Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Simply Inspirational for Women in Business™ Volume III






Edited and Published by Dr. Cheryl Cottle 

Cottle's Professional Consulting
Women in Business

2014

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Acknowledgement

I will like to acknowledge the women who contributed articles for this journal. Pat Matson, Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby, Dr. Carol Soloway, Donya Zimmerman and Tai Aracen — thanks for taking the time out from your busy lives to share in its design. I also want to thank Allison Valentine-Joseph for her short story, and Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby for her photography. I appreciate your ongoing support.

In this year’s publication, I have included some articles that came out of our Women in Business Radio program — topics that look at issues that relate to women entrepreneurs and the challenges and the dreams we have; and how maybe we can think about them to realize our personal goals. These are accompanied with pod cast of the discussions. We hope that with this audio component, you will find the publication much more interactive and find it more informing, educational and empowering. 

Thank you for your generous contributions and support of Simply Inspirational for Women in Business Journal™ 2014. Without your support the journal would not have been possible.
I also want to thank Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby for having a business profile compiled by us. Our business profiles reflect the diversity that exist in entrepreneurship and transcend every sector and industry. Our business profile for this year’s publication is a creative entrepreneur who conducts sewing, and other crafts workshops for women and girls. 

I want to also extend a heartfelt thank you to Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby and Don J. Darby for their role as Associate Editors, Layout Designers and Graphic Designers in the design and development of this journal. Your keen eyes and critical viewpoints have made this journal into the final product that it is. Thanks Yvette-Michelle and Don, for supporting me with my vision. 

Simply Inspirational for Women in Business Journal ™ was indeed a labor of love. It required a lot of love and dedication to come to fruition. I hope that our readership will gain some insights and will be inspired and motivated to work at realizing their dreams.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Dedication

This publication of Simply Inspirational for Women in Business Journal™ Volume III is dedicated to women globally — women who are part of the collective mission to make women lives, free from violence, abuse and poverty. I hope that this journal will find its way to women across the globe and will have a positive impact upon their lives. 

Simply Inspirational for Women in Business Journal™ is written by women for the empowerment of women. Every effort has been made to ensure that the presence of women is felt and seen in every aspect of the design and development of this publication. In this publication, the information contained is provided by the Editor in Chief, Dr. Cheryl Cottle and a few women who have taken the time from their busy lives to contribute an article that they believe will motivate and empower our readers. We have also introduced to the journal’s format a section for creative women, thus we also included an abbreviated short story by the author, Mrs. Valentine Joseph. 

To the women who contributed to the development of this volume, we appreciate your contribution. Without your commitment, this journal would not reflect the diversity that the editor strives for. Thanks for supporting me with my vision: to reach the world carrying goodwill and hope for a better tomorrow. I hope that by sharing this journal with the world, our readers will be informed, educated, motivated, inspired and empowered. “Individually we stand, but collaboratively we are a force that can combat any resistance; and like a rose bud, bloom into a beautiful rose. We are our best teachers, role models, leaders, motivators and agents of change."

To make my dedication more heartfelt, I want to thank my daughter Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby, for her support in keeping my Women in Business dream alive and making this journal possible. You have been my number one fan. Thanks for believing in me!

From the Editor in Chief
Dr. Cheryl Cottle

Training small business owners can conduct

Author: Dr. Cheryl Cottle

In the article entitled: The acquisition of knowledge in business gives one a competitive edge, I wrote about the methods of training and development that larger companies and organizations use to train their employees and management staff. While these methods have been traditionally used by large companies and organizations, smaller companies and small business owners can also take example and integrate an education plan into their overall business vision. Similar to larger companies and organizations, small business owners can also develop an educational philosophy as a means to educate and develop themselves and their employee; and also create a culture of learning. Like your eco-friendly plan that shows your appreciation and dedication to the preservation of the planet; let your educational philosophy also reflect how you value your employees' development. Show your appreciation for the human side or the socio-business aspect of your business goals and vision. 

Larger organization focus on conducting several types of training to meet their organization's goals and small businesses, can too. Some of the training programs conducted include, product-based training, technical training, employee-task-based process-oriented training, psychosocial preparedness and customer-based training. 

Product-oriented training is designed to educate the employees who work in this area with the product that the organization or business focus on. For example a small business that focuses upon manufacturing bags and jewellery will need to teach their sales staff on how the product is made. Another business that deals with the production of cakes will also need to educate their staff on the type of products that goes into making each type of cakes — and similarly, if your business specializes in candle or soap making. These are just some examples that a small business may be engaged in. 

Process-oriented training is also critical to the growth of your business. Employees must be trained in the various processes that facilitate the operation of your company. Whether it is customer-services, marketing, production, shipping and handling, handling customer order; regardless of the process, employees must be taught how to, to ensure effectiveness. 

Technical training should also form part of your training and development program. Your employees require training on the technical processes of your business; and you too. If you are using computer based technologies to facilitate your business process, train your employees. When you purchase a new piece of technology make sure that you have a contract that covers repairs, parts, upgrades, online and direct management support and continuous training and development, from the provider. Make sure that you receive the product operational manual, and at the time of sale, make sure that your employees are a part of the adoption, and that training is a part of the implementation. 

Psychosocial preparedness training is also important to small businesses to ensure that your employees are able to make the transition, for example with the implementation of a change process. For example, the way that you manage your inventory might change from a non-computerized method to a computerized approach. Another change that may occur is that you might decide to incorporate a — point-of sale system for cashing and inventory management. With the advent of change, not all our employees easily embrace it. Some can be resistant, and if our employees are resisting it could have a devastating impact on our return of investment. What do you do if this happens? Or rather what do you do to prevent it and to make the transition smoothly? You might suggest firing that employee and hiring others. Remember though that the recruitment process could be very time consuming and costly. Your change management team, often recommend that you should include your employees as part of your decision making for the change, so that they will be familiar with the change when it is implemented. What this does, is that when it is implemented, the employee or employees will be prepared to accept it and run with it — so to speak. 

Psychological Preparedness Training is conducted to prepare your employees with the change, particularly those who might be or are resistant to the change to see the importance and value of the change process. You can also conduct psychological preparedness training with your customers, particularly if you introduced a new way of doing business. For example, you might have introduced a new way of shopping and payment — like online shopping. 

Customer-service training is also a key training type that you should engage in for the sustainability of your business, regardless of its size. Great customer service skills help you to establish a good customer-relationship with your clientele — and it is very crucial to the management of your business. Your clients are who keep your business growing and developing. It is that part of our business that is people-focused and is the heart beat of your business entity. You therefore must learn how to communicate and interact with them. It is important to know how you form relationships with them and keep and maintain them. 

