Security or Risk?

All my life, I’ve pretty much known what my paycheck will be. After all, you accept a job, you know the hourly rate, you know how many hours you work. It’s fairly easy to calculate the deductions and the remaining balance is your takehome. And once you hit a salaried rate, it’s going to be the same amount no matter how many hours you work. It’s a financial safety net, the only worry is a reduction in force or getting fired.

My father was a salesman. He started his career at O.C. Tanner putting together sales data. The more he did the more he realized that salesmen made bank. He determined he was going to be the best salesman. He started selling life insurance and group health. In 1976, he saw the possibility of ERISA and with a partner and an assistant he started a third party administrator. It was rough going at first, I remember owning one dress – an orange, polka dot number my mother made. I hated wearing something so ugly – if only because I look horrible in orange.

By the time I was in high school, Dad had 180 employees and I was a claims processor. There were times that business was good and we took trips and had nice things. There were times business was bad and Dad would sell off assets collected in the good times. No matter the situation though, it was never good enough.

See the phrase “Good enough” was a curse in our household. Dad had memorized a poem about how good enough was the cry of the lazy and mediocre. I don’t recall him ever telling me I did a good job on anything. Mom was the same. One incident that stands out was the day I was so excited because my report card was all A’s and A-‘s. I had worked so hard and was so happy. I thought my parents would be too. Nope, the first words out of my mother’s mouth were “Don’t you know any letter but A? and why are there so many with tails? Can’t you get rid of the tails?” She called the minus signs tails. I don’t remember dad even saying a word about it.

Being in sales, Dad never knew for sure what his paycheck would be and that drove Mom crazy. Even when he guaranteed her that he would make sure she would always have a set amount for her monthly budget, she felt the stress of the months where there wasn’t enough. It was never good enough. That financial uncertainty plus my father’s insistance that “girls can’t sell” kept me out of sales. Although I loved marketing and the data behind a good marketing campaign when I did my MBA studies, in my mind marketing was not sales and therefore safe to do.

Fast forward to this year. My safe, secure job was transferred to Atlanta and moving to keep the job was out of the question for family reasons. I had several offers for sales positions during my job search but the thought of 60% + commission terrified me. I couldn’t see myself taking the pay cut. Even worse were the 100% commission positions. How would I pay the mortgage or cover health insurance from a full sales position?

Queue the pre-sales team in my current company. They made me an offer where 70% + commission would be equivalent or more to what I was making on salary even if commissions were nothing. It also allows for travel several months of the year where I will have time in a hotel room to work on my book, sharpen my coaching skills or just sit and stitch or read. Sounds perfect, right? Sounds like everything I need – money, time and freedom. So why am I terrified?

Why do I keep hearing that niggling little voice that says, “women can’t sell.” Statistically I know that isn’t true. I’ve had a real estate license long enough to attend many continuing ed courses where they show the stats of the top sales people being women. Multiple articles on Linkedin have the stats showing that women have incredible sales skills and do incredibly well when negotiating, especially when representing others.

“You’re a farmer not a hunter.” In pre-sales I don’t have to be a hunter. I don’t have to go find that cold call or initial contact. I’m growing and caring for someone else’s deal. I’m reassuring and educating. I’m coaching the client to make sure we understand all their needs. I’m training them on using the product I’ve been building for the last 5 years. Sounds like a perfect fit. Everyone around me seems to think so.

You would think, having grown up with a salesman and entrepreneur, I would have the mindset to follow in those footsteps. However, the thought of having to go find my own clients, having to locate leads, and then closing the deal scares me. I love calling and selling to other people’s leads. I’ve done that before and find it exhilarating. I got recognized as being in the top 5% of the sales floor. But I didn’t really see it as sales, it was call center work and I’m good at call centers. I remember too someone calling my Dad to talk to him about a stock deal, he politely listened, then he winked at me and told the person on the phone, “I’m sorry, but I’m only willing to gamble on myself.”

