Life Prepares You for the Journey

Happy New Year!

I realized something over the holidays, life works itself out. What I do at RT Consulting is specialize in marketing plans, which requires me to forecast months and quarters ahead for client goals. When the holidays were “planned”, my role slows down as business carries on. Through the holiday, I realized life prepares you for the journey.

One day I was working in the morning and had a play date with my nephew in the afternoon. The plan was to get work done early, play in the afternoon, his mom (my sister) pick him up, and get more work done. Easy enough.

We went to the playground and I brought a pen and notebook to write my thoughts as I had one eye on him. After a few minutes of writing, I found myself playing “monster” on the playground with him and the other kids. When I got tired, I sat down and soaked in the atmosphere. Another parent got of his phone and he started where I left off. It was a magical experience.

When it was time to leave, my nephew asked me to carry him on my back. He is six and over 40 pounds. Sure he could have walked, but I’m his favorite aunt and I know he is young only a short while. I carried him home a mile away. It wasn’t easy but it made his day.

Life - Journey

Fast forward to today. I was leaving a client’s office when I was asked to take some equipment out of the office for an event. I had to carry it to my car. Guess what? The equipment was actually lighter than my nephew, which made the process easier.

During another client meeting I was asked what my resolutions were for 2015. When I was at the park the day before, I wrote down:

Be present – focus on what is in front of you

Be proactive – step out of your comfort zone and unwind when it is time

Be prayerful – find peace in between the now and not yet

as my focus for the upcoming year. My writing has turned into action and shaped my meeting with campus leader and friend, Sarah Greenwald.

I was prayerful prior to our meeting and definitely present with her in the time we spent together. We shared stories since we last met and it was great. I wasn’t “clock watching” or worried about my next meeting. It was great to be in the moment with her.

What does all this have to do with life and our individual journeys?

Maybe we are supposed to go after what our heart desires until we find peace. Keep searching for what brings value to you and your purpose. Peace brings the assurance that propels our path for what lies ahead. It is the process from searching from within that prepares us for the world. We may not have all the answers or timelines figures out, but what we face today prepares us for the journey for what lies ahead.

 

 

How To Build A “City”: Growing Your Small Business Into A Global Brand On A Not-So-Global Budget

City - Robert FF How To Build A “City” Establishing an effective presence online for your company can be approached as a city planner would map out a schematic for a town’s layout; Needed are a firm infrastructure, reliable communication systems, sturdy connectors, and a populace within it to ensure the various tasks are conducted properly.  Organically growing your business can approached in a similar manner and for  a relatively low cost.  As a business owner or leader, you are both the city planner as well as the mayor and must think and act as such in order to become and remain relevant and effective in your “city” in order to ensure the health of the world at large.  An effective presence locally will be the seed of the ultimate goal:  A successful global presence.

An Oasis in the Desert When Bugsy Siegel envisioned what would eventually become Las Vegas, the world’s gambling Mecca, no one else could see a beautiful city of lights and dancing fountains in the middle of the unrelenting Nevada desert.  Siegel, one of the most notorious gangsters of all time, like Walt Disney after him, clearly saw down to the tiniest detail what he wanted to build.  He fastened an idea in his mind and never deviated from it.  This is what one must do when planting a foothold in your local market for your business.  Even if there are literally dozens or even hundreds more in the same industry, find a gap, regardless of how minute, where you can differentiate yourself and become a resource for your customers.  There are literally hundreds of different soft drinks, dozens of automotive brands, and countless makers of clothing, yet each one is able to compete with others in their field by being unique and giving to their customers something that others cannot.  It sounds simple (and it is, in principle,) but clearly picturing a goal is not only an effective way to reach your goals, but it’s been proven to improve performance of professional athletes and other successful people achieve their ideals.

Building Your “City” Laying the groundwork for any city requires solid infrastructure, which could also be looked at as the skeleton and musculature of a city; it gives the city its shape and provides support and protection for the remainder of its components.  As you would needs roads, an electrical grid and a water supply, your business also needs a firm branding foundation to rest upon that will serve as the bedrock for your brand.  This requires congruency across Social Media platforms, advertising, and any other touchpoint where the public comes into contact with your brand.  This congruency, i.e. maintaining a seamless message and image horizontally across all marketing interfaces.  Congruency is key and this seamless message serves as a primer; a base coat on canvas for you to create what you envision. The “bridges” of your city, the necessary connectors that you need for growth and expansion, are the relationships you’ll build along the way with like-minded individuals and organizations that complement you and your work.  It’s MUCH easier to cross a river by way of a bridge; and it’s equally easier to grow yourself and enhance your work with healthy, challenging business relationships.

About the Author:  Robert Eleazer is the Marketing Coordinator for the Sellin’ With CC Team of Keller Williams Realty Jacksonville and an alum of East Carolina University.

Welcome to the Age of Social Connections #IBMConnect

“Do you have a Twitter account? If you don’t have one — get one, now.”

I heard these words in college and thought my professor was out of her mind. She didn’t continue her lecture on Digital Essentials until we all did. May it encourage you to join the adventure I have fallen in love with… the power of social connections through social media.

In a world that is moving forward rapidly, how do we stay connected? Most of us use social media to promote our business or keep in touch with others. How about finding new friends, adventures, clients, or a combination of all the above? That’s the power of social connecting–you are putting yourself out there to connect. You connect with what you want to explore. The power is yours.

My adventure on Twitter helped me find other marketers talking about the latest social media business tools through following the hashtag #IBMConnect. (What’s a hashtag? What does it mean? Read my post on them here.) I followed the excitement and ended up reading tweets that were inspiring. I even found the link to the LiveStream to the Orlando, Florida conference on Twitter.

How are you using social media? What adventures are you embracing through social connections?

Love Begins With Loving Yourself

Love Begins With Loving Yourself

For as long as I could remember, it seemed everyone around me had someone special in their life. All the while, I held on to what has kept me strong–my faith. I felt that my heart was ready to love someone, but felt like there was a hedge of protection on me that was saving me for what was coming. (How do I know this?) I could feel rather quickly by being around someone if we were going to hit off or not. Most of the time, I didn’t feel that spark everyone talks about.

When I gave up on searching for my special someone, I asked God to show me His love for me. I knew He was present in my life, but I wanted to SEE and FEEL the love He had for me. I wanted my heart to feel the warmth of affection and flutter of endless joy.

In return, I have seen hearts that have brought me to absolute tears knowing they were divine tokens from above. You can call me crazy, but I know this was an answered prayer. In addition to finding hearts in nature, my heart became soft for others. My empathy increased as I did what I could to turn other people’s sadness or emptiness into a newfound joy I had found. Sometimes I like to think I made someone’s day with a simple smile or few words of encouragement.

Love isn’t something you give to another without having it overflow into your own life. Love begins with loving yourself. Look from within yourself and learn to love yourself completely. Be nice to who you are and watch who you become.

If you are empty on the inside and rush to the world to fill you, you will always be searching for a refill. Trust me, when you can accept your own flaws and habits then you can start to share your love with another.

Be Thankful

When was the last time you sat down and wrote a letter? Thank you card? Mailed out a birthday card? Now, how many? If you had to think about this longer than a minute or two, then you should consider sending out cards more often.

With the technology* we have today, everything is done instantly. That is great for productivity and work, but not so great when it comes to building relationships. If you have read my relationship networking etiquette posts, this post like those help you create and nurture relationships within your network. The single-most effective way that has kept me close to the people in my network is by simply being thankful.

People enjoy the feeling they are appreciated, right? If I could meet for lunch and tell someone I value them I would. We know that our schedules do not always work with us, so why not express my gratitude in a card?

