Be an Original

Colorful painted woman

I recently submitted a proposal and included some examples of my work.  As both a business owner and consultant, I have created website content, brochures, promotional material, bios, course workbooks, reports and blogs.  When a prospective client asks for examples, I have a variety of B2B and B2C material, which I match to the current project.  As I was pulling this proposal together, I debated about whether I should include a link to a client’s website.  I had created most of the original content and thought it would be a great reference.  As I was deciding, I reviewed the site to ensure I was sending the right message.

I am so glad I did.  Because the site I wanted to reference no longer exists.  Oh sure – the business is still there, and the website address is the same.  The content I created is still part of the site.  It was the only part that looked familiar.  The rest of the experience was just – different.

Why was it different?  Why is this important?  If it isn’t my business, why do I care?  Because the client changed my work?  Because I may have chosen a different layout or added different images?  Because I would never expect someone to scroll through pages and pages of words to get to vital information?

None of these reasons matter.  They are merely my opinions and every business owner should do what they believe is best for their business.  The reason I will no longer include it as a sample of my work is that while the words are there, the site has lost the feel I created.  It no longer stands out – it blends into the landscape.  The new site looks and feels like every other company in its space.  And blending or “playing it safe” does not represent my brand.

When I started my own business, I looked at what my competition was doing and asked the question, how do I convince my target audience to buy from me rather than them?  I had to show these people what made my business stand out from the competition.  So, instead of focusing on the features of my products and services, I opted to focus on the benefits – in this case, the fun and social experience that clients enjoyed.  I used colors and graphics that were different from these other businesses in my space.  As a result, I appealed to an even larger group of consumers.  In other words, I was an original.  This strategy paid off, and the business thrived.

You are an original.  So, why would you position your business – or your life – around a “me too” strategy that copies another?  Sure, there’s safety in conformity, but you will be limited in what you can do as well.  And who wants that?

Stand up, stand out and embrace your originality.  When you’re enjoying success beyond your wildest dreams, you’ll be glad you took the risk.

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Accidental Celebrity Meetings

Today, I met Dayna Steele and Lanny Griffith. And it almost didn’t happen.Social-Media-Breakfast-150x150

For those of you were too young or have been living under a rock for the last few decades (I still can’t believe there is an entire generation that doesn’t get Seinfeld references), you may not remember that before it was a Spanish pop format, 101 KLOL was the rock station in Houston, and Dayna and Lanny were part of that format – Dayna as the voice of the afternoon and Lanny as the traffic guru.  What’s really ironic from a personal standpoint is that I was lamenting the loss of the old format with an Uber driver earlier that week.  Continue reading “Accidental Celebrity Meetings”

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The Stupidity Paradox


I recently met a man at the dog park and tried to strike up a conversation.  The only thing I could gather is that he is visiting his son (and I only knew that because I recognized the dog).  It’s not as though he was antisocial, in fact, he seemed very friendly and eager to chat.  Unfortunately, he was visiting from China and did not speak English – and my knowledge of Mandarin, or any other Chinese dialect, is non-existent.  And this made me feel stupid.

At first, we would just smile, nod and point.  Since I already felt stupid, I avoided speaking.  I mean, didn’t Mark Twain (or Abraham Lincoln, or a biblical proverb) say, “Better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt.”?  I figured I had nothing to lose by smiling and keeping quiet.  Until a random thought occurred to me.

As I stood there smiling, I thought, what if I’m wrong?  What if we can communicate?  I’ve never had a need to learn Mandarin – I haven’t traveled to China and it wasn’t a language spoken at my workplace or school, so, why would I expect to be fluent enough to converse at a dog park in Texas?  Likewise, I’m guessing English isn’t widely – or at all – spoken in his hometown, so maybe he hasn’t had a need to learn either.  I wondered, could he have the same fears as me?

The next time I saw my new friend, he said hello.  I now had a decision to make.  Should I just say hello and smile as I’ve been doing for the past week?  Or do I try to return the greeting in his language?  I took a deep breath and opted for the latter.  I smiled at my friend, said hello and asked, “how do you say hello?”  He told me.  We then moved on to thank you, and good-bye.

