A Dose of Knowledge

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Oh My Goodness!

Yikes! Why didn't anyone tell me it's been TWO MONTHS and some days since my last post? Wow time flies. I guess I haven't been posting because this isn't a blog made for me to post my random thoughts. It's here to talk about various books I've read. True to the date, I haven't read ANY books since last year :-( simply deplorable.

I've still been busy with work, acting, and other side things (like car maintenance and pet care). Lol. Still, I haven't forgotten about you all who read my blog.

I shall return soon.

~BB~

Monday, January 3, 2011

My Apologies Everyone!

Good evening everyone! I want to extend my most sincerest apologies for not blogging these past 2 weeks and especially without prior notice. It has been extremely hectic in my life recently with the holidays and all. My day job keeps me more than busy. Also, I've been rehearsing with THE most wonderful cast ever for a production by David John Talent Machine called Hernando's Hideaway. In this musical murder mystery comedy, I play the cheeky Asian waitress, Mimi. It's going to be a wonderful show! It's a dinner and a show sort of deal. You can find out more by visiting http://www.davidjohntalentmachine.com/



It has been a real challenge this past month balancing my day job (I'm a drafter) with my second job (personal assistant to a personal trainer) and the rehearsals for this play. So that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I have not been on here as often. I am, however, going to keep this blog going. There is no doubt about that. I will be changing the day of the week from Thursday to Sunday though. Sunday is usually a much more calm and relaxing day for me. Those conditions are especially conducive to reading (and thoroughly enjoying) a book.

The next book that I plan to blog about is definitely a winner. It's entitled Never Get a Real Job by Scott Gerber. It's a great read for anyone thinking of becoming an entrepreneur. I literally cannot wait to tell you guys about it.

That's it for now! So see you all Sunday.

~BB~

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Stuff White People Like by Christian Lander

Well, the last few posts have been for my ladies. But this week, I want to go in another direction. Let's take it to the funny, humorous side of life with this book all about white people. Now before anyone gets offended, I just want to start off by saying that the guy who wrote this book is indeed white or Caucasian (whichever you prefer) himself. I think that makes it just THAT much more funnier.


Usually I don't go right to the back of the book, but in this one it kind of serves as a table of contents since at the beginning he just jumps right to the traits of white people. Now, of course, we all know that there is no way to write a book on ALL of the things that any one race does. Even if you think that you did, you would always end up causing arguments, disagreements, and hurt feelings. However, there is no denying that in a such a book there will always be at least one thing that you can agree that you do or that someone of your race does. Anyway, I just wanted to get that thought out of the way before I proceeded into the contents of the book.

So, as I was writing before, in the back of the book he lists all of the 150 traits in a check-off list and then you have the opportunity to tally up your checkmarks at the end to determine your whiteness percentage lol. I must admit I do ALOT of things on this list. Those traits have to do with coffee, religions their parents don't belong to, film festivals, assists, farmer's markets, organic food, diversity, Barack Obama, making you feel bad for not going outside, Wes Anderson movies, Asian girls, nonprofit organizations, tea, having black friends, yoga, gifted children, hating their parents, awareness, international travel, being an expert on your culture, writer's workshops, having two last names, microbreweries,wine, David Sedaris, Manhattan (and Brooklyn, too!), marathons, not having a TV, '80s night, Wrigley Field, snowboarding, veganism/vegetarianism, marijuana, architecture, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart/The Colbert Report, brunch, renovations, Arrested Development, Netflix, Apple products, indie music, sushi, plays, public radio, Asian fusion food, the Sunday New York Times, Liberal Arts degrees, Whole Foods and grocery co-ops, vintage, irony, living by the water, Sarah Silverman, dogs, kitchen gadgets, apologies, lawyers, documentaries, Japan, natural medicine, Toyota Prius, bicycles, knowing what's best for poor people, expensive sandwiches, recycling, coed sports, divorce, standing still at concerts, Michael Gondry, Mos Def, difficult breakups, being the only white person around, study abroad, gentrification, Oscar parties, threatening to move to Canada, bottles of water, musical comedy, multilingual children, modern furniture, the idea of soccer, graduate school, hating corporations, bad memories of high school, t-shirts, The Wire, shorts, outdoor performance clothes, having gay friends, St. Partick's Day dinner parties, San Francisco, music piracy, Rugby, New Balance shoes, beards, having children in their late thirties, red hair, Noam Chomsky, non-motorized boating, the Boston Red Sox, scarves, cleanses, self-deprecating humor, integrity, pretending to be a Canadian when traveling abroad, the Criterion collection, natural childbirth, high school English teachers, native wisdom, trying too hard, Portland Oregon, free health care, Che Guevera,, The New Yorker, non-American news sources, subtitles, premium juice, the ACLU, plaid, platonic friendships, reusable shopping bags, acoustic covers, Dave Chappelle, Tibet, Nintendo Wii, conspiracies, The Simpsons, avoiding confrontation, DJs, carbon offsets, following their dreams, not having cash, adopting foreign children, LEED certification, expensive strollers, singer-songwriters, eating outside, books, music festivals, glasses, McSweeney's, hardwood floors, bakeries, modern art museums, cheese, therapy, public transportation that is not a bus, dive bars, self-importance, and rock climbing. Any of them sound like you would be involved in it too? Watch out! You just might act more white than you think lol.

