Self-Care Is Not An Indulgence.

It’s A Discipline.

Compassion and self care is something I’ve been so mindful of lately. We love our families, our pets, our friends and so many other things in life but how often do we love ourselves? The way self-care is portrayed today is completely and utterly backward.

First, self-care as a concept is almost exclusively aimed at women because, after all, women are busy caring of everyone. Unfortunately there is always the underlying suggestion that while women should be taking care of themselves, it doesn’t absolve them from taking care of everyone else.

Secondly, self-care is often characterized as an indulgence. This means both that the practice of self-care is something that is only occasionally allowed and that it should feel like an indulgence.

Self-care is not an indulgence. Self-care is a discipline. It requires tough-mindedness, a deep and personal understanding of your priorities, and a respect for both yourself and the people with whom you choose to spend your life.

If we are being honest, self-care is actually kind of boring. Self-care is a actually a discipline—it takes discipline to continually make “good for you” as opposed to doing what feels good right here, right now. It’s takes discipline to refuse to take on the responsibility for other people’s emotional well-being—and, it takes discipline to take full and complete responsibility for your own well-being.

Samples of self care include:

  • Turning off the TV instead of watching another episode of “The Crown” because the alarm is going off at 5am so you can get to the gym.
  • Declining the second drink at the office holiday party. It might even be declining the first drink.
  • Saying “no” to things you don’t want to do even if it causes someone to be angry with you.
  • Maintaining financial independence.
  • Doing work that matters.
  • Letting others manage their own affairs and take care of themselves.

Think about the oxygen mask on a plane. In case of emergency, you are instructed to put yours on first—before helping family and fellow passengers—so you can better care for others. Life works the same way; when we exercise self-compassion, love, and care, we show up bigger and brighter for ourselves and for others. Self-care is not something that’s done once in awhile when the world gets crazy. It’s what should be done every day, every week, month in and month out. It’s taking care of oneself in a way that doesn’t require “indulging” in order to restore balance. It’s a commitment to stay healthy and balanced as a regular practice.

Time is often cited as an issue for lack of self-care, but self-care and me time can be scheduled it in, just like a meeting, lunch with a friend, or a doctor appointment. Ironically, most people find that when they truly care for themselves—exercising all the discipline that it requires—they are finding they are in a much stronger place to give to those around them. They note they are a fully engaged colleague, a more grateful spouse, and happier parents. Those who take care of themselves find they have the energy to take care of others joyfully because caregiving doesn’t come at their own expense.

Self-compassion is something we all need to do. It’s easy to get wrapped up in self-limiting beliefs and fears—those who take care of themselves also have the energy to work with meaning and purpose toward a worthy goal. Which means they are also the people most likely to make the world a better place for all of us

What forms of self-care do you enjoy?

Teachers deserve better pay

Did you know that 60% of teachers cannot survive on their salary!

It’s not that U.S. teachers are underpaid; the median income for the country’s 1 million high-school teachers, for example, is more than 50 percent higher than that of the general population. But relative to peers with similar levels of education, teachers are falling behind. In 1994, public-school teachers made only 2 percent less than college graduates in other fields; by 2015, the gap was 17 percent.

 In more than half of the country, after adjusting for inflation, average teacher salaries have declined since the start of the century. In West Virginia, where pay has dropped by 8.9 percent since 2000, teachers went on strike in late February, forcing lawmakers to pass a 5 percent pay increase for the next school year. Teachers’ unions in Arizona, Oklahoma and Kentucky plan similar walkouts if their demands aren’t met.

Many have had to take 2nd jobs just to survive—this is true of many respectable careers that just cannot provide for a family these days without the help of a 2nd or 3rd income. Teachers shouldn’t have to work second and third jobs to make ends meet, as many say they do, even in states with low costs of living.

Have you considered seeking that additional job? Rather than have to add many more hours to your already stretched day, or change careers, there is an answer to helping supplement your family/personal income by helping others to be healthier from the comfort of your own home. One that I and many others are enjoying every day!  Sometimes it is just a matter of educating the educator!

Helping Others Helps You

The fastest (and easiest) way to achieve your own goals is by helping others reach theirs. You’ve heard it said since you were a child, “it is better to give than to receive”. The article below from Forbes Magazine points that out in some detail.

