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Limiting Language & Thoughts

Why does the weekend fly by?

Why do you let it?

How you talk to yourself is limiting you. “I can’t do that.” “I can’t understand that, did you see how long the contract was?”

How you think about activities is limiting you.

Exhibit A: I hate Mondays.

What are you waiting for?

What are you afraid of?

Why?

Whether you dream of starting your own business or taking your career to the next level, we all have obstacles standing in our way to achieve our goals – and most of them reside between your ears.

That’s right – it’s your fault you aren’t where you want to be!

Who else can you blame?

As soon as you do place the blame outside of yourself, that is where it will reside forever. What an easy solution!

Your job isn’t to find the barriers, it is to find a way around, over, or through.

What’s your path today?

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3 Reasons Your Tomatoes Won’t Ripen

It’s the end of July, you planted your tomatoes over 2 months ago & the seed packet said you’d be able to harvest fruit in 60 days – why aren’t your tomatoes ripening & turning red?

There could be a few different factors playing a role in the ripening. But why do tomatoes turn red anyways?

  1. Temperature – This is the biggest factor in your tomatoes ripening. Here in Ohio, we typically don’t plant until around Mother’s Day. 60 days later we are expecting tomatoes; during the hottest time of the year. For the last week it has been over 90 degrees. The chemicals that make tomatoes red – lycopene & carotene – are only produced when the temperature is 50-85°F. If you’re outside of this range, the ripening process is on hold until you get some relief from the heat!
  2. Size/Variety – Size does matter when it comes to tomatoes ripening! I have already harvested some cherry tomatoes from rogue plants that grew from last year, but those Beefsteak tomatoes have got a ways to go! Patience, young grasshopper.20170723_180037
  3. Maturity Level – A little different from the previous point and maybe this seems a little common sense. Maturity is more than just the time a tomato spends on the vine. Again, the ripening process comes down to natural chemicals. When a tomato reaches maturity, it begins producing ethylene which then reacts with the tomatoes to cause them to turn red. You can use this knowledge to save any tomatoes that may have accidentally gotten knocked off the vine – put tomatoes in a paper bag & if they’re mature enough, they should produce ethylene and ripen over a few days.20170723_175729

Tomatoes are a tough crop to grow, but with a little patience & cooperation from Mother Nature, you can have salsa all summer! If you have any questions on How to Grow Tomatoes – check my guide here!

 

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Garlic Guide: Growing, Harvesting & Storing

It is the end of July here in Ohio. Normally it’s scorching hot & we’re dancing between 90-100 degrees at this time of the year, but this summer’s been a little cooler & a lot wetter. Since it’s getting to be July-August area, the garlic that you planted this past spring should be ready to harvest! But how do you know when the time is right to harvest your garlic? Here’s a simple guide below, plus you can check out my latest YouTube video that will give you a visual how-to guide for harvesting & storing Garlic.

Hardneck vs. Softneck

There are 2 different types of Garlic – each one has its own benefits, but the type you plant will depend on what your goals are. Below is more detailed info.

Hardneck varieties are more winter-hardy are characterized by a long, flowering stem (called a scape) growing from the middle. The scape will produce a pod that contains bulbils, which are smaller versions of garlic gloves & can be planted in the same way. Hardneck varieties form a single layer of cloves.

Softneck varieties have a stem that is softer & it is much less winter-hardy. When you see garlic braided – it is a softneck variety. This type does not have a scape that reproduces bulbils & that may be the reason that softneck can have bulbs yielding anywhere from 8-30 cloves per bulb! Compare that with hardneck varieties that typically yield 4-12 cloves per bulb – but the scape could contain hundred of bulbils!

(What is a bulbil?) A bulbil is basically a garlic seed that forms in the scape of hardneck types. They are much smaller & may take up to 3-4 years before you get a full-sized bulb!

Planting

  • Prepare beds that are 3-4′ wide, till in compost/manure and make sure beds are accessible from both sides (2 foot reach from each side).
  • Break cloves apart – the first year I grew garlic, I planted a whole bulb and didn’t realize I could have ended up with 20 bigger bulbs instead of the weird harvest I got!
  • Space cloves 4-6″ depending on the variety & how much space you want to give your plants. Closer planting may mean less weeds, but could also mean less room for your plants to grow.

