Day One: The voice inside my head

Many times I have heard the voice inside my head and done one of three things, ignored it, argued with it or believed it.  What is the voice inside my head and what does it represent?  I’ve decided to do some self discovery and find out. In writing about my experience, I hope to understand the voice inside my head and figure out how to give this voice a rest. Do you want to give the voice inside your head a rest?

BREN_0102What are some of the thoughts that produce the voice inside my head? Right now, I am hearing the voice create say what I should right next.  This is very helpful when I don’t want to say it out loud. Other times, the voice has been a distractor to what I was doing. For example, I was reading a book the other day and then I started to hear a voice in my head,  “You should check your email” or “You should look at job positions to see what you qualify to do” or “Those dishes aren’t going to wash themselves”. The voice was distracting me from what I really wanted to focus on. I recognize the voice because it is saying things that I am familiar with.  The voice has repeat phrases of the past. In some dark moments, the voice says “You can’t do that”, “You’re not good enough” “What were you thinking?” I have decided to journal some of the phrases that I hear the voice say and see if there are patterns that emerge.  I can explore and determine if this voice is truly me or not. Do you see patterns for the voice in your head?

One thing I know for sure, the voice makes me feel better or worse depending on what’s happening at the time.  If I am seeing a beautiful sunrise, the voice says “That is so beautiful, I am so happy” and this seems to match my emotion.  As I step out the door in 20 degree weather, I can hear the voice say “It’s cold” and then I will talk to the voice and say “Only a few more steps to the car and I’ll get my heater going”.  So, I can talk to the voice inside my head to feel better. Sometimes the voice says “Typical, you lost your job” “You’ll never be good enough” and then I picture people or instances that support the voice and I don’t argue with the voice.  As a result, I feel depressed and it takes me a while to find happiness again.

The commotion that the voice causes definitely produces problems in my life.  The problems are distraction, fear, and depression. I need to explore these problems and find a solution. By reading my blog, you will get to share my journey of figuring out how to rest the voice inside my head.

What voices do you hear?  Are they the same as mine?  Do you argue with yourself?  Is the voice really you? I’d love to hear your opinion.

Do you think Confessions are Not for You? Here’s How to Make Confession a Word You Live By.

ConfessionIn an ideal world, we would avoid stuff that we felt like we had to keep secret in the first place.  In the real world, we all do things we are not proud of and it’s hard to find the right moment to confess those things to the people who need to hear it. When I googled the word “confession” to do my research there were a lot of religious articles on how to do a “confession”.  There was even a You Tube video showing how you should do a confession in a church.  And last but not least,  a wiki article that explained the steps for what to say and what to do during a “confession”.  As you will see in my research, confession does not have to be strictly formal religious act but it can be how we grow and build relationships.  Confession teaches us about forgiveness and grace.

When you take look at “confession” and the definition, it is essentially a statement that you make to admit to a crime. However, confession can also be in a positive light where you are confessing your love for someone.  I think restricting the definition to just the admission of a crime or a religious act is too limiting.  Confession of love or appreciation for someone can be a great experience and can create intimacy for both people in a relationship.

Is it good to confess everything to someone? Maybe, maybe not. I’ve read that confession is good for the soul.  People who go to confession on a regular basis talk about how it is incredibly powerful to hear the words of absolution. The benefits on a personal level when you go to confession are receiving grace, and being able to have a new beginning.  This is great for the soul but does this type of confession change the behavior you went to confession for in the first place?  Where does real change begin so you don’t repeat the same “sin” over and over again?  According to this article, full confessions are better than partial confessions to help a person move on with their lives and not experience the negative results of extreme guilt. Why Confessing is Good for You but it is not a guarantee for changing behavior.

If you decide to confess a secret, here are a few good tips to consider before doing so:

  • Think about whether or not it is worth the risk. Is this relationship important enough for you to be honest, no matter the cost.
  • Think about what you would say to them, prepare your script ahead of time.
  • Be prepared to work on the inevitable loss of trust.
  • Think about how the other person will feel. Put yourself in their shoes.

Confession whether it is for religious reasons, or to ease your mind from guilt, or to confess your love for someone, there is a common theme that emerges. There is a high amount of risk in doing so. The complex reality of confessing secrets is that you need to pick your moment, your audience, and the right circumstances to shine light in the dark place.

