Saturday, June 30, 2012


My office is a pit. Half of it is on my dining room table because I haven't brought my kit back in and put it away. The dish-on-legs-thing where I keep my keys and stuff has clothes in it. My desk... well, see for yourself...
Actually, this isn't far from what it normally looks like...

Now, I'm not, by nature, a terribly tidy person (clean, yes; tidy, no). I believe that if your desk is clean well, so is your calendar (and I don't do booking calls from my desk because my house is some kind of weird lead box with no cell-phone reception and we live in a post-land-line narrative). 

The reason my housekeeping skills have slacked so greatly in the last couple of days is because I have been eating, sleeping, and breathing my business since about Tuesday at 7:30pm. I keep asking myself "what more can I do?" And it turns out, cleaning my office does not fall into that category of doing more. I have accumulated more banana stickers in the last 5 days than I had all month, and I'm on the edge of meeting 3 of my 5 A-level goals for June, having busted through the lower-level markers for all 5 goals. 

A mentor of mine taught recently that we have to let go of the activities that don't pay us (like cleaning our offices, we need to have people for that), just because we think it's normal to do those things ourselves. And yeah, maybe it is normal, but it's also "normal" to work for someone else, to have a third party who tells you when it's time to work and when it's time to pee, and when it's time to eat, and that you need to clean your damn desk (of course, in those circumstances there's also a janitorial service that empties your trash bin at least once a week...). 

Tony Robbins told me "you gotta be a little weird to be successful". Julius Henderson told me "look at what everyone else is doing and then RUN THE OTHER WAY", and of course, my very wonderful director, Stephanie Richter says "run from easy". I would trade places with any of these people any day of the week. They have the experience, the scars, and the income that shows that their advice is worth following, and so I look at my messy office and say, "yep, messy LIKE A BOSS."

Friday, June 22, 2012

Doing Something Different Part 6

Believing When No One Else Does

Everyone struggles with this. Even Lady Gaga struggles with it (there's a scene in a documentary about her where she talks about having to get up every morning and remind herself she a "fucking superstar"). There isn't a person alive who doesn't have moments of doubt; but there are a lot of people who do a lot of extra ritual that is designed to push that doubt out of their heads. 

Yesterday I talked about vision, and that's a method used to push the doubt out. Other methods include prayer, meditation, affirmations, dancing to exciting music, and keeping a positive attitude. We think that performing these rituals will make us stop doubting ourselves, but the reality is not that we doubt ourselves or our individual purposes: we doubt that we believe in ourselves. 

What are you holding onto by doubting? What story are you telling yourself that reveals that it's okay to say that you don't believe in yourself? What benefit do you get from that behavior? 

You tell yourself that it's okay not to put in the effort because you don't really believe in yourself. That's what. You save energy, sweat, tears, pain, by saying that you don't believe. Take a moment and let this harsh reality set in: by telling yourself that you don't believe, you tell yourself it's okay not to put in the effort, it's okay to give up. 

What happens when you do believe? You go out on a limb for your belief. You tell everyone about it. You scream it from the mountain tops of your world that you have this vision and no one's going to stop you. But that kind of behavior is abnormal. Out of the ordinary. It's socially unacceptable to be a zealot for your own cause, especially if that cause is your own success; especially if you're a woman. Zeal is socially earmarked for the hyper-religious, not some girl with a makeup kit who thinks that her job is the best job in the world. Who the hell do you think you are?

This is what my [future National] Sales Director would tell me: you are a child of The King. That means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but the bottom line is, you come from divinity. Who are you NOT TO believe? Your roots are in the sky, baby, because you come from g-d. Quit fighting it, quit refusing to believe it. Who cares what other people say, your belief in yourself makes them uncomfortable so they're going to try to shut you down in order to feel better about themselves.

