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Chasing Beauty: The Balancing Act of Being Healthy and Fit

29 Aug

I am the first one to post quotes on Facebook like: Never Give Up, You Only Achieve What You Think You Can Achieve, and Get Fit-Yes You Can.  I take pride is pushing myself in every realm of my life in an effort to achieve the goals I’ve set and help others.  With that though, I often also experience the “it’s never enough” feeling. I know there must be many people out there that feel these same feelings.  You set a goal, work hard, achieve it, and then immediately begin to compare yourself to those around you who are one step farther.  You pay little mind to the external factors that determine why, you just think you need to do more.

This feeling, at least for me, is often illustrated in the realm of fitness and body image.  I think back seven years ago to my initial goals of losing weight and feeling healthier.  A size 14 at the time, my dream was the buy a sleeveless dress and feels good wearing it.  I wanted to wear a bikini at the beach and feel comfortable.  Slowly over time I dedicated myself to the goal and got there.  I was temporarily happy, yet quickly set a new goal.  I can be leaner, maybe a size 6 would be nice, maybe I ought to be a little more toned in my upper body and that will be perfect.  So I worked at that, got there, and then revised again.  Some of my revisions had a lot to do with career goals I was chasing and other’s opinions of me.  I let that guide me to some degree.  I am acutely aware of the societal pressure that exists to look a certain way to be accepted.  I know the stigmas attached to beauty.  Working in the modeling world, I certainly feel a tremendous amount of pressure in this sense.  Sometimes I get so confused I am not even sure what the ideal is anymore.  When this happens I go right back to this: The ideal is feeling healthy and being balanced.  I can’t say I think that’s always the ideal in other’s minds, but for me it is.  I’d go crazy trying to achieve an unobtainable goal if it wasn’t.

As I work to take the next step in my career, I’m strongly dedicated to improvement but firmly committed to balance.  Having been at every spectrum of the health, weight and image scale I know exactly where I am happiest.  I know that there will always be things about my physique and my looks that are not my favorites.  I often look at the girl next to me and think “she’s got it all” when in reality there are things she struggles with as well.  We each have a unique beauty about us, it’s most noticeable when we strive for health, when we chase the goal and not the image and when we accept that there are things about us, no matter how hard we try to change them, that just are. Beauty is most obvious to me in people who smile, who are self-confident and who are grounded.  I’ve noticed I find those qualities to be the most attractive part of a person both physically and spiritually and that’s the goal I want to chase.  I certainly want to be an athlete, healthy, fit and strong, but I don’t want to kill myself trying to change the smallest of things, to achieve a goal that really will not matter much as soon as I check it off the list.

At the end of the day, I remind myself to define my health and fitness journey by how I feel, not by how others think I look.  I know where I need to be.  It’s a place where I am physically, mentally and spiritually balanced.  I am not starving, I am respecting my body, and I am pushing my physical capabilities at a reasonable level.  Wherever that takes me is where I’ll go and I’ll be content there.

Almost Failing as a Talent: The Highs and Lows of My Journey Into the Industry

6 Aug

It struck me that lately a lot of people have asked what prompted my decision to pursue a career in the modeling, writing and styling industries.  I thought I’d share in a blog for anyone interested.  I hope that some of my journey helps to inspire those interested in similar pursuits and offer usable tips.

It was about a year and a half ago when on a whim I replied to a post from the Editor of a local magazine about being featured in the About Me section, a small feature that shared highlights of someone in the community discussing fashion, hobbies and interests.  I didn’t really figure I’d hear back but I figured I had nothing to lose.  I was surprised when she emailed me back quickly and said absolutely, we’d love to use you.  I was really excited actually.  How fun!  The photographer assigned to shoot me was James Patrick (www.JamesPatrick.com ), ironically because he doesn’t really shoot that feature much.  I’m very superstitious and believe people come in to your life for a reason, keep that in mind as you read on.

James showed up to shoot me a few weeks later and we got to talking.  We have a lot in common and I was impressed by his enthusiasm for his art.  It was such a fun shoot. I remember I kept saying “you can photo-shop this right?”  Funny, I know now he prefers not to over photo- shop things.  He tends to see the beauty in realness, something I’ve come to appreciate.

