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Why Can’t I take a Step to Start Anything?

Spiral Staircase

Read Danny Neth‘s answer to Why can’t I take a step to start anything? on Quora

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Executing on my Dreams

Tomatoes on the vine

“Don’t justify your dreams, execute on them” – Gary Vaynerchuk

As I reflect on 2017, I realize that I spent a lot of time justifying my dreams. Writing a business plan, revising, revising, revising; all the while, questioning my motives, questioning whether I would want the outcome of my plans to be actualized.

And over & over again, the answer is a resounding

“NO QUESTION ABOUT IT!”

You have to start in a realistic place & begin to execute. My biggest failure this year was not participating in a Farmer’s Market – but I think there was a reason for it.

This past summer was a huge learning curve for me in the garden. Managing 50+ tomato plants, 60+ pepper plants, a small herb patch, 30+ heads of lettuce, as well as garlic & onions taught me a great deal about the amount of care & attention I had to feed the garden. And just like with your personal health – preventative pest & disease control always trumps curative approaches. It’s much easier to attempt to stop a problem before it occurs rather than trying to cure a plant of a disease.

Not going to the Farmer’s Market felt like a loss – especially since it was one of my New Year’s Resolutions, but here’s how NOT going actually helped me.

  • Learned how to be a grower first.
  • My motivation was internal, not pre-empted by a customer’s wish or desire. Customer service is incredibly important, but you need to serve your own soul first – once your soul’s desires have been quenched, then you can let the abundance overflow & everyone can share in the joy you find in growing.
  • Timing the seasons. This year I will have a much stricter plan, not start tomatoes & peppers as early, and have a rotation of crops to be sown & grown from early March until the frost hits in November.
  • Build awareness. I work at a horticultural tool & supply company and nearly everyone shares the same love I do for the garden, horticulture, and the Green Industry – it’s the best support system I could ever ask for. Yet even in the midst of that support I feel like I don’t want to ask too much of people. They’re coworkers & friends, so it’s hard to think about converting those people into paying customers – especially for something that comes from the land, something I find an immense amount of joy in – I am happy just to see the satisfaction on people’s faces when they have that fresh tomato, green tomatoes, peppers, or whatever delivered to their desk. So essentially, as my obsession grows, so does the awareness of my obsession with the people around me. I want to grow that passion as far, wide & high as I can.
  • Addiction to improvement. I love this about the garden. When I think back to the first garden I had 3 years ago, I’ve come so far! That was back when I thought everything would grow without complication. A time when I was afraid to use fertilizer on my plants. A time where I relied on faith more than knowledge (but faith is a very important thing to have in the garden), but my knowledge just continues to build – and it’s something I have an extreme desire to build. To build greenhouses, to build a farmhouse, to build my business in the sale of plants & produce.

So the next step to this execution on my Moonshot Master Plan is to build my customer base through a few different channels. In the physical world, that means a CSA (community supported agriculture). Essentially it is a weekly subscription box of fresh produce. I also plan on taking excess produce to the Farmer’s Market, but I am hoping to build a big enough following to cater solely to my Veggie Box program. And in the digital world, I will be building my channels through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, my YouTube channel, & my latest venture, my podcast on Anchor!

The veggies & herbs offered will differ throughout the year & will include:

  • Lettuce (head & leaf)
  • Tomatoes (green or red – Roma or Early Girl Hybrid)
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Radishes
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Summer Squash
  • Jalapeño Peppers
  • Habanero Peppers
  • Anaheim Peppers
  • Ghost Peppers
  • Trinidad Scorpion Moruga
  • Carolina Reaper

Another thing that held me up were regulations & WORRY about regulations. I’ll be getting my Dealer in Nursery Stock license renewed so that I can sell all of the other plants I’m growing, or plan to resell:

  • Succulents
  • Paper Birch liners (growing from seed)
  • Boxwood liners (growing from seed)
  • Blue Spruce liners (growing from seed)
  • Japanese Flowering Cherry liners (growing from seed)
  • Who knows what else I’ll add to this list!

So this is the year of execution & follow-through.

The seeds have been sown & there’s only one way to grow!

What else would you grow? Or what else would you like to see me grow? Drop a comment or fill out a form for a chance to win a Gardening 4 Gains t-shirt or tank!

 

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Take Time to Make Time

Running out of time

And make time to be there!

In this world, everybody wants every thing.

Right now.

ASAP.

Yesterday.

Give yourself at least an hour every day to just.. Be.

Put your phone down & step away from your computer.

Do you remember what it was like before the world was so toxically interconnected? Do you remember reading labels of food, shampoo, or maybe even books on topics you were interested in?

People have FOMO from social media, but while the focus lies there, they are missing out on Real Life – you know, the stuff that happens when you look up from your anxiety-inducing, glorified tracking device.

We all want to manage our time; make the most of this short & limited time we have on this Earth right? There is so much we can do all the time! I HAVE to check my Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress, etc. right? Stay up to speed on my emails?

It all comes down to time – and managing time.

Most of us are terrible at this task for a few different reasons:

  • Lack of focus
  • Lack of understanding your value
  • The insane obsession our culture has with multi-tasking & quantity of output versus quality of that output

Time is valuable but placing value on time can be a dangerous thing. Don’t place such a high value on your time that nothing is worth your time; you’re managing your time but in those moments you must make the most of what you’re spending your time on – you didn’t go to a baseball game to scroll on your phone.

