Year-End Round-Up: Happy Five Year (!) Blogiversary to Life After College

birthday candles - make a wish! This is a long (but juicy!) one, folks! Grab a cup of coffee or tea, pull up a chair, and c’mon in behind the scenes of all things JBE (Jenny Blake Enterprises) and LAC.

We’re celebrating five -- count them FIVE -- years of blogging today, and there is a lot of change on the horizon. Consider this my annual report, all summed up in one mondo blog post.

If you find yourself overwhelmed (or painfully bored), skip ahead wtih these links:

At a glance

As I looked back on the year to gather my favorite blog posts, I have to admit that I was a little bit disappointed in myself at first. I could see that I was more quiet than previous years, less prolific, more introverted. I felt an almost-constant tug-of-war between wanting to completely retreat and to continue sharing.

But then I remembered, that’s okay.

It is most definitely a transition year, and even though these may feel uncomfortable, they are incredibly rich with insight and are important -- if not critical -- in their own ways. We need the transition time (days, months, years) to grow -- and there’s often much more growth than meets the eye. As I shared in 2011, just because you can’t see progress doesn’t mean it isn’t being made.

On that note, I have been cooking up quite a bit this month, back to my usual December work-like-a-maniac hibernation mode.

In one sum-it-all-up sentence: I'm going to be living in Bali for the first two months of the year to focus intensely on writing, launching and facilitating the Make Sh*t Happen course, yoga and coaching; I'm launching a site under my own name; and I'm bringing on a team of two other incredible writers here at LAC.

Thank you. This blog and my business would not be here without you.

In service to you,

Jenny

P.S. If you read no further, I’d be very grateful for you to take this reader survey and let me know how I can be most helpful to you in 2013!

About this post

In these round-ups, I outline my favorite and the most popular posts of the year, give statistics about blog traffic, and share personal milestones and achievements. It’s the best way to get a view of the entire blog on fast-forward and the full year in review.

I hesitate every year to publish these because it seems a bit self-indulgent, but it feels like the best way to honor all the work that goes into the blog. I hope that by the end of this epically long post that you learn something new, feel inspired or catch some helpful content you might have missed.

Previous Round-ups:

The 25 Most Important Lessons I’ve Learned in 1.5 Years of Solopreneurship

2012 truly represents the year of learning how to run my own business -- without a guidebook, but with plenty of ideas and inspiration from my coaching clients, MSH course participants, friends, family and fellow bloggers.

My previous posts, 20 Lessons from 2 Months of Solopreneurship Part One and Part Two still sum it up the best. Here's the condensed version, with a few extras:

  1. On quitting: Fears are so much smaller on the other side.
  2. Readjustment takes time and energy.
  3. The old adages ring true: get comfortable being uncomfortable, and the only certainty is uncertainty.
  4. Monthly recurring expenses can add up VERY quickly.
  5. NEVER count (or spend!) your chickens before they’ve hatched.
  6. Routine is king.
  7. Health and fitness is queen.
  8. Your community are your new co-workers.
  9. Run your business otherwise it will run you -- be vigilant about making time for proactive, strategic work.
  10. However, sometimes you need to start with quick wins.
  11. Building “entrepreneurial resilience” is like building a muscle; it takes practice.
  12. No matter what business you’re in, you’ve got two priorities: learn about sales and marketing.
  13. Plan ahead for building months (as opposed to doing months).
  14. Stay grounded in your long-term vision.
  15. “What gets measured gets managed.” Set up systems to track key metrics, learn which ones are most meaningful over time.
  16. (The right) conferences are major business boosters.
  17. However, beware the many costs of travel.
  18. Peer support is key. It might be your first launch, but you are not the first to launch.
  19. Peer support and bootstrapping is great, but know when to hire professional help.
  20. Be creative with how you structure your time. Focus. Maximize your best energy windows.
  21. Follow your energy: take breaks without apology and ship at your own pace.
  22. Listen to your gut. Learn to "say no to the good so you can say yes to the great" when it comes to new clients and opportunities.
  23. Be authentic in your communication, even when it seems counter-intuitive.
  24. Schedule efficiently as a solopreneur. For example: I work with coaching clients on Mondays and Tuesdays, then take the rest of the days to do behind-the-scenes work -- writing, course building or facilitating, and planning what’s next. I am more likely to take Wednesday and Friday off than the weekends. In fact -- weekends and holidays are my favorite time to work; less input, more output.
  25. CELEBRATE! My words from the original post still ring true: "Despite the challenges (and the many more sure to follow), working on JBE full-time is still the most incredible, freeing feeling in the world. I haven’t looked back for one second. I feel like ME again. Or rather, like I finally have access to the best version of myself that I always knew was hibernating underneath the stress and uncertainty. I feel ALIVE."

Personal 2012 Milestones

  • Yoga - I finally finished my yoga teacher certification in January (in a Mayan cave), I took my first big trip and time off as a solopreneur to spend one month in Bali and Thailand (completed a two-week Thai Massage Training in Chiang Mai in May), and taught 28 Geek Yoga classes throughout the year at The Yoga Collective in NYC.
  • Make Sh*t Happen - I ran two awesome classes in 2012, and am super excited to re-launch for a fourth time in January of 2013. This course -- and the participants in it -- is truly one of the highlights of my work. I love helping people come alive through meaningful pursuits, form a community of support and encouragement with each other (often one of the most unexpected benefits people experience), and I love watching them walk away with a renewed sense of confidence and purpose.
  • Speaking - I had the pleasure of speaking at several awesome conferences, including Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship, Cancer & Careers, World Domination Summit, and the closing keynote at Pratt’s Find & Follow Your Passion conference.
  • On a personal level - I’m celebrating over a year of living in my soul-city of New York, almost two years since the day I left my cubicle in March 2011, and am blessed to have amazing people in my life -- friends, family and The Man -- who support me deeply and constantly inspire me to be my best self.

My Favorite Posts

Big Goals:

Tools & Resources:

Uncertainty and Growth:

Yoga:

On writing:

Blog Statistics

  • Visits - The total visits for 2012 was just over 203,210 uniques (502,993 page views) from 200 countries, up from last year’s 124,821 uniques (365,449 page views) from 180 countries.
  • Quirky question keywords (my favorite) – does college make you happy? does it work when you trying to keep everyone happy? (definitely not), does love make you feel crazy? (definitely does!), how does the saying go - those who matter (don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter), is my turtle sad (hmmm - hard to tell, I’m sure), is it up to you to make others happy (definitely not, but we can all fall into this trap if we’re not careful), why can't i breathe whenever i'm doing a speech (it’s okay, I get nervous too)
  • Best “Jenny Blake” keywords - jenny blake would be my best friend (gee, thanks, I’m blushing), what is the answer to stress? (start with sleeping well, exercise and yoga), is jenny blake greek (nope - sorry to disappoint), how old is jenny blake blogger (29 years old as of October 9), i want jenny blake babies (eek - can’t help you there), jenny blake divide a post it (hell yes, I love post-its -- line down the middle - one half work, one half personal!), life after college by jenny blake txt file (hey now! stealing is bad karma), sexy jenny blake art (hmmm, not happening), who is jenny blake? (a question I am still trying to answer...), "i'm too sexy for my cube" (okay so that’s not JB specific, but high five to whoever searched for that!)

So what’s next?

1. New home underway! Jenny Blake website

It's time folks. I turned 29 this year, and the Life After College blog just turned 5 years old. I've said for a while that by the time I turn 30, I would like to be blogging under my own name. Life AFTER Life After College, if you will.

But have no fear! I'll still be running LAC, I'll just be bringing on two kick-ass writers who will do an incredible job helping me provide content for college grads. I've even given us a pet name: the Three LAC Blogateers! I’m ridiculous, I know. This transition will allow me to grow as a writer, and having a team at LAC will ensure that I'm still providing relevant, insanely helpful content for recent grads.

Once my new site launches, I will primarily be blogging there -- hopefully expanding my content to include everything that's going on in my life -- yoga, travel, business-building, and of course -- more soul searching :). I've been working like a maniac with a brilliant team of people to get the new site written, designed, and amazeified, and I'm aiming to launch it in February. More on that to come...

2. Newsletter Changes

As I mentioned in my most recent newsletter (oops...the first one in three months) -- I get a bit confused about whether to provide tips for grads, organization tools, Day in the Life of Jenny, business-building updates and resources, or all of the above?

To address this confusion (mine and yours!) here's what will happen starting in January: the LAC newsletter will go back to being sent regularly (monthly or quarterly) - score! - and it will be more focused on career tips and helpful resources and tools for life in general. It will also include very short "behind the scenes" updates from me and the LAC writers.

For those of you who want to follow me and my business specifically, I'll be sending a bi-weekly "behind the business" update from the new site, which will include my more personal whereabouts and thoughts on life and business. Get in early here.

3. How I can improve, and what would you like to see from me, Melissa and Paul in 2013?

I would love to hear your thoughts -- if you have a minute, I would be very grateful for you to take this reader survey.

See you in January, my friends!

THANK YOU again -- for everything.

Much love and enormous gratitude,

Jenny

The group photo from the MSH Creative Weekend of Genius in April. Cheers!

Made Sh*t Happen -- Q&A with Shannyn Allan: From Broke Grad Student to Rockstar Blogger

I've been working like a maniac for the last two weeks to get all kinds of big updates ready for you -- more to come in my mega year-end wrap-up post next week! One of the major projects is getting ready to kick-off the biggest, baddest, most awesome Make Sh*t Happen course yet in January (with the help of launch genius Melissa Anzman). It will be the fourth time I take a group through the course; seeing people come alive through the pursuit of what really matters to them is truly one of the tip-top highlights of my work.

Today I'm excited to introduce you to a long-time blog reader, coaching client, and MSH Alum -- Shannyn Allen -- to share her inspiring journey from broke grad student to successful blogger and speaker.

What I love about Shannyn is her vulnerability -- watching her find her confidence and her true gifts and the courage to share them with the world has been a inspiration to me. This woman is gutsy, brazen, determined and bold -- and is an amazing example of what is possible when you set your sights on something scary, then take the steps to actually make it happen.

Made Sh*t Happen: Q&A with Shannyn Allan

ABOUT: Describe your goal in more detail – what did it involve? What inspired you to go after it?

Shannyn Allen - getting ready to speak at FINCON this yearWhen I started the Make Sh*t Happen course I desperately wanted to make my blog, Frugal Beautiful, the “real deal.” It seemed like an impossible dream to build a blog that was successful like the bloggers I looked up to. They made real money from their blog, and their blog made other dreams (like working from home, travel, etc.) a possibility. I had been blogging for about a year but it felt like it wasn’t as successful as others that inspired me.

I wanted to be a rockstar blogger -- someone who was getting recognition by big brands for ads and sponsorships, who were pulling in $1000+ in extra income a month with extra perks like invites to conferences and fun freebies (like getting test driving cars or staying at new hotels to provide feedback on their blog).

This wasn’t just a matter of pride or ego -- I knew that if I could get my blog to work, it would help me pay my bills and stretch a tight budget. There was a lot on the line and a lot of longing to make it work!

FEAR/DOUBTS: What were your biggest fears, doubts and insecurities before starting? What barriers (real or imagined) were in your way?

I was scared that if I committed my money and time to becoming a problogger that I could fail, and fail hard. I was worried that I would have wasted money on a professional designer or that I’d feel like a loser if people ignored my posts or my ad pitches.

My biggest fear about trying to be a problogger was emulating the people that inspired me. Before I truly, honestly committed to the goal of being a rockstar problogger it was easy to feel inspired by other bloggers that had books published, started their own businesses or made enough money on their blogs to work for themselves, but after I started trying to emulate them myself it made me feel vulnerable.

For the first time in my life, after taking action to become who I wanted to be, I was worried that if I failed, I was an honest failure. I feared if I confronted the character of success and didn’t win, I would have lacked the grit to be a success. I feared I would discover I was nothing like my heroes and never could be.

COURAGE: How did you build the courage to actually do it? How did you know it was time?

I had seen that other bloggers were building a business for themselves with ad revenue, products, book deals and were getting noticed by big brands to bring in sponsorships and freebies.

They made a living doing what I loved -- blogging! Not only did the money appeal to me (as a broke grad student) but I wanted the perks and lifestyle though I knew it would hard work. The turning point came when I was tired of being mediocre, or “hobby blogging” and wanted more for myself and my blog.

SUPPORT: Who held you accountable to your goal? Were friends and family supportive, or did they think you were crazy?

Most of my family and friends didn’t understand my goal to make money from my blog -- they thought it was just a hobby. I knew from the MSH course that it was vital to enlist the help of others.

I made blogger friends, reached out to others via email and attended any conferences I could. I realized that if the support wasn’t there when I started, then I would have to build those supports myself if I were to succeed.

THE DIP: Was there ever a moment/period if time that you felt you had hit a dip (felt like a failure and/or wanted to quit)?

Uh, YES! There were off-months when my ad revenue fell through or traffic sucked. Then, when I decided to make my first product to sell, it was so overwhelming -- trying to figure out how to write it, how to edit video, what marketing techniques I should use, setting up a site, etc. that I wanted to give up numerous times -- I would work on a post for hours that got zero comments or I would write up a great marketing proposal for a major brand to find that they’d changed their mind or no longer had a budget.  There were times I would take the dips personally, and since blogging is our personal creation, if the site didn’t succeed, I wasn’t succeeding.

The biggest dip was consistently facing down the potential for failure in both small and big tasks. Each time I faced potential failure I had to enlist the support of others to remind myself it wasn’t the end of the world and it was an opportunity to learn and grow -- that no failure is definitive.

Now, my traffic has doubled, I finished my very first product to launch, I’m running my own social media consulting gig as I figure out the next steps, and my blog successfully scored me some big-ticket sponsorship to travel and have fun! It was worth the work and the dips, no doubt.

ADVICE: What advice would you give to future Make Sh*t Happeners?

1. Start a blog and commit its purpose to align with yours: It doesn’t matter what you blog about, the right blog can bolster your goals by giving you some fun money, a community of supportive readers and friends and a place to jot ideas down and keep track of your goals.

2. Be brave and tell your story: I was afraid that being too personal on the blog would get me laughed at. I was afraid that marketing my blog to advertisers would get me rejected (ouch!) or that I wasn’t good enough. People love compelling content -- tell your story and make connections around it!