The feature appeared in So Scottsdale’s (www.SoScottsdale.com) January 2011 issue.  James Patrick and I became fast friends and he spent a handful of months convincing me I should shoot some portfolio images with him.  I thought the idea was pretty ridiculous at first (fear!).  Finally I decided what the heck, it will be fun and booked him.  While shooting with him he mentioned he’d had some challenges with a location scheduled for that weekend in Tucson.  Remember, we’d become friends so I said “I can help with that,” and I did.  A friend of mine had the perfect house  and she was gracious enough to allow me to use it.  As such, I joined James alongside his assistant Jason Black (www.portfolioblack.com ) for that shoot and helped  on-set.  That shoot happened to be the cover shoot for Max Sports & Fitness Magazine (www.MaxSportsandFitness.com ) with Alex LaChance and Matt Christianer (www.MattChristianer.com).

During the shoot I did what I was told and tried to not get in the way too much but I remember being so excited to be there and just captivated watching the models.  Alex was the sweetest person.  If I remember correctly this was her first cover shoot.  In true Kim style (www.KimMillerStyle.com) I couldn’t help but jump in a few times… use my earrings, try this on, can I fix your hair?  Then I’d realize what I was doing and back-up.   Everyone seemed to appreciate it though, including James, so it worked.

I loved being there so much and wanted to learn that I offered to help James with anything and everything he needed for free.  (NOTE –  for free).  I figured there was something I could offer him of value, and I wanted to learn from him and the models with whom he worked.  He took me up on it.  I’m pretty good at logistics so I started booking locations for him and helping on set.  Having worked in fashion for 6 years prior styling came pretty naturally.  Fitness models on the whole seem to really appreciate styling assistance.  They are often self-admittedly not fashionable so many allowed me to help.

Having shot for a magazine, portfolio in hand, and some experience watching models on set I was seriously beginning to consider what I could do in the industry. Three of my friends sent me a casting call for City Center of City North.  City North is a commercial and residential development (http://citycenterofcitynorth.com )   They were holding an open call to cast a handful of people to model for all their venues.  “You should absolutely go,” my friend told me.  No way, I thought, I won’t get picked.  “This is so you,” she said. ” You dine, shop and frequent these places.  They want REAL people.”  I finally caved and decided to go.  I was pretty nervous when I showed up. Here’s the dialogue that played out in my head.

 “Let go of your fear Kim, Just do this.”

“You really don’t have any right to be here.” 

“Stop, that’s negative talk. You’re gonna get this if you believe you can.”

“I know some people are probably laughing at me for doing this.” 

“That’s not true, that’s in your head.”

……and on and on it went.

I was so well prepared and the audition lasted 5 minutes.   Geez, not a lot of time to impress, I thought, but a week later I got the call.  “You got the gig”.  I was at work at Divalicious (www.shopDivalicious.com) at the time.  Terri Coakley gave me a big hug.  She was the first person I shared the news with.

One of the shot used by City North in their marketing campaign.

The City North experience was incredible and it was there that I had a chance to talk to photographer Elvis Castillo (www.elvis-castillo.com ) who gave me some great advice.  “Kim, you really ought to start a fan page on facebook and a website.”  I laughed out loud…seriously!  It’s funny looking back because I thought the idea was so ridiculous at the time.  I now understand what he meant.  My facebook page, Kim Miller Style (www.facebook.com/KimMillerStyle) and my personal profile at Kimberly Kay Miller, to some degree, is meant to be a forum to offer information, share my work, share the work of others and inspire people along their own journey.  It’s not all “look at me”.  At least I really hope it’s not anyway.  I didn’t get that at the time.  Live and learn.  He gave me a ton of good modeling advice.  I was very grateful.So now I had some real modeling work under my belt, still helping James for free, and really focusing on fitness, my true love.  I have a personal transformation story having lost 50 pounds and in working with James I’d met a lot of physique competitors.  I decided on two things. I’d compete and I’d blog (www.themodernme.wordpress.com ).  I love to write but the idea of blogging was scary at first to me.  People will think I’m weird.  Who blogs?  The more I thought about it though I figured maybe there were just a few people that would benefit from hearing my story.  If I can lose the weight, find strategies and make it work, anyone can.  So that was my lead story.  I jumped in and started blogging, and haven’t stopped since!

