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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5 Years In: Life as a Small Business Owner

Something crazy happened this week: CCC celebrated its 5th anniversary. In the midst of client projects and deadlines, I almost missed it — which is so appropriate. It was just another day in what has become my life as a small business owner.

We're celebrating 5 years in business!

When I started this journey, I never thought I’d get here. Sure, I made plans and thought about where I — and my business — would be in five years, but to be honest, none of it was real. There was too much treading water just trying to stay afloat.

Looking back, I’ve learned a few things and will continue to do so every day. That’s part of the process, one that I enjoy.

Here are five lessons I’ve learned in five years as a small business owner:

  • This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done — and my greatest accomplishment (to date). Finishing my first half-marathon is a close second, but the daily grind of starting and building my own business has permanently changed me. It’s challenged me beyond my wildest dreams, and shown me what I’m capable of. You can read and plan all you want (and you should), but until you jump in, it’s hard to imagine.

An Omnipresent View? The Life of a Small Business Owner

  • You have to learn to say no. Your time is your most valuable commodity, especially because you probably won’t have the money to hire help when you start out. It’s not about missing opportunities or being afraid to take chances; it’s about taking control of your time and your business. Saying yes to everything and everyone will leave you burnt out and likely out of business.

The Power of Saying ‘No’

  • Enjoy the everyday moments. Take time to sip a latte on a patio on a beautiful spring day while brainstorming a blog post or contemplating future business decisions. It may be tough for you to take time off from your business for a long time, so enjoy these moments that relieve stress and sustain you for another day.

Celebrate the Magic in Everyday Moments

  • Be honest — with your clients, prospects and yourself. It may be uncomfortable, but it will benefit all involved in the long run. As difficult as some situations may be, try to step back and take a look at the bigger picture. If you’re not best suited to help a prospect, refer him to another company. If you’re continually running into issues with a client, have an honest (yet professional) conversation. It will either spur changes or an end to the relationship, which may be for the best. Long-term, mutually beneficial relationships cannot be built on lies and half-truths — in business or in life.

A Look Back: 4 Lessons Learned in 4 Years as an Entrepreneur

  • Stay true to why you started your business. It can be difficult to remember your vision as you get bogged down in day-to-day activity, start to grow or deal with a catastrophe. Whether you create a vision board or have an image burned into your mind, keep it front and center. Remembering why you started the business can help you make decisions and decide which opportunities to pursue.

It’s been fun looking back on the last five years this week, which have been an incredible journey. Right now, there’s more work to do, but maybe I’ll be able to sip a latte on a patio this weekend to celebrate this special milestone in CCC’s story.

Thanks to everyone for your support!

Starting chapter six,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about small business life, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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4 Lessons Learned in 4 Years as an Entrepreneur

On Sunday, my company, Clearly Conveyed Communications, celebrated its 4th anniversary. Along with some gray hairs and a sense of accomplishment, I’ve learned numerous lessons along the way.

CCC turns 4!

4 Lessons I’ve Learned in 4 Years as an Entrepreneur:

Starting and growing a business is a thrilling roller coaster ride. If you love roller coasters (like I do), you’re probably thinking that sounds great. Keep in mind though that you’re riding 24/7, and there are no stops — for bad days, client disasters or even life (which doesn’t stop while you’re trying to start a business). If you like consistency and scheduled days, then don’t start a business. The most even-keeled entrepreneur has experienced many “What the f%#k am I doing?” moments.

I’ve developed a new definition — and appreciation — of living lean. Most entrepreneurs and startups are not raking in venture capital money and operating on million dollar budgets. They’re trying to build something for the future and scrape by in the present. You have to scrimp, save, shop smartly and still make hard choices. There’s nothing romantic about trying to figure out how you’ll pay your mortgage (or rent) next month, but you have to find a way until you can grow.

You’re not doing business until you get paid. Looking for new business, maintaining your professional network and taking care of clients is all part of owning a business, but it’s important to not focus too much on activity. You’re not doing business until you can bill and collect payment. Otherwise, you’re doing charity work, which is commendable, but it won’t pay your mortgage.

