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Because the Box is to Damn Crowded

January 13th, 2010 No Comments

Out of the Box

I designed this logo a while back and I feel it portrays everything I’m about. I also think it portrays exactly how every entrepreneur should think. I printed this out and taped it on my wall a long time ago. Whenever I’m brainstorming or working on ideas, I like to look at this picture and let my mind drift out of the box.

Most who know me know that I usually think waaayyy out of the box. Is it a gift or is it an ability developed through years of practice? I believe it is the latter. ANYONE can develop this skill! When I look at anything, whether it is an object or business, my mind is constantly deriving ways of how to improve that concept. And this is something I’ve practiced since I could use a pencil and paper.

Funny example of this is when I go out to a bar or club. Many misconstrue my quiet demeanor as not having a good time, when in fact my brain is actually working overtime…analyzing the flow of the business, the behavior of the cocktail servers, the POS systems, how they handle the cash, the layout of the club and how it could be improved, the music selection, the demographic stats of their customers…and so on. It can be quite enlightening when one stops, watches and learns from their surroundings. Of course, it’s nothing a few shots of tequila can’t remedy.

My point of the story is this…don’t go with the crowd…go away from it, go against it, go in circles around it…just don’t go with it! If you’d like to start a new venture similar to an already successful business model, don’t copy it, improve it! EVERYTHING can either be improved or broken down and simplified.

Case in point: Ebay is a monster in its industry. In fact, any auction site that tries to compete directly with Ebay loses. A few entrepreneurs recognized this and started analyzing Ebay. They realized that Ebay did not allow the sale of guns on their site. This spawned the creation of www.gunbroker.com. Within their first year of business, they were already doing $1 million per month in sales. And the site is not even designed that well.

These entrepreneurs recognized a niche that Ebay was ignoring, and they seized it. Find a niche and embrace it! This is the age of niches…the age of personal preferences and individual tastes. (That’s so going on my quote page!)

That is the kind of thinking that you must do if you want to succeed big! It may take a little while to hone your skills, but practice it everyday. Everything you look at, you should analyze and try to improve. Whether it is a business, a gadget or just an ordinary object. If some person out there could look at a fork and spoon and realize that putting them together would make him a millionaire (yes…I’m talking about the spork), just imagine what else could be done!

COLLEGE STUDENTS CARE — Inspiring Stories from 2009

December 31st, 2009

COLLEGE STUDENTS CARE — Inspiring Stories from 2009

Reader Christina writes:

Camp Kesem is one of the 24 camps in the US, run entirely by college student volunteers, which provide one week of summer camp to children with a parent who has or has had cancer.  The students collectively dedicated thousands of hours throughout the year to plan CK and fundraise an average of $50,000 to bring magic to families with cancer…for free!

One night during our 2008 camp, we decided to have our staff meeting around the camp fire and on this particular night, we had an important issue to discuss that needed a lot of input. Almost every counselor offered their opinion that night on the topic at hand. I remember staring into the fire and being completely enamored by the brilliant, eloquent, opinions that filled the air. I thought about how the family members, teachers, and mentors of the counselors sitting around me, and how proud they would be, if they knew of the selflessness that was emanating from this group of college kids. There they were exhausted and yet invested and dedicating 100% of themselves with only one motive: doing what was right to make life better for kids that life was not always fair to. Our conversation carried far into the middle of the night, anyone could have slipped away to bed. But everyone stayed.

At MIT, the focus is on education. We study, write papers, pull all-nighters trying to learn just one more abstract mathematical concept. We constantly check our grades, the time, our emails, our mental to-do lists for something more important than what we are doing at the time. At camp, we pause and we stay. Because there is nothing more important.”

Watch the video she made of scenes from camp.

Click here to see if this program is available at your school.

LOVE THY NEIGHBOR — Inspirational Story of 2009

December 31st, 2009

Reader Ashley writes:

In October, a young child, Anna, had her yellow tricycle stolen. This would be crushing for any young child as I’m sure we can all remember our childhood bikes, a symbol of our earliest independence (well, at least it was to me.) Anna’s tricycle was a little more important to her, however than most other children her age. Anna has a developmental disability and uses her bike as therapy. The family was able to get the $400 bike because of a grant they received, but it was not about the money for them. They wanted the bike back so that Anna could continue to ride up down the streets on her own…not tandem with her mother. The family pleaded with the person who took the bike to just return it and no questions would be asked. Throughout the few local interviews done on the story, the family never seemed bitter. They believed someone made a mistake and didn’t realize what type of bike they were taking (not that taking any bike is OK).

