Brand New Branding For Solos

by Barbara Saunders

Branding is a whole new ball game from even ten years ago.

It used to be – in the dusty past – that brands were seared into the flesh to identify the herd. Thankfully, those times are past (unless you count tattoos and piercings, we won’t).

Corporate branding tactics really weren’t much different, treating their customers like so many generic pieces on a game board. Consumer behavior has changed. Today, customers have the power so branding strategy – especially for Solos – needs to change with the times.

The change in consumer behavior

People have grown tired of being shouted ‘at’ but big business. They’re fed up with one-size-fits-all products and having to navigate complex automated phone trees when they have a problem. They’ve learned that they can turn to the internet to search for better options. They can share reviews of other consumers and learn from past mistakes. They can turn to social media to vent their frustration when a company doesn’t deliver.

Consumers today are also drowning in messaging. Compared to just a decade ago, people were hit with about 5,000 ads a day in 2006 (up from 500 a day in 1970). Today, it’s estimated to be over 50,000! Not only are consumers inundated by advertising noise, but their brains are automatically filtering messages for them. That’s why you’re seeing a drastic drop off in the effectiveness of marketing today – even with personalized email marketing that people have signed up for. It’s just TOO MUCH. So what do you do to survive in business today?

The solution has to do with branding

If I were to ask you to make a list of the 5 most influential people in your life right now, could you do it? Why?

Because those people have a personal impact on YOU. There’s a resonance. It’s personal. That’s the solution. Odds are the people you’ve listed said something or did something that caused them to be lodged into your consciousness. A good example is Oprah for me. Over the years, she’s expressed her opinion, shared her trials, and gave us a peak into her life. All with an open sincerity without trying to be someone she was not. While she does have a global company, she does not hide behind it. She’s connected with millions personally just by being true to herself. This is expert branding at its best.

Why it works BEST for solos

Let me share a business secret: You don’t need to reach millions. A solo-based professional only needs a few well-paying clients – and well-paying clients tend to refer people like themselves to businesses that treat them well and deliver the goods. You don’t need Oprah’s huge following. There are some caveats for this to be a successful business concept:

  •     You cannot charge rock-bottom prices by the hour – you don’t have enough hours
  •     You need to provide high-quality, high-touch products, programs and services – no Walmart thinking here
  •     You need to be a content creator – Share you opinions (related to your business expertise mostly), your resources, your reviews, your know-how, your insight, and then curate what other experts in your field are saying

What you need to do

  •     Show up as a competent professional with a level of expertise
  •     Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise through content creation
  •     Put on a credible professional image – good head shot with eye contact, professionally designed website and collateral, well-written profiles and material, show up with other experts in your field (you can do that by commenting on their blogs or interviewing them for yours)
  •     Position yourself as the leader NOT another one of the followers (be the speaker or sponsor)
  •     Take the time to get clear on exactly who you help (remember you only need a few), what they really are struggling with, and how you can help
  •     Create clear messaging – avoid cliches, puffed-up jargon, or exaggerated claims, no hype – just help
  •     Show up and share your story, gather nice words from others and share those too

What to avoid

  •     Don’t try to hide behind a ‘corporate’ image to try to make your business look bigger. That will backfire. People today distrust the big corporate wall. They want a person to help them. Just be the person you are.
  •     Don’t try to do it all yourself. Yes, there are TONS of cheap template websites and other services, and yes, you can eventually learn to design or code a website, but that’s time that you’re not getting paid for what you do – invest in your business and it will repay you over and over
  •     Don’t do trades, discounts, or any other activity that paints you as unprofessional – successful business owners do not devalue what they offer, they encourage people to set up to invest

Of course, there’s a lot more to strong branding for Solo Pros, but this will get you off to a strong start. If you need individual help, let’s schedule your Business Mapping call and well tailor your branding just for YOU.

Author Info: Barbara Saunders is the Solo Pro Business Success Expert who helps self-employed professionals go from floundering to flourishing! As the Founder of the Solo Pro Academy, she’s developed programs focused specifically on helping solo pros build a profitable custom-fit business for our new technology-drive global economy. Swing by and pick up your free ‘Income Accelerator Success Kit’. To connect with other solo pros, tune into Solo Pro Radio.

Author Q&A: The Economy of You by Kimberly Palmer

If you've ever been stressed out trying to make financial ends meet, or worried about losing your job, author Kimberly Palmer's new book, The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life (AMACOM, 2014), will show you how to add a "side-gig" or start a full-time entrepreneurial venture.

Kimberly Palmer is senior money editor and Alpha Consumer blogger at US News & World Report. She is the author of Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back, as well as a series of financial guides, Palmer’s Planners, sold through her Etsy shop.

Kimberly has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CNBC, CNN, and local television and radio shows across the country to talk about smart money decisions. She lives with her husband and two children in the Washington, D.C., area.

Kimberly is stopping by the blog today to discuss her new book.

Deb Bailey: Thanks for joining me, Kimberly. What prompted you to write this book?

Kimberly Palmer: I realized that I, along with most Americans, had no job security, and I needed a way to give myself, and my family, more financial stability. In the event of a lay-off, I didn't want to find myself with no income. So I decided to launch a side business on Etsy to create a second stream of income, and I soon discovered many people doing the same thing. I realized that a lot of people have the goal of building a side business, so I wrote the book to help them do that.

Deb: The title of your book caught my attention right away. Could you elaborate on what you mean by, "the Economy of You?"

Kimberly: We all need to create our own mini-empires based on our skills, interests and passions -- "the economy of you" refers to that mindset, of thinking of yourself as an entrepreneur. For many people, myself included, it involves a shift in thinking. We are all entrepreneurs in the current economy, even if we don't realize it yet.

Deb: Exactly right! So, what do you want readers to come away with?

