Dare To Be Different - Part 1

 

Can I be real for a second? A few years ago, I was burned out, exhausted, and rapidly falling out of love with what we were doing. I thought we were spinning our wheels. So I made a decision to do business like big businesses do -- with a plan on daring to be different.

I knew we wanted to serve more people who needed our help at a lower price point. We got excited by the prospect of creating digital products and moving away from solely 1 to 1 services. How did we do it?

  1. Getting specific

Most businesses are way too broad in what they offer.

There is a critical need to get MORE specific. There’s too much online noise not to be.

 

  1. Creating a predictable way to generate leads

This has to be a constant. Using social media, strategies for list building, building an audience who likes and respects you. These are all crucial to generating leads. Not taking control of your lead generation creates an endless and exhausting cycle of hoping. You don’t want this.

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Actors Act and Waiters Wait

 

I've heard my husband say “actors act and waiters wait” a million times. He heard it from Samuel L. Jackson a few years ago while Samuel L. was talking about the beginning of his career. In the early ‘90s he was first getting put on and still waiting for opportunities. Then, very quickly, his career picked up in the late ‘90s with Pulp Fiction and Jurassic Park. Now he's in a movie every three months. Samuel L. was very clearly living by the mantra that actors act and waiters wait.

And the takeaway from that really is: we have to attack life with a sense of urgency. If there's something you want to do you have to do it and be relentless about it.

 

I know many people are thinking about starting a business, particularly with their spouses, and for some reason they're hesitant. You're wondering: What if we don't get along? What if we put all our eggs in one basket? Is this gonna work? One in three businesses fail, so what's the point?

 

Great....

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Connection and Communication  

Connection and communication are fundamental to all relationships, but particularly so for couples in business together. Shereem and I have to connect and communicate in order to be effective as spouses, parents, and business partners. Last week we took some time just to do that. We literally just sat in the bed together, watched this really cool show called “Working Moms” on Netflix, and talked. It was so good to be able to talk about a variety of things — some personal, some business — and even though we try to keep our business out of the bedroom, in this space it felt okay.

 

We were able to do this and not allow one aspect of our lives together to weave into the other. Don’t be mistaken, we are far from a perfect couple, but at this juncture in our lives with almost 20 years married, we understand that nothing will get accomplished if we don't connect. And that starts with communication.

So, as you go through the next week please try to...

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Support is Success

Nothing makes me happier than seeing a couple grinding it out together. When I say "grinding it out," I don't mean bumping their heads against the wall just trying to make everything work all at once. No. I mean trying to make their magic happen, trying to realize their dream, but realizing they have to put the work in in order to do this.

I know many couples where one spouse is working full time, and the other is starting or growing an entrepreneurial dream. I applaud both of you for talking, communicating, and making a decision to help each other the best way you know how, in order to be all that you want to be.

I have a friend who supports her husband in his baking business. This guy is an amazing baker. He creates these amazing bread puddings and cakes around the holidays. And seeing her hustle and market his bread pudding because she believes in him, I know she does it out of love.

How much they're earning from it? I don't know. But seeing her throw everything onto the fire in...

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Celebrating International Women's Day at the Motherhood: The Remix Conference

Did I really just do that?

Did I really just have a guest speaking gig at Motherhood: The Remix Conference in Birmingham, Alabama last weekend?

 

Did I really connect with women from all over the southeast and mid-Atlantic to talk to moms about our juggle, our struggle and our joy?

Yes, I did!

 

I'm super proud of myself and even more proud of Dr. Leesha who coordinated the event. Oh, what a relief to meet new powerful women who are doing it all.

 

Sometimes I forget that there are other people out there who are going through what I'm going through, but when I go to these conferences, particularly those focused on motherhood, I'm rejuvenated cause I know I'm not alone. Sometimes we get so caught up in our bubble or trying to impress people on social media on a day to day that we forgot that there are real hardships in being a parent.

 

I learned so much at this conference. I learned that not only am I not alone, but there are strategies that I can employ as a...

