A little sleeping rose

It is amazing how when you feel safe, secure, warm and loved that you can drop your guard and can sleep just about anywhere. Children teach us so many lessons, perhaps more than we teach them. That is a principle that I know to be true in most situations.Image

Sometimes we get so caught up in our personal lives and roles that it is easy to forget that we are all just people. No matter our age, race, socioeconomic status, education, road traveled or lifestyle. We are all part of a living ever changing world, trying to find our place in it.

What reminds you of this, to help keep you centered and engaged in the now? The coming and going of the seasons always reminds me of the cycles of life and my place in it. On this the coolest day thus far in two seasons, on the road with a precious package of life, and on a road trip to a family members birthday party, I realize that thanks to a friend’s offhand comments I am already thinking about Christmas cards. I am reminded.

Make the Time to Think – Reduce Stress & Find Clarity

Knowledgeable folks know that if they want something done, then sometimes their best bet is to recruit the busiest people they know. Have you ever stopped to wonder why?

Self-help is everywhere you turn: on the grocery store isle, in book after book and on webpage after webpage.

Time management, prioritization,

simplifying your life, meditating, doing yoga,

going on a diet, buying a better chair,

sitting less, reading more….

The lists go on and on.

Although all these tidbits are helpful, something is missing.

I have a theory. I believe that some of the most successful people, effective leaders and the rocks in our communities know a secret, something that was ingrained in them. Julian Smith wrote about it in his 19 Thoughts About Finding Your Purpose.

It was lucky number 13, which I will be sharing with you today, Friday, July 13, 2012.

“Find the time to think.” – Julian Smith

Julian you are a brilliant thought leader, but I am going to take it one step further and encourage our readers to MAKE the time to think. This is an action, a choice and a necessity. Make time to think and in doing so you will decrease the stress levels in your life, which will lead to more effective action and will help you find clarity and purpose in all that you do.

Thank you, my friend, Maureen Keese for reminding me of this today. How do you make time to think?

Are You Addicted to the Internet? Find Out

Don’t you just hate it when you have a brilliant idea for a blog post and you type it all out and then the computer goes wonky on you and you lose all your hard work!  I just did that.  Yeah, I know we are supposed to save, but when we are in the zone and what we have to say is just flying out of our fingertips, it is easy to get caught up in the moment and forget that technology is just a tool and it is how we use it that determines its success rate.  That being said …

A good friend of mine came in with the most recent copy of Newsweek and said they had an article that I must read.  My friend handed me a magazine with a cover picture of a woman holding her head in her  hands, with her eyes squeezed tightly shut, her mouth was wide open like in a scream, and the photo was shattered with the center point being the woman’s nose.  Then these words were over-laid: iCRAZY, PANIC, DEPRESSION and PSYCHOSIS.

I must thank Tony Dokoupil for writing this great article and if you have not read it, you certainly should.  There are some really good nuggets in there, some that my new friend Annie Murphy Paul would really enjoy. If you have not checked out her work, I would recommend it to you as well.  But I digress.  Tony’s article talks about how we have become cyborgs, because of this continuous life of connection that we lead, which seems normal. Just because it seems normal does not mean that it is healthy or sustainable or for that matter that we know what the repercussions will be.  However, when you dive into the article it will reveal some very compelling research – research about the implications. The cultural phenomena of smart phones plays a major role.  Do a little research and you will be amazed.

If you are a regular reader then you know that my family plugs in every day at the office.  But on our time we LOVE to be outside.  We have as much outdoor living space as we do indoor.  We LOVE to go camping, sit by a fire, hike, mountain bike, four wheel, paddle and since my husband is a swimming pool man, we have one of those and spend as much time in the water as possible.  Additionally, I am addicted to gardening. I love plants and to be surround by living breathing life.  I hate concrete, city noise, traffic and the general idea of too many people being crammed into a small space.  Check out my Facebook page and you will see photo after photo of plants and flowers; they are like my children.

We do not have cable. 

That is right; I said my household does not have cable. Our provider came out and buried our lines so that we could have a secure internet line that could not be chewed in half by squirrels or blown down in a storm and as soon as they buried our lines we canceled our cable.  The customer support person that was helping us told us that we could not do that!

