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Reverb Prompt 3: Owning my Time

Prompt 3 of Reverb12 is a heavy one, developed by blogger Curlypops who has been on a transplant list for 457 days.

 Travel is a priority for 2013.

Prompt 3:

Living life on a transplant waiting list gives you lots of reasons to reflect on what you’ve achieved in your life, and what you wish for the future.

Imagine a scenario where you only had one year left to live. What is one thing that you really wish to do that you just haven’t had the chance to accomplish yet?

What steps could you take (however small) to ensure that you accomplish this thing in 2013?

I would travel, hopefully not alone. I’d sell my belongings and spend 50% of my time exploring the parts of the world and this country I’ve always wanted to see and never did. I’d spend the other 50% visiting the places I’d seen and loved the most, giving hugs to all the people who touched my life.

(Map courtesy of World Atlas)

I had planned to go to France and Portugal in October 2012 by myself after a big contract ended for me. As I was planning the trip in August, I became tired thinking about all the travel I had done for business this year and realized what I yearned for was time to nest with my new Savannah friends. As we enter December, I know that was the right decision even though I had the time and money to accomplish this goal. Now I have enough free miles for a free international trip and am ready to use them once I figure out a few questions about my professional life for 2013. I am also eager to convince a travel partner to come along (hint, hint…).

What’s your priority for next year?

Reverb Prompt 2: Vroom, Vroom

Here is prompt 2 of 31 in the Reverb12 campaign.

Empowerment takes various forms

Prompt 2:

What was your most significant expenditure in 2012?

It doesn’t have to be necessarily the biggest expenditure, just the one with the most impact.

What difference has it made to your life?

Too easy!

On November 30th, I bought my first car, a 2012 Nissan Versa SL Hatchback. Yeah, my first car was a new one and I bought it at age 37. I got my drivers license less than three weeks ago.

Since age 16, I’ve struggled with a deep anxiety of driving. Nope, never been in a car accident (someone suggested that I must have been in a past life- yes, she was crazy). Lessons in various periods of my adult life and therapy made little dents, and a big challenge was living in New York City since I was 20 years old. Maybe it’s just me, but I found it difficult to get comfortable driving in a constant video game. It also became a crutch for years as a reason I couldn’t leave New York because I was afraid I would never be able to function anywhere else.

I felt stuck.

Moving to Savannah was a perfect place to take this on. Don’t get me wrong- it was still not easy. But I hired a wonderful retired drivers’ ed teacher who took me out driving four hours a week during October and helped me get better and most importantly, manage my anxiety. I also worked with my coach Thekla on limiting beliefs around my driving issues. With the encouragement of a small group of loved ones, I finally took the dreaded road test and passed.

Beyond the anxiety,  I felt guilt and shame about driving. Guilt came from having to ask people to give me rides, though Tina Fey’s Bossypants helped a little. Shame came from not seeming able to do something that even people who seemed 90% brain dead could accomplish. But the reality is that not driving didn’t matter as much as my fear led me to believe it did. I know lots of people who drive but they haven’t visited 28 states and 5 countries or flew 60,000 miles in a year. My biggest realization the day after I got my license is how little my life had truly changed, as well as people’s opinions of me.

I’ve lived in Savannah for almost a year and the resourceful NYer part of me finds it a place you can navigate fine without a car, but it was something I wanted for myself. The impact of owning this car is tangible for sure, including opening up more business opportunities in the Southeast. But the biggest impact of purchasing the car is probably the realization that stuck was a false emotion created by my brain and nothing more.

Wish me luck getting better at parking!

I bought my first car this year.

Reverb12 Prompt1: The Pros and Cons of Being Present

It’s time for Reverb12! While I don’t get to blog as much anymore as I manage my business growth, I must make an exception for Reverb.

Reverb happens every December when bloggers reflect on the year that has passed and start to manifest their dreams for the new year. If you’ve been around since the start of my journey into self-employment and small business ownership, you may have read my entries for Reverb10. My job is to help people reach their goals and maximize their personal and professional development. Not all coaches or “experts” agree, but I believe I’d be remiss if I didn’t share my own challenges and triumphs from my experiments with pursuing my own dreams.

