Tag: inspiration (Page 1 of 2)

You Are Your Own Agent: A Pep Talk

You Are Your Own Agent: A Pep Talk

At the beginning of the year, I was about to attempt a new freelance opportunity that I hadn’t done before. I was struggling with selling myself and setting prices that I would be happy with later (especially because the project was unlike any I had yet done). Do you know who gave me the greatest pep talk of all time? Revanche over at A Gai Shan Life.

The Original Pep Talk:

If you were negotiating on my behalf like my agent, what would you be proud of telling me that you’d gotten as a rate? Don’t think of it as selling yourself, think of it as letting them know the circumstances under which you can work together. They’re not doing you a favor, you’re providing an excellent service they want and they need to compensate you fairly or it’s not a relationship worth your time. Puff up that chest with a huge breath, let it out and calmly imagine them being THRILLED to be working with you. That’s the feeling you want to have going in and coming out, and quote them from that mindspace.

So good, right?

You Are Your Own Agent

If I was negotiating a deal for Revanche, I would be way different. I have a partial view of her awesome skillset and I wouldn’t want to pitch her an offer as her agent that wouldn’t be worth her time. Changing my mentality to being an agent changed everything. I had to evaluate what my actual skillset is. What am I better at that no one else is? (the answer is research if I do say so myself!) Why do people want to work with me? If I were an agent, what would I be happy reporting?

You know what? After this advice, I realized she was totally right. I didn’t want to do this new freelance gig for the sake of doing it. Even though I was excited about the project, a month down the road, I’d be kicking myself I got into it if I didn’t price appropriately. I figured out what I would be thrilled with, and pitched that. Now 5 months later, I am still doing it and I’m so happy I really considered it before jumping it.

Imagine They’re Thrilled to Work With You

This one is tough for me. For some reason, I’ve always demoted myself because of my stay-at-home mom status. At my real job, I assumed I was worth less because I didn’t work full time. This past year, I’ve started to realize that I actually am pretty darn good at what I do and the amount of hours I spend doing it daily has no bearing on that. In January, I was armed with Revanche’s advice and had successfully pitched myself and gotten a gig I was happy about (though it wouldn’t nearly replace my current part-time income from my real job). Then work stuff hit the fan and I thought: “No! They should be thrilled to work with me! I don’t have time for this nonsense!” so I quit! As soon as a quit, it turns out everyone WAS thrilled to work with me and they all bent over backwards to make sure I knew it.

What Relationships Are Worth Your Time?

The other tidbit in that advice that resonated with me was that it might not be a relationship worth my time. I’ve considered this a lot lately as well. I’ve been more judicious at work with accepting projects that I think are worth my time instead of just doing anything that gets sent my way. Projects that aren’t worth my time (to either myself or the company), I politely decline with a plan of action as to how it could be accomplished better (without my assistance) or a few suggestions that might turn it into a project worth my time. This has been beneficial both to the company and to me. I haven’t had as many frustrating, pointless projects to work on and the company has ended up with projects that are more useful than they started.

You Don’t Need to Sell Yourself

As Revanche said: “Don’t think of it as selling yourself, think of it as letting them know the circumstances under which you can work together.” Phew. I am terrible at selling myself. I know my limitations and I see them much larger than my strengths when it comes to money on the table. But this is exactly why I can sell myself. Instead of duping them into thinking I’m all that, I can honestly sell my strengths. At work, if I’m not the best fit for a project, I say it! I don’t want to work on a project that won’t either stretch my abilities or fit solidly within my strengths. If it’s something I know how to do but wouldn’t be great at, I send it along with suggestion as to who WOULD be a good fit. It’s genius!

The best circumstances under which to work are ones where I feel valued as an employee and the company or client feels like they have added an asset they didn’t have before. That’s what truly selling yourself is all about: making sure you are both getting a good value.


Now that I’ve quoted Revanche’s original pep talk and then abundantly added words to her mouth, I’ll sign off. But I hope her pep talk helps you prioritize, value your strengths, and pitch yourself like it helped me! Thanks, Revanche!