Customer’s services training can focus on how you communicate. How you talk to your customers. What you might say. How you respond to inquiries face-to-face, over the telephone or through email. There are other ways that we can interact with our customers’ particular in this day of social media and blogging. Integrating social media and having a business blog are two great ways to reach your clients and build a relationship with them. For some small business owner, these technologies are quite daunting, and many are resisting integrating it into their business; and for those who have, there is a learning curve. Enhance your knowledge in this area by taking a course or you can recruit someone to specifically perform this task within your business. Customer service is also about respect and how you value the "other". In addition, it is also about having and showing love and compassion to them. I will like to recommend that you introduce an element of spirituality into you business so that it becomes a part of your business philosophy and business culture. 

A small business owner may ask why I need to conduct so many different types of training; I am not a large corporation. Yes, I agree that you are not a large corporation, but as a small company you also engage in the same business activities as larger ones; only at a smaller scale. You are also involved in the production of your goods and or services. You also engage in marketing and promoting your product or services to your customer base. You are also involved in building your personal brand and your business brand, as well as conducting research and development. You may also think about expanding your market either locally or internationally. Regardless of the size of your entrepreneurial venture you will need to conduct some level of training and or some type of training. Training is generally conducted on-site and off -site using other facilities, including higher educational facilities like private consultants and trainers, colleges and universities. In addition, how the training is approached is also significant to the adoption strategy. Training can either be employee-focused but organization – supported, or it can be organization-initiated. As a small business owner you can decide which approach best meet your budget's needs.

The Acquisition of Knowledge in Business gives one a Competitive Edge

Author: Dr. Cheryl Cottle

Customer training and education is a great business strategy for business owners to get customers and to keep them coming back. Do you think that it is important that as business people, training and education is also important to the sustainability of your business? Do you engage in on-going learning about business development, and what methods do you use to develop best business practice?

As an educator, entrepreneur trainer, an expert in the implementation of computer technology in the workplace, as well as an entrepreneur, I strongly believe that the acquisition of knowledge gives a business owner a competitive edge in the market place. 

The market place is an ever evolving place with new and emerging ways to do business, and if one has to sustain his or her business he or she must overcome the challenges by keeping abreast of best practices to circumvent any pitfalls. Having that piece of new information over your competitor, will give you your advantage. Like large organizations, training and development is an ongoing activity for employees, managers as well as people in upper management. Large organizations generally have a budget allocated to the development of their employees and often offer many incentives to facilitate education and training. Similarly, small businesses should also engage in education and development. The budget that they allocate may not be as much as larger companies and organization, but it is imperative that they do so. 

Training and development should be a part of your business plan. They should be integrated into your overall design plan and must not be regarded as an afterthought. A proactive approach to training and development will keep you updated on new knowledge that comes out in the market place, and help you to adapt more easily and quickly to any changes. 

Training is inherently the acquisition of knowledge and skills needed to perform present tasks that are vital to the operation of the various processes of your company. Training is a tool to help you to employees and managers contribute to the company and be successful in their current positions by meeting the required expectations, contribute to the company's growth and development, experience a high degree of success and attain a degree of job satisfaction (Cottle, 2003). It is a retooling and or retraining strategy that facilitates the successful implementation of the integrated systems designed to facilitate the operation of the business. 

Development on the other hand is the acquisition of knowledge and skills used in the present and in the future. It is the prerequisite to help employees meet new challenges and ensure the long-term health and vitality of a business. It is the core of which helps a business to achieve its short-term as well as its long-term vision and growth. It facilitates an organization's or business sustainability. It is what gives you a competitive edge in this era of global economies, global competition, and advance technology. 

Training and development are very important for the successful development of a company or business. It is the energy that sustains it; and it is crucial tool for meeting the economic changes taking place globally. Businesses and organization must put in place a policy for education; training and development to build its knowledge-base. Managing the intellectual capacity of your company is one sure way of being in readiness to exploit and absorbs when new market changes emerge. It enable you to maintain the proverbial saying — a competitive edge in the market place. In addition, it also facilitates the advancement of employee’s marketability. What that means is that within your sector and industry, your employees would be known to be proficient and effective. In other words they will be regarded as "high caliber" employee, thus increasing your employees’ marketability and your business visibility as a competitor to be reckoned with. 

Business owners as well as their employees should engage in education and training. Developing the intellectual capacity of your business so that you can be better positioned to exploit new ways of doing business. It would also enable you to have a greater impact on the absorptive capacity of your company. You will therefore be better able to take on new challenges, exploit new markets, exploit new products, as well as expand your client base and attract new employees and investors. 

In regards to methods of learning, there are many approaches to knowledge acquisition. You can use both formal and informal learning methodologies. Training can also be conducted in-house or at a private institution. You can also utilize your own in- house trainers; the guru among you, as well as source external trainers who will come in and design and deliver a training program specifically to your needs. In addition, you can also access knowledge from books, journals, magazine, and various online forums. I will like to share a quote by Brian Tracy, who says:
Those people who develop the ability to continuously acquire new and better forms of knowledge that they can apply to their work and to their lives will be the movers and shakers in our society for the indefinite future.
I must end by saying that I can identify with Tracy’s quote; I do believe that the business owner with knowledge; new and emerging knowledge can indeed be a great exemplar as an entrepreneur. 

Reference:
A Case Study of Three Organizations' Plans to Facilitate the Adoption, Diffusion and Infusion of Computer Technology in the Workplace, 2003 ( A Doctoral Dissertation, Dr. Cheryl Cottle, Robarts Library, University of Toronto

Spirituality and Business

Author: Dr. Cheryl Cottle

Spirituality and business is a modern day way of thinking about business. We often look at using the best management style to manage our business or identifying the best business strategies we can use, as well as our best customer service strategies but we only think about them from the perspective of the bottom line of our business.

What drives the business and management approach that we use has not been given full thought. They are however driven by how we value and treat others. Our attitude and attributes play a large part in how we perceive others and threat them. Our love for others also play a great part in how we relate to others and facilitate our customer service, the relationships we formed with our clients and the other personnel that we relate to on a daily basis to keep our business going.

When I talk about spirituality, I am not talking about religion, I am not talking about belonging to a particular religion. It is about a way of doing business. It is a way of leading and managing your business. It is a way of managing your business from a human-centered perspective with love and respect at the core. It is a value system that you can ingrain in to your business. In addition, it can become a part of your business culture and be held by your employees and transcend your customers.
  Here are some questions that you can ask your self if you have been able to integrate spirituality into your business:

  1. What are some of the attributes or characteristics that one must have to acquire this stage of development? 
  2. In what ways has my business benefited as a result of it and 
  3. When your business has spirituality how does it affect your customer relations?

