50 Things I’m Grateful For, Fall 2017 Edition

When I started my business in 2012, I knew that gratitude and helping others would play a large part. Each year, I write down 50 things I’m grateful for as a reminder to not take any blessings for granted, large or small. Show your gratitude by sharing your list (of any size) in the comments or linking to your own blog post.

Yours truly at Kent State Alumni Association's National Day of Service 2015

Preparing garden beds for future vegetables during my alumni association’s National Day of Service in 2015. Do I have a future as a back model?


50 Things I’m Grateful For, Fall 2017 Edition

  • Golden retrievers and four-legged furry friends of all kinds
  • Espresso blend dark roast coffee
  • Quiet (a lack of noise and the book)
  • Soothing sounds of nature
  • A good laugh
  • Firefighters, EMS professionals, police officers and first responders
  • The feeling of crossing the finish line
  • Reading the paper while sipping a latte
  • Our wounded veterans and those who never make it home
  • Cracking open a peanut at the ballgame
  • Fireworks
  • Firetrucks in a parade
  • Fourth of July
  • Sending a card to celebrate, console, thank or say hello
  • Lunch with friends
  • Getting lost in a good book
  • A Swenson’s Salad Boy burger
  • My family’s health and happiness
  • Live music on a summer night, cold brew in hand
  • Solving a crossword puzzle over coffee
  • The small business journey
  • A sunset over water
  • A handwritten note
  • The sun shining on my face during a trail run
  • That sibling bond
We're celebrating 5 years in business!

CCC turned five in May!

  • CCC’s 5th anniversary
  • A day or night at the ballpark
  • The feel of a felt tip pen on paper
  • Lunch on a patio under blue, clear skies
  • Waving to the train conductor on a run through the Summit Metro Parks
  • Enjoying the beauty of nature in the middle of the city
  • Bright ideas and brainstorming sessions
  • The ability to unplug (occasionally)
  • Good advice
  • My night owl nature
  • A beautiful fall day
  • Helping clients achieve success
  • Small wins
  • Contributing to something bigger than myself
  • Accomplishing something I’ve worked hard for
  • A conversation with a longtime friend
  • Hitting the trails
  • Exploring Main Street in Park City, Utah
  • Talking shop with fellow marketing professionals & small business owners
  • Learning

 

  • A place to call home
  • The ability to donate platelets to help others
  • When social media is used for good
  • Writing, writing, writing (and reading)
  • Strong women, in fiction and real life

There’s so much in life to be grateful for. What’s on your list?

Cheers,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about gratitude, hopes and dreams, your marketing needs or otherwise):

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4 Ways Running Can Help You Run A Business

Are you a runner or is shopping your cardio? 😉

The author finishing a 5k

I started running later in life (i.e. post-school), and I’m so glad I did. Besides being excellent exercise, it’s fun to be a part of such a wonderful community. The running community embraces runners of all capabilities and provides support in the form of running partners, groups and tips from more experienced runners.

A Supportive Community 

A supportive community is one way that running translates to running a business. As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you’re probably working alone. Tapping into the entrepreneurial community can help you grow and manage your business. Whether you frequent a co-working space or join an online community, fellow small business owners can give you advice, help you brainstorm ideas and offer support from someone who understands what you’re experiencing.

Related: Is collaboration the new competition?

Long-Term Plan

Runners tend to have a long-term plan, incorporating when they’re competing in races, rest days and specific things they’re working on (i.e. a stronger kick, running technique). Small business owners need to plan as well, so they can run their business effectively and look for growth opportunities. Looking at your bigger picture helps when making decisions about what opportunities to pursue and which areas to focus on at specific times. Of course the best plans should always be adjustable.

Rest Days / Down Time

As noted above, part of a runner’s long-term plan is incorporating rest days. They’re vital to performing well, in running and business. Small business owners tend to wear a lot of hats, which can make it difficult to unplug. It’s important to your long-term outlook (and health) that you take time for yourself so you can be at your best when focusing on your business. Don’t burn yourself out and short circuit your business before you’re able to achieve your dreams. Running a business is a marathon, not a sprint.

Related: How to Take a Break from Technology Without Moving to the Woods

Aha Moments 

When I run, I listen to my tunes and try to empty my mind (or think of inspirational movie scenes if I need an extra boost to reach the top of the hill). I’m not thinking about customers, business issues or other important topics. That’s probably why I come up with some of my best ideas or feel confident making a decision I’ve been thinking about after a run. The combination of physical activity, clearing my mind and the euphoria of finishing my run seems to spark creativity and clarify my decision-making process. The next time you’re struggling with a business decision or client project, go for a run. It may spark an ‘aha moment!’

