Not long ago there was a big announcement that a Barbie Doll was created in the likeness of film director
Ava DuVernay. There was a great number of congratulatory social media posts as Ms. DuVernay is not just a female film director, but a woman of color.
But mixed in with the congratulatory posts on social media, were posts from people who complained that the doll was not made to scale. In particular, to the scale of the average black woman: wider hips, rounded backside, etc. I could not take it anymore. I finally contributed to the posts. I informed anyone who would listen, that Mattel, the manufacturer of Barbie, like any brand worth their salt; would not be adjusting their brand for just anyone or anything.
Imagine Coca Cola or Pepsi adjusting their brand colors whenever they felt like it, or for every special event. They may add stars and stripes for Independence Day, but if they changed their brand swirly logo, who would they be? How would we recognize them? I am happy Mattel highlighted and shone the spotlight on Ms. DuVernay. I am sure she does not take it lightly that she has paved the path for many young girls to grow up and become movie producers and directors. But I am sure she knows the importance of branding.
Now after having said all of that, Mattel has made some changes! They have created Curvy Barbie! This is a great example of a company (Mattel) maintaining their brand (Barbie) while remaining relevant. Mattel gets it. And because they do, they will survive well into the 21st Century thank you very much! You had better believe they thought about this step. Thankfully they made the right decision. Thankfully they employ people whose ears are set to hear what the consumer wants. Amazing right?
Four years ago today, December 15th, 2011, I was inside the profile; but I was not alone. I was in the OR—operating room, undergoing an approximately four to six hour surgery. I was having that final surgery. A lot of prayers were being sent up for me, in fact my surgeon prayed with my parents and me. The surgery went well although there were complications during recovery. But I survived those too.
The last couple of years, my ‘anniversary’ came and went without barely a thought, but somehow this year, today; it is really on my mind. I have decided not to ignore the process and just allow myself to think about it. I am happy to be alive and well; emotionally, mentally, and spiritually now. And I was fine after the surgery, but then I began to become very sad. I started to realize I would really never carry a child now that I had that final surgery. Before the surgery, although I was having a lot of physical problems, I told myself I still had a chance. But the surgery was a finalization. And that finalization hit me in a delayed reaction kind of way.
I had to eventually visit a psychologist after constantly crying for days and not knowing how to stop it. He eventually told me that I was grieving a loss, and that was when the light bulb went on for me! I was not allowing myself to grieve because I didn’t know I was grieving. I did not know I could grieve something I never had. And on top of all of that, I had stopped praying.
Bottom line, I have been on a journey. And I know millions of women around the world have been on the same or similar journey.
Inside the profile with me, whether I felt it or not at the time, was Jesus. Yes, what I went through was almost unbearable, but I survived. God was with me, and He knows my end to my beginning and my beginning to my end. Check out my logo! You will see someone in the profile! He is always in the profile.
Every once in a while I conduct a mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional review…of myself. I am not searching for a picture of perfection, because that will never happen. But I am hoping to find growth.
I am hoping that I have grown since the last check-up. I’m not OK with zero growth. It’s nice to know I am not the same person I was five or ten years ago, but I still want to be further along than I was six months or one year ago.
What is the point of living a stagnant, never-growing life? Always with the same thoughts, limiting beliefs, knowing there is more; but preferring to remain in the status quo. Some people are willing to remain in the status quo so as not to lose friends or family members due to personal growth.
Those of you used to reading my blogs or listening to me on my Podcast, http://traffic.libsyn.com/21stcenturyhannah/MON _080315_DONT_BE_A_STATISTIC.mp3, or my YouTube Channel,
have heard me say on a regular basis, that life is short. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Yet we continue to sit in our comfort zone, sticking with what and whom we know. We remain in the familiar because we do not want to risk suffering any type of loss—physical, emotional, financial, etc. I mean, stepping out of your comfort may mean
moving, changing jobs, changing churches, even changing friends! Oh no!
