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5 Simple Truths That Will Shatter the Glass Ceiling

We all groan when we hear the term “Glass Ceiling”.

You know, that really nauseating term that implies that no matter how high our heels are, we will only ever be able to go “so far” in life?

We all cringe over it for different reasons.

One woman may feel it reminds her of the upward climb that seems so futile.

Another shakes her head and is thinking, “Really? People are still saying that?” She’s the one that is rewriting the rules, instead of caving to the ones that the men wrote before her.

Which one are you?

Know your fate is not etched in stone. All you need is a little perspective to help you let those concerns go.

Here are 5 simple truths that will give you just the perspective you need, and shatter that glass ceiling once and for all:

  1. You don’t need to be perfect. You remember this a lot when you are at home.

    As a Mom you know Johnny’s veggies don’t need to be cut to the hundredth of an inch every time. Nobody’s going to notice if Suzie’s ballet costume is missing one or two rhinestones, and the world will not end if you bring store bought cupcakes to the teacher’s appreciation day meeting. But something different happens when you go out into the professional world. Paula Sellers, author and human rights activist, says that’s the biggest problem with us women, we believe we have to be perfect, at work, in leadership and in business. This perceived need to be perfect at work is impacting your career potential, and not in a good way. You have the strength that it takes to withstand the pinched toes in your heels. That means you have the strength to feel the pinch of letting go of your fears. I find women have two fears; 1) of not being perfect, 2) of being too successful. I tell my clients, if you feel you are shining too brightly and others are concerned, buy them a pair of sunglasses. Your bright light will never dim the light in others; it will only spark a way for them to find their own brilliance. In other words, get over your need to be perfect at work. And if you listen very closely, that sound you will hear is the sound that glass makes when it just starts to crack.
  2. You can handle the odds; they are currently rolling in your favor. The good news is women are holding up to be the best leaders for today’s workforce. Our natural style of collaboration and empathy is just what today’s workforce needs to be effective. Women are on the run and are running businesses from small to large.

    So for the first time, the odds are in your favor. So step into your power and activate the skills that come naturally to being a woman (skills learnable by men) to take a quantum leap in your career, in business, or in leadership. Given the door is open a bit wider, why not go through?
  3. You have less competition than you think. It’s exciting to see how many women are making the Forbes 500 list. It’s true that the numbers are slim and small, but mighty in quality. It is true that even though those numbers are increasing every year, most of the names on that list are men.

    There are many men who don’t make the list either. The odds are also stacked against every Olympic athlete that ever makes it to the podium. The odds are also stacked against any person that has put in a bid for the Nobel Prize. So what. They did it anyway. World famous Russian ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov says he never thinks about the competition, he considers his greatest competition himself. Women are competitive by nature, and we spend a lot of time wondering and worrying about not only what the men are thinking, but what the other women are thinking and twittering about as well. If you want to live the kind of life that shatters the glass ceiling, you have to act like your competition doesn’t matter. Because it doesn’t. The only thing that matters is you doing your best every time, and your better than your best every other time after that. It doesn’t mean you need to be perfect, just that you keep striving to do your best, and better than your best, every single time.
  4. You ARE enough.  These are the words of Nancy Mills, interviewed in my upcoming book Running in High Heels: “You are enough…just as you are.”

    What Nancy wants you and every women waiting for the sound of glass breaking to know is that you, your truth, your goals, your vision, your…whatever it is, is enough.  When you remember that, and beat to that drum and that drum only, that’s when you’ll hear the glass crack a little bit more. You don’t live your life to be an Oscar winner or Pulitzer Prize winner, as to do so would be paralyzing. As an author I know how perfection can put the brakes on creative process. You have to live your life doing your very best. Such was the case for J.K. Rowling, who just…wrote because she had a story in her that needed to be written.  She didn’t write with the intention of creating a multi-million dollar brand. She had a vision, and did her very best to put it on paper for the entire world to see. Regardless of what your goal is, be true to it, and simply keep moving forward.
  5. It’s not only okay to break the rules, it’s a must. It’s a new day. We no longer have to wait to be invited to the table; the 21st century goddess claims her own seat. She knows that the sky is her limit, and she’s not afraid to stand tall in whatever shoes she puts on to get her there. She’s claiming that job, that partner, that promotion and running for it like it’s the last dress in her size on the Niemen’s annual sale rack.

Yes, the numbers can be daunting. It’s actually a good thing that there are so few women at the top right now. All that means is, there’s more room for you. If you truly want to shatter that ceiling, you need to tap into your inherent power to do so.

Like Mikhail Baryshnikov as the lights go down, you have only yourself to compete with. And, when you lead yourself to excellence, the rest will follow.

You don’t need to be perfect, you ARE enough.

You are a renegade.

You can and you will win any way that you want, because for you the glass ceiling doesn’t exist. For you? The sky’s the limit.

So You Think You Can’t Sell?

Working in sales is hard.

You have to be actively trying to get what you want,while also trying to give someone what they want, or even trying to convince someone that they want what you’re selling, even if they really don’t!

Most of us don’t think we’re very good at sales.