Everything in this book is hilarious so I'm just going to randomly pick say 10 different page numbers and let you in on the funny! Alright so the first page number is 10. On this page we find, the subjects Barack Obama and making you feel bad for not going outside. White people like Barack Obama because they are afraid that if they don't they will be considered racist. Lol and that is all that Christian said on that subject. As for the other subject, Christian mentions that white people love to be outside. It is hardwired in white people's minds that the greatest thing anyone can do in their free time is hike/bike/walk outdoors. So for instance, if a white person sees you about to sit down on the couch and enjoy a game, they will that you are wasting your life away. If you ignore them though, they will eventually go away.

The next page number is 84 and on here we find the subject of divorce. If you are in a room with more than five white people, it is a statistical certainty that at least two of them have divorced parents and at least one has an ex-wife or husband. In fact, the combination of alcohol and stories about divorce is the easiest and most efficient way to gain the trust and admiration of a white person. If the man/woman is going through a divorce, do not be too concerned. A lifetime of difficult  breakups has prepared them. The best thing that you can do is just assure them that they deserve better.

On page 123 of this definitve guide to white people, we are taught about how they view music piracy. White people have always been renowned for having ridiculously large music collections. When you see a white male with a full iPod, ask him if all of his music is legal. If he doesn't immediately start talking about his right to pirate music, he will rattle off statistics about how most musicians don't make money from albums. He will walk you through the process of how record labels are set up to reward the corporation and fundamentally rob the artist of their rights, royalties, and creativity. Because of the availability of music online, a very strict social hierachy has been created within the white culture whereby someone with a large MP3 collection is considered "normal," a large CD collection is considered to be "better," and a person with a large vinyl collection is recognized as "elite." It is recommended, however, that you do not let this conversation about music drag on much longer or you will be subject to them talking for hours about bands you've never heard of.

On to page 6 we go and there we find the subjects assists and farmer's markets. We all know that in the game of basketball, passing is a must. Trying to be a white guy who dunks is like trying to be a white rapper -- yea, there are a few, but you have to work twice as hard for half the results. One explanation is that white people still feel guilty over slavery, colonialism, and the crusades, so passing is a way to make up for it. More importantly, it makes them feel good to help others. White people like farmer's markets for a number of reasons. The first is their undying need to support local economies and small businesses. Some of the other reasons include: it's outside, they can bring their dogs and children in expensive strollers, and they get to see other white people.

Now on to page 199. I've never even heard of a dive bar and since I always like learning something new, I enjoyed reading this part. Anyway, a dive bar is a place with cheap drinks and minimal decoration that was formerly frequented by those who dislike white people. For white people who do not like to dance, it is acknowledged as the best place to spend a night out. A common fantasy is for a white person to "discover" a dive bar and quickly become a fixture at the place so that the regulars will accept them as one of their own. After white people have found a good dive bar, they slowly start to take over by bringing friends who bring friends who bring friends who bring friends lol. By the time they have taken over, all of the original locals have moved on from the bar. If you are one of the remaining locals, you can always count on a free drink from that original white person to toast to the good old days.

Here on page 176, we learn all about how white people feel about following their dreams. White people are required to support anyone who decides to follow their dreams, regardless of the likelihood of success. Generally a white person is most likely to follow their dream between the ages of 18 and 25. The majority will wait until they finish college before moving away to chase their dream of being an actor, writer, photographer, director, artist, musician, DJ or producer. Regardless of how catastrophic and irresponsible their actions are, if the end goal is to "follow their dreams" you must support them blindly or else you will be seen as a Simon Cowell-esque figure who is hated by all as a crusher of hope.

On page 196, we are thrust into the wonderful world of cheese lol. White people are expected to have an extensive and deep knowledge of cheese, cheese regions, and proper cheese pairings. Knowing your way around a cheese plate can help to improve your standing with white people in an instant. It is best to treat cheese like indie music in so much as it's best to like cheese that no one has ever heard of. If you are planning on hosting an event with white people, it's a good idea to head over to a gourmet store and visit its cheese section. Next all you have to do is take notes on what the cheese guy says and then repeat all of it at your party.

