Gratitude Confetti When Times are Tough

How many times have you been to hell and back? Maybe in this post-election, holidays-are-coming time of year, you feel the embers of hell at your feet right now. Any type of suffering…physical, mental, familial…it’s hard. The only way to get through it is to sort of turn your hell beast into some sort of anti-superhero.

Kind of like this…
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Why? Because the saying goes, “what you resist, persists.” The more you DENY that your situation sucks right now, the more it holds a grip on you, keeping you from DEALING WITH IT and moving on. You stay stuck. And you burn up. Ouch.

Painful times can help us grow and discover who we are and what we really want out of life. Whether you are in hell right now because it’s your first Christmas without a loved one, your traditions have changed due to separation or divorce, your kids are away from home, you lost a job or your business is suffering, you’re worried about the state of the country with Trump at the helm…know that no matter what THIS TOO SHALL PASS. In some situations, it means you have to get out of your own way to LET IT.  The gurus say that it isn’t the situation that causes us unhappiness but in our REACTION and THOUGHTS about the situation. In other words, it’s us, not them. It’s our own mind that causes us misery.

So what are you going to do about it? Mope for the next four years…or take action to work on a social cause to make a difference?

Spend the entire holiday in mourning…or do something special to lift your spirits or create a new tradition?

I get that “making the most of what you have” is easier said than done, but it is possible. Is it weird and awkward when you switch up a tradition? Can be. But it can also be better than you expected. I had to learn to let go of the importance of “the date” versus an experience around a holiday because I have shared custody of my kids so I have to be flexible and make sure they experience a beautiful time despite what day we celebrate.

The holidays aren’t the same if a loved one has passed and honestly the holidays don’t have the same BIGNESS as they did when my grandmother was in charge of our holiday merriment – and she’s been gone 25 years. They don’t have the GIDDINESS from when my kids were little and we did the whole Santa thing and waking extra early for unwrapping gifts, either.

Because it makes me happy, I put out holiday photos of the kids when they were little and elfish. This year I even added a photo of my grandparents to my mantle display so I can remember the two decades of holidays spent with them and honor their memories.

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Now my kids are older and it’s my third Christmas with the man who recently asked me to marry him. I am so full of love and gratitude and that’s what life is really about, isn’t it?

pic by Valerie Sebestyen
pic by Valerie Sebestyen

My antidote to surviving life’s hellish times is to THROW GRATITUDE LIKE CONFETTI. It’s like throwing water on the fire – extinguishing some of the pain and soothing the burn. Gratitude makes you realize not all of life is so terrible…there’s always something, someone, to be grateful for.

List your confetti…heck, maybe you should even write them down on a  piece of paper, cut them up and throw them over your head. Add the little things, too. I’m so thankful for Lipsense because I can kiss Chris and drink coffee and it still stays on my lips. I’m thankful my daughter is so chatty with me. I’m so thankful for bride tribe of supportive girlfriends. An on and on. List it. Live it. Volunteer. Whatever works to cheer you up.

Namaste. Happy holidays.

xoxo—ready.aim.grow—>

Latest ONE BOW MANY ARROWS VIDEO. Subscribe on YouTube!

Getting Empty to Find Your North Star

Can you see where you’re going on a really cloudy day?

Can you find your favorite shirt if it’s in a messy closet?

Do you know how you really feel if you’ve buried your feelings?

Can you promote your personal brand and attract the right customers if you are so busy that you’ve lost your passion and don’t even know who you are anymore? 

In all of these scenarios, the busy-ness and clutter of life and “shoulds” and “muchness” can keep us from clarity and what it takes to feel – and live – the way we want to. In business. In relationships.

In writing novels, our stories begin with an INCITING INCIDENT. It’s what gets the story rolling and is often a problem that kicks off the plot and motivates the protagonist with both inner and outer goals.

IN REAL LIFE, we all have inciting incidents. We have major events that shape our lives and even minor events that shift our perspective. We are constantly growing and changing which is why I encourage my clients to practice self-compassion and give them some grace regarding where to take their businesses if they feel they have lost their passion or are struggling with what to do to balance growing a business and still rocking their personal life. What are yours? Write them down. Think on them.

