All posts by Venture Your Mind

Life is my story and I'm determined to share it.

How a Positive Attitude Makes You Money

How you see yourself and the world around you affects how much money you make. It is crucial to have a positive attitude if you want to take the next step in your personal growth and expand your wallet. Having a positive mindset will affect your income, appearance, friends, and actions.

Attitude of gratitude

If you approach life with a positive mindset, you will focus on the winning aspects of life. One way is to have an Attitude of Gratitude. Think of all the things in your life that you are grateful for, such family, friends, health, wealth, a vacation, or even the weather. Sometimes it becomes too easy to get caught up in everyday problems such as mortgage payments, a lousy commute, or an annoying coworker. These issues can drag you down and bring you negativity.

Instead, focus on the positive aspects of your life. Be grateful that you have a good friend who is there to listen when you need some advice. Be grateful that you have a source of income to pay for your upcoming credit card bill.

Having a positive mindset is the foundation for additional growth. You set your own boundaries on what you deserve. If you believe you are someone who owns a one bedroom condo and your income is $50,000 a year, then that will set the limits of your life. You can dream about increasing your income to $1,000,000, but until you believe you deserve it, your situation isn’t likely to change.

Thinking positive starts the foundation to increasing your limits. People who are negative tend to be more cynical about opportunities. As a result, they limit themselves. You need to believe you deserve a different lifestyle before changes will occur.

You are the average of your social circle

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn, motivational speaker

Having a positive mindset is key to bringing positive changes to your life. But your circle of friends also affects the outcomes in your social life, career, and family life. There is a saying that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, whether those five people include your significant other, friends, or coworkers.

One way to think about that average is this: What are the life goals of these five? What is the average of their income? What do they do in their free time? What is their health and fitness level like? When you have the average for all of these answers, figure out where you fit in. Is your income the highest? Is your health somewhere in the middle?

If you’re looking for a drastic change from these five people, this change that you desire may be met with conflict. For example, you may be the first one to get married and have children. Or you may be the first one to want to start a business, instead of working for an employer.

Well-meaning friends may advise you against starting your own business because they feel more comfortable with job security and remind you that many startups fail. They don’t want to see you fail so they try to protect you.

You may have a positive mindset when you start your business, but the lack of customers and the advice of your well-meaning friends may start to replace your positive thoughts with negatives ones.

The key in this situation is to stay positive. Positive people see opportunities everywhere. They will not obsess over disappointments or failures. In the long run, even if they meet short term setbacks, their persistence will help them to prevail and meet success.

For this reason, it is important to be with others with the same mindset as you. For example, it will help to socialize with successful business owners who believe in you and support you. Their encouragement will help you maintain a positive attitude as you seek a new form of financial success.

People are attracted to positive people

Positive people attract all kinds of people, whether they are positive or negative because of the energy they radiate. Positive people gravitate toward positive because they lift each other up.

The optimism of positive leaders motivates others. When they share stories of their struggles, people become inspired by their messages of hope.

Negative people also gravitate toward positive people because of their ability to motivate. Negative people see the problems in the situation and don’t necessarily become proactive about changing their situation. They seek leadership and hope, but can’t seem to keep themselves afloat. They can pull positive people down.

Strong leaders are positive people who can motivate others, regardless of whether they are positive or negative. People are drawn to their ability to find solutions. In the business world, these types of leaders are needed to take a business to the next level, or to increase their revenue.

Small steps lead to great outcomes

People who are positive don’t give up easily. They focus on getting things done, instead of putting things off. When faced with a huge task, such as cleaning up a messy house, they will start with picking up one object and putting it away. Large projects start with small accomplishments.

Similarly, when faced with a task, they will not focus on perfection right away. Nor will they set up mental roadblocks for themselves. Procrastination is incredibly destructive. For example, if the goal is to learn to write a thank you email quickly, they can start with the easy stuff, such as typing out the recipient’s name and writing a sentence to explain what they are thanking them for.

They won’t focus on grammar or spelling. They won’t fuss about whether they are choosing the best words or research if they’ve used the latest fonts or formatting styles. Working on any of these details will only delay the process and completing the task.

Similarly, when taking on a goal such as an increase to their income, positive people will make a plan and stick to it. They will map out the process they need to take to achieve that goal, and they will keep working to reach that goal everyday. Even if they hit setbacks in their plan, they will keep going, knowing that eventually they will reach their destination.

Taking action, even if the actions are small, imperfect steps, is more important to them than planning out the perfect result and not taking action at all. They don’t fear failure. They are believers that the tortoise, and not the hare, can win the race.




How to Find the Perfect Mentor

When you’ve joined the working class and your life is about family, friends, and work, it may be difficult to find the time for career-related training. However, when you make the time to improve your skills, you want to ensure that each moment is productive. One way to learn is with the right mentor. Finding the perfect mentor is not easy, but there are some tips you can follow to find the right one for you.

Determine your potential mentor’s teaching style

Start by searching online to learn about your choice of mentor. If your mentor has some level of celebrity status, then follow them on social media platforms such as YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Watch their videos. Subscribe to their newsletters. Sign up for free seminars or workshops that they are hosting. Your purpose is to discover their teaching style, as well as what topics they teach their followers. You want to choose a mentor whose style resonates well with you.

If your mentor is not a celebrity with hundreds or thousands of followers, the same idea applies. If your mentor is a friend, coworker, or mentor at your company, decide if you can learn from their teaching style. For example, if you attended one of their workshops, did you feel like you could apply what you learned?

Regardless if your choice of mentor is a well known celebrity such as Tony Robbins, or someone you know personally, ask yourself if your mentor challenges you. If you want to be a successful business owner, and your potential mentor has just started her own business, there may not be enough of a gap to challenge you. However, if your potential mentor has owned a successful business for ten years, you have a longer distance to climb to catch up to that same point.

Take action after you choose a mentor

When you’ve found someone you like as a mentor, ask yourself if your mentor can motivate you to get results.

Your mentor should inspire you to take action when you watch their YouTube video or teach you about a new concept. Their message should excite you so much that you want to learn and change. They should also be approachable. For example, you should feel comfortable having dinner with them without feeling nervous.

Their mentorship should have you thirsting for more knowledge about the same topic, or have you madly scribbling notes. You should be excited about applying what they are trying to teach you as soon as possible.

To get the best results from working with a mentor, have some goals in mind. The worst scenario is to be too general about what you want your mentor to teach you. If your mentor posts a lot of learning material online, focus on one topic at a time, not getting your hands on everything they have ever published. If your mentor wants to help you improve your skills, don’t set a general goal, such as “I want to get better at my career.” Set specific goals and share these with your mentor.

Choose a mentor who chooses you

Getting feedback from your mentor is important. I’ve taken online courses from experts and gurus who I respect as mentors. I understand their lessons, but I’m not sure if I’m interpreting their learning points correctly. At a workshop or live webinar, choose a mentor who answers questions and provides feedback to participants. This style helps you to gauge if you are understanding what they teach.

If you can schedule an hour with your mentor, have your hour planned out beforehand. Prepare questions to ask your mentor, or list what you’d like to improve on prior to your meeting. Set clear expectations and outcomes to show your mentor that you respect their time.

For example, if you want to improve on your presentation skills, ask your mentor if they can give you some pointers and feedback on the way you speak at a presentation. Be prepared to show them part of your presentation so they can provide you with specific tips and feedback.

After you receive feedback, take some time to reflect on what you’ve learned. Was the feedback valuable? Can you use the feedback to make improvements? Did your mentor seem genuinely invested in you? A mentor who is genuinely invested will encourage you, tell you what progress you’ve made, be honest in their critique, and help you set goals for next steps.

Keep moving forward

Finding the right mentor is like an investment. You want someone who is approachable, excited about what you want to learn, and honest when mentoring you. It will feel uncomfortable and even painful to be told that you aren’t doing something well. However, if you only spend time doing things that you already do well, you will not grow as a person.

Embrace change and getting uncomfortable. You may find yourself looking for a new mentor in the future for various reasons. In my case, I had a business mentor for two years. As I developed my business knowledge, I started to change my goals for my business strategy. I realized I needed a new mentor who could help me improve my new approach to doing business. I found a new mentor, but I keep in touch with my previous one.

In life, the best direction to keep moving in is forward. After you reach one milestone in the road, aim for a new one. Always keep challenging yourself and you will grow as a person.



Why You Need a Mentor

Most learning experiences – including hour-long workshops to week-long conferences – teach you relevant lessons, but few give you the knowledge or skills you need to make a serious transformation in your life. Having a mentor, whether a teacher or peer, is advantageous when improving your business or yourself.