White people are absolutely crazy for Netflix because all of them are convinced that there is a global conspiracy to keep good, independent, groundbreaking films from mainstream distribution. Page 46 also tells us that to them, Netflix is a brand-new way for independent filmmakers to find an audience. By subscribing, white people believe that they are changing the film industry, supporting innovation, and contributing to a cultural revolution in film.

Let's move on to page 12 where we get to learn all about white people and their love for Asian girls lol. White men love Asian women so much that they will go to extremes like stating that Sandra Oh is sexy, teaching English in Asia, playing in a coed volleyball league, or attending institutions such as UBC or UCLA. Another factor that draws white guys to Asian women is that white women are jealous of them. When white guy and Asian girl marry, they produce hybrids that are aesthetically pleasing but annoying. This practice is also a means by which white people can catch up to the Asian peoples in the population race, as the hybrids often act white rather than Asian.

Last but not least, in this book we learn that white people love having black friends. This article starts on page 15 and is very funny and, to some, enlightening. The most important role that black friends can play in white culture is that they can be used as physical evidence that white people are not racist. Black friends can also be used to confirm that a white person is knowledgeable about African-American culture. Many white people are constantly trying to recognized as experts, and many consider it a life achievement to be befriended by a black person. Also note that all white people fantasize about being brought to an authentic "African-American" experience such as a Baptist church or a barbecue restaurant in a neighborhood that they are afraid of. Dating, marrying, and having a child with a black person is seen as one of the greatest things a white person can do. It delivers a lifetime of opportunities to get offended and feel superior to friends with white children.

As you can see from the first few paragraphs, there are so many traits in this book to cover but time is running away from me. I would loved to type about rock climbing, expensive sandwiches, and The Simpsons lol. However, if you are curious as to more of the information found in this book that I did not cover, please feel free to leave a comment.

Until next time!

~BB~

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Beauty Basics and Beyond: 101 Ways to Keep Your Hair and Skin Fabulous by Patricia Hinds

Well, ladies, it's that time of year when we start giving a little more attention to our hair and skin thanks to the winter winds and chilly temperatures. So I've decided to post this time about a book straight from the people of Essence magazine. It's chock full of tips for anytime of year. This week's book is less of a book really and more like a bible!


In this post, I'm just going to highlight a few main points to keep in mind having to do with hair, skin, face, and body. First, let's assess your tresses.

To keep your hair healthy and looking great, you have to know its strengths and weaknesses, what stresses it, and what it can and cannot do. You must know your texture and type. Do tests on your hair to determine its texture, type, porosity, and elasticity. This book has so many facts about hair I could possibly take up your whole night and all of tomorrow to tell you about it. It covers everything like relaxed hair, braids and weaves, locs, wigs, and natural hair. So I hope you just research it for yourself. Please leave a comment or send me a message if you are interested in hearing more about what it says about your specific hair type.

Next let's move on to the face. Some skin-enhancing vitamins to take are Vitamin A, B Complex, B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin, Nicotinic Acid, Niacinamide), B5 (Pantothenic Acid), B6 (Pyridoxine), B12 (Cyanocobalamin), C, and E. You also want to research biotin and the healthy effect it can have on your hair. Nine habits that stand in the way of you and great skin are touching your face, wearing oil-based makeup and moisturizers, sleeping with makeup on, using greasy pomades and oily hair sprays, drinking too little water, skipping the sunblock, stressing out (sometimes extremely hard not to do), not eating several servings of fruits and vegetables each day, and diagnosing and treating breakouts and rashes yourself. The next few tips found in this section give some wonderful at home ways to do facials and masks to further benefit your skin. By the way, did you know that the shelf life of foundation is 6-12 months? For powder, it's 8-12 months. For concealer, it's 4-8 months. For eye shadow, it's 3-12 months. For mascara, it's 3 months. For lipstick, it's 3 years.

Last but not least, the book talks about the body in general. This section is full of spa ideas, massage techniques, and hair removal tips. It also reminds us not to neglect our elbows, knees, and hands. Here are a few tips: 1. Condition with avocados. The oil easily penetrates the skin, making it an ideal ingredient for moisturizing body treatments. 2. Switch to soy. As an ingredient in skin care products, soy extract softens and smoothes skin, replenishes moisture, helps brighten dark spots and is a proven antioxidant. 3. Peel a pomegranate. The seeds are excellent for body buffing, and the fruit provides a mild astringent with antioxidant properties. 4. Get into grapes. Red, green, or purple as grapeseed extract in some products can fight free radicals and calm the skin. 5. Carrot, celery and beet juice cleanse the liver and intestines, which will help clear up the complexion.

