Stressed Out? Don’t Fight It, Embrace It

I’ve been a big ball of stress lately. Wound like a top and spinning out of control. Working on three books, each at different lifecycle stages, plus working full-time and being a mom to my three little ones, a housekeeper and a happy wife…yikes! Hello, DOWNTIME??

Strange as it may seem, stress fuels my drive for success in all endeavors. Yes, I may be a little snippy at times…okay, fine a LOT snippy! But at the end of the day, I’m charged to succeed. Fired up to excel. Excited to pursue.

How is that possible?

The stress I’m referring to is called acute stress…the kind that’s fueled by adrenaline. And I’m evidently not alone in my belief that stress can positively contribute to success. Kristin Wehner, whose company, Kinetic Enterprise LLC, helps entrepreneurs leverage their health in business, stated acute stress “provides the immediate resources necessary to think clearly and react quickly. It’s that superhero-esque, eleventh hour focus.”

This Kristen agrees wholeheartedly. For me, it helps get multiple jobs done. It narrows my focus and helps me keep organized. I may be a raving you-know-what in the process, but I get stuff done…a heck of a lot of stuff. Being stressed works for me. I’m not saying it works for my husband or my kids, but I’m good with it.

The key is knowing your threshold. Too much acute stress will inevitably become counterproductive. Be aware of your body and mind. Take a breather every now and again to keep the creative juices flowing freely. Schedule “nothing” time for yourself, you know, to recharge the old batteries and all that. I’ve found that I can’t just “turn things off” according to a set schedule. I think…ALL THE TIME. So take a few minutes to let ideas marinate while you “do nothing.”

The correlation between stress and inspiration is an interesting one. I wonder how many more people think and process the way I do.

How do you think and work best? Do you think stress holds you back or makes you more effective?

Time For The UNLIKELY VENTURE Cover Reveal!

Yay!!!!!  Time for the big COVER REVEAL!!!!!!!  UNLIKELY VENTURE is coming…November 10!!!!!!!!

Waking up to all the Tweets and cover reveal posts was AWESOME!!!!  Thank you SO MUCH to all the fabulous book bloggers for making such a big splash for UNLIKELY VENTURE!!!! xoxo

You’ll finally get to meet all the characters I’ve casually referenced over the past months and find out why I’m so obsessed with them!

I hope you love it as much as I do.  <3

Unlikely Venture_FINAL_high

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

After learning Jessica’s been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, her fiancé bolted out of her life as if he was on fire.  She finds solace in her career–no distractions or romantic entanglements there!

But the universe has its own agenda.

Three thousand miles away from home and in the most unlikely of circumstances, Jessica meets Silicon Valley rising star James Callahan and her world is instantly turned upside down.  Things go further awry when she encounters a ghost from the past.  That one night of reckless abandon is back to haunt her and the control she fought so hard to regain is now in the hands of another.

Plagued by betrayal and guilt over his dad’s untimely death, James left Cambridge in search of a new beginning.  With laser-focus, he built a cutting edge technology company now on the brink of financial success.  Romance is the last thing on his mind…until he meets Jessica.

Fate brought them together, awakening their dormant emotions.  But Jessica’s scandalous secret consumes her and threatens the very happiness she feared she’d never find with another man.  Can James handle the truth about her past?  Or did she pick the wrong guy yet again?

Everything Changes, For Better or Worse

I actually posted this awhile back but I caught an episode of Shark Tank and I had to find it to reblog.

They say change is good.  Perhaps it is, in the long run.  But in the short-term, it is just plain scary, primarily because it forces us into the unknown. Always daunting.  Change can be exciting but nerve-wracking at the same time.  It can force us into positions where we need to take risks we were never before ready to face.  Comfort zones are eliminated, and new challenges may arise.

A few months ago, a friend and I went to see Barbara Corcoran speak at a local college.  She arrived an hour and a half LATE but I forgave her because her presentation was pretty entertaining and she left me with a quote I continue to use because it is SO TRUE – PERCEPTION BECOMES REALITY.