In the past, I’ve signed up for webinars to learn new skills. When the webinar was over, it was up to me to apply the lessons. Over time, however, I noticed my business wasn’t getting the profits that I wanted. Recently, I decided to try something new, and registered for a course that had live webinars, as well as mentoring from the instructors and my peers. As a result of the mentoring, I noticed an immediate improvement in my learning experience for several reasons.

Learning is personalized

It’s easy to watch and observe while you’re learning something new. It’s easy to get excited about a new concept. But you don’t know if you’ve achieved true mastery of what you’ve learned until you have to apply it. Having a mentor personalizes your learning.

The interaction during a live webinar is motivating when you hear about how your peers are applying the lessons and getting positive results. You’ll feel like you’re on the right track and not alone in your journey toward self improvement.

You have the opportunity to ask questions about your situation. Your mentor will give you feedback about your particular concerns and comment on your progress. With this type of learning, I felt like my effort in the course mattered.

After each webinar, I had a chance to meet with peers on platforms such as Skype so we could practice what we had learned and discuss our opinions about learning points. I found these interactions with my peers made me accountable for my learning. I wanted to be the next person with a success story to share with the group.

Opportunities to practice and improve skills

With most courses and webinars, I would take notes, then shelve my notebook away somewhere until I needed to reference a point from one of the lessons. However, I’ve found that the best and safest way to implement what you’ve learned from a course is with practice. You can make mistakes without worrying about making mistakes.

A role play to demonstrate the point of a lesson can be an effective way to get a message across to an audience. However, it is difficult to tell if you truly mastered the objective of the lesson by watching the sample role play. For example, if you are learning how to deal with a difficult client, you can watch a role play of a conversation. When faced with a difficult client at your workplace, however, you might not be able to follow the script from the demonstration.

When you are involved in role playing during a practice session, you have the opportunity to try out a situation in a safe environment. If you make a mistake, you can try again. There was a time when I role played with two of my peers while others listened in the audience. The situation was a seller attempting to close a deal with a buyer and his wife. We paused and resumed the role play several times to figure out the best solution for the situation. Audience members also stepped in as we switched roles and tested out alternate endings. In reality, we wouldn’t have been able to rewrite the scenario so many times.

All of the practice sessions with peers are a valuable way for us all to grow our skills. Most importantly, only by practicing do we realize what we don’t know.

Opportunities for feedback

Having a chance to practice what you learn and receiving feedback from mentors is the best way to evaluate your learning. You have a safe environment to try out different scenarios and improve yourself. A mentor will tell you what you are and aren’t not doing well and give you suggestions that work for you.

For example, if you are learning how to be a more effective public speaker, your mentor could watch your presentation and provide you with feedback afterward. Your mentor might notice that you need to interact with your audience more. Instead of reading through a checklist of all the methods for improving speaker/audience interaction, your mentor could suggest tips that work specifically with your personality style.

Ongoing feedback is also critical to your self improvement. In the live webinar course, I had several opportunities to role play with peers over several weeks. After each session, I received feedback on what I did well and what I needed to improve. At subsequent sessions, I reviewed my notes on the feedback and applied it to my next role play. Over time, I noticed a gradual improvement in my skills.

Chances to review and reflect

Having a group to support and mentor each other is very important in your learning and growth. When your peers talk about how the lessons have changed them, you realize that you are not the only one going through a period of transformation.

It is very motivating when a peer shares how he applied the lesson and achieved a great result with a client. You feel motivated to do the same. When a peer talks about how she feels she’s changed because of the course, you can relate.

Mentorship is an effective way to learn. Your mentor is your guide as you develop new skills. Ongoing feedback from your teacher and the peers in your course allows you to learn at your own pace. The encouragement from your teacher-mentor and peer-mentors as you practice what you learn results in improved skills and knowledge.

If you are ready to learn from a mentor, you can follow these tips on finding the best mentor for you.

Why We Need Halloween

Is Halloween good or evil? On the surface, it seems that Halloween is about scary movies, costumes, parties, candies, and a reason to scare our friends and family. Not much is said about the origin of Halloween or how it came to be a part of North American culture. If you have a look at Halloween from an entrepreneur perspective, however, you can see that it brings out qualities in people that should remain after all the Halloween candy is gone.

