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7 Mistakes to Avoid When Using Power Point

I’ve used the Microsoft family of products for many years and have even trained others to use the Microsoft products effectively.  Power Point was one of the last of the “family” that I became an expert in using.  Power Point really is one of the most compelling and persuasive of all business presentation tools in the marketplace today.  However, if you don’t know how to use it correctly, it can have quite the opposite effect.  It can be your friend, but you must pay attention to a few guidelines.  Here are the top 7 mistakes to avoid at all costs.

1.  Don’t depend upon Power Point to cover up for your not having a compelling presentation.

In some ways, Power Point’s ease of use just might be its own worst enemy.  It’s so easy to build impressive slides that really pop with color and graphics, but the slides need to enhance what you have to say, not take your place as a speaker.  However impressive and compelling you make your Power Point presentation, make sure your spoken remarks are equally engaging.  Always remember you are creating slides to support you as a speaker.  To sum it up – Power Point makes slides, people give presentations.

2.  Don’t forget to…Simplify, simplify.

See that your charts are simple and easy to understand.  Make certain that your graphics really reflect your point.  Don’t just throw in graphics to decorate the slides.  Use short sentences or headlines.  Don’t repeat every word of your presentation on your slides.  Remember – it’s there simply for support, not to give the whole presentation.

3.  Don’t read your slides to the audience.

I’ve seen so many people stand up and just point and click and read the material that is on the slides.  It makes it seem that the only reason you’re there is to use the clicker.  After all, anyone could point and click, but you’re there because you have expertise in something and people want to hear YOU.  It also creates a very boring presentation when the audience is simply reading along with you.  Always keep eye contact with your audience.  Have much more to say that what is on your Power Point slides.  And for goodness sakes, don’t stand with your back to the audience so that you can read the slides. No one wants to see the back of your head, no matter who your stylist is!

4.  Timing is everything – Don’t ignore it.

Make sure your comments aren’t timed precisely with the advance of a new slide.  That’s distracting to your audience.  If you have a well-orchestrated presentation, your slide will appear when the audience has time to read it, digest what it says and then look to you to follow up with comments that expand the subject matter they’ve just seen on the screen.  Cheri Kerr, a pubic relations consultant from Santa Ana, CA, says, “Never talk on top of your slides.

5.   Don’t forget to use colors and graphics effectively.

Don’t let your presentation be boring or hard to read.  Use vibrant colors and striking contrasts with backgrounds and words in your slides.  Power Point offers many graphics as part of a clip art package, but you should search out and use outside images – both pictures and graphics, and even video.

6.  Don’t pass out printed material before your presentation.

Some folks may not agree with this, but I have found it to be terribly distracting to be speaking to a room full of people who are studying the handouts.  I recommend waiting until the end of your presentation to distribute printed material.  I know there are exceptions when printed material will be imperative, but let it be the exception rather than the rule.

7.  Don’t forget to take a break from the slides now and then.

Experienced Power Point users know that the slides are just a visual enhancement to what is being spoken. Therefore, they are not at all shy about letting the screen go blank once in awhile.  It’s an opportunity to give your audience a visual break and to give yourself a chance to focus on the interaction with you and your audience.  This is especially effective during a Q&A session.

Bonus: I know I said 7 mistakes, but here’s a bonus for you…

Never use a presentation that has not been ruthlessly edited and proofed by more than one person.

I’m an excellent copywriter and have made a good living with my writing skills.  However, I always have another set of eyes to proof important pieces before putting them before the public.  It doesn’t matter how good you are, you’re not too good to get someone else’s opinion, especially with Power Point, because it’s much more than just correct spelling and grammar here – it’s the use of color and graphics and must be appealing to the eye.  Don’t skip this step.

For a FREE 10-page report on Tips and Tricks to Using Microsoft Office products, click here.

3 Great Tips for Using Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is a wonderfully powerful and efficient program, but sometimes accessing that power is not as simple or intuitive as you would hope.  It’s really frustrating when you just know you should be able to accomplish a certain task with the software, but you just can’t figure it out.  Sometimes, even using the Help feature from within the program isn’t much help.  I’ve been using Microsoft Word for many years, and I’ve trained others to use this beautiful piece of software.  I would like to share with you 3 useful tips for getting the most of your Microsoft Word experience.

