One Week. One Month.

CloverIn exactly one week from today, my #SCBlaunch will finally come to life. For weeks I’ve been giving you hints on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and yes…even Pinterest! And sure, I may have spilled some of the beans to a few of you already, but for the most part I’ve kept a tight lid on this project. Let me tell you why!

I have a lot of great friends and family whose opinions I value Zac Efron and Robert De Niro show off slightly different physiques as they both go shirtless while filming a scene for 'Dirty Grandpa'dearly. I feel fortunate that I have people in my life who I can talk to about my goals, my dreams, and my crush on Zac Efron. Mind you my Zac Efron obsession has faded substantially over the last couple of years, but some of the feelings are still there. I mean, look at them abs!

Although I have a number of people I can talk to about this launch, I chose to keep it slightly under wraps because I didn’t want to get thrown too far off course. It’s great when people want to share their opinions and their suggestions with you, but sometimes it can be overwhelming and distracting. When I have too many ideas coming my way, it sometimes makes me spend too much time questioning my original plans, which doesn’t often leave a lot of time for revisions. I’m not saying that I’m so amazeballs I don’t need anyone else’s input, or that I have everything figured out, or that my launch is going to go exactly how I want it to. There will be mistakes, and there will be setbacks. I just feel that leading up to the big reveal I need to steer clear of the white noise so I can focus. Once SCB is revealed and has been out there in the universe for a few weeks, that’s when I’ll start freaking out and start asking, “Does this sound right? Does that look okay? Should I be doing this instead”?

Until then, I have one more week to pull everything together. February 17th is the big day and I can’t wait to share this reveal with you!

HeadshotAlright, that takes care of the one week part. Onto the one month thing. On March 10th, I shall be turning 28. Now I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal; I mean it’s not a milestone birthday or anything. But still, 28 feels like a big number. I feel like a lot of us have a nice long list of things we’d like to accomplish by the time we’re 30. Marriage, a kid or two, a nice house, a great career, the works! Even though I’m “only” 27 and am technically a “young” woman (depending on who you ask), I can’t help but feel that time is ticking too fast. There are so many things I want to do and for some reason, I keep telling myself I need to do a lot of them within the next two years so I can feel like a successful 30-year-old. But instead of focusing on this imaginary clock I’ve created and watch like a hawk, I’m going to try my best to enjoy the rest of my twenties. No I’m not married yet, but that means I can pick up and move anytime I want. I don’t have any cute little babies running around, but I have the opportunity to explore the world freely as long as my bank account allows for it. Now I’m not saying I’m going to completely give up on the things I set out to do before the big 3-0. I’m just going to spend a bit more time reminding myself that I don’t have to do it all, and that not checking everything off my list doesn’t make me a failure. The one thing I will allow myself to obsess over is this launch! Focusing on this one thing will help everything else fall into place when the time is right.

Since you all have been very supportive these last few weeks, I’ve decided to spill every last bean a couple of days early on Periscope! If you’re getting a little anxious and want the inside scoop before the 17th, join me on Periscope on February 15th at 6:00 p.m. MST – @CharmsJJ. Let’s chat!

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BASH Conference Recap

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Last week I had the pleasure of hanging out in Phoenix, Arizona while attending the BASH conference. BASH brings together event planners, bloggers, and entrepreneurs from all around the globe. I met some amazing women from Israel, Haiti, Bahamas, different parts of Canada (surprisingly there were only three of us), and of course all over the U.S.

