The Business of Baby Making: The Royal Heir and the friends he roams with

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The Royal Heir, Blue Ivy, North West…these little tots had their names in lights before they could even utter a word. The world is obsessed with the details of star studded births and the lives that these babies will eventually lead. Onlookers have been camped out at the hospital and at Buckingham Palace for days wearing ridiculous outfits, making baby gifts, and trying to get on camera as they waited for the Duchess to give birth. Across the pond, people are still waiting to get a glimpse of Baby North. “Daddy North” himself, got into a scuffle with the paparazzi the other day leaving LAX as they hounded him outside. With all of the commotion, we have to ask ourselves “when does the madness end?”
Now I must admit, I too flocked to the tube upon hearing the news of the arrival of the new Royal Heir. However, there are limits to how much attention we should give to the fierce grips of the media. Most parents, whether famous or not, want to enjoy the birth of their child in privacy. If it is their first child, the experience can sometimes even be a little overwhelming. I can’t imagine any new mother wanting to deal with strangers stalking them for a photo or a chance to hold their baby. To play devil’s advocate, the new Royal Heir is a little more important than say Blue Ivy or North West, simply because of their potential position in the scope of world affairs. This little bundle of joy could be a deciding factor in international relations one day. Lest we forget about Charles and William, who are ahead of the little tot for the title of the ruler of England, can we just let the little one learn how to burp first? Once he starts walking we can then latch on to another aspect of his life that appeals to our voyeuristic tendencies.

Top Notch Tuesday: Katrina Campins

I am a self professed Reality TV junkie! My obsession with Reality TV began as a way to "veg out" and clear my head, but over the years I have found inspiration in my self professed guilty pleasure. Years ago while watching 'The Apprentice', a young entrepreneur made a lasting impression on me. Miami native Katrina Campins had a spark that seemed to jump out through the television screen. For some reason I felt as though her presence on The Apprentice was just the beginning. Turns out I was exactly right....

Katrina Campins is an ultra savy businesswoman who has invented her amazing career on her own terms. Although known in the business arena as a real estate expert, Campins has also branched out and created a brand that gets her recognized for her amazing sense of style, and her unique twist on real estate and business development. Campins realized early on that she had a knack for expanding beyond simply "selling a house". She lends her expertise to budding entrepreneurs and potential investors with guests appearances on outlets such as Fox, MSNBC, CNBC, and now with her show on The Style Network. Her amazing success record has proven that loving all things fab and fancy doesn't have to diminish your credibility.  More than "just a pretty face", she definitely holds her own amongst the Big Boys in the boardroom while also gracing the covers of magazines. She flipped her first property at the age of 17, and received her first six figure commission while still in school at the University of Miami. With a head start on the competition, Campins continued to go out and forge relationships that would allow her business to flourish and grow immensely. Her celebrity clientele boasts about her top notch expertise and her flawless attention to detail.

Haute Living magazine features an article on Campins' footprint on Miami real estate

In a world where everyone is using and abusing the power of Reality TV, it is extremely refreshing to see someone who has used it to catapult their brand to even larger heights of greatness!
To find out more about Katrina Campins, visit her site

Know anyone who has increased their level of professional success through reality tv? Who is your reality tv inspiration?

Essence Music Festival creates huge economic boost

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This past weekend marked the 19th Annual EssenceMusic Festival in New Orleans Louisiana. It is considered a “party with a purpose” and draws in over 400,000 attendees from all over the world. It was started by Essence magazine, and has now grown into a huge movement that has expanded beyond the music. The event not only features big name and independent artists, but is also a star-studded event with seminars, discussion groups, fashion shows, and guest speakers. And for the people of New Orleans (or as it is affectionately called, NOLA), the Essence Music Festival (EMF) also presents the opportunity for huge business profits.
The festival not only gives budding entrepreneurs a chance to come and set up shop onsite, but it also gives local business owners a boost in sales. Hotels, Restaurants, beauty salons, and clothing stores native to NOLA all benefit from the EMF foot traffic, receiving tons of free publicity due to the massive amount of social media updates over the course of the festival weekend. Instagram and Twitter went bananas with many using the hashtags #NOLA and #EMF, and sharing Check-ins at local NOLA attractions. A local NOLA news outlet reported that profits over the weekend boosted an increase of $100 million. There is a huge focus on community in the city, and many of the business owners are afforded opportunities to build relationships that transcend over time, with festival goers returning to patronize these businesses every year. Local jewelry and fashion designers hold their breath as they wait to get their “big break”, hoping to approach a touristy celeb that will support their products and share info with their thousands of Twitter and Instagram followers.
With a focus on community, EMF has proven to be the ultimate opportunity for increase in commercial activity. Whether there is an exchange of goods and services onsite, or a networking connection that leads to further growth, both small and large small business owners would be amiss not to take advantage of the massively growing festival.
Check out the local festivals in your region for networking opportunities and for a new customer base. Opportunities are everywhere!

The One Man Show: Small Business Owners make a big splash in the marketplace

On an International spectrum Americans are known as the creatures who run to fro latte in one hand, smartphone in the other tweeting their way to their next big break. The culture of American business has changed over the past decade due to changes in our every day subculture. We now live in an environment where the small business owner can now become a millionaire without having to dish out a single check for payroll.

The name 'Small Business' is actually sometimes a misnomer. The term "small" doesn't always refer to the financial fruitfulness of a company,  but rather to the number of players who create the model of business success. With the increase in freelance activities and virtual assistants, business owners can keep their costs low and focus on prospecting for new clients. Media giant Forbes magazine has highlighted the increase in small business multimillionaires, citing the rising number of construction and real estate related success. Though some areas have experienced a decline in real estate revenues, construction and real estate professionals have learned to diversify their skills and focus on subtarget markets that allow their businesses to thrive. They have also caught on to the notion of cutting back on overhead by using subcontractors and 1099 employees. Other small business multimillionaires such as "Mompreneur" Bethenny Frankel have created businesses from home that have taken on a life of their own simply with the use of a laptop and a smartphone.