3. Reach out and stretch out: If you want to make money from your blog, get famous or have a blog that’s book-worthy, whatever your goal -- tell people about it! Go to conferences, ask to talk to major brands/publishers/sponsors to get their support. It’s uncomfortable to ask for support, help or funding but you have to do it!

4. Hire a professional: If your blog isn’t getting the traction you want, hire a designer. I also advise anyone to read up on great books by Seth Godin, listen in to Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income Podcast and take any online courses by Corbett Barr...all of these helped me get to where I’m at.

When I started MSH I was terrified to admit that my big dream was being a problogger and having a brand of my own -- I thought that was a silly goal, but it was mine. Then, when I admitted it to the world, it seemed impossible, but now that I have my first product coming out, my blogging business has come full circle. Jenny & my MSH community really pushed me to embrace the challenge and go all in.

Whatever your big dream -- start today. Push, push, push. When you turn around, you will not believe the amazing sh*t you made happen in a few months time!

More about Shannyn

Shannyn AllenShannyn started Frugal Beautiful when she was a broke and struggling grad student in a new city. Eventually, this little blog lead her to quit a job, change careers and start her own social media consulting business, Cake Mix Media, to supplement her work as a blogger. Her first product, Rockstar Blogging, is geared to help any blogger get their first $1K in free products, sponsorships and direct ads to supplement and fund their passions no matter where they start.

In addition to Shannyn's Rockstar Blogging guide, those of you interested in starting a blog might also be interested in Corbett Barr's Start a Blog That Matters, Dave Ursillo's Literati Writing Group, and Make Sh*t Happen of course! No matter what, for more details and a jump at early enrollment, sign-up to be notified when the MSH doors re-open in January.

Out of the Red, Back to Black

From the moment I first met her at Alexia Vernon's Moxie Camp conference, I had an insta-crush on Jacquette Timmons. This woman is a radiant, positive powerhouse for good, and I feel fortunate to have crossed paths with her this year. Jacquette’s professional success impressed me -- she’s a frequent TV correspondent (CNN, Bloomberg Report), investment industry veteran of 24 years and a long-time private portfolio manager -- but it’s her commitment to personalizing, de-villainizing and visioning (yes visioning!) around debt management that really intrigued me.

As those of you who’ve been reading since the Suze Orman Knows We Exist days, I have major soft-spots for smart financial practices, for kick-ass people doing cool things, and for staying “out of the red.” When Jacquette mentioned she was launching a course around vision-based debt management, I was totally hooked -- and I knew that it (and she) would be the perfect resource to share with all of you.

With that, I turn it over to Jacquette to share more about how we can all be a little smarter about our finances, and get out of the red and back to black!

Out of the Red, Back to Black: Q&A With Jacquette Timmons

JB: What is the biggest misconception people have about debt?

Jacquette: Many people start and stop with the notion that debt is a numbers issue...it isn't! It's not just a financial issue; it's about so much more than the numbers and if you only focus your attention, time, and resources on the numbers, you may discover that you're working hard on the wrong thing! And this scenario could result in you paying a bigger price (financially & emotionally) than you realize.

JB: A lot of people experience shame and embarrassment around debt, or even just money management overall. What do you say to them?

First, I remind them that whether we're talking about debt or money management overall: money is never just about money. Part of your financial experience is always an equation that consists of the numbers/mechanics of money + psychology and emotions of money.

Second, especially as it pertains to debt, I'd say, "I understand." Debt has become the new "scarlet letter." Because of 2008 and its aftermath, there is now a prevailing presumption that all people with debt are irresponsible, unable to control their impulses. And that just isn't true. Do some people fall into that category? Absolutely! But there are a lot of people who have done all the right things and due to circumstances beyond their control (a prolonged period of unemployment - perhaps due to 2008; a significant dip in business; or an unexpected illness), they now find themselves behind the financial 8-ball trying to get back in front. External pressure and internal pressure can lead to feelings of shame, embarrassment, and guilt.

Third, I'd say, "Write it out." I know it sounds hokey but if you write out exactly what you're feeling, when that feeling surfaces, or who might trigger it, you can get a better handle on how to best manage it. For example, do you feel more tense when a bill collector calls? Ok. Why? Because it reminds me of what I don't have? Ok. Does that make you feel bad? Yes. Why? You'd continue this series of question, response, and "why?" until you reach the core reason for you reaction. And trust me, you'll know when you've reached this point. But reaching that point is critical; it is what will help you more clearly see what you have control over and to give yourself credit for the steps you're taking, no matter how small they may seem, to make things right.

JB: What mistakes do people typically make when managing their personal finances?

Jacquette: Many people simply have no clue. And I don't mean to be dismissive or to insult anyone's intelligence. But they lack financial self-awareness. They don't know what they have; what they tend to do with what they have; or why?

That translates into not knowing how much they earn (yes, there are people who have no clue about this); they don't know how much they spend and on what; they don't know anything about their investments, presuming they have any; and if they have debt, they may know the big picture number, but the details totally elude them. They are in effect, operating in a financial vacuum. However, without financial self-awareness financial leaks are more likely to go unnoticed and you're also likely to miss out on financial opportunities as well.

JB: What advice do you have for people with erratic incomes trying to create a realistic plan?

Jacquette: Ahh...this is always a toughy. For people with erratic incomes but steady expenses, it is even more critical to control your variable expenses and to save 5-10% more of your income during flush periods than you do when things are "normal." Now this presumes you know what a normal month or period looks like. But your "normal" becomes your baseline, and anytime you exceed that normal level of income, make sure to apply the 5-10% rule. Also, it helps to do scenario planning; this will help with a necessary mindset shift...to replace "a realistic plan" with "this is my baseline plan."

JB: What is the snowball effect and why you think it’s a key approach to paying off debt?

Jacquette: The snowball effect is a powerful and counter-intuitive way to approach paying off your debt! There are some who subscribe to the approach that says you list all of your debt and you tackle it beginning with the one that has the higher interest rate. The thought being: Pay off your higher interest debt first because it is costing you so much. And if you focused just on the numbers that definitely works. But if you focus on the psychological boost that comes from paying something off, then you need to follow the snowball effect.

With this approach, you list your debt and you tackle first the debt that has the lowest outstanding balance! So you pay the minimums on all the other debts except the one with the lowest balance -- on that one you pay a bit above the minimum until you get the balance down to zero. Then you apply the amount you were paying to this to the next debt, the new "lowest" balance debt. And, you continue this pattern until all of your debt is paid off!

JB: During the Moxie Camp workshop, you provided a really helpful exercise (that involved a circle divided into four parts) -- can we share that with LAC?

Jacquette: Absolutely! It's called the Financial Wheel. I use it with all my financial coaching clients, it's in my book - "Financial Intimacy," and I weave it into as many public speaking engagements as I can. The Financial Wheel exercise invites people to look at the four things any of us can do with money, which very broadly are: Earn, Save, Invest, Spend.

So, draw a circle and inside the circle draw a vertical and horizontal line. Label the upper left quadrant "Earn;" the upper right "Save;" the lower right "Invest;" and the lower left "Spend." I take people through a series of questions that helps them discover if they are living by design or by default. And because of our conditioning, most of us are living by default: meaning, we determine the elements of the save, invest, and spend categories based on what we earn. When if you flipped it, you'd be living by design!

Here's how: determine what you need to earn based on what you want to save, how you want to invest (and not just in assets but people and causes as well), and spend your money, and what would be required for there to be an even greater alignment with your values, goals, dreams and priorities.

The current gap between "living by default now" and "living by design in the future" is filled with insight, knowledge, wisdom, and clues on strategies to take, tools to use, and tips to employ.

More about Out of the Red, Back to Black

Out of the Red, Back to Black is Jacquette’s signature program for people feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed about their debt. If you enter your email, you’ll get access to her free training video, even if you don’t enroll in the full course.

This course is for you if your debt is:

  • costing you time, money & emotional freedom
  • larger than you want
  • keeping you stuck, preventing you from making career & life-style choices you would otherwise make if debt wasn't part of your financial story
  • taking you much, much longer than you initially thought to pay off
  • causing feelings of frustration and maybe even a bit of shame (not necessarily the guilt-oriented kind of shame, but the shame of feeling "not enough")

Here's what you'll get:

  • 4 modules of audio + video content - all downloadable for easy access
  • PDF worksheets & checklists to help you to take action & stay the course
  • Private member's area with 24/7 access to your materials
  • Private online community for interaction with and accountability and support from other program members
  • And more...

Jacquette says, "If getting your finances in order was one of your 2012 goals and is one of your 2013 goals; if you now realize there's something more to the exercise of getting out debt aside from addressing the numbers, but just aren't too sure what that "something" is; then give yourself a gift of this program! I assure you...it will take the 'it sucks' factor out of your debt experience."

Click here to access the free training video and see if the full course is for you.

More about Jacquette

Jacquette M. TimmonsJacquette M. Timmons is known for leading thought-provoking conversations about money, choices, relationships, and life.

She is the author of Financial Intimacy: How to Create a Healthy Relationship with Your Money and Your Mate, the creator of the Financial Intimacy Conference and the founder and CEO of Sterling Investment Management, an investment education and financial coaching firm.

Inner Critic Incarnate: 6 Lessons From Negative Reviews (Hint: They Don't Kill You!)

It was early 2009 and I felt like my book was being suffocated by fear. Scratch that -- I was actively suffocating my book WITH my fears. They had the Microsoft Word file in a choke hold for almost six months and they weren't letting up. I remember going for one of my weekly walks with my dad and I told him I thought my book was crap. A pile of meaningless clichés. He swiftly corrected me, saying that even if I didn't finish it -- even if I published it that very day -- it would help people. And that I would be crazy to give up on it. At the time, about five percent of me knew he was right. So I clung to that five percent like my life depended on it.

My fears around putting my ideas out to the world seemed insurmountable. Somehow they ballooned in my mind to an alternate reality universe where as soon as my book hit the shelves, people would start pointing and laughing at me, calling me a motivational hack who didn't know anything and who had no right to write a book.

Inner Critic Incarnate

Much to my amazement and delight, when my book finally did come out in March of last year it was celebrated by friends, family and all of you, and strangers started to hear about it too. Glowing reviews poured in on Amazon, and the next year Target picked up 15,000 copies for their stores.

I'm also proud to report that I am now earning royalties, which many books never do. My first $10 check came in last month and I couldn't be more proud. I had the honor of being the closing keynote at Find Your Passion conference at Pratt this past weekend, and was overjoyed to meet several readers who said the book really helped them through a tough time.

I've had a few throw-tomatoes-at-me reviews, but thankfully not many.

The other day another one-star review came in . . . and it bore an UNCANNY resemblance to the very same negative reviews I was giving myself during the great writer's block of 2009.

Many people would probably advise me not to give it the time of day by airing it out on the blog -- but this one taught me some important lessons that I would be remiss not to share.

First, for your (re)viewing pleasure:

If you've never thought about anything ever this book is for you I got 300 pages of what seemed like listening to a complete moron talk about how stupid they are (my interpretation). Seriously, 90% of the advice this woman gives is completely laughable as I would expect anyone who's made it through college to already know these things. Her advice on dating and relationships are embarrassingly naive; they sound like a self-important 14 year old girl talking to her 8 year old sister about love. Please. What's more, it's shocking someone with so many problems is a life coach. This woman is crazy, like the type of person you just try to have little to nothing to do with because of her stability issues (I wouldn't be surprised if she lies crying on the ground for hours after reading this review).

The idea of a review like this TERRIFIED me back then.

But imagine -- if I had walked away from my book just to avoid a review like this -- nobody would have read it. No one would have benefitted. For every one review like this, there are 20+ emails or interactions that share what a positive impact the book did have in someone's life. And you know what? This reviewer has EVERY right to hate my book! I will be the first to tell you that it's not for everyone.

If I had shut myself down because of fear, I would have given away all of my power. I would have never finished (or even started) my book. I would have caved to cowardice.

I would have said that a future negative reviewer's opinion of me is more important than my own. And I am better than that. We all are.

I'm not here to rip this reviewer apart. I appreciate him more than he probably realizes. Nor am I crying in a ball on the floor (though I will say it stung). I am actually celebrating.

Here's why . . .

6 Things I've Learned From Negative Reviews:

  1. They show that you've DONE something. You've created something. You've pushed through your fear to ship something that matters to you.
  2. Your work has spread to a wide enough audience to get real, honest feedback from people who aren't on your payroll (friends, family, people who love us no matter what).
  3. Negative reviews will come in, but guess what? THEY DON'T KILL YOU! Shocking, right? Our inner critics would have us believe the world will come crashing down, but it doesn't. They might sting, but that's it. It's no gaping wound.
  4. It's an opportunity to re-examine what you DO like about your work AND what you don't. The review can't hurt unless you agree with it on some level. Use that information to make your work better next time. Is there anything you would do differently?
  5. Negative reviews are a sign that you've done something different enough to piss someone off. Points for creativity!
  6. I am LUCKY to have the "champagne problem" of a few negative reviews. Of reviews at all! I am very grateful my work is out there, and that it has garnered as much interest and support as it has.

So, I'd like to say thank you to the people who have taken the time to give me a review at all. To read my work and care about it enough to talk about it to others; out of 108 reviews, 4 one-stars 'aint bad.

If we spend our lives just avoiding criticism, then we're not living much at all.

As one of my former Google colleagues David Kim often reminded me, "Don't let compliments go to your head, or let criticism get to your heart."

I'd love to hear from you in the comments: how do you handle negative reviews? Anything I missed in terms of what we can learn from them?

Introducing The Acorn Project: A Two-Week Course to Reflect, Dream and Scheme

What a week. Considering some of the Sandy aftermath on the East Coast, I'm one of the lucky ones -- but didn't get away scot-free either. My area lost power from Monday night to Friday night -- which meant no running water or cell phone service, and 40-block walks just to use the bathroom in the morning. Urban camping at it's finest? The candlelight was cute until I hadn't showered for three days...

It's a humbling experience to realize how much we rely on gadgets, electricity, running water (and how fortunate we are to have them so readily available most of the time) -- and how much effort it takes just to go through a day without easy access to those things.