If we don’t risk, then we miss out on the rewards. The rewards could be a new relationship. It could be a new beginning so you can change your behavior and become more of the person you want to be. Consider confession as your word to live by this week. Let me know what happens.

Boost Your Life and Live it Wholehearted. It’s a Proven Word to Live By.


How do you live a wholehearted life?  This was the question posed to me as I started listening to Brene’ Brown’s audio book called “The Gifts of Imperfection”.  I was actually surprised because I thought this book was going to be about how to deal with my imperfections. My first thought was “Wow! How in the heck do you accomplish that?!” As listened each day, chapter by chapter, I realized that living a wholehearted life is a daily commitment to being your authentic self and including some challenging soul work. There are several key elements to a wholehearted life that surprised me. Brown has what she calls 10 guideposts to practice a wholehearted life.  These guideposts are: authenticity; self-compassion; resilient spirit; gratitude and joy; intuition and trusting faith; creativity; play and rest; calm and stillness; meaningful work; and laughter, song and dance. In this post, I will share of few of my favorites in more detail with you. Hopefully you will be inspired.

What is the definition of a wholehearted life? When I think of wholehearted, I think of living with passion and determination every day.  However, Brene’ Brown describes it like this:

“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. Brene’ Brown Tweet this. It means cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, no matter what gets done, and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, yes I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid but that doesn’t change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.” Brene’ Brown Tweet this.

She points out we live in a culture of exhaustion and perfectionism. We are constantly comparing and we feel unworthy.  Is this constant bombardment of comparison and feeling of unworthiness a good determinate of your accomplished life? Are you living wholeheartedly and do you have happiness?

Authenticity.  Isn’t being an authentic person behaving the same way at home, as you do at work?  What I discovered through Brene’ Brown’s book is that in order to live authentic and wholeheartedly,  I need to accept my imperfections, create boundaries, and believe I am enough.  I don’t know about you, but I only have 1 out of 3 of those done… maybe.  It’s so difficult to believe I am enough. There are so many outside influences that tell you, you’re not.  It takes courage to believe this and live a authentic wholehearted life.

firefighter-fire-portrait-training.jpgCourage: There are all kinds of images that come to my mind when I think about courage. I think of the warrior that goes into battle when the odds are against them. I think about the courage of the person that runs into the fiery building to save someone who needs help. What I learned from Brown’s book is  that courage can be as simple or difficult as telling  your story with your whole heart. Have the courage to be imperfect.  Courage is being yourself when others don’t accept you for being yourself.

Compassion: When I hear the word compassion, I think of Mother Theresa and her life legacy. But what I learned is that you need to be kind to yourself first. If you are a perfectionist, this is very difficult to do. Someone will always come along that you perceive  does it better and you will compare yourself to everyone you meet.  That negative thinking starts to roll around in your head and you end up being unkind to yourself.  Be kind to yourself and it will be easier to be kind to others and easier to live a wholehearted life.

Connection: This is an overused word in our culture today. Connect with this person, connect with that person.  Won’t you connect with me? I wondered if when I was connecting with others if I was really truly connecting. When the connection did not happen as I thought it should, I blamed myself. Brown says connection is all about being authentic and connecting with others who relate, respect, and love your authenticity.

Vulnerability: This word really struck me. Who wants to be vulnerable? This leaves you open for attack, right? As I thought about it and listened to Brene’ Brown’s argument, I started to understand. People that live wholeheartedly embrace vulnerability.  They have the willingness to say “I love you” first. The willingness to do something with no guarantees. A spectacular life lived is to live it with unpredictably. Tweet this. Vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging and love. Tweet this.

Laughter, song and dance. These are some of my favorite ways to experience wholeheartedness.  Tweet this. I love the joy these bring me. When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried?  When was the last time you danced and all you could think about was the joy you experienced and nothing else mattered?  I am thinking about ways to incorporate these more into my daily life so I can live more wholeheartedly.


