Monthly Archives: January 2011

Why First Impressions Matter

by Sandy Dumont, The Image Architect

The way you look and dress announces the outcome other people can expect from you. It also announces how you feel about yourself, and you’ll be treated accordingly.

Numerous university studies, including one at Harvard, have concluded that we make an in-depth and long-lasting “first impression” in a mere two seconds. We  think we make decisions based on serious considerations, and after much thought and time. Wrong. We choose the professionals who serve us and even job candidates the same way we choose our significant other. It is “love at first sight.”

Job seekers would be advised to dress to impress, because the one who is hired is qualified, of course; but he or she is the one who makes the right impression in the first few seconds.

The way you look and dress determines many things, including the tone of your day. The way you look defines who you are to the person in the mirror when you leave the house each morning. Self esteem soars when you see a mover and shaker, but there’s not much motivation when the person in the mirror seems to say, “Aw, what does it matter how I look.”

You sell yourself short when you don’t look extraordinary every day. If you only “dress up” when the occasion arises, that person in the mirror may look like an imposter to you. If you feel good about who you are and what you do, you want to shout it to the world by looking like a million dollars.

Image doesn’t cost, it pays. When you look dynamic, you get deferential treatment and are accorded more respect. Just ask social psychologist Kevin Hogan, PhD.  In his book, “The Science of Influence,” he asserts that when you meet people you put them in one of three categories:  Yes, No or Maybe. Hogan says the vast majority are in the No category and they are dismissed entirely. He says it’s difficult to get out of the Maybe category, and that only a few are in the Yes category. He contends that those in the Yes category basically have a high-status look and are well-dressed and accessorized. You’ll find wonderful tips about how to dress in a professional manner in the white papers that are attached.

Color is the cornerstone of image, and color preferences are embedded in our DNA. Early cave men and women noticed that if they dressed to blend into their environment, the wild animals wouldn’t notice them. This “instinct” still lingers. In fact, it’s the secret to the success of the early books on color analysis. They were popular because they confirmed our “instincts” that dressing to match our superficial appearance was a good idea. All the blondes beamed when they read that baby pink and other pastels were for them; while the redheads nodded in enthusiastic agreement when they saw that redheads were shown in rust and burnt orange. It was so “logical” and so easy! Alas, it didn’t work. It kept the wolves away, but it also made everyone look invisible. Invisible people pass by unnoticed. They are dismissed. They are in the No category.

If you want to stand out in the crowd and turn heads when you enter a room, you don’t want to blend into your garments. Think contrast. Take the time to discover whether you look better in cool colors like royal blue and cherry red; or in warm colors like teal blue and tomato red. It will make the difference between looking ordinary or looking extraordinary.

Make certain that person in the mirror is dressed to impress!

You can listen to the audio from when Sandy was a guest of Blog Host, Gail Z. Martin’s Shared Dreams podcast here:

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Filed under Guest Blogger, Image & Identity

Freebie Friday – Melissa Wadsworth

Melissa Wadsworth is a creative personal growth visionary, intuitive dream board expert, author and inspirational speaker. She has helped thousands go from blocked to brilliant through her books, personal guidance and workshops. She is offering you her “What You Notice Matters! Special Report as a f*ree gift. It details the top six challenges to daily success and the six awareness-based solutions to living more empowered.

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Perfectionism Sucks

(the life right out of you)

Why is that? What’s wrong with doing everything RIGHT? How can that hurt me? Bottom line – it isn’t sustainable. It actually isn’t possible. You may be perfect in the way you dress, sort of, for one day according to a magazine you read. You may be perfect in the way you work, according to your last boss some days.

The tricky part about perfectionism is that the “perfect” bar is never static. You envision exactly how you think you “should” be, and the second – the nano-second you reach that place, you reset the bar and continue to be just a little less than adequate.

Here’s some tips for getting PERFECTIONISM out of your way before it sabotages your best intentions for your life, your health and for your business.

1) Separate YOU from your PERFECTIONIST. That is NOT you. Maybe it feels that way, especially if you are ALL OR NOTHING. Spend some time stepping back and observing your behavior. You are not your mind, and that mind of yours, which created the perfect list, just made it up out of the ethers. There isn’t a place where the perfect whatever is engraved in stone. There just isn’t.

2) Give that part of you a new name – something that gets your attention and helps you switch gears. Maybe you want to call your perfectionist self something like “it’s Anal Annie or Perfect Paula!” Remind yourself that you are not your perfectionism. Perfectionism is just a way of thinking and you can change that…IF you recognize it when it comes. For me, it comes when I’m updating my web site, or even putting this article together. I can easily spend 80% of the time I have to put up a web page on details that NO ONE but Anal Annie ever notices, like perfect margins, a font color exactly matching a border, a tilt on an illustration, yaddah, yaddah, yada. When 45 minutes has passed and the font color isn’t just right yet, and my shoulders hurt, and I have to pee, but won’t until it’s perfect, I finally notice who has the keys to my life, and change drivers. (I’m trying to get that lapse in judgment down, but 45 minutes it is what it is at the moment.)

