Ask April: Get Comfortable With Your Ask

When you embark on your passion project path you find yourself having to pick up many new skills and experiences. One constant is that you find yourself asking a lot of questions. Asking questions is the brilliance of our humanity. It gives the world in front of us pathways to possibility within a seemingly random world.

The act of questioning is a skill, and like skills can be lost without use. Good news is you can also build mastery in this skill. What you find is a well-crafted question will yield more meaningful results.

For Ask April, get comfortable with our ask. Here’s a method to do it:

  1. Ask away: Give yourself time and space to ask without limits. Set a timer for five to ten minutes and ask your self for and about anything. Grow on your requests or ideas to make them wow you. Bring in details and paint a picture or a story around your asks. If you ask another question allow yourself to move with the questions and then build on that.This practice is a bit of an asking brainstorm that encourages you and stimulate creativity in your questions.
  2. Focus your ask: Now that your question creativity is flowing it’s time to put your skill to good use. Consider a specific question you are facing in your life.

    What is the challenge you want to overcome or bring to fruition?

    For instance, you could be passionate about educational programs in your community. You want to build a local environment where everyone feels empowered to prosper.  You work with a nonprofit that organizes itself around that mission. Now you find yourself having to ask many questions. Now it’s time for your annual fundraising event and you’ve been charged with getting the community you serve to care.
    ZingaHart

    When making the ask to have people commit to the organization’s success you should focus your question in three ways:

    1. Know the who: There may be many people involved with your question or there may only be a few. Take note of who they might be and why they might care.
    2. Know the why: What is your connection to this? What makes you feel good about the efforts in place and what do you hope is the ultimate accomplishment?
    3. Know how: When you are engaged in conversation with your person, know how they can take the next step. Give them the action that brings them closer to the move you hope they’ll take: making a commitment in this case.
  3. Cut in clarity: If you’ve been taking notes throughout this process, you should have 3-5 minutes of free writing and around half a page of planning. Of course, you could and should extend your research, but the last move before taking action would be to bring clarity to your ask.

    Write your question in one concise, yet encompassing question. You may not always use this question exactly, but you will bring clarity to what your communicating should the opportunity ever arise.

*Bonus* To grow even more comfortable with the ASK think of little stories that elaborate what you’re saying.

What do you think about the importance of asking questions? Let me know below! 

 

 

One More Move: Lay Out Your Desires

I’m back!

Currently, I am writing this blog, with Little Einsteins going on in the background for my daughter, and a part of me feels…weird.  Well, I feel something. It’s been a while since my last blog post, and honestly, I missed writing, but I also appreciated the break. My life has changed dramatically, since the time I slowed down on writing. I started a new job and bought a house, which came with a move to a new city. While I appreciated all of these changes, I knew that I couldn’t stop what I believe my purpose to be, and that is drawing out the success of others around me, one small move at a time.

So without further notice, we begin the small moves that bring you that much closer to where you want to be. This one is a good move if you’re just starting out on your journey. It was actually the theme of the last workshop I did for my local meetup group Cultivated Sisters. This move is to lay out your deepest desires.

Really, Zinga, I know  my deepest desires!

I get that, they may swell within you and you may think about them fairly regularly, but until you write down your deepest desire and write in a way that shows you are committed to achieving them, then they will always come and go as figments of your imagination. Make it concrete! Write your desires somewhere, declare it out loud, and put a date on achieving it.

Write your desires somewhere, declare it out loud, and put a date on achieving it.

This is a move that goes back to one of the OGs of self-help success, Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich. He writes, “whatever the mind can conceive, and believe, it can achieve” and that first step to believing that conception is realizing it on paper.

Teachers Appreciation Week (2)

So for one more move this week, find a space and a place to write your deepest desires, write as if you’re writing on a magic paper that will fulfill whatever you wish. Then leave it alone for an hour or so and review it. Question what you wrote, make it more specific, add more details, bring it to life.

To help refine what you wrote here are some questions to stimulate your thoughts:

  • What am I missing from my life?
  • What is in overabundance in my life?
  • What do I want more of?
  • How is my life working?
  • How could I change how my life is working?
  • What would that change bring ideally?

Try not to underestimate this small move, it could be the difference between mediocre and magnificent.

What did you write on your “magic” paper? 

professional picture zinga hart return on investment akron cleveland

Return on Investment: Get a Professional Picture

Most of my “One More Moves” are free. Honestly, most of our beginning desires for success in life can be achieved for free. Mapping a business plan, building a network, sharing your ideas, staying productive and motivated….there are free ways to do all of these things, the investment comes when you are ready to grow.

Like all good things that come to grow, you need to invest:

  • energy,
  • time,
  • and/or money

into getting to the next phase of your mission. While you could live in the very romantic world of hopes, dreams, and ideas, you will miss out on the fulfilling experience of creating your desires into a reality.