I missed Reverb11 because I was in the midst of moving myself 900 miles from New York City to Savannah, GA, last December. Inspiration to move first came to me through the understandings about myself and my goals that I gained through Reverb10.

I can literally confirm that participating in Reverb changed my entire life.

If you want to sign up for Reverb yourself, you can sign up here to get the prompts. Also follow the hashtag #reverb12 on Twitter to read what other people are discovering.

So here we start with Prompt 1 of 31.

Reverb12 has me present.

Prompt 1:

How are you starting this last month of 2012?

Take a moment, close your eyes, take a deep breath and ask yourself the question: how do you feel…

… in your body? in your mind? in your day job? in your creative life? in your heart?

One of my favorite songs in the world is As Is by Ani DiFranco and today I found myself singing one the lyrics at the top of my lungs: “…cause when I look down, I just miss all the good stuff. When I look up, I just trip over things.”

I feel that way and that is why I am starting December present in my life.

2012 has been a year of personal growth and change that started with relocating to Savannah on January 2nd after 15 years as a neurotic, overstretched and dissatisfied New Yorker. Today, December 2nd, I took a road trip to Tybee Island in the first car I have ever owned with my boyfriend who I met this summer, and a friend I met in an entrepreneurship incubator who happened to find herself in this corner of the country. I stood at the edge of the water in my sundress on a 76 degree day in December and breathed in deep and thought of the person I was three years ago. I wondered what her reaction would be to me right now.

Honestly? Probably “Who the f*ck are you?”

I have decided I am okay with that.

Enjoying the beach as part of Reverb

Being present also gives you a chance to recognize what’s NOT working in your life. That would be my health. Since August, I have not felt in control of my body- it has been throwing me unexpected and unwelcome surprises. Some of what I feel is a physical cost of having reached what I wanted in my professional life so quickly, some of it is my denial of changes that come with age, and some of it is “just because.” I don’t have any immediate solutions, but I know that this is something I need to focus on in 2013.

I am enjoying my present because I set big audacious goals for myself in 2010 and I met almost all of them. Enjoying my present so much has made it difficult to figure out what other big and audacious goals I want to pursue in 2013 beyond more of the same. “The same” is a temporary place and I can’t wait for the Reverb12 to steer me in the right direction.

Announcing Our 2012 Scholarship Winners!

The Opportunities Project team is beyond excited to announce the winners of our Second Annual Scholarship Program

Congratulations to all of the 2012 Scholarship winners! We were so excited this year to be able to increase our program from three scholarships to five, and we even threw in an extra runner-up scholarship (because we can!). It took a three-person team to make our final decisions, and we can’t say it was easy!

Our entire team wants to say thank you to everyone who made the time and effort to apply. All applicants will receive a copy of Tracy’s book, Create Your Own Opportunities. We received some truly inspiring applications and cannot wait to get started.

 

At a Glance: The 2012 Scholarship Contest Winners

 

Heather Wiggins

Break the Ceiling Scholarship: Heather Wiggins

Heather Wiggins, based in the Washington, D.C. area, is an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Wisconsin Law School, and The Catholic University of America’s School of Library and Information Science. She is currently a writer, entrepreneur, and also a Copyright Specialist at the Library of Congress. Ms. Wiggins enjoys reading, writing and traveling (especially to Jamaica—the place of her birth) and it is her goal to find ways to give back to the community and to encourage young people to receive higher education.

 

 

 

Ai Hirashiki

Social Entrepreneurship Scholarship: Ai Hirashiki

Ai Hirashiki is an educator with over 15 years experience working with schools, non-profits, community groups and youth organizations to develop and implement education programs.  She currently works as a consultant for the New York City Department of Education and various non-profits and is a student at NYC Farm School.  Ai is working on creating her own consulting practice to help educators and non-profit groups launch educational programs that revolve around urban farms and gardens and that focus on issues such as food justice, self-sufficiency, green skills development, nutrition and healthy living.

