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business Archives - Page 4 of 5 - The SamplerThe Sampler
Quote of the Day: Action is Greater Than Motivation

I came across this great article in a weekly newsletter I follow called “Action is Greater Than Motivation” by freelancer Paul Jarvis and I had to share it with you all. I am guilty of thinking about all the things I need to do than actually doing them, and this helped put things into perspective.


by Paul Jarvis

We’ve somehow led ourselves to believe that we can’t act unless we’re motivated to do so. It’s tricksy (like a Hobbit), because wanting to be motivated is so alluring (like the Ring).

Motivation is to action as reading about exercise is to being in shape. Certainly, both can happen, but simply being motivated accomplishes nothing while seeming like it’s accomplishing something.

Our problem is never motivation. Look at January 1st for everyone, ever. We’re all gung-ho about making changes at the start of a new year. Our problem isn’t a desire to do things, it’s just that most of us never follow through.

Being motivated to write articles doesn’t mean I’m going to write a single word. Feeling motivated to eat less vegan chocolates doesn’t mean I’ll eat less of them. Motivation feels important because it feels like action, but it’s not.

We attempt to motivate ourselves by getting excited about outcomes or thinking about how much better our lives will be once we are motivated. The issue isn’t that we want something, it’s that we think our desire for something automatically makes us more likely to achieve that something.

Motivation, even for mundane things like exercise or writing more, is theoretical. Whereas action is tangible.

When our theoretical ideas of wanting something take us further and further from putting something into practice, we get down on ourselves. We give up and often do the opposite (i.e. “I didn’t eat a healthy lunch today so it doesn’t matter if I have junk food for dinner” or “Why write anything now? I should have been writing for the last two weeks and be 10,000 words in already”).

The issue with motivation isn’t that we’re not motivated, it’s that we imagine that we need to be motivated in the first place, instead of just doing the work. With creativity specifically, it’s easy to get into the mindset of waiting for the muse, when really, the best way for the muse to pay us a visit is to start working.

Co-exist with the lack of motivation as you act on what you feel motivated to do. In the end, the motivation doesn’t matter at all, it’s the action that does because it’s the action that produces the work.

Action requires that we tell our minds to shut up. We need to stop telling ourselves to be motivated or feel down when we don’t act on our motivation sooner. We can’t argue with ourselves because even if we win, we lose.

Small actions often lead to bigger actions. Adding “write a book” to your todo list will result in exactly zero books ever being written. It’s too massive of a task to sum up in a line. If you actually want to act, you need to break things down a bit. Instead of “write a book”, add “come up with 3 ideas for a book”. This can be done by sitting down for 30 minutes and writing. Not writing well, not editing, not waiting until you’re motivated, but just sitting your ass in a chair and writing down ideas for 30 minutes. If you think too much about everything it takes to write a book and what can come from succeeding or failing after you’ve written it, you’ll talk yourself out of doing it before you even start.

Don’t let your brain talk you out of things! You can be smarter than your brain. You don’t need it or anyone else to motivate you to do something, you just need to shut yourself up and start doing it.

I don’t wait for motivation to strike, instead I get down to work. Motivation isn’t required for action. Frodo was the same, he acted instead of waiting to be inspired to act (with the help of Samwise of course). In the end he wasn’t powerful because he had or didn’t have the Ring, he was powerful because he kept taking action (and really, because he let Gollum defeat himself and fall into lava).

Source: Sunday Dispatches


Hollywood boulevard sign, with palm trees in the background; Shutterstock ID 90175036; PO: Film002; Job: Film Connection; Client: RRF, Inc.

When you live in Los Angeles, three things are certain- palm trees, year-round 90 degree weather, and the infamous question “So what do you do?” serving as a replacement greeting for “Hello”.


I am a big fan of Medium and I find all kinds of inspirational gems there.  I came across an article entitled “Never Tell People What You Do” and it immediately caught my attention. The article was written by a renowned ghostwriter and entrepreneur, Bruce Kasanoff, who is a household name on Forbes Magazine.  His point of view promotes the idea that you should tell people what you aspire to do and not what you get paid to do. In other words “Fake it ’til you make it” is a better approach to take than you probably think. In the past, I hated talking about what I wanted to do as if I was already doing it in fear of looking like a typical pretentious douche bag. Then I realized not telling people what I wanted, was getting me nowhere. If you’ve struggled with shameless self promotion, this article is for you.

Never Tell People What You Do by Bruce Kasanoff

It’s a simple question, and you’ve probably answered it hundreds of times. “What do you do?” If you’re like most people, you probably get the answer dead wrong.