Whether it is sharing the knowledge of how the products your company offers can help them or listening (instead of talking) in order to discover what is important to them or sharing the resources of a website that you subscribe to that can assist them in their business, these things all constitute helping them achieve their own goals.

You can also help others by making them aware of opportunities that they may not have considered. Giving them valuable feedback about your observations of their own activities, in a non-critical way can improve their effectiveness. Show them how advocating for their own company’s brand, in a whole-hearted way, can improve their own posture and that of their company, as well.

Don’t be reluctant to share your own networking connections. They may be able to nurture some new connections. And offer and give freely of your time, whenever you can. Remember, also, to recognize their achievements in a genuine way. Finally, keep your attention out for a particular “gift” (not expensive) that would be meaningful to them in a personal way.

Helping others can be inconvenient at times. It takes time and requires subordinating your own goals in the short-run. In the long run, it will pay significant dividends as you strive for your own goals. Never, never be reluctant to help, you will gain and you will feel better about yourself and that AWAYS makes YOU better.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnhall/2013/05/26/10-ways-to-help-others-that-will-lead-you-to-success/#3c9e72ac2bce

Success Factors your home-based business needs to succeed and grow

Do you want to create additional income?  You’re probably well aware that there are others like yourself who are seeking the same thing.  There are so many options available, but basically only four different kinds of business models, each having its own set of pros and cons. 
 
Conventional employers offer commissions or wages and small private businesses typically are all based on exchanging your time for ‘transactional’ revenue.  Neither of those allows much of a chance for you to ‘leverage’ or ‘scale’ your business. 
 
Franchise ownership typically requires substantial cash investments and expertise that most people do not have. 
 
That leaves a host of business opportunities that are very popular offering independent status as a ‘representative’ or ‘agent’ under the broad category of ‘marketing’ and requiring some degree of team building and leadership.

There are many questionable and unrealistic opportunities being pitched these days.  One of your first priorities should be to work with a team that has carefully investigated many of the various business models that are out there.  You should have a clear ‘roadmap’ to find and work with a successful business that brings proven value to the marketplace, fits one of your areas of interest and has developed a proven program for on-the-job training so you can earn income while you learn the strategies for succeeding at your business.

You’ll need to learn how to increase the number of people who say yes to becoming a life-long customer and/or decide to work with you as a business partner. That means you also need to find the ingredients necessary to have a sustainable product line that will generate passive income for a life-long business. Then there’s the most important question: What role does value play in a product line with a business attached to it and how do you spot it?

When it’s appropriate to talk with a business person about the search that many people are doing right now to find a reliable business opportunity, they will appreciate having this list of Success Factors. The logical question to ask next, after a thoughtful review of these 12 points, is my question at the end.

1. Company track record.  How long has the company been in business? What are the company’s annual sales statistics each year since they began their business? Does the company print average income statistics for business builders? It should and you should ask for them. Proof of long term sales, success and growth is critical in choosing any business.

2. Financially sound. Does the company have outstanding debt? Joining a company that is debt free is highly recommend to lessen any risk.

3. Strong management team. What are the backgrounds and credentials of the management team? Look to join a company run with integrity and strong leadership.

4. Unique consumable products. Are the company’s products products that people actually need, use, run out of and repurchase month after month? Do the products have any trademarks or patents allowing for exclusive rights (meaning no other company can copy them)? If the products are not consumable, meaning something that a person would only buy once, then that is a business that will not be viable long term. If the products are consumable but not necessarily a genuine need, that will reduce your chance for long term success. Products that are truly needed and consumed monthly make for a solid business model.

5. Wide market appeal. Are the products something everyone needs and uses? If the products are specific for a certain gender, age group or body size for example, you reduce your market potential.  It’s not something for everyone.  If you choose a narrow niche product, you must ask yourself if you are comfortable excluding customers that are not attracted to that niche.

6. Competitive prices. Are the products comparable in price or less expensive than the competition? If they are too expensive, this is not a business that will produce ongoing great results.  What will you do when you find competitors with equally high quality products that are reputably offered for a lot less cost?  You may be loyal out of sheer stubbornness but your customers will run to the competitors.

7. High customer reorder rate. Does the company share its reorder rate? This means one thing. How many customers that purchased from the company last month, reorder again the following month? If the re-order rate is low, the business will not be viable as new customers simply replace your old customers producing no real growth or a secure, residual income. Know that it will be difficult to find this information from most companies directly.  Don’t make a decision until you know this important piece of the business model you are considering joining.

8. Low initial investment. If the cost to join or start your business is too high it makes for more risk and difficulty in attracting customers and business partners.  If a start up fee is high and a ‘customer acquisition bonus’ is also high, beware of what might be a “Ponzi scheme.”  Many so-called ‘ground-floor opportunities’ have attracted many hopeful participants, only to tragically end in the loss of much time and money for the vast majority of eager business partners.

9. Low monthly requirement. If there is a high monthly requirement, customers and business builders may end up storing an inventory of products they do not need. If there is a low monthly product purchase requirement, then customers are getting what they need for personal use each month.  From a business standpoint, you know customers are purchasing each month.  That creates the freedom of true residual income.

10. Rewards for leadership development. Does the company reward you for helping others in your business succeed? If there is any way the company could remove business building partners from your business because of their success, be very careful about joining. There should never be potential for you to lose great partners.  Also, be sure that you receive a reward for the business created by all of the customers that you personally bring to the company.  There are many companies that cleverly take away productive customers and business partners from hard working people just like you.

11. Risk-free – Is everything 100% guaranteed? If not, could you seriously advise someone to join you?  Be sure the guarantee is long enough to adequately test-drive the product. Check to see how the company handles returns and refunds. You will be so much more satisfied with your company when you can confidently tell your prospective customers that you know from personal experience about their excellent customer service and refund policy.

12. Anyone can be successful.Is the business plan set up for anyone to be successful at any time? If it’s a company that says Ground floor opportunity, or Get in Now, be wary. If only the people who join at the beginning can be successful, then eventually people will get hurt.

The only real question after considering this list is this:
“which one of these factors would you take off the list if you were going to seriously consider working with the company?”
If anyone seeing this list knows someone they care about is considering working with a company as an independent representative, they might be wise to consider: “how does that company measure up?”  If we are honest with ourselves, nothing can match the conviction of ‘certainty’ that is backed up by verifiable data and experience.  All the above points are relevant particularly to the one who has a long term commitment in mind.  That’s why we should be just as eager to ‘prove all things’ in this part of life as we should be in any other.

If you are serious about researching further on this topic in preparation for making a decision about where to invest your valuable time, be sure to contact me at barbara@hayseedscreative.com or visit   for more information.

Fake Amazon reviews draw fraud charges in groundbreaking FTC case

A supplement company paid a third-party website to write misleading reviews about a weight-loss drug

The US Federal Trade Commission has successfully brought the first ever case against using fraudulent, paid Amazon reviews to falsely advertise an online product, the agency announced Tuesday evening. The company in question, named Cure Encapsulations, Inc. and owned by Naftula Jacobowitz, paid a third-party website to write five-star Amazon reviews for a weight-loss supplement called garcinia cambogia. The plant, native to Indonesia, is widely mischaracterized as contributing to weight loss, but is in fact known to cause acute liver failure.

Cure Encapsulations paid a website called amazonverifiedreviews.com to keep the product’s Amazon rating above 4.3 out of 5 stars, with reviews stating that the supplement worked as a “powerful appetite suppressant” and “literally blocks fat from forming.” The FTC found those claims to be false and unsubstantiated.

“People rely on reviews when they’re shopping online,” Andrew Smith, the FTC’s director of consumer protection, said in a statement. “When a company buys fake reviews to inflate its Amazon ratings, it hurts both shoppers and companies that play by the rules.” The FTC first filed its complaint on February 19th, and reached a settlement in just under a WEEK.

As part of the settlement, Cure Encapsulations has agreed to never again make a “weight-loss, appetite-suppression, fat-blocking, or disease-treatment claims for any dietary supplement, food, or drug” unless the company has “competent and reliable scientific evidence in the form of human clinical testing” to support its claims. The settlement also prohibits the company from misrepresenting endorsements, including whether a review or testimonial is from a real customer who purchased the product.

Cure Encapsulations must now inform Amazon that it paid for reviews, itself a violation of Amazon’s rules around promotional content, and must also notify all customers who purchased the weight-loss supplement. To keep the company in line, the FTC is imposing a $12.8 million fine, with only $50,000 due today and the remainder used as a way to enforce the judgement and in the event Cure Encapsulations misrepresents how much money it has on hand.

Amazon, in a statement given to The Verge, said its pleased the FTC is taking action. “We welcome the FTC’s work in this area. Amazon invests significant resources to protect the integrity of reviews in our store because we know customers value the insights and experiences shared by fellow shoppers,” a company spokesperson said. “Even one inauthentic review is one too many. We have clear participation guidelines for both reviewers and selling partners and we suspend, ban, and take legal action on those who violate our policies.”

Fake Amazon reviews have been known as a problem for years, but regulators have shown little interest in cracking down on the practice until this recent suit. That’s pushed Amazon to go after the review sellers themselves, including filing individual lawsuits against sellers on freelance job sites like Fiverr. Yet the FTC’s latest action sets a firm precedent that the agency is willing to go after companies that abuse online markets and platforms like this. It’s not clear whether the agency has the resources to curb the behavior behind some of the biggest bad actors on sites like Amazon, but the settlement sends a message that companies like this can’t rely on the trusted veneer of these marketplaces to excuse false advertising.

The FTC has shown a growing interest in abusive practices in the tech industry in recent months, far beyond the low-level scams of fake Amazon reviewers. Earlier today, the FTC announced it would be forming a task force with 17 staff attorneys to monitor and take action against anti-competitive behavior in US technology markets. The task force appears focused on the increasingly centralized power of a few Silicon Valley giants like Google and Facebook.


Thinking About the Freedom of a Home Based Business?

THINK, THEN DO.
The recent demise of several companies that used network marketing (or a facsimile) to sell their products to consumers, led me to reflect on the reasons that these, and many other companies, like them, fail.

Having been associated with a Consumer Direct Marketing business (a successful one) myself for more than 10 years makes me, at least somewhat, qualified to share some of my observations. I became an independent marketing executive with my company after being introduced by my enroller to the 12 success factors that portend a successful company and personal career with that company. My company possessed them all, so I was encouraged.

But in reflecting on the companies that have failed in the past, both long ago and recently, I came to a conclusion that, if there were success factors, there must be failure factors, as well. Some of these are simply reciprocals of the success factors, which would make it easy. As you and I both know, nothing comes easy, so I’m sharing a few of “think out loud” thoughts here. 

First, if the company you are considering is a pyramid business model—where only a few early “fortunates” will prosper—it is, first of all, illegal and finally, destined to fail, just because of the structure. It’s not the shape, because most direct marketing businesses have the “shape” of a pyramid. The downfall of the pyramid model is that the preponderance of compensation is not based on product sales, but on signing up others at a significant fee or large unsold product commitments. Don’t go there.

Another failure factor: a company that offers one or two products (even if size and applications vary). A company with a large variety of products and product categories that embrace duplicated, family spending; budget allocations that are already being made; offer an opportunity to expand your approach market exponentially, and your potential for success, greatly. However, a wide variety of products aren’t enough—the products must be higher in quality or unique in valuable ways and they MUST be competitively priced with their alternatives. Unique, superior, competitively priced products are what make the Consumer Direct Marketing model work.

A start-up company is sometimes a good bet in the technology/software business, but is almost never a good bet when it comes to consumer goods. A company with no history is using YOU to test every idea. Unless you enjoy being a lab rat, avoid this environment.

Another factor to examine is the company’s balance sheet (you will have to source that for yourself since that likely will not be shared).
Next, is the company you are considering partnering with carrying bundles of unexplainable debt? If so, their future may be in doubt, and therefore, so is yours.

So a definite failure factor is unfunded spending in a business, as it is in our personal lives.

I’m happy to say the company I represent has absolutely no debt—as in zero—even in capital investments. So a definite “failure factor” is unfunded spending in a business, as it is in our personal lives.

Now let’s talk about the effort you invest in creating a consumer, it is considerable, particularly if you do a more than adequate job explaining your products and your business. If the association you are considering allows you to continue benefiting from those efforts in the form of continuing residual income, those efforts are (or eventually will be) worth it. But, there are many direct marketing models that provide breakaways, which simply means the money your consumer is still spending, is not enriching you any longer. Call me crazy, but that’s not a good deal, and certainly, qualifies as a failure factor.

