Real You: Down to the wire and out to the world

     Have you ever worked on something for a decade or more? Something so important to you that your dreams, hopes and wishes are one with the project. I have. It happened as we created and built Real Living Real Estate, and it's happening again, now, as I launch my debut novel into the world.      Just like Real Living, my novel isn't for everybody. But I hope most people who pick it up and give it a read will like it. But all I can do is send it out to the world, knowing I did my best.

If not now, when?

That's what I decided when I embarked on this new fiction writing career. If not now, when? Sure, I could continue to dream about becoming a published novelist. That was one of my favorite escapes, actually, wandering through a wonderful bookstore and admiring all of the titles on the New Fiction shelf. I kept thinking, well, sure, someday that could be me. But I'll tell you what. That someday would never have come about unless I decided to go for it. As in everything in life - making your dreams come true ultimately is up to you. How about you? What are you putting off? If you're waiting for the perfect moment to pursue your passions, you'll be waiting forever. There really is no time like the present. It starts with believing in yourself and your dreams. If your dream is to become an entrepreneur, get started today. You don't need to quit your day job immediately, but you need to start moving toward your dream. Research. Interview women already successful in the field of your dreams.

    What inspires you? What is missing in your life? Is your dream to write and be published? Start now. Sign up for classes. Carry a journal. Take action to begin to make your dreams come true.

Start now on the path to becoming who you truly are. Believe in yourself. The money will follow. If you start today, start to move forward, you are on your way to a miracle. Your own reinvention.

If not now, when?

Note: if you need inspiration to get going, my book Real You Incorporated may be just the ticket. If you'd like to support my dream, please preorder HERE, HOME, HOPE! Thank you!!

Real You: The social media allure

I'll admit it. I'm hooked on Twitter and Facebook. And I'm there, almost too often. But in my defense, I love it out there. Yesterday, I discovered the Women Entrepreneur Festival taking place in New York and on the hashtag #wefestival. Following the tweets, I was almost in the room. It was so inspiring. Meanwhile, on Facebook, I watch my high school and college friends' children grow, share in their accomplishments and meet new friends with shared interests - from all over the world. I've also started my first ever fan page and it's almost silly how joyful I become when another person "Like"s my Kaira Rouda Books page. (Sally Fields, anyone?)

I've found folks to be either all in or completely disdainful when it comes to social media. And what I will say, to those who remain in disdain, try LinkedIn. It's like sticking your toe in the water. Move on from there.

As I wrote in Real You Incorporated, the real world really is on online; and you should join the fun.

Real You: Are you marching forward on your purpose and vision?

RoadIf you are, you are stepping into your power. You are shining bright, sharing your vision with others and moving forward. You know who you are—The Real You—and you know where you are going. Your passions are defined (step 2 of the Real You process), and your personal brand is fully formed. You truly have found it within. When you are following your purpose in life—and applying that purpose and passion to your business—your competitive advantage crystallizes. You are able to use your fully formed Real You competitive advantage to delight your customers. And when you’re in business, that’s the end game. Truly.

Whether you are a full-time entrepreneur, considering becoming one, or somewhere in between, your personal brand and your business brand are unstoppable as long as they are aligned with purpose and vision.

Remember the strength found in conviction, in confidence. Remember, you aren’t alone. You are the only one who can define your dream and go for it. So, as the summer begins to wind down, the only question that remains is: Why aren’t you moving forward?

“People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves, they have the first secret of success.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

Real You: The Movie!

It’s been a summer of inspiration—speaking with women all over the country about how to put—and keep—the Real You in your business and your life. It made me realize certain themes pop up, no matter the audience, and those themes are the ones I want to share with you in The Real You Movie.

Grab your power, and shine! If you like the movie, please pass it on!

Real You: Take the Leap

"If you're never scared or embarrassed or hurt, it means you never take any chances."-Julia Sorel (Rosalyn Drexler), See How She Runs, 1978

You know the feeling. For me, it's sweaty palms. For you it may be a racing heart, or butterflies in the stomach—all those tell-tale signs that you're uncomfortable. Your body is triggering the flight sensors, and you're going to go along with it.

But then you take a deep breath, maybe have a little cry or call a friend, and realize this leap out of your comfort zone is what will propel you forward, get you to the next big thing. You realize that without the uneasy feeling of the unknown, it's easy to be stuck in the familiar and known. To grow a business, and for that matter, to grow a life, you need to keep pushing. To keep growing and moving forward. To face your fears and take that leap is uncomfortable—whether it's cold calling a prospect, public speaking, driving in a big city, moving to a new neighborhood, starting a business or being president of your civic association.

Remember, though, the more long-term discomfort in life comes from the regrets you have of challenges not taken, of opportunities missed.

