Here is a little story about awareness, and yet another moment when I realized it was ok to let go of struggle, no matter how tiny or insignificant.

I was doing some cooking on Sunday and had to chop two onions. I took out my handcrafted Canadian-made chopping board and started chopping away. I was making one of my faves, a simple Harvest Vegetable Stew from a Chatelaine Quickies cookbook - just in case you are a foodie and care lol. 

I was almost through the process when it dawned on me.

I hate my chopping board.

Now, this came as a shock to me. The board is gorgeous. I bought it at the One of a Kind Show a couple years ago and it is smooth and dark, with a rich walnut colour and quirky stripe, and a nice little hole in it so it hangs easily. I remember falling in love with it when I bought it.

I also remember that there was a board I loved even MORE. It was more interesting with a checkerboard pattern, a thicker wood, and most importantly, larger. It was probably twice the size. It was a chopping oasis.

I really wanted the bigger board. But I decided to compromise and settle for the smaller board which was still a teeny - but not insignificant - investment of $100. The larger board was $150. I hummed and hahhed and decided that I could live with the cheaper of the two. I made my purchase confidently. Well, maybe not confidently. Because I do remember feeling guilty about shopping for myself when I was at a craft show aimed at gifts for loved ones, and worrying that maybe a new chopping board wasn't a necessity (even though I cook often and passionately believe in supporting local artists and small businesses).

For some reason, I remember distinctly deciding I should settle. I can still FEEL the decision to choose small, compromise and be 'responsible'. Like saving $50 was being 'responsible'? WTF. A warped moment in judgment, y'all. Oh, the issues we humans have!

That tiny decision to buy the less expensive board means that EVERY time I cook I get annoyed. Like really annoyed. And trust me, my annoyed self is not very pretty - or polite.

I don't have enough room to chop veggies efficiently. I struggle to keep the food on the board. I twist and turn myself into weird angles to accommodate my limiting surface. The bottom line is, I find myself in a state of struggle. This crappy state of struggle only adds negative energy to my life. No bueno.

I know it seems like such a small thing, and there are some of you that want to scream 'Suck it up, buttercup! You have a nice chopping board!" And I get that. But I challenge you to look at some of the tiny things that annoy you in your life, or cause you frustration, and ask yourself:

Could I have avoided this?
If the answer is yes, ask yourself why you decided not to avoid the pitfall. Why did you embrace the struggle? Do you do this often?

Chances are you are choosing small ways to PROVE to yourself that you are not worthy of amazingness 24/7. That was the case for me. I definitely know that now.

A few months ago I wrote about my big purge of stuff which was inspired by the Marie Kondo book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The main takeaway from the book is to only keep things that spark joy. Another way to look at this is to release things that create struggle. In some ways, I think this is an easier perspective. Maybe because we recognize pain easier than joy? Not sure. But what I do know is that in every area of our lives we must make a habit of letting go of shit that weighs us down. Ditch the struggle. Toss the pain.

Oh - and buy the bigger chopping board. I plan on doing that at the upcoming One of Kind Show. The time has come and I know it will be a beauty that brings me joy for years to come.

To your brave success,
Alana

Deflated but in the game

Last week, On Tuesday, October 24th, I did an FB live with the title Why I Believe Fortune Favours the Brave. It was intended to let people know exactly why that saying is so important to me, and why it is the inspiration for my business.

Well, about five minutes after the video was posted, I wanted to take it down. I was overcome with complete certainty that a) it sucked and b) I didn’t really say anything of value and c) what was the point of doing any of this? I mean, no one was even watching it live! And top it off, I had what Brené Brown calls a ‘vulnerability hangover’ - though I am not sure why as I really didn’t reveal that much about myself, contrary to my original intention of the video.