Running translates well to running a business on several fronts. Runners can draw inspiration and insight from their hobby while they tackle the tough task of running a business. Not a runner? It’s never too late to lace ’em up and hit the pavement or trails. Couch to 5k can help you get started, or find a running community to join. You’ll find the same support, camaraderie and inspiration as you find in your entrepreneurial or small business community.

Happy running (a business)!

Just a (small biz owner &) runner from Akron,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about small business life, running, your marketing needs or otherwise):

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Prewriting: A Precursor To Rad Writing

As I was writing my last post about the importance of revising and editing your work, it dawned on me that many people who are required to write today (blogs, social media, company newsletters, etc.) may not have much experience with the writing process. So I decided to blog about it to explain each step’s importance and throw in some insight along the way.

pre·writ·ing (noun): the creation and arrangement of ideas before writing; step one of the writing process

Do you free write?

Free writing — and espresso — help me get the creative juices flowing.


Think before you write
. Whether you jot down a brief outline in your notebook, draw comprehensive diagrams or kick around a few ideas in your head, you’re performing the first step in the writing process. You may think prewriting is prehistoric (3rd grade, anyone?), but let’s compare. Any professional painter will tell you to spend at least as much time preparing to paint as painting itself. Otherwise, you won’t see professional results.

The same holds true for writing. If you want to write something worth reading, take the time to prepare. Your prep work will reflect the scope of your project (novel vs. blog post) and your comfort level. Some people are comfortable mentally prepping before blogging while others will want a more detailed outline in print. Either way works, as long as it works for you.

The prewriting part of the process may not occur behind a desk or even soaking up the rays on a patio with your laptop. In fact, physical activity is a great way to spur ideas and think about what you want to write. Or maybe you prefer a luxurious bubble bath with a good book or chatting with a friend over coffee. It doesn’t matter where the light bulb goes off, as long as it does. (I like confiding in a pink fuzzy tennis ball, but that’s just me.)

“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you’ve got something to say.”  -F. Scott Fitzgerald

And prewriting is the time to figure out that something, not the writing phase.

FREE Download –> The Power of the Pen: 5 Steps to Writing That Produces Results

Post Script to Prewriting

Do you prewrite?

How do you prewrite (mentally, outlining, diagramming, etc.)?

Anything you’d like to add about the prewriting process?

If you have any writing-related questions, please ask. Or we can handle all of your writing needs so you can focus on saving the world before bedtime.

Cheers,
Jaime

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Writer’s Block: 4 Ways You Can Break Through the Wall

You sit down at your computer to write an inspiring blog post and you get nothing. Maybe it takes the form of a brick wall or just an expansive black void. Everyone suffers from writer’s block from time to time, but how do you break through it to produce meaningful content?

Blinded by the beauty of nature this afternoon. #nature #hiking

A post shared by Jaime Shine (@jaimeshine) on

Current Events: What’s going on in the world right now? It’s so important to be up on current events, not only to make small talk with potential customers and partners, but also so you can tap the pulse of the world, your country, your industry or your city in your blog. It may surprise you how often there’s a connection between what’s going on in the outside world and what you do. For example: Where Has All of the Good Journalism Gone? | The Olympics: A Global Brand (Kind Of)

Your Story: Your journey on the road of owning a business (or excelling in your industry) shouldn’t be shared only during networking events and hostage situations (kidding on that last one). Talk about memorable moments or how you handled difficult situations. People want to hear from people who have lived through similar experiences. Your personal observations can help others navigate through chaotic moments. For example: Jumping Off A Cliff: My 1st Year As An Entrepreneur | An Omnipresent View? The Life of a Small Business Owner

Your Customers: While you’re answering your customers’ questions, jot them down. Chances are that other people have the same questions. Sometimes when a client asks me a question, I actually think, ‘there’s a blog post in there!’ Don’t be afraid to talk about successful case studies either, especially unique ones. Of course, you should make sure your client’s comfortable with using its name or just talk in generalities if you’re not comfortable doing that. For example: Get Social: 4 Easy Ways to Join the Conversation | Should You Slim Down (on Social Media)?

