What you can learn from the cells in your body

“Plant both feet firmly in the ether.”
Bruce Lipton, The Biology of Belief

I just finished Bruce Lipton’s book, The Biology of Belief. Here’s the premise. We’re made up of over 37 trillion cells that work together in amazing ways. If we can do that as cells, can we also do that as individuals and as a society?

What’s cool about cells is that they each have a built-in road map (DNA), but DNA is triggered by the environment the cell lives in; DNA by itself can’t take action. In a healthy environment, a cell thrives. In a toxic environment, a cell dies. In between, proteins that coat the DNA open up to expose some DNA traits and hide others.

If you want to avoid catastrophic illness, you give yourself the best shot at health by eating well, watching your weight, exercising, meditating, and being happy. Healthy living isn’t a guarantee you won’t have to deal with illness, but it gives you the best shot at keeping those cellular proteins wrapped tightly around potential DNA triggers.

I have two big take-aways on this. Continue reading

Business advice from a successful Brewing Entrepreneur

Last week, I facilitated a meeting of a new Entrepreneur’s Group here in Cape Elizabeth. Our guest was Peter Bissell from Bissell Brothers Brewing. If you don’t know anything about the business of brewing, it is thriving! Here in Maine, we have over 130 breweries and that count is growing by the month. If you love beer, Maine is a great place to live and to visit.

But what could we learn from this young entrepreneur? A ton! Here are my notes.

Peter graduated in the UMaine class of 2006 where he got great grades but didn’t learn much. He worked as a professional photographer out of college (“I’ve always been a worker,” he says), but didn’t learn about photography in school – that was all on his own. At the start, he took any job that came his way (Say “Yes!”). He learned the photo business by doing it on the fly – and by talking to people. Weddings were particularly lucrative because each wedding led to more gigs. He did great work and he made connections.

He liked photography and was financially successful, but when Peter’s younger brother Noah starting brewing at age 17 and decided he wanted to do this for a living, Peter jumped in on the game. From the start, they ignored conventional advice and made decisions based more on gut than on number crunching. And where others went to England to learn about brewing, they stayed home and experimented with new recipes to make a unique tasting American beer.

  • Their goal was to “change the landscape of brewing and serving.”
  • They wanted much more than just survival in this growing market.
  • They wanted to make going to a brewery a new experience. Which they do! Folks like up around the block to be the first to try new beers. They serve beer. They serve food. They create joy.

The Brewery is wildly successful, and after only six years they are rolling out overseas with a restaurant brand. Their name is recognized globally thanks to the Internet. And they opened a second brewery in their hometown of Milo, Maine, a former mill town. How cool is that!

When you’re trying to do something new, it’s always nice to chat with someone on the same path. Here are my big takeaways from Peter’s hard-won experience that you can apply to almost anything you’re working on.

  • If you want to make $ you need exposure; get it however you can get it.
  • Anything worthwhile requires taking a risk because you are opening yourself up to judgment by others.
  • Peter has the highest regard for flexibility – be ready to shift with the times.
  • If you have a passion for what you do, no one can take that away from you. It’s a tool.
  • It’s more important to do a great job than it is to advertise.
  • Stay focused: Pay attention to what works and what doesn’t work.
  • Launching a new business takes sacrifice of hours and money; cut all expenses to put every penny toward the new business.
  • “You can learn about anything if you give it the time.”
  • Each step you take moves you one step away from your competition – even if it’s just a baby step.
  • Find a hole in the industry you’re interested in and fill it. Also, look at the marketplace to see what you DON’T want to do.
  • A great product needs great packaging.
  • Learn something every day or you’ll lose your spot. “The competitor is you – it’s you against yourself.”
  • Read all the time; don’t stop and start to coast. Make a habit of being a life-long learner.
  • Make it your goal to constantly top your customers’ expectations.
  • You have to find joy in what you do to balance out the drudgery of running a business.
  • Learn about how to use Social Media. It’s worse to do it badly than to not do it at all. Take good photos – not stock; not pixellated. Use your phone to take shots on a consistent basis. Find the stories; take and post the pictures. Peter does this up to 3x a day!
  • Create a logo that stands on its own as an icon, that’s unique, that makes people curious, and that’s clean and easy to re-produce for media and t-shirts.
  • “Luck is being open to serendipity.”
  • “Don’t listen to what everyone tells you to do.” Keep your head down and stay focused.
  • “When you hit it right, it’s like you have superpowers.”

Here are a few of Peter’s book recommendations

  • Robert Greene, 48 Laws of Power and Mastery (how the world works)
  • Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In (women in business)
  • Any and every book by Seth Godin (Purple Cow, This is Marketing; there are many!)
  • Oren Klaff, Pitch Anything (on fundraising – Peter raised $186,000 in 4 months)
  • Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle is the Way and Ego is the Enemy

I hope you find this as inspiring as I did! Now off to find your superpowers 🙂

I’ll leave you this morning with a shot from the old farm where I live. Come on, Spring!

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Which organizational method works best?

A friend of mine at last night’s Artist’s Way gathering said she was having trouble getting organized and asked for some advice. You know my ears perked up at that. She pulled a few examples out of her bag of various spreadsheet attempts. All had different sortations looking at a mix of times, days, and tasks. She said nothing was working.

And here’s the thing: She’s retired and has a problem many folks face. When you have too much time and lots of stuff you want to do but don’t have to do it’s hard to get motivated and it’s hard to stick to a task that has no deadline.

Here’s the advice I shared. Continue reading

What happens when you break a habit?

I’m reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron with a smart and heart-warming group. The book is a platform to make you think. And the group is a platform for great discussions! It’s a cool combo.

Last week, one of the “tasks” in Chapter 5 was to not read for the week. Cameron believes that most writers stall on writing by reading. We have rebelled as a group against many of the tasks Cameron prescribes, but this one took the cake. To most of us, the very concept of not reading was repellant. And for a whole week? No way! Besides, I am working on a class at Boston University and I had to finish the reading for that. And I had a library book, nearly done, that was due back. So of course, I finished that.

But then I paused. Could I take a hot bath without reading? Could I go to bed without reading? Could I eat breakfast without a book open in front of me? I took on the challenge and here’s what happened. Continue reading

The gift of time

I drove my daughter to NYC this weekend and helped her move into a new apartment in Harlem. The time I had with Bea got me thinking about the gift of time. Most of us don’t know how much time we have here on earth so it’s easy to waste it. It seems like we have an unlimited amount of time so why worry about it? Continue reading

Walking the Artist’s Path

I met last night with a group of 11 women to start working our way through the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I read this book about 20 years ago with a couple of friends. Reading it got me back into the theater – first teaching it to kids. That lead to getting back on stage. Then I started writing for the theater, and now I’m writing, directing, and running a theater group. All good. All high energy!

What I like about The Artist’s Way is that it assumes that creativity is part of everyone’s nature but that it can get lost in the day-to-day shuffle of life. The book has fun, simple exercises that help you remember who you are and get you back to practicing “the art of creative living.” Continue reading

5 steps to complete any project

The number one question I get when I give talks on organization is about finishing projects. This might be something big like writing a book. It could be losing weight or starting an exercise program. Or it could be a nuisance task – like clearing boxes out of the basement or cleaning out a closet.

No matter what you’re working on, here are five steps to help you complete a project. Continue reading