But think about these scenarios:

You are trying to get your kid to eat their vegetables. You are telling someone about the movie you saw last night. You are praising someone else’s work You’re asking your friend for a favour. You are trying to convince yourself that today’s a good day to start your diet. What do these scenarios have in common? You guessed it: you are actively trying to sell someone or something. “That’s not selling!”, you say? Then what the heck is selling? Well, technically speaking selling is a form of influence to reach a desired outcome. We are so used to describing selling as the used car salesman’s pitch but it’s more than that. It is also an essential life skill that goes back to the stone age and something that everybody does everyday, all day. The reality is that some people are just better at it than others. And it sucks if you aren’t good at it. What is the hardest sales pitch? Selling YOU to YOU! It’s damn near impossible to sell, convince, or influence yourself when the controlling voice in  your head slams the phone down on the sales call day after day.

The common denominator to your success and failure is….YOU!

If you constantly blast yourself with external, negative crap that doesn’t mean anything except what you make it mean (the “I am not good enough, I can’t do this, it’s too hard”…that crap) you will never close the deal with yourself.

It comes down to choice; will you or will you not listen to that little voice that can stop you dead?

So if you can’t sell YOU to YOU, then you will have an even harder time selling something to someone else.

Try this on for size; change the word sell to help. Instead of selling, you are helping.

Zig Ziglar taught us: “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want”.
Shifting your mindset from selling to helping will change your behaviour and your sales results. Giving and helping activates the power of reciprocity.

The greatest competitive advantage to you and your business is the art of selling or helping. Master it! Blow it up! Milk it! Do it like your life depends on it! Selling is the #1 skill you need to have in your business and in your life.

Sales = Income. 95% of businesses fail because the proprietor believes the product or service will sell itself.

That’s craziness. That’s laziness. That’s failure in the making.

Selling is a learned skill, not an innate way of being.

The bottom line is this: if you aren’t good at sales, life will be more difficult for you. Period. So what do you do about it? Listen and learn, and practice, practice, practice!

You do not need a fancy car or fancy shoes to be a sales person. You do not need a ‘sales force’ in your business. You don’t even need money or education to sell your business.

The bottom line is this: if there is a cash flow problem in your business, then you don’t know how to, refuse to, or think it’s not important enough to know how to sell.

Here are more than 30 ways to be more successful at selling. Implement the easy ones first, then tackle the rest one a time. There are a ton more tips, so create your own list.

  • Work hard on sales, but work harder on yourself.
  • Dress like you don’t need the sale.
  • You’ve got two ears and one mouth. Listen twice as much as you talk.
  • Change the word “selling” to “helping.”
  • Change the way you think about selling vs. helping.
  • Have a positive attitude.
  • Be willing to learn.
  • Don’t lie.
  • Be prepared.
  • Develop a team.
  • Talk to anyone about your business.
  • Write down all the people you know, whether you like them or not.
  • Do not pre-qualify your list.
  • Follow up.
  • Don’t be shy.
  • Fake it.
  • Do not assume anything.
  • Do it everyday.
  • Read lots of good business books.
  • Be coachable or teachable.
  • Hold yourself personally accountable.
  • Don’t make excuses.
  • Don’t blame.
  • Squash your fear of what others think or don’t think about you.
  • Show gratitude for what you have.
  • Barter.
  • Ask for referrals.
  • Ask for the sale.
  • Stop thinking and start doing.
  • Don’t quit.
  • Hire a coach.
  • Have positive affirmations that override your little voice.
  • Invest in yourself.
  • Be consistent, diligent and persistent.
  • Never underestimate how big you really are.
  • Be the person you know you can be.

The bottom line is this: results cannot exceed your self concept. People love to be right: if you think you can’t do it, you’re right, you won’t. Good luck with that!

If all else fails think back to those little selling scenarios in your life and sell with the ferocity that you’d use to try and get your kid to eat those darn peas!

**Edited by Taylor Brown, Associate Editor of Goddess Connections’ publication Women Who Run It.

Workout for Your Body Type

Have you ever tried losing weight and just couldn’t?

What about gaining weight?

Or gaining muscle?

At some point, we have to come to the realization that our bodies, for better or for worse, are meant to be a certain shape, or weight.

It’s another case of nature versus nurture.

When we are born, we are predisposed to a particular eye color, skin tone and hair texture. We also inherit our body type from our biological parents.

But how much of our shape are we destined to grow old with and how much do we have the ability to transform?

There are three basic body types. Most people are a mixture of the three, while only five percent of the population are purely one type. Since weight is so strongly related to your body type, body composition (the ratio of fat to fat-free mass) is a much better indication of ideal body weight than is the total weight obtained from stepping on a scale.

Genetic factors strongly dominate adult height, limb and trunk lengths, skeletal and sexual maturation and body type. On the other hand, other physical characteristics related to physical performance, such as body weight, skinfold thickness and body circumference can be modified considerably by environmental influences, though these influences interact with and are limited by genetic factors.

The 3 Body Types

Mesomorphs Mesomorphs have muscular bodies, with broad shoulders, thick chests and narrow waists (think Jessica Biel and Sarah Jessica Parker). They tend to be more proportioned. Mesomorphs can have normal or low body fat, even though they may be overweight according to standard height and weight charts.

They have an advantage over taller, less muscular people in weightlifting movements.

Mesomorphs have greater strength potential. To minimize injuries, the total volume of repetitions, the number of training sessions and the frequency of high intensity workouts should be less than for other body types. They may also need more recovery time.

The Workout Plan The mesomorphic program should focus on a combination of strengthening, cardio, and stretching. Total body strengthening exercises should be performed 2–3 times weekly on alternating days, using a resistance that causes them to fatigue in 8–12 repetitions.

Cardio can be done 3+ days of the week for 30-60 minutes in their target heart rate zone. Any activities the person enjoys can be engaged in.

Stretching should be done after each exercise session. The focus of the program is to manage body composition and enhance their predisposed strength advantage.

Ectomorphs Ectomorphic people are thin, lean and tall, with low amounts of fat-free mass, and they can be underweight according to the weight charts (examples include Kate Moss and Gisele Bunchen). Typically they are extremely low in body fat and make the best endurance athletes. These body types do best in sprints, the long jump and the vertical jump. They have later skeletal and sexual maturation than the other two body types.

The Workout Plan Ectomorphs with long torsos should work on stabilization exercises during total body workouts and sports movements. Working the abdominal and lower back should be a focus of their exercise program. Pilates and yoga would be advantageous to them. Overhead work like shoulder presses will be important to help gain control over their long torsos. Front squatting is also very helpful to work on balance and strength.

It’s more difficult for ectomorphs to lift weights, because they have such long limbs and have to push and pull resistance farther than the other body types — therefore, they work harder. An ectomorph wouldn’t be very competitive as a powerlifter. They have to use lighter weights, because they are moving throughout a greater range of motion.

Ectomorphs make great basketball and volleyball players. They typically have longer feet, which help with cutting and changing direction on the court. Ectomorphs typically have weak wrists and ankles, so they should also work on strengthening them with resistance training. Many people will wrap their wrists and ankles for added support.

Ectomorphs should perform strength training on alternating days weekly, choosing a resistance that causes them to fatigue in 6–10 repetitions. Cardio can be done 3+ times weekly for 20-60 minutes per session. Flexibility training should be engaged in after each exercise session. The focus of the program is to increase strength, gain muscle and decrease the risk of osteoporosis. Individuals should strive to do impact cardio activities like running and perform strength training using free weights in a standing position.

Endomorphs Endomorphs are rounder, heavier, bigger, and softer than most people (think of curvy ladies like Kate Winslet and Jennifer Hudson). These people are typically overweight, with large amounts of fat free mass (muscle) and fat mass. Endomorphs have long arms, long legs and short torsos.

The Workout Plan Endomorphs should keep impact activities like jumping and running to a minimum, as the extra body weight causes additional stress on the joints and can potentially cause injuries to the feet, ankles, knees, hips and back. They should start out slowly, working up to 20 minutes of activity in their target heart rate range. Then, over several sessions, they should gradually increase the time, followed by increasing intensity.

Endomorphs should focus on strength training 2–3 times weekly, choosing a resistance that causes them to fatigue in 10–15 repetitions. They can do cardio most days of the week for 30–60 minutes in their target heart rate zone. Activities should be low and non-impact to start.

Stretching should be performed after each exercise session. The focus of the exercise program is reducing body fat, improving health and decreasing risk of disease.

The bottom line is to choose exercises you love and do them often, but if you can tweak your program to work with your body type, there is a better chance of decreasing your risk of injury and seeing the results you desire and deserve.

You may not be just one body type, you’re probably a combination of a couple. At the same time, you don’t need to necessary be muscular to be a mesomorph, or overweight to be considered an endomorph. There may be three categories of body types but there certainly aren’t three body types in the world. Find out which body type you may classify yourself under and use these tips to help you find workouts that are great for your body and will cause it the least amount of stress.

Take your body type and accept it, nourish it and make it the best version it can be!

**Edited for repurpose by Taylor Brown, the Associate Editor of Goddess Connections’ publicationWomen Who Run It.

Debtors Not-So Anonymous: An Interview with Julie D. Andrews

Most women find themselves on the same path financially.

Until the end of university, their financial situation is seldom up to them. Their parents take care of the finances until, well until they don’t.

Unfortunately, this usually happens in an abrupt manner. School is over, we’re expected to get jobs, get apartments, pay our bills and oh yes, take care of those nagging debts we racked up thanks to our shiny, new education.

Before we’ve even started in life, we’ve found ourselves stalled at the gates.

Author, Content Creator, and Ex-Debtor, Julie Andrews, knows of this all too well. After university she found herself living in one of the most expensive cities in the world and carrying around a debt that she wasn’t even completely knowledgeable about. Her life in New York City was supported by living in a one-bedroom apartment that was converted to a three bedroom so that she could have roommates, and working a paid internship. “I didn’t even know the amount of debt I had or what it looked like,” she shared.

She had stuck her head in the sand.

She had debt, but no idea what the debt looked like and therefore, no plan on how to even begin to tackle it.

How many of us have found ourselves in these kinds of situations before?

We’ve got credit cards that we refuse to look at in fear of overwhelming ourselves, bills that pile up, and debts that go unlooked at. This is a coping strategy, but it’s not a good one.

Life is full of demands, and they tend to pile up. The mortgage needs to be paid, the kids need something for school, the car broke down. Credit cards are convenient and once debts start to pile up, it’s easy to allow ourselves to keep adding to the mountain and think we can visit it another day, but we need to be fully aware of everything in our lives or else we don’t have full control.

Julie took control and paid off $26,000 in student loans by herself while living in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

She admits “I was not always smart about money. I was very unaware about money. I did not have a healthy relationship with money.” So how did she do it?

  1. She took her head out of the sand! “You have to know the numbers and you have to look at them head on. And you have to live an honest life, which means living within your means.” Until you educate yourself, you are powerless to your situation. By learning about your debts, what they look like, and how much you owe, then you’ll be able to become an active participant in your life. Until you take your head out of the sand and face your debt head on, then you won’t be able to do anything about it.

  2. She became honest about her money The first thing Julie did was to learn exactly what her debt looked like. She no longer wanted to lie to herself and hide from her problems. Next, she created a system for herself. He biggest breakthrough came when she decided to write everything down. This kept her honest about her spending and knowledgeable about where her money was going. Seeing how much she spent on paper each month gave her the ability to see where she was wasting money and where should could find some to help pay off her debts. She also became honest with others about her financial situation. Instead of eating at an expensive restaurant because a friend wanted to, she was open about her goals to save and would suggest a cheaper place, or a night in. “My biggest advice would be don’t spend money you don’t have and be very honest about that. People will respect you for that.”

  3. She made calculated money decisions Two of the biggest things that helped her: 1) When making a buying decision she never got wrapped up in the moment, always asking “is buying this thing, or spending money on this thing, more important than me reaching this goal?” 2) Knowing the value of money. What does this equate to in your daily life? If you realize that a night out could get your groceries for a week, or that those gorgeous heels could pay your phone bill for a month, then it will become easier to say no. Then you’ll see the true value of money.

  4. She started chipping away at her debts Instead of looking at her debt as a huge mountain to climb, she simply took it inch by inch. Don’t become overwhelmed by your debts. Just start chipping away at them bit by bit and each day you’ll be one step closer to completing your goal of financial freedom.

  5. She learned the truth about money “Money doesn’t define you and money certainly doesn’t define your success… It’s just something that you need to pay your bills and pay your rents and to buy things, but it doesn’t define you.” Money tends to cloud our judgment. We see the glamour of it, of having something, and forget about how silly it really is. Having more money doesn’t make you fancier, happier, or a better person. “If you have more money you’ll only use it to do more of the things that you are already doing. You’ll only become more of the person that you already are.”

Money doesn’t have to be complicated, but we make it that way. Yes, debts are stressful, but what’s more stressful is finding yourself without control of your own life? By following Julie’s tips, you too can get your finances in check and find yourself free of your financial burdens. It just makes cents.

5 Lifelong Lessons from a Natural Health Nut

Where are you on the road to health? I’m probably on the same journey as you. I’ve just been hauling around my (virtual) backpack of tofu and granola longer than most people I know.

My interest in natural health began in my early 20s with my first real job. It surged and waned and came back in full force recently when I decided to focus my copywriting business on the natural health industry.

This gives me access to a large variety of natural health experts, including alternative health doctors, naturopaths and nutritionists.

I’ve also been a guinea pig along the way, trying various diets and supplements to see what works best for me.

Here are some of the lifelong lessons I learned on my journey to vibrant health:

*Note: Please don’t take any of this as a prescription. Consult a qualified professional for any health issues you have. Consider this food for thought.

1. A Lifelong Lesson From Teaching a Blind 90-Year-Old to Knit

Fresh out of university with a fine arts degree and no job skills whatsoever, I landed my first job at an old-age hospital teaching arts and crafts to people aged 80 and over.

I was actually challenged with teaching a 90-year old blind woman to knit! They called it “recreational therapy”.

These were not active, healthy seniors. They were the demented ones who sat hunched over in wheelchairs, and cried out “What am I doing here? Get me out of here!”

While still in my tender 20s, I learned a lifelong lesson: I never want to end up here, and I will do anything I can to be healthy and avoid the hospital or old-age home. That began my lifelong quest for health.

2. You can’t take just one drug.

At the old-age hospital, they held “rounds” every Friday, and I felt very important when I was invited to attend, clad in a white lab coat just like the doctors wore!

Each department reported on how specific patients were progressing (always downward).

This is what struck me, and stayed with me forever: Not one patient was on just one or two medications. They were all on 8-10 medications. That’s because each medication had side effects that had to be countered with more drugs. The mantra I heard was, “Once you take one drug, you take 10”.

No wonder all these poor doped up patients were non-functional.

My lifelong lesson was to avoid drugs as much as possible, and use food (and a few supplements) to keep myself healthy. It’s working well so far!

3. A vitamin a day can keep the doctor away.

When I was a kid, I got sick a lot. Nothing too serious, but I always seemed to have a cold, an infection, or a sore throat – sure signs that my body was run down.

One day when I was a young adult, my aunt, a biochemist, noticed my sorry condition and suggested I try Vitamin C. I was skeptical, but took some and my cold disappeared much more quickly than usual.

I was intrigued, and began to research vitamins. “Earl Mindel’s Vitamin Bible” became my bible and my lifelong fascination with vitamins and minerals was born.

4. Forgoing French fries for kale and cauliflower

Once I understood the power of eating specific foods and taking supplements to optimize my health, I spent years devouring books on the subject.

My family laughed at me and called me a health nut, because I was baking with spelt flour and carob, and eating broccoli while they were enjoying their burgers and fries.

Today, one of these close family members has cancer. Another is suffering terribly from a degenerative disease, and two cousins younger than me died well before their time.

I love fries as much as anyone, but on a daily basis I’m happy to eat kale and cauliflower. My lifelong lesson is that my health is too precious to me to waste any time lying in a hospital bed, or risk missing out on my children’s and grandchildren’s lives.

5. Pay the farmer or pay the doctor

True confession: I buy most of my food at the health food store, and probably spend more on organic food and supplements than most people do. I was lamenting my obsession to a naturopathic doctor who works in the health food store where I shop.

