Make Your Own Damn Sandwich, Part 2

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

Make Your Own Damn Sandwich: Knowing When NOT To Delegate

There are times when we fail to delegate, and other times when we delegate too much or too often. Translation: being lazy, or, sometimes, being fearful of the unknown. In today’s American society, our “microwave” culture is used to instant results, instant gratification, and instant solutions. But most good things take time–time that we personally need to invest into a project or job.

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When I taught junior high, some of my students were big-time offenders, delegating too often (or just not doing something at all). Sometimes, they expected me or their parents to give them the answers! I often used our class time to create teaching moments where I empowered them to think for themselves and do for themselves, while still understanding the need for and importance of community. I focused on values like teamwork and integrity, and would explain that integrity means doing what you say you’re going to do.

Happily, most of my students “got it,” especially after having me as a teacher for 3 years in a row. They rose to my expectations and escaped becoming part of the Me Generation statistics.

This lazy spirit doesn’t just affect the younger generation. Sadly, I’ve witnessed many adults doing the bare minimum to get by, or over-delegating tasks in order to take the easy road. No wonder my students acted the way they did! They were just following the example set before them.

I think we can and should change that. 

Here’s my take on when NOT to delegate:

  • When you’re really good at the task at hand. If this is a job or project that’s aligned with your top strengths and skill set, just do it! It’s not about getting all the glory, but rather about doing what you’re good at.
  • If the process of getting the job done will be more efficient if you do it. There are certain tasks that we loathe to do. I, for one, do not always enjoy organizing things–my stuff, or others’. But you know what? I’m really damn good at it and I’ll do what needs to be done in that area if it’ll make things go by quickly.

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  • If you’ll waste time by teaching someone else how to complete the project. Here’s a non-conventional example: I used to own a knitted apparel business and I needed some help from my friends to meet a large order. I was knitting clutch bags and had to figure out how to best meet the demand. My friends knew how to knit, but I had a specific design and pattern I was following and would have wasted time by teaching them how to finish each clutch the way I did. However, I also knew they could sew linings into the clutches and add some finishing touches–things I wasn’t excited about doing. So, rather than delegate everything, I chose specific tasks for them to finish. Had I waited on them to finish the bulk of the product, I would never have met my deadline.
  • If you can do it, but you’re just being lazy. Yes, we should be generous with one another and perform acts of service out of the goodness of our hearts, BUT we also need to know where to draw the boundary line. If we are capable of doing the task, and have the time and the skills, then we should just buck up and get it done.  

 

  • If it scares you, but you’re totally capable of doing it. Sometimes, we need to learn a new skill or embark on an adventure. Being out of our comfort zone can be very scary, but when we’re vulnerable and have an open mind, we often learn more from the experience. (And, in the end, we feel good about doing something different.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this 2-part post about delegation. If you haven’t had a chance to read part 1, click HERE to do so. And, for pure entertainment, you can click HERE to see: 18 GIFS That Are Lazier Than You by BuzzFeed.

Make Your Own Damn Sandwich, Part 1

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

Make Your Own Damn Sandwich: Knowing When TO Delegate

Free Stock Images: Salad Roll Picture. Image: 205579
© Photographer Max Blain | Agency: Dreamstime.com

The topic of delegation is so important to me that I thought this post needed the extra title right above ^. Delegation is a much discussed topic, and still many leaders, employers, and business owners have yet to master the “art” of delegation. And it’s not for a lack of resources. Google “the art of delegation” or “how to delegate,” and you’ll get pages and pages of pertinent search results. Some articles even hail from the Harvard School of Business and Forbes.

Yet, knowing WHEN to delegate is entirely different than actually delegating. We can read about this so-called art form till the Zombie Apocalypse, but if we  never identify the situations in which we should actually act upon delegating, we’ll be stuck in micro-manager and burnout mode. 

