Calling All Amazing Kids

I want to tell stories about amazing kids. I know you know a few.

When I was little, my friends and I made a newspaper. It was one page front and back. Then we went door-to-door selling it to our neighbors – all of whom were very polite and either gave us money or found a way to gently send us on our way. All except for one guy who took a quick look at our paper and said, “I can buy the Star Tribune for less than a dollar and it’s got hundreds more pages than your paper. Why would I buy yours?”

It felt harsh and we were mad at him. But even then, I knew he was right. In that moment I had learned my first important business lesson and I still think about that guy. About how he, of all the people we met that day, had the most respect for us. Even though he didn’t know us, or buy our paper, he believed in us and took a chance to help us learn something fundamental and important. So thanks, random guy!

I’ve been thinking about what I could do with this blog that would be exciting and interesting. And then I came across this link about amazing kids and I realized, I could use this blog as a forum for promoting kids and their amazing ideas. I could also be “that guy” and use what I know about business and kids to help them out.

And so, this is an official solicitation. If you know a kid who has a good business idea. Or a kid selling cookies. Or books. Or a kid raising money for a cause. Send them my way. I’ll post a story about their idea here. I think it could be really cool!

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Antler A @ Bibelot Shops!

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Now you can get your Antler A fix at Bibelot Shops! We are so proud and honored to have our book in with all the other adorable stuff in the kids section of Bibelot Shops!

Check it out soon! 

Visit them online here – http://bibelotshops.com – or check out their hours and locations.

Do You Have Essays to Write? Sign Up Now!

OKOKOK! Its officially official! You can sign up for my Killer College Application Essays class at the Loft. Click on this link to register yourself or your favorite smartie.

I love seeing it there in the electronic catalog and I can’t WAIT to teach it in July. I know I need to work on my patience.

Spread the word and watch for the print catalog in your mailbox soon.

2014 Word of the Year

If you’re a word-lover, you gotta read this. It’s the New York Times article about the process that took place earlier this month to determine the Word of the Year.

There isn’t much better than a bunch of word people gathering around to talk about, well, anything really. But Word of the Year is BIG! The article aptly called it the “Superbowl of Linguistics” and that is no joke. There were honest-to-gosh-real advocates for everything from “manspreading” to “lumbersexual” to emoticons getting a spot at the table.

And then there’s this quote: “The word I will always regret not voting for is nomnomnom.”

In case you haven’t heard, the verdict is in: The 2014 Word of the Year is #BlackLivesMatter.

 

Ask Me, Do It: A Self-Publishing Start

Writing and publishing a book is a great way to build credibility in your field or realize a life-long dream. It’s also just plain fun. But starting off is tricky. Not because there isn’t enough information out there but because there is way too much.

Some of it will help you.

Some of it, most definitely, will not.

This post is not a start-to-finish guide on how to self-publish your book (that would be a very long post). But it is a guide to starting.

If you know me you’ll know that I am going to say that as with anything in life, self-publishing needs to start with a plan. A vision. A “where the heck you’re going” idea that you can compare against your decision. Of course, knowing where you want to go is just the first step. Then you need legs and work. But without a plan you just have legs and work. Oh, and one big circle that you’ll walk around and around.

So, start by describing your vision for publishing. And DO NOT write that you “want to make a million dollars.” That is not a vision. That is a symptom of a very, very good plan. Write about things you can actually control. Write about what it will look like to have a published book. Think about things like:

  • Timing – Consider when you’ll be done writing but also when you’ll have time to promote it.
  • Up-front costs – What do you have? What do you need?
  • Known assets – relationships, skills, money, marketing opportunities, access to your target audience
  • Your expectations for quality, price, exposure, etc.
  • Where you think it will sell

Be honest with yourself. But also answer in a way that represents how you’d like it to be. Then, and only then, should you start to explore the options available to you. Because holy cow. You’ll be eyeball deep in details and you’ll realize you have no idea what to do. You’ll need to come up for air and compromise and to look at the vision that got you into this mess in the first place.

From consulting to ghostwriting to editing to marketing, I offer a full line of services to help publish and sell YOUR book. More info here.

Killer College Application Essays – Coming to the Loft!

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I am beyond excited to announce that I have been selected to teach my class, Killer College Application Essays, at the Loft Literary Center next summer! It’s a big honor to be picked as a “teaching artist” and an even bigger honor to help all these smarties with their essays.

Of course, I couldn’t wait until registration opened to announce my big news so there are no immediate next steps for you. Except to tell all the aspiring college kids you know to watch for the catalog and to register next month.

 

It’s Time to Create Your Business Plan

It’s 2015! What’s your business plan this year?

Art. Writing. Consulting or dog walking. Whatever your business goals, make a solid plan and write it down. Fancy-types might want you to believe only special people can make a real business plan. But they’re crazy. Anyone trying to make a living can – and should – have a plan. Here are a few quick, simple steps that will help you focus, feel motivated and most importantly, see results.

Step 1: Make a list of all the things you want to do this year. This is the fun part. If you’ve got a business, I know you’ve got 18 thousand ideas. Write them all down. Each and every one. Take breaks when your hand cramps but don’t stop until you’re done.

Step 2: Take Inventory of Your Resources. Here I’m talking time. Money. Capacity. Partnership. Opportunity. This is the stuff you’re going to stretch as far as it will go so don’t miss anything.

Step 3: Prioritize. Don’t groan. I hate this part too. But. You gotta do it!

Look, think of it this way. If your to-do list has 60 things on it and you actually did all 60 things today, they would all be little things. Each thing would be a teeny, tiny, incremental inch towards progress. And that’s only if you’re lucky enough to get them all done. Chances are you’d just get overwhelmed and watch TV.

But! If you just had two things on your list and you gave each one of those things a good old college try for a full 6 hours today, you’d see real progress, right? So pick your top things. Or at least, put the list you made in step 1 in most-to-least important order and stop at, say 10. If you get those done, you can have more.

And, while you’re prioritizing, take into account your resources. These are all opportunities. Get creative. Use them up. Make them work for you, baby.

Step 4: Plan. Ha! I bet you thought we were already planning! Nope. Now. We plan. Take your top 10 and tell yourself, or your dog, HOW you’re going to do each one. For example, if one of your priorities is to build a new website, make a list of each thing you’re going to do to get the website. Then put a date. Like this.

  • Research platforms by January 15
  • Select a platform on January 16
  • Take a class/watch a webinar/learn how to use the selected platform on January 19
  • Gather photos for the website by January 23
  • Write all the copy for the website by January 30
  • Build website by February 13
  • Ask mom to proof website on February 13
  • Finish the website on February 20
  • Leverage my network on February 23! Tell them all about the new website and ask them to share it.

Space your work out over the whole year so you don’t have to do everything in January. See? That’s why you prioritized.

Step 5: Be a jerk boss. Now that you’ve got your deadlines, you better hold your own feet to the fire. No one else will and then you won’t have a web site. So do your deadlines and make yourself work late if you need to. Eventually, you’ll learn. Maybe then you won’t push things so close to the end. And you as your boss will see you as a star employee.

You’re welcome.

Need help with your business plan? Contact me!

Antler, A at the Midtown Global Market!

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Megan Moore and I just booked a signing event for Antler, A at the Midtown Global Market on December 12. Friday nights are family nights over there, so it should be a pretty good time. Save the date if you can and stop by to see us. Here are the details so far:

Friday, December 12
5-8 p.m.
Midtown Global Market – Outside the Art Shoppe
920 East Lake Street, Minneapolis MN