Are you sitting on a goldmine that hasn't reached its million dollar potential?  What changes could your business make that would lead to small business success?

Top Notch Tuesday: Spotlight on Paula Deen

My social media networks are flooded with people whom I follow based on their expertise, interesting character, and inspiring words. I follow tons of writers, publicists, and media professionals who constantly remind me to continue to strive for my goals. I created Top Notch Tuesday as a way to share with my readers the inspiration that I get from the people I follow, and to also remind them of the inspiration that they can get from the people they follow. Regardless of your area of expertise, networking and the sharing of ideas is essential to your long term growth.

I had originally planned on featuring a different person for my first Top Notch Tuesday [ TNT ]. I wanted to feature a spotlight on someone who has given me inspiration with their posts across many different media outlets. But then it dawned on me; MY TNT is not necessarily everyone else's TNT. I also decided that perhaps a TNT feature should also feature what NOT to do with the public platform you were given. With the controversy in the news this week, it became evident that I needed to feature Ms. Paula Deen for my first TNT.

Paula Deen has become a household name over the past several years with her cooking shows, cookbooks, and restaurants. Her larger than life Southern Belle persona has warmed the hearts of many, and made them fall in love with happy-go-lucky southern style cook. This week, however, has proved to be a nightmare for Deen, as a taped deposition featured her admitting to using racial slurs and telling inappropriate racist jokes. The media uproar immediately ensued, and ended with The Food Network deciding not to renew her contract for her show. Some people have cheered on the network for taking a stand against bigotry, while others have come out in droves to support her. There have been protests both good and bad in front of her Savannah Georgia restaurant, and interviews with locals with mixed emotions. Deen has even released videos of her apologizing to her fans for her "lapse in judgment" and horrendous mistake. But for some loyal followers, her apology has not been enough.

Being a public figure comes with a sense of responsibility that is often unfair. However, as many have stated in the past, it is understood that it is all a part of the game and that everyone needs to adhere to certain mores of society. There are people who look up to public figures, whether fairly or unfairly, and expect a certain sense of fairytale behavior from them. Once the person has broken the public's trust, they are often crucified and lose their seat in the public eye. A few months or years down the line, and people are saying "Oh yeah...I remember her".

Thus is the case with Paula Deen. Deen was not only a cook on a show, she was an entertainment personality. Her booming laugh and slow southern drawl attracted the masses and won over the hearts of Americans of all races and socio-economic statuses. While Deen insists that her mishaps were done many many years ago, the people are not happy with her letting them down. The let down is not related to how good her meatballs taste; It's related to her entire brand. People feel as though they've been duped. They feel as though they were falsely coerced into giving their emotional heart strings to someone who may have hatred in her heart for them. People are upset that their fantasy of spending the night at Deen's country estate and being met at the door with open arms is all a farse. Once you give your heart to a celebrity, they had better own up to the loyalty the public holds so dearly.

Before this week Deen could have been considered to be the ultimate TNT. She had created a brand that no one else shared with her at the time. Paula Deen's brand was not just for self proclaimed foodies; it was for everyone who thought of her as the friendly neighbor next door who invited you over for lemonade and pound cake. Her recipes and cooking show appearances were not just about her food; they were about her friendliness and the way she made you smile.  This new scandal has caused a major destruction of her entire brand. If people are no longer trusting of your personality, what do you do? How do you bounce back and create a new image for yourself that allows the people to trust you again? And to make matters worse, Deen worsened her situation by flaking out on an interview with The Today Show's Matt Lauer, where she was scheduled to discuss the controversy. Seems as though Deen needs someone along the likes of Olivia Pope to help fix her situation. If not, this may be the end of her public persona.

What do you think of the Paula Deen controversy? Do you hold her accountable to make things right with her fans?

Tech Spotlight: Instagram introduces video

A few days ago we posted an article from Tech Crunch announcing that Instagram would be adding video capabilities. While many social media enthusiasts have started using Vine, the techies of the web have a feeling that those Vine videos will soon be left rotting on the line as users flock to Instagram. Using Instagram over Vine allows users to get all of their content on the web immediately without having to switch platforms.

In reporting on their new feature Instagram said that their new feature was an important feature for their users because "some moments need more than a static image to come to life". Giving us more sharing options now, your Instagram app will now feature a movie camera icon that you can tap to enter video mode and upload up to 15 seconds of video. There are also 13 filters to choose from when personalizing your videos.

Will you use Instagram over Vine for your video uploads? Tell us about your experiences with Vine and Instagram.

How to get mentioned on The Huffington Post

These days most media outlets find themselves inundated with requests for coverage of the latest products or new projects. But unless you have a Momager named 'Kris', you had better get comfortable and take a seat while all of the other top stories get first dibs on coverage from the top media outlets.
Fortunately for budding artists and small businesses your marketing and PR campaign doesn't always have to be an intricate scheme with lots of bells and whistles. Sometimes simplicity works just as well as a million dollar PR budget.  This week, rapper J. Cole not only announced that he was moving up the release date for his next album, but he also decided to offer $1 tickets to his multi-city US tour. In a time when people are spending $200-300 on concert tickets,  Cole has struck the marketing jackpot by offering this once in a lifetime experience.  New to the rap scene, Cole is expected to release his sophomore album 'Born Sinner' on June 18th. Cole took to his Twitter account to announce that he would be moving up his album release date in order to compete with controversial rapper Kanye West. After this rare announcement,  he also announced that he would be giving away $1 tickets to his concerts. Naturally tickets sold like a hot plate of food during a famine,  and people all over the web-some whom have never even heard of Cole-have peaked an interest in the NC rapper.  Top media outlets such as Huffington Post and Billboard magazine have run feature stories about the marketing genius of his brand. 
The moral of the story...go out on a limb! Sometimes you have to do something crazy in order to gain profitable exposure. You have to show that your fan or customer base is more important than the short term financial gain. People will appreciate your generosity and your tenacity, which will allow you to solidify your existing clientele and gain new followers who are curious about your product. As with any form of social interaction, whether it be in person or via the web, you still have to be mindful of your audience. What works for a 20-something rap star does not necessarily bode well for a 40-something CEO of a Marketing Management company. However, both parties should be able to loosen the reigns and take risks every so often. Offering steep discounts or free gifts is always a great way to win over your fan base. If the profit margin does not cause you to have to give up your dream and close shop, then why not take the risk? After all, all you have to lose is the opportunity to gain a new pool of clients that will help you to fulfill your dreams and get you a feature story on the landing page of the Huffington Post. 
What are your thoughts on offering discounts to your clientele? What has your business done in the past to compete with the competition?