Along the lines of competing…I started researching coaches and decided on Scott Keppel (http://www.scottstrainingsystems.com ).  I’ve worked with Scott’s Training Systems (STS) for a year now and couldn’t be happier.  Scott has a “real-life” approach to coaching, which I love.  It’s never win at all costs.  This worked for me, as I am a strong proponent of balance.  Working with Scott took my fitness to the next level, and although my bikini competitions were my first and probably last, they were one of the best things I’ve done to understand who I am and what I represent.  I was never there for a trophy; I was there for their journey.

So, here’s where we are at.  I’m still working for James (for free), meeting models, improving upon my logistics and styling skills, building a portfolio, blogging & focusing on fitness.  I hear about Fitness & Sports Network’s conference (www.fmievents.com) from a number of people and decide to go.  I feel a bit unqualified to be attending because at this point I don’t completely know what I’m getting in to (release fear!) but I register anyway.  I remember asking James, should I have business cards?  What should I write on them as a title?  “What do you think you should have as a title,” he says. (So James if you know him).  “Uhhhh…I don’t know.  Can’t you please just tell me,” I respond.  We end up talking at length about this and I finally decide on commercial and fitness talent and here’s why. I see myself as much more than a model.  I really love to write, share information, motivate others to live healthy and embrace fitness, help people become more fashionable, etc.  I also aim to not be limited to work in the fitness industry, so this title seems to work.  It’s broader than model in my mind and seems to suit me better.

I show up at FMI, it’s October 2011.  I’m near competition and I look super fit but I’m run down and in a serious phase of self-discovery.  To be perfectly honest I was completely overwhelmed at FMI.  During the conference I broke down crying with James Patrick and Jason Black (my dear friends at that point) and confided in Shannon Jay Doughtery (www.shannonjaydougherty.com ), who’d also become a good friend and motivator for me.  All three of them helped me pull it together.  I just kept thinking, ohh my gosh, I’m going to completely fail if I don’t book some really big job or end up on a magazine cover.  It honestly took me a while a sort through all the information I learned at FMI, and a while to make sense of it.  The challenge of that conference is that you leave fairly overwhelmed with information, and if you are like me you want to live up to expectations. I’m not a real “get out there and market the hell out of yourself” kind of girl and leaving the conference I felt a bit like I failed.  I didn’t work hard enough.  I felt unlike myself there because I was overwhelmed.  One of the few things I remember clearly from this conference is sitting listening to Fitness Model and Talent Danielle Pacente (www.daniellepascente.com) talk about her entry into the industry.  She shared her expereinces and it struck me when she said, “I knew I wanted a career doing this, so there was no maybe for me,  it was happening.”  That kind of attitiude is contagious so I figured, we’ll if she was brave enough to do some of the things she did I can certainly at least try.  The conference was one of the best things I’ve done for my career, it just took me a while to figure it out.  The people I met at FMI have been some of the greatest supporters I could ever ask for and the information presented has been extremely valuable.  I believe people never succeed in isolation, only in groups, so this was an integral part of my career development, not to mention it earned me some life-long friends.

Returning from FMI, I began to work on pitching stories and writing.  A friend of mine, Gretchen Goodell, happen to send one of my blogs (fate) to the AZ Republic Newspaper with a note that said, ‘I love her articles, maybe you can use her for something.”  Just days later I had an interview with the newspaper who eventually agreed to use me as a featured fitness blogger (www.azcvoices.com).  Woohoo!  I’d been working hard on my blog and gaining followers and this was the next step.  A goal of mine when I first has ideas about writing had been to work with them so I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity.  As a side note, my blogging for the Republic later resulted in being published in AZ Magazine (www.azcentral.com/style/azmag/ ).  Being published in AZ Magazine resulted in many people connecting with me for tips, training, jobs and just to say that they were inspired by something I wrote.  I’ll take it.  My primary goal is and will continue to be to change lives for the better and help inspire healthy living, balance and confidence, so while these small things don’t get a lot of public recognition, I consider them the most valuable thing I do.

