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In the popular book by Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich, he tells the story of a prospector that hit a vein of gold, bought the land, and lost a sh*t ton of money because the vein quickly ran out. He thought for sure there was more gold there, but out of time, resources, energy, and support, he sold the land for pennies on the dollar to another prospector.

That prospector got a professional surveyor/geologist to come look at the mine. Knowing about the land faults in the area, he informed the new land owner that literally three feet from where the dried-up vein was lied an entire, rich vein of gold ore.

Needless to say, the new prospector ended up quite rich… almost overnight.

There are a few things to learn from this story, one of which is “don’t give up” and another being “seek out a professional’s opinion.” I’m going to focus on the first…

The new land owner could have come in, built a house, raised some cows and had a comfortable living. But instead he decided to take hold of the first prospector’s dream and keep going. He wasn’t willing to give up, even though the dream wasn’t his to begin with.

There are times I feel overwhelmed and ready to throw in the towel. In fact I felt that way just the other day when I wrote the last post on this blog, Read this if You Used to be an Optimist. But something happening right now stopped me and caused me to write that motivational piece on my Facebook page instead.

See, my husband and I don’t take many “real” vacations. Business trips, yes. Vacations… well, no. Some people think we work too much… but we also know ourselves. We know what we need throughout a stressful week to recharge and we know how to relax when we want to. Because every time we did take a “real” vacation, we ended up with a new business to start… and sometimes a full-blown business plan for one.

So when I feel like giving up, now I remember this experience instead…

Two years ago (yes, YEARS) we were on a vacation for a weekend. The idea came to us while we were there to create our own antique mall… but more than an antique mall, we wanted it to be a retail incubator. We wanted to open it to professional artists, makers, antique dealers, and anyone wanting to break ground in retail without the typical 6-figure expense of opening a full-fledged store. And we found the perfect building for it… a local furniture store that had announced it was going out of business.

We cased the building, inside and out (before it closed). We cased the building again… twice… after it closed. We watched the price of the building drop over the course of two years (in which time we opened our two retail stores). We also realized if we bought the building, we’d have zero capital left to outfit it or get it up and running.

So we were stuck and let go of that dream… sort of.

It was always in the back of my mind. And in a 14-page business and marketing plan sitting on my hard drive. We were just waiting for the perfect time, and we talked about it often.

We did not “give up” on our dream. We stayed open to connections and ideas… for two years.

Then we met Harry. Harry had opened a store similar to our concept in a nearby town. In talking with him, we told him we’d love to see something like this in our town, and shared the idea with him. He LOVED the idea. We told him we’d been looking at an empty furniture store near where we lived.

Harry stopped.

He said, “I own a building that used to be a furniture store. Where did you say it was, again?”

Harry owned the building. The VERY same building we’d cased multiple times for our concept. Here was someone that had already created a similar concept and was excited about new possibilities. A true entrepreneur. And the guy that OWNED. THE. FREAKING. BUILDING.

Within a couple weeks of discussions and planning and after handing him the business plan I’d already created, he handed us the key.

The key to that million-dollar property we didn’t have the money for. The key and free reign to put whatever we wanted into the space.

Harry was our expert… the guy that said, “Just dig three feet from here.”

I was about to give up on one of our downtown stores when Harry came along. He offered us a way to revamp our business plan to include this new market place as the next step in our business growth. A way to save the struggling downtown store and our employees’ jobs.

If we’d given up (and yes, we had many a discussion to give up on one of the stores), the community would lose a great place to shop and our employees would have lost their jobs. But by looking three feet (OK about two miles) away, we’re now creating an even greater place for the community to shop, new experiences for people all over that pass through, an incubator to foster young business growth, our own business concepts are expanding, and we’re even creating new jobs.

So if you’re ready to give up on any aspect of your business, I hope this story encourages you. Keep looking. Keep digging. Keep asking. And be open for the answer of which direction you need to go to find your gold.

