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Samuel Duckett, Author at The Sampler - Page 3 of 7The Sampler
8 Simple Ways to Boost Your Most Important Relationships

Personally and professionally, relationships are at the center of who we are. Whether they are with a parent, spouse, or child, or your boss, team, co-worker, or business partner, your most important relationships are worth the time and care you put into them.

As a leadership coach and business consultant, I see the benefits of making your most important relationships a priority every single day.

Great relationships not only make working easier; they also improve productivity. Deeply connected relationships cultivate trust and mutual respect.

Relationships take effort and hard work, but like anything important in our life, they’re well worth preserving.

Here are some simple ideas to keep your relationships humming, at work and at home.


1. Make a dedicated time for those who matter.

Devote a portion of your day toward relationship building, even if it’s just 20 minutes, perhaps broken up into five-minute segments. Let those who are close to you know that you see them as a priority.


2. Attack the problem, not the person.

When problems arise–and they will–take the time to understand the problem and the person. Instead of spreading blame,  take the opportunity to learn something and practice solving problems collaboratively.


3. Be the most positive person you know.

Positive people are grateful people; they know the measure of how to appreciate others. They focus on what matters to them and they make what matters them important.


4. Never jump to conclusions.

Don’t respond to any situation until you have the whole picture. Nothing can cause more harm to a relationship than jumping to false conclusions, so let go of your biases and judgments. Learn to stay open-minded and work on getting informed.


5. Underpromise and overdeliver.

The best way to show people they’re important to you is to follow through on your commitments. Give more than is expected.


6. Communicate candidly and honestly.

A good relationship starts with good communication. Don’t let silence get between what you have to say to each other. Good communication has to be developed, and the process takes effort. Don’t stop talking when something needs to be said and don’t speak when someone else needs to be heard.


7. Be passionately appreciative.

Everyone wants to be appreciated. Don’t wait for perfection to strike; just appreciate and enjoy your colleagues, family, and friends for who they are.


8. Connect through service.

Too many relationships are built on each party wanting to get something out of the deal. But the only way a relationship will last is if you treat it as a place where you go to give, not to take.

Working on your important relationships is a way of life that’s worth pursuing–because the quality of those relationships is the quality of your life.

Source: inc.com

How You Know You’ve Created the Company of Your Dreams

“I felt this interior calm that was sort of amazing”


The struggle…

Starting a successful business is one of the most daunting tasks that someone can undertake.  It takes up a ton of your time, doesn’t pay you any money for a long time which means you usually do it on the side of your paying job, and the light at the end of the tunnel remains frustratingly dim for much longer than you’d prefer.  Honestly, there’s no way around these struggles and frankly there shouldn’t be because in the end, owning a business can be one of the most rewarding decisions you can make.  But the process of starting a business is particularly hard simply because it can take a while before you even start to understand what you’re truly doing it for.


The light at the end of the tunnel…

We found an article on Entrepreneur.com that sums up the feeling one gets when they know they’re over the hump of that initial struggle.  As the founder of Sailo, Adrian Gradinaru puts it, “I felt this interior calm that was sort of amazing,” says Gradinaru.  Sailo is a new company that has been described by Entrepreneur.com as the Airbnb of yachting, with over 150 boats available for renting through the site in local beach towns in New York (New York City, the Hamptons, Jersey City) and Florida (Miami, Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach).  Not too shabby to be compared to the company that is majorly disrupting the massive hotel industry… “It’s not about money, it’s not about profit, I feel like we are providing a service that people are actually using and they are enjoying it”, Gradinaru goes on to say.


Why you do it…

The founders of Sailo have gotten themselves to a beautiful position of comfortably operating their business after only starting in November 2014.  They are seeing an increasing return on the money they’ve invested with continuing boat rentals and location expansions.  Delphine Braas is another co-founder and one who is also experiencing the rewards that entrepreneurs live and breathe for.  Seeing your company make a positive effect on the customers that you had worked so hard for is enough to keep you hooked on the life of entrepreneurship.  Delphine Braas recalls having the realization that sealed the deal for her…

…“One of our customers called us, this was somebody we didn’t know, and they just told us that they had had the best day [of] their life. And we had created a company that provided the best day of people’s lives and that’s ultimately why we started it”…

That’s the joy of entrepreneurship and exactly what us at The Sampler are proud to promote.

If you loved this article please share it using the buttons below!!!

Success Orbits Around Happiness, Not the Other Way Around

Here’s a little boost for you today. We just read an article from Forbes that we had to share.


Does success breed happiness or do happy people become successful?

