Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

business, entrepreneurship, organization

diddycswsMany of our heroes express gratitude and humility in awe-inspiring ways, but humble is not a word I’d use to describe Sean “Diddy” Combs. Out the gate he had something to prove and was determined not to stop until it was done. His mantra “can’t stop, won’t stop” essentially became the creed of young hustlers and go-getters everywhere!

It takes a lot to follow a vision that no one sees but you and he did JUST THAT. Despite rumors, arrests, fainting loyalty he crafted a record label that is internationally known and recognized. That provided the opportunities to impart knowledge and success into the careers of dozens of people signed to Bad Boy Entertainment and hundreds of others who have worked for and with Mr. Combs. It also open doors for film, television and world tours. Bad Boy is a dynasty whether you like it or not.

The release of the documentary, Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop chronicled the journey to craft and present the Bad Boy Anniversary Tour. This one hour documentary served as a window into Combs’ values, processes and business acumen. Here are five absolute gems I found in the film. I hope you can learn something from it. Oh, and watch the documentary!

  1. Make Your Purpose Crystal Clear

One of the things Diddy says in the film is that when he first got the idea for Bad Boy he knew he wanted to be different. Instead of following the emerging trend of gangsta rap, he knew he wanted to make people dance and have a good time. Now think of iconic Bad Boy songs like “Hypnotize”, “Feels So Good” and “Only You”. The music certainly matched the mission and so did the style, the visual details and the personas. Because his purpose was clear, the foundation that he built was unshakable. Have you identified your unique gift to the world? What’s your purpose?

2. Opportunities Are Greater Than Money

Diddy interned for Andre Harrell for two years without pay. In that time, he was able to learn the music business and network with up and coming artists. Here, he perfected his grind and his idea for a record label of his own. Are you taking advantage of opportunities that can challenge and grow you into the person you want to be?

cantstopmeme

3. Fight For What You Want

At times the vision became cloudy especially as controversy began to creep into the company. The very image Diddy was trying to avoid seemed to chase them down as a friendship between Biggie and Tupac became vicious. But this didn’t deter Diddy was his mission. In fact, it urged him to fight harder, do more, connect on a higher level. He was able to constantly brand and re-brand Bad Boy as the premier record label for not only hip-hop artists, but young professionals. How are you pushing through circumstances to achieve your goals?

4. Don’t Stay in Your Lane, Explore the Entire Highway

Diddy began managing artists and dabbled in producing and directing music videos. The clarity of his vision served to make him a curator of content which allowed him to easily traverse between roles. Yes, he was always dancing in the music videos, but he was also sitting at round tables negotiating deals, making hit records, designing clothing (Sean John), opening restaurants (Justin’s) and producing tv shows (Making the Band). While all of these entities are distinctly different they fall under one umbrella, Bad Boy. The brand’s image was strong enough to be translated in any industry. Because of his fearless, Diddy was able to make his record label a global entertainment brand. Are you limiting your talents to just one arena?

5. Build a Team That Believes in You

Don’t surround yourself with people who want to get ahead or make money. But make sure there are people on your team who believe in YOU, the creator of the brand. If they buy into you, they will do whatever it takes to make your vision come alive. This is crucial to Diddy’s success. In the film, Mase explains that Diddy brought artists into bad boy under the premise that if they trusted him he would make sure they were legends. And…the rest is history. Does your team trust you?

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I’ve run out of goals 

business, entrepreneurship, organization

Impossible, I say. But as I opened up my Passion Planner last week to conduct my mid-year check-in, I stared at the page….and stared at the page. 

What do you want, Brandy? What will be your BIG push for the second half of the year? What’s on your list?

Nothing…

Sadness came over me. Am I finished? I thought, but pushed the idea aside. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been chasing one goal after another; accomplishing and failing; starting and restarting; learning and growing. I’ve read countless books about goal-setting, success, mindset and all the woo-woo pseudo scientifically texts about attraction and manifesting you can name. I wouldn’t say that I’ve mastered these systems but my skillset has grown and I have evidence to the effect that I make more shots than I miss. 

Almost two years ago now I did the possible and quit my full-time teaching job. Ha! What an adventure that has been. Anyways, when I did, I hit the goriund running overachieving and overworking myself into the ground. 2015 was my year! My side hustle became my main thing Anf I was roooolllliiiiinnnn! Cloud 9.