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I used to be an optimist. I really did think I had what it takes to change the world. Or at least a town. A neighborhood… A teeny tiny demographic. One family. One child’s life… Then reality hit. HARD. Turns out all I can change is myself. My power starts and ends with ME.

Following is a Rambling I posted on my wall on Facebook. I made it public. You’re welcome to like, comment, share, yadda yadda over there… Or you can share this post with a friend that needs to hear it.

Because all of us deserve to hear the TRUTH about ourselves once in a while.

I’ll begin with the truth I see in me…

Sometimes I wish I could write on social media what I’m dealing with, what’s inside, the inner fight, the frustration… but I succumb to the pressure of everyone needing to “dress their best” on Facebook for fear of appearing like a Debbie Downer or worse… or someone that only invites drama and negativity with no balance of positives in my life. I don’t invite it. I don’t want the negativity. All I want is to be ME. And yet, sometimes that’s just not good enough for the world. Sometimes the world wants more than I can give. And sometimes the world pushes me to the brink… the very edge… so I can peek over and see possibility. Which of course I can’t see until I’m teetering on the edge almost in free-fall. (Cruel, cruel universe…)

Some seriously cool things are underway. Some seriously scary things also. Some major changes are happening. All will be revealed in time… (to me also.)

If you think entrepreneurs that only publicly show the cool stuff happening in their lives are ALWAYS happy, NEVER cry, NEVER have a hard day (or week… or month… or even year…) then please know this:

Know that we ALL have rough times. We ALL have periods of painful, intense personal growth. We ALL have issues with trusting everything is going to be OK. We even all scream on occasion to let loose the built-up stress inside.

What I’ve tried to learn is to feel it, allow it, and NOT live there. To not get myself a zip code in Panicville. (Although I’ll be honest… sometimes I feel like Panicville is the home I never wanted to admit I belonged to…) To be OK with having a rough day, week, month, year… with having to deal with stress. To take responsibility for my choices, good and bad. To own my mistakes rather than passing blame to some other entity or person. To own my awesome when things work out better than I could have hoped. To own the creativity I’ve been given… and USE it rather than do what I’d really like to do sometimes… (curl up in a ball and ignore the world and just hope and pray it will all go away.)

And sometimes that means I say the wrong things and regret it. Sometimes I speak from a place of stress. Sometimes I enter situations with an idealistic glow only to prove the naysayers right. Sometimes I share too much, trust too much, and regret too much.

Because entrepreneurship isn’t for the perfect, “have it all together” types. Nope, they wouldn’t last long in this world. They think they have it all together, but when the pressure turns up they won’t know what to do.

Nope, entrepreneurship is for the “stick it out no matter what” types. The “go against the odds” types. The “suck it up and do it anyway” types. The “I don’t know how we’re going to get through this but we will” determined types. The “a day job is looking pretty good right now but I wouldn’t even last half a day” types. The “stay up all hours of the night problem solving so I can justify taking a nap tomorrow” types. The “can’t sleep because this idea is so freaking amazing I have to take action right now” types. The “I’m inspired with this idea so I have to write this lengthy post right NOW and put off dinner” types. The “I’m going to do WHATEVER. IT. TAKES.” types.

Entrepreneurship is for the strong-willed, determined, and yes, maybe even others would see them as foolish types. Entrepreneurship is NOT easy. And nobody said it would be. What we have to each determine for ourselves is if it’s still worth it. If after all the near-misses, the failures, the catastrophes, the free-falls, the “end of the world” moments… IS IT WORTH IT?!?

And every time I want to scream, “NO! It’s NOT worth it! Let me just get a regular job already!” my heart quietly whispers… “But it is. And you know it. So go forth, suck it up, and do it anyway.” And the tears flow again, because my heart, my soul, is right.

I may be a little more realist than optimist these days… but if you believe this entrepreneurial journey is worth it, I’ll stand with you. Someone besides me needed to hear this. You are not alone. I’m here too. We got this. And we CAN change the world… beginning with ourselves.

