A Cry for Help: Requesting Caregiving Support

“All that I need
Is to cry for help
Somebody please hear me
Cry for help
All I can do
Is cry for help”

–A Cry for Help, song & lyrics by Rick Astley

The year was 2012: my partner was 53 when health issues began creeping up on him. It first started with an diabetic ulcer, which he chose to ignore until it became almost too late.

The second emergency progressed until he could barely walk. It took me over 6 months to get him to the hospital with the threat, “Either you go NOW, or I’m moving out! I’m not going to watch you die!” December 29, 2014 he was admitted to the hospital. The result: emergency surgery to repair a ruptured disc. His prognosis wasn’t good: paralysis or death. Again, he waited until the last minute to take action.

During that time, my partner and I often discussed his health, his progress (or lack thereof), my concern for his well-being and my ability to assist. Choices needed to be made. His decision was to do what he could with the time and finances he had. With an intense hatred for the health insurance industry, his choice was to wait until catastrophic insurance kicked in to take care of medical needs. Tough love kicked in and I mentioned that I couldn’t build a business and care for someone who couldn’t care for himself.

Also during this time, I consulted with friends and family on how to help. Against my partner’s wishes, I informed family members of health updates, medical procedures, medication compliancy, and, most importantly, my need for help!

While I received verbal support and appreciation for all I was doing, there was no offer for help—either financial or physical. I tried to get everyone to rally together to let him know we love him and want to help, but I couldn’t get anyone to rally.

By March 2016, he was in so much pain and couldn’t work anymore. He was relying on me more and more and had failed to mention that he was behind in rent.

My panic skyrocketed!

It was time for serious intervention so I called his closest friends and siblings. In tears. Desperate for help. Most were unable to help, but offered their sympathy and understanding despite me saying I had to leave him. I received some unexpected financial support, which helped with the immediate crisis. Still, I made a tough decision as to my own well-being and business, which were seriously suffering.

Then I called his adult children, who up until this point were grateful for my involvement in his life, even though they weren’t too fond of me. That’s when all hell broke loose:

“I thought you loved Dad! Now you’re leaving him?”

“What kind of a person are you for abandoning him? You are a wretched, selfish person!”

Of course, these comments were filled with much more insulting words and phrases.

I was devastated. I questioned my worthiness, my abilities, my future. And I wasn’t even married to him.

“Why must we hide emotions?
Why can’t we ever break down and cry?”

–Rick Astley, A Cry for Help

The result: I told him of my conversation with his friends, siblings, and children. I told him I was moving out, of which he wasn’t pleased, but he understood. He took action to apply for financial programs and disability services. He purchased tools to assist with daily living. He maintained regular doctor checkups and is now consistently keeping up with his medications. I am eating, sleeping, feeling better, and back to focusing on my business. We are still ‘a couple’, but living under different roofs.

Before you find yourself in a similar black hole, here’s the advice my partner and I discussed on how others can cope:

Keep family informed. The caregiving recipient may insist others don’t need to know everything, but it’s important they know what’s happening, the progress, any complications, and updates. This will prevent accusations of, “Why didn’t you tell me that sooner?”

Seeking help. It doesn’t need to be around the clock, but visits during hospital stays, important work meetings, or offering the caregiver a weekend getaway is a must for the caregiver’s wellbeing.

Put feelings aside. You may not like a family member or vice versa, but constant animosity only intensifies the situation.

Avoid criticizing the caregiver’s attempts to help or request for help. If you disagree with a method, discuss it with those involved. Name-calling and back-stabbing build a wall that helps no one.

Ask the caregiver what they need. Time, support, and finances are the biggest caregiver’s needs, but as mentioned above, sometimes all that’s needed is time away. Or a shoulder to cry on.

Ask the caregiving recipient what they need. The recipient may have certain wishes too. Get clear on whether or not that person seeks or wants assistance and find a compromise to accommodate both. This is TOUGH!

Seek out resources. With family caregiving on the rise, more resources are becoming available to help. You can help the family caregiver by doing the research for him/her!

