Friday, April 15, 2016

No Risk, No Reward...

This week I got some big news. Really the biggest news I've ever gotten related to my business. I was informed that a host on QVC had requested my product by name! Say What??? In addition to that, they want 7515 3-packs. I had to bust out the calculator and found out that equaled a whopping 22,545 individual Wands!!! Oh my! So, while still soaring on Cloud 9, I had to figure out how in the world I was going to get the money together to give to the manufacturer so they could begin to work on making and shipping our biggest order yet.

My mind was racing. I called my business partner and we sat on the phone, thinking of every stray $5 we had lying around. Now I want to be clear...we are NOT talking about personal funds because quite frankly, my kids spend up all of that. I'm talking about money that we have and really, money that we don't quite have our hands on. So, some tough decisions had to be made. Some accounts had to be emptied and some credit will need to be tapped. This endeavor will take every free coin, while also leaving a small (very small) cushion to be able to keep the business going.

After all of this number crunching, I started to reflect. Before all of this NMW business, I was quite risk averse and hesitant to take chances. But then, something happened. I came up on something that meant the world to me, that I firmly believed in, that I could put my energy, blood, sweat, tears and wallet behind. There have been many things that I have questioned in my life but this was not one of them. Even when there were no sales, when I didn't know how to get the next sale, when I felt like I was teetering on the line of, "Do I own a business or do I have a hobby?" I knew, in my heart, that this little tool had the power to be something great, so I kept going. I kept believing because there was no other choice.

So, here I go, balls to the wall, every single chip pushed to the middle of the table, ready to risk it all. Don't get me wrong, it's a calculated, educated risk, but a risk nonetheless. And what's really amazing to me, is that I'm not feeling any trepidation. No panic, no stress. I'm so excited to see what's going to happen. I'm loving watching this movie.

So, you keep watching too. It's going to be a fun ride and no matter what happens, I'll always know that I gave it everything I had! This way I won't have any regrets.

Thank you so much for reading,
Nikki
P.S. Can you pleeeeeeasaaaseee go to www.nikkismagicwand.com and buy some stuff? I need the money, ya'll! :):)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

ROAR!!!!!

Wow, it's been awhile since I've shared with ya. Truth is, if I don't have something pressing to share, I typically don't, although all of the people "in the know" tell you that you need to blog on a regular basis when you have a business. This blog began as a "Pay It Forward" endeavor to share how Nikki's Magic Wand got off the ground because I was getting that question often and I thought it could save folks some of the steps that I took. Another question I get a lot these days is about balancing it all...the 9 to 5, the business, the book, the kids and the list goes on. Frankly, we all are busy, working very hard, and I don't pretend to be busier than anyone else. But, when people ask me, I'm happy to tell them how I manage, even when most days, I don't really know myself.

Tonight, I was in my bed, lounging after watching one of my favorite shows and a thought jumped in my head. It felt like a pressing topic. It may not mean a lot to you but in the effort of being as transparent as possible, here goes....

I always wanted children. It was on my list, along with going to college (which I did) and wearing a suit to work (which I never, ever do). It was what you did or at least planned to do. On the first day of Summer in 1997, I was able to check off that particular goal. It was a girl! I didn't know ahead of time, although I actually really did know. She emerged after 27 hours of labor, almost three hours of pushing and when they held her up, we locked eyes very knowingly, like we'd met long ago. She didn't cry, she just looked at me like, "Hey Mom, it's you." When she was two months old, her dad and I split and then it was she and I against the world. I was 25 and figuring it all out.

This may sound odd, but as she grew, my feelings of actually being her mother would wax and wane. I felt as if she was just a little girl who had come to stay with me. I was unsure of what I was supposed to feel like but I sometimes became concerned that my mother instincts had not really kicked in. One thing I knew for sure was that I felt like her mother when she was in trouble or in pain. Panic set in on an almost physical level as I scrambled to set everything back to normal and make it all ok again.

