Making a Website

I’ve been so lucky to get so many professional referrals for so long that I have put off a lot of the basic “I’m running a business” tasks. An important, but annoying, task I finally tackled was building a website.

It’s not so much that it’s difficult to make a simple website, but it’s the creative planning and thoughtfulness that it requires. So I dedicated a weekend to putting together the bare minimum for what I need.

  1. Shopping around WordPress Themes. This bit of research included looking at features, design, and basic functionality. I ended up with a free theme that suited my needs.
  2. Connecting my domain name (BeckmannCollaborative.com) from GoDaddy to WordPress.
  3. Customizing my WordPress Theme – site name, layout options, etc.
  4. CONTENT. This is the animal I didn’t want to tackle, but decided was absolutely necessary. My final decision was to keep the content very simple – home page with intro information, an about page, blogs, contact, and partners/collaborators.

It took me about 10 hours total over 2 days, and now I have my framework for a functioning website.

Other factors to consider:

  • Contact Form. I recommend using a plugin to a email platform. Almost anything is better than the free contact forms that come with WordPress. This is important for your lead generation plans as well as developing drip content (if you so choose).
  • Blog Plan. To have a blog or not? I just about always choose to have one because I love great content and sharing stories. If you hate writing and know that you will not keep up with a blog, then don’t bother setting one up. An empty blog looks like you don’t care enough to try.
  • Images and Brand. Something I have yet to address for my own business is branding. While I have a ton of ideas about what I think it should look like, few decisions have been made. At minimum, I knew the ascetic that I wanted for my website and the kinds of images I prefer to get my point across.

Are You Chasing a Dream or Building a Career?

What’s the Best Career for You?

Isn’t this the age old question that we all face at some point – or in my case, multiple points? It’s definitely fun to waste some time on the goofy online quizzes like those on Buzzfeed. It forces you into a conversation about what makes you happy. I like this one: What Career Should You Have? My result was Astronaut. While I do very much love adventure and science, I don’t think I could pass that gravity test.

What is a Career Really?

I’m not sure if the concept of a career still exists in today’s society. What is a Career. Dying at DeskGrowing up, it was enforced that we would go to college, figure out a career, find a job, and stay at said job until we retire or die (whichever happens first). By the time I was in college, the world was rapidly changing – technology, terrorist attacks, hurricanes, and of course the birth of social networking. Every year it seemed that the definition of a career was changing. By 2009, there was no such thing as a career – just luck that you had a job at all.

Work or Die

Even though it has been several years since the economic meltdown (lovingly nicknamed the “great recession” of 2008), the same secure job is what so many people stick to. Every day we exchange our time and talents for money, to buy things from other people who are making the exact same exchange. This is one of the most cyclical things going on our lives – like running in the hamster wheel – yet, so many of us refuse to recognize this fact, so we keep running and hoping for something to change. Isn’t that the definition of crazy?

Happy vs Wealthy

Why can’t we have both? I wish I could tell you that we can all have both; but that would be an outright lie, and it’s just not my style to play that game with people. Some people can definitely have both happiness and wealth, and we should all strive to achieve both. I love music and singing, but at the end of the day I need to be realistic. Singing does not pay the bills, and I’m not nearly talented enough to pursue it further than an activity of enjoyment. BUT THAT IS OKAY BY ME. Not everything you love can be your income generator. I also love to create ideas, communicate and connect with people. Doing that pays my bills, and still makes me happy.

There’s a reason that the phrase “Achieving a Goal” insinuates success and “Chasing a Dream” insinuates wasting time. I used to dream about being an actress on Broadway (age 14) or a powerful band manager (age 16); but I also imagined myself as an entrepreneur who was going to make a change in my community (age 13).

Once you take the time to filter through your many dreams and realize that one of your dreams is actually a goal, then you can stop running and go achieve it. When it is just a dream it remains as nothing more than part of your sleep cycle. Are you done dreaming yet?

Run, Achieve goals, set goals, CEO Candi

Set Your Goals and Run Toward Them

Creating Accountability and a Routine

Now that January has come and gone, many friends have commented on the falling away of their loosely planned New Years Resolutions. To avoid this failure in myself, I made a point of attending every meetup event I could about making and keeping resolutions during January. The logic behind it was that if I could learn the 20 different ways other people are making and keeping up with their goals, then maybe I could find the ways that work best to implement them into my own life.

Part 1: What the Heck Are Your Goals?

Believe it or not, this was the hardest part for me. As everyone buzzed about losing weight, achieving a dollar goal for their business or creating a routine, I sat their blank faced. Finally, people asked me some questions that helped to guide me there. Where do you see yourself 6 months from now? What would make you happy that isn’t in your life? Why are you unhappy?  

Out of these questions, I started with 4 weekly goals and 2 long-term goals. The weekly goals include exercise, getting outdoors, being social, and creating a positive sleep routine. My long-term goals include a solo-trip to Norway and building my company to include partners.

 

Part 2: Creating Accountability

Once you have said your goals out loud to another human being (or in my case, announcing them on social media to the world), you are 80% more likely to achieve them. To push myself further, I discovered 2 methods to keep me accountable for the weekly goals – a calendar and a buddy.