Somehow that phrasing stuck with me and I’ve seen sales as gambling on myself. In my 20’s I would have seen that as a safe bet but somewhere along the line, it became too big a risk. I’ve lost the ability to see the security in betting on myself. I’ve become safe in my mediocrity. Yet, something inside keeps telling me that mediocrity is the risk. Having the same amount every two weeks is the risk of never having the ability to fund your dreams.

Stretching and reaching is where the security is, not in following the wellworn path. Being like everyone else, is the true risk.


When the universe sends you a message…



The universe has laws which demand that it send messages in threes which makes sense since humans tend to learn things when they are presented in threes.  It started when I had a session with my coach (yes, coaches have a coach).  He suggested that I read Financial Freedom: Finding what works for you by Greg Kesten.  Greg’s introduction talks about how “The difference between poverty and prosperity is our degree of gratitude.”  His chapters focus on our emotional relationship with money and how to change it.

Second came the message from DailyOM – I have been working my way through the Year to Clear and for this year, the message from DailyOM for me was A Year to Get Rich with Purpose. In this program, Edward Vilga takes you through your “Lack Consciousness and Upper Limiting Beliefs” so that you can stop “unknowingly holding them as truths, even though they are a form of unconscious self-sabotage.”

Then came the finale, Richard Paul Evans did a Facebook Live session where he talked about 2 secrets to wealth  and introduced his 5 Lessons for Women Wealth Mastery Course. It’s only $27 which is about the same price of the DailyOm course. That would have been it, except then, during the Calliope Writing Conference, Richard Paul Evans dropped in and shared tips on writing and publishing for an hour.  I got half of his talk on video and I’m in a picture with him but I don’t have a copy of that.

As a tangent, you would think as many times as the Michael Vey booth has been at the Salt Lake comic conventions and that I have worked them all,  at least once I arranged a break to get over to the Michael Vey booth. Nope, never happened.  Not even during the year when he was right next to my section on voice row.  My breaks and his being in the booth never coincided.  Although, I did lose some of my line control to his booth for good reason.

Coming back, I guess the three manifestations are my clue by four to examine and change my attitudes about money.  After all, as the successful artists I know say , “You don’t have to be a starving artist, to produce art.”  Think about it, if you’re afraid of wealth, it will be afraid of you too.  Those are just the laws of the universe.


Speaking of action….



A week or so ago, I was talking to a friend about how I felt I should turn one of several ideas I have into a book and how many bits and pieces are around but no cohesion and really no idea how or where to start. She mentioned she was attending a writing conference this weekend and it was local. They had dropped the price and with the opportunity to see Lisa, I signed up for the Calliope Writing Coach conference.

As of today, I can honestly say that I have now made a pitch to an editor. I have met Richard Paul Evans (yes, I know he comes to FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention but I’ve never been able to get away to meet him). Had a great chat with Paul Genessee and with Michael Darling, bought copies of their books. Tomorrow will be more authors and platform building.

Michael and Paul suggested that I start coming to the League of Utah Writers genre group for speculative fiction and get started on playing with short stories as a way of practicing writing and learning the craft. That might be a really good idea considering how many notebooks of scenes, outlines and characters I have floating around the house.

We’ll see how the first meeting goes in February.

What word resonates with you this year?

I’m seeing the question in the title a lot this January. I can see the purpose of picking a theme for the year. I can see starting the year with a word but as the year progresses, the word would need to change as I change and grow. So for this first part of the year, my word is Action.

I will take Action on my dreams and goals. I will take Action to overcome procrastination. I will take Action and move forward.

Action will keep me from analysis paralysis. Action will keep my emotions in check.

I will Act now.

Chasing a thought thread…

I want to take a moment and think aloud (okay, so I’m thinking in public through typing, same difference).  I’ve been thinking about the things that hold us back and thinking especially about the need to impress.  I also recently listened to some talks by Dave Blanchard and the History channel’s Seven Deadly sins.  Somewhere among the two videos the comment was made that the biggest issue with “pride/vainglory/the need to impress” is it delegates those around us from real people to objects.

When we have a need to impress, the people around us become no more than the audience. They are no longer human or eternal beings, they are sycophants to our stage show.  Getting to know them and their needs is non-existent, it’s all about us.

But wait, isn’t the need to impress about insecurity most of the time?  (Here is where I go off the rails)  What is insecurity but the focus on self instead of focus on others?  When we are focused on ourselves and our wants, we cannot see others.  We cannot see ourselves clearly, we are looking through a mirrored lens. In that mirrored lens, others become a reflection of what we want them to be to enforce our beliefs about either the world or ourselves.  When we force others to be a reflection instead of allowing them to be themselves, we impose ourselves and our beliefs on them.  How cruel is that?

How do we stop? We listen. Not just to hear but to understand and not just understand through the mirrored lens which confirms what we already believe but we listen to learn.  We set aside our emotions and listen for the emotion from others.  We listen for their passion.  We sift through the subjective to find the facts.  Facts are not clouded by emotion, they just are.  It’s the human interaction which colors them in order to impose our understanding.

We open our hearts and allow others to be.  And in doing so, we allow ourselves to be as well.

They were an industrious people

This morning while reading in Alma it struck me how often the scripture mentions a main difference between the Nephites and the Lamanites was being industrious vs being indolent.  When Amalickiah becomes King of the Lamanites through subterfuge, Alma records how the people who left the Nephites with him became wicked “giving way to indolence.”  The footnote for indolence refers to 3 Nephi 4:5 where “there was no way that they could subsist save it were to plunder and rob and murder.” The Topical Guide brings up another reference in Alma 17 about how the people “might not labor for them with their own hands” but would murder and plunder for gold, silver and precious stones.  It also suggests I try laziness and there the list is long.  Proverbs has many scriptures which warn against the idleness and sloth.  I love Proverbs 20:13 – Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty. 

The early saints were told that the Lord wants his people to be industrious.  Both the Bible and the Book of Mormon give many examples of that. King Benjamin labored with his hands to support himself and his people. Thessalonians commands that “if any would not work, neither should he eat.” But wait, you say, what about compassion? What about helping the poor?  The best way to help the poor is to teach them to work – teach them to fish instead of giving them fish.  

I would like to point out also the difference in would vs could.  The scripture in Thessalonians has the assumption that the ability to work is there the desire is not.  I have met many with the desire to work who did not have the ability through injury or illness. Those are they whom the Saviour said to assist when he spoke of helping the poor and those who will always be with us.  Yet Mosiah 4 talks of giving alms without judgement and giving in your heart when you don’t have the wherewithal to give.  

The point I’m getting at is although the grace of the Atonement is how we are saved, we demonstrate our acceptance of that grace through our works. When we have the Saviour in our hearts, we show that through our industry and put aside indolence. 

Love when the ‘verse sends reminders…reaching for more, finding abundance.


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Do Not limit the View of yourself. Do not despise the conditions of your birth.

As the message on my Change your Thoughts, Change your Life calendar by Dr. Wayne Dyer (based on the Tao te Ching), I knew today would be full of opportunities to expand my horizons.  Along with that came today’s Mountain Goat Software blog post by Mike Cohn on Shifting from Scarcity to Abundance Thinking.

I’ve been lucky in having marketing mentors who believe that the true job of sales is to expand the pie rather than poach other people’s customers.  As an industry we all grow if we can bring new people into the market rather than chasing the same handful of customers.  I had one mentor who banned pie charts in marketing meetings because he felt they were deceptive, they never accounted for enlarging the pie.  He preferred columns or line graphs since they can always move up.

In this age of big data, it’s easy to segment the market and make false assumptions. There are fans who like both Star Wars and Star Trek but will never watch Firefly.  There are new Whovians who will never watch the classic shows and therefore miss a lot of the Capaldi Doctor’s jokes.  However, there are opportunities within the markets to introduce them to new things.  Had I not met Dean O’Gorman, I would probably never have watched The Almighty Johnsons.  

Making assumptions on what people like can be based on false data too.  Right now, my son is suffering a rash of ads for paranormal fiction and urban fantasy because he ordered some school books using my Barnes and Noble account which is tied to the family’s discount card.