How tomakea workshop (4)

So what’s one small investment you can make?

Adding a professional picture to your digital profiles.

I tell you! It’s an investment I made near the end of 2016 and the changes have been real and meaningful. Here are some immediate returns on my investment in a professional photo:

  • Improved level of connections on LinkedIn: Within days of updating my profile pic, I was invited to connect by a US Senator.
  • Impress colleagues: For my new role, I did an interview, having my own professional photo instead of the standard issue one given by the university, allowed me to bring my warmth and character into my first stamp.
  • Increase confidence: When building my website and creating flyers, I feel great sharing my face and brand because I am not doing an “in-the-car selfie”. I show that I could invest in the experience needed to do the job.
  • Better lighting: Improved lighting allows for you to use your photos in a variety of situations, you can cut and paste can add it to book covers, marketing posts, and plenty of other places.

A typical professional business headshot will typically be an investment of $100-$250.

Unless….

How tomakea workshop (3)

You’re a Northeast Ohio (Akron Event) woman and a member of Empower NOW, the social enterprise group that empowers women to empower women through business development, creative connections, and resource sharing!  Get a professional headshot on March 25th for only $10 thanks to the generous donation of one of our members and the sponsorship of the Akron Microbusiness Center!

 

 

Have any tips on getting a professional headshot? Comment below!

Looking to the future and other writings.

Last week, I wrote about small moves you can take to plan for 2017. I hope you get to read it. This week, I’m just put some free-thought in response to what I wrote.

Why?

Well, I took this week to publish on the Pulse. I do that sometimes for my small business owners and community leaders. [Find my other writings from 2016 there 🙂 ]

So here we go:

Building off of 2016

2016 was a tough year.

Firstly, America’s existential crisis, was definitely a point of concern. I do hope we can find unity again.

Personally, this year I stepped up my presentation as a leader. As an INTP, I am super comfortable hiding behind my work. Look at the good work I do and let’s move forward to do more. As an employee or an assistant that makes me ideal, but as a leader of a budding non-profit, it is completely ineffective.

A leader listens to their community and responds in-kind. While I was always strong at the listening part, this year I really boosted the response part. They asked for more presence I created a monthly newsletter; more engagement – we added meeting activities and in-between events; more communication – we revamped our meetings, developed workshops, and gave even more details reports! All of this I would have never found the energy to do, if it wasn’t for their need.

A leader listens to their community and responds in-kind.

Yet, learning the balance between being present as a leader and finding energy as an introvert, was no simple feat. I learned to say no to wasteful-time sinks, yet so no to work during my agreed-upon free time. I listened to my body and gave it rest when required, and I never over-loaded my day, making sure to be aware of my meeting availability over the course of a month.

In 2017, I hope to be more present in the world of higher education. While, I love writing to help us all find our personal success, and running local and online economic empowerment initiatives, my true passion is higher education. Shifting how we draw out the success of adults from a systemic level will truly help achieve my vision of showing the world the trillion-dollar value of education. I hope to find time to meet with people during my professional career at the university, and eventually present myself on a person that likes to build communities that form a culture around the love of  self-development.

That long conversation…

When I meditated on my self and my higher purpose, I found that I finally feel as if I shifted into the groove of being passionate about what I produce. Now it’s a matter of producing consistently and intelligently.

So, I want to be even more efficient with my time in 2017 and to find ways more meaningful ways to connect with the people I care about more often.

Strive for More…

My greatest dream for 2017 is to grow Limitless Ambition’s (the non-profit) and Empower NOW’s (the network) community and to find better ways to serve their success.

On the blog, I hope to hone in and help you take meaningful moves to build your authentic success.

My fantasy is to head to an international beach for a week, something blue and sandy.

mpfiyu__1ba-joe-cooke

A week will do.

Honing in…

To review, serving others is going to be a key focus for 2017. I will shift from putting the work first to putting the heart first and instilling it into my intents and actions. Should be an interesting shift for a get-it-done girl like me.

Action Steps 

  • Call at least one friend and one family member per week.
  • Provide high-quality help to least two small businesses a quarter.
  • Give away highly valuable resources that I know others would find help on a weekly or monthly basis.
  • Offer one highly-useful workshop, webinar, or tool per month to help people grow the authentic [small business/nonprofit] success.
  • Set a budget for a beach trip and save 🙂
  • Have lunch with one new or familiar colleague at least twice a month.

So there’s the quick personal plan for 2017. What are some action steps you want to take during the next year? Comment below!

Career Champs with Alicia Robinson, Founder and Executive Director of Limitless Ambition

Bootstrapping a non-profit is no light affair.

alicia robinson limitless ambition kent ohio zinga hart

I remember the night like it was yesterday. Frustrated with being severely limited at my job, I needed a way to vent my  insatiable need to create solutions to complex problems, and I found myself meeting with the coolest professional woman in the coolest building on campus at what was formerly known as the Blackstone Launchpad.