Creating Lists with Bullets and Numbers

  • Type your list and press [Enter] at the end of each item in your list.  If your information runs onto the next line, just let it run and don’t press [Enter] at the end of the first line
  • Select the list. Using your mouse, highlight all the text in your lists.  Once it is highlighted, look up in the toolbar and click on either the bullet list or the number list icon.  These icons have 3 little short lines with either small dots or numbers on the right side.
  • If you decide to switch from bullets to numbers, just highlight the area again, and click on the other icon.

Changing the bullets to another character – Sometimes you may not be satisfied with that plain little black dot and you want to make your bullet points more interesting.  No problem!

  • Look on your menu options along the top of your page.  You’ll see one labeled “Format.”
  • Click on “Format” and choose “Bullets and Numbering.”
  • Make sure the Bullets tab is selected.
  • Select one of the bullet styles that are available.
  • If you’re not happy with any of the styles shown, just click on one of the styles shown, then click on “Customize.”  You will be shown some different options. Some fonts are little graphics that can be used, or you can choose a character, a symbol, or even an appropriately sized picture.
  • When you’re finished selecting the bullet you like, just click on OK.

Changing the formatting of a word every time it appears – If you’ve used a particular word more than once in a document, and you have a reason to change the formatting, it’s easy to do when you use the “Find and Replace” tool.  Let’s say you want to change the color of a word each time it appears, or you want to make the font bold, or make it ALL CAPS, then is the tip for you.

  • Make sure you are at the very beginning of your document.
  • Press [Ctrl+H] and this will bring up the Replace tab in your “Find and Replace” tool.
  • The Find What and the Replace With boxes should be empty.
  • Enter the word you want to find in the “Find What” box.
  • Press the Tab key to move to the “Replace With” box. If you are simply changing the formatting and not changing the words(s), then put the same word in the “Replace With” box.
  • Click on “Format” at the bottom of the box.  If you don’t see it, click on “More” and your options will be expanded.  Make the changes from the formatting menu.  You can change the font, the font color, size, and many other options that you will see listed.
  • When you’re finished with your changes, click OK.
  • To complete things, click “Replace All.”

If you need help with any of the Microsoft Office products, click here for a 10-page FREE report on Office Tips and Tricks.

Please leave a comment and tell me what you struggle with most in Microsoft Office products.

My Love Affair with Myrtle Beach – The Beach I Call Home

My Love Affair with Myrtle Beach – And Why I Would Still Visit if I Didn’t Live Here

This blog post has nothing to do with business, but instead, is just a way to let you get to know me a little better.  I hope you enjoy it!

I’ve been visiting Myrtle Beach since 1953.  The earliest picture of me on the beach here was taken in 1954, when I was three years old.  It was a picture of a carefree young mother (my mother), her sister, and their children, numbering 3 at that time.  I believe that picture was taken on the north end of Myrtle Beach, in a section still called Windy Hill. The two sisters eventually had a total of 11 children, so with husbands, that made a group of 15.  It became a little unwieldy to vacation with that many people, so I don’t remember many joint trips as I grew up.  My Aunt is no longer with us, and my mother’s memory is fading, so when I ask questions about those early years here, I’m not able to get many answers.

How could I have known my life would take me all around the United States, until 1990, when I would make a permanent move to this beach that had been our annual vacation destination – both as a child growing up, and then as a parent, when I brought my own two children.

When I smell Coppertone suntan oil or lotion, I can close my eyes and the smell takes me back decades, when I can remember my mother rubbing it all over us to prevent the dreaded sunburn that would keep us indoors for several days.  These days, there are so many choices of suntan lotions and potions, and they all smell different.  Some are even odorless.  But for me, I still want to purchase the original Coppertone, just for the familiar aroma.  We had our little plastic buckets and shovels, and tons of shells we had picked up all along the beach.  We played for hours in the sand and the surf and my already-blonde hair would be bleached almost white by the time we left Myrtle Beach.

