Archive for the ‘Inspirations’ Category

I did not plan on a part II, but here it is.  Part two of (the blog post) Selling Goats – How I Changed My Business Mind-Set.

Pruning really is not so easy.

Today we pulled the ad that had listed goats for sale.  The last goats that went into trailers, down the road to their new homes, were dams with babies by their side.  One side of me loved seeing the small families stay together.  Another side of me was sad because I sold goats that we had raised from the bottle, raised for several years.  They are now grown, raising their own kids.

This is where pruning is not so easy.  It  is necessary.  It is needed in life.  It is needed in our homes.  It is needed in our businesses.  It hurts.  It stings.  It does not feel natural.

One of my favorite scriptures, however, ties this up perfectly, John 15:1-2.  I convert it to my life, my business life, my farm life.  In part, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

So, I take huge leaps, and I take baby steps.  I do this with a goal in mind – to do what is right, not what is easy, not what is comfortable, to produce fruitful branches.

Taking the leap of faith.

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness

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I treasure Seth Godin’s work.  Even when I do not agree with what he has to say, he still makes me think.

A recent post on Seth’s blog, titled Stick To What You (Don’t) Know, hit home with me.  Seth’s words, “No one knows more about the way you think than you do. Applying that approach, combining your experience, taking a risk–this is what we need from you.”

That is what I need from me.  That is what you need from you.  That is what we ALL need from each other.  People are not born experts.  And even the experts are still learning.  When you lead you step forward, you trust in yourself to say the right thing at the right time.  You just do.

Believe in yourself, what you have to say, what you do.  Do it for yourself without fear.


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Imperfections are beautiful.

I think of people, embracing differences.  I think of soap, embracing the beauty of handmade, made from scratch.  We do not cut off the uniqueness from either.  Instead, we celebrate the character.

Love yourself.  Love who you are.  No discounting allowed.

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness

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small business branding

No, I am not talking about taking a red-hot cattle prod, sticking it on you back-side to leave a unique mark.

What I am talking about is your presence on life.

Even if you do not represent or own a business, are you leaving your mark on life responsibly?

Are you being responsible in the sense that you promote positive feelings in others? Are you speaking in words that uplift, or are you speaking in words that leave other’s pondering, perhaps dragging them down with you? Are you speaking in words that etch out your future, the future that you are in control of?

When you write online (a blog post or comments, Facebook status updates and comments, Twitter updates) are you enjoying the freedom of speech (it isn’t always about fluffy soft place), yet, ensuring you represent yourself with dignity? If not, you may be branding yourself for failure.

Everything you do in life is a part of who you are.  If you are a business owner, you are a separate being from your business.  But what you do, each and every footprint, each and every word, each and every decision, is a part of you, and you as the business owner are a part of your brand.  No, you are not Campbell’s Soup, or Tide laundry detergent, but you are ______ (fill in your name) who has the reigns in their hands that will lead their own horse-drawn team into a more positive future (for yourself and others), or you can lead it into the trenches.  Tow trucks are expensive and can leave ruts that stick around for years.

I am not heading into the trenches if I can keep from it.

Are you?

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness

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Your Job Matters

There are things in life that I wish could change.

The first is, I would love to flip a switch so every living being could see their own talents, their own gifts, and I would love to see them find their “oomph,” a sense of empowerment, to make their unique gifts work for them in life.

I also would like to flip the switch to the “on position” for people who do not see the value of the jobs they do in life.

Flipping a hamburger may not be what you want to do.  You may not want to sweep the carpet.  You may not want to be a bank teller.  You may not want to drive a truck.  Regardless of what you are doing right now, with the exception of unethical work, what you do is a valuable part of the puzzle of life.

When you flip that hamburger, do the people you respond to (the customer standing behind the counter, your manager, your co-workers), know that you are making an effort to complete a part of someone’s day?

When you drive that truck, do you realize that your attitude affects 100’s, or even 1000’s on the road?

When you make that bar of soap, are you honest and careful with your ingredients, knowing that someone is trusting you to their skincare? Do you realize that each bar of soap that you make reflects on your entire industry?

Do your job sloppily as a customer service representative and watch how many lives you affect.  You affect your own demeanor, the well-being of the company you work for, and you affect the person at the other end of the phone conversation.

Here is how I see our work in life:  there is nothing wrong with not liking what we do.  We all do a lot of things that we may not 100% enjoy in life.  Money is a necessity for keeping the lights on.  But, we are very much like ants.  Yes, ants.  Each ant has a job.  One carries a blade of grass.  One carries dirt to build the anthill.  Notably, ants do not complain.  They may spat occasionally, but they do not stop working to display a single ounce of protest.  It is about teamwork.  Does an ant need to be told what to do?