Mobile Apps for Savy Business Owners

Summer is here, and it is time to take advantage of the warm weather and enjoy the rays before they are long gone. Unfortunately for most small business owners, built in vacation days do not always come with the territory. But that doesn't mean that you can't still reward yourself with time off and still manage to stay on top of your business operations. With the advent of smart phones and tablets, you can still do many of the same things you normally do in the office while you are on the go! Here are a few mobile apps that can keep you abreast of your daily business operations while you are lounging by the pool:

  • Wunderlist This app has become my absolute favorite for keeping me organized. Wunderlist is a free mobile app that allows you to make To Do lists with different categories. Separate your tasks into work related lists, Personal, Wish Lists, and many more. You can even add your own customized lists and sort them according to their order of importance.   
  • Google Drive Google Drive is the answer to the mobile business owner's needs. Create documents for all of your business needs, and even share documents with others at the touch of a button. 
  •  Fill & Sign PDF Forms The name is self explanatory, but the concept is genius. Closing a deal on the go sometimes means signing important docs that must be protected in a PDF form. With this convenient app you can fill and sign pdfs, attach photos, saved created docs, and mail them to the appropriate parties.  
  • Go To Meeting Go To Meeting makes it easier to communicate with staff members and colleagues, and even attend or conduct webinars. This mobile version allows you to do everything that is possible with Go To Meeting on the web, including the ability to tap a link within an email to go straight to the meeting. You can even type Q&As and hand off presentation control all within the app.  

  • Square Register If your business consists of retail sales, you don't have to discontinue your sales just because you are not in your storefront. Square Register allows you accept credit and debit cards wherever you go by adding a small card reader onto your cell phone. Funds are deposited to your linked account within one to two business days. Summer travel doesn't have to mean losing money by neglecting your business. The beauty of technology and access to free and reasonably priced resources allows you to make the most of your business and still enjoy your time away from the office.  

 What are some of your favorite mobile apps? What is your advice to business owners who are on the go?

Last minute tax tips

You had very good intentions, but like millions of other Americans you waited until the very last minute to file your taxes.  As the agony of the dreaded Tax Monday looms over your head, here are a few last minute things to consider. 

Filing an extension-Many may have been reluctant to file an extension on their taxes because they're afraid it will raise a Red Flag for Uncle Sam and cause them to get audited. Contrary to popular belief, filing an extension does not necessarily mean a red flag for you to get audited. Although they may seem heartless, the IRS does understand that some people do in fact need more time. Unforseen circumstances or uneducated taxpayers may discover last minute things that need to be corrected. If you planned on filing your taxes but feel as though an accountant may be able to help you more, by all means file for an extension and find a good accountant.  However,  keep in mind that if you owe, you will still be responsible for any interest that accrues during this time.

Payment plans-You owe a whopping sum of money to Uncle Sam, but you pockets won't allow you to pay it all at one time. Instead of panicking about the amount of interest that will come crashing down over your head, or running away and turning a blind eye to your debt, contact the IRS yourself. You can arrange to make payments on your debt instead of waiting for them to apply more interest to your unpaid debt. In the event that you take initiative and contact them yourself instead of allowing them to make the first move,  your interest may be as low as 3%.

Check,  Check, and Double Check-The #1 mistake that most people make when filing their taxes is adding up their final totals. Millions of people every year dilligently take their time going through every section of their taxes only to get to the final page and make costly mistakes with the final addition and subtraction of each section. Pay close attention to all of your numbers, and if possible have someone else check behind you. Small errors could mean long delays in processing your taxes for the year.

Breathe-After you're done with the thorn in your side, breathe a sigh of relief. Its better to get the daunting task out of the way and carry on carefree.
And once you're done take advantage of some of the perks that local businesses offer to alleviate the stress of filing your taxes. Cinnabon offers free minis to their customers on the evening of Tax Day, Arby's offers free fries, and Office Depot offers free shredding of up to 5 pounds of paper until May 1st.

Why you absolutely must fail

I don't know anyone in their right mind who would jump out of an airplane without a parachute. Nor do I know anyone who would go skiing in the mountains without a coat. There are certain things in life that you do where you just have to apply practical knowledge. When "Sue Johnson" down the street decided to open up her dessert delivery company she realized that she did not have a parachute. But instead of sitting there on the plane afraid to jump, she took the plunge anyway. Sue knew that it was now or ever if she was ever going to go after her dream of becoming a business owner.

Going into business for yourself can be one of the scariest things you will ever encounter. But if you do it right, it can also be the most fulfilling thing you've ever encountered in your life. What most tend to overlook is that part of "doing it right" includes the fair amount of failure.