So, how do we find our north star? In my newest ONE BOW MANY ARROWS podcast, I review Martha Beck’s book, FINDING YOUR NORTH STAR. Check out the 5 Golden Arrows from the book by subscribing to my iTunes podcast OR listening here:

In the journey to finding our true purpose, we are on a teeter totter of dealing with the concepts of EMPTINESS AND FULLNESS, which I discuss in my latest Bow & Arrows video. (Below and on my Video page.) Sometimes we feel LOST because we feel empty – no direction, no passion, confusion. Other times we feel TOO FULL because our lives are too busy and we feel BURIED IN OUR TO-DOS. Yet emptiness can be a good thing because we NEED to get rid of the clutter to identify our core desires and how to get there. If you are feeling empty, you are already PRIMED FOR FILLING YOURSELF UP. Yay! Awareness is the key to our journey and where ALL THE ANSWERS LIE. This doesn’t mean that you will ACT on them, but I promise you the answer is there. Doesn’t mean it isn’t damn hard to deal with that “gem” when you’ve uncovered it.

How it works: I call it the Artemis Infinity Loop. You are the hunter and your loop goes like this – AWARENESS, ACTION, ASSESSMENT. It’s a PRIMAL instinct so it’s not like we can stop it from happening.infinity

You’re in the cave, you hear something like a tiger outside in the bushes, AWARENESS. Your heart is pounding – you feel fear, yet you must protect yourself and family. You gather the courage and decide to check it out with your spear in hand, ACTION. You quietly tiptoe out, all senses blazing, and see that the noise is only a raccoon foraging, ASSESSMENT. So you go back to bed. The loop begins again. We make a thousand choices a day. THEREFORE GETTING BETTER AT MAKING DECISIONS IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS. The loop is your friend, yet we are often terrible at all three steps! We stay “unconscious” so we lack awareness or our minds are stuck in an untrue story about ourselves and our lives. When we act we might be afraid or ignore the awareness. Or we skip over assessment and find – ta-da – that same issue WILL ARISE AGAIN, because we didn’t deal with it properly the first time.

November is a great time to do this exercise for assessing what you accomplished this year – how you felt about it – and where you want to take your personal brand and business in 2017. Isharktooth_arrow_quiver_inventory_icon‘m teaching a workshop tonight MODERN MARKETING FOR A KILLER 2017 at The Collective in Edmond and have a few seats left (I’m keeping it small so we can discuss your goals) so INVEST IN YOUR BRAND and come if you can make it a priority. I think we’ll pop over and have a beer at the Patriarch after. I’m also offering the workshop as an e-course so use my contact form to let me know you are interested and I’ll send you the registration. Course is $99, four classes including a Powerpoint, video and worksheets PLUS a personal follow up via phone call to discuss your plan.

Coming up I’m also featuring The Collective Mermaids as part of my ongoing Mermaid series here on my blog. These are kick ass business owners and entrepreneurs I office with that I think you should know. They have amazing stories to tell. Subscribe to the blog so it will always pop into your email when I have a new post (which is about every other week if I’m managing my time right.)

Now…In personal news…I’m engaged! Life is full of pleasant surprises and my fiancé

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Pic snapped after Chris told our guests our big news. Love.

has been a huge gift in my life the last two years. We told our friends at our annual Halloween party and since then we’ve been busy making plans for a May wedding. I was the Bride of Frankenstein. Appropriate, yeah?

Let’s finish 2016 strong! I’m here if you need me. xo

Loaning You The Courage

 

 

Pretend I’m your neighbor, but instead of borrowing sugar, you ask for some courage. How much you need? A half a cup? A pint? A barrel?415ra7jqgcl

Sure. Just a sec.

As a brand strategist and storyteller, I trade in courage.

Courage to have the difficult conversations.

Courage to let go of what isn’t working for you.

Courage to examine your wounds and grace to accept them and heal them.

Courage to make life changes that bring about better health and more happiness.

Courage to grow your business or shrink your business – whichever is needed for your lifestyle.

One bow = one unique life. It’s yours. As the hunter, you hold it. Load your own quiver. The arrows, choices, are up to us. Lean on your tribe for their wisdom and support, too.