Your standard reply is probably a factual description of your current job.

The right answer is: what you WANT to do.

The best way to pick up this habit is to take a trip to Los Angeles. Ask your cab driver what he does. “I’m a screenwriter,” he could say, “Working on a thriller about two school children who stumble onto a plot to blow up the Hoover Dam.”

When you go out to dinner, ask the same question of your waitress. The odds are 50/50 she’ll say, “I’m an actress.”

24-year-old interns are “directors”. 44-year-old ad agency execs are “producers”. Everyone talks about their aspirations, not what paid the rent this month.

Now some may argue that Los Angeles is La La Land, and there is nothing to be learned from people who are dreaming big and perhaps spinning their wheels. But I disagree.

You are probably much closer to your goals than an aspiring Hollywood actor. The main thing standing in your way is your willingness to say what you want.

An earlier version of this article appeared on LinkedIn, where over 300 million people have posted profiles that summarize their professional career. You probably have one, too. (If not, think about the last time you sent someone a cover letter or inquired about a job.)

Which of these best describe what you say in your profile or pitch?

a. What you’ve done

b. What you want to do

One of the main purposes of LinkedIn is to help you discover career opportunities, so you might guess that is the one place where people say what they want to do.

You would be wrong.

Most people say what they have done.

I’m not telling you to lie. I’m telling you to be bold enough to share what you want. Your resume says what you’ve done. That’s in the past.

When I was in the training business, an executive asked one of my colleagues whether we had a two-day training program customized for his industry. “Yes, we do,” said my colleague, who then spent the weekend creating such a program. He combined initiative, imagination and effort… and won a new client.

Not to get too personal, but we have a running battle at this moment in my household. My 22-year-old son is moving to Los Angeles to become a TV writer (ironic, isn’t it?). My wife, who is the practical one in our relationship, wants Jeff to tell everyone, “I’ll take any job in TV.”

I want him to say again and again and again, “I want to write for TV.”

Why would you give up your dream at 22?

(Not to worry… Jeff won’t.)

The happiest and most successful people nearly always have a sense of what they want to do next, or of how they wish to grow. They are able to say where they are headed, instead of where they have been the past few years. If you met Elon Musk, I bet he wouldn’t talk much about Paypal; he would probably tell you about how he plans to make space flight routine.

When you say what you want, you give others the opportunity to help you make your dreams come true.

When you are too embarrassed or cautious to say what you want, you make it impossible for others to help you.

Be bold. Be brave. Be honest.

Whenever humanly possible, say what you want, not what you do.

Source: Medium

How To: Start Up a Startup

After we posted our most recent quote image about the three basic questions you should ask yourself before starting a business, I got inspired and felt like I needed to elaborate on the topic.  Starting a startup will be much more difficult if you aren’t taking the proper steps so I wanted to list exactly what you need to nail down first when starting a business before anything else.


Step 1: What do you serve and who do you serve?

Ask yourself this right away.  This is the heart of your business. It is the cornerstone.  Think about what value-added contribution you are going to be making to society.  Is it Uber For Babies in San Francisco? (Don’t do that…..) Or is it a bike-sharing app in an emerging city or sprawling university (Do that!).  What you serve and who you serve are two separate but equally important questions because you can’t start a successful business with one and not the other.  Other important questions are:

  1. Is anyone else doing it? (Competition)
  2. Is the physical infrastructure in place for it? (Timing)
  3. Is society ready for my product/service? (Timing)


Step 2: What’s your mission as an employee?

It’s funny to ask what your mission as an employee is because the wording sounds like you’re one of the 302,000 Hewlett Packard employees serving your generic uninteresting mission.  What I really mean is what is your personal mission as the employee of your company (probably the first employee at that!).  In a startup, you’re going to want to do a million things.  It will start out broad at first with you scraping together all things across the board but slowly, your mission will refine as you start getting help and getting things done.

When this happens, know where you lie. What is YOUR role? What part do you play or satisfy within the business?  This will be crucial to the company moving forward because chances are that you won’t be good at everything and guess what, even if you are you shouldn’t do it all.  A good book to check out regarding this topic is The E-Myth. It talks about how the three roles in a startup are the visionary, the people person, and the business strategist and if you try to do all three yourself, the business will fail. The next step relates perfectly to this one…


Step 3: What’s your team and what do they do?