Well we did.  We rent family movies and we watch Netflix and YouTube videos and play video games from time-to-time.  But we value our family time and do not need cable for that.

I have to give credit where credit is due and thank my mother Tina for instilling these values in me.  We have always utilized technology and had the latest gadgets, but those gadgets had their time and place.  They like everything in life must be used in moderation, because after all life is all about the people we share our lives with and finding balance.

Thank you Mom!

Additionally, our friends and family know that it does not do any good to call or text us in the afternoons or on the weekends.  You can leave a message and we will get back to you, but if you want to see us or to talk to us, you had better come knock on our door.  When we do not have to be plugged in, we are not.  We value authentic connection with those we care about and genuinely feel that the best way to do that is with face-to-face in-the-moment communication.

So are you addicted to the internet?  Find out here.  Then come back and share you score.  I scored 30. How about you?

On Day or Off Day

Do you ever have those days where something that you have seen or heard rattles around in your head? I have sent 100’s of emails, processed tons of invoices, answered more questions that I can count and have been BUSY. But all day long, as I have gone about the business of life, these two items just would not get out of my head!

Item #1 – 19 Julian Smith’s first of 19 Thoughts about Finding Your Purpose –

“Those who win are producers, not consumers. The first thing you do each morning should be active, not passive – no Facebook, no email. Whatever you choose should put you in a state of mind for the rest of the day. Choose carefully.”

You can read the full article here.

I will be the first one to admit that the difference between an off and an on day is how I start my day. On the weekends, or rather off days, I will start my day with quiet stillness and coffee. You will not get me moving without it and odds are you will not get me online or on the phone, unless it is to post a blog or column article. My perfect day begins with me sitting on my huge front porch sipping on coffee, processing my dreams from the night before, and letting the world slowing drift in one sight and smell at a time.

However, on days are a little different. I wake up as close to when I have to leave as possible (I mean minutes), go to the bathroom, jump into clothes, grab my stuff and make it to the car. I crank the ignition that doesn’t require it (out of habit), drive to work (usually in silence), come in, load the coffee pot and plug in. Plugging in includes turning on the computer, connecting my mini-computer to sync (phone), logging into at least two email accounts (sometimes 3 and throw in social media sites for good measure), checking the voicemails (on at least two phones) and many times putting on my headphones (for tunes).

How do you start your days? What is the difference between your on days and off days?

Item #2 – This quote,

“When you internalize facts, you begin to internalize a conception of the world. You begin to try to fit new facts into a network of old facts. You begin to operate in a liminal space that taps both conscious processing and broad intuitions.”

You can read the full article here.

Key Concepts:

  • Active
  • Conception
  • Conscious
  • Internalize
  • Network
  • Processing
  • Producers
  • State of Mind

We become what we think, see, hear and do. It is our past and present that shapes what we believe and who we become. Choose wisely or suffer from rattling head.

AR Higher Ed, A New Personality & Sharing the Next Go Round

August to September, September to October, October to November and wait now it is July 2012!  I went to visit my Word Press Blog, since I had some feedback on a post. I was horrified to see that it has been almost an entire year since I posted. Embarrassed is not nearly strong enough of a word to express the deep feeling that gripped me!

I could jump into a list of excuses as long as my arm, but we all know that excuses are like unmentionable body parts, we all have them.  So allow me to share with you some of what I have been up to. First of all I was nominated for, participated in and graduated from the AATYC Leadership Academy. My class marks 99 graduates. During this 9 month whirl wind, we had the privilege of traveling all over the state of Arkansas, visiting several colleges we might not have had the opportunity to visit otherwise.  I ate some great food, including three pounds of boiled Cajun-style crab in the Duck Capital of the World in southern Arkansas.

Image

Our class worked their tails off. There were 24 of us from all across the state, many faculty and staff from the two-year colleges, as well as a couple of folks from Arkansas government and non-profits. We were broken into groups and worked diligently over the course of the academy on group projects wherein we researched and searched incessantly toward finding out the Facts about several hot-button topics that are integral to higher education in Arkansas.  Here is a little FYI information for your processing.