I’ve been an event planner for a few years now, but no matter what stage you are in your
career, there is always room for professional development and inspiration. Kathy Romero, CEO and head of Global Planning for Preston Bailey, was invited to the conference as a keynote speaker. Kathy has had a very long and successful career in the event planning industry, and we were lucky she was able to come out and share her experience and expertise. She helps create mind-blowing events for celebrities and millionaires, but what impressed me the most was the fact that she was there for the entire three days of the conference. Keynote speakers often attend these sorts of events and stay only for the portion that includes their speech. That’s perfectly understandable as we all understand how demanding this industry can be and we simply appreciate them making the effort to come out at all. But Kathy was there from start to finish, and she attended a lot of the same sessions I did. She contributed to some of those sessions during the Q&A portion, but mostly she was there just taking it all in like the rest of us.

image4I first heard about BASH last summer, but what helped me make the final decision to go was finding out that Heather Crabtree was going to be leading one of the sessions. Heather is a business strategist who helps entrepreneurs grow their business. I started following her on Instagram a few months ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since. It was from her website that I found out she would be at BASH, and that settled it for me. She co-hosted a session with Tori Tait, called “How to Grow an Engaged Community that Moves the Bar for Your Biz”. Tori is a marketing and entertaining expert, and I’m happy this conference introduced me to her work. One piece of advice that stuck with me from this session is that your goals should be in line with your “why”. Every move you make in your business or career should be done to take you one step closer to your end goal. These can include goals you have for social media, for furthering your education, monetary goals, etc.

Another session I went to that I learned a lot from, was “Food Styling & Photography Tipsjoanna to Take You to the Top,” lead by Joanna Meyer. Now I’m in no way a professional photographer. Well not yet anyway. Maybe one day. However, I think it’s important to photograph every aspect of your event. These photos are your resume, your portfolio, your brand; everything! I usually hire photographers for the events I do, but sometimes I want to snap a few photos myself. If there’s one thing people like about events, its food! Now I don’t make the food of course (how much would it suck if I had to plan the event, design the event, AND make all the damn food?), but I usually have a hand in what food is selected, who prepares it, and how it’s served and displayed. Here are three food photography tips I learned from Joanna:

  1. Use toothpicks to help prop up your food
  2. Spray dry looking food with oil to give it a nice sheen
  3. Tweezers can be used to rearrange small singular items look noodles, nuts, etc…

Just to clarify, I’m not suggesting you serve your guests food that have unnecessary toothpicks in it, or that has been sprayed with tons of oil. Sometimes what I do, mostly for dessert tables, is lay everything out a couple of hours before the event, take pictures of it, and then I have everything put back when its time. Word of advice, make sure you show said pictures to your catering staff so they know exactly where to put the items.

image1So for the most part, every conference has a headlining guest speaker. A person everyone is excited to meet and learn from. Someone attendees likely look up to. For BASH, that speaker was globally-celebrated event designer and author, Preston Bailey! He has created immaculate events for a number of different celebrities, from Sean Parker, to the Trump family! He’s widely known for his insane floral designs and his out-of-this-world décor elements. And by out-of-this-world, I’m talking about a Brooklyn, New York-style event he did for a young woman’s going away party. He replicated the Brooklyn Bridge…like a large scale Brooklyn Bridge…one that guests had to drive through as they approached the venue. I mean, how insane is that? His creativity and his dedicated to creating “wow” factors to all of his events is simply outstanding. His latest book, “Preston Bailey: Designing with Flowers,” is something I need in my life! My birthday’s March 10th, so you know…if you want to get me a gift, I would welcome this book with open arms.

Like I said, I learned a ton of great info and left the conference feeling inspired. But just as important, I met a lot of really awesome people. When you go to a conference, no matter what the topic is, networking and forming new relationships should be one of your main goals. There are always opportunities to learn from those around you, and it’s really nice to build friendships with people who understand what you do.  Plus, later down the line you might find yourself doing a collaboration with your business besties. The opportunities are endless.

Checkout the websites and social media links below of some of the amazing women I had the pleasure of meeting.

Tasia Bland – Her Lovely Events

Jonae Charisse Events

Savannah Ashley Corcoran – Etsy Shop

 Nike & Fisola – Events

Victoria – Royal Event Services  

I’d love to give you every tidbit I learned from every session, but ain’t nobody got time for that. Below is a list of all the sessions I attended, and who they were lead by. Check out their website, follow them on Instagram or Twitter, and I guarantee they’ll lead you to valuable information.

