Eat, Pray, Love — In Business Too

As I was reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert earlier today, two things dawned on me. One, I’m enjoying this book. Two, the concepts discussed apply to business as well as life (and no, not only for women).

Bring pleasure to your work space!

I bring pleasure to my work space with a couple of my favorite things: espresso and a dragon tree.

In Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert travels the world in order to examine three different aspects of her life — pleasure (in Italy), devotion (in India) and balance (in Bali). While we all may not be able to globe trot to find our way in life (or business), it is important that we understand how to achieve symmetry in these three key areas.

Pleasure

I’m not going to throw a cheap motivational poster at you, but you should enjoy what you do, at least most of the time. We all have bad days, even world-class athletes, kings and queens. I’ve never bought the “love what you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life” mantra, but it is far more pleasant to enjoy what you do. So whatever you’re in business for, I hope you enjoy it. If not, your true talents may lie elsewhere.

Devotion

You need to be devoted to something (or multiple somethings), so one of these might as well be your business. I’m not recommending that anyone be a workaholic, because that usually doesn’t work out in the long run. But there will be plenty of times that you’re up pre-dawn to travel to see a client or burning the midnight oil finishing up a project on deadline. You may want to be doing anything else during these times (such as sleeping), but devotion to your clients, to your craft and to your business will yield results.

Balance

There’s a lot of talk about work-life balance today. Some people believe it’s an ever-evolving work in progress, while others stick to a tight schedule. However you achieve balance, it’s important that you do. Focusing on only one area of your life for too long will leave you feeling out of sorts or unhappy. A vacation may not be on your horizon, but the smallest breaks can bring balance: sipping espresso on a patio, enjoying a night out with friends or taking a lie-in one morning.

While my goal is to one day enjoy gelato in Rome, you may have no interest in that dream.

What 3 places would you go on your own pleasure, devotion, balance journey?

Fellow Eat, Pray, Love readers, what’s your feedback of the book?

On my own journey,
Jaime

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Yes Virginia, It Really Is All About The Little Things

The Lego Store Display

It’s amazing what thousands of little Lego pieces can create!

I’m onsite with a client this week and have been reminded of an important adage as I delve into the company’s processes and systems.

It’s all about the little things.

It really is. The smallest pieces of data, minor decisions and ‘mundane’ moments make up most of our lives. If we learn to appreciate these seemingly irrelevant aspects of our being, we’ll be a lot better off. Processes will go smoother, relationships will work better and we’ll get more enjoyment out of life.

For example, I headed to the Mall of America while I’m in town and had to visit the Lego Store. Its impressive display on top of the store (pictured above) is amazing! Think about the thousands upon thousands of little Lego pieces it took to make this eye-catching display. If one piece was missing or the wrong color, it would stick out. Every single piece contributes to the finished product — a work of art.

This thought process applies to your business life too. Emails, reports and other communications help ensure everyone is on the same page when working on projects. The smallest pieces of data add up to provide crucial demographic information and reports showing return on investment. Branding, events, marketing, promotions, social media and sponsorship can all go right or wrong based on the most minute of details. Every part of the process, no matter how small, is necessary to achieve the desired end result.

So pat yourself on the back for a job well done the next time you take care of the little things.

Sound Off

What little things do you take care of?

How has handling a little thing led to a big moment in your life?

p.s. Have you been to the Mall of America? What’s your favorite part?

A devil for the details,
Jaime

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33 Lessons in 33 Years

I recently came across a fun post, 32 Lessons from 32 Years of Life. The timing was perfect as I was pondering what to post about on my birthday (Yep, Pisces here.), and I had actually been toying with the idea of this type of post.

I hope you find these short lessons useful, and please feel free to chime in with your own at the end. So, here goes… lessons I’ve learned from 33 years of living:

1. You’re only as good as your word. Don’t break it. (Read: If You Say You’re Going To Do Something, Do It!)

2. Take care of your body. It’s the only one you have.

kicking toward the finish line

Running makes me happy and clears my mind. What’s your favorite activity?

3. Own your decisions. You are responsible for you — not anyone else.

4. Pay it forward. Karma has a way of reciprocating. You’ll  benefit more than those you help anyway. Trust me.

5. Make time for you. It’s not selfish; it’s necessary to recharge and be at your best.

6. Some “vices” are OK. If you really enjoy something, do it (unless it harms others).

7. Pay attention. You’ll learn so much by being observant, in business and in life.

8. Learn from the past, look forward to the future, but live in the present. It’s the best show there is. If you’re constantly reliving things or worrying about future events, you’ll miss a lot of wonderful moments.

