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Amber Anthony

43 & Fabulous??

By | Health & Vitality | No Comments

Well, for those of you who have followed my journey or the struggle LOL, you know the last 5+ years have been filled with excessive eating, drinking, partying… and as a result… stressing. Lots of life changes…. new marriage, recent empty nest syndrome, and in between a few little health challenges directly related to me NOT taking care of myself. Granted…. I expected for there to be a few hiccups and I do expect to be aging (at a glacial pace)…. but this past year, I can honestly say, there has been a rapid demise in my physical appearance and whether directly related or not, a huge change in my emotional wellbeing.

Thankfully I was able to communicate these realities to an amazing and knowledgable woman, Jenny Worth, and she directed me to my “Step 1” – Sports Medicine & Performance Specialist – Dr. Lester Lee (Huntington Beach). I made an appointment, submitted to a full blood panel (paid cash out of pocket, even though Kaiser may have done about 60% of the requests under my existing insurance)… But ain’t no-one got time to be haggling with Kaiser lol.

I received my results within a week along with a treatment plan…. And much to my surprise, MOST of the recommendations were natural over the counter supplements! And… you’re not going to believe this… the REAL shocker was the fact that I was low in vitamin D…. and after 2 heavy doses over the course of 2 weeks…. The clouds started to lift, the birds started to chirp and I began to feel incredibly alive and optimistic! With something simple as Vitamin D my friends!

To summarize my results quickly for those of you who are interested in taking control of your health & wellness…

Cortisol 37.2 (High) – CRP 11.9 (High) – Estrogen 21 (Low) – Progesterone .1 (Low) – Thyroid T3 2.59 (Low) – Testosterone .6 (Low) – Gamma GT 76 (High) Liver – Need Detox – Vitamin D 10.9 (Low)

Listen… I’m no Dr…. I just don’t care for traditional medicine… many of my friends and family are on one pill after another for depression, anxiety, etc. and to be frank, I don’t see any improvements in their overall wellbeing (just putting it out there). And though I struggle with many of the same symptoms, I’ve always relied on pushing through mentally vs. using a pharmaceutical solution (unless you’re going to judge me on my Red Bull and t (thermogenic addiction) – Which UPDATE on that …… since I started with my wellness treatment plan, I am completely off of thermos, fat burners, etc!

This was my treatment plan (see notes below)…. and for 2 months supply… it was a little over $200 so…. Medicine & Supplements = $100 for the month along with the $90 office visit (sidebar – bloodwork was pricey for the first time $1200 but again… that was my choice I could have saved 60% had I gone to Kaiser).

I am down 11 pounds since mid-January. I am ready to tackle another 10 starting tomorrow! I haven’t started the Liver Detox yet because it is pretty strict… At some point I need to commit to that, but for me… the small improvements/changes I’ve made thus far are monumental!

I’ve spoken at length about how good I feel and how I see a huge improvement with my inflammation with my sister, colleagues and friends who are most if not all currently taking prescribed medication for weight, stress, anxiety, etc.

Again…. I don’t claim to be an expert in this field… I can only speak my truth – but I will keep you posted on my progress and hope that as time passes, I can present valuable information stemming from my journey that you may be able to apply to your own lives!

If I can do it, you can certainly do it!

By | About Amber | No Comments

This one is for anyone who has a million excuses as to why they aren’t succeeding in life and/or anyone who hasn’t strengthened their mind to believe in themselves!

Let me set the stage – It’s 2006 – I’m several years into ‘taking over the family business’ and I am fighting an uphill battle in my personal and professional life.

 

Without going into too much detail ~

  • I was married in an extremely toxic relationship
  • Was raising 3 step daughters on and off throughout the years
  • Was the sole income earner in the household
  • Had DRAMA with my son’s father – court/custody battle – I believe the quote was “I am an unfit mother because I work on the weekends” – PS – Zero child support was coming my direction
  • Was trying to prove to my mother that she had not made a wrong decision in placing me in charge
  • Was fighting my mother’s long term business associates tooth and nail to grow the business even to the point where I almost quit (I gave my mother an ultimatum in 2007… and even then the choice was NOT obvious)

I share this NOT to put my business out in the street but to illustrate that anything is possible!  If I can be transparent about things I am ashamed of…. YOU should be able to accept who you are, where you are currently at in life, and live to your fullest potential!

I have a few colleagues that I tell on a regular…. You are smarter than me, you are savvier, you have gifts I don’t have…. You can far surpass any of my accomplishments if you just follow through with a strategic plan.  Nothing frustrates me more than wasted talent :/

Thanks to social media…. most people only see me whirling and twirling around with bandas and musicos at my house with champagne bottles popping LOL.  I try to explain that is the result of decades of work, heartbreak, and many struggles!

My son knows…. he saw it ALL – And Thank God he forgives me and accepts and celebrates me for my honest intentions and efforts.

I am hoping through these historical accounts, my hustle is respected that much more. When I speak, when I propose solutions…. I’m not just talking out of my ass ~  It comes from a whole lot of trial and error, crazy and diverse life experiences, and DECADES of scratching and clawing my way to achieve something extraordinary and live an honorable and meaningful life.

I often times wonder what my life would be if I were supported, taught, or told kind and encouraging words.  Would I have been useless and entitled?  Or would I have thrived even more?

I’m using this platform with the hope to inspire and create value to any and everyone who is striving to be their personal best ~ I’m also hoping it strengthens my current relationships with those who haven’t had the opportunity to meet the REAL ME ~ #dropsmic

the strategy specialist amber anthony work horse vs show pony blog post

Work Horse vs. Show Pony

By | Strategy | No Comments

Within the next few weeks, this blog will have evolved from Amber’s Story (How It All Began) to practical and inspiring accounts of what’s happening now, what’s the plan for the next 15 years, and a strategic shift toward the mentoring/consulting projects that truly feed my soul.

Earlier in the year, I was doing some consulting for a dear friend who owns a nail salon.  She’s been in the business for 20 years, recently broke away from the family business and started her own, is a single mother of two, has a heart of gold, is incredibly talented at her craft, works 18 hours a day – every day, because that’s what you do when you start a business… even if you are 40 yrs old or have been doing it for 20 years….

Her gift is on the artistic side and because she is a one woman show, it’s difficult for her to manage all of the components of a small business.  For starters, it doesn’t come naturally to her: Advertising, Inventory, Acquiring New Talent, Quality Control….. Especially when you are are ‘work horse’ vs. the ‘show pony’.

Show ponies are a prized possession.  Workhorses pull the weight and do the gritty work.  They are like the offensive line and the show pony is like the quarterback.  No one stops to marvel at a workhorse.  They don’t get the endorsement deals, they just keep working.
Most want to be a show pony deep down ~ I’m still trying to figure it out for myself LOL

For many of us in business, this is a common thread.  You have to do EVERYTHING ~ Whether you want to or not, whether you are good at it or not.  There is no money to hire others to fill in those gaps.  And the saddest part of this reality is, that is what prevents you from scaling, as your efforts are focused on too many things; often time the mundane and time consuming tasks that DO NOT move the business forward.

That is where strategy comes in – I’ve been fortunate enough to have friends (direct competitors) in my industry and I have been able to study and identify what they did different than I and how they were able to scale their businesses faster and more efficiently. It’s been quite valuable in my professional growth because I can clearly see where I missed and/or capitalized on opportunities in comparison to my competitors.

The two biggest things that have held me back in my career were #1 Not evolving quickly enough into leadership and #2 Not believing in myself/caring what others thought.

My strategy has always been spot on – One thing I am truly proud of is the accuracy and positive outcomes from my Business Playbook.  It just took me a very long time to have the confidence to call those plays.

 

the strategy specialist amber anthony work horse vs show pony blog post

The message this Monday Morning….. If you’ve done the work and are confident in your analysis, PULL THE TRIGGER!  BELIEVE IN YOUR ABILITY TO WIN!

Double Down On Your Strengths

By | Strategy | No Comments

I have to get something off my chest…. recently I’ve been finding my voice… and using it (yikes).  I’m not good at it yet – some responses come out quite humble and respectful… others not so much.  I’ve heard from a few people including some that are VERY close to me say, “You think you’re all that” or “You think you’re smarter than everyone else” when I respond passionately about a subject that I am confident in.

Let me set the record straight (Exhibit A) LOL

I’m just going to let you marinate on this for a minute.

My SAT scores from 1993 – Thank GOD UNLV didn’t have admission requirements back then!

Those of you who have kids headed off to college would be mortified if they came home with this….

That being said… I learned early on that I was going to have to work harder and get creative in order to survive… so that’s what I did.

I actually get a little irritated when someone says… ‘Oh, she was able to do that because she’s smart.’  I’m sure that sounds ridiculous… I’m an odd duck.. I should take it as a compliment.

I guess I’m holding onto the struggle… the blood, sweat and tears (oh GOD so many tears – Hi, I’m a Cancer) when I  leveraged my hustle, critical thinking, and work ethic.  When I was willing to do more than anyone else, for less than anyone else… without complaining – and somehow BELIEVING… even though there was NO tangible proof that it would pay off some day!

Chalking it up to ‘being smart’, somehow in my mind, diminishes all of the EFFORT, SACRIFICE, STRATEGY, and CONSISTENCY that allows me to compete in the marketplace today.

And… because I don’t ever want to be IGNORANT about anything…. I literally study and have certificates in all kind of random things….

  • Completed 90 Hours of Real Estate Principles, Practices, Procedures, Laws and Ethics ­
  • Completed 45 Hours of Fundamentals of Real Estate Appraisal ­
  • Completed 45 Hours of Fundamentals of Real Estate Broker Management ­
  • Completed 20 Hours NMLS – National Comprehensive Mortgage Loan Originator Course
  • PROPTA – Certified Personal Trainer
  • Student of Timothy Sykes – World-Renowned Day Trader
You know – I do this in my spare time just for fun LOL
 
And… by creating this blog and a new platform to assist others in strategizing their lives and businesses… I have the privilege of learning more than I could ever imagine!
It’s uncomfortable showing the world who you are….but I am so excited that I found the courage to do so because I am already having incredible and meaningful interactions with AMAZING and TALENTED individuals who are ready to capitalize on their GREATNESS!

And those who truly know me know…. It is my ULTIMATE HAPPINESS to see OTHERS succeed against all odds!

Be Very Careful NOT To Take Your Bread & Butter For Granted

By | Finance | No Comments

Prioritizing and Time Management are KEY!  In fact… it’s the ONLY way you can get ahead of the pack.  It’s literally the make or break.

Anyone who works with me knows I am driven by metrics, time, productivity, and accuracy.  Literally, my day is mapped out in increments of time from most important to least important.

I have a full time job, a family, a social life (sort-of…. it’s more like my husband’s personal cheerleader and back-up dancer) – I give a great deal of my time to others i.e. strategizing operations, consulting, etc.  I’m a personal bookkeeper and personal assistant to a few of my dear friends LOL….

But the ONE thing I know for sure…. rain or shine… no matter what I have going on in my personal life or with my side hustle……

I BETTER DELIVER IN MY POSITION THAT FEEDS ME!  No matter how exciting of a project I have, no matter the next million $ idea I come up with…. THE MINUTE I STOP PRODUCING WILL BE THE MOMENT I FAIL.

I learned a LONG time ago that I am only valuable as long as I am producing….. End of Story – It doesn’t matter how great I think I am, whether I think I’m needed, whether I think someone will be understanding if my productivity decreases for this reason or that reason….  Business cannot sustain with bouts of poor performance no matter what the reason.  And if you’re an employee of a business, know that your employment will not continue with bouts of poor performance.