Growing

Garlic really doesn’t require too much care.

  • Make sure you don’t over-water. This can lead to root rot and/or fungal issues. Water every 3-5 days.
  • Pull weeds weekly to keep the nutrients flowing to the good guys.

Pest Control

Garlic is a natural insect repellent! The smell keeps a lot a pests out of the garden ranging from bugs to deer. I like to plant Garlic & Basil with my Tomatoes to help keep everyone pest free as naturally as possible!

Harvesting

When the tops of your garlic plants begin to get yellowed, or start dying, that is the time to harvest.

  • Gently dig up with shovel, spading fork, or trowel.
  • Brush off dirt/mud.
  • Keep wrappers on bulbs in-tact.

Storing

  • Hang in cool, airy place to dry & cure for 2-3 weeks.
  • You can braid softneck varieties to save space.
  • Flavors will intensify after curing.

Growing garlic is fairly easy – the hardest part is bending over to plant & weed, but there’s not too much maintenance in-between! Garlic can store for up to 6 months, so if you planted a lot, you’ve still got time. And if you really have too much, hit up your local farmer’s market & you’ll sell out in no time.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to drop me a line AND please feel free to check out my most recent YouTube video on “How to Harvest & Store Garlic”.

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Spirits in the Park

Why do these Spirits visit me?

Throughout my life I have been visited several times by what I call Spirits.

These are not ordinary people. Not that people are ordinary, but you have ordinary interactions with them – they wave & smile as we pass, or they pet the dog as I take out one earbud to signal I’m friendly enough to say “Hi”, but it also says I’m on a mission to walk my dog, not talk or get caught in the rain.

Today was different.

Any time – all Time – is different when you run into one of the Spirits.

Today, I took a slightly different route – nothing too crazy, but had to go on a longer walk/run to clear the mind & wear my hyper pupper out a little bit. We only added about 5-10 minutes by going up to a park a little further up the bike path we normally walk on. We get through the park, and I look both ways to cross the street. Twiggy & I began walking until I triple-checked and saw a van come out of nowhere.

I motioned the van to go ahead and go even though they were doing the same thing to me. As this van pulls up, the window rolls down and – to quote one of my favorite movies, Emperor’s New Grove – a woman who was scary beyond all reason was smiling at me. We exchanged hellos & I figured that would be all until she starts to pull the van over and says let me show you what I got in my pocket.

My stomach dropped a little bit, but I didn’t feel I had anything to worry about – maybe she had a dog treat or something, seems like we are always running into people who will do that or just chat for a bit – no problem.

It’s really strange to say, but I feel like I knew her; like she was a long-lost family member or something – your Mam-maw’s third cousin who stayed in Tennessee & you only met once but you were too little to remember. She then comes over to me & starts pulling these items out of her pocket; each one of the items is associated with a pun.

Puns – [toilet paper] to keep your crap off me, [leaf so you leaf me alone], [piece of wood] wood you be my friend, [bolt] to screw you down if you’re screwed up, [5 pennies] and some ‘cents'(sense) in case you’re missing some. She then proceeds to say guys have 3 knees – left knee, right knee, wee-knee. And then goes on to ask if I know what the thing in-between women’s boobs is called – “belly button, hope I don’t ever have to worry about that!”

Obviously I was uncomfortable, but what do you do? This lady continued to go on to tell me about some stuff that had happened to her in the past & talked about her friends’ marriages – it was all over the place! But I stood there & listened to her for a few minutes until I finally parted ways & continued the walk with Twiggy.

With the mysterious van behind me, I readjusted my headphones, waited until I heard the van start before I hit play & walked towards home shaking my head.

“Why do I always run into people that want to tell me these crazy things?”

“Why do people always want to talk to me?”

“I hope she doesn’t follow me & figure out where I live.”

Feeling a little paranoid, I turned around and the van was nowhere to be seen; I wasn’t even sure it was really there to begin with.

I told Kyla about the encounter & she wasn’t really surprised – she just said I need to “watch out for critters on the path”.

