Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Can't Help Falling in Love With You- Sophia Wilson

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Is business ownership for you? A message about Entrepreneurship from HBB's owner, Gina Wilson

Entrepreneurship: 5 things you should know if you decide to fly solo

According to Gallup, unhappy workers worldwide outnumber happy workers 2 to 1. The world over, employees too often dread Mondays and count the hours and minutes when they can be "free" and go home. And this is not just true for low income workers. Despite security, retirement plans, and reliable, decent salaries, many people yearn to be part of that entrepreneurial club who make their own hours and control their own lives - even on Mondays.
But is entrepreneurship really for you? If it were so easy wouldn't everyone do it? Well, truth is we're all different, and working for yourself is definitely not for everyone, but if you have the itch to take the plunge, check out these 5 points first.
1. Know yourself. All cliche jokes aside, Shakespeare had this one right. You'd be surprised that when presented with questions designed to promote self reflection, how many folks have no definable sense of self. So what does all of this philosophical mumbo jumbo have to do with the nuts and bolts of opening up my own widget shop you might ask. The answer is EVERYTHING. When deciding to leave the security of your employer's nest to work for your self, you know you are taking a financial risk. So, when trying to decide where to focus your endeavors, (i.e. do I open the widget shop, the Coffee Bean franchise, or do I design and sell T shirts on the strand in Catalina), add serious soul searching into your due diligence. Being your own boss can be fun - after all you call the shots, make your own decisions, create your own hours - but it's the hardest job you'll ever love, or not. Starting your own business takes serious time and serious work, people, so you'd best love it. Chances are if you love it, your enthusiasm will spill over and your customers will love it too. If you are monetizing your passion, there is also less chance of burn out when you realize that your secure 40 hours per week schedule just doubled in required man hours.
2. Check your fear at the door. If someone told you to walk across a 2inch beam bridging a seriously deep canyon without a safety net, few of us would jump at the chance. But if the offer included the fact that on the other side, waiting for you, were stacks of cash and a key to doors labeled "Financial Freedom", "Time Independence", "Philanthropic Freedom to Help Others", "Fun and Satisfying Challenges" and "Living the Life of Your Dreams", you just might be inclined to take the risk. Does this mean that your heart wouldn't beat faster than hummingbird wings as you took that first step away from the safety of solid ground? Of course not. You'd still be terrified! But you'd have so much incentive that, with the proper mindset, you might just find yourself strongly propelled forward despite the known risks. Remember, courage is not a lack of fear, but it's action in spite of fear. Deciding to break with your traditional corporate position for a chance at gaining total control of your life, time, and finances, is analogous. It's a total risk of falling into the abyss, but with courage, appropriate and adequate planning, and definite forward action, so much lies ahead. So recognize your normal, healthy apprehension, but don't wear it like a smothering cloak lest you be paralyzed into inactivity.
3. Know your "why". Number 1 above, knowing yourself, is about knowing your "what." What do you enjoy, what makes you tick, what are you good at, etc. But this is not enough. You also need to know your "why." What does this mean? It means stepping out of the forest and looking at the broader landscape of your life. (Yes, more philosophical "mumbo jumbo" for you to chew on.) It means understanding, or at least wanting to understand, the  purpose of your existence. It means taking the time to ask yourself what mark you want to leave on this world when your train reaches the last stop on the line. So, again you might wonder, what does this have to do with opening my widget shop? Inasmuch as your widget shop's success correlates to the time you will spend planning, designing, starting and operating it, and inasmuch as your time equals your life, I'd say it's pretty important. When you decide to check your fear at the door and step out onto that beam, you are risking everything, so shouldn't there be a greater vision than just paying your bills? I'm not saying here that everyone feels called to save the world so to speak, however part of the human condition is recognizing the awesome and unique characteristics which make us human in the first place. And self reflection, hope and aspirations are some of those qualities. If you're going to risk it all, risk it for your genuine "why."
4. Build your team. Make no mistake about it, many people who decide to take the entrepreneurial path and "fly solo" often stay solo for quite awhile. So when I say "build your team" it doesn't mean necessarily that you have to start your business with a full staff. On the contrary, staff or not, you will find that as the business owner you will wear more hats than ever before. I used to literally make myself laugh out loud when I first started my last company. I'd have to switch between product development, marketing, shipping, and IT several times a day, and when one of the kids would spill something on my inventory or, God forbid, throw up on the office floor, I'd have to call in the sanitation engineering department. I'm sure you can guess who that was. So, why do I say "build your team"? Because the truth of the matter is that you can do it all, (well, sort of), but you can't do it all well. And if you think you can't afford to hire anyone or to outsource anything, you better take a hard look at every single task you do throughout the day and see which ones are making you money. You need to focus on doing what you do best and on what actually brings in your most revenue. By not spending your precious hours doing what you do best, you are actually losing money. So do what only you can do, and learn to delegate the rest - whether it be to an employee, an independent contractor, a partner, an intern, or maybe just a willing family member. A couple of hats are enough for anyone. While as a business owner you will always have to oversee, focus and do what you do best - and do it well.
5. Smell the roses. Ok, so you've finally stepped off the ledge. You have a vision, and a concrete plan for transforming it into reality. You're taking a risk, but it's a calculated one. You've checked your fear at the door and are boldly prepared to work harder than you've ever worked before in exchange for the chance to reap abundant rewards. You are motivated by the promising future which might be yours, and you are fully aware of the fact that you must oversee everything as the owner. You also realize, however, that you are still human and the number of hours in a day are limited, so you'll need your team. So what is left? Smell the roses. (That's right, another cliche.) When you're in the midst of getting your baby off the ground  it's easy to feel overwhelmed at times, to get lost in the minutia, buried in the work, (yes, it's still work), or to become discouraged from mere exhaustion. At those times, take a moment, in fact take several, to pause, reflect, and remember why you made this choice in the first place. Breathe in the freedom of being able to take that coffee break when you choose, not when it's scheduled, or the freedom to work at night after the kids are in bed so that you might carve some time for yourself in the morning. The point is, you chose this lifestyle for a reason, and while you'll need total dedication to make a go of it, remind yourself to enjoy the perks along the way. Don't burn out before you've reached your goals.
So with all of this in mind, is entrepreneurship for you? Only you can answer that. There are no right or wrong answers. But take it from one gripping that two inch beam with both feet, it's just as hard to go back as it is to move forward, so keep your eyes forward and your feet moving.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Sophia: One "SHINING STAR" in Gina's World