 

Kara Smith

Creative Development Scholarship: Kara Smith

Kara Smith is a painter and mixed media artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY. She also runs a small terrarium company called Undiscovered Worlds, and teaches terrarium making workshops to children and adults. She just began the Masters in Art Education program at Brooklyn College.

 

 

Alexandra Kenin

The Big Change Scholarship: Alexandra Kenin

Alexandra Kenin is a New Jersey native who now lives happily ever after in San Francisco. After earning her MBA in Marketing at The Wharton School, Alexandra worked as a Product Marketing Manager at Google for 4 1/2 years. She now is leveraging her online marketing skills to launch and market her new urban hiking business, Urban Hiker SF. Alexandra loves hiking (naturally), traveling (37 countries and counting!), road biking, yoga, and vegetarian food.

 

Shawndra Russell

The Big Change Scholarship: Shawndra Russell

Shawndra Russell is a novelist–her debut novel Couple Friends was released in August 2012–and magazine/newspaper freelance writer as well as a social media strategist for several businesses. She and her husband are launching a social media company based in Savannah, Georgia that offers analysis and live event coverage. You can follow her on Twitter here.

 

 

Faith Bell

Runner Up Scholarship: Faith Bell

Faith Bell a recent graduate of Kenyon College. She is a writer inspired by travel, constant reading, and the calm of drinking tea. She has recently become more open to exploring a wide range of career options in order to connect her passions with her intent to serve others.

 

 

 

A Scholarship Story: Darlene Bois

We are proud to publish the last of four blog posts from The Opportunities Project’s 2011 career coaching scholarship recipients. Meet Darlene Bois, a public relations professional, Toastmasters extraordinaire, and career changer.

Darlene won a scholarship I gave away for my one year anniversary and she chose The Social Proof package. Here is her story about what she learned through our time together.

– Tracy

PS: Want to apply for a 2012 scholarship? Look for the info at the end of the post. 


Moving To The Beat of Social Media Drums With A Purpose

Do you have profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter? Well, I was not plugged in for a longtime because I did not think that I needed to be.  Guess What? I finally gave in and created a Facebook account but I kept it for a very short period of time because I was not prepared for the content on the walls of those who wanted to “friend me”.

Reluctantly, I decided to have a LinkedIn account after attending yet another seminar where the presenter mentioned that everyone should get on board or get left behind. I felt comfortable with LinkedIn because it was a platform for professionals.

Would you believe that I had a bare minimum basics profile for one year on LinkedIn? Once again after attending another seminar, I learned to get more from my LinkedIn profile and added more dimensions to it. Unfortunately, I was still only scratching the surface.

Little did I know but help was around the corner.  I was referred to Tracy Brisson who helped me navigate the Social Media superhighway.  Before we delved into the social media, she took the time to ask about my career status and goals which include pursuing a career in public relations.  She even looked at my LinkedIn profile and gave me valuable tips to revamp it for branding purposes. Now, I use social media more purposefully and strategically in order to stay connected and share ideas.

Since training, I keep track of my LinkedIn account regularly, I tweet intermittently, and I even have a Hootsuite account. If you are not familiar with any of these social media platforms, do not be alarmed. It really is not as daunting as it seems once you have a road map that contains all the landmarks that you need to pass on the way to your ultimate destination.

Overall, I have expanded my networking capabilities as well as gained meaningful insight via my revamped LinkedIn account and the recent Twitter account that I now maintain.

If I can navigate the social media superhighway, so can you!

 


Inspired by Darlene? Apply for our Second Annual Scholarship Contest by Monday, September 3, 2012 (Labor Day). 

The Opportunities Project Second Annual Scholarship Contest

A Scholarship Story: Abby Cajudo

We are proud to publish the third of four blog posts from The Opportunities Project’s 2011 career coaching scholarship recipients. Meet Abby Cajudo, a northern California based scientist, social entrepreneur, and aspiring blogger.  