It starts with AWARENESS – ASSESSMENT- ACTION and getting honest with what we want and need. In the latest episode of ONE BOW MANY ARROWS podcast, I talk about Getting Real: 10 Truth Skills You Need to Live an Authentic Life. You can hear all of the golden arrows from the book in my podcast here.

Here’s what I know: you’ll take that borrowed courage and like the results so much that you will start creating your own. Yeah, this is sounding very Wizard of Oz, but it’s true. It was in you the whole time, but maybe you buried the courage with fear. We all have some digging to do.

 

Ask for what you need and want. Then do whatever it takes to make that happen. You *can* be the dreamer and the doer. You can fix what’s broken.

 

So, hunters, are you on the path that works for you? Have you picked your targets? Have you mapped your journey, loaded your quiver, selected the right arrows, sharpened your aim? Just know that I’m here to help you do that if you need a brave hunter by your side.

–xoxo ready, aim, grow–>>

Malena

 

 

 

 

 

Hard Habits and The Voice in the Trees

I have a long list of bad habits.

When I was a kid suffering from anxiety, my habits included nail biting, hair chewing, cover225x225plucking the hair from my eyebrows, and, worst of all, obsessive compulsive thoughts about my loved ones dying, which is how I would go to sleep at night. My “nightmares” were when I was conscious, lying under the covers in the dark when my brain “took over” offering up a a movie-style scene of…you name it — car crashes, fires, heart attacks, kidnappings and so on.

After a shit ton of self growth the last two decades through mostly reading and writing, but also cognitive behavioral therapy, I have been able to get rid of those nasty habits and rewire my brain. I no longer think bad thoughts before I go to sleep and if I catch an anxious thought worming through my brain, I call it out and stop it or reframe it. Yes, it’s okay to talk to yourself. If I see a catch my fingernail in my mouth, I know it’s usually a sign that I’m nervous or anxious about something and so I can tell myself to calm down. More gentle self talk.

As an adult, I have a ton of other habits that are both good (exercising daily) and bad (leaving half-drank coffee mugs around the house) and as someone who is into psychology and neuroscience, I’m fascinated with HOW we can change these habits and form new and better ones.

In my second episode of ONE BOW MANY ARROWS, I’ve plucked 5 Golden Arrows from Gretchen Rubin’s stellar book, “Better than Before” about just that: understanding self to break bad habits and create good ones. I read it on the flight to and from NYC in 2015 and I’m thrilled to share it with you. Yes, Aristotle’s quote, “Quality is not an act, it is a habit” is the truth. In business, if quality is not a habit, it means customer service and quality assurance isn’t staying on course. We have to put in the effort EVERY DAY and show up to want the change and do the hard work to make it happen.

fullsizerender-5WHAT?! OMG, I’m thrilled my podcast is now available on iTunes so if you want to give it a try, click on the iTunes badge below. I’d love your feedback as well as ideas for things you’d like for me to discuss in future episodes. I will tell you next week’s book will be about personality types! LOVE. Also a quick note about the ‘explicit’ rank on my podcast. After listening to many, many podcasts, I found that ones that let people speak freely, Like Elizabeth Gilbert and Danielle Laporte, includes some cursing and therefore, get the explicit title. My mom advised me that that could turn some listeners off – and readers here – but unfortunately, that isn’t dissuading me from using the words I (or my guests) feel compelled to use. I’ll try not to use them often, but just know whatever is said is coming from the moment, not a script. Staying real and vulnerable to what comes is what it’s about for me. I don’t get raunchy because that’s not my style, but “hell” and “damn” don’t even seem like curse words to me. My personal stories might be for adult audiences, too, so I’d rather be ‘safe’ and use the label than not, you know? In my personal life I like curse words because they say what I’m feeling. I don’t have to tip toe around the issue. It’s direct. I’m direct.

Cool? Awesome. I think you’re going to LOVE these books I’m reviewing in the first 12 episodes, so let me know if I’m right about that!

