Five A.M.

pablo (4)

So…I got this wild hair up my ass in March 2017 to start this new habit – every day I would be getting up at 5 am because all of these productivity experts say you should. So right after my 46th birthday, I set the alarm clock. 5 am was gonna be my bitch!

It lasted less than a week. And you know what I got out of it? Tired. That’s right…I got sloppy-writing, coffee-binging, snarling-at-others TIRED. I mean, I am just not cut out for 5 am alarms. I want five more minutes of sleep…or fifty. Take your pick!

For the last few weeks, I beat myself up about failing, too. “Oh, Sheryl, you can’t even get up.” “Sheryl, you’re such a loser!” “Look at so-and-so, they can get up.” Kerplunk, kerflooey. This was supposed to be a positive upbeat habit-forming (habit-changing) lifestyle and all it did was make me feel like shit.

Maybe I should have caught wind by the titles of the articles I researched. I mean just look these:

  • How I Finally Trained Myself to Wake Up Early: here
  • The Secrets to Waking Up Early (Even If You Hate Mornings): here
  • Conquering the Alarm Clark: here

In each of these situations, I missed really keywords which were a clue this wasn’t for me. “Trained” – I’m not a dog? “Hate” – I don’t hate anything, I just prefer staying up late. “Conquering” – I’m not some warrior of sleep! I’m just a girl, staring at an alarm clock, wanting it to shut the fuck up. Is that so bad?

So I went on a quest…to see if there are successful people who prefer to get up a few hours later. Well, la dee da! Look at these articles:

  • Successful People Who Wake Up Late: here
  • The Hidden Brilliance of Late Risers: here
  • Think Waking Up Early Will Make You More Productive? Think Again!: here

Whoa – – what do I see there? Successful…brilliance (I particularly like this one) and sarcasm. BINGO! These folks get me, they really get me! It wasn’t like I wanted to sleep until noon (no judging for all you folks who do!) I’m thinking 7 am is a good time, though.

So I stopped setting the alarm clock. Period. No more alarm clock. Guess what time I wake up every damn day now? Go ahead…between 5:20 am and 5:45 am. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Wait, what?

If I don’t set the alarm clock, I wake up and, more importantly, I don’t beat myself up. If I do set the alarm clock, I’m like, “Hey – whatdya doin?” Crazy how habits form, isn’t it?

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FLOTUS and fashion – why does anyone give a damn?

flotus-fashion-smile

I am going to preface this post with, “I absolutely freaking love The New  York Times.” I’m an avid reader not only in the morning but the evening brief as well. So much to love. Now – on to the point of my post.

It pains me to point out that I get they have a fashion section (to feed the enormous appetite for those into haute couture while I sit in a pair of jeggings and Toms) but can we cease and desist when it comes to important, national issues than to share what FLOTUS Michelle Obama and Melania Trump wore on their recent visit together? OMFG, really?

The First Lady and what she represents today is so much more than a dress.

flotus-fashion-nyt

I get that the undertone of FL Michelle Obama’s dress was about the blending of the blue and red colors for unity (to make purple). I also get that this dress was beautifully crafted by a Cuban-American immigrant, but does The New York Times really believe these subtleties are ever present to the common voter (or non-voter as 46.9% of the people didn’t even fucking show up)? Hell no, so why represent women in such a superficial way in such an awesome newspaper?

The best advice The New York Times writer could give Melania Trump was to invest in a stylist.

That has to be a joke alone. I don’t know, why not tell her to invest in teaching her what a real troll looks like on social media (i.e. @realDonaldTrump is a great place to start)? As a social media strategist, blogger, writer, speaker I could definitely get behind this message of online bullying and zero tolerance. Developing rules and regulations to keep balanced conversations on social media would be a huge win for everyone: corporations, small businesses, religious entities, non-profit organizations, and individuals.

When Melania Trump was interviewed on 60 Minutes with Lesley Stahl, I had to almost laugh when she said, “…she would also rebuke her husband ‘all the time’ for his social media presence.” But then goes on to say he doesn’t listen to her (…um…because he’s a bully…) So getting her some real help here would benefit the common good of everyone, not a stylist. Who gives a damn what she’s wearing if she’s taking out the bullies? I surely don’t!

I have to give Stahl a huge thumbs up for not asking about her fashion, though. I mean, it’s completely inane that I have to shout out props to a female television journalist in 2016 for talking to a woman about her initiatives and not her Louboutins. [Insert sarcasm, eye roll, and light head shaking here…]

I guess that’s one small step for women, but remains one giant step back for mankind. #sadface

sheryl-brown-nov-14

 

When feminism was given the bird

feminism

The week has had jolting moments of disappointment, heavy-hearted thoughts about what the future holds, peppered with the need to check my words before I spewed them. In the midst of hate, vitriol, and downright shady stuff going on in the world, I must hold onto my belief we each have a value equal to another life regardless of the color of our skin, the genitals between our legs, nor the religion we choose to follow.

“I am a feminist.”

It was impossible to mutter those words for so many years growing up. I mean, I didn’t even really know I was becoming one. I certainly wasn’t taught this growing up or shown any examples of what a feminist looked like or acted like. It only started as a ‘feeling’.

My father ruled our home with a uniquely conservative view (some of the stuff he still says today doesn’t add up in my head, but whatevs…) and a strong hand of discipline. I chalked it up to doing the best he could with what he knew. For this, I’m forever grateful. In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that he raised me so right, I couldn’t have grown up to appreciate all my left choices later on. Yet, I went into the world uncertain what you called a girl who felt worthy of so much more than what she was actually experiencing.

…but there I was. A young woman in a very real, fast-moving, loud, smelly, insulting, inappropriate adult world. I went into this overwhelming, overstimulated, overtestosteroned  system hearing derogatory messages about who I was as a female. Some descriptors I can recall quickly:

  • diva
  • gold digger
  • privileged

All I wanted was to be treated equally.

There is no way I can recollect all the inappropriate behaviors I’ve experienced throughout my years in personal and professional settings. I also admit, I was ill-equipped to handle any of them. I was taught to be quiet growing up (although my report cards should have been the first clue I would later become a feminist one day, “Sheryl is a fantastic student, but she needs to control her talking.“) Being silent was an expectation of girls everywhere.

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Many times I’ve wondered what my father would have thought, though, had he known what his years of silencing would later mean for his once little girl. She would have experiences which included:

  • men who squeezed my knees in meetings or reached over and touched my legs to “get my attention”
  • men who put their arms around me even when I bristled from their touch (and to this very day I still struggle with people putting their arms around my shoulders)
  • dirty jokes being shared among male colleagues while I was left to uncomfortably laugh them off
  • being called a bitch (honestly, I lost track of how many times) because I was aggressive in some way (for shame!)
  • fetching coffee for men who were supposed to be my equals in meetings (…and I might have spit in one or two cups…)
  • pretending to be fragile, cutesy, while wearing plunging necklines to get a meager 25-cent raise here and there
  • being considered secondary most of my adult professional life

I mean, seriously, the list goes on-and-on. During my twenties, my husband became my biggest champion. I would even venture to say was my first feminist friend!

I vowed my daughters would not endure menial, trivial, unsuitable experiences like I. Their lives would certainly be a richer set of opportunities. After all, they had more rights coming down the line, even though we are still only at 78 cents to every man’s dollar. (It will be 2058 before we catch up to men at the rate we are going.)

Our son would be raised to respect his wife and ultimately his little daughter so they could have the best chance at having an equal shot. Progress is coming!

…then 2016 happened.

When a woman cannot be voted for president because other women chose to vote for a candidate who actually said:

  • A woman is not worth negotiable assets. (Vanity Fair, 1990)
  • As long as you have a young, beautiful piece of ass, the rest doesn’t matter. (Esquire, 1991)
  • Women hate prenups because they are gold diggers. (Trump: The Art of the Comeback, 1997)
  • Women need to use their sex appeal to get ahead. (How To Get Rich, 2004)
  • “Bitch, be cool” is a great line. (TrumpNation: The Art of the Donald, 2005)
  • Women should expect to be sexually assaulted in the service. (@RealDonaldTrump, May 2013)

I’m left to immediately feel pity for the women who think this is ok, or is some painful form of “locker room talk” men share while women merely endure, and then ultimately expose how much they depreciate themselves because they were born with a pussy instead of a penis. Why aren’t more women embracing a radical revolution of value? When did being a feminist become so dirty again? It’s because we all got quiet, too quiet in fact.