Pitching, pitching, pitching…images, article, images, articles, and often both.  This sponsorship, that opportunity, this ambassadorship, that contest.  Everything that suited me I looked into.  The thing about it, if you follow me on facebook you see some of the highlights of the things I’ve done and been successful at.  What you don’t see is that for every one thing I land I’ve probably been told no nine other times.  My success rate is probably about 10-15%.  It’s a small margin but I’ll take it because I love the things I work on.  So, don’t be disappointed when you send in a few things and get a no, or better yet get no response.  Just keep plugging. Jeremy Scott (www.JeremyScottFitness.com ) once shared with me that he never gives up.  He just puts his head down and keeps working.  Eventually when its’ right it will happen.  That advice and knowing the success he’s achieved has gone a long way toward helping me realize you have to put a whole lot out there and get comfortable with hearing no to make progress.

As luck would have it a friend of mine, Chris Lynn (www.chrislynnemodel.com) saw my styling potential and hired me to style her for upcoming photo shoots.  If memory serves, she was my first paying styling client.  She later landed on the cover of Scottsdale Health Magazine and allowed me to style her for that feature.  So grateful.  She’s a talented model and has become a great friend.   That cover caught the attention of Arizona Model and Actor Management Owner Gail McCauley (www.azmodelandactormanagement.com ), who contacted me shortly after to introduce herself.  A handful of conversations later, I met with her to discuss my career goals.  She saw my potential and offered to sign me and I took it.  Here’s why.  Gail’s been in the industry for a long time and a handful of years ago had a vision and decided to create her own agency.  There are some really big agencies in town, but AMAM suits me.  Gail provides her talent with personalized attention and actively seeks out opportunities.  She looks for not only talent but personality.  As such, our agency is filled with folks who love what they do, support each other, are grateful and give 110%.  I feel lucky everyday to be part of this great team and AMAM has built a strong reputation in the fitness community, which is fabulous because so much of what I like to do falls within this realm.

Ohh my gosh, I’m signed with an agency!  I’m honestly so excited at this point and this helped me tremendously because with Gail’s representation I start booking more jobs.  Commercial and fitness work, print ads, web videos, runway shows, brand ambassadorships.  I definitely believe that if you want to succeed in the modeling industry you should find the right agent and work to become signed.  It helps to have someone acting on your behalf who has your best interest in mind.

I’m still pitching and I’m lucky enough to get some yeses.  Pressure’s on now.  The playing field changes when you are getting paid.  I’m writing on things like running, and parenting and nutrition and mental fitness.  Trying to stick with things that fit my brand.  I write on things I love and I am excited to be published.  I always worry with every great thing that it will be the last.  I’ve learned to do everything I can though to not think that way and just keep saying “yes I can.”  The yes I can attitude is the best indication of whether you will succeed.  Convince yourself of it!

To wrap this article we come back to James Patrick. It took me 6 months of free work and I loved every minute of it!  Finally, James says you are hired.  I don’t want you going anywhere Kim.  I adore working for him because he inspires me both personally and professionally and the models we work with are truly the most amazing people.  Of all the things I do, I probably love this the most.  There is not better feeling then helping someone look and feel amazing on camera.  Working with James has helped me realize that GOOD photographers can take experienced models and create fabulous images but  GREAT photographers can take a novice, inspire confidence, help them open up and show their true personality on camera and create amazing images.  There is a big difference there!  So, sorry to say, but if you are a photographer that complains all the time about shooting models who hire you who are not experienced enough… the “I’m so great that you should bow down to me attitude”, then you are really missing out.  Some of the most talented and and accomplished models I know started their career because a photographer believed in them enough to say “you can do this” and helped coach in a way that inspired them and allowed them to learn.

A lot of great projects came my way I haven’t mentioned in this post.  It’s getting awfully long so I’m not going to go into it, except to say you can also check TheProExposure at www.theproexposure.com, a podcast I co-produce in an effort to help those  looking to succeed in the industry learn from those who have been successful.  There we interview models, photographers, editors and other folks who have great insights and believe in helping others.  The ProExposure is soon expanding to include video clips, blogs, articles and many other user-friendly resources.

If you only read one paragraph I hope it’s the one below.  The important themes I hope you picked up on are:

Release Fear: 

Everything I do requires an element of letting go of fear.  I’m not a risk-taker and all the things I pursue involve an element of risk.  I might not make it, I might not succeed, I might be told I flat out suck.  I have to actively remember to let this go.  It’s the only way I’ve succed at anything.  You have to remember this as well.  Set aside your doubt.  If people don’t see your potential, they are not worth worrying about.  Follow your passion.  Believe you can do it!

Just be You:

People in the areas I dabble in get it.  They understand blogging, they understand fan pages, they get why I read marketing and motivational books, they appreciate the challenge of fitness pursuits; they know what it’s like to pitch articles and get rejected.  People not in that world don’t always get it or why anyone would do it.  I’ve lost friends as result.  I had to learn to become comfortable with being judged.  I had to believe that regardless of what people said I knew why I was doing what I was doing, and I had to stand by that.  Just be Kim was my motto.  You can’t make everyone happy all the time.

Invest in People:

People come into your life for a reason.  I obviously didn’t mention a million people who have impacted my career, but I’ve named a few here.  I look at every person and think, there’s a reason this person’s in my life.  What can I learn from them?  We’ve all met others who seem to know it all and don’t think they can learn from others, especially those who might be perceived as “less accomplished.”  I suppose I don’t think that way.  Sometimes it’s the people you least expect that change your life.  Always keep that in mind.

 Do Not Quit:

I have wanted to quit so many times in my life.  In high school athletics, in college activities, in grad school overwhelmed with academics, in my fitness pursuits and goals to lose weight and get in shape, in physique competing and even in parenting sometimes during my darkest moments, and especially in pursuing a career in the talent industry. If you really want something under NO circumstances is quitting an option.  If you are working really hard I guarantee you will hit a wall.  There will be a moment that you think everything you have done has gotten you no where.  You will be frustrated, disappointed, overwhelmed, dismayed and sad.  It is that very moment right then that will determine your success.  That’s usually the turning point.  Those that want it pull it together, put their head down and work harder.  Call who ever you need to for support, pull in all your resources, ask people to cheerlead for you.  Whatever you do, don’t give up…period!!!!

Life Without a Roadmap

13 Jul

I think sometimes we expect life to be easy.  When it isn’t or it doesn’t go as planned we get confused and upset.  Why is this so hard to navigate, you might ask yourself.  It just is.  Life is about making a series of difficult choices.  Each one leads to a different end point.

I wish I had a great bullet point list of how to effectively navigate this.  That would come in very helpful for many people.  Unfortunately, that’s not what this blog will really offer.  What I will say though is at the end of the day, there is one thing that’s important to remember.  Life rarely turns out exactly how you expect it to.  The more you aim to map it out, the less likely you are to end up exactly where you want.  The reason behind that is in following a particular path you thought you set for yourself, you miss the unique possibility of all the things that might bring you happiness.

It’s like this, imagine a trip from Arizona cross-country to Florida.  You can map it out and follow the path exactly there.  However, you might get half way across the country and the road is closed.  You might get half way there, look at the clock and feel like you are way behind schedule in you’re getting where you want to be.  This can easily ruin your trip.  On the other hand, maybe down a different road, one that you didn’t expect to be on, one that takes more time, you find great fulfillment.  While you path looks different from what you envisioned, it brings you more happiness than you thought possible.  Don’t map out life, get lost along the journey and discover the beauty the lies in undiscovered and unexpected places.

A Life Unlived

6 Jul

Every individual’s mid-life crisis is unique, and some might say they never experience it.  It seems that for nearly all though there is at least one moment that calls into question everything you know.  For me, that pivotal moment came unexpectedly as I lay in bed one night.  Reflecting on where I’ve been and who I’ve become, the visions flashed before my eyes of time ticking away.  You don’t know how long you’re here for; who are you and what do you truly want?  To seize that moment meant risk, which meant fear.  Fear is not something I’m fond of, but the five years prior had given me plenty of practice.  Life presents circumstances that touch the inner-most parts of your soul, they call into question everything you believe.  It’s in those moments that who you are is truly defined.