And of course, when that happens, (and it will), you will refuse to be torn down, and you will tell them that you know there are a dozen other ways they could feel good about themselves than trying to tear you down. Give them an example or don't, but you have to demonstrate to yourself and to the world that you're no longer willing to give in to the doubt. Believe that you believe. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Doing Something Different Part 5

The Power of Affirmations

I have the privilege of discovering at a very young age that I have power over my surroundings. Part of this is the woo-woo spiritualism that I grew up with, and part of it is just simply practical experience. I always got what I wanted when I was younger, and not because I was spoiled (although some might make that accusation), but because I figured out how to make it real. Now, some things didn't become real until a decade later, but looking back I can tell you that the way I imagined my life would be at 27 is remarkably similar to how things actually turned out. (A few minor differences: the man I thought I'd be married to is dead, we don't live in a castle on the Peninsula, and I don't own a tattoo shoppe. The basic premise is the same: happily partnered, have a really great life, and own my own business.)

Now, I know some people will say "those two things have nothing in common! you're just using post-diction to prove your predictive ability!" I wouldn't go so far as to accuse myself of post-diction, but what I will say is that I decided at 17 that I would find "The One" within a decade, and set about making it happen, by getting over enough of my baggage that I could be recognizable to the person who now holds the code name Schmoogie.

Another instance of this was getting through art school. First I had to get in, so I visualized myself in that place, and set about making it happen. I also completed art school using that very same technique, and I'm pretty convinced that when I look back in 13 years as a National Sales Director (although, I really don't want to take that long to get there...), I'll find my life to be remarkably how I imagined it would be. And so all that time I spent in my little fantasy world as a teenager ended up working to my benefit, not only with the immediate escape it provided from my circumstances, but by giving me a vision of a better life that I could achieve.

The biggest tool that I use in this is, as you might have guessed by now: vision. What's it like? What's my world like? Where am I? What am I wearing? (I actually now own a dress I fantasized about when I was 14.) What am I doing? How do I feel? Now, act as if...

Some of this writing is me chronicling my journey, some of it is me writing trainings that I'll give when I'm a director and beyond. I imagine that I am talking to the people who will see me as their leader, and try to make it real for them aswell, even though by and large we don't really know each other yet. 

Anyway, the best affirmation I can offer is to see yourself where you want to be so vividly that you're able to reverse-engineer it, so to speak. If that's not your style, I'm sure there will be something else that is and works just as well to get you where you need to be.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Do Something Different Part 4

Replace Habits with Discipline

I sometimes get a little snarky and say that America learned all the wrong lessons from WW2, namely "work will make you free", and get scowled at by my Polish-immigrant boyfriend (he's legal, it's cool), who spent his formative years driving distance from the place that had that sign hanging on its front gate. Of course, those of you who know me at all got hung up on the first 5 words of this sentence and need a moment for the rest of it to set in.

There we go. All together now? The fact of the matter, however, is not that we learned the wrong lesson, but rather that this sign was a bastardization of a truth (a policy which enabled Voldehitler to become so powerful in Europe in the first place), and that truth is that discipline will bring you freedom. It's not just the work part that's important, it's the discipline.

Here's what I mean. Below is the morning routine of someone who is working from habit:
8am: get up, get dressed, eat coffee, drink donut, arrive at work/desk
9am: pick nose for an hour and drink more coffee
10am: check email, Facebook, twitter
11am: start trying to do something productive
12n: lunch! hooray! 

I know I am guilty of some of this too, so don't feel like I'm trying to tell you how much better I am at working from discipline rather than habit; but let's take a look at the morning ritual of someone who's working from discipline:

8am: get up, get dressed, eat a good breakfast
9am: sit down at desk and figure out action plan for the day
10am: begin with item 1 on action plan, continue in this vein until it's time to take a break
12n: lunch! hooray!

This goes back to the segment on planning your work (which was really more of a time-management lecture, cuz I'm good at that), but the main difference between these two days is that on the first day, we'll call it Monday, I'm on auto-pilot and I don't really want to be productive, but on the second day, we'll call that Wednesday, I'm working with purpose because I've been nag-couraged by someone who loves me and wants me to succeed.

A lot of being self-employed is dealing with this vacuum left by not having someone hovering over your shoulder telling you what to do all day. You know what needs to happen, and when you decide to be disciplined about your work, you do it, but it's also really easy to pick your nose, drink coffee, and surf Facebook for two hours before actually doing anything. The other thing is setting your own hours and deciding that right now is blogging time, and not working time, working time will come later. Of course, that requires follow-up and getting some stuff done during your working time that is supposed to happen later.