Your time is valuable; learn to spend it well. Every entrepreneur and startup owner needs more hours in a day, so you’ll learn to value your time quickly. You have to balance how much time something will take versus the (realistic) potential reward. Every opportunity or client won’t be a good fit. As painful as it can be to walk away, wasting time on a situation that you know won’t work is even worse. Use your time wisely so that you’ll be able to spend quality time with friends and family, sleep and exercise — all necessities in the long run.

No matter what happens, remember this:

Starting and growing a business is an amazing accomplishment. You took a huge risk to create your own future and build something for yourself. It may be hard for people around you to understand what you’re doing, let alone why, but you have to keep your goal in mind. Always remember why you started your business and what you want out of it. That will help you keep going during those “What the f%#k am I doing?” moments, although close friends, hobbies and happy hour will help too.

There are so many lessons I could have mentioned, because starting a business will teach you something new every day. Some days you won’t be in the mood to learn, but try to pick up as much as you can. The experience will come in handy in the future, wherever your crazy, amazing roller coaster ride stops.

What lessons have you learned as an entrepreneur or small business owner?

Did starting a business create an unexpected opportunity for you?

Feeling the rush,
Jaime

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2015: Storytelling, Platelets & Facebook, Oh My!

2015: what a long, strange road it’s been.

Our visitors and views climbed for the 4th straight year!

Thank you for visiting the CCC blog this year! We’re excited to see an increase in visitors and views for the 4th straight year, each year of our existence.

We publish a wide range of content and that showed in the diversity of our most viewed posts in 2015.

Our top 5 posts as voted by your eyeballs:

  1. The Psychology of Color: Following Guides or Going With Your Gut?
  2. To Give or Not To Give…
  3. 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Facebook
  4. Kindness in the Workplace: A Guide for Your Organization
  5. Mad Men: Master Storytelling In Any Era

Bonus: Things I Carry: Pen and Paper (missed the top 5 by 1 view)

As wide-ranging as our content is, it all leads back to our four main categories: marketing, writing, social media and personal reflection (including entrepreneurship/small business).

Our fourth most viewed post this year was written by one of our contributors, Carol Preibis from Ahh the Simple Life. If you would like to contribute an article (or series), check out our guest blogger invite.

We’ve had contributors from all over the world, just like our audience. Here are the top 5 countries that read our blog:

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Brazil
  4. India
  5. Canada

How did our visitors find us? Search engines refer most of our traffic, although social media plays a role too. Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook all sent readers to our front door.

We look at analytics to help us craft future content, but we’d love to hear from you! Are there any subjects that you’d love to see an article on in 2016? How about follow-ups to any articles you’ve read? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or contact us to make your voice heard.

Chime in on 2015 (and beyond)!

What was your favorite article or series on the CCC blog?
What country do you join us from?
How did you first find the CCC blog?
What topic(s) would you like to see covered in 2016?
How will you ring in the New Year?

As we count down toward the ball drop, enjoy one of my favorite memories of last year.

In 2016, may we all be champions.

Happy New Year!
Jaime

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50 Things I’m Grateful For… Summer 2015 Edition

The author enjoying small talk at a conference.

It’s time, once again, for our annual tradition on the CCC blog. Each year, I list 50 unique “things” that I’m currently grateful for. While I’m grateful every day, it’s helpful to write down a list every now and then. I encourage you to try it! Write your own blog post or share your list in the comments below.

Here we go, 2015 edition:

1) Biting into fresh watermelon
2) A steaming hot latte, even on a hot, summer day
3) Emoji — a universal language that has graduated to the business world
4) My quirks & imperfections
5) Coloring
6) That Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood concert not that long ago…

7) Christmas
8) A good trail to run
9) Zip-lining and high ropes courses
10) Burning candles and a roaring fire in the fireplace
11) Getting lost in a good book
12) The dark
13) The beauty of nature

Just another day in paradise... 🌅 Nature in the city.

