A “Get Your Power Back” To-do List for Today (especially INFJ’s)

This is a hard morning for a lot of people today. Not just in the U.S. but worldwide. We’re in shock. Things did not go as planned, we have no idea what the repercussions will be and that is scary. It’s easy, way too easy, to fall into a bad rut today. How many of us are trolling social media, soaking in all the gloom and doom reporting and hateful gloating. It’s starting to feel like passing the same bad car wreck for hours and hours as you witness a lot of fear being played out.

If you are an INFJ, or really any introvert, you are feeling this more than most. You are a sponge and you can’t turn that off. Where as others can skim through the muck of angry posts, you will absorb that energy until you become saturated and feel like that’s all there is out there. I get that you want to feel connected to someone right now who will make this all feel better, less surreal. Hanging out with your tribe on a day like today can be a great thing, if they are finding some positive things to say. But if your social media friends are swimming in the muck it’s time to tune them out and do things that will pull you up (so you can then do that for others).

Here’s my recipe for getting out of the muck rut.

  1. Turn off the TV and get off social media for the rest of the day. It may feel a little like the world is ending, but it isn’t going to happen today.
  2. Clean something, preferably something that won’t get dirty or messed up again quickly. Cleaning out drawers is one of my favorite things to do on a day like this. Getting rid of what no longer works for me and getting more focused on what is important to me does wonders. When you are done, stop and admire your work. Take a pic of it and post it on social media…tomorrow.
  3. Take a bath. A long, deliciously-scented, low-light bath with maybe some Pandora spa music playing. Sit there until the bubbles have all popped and the water is cool. Think about your fears and address them. Prioritize them and decide what causes you are most concerned about. Get clear about where you want to spend your precious energy now.
  4. Get dressed in your best feel-good clothes. For me it’s a Hello Kitty sleep shirt with leggings and my favorite slippers.
  5. Get on your computer, but only to research whatever cause you decided is at the top of your new priority list. This is your chance to keep your cause alive and thriving. There are so many groups that will need additional support in the next couple of years. Commit to one or two now. Make plans to volunteer.
  6. Read something up-beat or watch “Young Frankenstein” or “Monty Python.” Bonus points if you can do this with someone you love (human or furry) curled up with you.
  7. Get some sleep! Most of us were up waaaay too late last night, clutching our knotted stomachs, playing out wort-case scenarios in our heads. Rest tonight knowing that even though times feel dark, you are going to be a light in that darkness starting tomorrow.

I hope this helps. Being a sensitive person is never easy, but it’s especially challenging on a day like today. Know that there are so many others out there. It’s just that, you know, we’re introverts, so we’re hard to find. But I’m here and there are millions of others too. Comment below or contact me if you want to chat. (Probably tomorrow ;-))

 

 

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Rocking Sales As An Introvert Entrepreneur

Would you hire an introvert to sell your eighty million dollar airplanes? Aren’t introverts too shy and quiet to be in sales? Is it possible for introverts to succeed as entrepreneurs if they have to go out and sell their ideas?

I love these questions because they lead to myth-busting. As an introvert, entrepreneur and writer I get to create a character who shows that the exact traits that some see as a detriment to selling are what can make introverts rock stars in sales.

I’m currently writing book five in this seven book series which features Vivienne Ramsey, a quiet, hard-working, super-organized young woman who climbs to the top of the private jet sales industry by using her introvert traits. It wasn’t hard to image how it could happen. Her transition from a secretary to jet sales might surprise her and some others but I knew she could do it from the beginning. (It helps when you’re the writer ;-)).

The idea for the story came from my  own business experiences. I’ve failed at a few sales jobs. I was hired to work commission sales in a boutique dress shop and was run over by all the more outgoing sales staff. I tried opening a home-party based business where I had to call on all my friends and family and their friends and family and so on, and so on. A year after starting my manager was still trying to explain to me how easy it is to approach women in the grocery store to discuss their make-up and set them up for a party. I thought there was something wrong with me because I felt so uncomfortable doing it. It took me a long time to figure out that it wasn’t that I couldn’t sell, it was that those particular types of sales were not where I could shine.

Cold calling isn’t an introverts best skill but there are a lot of business that require no cold calling and rely on strong, long-term relationships to make sales. This is where introverts shine. This is how my character, Vivienne, is selling the hell out of those jets (at 1% commission on eighty million–you do the math). Vivienne is quiet, not because she has nothing to say, but because she loves to study people. She learns a lot about her clients by keeping her mouth shut and letting them do the talking. She has no problem keeping the spotlight on them because introverts naturally don’t like to be the center of attention. Once she knows what they need she follows through on every detail, often giving them more information than they even asked for. Finally jet sales in particular lets her shine because she is a female in a very male-dominated field. Introverts are used to being the odd man out and Vivienne knows how to work this to her advantage. She brings all the traits that her male, extroverted competition doesn’t have.

As the story progresses Vivienne is learning more about herself and about the skills she’s naturally great at and those she will always struggle with. In the scene I wrote yesterday she is attending her first business lunch as a female entrepreneur. The pre-lunch social hour is a struggle, but once she is in a smaller group, during the meal, she listens and learns that all the women at her table struggle with some aspect of their business. No entrepreneur can be good at all parts of running a business and these women remind her that its smarter to  hire someone to do the things you can’t.

Ironically (or maybe not because introverts are intuitive) I got a perfect infographic this week about introverts in sales from the lovely and charming Emily Parker. I’m sharing it with you because it’s a concise visual that explains exactly why Vivienne is a quiet honey who is makin the money.

Introverts in Sales
Source: CollegeMatchup.net

Introvert entrepreneurs, share your sales stories. Have you found a way to make your introversion work for you? Reply in comments below and help others see all the ways being the quiet one can be a benefit.

And keep an eye out for Vivienne. I’ll be publishing the first book in the series, “Fearless Flying” in a few months. I’m working on some covers and writing all the way to the end of her fantastic journey so I can release the rest of the series quickly.

 

 

 

 

6 Things To Ask Yourself Before You Become The Chick in Charge

I’ve pointed out in the past that I pretty much had no idea what I was doing when I hit publish on my first book. I mean, I managed to get it up on Amazon but beyond that I was delusional, believing that books sell themselves, that all I had to do was bring my product to market and the rest would be riding the gravy train. (I’ll pause for a minute for all the authors out there to finish laughing.)

It didn’t take long to realize I had not only become a published writer but I had also unknowingly launched my own business; a business that exists in a market that I didn’t understand and requires skills that I did not have. If I had to do it over again I would because I’m actually really enjoying this process, but there’s definitely a few things I wish I would have thought through first.

Most of this occurred to me as I was reading Taylor Pearson’s article, “Why Product Market Fit is Overrated (and what to focus on instead).” In it he hit on several key points that I think a lot of women don’t factor in when they start a business, especially one with very low start up costs. It’s so easy to jump in the game that we often don’t exactly know what game we are jumping into.

Once my book was out there I started to look for blogs who might review it and I was shocked by the sheer number of self-published romance authors. Do you know your market? —the number of people in it and how those people were doing business? Most of us start with the idea stage, we’ve got a cool product, then skip the research and take the leap. In hindsight this is both good and bad. On one hand we don’t know what we are up against so we are more likely to take the leap, but not knowing can also make the first few years so much more frustrating. No matter what the business its always wiser to do the research first, not necessarily to squelch your dream but to give you a better idea of what will be involved in working in that field. Even for home franchise business (like selling makeup or kitchen goods at home parties), it’s good to know how many other vendors of the same line are in your area then look at their online presence.

I didn’t ask, is this business a good fit for my life? I’m a mom first, a job that I’m slowly being phased out of, but one I still hold at least part-time (sometimes full time). Running a business, especially in the first couple years can be time consuming. Everything is new to you. I’ve spent countless hours reading how-to books and articles and listening to podcasts so I can learn more about my business. So far I’ve made it fit, squeezing writing time in between driving my kids around and dealing with standard teenage issues, but there are times I’m cramming in a blog post or rushing to meet a deadline, burning the midnight oil to make it all work.

Another part of not knowing the business in advance was not asking what will I be doing on a daily basis? Being a self-published author is half writing but also half marketing, especially online. This is another area where ignorance may have worked in my favor because I’m not naturally drawn to social media. I’m much more of a lurker than a poster, preferring to see what everyone else is doing and keeping my own rather dull life out of the spotlight. That has changed. I still don’t take photos of my meals to post them but I’ve worked to steadily to remember to include others in my business life; what I’m working on or my latest passion (hello, Taylor Pearson and End of Jobs), generally sharing my journey (like this post!) It’s probably the hardest and most unexpected part of being an author for me.

Do I know my audience? It’s another important factor to consider when deciding if a business is right for you. Social media and marketing becomes so much easier if you know who you are trying to reach. You need to understand and relate to their problems if you are going to solve them with your product. As Taylor Pearson points out, one of his business ventures failed because despite the fact that it was a hot market he didn’t really understand the needs of the clients.

Equally important is, do I know at least ten people in the industry? The old saying, “it’s who you know” still holds true. It’s vital to be involved in your industry, even better if you do this before you hang your “open for business” sign. You are going to have millions of questions (not exaggerating here) and you will need several people to turn to for answers. Being connected also helps you to know industry changes, something that can change almost daily in self-publishing. It’s never too early (or too late) to get involved with industry groups.

The most concise and profound question from Taylor’s article is: “How do you want to spend the next four years of your life?” Because your answers to the questions above will show you what it will be like to spend the next couple years building a business. No matter how prepared you are there is a steep learning curve, and you will be deeply invested, emotionally and financially in making your business work. The more you know about it before you start the better.

One final note, while I now realize that I jumped blindly into my business and I’m paying the price, running to catch up, it’s never too late to ask these questions and in doing so improve your current outlook and knowledge. You will never get it all exactly right. Part of the fun (?) is learning and growing and challenging yourself.

So I’m asking any Chicks in Charge to share their story. How prepared were you to start your business? How has that affected your business? What do you wish you knew in advance? Share in the comments below so maybe we can help other women entrepreneurs learn from our mistakes–pay it forward.

 

The End of Being Chicken Sh*t or Why I Self-Published

To celebrate my 50th birthday I jumped out of an airplane, got a tattoo and self-published my first novel. Of the three, publishing was by far the scariest but they were all part of my midlife journey, my campaign to live my life differently, more deliberately, for the second fifty years (give or take a few).

The night before my skydive a friend asked me why I was doing it. I told her that I couldn’t live as a chicken shi*t any longer. There were so many things that I feared, irrationally, at that time. I was scared to death of heights, but I knew that statistically skydiving was pretty safe. I was scared to do much of anything permanent, because I was scared of making a mistake and scared of regret. My tattoo is permanent and a constant reminder that I can trust my gut and the choices I make for myself.

And I was scared to death of anyone knowing me, who I really was, what was in my heart. Writing “Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks: a love story” was me leaning into that fear and pushing past it. It was me giving it the finger and saying that maybe I did have something to offer.

At first I was defensive of my writing and the topic, young love. But reviews told me that a lot of people really enjoyed reading the book because it mirrored their own high school experience and they loved reliving it. I began to apologize and back peddle less and own it. I showed up at writers groups and proclaimed that I write romance.

Other fantastic changes also happened when I hit publish. I was forced out of my very small world. I had to interact with other authors and ask tons of questions because I was so incredibly lost. I met amazing friends, people who are stoked about life and writing and helping others reach their dreams. My world expanded and filled up with great people. And I reconnected with others from my past. They read my book and contacted me to say they liked it and played the guessing game of who from our high school inspired certain scenes or characters.

A few days after publishing I created some flyers and carried them around with me (because I was still too chicken to ask to hang them). I had lunch at a local coffee shop and my friend/editorial goddess, Chrissy, pushed me to ask to hang one on the bulletin board. I can still remember how I described my book, with a long list of everything it wasn’t and a promise that the owner didn’t need to read it if she didn’t want to. Leanne, the owner of Pinks coffee shop is one of those really sharp, funny people who read people well. She welcomed my flyer (it’s still there now!) and read my book and recommended it to others. I have lunch there frequently because the food it really good and the coffee and hanging around Leanne reminds me how far I’ve come. I tell her all my writing plans now and I’m open to having a book signing party when I publish the Vivienne series in a few months, something that sounded absolutely painful two years ago.

This past Wednesday, February 4th, was my two year writing anniversary. I realize that in some ways two years isn’t a lot. I hope its the start of a very long career. But I’m commemorating it to celebrate just how far I’ve come. My bravery level is through the roof compared to back then. I do things daily that I would have been absolutely traumatic to the old me. Right now I am planning to teach a class on self-publishing locally starting in April. Going through all the steps to make this happen I still feel fear–fear of failure, fear of rejection. But I’m not the chicken shi*t I was in my 40’s because even if I am afraid, I do it anyway. I tell the negative voices in my head to shut the F up and I do it. And it feels amazing, life-affirming, crazy powerful. I’m pushing forward, past my fears because I want others to get a chance to feel the same thing.

I’m going to end with a quote from one of those amazing, stoked, life-affirming people I’ve discovered along the way. Danielle LaPorte creates Truthbombs, daily smart thoughts. This was one from the other day, yet another that nailed exactly what I was feeling. If you like it you can subscribe to them here.

blog second image feb 7

Powerful Introvert Marketing: Collaboration

I don’t know about all other introverts, but I hate being the center of attention. My wedding was torture! I seriously wanted to stop the service and ask everyone to just talk to each other and stop looking at me. So you can imagine how difficult promoting myself is. The idea of contacting people I don’t know but would like to (double whammy unnerving) and then telling them about my writing (triple whammy) then asking them to read it and review or promote it in some way (we’re up to quad whammy now) is crazy hard for me. I’ve done it, but I’m sure I came off as the awkward, quivering fool that I felt like.

I’ve tried all sorts of ways to market my books with some success, but I know I could do better. Ironically, I’ve discovered a way to reach people, the movers and shakers I want to know, and do it in a way that I am completely comfortable with; I can do it with ease when I promote other people.

Twice recently opportunities have fallen into my lap where I wanted to tell the world about someone else’s work and how it influenced me in a positive way.

The first was a very cool lady who calls herself The Suburban Monk. She created the adorable smiling, thumbs-up Buddha statue shown above. I ordered two recently and she accidentally double sent my order (because she is a business owner who truly cares about her customers!) When she realized her mistake she told me to keep and share the extra two. My mind immediately went to doing a giveaway through my blog because I wanted to share my windfall and let others know about my little Syd (that’s his name) statue and how much it makes me smile. So, if you would like to win a perriwinkle or purple Syd, please follow this link to my Facebook page and enter to win him! Tell your friends and family to sign up too. I gotta tell you it’s hard not to smile every time you look at him. He comes in a bunch of cool colors so if you want gold or orange or another color check out her site.

The second opportunity came when an author I love and follow all over social media grabbed on to last week’s post on strong, silent women and added to it. I mentioned Lavinia Collins in my post so she read it (but that’s not why I mentioned her). As a history scholar she then wrote a post on her blog that added to mine. Here’s a link. If you are a history buff or feminist it is a must read. I can’t tell you how amazing it felt to connect with another author and work off each other. For introverts, collaboration feels fantastic. The chance to shine along with another person feels so much better than being alone in a spotlight. My mind is still awash with places I want to share our combined article. I’m stoked to promote it in a way I would never be if it was me alone.

Since we are talking about marketing here, lets look at the nitty gritty–will I sell any books because of these two events? Truth–I have no idea and that really isn’t my point. Then how can it be marketing, you say. It is marketing because it’s a chance for me to meet new people and connect with them. I truly believe that people buy from people they know and like. So maybe some of the people I meet through these others will decide to look up my books. I’m listed everywhere as Karen Gordon, Author and hopefully it’s easy to find my books. If not, they may remember me when they are looking for a book in the future or want to recommend one to a friend. It’s not direct marketing, it’s not aggressive, it’s probably the very slow way around, but it works for me. I’m having a fantastic time. I’m juiced up about promoting others and my excitement is genuine. People can feel when you are promoting out of obligation and need, just slogging through it, or doing it with true fun and passion.

What marketing technique is working best for you? Do any feel better to do? Share your experience in the comments.

Be sure to stop by my Facebook page to win your own smiling, happy Syd to put on your desk or nightstand. Mine is cheering me on right now as I pass along the love.

3 Things You May Have Not Considered About Working From Home

My favorite futurist, Faith Popcorn, predicts that most workers in the future will have multiple income streams. They may contract with one or more companies as well as have one or more home-based businesses. This system not only protects people from losing it all if they lose a job, it also allows you to pursue several areas that interest you as opposed to choosing only one. In this scenario almost everyone will be involved in some form of a home-based business. To many this sounds like a fantastic set-up but as a current home-based entrepreneur I predict that this scenario will be rosier for some than others.

For the past sixteen years I have been working from home in some capacity. My latest gigs are teaching work from homeonline classes for the past eight years and now self publishing too and I admit that most days I love working from home. However, I know others who have moved their offices home then changed their minds once the reality set in. Setting up a desk in a corner of the dining room or the extra bedroom is only the first step to making it work.

I always like to get the negative out of the way first so let me start with–isolation. This is the big one that is often under estimated and can be so bad that people choose to go back to drive-time traffic and cubicles. It’s extremely easy to become a home-based hermit. It starts with not changing out of your PJ’s, all day. Which leads to not going to the gym or out to meet someone for lunch because, why change for one hour? Weeks can go by with the only human contact you have being the FedEx driver and your immediate family–if you let it happen. This is why so many flock to coffee shops and other places with relative quiet, tables and free wifi. While this helps a little, it doesn’t solve the problem of actually needing to interact with others who understand your business. It is crucial that you make plans to get dressed and leave the house to meet with people with whom you can share ideas and frustrations (introverts especially take note of this one).

Time flexibility can be both a blessing and a curse. On days that I need to be there for my kids it’s a fantastic bonus but on days when I’m having trouble getting organized and focused it’s definitely not. An office provides structure: a start time, lunch break, meetings, etc. Some home jobs have a built in structure, but many can be worked on anytime of the day (or night). To make this aspect work for you, you need to let go of classic ideas about work versus home time. Figuring out your personal best schedule is key. Are you the most focused early in the morning? Are there jobs that are route and dull and can be done while on a speaker phone? Is there a class you want to take that is offered during the day? (that will be a great reason to change out of your PJ’s?) Personally, I never go shopping on the weekends unless I absolutely have to. Costco on a Tuesday morning is a breeze compared to Saturday afternoon. It isn’t efficient to focus on work during the day and family or personal tasks on nights and weekends.

Time flexibility also allows you to create your own schedule; deciding exactly what you want to accomplish, when and how–your goals are now your own too. This freedom sounds great and can be once you do a little soul searching. You might have specific goals set by your company, but even then you now get to (have to) incorporate those in with your other non-work goals in a new way. Unplanned time will disappear into the same place half your socks go  and it’s easy to lose balance. If you are running your own business it’s tempting to keep working and not stop for things like food, water, friends. Setting my own goals has been the most challenging part of working from home. They change as I change and my family and business change. Without a boss to establish them for me and with more time (no commute, shorter lunches, etc.) than most, figuring out exactly what I need or want to be doing and when has been an ongoing challenge. The key to success is setting time aside to establish goals, make action plans and also note your accomplishments. If you don’t, no one else will do it for you.

If Faith Popcorn is right (and she often is) working from home is in your future. Maybe you are part of the growing number who are already there, living the dream of owning their time, but working with the challenges too.

I’d love to hear from other home entrepreneurs. What surprised you most about working from home? How do you make it work for you? Comment and share below.

The Introvert Workout

Late summer trailYesterday we had a break from the oppressive heat and humidity that is Memphis in August. I jumped out of bed, excited to hit the trail. It’s the same trail I walk often, but I knew it would be different. The trees would have changed from the last time I hiked it; a denser canopy, a few possibly just starting to turn for fall. Storms had fell a few and made new clearings. A new season of wild flowers had bloomed. It was like meeting up with an old friend after months apart to see how they had changed.

I ran into a few other people along the trail but we were content to exchange nothing more than a smile, a nod, or a quick “morning.” (Possibly more introverts.) I was mostly alone, allowed to be lost in my thoughts; fleshing out characters and scenes in my next novel or overthinking all kinds of mom stuff.

It was easy to walk 3 1/2 miles. It passed quickly and I could have easily gone longer if I had the time. On a crisp fall day I can walk 5 or 6 miles and be surprised when I reach the end. I burn calories and accomplish the “goal” of a workout but I do it in a way that clears my mind, sparks my creativity and feeds my soul.

My husband goes to the gym almost every morning. He not only gets in a workout but he also gets a social rush out of it. He keeps me updated on stuff happening in our community that he knows about from gym gossip. As an extrovert his morning workout fuels both his body and his social mind. I tried that route but I have to admit that I cringed a little every time I entered the building. The small talk between classes or over equipment was a struggle when my brain was busy working on processing my day ahead. If the weather even hinted at being nice I felt drawn to stay outside. I suggested we move class to the parking lot more than once. Everyone thought I was joking.

In American culture working out is a huge part of socializing and yet another place that an introvert can feel out of step, literally in my case. What is a grapevine step and why does everyone else in class seem to know but me? I want to be healthy in both mind and body and I’ve discovered the only way I can achieve both is by hiking. And ironically, my solo sport led me to a social group. Through Meetup I joined a hiking group that regularly hikes a trail that it is particularly easy to get lost on, which works for me in so many ways. I’m not left meandering alone on the confusing trails and I’ve met more quiet people who understand the pull of time in nature. It meets my need for a connection with the exact people it can be hard to connect with (because we all enjoy being alone).

So what is your introvert workout? Introvert or extrovert have you found a way that charges your physical and mental batteries? Share in comments and if hiking is your thing too check out my Pintrest board All Who Wander Are Not Lost.