There are many reasons why we should embrace failure. First and foremost, the best lessons come from our failures; not our successes. Receiving praise for something done well does not stick out as much as being shunned for doing something badly. The affects and the scrutiny you endure after a bad decision are far more overreaching than a simple pat on the back for doing a good job. And when those bad decisions are tied to your purse strings, the affects may hurt even more. Losing a major client because you did not perform well can give you the clarity and the big reality check that you need to make you realize that restructuring your business is essential for your continued success.

Failure also tests your endurance. Being told that you are not good at something is a huge blow to your ego. Being a small business owner is the ultimate test in egomania. Even if people do not actively express their dissatisfaction for your business acumen, their actions will speak louder than words. By not doing business with you, they are silently expressing that your goods or services are not up to par for their tastes. If your heart is truly in to improving your business, you will take the time to revamp and restructure your business. Perhaps the packaging on a particular product is not up to par; or perhaps your turnaround time for delivery of services is not quick enough....either way, if your business is important enough to you, you will make changes and tweak things to show your existing and potential clients that you are serious about what you do. It shows that you are committed to achieving success regardless of how long it takes to get there. Not everyone is meant to be in business for themselves. If you have proven that you do not have the endurance to work on that success, then maybe entrepreneurship isn't the thing for you.

You can also learn how to tweak your product or service whenever you fail. In the event that your business is not going the way you expected for it to go, it may be a good time to break down all of the steps involved in your business from your business plan, your pricing, employees, and delivery of goods and services. Perhaps you will find that you are spending too much money in certain areas on unnecessary things that do not bring a fruitful return. Or perhaps you are not spending enough in other areas. Take the time to evaluate WHY you are failing, and you may end up with an even better approach to your business.

Far too often, people view failure as the ultimate kiss of death when it comes to their business. What they tend to forget is that there are numerous business owners out there who have failed several times before figuring out the magic piece to the puzzle. Sometimes failure is a way to remind us of our life's purpose. If we fail and keep going, then we know that it's important to us.

Girl Power-The Rise of Successful Female Entrepreneurs

The glass ceiling for women has never been lower. Thanks to a major shift in the mindset of women across the globe, women are no longer accepting the “shrinking violet” mindset, and instead creating opportunities for themselves. Although we’ve progressed tremendously and have seen women in power as CEOs and Heads of State, there is still a gender pay gap in the business world. The Good Ol’ Boys network is still very much alive and well. But those old school archaic mindsets have not stopped women from succeeding in business. Because of the double standards that are sometimes prevalent in the corporate world, many women have decided to take matters into their own hands and create their own destinies. According to a Forbes magazine article, there are 8.3 million women-owned businesses in the US currently, and in the next five years, over half of all small business jobs will be created from women-owned businesses. For once, women are able to tap into their creative nature and create promising futures for themselves on their own terms. Women who venture into the world of retail sales are extremely fortunate in the marketplace. Even in a struggling economy, women are still the top spenders in the nation. Women account for most of the purchasing decisions in their households, and continue to purchase smaller items such as jewelry and beauty supplies even when their residual income is less than their usual income. The allure of purchasing from a woman owned business is an added plus when making purchasing decisions. Women owned businesses tend to pay attention to smaller details in their corporate culture. They find it necessary to add money in their budget to improve their packaging or give Customer Appreciation specials; Whereas companies run by men are more cut and dry, and more need based as opposed to providing optional luxury items. They also tend to add unnecessary, but very convenient perks to their employees such as on site child care, extended flex time, and company retreats. They find ways to restructure their businesses to include the little things that make life easier for other women.

Smart female entrepreneurs have figured out that small tweaks to their businesses can land them big bucks. What may seem extremely trivial to the male consumer is sometimes the make or break decision making element to a female consumer. Having a warm towel at the end of each manicure is worth the extra $5 in gas you may spend to go across town to the competition. And having certain services outsourced to other parties to speed up the process and offer you a ‘VIP option’ is sometimes the psychological boost that most women need to make their day. It is no secret that people have a tendency to put in more effort in situations where they are the happiest. A stiff corporate environment where women are outnumbered and female ideas are not necessarily welcome is enough to inspire most women to take the plunge into entrepreneurship. By recreating their environment, they are much happier working 16 hour days than they would be in the glass ceiling environment at a major corporation with a historically dominant male leadership force. Flexibility and encouragement are key factors in whether or not a woman will be happy in her work environment. It also gives them more hope that their futures will be financially secure in spite of any male influence. Do you know a female entrepreneur that ROCKS? What secrets from their business acumen can others learn from them to improve their businesses?

Insta-lash: The upset over Instagram's new policies

Every so often users of social media will get one of those dreaded Privacy Statement updates informing them on changes to their social media platforms. Once again, “privacy” on social media is now being tested with the acquisition of Instagram by Facebook. In true Zuckerberg style, the social media tycoon immediately began to hit its users with changes to the application. Although it was announced last April that Facebook was acquiring Instagram, many people were unaware of some of the proposed changes. Unless you are a bonified techie you were probably unaware of its plans to unlink Twitter to Instagram, or its plan to sell your photos without your consent. Well, yesterday mainstream users were made aware of the plan to sell users’ photos without prior consent or compensation. In the spirit of American decision making, ‘We the People’ were outraged! The internet immediately began buzzing with people vowing to delete their Instagram accounts and boycott the company. A Tweet by CNN News anchor Anderson Cooper was retweeted over 5,000 times when he expressed his concern for having his photos shared without his consent.

Since then, Instagram has changed its tune, and decided to “review” their proposed privacy policies that originally caused such a stir. People essentially felt very violated and extremely used that the Big Boys of social media are using them to become even more rich.