In the human workforce, I see levels of responsibilities, of course, but I also see each and every service performed as a level part of the big picture.  As I write this, I am part of a picture, part of your picture.  Part of a business picture.  Part of a human picture.  We are all on that very same level.  We contribute in one way, shape, or form.

And then there is what I call “dropping the ball.”  Deliberately, because you see no value in your contributions in life.  A person CAN change their role, but until that happens, be responsible for your puzzle piece (your job, your contribution).  Protect it to ensure it still fits the puzzle securely until it is handed to someone else.  Be responsible for your business (or what you do in life), what you say, how you do it, and, #1, be responsible to the people you come in contact with.

You have no excuse.

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness

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business strategy

Many years ago I became interested in football.  The player that caught my attention was quarterback Joe Montana, with the San Francisco 49’ers.  This is what I saw: strategy, control, focus and amazing accuracy.

Moving on to Indianapolis, my home-town.  A city that received the Colts in the middle of a dark and rainy night, October 31, 1984.  The team came in on buses, from Baltimore, Maryland.  With that team came running back Eric Dickerson.  I will never forget how he could simply extend an arm out to stop a play.  He was focused.  He meant business.  My eyes were glued on Eric.

I will admit, I did not watch much football this year.  Peyton Manning suffered from an injury, the Indianapolis Colts didn’t succeed well without him on the field.  But someone close to Payton did, that would be his brother Eli.

Yesterday I watched a recording of Eli Manning on the Tonight Show with David Letterman.

I did not see a football player sitting in Dave’s armchair.  I saw Eli Manning a manager.

Eli Manning with a move of a foot directs his team members to do what Eli sees fit on the field.

Eli gauges the temperature of his competitors, he gauges the placement of his players, he looks at the clock, he knows who is on the field, he knows the boundaries, he knows what has to be done, and he strategizes.

Eli Manning also knows to accommodate and make changes as needed.  He is determined.  He sticks with who he is, and what he is.

Eli may be a football player, but I see him as a leader.  He has a team.  He has a focus.  His job is very much like small business.  He knows the product that he needs to produce, and he produces it well.  When the work is done, he shakes the hands of his opponents and he stands strong to his will.

Who does not want to win the Super Bowl? The super bowl in life, that is, knowing that we have done the best that we can do.  We may not wear several MVP rings, and we may not want (nor earn) millions of dollars.  But we can move forward with focus and strategy, meeting and exceeding our life goals, but also not letting others down as we plunge through the end zone.

I want to do that.  Don’t you?

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness

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I did say no resolutions (for myself).  If you are successful at them, then I urge you to keep them.  Me, and quite a few other people, probably not so much.

I read an article a few weeks ago regarding multi-tasking (here), This Year, Resolve To Do Less Multi-Tasking via CNNMoney (“Plenty of people believe that doing several things at once makes them more productive. In fact, the opposite is true”).  Granted, none of us are Boeing (at least not that I know of), but 64% is a huge number when it is statistical data that reflects increased productivity after a focus on less multi-tasking.

“Many people boast about their multitasking prowess on their resumes and in job interviews,” he adds. “But in reality, this is like saying, ‘I don’t get things done as quickly, or as well, as others do.'”

So, what really is multi-tasking? And why does it seem women are especially good at it?

Business Insider says (here): “Multi-tasking makes us dumber, less productive, and neither gender is better at it”

I agree more with comments in the article in TheWeek (here).  “While ancient men were responsible primarily for hunting and gathering, women had to tend to the children, the house and all the other activities of daily living,” he said. “Over the years, women may have retained this ability, translating into an improved ability to multitask.”

Ladies, don’t get excited, the article goes on to drop the bomb (quote):  So if I’m a woman, multitasking makes me more efficient? “Actually, probably not. There is evidence that multitasking is a drag on productivity for pretty much everyone, regardless of gender. The reason for that relates to basic structure of brain: The right and left hemispheres cooperate when working on a single task, says multitasking researcher Dr. Etienne Koechlin of France’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research. “But in two tasks, one hemisphere covers the reward of one task and the other hemisphere covers the reward of the other.” That, unfortunately, applies to both genders.

So, if we are stressed, trying to juggle several tasks at once, are we becoming less efficient even though we feel we are knocking out the list fast and furious? Probably less efficient.  What are we missing?

The ugly reality: Did I really miss paying that bill, and why? Oh, I was on Facebook, flipping back and forth between Pay The Bills on my bank account and Facebook.  Sound the alarm – late fees.  Did I really forget to turn the spigot off when refilling the smaller container of olive oil? Yes, I was checking on a recipe, and looking at packaging, and checking my phone, while the bottle was filling.  Sound the alarm – one hour of clean up in the studio.  Did I really miss that step when I fell to the ground? Sound the alarm – it hurt when I realized I was on the ground and was not thinking about safety first.

