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Salute to New Chapters

July 19th, 2010

“I could have seen this one coming!”  The comment I hear from everyone.

I’ve been living in that great state of confusion for far too long.

Time to make a move.

If you have kept up with DoingLifeBeingTiff,  you know I have been in pursuit of a “muse”.  Well I found it!

img_0589In the past few years my life has been a series of incisive incidents; bankruptcy, challenging relationships, giving up a real estate career, weight loss and gains, starting a new job (clocking in 8am-4:30pm for the first time in 20 years).  You know..life.

This year I had an epiphany.  I want to find a “muse”… that one niche that I was created to fill.  Along the way, I have met some great people and heard some great stories that have helped me in my pursuit of a “muse”.  I hope you enjoyed my series of interviews with my successful friends.  Freda Mooncotch, Michele Savoldi, Erin Lee and Kelly Gingery were so kind to share their insights.  I had so much fun with that project.

I follow some remarkable blogs too.  Everyday I read my Google Reader in awe of the amazing stories people are telling with their lives.  I think I’ve figured out their secret.  They have simply chosen to put themselves out there on a regular basis doing what they love.  Like Nike… Just Do It!

51gwxwz6pll_sl75_As I was reading my Google Reader one day, I came across Chris Brogans review of the book A Million Miles In A Thousand Years.  I was so intrigued that I ordered the book right away and quickly read it.  You might say that I devoured the book!  Donald Miller put into words what I have believed all my life.  While writing a screenplay about his memoir, Donald discovered that he was rather bored with his story.  He wondered if his life was telling the story he wanted to tell.  Exactly how I feel!  I loved Chris Brogan’s description, “It sounds simplistic, but there’s a lot to it.”

Key insights I gained from A Million Miles In A Thousand Years:

  • We don’t remember half of a half of our lives.  We don’t make an effort to jot it down.
  • In most great stories lines, the main character has an incisive incident.
  • We can change our story
  • Can’t be afraid of chaos or conflict
  • It is good to listen to the writer of our story
  • Start by putting something down on the page… “Your life is a blank page.  You write on it.”

I have known for a long time now that I am not living the story I want to tell.

I believe wholeheartedly that God has created us with purpose.  I have been unhappy and bored with my story for a long time.  I can’t say there was one incisive incident, but more like a series of unhappy circumstances along with some great opportunities.

Two things I know about myself… I was born to promote.  And I have an incurable entrepreneurial spirit.

I thrive in the creative process and sharing things I love.  Recently I decided to Just Do It…put myself out there doing what I love.  Some friends and I started Weekend Retweat,  a group of gals promoting retreats and resorts using our collective social media savvy.  Weekend Retweat combines my love of promoting with travel!  I also stepped out in the scary world of speaking.  Shane Haggerty and I held a seminar for our local chamber of commerce, Social Media in a Small Town.  That is one fear I can check off my list!

The reward for “putting myself out there” is that I now have a few clients that have hired me to do PR for them using various social media platforms.  I actually get paid to do something that makes me come alive and doesn’t feel like work.

The conflict in my story.

Last November I was offered a job at The Hall Company by Wes Brown, a friend and former co-worker in real estate.  I jumped at the opportunity to work with Wes.  He was an incredible manager of our real estate office and a born salesman.   I was so thankful to have a job in an economy with so many on unemployment.  The Hall Company is an excellent company!  This was the first time that I clocked into a desk job in twenty years.  Needless to say, it was a struggle for me.  I love the company and all the people I work with, but couldn’t get accustomed to clocking in and conforming to a corporate environment.

As I continue to take on more projects that I love, it became apparent that I could not physically do both.  My entrepreneur spirit fought with the notion of being in a safe secure job on a daily basis.  Chaos is trying to do too much.  I had to make a choice.   What kind of story did I want to tell?

I am not one to quit or let people down.  So after weeks of stewing over it I made the decision.  It took me two days to finally approach the subject with Wes.  I had to remind myself that this fear was preventing me from telling my story.  So, I finally gathered my courage and approached him with my decision to resign my position at the Hall Company and follow my heart.  He was great!  I know he wasn’t happy about it, but was totally supportive.  I am so thankful for my time at the Hall Company.  I learned a lot about manufacturing and working with people.

Did I mention that I have a totally supportive husband?   Jeff supports my pursuit and is encouraging me.  That helps a lot.