Courtesy of www.abc.com

Courtesy of http://www.abc.com

Early on in her career, before she became a real estate mogul, Barbara had a business partner/boyfriend who loaned her money to start a real estate business.  Long story short, he hooked up with the office secretary (also her best friend) and broke Barbara’s heart.  After some time went by, the couple unceremoniously announced that they were getting married.  Poor Barbara became the third wheel and finally decided that she needed to go out on her own.  Her ex told her she’d never be able to make it without him.  HA! Who’s laughing now, Ramone Simone???

Anyway, back to my point…

She did go out on her own…and for anyone who watches Shark Tank, you know that she is a monumental success in her field and a millionaire over and over.  Change, though unwelcome at first, forced her into this place. It backed her up against a wall and made her choose her next move, a highly lucrative one as it turned out.

Wrestling with change does not always yield such profitable results, but entrepreneurial spirit welcomes the prospect of an alternate reality – not like in Star Trek; I’m talking about a clean slate and a brand-new plan of action.  Who says you can’t end up like Barbara???

See A Need, Fill A Need

Yes, I stole the title from the movie “Robots.”  But I just credited them, so we’re good.  It’s a powerful statement, one that begs a question…

Are people going to pay for your idea or service?

This is the very first question you need to ask yourself as an entrepreneur.  And answer it honestly because if you don’t, you’re going to spend a lot of money chasing down market share that you will never be able to capture.

Something needs to set your offering apart from the rest, otherwise it will become noise.  And people tune out noise.

When my best friend and I created our first handbag collection, we foolishly thought high quality leathers and hardware in vibrant colors would set us apart.  And if that didn’t do it, we always had our little “story” to fall back on.  Krina handbags were designed for the “thinking” woman.  So we included a penny hidden in the lining of each bag.  It was our cute little thing.  Guess what?  Nobody cared.  We loved that design element but it didn’t sell the bags.  It was different, but alas, not different enough.

Ever hear of the Butler bag?  I wasn’t a fan, because the styles didn’t do much for me. Plus, I’m too much of a handbag snob to carry a non-designer bag.  But the utility is what captured the hearts of women everywhere, proof positive that a large chunk of my target market was more concerned with function than fashion. My pennies couldn’t hold up to Jen Groover’s clever way of compartmentalizing life into a structurally-sound handbag.

 

 

 

 

She identified a need and created the solution.  It’s made her a raging success.  Her prices were competitive early on and she was able to claim her market share.  As time has gone on, the pricing increased but her fan base hasn’t wavered.  Kudos, Jen!

Jen Groover addressed a major pain point for women struggling for some degree of organization in their busy lives.  And that’s the name of the game.

Rejection Never Felt So Satisfying

Like all authors seeking validation by gaining acceptance to an exclusive publishing house, I submitted “Unlikely Venture” in hopes of scoring a lucrative contract and promises of making the bestseller lists.  Fortunately, like a Band-Aid being yanked from a wound, two out of the three I submitted to rejected it right away, for a variety of reasons that were kind of evasive and basically not very constructive.  Part of this was my error, as I submitted to the wrong imprints with the publishers.  Oh well.  That’s when my Type A alter ago stepped in and convinced me to self-publish.

Courtesy of writersontheend.com

Courtesy of writersontheend.com

But what about the third publisher?

Well, the third one was a little behind the 8-ball. The editors requested the first three chapters after FINALLY approving my query. That was a couple of months ago, when I was on the path toward self-publishng.  I sent them anyway…couldn’t hurt, right?