Face your fears; leave that zone of comfort

October 31st is about more than horror. It’s about facing our fears: freaky ghosts, bizarre clowns, and creepy crawly spiders. People challenge themselves to brave haunted houses to get a fright from costumed actors jumping out suddenly at them. Some people enter cemeteries at night, or take cameras to supposedly cursed buildings to find proof of an afterlife. It seems we have it in us that night to brave our darkest terrors just for a little fun.

Jack-o-lanterns were originally made from turnips not pumpkins. (Credit: Irish Central)

As an entrepreneur, I’m always having to push myself and other entrepreneurs out of their comfort zone. When you face your fears, learning happens. For example, you build your confidence. You also start to rewire your brain into focusing on the best thing that could happen, and whether you can survive the experience. Halloween is just another reason to step out of your comfort zone.

When I was a girl, I was afraid of spiders, so I went to the library one day and borrowed ten books on spiders to learn what I could about them and to find out if a fear of them was necessary. When I was an adult, my friends asked me to go to a haunted house. They wanted a chance to scream and be frightened; I challenged myself to stay calm in a tense situation. My friend and I entered a room that was completely pitch black.  At the room entrance, I visualized walking through the dark at a normal pace, before actually walking into the darkness, while focusing on a mental image of me walking calmly from room entrance to exit.

Walking into a haunted house is one way to face your fears.

Mindset and reward

Halloween is a psychological experience. Not only can you face your fears, but you can also work on self discipline. Candy seems to be everywhere. And if you’re a Halloween enthusiast, the chances to part ways with your money are also plentiful.

Halloween brings much business to retailers. Some recent Halloween spending stats: two-thirds of Americans hand out candy, spending an average of $25 each. Costumes make up a large part of the Halloween expense, with men spending about $96 each, and $77 each for women. The costumes are for men, women, children, and even pets. On average, buyers spend $86 each on Halloween candy, decor, and/or costumes. That works out to 6.9 to 9 billion a year spent on Halloween since 2012.

People are willing to spend money on costumes and decorations.

At the end of October, candy is promoted in stores, found in bowls on office reception desks, and is abundant at parties. You can also get them on sale post Halloween. As an entrepreneur, I would like to say that I can control myself around sweets, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes I have a cheat day and eat more than a day’s share of leftover Halloween candy. On the flip side, treats can also be used as a reward for going to the gym or climbing sets of stairs. It’s a time to reflect on health and fitness goals. Self discipline is important, so those candies can be used as small rewards for hitting daily or weekly goals. It’s all about mindset.

Halloween is also a time to change identity and blend in with the crowd. For one night, either at a Halloween party or on Halloween night itself, we can be someone else and it’s considered normal.

Empowerment and sense of community

We can dress as superheroes and pretend we have superpowers at Halloween. At a costume party I went to with a superhero theme, people talked about what powers they had. Wonder Woman, Batman, and The Flash wannabes had chosen people with qualities that they admired or wanted for themselves. I wondered if they did have the power of super strength or flight, then would they use these powers after Halloween to help people? That is a scenario I would like to explore.

What I really like about Halloween is the sense of community that it brings. At two events, costumed characters came together to enjoy the occasion. At the Parade of Lost Souls, several people got together at the community centre to follow a parade route. On Halloween night, thick crowds of adults and children walked through the streets of Burkeville to go trick-or-treating at well-decorated houses. It’s the only time of year when it’s not at all creepy to gawk at the unusual collection of scarecrows and gravestones in a front yard, and then walk up to the lighted front door to say hello to a neighbour.

Children walk up to a house for candy.

Costumes, candy, and haunted houses are only a small part of Halloween. It’s a time to reach out of your comfort zone to challenge yourself, as well as become a part of a community of people who share the same interest. That to me is the heart of what Halloween is: the people who celebrate it.





What We Should Be Thankful For

Among group-texted pictures of smiling cartoon turkeys wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, I had friends asking each other, “What are you thankful for?” One person said, friends and family. Another said, our mentors and teachers. Others said, people we work with.

I thought we should be thankful to be alive. Two weeks ago, an uncle passed away from cancer. Just seven days later, a friend died from cancer too. But it wasn’t because they died that I was glad to be alive. I was grateful because their deaths made me realize everything that I had lost, from chances to catch up with family to chances to seize important moments.

If you believe in something, pursue it, but never forget your greater purpose.

When I first got the news about their deaths,  the first thing that went through my mind were the last conversations I had with each of them. With my uncle, the last time we  spoke, I suggested a way to deal with cancer. It was our first phone call in years, and the reason I’d dialed his number was I’d heard he’d gotten cancer. I wanted to help.