Cost Containment Efforts in Arkansas Higher Education – includes retooling HVAC controls, utilities cost cuts, reduced travel, reduced office and teaching supplies, revised computer replacement programs, more temporary and less full-time faculty, deferred salary increases, outsourcing food services, early retirement incentives, creating multi-school classes, increasing class sizes, and reduction of benefits.

Arkansas E-Link, ATOM and ARE-ON – is the process of connecting Arkansas’ computer networks as the result of a $102 million grant provided to the UAMS Center for Distance Health and by the federal government, expanding the Arkansas Telehealth Network (ATOM) and the Arkansas Research and Education Optical Network (ARE-ON), with Health Care, Higher Education, Public Safety, and Research as the four focus areas, increased applications and benefits at 470+ locations across Arkansas, and work will be completed in August 2013.

Developmental Education – is a hot topic among educators and legislators due to more than 75% of two-year college students being required to take at least one remedial course, no typical developmental education student, approximately $36.2 million of 56.84% of general revenue spent on remediation, and two promising practices – Achieving the Dream and Path to Accelerated Completion and Employment (PACE).

Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship – provides scholarships to Arkansas residents pursuing a higher education, funded in large part by the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, the growing need for non-traditional student funding – 76% of applicants in 2010 were non-traditional students and 62% of applicants in 2011 were non-traditional students, 73% of non-traditional students who received funding renewed their scholarship and remained in higher education, where only 61% of traditional students did the same, and non-traditional students in Arkansas have a higher retention rate than traditional students but receive the least amount of funding.

Concurrent Credit Enrollment – is an accelerated learning option that provides high school students the opportunity to simultaneously earn credit in both high school and college classes, reduces the cost of college by enabling students to earn college credit and by shortening their time to complete a degree, increases the academic rigor of high school curriculum, increases high school graduation rates, college enrollment, college credit accumulation, college grade point averages and increases college persistence and retention, can save students and taxpayers money, and can help students to launch careers with less debt, some recommendations include: require departments of education, higher education, career education, and post-secondary institutions to collaborate in the design, collection, analysis and reporting of data that will provide evidence based research to help understand the effectiveness of all accelerated learning options on access and success for all students and require annual reporting from departments of education on how all accelerated options are funded, the among of investment for each option, the sources of funding and the number of students served by each option.

Adult Education and Higher Education: A Partnership for Student Success – is an initiative the recognizes that the United States is the only highly-developed democracy where young adults are less likely to have completed high school that the previous generation, over 1 million young adults drop out of high school each year, that is 7,000 per day, in Arkansas 63 students drop out of secondary education each school day, 14.2% of those without a high school diploma were unemployed compared with 8% of those with at least some college, by 2018 52% of Arkansas jobs will require a post-secondary education, earning a GED increases a students’ chances of entering college, however in Arkansas less than 10% of the GED diploma recipients entered post-secondary education, some recommendations include: revise federal adult education and workforce development policy to clarify that federal funds can be used for integrated adult education and post-secondary occupational programs, adapt financial aid policies to support the needs of lower-skilled adults that allow them to reduce work hours to a level at which educational success is possible, and create and enhance bridge programs that ease the transition to post-secondary education.

Is your head spinning? Mine has been. I knew that I loved Arkansas. I knew that I respected higher education. I knew that I had a driving need to help others and have tried to do what I can, where I can. But there is so much to process and so much history.  Living history is a growing organism. The more pieces that you can identify and at least gain a partial understanding of the greater the passion that will grip you. The passion has gripped me so strongly that I am no longer the same person.

Just prior to entering into the AATYC Leadership Academy I did a full Briggs and Meyers personality test and it was the same as it had been my entire life – ENFJ, which is boiled down as practical, realistic, matter-of-fact, quickly moves to implement decisions, organize projects and people to get things done, focus on getting results in the most efficient way possible, take care of routine details, have a clear set of logical standards, systematically follow them and want others to also, forceful in implementing plans.

In the last session of the AATYC Leadership Academy we analyzed the results of a brand new full Briggs and Myers personality test. I was shocked; my personality had shifted to far less extroverted, not judging but rather perceiving and not feeling as much as thinking – ENTP, which is boiled down as quick, ingenious, stimulation, alert, outspoken, resourceful in solving new and challenging problems, adept at generating conceptual possibilities and then analyzing them strategically, good at reading other people, bored by routine, will seldom do the same thing the same way, apt to turn to one new interest after another.