Kimberly: I want them to feel ready to launch their side business, to have the tools and ideas they need to act on their idea and build a stable, lucrative business. My interviews with 100 other side-giggers help provide inspiration (as well as tales of mistakes to avoid), too, so readers can learn from others.

Deb: "Moonlighting" used to have a negative connotation. Do you think that's changed?

Kimberly: Absolutely! I think we've seen a major shift in how we think about earning a secondary income outside of a full-time job, and our language reflects that shift. Back in the 1950s and 1960s people spoke of "moonlighting," which sounds like something you're doing that you don't want anyone else to know about. Today, we say "side-gigging" and "side-hustling," which I think reflects the more empowering sense that people get from earning extra money. Increasingly, companies themselves see side-gigs as a positive thing, too, because their employees are picking up new skills on their own time that they can then bring back to their day jobs.

Deb: Does someone have to be a full-time business owner to create their own economy?

Kimberly: Not at all -- I'm really focused on people who have full-time jobs they might never want to leave, but who want to also bring in extra money, as well as flex their creative muscles, on the side. The beauty of a side-business is that you don't face the incredible financial pressure that comes from having to pay the mortgage with your proceeds. Instead, you can use your side-business as a place to play around with your ideas and potential, test the market, and see what could really take off.

Deb: What would you say to a woman who wonders if entrepreneurship is for her?

Kimberly: Entrepreneurship is right for almost everyone. Even if you wade in in just a small way at first, it can turn into an incredible satisfying and empowering pursuit.

Deb: What inspires you to do the work you do?

Kimberly: My family! I launched my business when my daughter was born in large part because I wanted to guarantee that I could always provide for her.

Deb: This is a terrific book, and I know readers of the Secrets of Success blog will enjoy it. Where can people find it?

Kimberly: It is available everywhere books are sold, from Amazon to Barnes & Noble to independent bookstores. You can find links on my site,

Deb: Thanks again for sharing your book with us. Please share your website and social media URLs.

Kimberly: You're welcome! Here's where you can find me online: my site is and my Twitter account is @alphaconsumer.


5 Simple Steps to Elevate Your Life

by Ali Brown

I know what it’s like to think that the lifestyle you want is out of reach. Just over 12 years ago, I would lie on my bed in my tiny 400-square-foot studio apartment and flip through magazines, wishing I could have the luxurious lifestyles I read about.

Despite that negative, nagging voice in my head that reminded me I could barely afford rent, I’m now living a beautiful life I created for myself from scratch. Instead of moping around an apartment I can barely afford, I now have the means to travel and to inspire others.

How’d I do it? By deciding not to settle for being average and thinking BIG.

Changing your mindset can be a challenge, but the rewards are well worth the cost. Here’s how you can get started…

Eliminate negativity. This includes negative self-talk, too. Why would the universe bring you a better life if you don’t appreciate what you already have? Show gratitude for everything in your life now. Those seemingly bad days happen for a reason, so whenever you find yourself thinking, “I can’t do this” or “that’s impossible,” reframe it as the opposite. “I can do that, that is possible…” You owe it to yourself to give yourself the love and support you need to succeed.
Document your dreams. I wanted to manifest a new house, so I listed all of the qualities in my dream home: a 3-car garage, workout room, walk-in closets… (Don’t censor yourself! Anything is possible, even if it seems silly now.) I also bought some real estate magazines, cut out pictures of homes I love, and created a collage. I’m constantly updating my “dream board,” which is now proudly displayed in my dream house!
Surround yourself ONLY with supportive people
. I only shared my house dream with friends and family I knew would support my decision. (NOT those prone to phrases like “Are you crazy? Who do you think you are? Ms. Trump?”) Your true friends and family will be happy to share in your dream. If you don’t have anyone else to support you, then it’s time to make new friends—join a local networking group or a mastermind.
Decide, believe, and watch for clues. It’s not enough to make a decision to work towards your dreams. You must also truly believe in them! Don’t worry about HOW your dreams will manifest themselves. Watch for clues, and the HOW will find you, perhaps in the form of a new business partner or a new client. But remember that the dream comes before the HOW.
ACT on opportunities when they appear
. Action involves risk. You might have to hire more people to help with a new client. You’ll need time to research that prospective business partner. Or figure out how to hire that amazing new mentor. But it’s up to YOU to take action when the path is revealed. The universe is supporting you, and each step will bring you closer to your dreams.

Question: What mindset strategies have helped YOU Elevate your life? Please share your insights in the comment section below.

© 2013 Ali International, LLC
Entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow a profitable business that make a positive impact. Get her FREE CD “Top 10 Secrets for Entrepreneurial Women” at

Bestselling Author & Oprah's Ambassador of Hope Marala Scott on Women Entrepreneurs Radio™

Marala Scott is a Bestselling Author, Inspirational Expert, Ghostwriter, & Oprah's Ambassador of Hope

Marala Scott speaks from the heart with her life-changing words of faith and strength. Her efforts caught the attention of Oprah Winfrey who honored her as one of her five Ambassadors of Hope in 2009 and stated “A childhood of abuse almost kept Marala Scott from a life of happiness…until she discovered how to use her story to help others.” Ms. Scott is also a recipient of a Congressional award for her humanitarian efforts for sharing her prolific life story in efforts to help and inspire others. Marala's Award-winning books, In Our House, (an Amazon Bestseller #3) Surrounded By Inspiration and the newly released Bad to the Bone (an Amazon Bestseller #17) provide powerful lessons that inspire, provide hope and encourage change.

Intuition is a novel inspired by the true events of Marala’s life, co-authored with her daughter Alyssa
Curry. Marala was diagnosed with multiple brain aneurysms but it was her intuition that brought about the discovery when doctor’s continued to tell her nothing was wrong. She had a successful craniotomy to clip the aneurysms nearly three years ago, which spawned her novel Intuition only a few months later.

About The Book: Inspired by true events, Intuition is a timeless novel wrapped in a romantic psychological thriller. It will captivate you all the way to its spellbinding conclusion. Marala Scott, Author and Motivational Speaker, is sharing her most powerful message at a major speaking event when she is kidnapped. Her daughter Alyssa must now follow her intuition to save her mother’s life, while placing her own life in jeopardy. Marala is faced with an incredible test of faith to see if she will follow her intuition or do what she believes will protect her daughter and survive an unknown killer. Filled with many twists and clues, the reader is challenged to trust their own intuition to solve the mystery. More importantly, there’s a profound meaning and life lesson in Intuition that will encourage you to change your life.

Date: Wednesday, March 26th


Why No One’s Buying: 5 Mistakes that Kill Your Conversions

by  Christine Kane

If you’ve ever had a hard time getting a client, you might be tempted to wonder if you’re any good at what you do.

Or worse…doubt you’re cut out for business.

Most likely, however, the problem isn’t you. Most likely, the problem is your marketing.  [Insert big sigh of relief here.]

So, sit with me while I walk you through 5 marketing blunders that might be causing your prospects to slip right through your fingers…

Mistake #1 – They’re not clear on the results they get

You must have 100% clarity about who the heck your ideal client is and what her results will be from what you do. That means it’s not about the components of what you offer. It’s about what results s/he gets from what you offer.

This is always the first point of the conversation or the copy.  Not the cost. Not the great workbooks they get.  It’s about your clients and their results.

Mistake #2 – You offer too many calls to action

I recently visited the website of a life coach.

On the main page, she offered a link to her favorite new book, another link to some colleagues’ websites, a downloadable free guide to de-cluttering, and a whole bunch of payment options for her to be your coach.

It was exhausting!

Remember this:  A confused customer never buys.

Many solo business owners suffer from a “fear of being clear.”  They believe that if they don’t offer every possible option, they might miss out on someone. They insist that this is all about abundance.  Hey, the world is full of options, and people love options!

In truth, it is the ultimate lack mentality.  It’s the fear of being clear. Clarity is the ultimate wealth mindset.  In every communication with your prospect, you must know the answer to this question:

What is the one thing you want your prospect to do FIRST?

Mistake #3 – You hide your expertise

One of the keys to making lots more money in your business is positioning yourself as an expert.

At first, this can be a huge stumbling block.  Many of us have been raised to believe that if we’re any good, people will find us magically.

Plus, we’re scared of bragging.

But here’s the good news. Positioning is not bragging.  It’s much more organic.

Positioning combines credibility, authenticity, expertise, testimonials, success stories and even lifestyle to create a marketing message that establishes you as a go-to person in your field.

Mistake #4 – You fire-hose them

Okay, take a deep breath. This one’s a biggie.

Some folks get a little freaked out when they begin charging money or even when they post their first free offer.

So they become like the party hostess who runs around trying so hard to make sure everyone’s having a good time that they drive people away because they’re trying too hard.

Their free offer is 423 pages, plus a workbook, plus an audio and video training, too. They create packages promising you late night calls, early morning calls, their cell phone number – and their first-born.

Two problems here:

First, most people can’t process all of that.  It overwhelms them.  You want to engage with them, not fire-hose them.

The second problem is that you’ll eventually despise your clients if they DO sign up for your program!  You can’t possibly deliver on everything!

Again, we’re dealing with a fear/lack mentality.  You have to take time to think clearly and strategically.   What would most serve people – and what would be do-able for you to deliver on?

Mistake #5 – You wait for them to make the first move

“So, like, just call me if you ever find that you’re ready to, you know, talk about working with me. I’m here anytime.”

Does this sound like you?  (Okay, you can remove the “like” and the “you know.”  You’d never talk like that.)

If so, then it’s no wonder you don’t have clients!

Why is that? Well, your prospects want to know what they should do and when.  You need to learn how to make offers. This doesn’t mean getting pushy or selling hard.

It means you must provide clear instructions for how to become your client.  You must tell your prospect what to do next and when.

NOW YOU!  Are you making any of these five mistakes? And most important… what ONE THING will you change now that you know better?

Christine Kane is the Mentor to People Who are Changing the World. She helps women and men Uplevel their lives, their businesses and their success. Her weekly Uplevel You eZine goes out to over 32,000 subscribers. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can sign up for a FREE subscription at

Top 10 Business Time Wasters for Entrepreneurs

by Christine Kane

When you say “I don’t have enough time!” … are you always telling the truth? (Be honest.)

Is it possible that you DO have enough time – more than enough – but that you’re wasting it on stupid things?

Let’s get brutally clear about what must be removed from your plate. Maybe it’s bad habits. Maybe it’s the little things you do all the time. Maybe it’s a limiting mindset. It doesn’t matter what it is. It matters that you begin with awareness.

Here is my list of top 10 Time Wasters for entrepreneurs who know it’s time to Uplevel their business…

#10 – Bookkeeping

Yes or no:

A] Do you toss your receipts in little piles, telling yourself you’ll get to them soon?

B] Do you announce every April that you’ve got to keep better track of your invoices?

C] Are you considering a QuickBooks course at your local college?

If you answered yes to ANY of these, you need a bookkeeper.

The reason you stink at this stuff is NOT because you’re a procrastinator.  The reason you stink at this stuff is because YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO!    If you were meant to be a bookkeeper, you’d be one!

#9 – Customer service

In the early stages of your business, it’s good to connect with your prospects and clients and directly respond to them.   However, if the routine emails and calls swallow up hours each week, let go and hire someone to take over.

#8 – Running errands

One of my clients is a successful realtor.  Last week, she ran a “quick” errand to put a lock box on the door of a house. With traffic, this errand took 90 minutes.

This is a classic case of:  “By the time I show someone how to do it, I could just do this myself.”


If you do this activity once a week, you just wasted TEN 8-hour days of high ROI work you could be doing each year. Will it take you 10 working days to show someone how to run your errands?

#7 – Housecleaning

The simple act of hiring a housekeeper can save marriages, heal relationships with kids, and make you believe in God.  That’s all.

#6 – Blame

Blaming anyone (including yourself!) for your results or your actions is pointless.  Instead, take your power back and own your results.  Create a weekly habit of getting back on track with your priorities and your focus. We all get off track. We all have excuses. Keep up the habit of seeking solutions, not blame.

#5 – Worrying about competitors stealing your content

The days of intellectual property are mostly gone. (And I say this as somebody who has had entire blog posts cut and pasted with a new byline on other websites.)

Here’s what’s truer than theft:

No one can steal your energy.

The people who steal your content crack me up because – try as they might – they can’t steal the energy and intention that is behind the content.  AND, even if they get a client from your content, they most likely wouldn’t be able to deliver on the promise.  Not really.

And besides, your job is to just keep getting ideas and putting them out there. Your loyal fans and readers will come to you when they find someone ripping you off. By that time, you’ll be on to something else.

#4 – Endless alerts

How many alerts are pinging, binging, ringing, blooping, bleeping or vibrating your ass in any given hour? (Or even as you read this.)  Turn them off.  They’re making bad chemicals happen in your brain. They’re distracting your focus. And they are turning you into an anxiety-ridden rat.

#3 – Half-Ass Delegation

Here’s a 7-Act Play in one paragraph:

Hire someone. Be excited. Tell him a few things to do. Get busy the next day. Forget to show him other things to do. Get frustrated because he didn’t do what you wanted. Call friends and complain that you can’t find good help these days.

Try this instead:

When you hire someone, tell him EXACTLY what you want him to do. Lay it out in step-by-step format with desired results and timelines spelled out clearly.  Take time each day to continue the training.  This requires consistent clarity and focus. And it pays off.

#2 — Looking at your unsubscribes


How many times do I have to tell you to stop doing this?

Your unsubscribes are none of your business.  Turn off that alert NOW. Then, hire someone to manage your list and keep an eye on your unsubscribes.

(And yes, she will inform you the day your whole list decides they don’t like you anymore and collectively makes a mass exodus. In the meantime, the three people who unsubscribed this week can go out for cocktails together and talk about you.)

#1 — Taking the word “solo” literally

Solopreneur or solo business owner means that you run your own business. It does NOT mean that you should “go it alone.”

You can’t succeed without support from someone who is already successful at what you want to do.  It’s time to reach out, hire a coach, get a mentor, or surround yourself with other successful entrepreneurs.

Now, share with me!

What are you doing (sometimes or often) that is wasting your time – and when will you stop?

Christine Kane is the Mentor to People Who are Changing the World. She helps women and men Uplevel their lives, their businesses and their success. Her weekly Uplevel You eZine goes out to over 32,000 subscribers. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can sign up for a FREE subscription at

Jennifer Riis-Poulsen CEO of Powerhouse Self-Defense on Women Entrepreneurs Radio™

TOPIC: EMOTIONAL SELF-DEFENSE - Why learning these basic skills NOT ONLY prevent you from becoming a statistic, but will help you build the confidence to succeed!

Jennifer Riis-Poulsen, Founder & CEO of Powerhouse Self-Defense is from London, England, and moved to the USA in 2004. She is a 2nd degree black belt in martial arts and has a Psychology background. Jennifer formed Powerhouse Self-Defense in November 2011 as a response to the ever-increasing statistics on the number of individuals that are physically and emotionally assaulted each year.

She made reducing these statistics a passion and personal goal and has set out to develop a comprehensive personal safety and empowerment program focused on awareness and powerful techniques to build courage and confidence. The curriculum is based on her 12 years of martial arts experience and is designed for all females from 12 years of age and above. Powerhouse Self-Defense became an International Company with the launch of its Program in London, England, in June 2013.

The Powerhouse Self-Defense Mission is to significantly reduce the number of individuals that are physically and emotionally assaulted each year, nationally and globally, by empowering them through its Personal Safety and Empowerment Program. It is also the mission of Powerhouse Self-Defense to keep college campuses safer through its Campus Storm Program.

Date: Wednesday, March 19th
Time: 8:00 pm EDT


The Day I Learned to Start Saying "No"

by Ali Brown

When I started my first business as a marketing communications writer years ago, most of my clients hired me for newsletters, brochures, and sales materials, but I would get the occasional request for something different. At the time I was too naive to consider saying “no” to any project that didn’t fit me perfectly. (Especially when I was living paycheck to paycheck.)

A perfect example of this was when a colleague named Chip asked if I could write a short script for a customer service training video. “Wow,” I said. “Video! That sounds like fun. Sure thing. I’ll take it on!”

Big mistake.

Sure, at first it seemed exciting. But after I got into it, I was miserable. Not only did I spend three times as many hours as I’d planned JUST on figuring out what they wanted, but I honestly didn’t know what I was doing. I’d never written a video script in my life! I thought it would be simple, but it was a whole other world.

This project not only sucked up all my time, taking me away from my best clients, but it also drained my energy and my confidence. Even worse, I couldn’t take on a wonderfully perfect new project that I was offered in the meantime.

I physically felt sick every time I looked at that project folder. I lost sleep worrying that I wasn’t doing a good job on it, and worst of all, my fears were confirmed…

One day Chip left a message on my answering machine that more major revisions were needed. Then, it sounded like he hung up the phone, because there was a soft click. But then I heard him start to talk about me with his partner (obviously unaware that his speaker-phone was still on).

