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 friendsGetting 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 while running 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 Books Every Small Business Owner Should Read

We’re big readers here at CCC. As Mr. King reminds us below, that’s a good thing because we’re writers, and we like to be well-versed at our craft. Reading is important even if you don’t write though. Business professionals and owners everywhere can benefit from knowledge and experience shared in a good book.

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or tools) to write. Simple as that.”  -Stephen King

business books on a bookshelf

A selection of business reads by UNCG Research via CC BY-SA 2.0 http://bit.ly/2eE8A47

So let’s have a book swap! Below we’ve shared 5 books that have helped us in business (in no particular order), and we’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments.

  1. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking — Studies show that introverts are one-third to half of the U.S. population, and this book tells you how to embrace their personality and management style to improve your corporate culture and team. Introvert or not, every business professional needs to read this book.
  2. Death to All Sacred Cows — The most common negative review we’ve seen about this book is that its content is old news. Then why do so many businesses large and small still adhere to sacred cows for no reason? Beliefs such as, “The customer’s always right” can put you out of business. Read this book before that happens to you.
  3. David And Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, And The Art Of Battling Giants — Let’s be honest; any book by Malcolm Gladwell is a good choice, but we loved this one. David And Goliath shows how perceived underdogs may not be underdogs at all. This is a great read for small business owners everywhere who are wondering how to compete against bigger and better-funded opponents.
  4. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? The business world is constantly changing, and Seth Godin shows you how to be a linchpin. This book will help guide your career in corporate America or on your own, making you indispensable to bosses, organizations, business partners and clients. (Similar to Gladwell, any Godin book is a good and worthwhile read.)
  5. It’s Not About the Coffee — “We’re in the people business serving coffee, not the coffee business serving people.” Howard Behar talks about taking a people-centric approach and treating employees, business partners and clients as people — not revenue sources, assets or labor costs. It’s crazy how many businesses don’t understand this concept, and the results you’ll achieve once you do.

BONUS: Things a Little Bird Told Me — Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, takes readers along on his unpredictable journey and shares smart business lessons along the way. He focuses on the power of creativity and how to harness it to achieve success.

As we were compiling this list, we kept coming up with additional suggestions. As bookworms, it’s difficult to limit any reading list to five recommendations! We’re sure we missed some, but that’s the beauty of reading lists — they’re constantly evolving.

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”  -Stephen King

What books have helped you in business or in life?

Have you read a children’s or YA book that’s relevant in your adult life?

What’s your favorite literature genre?

Your favorite bookworm,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about good books, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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On Writing…

Writing. It’s something we all learned to do at an early age, but some people are more adept at it than others. If you’re trying to improve your writing, here are a few tips I’ve picked up since I started writing at age 3. 🙂

I still love filling notebooks with my thoughts and chicken scratch.

Write often. Then write some more. It’s amazing how much more confident you feel about your writing when you practice, practice, practice. Blogging, notebooks, a journal or your Mac, the platform and audience doesn’t really matter. Just keep writing.

Can’t write? Read. Even if you’re not an avid reader, find something — or someone — you like. It doesn’t have to be business-related or in your field. As much as I enjoy psychology and sociology books, my favorite author of all time is Stephen King, a master of words. I’ve learned so much from reading his works.

“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.” –Stephen King

Say something. Seriously. Read what you just wrote and ask yourself what the takeaway is. If you can’t come up with anything, then neither can your audience.

Don’t waste words. While the type of writing depends on your audience, platform and objectives, never waste words. If a word or paragraph doesn’t add anything to your work, leave it out. Being eloquent doesn’t have to mean being wordy.

Dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Proofreading isn’t optional, even in the era of instant publishing and smartphone communication. Poor spelling, grammar and punctuation reflects poorly on the author, no matter what platform. It’s usually helpful to have others proofread your work, but if that’s not possible, at least try to walk away for awhile. It’s amazing what fresh eyes can see.

Grammar can change everything.