An old friend and I bumped into each other last week, while I was with a new friend.  My new friend asked my old friend if I had always been a trouble maker.  My old friend’s response was this: Annie is not, nor has she ever been a trouble maker, but she has always rocked the boat and challenged the status quo. I am still processing the last go round and I don’t know what the next one holds, but I sure would love to hear your feedback and I look forward to traveling the next go round with you!

Sacrifice for the Flowers of Social Media

Do you like flowers? Yes!

Do you enjoy flowers? Well, yeah.

Do you love flowers? Most people say that they like flowers and would be flattered to receive them. BUT very few people truly love the flowers of a plant.

Love requires sacrifice. How many people do you know who will sacrifice for a plant, much less the flowers of a plant?

I love flowers. I love plants. I spend a lot of time and resources (money, blood, sweat and blisters) and energy investing in having plants and flowers surround me.

I love social media. Do I love the concept, the time spent, and the resources spent?

I love the flowers of Social Media! The flowers of social media are the relationships that enrich our lives and our businesses, which of course are extensions of us and our lives.

Just like I love gardening because I love plants and their flowers, I love the flowers of Social Media and everything else that goes with it, even the sacrifice! Most would say that is not Social Media! The flowers are part of the plant.

Today, I had the pleasure of meeting with a small business woman who actually just wanted to talk. She wasn’t looking for free advice or trying to sell me anything.

Are you curious? Sharon Herrick

It seems that my name kept popping up on her computer screen and she finally decided that it was time to meet the persona in person. I am so glad she did!

Sharon is one lady who understand the value of networking, whether by utilizing technology or just in good ole fashioned face-to-face meetings. She has been with her company for 24 years and in that time she has built a business, but she has also built a family.

The joy that I get out of my career is the clients that have become my family. – Sharon Herrick

Blessings,

Annie Sells

Now What: Connect Authentically

Watermelons
Image via Wikipedia

What can I say? At home in Fort Smith, Arkansas it has hardly rained in two months. Even the watermelons are in short supply and they can grow in road ditches, given that they get enough water. Where I normally have a beautiful flower garden and vegetable garden, I now have a lot of brown and dying vegetation. The 100+ temps day in and day out are exhausting, horrible for the economy and well – depressing.

But on a much happier and lighter note the pool has been oh so inviting. Here is where my confession comes in:

I have spent as much time playing with my monkeys, as I call them, as possible, teaching my son how to swim, getting way too much sun and swimming, swimming, swimming. When it is too hot to breath and everyone I know is closeted in their homes under their inefficient air conditioning, I have had friends over for BBQs and playing in my much-loved swimming pool.

No I am not making excuses, just stating the facts.

Today, I, Annie Sells had the privilege of talking to some really incredible people, one such person was Sherese. She and I where in the back seat of a car, being driven to dinner and I confessed to her that I haven’t been writing of late and have neglected my online friends and fans. She wanted to know why. I told her the truth. I have spent my time connecting as authentically as possible with the people in my life. For if you cannot connect authentically with the people who you can see and reach out and touch, how can you possibly connect authentically with people in your virtual world?

I say you cannot.

Now that I have a clean conscience, let’s get back to work.

I want to send a special thanks to Ms. Sherese Duncan of Efficio Inc. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with, speaking with and getting to know her both professionally and personally over the last 8 months.

Sherese you have reminded me of several things:
1. There is no box, only our core.
2. We must believe in ourselves.
3. We must be active and take ownership.
4. Only we can push ourselves to excellence.

I say thank you and pray that you like all the small business owners and entrepreneurs that I know experience true success, fulfillment and happiness in your work and in your personal life!

Cheers,

Ms. Annie Sells

Social Media: Now What?

This NeXT Computer was used by Sir Tim Berners...
Image via Wikipedia

First allow me to tell you a little bit about what brings me here, to this place and time.

In January 2010, I was doing marketing for a small business in Fort Smith, Arkansas that had a shoe-string budget and wanted to reach as many of their target audience as possible with little to no investment.  I knew where there was a will there was a way, but there was only so much time in the day.  Conventional means just were not cutting it.  So for the sake of my job, my client’s reputation and to produce results I began to look into Social Media marketing.  In that month, I did the market research, formed a plan and launched.  I started with a Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter account, began blogging here on WordPress and eventually took a column with Examiner.com.