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Here’s my take on how to identify those circumstances in which you should delegate:

  1. If someone can do it better. This is a no-brainer. If there is a team member or freelancer who is better than you at a particular task that needs to get done, give the task to them. It saves you time, makes you look good, and will get done right the first time.
  2. If the task or project takes away from what you’re really good at. As your career develops, you begin to identify the things in which you really shine–the strengths that you have which greatly contribute to your business. Don’t engage in projects that are a mismatch for your strengths and amplify your weak areas. Instead, find someone who can do said task and let them tackle it.
  3. If you just don’t know how to do it (and shouldn’t waste time learning how). Sometimes, it’s a good thing to learn a new skill for our job. But other times, it’s just a bad idea. If you are crunched for time and want to be efficient in getting something done, delegate the unknown to someone who knows how.
  4. If delegating will make you and your brand better. If you can afford to hire an expert, then do it! Give a job to someone who can partner with you and your company, making you look good while you focus on other important tasks.
  5. If you need (more) time to get essential things done. Just because you can do something (or many things) doesn’t mean that you should. Part of brand-building includes being efficient. And being efficient often means appropriately delegating tasks to others. Find someone you trust to get the job done and focus on the other things that matter most to your brand and your message.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at when NOT to delegate, so be sure to come back for that.

What are some ways you’ve learned how to know when to delegate? Feel free to share in the comments.

Articles to read that are about the art of delegation:

6 Tips to Master the Art of Delegation by Nellie Akalp

Be a Healthy Leader, Master The Art Of Delegation by Amanda Ebokosia

The Art of Delegation: 11 Ways to Work Smarter Today by Emily Copp

Monday Motivation: MLK Jr. Special

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

If MLK, Jr. were still alive today, I believe he’d still be holding large-scale rallies to promote acceptance of others; only, people would be tweeting about them and creating Facebook events. But what does acceptance and MLK, Jr. have to do with business? More than you might think, actually.

Acceptance plays a key role in developing a business or organization. It helps leaders to be better listeners as they keep an open mind to new ideas. It helps our jobs become a place where diversity–in all aspects–is celebrated. NOT tolerated, but celebrated. It helps to break down culture and communication barriers as peers learn how to work in harmony with one another, creating a healthy workplace. And most importantly, it encourages everyone to think outside the proverbial box in order to generate better solutions to pressing issues.

That being said, here are two great articles to read, aligned with the theme of MLK, Jr., acceptance, and business lessons we can learn from the man who coined, “I have a dream…”

1. Martin Luther King by Jack E. White of TIME Magazine

Summary: This is a great article from the 90’s (vintage!) about Dr. King. It touches on a brief history of the the Civil Rights Movement, and MLK, Jr.’s cause. White reminds us of the ever-growing need for equality in the present, stating that King was demanding justice–not citing some “…Hallmark card-style version of Brotherhood.”

2. 5 Entrepreneurship Lessons from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Joseph Steinberg of Forbes

Summary: This article is especially encouraging for entrepreneurs and dreamers alike. He analyzes some aspects of King’s life and cause, and gives us 5 important lessons as a takeaway. Though this article focuses more on the business side of things, Steinberg does mention the issues of racism and prejudice.

Today, I personally am taking some time to reflect on the things that Martin Luther King, Jr. did for humanity. I’m also taking the time to reflect on what that means for me as a business owner and human citizen. It makes me angry and appalled to think about the problem of racism, lack of acceptance, and prejudice that still exists all around us. And it’s not just in the U.S.; it’s everywhere.

I think that being a leader–whether in business or otherwise–demands something greater to surface from me than just seeing “results” or “success.” I think it has more to do with responsibility to my fellow man more than I realize. I believe that caring for one another and striving to make the world a better place through our passions and talents are at the heart of good business practices. And that’s something I can learn from the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

My mantra/coin phrase as a fiction author is: “Always dream big.” That’s what Dr. King told us to do. To dream big about the future while we discover how to change the world and its bad practices.

So, whether you’re a business owner, manager, employee, stay-at-home-mom/dad, student…whatever you do as a vocation…I’d like to encourage you to dream big and take some time today to reflect on lessons you can learn from Martin Luther King, Jr. and how you can implement them into your every day life. Enjoy the day and create some amazing opportunities for yourself and your fellow man.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons.

Should You Listen to Naysayers?

