Monthly Archives: February 2011

What’s in a BRAND?

LaFern K. Batie, MBA
Business Strategist & Executive Coach

If I say “safe, luxury automobile” or “no frills, go anywhere airline” what comes to mind?

Regardless of the automobile or airline you chose, their brand power is in the eyes of you, the consumer, based on how you connect what you see, hear or experience with a perceived value. We are loyal to the seemingly simple and complex alike — from our favorite paper towel to the investment firm we choose to manage our life savings. What is a personal brand? Your brand, like any other commodity, connotes the value you promise. It sets you apart. Does it align with what others perceive in you?

When others see you, they see your business. Fair or not, you are a 24/7 walking, breathing billboard who has the capacity to present a strong, consistent and excellent image of what you represent. With so many resources available, where do you begin? With a personal inventory:

Who are you? Identify your five core values – those aspects of your life that are most important to you. How do they show up in the way that you lead and conduct business? Who you are and what you desire must align!

How do others see you? When you walk in the door, who do others see? Ask five individuals who care about you and will tell you the truth to provide five words describing you. Your business coach and personal advisory board members are excellent resources. Do they see you as intimidating rather than confident? Or less contemplative and more timid? Which perceptions need your immediate attention?

How do you desire to be known? Whether or not you give it intentional focus, your brand has been established. Are you the epitome of effective leadership or are you waiting on a pivotal opportunity before you show up as such? Among your colleagues or clients, what is different because you are present?

From personal image to business performance, your total brand speaks volumes to others about who you are, what you represent and your business’s capability to deliver on the promises that you proclaim. Now, what does your brand say?

My book, Marketing Brand You®: Moving from Chaos to Clarity, is available for purchase at:

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

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Filed under Business Planning, Guest Blogger

Freebie Friday – Gifts from Bobbie Christmas

This week’s guest blogger, Bobbie Christmas, is nice enough to share the following:

Bobby Christmas White Paper


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Manifestation through Balance

<div class=\"postavatar\">Manifestation through Balance</div>

by Sheryl Eldene, MA, MBA

During my corporate career, I was successful by using my strong will to drive myself to complete projects, and to please my employers. When I left corporate, quite burned out from 20 years of using that strong will, I was determined to run my private practice from the heart -to discover how to run a business as a spiritual practice.

What I’ve discovered over the last 15 years of managing the On Purpose Living center, is that without the discipline provided by that will, I can spend way too many hours playing computer games, creating new web pages and creating action steps that don’t get done. I am a powerful counselor, able to be fully present and to provide spot-on support when needed in my counseling room. However, without the discipline, I just jelly-fish my way through a feel-good day, if you know what I mean.

When I finally got very focused on what gifts I want to bring forward into the world and how I want that business to take shape, I began to see how those opposites of using my will OR my passion was holding me in an old belief pattern of the poor therapist OR the rich, heartless CEO. I am now on a mission to heal this distortion in my own life, and to create a successful business through helping people to bring their gifts forward and to become masters at manifesting wealth. Not specifically for the wealth (although that is important, too), but as a external mirror to the inner process of clearing, and allowing more and more of the abundance of the universe all the way through my heart into the core of our planet.

Yes, it is Big Dreams and Hard Work, but when that work is done purely from a strong will and without the passion of the heart, then it’s driving and striving, and eventual burn-out.

If you or someone you know is curious about the possibilities, let us know.

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Which wolf are you feeding?

<div class=\"postavatar\">Which wolf are you feeding?</div>

by Gail Z. Martin

There’s an old story about a Native American grandfather who tells his grandson about the two wolves that live inside of every person.  One is a light wolf that is brave and true, and the other is a dark wolf that is dangerous and can’t be trusted.  The child asks, “Which wolf wins?”  And the grandfather answers, “The one you feed.”

With all the talk lately about civility (and lack thereof), I got thinking about the wolves we choose to feed.  I’ll make a confession—I stopped watching TV news regularly about 18 years ago.  Now that’s an odd admission from someone in the marketing and PR business, but the reason is, I realized how negative and sensationalized TV news had become since the days of Walter Cronkite and Huntley & Brinkley.

Sure, I’ll tune in for the main points of a big story, but I won’t leave it on.  Why?  I don’t want to hear all the breathless speculation (from people who don’t know more than I do on a breaking story).  Have you ever noticed how the speculation becomes more and more dire, and then moves from true speculation into “experts” predicting the worst?  And how do you feel while you’re watching that?  Tense? Angry? Frightened?

It took a toddler to make me realize how toxic TV news had become.  Once my daughter was old enough to really pay attention to conversations, she would hear enough scary stuff on the news to burst into tears.  I turned it off to avoid scaring her—and realized that I didn’t miss it, either.

Now I’m still a news junkie.  I read five newspapers online each day and subscribe to about 15 monthly magazines (and read them).   But the amazing thing is, when I read the news, I decide which stories deserve breathless coverage.  I’m not being manipulated by the fake emotions of the newscaster.  I remain much more calm, even when I’m reading about something bad.  I fed the light wolf instead of the dark one.

So here’s a challenge.  Try swapping the TV news for an online newspaper or news journal magazine for one month and see if you feel calmer.  If you can’t switch off the TV completely, mute the news and turn on the subtitles.  Try it, and I guarantee you’ll start to feel less stressed, less angry and less at the mercy of the universe.

Let me know how it works for you!

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Filed under Balance, Gail Z. Martin

My Big Dream? Get Smaller!


My “Before” Picture

At age sixty-five I was, for the first time, feeling old. I had developed arthritis, and my knees, back, and the arches in my feet hurt so much that I hobbled and groaned. At times I feared my joints might give way. I had trouble leaning over to clip my toenails or tie my shoes. I read articles on arthritis, something many people endure as they grow older, and learned that weight and age were the most influential factors in its development. I didn’t want to devour all the painkillers my orthopedic doctor prescribed, because they could cause internal bleeding, and I’d have to take antacids, as well. I dreaded going into a medication spiral where every drug required me to take another drug. “I’m just getting old,” I told myself at first. After months of pain, though, I grew depressed. Who wouldn’t?

In the past when my pets grew old and their quality of life decreased, my veterinarian euthanized them. I pondered the word euthanize, a handy euphemism for ending a life. I didn’t want to end my life, but some days I didn’t want to live, if it meant more pain.

“I don’t want to be euthanized,” I finally said one day. “I want to be youth-anized.” I couldn’t change my age, but I could relieve some of the stress on my joints if I lost weight. As a sedentary writer and book editor, I topped out at a whopping 245 pounds after a cruise to Central and South America that I thought would have to be my last, because of my difficulty walking.

To youth-anize myself I needed to weigh 150 pounds or less, which meant I needed to lose ninety-five pounds. Ninety-five pounds? That’s a whole other person!

Food is my downfall. I love sweets and salty snacks. I eat when I’m hungry; I eat when I’m not hungry. I eat when I’m happy; I eat when I’m sad. I eat when I’m bored; I eat when I’m excited. I’ve overeaten for my entire life and have always weighed more than I should.

Nothing else would do, though. If I wanted to get youth-anized, I had to eat less food and get more exercise. I also needed to stay motivated for a long time, to meet such a hefty (pun acknowledged but not intended) goal. How can a single person living alone find the incentive to keep moving toward a long-term goal?

In previous years I’d joined groups, read books, and tried every diet. In truth they all worked, but I always quit following them after a while. I already knew how to lose weight, but how could I stick to a diet long enough to lose almost one hundred pounds? Every time I thought of dieting, a streak of fear ran through me.

Wait!  A flash of brilliance came to me. I know what to do! I am, after all, a writer!

Deciding that “diet” was a four-letter word that struck fear in my heart, I began a blog called “Don’t You Dare Call It a Diet.” I spelled out my intentions for anyone to read. I revealed the horrid truth of my weight in hopes that “putting it out there” shamed me into doing something about it. I revealed how I planned to lose weight through healthy eating and exercise, and I promised to weigh in every Monday and report my progress. I sensed that if I made my intentions public, I could not back down and give up.