Not only did I discover that Social Media was just another set of tools like the world wide web, email, websites,  and cell phones, but I discovered a passion! So I began taking on other clients in the Greater Fort Smith Region.  I discovered yet another passion!

Of course I, like other Social Media pessimists, at first thought that it was a waste of time and unnatural way of communicating. But I had clients that expressed needs and I had discovered a wonderful way to increase their exposure and help them meet their goals to solve their problems.
So with my doubts, my reservations, all the necessary time investment and the world-wide transparency and the nay saying of my friends and family, why did I continue?  Why did I bother? I love to connect with people.  I value honesty and equality. Social Media networking and marketing were the perfect fit.  I got to do the things I enjoyed, met tons of awesome people from all walks of life, and was learning a new tool set, wherein I could write, share, and help others. Little did I know that in 2010 SM networking would be the most significant business development of the year.  I saw the value.

I am excited!  Tomorrow afternoon, May 19th, 2001, just 16 short months after taking the plunge I have the opportunity to stand before 50 of my friends and colleagues from across the state and share my passions with them.  Don’t you wish you could be there?

Running water, toilets, electricity, frozen ice cream, tillers, jeeps and Social Media

Do you now or would you like to own a small business? Have you ever worked for a small business? I can answer these questions with conviction and odds are that you can also. In my opinion, small businesses are where it’s at and they are the back-bone of America. (Non-profits aren’t too bad either.) Seriously, home based businesses, small businesses and entrepreneurs are the United  States’ greatest source of innovation.

I make no bones about my passion for my home, the Greater Fort Smith Region, or about my passion for entrepreneurship.  So why would someone like me utilize much of my free time studying, getting to know and interacting with small businesses, their employers and entrepreneurs? Why would I advocate the use of social media and/or teach others how to utilize these tools for their own personal use and/or for their businesses.

Let’s look at this from a different view.

Have you ever drawn your water from a well? Or had it gravity feed from a pond, stream or lake? Have you ever used a chamber pot or an outhouse?  Have you ever gone without electricity and used candles, lanterns, and/or fire?  Have you ever made hand crank ice cream?  Have you ever tilled a garden by pulling a plow and/or by hand with a hoe?  Have you ever ridden a bicycle to school or work?

I have done each of these things and would do them again tomorrow if I had to.  But now I have running water and electricity in my home.  I also have  two toilets and I like ice cream that is already made that I can scoop, spoon, and swallow.  I also like tilling with a tiller and I really love driving my jeep.

There is always more than one way to skin an animal  and there are always many different ways to get to our destinations in life and in business. I do not advocate the use of Social Media because it is some magic bullet.  I advocate the use of social media because anyone that is willing to learn new things, utilize new tools, put themself out there and to possibly fail can and will benefit from it.

We all have to generate exposure for our products, services and businesses.

We all want to generate more traffic, because then odds are in our favor instead of against us.

If we are online, we all want to increase our search rankings.  People look for things online and they find them.  Whether they find them from you or someone else is within your control.

We are always in the market for new colleagues and new business opportunities and increasing the likelihood of these is in our favor.

We are all in the lead generating business and anything that helps in that department is a step in the right direction.

We all want to get the most bang for our buck and there isn’t any better way to do that than to decrease our marketing expenses.

Improving sales is the name of the game.

So with the benefits who needs a magic bullet? I don’t. I have running water, toilets, electricity, frozen ice cream, tillers, jeeps and Social Media.

Connect: Touch the Worlds and Lives of Others

An advocate by definition has nothing to gain from the advancement of a cause, practice and/or belief. However, when your job and/or lively-hood and reputation is on the line then it is not as easy to be a consultant, coach, thought leader and/or innovator. Or is it?

I assert that indeed one is no different than the other, because we never know for sure how one action will lead to another or cause a demand. Never mind the fact that when you are passionate about something, it drives you and you want to share it with anyone and everyone that might listen. Some may call you crazy, tell you it’s a bunch of fanciful ideas and some will never understand. But do you allow that to stop you?

No.

