Category Archives: Business

Yeti and U-Turns.

LakeCushman

(10 minute read)

It’s been a while.

I’ve been known to take these month-long creative breaks. It is something I want to change. Writing a blog post at the moment is almost like pregnancy AND childbirth in one to me. I feel a lot more comfortable with something less laborious, and that’s something to try out soon.

One reason for my blogosphere silence is usually just life happening: work, moving, processing what propelled me to move, observing how I feel in my new house with new roommates, and how far out of my comfort zone I’m stretching with this. Things germinate slowly with me, so  have the delightful, creative chaos that made me wonder why I ever wanted to live alone, ever, and on the opposite end of the experience the arbitrariness of it all, where just one thing changes that tips the scale. But that’s a whole other story to be told on a different day.

The other reason for is something that some of you might be very familiar with:  I decide it’s about time for a new post, but there are five things cooking simultaneously on my mind-heart stove, and I simply can’t decide which one to pick. My resistance grows as I notice -especially right around the holidays and all through the beginning of a new year – the virtual world exploding with posts, stories, ads, more articles, more ads. Tired before my morning tea, I dig myself out of the avalanche of “best-ever-stories” I’ve been consuming for almost an hour. There is really no reason for me to add to the mess of blessings. So I just keep notes, a lot of them.

My motto is still “Upgrade to Simple” – less is more, minimalism rules, but at the same time I love sharing what inspires me. So I’ll try to bring my notes to life (and make space on my phone in the process), but I also decided to pick two to three newsletters a month that I’ll actually read.

Today, I made time to read one by a fellow coach and fellow-Olympian, wellness-coach Shelly Haas, who wrote about self-inquiry this week.

Like many introverts who present as extroverts in their professional life, I love my solitude to recharge, and I best do it on hikes, long drives, and meals by myself.  Inspired by the question, “what needs attention?”, I packed some water and apples, the good camera, and set out on a journey of self-inquiry and Olympic discovery.

I am learning – I’m not fond of rain every day. I enjoy fog and the ambience it brings, I love snow and miss it something fierce right now, and I have love for rain in corners of my heart, but just like beets, it’s good and necessary, but I don’t want it every day.

I figured since I found some snow in Mt Rainier yesterday and spent almost two hours hiking through pouring rain, I’ll try sandy beaches in today’s precipitation. Off to Ocean Shores, but then my iPod was making funny noises and I got distracted and forgot to drive straight on the 8 and took a right to Shelton instead.

I get disgruntled for a minute. My phone tells me there’s a U-turn in a mile and a half, but then there isn’t, so I’m even more grumpy, and then, as the next U-turn shows up, so does the sun and blue skies and mountain views (!) right ahead, so I give the U-turn the finger and move straight ahead.

I used up my high speed data and 128 kbps are to maps what years are to light, so I decided to wing it and follow the sunshine intuitively.

One turn led to another, and I ended up at Lake Cushman.  Just as I was appealing to the gods of pull-outs “why on earth would you not put a viewpoint alongside such a gorgeous lake?”, I passed a large viewing area. U-turns were a thing today. Waterfalls adorn the road, and the further back I drive, the greener the water becomes. Hemlock, fir and cedar trees line the the banks of the lake. The water levels seem remarkably low after all the rains we’ve had, and I wonder if this area is sheltered and gets less precipitation after all.  We’re in the off season, so the port-a-potties are clean and smell flowery. There are a number of staircases built for easy lake access. Giant tree stumps stand in clans with smaller ones, heavy boulders here and there, and I am having a joyfully unique walking experience altogether. It is warm, 10C, balmy, a promise of spring that I reject – in my home state Alaska, February marks the coldest month of the year with a couple of guaranteed weeks of bitterness around -30F…

As usual, I’m roaming the area until long after sun down. I take my time driving back, enjoying the soft pink sunset triangle in between mountains above the lake, and it seems only a minute until I am in Hoodsport, getting hungry. Hunger comes and goes, I’ll be fine until home; I could grab some bibimbap at Trader Joe’s, or … what?! “King Salmon Dinner w/Clam Chowder & Salad $9.95”.

Another U-turn.

At home, King Salmon is even expensive when you catch it yourself (gas, king tag, etc.). This is either not salmon, or … well, let’s not judge, I tell myself, let’s have a look and a conversation.

As I am standing outside the order window, a chicken approaches me to say hello. It looks a bit grimy, but friendly, and parks itself right next to my feet. I order the King Salmon dinner and sit down in an open annex to the kitchen. I am the only guest, two to-go orders have been picked up, and a young man brings out a large tray with a very large plate and bowl. The salmon tastes amazing. It’s moist and light, absolutely fresh and delicious. Half the plate is covered with fresh, crisp romaine lettuce and a light ranch dressing, and a home-made biscuit. When the young man, whose name is Bruce, asks how everything tastes, I ask him to nuke the soup, as it is a bit too cold for my taste. Within a couple of minutes, Bruce brings a whole new full bowl of soup. No nuking here – he just scooped from a fresh batch of soup.