Who am I and who do I want to be?  What do I stand for and what do I believe?  I’d grown complacent over the years, and it wasn’t a bad place to be, but something inside of me looking back said there has to more to this.  It was then that I made the decision to jump.  I would not look back on an unlived life.  My childhood memories flashed before my eyes, the dream of being everything.  Along the way the roles disappeared and the hope that I might achieve them leaving just a few to cling to.

Something inside of me said jump.  Don’t think too much just jump.  Jumping requires trust, trust in yourself that you are capable.  Tick tok, time is running out.  You have to jump, or make a decision to stay safely where you are at.  Happiness sometimes comes in risk.  It comes by taking a chance.  Dreaming leads to achieving, if you are willing to take action.  Action requires trust in yourself.  Trust in yourself requires letting go of fear.  Letting of fear is the hardest part.

Who are you what do you love?  Can you answer that?  Who do you want to be?  What have you done to get there?  What are your passions and why?  I’m guessing you haven’t been asked that in a very long time.  We experience crisis mid-life because it hits us.  Somewhere along the way people stopped asking us these question, and we forgot the answers as a result.

I returned to the place where I asked these questions. Although painful at times, answering them makes us complete.  It ensures life never goes unlived, a moment never gets missed, and that at the end of the day we can indeed say, “Life didn’t go exactly as planned but I truly lived.”  You don’t get a do-over in life, and as a result you have to make this one count.

Networking: How Building Relationships for the Right Reasons Can Impact Your Life

28 Jun

I have to admit, even the word networking makes me tense up.  Before jumping in a career that required need for networking, I found it easy to talk to anyone and everyone for the sake or building positive and interesting relationships.  I navigated life with the idea that each person can offer me something from which I can learn, so I never wanted to miss an opportunity.  I most certainly was never thinking while talking to people, “how can they help me”.  In moving into the industry I’m in currently, I’ve heard people say you need to network for a purpose.  Better yet, I’ve seen people outwardly force themselves in front of others in a disingenuous way.  “I’ll never be that girl”, I thought to myself.  I worried that might hinder my ability to succeed.

In the beginning of my dabbling in the modeling, writing and styling industry I certainly witnessed many attempts at disingenuous networking.  I have the good fortune of working in-front of the camera at times, but unlike many talents I spend a great deal of time behind the camera as well.  You can only imagine some of the things I’ve heard and seen.  One of my first experiences in this industry landed me at a conference where the need to network weighed heavily on me.  Being the “look at me girl” was a huge challenge for me.  I questioned my ability to pursue a career and really was at a loss for the first time.

I’ve since developed some strong philosophies on networking that I am sticking with.  For better or worse, they suit me.  I honestly believe that you should never miss an opportunity to connect.  I think people can teach you something.  In some way every person can help you.  Better yet, you can help them…and that’s point # 1.

Ways to network effectively and still feel good about yourself:

1) Help other people.  Let’s face it, this feels good.  You have skills and abilities.  How can you use them to help others?  Earning trust doesn’t operate by mutual exchange of favors or opportunities.  It happens by truly seeing what good you can do and offering it.  Furthermore, it shouldn’t be limited to “certain” people.  While you can’t help everyone, you can impact everyone.  Find ways to help others succeed.  People appreciate this.  The work karma exists for a reason.

2) Build relationships before you need them.  A lot of people decide to start building relationships when they are trying to achieve a goal or when they are in need.  Wrong!  Build the foundation now.  You can spend years getting to know people.  They might offer you inspiration, you might meet friends, you can learn from other’s work.  Don’t ask for anything, just build for the sake of having meaningful relationships.  If you do this, and at some point you need something, people will know you.  They will understand what you are about.  Think about it.  If someone called you for help and you had never met them, are you inclined to do so?  Probably not.  However, if it’s someone who over time has gotten to know you, gone out of their way for you, offered you assistance in various way, then what would you say?  I think you get the point here.

