Starting a business with your best friend may sound like a great idea. After all, you already know that you get along and can spend a lot of time together. But before you dive right in, there are a few things you and your potential business partner and longtime bestie should know before signing on the dotted line.

My best friend Kim Strengari and I have been business partners for years, owning and operating three successful restaurants in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, USA (a thriving suburb located right outside of Philadelphia) – Stella Blu, Gypsy Saloon and Southern Cross Kitchen as well as our catering company ConshyGirls Events and Catering. While we’ve definitely had our ups and downs over the years, we’ve stuck to a few simple rules that we believe has kept our businesses thriving and our friendship stronger than ever!

Here are 4 rules for starting a business with your best friend and still maintaining a friendship, to ensure it’s the beginning of a great new venture, and not the end of your relationship:

1. Determine Each Other’s Roles

The handling of day-to-day duties is something that came naturally to Kim and I, because we have very specific talents and abilities. However, over time, as we’ve grown and acquired more restaurants, these roles are less defined and we work more as partners. So, for anyone starting out, I’d suggest that at first, play to each other’s strengths. If you are a numbers person, you take care of the accounting. If your partner is more creative let her do the marketing. However, be ready to be flexible, which takes me to my next step.

2. Embrace Change

When it’s just the two of you, there is no such thing as “that’s not my job”. Be ready to take on anything! Even to this day, with three restaurants, I still find myself washing dishes or picking up ink for the printer.

At first, play to each other’s strengths. If you’re a numbers person, take care of the accounting. If your partner is more creative let her do the marketing. However, be ready to be flexible …

3. Communicate!

Just because you’re best friends doesn’t mean you can read each other’s minds. Make sure you keep each other informed of everything in the beginning. As time goes on, you will learn that you don’t need to communicate every little detail but when you start out, don’t take for granted that she will automatically know how you prefer to do things or when a task is a completed.

4. Take Time Out to Just Be Friends

This may seem simple but it’s not. Something all best friends who are going into business together should know is to always make time to be friends. Set dates just for girl talk, and not for business. A business partnership is just like a marriage there’s always a give-and-take, you must respect and listen to the other person’s ideas.

A business partnership is just like a marriage there’s always a give-and-take … 

Starting a business with your best friend can be the most rewarding thing you ever do. After all, no one knows you better than your best friend and no one wants to see you succeed more than she does. So, don’t be afraid to take that leap of faith, just have a safety net in place for when you take it!

Featured photo credit: Daryl I via photopin cc

KIM-STRENGARI-&-MARIANNE-GERE-Leaders-in-Heels-profile-imgKim Strengari and Marianne Gere

Kim Strengari and Marianne Gere are the co-owners of three of the most popular restaurants in Philadelphia’s flourishing hipster suburb Conshohocken, PA, Stella Blu, Gypsy Saloon and Southern Cross Kitchen as well as the thriving catering company ConshyGirls. They do this with what appears to be ease, lots of laughs and plenty of good times. Strengari and Gere are always evolving. They recently opened a live music venue in Southern Cross Kitchen, redecorated Gypsy Saloon and are discussing plans for a future restaurant.

That unique combination of sheer will power, a determination to succeed and a sense of fun and adventure is what makes these two women extraordinary – especially in an industry dominated by men.


Think about all the questions that change lives in an instant: Will you marry me? Will you accept the position? Would you like fries with that?

OK, maybe not the last one so much. That said, questions are powerful tools for intentional living. They invite introspection, conversation, and connection.

Asking a few strategic questions will set you up for increased positive emotion. Acting on your honest, authentic answers can transpire into true happiness.

Try these questions on and see how happy looks on you:

1. What are you doing when you lose track of time?

DO MORE OF THIS! You’re in the zone. The zone is chock-full of contentment, happiness, purpose, and clarity.

2. What do you choose over sleep or sex?

You must seriously love whatever this is. I’d say do more of this ASAP (plus sleep and sex). This one is going to require some time management.

3. What are you doing for others?

Not giving back? It’s scientifically proven to increase your happy! Find a way to contribute today! Donating your time, money, skill-set, or helping hands will instantly boost your own morale. It’s a win-win-win!

4. How much progress have you made on your Bucket List?

You don’t have one? Now’s the time. You will have instant purpose and motivation to take action on the things that will make you excited and fill you up. In fact, without even crossing anything off your list, you will increase your happy just by making one. How simple is that?

