Category Archives: entrepreneurship

Gen Y Wants to Work It!

With the new website coming to life (huge thanks to Andy Merrick) and a few exciting meetings last week, I’ve been tied up and unable to blog as much as I usually do. All of these developments for my business are so exciting but have sapped some of my creative juices away. In attempt to get back into the swing of things, I’ve been sitting here contemplating what topic to kick off the week with.

Thanks to the newest poll feature, I noticed that of the few people that actually took the poll, everyone had the same answer. To the question, “What’s your biggest career fear?” Everyone’s response was: “working for someone else my whole life.” Very interesting.

I know that entrepreneurship has always been a dream of mine, but is it also a dream for the majority of my generation? According to a recent article written by Michael Malone in the Wall Street Journal, “An upcoming wave of new workers in our society will never work for an established company if they can help it. To them, having a traditional job is one of the biggest career failures they can imagine.”

Wow, a career “failure” is working for an established company? That might be a first. What about these shocking statistics: Today, 80% of the colleges and universities in the U.S. now offer courses on entrepreneurship; 60% of Gen Y business owners consider themselves to be serial entrepreneurs, according to Inc. Magazine. Tellingly, 18 to 24-year-olds are starting companies at a faster rate than 35 to 44-year-olds. And 70% of today’s high schoolers intend to start their own companies, according to a Gallup poll.

So as Gen Y continues to get the reputation of being self-centered, obnoxious, lazy and under-dressed, we are apparently also quite ambitious and independent as well.

Owning your own business is no walk in the park. It requires managing money, marketing, selling, paying attention to details, using your life savings for start up costs, making tough decisions, taking risks and wearing many hats at once. In my short time in starting a business, I’ve learned how completely consuming it is. It is definitely NOT something that I can stop thinking about once the clock strikes 5pm.

I do wonder though, what is it about how us twentysomethings were raised or the times that we live in that make us want to take on owning our own businesses so much? Perhaps we saw our parents get laid off from their big safe job after 30 years with no loyalty back from their company. Perhaps we saw large politicians and CEO’s break our trust after we initially looked up to them so much.

Or, maybe we really are just too damn selfish to want someone else to tell us when we can take off work or how we are supposed to run our division. Maybe we hate rules and authority. Or perhaps we are just so creative that we feel stifled when we have to work under someone else’s vision rather than our own. We’re not afraid of technology and we feel we deserve everything that we want in a career.

So, my little poll question quickly gave light to a huge topic I need to spend more time writing about because apparently I’m not the only twentysomething who wants to talk about starting a business. I’m sure many of us are nervous about the economy, nervous about keeping our jobs and also nervous about how to pay down our debt. The answer might be starting a business to hedge the risk and do something you love.

I get super irritated when people complain but don’t do anything about it. If you dream about working for yourself someday, why can’t you start now? You’re the only one who can get yourself to the next level, so start dreaming about what you want and then figure out how to get it. Anything is possible, right?

And if you have questions along the way, ask me and any other person who is passionate about entrepreneurship because we are all willing to help.

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How Do You Stay Organized?

 By, Jessica Lawlor

As a student and future career woman, it’s extremely important to learn the fine art of organization.

Here are the three main ways I stay organized:

1. Planner– I write down everything in my planner: school assignments, meetings, appointments, weekend plans. I check each item off as I complete them. My planner is weekly, so I am able to look at the entire week ahead. I use my planner as an overview of everything I need to accomplish in a week.

2. “Everything” notebook- I have a medium sized notebook that I carry everywhere with me that I have fondly named, “my everything notebook.” Each week, I create a detailed to-do list with absolutely everything that needs to be accomplished before the week ends. I love the sense of accomplishment when I cross an item off the list. My to-do list differs from my planner in the fact that my list is more specific. I also write down possible blog ideas, story ideas, and general notes to myself in the notebook.

3. Google- I can’t even express how much Google has simplified my life. I am obsessed with my Gmail account, and use it to keep my e-mail organized. Gmail allows users to create labels for different activities or tasks. For instance, I have a label for homework, PRSSA, PRowl Public Relations, internship, and sorority. When an e-mail comes in, I tag it with a label, and if I ever need to find that e-mail again, I know exactly where to look.

I also love the ‘archive’ feature. I leave everything in my inbox, until I’ve replied or done whatever the email is asking, and once I’m finished with it I archive it. If there is something in my inbox, it means its unfinished business or I need to reply.

Also, the Google calendar feature is a heavenly application that allows you to color code activities, meetings, or events and place them on a calendar.