That's all for now. Sorry that compared to my other posts, this one is extremely short. It was just that hard for me to pick out which points I could bring out without actually telling you the entire contents of the book! Lol! As always, if you would like to know more, just message me or leave me a comment. Until next week....

~BB~

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Girl, Make Your Money Grow! by Glinda Bridgforth and Gail Perry-Mason

Hey ladies and gents! Welcome back! I apologize for not posting last Thursday. If I had remembered that it was a national holiday, I would have given advance notice that I wouldn't be posting. :-( Anyway back to the books!



The book in the spotlight this week is a sequel, if you will, to the previous book. This time Ms. Bridgforth had some help from the VP of Financial Services at Oppenheimer & Co., Inc. to write it - Ms. Gail Perry-Mason. This time around I'm just going to bring out some main points from each chapter. Let's dig in, shall we?

Chapter One: Sisters Can't Afford Not to Invest
One fundamental truth to keep in mind is if you work hard for your money then you deserve to see it grow not go. Over time, investing allows you to stop working for your rent or mortgage, car payments, utility bills, etc. so that you can start working for yourself. (Italics theirs.) According to Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Captial Management, Inc., the best way to make your money grow is to adopt a long-term view of investing. You watch your money and you move it when necessary, but don't be overly concerned about a week's or a month's performance. Investing is not for the short term, so don't go into it thinking that you'll just take your money out after two years. Yet still remain aware of current economic conditions and how they affect certain industries. The sooner you start investing the better! Remember the Rule of 72: If your rate of return is 8% per year, then you divide 8 into 72, which equals 9. So in 9 years your investment of $1,000 would be worth $2,000 but only if you do not touch it.

Still, some people are reluctant to start investing because they worry about keeping an eye on their investments 24/7 and that they'll never learn how to read stock pages. But according to this book, once you get the hang of it, it's easy. To familiarize yourself with terms, try watching the news or reading USA Today. One way to speed up your investment education is to find an investment adviser. Another easy approach to educating yourself is by paying attention to the brands you buy when you go grocery shopping. Pay attention to which companies own which products. By buying from them, you are contributing to the share value their company. Why not invest so you can get a little of that money back?

Chapter Two: Clear the Debt and Clear the Deck - for Investing
First things first. You must check (and keep track of) your spending. I don't think this point can be stressed enough. No matter how well you plan to spend your paycheck, if you continue to increase your debt load, it's unlikely that you will make your money grow. Debt doesn't just mean credit cards either. Committing to anything that you can't afford puts you further in the hole. Glinda and Gail recommend another book entitled How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt and Live Prosperously by Jerrold Mundis. His book is based on the principles of Debtors Anonymous.

Chapter Three: Living on Fifth Avenue: Exciting Ways to Create Five Streams of Income
Take a look at the hobbies or things that you enjoy doing in your spare time. Is there a possible way that you can make some extra income by helping others to do the same? If not, there are a few other ways to generate some extra income:
1. Mystery Shoppers - While this is not recommended for compulsive shoppers or buyers, this gig is a fun way to make some extra money. Mystery shoppers work market research companies and make about $15 to $25 per shopping trip. Check out Athpower.com, Secretshopnet.com, and Bestmark.com to get you started.
2. Consignment Selling and Buying - If you have clothes that are in good shape but that you no longer wear, take them to a consignment shop! Be sure to check whether the store pays you in cash or with store credit.
3. Own a Diebold ATM or Vending Machine - Your main responsibility with this venture is to find the right location. Diebold offers several options for owning a machine so check them out at http://www.diebold.com/. Be sure to do your homework first! If you go the vending machine route, you will be responsible for resupplying it.
4. Giving Your Opinion - Becoming a participant in a focus group is another way to make money outside of your regular job. You may be paid as much as $75 per hour and up to $800 per day. Do a Web search for focus groups.

Chapter Four: Fire Up Your Imagination to Dream Again
You can use your talents, savings, and opportunities to move toward a larger purpose. By identifying your dreams and goals, you'll gain the motivation to continue transforming any damaging beliefs and spending patterns. Create your own personal Mission Statement. It can give you a renewed sense of clarity and purpose. Mission Statements help us to recognize our hearts' desires and then keep them in sight despite the day-to-day obligations we face.

Chapter Five: Insuring Yourself and Your Investments
This chapter basically covers various types of insurance and professional companies to help you make sense of it all. They cover health, life, homeowner's, renter's, mortgage, disability, and long-term care insurance.