A post shared by Jaime Shine (@jaimeshine) on

14) Dirt track racing
15) Scheduling my platelets donations through an app
16) Learning something new
17) Family (blood or not)
18) Art & design
19) Bruce, my first food sculpture (and event planning)

20) Keeping score at a ballgame
21) My brother, sister-in-law & soon-to-arrive Baby Shine!
22) The power of knowledge
23) Mental math
24) Andy Warhol
25) Catching a movie on the big screen
26) Small businesses (and the people who start them!)
27) My wanderlust spirit

28) Hope & second chances
29) God, and his (or her?) glory
30) Music, especially live
31) Clients who pay on time
32) My ever-running mind, even when I want an off switch
33) Whiteboards

34) Adventures
35) Golden Flashes
36) The thrill of crossing the finish line
37) Flexibility
38) Fellow bloggers (Ahh The Simple Life, Lance Wyllie & Sage Doyle to name a few)
39) CCC’s 3rd anniversary

40) Cheez-It Crunch’d (my new favorite snack)
41) Growing up in the 80s
42) My parents
43) Laughing out loud
44) Strong women

45) JAWS
46) Typewriters
47) Mad Men (& women)
48) Wedding soup
49) Generation X
50) Chucks

There’s my list on a beautiful Friday afternoon. We’d love to hear what you’re grateful for!

Usually barefoot, always grateful,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on being grateful, our lists or otherwise):
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Where else can you read about MacGyver, Marketing and Leg Lamp Cookies?

As we approach the 200 follower mark, it seemed like a good time to officially welcome (or re-welcome) everyone to the blog and answer some frequently asked questions.

The doors open... come on in!

What’s this blog about? 

In a nutshell, posts typically fall into 4 main categories: marketing, writing, social media and personal reflection. As loyal readers will tell you though, we may take any number of roads to arrive at the destination. Elvis? Check. MacGyver? Yes. Leg lamp cookies. What else would you expect?

How can I check out previous posts? 

The categories and tags balloons on the right hand side of the page are great for delving into posts on specific topics — booksbranding, paying it forward, etc. If you’re looking for what others are reading, check out the popular content section on the right hand side. It changes daily based on what people are reading that particular day. The archives heading, again on the right side, is a great way to find a past post from a specific time period, say September 2013. Looking for different voices? Scroll down to the Contributors to the CCC Blog section on the right sidebar to enjoy business insight, thoughts on branding and even original poetry.

Do you host guest bloggers? 

Yes! We’ve been blessed to host some wonderful guest bloggers, including those referenced in the aforementioned Contributors to the CCC Blog section (on the right hand side). You can browse all of our guest posts here.

Are you interested in being published on the CCC blog? Click here for more information.

What’s CCC stand for anyway?

Clearly Conveyed Communications. We give companies and brands a voice by assisting them with their marketing, writing and social media needs. Wondering what to post on Facebook? Looking for some magical marketing copy? Trying to keep tabs on your ever-changing market? Give us a call (or email or tweet or message…)! We’ll be happy to discuss your next project — no strings attached. Just have a question? That’s OK too! Hit us up; we might just know the answer.

Who’s the voice behind this blog (and site)?

Me. 😉

What can we expect to read in the future?

This is where you come in! Are you looking for information on a particular topic? Would you love to hear more about something previously touched on? We love your feedback and try to use it to shape future content. Drop us a line or leave your thoughts in the comments below.

So that should just about do it. Any other questions? Thoughts? Suggestions?

–>Who’s read this blog in their pj’s?<–

Photo credit: the doors open by Torley Olmstead via CC BY-SA 2.0 // modified by the author

Cheers,
Jaime

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And The Award Goes To…

CCC is excited to accept its second award for this blog — The Butterfly Light Award — from Sage Doyle, author of The Journal of Wall Grimm and guest blogger extraordinaire.Thanks, Sage!

Image

This award is given to those who are using their blog to spread light or be a positive influence in today’s world. We’re honored to accept this award, because we’re big believers in helping others, bringing a smile to people’s faces and Paying It Forward. With every post, we’re aiming to help business professionals and small business owners with their marketing, writing and social media efforts while also reflecting on life, lessons learned and what moves us as human beings. If one person walks away from reading a post with more knowledge, an idea for her business or a smile on his face, we’ve done our job. If we’ve accomplished one of these goals with you, please chime in and let us know about it! What post(s) or type of post(s) are your favorite?