Acceptance. Be aware that there is only so much you can do as a caregiver. Do what you can but know that you can’t force people to participate, comply, or help.

As with all things in a relationship, communication is the key to success. For caregiving to be a success, open the discussion with family before the need becomes a reality.

Kristen

A Different Family Reunion: Moving Past Heartache and Disagreement

It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye
–‘The Living Years’, song & lyrics by Mike & the Mechanics

Is there anything that gets you thinking about your own life more than a funeral? Last week I attended a friend’s funeral and compared the planning lessons learned from my father’s funeral.

While planning is a top priority to reduce stress and allow time for grieving, another overlooked necessity is overcoming family discord.

Every family has issues. Every family has someone that has fallen out of favor or holds a grudge against someone else, for whatever reason. At the time of the grudge-inducing event, emotions are high, tempers are short, and pride is set in stone. While peace is attempted, it often fails and carries on for years, even decades.

At my father’s funeral, I had an opportunity to repair my relationship with my brother Bill, after 40 years of silence. All I know is that when I was 13, I stuck my tongue at him and I haven’t been forgiven. At the funeral I hugged him, told him I missed him, and promised to call when he got home again. I felt optimistic that the years had melted the pain and we could return to being brother and sister. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. He never answered my calls. He eventually sent me a message to quit bothering him because he wasn’t interested in talking to me anymore.

As we get older, we’re often driven to re-examine our relationships.

  • Do we miss someone?
  • Do we need to apologize to someone?
  • Do we need to forgive?
  • Are the issues that initiated the anger still important?
  • Do the years melt the discord away?

My story is no different from yours or anyone else. We try. We keep on trying. We don’t give up. Maybe a few more years is needed.

I wasn’t there that morning
When my father passed away
I didn’t get to tell him
All the things I had to say…
I just wish I could have told him in the living years
–‘The Living Years’, Mike & the Mechanics

Instead of waiting and wondering, start now. Attempt to make peace while everyone is still living. If you keep trying, it’s better than the regrets of, “I wish I would have apologized before he died.”

What first step can you take?

Kristen

Funeral Planning: Sooner Rather than Later

A hard reality of getting older means we must face our mortality and that of our loved ones. November 2015 my father died and this week, my partner’s mother died. Both parents had been suffering from various illnesses and deterioration. While our families knew the end was coming, one family had planned far in advance and one had not. It’s a difficult time made tougher by lack of planning.

The unplanned family:

  • My father’s death occurred 8pm on a Monday evening. The hospice team contacted a funeral home recommended by my mother’s church since she had none pre-arranged. When asked why she didn’t arrange things ahead of time, she said, “I didn’t want to admit your father was dying. It was too hard to take.”
  • I contacted family members secretly since mom was not ready to talk.
  • Within minutes, calls of condolences began to arrive along with the funeral home requesting information.
  • My mother was too distraught and ‘needed time’ to process what had just happened. Prepping was deferred to Tuesday morning.
  • In the meantime, friends & family members were calling me from across the country needing details from the deceased’s last minutes to funeral arrangements. I became overwhelmed and deferred family calls to my uncle. Thank goodness for the firestorm of social media!
  • My father’s sister took charge on finding hotel arrangements for out of town visitors early Tuesday.
  • Very little sleep and eating occurred between Monday evening and Saturday morning, the time of the funeral. My uncle arrived a few days in advance to console my mother and assist. I got a decent meal midday Thursday.
  • Emotions slowed the planning process. The pastor and funeral director asked my mother questions about favorite music, favorite passages, themes, and more. Each question stirred memories and turned on the waterworks for my mother, further delaying the process.
  • My mother needed to transfer funds to cover funeral costs, with a resulting time delay that slowed the process and increased her stress.
  • My brother arrived Friday and began barking orders after things were already settled. Tension escalated as he found fault with details he felt he should have been consulted on.
  • The day of the funeral arrived and was a special, although emotional event. I slept 12 hours that night.

