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Business

My 5 wisest words of advice for creative entrepreneurs

In the last 8 years, Jesse and I have created two businesses. The whole point of this entrepreneur adventure, for us, is to share all we have with the world and hopefully by doing this, we’ve made someone’s life better. Oh, and we definitely dig mid-day bike rides and soaking up sunshine on the coast (which certainly has something to do with us living and loving this gig, too).

Since a quarter of my life has now been spent in entrepreneurship, and I’ve had approximately 97 meltdowns along the way, I figured I’d share with you what I do know. My lessons learned over the years. My 5 wisest words of advice for creative entrepreneurs…

Grace
Take it easy on yourself. No matter what you do or don’t do; no matter if you meet your expectations for yourself or not, give yourself some grace. We are our own worst enemies. Think of the respect, grace and understanding you offer your best friend when times are tough. Are you that kind to yourself? I know I’m not, a lot of the time, because perfectionism wiggles its way into my mind and I can be really hard on myself. But the more intentionally I work on grace, the less disappointed I am. I am happier, freer and actually more productive and successful.

Boundaries
There are two ways I’ve learned to use boundaries to my advantage. The first is probably the most obvious: establish boundaries for work/life balance. Shut the office door at night. Put fun, social, personal things on the calendar first each week, so you don’t run yourself into the ground. Create office hours. STICK TO THE OFFICE HOURS.

The second way is this: Guard your heart. Not everyone is going to understand, be interested in or possibly even support your ideas and decisions in entrepreneurship. That’s okay. Keep those relationships about something else. Don’t pour out your heart about your business dreams to these people if you know their response will disappoint you. There are so many people who DO get it (umm, hello, we’re right HERE!!!).

Strategy
The fastest way to get to where you want to be is by having a strategy. This comes in all shapes and sizes, for all sorts of things like networking, how you spend your time working on your business and in your business, social media advertising, marketing . . . you name it, you need to have a strategy for it!

Ask yourself: What is my purpose? What can I do with this partnership, Instagram post or conference I’m going to that will better my business and take me to the next level? How can I make this a win-win situation for everyone involved? If strategy isn’t your strength (yet), write one of these questions on a Post-it and put it on your computer as a reminder to guide your business in that direction.

Persistence
Those who make it to the top of the mountain have had plenty of crummy days in the valley. But the reason they “made it”? Persistence. You will doubt your dreams. You will want to give up, for good. Don’t do that! Instead, cry it out. Do some yoga. Just breathe, and maybe get yourself a brownie, too. And then, tweak your plan and try again. Repeat after me:

“Fear, pride, comparison, naysayers, self-doubt and failure will not stop me from living to my fullest potential.”

Use those challenges and setbacks to grow and position yourself as a leader whose ways are tried and true.

Gratitude
Gratitude is a cure-all. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy and experience true joy. And it’s the absolute BEST way to start your day. Even in the crappiest of situations, there’s something to be grateful for. Nothing is too little to go unnoticed either! Wake up each day and set the tone for all that’s to come. Make it a new habit to inject gratitude into your day.

Soon, this new habit will shape your new sunshiny perspective. This is HUGE when you’re a business owner because there will always be ups and downs. The more successful you become, the more potential there is for complicated challenges. Gratitude is one vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to a solid mindset.

No matter what situation I’m in or challenge I’m facing, one of these words is usually the answer. Try them out. Let me know what words have taught you the most and help you be and do everything you’ve dreamed up for your business!

Categories
Business

I’m So Over Instagram

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Don’t get me wrong; it’s my favorite social media platform. We normally rave about it. We even have a course teaching you how to use Instagram + Facebook ads. We know how powerful a tool it is to build relationships + make money. Buuuuut…

It’s causing people we know + love unneeded stress.
It’s stealing time from other profit-producing activities.
It’s making people feel like they’re not good enough or cool enough (including me, at times!)

Instagram is all the rage right now. We totally get it! It can help you do incredible things in your business. But I wanted to check in with you and ask you a few things I ask myself every now and then…

  1. Is the time you’re spending on Instagram taking away from other important parts of your business?
  2. Are you taking all this community and encouragement OFFLINE (partnerships, coffee dates, sending referrals to these new Insta-friends)?
  3. Do you feel life So-and-So’s success is making you jealous?
  4. Are you connecting with people on Insta that make sense for YOU and YOUR business to connect with?
  5. Are you missing out on real life relationships because you’re on Instagram or looking for an Insta-worthy moment?