Research shows that a company, an organization or small business can integrate spirituality into their environment; and it is not difficult. Research also shows that if one uses an approach to business leadership that focuses on the human aspects of the organization or business, spirituality will be integrated into it. The research also suggests that a "transformational leadership style" will serve to achieve it. Further a decision-making model that looks at the business objectives, the people that your serve (customers) and employees, your profit, and a social/environmental /community contribution, is a design plan that can best meet one's need in bringing spirituality into one's business. 

As a system analyst and an expert in the adoption of a change program into organizations (companies & small businesses), a design plan that includes all four areas will facilitate the integration of spirituality into any business type. The customers and employees must also be included, therefore using a humanistic approach to decision making would facilitate it. In this model, all the areas has to be given the same weight in the decision making phase and through the implementation phase. In making a decision that this is what I want or this is where I want my business to go, all four must be assessed and given equal weight; and the decision making around them must also be done in a proactive methodology. 

Included is a pod cast from the discussion with Dr. Cottle's interview and Donya Zimmerman on Women in Business Radio on the topic of "The importance of spirituality and business: How important is it?.




Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Dr Cheryl Cottle on BlogTalkRadio

What is passion? How important is it to business success?

Author: Dr. Cheryl Cottle

Passion is the fire that ignites us and inspires us to achieve our goals, is my belief. It is what causes us to create and to be productive. It is an emotion when ignited absorbs us and causes us to lead from the perspective of belief and love. Love, enthusiasm, commitment, and dedication are the energies that manifest the emotion of passion within us. You believe in it and therefore you can do it. Passion is what gives us the confidence to transcend all obstacles and gain triumph and success in what ever venture we undertake. 


Passion is an emotion that encompasses every venture a person takes on and it is evident in every facet of our lives. I have experienced passion  in the academe, in my pursuit of a hobby, in art, in my love for reading; and other things that I like. Passion is also associated to other activities that a person pursues including, boating, fishing, medicine, mountain climbing, cycling, fashion designer, real estate, writing, journaling, gardening, walking, entrepreneurship, philanthropy, or any interest that you may have and is dedicated and committed to. Dedication and commitment are two values that drive us to see a project to completion or to keep it alive.

While passion is an integral force behind our success in whatever endeavor we take on, the focus of this paper is how passion facilitates entrepreneurship. Passion is commonly linked to entrepreneurship. It is generally linked to the individual who works for himself or herself. It is generally applied to what makes an individual a successful entrepreneur. For example the solo entrepreneur who is the entrepreneur, manager and creator of the product or services; the individual who holds three hats, is generally asked how do you do it? Or how have you done it? It is a question that one asks a person who performs a great feathow did you do it? What is the thread that binds him or her to work steadfastly in spite of challenges that confronts your path? Passion is often tied into such an individual, but passion can also be associated to organizations. Do large organizations encourage their employees to be passionate? Are employees expected to be passionate? Does an employee with passion for the organization provide added-value to the company? Is he or she more productive?

Organizations will find that if their employees have a passion for the organization’s philosophy and goals, their growth potential will increase. How employees are perceived by management is important to the organization’s productivity and bottom line at the end of the year. It is important to the overall management and operation of the organization. How employees feel when they belong to an organization is of paramount importance to the success of a company.


Organizations should take a look at their organization’s culture. They should examine the type of organization’s culture that is fostered by the management style and the structure of the organization. Organization’s strategies to facilitate growth and development must not only focus on productivity and operations, but also on the human factor – the employees. How employees’ feel about the workplace helps to facilitate passion within an employee. Workplace strategies that therefore facilitate employee feeling of belongings, and employee’s commitment will foster employee’s passion to belong. (Cottle, 2003). 


How much of what you do is driven by passion? How important is passion in the success of women businesses? How do these two questions apply to you and the growth and success of your business? Passion is what is needed to stay competitive in the market place. It is the ingredient that enables you to stand out from the other businesses in your business sector, and what creates your business success. Passion is the human element that binds the small business owner with his or her employees and invites the customers to engage in a transaction that is of benefit to all. 

As a business person, the overall burden of the management generally rest upon you, the owner. You are several things to the company; the entrepreneur, mangers, and the creative force behind the business. It is easy to become burn-out just weeks after embarking upon a new business venture and the business can collapse. Having deep passion for your business idea is what keeps you going when things get difficult. It is what makes a difference in you closing your business prematurely or keeping your doors open.

Passion also impacts how your customers respond to your product or service. If people perceive that you are passionate about what you do, they too will become passionate about it. You must love what you do, so that others will trust you. They will also appreciate and value what you do. According to a business woman that I spoke with about how important is passion to the success of her business, said that passion makes you unstoppable. She added that loving what you do, makes it effortless. 

Passion therefore gives you the determination to work at what you set out to do in an easy enjoyable way. It also gives you the drive to overcome all things that may look insurmountable. Success is therefore the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Passion enables you to build your customer base. When you speak with passion about your product or services, you convince and capture your target audience. You can make them believe in what you do and so gain their support for your business. Passion enables you to sell your brand. If you did not believe in it, you cannot sell it. Belief facilitates conviction, and that leads to credibility, authenticity and trust – thus leading to greater client-base.

Passion drives belief and gets rid of self-doubt: Generally women entrepreneurs work alone due to diverse reason; either she does not have the resources to employ others and in some cases if she has employees, she is also the manager of her business and therefore has to provide leadership to her team of employees. To do it alone or working with others, requires that an owner/manager must have passion in order to grow her business. As a sole business person, you are the engine required to facilitate the overall operation of your company. You are the sole intellectual resource available to drive your company. 

Passion is very important when you do not have a team of experts within your company to carry out the many processes and operations, but you are the all encompassing intellectual wheel to manage and grow your company. Having passion goes a long way in time of doubts and during challenging moments like slow times, strategic planning, problem solving, and overall decision making. These are the times when a sole entrepreneur needs to have something greater than entrepreneurial skills, management skills and creativity. Passion is the seed that binds them all and facilitates success in business. It is what makes you “unstoppable." Passion also powers ones efficiency and effectiveness. It also engenders perfection and completeness. With passion an individual is able to achieve maximum performance regardless of the area. Passion generally fuels creativity and achievements.

One business women with whom I spoke to regarding having passion in business, said that, "I think it’s incredibly important that women are passionate about what they do. The world notices someone on fire for a cause, regardless of whatever the cause might be."Another business woman, with whom I spoke too on the topic of passion and its significance to entrepreneurship, has confirmed that passion is the core ingredient to success as an entrepreneur and in the pursuit of whatever venture. She noted that someone who is passionate about what they do (as an entrepreneur), not only furthers their business, but also encourages anyone who joins their team to be the same. She also added that "passion motivates us to move forward, to share our thoughts hopes and dreams with everyone around us, no matter whom we are or where we are from. Passion breeds excitement and joy which turns into zeal; and we all know what a zealous person can do". She adds that “we must learn to bridle the passion so as to keep us focused on the result and not overwhelm those around us: We want them to grasp the concept of our business and experience it for themselves.” 