So what's holding you back? Why are you stuck in the comfort zone? What would happen in your life if you took that chance? And what, if anything, will happen if you don't? Ten years from now, will you be glad you stayed in the zone, or sad you didn't take the leap when you could?

Remember: "To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself." -Soren Kierkegaard

Entrepreneurship: The Road to Independence

What is independence? To me, it's entrepreneurship. It's the ability to do what I love, when I want, with whom I want. It's the new American dream. Women everywhere are making it happen, and you can, too! Here are my top five reasons you should take the leap.

1. Independence. I love this quote from an anonymous high school student: "Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won't, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can't." I couldn't have said it better.

2. Creative Reign. This is your chance to express your brand. To connect. To reach out. To give your customers just what they need, wrapped in a package that's uniquely you.

3. Passion. Create your own fireworks by doing what you love. Pursing your passions makes your heart happy. I promise!

4. Satisfaction. Wake up every day knowing you've built something special. Something that has you stamped all over it. Something you're proud of. Something you'll leave behind.

5. Mentoring/Giving back. Each day is an opportunity to learn and to mentor. You have the freedom to put your name behind your charitable passion and support your community. Give back to those who have helped you, and shepherd those who will be the future.

So how do you get started? Create that brand board I'm always talking about. Express your passions, your ambitions, the colors that draw you in and the words that catch your eye. Look at it everyday and ask yourself, “What will I do for my brand and future business today? Who has the knowledge and experience to help me get there?”

Start on your path to personal freedom by putting your passion into action!

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!

Help Save Ohio Libraries

As a book lover and author, this news of library funding cuts breaks my heart, but we can all do our part to save Ohio libraries! What’s happening: On June 19, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland proposed a budget cut that would reduce state funding for public libraries by $227.3 million in 2010 and 2011 fiscal years. This reduction would cut Ohio’s public libraries funding 30 percent in addition to the 20 percent cut due to the decline of the state’s General Revenue Fund. A total 50 percent cut in funding.

What it means: As a result, branches may close, hours of operation will be reduced, new book and material orders will be halted and other vital summer reading programs and services would end. With the economic hardships that thousands of Ohioans are facing, trips to the library have provided some relief for families, and I can’t imagine what some families would do without those opportunities.

How you can help: • Call or email Ohio legislators. For phone numbers and emails, click here. To email all legislators and senators at once, click here.

• Join the Facebook group, and update your Facebook and Twitter status with:

“I contacted my elected officials to help save Ohio libraries, and you should too. Find out more at”

The Ohio Library Council site has provided the image below for you to save and upload as your profile picture on social media sites.


• Spread the word! Let friends know what is going on, how you have helped and how they can, too.

For more information, visit The General Assembly Conference Committee is likely to make a decision this week, so act fast!

Entering the Business World Knowing Your Passion

This past week I was approached by a graduating college senior, and she had an excellent question.

“While my first choice is to find a job on my own, my family owns a business and they’d love for me to join them. Given the current state of the economy, should I consider joining the family business my best option?”

And after talking with her, I started to realize that is about the time when students are planning to set foot into the “real world” and are unsure about what’s next and which direction they should go. So to answer her question and to try and calm the fears of other students in her position, I say…

Don’t alter your passions. Do you really want to join the family business? Is it part of your passion? Or are you altering your passion for security? Will it make you wake up in the morning excited and ready to take on the world? That said, it is an option, and it’s one to consider temporarily if no alternative rises to the surface. In the meantime, here are a few things to consider when making your decision:

· Are you passionate about your family’s business?

· Is joining the business your dream—or is it your family’s dream?

· Do you have experience in the field, or will you have to learn?

· Will you have equal share in the decision-making, or will that evolve over time?

· Will there be times when you feel awkward because you came on board as a family member?

To all you graduating college seniors, find your passion, build your personal brand and start searching for companies with cultures inline with your passions. That is where you will prosper. And to future employers, start building a culture that will attract our Gen Y workers. They are entering the work force and desire inspiration!

Finding a Balance that Works for You

Women continually struggle with work-life balance. There are many women who believe there is this set, generic and ideal form of balance. However, that is just not the case. Balance differs for everyone. What works for your co-worker may not work for you. And what works for you may not work for your neighbor. Everyone is different and has a different job and your work-life balance should reflect that. Also, many women believe that their personal and business life should be completely different. But instead hear this: Your business is your personal life.

By that I mean if you develop your business around your personal brand essence, then the real you will rise to the surface. You’re a package. Your values, personality—even your passions—they all come together to create a personal brand that defines you. Now take it one step further and incorporate that brand into your business.