If this isn’t a lesson in customer service, then I don’t know what is. The bottom line for any business is that you have to keep your customer happy no matter how large or small your business. Customers are what feed your business and allow you to operate and expand your services. The large amount of celebrity feedback puts Instagram in danger of losing one of its largest marketing bases. Social media is driven by the rich and famous, and people who want to emulate them. If this very large segment of the internet population stops engaging, then there is no longer a use for the product. While the original purpose of Instagram’s new photo sharing policies was an interest in what you are sharing, and not who is sharing, the end result was a million users who expressed outraged about their privacy rights. When you start throwing around legal terms and big words people feel violated. The beauty of Instagram is that people feel as if they are in control of what they put out into the universe. They find pleasure in sharing their moments with others, and even showing off their amateur photography skills. Instagram claims they simply wanted to be able to share important photos more freely, such as the photo taken during hurricane Sandy which graced the cover of Time magazine. However, the monetary impact on its new owners cannot be overlooked. They want to prove to Zuckerberg that they were worth the acquisition. Social Media allows anyone to instantly become the author of their own fate. Users can create content and instantly share with the world, in hopes that their creative content will go viral. It has been a God-send for people looking for an inexpensive way to reach more people in a short amount of time. While the products available to us almost seem somewhat magical to those of us who’ve been around a bit longer than the teeny-boppers, it is almost not worth the pain and suffering you risk experiencing if your one of a kind content is “stolen”. While Instagram may genuinely want to improve its product, what good is an awesome product if no one out there will use it? Stay tuned Insta-Berg; the people will not take this lying down. Check out these articles regarding the User Backlash: Instagram Reminds us that We are the Product For Sale How to back up your Instagram photos and delete your account Instagram rivals try to lure users away

Powerball Money Management

Every budding entrepreneur dreams of the day that they are free from financial burden. The stress of running your own business can make the average entrepreneur go crazy at the thought of possibly winning the Mega Million Powerball lottery. However, being handed a check for zillions of dollars may not be as stress free as it sounds. Winning the $550M Powerball lottery comes with its fair share of fiscal responsibility-more than many of us small business owners may care to accept. Not many of us have too much experience managing millions of dollars alone, and no millionaire should ever attempt to manage that much money on their own. If you want to hold on to the money you’ve earned for the rest of your life, planning will be the key element to your success. The very first thing that you need to do is hire a TEAM of financial advisors. Never, ever trust one person with everything you own. Tons of newly rich people have become suddenly poor after putting their blind trust into people who they assumed knew much more than they did about financial success. Even a skilled financial planner can sometimes become overwhelmed with a large amount of fiscal responsibility. Unless your money is being managed by Warren Buffet himself, then by all means enlist the help of several advisors. This includes financial planners, tax attorneys, tax accountants, and even that old long lost relative who is now financially wealthy and never even made over $25,000 a year. The combination of expertise and background knowledge will allow you to diversify your funds in a way that will allow your money to stretch further and further as time goes by. You also need to be honest with your goals as well as your debts. Tackle your debts first, because the goals you have in mind may depend upon what your credit score looks like. You also have to keep on mind that unfortunately all dreams do not always end well. You may dream of being a master baker at a chateau in France but if your baking skills are yet to be desired, you may lose all of the money you’ve dumped into your dreams. Dreaming is good, but having a cushion to fall back on is even better. Have your financial planner sit down and help you pay off your debt and estimate the debt you will likely accumulate in the near future. Once you’ve done that you can focus on chasing your dreams. Of course it will difficult to be a “grown up” about your money when you suddenly have many more zeros in your bank account than you’ve ever seen, but be patient and try not to change everything at once. No one is saying that you can’t buy the mansion you’ve always wanted and have matching Maseratis out in the driveway, but you still need to make sure that you cover all your bases and investigate properly. Be sure to go back often and look at your long and short term goals. They will still be making limited edition Maseratis even if you wait a few months to buy it, but you won’t get another chance to win $550M if you blow it. What would you do if you suddenly had millions of dollars to your name? Would you continue on your quest for entrepreneurial success?

Cyber Monday Scenarios: Marketing Madness

For the past couple of years, the holidays have been less about slow paced quiet time with the family, and more about the mad rush to save money spending money. While the Christmas holidays are a time of gift giving, American people have taken it to a new level and have begun to use it as a time stockpile the things that their hearts desire. This year we saw a surge in marketing, with stores starting their otherwise traditional sales much earlier in the year. Stores were open as early as Thanksgiving Day for people to begin their Christmas shopping. Many stores across the country remained opened the entire Thanksgiving Day with periodic Doorbuster sales every couple of hours. Most retailers who wanted to take advantage of the deal seeker mentality remained opened and got a jump on sales that have generally been reserved for Black Friday. Advertising and Marketing are key to retailers who want to get in on a piece of the action. Most people who take advantage of Cyber Monday deals generally do their

homework long before they begin their quest for buying goods online. Retailers and shopping websites began their email marketing campaigns weeks ago, with shoppers bookmarking sales and mapping out strategies. It's a God-send for people who do not partake in the zoo of Black Friday shopping deals. Cyber Monday offers an alternative to late comers and savvy tech geeks. Online contests and group discount deals have made the online shopping day even more attractive, and experts now expect for Cyber Monday deals to increase 20% more than last year. With smart phones and tablets with Apps that offer one-click shopping, it has become easier and easier for people to shop without taking time away from their daily activities. What is your take on holiday shopping? Do you think offering Cyber Monday deals has hekped or hurt retailers?

Personal Branding Petraeus Style...

In what seems like a scene out of an episode of 'Scandal', General David Petraeus' life has spiraled out of control and created a media frenzy. The highly decorated officer and former CIA Director became the topic of every news segment and the butt of every Late Night talk show joke when the details of his affair with his biography (Amanda) Broadwell became public knowledge. Although credited for his strategic success in the war in Iraq, General Petraeus is now being questioned about his moral character and his ability to be an effective leader.

The issue of this being a National Security Threat-

Almost immediately after the scandal broke, people began to say that Petraeus presented a risk to National security. Now obviously there is always a touch of Partisanship bias in a situation like this, but from a civilian standpoint, critics are essentially saying that by engaging in an inappropriate relationship with Broadwell that Petraeus essentially ran the risk of destroying "the brand"; and in this case the brand was the US Government.