My sincerest thanks to everyone who reached out, checked-in, asked if they could help or offered a place to stay -- I'm deeply touched by the generosity of community in times like these. And sending my thoughts to all those more seriously impacted as well.

During the days that I did eventually find Internet (huge thanks to Ryan Paugh for arranging workspace at The YEC's accounting firm, Presti & Naegele!) I was hard-at-work on an exciting new course for all of you . . .

Introducing The Acorn Project

"Observe any squirrel during nutting time and see how busy he is laying a stock of provisions for Winter. Bushels and bushels of acorns and nuts are gathered by the little fellows and stored in the hollows of trees and in other accessible nooks. When these are filled the squirrel buries his treasures in the ground. Busily, like a streak of gray lightning, he whisks about under oaks picking acorns and burying them in the ground in a thousand and one spots. From sunrise to sunset he and his mates are busy storing away the Winter supply.

...Doubtless many of the acorns buried by the little planter are forgotten. Others are covered under snow before he has a chance to dig them out. In either case, an acorn has been planted as delicately as if by hand of man, and only the thaw of the ground and the warm Spring sunshine are needed to coax forth the oak. 

...It is a wonderful thing when you come to consider what part the tiny, bushy tailed animals may have played in the history of our country. Perhaps the majestic ships that plow the seas -- maybe even the old, famous men-of-war owe their existence primarily to the little paws of the soft-furred, soft-eyed little animals."

—The New York Times (Published March 15, 1903)

What do squirrels, acorns and oak trees have to do with you?

The Acorn ProjectWith just two months left in the year, it's a time for many people to wrap things up, reflect, and spend time with family. It's a time where many of us are starting to hunker down and set ourselves up for modern-day hibernation. It's also a time for us to start nurturing ideas for what's next and where we want to focus our effort in the coming year.

The Acorn Project is a two-week course that will help you reflect and start gathering fuel -- ideas, dreams and goals -- for the new year. After all, today's acorn stash could turn into tomorrow's big, beautiful oak tree.

This mini-course doesn't share the same intensity as Make Sh*t Happen, nor is it supposed to -- it is about collecting and mapping out your desires, values, ideas and goals so that you can see what wants to emerge in the New Year.

The Acorn Project kicks off a bigger course series called called Kickstart Your Change from Ruzuku, the online learning company I work with to host Make Sh*t Happen.

Sign me up, Scotty! (And FAQ)

What topics will we cover?

  • Day 1: Lay the Foundation: Mindset + Current State
  • Day 2: Create Your Compass (Values)
  • Day 3: Dream Big (Brainstorm and life map)
  • Day 4: Beyond the Trapeze (Navigating transition)
  • Day 5: Maintain Your Momentum (how to Make Sh*t Happen!)

How does the course work?

The course is facilitated through an online-learning platform called Ruzuku. You will get an email each day notifying you that the next set of content is ready. As you move through the course, you’ll check activities off that you complete, and you can return to the course any time after it is finished to revisit the material.

Who should sign-up? Is it just for college grads?

Nope. The course is for you if you are looking for guidance and inspiration to help assess where you are now and where you want to go.

This course is for anyone who:

  • Feels stuck or stagnant, wants to make a change but isn't sure where to start
  • Wants help determining what’s most important, and how to go after it
  • Is looking for some direction and structure to help reflect on this year and plan for 2013

I look forward to seeing many of you in the course

The Acorn Project - Click here to enroll now!

Halloween Hodge Podge: October Link Round-up

There's all kinds of fun stuff cookin' for our round-up this month, so let's dig right in! On the subject of cooking -- I am proud to announce that I have come up with a . . . wait for it . . . second recipe for my one-trick-pony cooking arsenal. I do have a handful of others I'm slowly mastering, but this is the next one ready for public consumption :)

Chia Seed Psuedo-Dessert

This isn't so much of a recipe as a concoction, but I'm enjoying it nonetheless! It is inspired by Inna, who sent me an awesome article on the power of Chia seeds.

  • Empty one container of Greek Yogurt into a bowl
  • Mix 1-2 tablespoons of Chia seeds into  yogurt and stir well; let sit for 20 minutes (the Chia seeds need time to expand to an almost tapioca-like state)
  • Optional: mix in honey and/or half a packet of Justin's Honey Almond Butter
  • Add blueberries, raspberries and sliced banana (or fruit of your choice)
  • Optional: refrigerate again so it gets cold (I usually make this before I eat dinner, then have it ready to eat later)
  • Final step: ENJOY! Better than a bowl of Ben & Jerry's amiright?! Okay fine, I hear you, there's no substitue for that. But maybe it will come close.

Fun features around the web

Free ebooks and resources

There's something in the fall air -- in the last month I've noticed quite a few free (awesome) ebooks make their way onto the Internet. Here are a few to check out:

Ignorance is Not Bliss Webinar Reminder

As I mentioned in last week's "Ignorance is not bliss" post on common business mistakes, I’m excited to host Kyle for a free overview and Q&A session this Thursday at 3pm ET to explain the material and answer your questions.

Kyle will walk us through the most common mistakes new small business owners make, then we’ll open things up for live questions at the end. You can enroll for the webinar here — and no worries if you can’t make it — we’ll send out the recording afterward.

Make Sh*t Happen Round 3: That's a Wrap!

We've just completed the third Make Sh*t Happen course and I am beaming like a proud mom over what the amazing crew was able to accomplish.

A few highlights:

In alumni news:

There's much much more happening than what I shared above (which I'm barely doing justice), including some amazing health and fitness progress too. I'm gearing up for a big re-launch in January to kick of 2013 with a bang, so sign-up here to be on the early notification list!

A crazy reminder about identify theft

My brother sent me this article a little while back that talks about the "amazing mind reader" video in which a man uses technology to get all kinds of personal information from unknowing strangers, just from what was sitting in their pockets.

From the article, PSA Uses ‘Psychic’ to Demonstrate Dangers of Sharing Personal Info Online:

Do you really need pyschic abilities to know intimate details about a stranger? Maybe not. A new video from Belgium that hit it big on Reddit and YouTube is proving that, thanks to the Internet and social media, learning a person's deepest secrets and even just mundane info such as his or her favorite color or best friend's name is only a few clicks away.

The video is actually a public service announcement titled, "Amazing Mind Reader Reveals His Gift." It begins with random people being selected from the streets of Brussels. They are asked if they would like to participate in an upcoming TV program featuring Dave, described as a gifted clairvoyant. Once they agree, they are ushered into a white tent to meet Dave. He hugs them and dances around as he seemingly tries to get a sense of the person's energy. As people are seated across from him, Dave tells them random facts about them, from the color of the motorcycle they own to their bank account number and even the types and locations of their tattoos.

As the unassuming subjects become absorbed in Dave's trance and the factual information he is providing, the truth behind his magic is revealed. A curtain drops, and behind it is a group of computer hackers dressed in all black searching the Internet for information about each of the individuals.

See for yourself in the video:

[youtube id="F7pYHN9iC9I"]

Ignorance is Not Bliss: Resources + Webinar for Aspiring and New Small Business Owners

Earlier this year my good friend Kyle Durand and I put on a joint workshop at WDS called "Ignorance is Not Bliss: 5 things every entrepreneur needs to know about setting up a business to save money, prevent headaches and keep the government off your back." It stemmed from my own clulessness about what business structures I needed to have in place, embarrassment about not having taken care of them yet, and hesitation (and fear) about draining my bank account to hire a lawyer. Kyle, a long-time entrepreneur who has degrees in both law and accounting, has also seen firsthand many clients who fell into avoidable businesses situations before working with him -- glitches at best, total firestorms at worst.

We're sharing the handout from our workshop below, but even better — I'm really excited to host Kyle for a free overview and Q&A session next Thursday at 3pm ET to explain the material and answer your questions. I'll be facilitating, and Kyle will walk us through the most common mistakes new small business owners make, then we'll open things up for live questions at the end (as specific as you want!). You can enroll for the webinar here -- and no worries if you can't make it -- we'll send out the recording afterward.

Getting ready to set-up your own business? Keep reading after the handout for an amazing program by Jeff Unger (a fellow speaker at Mario Schulze's NYC Idea Mensch event) -- his company e-minutes is on a mission to help form 500 corporations -- for free! 

Ignorance is Not Bliss (Handout)

5 things every entrepreneur needs to know about setting up a business to save money, prevent headaches and keep the government off your back

This content isn’t nice-to-know -- it’s must-know material that affects everyone who wants to build a business or even just start selling a product. A few key systems around accounting and law can go a long way to keeping more money in your pocket and Uncle Sam off your back.

1. Make it legal: register your business with with the right government agencies

2. For finances, don’t mix business with pleasure: track income and expenses separately

3. A contract will save the day - and your relationships

4. Keep the tax man happy (and more money in your pocket)

5. Stay healthy: get the right health insurance!

6. Bonus: Assemble your business posse to earn more money in less time

More about the eMinutes Mission to Set-up 500 New Businesses

For nearly twenty years, the lawyers at eMinutes have formed corporations for A-list celebrities, musicians, and athletes. Now, eMinutes has embarked on a mission to form 500 free corporations for first-time entrepreneurs. Free means free. eMinutes is even paying the filing fees.

For first-time entrepreneurs who have not yet formed a corporation, eMinutes will form the company. For entrepreneurs who have already formed a corporation, eMinutes lawyers will review the paperwork, determine whether documents need to be “cleaned up”, and take whatever steps are necessary to restructure the company. All of this will be provided at no charge.

Apply now, or read more about Jeff Unger and the eminutes team here.

Natalie Sisson's $100 Change Project

Speaking of WDS and people I adore, Natalie Sisson has launched a project called $100 Change, with tons of free resources, interviews, product giveaways and mentoring opportunities for aspiring solopreneurs. Click on the image below to learn more.

Imagine if $100 could change your life

I'd love to hear from you in the comments: From existing business-owners, any tips for those just starting out? If you're new to the game, what are your biggest obstacles or questions?

On Seasons

Fall Leaves There's been a distinct shift in the New York City weather this week -- as dresses and flip-flops retired with the humidity of summer, they made way for the boots and beanies that signal the crisp, brisk and decidedly here-to-stay Fall.

Maybe it's the Californian in me, not yet fully adjusted to having actual seasons, or the simple fact of being a living, breathing animal on this planet -- but I'm noticing a distinct shift in myself as well.

I turn 29 today and have been finding myself in a reflective mood (common theme this year . . . don't say I didn't warn you!). As I've talked about in the past, birthdays are a my personal New Year's -- they are a time for reflecting on the year prior and setting intentions for what's to come.

So today as I enter the last year of a very full decade, for which I have much to be thankful for, I'm letting a few others' wise words take the floor. (And a quick aside to say THANK YOU to everyone who has left such wonderful Facebook notes, tweets, texts, emails and messages today!) 

Nevine Michaan - On Seasons

I went to a yoga workshop this weekend by Nevine Michaan, an incredible woman and teacher who has been studying Taoist theory and sacred geometry for the last 25+ years, and she reminded us that we do best to live, move, and practice yoga by the seasons.

As the Tao says:

"Ten thousand beings carry yin on their backs and embrace yang in their front, Blending these two vital breaths to attain harmony."

According to Michaan, we attain our own harmony by honoring and becoming the master of our own universe; moving energy through our internal nature while being aware of the changes in the outer world around us.

As the seasons go, Michaan says that Spring represents our vision and potential, Summer is for setting goals and seeing them to fruition, Autumn is for patience and reflection, and Winter is for hibernation, substantiation, and making effort.

In this video from 2009, I talked about birthdays and transitions being a time of shedding our old skin (just as snakes do) so that we can make room for what's next. But -- there's a time of being naked in the middle of it -- as we let go of the old and explore what's next. (See one of my favorite related articles on transition, The Parable of the Trapeze.)

The nakedness is our vulnerability, our rawness, our core -- without the protection of the ego or our outer world -- and what's next comes with time, patience, reflection and intentional action (sprinkled with a little crazy too). :)

Khalil Gibran - On Time 

Excerpted from The Collected Works of Khalil Gibran, one of my favorite books of poetry (particularly The Prophet, which you can read online here).

You would measure time the measureless and the immeasurable. You would adjust your conduct and even direct the course of your spirit according to hours and seasons. Of time you would make a stream upon whose bank you would sit and watch its flowing.

Yet the timeless in you is aware of life's timelessness, And knows that yesterday is but today's memory and tomorrow is today's dream. And that that which sings and contemplates in you is still dwelling within the bounds of that first moment which scattered the stars into space. Who among you does not feel that his power to love is boundless? And yet who does not feel that very love, though boundless, encompassed within the centre of his being, and moving not from love thought to love thought, nor from love deeds to other love deeds? And is not time even as love is, undivided and spaceless?

But if in your thought you must measure time into seasons, let each season encircle all the other seasons, And let today embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing.

Cheryl Strayed - On Stretching

This quote is excerpted from an incredible book I just finished called Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar -- a compilation of poignant, wise, moving essays from Cheryl Strayed's Dear Sugar column on TheRumpus.net. Full credit to Grace Boyle for this book recommendation, from her beautiful blog post Matters of the Heart.

When asked about advice for people in their twenties: "Be as magnanimous as you can be . . . because it's harder to be magnanimous when you're in your twenties, I think, so I'd like to remind you of it. You're generally less humble in that decade than you'll ever be and this lack of humility is oddly mixed with insecurity and uncertainty and fear. You will learn a lot about yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery. Be a warrior for love."

***

Bonus: Yoga on the Rocks

Speaking of yoga -- below are a few recent pictures from a visit to Joshua Tree National Park in CA. Thank you to The Man -- who has been one of my greatest gifts this past year -- for the vision, talent and creative genius to make these happen :)

Yoga at Joshua Tree

Yoga on the Rocks! Jenny at Joshua Tree (Grasshopper Pose)

Yoga on the Rocks - Reach for it! Jenny Blake @ Joshua Tree

90+ Tech Tools to Help Manage Your Life

Two weeks ago, I shared 10 must-have tech tools I can't live without  -- then asked for your best tips, and man did you deliver! I'm excited to share the full slew of suggestions, with a few more of my own that I snuck in below. But first . . .

Contest Winners

Huge congrats to Jennifer (baxlala) who won the HP Laptop, and to Chelsey, Ellen and Cassie who each won copies of Julie's book! Enormous thanks to all of you who left comments for the thoughtful contributions. On that note and without further ado . . .