Such is the question that many of us have asked ourselves. Be it a newly minted college graduate or an industry veteran who wakes up and wonders ‘how did I end up where I am today”’, we’ve all contemplated what the relationship is between success and happiness. And while we each have our own definition of what it means to be successful, most of us at some point in our lives have used our personal financial gains as the ultimate barometer of our success.

At first glance, the logic for doing so seems rational. If we make a lot of money, we can pamper ourselves with luxury items, pay for a child’s college degree and retire early in order to sail off into the sunset during our twilight years. Yours truly began his professional career in the financial services industry for many reasons, not the least of which was to position myself for immediate financial gains.

But what if we got it wrong? What if, to use a quote from Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage, “success orbits around happiness, not the other way around”?

In a not-so-subtle nod towards the correlation versus causation argument, Shawn examines whether people are happy because they are successful or people become successful because they pursue happiness.


The end result? Those who pursue happiness ultimately become successful, not the other way around.

Shawn finds that the “most successful people, the ones with the competitive edge, don’t look to happiness as some distant reward for their achievements, nor grind through their days on neutral or negative; they are the ones who capitalize on the positive and reap the rewards at every turn.”

That is, those of us who pursue that which makes us happiest become the most successful, however each of us may define it.

Without revealing the full substance of the book (it’s a highly worthwhile read), I’ll simply state that the implications for how we live our lives are incredibly powerful. Remain true to your passions and pursue a career that drives happiness and success will follow suit.

How has the pursuit of your own successes orbited around your happiness?

8 Common Traits Entrepreneurs Tend To Have

The idea of what makes an entrepreneur an entrepreneur is evolving as we speak.  An article on Entrepreneur.com sparked our interest on this very topic so we had to share with you. These days, there are so many new tools at our fingertips to make ourselves self-sufficient that we can be entrepreneurs in myriad ways and gain the information to do it almost instantly.  The Sampler promotes entrepreneurialism across its wide variety of forms, whether your business is teaching piano lessons or consulting for cyber-security.  Either way, it’s safe to say that entrepreneurial is not so much of a rigid profession but more of a way of thinking.

The way entrepreneurs think is called the entrepreneurial mindset. The idea of getting to the root of how entrepreneurs think is relatively new. An entire culture of research and scholarship and study is growing around it. If you’ve found yourself on The Sampler, you likely consider yourself part of the entrepreneurial culture, whether you have already started a business or not. Regardless of what you do, however, here are the eight parts of the entrepreneurial mindset — the way entrepreneurs think and act. How many do you have?


1. Opportunity recognition

Entrepreneurs see and often seek out opportunities. They can learn to see ways to make things better for themselves and others.


2. Comfort with risk

Entrepreneurs learn to weigh and assess risk and become comfortable with the idea they must invest time and resources in unsure enterprises and ideas.


3. Creativity and innovation

Entrepreneurs are creative problem solvers. They apply unconventional tools and approaches to existing challenges.


4. Future orientation

Entrepreneurs think about what’s next and take ownership of outcomes. They can be focused on achievement and reaching set goals for their ideas or themselves.


5. Flexibility and adaptability

Entrepreneurs not only learn to change, they expect to. They prepare for and react quickly to obstacles, setbacks and new information.


6. Initiative and self-direction

Entrepreneurs are self-starters and motivated to reach goals. They are more likely to meet a challenge directly rather than seek input or directive.


7. Critical thinking and problem solving

Entrepreneurs are analysts. They can learn to see challenges, opportunities and even products in their component parts. They can make deep assessments accurately.


8. Communication and collaboration

Entrepreneurs are good at sharing. Ideas and input from others spark and drive their progress. They can communicate their ideas clearly and passionately.

Virgil Abloh And Others Team Up With Online School For Creatives

Are you creatively inclined? Are you passionate about a certain skillset in the fashion industry and want to take it to the next level of monetizing that skillset???  OF COURSE YOU DO! You’re one of our readers. That’s what The Sampler is all about.

Well good news for you because the people over at Mastered have created a program where you can enroll in classes and be taught by highly accredited professionals in the field of your choosing.  This school isn’t a normal school, though. It goes the route of The Khan Academy, a revolutionary way of schooling that is entirely online so as to remove the usual physical constraints of the outdated education system that we’re used to.

Thanks to the genius online format, you can enroll from anywhere around the world and take classes any time of day in anything from Streetwear: Mastered with Virgil Abloh to Photography: Mastered With Nick Knight.  It’s worth noting that the school is so new that half of the programs are not yet being offered but are still in the registration phase.  However, this might be the perfect time to sign up and secure a spot.

