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VIRGIN HANDBOOK

His radiant smile attracts one’s gaze as the wind flutters through his hair. His British accent draws one in rendering people far less willing to resist. His irresistible confidence, magnetic energy and passion for everything he touches keeps us unable to avert our gaze! In a minute, I would turn myself completely over to him. I want to live inside his mind and see things through his eyes.  Richard Branson fearlessly leads the Virgin Empire with 400 company conquests worldwide. His experience and philosophy makes people yearn to be Virgin.

From Richard’s mouth to your heart, here’s how he stays on top:

BreakRecords

1.    Don’t be afraid to try anything at least once
Live life to its fullest – do what is fun! Test the boundaries so long as you won’t be embarrassed or imprisoned. Forge new paths where previously none existed! Don’t be afraid to take to the air!  Set your eyes on the most apparently impossible challenges then you’ll be forced

Here is how Branson waterskiis

Here is how Branson water skiis

2.    Let others watch: Restricting someone excites them more!
When people tell you something isn’t possible, become more enthusiastic and determined to show them they’re wrong.  Don’t let failure dissuade you: Identify the flaw, find a solution, and try again… and again.

The most attractive point - an open mind!

3.    It’s what’s inside that matters
Trust your gut.  Consider your customer’s first time – planning how to make a good first impression and keep them coming back for more could be far better than complicated, impersonal analysis.

Don't be afraid to redefine what's possible!

WTF: Wave to Fishies
Don’t be afraid to redefine what’s doable!

4.    Know who’s at your backside
Businesses are like busses, there’s always another one coming. Take the competition seriously (but not yourself).  If someone isn’t sure how to do it – or not doing it well – take control, make him or her over as your new pet project

ValueofRisk

5.    Don’t pay money for love
Follow your passion in a way that serves the world and you. If it’s just about the money, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Don’t separate work and play – it’s all living. Don’t do anything with the feeling that one must do it – enjoy every minute!

As a child, someone labeled Branson as a future prisoner or millionaire. Branson blew past both predictions and never looked back.

“Screw it, let’s do it!”

Bucket List: Go to Necker Island!  Bonus: When Richard is hanging out!

Bucket List: Go to Necker Island!
Bonus: When Richard is hanging out!

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SWEETER THE SECOND TIME AROUND

WTF: Wave Two Fingers!

Are things sweeter the second time around?  Here are two arguments with two sides and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

MEN
Girl meets boy. Girl loves boy. Boy breaks up with girl. Girl gets over boy. Boy comes crawling back to girl when they’re both home for the summer…  In my case, it didn’t fly.  Now, Girl is great friends with Boy. Then, there was no chance of the romance reaching the same marks so awkwardness ensued.  The reasons we weren’t right still weren’t right.   I’ve known people who married, divorced, then were so friendly and fun they remarried, remembered why they divorced, only to do it again.  Yet, I’ve also had friends who dated someone in high school, their lives went in two different directions until years later their paths cross again when the timing was golden!

JOBS
Girl gets job. Girl loves job. Job’s corporation closes company. In a pre-emptive strike, Girl leaves job.  Now temping, Girl accepts assignment at barely-standing old job to see friends.  Again, with no chance of the job respect to ever reach the same marks, awkwardness ensued. Yet, I’ve had friends who leap from their job to another company then pinball back into first in a higher position within carefully calculated timeframes to maintain seniority and retirement.

THINGS I KNOW ARE SWEETER THE SECOND TIME

Children – While I’d heard 1 + 1 (kids) equals 11 times the work, not 2, the payoff of having two amusing offspring amazing the heck out of me was 11 times as rewarding!

Marathons – At my 2nd mile 25, instead of cursing the course creators for their never-ending finish line, I remember a distinctly jubilant moment as I ran the last 1.2 miles!

Blog Awards – While it’s an honor to be nominated, to be nominated twice is superb!  I thank Caitlin at What She Writes for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award – again!

So looooong overdue! Thank you Caitlin!
I’m working on my crazy questions but couldn’t put this off any longer!

I get a kick out of knowing people keep reading and it means a lot that they respond!  I love that people in my blogosphere share similar or creative thoughts so check out Caitlin’s blog if you like mine.

So, pipe in! I could use a second opinion!

BLOGGING PROFESSIONALS: START LOCAL, THINK GLOBAL!

My name is Sarah and I am a blogger! I no longer have to hide my dirty habit!

I couldn't have said it better myself!

After celebrating my 100th day blogging by attending a blogging seminar I am validated and energized that one can follow many realistic paths to various careers that didn’t exist 5 years ago or even 5 days ago!