Rest and play. The last very important piece of Brown’s research was about the necessity for rest and play. To be healthy and live a wholehearted life, these two activities are essential. My mindset was only when I am feeling exhausted every day, then I am considered accomplished and I can have a sense of achievement.  I thought to myself, when was the last time I really played?  The last time I played was a few weeks ago when I took my dog for a walk and skipped down the street just for fun. I walked on an unbeaten path and took pictures of wild flowers. This took 30 minutes.  We need unstructured play each day just like sleep. Even if that play is for 10 – 15 minutes. Sleep has been a challenge for me too recently. Having a regular bedtime routine 30 minutes before I go to sleep has helped me sleep better.

I hope this post has inspired you to look at the word wholehearted differently now. Maybe you will see as I did that living wholeheartedly takes courage but is well worth the daily effort. How will you incorporate more wholehearted living? I’d love to hear about it.




Forgiveness: A Powerful Word To Live By

godupdates-19-forgiveness-bible-verses-1-FBHonestly when I hear the word forgiveness, I cringe a little. Mostly because I have a difficult time forgiving myself. According to psychologists, forgiveness is a conscious deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they deserve your forgiveness. Let’s explore the different types of forgiveness because this will help to understand where there might be areas in life where forgiveness is needed.

Forgiveness of others.

Once someone has wronged you and you feel hurt, betrayed, and angry, forgiveness is very difficult.  Our tendency is to want to hurt them back. A reminder that forgiveness doesn’t mean to take lightly the offence or remove consequences. Forgiveness does bring peace to the forgiver. Letting go of negatively held feelings gives you peace of mind. When you don’t let the pain this person caused you remain, you can move forward with your life.

Forgiveness of groups

There are groups of people who are formed specifically to hurt others.  If we pronounce hate against them and try to find ways to punish them, this is seen as a strength. In fact many believe forgiveness means weakness.  The sentiment is if you forgive, you are weak. However, forgiveness is one of the most courageous things you can do. The essence of forgiveness is being resilient when things don’t go the way you want them to. The realization that no one owes you anything and you don’t have to hurt someone because they hurt you. Most important is moving forward with an open heart and accepting what is, without prejudice. Tweet this.

Forgiveness of self.

This is the toughest one for me. According to (Holmgren, 1998) self–forgiveness first requires an objective fault or wrongdoing; second, negative feelings triggered by this offense must be overcome; and, third, an internal acceptance of oneself must be achieved.  The negative feelings (denial, guilt, or shame) that arise from the wrongdoing can overwhelm me and I punish and self sabotage myself in the hopes that it will compensate for what I have done. However, an internal acceptance, self-awareness and compassion must be achieved to move forward. Consequences for the wrongdoing must be accepted.  I need to have a change of heart and work to change my behavior, maybe even change my circumstances.  Finally,  I have to be willing to abandon self resentment that affects every part of my life and relationships and find meaning, or a new purpose.

There can be a constant  practice of forgiveness. Fred Luskin created the 9 Steps to Forgiveness . In reading through these, my favorite step was number 8 where he says “Remember that a life well lived is your best revenge.” Focusing on the person or group who wronged you and seeking revenge is not ultimately what punishes them, it is how your live your live in spite of what this person or group has done to you.

Give forgiveness in a way that gives the next moment a chance. Tweet this. This next moment could be the most beautiful moment you experience.  I have experienced this in my own life with my children. When they have wronged me, moving forward in love and compassion, I have seen them grow and mature to show the same love and compassion to others.

What is the most difficult part of forgiveness for you?  Do you still hold anger and resentment in your life from past hurts? Can you describe a beautiful moment of forgiveness?

The Best Ways To Use Customer Service As A Super Power For Your Business.


There has been a drop in overall customer satisfaction for customer service in the last few years. If your business gets customer service right, this is the perfect time to boost customer loyalty for your brand.  Is customer service worth the investment? Can your company use it as a super power just like Superman did to save Lois Lane? Of course, here’s how to get started.

Watch out for the Kryptonite! The most important action you can take is to evaluate your current customer service. Understand what is holding your company down. This is no simple task but important to determine if your investment in customer service as your super power is working. Tweet this! You can pick different types of surveys to evaluate your current state. You will need to evaluate all current channels of communication which can include phone, email, chat and social platforms.