Food Styling & Photography TipsJoanna Meyer, Culinary Creative

Panel of Event Planner SuperstarsMichelle Burt, Event Planner & Blogger: William P. Miller, Home Entertainment & Lifestyle Expert: Amy Belle Isle, Operation Shower

What Brands are looking For – Jana Perry, Jelly Belly & Beth Shivak, Jo-Anne fabric and craft stores

How to Grow and Engaged Community that Moves the Bar for Your BizHeather Crabtree, Business Strategist, & Tori Tait, The Grommet

Grow Your Niche into a Worlwide Brand – Julie Goldman, Founder & CEO of The Original Runner Company

The Art of SwagWilliam P. Miller, Home Entertainment & Lifestyle Expert

An Inside Look at Pinterest – Amy Locurto, Living Locurto

Lights, Camera, Action! 5 Easy Tips you Can Use to Get on TelevisionTisha Holman, Event Planner & Designer

I have to say a HUGE thank you to Michelle Burt, the creator of BASH. Her drive and her passion for this industry is inspiring, and her contagious energy is what made this conference fun and unique. It’s her love of event planning that brings these great women (and some men too) together every year, and I look forward to seeing this conference grow!

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Exploration

I’ve finally decided that Exploration will be my theme this year! I know we’re already 12 days into 2016, but better late than never, right?

Two years ago I started declaring a theme of the year for myself. Last year was The Upgrade, and the year before that was Getting Shit Done. I find giving myself a motivational theme gets me pumped for the year ahead, and helps me narrow down what I’d like to achieve in the next 12 months. I like picking a theme that can be associated with both my personal and professional life, and I think focusing my efforts on exploration will help me move forward this year with both.

Travel

Now who doesn’t want to travel to new places? Last year I went to British Columbia for the first time, and let me tell you, B.C. is a very beautiful province. The mountains, the ocean, and the trees…it’s all breathing taking. I went to Victoria for Social Media Camp, and was lucky enough to have two of my friends meet me there and extend the trip to Vancouver. Side note: the businessmen in the downtown Vancouver area are very dapper. You should go and see them. Like now.

This year I want to travel to a few new places around the globe, and guess what? I already have two trips booked, both starting this month! Tomorrow I’m off to Phoenix, Arizona for Bash Conference. Bash is a 3-day conference where folks in the entertainment industry can come together, form relationships with people in similar fields, and learn from other industry experts. I shall be attending as an event-planning guru, of course. Check back next week for a recap of the conference. Two weeks after I get back, off I go again…to Cancun! I’ve always wanted to go on an all-inclusive trip to Mexico, and I’m excited I finally get to go. For a whole week my friends and I will be sipping on margaritas, splashing around on the beach, and dancing the night away.

Self-exploration

Exploring different parts of the world is awesome, but I think it’s also important to make time self-exploration, whatever that means to you. I’d like to explore different activities that make me feel calm, centered, and well rested. Whether that can be achieved through a specific type of yoga (I do Jillian Michael’s yoga shred and trust me, that’s not relaxing), mediation, or painting, who knows. I’m hoping within a few months I can find something that works. This is going to be an extremely busy year for me and I don’t want to burn myself out before I’ve done at least the majority of what I’d like to accomplish.

Event Planner Extraordinaire

Remember a minute or two ago when I referred to myself as an event-planning guru? Well that’s true. I’ve been a corporate event planner for a few years now, and I’ve planned enough successful events to classify myself as an expert. When you’re in your 20s, the word “expert” is hard to say when you’re talking about you in relation to your profession. I mean, who am I to call myself an expert when I’m only 27, right? If you take anything away from this blog post today, take away this: you are an expert to someone. There’s someone out there who doesn’t do what you do or know what you know, and who could benefit from your knowledge and experience. So you’ve only been a blogger for a year. Yes, there are tons of other bloggers out there who’ve been up and running for seven years, but they don’t have your voice. They don’t have your mind. They don’t have your history. They are not you and even though you might blog about the same topic, they ain’t got yo style, gurl. Or boy. Anyway, even though I’m an expert in my field, there’s always more I can learn, and there’s always something different I can try. A new year means a new slew of events, and I’m looking forward to elevating each and every one.