Fast forward to this morning.  I scrolled through my emails to find a reply from the publisher. Here’s what I read:

Kristen,
Thanks for letting us take a look. Unfortunately, we have to pass. There’s something in the tone of the heroine that’s just a little to gritty for our contemporary line. We do wish you the best in placing this work.
Gritty?  According to Dictionary.com, “gritty” means “resolute and courageous; plucky.”
Hell, that kind of rejection is AWESOME!  I hate pathetic, damsel in distress heroines.  If that’s the kind of girl they want, yeah they’d be barking up the wrong tree with Jessica Latham.  It wasn’t meant to be.
But shame on me for not doing the correct research.  You see, I was embarking on a new business venture, seeking an investor without knowing if our end goals were in sync.  I assumed an established publisher would be able to reach my target demographic, just because they have deeper pockets and a larger distribution network.  But that’s not necessarily the case.  We don’t share the same vision and strategy.  They are looking for something I don’t offer.  Their response is very clear on that fact.  And the submission turned out to be a wasted effort on my part.  We wouldn’t be compatible business partners because we aren’t aligned in our objectives.
Lesson learned…resources alone do not guarantee an effective business relationship and researching potential business partners will ensure your product or idea gets a fair shot at evaluation.
And as for me, I continue along my path…as a sole proprietor. =)

Please Brand Me Now!!!!

Branding.

Argh.  Sooo challenging…and so permanent.  It needs to be just right.

Identifying your “brand” is kind of like going to college, where the goal is trying to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life.  But at eighteen, who really knows THAT?

You have to pick a major but what are the odds that in a few years you’ll even be interested in pursuing a career in the field?  Your scope of interests expands, you identify and refine your skill sets, you grow as a person. So at the end of the four years, are you where you thought you’d eventually end up?

Haha, not me!

I started out pre-law then decided to become a biology major with grandiose plans of becoming a patent lawyer.  That didn’t work too well, so I tried psychology next, then political science.  Finally, I landed on accounting.  Never used my degree, and the extent of my accounting knowledge is limited to distinguishing a debit from a credit.

The point is, we aren’t the same people at 18 as we are at 25 and then at 40.  We develop and expand our horizons.  So while it’s important to figure out how you’re going to differentiate yourself from the competition, you don’t always know out of the gate who and what you will ultimately become.  The reality may be vastly different than what you imagined.  And that impacts your branding.

I can tell you from personal experience I’ve branded and rebranded myself many times over the years, trying to figure out how I want the world to know me.  This became even more challenging for me as an author because at the end of the day, I write romance novels.  But I am much more multi-faceted – how can I reflect that in my platform?  I finally figured it out, but it was a journey.

I first did an exercise where I created a word cloud.  I wrote down every single interest and skill I have.  It became a little unwieldy, so I narrowed it down.  Way too much for a tagline and nothing of real value popped out.

More introspection followed.

Courtesy of melodyhossaini.com

Courtesy of melodyhossaini.com

I’ve blogged for years, primarily about the trials and tribulations of being a working mother with three kids.  Maybe that would be a good platform.  But what’s the hook?  How does that differentiate me from other romance authors?  I’m not the only one with kids and a lot of angst.

It may make me relatable but…it doesn’t set me apart.

I consulted with the experts, read books and articles, searching for inspiration.  I created a bunch of different taglines using the thesaurus app on my phone.  I blogged some more.  I made notes about themes from my books.  Nothing, nothing, NOTHING.

Fast forward a few months.

As I prepared for my upcoming book launch, I realized I needed business cards….and a tagline.  Darn it!  Back to the drawing board.  There was no way I was ordering business cards without a logo from Fiverr.  That site rocks!  And I couldn’t get a logo unless I established a BRAND!

So how can I tie my interests to my books?  I write romance…set in Silicon Valley.  Think venture capitalists, startup CEOs and IPOs…

And now I blog about innovation and entrepreneurship and…IDEAS!  My own personal business experiences combined with interesting startup concepts.

The rest, as they say, is history.  I finally figured myself out.  I am “The Idea Mama, Vogue Entrepreneur and Author.”

It was a good day…and my business cards look fabulous!

The Flower Power Entrepreneur

Do you know what I absolutely hate spending money on?

Greeting cards.

I spend tons on cards for people that may be displayed on a counter for a couple of days and then casually get tossed into the trash.  Even the “discount” cards are still around $2.99.  And let’s not even discuss the dollar store cards.  Much cheaper but…scary-looking!  You know what I mean?  If you’ve ever seen one, we’re on the same page.