Use your Super Human Strength! Live chat has grown in popularity as a channel customers want to use in order to get their issues resolved. Companies in general have not kept up with this trend. Smaller companies (1-49) employees have a more difficult time keeping up with chat requests whereas big companies (50+) employees are able to better manage it.  The best way to manage Live Chat is to find out what your most frequently asked questions are and implement a chat bot to help with those questions. Your agents can focus on more complicated questions. You need to have a strong system in place to field questions and answer them intelligently and quickly every time. If you are not able to have a live agent available 24/7, build a chat bot with Bot Engine . See what your customers need 24/7. You can track issues and determine if it’s necessary to have a live customer service professional available. Strength in your Live Chat customer service is essential to position your customer service above the competition. Tweet this!

User your fast flying power! Response time is key to enhancing your super power in customer service. Tweet this! The best response time is in the Philippines with an average response time of 27 seconds. Can your company do that? This is a major superpower in the world of customer service. Customers love quick, answers to their questions.

Use your X-Ray vision! Reducing the contact rate overall is another key to your superpower. Knowing what your customer will ask about and providing self service options will keep your customers happy and reduce costs. Reducing the contact rate also involves taking the time with a customer to answer their question or give a solution to their problem on the first contact. Instead of rushing through the issue, customer service professionals should take pride in serving the customer on the first contact. Watch this interesting video about how the hire the right kind of people to solve customer problems.

Use your Enhanced Hearing at all times! It’s so important to listen, listen, listen to your customer. Every customer will tell you something valuable about your business and how it can be improved. Are you recording phone calls?  Do you have transcripts of live chats that you can evaluate? Do you speak to customers directly and hear what they have to say.

Use your Heat Ray vision to burn out the competition.  Laser off the wrong customers. Find the customers who you cannot meet their needs or expectations and refer them to someone who can. You want these customers to be satisfied, even if you can’t provide what they need. Protect your loyal customers by enhancing their experiences. Go that extra mile to make your customers feel special. Include your customers in your vision because your loyal customers want to feel like they are a part of you. Tweet this!

After you have explored and practiced your superpowers, you may even discover some super powers you didn’t know you had. I’d love to hear about what superpowers you used to make your customers come back for more.


11 Remarkable Ways To Keep Momentum As A Word You Live By


We’ve all been there. Plans fall through. Promises aren’t kept. Most promises are well intended but how do we keep those commitments? Momentum is the powerful force that can keep us on the right track for the long term. Momentum is a word we should live by to keep us advancing forward. Physics describes momentum as the quantity of motion of a moving body, measured as a product of its mass and velocity.  Watch this momentum video to learn more. How much momentum do you have? How are you able to increase momentum?  Here are 11 ways to keep momentum in your life:

    1. Create a vision of your success. Define success for yourself, write it down and look at it every day. There is a solidifying effect of writing your vision down and seeing it on a daily basis as a reminder of where you are headed. Tweet this
    2. Decide on a BIG goal and write it down. When you write down goals, even if they seem too BIG and far from completion, this allows you to gain momentum towards it. Pick one and start writing.
    3. Recharge your energy. Allow yourself to recharge by doing something you enjoy for a while. Read a book. Watch a movie. Listen to music. Or you can do what I did recently and talk a long walk along the beach.  Recharging is essential to keep up your momentum.
    4. Be courageously focused.  Our fears allow us to procrastinate and put things off. Business race Identify one task that must be done and focus on it until it is done. Tweet this.
    5. Reduce negativity in your life. Do you have friends that consistently doubt you? Do you have people around you that complain about everything? Notice the negativity and reduce it.  Negativity slows down our momentum.
    6. Learn from your mistakes and don’t be afraid to fail.  We all fail sometimes. The best way to keep momentum is to learn from your mistakes and do things differently next time.
    7. Create mentors for yourself. Mentors should be people who will support you in achieving success and your goals. These people should be all different age ranges and have a variety of perspectives and experience.
    8. Maximize your time. Do you feel like you don’t have enough time to do the things you need to do? You might find it helpful to track your time for a few weeks to see where it is being spent. Toggl is a free tool that can help with this. Once you see where your time is going, get creative and figure out ways to eliminate small tasks.
    9. Highlight the small wins. When you complete a task that required your full concentration, reward yourself with something that you enjoy. Never dismiss a small win because this will keep your momentum going to complete the BIG goal.
    10. Allow evolution to take place. When momentum towards your success is really going strong, look around you. Notice connections, clues and opportunities that are around you. Be aware of shifts and changes in your environment.  Any change in one or two variables might affect your momentum. Flexibility is the key to evolving with momentum. Tweet this.
    11. Create a strong commitment. You are the only one who can be committed to your own success in achieving your goals.  Decide today that you will be committed to achieving your goal and don’t give up. It a conscious choice to keep up that momentum.