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in exciting movements + #hashtags. I just wanted to shoot it to you straight today…

Remember who you are, what your strengths are and why you started this business in the first place. Use Instagram to connect, encourage and be real with your people. Just don’t let it steal your confidence, joy + too many hours of your life! Create a content plan and posting schedule. Get in and get out and get on with sharing your beauty + creativity with the rest of the world!

Go get ’em (on + offline)!

Categories
Business

7 Things We Stand For

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Maybe you’ve been around for a while and you have a good idea of what we’re all about. Or, maybe you’re new to Idealust, new to us, and you’re thinking to yourself…

“Hmm. Becky + Jesse seem alright, but I’m just not quite sure yet.” That’s cool! We get it! There are LOTS of posts darting around out there in cyber space! But here’s the thing, we don’t want to be another random business that emails you about business coaching for creatives. We want to know what’s going on in your world (so we know how to best help you!) and we also want to be super transparent about who we are.

Sooooo…

In case you aren’t sure if you know what we’re all about or what we stand for, we figured we’d come right out and tell you 🙂

  1. We believe morning routines + date nights are sacred.
  2. We believe in getting outside of our comfort zones, in all areas of our life. Sometimes (okay, a lot of the time) that feels awkward and uncomfortable. But, that’s the point. We know firsthand that’s where all the good stuff happens. What does this actually look like? Good question…
    • Going to CrossFit when we aren’t thrilled about the work out.
    • Getting in the same room with and building relationships with those who we admire.
    • Being frustrated that something isn’t working (even though we’ve tried a handful of times) in our business and not giving up. Tweaking our efforts and trying, YET AGAIN.
    • Adopting a baby!
  3. We believe that we discover our best ideas after soaking up copious amounts of sunshine and riding our beach cruisers or playing in the waves or hiking up mountains or taking road trips. Fresh air is, quite literally, one of our business partners. 😉
  4. We believe in doing what we were designed to do…and I don’t mean only with Idealust, I mean making the most out of absolutely everything we’ve been given (opportunities, skills, passions, etc.) and that’s why we feel so ALIVE!
  5. We believe we all have the freedom + capability to create the lives we want for ourselves.
  6. We believe that kindness + gratitude are key ingredients to being a successful entrepreneur.
  7. We believe that not everyone was created to be an entrepreneur, but those who are, well, it’s undeniable. Those dreams + ideas don’t fade away. You can’t sweep them under the rug. We believe there’s only one way to see if they’ll make it, and that’s to offer those dreams a chance. And we want to help you. That’s why we’re here. That’s why we started Idealust 🙂

I feel like maybe we can be friends now?

Categories
Business

7 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Breeze Through Setbacks

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We all do it. No matter how far we’ve come or how successful we are, we all do it every now and then. We FREAK OUT!!! PANIC!!! We feel like life is over because of a setback or failure that feels like a dagger through the heart. The intensity of how much we feel these setbacks is valid, considering the amount of effort and soul we pour into our work and businesses.

But I’m here to tell you that failing is fabulous! Because guess what, you’re likely in this place because you put yourself out there, tried something new and got outside of your comfort zone and that, no matter what the outcome, deserves something so much greater than what we have the tendency to reward ourselves with. And even though you feel like throwing in the towel, you have an opportunity to take this setback and turn the bus around!

So, when you’re in freak out mode because something didn’t go as well as you’d hoped and you’re panicking about the state of your business and the state of your perseverance, here are 7 ways entrepreneurs can breeze through setbacks and get back to your go-getting, confident, money-making self in no time.

1. Get it all out.
I’m a firm believer in purging yourself of all limiting beliefs, negativity, self-doubt, fear, disappointment, frustrations, etc. as soon as possible. Vent. Cry. Be upset. But give yourself a time limit for all of this, because you have some really important steps to take next. Whatever you do, don’t stop here.

2. Focus on what you already have.
This is a great time for gratitude. Think about how far you have already come! Think about all the people who have worked with you and raved about you, your products or services. Go ahead, read all your incredible reviews. Also, take inventory of your current clients’ satisfaction level. Is there anything you can do to improve their experience? Go do that.

3. Shift your mindset.
A big part of why that setback sent you reeling is likely because you haven’t been strengthening your mindset enough as you should be. Have you been sticking to your morning routine? Check out The Miracle Morning. Page through Think & Grow Rich. Get off social media for a few days; no need to compare yourself to others in this fragile state. Instead, work on getting your confidence back ASAP.