5. How do you share your gratitude?

Most of us feel so much gratitude for the people in our lives, but we hardly ever express our thanks. Not only will sharing your thanks make you feel great, it will certainly spark joy in others. Another double-whammy!

By answering these strategic questions and taking action, you are destined to be happier today!

Featured image supplied by Tara Ashcraft.

 

Tara Ashcraft Leaders in Heels bio imgTara Ashcraft, MSEC

Tara is a change expert and master coach who gets her kicks from helping women make changes in order to live big, bold, brave, beautiful lives. She believes in sharing the stories of our change journeys to inspire and encourage each other.  She has over ten years of experience in learning and development in both private and public sectors. She’s equal parts psychology, pom-poms, pixie dust, and pinot. Follow Tara on Twitter via @taracashcraft


Over the last few weeks I’ve been asked to present to groups of Year 9-12 girls. The conversations embraced what Confidence means, what it doesn’t mean, bullying, social media and everything in-between.

The conversations were interactive, lively, enlightening and at times brutally honest, particularly around bullying. There were an alarming number of girls who had been bullied at previous schools; when they reported it to parents, teachers and/or police they were ignored. That fact alone is terribly sad and totally unacceptable.

All of the topics we discussed were as equally relevant to adults as they were to teenagers. With that in mind, I’ve decided to share some of them with you. Follow these five steps and you will never wonder if you are living an authentic life, because you will be.

Passion

Put as much enthusiasm as you can into everything you do. Do things you are passionate about and surround yourselves with others who are passionate about what they do. The whole fabric of your life will change when you find something you love doing. But always remember “Follow your heart but take your brain with you”.

Bullying

“The greatest tragedy in life is when good people look the other way”.

If you see someone being bullied, do something about it – do not look the other way. People being bullied rarely like to draw more attention to themselves. Step in, report it, do whatever needs to be done and don’t let the issue go until it’s dealt with.

Social Media

“When emotions are high, intelligence is low”.

If you are having a bad day, step away from the computer! With over 55% of employers checking Facebook sites before they decide to interview you, your reputation may depend on that one smart decision not to go online.

Decision Making

Ben Roberts-Smith recently said, “Make the right decision because it’s right, not because it’s easy”.

There are many ways you can come to a decision, you weigh up the pros and cons, ask people their opinion and probably do research but in the end there is no doubt your gut-feel will always tell you what the right decision is to make. Ensure you don’t block out your inner-voice wisdom when making decisions.

Walking Your Talk

“What you do speaks so loudly, I can hardly hear what you’re saying”.

Above everything else, you need to walk your talk. Ultimately this is how you are judged. Remember a promise is a promise no matter who it is to – your family, partner, friend, colleague, employer. It is this level of integrity which increases self-confidence levels instantly.

I encourage you to look at your life through the eyes of others to gauge how they perceive you in each of these areas. Then decide if you need to make any changes.

photo credit: greekadman via photopin cc

Glenise Anderson

Glenise is the Chief Confidence Chick at Self Confident Women, a personal development company helping women around the world create a better life. She is also the Director of SR Group, a training and development consultancy assisting corporate companies with coaching, behavioural profiling, training and technical writing.


Awareness is the first step towards taking new action and so my hope is that by making you aware of these 5 habits you will learn something valuable that will assist you in taking new action. When you change these habits you’ll find yourself more content and living in line with your ideal.

#1: You don’t look for the good in every occurrence

Divya journalLooking for the good is a healthy habit to build and like any other strength, it gets better with practice. Looking for the good means focusing on what you have, not what you don’t – what’s right instead of what’s wrong. You can train your brain to look for the good by practicing gratitude every day. The commitment to keeping a gratitude journal helped me learn how to look for the good. Keeping a gratitude journal is a life changing habit because over time it induces a permanent paradigm shift toward seeing the good without having to look very hard.

I rarely used to look for the good, and because of that I didn’t always see it. I wasn’t a glass-half-empty perspective holder, but rather the glass is there and it has some water in it…I considered myself a realist back then. Regardless of what label you choose to identify with, looking for the good is compatible with them all. If you look closely enough, you can always find things to be grateful for, regardless of context. It may take some time if you are new to the practice, but it’s a mistake to not invest that time if you want to lead a life of greater joy and fulfilment.When you are so focused on all that you don’t know and what you don’t have, you lose sight of how much you can offer already

#2: You don’t regulate your emotions with your physiology

The brilliance of our brains and bodies is the continuous feedback loop they share with each other. Just as we can change how our bodies appear by the emotions we’re experiencing (smiling when happy, frowning when sad) the opposite holds true.