He said, “You are investing in your health. Better to pay the farmer than the doctor.”

When I get my monthly Visa bill, I sometimes wonder if it’s all worth it. Then I get a call from a friend who is frantic because he’s losing his eyesight to glaucoma, and I think, “I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing, thanks!”

Seeds of Success; or How a Dishwasher Led to the Butler Bag

When an idea begins to take root in your mind, an idea that could really go somewhere, there is a certain rush of euphoria – which comes with the knowledge that you are on the cusp of something brilliant. Entrepreneur, author and business visionary, Jen Groover says it’s a sensation that every entrepreneur becomes addicted to quickly.

And she would know. That sensation has been a part of her life ever since the first step aerobics class she took during a winter break in college, where she spent an hour dancing and barely noticed she was working out. Once she realized that a workout class which felt more like a dance party was something that a lot of other college kids would take an interest in, the euphoria hit.

It was the nineties, after all. Boom-box dance parties were in. The fitness industry was just about to take off, but hadn’t quite become the popular trend that it is today. The potential was there, though, and Groover harnessed it, going back to her university with the plan of creating a group fitness program on campus. Nearly a hundred kids turned up for the program.

Her ideas have been raking in money pretty steadily ever since. Jen Groover has recently been tagged by Success Magazine as a “One Woman Brand”, in recognition of the success story which started with her innovative creation of the Butler Bag – the world’s very first compartmentalized handbag – and kept soaring from there.  She developed the Butler Bag into a full-on company just over two years ago, marketing it to various retailers all over the US.

She has since launched even more lifestyle brands: Leader Girlz and Empowered by Jen Groover, both of which are motivational coaching guides teaching people to embrace life, empower themselves and seek success the way she did. She has been aligned with such internationally-known brands as AvonVerizon, and SkyMall. She has appeared as a keynote speaker at universities, for corporations, for organizations such as Career Wardrobe and the CNN Hero award-winning non-profit “Back on My Feet” (on which she is also a board member).

And between her regular stints as a contributing business expert on programs like Fox News’ “Strategy Room” and CBS’ “Early Show”, and hosting the recently created Launchers’ Cafe – an interactive, multimedia brand which connects tens-of-thousands of business owners and allows them to share information and grow their businesses – it’s hard not to notice that she’s a jack of all trades. Not just in talent, but in the focus areas of that talent. From fitness and health, to motivational life coaching, to business, and fashion … these themes have been the building blocks of her entrepreneurial journey, but they’re all quite different. What’s the common denominator?

It’s all in the ideas that come to you on any given day

The notion of starting a group fitness program came to Groover while she was dancing in a random aerobics class and led to her expansion into the fitness industry with a thriving gym which became competitive and known on a national level.

When at 26 her own body began to shut down due to oxidative stress, she came to fully appreciate the importance of health, wellness, and passion for life. But it was more the sheer pleasure that came to her when helping people and the idea that there were real lessons in her experience for others which had her turning to motivational life coaching as a career. Once again, this was before life-coaching had really become a thing, let alone a career path. Groover would counsel several of her fitness clients, inspiring them to find their passion and make a living out of it, and helping them turn ideas they had into successful – even on a multi-million dollar level of successful – businesses.

The Butler Bag was born out of a moment of pure frustration at the cash register of a grocery store, a moment which all of us has experienced some variation of at least once. Groover had been juggling her young twin daughters and a frantic search for the credit card she’d lost inside of her single-compartment sea of a handbag, and finally she dumped the contents of the bag out onto the counter to retrieve the card. Even then, the idea of a better handbag remained a frustrated wish at best, until months later when she was loading the dishwasher. On a whim, she took the utensil rack from the dishwasher, shoved it into her handbag, and began thinking: “If I were to design a handbag, this would be my prototype. This is what I’d want the bag to look like.”

She didn’t know how to draw. She didn’t know how to design anything, and she was a fitness trainer, not a fashion guru. What she did have was a mantra her mother had left her with years ago – that you’re not allowed to complain about something unless you plan to do something else to fix the problem. So she asked for help from everyone she could, anyone who would know how to design a bag, how to market and publicize it, and so on. Her goal for the Butler Bag company was for it to be a million dollar company by the end of the first year, and she made it happen through a lot of media attention and awareness.

“Failure is a thing which holds most people back from achieving their goals and dreams,” Groover has said. “When children are taught that failure is not an option, it teaches them not to do anything that they think they might fail at.”

Most people have ideas. Groover would even say most people have ideas which could potentially become multi-million dollar businesses. But most people tend to talk themselves out of going anywhere with those ideas, feeling that failure is inevitable if they take such an insane risk.

Groover had never imagined herself as anything other than an entrepreneur, so the risk was less scary to her. But even she stuck to her comfort zone, doing things she was naturally going to be good at, until the creation of the Butler Bag.

The one message she would pass on to everyone in the world if she could is a mantra she came up with for herself. “I have more fear of regret than I have of failure,” she says. “Don’t be afraid. Make your ideas happen.”

Financial Decision-Making in 6 Easy Steps

On the whole, making financial decisions is not the easiest process.

There’s a lot of responsibility which rests on them and, let’s face it, while some mistakes can be undone with relative ease, financial mistakes are a pain to untangle when you’re knee-deep in the fallout.

So it’s easy to get scared beforehand. And we all have our current coping mechanisms for dealing with that fear and avoiding the potential earthquake before it hits.