These are only three small methods I use to stay organized, so I took to my Twitter account to find out how some of my followers keep their lives together.

@daydreamwriter says, “A planner and a desk calendar.”

@mattsnod says, “My life exists on my iPhone. I’m so forgetful, I’d be lost without my iPhone synching my life.”

@jamielovely says, “Color coded tags in Gmail saved my life! It’s the only way my inbox stays somewhat organized.”

@courtney903 says, “There is ALWAYS a to-do list on a dry erase board in the house. That way I can erase and add and it never looks overwhelming.”

@jennips says, “I started using a DayTimer planner last year. I’ve been using it & it helps me keep track of things better so I get less sidetracked.”

@tomokeefe1 says, “Calendar, stickies, bookmarking, writing things down, and periodically cleaning everything up! Oh, and having a good memory.”

@heatherhuhman says, “Organization is all about knowing what you have to get done and by when – prioritizing is key.”

@kpricester says, “I keep a constantly updated calendar on iCal that I keep synced with my smartphone. And I plan every minute of my day, including TV.”

@jesshatchigan says, “I use Excel to track progress/action on multiple ongoing projects, and make daily to-do lists.”

What are the ways that you stay organized?

Jessica Lawlor is a public relations student at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. She is currently the Director of Public Relations for PRowl Public Relations, Temple University’s first and only student-run PR firm, and serves on the executive board of Temple’s PRSSA chapter.

Follow her on Twitter: @jesslaw
Check out her blog: PRowl Public Relations blog

Chapter 1 of My Journey as an Entrepreneur

So rather than a career or personal finance lesson, today I’m going to share what being a budding entrepreneur has been like for me lately.  A few words that immediately come to mind: coffee, energy, passion, and time management.

3195538796_e83eb19d4f Let’s start with coffee.  Yes, I read and loved Skinny Bitch and I know coffee is not the best habit to hold. Yet without it, I’m not sure how I could manage to write blog posts, launch a new website site, maintain a partnership with “The Mindset of Wealth” in Washington D.C., in addition to working a full time job in Commercial Banking that I really enjoy, work out and sleep. I always swore I would never be a coffee drinker because my parents are completely hooked on it, and of course I never wanted to do what they did. Yet now that I’m older, I see how my Mom ran a successful company, played Mom to 3 kids, cooked fabulous dinners most nights and made sure we all had what we needed. Thank God coffee is a legal substance, because to me it is a wonder drug that helps you make the most of your day.

Caffeine isn’t enough to start the engine of an entrepreneur though. For me it has taken an incredible amount of mental energy. Energy is important for me when I don’t feel like getting on conference call number 5 over my lunch break, waking up at 6am to run before work because I know I can’t do it after, coming up with new ideas, or focusing 100% on my job while I am there. Perhaps a better word for this energy is discipline. Sometimes it’s hard to make myself connect with others to market what I’m doing, or focus on developing a project I’m working on. Yet somehow I love what I’m doing so much that my mental energy carries me through.

That leads us to passion. It hasn’t taken me long to figure out that you must be completely obsessed and in love with your entrepreneurial venture. Why? Because you will breathe, think and dream it constantly and live every moment of your day thinking about it. If you’re like me, you will talk about it while socializing at a bar with new people, you will talk about it the minute you get home from work and sometimes get up in the middle of the night to jot down a fleeting idea. Perhaps that sounds a bit crazy to some, but for me it has been crucial in getting things done.

I learned in one of my Ladies Who Launch workshops that female entrepreneurs are especially known to think of their business as their “baby.” Or even as an extension of themselves which they identify with. This is absolutely true for me. As I develop the new and improved version of this blog (which will soon be called “Ms. Career Girl”) and make it into an interactive site for women, I see my personality and things I need help with being brought to life through the new site. In addition to the blog posts, there will be tools, job postings, networking events, more personal finance information, “ask a professional career girl”, recommended reading and more.

The eight year old girl in me who talked to her friends and family about being a business woman when she grew up is coming to486569058_9b91ccc458_m life. Now I see why I played office instead of house, and preferred riding my pink BMX boys bike to playing with dolls. I see why coming downtown Chicago to visit my aunt while she was in law school excited me so much. I see why I’ve always been obsessed with Oprah and what she has done for so many women around the world. I feel less strange for wanting to read books any extra minute I get, because I see that the information I get from these books can be used to help and inspire others. It’s so weird how all my little personality traits have come together and can be reflected through my entrepreneurial venture.

Lastly, time management. I think we’ve gone over how I manage my time enough, but I do want to share something quick that I learned this weekend at another one of my Ladies Who Launch workshops. As my leader Megan McKenzie says, “time management is a myth because you can’t create time.” Therefore here’s a trick to make the most out of what you DO have.