When I met Abby, she had a plan, but unanticipated opportunities came her way, leading her to different successes, so we changed course on our coaching topics. If I were you, I’d pay special attention to Abby’s advice on adapting- it’s something we can learn at any age! 

– Tracy

PS: Want to apply for a 2012 scholarship? Look for the info at the end of the post. 


Last May, I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. I experienced the same range of emotions most recent grads experience: excitement, fear, nervousness, “What the hell am I doing-ness?” It’s been over a year since I’ve graduated, and although I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing or where I’ll be a year or two from now, I want to share some fundamental lessons that I’ve learned along the way.

Create your own opportunities.

“No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself” – Seth Godin 

During my last few months of undergrad, I was really nervous about what I would be doing after graduation. Most of my friends had plans. They had jobs lined up or plans to attend graduate school. I, on the other hand, had uncertainty. But instead of throwing myself a pity party, I realized I wasn’t getting anywhere by waiting for someone to pick me. Picked for an internship. Picked for a job. I needed to pick myself. I was volunteering at a non-profit organization during my last semester and it was there that I found my passion for community work, particularly around issues of health equity and health education. I saw so much potential to reach the local community through health education programs with this organization. But since the size of the organization was so small, I knew that I needed to let my voice be heard and share my ideas in order to show my value and potential to lead these programs. I needed to give myself permission to be bold. I proactively attended meetings and other events to gain as much knowledge as possible about the community I was working in and find ways I can help. Before I knew it, one month before graduation, I was offered a position at the organization as the program coordinator for a health education program!

Trust your value. You bring a whole lot to the table.

I remind myself of this every day. My first job out of college as a program coordinator, was a huge opportunity for me. I had demonstrated my potential to the organization and they were trusting me to lead their program. The program’s scope spanned the entire Bay Area I was in charge of collaboration between students, agencies, and other organizations. There were times I felt overwhelmed and under-qualified. Those were the times I needed to remind myself that I did have something to offer. Too often, recent grads feel like they don’t bring much to the table. The truth is, you bring a whole lot to the table! You bring your own perspectives, views, experiences, and opinions. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise due to your lack of work experience in “the real world”. Every internship, every college course, every assignment, every experience has shaped you into who you are. Own it. Bring it.

Don’t rush the process. You are where you are for a reason. 

Don’t rush it. You can’t rush growth. I needed to work a year at a non-profit to understand my love for community and my heart for service. My interests in public health and community health continue to get deeper every day. I recently started working for a research study with one of the largest clinical research groups, studying factors of breast cancer survivorship. I had no idea that I would be working where I am today. I thought that I would graduate undergrad, get a job for my “gap year” and go back to graduate school. One year out, even though I’m not there, I lovewhere I’m at and have time to figure things out. I’m giving myself time to explore and grow my passions. I don’t feel rushed or pressured by where my peers are at or what my peers are doing.

Plans change. You need to adapt.

If you asked me three years ago what my plan was, it was to go to pharmacy school. If you asked me one year ago what my plan was, it was to work for a year then go to pharmacy school. I realized within that year that pharmacy is not the field for me. That’s okay. It’s okay for plans to change. It’s completely normal. The most important thing is that you adapt. Give yourself time to adapt. Your plans changing is not a sign of failure, rather your ability to adapt is an indicator of your future success. Last Spring, I was privileged to win The Opportunities Project’s College Student Scholarship. My coaching sessions with Tracy have been extremely helpful in organizing my life and making specific steps in my career goals and networking goals. 


Inspired by Abby? Apply for our Second Annual Scholarship Contest by Monday, September 3, 2012 (Labor Day). 

The Opportunities Project Second Annual Scholarship Contest

Discovering Your Secret Sauce to An Enriched Life

Intention and Inspiration

Happy Monday! We hope you had a great weekend and are refreshed and ready for a great week ahead. Our intention with these Monday posts is not only to share with you what’s going on in our world…but to expose you to a new perspective and some inspiration for you to carry for your week.