You don't have to be perfect at this, (which is good, because you never will be - speaking as much to myself as anyone else), but you do have to practice on a daily basis. Have your morning routine, have your getting-ready routine (including music that makes you excited to start your day), but also make sure that part of whatever you end up doing before starting your day in earnest involves taking a look at your action plan. Being self-employed means that you are entirely self-directed in what gets done during your day, and that means you can't just float through the day doing whatever: you need a plan.

What's important to remember here, is that if you don't take the time to discipline yourself, someone else is going to do it. And if you're like me, you'd rather cut off your arms and legs with a chainsaw than ever work for anyone else ever again. So, get crackin'.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hardwired for Struggle...

Lately I've been hearing a lot about a study that came out about how students who are left to struggle with a math or science problem will end up being better at math and science because they learned how to get the answer, rather than someone telling them how to get the answer. This reminded me of Brene Brown's TED talk a few years ago called The Power of Vulnerability. In it she discusses how we are born "hardwired for struggle" and "worthy of love and belonging".

Now, maybe being worthy of love and belonging isn't going to affect a person's ability to FIO when set a math problem or puzzle, or sciencey-something, but I think the fact that we don't grow up learning this from the start does have an effect on our willingness to wait it out and struggle for the answer; do the work to get the result. It's like that episode of The Simpsons where everyone (even Ralph) understands a visual puzzle before Lisa, and she goes through what amounts to an epic identity crisis for an 8-year-old (including a dream where she grows up and rents movies from "the libarry" for her brood of children). For some reason, a lot of us think that getting the wrong answer makes us less worthy as human beings. It's endemic in our culture and our education system, and I don't know anyone who doesn't struggle with feeling worthy of love and belonging.

Dealing with this struggle wrongly, however, is at the root of a lot of our problems as a culture. Let's start with the fact that our education system lags significantly behind the rest of the developed world when it comes to math and science. Struggle = bad. Being left to FIO = bad. We have to teach kids how to write a perfect paragraph, and take a stupid test, rather than teaching them skills like critical thinking, how language works, and why science is cool (and at least we have the Mythbusters for that last one, but it's still not sufficient). Curiosity is devalued, while absolute expertise is exalted. Consequently, not being an absolute expert in a given area prompts us to give up on that area. Not having immediate and significant success in any given arena, whether it's a high school math class or being a business owner, means "I suck at this forever, might as well give up."

Lately, I've been struggling through some self-sabotage (actually, that an impulse control are two big challenges for me). Namely, when I start seeing some really good success from something, I stop doing that thing. It's weird. I believe in this business. I believe that it can and does work, and I really really really want to be one of those people for whom a Mary Kay business delivers significant successes. So why do I get trapped in "I suck at this forever, might as well give up" mode? Because I have WAY more practice at that way of thinking. And while it is as simple as changing my behavior from one of habit (quitting) to one of discipline (working anyway, even though I don't feel like it or whatever excuse I made up that day), it's not a very easy task.

But we're hardwired for struggle. My challenges are going to be stories to help others overcome their challenges, just like yours will. We exist to connect with one another. Similarly, the challenges, horrors, heartaches, and disappointments we experience while attempting and failing at making those connections and solving those problems have a purpose. Not having to deal with self-sabotage precludes me from being able to teach someone else how to deal with it. Knowing this doesn't make me get over the fact that I am unintentionally doing things that impede my success, but it does make the struggle worthwhile.

Strength is not a trait a person is born with. You're not born strong. You're born imperfect, weak, and helpless. Through struggle, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, we gain strength. Not having a certain strength doesn't mean that you never will, it means you need more practice. I heard someone say once "if you are always the smartest person in the room, you need to be in a different room."

Struggle is not the same as failure. Acknowledging that something is difficult for you is not declaring "I suck forever, might as well quit". If a baby-anything refuses to struggle, it dies. That goes equally for baby birds, and burgeoning business owners.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Doing Something Different Part 3

PLAN YOUR WORK, WORK YOUR PLAN - I really don't think I need to go too much into depth on this step. The thing is, you can't just wish yourself into success, you have to act. A lot of my problem over the last couple years is that I thought that I could just wish myself there... wherever "there" was supposed to be. Turns out you can't do that, you have to act. 

Start with a goal (or as Stephen Covey taught "begin with the end in mind"), and a time frame (I'll write a post about goal-setting too), and then break that goal down until it's in daily chunks. For instance: if I want to make 100 new contacts in 100 days, I need to talk to at least one person everyday. That brings us to the Daily Action Plan. I use a form similar to this journal every*. Single. Freakin. Day. In it, I write down my 6 Most Important Things (6MIT), my appointments, occasionally a reminder to eat lunch, and track the Income Producing Activities (IPAs - so when you hear me talking about that, I don't mean beer**), new contacts, and whatever notes or reminders. It's a great system and I highly recommend it if you're having trouble creating or sticking to a daily action plan.

(*Unless I'm sick or on vacation.)

The Daily Action Plan is for daily time management, but you also need an organized bigger picture. My calendar has spaces highlighted according to the priorities Mary Kay herself taught: faith first, family second, and career third (but not 33rd...); I have spaces highlighted according to the following system and it works for me, your mileage may vary.

G-D: this time is private and set; I don't work on Friday nights with very rare exceptions, and only work a maximum of 2 Saturdays in a month

Health: this is a sub-category of the G-D time because sometimes I need to remind myself of the sacred duty of taking care of my instrument (including setting reminders to have lunch... and sometimes other meals)

Family/Social: we're a single-car family, so I need to sync my schedule with my Schmoogie, and also spend time with him or go do stupid things with my friends

Career: this takes up the bulk of my time, as do the careers of most people I know, but it's also the most flexible. I have a system set up for this too, but you don't really need to know about it. 

Admin stuff/busy work: only stuff that can't be delegated goes into this time. YOU MUST DELEGATE THINGS YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO DO. I think that's a huge sticking point for women when it comes to time management. We think we're supposed to do everything because that's what we're used to, turns out the dishes get just as clean when your husfriend does them; the goodie bags actually look nicer when your assistant assembles them.

So, wrapping it up... There are a lot of strategies for growing your business, but the one thing all of the successful ones have in common is action. A lot of people can go through a job working for someone else without really learning how to manage their time, and there are even some people who can be very successful in business (in the short term) without having a daily action plan, or having any idea what's going on from one day to the next. However, if you want to sustain your successes you really want to at least think about having a longer term plan than just 8am-12n, and 1pm-5pm. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Doing Something Different Part 2

BE GOOD TO YOUR BODY - I think we get really bogged down about our bodies. The fact of the matter is, not a one of us is our body. We aren't even our brains or minds. Your brain is part of your body, your mind is inside your brain, and also a part of your body. I may have lost a few of you by now, but recognizing and owning the fact that you are the consciousness asking the question, rather than the meat sack that is answering it, makes this whole body-taking-care-of thing a lot easier. It's like taking care of a pet. A needy, whiny, lustful, sometimes annoying pet. And you know, when a beloved pet is not doing well it's really hard to get anything done.

Whatever size you are, accept it. Wear clothes that fit it, have a style that looks good on your body, and don't obsess over trying to change the size or shape of your body. That's step number 1. Steps 2 and 3 aren't about changing your size and being thinner and thinking that thin=happy/healthy/attractive, but rather about functionality. 

Accepting my body's size does not mean that I eat whatever I want and don't give a shit about exercise. Accepting my size means that I eat for a healthy mind and productive lifestyle and exercise to make sure my brain is getting enough blood to make everything work; rather than being entirely focused on, as Margaret Cho has said "trying to fence in my body".