What’s worse is when we make false assumptions about ourselves and our abilities or about others.  I love the Henry Ford quote – If you believe you can’t, you’re right.  If you even doubt your ability to succeed, the entire heart and soul will not go into the effort.  Yesterday, there was an NPI article about a female poker player who learned to use other people’s stereotypes against them.  She admits part of her strategy to win the world poker tournament was to act as if she was surprised to be sitting at the table, to play it that she was grateful to be part of the boy’s club.  She had learned playing into the stereotype led the men around her to not take her seriously as a strategist.  Being underestimated can have it’s advantages.

Underestimating your own value can have adverse consequences though especially for women.  When we underestimate our ability, we don’t apply for promotions or better jobs.  We don’t take the classes we need to improve our skills. We work in survival mode instead of reaching out and thriving and growing.  We argue with people who compliment our skills and even worse, we will self sabotage in order to keep our worldview.

So today’s challenge – reach out of the rut and do something different.  Do something that scares you but will help you reach the next rung of your goals.

If Big Data steering occurred in a library

Several weeks ago I looked up a book on Amazon but I didn’t buy it there, I grabbed it at my local Barnes and Noble.  The other day I was on a website and saw that the ad on the side column was for the book I had and was reading.  I went to another website and there was the book advertisement again.  It followed me to three other websites and then I cleared my cache and cookies.
The more I thought about it, the more annoyed I got about how intrusive it was that advertising mines my search history. I brought it up to my husband and said he’s found it even worse.
Imagine going to a library and the first time you go in, you ask for 18th century literature.  The librarian takes you to the correct section.  Then you ask about Corvettes and she takes you to a section on ships. “No,” you say, “I’m looking up information on Corvettes.”
“Yes,” answers the librarian, “Corvettes in 18th century literature.”
“No,” you say, “I want information on Chevrolet Corvettes.”
The librarian smiles at you in a patronizing manner, “Silly person, cars did not exist in 18th century literature. No search results found.”
So you leave the library, frustrated.
As you’re in the parking lot you figure you will go back and find a different librarian but that doesn’t help; your record says you want 18th century literature.
So after leaving the library you send a letter asking for your records to be destroyed. Then the next time you go to the library you have no trouble getting the manual for the 67 Corvette.  However, once you get that manual, no one will let you into the section about Russian composers.  Once again, in order to get the information, you need to leave the library, erase your records and then go back.
Lately, this analogy has been my experience with many websites. I have diverse interests.  Data mining has trouble with that. My husband has run into a few retail sites that won’t show him the parts he needs for the current stereo he’s working on because his order history has him owning a different brand and model.  My husband’s hobby is refurbishing stereos and makes and models rarely stay around the house. So big data remembering what he owns is more a problem than a solution.
I wish there were a place that consolidated all my hobby purchases. I can’t remember if I bought Nora Corbett’s Holly but I’m seeing the ads still.
I can see how retailers think that repeating the information from searches will bring people back to buy, but the only one that ever worked for me was when Think Geek sent a coupon for the items I had put in my shopping cart and left the site without finalizing the sale. However, now I always close the site and buy my stuff the next day. Sometimes I get a coupon sometimes I don’t. I’m surprised the bot doing the data mining hasn’t figured out this shopping pattern.
What big data mining things do you notice?