So grammar’s not important, huh?
Photo credit: Writers.com (h/t Kathy Yoho)

Beat writer’s block. It happens to anyone who writes sooner or later, but there are actions you can take. Get moving. A brisk walk, an energetic game of basketball or an afternoon hike can be just what you need. They also draw your attention elsewhere. Sometimes when you try so hard to think about something, your brain locks up. It’s not a coincidence that so many great ideas, from novels to solving a client’s issue, happen in the shower or during a run. Think about something else, and the words will probably start flowing again.

Carry a notebook. While I’m old school and love to fill notebooks with my chicken scratch, you may prefer the digital domain. Either way, always carry a notebook (even if it’s your smartphone). You never know when, or where, an idea will strike.

Related reading: Things I Carry: Pen and Paper

Write to your audience. It’s helpful to know who your audience is so you can write to them. Speak in their language, play to their interests and use words they understand. Have you ever read something that seemed like it was written just for you? That’s the power of writing to your audience.

Pay attention. The world is full of writing topics; you just have to see (hear, smell, feel or sense) them. Pay attention to your surroundings, even during mundane tasks. You’ll be surprised what can come out of a walk in the park or your daily commute. I’ve had ideas for blog posts pop into my head while driving through a local metro park and making leg lamp cookies.

What tips would you add?

Where’s your favorite place to write (or read)?

Have you ever read writing outside of your ‘comfort zone’ and loved it?

While we’re all expected to be writers these days, some people just aren’t comfortable putting their thoughts on paper (or screen). Is that you? Then I’d love to work my magic for you

Writing away,
Jaime

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What inspires you?

Inspiration. It’s a beautiful thing but can be hard to come by sometimes. Where do you draw inspiration from?

Need inspiration? Look at nature.

Typically, I hit the ground running. Physical activity, especially in serene natural settings, does wonders for my creativity and mind (not to mention my health). Today, it was a candle-lit bubble bath with a great book. Delving into another world opened up my mind to blog topics and content marketing ideas. Other days, a quick meditation may do the trick.

Related reading: Need an Idea? Just Walk Away

So, what inspires you? Whether it’s an intriguing piece of art, an upbeat Zumba class or a person you hold dear, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Chime in and help inspire us all to greater things.

Humming the Rocky theme song,
Jaime

Feeling inspired? Let’s connect!
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Finding Courage

“America woke up that day from a decades-long slumber and found to its surprise that it still possessed the courage, can-do pragmatism, inventiveness, idealism, and teamwork that had made the nation the envy of the world.”

                                                                        –Frederic C. Rich, Christian Nation

Intriguing read that gets more difficult to put down page by page… Have you read it? What were your thoughts?

What book do you highly recommend to your fellow readers? Why?

Happy Friday!
Jaime

Wild: A Journey That Takes You Along For The Ride

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild, an amazing memoir by Cheryl Strayed

I recently crossed an entry off my ever-growing reading list by tackling Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Part memoir, part cathartic experience, this gripping read brings you along during Strayed’s journey of hiking the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT).

“I was alone. I was barefoot. I was twenty-six years old and an orphan too. An actual stray, a stranger had observed a couple of weeks before, when I’d told him my name and explained how very loose I was in the world. “

During this life-altering experience, Strayed dips back into memories or moments from her life that explain her actions, decisions and how she arrived at her starting point of the trail in the Mojave Desert, via a hitchhiked ride, completely unprepared even though she was overloaded with the weight of her pack (aptly named “Monster).

Cheryl Strayed on the PCT

Cheryl Strayed on the PCT in southern California, June 1995.

From page one, I was hooked. It’s not only the life-or-death moments (although those do happen on the remote PCT); it’s the inner journey that Strayed takes to finally heal from her mother’s death and move on with her life. Despite the rapidly changing conditions, wild animals and extreme exhaustion, the author is able to hear her own voice on long, lonely stretches where it was only her and Mother Nature.

Cheryl Strayed at Crater Lake

Cheryl Strayed at Crater Lake near the PCT, August 1995.