When she was five, I remarried and the team of two, became a team of three. It was easy at first but as the tweens loomed, each day got harder and harder. I could never determine whose side to be on and it was exhausting. She was my baby, the one who had nestled against my heart, internally and externally, and even when I knew she was straight up wrong, I felt like I had to defend her. When she was hurt or sad or embarrassed or depressed, or treated unfairly, my Lioness kicked it with a vengeance and this "filtered" mother would challenge teachers, employers, her father, her step-father, anyone. I would write letters and make phone calls and sometimes curse and scream. She was mine to protect.

As she grew, her personality emerged and it turned out to be so very different from mine. I was confused by it, exhausted by it, but I also admired it in many ways. She was not a conformist and while I knew that would cause her some heartache, eventually I realized that it would also allow her creativity to flourish and she'd end up teaching her very conventional mother many things.

This story of loving your child beyond all else is not new or novel. Most mothers do just that and more. I'm not special in that regard. So you're wondering, "Uh, Nik, what does this have to do with anything?"

Just like she and Brent are my cubs, to protect and roar at their opposition, we all need to protect the treasures to which we give birth. Whether you have a 9 to 5, a business, a book, a catering service or an actual child, you need to protect its image, reputation, what it gives to the world. You need to believe in it and throw caution to the wind when defending it. You need to allow it to teach you about yourself. You need to stop and listen. You need to plan and plot its success. Just as God gave me these children that I planned and prayed for, He also gave me this idea and the next one and the one after that.

That's my story, well, one of them and I hope you enjoyed the read.

Thank you,
Nik

Friday, February 5, 2016

Someone throw me a life preserver...

Do you know those people who have their e-mails in perfectly created folders? You ask them about an e-mail from 2012 and they can put their hands right on it. Everything is filed expertly and organized and may even be labeled. Yeah, that's not me. I have papers in piles. They are a mixture of Nikki's Magic Wand stuff, book stuff, sorority stuff, you name it. And I name my documents things that make sense at the time but when I go back to look for them, they are no where to be found. I am a bit of a mess. A cute one, but a mess all the same. :)

Here's the thing, I WANT to be organized. I want pretty little e-mail folders but I don't seem to have the "bandwidth" (gotta love those biz terms) to get it done. At the end of the day, my overly comfortable bed comes calling and my files remain a mess. Now don't get me wrong, you will not see me on the next episode of Hoarder's but it's starting to get sketchy.

And don't even get me started on the e-mails that flood my NMW inbox. Oh man, the offers of this webinar and that coaching session. I just want to lie down when they come through. It seems that everyone has something to say of value and I am clearly missing the key to immediate millionaire status by not opening THAT e-mail. It makes me panicked and sleepy all at the same time.

So, I'm supposed to write down my goals and make them measurable and make them big and make them....you get me. If I want to make $100,000 this year in my NMW biz, that means that I need to earn $1923 a week in the business. That's a LOT of doggone Wands and glosses. Especially when you are trying to figure out, on a daily basis, how to get ONE sold, nevermind 192 of those suckers. :)

I'm just trying to be completely transparent with ya'll. Now here's the thing, I'm not complaining. There are a WHOLE bunch of folks who wish they had my privileged problems. I just need to figure out how to get my life together and still get a full night's rest.

This Saturday, I will celebrate 10 years at my current employer. I have only worked for two companies for my entire career and I'm proud of that longevity. It's comfortable and it's how I keep myself in sunflower seeds and Thai food. It's second nature. What I guess I'm getting at is that even three years in now, this biz owner thing continues to be a bit of a mystery. No cruise control for this chick. There is always something new to learn and figure out and while I will NEVER say that's not exciting because frankly, it is, it is simultaneously exhaustion inducing.

This year, I pledge to come up with a system to make things run a bit smoother. I'm going to have to say "No" to more things, particularly if they are outside of my immediate goal.

I've got to pull it together and I WILL! Didn't that sound convincing?

Ok, now can someone come over and help me organize my stuff? I need a nap.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Fear (a deeply personal post)

I've spent my entire life worried and afraid.