 3) Don’t expect to be perfect in getting rid of perfection. Sometimes these strategies will work and sometimes they won’t. It is a process – a process that is well worth practicing. Actually, thoughts cannot be eliminated from the mind machine.  It’s the same with muscles.  Did you know that you literally cannot make a muscle stretch, you can only relax it and use a different muscle to straighten that flexed arm, for example. Similarly, you cannot eliminate those thoughts of “You blew it” “You’ll never be accepted if anyone sees that off color font”. However, you can say, “Oh, there’s Anal Annie talking again and I’m a good enough ___fill in the blank___________”.   

5) I like remembering that a Persian rug is always made with one flaw, since only God is perfect. Today I can try to be a perfect God (Goddess, actually) or I can be fully human, running my business the best I can, pee-ing when needed, and moving through my life with grace.

To your just right day, with its little flaws, its charming quirks and all the fun you can bring to the day.    Sheryl Eldene, MA, MBA

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Filed under Motivation, Sheryl Eldene

Insights from Nature

by Gail Z. Martin

During the summer, our backyard is a lush garden.  At this time of year, it’s just a shadow of its former glory.  Sometimes when I look out the window, I feel sad because what’s left is scrubby and pale.  I feel that way on bad days about life in general, too.  Some days it just seems like the color has been leeched out of everything.  Then I remember the garden.  I know we’ve planted dozens of tulip and daffodil bulbs out there.  Many of them came from my late mother-in-law’s garden, so they are a wonderful reminder of what a strong, loving woman she was and how important an influence she was in my life.  I can’t see those bulbs right now, but come spring, they’ll be fantastic.  Most of the plans are perennials, so although they look scrubby now, they will be amazing when it warms up.  I try to remind myself that although on certain days I feel far away from the results I want to accomplish, in reality, the seeds and bulbs have been planted and in due time they will blossom, just like the garden in the backyard.

Have you ever gotten a business or personal insight from something in nature?  Please share!

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Filed under Gail Z. Martin, Inspiration

Three Ways to Overcome Your Fears!

By Melissa Wadsworth

It’s natural to think: “If I feel passionately enough about my dream or my goal I will act to make it happen.” Yet, this isn’t always true.

No matter how badly you want something, you can still experience blocks to action and manifestation. In fact, have you ever found that the more important something is to you the more blocked or stuck you get? How about times when you  push and push something to happen and it feels like your pushing a rock uphill?

Awareness of what dynamic is blocking you from successfully achieving your dreams is the key to truly believing in your dream and moving past blocks with renewed enthusiasm.

Here are a few typical blocks and tips for bridging your fear with inspired action that aligns your emotions to your desire and affirms your intention to succeed.

1. Fear of failure. When something is really important to both your sense of security and your sense of self, like creating a successful business, fear can rear its debilitating head.  The mental chatter tape starts to play: “What if I try and can’t make it happen? Then what do I do?”  Your ego mind may be convincing you that it’s worse to try and fail than to not try at all. So your precious dream remains a mental construct that doesn’t manifest into physical reality. It remains a “safe” possibility you can cling to and aspire to.

Solution: Believe your vision through step-by-step action. Once you hold a vision for yourself, make a mini-action plan. Remember, you aren’t trying to make your dream come true in one giant leap. You’re taking steps that can be evaluated for effectiveness as you progress. Progress is the operative word here. When you take steps with good intentions you can’t really fail. You’ll always be moving forward even if you feel like you’ve made an error. Each step informs the next step so you can always learn and self-correct. And if you celebrate the small steps, the small successes, you’ll create a habit of rewarding yourself for living the dream!

2. Fear of inadequacy. It’s common to psyche ourselves out when it comes to our big goals. We imagine how our lives would change if only we…. (You fill in the blank). Yet, when it comes down to taking a concrete action all of a sudden there’s all kinds of reasons that “you can’t “do that!” You’re not prepared enough or experienced enough or lucky enough, or smart enough to make it happen. You might even imagine that other successful people have that magic something you just don’t possess.

Solution: Appreciate that you’re the whole magnificent package. You came to this life with specific talents, gifts and interests. These have led you on a path of developing additional skills and knowledge. Life circumstances have produced further reservoirs of abilities and capabilities. When you understand that your life is not a mistake, you understand that you are fully enough to make your dreams happen. No one has the exact talents, skills and capabilities you do, because your life purpose is meant to unfold YOUR WAY. When your brain tells you different: don’t believe it!  Laugh, inventory your strengths, affirm your amazing individuality and gladly take a step that affirms your goal.

3. Fear of looking stupid or being unrealistic. I just spoke with a woman who has felt BORED and RESTLESS for two years. “Practicality” keeps her stuck in an emotional space that is getting increasingly uncomfortable.  When practicality helps you to simplify your life great! When you hear yourself saying you have to be practical and your heart feels heavy and you sense your dream life just got down-sized, not so great. Our culture tells us to be practical, yet daily supports irresponsible risk-taking behavior (a contributing factor to why our economy burned and crashed). What’s a level-headed big dreamer to do?