We start talking – about the salmon he serves, and his food in general. Everything that can be homemade is prepared right here in the kitchen. That includes breakfast (did I hear him say “all day” or was that wishful listening?) with his grandma’s homemade sweet-potato pancakes, and their homemade ice cream. The chowder was one of the best I’ve had in the state, and I’ve had them up and down the peninsula all the way down to Long Beach, and then on the East Coast and in Alaska – Kelsey’s tonight was top tier. The eatery is named after Bruce’s mom, and is a true family business – all fresh, organic, homemade, with family recipes that go back 50 years.

I’m getting used to questions about Alaska, and almost everyone I talk to has a connection to my state. Bruce knew the Kenai Peninsula, and he proudly shared that he picks up his fresh Alaskan salmon and lingcod every morning at 4:30 at the airport in Seattle. His connection to the Kenai includes a story of loss, friendship, and, over some unexpected turns, he talks about his chickens. He keeps 12 on his property and their eggs supply him with enough for his daily recipes – business involves even the feathered family.

“Meet Yeti, the silkie by your feet,” Bruce introduces me to my rather quiet dinner companion. “Yeti is 18 years old.”  The Silkie Yeti has certainly seen fluffier days, but clucks approvingly, and looks at me knowing full well that I will not share my food. He shall hang out anyway, this is his place after all, not mine.

Yeti connects us to another story of friendship, cross-generational, full of respect and ingenious collaboration, and more loss, and love, and family, and survival, and age, hippies, and stubbornness maybe, as he takes another to-go order.

“So where are you from originally?” He laughs when I tell him Germany, and we talk travel and touring and how #45 and his nonsense is impacting my Alaska tours with guests from overseas.

Bruce packs a to go cup with ice cream for me. Huckleberry cream-cheese, cold deliciousness for the way home.  His business has been going great, even in the winter months, and he speaks with joy and excitement about what they have changed to make it more practical, healthy, and more successful.  I almost want to come back tomorrow for breakfast, but no need to be excessive, not even if it is to find out more about how they made Kelsey’s flourish within 2 years.  But I will, some day this year, before the summer madness.

So this is today’s story.

I know, I know. I could’ve just said “hey, there’s a cool eatery in Hoodsport, right on the road, that has King Salmon dinners for less than 10 bucks, plus it’s all organic and they have chickens that talk to you and lay the eggs for your pancakes”, but I can still do that, in a tweet or two.

This was really more about self-inquiry. Remember Shelly’s question?

What needs attention?

My resistance is a great thing to look at. Where do I turn away instead of toward? And when I turn toward, what is the real reason I seek this?  Wherever we experience push and pull, those places are worth paying attention to, on the inside. And I resist where I see profit over people. I lean in when it looks like people over profit, and then connection, sustainability, and balance.

On the outside: Bruce’s lovely family business needs and deserves attention. Their commitment to serve needs attention. Their reverence for family history deserves attention. His big-picture sustainable, whole-hearted, wholesome foods business also does. And the love he doesn’t spell out, but that is so obviously there, for people who are real, who fight an honest fight, who love and live by their own rules, who do no harm, who rescue animals, who light up the lives of others. There is a lot of story here, and that deserves attention.

I feel an urgency when it comes to people’s stories. Here is a simple place that serves good wholesome food with real dishes and silverware, and it is economical and healthy and sustainable, and people oriented.

The riches here deserve attention. It’s not about the money, people. It’s about you, about us.

To serve, and to nourish.

Happy day, Lovelies!

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So I decided I am a Solopreneur… A Small Business Story

{7 minute read}

I am an entrepreneur. A solo-preneur. Solo, the only employee in my coaching business. My small business.  So small I don’t need an office. Just a laptop, wifi, and a phone. And a lot of idealism, willingness to listen and to be coached and mentored, a lot of patience, inspiration, resilience, fearlessness, and trust. Trust that I am where I am supposed to be in my journey, and that all my work eventually will pay off.

My small business is just blossoming. I am a Transition Strategist and Certified Professional Life & Business Coach. I work with professionals who are experiencing the challenges of a major change in their lives. This can be a career transition or a transition in their personal lives. My clients are moving through lay-offs and break-ups; they are on quests for their purpose and driven to define their legacy.  Amidst all these different transitions, I treasure cross-cultural career moves, because they come with their very own set of challenges, especially for the trailing spouses.

Entrepreneurship has changed my life! I love every part of the process, but it is hard work. Thinking about it, I have always been an entrepreneur, a solo-preneur. At age 14, I hijacked my parents’ living room and the grand piano to give piano lessons to an 8-year-old girl from our village. I continued taking students for the next five years and eventually had two whole afternoons blocked off in the living room. Thank you Mom & Dad! Thank you, brothers Andreas and Johannes – your willingness to share and understand was supporting me in ways I can only now fully appreciate.