So you fight that inner voice that’s telling you to step out, and you stay. But there is a constant discomfort on the inside. No one else can sense that prompting but you. No one else understands that prompting but you. Yes, a close friend or family member may sense something, and if you are fortunate, that person or persons may confront you, nudging you into the direction you should go. Unfortunately, you may also have friends that want you to stay right where you are. It could be for their comfort, jealousy, or fear of losing you.
Trust me, stepping out of your comfort zone is never easy. There WILL BE change and growth. But if you ignore that voice, that prompting in your belly, that dream or invention may never happen. And you will regret it forever, trust me.
Listen to that voice. Step out, grow. Because the fact is, that voice will never allow you to feel ‘comfortable’ again. Ever. You will always feel that nagging of the unknown on the inside. Always.
I’m working on my next book, my 365-day devotional;
and every day I remind myself how easy I thought the process would be. I
thought it would be different than writing a book, for some strange reason. But
it is not. I have decided to stick to my self-imposed schedule, but I have also
decided, as is always the case, to make sure I have beautiful well-thought out
content. I really want the women who
purchase this book to find deep solace in its pages. There will be some great
additions, inserts, and interaction. I am so excited!
I will not beat myself up if it is not ready by my
initial deadline, but I plan to have it finished as soon as possible.
To get you ready for ‘21st Century Hannah
365 Days of Praise’, here is a rough draft sampler of one of my ‘days’. The day can change, so I will not mention
which day this is:
‘Favorites. Do you
ever wonder if God has favorites? Do you ever notice how some people seem to profoundly
mess up, but God blesses them anyway? You find yourself talking to God, telling
him how you just wanted one thing your entire life, but he said no. In fact, as
in my case, he seemed to block every possible way that my prayer could have
been answered! Yet others are blessed over and over, and some of them
apparently oblivious. Well, let me remind you that the comparison game creates
a slippery slope that can take you to bitterness and sadness. Don’t go there!
Concentrate on you, your life, your relationship with Christ; and with others. Make sure you are where you are supposed to
be physically, spiritually, and emotionally. This is one of the few times in
life when it is about you’. ©
Remember, this is a rough draft, I may make some changes in
the final draft.
Please also remember that this is copyrighted
Well, this is the end of August! I tried so hard to make it to the beach during my birthday month! But never ye fear! I will
get there! In the meantime, here is a top 10 list in honor of my birthday! Consider it my gift you! You all know I love lists, especially top 10
1) Know your faults, work on doing better, but act accordingly. If you know you are not a patient person,
recognize that. Don’t pretend that it is OK to be rude or mean. It’s not
OK. For example, don’t go to the big box
store on a Saturday if you know you do not have the patience.
. I mean seriously, there would be a lot less busted marriages,
lives, bank accounts, etc., if you admitted your weaknesses. Admit them and then plan accordingly. Doing
so does not make you weak, it makes you strong. You have to be accountable. Yes, when your weaknesses
know you are in control, they lose control. It does not mean they necessarily
go away, no one will ever be perfect; but you are in control, not your
weaknesses and emotions. Believe me,
there is nothing wrong or boring with the straight and narrow. I’m sure the clients of Ashley Madison were
wishing for a little straight and narrow living right about now. Hey, maybe they can use a copy of my book
|My book Down Again
your gut. It is ALWAYS right. Please, know the difference between your gut
and your prejudices. That’s all I will say about that. Your gut may be saying “no, never, ever, ever, no!” Or it may just be saying “not today, maybe tomorrow.” Know the difference. Point number six goes
into more detail. Keep reading!
with not being liked by everyone. Try to get along with everyone, but choose
your friends wisely. When you choose your friends wisely, you will choose your
time wisely. I mean, who has time for gossip, nosiness, drama, and instigation?
Yes, I checked, and instigation is a word.
You know the title of my blog site is DramaFreeZoneReligionFinanceLife
right? Note the drama free zone portion. If you want to live in peace, be at
peace with everyone. Hebrews 12:14 says “Make
every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no
one will see the Lord.”
You can be kind without being a doormat.
This is where setting boundaries is important. There should be
boundaries in every relationship. Learn
more about setting boundaries by reading the works of Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr.
