My Rules for Success: Flashback

When I was a trainer in debate in High School and college, I created a training on “How to win every debate round.”  I pulled it out  a while back and noticed that most of them are rules I still use today in my life and business.  With a few tweaks, I wanted to share these tips for success with you.  (I wrote this in June of 2008.  I’m posting it here with no edits.  Maybe I’ll update it soon!  Until then, these are a GREAT place to start!)

  1. You are always winning. If you don’t believe that you are the best, most trusted person in your field, why should they. NOT cocky, confident.
  2. You don’t have to be right. Sometimes we get so caught up in the principle that we lose site of what’s important. Sometimes other people can be right.
  3. Look at the big picture. Sometimes you have to take a step back, put your pen down, turn away from the computer screen, turn off instant messenger. What will mean the MOST right now? Don’t get caught up in some little detail. You can get stuck on the wrong point. You can also get stuck by not balancing all the roles that you play in life. Every day, every week, take a step back and say, “What matters MOST this week.”
  4. Kill them with Kindness I don’t care what they do, I don’t care what they say, Be nice. Don’t talk about them in the bathroom stall, don’t tell your friends or peers, don’t ever pass along anything negative. Nothing can kill your reputation in the business world faster than gossip.
  5. Always, Always, Always Be Honest It will always come back to bite you if you aren’t honest. You need to be honest to your customers, honest to your company, and honest to yourself. You also need to be honest enough with your customers and friends when to say, “This may not be the best deal for you.”
  6. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know”. You’ll look like an idiot if you try to stumble through some lame response. If you don’t know, say so, but smooth it over with, “I’ll find out and get right back to you.” and make sure you get back to them when you say you will.
  7. Keep your promises. If you say you are going to do something, DO IT. And do it when you said you were going to do it. Live by the motto, “Under promise, over deliver.” You can have the best product or service and kill it with dishonesty
  8. Know your position/be a team where appropriate Use your resources. Is there someone on your team/industry that knows more than you? Ask them for advice. Be willing to involve them in a deal. This also means don’t do things that aren’t your responsibility. Make the people around you do their jobs so that you can do yours. Delegate.
  9. Have fun. You have got to have balance in your life. You have got to make the time for the things that are fun, relaxing and that mean the most to you. Fill your well.
  10. Have a passion. What is your passion? What do you feel strongly about every day of your life? What moves you? What motivates you? Hopefully as a person who’s started your own business, you love what you do. Be emotional. Put your heart in it. This is the passion that should drive your life every day.

What are your rules for success?

This was previously posted on with some edits today.

Book Review: One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey, by Kenneth Blanchard

Title: The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey

Author: Kenneth Blanchard with William Oncken, Jr. and Hal Burrows

End Rating: Purchase and Add to your Business Book Library (Rating Scale: Purchase and Add to your Business Book Library, Borrow from a friend or the library, Don’t waste your time)

Total Number of Pages: 137

Time Investment: Quick Read (Can be read in one to two dedicated sittings)

I first read The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey as a requirement for my Marketing Management class in college about 10 years ago.  I had already read the One Minute Manager, which I enjoyed, but found this to be a book that every manager and every business owner needs to read.  Furthermore, I think the principles in this book need to be understood at every level in the organization.

I don’t want to give away every detail of this book, because I’d like you to read it for yourself and then pass it along to others in your company to read and then return to you.  This could be a great topic of conversation for your next one-on-one with the managers in your organization (even if there are only two if you).  I do, however, want to share two key principles with you that will help you understand why I enjoyed it so much:

First, what is a “monkey”? According to Blanchard, “A monkey is the next move.” Have you ever been in a meeting where you left with a lot of to do items, and you wonder if they really belong to you?  Have you ever been assigned a task and wondered if that task is really what needs to be done?  Then you could be dealing with a monkey.  Once I read this book, I learned that certain tasks don’t have to be done well, if they just need to be finished quickly.  Now this sounds bad, but think about it.  Aren’t there tasks in your life that you don’t need to treat like a gold plated proposal to a customer?  Monkeys are tasks that take up our time that SHOULD be spent in other places.  Are you the creator of your product?  Delegate other tasks like bookkeeping, shipping, etc that can be done by other people.