Fast forward to grocery shopping this weekend. We decide to go to a store that we NEVER go to. I’m standing there on my phone, I put it in my pocket & I am waiting for Kyla to put something in the cart when I look up & this lady who is scary beyond all reason is standing right behind Kyla. I swear she just appeared out of thin air! I didn’t see her walking – nobody saw her walking. Hell, it was like nobody saw us standing in the middle of the aisle when she starts pulling things out of her pockets:

Puns – [toilet paper] to keep your crap off me, leaf so you leaf me alone, [piece of wood] wood you be my friend, [bolt] to screw you down if you’re screwed up, [5 pennies] and some ‘cents'(sense) in case you’re missing some. She then proceeds to say guys have 3 knees – left knee, right knee, wee-knee. And then goes on to ask if we know what the thing in-between women’s boobs is called – “belly button, hope I don’t ever have to worry about that!”

At that point we just continued to walk – I knew Kyla was extremely uncomfortable. I was honestly so surprised that this spirit was a “real person” – what could I do? I sat there awestruck as she pelted us with puns; knowing full-well every line that was getting ready to come out of her mouth.

As we finally got away, she gave us a smile and a “thank you for laughing with me” and then she just stopped as we walked away. She continued to stand there watching us & then suddenly disappeared as if she was never there in the first place.

Needless to say, that encounter left us both a little disturbed; as if something was missing from us. What a strange occurrence – and this was the second time it had happened to me!

So what do you make of something like this? I’ve been stopped by a lot of people who talk about God, angels, or prophecy, but I feel as though this occurrence has significance as well – but what?

There are so many people in the world who don’t say enough, who don’t try to reach out, and yet this woman felt the need to do this to us – twice. When someone feels comfortable enough to approach you, what are you supposed to do? Just ignore them? Something told me to stop & listen. I feel as if it was a test of some sort. Like God was testing us to see how we would react; how we would treat someone who didn’t appeal to the senses – or sense in general.

Treat others how you want to be treated. Take time to get to know a stranger. And stay safe out there! 🙂

 

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How To Grow Tomatoes: the Gardening for Gains Guide

Solanum Lycopersicum; Lycopersicum esculentum

Determinate vs. Indeterminate – what type is best for you?

When I first starting gardening, I had no idea about the differences in tomatoes plant types – I just wanted to grow tomatoes! There is a really big difference between the 2 plants & it is important to know these differences and how each plant should be cared for.

Determinate Tomato Plants – these are the “bush-type” varieties of tomatoes. Typically they will grow 3-4 feet tall & 3 feet wide. They do not require pruning and tomato cages are probably your best bet for plant supports – my Grandpa drives a stake in by the plant & has fencing along one side of his that keep them supported & fruiting all summer long. Determinate varieties set fruit all at once & then they are done producing for the year, unlike Indeterminate tomatoes which produce all year long.

Indeterminate Tomato Plants – these are “vining” varieties that tend to grow more vertically. Typically they will grow between 4-6 feet tall & 2-3 feet wide. They do require pruning – remove the bottom third of branches, and prune and “suckers” that emerge between the main stem & a branch. Those suckers will basically form another head to your tomato plant. You may think this is a good thing, but it will actually suck a lot of energy from the plant & is not ideal for optimal fruit production. With proper care, Indeterminate varieties will produce fruit all year long (or until the frost gets them).

Spacing

  • 24-36″ between plants, 4-6′ between rows (room for plants to grow & accounts for 2′ walking path).

Height

  • Depending on type of plant, will grow 3-6′ tall, width 2-4′. That’s for the garden – some greenhouse varieties grow over 25′ tall!

Seeding

  • Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost date.
  • Can start in trays, but I am thinking about planting seeds straight into 4″ pots from the start next year. (Anybody with thoughts on this, would love to hear it in the comments!)

Transplanting

  • After danger of frost has past and soil temps warm to 60°, you can transplant into the garden.
  • Drop a couple tablespoons of Epsom salts in planting hole to prevent blossom end rot – also provides good source of Sulfur & Magnesium.
  • Plant your tomatoes deep – this will help establish deep, strong roots to help support the vine’s growth.