Years ago a nutritionist gave me information on a healthy food plan created for diabetics, and I decided to follow it. I’m not diabetic, but if I kept eating the way I did, I soon would eat myself into type 2 diabetes, one of the many dangers of being obese. The diabetic food plan calls for lots of vegetables and fruits, controlled portions of protein, and limited starches and sugars. All real food. No fees. No meetings. No shots. No pills. I could do that.

Although I already belonged to a nearby gym, I had gone there only a few times. I set up a schedule to swim and do water aerobics at least once a week. If I could get there twice a week, it would be even better, but I’m still working full-time as a book editor.

Once I drastically reduced my starches, carefully guarded my portions, and worked out regularly, the weight began to melt away. On my blog I reported healthy-eating tips as well as my weekly weight loss, usually one or two pounds a week, and people wrote to say I had motivated them, and they were losing weight. I was helping others? An unexpected bonus!

By the time I lost twenty pounds, the pains in my knees, back, and feet became minimal. Now that I’ve lost forty-five pounds, I’m practically pain free. I can walk as long as I like and even sprint up stairs. If you happen to face challenges with your stairs, curved stair lift installation can provide the necessary assistance to make your home more accessible and convenient. I thought my joints had lost their flexibility, but it turns out that my joints weren’t the problem. My fat was. It got in the way more than I admitted. I now cut and paint my toenails with ease and tie my shoes without any stress. Even sex has gotten better, without my huge belly in the way.

Once again I feel confident planning cruises and other trips, because I feel years younger than I did six months ago. I get more youthful with every pound I lose. I didn’t lose weight to look better, but I do look better. A lot better.

Within a year, and probably sooner, I’ll be at my healthiest weight ever. I still deny that I’m on a diet, though, because diets are restrictive. On my food plan I don’t have to do anything outside my comfort zone. I don’t have to eat strange or tasteless food, go to meetings, or deprive myself. I eat absolutely anything I want, but moderation and portion control is the key. As I research healthy eating more, I disseminate that information to my blog readers, so we can all make better and wiser choices.

My plan involves conscious eating. Every meal gives me a chance to make wise choices, eat less than my body needs, and lose weight. Every blog entry allows me to give and receive support from readers. Every pound lost brings me closer to my big dream of losing ninety-five pounds.

My journey continues, and more than 1,700 people have read my blog to date, with more people added all the time. Read it at

Writing is a magical thing. While I work hard to achieve my big dream of getting smaller, I’m helping others get fit as well. My influence has extended far beyond my dreams. Best of all, when I hit my goal weight, I will have written enough blog entries to comprise a book. All I’ll have to do is search for a publisher or self-publish.

No longer do I harbor dark thoughts of euthanasia or fears that I’m going to live in pain. I have youth-anized myself, and I’m pain free. I can’t even imagine how great I’ll feel when I meet my goal weight.

How easily I could have given up and let myself get old and fat, but thanks to writing, my own big dream has turned into something that helps others achieve their dreams, too, and everybody is winning—by losing!

My “During” Picture

Bobbie Christmas, author of Write In Style and other books, is a book editor and owner of Zebra Communications in metro Atlanta. She can be reached at Sign up for The Writers Network News, her free newsletter for writers, at

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

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Freebie Friday – Gifts from Barbara Florio-Graham

Barbara Florio-Graham, our guest blogger this week was kind enough to share the following links for Freebie Friday:

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New Habit? Keep Those Glasses ON

<div class=\"postavatar\">New Habit? Keep Those Glasses ON</div>

By Sheryl Eldene, MA, MBA

You may have heard that to change a habit, you need to practice the new lifestyle for 6 weeks for it to become your own. We have some interesting information now about how malleable the amazing brain is – it’s called the plasticity of the brain. Our brains are constantly adapting to our environment to a much greater extent that we ever recognized.

Well, here’s the story. Several years ago, NASA created eye glasses for astronauts that reversed images both right-left and up-down with the intention of helping them adjust more easily to weightlessness when up and down was not a given. They were to wear the glasses absolutely constantly whenever their eyes were being used (work, shower, eat, everything). To their surprise, they found that the brains of the astronauts completely rewired to correct the image by day 30. Amazing, huh? Here’s the other interesting part. When someone removed the glasses for just one day, say day 15, then the countdown began all over, at day 1, needing an additional 30 days to rewire.

