Tag Archives: business

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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Checking in on Your 2009 Goals and $10 a Day

So it’s already February, and I have to ask:  how are those New Years’ Resolutions and 2009 goals going?  Most people fall off the wagon 6 weeks into the New Year.  Don’t let it be you!

 

Most of us (me included) set goals to get financially AND physically fit this year.  It’s not as easy as it seems, is it?!  Well, I’m here to be the annoying person who gives you your February “Reality Check” to help you stay on track. 

 

I was scanning my book shelf the other day to gather ideas for this post and came across Jean Chatzky’s book, “Pay it Down,” which I purchased at the peak of my over-spending days.  The book is based around the idea that you can get out of debt on $10 a day. 

 

I’m a huge believer that debt and overspending can be traced back to psychological factors and/or personal insecurities.  So before we get to the part where we find that $10 per day, I must ask: How did you get into debt in the first place?

 

For many women, the reason is simple: we needed to fill the gap of what we make and what we need to live.  For many others, we had inadequate savings to bail us out of an emergency.  Lastly, many women have a spending problem.  Although society constantly makes jokes out of shopping too much, i.e. the new movie “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” it is a serious problem for many.  Retail Therapy is a topic that deserves its own post, but in the meantime consider if you may be guilty of this “disease.”  Regardless of your reason, identify it so you can stop history from repeating itself in your life!

 

Did you follow my advice and get out ALL of those icky credit card statements at the end of 2008?  What did you see?  If you haven’t done this yet, you need to.  You should know exactly how much debt you have, and how much debt you’d like to end 2009 with.  Yes, a number is required here.  You aren’t allowed to say “I want to have less debt and more savings” because that is not a clear goal that you can work towards. 

 

Back to finding an extra $10 a day.  The obvious answer is to cut lattes and going out to lunch but for many American’s, this isn’t the answer.  We like to get out of the office and we have a Starbucks addiction, fair enough.  $10 a day is about $300 per month.  I took inventory of my own spending habits and wanted to share ways that I found an extra $300 per month to put towards debt or savings:

 

  • Going out.  My biggest spending weakness.  I’m not at ALL saying don’t go out.  Live it up, have fun but just keep an eye on it and maybe limit the # of nights you go to the bars if it’s cutting into your pay check too much.
  • Books.  I can’t stop buying books on amazon.com!  I suppose this is a healthy way to spend money, but I’ll admit sometimes I buy more books before I’ve even started reading books from my last order.  Perhaps I should consider going to the library for FREE…
  • Gym Membership.  Jean Chatzky says that if you use your gym 0-1 times per week, then it may be time to cancel it because you are wasting money.  This is a matter of personal values and choice.  For me, I can’t imagine life without my gym, but if you aren’t using yours consider cutting it.
  • Travel.  Don’t go unless you can pay for your ticket in full.
  • Hair.  Platinum blonde is super expensive.
  • Manicures/Pedicures.  Do you really need them every week?

 

You get my drift.  In order to reach goals, you will need to identify your weaknesses and hang up’s.  I don’t want you to start living like a pauper who wears ugly clothes, has roots and never goes out-gross!  I don’t think that is realistic.  Find out what you value, and maybe have less of it.  If you really can’t part with being blonde, for example, find a way to spend less on being blonde, or better yet find a way to make more money (yes, part time jobs are GREAT!) so that trips to the salon are no longer a burden you need to charge on your credit card.

 

I’d love to hear more of your ideas on how you can save $10 a day (or $300 per month) because I know there must be a thousand ways to do it.  I could use the advice just as much as any other girl could.  Please share your thoughts!

 

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!

Career Lessons from Two Great Quarterbacks

America is inevitably a bit groggy today after an absolutely fantastic Super Bowl Sunday. This year’s match up was a great one. I found myself torn between which team to root for. On one hand, I’m a Miami of Ohio alum who had the honor of seeing Ben Roethlisberger play while I attended Miami. On the other hand, I have a huge crush on Kurt Warner and his story.

I respect both quarterbacks a lot. Probably because I feel that they both overcame the odds to get to where they are today.

imagesFor example, Ben Roethlisberger did not play the quarterback position until his senior year of high school. He didn’t even know he had such talent for the position until he was 17 years old! Ben is from a small town called Findlay, Ohio, a place that could be easily passed over by recruiters. Thanks to going to a summer camp at Miami, an assistant coach spotted his talent and watched his senior season. By the time the big schools picked up on Ben, he had already signed with Miami. Although Miami is a Division 1 school, it is part of the MAC– which is not a flashy conference by any means. Yet Ben’s record and reputation quickly rose to the top and he became the youngest quarterback to ever lead a team to a Super Bowl to victory.

images-3Kurt Warner is another talented quarterback who did not start at the top. Kurt played football at the University of Northern Iowa where he wasn’t given the chance to start until his senior year. Since he couldn’t land a NFL try out after college, Kurt joined the Iowa Barnstormers, an Arena Football League team. He then played in Europe until finally playing for the NFL in 1999. Many people admire Kurt for the story of how he met his wife Brenda while working as a shelf stocker at an Iowa grocery store. Kurt is now one of the oldest quarterbacks playing in the NFL.

Learning more about each quarterback’s story points out some great observations.

• You don’t have to start at the top to end at the top.
• You don’t have to go to the best college to be the most successful.
• Your attitude, perseverance and passion for what you do will carry you through until the end.
• Your personality radiates in everything you do in your career. People are more willing to give you opportunities, and to follow your work if you are someone they admire and like to be around.
• Hard work is not always glamorous.
• Especially in the case of Kurt Warner, having a great support system is very important. When the times get tough, you remember who you are working so hard for.

So if you didn’t go to an Ivy League college, or perhaps you feel like you may be playing “the wrong position” at work these days remember that perseverance and hard work will lead you to the top, even if you started from humble beginnings.

Raise Your Hand!

479567869_1175a2d9ef_mMy friend Allie and I went to coffee the other day and she casually mentioned that she spoke at her college graduation ceremony. I’m not talking small tiny college here: she spoke at Michigan State’s commencement- WOW! So I immediately interrupted her story and asked HOW she was able to partake in such a great honor. I assumed she must have been valedictorian or student body president but she wasn’t. She simply said, “I just raised my hand.”

Apparently she found out about the opportunity and volunteered. Perhaps no one else had the guts to represent but either way she had the great honor of representing her class.

So we got on the topic of how important it is to raise your hand in life. We agreed that it is especially important when first starting out.

Allie told me another story about someone she knows who randomly decided to email the President of a large, well respected international company when she was in college. The email suggested that they should go to lunch when the president was in town presenting to her college. They went to lunch and the person has been employed with the company ever since.

The moral of the story here is, don’t be afraid to take on a new challenge. Raise your hand for a new project. Volunteer for the opportunity to present to new clients or your company’s executive board (even if you are terrified). Send an email to someone you dream of working for. Ask someone you admire to lunch. Reach out to those who intimidate you because most others won’t. The simple action of raising your hand can lead to many exciting new partnerships, adventures and opportunities.

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.