I’ve been thinking for a long time about how I can share my tried and true networking knowledge to help entrepreneurs grow their business. An opportunity came up. In my role as a SCORE Business Mentor, I was asked to give a class on modern-day networking methods that truly helps to grow business followers. If you are in the area, I hope you can attend!
Beautiful Handmade Artwork Represents a Childhood Dream Come True.
When I was a little girl, I dreamed of sharing my art with the world. Today, I’m excited to announce that my dream has come true with the launch of my online gift store, the Artful Giving Shop. Browse the handmade cards, original artwork, and prints to see what sparks joy in your soul. Each piece arose from a place in my heart where those sparks were truly needed.
Handmade art restores creators, givers, and receivers.
Happy days were scarce while growing up in Japan during the bleak days following the end of World War II. My fondest memories, were making colorful hand-made items using paper, yarn and scraps of Japanese fabrics. I sold them to the neighborhood kids in exchange for play money. I still remember the expressions of joy on their faces as they carefully picked out their choices from the handmade tags, cloth bean bags and origami folded candy wrappers while visiting my make-believe store. It made me feel special when Mother marveled at the array of artwork and craft items I created and exclaimed, “Keiko, wait and see. When you grow up, you will have your own gift store!”
At the age of 11, when my mother brought me to America, I began the arduous task of learning English and acclimating to the American school system. It was often difficult and humiliating, but when things got a little bit too hard for me to take, I always brought out my watercolor set and painted. Art was the one thing that uplifted my spirit, no matter how bad things were.
Artful Giving Shop was created to bring some of those magical moments that I have experienced. I’d love to have you visit my new on-line store, click on the SHOP tab above or go to www.artfulgivingshop.com. While browsing, I hope you find the perfect something that will bring you the same joy that I experienced while creating it.
When you buy my art, you are giving a helping hand to abused animals.
A 10% of proceeds from every sale will be donated to rescue and rehabilitate abused farm and domestic animals.
MANY CULTURES, ONE TEAM
Embracing Diversity in the Workplace
Diversity is essential for your small business because it increases productivity, promotes creativity, and develops a tight-knit culture within the workplace. As an advocate for workplace diversity, you are signaling to your employees and customers that you are open to a work environment that celebrates different perspectives and personalities that help to create a positive, open, and welcoming company based on mutual respect and understanding.
In my small business, our operations book, called the “Book of Kaizen,” dedicates an entire page to the slogan, “Many Cultures, One Team.” I am convinced that my business is richer because we’ve succeeded in combining the talents of many different people: persons of color, a diverse mix of cultural backgrounds, ex-military personnel, people with disabilities, millennials to retired seniors, gays, and lesbians. Applying and supporting this belief system and staying committed to hiring this culturally-rich group of employees has made my business what it is today – a business that is embraced and supported by the surrounding community.
Here are three tips that I have found are useful in promoting diversity in small businesses:
1. Stop and Suspend Judgement
Business owners sometimes hate to admit it, but most have built-in biases and stereotypes that are triggered when they venture into unfamiliar territory. They immediately shut down and pass judgement on people who are different. It is time to remove those filters and start entering into relationships with an open mind.
2. Listen and Learn
When you initially meet, take the time to earnestly converse with potential employees by asking pertinent questions. By this, I mean peeling back the onion into deeper layers versus just staying with the top layers of shallow conversation. Ask them about their life, cultural beliefs, and what’s important to them. You will be surprised how much you learn about their different perspectives.
3. Invite Employee Contributions
I believe that everyone has the capability of making positive contributions to our society. As a business owner, one of your responsibilities is to help everyone uncover the unique gifts that your employees didn’t realize they had. Help them to raise their self-esteem and watch how their personal lives blossom!
The people who ultimately grow through this process are you and the employees in your business. Diversity in the workplace can translate into diversity in your customer base. Our society is a melting pot of people with different backgrounds, so why not make all people feel comfortable doing business for you and with you?
Now that I have provided some of my thoughts about diversity, what are the kinds of things that you can do? Take a few moments and write down some steps that you can take to move towards cultural diversity in both your life and business:
This morning I met with my friend and colleague Tassie Christopher for breakfast at a new Bakery that opened in Mercer Island. We meet quarterly to share with each other what’s been happening in our lives and talk about innovative ideas that we have in our heads.
I asked Tassie, “Are you enjoying the summer season with more daytime hours, sunshine and playtime?”. She replied, “Yes, but time is flying by so fast. Soon September will be here. It’s time to focus and get serious about our entrepreneurial ventures”.
“Well, we need to boost our energy quickly to do that,” I replied with a light hearted laugh.
Getting back to my point…
If you haven’t downloaded all the free training on easy ways to boost energy, more time to nurture creativity and quick relief from overwhelm, exhaustion and feeling stuck, do it now. Today is the last day of the free give-aways.
You owe it to yourself to see the gifts my colleagues and I have created for you.
it really is a 15- minute cure for overwhelm and exhaustion. It’s FREE.
There are 8 creative gifts you will find at the Transform Your Life Giveaway. I hope you will download my gift I made for you titled: How to Build a Business You Love, The Kaizen Way. I share with you what I learned from 40 years of building and running a business I love that continues to keep giving back to my employees, customers and the world.
Head on over there now. Today is the perfect day to explore some new ideas. FYI: It ends tonight at midnight!
Have a great weekend!
Have you ever had the desire to get yourself out of the mundane and push yourself into the next step in your life, learning something new?
Well, I made a leap and enrolled in a Master Mind Group. In this group, I met eight fearless women from across the United States and Europe. We met every week (on-line) and shared our thoughts and ideas in how we can find our authentic voices to share our experiences and wisdom to facilitate you having the best life possible and to achieve your dreams and goals.
Today, I’m doing the happy dance because I can’t wait to share with you the results of our hard work. I’m so excited to tell you about the Transform Your Life Giveaway. Eight of us have created gifts to inspire, encourage, and support our community. I really think you will love these gifts!
You can go here to download my free gift for you, Five Steps in Creating a Business You Love, The Kaizen Way.
I’d love to hear back from you with any thoughts or ideas you may have!
PS- Don’t forget to share this post with others who may be looking for a bit of inspiration in their lives.
Have you ever heard of oracle cards? For years I’ve used them to help make decisions or unblock fears that are getting in my way. Oracle cards come in all shapes and sizes but they’re usually a small deck of cards with various inspirational words or phrases on them. I recently decided it was time to create my own set starting with a paper tiger.
Why start with a tiger? As I explain in the video above, my dear business mentor once explained to me that our fears are like tigers but we must realize that they are only made of papers and paper tigers are easily defeated with the right frame of mind.
Eventually I’d like to offer a full deck of inspirational oracle cards with my original artwork on each card. For now, I invite you to CLICK HERE for a free download about overcoming your fears and facing every situation with confidence. I hope you find it helpful and I wish you a wonderful day!
In honor of National Small Business Week, I’d like to encourage everyone to shop local! As a Small Business Administration’s SCORE Mentor, I’m more enthused than ever to support entrepreneurs. Let’s all help business owners to succeed in building unique businesses that help to build healthy communities.
It has been disturbing for me to see so many of my favorite local small businesses shut down. We all know that high vacancy rates in our communities invite crime and general deterioration of the area, which devalues our housing prices along with diminished community image.
My favorite shopping places are scrapbooking and stamping stores. Two of my favorites were located in Issaquah, just a few miles east of where I live. One of the stores, Lasting Impressions has already closed its doors. I seriously went into depression about this! I sent an email to Shirley, the store’s owner and expressed how much I will miss shopping there. My dog Max and I spent many hours in this store, browsing through its numerous aisles which were filled with stamps of all kinds. It was a good feeling to have the staff call me by my first name and they even remembered Max’s name! Every time Max and I visited the store, staff came over and played with Max. One staff member even brought over a Jack Russell Terrier rubber stamp which looked exactly like Max. Of course I purchase the stamp.
My other favorite store in Issaquah was the Mad Scrapper. The store’s owner, Deanna, owned this store for seventeen years and she worked hard to keep her shelves stocked with the latest papers and embellishments. Keeping a full inventory is not an easy task during difficult economic times. Deanna held on-going workshops for her customers. The classes were free as long as we purchased our supplies from her store. There was no doubt that she put in extremely long hours every day to keep the store’s doors open from morning until late.
One evening, I was working madly to make a cute mini-scrapbook in one of Deanna’s classes. There were ten women in this class. One of the students did not have a particular tool which she needed and was about to get up to purchase one from the store. The woman who was sitting next to her whispered, “Don’t buy it here. You can get this same tool at Michael’s for only half the price using one of their weekly coupons.”
I was so disturbed by what I heard, I couldn’t help but to tell everyone what could happen if we all thought this way. All small, local businesses will be gone, leaving us with only the large chains. Can we get this kind of personalized service from anyone other than the small business owners who struggle every day to stay in business for the simple reason that they are passionate about what they do? If stores like the Mad Scrapper are forced to go out of business (which, I’m sad to say, is exactly what happened), it will be a sad day for all of us who love the specialty stores and their amenities.
So my advice to all is, please look beyond the price and look at the big picture. Do you like what the small local store do for its customers and the community? If your answer is yes, you owe it to yourself to patronize the small businesses and do your part to keep them growing and thriving. In the end, you may end up spending a little more but you and the community will be better off with a vibrant and healthier economic growth. Happy shopping!
What is Kaizen? Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy and work plan strategy where employees at all levels of a company are encouraged to work together to achieve incremental improvements benefitting the business, employees, customers and the larger world. It combines the collective talents within a company (or family) to create a powerful engine for life-long learning in small incremental steps. I hope you will embrace the Kaizen way in your business and personal life. I believe that it will help you to change the way you think and open up boundless opportunities in your life.
Click HERE for a free printable, “The Kaizen Way, 5 Steps to Awaken Your Passion for Work and Life.”