Real You: The power of outside approval

It's funny. Whenever I talk to groups about empowerment or personal branding, writing or publishing, I focus on the basic fact that belief in yourself is the key ingredient of success. The ability to know your REAL YOU, to define it - and what you're conveying to others - authentically - is crucial whether you are selling yourself, widgets, books or teaching your kids an important life lesson. Too often we find ourselves caught up in what other's think - waiting for a five-star review, a pat on the back, a promotion. But really, that waiting and hoping for outside approval moves us far away from our purpose and dangerously close to the snark infested waters I write about in Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs. Relying on outside approval turns your power over to others - and often, unfortunately, those others are snarks who's jealousy or unhappiness leads them to attack.

That's the downside. And the more real you become, the more you believe in yourself and follow your dreams, the more you stir them up. Keep calm and carry on. Try to let the negative slide off your shoulders. And most importantly, embrace the positive. The kind word. The thank yous and the promotions, the five-star reviews. Those are what matters in the end.

That's why I have a printed copy of the Kirkus review of my new novel ALL THE DIFFERENCE pinned above my desk. I was afraid to read the review when it arrived - but when I did, I was delighted. (Do you want me to read it to you? Just kidding, but if you were sitting here, I would!) Outside approval from an amazingly respected source. It will keep me going when a snark attack happens, which it will. The review will keep me believing in my stories, just as the many readers who have written positive reviews believe in my stories.

A few days ago, another letter came in the mail.

It was from Barnes & Noble notifying me ALL THE DIFFERENCE would be carried in store. Happy dances followed, and that letter, too, now adorns my bulletin board. I cannot count on this support, this affirmation. But boy, when it comes, it sure feels good.

Thank you if you've been part of that approval, if you've read and enjoyed my books and let me know. It means so much more than you'll know - and I'll never take it for granted!

Celebrate Life and Loved Ones

You've heard it a million times: Don't take things for granted. Yet, it's difficult for us to grasp the concept in our everyday lives that seem to move at the speed of light. We're so busy. We have just one more thing to do and then we can have dinner with our kids or grab a drink with a friend we haven't had time to see. With the recent loss of several American icons, it makes me once again take a step back and admire all the wonderful people I have in my life. My family, my friends and my co-workers.

Don't take those around you for granted. Re-connect. Reach out to those you haven't seen or talked to in awhile. Maybe it's just a quick catch-up on the phone, or maybe it's a long weekend with family. No matter what, thank them for being a part of your life.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend and call at least one person who you've been thinking about!

What is important when times are tough

I just returned from the Real Estate Connect conference in New York and there were some very depressing economists there. As you no doubt have surmised, the housing market is in a recession. There is a wave of sadness, despair and fear crashing down on those directly involved in the industry: real estate agents, brokers, lenders and the like.

And for good reason. There are 10 month plus inventories in markets across the country. Everyone seems to have stopped buying and selling homes. So, that was the gist of the conference and then I was on a technology panel. My message? Not so much about the next technology killer app - sure there are exciting things appearing daily. But mostly, my message was about getting real.

When times are tough it's more important than ever to make sure you still have passion for the business you're in. If it's real estate, it's especially tough right now. Agents are entrepreneurs. They make the dream of home ownership come to life everyday. So what do they do if they are still passionate about real estate, but times are this tough. They reach out to their customers, who also are afraid of the housing market and the repercussions, and provide them with information and support. They check in, to make sure they're doing OK. In my book, Real You Incorporated, I write about real connections with your customers. And this is a perfect time to do just that.

All of us are in this together as the economy slows down. When you focus on putting the real you in your business - take action and reach out to your clients from your heart, sharing your knowledge and your passions - you'll find a deeper, more authentic connection with your customers when the economy picks back up.

And it will. For more, visit my website: