It's all about the STORY!



Itay Talgam at TED 2009

The greatest conductors on leadership & managment. Cultivate the BEST talent, then let them do their job. How to lead, direct, correct… Different styles:

Itay Talgem is one of the world’s most esteemed conductors, and in this TED Talk, he breaks apart leadership skills of other world-renowned conductors. It’s fascinating in and of itself, but it’s more enlightening when thought of in terms of business and project leadership and management. Also, community and cause leadership–it is critical to cultivate and nurture the creative class in a style that helps them bring the best they have every time. Conductors have been doing this well for centuries. Let’s take a lesson from the best.

Archaic management styles of blind obedience and linear hierarchies reap the worst in productivity and progress within your workforce. It’s time for every business and leader to change from this mindset or risk becoming miserably irrelevant. The most valuable thing a leader has to give is to empower others to lead, but if you’re stuck in the ineffective beliefs of traditional role delineation where insecurities and power-mongering run amok within leadership, you essentially create an oppressive regime. Here, creativity and buy-in become stifled amongst your team, and this directly erodes productivity and progress. You create an army of mindless drones instead of a team of empowered, creative problem-solvers and critical thought leaders.

One of two things will happen if you put too many restrictions on creative professionals: 1) they will flee from you or 2) they will produce drab uninspired work. If you want them to create the masterpieces you hired them to create, step back a bit. Let them tinker and make mistakes (as long as the mistakes aren’t too costly), and they will produce masterpeices over and over again for you and your company.

What leadership style speaks best to you? Are there any lessons you’re taking away from viewing this presentation? Has it changed your thinking in any way?

After interviewing high level business pioneers and making headway on their book, here’s a big take-away: Most people have heard the phrase, “Know your *WHY* ” But what does it really mean and how do you apply it for sustainable success?


A little history lesson in product/service development and sales: Most young entrepreneurs mistakenly believe that their innovative product is king. Wrong. Others think it’s about the content–make sure your marketing and branding strategies are on-point, and you can fill the box with just about anything. Wrong. Oh, you might find a limited amount of profit and success that way, but you’ll also find it fizzling out, and you’ll need to scramble to find the next big thing to saty in the game, virtually starting over from scratch. That’s not sustainability. That’s grit (which is a great quality, but it’s not sustainability).

Instead, “Know your *WHY*” dictates that you understand what you want your product or service to do, and you get committed to that outcome. For instance, your *WHY* may be that you want to help people come together and connect at a table together, share stories and build relationships, because people are feeling alone and disconnected. That’s your *WHY* To answer that, you might productize bottles of wine for people to share together, but what your selling is a social tool meant to provide a shared experience more than a mere product or service.

Also, to really be sustainable, your *WHY* can’t just be about something that’s meaningful to you in a vacuum. It needs to be responsive to or reflective of a cultural need. In this case, data show that people want to put money in experiences and they crave connection. So, your *WHY* of wanting to help people come together and connect at a table, share stories and build relationships answers the cultural need for interpersonal connection and shared experiences.

Now, here’s the thing, because your focus is on your *WHY* and not the singular product (e.g. wine), when you expand or scale and decide to add new products/services to your offerings, they needn’t be more wine. They merely have to be reflective of your *WHY* So, a social club, exotic tours and retreats, books designed for book clubs and other groups, film festivals and other events, etc. all can be positioned to answer your *WHY* keeping you relevant even if drinking wine goes out of style (Although, I dare not think of such a travesty!).

#startup #whystatement #scale #strategicplanning #thinkbig #business #entrepreneur #legacycompany


(aka: the selfish monologue in business = short term)

Philosophically, our only true ability in life is to generalize from oneself. The only true perception we will ever have is our own, even when we empathize or “see through another lens” it’s still our interpretation of it. So, self is always in play no matter how hard we may try to remove ourselves. That’s not a bad thing, but it can get complicated when you’re establishing a company.

Portrait of smiling businesswomanYou need to know your *WHY* but whether you consider that to be personal or universal will greatly affect the scale and ultimate sustainability of your business.

At first a company is but a seed, a beautiful idea. Then, we nurture it into existence. We feed it, water it, love it, even struggle with it, then it blooms! Still, we think of it as our own, but is that the best view for the long-term health of pure creation?

Maybe you grew an orchid — a boutique hybrid that is gorgeous and exclusive and very personal. That’s wonderful! But it’s not very SUSTAINABLE. It has a targeted quick lifespan that will be enjoyed by a very limited number of people who will get to experience it. Which is great if that’s the goal.