90+ Tech Tools to Help Manage Your Life

Tracking To Do's and Getting Things Done

  • Tania - ToDoist "such a clean and simple website (and a browser app too!) where you can input any kinds of tasks you have and their deadline, and then you can check them off whenever you are done." Katie Smith says " I love that you can have categories and sub- categories. Perfect tool to handle work projects, personal lists, and even 'one day' items."
  • Tmoobc - Astrid - "I use it to set reminders for pretty much everything."
  • Clear for iPhone - "the future of to-do lists" - described as having a beautiful interface with simple swiping (though I don't actually have an iPhone)
  • Amanda Leighty - Cheddar - "great list making app."
  • RachaelGKing - Wunderlist "is integral to my organization process. It syncs on desktop, mobile and iPad, and you can make as many lists as you want and mark things off when they're done."
  • Don Harper - Taskwarrior "to handle my scheduling for the day and the tasks."
  • Jamie C - Excel Pivot Tables " I can cram so much information into lists, tables, and charts- and I love being able to tweak it all so that it looks nice too!"

"Smart Notebook" Apps

  • Blake - WorkFlowy "has changed my life. I have always been a 'list guy' and it make lists for everything. I just leave workflowy open all day and jot down notes and task to do. It really has helped me keep all my ideas in one place. I love it! Rebecca seconds that" EllenQ says "It's clear, intuitive, and most similar to the pen and paper method I was using, but with all of the advantages of digital. I'm using it in conjunction with the Pomodoro technique."
  • CamMi suggests - Evernote: "I have it sync with my social network, RSS reader, email...i can save important notes anytime. It is the source for my twitter feed." Rachael uses it for "keeping track of goals, recipes, to do lists, and fun quotes!" Jennbizzle says she can "easily sync it between all my devices!" Hayley loves Evernote "especially for taking photos of written notes and scrawls and then filing them away to reduce clutter in my purse (and to make sure I can find them again!" Tom "definitely my go-to app for remembering everything!" Abby Butts says " It has everything I need for work, family, and home. I love that I can drop it into Evernote and find it when I need it later."
  • Lindsay Hunt also suggests the Clearly Chrome extension that "integrates with Evernote and makes it easy to save websites or blog posts you come across to Evernote."
  • Chelsey - OneNote is "an awesome tool for keeping research and all of my random ideas organized. It's available as an IPhone app and you can log into your account online so you can access your "notebook" from any computer."
  • MiriamCrystal - Scrapbook for Mac "it's a clipboard tool that allows you to store hundreds of snippets at once. Takes copying and pasting to a whole new level."
  • Raghav - Springpad - from their website: "save anything to Springpad from anywhere."
  • Renee - ColorNote "Every time I have an idea for a blog, I don't need to search for pen or paper and no worries about the only copy being on your phone since it syncs to your Google. So even if you change phones, you still have your lists."

Travel

  • TripIt - I don't know how I left this off my last list! Essential travel app for managing upcoming trips all in one place. If you use gmail, it will automatically pull hotel and flight itineraries from your inbox into TripIt. Also tracks your travel stats -- so far this year I'm up to 14 trips across 8 countries, 27 cities and 62,000 miles. Crazy!
  • HotelTonight - an awesome up-and-comer app that The Man and I tested while traveling (thanks to Chelsea Rustrum for the suggestion!) -- it allows you to check unused hotel inventory from 12pm on the day you want to stay. Super fun way for fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants'ers to get an awesome hotel reservation at bargain prices in just a few easy clicks - from the convenience of your phone.
  • Jennifer Howard - Saving Grace: a "packing app so I know I'm not missing anything when I travel (can you tell I like to track things and make lists?)."

Communication and Calendar Tools

  • From Inc. Magazine's "Say Goodbye to Your Junk Email" article - Unroll.me - works with gmail, shows a list of ALL lists you are subscribed to and allows you to mass unsubscribe (yay!) and SaneBox - prioritizes email (sounds a lot like gmail's priority inbox).
  • Lezbehonest - The Email Game " it helps me get back to a manageable inbox."
  • Captio - an app that enables you to "email yourself with one quick tap."
  • Matthew - Gmail Labs Undo Send"One helpful setting in Gmail: under settings you can turn on the option to "undo send" and then set a time frame. Those first 20 seconds after I hit send I normally think of one final question, or remember that I wanted to attach 2 files and not just the one. So I can just hit "undo" and fix my omission."
  • Emily Outlook "I use categories obsessively so I can sort contacts by sales rep, services purchased, follow up schedule. I use the journals to track different types of interactions over time. And of course the follow up feature is great. I can sort my e-mail every which way but Sunday, and use message rules so I don't even have to manually do most of the sorting/flagging."
  • suki Rapportive  ...shows you everything about your contacts right inside your inbox "Super useful." James Ryan Moreau says "Rapportive is my favorite of all the plugins that I use. I love being able to connect an email address with a face and social media account."
  • Google Voice - being a total Google fangirl, I'm slapping myself on the wrist for not mentioning this last time too. If you switch over completely to a Google Voice phone number you can use all kinds of crazy features -- but if you're attached to your digits, have no fear -- it can still transcribe voicemails (often with great inaccurate hilarity) and send them to your email inbox.
  • Brittany - Google Calendar "I love that it emails you reminders when an appointment is coming up. It works especially for me when I have writing deadlines." Carl says both Google Calendar & Google Docs "have become a huge part of keeping me organized and on track. These tools help me to plan, organize, connect with people, and so much more. I would definitely miss them if they were gone.
  • Joy - iCal... keep track of your schedules, appointments, birthdays, reminders, and other important events.
  • Pam - Doodle "for organizing people's schedules that I can't see (via scheduling on Outlook, etc). It makes it much easier to find a common time everyone can do something instead of e-mail back and forth on potential dates."
  • Lauren Rutlin - gChat "while it has the reputation of being a distraction for socializing during work, it has been a lifesaver for me in terms of collaborations. I would never be able to touch base with those in other time zones and with wildly varied schedules without it. Nothing is as easy as checking in for a few minutes when you're already checking your email."

Photos, Docs & Videos

  • Ali - Dropbox - "Don't know what I'd do without Dropbox! And Carl says "Rather than have to search through email attachments and files on my computer, it's so simple to just upload and download them from organized folders on Dropbox." Stacy says "It's such a quick and easy way to share pretty much any kind of file between computers and other devices."
  • Rachel and Taylor - Picasa and Instagram for photo editing. Emmy suggests the Instagram App because "it allows me to take creative photos" and the Twitter App "I can keep everyone back home updated on how I am doing and what I am doing and vice versa."
  • Steph Diaz - Scrivener - "Best application to write long papers on and you can organize every section of the paper on it too!"
  • Emily Smith says Google Apps for Education "literally revolutionized my pre-k student assessment efficiency and productivity"

Keeping Online Reading Organized

  • AN - InstapaperTrezlen - iGoogle "organizes my RSSs, gmail, news and calendar in one place"
  • Seatn - Read Later ...allows you to mark a link to read later, and close the tab.
  • Pulse - great for tablet devices, organizes a variety of websites into a magazine-like format. I tend to prefer Google Reader for keeping up with blogs, but this is nice if you want to browse casually across a variety of subjects.
  • Melissa - Calibre - "An absolute MUST for anyone who uses an ereading device. It allows you to store all of your books in one place and easy-connect them to your device. I am a long-time ebook reader (since 2004), so the number of books to keep track of is just insane without Calibre. Couldn't live without it!"
  • Chitownchica - Pocket "I can clean out emails and read everything that needs reading when I have time to sit down."

Productivity Timers, Procrastination Busters and Break Encouragers

  • Briana - Pomodoro Technique ...a way to get the most out of time management. "I'd never accomplish anything without it!"
  • BellaRenee - MyTomatoes.com - "I'm a huge fan of MyTomatoes.com - it's a productivity timer based on the pomodoro technique. Basically, the idea is your brain works best in 25 minute intervals with five minute breaks, so it's a web-based timer for exactly that. After each 25 minute interval, you can jot down what you got done in that work period. It's amazing how productive you can be!"
  • Alex Marcy  - Hover Zoom extension: "It makes it feel less terrible when I am procrastinating on reddit and I don't have to actually click all of the links.
  • Connie Liao - Stay Focused extension "to remain on task."
  • Tamara Epps - Workrave: "I spend a lot of my day on my computer and it reminds me to take breaks from staring at the screen."

Managing Projects

  • Cat Trello - from their website: "Your entire project in a single glance." Sean says "if you're managing a small team of people I've found Trello to be the absolute best free tool for collaboration."
  • Jana - Asana and SmartSheet "Love those!" ...task management for teams. Manage projects and collaborate online. Amanda Leighty says "Asana is more of task-management system.
  • Jennie Blake (great name!) suggests FreeMind: "A mind-mapping program. I've just switched it up and downloaded "Freeplane" as well to compare the two--but the ability to draw connections between projects, goals, and events really keeps me focused!"
  • Don Harper - GitHub... ideal for the collaborative development of software.
  • Sean - Trello - "If you're managing a small team of people I've found Trello to be the absolute best free tool for collaboration. I actually found it to be even more useful than other paid solutions like Basecamp." Meghan L. is looking forward to their related project, "Super excited for the app evr.st to come out. It's a way to track your goals and dreams."

Business Owners & Webmasters

  • Much like OutrightFreshBooks helps small business-owners "invoice, track time and manage expenses on the go."
  • Derek - Unbounce, unbounce, unbounce. "Invaluable landing page tool to mock up pages/mini sites in minutes instead of days and without any coding."
  • Adam suggests Squarespace for creating gorgeous websites in a flash, as well as Behance's awesome WYSIWYG portfolio builder, ProSite. (SeedProd's Coming Soon Pro is a great WordPress Plug-in if you just need to quickly prop something up; includes MailChimp and AWeber integration to capture email addresses).

Social Networking

  • MarkMario - TweetLanes "one of the best android twitter apps."
  • Elan - Buffer "For personal Tweeting and FBing, it is a lifesaver."...schedules updates across multiple platforms, automatically paces updates throughout the day. Check-out the related app, Timely, which also allows you to schedule tweets.
  • Sean - Smartr "import contacts from Facebook, Google +, etc. to your phone."
  • Kristen - IFTTT "automate some of my Internet-related processes. Bonus: it almost feels like I'm learning basic programming when I create a 'recipe'!"
  • Becky L - Hootsuite "It's so advantageous to be able to schedule twitter and Facebook when I'm out of the office, but when people are on their social media the most." Stephanie Halligan says "It's allowed me to manage my social media outputs from afar and helps keep me from browsing and stalking folks on Facebook and Twitter for hours. Type your message, schedule to all your accounts, close window. Simple." Jess Green says "I'm especially loving their new Hootlet browser extension, it makes it so easy to share articles I come across!"

Money Management

  • Diana Clark - Slice... the simplest ways to track your orders, save money and manage your purchase receipts. "An app that's fantastic if you do a lot of online shopping."
  • Chelsey - Mint "great for seeing how much money I really spend on coffee :)" Jess says "instead of logging into several accounts, I can just log into one! Also it sends me reminders on when bills are due." Alternatively, Doube A says Quicken "helps me keep my finances in check!"
  • Becky L  also recommends CreditKarma - "For personal use I LOVE mint.com and creditkarma.com. I've been going through a makeover of my finances and these two sites are irreplaceable. I also love a good excel spreadsheet and I'm still one of those people who uses a paper planner."

Recipes and Grocery Lists

  • Jennifer Howard - Shopper "for staying on top of my shopping lists and always having them when I need them."
  • SR - Yummly - "I also like to keep productive in the kitchen. It's tricky to cook for one and for that I like to use Yummly.com so I can find recipes based on the ingredients I have in the house. That ways, Im not overbuying groceries, and not wasting food/money. Productivity of another kind indeed!"
  • Brooke - My Recipe Box for iPad: "It's a great way to store all my recipes in one place instead of having the written on scrap paper."

Efficiency, Extensions and other Random-but-Cool Apps

  • Jana Quicksilver (for Mac) - from their site: "Perform common, every-day tasks rapidly and without thought."
  • Miriam - TextExpander "saves you from having to type the same thing over and over again. Just specify a keyboard shortcut."
  • SwiftKey3 - "Type faster and smarter" with a smart-phone typing assistant that learns about you the more you type.
  • Stefanie - Pin It (Google Chrome) "so easy to use, all I have to do is right click and hit the pin it button, and boom! it's on my Pinterest! It's awesome!"
  • liveintensely - Get Human - "For all of us busy people who just don't have the time to wait on the phone for customer support or work our way through the maze of support robots to get to a real person - gethuman.com is there. You simply pick the business you are trying to get in contact with, enter your phone number, and get human calls you when they've connected to a representative. (I got in contact with a real person at the LA DMV - true story)"
  • Jennifer  and Jeremy Orr swear by MapMyRun. Jeremy says, "I know it's not a productivity tool, but planning, scheduling, and mapping my runs keeps me productive, motivated, and on task in other areas of my life."

Password Managers

  • Rachel - RoboForm - password manager.
  • Jon - Keeper "stores all my passwords plus has cloud backup. Its a great piece of software if you are always forgetting passwords and account logins like me!"
  • JR Johnstone - LastPass: "I could not live without lastpass. It makes it so much easier for me to generate passwords and remember all of the different logins that I have."

. . . And Peace of Mind

  • Julie says Simply Being  is "a lovely meditation app; I find if I meditate a little, then I'm actually more productive."
  • Amanda Leighty - Bloom is "also an amazing app. It's more for personal goals and setting reminders for things that are important for you and a better life balance."
  • Wayk App - "a revolutionary new alarm clock" -- check out their site for the full list of features . . . everything from a "softer" wake-up to a daily agenda at your fingertips.

And we'll end on a great suggestion from Joyheart, who says "Best productivity tool ---> getting enough sleep." :)

Although list is pretty comprehensive . . . I know it will never be complete. If we missed any of your favorites, please share in the comments for future visitors to this post! 