What do you think? Are we good at multi-tasking? Can we really multi-task and be efficient? Is there a sliding scale? “I can multi-task at this (fill in the blank), but not while doing that (fill in the blank).”

For now, for me, no resolutions, just mini virtual vacations to Tahiti (if only for a moment), rather than allowing the multi-task focused mind to jump by leaps and bounds.  Focusing on one task cannot be all that boring!

Results forthcoming.

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness!

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Owning a small business isn’t all about rosy smelling flowers in the garden.  Operating a business definitely has expected up and down moments.

Last night I experienced what I’ll call long moments of “up” times as I wheeled the cart around the soap studio gathering lotions, soaps and supplies for customer shipments.

I thought about the gentleman that called a few days ago.  He is 80 years old and said that he is taking care of his terminally ill 78-year-old girlfriend.  The couple had attended a craft show 10 years ago.  She wanted Rosemary goat milk soap.  He refused to purchase the soap for her.  He said to me, “Wouldn’t that have been a small thing to have made her happy?” With a tear in my eye, I replied, “We’ll take care of this now.”  He said, “You know, that stuff stinks! But she wanted it and she should have had it when she wanted it.  It makes her happy.”  I agree.  Let’s put a smile of her face today.  God bless that man.

One of our customers loves a particular essential oil blend that we work into our products.  After purchasing our soap for nearly a year she told me, “The scent reminds me of the cologne that my deceased brother used to wear.”  Apparently her brother loved to mix and match his scents.  The first time she purchased the soap from us she said she was taken back, she was filled with memories.  She recently said that she wanted so badly to make Christmas gifts for her family (potpourri and other items) with our blend.  In her next order I included a 1 ounce bottle of the essential oil blend, with the promise that she send pictures of the Christmas gifts.  She asked, “Even if they look like they were made by a 1st grader?”  Yep, I will hold her to it!

See, life gets tough, business gets tough.  It all gets tough.  But there are moments, and I treasure them, that simply are not irreplaceable.  The customers that cannot decide which soaps to order, the customers that consistently send emails to me, “Throw in what you like.  I love it all.”  Those are the times I absolutely cherish, and realize that, my personal dream, what I have put into this business (hours and a lot of hard work), and what I get back (I cannot do this alone – it is you that makes it happen), is what REALLY COUNTS!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness!

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Recently I have looked deeper into where I spend our money.  Yes, this decision is due to our (seemingly) shaky economy.  But it isn’t a matter of running to the cheapest place I can find to save some dollars.

My outlook is that small business is vital to the economic state of our country.

So, I have been making a very diligent effort to make my purchases at businesses that are as small as possible.  Yes, it means I spend a few more dollars.  But, think of about, if everyone stopped putting money in the hands of the big-big boys, and instead put their money in the hands of the individuals that own small businesses, what does that do for the economy, or even the local area? I see business owners (your neighbors and local folks) that could afford to buy fuel, food, Christmas gifts, repair their homes, and the list goes on.  If I were to make all of my purchases at the big-name department stores who am I helping? How does that help the individual? I am not sure that it does.

In the wake of Small Business Saturday (one day a year), I would like to see Small Business Saturday every week.  Or every day.

How can we go about doing this? We start small, of course.  Baby steps.  I pledge to begin #smallbizeveryday! Can we start a wave? Or, has the wave already started, and can we make it larger?

I pledge!

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness!

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Fairly often I find people to be inspirational, like I did here, the business-owner who genuinely cares about her customers, and here, the elderly person that said wisely “to never quit.”

Yesterday, after being invited into his office to use a fax machine, I realized just how inspirational a particular real estate agent (unamed on purpose in this post) is as a business owner and as a person.

What I see is an older gentlemen that hops on his scooter, in his sharp business suit, donning a helmet (like a Harley rider might…giving the hired help a giggle-of-their life), riding in and out of construction sites with no fear, and visiting college dorms to ensure the maintenance calls are being met.

So, what is so striking about all of that?

He gives.  While I was in his office he ensured I had a pen, and an umbrella (for the upcoming rain), and a comfortable seat.  As he handed a soda to me, he said it might be “less than ice-cold.”  Trust me, it was cold!

He ensures politeness emits from his lips.  He ensures the humans around him are comfortable.  Yet, he gets on his scooter, fearlessly, taking care of business, making sure each job is completed, not caring what anyone thinks.  He does not fit into anyone’s mirror image.  He is focused.  He is precise.  And I can see how he has done as well as he has in life.  What an image.

I hope I can leave a smidget of such a good impression on people.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could do one-on-one business with many more individuals on such a human playing field?

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness

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