Passion also has the ability to transcend you and ignite others in your environment. It is energy that is osmotic, and infuses others; not deliberately but through gradual absorption. Another business woman says that “when you are passionate about what you do, the people with whom you speak to about what you do, also feel it.” "They can identify with what you are saying. The connection that you create is what enables your business success." While another adds, “having passion is what enables your love for your work. It is what makes you the best worker in the world. When you love what you do, you will do all your best to succeed and move forward. I believe that when a business person can say; with passion, I can be successful in any business; and I am passionate in what I can offer my clients. I love what I do. That is powerful.” 

I will therefore end with these two quotations by Ralph Waldo Emerson: 
One of the biggest challenges in life is not to let yourself or anyone stand in your way of what matters, and bring passion to your life.
Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. 

I will like to end with this question to my readers? How much of what you do is driven by passion? How important is passion in the success of your business? How do these two questions apply to you and the growth and success of your business? 

This article was first written on Tuesday, April 13, 2010 Was modified on: Thursday, December-18-14 

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Women in Business Hangout

Women in Business “hangout” was a viral space created for the group to encourage its members to share what was happening in their lives and in their business. The issues shared were business, personal, and family related. It was intended to address all the issues that weigh heavily on women’s entrepreneurial journey and impact their business success. 

Members with a problem, that they will like resolve, could put it to the group for answers and solutions, and they would receive some workable responses from their peers. The overall membership was invited to participate. The administrator hoped that by creating a “viral chat room” will help to inspire and motivate the membership. She also hoped that members, whose entrepreneurial drive was very low, will have it ignited in the forum. She also designed and created this space as a non-threatening space where members could speak freely, free from judgement. Over all, the administrator of Women in Business promised to make this “get together” an empowering session.

There were some specific rules to ensure that the process flowed smoothly. All of the participants were asked to introduce themselves and their businesses. And they were reminded that it was our goal to create a social space to foster dialogue, forge friendship, and foster meaningful networking. 

The “hangout” was implemented every two weeks to meet the needs of the membership. In order to meet the needs of the members, the activity was advertised to all our membership and they were given time to RSVP. Twenty-five members were the limited number of people expected to form part of the group at any time in order to be effective. It was decided by management that a small group of 25 will be more manageable to ensure one-one-one interaction and feedback. Members were therefore asked to respond to the message in a timely way to reserve their placement. The “hangout” was held every two weeks on a Tuesday. The general start time will be at 11:00 am EST and it ended at 11:00 pm EST. 

General Mission and Vision: 

The general mission and vision of “hangout” was to use it as a strategy to bring the membership of Women in Businesses closer. It was the intention of the administrator to use it to facilitate social-interaction among the members. The administrator felt that as a large group, not all of the members were visible. She also felt that not all of the members were gaining the knowledge that they needed to grow their business. The administrator felt that while the group had some very verbal and active members, many members were silent — very quiet — some claim that they were held back by limiting-beliefs. We therefore had two groups of women or members —, those who spoke out and those who retreated. To break this divide, the administrator of the group thought that if she created a space that was based on interest, collaborative problem-solving, sharing, and the creation of knowledge. She felt that these foci would create a setting in which there was no status — where everyone every one has a problem and every one was an expert. It was her intent that the “hangout” would encourage and accelerate greater participation and involvement among members. She believed that by creating the “hangout” — was like creating an egalitarian space to foster a more harmonious group. 

The Purpose and Objective: 

The purpose of hosting a “Hangout” is to foster greater social interaction and more meaningful networking amongst the members. Some members had voiced their viewpoint that while the group connected them with like minded women; it did not lend itself to one-on-one interaction. The administrator therefore thought that one–on-one interaction would only occur if there was more opportunity for discourse. "While we have people meeting at the discussion space, or at the Reading Corner, or while sharing and reading another quotation, they weren’t generating the type of interaction needed to form a bond," the administrator pointed out. She also believes that “a bond is only formed when there is trust, openness, sharing of point-of-views, and dialoguing, and only then would a real connection takes place.” She felt that if I can create a space that was friendly, open, non-threatening, members will open up and share their fears, successes, failures — and will not be diminished in the eyes of their peers.

The administrator also felt that peer-to-peer reviews and feedback will give the members an opportunity to feel confident about themselves and their businesses and to thinks “ this is what we all want, a place where we can share and talk and come away with a great piece of information to help me to grow my business.”


Who is it intended for?

The “hangout” was intended for all of the membership of Women in Business. The administrator hoped that each and everyone would feel comfortable to join. “It is creating an opportunity where we can all increase our knowledge-base about our businesses,” she says. “While some of us are expert business women because we have been at entrepreneurship longer, do have a lot of advice to share, she shared. At the same time, those of us who are novices, also have a lot to give. You also have experiences and insights that are just as invaluable. I hope that if we pool the knowledge resources within the group, we will have an accumulated wealth of knowledge that can be of benefit to all. So let’s share. Let’s talk to each other. Let’s assist so that we can all grow.” 

Objective: 
  1. To create a more socially-interactive space 
  2. To foster more meaningful networking 
  3. To create a space where asking and responding are engendered 
  4. Where the sharing of information will foster the creation of knowledge
  5. To create a democratize social group 6. Create a participatory space 

Some logistics for Participation: 
  1. Hangout” was created in Women in Business to encourage its members to share what is happening in their lives. The issues shared can be business, personal, and family related. 
  2. If you have a problem to resolve, you can put it to the group and you will surely receive some workable solutions from the members. 
  3. You were welcome to the event. For example the admin often wrote "come and join us and be inspired and motivated. We promise to make this “Get Together” an empowering session."
  4. To participate, members were asked to introduced themselves and their business? They were reminded that it was a social space that we want to create to foster dialogue. 
  5. Members were expected to acknowledge their attendance before the event because of limited placement. 
  6. The intent was to share a situation or a problem that you were experiencing in your business with the group and someone will help you to resolve it. You are also expected to share your views and thoughts on another person's question. 
  7. We hoped that through collaboration we would be able to solve each others problems, and gain valuable insights into our challenges. 
  8. We hoped that by simply listening we would also learn a great deal — valuable knowledge that we can integrate into our lives and business.
  9. Participants are welcomed by the administrator on entering the forum. 
  10. Participants are also expected to introduce themselves and their business followed by posting their question or questions. 
  11. Participants were expected to be each others expert and share your thoughts about the questions that each has posted. 
Evaluation of the Hangout: 