This week’s Musical Musing is inspired by Lesson 11 of our Avoid a Cruel Summer eCourse and will hopefully inspire you to try something new this week….

Lesson 11: Learn. Interesting. Stuff. (A Sneak Peek)

Okay, so do you really make an effort to learn new things? Do you have a favorite source that actually teaches you something new on a regular basis? This is especially important if you are unemployed, underemployed, or planning out your attack for making your dream career come true. Or… if you are in the first or second year of owning your own business… (you get the idea).

Part of what keeps us motivated to Do More Great Work (a fantastic book, by the way) is the stimulation of learning new things. How do you respond to these new ideas? Do you agree or disagree? Can exploring these new and interesting things enrich your social network or your world in general somehow? This truly has the potential to be your secret sauce. (Tracy and I speak from experience on this one!)

We’re not just talking about your career and learning things that will help you with your economic game. We’re talking about the happiness factor, too.

And the eCourse Lesson doesn’t stop there.

When was the last time you challenged yourself to learn something new?

Let us know your favorite sources to learn something new in the comments!

Musical Musing of the Week

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzx_78KExwQ&feature=plcp

 

Quick note: There is EXACTLY one week left to apply for our Scholarship Contest. We have FIVE scholarships to give away, and we can’t wait to see who we’re going to get to work with this year, so don’t pass up this opportunity to explore your greatest self!

 

 

A Scholarship Story: Alexandra Patterson

We are proud to publish the second of four blog posts from The Opportunities Project’s 2011 career coaching scholarship recipients. Meet Alexandra Pattersona student entrepreneur, writer, and aspiring librarian. I met Alexandra through a joint scholarship program with our friends over at YouTern and was happy to work with her while she was abroad in London. 

When I met Alexandra, she was interested in exploring magazine work in New York and specifically how to market herself for those type of opportunities. As a former NYC’er, I was in full-support of that plan! I was happy to see that she made it to NYC in 2012 and followed her journey on her blog. I am even more excited that she is now a fellow Southerner.

I hope you enjoy Alexandra’s insights into her year following coaching.

– Tracy

PS: Want to apply for a 2012 scholarship? Look for the info at the end of the post. 


My Favorite Lessons: 2011-2012

1. I was underselling myself.

Though I had had lots of internship experience in the publishing industry, I didn’t sound like it when I wrote cover letters. I thought that just because my experience wasn’t at one of the top publishing houses it wasn’t worth it but after I learned that employers look at transferable skills I rethought my strategy.

2. My professional presence didn’t reflect what I wanted.

I had been writing a blog for a few months before coaching but I didn’t concentrate on my true passion: publishing. My blog was an asset, full of clips to show future employers and I wasn’t maximizing my blog. Once I started writing book reviews and concentrating on industry specific articles to repost, my clips improved.

3. I wasn’t concentrating on what makes me special.

I have a big personality. I’m always the girl who brings in snacks for the group and plans the outings but my job search didn’t reflect this. I decided to put a personal touch into my applications by creating a “brag book” full of my previous projects. For me, this was the “something special” that allowed me to showcase my personality, for others it might be something different.

What do you wish you could change?

 


Inspired by Alexandra? Apply for our Second Annual Scholarship Contest by Monday, September 3, 2012 (Labor Day). 

The Opportunities Project Second Annual Scholarship Contest

Women Entrepreneurs: Powering Tomorrow

I was very excited to be contacted by American Express OPEN about participating in their celebration of women entrepreneurs, #PowerTomorrow, after someone on their team read my post “Nope. You Can’t Have it All.”

Not only was I excited to be contacted by a major brand, but yesterday, August 23, 2012, was my second anniversary of being a fully self-employed person without a W-2 to fall-back on. Woo hoo! I still freak out daily, but not for as long because I simply don’t have time! I have contractors and clients and creative work to worry about, as well as enjoy the rewards of a wonderful life in Savannah that being a business owner has allowed me to have.

As part of #PowerTomorrow, I have been asked to share my favorite infographics that American Express OPEN created to celebrate the success of women entrepreneurs. Here are three I chose that resonated with me. It’s tough to take a risk to do something you love because there is a high potential for failure. But failing to take a risk to use your power to help others is it’s own failure, right?