I was afraid to disappoint and/or embarrass my granny and father with bad grades and poor life decisions.  I was afraid to tell my granny I wanted to move across the state to Pittsburgh at 17 years old.  I was afraid to have sex with a loser  so I waited.  I was afraid to get pregnant and if I took my pill 10 minutes late I was sure I would just spontaneously get pregnant. I was afraid to go on interviews in my senior year at Pitt because I STILL didn't know what the hell I wanted to do as a career.  When I got fired from my first job, I was afraid I wouldn't get another. After many years at my first real job,  I decided it was time to try something new and I was afraid to leave my "good government job" to go to private industry.  After all,  didn't those people work into the middle of the night and then get fired on a whim? I was convinced that was how it went. 

I was so afraid that I'd die at 33, like my mother did, that I was forbidden from accessing WebMD because I was convinced I had every ailment known to man. It wasn't until I turned 34 that I thought I had a chance of making it.  I was desperately afraid that the bullying my daughter experienced (that I couldn't seem to end) would completely unravel her. I was afraid she'd get pregnant. I spent sooo many years worried about that so when she told me she was,  I crumbled on the spot. I was always afraid of making someone mad at me,  especially my husband and even my kids.  There is a character in the movie,  "The Secret Life of the Bees" who took in everyone else's emotions and it slowly killed her. I understood her struggle.  If a significant other is mad, I'm mad, sad, I'm sad, etc. I was even afraid for my kids to be mad at me.  These people, who were so close to me,  had far too much power over my life and it was maddening. See, if you see yourself as a smart person,  who makes good decisions, then this constant feeling of weakness is an unending source of despair and depression.  You ask yourself,  "How come SHE can be so strong and I can't?" It's really a body blow when people see you as an inspiration, a role model and you feel like a fraud.

Well, as it turns out, none of the really terrible stuff, I worried about, like dying, ever happened. Yep, my kid had a kid but as you see from my many posts, he's a constant source of joy and his arrival showed me my daughter's real strength. 

Fear can cause complete paralysis and you'll find yourself eating too much,  drinking too much and tolerating wayyyy more than you should.

I found out in 2015 that standing up for yourself and "Doing it Afraid" will not only NOT kill me,  it won't kill others either.

Being able to fully view and realize your strength before it's too late is like God giving you more time on your clock.

Whatever is holding you down and back,  find a way to let it go and walk off into your real life. It's a feeling like no other.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Jumping the Shark

Since beginning the Nikki's Magic Wand journey, I have gotten a lot of questions. The one that I have gotten the most is, "When are you going on Sharktank?" I used to smile and say, "Soon, I hope." Back then, I was addicted to the show like so many others. I'd get my notebook out and take notes the entire time, (much like my Granny does when she watches Dr. Oz.). I was ALL IN and quite often envisioned myself on the show. I had a conversation with a local woman who appeared on there and picked her brain for hints and tips. I was gearing up for my Sharktank debut. I even submitted an application to appear on the show. But then, a few things happened....

First, the application came back because the address was wrong online.

Then, Sharktank actually started making me feel badly about myself. Hearing stories about how people made $500,000 in 3 months, while investing $20 and spending $0 on marketing began to piss me off. I started to feel like I was ill equipped for this entrepreneurial life. I started to feel like everyone was smarter than I was. I started to feel that if I went on that show, I'd be dead in the water (pun totally intended).

I've made the conscious effort in my professional and personal life to give up ALL things that negatively affect my self esteem. I KNOW (cuz ya'll tell me :)) that I'm making positive impacts and I don't need to watch a show of what seems to be miracle workers who have sold their goods to 15 kabillion people before even coming on the show with no investment, while I've invested A LOT and quite frankly, am not super close to 15 million, never mind kabillion.

My point is this. I'm a force. I don't need Sharktank to validate me. My journey is my own and I'm pleased with the way it is going. Maybe I'm hating, I'll own that, but I'll also say that I don't know what kinds of connections they've been able to leverage while I'm selling Wands out of my truck and living room. I'm proud of my journey. I'm thankful for my supporters and happy with my trajectory.