One encouraging gem shared was to know your skill set, know what you can do for a company, then convince them you are the person to do it! A whole generation of hiring managers exist that get the willies from the words “online presence.” They pray that you will come along to direct the effort. As Oprah says, Preparation + Opportunity = Success! Once inside, keep telling people what you love to do and customize your job into something that tickles your fancy.

This theme kept coming up. The seminar’s stellar cross-section of blog founders, web content managers and editors agreed that their start came from researching then sharing information in areas they were passionate about. The ultimate expression of their affection was to write about them.

Even if creating your own money-earning blog, they had realistic advice that the job can be flexible, yet under grueling deadlines. Instant feedback becomes a blessing and a curse, but it adds to the view bottom line! Keep chipping away towards your goal. I love their mantra: Start local, Think global! Rather than share specific lessons, look for networking groups or seminars in your area, it’s worth it! Don’t have any? Build a support group and bloggers will come!

I’ve saved the best for last… 

I have been humbled by my blogging journey thus far. The support from my 82 and growing friends joining me as I wander motivates me. Your comments inspire and help me improve – so keep them coming!! I love checking as many of your blogs as possible, and vow to do more as my learning curve flattens out. I’ve passed 4,800 views and even received a few much-appreciated nominations for awards – I vow to catch up on the quizzes this month. I hope to keep improving and expanding the site so we never run out of shared adventures!

THANKS!

NO DUMB LUCK, NO FIRST-TIMER’S LUCK, NO SUCH LUCK!

What's your good luck charm?

I’m with Oprah, if you come prepared when opportunity knocks, your dreams come true. In college, although working toward a major, I rarely pursued relationships with my professors. Now, more than ever, workplace successes depend on whom you know so networking counts. Some advice:

1) Find mentors – I regularly learn from every interaction. If you know someone whose career path involved your dream job, humbly ask for a research interview to get current advice for training, industry insider information and even important contacts. Don’t “mildly insist” that your mentor meet with you – its a fine line between determination and arrogance. If they only offer an email, take it – the first step is the hardest, but it could lead to other things.

2) Be courteous – Anyone at any level could be the person to give you the spot on your mentor’s radar and hopefully on his calendar. Depending on who they are, they may be asked to share their opinion of you. Don’t take anyone for granted.

3) Be clear – Clarify your interests so the mentor gets a better feel for what information you desire, your current knowledge and how best to help. Don’t expect them to read your mind. You wouldn’t want to waste the opportunity. Come with specific questions.

4) Follow through – Confirm appointments, provide an agenda, know where you’re visiting. Your mentor took time out of their busy day to graciously meet with you, please be respectful of their time. Don’t hit the Snooze button. When this reminder appears on your calendar, do not reschedule it for later. Assume your chance to pose your questions will only come around once.

5) CALL! – In the unique situation where you have to miss or reschedule an appointment – Tell them in advance! Don’t make them track you down.

This advice is common sense, but people forget significant steps! You’ll learn how small your industry is and how many degrees of separation are between you, your mentor and Kevin Bacon when you’ve left a positive or negative vibe with your mentor. Start your career path off on the right foot and arise to each challenge and play on weekends while relaxing after landing your dream job!

FCW: BE TACTFUL, DO NOT OVERLOOK YOUR OWN OPPORTUNITIES

Part of my growth involves remaining open enough while wandering to see the signs that the universe broadcasts. The message comes from people, whether friends, work-study students, or the Almighty O herself. Perhaps they come from social media status updates. Today’s wisdom presented itself in the oldest form of messaging with limited characters – fortune cookies! I don’t consider the fortune valid unless I’ve eaten half the cookie, otherwise, I am just cracking open cookies looking for fortunes to support my agenda.

Fortune Cookie Wisdom!

The cookie advised: “Be tactful, do not overlook your own opportunities” [in bed]. Do you still play that game?! Since the odds of those opportunities presenting themselves today seemed slim-to-none, I asked WWOD? while focusing on the message. The obvious place to locate opportunities was in my new, albeit temporary, job. After two weeks, I remain blissfully in the honeymoon stage not sensing any craziness. The only time I feel unsettled centers on contemplating this job’s fit into my career path. The exhilarating excitement of a new adventure mixed with the devil-may-care short-timer attitude creates bold creativity for facing challenges. To function well, even if short-term, one must know the processes, histories, and root oneself in the establishment.

First, I must be tactful: treat people well with respect and manners (Duh!) and don’t get sidelined by drama. Then, before I “don’t overlook my own opportunities,” I must identify them.  I know that I love brainstorming ideas and but don’t have the [insert one: patience/attention/balls] to carry them out before the next idea comes. Perhaps, it’s because I lack formal method training and not being young enough to allow a steeper learning curve with trial-and-error, I’m afraid to waste time guessing. I know that there are no guarantees. Miss O wisely points out that luck results from preparation intersecting opportunity.