Now comes the hard part: choosing who we will bestow this award upon. We appreciate the entire CCC community for your loyal reading, continuing the conversation with your keen insights and comments and sharing our posts with your networks. When thinking about what this award stands for, one reader quickly came to mind.

Rich Mistkowski of Proforma ROI Marketing

Rich is a small business owner, volunteer firefighter, husband and dad. He and his wife, Lisa, are blessed with two great kids, including Mattie, who has Down Syndrome. The family is active in promoting Down Syndrome awareness and supporting the Special Olympics. As a volunteer firefighter of 30+ years, Rich has been involved in numerous fundraisers, charity benefits and helping out those in need. He’s truly one of the good guys, and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with him for the past year. Congratulations Rich, you deserve it!

Image

Rich and Mattie hang out at Mattie’s favorite place — the fire station. Mattie wants to be the first firefighter with Down Syndrome. Go, Mattie!
(Photo courtesy of Rich Mistkowski)

 

“I’m blessed to have Mattie as my son. “It never ceases to amaze me about the impact that Mattie has on people. He seems to be able to bring something out in people that I’ll never understand, but always marvel at.”  –Rich Mistkowski

Thank you to Belinda for creating this award to promote positivity and helping others.

Cheers,
Jaime

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To Blog, or Not To Blog: That Is the Question

Original photo credit: "Portrait of Duranty Blogging, after Degas," Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Original photo credit: “Portrait of Duranty Blogging, after Degas,” Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com (CCL)

Why do you blog?

That’s assuming you do blog, which millions of people do across the world, on millions of different topics for millions of different reasons for audiences of one to (yes, you guessed it) millions.

Some blog for business while others type their hearts away purely for pleasure, a way to scratch that itch deep inside or satisfy a longing need. Some blog to motivate themselves to lose weight or graduate from school while others share a deep knowledge of a particular topic while still others hope to be discovered.

–> Here’s my question: is it worth it? 

Blogging takes time. No matter how organized you are or how many tips you read about becoming a more efficient blogger, it just takes time. (Although you may want to check out this handy post from Jeff Bullas entitled How to Streamline Your WordPress Blogging Workflow to save some of that precious time.)

Is all of the time you spend on your blog worth it? I guess that depends on your objectives.

Related Reading: Do You Mow Your Blog?

This blog grew out of starting my company, Clearly Conveyed Communications, just over a year and a half ago. It functions as a place where I can share marketing, writing and social media (the main services CCC offers) tips and resources as well as reflect on my personal experience of being an entrepreneur, small business owner and on life in general. Yes, it has a varied overall direction, which works for me (and I hope for you).

As a new business, I really wanted this blog to generate exposure for the services I offer while connecting me with people who have shared interests. Sure, I would love to generate some business as well, but that wasn’t the original point and still isn’t today. I’m not a big fan of hard selling via blogs or other social media channels, so I hope that I haven’t come across as trying to sell you anything.

My goal every time I click on New Post is to add a little value to your day.

Whether it be insight into a business decision, a social media tip, marketing ideas or how to write a little more effectively, I want you to walk away from the CCC blog with just a little more knowledge and a smile on your face. I hope I do that, and if you have any ideas on how I can do that more effectively, please let me know. Seriously, I would love to hear from you.

So now we’ve come full circle… why do you blog?

For business? For pleasure? To share your knowledge with others? To keep yourself on track?

Leave your answers in the comments below, and feel free to leave your blog URL as well.

To blog, or not to blog: that is the question. Do you?

Related Reading: Attention bloggers! We want you.

Blogging away,
Jaime

p.s. Thank you to each and every follower of the CCC blog. I truly appreciate you taking time out of your busy day to read my musings, and I really do hope that you find them valuable in some way, shape or form. Cheers!

As always, please reach out to me and join the conversation: 
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