Northern Expressions

Northern Expressions: How Close is Money to Your Heart?

Hello Friends! Today’s Northern Expression starts with a pretty famous Jonathan Swift quote, but we recently happened upon Lord Bolingbroke’s response and we loved the two together as a conversation so here you go:

A wise man should take care how he lets money get too much into his head, for it would most assuredly descend to the heart

“A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart.” – Jonathan Swift (in a letter to Lord Bolingbroke)

Lord Bolingbroke’s response: “A wise man should take care how he lets money get too much into his head, for it would most assuredly descend to the heart.”

I wonder why we don’t hear Lord Bolingbroke’s response as much as Swift’s quote because it’s basically the same sentiment with clarification. If you spend too much time thinking about money, it becomes the obsession and cannot be separated from your heart. It is a reminder that money is a tool. It is not the goal.

Happy Friday, friends.

Love, Maggie

Anecdotes vs. Research (and the benefits of each)

Anecdotes vs. Research (and the benefits of each)

As a researcher, it is important to me that you know the difference between anecdotes and data (the stuff produced through primary research).

What is Research?

This is a broad question that has many different facets, I realize. And I could bore you with the specifics of randomized controlled trials vs. observational studies, but our purposes here, I consider data/research to be something that has been tested. Many subjects have been involved and conclusions have been drawn. Research is testing whether defaulting workers into contributing to retirement funds actually increases earnings and then finding out that it does.

The conclusions drawn from research mean that they’ve been tried and tested. Many, many people save way more money into retirement plans if you default them into contributing in the first place. What do we do with this information? If you default your contributions, you may not end up clawing them back at all!

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Northern Expressions

Northern Expressions: Inspiration is like Mario

Remember how I told you Lin-Manuel Miranda is better than you? Well, he is. And today we have just another proof. Way back in November, he tweeted a series of amazing tweets about inspiration that I haven’t gotten out of my head. Mr.T worked his graphic design magic on the tweets, and now look how amazing it is!:

Inspiration is exactly like getting a star in Super Mario Bros.

“Inspiration is exactly like getting a star in Super Mario Bros. Exciting, and super rare. You’re invincible for a short time. The rest of your time, you’re breaking bricks, navigating pitfalls, you’re living and dying. You’re doing the work.”

– Lin-Manuel Miranda

Isn’t that brilliant? Some days we’re struck with awesomeness and we feel invincible. But I love the imagery of Mario breaking all those bricks. He just keeps breaking the bricks. Every day, we get out there and we break more bricks. If you don’t jump up to break those bricks, you’ll never get the stars.

Let’s go break some bricks, my friends! And when you happen upon a star, plow through the obstacles as fast as you can! It won’t last long.

Love, Maggie

Comparison is the Thief of Joy and Productivity

Comparison is the Thief of Joy and Productivity

Teddy Roosevelt is famous for saying: “Comparison is the Thief of Joy.” I took the liberty of adding “… and productivity.” When we compare ourselves to others, we lose sight of what we’re busy accomplishing.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is Better Than You

Last week, a Facebook friend of mine posted:

Lin-Manuel Miranda and my alumni magazine make me feel like I’ve done nothing with my life.

I totally agreed. A few days later, I happened across this article (headline is NOT changed): Lin-Manuel Miranda even sings karaoke better than you do.* Of course he does!

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An Honest Look At Your Awesomeness

An Honest Look At Your Awesomeness

An Exercise in Self-Reflection

  1. Grab a Piece of Paper and a Pencil
  2. Write down 5 things you are AWESOME at.
  3. Write down 5 weaknesses you have.
  4. Write down 1 thing you want to actively get better at.

Are you Too Hard on Yourself?

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Am I Happy? Stop Looking Outside Yourself.

Am I Happy? Stop Looking Outside Yourself.

We introduced our children to Wii Fit recently and they’ve been loving it. Florin, my 6-year-old, will finish every single game and then say: “Am I happy?” and wait to see if her character is excited (happens when played well) or sad (happens when played poorly). She can roll down the entire hill crashing into things in Wii Fit Skiing and STILL be surprised when her character is crying. On the flip side, she can do an amazing Wii Fit ski jump, but she won’t be happy or excited about it until her character starts jumping up and down with excitement.