Later, when I was an adult and was raising my son and daughter, we lived in Charlotte, NC, for many years, and it was only a 4 hour ride to Myrtle Beach.  My Uncle Pete owned a couple of Airstream trailers that he had parked at one of the oceanfront campgrounds – he rented the very front lots on a year-round basis, so the sound of the pounding surf lulled us to sleep and we woke up with a perfect view of the big Atlantic.  Uncle Pete was very generous and let this very financially-challenged niece stay for free.  He’s gone now, too, but I’ll never forget his giving spirit to a young, broke family of 4 and how he made it possible for us to vacation in our beloved Myrtle Beach.

After my children were teenagers, we moved to an island off the coast of Georgia, and we had our own beach.  Trips to Myrtle Beach weren’t needed anymore to see the ocean, walk on the beach or listen to the seagulls.  I later moved all the way to the west coast, to a little fishing village on the Puget Sound.  The children were grown, in college, and I had closed a large chapter of my life and was now preparing to marry again.  My future husband, who was an avid golfer, planned a trip to – you guessed it! – Myrtle Beach  –  to play in an invitational tournament.  He had never been to South Carolina.  He fell in love with the area, and within 4 months, we had bought a house, packed up and moved 3,000 miles – to Myrtle Beach.  We’ve now been here 20 years, in that same house.

So, I’ve come full circle with one of my favorite 60 miles of real estate anywhere on earth – an area called The Grand Strand, with Myrtle Beach sitting right here in the middle of that strand.

I welcome any of you who want to come to visit and I’ll do my best to make oceanfront arrangements for you.  It would be a great place for an Online Marketers or Bloggers Think Tank!

What do you think?  Leave me a comment…

How To Get Rid of Computer Screen Glare

This is an article that I was asked to write for another blogger – a computer techie site.  It got so many good reviews and tweets that I thought y’all might want to read it as well.

If you have a lot of glare on your cpu monitor, it can be more than just annoying, it can be a health hazard, giving you eyestrain and headaches as well.  So getting rid of that extra shine is important, especially if you spend hours and hours staring at the screen.

Here are some tips that can help with this situation:

  1. Evaluate the position of your computer in terms of proximity to windows and bright sunlight.  Every room has a few walls that are not facing direct sunlight.  Sometimes just moving the furniture so that you’re facing another direction will fix the problem.
  2. Make full use of blinds, shades and draperies in a room.  You may not need to close them all day long, but at least have the option during the brightest part of the day.
  3. Don’t use a bright overhead light in your office or in the room where you are working on your computer.  Instead, opt for a small desk lamp with a soft light. Make sure you choose the energy-saving bulbs that are now available, which are still available with soft light rather than harsh light.
  4. If you simply can’t avoid a harsh glare with any of the aforementioned ways, you may have to resort to emergency tactics such as building your own anti-glare reflector to attach to your monitor.  Now, this may look funny, but it works. To do this, just tape several sheets of dark cardboard together and form a “hood” around your monitor.  Use the kind of tape that will not ruin the finish on your monitor.
  5. If you think this homemade hood looks just too goofy, you can always go online or to a good computer accessory store and purchase an anti-glare film to put on your computer monitor.  They’re usually polarized and have a purplish tint to them.

Whatever you do, don’t ignore bright or harsh light which makes it difficult to work on your computer.

4 Tips to Deal with Information Overload if You Make a Living Working Online

I am an offline business owner and an internet marketer.  I’ve owned my “brick & mortar” business for about 17 years, and it runs along pretty smoothly without a lot of research and discovery.  I’m grateful for that.  Now, the online business is different – it has required that I study, take online courses, attend conferences, learn, stop to put it to use, then study and learn more, and the cycle is endless for the forseeable future.  No one loves learning and new information more than I do.  I was one of those crazy kids who loved school.  There was something simply exhilarating about new information.  But sometimes, I feel the weight of information overload, or as some call it, “information overwhelm.”  I want to tell you about the ways I have found to deal with this very real problem.