You actually feel like you’re along for the ride. For a lot of us, this is as close as we’ll ever get to hiking the PCT, but you feel a connection with Strayed early on. Why? She’s grieving, lost and flawed, yet determined to find herself and right her ship before it’s too late.

Haven’t we all been there on some level? Maybe you’ve made a poor decision, let a close friend down or found yourself in a depressing relationship that you can’t get out of. We’ve all faced obstacles, some more than others, and had to overcome them in order to move on with our lives. That’s where Strayed’s story fits in.

Wild reaches out, grabs your heart and makes an emotional connection. When you’ve read the last page, you may feel like you’ve made a journey yourself — not hiking the PCT but tackling a demon or problem in your own life.

If I haven’t piqued your interest enough, check out the book’s trailer…

Have you read the book? What did you think?

If not, are you interested in reading this book now?

What’s the best memoir that you’ve ever read?

Photos and video courtesy of Cheryl Strayed’s website

An early happy birthday, America! Best wishes to you and yours for a fun, safe and reflective 4th of July.

Cheers,
Jaime

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My 2013 Bucket List: Six Months In

“Some people create a bucket list because they are dying; I created one because I want to live.”     –Lesley Carter

Earlier this year, I came across Lesley Carter’s 2013 bucket list and was inspired to create my own. (Ed. Note: If you haven’t checked out Lesley’s Bucket List Publications, please do so. What an inspiration!)

Related reading: My 2013 Bucket List: What’s On Yours?

It struck me a few days ago that we’re already half way through the year. Crazy, isn’t it?! So I wanted to post an update and see how I’m doing so far.

Without further ado… (items crossed out have been accomplished:

  • Attend a Kent State University basketball game (my alma mater!)
  • Go ice skating
  • Watch a hockey game live
  • Attend a professional networking event
  • Go for a twilight hike
Lake Erie Monsters hockey

I love Zambonis! Watching the Lake Erie Monsters

  • Enter a trail running event
  • Register for my first triathlon
  • Get together with my family at least monthly <So far, so good!>
  • Celebrate special occasions with family & friends <Just celebrated my sister-in-law’s birthday and Father’s Day this past week! Next up, my brother’s birthday.>
  • Watch the inauguration festivities for the first time
Valentine's Day wreath

A slightly different take on a Valentine’s Day wreath…

  • Bring on 5 new dream clients <On pace, lots of activity right now…>
  • Read 100 books! (Yep, full fledged book worm here.) <I need to start counting!>
  • Write the first chapter of my novel
  • Make time for me 🙂
  • Jump out of another airplane!
Dark Tower Series

Finished 6 of 7 Dark Tower books by Stephen King… along with a few others.

  • Go to the theatre
  • Pay It Forward
  • Learn a new skill
  • Take advanced coding classes
  • Attend a NASCAR race
KSU + Haven of Rest = Pay It Forward

Proud to join the KSU Alumni crew at Haven of Rest for National Day of Service 2013

  • Spa day 🙂
  • Finally bring home a furry friend
  • Travel, travel, travel — across town & across the world
  • Watch the sunrise
  • Watch the sunset
sunset at Canal Park

Watching the sunset at Canal Park

  • Step outside of my comfort zone
  • Watch the fireworks at an Aeros game
  • Book a spontaneous getaway
  • Unplug & connect with nature for a day
  • Laugh often
  • Create with my hands
Mother Nature's beauty

Enjoying the serene Alder Pond at Gorge Metro Park

  • Swim in the ocean
  • Walk on water again –> paddle boarding 🙂
  • Get up close & personal to the octagon at a UFC event
  • Be ready for my next great opportunity & pounce on it
  • Get muddy often

How about you? How are you doing on your 2013 bucket list? It’s not too late to create one! Leave your thoughts in the comments below or hit me up on social media.

Dark Tower books photo courtesy of The Dark Tower Official Website
All other photos from my personal collection 

Smiling in the sunshine,
Jaime

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This is a bookshop.