Women Entrepreneurs- American Express OPEN- Economy

Women Taking Risks- American Express OPEN

The Warrior Group- American Express OPEN

What do you think?

A Scholarship Story: Zack Laplante

We are proud to publish the first of four blog posts from The Opportunities Project’s 2011 career coaching scholarship recipients. Meet Zachary Laplante, an aspiring lawyer, do-gooder and all-around good guy who I was pleased to work with last year. At the end of our time together, Zack decided he was going to enroll in law school at the University of Pittsburgh- with funding!

Like me, Zack is a scrappy Massachusetts person so we hit it off from the start and I miss our Skype sessions. I know the world is going to be a better place when Zack graduates from law school. I hope you enjoy his insights and know that I did not pay him to say what he said about me.

– Tracy

PS: Want to apply for a 2012 scholarship? Look for the info at the end of the post. 

 


When I first came into contact with Tracy Brisson, I was in the midst of a very trying period in my career and my life in general.  I was preparing for law school simply because I felt out of options, and I had not developed the skills I needed to expand my network and determine the best path for me to take.  Fortunately, I was selected for a scholarship for coaching sessions from Tracy that were crucial in developing ideals and values that guide my goals and decisions to this day.  A mentor can be an absolute godsend when you’ve reached a brick wall, but it truly comes down to finding your own way and making decisions that fulfill you as an individual.  Here are a few of the key ideas that I have developed over the past year with a push in the right direction.

First, balancing your short-term and long-term goals is critical to success.

After graduating and finding that there seemed to be no clear-cut path for a liberal arts major with concentrations in psychology and political science (huge surprise!), I started looking into graduate school.  While I prepared my applications, I worked on a political campaign, went door-to-door raising money for an environmental awareness non-profit, interned with a couple different Internet start-ups, and even spent some time in retail.  All in all, every experience brought with it its own challenges and lessons, but I was always sure to take care of short-term needs while keeping a focus on long-term goals.  Time is money right?  You have to budget your time just as you budget your finances. Bills have to get paid, but that’s no reason you have to put your goals on the backburner.  Dedicate 20-30% of your day to networking and furthering your career, and give the rest to your day-to-day priorities, and you’ll be surprised how much you can get accomplished.

Second, the world owes you nothing.

I grew up with the naive notion that all you need is a college degree to make it, so I expected an immediate return simply from obtaining a degree.  Needless to say, I was dead wrong.  The truth is, you only get what you give.  Reaching your goals and fulfilling your dreams is less about what you have, and more about what you do with what you have.  The prodigiously talented author that dares not publish a word is doomed to obscurity just as a Harvard student will go nowhere without applying the innate talent that got them there in the first place (imagine if Mark Zuckerberg never dared to create Facebook!).  The world will not come to you unless you make it do so, so make connections, experiment and explore new possibilities, and don’t be afraid to introduce your own ideas into the mix.

Finally, every disaster is an opportunity.

When the economy crashed, the obvious reaction was panic.  Living in a country where we almost feel entitled to future prosperity, having the floor drop out from under us was a shock I don’t think anyone was ready for.  However, as we pick ourselves back up, our generation is beginning to redesign and re-envision the world based on our experiences and interpretations of this new world.  In the wake of catastrophe there will always be those with a vision for the future, and I believe that is a spirit everyone can come to embrace.  See the positive in every negative, find the upside to every downside, and when you find something worth fighting for, stick to your guns like your life depends on it.  I’ll end with wiser words than I could ever write, and I hope they inspire you like they inspire me:

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though
checkered by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy
nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor
defeat.

– Teddy Roosevelt

Best of luck out there everybody, and thanks to Tracy and The Opportunities Project for helping me find my way.

 


Inspired by Zack? Apply for our Second Annual Scholarship Contest by Monday, September 3, 2012 (Labor Day). 

The Opportunities Project Second Annual Scholarship Contest