Too much information too fast can really put a damper on your productivity and even your creativity.  We have to give ourselves some breathing room, some space to just think about things.  I know if you’re in the online marketing business, you know what I mean.  I would think about all those eBooks or eCourses I purchased that were just sitting there on my hard drive.  In the meantime, new offers arrive daily, sometimes hourly in my email InBox.  The information superhighway can be a place fraught with danger if we don’t slow down and enjoy the journey.

  • Don’t sign up for more than one new class at a time, even though it’s being offered by someone you know, like and trust.  You can’t divide your thinking and your time up but so much or you’ll suffer from overload and none of the information will sink in.  So at all costs, resist the urge.  If it’s that great of an offer or a class, it will be available later.
  • When taking a class, either live or online, find at least 3 “Ah-Ha” things that you can take action on right away.  Then do it!  Take that action – put the learning to good use right away, before you forget or find an excuse to procrastinate.  Put these action steps on your calendar.  If they’re good enough for you to pay to learn, then they’re good enough to actually schedule the correlating action.  Keep a notebook fo these actions that you have taken.  Call it your “Action Notebook.”
  • Work on one project at a time, or if you are researching a topic, set aside either a special day or even a whole week to explore just that alone.  For instance, if you are learning new WordPress or blogging skills, concentrate on only that.  A focused approach is much more effective than what I call a “scatter-shot” approach.
  • Take a day off!  That’s right – you heard me.  Shut yourself off from technology for a whole day at a time. Get away from your computer, your email and your cell phone.  Go outside, take walks, sit in a different room than where you work.  Get caught up on some fun reading.  Have lunch or dinner with friends.  You absolutely need this in order to function at your top performance.

All you online marketers out there, tell me what you do to deal with “Information Overwhelm.”  Leave a comment, please.  I really enjoy hearing from you.

Free Tools to Help you Keep Your Computer Operating Smoothly

Computers are not a luxury anymore.  Most school children are required to have a working knowledge of basic computer skills.  My 5-year-old grandson logs onto his father’s MacBook and watches his favorite movies via Netflix.  Before doing some training this week on this subject, I wrote out a list of the ways I use my computer.  Here’s my list:

  • Marketing
  • Training
  • Voicemail Switch Access
  • Accounting
  • Email Communication
  • Keeping Up With the News
  • As an Encyclopedia
  • Shopping
  • And the list goes on…..

How about you?  What would your list look like?

Since computers are such an integral part of our daily lives and business, we have to take care of them.  Some people just don’t know how to do that.  I’d like to cover some basics in this article, and give you some free tools to download to help you take care of your computer(s).

Keeping It Clean

In order to keep it clean, there is some routine maintenance that must be performed. This maintenance includes:

  1. Deleting temporary and junk files
  2. Cleaning your registry
  3. Cleaning up unwanted cookies
  4. Clearing your browser history once in awhile

If you don’t know any of those terms, you can do a google search and get information. Or, you can just take my word for it.  There are two free tools that will accomplish these tasks for you.  You should use both of them. The first is called Abexo. To download it, just do a Google search and choose one of the many sites that make it available.  The second is a tool called CCleaner, and you can find it on the home page at www.piriform.com.  That website has several other freebies that you might want to take a look at.

Keeping It Safe

Staying bug-free isn’t just for pest control companies!  You have to keep your computer safe as well as your home. There are several different classes of bugs – Malware (malicious software), Adware, Spyware, and Viruses.  They all require a different approach.  The worst thing about a virus is that it has the ability to replicate itself.  Viruses are nasty.  One way to avoid viruses is to NEVER open an attachment that comes in an email unless you are really sure of the sender and you are confident that the attachment is something you are expecting and need.

Here is the list of free tools.  I’ll comment on them at the end of the list.

  1. Spybot Search & Destroy – The best way to find this is to just do a google search and because it’s free, you’ll find several difference sources for the download.  Just pick one.
  2. MalwareBytes – You’ll find this at www.malwarebytes.org.
  3. Microsoft Security Essentials – Microsoft finally did something really right. This is an awesome product.  One word of caution: DO NOT run this along with another anti-virus product, such as AVG or Norton or McAfee.  Pick one and stick with it.  I am very satisfied with the Microsoft product, and would not pay for this service when something of this quality and effectiveness is free.  Look for this product on Microsoft’s home page /security_essentials.