Take a 3 x 5 index card and look at it vertically. At the top write today’s date. Under that, write your top 4 items you want to get done that day. One of those items must be for you. Draw a line beneath those four items. Any items below that line are tasks that can be pushed to tomorrow. I started using this little time management tool this week and it’s crazy how much more focus I have had. I’ve accomplished more this week than usual. Try it!

So, that’s what I’ve been up to lately. As things get off of the ground, I’ll be sure to write Chapter 2 of my journey as I know it will be an evolving experience with many lessons. In the meantime, it’s coffee time for me! Ciao!

Applying “The ‘Next!’ Principle” to Rock Rejection

The fear of failure is the #1 reason most people never reach new heights in their personal and professional lives. Perhaps people feel that too much could be lost if they try something different or get out of their comfort zone. The truth is, nothing is lost considering you never had what you were looking for in the first place.

Think logically about a very simple example for a minute.

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Going on a blind date. The cost is the initial discomfort, being nervous and possibly being bored for a few hours at dinner. The benefit is meeting someone new, overcoming a fear, enjoying a new restaurant, and potentially building a new relationship. Why focus on the cost of the initial 30 minutes when you could focus on the possibility of a new friend.

And so what, he never calls again. Who cares?! You overcame your fear of going on a blind date, you learned about his random career that you never knew existed before, you tried duck for the first time and realized you had a mutual friend from college who you end up re-connecting with. It sounds to me like you gained something rather than lost it.

But then again, that’s all up to you and your perspective.

 
Plug in any relevant scenario here: Getting a D on a huge exam (been there more than once), being deceived by someone you love (experienced it) or having a less than stellar performance review at work (umm guilty).

When I was in college, my best friend Katie and I had this funny little thing we would do when we were at2391037726_277a933af6_m our favorite bar Brick Street (which now has 90’s night-how bizarre) our senior year at Miami. We would meet new guys, chat with them for a few minutes or maybe even dance to a song or two, then give each other the signal: “Next!” We would take a break for a minute, then move on to mingle with new people. If we weren’t impressed (or if they weren’t impressed with us) we would just laugh and shout “Next!” and move on without taking anything personally or thinking twice about it.

I must say, Katie and I still apply “The ‘Next!’ Principle” to our lives today. We’ve both had jobs that didn’t work out and dated guys that didn’t work out. We never sat and sulked in what happened or viewed our decisions as mistakes. We just said “Next!” and moved on to the next adventure.

In order to apply The “Next” Principle, you must be willing to take responsibility for yourself. This means no blaming, no complaining and no trying to change others. You also must view failure as a huge opportunity. If people say your idea stinks, think “wow, I must be on to something!” If a prospect says no, consider it a maybe.

 
Understand that failure is a huge illusion created to hold people back. This is probably why there is only a small percentage of really successful people: those are the people who were able to take risks to reach greater heights.

 

Katie decided not to go to medical school after spending 4 years studying her butt off in pre-med. She could’ve sulked about the money and time that was spent on her pre-med education. Instead, she picked herself up moved to Chicago and started a new career path for herself without looking back. She is now a Registered Investment Advisor who owns her own successful company. Yes, she deals with the stock market and manages a growing portfolio even in a turbulent economy. I too decided to start my own business at age 24 while working full time when several people told me I am way too young and inexperienced and could never pull it off. Here I am.

If Katie and I let our fear of failure get in the way, I highly doubt we would be dating great men, loving our careers, and living in Chicago.

So when the going gets tough, just say “Next!” and leave the past behind. Life will always present you with new obstacles along with plenty of rejection and disappointment, but it is all how you choose to move on from those situations that will determine your outcome.

Dad’s Career Advice From the Trenches

I just got back from a great family vacation to Florida where I shared many laughs with my amazing family. Getting the five of us together for a week is a hoot: we are all very hardworking, loud, opinionated and ambitious. We think it’s totally normal to be this way.

While we were at the pool one day, I asked my Dad to help me come up with some topics to write about. Our conversation offered some great career advice.

My Dad came from humble beginnings. He was one of six children and had been working since he was 9 years old. His summers consisted of getting woken up at 4am to go shovel concrete with his Father without pay, no questions asked, no complaining allowed. He was very shy and struggled academically throughout his childhood, opting for a work-study high school program. In High School he was already working so many hours that he out earned his teachers and therefore couldn’t take high school seriously.
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Perhaps my Dad’s story isn’t glamorous, but it sure is entertaining. My Dad was the guy who rode his dirt bike illegally on the streets-sometimes dodging the cops- to see my Mom as a teenager, he got fired for lying about his age so he could work as a dish washer at 13, he put Corvette engines in old cars and sold them for a profit, he jumped rows of garbage cans on his BMX bike, he punched his principal to stick up for a friend, he ran a gas station, and spent many years as a manual laborer. Who knew he would end up where he is today, and have three daughters who are so thirsty for success and education.