#SCBlaunch

This is the thing that’s going to keep me on my toes this year. I still won’t give you all the deets, but this isn’t a short-term project. At least I hope it won’t be. I’m expecting this to have a very long shelf life but in order for that to happen, I need to make sure I have my shit together this year. Yes I will make mistakes, but I will also learn from those mistakes. I will then continue to make a few more mistakes, but I will continue to learn from those mistakes as well. But then I’ll continue…haha just kidding. You get the picture by now. Even though I know it’s normal not to get everything right the first time around, I’d like to work as hard as I can to minimize the amount setbacks I could have.

Explore. That’s the plan for the year.

What are your plans? Anything we can explore together?

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#SCBlaunch + Other Great Projects

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Happy New Year! How many days into the year can I stop saying that, anyway?

By now you’ve probably seen me use the hashtag #SCBlaunch on Twitter, Instagram, and yes…even Facebook. More on how I feel about using hashtags on Facebook, later!

On Wednesday February 17th, I’m launching something new and exciting. You may have already guessed what it is, but if you haven’t, not to worry. I’ll be posting more hints along the way so you have plenty of time to figure it out. What I can tell you now is that this upcoming project is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. Over the last year or so I’ve been struggling with whether or not to take this leap. Am I ready? Do I need more experience? Do I have the time? I asked a lot of friends and family (okay maybe not my whole family, just mama Jennings) what they thought I should do, and although I really did appreciate their advice, this really was a decision I needed to make on my own. I haven’t even launched yet and I can already feel that I’m heading in the right direction, and I couldn’t be more excited.

At the beginning of each year, everyone talks about all the great changes and new ideas that will be filling their New Year. And you know what, 2016 is no exception. I know keeping you guys waiting over five weeks to figure out exactly what my big reveal is seems like a long time. I get it. So how about a little compromise? In the meantime, I’ll introduce you to three great women who are and will be adding awesomeness to the year that is 2016.

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Dunja (left) & Laina (right)

Laina Hughes! Laina is a great friend of mine. She’s funny, smart, adorable, and loves cats. In college she published a great book called Wolseley stories; a compilation of stories about her favourite Winnipeg neighbourhood. Last month her and her friend Dunja launched their first issue of Dear Journal, a bi-annual publication that celebrates the culture and lived experiences of past, present, and future women. Yes, I stole that description from the back of the book. I’m extremely proud of what she’s accomplished so far, and I can’t wait to see this publication grow. To learn more about Dear Journal, follow them on Instagram -> @dearjrnl, or email them at dearjrnl@gmail.com to find out how you can get your very own copy!

BrittanyIn 2014, Brittany May launched an online series called Fierce Females. This series features a number of inspiring women who share details about their lives, and their views on feminism and what it means to them. What started as a school project is quickly turning into something amazing. So many great women have been featured so far, and I’m honoured Brittany has selected me as the first Fierce Female of the year. I’m really looking forward to seeing who the rest of her 2016 Fierce Females will be.

Jaclyn (Jackie) Leskiw is another good friend of mine. She’s the perfect mixture of shy and hilarious, but overall she’s just a really talented individual. She’s a photographer fresh on the scene, and an incredible one at that. She has such a unique and captivating style to her photos; every image whether it’s a silhouette or a skyscraper is simply breathtaking. Jackie’s currently finishing up photography school, and will soon be launching her own business. It’s scary to quite your day job and jump into something entirely new, but I haven’t a doubt in my mind that word of her craft is going to spread like wildfire. Here’s hoping I can get myself in front of her lens in the upcoming months. Below is a series of beautiful portraits she shot recently. To see more of her photography, visit her online gallery.