I immediately e-mailed my closest friends to tell them my crazy news.  Come to find out, many of my friends feel the same way I do.  One friend commented, “Can’t tell you all the days I’ve awaken and wished I was doing exactly what you are doing.  Going for your dreams and following your passion.  I guess as far as having to work for the man, I can’t complain since technology is my passion to a degree, but to have the freedom to set my own destiny and plan each day on my own terms would be the ultimate dream.  So I am sooooo envious of you for taking this leap of faith and I know you will make this happen.  So awesome.”  Well, that made my heart happy!

A part of me feels that I could use this experience to help propel others to leap into the story they want to tell.  I would love to inspire people to live authentically and with purpose!

Serendipity is my friend.

You are not going to believe this.

The day after I summoned the courage to quit my job I read an exciting announcement on Donald Miller’s blog.

Donald Miller’s Blog is one blog that I read daily.  He continues to inspire me to live a good story!  I knew from keeping up with his blog that he was organizing a Living A Better Story Seminar.  I didn’t think I’d be able to go.  At the time he announced the seminar I didn’t think I could take off work.

As I was sitting at my desk catching up on all the articles in my Google Reader, I read Donald Miller’s headline.  Win a Trip for Two to Portland for the Living a Better Story Seminar. My heart skipped a beat and I wanted to jump out of my seat.  I could hardly contain my excitement.  Winning this contest would combine all my passions… travel, promoting, learning more about telling a better story and learning to inspire people to pursue a better story.

Pick me!  Pick me!  I’m a natural fit…don’t you think?

I truly believe that this seminar will help me refine my story with more clarity.  And in the theater of my mind, I imagine it to be the perfect ending to the past few years and beginning to a new chapter in life.

If I don’t win, does anyone want to sponsor me?  I am currently unemployed now.  :)



Living a Better Story Seminar from All Things Converge Podcast on Vimeo.

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Latest Interview ~ Kelly Gingery, FlickChick

July 12th, 2010

In search for my “Muse” has never been so amusing!

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Kelly Gingery’s love for movies and pulp culture is contagious!  Her reviews are delivered with wit and an uncanny ability to remember facts and little known details of movies past, present and upcoming.  I had the privildge of meeting Kelly through Twitter, Tastecasting and various Tweetups in Columbus, OH.  It has been fun to watch Kelly go from blogging about movies for friends and family, to landing a gig with 107.9 as the Mix Flick Chick and now with a full fledge following of her FlickChickTv website.  On any given week, you can find Kelly at several screenings of upcoming movies.

We sat down and chatted in front of the green screen to discuss her success.

Kelly has truly taken her passion and turned it into something she can share with all her movie loving friends.  We had a blast using all kinds of movie analogies to describe her journey.  The insight gleaned…. just get yourself out and do what you love.  You just might fall into it!

Thanks Kelly and Jason Blanton for producing this fun interview!

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Interview with Erin Lee ~ New Businesswoman!

June 9th, 2010
Erin on the front porch of her shack

Erin on the front porch of her shack

 

I have had the privilege of knowing Erin Lee for over 10 years.  Erin was our generous neighbor in West Point Mississippi who allowed us to “borrow” her electricity as we renovated an old home next to her.  I think she was just happy someone was going to fix the place up. 

Erin is a very successful Nurse Practitioner, now working in Memphis, TN.  I have always admired how she put herself through college to pursue nursing, which she seems to have a natural talent for.    

Although she loves her job as a Nurse Practitioner, Erin has recently added business women to her title.  Erin is a visionary when it comes to decorating and designing.  Her home in West Point was a page out of Better Homes and Garden.  I love that everything in her home has some kind of story.  Currently Erin lives in a three story loft condo in downtown Memphis that she has renovated and gave her personal touch.  Erin also worked on a condo project in Memphis turning an old Quansa Hut into artsy living spaces.  After all these years, an amazing opportunity came her way to build shacks at the Shacksdale Motel in Clarksdale, MS.  The shacks are new buildings made to look like old shacks.  (see my companion article Shacksdale ~ A Story in the Making) She is now using her gift for finding treasures to outfit the shacks.  She has definitely found her muse and is having a blast!  Her story illustrates how I envision finding a muse.   