At first I paused the message from playing, because I knew I was not supposed to be privy to this conversation. But I wanted to know the TRUTH, so I listened. My heart sank as I heard things like, “This writer doesn’t know what she’s doing on this… we should have hired a real video writer… I feel bad she’s trying so hard, but this just isn’t getting better.”

I got so ANGRY.

Not at Chip, but at myself.

Here I was… an award-winning writer for marketing communications. Marketing communications! NOT training videos.

So why had I taken on that project?

This is what we call “bright, shiny object syndrome”, and it happens to many entrepreneurs. You see, we love ideas! We enjoy moving from idea to idea, even if what we are doing is working! We get a bit bored with it. And it’s easy to get distracted by something that seems new and exciting.

Especially when you start experiencing success, it’s as if every opportunity in the world starts falling in your lap. You have to become a master of saying “no”. That was very hard for me.

But by sticking with what you KNOW you are good at, you are always confident and calm in your work. You know how to market yourself, and you know who you’re marketing to! (Plus you can charge high rates with confidence.)

So I became very clear at what I’m amazing at, what I offer, who I’m marketing to, and how I want my life to look, so that now, any business or life decision I make is crystal clear. I know exactly what to say “no” to.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This doesn’t mean I don’t accept opportunities that are a stretch for me, or outside my comfort zone! That is different than accepting a project outside of my core strengths completely.

For every “no” you give, a better “yes” will come along. So today, make a list of what you are good at, what you’re confident in doing, what you want to do, and whom you do it for.

QUESTION: What can you say “NO” to today to make room for something better in your life and your business? Have you said NO in the past, and has it led to better opportunities? Please share below.


© 2013 Ali International, LLC

Entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow a profitable business that make a positive impact. Get her FREE CD “Top 10 Success Secrets for Entrepreneurial Women” at

Where Novel Writers Really Get Their Ideas

by Kelli A. Wilkins

Hi Everyone!

As we finish the "Where do you get your ideas?" blog series, here's a short recap.

Previously we learned that ideas are everywhere and story ideas often come from observing something. We also learned how to play the "what if" game to generate ideas, and how to go "in search of" an idea. In this blog, we'll find out how to let ideas come to you.

Ideas are like butterflies…the more you chase after them, the faster they seem to flutter away. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just can't seem to find a good story idea or the plot twist you've been searching for. This is what most people call "writers block" or getting "stuck" on a story. It's a common ailment that happens to every writer, no matter what his or her experience or career level. So, how do you fight this blockage and move on with your story? That's easy. You don't.

Although this may sound contrary to getting your writing completed, every once in a while you have to let ideas come to you. Trying to "force" a story idea or plot element is counterproductive to the creative process. In most cases, it will leave you frustrated and banging your head against your desk. So instead of trying to hunt down the creative muse and make it give you what you're looking for, let go and let the muse come to you.

How? Stop writing and do something else. Go for a walk, do yoga, meditate, take a nap, or listen to soothing music. (If you're very motivated, you can even do housework.) Basically, you want to stop thinking about your writing. By giving your brain a rest and doing something else, you're allowing your subconscious to mull over the problem.

Usually within a few hours (or sometimes overnight) the creative side of your mind will come up with the solution to your writing issue. Sometimes your answer will come to you in a dream. (If it does, be sure to write it down right away!) Giving yourself a break allows your "writing mind" to relax. Once the pressure's off and you've had some down time, you'll feel more energized, motivated, and inspired.

A great way to bring ideas to you is to practice freewriting. Get a piece of paper (or open a blank computer document) and just start writing whatever pops into your head. It can be groups of words, your stream of consciousness, or random thoughts. (You can even write a letter to your muse explaining the writing problem and ask for results.)

Practice freewriting for five minutes (or longer, if you enjoy it). Don't worry if you can't think of anything to write-you're not trying to be creative or coherent, you're just trying to let your mind relax.

If you get stuck, try these prompts:

"Today is… (day of the week) and I am… (wherever you are) freewriting."
"Yesterday I… (fill in with what you did, where you went, or what you ate)."
"I really like… (let your mind wander and write whatever you feel like)."
"I can't stand… (rant and rave here - nobody needs to see it!)"
"Now I am doing freewriting and…" (fill in with whatever comes to mind, even if you write
"nothing, nothing, nothing" or "blah blah blah" for five minutes).

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to let ideas come to you. No matter what you're writing, or how you go about finding ideas for your stories, you can't force inspiration to appear-you have to allow it to gently flow to you. Once you have the idea, run with it and see where it leads you.

I hope you enjoyed this "inside look" on where writers really get their ideas. Every short story, magazine article, and novel starts off with a spark of an idea. But once a writer has the idea, he or she puts a personal spin on it and makes it his or her own. Put fifty writers in a room and give them the same idea (woman walking down the street carrying a suitcase) and they'll come up with fifty (or more) different stories. Ideas start a story; it's the author's plot, characterization, dialogue, tone, and voice that bring it to life.

Happy Reading & Writing!
Kelli A. Wilkins

Read previous posts in the "Writing Tips for Everyone" series:

Secrets of Success blog

Always Wanted to Write a Novel? Writing Tips for Everyone

Author Deborah A Bailey fiction site

Where Writers Really Get Their Ideas - Part 3

Where Writers Really Get Their Ideas - Part 2

Where Writers Really Get Their Ideas - Part 1

Kelli A. Wilkins divides her time between writing romance and horror. Her romances vary in genre and range from sensual to super-sizzling hot. Kelli invites readers to visit her website and blog to catch up on all her writings.

