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Surrounding Yourself with Smart People

SMARTOne thing I’ve learned about being in the business world and event industry is that I’m never too old or experienced to learn something new.  Yes, I have years of experience and have expertise in Human Resources, Wedding Planning, etc…but I certainly don’t claim to know everything.  This is the year I’m going to strategically surround myself with people who are smarter than me.  I want to learn from leaders in other industries.  I want to hire people who are smarter than I am.  I want to be smarter, work smarter, live smarter.

Think about the people currently in your circle of influence – the colleagues you’re spending time with, the team you have in place, the networking groups you’re attending…are you learning from other people, and seeking out people who are smarter than you?  I know I personally get comfortable with where I’m at, who I’m spending time with…but it’s so important that we challenge ourselves to reach out to find mentors who have different perspective, experience, and wisdom.

This week Michelle and I have been attending Alt Summit, and WOW – we are learning so much about the blogging world, and have loved surrounding ourselves with people who have some serious business and life wisdom to share.  Next week I’ll be sharing a re-cap of our experience so be sure to check back to hear all about it!

In the meantime…identify 2-3 people, associations, networking groups, conferences, etc. you can reach out to in an effort to surround yourself with smarter and wiser people.  We all have something to learn from one another!


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Announcing * Be Sage Conference * – The Next Level in Business Strategy



We invite you to join us at Be Sage Conference this August 3-5 in Chicago. We want you to have a deeper business strategy that will take your business to the next level. This isn’t a business theory conference. And, while you will certainly be inspired, we aim to prepare you with actual tools to use in your business (not just a hope and dream.)

This conference will answer the following questions and more:

  • how do I expand to another market?
  • how do I license a product or service?
  • is franchising something I should consider in my business?
  • how do I retire?
  • how do I transition from my day job to a full-time business?
  • will financial leverage benefit my business?
  • how do I evolve my branding to reflect the growth my business has made?
  • how do I capitalize on trends before the competition?
  • how do I get on Oprah?

We will continue to add conference details at: www.besageconference.com

Greenhouse Loft, Chicago | August 3-5, 2014
Tickets go on sale February 10th at 9am PST


A big thank you to our sponsors…

Greenhouse Loft

Five Grain Events

Fig Catering

Doodledog Creative

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January 23, 2014 - 12:49 pm

Jenn Sprinkle - So exciting you guys!!!!!!!

Using Pinterest Ethically, Legally, and *Coolly*

I’ve been privy to a few conversations lately regarding some ‘less than cool’ Pinterest activity. And by ‘less than cool’ I mean… unethical or illegal or just not cool.

Today… I want to invite you all to share with me YOUR thoughts on ‘less than cool’ Pinterest activity. Please leave a comment below… what is NOT cool to do on Pinterest? (I confess. I had to give up my Pinterest addiction years ago in its early phase. I lost 2 much sleep in a 2 day bender.:)I need you to help me out.)

I’ll share some of my thoughts here…

Swapping links for yours (especially if you are swapping with monetized links) – not cool

This happens when someone pins something andpinterest  inserts a link for reference. (The link is to the original blog post and it gives credit to the creator.) Someone repins the pin and substitutes it with a link going to their site – or, worse – a link that has an affiliate code for some sort of financial gain.

That’s not cool.

This is kinda like stealing.

Borrowing’ images from Pinterest without giving credit to the original source – not cool

Pinterest can be amazing at driving traffic to artists’ sites. The flipside is that when stuff gets pinned, it can easily lose the original source information. 1000 pins down the road and this image has now been downloaded onto someone’s computer and revamped for their own purpose.

Pinterest is not a database of free-to-use creative commons artwork. It is illegal to use images or manipulate images found on Pinterest.

That’s not cool.

Always ask permission. (Here’s a cool post that talks more about this.)

Posting Your Work – that’s OK! Just be cool about it.

When Pinterest first began it was taboo to pin your own work. Now, this is a completely acceptable way to share your work. However, keep in mind… like with all social media, if you only talk about yourself, people will get bored. (“I’m so vain.”) Make sure to attribute your work to your business.

What do you think? Are these not cool? What is also not cool? I know I’m barely tapping the surface here and I’d love to get your thoughts!

Pinterest has a great little etiquette page for more thoughts..

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January 8, 2014 - 4:03 pm

Deb - I completely agree. We have this wonderful resource but let’s be sincere and give credit where credit is due. Let’s not take someone else’s work as our own. The entire idea of Pinterist is to admire and reproduce of course, but let’s let that me enough.

Intregity is much more important than claiming a picture for yourself in the long run…

January 8, 2014 - 10:33 pm

Michelle Loretta - It’s a strange medium Deb because we are supposed to copy and paste what we like… so by nature, I think, people get carried away with the copying and pasting… and forget that there are people behind those images. Love what you say about integrity!

January 9, 2014 - 4:37 am

Adriaan - Can’t steps be taken to stop these people? Surely Pinterest terms must be violated, if not they should revisit their terms.

January 9, 2014 - 11:58 am

Michelle Loretta - Yes – Pinterest has terms for this… and they actually do work to shut down people like that. (This is something people need to know – because they could be in risk of being shut down.) I can imagine that, like everything, it likely takes a while for them to learn about perpetrators. They do give people a place to report copyright infringement: http://www.pinterest.com/about/copyright/dmca/ . But, I don’t know if they have a place for them to report people who are just being really sneaky about changing links to monetized/affiliate links.

January 12, 2014 - 3:21 am

elisa | weditorial - wow – very disappointing to hear about the uncool ways pinterest is abused; appreciate the info :)

January 12, 2014 - 8:40 pm

Kathy - Michelle, great article! It’s such a hot topic and so confusing for those of us who aren’t lawyers, ha ha! I interviewed an attorney on the topic last year to get a legal perspective…what an eye opener! http://brideappeal.com/blog/pinterest-copyright-violation-are-you-guilty

Find Us at Alt Summit this Month!


I’m so excited to share that I’ll be at Alt Summit this month in Salt Lake City! Alt is a fantastic conference for creative entrepreneurs and bloggers. I am honored to be a part of this incredible opportunity. (Go check out the other fab speakers… ever heard of a little site called Pinterest? Yeah, they’re speaking there!)

I’ll be sharing knowledge with attendees at “Ask an Accountant”. Come to me with your questions on finances, accounting, taxes, and so on. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite tips… and I’ll have some cool little freebies for you to take home and strategize your money matters.

Will you be there? Let me know in a comment below.

PS – don’t forget! Kelly is at The Special Event in Nashville this week. Go check out her talk on ‘How to Grow a Team‘ this Thursday morning.

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January 7, 2014 - 10:47 am

Brooke Meyenberg - Awesome (and what perfect timing for next season’s strategies)! Looking forward to attending your session. @littleretreats

January 7, 2014 - 3:17 pm

Misse - So excited for the conference!

SWOT Analysis – The Quick-n-Easy Snapshot of Your Business

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2014! This is the time of year when we set goals, make resolutions, and chart out our plans for the upcoming year. In doing so, we examine the past to see what we want to hold onto, what we want to improve upon, and what we want to change.

There’s a cool little tool called a SWOT Analysis that I find very helpful in getting a quick snapshot into a business’s performance.

SWOT it!

A SWOT is an analysis of your business for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. (You can download a free SWOT guide to this from yesteryear here.) I find it helpful to create a SWOT analysis every year (if not every 6 months).

Let’s do one! Quick-n-easy!

wikipedia creative commons

wikipedia creative commons


Identify 5-10 strengths within your business. What are the characteristics, events, achievements that are advantages in your business? These are generally things that you have control over.

Now think of how you can build off those strengths.


Identify 5-10 weaknesses within your business. What are the characteristics, challenges, and soft spots that are harmful to your business? These are generally things that you have control over.

Now think of how you can work with or past these challenges.


What opportunities are there for your business? List 5 things that you can capitalize on for the benefit of your business. Typically, opportunities are external factors that you have little control over. However, you can decide how you want to take advantage of such opportunities.

An example of an opportunity might be: “The destination wedding segment is experiencing huge growth. I will take advantage of this opportunity by marketing my extensive knowledge of Mexican beach cities and booking 3 destination weddings in 2014.”


What threats are there to your business? List 5 things that can be harmful to your business. Threats are external factors that you have little control over. By identifying them you can adjust your business accordingly.

An example of a threat is: “The increasing competition from new wedding pros entering my trade is a threat to my business. I will work around this challenge by introducing innovative services and communicating my differences. This will help me stand out and compete more effectively.”

The big picture

See that little matrix up there? That’s a really helpful little chart that will help you see how the pieces interrelate. Strengths and opportunities are helpful to your business. Weaknesses and threats are harmful. Strengths and weaknesses are within your control… how will you augment your strengths? How will you minimize your weaknesses? Opportunities and threats are out of your control. (Often they are reflections of the economy or the market.) How will you position your business to take advantage of opportunities? How will you work around threats?

So… what do you think? How does your business look?

Want more planning tools? Check out our 2014 Action Plan.

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