Your Interests: Have you watched an intriguing movie lately? Attended a thought-provoking lecture? Read an inspiring book? Talk about it. Tell your audience why it affected you and how you’re using the experience in your professional life. You may be surprised at how your everyday life spills over into your business. Trust me, I didn’t set out making leg lamp cookies to learn about my business, but I did.

Your Inspiration: I wanted to be two people when I grew up: MacGyver and Ricardo Tubbs. Either that, or join the A-Team. What does that have to do with your business? Everything. I shared with my readers how MacGyver can inspire their marketing efforts and how to model your team after the best there ever was, the A-Team. Oh, and don’t forget about how Elvis can inspire your success. Big fan here! Use your inspirations to inspire others. You never know what will cause that ‘ah ha’ moment in someone else.

Your Turn

How do you beat writer’s block?

What other writing prompts have you used to break through the wall?

What’s your favorite blog post where someone tied in an unexpected subject to business?

Black belt (in beating writer’s block),
Jaime

Break through: join the conversation with CCC. 
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Free Your Mind and The Productivity Will Follow

One of my favorite college classes was Business Writing. While it was a morning class (night owl here), we were so productive in that hour and fifteen minute time frame. Why? Free writes.

Do you free write?

Free writing — and espresso — help me get the creative juices flowing.

Each class, we’d arrive and sit down at a computer. The professor (who was another reason that class was so productive) would give us a topic, seemingly at random. We’d have 15 minutes to write on that topic, whether it be our desired superpower or a special memory from our childhood. No matter the topic, the free writes produced the desired results — getting our creative juices flowing.

Let’s be honest. College students aren’t known for being morning people and may party more than most. But the simple act of free writing helped us wake up, start thinking and made the rest of the class more productive.

Do you free write?

Sometimes I’ll look back through my college papers, and I always enjoy re-reading the free writes from this class. I’m going to begin incorporating these back into my routine to help break through writer’s block and get my mind going when it’s just one of those days.

Here’s your free write topic: What superpower would you choose? Why? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!

Cheers,
Jaime

Connect with CCC for free flowing fun (and helpful tips too)!
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It’s All About Perspective

You’re having a heated discussion with a client, your boss or a co-worker, and you absolutely know that you’re right and they’re wrong. How can they not see it?

wpid-20140527_114816.jpg

An office view… from the 6th floor. You probably wouldn’t notice the patterns on the carpet if you were walking on it. It’s for those with a bird’s eye view.

It’s funny. Situations (and the world, for that matter) seem so black and white until you change your perspective or look at it from someone else’s point of view. Remember, there’s always two (and sometimes more) points of view on every matter.

You may think your boss or a client is so difficult to work with until you become a boss or a client. Suddenly, some of their actions and thought processes begin to make sense (and sometimes they’re just difficult to work with).

Changing your perspective isn’t always about getting along with someone. Have you ever been struggling with writer’s block or stumped for a solution to a complex problem? Change your perspective… literally. If you work in a cubicle at a corporate office, duck into a conference room. If you work from a home office, head to a coffee shop. If you’re sitting in a chair, try standing or sitting on the floor. It may sound strange, but changing your perspective can inspire fresh ideas, solutions and results.

So the next time you’re struggling with a situation, change your perspective. It could change everything. 

What’s your perspective?

How have you changed your perspective to solve a problem?

How can you change your perspective (view point, surroundings, etc.) in the future to deal with a difficult situation?

Want another perspective? Check out this awesome post on the subject by Lance Wyllie.

p.s. I kicked this post around in my head for a few hours until I took my laptop out to my back patio. A cool breeze, sunshine and a green smoothie made the words flow.

Listening to the birds chirp,
Jaime

Connect with CCC on social. We’d love to hear your perspective!  
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Your Comfort Zone: Where the Magic Happens

Your Comfort Zone: Where the Magic Happens

“Your comfort zone, where the magic happens” by oklanica via CC2.0

We’ve all seen this picture before, and I get the message. Sometimes you have to do things in life and business that make you uncomfortable in order to succeed. But if you’re uncomfortable day in and day out in your normal environment, are you really going to accomplish much?

Here’s my advice: get in your comfort zone. Find out what makes you productive.

Are you distracted in a condo cube environment? Wear headphones or ear plugs. Do you get brilliant ideas outside of the office? Go for a run or head for a coffee shop for lunch. Early riser or certified night owl? Talk to your boss about adjusting your hours or allowing you to handle certain tasks at home.