 

If you have an upcoming project in the works, or a planning a change in career paths, comment below and let’s chat!

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Periscope Is Where It’s At!

Concept of social media

Just jumped on the Periscope train a few weeks ago, and I’m obsessed! I heard about it when I went to social media camp in Victoria B.C. earlier this year, but with all the travelling I did over the summer I couldn’t find the time to dive in. Better late than never, right? For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Periscope is an extension of Twitter where people can broadcast videos in real time, and it allows viewers to comment or ask questions while the broadcast (which is actually referred to as a “scope”) is happening. I love it because I follow a lot of creative entrepreneurs in the marketing/social media industry, and I find their scopes to be really engaging, helpful, and just a ton of fun. I found a great community through Periscope that I’m super pumped to be apart of, and I’m looking forward to seeing that community grow. In the New Year I plan to start doing some of my own scopes with members of the Boss Ladies Facebook group I created recently, but of course you’ll all be welcome to join. In the meantime, if you have an interest in marketing, branding, social media, building your creative business, etc… I suggest you follow these five very talented folks:

  1. @Devan_Danielle
  2. @TheNectarCollective
  3. @PinesUpNorth
  4. @CaitlinBrehm
  5. @LisaLarter
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Boss Ladies

Starting your own business is a huge career move to make. It takes a lot of time, effort, research, planning, and so much more. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was in middle school, and I feel it’s finally the time to start putting things into motion.

I think a lot of entrepreneurs tend to be ambitious go-getters who want to do everything themselves, or feel obligated to; it can be hard to ask for help because you don’t want it to look like you don’t know what you’re doing. But there’s absolutely no shame in admitting you need someone to lend you a hand once in a while, or heck all the time when you’re just starting out.

I know a lot of young women who would like to, or are currently starting up their own businesses. I assume, like me, they could use some guidance along the way but aren’t quite sure who to tun to. Which brings me to…Boss Ladies. Boss Ladies is a Facebook group I created recently, targeted at women in Canada under the age of 30 who are on the path to becoming entrepreneurs. Starting your own business has a ton of hurdles for you to jump over, and not many people know which hurdle to tackle first. Having this support system of fellow Boss Ladies can help! Members of the group have the chance to bounce ideas off each other, provide resources, and just be there to lean on one another when we need it. Mentors with plenty of experience are also available in this group to share their expertise, so let’s learn as much as we can and better ourselves and each other. Boss Ladies unite!

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Celebrities: Chuck Hughes

You know what I find exciting? Getting the chance to work with celebrities. It was nice hosting Ray Bourque at two of my events, but as I mentioned before, I don’t really know much about sports and I didn’t know who he was before I started planning those events.

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Chef Chuck Hughes

Chef Chuck Hughes however, was a name I heard thrown around a few times before I started working on the 2nd Annual Spring Gala. Chuck was the third Canadian chef to win a cooking battle against Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America. It was his tasty lobster dishes that lead him to victory, and earned him his own TV shows, Chuck’s Day Off, and Chuck’s Eat the Street.

Spring Gala is organized to help our culinary arts students gain experience with preparing and serving fine cuisine for black-tie events. Chuck was brought in to provide guidance and inspire our students, and to entertain our guests with a cooking demo. On stage he prepared a lobster poutine that I sadly didn’t get to taste, but that smelled and looked amazing. 

Chuck was great to work with; he was extremely friendly, entertaining, and very down to earth. I really hope I get the chance to work with him again.  But in the meantime, I may need to plan a trip to Montreal. He co-owns two very successful restaurants there, Garde Manger and Le Bremner, and I could really go for his lobster poutine right about now.