I run MalwareBytes and Microsoft Security Essentials, and I could add Spybot if I wanted to without any conflict.

Keep It Organized

Degragging your hard drive is mandatory if you want to keep your computer running up to speed, literally (no pun intended).  Here’s a word picture for what defragging will do.  Let’s suppose you live in a house and you constantly take things out of drawers, out of cabinets, off bookshelves, etc. and you never put them completely away.  Pretty soon, you’d have a hard time finding things – it would take you a long time to locate items that had become separated or even lost.  This is what happens on your hard drive when you constantly use it to access information.  Defragging fixes that – it organizes your data and puts it all back where it’s supposed to be.

I defrag once a week, and more often if I see things freezing up, or slowing down.  If I am seeing these symptons, I will also clean the registry, run an optimizer and reboot.

Some people don’t do it as often, but whatever you do, make sure it’s regular.

Here’s my best tip for a free defrag tool:  Defraggler.  It’s also from www.piriform.com, the same company where I recommended you get CCleaner.

I hope I’ve been able to educate you and provide some useful tools that will cost you nothing but the download time.

Check out www.businesstrainingteam.com to get more information that could be a big help to you as you run your small business.

If you have other freebies that you’d like others to know about, just leave a comment.  I’ll include them in a report that I’m putting together to give away.

A Clean Office and Good Bookkeeping Lead to Profitability and Success

Do you think that appearances count for much?  After all, it’s what’s on the inside that counts, isn’t it?  The answer is no, it’s not just what’s “on the inside” that counts.  And yes, appearances mean a lot.  This can apply to any area of our lives – the personal side as well as the business side.  And sometimes the lines can become blurred because we conduct our business from home.  Here is what research has found…

I once heard from the president of a fairly large company that he could always determine if a business was headed for trouble by visiting its office or place of business and taking a look around at the housekeeping.  In his opinion, if the work space was sloppy, unclean, disorganized or a mess by overall observation, (on the outside) then it was no doubt a mess on the inside, too.  He figured that the outside mess and disorganization was indicative of sloppy bookkeeping, quality control, and customer service procedures and even sales tactics and strategies.

We do form conclusions by appearances.  Consider this case study:  A market research firm in New York sent ten good-looking young men out to some pre-determined corporate offices to try to get an interview.  The guys were dressed in jeans and tee shirts.  They were treated very curtly and sent packing by the receptionist without exception.  Those same ten handsome fellows were dressed up in quality suits and ties, and guess what?  Each guy was treated with respect and with courtesy, and two of them actually were given immediate interviews by upper management.  Although this is not a scientific study, it does indicate that appearances matter.

If you, as a business owner, take pride in your surroundings, then so will your employees, your vendors and your customers.  Confidence and pride are contagious AND profitable.

To do this, you don’t need to spend a fortune on an interior designer.  No matter what kind of office or workplace you have, (a warehouse office or high-rise digs), it doesn’t cost much to keep it clean and organized – the bathrooms sparkling clean and the windows washed.  Paint is cheap, and so is soap. These very simple things speak volumes about how much you care about your business.

Looking past the exterior, I’d like to talk about your record keeping.  If your paperwork is a mess, disorganized and inaccurate, you are setting yourself up for certain disaster.  If this is you, you’d better hope you never get randomly chosen for an IRS audit.  And you’ll pay way more for your CPA or accountant to clean up your mess at the end of the year that you would normally have to pay if you just had a good system in place to start with.  I am amazed when my CPA friends tell me how they discover work that was never invoiced at the end of the year, all because of sloppy bookkeeping.  It just isn’t worth all the headaches.  Get a good system in place and learn to keep it current.  I use QuickBooks but there are other systems as well.  Ask your CPA or accountant for a recommendation.

I urge you to clean up your office and your paperwork.  You’ll be so much more efficient and everyone will be happier.

Tell me how you rate yourself in the clean office/good bookkeeping arena…Leave a comment.