While any employee who works for any company is entitled to their own personal life, there are some positions in which your personal life is an extension of your professional life. People want to see how you handle yourself outside of your 9-5. And they also want to make sure that people in your inner circle know how to handle themselves as well. The Officer's Wives clubs in the military have two purposes: essentially they provide services for military members and their families, but they also serve as a marketing tool for the military. The wives are a symbol of representation for their spouses, and many times superior officers look at the spouses as a sign of Officer conduct. Wives undergo informal "interviews" and investigations when their husband's are up for promotion in the higher ranks. A "proper" Officer's Wife is expected to be poised, educated, and supportive. They must also show the proper balance between being strong willed and knowing when to not rock the boat. A superior officer also wants to be sure that an Officer's Wife knows the unwritten code of the military, and would never share secrets of the organization. A wife must be able to be trusted with military secrets, and someone who is a 'Firecracker' or 'Line Crosser' is definitely a risk to the military. In the eyes of Petraeus' critics, Broadwell is definitely a 'Line Crosser'. Broadwell was never properly vetted, but Mrs. Petraeus one was worried about Mrs. Petraeus spilling military secrets. But now that Petraeus has betrayed her trust, who is to say that she (or Broadwell for that matter) may not spill the tea in the spirit of revenge.

Many military professionals underestimate the power of marketing themselves during their time in service. Military personnel are some of the most highly trained professionals in the world, and receive educational opportunities that many civilians would never be able to receive. Being able to use that background as a springboard into a new career path is heaven sent. But the key to successfully transitioning into your next career is protecting your brand at all times, and being cautious and strategic with networking opportunities. The last thing you want to do is attach yourself to the wrong person. It is essentially career suicide when people are looking at you in terms of leadership and accountability. Learn to keep a low profile, and be careful about blurring the lines between business and professional.

In the event that you do in fact make a decision that is detrimental to your brand, there are ways to bounce back over time. Showing your passion and commitment to being an expert in your field are definitely advantageous. People want to know that you actually care about what you do, and are not simply in it for the perks or accolades; especially when it comes to trusting you with sensitive information. Gaining trust after a public mishap may take time, but if you remain diligent about proving your commitment to your long term goals, people will eventually return to looking at your professional accomplishments instead of your personal hiccups.

Keeping a low profile during your time of transition is also a good idea. The one good thing that General Petraeus has done in the wake of the storm is to keep his mouth shut. He has been virtually nonexistent; issuing a small plea for privacy at the onslaught of the situation, and then slowly returning back to his corner to repair his home life. You haven't seen him cruising to the grocery store, or doing any exclusive interviews. He has taken a humble approach to accepting his fate and mending fences with his family. In the event that the public does forgive Petraeus, it will be important for people to believe that he has a sense of remorse. Behind closed doors, he could actually care less, who knows? But what's important is that the public must be convinced that he does actually care about cleaning up his mistakes.

The Qualities of Charismatic people

I recently came across an article on that talked about the characteristics of charismatic people. We all know that one person that makes us think, “What is it about her?”. But oftentimes we don’t even realize that the person who has the most charisma is often studying others just as hard as we are studying them. Forbes lays out 5 key ingredients that will boost your level of charisma and make people remember you whenever you walk into a room.

According to the Forbes list, a charismatic person must be: 1-Self Confident, 2-Tell Great Stories, 3-Conscious of their Body Speak, 4-Make conversation about the other person, and 5-Be a good listener.
When you put all of these genuine characteristics together, you have a great recipe for success. Having brains, but not knowing how to apply them is useless in today’s versatile business environment. Employees AND clients want people who are social beings, and can show a little bit of their humane nature. A person who is more social has a better grasp on what exactly their clients want. Talking to people and really opening up to them opens the door for an extended dialogue that may push the relationship even further. An in depth conversation with a client may unveil a few needs that weren’t initially discussed, and introduce the possibility of a deeper business connection. Whereas a short conversation with little to no personality may only uncover basic needs; leading the client to eventually go elsewhere for other business related needs.
Making conversation about the other person is a great way to further deeper your relationship. People want to know that you care about them. No one wants to have a relationship with a selfish person, whether it is personal or professional. If paying attention to others and actually being interested in their lives doesn’t come naturally to you, try and remind yourself how it would feel if no one asked about you. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and give up a few minutes of your time to ask them about themselves. And as mentioned in the article, Always be a good listener!
Occasionally you may come across a client or potential employer who is less than friendly. Many people may dismiss this for the people being mean or crass, but for some people it’s just not in their nature to automatically open up to everyone without a little coaxing. I had a client once who came back religiously to my place of business but never cracked a smile and never spoke to anyone. Most would assume that he was probably not that nice of a guy. But for some reason, I felt the need to do a little probing. I found out that he was actually a pretty decent person; just not very outgoing. He appreciated the fact that even though he hardly ever uttered a single word, I always took it upon myself to stop what I was doing to ask how his day was going and then WAIT for his response. It showed that I truly cared. I learned to soften my body language a little to make him feel more comfortable talking to me. And I tried, whenever possible to make small talk. Small talk eventually turned into conversations, and conversations eventually turned into funny stories. I will never forget that man, but it was first lesson in professional humility, and I managed to win him over.
Most people who show you their charismatic side are usually born with that gift. However, it is not to say that charisma cannot be learned as well. When you take the blinders off and become less rigid, you may actually find that there is a little charisma inside of you too. You just have to practice and come out of your shell. Once you’ve mastered the art of being charismatic, eventually it becomes second nature. Take the charisma experiment and make it your own; you just may surprise yourself in the long run!

Nicki, Mariah, and Image...Oh My!