I would love to say that these three words have been easy to master and that I’m learning quickly.  I would be lying – in fact, I’m pretty sure I’m butchering the language.  And I still can’t remember how to say good-bye.  Mandarin is difficult for me – there are so many sounds that are nothing like English, Spanish or Italian, languages with which I have some familiarity.  But I’m not going to let it stop me.

Too often, we limit ourselves because we don’t want to look stupid, and yet, when we do this, we miss out on so many great opportunities to learn and grow.  I call this the Stupidity Paradox.  We hesitate to admit we don’t know something because we don’t want to appear stupid, and yet, if we would confess, we could learn something new.  Missing out on new opportunities just seems stupid to me.

So, while I still suck at speaking Mandarin, I’ll continue to ask until I get it right.  Today, I learned my new friend’s name (John).  And, tomorrow, maybe I’ll remember the word for good-bye.  Then again, maybe I’ll have to consult the interwebs.  It doesn’t matter, as long as I keep trying.

And that will help me feel a little less stupid.




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Yoga and Asking for Help

pexels-photo-588561.jpegThe last few months have been difficult for me.  I’ve had to take a break from my favorite exercise – pole dance– and let my body heal.  Since I’m terrible at inactivity, and even worse at watching my body lose its hard-earned results, I looked for ways to exercise while healing.  One of my favorite new activities is yoga.

There are as many ways to practice yoga as there are studios in which to practice.  If you want to build strength, there’s a class for that.  Need to de-stress and keep from screaming at someone, no matter how much they deserve it?  There’s a class for that too.  Want to rehab injuries?  I can attest that there’s definitely a class for that.  The list of benefits resulting from a regular yoga practice is long and varies from physical to mental to spiritual.

Unlike many other exercises, yoga encourages the use of props in class.  Props, such as balls, blocks, straps and blankets, are there to assist you with your practice.  Everyone from the complete beginner to exercise to the experienced yoga student can benefit from using these tools.  Using props in class is akin to asking for help.

Did I mention I suck at asking for help?  Well I do.  Now, I love to help people.  Looking for a job?  Let me see if I can connect you to someone in my network.  Need a dog?  Oh, do I have suggestions for you.  Want to meet someone special?  I will search my mental Rolodex of people that I might set you up with, if I set people up.  (In case you’re wondering, I don’t – too much pressure – but I will put you in the same room with many others and if things happen organically, great.  Just so you know.)  My first thought is, how can I help?

So, asking for help should be easy, right?  Wrong.  So very, very wrong.

I’ve been led to believe that in order to be independent and self-reliant, I had to do things on my own.  Yoga was no exception.  The thought of asking for help was cringe-inducing.  After all, the most rewarding things in life are those we earn the hard way, right?  I thought props were fine for those who needed them, not me – I was tough, and would only succeed if I relied on myself.  Until my injuries, I had trouble even “asking” for help from an inanimate object in a yoga class!

Then I injured myself and had no choice but to use the available yoga props.  What a difference!  I was able to alleviate my pain.  I found myself achieving more in class.  I got to the point where I continued to use props even if I didn’t “need” them, and my practice improved.

I realized that if I used a block, it didn’t mean that I couldn’t touch the floor.  It meant that I could do even better with a little help.  And then, I wondered if it wasn’t a metaphor for life.  (Yoga does crazy things like that to you.  One minute you’re trying to breathe and hold your body in a pretzel shape and the next thing you know, you’ve had a stunning revelation.)

I was afraid that if I asked for help, others would view me as weak.  They would see that this person who was so willing to help them didn’t have it all together.  (Spoiler alert:  that’s exactly what they saw when I didn’t ask for help.)  I was afraid that if they saw my weaknesses, they would think that I couldn’t be of any use to them.  So, I never asked – and continued to flounder.  Until the I wondered, what would happen if I did ask?  Would it be like finally breaking down and using a yoga block?