Guest Post: How to Find your Perfect Work + The Work Revolution Book Giveaway

Before we jump in, thank you all for the AWESOME list of 100+ tech tools and counting!! You still have two days to enter to win the HP Envy 4 Laptop giveaway, so share your best tip or tool by Friday, and I'll choose a winner early next week. I'm also giving away THREE (count them, three!) of The Work Revolution, the must-read book featured in today's post, by my roommate and bestie Julie Clow.

The personal scoop on today's post

The Work Revolution BookJulie and I have been friends for almost six years now after first meeting by sharing a cube at Google during her first few months on the job, and both of us made the big leap out to New York at this exact time last year.

I had front-row seats for every step of Julie's book-publishing process (and her for mine), from writing her proposal to getting a book deal through the back-channels at Wiley (and only then landing an agent to close the deal), to the tireless and seemingly non-stop task of bringing the book to life through speaking and social media, aided at every step by the help of fabulous people like Sarah Bloomfield (on writing and research) and Shannyn Allen (on promotion).

Julie has always been an advocate (and often a lone ranger in the blog world) for the notion that you don't have to quit to love your job, and her book beautifully articulates how we can all create a thriving work environment, no matter your state of employment.

The Work Revolution came out in April, and I'm thrilled to hand Julie the floor today to share her brilliant ideas and the book's key concepts, all of which are highly applicable regardless of whether you're an employee, manager or your own boss.

But first . . . a few words from today's sponsor (okay, just me) in this 3-minute video:

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How to Find Your Perfect Work -- by Julie Clow

I love my job and where I work. I am lucky -- most people don't.

Most people show up feeling like a cog in the machine, churning out work from 9:00 in the morning until 6:00 at night (or worse, far later), with hopes of one day receiving a promotion, a pay increase for acknowledgement of a job well done, or enough money saved to retire.

Sadly, many people live their lives with a sense that something (big) is missing without any idea about what that might be.

Some courageous individuals reject this existence by leaving their corporate jobs, and many do so successfully. But not everyone should feel like opting out of the corporate world is the only answer.

I wrote the book The Work Revolution: Freedom and Excellence for All to question the assumptions behind our management practices. It's about changing the world of work to free individuals to solve problems for the company. It's about ditching the rules that creative oppressive work environments and replacing the rules with guiding principles that give people more autonomy and joy in what they do.

Regardless of the choice you make about whether to brave the entrepreneurial world or to make the most of the corporate world, it is fully in your control to find your perfect work, perfectly suited to your passions and strengths.

The five principles below can guide anyone anywhere to search for work that feels more like play, whether within the cubicle walls or out in the wild.

1. Impact, not Activities

Don't think about what you want to be or what you want to do, think about the kind of impact you want to create and for whom!

2. The Right Things, not Everything

Once you choose a direction for your career, you will be overwhelmed with advice about what major to choose, what degrees to get, what internships you should seek, and what experience is "critical" for landing the perfect job.

We get a lot of pressure coming from many directions to do "everything" according to script.

The script said that I should go to the best college I could get in to, and that Google doesn't hire anyone from less-than-top-tier universities. Well, I went off script. I attended the University of Mobile (yes, that's in Alabama, renowned for its world-class education - ha!), but did so on a full scholarship (important to me as I had a two-year old daughter). Sure, it wasn't the most challenging school, but I made the most of it and earned a 4.0 and top honors in my class. And Google hired me.

3. Energy, not Schedules

Follow the energy of the work that excites you, and throw away any time table or schedule that suggests when you "should" hit various milestones in your career.

For example, a career myth I recently heard from recent graduates is to be in a role or company for two years, and then move on, presumably to get varied experience and to not get "stuck" in any role. From my perspective, you can hardly get acquainted with a new role in just one year, so that means you'd only be creating impact for one of those two years! I say ditch any role that's not working for you, even if it's after two weeks. Or conversely, stick to a role or company as long as you are growing, you can find challenges, and you love what you are doing, even if that's 20 years. Let your choices by guided by the energy you get from your work.

4. Strengths, not Job Slots

You might be hired into a narrow job role, but you should think about how you can use your strengths in that role to expand beyond it.

Jim Collins recently delivered the keynote at the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) International Conference, and he spoke about "personal hedgehogs" (any fans of Good to Great will recognize the concept). He translated the organizational-centric notion to something that applies to individuals; it is the intersection of:

    • the things you are passionate about
    • the things you are "genetically coded" to do (i.e., the things that come so easy to you, but seem difficult to everyone else)
    • the things that add value or are valued by society

The convergence of these three things point to your marketable strengths and should serve as your guiding light for how you frame your value to your organization or in your business.

5. Grassroots, not Top-Down

Don't wait for permission or invitation to do the things you are passionate about.

If you see an opportunity to improve your organization, don't just make the suggestion, implement the solution. When you find work that excites you, find ways to do more of it. If you have an idea for a new business or product, test it out quickly and see if it works.

If you learn to be a leader without explicit authority, people will inevitably recognize you as such, and greater opportunities will follow. But if you wait for someone on high to grant you the opportunity to do more, you just might be waiting forever.

These five principles will mean different things to different people, which is why they are simply principles. For each one, think about how it applies to your situation and how you might change one little thing to create more perfect work for yourself. And while the quest to define our personal mission and then deliver on it is a lifetime journey, the journey itself can (and should!) be joyful.

How to Enter to Win a Copy of The Work Revolution

We're giving away three copies of Julie's book today, and you can enter to win by answering the question prompt in the comments below. Leave your reply by Sunday, September 9 at 5pm ET, and we'll announce the winners on the blog next week!

Which of the 5 principles above would make the biggest impact on your overall satisfaction and/or effectiveness at work? What is one action you will commit to taking in the next week?

More About Julie Clow

Julie Clow, author of The Work RevolutionAll my life, I loved learning and school, so I followed an academic path and earned my Ph.D. in behavior analysis in 2000. I spent the first eight years of my career dutifully working in traditional corporate environments developing training programs and implementing organizational initiatives for various clients. Then, I joined Google in 2006 and everything changed. During my initial transition to Google, I felt the magic of freedom and autonomy at work, which inspired me to ask: if Google can create this environment, why can't everyone else? Thus, The Work Revolution was born.

I spent five years at Google focusing on team effectiveness, leadership, and organizational culture, primarily for engineers. I currently serve as the head of learning and development for an awesome, nontraditional mid-size investment management company in New York, NY, also chockful of software engineers and research scientists.You can frequently find me speaking at industry events and conferences. Connect with me on Twitter at @clowjul.

10 Tech Tools I Can't Live Without + HP Laptop Giveaway!

Update: be sure to check-out the follow-up post to this one: 90+ Tech Tools to Help You Manage Your Life. We've officially entered the lull of summer...or at least in the blogosphere. Check out Jonathan Fields' list of 10 Things to Do When Your Audience Goes on Vacation (even if you're not a blogger) for some fun ways to pass the time :)

I just wrapped up a 6-day road trip from St. Louis to Southern CA -- it's a beautiful way to see the country and I'll be sharing a few more yoga pictures on the blog soon! Next up is a family vacation to Mexico for a little unplugged fun-in-the-sun before returning to my love, the big ol' apple.

Today I'm excited because I'm sharing my must-have tech tools (How I Stay Organized is still one of my all-time most popular posts) AND I get to give away a laptop to one of you as a thank you for being such an incredible community!

I was hesitant when HP first approached me since I try not to do anything too advertise-y on this blog, but after a little hemming and hawing I realized I would be silly not to say yes. I am grateful for the opportunity to get one of you set-up with a new laptop, and rather than just having a random "I want one!" list of comments, I'd love to start a conversation around tech and productivity tools that will be beneficial for all of us. I'm sharing some of my favorites to kick things off, and watch the video below for more details on how to enter!

10 Tech Tools I Can't Live Without

  1. Google Calendar - an absolute must for staying on top of your schedule. A few tips: for important events set an email reminder, for recurring events (like scheduling yoga classes) use a different color, and for sharing an event with others, check "Guests can: modify events" on the right-hand side of the edit window for that event. You can also share your entire calendar with others by editing the calendar settings.
  2. Tungle.me - "scheduling made easy" - eliminates email back and forth by allowing others to see available windows that you set in advance (automatically syncs with Google Calendar to block off busy times). Additional tip: meetings tend to spill into all available hours the same way emails do -- use Tungle to select 1-2 blocks of times for calls and stick to them unless there's a special exception. You can also use Google Calendar's appointment scheduling feature for this purpose.
  3. TeuxDeux.com - simple online "week at a glance" to-do list -- great for mapping out a busy week and checking off tasks by day. You can also move tasks around from day-to-day, which is helpful. I use Todoist.com for more project-based task tracking.
  4. Mint.com - a long-time favorite for tracking personal finances (the Weekly Summary emails and spending trend pie-charts are my favorite features). Bonus: check out the Life After College Roadmap poster we put together earlier this year - you can also buy a copy for a recent grad in your life.
  5. Outright - tracks business expenses by importing from all of your accounts (including PayPal and Google Wallet) just like Mint . . . and it's free!
  6. Evernote - awesome for syncing notes, ideas and links across all devices (tablet, phone, computer, etc). I like this better than Google docs for instant editing for shorter ideas/notes, then Google Docs for full development.
  7. Google Docs (now referred to as Drive) - a must-use for collaboration and all document creation as far as I'm concerned! I use Google Docs for absolutely everything -- ideas, brainstorming, project planning, etc. Sign-up for the Inside Scoop newsletter to get access to my full library of 25+ templates to help organize your life.
  8. Gmail's Priority Inbox feature - use this in conjunction with Gmail's superstars feature, with different stars denoting different types of email and priority. For example: I use a yellow star for important emails that I want to get to that day or week, exclamation emails to mark highly important, time sensitive or overdue for a reply, then I use the blue stars for emails that involve scheduling.
  9. Boomerang for Gmail - can delay send on outgoing emails or set emails to leave your inbox and come back at a future date. This feature is great for following-up with people, or getting a long-term email to do out of your way.
  10. Rapportive for Gmail - social spying at it's finest! Shows someone's latest updates on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to the righthand side of a message they've sent. Also helps you make sure you're connected with the people you want to be, and shows a photo of the person you are corresponding with (helpful if you've never met them in person).

The Dirt: About the HP Envy 4

For those of you who want to learn more about the goods before you throw your hat into the ring, here are some feature descriptions from the promotional materials:

The HP Envy 4 Ultrabook is thin and light, with up to 8.2 hours of battery life and a soft-touch base that makes it easy to grab and go.

  • Beats Audio™:Designed to deliver the best sounding, richest audio available on a PC with extra amplification possible through a built-in subwoofer.
  • HP TrueVision HD Webcam: Always look your best, even in low light.
  • Speaking of low light – the ENVY’s backlit keyboard means you can keep working and playing in dimly lit rooms or red-eye flights.

Unleash your creativity on a 500 GB hard drive that can hold 116,000 photos, 105,000 tracks or 210 HD movies. Tons of video memory let you experience incredible gaming and multimedia without slowing down. 

The HP ENVY Ultrabook™ is loaded with the ports, including HDMI , USB, RJ-45, and a headphone jack, encased in a sleek, .78 inches thin and under 4 lb design.

How to Enter

Tell us about one of your favorite productivity tools, apps or browser extensions in the comments by Friday, September 7. I will select a winner via Random.org and announce on the blog the following week, with a round-up of all your amazing tips!

I hope you all have a wonderful week ahead, and a fantastic Labor Day holiday for those of you in the states!

August Miscellaneum

First, thank you so much for the incredibly thoughtful, comforting comments on Wednesday's post. I'm definitely feeling lighter and clearer, while still being open to whatever wants to come in. It really is interesting how sometimes our lowest-feeling moments are the biggest catalysts for growth. And sometimes just letting things be messy (with patience and compassion), saying them out loud and getting support from others provides an incredible release. Thank you!

Now without further ado, our summer link round up :)

I know many of us are still in the dog-days of summer, but consider this a friendly reminder to whip-up my mom's famous soup recipe as it turns to Fall! I have been making a batch of soup EVERY WEEK for exactly one year now (eating it for most lunches and dinners each week), and I am still not sick of it. If you try it, definitely report-back in the comments!

Last August I also launched a 21-day Health Challenge which I'm revisiting again with my roommate and bestie Julie for added accountability. Here's the template if you want to track your own food and fitness challenge (click on the second tab to see the full template).  

Recent Interviews:

Articles I Love:

LAC Mentions, Articles + Advice from Around the Web:

Resources for Job-Seekers

Melissa Anzman's Stop Hating Your Job: How to Be Happy at Work Without Quitting "Stop being so unhappy at work... there is an easy solution available. Turn your misery into meaning. Find actionable steps to start enjoying your job without having to find a new one!"

Job Jenny's The Ridiculously Awesome Resume Kit "Craft kick ass resumes that will land you interviews. Not just so-so interviews -- GOOD interviews. Showcase the things you're best known for, most proud of, and will best position you for success."

Which MBA? Free Online Fair Someone from The Economist reached out to me about a big event they are hosting -- great for those of you considering an MBA! From their promotional materials: "On September 5-6, 2012, over 40 business schools from North America, Europe, Australia and Asia will be waiting to meet prospective candidates through an online, interactive virtual MBA fair. Visitors can chat with admissions officers one-on-one or in group chat rooms, join live webinars, and download school information." Reserve your free spot at the fair here.

That's it for now -- have a wonderful weekend everyone!

What To Do When You Feel Batshit Crazy

Oh wait! I have absolutely no idea.  I have an August link round-up post all ready to go for this morning. It's full of articles I've been reading and interviews I've been doing . . . and . . . and . . . how can I post that when there's a bigger truth clawing it's way out?

Yesterday I told The Man that sometimes I need to process things in private before I can share them in public. What a load of B.S. Sure it's true sometimes, but other times it's just me being a big chicken about blogging.

The truth is, I've been preeeettty much a hot mess for the last few days. For reasons beyond my comprehension. I've had a pit in my stomach and a cloud of anxiety and sadness hovering over my head since I woke up on Friday.