____

Image courtesy Adobe Stock, Sergey Nivens

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I almost didn’t recognize it.

It’s been so long that someone looked at me as a woman and was outwardly hostile to me for being where I wasn’t “supposed to be.” But that’s exactly what happened last night.

You see, I sing tenor in my church’s choir. I’ve only been singing now for 18 months and have never been trained as a singer. I do it for the joy of singing and as a way to sing praise to the Lord.

When I first joined the choir, because my singing voice is low, I sat with the ladies in the alto section. But I couldn’t hit their high notes and didn’t feel comfortable singing that range. So I scooted over to sing with the men in the tenor section and my voice felt at home.

My choir director has been welcoming, supportive, and friendly and has taught me a lot about music in the past year. I’ve come a long way, and still have a long way to go.

Well, our choir now has the opportunity to sing with a professional opera company and last night was our first rehearsal with them. When it came time to sit in sections for our parts, naturally, I moved to sit with the tenors.

The professional opera director was completely baffled. He stepped away from his area in front, approached me, and first told me to sit with my section. When I said I was because I sing tenor, he was dumbfounded to the point where he could barely sputter, “YOU sing tenor?! No… you don’t.” Openly hostile. I barely recognized it because I’m so used to expecting people to be kind and welcoming – because they usually are.

At that point, my director who recognized what was happening, stepped in immediately and said, “Yes, she sings tenor. And she’s very good. In fact we have three women tenors and they are all amazing.”

By now, the entire opera company, along with our choir was watching this incredulous exchange happen – and it was suddenly a big deal.I said, “I think I just blew your mind…”

I imagine the opera director felt the way some people must have in previous centuries when a woman doctor entered the room to treat them as a patient. Can women even BE doctors? Yep. And apparently we can sing tenor, too.

It’s like that in the speaking world sometimes. Women aren’t expected to show up at events in “male dominated” industries, let alone be on stage. But it turns out we can be awesome, there, too!

When I arrived home after the 3+ hour rehearsal, I did some research and discovered in professional opera, women with a lower vocal range don’t *actually* sing tenor… they are called “contralto,” but choral music (that I sing) isn’t written that way. It’s written as SATB – soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. I sing what works for me – and my choir. So I can understand how the opera dude wasn’t sure what to make of me.

I stood my ground, did my thing, and was happy to know my director had my back. Even when you expect the best of people, sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. And that’s ok. Just be you.

***

Felicia J. Slattery, M.A., M.Ad.Ed., is a #1 best-selling author of five books, an internationally-acclaimed, award-winning championship speaker, and has happy clients and customers in 81 countries around the world.

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Kristen Joy's Blog by Kristen Joy - 11M ago

*Disclaimer: This post might make you uncomfortable. The truth often does. However, know that it’s probably not totally your fault that you feel this way. Society has bred us humans to be uncomfortable about money and it takes a lot of self-work to reach beyond the fears, conditioning, and doubt to thrive. Often years of work. So my hope is that through this article you’ll gain some sort of insight that can aid you on your quest to love how money can impact your world, so you can get past what’s holding you back to be the success in business you’re called to be.*

“Do you hate money?” That’s the question of the hour. The question to which you probably read and immediately thought, “Of course I don’t! That’s just plain silly!” But I bet you probably do… Let me explain with a story…

I don’t just operate my online business selling courses and digital products under my two brands. I also have retail stores in downtown Chambersburg, PA, so I know a little something about physical products, inventory, handling customers, etc. Since I spend a lot of time at these brick-and-mortar stores, I often meet my employees, contacts, and other locals at one of the adorable downtown coffee shops. One of the shops was recently sold to a company that has another coffee shop in another significantly larger city. They began making changes (as new owners usually do), and some of those changes have definitely been for the positive. However, some of the changes they’ve made, including changes to what they sell, have been met with resistance from the community… and because there hasn’t been a hard core tracking of their demographics and numbers, they may majorly miss the profit boat… and I can say they truly “hate money” because not only are they unwilling to serve some of their customers’ desires anymore, but they’re leaving a lot of potential income on the table as a result. They (like many business owners) have bought into several myths about money and business that unless proven with data—hard core tracking of the real day-to-day numbers—should not be believed. Here are the three most common myths business owners tend to believe… and why if you believe them too, it’s so dangerous to the overall health and growth of your business.