Does that give you the heebies? If you prefer a stress-free approach to funeral planning, address the topic now—for yourself as well as family members. Here are the benefits to pre-planning, as experienced by my partner’s family:

  • The parent decided the details of his/her funeral in advance, from clothing to be worn to the music chosen for the event. Services were paid in full at the time of planning.
  • Grieving family members are given time to grieve. Emotions were still high, but the pre-planning reduced the stress.
  • Contact people and phone trees were in place. A pre-designated family representative made the call that started the process. It also helped the funeral director and related services to have a primary contact.
  • Surviving family members managed friends, family, and minute details without an overload of stress. The family representative delegated tasks.
  • The day of the funeral arrived and was a special, although emotional event.

Attending any funeral gives us a hard reality check which has us considering our own arrangements. Start the process now with these additional tips:

  • Make sure everyone knows what you want.
  • Listen to family’s complaints but stick to your preferences.
  • Write your obituary. Update as needed.
  • Prepayment eliminates a rush for funds.
  • Update styles and preferences every 3 to 5 years.

End of life isn’t easy but the more you plan ahead, the more you are assured your last wishes are honored and the process is less stressful for our loved ones.

Kristen

Helping a Parent Downsize: Simplify the Process to Maintain Sanity

“The best things in life aren’t things.” – Art Buchwald

Downsizing is one of those life events you hear everyone else talking about, but when it suddenly enters your family circle, it often comes as a shock.

December 2009, my 72 year old father fell, suffering severe traumatic brain injury and paralysis. My mother, 70, was suddenly alone in a 3-level home, with 8 large rooms, 3 bathrooms, and 2 acres of land to care for. It became overwhelming in a matter of weeks which initiated phase one of her downsizing.

My family is among the growing population of those engaged in downsizing activity, whether due to health, financial, or other reasons. Whatever the situation, it’s an emotional, energy-draining time for all involved. If you are helping a parent downsize, here are several tips to make the process easier.

Start with goals

It’s a huge undertaking to weed out years of accumulating all those beloved things. Establish a plan before you begin.

  • How much time do you need?
  • Who is available to help?
  • Who can contribute labor, resources, or finances?
  • What services will you need to help?
  • Where will your parent go once downsizing is complete?

Family assistance

Family members are spread across the country (and further) and may not be readily available to help. Involve everyone in the planning process and request their feedback. When can each one visit? How much is everyone willing to contribute—physically and financially?

Before

Who gets what?

Before you donate, recycle, or throw away anything, begin with an inventory review. Every family has something of sentimental or monetary value and it is best to establish who wants what in advance to reduce or eliminate family friction. Once treasures have been claimed, move across the family tree. There may be a college student, a newlywed couple, a divorcee, or new parents that may need the items your parent is eliminating.

Hire experts

House cleaning crews, yard care providers, and handymen are experts that can help with various tasks. My mother hired a cleaning lady who helped pack boxes for donation

Find volunteer help

Community, church, or scouting groups may offer volunteers to pack or haul donated items. Make sure they are reputable service providers to avoid theft or other problems.

After

Recycle, donate, and throw away

Recycling: many cities and states offer a wide range of recycling services. Earth Day events (occurring in April) offer opportunities to recycle and donate a vast assortment of items. Search your area to find local recycling resources.

Donation Centers: schools, churches, homeless shelters, animal shelters, nursing homes, non-profit organizations, and civic organizations have an ongoing need for donated items. Contact these for their latest requests. My mother donated her baby grand piano to a local nursing home. The nursing home was ecstatic to receive such a gift and Mom was thrilled to find a happy home for the piano.

General Advice to help parents downsize:

  • Gentle, steady pressure is best. Getting angry or demanding will cause harm, create tension, and slow progress.
  • Work within a parent’s physical ability: the process is emotionally & physically draining. Help set goals and offer to help as often as possible.
  • Let parents make as many decisions as possible. They’re already emotionally involved; giving them the lead will lessen the heartache.
  • Get out of the acquisition phase and into the thinning phase sooner rather than later. Discuss with parents will acquire their stuff or what they would like done with it once they are no longer around. This is a good exercise for all of us.