So from my vantage point, I see experts who teach and mentor. Perhaps I’m backing myself into another position where I will, again, realize that I was meant to be here all along. This time, I’ll look over my shoulder to plot the journey some and enjoy the view. After backing myself up and positioning myself, I’ll launch forward in the direction meant for me.

Check all your mirrors to make sure you don't miss something spectacular!

MUSIC SOOTHES THE SAVAGE BEAST

I’m an all or nothing gal. I used to think it was a Gemini thing, then an oldest child thing, an Asian thing, supermom thing, now I know it’s a stubborn thing that needs to be obliterated – all or nothing! I feel the compulsion to cram as much as possible into the day.

When it's too slow, I swear time moves backwards.

My single-mom exercise plan, training for marathons, crammed in as many miles in one day as my sister did in a week. Training with philanthropic teams meant I socialized, gave back and trained at once – sucker for synergy every time! After training for a half-ironman triathlon, I haven’t resumed training regularly again simply because I know I should, would love to, or go mental without it. I prefer jobs where I’m grand central station in a busy work environment to slow, quiet days. Fueled by Stellarbucks, I run as hard as I can til all that’s left to give is nothing. My rationale rationalizes that I’m cramming two parents into one so if I’m taking time away from family, then whatever I’m doing better be big or it wasn’t worth it.

Of course, this mentality commandeered my blogging too. It wasn’t enough to write 365 words a day, I started a blogging periodical collection, spent free time ignoring my book club, instead reading other blogs learning more complicated tricks to drive traffic to my blog, as well as juicy tips of the trade. Tonight I focused on one simple tip to assist me with writing – MUSIC!

Some musicians are more distracting than others...

My system to write at night, about a situation I wandered through that day, got somewhat sluggish. The spigot I tapped to let the creative juices flow got dammed by all the workday newness to absorb. For a while I would surf the social media and pinning boards searching for inspiration, but truly avoiding the fact that I still needed a topic. Tonight, I’m up against my midnight deadline yet again, but listening to music reminded me of how moved I am by it which yielded 3-4 nuggets to polish when significant. It got me to slow down enough to relive memories, listen to lyrics, and not do anything besides sway and occasionally snap my fingers.

WHAT THE HELL YOU BLOGGING FOR? GET A JOB!

One thing I missed from having roommates was the end-of-day debriefing. Oprah filled in for a bit, but once her show went dark, I yet again pondered – What Would Oprah Do? She Journals! this blog enabled me to unwind with some whine. I hoped to force creativity, practice writing and organize thoughts. Being Gen X, my hands cramp trying to write as fast as I think. Fortunately, my typing rocks. My plan included purging info from my head, organizing it and freeing up space to focus on important things – like find a job!

Fork in the road...

Part of me, more than I’ll usually admit, dreams of being a mommy-blogger! My work/life balance became effortless with this blog! [Cue: Booming nagging voice] “You’re writing an online diary! Get a real job!” At first, I ignored it, allowing time for myself. I knew if I didn’t indulge and write during this period, I’d wonder what might have been. I’ve been researching blogging and while it takes consistent effort, the possibility of reaching paid blogger status is a reasonable goal! Plus, it feels more tangible than job hunting where I’ve done what worked before, rewritten to work better, reinvented for technology and have nothing to show.

With blogging, I’ve measured site stats.

Great place to grow from!

Each experiment yields positive or negative measurable results. It’s restored my confidence knowing that the blog’s success depends wholly on me driving people to the site. I blogged yesterday about putting this hobby out there, stating how quickly I want to learn and getting great energy in return! Today, I reached a calm. I don’t know if it reflected inner peace or that I found an answer to appease the voice. I am doing something I love while learning new skills for my next step, and have show-and-tell for the job interview when they ask “What did you do during this down time?” If I only spent time sending resumes, I could say I’d been looking for work in a tough market, but I’d be drowned out by sobbing violins.

So, world, this is how I spent my break. Thanks for wandering with me! Can we keep the fact that I started this blog to whine between just us?

REMEMBER REAL LIFE BEFORE REALITY STARS?

Reality stars wish to be this cute or likeable!

Recently lots of noise hit the Internet about quarterback Tim Tebow, known for his beliefs and philanthropy almost more than his football. Today the glamorous Golden Globes paid tribute to those most talented this year in their craft. I got to see some of my favorite stars that used to wink at me from my teenage closet door, (who aged well, much to my delight), and fondly recalled life before Reality Stars.

The fact that I currently hold disdain for people like the Jersey cast and the K3 Sisters, probably shouts that I’m getting old. Honestly, it goes against my disposition to dislike anyone as I’m always finding the best in people, offering them the benefit of the doubt, seeing things from their perspective, and at least, taking them for face value in the moment.