About a week after the bike went missing, someone returned the bike to the family. They placed it back in their yard at night where they had taken it several nights prior. The part that I found interesting was that as the media stations reported on the returned bike, they briefly brushed over another piece of information: while the family waited for the “bike thief” to be found, a good, anonymous Samaritan had bought Anna another yellow bike. Someone who did not know this child chose to spend $400 dollars so that she could regain her independence. This, although very much under-reported, was so inspiring to me. Anytime a stranger chooses to input good things into the life of another, I believe more good comes from it, and it did. Because Anna now had two yellow bikes (thanks to the Good Samaritan), Anna’s family donated the returned bike to another child with the same developmental disability as Anna.

This story makes me smile. Inspiration for me is looking at what others do, say and how they live and wanting to the same.”

Sending Love and Support Through Cyberspace – Inspirational Story of 2009

December 31st, 2009

Sending Love and Support Through Cyberspace – Inspirational Story of 2009

Reader Laura writes:

“This year, I have been following the saga of Heather and Mike Spohr, a young couple from California who lost their baby daughter earlier this year.  I found their site through some other mommy blogs (I must admit, I have a soft spot for mommy blogs).  Their beautiful daughter Madeline was born prematurely and suffered through a lot of health complications during her short life.  I cannot read Heather’s eulogy without crying.  Maddy (as she is loving called) was the cutest little baby girl I have ever seen.

The reason why the Spohr’s story is so important is because it demonstrates and healing power of the Internet.  In Heather’s darkest hours, she reached out to a community of thousands through her blog.  In the middle of the night, when she was alone and hurting to badly to even talk to her own husband, she could talk to her readers and get support.  In an age where Internet bullying (as you yourself have experienced) seems to be the dominant pastime, it warms my heart to see people connecting to each other and coming out the other side of tragedy braver and stronger.

The story of the Spohrs should inspire us to be kinder to our fellow man, whether it be in the grocery story online.  Their story should also remind us that in a time of great sorrow and pain, there are thousands of people out there who know what you are going through.  If you are brave enough to share your story, they will help you heal.

(Photos via Flickr)

Other Inspirational Stories of 2009

December 31st, 2009

Stories that should be heard about people who “win” in life (but unfortunately not in this contest.)

Danielle — a girl who survived hell and with the support of her adopted parents is making a comeback.  Rescued from living in her own feces surrounded by darkness and cockroach carcasses, they say she was truly a feral child.  Read her story, it’s unbelievable. (Submitted by reader Brigid)

Matt Logelin — recent widower and now single father turned blogger who shares his honest feelings without trying to escape them. (submitted by reader Kate)

Jones New York In The Classroom – A charity that supports education by supporting teachers.  I agree with Reader Jess when she points out, “It is teachers that take on the enormous responsibility of shaping our future… guiding our children, our leaders of tomorrow, with little payback.”

Russell Ferguson — So You Think You Can Dance winner who used his passion for dance to rise to the top.  Reader Adrienne says, “It is a reminder of the importance of art, and the importance of inspiring children to push for their dreams and look to art as a positive outlet.”

Dr. Diane Harper — A once supporter now opponent to Gardasil, the vaccine for HPV.  Reader Linda says, “‘No matter what you think about Gardasil, or even Dr. Harper’s stance, what we learn from her experience is far more important: be brave; admit your mistakes; stand up for what you believe in.”

December 9th, 2009 No Comments

In every man there is something wherein I may learn from him, and in that I am his pupil.

Emerson

This quote is applicable in a dozen of different ways, see how it surfaces this week for you.

Just a few to consider:

Despite our age, success, failure, journeys, anything really, we all can learn from each other.  WE ALL BRING SOMETHING TO THE TABLE.

Think about your strengths, but also your weaknesses.

Before you hit the Net for research, use those around you as a resource.

Tweet this!Tweet this!

Eye Contact.

August 19th, 2009 No Comments

Teen Reader: What does it mean when a boy won’t meet your eyes?

Author: It means it is time to look for a boy who will.

[One of my clients had a Q/A session with a popular teen author. This was one of the Q’s and A’s. I love this. ]

August 3rd, 2009 No Comments

This Little Mermaid moment would make for a happy Sunday.

I feel we are lacking purely organic, SIMPLE moments in our lives these days…We are constantly surrounded by “atmosphere” and bombareded  by”circumstances,” when all we really want/need/seek is one very simple thing.

It doesn’t have to be romantic….it can be one thing.  Why do search for so much, when the smallest thing is really all we need to be happy?

(via carolynannahall via julia. – summer)