Part of being an entrepreneur involves receiving negative or discouraging comments from others. When I decided to freelance and quit my job, giving up a steady paycheck, I heard things like, “Is there any money in copywriting or editing?” and “But how are you going to pay your bills?” and “Wow…that’s a tough industry. Good luck.”

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Rather than tell them off, I held my tongue, smiled, and said, “It’s actually a great industry and there’s lots to keep me busy.” Then I went my merry way and launched my business. I’ve never been a follower, anyway, and I was so ready to do my own thing. But sometimes, I think it’s important to listen to the so-called naysayers.

The only problem is: When should you listen to them and when should you ignore them?

Let’s break it up and analyze:

When you should NOT listen

  • If your endeavor involves risk, but there’s lots of opportunity for you
  • If it’s something you’ve been dreaming about and know how to make happen
  • If you are ready to put in the hard work, have the resources you need, and are willing to make sacrifices (especially financially)
  • If you just feel ready for the change and have been making steps to reach your goal
  • If that person’s “caution” or “words of wisdom” to you are just their own fears and doubts

Don’t let your fears–or the fears of someone else, for that matter–hold you back from going after your passions. When you do what you love, and you can figure out how to make it work for you, then go after it without looking back.

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When you should listen

  • If what you’re about to do is incredibly dangerous and you could lose your life (even then, I know some daredevils will go for it)
  • If what you’re planning to do is incredibly stupid (like buying a magical bean that will grown a giant beanstalk)
  • If you haven’t taken the time to plan things out (preparation is the key to success)
  • If you have some life issues (emotional or physical disabilities) that cause an incredible hindrance to your daily well-being
  • If you know you’re not ready, but you’re letting pride cloud your sound judgement

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Just because someone advises you to reconsider choices you are about to make doesn’t mean that you have to completely forget the idea. Rather, it means that you should at least think about their “advice” and ask yourself if there is any credibility to what they’ve told you. Sometimes, it’s hard to remove our ego and we develop this personal vendetta to prove everyone wrong at any cost. Don’t do something just to show others you’re right.

Take every piece of advice with a grain of salt. The best thing to do? Find people who are passionate, like you, and are successful entrepreneurs/business leaders/etc. and ask them if you can buy them some coffee in exchange for an hour of their time. Pick their brains, ask them questions, find out how they became successful. Surrounding yourself with people who are like-minded can help you as you make business and life decisions.

So, heed the naysayers, but weigh your choices with sound judgement and advice from those whom you admire and trust. Don’t let the Negative Nellies get you down; create the life of your dreams by taking some risk. It just may be the best thing you’ve ever done.

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Monday Motivation: Read This Cool Stuff II

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

It’s Monday! I have 3 great articles to share with you all. They’re all from HubSpot today and focus on marketing, blogging, and LinkedIn groups–all great stuff.

So grab a coffee, sit back, and take some time to read these articles and become motivated for another work week.

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Yummy coffee to start the day off right.

1. 10 Phenomenal Blogs in Totally Boring Industries by Ginny Soskey at HubSpot

Summary: The title pretty much says it all. 10 awesome blogs that are doing something right, despite their businesses’ reputation for being “boring.” A great read.

2. A Practical Guide to Planning a Successful Inbound Marketing Campaign by Meghan Keaney Anderson at HubSpot

Summary: Again, the title tells what this post is about. I’ve been using the term “Inbound Marketing” lately, so if you still don’t know what that means, then definitely take a look at this post. It lays everything out in simple terms.

3. 20 LinkedIn Groups Every Marketer Should Join by Brittany Leaning at HubSpot

Summary: Obviously, this post shows you great groups to join on LinkedIn. But don’t let the “Marketer” part deter you from reading this article. EVERY business owner and entrepreneur is a marketer in her or his own right. Marketing is for everyone, and it doesn’t hurt to join a group of experts who can share nuggets of wisdom with you–for free. I get more out of groups like these than any marketing class I ever took in college.

I hope you enjoy these articles and feel motivated to tackle some business this week. Here’s a great quote to leave you with some inspiration:

“Whatever the mind of man [and woman] can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” –Napoleon Hill

Monday Motivation: Read This Cool Stuff I

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

It’s Monday, which means it’s the start of a new work week. For many, Mondays are probably the most blasé day of the week. Here are three posts to start your week off right and get you motivated for things you have to tackle.