3) Forget about you.  People don’t want to talk to people who talk about themselves all the time.  I know this is a tough one.  It is for me.  Not because I’m self consumed but because I just get going and am long-winded.  My friend likes to say he know’s how to “handle” my energy.  I do try to remember though that I really want to know others because that’s where I experience growth.  I listen without forming an immediate response or opinion.  I ask questions and I make space for learning.  I also like reading things others do, be it blogs, their writing, their posts on facebook.  Whatever it is.  I sometimes attend events others host or are involved in to show my support.  I try to ask questions and listen to the responses.  I also try to follow-up to check on people.  It’s always nice to hear of others successes.

4) People have lives outside of work. They have families, they have passions, they have hobbies and interests.  Finding ways to connect on these levels seem to help build relationships.  People don’t always want to be seen as just one thing.  The same goes for you.  Share something personal about yourself.  People want to works with humans, who have real stories.  Share that side of you and connect with others on that level.

5) Never be the person in the room that doesn’t pay attention.  In my opinion, there is nothing worse than talking to someone who you feel is looking around the room for who they want to meet. Even if it’s just for minute, give someone your full attention.  Don’t think when having conversations how will this help me.  That’s just wrong.  You devalue the person and their worth.  Worse yet, you devalue yourself.  Think about meeting people for the sake of growing and expanding.  You really never know when meeting others the impact they might have on your life.  Be sincere.  Be genuine. Be real.

Networking is a challenge, but try not to look at it as something you need to do.  Just try being you.  Don’t think as much about who you get in front of, who you connect with, who knows you.  Just try your best to build meaningful relationships with people.  Talk to everyone.  Sometimes people get in the mindset of “I need to meet so-and-so” and forget that person’s best friend might be the individual you just spent an hour ignoring.  Not the best move was it?

Best of luck in your career growth, and may you never miss a moment to connect.

A Very Easy Way to Impact the Lives of Others

15 Jun

I’ve noticed that my blog has been less stream of consciousness and more carefully thought out, so one goal I have is to not only include content that has a journalistic style but also has some casual posts that share tips, experiences and thoughts I think are helpful.  Along those lines today I’ll share my day yesterday and how one comment impacted me.

I didn’t actually get out of my pajamas yesterday.  I woke up and before my eyes were even open started working, meanwhile managing children.  A challenge to say the least.  I’ve been traveling the West Coast for the past 8 days working on photo shoots, styling and doing some of my own modeling work, so obviously that was somewhat of a high.  Upon my return I always have moments like “what’s next”.  I need to find the next thing.  That can be overwhelming at times.  I’m fairly certain I am juggling 20 projects right now.  On the tail end of all of them is becoming a ranked runner, which is funny because I get going trying to land modeling opportunities, speaking opportunities, styling jobs, working on articles and then think to myself… “Ohh wait, I need to go run”.  That should probably be at the top of my priority list.

By 2:00 p.m. I decided I needed Starbuck to cure my blues.  Still basically in my pajamas I headed to my local Starbucks incognito (I looked really bad)!  The barista, upon seeing me, recognized me.  I think from my picture in an article I recently published.  Of all times to be recognized, why am I not at least showered?  Needless-to-say, she has nice things to say about my work.  Just hearing her say she appreciated my writing completely changed my day.  That one comment meant more to me than any other good news I could have received.  She reminded me of why I work hard to do the things I do.  To exceed my own expectations, live my dream and inspire others. It’s not supposed to be easy all the time.  The most rewarding never are.

So, as I head into my day today, I am going to keep in mind the value of sharing kind words with others.  Often we don’t take the extra minute to tell someone they have made a difference to us.  Sometimes when I do this I fear people will think I am odd, disingenuous or just over-the-top. Okay, I am over-the-top sometimes but that’s a different blog!  Never-the-less, my goal is to never miss the chance to share with someone they made a difference to me.  It can turn a day around, it can turn a life around.  It can make a difference.