John Townsend. If people become upset
when you enforce your boundaries, see point number four.
know yourself. Like yourself, warts and faults, and all.
People like to say “God is still working
on me.” That’s a cop-out. God is still working on all of his children. If you need to apologize just do so. If you
need to fix a situation, just fix it. Stop with the excuses and blame game.
Learn you, work on you, and see point number one.
that when people act inappropriately towards you, most of the time they just do
not know better. Sometimes people
are taking out their frustrations and their demons on you. Choose your battles,
and if something is really bothering you, address it. Did I say it already?
Choose your battles. If you stop to
address everything, you will be viewed as cray cray, also known as crazy; even if you do have a valid
point. Oh, and see point number five.
Rogers said, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when
to run.” He’s right. It’s not about being mean. You would be just as dysfunctional if you
continued to accept bad behavior after the same discussions with that person or
people, over and over. See point number five.
to make mistakes. There is no perfect human being on this planet! We will
make mistakes, say dumb things, and trust the wrong people. The key is to learn from our mistakes and to
allow those mistakes to happen less, as we become older. See points four
Whether you believe there is a God or not, there is one. Whether you
believe there is a hell or not, there
is one. Whether you believe there is a Heaven or not, there is one. Oh, and whether you believe there is a devil
or not, there is one. We are coming down
to the last days where right is wrong and wrong is right. Many children are rude and abusive to their
parents and elders. Many parents are not
stepping up to their role of readying their children for the real world. The world has turned upside down and inside
out. We don’t know who to trust anymore
because everyone is either wearing a mask or they are showing their true
colors. They are showing their true
colors while in a role they probably should not be in. The only one we can trust is God. He will direct our every step if we allow
him. But we must allow him. I know he
does not answer every prayer the way we would like, but we have to trust that
he knows why.
Hang in there, do the best
you can, and re-visit points one through nine!
A few weeks ago I drove south west for two hours to meet
family members for dinner. August is a
big birthday month for our family, with a birthday almost every week! We had an enjoyable dinner, in fact, I had a
wonderful steak! After dinner, I drove
behind my sister as I would be spending the night at her home, instead of
driving the two hours back.
As we maneuvered our way through the downtown streets that
night, we had to drive under a bridge to get to the interstate. Driving under
the bridge, it became even darker. But I
saw, or maybe felt, is a better word; I felt slight movements to my right. I
looked to my right, and saw them. There
were about 50 of them, lined up and down the sidewalk. I could see that some of them were conversing. Some were already laying down, having already
turned in for the night. Some were
sitting, but many of them were still standing, as if waiting. For a crowd, it was quiet, surreal. They looked like ghosts. Faceless, voiceless ghosts.
I watched in disbelief! I had never seen so many homeless people
in one place, and it was so late at night!
I continued to look at them while trying to keep my eyes on the road,
trying to take it all in. I even looked to see if there were children. That would have broken my heart. After driving by them, I called my sister. I
could not wait until we got to her house to ask her. She answered, and I asked,
“Were those homeless people?!” She responded, “Yep! Salvation Army must be full
tonight.” She later told me that the
Salvation Army was right across the street, as well as another shelter around
the corner from them. But they often
filled up fast. I had not seen the signs
for the shelters. I was too shocked at
the sight I had seen on the other side of the street to see anything else.
I drove the rest of the way to my sister’s house feeling somewhat
guilty. I had just had a wonderful steak dinner, I had a great time with family,
and I was blessed to be driving the vehicle of my dreams. Later that evening as my sister and I chatted,
I told her that I wish I had thought about purchasing enough McDonald’s burgers
to feed those people. She said she definitely
would have done it if I had mentioned it.
The guilt welled up in me again. But this time, I told myself that I work hard
every day. I work hard for what I have,
and guilt was not the correct emotion. Compassion
and sympathy were more likely what I should be feeling. And I did have those feelings. But I also knew that many of those people under
the bridge had worked hard. Many of them
had probably lost everything because they had been working from paycheck to
paycheck. One bad set back was all it
took to throw them onto the street. I
knew that in many other cases, mental illness was the cause. I also knew that life has many twists and
turns, and really it could happen to anyone, even if just briefly. And I knew that it is never good to look down
on anyone because we could one day look down and see our own reflection.