His voice was barely above a whisper, so lacking in energy, that I became keen on saving him. I’d heard how supplementation could prolong his life by 50%. I was like a pesky salesperson, hoping to persuade him to see my point of view. He didn’t. We signed off after an hour of product talk. At the time, I hadn’t known that would be our final phone call. I just remember how tired he sounded.

I look back now and wonder if I’d put more effort into educating him about supplementation, then he would still be here today. I’d made a goal to help save people, yet I’d given up so easily when he showed no interest.

I was grateful, however, that I’d had the chance to try and help him. But I was sad that I was so intent on helping him that I didn’t even try to understand what he was going through in his last year. I didn’t even spend our last phone call talking to him like a niece to an uncle, which was my regret. I’d been so keen on selling him a solution. It wasn’t until the funeral that I learned what he was like as a husband and a father. I’d lost the chance to get to know him when I still could.

If you have goals, there is never the perfect time to execute them.

My friend died from cancer a week after my uncle passed away. I hadn’t been around for her in the last few months of her life. I’d been too busy with work and family emergencies. I told myself, when things settled down, when work wasn’t so busy, I would see how my friend was doing. She had been fighting cancer for two years, and three months ago, she’d outlived the expectations of her doctor who said her time was up. She’d always had a strength and love for life, so I thought she would continue the fight.

I was still waiting for details about my uncle’s funeral when I got the news that my friend had passed away. My first thought was, I’d waited too long. Life doesn’t stop for anything or anyone. Even if you have family members in the hospital and a family member that has died, it doesn’t mean people stop dying and you earned yourself a break. Tragedy will still strike without mercy.

I went through old photos of my friend and replayed conversations in my head. She had loved to talk and tell stories. There is a photo of her on stage, holding a microphone and singing. That hope for one last time together was just a hope, not a reality because I’d procrastinated.

So be grateful for what moments you have together with friends and family. But most importantly, you must never wait. There is no perfect time to tell someone you are thinking about them, or ask an old friend out for lunch. Time won’t cut you a break because you’re struggling with your own challenges, and give you the chance to catch up with someone when “things settle down.”

Thankful for friends and family that show us that life is worth living.

The passing of my uncle and my friend brought people together. I hadn’t seen my cousins in several years. I barely recognized my aunt. I think I should have been giving them my condolences when I saw them. Instead, we were introducing ourselves to each other like we were strangers struggling to attach familiar names to unfamiliar faces.

After the funeral, we chatted with each other and shared pictures that we had on our smartphones. We were hungry for updates on cousins we hadn’t seen in years, so an uncle shared photos of his travels to other countries where our relatives resided. We asked what our relatives did for a living, and where we all lived now. We exchanged numbers and took an updated family photo with all of us in our somber black and gray attire. Most importantly, we wished we could meet again in happier circumstances. Time slips away so easily.

I’ve read some stats from 2016 that said 2 in 5 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime. I already know two. Their suffering awakened a new realization in me, about how easy it is to get washed up in the trials of everyday living, so that we forget to reach out to others until it’s too late. I believe my uncle and my friend are out there somewhere, celebrating like two marathon runners at the end of their journey. And I believe that they’re proud to have brought together their family and friends so that we can realize how thankful we are to have each other.

Why We Should Teach Kids to be Entrepreneurs

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of marrying a wealthy business owner, and when I got older, I dreamed of becoming a successful business owner, but teachers and family had other plans for me. They wanted me to attend university and have a career as a doctor or dentist. Helping people and changing lives appealed to me, but being around sick people or staring at teeth all day did not. When I finally decided to step out of the box and become an entrepreneur, I discovered all my years of schooling weren’t enough to fulfill my dream.

Employee vs entrepreneur

School taught me how to be an excellent employee. I went from obeying the teacher to obeying the boss, from taking six classes a day to working set hours. I performed according to expectations and job requirements, and challenged myself to leave my comfort zone when it meant a pay raise or getting fired. Having a job and a career were great – I really enjoyed my writing career after I graduated from university. However, it didn’t bring me any closer to fulfilling my dream.

Now that I have my own business, I’ve realized that there are entrepreneurship skills that school doesn’t teach you that are relevant no matter what career you choose for yourself. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs, including Richard Branson and Henry Ford, were not known for having a shining academic performance.