So now let’s talk about perception… Everyone is going to have an opinion of you…. whether it’s accurate or not… fair or not.  When I first started at the City of LV, I was a Court Clerk coming into a department with many tenured women at least 10 years my senior.  I quickly learned what was valued and managed to become employee of the month each and every month because it was ‘graded’ on how many customers were accurately served within a shift.  I discovered how to be quite efficient with the processes and month after month, my stats ranked me at the top.  Because I produced well over the expected amount, often times I would ‘log out’ and go to the bathroom, make a personal call in the break room, or reconcile my checkbook on company time.  My manager… who was NOT a fan, would attempt to write me up and I would kindly… well actually not very kindly (I was pretty cocky back then) say, “Please refer to the q matic report which clearly shows I out perform anyone on the floor.” Oh she hated me!  But I learned a valuable lesson.  When you make yourself invaluable and outperform your counterparts…. your job is pretty darn secure – And whatever the perception is…. you have legitimate proof that you are meeting the organization’s expectations that were set forth.

I’ve also experienced the opposite – It IS hard to juggle multiple things at once and sometimes people overextend themselves.  I’ve worked with many people whose intentions are honorable but because of poor planning or poor prioritization, things fall through the cracks and their performance suffers.  And when they’re called on the carpet, it turns into a dramatic and emotional scandal as if they’ve been unfairly targeted.  And the sad part is….they didn’t cover their ass to prove their productivity or job performance…. so in the midst of the ‘attack’ they flail without a leg to stand on….

Ladies and Gentleman… this is Strategy 101

  • Prioritize
  • Manage Your Time Accordingly
  • Produce and Make Sure It’s Documented
  • Outwork/Outperform Your Counterparts…. Especially if the ‘perception’ is that you have a side hustle that is taking priority, or take too many personal calls, or take too many days off, or whatever is potentially taking your focus off of your main responsibilities.
 
Never allow your reputation to be tarnished!  Maintain your personal integrity and be Thankful for Your Bread & Butter!

The Joys of Family Business

By | Entrepreneurship | No Comments

I am so delighted that my blog is allowing many of you to reach out and use me as a sounding board for many of your ideas you’ve been wondering about related to business and strategy!  A gentleman recently reached out to discuss his family business, which is prompting today’s post.  It is my honor to lend an ear and also provide valuable insight to your inquiries.

Let me share my experience –

Business in general is tough…. It just is –
But when you involve family and/or friends in business… that can take things to another level.
It’s like a marriage… very intimate and a LOT of compromise and work!
It gets even further complicated based on the hierarchy/corporate structure.  Are the family members/friends in the correct positions i.e. skill, experience, commitment?
Or did they just assign themselves prestigious leadership titles with nothing tangible to warrant the formal assignment of responsibility?
Is there any type of jealousy or dissension between family members/friends as to who is or isn’t ‘pulling their weight’ or wether they are honoring and acting in the best interest of the organization?
The list goes on and on… Im my case, during the early years, the shares within my organization were split 10%(me) 20% (silent partner/investor) 70% (my mother) and in regards to my role…
I’m not even sure I had an official title LOL –
And trust me when I tell you #frazzled #hangingonbytheseatofmypants or  #hotmessexpress would have been appropriate.
Over the years, as the company continued to grow, instead of taking any type of profit distribution, I would reinvest my profit to acquire more shares.  By year eight I was holding 30%.
Please note:  It  is very important in relation to my personal character and integrity to communicate, that even though I was an intricate part in growing the business, there was no inflated salary/bonus bestowed upon me that wasn’t earned nor were company shares handed to me just because I was family.
By the time I took full ownership of the business, I had to buy the remaining 70% at fair market value on a three year payment plan.
I mention this because in recent conversations with those who are involved in family or friend business partnerships…. there is an undertone of entitlement and unreasonable expectations… at least from my perspective – so take that for what it’s worth (wink).
Don’t misunderstand me – I applaud those who are lucky enough to be blessed in a family business who are given security and leniency without having actually earned it.
And on the flip side, many family businesses do not reach a level of profitability that honors all of the members fairly.  More common than not, there are many cases where a family member dedicates valuable time and loyalty to the family business and walks away many years later with great regret and lost opportunity.
In my current partnership, I am given a great deal of support and leniency, which I assure you is NOT taken for granted, because it wasn’t that long ago that I wasn’t able to take a pay check for three months out of the year to ensure the organization’s sustainability.
The advice I give most who are considering entering into a family/friend business arrangement –
DO NOT romanticize it!
PUT all of the pros and cons on a spreadsheet and have the difficult conversations about worst case scenarios which should include an exit strategy that is formalized.
Talk about a buzz kill…. My friends and family actually refer to me as the ‘dream crusher’ – lovingly I’m sure LOL
As a matter of fact, I was recently consulting with a young woman in our home and when she left my husband, who had heard bits and pieces,  said, ‘Great Amber, you just crushed all of her dreams… No way will she move forward now – you didn’t even give her a chance.’  I said ‘I was honest! Did you want me to lie to her? Hope for the best? The best RARELY happens!  I’m not going to have that on my conscience.  If she chooses to move forward after I gave her the list of impossibles… then she does so at her own risk – No Surprises – Intentional With Purpose – Level Headed.’
Remember… this advice comes from a risk manager/strategist lens and can be viewed as excessive or insensitive.
Look – I’m not a life coach or a motivational speaker… and I don’t get paid to guess –
Don’t get me wrong – I love to see others succeed so I will stay up all night… run every different scenario I can to solve a problem or operate a business at its optimum efficiency thinking all the way outside of the box!  I love to WIN as much as the next person and if I can figure out a viable solution… I will do so passionately with everything I’ve got!
And for those of you who HAVE gone through a business breakup or tragedy or better yet…. a divorce/custody battle (which is very similar in nature)….. Can I get an AMEN!
I’m sure you will agree that had you done the ‘work’ before entering into the relationship…. you would have been more aware, more grounded, and more prepared for when the rug got pulled out from under you.
It’s not being negative… It’s actually being proactive and honoring all parties by being open, honest, and vulnerable while the relationship is on the best of terms.
And at the end of the day, whether in a personal or business relationship… the goal is to enter and exit with the upmost humility and personal integrity all while honoring and being true to yourself.