Accountability, Routine, Being Accountable for goals, New Years Resolutions

My Accountability Calendar for January

Accountability Calendar (not my idea, but wish it was). Pin a plain old calendar on your wall and choose a few different colored markers – each one represents a goal. When you complete a goal, mark it on your calendar for that day. The visualization of your accomplishments is pretty powerful.

An Accountability Buddy. This is a person you check-in with about your goals. Think of it as a report you must send to the boss each week, though in this case it’s really a tool for you and your own good. My buddy and I actually have a friendly competition going. We track our goals with points each week (1 point per goal achieved). At the end of the month, the person with the most points is treated by the other to dinner, coffee, drinks, or whatever else suits.

Part 3: Set Benchmarks and Get Excited for Long-Term Goals

I actually set calendar appointments with myself for all of my goals, but it’s especially important for the long-term ones. In order for me to go to Norway for a few weeks at the end of August into September, there are a few preparations I need to make – research, set a budget, purchase plan tickets, book hotels, plan activities, and coordinate with client work. For each item, I’ve created a due date – it is on my Google Calendar with all of my meetings and tasks, as well as living in my Asana task manager under it’s  own project.

Knowing my ability to put off personal endeavors to make way for clients and work-related things, I had to set aside time to schedule myself into meetings with myself.  Otherwise, nothing would get done in time and my trip may not come to fruition. I want it to happen. I’m excited to go. And every week I remind myself about the excitement somehow – Instagram photos, Reddit threads, casual conversations with friends, etc.

Solo Trip, Norway, Accountability, Goal Setting

My Instagram Vision of Norway

 

Just Do What You Need To Do

If making a big change in your life requires some effort and creating a routine, then start somewhere… whatever place you need to. For me, I need calendars and buddies and happy reminders.

 

Telling Your Own Story

It’s easy to be swept up in a client’s brand story and forget about telling your own story. When you are a consultant (or freelancer or contractor), it’s so important to pause and think about the content you are putting out to the world, the story you tell people, and how you are sharing it. I am a victim of getting lost in the chaos of work and forgetting to think about my story, at least for a little while.

Identify Your Specialty

 

What is your field of expertise

Start by writing an email or pitch to yourself. Try to sum up what you know best in the simplest possible terms. Are you an incredible graphic designer for tech companies? Maybe you are a highly organized hospitality manager, a technical writer for procedures and guides, or a project manager for non-technology jobs. The clearer you can be about your field, the better.

What do you feel the most comfortable offering to clients

This is where you get into the nitty gritty. I scribbled down things as they happened during work – the specific kinds of tasks that I am best at and feel I can confidently offer. While I’m not a technical writer, I feel comfortable talking about technology and the kinds of materials that are required. On the other hand, I’m very comfortable working with clients to do the market research and create a true demographic profile of their customers.

Consultant, Identify Your Specialty

Consultants Need a Specialty

You can tip toe into the water, or run with open arms. Either way, take a look into your self to figure out your specialty. These are just two of the key questions to keep yourself in check. Since I’m still relatively new to being a consultant, it is only in the past few weeks that I have been able to clearly identify the answers to these questions. It took me about a year of trying things out, testing my limits and asking a lot of questions to find my own answers.

Inserting Your Passion Into Your Life

Just in case it wasn’t obvious already, my oldest and most personal passion is musical performance. Living in a city with the tagline Live Music Capital should make it easy for me to get what I need, but I’m not always so sure about it. But I am a Broadway brat, and New York will always be my hometown.

Broadway Background

The first time I saw the lights of Broadway, I was about 9 or 10 years old. It was on the way home from seeing the Radio City Christmas Spectacular – a family tradition for a few years. In that moment, my gut and every nerve ending in my body reacted. It wasn’t about the lights themselves, but about what was lying beyond those lights. I could get lost in the incredible talent, music and stories of Broadway. I knew this even before seeing my first Broadway show. It is the only instance of love at first sight that I have ever experienced.

For my twelfth birthday, mom and dad bought tickets for the whole family to see Les Miserables. I was never the same again. From the moment that the curtain went up my entire life became about that stage. Through the years I’ve been on stage, back stage, promoting what’s happening on stage, and simple in the seats enjoying the story unfolding on the stage. No matter where I was in life, Broadway was my perfect escape. It was a place where I could laugh, cry, and feel changed. (Funny side note: I specifically became obsessed with Les Mis).

Growing From My Passion

Since musical performances are clearly my passion, I have always found my way into roles that reflected that – Broadway marketing, Carnegie Hall, etc. One day I realized that my biggest strength was not in my passion, but how I expressed it. I was writing and speaking about music with clarity and high energy, and the people listening or reading were picking up on that spirit and becoming my audience. I had created my own stage.

After moving to Austin, my participation in musical performance dropped to zero. It’s not because options are limited, but it’s because… well there is just no Broadway here. That is a terrible reason, I know.

So now what do I do? How do I re-inject my passion for musical performance back into my life? Passion for Music

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Your Calling

How Do I Know What I Should Be Doing With My Life?