4. Create a game plan.
Think back to what got you through your last setback. What worked for you? Do those things! What didn’t? Don’t do those things! If you’ve veered from your strengths, get back to them! Do what you’re good at and confident in to gain traction and momentum.

5. Add value for others.
It’s so easy to be self-absorbed when things aren’t going our way. When all you can think about is how you wish you could just catch a break, go be that break for someone else. Get outside of yourself and see what you can do to help someone else succeed. I promise this will make you feel better AND by providing value for others, down the road, they will provide value for you.

6. Seek advice from the wise.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. A lot of times, the answer to your problem is simple and just requires you to do a little tweaking. Get advice from your coach, mentor or other successful entrepreneurs in your life. Learn from their challenges, setbacks, and failures. Model after their perseverance and strategies.

7. Trust in the process.
You’ve likely been here before. I have. I have been in that place numerous times over my 7 years as an entrepreneur, and you know what, it always works itself out. So, trust in the process. Know that you will have another chance to accomplish what you hoped to do the first time around. Use this setback to make version 2.0 that much better! And then, get back to work.

You got this!

Categories
Business

We Are Strikingly Different

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We are very different from a lot of those around us. Those climbing 9-5 ladders. Those working on house projects one weekend after the next. There are people in our life doing these things. And we love them so. We are just strikingly different.
Our goals are rooted in freedom, creativity, travel and living out passion and skills we’ve been given. We are working toward working from a hammock in Costa Rica, and someday (hopefully not for a very long time!) dying empty, with all of our ideas and efforts left to better the world.

The contrast in lifestyle is apparent. And as a whole, it makes a lovely picture. But it’s so important to find community on our side of the fence. So, the distinct line continues to portray beauty, not hardship. Take some time this week to build your creative entrepreneur community. Schedule a coffee/work date with someone you know or someone you’d like to get to know. Take time to encourage and genuinely compliment those you bump into on social media. Freely and enthusiastically give out high-fives to other creatives, who are hustling but may be feeling stuck or too much like a #solopreneur.

We’ve all been there. We’ve felt isolated and like we don’t quite fit in with those on the other side of the fence. We don’t. We are #gutsygogetters. But that’s why fulfilling our purpose is so important. Being who we’re meant to be makes for a perfectly beautiful and balanced picture.

So remember, you are strikingly different. And that’s a good thing.

Categories
Adventure

Paper football showdown

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You know that voice that tells you it’s not going to happen, you’re just not going to win or make it or get what you want out of all of this? Get some duct tape and force that loud mouth to shut it. You know why? Anything is possible. Yeah, yeah, that’s cliche. But I know it’s true because I won a game of paper football that no one would have EVER guessed I would.

In-N-Out is our favorite place to play our version of paper football. The white slippery tables are perfect for sliding our meticulously folded receipts. If you haven’t had the pleasure of dining with us and aren’t familiar, each player pushes, tosses, slides or flicks the paper triangle across the table. You get a point if any part of the football hangs over your opponent’s edge. Back and forth. Back and forth. The game ends immediately upon hearing your order number called. Whoever is in the lead at that moment, wins.

I usually win. (Jesse will argue that statement. But come on, who are you going to trust?) But that one particular day, I wasn’t doing so hot. Jesse had the lead. 6 to 0. Bum town. 7 to 0. He was on a roll. 8 to 0. He was talking some heavy smack. I couldn’t wait for my burger to get to the table. Then, I got 1. And another. Our number was called. But, lo and behold, they brought us the wrong order! Game on. I still had a chance. Back and forth went the black and white receipt. Back and forth went the lead.

What happened next was wild. Never seen before in any of our MANY games of paper football. I got 9 points in a row and took the title (for a day). 15 to 9. I literally went from being all slouchy and defeated in our white burger booth to shaking my triumphant fists in the air.

Never underestimate how quickly the game can change. Never underestimate how quickly the game can change.

You’re trying new tactics and techniques, but you just can’t seem to make it to the edge of the table. You’re so close. You might have to make some big changes or change your perspective, altogether. You might have to scrap an idea, an approach, and work another angle. DO NOT GIVE UP. Something will pan out. You’ll book a new client. You’ll sell that piece you’ve been wanting to. You’ll meet someone who knows someone who’s exactly the someone you needed to meet.