Placing value on your time also makes your interactions transactional – not relational; functional, not pragmatic.

As with anything with value, its value depreciates over… yep, Time.

What I’m trying to get at is the fact that we need to STOP IN THE MOMENT.

Stop to listen to what people are saying to you; hear their words & read their faces.

Stop talking to advance yourself to a sale; ask questions & listen.

Really listen when people talk to you – THERE IS A REASON THEY ARE TALKING TO YOU!

In my experiences in life, people are attracted to certain people because they trust them; they can unload some of their fears & anxieties on them – and this is a huge honor! Everybody is walking around with a million thoughts flooding the brain, so we can’t solely think of moving towards the sale or towards our ultimate goal in talking with someone.

Sometimes the most important connections made in business are made because of things completely unrelated to business.

Structuring your day & managing your time is an important task that has to be done. But as you’re going through your day, don’t lose sight of what is truly important in life; make the most of your minutes by diving in & being highly engaged with people.

Be something we need more of – a real, genuine, & caring person.

 

 

 

 

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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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What it Means to Want It & How to Get It

Last night I was in the locker room of the gym I regularly attend, gathering my things and preparing to leave when a gym-regular asks me, “you done?” I answered with a brief “yep, getting ready to head out” and then got a response of “lucky you!”

As he walked out I just stopped and really thought about that statement. How am I lucky? Why are you here? Why are you complaining about a situation you put yourself in? What is your motivation? And what does it mean to really want “it”?

I was almost offended by the statement because I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that he viewed his workout as a chore, and consequently thought that I shared his viewpoint. Working out, whether it is weight lifting, sports, cardio, is not a chore, but should be viewed as a privilege and something that you can take pride in!

And pride isn’t even the point or the issue, this statement is about a matter of perspective. He thinks I’m lucky to be done with my workout, but I think he’s lucky that he has a full workout ahead of him. He is there because of his health insurance, I am there creating my own. He is there to maintain, I am there to progress.

By no means do I believe myself to be superior to anyone for what I do, but what differentiates yourself from others is how you frame your life’s activities. Do you let life control you or do you take the reins?

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Fast forward to my current situation – I am just now getting back to weightlifting after the last ~6 months being a patchy mosaic of consistency due to a shoulder injury (funny considering I said how I was “creating my own healthcare” ha!) – and I’m finally publishing this article after sitting in my drafts for nearly a year! This article has kind of been haunting me as I feel it sitting here waiting for completion; and that is where all of these lessons converge into one.

We all have passions & pursuits that we feel like we should go after, but aren’t sure where to start, if we know enough, or if we even have the talent. Here are the lessons I learned from “Wanting It”, but not allowing myself to attain it; of chasing it, but not with the correct ‘how of doing things’:

  1. Passion We all have different passions for different reasons. Joe may have a passion for data; Lisa has a passion for sales; Bill’s passion is gardening – whatever it is, LOVE WHAT YOU DO. Weight lifting is one of my passions and when I found I couldn’t continue with the trend of lifting consistently for a couple weeks, taking a couple weeks off because of extreme pain & discomfort – I stubbornly did something about it & ended up being referred to a surgeon.
  2. Pursuit Loving what you do is just part of the equation – without a constant pursuit of your passions, you have planted a garden to let it be devoured by weeds, bugs, and, the most easily controlled, Apathy. I was sick & tired of feeling sick & tired. My X-rays, CT scan, and MRI came back normal – no structural damage, no surgery needed, hallelujah! My issue came down to a lack of flexibility & mobility work. These were things I already did actively – but not consistently & not mindfully. Who wants to stretch for 30 minutes when stretching isn’t building any muscle??
  3. Maintenance “Practice? We talking practice?” Every single success in life stems from doing the maintenance: pulling weeds, practicing that jump shot, running an extra mile – whatever it is that you love to do will not flourish as a personal goal without tending to the smallest details. This does not mean to scrutinize every little thing that you do. To be the best at anything, we must do the fundamentals extremely well. For me, this meant re-adapting by waking up @ 5am, finding an awesome yoga video on Amazon, and doing this every single day along with other functional mobility. One does not become Mr./Ms. Olympia by simply loving to lift weights; they lift weights, but they lift them correctly. The diet is finely tuned, they stretch prior to working out, they focus on Every. Single. Rep. 
  4. Life is about the Journey, not the Destination In our lives we tend to think of things in terms of the desired outcome we seek, but not imagine the path to attain those goals. Example: if I work out, then I will gain muscle & lose fat (or insert your goal). But we all know it isn’t this easy. Most people see it this way & don’t want to put in the work to get the results. In a results-driven world it is tough to enjoy the rocky ride on your way to your end goals. Trust in your processes & don’t lose sight of the important elements in the quest to fulfill your vision – those elements lie in the maintenance section. They are the least “fun”, but are the daily duties that will give you the yield you desire.

No matter what we do in life, we all strive to attain “It”. Whatever your It is, chase & attack it furiously and never let the Fear hold you back from your dreams.