I do not like this obsession with becoming famous just to be famous. I feel like if someone emerges more talented than their peers, then they deserve recognition. I’ll even agree that knowing how to manipulate media to get famous with no talent does mean that you’re skilled at something – or hired great people. But when you get to the top and all the kids around the world want to be you and all you provide is drama, tantrums, and ridiculously outlandish lifestyles – what are you worth?

This attitude - cute when you're 4, not at 20!

I hear people in office jobs talking like the K3 sisters and cringe. Gag me with a spoon! OH! Mark this day – I understand my parents’ motivation when they insisted I give up Valley Girlese! I’ll even say that originally, I admired KMom for wanting to make sure that her KKids are set for life without financial worries. However, in light of the recent wedding fiasco, the motivation extends beyond comfort to downright greed. I come from non-profits and that money could be put to a myriad of better uses. All it would take for me to return to the comfort level of agreeing to disagree and laughing at “kids these days” would be if they donated the money from the short-term union. They can keep their fans, possibly earn a few more, if they showed (pretended) to care about someone beside themselves.

THANKFUL THURSDAY – THE GRASS IS GREENER

I’ve driven through town, rushing through lunch hour, wondering about people running behind strollers or heading to yoga. I assumed they married, divorced, or invested well, lied to their bosses, had a trust fund or worked from home. I wished out loud to switch places. My wish came true – I have loads of free time! I never included unemployed job-hunters in this shiny, happy bunch.

This week, job hunting annoyed me for the time span it has consumed and the drive span I’m limited to. I enjoyed being off in December, but am ready for what’s next. When I went to buy a winning lottery ticket, I grabbed a newspaper that held a great horoscope written to me. It acknowledged my wrestling with challenges and foretold that my week would include veils lifted, planets aligning, and serendipitous timing to change everything!

Since Friday was approaching, and nothing crazy revealed itself yet, I guessed the universe wouldn’t find me holed up with my laptop. I left, in search of answers and to test if the grass IS greener. After chatting with friends at school drop-off, the sun pulled me towards the beach Farmer’s Market. To be fully present, I sent two texts first.

Fresh perspective with a side of veggies

The crashing waves invaded my thoughts, while the blend of blue sky, brown crystals and salty air recalibrated me. I stared at the horizon’s curve, amused that behind me Americans rushed through their day while ahead lay endless possibilities! The endless waves hypnotized me while sun on my cheeks added a joyous glow!

I ran into more people there, and later at toy testing – another luxury when not working. Nobody whispered mystic words of “I have the perfect job and it’s yours to take.” What I found on “the other side” was changed perspective. I get stuck in routines, in my house, because of should-do lists. I fill the day job-searching or completing projects trying to prove something by finishing the list. Today’s lesson pushed me outside to feel the world’s vibrations and survey the horizon. I realized the list will always exist, it doesn’t matter how someone gets free time, just that it is relished! What lesson are you thankful for?

JUST F’IN WRITE ALREADY!

Approaching my computer to surf people’s New Year’s Eve photos, I have the following windows open: two “respectable” job boards, “How to take control and reignite passion for your career,” “Transition from full-time to freelance,” “Top 5 regrets of people on their deathbed,” an unpublished manuscript reigniting my passion for my favorite vampire, and Google-search results for female mid-life crises.  Call it what you want, I’m wandering along researching all possible scenarios, creating plans and back-up plans but choosing none.

When people ask, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” I say WRITE.  I have loved writing since high school when I had a superb mentor and teacher who taught us to just let it flow.  It was a way to be in touch with myself and to bring life and sense to my random thoughts.  After having children I tiptoed back into creative writing with some classes, collecting, but not developing, ideas.

“What have you written?” comes next. I list a few adapted works and present a long list of “I’d love to write…” So truthfully – nothing.  I feverishly start, grow tired of the story, or claim “too busy” to finish.  I am easily distracted and have a tireless imagination that creates obstacles to keep me from writing.  Some were carelessly thrown there, some I put there to force me to follow into a more stable, less isolated destination.  However, the bottom line is, I’m not writing.

Oprah always says the universe speaks first in whispers, then messages, then a good friend smacks you upside the head [paraphrased] “Love the idea, just f’in write it already!”

After re(ally soul)searching, and being a big believer in baby steps, I created a plan to have NO plan besides committing to write 365 words/day for 365 days!  That is 11,102 words a month, 133,225 a year!  I will try new experiences, read new books, swim upstream when necessary, re-visit favorite haunts or just catch the tail of thoughts that flitter through my mind – or distract me with something sparkly from yours – and wander along to see where it goes!  This journey will be more fun with great conversations, so please, wander with me!

sh