What do you REALLY bring to the table AND does the other side VALUE it the SAME way YOU DO?

By | Finance, Leadership, Strategy | No Comments

This is a SUPER HOT topic that I HOPE generates a lot of internal conversation!  It’s been incredibly helpful in my personal and professional growth… not to mention my mental stability.

Every time I start to complain or pity myself or deflect responsibility…. I take the emotion out of it and analyze it!  Sometimes I discover it is my fault and I have control over the outcome.  Other times I discover that it is something I do not have control over so therefore I have to decide if I am going to accept it or move on.  Here is a funny example at my personal expense to set the stage for an open and honest dialogue intended to inspire you to look at your life as it is currently and access what it will take for you to achieve happiness.

Women… we are competitive by nature.  Anytime we get in a new relationship we have done all of the investigating on ex’s, current interests etc. so we can ‘measure’ where we stand.  Hell…. if we spent that kind of energy strategizing our professional lives…. we could take over the world in a heartbeat!

Oh and gentleman…. you can thank me privately…. ’cause I’m about to blow your mind and illustrate a behind the scenes account as to the  levels of CRAZY women are.

Here is the problem… as we go down the list…. she has this, I have this, she does this I do that…..
We FORGET to add the most important part – WHAT DOES THE OTHER PARTY VALUE?

Here goes a visual for your viewing pleasure (please note – I have actually completed this exercise many times and it took many years for me to figure out it was worthless until I added the third column) SMH

Yellow indicates what I value.  Blue indicates what HE values….

Literally, I could be twirling from the ceiling with gold dust coming out of my ass i.e. degrees, promotions, growing savings account …… over there thinking I’m REALLY doing something but guess what?

HE DOESN’T VALUE IT!  So…. according to the chart…. Unless I am willing to get a better body, become more spontaneous and sexually adventurous…… I don’t stand a chance because our VALUES are NOT in alignment!

So… NOW let’s apply this to CAREER STRATEGY (see table below)

I’ve been in this situation a million times and Lord knows I am a patient woman…..
Sometimes it works to my advantage… other times… it results in missed opportunity.  So this exercise is incredibly important and SHOUD be applied and AUDITED on a regular basis….

REMEMBER – Time is precious…. you will never get it back…. And there is nothing worse than being my age knowing that I COULD HAVE made changes…. I knew better….. and I didn’t cut my losses quickly enough.

Out of 11 Possible Qualities – Only 4 Match

Do you see the problem here?

So – when you find yourself in this situation…. you can to do the following:

  • Make sure your list is as honest as possible on both sides.  You can even take it a step further and group qualities together by most important, somewhat important etc.
  • Making sure this framework is as precise as possible before taking it to the analysis level will be key – so if you’re going to do this exercise… don’t half ass it – make it as detailed as possible because in all honestly…. your life, your future, your happiness, and your peace of mind depends on it!  Allow a second and third set of eyes to review it so YOU can also be held accountable – You know… we often times believe the lies we tell ourselves (another blog post about that coming soon LOL)
  • Decide if you are willing to evolve and showcase the qualities that your employer values
  • Make sure that IF you decide to do that, that it’s not moving you out of your authenticity because (a) it won’t be believable and (b) it will only make you bitter and resentful even if you can ‘fake it’.
  • Document what you think the outcome will be IF you do make strategy adjustments and do a quarterly check in to determine if you hypothesis is correct.

PS – This is also a valuable exercise for employees who are wanting to quantify their ‘worth’ as they climb the organizational ladder –

Fortunately or unfortunately… this way of thinking comes naturally to me.

Because of it…. I have no friends LOL and I’m NOT very fun and spontaneous…. Unless I’m drunk… which is why my husband has me on a champagne or vodka drip LOL…. but not really a LOL  – because that’s a true story.
What I can tell you is that I am at the extreme to the far right with these principles….
Most people are to the left of the center because this way of thinking isn’t taught in school which is incredibly unfortunate.
Give it a try… and I am happy to help set up up the table for you!  I’m telling you…. if you look at life in this fashion…. it REALLY helps with accountability, honesty and transparency…  I’ve set up a table like this to define my expectations for my son and my husband… It just is what it is…. and as long as you’re honest with yourself when creating it… Its a quick reference for when values, expectations, and deliverables start to shift… It allows for a platform to resolve tough issues respectfully and with honor.

Take Me As I Am

By | About Amber | No Comments

This is a quick follow-up post to dovetail off of the frameworks and tools I shared yesterday.  I was introduced to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in my Psych 101 class back when I was 18 years old.

For some strange reason…. it resonated with me.  And over the years, I often refer to it anytime I am trying to figure out whether a certain situation is meeting my current needs.

Currently, I am motivated by ONE thing in my professional life (right side) –
Challenging Job/Achievement and Advancement – Why just the One? .. Well my logic is, if you achieve that, then everything below falls right into place.

A few years ago… my self esteem was heavily tied to work relations i.e. needing to be validated and appreciated… It actually was my #1 Need (smh).  Thankfully I have evolved and matured emotionally to a point where it isn’t much of a factor anymore, which allows me to operate at an optimal level based on logic, patterns, and professional intuition.

Don’t get me wrong, those of you who know me can attest to the fact that I am committed and devoted to supporting others in the work environment; always making myself available in hopes of adding value to a colleague’s life both personally and professionally.

But just like anything, personal relationships even at work…. can get personal, at which point expectations on both sides can splash into a ‘casual/friendly’ grey area, which often times is NOT healthy for business operations long term.

…which is why I highly recommend using the charts from my previous blog post!
(shameless plug)

Much of my younger audience will probably debate me on that point, as they are living in an era of a very nurturing and forgiving corporate culture sprinkled with lunches, team building, play time (on company time) and a great allowance for excuses with tons of opportunity for ‘another chance’….

I’m struggling with this concept, as I have not yet figured out a healthy balance between making everyone feel GREAT and running an efficient operation, where at times… sacrifices have to be made and standards have to be met.