When you create your written goals,  make a note of the day you begin and every single day for a full 30 days, speak an affirmation about that goal, feel the feeling of manifesting, look at the vision pictures, experience the joy of manifestation.  What have you tried that successfully helped you change a habit, and create a new part of your lifestyle?

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How are those resolutions coming?

by Gail Z. Martin

Just a month ago we watched the ball drop in Times Square and the new year looked like a bright, shiny penny.  Resolutions for a better 2011 seemed easy to make.

Now we’re one whole month into the year, and making some of those changes seems a little harder than it looked.  That’s why I asked—and I really want to know—are you making progress on your resolutions?

Here were my resolution list for 2011?

–Make this the year I actually lose the pounds I gained “birthing” my business and books (joined Weight Watchers and I’m down 4 pounds so far!)

–Set up speaking engagements in Montreal and Toronto (I don’t know where, when or for whom, but it’s on my vision board!)  (Not yet, but I’m going to Vancouver in April, which is also on my vision board.)

–Expand the size and type of organizations for which I present workshops and keynotes (it’s starting to happen)

–Spend more time on social media reconnecting (still struggling for time to hang out as much as I’d like).

The point is not to feel guilty if you’re not already done with your list.  Hey, it’s only a few weeks!  The important thing is to keep making progress—even if it’s only baby steps—in the right direction.

We get discouraged when we compare our progress to other people’s gains (we always see their wins but not the work or obstacles they overcome), or when we get impatient with steady progress.  But the truth is, every journey covers inches before it covers miles.  It’s better to see steady slow progress than to give up entirely because the goals didn’t happen fast enough.  Hang in there!

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

***My new novel, The Sworn: Book One in the Fallen Kings Cycle, is now in stores!***

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Filed under Gail Z. Martin, Inspiration, Motivation, Personal Transitions

Shojai Mentoring Award

by Barbara Florio-Graham,

I was honored to receive the Shojai Mentoring Award in November, from the international Cat Writers’ Association. The award consists of a wooden plaque with am engraved metal plate, and $500. The full citation is on Bobbi’s website, at The nomination letter mentioned that Bobbi helped innumerable CWAers tackle the complexities of contracts and self-publishing, and has dispensed invaluable advice. She also designed CWA’s formal Mentoring Program, to enable any member who needed help on a specific writing topic or technique to get personalized attention from another experienced member. “As architect of our organization’s mentorship system, Bobbi once again showed her commitment to voluntarily giving her time and sharing her knowledge. Her willingness to help guide others is never in question.”

CBC radio will air an interview with me in January, and a review of my third book, Mewsings/Musings, will be published in the January/February 2011 issue of Women on Top Magazine ( That issue also contains an interview with me about how I created the persona of my co-author, Simon Teakettle (Canada’s celebrity cat).

After being given his own page in the award-winning book, A Cat’s Book of Days, by Peg Silloway, Simon Teakettle III now has his very own 2011 calendar. Published by, it features 12 photos of Simon III, plus one on the cover. Plans are underway for a 2012 version.

I’m also one of three editors of an anthology of short prose by members of a group of professional journalists I formed four years ago. Prose to Go: Tales from a Private List, will be published by Bridgeross Publishing ( in the spring.

I continue to work with two mentoring clients who hired me last year, and to contribute articles to various publications, including a monthly column for The West Quebec Post, a quarterly column for SCRIBE, and regularly for SOURCES Hotlink and for Freelance Writer’s Report.

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

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Freebie Friday – Gift from Meredith K. Bromfield

Meredith K. Bromfield, M.A. Ed, our guest blogger this week has kindly agreed to provide the following gifts:

Visit to sign up for free copy of “How to Declutter Your Important Papers” (bottom).  Simply enter your name and email and a copy will be mailed to your email shortly.  Or, sign-up for our mailing list (upper right corner) and have your choice of a free copy of Bridging Change in 5 Steps audio or Tax Tips for Caregivers article as well as our free WEEKLY WOWS (Words of Wisdom) and monthly newsletter.

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