Chapter Six: Don't Let Your Assets Retire Before You
In this chapter, Glinda and Gail list the things you can do at different stages in your life. In your twenties and mid-thirties, you can enroll in your company's retirement plan, open both regular and Roth IRA accounts, and DO NOT borrow from your 401(k). From your mid-thirties through forty-five, increase your contribution in your retirement plan, review your financial statements more often, balance your investments annually, and request a benefit printout from the Social Security Administration. From your mid-forties through sixty-two, do all of the above and remember not to take early distributions from your retirement plan before age 59 1/2. From sixty-two to eighty and beyond, get investment checkups annually, check your investment strategies for income for a larger percentage of your investments.

Chapter Seven: Owning Your Piece of the Rock
After reading just the first few parts of this chapter, I must say I'm ready to own a house! Lol. The emotional benefits of homeownership include increased indoor and outdoor living space, the comforting sense of privacy and stability, and personal security. Not long ago, African Americans owned more land per capita than any other American ethnic group. Too many of us spend disproportionately more on vehicles and material possessions than on real estate. I can't help but think of this fact when I see a Range Rover, Mercedes-Benz or similar cars regularly parked in an apartment complex's parking lot. There is nothing wrong with owning a vehicle that's worth $40k or more however if you are still paying rent to a landlord, you may want to reexamine your priorities. Four good economic reasons to purchase a home are tax deductions, budget stability, appreciation, and investment leverage. Of course, the book goes into further detail on each reason. But you'll have to read it to find out more. :-) She also talks about buying on a land contract, investing in income property (one thing I've considered before), inherited property, and other income property investment options.

Chapter Eight: Taking the Mystery Out of the Market
Look at products that you use regularly and ask yourself the following questions: Where do I shop? What do I buy? What makeup do I wear? Where do I bank? What kind of purse do I carry? Where do I go for vacation? What do I eat? What kind of car do I drive? What kind of gas do I use? What type of computer do I own? What types of entertainment do I like?
When you think about it with those questions, there are really tons of companies to invest in. Remember that by investing in a company, you are becoming a shareholder and therefore are a part owner (no matter how small) of that company. Research the stock symbols for the companies you are interested in investing in. After you purchase a stock, recheck the broker ratings and "insider" trading activity on a regular basis.

Chapter Nine: Investing in Stocks, Bonds, and Mutual Funds
This chapter helps you to understand in depth just what stocks, bond, and mutual funds are all about. There is soooo much information in this chapter that if I tried to simplify it or bring out major points, I would no doubt be leaving out much, much more that you would need to know. So, of course and as always, I thoroughly recommend reading this book.

Chapter Ten: What's Your Investment Style?
The last but certainly not least important chapter is on your investment style. Black women have long been known for their style and the unique ways in which they express it. You can have the same kind of attitude and confidence towards your investment style. The part I especially enjoyed reading (and would like to implement soon) is starting an investment club. There are 13 things to do in order to get your club on the right track: 1. Introduce the idea to someone you know. 2. Agree on a common investment philosophy. 3. Establish rules. 4. Vote on a monthly contribution amount. 5. Elect officers and adopt an investment club agreement. 6. Schedule a regular club meeting date and time. 7. Delegate responsibilities. 8. Promote education. 9. Allow for debate. 10. Invite professionals to some of your meetings. 11. Consider enrolling the club with the NAIC (National Association of Investors Corporation). 12. Place your club online. and 13. Hold a special club dinner to socialize.

When I think about those guidelines seem like a good fit for most productive clubs that anyone is thinking of starting! Tidbits to remember while building your portfolio are start with cash, fully fund your retirement plan at work first, and be clear on the amount of risk your comfortable with.

I think with the many, many helpful points brought out in this book, everyone (not just my African-American ladies but all ladies) can rest assured that making your money grow is not as hard as it may seem. It just takes a cup of determination, a tablespoon of research, and a gallon of discipline lol. This book is a must-have guide for any woman who wants to have power over her money.

~BB~

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Girl, Get Your Money Straight! by Glinda Bridgforth

This week I'm going to dig a little into the financial side of the world. I went back deep into my book arsenal (kept nice and neatly in my livingroom) and found this book by Ms. Bridgforth. As long as the world continues to use money, you can never read enough on keeping yourself out of the financial grave. This particular book was written by and is written for the sistas....however I think everyone can benefit :-) and so I'm let the healing begin!