There are steps for accomplishing this goal, and I talk about them in great detail in my book, but the basic concept remains the same: Make your personal brand and your business brand one. And don’t forget that it all has to happen within the guidelines of authenticity. Don’t be a fake. Stay genuine and true to your passions and your ideals. Balance is only achieved if and when you stay true to your passions—and you refuse to separate your business brand from your personal brand.

The time is now, start your own business today!

It’s never too late to start your own business! Whether you are 28 or 72, if you are passionate about business, you will succeed.

As the baby boomer generation grows older, it is more common to see that those approaching retiring age are not emotionally ready to do so. Every 60 seconds, a woman starts a business, and a large percentage of those women are over the age of 50. Many of these women have a productive career behind them, years of knowledge packed away and still dream of running their own business. And there are not limitations on making your dreams come true.

I tell people all the time that it’s never too early or too late to create their personal brand. Everything you’ve done up to this point has prepared you for entrepreneurship, and you are uniquely qualified to make your dreams and your passions come to life. Along the way, you’ve acquired wisdom and experience. Sure there have been setbacks, but you’ve moved ahead with great strides. In short, you’ve learned from a wide variety of experiences that will benefit you greatly in the days to come.

So, I say start defining your personal brand today. Then take it, along with the experience, insight and confidence you’ve gained in the process, and begin the next chapter of your career with gusto.

Turn part-time passions into a full-time gig

Have you listened to your heart lately? In the second step of the Real You Process, we explore your passions—the things that make your heart sing. Maybe you love working with children, you're an excellent writer or you have a killer voice that you haven't used in awhile. We all have passions and talents that have been pushed aside because life got in the way. But that shouldn't be an excuse.

Start living your passions. Especially in this time of economic uncertainty, you need to have a back-up plan. Something to lean on. Something that makes you smile each and every day. Use that talent, and turn it into something profitable by starting your own side business.

Here are some quick tips:

• Start simple, on the side. You're not ditching your full-time job here. Not just yet, anyway.

• Take your time and think about your business plan. What would your product/service be? Who is your target audience? What companies could you partner with? Who do you know that could help you on your way?

• Confide in those closest to you, personally and professionally, and ask their advice. Do you have a mentor? Call him/her today!

• Pick up a copy of Real You Incorporated and fill out your chart. This will guide you through the basics and help you define your new company.

Now is a great time to start thinking about how you can turn your skills and passions into the business of your dreams, all the while securing your future in this rollercoaster economy.

Have you turned your part-time passion into a successful business? Tell us about your story!

Time to enter the family business?

The question of whether or not to join a family business is a tough one. You have been given an opportunity, that’s for sure, but it is smart to carefully evaluate the situation before you jump in. I recommend asking yourself the following:

  • Are you personally passionate about this business? If you’re not, it may not be right for you.
  • Do you have experience in the field? If not, are you willing to learn, and do you think you have what it takes to be successful?
  • What does the future hold? Will you be an equal decision-maker, and will you be able to grow with the company?
  • And perhaps most important, will joining the family business be at all awkward? You may feel like you have to justify your existence to outsiders down the road. Some folks deal with that better than others.

As you contemplate these points, consider who it is that will be teaching you the business. The answers to your questions will help you decide if joining the family business is the right decision. Good luck!

Turn your Passion into a Business

With companies being pulled in every direction and employees clinging to their jobs, it seems like women all around me are becoming entrepreneurs. According to the Center for Women’s Business Research, women are starting businesses at more than twice the rate of men—maybe even more. In fact, a woman starts a business every 60 seconds. They are employing one of every seven workers in the U.S., and the majority of women-owned businesses continue to grow about two times faster than other firms.

Now that I’ve wowed you with the facts, let’s talk about why this is happening. Well, for starters, women are tired of being held back. Many view entrepreneurship as the only way to break the glass ceiling because other, more traditional channels have not yielded the desired results. Also, with our changing economic times, women are taking the time to step back and evaluate their lives. Finding that they are unhappy with their current jobs, women are focusing on their passions. All around the country women are realizing they should love what they do and are turning their passions into actions: businesses! They’re approaching entrepreneurship in a way that is truly genuine—and real.

Are you doing what you love? Tell us about it!

How to build your personal brand

Defining your personal brand can be overwhelming. We are complex individuals with so many passions and aspects to our lives. So where do you start?

Begin by taking a look in your rear-view mirror. By that I mean step back and take some time to think about where you are in your career—and where you want to be. The process of introspection is so necessary and so helpful when it comes to defining your goals and setting your course.

Next, define your passions. I like to refer to passions as the things in life that make your heart sing. My advice is to keep your list to four or five. Then, find the real people in your life. That means separating yourself from negative influencers (aka snarks). Next, follow your instincts. Use your intuition to your advantage. All of these elements working together help to build a brand that truly represents you.