For me, my ideal diet limits sugar and other simple carbohydrates (grains, potatoes, etc), maximizes vegetables, and gluten is completely eliminated in any and all forms, but especially those forms which contain sugar. That's not about losing weight (but it would be a nice side effect up to a certain point), it's about my health. Gluten kills me; sugar is an addictive substance that I need to stay away from; vegetables are good for me and need to be in everything. Meanwhile, exercise increases blood flow to my entire body, limiting the damage done by whatever sticky-wickets are involved in fibromyalgia (or accidental wheat exposure), AND makes me smarter by increasing blood-flow to my brain.

Your ideal care plan is going to be different, but I would highly recommend doing some reading of actual books (not blogs). Lights Out! by T.S. Wiley is a good place to start learning about how evil sugar really is; I've also heard good things about this book, although I haven't read it myself. I would also recommend talking to your doctor about food allergies. Wheat allergies/sensitivities are way more common than people want to believe, and while Celiac is still taught to med students as being so rare that they will probably never see it; it's actually fairly common but most people don't have or know they have symptoms until after trying a gluten free diet for a while and suddenly everything is in color.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Doing Something Different...

You have to do what you've never done before to get what you've never had before.

I can't remember the exact quote because the original does some horrific things to the English language, but that's the basic idea. Then there's the celebrated Einstein quote "Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that caused them."

That doesn't just apply to problems, it also applies to feeling stuck or needing to get to a new level in a venture. The thing is, we get stuck in our habits and those habits either build us or destroy us. As Jeff Olsen teaches in The Slight Edge (which looks to have been re-released...), either your habits take you up the success curve or down the failure curve... and for a long time these two curves look a lot alike, but there comes a point where your curve either jumps UP dramatically, or jumps DOWN dramatically, and the thing that determines that is not luck, or God (or Dog for that matter), or the lottery but your habits.

So this week I will be discussing some habits that I have taken on that have helped other people jump up onto the success curve. Here's the first:

NEGATIVE THOUGHTS WILL KILL YOU - I've talked about this before, but the bottom line is, your brain does certain things with certain patterns of thinking. Positive thought patterns open you up to new possibilities, clear your thinking, and make living a little easier; negative thought patterns put you into a state of protection, and it becomes hard to process objectively because everything is viewed as a threat. It's the same thing with "playing to win" versus "playing not to lose". Playing-not-to-lose is not playing to win. These two things are VERY different and use different chemicals in your brain in creating the mentality. You are not your brain, you control your brain (to a certain extent) and therefore have the ability to choose which of these mindsets you want to have. It takes practice, and you have to be aware of your thinking, otherwise you'll just settle into your old patterns.

Tony Robbins taught me to ask myself these three questions in order to make myself be mindful of my thoughts:
1. What am I focused on? (What thought pattern am I using?)
2. How do I feel about it? (Is that good or bad?)
3. What am I going to do now? (Keep it or throw it out?)
Awareness, analysis, action. By following those steps (and doing other things to keep your brain and body healthy) you will be able to control your thinking and negativity won't creep in and KILL YOU.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Gah... migraine...

It's been a mean couple of days. I guess I wanted an excuse not to work, cuz I sure as shit got one. Currently, I remain under the adjective-for-really-bad-and-mean rule of a migraine. This time 'round (and they don't happen very often), I believe it to be a reaction to having the gorham flu (yes, I was watching Firefly all day yesterday, why do you ask?), which also could have been a wheat-exposure, but I doubt it because Schmoogie is also lethargic and flu-ish-feeling (not the vomitty kind, if you're curious, which you now are not). Side note: HA! Diagram that also too in addition moreover you betcha!

Anyway, I got up early today, thinking I could get stuff done cuz my head wasn't exploding with adjective-for-really-bad-ouchy-burny pain, but that sensation didn't last and my head is now back under the dictatorial (that's the word I was looking for) reign of Kim Jong Migraine. I'm naming this migraine for the North Korean dictator because one of my symptoms last night was all of the color draining from my field of vision. Yeah, brains are weird (it's not cancer, we played House on Wednesday and ruled out sarcoid, lupus, cancer, and epstein-barre).

So, this was way more personal that it usually is, but I figure the internet really doesn't care about my problems so I can whisper into the void about them if I want to.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

...says the Time Lord

I started getting really excited about stuff about an hour before the transit started (the little black dot is Venus, the giant purple thing is Sol aka the sun), and kinda bounced about doing laundry and various other things for most of the day...