On Twitter, I won a drawing for a free book. When it came in the mail, it felt good to have something tangible in my hand instead of an e-version. The gesture to send a thank you card was easy and so worth the 10 minutes to do it!

After an initial meeting with a potential client, I always send a thank you card. Spending time with someone for an hour discussing how RT Consulting can increase their business is always worth sending a card.

Thank You!  |  Source credit: Rifle Paper Co. Booth 3124

When someone has responded to my e-mail, I thank them.

When someone has shared advice or encouraged me, I thank them.

When someone you know gets a new job or promotion, congratulate them.

Sometimes there doesn’t have to be a specific reason to send a card, but send one anyway.

Now it is your turn to tell your own network and relationships how thankful you are for them. Trust me, your gesture will not return void.

*For the technology driven, here are some apps for your smartphone to help send cards.

The Wonderful, Awkward Truth of Online Networking

With a college degree behind me, letters after my name, and a killer resume I was certain I would find a job sooner than later. Unfortunately, it is much harder than it used to be. The economy this, the economy that… it has become “who you know” in a dog eat dog world.

I have had the privilege of meeting great people through the steps I took in practicing networking, which I would recommend to anyone to start now and stick to it! What I failed to mention in my blogging about my experiences in networking is that there are boundaries that come with differentiating people as friends and as contacts.

The hard lesson I learned is a contact can become a friend, but a contact is not always your friend. Please let me elaborate. Most of the contacts I have met have been through networking events, mutual friends or other contacts, jobs, or internships. The key word is met.

For a contact I find on LinkedIn or Twitter, I am communicating with them but have not met them yet. If the communication leads to a meeting, then the connection can evolve. If a meeting does not happen, then do not force it. If I have met him or her already, the communication has a familiar setting.

There is no right or wrong way to network with someone and genuinely want to stay in communication with him or her. The friendships will form naturally, while contacts are there to promote you in support of what you are going for in life. It would be awesome if your friend was in your contact list and was supporting you in your career choices as well, but this does not always happen. We are all human with similar thoughts and feelings. Do not take the boundaries to heart or allow them to get you discouraged. Some contacts are as friendly and eager to help you as you are to them. In the end, some people just might surprise in a positive way.

Signs to tell if Your Contact is Just a Contact:
• He or she is not a friend on Facebook.
• You only know him or her on social networking sites (LinkedIn, Twitter, Triberr, Pinterest, etc.)
• You have sent a thank you card to them for helping you out. (e.g. referring you, job lead, advice, etc.)
• You have asked if he or she can introduce you to another contact within the same job or field (if you know he or she already knows the contact).
• Contact mentions the communication between you and him or her has crossed the line or has become inappropriate.
• Contact does not respond to your e-mails, phone calls, or letters. Ever.
• Contact responds to you and asks you to refrain from communicating with them again.
• Contact repeatedly asks how you know him or her.

Signs Your Contact can become a Friend:
• You want or have added him or her as a friend on Facebook.
• You want to call him or her and invite them to lunch to catch up.
• You schedule time to catch up over the phone if lunch is impossible.
• You update him or her on your interests or changes in direction you are taking.
• Contact is receptive to your communication efforts.
• Contact asks specifics how the last update you gave is progressing.
• Contact accepts your friend request on Facebook, follows you on Instagram, follows you on Twitter, recommends on you on LinkedIn.
• Contact encourages you with your concerns and experiences.

What are some ways you have differentiated a contact from a friend? Or have evolved a contact into a friendship?

This is a foray into some honest discussion about stuff we’ve all encountered in the age of online networking. If you haven’t encountered any of this, you’re either a master of digital socialism or not trying hard enough.

This article was originally crafted and published in May on the Ad Buzz.

Give IT a try

Everyday, I ask myself:  Am I purpose driven or money driven? I know money is momentary, while my purpose fuels my soul. I grow weary of not making a difference in the world around me. I know I am only one person, but I feel called to live in such a way I know will leave a lasting impact on someone. Instead of letting fear hold me back, I will start listening to my heart.