Myth #1: If I don’t like it, it won’t sell.

One of the things this coffee shop removed from their menu was a very popular drink. A drink that every employee I’ve talked to said they get asked about on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times per day. They claimed it was because of the sugar content in that drink and their desire to focus on healthier options, but the fact is that can’t possibly be the case as they’ve more than tripled their offering of sugar-loaded baked goods. Today I told the employee on duty that there are four reasons why a business owner may choose to stop selling something:

  1. The supplier stopped offering it. (Which is almost always not the case.)
  2. The price went up (or they just wanted a cheaper option).
  3. They just didn’t like it. (Almost always the case.)
  4. The customers weren’t buying. (Almost never the case.)

This is where Myth #1 can be extremely dangerous. Because if you’re not tracking your numbers, what customers are actually buying, what you’re actually paying, and what your profit margin is, you’ll make an emotional decision based off your own interests. Now, it’s one thing if you’re burned out and just don’t want to offer a specific level of coaching program anymore, or your program is full (I’ve been there, I get it). But it’s another thing if you decide to remove a product from your Etsy store or Amazon just because you don’t personally like it.

We carry quite a few items in our stores that I don’t personally care for and I’d not have in my home. But you know what? Some of those items are our best sellers. Our data proves that just because I may not care for it or I may think it’s cheesy doesn’t mean my customers won’t pony up their hard-earned cash. The bottom line is if you want to stay in business, you don’t get to always choose what your customers want—THEY DO. Allow them to choose with their wallets, track the data, and let the data make the decision.

Myth #2: If it works for one demographic, it’ll work for another.

I built my primary online brand, The Book Ninja, for authors. When I take a training to a JV partner’s list which is also authors, the promotion almost always does really well. But when I’ve had JV partners promote my author trainings to biz-opp folks (those looking for that next shiny business opportunity), the sales are like crickets. Why is this the case? Because I’m trying to push a square peg into a round hole. My product doesn’t match my audience. In the case of my coffee shop example, the changes they made to their menu were to match their menu in the larger city. Which is totally fine for streamlining processes and training employees. Having multiple retail stores that all use the same general systems and processes, I can appreciate that. However, believing this myth can also hit your income… hard…

As in the case of my author trainings not promoting well to non-author people, the demographics in every area are different. You have to know your audience. But it’s not enough to know who they are. After all, you could say “coffee drinkers are my audience.” But what about your demographics? What percentage of those “coffee drinkers” prefer iced drinks year-round? What percentage order lattes? What percentage prefer their drinks black? Who skips coffee altogether and orders tea or lemonade instead? If you make the assumption that everyone’s tastes are the same and therefore what works for one group will instantly work for another, you’re about to encounter a rude awakening in your bank account.

Sure, some people will adapt. You may even attract new customers in that area. But many others will just choose to go elsewhere. And that’s the danger in believing if it works for one group, it’ll work for another. You have to test it to know what will work for your customers.

Here’s another example… Two of our retail stores are toy stores. Sure, we get a lot of crossover in customers, but one store is dedicated to the educational demographic of 12 years and under while the other targets the collectibles audience of 13 and up. While our company processes, systems, and even some of our inventory may be the same between both of these stores, the fact is if we simply replicated the first one we’d be shooting our income in the foot. Even if we opened the same store in another city, we’d have to adapt some of our inventory to the demographics of that city.

