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Woofs of Wisdom for Living

My name is Angie. I’m the one with the pretty face. That silly black dog on the right is my brother Lucas. (Trish Manuel made us look so good!) Our mom is Catherine Doucette. She has been working late every night this week, so I offered to write the blog.

I have done my best to teach Mom about living well. Lucas is two years old, and I am four. Combining our long years of dogdom, here are our Woofs of Wisdom…

1   Stretch every morning. Downward dog is our favourite. Mom prefers meditation music while she moves through sun salutations and yin stretches in the early morning.

2   Wiggle your tail. There’s always a reason to be happy. Comfy bed. Flax oil on our kibble. Belly rubs.

3   Trust your sniffer. If it smells funny, don’t go near it. Mom says she trusts her gut. What a waste of time. Sniffing is so much faster.

4   Stop counter surfing. Lucas is still working on giving this one up. But if we eat what’s closest, chances are we may not feel that good afterward.

5   Take a nap. We never miss a chance to curl up. Lucas is a blanket hog, so I always make sure I have my own.

6   Give lots of kisses. We greet the people we love with enthusiasm every time, whether they’ve been gone for an hour or a week. That way they’ll always look forward to spending time with us. It also gives us a better chance of getting belly rubs.

7   Stay focused. When we want the ball, we go for the ball. We don’t give up. We don’t stop chasing until we get it. It may get Ruff! But it’s worth it.

8  Make time to dance. If Lucas and his four left paws can learn to freestyle, anyone can.

We love you, Mom. Can we go for that walk now please?

Mary Poppins’ Advice for Entrepreneurs

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.
You find the fun and Snap! the job’s a game,
and every task you undertake becomes a piece of cake.
A lark! A spree! It`s very clear to see
that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down…”

~ Julie Andrews in Disney’s Mary Poppins singing
A Spoonful of Sugar by the Sherman Brothers

Every entrepreneur has business tasks they would prefer to hand off to someone else. But until we become as rich as Oprah, there will always be a chore or two that we would rather avoid. I think Mary Poppins had the answer. Not a literal spoonful of sugar, of course, because then I’d have to write a whole new blog post about soaring North American child obesity rates. A little fun does get the work done though.

Last week I had a ton of receipts staring at me from my desk, screaming to be entered into a spreadsheet. I could make you a very, very long list of what I would rather do than that kind of paperwork. Let’s just say that picking up after the dogs was looking like a pretty good gig.

"A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down in the most delightful way..."

Instead of staring at it guiltily for another week, I made a deal with myself. I gathered the paperwork and headed to the couch downstairs late Friday afternoon. I entered expense receipts while I watched my favourite television shows. Between shows, I double-checked my work. Did it take longer? Yes. Was it worth it for me? Yes.

When I don’t have extra time, I make different deals with myself. I work on that favourite work assignment *after* I call the cranky client. No break to run downstairs to the kitchen for sweet pepper pesto pita pizza (mmmmm) until I file that pile of paperwork. No blog writing until I finish the fifteenth and final round of editing on that super long manuscript.

How do you find the fun in the business you’d rather avoid? What is your spoonful of sugar?

Business and Life Lessons from Angry Birds

The last place I expected to find a life lesson was in a game of Angry Birds on myiPhone. I was taking a break from work, pinging various furious feathered friends in different directions to eliminate these space pigs when it occurred to me — how easy it is to try over and over again in a game. 

Aside from the odd “ugh” or “oohh” grumbling, I barely thought about it when I failed a level. I simply made another attempt and another, knowing I would figure it out eventually.
Imagine if we faced each day the same way. Didn’t get chosen by that potential client. That’s fine. Keep picking up the phone until you find new customers. Losing weight. No problem. Don’t beat yourself up for that chocolate chip cookie. Start over as many times as you need to find what works for you. Wish you had dealt with that work situation differently. No worries. Think of a new way to handle it next time. And move on.
It shows how much energy we can waste looking backwards. Sure, reflection is good. It’s healthy. But why invest energy thinking negatively about ourselves or our situation? Why worry whether or not we’ll find the right solution? Keep on adjusting our lives, being positive, and doing what we need to do.
Would it be too much of a pun if I called my time with Angry Birds a “game changer”? Back to my iPhone for a break now. Gee, I wonder what Freecell can teach me…