As your business idea stars to gain a little traction between you and your network of friends or colleagues, you’ll have some enthusiastic people wanting to join in.  You can’t take everybody with you so choose the most enthusiastic and trustworthy people and make sure there’s a solid role for them.  It might take some time to figure out how best they serve the mission but nail it down as soon as possible so as to efficiently streamlining the work that needs to get done.


And there you have it, the first-things-firsts of a startup. After this is established, then you can go on to finding investors, compiling financial costs, and further studying your market and competitors.  One step at a time and remember what Mark Cuban says: “Small businesses do not fail because of the lack of capital, they fail because of the lack of effort.”

Quote of the Day: How to Pick the Right Business Idea

There’s no doubt in my mind that we’ve all come up with at least one million dollar idea at some point in our lives. Some of us are think tanks and have a journal full of potential businesses that could be a hit.  The problem with having multiple ideas is trying to figure out which one to take the leap of faith with. Choice paralysis can set in and prevent us from making a move at all. If you’re a little all over the place with your thoughts, here’s something to ask yourself:

  1. What am I good at?
  2. What makes me happy?
  3. What does the world need?

Put all of your ideas through this filter, and the one that can answer all three of these questions is the one to go with. Winner winner chicken dinner.

How Kelis Successfully Transitioned from Singer to Chef

Wait. Kelis is a chef? Like a real one?

You heard right. Kelis is a chef and one you should take seriously. Most entertainers that have reached a certain level of stardom very rarely make a huge career change. The ones that do don’t always transition well, and there are a lot of rough patches that you go through to adjust.  Kelis has went through this journey and came out on top. The singer has been a professional musician since the age of 17, and found success with her most notable hits being “I’m Bossy” and “Milkshake”.  Despite her success, she made the decision to explore her passion for cooking and enrolled in Le Cordon Blue Culinary School in 2008. According to an interview she did with LA Weekly, Kelis helped her mother with a catering business as a child, and amassed a list of recipes when she was touring, so this transition was not completely out of the blue. Here are a few of her quotes from the interview:


“It opened up my life, made me feel like I can do something else..in the music industry, everyone lives like we’re saving the world. Music is healing, but the reality is it’s very self-centered,” she says. “To be good at it, you have to be egotistical, and it doesn’t equip you for much else.

“This was the first time no one cared that I sold this many records or that I am sort of famous, and it was a relief,” she adds. “When I graduated, the chef said, ‘We thought you were going to be a total bitch, but you worked really hard and we’re proud to say you went here.’ It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”


And her culinary accomplishments since then, prove that she made the right choice.  In 2013 she launched a line of sauces called Feast (which has now been renamed Bounty & Full). She’s also had a number of specials on the Cooking Channel. Now she has released her very first cook book entitled My Life On a Plate. Not to mention, she released an album FOOD, that turned out to be a great branding initiative that helped her fans make the transition with her.


Today was the last day ! I’m so tired , but it’s that good hard work pays off kinda tired 😉

A photo posted by Kelis (@sausageandboots) on


“The book was super-stressful,” Kelis says. “I was in boot camp and in sheer panic doing 10 recipes a day. I didn’t let anyone in the kitchen or let them eat the food or touch ingredients in the fridge. It was really, really intense. It’s way harder than making an album.”

Hats off to Kelis breaking out of her own limitations. It’s difficult for most, but for someone who changes her hairstyles like she changes underwear, taking a risk is not out of character for her. Head over to LA Weekly, for the full article.

7 Lessons You Can Learn from Taylor Swift’s Marketing Strategy

It’s amazing who you meet on random outings like a vision board workshop, and somehow connect to someone you probably wouldn’t otherwise. That was definitely the case with my colleague Sarah McKinney. I didn’t realize how similar our paths were until I came across an article she posted on Medium, breaking down Taylor Swift’s extremely successful marketing strategy that heavily focuses on community building. This article was too good not to share with you all, and hopefully you can take away something from it. Sarah is a freelance columnist, strategy consultant and singer/songwriter from Los Angeles, CA. She is extremely knowledgeable in her space, and I would highly recommend following her on Medium. Search @sarahmck.


Here’s the article originally posted on Medium:

Entrepreneurs: 7 Lessons From Taylor Swift On Community Building

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a bit of a Taylor Swift obsession. It began much like it did for her other fans, I assume. I related to her lyrics, and found myself singing along to her songs when driving (alone) in my car. Thirteen years her senior and studying business in graduate school at the time, I justified my growing interest in her as a fascination with her entrepreneurial savvy. Flash-forward and I’ve now purchased all of Swift’s music, read and watched countless interviews, and enthusiastically tweeted the article she penned for The Wall Street Journal and her open letter to Apple. I even wrote and released a song in the hopes I’d be able to reach her and she’d want to record it. Like I said, it’s a bit of an obsession.