Ever wonder why you can find the core of the same stuff at every big box store (Walmart, Target, etc.) and yet some seem to carry different stuff or get in significantly different stock? It’s because those big companies know they must offer specific inventory for their unique regions, their specific demographics. When my mom ran a gluten-free bakery in North Carolina, the local Walmart created an entire gluten-free section. It was the only Walmart for years that did this… almost like it was a pilot/test location for that kind of merchandising. And yet, it started after the demand her bakery experienced. After that demographic became known and popular in that area.

Don’t assume that you can promote the same thing to every audience, or offer the same services to every person. You can’t. Know your audience, adapt to their desires, and quit shooting your income in the foot by trying to either be all things to all people or limit what you offer to the same thing for everyone.

Myth #3: I have to keep everything I offer in a specific price range.

I can’t tell you how many times Tony and I have visited a store, a museum, or an amusement park and wondered why they didn’t offer anything higher ticket. There was one museum store in particular that only sold merchandise under $20. They had nothing in the $100 price range. We spoke to the manager and she believed the lie that if they used up space to display higher ticket items, visitors wouldn’t buy it anyway and that meant they couldn’t sell as much. While yes, most people will buy lower-ticket items, higher-ticket offers actually bring higher-quality people who will also spend even more on those lower-ticket items. So having a balance of both that fits your demographic and target audience is incredibly important.

Successful companies are successful for a reason. Sure, not everyone is going to drop $1,000 on a life-sized Deadpool statue. But NECA (the company that makes life-sized figures like that) knows enough people will buy them that they create 3-4 new characters every year. And they sell out. Every. Single. Time. They also create the same characters as small toys that would fit in your pocket for under $10. And yet most people won’t even offer anything that “expensive” for fear that it won’t sell.

When I first started in the online training space I was the exact opposite. I was scared to do anything lower ticket. Back then I sold done-for-you publishing packages that started at $4,500. And while those were nice paydays, I was leaving a lot of money on the table by not letting anyone buy anything from me at a lower price point. Then there are companies like this coffee shop that took their largest drink off the menu, with the reason being “we believe in quality over quantity”… when the fact is (as yes, I told them), some people will pay a higher price for more quantity of a better quality product. They already have the cups for other drinks, so what’s so hard about adding the larger size back on the menu and raising the price? Yet this is a myth almost all business owners believe at one time or another… that in order to make a profit you have to stick within a specific range of prices.

Why do you think it is that some internet marketers don’t offer anything above $27? Or some retailers don’t have anything priced above $20? Unless the name of your business relies on the price point of your merchandise, you should always offer your customers a wider range of price points. Even the highest-end retailers have stuff that’s $10. And some of the lower-end businesses offer more expensive items. And you know what? They sell both. Because unless you track the numbers… unless you have the data to prove that your particular customers won’t buy something, you have no power to tell them what they can and cannot buy.

Because ultimately, if they can’t get it from you, they’ll get it from someone else. And wouldn’t you rather they give you their money? They’re going to spend money. You choose if they’re going to spend it with you.

***

Now I ask you again… Do you hate money? Have you fallen for any of the above myths? Are you giving customers a reason not to spend money with you? Are you offering such a tight-knit product or service that you have no wiggle room to attract anyone who will spend more (or more people who will spend less)? Don’t give in to these myths. And if you really want the truth about your customers, start tracking them. Test everything. Know what they buy. Know what they don’t buy. Know how much they’re willing to spend and what percentage of them are willing to spend that. Know. Your. Numbers. And Know. Your. Customers. Until then you’re shooting in the dark wide of the target of success.

If you’re ready to jolt your wealth potential into high gear, check this out:

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Kristen Joy's Blog by Kristen Joy - 11M ago

Back in the day, ninjas were feared assassins. In the arena of successful writing, the only things that ought to be trembling in their boots are bad habits. Effective publishing ninjas are committed to killing stumbling blocks to productivity: procrastination, perfectionism, distractions, lack of energy, multitasking, and disorganization (environment) being the most common.