“Speak up even if your voice shakes.”

Maggie Kuhn spoke these words. She took up activism in her early years, but it wasn’t until her golden ones when she was actually heard by others.

Today, I’m only a few years shy of a decade from this golden period of time in my life. Some would say, “Ease up, Sheryl, let the young ones take this challenge. Go into your fifties to enjoy them.” However, that’s not only a disservice to those young women following me who are depending on my strength, but selfishly, it’s an injustice to me. Why should I be forced to take the world’s cruelest sucker punch of my adult life?

I didn’t have my ass pinched or breasts ogled at in my younger years just so I could take more shit in my older age; I’m definitely sure of that! I also accept responsibility for what has happened. I slipped back into the familiar grounds of silence. I let worrying what others thought about me being too loud or overbearing and what that would look like for me personally and professionally. What the fuck was I thinking? I will no longer be silent, though. You can take that to the bank!

Some should be scared of me. [Even more, should join me!] Do not sit idly by, letting others tell you how the world will be. You show them next time!

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I miss the fear of flying

fear-of-flying

In a given year, I fly about 75 times. That’s a lot of flying for the average person and yes, I consider myself ridiculously average. However, there was a time where getting me on a flight was an act of God. Just mentioning a plane broke me into a sweat. I was terrified of going up, up, and away…and you know what? I miss being scared of flying.

When you’re scared of flying, you are 100% focused on your own life. You wonder (albeit irrationally) if the plane’s landing gear will come out ok? Will the plane crash? Will I need to poop on the plane? What if I vomit? Everything is all about you.

Today, I no longer fear flying. So instead of being focused on my own craziness, I focus on others.

If I was busy worrying about me, I wouldn’t have to experience:

  • people sitting next me picking their nose (Fort Myers)
  • babies crying that I want to throttle (every trip through Boston)
  • old men picking at the corns on their feet (Lincoln, Nebraska)
  • young men who bully you out of elbow space in the seat (Dallas)
  • women who paint their nails on the plane (St. Louis)
  • a couple watching the ‘Gone Girl’ sex scene on their shared computer (North Carolina)
  • listening to hours of snoring (Cayman Islands)
  • drinking shitty coffee (really – c’mon American Airlines!)
  • begging for peanuts (give me the damn nuts, Delta!)
  • the guy with two watches who kept checking them every second (Omaha)
  • chatty grandmothers (Newark)
  • the nailbiter in seat 7D who kept spitting his chewed nails toward me (Phoenix)

…the list goes on and on. I simply can’t believe what I experience on a flight today. All because I’m no longer scared of flying. If I was still scared of flying, all of these experiences would pass me by while I privately freaked out about my own stuff.

Maybe the next time we are frightened of something we should simply embrace the fear and wonder if it isn’t protecting us from something else?

…on that note, my next flight leaves in 2 hours. Gotta plane to catch!

sheryl-brown-nov-08

Jealousy over another woman’s flowers

flora

The title pretty much tells the story, right? I was at a conference in Chicago last week and one of the attendees, a beautiful, smart, spunky young woman named Ashleigh came down from her hotel room with the most beautiful bouquet of pink and white flowers and said, “Does anyone want to take these home?” 

I was stunned.

I was headed to the airport so I couldn’t take them off her hands [oh yes, yes I would have!], but my curiosity piqued as to why she would be giving them away. Apparently, her boyfriend (not her husband – A REALLY AWESOME BOYFRIEND!!) sends her flowers every time she travels. I then leaned in and said, “How many times a year do you travel?” [Of course, I’m already trying to rationalize this is a once-in-a-while deal because I travel almost weekly and can’t imagine my husband ever doing something like this.] Ashleigh responds with, “About ten trips a year.”

Ok, I was stunned…again.

I took a picture of her holding her flowers [they are gorgeous] and she did find the one lucky woman who was able to take them off her hands finally, but I just kept wondering, “Why am I so stinkin’ jealous about this?” [Maybe that should be really be written, “Why am I so smellin‘ jealous about this?” since we ARE talking about flowers.]

But first, a confession…

I confess – I get jealous very easily. It’s a HUGE flaw of mine, but this one, in particular, was hitting me in the gut hard. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy for Ashleigh’s love and her beautiful gift of flora to brighten her day, but wowza…I wanna get that, too!

When I came home and told my husband about the flowers [I was totally setting him up, right? I knew what I was doing!] my husband was very quick to remind how much I travel and how pissed I would be if he spent that kind of money on flowers. Part of that was true and I agreed with him, but I was never completely honest with him. Truth and honesty are not the same.

To hell with logic, I want those damn flowers! Or, do I?

Ok, you got me. No – I really didn’t want the flowers. I wanted what they represented. I wanted the magic which goes into receiving the flowers. Knowing someone cares and is considerate enough to do something so special for me. Just me. It’s a huge turn-on in the brain. It would be a conversation I needed to have with my husband because as Justin Timberlake says, “I can’t stop the feeling” of jealousy…apparently which was filling my nostrils like the peonies and lilies in that young woman’s arrangement. How do you tell your husband they kind of suck at romance these days? In 2016, by text, of course!

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Crazy right? Being 100% honest with my spouse meant he knew exactly how I felt and this conversation continued (in a therapeutic way for both of us) for several days. I learned I cannot expect him to know how I feel unless I TELL him. I didn’t marry a wizard!

So a week later…

After having this discussion, my husband has really been trying to be sure we talk about stuff more, but most importantly he is listening to when I say things like last night during Halloween, “I want to walk with the grandkids.” He was completely ok with it and stayed back to hand out candy with the neighborhood kids. And let me tell you what an awesome sight he was after a couple of miles of walking, I came home (I left my children to walk with their own kids!) and we sat in lawn chairs, on the driveway, with a roaring bonfire, and all was peaceful between us.

I didn’t need flowers. I have a bouquet of happiness always available to me. I only needed to ask for it. Crazy how you learn shit like this so much later in life. I certainly hope the young women of today are quick to learn these lessons.

Happy November.

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Permission-Based Friends

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I had a friend die last week. I’ve had a hard time digesting the fact he is gone, but he is. I will never talk to him on the phone again. I will never receive a special Facebook message telling me to cheer up. I have questioned myself every single day, “Did I make sure he knew how much he mattered to me?” I will never know the answer to this question.

On the day I found out my friend passed away, I sat listening to Marie Forleo interviewing Seth Godin and although Seth was talking about permission-based marketing when he shared his definition of “permission” I couldn’t help but wonder how many permission-based friendships I currently hold dear to me? Who do I look forward to each day? Who would I miss if they were gone? It spawned a time of needed reflection.

Who do you look forward to each day?

My first question was, “Who do I look forward to each day?” and it’s easy to say my grandkids, children, and my husband, Ahmad. They are my entire foundation and one crack and the whole thing would come crumbling down.

However, I look forward to the elderly lady who sprint-walks in front of my house each day as she inspires me to get fit. I look forward to seeing Tristy who does my nails every other week because she makes me laugh and puts up with my obnoxious nail requests. I look forward to my Tuesday email from Marie Forleo even though she has no idea I even exist. These people all matter in my life; they make my life have balance.

My takeaway is I need to tell more people they matter. I need to use my voice and tell them why they make my days better just be being in them. I must honor what they bring to the table (or salon or sidewalk or online) to touch me and help me be a better permission-based friend for someone else in the world.

Who would you miss if they were gone?

Setting aside my family who if they were to depart, I would be derailed and disjointed in a variety of crazy, yet depressed, ways, but I’m thinking about so many others whose smiles, laughter, and kindness I would miss at a depth I didn’t realize was there. People who come in-and-out of your day and you find yourself talking to them, looking for them, laughing with them, but you’ve never said to them, “You really matter to me. I appreciate you so much.” What those words might do for someone…and when they are gone, you can’t get the time back to make sure they felt them. It’s too late by then.

So make this about righting wrongs, deflating egos, whatever you must do to tell someone who matters to you that they are important. We all just need to do it. If you are going to miss someone when they are gone, they need to know today they are in your heart and they are loved.

He mattered beyond measure.