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In other THANK GOD IT’S ABOUT TIME NEWS, I’m also pretty pumped that I’m writing again, which is really editing a story I wrote four years ago, my first mystery, Away. It was supposed to be a novel, but I’m reworking is as a novella to STAY ON TARGET and bring it to the world in a way that’s realistic for me. As I learned in Gretchen’s book, I’m an “opener” which means I get way more excited about new things/ideas/products so finishing can be a problem for me. As I discuss in my podcast, my partner is a finisher, so he ensures we don’t waste food, whereas, I’m the one that will have four bags of crackers open. I’m forcing myself to finish things I’ve started, in part thanks to my mother Patricia, who told me I would be happier if I finished these stories. So…yes to KNOWING YOURSELF and getting it done.

I encourage you to take this time to figure out what that looks like for you….finishing something you are passionate about and making a plan for it.

For you Bow & Arrows marketers, makers and entrepreneurs out there, my latest video includes some of my favorite digital tools for sharing your content with the world. If you’d like to schedule a strategy session with me, we can do a live video session, so use the contact form to book it. These “Wake Up to Wonder” PJ Strategy Sessions are just $50 in September and October so let me know if you are interested! I’m interested in gaining some challenging creative work, so let’s see if we can help each other to grow.

Lastly, in our Bow & Arrows vocabulary, I’d like to introduce, “The Voice in the Trees”, which is to be aware of things others may say to keep you off track or tell you that you don’t need to change or try to diminish your dreams. (You don’t need to lose weight. You should be happy where you are. Just be thankful you have a job. This is your lot in life. You get the idea. While we do need to listen to others, it’s important to be able to discern the good advice from the bad and the intention behind it.

—xoxo Ready. Aim. Grow.—>>>

 

 

 

 

How to Win Friends & Influence People for Real

I guess we could just cut to the chase and say, “don’t be a d-bag, don’t be a beyotch,” but of course it goes way beyond that. (Good starting point, though!)fullsizerender-5

When I decided I needed a good ol’ kick in my party pants to get my own personal brand in order so I could help clients with theirs, I knew I wanted to start back up a podcast and I knew right away the first mentor & book I wanted to discuss: How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

Before I learned about Dale in my early 20s at my corporate gig as a marketing coordinator, I got my “start” in radio in high school and I did happen to get my degree in radio and TV at the University of Oklahoma, so, hey, folks, with my freshly frequent YouTube channel (latest video: STOP PLAYING SMALL) and my new podcast ONE BOW MANY ARROWS over on Soundcloud (and soon on iTunes when I figure it out), I’m feeling like I’m hitting a pace here. Why? I did for my own brand(s) what I do for yours – set an editorial calendar and guidelines and creative brief and marketing mix and BOOM! – here we are.

Putting your personal brand out there means connecting with people where THEY hang out with the media they prefer. For some, that’s reading, and others like video and even longer format podcasts.

Switching up your channels is a great way to get a shorter or longer message to the audience.

For VIDEO, I’m doing a Bow & Arrows themed message each week over on YouTube to discuss strategies to grow your personal brand and small biz. This week’s vid inspired by Glennon’s new book LOVE WARRIOR in which she was talking about people trying to keep you small/invisible. So I wanted to talk about the “voices” of people who believe they have your best interest…but they aren’t you and don’t know your truth.

Now to the PODCAST!

A podcast gives you as the host/messenger more time to discuss your message and relay STORIES. My first 12 episodes are book reviews in a half hour or less with my 5 GOLDEN ARROWS from each book. You can take a listen at Soundcloud for now...until I get the RSS feed up on iTunes. Leave a comment and share the podcast on social media and tag me @malenalott and you’ll be registered to win a copy of the book I’m reviewing in my first podcast, HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE IN THE DIGITAL AGE. Great freaking book. It was hard to just pick 5 lessons but each of them carry a lot of weight. Golden Arrow #1 is DEVELOP YOUR SOFT SKILLS.

What else?

Another format for sharing a message are workshops, and mine are 1.5 hours. For those in the OKC area, my next PERSONAL BRANDING POWER workshop is coming up so click through to read about it and register early for the discounted rate.

My home life has been just as busy, and I love this time of year. It’s homecoming week in my neck of the woods for my Pom daughter in high school and I have a big Alpha Chi Omega reunion to celebrate our Psi Centennial on the OU campus. If you follow me on social media, you’ll get to see all the fancy party pics and then game day pics as the Sooners take on #2 Ohio State. Wishing for a big win for my Sooners.