As you can see from the front of the book, Glinda (love the way her name is spelled by the way) makes it simple to navigate through what may be a treacherous time for some women today. There are 7 easy steps to take in order to, as she says, heal your bank account and fund your dreams. First off, I'm sure you've heard that the first step to overcoming any problem is to acknowledge that there is a problem. In today's society, it is VERY hard to acknowledge that you might be having financial problems. Everyone is about getting and spending money. They breathe, sleep, eat, and poop thinking about how to get money and what they are going to spend it on next. Others brag about how much money they have to spend. You may feel the pressure to spend as well even if you don't have the money to do so. :-(

Therein lies the problem that makes it absolutely beneficial and necessary that you pay attention to the contents of Glinda's book. Let's dig in, shall we?

First things first, in order to succeed in any area of your life, you must be in the right mindset. If not, you ultimately will fail. Part one of this books makes you think deeply about the reason you are in trouble financially. She goes past the obvious reasons of peer pressure and talks about how your family history affects the way you see and handle money. I like how Glinda lets you in on all of the details of her life and how she has come from being financially burdened (and why) and how she has triumphed over such sore straits. To begin financial healing, it's important to let go of negative energy by forgiving yourself and anyone else for whom you might harbor feelings of blame. In her case, she and her ex-husband accumulated $50,000 in debt together and everyone knows you divorce people, not shared debt. There are three things to keep in mind while on the road to financial healing: 1. Be accepting of yourself and your present circumstances. 2. Be grateful for life's lessons. and 3. Be patient with yourself.

This is yet another book that I'm love to do death! I'm going to try really hard to keep this summary simple, to the point, and interesting because I want you to actually read the book. There is soooo much information in here that I could spend forever talking about.

You begin to see in Chapter 2 why this book is tailored to black women. The topics she elaborates on are how culture influences our emotional attitudes, the challenges of African-American history and heritage, contemporary workplace woes, shopping while black, the distorted mirror of American media, salving our wounds with money, "keeping" our men in more ways than one, and being obsessed with looking good though we are broke. All of those were sections worthy of more than just a summary. However, if you'd like me to elaborate more on a subject or two, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post. :-)

So, now that we are in the right mindset, let's move on to the 7 steps for financial health and healing. You sure you're ready?

1. Set goals that speak to your heart.
I think we all should know by now that in order for a person to really stick with anything, they must have a passion for it and a drive to do what needs to be done. Glinda addresses this directly. Think about your burning desire. It's not enough to say that you just want to save money or you just want to be debt free. Try and keep your goal visible throughout the day and formulate action steps to achieve it. You must be directed toward achieving balance in your life. Don't forget to create benchmarks in order to keep tabs on your progress. She also brings out examples of financial benchmarks for your twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, and sixties. Remember to establish a set of spiritual practices that put you in touch with your higher self. In other words, don't neglect God when trying to get your money straight. He's not going balance your checkbook for you of course lol but he can give you peace of mind on your financial journey.

2. Balance your checkbook and know your net worth.
In generations past, African Americans with limited education and resources feared the complexity of checking accounts and resorted early on to using money orders and paying cash. Other blacks may have had a checkbook in the past but become so frustrated with trying to maintain it properly that they gave up. Some blacks have had banks even give up on them! That sounds like a horrible background. That is why steps must be taken to get people educated and keep them educated (things change all the time in today's society) about money and their finances. One thing that Glinda says to always remember is you are not your net worth. What you make has nothing to do with how you live, love, help and communicate. Whatever you make now is only an assessment of your finances today. Not tomorrow, not forever. Keep in mind that some people with wealth and assets are very unhappy and unfulfilled. Some people have six-figure assets along with six-figure liabilities. These people actually have less net worth than a person with a $40,000 annual income!

3. Develop a spending plan.
I know, I know. It's easier said than done, right? I struggle with this all the time lol. But hey, we are all works in progress. Often black women are put off by budgets because we don't want any ceilings (no ceilings! lol) put on our spending. We tend to see a budget like someone telling us how to spend our money and we don't have time for that. The word budget almost always carries a negative connotation. So, that's why Ms. Bridgforth talks about developing a spending plan. A plan is always proactive and empowering. The purpose of creating one is to identify what we need for a quality of life that has a sense of balance and well-being. It's a blueprint to keep our financial house in order. In this book, Glinda shows an example of someone's actual spending plan and then encourages you to make one as well. In fact, she suggests that you make 3 spending plans: one identifying the least amount of money you can get by on during a month, one where you factor in an amortized amount in every category of spending, and one showing the ideal amount you would like to spend (without going too crazy) in each category.