A University of Kansas experiment found that when participants were smiling in any form (genuine, artificial, and when chopsticks were used to prop participants mouths open into a forced grin) they had lower heart rates when performing stressful tasks.  At the University of Cardiff, researchers gave two groups of women questionnaires about their depression and anxiety. One group had Botox and physically couldn’t frown and the other group did not. Even when controlling for perception in attractiveness so that was not a variable that could interfere, the botox group reported significantly lower depression and anxiety.

Research from Harvard Business School demonstrates that we can feel more confident and capable just by spending two minutes standing in a power pose (think Wonder Woman: feet hip width apart and hands on hips) because it significantly reduces our cortisol levels and increases our testosterone levels. If you’re feeling insecure, it affects your physiology by making you want to hunch your shoulders and make yourself smaller. It’s a mistake to allow yourself to do that because that just continues to make you feel unsure, so you want to interrupt that pattern by changing your posture and facial expression. You can actually make yourself feel happier by fake smiling when you’re sad, or stressed, it’s a mistake not to, presuming that you actually want to feel good.

#3: You “should” on yourself

Why should (or shouldn’t) you do anything? And according to whom? I hear people say this word so often that I can’t help but wonder about the thought patterns it reinforces in their brains.

“Should” happens sometimes. I will admit that I catch myself saying it occasionally and when I do, I stop to correct myself. If it doesn’t hold true when I replace “I should…” with “I’d love to…” I realise that it’s not my own true desire and I’ve let myself be compromised by someone else’s ideal. Since I’d much rather act in accordance with my ideal instead of society’s, my family’s, my partner’s, the media’s, etc., I don’t say it unless it works with I’d love to. Example: if I should go to the beach today = I’d love to go to the beach today, then it’s fine. If not, reconsider what it is you really would love to do.

No one deserves to be should on. Life is too short for that. Do what you love.

#4: You spend more time thinking (especially about your shortcomings) than doing

My brilliant clients often say that they can’t do or have X, Y, or Z that they want because they need to learn or achieve A, B, C, and D first. At first I thought it made perfect sense, but then I realised the list never seems to end. After they learned those things they decided they needed to know L, M, N, O, P too, and all of these things they need to know before they could take action.

Now I don’t doubt one of the reasons why clients like that flock to me is that for years I thought that I couldn’t do what I most wanted to do until I learned all there is to know about the brain. A bit ambitious of me, huh? No wonder I so often felt overwhelmed and like my dreams were impossibilities.

The truth is that we’ll never be able to learn absolutely everything that we want to study, but we can’t let that hold us back from taking action. When you are so focused on all that you don’t know and what you don’t have, you lose sight of how much you can offer already. Don’t sacrifice your strengths by focusing exclusively on your shortcomings. That’s a terrible mistake to make.

Spend less time thinking and more time doing – that’s the trick. Just keep taking action and small steps eventually turn into big strides.

#5: You are too concerned with being reasonable

If you’re anything like most of the brilliant people I know, you’re so absorbed with being rational and reasonable that you don’t permit yourself to dream big as big as you can. I’m talking about entertaining those wild and wonderful wouldn’t-it-be-great-if type of dreams that you have in your heart, but that you don’t dare give voice to lest people think that you’ve lost your marbles.Be unreasonable in your dreams

George Bernard Shaw once said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

Be unreasonable in your dreams. Dreams like: wouldn’t it be great if we could create a car that runs on poop? How awesome would it be to carry computers in our pockets? I’d love to turn a light on by clapping. Wouldn’t it be lovely to live in a world where mental illness was not stigmatised? Those are the dreams we need to move our world forward.

Quit making the mistake of being so darn reasonable in your thinking and dream bigger. Make your dreams as unreasonable as you can.

Change these habits and your life will change for the better. By learning to look for the good, regulating your emotions with your physiology, removing should from your thoughts, thinking less and doing more, and being more unreasonable you can create a more radiant life than you had previously been able to imagine.

photo credit: Bhumika.B via photopin cc

Divya Hemnani

Divya is a Brain Trainer and ardent advocate of a daily practice of mindfulness and gratitude. You can connect with her at Intrinsic Brilliance and pre-order your own gratitude journal through her crowdfunding campaign at www.pozible.com/gratitudejournal


The charm of Valentine’s Day wore off by the time I hit my late teens. So for the past thirteen years I’ve avoided it like the plague  – even while I was single. My husband and I also don’t subscribe to the hype surrounding this one day out of 365! We prefer to show each other in small ways how much we care throughout the year.

