Author Archives: jenatmangrove

About jenatmangrove

I am a consummate creative. I have been a professional artist, designer, author and entrepreneur for 20 years. I am a problem solver, the challenges my life and work bring me are what keep me moving in a positive direction. As well my faith keeps me positive, period!

RePost: Holiday Dreaming

A Stoic Guide To Navigating The Modern Workplace

The image of the Zen philosopher is the monk up in the green, quiet hills, or in a beautiful temple on some rocky cliff. The Stoic, on the other hand, is the antithesis of this idea. The Stoic is the man in the marketplace, the merchant on a voyage, the senator in the Forum, the soldier at the front. In other words, they are like you.

Those jobs might not seem like one well-suited for “philosophy,” but they are. And so are you. For in even the most modern seeming professions, a Stoic is able to peace and clarity. For thousands of years, Stoicism has been a tool for the ordinary and the elite alive — from slaves to emperors — as they sought wisdom, strength and the ‘good life.’ It was philosophy designed for action — for doers — not for the classroom.


What Does Marketing Mean to the Business Owner?

I do a lot of research on how to market my business. I know a guy who has a paver business. He told me something I never let go of. He said the truth of being in business is that we are all in the service industry, we just happen to be selling pavers. I would take this a step further that you keep the mindset of not just being a designer, but a business owner. You have to constantly be aware of the larger concept of owning a business.

There are the four P’s of marketing. I know this sounds boring, but you have to remember you are a business owner first who just happens to be blessed enough to do what you love. You are the first of the four P’s : Product, Price, Promotion and Placement. You are selling you. This will lead to your branding. What is your brand? What are you selling that about you that is any better than what the other 10 “designers” are selling. I will talk about this a little more, but you want to really take a moment here if haven’t already built one and create a mission statement for yourself. I want you to start this marketing journey and get a spiral notebook, this is going to be your “Marketing Dojo” book. You will make notes and plans and keep them all in one place. I have several of these. I have my daily notebook on my desk for phone calls and lists. I can always flip through and review what I may have missed at the end of a busy day. I have my website notebook, I build all of my own sites, yet another creative outlet. I have my book idea notebook, etc. My system for keeping the right thoughts in the right place. I realize I could do all of the in Evernote, but at some point I had to put the technology down and I feel when writing down my ideas it is more visceral for me to do it with the physical motion of hand writing.

You should already have one of these but I do recommend rewriting it once a year to get a grasp of where you want to go and who you want to be. You can start this by considering others you admire and what qualities they hold. Then think of who you are and what you think as being your ideal self. How do you treat people and what legacy do you want to leave? In business these need to apply as well as your personal life. In business, who so you admire and why? What qualities do they own that you would like to emulate? I don’t mean for you to think of what they have accomplished in a physical manner, like how big the firm is or what car do they drive. You need to think of the traits they exhibit and the principles they live by consistently to have gotten them what they do have. Don’t focus on the stuff, focus on the journey. The stuff will come if you are coming from the right place.

Then consider how you want your clients to remember you and talk about you after their project is done. The design will be wonderful, that goes without saying. Any designer can do that, we are trained for it. What other qualities do you have or service can you offer to your clients to make them thrilled to tell their friends about you and refer you to others? When you are thinking of this consider what your abilities are in and around your previous experience, what your other skills are. Clarify your aptitudes and turn them into your purpose. Then step away for a day, come back and refine your message. Print this out and hang it above your desk. Your mission statement is reminder of what you are really after and what goals need to be accomplished to get to that place of leaving an amazing legacy.

Feedback Can Map Your Future

It’s January and time to re-read my favorite guide to life books. The list includes: The Success Principles; The Obstacle is the Way; The Compound Effect and a few spiritual guides.

Self awareness is a goal of mine. This year I’ll be asking for feedback to help me in my journey. I just ran across this little nugget in the Success Principles: “if one person tells you you’re a horse, they’re crazy. If three people tell you you’re a horse, there’s a conspiracy afoot. If ten people tell you you’re a horse, it’s time to buy a saddle.”

When I send out letters to clients to ask for feedback I will be looking for patterns. I’m going to make it a game with my family and see what comes back at me. I’m hoping to be a better mom, wife, designer and business owner.