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of each “hangout” a short questionnaire was administered. The “hangout” was implemented as a pilot project and it was important to know if it was effective. Was it meeting the members’ needs? Was it meeting the administrator’s objectives? Was it bringing members closer together? Was it facilitating greater networking opportunities?
Three questions were generally asked for participants' feedback, and they included: 
  1. What do you think about the event? 
  2. Was it user friendly and easy to participate? 
  3. How often do you think it should be hosted? 
  4. What have you gained so far?  
  5. How will you rate the feedback that you have received in a scale from 1 to 10 with 1 being the lowest and 10 the highest.
  6. Were you able to form connection with other women?
  7. Do you think it has helped you to gain more visibility in the group?
  8. Will you continue to participate?
  9. Will you recommend it to another business woman? 
  10. Do you think that a mini-training will help to familiarize members on the terminology used?
Conclusion:

In concluding, I will like to say that the implementation of the “hangout” in the group — Women in Business was a great initiative. It however required a higher level of participation to prove a ROI for the administrator of the group and as a result it was stopped. It has been reevaluated and consideration is being made to having it reinstated to the group in the new year. It is very easy to use with a very low learning curve regarding technology. It is conducted on the group on Facebook platform, as an event. You can write your question or questions on the wall, and a participant responding to your inquiry will do so in the comment section, following the same thread. If a mini training is required to familiarize the participants with some terms, that can always be conducted. I want to say implementing a “hangout” as an event in a social media group is a great place to gain some knowledge about your business, and to get to know other business women in your area, as well as to make connection to grow your business. 

Members are expected to join the forum, at the time designated and participate in the comment section within the forum — it is just so easy. It is not a format that requires you to be there or present during the duration of the event. You can drop in and participate any time that you are free to access it. It simply requires you to allocate some time to be actively involved.

Criteria for members' intake into a social media group

One of the concerns after designing and creating a social media group is to attract your ideal audience. You have to make sure that you get the right people involve — the people who will value what you have to offer, as well as who will participate in the forum. In the design of my group — Women in Business one important design features was having a social interactive component, to encourage social interaction where women can make meaningful networking connections to grow their business. In addition, it also included an educational component, in which members are expected to respond to discussions, share their thoughts and experience in order to contribute to the knowledge development of their peers. I strongly believe in the collaboration of knowledge and the generation of ideas leading to the creation of new knowledge. It was therefore important that my membership meet these criteria. 

It is recommended that you understand and identify what design features you will need to carry out your objective. If you will be the only one allowed to share information include those parameters. In addition, if your space is simply for members to join to promote their products and services, let that be a part of your design. You must also think about your design features in keeping with your goals and objective, proactively. 

When an individual ask to join your group, you can either use a matrix of questions to create a check-list or you can create a questionnaire before making a decision to accept their request for membership. Using either way will help you to determine if the person is a good fit. 
  1.  Observe what type of information they are sharing — is the information focused on business or empowerment or just trivia? 
  2. What other groups are they involved in? Examine the groups that they belongs to identify their interest. 
  3. Check to see how many of their friends are members of your group
  4. I also examine their "about page"
  5. Observe if they have a business website 
  6. Identify if their business type is in keeping with your requirements 
  7. Check to identify their interest whether they are a games enthusiast 
  8. Check to see if the have a business Fanpage. 
  9. Find out if they have legitimate business that they birthed for the initial stage of development though growth and sustainability. 
  10. Observe what level of education they have? This sometimes plays an important role in determining people's seriousness regarding your group's purpose
  11. Overall try to get as much information that you can possible get to make an informed decision. If the individual meets your criteria, he or she is accepted into the group. On entering, it is welcoming to send out a "welcome message" with directives to introduce themselves. 
In spite of the criteria that you have, you could also inadvertently include individuals into your group who are not a great fit for your group. My group for example is designed for women with a business that they have birthed and developed from a budding idea, but sometimes other business women wander into the group. Sometimes, it is only after they have made their introduction or posted on the wall that you may fully understand what type of business they are involved with. At this point, they are given the choice to accept our other two membership statuses. I hope this helps.

Creating a Group on a Social Media Platform

 Author: Dr. Cheryl Cottle



Creating a group on a social media platform is a very challenging process. It requires that you know the rules of the designers of the space, and making sure that you live up to them. Remaining ethical in all of your practices, strategies and techniques that you used to create and manage the community that you build. First, you must know what type of community you want to build. What type of function would it serves? Who are your target audience? and more importantly you must also identify which social platform you will like to use. 


There are several social media platforms available for use. Some are free while others have a yearly fee. It is important that you conduct research to see which platform will meet your needs, including your personal objective, business objective, educational objective, training objective, and or your philanthropic objective. It is also very important to know who your target audience is and their receptiveness to social media forums. Are they computer savvy? Are they internet savvy? Are they open to learning the new technology? You cannot be all over the place. You have to narrow down your audience to a specific target audience and niche. Having identified these, you have to know how a social media community will help you meet your needs? 

You must also be clear as to what your needs are. It is therefore very important that you conduct a needs assessment to identify your need or needs. A group can be designed to meet any need. If you are interested in meeting your business needs, you must identify what those needs are. You have to be specific as to what you will like to achieve. You must identify the purpose, goals, and objectives of your group — and this must be done before designing your group. It should be a part of the analysis phase of your online community. In the design of a social media group, it should be systematically designed. What are your business needs, is a very critical question to have answered before proceeding in the design and development of your program. In my case, my business needs are to consult with small business owners — particularly women in the area of business development, social media marketing, mentoring and coaching. Does it matter that your membership is local or international? Yes it matters. I recommend that an international audience would better meet your needs, since we are no longer restricted by geography given the technology that is available.

In designing a group, it is also important to see the many ways that the group can benefit you. Hence, you must conduct a thorough needs assessment to ascertain how you can use it to benefit both your short-term goals and your long-term goals. Some of my future goals for my group was to use it for research in my exploration of women entrepreneurship and the challenges that they face, in order to find solutions to make their lives as entrepreneurs rewarding and productive. The group should therefore also meet your research needs. If you choose to conduct research you would have captured your audience. The group should also serve as your target audience, in developing workshops and conferences, should you want to include a training and development component into your consultancy. It is an audience that you should be able to tap into to make the most incredible retreat with women. It will certainly include women from across the globe. It will have such diversity which can be marvelous and awe inspiring — what a bed for collaboration, and strength building. 

In designing a group, it is also important that you keep in mind the holistic purpose of your group, because it could serve multipurpose, as discussed above. The group that I have designed, can also meet my multiple needs, for example; for accessing women to be a part of my many business and social initiatives. For example it provides me with great opportunity to connect with women to contribute to my online journal — Simply Inspirational for Women in Business Journal. Resources for writing books. I can also access women to be guest on my Women in Business Radio show — drawing upon their expertise to make the show an eclectic and prolific radio program for women entrepreneurs; and lastly, for simply forming friendship that is based upon shared interest and experiences. 