Needless to say, I am very excited to ask my very good friend (I have the coolest friends) questions about her journey and gather more insight!

 

Erin finding some treasures

Erin finding some treasures

Q: Erin, I know how thrilled you are to be working with your partners on the Shacksdale Motel.  How does it feel to now become a business woman? 

A: It has been a real learning experience that’s for sure, but a great experience; becoming an LLC, getting a business account, setting up accounts in Clarksdale and dealing with tradesmen. It has all been a wonderful experience.

 

Q: I know you also worked very hard to become a Nurse Practitioner and are happy with your career.  How does working on your own business compare to becoming a Nurse Practitioner and launching your career?  

A: Working on the shack is a release from the very serious aspects of my job as a nurse practitioner. It was born from a desire to have fun and to enjoy life in a simpler way; to go to Clarksdale to enjoy music and friends and to see people expressing themselves creatively through the music and art.   

                                    

Q: Do you remember a time when you questioned your decisions and/or what to do with your life?  If so, what do you contribute to your ability to get back on course and achieve success in life?

A: I have the greatest friends and family in the world. Any time there has been questions, backslides, whatever, they have been there, always supportive.

 

Q: I didn’t get the sense you were looking for a new project when this opportunity presented itself.  When you look back at the chain of events that led to Shacksdale Motel, do remember an “a-ha” moment?  Or did you just know from the very beginning that this project was destiny?

A: No I was not looking for a new project. I guess the “a-ha” moment was when Barry and Sally came over and said we should all be involved. This was after they had been to Clarksdale and met Jim and looked at what the Shack Up inn had accomplished.

 

Q: You have always enjoyed collecting treasures and are talented at the art of finding a good deal.  Did you ever think your passion would benefit you in a business? 

A: Well, over the years, I had thought about having a booth in an antique mall or starting an Ebay business, but had never thought it would be buying and decorating in the “shack motif”!!!! What fun it has been. You should see the looks I get when I buy something that is totally shacky or stop on the side of the road to pick up old bead board.

 

Q: You seem to come alive when you talk about Shacksdale and have said that you regularly pinch yourself.  What have you learned about yourself in the process? 

A: I have learned a great deal about my communication style. I have learned that listening, really listening is most important.  I have learned to listen.

 

Q: You speak highly of your partners.  I am sure they have been wonderful at inspiring and pushing you.  Do you have any mentors, favorite authors or quotes that inspire you as well?

A: Do for others as you would have them do for you.

 

Q: Do you have any advice or anything you would like to add?

 A: I feel that I have been given an unbelievably wonderful gift. It has been amazing working with all the people that made my shack a reality. It has been a fantastic journey. Every time someone new visits the shack and writes in the guests book what a wonderful place it is, I am thankful for all the people that made it happen.

 

Thanks Erin for sharing some insights into your successful journey.  In the process you have helped me realize that the best blessings in life are not forced or fought for.  Shacksdale is a labor of love, flowing from passion for Clarksdale, music and the people mixed with a lot of hard work.  I’m so excited for you!

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Interview With Michele Savoldi

May 24th, 2010

Michele Savoldi ~ finding her muse and making a difference along the way!

25110_1316041215059_1051582975_30802697_7208726_nIn my quest to find my muse, I have set out to interview the many people I know to be successful. I hope to gain insight into their success.

Michele Savoldi is one classy lady, exuding success wearing all the various hats in her life. I have had the pleasure of getting to know Michele through our common interest in social media and marketing. We met participating in Tastecasting, contributing to www.greatestcityofall.com and fortunately became friends along the way. Michele is generous with her time and gifts, promoting the non-profit community in addition to running her own marketing and Communication Company, columbus imPRessions. I love her ability to gracefully juggle family, friends and career.

Tiff: You seem to have a natural ability for branding, design and marketing. Have you always loved marketing and branding, or did you discover your gifts over time? Do you believe you have found your muse?