Canfield suggests to ask “was this week a 1 or a 10?”, if it’s not a 10 there is a follow up question, “what would it take to make it a ten?”

It’s going to be a tough year of becoming g more self aware.

11 perfect ways to recognize your authenticity: Now own that sh*t b*&tch

“Personal authenticity is a daily expression of your core beliefs and your personality. These are the character traits you exhibit every day.” I found this on the web, if you own it, say so….

At times people will judge  and scorn you. I see it, but I make a choice to recognize it peripherally. Then I let it go. This is simply because what others think does not define me. What I actually DO with my life is what defines me, especially when I think of what will be said at my end of life ceremony, get down groove party. Think of that time and you instantly become authentic. Get it right because we are all gonna die.

That is the practice part, to think of what people will say of you and your actions at the end of your life. To get to where you want to be practice these basic actions….

  1. Become self ware, write down what your moral values are, what is your moral compass. I suggest all the things you say about your neighbors and your friends goes here. Ie: “I cant believe she goes out all night without her husband”… equals… I believe time in a relationship should be spent together growing trust and getting to know one another. Think about what is important to you based on what you see happening around you. This is the easiest place to start.
  2. Have an open mind. Greet new things and old things with a smile. Even if you are judging in your mind say out loud, “hey wow, that is so awesome!” My daughter catches me on this on a regular basis. Just yesterday after the little freeze we had here in FL she went outside in the morning and saw everything was covered in white. “Mom, it snowed outside, come out and see!” I go out and simply say thats not snow, its frost. “Mom you are no fun, you are so negative.” I’m thinking snow would be way worse and I was being positive. But I need to practice more to see things with an open mind and a child’s eyes to better appreciate what God has given us in or limited days on this planet.
  3. Have goals. Writ these little boogers down. What are your goals and priorities. What or who are your real actions serving? Are they serving your true goals or are they serving everyone elses goals? Take time to do some self evaluation, figure out what you really want and start taking small steps to go in that direction. What I have found through this practice is if you measure a thing, break down your goal into smaller tasks and set a deadline you will make it happen.
  4. Trust your intuition. I believe true intuition is Gods voice in us. It takes practice to listen calmly and quietly to begin to recognize the difference between that voice and the crazy little voices that pop up in our minds that encourage us in the wrong directions. When you are in a situation you are not sure how to act on, sit in quiet solitude and listen to the different voices that are coming and going. You will start to recognize the calm firm voice that is your intuition, you will sense your own reaction to it with a clear energy like no other. The quiet solitude piece is most important, its easy to make a wrong decision and listen to the wrong voices in our minds when we are too busy.
  5. Don’t Lie. Duh… but it’s harder than you think. We have to first stop lying to ourselves about who we are and what we are capable of. Becoming self aware is a first step. Once we stop lying to ourselves we can stop lying to everyone else. Think before you speak and don’t qualify anything with excuses. Just speak the truth.
  6. Don’t try to be perfect or be someone else. Envy is a hard thing to get away from. Comparing yourself to the Jones’s is never getting you any further in life. We are wasting our energy on trying to mirror something that may not even be true. Usually that person is a total hot mess and we just don’t know it. You are an individual. You are the only you. You are an original, that means there is no else just like you. That idea is so amazing to me. I have this conversation with my kids all the time about not comparing themselves and doing all they can to really live up to their own potential. As adults we should remember the same lesson. Nothing really changes after middle school. We still need to work to live up to Gods potential in us. And it is limitless and abundant.
  7. Be present and pay attention. We all know how to do this, its just whether we choose to do it or not is the question. This means when someone else is speaking you need to put down your phone, get out of your own thoughts and your own agenda and focus on what the other person is saying. Staying present also means focusing on the task at hand and giving it your utmost attention. With all the distractions of technology and the expectations that our phones are constantly on our person, that we should be available immediately, it is a true challenge. Self Discipline is a practice that is not just daily, but a minute to minute practice.
  8. Express your own ideas and opinions. Self expression is key to the health of our creative self. To express our ideas to others takes a great deal of courage and thoughtfulness. writing this piece I realize what a shame it is that so many of us don’t have the courage to speak up in front of others for fear of being judged or shunned. It does take practice to put your own ideas into words, to articulate what you want to say in a meaningful way that isn’t harmful to anyone. What I practice is preparation. Before I go before a client or walk in to a meeting I spend time preparing for that meeting, I gather all the information I possibly can and I have even written down what I want to say so I can edit it and practice before I even walk in the room. I have been shot down before or have been the target of an interrogation unknowingly walking in to a trap. Afterwards I suck it up and shake it off and fix what went wrong. It has usually been a gift that someone was showing me a better way to do things or how to be a better person.
  9. Prioritize what’s important to you and voice it. Finding your voice throughout your life is a journey. So is figuring out what you really want out of your life and setting those priorities. Truth is they change occasionally based on your age and what stage you are in in life. Kids are all about instant gratification, young adults are more about preening and setting goals for college. Then there is marriage and children for a lot of us. And finally retirement and watching your dollars more closely. Setting your goals and deciding how to get to them is immensely important. So is voicing them to others, so their agenda is not yours. If you in a family voicing your priorities is super helpful. You may find that those who care for you will invest in your goals emotionally and try to help you get there faster.
  10. Don’t sell crap. This applies to your job as well as your self image. If you’re in a position where you don’t believe in what you are doing, or you are not happy with your position, you are the only person responsible for making the changes necessary to change the outcome. And if you can’t change your position, find a way to make it better, add value and reality to your situation or change your mind set. And if are in sales, don’t sell crap.  I usually have to argue with at least a couple potential clients about what I charge for my services and the cost of the materials I select for a home. You get what you pay for, you want to pay cheap prices, you get cheap crap. I don’t sell crap. Cant win ’em all.