One Step At A Time…The Daffodil Syndrome

Oh, I know we’ve all heard that most of our lives.  Just one little step at a time and we’ll get anything done.  But do we really believe that?  Especially when we aren’t exactly sure where we’re headed sometimes, or how long it might take to get there.  I want to tell you a story today of a very real woman named Jean Bauer.

She was an art teacher in the Los Angeles school district and one day almost fifty years ago she began painting the hillside on her family’s five acres of land in Running Springs, CA.  She actually claims she knew nothing about flowers when she started this project.  Today, if you listen to her talk, she’s a veritable fountain of information about everything you’d ever want to know about daffodils.

Mrs. Bauer began in 1957 by planting just 24 bulbs next to her rustic cabin.  Each year she just planted more and the next year, more than that.  The most she ever planted was in 1993 when she put 35,000 into the ground, each one planted individually by Mrs. Bauer herself, by hand.  The five acre garden is entirely organic as it has never been artificially watered or fertilized.  Daffodils are toxic to rodents so they’re naturally able to take care of themselves.

Even though she may plant 1,000 bulbs a day, and most of them by lunch time, she says a good tip to getting it all done without being overwhelmed is to only take 200 at a time with her into the field.  To have more than 200 laying on the ground at one time would seem like too much to accomplish, but if she tackles it a little bit at a time, it just seems easier.  I think I see a lesson here for all of us, don’t you? Some bulbs have been in the ground more than 40 years and continue to bloom.

So, just one bulb at a time, one summer at a time, one season at a time, and one year at a time, this special lady has changed her world and created something of extraordinary beauty and inspiration.  And what can we learn from this?  To move toward our goals and desires just one step at a time, lovingly doing the things that bring joy.  Multiply these tiny pieces of our lives, these figments of time and we, too, will accomplish magnificent things.

Now don’t get all morose thinking what you could have accomplished if you had started 40 years ago.  Instead, think of what you will have missed if you don’t start today.  Don’t wait until the mortgage is paid, until the kids are grown, until you earn that extra degree, until you clean your closets, until you get married, until spring break, or the winter…or until you die.

Here’s to wishing you a Daffodil Day!

Leave me a comment and tell me what you think…I love hearing from you.

Tips to Get It All Done When Starting an Online Business While You Still Have a Day Job

I have owned a telecommunications consulting business for over 16 years. I started the company, I built it, nurtured it and enjoy a great little cash flow from it and am able to work from home. But, last year, I decided to branch out and create an online marketing business. I welcomed the challenge, and the opportunity to expand my market beyond my local geography. Some things became very apparent as I began to run on two tracks simultaneously.

Here is what a typical week looks like for me: (Note: I don’t have children at home anymore. If you do, this will look very different!)

I start each day off with a good cup of coffee and my Bible. Then, I get to work.
I work on my telecommunications business in the morning hours and part of the afternoon. Then, in the afternoon, I switch gears entirely and spend the last part of my afternoon on my marketing business. Then I break for dinner and come back to the office later in the evening and work several more hours. I find these late hours are the best time for me to do the writing that I do – articles, blogs, press releases, product creations, etc. I do this Monday through Thursday, working at least 12 hours each of those 4 days.

On Friday, I only work a half day unless there’s an emergency to tend to. If I want to work on Friday afternoons, I will, but only if I want to because I’ve given myself permission not to. Friday nights are usually date night with my husband.

Saturday is my free day – typically no email and no computer time. I almost never accept invitations to go out on Saturdays during the day – no wedding or baby showers, no parties, no luncheons, etc. I do my household chores that I am responsible for (that I have not outsourced), I make menus, shop for groceries, and spend Saturday evening however I want – sometimes with friends and sometimes just chilling out at home.

Sunday mornings are my private time when I read, write in a journal, pray, and get focused. Sunday afternoons I start to shift my focus to my work again, and spend some time in my office to gather my thoughts for the coming week and make sure I’m organized enough to hit the floor running on Monday morning.

My weeks are usually a 60-hour work week. And that’s ok for now, although I don’t want to do this forever. I have a definite goal in mind and now, this is what it requires.

So, as I have been at this for over a year now, here are my best tips for making a success of working two jobs when one of them is an online business.