Fertilization

  • I generally mix a balanced fertilizer or manure into my garden before the year. Then wait 2-4 weeks after seedlings emerge for dry fertilizer & every 1-2 weeks after flowers & fruit have set.
  • Sprinkle Epsom salts in planting hole & soil surrounding Tomato-tone or balanced fertilizer.
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My organic pest management kit consisting of: Diatomaceous Earth, Monterey Complete Disease Control, Neem Oil, Neptune’s Harvest Hydrolyzed Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer, and my Jacto Sprayer

Cages & Stakes

Stakes

  • Best for Indeterminate varieties (vining tomatoes).
  • Place stake in ground @ time of planting to avoid harming roots later in growth cycle.
  • Metal – may want to use one with coating over metal to prevent hot metal on sensitive plants. These are great because they last multiple seasons.
  • Wood – may last a few seasons, very sturdy, solid support for plants.
  • Bamboo – most cost-effective & I have used them the last couple years with good results. Typically want to use one year to avoid the potential to spread disease.

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Cages

  • Best for Determinate varieties (bush tomatoes).
  • Place over tomato after planting.
  • Cage should be 4-5 feet tall.
  • Be mindful of the gauge of wire being used & check the welds to make sure you’re getting a quality product!
  • Can be used multiple years.
  • Several different sizes, shapes, colors.

Trellis – Florida Weave

This is my first year using the Florida weave method – I think my mom tagged me in something about it? Or maybe I found it while looking at a customer’s website? Either way, it’s an awesome alternative to traditional staking.

  • Drive stakes every 4-6′, in-between the tomato plants. Use wood so that you don’t have as much flex in your stakes as I am having with bamboo!
  • As the plants grow they will need to be supported.
  • Tie twine on the end stake.
  • Run it along one side of the plants.
  • When you get to another stake, wrap the twine around the stake a few times to hold it tight.
  • Continue down the row.
  • When you get to the end of the row, go down the other side of the plants – this gives stability to both sides, and essentially creates a long, narrow tomato cage.

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Water needs

  • Irrigation types – Drip irrigation, soaker hoses, hand-watering.
  • Water @ base of plants to avoid damaging foliage.
  • Keep water consistent – large amounts of water will cause fruit to split.
  • Containers will dry out faster than in-ground grown tomatoes & will require more attention – good opportunity for drip irrigation.
  • Soaker hoses should be placed ~6″ from the base of plants & buried a few inches to promote the water to spread through the soil.
  • Tomatoes need about 1-1.5 inches of water per week – keep them hydrated, not saturated!

General Maintenance

  • Pinching suckers – Indeterminate tomatoes require pruning, Determinate do not.
20170605_162353-e1497257809477.jpg
Notice the “suckers” growing between a branch & the main stem. These need to be pinched or clipped off to keep the plant growing vertically and to keep the plant to 1 main stem.
  • Pinching Flowers – It sounds counter-productive, but in the early stages of growth, you need to pinch flowers that emerge too early. Doing this will allow the plant to focus on growing in other aspects (height, leafy growth) to support the production of fruit.
  • Fertilize – I fertilize at time of planting by putting Epsom salts in the planting hole. This supplements plants with sulfur & magnesium, and will help with overall plant health, and help to prevent blossom end rot. Fertilize @ planting with Epsom salts & your fertilizer of choice. Then once fruit sets, fertilize every 1-2 weeks to keep them healthy, growing strong, and yielding tons of tomatoes! Fertilization after the initial planting can be done with any variety of products – the easiest way to go would be to throw some Tomato-tone Fertilizer around the base of the plant. This will be incorporated into the soil when you water & I had really great luck with it last year. This year I am testing out a hydrolyzed fish & seaweed fertilizer – plants are loving it so far!
  • Pulling Weeds – a necessary evil of gardening, weeding can be done while you’re already pinching suckers & pruning your plants. Weeds will suck up the nutrients around your tomatoes, so get them outta there!

Weed Management

I think pulling weeds is kind of therapeutic. It makes you stop and focus on a “mundane” task – but you know it is essential to your garden’s success, so you suck it up. But there are other options to help prevent pulling so many weeds!

  • Groundcover Fabric – Water-permeable material that will allow the soil to breathe, but suppress weeds. You can cut holes in the fabric where your plants will go. A lot of people will use this in conjunction with drip irrigation.
  • Mulch – a natural, dye-free mulch will suppress weeds & help retain soil moisture in the same way it does in your landscape & also add some organic material to your garden.
  • Mulch Films – similar to groundcover, this will block weeds & help retain moisture. There are also red films that are supposed to increase your yields (testing this out this summer & that will discussion will be a semi-scientific article from the research I’ve done so far).