One of my jobs now is writing articles as a freelance columnist — most often on the topics of entrepreneurship, creativity, and social impact. Recently I was chatting with Kathryn Cicoletti, founder of The MSB Cheat Sheet, about how brilliant I think Taylor Swift is. I’d just returned to Los Angeles after seeing the “1989 World Tour” in Santa Clara, and was explaining some of the things Swift did during her show to create a strong community vibe. “I need to apply what she does to my business! Will you please write an article about this with me in mind?” said Cicoletti. I sparked at the idea. And whenever that happens, I know I have to take action. So here you go entrepreneurs: 7 lessons from Taylor Swift on how to successfully build community:

1. Transparency builds loyalty. Be honest. No excuses.

The intimacy fans feels with Taylor Swift is no accident. Her lyrics have always felt like private journal entries that she decided to let the world read. She grew up in front of us, sharing all of her thoughts and emotions along the way, and has never tried to be anyone other than herself — irritatingly likeable to some, but unarguably likeable all the same. And as a thank you for this commitment to being authentic, her fans have stayed with her and grown exponentially in number over the years.

It’s common knowledge that consumers prefer brands they perceive as being authentic. As an entrepreneur, it’s temping to project an image of success prior to achieving it in the hopes you’ll more quickly attract people to your business. While this strategy may prove fruitful in the short run, people aren’t stupid and will leave you once they realize they’ve been duped. Don’t lose sight of the long view, and let your personality shine through. I’m sure you’re lovely. And even if you’re not, doing this will expedite some important character building life lessons.

2. Know your audience, and honor your responsibility to them.

I was aware that Swift’s core fan base was significantly younger than me, but didn’t anticipate how that would impact the “1989 World Tour” experience. At several points throughout the show the music would stop and Swift would begin chatting with the audience like we were BFFs, sprinkling tidbits of the wisdom she’s gathered over the years. The little girls around us were eating up every word. Even though Swift has grown up, she still takes her responsibility to young fans seriously.

Know who your most loyal customers are — study them and understand what makes them tick. Keep them in mind as you continue to roll out new products and services. Don’t try and serve the people you wish were loyal in the hopes of attracting them. Be true to your mission, your personal passion, and continue to talk to your most loyal customers. Allow things to grow organically from that place. If you don’t know who these people are inside and out, start researching them pronto.

3. Humanize your community. People like to know what they’re joining.

Before the release of her latest album Swift hosted private listening parties at select fan’s houses around the country. She made headlines for randomly sending fans gifts in the mail. During one of her recent shows she devoted a song to a woman in the audience whose son Ronan died of cancer, saying she read the woman’s blog regularly and was deeply touched by her journey. She shares fan-generated content she likes on social media, and shows YouTube videos of people covering her songs and dancing to her music before her concert begins.

Most consumers want to know what kind of community they’re joining before they sign up, and it’s your job to bring your community to life. There are many ways you can do this, but whatever you do must fit with your brand’s personality. Think about how you can bring your audience to the forefront and let people know who they are. The Skimm and SoulCycle are two brands that come to mind, when thinking about startups that have done this very well.

4. Create a strong tribe of (offline) support.

Sure, some have criticized Swift for taking the whole #girlsquad thing to an extreme, but the importance of surrounding yourself with a strong tribe of supportive people can’t be diminished. Besides, her current critics are probably the same people who were vocal about her needing to go have some “girl time” after her relationships with the Kennedy kid and Harry Styles went bust. Having a solid group of girlfriends provides the added benefit of ensuring she doesn’t come across as social media obsessed — confusing her online community with real life friendships.

Being an entrepreneur can be isolating. Long days spent behind your computer screen and checking off a never-ending list of “to do” items can make it easy to replace real life connections with Facebook likes. At least occasionally, when you catch yourself crafting your next clever post in your mind, pick up the phone and call a friend instead. Ask them how they’re doing. We know the business you’re building is important, but offline relationships will keep you sane, and ensure you don’t come across as a needy social media addict to your customers.

5. Have the courage to pivot (before you have to).

Swift didn’t need to leave the Country genre for Pop — her album sales have been pretty insane straight out of the gate and showed no signs of slowing down. Making that leap took some courage. She had to follow her heart and trust that her fans would follow. She was also pretty strategic in her decision to include a few very pop songs (e.g., “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”) on her last Country album, Red. And yeah, the popularity of that track probably eased some of her worries about what she planned to do next.