Michele: Thanks! I have actually always loved all types of designing! From redecorating a room in my home, to creating landscape and gardening beds in my yard, to laying out marketing pieces. I love to create! It’s my expression of self and I feel at peace when I’m using my creativity in any way. Even though I love to use my creativity I didn’t always know that I wanted to do marketing and branding. I went into college pretty much undecided and came out with a business degree and was still pretty much undecided. It was during my second job, at a radio station, that my eyes lit up at the thought of doing public relations. I liked the idea of making news and creating awareness. With that I spent a number of years focusing on public relations and worked at an ad agency and then at a large corporation in the public relations department. I enjoyed what a did, but didn’t feel driven. It wasn’t until I took some time off work to raise my kids that I found my muse. While home with the kids, in order to stay connected and current to the outside world, I did a lot of volunteer work. It was during my time volunteering on special events and various programs for a few nonprofits that I found my passion for design and marketing. It did feel natural and it was energizing. But what was most important to me was that I was using my passion to help make a positive difference. When the kid’s were ready for school, I was ready to go back to work and I did so as a Director of Marketing, Communications & Branding for a large nonprofit organization. It was there that I met an incredible mentor who was a board member. With his help I was able to craft my skills and learn how to be strategic about marketing, branding and public relations. And then came the boom of social media, which has taken me places I never dreamed possible. I sincerely believe I found my muse. It has and will change over time, but the foundation of what it is will always be the same.

Tiff: Did you ever question your choices or the direction you were heading in regards to your career?

Michele: I really haven’t questioned my choices or direction in my career. I strongly believe that everything, and everyone comes into your life for a reason. The reason could be something simple, or a lesson that needs to be learned, or a life alteration. Throughout my career, I have learned from my experiences whether they be, good, bad or indifferent. Each experience has helped me grow and has gotten me to where I am today. The birth of columbus imPRessions came from an experience that if I let it, could have been a terrible situation. A couple years ago the unthinkable happened. I was working at a job I enjoyed for a mission I loved when unexpectedly I was asked to leave the organization. Not because of poor work performance but because I had a blog – imPRessions. imPRessions was a blog a co-worker and I started on our own time to learn more about social media and to express our personal thoughts and opinions about the marketing and PR world. I’m not sure if my boss at the time did not understand social media, was jealous, or felt threatened, but regardless of her reasoning I was forced to resign my position. After the initial shock I decided this was a moment of a life-time. Instead of wallowing in self pity I decided to turn a bad situation into a great opportunity and actually turned the blog imPRessions into a business – columbus imPRessions, a marketing and communication business primarily serving small businesses, trade associations and nonprofit organizations. Things for columbus imPRessions have grown and changed since the first day I made that decision and I know, and hope, things will continue to change. Because with every change comes adventure, understanding, growth and evolution. I understand that while I may not be able to control each situation, I do have the power to decide how I will handle anything that comes my way. Instead of allowing myself to become a victim of circumstance I strive to take tough situations and turn them into positive occasions. It is through these occasions that I am continually growing both professionally and personally.

Tiff: What does success look like to you? Has your definition evolved over time?

Michele: Success to me comes in all shapes and sizes and always has. I look at each situation and try to find a success in them. If I can’t find the success, then I look for the lesson. Once the lesson is found success is achieved! I’ve had a couple big successes recently. When I started columbus imPRessions I also founded In-Kind Connection (www.inkindconnection.com), a complimentary website helping nonprofit organizations in accruing much needed in-kind donations. Nonprofits send me their needs or businesses send me their haves then I post them on the site and also broadcast them over various forms of social media platforms in hopes of making a connection. Awhile back I made a connection by helping a school in Africa for Aids children find lap size chalkboards for each student. They needed 100 of them and because of In-Kind Connection, the word got out and a connection was made. It was pretty awesome! Last month I helped open a new restaurant in New Albany. I created the branding, everything from the logo, tag line, to the marketing pieces and social media elements. When they had their soft launch celebration my family and I went to enjoy dinner. It was pretty amazing walking in and seeing the brand I created all over the place, from the signage, menu, cash registers, etc. Then to have my family tell me how proud they were of me was so gratifying! Other successes like helping a friend achieve a goal, watching my kids instinctively do something I’ve tried to instill in them, accepting and learning from a situation, making someone laugh, or appreciating all my blessings are incredibly gratifying successes as well.

Tiff: What are some of your favorite mentors, books and/or celebrities that have shaped your view on success? Do you have any favorite quotes you live by? What advice do you give to your children when they talk about their future?