I know...Mondays are hard. Cry Baby by Jan Tik via Flikr Creative Commons

I know…Mondays are hard.
Cry Baby by Jan Tik via Flikr Creative Commons

Punch those Monday Blues in the stomach and read this cool stuff:

1. 5 Tips for Content Marketing Success by Jeff Bullas

Synopsis: 5 Tips (obviously) that break down what it takes to create meaningful content and marketing that will transcend all the boring junk, and please current clients while attracting new ones.

2. The Top 75 Must-Read Online Marketing Blogs by Kristi Hines from Unbounce

Synopsis: More than a plethora of awesome blogs that will give your marketing resource (digital) library quite a boost.

3. 24 Invaluable Skills To Learn For Free Online This Year by Summer Anne Burton of Buzzfeed

Synopsis: Still trying to figure out your goals for the year? Check out this awesome list and get motivated!

Wishing you all a lovely week. Now, get out there and kick Monday’s ass!

It Takes a Village to Raise a Book

(NOTE: Revised on 7/22/14. I forgot to add the part about connecting with my designer!)

I’ve been writing consistently for over five years now. I am just about to release my second book and am currently writing two more books, hoping to release them this year or early next year. And now, with my writing/editing/publishing business, I’ve been publishing clients for almost a year now—which, by publishing, I mean that I provide self-editing services similar to how my own books are published. It’s a lot of work, and it takes a team of people, but it’s fun and I’m passionate about what I do for a living.

Many people, who are interested in the process of bringing a book to life (and to the shelves), have asked me about the process of “raising a book.” To me, my books are like my children, and as the saying goes: “It takes a village.”

Because I get asked about the process so often, I thought it’d be prudent to write a post about it. This doesn’t mean that this is the end all or the “right” way to get a book out there, but it’s what works for me—and for some of my other writer friends. So, if you want to know how it works, pay close attention and take notes if you must. :)

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Step 1: Write the story.

This is the “duh” part. Obviously, you need to write a story first to make anything happen. However, the “how” part in this step is different for everyone.

I outline every book I write, but I don’t stick to it religiously. Sometimes, I’m very organic about the flow of my story, and sometimes I need to free write in my journal to help shape the next parts of the story. I’ve read about other writers who LOVE their outline, and about others who are more free-spirited with their writing—like me.

My first book, second edition.

My first book, second edition.

Step 2: Blog some teasers.

The more you grow your readership, the more important it is to keep up with fans and share some previews/snippets of your work. I admit that I’m not always the best at this, especially because I run a business AND have to figure out how to squeeze in my stuff every day. But, I have been sharing more teasers for my soon-to-be-released book, compared to my first book.

Posting teasers, etc., starts building up the hype for your book and (hopefully) gets people excited about the new “baby” you are creating.

Step 3: Design a great cover.

Let’s be real: visuals are everything, especially nowadays. Luckily, I have a great group of designers who help me with my projects–personal and business. For my second book’s cover, I hired an amazing designer, Andrew Beach, who made my ideas come to life. Though I’m an artist and can draw, I could not tell you the first thing about digital graphic design. So, even while the story is still developing, I have my designer begin to build the cover. You can see book two’s cover at the end of this post.

Step 4: Self-edit, revise, rewrite.

When I wrote my first book, it took me longer to write than my second. This is often true of most writers, but for various reasons. Part of what kept adding to my delay was self-editing ALL the time.

After five years, I’ve learned to stop being so meticulous as I’m writing the book, and to save self-editing for AFTER the book is finished. But, again, I want to reiterate that this might not work for everyone. It works for me, and if you’re still figuring out the best methods for yourself, try the editing and rewriting after the fact.

Step 5: Send to MY editor upon completion.

Yes, I’m an editor, and YES—I most definitely need an editor for my books. An editor who is NOT moi. Why? Because we are all biased when it comes to our babies. It is imperative to have another pair of eyes and an objective opinion for your stuff.

Fortunately, I have an incredible editor who does an amazing job with my books. I send her either a full print out of my book OR a Word file (I write everything in Word) so she can make edits.