I have tried everything I can think of to make it go away, in approximate order (some steps have been repeated):

  • Crying
  • Yoga and Crossfit almost every day
  • Walking through the streets of New York
  • Talking to The Man
  • Journaling
  • Getting to work - coaching, emails, meetings, working on MSH for the new class
  • Dinner and coffee with friends
  • Talking on the phone with people I love
  • Crying
  • Staring in the mirror - wondering how to make the damn waterworks stop
  • Faking! It! Till! I! Make! It! DAMNIT!
  • Cooking dinner at home with Julie (by cooking, I mean providing moral support)
  • Watching Sex and the City in bed
  • Buying self-help books on Kindle then berating myself for using them as an emotional crutch
  • Feeling exhausted by my inner critic: the Personal Development Police's desire to constantly troubleshoot and fix me like a robot, ensuring everything out of my mouth is completely logical, attractive, and adheres to all self-help clichés
  • Bursting into tears on the phone out of nowhere during an otherwise "normal" conversation yesterday. Followed by . . .
  • Snot-nosed crying to friends and to myself about feeling like such a mess. Followed by . . .
  • A hot shower. Followed by . . .
  • Skipping yoga in lieu of eating Ben and Jerry's Frozen Yogurt ice cream under a blanket while watching Bachelor Pad on the couch.

Oh yeah, you heard me. BACHELOR PAD. Yes, it has come to this. When all else fails, delight in the batshit crazy of others.

And then I realized, for the umpteenth time, reminded by friends and The Man, that I cannot MAKE this go away.We can't ever just MAKE our feelings go away. Stuffing them down is simply a recipe for a volcanic eruption of emotion that will blindside you when you least expect it. Hello, yesterday afternoon! 

This is about all I know right now:

  • I have been feeling anxious. I can't explain it.
  • I feel vulnerable.
  • I even feel....gasp....a little needy for a little extra love and kindness. And I hate feeling needy.
  • So by hating it, I am judging myself about those fears and feelings.
  • I am judging myself for not having it more together right in this moment. For not being stronger. More trusting. For not being in that relaxed, easeful place that I've been in the last few months (and loving).
  • I feel shame and embarrassment about all the crying and anxiety.
  • I feel worried that you will judge me.
  • I feel apologetic for being upset when nothing "on paper" is actually wrong and I have so much to be thankful for.
  • I feel sorry for "imposing" this mood on others, for burdening them with my seemingly-silly problems. Inner critic enters stage left: Careful! It could be contagious! Or become a self-fulfilling prophecy of hurt and rejection! 
  • I feel frustrated that none of my self-soothing fixes seem to be working. But writing this post and saying it out loud IS helping (albeit terrifying in it's own right).
  • I feel scared to just sit in the discomfort, even though I know that's really what I need to do.
  • I feel like this could all go away tomorrow (or today!), and that maybe I'll feel dumb for sharing it all so publicly.

And yet, part of me knows, that there is something beautiful and worthwhile here. That, as my friend Sally reminded me, nothing is broken. That in fact, the willingness to be vulnerable, open and honest (and even to fall apart) is a major ingredient for love, and for living a big, full life.

And that actually, I wouldn't have it any other way.

So, community that I respect and adore, I'm all ears -- any words of wisdom? How do you handle or sit with your feelings when they get totally overwhelming? 

And yes, the round-up post will go up soon. But at least you're getting the deep-down-and-dirty-emotional round-up first :)

I leave you with these wise words from Brené Brown (thank you Jules for the reminder!) that have been very comforting for me these last few days:

“Your capacity to be whole-hearted can never exceed your capacity to be broken-hearted.”

Made Sh*t Happen: How Devin Termini lost 85 Pounds and Changed His Life

I got a message this weekend that dropped my jaw to the floor. Longtime LAC reader and two-time Make Sh*t Happen alumni, Devin Termini, had triumphantly reached his goal of losing 85 pounds (!!!) in just ten months. Check out this amazing before-and-after photo:

Beast mode indeed!! As part of the course, I provide 50+ case studies of people doing amazing things -- big thanks to Devin for graciously agreeing to make his public! I hope you enjoy the interview below and following his journey as much as I have :)

Before we jump in: the Fall Make Sh*t Happen course is still open for enrollment until Sunday, August 5 (or until the 50 spots fill up). If Devin's story resonates and you've got a big idea of you're own that you'd love to activate, I would be thrilled to have you join us!

Interview with Devin Termini: How I Lost 85 Pounds in 10 Months

ABOUT: Describe your goal in more detail - what did it involve? What inspired you to go after it? During my time in Make Sh*t Happen I declared that I would lose 85 pounds in ten months. My milestone for the end of the MSH course was to lose 30 pounds in eight short weeks.

COURAGE: How did you build the courage to actually do it? How did you know it was time? A favorite nugget of Jenny Blake wisdom is that so much of confidence (and courage) is a choice. For so long I was waiting to be "ready" to take on this goal. I would tell myself that I'd lose weight when if "felt right."

For me, I had to make peace with the fact that there is no right time. It will never feel right. I had let myself go and there was no easy way to climb out of the hole I had dug for myself.

VALUES: Why was this goal important to you? What purpose did it serve? What underlying values did it honor? I've always known that achieving this goal would be the catalyst to a larger life change. I want to live vibrantly, loudly, and confidently. Most of all, I wanted to increase the amount of happiness and fun in my life. Unfortunately, none of these things are directly measurable in my opinion.

To make these changes I decided to work on an area of my life that I let get wildly out of control. My weight and overall health. I believe that different aspects of our selves, that are seemingly separate, are actually tightly connected. In my case by focusing on improving health and wellness my confidence and mood will improve.

I weighed a slovenly 275 pounds, and since I've already argued that pieces of ourselves are so tightly connected, I'll let you draw conclusions on my confidence levels, mood, and overall satisfaction with life. I was barely surviving, not thriving. Mild physical activity such as climbing stairs was exhausting. I felt weak and tired on days that ended in y. I knew that my diet and lifestyle were draining what little energy I had.

I recall averting my eyes when I'd catch my reflection in mirrors. Shopping for clothes was painful. To make matters worse, every now and again I'd have to upgrade to a larger size. To be honest, I didn't really care to be around people most of the time. Being around people typically breeds conversation, and conversation that challenged me wasn't something I wanted to hear. It was easier for me to go home and eat to make myself "happy."

I was stuck in a terrible cycle. It was time to change.

FEAR/DOUBTS: What were your biggest fears, doubts and insecurities before starting? What barriers (real or imagined) were in your way? I did have some anxieties when starting on this goal. What nutrition plan should I follow? What will I do if the diet doesn't work? What happens if I don't hit my milestone? Is my weight loss goal even realistic? Will I fit in at the gym?

Even though all these crazy thoughts raced through my head, one of the things that set me up for success was that I was more afraid of staying fat and unhappy than I was about any of my anxieties. This served as an incredible motivator for me.

As an added bonus, those little anxieties almost completely went away for me the moment I started to take action on the goal. Another Jenny Blake-ism -- action, no matter how small, can quiet an inner critic.

SUPPORT: Who held you accountable to your goal? Were friends and family supportive, or did they think you were crazy? Weeks before I committed to this goal I had recently relocated to Southern California to start a new job. This was both a definite advantage and disadvantage. I was almost entirely cut off from any existing support system but I also had a fresh start. I could form new habits and mingle with new people who shared similar goals. I told some old friends about my plan, and they thought my long term goal was a bit extreme, but they agreed that I needed a change.

I had the full support of Jenny, my triad, and the MSH family to help me achieve this goal. Every week I would report to the triad and wanted to share a win with them. Some weeks were better than others, but hearing their encouragement really helped me when I was just getting started.

Also a trainer at my gym took an interest in my journey and would check up on how I was progressing.

THE DIP: Was there ever a moment/period if time that you felt you had hit a dip (felt like a failure and/or wanted to quit)? I felt the dip hit me like a freight train right on cue about the same time that Jenny presented it in the MSH course. I had some significant initial weight loss, but that slowed down to a near halt within several weeks. I was doing everything "right" and it was a lot of work to keep my diet and exercise were in check. I felt like I was putting in so much effort and getting nowhere. I was sore, tired, and I wanted to stop.

Was the diet wrong? Too much food? Too little food? Was I exercising too little? Too much? A myriad of questions, doubts, and frustrations filled my mind.

Fortunately, all I needed was some fortitude and patience. Within another week or so things started clicking again. I began getting stronger and leaner.

SUCCESS! How did you feel after accomplishing your goal? What did you learn about yourself in the process? What are you most proud of? I accomplished this goal exactly as I said I would. I lost 85 pounds in exactly ten months. However, I didn't always think that I would finish. In the beginning I hoped to lose the weight. I thought if I picked a big enough goal and only got a quarter of the way there, then I would have accomplished something, right?

It was only at the END of MSH then that I realized that I could actually achieve this goal. It changed from being a hope and a dream to something real and tangible. I now had the skills and fortitude to see this through to the end. At the time I had lost twenty four pounds and recall thinking to myself "only sixty one more pounds, no problem." Holy f*cking shit, did I just believe in myself again? This felt so incredibly empowering and gave me exactly what I needed to see this through.

In my opinion, the most important resource we have is belief.

Completing this goal has been the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Accomplishing this allowed me to prove to myself how much power I truly have. If I can do this, I can do ANYTHING! I feel powerful, vibrant, present, and alive.

ADVICE: What advice would you give to future Make Sh*t Happeners? What would you say to those who are afraid to start or afraid to fail? What advice would you give to others in pursuit of a similar goal to yours? During my journey I kept a fairly detailed nutrition and exercise log. I had to make many adjustments to my routine in order to find what works and here's a few things I learned along the way. These are in order for a reason.

  1. Do not decide to lose weight, gain muscle, or improve performance. That will come later. Decide to change your life. As an active individual your entire life must be able to accommodate this new you. Make the appropriate changes to operate in this way. Get more sleep. Join a gym close to work or home. Buy tupperware and cook tomorrow's meals tonight. Spend the extra cash on good running shoes. Decide that today you are an athlete. Whether you're 50 or 500 pounds, you're an athlete. Want to look like an athlete? Act like one.
  2. You are what you eat. Literally. Within 7 years every cell in your body is replaced. Bones and all. From what sources does your body renew itself? Food. Lean meats, vegetables, nuts, seeds and some fruits should be the mainstay of your diet. People will argue with me here, but as long as your diet focuses on whole and nutrient-dense foods you'll be off to a great start.
  3. Less alcohol, more water. Don't drink calories. If you absolutely must drink alcohol, stick to spirits. Beer is the worst. Sugar, yeast, calories, gluten. No good.
  4. Dedicate yourself completely. Lots of people say "I've tried every diet and none of them work!" This is bullshit. All diets work. You just have to do them right and put in the effort. There are no shortcuts or any magic pills for weight loss.
  5. Measure yourself. If you're doing a diet and exercise program right you'll see measurable results in a few short days. DAYS! Buy a good scale and measuring tape to help you visualize your results when the scale stops moving. If you can get your body fat percentage measured, do.
  6. Exercise. This will account for about 20% of your results. If you aren't making the dietary and lifestyle changes no amount of exercise will make any significant changes. Find something that you truly enjoy and do it every day. Running, weight-lifting, baseball, crossfit, tennis, yoga, whatever. Work hard at it. Very damn hard. You will want to quit. You will sweat. You'll bleed. You'll cry. But you won't quit, right? Set new performance related goals here.
  7. Get back up. You will fall off the wagon. You'll miss workouts. You'll eat a piece of cake when you shouldn't have. Shake it off and keep working. It gets easier, I promise.

I'm not sure I could have done this alone. The MSH class and community gave me the encouragement and support I needed to get started with this goal. My life is truly changed. From my deepest self, thank you.

Now it's time to go make more sh*t happen.

***

Standing ovation

I am so incredibly proud of Devin and grateful that he was willing to share his story in such detail -- if it resonated with you, please let him know in the comments! 

MSH Enrollment

As I mentioned above, enrollment is open through Sunday. Read more about the program here or if it's already calling your name, grab a spot before the class fills up!

A few reminders: 

  • You'll receive 10 weeks of guided content: weekly videos, 5 live group Q&A calls with me, 100+ pages of reading material, reflection exercises, and group discussion prompts. You will also be assigned to a triad of three people to help you reflect on your progress and hold you accountable week-by-week.

  • There are 50 spots open, available on a first-come first-serve basis. I'm deliberately keeping the class small so that we can create a tight-knit, awesome community. The course starts on August 6 and will complete at the end of October. Enrollment ends on Sunday, August 5 or once the 50 spots are taken (whichever comes first).

  • Finally, as an MSH course participant, you'll receive lifetime access to the MSH Alumni group on Facebook, and will have the opportunity to audit the class for free during any future sessions.

  • I recently conducted an hour-long Make Sh*t Happen Crash Course Webinar -- even if you don’t take the full course, this recording will give you a feel for what we cover and to formula for how to bulldoze your barriers to go after your biggest dreams.

Onward!

Make Sh*t Happen: Fall Enrollment Now Open! + Free Crash Course Webinar Next Week

Jenny - 5-Minute Speech at WDS WDS Audience (click to enlarge)

WDS group of 13 who told stories (click to enlarge)

I completed a major sweaty-palms-heart-leaping-outta-my-chest life-checklist item this past weekend in Portland, Oregon: I was one of 13 WDS attendees chosen to share our story with the entire conference audience -- an auditorium of 1,000 people!

I wanted to make the most of my five minutes, so I treated it like a mini-keynote. Nicole and I spent our final moments backstage pacing, rehearsing to ourselves, reassuring each other, and saying "FEEEEL this!" as we placed our hands on each others' thumping hearts. I reminded her of my go-to public speaking tips: deep yoga breaths and clenched fists to give the adrenaline something to do.

I'm grateful and humbled to report that the speech delivered laughs and tears (and one impassioned f-bomb) -- a definite success! And a reminder to keep doing things that scare the sh*t outta us :)

Speaking of which . . .

Despite all of my soul-searching and MIA-ness of late, I've realized one very important thing during this past week as I got ready to open up the next round of the Make Sh*t Happen course:

Making Sh*t Happen is about doing things in an authentic way that resonates with the very core of you are -- not who society or anyone else wants you to be. You can either Make Sh*t Happen for your ego and for others -- as I did for many, many years -- or you can Make Sh*t Happen for YOU.

While it's true that I'm a little uncertain about the direction of my overall business beyond the Life After College "brand", I know that I've never felt more alive. I'm loving the process of figuring it out, one small step at a time.

The Make Sh*t Happen course is about taking a stand and pursuing the goal that whispers to you in quiet moments.