Perhaps, on the other hand, you’re growing a magestic cherry tree. Ahhh, that’s very different. Many entities have contributed to this successful incarnation and will soon come to rely on its existence. Sure, you planted the seed, maybe even started it in a small pot to keep it safe in its formative time, but soon it will be a critical part of a living ecosystem on the planet. Earthworms, bugs, microorganisms, squirrels, birds, owls, bats, raccoons, snakes, etc. will one day rely on its shelter, stature, fruit and other forms of its biology. Decay, sunlight, rain and dew will all contribute to it’s growth, though you may still contribute, keep it printed and healthy, it’s grown much larger than you. Frankly, it can even live without you, and that’s good. That was the point!

Using the analogy of growing these “plants” from seeds into maturity are similar in business. If you intend to stay small, as a rare flowing plant, enjoyed by an elite few, you’re allowed to be selfish with its mission — you’ll do no harm to it, and long-term sustainability that benefits many isn’t it’s goal. You’ll likely achieve success, then you’ll move on to your *next*

But, if you intend to build an empire or at least a mid-sized corporation that will be able to thrive, maybe as your legacy, long after you’re gone, you need a mission that isn’t about you but is all about the culture and ecosystem your establishing and sustaining. This is your *WHY* and it’s far bigger than *you*

You also need to ensure that this large sustainable *WHY* is something embraced by everyone and everything in your culture, from your workforce and investors to your customers and fans. The moment you think your *WHY* in this larger game is anything about you, you know you’re playing too small and threatening sustainability. Because if you think this majestic cherry tree is here to give you joy and shade, you’re not addressing the more important needs of the many contributing to it and relying on it. You’ll strangle it’s growth and prevent it from fulfilling its fullest potential for the greater good.

A small business can afford a selfish monologue for its *WHY* because its goal isn’t long-term sustainability for the masses. A larger company, intended for long-term sustainability, needs a more universal, cultural, ecosystem-oriented *WHY* to thrive and grow at the scale that is most suited to it.

#branding #scale #sustainability #corporation #mission #yourwhystatement #brandstory #startup

I don’t do groups. In fact, as a child my mother decided one day that I should go to group counseling because my father was an alcoholic. Before anyone gets any ideas about this presumed tragedy, my parents divorced when I was three-years-old, I lived with my mother who had sole custody and was a working trust fund baby, plus I had an older brother who lived with us and lots of family friends creating a rich support system. It wasn’t a difficult life. As for my dad, he was very much around, involved in my life, and my parents remained good friends. Sure, he was absolutely an alcoholic, but the effect that had on my  life was practically nonexistent. He was a jovial drunk and no one had any illusion that he was a responsible adult, including me, whether he was sober or not. So, expectations were always quite low as far as “parenting,” but he was a fun playmate! He worked, too. He was a prolific professional artist, a muralist mostly, and revered well enough in all the right circles for most of my life. There really wasn’t much to complain about, honestly. So, picture me in group with a bunch of kids who were literally going through hell with their alcoholic parent(s)–many suffering abuse, financial hardships, neglect, embarrassment and shame… whereas my dad would drink way too much scotch and get up and sing with the band at the Yacht Club, and everyone thought he was the life of the party. He never tried to drive drunk with me, so safety wasn’t an issue. He might have a slight hangover in the morning that would delay our planned trip to the beach that day, but that was really the extent of my suffering.

Needless to say, I didn’t really participate in group. I just sat there quietly. It was all rather uncomfortable hearing the other kids’ stories–I felt like a fraud. I hated “group.”

That was my first experience with groups: negative, misfit, outsider, and self-conscious are words that come to mind. “Groups” meant other things to me later in life: group projects in school, where I tended to do most of the work; group assignments at work, which tended to follow the same patterns as school; team-building group exercises, team breakout sessions, and shared accountability management systems–please shoot me, it’s so awful!! My friends, colleagues and employers all would joke that “Daphne doesn’t play well with others.” Instead, they’d just give me impossible problems to solve and incredibly challenging tasks to figure out, and I’d hide away in a closed room eventually emerging with the impossible solved. Then, we’d all gather teams together to execute the strategies.