Procrastination is often the result of perfectionism and distractions. Actress and author Marilou Henner advised, “Don’t let perfectionism become an excuse for never getting started.” If you’re enviously watching others having fun swimming around in their goals while you’re still standing on the shore of your dreams, maybe there’s too much of a perfectionist in you. Maybe you’ve been taught that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right; or that if you don’t have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over. Yes, there is some truth in those sayings, but they don’t hold true for everything. Through experience I’ve found that with the exception of a doctor performing surgery, “done” is almost always better than “perfect.”

Action Step: So how do you kill the habit of perfectionism? Give yourself permission to be flawed. Put off corrections until the end. This is the one area in which you can procrastinate. When your creative juices are flowing, keep on writing. Don’t worry about punctuation, typos, and correcting mistakes as you go along; you’ll only get bogged down by the details. Save your editing and proofreading for later, after you’ve met your writing goal for the day. In fact, it’s sometimes better to let your writing project sit for a few days before going back to make changes. This gives your mind a chance to look at what you’ve written with a fresh perspective. The truth is—because writers are creative people—we’ll never feel completely finished with a book. This is because we’re constantly thinking of new ideas that we’ll want to add or of some clever way to change what we’ve already written. But guess what? With today’s technology of Print on Demand, we can make changes any time we want to!

Another reason we procrastinate is because we allow ourselves to be distracted by every “bright shiny” thing that grabs our attention; a Facebook notification, checking emails, answering every phone call because we’re afraid of missing out on something, a dog barking, a pet cat rubbing against our ankles or jumping up on the computer keyboard (and I should know… I have two adorable-but-needy ragdolls that won’t let me be), etc.

Action Step: Set a timer for a reasonable amount of time that you can commit to writing without distractions. Only you know how long that chunk of time is; it will be different for everyone. Can you go 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or 2 hours without going bonkers over what you’re missing out on? Turn off your notifications. Leave your cell phone in another room. Close every tab on your browser except those you need for your writing project. If you must have your phone nearby (due to kids at school, an ill parent, or an important obligation), turn the ringer down a bit and don’t answer the phone unless it’s absolutely necessary. Decide on a predetermined amount of time for breaks (10, 15, or 20 minutes), and when the timer goes off, stretch a little, go potty, grab a healthy snack, start a load of laundry, and then get back to your writing!

While lack of energy isn’t a bad habit, it often comes as a result of one. Setting aside real health issues, lethargy in writing can be from trying to multitask. Women especially tend to take on too much. We start the day with a to-do list of 23 things, and then add to the list as the day goes on. It’s no wonder we feel exhausted before finishing our second cup of coffee!

Take your to-do list and trim it down to the essentials. Differentiate between urgent and important. Getting your kids to school on time, feeding the dog, and taking the trash to the curb before the garbage truck comes falls on the “urgent” side. Sorting socks, scrubbing the shower, and calling your friend to wish her a happy birthday can wait (it will still be her birthday at 11:59 p.m.). If you want to be a published author, you must make yourself a priority! This isn’t selfish. Remember why you are writing. Are you trying to supplement your family’s income? Make a difference in people’s lives? Establish yourself in a fulfilling career? Or maybe you just enjoy having some time for creative endeavors. These are all worthy reasons, and you deserve to set aside regular time for yourself to pursue your dreams.

Another big energy drainer is disorganization. Look around you. Is your desk piled high with papers, books, snack remnants, empty coffee cups, electronic cables, a hair clip, and sticky-notes? Is it hard to get started writing because you can’t find the envelope or receipt you scribbled your latest ideas on? Are your eyeglasses smudged and in need of cleaning? It’s difficult to “get in the zone” when “the zone” is lost in the clutter. Cluttered Desk = Cluttered Mind.