4. Track and analyze your spending.
This is sort of self-explanatory. Glinda gives you some worksheets in this section in ordr to do just that. There are other tools you can use to record everything. These include calendars, organizers, palm pilots, receipts, envelopes, spiral notebooks, and checkbook registers. Make sure you get into the habit of asking for receipts everytime you spend money. Also, keep those receipts organized in envelopes to avoid clutter. One of the greatest benefits of tracking your spending over a long period of time is that you have a history to look back on. You may not realize exactly how much money you spend on food, for example, but with a tracking system you can make a conscious effort to make changes if needed.

5. Pay off debt with discipline - not deprivation.
Don't think of credit card limits as a balance to be drawn against but more like a loan that HAS to be repaid. Think of credit more like a liability than an asset. That should keep you out of the "spend now, worry later" mindset that so many (including myself) have fallen into. Credit is a necessary evil in the world today so it's best to use it to our advantage as a financial tool.  If you need to rebuild your credit, think about obtaining store or gasoline accounts, getting a secured credit card or taking out a secured personal loan to begin to get you back on the right track. Remember this is all after you've established firm goals as to why you want to get out of debt. DO NOT create any new, unnecessary debt. DO close extra charge accounts. DO use a debt or check card. DO NOT carry credit cards with you. DO NOT charge anything that will be gon eby the time the bill comes. I especially need to keep that in the forefront of my mind. DO NOT be seduced by special offers. For instance, airline miles are not worth it if you are paying finance charges each month because you carry over balances. DO shift debt to lower-interest-rate cards. DO communicate with creditors. DO make settlement offers to creditors. DO get support. We all need it.

6. Save consistently without being a miser.
Glinda points out that African Americans as a people are actually very familiar with the concept of savings. I know everyone has that one family member with a HUGE jar just full of coins lol. However, as author George Kraser said, knowledge is not power but acting on knowledge is power. So, how do you start saving money? Consider yourself a creditor. By thinking that way, you make sure that you pay yourself first. Also, sign up for payroll deduction with your employer. By having money automatically deducted before you see it, you are more likely to keep up with saving and you won't miss it too much. Be sure to set up an automatic transfer at the bank if you don't have your money deducted by your employer. Remember to save your spare change. Start a "serial savings" plan. I'm very familiar with this plan myself. I use to always save $5 bills that I had. Glinda suggests that everytime you break a large bill you check the serial numbers of the $1 bills. If one of them starts with your initial, save it. Deposit at least half of all gift money into savings. This is definitely something to keep in mind with the holidays coming up. Many receive gifts of money or get a bonus from their employer. It may be tempting but try to save that extra money! Last but not least, check your motives behind all of your spending. Assess if each purchase is for immediate gratification or long-term value.

7. Get the support and expert advice you need.
In the book The Dynamic Laws of Healing, Catherine Ponder writes: "If you have a problem, you have something to forgive. Anyone who experiences pain has a need to forgive. Anyone who finds himself in unpleasant circumstances has a need to forgive. Anyone who finds himself in debt has a need to forgive. Where there is suffering, unhappiness, lack, confusion or misery of any sort, there is a need to forgive....To forgive means to 'give for,' to 'replace' the ill feeling, to gain a sense of peace and harmony again. To forgive literally means to 'give up' that which you should not have held on to in the first place." It is very important to forgive others but it is MOST important to forgive ourselves. I think alot of people look over this fact.

Glinda ends her book with tips on how to build wealth and fund our dreams. She talks about how to create wealth through investments, investing for the long term, real estate, and entrepreneurship. Madam C. J. Walker (the first self-made female millionaire) once said, "I started out in the cotton fields. Then I was promoted to the washer tub. Then I was promoted to the cook kitchen. Then I promoted myself." We must promote ourselves to prosperity and wealth. Remember self-acceptance without judgment and criticism is essential.

Along with recanting her own personal financial journey, the book is filled with real life examples of women that Glinda has either helped or been inspired by. So, if you're tired of feeling powerless over your finances and are ready to start funding your dreams, come on girl! It's time to get your money straight!

~BB

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel...Part 2 (Chapters 8-14)

So we left off last time with the first 7 chapters of this great book I just finished reading the other weekend. What did you guys thing? Are you ready for more? Well, here are the main points again that I enjoyed:

Whatever choice you make, focus on where your passion truly lies.
If you like to write or have a knack for words, consider making a blog. Also, don't focus too much on what others have or have not done.

Be curious about everything, but ruthless in what you get involved with.
I would think that most people would automatically know this little tidbit of information. But I guess not. I'm sure you've all heard of someone investing money into a friend's business with huge promises of more than satisfactory returns only to wind up broke and downtrodden later. That's the scenario that came to mind first when I read about being ruthless with what you get involved with. This also goes well with something else Mitch mentioned in his book about the "long tail". The internet saves EVERYTHING you ever put on it. Be careful about what you decide to put up for all of the world to see. If you get involved with the wrong thing, it could come back to bite you in the arse some day.