OK, maybe it's shameless bragging, but it's time for this Mom to talk about one of her daily inspirations-- my daughter. I know this doesn't have all that much to do with "FITNESS & FASHION", but this is "GINA'S WORLD" after all, and in my world I can't NOT post about my nearly 13 year old Sophia, who, for those of you who get it, was actually born 30.

Now bear with me cuz this isn't entirely a "Sophia Commercial"-- it's actually on point in many ways. As I watch my daughter mature, I'm impressed by both her resilience as well as her work ethic and perseverance. This determined over achiever can sometimes be a perfectionist - which can be endearingly annoying- but there's a raw "Go Get It" spirit to her which frankly I admire.

I've seen it over and over; she's not afraid to fail, and failure doesn't break her. In fact, it motivates her! And this is the motivational tidbit I wanted to share with you today.

Sophia's my child and in her I see many of the same talents I was blessed with: intellect, agility, theatrical ability. But Soph has what I honestly didn't -- a certain FEARLESSNESS. She auditions or tries out for something, be it cheerleading, student council, or a theatrical part, and when she doesn't make it, she comes back even more determined, rather than hindered. This is no small feat. Even for adults, the confidence shaker of rejection can, if allowed, create lifelong obstacles. I'm sure rejection stings for my daughter too, but she feeds on the sting and lets it propel her forward with new resolve. It doesn't break her. It doesn't even slow her.

This fierceness has paid off, and that's inspirational. Now my soon to be 8th grader will go into the final year of middle school a varsity cheerleader, Secretary of her Junior Honor Society, a skilled dancer, and a singer who is ready to take on American Idol and the world!

Motivational Lesson: You have one life; LIVE IT. Time wasted is never recovered, and it is never tomorrow. It is always NOW. So, Carpe Diem, friends. Now, GO GET IT!

For your listening pleasure: Here's what power sounds like and why the Idol audition age should be lowered to 13! ;-)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

It's YOU versus YOU. It was never about them anyway

It's a fairly typical (though blatantly prejudicial) assumption that bodybuilding is a not a true sport in that there is no competition based on definable and measurable athletic skills, but rather that it is a muscle ridden beauty contest of sorts where a group of obsessed, narcissistic self worshipers gather together to praise themselves and each other and compare bodies. I have, for years, heard these comments in a wide variety of circles: among both the educated and uneducated, old and young, males and females. The criticism might be crude, or reasonably compelling depending on the critic, but the content is virtually the same.