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Today everyone is using nontraditional ways to get more media exposure. The constant surge of new reality television shows has now allowed celebrities to increase the amount of exposure they receive in between personal projects. But sometimes less is more, and some celebs need to remember that their heightened status need not be an excuse for poor behavior. In fact, heightened status means that they need to pay extra attention to what they say or do.
The latest Celeb/Reality TV stars to get entangled in a web of media mishaps are Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey; both musical entertainers with large fan bases. The two were recently added to the cast of judges on American Idol, and it seems the sparks have begun to fly even before the show has had a chance to air. On a recent taping, the two got into a heated debate in which Minaj proceeded to curse out her co-star and express her disdain for “herRoyal #$%% Highness”. Although the stories are conflicting as to who initiated the argument, people automatically began to side with Madam Butterfly Mariah and immediately criticized Nicki for her outburst as the video showed Mariah sitting there quiet and demure. The recent events now have some people wondering what this will do to Nicki’s image, but not many are questioning what Mariah may or may not have done to Nicki to send her into a rage of fury.
For those of you who may not be familiar with Nicki Minaj, the Pop Culture phenomenon emerged on the scene as a rapper, and has enjoyed an immense amount of crossover appeal in the last year or so. Known for her eccentric outfits and flamboyant personalities, it is safe to say that she’s not necessarily a role model for the masses. However, in spite of her controversial image, she is also not necessarily known for her threats and outbursts. So now that the star has been caught on film behaving badly, where does she go from here? Well, most people would say that the first thing she needs to do is hire an image consultant and issue a statement to the public. If she has any chance at salvaging her reputation with people who are not familiar with her she definitely needs to tread lightly and express a tad bit of remorse. People love a good heartfelt apology; and whether the person means it or not is often irrelevant. A good apology shows that you are human, and often will result in an actual increase in support. People want to know that stars are human and make mistakes just like they do. They will be a few onlookers out there who may actually appreciate Nicki a little more after an apology is issued.
Reality TV star Evelyn Lozada is no stranger to a good PR campaign. The ‘Basketball Wives’ star is known for her role on the show as the feisty, spicy Latina with a no-nonsense attitude, and is often the topic of controversy. Multiple episodes featured Lozada engaging in heated arguments and even physical fights with other ladies. After her much publicized (and short lived) marriage to former football star Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, Lozada sat down with Inspirational Lifestyle expert Iyanla Vanzant on Oprah’s OWN for the show ‘Fix My Life’. The show features conversations with Lozada and Vanzant regarding her previous behaviors on and off screen, as well as details about her past and her upbringing. Lozada attributes her “bad girl behavior” to her upbringing and tumultuous past relationships. Even with the amount of backlash she had received in the past, appearing on nationwide television and shedding tears and declaring her desire to change boosted her fan base, and had many people feeling sorry for her instead of disliking her. Her recent split from her husband of ___ days Chad Johnson has also boosted her appeal, as she shows her commitment to breaking away from drama and cleaning up her image.
Whether her campaign is heartfelt or not, one thing is for sure-Lozada has definitely mastered the art of PR. On the episodes of ‘Fix My Life’ Lozada appeared much more demure and low key. She wore very minimal makeup, and outfits that showed her soft, subtle side instead of her usual curve hugging sex kitten attire that many have come to love. When you are trying to bring forth a message, it needs to be believable, and everything about you needs to change. Social Media addicts may also notice the change in her presence on Twitter. Where Lozada would usually not censor herself and come across as a “no-holds-barred, say what I feel, keep it real” type of girl, her Tweets are now much more soft and sensitive and have much less profanity than before. As for whether or not Lozada will appear on ‘Basketball Wives’ for another season is yet to be seen. But I’m sure that if she does appear, we will see a completely different person than whom we’ve seen in the past. Branding is everything; and with the amount of new products she has on the market, she definitely needs a complete image overhaul.
With ‘Big Brother’s lens’ following their every move, people in the public eye need to be concerned about their image at all times. Not everyone is blessed to have a PR genius on their team, but there are certain things that go without saying when it comes to your public image. Posing for inappropriate pictures is never a good idea when you run the risk of having an intrigued viewer leak those photos to the press. Making inappropriate comments in front of people you don’t know is also the kiss of death for your image. Just ask Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney about trying to overcome comments that are less than sensitive. You can’t show the public one face, yet expect them to believe that you are someone else. We should all take a few cues from these celeb mishaps and file them in our memory under ‘What NOT to do’.
What celebrity do you think has had the biggest image overhaul? What celebrity do you think needsan image overhaul?

Minority Enterprise Development Week

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This week many people across the nation will be celebrating National Minority Enterprise Development Week. The National Minority Enterprise Development Week, or MED is the largest federally sponsored event for minority enterprise. The event was started by President Reagan in 1983 as a means of promoting minority business development. Since then, cities across America have initiated networking events and promotions for minority owned businesses. Small businesses in the area hold activities such as workshops and luncheons, and even encourage registered vendors to offer their services at a discounted rate in order to increase the volume of business in their particular industry.
To be considered as a minority owned business, the business must be 51% minority or female owned. By federal statute, the government defines a minority as: Black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, or Female. Events during the MED include networking events, business to business matchmaking, business recognition ceremonies, and marketplace promotions. Events across the nation vary from city to city, which a major celebration held in Washington DC to commemorate the event. This December will mark the 30th Anniversary celebration in the Nation’s Capital with workshops, reception, and networking opportunities.
To find out more information on activities going on in your city, contact your local Chamber of Commerce or City Government web page.

Back to School tips for Small Business Owners

This morning I finally did what I've been needing to do for a couple of weeks now: I stopped living in denial. Fact is, the summer is over and it's time to start another school year for kids all across the country. While a huge part of me is excited to have the house back to myself, I also realize that the start of a new school means getting used to new routines. For busy entrepreneurs like myself, organization is the biggest key to surviving the start of a new school year with having a nervous breakdown.