Cash Flow Mentor Vanessa Simpkins on Women Entrepreneurs Radio™

Vanessa Simpkins is a sky rocket your confidence & cash flow mentor, speaker and author of “From Bankrupt to $900 a Day Selling Mops.: Revealed: Marketing, Sales & Mindset Tips Every Successful Entrepreneur Needs to Know.” Creator of the “Transformational Breakthrough Summit” Vanessa helps heart centered entrepreneurs breakthrough their inner blocks, skyrocket their confidence and put proven systems in place to attract more clients and make more money doing what they love.

Once a struggling holistic practitioner, stuck in a bad relationship declaring bankruptcy, she is now on a mission to help entrepreneurs break free from controlling situations, relationships and self imposed limitations of the mind so they can TAKE their power Back & THRIVE!

She’s been featured in “Motivated Magazine”, “Today’s Business Women Magazine”, worked alongside personal development experts like Joe Vitale from the hit Movie “The Secret” & Marci Shimoff from “Happy for No Reason” and has also spoken at the TED EX “Let’s Spread Success” event in Montreal.

To Find out more about her workshops in Canada and Costa Rica and to get your free audio “5 of the Biggest Money, Mindset & Power Leaks Entrepreneurs Make and How to Avoid Them” visit: and connect with us on Facebook for daily inspiration, more great tips & resources

Date: Wednesday, March 12th
Time: 8:00 pm EDT


4 Reasons Why Women Have a Natural Ability to Learn Languages

by Tracey Chandler

An interesting infographic, generated by Engineering Degree, focuses on data which shows how women, in general, lose confidence in their abilities with age.

In primary school, girls outperform boys in both math and science classes and studies prove that girls tend to have a higher IQ in their early years. As time goes by, confidence in their abilities begins to dwindle and, despite early promise, women tend to shy away from professions which relate to math and science.

However, one area in which women can, and really do, excel in is language learning. The question is… why?

1. Language protein in women

The average woman is supposed to use approximately 20,000 words a day, whilst the average man only uses approximately 7,000 words a day. One of the most recent studies into why this gender difference exists relates was conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the United States. The results of the study revealed that female brains have higher levels of FOXP2, a language protein which induces women into talking more at length.

The more that women talk, the more opportunities they have to practice conversing in a foreign tongue. This is believed to be one of the main reasons why women excel in language learning and one of the main reasons why more female teenagers opt to study foreign languages at school.

2. Open to new language learning techniques

Anne Merritt, in a recent feature for The Telegraph UK, discusses the importance of employing a variety of study methods when learning a foreign language. According to Merritt's research, women are more prone to practising a wide range of language learning study techniques, which also helps to encourage them into taking a holistic approach to language learning and to keep boredom at bay.

Various studies over the past five years have shown that, even from early on in life, boys/men need to be taught both visually and orally in order to excel in the learning of languages. Girls/women, on the other hand, are able to learn in any kind of environment, which leaves them free to experiment more with learning methods.

3. Admitting limits and asking for help

In a study conducted by Professor Adrian Furnham, of University College London, men tend to overstate how intelligent they are, while women tend to underestimate theirs. The natural tendency towards underestimation means women are more likely to admit when they're unsure about something; they're more likely to ask for help. It could be argued that women are more comfortable at admitting their limits than men are and that this is why it's easier for them to learn a foreign language at a quicker rate too.

4. Women travel more on their own

It's a fact that more and more women are now traveling on their own. Numbers grow annually. Female solo travel is becoming really trendy, according to the Travel Industry Association in the US.

The US Census Bureau reports that 28% of married women made more than their husbands in 2011 (and that this revealed a 17.8% increase on the same from 1987). The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reveals that salaries for female college graduates in the US have increased by 31% since 1987, whereas salaries for male college graduates during the same period have only increased by 16%. Therefore, women have the money to be able to travel and it appears that they have the interest too.

The more women traveling alone, the more time they have to practice conversing in foreign languages. This practice time is crucial and one of the main reasons why women seem to have a natural ability for learning languages.

But what if gender has nothing to do with it?

It's important to highlight the fact that many studies reveal that language learning is affected by all kinds of factors, not just gender. Age, genes, the size of particular areas of the brain and social/cultural contexts, are all elements which can affect a person's ability to be able to learn a language, to learn it quickly and to learn it well.

However, the scientific research which puts female language learners just a few steps ahead of their male counterparts is well-documented and just as valid. Women, in general, have a don for learning languages. It's about time more of us put that down to good use.

Tracey Chandler represents Language Trainers, which provides individually-tailored language training on a one-on-one or small group basis worldwide.

*This is a sponsored post (does not contain affiliate links). For more information about sponsored posts, see the blog disclaimer statement.* 

Your Offer Is Like Dinner

by Lisa Sasevich

If you want prospective clients to be hungry for your offer, you want to think about dinner yourself. That meal generally includes a main dish, a couple of side dishes and a dessert. Right?

Well, apply all that to your Irresistible Offer when you’re structuring it, and you will have a delicious combination.

Here’s what I mean:

The Main Dish
The main dish of your Irresistible Offer is the primary product or service that provides the transformation for your client. This is your weekend workshop or one-on-one coaching package or your product or program.

Keep your main dish focused around one central outcome or transformation. You may have multiple talents, which is great, but your offer should be focused around one.

The Side Dishes
The sweet potatoes and fresh, slightly crunchy asparagus of your offer are the bonuses. These are products and services that you offer free when people invest in the main dish. They are easy to create and ideally cost you very little, but they have a high perceived value.

They are something the client would have paid for anyway, and they’re tightly related to the main dish. In fact, your best bonus is probably already in your offer. For example, when I first started teaching the Speak-to-Sell Bootcamp, one of the later modules was how to get booked, and it was gold. I’ve spoken on some big stages, and I could have done a $1,000 package just on getting booked. But during the course, we focused so hard on getting them ready with their Irresistible Offer and Signature Talk, that I never really had the time I needed to do it justice. So, I took getting booked out of the main dish and made it a red-hot bonus for the first X number of people. Now, whenever I offer my Get Booked Toolkit, people race to the back of the room to get it!

