Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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2019 In Review

Kristi Porter's 2019 in ReviewIs anyone else still finding it hard to believe that we’re halfway through February of 2020? A new year, a new decade. Here we are.

Yet, I’m still writing 2019 on everything. Still settling in. Anyone else?

And, I don’t know about you, but I’m still reflecting on last year. It’s super easy to plunge head-long into moving forward, but to properly steward what’s ahead, I need a good grasp on what is behind. I need learn its lessons, so I can avoid the same mistakes.

Well, who am I kidding? There’s probably some of that in my future anyway, as hard-headed as I am, but I’m gonna try.

Here are some of last year’s highlights and lessons:

HEALTH

If you’re new around here, I’ve had chronic health issues since April 2012. Most of them stem from severe adrenal fatigue, but that same year I also got mono and had my gallbladder removed. Dealing with all of these things within a few months of each other devastated my immune system, and I’ve been trying to rebuild it ever since. Additionally, since I’ve had health problems for so long, it’s caused other issues now and again, such as with my thyroid.

So, yep, I get to deal with the general peskiness of getting older along with this kind of junk. Not fun.

Anyway, I try and treat everything naturally. It’s more time-consuming and certainly expensive, but for things like adrenal fatigue, there is no pill. And, when using medication, you’re also primarily treating symptoms anyway, not root issues.

But that’s how I got here. It’s involved a lot of natural treatments, and a whole lot of supplements.

One thing that went well for my health last year was my supplements. We’re always fiddling with them and trying new ones. And I feel like we hit a good (but expensive) mix last year. I certainly still have a lot of ups and downs, but overall, I noticed an improvement—and that’s very good news. I’ll take any improvements I can get.

Also, I started using the Noom app last year. Due to my health issues, it’s harder for me to lose weight, so it’s been a real struggle, both internally and externally. And, of course, I have very little energy on a lot of days, which means exercise is almost nonexistent. But after I got my supplements in good order, I felt like it was time to try again.

I’ve given Noom a try and lost about 12 pounds in the last four months. It’s a slow process, but I have to admit, it’s good to see some movement on the scale and in my clothes. I’m going to keep at it. (My link saves you 20% if you want to try it.)

All in all, it’s progress for my health, and that’s a very good thing.

PERSONAL

Honestly, this is the part of my life that gets the least attention. For better or worse, that’s how it is for me, at least for now.

Since I’m self-employed and work from home, my job takes up a lot of my time and energy, and most days, there’s not a lot left over. I have incredible friends, but I don’t get to see them all that often. Weekends are usually about rest because of working long hours and needing to recover for the sake of my health before the next work week starts.

To some people, that may sound sad. To others, highly relatable. To me, it is what it is.

Anytime I get together with friends, they tend to reiterate a lot of what I’m saying, even though many of them have spouses and kids. People, in general, seem disconnected. It’s become a little cliche to say that we even though we live in a highly-connected world, many people feel disconnected—but I still find it to be mostly true from the conversations I have.

I’m grateful for every time I get to see family and friends, but those are small moments throughout the year.

TRAVEL

Travel is a part of both my personal and work life, so I’m sandwiching it in-between. Travel is one of my absolute favorite things, but I didn’t get to do much of it last year.

2018 was a BIG travel year for me (England/Ireland/Scotland and cross-country by Amtrak, to name a few), so I needed to reign it in last year. Plus, pretty much all of my travel points were gone, ha!

So, last year, I took quick trips to Blue Ridge, Birmingham, and Chattanooga for my quarterly work retreats, and of course, I went to Texas for the holidays as usual, but that’s about it.

I’m not quite sure what 2020 has in store for travel just yet, but I certainly hope I can squeeze in a few more trips this year.

WORK

As someone who is self-employed, this is where I focus a lot of my time. I often work long hours, and it’s certainly not filled with long lunches, trips to the beach, and doing whatever I want—no matter what many people advertise. Again, maybe one day. 🙂

I talk to a lot of entrepreneurs, and my journey seems to be fairly typical. Last year marked three years in business for me, and it’s been quite a ride! According to myself and friends in similar situations, the first two-ish years is all about holding on for dear life and saying yes to everything possible.

