Stephanie Cansian lives in New Jersey with her husband, Kevin, and their dog, Remus. When she is not writing for clients, Medium, or her own joy, you can find her on IG encouraging people to do burpees with her, whittling down her TBR Pile, or drinking some really good coffee.
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If you are a student, or live with a student, the beginning of September is a special time. It's a time of preparation and a second fresh start: a new school year. New pens, notebooks, binders, planners, and a whole slew of apps and promises to make this school term better then the last one.
People really start to appreciate and embrace their creature comforts. Sweaters come out, tea drinkers and coffee drinkers commingle over steaming cups (even if it's still 85 degrees outside). It's a time of camaraderie- everyone seems to be facing something new together.
If you've been enjoying your summer, and thinking about starting your own business, this is a great time. You'll be right there along with other nervous students of the world who are about try something new. Like the brand new stack of brilliantly witty notebooks you just bought, you are a blank slate.
So, intrepid explorers, take note! Much like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, here is the Say It Simply Summer Reading List:
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero
The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
On Writing by Stephen King
Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Clicking on the links above will allow you to purchase any of those books through Amazon with part of the proceeds going to benefit the Red Cross. We highly recommend dusting off the old Kindle (or getting a new Kindle Paperwhite) and reading at least a chapter every morning to get your day started.
Looking for something a little more thought provoking to wake up with? Subscribe to our own Lauren Strenger's newsletter, Chapel Perilous... original writing about Philadelphia living in your Inbox every Thursday. Reading her personal stories is one of the best parts of my week.
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Because I have a 45 minute commute, I've been listening to a lot of audiobooks. I'm currently listening to "You Are A Badass" by Jen Sincero, at the recommendation of a friend of mine who is also running her own business.
About six chapters in, I heard something that made me want to pull my car over and write it down. She talks about making incremental changes and going for that first "right-feeling step”.
You have probably heard the quote “If you want something you've never had, you must be willing to do something you've never done.” It’s logical. It’s inspiring. But some people- and I count myself among those people- need a small step rather then a giant leap. We are the ones who like to step into the pool instead of diving in to the deep end. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean that our hearts aren’t in it… we’re just taking in the water temperature, the weather, and the ratio of bathing suit to body.
Say It Simply started with a “right feeling step”. I had a number of friends ask me for help re-working their grant proposals, school assignments, and business letters. It occurred to me that these people needed help connecting themselves, their dreams, and their plans to a wider world. So, in a series of right-feeling steps, I started offering them my services. Then I started taking payment for my work. Then I convinced Lauren and Marietta that it was a good idea to join me and provide a higher level of marketing services. So far, our entire eight month story has been a series of right-feeling steps.
Think about your current “risky” situation. Did you dive in and now need help navigating the pool? Are you standing in the shallow end and need a hand going down the steps? Or are you still inside picking out your suit? What first “right-feeling step” could you take to get you in the direction you want to go? (We can help with that.)
By August 2017, Say It Simply is going to have more clients then we can balance with our full time jobs. That giant leap into is coming, and we are preparing for it. But for now, the water’s feeling pretty good on our toes.
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Here is a joke that I love to tell:
A pious man prays every day to win the lottery. With the wealth he could do so much good in the world.
After years and decades, the man, now old and stooped, finally says “Everyday I pray to you so that I may win the lottery! My entire life I never asked for anything else. I am at the end of the my days, and now I want an answer; why have I never won?”
And with that, a loud voice booms down from the heavens and says, “Meet me halfway, and buy a ticket!”
Opportunity comes to those who facilitate; those who take small risks.
I work a day job, and every workday I spend my lunch break at a local Starbucks.
One day I just happened to sit down across from two lovely ladies who are in the same business that I am. We start talking, exchange contact information, and now we have the opportunity to help each other expand our respective customer bases.
I was in the right place at the right time, but it was a place I go to everyday. I pay for a cookie or a coffee, I sit down, and I work.
I sat down across from the right people, but I look for people who are working on their computers, because they will understand why I am sitting near them. Outlet camaraderie does exist.
We started talking because I talk to everyone. If I hear a conversation on a subject that I am familiar with then I am not shy of making myself known. This is usually the hardest obstacle for people… you do not want to be rude, maybe these older women are more professional and you will wind up sounding bad, and any number of other excuses not to talk to people.
The women were talking about their social media business, and I started talking about what we do at Say It Simply. As it turns out, they were writing a book for my age demographic, and my insight was very valuable to them.
By making all these seemingly unconnected behaviors a normal part of my routine, I can facilitate opportunities. By taking a small risk, I can reap a small reward; a new connection, a business introduction, or just a change to further increase my knowledge of my field.
Are you looking for opportunities? Or are you waiting for them to come to you?
If you want to win the lottery, you have to buy a ticket.
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I am on a one hour lunch break from my 9-5, and I find myself in a Starbucks writing and doing a bit of work for our clients... this whole mobile office thing is really pretty great.
These last few weeks I have found myself thinking about my current job. It's a 9-5, Monday through Friday, in an office. I sit in a chair at a computer and help people make money. It's not a great job, but it's something that I can do easily and well, and it's paying me a living wage.
Before this job, I worked in various retail stores for over 13 years. Something that would always come up was how young we all looked. Even when I hit 30 I had customers asking me if I was graduating college that year. When I mentioned that I had my master's degree it was, to borrow a phrase, "like a paradigm shifting without a clutch."
"But you look so young!" was the inevitable follow up.
"Retail keeps you young!" was my inevitable reply.
Does it though? Does retail keep you young? Or do people just associate retail jobs with youth and inexperience?
I think it's both.
Hear me out: it's true that while you need some amazing interpersonal relations skills and a good attitude to work in a retail environment, in the actual realm of "hard skills" you really do not need much. And when you are young and need money, it's relatively easy to obtain a customer service job, provided you have the aforementioned attributes.
However, once you are "in" you are expected to maintain; and that requires a phenomenal amount of effort.
If you look at all the self help speakers: Zig Ziglar, Dale Carnegie, Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy, and Tony Robbins (to name a few), they all started off as salesmen. They built their careers on being able to relate to people, sell them things, and turn the lessons they learned into principles with which you can improve your life.
Being in retail, you are in constant motion. Whether it's circling a store, putting away inventory, or simply approaching every person, you are always on your feet and moving.
You are expected to constantly interact with complete strangers. You never know if the next person you meet will be a great customer eager to do business again, or someone who will scream at you because you could not satisfy their demands. When you are kept in this constant state of "what is the next hour going to bring" it keeps your brain and body active. Like foxes in the forrest, you are kept lean and aware at all times. It's great for keeping you active (and therefore young), but not for developing a financially stable future.
While all three of us are working jobs to pay the bills, we all want a career which will keep
us active, engaged, and independent. And when you grow a business out of this passion; constantly networking with strangers and creating amazing content to be proud of in the comfort of your own space...
(Or your Starbucks, wherever your office happens to land you.)
...well, it's all you could hope for in a job, career, or a purposeful life.
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I built this business in one day.