It was a semi-transparent glass box, smack dab in the middle of the student center, and having encountered her before, I curiously wondered how we could connect. When we met, she gave me the invitation to an All the CEO Ladies networking meeting later that week. It was after work so I went. It was there that the true connection was made.

It was there that the true connection was made.

We all had to pitch as a part of the membership. I came up with an idea to develop a social app that categorized and simplified who will be on the current political ballot. Everyone cheered, it was and still is a pretty crucial invention that we can’t quite get popularized.

Then it was her turn, Alicia Robinson. She sat and cheered everyone through their ideas and made friends pretty instantly. Like a cool older sister that you wonder where they get their je ne sais quoi.  We all heard her stitch together her vision of a future where women accept our pain because it pushes toward a life of purpose and passion. Where we network together to build youth girls to dream, believe, and achieve without limits. An organization she would call Limitless Ambition, Inc.

An organization she would call Limitless Ambition, Inc.

Her ideas of the future were so grand and so big, it  almost felt like one’s first visit to the late FAO Schwartz. She had the determination in her voice that made everyone feel like all the pitches we gave would pan out perfectly, just because we said it. We wanted her to succeed because we felt our own limitless ambition fueling us there in each others presence. A room full of young, emerging women hoping to craft a better future with our best ideas.

women leadership free lessons a woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman

Start-Up Leadership Lessons

By this point, I had experience with growing and refining strategies for non-profits so I agreed to join the group and help create a strategic plan, while doing some marketing.  that is where I learned that a start-up non-profit is a completely different canvas. This is when I learned that a start-up non-profit is a completely different canvas than the well-established organizations I was used to before starting college. Becuase it was a start-up, I was voted into the position of president, a role I was surprised to be offered. Yet, my initiative and understanding of the mission along with my comfort with strategic management fit for a startup. I agreed to take the position for three years, we the stipulation that we would spend time finding a president of a much higher-profile by the end of my term.

Alicia and I were still in school at the time, we both also worked full-time had tight millennial budgets, an untapped network, and  starter experience to boot. Our passion wouldn’t let that stop us, and, thankfully, Blackstone Launchpad, now KSU Launchnet provided an excellent source of wisdom, connections, and support along the way. We had late nights,  early emails, weekly and twice-weekly meetings; we devoted any minute of our free time, effort, and attention into making sure Limitless Ambition, Inc did everything as thoroughly as possible, to show we could match the pace of our peers. What we learned was that we had something that worked and that we had to keep serving those around us because they found value every time.

When life called she answered cultivated visions

Our Start Up Nonprofit Grows Up

It is no easy journey and we still have a long road to walk. There were small successes, frustrating failures, arguments, and awkward moments of facing our truths, so we could improve and move on. Yet, all along the way, we knew the moments were moments of empowerment, which was exactly the point. Thus, we kept moving forward, ego bruises and all. Now, we are preparing to host our next summer program and we have grown our team from around 5 to over 20 in three years time. Our organization has had a reach of over 600 people face to face and we have a locally-targeted social media reach of 4000+, all while working our passions part time.

As our team grew our hectic schedules quelled, and now we face new leadership lessons beyond the ones of our early start-up days. How do we ensure our mission is reflected in every aspect of our work? How can we provide community transparency that builds trust amongst those we serve and support? How can we be better leaders, still?

This may be my last year serving as the president of Limitless Ambition, so I hope to leave my lessons here for those who will carry the torch forward. Take a moment below to watch me interview Alicia in my special podcast segment below.

lessons learned from leading limitless ambition for the ladies who launch gala

Lessons Learned From Leading Limitless Ambition

As I get ready for the gala this week, I realize that this leadership ride I’ve been on has shaped some powerful lessons in my life. You see,  when I was in grad school I was a woman seeking to take a stance of power within my life and the world around me. Thanks to connections made at Kent State University’s LaunchNet, I was fortunate enough to encounter a young startup non-profit that had a motto aimed at helping girls dream, believe, and achieve without limits. As a lover of building solutions from scratch and human empowerment, I found a home to pursue my passion of achieving long-term strategic goals, while doing good in the world.

Shortly after, I found myself to be the president-elect of Limitless Ambition, Inc. and while growing a non-profit organization that empowers women in Northeast Ohio, I’ve come to unearth many areas of growth. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned after 2 full years in the position.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse. Read more.

3 free paths to clarity

3 Paths to Clarity

I created an infographic for http://www.cultivatedvisions.com social media postings. It reminded me of how important it is to ensure you continuously seek to clarify who you are and who you will be. There are so many areas of input that can muddle up the inner voice that guides us while we fulfill our purpose. Sometimes the voice is so subtle it sounds like it’s coming from our Self.

So here’s an adapted version of the infographic to apply to any area of your life where you seek to find clarity.

 

3 paths to clarity for international and northeast ohio leaders