Don’t get me wrong, I might be one of those anomalies who doesn’t like the cheesiness that goes with this day. I know for a fact many men and women do actually look forward to this day to make their partner feel special (nothing wrong with that). I’m happy for them but if you happen to spend Valentine’s Day solo this year, don’t fret. With the tips below, you’ll get through this day still feeling fabulous.

1. Get into the spirit of the day – why not wear red to work? Not only is red the colour of love, it’s also the colour of power. Wearing red will make you feel powerful and confident all day!

2. Gather your single girlfriends for a fun night out – Spend Valentine’s Day with your favourite group of girlfriends who are also single. There’s nothing like getting together for a great night out with the girlies.

3. Pamper yourself – Have you been putting off that facial and/or manicure? Head over to a salon at lunchtime and paint your nails red.

4. Do something special for someone you love – Valentine’s Day is about celebrating the love you have for someone and not necessarily a partner. Why not get together with mum and siblings and treat them to a special night out?

5. Stay in and watch movies – Friday night is perfect for watching movies, ordering pizza and relaxing. Invite around a friend or two for that movie you’ve been putting off. Tip: stay away from movies like The Notebook – guaranteed even to turn me into a crying mush!

Remember Valentine’s Day is just one day…take control and enjoy it!

5 things you may not know about Valentine’s Day:

1. The day did not have any romantic connection with love until a poet wrote about it in the 14th Century.

2. The diamond industry began to promote Valentine’s Day as an occasion for giving jewelry in the 1980s.

3. In Japan, the romantic “date night” associated to Valentine’s Day is celebrated on Christmas Eve.

4. Aussies are expected to spend $42.3 million on romantic dinners, reflecting a 24 per cent jump from 2013.

5.Valentine’s Day is banned in many Muslim countries with any signs of celebrations attracting imprisonment in some countries.

 


One of the things I love about Facebook is the abundance of inspiring quotes to read.  One which resonated with me recently was “Nothing changes unless you change. Everything changes once you change”.

It reminded me that I am in absolute control of my life and my response to what happens.  If I don’t like where I’m at, I need to make some changes.  In fact, it’s the basis of a lot of the coaching I do.

Today, however, it’s about tips for creating a more fulfilling life.  These tips are focused firmly and squarely on “giving to others”.

Tip 1: Volunteering

A great way to spend free time, if you have it or can make room to do it.  Some companies even give their employees time off work to go out and volunteer, which is a fantastic initiative considering most places are short-staffed due to financial restrictions.  For me, it’s with the PCYC in my local community.  I do this over and above my role as their Chairperson, which had the staff there a little perplexed at first.  I spend a few hours a week as a ‘volunteer’, which I have clearly explained to them means I do whatever it is they need me to do.  Not my ‘day job’ skills (although these come in handy sometimes) and not what I do as their Chairperson, but what they need done.

Tip 2: Cash

If you don’t have time to volunteer but do have spare cash, choose your favourite charity and make a regular donation.  Sometimes charities need cash more than they need man-hours.  The Giving Pledge,  the campaign to encourage the wealthiest people in the world to make a commitment to give most of their wealth to philanthropic causes is a brilliant concept started by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.  But if you’re not in that league, as most of us aren’t, it could be as simple as ‘paying it forward’.  Next time you’re in your local cafe, try paying for the next person’s cup of coffee.  Random acts of kindness usually have ripple effects.

Tip 3: Stay in touch

Picking up the telephone to say hello, could make a world of difference to someone and only needs to take 5 minutes of your time.  Whether it be family, friends, an elderly person you know or someone in need, a quick, friendly phone call could change the fabric of their whole day.

Try one or more of these tips throughout the year and your life will be more fulfilling and as a bonus, your confidence levels will increase.

How do I know this?  Because I do them all.  I go to bed every night and am grateful to be in a position to help others outside my normal ‘day’ job.  It is rewarding, fulfilling and just plain worth doing.

Glenise Anderson

Glenise is the Chief Confidence Chick at Self Confident Women, a personal development company helping women around the world create a better life. She is also the Director of SR Group Pty Ltd, a training and development consultancy assisting corporate companies.