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My Dad admitted to me that until the last 2 years, he always felt disappointed with what he did for a living. He is the only one in our neighborhood full of accomplished doctors and lawyers who doesn’t have a college degree, and he is the only one that drives a pickup truck, which is parked in the driveway.

He said that he finally realized that you can still make it if you aren’t a doctor or a lawyer, and that it’s not your title or what you do for your money that makes you successful. I asked him what advice he would give to people just starting out in their careers. Here are some of his answers:

• Your twenties are all about learning lessons. In order to learn the lessons, you have to pay attention and watch for them every day.
• Be patient and it will come. Don’t waste time being disappointed with where you are right now: keep working and keep looking ahead.
• Remember that we all have the same amount of time given to us, but it is what we do with our time that will set us apart in the end. Use your time wisely and make the most of it.
• Little things become big things in your job. Although not calling someone back, not being prepared, or forgetting your client’s request may seem small, it could be a huge impact on you and your career down the road.
• Don’t blow your money. You will have nothing to show for all of your hard work and the years will pass you by.

I think my Dad’s career advice is very wise and very applicable to all of us. My Dad earned his education through long hours of hard work. In my opinion, he was very lucky. He was lucky that he was smart enough to see the lessons that most others did not. He knew he would make it somehow, and he took advantage of opportunities that were given to him even if they required more energy, time and sacrifice.

img_0454My parents now run a successful drilling equipment business, Rig Source, together which serves a niche market to customers all over the world. If it weren’t his days of coming home with burnt hands from welding or frostbitten feet from drilling in the middle of a cornfield for 16 hours on a January day, I’m not sure he would be where he is today. He is an example of someone who always saw the glass half full, who kept on plugging away, and set his eyes on his goals. Perhaps he is a real life example of “the survival of the fittest.” I’m pretty sure most of us today could not survive working conditions like his and come out on top.

Thanks Dad, for your example of the strongest work ethic I’ve ever seen and for doing what ever you had to do to send us to our college of choice. Thank you for leaving a legacy for our family and for everyone around you to see. You are one in a million and I am so lucky to call you my Dad.

You Can Be a Millionaire Too!

What does it take to become a millionaire? Most people would assume that it takes good grades, good looks and a huge inheritance. Wrong.

One of my very favorite books is “The Millionaire Mind” by Thomas J Stanley, Ph. D. who also happens to be the author of one of my other favorite books “The Millionaire Next Door.”

I was chatting with Blake Allison today, founder of Financial Education Literacy Advisors (also a newlyim_millionaire_0607 appointed member of my personal board of directors), and was asking his thoughts on me getting an MBA or CFP. He reminded me that many successful entrepreneurs didn’t even finish school, and that whatever I decided to remember not to let my pursuit of education stop my business passions and aspirations.

His comment reminded me of a very powerful chapter in “The Millionaire Mind” that I read in college while I was stuck in the library for hours and still struggling to get C’s in most of my finance classes. It turns out that a majority of the millionaires studied were just like me: not straight “A” Harvard graduates. In fact, according to Dr. Stanley, about 90% of millionaires graduated college with my college GPA- get ready- a 2.9 (p 99). Who knew you could be successful and not get perfect grades, right?!

Here are a few other interesting facts:

• Almost all of the millionaires studied, said that college helped them develop a strong work ethic (perhaps because they had to work harder for their grades), manage their time, and make accurate judgments about people.
• Most millionaires have an unusually strong ability to deflect the toughest critics and not let it get to them. This includes not believing that poor grades would foil their success (p 101).
• Parents of millionaires did not negatively push their kids to get the highest grades or preach that good grades are directly correlated to future success.
Millionaires love their careers! (p112)

So, to any of you that are reading this after completing a really tough round of college final exams, please remember that your grades do not determine your future success. Think beyond your grades and take advantage of everything else college has to offer. Find your passion, meet your best friends, learn the value of being honest, and figure out how to balance the three S’s of college: sleep, studying, and socializing.

Keep it simple and good things will come. And if you have any extra time, I highly recommend you take a look at “The Millionaire Mind” to discover how NOT Paris Hilton-like most millionaires really are.