So what happened? 

I finally started to grow into the person I’ve always wanted to become. I mean, things I envisioned for myself as a child finally came into fruition. I am, in many ways, living my dream. So at some point…I stopped dreaming.

Don’t get me wrong, on a smaller scale there are still things I want to do (spa days, girls trip, tattoos, save money, etc). But the big, hairy, omg scary goals…. I can’t think of any.

I can’t think of any because I never thought beyond THIS, what I have right now. My whole life I’ve been focused on “getting there” and now I’m here. I never thought about what to do once here. I am reminded of the adage “what got you her won’t keep you here”. Although I think this is supposed to bring me solace, it makes me uneasy. What do I do now?

I decided to control what I can and not stress it. The other day I gave my sister-friend the gift of “yet” and with it, the power to control what is immediately in your control. So, I decided to give myself that gift as well. 

For too long I’ve lived each day truly like it was my last and worried that if I made one misstep or took my eyes off the road to blink I would die…literally. I think at 30 years old, I deserve to not have everything figured out. I will take this time however to learn me and evaluate what makes sense in my life and what my next step will be. Right now no goals, just a commitment to live my best life – on my terms. #BrandyWasHere

Here’s What I’ve Learned in My First Year As A Full-Time Entrepreneur (must read)

business

January 21, 2016 was my last day as an employee.

I did it.

I quit.

I walked away from a career I could have grown in; a career in which I had the opportunity to impact hundreds or thousands; a career I chose and had fallen in love with.

There are many circumstances that led to that decision. But ultimately, I felt that my role, my purpose was bigger than the classroom I was teaching in.

You see, I was telling kids they could change the world and they could be, have and do anything they wanted….and here I was not being, having or doing any of that. I quit because my values weren’t aligned with my actions. That needed to change.

So January 22, 2016. Here I am. Now what? While I knew the journey wouldn’t be easy, let me just be candid with you: THIS SHIT IS SO FUCKING HARD. But if you believe in yourself and believe in your vision, it is worth it even if it doesn’t seem that way now. Trust me on this.

I am often asked what advice I would give to new entrepreneurs so here it goes. Here’s what I’ve learned as a full-time entrepreneur:

  1. As an entrepreneur, you own your time.

Here’s where most entrepreneurs mess up. The difference between being an employee and an entrepreneur is time. Whereas employees are compensated for the amount of time they work, entrepreneurs are compensated based on the value of the work they perform. For example, if I am employed by Starbucks and I make $10 an hour, I will have for work for an hour to receive $10. Pretty simple, right. If I want to make $150, I will need to work…yes, 15 hours. (Let’s ignore taxes for this example. But in real life, come correct with the IRS) As an entrepreneur, I can sell a product or provide a service and value that product or service at an amount that makes sense. I can sell a box of cookies for $15 and sell x amount of boxes in an hour.

Your success is dependent upon how you manage and schedule your time. Now, you could spend your day getting your hair and nails done and having lunch with your girls, but you also have to work. How much you want/need to work is up to you! That, of course, can be scary because “what if”. Don’t worry about that. Create a schedule that reflects the work you want to be doing and put in the effort.

2. At least in the beginning, you will work more than you’re used to.

Unless you have really planned this out (which I absolutely did not) you will most likely begin your entrepreneurial journey solo. This means, you will take on any and all roles associated with your business. You should expect to put in lots of hours toward your business so don’t go planning any vacations just yet. My first 5 months in business I was working 70+ hours per week! As a teacher, my contract hours were 37.5 hours per week. Be prepared to lose sleep, lock yourself out the house and spell your name wrong from pure exhaustion. This is…until you are able to attract the right individuals to help you live out your vision.

3. No matter what business you have, build your e-mail list.

If you plans to start a business, start requesting those e-mail addresses. I sort of did this, but realized, my list was no where near where it needed to be. An e-mail list is important for a number of reasons. For starters, this is how you will contact your potential customers. But I have social media… Correction: social media has YOU! If your favorite social media site shut down today how would you contact those xx,xxx followers? You would only hope that they’d find you. But e-mail addresses you own. Large companies pay big bucks for e-mail addresses. You, of course, will earn yours.