Momentum is mass in motion. This mass in motion should be unstoppable. Tweet this. How will you create momentum so that no one will be able to keep you from success?  Join me for a Twitter chat on Sunday at 8:00 pm CST called #WordsToLiveBy because we will be chatting about momentum and learn more about how to keep it in our lives.

25 powerful statistics to keep your customers coming back.

shopping bags

Companies today need to go from being “customer focused” to “customer committed”. Customers want to know businesses are authentic, committed and consistent with them at every touch point they have with you.  Here are 25 important statistics every company needs to know.

Customer Service should be the main focus to ensure customer retention and profitability. Tweet this.

  1. By 2020 customer service will overtake price and product as the key differentiator. Source (Walker)
  2. Engaging with customers means 40% more revenue per person – Bain & Co
  3. 89% of marketing leaders expect to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience by 2016, compared to just 36% four years ago. – Gartner 
  4. 50% of product investment projects will be redirected to customer experience innovations by 2017. – Gartner 

Poor customer experiences often lead to lost customers, while happier shoppers will keep coming back.

5.  59% of the customers said a bad experience caused them to stop buying from the  company. – Forbes

6.  Increasing customer retention rates by 5 percent could increase profits from 25 percent to 95 percent. – Harvard Business Review

7.  86%of customers will pay more for a better customer experience – Oracle

8.  52% of customers said a good customer service interaction influenced them to purchase more from the company and 58% of those customers recommended the good companies to others ” – Forbes

9.  75% of customers expect a consistent experience wherever they engage with your brand.  Even though it may take a lot more work for a company to provide a consistent experience through all engagement, this statistic is proof that is what companies need to focus on. – Salesforce 

10.  89% of people are likely to recommend a brand after a positive brand experience on mobile” – Think with Google

11.  95% of consumers talk about poor customer service experiences with other people” – American Express

12.  Happy customers who get their issues resolved tell about 4 to 6 people about their experience” – White House Office of Consumer Affairs

Customers want convenience which creates a memorable customer experience.

13.  52% of users said that a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with the company – Impact

14.  61% of Internet users start shopping on one device but continue or finish on a  different one ” – Think with Google

Customers expect their interactions to be personal but automated for faster resultsB

15. By 2020, 30 percent of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen – Gartner

16.  More than 85% of mobile marketers report success with personalization — higher engagement, revenue, conversions” – Forbes

17.  By 2020, customers will manage 87% of their customer relationships without interacting with humans” – Gartner

Customers want to be able to trust companies authenticity in exchange for their loyalty.

18.  81% of users don’t trust retailers with their data. – Opinion Lab Survey

19.  A 2014 study conducted by the PR firm Cohn & Wolfe revealed that the number one quality people demand of big brands is honesty about their products and services.

20.  The Authentic Brand Index, a study put together by brand consultants Principals and the consultancy Brand Navigator, found a correlation between a company’s authenticity and the likelihood that customers become advocates for that brand.

21.  91% percent of customers want brands they follow to be authentic in their social media posts, according to an info graphic from the agency Bonfire Marketing.

Businesses need to utilize the data they have to make changes that the customer wants. Customers are more informed than ever before. 

22.  80% of data is dark and untouched meaning it’s never actually used to make improvements or changes deemed necessary by the customer” – Forbes

23.  80% of businesses believe they provide excellent customer service, but only 8% of customers agree” – Forbes 

24.  81% of shoppers conduct online research before buying, and trust ratings and reviews over 3x more than traditional marketing” – BazaarVoice

25.  83% of customers (think that reviews) are “important” or “extremely important” and 76 percent “always” or “often” use it when they shop online” – RIS News

Being a customer committed company is not always easy but it is necessary for success. Customers  expect consistency, authenticity and commitment to their needs.  What are some companies who are excellent examples of being customer committed? How can you help your company or the one you work for be more customer committed?  I’d love to hear your comments.