Downsizing a household will stir up a lot of emotions for everyone involved, but the sooner you discuss the process and plan, the easier it will be when it occurs.

Are you or a parent downsizing? What were your experiences? Do you have suggestions to add?

Kristen

Seeking Work/Life Balance? The Family Phone Tree May be the Place to Start

“Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create” ― Jana Kingsford

You are a busy person: you juggle client calls, appointments, and projects on a daily basis, sometimes simultaneously. Similarly, you field random calls and requests from family members that range from rants, venting, or general (unimportant) information. Yes, there is the occasional emergency, but the likelihood of a true emergency tends to be low.

Most often, family calls are predictable, based on plentiful past experience so when their call arrives in the middle of the work day, we’re faced with a few options:

  • Answer immediately because it’s always a joy to speak to this person.
  • Answer immediately because this particular family member rarely calls and it could be critical.
  • Cringe and decide: do we answer knowing the call is a false alarm?
  • Let the call go to voice mail because we’re working in our business.

When was the last time you pressed your way through a company’s phone tree system? These automated recordings are designed to efficiently direct us to the most knowledgeable or helpful person to handle our need. While they are an annoyance, and I’m not convinced this is efficient for us as the caller, there must be some time savings for the business. Following a recent series of distracting calls from various family members, I wondered how this system would work with the family. Would this feature simplify the work/life balance for a business owner wedged in the Sandwich Generation? Here’s how mine would sound:

Hello my dear Family Members. I’m sorry I cannot answer your urgent call at this moment, but I’m involved with clients at this time. Listen to the following options to best serve your needs. Please listen to the full menu as our options change frequently.

  • Mom/Dad, press 1
  • Spouse/partner, press 2
  • Son/Daughter, press 3
  • Sibling, press 4
  • All other family members, press 5

(You will need to personalize your family phone tree for best results.)

Beyond the first level of categories, there would be some similarities. Here is how I would define level 2:

  • Press 1 if you are calling because someone won’t eat their dinner.
  • Press 2 if the family member won’t complete their chores.
  • Press 3 if another family member is annoying you.

You’ll also need to include additional categories for each group:

For your parents (in my case, my mother), I need to include:

  • Press 4 if this is a news flash about April the Giraffe
  • Press 5 if this is regarding the latest political gossip
  • Press 6 if you are worried about something

For your partner/spouse, include:

  • Press 4 if you want to discuss what to have for dinner
  • Press 5 to compare the latest story from our children
  • Press 6 if you want to tell me details about your latest World of Warship battle

For Son/Daughter, include:

  • Press 4 if you are complaining about work
  • Press 5 if you are venting about life in general
  • Press 6 if this is a request for money
  • Press 7 if you are seeking advice which you plan to ignore

For those that receive the rare call from extended family members (cousin, aunt, estranged family member), this signifies something potentially critical, so it’s wise to answer immediately.

Regardless of which direction the person-in-question blunders through the family phone tree, they must record their message, which will then be queued in order of pre-determined urgency. Then on a break, you can address the issues in order of importance.

There are many joys to being a business owner and working from home, but dealing with family members is one of the darker sides of business ownership. It’s best to treat with love, patience, a bit of humor, and the family phone tree. Would such a system improve your quest for work/life balance?

Perhaps there’s an entrepreneur out there who recognizes this need and is building a prototype now!

Kristen Edens

Introvert to Impromptu Presenter: How Do I Do It?

“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some it’s a Broadway spotlight, for others, a lamplit desk.” ~ Susan Cain

What’s it take to run a successful business?

For me, as an introvert, I needed to develop social confidence. That meant attending public events. Lots of them. In my first 3 years of business, I attended 3 to 5 networking events, within a 150 mile radius, per week. When my confidence wanes, or when I get too comfortable, I add more to my agenda.

This week I attended my first Medici Magic Meetup sponsored by the Medici MediaSpace, a new co-working space in St. Louis. Upon entering the room, several pairs of eyes turned to greet me—always an anxiety-inducing situation for an introvert. However, I implemented my GOYA strategy for a successful event, which included the dreaded saying hi to everyone in attendance. Individually.