You might obsess over the options when making the decision. Maybe talk to your more successful, experienced friends and see what they’ve done in the past and how they would advise you. Or maybe you go in to see your financial advisor, only to get that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when your advisor spreads out swathes of paper for you to look over, describing IRAs, 401Ks, money markets, and insurance plans that make you think you’re in over your head. Maybe you’d feel the need to read the fine print on every last sheet, and go over it in your mind to know you’re choosing the right products and making a good decision. Scour Google to research the options carefully. Consult even more financial experts. Obsess some more.

Note: these aren’t exactly bad habits. But entrepreneur Kate Northrup, bestselling author of Money: A Love Story, has seen plenty of people burn out on them when making financial decisions, and as she notes, they’re exhausting habits. Just the thought of having to undertake them can leave you feeling sleepy, irritable, and ironically less liable to make a good, clear-headed decision.

More to the point, she says, the problem with obsessing and over-thinking on what decision to make is that life goes on. Opportunities pass, you miss out on them, and you waste time.

“There’s an important part of you that wonders, ‘might there be a better way?’” she says.

There is!

In her new book, Northrup delves into the easy, failsafe way to ensure that you’re making the right financial decisions every time.

The trap that most people seem to fall into is a tendency to silently go over their financial choices in their minds – and only their minds. They preoccupy themselves with the obsessing and the decision-making while letting their bodies run through their daily tasks on autopilot. We’ve all seen that person at the office going through the motions of their day when their mind is clearly elsewhere. Hell, we’ve all been that person at least once. What we don’t realize is that when it comes to financial decisions, this is a matter on which mind and body are better off connected.

“Research has shown us that our physical bodies and our proprioceptors have access to much more information than just our minds,” says Northrup. “When you bring your body into your decision-making and listen to the signals that it’s giving you, you become a lot wiser.”

Here are the six simple steps that will let you tap into this potential and keep you from ever making a wrong financial decision again.

1. Take a deep breath Prior to making a decision, take a very deep breath, all the way into the lower bowels of your lungs. Let it expand your belly – who cares if it suddenly looks rounder? You want to make sure you actually feel the air going all the way in and pushing hard against your diaphragm. And then exhale, and feel it leave your body. Focusing your mind on these feelings will allow you to clear it, even just for a moment. It’s long enough to know you’ll be thinking about something other than your decision in that moment.

2. Close your eyes Even if it doesn’t feel entirely appropriate to do so at the time of your decision-making, close your eyes. Though, if you’re feeling really awkward you could always excuse yourself to the ladies’ room to complete this step. It’s a good idea to give yourself a moment to shut out the world – and any external pressures you might be feeling from anyone around you – so that you can concentrate. It reminds you that this is your decision.

3. Picture one of your choices in your mind’s eye The power of visualization is always a useful tool, but never more than when you’re trying to decide between a number of different options (and outcomes). Whether you’re just picturing the words, like “September IRA”, or picturing something that represents that choice for you, or even visualizing an outcome of deciding on that option. Having a visual image of your choice, even if only in your mind, will make it more real for you.

4. Tune in and listen to how your body feels Now we get to the point where you listen to your body’s input on your decision. Pay attention to how your body is feeling at the moment you’re picturing your choice. Does it feel relaxed and expansive, or tense and contracted? Lighter or heavier? Do you feel energized, or sleepy? You can tell where this is going…does the decision feel right? Or wrong?

For the vast majority of our lives, many of us have been talked out of listening to our bodies, and trained against letting our instincts guide us to decisions. We’ve been told we’re being too sensitive. Even advised to take “chill pills”. But you’re the one who has to live with your decision, and the right financial decision should always leave you feeling good about having made it. Your body can give you the best signal on that.

5. Repeat steps 1-4 for every one of your choices at the time Pay special attention to step 4; be sure to gauge how your body reacts to every single one of your options.

6. Pick the winners Go with the option that makes you feel the most energized, yet relaxed, and that makes you feel the lightest. In other words, go with the right choice.

It may take some practice to wire your mind into following these steps. But with that practice, the time you spend sweating over financial decisions will be cut in half. There’s nothing wrong with doing research and understanding your choices, but at some point you really have to take that plunge – and better sooner than later. Going with your gut is the best way to do it.

Are You Counting Numbers or Counting Nutrition?

The other day, I came across an intense debate on the ever popular social media outlet, Instagram. A photo of a diet coke can and one of a fresh fruit smoothie had the caption “200 calories of this is better than 0 calories of that.” I swear to you, some people had a field day with that. They couldn’t wrap their minds around thinking that drinking something packed with [good] calories could ever be better than drinking something with no calories. We could get into the issue of aspartame and how detrimental it is for your body and mind, but that’s a different topic completely.

Reading the comments below that image got me to realize that this is an epidemic plaguing most women. They like to see the low numbers on the nutritional information but never bother to look at the ingredients. My morning protein smoothie has about 300-400 calories in it, but I pack it with super-foods that have me energized and full until it’s lunch time. If you decide to drink the diet coke in the morning over the smoothie you’ll notice how it effects your day. It’s the same with all other food too. At this point I have completely tossed out counting calories, fat, carbs, blah blah blah. It’s all bullshit really. If your foods are rich in nutrients, your body will be able to utilize them and put those ‘numbers’ to proper use.