9. Learn to give — and receive — constructive criticism. (“This is terrible” or “you’re stupid” is not constructive.)

10. Listen, listen, listen. It will take you far in life.

11. Follow your gut. It’s your instinct for a reason.

12. Try new things — foods, adventures, travels. You never know what you’ll fall in love with. (Like ice skating, for me.)

ice skating

Snow, wind & ice. Lots of ice. Enjoying some time on the pond — the best part of winter.

13. Respect your values and beliefs. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, it’s OK to walk away. (Read: Gray Area: Do Ethics Still Have a Place in Business?)

14. An interview is a two-way conversation about an opportunity. Relax.

15. The devil IS in the details. Handle those and the rest will follow.

16. Do something special for yourself monthly, or more often if you can. Because you’re worth it. (Thanks, L’Oreal.)

17. Don’t project your bad day outward. Just because you’re in a bad mood, everyone else doesn’t have to be.

18. Social media’s great, but get social in real life too. (Read: Social Media’s Nice, But It’s Not IRL)

19. Embrace the mundane. It’s 80% of life. (Listen: This is Water, David Foster Wallace)

20. If you feel like getting dressed up to go to the store, go for it. Likewise, if you head out in workout gear, it’s no big deal. Life doesn’t hinge on what you’re wearing. (Granted, there are occasions where your dress is dictated by the occasion. Embrace it.)

21. Sometimes, you can buy happiness. Just don’t try it all the time.

22. Value those close to you. Don’t take them for granted, because some day they won’t be there.

Color Run Akron 2013

My sister-in-law, brother & I after Color Run Akron.

23. Make the extra effort. It usually pays off — even if no one’s watching.

24. Have a strong handshake, a genuine smile and a killer pair of earrings. (Gentlemen, I hear cuff links produce the same effect.)

25. Laugh a lot. It’s the best medicine, and you don’t need a prescription.

Yours truly, enjoying the moment

Yours truly, enjoying the moment.

26. Don’t waste too much time worrying. It really doesn’t change things.

27. Think through major decisions but don’t be afraid to act. Indecision can be paralyzing and leave you watching from the sidelines.

28. Be impulsive every once in awhile. Do something crazy at least once in your life.

29. Celebrate birthdays. Age brings wisdom and life experience. Appreciate them.

30. Think — every single day. It never goes out of style.

31. Listen to your body. It’s amazing what it can tell you.

32. “Never being satisfied” makes a great motivational poster but leaves you feeling empty inside. Always wanting more can leave you broke and alone. Enjoy your achievements and appreciate what you have. Remember, perfection is unattainable.  (Read: What’s your riddle?)

33. Be genuine in everything you do. It’s easier in the long run, and people will appreciate you for it. Eventually, you’ll even find people who like you for who you are.

“And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life…”  –Lester Burnham, American Beauty

stick em up!

Bonnie & Clyde… back in the day.

I’ve never really grown up (vertically challenged here), but I have learned a lot. Like a good hat can make up for just about anything, even a really crappy day.

Share Your Lessons

What lesson(s) have you learned?

Do any of these lessons resonate with you? Do you disagree with any?

Maybe we can all learn to navigate this crazy thing we call life a little better.

Cheers,
Jaime

Life lesson: Connect with others!
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Survival Skills for the Real World

Welcome to the first post of 2014! I hope you all enjoyed ringing in the New Year.

Happy New Year from CCC!

During this time of year, people around the world resolve to learn new skills and achieve goals they set for themselves. So I thought it was interesting when I read an article in the November 2013 issue of Real Simple magazine that focused on skills you should have in order to navigate this crazy thing we call life.

Related reading: Why I Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions

Here are the five skills featured:

  • how to be alone
  • how to take a compliment
  • how to keep a conversation going
  • how to ask for feedback
  • how to remember names

Do you agree?

After reading this article, I realized that these skills were necessary in business as well as life. Whether you’re attending a networking event, dealing with co-workers or clients or working on an important solo project, these skills will keep you on top of your game.

Related reading: Boomers to Millennials: Your Generation Sets Your Communication Style

I would like to add two (or three, depending on your view) skills to this list: the ability to give and take constructive criticism and listen. It may sound strange, but I haven’t met a whole lot of people who dole out constructive criticism well. Criticism? Yes. It’s the constructive part that’s often missing. Listening also seems to be a lost art in our society today.

What do you think?

What other skill is necessary to navigate business or life?

Would you remove any skills from this list?

Chime in. Let’s get this 2014 party started!