Today, May 4, 2011 I sat in on the SKC Webinar: AVAYA Social Media Manager. Molly Denton, mollydenton@avaya.com and Jeff Holton, jeff.holton@skccom.com where the co-hosts and the information that they offered was both accurate and useful. They talked about Social Media and Customer Service, Supporting Customers using Social Media, Creating the Business Case, gave Reporting and Administrative Examples and offered a Social Media Management Demo. They addressed the questions of which channels of social media to utilize, how to measure social media success, how to leverage social media, how to integrate contacts and how to improve outbound performance.

Of course, the ultimate objective is to Engage Continuously. But the real question is HOW?

We all know that you have to Listen, Share and Engage, but HOW?

The answer that Molly and Jeff offered is to determine your reach and interaction within the framework of a strategy.

But again HOW?

Let me get back to that.

Molly and Jeff talked about blogs, microblogs, media sharing, video streaming, social networks, forums, virtual worlds and multi-player games as the different types of social media. Molly said that if Facebook where a country it would be the fourth largest in the world. She went on to compare traditional media to social media.

Then Molly and Jeff got to the HOW: Do a social assessment, form a social strategy, construct your social roadmap and then adopt and collaborate.

Molly and Jeff, I enjoyed your presentation and the information that you shared. The AVAYA Social Media Manager seems like it would be a GREAT product for a medium-to-large company that seeks to have someone else manage their social media.

All that being said I, Annie Sells, am going to continue to do what I am passionate about and that is to teach the little ladies and gentlemen (small business owners and individuals alike) how to utilize social media tools and applications to connect authentically with the people within their world. Because once we know where we are, know where we want to go, form a plan for how to get there, begin the work and work together authentically connected, we may fail, but we might just get there.

Either way we will touch the worlds and lives of others and that is what it is all about!

Practice Makes Perfect – So (Re)Write, (Re)Connect & Share!

Recycle, Reuse and Reduce (Waste)

Recycle, Reuse (Content) and Reduce

Practice Makes Perfect – So Write, Connect & Share!.

Have you ever written an article, a review, a story or a blog and realized later that you didn’t do all that you could  to show it in it’s best light or didn’t share it with the right audience?

PowerPonit Presentations are (more) often (than not) recycled, reused and (time waste) is reduce(d). If in our middle school, high school, college and office jobs we don’t think twice about reusing content, then why is reusing content online, in our marketing and even our networking so uncommon?

I do believe there is nothing new under the sun.  But marketing and branding are about recycling and reusing the same old things from under the sun in a new way, with a different ray of light upon them to convey a different meaning or to get a different point across.

I challenge you to take out your old files, your old stories, you old content, you old blog posts, your anything and re-tool it!

You might not!  But if you do…

Cheers,

Ms. Annie Sells

A Special Thanks to @IngridElfver

I had to stop myself twice today, because people that I hardly know put forth the effort and took the time out of their day to compliment me and I am embarrassed to admit that both times instead of stopping, looking the person in the eye, smiling and sincerely thanking them for their kindness,

(head hung low)

1) I said a quick thanks and went on about my day and 2) I asked them why they were generous with their compliments toward me.

I wasn’t born yesterday.

I was taught good manners.

I don’t tolerate similar behavior out of my son, my adopted children or even guests in my home.

So why did I spend all day being respectful and thankful to my colleagues and then behave so poorly in my personal life?

Perhaps it is the same reason that we sleep in the day of our big interview, schedule appointments with other professionals and stand them up, or forget about important family holidays until the very last minute, or cower out of attending that funeral.

Do you know the reason?

Have you guessed?

We are all human.

All we have are the days of our lives and the people that we share them with. But we cannot be in more than one place at a time (even with social media and other marvelous forms of technology) and we cannot be everything we want to everyone we desire. However, we can stop and take inventory from time-to-time and attempt to make right the things we have done wrong, insincere thanks among them.

Therefore, unnamed day-care lady who comes to work daily and deals with mine and dozens of other children without thanks, thank you very much! Thank you for taking care of mine and others’ children and thank you for saying that you like my shirt and like the colors!

Also, a special thank you to @IngridElfver! Back at you: You are SIMPLY AMAZING! WOW!!

Who would question the Coach's Coach?
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