innate power within themselves.  Words sear.  Convict.  Touch.  Hurt.  Heal.  They pose as insignificant chicken scratches, but don’t be fooled.

Oh no, my friend.  Words aren’t just mightier than the sword.  They infuse life and motive into the swing of the sword.  Sentient within the universe lies a Being I call God.  He created words and imparted Himself, His essence into words, leaving them open to the heart and mind of the person who uses them, be it a good heart or an evil heart.

I take these words I pen very seriously.  And so should you.  Because once you read them, the voice in your mind forever retains them, truth and untruth.  My friends, I am honored you read my words.  I promise to write strong words, edifying words, words worthy of your time.

 

Wonder Woman

Empowering Women (and men)

Tip Tuesday is a common theme in Perfectly Posh.  We spend a lot of time helping each other figure out better ways to run our businesses.  Unlike corporate America, where people claw their way to the top, brown nose, vie to get attention and steal the credit whenever they can, Posh pits you only against yourself.  Requirements for advancement are clearly laid out and there’s no glass ceiling, no limit to how many can succeed.  We can all succeed.  Every business owner gauges her own successes, maps out her own path, and competes only against herself.

I like cooperation.  I thrive in a sisterhood of friendship and mutual support.  And in that spirit of support, I decided to offer you my top five tips for being happy at 68.  I consider happiness a bar of success.

#5  Decide to try.  Engagement means exactly the same thing in business and in life as it means in romance.  Put the ring on and commit to your business, to your goals, to what makes you happy.

#4  Decide to smile.  Life’s vexing grievances are better swallowed with a cup of pleasure.  Seriously.  Show some teeth whether you feel like it or not.  I find that the smile ushers in the joy, not the other way around.

#3  Decide to train.  Yup.  Be a life learner.  Pick up new ideas.  Learn a new language.  Study a new topic.  Find a mentor.  In some way, every day, every single day, learn something new.  You’ll be happier sharpening your mind.

#2  Decide to serve others.  Simple, really, just serve people.  Make something easier for someone around you.  If you work with someone, help that person succeed with no sense of self interest, no hope for personal gain.  Just serve someone.

#1  Decide to be consistent.  Daily effort.  Ten minutes or two hours–you decide the amount of effort, but doing something daily to meet your personal goals elevates you in the standings of life.  That consistent effort yields satisfaction, which makes you happy.

Want to work with me?  I’m full of ideas, and I love sharing them with my team!  Go to www.madaboutposh.com and click on JOIN.  empower women.JPG