And truth be told… as much as I appear to force logic and structure…. I actually have a VERY HIGH EQ (Emotional Intelligence)…. which nowadays… I hear is a GOOD THING lol….  

THANK GOD I have a quality that is FINALLY ‘in style’…. A mere 2 years ago, I may have been accused of being ineffective because I was ‘too nice’ or ‘too empathetic’ or ‘too invested’ LOL (that’s actually a true story).

Here’s what I know for sure… and I can only speak from my personal experience – For those few individuals who have been with me 3+ years who I do have a ‘personal’ relationship with at work…. they will tell you – we have a shared google doc that outlines our business and personal relationship line by line, year by year.  We have annual check ins to ensure that everything is on track, and at anytime if something gets out of sync on either side… we both open up our document and have a conversation as to whether the current ‘arrangement’ is meeting one anthers needs ranging from –

Is it a salary issue?  Do they want more Paid Time Off? Is their current role challenging enough OR is it too taxing? Are they shifting priorities in their home life?  Do they feel appreciated? Have they been overlooked for a position? Do they feel they’ve outgrown the position or the company?

No Lie… I actually work with people on an exit strategy if they’ve identified that they want to move on – with full support and enthusiasm!

It took me a while to realize that we are NOT all motivated by the same things at the same time.  Thankfully, I’ve been able to apply this to the rearing of my son as well.  And just like anything… sometimes a relationship comes to an impasse where the needs cannot be met on both sides.

And that’s ok too!  Rule #1 You will not succeed in ANYTHING unless you know who you are, why you are doing it and what you expect to get out of it.

SELF AWARENESS my friends…

It took me 40 years to get here!  And even though I’m losing my beauty, heavier than I’ve ever been, hair thinning… all the superficial things we fixate on…. I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO CONFIDENT!

A song I used to play on HEAVY ROTATION… Mary J Blige – Take Me As I Am….

I sang the words but didn’t believe them in my heart at that time…..

Well just know, thanks to some self introspection, some strategy and follow through that has resulted in a pretty impressive/stable track record in business efficiency and profitability….Along with finding my voice and being able to communicate my expectations  without feeling awkward….

It’s NOW your girl’s anthem! (better late than never)

Know who you are! Own it!  Communicate it! Work your ass off! Stand out like the Superstar you are!  And Believe! …. If it’s meant to be… it will be! <3 

If you live for people’s acceptance, you will die from their rejection

By | About Amber | No Comments

Prior to starting this blog, I decided to summarize my life on a timeline to illustrate the various nuances that were occurring over the past two decades to illustrate a point to my best friend, who has been around for the past 6 or 7 years but didn’t witness the struggle first hand.

I remember when I sent it over to her she said quite sarcastically, ‘I get it *deep breath/eyeroll*
You worked all day and all night, sacrificing, saving, strategizing…..’
LOL – She hates me… And though I don’t do it any more – just to annoy her – I texted her at 6:30 am every morning and say – Gym Done. Laundry Done. Swept and Vacuumed. Heading to Work.  *crickets*

Presenting my life accounts with some humor is intentional because much of the content exposes the most vulnerable parts of who I am.

However, I feel it is critical to disclose the facts because it truly speaks to conflict resolution, strategy, course correction, and perseverance.

And as I review this table I realize… a day late and a dollar short btw… That for the past 20 years,  I was disproportionately living to please others.

The highlighted fields indicate the times when I was engaged in activities that brought me joy and inspired hope.

The unhighlighted fields….. Well they represent times of insecurity, fear, disappointment in myself and others… It was a VERY sad and lonely time.

I honestly felt like I had the world on my shoulders and it wasn’t my imagination – my son, mother, sister, significant other, step children…. From the age of 24 to present, the roofs over our head, the food we eat… our overall financial well being ultimately relies on the sustainability of a business that I am 100% responsible for.

Then add in the fact that I just LOVE to complicate my life for no apparent reason …. It truly is a wonder I was able to stay afloat.

Truth be told…. If you knew me during those years, you remember the sadness and despair.  Very FEW people know the REAL story… I’ll just say I have always had the power to change the things that did not honor me and I must accept responsibility for my inaction.

Even to this day I struggle with setting boundaries in relationships – personal and professional.
Thankfully even during the darkest of times, I held onto logic and just kept progressing – whether it was continued learning or pursing business opportunities… even though I didn’t believe I was even worthy…. I knew I had to overcome and prove to my son with my actions that ANYTHING is possible!

Let me tell you… when I ran from Vegas (literally) – I woke up in my new house in Laguna Beach the following morning and went out on the balcony and sobbed.  I was terrified….

Terrified of Failing….. Terrified of Succeeding….. Terrified of Living My Own Life

Incredibly Grateful

By | Entrepreneurship | No Comments

I’ve been struggling with a title for this post because nothing could truly describe a decade long relationship with a young woman who has experienced me first hand through much of my professional growth.

Since I started blogging, it’s been kind of fun because people will contact me and we will dialogue in detail about their memories as it relates to my posts.  This whole process has been incredibly nostalgic and humbling for me.

My beautiful Cierra, 10 years my junior, joined Rainbow 10 years ago in Las Vegas, NV.  Though we had a break for about 2 1/2 years when I transitioned to California, I was lucky enough that she agreed to relocate to California… even though my colleague stole her from me LOL.

When Cierra first joined me,  I was a one woman show and spread incredibly thin.  The value she created in my personal and professional life remains invaluable.  She and I worked 7 days/80 hrs per week during our Competition Tour (approx 20 weeks out of the year) for many years.  We worked our assess off back in those days…. loaded and unloaded trucks, carried and laid marley floors, opened every single box of awards, and when I had to run onstage to host the awards ceremonies, she would relieve me at the merchandise booth…. we had a skeleton crew so there were NO floaters… those were AMAZING TIMES!  We were #LIVING

We have it so easy now in comparison – How far we’ve come!  I’ve never told her this… but there have been a few occasions that I wish I had been a stronger role model (my personal life was in shambles) for her.  Especially when I started planning the Rainbow takeover – She for sure would have been my 50/50 partner.  Both of our lives were complicated back then – and I’m sure everything worked out for a reason as she has a healthier work/life balance than I.

