Archive for the ‘21 day practice of capitalism’ Category

21 Day Practice Of Capitalism – Day 21 – Gifts from My Mother

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

This is the one year anniversary of my Mom’s funeral.   I am very very lucky as I got to spend the first 50 years of my life with an amazingly creative, nurturing, disciplined and driven woman who shaped who I am today.   I learned so much more about her and her impact on me with her passing.   She is that guiding thought that keeps me keeping on through the darkest of times in life and in running a business.   When she was still with us, and I’d reach out to her for comfort during difficult times – her wise words of wisdom were – it will get better.   And it always did get better.   And it still always does.   Life at times is tough, but the tough times never last.  The clouds evaporate from the sun shine behind them as do the challenges of life.

Here is the eulogy I did at her funeral a year ago – thanks to a good friend who had the foresight to record it.

21 Day Practice of Capitalism – Day 20 – Resistance

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

I’ve had ten days of continual company – first was a big family party for my Father for his 80th birthday then some good friends stopped by for two nights on their way from Denver to Portland.   In the first round of company – I got the pleasure of perpetually cleaning the kitchen as it seems the males in my family have developed an allergy to picking up after themselves.   I discovered the more I resisted cleaning the kitchen, the harder the job was.   But when I donned these “sexy” hot green rubber gloves, I became a white tornado and had the kitchen cleaned in no time.   Realizing that like a colicky baby, this too shall pass and my family would be back to their own homes, I decided to change my attitude and stop resisting cleaning the kitchen as it was not helping me at all – and it was hurting my ability to enjoy my family.   And wasn’t that the reason we all got together anyhow?

I started thinking, where else in life is resistance to whatever also hurting my enjoyment of life.   My friend visiting on her road trip with her family shared with me this book she was reading – called “The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles.” It is all about how resistance to anything sabotages creativity.

I recently completed reading The Untethered Soul – and in that book the author teaches you how to become more conscious of how you are resisting pain and how this hurts your ability to achieve long lasting happiness and fulfillment in life.   Whatever you resist in life persists.

I notice this resistance element is what stymies my creative efforts, ability to grow, and ultimately my happiness.   When I just get down to just doing it, everything flows.  A sense of all is right with the world prevails.    And I experience this in every element of my life.  I used to resist exercising – then I got this device called the Fitbit.   Once I saw how sedentary I actually was, it increased my awareness and stopped my resistance to exercising.  Now instead of resisting exercising, I look for opportunities to move more.

My perpetual question has become – what am I resisting and why?  Sales have doubled over the past ten days in comparison to the previous ten days.  Is this related to my letting go of the need to “resist” and just allowing things to flow?   Whatever the reason, the desire and the choice to resist anything is no longer serving me and I’m letting it go as it appears.

Initial Mind Map of the Untethered Soul Book

Initial Mind Map of the Untethered Soul Book

21 Day Practice of Capitalism – Day 19 – Gestation

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

Everything in life has a cycle. The more in tune I am to those cycles, the easier life seems to be. One of my businesses is a cattle ranch. I got into this 9 years ago based on two different magazines I had with me on a trip to kick off a Project Management conference in Mexico City. One of the magazines had a cover story on the growing obesity epidemic in America. The other magazine was about Belgian Blue Cows – a breed of cattle that had a naturally occurring genetic mutation for not having any fat, but producing beef that is lean, tender and full of flavor. A big part of our obesity problem is in how we were producing our food. Corn fed beef is as bad for you as white flour and corn syrup. You might as well take this type of “food” and strap it to the outside of your belly as that is where it will likely end up anyhow.

One of my colleagues raised grass fed beef and I asked her if she could raise one of these cows for me. Nine years later, I have one of the largest herds of these cattle on the west coast. As we got into it, the whole business became more and more interesting. We discovered early on the big reason this breed does not do well in the open range cattle ranching practiced in the Western US was because they have a difficult time giving birth naturally. We set out on a program to develop a breed of this cattle that can give birth naturally. This is not a fast internet turn on a dime type of business. We have a one year cycle every year to see how we are doing. We have lost a number of cattle as we made a choice not to continue breeding bad genetics that caused the difficult birthing characteristics. Last season we had ten live births. We now have a breed of this cattle that can give birth naturally.

We have started selling beef. Next we are going to figure out how to sell the genetic material – primarily the embryos. Nine years ago, we got our first ten calves from a rancher in Texas who started his herd with embryo’s implanted in large daily cattle. It took nine months for those zygotes to turn into calves as well. Some things in life you just can’t rush. In the book “Patience: A Little Book of Inner Strength” by Eknath Easwaran – I was reminded: “You can achieve any goal you want when you are patient.” We are on our ninth gestation cycle and we are realizing our goal.

21 Day Practice of Capitalism – Day 18 – Channels

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

Just like water flows into a pond from multiple streams,  sales flow into a business from multiple channels.   Working these channels to keep the cash flow moving is a big part of the marketing machine of Cheetah Learning.   Today we focused on two of our biggest channels – increasing the conversion rates of our google adwords campaigns and giving our PMI chapter affiliates more support in promoting Cheetah Learning courses to their members.   Channel partners are a valuable resource and we enjoy cultivating great relationships with them.   The key is to be savvy on how to improve those relationships.   We were approached today by a company offering to increase our google conversion rates and they only get paid when they are successful with increasing conversions.   I made sure we both agreed that a conversion was an actual payment received for the registration of a course    We shall see how it all turns out with them if they will work under this definition of a conversion…

21 Day Practice of Capitalism – Day 17 – Making Do

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

Being an entrepreneur means being impatient to see your ideas become reality.  And being impatient means that at times you have to figure out how to achieve your objectives with what you have on hand.   Many times I’m stymied to accomplish what I’d like to do because the technical solution to pull it off is just too complicated.  When I take a step back and look though at what is possible when I use what I have at hand, the results are usually pretty darn good.   This week was certainly a lesson in making do.   And making do with respect to creating videos for the business is becoming easier and easier.

In setting up the Haines Guest House – we used a small camera on hand (Canon PowerShot SX210, a point-n-shoot with decent HD video capturing ability) and repurposed an older Mac Powerbook with iMovie installed to create a welcome video.

The February Sweepstakes for Cheetah Alumni.

The February Sweepstakes for Cheetah Alumni.

I spent the week onsite with the Director of Marketing of Cheetah Learning – we brainstormed ways we could reward our Cheetah Alumni for excellence in Project Management.   We developed a sweepstakes where our Cheetah students can complete a PM Scorecard for free.  A PM Scorecard measures their project management performance – based on input from the Project sponsors, stakeholders, customers, and team members. The cheetah student who has the highest PM Scorecard ranking wins $1000.  All entries are due by March 15th and the winner will be announced on St. Patty’s Day March 17th.   When discussing this idea with our head of technical support, she mentioned that tech support gets a lot of calls because when registering for the PM Scorecard people get a little confused as to who to identify as the Project Manager.   So I wanted to make a short video clip that showed how to register for a PM Scorecard.   I was able to download a free trial version of Adobe’s Captivate.   I took a class on how to use Captivate on for $37.50 and voila – our first software simulation video.   Check out our sweepstakes campaign with our instructional video on how to register for a free PM Scorecard for our Cheetah Alumni.

21 Day Practice of Capitalism – Day 16 – Deliberate Practice

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

According to Malcom Gladwell’s book “Outliers” he shows how the extremely accomplished person in any field has spent at least 10,000 hours honing their craft.    But they don’t stop there.   Even after accomplishing the 10,000 hour requisite for mastery, it is imperative you focus on continually upgrading your skills in your mastery domain.   Especially in today’s fast moving technology changes.  One of my areas of mastery is teaching.   And even though we never use Power Point presentations in Cheetah’s training courses because we have found the person who does the most learning is the one who creates the power point presentation, we do use power point for marketing presentations.   For the next month several of my colleagues and I at Cheetah Learning are upgrading our marketing presentation skills by learning several extension products to power point.  This also gives us a chance to share our unique expertise with each other in a deliberate and guided practice.

21 Day Practice of Capitalism – Day 15 – What’s in a Name?

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

It's Official - here is our logo for our new B and B - the Haines Guest House

It is official - here is our logo for the Haines Guest House. Thank You Sharene Lewis of Pi Design.

In any new endeavor, the name of the effort emerges over time.   When I started my first company at 25 – I called it Environmental Requirement Associates.   The mission of that business was to help electronics company’s adequately design their systems for the environments they would encounter.   Three months later though with no clients for the first mission but having defense contractors contacting me to write their proposals for government contracts, that company name made no sense at all.   I soon changed it to EnRA – which enabled me to brand it anything I wished.   Another of my businesses, I called Wired for Success.   When Wired Magazine sent me a cease and desist and being too naive at the time to fight it, I changed the company name to Success Connections.   And before Cheetah Learning was Cheetah Learning – it used to be called Quantum Learning Systems.   That was until Quantum Learning sent me a cease and desist.   Well I did agree with that one and came up with a MUCH better name for the company – Cheetah Learning.   So when we initially hijacked a name from another enterprise I’m setting up called Inspired Eagle for the Bed and Breakfast, and called it Inspired Eagle Bed and Breakfast, I was relieved when our host came up with a better name – the Haines Guest House.   I’ve had some pretty bad experiences at Bed and Breakfasts (and some great ones too) – but for the most part it’s somewhat of a crap shoot.   Especially when you’re staying in someone’s home – as it can sometimes be just downright awkward.   We wanted to convey a sentiment that the home away from home we were setting up was specifically for guests and it is in Haines, Alaska.  We also wanted a name that would convey an element of simple elegance, conviviality, and gracious hospitality.   Haines Guest House does all this – far better than the initial name of the Inspired Eagle B and B.

21 Day Practice of Capitalism – Day 10 – Anticipate Delays

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

The view from the Executive Business Suite at the Inspired Eagle Eco Bed and Breakfast in Haines, Alaska

The view from the Executive Business Suite at the Inspired Eagle Eco Bed and Breakfast in Haines, Alaska

Setting up a B and B in rural Alaska takes a special form of patience. When we need something we can’t find in town, we have to figure out how to get it up here from the lower 48 or do without.    I’ve learned in the ten years owning property up here, it’s far better to source as much as you can from the merchants in town.  That way there are also people in town who can help you fix it.   Lets take a look at what this means:

Internet service – yes we used to have a high speed satellite dish for the internet.   Sometimes the guy who could work on it was in town, sometimes he wasn’t.   The house that is now becoming the Inspired Eagle B and B has been on the market for two years.   So for two years it sat empty – staged for showing.   And for two years, we have not had any internet service here – for who?   The random realtor showing one of the three people who looked at the home around?   As we are readying the house for it’s new mission – becoming the Inspired Eagle Eco Bed and Breakfast – we opted to go with the local telephone company’s high speed internet.    Great service – signed up on Friday and by this afternoon had a 1 Mps service operational.   The service guys (my neighbors) – had an idea of how they can increase it to 4 Mps and are coming back tomorrow to test out their theory.   The home is very far from the next closest transfer station so it’s amazing we even are getting 1 Mps service.   Hmmmm – now I’m remembering why we went with the satellite dish…….  For our needs right now, we are choosing reliability and service over performance.  When we used this house for corporate retreat meetings for Cheetah Learning – we needed the highest speed internet we could get.   But we weren’t here that often so the advance team could make sure it was all working.   Now, the house has a different mission.   The local telephone company is a better solution.   The Internet service is not the fastest or the best – but it works.   And when it gets really slow, we’re in paradise – time to get out and enjoy the splendid beauty of this place.   Hopefully our guests will get the pristine setting far exceeds the lower performance of the Internet they may find down south.

Washing Machine – we have an issue with the front loader washer.   But since we purchased it at the furniture store in town five years ago, there is also a repairman in town who knows how to trouble shoot the problem. We had purchased a really fancy dishwasher around the same time from an appliance store in Washington State. The dishwasher is long gone as no one could fix it when we had a problem.   We replaced it with a very basic dishwasher – haven’t had one problem since.

The Soap – Our B&B host arrived today to help with developing the sales, marketing and management systems for the Inspired Eagle Eco B and B.   He just finished a five month work for trade arrangement as the manager of a B&B on the Big Island in Hawaii.   I met him there on my visit in January – this was where the light bulb went off a B and B could convert this property from a liability to an asset.   Our host is a critical success factor for the Inspired Eagle Eco B n B – as I do not have the time to do all the necessary work with the start up and operations.   I am good at business start up and we make a good pair as I have seasoned business systems we can use to launch the B n B (plus the house) and he has the know how, spirit and enthusiasm to start and mange a successful B n B.   I am usually a much better host but today was a very busy day tending to urgent issues with making sure we had adequate heating oil (the place has been empty for almost two years and we were keeping it at 50 degrees with very low reserves of oil in case it sold).   So acquiring soap or shampoo was a low priority.  Making due,  I found these tiny half empty generic travel containers of shampoo and conditioner scrounge up from a stray travel kit. I did though order soap, shampoo, and hair conditioner dispensers for every bathroom and several gallons each of high end shampoo, conditioner and soap.   Yesterday.   So they won’t be here for another week.   We can manage to find adequate soap, shampoo and conditioner for both of our bathrooms in town tomorrow.   Thank god we are in Alaska and hat head as a hairstyle is the in thang so having plump voluptuous hair follicles stimulated from the high end volumizing hair products is just not required.   Guests to a luxury bed and breakfast may not be so understanding of our local habits or preferences – so I ventured outside of Haines via the Internet to procure bathroom products fitting for the premium luxury B n B experience.

21 Days of Capitalism – Day 9 – Platinum Rule

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

I made it to Haines, Alaska to continue work on setting up the Inspired Eagle Bed and Breakfast on an amazing property that I’ve owned since 2005  – it was just looking for the “right mission.   So far so good as I am getting supportive encouragement from my neighbors – many whom are very accomplished artists.   I did an initial walk through the house to see what was left to do to ready it for BnB guests.   And noticed a LOT of bare walls. And I remembered the Platinum Rule – which is one step up from the Golden Rule.  In the Golden rule – you are supposed treat others as you would like to be treated.   The Platinum rule goes a step further –  to treat people in the way they would prefer to be treated.   By giving people exactly what they want, in the long (and usually in the short run) –  I end up getting exactly what I want.   So instead of going out and purchasing artwork that will stay in the BnB (my first thought),  the neighbors and I discussed using the BnB as their own art gallery – showcasing their work for sale and letting the guests who visit the BnB purchase the art on display around the home.    The Platinum rule introduced a solution that is far more beneficial than the solution the golden rule would have generated PLUS it helps the neighbors get a “win” from me creating a BnB in our neighborhood.

21 Days of Capitalism – Day 7 – Launch

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013
The closer the launch date looms, the more focused and coordinated the activity becomes to be ready to launch.

The closer the launch date looms, the more focused and coordinated the activity becomes to be ready to launch.

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

Nothing creates more coordinated, focused action than having a real life launch date for any endeavor.   Event driven development drives completion.   Take the Inspired Eagle Eco B&B – there are lots and lots and lots of little things we have to do to make sure we can start selling space at the B&B – but when we get right down to it – at least 80% of the activity to actually make the place guest ready will happen within the week before the first guest arrives.   To speed up the readiness activities,  find a way to open the B&B sooner.   This is exactly what we are doing by opening the B&B for the heliskiing season in Haines, Alaska.

Whenever we create updates to our websites – I find when we have a real live launch date – something where we have real live customers registered for an event – so much more coordinated effort goes into making sure the most required elements of the updates are ready for prime time.   What I like best about creating event driven launch dates is the least required features seem to miraculously disappear.   Someone’s pet project that well before the due date we really needed to have,  becomes far less important as the launch date gets closer while the real features absolutely needed for launch dramatically increase in importance.

Timing is not everything in life, it’s the ONLY thing in life.   We can create more money, develop new relationships, but we cannot create more time.   And miracles of all miracles, when we commit to an event – heaven and earth moves to pull off what we need to happen in the time we have for the show to go on.