And remember, don’t go it alone. This is so important because none of us can do it alone. The world is changing too quickly, and there’s no way you can be an expert in all facets of your business. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength and confidence.

Want to learn more about your personal brand? Sign up for my tip of the week!

In times of transition, follow your instincts

When faced with big career choices, it is often hard to know what the right decision is. It is during these times that I always say go with your gut! It seems it’s these moments in life that allow us to identify and follow our passions. During these times, don’t compromise your dreams. If you do, you will pay for it dearly down the road in the form of frustration and lack of fulfillment.

I tell people to take some time off. Get away. Spend some time alone. Then use that time for retrospection. What did you dream about doing when you were a child? Most of us can trace our passions back to a time in our lives when we were much younger—a time before our lives were clouded with the thoughts of others. Sure, it’s great to get other people’s opinions, but don’t let those thoughts complicate—or pull you away from--what you truly want to do in life. Simply said, follow your instincts.

One of my passions is writing. What are some of yours?

First things first in 2009!

If you’re like me and haven’t made a New Year’s resolution, do you feel guilty? If you have made a New Year’s resolution and you’re feeling like you won’t live up to it, are you worried? Well, stop it already! Some of us are good at resolutions; others aren’t. But the key to starting anything, at any time, is to make sure it’s true to the Real You. Are you keeping yourself at the center of your life? That phrase, and reminder, in and of itself is the key to a successful 2009 and a successful life. And no, I don’t mean moving through life without loving your family, friends and coworkers. What I mean is that your love for them can only be fully actualized if you are fully actualized. If you are being the Real You. The key to deep relationships and a rich life is through the intimacy involved in letting people in—letting them get to know the real you. That is only possible if you know her yourself.

Here’s a question for you: If you could be anyone, living or dead, who would you be?

The answer, I hope: YOU!

When I wrote Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs, I hoped it would help other people like you feel empowered to be real, to take charge of your life by putting your passions into action and creating or recreating the life and business of your dreams. The feedback has been fabulous, and many of you have posted your charts and vision boards on the website. I’ve received emails and letters from across the country from women—and men—who have been inspired and empowered by the Real You Process.

My wish for you for 2009 is that you take the time to cherish yourself. Take a step and complete your Real You Chart, perhaps, or finish your vision board. Today is, in fact, the first day of the rest of your life. Don’t sit back and wish you had taken care of yourself. Don’t wish your dreams would come true. Take action. Put yourself and your passions at the center of your life. Be kind to yourself. Take a deep breath, let your worries melt away, and make 2009 the year the Real You shines through!

Economy have you down? Start your own business.

Does the economy and the job market have you down? Well now is a great time to start thinking about what you are truly passionate about. This is the perfect time to take a break and think about what you really want out of the upcoming years. Do you want to continue working for the same company? Where do your passions lie? How and when are you going to put your passions into actions?

With the US losing 605,000 jobs in the first right months of 2008 and the unemployment rate reaching 6.1% in Aug. 2008, according to The Center for American Progress, the corporate world doesn’t look so stable. If you are thinking about starting your own business, now is the prefect time to do your research, see what’s happening in your potential industry and fill the voids.

There are unlimited resources out there to help you. and are great sites for aspiring entrepreneurs.

To help put your entrepreneurial vision together, check out the chart creator at

Give thanks by getting involved in a charitable pursuit.

As Thanksgiving approaches, we are once again reminded of the many reasons to be thankful. Even in trying economic times such as these, it’s almost always the case that we can look around and see others who are indeed less fortunate. As always, there are a myriad of ways to give back to your community, but the best way to channel your time, energy and resources is to follow your heart. In other words, identify problems in your community or the world that are important to you. So, my challenge to you is to pick three areas where your gifts could shine. Then, seek out organizations in your community that serve at least one of your chosen areas. Go to the Web site, contact the organization and start giving your time and resources in a way that demonstrates how truly thankful you are.

Barbara Fergus, owner and partner of the automotive dealership Midwestern Auto Group (MAG), has channeled much of her energy to philanthropy. She has a special interest in the arts and culture; consequently, that’s where she has placed most of her philanthropic focus. But she doesn’t shy away from other needs when she sees them. In fact, women’s leadership is also near and dear to her heart, and she is a proponent of policy change that will bring long-lasting results in that area. No doubt Barbara is thankful for her company’s success. More important, she has channeled that success into ways she can help others in her community. That’s what giving thanks by getting involved in a charitable pursuit is all about.

During the next few days, as you sit down with family and friends for a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner, think about how you might turn things around and help others in the community.

To learn more about finding and following your charitable passion, read Life Lesson 21 in Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs.