Monday, January 30, 2012

There are Have's and Have-Nots

I am learning that I had an expectation for my life. I expected that if I worked hard, I could make a decent living. I expected that success was available to every person that would put action to their dreams. I refused to believe what my mom believed and told me often, “There are Haves and Have-Nots. We are Have-Nots.” I have worked hard and have a strong life and work ethic, yet my qualifications and experience for a job I could truly rock are only considered after I note that I have a college degree. I do not have a college degree. Success is not about hard work, it is about the defined work. Dreams do not come true for those who take action, dreams come true for those who have access to decision makers, people who may or may not be honestly qualified to make the call but they know my -fill in the blank. In forty-five years of life experience I question my mother’s belief and wonder about the possible validity of it.

This is an excerpt from an English paper I wrote about being lost. I don't want to be all about gloom and doom, the Eyeore if you will, but at the same time, part of the growth process is recognizing what's working and what's not. On my journey looking at deep seated beliefs is proving helpful. Do you know what you believe and why? Questioning why you believe something is good to do, you just might find it was never really your belief to begin with.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Trouble With The Truth

I am thinking about my new years resolution to get honest and frankly, I'm stalled. I'm finding that I get stuck in what feels like a spider web sticking to me from all sides. What will he/she think? Say? What will the reaction be? Will my truth be seen as more or less serious than I see it? Will a duologue be had or will judgment be cast? If judgment is cast, what will that mean? Will I lose my power if I'm perceived as weak or broken? All of this is plain and simple fear, but at what point is fear healthy and sane? It's easy to advise someone else that no matter what the fallout might be, that honesty is the best policy. Would you tell your boss you had a prescription drug addiction?

The trouble with the truth is it can be dangerous. This all goes back to what I said at the beginning of the year about public persona versus what's real. Is it better to simply deal with what is real and do what you can to make right what is wrong - getting really honest personally? Seeking help and confiding in trusted sources may be better than opening Pandora's box for the world to see. From my perspective, once the world sees it, each person is forced to do something with it...from simply dismissing the knowledge (who cares?) to being rocked with fear not knowing what will happen next (something ones young children might feel). I suppose it all depends on what needs confronting and only the individual person can decide what the right thing to do is. I'm feeling that getting honest is a good thing, but doing it in a responsible way is equally important. Addressing issues with only the people who need to be involved and working to feel less fear and shame is really the goal anyone who wants to come clean is looking for, don't you think? I really do want to know what you think of this topic.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Big Business Say, Yes! to Small Business

No one will agrue that America today is not the same place that it was when our grandparents and parents were living and doing business. In many ways it's a better time, but for small business, it's not working.

Big business (sorry, I can't help myself), the 1%, needs to throw a lifeline out to small business. Say Yes! to Small Business. Large retail chains need to take all the fees and rhetoric out of the process of evaluting the products of small businesses. Allow the products that are "retail ready" with distribution in place to share some shelf space with the name brands. If our products don't sell, don't reorder! We are not asking for charity, just a fair shake and a fighting chance to succeed, to live the American dream.

Did you know that some retail chains place large orders, require costly specific packaging, charge for shelf space and in some cases are doing a "Pay by Scan" practice? Yes, after you provide them with huge quantities of inventory - packaged specifically for them (cha-ching!), they are paying you as they sell it. Yep, consignment with a national chain - thousands of stores. What mom & pop in American can do that? Not me.

A campaign like Say Yes! to Small Business could not only boost our economy by putting money into small businesses, but also creating jobs, maybe one at a time, but that is one more American working than there was yesterday. Big business would be wise to let their consumers know that they are supporting the mom and pop businesses with some signage highlighting the products. Give real feedback to the small business so if their product is not as marketable as they thought, they can improve or cut their losses. Work together, sadly, it's a novel idea today.

This idea has more potential than I can even conceive. Will Big businesses like Target, WalMart, REI, Sharper Image, Dick's and others even consider such a thing? Or will they continue to allocate the bulk of their buying dollars to the big brands? Big business/Big brands...they stick togther.

Friday, January 6, 2012

What About Reality Television?

Reality television is another bunch of nonsense, not only in the world of entrepreneurs but also the true art and craft of acting. It's fine for Americans to find entertainment in watching other people live their lives with shock and awe, but are they really role model celebrities who deserve massive amounts of money, book deals, and more? Will my product really make me millions if Daymond John or Kevin Herrington pick us up and open doors? Maybe, but again, why do I need to rely on this avenue to succeed? Back to reality television, Shark Tank wouldn't cast me (along with a myriad of other really hard working individuals with great products) because I am not wacky enough and my product isn't bizarre. Hello? People need everyday products! It's also important to note that I personally know several people who have been featured on reality television shows with their products and guess what? They are not millionaires, nor are they really much further along than they were before appearing on the show.*

Is it possible that hard work, a great product, and doing good business is simply not enough in America? Is luck and who you know more important? If I'm getting honest, the answer is sadly a resounding, Yes!

*There certainly may be people who have succeeded wildly with the help of angel investors who give capital and exposure to their products, I just don't know any of those people.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Is Hard Work and a Great Product Enough?

Whatever happened to, if you work hard, you will succeed? We all know it takes more than hard work to find real success, and in many cases you have to pay to have an opportunity. Oh, I can hear you now, "It takes money to make money!" Sure, and I've spent lots of it on: education, supplies, operating expenses, materials, inventory, samples, marketing, trade shows, and more. Oh, add to that list that I have a great product at a fair price.

I have and continue to work hard but I am nowhere near close to breaking even, heck, even dreaming of success. Here's my point as it pertains specifically to mom & pop invented products, why do we have to rely on contests (most aren't free) and reality television (more in my next post) for a shot at success? Why do product awards cost money to apply for? If I don't have the money to have my product evaluated, I'm not in the running for "Mom Approved!"? Some of the applications for these seals of approval and other awards cost thousands of dollars - all with no guarantee you will get the illustrious seal.

Heck, I know my product is mom approved, just look at the e-mails from moms sharing that for the first time ever, they did not struggle with ill-fitting gloves and even better, "My son can put them on himself!" Is my brand/product more valuable when I have purchased the seals and marks of others? And who are the people "approving" these products?

I don't know if it would make a difference because I don't have one. I am not willing to pay for the chance for someone to tell me my product is worthwhile and good when I have moms, dads, grandmas, and grandpas buying the gloves and writing me hand written notes and e-mails telling me how much they like them. That is a real Seal of Approval!

Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year...A New Blog

A new year may be just another day to some, but for me it feels different - this year it's especially so. Usually, I feel excited and inspired but this year it seems like there was no ramping up of positive energy. I've been out of sync the last few months and initially I wasn't sure why, I felt absolutely no inspiration to write but it wasn't that I didn't know what to write about (as in traditional writer's block), it was more that I didn't feel like what I had to say mattered. In a world of millions of bloggers, who really reads what I have to say and frankly, do they care?

There are many reasons to speculate why I may have been down in the dumps (as my mom would say), but I feel that I'm in a time of growth and maturation in my life and I am recognizing some realities that maybe a younger me couldn't see before. Most notably, I am finding that so much of what I see around me is not what it appears to be. People are not who they say they are and until I spend time with them to see who they are, I can't take their words at face value. It is incredibly foreign to me to move through my day in a space of speculation or distrust, but I also feel incredibly gullible when I jump in trusting all the way and then see the truth. Things are sold with all the promises of what the bells and whistles will do to make our lives easier, when in fact; our lives are easier with less stuff. It makes me think back to being a kid, the commercials on television would demonstrate all the cool things the toy-du jour will do and then when you get it home, it performed nothing like the commercial promised. Should I have paid better attention to this when I was eight?

Here's what I know for sure, my family is healthy and happy (well, relatively speaking!), I love being in school and I'm looking forward to developing my skills as an artist and photographer. My new year’s resolution is to get honest on all fronts, really honest. Dave and I are working together on our family finances with an emphasis on saving and I'm digging deep into why we (our society) believe things need to look like something other than what they are. I understand "image" and "perception" and how they play into getting people to do and be who we want (okay, manipulation), but wouldn't we all be better served if we just told the truth and worked together to lift each other up? Call me crazy, but it seems to me it doesn't make sense to sell an image that is far more than what it really is and have people putting their faith and hard earned dollars into something that is a lie, a foundation of quicksand. When can you really believe what you see?
This year I am writing about my journey to get honest on all fronts of my life. It may come back to bite me at some point, but I'm putting my money on that the truth will set me free. Intentional Winning is victory by design. Creating the journey and the outcome for every aspect of my life by participating in the process...honestly.