Cheers,
Jaime

2013 or 2014, we’d still love to connect! 
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Embrace the Suck (Because What’s the Alternative?)

Life sucks. Not to be a pessimist, but sometimes it seems that everything goes wrong. Sure, there’s always that saying that someone has it worse than you somewhere, but quite frankly, that isn’t always the most comforting thought in the world when you have your own problems.

a cat having a bad hair day

We all have bad hair days;
it’s how we handle them that counts.
Pic credit: Melissa West

Today, I decided to run some errands. I ended up going to three grocery stores (plus Target, Walgreen’s and the mall), buying a few things twice and taking much longer than expected. Then I came home to put a new battery in my alarm clock (which I went to two stores to find), and it didn’t work. The clock itself is dying, which should have been obvious because the battery is only a backup. You think I would have thought about this while holding the alarm clock last night while it was still plugged into the wall. (If anyone needs any CR2032 3 volt batteries…) Wednesday night, I took a nosedive on our beautiful sidewalks during a night run. Last week, I missed Trick-or-Treat. Seriously, I completely missed Halloween this year. (If anyone needs any candy…)

“Accept failure. Enjoy it, even. Embrace the suck, for the suck is part of the process.”  –A.J. Jacobs

So you know what I did? I threw the unneeded batteries in my drawer and went for a 6-mile trail run followed by 100 jumping jacks, 60 squats, a 60-second plank and 30-second high plank (with stretching pre-and post-run). Then I came home, made a green smoothie, had some trail bologna (a specialty in my world), updated the CCC Facebook page and sat down to write this blog post.

kicking toward the finish line

Running (and writing) makes me happy and clears my mind. What’s your medicine when things go wrong?

Life sucks. You’re going to fail, fall down and get beat. You have to deal with it and get up — again and again. Sometimes it’s really hard to do that when it seems like the odds are stacked against you. But I believe that we are all dealt a winning deck, eventually. If you keep working and working, things will work out. They may not be what you had planned, but they will work out. (For a real-life example, listen to Steve Jobs’s inspirational commencement address at Stanford in 2005 below.)

Honestly, this week has just been a microcosm of the past year and a half (and I left a lot out for brevity’s sake). I knew it would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done to start my own business, be my own boss and and build my client base. It’s been even harder than I expected (which somehow I expected, if that makes sense).

A 6-month battle with insurance companies over a mistake in my medical records while setting up personal insurance. People not following through on their word time and time again. Anticipated projects (and the paychecks) never materializing. Working for free. Being asked repeatedly to work for free (subject of an upcoming post). Coming from a background and an area where nobody understands what I’m doing (or why). We all have things that beat us up every day. 

Are you feeling shitty? Down in the dumps? Do what makes you happy — whatever that may be. Don’t worry about what people think of you. If you’re a runner, run. If you’re a shopper, shop. If you’re a film connoisseur, catch a flick. If you’re a talker, call a friend. How long? Until the smile’s back on your face.

Cheer up. Yes, life sucks, but learn to embrace it. The suck is just one small part of this beautiful thing we call living.

What do you do when you need to cheer up?

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?

p.s. If you need to vent and a friend’s not available, feel free to vent below or hit me up on a social network. Seriously, I’m listening.

p.s.s. If you’re having a bad day and can’t bring yourself to comment, just throw me a like so I know you’re there. 🙂

Embracing the suck,
Jaime

Embracing the suck or riding a wave, connect with me… 
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It’s All About The Little Things

It's all about the little things.

“We sometimes underestimate the influence of little things.”
-Charles W. Chestnutt

Yesterday was my birthday (yep, I’m a Pisces). Upon the outpouring of well wishes from friends, family and business associates, I was reminded that life is so much about the little things.

A message on social media wishing someone a happy birthday. Making time for dinner with your family or lunch with an out of town friend. Calling someone you haven’t spoken to in awhile just to check in. Small acts that cost you little but brighten someone’s day.

Little things are just as important in business. My mantra has always been, “People do business with people.” I always try to put a face behind my company name, make my digital world seem more human and personal. Although much of what I do is electronic – writing, marketing strategy, social media, etc – I love connecting with people and putting a face with a name.

I believe that rich relationships are what life’s all about, in business too. Reach out and connect with people, care about what they do and how you can help them. The business will come, but first you have to connect with people, develop and nurture relationships.

Who knows what could come out of a simple birthday wish?

Your thoughts?