No matter how hard you try…. the more you work, the more your personal life suffers.  Most people just don’t understand.  But Cierra and I are cut from the same cloth in that our work is heavily tied to our self worth.  It is a choice – and it has its price.  Because I do feel some regret as mentioned above, a recent conversation she and I were having gave me some peace when she said, “Amber, you couldn’t pay me to deal with the types of issues you do.”

And even though my life is 10 times easier today than it was even 5 years ago…. at the end of the day, it’s all good when it’s good – but when it’s bad…. there is so much too lose!  You have to have a strong character to ride the waves in business – If the market isn’t your biggest critic then economic constriction will determine how good you really are!

Like I mentioned, Cierra doesn’t work alongside me anymore, as her role has expanded and she now has her own direct reports.  I am incredibly proud of her growth and patience – trusting the process. Had she not supported me the way she did way back when…. I don’t know how I would have navigated through those rough times.

Cheers to the last ten years and many more to come!

 

Teaching Dance ~A Brave and Honorable Profession

By | Dance Studio/Teacher | No Comments

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to have the ability to reach out to Dance Studio Owners/Teachers nationwide to provide consulting, resources, and support in a greater capacity than I have done casually over the last decade.

I didn’t understand the true role of a dance teacher/studio owner until my early 30’s.  I think I tried to block all of the memories of growing up in a dance studio.  Now when I see pictures of my childhood in the studio, it brings a smile to my face, however, had you asked me my opinion of dance studio ownership and teaching in my 20’s, I would NOT have been so nostalgic.

I remember vividly the day to day operations of the studio.  I was wise far beyond my years even then and somehow understood the strategy that was needed to stay afloat.  Now having run a dance competition for 15 years and had the privilege of forming incredible relationships with teachers and studio owners all over the country, it has been my pleasure to provide insight and recommendations in hopes that they will apply them and reap the benefits of their hard work.

It is common knowledge that teachers are underpaid…. The media speaks to this and politicians advocate for reform in our educational system.

I have dissected many studio business models and have made some SHOCKING discoveries that I’ve always known instinctively… but once it was placed on paper, with real numbers and ZERO emotion…. I realized the choice to be a Dance Teacher/Studio Owner is a BRAVE and HONORABLE one!

I hope to expand upon my findings in many posts to come that will be beneficial to a wide audience, but would like to introduce some concepts as food for thought:

Tuition varies by region, however, the average per class rate per student is $14.38.
The average # in students in each class is 7
1 hour class = 7x$14.38 = $100.66
A Teacher earns anywhere from $25-$50 per hour to teach a 1 hour class
In this scenario, the Studio Owner is left with anywhere from $50-$75 per class which is used to pay Rent, Utilities, Insurance, Advertising, Administration Salaries, Programs, Equipment, Taxes, Ect.

Most Studios only have 29 classes in the Main Studio Room during any given week IF it is operating Monday thru Sunday, which is usually NOT the case.

After you pay all of the fixed expenses with the $1365 net per week (as seen in the table below).. what is left for the Studio Owner unless they are teaching the majority of the classes (which is usually the case)?

And if the Studio Owner is teaching the majority of the classes…. then who is running the business? Who is keeping the books, reconciling the tuition payments, marketing to attract new clients, planning competitions, recitals, costumes, and innovating new programs?

When you look at this visual, it becomes crystal clear why Most Studio Owners have financial concerns.  And what’s even MORE heartbreaking is that in the traditional education system, teachers go to school for 4-5 years to earn a salary that is FAR greater and more stable than that of a Dance Teacher who spends their ENTIRE LIFE dedicated to perfecting their craft, who then gives of themselves… selflessly…. mind, body, and soul to our youth – the future stars of tomorrow.

I am excited and honored that many of you have reached out and are allowing me the opportunity to study your current business model so that I may provide insight and value that are in alignment with your goals!

I will continue to share information as it relates to the industry in my particular area of expertise which is finance and operations.

And please know…. this is my gift to YOU! Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions big or small!

Occasionally, the most incredible message is delivered in the most unexpected way

By | Strategy | No Comments

It wasn’t until I met my husband until I realized how f*c^e# up I was.  Because of my integrity, work ethic, and character… I always thought I was the pick of the litter and placed myself on quite a pedestal in that regard.  I knew I had my flaws… which I deemed to be superficial i.e. physical.  But on the ‘important’ stuff… I always gave myself a 10!

When we first started dating, I had a fancy new BMW 640 Gran Coupe that I was leasing… for whatever reason, literally once a week, the check engine light, or tire pressure light, or maintenance light would go on.   It was so annoying because I would take it to the dealership who would reset the light, apologize, and send me on my way.  After a while, I just ignored the lights whether it was a legitimate issue or not.

One evening, my husband aka ‘Papi Chulo’ was trying to make a point regarding my emotional instability and says, “Amber, you are like your BMW:  The world goes ooohhhhh   aaaahhhhh looking from the outside…  but the truth is they don’t know that the check engine light is on”.

Who Says That? 

And let me tell you…. the first few years with my very direct husband, who pretty much tells it like it is with no filter…. did not mince any words regardless if it hurt my feelings or not.  Luckily I survived that motivational speaking boot camp and would like to share some of my takeaways:

  • Don’t lie to yourself.
  • Don’t feel sorry for yourself.
  • Don’t believe words – allow actions to prove true authenticity.
  • If you do a favor for someone, demand that favor is returned at some point.  Do not allow a relationship of any kind to become lopsided, as entitlement and resentment will follow.

Well…. all of these ‘tips’, though familiar to many, are often not practiced.  For me, I didn’t have the self esteem or courage to do so.  And… sometimes IT IS hard to enforce and demand respect and common courtesy from others….  Difficult conversations have to be had and often times relationships perish that are not in alignment with mutual respect and admiration – and frankly that’s scary for someone who has abandonment or co-dependence issues.