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Northern Expressions

Northern Expressions: The Wilderness Will Tear You Down

Happy Friday! Tomorrow is the ceremonial start of The Last Great Race on Earth, AKA, The Iditarod! So, today’s Northern Expression comes from 4-time Iditarod Champion (including last year), Dallas Seavey:

The wilderness will tear them down. It's bigger than anybody out there. It has to just be your home.

“Every time I see people having to build themselves up to face the wilderness, the wilderness will tear them down. It’s bigger than anybody out there. It has to just be your home.” – Dallas Seavey

He said this in an interview with Survival Life. I really enjoyed the thought that if you have to build yourself up for something, you’re probably not ready for it. You have to learn to be at peace in even the harshest climates (literal or figurative).

If you have to build yourself up for financial set-backs and financial emergencies, your finances aren’t ready for them. The goal is to be so prepared that they just become an obstacle to overcome on the course rather than a complete roadblock.

So… let’s get prepared, friends! And get out there and enjoy the weekend! Run, dogs, run!

Love, Maggie

Northern Expressions

Northern Expressions: On Democracy

Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

“Democracy is the worst form of government… except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” – Winston Churchill

He’s right, you know. Democracy is horrible, unpredictable and wonderful. At the end of it all, we celebrate our right to vote. We celebrate the freedom the people have to choose a leader.

Also, on Veteran’s Day, we celebrate those people that have made that freedom possible. It’s worth the fight and I thank you. Sincerely.

Lessons for my Children

Along with that democracy comes the expectation to listen. We vote for people to represent us. We like to throw around the phrase “Every Vote Counts” and then ignore people outside of ballot numbers. A few things I hope to teach my children emerging from this election:

  • If someone expresses that they feel unsafe or scared, our first response should NEVER be “get over it” or “you’re making a big deal about nothing.” Our first response should be “how can I help?” or “You’re safe with me.” Maybe we’ve never felt threatened. That doesn’t make their threat any less real. (I will be wearing a safety pin to represent this. Maybe it will mean nothing. Maybe it will comfort one person feeling alone. I’m going to take that chance.)
  • Stories need to be told. If I only listen to the group of people with a very similar background or ideology, I learn nothing new. You wouldn’t come up to Alaska and just know how to mush dogs or dipnet. You would learn from a local. Everyone has knowledge and talents that we don’t. We can learn from them. More voices = more knowledge.
  • Humans relate best based on human need. We spend too much of our interactions arguing about things like politics where we struggle to find common ground. Can we hug? Everyone needs that. Can we share a meal? Everyone needs that. Can we play a game with a kid? Every kid needs that. Can we be kind? Every heart speaks kindness.
  • My son needs to be a champion for women in this world and know what toxic language exists and how to change it. And my daughters need to know that they are strong and capable and fierce and that’s not only okay, it’s wonderful. They can stand up for themselves and be a voice in this world. They may need to shout a bit louder, but they shouldn’t stop trying to shout.

On Wednesday, I sent my kids to school with a charge to be extra nice. I give that same charge to you grown-ups. It’s okay to hurt. I’m here. No one should apologize for how they feel. We should just try to be aware. Before you speak, listen. Before you judge, hug.

You people are the best people. I know it. I’ve read your comments of encouragement and love. The world needs that now (no matter what your political views). The world needs your goodness.

Go, friends. Be the light.

Love, Maggie


Northern Expressions

Northern Expressions: The Purpose of Work is to Create

You guys, maybe you’ve seen this around, but if you haven’t stopped to watch it. DO IT. This is Mr. Money Mustache talking about how the purpose of work is to create and when money isn’t in the equation, we can truly be authentic in our creativity. 

I watched this and was audibly yelling “YES! YES!” multiple times (reminding myself to be quiet to not wake up the kids!). THIS IS WHY WE WANT THIS!

I won’t take up any more of your time. WATCH THIS:

Happy Friday, Friends!

Love, Maggie

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