Notes from my editor for my first book.

Notes from my editor for my first book.

Step 6: Print a “preview” proof.

I use CreateSpace as my printer/distributer. Yes, my books are published through a small publishing firm, but we all function as indie authors, and are hands on in the entire process. It’s a lot of work, but I’ve learned so much and am happy with the arrangement between my publisher and I.

For my new book, my publisher suggested I print a preview proof copy—which means that I printed a paperback version of my book while it was being edited by my editor. I was able to make even more notes/edits and catch things that were hard to see in the Word document. Then, when I finished going through the entire book, I added my changes and revisions while waiting to receive the Word document back from my editor.

MY edits in my book proof.

MY edits in my book proof.

Step 7: Go through editor’s edits.

This is another “duh” step, but it’s the next step in the process. Personally, I have found that a stellar editor will not only catch grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors, but will also help you develop the store (as needed) and show you where plot holes or big questions exist. My editor does all of the above AND she leaves me encouraging/funny notes as well. It makes the editing process less painful. J

Step 8: Send edited book to publisher.

My publisher also goes through my book—several times, actually. Again, having another set of eyes on my book is crucial. It’s also crucial to have a highly polished manuscript since I represent the publishing firm with my work. I go through my publisher’s notes before printing a second proof.

Step 9: Print second proof.

This is an important step. Even if you think you have caught every mistake in the manuscript, it’s vital to go through another physical proof. Why? Because we’re all human, and we all make mistakes—especially when we think things are perfect.

My book proof (book 2).

My book proof (book 2).

Step 10: Team proof.

After I receive the second proof, I hand out copies to my editor, publisher, and other English language savvy peeps. I then share a Google doc between us and we use it to track other errors in the book—including formatting issues. It can be a tedious process, but if you have a wonderful editor like I do, it’s less painful.

During this process, I may also send an electronic ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) to my beta readers and I take their notes/reactions into consideration.

Step 11: Last things before publishing.

If needed, I order another physical proof (you can order up to five proofs at a time through CreateSpace). Otherwise, I review the final electronic proof, provided by CreateSpace. During this time, I add my book and information to Goodreads and other book platforms. I also post about the “coming attraction” on my blog, etc. When everything looks as perfect as can be…

Step 12: Publish!

When you hit the “publish” button, it’s really exciting for a good five minutes, and then you get back to work. The process is never ending when you’re a writer, and that’s the plain truth.

After the paperback is ready, I start on the ebook conversion process. This has taken me a while to learn, and someday, I’ll post THAT process. When the ebook is converted, I check the proof for that as well, and then publish to KDP when it’s ready.

Step 13: Create samples.

When the big things are finished, I then create samples of my work. For example, you can upload a preview of your book to Goodreads and your website, etc. I usually include the first five chapters of my book and convert it to a PDF file. (Click for a sample PDF of Feast Island> Feast Island 2nd Edition SAMPLE) I also make a PDF review copy and put text in the beginning, indicating that it’s a review copy, not to be distributed illegally, etc.

I also make sure I revamp my website a bit at this point, in order to reflect the new release.

Step 14: Copyright.

You can secure a copyright from the United States Copyright Office to protect your work. It’s a fairly “easy” process, and you can probably expect to get your official certificate in 4-6 months.

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That’s as easy as I can break things down. I promise to elaborate more on this process later, with future blog posts. And, like I said: it never ends! You are always working when you’re a creative. Always thinking of something new. But the most important thing is that it truly does take a team to make your book happen. Without my trusted editors, readers, and fans, there’d be nothing.

The best thing you can do after you write a book is to find your trusted team members to make your dreams a reality. Be very picky about whom you choose, and if it doesn’t work out with someone, protect your “baby” by finding someone else who is better suited for you and your vision. Don’t be afraid to speak up if something needs to change, but be open to new ideas. As time goes on, you’ll find what does and doesn’t work for you.

If you haven’t seen the cover of my upcoming release, The Wrong Fairy Tale, here it is in all of it’s glory. I’ll be sure to let you all know when it’s on the market and available for purchase. Almost there!

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