Make it easy for people to make an on-the-spot decision by keeping your offer clear and simple.


The dessert of your meal is a special form of bonus that I call a “little soldier.”

Also easy and inexpensive to produce, little soldiers are your “feet on the street,” promoting you when you’re not around. You bundle these CDs, free reports, discount tickets, or books in your package for your new client to pass along to a friend.

There’s no better promoter for you than someone who’s invested in your work. So putting something in their hands to work for you can be golden.

For example, years ago when I was leading the course on understanding men, the three-day weekend workshop was our main dish. The bonus was three follow-up Q&A group calls with the leader. And the little soldier was a CD of the introductory presentation they came to along with “a gift for their girlfriend” -- a $100 gift certificate for a friend to take the course.

That little soldier was so popular our phone rang off the hook!

Keep it Simple...and Delicious
The bottom line is you want to keep your offer clear and simple so that people have what they need to make an on-the-spot decision.

Start with your scrumptious main dish, add no more than three mouth-watering bonuses and a little soldier, and your audience will clamor for the meal and come back to you for seconds again and again.

If you love what you do, but hate the "sales part," sales conversion expert Lisa Sasevich will show you simple, quick and easy ways to boost sales without spending a dime...and without being salesy. Get your FREE e-course and Sales Nuggets now at

International Women's Day 2014

International Women's Day 2014 Theme: INSPIRING CHANGE

Women's equality has made positive gains but the world is still unequal. International Women's Day celebrates the social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing world attention on areas requiring further action.

Inspiring Change is the 2014 theme for the global hub and encourages advocacy for women's advancement everywhere in every way. It calls for challenging the status quo for women's equality and vigilance inspiring positive change.

The vast array of communication channels, supportive spokespeople, equality research, campaigns and corporate responsibility initiatives means everyone can be an advocate inspiring change for women's advancement.

Each year International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. The first International Women's Day was held in 1911. Thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Organisations, governments, charities, educational institutions, women's groups, corporations and the media celebrate the day.

International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.

For many years the United Nations has held an annual IWD conference to coordinate international efforts for women's rights and participation in social, political and economic processes. 1975 was designated as 'International Women's Year' by the United Nations. Women's organisations and governments around the world have also observed IWD annually on 8 March by holding large-scale events that honour women's advancement and while diligently reminding of the continued vigilance and action required to ensure that women's equality is gained and maintained in all aspects of life.

IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother's Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.

Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women's craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.

-from the International Women's Day website

Author Q&A: Creating Social Value: A Guide for Leaders and Change Makers

Creating Social Value: A Guide for Leaders and Change Makers by Deborah Leipziger and Cheryl Kiser, with J. Janelle Shubert, focuses on the motivations and preoccupations of entrepreneurial leaders as they look to activate change within their companies, in their sectors, value chains and even through co-creating partnerships with their competitors.

This book sets out a manifesto for Social Value Creation, defining it as a strategy that combines a unique set of corporate assets (including innovation capacities, marketing skills, managerial acumen, employee engagement, scale) in collaboration with the assets of other sectors and firms to co-create breakthrough solutions to complex economic, social and environmental issues that impact the sustainability of both business and society.

Co-author Deborah Leipziger is stopping by the blog to share some insights from the new book.

Deb Bailey: Thanks for joining me today. What is your book about? 

Deborah Leipziger: Our book is a guide for business leaders, business students, and entrepreneurs inside companies who are seeking to create economic and social value simultaneously. We profile business leaders, entrepreneurs, and change agents such as Lynnette McIntire from UPS and Dave Stangis from Campbell Soup Company who are creating social and economic value.  This book is about a new type of leadership.  Entrepreneurial leadership.

Deb: And that certainly aligns with the focus on entrepreneurship these days.  Who do you think will benefit most from reading your book?

Deborah: Business leaders and managers will benefit from the book, as will MBA students. Representatives from civil society and government will also benefit from looking at how they can help promote social value creation, and how companies can play a role in combatting homelessness, poverty, climate change, obesity and a wide range of other social problems. 

Deb: What are a few qualities of the new entrepreneurial leader?

Deborah: In a world characterized by rapid change and uncertainty, leaders are required to be "cognitively ambidextrous" or able to shift between traditional business logic (choosing actions based on analysis of known trends) and "creation logic" (taking action despite considerable unknowns).

Our book describes many of the types of leadership skills needed to create social value: entrepreneurial leaders are often boundary spanners, pushing the boundaries of what is possible.  Bernie Glassman and Mike Brady of Greyston Bakery and Eric Hudson of Preserve are creating new business models and partnerships.

Other key qualities of entrepreneurial leaders include: visionary thinking, peripheral vision, personal maturity, optimistic commitment, strategic influence, systems thinking, and collaborative networking. The book provides examples of how various entrepreneurs demonstrate these traits.

Deb: How do you define social value? Why do you think it's important?

Deborah: Social value creation takes many forms. It involves companies examining how they might design products or services that meet social needs and deliver value to society.  Verizon creates social value by creating new services to promote access to telemedicine and be developing technologies that make companies more energy efficient.    

Our book also provides a case study on Roshan, the Afghan telecommunications company, which is creating physical infrastructure such as building roads, airports and other physical networks. Roshan is an example of a company with nation-building projects.  

Social value creation can involve reimagining the purpose of the business, as Ford has done to consider how it can provide mobility solutions, not just manufacture cars.

Business must address the social and environmental imperatives of our time. The private sector can use its core competencies to address the needs of society and to show their relevance in a world which is increasingly fractured and where the impact of climate change, water shortage and pollution, will affect companies and all of society. There is no alternative.