Students who are well behaved, complete their homework, and perform well on tests are praised by their teachers. Students like Branson who struggled with dyslexia, or who found schoolwork boring, or generally didn’t fit the good student stereotype, were given assistance so they could fit closer to this stereotype. A friend who failed in school because it didn’t challenge him now owns two flourishing side businesses. Perhaps, in addition to the current school curriculum, children should be taught entrepreneurship from an early age. Entrepreneur wannabees would benefit from these skills, but students seeking careers would benefit also.

Leadership and communication

Two of the most important entrepreneurship skills are leadership and communication. Children who lead by example and communicate effectively are known for their charisma and optimism. Peers are drawn to their ability to make decisions and have a clear vision of their objectives, such as making teams and establishing rules for a game. They are able to convince others why building a sandcastle would be a fun activity.

These leaders are the type of friend who will listen to your problems and show understanding, or offer advice if needed. I remember a popular girl in my grade three class. Everyone liked her. She was always smiling, and when you spoke to her, it seemed like you were the only person in the world.

I have never heard anyone say that they admire their bossy supervisor. But I’ve heard how much people admire leaders who get their hands dirty and treat their coworkers as part of a team of equals. That’s similar to a child who makes the extra effort to make the new student feel welcome, and encourages classmates to do the same.

An example of how leadership can inspire others is acclaimed speaker and author Adora Svitak. She advocated kids to take action about academic and environmental concerns and has also spoken for causes such as feminism and literacy. Her Ted Talk “What Adults Can Learn From Kids” has received more than 4 million views and established her as a prodigy by the age of 12.

The ability to sell yourself

Not everyone likes to sell, or become a salesperson, but everyone should learn how to sell to be successful in life. Before the age of 18, children have done various jobs, from opening a lemonade stand to paper routes, to mowing lawns, to baby sitting. It’s a way to experience bookkeeping as you track sales, as well as selling your wares and skills to customers. If you know what you’re good at, there is a way to sell it.

Moziah Bridges was 11 when he started to sell his bow tie creations on Etsy. He had learned to sew from his grandmother. He’s made more than $600,000 in sales and continues to grow his business with a seven figure deal with the NBA to make bow ties for 30 professional basketball teams.

Evan of EvanTube reviews toys and covers topics that interest other kids his age through the use of video recordings. He makes more than one million per year with his brand, and he’s not even ten years old.

Having the ability to sell can start at a young age, and be just as valuable when you’re an adult. If you can convince someone that you have what it takes to do a job, you will ace a job interview. If you can show someone that you have the personality and qualities that he or she is looking for, you will do well on a first date.

Finding opportunities

Teaching children about entrepreneurship includes teaching them about how to weather financial difficulties. If they would like money to buy a new outfit or video game, they will be unafraid to speak with neighbours, friends, and family members to make some cash by shovelling snow, painting a fence, or selling a toy collection they no longer want. We can also teach children to see opportunities instead of problems. For example, if they receive an allowance, they may be seeing only the problem if they have only $100 in allowance money and the toy they want to buy is $130.

The creator of Nay Games, 14-year old Robert Nay, learned how to code through research at the public library. He programmed “Bubble Ball,” which received more than one million downloads. Nay Games now has games to help students with spelling and physics-based puzzles. Nay saw an opportunity, and followed through with it.

Learning problem solving

Children who learn about entrepreneurship also learn problem solving. They learn more than how to operate technology such as their iphone or tablet to play games or message friends when their homework is done. They learn to find solutions to their problems by tacking the situation head on.

In the case of Cory Nieves, a six year old boy became the owner of his own business after he decided he was tired of taking the bus to school. He wanted to buy a car instead because it was too cold. He sold hot cocoa, and later branched out to selling lemonade and cookies to achieve his dream and save up for college. In 2014, when he was ten years old, he was making sales of a thousand cookies a weekend.

Busy vs productive

Time management is a valuable skill when you own your own business. You learn to be productive, instead of just busy. Children who are adept at time management accomplish more, and efficiently. Instead of taking two hours to finish a homework assignment with plenty of breaks, they can finish it in one hour and have time for other tasks.

Business mentor and coach Cameron Herold has spoken in favour of having parents and teachers encourage kids to be entrepreneurs. At a Ted Talk in Edmonton, Alberta, he speaks about how he was bored and failing in school because teachers did not identify entrepreneurial traits as worth encouraging. For example, at the age of seven, he  was able to sell coat hangers at a higher price than originally expected, but negotiation was not a skill that he was taught.


Stories of successful kid entrepreneurs all echo a similar theme to Herold’s story: Child entrepreneurs who didn’t pay attention in school but became thriving business owners. Young teenagers who were told to set aside their business ventures until they were older, but instead continued to pursue their dream until they reached their goal or surpassed it.

My earliest brush with entrepreneurship was in grade five. One day, we were asked to bring some belongings we no longer wanted and place them on our desks at school. We walked around the class and looked for things we wanted to barter for, using our own items. A classmate had a pair of three inch tall glass boots I liked. I asked her what she wanted from my desk in exchange. Sadly, what she wanted was only worth one boot – she didn’t like the other items I had for exchange. To this day, I only have one glass boot in my display case, a reminder of my early attempts at commerce.

If you have a say in the education of a child, consider how entrepreneurship can provide them with opportunities to succeed as adults, whether they choose to have a job or own a business. One lesson that successful kid entrepreneurs have taught us is that we should never limit what we want to accomplish.

Why Your Brand and Image Matters

Think of what you associate with the people in your life: from your coworker’s tendency to use “totally” in almost every sentence to your best friend’s preference to buy almost everything in pink. These associations are what people think of when they hear a person’s name or a company name, and these connections are what makes up a person’s image or brand. Walt Disney, Madonna, J.K. Rowling, and Steve Jobs are famous people who have built brand associations with their names. Even if you don’t plan to become famous or own a business, you should know that branding yourself has become important now more than ever.

Lego careers
Lego, a highly recognized toy manufacturer,  is named one of the most successful brands.

Why care about your brand or image?

It only takes seconds for someone to make a lasting first impression with a stranger.

That’s right: a first impression is hard to change. A quick glance on the internet will show several entries on how to overcome a bad first impression, as well as multiple entries on how to make a lasting, killer first impression. It’s clear that people have had their share of bad experiences, from a horrible first date to a failed job interview – experiences that they would not care to repeat again. These search results also show that a first impression can stick like a shadow, and there are people who are very concerned about how others perceive them. This brings us to the question: is there anything you can do to maximize your chances of giving a lasting, great first impression?

Psychological scientists conducted studies to find out just how lasting a first impression can be. In a study of about 200 participants, people were asked to judge whether a coworker had improved or worsened in her behaviour. Over a period of several weeks, this coworker started off with a neutral first impression, and then attempted to make a bad impression with behaviours such as cutting in line and gossiping. She also attempted to make a good impression with behaviours such as opening the door for others and making compliments. The researchers found that it didn’t take long for participants to believe that their coworker had become a bad person, but it took much longer for participants to believe that their coworker had become a better person. Similar studies in other scenarios such as social dining yielded similar results: it was easier for people to think that a person has turned bad than changed into someone good.

The Harvard Business Review says that, “The reason people don’t often change their initial impressions is that our brain is optimized to conserve energy; if there’s not a compelling reason to re-evaluate something, then we won’t.” If you want to change someone’s initial impression of you, then you will need a bold strategy, such as surprising them or overcompensating over time with a forceful change in behaviour.

The next time you go to an interview, or meet a new friend, think about how you want to brand yourself. What image do you want to present to this person? What do you want them to think about you? Establishing yourself in a positive light by behaving well will give you a good start. But remember: You will only have ONE first chance.

Your appearance can affect your value.

People will form a first impression based on how you talk, act, and behave. They will also form an opinion of you based on your appearance. Just how important are your looks? Studies on appearance and income show a correlation between the two. So when you groom yourself, or choose clothes for the day, think about what statement you are making about your personal image. Are you successful or average? Social or introverted? An athlete or couch potato?

Studies have shown that traits that you cannot control, such as your height, and traits that you can control, such as your posture, all have an effect on your value. For example, in a poll of half of the Fortune 500 companies, they found that on average, their male CEOs were just under 6-feet tall, or 3 inches taller than the average man. This complements a study that six-foot tall males make $5,525 more than five-foot-five males. Similarly, for a study on women’s height, they found taller females earn five to eight percent more for every extra three inches of height that they have over their average-height counterparts.

These studies suggest that investing in high-heeled shoes can help your increase your salary. However, it’s difficult to add an extra foot to your height if you’re very short. Other ways to raise your value is to carefully choose how you dress. True, your attire should be a personal choice, but the opinion of others can influence your ability to get ahead.