Also, coming soon are BOW & ARROW PJ STRATEGY SESSIONS! That’s a one-hour video session with me in the mornings certain days of the week so I can help entrepreneurs across the country with their branding and marketing questions. Super stoked about it. If you want to know about it before anyone else, use the form on my speaking page with what date/morning time you’d like (between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. CST time) and I’ll send you over the registration and confirmation.

I’m also adding MINI STYLE SESSIONS over at Sooner Spaces for OKC area folks who want a strategy session for their home or office space makeover OR a staging session if you are selling your home. I’ll be announcing that over on Facebook.com/SoonerSpaces.

Wow. Okay, time for the homecoming parade.

Onward xoxo,

Malena

Life Sucks or Rocks Based On This One Thing

“The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.”
Martha Washington

The first First Lady is talking about attitude. It’s so easy to be miserable when life isn’t going our de16b590746cdae9a7300637a12c64adway – and happy when things are. But being cool when things get sticky…that’s the real test. I remember when I was especially stressed out at my ad agency back in my late 20s when I read, “I shall not let circumstances dictate my joy.” I tried really hard from then on to not let a bad situation define my mood and spoil the day. It is easy? Hell, no. But it DOES get easier with practice.

So what about other traits we need as the CEO of Our One Unique Life? As makers and entrepreneurs and managers, what do we need to possess to carry out our goals? In this week’s Bow & Arrows video, I share 6 traits of a great hunter – you hold the bow, friends, and the arrows our our choices, including how we react to whatever circumstance comes our way. By changing our behavior from the inside out, we can make these habits stick.

I look forward to seeing some of you next week for my next workshop, Hitting the Brand Bullseye. See the full list of workshops here and if you are seeking some branding help, message me to discuss. I’m already seeing some really cool things come out of this program, so I’m thrilled we’re creating this tribe to aim for greatness together.

xoxo Ready. Aim. Grow.

What is it you really want?

It was the summer of 2015 and I sat in my leased house in NW Edmond feeling a little lost and sorry for myself. My kids were with their dad and I felt the enormity of the silence. The quiet was yelling at me. “WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?”  Because I’m an ENTJ (Extrovert, iNtutive, Thinker, Judger), I assume any voice is demanding some deep philosophical discussion, not like, “hey, what are going to do for…dinner?”

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Does she look like she’s leading a workshop? I’ll smile, I promise!

I let the question sit in the sunlight a bit and then I ran to my desk and grabbed a notebook. I wrote, “one bow, many arrows.” I have ONE BOW, ONE life – my own unique, imperfectly perfect life, and I have many, many arrows. The arrows are all of my choices, my thoughts, decisions, habits, actions. I quickly ended the pity party with the idea that I would turn my archery metaphor into a book someday. (And remind myself that my life is up to me. I alone have the ability to make it awesome or awful.) Fast forward a year later and I realized that a-ha moment wasn’t just for a BOOK. Why not use Bow & Arrows to help people with personal and small business branding?

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every brand has a story. even you.

The personal brand is you, inside/out. It’s your personality, yes, but it’s also philosophy, passion, purpose, perception and…power. It’s how you see yourself (reflection) PLUS how others see you. There’s often a disconnect.

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I’ll bring the wine, tribe.

We can’t really answer the blog header question, “what is it you want?” until you know who you are. And that, my friend, is always evolving. But we have to start somewhere and if you would like to grow your business, move up in your career, improve the relationships in your life…Bow & Arrows is a pretty cool way to turn awareness into analysis and action.

My first local workshop on Personal Brand Power is August 25th at The Collective in downtown Edmond from 7-8:30 p.m. It’s an hour and half immersive workshop to help you in your journey as the archer (hunter) with one bow, many arrows, and identifying the best targets to achieve success the way you want to define it. Oh, my other passion? Fine wine. Yeah, I’ll have that on hand, too. I know a guy.

Limited seating so register early over on Eventbrite. You can also download the PDF here: bow&arrows personal brand power.

Want to book the workshop for your team or organization? Contact me below ONLY FOR PRIVATE GROUP WORKSHOPS.

Lastly, subscribe to the blog to get the latest news, including a September brand workshop for small businesses.