Action Step: Repeat after me: “I don’t need to do everything simultaneously. I will do one thing at a time and now is the time to focus on my writing project.” The important thing is to do what needs to be done to get your book published one step at a time. There’s a time to write, a time to edit, a time to purchase ISBNs, a time to look for a cover designer, and a time for each step of publishing along the way. The time to clean your desk is NOT when you sit down to write. Set aside time outside of your designated writing time for organization. Otherwise three hours will pass and you’ll realize it was spent sorting through receipts and bills, and now you have to pick your kids up from school. Cleaning time is for cleaning. Writing time is for writing.

Successful publishing ninjas learn to identify their enemies (think “bad habits”) and eliminate them. What are yours? Now that you know, you have a mission!

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My awesome husband Tony and I have been asked a lot lately why we decided to open not one, but two stores… in “dead” downtown Chambersburg, PA of all places. This question is typically posed by people who haven’t been downtown in over 10 years and who still hold the opinion that nobody in their right mind would ever want to open a new business in our downtown area. And the fact is, I personally have always hated downtowns. The one-way streets, the parking, the lack of good restaurants… I was someone who complained any time a business event forced me to venture into the downtown… of any town I’ve ever lived in.

Until now.

One fundamental thing changed in my life that made me embrace our own downtown area. It wasn’t that I discovered a love of parallel parking I never knew I had (yes, that was sarcasm). It wasn’t the fascination I have for the beautiful alleyways and seating areas that grace the spaces between downtown buildings. The fundamental change was… ME. I decided I’d had enough moaning and complaining from myself that there’s “nothing to do” in Chambersburg or that downtown has a stigma of being run down and unsafe. In fact, I decided that unless I tried to do something about it, I gave up my right to complain. I made a choice to change my perspective. And in that choice, I embraced the power to help bring the change.

Tony and I spend a lot of time brainstorming how we can make our town better. In fact, we spent our first wedding anniversary taking photos of various areas downtown and studying other nearby downtowns; even interviewing people to ask them what they loved about their downtown areas. We frequently brainstorm ideas for our existing businesses, new businesses we want to open, thoughts for committees we’re involved in, and even huge projects beyond our current means that we’d love to see come to fruition in our town. And beyond brainstorming, we’ve decided to do something about it. We’ve joined the committees. We’ve opened two stores. And we’ve decided that unless we’re willing to DO something about the “lack” of what our town has to offer, we give up our right to complain about the way things currently are.

The fact is, there have been some awesome people working extremely hard for years, against the grain of naysayers and has-beens who either want things to stay the way they “always have been” or aren’t willing to do what it takes to secure the money for massive, necessary change. And even swimming upstream in this raging river of negativity, they’ve made progress. Some may perceive this progress as small, yet without it, we wouldn’t have such an amazing foundation prepared for growth. As even more forward-thinking people with vision buy up the buildings, renovate and encourage business owners like ourselves to invest in the future of the town, the foundation they have painstakingly laid over the last several years has become the solid, stable ground for those of us with vision to build upon.

The purest definition of insanity is to do things the same way and expect a different result. And this is what the “naysayers” and “has-beens” have been doing. The same thing… Yet in the next breath they complain that “downtown is dead” or “downtown has nothing to offer.” I would love the chance to take one of these people by the hand and escort them around the town I have adopted as my own, and show them not only what has already been accomplished, but help them envision the amazingly bright future I know our town can have.

I think differently in part because I’m not from around here. In fact, I’m not really from anywhere. I’ve never had a home town, so I don’t have any frame of reference for what a downtown should be like. And sure, I may get flack for that. Yet it also means I don’t know how, nor do I bother, to necessarily play by “the rules.” In many cases, I don’t even know what the rules are. What I do know is, I chose to be here. And I choose to invest my time, money and energy into helping make downtown Chambersburg the incredible experience I know it can be. I choose to call Chambersburg, a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania, HOME. And because of that choice, I take ownership of the power I personally hold to help change the way others may perceive downtown to be. And because my husband, I, and several of our business friends are taking massive action toward positive growth, I personally will not allow those who refuse to take any action the right to complain about it in front of me.