When deciding to create a group on a social media platform, you must be very clear and focused as to what your objective and focus is. Not being clear, can result in a lot of work, in terms of time and resources without a clear outcome. It certainly will not prove a ROI both in terms of your time and money. If you are not able to critically think about what your group's purpose is and identify the many threads of it, prior to designing it, you will spend a lot of time learning by trial-and-error. If you lack the ability to design a program, particularly in the analysis phase, it is important to recruit a program designer to assist you in doing so. 

After conducting a need assessment and identifying your needs, and deciding what are your short-term needs and long-term needs, the next questions are:  
  1. How do you build your community? 
  2. Where will you get your audience? 
  3. How will you accessed them? 
  4. How will you grow your community and not break the code of conduct that the platform subscribes to
  5. You have to identify what the criteria for membership is 
  6. What type of membership status will you have
  7. What is your group description? 
  8. What's your mission statement 
  9. What are your goals and objectives 
  10. What are some rules and policies Guidelines to follow 
  11. Conducting outreach to build your community 
  12. Develop a philosophy by which you believe 
  13. Develop your group's culture 
  14. How do you promote your group
  15. How will you brand your group and your leadership
The other question is, how do you plan on keeping your audience involved and actively participating so that they will want to stay? Content needs to be specifically chosen. Design your content material proactively, so that every day you can introduce it to your group. Remember it is vital to keep your members active. Content should therefore be informative, educational, fun, motivational, empowering and engaging. If you are selling a product or services you can talk directly to it or about a product or a sport that relates to them. It could also be totally unrelated. A business selling mattresses for example, could talk about well-ness or finding balance. The content must be an area that your would be customers will value and as a result will visit your space, and when the times comes for buying a mattress, chances are they will come to you. Beware of competitors, primarily direct competitors, indirect competitors rarely will have an impact on you.

If you do not have the skills and expertise to design and build an online group, please contact a program designer to assist you. Remember they do have special skills, knowledge and expertise including program development with skills and knowledge in the analysis, design, development, evaluation and implementation of a program. They can also facilitate all the necessary research required to complete the analysis of your project, and further most of them are also expert in content writing. Some also can develop your curriculum and evaluation instruments that you will need to evaluate your program on an on-going basis.

Quote Corner


My quote corner comprises of some of my favorite quotes. I hope that they resonate with you and that you will find them very inspirational and empowering. 

Photography by Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby

Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. ~ Elizabeth Gilbert 

Sometimes life takes unexpected turns. Sometimes we hide the very core of our existence because we fear the judgment of others. Sometimes the universe shifts and we are provided with a brief moment to begin anew. These moments allow us to become fearless and let our perfectly created souls shine. ~ Cori Garrison 

There is great change to be experienced once you learn the power of letting go. Stop allowing anyone or anything to control, limit, repress, or discourage you from being your true self! Today is YOURS to shape - own it - break free from people and things that poison or dilute your spirit.” ~ Steve Maraboli 

Life is too short to waste any amount of time on wondering what other people think about you. In the first place, if they had better things going on in their lives, they wouldn't have the time to sit around and talk about you. What's important to me is not others' opinions of me, but what's important to me is my opinion of myself. ~ C. JoyBell C. 

You can be the most beautiful person in the world and everybody sees light and rainbows when they look at you, but if you yourself don't know it, all of that doesn't even matter. Every second that you spend on doubting your worth, every moment that you use to criticize yourself; is a second of your life wasted, is a moment of your life thrown away. It's not like you have forever, so don't waste any of your seconds, don't throw even one of your moments away. ~ C. JoyBell C.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Business Showcase: Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby




Yvette-Michelle is a creative entrepreneur who has been an entrepreneur since 1994. In the initial stage of her entrepreneurial journey Yvette-Michelle worked from home, eventually branching out to having her own brick and mortar location on the beautiful commercial hub of Queen Street at the corner of John Street, Toronto Canada. Her second floor shoppe across from other creative entrepreneurs was the outlet for her personal designs — jewellery, hats, scarves, bags and purses — and a place where she also showcased work from other designers. Her creative venture was called, Verona Collections and included primarily one of a kind pieces and limited editions. After years of working in retail, Yvette-Michelle had to eventually face the reality that she was not able to keep her business afloat. She was experiencing cash flow and she had problems securing investors and funding, as a result she was forced to take her business back to her home studio and change from retail to whole sale. For many years you could find her creations at some of Toronto’s best specialty stores.

Like every thing else, one’s entrepreneurial journey often takes a turn, and when it did for Yvette-Michelle, she started another venture which she named Crafted Spaces through which she teaches sewing and other crafts including crocheting, knitting, and paper flower making. Yvette-Michelle started this new business working from her home studio and after some years of successfully doing so, she has moved into a commercial space in downtown Barrie in Ontario, Canada, which she calls her sewing studio. It is where you can find Yvette-Michelle from Tuesday to Sunday.You can visit her website for details of her sewing classes and courses; as well as familiarize yourself with her other offerings.

Her sewing studio is a very spacious and airy space that is beautifully decorated, deigned to facilitate teaching and learning. Here is a little glimpse of the space.


Photography by Yvette- Michelle Cottle Darby

Photography by Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby

Photography by Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby

What it means to live meaningfully?

If you have been toying with the concept of what is a meaningful life and questioning can I achieve it? And or have ever thought, if it is an innate and divine gift to live a meaningful life and felt that it was beyond your grasp or achievement? Listen to the women share their most innermost secrets and experience on what is meaningful living, in my Women in Business Radio broadcast, by joining us in archive. In October, 2013 we looked at meaningful living and we shared with our audience what others who have lived and is living a meaningful life, shared their experience. In this preview of the interviews, we will be sharing what my guest Pat Matson had to say on the topic of: What is meaningful living? Is it some thing that we can acquire or is it some thing we were gifted with at birth?
  
Here are a few questions that guided the discussion: 
  1. How do you achieve meaningful living? Is it a gift from God or can everyone achieve it?
  2. What are some actions or attributes that an individual who is living meaningfully display? 
  3. Are self-love, high self-esteem, a high self-concept, high self-confidence and a high self-worth, characteristics of a person who lives a meaningful life?
  4. How important is having support in living a meaningful life? 
  5. What advice can you give to some one who will like to achieve this life path — what are some things you must do
This interview schedule guided the discussion with the guest with a bit of modification in term of wording and not meaning to keep the discussion personable and relaxing. They were the main theme, but varied according to experiences of the person, as a result additional questions were administered. We hope that you listen to the audio and garner a better understanding of what meaningful living is about. Through this discussion, you will learn that to live meaningfully, is to live a life doing what you love. People are more important to them, and they also value and appreciate the environment and the world around them. Doing what you love and not subscribing to society’s norms and value system. It enables you to find that path way to live your life meaningfully.

Here are some questions that was posed by the radio host to Pat and here are her responses:


Question: How do you achieve meaningful living? Is it a gift from God or can everyone achieve it? 
 
Pat: That is a powerful question; first of all, achieving meaningful living has to be important to you, because you have to make it a priority in your life. For me gaining an understanding about life was my all time most important thing to do, I thought that honouring God was the most important thing I thought that I could do which led me to becoming a nun; so you have to make it first place. Secondly you have to educate yourself as to the best way you can accomplished meaningful living and you have to in the second step
you have to unfold a ton of truths, and embrace it and imbue it into yourself, and thirdly, and this is not what some of the young people don't see you have to persevere doggedly meaningfully happens during the long hall and not in fleeting moments.

Question: Is self- love, self-confidence and high self-worth has anything to do with achieving this stage of growth or life path? Are they attributes that one must acquire to achieve meaningful living?

Pat: Yes, and that is the way it happened to me. I went from a green bean and knowing very little about myself; until older when I gained this magnificent understanding. . . And I cherish it beyond words; so I guess I will answer will say yes! Self-love, high self-concept and high self-confidence . . . it takes all three to achieve living life meaningfully. I am not sure it is true for everyone and I suspect it happens to everyone . . . It did not happened when I first started but I am now living a life that is meaningful. So life is individualistic and I know that everyone of us comes to our truth through our own individual — this is what happened to me — this is what happened on my path. 


Question: What advice can you give to some one who will like to achieve this life path?

Pat: Simple begin. Make it the priority in your life. Bring your self-back to it when you get lazy. Persevere during the long hall . . . so keep on keeping on with it.

I will like to end with a quote:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ~ Mark Twain

Please find the podcast by Pat:

Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Dr Cheryl Cottle on BlogTalkRadio

Meaningful Living: What is it and how can we achieve it?

Many individuals strive to attain meaningful living, but have not been able to fully achieve it or to actually achieve it. It seems as if it evades most people and only a selected few can truly say that they are living a life that is meaningful. What is meaningful living has to be defined as a place in one's life, where one arrives at that is no longer mundane, but it has meaning. It is a state of being where the individual fully enjoys each day that is gifted to them, and find gratitude and contentment in living each day to the fullest. 

Last year I explored this topic of "meaningful living" by introducing a segment on my online radio show Women in Business Radio and I interviewed three women who were willing to share their perception of what meaningful living means to them, and how she has achieved it. In order to gain a full understanding of the phenomenon, I generated a series of questions to couch this modern day concept.

These are the questions that were generated: 


  1. What exactly is meaningful living? What does it look like — what are some things that we see and feel? 
  2. You are an entrepreneur, living a life that is meaningful — how does that make you feel given that you are doing what you love? 
  3. How important is support to arrive at that place where you can live a life of meaning? Or is it something that you can do it alone? 
  4. Do we always need to always experience an adversity in order to get to that stage of development whereby our lives become meaningful? What are some of the benefit you gained? What were some things that we learn about ourselves? 
  5. Is it an easy road to transition from? Or may I say, from meaninglessness to meaningfulness? 
  6. If your life seems useless, with every day the same mundane happens, do you give up or do you look for alternative solution? Will that help you find a path that is meaningful? 
  7. Does looking inwardly and reflecting help us to find that life path? Or is it some thing deeper, like being spiritually gifted or it just simply is innate for some?
  8. Do you think that to achieve meaningful living, one has to be mature and experienced or can it come much younger? 
  9. How important is the role of society or community in facilitating one's search for meaning and the acquisition of meaningful living?
  10. Do you think that one must have love for something, passion and commitment to achieve success? 
  11. You had a love for self and passion for living and doing what you love? What are some things you have done to achieve it? 
  12. Do you think that self-confidence, high self-worth and self-love have anything to do with achieving this state of being? 
  13. Do you meet a lot of people who have experienced meaningful living? 
  14. What recommendation (s) will you give to someone who will like to achieve that life path?

Some of the lessons learned were:


  1. We learned that there is consistency in the meaning of meaningful living in that when we are living a meaningful life we live a life where we see our world through the lenses of love and compassion. Where we are connected to the world and the people in it; and where "me-ism" does not exist. The individual also lives a life of love, and passion and compassion, doing what she or he loves and that which is not driven by wealth or money, but the foci is in creating and empowering others
  2. Meaningful living can be attained by anyone, but it is also identified as a state of being that one may arrive at after experiencing a spiritual transformation after going through experience that has been very traumatic through a discovery passage, but one can also achieve it because it is innate. 
  3. We also learned that to live meaningfully, we must find something that we love, and that it should also be an endeavor that will help to build or empower others to grow and to strive.
  4. We also learned that whatever you choose to do, you should also have passion and commitment towards it, so that it will continue to absorb you and ignite your creativity and love within you.
  5. We also learned that age is not a factor in one's achievement of living a life that is meaningful. Some might experience it at a more mature stage in their lives while others may achieve it in their youth. A lot depend on ones awareness. 
  6. We also learn the role that self-love, self-worth, high self-confidence and high self-esteem have to do with one achieving meaningful living.
  7. And we also learned the importance of having the love and support from others in your environment; and how that love nurtures your transition..
  8. And lastly the importance of forgiveness — the forgiveness of self and others.
These are some of the lessons learned about meaningful living. You can listen to the pod casts provided here to follow the interview between myself and guests on Women in Business Radio on the segment that looks at " meaningful living: What it is and can we achieve it? 
 

From the Editor
 
Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Dr Cheryl Cottle on BlogTalkRadio




Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Dr Cheryl Cottle on BlogTalkRadio

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Challenges and Overcoming


The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance — and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.~ Oprah 

While reading this quote I reflected on how true it is for me, particularly during the throes of my illness with diabetes Type 11. In 2003 I was diagnosed with diabetes and I was told by my doctor that I can manage it by exercise and diet. I don't think that I really tried then. While I continued my walking, my diet drastically changed. I began consuming two gallons of mocha almond fudge ice cream a week as well as baked and ate sweet bread and made cassava pone and I dozen pamees (a delicacy made of corn flour, grated pumpkin and grated coconut). You may ask me, if I had an appointment with death. Sometimes looking back I felt that unconsciously I might have had an appointment with death, but I certainly was bent on sabotaging my chance to live a healthy life. I am still trying to be pragmatic — I will say that I was going through a very difficult and challenging time. 

I often say that when you have to rely upon others to achieve your personal goals, your life can be in the mouth of a lion. If he closes his jaw, you are gone. You have to rely upon him keeping his mouth open, and you being nice to him. You just cannot afford to speak your mind if you want his/her support. What a position to be in? Reliance or dependency on others is the worst dis-empowering position to be in.