I recently read a news story about a homeless mother who was
sentenced to a five-year jail sentence.
The authorities apparently found out that she had lied about where she
lived, so that her son could go to the best school in the area. I have been praying for that situation ever
since I heard about it. It never ceases
to amaze me how the legal system manages to make things worse for people, than
they already are, instead of making things better. Why are human beings so heartless towards
each other? Why had I not thought of McDonald’s sooner?
I don’t know the answer to the homeless problem in every
city in our country, or around the world.
But I do know, that we can all do our part. I know that a gift certificate
to a fast food restaurant is inexpensive.
A sandwich baggie filled with toiletries would help immensely! And if doing either of those things would
somehow take you out of your comfort zone, you could send money to your local
homeless shelter. They are always in need
of assistance. I know that if more people looked at the crowd instead of
looking the other way, it would help stem the problem.
Have you ever attended an online event? We’re living
in a brand new, brave new world. We can now attend events from the comfort of
our living room couch! You may be thinking
that the experience may not be the same as being there in person. But imagine
gathering and conversing with women from around the world. Imagine doing so without having to purchase
an airline ticket and paying for a hotel stay. Imagine no bathroom waiting
lines, and being able to eat food you prepared so you know exactly how many
calories you are consuming! But more importantly, imagine attending, and then
leaving the experience feeling refreshed, restored, and revitalized?
Bible Study Expo 2015 will be this Thursday
August 20th, from 1 pm until 4 pm CST, 2 pm to 5 pm EST.
Marnie Swedberg, host
of The Bible Study Expo, started this virtual meeting in 2009. This expo features several Bible study
authors who have written at least three Bible Study books. They are interviewed, and are then available
for discussion with the attendees of the Expo.
Visit here http://www.biblestudyexpo.com/ on the day of The
Expo, and join the conversation! We may even run into each other!
10) Who is your
target market? Who is your message or product geared to?
9) Research the
habits of your target market. When are they online, when are they not
online? How old are they? Where do they live? What is their marital status, how many children do
they have, does this matter to your business, the product you are selling?
8) Know your niche in
the market. It’s good to know your
market, know their demographics; but you are not the only individual or business
in that space. What do you bring to the
table that would be different than other businesses in your niche market?
7) Font. Yes, it
sounds nit picky, but even something as simple as the wrong font can turn off possible clients. If you are not sure, stick with simple and business-like, unless
you know your market well enough to know they would not mind Goudy stout on every page of your
website! And of course what type of font you use depends on the medium
in which you use it. For example, you may not get away with Goudy stout on every page of your
website, but you may get away with it on your business cards.
6) Patience. Building your brand, learning
your market, and realizing success in your business, takes patience, and
passion. Most people have enough passion
inside them for their product. But they
may not exercise enough patience. Patience is key!
5) Know your
strengths…and your weaknesses. I am going to spend some extra words on this
point because I believe this is very important! You cannot do it all, you
will become a ‘jack of all trades, and a master of none.’ Some people agree
with this quote, some do not. And I
believe in this age of technology and DIY—do it yourself programs, for building
just about anything; many people can become proficient at several different
things. But in my humble opinion, there
is a difference between proficiency and mastery. You can become proficient at writing code as
you DIY your business website, but the site will look proficient. Believe me, when you are just starting
out, money will be tight. In fact, money
will be tight for quite some time. But
before you assume that every web builder charges thousands of dollars to build
a beautiful site, do some research. Ask
people whose sites you like, who built their site. Ask the builder if they are willing to work
on the cost with you, if you think they are charging too much. This goes for every aspect of your
business. Remember, this is your
passion. No one else’s. No one else is
going to ask the tough questions, go to bat for your business, feel slightly
embarrassed about your lack of knowledge, and willing to always be on a
learning curve. Do what you can with
what you have. If you have a not so nice
site, that’s fine. But do not have a not
so nice site because you did not ask around.
4) Track your
progress, aka metrics.
I never thought
I would care about metrics because they were the bane of my existence when I worked in Corporate America. It was hard for me to treat human beings
like numbers. Now that I am working for
myself, I use metrics to help direct me to what is working or not working for my
business. Should I continue to purchase advertisement
space in a certain media space if I am not getting any leads or responses from
that space? How many chances should I give that media space? I am talking about media spaces such as print
advertising, social media advertising, and word of mouth (which in my opinion
is the strongest form of advertising), just to name a few. You have to decide when one of these types of
advertising mediums is not working for your business, but remember to give each
3) Know your
brand…inside and out! You have
probably heard this before, but what is your elevator speech? Do you have it memorized and ready to go at
the drop of a hat? Many times, most times, you only get one chance to make a good
first impression! I will not question your passion for your business. And I know it is not good to assume, but I
have to assume you are passionate about your brand, your business. If you were not passionate about your
business, you would not be out on a limb working well past midnight to build your company! If someone asks
you what your business, your book, your message is about, you should be able to
rattle it off in 20 seconds! You should know that 20 second speech so well you
can say it in your sleep. You should also know how it can pertain to ANYONE you
are speaking to. I will let you think about that.
2) Be prepared. Everyone has their personal pet peeves. I have a few, well several. OK, wait, this is
not about me. Long before I obtained my masters in management with a
concentration in marketing, this one issue bothered me. When I ask someone for their business card
and their response is, ‘I just ran out of business cards’. Sorry, I know it’s not good to judge, but I
just lost a percentage of confidence in your message, your brand, and your
business. No business person should ever
run out of business cards. They are just
too inexpensive, no matter how tight your budget might be. If you are worried about them not being as
cool, classy, or cute as the next person’s, you are worrying about the wrong
things. However, things do happen, and if you did run out of business cards,
you should have pen and paper on you at all times. Another pet peeve. You are running a
business, but you do not have one pen on your person. I will tell you what is going through my mind
at this point: ‘amateur’. A little harsh?
Maybe, but I am trying to help you. Most
people just will not tell you these things.
Get the best business cards you can afford. If they are not thick and
expensive looking, make up for that with some nice graphics. Graphics by the way that you can create on
your own. As your business grows, and
your budget allows, get some nicer cards. Let your cards grow and evolve with
you and your business. Which leads to my
1) Change. Do not be afraid to change. As I mentioned in the point above, let your
business cards grow and evolve. Well, it
is the same concept for the rest of your business, for every aspect of your
business. Your message and your brand are
the back bone of your business. Everything else that revolves around your
brand should evolve. Your business
cards, marketing packages etc., should become nicer and more streamlined as
you grow. Do not allow yourself to
remain stagnant. You want to continue to
be relevant. You should remain
relevant without changing your backbone, your foundation.
Well, there are certainly more than 10 marketing tips to get
your brand and your message out to the masses.
These are the 10 I believe are important especially as you start your
business. You know, I really enjoyed my
marketing classes. I learned so much
about the psychology of people and the importance of branding. I also realized the importance of remaining
relevant. I could not believe the
elementary mistakes some of the largest companies in our country have made over
the years, I believe out of sheer stubbornness.
Where is K Mart today? How is
Sears doing? Why is JC Penney struggling
off and on? I find it difficult to
believe such large corporations did not have a team of people who were employed solely to keep their ears to the ground, to make sure the company remained relevant at all times. These
companies are just a few examples of what happens when you do not remain
relevant and do not market properly.
If you are a starter company, I hope these 10 pointers were informative and helpful. If you have
been around for some time, I hope it was a great reminder. Either way, I hope this information will
encourage you to continue learning all you can about marketing your business, and growing your
He walked between the idling vehicles. Vehicles whose drivers I am quite sure impatiently
waited for the light to turn green.
Everyone wants to reach their destination right? He walked laboriously. It made me think about how effortless it was
for me to just get up from a chair and walk to another room, without thinking
about it. I could almost feel the pain
he must sometimes feel, just to walk.
He walked between the idling vehicles, but he was still slightly
too far away for me to get his attention.
