Monthly Archives

August 2017

Digging Deep – Success Happens Outside the Comfort Zone

By | Be Genuine, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

What do a former roller derby player, a French-trained Sabreur, the President of SoCal Toastmasters and an international marathon runner all have in common? That would be Aaron. To be more specific, it would be SoapBoxSample’s Director of Systems and Programming, Aaron Cole.

The first employee of SoapBox, Aaron is a fashion extraordinaire (who refuses to buy his clothes in America), a recovered hair-dyeing addict, a current tattoo addict, a vegetarian, an artist, a Spartan and a world traveler.

Come to think of it, he may have way too many hobbies to actually be doing any work. Hmmm….

He also has somehow managed to buy the exact right gift for my daughter every single year, from talking storybook dogs, to fuzzy slippers and phone cases, he has an uncanny knack for buying her just the right Christmas gift each and every year. If I didn’t know him so well, I’d think it was creepy. But he likely does all kinds of research as that is just the way he is.

Oh – and he trained his dog, Charlie, to run races with him. They also have been known to wear matching costumes for Halloween.

Aaron is also this week’s guest blogger! Check out Aaron’s guide to digging deep and pushing beyond your limits.

A Guide to Completing a Marathon in the Outback …Without Getting Yourself Killed

Guest Post by Aaron Cole

I was all alone in the middle of the Australian Outback, running up a sand dune. Dehydration and exhaustion threatened to overtake me. This was Mile 19. I still had 7 more miles to go. How did I complete my mission? By following the simple, but difficult, steps outlined below.

I’m happy to say that I not only survived the Australian Outback, but that I also finished in 4th place overall, was the first American to cross the finish line, and beat my own personal best time by over 15 minutes with a final finish time of 3hrs 23min 25sec.

When I first decided that I wanted to complete a marathon on all seven continents, I immediately began looking for the most unique, exciting, and memorable races I could find. For my third continent I settled on the Australian Outback Marathon; 26.2 miles of grueling masochism through one of the world’s harshest environments. (I also raised nearly $1,000 to support The Wilderness Society to help protect Australia’s many endangered and at-risk species.)

Curious how this went from an idea to a reality? Here’s how I did it.

  1. Have a Vision and Purpose: Running a marathon wasn’t enough for me, I also wanted to raise funds and awareness for The Wilderness Society. Whether for your own benefit or the benefit of others, having a vision and purpose is essential as it serves as the foundation for your motivation and drive.
  2. Set Goals (and Follow Through): In the 16 weeks leading up to the Outback Marathon I averaged 50+ miles of running per week. It. Was. Not. Easy. Some days I didn’t feel like putting in the work, but I had a vision and I knew that if I didn’t accomplish the goals I set for myself, it would jeopardize my ability to accomplish my mission.
  3. Just Do It: Like the slogan goes, you’ve got to get it done. When I felt tired, weary, or my schedule was jam-packed, it created obstacles for my training plan. It’s not easy to run 50+ miles when you’re working Monday through Friday and then lose your weekend to other responsibilities, but if you want to accomplish something great, you’ve got to put in a greater amount of effort. This involved many late night runs, running while on the go, re-organizing my schedule, and a whole lot of commitment.
  4. Prepare for the Specifics: If your goals aren’t targeted and purposeful, you won’t be successful in your mission. In order to prepare myself, both physically and mentally, I ran a lot of hills, long distances of up to 22 miles, and sandy beach runs. This gave my legs the experience, built the resistance, and helped to get my head in the right mind frame for the challenges I would face in the desert of the Outback.
  5. Support and Accountability: Putting in this much time and effort can be draining, and it can be easy to slip, so having a support network is essential to keeping you on track! Family, friends, business associates, or anyone else that can lend positivity and support are all crucial to your success. I joined several running groups, finding camaraderie with my running mates and even gaining new tricks and tips to improve my skills. I also found greater consistency in my training, helping me to accomplish my 50+ miles per week goal with significantly greater ease!
  6. Have Fun Along the Way: As I mentioned, the time and effort you put in to accomplish your mission can be draining at times, so you need to find ways to re-fuel your energy. This will vary from person to person, it’s really what’s works for you. For me, however, I used food, travel, and other races to keep me motivated. Rewarding yourself with a giant cinnamon roll with blueberries, almonds and cream cheese after a long and hilly 22-mile run is pretty much the best thing ever!
  7. Take Care of Yourself: It can be easy to overlook your own personal well-being when you become so engrossed in accomplishing your goals, but the impact of an injury can be far greater than the moments you spend to rest and recover. Even in a more professional setting, it can be easy to burn out if you don’t have a way to vent the stresses and take care of your mind and body. I had to nurse some injuries, ease back on training, and allow myself the time to recoup, which in the end resulting in even greater improvement, allowing me to far exceed my performance expectations!
  8. Dig Deep: All the motivation, support, and sense of purpose you carry may feel irrelevant when you’re faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. But I’m here to tell you that nothing is impossible, and any obstacle can be overcome. This is when you need to dig deep and draw from within. For the last 10 miles of the Australian Outback Marathon, I was running in complete isolation; not another runner for over a mile in either direction. I was combating dehydration from the desert’s dry heat, and come Mile 19, the final sand dune drained the last of my strength. The remaining 7 miles I had nothing left. I was running on fumes. But I never stopped running, I never lost sight of my mission, and I dug really, really, REALLY deep.
  9. Celebrate and Recover: Victory! With your mission complete, it’s time to bask in the glory of your accomplishment. Savor this success and know that you’ve earned it! But don’t be too quick to jump into your next mission, give yourself time to recover so that you can tackle the next one with the same energy and enthusiasm.

After all this I’ll bet you’re feeling ready to tackle a marathon of your own, right?? Maybe not. But that’s okay, because these strategies apply to more than just running marathons, you can apply this to any dream or goal you wish to accomplish. Whether your passion is to open your own restaurant, grow your business by 50% in the next 12 months, or even something as simple as learning how to roller skate, if you follow these steps, I can guarantee your success.

However, if you don’t find success with these steps, please direct any complaints and refund requests to Jacqueline Rosales c/o Telltale Ten!

Hack Attack!

By | Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Take Risks

Seven Amazing Hacks from One Unexpected Household Item

I’m a big fan of anything that makes life easier, more convenient, or less annoying. Any #lifehack posts that I stumble across on social media will immediately grab my attention. It’s possible that I spend more time reading about life hacks, than I actually save by doing the life hacks, but that’s a topic for another blog.

This blog is about one insignificant household item that can do about a million other things that it wasn’t even designed to do. (Reminds me of some people I know.) Here are seven of my favorite life hacks, all involving the humble dryer sheet. The best part is, for most of these hacks any brand will work, and they don’t even have to be new dryer sheets. Used ones work just as well.

  1. Remove nail polish. Glittery nail polish is a pain to get off. When you’re sick of looking like a Las Vegas showgirl, cut dryer sheets into small squares, soak them in acetone, and lay them on top of your nails. After a few minutes, the nail polish will rub off easily.
  2. Use instead of paint thinner to clean brushes. It’s not magic, it’s science. Science I won’t attempt to explain. Just try it. Lay a paintbrush over a dryer sheet, and pour water on top. The paint will slide right off.
  3. Clean your hairbrush. Instead of ripping out clumps of hair a few pieces at a time, soak the brush in warm water with a dryer sheet plopped in there. After a few minutes take it out and the hair just slides off.
  4. Sharpen scissors. When your scissors get dull from cutting up magazines, making DIY home décor, or cutting unidentifiable goo out of the dog’s hair, you can use a dryer sheet to sharpen up the blades again. Just rub the dryer sheet on each edge.
  5. Remove stains from the toilet bowl. Re-purpose a used dryer sheet as a toilet bowl scrubber. You don’t even have to scrub that hard. Gloves recommended.
  6. Scrub glass shower doors. A dryer sheet can remove water stains and calcium deposits. Add a couple drops of water, and wipe the doors down. You’ll want to share this one with everyone. Just don’t forget you heard it here first.
  7. Clean grease from pans. You can eliminate the crusty, burnt grease from your pans by soaking them in water, dish soap and a dryer sheet. Let it sit for one hour. Use that hour to catch up on Telltale Ten blog posts you may have missed.

Want more hacks? Check out Accessories to Make Your Traveling Life Easier — All From the Dollar Store.

Competition – The Great Motivator (and Wannabe Distractor)

By | Create Value, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

This may come as a shock to some of you, but I can be competitive. Like, super competitive. I recently made it a competition with our VP of Operations to see who could get to my boss’s office the fastest. Not kidding. Competitive people tend to gravitate toward other competitive people.

My friend Ashley Seeger (who was featured in one of the first Telltale Ten BLOGs, My Friends Are Cooler Than Yours) embodies that trait like no other. After a crazy ACL injury and a few other life events, Ashley made the decision to focus on her business full-time. She leveraged her growing boot camp and class groupies, and recently opened up her own gym and training facility called Becoming Badass. As a startup leader, I can tell you that being competitive can help you succeed. (Being a little bit crazy is helpful too.) Ashley is learning to take her race mentality, and apply it to growing her business. Oh, and she decided to take on a bikini competition, a 24-hour endurance race in Australia, and compete in World’s Toughest Mudder (among some Spartan and Ragnar races) all during her first year of business. Ashley shares a few key tips on competition in this week’s Telltale Ten.

Competition – The Great Motivator (and Wannabe Distractor)

By Ashley Seeger

If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, you know that there is competition on every corner. The stressors that come with opening a new business can be intense. Keeping up with your competition can be one that eats at you. For me, competition comes in a lot of different forms — competition with myself, competition with things in my life that are vying for my attention and competition from other businesses. Competition motivates us to do more, do better and grow as a business. If we were the only one doing the “thing” why would we need to improve? Instead, competition forces us to do our best. It can also derail us and cause us to lose focus if we don’t channel it correctly. Here is how I use competition to motivate me instead of distract me.

1. Master your trade. What are you good at? What is your passion?

Keep your focus on what YOU are good at. What do you love the most? What is your unique value proposition? What is special about you or your business that others cannot easily replicate? When looking at your competition you may be tempted to veer from your lane into what they are doing. But ask yourself – what are you a master at? Do you find your passion or expansion opportunities in competitive offerings? If not, then stay in your lane. Instead of trying to be a jack-of-ALL-trades, how can you improve what YOU do?

2. Don’t waste time or energy worrying about the others.

In other words, mind your own business. Literally and figuratively. Instead of worrying that others are going to do more, be better etc., use that energy for your own business. Once you have identified what is working for you, set a plan to improve what you already do. How can you be the BEST at what YOU do? Figure it out and then DO IT! Have integrity and take pride in what you do. You cannot control what your competition is doing. You also can’t be blind to it. This is a balancing act. Be mindful of the landscape, industry, trends, direct and indirect competition. But don’t be obsessed with it – and definitely don’t try to just copy it. Be aware of your surroundings and competition, continuously try to improve what you do and don’t let the competition be a threat, let the competition motivate you to be the best.

3. Leverage what you know, but don’t rely on today’s skills to get you through tomorrow.

Entrepreneurs need to always be learning, seeking more info, and getting out of their comfort zone. Just like on the race course, you have to know your competition’s strengths and weaknesses. You also have to train and be coachable. If you are not willing to learn new things, or accept advice from others who know things you don’t, you will likely fail. I am an athlete. I have always been an athlete. I am a coach. I am a good coach. Running a business is TOTALLY new to me. If I don’t embrace what I don’t know, and seek it, my competition may prevail regardless of how good of an athlete or coach I am. I have to find and recognize my weakness and then go after it!

If you want to check out all the badass things Ashley does, check out her website at www.becomingbadass.me. For someone new to business, she sure has mastered marketing and branding. It rocks. Truthfully I am jealous. You can follow her Badass adventures on social media at [Insta: @_ashleyseeger, YouTube: Ashley Seeger, Facebook: Ashley Seeger]. Oh, and to the tune of getting out of her comfort zone and delving more into the “business side” of running a business, she just joined LinkedIn! You can connect with her here where she will be posting her BLOG, news, making connections and learning new stuff.

There is a sign hanging in her facility that reads “Do Only Difficult Things” – that pretty much sums up entrepreneurship.

Any Good Idea Must Have a Cool Hashtag

By | Be Honest

I find new things inspire me all of the time. Whether it’s a great newsletter, (The Hustle, anyone?) the words of a colleague, or a pair of Hulk Hogan gamma grip fists (I am not kidding just ordered these), my upstairs thinking machine is constantly roaring.

Company culture is not cultivated top down. It may be born at the top, but it raised from the inside up, down, in and out. I definitely have some quirky ideas. Some turn out to be good, and some not as good. Personally, I am most inspired when I see others passionate and inspired. Instead of always showing off to my team the things that inspire me, I love to know what my team finds inspiring.

This year we started a new thing called TED Talk Tuesdays. The idea really started as what I thought would be a cool hashtag – you have to admit #tedtalktuesdays has a ring to it. But seriously. I love TED Talks. I watch them, share them, I incorporate them into company meetings whenever possible – one day I aspire to give one.

TED Talk Tuesday is a super simple, yet powerful team event. Each month, a different team member picks a TED Talk to share with the company.  They give a couple minute overview of the talk and why they chose it. Then, we watch it together (some team members are in the office and some remote) – once it ends we have an unstructured group discussion.

Sometimes we walk away with a new sense of gratitude, or purpose. Sometimes we can’t stop talking about the speaker’s eyebrow situation (click here to see) when we should be talking about the message that was so inspirational and hit home on so many different levels. Either way, we get to know each other better as a team. I LOVE seeing what people pick. It has yet to be predictable, and also yet to fail in awesomeness.

This is one of my favorites: Running forward to alleviate homelessness: Anne Mahlum www.youtube.com/annemahlum. I showed this one at an annual all-hands company meeting a few years ago. I love the feeling of watching a video and feeling such strong emotion and connection to the screen. Watch it all the way through to make sure you get to the “Why do we should all over ourselves” part. So. Freakin. Awesome.

Follow us on Twitter to make sure you never miss out on the team #tedtalktuesday picks each month. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Telltale Ten Guide to Cleaning Up Dog Sh*t

Just When You Think You’re Ready for the Week…

By | Be Genuine, Create Value

Dog Sh*t Everywhere…

Last week was a rough week. Without going into a million details it was just hit after hit after hit across all areas of my life. By the end of the week, the stress had manufactured in exhaustion – I was physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually tired and ended up sick.

I went into this week determined to turn things around. Not only in how I react to things (like When Life Kicks You in the ___), but also in trying to eliminate some of the stressors all together. You know, organizing myself and setting myself up for the best chance of success knowing that sh*t will inevitably go wrong. Little did I know, that literally, sh*t would go bonkers.

By Sunday night I was still unable to sleep and transported myself to the guest room. For some reason it is an ice box in there and helps me sleep. I drifted off the sleep with thoughts of a “good week to come” in my head. I had prepared all the meals for the week, updated the calendar, worked out schedules, organized what needed organizing and was ready to conquer the week. And then…

I was abruptly awoken by my daughter saying in a quiet but panicked voice, “Sheebee had diarrhea everywhere and I don’t know what to do. Dad is really mad.” I can assure you this was not how I planned to start my “good week to come”. So in case you are wondering, Sheebee is our Husky and she is big. We had spent hours and hours of the weekend rearranging and redecorating my room and my daughter’s room. I laid there thinking “is this really happening?” and then when I realized I really had just been woken up by the diarrhea dog I thought to myself “how bad can it be?”.

Uhm, let me tell you, it was REALLY bad. OMG bad. Like my initial thought was the only possible solution here is going to be to tear up the carpet AND throw away the super cute (and expensive) new Pottery Barn rug. I didn’t have time for all that, so instead started shouting orders as if I was the Chief of Dog Sh*t Cleanup. I was determined to not start my week badly. This was nothing compared to what went on the week before, but it certainly wasn’t breakfast in bed either.

So the moral of the story is simple. Don’t have pets or kids.

Just kidding. Too late for that (for me anyway). But here’s the deal. I had a plan of how I wanted my week to start off. This was not my plan. So I could have let it be the defining conjunction between last week’s bad week carrying over into this week, or, just dealt with it and then decided I would start my week over. I have moved on in my quest to have a good week. There was nothing I could do to change it, so no point in dwelling on it. It’s not what happens, it how we react to it. In the grand scheme of life, this is certainly not a big deal. So often, we get caught up in the small stuff, and let it impact our happiness and usefulness for the day. I have totally let it go…

That is until the next thing happens and I start yelling “First the dog sh*t everywhere and now this?”

PS – We only have carpet in two rooms in our house. Of course this happened in one of those rooms. If this happens to you, here are some helpful tips:

  • Open all the windows
  • Febreeze the room prior to entering
  • Get lots of plastic bags
  • Do your best to scoop up the goop with plastic gloves
  • Use disinfectant sanitizer wipes to wipe the spots
  • Mix baking soda and water and put on the spots
  • Let that sit forever until it dries
  • Vacuum it up
  • Run a purification essential oil overnight

It totally worked. The carpet stains are gone (from both the Berber carpet and the wool carpet), there was not carpet discoloration and the room doesn’t smell like a kennel.