Next, each of the 15 attendees were offered a moment to introduce themselves. When my turn came, with heart rate and blood pressure soaring, I introduced myself as:

A content development service which attracts clients and guides them through the sales funnel, plus an introvert coach to help introverts achieve their social goals.

Next, we were briefed on Medici’s event format where the audience chooses the discussions. No longer one to let my social fears hold back opportunity, my arm fired into the air, terrifying my brain into whipping up a topic before I was called on: Content Creation: Where are you in the Sales Funnel?

Throughout the first 4 mini-presentations, I listened, participated, while putting together an on-the-spot discussion. With 20 minutes left in the 2 hour meetup, Josh Levey, a co-founder for Medici, pointed to me and said, “I want to say first that you are the most fun introvert that I ever met!” (Thank you, Josh!) I stood, anxiety returning once again, and shared a quick story about being an introvert, my 2-hour parking lot panic and my reward system of chocolate. The crowd enjoyed my story and I noticed a woman, in the back, with a bright smile directed at me. My presentation went well, I received great questions, replied with solutions, and concluded with a call to action.

The result:

  • Several attendees and I had extended conversations
  • It was suggested I do a Ted Talk about my introvert experience—an opportunity that I would never have considered <2 years ago!
  • I arranged an interview for the Missouri SourceLink
  • I’ll be an upcoming guest on the TLC Radio show
  • I provided an introduction for one of the attendees

As I was heading to leave, Theo Clark of TLC Radio, called me aside and introduced me to the woman with the bright smile: Brittany Blount, executive assistant and radio producer with TLC Radio. As a fellow introvert, she was eager to ask me, “How did you do it?”

Again, I was flattered. I shared that I still experience anxiety and it’s an ongoing process to accomplish my goals. Then she asked, “How long did it take you to get over it?”

“It’s not something you’ll be totally rid of nor will you want to,” I explained. “There is strength and joy in solitude, thriving in our own company, and working in a quiet environment.”

With pen and paper ready, Brittany was ready to catch every nugget:

  • Acknowledge and accept your introvert tendencies; that includes the anxiety in social situations. Practice at home, in front of the mirror, and if you are comfortable, in front of family members.
  • Recognize your weakness: which part of a social situation is hardest for you: convincing yourself to attend? Introducing yourself to others? Entering an existing conversation? Exiting a conversation? Once you identify that, ask yourself what it will take to move past the fear.
  • Practice & prepare; have your tagline, elevator speech, and answers to potential questions memorized. Know them so well that you can present without freezing or Filler Words.
  • Go with a goal: what do you wish to accomplish from this event? You are there for a reason, so have your goals memorized so you don’t flee when the discomfort appears.
  • Make the situation about others: start by saying hello and asking them to share what they do. Then listen. But be ready, they’ll ask you the same question.
  • Reward yourself: not before, not during. After! Have that reward waiting for you in the car or at home.
  • Relax: even with your reward and the satisfaction of reaching your goal, you’ll be exhausted. Find a quiet place. Block off noise, people, and distractions. If that’s difficult for your family to understand, let them know you need some undisturbed time alone.

Getting to where I am now isn’t easy and requires ongoing practice, refining, pushing past self-doubt and sometimes tears. What keeps me going is the desire to solve content catastrophes for my clients—making the client my priority. With time, patience, and understanding, you can do it and remain true to yourself.