We all have preconceived notions about how business is supposed to work. Sometimes these long-held beliefs actually make us less productive, less efficient and more frustrated.

So go ahead… think outside the box to find your comfort zone. Hey, it’s where the magic happens.

How do you get in your comfort zone?
In my comfort zone (blogging at 12:30am),
Jaime

Connect with CCC: we’re in your comfort zone! 
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Wilson: Friend, Confidant & Idea Man

As I’ve noted before, I like to get moving when I’m trying to think,  brainstorm or solve a problem. It just works for me and apparently I’m not alone, as I’ve seen this tactic cited in various business and news publications.

Related reading: Need an Idea? Just Walk Away…

Granted I’m an active person and sometimes need to dispel a little extra energy, so sitting behind a desk just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes I’ll hit the trails for a blood-pumping run or a quiet yet vigorous hike, where I’m always inspired by the sheer beauty of nature.

Hocking Hills Resevoir

The beauty of nature inspires me.

On other days, I’m content to take a brisk walk around my neighborhood, through the park, soaking up the sunshine, to get the ideas flowing. That’s when Wilson joins me.

Wilson -- my idea generator

Meet Wilson, my friend, confidant & idea man.

Wilson is my friend, confidant and idea man. I’ve hashed out many a good plan bouncing Wilson while traversing the streets of my neighborhood. I’ve made decisions, outlined blog posts and constructed marketing plans for clients with him by my side. For some reason, he inspires ideas within me. Perhaps it’s the added activity of bouncing the ball or the rhythmic feel of the worn, fuzzy surface hitting my hand. Whatever it is, it works.

Yes, Wilson is a pink, fuzzy tennis ball. On a whim, I picked up a tube of tennis balls on clearance at Target a few years ago. (Hence, the pink.) I don’t own a tennis racquet, so clearly that wasn’t the plan. I just knew when I looked at that tube on the shelf that I needed to take Wilson (and his bros) home. Who knew?

I’m curious… what unexpected item or situation sparks your genius? Are you a mover and shaker or do you like to meditate and chill out? Do you have a lucky charm that you always take to presentations or always drink the same tea while writing? Do you hit the cinema or catch a poetry reading when you need to crank up the old brain?

What inspires you?

Cheers,
Jaime

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Need an Idea? Just Walk Away…

Are you trying to come up with a creative idea that’s eluding you? Whether it’s a great idea for an article, the basis for a new campaign or some way to improve a current situation, it can be frustrating to come up with nothing. But don’t let frustration get the best of you! Following are some tips on inspiring some creativity in your life:

–> As the title of this post implies, walk away! Sometimes the best ideas come to us when we’re doing something completely unrelated to the task at hand. Go see a movie, spend time with family or friends or have fun with a hobby you enjoy.

–> Have a brainstorming session. No, you shouldn’t have left these powerful pow-wows behind in college. Write down every idea; nothing is too silly or worth skipping over. Giant sticky notes to stick to walls are great, but that could just be my affinity for sticky notes. If you don’t have anyone near to bounce ideas off of, take advantage of social media. Hold a chat on Twitter (use a hash tag to follow your conversation) or take advantage of the group capabilities on Google+.

–>Get physical. Go for a walk, run or bike ride, even for a short duration. Stuck at work? Take a walk up and down the stairs or around the parking lot. Physical activity engages our brains and can help the juices flow.

–> Write it down. Yes, I can be old fashioned when it comes to certain things. However, paper still serves a purpose in this digital age. The power of putting pen (or pencil, crayon or marker) to paper can do wonders compared to being overwhelmed by a blinking cursor on a blank screen.

–> Embrace failure. Creative people aren’t necessarily geniuses; they just keep trying. Most great inventions came after thousands upon thousands of failures. To keep this in mind, remember this great quote. “Accept failure. Enjoy it, even. Embrace the suck, for the suck is part of the process.” –A.J. Jacobs

–> Look at the challenge from a different point of view — literally or figuratively. Sit on the floor or look out your window. Ask yourself how others view the situation. Remember, there’s at least two sides to every issue.

I hope one or more of these tips help you the next time you’re in a creative bind. Or do you have a tried-and-true solution that you turn to when the creative wheels are stuck? If so, I’d love to hear it! Please let me know in the comments section. I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas!

Cheers,
Jaime