Saturday, November 28, 2015


This week's readings in my Introduction to Entrepreneurship class was all about the cost of owning a business.  What are your goals?  What are you willing to sacrifice and is it going to be worth it?  One of the things that I have really struggled with, in my life, is the balance between my ambition and my desire to be a good mother.  I have always wanted to be the best mother that I can be for my children and raise them in a home where they feel as though they are always the top priority.  Because of this, I have become heavily involved in the activities that they pursue and their interests always become my interests.  I have learned more about bugs, micro-organisms, basketball, ukelele, superheros, etc than I feel I would normally know if I didn't have children.  Learning about all of these things, along with my children, has made me a better person.  I can relate to my children when they are struggling with something, and encourage my children to push themselves when things get hard.  I can appreciate their recitals better and try to attend every sports event.
All of this takes time, though, and this time is taken away from my business pursuits.  As much as I love being a mother, I have also loved to create business ventures that help fulfill the desire that I have to make a mark on the world.  I have owned a piano studio and have taught hundreds of children piano.  I have owned a catering company.  I have been an Executive Assistant for Canada's largest dry cleaning company.  I have coordinated Canada's largest annual scrapbooking convention.  I have been on the Board of Directors for Calgary NorthWest Basketball and am now on the Board of Directors for the Noyes Fine Arts Foundation.  I have also accepted a position as the Executive Director for the Katy Children's Choir.
So, how do I balance all of this?  How do I find happiness in both my roles as a mother and as an entrepreneur?
In an address written for the "Ensign" magazine, President Thomas S. Monson stated that there is a 3 step formula for success.

1 - Fill your mind with truth
2 - Fill your life with service
3 - Fill your heart with love

I believe that as we follow this formula, we are given the ability to successfully balance our lives.  When I was participating in the Pathway Program, before I enrolled in BYU-Idaho online, I had to teach a lesson on time management.  This lesson had an object lesson as part of the lesson plan.  First I had a jar.  In this jar, I put large stones which symbolized everything that HAD to get done during the day.  These are things like getting dressed, eating, getting children to school, etc.  After I filled the jar, I asked the class if the jar was full.  It was.  However, I then took gravel and poured it into the jar.  The gravel filled in the spaces between the larger stones.  I told my class that this represented the things that should get done in an day.  These things are the things like spending time with children, talking on the phone with new clients, keeping in touch with a relative, etc.  I then asked the class if the jar was full.  They said that it was.  They were right.  I then grabbed some sand and poured it into the jar.  The sand completely filled the jar.  It took all of the air pockets out of the jar and the jar actually WAS full.  I told the class that this sand represented the things that the Lord wants us to do in the day.
Even though the jar seemed full with the stones, there was still room for more.  Once I added the gravel, there was still room for more.  It wasn't until I filled the jar with sand that the jar became completely full.  This object lesson showed the class that even when you think that you are "too busy" to do anything else, there is always time to do the Lord's errand.  I have always lived by the motto that if you always make sure that you do what the Lord wants you to do, He will give you the time necessary to complete everything else.  This, I believe, is the secret to President Monson's formula.  Do the Lord's errand and the rest will follow.  This is how I find balance in my life.  My children ALWAYS come first because it is what the Lord wants.  When the time is right, the doors open for my career and I am able to fulfill the desire that I have to leave a mark on the world.
I want my jar to be so full of sand that I can truly be the medium through which great things can be accomplished.
The world believes that the measure of success is wealth.  I believe that it is more than that.  I believe that money is a tool necessary to build success, but it is not the reward of success.  I believe that happiness is the reward of success.  In my class, I was asked what my attitude is toward money.  My attitude is that it is a great means to be able to create stability and security for your family and loved ones and a tool that can be used to change the lives of others.
My view on money can affect the way that I live because it affects the choices that I make when I am earning money.  Because I view money as a tool instead of a goal, the choices that I am making are geared more towards happiness instead of money.  For instance, I recently had the opportunity to make a career choice between two careers.  The first career opportunity that was placed before me was to become a real estate agent.  I loved this opportunity because real estate investment is my hobby and I love watching the real estate markets and knowing what is going on.  Real estate agents have the potential to make great amounts of money, which would allow my husband, myself and our children to live quite comfortably.  Unfortunately, this lifestyle would take me away from our family on the evenings and weekends when my children need me the most.  The other career opportunity that I had was to become the Executive Director for the Katy Children's Choir.  This career does not pay a lot of money, however, it allows me to be actively involved in what my children are doing, and it is a program that we can grow into an institution that has the potential to affect many children's lives.  If I saw money as the end goal, I would have chosen the first career, even though it would negatively impact my family.  Because I see money as a tool which can be used to better the lives of those around me, I chose the second career because I believe that I can use the tool of money to create a program that will be bigger than myself.
According to "Attitude on Money", the rules for prospering are as follows:
Rule 1. Seek the Lord and have hope in him
Rule 2. Keep the commandments, that includes the temporal ones, tithing and fast offerings.
Rule 3. Think about money and plan how you can become self-reliant.
Rule 4. Take advantage of chances for learning so you will not be ignorant of these matters. Education, as President Hinckley has taught us, is the Key to Opportunity.
Rule 5. Learn the laws upon which the blessings of wealth are predicated.
Rule 6. Do not send away the naked, the hungry, the thirsty or the sick or those who are held captive.
I love these rules because they perfectly align with how I believe money should be used.  I also see these rules as fitting in perfectly with the way that I view time.  I believe that as these grains of sand are added to my jar, the size of my jar is growing and I am better able to help my fellowmen and make this world a better place for my children.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