For me, I’m sad to have lost a sweet friend. He mattered to me and countless others. He touched  more lives than I could even begin naming in this blog. My last time with him was a mixture of fun and pride. He did such an amazing job of setting up a conference of young advisors and all was accomplished through selfless amounts of hard work. He made fun of my peeling face (I had just returned from a week of skin-diving, parasailing, and spending way too much time in the Jamaican sun). I made fun of his push-up challenges on Facebook.

We were friends and yet, I never once took the time to tell him I looked forward to his calls and emails and that I would miss him if he were ever gone. You never get time back.

Jeremy Price was the epitome of a permission-based friend. Rest in peace, JP.

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What gets you fired up?

fired-up

I had a layover in Houston, Texas this week. My husband and I took a Southwest flight to Portland, Oregon and we had a one-hour layover at Gate 42. Everything about the layover was very normal until the sermon began.

A man who appeared to be in his late thirties was rolling his baggage down the terminal and then stopped in the middle, pulled out his bible, and started giving a sermon right there in the middle of the gates about the glory called Jesus Christ. So many dismissed him as a loon, even my own husband was locked and loaded with some 80’s tunes jamming away, but I sat there watching him intensely.

  • He never once faltered his words. (Conviction)
  • He preached about the wisdom he found in the bible. (Knowledge)
  • He felt completely comfortable standing there and sharing the good word of God. (Mastery)

I watched others around the terminal to see their reactions. Some watched and pointed with little grins. Some were annoyed he was making noise while they were trying to solve their Soduko puzzle. Even some parents quickly ushered their children by whispering words of concern which I could only imagine contained thoughts like, “crazy” or “illness” and here I was mesmerized by this man’s basic carnal exhibition while being completely and utterly jealous of the fire in his belly.

I admit it. I was crazy with jealousy.

You see, the first thing I thought of was how ridiculously lucky this gentleman was to create his own ‘sermon on the mount’ through the sheer passion he had for believing in Jesus Christ.If you think I’m talking about religion, you’re missing my point. I couldn’t have cared if his preaching was of God or knitting, he was fired up!

His conviction, knowledge, and mastery on the topic moved him to do something about how he felt. He didn’t need a pulpit, lectern, or some stage to perform. He created his own tent and was inviting you to the revival to hear the good word. He had something so powerful in his life worth sharing that he felt the need to stop and exorcize his passion with others so he could simply carry on with his everyday duties like making his way to his destination.

It made me ask myself, “What am I fired up about?”

The sneers, snickers, and snotty comments of others when events like this go down do not even phase me. At forty-five years old, I no longer subscribe to the belief you must live your life one way to be a good human being. There are lots of ways through the maze of life and who am I to judge another on how they get there, as long as they get there, right? These feelings are often fraught with jealousy; they could make the decision to do the same thing too, but they don’t.

Guess what? This guy built his own stage to climb onto and be the star of his show. Who am I to judge someone whose proverbial balls were bigger than my own?  (Well, he was a guy, so his were REALLY bigger than my non-existent ones, but you know what I mean!) So, I needed time to think about what got my juices going. What made me so excited that I would stop and share my good word…even in the middle of a busy airport terminal. I needed a few days to digest this.

Connection – that’s my jam!

I love to love people. I love to see people even when they think they are invisible. I love to connect with others.

Social media is a way to feed that fire, but it’s not my preference. Does that shock you? A social media person telling you that social media is not their thing? Did I just rob a social media angel of her wings somewhere?

The fact is, I only like social media for the ability to connect on a larger level. It’s the connection part I’m addicted to, not the Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. I’m much more in tune with my email and CRM than I am with the algorithms. I would much rather host a party to bring people together than starting a group message on Facebook (OMG, I hate those by the way. If you send them out – please, I beg you to please stop.)

Do I love it enough to stop in the middle of an airport?

Assuming I had no fear of public speaking (I have NO ISSUES with this) and talking to strangers doesn’t cause an anxiety attack (um, nope, I’m good), then let’s see. I speak at a lot of conferences per year. I hold webinars. I do Skype meetings. I would say, “Yes, I could stop in the middle of an airport and say I love it that much.” So that covers that, but does that equate to fire in the belly? For me, it does.

I forgot Kid President just a few years ago reminded us about our need for a Pep Talk. We probably need to watch this weekly (some on the daily!) (Click the picture and get a pep talk right now!)

kid-president

I thought a lot about my Sermon on the Mount Minister this week. He may not have moved me closer to God, but he reminded me fire is good. Getting excited about my life, my work etc. is important. I have to be awesome right now!

sheryl-brown-sep-26-2017

 

 

 

Flu shot season is here

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How many of you get a flu shot? Five years ago I received my first one. I felt terrible for days after I got it and vowed I wouldn’t get another one. I lied. I got one this week and guess what? I still feel like crap.

Adulting is such a scam. 

The only reason I truly did it was so when I signed into MyChart I didn’t have to see it as an outstanding item on my health record anymore. I also thought I would be really smart and get a tetanus booster on the same day (different arm). Now I can’t lift either arm and I feel under the weather. Why do we do this to ourselves?

I’ve been really worried about my health this year.

It’s been a year of awareness about all the things which could potentially go wrong with my health.

  • I’m aware of my cholesterol (which I found out the total cholesterol is all bullshit), you only need to be worried about your good cholesterol being high, your bad cholesterol being low, and your triglycerides being normal. The rest is phooey.
  • I’ve was kind of shocked that my prediabetes from a few years back is completely gone. Especially since I’m sitting here eating a Hershey bar while typing this. (Hey – chocolate makes my arm feel better. It’s therapeutic.)
  • My stupid foot seems to have a ganglion on the top of it. I have an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon in the coming weeks.

The doctor says I’m a picture of health, so why am I so worried? The doctor said this week he thinks I’m troubled about how early in life my mother died and he reminds me I’m a different person than her…and I’m healthy. The words are music to my ears, yet he was quick to add…

…but we are still getting that flu shot today!

Ugh – I feel like flu shots are a real sign of old age. I went ahead and got it taken care of, but I think I would have left the doctor’s office happier and more validated without it. He was adamant with the amount of flying I do, the flu shot would really help keep me from getting sick. The only thing is that I’m pretty sure the flu shot is not going to help me steer clear of the three sinus infections and upper respiratory infection I had in the last twelve months. Where are THOSE vaccinations?

He was adamant with the amount of flying I do, the flu shot would really help keep me from getting sick. The only thing is that I’m pretty sure the flu shot is not going to help me steer clear of the three sinus infections and upper respiratory infection I had in the last twelve months. Where are THOSE vaccinations?

So here I am typing to you today, with painful arms which both feel like they weigh heavier than they should, griping about a flu shot. This is pretty much the low of low in first world problems, right?

Moral of the story is to get your vaccinations in and if they tell you that you’ll be a little sore after your flu shot, they are a big fat liar.

sheryl-brown-oct-05-2016

 

 

Why I’m no longer interested in “FREE”

 

the-cost-of-free

If I don’t receive a weekly email or text of, “Hey, Sheryl, I will do ______ if you show me how to use social media” then my life is somehow incomplete. I’m kind of angry writing that sentence, but I’m the weenie in all of this. What do you think my answer is? I just agree, I help them, and then never collect on the services promised. I almost feel guilty if I do. Why do I feel like this? Why does free feel so shitty?

What I needed was the money, not the services. I really dislike how many people want to barter services with me for social media assistance. I’m actually resentful when they propose the idea. Why? I think my why is two-fold. One, I worked really fucking hard to know what I know and I want to be paid for it. Two, my water bill wants to be paid in real dollars, not services.

Free is costly, in my opinion.

There is nothing about free that is 100% free. You have to spend something along the way to collect on something free. For example:

  • It might be your time – time is a nonrenewable resource and maybe the most precious thing you own.
  • It might be stress – you want to collect on free merchandise, but you’re stressed thinking about the date you have to collect by, or getting a parking spot to the store where the merchandise resides or wondering if they will have any more of that particular free merchandise, etc.
  • It might be choices – you have to decide to give up one thing to do another thing instead.

What about value? How will anyone ever value another person’s craft, talent, business, etc. if they never charge for it? Where is the logic in offering your services for free there?

Free is never free.

I have even started to avoid certain people who only want to trade services. This is not winning me any friends, I assure you!

I get text messages on my mobile devices and direct messages on Facebook and Twitter about how come they haven’t seen me in a while. So why is it so hard to be honest with them? I’m too much of a fucking weenie, to be honest, and say, “I don’t want to do anything for free anymore.”

They want me to:

  • Review LinkedIn profiles for them.
  • Post Facebook content for them.
  • Run a social media training for their staff.
  • Write professional bios of their employees.

The list goes on and on and on. You would wince if you had a glance at my Wunderlist of the things I am doing for free. I have more than twenty-five requests right now for help on things I will never be paid for…that’s crazy, right?

I even question to myself, “Would I ask them for these services for free?” Hell, no! I won’t even try and collect on what they want to give me in exchange. So why do some people feel ok in asking for everything for free while others won’t (I’m asking…you know, for a friend…)

I’m an Earth Mother..

I truly hate being a meanie, too. I don’t want to be put in a position of saying, “Thanks, but I want dead presidents in my pocket, not a bag of shake mix.” Being a nurturer might be one of my most womanly traits (I don’t have a uterus anymore, so I guess I need something, right?). I don’t want to stop caring about people or become some mean girl who nobody likes.

So many articles today say you have to give away your talent to people to get them to be inspired to hire you….HUH? WHO started that crazy shit? Why is that even a thing?

Think I’m kidding?

  • OpenForum: When Giving Away Your Product or Service For Free Is A Smart Move
  • Inc.: How to Make Money by Giving Your Product Away for Free
  • For Entrepreneurs: The Power of Free

Sigh, so what’s a gal to do? I will tell you: I end up giving away TOO much for free.

I’m an enthusiastic sharer by nature and I have to learn to control that part of my personality. I am passionate about what I do, I love helping others, and too often people are ready to take advantage of it.

I recently had a client who he has a client who makes $400,000 a year (I do not) and wanted me to call and help the client out. Great, right? I get the call and guess what- they wanted me to do it for free…you know as a favor for the first client who paid me to do work which was delivered per our contract. Because of stupid articles like the ones above I shared, this quickly became the most awkward conversation I’ve ever had as a professional and to be honest, the two of them were manipulating the situation so I kind of felt bullied into doing it. Guess what, I caved and did it to avoid the negative feedback I could potentially receive for not helping the person. This is real stuff which happens a lot in my life.

What did I learn from all of this?

What I must learn to do is value the worth of my work and create a strong fee integrity going forward. For too long I’ve undervalued my services and guess what attracts these losers to my practice? Other losers who won’t stand their ground (like me, but no more!). I deserve to be paid for work rendered.

This year has taught me to revisit my business strategy and although I cannot commit that I will charge for every single thing I do for someone, you can bet your ass there will be no more bartering, no more slimy favors, and no more IOUs.

This broad is done with free! Eff free! 

sheryl-brown-oct-04-2016

Is fatigue only for the rich and famous?

is-fatigue-only-for-the-rich-and-famous-arianna

Last week while attending a conference in San Diego, I began feeling very sick to my stomach. I began to vomit and within a few hours my heart started racing in my chest. Here I was, thousands of miles from my comfy place and I feel like I’m having a heart attack. Great way to start a post, right?

Being practical and no drama, I entered a cab at the front of the Sheraton and asked them to take me to the Medical Center Emergency Room. The cab driver never even looked at me. I could have died in the back of that yellow cab and I am pretty sure he would have gotten my AMEX out, swiped it, paid himself, and dumped my dead body at the door of the ER. Mission accomplished.

As I entered the room, there were at least 75 people. I texted my husband, “I’m pretty sure I’m gonna die before I’m seen.” I handed the woman the yellow card with my information on it through the smallest slot in the plexiglass (no gun would fit in there) and I looked around for some place to go die. My luck – not a seat in the house. My final moments would be standing, I guess.

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In the few moments of waiting (and it really was less than fifteen minutes, so much for being “no drama”), they had me with a triage nurse and ushered to the back. I’m pretty sure the dude in prison shackles next to me wasn’t happy that I got preferential treatment, at the same time I wasn’t sold on trading my heart attack-like symptoms with his blood in urine. Yep, I will keep my cardiac event, sir.

I went to the back where Marco the nurse had me hooked up to an EKG trying to catch my shortness of breath moments. While doing all of this, a red light went off and all the doors in the ER immediately shut close, locking you in while a woman screaming bloody hell on the other side of the wall wailed on and on. I was seriously scared. Is this good for a cardiac event because I don’t think it is? I remembered to take a snap of it, though, at that moment and saying on Snapchat it was pretty scary shit.

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About five minutes later, the red light went off, Nurse Marco came back, and it was business as usual in the ER. I just kept thinking, “What the hell just happened?” Nurse Marco said it happens a lot. Talk about stressful working conditions!

After several tries with the EKG, all of which were unsuccessful, he took me back to Bed 7 with Nurse Arielle. She was just as you can imagine, too. Long-flowing California locks, big eyes, pretty smile, down-to-earth attitude, and pretty pink nails. (I gave her a hard time about painting her nails because I know hospitals say don’t do this and she said to me, “Shh…don’t tell them!” She was so nice.)

Then, sauntering in was Dr. Manbeard. (At least, that’s what I called him.) He was a young doctor with a man bun and hipster beard who pulled up a chair and asked me questions I don’t think any doctor has ever asked me before:

“What do you do for a living?”

I told him I worked in social media, I supported the brand marketing of a very large insurance broker, I do a fair amount of professional speaking, and I travel quite a bit. Dr. Manbeard said, “Cool job.” And then he asked me another question I’ve never been asked:

“How much sleep do you get a night?”

I’m thinking, “Hey buddy – – – My heart is freaking out here and you’re playing twenty questions!” I entertained the doc and told him about four hours a night on average, but some nights are less, some nights are more like five. Dr. Manbeard leaned on my bed with one arm like he was tired and then asked me another question:

“How much water do you drink a day?”

Are you kidding me? I dunno. What does this have to do with anything? I told him I drink my fair share (no clue what that meant, but I was hoping to get back to the topic of my heart which was rattling away in my chest). Dr. Manbeard said, “Ok – I’ll be back.”

That dick left me like that. Can you imagine? I sat there for about 30 minutes and Nurse Arielle came back with an IV and started getting to work on hooking me up. I asked her what was the plan? She said, “Let’s get a bag of glucose going and then wait for your tests to come back.” Ugh – always tests. C’mon now.

Well, I fell asleep waiting for those tests. Apparently, this was their plan all along, though. You see, Dr. Manbeard figured out I was dehydrated and while I slept there for a few hours (I had no clue I had nodded off to be truthful) he had Nurse Arielle give me two bags of fluids and I woke up with the need to pee. He then asked me, “When was the last time you peed?” I stopped and thought about it. It had been that morning when I woke up, I think? I shared the information with him and padded down the hall to take a leak.

When I came back, Nurse Arielle and Dr. Manbeard said they were discharging me. My arrhythmia had stopped completely, my eyes were no longer bloodshot, and then they told me something I didn’t even think was real. I was told to go home – I had palpitations resulting from extreme exhaustion and dehydration with a little anxiety as the cherry on top.

(One of the things Dr. Manbeard mentioned to me in the hospital was during my chit-chat about my desire to lose weight was the lack of sleep is a big reason I’m not dropping any weight. Hmm…maybe I should listen to this? More on that later…)

However, I laughed because I thought “exhaustion” was only something the rich and famous suffered from when they needed a vacation from paparazzi. Dr. Manbeard filled me in on my critical need for sleep. At 45-years-old (it sounds awful when young people say that, by the way) I should be shooting for 7-9 hours per night. No exception.

7-9 HOURS A NIGHT????

Are you kidding me? I mean – really? Who sleeps this much? I shared with him I was having horrible insomnia and he said I needed to consider getting a sleep schedule in place and he urgently requested I leave the conference and go home. I was being kicked out of California. (Can you top that?)

Can better sleep change your life?

I returned to Missouri where my husband was there to pick me up at midnight from the airport, escorted me straight to the bedroom, and it wasn’t for fooling around. I was going to sleep! The next three nights a family member has reminded me of my bedtime like a young girl and ushered me straight upstairs to my bed. They make me turn my phone off, and guess what? I go to sleep.

I’m several days into my new sleeping pattern and I can honestly say I feel much more rested! I also do have a logical side of my brain which says if Arianna Huffington left the Huffington Post to run a company fixated on sleep and wellness, ok – there must be something here, too.

Fatigue – another eff word in the books! Sheesh.

sheryl-brown-sep-27-2016