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Why My Marriage is Working

To date, and I say that very intentionally, my marriage is working because my husband and I are teammates. I don't say "to date" to be facetious. I understand that marriage is difficult and like many couples, my husband and I have looked at each other over the past 20 years a few times and said, "Are we going to be able to make it?" But to date, today, we are okay.

 

 

I think we're okay, because we continue to respect each other as teammates and help each other to live our dreams. It's not easy. I'd be lying if I said that I'm always the best wife, and he'd be lying if he said he's always the best husband but, for almost 20 years we've been, what we call the "hyphenated hustle." We say that because yes, we are hyphenated, Herndon and Brown, but also because we hustle. Not just for money, but for happiness. To me, hustle means work. It means doing whatever you have to do. When it comes to making me happy or trying to, my husband hustles. When it comes to providing for our...

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The Big Game

 

I heard that there’s a “big game” tomorrow. Have you heard that too? Supposedly there’s a football game in Atlanta that will determine which team is the best for the 2018-19 season. Personally, I haven’t watched pro football for two seasons, and I’m a huge sports fan. I have my reasons for not wanting to watch but I will admit that I miss the “preparation.” As a foodie, cooking for the Super Bowl was an annual tradition but this year, since I’m on my NFL hiatus, I’ve decided that I’m going to prepare for another “big game.”

This game is called “Business.”

Yes, since I’m always “all in” for my husband and kids, I need to play a “bigger game” in my businesses. My husband and I have been fortunate that word of mouth has carried us for over a decade and last year, we made over $300K. We didn’t market, were hit or miss with social media and worked when we...

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You Bring Me Joy

I have this song on repeat in my head right now. Does anyone remember that song by Anita Baker, “You Bring Me Joy”? It was one of my favorite songs growing up and I remember my mom dancing around the house drinking wine and singing it. Sometimes she would kiss me on top of my head while she was singing and then stare at me in the eyes and make me feel as if she was only singing it to me. I think, as an adult, that Anita Baker was singing it to her husband, boyfriend, man-friend, but I completely understand as a mom now how you could take a song like that and sing it passionately to your child. I have four children, and I love them all equally, but admittedly I look at my son, my only son, and I say, "you bring me joy."

Birthing my son was not easy, and I know a lot of women can relate. Whether the struggle of getting pregnant, having a miscarriage, or miscarriages plural, to having his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and then needing an emergency C-section, I look...

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He's Got Me

I wake up some mornings and I look at the man next to me, my husband, and I ask myself “how did he get here?” I don't really say that out loud, but I do ask myself “why am I married to THIS man?!!” He’s always snoring, sometimes had gas and takes up too much space in our bed. This can’t be the same man that I fell in love with 20 years ago, can it?

 

I ask myself this and then I chuckle because I know he could be saying the same thing about me. I mean, in his head, he thinks: “how did I marry this beautiful, well-put-together, loyal, dime-piece cook who's a nurturer for my children? Once upon a time, all she wanted to do was be in the club and dance until her feet hurt so I would can take her home to rub them."

 

My husband definitely won the wife lottery, but even when I'm jokingly looking at him and saying, "I kind of wish I married the Rock.”  I do still say “I love you."

 

Why do I love my husband?...

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Happy Family, Happy Business……..

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Starting your own business sounds sexy. As a culture, we throw around the words “entrepreneur” and “creative” very easily and while it’s incredibly admirable and downright necessary for most people to create and sustain their own businesses, it is not a task for the weak.

Now, try adding on being married and raising a family with your business partner! Again, while it may sound cool and it does have its advantages, there are also many, many challenges.

The “new mom and pop” model of couples doing business together is taking off. In a variety of industries, married folks want to be just like Will and Jada, Jay and Bey and Michelle and Barack: a power couple. And for that to happen it takes dedication and discipline.

My wife and I have started four businesses together and have learned a lot. One failed, one is in a holding pattern, one we are reviving and one is our mainstay that still feeds the family. We have never had venture capital or any...

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