Pest Management

You’re not the only one who wants to eat your tomatoes – here are some tips on pests & what to do to control them.

  • Pests include – aphids, tomato hornworms, whitefly, among many, many more.
  • Neem Oil – this is my favorite organic pest control product. It smells citrusy and goes to work instantly – I swear I see the bugs bolt immediately and they stay away until we get a few good rains.
  • Diatomaceous Earth – this is my first year experimenting with this stuff & so far it’s had really positive results. You can apply diatomaceous earth as a dusting or mix it into a slurry. I opted for the slurry and was really pleased. Even with the heavy downpours we’ve had in Ohio this summer, that stuff really sticks to the plants’ leaves. Be careful that you don’t overcoat the plants – it may prevent/restrict growth if you suffocate it. Again, this is an organic product.
  • Basil – plant Basil around your Tomatoes & it will help to repel some insects with its aromatic foliage.

Disease Management

Tomatoes are usually bred to have pest or disease-resistance, but that doesn’t guarantee that will be the case. There are some simple steps you can take to ensure your tomatoes will survive & not suffer from diseases or pests. The most important this when it comes to disease is not necessarily treatment, but rather, your plan should be focused on prevention.

  • Epsom Salts – put a few tablespoons in the planting hole. This will supply the plant with 2 crucial elements: Magnesium, and Sulfur. Along with Calcium you would call these secondary nutrients (of secondary importance to the macronutrients of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium), but the role they plant in the plants health is critical. Calcium, magnesium, and sulfur are required by plants for normal healthy growth and help fortify & strengthen the cell walls (important in new growth as well as existing). The secondary nutrients basically work in conjunction with the macronutrients – helping make them more available, assisting in nutrient delivery & uptake (please drop some knowledge on me if I’m out of line saying this!)
  • Neem Oil – I swear, this stuff is awesome. Not only does it take care of insects & pests, but is also listed for several diseases and fungal infestations!
  • Copper Fungicide – Copper fungicides are considered as preventative, not curative – but so are most products. If you have gotten to a point of noticing a disease taking hold of a whole plant, you’re probably too late. Prevention is always the best method of control – it’s like putting sunscreen on before going to the beach.
  • Complete Disease Control – this Monterey product is a biofungicide/bactericide – bio meaning this is a live product. The active ingredient is a naturally occurring strain of the beneficial bacterium Bacillus amyloliquefaciens. This is my first year using this product, but given the fact that we’ve had buckets of rain poured over this season and my plants are still okay – is a good sign! The really great thing is that this product is so safe that you can use it up to the day of harvest – and it’s certified Organic as well!

Harvest

  • Leave tomatoes on the vine as long as possible, picking when fruits ripen to red.
  • Heavier varieties may need to be given extra support, or pulled when green. Let it ripen in a cool, dark place – not in a sunny windowsill as this may damage the skin of the tomato.

Storage

Videos will be coming in the next couple weeks as all of my tomato plants are fruiting like crazy right now! (You can see those on the [once] greatly neglected Gardening for Gains YouTube Channel – I PROMISE MORE IS ON THE WAY SOON!) If I don’t learn how to make a perfect sauce, I’ll end up buried in tomatoes from the 55 plants we have blooming.

  • Do not store in sunny areas (unless you want sun-dried tomatoes)
  • Do not store in the fridge (unless you make salsa or pico)
  • Salsa
  • Pico de Gallo
  • Canning – Tomato Sauces & Pastes
  • Freezing

Supplies needed

  • Seeds
  • Soil mix
  • Growing trays
  • Grow lights if you don’t have south-facing window for seedlings
  • Epsom Salts
  • Tomato-tone Fertilizer
  • Stakes – bamboo, fiberglass, steel, wood.
  • Plant Tying materials
  • Sisal/Jute Twine (Florida weave method)
  • Sprayer to apply fertilizers/treatments
  • Drip irrigation / soaker hoses / sprinklers
  • Canning Jars
  • Patience, Passion, and Persistence! I used to hate growing tomatoes, but now I just love the challenge & the reward!

Really hope that this guide has given you a somewhat detailed roadmap to successfully grow tomatoes! Please like, comment, follow AND PLEASE let me know if you have any wisdom to contribute to this tomato growing guide!