Deb: Any particular recommendation for women entrepreneurs?

Deborah: We were fortunate to interview several women entrepreneurs:
Lynnette McIntire, the former head of Sustainability at UPS
Rachel Weeks, founder of School House
Ariel Hauptman, head of business development at Greyston

Promoting social value is a way to gain visibility. Women leaders are well suited to promote social value creation.

Deb: What do you want readers to come away with?

Deborah: We want to inspire business leaders and students to take action to address the pressing challenges of our time: climate change, poverty, income inequality, and human rights - to name just a few. The Lewis Institute at Babson will continue to share examples of innovative leadership.

We also want to share a new vocabulary of leadership and to show how successful entrepreneurs on the inside are using language to enroll employees and activate change.

We want readers to recognize that creating economic value alongside social value provides rich market opportunities for business to address societal dilemmas as part of its business strategy and to move beyond Corporate Social Responsibility and towards Corporate Social Relevance.

Deb: So, what inspires you to do the work that you do?

Deborah: Many things inspire me -- including my students and my daughters. We need to ensure that the next generation is able to access clean water and air and have good opportunities. We need to address gender inequality and income inequality.  I recently read Martin Luther King's letter from the Birmingham Jail. He could have written it yesterday, describing the inequality that exists for women and for LGBT. Human Rights is a battle that we need to continue to wage. From his jail cell in Birmingham, Martin Luther King wrote:

"..I am cognizant of the inter-relatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta (or Boston) and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham (or Bangladesh). Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly…"  

Deb: Where can readers find your book?

Deborah: Creating Social Value: A Guide for Leaders and Change Makers is available on Amazon and on the publisher's website:

Deb: Thanks again for sharing information about your book! Where can we find your online?

Deborah: Thanks for inviting me. Here are the websites:

To learn more about Babson and the Lewis Institute:

For Babson's Social Innovation Lab:

For co-author Deborah Leipziger:

Co-author bio: Deborah Leipziger is an author, consultant, and professor in the field of social value creation. She is a Senior Fellow at the Lewis Institute at Babson and serves as Adjunct Faculty at the Simmons School of Management. She advises companies around the world on human rights issues and played a key role in the development of several key standards, including Social Accountability 8000.  She is the author of several key books in the field of CSR and Sustainability, including The Corporate Responsibility Code Book.

Book Publishing & Marketing Expert Linda Leon on Women Entrepreneurs Radio™

Linda Leon is the owner of This is a book publication, marketing, author support and visual productions company.

She worked in management and as a producer in broadcast television. This industry has given her a spectrum of media skills from writing to producing television and radio programs. Linda’s television and radio work over the years has gone international and has reached over 80 million households.

She is also a professional ghostwriter, author, and was a columnist for United Press International for 4 years. She is a prolific writer with hundreds of posts on line. Her podcast Book That Author that aired on Blog Talk Radio accumulating over 20,000. Her most recent books are Publishing and Publicity for Smart People and Rock Star Marketing for the Emerging Author. Linda’s greatest joy in life is serving God and being a wonderful wife and awesome mother.

Date: Monday, March 5th
Time: 8:00 pm EST


Woman on Top: When Male Employees Work for Female Bosses

by Sarah Brooks

While there may be some men clinging to insecurities about working for female entrepreneurs, the playing field has shifted enough that most men are probably comfortable assuming the role.  In fact, there is good reason to believe some men are enamored of the prospect.  After all, working for a woman furnishes serious insight into the inner workings of her mind, perhaps enlightening men in search of answers about what makes women tick.

Just Like Home

Single men seeking to break-in to the relationship game have big-time advantages working for women.  Like flies on the wall, they enjoy access to the inner sanctum - privy to areas most men would pay to observe.  On the other hand, married and otherwise committed men have no shortage of access in their own lives; creating an entirely different relationship with their female bosses.

The interpersonal dynamic shared between men and women is old hat for married and co-inhabiting couples, so naturally it translates to the workplace, where men work for women.  For some men, working for aggressive women calling the shots is all too familiar - mimicking the pecking order within their own households.  This could be seen as an advantage for female bosses, who supervise a workforce accustomed to being guided by women.  On the other hand, familiarity breeds contempt, so relationship issues at home might rub-off on interactions at work.

Learn from Each Other

Creativity and innovation rely on varied perspectives.  The ability to "think outside the box" is heightened by diverse work relationships, where staffers are exposed to many different viewpoints.  Men and women working together to solve problems are more effective than segregated groups; especially when women lead projects playing to their strengths.

Regardless of your gender, you may possess an independent personality type; prompting you to see things in black and white terms - as they relate to your personal angle.  For female leaders, supervising men helps them find common ground outside of gender; spurring productivity based on mutual respect.  Even when both are highly independent, deferring to female bosses helps men control bullying tendencies and advantages based on physical size and strength.

Nurturing Relationships

Business relationships cross stereotypical boundaries, so generalizations only apply to a certain point.  Across society, through maternal associations, women are characterized as the more nurturing gender, when compared to men.  While men are still capable of compassion and sensitivity, it is seen as a natural extension of women's personalities; whereas men are seen to work harder expressing their emotions.  Working under a female boss helps men get in touch with their feelings - even without formal sensitivity training.  Such relationships yield large dividends in terms of productivity, as female bosses and their male subordinates each fulfill vital personal developmental needs.

Not every man is excited to work under a female boss, but most take it in stride.  In reality, both members benefit from work relationships where women guide men; causing some male employees to embrace the paradigm with enthusiasm.

In the end, interpersonal chemistry crosses gender barriers, so it is more about the people involved that the arrangement of their chromosomes. 

About the Author: This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to brooks.sarah23 @

Back to Top