When my students advanced beyond my level and I happily referred them to my prodigy brother, I started a new entrepreneurial identity and became a language tutor for ESL and French, and private ESL teacher to adult learners. I went on to offer translation and interpretation services in my home country Germany, and was more or less accidentally discovered as a voice talent. I took on voice over jobs for commercials and dubbed tv documentaries for a local tv station. My radio show “Cult and Culture” was a volunteer project that earned me a Sunday morning show on a local radio station, again as a freelancer. Throughout all these ventures I kept my day job or went to school. Later, after moving to Alaska, I worked as a freelance photographer and made minute amounts of money selling prints.  It was a perfect world, as I usually enjoyed my paid work tremendously and my small freelance projects just enhanced the fun.

However, after my most recent full time position, teaching at the university, was -by supervisor’s order- reduced to just retaining students and not letting anyone fail, whether they reached the class goal or not, I realized if I don’t want to compromise my values and ideals any longer, I will have to find a way to serve others with my full skillset independent of an employer. I did a lot of soul searching and applied to many different positions that I thought might fit, underwent a few assessments and finally came to the conclusion that the most honest and straightforward way to honor my gift and give my all to my global community would be as a life and business coach.

So I sold my house and moved my belongings into a storage unit or my son’s home, and took what would fit into my car and two suitcases, and signed up for coaching certification training with iPEC in Toronto. I went back and forth between Alaska and Canada for tour guiding work, but focused on coaching, practiced, learned about the business, practiced, studied, and practiced some more. I coached remotely, via Skype, with willing clients in Germany, Austria, Italy, Brazil, and several U.S. states, and of course Ontario, my training turf. The more I saw results, the bigger my passion to give 110% – give my all and that extra mile, if necessary.

I had to learn everything about being an entrepreneur, and I am not done learning. I have to work part time to make ends meet but this does not deter me from my goal. My biggest obstacle was a spoof ban from Canada that so far no one has been able to fully make sense of. Ten days after my certification I was stranded in upstate New York after trying to re-enter Canada to wrap things up before flying back to my home state of Alaska. I wasn’t allowed to even go back to grab a couple of clothes, let alone taking the time to talk to our attorney and making a decision on how to proceed properly.

Since I was prevented from driving home through Canada, I stayed in the Buffalo/Niagara area until my personal belongings had been brought to me from the place I had stayed near Toronto. It took several months, and during this time I worked part time in Niagara Falls. My remaining waking hours were invested in building The Ki Line, my coaching business. In the past six months, I learned about marketing and client creation in two entrepreneur bootcamps, built my presence on several referral platforms, expanded my website, pro-bono coached six clients, created three new clients, wrote 47 proposals and nine articles, posted 17 youtube videos surrounding my own forced transition and thus created a space where my clients can identify and find their own journey reflected, even if only in parts.

Over the next years of growing my client family, I will develop a transition facilitation model that will help anyone in transition to simplify their lives and thus facilitate any transition. It will impact mobile entrepreneurs as well as professionals who are making a permanent move to a country considerably different from their home.

My biggest “helpers” and tools have been several entities and platforms. Most prominently,  the entrepreneurial culture of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, with its Innovation Center and d!g, the co-working space that stands for “Design-Innovation-Garage”, and all the genius people who create magic there; the supportive team of coaches from my training group, but also Noomii and Thumbtack,  free advertising on virtual platforms such as Craigslist and Kijiji, and most recently LinkedIn ProFinder. Out of all the referral programs, LinkedIn ProFinder stands out. It helps a lot in this continuous process of business building as the ProFinder leads are so much more detailed than leads and requests on other platforms, and the options for pros to respond are also more liberal and expansive. If LinkedIn continues to improve and weed out bots and less sincere, ill-intentioned requesters, ProFinder could be an excellent tool for me to connect with my ideal clients. I am inspired to learn more and work more with LinkedIn as I continue to explore other advertising strategies. In my situation, as a Transition Strategist working through transition as a solopreneur, having one referral program to focus on would be a blessing.

So yes. I am an entrepreneur. It’s not a job, it’s a way of life. There are cloud 9 days, then again days when I question whether this can possibly work.  A day in the life might start hopeful at sunrise, but by 11AM and a look at the bills vs what’s in the bank the joy curve plummets below zero. Lunch might bring a new networking connection, by 3PM a new lead signs and I am near the entrepreneurial heavens again, but by 7PM my website kills the “About” page for no obvious reason and the article I worked on for 3 hours disappears, unretrievably.

In honor of balance, I continue and ride this solo-preneurial fever curve. I am singing with Alanis Morissette in my head…I’m broke, but I’m happy. I’m poor, but I’m a fired-up coach who makes a difference. I am kind, and determined, both as a coach and an entrepreneur. I’m scared beyond description sometimes, but my heart is fearless. I have to keep moving, as I push my clients to keep moving.

So far – it’s been propelling me forward.

Where are you going?

Not sure?

Would you like some help figuring it out?

Call me!

 

*My “BoomingModel” experience deserves its own article. Check back soon!

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