A long time ago Tony and I discovered the secret to creating what we want. And that was the realization that in any situation, we have the choice to complain about the way things are and the problems we see or be a part of the solution. CHOICE is such a powerful thing! We’ve chosen to be a part of the solution. In my opinion, until the complainers are willing to get off their “better-than-thou” horses and put their time, energy, and money where their mouths are to make this potentially amazing little town a must-stop-at destination, they hold no rights to complain about the way things are or the people they think “should” be doing something. It could be as simple as supporting downtown shop owners or as complex as buying and renovating a building. It’s all about making the CHOICE.

It’s time for those with vision to take a stand for our town. It’s time for us to band together and not only see the potential, but also do everything in our power to make that potential a reality. Will it take time? Yes. Will it take money? For sure. Resources? Absolutely. Tenacity? Yep. Change? YES. My question to those in resistance is, has there been anything worthwhile in your life that did not take any time, money, resources, tenacity, or require change? I bet the answer to that is, “No.”

It’s time for our community to get off their complaints and do something. Get involved. Join with those of us who believe in downtown. Attend the events put on by our awesome Downtown Business Council. (There are a lot of them and they are tons of fun!) Support your local shops… DOWNTOWN. Take a walk around the square and appreciate the beauty of the fountain and the relaxation of the benches in front of the historic courthouse. Check out the town’s fascinating history at the Heritage Center. Get an amazingly tasty crepe at Brussel’s Cafe. Stop in for a new-to-you read at Northwood Books. Appreciate the murals and artwork created by talented local artists scattered around various building walls. Grab a cup of coffee at C&C. Head to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning and get your fresh veggies for the week (and kombucha from UnDone!). Stop by Olympia Candy Kitchen and pick up some chocolate for that special someone (or yourself). Grab unique gifts for an amazing woman in your life at The Gift Enclosure or celebrate that meaningful occasion with something that sparkles from Ludwig’s or Gartenberg Jewelry. Check out the unusual and creative art at The Foundry and The Garage. Dress yourself for success with tailored apparel from Lyons & Company or a complete ensemble at Here’s Looking at You. Put on the finishing touches with Merle Norman Cosmetics. See a show at Capital Theatre. Get medicinal teas for what ails you from Gardens by Grace. Pick up that last-minute birthday gift for that one-of-a-kind kiddo at Toy Box Gifts & Wonder. Try a tasty stuffed avocado at Square1. Stop by Gypsie for something never before seen and surprise the person who “has everything.” Take a selfie in front of the Stargate or Hogwarts inside Nerdvana Outpost. Grab dinner at Bistro 71 or check out a new restaurant further down Main St. Downtown has so much to offer… when was the last time you ventured on an adventure of discovery?

Because we downtown merchants are banding together, doing something, taking action to make our town a fun, safe place to hang out, shop, and eat. And if you’re sick of complaining about how things “have been” and are ready to join forces with those who are working hard to make the town awesome, take a risk and jump into a committee… get involved… open a restaurant or store of your own. Buy a building, renovate it, and create something amazing. If I’ve learned anything in my dozen+ years of successful business, I’ve learned that with great risk comes great reward. And only by putting a STOP to the complaining and taking action can positive change actually occur.

I’m the outsider. And I’m called to be a catalyst… one, I hope, of many. We are the ones to light the passionate fire of change. The ones to bring influencers together to create something awesome, instead of settling for how things have been with struggling to “just get by.” It’s time for a powerful, blazing mindset shift. It’s time to see the beauty that is our town, to embrace it and all its potential, and to empower it to become something amazing. This town has been rebuilt from ashes twice. It’s time to make that extensive amount of work worth the vision of those whose blood, sweat, and tears rebuilt it! Not just for your kids or grandkids, but also for YOU. I implore you to give up your “right” to complain and come be a part of the solution!

P.S. If you’re not located in or near Chambersburg, what can you do to be a part of the solution for your town?

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