Take for example those 100 calorie packs. The first ingredient is enriched wheat flour. Sounds nice, huh? “Enriched” is actually the opposite of what it sounds like. It means the nutrients have been stripped out of the wheat in order to achieve a better texture and longer shelf life. Once you ingest it, your body breaks down the flour too quickly and adds a huge shot of sugar to your blood stream all at once, and what does it do with all that extra sugar? It stores it in fat cells so that you can use it later…which let’s face it, we don’t always do. So next time you’re wondering where that spare tire in your mid-section came from, give your bread a glare!

The next few ingredients are not a surprise at all: sugar and canola oil. And with the company being Nabisco, a known GMO-supporter, you better think twice before grabbing this “healthy” snack off the shelves. This one example can extend to most “health” foods and foods that are found prepackaged.

So with all of this in mind, why don’t you try half an avocado instead? It’s 160 calories, with 15 grams of fat, but it’s packed with protein and vitamins that have been proven to stabilize blood sugar, prevent cancer and Alzheimers, and even help you to lose weight (avocados are packed with fibre).

Here are some other foods that get backed away from due to their calorie content, even when they’re actually much better for you than many low-calorie meals:

  • Peanut Butter: 100 calories in every tablespoon looks a little dangerous, yeah? But peanut butter is rich in proteins and improves your metabolic fat-burning rate – it’s the top alternative to fatty meats that have the same protein count and aren’t nearly as good for you

  • Nuts: Not pub nuts so much as walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and peanuts. Nearly 190 calories in each ounce of these but,  to be fair, yet you’d be hard-pressed to find better food that’s so rich in fibre and protein and also helps stabilize your blood sugar.

  • Olive Oil: So what if it’s great for cooking? 120 calories in each tablespoon of it means people tend to pass on it. But olive oil has been known to protect against certain types of cancer, and it holds anti-inflammatory properties that are linked to a lower risk of heart disease.

  • Bananas: In fairness, the calorie count in bananas (120) is almost double what you’d find in any other fruit. But they’re packed with fibre, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, folic acid, and countless other nutrients. They’re basically nature’s nutrition energy bars, made specially for you.

  • Granola: Granola gets a bad rap for containing almost 600 calories in one cupful. Yet it’s made from whole wheat and compressed nuts, and often mixed with yogurt and sweetened with molasses or sugar. It’s rich in essential oils, incredibly nutritious, and tastes great.

So forget counting calories and start counting nutrition. It may seem a little scary at first, especially for those who write down every single detail. I challenge you to forget the numbers and instead, eat foods that are beneficial to your health, despite the calories.

You’ll be the better for it! The nutritional benefits will easily outweigh the calorie cost. You’ll have more energy – and you’ll wind up burning off those extra calories in a heartbeat, anyway. You’ll love the food you’re eating and you’ll be happier. If anything is worth a few extra calories, it is certainly that.

Bring On Your Sparkle!

Women have long been told to be modest, to be polite and to shy away from bragging about themselves.

You may be thinking “well of course, that’s just good manners!”

But it can actually become detrimental to your career.

Men were taught to showcase their successes and in turn, we have found that they are more confident in their abilities and more likely to negotiate for themselves in job interviews.

When prepping my students and clients to network or interview for an ideal job opportunity, I encourage them to showcase their sparkle factor. This is the palpable characteristic that highlights their passion, strengths, and authentic interest in the opportunity at hand. The energy you emit is profound when you tap your sparkle factor and this visceral emotion should not be reserved for the job interview alone.

Finding your sweet spot in the career world can be daunting, but the responsibility lies with you alone to play to your strengths and honor your passions in the job you are in or the job you may be seeking.

Identifying what makes you unique requires self-reflection and focus – so get quiet with yourself. Turn off the monkey chatter in your brain and slow down so you will be able to identify what makes you sparkle.

Protect your sparkle fiercely in your professional life.

This is what makes you unique, what energizes you, and what gives the countless waking hours you spend at work meaning and a sense of purpose.

Know Your Distinguishing Factors  What sets you apart from the pack? Truly consider your strengths and the energizing skills that you enjoy performing. It’s not enough to be good at something – you must really relish doing it consistently. This is when time flies because you lose yourself in these wonderful tasks. When you can become the go-to person in your organization because of what you do uniquely well, then you can distinguish yourself and become indispensable.

Learn to Bob & Weave If you are not a boxing fan you may not know the origin of this term but the concept is universal. You must be quick on your feet, flexible, and ready to innovate in changing situations.  In other words – roll with the punches. The new normal has taught us that resilience matters. Showcasing your sparkle factor may provide growth and leadership opportunities if you distinguish yourself as the professional who is ever-ready to do what it takes to accomplish organizational goals.

Toxic People Can Steal Your Power  Positivity is infectious but so is negativity. Minimize the toxic associations in your life and give yourself permission to play to your strengths and focus on what you do well. Power is not given, it’s taken, so never let the toxic people steal your thunder or undermine your value. Be assertive, self-confident and fiercely protective of your sparkle factor. Establish a work culture of having a good day or a great day – both are very strong options and will diminish negative attitudes.

Ask for What You Need  The most successful people have a team helping them achieve their goals. Assemble your Personal Board of Directors and don’t be timid about asking for help. Can you do it all? Yes, but not alone, and not at the same time. Tap your tribe and pay-it-forward by having someone else’s back. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a wise distribution of what you do really well. Delegation can provide someone else with an opportunity and it empowers you to do what nobody else can.