Second, and to me the most important, Blanchard talks about the concept that “All monkeys, must be handled at the lowest organizational level consistent with their welfare.”  This single principle has guided my professional life for the last 10 years.   When working for others, I got lots of points for taking Monkeys off my boss’ backs.  I was a valued employee because I freed up their time to do what only they can do.  I pushed to have every other task handed to me, and they loved me for it.  Wouldn’t you love it if those working for you would take Monkeys off YOUR back? Now that I own my own business, and often I’m the only employee, I still find ways to have others help take Monkeys off my back.  Yes, I can spend 3 hours packing and shipping quarterly catalogs, but I can pay a neighbor kid to do it for me for $15 and my three hours are better spent on my marketing plan and execution, something I currently cannot pay anyone to do for $15.

I welcome your review! Have you read the One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey? What principles have made a difference for you?  If you haven’t read the book, did this make you think of a Monkey you can give to someone else?  Tell us what it is, and what you’re going to do about it.

The post was previously published on

Teaching Kids the Entrepreneurial Spirit

When I was in 6th grade, I started my first “business”. I LOVED to babysit and had a ton of experience, but after reading all the “Baby Sitter’s Club” Books (By Ann M. Martin) my friends and I thought we could create a babysitting club of our own. But, alas, it was a flop. No one ever called.

That didn’t stop me from trying to find other get rich quick schemes (I also got some great ideas from Zack on “Saved By The Bell”. He always had a plan up sleeves to make money quick!) or other kid-friendly business dreams. Fast forward to High School when I took a DECA class (DECA is a national marketing education club) and we also participated in Junior Achievement where we had to create a product, sell it and account for all our costs, profit and losses. It was a great experience. I never would have started my first “grown-up” business, Doodads Promotional Products, if I hadn’t found my love for marketing in High School and then studied it in college, which led me to work at an advertising agency that had promotional product needs.

Where did you first catch the entrepreneurial bug?

What inspired this jaunt down memory lane?

I just watched this fantastic TED video and couldn’t wait to share it with you!

I love the ideas Cameron Herald offers of ways to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit in kids, and especially love that he’s taught his kids to look for opportunities to make something better or cleaner in their own home for pay. How powerful is it to teach your children to LOOK for what needs to be done?

I also love Herald’s reminder to give your kids opportunities to learn how to speak, because communication skills are so important in business. I really couldn’t agree more. From a really young age, mom used to make us give talks and learn to put lessons and presentations together on religious topics to share with our family. I attribute that (and 5 years of competitive debate) to my feeling comfortable speaking in front of audiences and actually really enjoying it.

Click here to see this video

Thanks HP for Small Business (@HP_smallbiz on Twitter and HP for Small Business on Facebook) for sharing this link with me. It enlightened my day! My kids are only 3 and 1 months, so I’ve still got time, but I’m already thinking of ways to implement some of these ideals at a young age.

Check out the video, and let us know what ways you help your kids foster their creative business juices or better yet, what things did others teach YOU as a kid that made you the savvy business person you are today?

Previously posted on I’m a partner and Fairy Godmother there!


I’ve always wondered why grateful is spelled G-R-A-T-E-F-U-L. I think it should be spelled G-R-E-A-T-F-U-L. I’m not grating cheese, I’m full of GREAT thoughts about something. Please let this serve not as an apology, but as a forewarning, that if you see me spell it “wrong” I’m really spelling it right.


Book Review: Simply Shine

Simply-Shine-Jill-B-Book-Photo-tilt-204x300SIMPLY SHINE- By Jill Blashack Strahan, founder of Tastefully Simple

I was initially surprised by how autobiographical this book is. Though at first I thought it would be hard to read, every page oozes with positive energy, and I couldn’t help but feel inspired as I read it. Jill’s writing style and story telling makes it easy to get involved in her life, and also made it easy to apply to my own.

I especially love what Jill says about abundance. I’ve been working some abundance principles into my life and work over the past two years and have really seen a difference in the way I view what I do, what my goals are and also how I view competition in the marketplace. There truly is enough business for all of us, and the more we connect with abundance in our life and business, the more we’ll attract. On a surface level as we believe that there is enough for everyone, we all have enough. Jill goes one step deeper and talks about abundance and defines the Law of Abundance (as she talks about above) as “Fostering peace of mind through win-win attitudes.” How powerful! Can you see your life being full without the involvement, love and support of others? Jill shows us so powerfully that we we are not alone and our lives can be enriched by involving others in our journey and being involved and helping others achieve their dreams as well.

Finally, the last takeaway I want to share with you: Jill’s story illustrates that the pathway to business success is not easy and you’ll have speed bumps and set backs along the way (we cause some ourselves, don’t we?). However, as we pick ourselves back up, we open doors only commitment, stamina and perseverance have in store for us.

I enjoy books written by entrepreneurs on the same path that we are. It’s inspiring.