Then it was time for meeting, so I took care of that (after making a delivery to a new client), and made a few calls before going in and sitting down for 2 hours. I realized something, though, because after talking to the first person I called, who is excited about Mary Kay, I didn't want to make any more calls. It was weird. I had a success and I almost sabotaged myself for the rest of the day by refusing to make anymore calls. I felt really weird about it... I mean, I spent most of the day preventing myself from getting anything done (if I was smart I would have done all of my homework BEFORE the transit coverage started, rather than putting everything off so I could watch a black blob slowly cross a red one), so it's no surprise that I attempted to continue this trend, but it really bothered me.

I see this pattern in myself all the time though. Success is followed by resting upon my laurels (and Mary Kay always said "nothing wilts faster than a laurel rested-upon" or something to that effect), which is followed by panic. It's a weird little habit that I really don't understand, and I suppose that I mean to get to the bottom of it so that I can make that not happen anymore... 

I'm doing better. I caught myself last week and said that things aren't going the way I wished them, rather than the way I planned them (because they are going the way I planned them... because I failed to plan until it was too late to earn above a C); I did continue making calls today too. I made at least 5 more, and talked to 3 real people, who had real language barriers with me. The funny thing is, I'm not worried about the rejection, I'm worried about them saying "yeah!" and being excited. And that really frustrates me, because at the same time I get really frustrated when appointments postpone or don't book at all. 

So there's this frenetic battle going on inside me between the part that's frustrated by success and the part that's frustrated by failure. There's a part saying "what am I doing?" and a part saying "why isn't this working?", and a third, rational (ha) part that knows what's going on and knows what's supposed to happen and where I'm supposed to be and what I'm supposed to be doing and it says "why are you guys fighting? shut up already". That third voice is getting stronger, which is a good thing, but I'm still baffled by the fear-of-success voice. 

I tried, once, to work out the fear-of-success thing with a life coach, who wanted me to call a WAAAAAHmbulance. Thinking back, that should have been my last session with that coach, because this is still an issue I need to work out, and I don't really have much guidance on it. I get that life is supposed to be messy, and I get that my thoughts create my future, and so I think about the good stuff all of the time and create away... then I get into situations where I HAVE EXACTLY WHAT I GAVE MYSELF IN MY IMAGINATION (my life right now looks a lot like the fantasy life I dreamed of when I was 17), and freak out about it.

It blows my mind how incredibly powerful I have made myself - and I really have, no one gave me this gift, I learned how to manifest my dreams myself. My mom told me once that I did everything to get myself into art school, and I KNOW that wasn't the first time I manifested something I wanted. Knowing, really knowing in the depths of you that you have the power to create anything you want is kind of paralyzing. I don't think I know anyone who really gets that...

So, maybe that's the fear. Not what I can't do, but what I can. Not that I am weak, but like that quote which is often mis-attributed to Nelson Mandela, that I am powerful beyond measure. But impatient. And "urgent for a finish lie-ee-yii-eye-eee-ine". Perhaps this fear is that it will all be taken away after I create it (that's some deep damage right there), so by throwing it away at least I lose it on my own terms. I really don't know. 

In the meantime, I'm taking action. I'm living, or trying to live, from a place of service, creating a better life as I go and trying to remind myself that what is in the past is still mine and that I own that past. I'm trying to teach myself to accept that I this power I have is immense but not immediate.

"Everything takes time..."
"Says the Time Lord"
Shit. I did say that, didn't I?

Friday, June 1, 2012

I like to swim...

Fairly easy day today... a few reorders, nothing huge, but I'm not going to say no to my customers (it's bad for business), also looks like I've got a booking too, so I'm happy about that.

I did go to the pool today, and that was nice. I think I should do that more often and maybe start to make friends with the other people who go there during the week... we'll see. Stranger -> Friend -> Customer -> Hostess -> Recruit, right? It's not a universal thing, but hey, you never know!

So, a bit of housework, bit of shopping, and mostly taking it easy today. I love my life.