Your e-mail list becomes your network and those people will support you business in unimaginable ways outside of purchasing your product. Don’t send them spam. Create a newsletter that you send our consistently letting them know what you’re up to, what they can expect and answer their questions. This is how you establish credibility and form relationships.

4. Learn all you can about your industry, product, location, organizations, etc.

Networking is important but going out for drinks won’t cut it (unless you’re in the entertainment industry or something similar). You will need to find ways to network with professional organizations and learn as much as you can. This will look different for every entrepreneur. For me, this means reading and research.

Large companies don’t have to work as hard but you, young entrepreneur are trying to build trust and credibility. In order to present yourself as an expert, you kinda actually have to be one. This means, being recognized among your industry peers, knowing your neighborhood and competing businesses, demographics of your target market, trends in your industry as well as professional organizations and conferences to attend. You must stay on your toes and stay relevant. Never stop learning!

5. Look for opportunities…EVERYWHERE!

Your current friends, co-workers (ex-coworkers), workout buddy, local coffee shop, etc are all places to inquiry about opportunities. If you plan to sell your products at events, ask around and see what’s happening and where. A question I love to post on my Facebook ever so often Tag someone you think I should follow and give me one reason why. New people present new opportunities. If you provide a service here’s a question you can bring up to a friend over the phone: Hey girl, I’m looking to expand my business. Who do you know that could use_____ (service you offer)? Talk about your business. Look for ways to gain visibility and sustainability.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Like I’ve said, in the beginning it will be you, you and you. But as you seek to expand, don’t be shy. Ask your family and friends for help, but don’t wear them out. Here you have to make a decision, do you want you friends and family as customers or part of your support system, you should not expect both. I have some friends that use my products and other who will show up at an event to give me a bathroom break. Remember, this is YOUR business and it needs to be supported by customers. You have to go out and find the customers. However, you have loved ones willing to lend a helping hand. You also have access to great apps like TaskRabbit and Fiverr where you can hire professionals at a reasonable cost to assist you with tasks you may not have time for or be an expert in that particular area. Yes, it is your business, but don’t struggle alone.

7. Create systems that help your business function smoothly.

Now, I would suggest before you run off to hire someone or ask for help, take an inventory of your business and assess your needs. Create a mind map and write out everything that you do on a daily basis for your business. Every. Little. Thing. From checking e-mails to post on social media to making runs to the post office and hosting webinars, etc. Everything. Then you can begin to categorize these tasks and place a value on them. Tasks of the highest value you may want to take on like…creating content for your webinar. Whereas tasks like laundry, you may want to outsource. Now that you know where you want to focus your personal energy, spend some time creating a guide or how-to if you will for someone else to take on those other tasks. This doesn’t necessarily mean hire an assistant (if you’ve got the cash to spare though, go ahead with your bad self!), but you should be prepared to hand off tasks when the opportunity presents itself. For example, your boyfriend/girlfriend calls and says “Bae you’re working so hard is there anything I can do for you?” This is when you send Bae on the store run and to drop off your orders at the post office. Be ready and open to assistance. Create a system for doing things that makes it easy to be done by others.

Another really simple thing to do, template e-mails. This will save you a ton of time. You’ll learn that you constantly get the same questions or will need the same information from different people. Create a template that a helper can easily cut and past to reply to those hundreds of unread e-mails (all of our inboxes look the same I know).

8. Have multiple streams of income…in and outside of your business.

MAJOR KEY ALERT: You want to start small in the beginning, yes. But you will build your business quicker if you have money coming in from different areas. For example, Louis Vuitton sells shoes, purses and clothing. You should offer x, y and z. Create levels within your business to appeal to a larger demographic. Offer a low-end and high-end product, Sell though different channels which include your website, FB ads, Pinterest, Pop-Up Shops, Wholesale, etc.

For many entrepreneurs, this means taking on a part-time job to supplement their income. But that may not be appealing or possible for everyone. I would personally suggest staying at your 9-5 a little longer and saving some dough. Then, I’d suggest becoming an affiliate for various other companies. Affiliate marketers can earn between 2-10% on each sale they make for other companies. If you have a large following on your personal social media account or if you’re a blogger where you can easily place ads, you can bring in good money each month to help fuel your business.