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Lobster Poutine

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Lobster

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Tarte Citron

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Charcutiere Platter

IMG_1627-EditIMG_1401IMG_1301-EditIMG_1221-EditIMG_1207-Editme and chuck

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Back-to-back Events

Ray at Podium

Ray Bourque of the Boston Bruins

Carrying out two back-to-back events is always tough. It can be hard to ensure all of your logistics are planned out well for both events, when you don’t have the time in between to go over everything once again before the second event takes place.

The day after the Building Futures Gala was our Annual Sports & Education Dinner. Being in it’s 15th year I knew the colleagues I worked on this event with would have enough experience to help me out where they could, without needing too much instruction. Still, it was my first time carrying out this event and I wanted to make sure everything ran smoothly.

SportsEd2015_076My goal with all of my events is to avoid scrambling at the last minute to get everything done before guests start to arrive. Word of advice if you’re planning an event in a small town for the first time – guests tend to arrive at least 45 minutes early; I assume this is because they’re super anxious to head off to a fancy event as they don’t occur very often.

Unfortunately, a lot of scrambling ended up happening at the Sports & Education Dinner. I thought I had enough volunteers in place to help with setup until I was able to arrive back in town from the first event, but only one person had shown up. The calla lilies I ordered were a lot smaller than expected so I had to run out and buy additional flowers because I don’t like to put centerpieces on tables that don’t look picture perfect. Also, a lot of silent auction donations came in at the last minute while I was away at the first event, which was great, but I didn’t know some of the items were there until it was almost time for doors to open.

Hiccups always occur at the last minute but if you’re well prepared, they won’t seem like such a big deal when they happen. Here are a few quick tips to help you get ready for back-to-back events:

Tips

  1. Lists – I’m all about the lists. Make a list of supplies that are needed for each event, a list
    of tasks that can only be completed the day of, and a list of all the small details you’re likely to forget or leave until the last minute because you think you can.
  2. Solidify and brief your team(s) – You might think you’re able to do it all, but more often than not, that’s not the case. Create a team(s) to help you with both events and make sure you let them know in advance what their duties and your expectations are. You might not have time to brief them at the time of the event, and it’s noticeable to your guests when you have an event crew who’s not sure what to do.
  3. Décor – setup all of your décor and narrow down as many small details as possible for event number 2, before you switch all of your focus to event number 1. You don’t want to have to setup your second event from scratch on the day of if you can avoid it.

Of course there’s a lot more involved in planning back-to-back events, but what am? Some sort of expert? You may now turn your attention to the pretty pictures below.

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AppetizersBlue TableSportsEd2015_093

SportsEd2015_019SportsEd2015_004

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1st Annual Building Futures Gala

Last month I hosted my first major event for the college I work for. It was our 1st Annual Building Futures Gala to raise money for expansion plans for one of our campuses, and featured guest speaker and NHL superstar, Ray Bourque of the Boston Bruins. Sports isn’t one of my main areas of interest or expertise, but I was still excited to be hosting a former player who many local hockey fans look up to and admire.

The evening was filled with amazing food, laughter, and great company. I’ve hosted two events since which I’ll talk about in later posts, and will include a few things I’ve learned, and a few tips and tricks on what makes an event a success.

But for now, I leave you with some photos taken by Sarah Milne Photography.

*All stationery for this event was created by Digital Ink Creative. 

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Table Decor

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Stationery designed by Digital Ink Creative

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Boston Bruins Themed Table

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Room Setup

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Bird’s Eye View

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Wine for VIP Reception

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Creme Brulee by Joly’s Fine Cuisine

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Stanley Cup Winner, Ray Bourque

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International Women’s Day

Womens DayWomen get so used to competing with each other and sometimes it gets out of hand. Don’t get me wrong, a little healthy competition can motivate you and stimulate your mind, but it’s more fruitful to outdo yourself than the girl next to you. It can take some time but once you find girl friends who listen to your ideas, offer helpful advice when needed, and support your dreams, keep them close, appreciate their friendship, and reciprocate. It’s because I have so many great women in my life that I’m able to advocate for this type of companionship.

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