Command Respect  There will always be people who are fearful and manipulative who may try to squelch your sparkle. Strive to earn their respect, since that is more important than being liked by them in the workplace. You need not win the office popularity contest, but it would be ideal if you earned your colleagues’ respect. People accept what you project so it’s your responsibility to teach them how to treat you. Consider what professional persona you want to put out into the world. How do you want to be recognized? Send that message out loud and clearly to those around you.

Bring it On  Showcasing your sparkle is energizing for you and contagious for your colleagues. Consider how you dig deep and deliver. Discuss what motivates you and your colleagues. If you are in a leadership role be sure to ask your staff what makes them sparkle so you can recognize and validate them for a job well done. Employee engagement, or lack thereof is a top factor in retaining or losing great talent.

Love What You Do  It all boils down to honoring your values and playing to your passions on a regular basis. If you are in a role where you cannot showcase your sparkle it may be time to consider your career future.

You alone have the power to embrace your strengths, own your self-confidence, and engage your sparkle factor. Spend some time reflecting on what makes you tick. You deserve to sparkle so once you find it – protect it for the precious commodity that it is.

Once you’ve determined your sparkle factor you’ll never again have to give in to self-doubt. You can spend the time you used to spend fretting and put it to good use, like earning the respect of your co-workers, rocking all of your tasks and having great work days!

**Edited for repurpose by Taylor Brown, Associate Editor of Goddess Connections’ publicationWomen Who Run It.

Live Like a Millionaire

If you’re like most of us, you probably plan to budget. You tell yourself when you earn money that you’ll save it, rather than spend it. But it’s easier said than done – without a plan, you can easily find yourself on the final ten dollars of your most recent paycheck, wondering what happened to the rest of that cash and your hopes of saving it.

It’s not the greatest feeling. Wouldn’t you rather avoid it?

In my five-year study on the daily habits of wealthy people I uncovered certain things the wealthy do to create, maintain or grow their wealth.

The 80:20 Rule

This rule requires that you set aside 20% of every paycheck and learn to live off the remaining 80%. You do this no matter how much money you make. If you get a raise or bonus, set aside 20% of that raise or bonus in addition to the 20% of your regular pay. If you stick to the 80:20 Rule you will save a lot of money and you will be wealthy long before you reach retirement age. You will be one of the few among your friends and colleagues because, unfortunately, most parents don’t teach their kids the importance of saving, so nobody saves.

Budgeting & Saving

Below are some guidelines regarding budgeting and saving:

  • Don’t spend more than 25% of your monthly net pay on housing.It doesn’t matter if you own or rent. Stick to this 25% rule.

  • Don’t spend more than 10% of your monthly net pay on entertainment. This includes bars, movies, restaurants etc.

  • Don’t spend more than 5% of your monthly net pay on auto loans and never lease. Leasing is something I call a Poverty Habit. Buy your cars and take good care of them.

  • Stay away from accumulating credit card debtIf you are doing this it means you are living beyond your means and you need to cut back on something.

  • Always invest your savings prudently. Never gamble your savings on get rich quick schemes. There’s no such thing. The power of compounding can grow your savings and make you  wealthy. Saving just $250 a month over 40 years will produce $500,362 at a 5% return.

  • Max out your contributions to the company retirement plan. If the company matches your contributions, great. That’s free money. Always take free money when you can get it.

  • Know what you spend every month. Create a monthly budget and track what you spend.

Most of the wealthy don’t make a lot of money. But they do save a lot of money. They make a habit of saving until it hurts. They focus on accumulating wealth through savings.

Savings and investments are two different things. Your savings should never lose money, whereas your investments represent a portion of savings that you are willing to put at risk and lose. How much you take out of your savings and invest depends on your risk tolerance. Conservative wealthy people do not put any of their savings at risk. Moderate wealthy people put 25-50% of their savings at risk. Aggressive wealthy people put more than 50% or more of their savings at risk.

If the wealthy invest part of their savings, they typically invest it in one or more of the following:

  • Their businesses and their retirement plans.

  • Guaranteed products like variable annuities & life insurance.

  • Stocks, real estate investments, or gold.

  • Education for their children.

Accumulating wealth is not about hitting it out of the park.  It’s about getting singles. You get enough singles and you win the game.

In my five year study on the daily habits of the rich and the poor, when it came to money, there were significant differences between the two groups. Let’s take a look at some of the research:

  • 67% of the wealthy said they are frugal with money.

  • 8% of the wealthy shop at retail thrift stores.

  • 85% of the wealthy in my study stated that they have always believed that no matter what, an individual can always save money if they really want to. Only 2% of the poor share this opinion. 73% of the wealthy in my study were taught the 80:20 Rule by their parents.

  • 6% of the wealthy lease cars. Conversely, 45% of poor people lease cars. Leasing a car is a Poverty Habit. Wealthy people don’t lease cars. They purchase their cars and will drive them as long as the engine holds out.

  • 16% of the wealthy gamble on sports at least once a week vs. 52% of the poor. 9% of the wealthy play the lottery every week vs. 77% of the poor.

  • 100% of the wealthy save for retirement vs. only 19% of the poor.

The research speaks for itself. It’s not hard to accumulate money. On the contrary, it can be very easy! Living like a millionaire doesn’t have to involve earning six-figure sums. Like anything worth earning in this world, it just involves planning and commitment. You save, and you save, and you save, even if it hurts. It’s a lot harder to commit to saving than it is to not and say you did. But with these tips under your belt, you’ll hardly feel the difference – just the rewards.

**Edited for Repurpose by Amy Kisaka, staff writer with Goddess Connections.