It is about pursuing that ONE thing you are tip-toeing around, that one thing that would most bring you alive to pursue -- for the very process itself. It’s about acknowledging your fears and moving forward not just in spite of them, but because of them. Because the bigger your fears, the bigger and more meaningful the growth opportunity.

On that note, I am thrilled to open the course doors for enrollment this week, with the next round of Make Sh*t Happen kicking off in August! I could not be more excited to walk this path right alongside those of you who are ready for it.

Save the Date: Free MSH Crash Course Webinar

If you read no further: note that I’m hosting a free Make Sh*t Happen “Crash Course” webinar on Tuesday, July 17 at 3:30pm ET for those of you who would like the CliffsNotes version of the 8-steps to Making Sh*t Happen and creating a snowball of success for any big undertaking. At the very end I will answer any questions you might have about the program or my business -- nothing is off limits!

Register here -- the webinar will be recorded if you can't make it (you'll need to enroll to receive the recording), though I'd love to hang with you live in the chat if you can swing it :)

MSH Enrollment: Course Basics

After running this course twice, I can undoubtedly say that it works if you're willing to put in the time and effort. Our 60+ alumni have started businesses, built blogs, gotten knee-deep in writing books, quit their jobs, and one even lost 60 pounds! Beyond all the surface-level stats, we've created an incredible community that loves, supports and encourages each other at every step.

  • You'll receive 10 weeks of guided content: weekly videos, 5 live group Q&A calls with me, 100+ pages of reading material, reflection exercises, and group discussion prompts. You will also be assigned to a triad of three people to help you reflect on your progress and hold you accountable week-by-week.
  • There are only 50 spots open, available on a first-come first-serve basis. I'm deliberately keeping the class small so that we can create a tight-knit, awesome community.
  • The course starts the first week of August and will complete in September. Enrollment ends on Sunday, July 29 or once the 50 spots are taken (whichever comes first).
  • The first 10 people to enroll will receive a private 30-minute 1:1 coaching session with me (this alone would normally cost $250). I am committed to your success, and know how powerful just one pivotal conversation can be!
  • Finally, as an MSH course participant, you'll recieve lifetime access to the MSH Alumni group on Facebook, and will have the opportunity to audit the class for free during any future sessions.

Read more about the program here or if it's already calling your name, grab a spot before the class fills up! You can also review the Frequently Asked Questions here

Not sure if the course is for you?

Check out what past participants had to say on the MSH website. From our most recent class, I was particularly touched by C.J's story -- perhaps you can relate:

"I used to ignore how much I wanted to be a writer and musician. I didn't even realize that hiding my passion, as though I was ashamed of it, would make me feel so inauthentic. And that translated to every situation even slightly outside my comfort zone where'd I feel inferior to the people around me.

It was hard to tell my goal to the group and even harder to stick it on the wall and make it visible. The first weeks helped me identify why my goal was important and what exactly I wanted it to look like. And it stopped feeling like a hobby. It's a difficult moment when you acknowledge a huge part of yourself that has been left tucked in a box in the back of the closet, and you have to forgive yourself for wasted years. 

My goal is particularly ambitious and I knew I wouldn't get it in 8 weeks. But even in the first week I started to feel lighter. I had people at work read my writing. I talked about songwriting...I welcomed that lost part of myself as the best part of who I am. Fast forward 8 weeks and I feel like the new model of myself. 

I didn't realize how inauthentic I felt about my life and who I was until I started to really embrace who I was and where I wanted to be. I have more confidence in unrelated situations like work, more alpha wolf than fleeing rabbit. I introduce myself as a writer first to strangers, something I'd never done and would have felt stupid doing. The course has done more than just give me tools for accomplishing my goal or being the backbone of support to get me closer. It helped me rediscover the magic about who I am. And celebrate my victories when my usual response would be to criticize the parts I missed. Taking action was a big part but I don't know how I would have made the mental shifts without the course. 

Being accountable to someone other than me was a big help. Checking off each activity and posting responses helped me see I was doing the work, but also that I wasn't alone in having a big goal and trying to achieve it. Reading how other people were doing and getting inspired by their accomplishments was a huge booster in motivating myself and seeing how other people drop kick the obstacles in their way. It was a lot easier for me to stumble in places because I knew I wasn't alone and I knew there were people around the world who had stumbled as well.

In just two months I feel like I've gone from being a little girl who didn't think anyone would listen to a woman who can say "I know what I'm talking about."  

—CJ, MSH Alumni - January 2012

I'm so proud of C.J.

It takes tremendous courage to take an honest look at where you might be holding yourself back and proceed anyway.

This course reminds me that we are all beautiful in our imperfection; that our fears are shared AND surmountable, that our support networks are there to hold us up when our light dims, and that our successes -- big and small -- are absolutely worth celebrating.

Finding Pillars of Certainty Amidst the Walls of the Unknown

One of my big fears around quitting my job (I gave notice this exact time last year) was the fear of boredom or burn-out. What if I tire of the very things that bring in money . . . then what? The paychecks won't keep rolling in if I suddenly just stop. doing. the. work. At the time, I remember reconciling that fear by saying, "So what? I probably WILL outgrow my business. In fact, surely that will happen, as it is a natural part of evolution. So I will cross that bridge when I get to it."

In a way, that bridge is here.

But it is showing up a little differently. It is not boredom, it is uncertainty (see Jonathan Fields' must-read book on this topic).

It's a big fat question mark around the topic of What's Next ←inter-capitalized followed by "dunh dunh dunnnnh" since this is one of the questions I get most often -- and maybe you too (especially if you're a recent grad or in any sort of career transition). 

The Man and I were talking this weekend about career change and relationships. Oftentimes we pin our hopes and dreams on one specific person or one dream company, and we Declare ClarityI am CLEAR! I know what I want! I want THIS job or THIS person . . . and we narrow our focus into a tiny dot on the map of our lives, oftentimes even becoming obsessed with it.

But as the popular saying goes, "The Universe doesn't give you want you want, it gives you what you need."

How many times have we lusted after The Hot Guy (or Girl) or The Hot Company, only to realize that what we actually need is completely different?

Perhaps what we really need is more depth, more opportunity, more flexibility, more meaning. Almost always, the new surprise is that which will best facilitate our own personal growth. Besides, that new job or person might be perfectly sexy in their own right! See Tara Gentile's related post on finding your passion today, The Danger of Searching for your One True Love

Expand your view

As my dad once wisely pointed out to me, by pinning our expectations -- our "clarity" -- on one fixed star in the sky, we miss the universe of opportunity that surrounds it. We miss the beauty of discovering what it is that we actually need.

For some reason (for which I am very grateful!), the "keeper" emails, tweetsbook reviews, and even coaching inquiries have really been rolling in since I returned from my trip.

I'm humbled and incredibly grateful . . . and curious.

I know without a doubt that my purpose is serve you (all of you -- not just twenty-somethings!) and yet I'm not sure exactly how to define it, beyond sitting in the middle of this uncertainty and telling you about it when I can find the words.

In a way, my fear of not knowing what's next for my business is here.

I'm finding it hard to commit to much of anything that isn't directly tied to what I love (like coaching and Make Sh*t Happen).

But you know what? I'm loving it. Most of the time, save for a few sporadic breakdowns here or there :)

Sure, sometimes sitting in the dusty pit of uncertainty sucks. But if you can be with your uncertainty from a place of feeling grounded in your most important guiding values and principles, you can keep the faith that it will all turn out okay.

Finding comfort in pillars of certainty

Even though I don't know exactly what the next year will bring in terms of my overall message, products, services, etc -- I know that I wouldn't change a damn thing.

I haven't regretted, even for a minute, my decision to quit my "dream job" at Google, as much as I love and greatly respect the company.

In the past year, I have built -- and am now standing within -- a few key pillars of certainty that are providing the space for me to sit with the questions and the unknown of this present moment.

Those pillars are my values and my highest ideals for my life and business: freedom and autonomy, flexibility and travel, meaning and growth, health (mind, body, spirit), fun and service.

Because I am clear on those pillars, the uncertainty within the walls is okay -- it's manageable, interesting, and even enjoyable as I'm starting to say no to anything that doesn't feel like "essential bliss."

How does this apply to other areas?

  • A job search: what are your must-haves for your next job? What principles must the company, location and responsibilities adhere to, even if you don't yet know the specifics of the role you want? You may even still end up with The Hot One, but hopefully with a greater sense of clarity on what it is you want and need -- not just because that's what what would generate the most external approval for your ego. Check out the Plan Your Next Career Move template to help articulate your thoughts in this area.
  • In a relationship: what are your must-haves for your significant other? What type of person would light you up and add to your life? What qualities of the relationship (e.g. honesty, trust, deep conversation, chemistry) must be present? Relationships are as complex as the people in them -- surely your partner will not be perfect. So what bigger pillars will make the bumps in the road, the slow reveal of their imperfections and those of the relationship, manageable and even catalysts for growth?
  • Overall values: Check-out the Wheel of Life and Wheel of Aliveness tempaltes to gain clarity on the environment, people and circumstances that bring the most joy, growth and fulfillment to your life.

One more thing: expect disappointment . . . and welcome it

So you broaden your view from one star to the entire constellation. You expand your search from THE HOT ONE to a range of potential jobs or mates that are best suited to your values and goals. Then what?

Expect to be disappointed.

Expect to get the job and have it not live up to your ideal. Expect your new job (or mate) to drudge up your insecurities, weaknesses, resistance, and self-doubt.

Expect to meet someone, start a relationship glittered with gold dust, and soon realize you are both flawed (shocker!) and that your relationship will ask you to walk right through the valley of your deepest fears.

On this subject, John Welwood, author of Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships, is my new guru -- again thanks to The Man for the heads up on Welwood's brilliant work - you can read some free articles here.

Before you write me off as a total curmudgeon:

I'm only saying this to help you -- all of us -- remember that hitting the dip, feeling that bubble burst a little bit -- is not only okay, it's not only perfectly normal, but that it is INHERENT TO THE GROWTH PROCESS.

So, when we reach disappointment in a new job, uncertainty at a crossroads in our career or business, divergent views within a relationship -- GOOD! Celebrate! That information is just as valid as the hopes and dreams that preceded it.

As my dad put it in response to Martha Beck's fantastic article, Enjoyment in the Waiting, "When your dreams get crushed - make dream wine! And get dream drunk and create some marvel from outta the wreckage."

While all-consuming disappointment would surely be a red flag, a taste of it is a sign that we're doing something right:

We're living, we're growing, and we're asking the big questions.

***

Life After College goes Korean

In exciting news, the first copies of the Random House Korea edition of my book arrived this week! Here's a picture of the interior….now if only I could read it :)

Life After College Book in Korean!

I'm back! And I don't know what to write...

Getting ready to teach a yoga class at Wild Rose in Chiang Mai

Say not, "I have found the truth," but rather, "I have found a truth." Say not, "I have found the path of the soul." Say rather, "I have met the soul walking upon my path." For the soul walks upon all paths. The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed. The soul unfolds itself like a lotus of countless petals.

—Kahlil Gibran

As many of you know, I spent the last month traveling in Southeast Asia. The first stop was Bali for a week and a half to hang out with Elisa in Seminyak and Ubud (my magical new soul city), traipse around temples with cheeky monkeys, and practically live at The Yoga Barn.

Next up was two and a half weeks in Chiang Mai, Thailand where I became certified in Thai Massage, had the great honor of teaching a yoga workshop at Wild Rose Yoga (owned by an amazing woman, Rosemary Bolivar), and ate enough mangoes to feed a small village.

The month was relaxing, powerful, healing, introspective, and yes, life changing.

Now, just shy of a week into my return home, I find myself at a loss for words.

I also find myself a bit reclusive. The first few days I was home I didn't tell any of my friends or Facebook comrades; I still haven't made any major announcement, and I'm hopelessly behind on email and social media.

In lieu of actually re-integrating into my "normal" life and work, I cleaned out and meticulously re-arranged every single surface and crevice of my apartment -- right down to color-organizing, neatly rolling and sorting every item my underwear drawer. COLOR. ORGANIZING. MY. UNDERWEAR. DRAWER. Hey, better than sitting in bed with a pint of Ben and Jerry's. (Or is it?!)

I feel a sense of (admittedly self-imposed) pressure to share something BIG and enlightening with all of you. Ten things I learned from a month abroad! Five mind-blowing insights about spirituality! I look at my Google Reader backlog of 750+ posts, and they are all offering something. What do I have to offer in this very moment?

Radical honesty.

During our 30-hour drive to SXSW earlier this year, my good friend Mike and I committed to living from a place of radical honesty this year -- at least to the best of our ability. It's tough, but damn does it feel better than hiding from or sugar-coating our truth.

So, my dear friends and blog readers, I am letting you know that I don't know what to write.

 Here's what I do know:

  • I'm exactly one year into solopreneurship. I am loving my life and my decision to quit and move to New York now more than ever . . . AND I am at a bit of an impasse with my business. I am head-over-heels in love with my coaching clients and the Make Sh*t Happen crew, but I don't know what my next big idea is, or if there even needs to be one for a while. I'm turning 29 in October of this year, then 30…and I'm not sure what the bigger umbrella over Life After College will be -- but I know there is one slowly peeking over the horizon. I am swinging between business trapeze bars . . . just trying to be quiet enough to get curious and hear what my gut has to say.
  • I have met an incredible man who has cracked my heart wide open, and who has been a constant source of inspiration since the day I met him. I don't know what it will become or how long he will be in my life (do we ever know these things?)…but I love what it already is. With him in the picture I've felt radiant, blissful joy; deep soulful connection; and tremendous growth through the challenge and possibility of relationship. Out of respect for him, and out of a desire to keep this delicate area of my life private, that's all I'd like to share for now. To The Man: thank you from the bottom of my heart. For everything. I am in your corner for as long as you'll have me there.
  • One of the most powerful moments of my trip was a numerology life reading that I had in Chiang Mai with Neil Beechwood, an incredibly intuitive, warm man (huge thanks to The Man for setting this up). Our session provided impeccable clarity; it gave me a map for my own self and put words to who I have always known that I am. It was comforting, enlightening, and deeply insightful, and I know that the session is already a pivotal milestone in my own lifelong personal development journey. For any of you looking for insight about your own personality, innate desires and big life picture (past and present), I cannot recommend a session with Neil highly enough. He lives in Chiang Mai but does sessions over Skype for £50.
  • I've been spending a lot of time with Khalil Gibran, Lao Tzu, and Sharon Salzberg's book Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness (again, credit to The Man for that one...can you see why he's completely stolen my heart?!). Now more than ever, I am practicing the idea of divine surrender;  letting the universe work her magic without trying to force her in any one direction. Getting quiet enough that I can allow life, decisions and ideas to unfold as they are ready, not a minute sooner. Staying present with what is in front of me TODAY, loving and accepting myself as I am TODAY, and trusting that I will receive the wisdom I need TODAY to prepare me for whatever tomorrow brings. Finally, I am working on constantly coming back to a place of humble gratitude for what ALREADY is.

Where are we headed from here?

At some point my own thoughts around all of these things will start settling and I will tell you more, or at least share as much as I can about my process.

I have a feeling that this phase of processing may last a while (confirmed by my numerology reading)….so bear with me if I go through periods of being more quiet and introspective than usual. After almost five years of blogging, it seems that is also probably par for the course :)

I'm definitely in high spirits, but right now the truth is . . .

I don't know what else to write.

A moment of reflection in Gusti Garden, Ubud

Guest Post: Why Successful People Are Crazy -- and You Should Be Too -- by Eric Lunsford

Uluwatu Temple - Bali Uluwatu Monkeys - Bali

Greetings from the road! The pictures above were taken at the Uluwatu Temple in Bali, a magical place filled with monkeys who will give you (and your stuff) the side-eye, waiting to pounce to steal what they can in exchange for peanuts that you buy in order to get it all back. Thankfully my phone stayed with me, and I could upload these pictures for you! Next travel stop: The Yoga Barn in Ubud, then Chiang Mai on Sunday. Quick shout-out to the amazing Adam for sending me off with a killer music playlist and list of places to see.  

Eric Lunsford HeadshotToday's post is from one of my rock-star coaching clients Eric Lunsford. Eric writes at his blog Coffee & Warm Showers where he has one goal: "to help others wake their true self up and transform into the person they’ve always wanted to be."

My travels in Bali have been amazing so far and it's only just the start - hanging out with people like Dan (founder of The Tropical MBA), Tommy (professional travel photographer) and Elisa (blogging BFF and TMBA goddess) are proof of exactly what Eric talks about below: that the best way to live life is bat-shit crazy, baby :)

Why Successful People Are Crazy and You Should Be Too (Plus: The 5 Best Times To Go Crazy) -- by Eric Lunsford

“When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.” –Mark Twain

It’s okay to be crazy. In fact, if you want to live the life you dream of, it’s required.

Take a minute to tap into your memory bank and think of a time when you were considered crazy for making a choice or taking action.

You may have been a child, you may have been a “naïve” teenager, hell, it may have been yesterday.

How did it feel? What was the result of you doing something that was viewed as “crazy” to others?

I’ve had my crazy moments.

Times where I’ve decided I’m going to make a big change to better my life. I was going to quit my cushy job and move without a real back-up plan. I was going to get rid of the majority of my “stuff.” I was going to jump out of an airplane at 12,000 feet.

I was a pre-determined failure in the eyes of my boss and even some family when I quit my job. I was looked at as a kook by my fiancé when I recommended we get rid of 98% of our stuff. I was told I was testing fate by my mom when I told her I would be skydiving (who, coincidentally BOUGHT those tickets to jump out of a plane. She gets my crazy. Thanks mom!)

But my life is better after making those decisions.

I’m one step closer to my dream life now.

I realized I didn’t need a secure job to make me happy or a bunch of crap around my house to fit in and experiences, by far, are the best things to spend your money on.

Crazy is different. Crazy makes a difference.

And that’s exactly why the people who truly succeed in life choose to be crazy. Those that don’t take chances are stuck. Stuck in a life they don’t enjoy – waiting for the day their dreams magically come true.

Not. Going. To. Happen.

Not without crazy choices at least.

Take a minute to think:

  • If Ben Franklin didn’t have the “crazy” idea for Night Riders to deliver mail between colonies at night, the mail system we have now may not exist. In fact, the entire fate of the American Revolution may have been different.
  • If Richard Branson didn’t make the “crazy” choice to sign the (at the time) unwanted band the Sex Pistols, he may have never grown to the position he is at now with over 400 Virgin companies affecting the entire globe in more industries than you can count.
  • If Yvon Chouinard didn’t go on the “crazy” 6 month trip to Patagonia his friend recommended, we likely would not have the brand Patagonia or any of the environmental initiatives we have today created by him and his employees.

But don’t get overwhelmed or frustrated by these more famous successes.

Anyone can be crazy.

Anyone can make decisions that are so crazy it affects their lives in the most positive way.

  • Jenny quit her job at Google to move toward a life full of spontaneity, travel, independence and freedom. And she’s helping others do the same along the way (me included -- thanks again Jenny!).
  • Adam Baker and his wife got rid of over $18,000 of debt, sold everything but two backpacks and moved to Australia with no set plans. Oh yeah, with their 1 year old daughter! Now he’s making a living doing exactly what he loves.
  • Steve Kamb has combined fitness and…wait for it…nerds! Steve is a self-proclaimed nerd who is obsessed with fitness. He’s making “crazy” decisions almost daily including traveling the world, trying unheard of workouts, and inspiring people to do the same in some of the most unique ways.
  • Therese Schwenkler just recently made the “crazy” decision to quit her job and travel around the U.S. indefinitely. What I like most about her is her posts bring her “crazy” personality to life and inspire her readers to “go for it” just as she’s done.

So you see, in order to be successful, you must be crazy.

Here are the 5 best times to be crazy:

  1. Immediately after waking up – It’s early in the morning when your mind is the clearest. You have the most optimism at this time as well. Clarity + optimism = a perfect time to make a crazy decision. As an added bonus, it’s much easier to continue something when you start first thing in the morning before you let the everyday hustle and bustle bog you down.
  2. After being inspired – I’m sure you’ve had that moment. You watch an awesome documentary or read an inspiring book. You feel a fire inside you. You want to get out there and do something big! Capitalize on the inspiration and let the craziness begin right away!
  3. After “damaging” news – I use “damaging” because often things that happen to us unexpectedly are initially viewed as negative. However, there’s always a silver lining. Maybe you were just laid off from your job of 15 years. Well, now seems like the perfect time for you to take that severance, new found free-time and create something big!
  4. The status quo just isn’t good enough – This is one of the things I love to do most. Question why we do what we do. If you don’t like something or don’t understand why you do it, make a radical change. Ask questions, push the boundaries, and raise the bar.
  5. When you’ve got support – There’s nothing better than a crazy idea that at least one other person agrees with. For example, just the other night I told my buddy that I was planning on building a tiny home and traveling around the country for at least a year, snowboarding and surfing every chance I got. I asked if he wanted to come along and he lost it. As we talked about it, I was running around the house in excitement while he was texting, “I feel alive!!!” A crazy idea gets even crazier when someone else believes in it too.

We all have dreams. It’s just the crazy ones who see them come alive.

We'd love to hear in the comments:  What can you do to honor your crazy?

***

Video: Here's to the Crazy Ones

Note from Jenny: On the subject of embracing your crazy, here is one of my all-time favorite videos from Apple.

[youtube id="dX9GTUMh490"]

"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify and vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as crazy, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."

Update: This Just in! 8 Free Kindle Books from Scott Ginsberg

Right after I hit publish on this post, I got a (totally unrelated) rebel-rousing email from my friend Scott Ginsberg, who is known as "The Nametag Guy" -- he has been wearing one for 4,205 days and even has one tattooed on his chest! I'm sharing it with all of you since Scott is a brilliant, well-known author -- and this is an awesome ballsy move on his part. From Scott:

Help me prove that thinkers don't need permission to do so. Help me show which of the mainstream hoops aren’t worth jumping through. Help me lead the charge to risk our faces and step across the lines of artistic safety. Help me reject the invisible jury who no longer needs to stamp our creative passport. Help me make a global statement about the state of the mainstream publishing industry. Help me end the shipping of easy, predictable safe work that appeases our corporate masters.

Tomorrow, I am releasing eight new books on Kindle. All digital. All daily devotionals. And the best part is, all books are $0.00 for the first five days, then $0.99 after that. Grab them here.

Guest Post: Happiness. No Stuff Required. By Bryan Cohen

Note from Jenny: I'm excited to host Bryan Cohen on one of his 61 stops in 61 days (!!) for The Happiness Blog Tour to promotie his new book The Post-College Guide to Happiness. He's giving away free digital review copies of the book and doing a giveaway for paperback copies, audio copies and even a Kindle Fire! Read on and check out the info below the post. Happiness. No Stuff Required. -- By Bryan Cohen

"Happiness is an attitude of mind born of the simple determination to be happy under all outward circumstances." −J. Donald Walters

When I left college, I was completely spent emotionally. After being caught up in something of a love triangle throughout the second half of my senior year, mixed heavily with a dose of senioritis and no idea what I wanted to do with my life, I felt a lot more stressed than I did happy. I thought that by changing my circumstances, I would immediately be happier.

After first living in the suburbs, I moved deep into the heart of Chicago. I changed up my job from temp work to tending bar at a coffee shop. I even took a trip to France to visit one corner of that triangle. After spending thousands of dollars trying to change my situation and to improve my happiness, what did I learn?

I learned that hunting for happiness on the outside is futile.

A ton of people after school want to give a city a try, perhaps for a couple of years before giving it up. They say that the city didn't make them happy. Maybe they try out a career, but it didn't give them the joy they wanted. These college grads may even put all of their energy into a partner, eventually realizing that the relationship on its own didn't make them happier at all.

Circumstances can only create temporary happiness.

A famous study I read about compared the happiness levels of those who won the lottery and those who had just become paralyzed. After about a year, the joy and the pain they'd respectively experienced had changed back to their original levels just before the incident had occurred. Could a newfound millionaire be unhappy? Could a paraplegic be joyful? Of course. The circumstances only changed them slightly. What remained consistent was their attitudes.

If you want to be happier you don't need to make a change. You need to make a choice. You need to decide that you're going to try to be happy even when things aren't going your way. You have to decide that no matter what happens, you're going to make the effort to be an optimist.

Through this effort, you'll find something out about yourself. You'll find that the possibility of happiness was always there, you just needed to stop believing that buying new clothes or finding a different apartment would make a difference.

Make the choice to be happy regardless of what's happening to you. Keep walking toward the goal of happiness for it's own sake. And if you aren't happy yet, here's my big suggestion: start heading in that direction anyway, but it's best to whistle while you walk.

***

How to Win a Copy of The Post-College Guide to Happiness + More About Bryan

Bryan is giving away 61 paperback and audio copies of The Post-College Guide to Happiness and a Kindle Fire between now and May 7th, 2012 on The Happiness Blog Tour. All entrants receive a free digital review copy of The Post-College Guide to Happiness for all entrants to the giveaway. Bryan hopes to give away at least 1,000 copies during the blog tour. To enter, post a comment with your e-mail address or send an e-mail to postcollegehappiness (at) gmail.com. Bryan will draw the names at the end of the tour. Entries will be counted through Sunday, May 6th.

Bryan Cohen is a writer, actor and comedian from Dresher, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005 with degrees in English and Dramatic Art and a minor in Creative Writing. He has written nine books including 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More, 500 Writing Prompts for Kids: First Grade through Fifth Grade and Writer on the Side: How to Write Your Book Around Your 9 to 5 Job. His website Build Creative Writing Ideas helps over 25,000 visitors a month to push past writer's block and stay motivated.

 

$100 Start-up Only72 Sale Starts Today! $1,000 Business Products for $100

Happy Monday everyone! I'm running around like a mad-woman today getting ready to leave for Bali & Thailand (eee!) but wanted to let you all know that the latest greatest Only72 sale starts today at 12pm ET! This one is based on Chris' Guillebeau's upcoming book release for the $100 Start-up, and features $1,000 worth of business products for just $100. What's fun about this one is that everyone who purchases the package will get a hardcopy of the $100 Start-up book in the mail. The sale launches today April 30 (Monday) at Noon EST and goes until May 3 at Noon EST (exactly 72 hours). Get it while it's hot

REMINDER: Start a Blog That Matters Webinar -- I'm hosting a free webinar tomorrow night with Corbett Barr of Think Traffic called Start a Blog that Matters (based on his larger course) exclusively for the LAC community. The webinar will be held on Tuesday, May 1 at 6pm PT / 9pm ET. We’ll cover 5 incredible case studies of regular people who became big name bloggers, 5 bloggers who earn over $1 million a year and the 9 essential elements of starting a blog that matters. Register here.

Products in this Only72 sale (18 total):

Chris Guillebeau's The $100 Startup Book (Hardcover w/ shipping included)

Better Blogging ($177 in value) 

  • Corbett Barr - Creating, Marketing, and Designing A Blog That Matters ($40)
  • Susannah Conway - Blogging From The Heart (eBook version) ($137)

Passion-based Business ($137)

  • Jonathan Mead -- Identifying Your Passion Module + Workbook ($97)
  • Scott Dinsmore -- Live Off Your Passion (lite) ($47)

Freelancing ($111)

  • Ashley Ambirge -- You Don't Need A Job, You Need Guts ($40)
  • Men With Pens -- Freelancer Package: Unbelievable Characters, Guest Posting Guide, Beyond Brick & Mortar eBooks ($70)

Confidence & Courage ($129)

  • Johnny B. Truant -- Tao of Awesome ($79)
  • Marianne Elliot -- 30 Days of Courage (w/ Yoga Module) ($50)

Selling & Advertsing ($144)

  • Pam Slim -- Ethical Selling That Works ($97)
  • David Risley -- Double Your Ad Income ($47)

Technology & Systems ($171)

  • Joshua Kaufman -- The Personal MBA Guide to Small Business Infrastructure ($49)
  • Free The Apps -- How to Make iPhone Apps ($97)
  • Brett Kelly -- Evernote Essentials ($25)

Artists & Writes ($130)

  • Alyson Stanfield -- Turning Your Hobby into a Career (download & audio program) ($51)
  • Chris Guillebeau -- Unconventional Guide to Publishing ($79)

Click here to grab your business bundle by Weds. at noon!