Who’s That Girl? You’re Guide to Meeting a Mate at the Gym

13 Jun

One of my male friends, who I consider to be quite successful in his career, arrived at the gym the other day ready for his morning work-out.  Across the room he spotted a cute girl on the treadmill. Meeting a girl at the gym appeals to him.  He’s long since left the bar scene and figured meeting a girl at the gym would be perfect, they would likely have something in common.  He heads toward the treadmill she’s on and what happens?  He walked right past the machine next to her to the end of the row and hopped on.  Fear got the best of him that day and he didn’t talk to her.  A few days later the same thing happened, although this time he manages to get on a machine next to her, still no conversation though, he keeps his head down and doesn’t even look her way.

Hearing this story I respond with, “What is wrong with you? You’re highly successful, you look better than you have in years, your personable, why wouldn’t you talk to her?”  I already knew the answer to this question, because despite my friend’s willingness to put himself out there professionally, he finds it much more difficult to do so in his personal life.  He fears rejection.

The reality is, we have to put ourselves out there if we hope to make valuable connections with others, whether they romantic or otherwise.  I’ve decided this will be my test case, to help my friend connect, in the hopes that he might find happiness with a partner that suits him.  Taking risks, like talking to the girl at the gym may or may not result in a romantic relationship, but it might result in friendship.  So how do you develop courage to meet someone at the gym, or elsewhere?  Consider these simple strategies below.

You have to start by saying what do I have to lose?  In the case of my friend, what happens if he talks to her and she thinks she’s “totally out of his league”.  She’ll likely at least be nice, and the social cues she’ll give off will indicate to him she’s not interested in being asked out.  In which case, it’s a few minutes of awkwardness, that’s it.  If she’s rude, at least he knows he wouldn’t want to date her anyway.  To overcome intentionally put yourself in a position where you have to engage in conversation.  Start a conversation with a genuine approach.  Here’s a way to approach my friends situation that will help establish a relationship

1)      Meet her gaze.  If a woman looks at you, and holds her gaze for more than a moment, it likely means she is confident.  It also probably means she wouldn’t mind talking to you.  Don’t look away.  Look right at her, smile, and pause.  This indicates you are open to interactions.

2)      Do not run to the other end of the gym when this happens.  You might be tempted if you are a shy-type, but you need to place yourself in a position where interaction could happen.  This doesn’t mean you need to follow her immediately, but find an opportunity to where you could interact.

3)      Initiate conversation.  Some people are great at getting to this point, but then they open their mouth and it goes downhill from there.  Introduce yourself with a question, “I’ve seen you here before, have you been a member here for long?”  The key when initiating conversation is to ask questions rather than talk about yourself.  Be genuine, and steer clear from announcing anything fabulous about yourself at this point.  Huge turn-off, do nt tell her something like you recently placed in a competition, you have an incredible career or you make a lot of money.  Don’t name drop, don’t brag about your physique, and don’t announce your accomplishments at this point.  Trust me, if she likes you at all she will probably go home and online stalk you so she knows what she is dealing with.  The best thing for women is to meet a genuine guy, who doesn’t brag, and asks insightful questions, only to find out had they bragged they would have had a lot to say.  This peak interests.

4)      Talk to for a bit and tell her it was nice to meet her.  If the conversation went  well, tell her you’d enjoy getting to know her better, and give her a way to contact you or ask for her number.  Be genuine.

5)      Whatever you do, look her in the eye.  Believe it out not, most women are highly aware of where a man is looking.  As a matter of fact, most can tell from across the room if a man is looking at them and where they’re looking.  So, be mindful you are paying attention to the right places on her.  Feel free to compliment her but make it tactful and honest.

6)      Most important, be confident but do not be cocky.  You can take the cocky approach, and maybe it will work for you in the beginning, but if at heart you a nice guy looking to form a valuable lasting relationship that approach will only get you a girl you likely don’t want to commit to long-term.

Women like confident and respectful men.  Really there isn’t a lot to lose.  Many women are likely just as nervous as you when it comes to meeting people and they will appreciate your effort.  Even if they don’t want to form a long-term relationship with you, chances are they will enjoy your company for the moment and be flattered that you were interested enough to talk to them.  For those of you who are successful in your sport, or career, take that energy and direct it into your social life.  Take risk and start relationship building.  It might result in a love connection, a friendship, a professional colleague, or otherwise.