Then, one day I’d met my match. A woman far smarter than me! She was an absolute lunatic–impossible for most people to work with, mean, temperamental, petty and hands down BRILLIANT! She became my best friend and mentor for about 11 years. While everything I said about her is absolutely true, it’s also true that she was the most encouraging, generous and supportive mentor and teammate imaginable who gave me every opportunity to grow and learn and implement anything I wanted to do. Most importantly, she believed in me more than even I did, and I’m pretty cocky! She pushed me in every area of my professional life until I exceeded a standard I didn’t even realize I was capable of achieving. I can’t say that she taught me everything I know–instead she kept challenging me and held tireless faith in me until I learned and applied every professional skill I currently hold. Many of these skills she doesn’t have herself. For her, it wasn’t about her trying to turn me into a clone; it was about pushing me to become my best me. After more than a decade, I began achieving consistently at very high levels, and we both knew that I was now soaring on my own. What started as a brutal form of mentoring and coaching eventually shifted to just brutality, however. The pain crescendoed, and there came a time when there was nothing left to learn in that space, and the abuse was no longer followed by a reward. It was just painful and empty. It was time for me to move on–we agreed. And so it ended. And every day I’m grateful for the full experience. Was there an easier path to take to get me where I am today? Nope. I’d have been too hard-headed to come this far without all of that.

Yet, I still never learned to work well in groups, exactly, but I learned how to lead many groups of people and project manage like a champ! Mostly, I learned how to work exceptionally well with an equal or better-skilled partner. This was a huge breakthrough for this loner!

After a couple more years, I stumbled into the life and work of yet another extraordinary person–just as dynamic and brilliant as the one before, but minus the mean streak and abusiveness and who was also far more successful. Up until now, I’ve always had a mentor in my life, and this other extraordinary person normally would have become my next–wickedly smart, extremely successful businesswoman and entrepreneur… She’s everything I’d want to learn from next! But, we never allowed a mentoring relationship to form. Instead, we entered into our relationship as a partnership of equals, each bringing different skills and expertise to the game, and every challenge, frustration or dispute we’d have within our working process was always approached with this incredible level of mutual respect and love. Occasionally, we’d even openly discuss this wonderful phenomenon. Four years we worked together, almost inseparable though she travels often, without one real argument. There was one enormous problem, however. After four years of creating exceptional work, only two out of 10 large projects were fully completed and launched (though many smaller ones were wildly successful). Everything else was abandoned for one reason or another after getting 60% or even 75% complete. I always blamed her for either stalling projects (sometimes due to legitimate conflicts of interest that would arise) or just never scheduling ample dedicated time to sit down and finalize them with me. I could only get so far on my own–using her ideas and vision–because this is her brand and life. I actually need her to help me polish and complete. I’d voice concerns from time to time, even get a little annoyed and frustrated. She always avoided discussing it… So, I of course assumed she understood and agreed with my point of view, hence the avoidance. Right? Wrong! It appears she’d been blaming me for these unfinished projects this whole time, and two huge arguments erupted as a result. We’re working through this, I’m very relieved to report, but not without some difficulty and a few hard blows along the way.

Believe me, I no longer blame my partner solely for these unfinished projects. What I am doing is gathering up all I know about her and infusing it in the works on my own to reach a finalized stage. That’s not to say that she won’t join with me to polish it pre-release, but I’m going rogue to get to the finish line, because I’ve learned that this is what these projects actually needed all along. I needed to be bold enough, and have enough faith in all I know about this person, to dive in and create the final works. That takes a big set of brass ones to do–to make grand assumptions about someone’s life and opinions, but the bolder I am about doing this, and the more committed I become to this vanguard process, the more confident I become in knowing that this was the missing link all along. This was absolutely the role I was meant to take, but was too timid to shoulder up the responsibility previously. And, yes, I have her blessing. We never had an issue with trust–she knows I know her stories, her heart and intentions–we just struggled furiously with each other until I chose to take a wildly ambitious path. As unusual as this is, it’s gorgeous how it’s all working out!