So as you choose a business model to represent, use the above-mentioned success factors as a benchmark. For my choice, I was able to avoid all of the failure factors. The fact is that my choice was so sound that the only failure factor I had to overcome was myself!
Yep, I was the only variable. Was I going to try this business or was I going to do this business? In the direct marketing arena, once you have sorted the successes from the failures, it always comes down to that choice…TRY or DO. I am not going to attempt to influence your ultimate choice, but when you have made yours, commit yourself to the do and not the try or don’t make the choice at all.

Stay where you are, it may work out. Really… REALLY?

Luck of the Irish…or is it?

I know a number of people who seem to have more than their fair share of good luck. Winning laptops, cars and innumerable trips, auction gift baskets, 50/50s, you name it, they seem to be lucky more than others.

Are they born under a lucky star and the rest of us simply not?
Do the gods smile on only a few favorites?
No. According to science, we make our own luck.

The matter was studied by psychologist Richard Wiseman, professor in the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. In his book The Luck Factor: Changing Your Luck, Changing Your Life Wiseman explains what makes some people lucky and others not. Just so you know, it’s not the good fairy, or providence.

We have the power to bring good luck into our own lives
After years of intensive interviews, experiments and a scientific investigation with more than 400 volunteers, Wiseman concluded that we make our own luck. He also discovered the underlying principles of luck and how we can apply it to our lives so we can all experience more good fortune in our lives.

He placed advertisements to find people who consider themselves exceptionally lucky or unlucky. He then analyzed their minds and their lives through interviews, their diaries, questionnaires, intelligence tests and laboratory experiments to find out what distinguishes the lucky from the unfortunate. His findings revealed that luck is not a magical ability or the result of random chance. Nor are people born lucky or unlucky.

“Instead, although lucky and unlucky people have almost no insight into the real causes of their good and bad luck, their thoughts and behavior are responsible for much of their fortune,” says Wiseman.

His research revealed that lucky people generate their own good fortune via four basic principles:

  1. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities.
  2. They make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition.
  3. They create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations.
  4. They adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.

His groundbreaking work puts good fortune in our hands if we are prepared to pay attention to these four principles.

Lucky people expose themselves to chance opportunities
They are not afraid to meet new people. Because they meet new people they expose themselves to more opportunities. Lucky people tend to be extroverted and enjoy connecting and relating to other people. In social situations they don’t stick to the people they know. They are keen to speak to anyone.

Wiseman relates the case of one volunteer who decided he must change his habit of always speaking to the same people at social events. So he chose a color before the event and made up his mind that he would only speak to people wearing that color!

Lucky people see opportunities that others might miss

Wiseman conducted a fun and simple experiment to uncover this quality in lucky people. He asked volunteers to flip through a newspaper to find out how many photographs it contained. That was that, just a simple, boring counting exercise that ostensibly had nothing to do with luck.The group of unlucky people took about two minutes to count all the photographs; the lucky people took just two seconds.

Why was that?

“Because the second page of the newspaper contained the message: “Stop counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” This message took up half of the page and was written in type that was over two inches high. It was staring everyone straight in the face, but the unlucky people tended to miss it and the lucky people tended to spot it,” says Wiseman.

It gets more unbelievable. Just for fun, a second large message was placed halfway through the newspaper. This one announced: “Stop counting, tell the experimenter you have seen this and win $250.” Again, the unlucky people missed the opportunity because they were still too busy looking for photographs.

Lucky people practice “counterfactual thinking”

Counterfactual thinking is thinking that goes against the facts. Psychologists use it to refer to our ability to imagine what might have happened, rather than what actually did happen, as “counterfactual.” In many a case, when it concerns lucky people, it means that in the face of something bad happening, lucky people interpret the event as lucky.

In one of Wiseman’s experiments, he presented volunteers with some unlucky scenarios and looked at how they reacted.
One such scenario was to imagine being shot in a bank robbery.

How would lucky or unlucky people interpret such an event?

“Unlucky people tended to say that this would be enormously unlucky and it would be just their bad luck to be in the bank during the robbery. In contrast, lucky people viewed the scenario as being far luckier, and often spontaneously commented on how the situation could have been far worse. As one lucky participant commented, “It’s lucky because you could have been shot in the head – also, you could sell your story to the newspapers and make some money.”

It all goes back to attitude and your perception. It’s all based on what you perceive and believe.

So how lucky are you?