How To Use Hashtags On Instagram And Not Lose Your Mind.


6 Easy steps to get started on Instagram (1)If your profile is public on Instagram, hashtags are the key to people finding you. Try to do a post with without hashtags and see what engagement you get. Unless you are Will Smith or Tony Robbins, you won’t get much. When I started using searching hashtags on Instagram, I got so lost trying to find posts I liked.  Typically, I used the incorrect associated word and I did not understand how they were being used.  Through my own trial and error, I have learned how to use hashtags more effectively and I will give you the tips here so you can too and stay sane.


When you open Instagram, tap on the magnifying  glass icon and in the search section at the top, put in a word like “inspiration”. You will see there are several options to pick from to search with a hashtag or word: Top, People, Tags and Places.



Places will give you a list of places that have the word “inspiration” in it. Such as “Inspiration Lake”.  The best thing about this feature is that you can tap on “Inspiration Lake” and see it on a map to find out how to get there. You can also see photos where people have geo tagged that same place in their own posts.  In this section, The Top Posts (most liked) posts will always show first and then as you scroll down you will see the Most Recent posts. This will help you connect with people in your area or places you are interested in.

On that note, it is very important to put in the location of where you are posting, even if it is just the state or country. More people will find you this way. Just think how this could work for your business! (More to come on that topic in a future post)


Tags (#) is a great search tool to find the most commonly used and not so commonly used hashtags. As you can see putting in the word “Inspiration” will show you the highest used hashtag is #inspirationalquotes with six billion posts. When you use this hashtag, it will be seen by a lot of people but it may also get lost in that feed of photos. Since you can use 30 hashtags for each post, the tip is to find 30 hashtags which have 50,000 to 500,000 posts. In this example, I would use #inspirationalwords with #inspirationalquotes when I created my post. Mix it up a bit and get creative. It does take some time, but worth the effort when you find 20 hashtags you regularly use because they represent your brand. Keep the other 10 hashtags to change each time so they specifically relate to the photo. Save your favorite 20 hashtags in your notepad on your phone and you can copy and paste them each time you do a post. Rules to remember about posting hashtags:

  • Numbers are allowed in hashtags. However, spaces and special characters, like $ or %, won’t work.
  • You can only tag your own posts. You can’t tag other people’s photos/videos.
  • If you include more than 30 tags on a single photo/video, your comment won’t post.

Should you create your own hashtag? Personally, I think it’s a great idea if you plan on posting the recommended 3 times a day.  Instagram has created a new feature where these unique hashtags can be followed and they will pull into your feed. Following a hashtag will add a selection of top posts, chosen by Instagram, to your feed which will appear along with the accounts you follow. This means you’ll see more of the content and user accounts you’re interested in without the need for all the manual searching. Find a hashtag you like and click on “Follow”. You’ll be amazed at the results!

IG PeoplePeople

People, People, People. The People section will show a list of anyone who has used the word #Inspiration in their bio. It could be in their name or on the description of who they are.  You can find other like minded people this way and like, comment or follow them.  You can use this word in your own bio description to get seen in this search. Look at the profile and see what they post. If you like their content, follow them and like their photos by double tapping on the post or tapping on the heart. You can make a comment about why you like their post in the comment section of the post. One thing I have learned about Instagram is that Instagramers love emoji. Enter a few of them at the end of your comment. It’s all about connecting with people and making it fun. Plus, if someone does not speak your language, they will definitely understand the emoji.



IG5When you tap on this icon, you will see the people who have the most follows with this hashtag. It’s one of the ways to find popular topics and people with a lot of followers.

One more tip for you: Don’t forget to use the plural of words for hashtags or and underscore. Sometimes the hashtags look like this #inspirational_quotes.  People have gotten creative when the hashtag gets overused.

Now, get started hunting for your hashtags. Let me know when you find your first 20. What hashtag did you decided to follow? I would love to hear about how they are working for you.