There’s no truly wrong answer to this question, but there are thousands of possible right answers. While I don’t always love the “numbered advice” articles that I read online and everyone posts on social media, this one hit upon some incredible points, so I decided to re-share it. For many of us #1 may be the hardest advice to take and run with. *I thoroughly appreciate the drawings that accompany each piece of advice.

20 Ways to Find Your Calling

by Jessica Hagy (Forbes)

Not sure what to be when you grow up (whenever that is)? Fret no more. We can figure this out together. Let’s get started.

1. Ignore the future, deal with the present.  
The question, “What should I be when I grow up?” is wrong. Ask instead, “What is next today?” People become fat one bite at a time, and we become adults one hour at a time, so what we do today matters.

2. Shop around.  
Unless you try on the outfit, you’ll never know if it fits. Do the same with vocations, avocations, hobbies and skills. You’ll need to sample every flavor to know your true favorite taste.

3. Say yes to odd opportunities.
Say yes to the things that intrigue you, instead of the ones that bore you.

4. Find a problem to solve.
Being the solution makes your work feel meaningful. Having an issue to work against also gives you a villain to play against—and makes you a hero.

5. Burn your plans.
Your life will not go according to plan. Nobody’s ever has. So don’t worry if you get off track. The track was imaginary anyway.

6. Do not follow someone else’s dream.
Your parents want you to be A. Your boss wants you to be B. Your friends want you to be C. And society is clamoring for you to be D. You can’t please everyone, but if you do what YOU think you should, at least you’ll be able to sleep at night.


7. Blend your talents.
Instead of doing something that only takes advantage of one skill, create a mash-up of several things you do well. You’ll set yourself apart and feel more satisfied with what you’re doing.

8. Seek out people you actually like. 
It’s more satisfying to dig a ditch with friends than to design a skyscraper with a team of sociopaths.

9. Give yourself permission to change your mind.
Most of us choose our paths around 18. As time passes, you might find new things to do and places to be and people to know, and a few calls you made at 18 will probably need to be overturned.

10. Ask the elderly for advice.
They’ve been there, done that, got the AARP card. You’ll find that happiness and satisfaction have more to do with love and purpose than dollars and cents.

11. Roam a library.
You never know which book, author, or topic will speak to you from the shelves. You might just find what you didn’t even know you were looking for.

12. Seek support, not tolerance.
You’re going to need help with anything and everything. Make sure you have people in your corner who do more than just nod and say, “that’s nice,” when you tell them your dreams.

13. Spend time before you spend money.
Invest in reading and talking and finding out before you plunk down a ton of money on a degree or a certification or a relocation. You might find that you don’t have to write a check to compose your future.


14. Don’t confuse a job with a purpose.
If you are working to support your family, they are your real bosses. If you are working to further a goal or idea, don’t let your paycheck (however plump it is) become an obstacle to it.

15. Consider your epitaph, not your resume.
Thinking long term can help you see both what’s vitally important and what’s certainly silly.

16. There’s no need to be THE best.
Very few people are the very best in the world at anything. Doing your best doesn’t mean you have to be THE best. Your best is more than enough.

17. Don’t keep score.
No one will be at the top or bottom of their game forever, and who you perceive as your competition is a constantly changing cast of characters. Keeping score can become a full-time job if you let it, and that’s an awful way to spend a day, much less a lifetime.

18. Change course if you find yourself coasting.  
It’s possible to get stuck on a very easy and vaguely rewarding path, like a cushy or undemanding job. If you feel yourself simply rolling along, it’s time to switch gears, because coasting can atrophy your dreams.

19. Be authentically uncool.
Stick with what you love, even if others sneer at it. This is also referred to as integrity.

20.  Relax.
There’s no right answer, but there are thousands of viable options.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jessicahagy/2012/06/26/20-ways-to-find-your-calling/3/

Money Smart and Investment Literacy

Fear Comes From a Lack of Knowledge

There’s a huge information gap for most adults in the US around finance and investing. For a slew of reasons – most of which have deep emotional ties – we are scared of the “great wide open” market of investing. Many people view investing as gambling, but there is so much more to it than that.

I’m not in a financial position right now to NOT be investing in my future. Time is the one of the things I have control over when it comes to my money. The sooner I invest, the more my money can be compounding. Even though my income is pretty low, I can still set aside money each month to add into a Roth IRA.

Getting Money Smart

I just finished up a class through one of the local university’s community class program, and it made me feel empowered. That’s what knowledge will do for you. The stock market, bonds, tax shelters, and investing in general loses the fright factor one you understand how it all works.

Investment Advice

Just do it! Don’t waste another minute pondering whether or not you should invest in your future. At a minimum, you should have a 401(k) with your company or Roth IRA on your own – and max it out each year. Take a class, do some reading, talk to people about money – whatever you are most comfortable with. When you’re ready, you may want to speak with a Registered Investment Advisor. I’m not saying that you should hand off your money to someone right away, but many RIA’s are willing to consult with you or be a source for advice. I’m no expert, but compounding interest is a pretty awesome thing to have working for you and growing your wealth.