I decided to find out.

I started by assessing where I was in life and where I wanted to be.  Next, I wrote out some goals – real goals, with deadlines.  And to make sure I held myself accountable for reaching these goals, I started asking for help.  My husband and I have monthly accountability meetings to keep us on track.  I let friends, family and colleagues know what I am doing, and I ask them for help.

It hasn’t been nearly as scary as I thought it would be.  I’ve found that those around me really want to help.  So, I’ve accepted their offers, even when it’s tough to do so.  Even when the help is in a form I don’t really want but know I need.  I ask – and I make sure I – or someone I trust – is holding me accountable.

Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.  You will be pleasantly surprised at how many people want to assist you.  Don’t be afraid to accept the help you’re offered, even if it takes you waaaaay outside your comfort zone.

And if we ever meet in yoga class, make sure I use all the props.  I’ll do the same for you.

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Why I’m Doing This

When I started this blog at the end of last year, I promised myself I would:

  1. Be consistent – I would post every week
  2. Be honest – I wouldn’t white wash everything and I would write from a personal perspective. I wanted what I created to be real.

As I was trying to figure out what to write about this week, I realized it has been three years since I sold my first business, my “baby”.  I started writing.

I wrote about why I started the business and how much joy it brought me to be able to share my vision and help others.  I was going to tell you about the messages I received from women thanking me for helping them and how they inspired me to stay true to my vision.

I wrote about losing confidence in my abilities and place too much trust in the wrong people.  I shared the events that led up to my decision to sell, and that I later heard that many of these events were being orchestrated behind the scenes by these same people.

I wrote about how I constantly disappointed those closest to me and how we grew apart as I focused on nothing but the business.  I wrote about the anxiety I experienced, the stress-induced physical symptoms that led to an autoimmune disorder and support I had from these same wonderful people as I fought my way back to health.

I wrote that at the time of the sale, I didn’t feel anything but relief, that later the feelings of anger and failure would follow and that I wasn’t sure I would ever get past it at the time (spoiler alert: I did).

And finally, I wrote about being grateful for the experience.  When I was finished, I had 1500 words and no story.  I asked myself: why am I writing this?

I looked back at the reasons for starting my blog.  Nowhere does it say I have to write about certain things on certain days.  It doesn’t say that every post has to be good (phew).  It just says I have to post every week.  And I have to be honest.

Sometimes, we get so caught up in trying to perfect what we’re doing, we forget the reasons we started.  It never hurts to go back and review our “why” (for the record, I think that term’s overused, but I haven’t found a better one yet).  And remember that just because we’re not where we want to be now, doesn’t mean we failed, or that we’ll never reach our goals.  It just means that we need to keep going, and never give up.

So, I’ll keep writing.  And one day, I’ll share that story.


Messed-Up Confessions

I wish I was as fat as I thought I was 20 years ago.

I posted that thought on a Facebook thread

this morning.  It was a post in which one of my friends confessed that she had been ill and unable to go to the gym, which made her feel bad about her weight and herself.  She then asked if anyone else wanted to confess some “f-ed up” thoughts.  (h/t Roz the Diva)  So, I shared a thought I’ve had several times this winter, as I struggle to adjust to the changes my body is going through while having to cut way back on my exercise regimen because of injuries that have kept me from my normal schedule of pole dance training.  It’s tough.

Apparently, I’m not alone.  I’ve paraphrased some of the thoughts shared on the thread:

I was happy about the thought of illness-induced weight loss.
I was so upset when I didn’t lose any weight after a bout of food poisoning.
Sometimes, I “forget” to eat in the hope that I will lose weight.

And my thought:  I wish I was as fat as I thought I was 20 years ago.

Yes, I thought this was fat.  WTF was I thinkingrs ago. 