As I look back on my life….. I have been selling myself at a huge discount!  SMH – Just dishonoring my worth and potential!  For YEARS AND YEARS!  I marvel at what I was able to accomplish in this state of mind honestly… Talk about being NOT PRESENT!

And let me tell you… now that I’ve figured out (finally) how much time, opportunity, and energy I lost: When a friend or colleague approaches me and shares anything that I deem to be ‘weak’ or ‘self pity’, I coach and counsel them them just the way my husband did me!  It’s intense, they’re often offended, there have been some tears and probably anger (at me)…. But knowing what I know now, I would be doing a disservice to another by NOT being truthful.

 (Please note: My husband is available for motivational speaking engagements… sign up at your own risk!) LOL

A few weeks ago, my friend of 18 years called me mid-day in a panic – All hell was literally breaking loose.  She has always been my rock – the stronger of us two – so I wasn’t prepared to hear panic and emotion in her voice.  I immediately kicked into advocacy mode as said: Ok, don’t panic, this situation is NOT ideal but I see a way it can be spun into a positive!  The window of opportunity is very narrow, so time is of the essence, but if you take advantage of this horrible circumstance, you will  for sure be able to capitalize!”

We got off the phone and a few days later I went to spend some one on one time with her… 2 days in when we were waking up, she says, “Amber… I was so shocked at your response in my moment of desperation I didn’t even know what to say.  You were all calm and collected talking about turning a negative into a positive and I’m over here like HELLO!  Crisis 911!  Who the F does that?”  She made fun of me reenacting it for about 30 minutes while we laughed so hard we cried.

I’ve always been pretty strong and level headed when it comes to helping others… And for myself, I put on a huge front for the public and broke down in silence…. very few knew – BECAUSE… we are all being judged!  And no one wants to associate or do business with someone who is unstable.

It’s incredibly lonely and shameful.

*WARNING* The tricky part for me is… now that I’ve discovered my voice, which can be unfiltered when I’m offended, is how do I stabilize my reactions?  Swinging from one end of the pendulum to the other can be pretty scary and erratic.  Sometimes I have an out of body experience when I am reacting out of character (in comparison to the old Amber)…. I often times realize it by the look on the other person’s face and I’m like ‘Oh shit! That was not professional or politically correct at all!’

And then I begin to audit myself and debate whether it was necessary or how could I have handled it differently?  It’s a TON of course correction… and often times you just have to keep trying until you get the outcome you are looking for.

One of my biggest CURRENT weaknesses is the inability to politic.  I’m HORRIBLE at it!  It’s all smoke and mirrors floating on a bed of deception… And for someone like me who thinks in columns and has to reconcile to ZERO (truth) , I can’t wrap my head around abstract accounts that don’t add up.

So as I figure out solution a for that….. One thing is for sure… I am proud that I am standing up for what is right and just in relation to how I allow people to treat me.  By honoring myself, I no longer feel that disappointment and shame.  And as a bi-product of living my truth, I feel hope, optimism, and peace, which is incredibly liberating…. and hopefully inspiring!

I used to watch GI Jane over and over in the early 2000’s and loved the quote from Master Chief.   I wanted so desperately to apply it to my life but couldn’t quite figure it out 🙁

‘I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A bird will fall frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself’

2017 and a Papi Chulo later….. I finally have my wish!

E Payments – Merchant Processing Is Scary!

By | Finance | No Comments

Do you remember the good old days when all of your payments were either check or cash and it was in hand and could be documented the old fashioned way?

I felt so in control… there was a file, a photo copy, a ‘paid’ stamp on the invoice.  So many checks and balances…. And then, technology evolves…. and the world of providing convenience to our customers is not an option but an expectation…..

And for my Dance Studio Owners… you quickly embrace the change because everyone says you have to and in your mind you believe this is going to be a game changer…. No more Sally, chained to the front desk accepting tuition payments and generating receipts (YES!).

And before you know it, you’re filling out merchant applications, signing up for gateways (what is a gateway anyway), or even better, there is an automatic merchant relationship with your existing software (Thank Goodness! They for sure have your best interests at heart!)

And AWAY you go!  Money In… Money Out…. Your bookkeeper is just reconciling your Quick Books or Quicken Account according to the bank statement…. This is so much better? Right?

Well what I am sure most haven’t done – and I say this only because it took me YEARS to figure it out and even understand the terms….  Is REALLY dissect and audit the Merchant Statement.

Bankcard Rate
Amex Rate (if applicable)
Statement Fee
Internet Service Fee
AVS Fee
PCI Non-Validation Fee

Or even better….. the ‘accidental charges’ due to human error

Even now, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around all of this.  Between the bank statements, the credit card statements, the merchant statements…. line by line…. tracking any and everything…. My errors, their errors, outside fraud!  It’s a full time job!  And as a small business owner… we have all the time in the world to become experts in finance right?  Or better yet… pay someone $75-$150 an hour to put the financial pieces of our lives together and connect the dots….

If any of this resonates with you…. may I offer two solutions –

#1  Feel free to reach out to me personally with your challenges and I would be happy to make recommendations (No Charge of Course) amberasandoval@gmail.com –

#2 Reach out to an amazing merchant services advocate who has saved thousands of dollars for many in the dance industry (I’ve heard direct testimony from a colleague) and who also took the time at NO CHARGE to review all of my merchant accounts recently and gave me incredible feedback and peace of mind.

Phil Hinke is a former merchant services provider, now merchant customer advocate!  His website is a wealth of information…. but if you don’t have the time to digest it all and/or don’t feel confident with the terms and processes…. shoot him an email and he will do the analysis for you and break it down in simple terms with direct action items!

Phil Hinke
Founder & President
MerchantFeeSavers, LLC
800 379 0412
623 340 4596
phil@merchantfeesavers.com

www.merchantfeesavers.com

Remember…. If you are processing $90,000 a year in credit cards….
And are paying 3.5% plus fees = $3150 + fees…

Just imagine what 2.5% plus reduced fees = $2250 + reduced fees

That’s quite a savings ($900 annually + additional savings on fees)

It’s worth the time to email.  It’s worth it to have peace of mind.  You owe it to yourself to be in control of your business and have the knowledge and the power to negotiate terms that are in YOUR best interest!