This whole full-time entrepreneur life isn’t for the faint of heart. Success seems to come in waves. There are lots of valleys and mountaintops. When you’re working your way through those darn valleys, keep your head down. Keep making little itty bits of progress. It may not feel like it at the time, but those tiny steps forward add up in a BIG way. No matter how gradual or quickly that momentum comes, it’s key to win the game. Use it to your advantage. Let your adrenaline drive you to keep pushing, tossing, sliding. You’ll get there.

And when you do, as you shake your triumphant fists in the air, think back to that scoreboard when you felt like a zero, and celebrate all you’ve accomplished. Maybe with a chocolate shake.

Categories
Business

Transitioning from part time to full time

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Let’s talk about that uncomfortable time in-between wanting to do your craft full-time and not knowing if quitting your 8-5 is realistic. I completely understand what that feels like. On Instagram it seems like everyone in your industry is living the life with their mid-day beach breaks, daily coffee house outings and constant flow of vacations thanks to destination clients. On Twitter, it seems like they’re booked out through 2015 with the raddest projects on planet earth. All the while, you’re still stuck in cubicle hell. While some of those things may be true, I urge you to start your transition into full-time self-employment by dropping the comparisons between your real life and someone else’s on-line life. Things aren’t always as they seem and you’re not quitting your job just to copy someone else.

So. For those of you who desperately want to be self-employed, I ask you these questions:

1. What’s your plan? What product or service will you sell to pay the bills?
If you’ve been building momentum already, how can you take some risks while you have stable income to say no to clients who aren’t the right fit and go after the ones you’d prefer to build your business with moving forward? The goal here is to make a significant change that will lead you to the life you want, not simply make a lateral move from your current job to an equally awful experience only this time from the comfort of your home. Without a solid plan in place for how this business is going to help create the lifestyle you crave, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment.

2. If you’re developing a product or service it’s going to take some time. How long will you give yourself to develop it to a point where it’s ready to launch?
If you’re still working an 8-5, a hard deadline for getting everything put together is a good way to get yourself on track for leaving your existing job and it’ll help you allocate your extra time appropriately. If you need time to develop your plan/product/brand and quitting your job is required to fully dive in, I would highly suggest making the realistic timeline for the development process and moving to step 3.

3. Take the timeline you’ve created in step 2 and make a plan for saving enough money to cover your bills for the development period BEFORE you quit your job.
There’s nothing worse than getting a few months in and realizing you’re already compromising values and goals because you need to pay bills that you could have covered if you would have saved more money while you had steady income.

4. If you have a spouse, are they 3,000% on board with this transition?
Not sure more needs to be said about this.

If you don’t have an answer to one or more of these questions, I wouldn’t suggest the leap quite yet. If you’re solid on all these points, you’ve gotta ask yourself, “What’s REALLY holding me back?” Chances are, the fears you have are a little exaggerated when the worst thing that will happen is a bruised ego and/or a brief financial drought. For some, the worst thing that could happen is having to sell their home and moving into a small apartment. WORST CASE. As badly as that would suck, there are a lot of people who wouldn’t mind that scenario if it mean moving one step closer to their dream. If the realistic worst case scenario seems manageable and you have a plan set in place, I ask you again, “What’s REALLY holding you back?”

Get a plan in place, start saving, define your start date of self-employment and take control of the life you want. Oh, and don’t compare your real life with someone else’s on-line life. That’s a sure fire way to get you off track in a hurry…especially in the early days of a transition this big!

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Business

Quick & Healthy Meals for Entrepreneurs On the Go

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There are a few ways to look at eating healthy. Most see it as a necessary evil, others like to pretend it’s an idea that doesn’t exist (YOLO?), and some of us, though not the majority, totally dig it. Yay for us!

I’m here to convince you to eat healthy, totally dig it and go back for seconds.

“You can’t trade your body in like a car. You only have one. So we must give the machine the fuel that it needs to function properly so that we can make creative magic happen in our respective fields.”
As a multi-passionate health coach and entrepreneur who is infamous for biting off more than she can chew (pun intended), I have to admit that eating healthy hasn’t always been something I’ve enjoyed. It used to be daunting and I would worry incessantly about what I “shouldn’t” eat. Plus, I felt like it took up an enormous amount of time that I didn’t have. This makes me sad looking back because choosing to have a healthy life should not feel like this at all. It should be a celebration of your body, your unique, incredible, intelligent self. You can’t trade your body in like a car. You only have one. So we must give the machine the fuel that it needs to function properly so that we can make creative magic happen in our respective fields. Now, I cherish the privilege I have to choose from an abundance of beautiful, nutrient-rich foods.