One Person Can Make a Difference

This week for my "Introduction to Entrepreneurship" class I had to write about an interview I did with an entrepreneur.  The person that I chose to write about was my old boss.  Before I moved to Texas, I had the privilege for working for someone that I truly admire as his Executive Assistant.  During my time working for this man, I was able to become mentored by him.  He taught me many things, including how to make sure that my priorities are in order.  I learned through him that if you make sure that you truly care about people, you can change lives.
Writing about my old boss helped me to reflect on the many lessons I learned from him while I worked for him.  My boss loved being an entrepreneur for many reasons, one of the biggest reasons that he loved it so much was because he knew that he was allowing people to support their own families.  My boss truly cared about each and every person who worked for him.  I watched as my boss would give money to our employees as he would find out that they needed it to pay bills.  I watched him purchase cars for employees who needed a way to get their children to school.  My favorite time was Christmas time because my boss and his wife would go around to every employee and personally deliver a Christmas card to them and tell each employee what they meant to them.  I had never known an employer to care so much about his employees.
My old boss truly wanted people to succeed in those things that they are good at.  He has taken teenagers who end up working for him for a long time, mentored them and then helped them to buy dry cleaning companies of their own.  Through all of this, even though there have been stressful times for my boss, I watched as he approached all of his life with this same attitude.  I watched as he taught me, by example, how to change people's lives.
Interviewing my old boss reminded me of an antidote that I once read about an old man who comes across a little boy on a beach full of beached starfish.  This old man watched as the little boy would pick up a starfish, one by one, and throw them into the ocean.  The old man asks the boy, "Why are you throwing these starfish back into the ocean?  You can't possibly save them all.  You aren't going to make a difference."  The boy then picks up a starfish, tosses it into the ocean and says, "I made all the difference in the world to that one."  My boss, has the same mentality of the boy.  He may not be changing the world through his dry cleaning business, but he is changing lives by truly caring about everyone he comes into contact with.
So, what did I learn from this experience?  I learned that I need to make sure that my motivations are pure and that I make sure that I treat everyone as though they are someone who is important.  I have learned that as I align my will to the will of God, that I will find happiness.  I believe that happiness is the greatest form of success.  My business ventures may not bring me large mountains of money, but if I can change lives, and if I can find happiness in what I am doing, I will have succeeded.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Great Leaders