Traffic does not equal community.
In order to really push things forward and grow you newfound media properties, it's important to stay focused on why you are doing this in the first place. Are you doing this to become Internet famous? Will you measure your success only by the revenue you've received from ads and the like? Well then good luck defining serious business goals and maintaining ongoing development later on down the line. Focus on building community and not traffic.

Never underestimate the power of what asking a good question can do to create content and to give you ongoing feedback.
Alot of people are afraid of asking questions because they are scared of not getting any responses. You'll be surprised to find out, however, that approximately only 2% of people online actually comment. So why bother you ask? Well, asking questions helps keep your content alive for a longer period of time. It will also lead you to do a lot more self-analysis of your industry and business. Asking questions is always one of the best ways to start a conversation.

Finding and defining your niche is not easy.
I've experienced this firsthand. I can name a million and one things I enjoy doing (reading is one of them obviously lol) but ask me if I've found my niche and eh I'd say I'm not quite there yet. But I was pleased to read in this book that the majority of people who have found and defined their niche well probably stumbled upon it rather than strategizing and plotting their success. That really makes you want to try out every idea that's ever just popped into your head while in the shower, working out, or while sleeping, doesn't it? Also remember that you don't have to be thinking leaps and bounds into the future. Another point brought out was many people struggle to uncover their niches because what they love to do is not directly linked to what they do professionally. However, alot of times, your unique hobbies do intersect with your business and can be adapted to help your business grow. In the book, Mitch states an example of such by writing about Scott Monty. You'll find his story interesting because he found a way to combine his marketing profession with his love of Sherlock Holmes O_o...yeaaaa I know but just read it lol. It's actually very thought provoking.

Always be experimenting.
The win is not in creating something that appeals to the masses. Your personal win will be in leveraging the power of a very specific and unique niche that you can serve, protect, and call your own. Remember to embrace your community as they become more and more passionate about your niche.

Burn the ships!
The "burn the ships" point comes from a true story. Hernando Cortez was the captain of 11 ships that were headed to Mexico. As you know, back then sailors and other men on the sea were oftentimes not in the best of shape because of being on the sea so long and because of lack of modern medication. Well the crew asked Cortez what the plan would be if things did not work out for them as planned when they reached thier destination. His response? He burned the ships. By doing this he showed that there was no going back. It was out with the old way and in with the new. So how do you burn your ships? Mitch tells you how!

People have a very intimate and personal link with their mobile devices.
Just about everyone I know can relate to this. I'm borderline nomophobia I believe lol because I feel absolutely lost if I leave my phone at home by accident and I know I will be gone for the majority of the day. Mostly everyone nowadays is a "digital nomad." This means that we no long have to be tied down to a landline or a desktop computer when we want information or to connect to other people. Dozens of places (even Krystal's and Taco Bell!) have wifi. With that being said, focus on mobile marketing but not mobile advertising. If it's done right by respecting the consumer and the relationship they have with their mobile device, the long-term outcome will be that you've managed to build a new and loyal database with huge growth potential.

The new rules of the new mobile movement:
1. New device = new rules. 2. Think in terms of tribes, not mass. 3. Mobile adds a new dimension to all messages - make it work for the person in control of the device. 4. If you try to port an old way of doing things in another channel to these channels, it will fail. BURN THE SHIPS. 5. Think about what we had before podcasts and start from there to build with success. 6. If you can port content from TV to computer to iPhone, think about the level of control the user has. 7. Start building a permission-based list of people who do want to be contacted via mobile. 8. Think about building a mobile app. 9. Offer compelling incentives. 10. Establish conversation.

Weren't those some awesome things to think about? Mitch leaves you with this thought in his book. "Six pixels of separation is not about how you can connect your business more efficiently in these online channels to be successful. It's too late for that. We are all intrinsically connected. In this world of interconnectedness, the bigger question is, How are you going to spread your story, connect, and add value to your life and the people whose lives you touch? How are you going to explore your network to grow your net worth? How are you going to add tremendous value to a brand, product, or service that can always be made cheaper and afaster by someone else? How are you going to connect and stay connected?" (Italics theirs.)

It looks like we all have alot more thinking to do. The tools are there before us and easily accessible. What are we going to do with it all? Will we have the determination, ambition, and passion to take advantage of what is there? What will you do? Please sound off below if you like. Did you find this information helpful in making you think more about what you can do for your business? I encourage each and every one to read this book in its entirety. You will not regret partaking of the knowledge that Mitch Joel has shared with each and every one of us.

~BB~