I have found that reading for your doctorate can be a challenging experience. You have to be dependent upon your thesis supervisor and that is not where it starts. Getting a supervisor can be a very tasking experience. You have to get his or her support for your thesis idea. How do you achieve this? You must make yourself familiar with him or her. You have to take a few courses that he or she teaches and be interested in the research that they do. It some times takes a year before you can fully negotiate a student-supervisor connection. However, when that is formed, you now have to convince him or her that you know what you intent on researching or else he or she can redraw his/her support. You have to be passionate about your research topic and you have to show it. You must exude the passion that you hold for your research topic. There are so much more in this relationship. 

Your thesis committee also has to be formed. You have to make sure that it is comprised of people that your thesis supervisor can work with. People that he can communicate with and have a connection with. What I did was ask my supervisor to recommend whom he think would be able to contribute and support the research. By having my supervisor choose the people that he would like to work with, I believe it would lend itself to a committee that can work together; and then I approached them for their support. This strategy worked quite well. They had a working relationship. They knew each other as well as respected each other. This worked for a great team. You must however be reminded that even in a great team, human dynamics can still change or threatened to change — and this is what often happened. It was often difficult to get all of the members of committee to read my thesis draft; as a result it had an effect on my doctoral defense date.

Food became my long lost friend. I remember leaving the university campus on evenings to go home. I would basically run home to eat my "favourite things". It did not take long before I gained forty pounds on my one hundred and ten pound body. I gained a lot of weight but I did not show; or so I felt. I did not look fat or obese. As a matter of fact, and in my home culture, I was “real thick”. I was sexy for the first time in my life, according to the standard of beauty from a culture where a woman must have some fat on her bones. So when I am asked today by medical practitioners with whom I work with to get my diabetes under control, were you obese because Type 2 diabetes is related to obesity. I have to respond maybe I was, at 150 pounds, because I went from 110 pound — won't that be regarded as obesity. 

I am realizing that as I work on transforming myself, that I have to take it very slowly. I must also take the change with all of the pains and un-comfortableness and I must be focused on my goals. What do I want to achieve? Do I just want to get better? In 2006 when I became ill for the first time with this same symptoms, I got better within 2 years. It was a very hard road to recovery, but I didn't learn any real lessons. My lifestyle had not changed. I went back to doing everything that I did that was bad for me. I began smoking again and that surely did not help me. Information that you read about diabetes, will tell you that if you have diabetes, you should quit smoking. Well I haven't recall quitting. Here I am sick again because I did not learn any lessons from the first time. We are suppose to learn lessons from every experience we may encounter, I didn't. 

According to the quote, we need someone to be there for us to help us through the thick and thin. They are the ones on whom we lean for support and courage. We look towards them for a kind word and a word of encouragement. I remember when I was sick the first time around, my grand-son Matthew was only 4 years and I remember him looking at me with great concern and love and one day he said "grandma you are not sick, you are just not feeling well". That said a lot to me. I was glad that at least he wasn't seeing me sick and unable to fend for myself. Another evening as I sat on the porch as usual just reflecting and having some quiet time, he came out and said, "Grandma is he coming?" and I ask who? and he said, "Jesus, "aren't you waiting for him to come?" My response to him was that "Jesus” is always here . . .you just don't see him." A couple evenings after, as I was sitting on the porch, he came out and sat with me very early on my "time-out." After sitting quietly for a while, he came off his chair, and stroked my right leg from the top of my leg down towards my calf, and said, "grand-ma, Jesus is here." This was a very significant moment for me, I actually felt that Jesus moved within my grand-son and created a healing effect on me. I felt wonderful. I said thank Matthew for relieving my pains. I was relieved to know that Jesus intervened into my life through my grand-son Matthew. 

My daughter was also a significant person in my life during my state of illness. We were on sabbatical in Trinidad and Tobago. We had gone with the goal of hosting a conference in 2005 which we did and which was pretty much successful. It was launched at a large and prominent hotel. We received a great deal of coverage. The local newspaper did a write up about the workshop that showcased both of us with I as the host. The "mother-daughter" joined concept worked. We were able to catch the attention of many people. After, our seminar was hosted, we decided that we would the Christmas holiday in Trinidad and Tobago, and to contemplate what we would do afterwards. 

In January of 2006, I got sick. My diabetes got worse and I started to loose weight resulting in the loss of over 20 pounds. My muscles atrophied and following that I got neuropathy — I began feeling a burning sensation throughout my body. The only piece of clothing that I could wear was a sarong rap. It was indeed a very difficult time for me. I visited my doctor and started a rigid medical regiment. I also had a mental and physical plan to work on my mental, physical and spiritual well being. My daughter decided that she would stay with me in Trinidad to help me to recuperate. We had the option of going back to Canada, but I felt that I would receive medical treatment that is comparable with Canada and the fact that the weather was also great. 

My daughter stayed with me during the whole duration of my sickness and recuperation. I was very much dependent upon her for preparing my meals, administering my medication, taking me on my doctor's visit. She was basically responsible for meeting all of my needs. I really appreciated her and I thank her from the bottom of my heart for putting her life on hold for so long — almost two and a half years. To her, I am eternally grateful. She has always been loving and caring, but to put your life on hold that's a sacrifice — a sacrifice she made for me. I love you with all my heart!

While I discovered that it is important that you are the one in command of your change, it is important to have others in your corner for support. While we can rejoice in the change as it is achieved, having others to celebrate and acknowledge those advances and achievements, is very rewarding and provides incentives for moving on. You must also set goals, and make sure that your goals are further divided into smaller ones, gradually moving to the achievement of the larger goal. When your goals are too broad they can be seen as insurmountable and prevent you from tackling it or striving to achieve it. Remember also that Rome was not built in a day, thus your transformation will not come over night. It is not speedily achieved. It takes time. Some days you might even feel that you are taking two steps forward, but also two steps backwards. Some days it does feel that you are standing in one place, and that can make you feel that your efforts are fruitless. Take every day that you have risen
gotten off your bed, and strive towards your change no matter how small and insignificant the activity you do might seems do it any way. It makes a difference.

I will like to share an analogy with you that a friend
a support during my wellness transformation shared with me during my first trial. She said, that I should see my change in the same way as if I am a passenger on board a very large cruise ship. She said, picture, the captain decides to turn the ship around, and it begins to turn. It will take a while to do so and during the course of its change in direction, as a passenger you will not feel the turn. You will only see the turn after it is completed. You cannot give up, if some days, you are not able to see your change. Visualization and faith, helped me to see where I would be and it gave me the hope that I will get there. I also strongly believed that with time, change will occur. How much time I had? I had no idea, but I believed that if I received another day as a gift of life from my creator, I will use it to work on my change. It worked. Two years and six months later I was feeling strong —  psychologically, physiologically and spiritually.