Dressing professionally and conservatively can help you to appear as a leader if you want the role. Being well-dressed produces self-confidence, and can help to advance your career, according to Harvard Business Review. Women have an additional element to consider: women who wear make-up are seen as more professional, according to 64 percent of directors in a survey reported in The Times.

Even the way you carry yourself affects how others see you, so consider the message you are sending with your posture. Sitting in a power position, such as legs up on your desk and leaning forward, will make you look powerful and in charge to others, according to a Harvard Business School study. Those who took on power poses were more likely to take risks while those who didn’t take on power poses were more risk averse. Think about the implications of poses if you’re trying to negotiate a promotion to management at work, or if you’re trying to convince your spouse about a vacation destination.

Your appearance affects your salary, how people perceive your ability to lead or be taken seriously, and how people judge your decision making. What value would you want to associate with yourself? Are you the manager whose decisions are trusted by your superiors and your team? Are you the friend who is frequently responsible for booking group vacations and keeping a tally on who has paid? What characteristics describe you?

Establishing a personal brand is not easy. First, you need to make a solid first impression. Then you need to maintain it by the way you dress and behave. All of these factors put together become another person’s image of who you are as a person. This branding doesn’t stop with in-person relationships. Your branding online matters as well.

Social media such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter are becoming a part of people’s identity.

Social media has become a prevalent way for people to get to know you.

You may be applying for a new job. Or just “friended” someone on Facebook. Or written a restaurant review. You might not be on social media at all. All of these examples have a profound effect on how people perceive you, so the following facts are worthy of a serious read.

According to Statista, one of the leading statistics companies on the internet, about 2.95 billion people (one third of the world’s population) are expected to be involved in social networking worldwide by 2020. In Canada alone, internet users visiting social networking sites as of January 2017 is 63% of the country’s population. That’s more than one out of every two people! The number is as high as 99% of the population for the United Arab Emirates. Somewhere in those statistics includes potential clients and employers, which means you aren’t the only one surfing the internet during office hours.

Global recruitment company Careerbuilder says that 60 percent of employers use social networking sites to learn more about a potential hire’s qualifications for a job. They want to find out more about a candidate’s online professional portfolio and persona, as well as what people are saying about this person online. Forty-one percent of employers (in 2016) say they are less likely to hire a candidate if they cannot find information about that individual online.

Even if you aren’t looking for a job, or your relationships with your clients are strong enough that social media won’t affect a business deal, you should consider the impact of social media on your personal life. As of April 2017, Facebook is the most popular social network worldwide (according to Statista).

Who you choose as your friends on Facebook, the pictures you post, what posts you like, and which posts you are tagged in are all part of your image. Picture yourself looking at Facebook profiles right now. What conclusions do you draw about a person who has three Facebook friends? How about 5000 Facebook friends?

Now have a look at some photos. One of your Facebook friends has posted several pictures of vacations, family gatherings, and various dogs. What do these photos tell you about this person?

Now have a look at the photos of another Facebook friend, someone you just met last week. This friend has photos of people drinking alcohol, links to political news articles, and short jokes. This friend has tagged you in a photo of last week’s house party. Your other Facebook friends can see this tagged photo of you. Would you like to be associated with this person who has tagged you? How will this photo affect your personal brand?

With the prevalence of social media today, your reputation can precede you. A prospective employer may have scanned your LinkedIn profile prior to your job interview. A casual acquaintance from your volleyball league can learn about your experiences as a volunteer from your Facebook photos.

Even if you avoid technology, your reputation can still precede you. When you told your customer you weren’t going to give him a refund, he wrote a review online which was shared on Twitter and Facebook. The tweet on Twitter was shared 15 times and the post on Facebook was liked 18 times and generated 7 comments. One of those comments advised people not to visit your store. More alarming still, that Facebook post appeared in the news feed of someone who was planning to visit your store for the first time.

These social media statistics clearly indicate that your online presence is part of your brand. The world has become a much smaller place, and your new next door neighbour may already have an opinion of you: she’s Facebook friends with your sister’s husband.

Why care about your brand?

You might not be famous. You might not be a business owner. But people will have associations with your name when they meet you for the first time, or even before they’ve met you. If you’re maintaining a relationship, they will also have ideas about the type of person you are, and these opinions are not easy to change.

The question to pose, thus, is: Who are you, and what do you stand for?

Your brand and image matters.