Although there is not much time left to prepare, there are still a few things that you can do to make the transition to the new year a successful one.

1-Join the App world-For those of you who may not have embraced technology as much as the rest of us; get ready to let go of their techno-phobic ways. Taking a a few minutes to browse the bevy of apps available to you on your smartphone or tablet is one of your best moves. There are tons of organizational apps out there that sync the calendars of everyone in your family, and allow everyone to update their schedules from wherever they are. There are also study tools for kids that allow you to take advantage of valuable study time while traveling to and fro. Lastly, apps like the Blogger platform and Evernote allow you to take advantage of jotting down great ideas on the go before they manage to slip your mind.

2-Plan for the next day-Planning ahead is key! Even if it means that you have to stop in the middle of your day, you will be grateful that you stopped to get yourself repositioned. I cannot tell you how many times I told myself not to stop in the middle of a task to write out a solid plan for the next day, only to forget pertinent things on my list.

3-Find a buddy-Rome wasn't built in a day, and it certainly wasn't built alone. Even if you're an entrepreneur that works alone, find yourself a "pacing partner", someone you can check in with to ensure that both of you are on track and completing your specified goals. It doesn't necessarily have to be someone in your same field, and it doesn't have to be done in person (who has time for that?!). Your pacing partner can be someone you communicate with via email, Twitter, or even Skype. If you're short on time, get a stopwatch and time yourself. Give each person two or three minutes to go over goals, vent, or give advice. You will leave with a clear head, inspiration, and a sense of accomplishment and direction. A pacing partner is a good way to help you stay on track and make the most of your time; thus allowing you more hours in the day to spend with your family.

4-Evaluate your financial needs-For small time entrepreneurs, this may be a little daunting, but its absolutely necessary. Taking the time to look at your finances may mean the difference between spending money on new marketing ideas that will bring you more clients and eventually more money, versus wasting precious dollars on unnecessary items that are not yielding positive results. You may be surprised at where you can trim the fat, and add or delete items on your expense report. You may find that you have more money than you thought that will allow you to give yourself a raise, and use the extra money on tutoring for the kids or taking mid-year vacations.

5-Ask for help-Many of us who are engaging in small business practices are faced with very limited budgets that don't allow for much wiggle room when it comes to hiring new faces. However, that doesn't mean that you still can't get help for your business. Turn to resources like family members or even a neighbor that you trust to help you with small tasks such as running to the post office or picking up the kids. If you can't afford a tutor, ask an older neighbor who is in high school or college if they would be willing to come over and help your younger child finish their homework or prep for a test. You can trade off things like dinner for broke college students or rides to the mall for high school students. If finances permit, by all means hire someone to come in and help you out with time consuming tasks like laundry, dog walking, or grocery shopping. If your kids are old enough, you can even count on them to help you get yourself organized. Teach your kids how to use the copy and fax machines, and have them sort through mail and clip coupons. Its a great way for them to earn their allowance, learn responsibility, and even get inspired to run their own businesses.

Getting back into the groove after a long summer vacation doesn't have to be extremely daunting. There are small ways that you can take advantage of the few extra minutes in your day to get on track and spend more time with your family.

What are some of the things you do to get back in the 'Back to School' groove? Share your tips with others who may be suffering the Back to School Blues.

5 Business sites that will boost your level of influence

1-LinkedIn-While LinkedIn is known for its business networking profiles, the site has recently added more features that allow your networking activities to go even further. While traditional elements such as uploading your personal resume and background info are essential, more and more people are now also using elements such as the “update my status” tabs, as well as elements such as LinkedIn today; a customizable tab that posts industry related topics and useful content to your page. You can also join group, post or apply to jobs, and use LinkedIn Events, a nationwide listing of events posted by LinkedIn members.
2-SBA-The Small Business Administration is often overlooked when it comes to starting and running a business. However, the government supported agency has a plethora of information for planning, starting, and managing your small business. With articles, forms, and tips on various business related topics, the SBA website can essentially drive your business for you. Sections of the website contain question and answers on various topics, information on taxes and federal regulations, funding sources, online training sessions, and ways to find mentors in your area.
3-Facebook-While generally thought of as an entertainment portal for young people, Facebook has become a must-have tool for business success. Nowadays at any networking function people will automatically ask “are you on Facebook?”. 2012 has seen a surge of Facebook Business Pages after the company decided to beef up their campaign to appeal to a wider audience by conducting nationwide seminars on how to use Facebook for business. This FREE website allows you to potentially reach hundreds of thousands of clients if done properly. New features include the Facebook Marketing page, which gives tips on business branding and hosts webinars and in person branding sessions, as well as features such as online ads, surveys, polls, and new page layout options.
4-Mashable-Known as THE guru of social media, Mashable is the web’s best kept secret.
No business savy professional can deny that social media has taken center stage in the world of business. Mashable covers all of the current trends in social media, marketing, and tech innovation before they even come out of the frying pan. Some of the featured posts on the site cover social media tips and navigation step by step, tech startups, development and gadgets, as well as lifestyle and entertainment. The site is a symbol of the changing nature of Corporate America, as its articles and slideshows deliver a nontraditional approach, often with a hint of humor or sarcasm.
5-Twitter-Simply put, ENGAGE. Twitter is an excellent way for you to engage with other like-minded individuals. Upon setting up your Twitter page, be sure to include the proper keywords in your profile that will allow people to find you based on your expertise. Post information about your product or brand, as well as pertinent articles related to your brand. Also, be sure to comprise lists that separate people you are following based on their expertise. It will allow you to quickly search for info and tips from industry leaders. One word of caution; be disciplined, Twitter has a bevy of information so it is easy to get distracted and engage in information overload. 
 What websites do you use to help your business grow? Do you have any tips for maximizing success on the websites listed above?