While I have always been active, athletic, and, if not in the gym then in a dance studio, I have pretty much ignored these comments. Still, I never really appreciated the degree to which such false simplifications misrepresent the spirit of bodybuilding and strength training in general. Not until I attended the Jay Cutler Desert Classic recenty at the Palms in Las Vegas.

HBB Fitness and Fashion was proud to bring our Hardbody Bling jewelry and HBB Hot Fit Clothes to the event, and had the privilege of our booth being placed right next to Jay Cutler's booth. Excellent real estate.

Directly behind our booth was a monitor so we could watch the competition while exhibiting. It was while watching some of the competitors on stage that I really had an Aha moment thanks largely to friend and HBB rep, Michelle MacDonald. In a sea of beautiful bodies, it was quite obvious when not so perfect individuals took to the stage, proudly strutting their not so perfect stuff. At one such moment Michelle just said quite nonchalantly, "You never know what people have been through. She might have lost 100 pounds, or may have just beaten cancer. You just don't know. For her, she may look and feel terrific and is just proud to be able to show what she's accomplished." WOW!

What a truly insightful, compassionate and positive perspective! (And this, by the way, is partly why I train with this cool lady and recommend her to you!) But those words just say so much. Not just about bodybuilding, but about the human spirit.

Strength training doesn't just strengthen your body, it pushes your spirit, your determination, your perseverance, and your self discipline. It tests your desire to challenge yourself, to follow through on your goals, and to work through and overcome adversity. It is a contest of YOU vs YOU, to be better than you were the day before, to take yourself to new heights of strength and endurance, and while doing so to stumble upon that Aha moment of your own when you really see what you are made of. Strength training can do for your body what prayer and meditation do for your soul; it can allow you to face your weaknesses head on, work through them, conquer them, and sore to heights unheard of as you work to maximize all of the potential you were born with. It's much more than just trying to look good in a bikini.

As I reflected on this, I thought about how unkind (and  generally wrong) some of the bodybuilding criticism is. Like in any organization, it is not a monolithic subgroup. I'm sure there are the share of shallow egomaniacs, but this is not the majority, and it has not been my experience. As Michelle rightly pointed out, this community is made up of all sorts of people- all with different stories and motivations.

Training at its best is about YOU vs YOU, on a path that is between you and your higher power. It's not about anybody else. And maybe that's why this all reminded me so much of something Mother Teresa of Calcutta said that's worth sharing. So I'll close this entry with her words.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

MEMORIES MATTER! Running for Dad and so many others...

Memories Matter. They make you who you are. They represent your life: your loves, your losses, your accomplishments, your joys, your sorrows, your relationships. How can you think of yourself outside this context? If your mind were wiped clean like an erased slate, who would you be? With no knowledge of who you love, no knowledge of what you know, no knowledge of where you come from, where you are, or where you're going... who are you? Would you even know? And if you didn't, how would that make you feel? Isolated? Afraid? Confused? Lost? Probably all of these. Can you even begin to imagine what it's like to forget not just those around you, but to forget your very self?

Well, this is how those with dementia feel all the time. These beautiful souls with all of their personalities, experieces, loves and opinions are lost not just to those around them, but they are lost to themselves.

Alzheimer's is the 6th leading cause of death currently; these numbers are probably low, however, because so many deaths from Alzheimer's are not recorded as such because there is no autopsy. It is the only cause of death in the top ten causes for which there is no cure, no prevention, and very little treatment. The only cause in the top ten where the number of those affected is GROWING - rapidly- not shrinking, despite medical advances in so many other areas. It is 100% fatal.

Here it is: My grandmother died from Alzheimer's. My father died from Alzheimer's. I do not want to die from Alzheimer's. I do not want my girls to die from Alzheimer's. In fact, I work for a day when nobody will ever again die from Alzheimer's.

On March 8th I will run the Big5K as part of the LA Marathon, and I am running it as a "Memory Walk" for the Alzheimer's Association California Southland chapter. This run starts and ends at Dodger Stadium. This wonderful, and grossly underfunded charity, desperately needs financial support to provide services for affected patients and their families, to raise awareness through education, and to fund research into cures and preventions.

You can make a difference by going to my page and supporting me in the run. Every dollar of your donation is much needed and well used. If you are unable to donate, then lend support by sharing the message and raising awareness. With statistics as they are, in 20 years we will all know someone touched by this disease if we do not change course. 

Awareness starts with just one story. I have one; you may too. If so, I'd like to hear it. If not, I'd encourage you to read mine, and to take action to fight the fight for those who can't.


Support Me in my Run:

Buy My Book: Donald's Story: One Family's Journey Through the Tangled Darkness of Alzheimer's