Shiny Object Syndrome

We have ALL been there friend.

You go into the store for one thing and come back with 5.  Please tell me I'm not the only one this happens to.

Shiny object syndrome is a reality in business as well.  Any other opt-in hoarders, um collectors, out there?  I have a folder.  And they all land there in the digital abyss never to be seen again for the most part.  And then there are the gems I sign up for twice for.

From Facebook campaigns to email lists to graphic bundling sites, every one is in a mad clamor for your attention, your time and eventually your money.  By the end of 2017, I had over 200 emails a day coming in from things I had opted in for.  I only read two of them. 

Starting last week, I've been on a mission to declutter my world.  Getting 200 emails a day all telling me I needed to buy this or listen to that or implement these 15.7 steps to 7 figure success was stressful and exhausting.  I unsubscribed from everything.  And resigned up for the 2 emails I actually read.

Shiny object syndrome (SOS) is a real thing in business.  Especially for entrepreneurs.  It goes after how we are wired.  We are the early adopters, the ones excited about change, the innovators always looking for the better way to get things done.  But SOS commandeers those strengths and turns them into distractions that confuse team members, make it difficult to finish projects, lead to planning lapses and that burn holes in our bottom lines.

I get it.  At one point while I was living in Africa, I had 10 websites.  Yep 10 websites.  Every new idea I flirted with wound up with a brand, a business plan and its own shiny new spot on the world wide web.  There was my personal blog, my art site, my organizational platform, an idea for a fundraising strategy, a blog for social enterprise, well you get the idea.  Eventually everyone, including me, was confused at what I was doing.  #designerproblems

More is not always merrier.  New is not always necessary.

Here are some things I am committed to with my business to keep it on track growing toward sustainable profitability:

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↑ Think this might be helpful someone you know?  Share it on Pinterest with your tribe.

  • Not every idea needs to be acted on.  And almost never immediately.  Write it down and literally put in on a shelf to let it simmer.  Research it.  Write down pros/cons and costs/benefits.  Then let it simmer some more.
  • If you have a team you work with, get together and bat ideas around.  Inspect them from every angle.  Play critic as well as cheerleader.  If you don't have a team, grab some friends and fix that.
  • Go through your subscriptions and cancel all of them you don't read.  And cancel all the apps you don't actively use.
  • If you have marketing emails {graphic bundle sites I'm looking at you} that lead to leakage from your budget, unsubscribe.  Set boundaries that govern your buying of company assets.  No deal is a good deal if you don't actually need it.
  • Stay in your lane focused on what you have been given to do.  Not on what the latest algorithm-busting-short-cut is to get more followers.

How do you stay focused in an online world that competes for your attention?  Any tips you've found really helpful?  Share away in the comments so we can all grow together.

Branding Is More Than Your Logo


What's the first thing that comes to mind when you heard the word "branding"?  A logo?  A color scheme?  If you said yes, you are not alone.  That's why so many people outsource their brand design to a graphic designer only to wind up frustrated with the results. Most graphic designers are not also brand and business strategists.

And we don't have time for you to be frustrated or for you to not get a great return on your investment, right?

 So here is a little post explaining the differences between branding, marketing and design and how they all play a winning game together.  {Yup, I'm using a sports analogy.  I promise it has nothing to do with watching my hometown Jacksonville Jaguars crush their NFL playoffs in the background.}

Let's break it down.

Branding is about who you are.  Marketing is about creating awareness & attracting attention based on and highlighting who you are & what you offer. Graphic design is the process, skills and tools used to create the visual elements of your brand identity and marketing campaigns.  

Branding is about identity. Marketing is about information. Branding is about big picture strategy. Marketing is about metrics and tactical goals to implement that strategy.

Branding shapes marketing, not the other way around.  You have to know who you are before you can boldly introduce who you are to the world.

Another way to look at it is that marketing is the vehicle used to deliver your brand message to your target audience. Marketing is ever changing and evolving as the channels for your message change over time.  Your brand however remains constant, clear, recognizable.

Branding is central and primary to every other marketing tactic.  It actually defines which tools and tactics your company should use.  Branding creates and cultivates customer experience and expectations. It is the base upon which customer loyalty is built and anchored.

For marketing to be truly successful it must be rooted in a strong brand identity.  {No matter how well you are pitched, please do not invest in expensive marketing tactics until you have a solid brand strategy to guide their use.}

While brand strategists and consultants can play invaluable roles helping you define and develop your brand, your brand itself cannot be outsourced. 

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You can't outsource your brand because can’t outsource who you are.  Branding infuses everything you and your team members say and do. Every interaction, every decision is either strengthening or weakening your brand. 

Marketing, however, can and often should be outsourced to firms who specialize in handling practical tactics and detailed implementation, after a strategy congruent to your brand identity has been chosen.

Graphic designers that may not understand brand strategy can still design you beautiful visual elements.  But without the strategy to inform those designs, you might not be communicating the right message to the right people.


  • Identity
  • Big picture strategy
  • Shapes marketing
  • Central & primary
  • Cannot be fully outsourced, you can't outsource who you are
  • Driver of organizational culture


  • Information
  • Metrics & tactics to implement strategy & measure impact
  • Vehicle used to deliver brand message to target audience
  • Can and often should be outsourced


  • Image creation & design implementation
  • Determined by brand strategy & marketing goals
  • Can and often should be outsourced

The truth is: you ARE a brand.  Whether you want one or not, you are a brand that is added to or detracted from with every decision, choice and action you take

Your graphics are not your brand, but they are an incredibly important part of your brand.  Your graphics are a visual execution of your brand identity that let's you communicate with you customer base.

The problem is in the mad rush to attract customers, do our thing and beat the bottom line, sometimes we rush right past what may be the most important part of all: clearly defining who we are.

Great branding is about authentic story-telling and clear, creative communication that reflects accurately your identity to your audience.  Great branding invites your customers to become an integral part of your story line. Because they are.  Integral.  To everything.  Your customer is always the hero of your story.

Branding is the soul of your company, your organization and your work.  It affects every area of your business.  From marketing to organizational culture, your brand story will drive both customer and employee experience.

That’s why you should never trust your brand development to a straight-up marketing firm unless they have a dedicated branding division with proven track record of helping their clients discover who they are at deeper levels and building congruent visual identities and brand strategies.

Many marketing firms say they have branding divisions.  But they don’t.  They have graphic design divisions.  If your “branding expert” isn’t asking you soul searching questions that unlock more of who you are, there is a good chance you might not be dealing with a true branding expert. 

Marketing pushes may bring new customers to come in your door but they will do little to keep customers coming back.  Your brand identity is what causes new customers to become loyal consumer advocates of who you are.

If your brand is not authentically defined and artfully designed, marketing efforts will become a cost center instead of an income generator. While some may debate the finer differences, branding is strategic while marketing is tactical and metric.  

Strategy defines tactics, not the other way around.  Who you are shapes what you do and everything else.


Why Openness is My Word for 2018


It is hard to believe my calendar is now reading 2018.  2017 was a white-knuckled roller coaster ride of year.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I've started and stopped this blog and restarted and stopped it again.  I think it took me a year of finding my footing in this new season to really even know what I had to write about.  I'm a big believer in not throwing words on a screen just because it is good for my SEO or bottom line.

Words to me are sacred things.  Time is the most valuable treasure we have and I am not willing to waste either-- words or time.  If it doesn't add genuine value and bring encouragement, I'm just not going to do it.

There are HEAPS of amazing blogs out there on entrepreneurship, on creativity, on creative entrepreneurship, on branding and marketing and there is so much information swirl it is easy to feel like you are caught in a conceptual rip tide of advice and insight.

And I did not, I do not want to add to the current.  After a year of trial and error and a lot of soul-searching, this space is now dedicated to serving you with Encouragement + Insight for Creatives + Entrepreneurs. 

A place to share this journey into wholehearted entrepreneurship with you in hope that it will inspire your own.  A place to be real and raw and lay it all out on the proverbial table.   A place to share what I am learning and insights that I pray will pour courage into your creative soul and put actionable tools in your hand to build your business.  A place to forge community rooted in authenticity.  A place to know you are not alone.  Not ever.

On Jan 3, 2017 I first published this website and went all in on launching this dream full time.  Now a year later it is becoming what it is meant to be, and myself with it.  The journey to embrace our story and become who we really are might be the bravest journey of all.

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You do know it is more than OK to try things and then change them and try again until you find what fits, right?  No one expects you to nail it the first time out of the gate.  You might.  But it is really OK if you don't.  Just keep trying.

I chose COURAGEOUS as my word for 2017.  Every little step in the right direction, was a victory of courage and grace.  It has been a year that left stretch marks on my soul.  New things have a way of doing that. 

In 2013, health issues and organizational changes forced me to walk away from 130 children I thought I would raise for the rest of my life.  It forced me to move out of the home I had built in the heart of a conflict zone in South Sudan.  I wound up back in the USA with every single dream I had poured my life into for 7+ years stripped away.  And let me tell you, when that happens friend, the hardest journey I have ever taken has been the one back to choosing to dream again.

Maybe you've had a dream taken away, something you've built pulled out from under you, a life direction change, a lost job or career, a betrayal of trust... something you can't change and feel you could never return from.  But you can keep going.  We need you to keep going.

For 2018, my word is OPENNESS.  What a word it is turning out to be.  I want this to be a year where I live with my heart wide open to dream, to step out into the possibilities opening around, to live authentic with my soul on fire, to not be penned up by past loss or grief or pain.  It is a risky word to embrace.  But it is even more risky to live with a heart that is shut up in the name of safety.


I took a little New Year social media hiatus to take that time to put as much TLC into stewarding my own story, my own brand, my own growth as I do for my clients. And something magical has happened. All the dislocated pieces of my journey these last 5 years, the crushing pain of loss and threads of purpose, passion and platform came together... woven in front of my eyes into what can only be termed redemption.

What if your deepest setback was simply the setup for your greatest comeback?

Our setbacks can truly become the stage for our greatest comebacks. Our deepest sorrows the seeds of our most profound joy. How could that perspective reframe and transform the struggles you have walked or are walking through?  That's what I hope and pray for each of you friends this year. A joy that is rooted deep in your creative purpose. And now I'm going to tuck back away and finish this website (and client deadlines) because I cannot wait to open this space and invite you in, that we all may flourish together.  You are wildly loved.

How about you friend: what is your word for 2018?  Do you have an action plan for walking it out? Are you excited?  Scared?  Hopeful?

{Pop down to the comments and let me know!  I want to hear about YOUR word for 2018.}