Michele: My parents have been huge mentors for me. They lead very giving lives and are always putting others first. I have quite a few friends who are mentors to me. So many of them have the entrepreneurial spirit and aren’t afraid to try new things. Professionally I was lucky enough to work with a board member from a big Fortune 500 company. He shared with me so much wisdom and information in the marketing and branding industry. There is no college that could teach me what he did! While I do read books and have some favorite celebrities I tend to look to my real life interactions and situations to pull inspiration.

I do have a favorite Italian proverb – “At the table with good friends and family you do not become old”. It reminds me that above everything family and friends are the most important things in your life.

Anytime a situation is presented in a regular day I give advice to my kids about their future. I do it this way because it is more of a conversation than me coming across preachy. Plus when the situation is presented it can serve as an immediate example. Like every parent, I want my kids to be happy with whatever they decide to do with their future. I tell them that in life they will make mistakes and that is fine. It’s what they learn from those mistakes that will shape them as a person. I also hope that like I did with my parents, my kids will learn from my actions too.

Tiff: Michele, you have many wonderful characteristics; such as your generosity, kindness and a great work ethic. One characteristic that I highly admire is your confidence. Confidence seems to be a problem for so many people, including myself. What do you believe contributes to your confidence?

Michele: You’re so kind, thank you. I’m not always so confident, I just might be a little better at hiding it. :) There have been plenty of times I’ve jumped into something and wasn’t sure if I was doing the right thing. But instead of stressing over it too much I try to focus on the adventure, the lesson, and the growing opportunity. I also have pretty strong faith. Faith in God that He introduces me to situations for a reason and faith in myself that I can figure it out and make it as good as I can. Because unfortunately there is quite a few bad things in the world, I feel it is my responsibility to do what I can to put some good things into it. You know, trying to do my small part in helping balance it out. When you see the fruits of your labor, especially for the greater good it does amazing things for your self-worth and confidence. I’ve also had the support of my family, which is very reassuring and boosts confidence. They are a big part of why I’m able to do what I love.

Tiff: I understand that many women (and men too) are juggling life. How do you approach all the opportunities you have before you?

Michele: I try to achieve balance and with that sometimes I have to say “no”. As much as I wish I could, I know I can’t do it all so I have to look at everything and prioritize. Owning my own business gives me the freedom to create the schedule I want or need at that moment. That really helps with family, friends and career!

Tiff: Any upcoming projects that you are currently working on that you want to share?

Michele: I’m continuing my work with 10TV Commit To Be Fit, writing for various on-line publications, doing some speaking engagements, working on some fun projects with friends, looking forward to summer adventures with the kids, and working on details for possibly helping out a trade association with some event marketing. It looks to be a busy summer!

Tiff: Thanks so much Michele! I appreciate your time in answering these questions. I am learning so much from amazing women like you!

Michele: Thanks for asking me Tiff! I’m very touched that you would think to include me in the quest! You have many talents and I look up to you for the fire you have. You are not afraid to try and to learn. Those are great qualities to have and I admire them and you.

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Finding my “Muse”

May 17th, 2010

I am restless.

 I just finished several books that have gotten me all fired up.  (If you know me… it IS NOT  hard to get me all fired up.)  I read The Four Hour Work Week, Rework (not quite finished with) and A Thousand Miles, What I learned Editing My Life.Reading these books stirs up my “restless, somewhat rebellious, defiantly against office politics and society rules” spirit.  These authors helped me to realise that there are people living lives created on their own terms and built around a good story.
 
Donald Miller defines a good story: A story is a character that wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.
 
I have a vague idea of what I want.  In my ideal circumstances, I would use my entrepreneur spirit and my natural ability to promote to create a business around traveling.  I long to live an extraordinary life, travel and be my own boss.  The conflict is I need a “muse”, as explained in the Four Hour Work Week.  I have been anxed about this for weeks now!  Working for “the man” has created an incisive incident.  I simply do not fit the corporate mold.  The only thing I know to do is go on a search for my muse…. this should be interesting. 
 
What questions does a person ask themselves when searching for their muse?  Does it just show up as if from nowhere?  Does everyone have a muse?  How do you know?  Do people tend to have multiple muses?
 
It occurred to me this morning on my walk to work (the J-O-B/ incisive incident) that I have met some incredible people the past two years through social media that are experiencing fabulous success.  I wondered what they learned about discovering their muse?  What questions would they suggest I ask myself?  So, I have decided to contact my favorite success stories and get the scoop. 
 
Stayed Tuned!

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