Love this sign! So true… books open other worlds for us to travel to and open our minds to possibilities we previously hadn’t thought of. Books can educate us, take us to distant lands and enrich our lives with culture. Books can spark love affairs that last a lifetime and lead us to pursue answers to life’s most intriguing questions.

What book has changed your life? Made you stop and think? Opened your eyes to new worlds? Pushed you to pursue your vocation or what you love?

Business or pleasure, or a little bit of both. Biographies, trade journals, fiction, science fiction, “chic lit…” A skinny novella or an epic masterpiece.

Join the discussion by leaving your comments below…

Cheers,
Jaime

101 Books

I saw this image in the Reddit Book forums a few weeks ago, and I had to share it on my 101 Books Facebook page.

I just have one question:

Where is this bookshop, and how can I go there? I’ll just forget that they incorrectly hyphenated bookshop and crossroads.

P.S. I’m not trying to start a flame war between digital and paper books. I’m pretty much over that. But I still love a good, old-fashioned “bookshop,” and I hope they never go away. I don’t think they will.

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What makes you smile?

I’m sitting here polishing my toenails while making updates to my website and a squirrel just ran across my windowsill, stopping to peer in. (Don’t feed the humans!) I realized that I was smiling despite the damage that the little critters can cause.

What makes you smile?

Sometimes a midst the frustration and minor annoyances of day to day life, it helps to take a step back and remember what makes you smile. Then seek out those things, however small, so you smile more and more. It’s amazing what it does for your mood!

Here are some things that make me smile!

my Starbucks #sipface

Showing off my Starbucks #sipface while enjoying some espresso on a beautiful day.

after a day of trail running

I ❤ trail running (and a little mud)!

hitting my goal in the Akron half-marathon

In my 3rd half-marathon, I hit my goal (with the help of my blue toenail polish)!

relaxing on the beach

Soaking in the rays on Hilton Head Island…

I'm contemplating life

Just another day in the life…

Now it’s your turn –> what makes you smile?

Drop your list in the comments below or share your blog post link. I’m looking forward to your responses. Enjoy the weekend, and remember to smile!

Cheers,
Jaime

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The End Of The Line… Or Cable

I’m finally cutting the cord… to cable. It’s been a long time coming, and I’ve watched admirably as others have done it and claimed to have no regrets. It’s not that I don’t enjoy TV. I do. It’s just that I can’t continue to justify the ever-rising costs and rigid packages in order to attain my viewing pleasure. I’m a big believer in value (not strictly cost), and I don’t see the value in cable for what I pay.

First of all, I’m not a TV addict. There are weeks that go by where I hardly turn the TV on, sometimes only for background noise as I’m making dinner or reading. I’m a nature lover; I love to be outside. (Yes, there are benefits to growing up in Timbuktu.) I’m fortunate that I live minutes from a metro park that offers multiple trails and mesmerizing scenery for hiking and trail running.

Hocking Hills Resevoir

I ❤ nature.

While I’m not a TV addict, I am a reading addict. Fiction. Nonfiction. Horror. Mysteries. Biographies. Psychology books. If it’s been written, I probably want to read it. At any time, my constantly evolving reading list (aptly titled bookworm) numbers 100 books or more. I also love to write, and I’m hoping one of the benefits of cutting cable is that I get back to writing more for me. Currently, my writing is mostly only for clients.

Word puzzles, crafts, DIY, sports. I have a lot of passions, so I’m not worried about filling my time. I will miss being able to turn on the TV to catch SportsCenter or an episode of Property Brothers on HGTV. But that’s no longer enough for me to send my money into the black hole of cable.

ksu_espn

One thing I will miss — catching my Flashes on ESPN.

Here’s my question… What other viewing platforms/resources do you use? Netflix? Hulu? Websites? iTunes/Google Play? I would love to hear your feedback and any personal experience you or a friend have had. Even after cutting the cord, I’ll still need to catch Downton Abbey. 🙂

Your thoughts are appreciated! I’m sure it will be an adjustment at first, but I’m looking forward to life without cable.

Cheers,
Jaime

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