Cheers,
Jaime

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How Ben Affleck’s Story Carried Argo to a Best Picture Oscar (And What We Can Learn From It)

Argo_Best Picture

When Argo won Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards, I was thrilled. Don’t get me wrong; there was some stiff competition in the category, and I was impressed by some of the challengers, most notably LINCOLN. However, it was interesting to watch how Ben Affleck’s Best Director snub by the Academy became a leading story, how the actor handled it, and ultimately, how it helped push Argo to the forefront of the Best Picture discussion. And of course, how we can all learn from it.

Ben Affleck has been in Hollywood a long time, bursting onto the scene with his pal Matt Damon while winning an Oscar for Best Screenplay for Good Will Hunting in 1998. As he noted in this year’s rambling, heartfelt acceptance speech,

“I was here years ago or something. I had no idea what I was doing. I stood out here in front of you all… really just a kid.”

Despite this initial success, Affleck continued to seek out and learn from others in the industry while honing his craft. He thanked the “… so many wonderful people who extended themselves to me when they had nothing to benefit from it in Hollywood.” We can all continue to learn every day, no matter how many years of experience we’ve accumulated or success we’ve achieved. Appreciate those who have contributed and continue to contribute to your career. 

In addition to learning every day, perseverance is key.

“It doesn’t matter how you get knocked down in life because that’s going to happen. All that matters is that you gotta get up.”
-Ben Affleck

We all need to learn to persevere because things won’t always go as planned. There are a lot of potholes, detours and speed bumps on this road we call life.

Along with his perseverance, one of the qualities throughout the entire process that drew people to this story was Affleck’s humility. He didn’t respond angrily when the Academy snubbed him of a Best Director nod; he only spoke of the deserving directors who were recognized. This was a big reason why the press and social media picked up the story and brought Argo back to the forefront of the Best Picture race. People empathized with Affleck, spoke positively about him and rooted for his movie.

When you are humble, it goes a long way to connecting with others and forming meaningful relationships — in business and in life. 

So there you have it — continued learning, perseverance to his craft and humility along the way; three reasons that Ben Affleck has achieved success and his personal story helped carry his film to the forefront of the Best Picture discussion. The same three qualities that can help carry you in business and in life. If you missed Affleck’s heartfelt speech (or just want to watch it again), enjoy!

What do you think?

Did Ben Affleck’s personal story help carry Argo to a Best Picture win? What are other examples of the press and/or social media bringing an issue to everyone’s attention and affecting an outcome? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or hit me up on social media.

photo credit: Disney ABC Television Group

Cheers!
Jaime, amateur de cinéma

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What LINCOLN Taught Us About Business (And Life)

Today, February 12th, is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, which brings me to LINCOLN the movie. I had high expectations due to some of the names involved: Steven Spielberg, Daniel Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones — and the trailer looked intriguing. But WOW, was I blown away.

While reflecting on the movie afterward, I realized that there were some interesting takeaways I could apply to my business, and even my life.

Lincoln contemplating history

  • Seize the moment While some shy away from critical decisions and important moments, Abraham Lincoln (portrayed so eloquently by Daniel Day-Lewis) was proud to be a part of history. He knew that abolishing slavery was going to be a moment that changed our country’s future, which only made him want to pass the 13th amendment even more — despite the law’s unpopularity at the time. Lincoln knew the amendment was necessary for the country to reunite, heal and move forward together. Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to make the decision that everything hinges on or step into the spotlight. Live in the moment.  

“We’re stepped upon the world’s stage now with the fate of human dignity in our hands. Blood’s been spilled to afford us this moment.”

-Abraham Lincoln

  • Cast your characters well LINCOLN, the movie, was cast perfectly. I’ve already mentioned Day-Lewis, who should win an Oscar, and Tommy Lee Jones played the powerful Thaddeus Stevens perfectly. Sally Fields was so elegant, yet human, as Mary Todd Lincoln, and the list goes on. Takeaway: Choose the people around you carefully. Hire people for your business who fit into your culture, think for themselves and have the necessary skills, not only the latter. Associate yourself with people who bring you up, not tear you down.

Daniel Day-Lewis as LINCOLN

  • Be yourself in everything you do. One of the reasons I love LINCOLN so much is that the characters are portrayed as human. You see their strengths and their weaknesses, what ultimately drives them and what they’re willing to compromise on. Takeaway: You are unique and bring value to your business, life, social circle, etc. When you’re transparent, people become more comfortable with you. That’s when they buy from you, work with you, spend time with you and develop relationships with you.

Have you seen LINCOLN? What are your thoughts?

What other movie(s) made you think about your life or business?

Will LINCOLN win Best Picture? Daniel Day-Lewis best actor?

Chime in!

Happy birthday, Abe!
Jaime

Image credits: LINCOLN the movie

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