But as it turns out, I am really, really having a tough time putting myself out there. I thought it would be easier. I thought since I at least don’t have a fear of public speaking that I would be much more comfortable sharing tidbits about my life and business online. Nope. Turns out it is brutally hard for me. In fact, the whole reason I am putting this insight into a blog post is that I just couldn’t face doing another FB live video today (I am writing this the day after I posted the video I’m referring to). I feel too deflated and I am allowing myself a very minor, temporary pity party.

I am someone who likes people to think I have my shit together. And, in many ways, I do. I really do. But in some ways I don’t, just like the rest of the world. We all consciously know that even the most accomplished, successful people still have issues of course, but we can’t help wonder if we are more screwed up than them and have moments of ‘oh fuck, I don’t know what the hell I am doing’.

So, why didn’t I take the video down?

I took a deep breath and rationally looked at the situation.

While the video was not as illuminating as I would have liked, it was not horrible. And I did three things I am proud of:

I showed up.

I followed through with a goal.

I faced my fear of FB lives.

My ability to quickly put things in perspective is thanks to the coaches I have hired and the billion personal development books I have read. I was rationally able to reason with myself and see the positive side to this story. I was also able to be kind to myself. The night I did the video I was a definitely tired and honestly, not feeling a huge bolt of inspiration. So is it any wonder the video fell kinda flat? No, not at all.

Also, the fact is, I am a business, marketing, branding and design expert but I am NOT YET an online maven. I am NOT YET an FB live superstar. I am NOT YET a coach with decades of experience under my belt. I have a long, long way to go. And that is ok. In fact, it is more than ok. It is awesome. Because it means I have more juicy goals yet to accomplish, and each time I go for them I will be becoming a better coach, entrepreneur and person. I do, with all my heart, believe this to be true.

Thanks for hanging around for what will likely be a bumpy, badass ride.

To your brave success,
Alana

LET THE CHIPS FALL WHERE THEY MAY

We hear many sayings or idioms over and over again, but ever had one of those moments when you hear one for the millionth time and they suddenly, you just get it? Like the words sink it to your pores and it resonates to your core?

That has happened to me twice in recent memory. In both cases, it almost felt like a cartoon lightning bolt striking my head, or the bop to the head like in those old V8 commercials.

Today I’m going to write about the time my friend Annie was trying to help me navigate a family situation I was wrapped up in. I was waist-deep in a scenario full of drama, stress and tough decisions. There just didn’t seem to be an easy way to get through this situation without someone being hurt or pissed off. Exasperated, Annie looked at me and just said,

“Well, let the chips fall where they may”.

And I was like “Yup, those chips are just gonna have to fall their little hearts out”.

There was suddenly a level of acceptance I hadn’t felt before. Or rather, a weariness that had taken over my body and soul which left me unable to fight anymore. I was not going to be completely consumed by the fear of shitstorms happening. I was going to stop freaking out and let go of thoughts like “Well, then she is going to do this! And then he is going to say that! And then I’m going to look like a such and such!”

For some reason on that one day in Annie's kitchen, I decided not to care where the chips - or the emotional shit - was going to land. I was just going to let it all happen and relinquish control.

Most of the time, we are freaking out about what MIGHT happen, and it rarely does. Or it isn’t as bad as we think. Or, on rare occasions, the results are actually WORSE, but they lead to something amazing or transformative and were necessary stumbling blocks to navigate.

We simply cannot control everything and everyone around us. I know, it seems so obvious you might be wondering why I am bothering to write this. But in those tough moments when family is screaming or a client is freaking out, we need to remind ourselves of this. As long as we are making the decision we feel best about in that moment, then we just have to let those chips fall. I am definitely NOT recommending you make rash decisions without regard for others’ feelings. No, I am saying we have to let go of always wondering HOW things will transpire and WHAT the consequences will be. Simply because an obsession with HOW and WHAT paralyzes us, makes us doubt our true values, and stops us from expressing ourselves authentically.

What is so interesting is that I often think of Annie saying this phrase to me whenever I am in a touch decision-making moment. And it is so liberating. It allows me to take a step back and yet move forward at the same time. I even picture myself throwing my hands up in the air - with a bit of Delta Burke sass - and purposefully walking away with confidence in my decision and compassion in my heart.

To your brave success,
Alana

FUN FACT :: The idiom “Let the chips fall where they may” apparently comes from the world of logging - at least the internet says so! When you chop down a tree using an ax, every time you hit the tree, pieces of wood - the chips - scatter about. While you are cutting, you do not worry about the various chips flying around; you don't really care where they land. (Source here)

When to rebrand

So you have a business.

And that business is doing okaaaay, but not really as awesome as you would like it to be. And - le sigh - every time you look at your website or business card you feel something just 'isn't right'.

Sooooo.... is it time for a rebrand?

Well, let's first define rebrand. A rebrand is creating an entirely new look for your business, with new messaging as well. This includes a new logo, graphics, website, photography, copy, and a fab new marketing strategy. It can be a Big. Effing. Deal.

Meanwhile, you can also do a refresh.

A refresh is a term used in the design/marketing industry to basically say 'Ya, we are going to update things, but it won't be totally, totally different.' It is like keeping the bones of an old house but replastering the walls and adding modern furniture. A refresh typically involves refining typography or changing a font, modifying colours, and/or updating photography. The brand maintains the same core feel, but it is updated to reflect current trends and styles. 

The need to rebrand or refresh is often real, but I write this post to warn you of one very key business secret:

No matter how amazing the branding, it will not save a crappy business from eventually tanking.

At the end of the day, in order to succeed, you have to have a killer product or offer something truly needed and loved by others.

This is why some multi-million dollar companies have 'meh' branding and thrive (think Costco - I mean, that logo is hideous but definitely legible!). While I do believe you absolutely need awesome branding to reach full potential, you can actually coast for a while with mediocre branding IF your business offers an incredible product, is reaching millions of customers AND resonates with your ideal client.

To help you decide if the time has come for you to rebrand, here is when I think yes, you SHOULD rebrand.

  • You have changed the focus of your business completely. For example, you have a makeup line that is all natural and vegan. Previously you marketed to baby boomers who wanted an all-natural look, but now you see an opportunity to capture the millennial market which is all about saving the planet. Totally different marketing is needed.
  • You are getting consistent feedback from customers that they couldn't find you online, or didn't know that you sold (fill in the blank). If customers are confused or not interested, that is a red flag.
  • Your logo is dated and illegible. I got no time for ugly and neither should you.
  • You have changed your company name.
  • You have proof that people love your product or service, but they are not buying. This could also be a pricing issue, or simply your mindset as an entrepreneur. This one is't black and white.

And here is when I think you SHOULD NOT rebrand:

  • You are bored with your business. Sorry, not a good enough reason. I got bored of looking at my own branding two months into this new business venture but too bad - suck it up, buttercup. Consistency is key to developing a successful brand so you have to keep going with it and learn to love it for a long, long time.
  • Your cousin Vinnie says it is not cool. Cousin Vinnie can get back in his rusty Ford Taurus and head home. Pronto.
  • You have already rebranded multiple times in the last couple years, and you are not seeing a change in your bottom line or your personal confidence. This is a sign there is a MUCH bigger problem lurking beneath the surface of a shiny new logo. This level of indecisiveness and flip-flopping is fatal. Chances are you business doesn't need a rebrand, you need to regroup.

I hope this gives you some golden nuggets to consider. I always have to ask clients WHY they feel driven to make a change in their business. Is there evidence and proof that it is needed? Are customers complaining? What does your gut say? While there is so much to consider, remember that whether you choose to rebrand, refresh or stay exactly as you are, there are always people out there to make the process easier AND help you become the million dollar brand you know you are.

To your brave success,
Alana

PS :: If you are thinking of a rebrand, be sure to read my FREE ebook 8 Tips for Hiring a Designer You Love - available for instant download!