To learn more about my GOYA Strategy and introvert coaching, call me at 314-856-5747 or write me at kris@kristhescribbler.com

Kristen Edens
An introvert in business

Revelations by our Adult Children: Confessions and Lame Excuses, part 2

It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one. –George Washington

When we become parents, something amazing happens. Yes, we instantly bond with our child, but a sixth sense also emerges. The eye in the back of our head evolves. We learn our child’s habits and personality. We also understand the necessity of playing dumb if we want to have some clue of what our children are up to. When they start telling tall tales, we are (mostly) able to distinguish fact from fiction, but still brush off our sixth sense alarm because we believe ‘my child wouldn’t do that!’ However, the truth emerges later that yes, my child would do, and DID do, that often. Brace yourself for a collection of lame excuses from parents who knew better but were still trapped:

  • A daughter tearfully claimed to be short on cash and struggling to make rent payment. She asked her mother to buy a $200 chemistry book then a week later put a $300 down payment on a $1000 pure breed dog.
  • An Army-reservist son would calmly answer any too-personal query with ‘it’s confidential’, regardless of the question. This convenient reply continued for 2 years after his military service was complete.
  • When parents would ask why their daughter never called to check in at a required time, she would say she left her phone at home. Her cell phone GPS stated otherwise.
  • When a son was asked why he didn’t renew his license plates before the deadline, he replied he had been too stressed to do so.
  • While the father’s car was in the shop for repairs, he asked his son to pick him up after work since the son had his own car (purchased and insured by the father). After being stranded for several hours and finding an alternative ride home, the son stated his phone ran out of juice AND he had other plans with friends.
  • A daughter went against her father’s wishes and moved in with the boyfriend anyway—into an 18-foot trailer, on the boyfriend’s parent’s property. The city later fined the youngsters and it became a rush to find an apartment for the daughter, the boyfriend, and a menagerie of exotic pets. The father paid all expenses, only to have them break up a few months later. When the boyfriend moved out, he shut off all utilities and didn’t tell the ex-girlfriend. The daughter again called dad for help, claiming she had no money, as a pizza-delivery driver, to pay the connection fees.
  • Then there’s the all-time favorite teens & twenty-somethings have tossed out for generations: I forgot.

Are you cringing? What is a parent to do? My best advice is to check in with your spouse, partner or significant other to compare stories; they will vary from person to person, and you may be able to extract elements of truth from the parental collaboration.

On the brighter side: some parents are blessed enough to eventually receive statements of ‘you were right’, ‘I understand now’, or ‘I’ve learned my lesson’. Some of these lame excuses may emerge as confessions later in life, but for now, we must suffer through with love, patience, tolerance, and a little humor. Then maybe when the confessions roll in, you’ll solve some deep family mysteries.

What are some of the lame excuses you have received? What advice can you offer?

Kristen Edens
A grandparent in business

Revelations from Adult Children, aka Confessions and Lame Excuses, part 1

Ziva, 4, fights off garden dragon

Rationalization is a process of not perceiving reality, but of attempting to make reality fit one’s emotions.
– Ayn Rand, Philosophy: Who Needs It?

There must be something magical that happens when an adult child hits the quarter century mark. Some parents are blessed with an adult child that has become an asset to society and is either employed (not as a superstore grocery cart collector) or is attending college. Then there are parents whose quarter-century child still lives at home, in the basement, wandering from job to job or taking an occasional night class, as long as it doesn’t interfere with friends and gaming.

Whichever category of parent you are, there comes a time when your child will approach you with a confession. Sometimes these confessions are triggered by a conversation, a movie, a family crisis, or a streak of conscience. Some of the confessions I received came after spending the night in the emergency room with my daughter and granddaughter or after a pleasant afternoon together. Regardless of the confessional trigger, it’s tough to be prepared for the confessions; just know they will occur. Here are some of my favorites gathered from other parents:

  • One daughter was caught driving without a license at the age of 15. She snuck out of the house at 2am (on a school night) to visit a girlfriend. The friend wanted to ‘drag Main Street’ and then drink afterward. However, the friend drank too much, too soon. Afraid to call for help, the daughter drove the friend home but forgot to turn on the headlights which attracted the attention of the police.
  • Another daughter called her mother from her ‘friend’s’ apartment, asking how to clean an apartment. The mother was suspicious and asked why she was cleaning his apartment (knowing full well how much the daughter disliked cleaning her own room). Advice was given, but 6 weeks later the daughter confessed she was pregnant, linking the event to the friend’s apartment cleaning.
  • Another daughter confessed to creating a nauseating concoction of creamed corn and cocoa powder to convince her parents she was sick. The mixture was deposited into the appropriate receptacle when she was unprepared for school or simply did not want to go anywhere.
  • A son confessed that the broken car window was not the result of a break in, but hanging out with friends, getting drunk, and accidentally locking the keys in the car. They broke the window to gain access and concocted a robbery story. The son also confessed that he later discovered the keys had been in his coat pocket the entire time.
  • A son confessed that he sold the family silverware to buy cigarettes and beer.
  • Another son learned to turn the odometer of the family car back and modify his father’s tire marks to hide his late night escape with friends.