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The Importance of Context in Customer Service

In customer service, how you say something is 800 million times more important than what you say. I am so blown away at how personally people take their jobs – or not even that, but how they take inquiries as a personal offense. Check out this response I saw to a customer inquiry in the comments section of a blog:

“Anita, we’ll try to help you—but you have to help yourself. Books have been written about growing tomatoes, and we’ve condensed decades (nay, centuries!) of advice into this website. Here are some pages to explore, note, and return to regularly. As your plant grows, you may need/want to repot it. You might need/want to stake it. You need to give it lots of sunshine and water it regularly. Here is some advice on doing so. Welcome to the garden!”

First off, what a slap-in-the-face statement. She is helping herself! That’s exactly why Anna read your article & commented! In my opinion, this would be a missed opportunity because of how backhanded it is. You begin by belittling the customer & telling them to basically suck it up. Then talk about how much work has been put into the website, the vast amounts of knowledge available, yada, yada, blah, blah, Me, Me, Me. THEN they go on to being helpful by providing links to basic, helpful info. THEN they offer simple, basic, helpful knowledge. THEN it is “Welcome to the garden!”.

This is what a little perspective does.

“Anita, welcome to the garden! Here are some pages to explore, note, and return to regularly. As your plant grows, you may need/want to repot it. You might need/want to stake it. You need to give it lots of sunshine and water it regularly. We hope this helps, but there are other resources as well. Books have been written about growing tomatoes, and we’ve condensed decades (nay, centuries!) of advice into this website. Here is some advice on doing so.”

You can just about read that first response backwards and it makes it a little less severe. But this is the perspective you need in Customer Service! Just look at those 2 words. Customer (not you). Service. Period.

Perhaps this is a little bit of a rant, but brands need to be conscious; they need to realize they’re dealing with people, not just tasks & notifications. We all need to realize that we are not just dealing with customers, clients, leads, patients – we are working with people. 

And maybe I’m being hyper-sensitive on this! I would love to hear your thoughts on this – comment & let me know what you think!

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9 Ways Sales Changed My Life

Does working in sales change your life? I stumbled across a LinkedIn article with this title by Adam Honig (check it out here) the other day & was immediately drawn in.

The cover picture is a before & after of a salesman. Pictured is a polished Shia LeBouf ‘First day in sales’ & a more rugged/unkempt-looking picture of him for the ‘One year later’ photo.

I love (and hate) that people have this perception of sales! However, Mr. Honig did not write an article about how hard sales was & how it will kill your spirit, but laid out the foundations of what it takes to be a salesperson, the pros & cons of being in sales and how it will ultimately change your life.

Currently, I am an Account Manager with AM Leonard. That’s a fancy title for salesman, but it is definitely much more than sales; it is customer service, accounting, marketing, being a shipping specialist – simply put, anything to ease our customer’s woes & make their lives easier by seeking out & providing solutions.

So how has Sales changed me?