Then, there’s Lyft and Uber. You can become an ambassador and sign up new drivers and riders. Or, you can become a driver and earn up to $1,500 a week! Yes, I drive Lyft, too. It’s a great option because you can drive when and where you want and cash out as needed. Having money on demand will come in handy when business gets slow. And it will get slow.

9. Take breaks. Self-Care is important and necessary.

Last, but absolutely not least is taking care of yourself. Many entrepreneurs get burnt completely out in quarter one and have nothing left to give. While you will need to work hard, you will also need to rest and relax and at some point sleep. You cannot live off of energy drinks (this is what I tell myself). Create a routine in which self-care is central. Incorporate exercise, meditation, sleep, drinking water, laughter and socializing. These are mandatory. Your goal is to become a successful entrepreneur not an overweight hermit! Spending too much time alone is never good as we can easily slip into depression when things don’t go right in our business. If you work from home, make it a point to leave the house at least once a day. If you work in an office setting, make it a point to go out for lunch or set meetings at another location. A change of scenery is great.

 

 

3 Business Hacks That Help Me Stay Productive

business

Productivity. Productivity. Productivity.

As entrepreneurs we are always looking for ways to be more productive and efficient in our work. Now, I’ve read a lot of books and articles on the subject and I can attest to the fact that increasing your productivity means minimizing and or removing distractions from your life.

Ha! Now consider the fact that most entrepreneurs deal with adhd and insomnia and you’ll understand my scoff a moment ago.

Nevertheless, successful entrepreneurs get more done! How? Over the last couple of weeks I’ve tried a few different techniques, apps and even modified my behavior. Here are 3 Hacks that help me operate as my most productive self:

Set a Timer

I heard on one of my fvaorite podcast The Mind Your Business Podcast  that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. This is known as Parkinson’s Law. When I heard that I grabbed my calendar and started to assign time limits to the tasks I had set out for the week. This was tough at first because I had to develop the discipline to STOP tasks even if they were unfinished at the moment. I know, let’s all cringe together. However, after a few days (or weeks). I saw that by literally setting a timer, I would become more forced on completing the task. And guess what else, many times I completed the task before the time ended.

For example, I’d set aside 2 hours to schedule social media posts and an hour later I’d be finishing up. You see, it would take me 2 hours when I was unfocused, drinking tea, checking my phone, etc. But now, I plan accordingly, schedule my work and set my timers. I get more done in less time!

Turn off Notifications (e-mail, social media, calls, etc.)

I’m a chronic e-mail checker. I also hate to see that little red 1 on my phone or to see e-mails left unread and I always feel the need to respond immediately to texts. Yes, even when I’m driving (pray for me), even in meetings, even when I’m hard at work. But great news! I am breaking the habit.

Recently, very recently, in fact, like a week ago, I went into mky iPhone and changed my notifications settings. One day I posted a photo on instagram and my notification suddenly became LIT! My phone was ringing back to back letting me know that radtad99bad liked your photo and skinsosoftboss commented “cute”. This was also the day 9/10 of my Facebook friends decided to go live and share their lunch, makeup of the day and opinions on the election. Needless to say, I couldn’t get anything done nor could I put the phone done. I decided to change my settings.

I turned off notifications for all of my social media accounts including my e-mail and as a bonus, I logged out. This meant that in order to see what was happening I would have to go throught the tedious task of logging back in and checking things out.

I will say so far so good. I’d estimate I’d spend 2 hours out of my day checking socila media and responding to, reading or deleting e-mails. TWO FREAKING HOURS! I have now cut that down to about 20 minutes.

**BONUS TIP: When I am working on a project and need to concentrate I will put my phone on “do not disturb” so that any incoming calls are sent to voicemail. This is with the exception of my mother and my son’s school. Those calls always come straight through

Take Breaks

All work. No play. Whoever made that up is wack and probably had a miserable life. But that’s not our reality. Right? Staycations/Daycations are my new thing. So not only do I schedule breaks for myself just as I would if I had a regular 9-5. Every couple of weeks there’s time set aside for fun. This means NO WORK! Now this doesn’t have to be extravagant. For me this may mean binge reading a new book, shopping with a friend or trying a new restaurant. Breaks are essential because they allow us to recharge and refocus. As entrepreneurs we understand that we only eat what we kill and the pressure to perform and provide can haunt us. However, working nonstop could kill us. Take care of yourself and your health. Rest when needed.