Are you cringing? Are you nodding in sympathy? Those of us who have received confessions are left with jaw gaping and stifled laughter. When asked ‘why are you telling me this now?’ most children would state they felt it was time their parents knew. Others would admit they didn’t know why other than to clear their conscience. At the time, there would have been severe consequences, but maybe since they are now ‘adults’ they are free from punishment. Is it too late?

And these are just after-the-fact confessions. Next week, we’ll explore the lame excuses our adult children have tossed us. Are you ready?

What confessions have you received from your children? Did you confess your sins of youth to your parents? You’re among friends here; let’s hear your tales.

Kristen Edens
A grandparent in business

4 Years Strong and 1 Million Cups Continues to Inspire

In 2012, The Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri introduced the first 1 Million Cups program. Their mission was to educate, engage, and connect entrepreneurs with their community and resources. In 2013, St. Louis added the event to their entrepreneurial activities.

An entrepreneur myself, I first attended the event December 2014 and attended their 2nd anniversary in 2015 (read my experience here). Now, 2 years later, I have returned from their 4th anniversary with equal inspiration, motivation, and insight.

Similar to their 2nd anniversary, the St. Louis 1 Million Cups invited past presenters back for a session on what they learned, highs and lows, and advice.

When asked how their original 1MC presentation made a difference, the common reply was the unexpected reach their video provided them, archived on the 1MC site. Secondly, their presentation validated their credibility and presence in the entrepreneurial environments.

The advice shared remains consistent from 2015 with some extra considerations:

  • Be persistent; stick to your values and your vision
  • Be humble
  • Maintain your focus; life will be easier!
  • Keep getting out there; entrepreneurs spend a lot of time on the phone or their devices. There is great value in meeting others, getting involved, and reaching out.
  • Surround yourself with a dedicated team
  • Be careful who you trust; not everyone will share your values and may sabotage your efforts
  • You know your business best; stick with your vision to avoid straying too far from it.
  • Apply advice with caution; while peers’ advice is well-meaning, it isn’t always the best advice. Remember that you won’t be able to please everyone.
  • If you build it, they will come; while this is the ‘dream’, it isn’t reality. Apply the wisdom above to attract the audience you desire.

When asked what fears they overcame, here are the replies:

Connie Fry of Pony Pizza Company

  • I dealt with a bug infestation in my product. It was devastating but I regrouped and overcame that issue.

Dawn Manske of Made for Freedom

  • I have a fear of failing so it’s the driving force that keeps me moving forward.

Nick Szabo of Get Swizzle

  • Becoming a new parent and startup founder was frightening. I struggled with how to take care of both simultaneously and emerged with extreme time-management skills.

Ali Ahmadi of AirZaar

  • Quitting my corporate job and the financial burden created fear for me. Also a new father, it was my child that got me through the emotional and mental turmoil.

Andrew Glantz of Gift a Meal

  • I feared my youth would be a deterrent; not having enough experience, not being taken seriously, and letting them down troubled me, but instead became the driving force to accomplish my vision.

Rob Rose of SaniTrace

  • I didn’t know anything about the food market or running a business. I taught myself while building and promoting my business.

In the short time since these entrepreneurs presented at 1MC, they have experienced growth personally and professionally. Ari Ahmadi summarized entrepreneurship best:

“Starting a business is miserable. Get up, get out and learn.”

The presenters, the audience, and I agree with his sentiments. We also agree that there is no greater satisfaction than to know we are helping to solve a problem in the world.