But a friend of mine recently formed a business that fundamentally changes the lifecycle of a card.

Channeling her passion for photography, she creates high-quality greeting cards featuring removable photos of exotic florals.  So not only are you presenting a card, but a photo that the recipient can display and enjoy long after the occasion.

Her website, www.flowerpowerphotocards.com, displays 13 different designs, reasonably priced at $2.75 per card plus shipping. The 4″ x 6″ photographs are mounted on fine card stock. The blank card measures 4.5″ x 6.25″ and an envelope is included.

b57a1a9f826e495583ee9ec9eff43f84il_570xN.622853375_2yhee73ab8280c8d41b58f98309f4ba63f62

Nobody in their right mind would throw THESE cards away!

It Can’t Just Be Smart…It Needs To Be Vogue

It can’t just be a “smart” watch.

Because Apple would effectively eliminate and alienate every style-and-label-conscious consumer in its target audience.

Common objection to an iDevice gracing my wrist – Why do I need a smart watch?  I’d rather sport a Chanel J-12 or my Cartier Balloon Bleu.  I have an iPhone…with a super blingy case…I’m good.

Well, I guess Apple got the memo because the company recently added some big designer names to its payroll – Burberry Chief Executive Angela Ahrendts, Yves Saint Laurent’s Paul Deneve, Nike’s Ben Shaffer and now Marc Newson.

And the designs?

Let’s just say Apple should definitely see a positive ROI under the direction of their recent hires.

The watch designs combine fashion and function.  A selection of elements – from bands to faces to color, textures and metals – will certainly satisfy varied tastes of the masses.  Your watch can emulate your personal style – and still deliver on the smart part.

Check out Apple’s website for all of the combinations.  You can go as high-end as you want and select leather complimented with an 18 karat gold finish.  Or maybe you’d prefer something more sporty – go for the space gray aluminum and a more modular face.  The customizable possibilities are extensive.  There really is a style for everyone.

2015 should be a pretty lucrative year for Apple.   =)

Jersey Girls Love Their Barefoot Sandals!

Ahhh…Oyster Fest 2014.

Lobster rolls, crab cakes, clams, oysters, beer and…bling?

photo-4

Something I’ve always loved about the festivals in Jersey is that they celebrate small business owners.  We always find interesting products in our travels and if they are any bit girly, Lulu is at the table, front and center, ready to patronize.

Yesterday was no exception.  Lulu found Jersey Girl Barefoot Sandals and fell in love.  It really is such a clever product – jewelry for your feet that you can wear with or without sandals.  There were all types of designs to choose from.  Of course, Lulu decided she needed an anklet to match each of the sandals.  She’s such an easy sell…just like her mother.  =)

barefoot_sandals_key_west_group_1

Here is a snap of Lulu and Bev Beveridge, entrepreneur and one of the co-owners of this super-creative venture, showing off their foot candy!

photo-5

I was really impressed with the selection of styles and the price was reasonable – we paid $10 per sandal, which any woman knows is a bargain for bling!

This is a pic of yours truly and Bev.

photo-6

Check them out on Facebook!

And don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card by clicking here:  http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/f30243524/.

 

Yet Another Teaser & Giveaway…YAY!!!!!

Hubby was just on Facebook and pointed to a picture of a girl named Gina who just had a Scrabble piece of the letter “G” tattooed to her ankle.  He said, “Would you ever do that?”  And I shook my head vehemently.  “No, absolutely not.  My name doesn’t begin with a ‘G’.”

LOL.  But seriously….

I’m so excited to plan for the launch of “Unlikely Venture!”  It’s been a long time preparing for this and I can’t believe the launch is almost here!

So I had to release yet another fabulous teaser…accompanied by a giveaway!

Enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card but clicking here:  http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/f30243524/

All you need to do is: sign up for my mailing list, like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter or friend me on Booktropolous Social.  You can enter once or up to four times!  It’s super easy!!

1-3

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,363 other followers