When You’re At Your Lowest Point

By | About Amber | No Comments

So there I was… 25 yrs old, brand new baby boy, still estranged from my family (my doing), relationship with my son’s father in shambles…. The only thing going right for me (as per usual) was my professional career.  I had a great shift, making prevailing wages, worked well with management, had a great time with my co-workers making them laugh with my customer service tactics aka schmoozing LOL (we worked in the county jail with inmates and their frustrated family members who had to bail them out).

I mean… life was good – I didn’t have very high standards back then… but somehow I was able to pay the mortgage, daycare, car note, and still make my minimum payment on my JC Penney card (oh how simple life was).  My son and I had healthcare (huge deal), my son had a big boy race car bed in his Elmo room…. what more could I have asked for?

My mother was running the dance competition Rainbow Connection – I didn’t know much about it, other than I knew her gross annual income, and I had far surpassed that years before.  I did not know at the time that she needed double hip surgery so her boyfriend, now husband, called a meeting with me to present a once in a lifetime opportunity.

So you understand the power of this sales pitch… I must inform you that my mom’s husband was one of the TOP REALTORS IN HAWAII in the 70’s.  You want to talk about finesse… That man is smooth as silk.  I laugh now because in the first few years of me accepting the proposition, I honestly felt bamboozled.  However, that decision 15 years ago has paid off more than I could have ever imagined and I am incredibly grateful that he was so persuasive.

There were two reasons that led me to quit my county job, abandon my security, take a pay cut, learn an entirely new skill set, and work my ass off every day of the week all hours of the day for years!

#1  I was tired of being predictable and stable and needed to end my personal relationship so I figured if I did something crazy… he would run the other direction (it worked by the way).

#2  My step-father’s sales pitch was so powerful it made me question everything about myself such as: Why am I taking the safe route? Why don’t I believe I can do more? Why don’t I believe I deserve more? Why are my standards so low? Why do I want to work with inmates in a dungeon (that was the best one) ~

Literally the next day… all that I had dreamed of ~ all that I had hoped for ~ I walked away from.  I gave my two week notice and started working in my mother’s basement figuring out Rainbow Connection, which at the time had 3 partners, had been reincorporated 2-3 times since its inception due to financial instability, no assets (we leased the copy machine and the truck), 3 mortgages on my mother’s house, and an outstanding debt of around 200k to one of the partners.

Looking back now as I write this… WHAT THE F*#@^ WAS I THINKING?
I guess I love a challenge LOL

Everything Has Its Price

By | Strategy | No Comments

Over the past 3 weeks or so, I have been very sensitive to how the greatest resources on the planet affects the quality of our lives.

TIME and HEALTH

And true to my nature, I have been trying to determine whether or not I am truly valuing those resources, which has me reevaluating my own strategies past and present.

I have a lot of friends and associates who have been blessed with little ones recently.  I watch them vicariously through social media and marvel at how fortunate they are to have so much time with their children.  A smile comes to my face… but then in an instant, tears begin to fall uncontrollably….  I had my son on a Saturday morning and I went back to work on Tuesday.  At the time I hadn’t accumulated any paid time off and if I took time off work without pay, I would also lose our health insurance.

I look back now and wonder…. did I make the right choice?  Did I have alternative options? Could I have downsized and lived off my savings for a few months?

Knowing what I know now…. and the pain this admission brings me 17 years later… It’s very hard to admit that I made a mistake.  I would have done it differently.  Even if it meant starting over at another job… Even if it meant having no safety net….

Knowing how strong and capable I am – I could have started from scratch…. But my 24 year old self didn’t know that yet – So… I did the only thing I know how to do which is hustle and provide by any means necessary regardless of the cost in my personal life.

I am working on a financial strategy for dear friend who is retiring from serving 30 years in the public sector and expanding her existing consulting business.  Our first conversation was all about the numbers, total income, insurance costs, tax liability etc.  All very easy to plan –

But then I said – You have two minor children and some very important health concerns that you should be addressing.  They need to be included in the strategy – from a cost and time perspective.

When you put your life on a spreadsheet…. you can manipulate daily activities and then quickly determine if your planning and output are in alignment with your goals.

Example: I have maybe 10 more industrious years where I can #slay
And at the same time, I have my son who is the ONLY reason I wake up with passion and determination and I have a husband who I ADORE.

It’s easy to get caught up in life –  And when you write down what you THINK you’re doing vs. what you ARE ACTUALLY doing…. well… it can be a real shock!

Recently, I discovered that MY OWN ACTIONS were NOT MATCHING MY INTENT…
So…. I had to get back to basics… PUT A PLAN TOGETHER AND EXECUTE!

Instead of rambling on…. allow me to illustrate my point –
Let’s just say that the GOAL is as follows:
WORK/INCOME – 50%
KIDS – 30%
ME TIME 10%
SOCIAL 10%

I color coded ‘like’ activities – Based on the schedule…. Does it match the goal?

It’s pretty close – And of course there are variables –  But if you start with a template such as this…. You can really dissect and identify where you are spending your time.  And…. you can get your kids and spouse involved to make sure everyone is aware and working toward the same goal…. and more importantly –

 
LIVING THEIR DREAM BY EXECUTING IN A MANNER THAT HONORS THEIR TRUTH

What’s cool about this framework is it can modified at any given time as your priorities and goals change… It’s very empowering knowing that you have complete control over your output and contribution!

I so wish I had this skill/knowledge when I was younger…. I would have shifted the boxes around in a completely different manner! Hindsight is 20/20…. But I share this tool with you in hopes that YOU believe me when I tell you…. Time and Health…. you can’t put a price on it – So please do what you can to make every moment count!

Take the time to define what is important in your life and work diligently to live with purpose!