What problem will you solve?
Kristen Edens

E-signatures: The Easy, Low-Cost Touch Point to Apply NOW

Stuart Miles of freedigitalphotos.netLast week I wrote an article exploring the ease and comfort of social media marketing vs. email marketing for our business. With email being the preferred method to reach out to contacts and customers, you can make it doubly effective by including a custom e-signature.

Don’t let the term ‘custom’ intimidate you, though. This just means you can take it from the standard:

Sincerely,
Kristen

to

Peace,
Kristen Reed-Edens
Kris the Scribbler
www.kristhescribbler.com
314-856-5747
Don’t fight it. Let me write it!

or even something snazzier to fit your personality or your message. For instance, if you have a scanner, you can scan your own signature into your e-signature, tinker with some features and make it really fancy. Or, you can use varying fonts, sizes and colors to make it look professional.

The custom e-signature isn’t just about your name, either. Consider these questions when building your e-signature:

  • How would you like to close your email?
  • What would be important to your readers?
  • How would you like to be contacted?
  • What would you like the reader to do next?

Scribble some ideas down and then consider these extras:

  • Your tagline
  • Social media icons
  • An accomplishment: top-selling author, recent award recipient, new title or position
  • Links: website, latest blog post, online news story about your business or an accomplishment, link to an upcoming event
  • Images: your logo, a portrait, presentation image
  • Creativity: add a little humor, inspirational quote
  • Call to action: invite your readers to sign-up for your e-newsletter or to download a white paper, discount or other freebie.

Your answers and extras will help keep you top of mind, plus inspire your readers to take further action.

Still stuck for ideas? Take a look below at a few samples of e-signatures I’ve collected and examine those that come to your inbox.

To create your own, most email tools offer basic e-signature options and with a few clicks of the mouse, will automatically include your e-sig within every email.

If you’d like something more detailed, or you don’t want the hassle of creating your own, companies like Wisestamp.com, Docusign.com, Rightsignature.com, or Hellosign.com can help you out. Some of these services offer free signatures (as long as you carry their ad within your signature). Others offer paid services. The beauty of this is there are several options to explore.

Ready to give it a try? Experiment with your e-signature and then send me an email to show and share!

Happy writing,
Kris the Scribbler

(top of page photo credit goes to Stuart Miles of freedigitalphotos.net)

A few samples from my inbox:

Victoria's e-sig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*

Kathy Bernard
kathy@linkedWISE.com
kathy@getajobtips.com
314-620-1184
LinkedIn profile

*

Flourish and Prosper,
Andy
Andy Magnus
www.MyTaxBuddy.com
(817) 413-0303   FAX (888) 870-7884
Since email can be altered by some magic I do not understand, I am not responsible for anything contained herein.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
No trees were killed in the sending of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

*

Kate Brockmeyer
(Founder)
314-420-7173
Twitter: stlbwc
Website: businesswomenconnecting.com

*

Michele Burghardt, Principal
Mareck Marketing Group LLC
DivorcedMilitary.org
314.566.1418
A referral is the greatest compliment of all; please feel free to pass our name on to a colleague.

*

Carolyn Hall
Here’s to your Blossoming into Progression!
CL3 Agency
203-565-6170
www.cl3agency.com

www.about.me/carolynhall

Please ‘like’ and ‘share’:
www.blogtalkradio.com
www.facebook.com

Please join my networks:
www.linkedin.com/cl3agency
www.twitter.com/cl3agency

*

N. Bauman-e-sig image

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nancy L. Baumann
The Book Professor
(636) 787- 7817
“Changing the World, One Reader at a Time”

*

Laura Wiley
Principal|CMO
Marketing Lift, LLC
314.324.0532 | @LauraMWiley
laurawiley@marketinglift.net
Check out our new site! MarketingLift.net

*

Lone-Orange-email-signature-art2
     314.749.0252 c    |    314.282.7462 o   |   www.LoneOrange.com   |  Tiffany@LoneOrange.com
     Proudly recognized as the SBA Home-Based Business of the Year 2013. Read the Announcement