Start saving up now because the price of the programs hover around £1,250 GBP (~$2,000 USD) for a three-month program, although payment plans are available. Don’t necessarily be deterred by the price, though, because the value could very well be worth it if you have the cash. Programs are created and curated exclusively for Mastered and are taught either in-person, via recorded videos, through review of the student’s work online, or by conducting live Q&A sessions. With the fashion industry being one of the most notably difficult industries to succeed in, this could very well break down some heavily fortified barriers to entry and add some much-needed democracy to a culture of rigid tradition.


Head on over to Mastered.com to read more about the programs and if any of the creatives in your network would be interested in boosting their skills to gain an advantage in this industry, please share with the buttons below!!!

Lupe Fiasco Seeks To Transform Communities, Starts Non-Profit

Coming straight out of left field, cult-classic wordsmith turned political pop-star Lupe Fiasco emerges back into the spotlight, but not for the usual music-related hype. No, this time it’s something much more impactful.


Lupe has partnered with the social-navigation app Waze‘s Di-Ann Eisnor to start a new non-profit organization called Neighborhood Start Fund.  The goal is simple, but the impact will be tremendous. Lupe and Di-Ann will use the organization to bring entrepreneurship to underserved communities taking it one community at a time.  They begin the journey in Brownsville, Brooklyn holding pitch competitions and offering money and mentorship to the most viable ideas.  For all of our Brownsville readers, idea submissions end at midnight on October 30th!! After that, Neighborhood Start Fund will even give the idea submitters pitch training with coaches and mentors before the live pitch event with Di-Ann and Lupe… WHAT! Bring this to Los Angeles already!!!

The initial mission will be to help these young people start their businesses with $5,000 grants and heavy coaching.  In a stroke of genius by the creators, there will also be an added feature to the Neighborhood Start Fund.  Once the startups are earning revenue, a portion of the proceeds from every start-up that sprouts up out of these communities will be reinvested into the next round of start-ups from the same community, creating a positive philanthropic feedback loop that will literally transform the communities in the process.

To me, this is absolutely brilliant and something we can get behind. Most underserved communities are full of natural entrepreneurs anyway, taking whatever they have at their fingertips and flipping it for profit.   Some products legal, some products illegal, but nevertheless the entrepreneurial spirit is more evident in impoverished communities than anywhere else because they simply do not have enough assisted opportunity in the form of paved routes to success. In my opinion, Lupe and Di-Ann are not only compassionate to want to bring new legitimate opportunities to these communities, but smart in a business sense as well and I can’t wait to see what happens.  Keep checking back with The Sampler to see how it unfolds with the Neighborhood Start Fund and spread the word about this awesome cause by sharing this article below!!!


For now, I’ll leave you with this:


The Basics of Branding

Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small, retail or B2B. An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets. But what exactly does “branding” mean? How does it affect a small business like yours?  Read on for these valuable facts that we learned Entrepreneur.com‘s take on branding strategy:

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors’. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.

Are you the innovative maverick in your industry? Or the experienced, reliable one? Is your product the high-cost, high-quality option, or the low-cost, high-value option? You can’t be both, and you can’t be all things to all people. Who you are should be based to some extent on who your target customers want and need you to be.

The foundation of your brand is your logo. Your website, packaging and promotional materials–all of which should integrate your logo–communicate your brand.


Brand Strategy & Equity

Your brand strategy is how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering on your brand messages. Where you advertise is part of your brand strategy. Your distribution channels are also part of your brand strategy. And what you communicate visually and verbally are part of your brand strategy, too.

Consistent, strategic branding leads to a strong brand equity, which means the added value brought to your company’s products or services that allows you to charge more for your brand than what identical, unbranded products command. The most obvious example of this is Coke vs. a generic soda. Because Coca-Cola has built a powerful brand equity, it can charge more for its product–and customers will pay that higher price.

The added value intrinsic to brand equity frequently comes in the form of perceived quality or emotional attachment. For example, Nike associates its products with star athletes, hoping customers will transfer their emotional attachment from the athlete to the product. For Nike, it’s not just the shoe’s features that sell the shoe.


Defining Your Brand

Defining your brand is like a journey of business self-discovery. It can be difficult, time-consuming and uncomfortable. It requires, at the very least, that you answer the questions below:

  • What is your company’s mission?
  • What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
  • What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
  • What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?

Do your research. Learn the needs, habits and desires of your current and prospective customers. And don’t rely on what you think they think. Know what they think.

Because defining your brand and developing a brand strategy can be complex, consider leveraging the expertise of a nonprofit small-business advisory group or a Small Business Development Center.

Once you’ve defined your brand, how do you get the word out? Here are a few simple, time-tested tips:

  • Get a great logo. Place it everywhere.
  • Write down your brand messaging. What are the key messages you want to communicate about your brand? Every employee should be aware of your brand attributes.
  • Integrate your brand. Branding extends to every aspect of your business–how you answer your phones, what you or your salespeople wear on sales calls, your e-mail signature, everything.
  • Create a “voice” for your company that reflects your brand. This voice should be applied to all written communication and incorporated in the visual imagery of all materials, online and off. Is your brand friendly? Be conversational. Is it ritzy? Be more formal. You get the gist.
  • Develop a tagline. Write a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand.
  • Design templates and create brand standards for your marketing materials. Use the same color scheme, logo placement, look and feel throughout. You don’t need to be fancy, just consistent.
  • Be true to your brand. Customers won’t return to you–or refer you to someone else–if you don’t deliver on your brand promise.
  • Be consistent. I placed this point last only because it involves all of the above and is the most important tip I can give you. If you can’t do this, your attempts at establishing a brand will fail.


If this article helped you, feel free to share it on social media below! Thanks for reading.

3 Key Ways To Making It As An Artist (Without Starving)

Art can be one of the most freeing activities humans can take part in.  It allows us to connect with ourselves, with our senses, with our emotions and express them to others on a deep level.  Yes, at times art is grueling but more often than not, it’s therapeutic and restores our sense of self.  So why do so many people, who are normally inclined to making art, decide to ditch their art and work in an office cubicle when it comes time to pay the bills? We recently read an article on Forbes that explained exactly why its time to put the ballpoint pen down and pick the paint brush back up.


Here are Forbes’ three keys to getting there, based on the expertise of seasoned artists:

1. Be Okay With Using Various Revenue Streams:

What feeds an artist’s income varies from case to case.  For instance, Sculptor A and Sculptor B technically have the same job title, but they may make money in completely different ways.  Perhaps Sculptor A plans to earn all of her income through public art commissions, while Sculptor B strives to rely exclusively on Web sales.

Artist and ArtBistro blogger Valerie Atkisson offers evidence that neither Sculptor A nor B are working toward the most cushy financial situation.  In her post, “How do Artists Make Money?” Atkisson shows how in a profession that often lacks traditional benefits and job security, it’s useful to rely on multiple sources of income, such as gallery showings, teaching positions, Web sales, commission projects and grants.

According to photographer Ken Gonzales-Day, dabbling in such an array of moneymaking pools allows artists to discover which methods are the most lucrative.  “It’s very difficult for artists to make a living purely off artwork sales.  Sometimes they can get away with this for five years or so, but the demand is extremely unpredictable,” he said.  Gonzales-Day is a professor of photography but he doesn’t rely solely on that salary.  “I make about 25-30% of my income from other sources such as speaking gigs, public art commissions and publishing.  None of these generates a huge amount of money, but it all adds up,” he explained.

Although it may be tempting to put all the eggs in one basket and go full throttle from the get-go–by opening a gallery, let’s say–it’s safer for starting artists to invest a little in a lot.  This way, if the gallery sales are weak, he or she still has multiple other sources of income to fall back on.  The downside?  The artist will have a much fuller plate.  The upside?  The artist has way more options.  If the potatoes are unpalatably undercooked, at least there’s still the turkey, stuffing and pie.


2. Be Weird:

Being outlandish is probably a bad idea at most jobs, but it’s an asset in this profession.  In her post “Why Weird Is Wonderful (And Bankable),” Forbes Contributor Jessica Hagy rather artistically draws, graphs and writes about the value in abnormality.  Hagy explains that the less normal something is, the more memorable it tends to be.

To sell art, it helps to grab the viewer’s attention by creating works that are distinctly different from what already exists.  It’s also smart for an artist to cultivate an aesthetic that is markedly his or her own.  Famed artists such as Picasso, Van Gogh, Degas, Monet, Warhol, and Close all have one thing in common: their works look nothing alike.  After seeing a few Picasso pieces, it’s easy to select which is the Picasso out of a bunch.  Such cohesiveness shows a level of control and deliberation that can be visually enticing.

As Gonzales-Day explained, “Artists who work to create a brand around their names will have more opportunities to engage in various projects.”  If someone associates an artist’s name with his or her distinguished style, invitations to work, speak and teach are more likely to ensue.

In a recent lecture entitled “How to Succeed as an Artist,” artist and career advisor Paul Klein emphasized the importance of being different.  He insinuated that distinctiveness generates sales–even more so than quality.  “Can’t all of us name artists who are doing really well monetarily, whose work we think sucks?”  The branded artist doesn’t necessarily produce better work, but more bankable work.