* photo courtesy of free pictures at http://www.deshow.net

Comments (4)
1. Sharon O’Day said on 4/24/12 – 10:56AM
I was at a conference this weekend where Rich Schefren of Strategic Profits (I consider Rich one of the true thinkers in this industry) talked about “pivots” as changes in direction based on what has been learned. (Sound familiar, Catherine?) “Successful entrepreneurs are those with better and more frequent pivots, not necessarily those with the better ideas …”
2. Martha Giffen said on 4/24/12 – 11:28AM
Funny! I always say playing Bejeweled Blitz is the time for my left brain thinking to happen! Love your “try, try again” attitude!
3. angie m jordan said on 4/24/12 – 11:50AM
I think that is a wonderful lesson. One step is all that is required to move forward. Keep going, keep trying, one step at a time.
4. Kim Eagles said on 4/24/12 – 12:06PM
Love this thought process…my family will be happy to hear that there is a lesson to learn playing Angry Birds LOL So true…pick yourself up and fling yourself at the next challenge!! 

It’s All About Me… Your Business Writing is Anyway

Today’s technology tools are great, like GoDaddyIntuit, and VistaPrint. Competent computer users can create impressive websites, brochures, and business cards. Yet templates are merely tools. They don’t make any of us better writers. If you’re a newbie to business writing or want to improve your scribe skills, try this process…

1 – It’s all about me. It is. Really. I don’t care if you have the happiest staff on the planet. Outline your pitch based on my needs. I do care that your customer service rivals Disney and that your product can adapt to my needs with Shapeshifter speed and accuracy.

2 – Write. Don’t edit. Don’t grammar check. Don’t analyze it. Not yet.

3 – Review your work. Replace challenging text with simpler and fewer words. Clarify industry terms. The decision-maker may not know your field. Edit overused words. Try this list from Thompson Writing. A couple of personal pet peeves that can make me a cranky pants are…

  • Leading edge – really? the creative thinkers found better words eons ago.
  • Out of the box thinking – please put the phrase back in the box. forever.
  • Variety is the spice of life – it sure is. so express yourself in your own words.

4 – Whether you’re selling adult training or zoo passes, mix it up. Vary paragraph and sentence length. Keep paragraphs to five lines of text or less. Short sentences imply speed. Long, multi-clause sentences are like long-winded experts. As much as we want to listen, we tune out pretty quickly.

5 – Cut it out. Writers are emotionally attached to their wise words (me too!). Chop anyway.

6 – Find someone who hates you. Okay, that’s extreme. Find at least three people in your target audience that don’t like you as much as your mother or best friend. Edit again.

7 – Proofread by reading aloud. Spellcheck is not always right. Ask someone to proofread. Then proofread again.

Become a skilled business scribe, or contract someone who is. Just make sure you are using those tools to send the message your customers need to hear.

Comments (4)
1. Mary Francis said on 4/23/12 – 04:52PM
What a great blog and you filled it with lots of information and some useful links. I would have thought you were a professional blogger. Can’t wait to read your second blog.
2. Barbara Griffin Billig said on 4/23/12 – 06:55PM
Enjoyed your blog. Thanks for taking the time and sharing. I will post it on: http://facebook.com/BarbaraBilligReadersandWriters.com with a link back to you.
3. Valerie Bauer said on 4/23/12 – 09:31PM
Blog writing is addictive, you may be getting the habit! Check out my blog at http://nooneaskedme-gwammie.blogspot.ca/2012/04/about-homeless-teens-in-saint-john-nb.html?spref=fb
4. Catherine Doucette said on 4/23/12 – 10:50PM
Thanks Mary and Barbara! Appreciate the support. Valerie, yes, it is addictive. Great to be able to share like this!