If anything is worth doing…

business, entrepreneurship, Uncategorized

…it’s worth doing well.

I can remember those words as clear as day from my 7th grade English teacher, Mrs. Parks. She was about 4 feet tall with a TWA (teeny weeny afro) that was graying and splochy. She spoke almost in a whisper – until she got mad and that always scared us as students. We respected her in a way that most kids don’t respect their elders nowadays. We trusted her; she believed in us.

She assigned us a biography project. “Find someone you look up to and discover everything you can about their life, ” she said. I was excited to do the project. I knew I would research Tupac just because I wanted to see Mrs. Parks reaction. We were given several weeks for the project, but me being the natural procrastinator that I am, I waited until the night before. Instead of being 4 pages, my report was 2. Instead of having colorful images, I turned in a portrait of Pac I had hand drawn. As Mrs. Parks glided through the room collecting reports, when she got to mine she stopped. “Keep it!” She said in her mean voice and continued to glide through the room. Keep it!? After all the work I did. You’re not even gonna grade it. These things I shouted at her to the room’s surprise. I knocked the paper off my desk and started to pout. The bell rang.

As I got up to leave the room Mrs. Parks grabbed my arm. And hard too. I wanted to scream that she couldn’t touch me ( I mean, teachers can’t be grabbing on kids), but I stood there in shock. “If anything is worth doing, its worth doing well.” she said “If you respect this person you have written about, give them the respect of doing a proper job. Otherwise, don’t waste your time.”

Of course I did the report again as it should have been done. Of course, Mrs. Parks deducted points for lateness.

The older I get the more I realize how important time is. When I want to rush through something or give 50% instead of 100, I ask myself, “is this worth doing?” If it is, I have to give it my all. If it isn’t I have to let it go and stop wasting my time. Sometimes I need this reminder.

Hard Work is Not Success

business, entrepreneurship, Uncategorized

“What got you here, won’t get you there..” – Rory Vaden

I’ve always thought of myself as a hard worker. I’ve had a job since I could remember; and most times, more than one job. I’ve started businesses and have helped others start theirs. I’m a single-mom. I’ve obtained a bachelor’s degree and am working on a Master’s. All of these things have occupied my time over the last 10 years and physically, I am exhausted. I always thought I was a hard worker, and yet, I have not reaped any of the benefits I thought I would by working hard.

Perhaps the trick is to work smarter. Plan less and take more risks. It sounds crazy saying it out loud (well, typing it on the computer), but that’s what successful people do.

My whole life I thought I was taking a chance, but I was just following a very predictable path. Maybe you are too. I was listening to a podcast the other day and the guest, Rory Vaden said, “what got you here, won’t get you there.”  He was talking about how to go beyond your plateau. He said that successful people are always finding new ways to be successful. So I am challenging myself not to get stuck in a rut of mediocrity but to find new ways to be successful.

Feel free to join me.

I Try Not To Write When I’m Pissed Off But I Do Make Exceptions…

business, entrepreneurship, Uncategorized
This is untitled, for now

I wonder what gives them the audacity to ask me:
is his father around?
Many times I’d bow my head and look to the ground.
Too proud to tell
Or embarrassed by the reality the question reveals
Still…
It’s none of your damn business!
It’s taken me 7 years to address this
7 years of my heart being restless
hoping no one would ask
Praying no one would know
Trying not to let my singleness show
I want a hashtag for all you bastards that ruin my beautiful mother-son moments with your need to know,
the pity that follows,
the exchange of blows
For you, the privileged assholes who cut me in line,
strike up a conversation then pay me no mind
Don’t ask his name
Don’t tell him he’s cute
Don’t try and flatter me with the “oh, he looks just like you”
I am over explaining who we are and how we came to be
My only wish is
that you let us be
We are complete
with or without a “He”

Patience

business, entrepreneurship, Uncategorized

I hate waiting. For me, the Aries, waiting is cruel and unusual punishment! I am impulsive. I want everything not now, but right now. A delayed response or action is no action at all. So I thought. But I’ve learned, recently, that patience is a lot different than waiting. 