What is my heart telling me to do?  Give IT a try.

What is IT? The next season of my life, it is:

  • Growing my business and helping others succeed in theirs. Is it scary? Being an entrepreneur most definitely is, but it is the most rewarding job I have ever had.
  • Nurture relationships that are fueling my life instead of letting other things weigh me down. Living in a well-connected world often leaves me lonely and with a desire to connect on a personal level even more. I will set aside time to catch up and reconnect.
  • Trusting in my faith more than my ability. When I start to think too much, I start to doubt myself. When I trust from within more, I get the revelation I can do anything through Him who strengthens me.

What is your heart telling you to do? Make an effort to listen to act upon it.

Putting Others First and Myself Second Brings Success

Source credit:  http://pinterest.com/pin/68750331781638952/

The Best is Yet To Come | Source Credit: http://pinterest.com/rcarman76/

 

After graduating college, I did not want to become statistic of not being able to use my degree in the “real world.” With the current company I am in, I applied for advanced positions and corporate jobs to prove I was interested in growing with the company. I started this process before, during, and after graduation. Did I stop there? No. I continued looking at ways I could use the skill-set school had ingrained in me with a passion to succeed.

That is what has set me a part. I did not take any job rejection personal, it motivated me to keep looking for what was next. I used the power of the Internet to connect with people on social media (mainly Twitter) who had similar interests and careers as my aspirations and built a relationship with them. Only after a few exchanged tweets, we exchanged e-mails and connected on LinkedIn. Through this process, I had the privilege to hear their life story and experiences that put them where they are now.

I listened. I did not talk about me until I was asked. I know this might sound strange, but my selfless attitude with a desire to know more about them opened the door for knowledge. The stories each person has told me has allowed me to respect them even more. In return, I was asked what my life story was at this stage in my life.

My life story…what was there to say? I am graduate who wants to succeed in life with a degree behind me. My passion is to help others find themselves while I find what is out there for me. Though my raw honesty, my connections started encouraging me to find this path and contact them along the way.

Less than a year later, I still working at my current job for over 7.5 years and started a consulting business. I am using my degree to help with advertising and community building. The connections I had found online and know in person as strong as I have made them by making time for what’s important:  the relationship with them and my ambition second. By putting others first and myself second, I have humbled myself to know I have found success. The success I have found cannot be measured in money or any monetary value, but in the richness of knowing I am still finding my path and have a support system that is close by. The best is yet to come.

Walk as Jesus [did] Walked.

1 John 2: 3-8 (NIV)

3 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love[b] is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

——————————–

After writing my last entry, I called four people and got to talk to two of them. (50% improvement since last time.) I was “confronted with grace” by John when he reminded me to keep walking as Jesus did. It was never promised to us that it would be easy, but our promise was that He would never leave or forsake us. When I was writing my last entry, I was hurt and did not want to admit I was hurt by those who mean a lot to me. I’d rather brush it off and start over, but I’ll never have peace with them or myself if I continue to ignore it. I am sticking to my word and limiting my social media time because I desire relationships with people and not his or her wall or page. This means I have to keep putting myself “out there” in social settings to meet new people or see the faces of those I have been hurt by. I am praying for God to give me an opportunity to “confront them with grace” and apologize to clear the air. I’ve been distancing myself because that’s what I’m comfortable doing.

I realized that it’s not all “their” fault, it’s mine too. I admit it here and am sorry if I sound full of myself when I say this, but:  About 2 years ago, I was looking for a deeper relationship with God first and didn’t open up to relationships with people until I was “right” with God. Now that God has been the steady variable in my life, he is asking me to move forward with him and into the lives of others (something I’m uncomfortable with). I don’t even know if people know this about me, but I’m a wallflower. I know a connection with someone doesn’t happen over night or after a first meeting, but I need to trust God will introduce or reunite me with a certain set of people to get my relationships back in check.