Solution: Balance dreaming and practicality. These desires aren’t polar opposites, no matter what you’ve learned from a parent or teacher or boss. Your best resource for balancing these two is your intuition. Don’t wait for intuition to pipe up; directly ask your intuition for input related to your dream or related to a specific action you’re considering, This is will help you  relinquish the habit of letting your brain override your intuitive wisdom. You can ask your intuition whether particular steps are best for you right now. You might get an immediate answer that pops into your head. You may feel a physical reaction. Acknowledge the feedback you get. If inspired, act on it. Also, stay open to the information the universe sends in support of your goals. Notice it!!  Intuitive dream boards are a great way to access your intuitive intelligence and to even see your future in a wondrous way.

Fears that aren’t keeping you safe in the moment are fears that don’t have your best interest at heart. Don’t believe everything you think! Rather believe what you can imagine, believe what you can intuit and believe in what you can take a few beginning steps toward. Believe that the universe has your back and wants you to succeed.

Melissa Wadsworth is a creative personal growth visionary, intuitive dream board expert, author and inspirational speaker. She has helped thousands go from blocked to brilliant through her books, personal guidance and workshops.

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Filed under Guest Blogger, Inspiration

Setting Your 2011 Intentions

If you haven’t yet set your goals for this year, stop here and consider what those might be.

OK, now look over your goals, and write down what you will FEEL when those goals are accomplished. Most of us are mostly interested in that feeling and are making the assumption that whatever we set as our goals will create that feeling. Let’s check that out.

Find a place where you are not likely to be disturbed for about 10 minutes, and put on your daydream hat. In your mind, move forward to December 31st, 2011, when all those goals are accomplished. Walk through your day with that vacation memory, that new corner office, that new pay check, your new staff, your new expanded client base, and just check out how that feels. It might feel just wonderful. On one hand, that expanded customer base may mean more commitment to being at the office, less time at home, or it can mean more passion for your work and for the service that you bring forward with a heart full of gratitude.

This year when you create your vision board (that collection of pictures that visually include your intentions for the year) include pictures that show what feelings you want at year’s end.  An easy way to create that board, is by finding pictures on the internet that you like, copy and past them into a document (I like powerpoint best because it’s easy to move and resize things). Then you can print that out. A web site, also has some helpful ways to create it.

The vision board can help you recall those feeling you’re after and can keep you on track.

To your 2011 Dreams!

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Filed under Intentions, Sheryl Eldene

My Resolution List for 2011

by Gail Z. Martin

Happy New Year!  I actually love the whole New Year thing—New Year’s Eve, resolutions, and especially the Tournament of Roses parade.  Ever since I was a kid, I have loved to sit on the couch (preferably in jammies) and watch the Tournament of Roses while I drink a morning cup of hot chocolate or coffee.  What a beautiful and hopeful way to start a brand new year!

And while I’m as imperfect as everyone else at keeping all my New Year resolutions, I enjoy making them, because they encourage me to be better than I would be otherwise.  The big resolutions also make their way onto my vision board, and those have an uncanny way of coming true.

So what’s on my resolution list for 2011?  Here are a few items—

–Make this the year I actually lose the pounds I gained “birthing” my business and books

–Set up speaking engagements in Montreal and Toronto (I don’t know where, when or for whom, but it’s on my vision board!)

–Expand the size and type of organizations for which I present workshops and keynotes

–Spend more time on social media reconnecting

So I’ll put these out to the universe and work behind the scenes to make them happen.

What are your resolutions—business or personal—this year?  I’d like to know.

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Filed under Gail Z. Martin, Intentions, Motivation


Welcome to Big Dreams and Hard Work!  This blog is dedicated to business owners, entrepreneurs, visionaries and authors who are committed to doing the hard work necessary to see their big dreams come true.

We’ll cover all kinds of topics related to success—marketing, self-awareness, networking, sales tips and more.  Our slant on things is a little different—we take an intuitive approach to business, emphasizing personal relationships, networking, and community.

Meet the blogger:

Gail Z. Martin is a bestselling author, international speaker and entrepreneur.  She owns DreamSpinner Communications and is the “Get Results Resource” for marketing strategies that work.  Gail is the author of The Thrifty Author’s Guide to Launching Your Book (Comfort Publishing) and 30 Days to Social Media Success (Career Press). You can find her online at www.GailMartinMarketing. Gail is also the author of the bestselling Chronicles of the Necromancer fantasy adventure series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, and Dark Lady’s Chosen) published by Solaris Books and distributed by Simon & Schuster.  Her new series, The Fallen Kings Cycle, will be released by Orbit Books in 2011.  Gail blogs every Wednesday.

In addition to our regular bloggers, we’ll be hosting a lot of guest bloggers, especially the amazing and dynamic professionals who have been guests on the Shared Dreams Marketing Podcast.  We’ll revisit their podcast interviews and expand on the knowledge they share with bonus blog info.  Look for guest bloggers every Tuesday.

Freebie Fridays!  Every Friday we’ll have links to great free downloads from our three main bloggers and from our guests.  Articles, ebooks, audios, videos—you never know what it will be, but it’s guaranteed to be great for growing your business!

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Filed under Gail Z. Martin, Sheryl Eldene