Waiting is…waiting. Or, as Dictionary.com puts it, waiting is a period of pause, interval or delay. To wait, to remain inactive or in a state of repose, as until something expected happens. That’s the hard part; doing nothing until something expected happens. For most people though, this is life. Many of us make plans and stop working hoping that what we’ve planned will magically happen. As far as I know, wishful thinking has never gotten anyone very far. Waiting is often out of our control and for me, being IN control of my life and decisions is important. If you are like me, you need to be doing something and this where patience comes in.

Patience is more about your attitude and that IS something I can control. Patience is defined as quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence. This takes practice, but exercising patience is one of the most powerful things I have ever done. I have a problem of starting projects and not finishing them. I get excited about the possibilities at the beginning, but somewhere along the way, that excitement fizzles. I grow tired of waiting for things to happen. But exercising patience means that I can work diligently while I wait thus, expediting the process. Patience is working steadily towards something with the end goal in mind.

I saw this quote awhile ago that said, “Patience is not about how long you wait, but your attitude while you wait.” I like that.

Is he Dame Dash? Dame Diddy? Or Dame Dummy?

brilliant ideas, business, entrepreneurship

Lots of people are talking about the interview Damon Dash did with the infamous Breakfast Club. Everyone has an opinion. but here are my takeaways from it. A few jewels from Dame Dash:

“Every real man wants to be the boss”

“You’re only the boss if you put up your own money.”

“No. Not in Harlem.”

“What’s best for your kids is to put your money into something that you can pass to your kids.”

“You enjoy the safety and security of a job everyday. To me, there’s no pride in that.”

“9-5’s aren’t good because you’re hustling for a weekend.”

“You sound smart to somebody dumb.”

“How do you feel as a man that you get paid to gossip for a living.”

“Why don’t we stick together.”

“In the streets violence is a means to an end. It’s a last resort.”

“It’s not easy to be honorable. Your honor gets tested everyday.”

“My block’s your block unless you’re messing with my paper.”

“There’s always some white man that’s in charge of Black culture.”

“I’m not mad at being a boss. I’m mad that you have the same job for 25 years.”

“Yes from the womb. I was Dame Dash since the day i was born.”

“How could you want the explanation and you’re talking? How can you listen and speak at the same time?”

“When you own something, you can do what you want with it.”

“How can a superhero be told what to do?”

Here is the interview in its entirety:  https://youtu.be/XHX4hWurt8M

People Watching is Good for Your Health

brilliant ideas, business, Uncategorized

I’ve been trying to buckle down and commit to writing daily. So today, when my plans got changed, I headed over to Barnes & Noble to do just that: write. I made my obligatory purchased and spread all my gadgets on the table. I’ve found it helpful when in public to wear earphones, even if no music is playing. People will assume you are busy and they won’t bother you. I intended to work uninterrupted.

But just as I began the ritual stare at the computer screen, I noticed a beautiful young woman entered the cafe area. Searching for a seat, her shoulder length dreadlocks bounced ever so slightly and the swishing of her bag seemed to be in sync with her footsteps. Her skin was caramel. Her lips full. She sat across from me diagonally at a smaller, circular table; her posture impeccable. As she adjusted her bag on an empty chair beside her, a man approached her whispering and leaning in. She smiled.He wrapped around the low hanging banister and sat in front of her. I imagine that their eyes locked as her gaze became pointed. I couldn’t see his face.

I tried to mind my own business but my lurking was more interesting. In between keystrokes I tuned my ear to their conversation. A first date it seemed. She described her beliefs and inquired about his. Disclaimer: “I don’t have a problem with a strong man, but I do have a problem with a man that needs to constantly prove his strength”, she said evenly. And without flinching she continued, “I hope you don’t have a problem with a strong woman.” He didn’t flinch either.

The exchange moved smoothly and lasted only awhile longer. She smiled; he laughed; they listened intently to each other and then they went their separate ways.

I’m not sure what is to come of them. Or if they’ll ever see each other again. But I do know that today, I witnessed one of the most beautifully authentic conversations I ever have in my life.