I am going to a Young Professionals meeting this Tuesday and am looking forward to a great message and am praying God opens opportunities for me to be social with ease. John encouraged me to trust God is going to bring a good message AND good people in my life. Before, I would trust in the first and ignore the later part. I’m trying to move forward and trust God more as I know this is what he wants for my life/season right now. As the scripture says, if I am not letting God shine through me by staying closed in, then I am not walking with God for my light to shine.

I don’t even know if all this makes sense as I think I’m talking in circles, but I feel better. I need peace to move forward. I found this quote by Marianne Williamson:

Our deepest fear is not that we’re inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond all measure. Is it our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.

It was posted in a Real Simple article I kept from 2007! Gail Blanke talks about how we “give away the power God has given us from time to time. It’s not because we are weark or because our courage fails us; it’s because we don’t know how strong we really are. Even if we get a glimmer of our true grit, we back off.” That makes sense to me in ALL this “mess” I’ve dealt with. When I was the room leader this past Campus Harvest, I felt truly blessed to room with three girls who were seeking God and trusting in me for guidance to walk with them side by side. I didn’t feel “motherly” or anything negative I’ve felt in the past, but a genuine friend. After I was in the place to create a connection, I felt at ease… it’s the getting to the place of creating relationships is what is most scary for me. Blanke continued to share “4 steps to embrace your power”

  1. Don’t disqualify yourself from the race before it even begins. Doubting yourself is no way to get things done.
  2. Make a list of your “wins”: the times you made the catch, made the call, or made the day. Revel in your wins every time you face a new challenge.
  3. Abandon the list of your “losses.” No great trapeze artist ever walks into the big top thinking about the times she fell. Don’t you do it, either.
  4. When the opportunity presents itself, take it. When the opening occurs, step forward. When the envelope arrives, open it.

Oh, this is definitely a God thing because this paper has been sitting on my desk for weeks and I have been debating to throw it away or reread it. I glanced over in the middle of this entry and realized it’s the icing on the cake. It’s what I need to regain my power that God has given me. I am his child who wants more out of life, but is afraid of what’s out there. (Who isn’t?) If you’re reading this, thank you for baring with me. May this encourage me and maybe you, but it’s all for His glory I am here to share this with you.

An empty promise

is still an empty promise. We don’t mean to hurt people by them because we say them to keep us safe from committing to something we may or may not be able to commit to. We know the other person will understand and sometime in the future, it’ll happen we’re sure of it. What if empty promises stay an empty promise that never turns into what it should have been in the first place…a promise? This is when the memory of the empty promise being made burns away at the heart of someone who truly misses the value of what it used to be.

Call me sensitive or a softy, but regardless I cannot take anymore empty promises that I make to myself or others. I cannot comprehend how others can throw them out as if they have no repercussions. In this life all we have is our word and when that goes to crap, what else is there? A friend, Jason Woodard had a friend Mike who posted:

“To be the best and grow you must surround yourself with others who care, bring a high level of passion and are of a quality to bring out the best in you. Too many people around me that don’t match that criteria. Time to better my team!!!”

I read this and couldn’t agree more. I might have a lot of people who share the same interests as me, but that’s where it stops. I am not the most social-able person who is the “life of the party,” so you can call me a wallflower, but know my heart is sincere when I write this:  I need more friends that have my back. I wish I had the courage to smile and pretend I am ok with us not seeing each other regularly or catching up for a phone call, but I would not be true to myself. I am hurt and don’t want to be bitter about it anymore.

My faith encourages me to encourage and love others, but I am drawing a line where it goes into the void and how it can be used for a greater purpose. I think I need a break from social media. I am on facebook and instead of hearing about people’s lives, I am reading about it and often feel sad I cannot be there during the happy/good times. I know it’s the way to “stay connected,” but I feel far from it.