Plus, many folks who appear on "The Tank" want to get on QVC and guess what? Been there, done that. :):)

My message is only this. Don't waste your time comparing yourself to someone else because YOU are amazing all on your own and their walk is not yours. This slow and steady climb I've got rocking is paying off in establishing my brand and letting people see what the work looks like close up. Chart your own course and you will win. I promise.

As always, thanks for reading.
Nikki

Monday, October 5, 2015

Be Nicer...to you!

Do you ever ponder why some people choose just the right mate and you keep dating people who could easily be featured in an upcoming Dateline episode? Maybe you're like me and see women flounce around in outfits out of the pages of InStyle, while you lean toward being a bit too matchy matchy and find yourself in the same black slacks twice a week.

It's human nature to compare yourself to others and often when we do that, we decide that we've come up short. We talk to ourselves like a dog in the street.

I'm guilty of this too. "Why do you keep making poor choices, Nikki? Why can't you keep exercising? Why are you procrastinating? Why aren't you a better mother, granddaughter, friend"...and the list goes on and on. I did that for all of my 30s and had let that pointless mindset enter my 40s. Then something interesting happened...

Even though folks tell you not to rely on validation from others to determine your worth, sometimes it can help you down the path of self love if you're struggling. As more and more very generous people (many times strangers) took the time to tell me that they were inspired by the NMW journey, I started to see myself through a more positive lens. I started to think, " Yes, I've made some missteps but I've done a lot right too." And you know how it is when you finally get an A, you keep wanting to get them because you know you can.

Please give yourself a break. Talk to yourself kindly. YOU are the one that is garnering comments like, "Why can't I be like HIM/HER?" You have SO many strengths and gifts that it's crazy.

Today commit to focusing on your Pros and not your Cons.

Thank you for reading,
Nikki

Friday, October 2, 2015

A different American Dream....

The word "down-size" has a negative connotation. When people hear it, they think of losing one's job or having to live a lesser life. I guess I felt the same way about the word in years' past. However, my mind-set around that has changed.

I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Yes, there was always food, shelter and even some luxuries as well but I certainly didn't grow up well off.  My dad and Granny were strong money managers and could stretch a dollar in ways you wouldn't imagine. That's what I learned, work hard and spend wisely.

About 10 years ago, I had the opportunity to build what could be considered a "dream" house. I was able to put special touches on it and make it my own. It was/is a lovely home. People would say kind things to me about it and that always made me smile, but I never really lost sight of the fact that it was just bricks and siding and with the whim of my employer, I could be led right out of that place, with a bandana tied to a stick. Big houses often times equal Big bills and after awhile, that's all it represented to me. Thanks to the lessons from my parents, I could still vacation and buy a pair of pants from time to time, but I began to feel that there were different things I wanted out of life.

I have started to truly value experiences over "things." I want to pick up and head to my new fave, St. Thomas on a whim. I want to get weekly massages (yep, I said weekly). I want to treat my friends more often. I want to travel with my children and give them new perspectives and views on life. I want to set up strong college savings for my little boys and help my daughter buy her first house in a few years. I want someone else's hands in my hair and on my nails on a VERY regular basis. I want to buy gourmet groceries and drink expensive alcohol. I want to (maybe :)) work with a personal trainer to work off the cupcakes I refuse to give up. I want to donate more. I don't want to just live, I want to THRIVE.

As we know, everything comes with a sacrifice, but sometimes the sacrifice is too large. I wear a lot of hats and I must say, I've decided that I REALLY want to play as hard as I work. Yes, life is too short and we could be gone tomorrow but in addition to that, there's just SO much to see and do and God willing, I plan to see and do it.

No one will EVER be able to take away a phenomenal memory, the affect that a certain smell will have on you, recalling the look of wonder on your child's face when they see something new. And "things" don't matter at all if you don't have good health and peace of mind.

Having snatched a bit of the traditional American Dream of a decent salary and a comfortable home, I've begun to think outside the box and am planning to enjoy more of life, with less encumbrance. I'm smiling thinking about it. :)

As always, thanks for reading.
~ Nikki