  • Try your best to keep the jobs separated in terms of working hours.
  • Keep separate email accounts – sometimes 3 is needed (Job #1, Job #2 and Personal)
  • Outsource everything you possibly can, and I don’t mean just business-related things. It could mean cleaning the house, doing the laundry, grocery shopping, etc.
  • Get a really good telephone system in place so that you’re not a slave to answering the phone. Learn to put the phone on Do-Not-Disturb. Don’t give out your cell phone number to anyone but close friends and family who know better than to call you while you’re working.
  • Same thing with email – get a plan in place that works for you. Learn to manage your email before it manages you.
  • Use either an egg-timer or some kind of timer online to make sure you’re not spending too much time on unproductive things. The one I use is called Cool Timer. Just do a Google search for it – it’s free and it sits on my computer desktop, ready for me.
  • Minimize unplanned activities during your work week. Train your friends and family that just because you work from home, you’re not always free to drop what you’re doing and join in whatever they’re doing.
  • Schedule fun time. (See my comments above about Friday nights)
  • Make sure to put personal and business growth on your calendar. That takes time. This could be attending seminars, conferences once in awhile. Or it could be setting aside a definite time to take an online course, listen to a replay of a webinar, an audio book, a podcast or blog radio. Never waste time in the car listening to the radio. Pop in a CD that will add value to your life. Or, use your I-pod.

If you are in this situation, juggling two careers and working from home (at least part of the week), then please leave a comment and tell me your best tips to make it all happen.

Chasing a Lion and Slaying Regret

Have you ever really wanted to do something that required some risk and while you were still trying to make up your mind to be bold enough to do it, the opportunity went right on by, and you knew you could not get it back?  I have – on more than one occasion.  I believe that closer to the end of our lives, we’ll experience more regret because of missed opportunities than mistakes that we made.

Actions or Inactions – Which Produces More Regret?

Two Cornell University sociologists conducted a study and showed that time is a key element in determining what we regret.  In the short term, we lean toward regretting our actions, but over the long haul these sociologists found that inactions were more likely to produce regret.

I’ve done some really stupid things and said some really dumb things that I wish I could turn back a cosmic clock and undo.  I regret those things and those words.  But now that I’m approaching my 6th decade on planet earth, I find that I have more regret about the things I didn’t do, or the risks I didn’t overcome, or the opportunities I didn’t take advantage of, or the dreams I let die.

The Story of  Lion Chaser

There is a short and obscure Scripture in the Old Testament, found in II Samuel 23:20. I think it deserves a look. Here it is:  “Benaiah chased a lion down into a pit.  Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it.”  Now, we’re not told what in the world Benny was doing or even where he might have been headed when he came across this lion.  We’re not told what he was thinking.  All we know from this writing of antiquity is that on a gut response, he took a huge risk and despite all odds, he chased the lion and…killed it.

This is a very unlikely thing to take place.  Usually when a man-eating animal is encountered, a normal person would take one and only one action:  RUN!! But not this guy.  After all, wouldn’t this look good on his resume:  In 600 BC I chased a lion on a snowy day and killed it.”  Well, it must have worked, because Benaiah landed a job as a bodyguard for King David of Israel.  In fact, he worked his way up the military chain of command to become the second most powerful guy in all of Israel.  I like to think that his stellar career can be traced back to a snowy day when he had to make a choice to run away or chase a lion.  If he had run away, he would have always wondered, “What if…?”

So let me tie all this together for you.  The scariest and most difficult situations can become the greatest of experiences, and can actually become defining moments in your life.  David Whyte, English poet, author and speaker, says this, “The price of our vitality is the sum of our fears.”

Bedtime Stories Worth Telling

I want my children and grandchildren to tell stories about me that are worth telling.  Can’t you just imagine the bedtime stories in Benaiah’s household?

Stop running and start chasing. Make the most of every opportunity.  Rather than just avoiding risks, decide to maximize all the potential and opportunity God has given each of us.

How have you chased your “lion” and slayed regret?  Is it something you’ve thought about?  Leave a comment…I’d like to hear from you.