The third-ish year is about getting your business model solidified, learning what you like to work on, making sure you have good systems and process in place to keep you moving forward. That’s certainly true for me.

In 2019, I took three online classes for my business. I’m a bit of a compulsive course-buyer, so this was me showing some restraint. 😉

The first class, The Blueprint Model, was about becoming a better business owner. I freely admit that I’m someone who turned a marketable skill (writing) into a business, not someone who had a good head for business and tried to figure out what I should do. The Blueprint Model really helped me with the financial side, which is what I really needed, but also just helped me understand the business-side of my business better. That meant I became a more confident business owner.

The second class was called Partnership Accelerator, and only lasted a month. But it was an extremely packed month! Because my word for 2019 was Synergy, I wanted to work on my understand of partnerships and really use those to my business advantage. The class was really good, but different than I thought it would be. So, it required a change in expectations. Overall, though, I learned a lot and was able to apply that knowledge going forward. And I’m still learning a lot from that company.

The third class was totally unplanned, to be honest, but ended up being awesome. One of the things I decided that I wanted to work on in the latter half of the year was Search Engine Optimization (SEO). That’s because it is a total grind to constantly go out and find new clients. I wanted more clients to come to me, and SEO is a good way to do that.

I heard Meg Casebolt on a podcast, and she was the first person who actually made SEO easy to understand for me. So, I took her free SEOctober challenge, and low and behold, ended up getting a new client via Google that same month! As you can imagine, I was hooked. I poured myself into the challenge, and ending up winning a spot into her Attract & Activate course. I’ve learned a ton over the past couple of months from her, and am excited to now implement this strategy into my business.

Outside of those classes, yes, I did actually manage to get work done. In fact, it was my most profitable year yet! Only, by about $1,100, but I’ll take it, ha!

These three classes, sustaining relationships, and lots of networking were the key to my success last year. And I think they laid a really solid foundation for 2020. I’m still reaping their benefits for sure, and hope to improve on them. (More on this soon!)

Last year was a pivotable year for my company, Signify, and I hope that I can keep up the momentum going. I’m certainly trying hard.

CONCLUSION

So, that’s some insight into last year. As always, it was busy and went quickly. But I’m grateful for the lessons learned, new experiences, and certainly, the improvements along the way.

How was 2019 for you?


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My 2019 Reading List

Books I Read in 2019

The last, few years since I became an entrepreneur have been wonderful in many ways, but my reading has certainly tapered off, which I don’t like. When I had a long commute, I could easily get through audiobooks in the car, but I’ve had to be a lot more intentional since working from home.

In 2019, I wanted to recommit to reading more, and that meant Kindle. Believe it or not, I don’t actually love to read. I love to learn, and that’s why Audible was so important to me. It made it so much easier to read books while driving—and there’s a lot of that here in Atlanta.

However, if I wanted to read more last year, it meant I’d have to re-commit to Kindle. I’ve tried to get into the habit of reading about a chapter per night, which has been good for my bedtime routine. Overall, I’ve enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and am even giving Kindle Unlimited a try.

I didn’t really increase the number of books I read much from my total count in 2018, but I’m making progress. I think 2020 will be a good year for reading, though!

“Leaders are readers” and “leaders are learners” are two messages that have been instilled in me over the years, and I know reading also makes me a better writer. So, as much as I enjoy podcasts, I want to make sure reading stays on my radar. And that means being thoughtful about it.

Of course, it’s never as much about the quantity of books as it is the quality. Luckily, I found some terrific options. Take a look for yourself . . .

 

Books I read in 2019:

 

Here are some of my favorite podcasts from last year:

 

I was even on a few podcasts last year:

 

Need more suggestions?

2018 Reading List

2017 Reading List

2016 Reading List

2015 Reading List

2014 Reading List

2013 Reading List

2012 Reading List

2011 Reading List

 

Short on time, too? Try Blinkist, which recaps popular books in 10 minutes!

Enjoy!

 

PS: Some links are affiliate links, which means I get a small kick back for introducing awesome people to awesome things. I only promote what I love. 


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Are You a Business Owner Just Trying to Figure It All Out?

nathan-dumlao-aZ9X3L1Va2Y-unsplashIf you’re a fellow small business owner, I bet you didn’t start your organization because you wanted to run a business. Sure, maybe you wanted some of the independence and freedom of making your own time-management decisions, but it wasn’t the allure of bookkeeping, IT trouble-shooting, learning to be a fundraiser and/or marketer, or navigating human resources that drew you to this life.

Instead, you wanted to do something you’re passionate about and make a difference. I do, too.

Unfortunately, though, all the other stuff comes with the territory—at least in the beginning as you bootstrap and do it all yourself.

And, if that’s the case, then (like me), you have those days where running a business feels overwhelming. There’s also a lot of self-doubt.

You may even wondered if your side gig will ever become your full-time career, if you’ll ever really make the impact you desire, or frankly, if you’ll even be doing this a year from now.

Been there.

I don’t know about you, but my self-doubt can be crippling. I’ve had many discouraging days where I just didn’t feel like I was cut out to run a business. In fact, “I don’t know how to run a business” was just one of the many lies I told myself. I’m a writer—and that’s the only part of it that came naturally to me.

But as a fellow founder, we also have to, well, run a business, right? Making a difference is the result of many things, including learning the fundamentals that set you up for long-term success. This is part of the foundation that helps determine your future.

It’s also where I felt unprepared and unequipped. And I knew that I wouldn’t make it to Signify’s next anniversary unless I got my proverbial house in order.

That’s where I found myself when I discovered Shanna Skidmore.

As someone who has always had trouble with math and numbers, I honestly just thought I’d never be able to understand it. But I also knew if I didn’t come to terms with that and find a better way forward, my business would continually suffer from my self-doubt. And, one thing’s for sure…that does no one any good.

I’ve read books, taken courses, and listened to other money gurus, but it still just never sunk in. However, with Shanna, I found a coach that could not only break down finances in a way that made it easier to understand, but show me the steps to take for sustainability in my business.

Shanna’s specialty is teaching finances to female creatives, and with her help, I’ve made some big strides this year. Not just in my bank account, but in my confidence as a business owner.

I feel empowered and equipped, and like I have a plan to work from. It’s made a huge difference, and I wish I would’ve met Shanna a couple of years ago.

Because here’s the big truth I’ve learned in the last, few months:

It’s not just about being able to ask for money when you need it, whether it’s from a customer or donor, it’s about understanding WHY that particular number matters, and what it will ultimately mean both for you personally as well as your organization and cause.

For us, this isn’t about retiring to our own private island. It’s about solving problems.

Money is as much a mental game as it is a physical currency. And if you don’t have a good relationship to money, you’ll never handle it well. You’ll never have the impact you could have otherwise.

Whew—that’s just some of what I’ve been learning this year! That is, in part, thanks to Shanna.

If you’d like to hear more of her approach to business finances, I encourage you to check out her FREE masterclass TOMORROW AT 1:30 PM EST, “How I Built A Six-Figure Business.”

I’m planning to be there to soak up the goodness myself. I hope you’ll join me, whether you’re a woman who runs a for-profit or a nonprofit organization.

Shanna’s a smart cookie, and as you can see, has helped me in my business tremendously. So, I hope you’ll give her a chance. And, really, what have you got to lose?

Register for the free “How I Built A Six-Figure Business” masterclass right now, and prepare to become a better business owner.

I want that for you, and you’ll see that Shanna does, too.

Plus, who can’t use some free advice?

 

Quick note for my nonprofit friends: While Shanna’s content is primarily geared to female entrepreneurs of for-profit businesses, nonprofit founders have also found success with Shanna’s methods. In fact, here’s Signify community member, Chantel Adams of Forever We, with her perspective:

“Blueprint Model gave me clarity on not only why I’m doing the work I’m doing, but also how I’m going to move forward to make it successful. I have more energy, ideas, and focus than ever before. If you want a real blueprint for making your business work for you, then this program is the best.”

You’ll have to do some creative thinking with some of the principles in how they relate to your nonprofit, but it can be done. I guarantee you’ll still find a lot of value in Shanna’s teaching.

 


UPDATE 8/8/19:

Shanna’s entire suite of business programs is on sale through 8/15/19!

As a reminder, this is the LAST TIME she’ll be offering her programs! I wish I’d known about Shanna three years ago when I started my business, but I’m glad I took her course when I did.

If numbers and finances confuse you, but you want to start or scale a profitable, life-giving business, now’s the time!

 

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”
– C.S. Lewis

 


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8 Of My Favorite Ways to Save Money Online

sam-truong-dan-627874-unsplash

Love a good deal? Me, too!

And I know many of us are always looking to save a buck. So, if that’s you, listen up! I’ve got some great tips on how to do that with just a few keystrokes.

Frankly, I’m not much of a coupon clipper. And like a lot of us these days, I do most of my shopping online…which means I need to do my savings online as well.

Let’s face it, I also want it to be easy. I’m willing to put out some effort, but like you, I’m busy. Meaning, I want to find ways to effortlessly and automatically save some of my hard-earned cash.

The good news is that I have indeed found handful that I regularly rely on, and thought you might be interested in learning about them as well.

So, here are a few of my favorite ways to save money online:

1. Trim 

I don’t know how I stumbled on to Trim, but it’s a real gem. My two favorite services include negotiating lower rates on bills and finding credits for cable bills.

For rate negotiation, Trim recently saved me and my friends $320 on our AT&T family plan for the next year. And for Comcast, they saved me over $50 last year in refunds from when there were power outages nearby (some of which I wasn’t even aware of!). They take 25% off of their savings to you, but it’s such a passive way to save money, it’s totally worth it.

By the way, you can also use Gabi, a partner of Trim’s, to compare your auto insurance with others in about two minutes. My rates were already the lowest, but I was impressed with this service regardless.

2. TrustedHousesitters.com 

Hotel bills can easily run up your vacation budget. Enter: Trusted Housesitters. With this service, you can stay in people’s homes around the world for free in exchange for watching their pets. I’ve done this a few times, and definitely plan to do it again this year.

And for those of you with pets yourselves, it’s worth signing up so that you don’t have to board your furbabies, which can also be quite expensive. I’ve even seen housesitting jobs with no pets, but where people didn’t want to leave their houses unattended while away.

FYI, these gigs can range from overnight to many months!

(Save 20% using my link.)

3. Brandless 

As you likely already know, buying “private label” brands at the grocery store is cheaper. Think Kroger brand, Trader Joe’s brand, Publix brand, IKEA, or even Amazon’s own brands.

Brandless only sells their stuff, and they keep it pretty cheap. There are definitely some great deals to be had, but pay close attention to the size of the product, which is where the deal is really found. I’ve purchased peanut butter, flax and chia seeds, salad dressing, cleaning products, and more.

Plus, for every order, they donate a free meal! And on the third of the month, they triple that! So, save a little, give a little. I can definitely get behind that.

(Save $6 using my link.)

4. Rakuten (formerly Ebates) 

You may have seen their commercials recently where they try and get people to correctly pronounce their new name. Man, I wish I lived near one of those machines that was giving out cash!

Regardless, I’ve been with Ebates since 2011, and have saved over $500 in that time. Yep, I shop mostly online. And they make it so easy with a simple browser extension. Simply click the extension when you land on a site (or shop directly from their URL), and they’ll find eligible savings for you to apply, plus give you cash back.

(Spend $25 with my link, and you’ll get $10 back.)

5. Honey 

Honey is a great alternative to Rakuten. You can’t use both of them at the same time, but between the two, you can find some terrific deals. And having both of them means you’re more likely to find savings since they sometimes work on different websites.

Each time you use their deals, you also earn Honey points which can be redeemed for gifts cards.

(Get additional Honey points with my link.)

6. Fullscript

If you take supplements, I suggest checking out Fullscript. I take quite a few every day for my chronic health issues.

Many of them I get from my naturopath, and sometimes on Amazon, but Fullscript has some quality brands and offers as well. Yes, you have to spend $50 to get free shipping, but in my case, that’s not hard to do. There are a handful of my regular supplements that I’ve found much cheaper on here than I can get from my naturopath or on Amazon.

7. Goldstar 

Live entertainment is another cost that can add up quickly, which is why I like Goldstar. You can often find cheaper tickets here than directly on the event website. Plus, if you’re attending an event with a friend, you can pay separately or add tickets later and still get seats together, which is a terrific benefit.

Oh, and for smaller, community events, they sometimes also give away freebies! So, a fun night out? Covered.

8. Amazon Prime

I couldn’t create this post without mentioning Prime. Many of us have it these days, but if you don’t, I’d tell you to consider it. I’m a huge fan.

And if you’ve been living under a rock, with Prime you get fast and free delivery, exclusive deals, and free access to Prime Video, Prime Music, Prime Wardrobe, and Prime Photo. (And more!)

Most of us thought two-day shipping was quite a treat, but they’ve recently expanded their one-day shipping and even two-hour shipping, so your impatience has been rewarded!

I also shop at Whole Foods from time-to-time, and get a discount on select items there since WF folded under their umbrella.

So, yeah, lots of stuff…

In fact, it’s hard to remember when Amazon just sold books!

(PSST—are you an EBT card holder? You can get Discounted Prime for only $5.99/mo.)

Already have Prime or want something a little different? Consider:

(Get 30 days free with my link.)

 

Whew—ok, that was quite a list! But before I go, do you want some other ideas for saving money in your life? These posts might help:

 

Any of your favorite sites that I missed? What deals have you found?


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Solopreneur and Small Business Resources

Solopreneur and Small Business ResourcesIf you’ve ever had a conversation with me, you know I love recommending resources of all kinds. From podcasts to books to products to events—and everything in-between—if I know something that would interest you or that I think you should know about, I feel compelled to share it!

In fact, I have a Resource List on my business website for this very reason. But my clients are primarily nonprofits, social enterprises, and other cause-focused organizations. While this is, of course, awesome, I also know about a lot of resources that aren’t a great fit for them as well. And those items don’t live in any organized place like my business Resource List.

So, for the sake of my other solopreneurs and small business friends (and my sanity), I thought I’d go ahead and include them all here for easy access.

Note: There are obviously a lot of other options besides what I’ve listed below, but these are the ones I refer again and again, as well as have personal experience with. And anything with a * means it’s one of my favorites!

BOOKS

 

PODCASTS

 

EMAIL LISTS

 

CONFERENCES

 

FREELANCE RATES

 

SOFTWARE

 

OTHER BUSINESS TOOLS

 

SAVING MONEY

  • Trim is negotiates lower bills for me
  • Ebates for money back while online shopping
  • Honey for online coupon codes
  • Fetch for saving money on grocery bills (referral code RM8DK)
  • iBotta for saving money on grocery bills ($20 referral bonus)
  • This post on saving money on medical bills
  • Medi-Share for health sharing plans
  • Check out my Travel Hacking 101 post for tips on how I travel to conferences cheaply.

 

MISC

 

And if you are a nonprofit, social enterprise, or other cause-focused organization, you can find more great resources for your business on Signify’s site! 😉

What am I missing? What would help you? What do you need?

PS: If this has been helpful, would you mind sharing it with another solopreneur or small business owner?

 

 

Some links are affiliate links, which means I get a little somethin’ somethin’ for telling you about them. However, I only promote things I know and love!