Still, without launching any of these large projects I’d created, my cash flow is not what I had originally anticipated, to say the least. So, I picked up other freelance clients and maintained others I had planned to phase out, helping me get by as I still work towards finalizing then launching all of this work I’d started. I’ve been frustrated, lost, overwhelmed, feeling isolated and abandoned, and even a little despondent at times, but I never gave up–I knew not to do that. And, here enters the theme of the “group” once more…

Stephanie Frank, an esteemed business coach whom I became acquainted when I first decided to work on my freelance career full time about 5 years ago, started a Facebook group called “Lifestyle Business Insider.” Look, I’m a big fan of Facebook–I socialize on it, debate on it, spread ideas there, tell stories there… instead of being a substitution for real-life, it’s been a brilliant extension of real life for me, and has had a wonderful positive impact on my business. I am also a member of several “professional groups.” Most are fine, but the one Stephanie developed is extraordinary! While I continue to grit my teeth and plow through the completion of these projects, most importantly a specific book project with two additional co-authors, I have been able to share some of my professional struggles, successes, stories and goals with other pros. There’s an eclectic mix of people from varied backgrounds, expertise and levels of achievement on their journey, and though this group is rather new, the feedback, support, sharing and resources presented have been incredibly beneficial! I think I’ve fund a “group” where I actually fit in–I’m not the smartest person in the room here (and I never want to be), instead there’s a beautiful, equitable level of give and take that I believe is creating a synergy far greater than the sum of its parts.

I’m still holding my beloved beast (this big book project) dear to my heart and nearing the end, finalizing the first complete draft of the manuscript next month. Though it’s been an incredibly difficult time, there’s never been a doubt that it’s an absolutely worthwhile journey with an astoundingly worthwhile colleague, partner and dear friend.  And this group, just being able to share with the group, ask questions and give feedback and process in this space has helped me to plow through some really tough barriers. I’m so grateful for each member, and of course Stephanie.

I’ve gone from being a complete misfit in awkward Ala-teen groups and bulldozing my fellow students throughout high school and college group projects, to finally being able to lead teams and work with a partner… and now I’m fully embracing a group of dedicated peers and professionals who join together in a virtual space to support one another, share resources and experience growth. I’m blessed, and I think I’m starting to like this whole “group” concept!

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I have been blogging on natural health topics for quite a while now, covering a variety of issues such as stress, depression, anxiety, hormone imbalances, insomnia, lethargy, PMS, skin care, ADHD, flu, allergies, pain, high blood pressure, diabetes… blah, blah, blah…

icewaterLet me boil everything down for you. After countless hours of scientific research, the natural solutions to nearly all ailments in life can generally be summed up by adhering to these 10  life habits:

  1. Get plenty of sleep: Sleep about 6-8 hours every NIGHT in a dark, cool room that is void of noise, electronics and other distractions. If you feel tired mid-day or in the early evening and need to re-charge to take on the next chapter of your day/evening — take a 10-15 minute power nap. No more  than 10-15 minutes or it can interfere with your sleep at night. Cut out the caffeine and any other stimulants you might take by noon or completely if you seem to have trouble sleeping.
  2. Chill out: If you don’t learn to manage your stress, you could get sick and die. No, seriously. The body’s biological response to stress releases hormones that are only meant for a short duration to help you fight or flee from an extreme threat. When stressed, your immune system weakens leaving you more prone to illness and disease, some systems of the body don’t function properly during stress such as the digestive system, etc. So, calm down. Go exercise; meditate; try yoga or tai chi; hang out with people you love and laugh; read a book under a tree or at the beach; go for a hike — interrupt the stress response system and give yourself a break, or everything in your body will soon be gravely out of balance.
  3. Drink plenty of water: Hydrate. Your body is mostly comprised of water — remember to keep replenishing it throughout the day. Hydration helps eliminate toxins; supports healthy organs and blood; improves the condition of your skin, hair and nails; helps aid in the healing process; can help to regulate blood sugar levels and other internal chemistry; and if you have a headache, indigestion, stomach ache or nausea, drinking extra water can often help eliminate the symptoms and even help treat the underlying problem such as potential dehydration.
  4. Exercise: Raise your heart rate and break a sweat every day. Take 15 minutes to a half hour out of every 24 hours of your day and get moving. You can even try to enjoy it if you want to… swimming; cycling; sports; hiking; kayaking; rock climbing; paddle boarding; playing outside with your kids, friends or pets; gardening; sign up for a fitness class… It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something.
  5. Eat whole, natural foods: Eat foods with one ingredient that come from nature: apple, turkey, spinach, broccoli, brown rice, fish, watermelon, oatmeal, blue berries… and eat a wide assortment of colors, textures and flavors in reasonable portions several times throughout the day. If you follow this simple idea, it is quite likely that you will experience weight management, reductions in digestive issues, improved and sustained energy throughout the day, and improved nutrition from essential macro- and micro-nutrients. Your body will thank you.
  6. Foster healthy relationships: Humans are social beings. Even those of us who may not be terribly fond of people in general, we need other people and healthy relationships. Be kind, laugh, share, feel free to show your soft side–be vulnerable; be honorable and trustworthy; admit guilt apologize easily when you screw up; forgive (them and yourself), let go when it’s time and respect when others to let go of you; value those who show up for you; give and receive; have fun; communicate; join in and invite along; ask for help and offer help; show up when it’s hard; celebrate others’ success; ask, listen and learn; pay attention — good relationships matter.
  7. Mindfulness: Enjoy right now. The past is gone and the future isn’t here yet, so don’t worry about it. Be in the moment you’re in; enjoy the people you are with; embrace the lessons there are to learn; take in the sights, smells, tastes and sounds–you are here, and it is the only moment you can experience that’s real right now with any degree of certainty. So, give it your best, and release the worries of your past and future. They are not as important as now.
  8. Let go: Let go of your past; of damaging relationships; of thoughts that cause you harm; of past hurt and guilt; of things you cannot change; of fears that aren’t plausible; of worries of the future; of anxiety that doesn’t serve any good; of pain that isn’t needed; of shame, guilt, judgement of self and/or others; of nearly anything that cannot possibly serve you or benefit you or others important to you. Just let go.
  9. Dream: If you’re not going to be mindful right now, then dream. What do you want? Who do you want to be? What would you like to create? Where would you like your imagination to take you? Allow yourself opportunities to day dream and be creative. If you choose not to be in the moment right now, then dream.
  10. Care about yourself: Care enough about yourself that you are your first priority. Selfishness can get a bad reputation, but if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be much good to anybody else if you are sick, run-down, stressed-out, pre-occupied, irritable, exhausted or dead. Your health — mentally and physically — matters. Prioritizing your health and physical and emotional needs means that you have fueled and re-charged and nurtured yourself to be able to be of service to whatever and whomever you choose to dedicate the rest of your time and energy to. You matter.