From the time that I was young, I have had the ability to organize and to lead.  I believe that this character trait comes from my mother.  I grew up the oldest of five children and would often be called bossy (probably because I am), however I believe that by having that character flaw, I was actually developing a stronger character trait.  I was learning what it takes to be a leader.
Throughout my life I have often been tasked to lead and organize things and have often wondered why I was chosen to do these things?  I ended up becoming a part of a great community basketball organization by getting on the Board of Directors as the Executive Secretary.  I learned so many things from that experience that have helped me in my current endeavors.  I learned what it takes to be a leader.  I learned that sometimes when a leader is tasked with a big job, he breaks the job into smaller tasks and then finds the best people who specialize in those areas to carry out those jobs.  The role of a leader is to have a vision and to be able to rally others around that vision so that they not only work hard for the cause, but they WANT to work hard for the cause.
Fast Forward to today.  This past week I accepted the role as the Fundraising Chairperson on the Board of Directors for the Noyse (pronounced "noise") Fine Arts Foundation.  Which is a non-profit organization whose main directive is to use local talent to enrich the community through the fine arts.  Right now our focus is on building a beautiful community theatre that will be the home of the Noyse Fine Arts Foundation and we have everything in place, except that we need to raise $600,000.  My role on the Board of Directors, as Fundraising Chairperson, is to lead the fundraising initiatives that we have come up with.  Because I have had experience in fundraising and experience in creating a Board of Directors, I have had to take on a leadership role in this.  I didn't mind taking on this role, in fact it felt really natural, but I just can't get over the fact that the theme of this week's lesson in my Introduction to Entrepreneurship class is Disciple Leadership.  I mean REALLY!  I know that the Lord's hand has been guiding me to this project, however I am constantly amazed by how well He knows exactly what I need to hear and when I need to hear it.
The Action Foundation for Entrepreneurial Excellence wrote an article called, "A Letter to Garcia, will you deliver it" which is so incredibly perfect for my current situation that I pretty much ended up simply saving the article on my computer so that I can reference it in the future.  In it, it states, "The ability to execute is more valuable than education or talent, because it is far rarer."  (Insert mind explosion here.) YES!  This is so true!  Right now, I have had copious amounts of meetings to completely change the current Board of Directors for the Noyse Fine Arts Foundation because there were too many members of the board who were too inactive and with our current Katy Grand Theatre fundraising project, we just needed more active people on this board.  The amazing thing has been that as we have really become stuck when it comes to finding the perfect person to fill each position on our Board of Directors, the Lord seems to place the perfect person right in front of us.  It has been awe-inspiring and a most humbling experience.
My favorite part about the article from The Action Foundation for Entrepreneurial Excellence is when it explicitly explains HOW to become a leader.  I want to share it with all of you because I feel like this has finally happened for me, at 36 years old.

1 - Begin to see your life as a "calling" toward a Hero's Journey.
          When I started this course, I had no idea what I wanted to do as an entrepreneur.  I have done many things in my life and tried many things but I didn't yet have a "calling".  A couple of weeks ago, I got that calling and I have been rejuvinated in my actions and in my goals.  I love that I get to use my love of music and my love of business to help create something that will be bigger than myself.

2 - Develop your gifts and talents into a decipline.
          Do you now see why I believe that this lesson has come at this most opportune time?  The Lord really knows me, I believe that without a doubt.

3 - Find a "deep burning need" you care about.
          I have always been passionate about the arts, and music especially.  Moving from Calgary where the culture is very much orientated around the Fine Arts to Texas where the culture is very much orientated around sports and more specifically, football has been an adjustment for me.  The neat thing about Katy, TX is that most of the people in this suburb of Houston come from other parts of the country and even the world.  It is mostly families that settle here and it is growing at an enormous rate.  Because of this, there is a huge demand for the arts here and simply nothing that fills that demand.  I am so excited to be part of something that can leave a legacy for my children and grand-children.