When monthly traffic and sales numbers continue to rise it’s easy to assume clear skies ahead, but it’s important to stay ahead of the market and always be anticipating future needs before consumers can articulate them. Innovation is just like that. And too many big companies die because they stop being nimble enough to innovate ahead of the competition. Don’t get too comfortable. Be diligent about reading industry news, surrounding yourself with “idea” people and read as many books as your brain can handle. Be strategic in your risk taking, and if you get it right, you’re community will grow in ways you can’t currently comprehend.

6. Become an advocate for those with less power.

One of the things I’m most impressed with about Swift is how she advocates for songwriters and artists that aren’t in her same position of power. Removing her music from Spotify and her open letter to Apple make clear that she’s not messing around, and cares about creative people working hard to make it in the music industry. It’s a fantastic example of leadership to set for her young fans, and demonstrates a lack of narcissism. This wins her even more fans, because she’s tapping into the fan bases of every public figure who speaks out in favor of her advocacy work. Brilliant.

I know I know, you don’t have 45.5 million Instagram followers. But you can start doing this kind of thing on a much smaller scale. Say yes to having that coffee with someone who reached out, and wants to learn from your experience. Attend industry events and get involved in issues that don’t just affect you, but others working in your space. Be proactive and positive, and find simple ways to give back. Write blog posts on open platforms like Medium to highlight social issues you care about. Eventually you may be having Swift-like impact within your industry.

7. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

The fact Swift invited Lisa Kudrow on stage during one of her LA shows to sing “Smelly Cat” with her makes clear she doesn’t take herself too seriously. In 2009 she rapped with T-Pain in “Thug Story” — the lyrics poking fun at her squeaky clean image. She played an irritatingly enthusiastic girlfriend in the film Valentine’s Day, said yes to hosting SNL (instead of simply being the musical guest), has admitted to naming her cats after characters in TV shows, and manages to always bounce back from adversity with a smile on her face.

I know it can get overwhelming, but please try and keep your sense of humor. Be silly. Poke fun at yourself. Go out of your comfort zone. Have new experiences that have nothing to do with growing your business. Give yourself permission to take risk. And when you make mistakes? Shake it off.

Business Tip: Create a “Done” List

Creating a “To-Do” list is necessary but it is also a constant reminder of everything you HAVEN’T done. Creating a “Done” list is just as important but often overlooked. Every aspect of your life is about balance, and if you are only focusing on the things you’ve yet to accomplish, your stress levels are most likely off the charts. Take the time out to write all of the things you’ve already done. It will change your mood instantly.

Top 20 Female Entrepreneur-Friendly Cities

I am not the type of woman that screams “FEMINISM!” at the top of every mountain, but I can say that gender equality in a corporate setting is a hurdle we’ve yet to clear.

Gender equality in the entrepreneurial space is about 100 hurdles.

Although we still have a long way to go, there is a silver lining for all the crazy women out there (like me) who are making the jump to entrepreneurship.  According to INC, these are the top 20 cities that are more progressive in embracing us. Did your city make the list?


1. Chicago

2. Boston

3. San Francisco (Silicon Valley)

4. Los Angeles

5. Montreal

6. Paris

7. Tel Aviv

8. Toronto

9. Singapore

10. Kuala Lumpur

11. London

12. Moscow

13. New York

14. Vancouver

15. Austin

16. Sydney

17. Amsterdam

18. Sao Paulo

19. Bangalore

20. Berlin

Jadakiss and Styles P, who comprise 2/3 of the rap group The Lox, have achieved success in their own right in the rap industry. The two have now teamed up again for a bigger cause to provide healthier food options to low income neighborhoods that have little to no access to fresh food. The two have opened up juice bars called Juices for Life, in an effort to bring access and awareness to a community that is extremely uneducated about nutrition.


They currently have three locations in Yonkers, the Bronx, and New York. They do plan on expanding their brand to more locations where there is a need.

Why You Shouldn’t Take On Too Much At Once in Your Business

Being ambitious is a great quality to have but it can sometimes be your downfall. Maybe your running a business and have too many things on your priority list. Maybe you’ve taken on too many clients. Or maybe you’ve taken on too many projects in effort to impress your boss (ahem…promotion please?). Maybe you have three amazing business ideas that you’re trying to get off the ground simultaneously. As tempting as it may be to want to tackle as much as possible all at once, you’ll find it’s actually counterproductive to your progress. Do what you can. Know when to say no. Make peace with your decision.