Continuing on the subject of books …

Part of the joy of reading a book, at least for me, is watching the bookmark move through the novel. I don’t get the same feeling from a reading bar.
I have to admit holding the tablet instead of the physical copy of Name of the Wind has been nice.
Lately, I’ve been comparing ebooks to audiobooks to paperbacks to hardbacks.
I bought a hardback copy of a book for work and after reading and highlighting and making notes in the margins, a coworker gave the audio file and I finished it by listening. The experience set me thinking (dangerous I know) about how I read now compared to how I read in the past.
Some of my earliest reading memories are turning on a bedside light after the rest of the family went to bed. I also did the flashlight under the covers thing. Those early books were a mixture of hardback and paperback. The closest to audiobooks I had as a child were radio plays and the Disney albums where Tinker bell told you to turn the page. So I guess I was introduced to audiobooks at an early age.
I loved to read growing up. I devoured everything I could lay my hands on.  I have an uncle who remembers watching me read Leaves of Grass when I was 6 and being able to converse intelligently on it.
In college, I learned about volunteering to read books for the blind. I read a lot of texts and actually had a few people request that I be the reader for their texts. I even had one person who asked that I do an emergency reading in person – handouts from class.
During the 1990’s, I got my first computer and discovered online books. Then about 5 years ago I got my first ereader. I used it for travel and not around home. It seemed odd not to read on paper and I missed watching the bookmark move.
I think another problem with the ereader is that when I first got it I didn’t like the ebook prices and only picked up free books. There is a reason that free books are free. Most of them desperately need an editor.
The only free book I got that I remember and remember enjoying is the Trylle Trilogy by Amanda Hocking (and those are getting made into paperbacks).
I’ve now reached the point that the only time I add a free book to my library now is if it is a special offer on a either a best selling author or an author I know. But with Jim Butcher coming to SLComicCon it hit me hard, how do you have an author sign an ebook?

I am an active reader and a defiler of books…

I underline passages and jot down impressions in the margins. I put big stars by passages I want to find again.

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When I give books away, I write notes in the front cover. That said, I also have a Nook app, a Kindle app and Kobo for independent books. However, as I’m reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss on Nook, I’m wishing I could write in the margins.  And then I got thinking…Some of my most prized possessions are books I inherited from my grandparents.  My grandmother gave me a book, which she and her newlywed husband received from his grandfather.

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Grandpa included a letter and signed it before giving it to the couple.

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One of my favorite analogies in the book is marriage is like taking an ocean voyage and when you and your spouse start out on the voyage, you leave everyone else on the dock and rely on each other. No matter what the world thinks of your love, it’s up to the two of you to weather the storms together.

I started wondering “How will I pass on my notes and thoughts to my children when what I have is digital files keyed to my account?”  At least the new apps let me highlight and make comments but it’s just not the same as pen and paper.

I’ve tried to instill a love of books in my children and we have a large library. Today while at Barnes and Noble we ran into a woman who was buying 18 of the classic publications in the faux leather bindings.  She didn’t care what they were as long as the colors didn’t clash.  She told me that no one would read them they were just meant to look good on the shelves.  I asked if she were staging a house for sale, and she said no, they were for decorations on the bookshelves in her house.  I helped her pick some classics which would be interesting should someone deign to pick them up:  Aesop’s fables, H.P. Lovecraft, The complete works of Shakespeare and Poe, Arabian Nights and Grimms Fairytales, The Bible, The Constitution, the treatises of Nikola Tesla. I thanked her for supporting the publishing industry. I’m sure she thought I was a wench.

The other thing I love about books is meeting authors and having them sign things.  I met Anne McCaffrey when I was in college and the sad part was all my good books were in my bedroom at home, all I had was Restoree.

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Anne looked at it and said, “Oh, my gothic romance,” and we both giggled.  The event hadn’t been well publicized so I got to sit and talk with her for the hour she was in the store.   I wanted her to be my Great Aunt or Grandma.

I’m looking forward to the authors they have for Salt Lake ComicCon this fall. Jim Butcher has given me many hours of pleasure, R.A. Salvatore entertained my kids. Terry Brooks provided wonderful examples of improper grammar and great discussions on veiled plagiarism (he’s not one of my favorites).

My kids have been told they will need to open the front cover of each book before it goes out the door when I die, they shouldn’t just give away the signed ones, or the ones that I’ve written in.  After all, these are my very good friends and they shouldn’t end up on the trash heap without at least some consideration.

As for the digital files, delete all the free garbage, most of it needed a good editor and then maybe it could have been sold.  I’ve discovered life is too short for an unedited digital file because every writer no matter how good, can benefit from an effective editor. My blog is excellent proof of that.