Sunday, July 27, 2014

Why I’ll Never Be a Food Blogger

A couple of months ago a woman I know signed up for a six-week boot camp program to lose weight before an upcoming family wedding. She prefers participating in intense exercise programs over crash dieting when trying to lose weight quickly. Unfortunately this time around she injured her knee during a running exercise two weeks in. Her orthopedic reluctantly agreed to give her a cortisone shot before the wedding, so she'd be able to walk without pain. Since she still wanted to lose weight, she asked when she could rejoin her boot camp class. To her surprise he said, "Never."  Considering her age - 52 and her physical condition he would never recommend she participate in let alone begin an exercise program with a boot camp.  Instead he suggested she change her diet and once her knee healed - walk for 30 minutes every day.  If she did these two things he guaranteed she'd lose weight.

What diet changes did he recommend?
The majority of her diet should consist of fruits, vegetables and proteins.  A serving of protein should be the size of her fist with the remainder of her plate being filled with fruits and vegetables.  

An idea for a food blog is born:
Almost immediately she began complaining about her new diet: fruits and vegetables were expensive, they spoiled too quickly, her husband and son wouldn't eat them, it was only week two and she was already tired of salads.

I came up with an idea for a food blog - The Savvy Diet - it would be based on meals consisting of vegetables, fruits and proteins.  I began researching seasonal foods and planning healthy menus with families and budgets in mind.  I took photos of my meals and jotted down post ideas. I began reading Dianne Jacob's book Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Reviews, Memoir, and More (Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Blogs,).

Why I'll never be a food blogger:
While reading about good writing and a food writer's voice in Will Write for Food I became overwhelmed with feelings of imposter syndrome not only for food writing, but for all writing.  (Note my absence from this blog).  I set the book aside.

Then while perusing a recipe for peaches and cream cake given to me by the above woman I noticed she had written in the margin next to the ingredients, "I use raspberry flavored peaches (Del Monte)."  At that moment I knew I was not a foodie and would never be a food blogger.  I would never, not ever in this life time, have thought to add a raspberry flavored peaches to this recipe or to any recipe.  I returned my copy of Will Write for Food to the library without ever reading the chapter on food blogging.

What does this mean for my Career Reinvention Challenge?
According to James Altucher in his post The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Reinventing Yourself to discover your "it" you should go to the bookstore and find 500 books about it. If you get bored three months later go back to the bookstore. As to my career reinvention I've ruled out food blogging/writing and I'm heading back to the library.

What qualities do you think make a successful food writer/blogger?

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Career Reinvention at 52

Today is my Birthday, I am 52 years old.  When I graduated from high school my mother was 42, at that time I couldn't contemplate ever being 42 much less 52.  My goals at 18 were to get as far away from my family farm in western Wisconsin as possible and to live a life as unlike my mother's as I could.  I envisioned my life to be much like my high school French teacher's. She lived, what seemed to me, a cultured life in Madison, Wisconsin and traveled to Europe each summer. Unfortunately my life didn't turn out quite like that.

Instead all I do is work.  When I'm not working I'm thinking about work or not sleeping because I'm stressed about work.  As you may recall last year I didn't use nine of my earned vacation days and this year I'm heading in the same direction.  It is always something - a deadline I am required to meet, an audit that needs my attention or a meeting I am required to attend. This week I went in while sick to calculate commissions that were too difficult to explain over the phone. Part of the problem is my company's A-type work culture and part is my ingrained dairy farmer work ethic. A small dairy farmer never takes a vacation day and has to milk the cows even when sick.

My only plan of escape is to retire early.  If all goes well that will be six years from today.  One of my former co-workers retired early last November.  He too had an over-developed work ethic. As a stress reliever he began counting down his work days until retirement.  Instead of answering the phone with hello he would say "232 days."  The other day while commiserating with another co-worker about our heavy workloads I said, "6 years and 3 days."   He replied, "Don't start that."  He thought our retired co-worker's count down was super annoying.

I don't want to become the annoying co-worker with the bad attitude and besides 6 years is a long time to be miserable.  It is also a long time to never take a vacation day and to work while sick. Plus, I don't think I'm the type of person who could lounge in retirement bliss. I will want to do something. Instead I need to figure this out and somehow reinvent my career. Ever since I started blogging I've had visions of living where ever I want and making a living in some fashion from my laptop. Doing what is the question.

My favorite career reinvention post is James Altucher's The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Reinventing Yourself. He says it takes five years to reinvent yourself.  Here is his recommended five-year plan:
  • Year One: you’re flailing and reading everything and just starting to DO.
  • Year Two: you know who you need to talk to and network with. You’re Doing every day. You finally know what the monopoly board looks like in your new endeavors.
  • Year Three: you’re good enough to start making money. It might not be a living yet.
  • Year Four: you’re making a good living
  • Year Five: you’re making wealth
So in my 52nd year I plan to read everything and start to Do.  Altucher claims reading 200-500 books are equal to one good mentor. I'm not going to write about how difficult it is to find time to read.  I love reading, so I'm just going to get busy and read.  I will keep you informed about what I learn.

I also plan to continue my career interview series.  My interviewees have been informative, passionate and helpful. If you would like to be part of this series please email me at

Have you reinvented your career?  If so, what helped you the most? 

Monday, July 07, 2014

Don't Believe Anyone Else's Fears

One of my favorite sections in Jenn Aubert's book Women Entrepreneur Revolution: Ready! Set! Launch!: 100+ Successful Women Entrepreneurs Share Their Best Tips on What Works, What Doesn't (and Why) ... a Business and Designing a Life You Love is the chapter titled Gems of Wisdom. It includes business advice from the over 100 female entrepreneurs Aubert interviewed for her book.

I especially enjoyed this gem from Michelle James the CEO of The Center for Creative Emergence:
Give yourself space, time, and attention to hear your inner source of guidance. Let it surprise you.  And don't believe anyone else's fears - the naysayers - it's a reflection of their fears. (Pg. 214)
I immediately thought of my brother and his never ending torrent of business ideas.  When he asks me to evaluate them I am almost always negative; he will lose his home, never find another day job and his family will end up living in a van by the river.   This quote helped me realize my objections are more about my fears and values - I value security - than his ideas.   

Shawne Duperon of Shawne TV provides an example of the advice I should be giving him:
Get cash flow handled.  BE sure to have at least 3 primary clients so you can generate and play in marketing. Don't borrow money for PR.  Cash flow is king and lowers fear so you can play.  (Pg. 218) 
Since I know he likes a good investment tip, this one is for you B:

At a recent seminar Bruce Johnstone, CFA was asked where he would invest $100,000 today:
He began by reminding the crowd interest rates will not remain as low as they are today, so first he would leverage his real estate.  Then he would use that money along with the $100k to invest in early stage venture capitalist projects such as purification of fracking water, developing insulation products and waste to energy products.  He would invest in all of these before solar and wind. 

There you have it younger brother, if you decide to go ahead with his plan don't ask my opinion because Johnstone lost me at the word leverage.