Tell Your Story.

There is no such thing as a press release – much like the tooth fairy. Oh sure, you can make one up if you like, but that still doesn’t make it real. Press releases today are brief news articles that are well-researched, should include quotes from three credible sources, written in inverted pyramid style and strictly adhere to AP style — in the best-case scenario, that is. Unfortunately, as a writer for hire I am often at the mercy of my client’s wishes and their “experts” who also give editorial input, so I rarely have an opportunity to write what I consider to be the Perfect Press Release. If I did, it would follow these rules below…

1) Format: Format for a press release includes…

TOP: “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” and include contact info for who to contact to schedule interviews or for additional information, fact checking, etc. General contact info…

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Tell Your Story.

A middle aged woman just flew up to my second story window and perched on the small balcony. Her plumage was as impressive as her wing-span. A dark-toned periwinkle with dark smoky gray and white trim and pale mauve accents around her face. She seemed to be staring off at a tree. As I tapped gently on the window, hoping not to startle her but rather to catch her gaze, she smiled and nodded her head at me, letting me know that she might welcome my company, briefly. I slid open the balcony door, having just poured a tall glass of hibiscus tea, offering the glass with an outstretched hand. She accepted with another nod and offering her outstretched hand to receive. As she took small sips, we discussed all matter of flight–flights of joy and fancy, flights of acrobatics and skill, flights of whimsy and beauty, flights of fear and…

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A tribute to 1 Million Cups, St. Petersburg Greenhouse. Thank you! 1 Million Cups is a weekly educational program designed to engage, educate, and accelerate communities of entrepreneurs.

Tell Your Story.

By: Daphne Taylor Street

Copyright (c) March 9, 2014

I’d cringe during introductions, especially under professional circumstances. I’m not shy, and I know I’m great at what I do, and I certainly needed to attract more prospects, but I dreaded that inevitable question much like other people dread public speaking or swimming in shark infested waters, “So, what do you do?”

Deep breath, and here we go: “I’m a writer,” I’d say.

Then they ask, of course “So, what do you write?”

“Uhhh. Just about anything. What do you need?” I’d answer.

Wrong answer. Eyes glaze over, everyone rapidly switches the subject. I didn’t even have the good fortune of a bad pitch – I had no pitch, but technically, I didn’t have a better answer. What do I write? The longer version is that I write multi-million dollar award-daphnepictureBandWwinning grants and proposals; create economic development and  feasibility studies…

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