  • Helped me structure day / manage time – I’m not well-known for my ability to plan things out – I usually go for the wing-it approach, or following my gut. But in sales, you need a little more method than madness. Intuition plays a pivotal role, but without a clear end-goal supported by a detailed roadmap, you could be driving in circles and not even know it. As a younger salesperson, I am finding balance between continually cultivating relationships with existing customers, hot, warm, and cold leads – and different customer types. All of these demographic titles assist with the structuring of my day, but once you know your customers, it becomes much more than a demographic – it is a living, breathing thing that needs to be cared for.
  • Forced me out of my comfort zone – I believe that the best in people is brought out when they’re outside of their comfort zones. I enjoy sitting on the couch, watching ‘The Office’ in the mornings – it’s incredibly comfortable; I know I’m going to laugh, be able to relax, and enjoy myself. On the other hand, if I don’t do my daily morning yoga, my body will be in so much pain that I won’t be able to sit still. I won’t write anything creatively for myself or for my blog; that incompleteness to my pre-conceived plans will leak into the day and be that nagging “thing you wanted to do, but didn’t have time”. You have time. We all have Time if we have a desire strong enough & are willing to endure an uncomfortable situation for the Greater Good.
  • Understanding my value – this was a little bit of a tough one at first – I understood my value, but I also understood why people were mad for me calling them, or that they were busy. And conjoining those two ideas is where I find part of my value – I know I can help you AND I understand that you are busy or get sales calls all the time, what can I do to best help you. The biggest value that anybody can provide is a promise to back your value AND then delivering on those promises. Communicating value by words is how a business relationship can begin, but actions speak louder than words.
  • Improved communication – once you understand your value, communication is easy. You have supplies. Your customers need supplies. They need your supplies because x, y, z. Necessity is another thing that improved my communication. In sales, you’re always looking to expand your offerings to customers & key accounts and communication is crucial in maneuvering through organizations to reach all potential decision-makers. The more communication, the more you will expand your business; the more you will become an asset to your customers.
  • Feeds appetite for knowledge & continued education – this is the nerd in me speaking out. I love learning. There is so much to learn in the Green Industry between landscapers, growers, government agencies, universities, and all of the processes involved in their businesses. I’ve always had an interest in gardening & growing plants – both of my science fair projects in 5th & 6th grade were based on growing plants with different variables. I didn’t end up studying in any of these fields (no pun intended), but love that I’m in the industry learning so much about growing plants in the field, in greenhouses and watching it in my own garden. Learning is important to me – and quite frankly, it should be for everyone. If you’re not learning, you’re staying stagnant; you’re limiting yourself. The world is changing & moving too fast for us to sit still!
  • Patience – like losing my first draft that I thought was great; greatness lies only in execution though, not intention.
  • Handling rejection & objection – sales is rejection; life is rejection. When I first began my journey in sales, there was a lot of rejection – maybe it was the way I was saying things, my tone, maybe I don’t have what it takes for sales. When you find your value, rejection looks a lot more like objection – and in objection, there is opportunity. This isn’t so much a ‘no’ as it is a ‘this better be good’. When someone asks why you’re calling, you better have a damn good reason!
  • Picking up the phone – for inside sales, for a lot of sales, we live by the phone, we die by the phone. This is the most convenient, ‘personal’ touch you can have without a Skype or video call. Lots of writers on LinkedIn seem to think the phone is dying, but when you’re in business, you’re in the people business. A live voice will provide a lot more comfort & promise than a colorful flyer that was blasted into every one of your accounts’ emails. Not that email blasts are bad – it all comes down to the value you provide to your customer. In my experience, the phone is the best way to handle tough situations that you need to fight for. In the case of negotiating pricing, delivering bad news, or anything serious – your customers need to hear your voice. They need to have the opportunity to be pissed at you. This is just an opportunity. How can you make this right?
  • Finding a way – this is the simple secret to sales & to life – when you want something bad enough, you’ll carve a path that leads you to your destination.

As a psychology major I never saw myself going into sales – I’m pretty sure I vowed to never take a sales job, but look where we are now! I love the industry, learning about my customers’ processes and all of the relationships I’m building all over the country along the way. Sales has changed me in a way, but I think it also just forced me to become my best Self – continually seeking knowledge & improvement to fully understand my customers, the industry, and ultimately, my Self.

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Everyday Glory

We all grow up with aspirations & inspirations for life, so what happens when we reach adulthood? Finding ourselves “in a rut” or “trapped in a cubicle”; lost in a world that promised us so much more. What happened to your inspiration? What happened to fighting your way to glory? And when did you lose all the power to do so?

When I think of glory, I imagine a football coach giving an inspirational speech; a player making an impossibly athletic & willful move to win the game – blood, sweat, tears and victory.

The problem is that our glory is a picture painted by symbols of what we believe to be victory or success; the ultimate glories of life are forgotten because the idea of success is what we chase instead of fanning the embers that lights the path towards true glory & success.

In other words, success is not a thing or an end goal, it is an action – a continual action of adapting & creating in order to build up to your ultimate goals. I think that we all have one big-huge-out-of-this-world goal, but do we expect to just magically have it one day without putting the work in?

When we think of people like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, professional athletes – we think that they are just talented beyond belief. Heightened, superior intelligences & abilities; they are the superhumans. But none of these people just stumbled upon success. Of course they are extremely talented, but to assume that is the only factor that led them to the top is absurd. Hard work, curiosity and a desire to learn, improve, & innovate is what separates them. The countless hours spent reading, coding, practicing, learning, succeeding, failing – it’s all about the quality time you pour into your passions.