I challenge you to lean in, listen up and make the decision to change the way you think about eating well. It is not a chore; now it’s an expression of self-love. In my health coaching practice I challenge my clients to ask themselves the uncomfortable questions: If you don’t take care of yourself, who will? Your body is the only place you have to live, where will you go if it gives out? Be empowered and choose health.

Here are 5 go-to healthy meals for you go-getters…

Smoothies. I literally cannot tell you the amount of love I have for smoothies. You can almost never go wrong. Start green then add some fruit and healthy fats. Here, I’ll show you… 1-2 handfuls of leafy greens (I prefer kale), 1 cup of frozen organic berries, 1 frozen banana, 1 tablespoon of organic coconut oil, 1-2 tablespoons of high-quality chia seeds, 1 scoop of your favorite organic, non-GMO meal replacement powder or grass-fed whey protein, a dash of cinnamon, 1 cup purified water and 1 cup unsweetened almond milk. Vitamix the shizzle out of that bad boy and you have an incredibly balanced meal in a glass.

Scrambled eggs. Add a little garden to your scramble. Sauté organic kale, red bell pepper, heirloom tomato and sweet onion in coconut oil until soft. Whisk a few pastured eggs with unsweetened almond milk, add salt and pepper to taste. Eat with Ezekiel bread slathered in almond butter. No one will judge you for having breakfast for dinner.

Chipotle. While I prefer to make my own meals if I can, there is one place I feel good about if I just can’t stand the heat in the kitchen, and that is Chipotle. They are doing a pretty good job in committing to a future of organically sourced ingredients, and their anti-GMO project gives us all hope. Opt for a salad with onions and peppers, chicken, pico de gallo salsa, corn salsa, and guacamole. Some like it hot, so go for spice if you so desire. Say no to the cheese and sour cream. If you want to go vegetarian, the brown rice and black beans combined make a complete protein.

Kale salads. Toss with cashews, diced green apples, sprouts, goat cheese, chia seeds and grilled chicken. Any dressing from Tessemae’s gets my stamp of approval!

Whole Foods. Most have a juice bar, or several bottled options from Suja and Blue Print Cleanse. I always recommend something green or with the smallest amount of sugar. Their salad bar has a plethora of fresh veggies, nuts and sprouts. Stay away from the heavy dressings and pasta sides, though.

Now, ask yourself these questions: How do you stay healthy while working your biz? Are you letting your health fall to the wayside while you build your empire? In what ways can you improve?

It’s good to give yourself a regular gut check. Remember that you are the CEO of your own health. Self-care is not an option. Tune up when needed, put the systems in place and the rewards will come back in vibrant, refreshing, empowering ways. Much like your business.

Categories
Business

Dealing with boredom at a job you created & (most of the time) love

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Boredom has some nasty effects on creative entrepreneurs. It makes us feel lethargic, lazy and drives us into a deep, dark pit of comfy blankets where we watch Arrested Development reruns instead of work. So I’m told.

Don’t get me wrong. Watching Arrested Development reruns IS fun, if we’re taking a day off and are actually happy about our current state. It’s not so fun if creative collapse and/or borderline depression have a foot in the door.

Sometimes boredom exists and we just have to deal with it. As creative people, we want to be inspired and moved and productive all of the time. But that’s not real life. Even if we outsource tasks that aren’t our strengths (accounting, SEO, etc.) and outsource tasks that aren’t the best use of our time, we’re still going to get bored. At these random little moments of resistance, we must push through! Practice discipline. Sit down and do our work!

Boredom usually happens when we get a little too comfortable with routine. Let’s stop getting comfortable with routine! Boredom for creative entrepreneurs looks like this:

1. We’re feeling uninspired.
2. It seems like everyone else is doing something awesome.
3. Thoughts like, “ugh, ick, bleh” run through our heads.
4. We feel antsy every time we sit down to work.
5. Our tasks seem tedious.
6. We’re overwhelmed.

These thoughts/feelings are valid. We can go ahead and slump and pout around our offices. Give a good yell or long and exaggerated sigh. And then, we have to knock it off! Boredom is our own fault. We are creative people, afterall. Let’s get creative with ways to keep our businesses and our mojo for our businesses riproaring in the right direction. There is beautiful and bright light out there, just passed the dark and swampy blahs. We just have some creative problem solving ahead of us. We need to seal up that little black box of boredom and chuck it in the ocean. Intention is half the battle. If we sit at our desks and think, “I’m bored. This sucks. Bleh. Booooooring.” That’s how our days are going to go.