6 Easy Steps To Get Started On Instagram

The Instagram platform is the most popular right now with over 500 million users strong and growing.  Many people have asked me how to get started.  And, if you haven’t thought about it lately, you probably should.  Here are the six steps to get you on your way on to the Instagram world:

Step 1:

Download the app

Instagram is different from other social networks in that it is primarily a mobile platform.

Once your account is set up, you will have a page that can be viewed on desktop. However, the majority of your activity will take place within the mobile app.

Click here to download the app.

Step 2:

Choose a username

You can sign up for Instagram with an email address or a personal Facebook account.  If you want a business account, I recommend you create a personal one first to practice Instagram for a while.

Once you sign up, you’ll be asked to choose a username.

Your username will display publicly and will be what people see when they find you on Instagram. Make sure the username you choose is recognizable and is as close to your business or organization’s name as possible.

When signing up, Instagram will also ask for your full name. Here, you can put your full business name which will make it easier for people to find you through Instagram’s search function.

Step 3.



Update your profile

Instagram lets you fill out a 150 character bio about your business or personal account. Because of the text limitations, you’ll want to be clear and concise about who you are and what you offer. If you serve a local customer base, you’ll also want to add your location.  Here is an example of what mine looks like for my blog:


Step 4.

Add a recognizable profile picture

The perfect Instagram profile photo will be 400×400 pixels.

But what’s most important is that the photo you choose is recognizable to people who know your business. In most cases, the best choice will be your business’s logo.

Your profile photo can only be updated on a mobile device. If you don’t have your logo saved to your smartphone or tablet, Instagram has the option to import it from Facebook or Twitter.

Step 5.


It’s essential to have a good understanding of the type of pictures others are posting.  You can search any topic, movie, or place. Search #sodapopcurtis and see what comes up. Ok… I admit. I am a fan of Rob Lowe. You will see the top 9 liked posts for that hashtag and then below these 9 will be the more recent posts.  More to come later on a strategy for followers and why this type of search is important.


If you want to create a business Instagram profile, start by finding a business in your industry who has a hefty Instagram following and high levels of engagement. What do they tend to send, and when do they tend to send it?

Even if you want to differentiate yourself from the competition, it’s essential that you know what others are doing.

Step 6.

Post your first photo

Okay, now that your profile is set up, it’s time for the exciting part!

Here’s a quick run-through of how posting on Instagram works:

First, click the icon (+) on the bottom in the middle of the screen.



You can either take a photo by pressing the circle in the middle of the screen, or click “library” on the bottom left to upload a photo of your own.

Note: “Video” on the right enables you to take a video up to a minute.


If you’re uploading a photo, you will have the option to crop it first. After that, you’ll have options for different enhancements. These are really fun to play around with.

You can choose from a number of filters that scroll across the bottom of the app. (Double tap the filter to add a border or alter the strength of the filter)

You can also click “edit” to access a number of other photo editing features.

Once you’re happy with your photo, hit NEXT in the top right of the screen. Here, you’ll be able to add a caption.

The best captions are the ones that describe the photo. Where are you? What are you doing? What would people find interesting about this photo?

You can also tag people and name the location. This is great to use if you are sharing someone else’s photo or if you want to tag your friends.

Lastly are the hashtags. Hashtags are key to getting your post seen on Instagram. Find the ones that relate to the photo. You can use up to 30 of them for one post.


There you have it! I hope you were able to set up your Instagram account. I will share my best tips and tricks for getting real Instagram followers in a future post. Tell me what hashtag you searched on Instagram. What was one awesome picture you found? I’d love to hear about it. While your on Instagram, follow me for more tips. @brendalhanley.


Wonderful post on how to turn exhaustion into personal fuel.

Creating Six Degrees

Most overachievers have questioned their ability to take it all on. It doesn’t matter whether you are the president of a family-owned business or a Fortune 500 company. Suddenly, you begin to wonder if you really have the right stuff to stay focused under pressure and produce effective results. Someone might have said you look tired or you may have been sick. Although life is going well, others question your ability to keep up the pace and warn you of the inevitable toll your drive will take on your body and your life.

Doubt enters your mind and you wonder if others are right. Could this be the breaking point? The point where the threat of exhaustion convinces you to cut back on your dreams and settle for what you have accomplished? Toxic fumes from the exhaustion of others are trying to contaminate your performance by fueling any insecurity you…

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