4 - Surround yourself with good people and worthy role models.
          I have been so blessed to have been surrounded by many incredible role models.  I have been mentored by small business owners who are incredible examples of visionary leaders.  I have been raised by a mother who has successfully created 2 businesses and who has always been an example of how to balance being a mother with being successful in her career.  My father is the smartest man I know and has mentored me about finances and investments and how to make money work for you.  My Grandfather has been an incredible friend and resource when it comes to business as he helped develop the engineering program at the University of Calgary and then went on to create an engineering consulting firm which was bought out by a large engineering company several years ago.  I am currently surrounded by people of high caliber who constantly strive to become better each day and who are always reaching out to help those around them.  Thus, I have been able to learn many lessons from each of these people which is what I am drawing on at this moment in time as this opportunity has opened up to me.

My moment has arrived.  The years of learning and growing have been leading up to this.  The lessons that I am learning in my classes are helping me to become a part of something that is bigger than myself and will leave a legacy for my children long after I have left this earth.  I cannot help but be humbled at the incredible timeliness of this lesson and I hope that, one day, I can look back on this time and understand just how big the impact of this lesson truly has on my life.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Just Keep Swimming

I am late in writing this post because last week was such a difficult week.  Having so many things happen in our household without having Otto here has made it difficult for me to get everything done that needs to be done.  When times like these happen, my motto that I repeat in my mind (which comes from the movie, "Finding Nemo") helps me to continue along, even though I feel as though I can't go on.  What's this inspirational motto?

"Just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming."

It may not be profound, but it does the trick.

I think that it was no coincidence that this week in my Introduction to Entrepreneurship class the reading materials focused on not giving up.  This message couldn't have been more timely.  As I write this post at the end of a long day of balancing school work (of which I am still catching up on), my children, my new job, my calling and my volunteer positions I couldn't feel more humbled nor more grateful for this sweet, timely message.  I truly needed it.
In one of his devotionals to the students at BYU-Idaho, Elder Holland said, "I am asking you this morning not to give up “for ye are laying the foundation of a great work.” That “great work” is you—your life, your future, the very fulfillment of your dreams. That “great work” is what, with effort and patience and God’s help, you can become. When days are difficult or problems seem unending, I plead with you to stay in the harness and keep pulling. You are entitled to “eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days,” but it will require your heart and a willing mind. It will require that you stay at your post and keep trying."  Today I just felt like giving up.  I pushed through it, but I really felt as though the road was endless.  I have been feeling as though the days are endless and the weeks are endless and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.  
But, I know that there is, in fact, a light at the end of the tunnel.  This is why I keep swimming.  Elder Holland also stated, "As you wage such personal wars, obviously part of the strength to “hang in there” comes from some glimpse, however faint and fleeting, of what the victory can be."  There will be an end to all of my trials.  I know that Otto will come home on Thursday.  I know that my children will eventually feel better.  I know that the new position that I have taken as Executive Director for the Katy Children's choir will help change the lives of the children in the community.  I also know that my new position as the Fundraising Chairperson for the Noyse Fine Arts Foundation with the goal to raise the funds necessary for the down payment for a Community Theatre in Katy will leave a lasting legacy in the community that will benefit, not only my children and the children in the city today, but future generations.  Things will get easier.  I am engaged in the things that my Heavenly Father wants me to be doing.
I know where I am going.  I have a goal.  I have taken the steps necessary to achieve that goal and I have received personal confirmation from the Lord that His hand has been in these major decisions that I have recently made.  I know that this is the reason that we were supposed to move to Texas from Canada and why Otto was transferred here.  I know that this is why I have taken the steps that I have taken, in my life.  Becoming Executive Director of the Katy Children's Choir is the perfect culmination of my love of music (especially children's choirs) and my love of business.
I know that things are going to be tough sometimes, just like they have these past couple of weeks.  I am excited about what is to come and the impact that it will have on my community.  I know that I will have many more days where I will just have to put my head down and "Just keep swimming" in order to make it to the next day.  I am willing to do this.  I am willing to sacrifice and make sure that I fulfill this goal at the end of the path that I have been placed on.  I know that the future of my community depends on how well I am able to achieve my goals.  I am up for the challenge and am recharged and ready to fight the good fight.

I can do this.

I will keep swimming.