3.  Have the Right Mindset

Passion and talent aren’t the only qualifications for becoming a professional artist.  It takes a certain type of person who accepts the unconventional challenges of this job.  They must be able to tolerate criticism of their work and posses the drive necessary to independently charter their own career paths.

Along with the complexities, this career has its advantages.  Most artists have full power over their business decisions, selling strategies and creative choices.  According to Gonzales-Day, living as an artist is an ongoing journey, both literally and figuratively.  “This spring I’ve already traveled to Paris, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles for projects and events,” he said, emphasizing travel as a major perk that comes with his profession.

With no clear road to reach success as an artist, it may be too structureless for some.  But for others, the flexibility is advantageous.  If the path of a lawyer is like a bamboo plant, an artist’s is like ivy.  As anyone who’s been to the English Countryside knows, ivy can flourish despite its unpredictable form.  In the words of Gonzales-Day: “It’s an organic business model.”



Check back with The Sampler for more information on paying your bills with a passion and in the meantime, feel free to share this article below!

3 Entrepreneurs You Should Follow on Instagram Now

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We’ve hand-picked three entrepreneurs that you should follow on Instagram for inspiration.

All of them started from nothing…now all of them are living the American dream.
Their range of industries span from bicycle wholesaling to $100 million real estate investments, yet they all have one thing in common… the suffocating desire to succeed. Now they pass on their wisdom to their loyal followers via Instagram in hope of inspiring people around the world just like them.

Give their pages a peek and see if it gives you that daily dose of inspiration you crave…

@mannykhoshbin – From homeless to real estate mogul, Manny Khoshbin was an immigrant living in a broken down car selling nuts and dried fruit door to door. He now boosts not only a $100 million+ real estate portfolio, but one of the world’s greatest automobile collections. If you’re into expensive toys, his lifestyle alone is inspiring.

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@agentsteven – Steven Mehr started his first business at age 16 selling electronics, and became a multimillionaire by age 26, all while putting himself through law school at night. He has founded and sold over a dozen companies and continues to travel the world speaking at events and motivational rallies.

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@michel__issa – Swedish entrepreneur Michel Issa spent 10 years of his life studying as a monk, but one day felt another calling. After being turned down for a job at a fast food chain, the unemployed 24 year old decided to apply the philanthropic teachings of monks to business. 3 years later he owns 7 companies ranging from hotels to bicycle sales. This humble multimillionaire has won dozens of awards for entrepreneurship and philanthropy in countries around the world.

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Content by: Jack Della Femina
Savvy Move: Peet’s Coffee & Tea Acquires Stumptown Coffee Roasters

The Acquisition

Peet’s Coffee & Tea has recently made a big move in the growing business of speciality coffee.  Recognizing the trend rapidly picking up pace, Peet’s picked up one of the biggest names in speciality coffee at the moment, Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Although prices were not disclosed, they did divulge some information in a press release:

Described in a Peet’s press release as “one of the leading players in the fast growing ready-to-drink cold brew coffee business,” Stumptown will “continue to operate independently while having full access to Peet’s resources and scale.” This is especially exciting to those of us that already know and love Stumptown.

Peet’s has been growing their presence in the coffee world since they were founded in 1966.  To date, they have over 230 locations across the country.  Stumptown, based on Portland, Oregon, was founded in 1999 and has just ten outlets. It’s worth mentioning as well that this isn’t the first acquisition Peet’s has made. They recently acquired Mighty Tea Leaf, another California-based company which produces artisan tea products. Peet’s has expanded recently into Chicago and Washington D.C., according to its website.


Smart Business Move

Peets is making a smart move by letting stumptown’s brand remain completely intact, not even putting an association on the label, because of the cult following Stumptown has attracted mainly due to their innovations in the cold brew market.

Acquiring a company but letting it operate independently is a common move done by businesses because of the rapid rate of change.  When businesses grow, by the time they’ve grown and matured, a more relevant brand is already emerging beneath them. To capitalize off of what is making the newer brand more relevant, it’s easier for the big brand to buy the small brand and not touch it instead of shifting their entire brand in an effort to adapt.  We’ve seen this in:



At the end of the day, we support this.  Peet’s like the previously-mentioned acquisition scenarios show company’s wising up and catering to the rapidly changing trends of the market.  Instead of shoving old brands down our throats, they realize that at the end of the day we make the decisions.  If we feel Kellogg is unhealthy, we’ll support a smaller brand like Kashi and it’d be smart of you (Kellogg) to invest in them. Free market is the american way and it’s how it should be.