If all we did, as wedding photographers, was meet potential clients, shoot their weddings, edit their weddings, design their wedding albums and deliver their images and did that over and over over and ooooovvvvveeerrrrr again, we’d meet a lot of awesome people and get to be photographers BUT, I’d get bored. Not to sound like I don’t love love and happiness or I don’t enjoy my job, but we crave newness within our routine. We thrive on ideas and adventure. So, we do all of those things over and over and over again, but we’re always giving ourselves new challenges along the way with these tasks and the time we have between these tasks.

A few examples of things we’ve said over at our wedding photography business when boredom crept in:

  • Let’s make a mini vacation out of that New Orleans wedding coming up.
  • How can we streamline album design, so we can get the books to our clients even faster?
  • Editing is getting me doooown. Let’s figure out our options for outsourcing.
  • You know all those people we know dying to learn how to use their DSLRs? Let’s teach them!
  • It’s been a busy few weeks, I’m sick of sitting at my desk, let’s watch Arrested Development reruns and eat ice cream (SEE!).
  • It’s been a busy few weeks, I’m sick of sitting at my desk, sunset run on the bay tonight?
  • Michael & Perrin LOVE film, let’s shoot a roll for their wedding and surprise them with it!
  • Let’s start taking our potential clients to get frozen yogurt instead of going to coffee.

Not every idea has to be monumental. But a little change in direction will get us to that bright, beautiful place where inspiration and productivity are bumping elbows, racing to our doors.

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Business

Actualizing Your Strengths

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None of us like doing stuff we’re not good at. It’s not energizing and it leaves us feeling like neutered idiots. This, my dear friends, is why I’m a huge advocate for the StrengthsFinder® assessment. It’s such a great starting point for identifying what your core competencies are and how to create an environment where you can feel fully alive more consistently.

If you’ve never heard of the assessment before, here’s a little run down:

– Built on 3 decades of research (across multiple industries and nearly 50 countries).
– Measures the presence of talents in 34 general areas or ‘themes.’
– Talents naturally exist. Strengths must be developed and are the product that results when one’s talents are refined with acquire skills and knowledge.
– It’s a starting point for self-discovery.
– Signature themes (your top 5 results) are unique to that individual. 33,390,720 different sets of signature themes are possible.

That last number is why we use this thing at B!G DEAL BRANDING. It reinforces our belief that if you own who you are, develop your strengths and create space to function in your sweet spot within your business, no one will be able to touch you.  No one will be able to replicate the core of what you do because it’s unique to who you are. With practice, you will be able to provide consistent, near-perfect performance in a specific task. You’ll dominate your competitive landscape.

Does that not make anyone else excited? Even just a tad?

Here’s what happens when you’re not functioning in your strengths (this is straight up from the book Strengths 2.0):

– You’re quite simply a different person.
– In the workplace, you’re six times less likely to be engaged in your job (yes, the workplace includes your home office).
– You’ll dread going to work.
– You’ll have more negative than positive interactions with your colleagues.
– You’ll treat your customers poorly.
– You’ll achieve less on a daily basis.
– You’ll have fewer positive and creative moments.

Sound familiar? Need a Prozac? Kidding.

Here’s the deal. When we’re functioning in our strengths, it is PROVEN that we’re more positive, hopeful, confident and action-oriented. Most people aren’t living in their strengths because they don’t even know what their strengths are! So, the first step is to buy one of the following books:

1. Strengths 2.0 — Tom Rath (for the basic run-down of how this thing works — also the most popular)
2. Strengths-Based Leadership — Tom Rath (for those of you who want to know how your strengths play into leadership roles)
3. Now, Discover Your Strengths — Marcus Buckingham

Don’t buy a used book! The code that comes with the book is what gives you access to the online assessment. Only one code per person. Yes, that means you have to buy a book for each person who wants to take the assessment (which I highly recommend for teams). Follow the directions from the book and take the 30-40 minute online assessment. When you’re finished, you’ll get your top 5 results. Study them, interact with them, start carving out opportunities to practice them more regularly. If possible, get a certified Strengths Coach through Gallup to help you better understand what they mean. Whatever you do, don’t just look over it once and put it back on your bookshelf. This WILL NOT help you better understand what you’re capable of and how you can maximize your potential.

If you’ve completed the assessment, we’d love to hear what some of your strengths are and/or how this has helped you in business and life! Leave a comment below. And, stay tuned! Next week we’ll go over how to incorporate your strengths in your business.