The ultimate glory in life stems from the seeds planted by your everyday victories. It is easy to see yourself trapped in your situation or lacking motivation, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to you. If you are unhappy with your job, then move on. But ask yourself if you’ll be happy in your next role – or will it unfold the same way? Sometimes it is not the environment you are in, but what you are feeling within. When we struggle, I believe that people want to overcome – but people also do not want to fail! So rather than continue to fail they decide to move on. I think it is important to remember that failure is temporary & in the present moment; it can be painful, but it is only temporary!

There are millions of opportunities for success before,during & after failure – persistence is the key to overcoming failure, and failure is the key to evolving your ideas & strategy.

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5 Ways to Prevent Pullin’ Weeds

There is nothing that seems like more of a waste of time in the world than pullin’ weeds! If you’ve ever worked for a Grounds Crew or Landscaper, we all know that this task is reserved for the grunts & freshmen. The typical, “I don’t have anything for you to do, so go break your back pulling weeds and let me know when you’re done”. Almost always confusing you, thinking that was the secret maintenance signal to go “get lost” & come back before lunch. But I digress…

As a gardener, weeding is viewed through a much different lens – but not too different, bottom line is that it still sucks! Weeding left undone will only continue to multiply, so as hard as this is to do, just keep on it every single day or pick a couple days a week to dedicate to the sacred art. When they start poppin’ up, it doesn’t seem like a big deal – but you also don’t think you need a haircut until you already look like one of the Beatles.

  1. Weed Barrier Fabric – There are so many options in this category. Woven & non-woven ground covers are pretty ideal because they will allow water & nutrients to pass through them while suppressing weed growth. This eliminates the need for installing irrigation, although adding that to the garden is never a bad idea! Plastic mulch will suppress weeds while helping retain soil heat & moisture. You may be able to water the plants @ their bases, but irrigation in the form of soaker hoses or drip irrigation would be much more ideal (article coming soon on irrigation in the garden). Biodegradable paper mulch is the last fabric-type of product that I have heard of. This is basically kraft paper & works to suppress weeds through a more natural means. Over the season it will begin to breakdown & the great thing is the convenience of not having to remove it at the end of the season – a much more sustainable option with no waste!20170523_163135-1
  2. Mulch, Straw, and Rice Hulls – The first 2 options may look familiar, but you’re probably wondering what rice hulls are or could do for the garden – we’ll get there! With mulch & straw it is important to make sure you’re getting clean product with no viable weed seeds. Mulch should be free of dyes – this is not like your landscaping mulch. The point is for weed suppression & water retention, not necessarily the aesthetics of the color. I’ve never used straw, but with fellow gardeners I follow on Instagram, it seems to be working! My only worry would be the wind blowing straw away – anybody with experience, please comment & enlighten me! Rice Hulls are relatively new to the horticulture world, and most growers use them in pots, not necessarily on the ground. Since the hulls are parboiled, they are free of weed seeds, and they come in compressed bales of 7 or 30 cubic feet bags – so that would go a long ways in the garden! Basically the rice hulls will work in the same way as straw or mulch – suppressing weeds, but loose enough to allow air & moisture to pass through.
  3. Square Foot Gardening – I try to plant things as close as possible, so that I can get as much food as possible, plus the dense planting proximity will help suppress the weeds. This year I had a bed planted with garlic bulbils (Bulbils form when a garlic scape is allowed to mature & they take a couple years to mature). Since the bulbils grow very thin, I also had a ton of weeds popping up. Once Kyla & I pulled the weeds, we planted Tomatoes & Lettuce in any possible open spots. It’s working well so far & I’ve been pulling weeds as I prune the tomato plants – luckily I have ground cover or plastic mulch on my other beds & won’t have to do much weeding there! 20170528_200254
  4. Harvest the Weeds – Believe it or not, a lot of ‘weeds’ are nutritious & some are even considered ‘superfoods’. Here is a link to flowers & weeds that you can harvest & eat: 13 Edible Weeds and Flowers.
  5. Water & Pull – This is the good ole-fashioned way to garden. Water your plants and then go down the rows & get to pullin’! Weed-pulling while the ground is soft is optimal because the weeds will easily uproot.

Happy Gardening!