I assumed he would continue walking between the vehicles, toward my
vehicle. I pulled $2.00 out of my purse, waiting for him to get closer, but
just then he turned between two vehicles and stepped onto the sidewalk. I was slightly disappointed as I put the
$2.00 back into my purse, admittedly wondering what he would have done with the
money. I also thought to myself, ‘if he only knew how close he was to $2.00’,
especially as I seldom carry cash. We
sat at the light for another 15 or 20 seconds.
Ample time for him to have continued walking. He had become discouraged and given up when
he was so close. Who knows how many
people behind me may also have had $2.00, or more?
As I sat waiting for the light to turn green, I thought about
people in general, who had given up, not knowing how close they were to achieving
their dream. How many people had given
up and walked back onto the sidewalk just before their $2.00? I winced at the thought that it could be
me! Just then I said a quick prayer, ‘please
God, don’t let me give up just before my breakthrough, before my $2.00.’ I put my purse back, thinking ‘if he only
10) Its true, we really should have at least one
really nice black dress, one really nice business suit, and one really nice pair
9) After 40, we
should realize that although human beings are living longer, life is
short. Every day should be chock full of
joy and thankfulness whether we are cooking yet another meal, taking out the
trash, or zip lining through a forest! Every day is a gift.
8) Most arguments are just not worth it. Most people
will realize that once you have declined the invitation to argue, they will
calm down. Most people…which leads to
the next point.
7) Life is too short for drama. We must avoid the
drama queens and kings as much as possible.
We can’t save everyone! I read a
meme the other day that I really like: ‘Not my circus, not my monkeys’! I’m not
sure who said it, but I love it!
6) By the way, in point number seven, it does not mean
that we should not be kind or helpful, but by 40, we should: Know the
difference between lending an ear and getting drawn in.
5) We should know that having a giving spirit does not
mean we are losers or that we are stupid. It just means we have a giving spirit.
The key is to know to whom we should give, or not to give. We should know how to be selective and when
to cut people off when we see a trend. You know what I’m talking about! It is
called discernment and common sense. If
you do not have either, ask God to give them to you.
4) By 40 we know that no one, not even we ourselves, is
perfect. We should be kind to others even
if we do not ‘click’ with them. It won’t
take anything out of us to do so.
3) For those of us who are single never married,
divorced, or widowed, we have a lot to offer.
Chances are there are people in our lives with whom we can spend time. At
any rate, we have a book to write, a degree to finish, or a project we have
always wanted to complete. We are first
class human beings. We should not settle
for just any companionship to avoid loneliness.
There’s a big world out there waiting for us to get to know!
2) If you are married, enjoy your spouse. Hey, you
said yes! The grass is not greener. It
is only greener where you water and fertilize.
Hey, look at fertilizer as an investment. That stuff is expensive! OK, that’s it on
that subject. If you have children,
enjoy them, before you know it they will be grown and gone. Do not take advantage of them, and do not
take them for granted. At least one of
them may be there for you during your old age.
And remember, some of us do not have children.
1) We should get to know our Creator. He is the one
who will never leave us or forsake us even when the most well-meaning and
loving human being we know, may let us down.
He will never let us down, whether he answers our prayers the way we
wanted or not. Trust him. After all, he
knows our end to our beginning and our beginning to our end. Check out these
two scriptures. ‘Declaring the end from
the beginning, and from ancient times the things which have not been done, saying
‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all my good pleasure.’–
Isaiah 46:10…and “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the
beginning and the end.”– Revelations 22:13.
There are many more
things that will occur to us as we head into our 40’s. It’s definitely not just 10 things, but I
will tell you this; I felt like an adult for the first time in my life when I
turned 40…a long time ago! I maintain a
teachable spirit, but I have also decided that I would go out on a limb more. I take day trips to the beach and other places
I had always wanted to. I decided that In
the midst of my life’s responsibilities, I was going to have fun! Life is
short! Hey, no matter how it looks on
social media, no one’s life is perfect.
Most people are just doing the best with what they have been given. At least that’s what we should be doing!