Personal authenticity is the daily expression of your core beliefs and personality-  its a practice you have to keep at daily.

Own your beliefs and desires and values and you will find that you gain not only respect for your self but respect form others. You will become more of a leader and not a follower. re-read this article occasionally to remind yourself you are important and what make you more important is that you are true to yourself.

repost: the unfair truth about how creatives succeed

Sharing is caring, this is by Jeff Goins

Creativity: a systems approach

What makes a person creative? As human beings, of course, we are all endowed with the ability to create. But, what is the difference between that kind of “little c” creativity and the world-changing “big C” creativity that changes industries and leaves a legacy for generations to come?

In his decades-long study of creativity, management psychology expert Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi described what he called a “systems approach.” Since “creative” work tends to be subjective, he posited a model that included three systems:

  • The domain
  • The field
  • The individual

In order to be considered creative (in the sense that it offers some kind of enduring work the world remembers), a work must satisfy all three of these areas. Here’s how it works: First, an individual must master his or her craft in a given domain (art, science, mathematics,etc.). Then, this person must offer the creative work to a field of influencers in that domain who are trusted experts. Finally, those gatekeepers must decide whether the work is worth being accepted into the domain as being authoritative.

That’s the systems approach to creativity. And as much as I initially winced at the word “gatekeepers” when considering what makes creative work succeed, once I started reading biographies of famous artists, scientists and musicians, Csikszentmihalyi’s theory made a lot of sense. Talent is only part of the equation. The rest is networking.

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We gather strength as we go

Having a conversation with my daughter about how she and her friends treat one another can be such a challenge. Middle school girls are almost impossible to deal with. Typically involves crying and me taking a lot of deep breaths before I speak and offer any kind of wisdom 

High school and mean girls was my living hell. What I know know is that none of it mattered except how those interactions formed my personal level of confidence and self worth. 

My mom worked a ton and my Dad was away for work a great deal. So I floundered and made grave mistakes. 

Today I try to express to my kids this when they are facing mean girls or overly competitive boys talking smack: “transform fear into prudence , pain into transformation, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking.” Nassim NTaleb

These are things we practice all our lives and may never achieve perfection. We can certainly become better people than we are currently. That’s all I want my daughter to know as she goes back to the lunch table and faces off with snarky comments. I told her to not back down and don’t lash out. Stay positive and smile. Stoics had a great idea. We all need to practice the philosophy more and be kind to one another.