When I confessed this, I was astounded at how many people could relate.  (I also learned a new word, which I’m totally dropping in conversation.)  While it feels good to know I’m not alone, it also makes me feel sad that there are so many of us that feel this way about our bodies.  This image affects so many regardless of weight, shape or size.  Skinny, average, overweight, obese – it doesn’t matter.  And it’s not limited to women – ever heard the term man-o-rexia?  The struggle is real.

Fast forward to lunchtime, when I attended a restorative yoga class.  Restorative yoga is about practicing self-care and holding poses designed to release the tension and stress we carry in our bodies.  It’s a wonderful complement to exercise and helps balance the stresses of daily life.  At the end of class, the instructor recounted her experience of teaching yoga to a group of stroke patients.  They weren’t worried about how their bodies looked; their requests were more functional, such as:

I want to be able to close my hand all the way.
I want to stop urinating on myself.

Hello perspective.

I left that yoga class appreciating the simple things my body can do that I take for granted.  Like getting out of bed in the morning without help.  Taking a three mile walk and being able to “leg it out” when trying to cross a typical Houston street.  Going to yoga.  Being able to do a forward split.  And being able to do all of this and be one of the few people in my peer group who isn’t taking medications for health issues.

Maybe the next time my negative thoughts threaten to derail me, I’ll focus on all the wonderful things my body can do.  And, while I’m working toward my goals, I’ll appreciate my body for where it is – and what it looks like – at this very moment.

Because there’s a chance that I’ll look back 20 years from now and wish I still looked this good.

Bad Time to be a Man?

“Rape is a crime. But trying to pick up someone, however persistently or clumsily, is not — nor is gallantry an attack of machismo.” – Excerpt from Le Monde, January 2018.

I was out one night catching up with a colleague when the conversation turned to the #metoo movement.  I cautiously brought up an article I read earlier that week.  It was an open letter published in Le Monde that was signed by over 100 French women.  I asked if my friend had seen the letter that Catherine Deneuve had signed.  She had, and commented, “I wanted to ask you but I wasn’t sure how to bring up the topic.  I agreed with most – not all – of the points in the letter.  Overall, it seems like it’s a bad time to be a man.”

Which got me wondering – is it a bad time to be a man?

It seems that everywhere I turn these days, I hear a new story of what men should or shouldn’t say or do, or how bad men are in general.  I even read an article that tells the story of a male boss backpedaling immediately after telling a female employee that he liked her hair blond (she had just changed her hair color.)  What?  Why is it now wrong to comment this way on a coworker’s appearance?

I have worked in male-dominated companies for most of my career.  And to be honest, I prefer a coed work environment.  In my experience, men tend to be more direct and have relatively few hidden agendas.  I enjoyed the jokes and (mostly) harmless flirtations that were a part of this environment – if I felt someone had crossed a line, I said so.  That’s not to say it was perfect.  It does mean that as someone who has experienced true harassment, I am able to recognize the difference between appropriate behavior and crossing the line.

In the wake of all the current scandals, there seems to be a backlash against men, all men.  Now we have articles making the case that a man telling a woman she looks nice, or patting her on the shoulder, is off-limits.  What is happening here?  Have we abandoned all common sense in interactions between men and women?

Like it or not, men and women are fundamentally different, and are going to approach situations differently.  And I like it that way.  I don’t want to live in a sterile world, where we all have stilted, professional conversations at work or anywhere else.  That would be just as bad as isolating ourselves from one another.

So, rather than damn all men for the actions of a few, I’ll stick with the Golden Rule.  If I feel a man has crossed a line into inappropriateness, I find a way to tell him (my personal preference is humor or deflection) and it usually resolves the matter.  And, if a man compliments my hair or tells me I look nice, I’m going to appreciate it for what it is – a compliment – and say thank you.

Because I don’t want it to be a bad time to be anyone – man or woman.

I know this can be a heated issue and welcome your thoughts on the subject.  Have we gone too far on this issue?  Are you walking on eggshells in your daily interactions?  Share your thoughts.

What You “Should” Do

After selling my brick and mortar business, I decided I wanted to write.  I was going to write a book.  I knew what I wanted to do next.IMG_1180_2

Fast forward:  three years later and no book.  Instead, I applied to jobs.  I took on freelance consulting work.  I did everything but write a book.  I talked about writing a book.  I would write passages and outlines.  I wrote blog posts.  I never shared any of my blogs and I never wrote a book.


Intimidation for one thing.  I mean, writing a whole book?  That’s tough.  I read a lot of books and I can’t imagine how I can write something that ties together to tell a story.  I would try for a while – some of what I wrote was good, other stuff could give watching paint dry a run for entertainment value.  What if I failed?  Even though I said I wanted to do this, I never went for it.

Again, why?

The biggest reason I didn’t write – not seriously – is that I believed what others were telling me.  “That’s not a real job.”  “You can’t do that full time.”  “Your story line is too narrow, not enough people will want to read it.”  “That’s not what people do!”

You know what the worst part is?  I’ve agreed with these arguments.  I’ve made some of these arguments.  I didn’t want to do this because that’s “not what I should do”.  And I let it derail me.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard these arguments.  When I announced that I was going to leave the energy industry to start a fitness business that specialized in pole dancing, I got a lot of push-back.  “The market is too small.”  “You can’t make money doing that.”  “I wouldn’t take those classes.”  “You don’t know anything about that business.”  I didn’t let it stop me.  Seven years and three owners later, the legacy continues.

Why am I so willing to let it slip now?  Why am I willing to let others dictate what I “should” do?  Shouldn’t living my life the way I think is best be what I “should” do?

It’s time to do what I want to do.  And the only one who can make that decision is me.  Maybe my path won’t be direct, and I’m sure I’ll run into some (more) bumps along the way, but I’ll be doing what I should do.


Is there something you want to do but you’re holding back because of what you think you should do?  Share in the comments – let’s inspire one another!




Cheeky Shorts

11427923_10207408530436493_3530835583225594329_oTen years ago, I dreamed of starting a business with that helped women become the best versions of themselves.  I wanted women to feel more confident, empowered and strong.  Most of all, I wanted women to feel sexy and unafraid.  A few years later, I realized my dream:  I started a pole dancing school.

One thing that nobody ever tells you is that when you create a business for others, you’re often too busy running the business to enjoy its services.  As I was helping others feel more confident, as I watched women go from apprehensive and unhappy to confident and fit, I started to lose my confidence.  And a pair of cheeky shorts almost derailed me.

I sold cheeky shorts at my business. I refused to wear them.  Why?  Because I didn’t like the way my body looked in them.  They were too cheeky on me.  I could see all my flaws, my excess weight.  “When I lose a few pounds, and tone up, I’ll wear them” I would tell myself.  “I just can’t do that right now – what will my students think?” I’d wonder.

A few weeks later, I was getting ready to order product and realized that we didn’t need to reorder these shorts.  That’s when it hit me.  I wasn’t selling cheeky shorts because I wasn’t wearing cheeky shorts.  By refusing to wear them because my body wasn’t “perfect”, I was, by example telling my customers to do the same thing.

It was a startling – and humbling – realization.

That afternoon, I pulled a pair of cheeky shorts off the shelf and put them on.  I was nervous as I stepped out to teach a class and almost ran into the storage room to change.  But I took a deep breath and greeted my class.  The support was astounding.

My students came up to me and complimented me on how they looked.  One woman even went so far as to wish she had my body!  I was blown away.  And the shorts flew out of the store.

All too often, we unconsciously wait for the “perfect” time to look for a new job, take a big vacation, start a family or business, even try a new restaurant.  We wait too long to follow our dreams.  And in waiting for the perfect time, we miss out because we could be working toward our dreams right now.

Do you have a dream you’re ignoring?  What is your (metaphorical or real) cheeky shorts story?  What are you putting off until the perfect time?  By waiting, what message are you sending to others?

Whatever it is, I invite you to get up off the couch, don those (metaphorical or real) cheeky shorts, take a deep breath and go.  I’ll be here to encourage you, and I guarantee your actions will inspire others.

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