4 People Who Always Find Opportunity

By Arionne Alyssa Nettles, AviBrand’s Chief Pilot

It may be November, but there’s no reason you can’t find opportunity as the temps start to drop, and everyone gets into holiday mode. In fact, it is the perfect time to take advantage of other people’s slowdown and find opportunities within your field to stand out.

The best way to do this is to work toward a new accomplishment, which is actually easier than you may think. So, snuggle up with your laptop and red-cupped Starbucks, and get to work this month.

1. The Brainiac

A great way to find opportunity is just to be better — better than you used to be and better than the competition.

In every industry, customers and clients want the best option they can get. It’s why no matter how hard tech companies try, not a single one has been able to take away Apple’s massive market share. In just the mobile phone sector, for example, the iPhone has over 44 percent of smartphone subscribers, according to a July report by comScore.

Be like Apple: be the best at what you do. Commit to taking classes or trainings and practicing your skill multiple times a week.

2. The Problem-Solver

Businesses are built on need. If no one needed anything, your field wouldn’t exist. So if you can find a way to solve a problem that is currently affecting your industry, you’ll be a winner.

The problem you address doesn’t have to be a large one, either. Just look at Warby Parker. (Raise your hand if you hate going to the eye doctor for fear that you’ll have to sell your first-born child for a new pair of specs.) WP sells only one product: glasses. And not just any glasses, but an array of well-crafted and designed glasses at a much more affordable price. The company takes it a step further with its social responsibility — providing eyewear for those in need around the world.

Be on the lookout for problems that you can solve effectively, giving value to your customer. This same approach works both as an entrepreneur and while working for others.

3. The Advancer

Sometimes, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just make it better. If you can take something that’s just okay and make it amazing, you’ll be seen as the star that you are. Really.

We see this a lot in the social media tech space. Whatever company can capitalize on what people want at the moment wins. Twitter’s Vine platform took people’s love for video and ran with it. Then, Instagram hopped on the train and added it to its app. Later, Snapchat came through and realized that people want to share their whole lives and have it disappear in 24 hours. Periscope took advantage of people’s desire be where their favorite influencers are and made live streaming popular. It might become social’s newest phenomenon. Go figure.

Whatever company can stay on top of what people wants, wins so don’t be afraid to make something better. If you don’t, someone else will.

4. The Innovator

Sometimes, the market doesn’t know what it wants. In the words of Henry Ford, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Note: there’s a ton of debate as to whether or not Ford truly said this phrase, but its meaning remains true. Nobody was checking for cars until Ford created the Ford Model T in 1908. Why? Because they didn’t know what a car was.

It all sounds simple, but being ahead of the curve is a trait that few have and even fewer people act on. If you’re in touch with your industry, you know what people want before they even do and there’s opportunity in going that extra mile to push that new thing.

Your Challenge

  • List at least three opportunities in each category that your industry needs. Don’t worry about execution or feasibility yet, just brainstorm.
  • Choose the opportunity in each category that appeals to you the most. Are there any that you’re excited about?
  • Out of the four, choose the opportunity that you can execute (either with resources you have or that you would want to get).
  • Save this idea and start to think about how you can get a running start on it in the next two months. We’ll use it later for more planning!

be bullish

About Arionne

Arionne - CrownArionne Alyssa Nettles is AviBrand’s Chief Pilot and a professional storyteller—journalist, business writer, and content marketer—who specializes in helping people and businesses share their stories. She loves to help brands create content that can leave a mark with their target markets, but as founder and editor-in-chief of Urban Shake Magazine, journalism is her real superpower. When she’s not training for a race or enjoying a good “champagne campaign,” she’s teaching Chicago-area teens the power of words through Write Chicago’s “sicker than your average” writing workshops.

Be Bullish: Starting Analysis

Whoop, whoop! It’s time for the first interactive assignment of our “Be Bullish” content series. The first step? Seeing what we’re starting with. Check out our Starting Analysis and see where you stand. Let’s get aggressive, let’s knock out a few goals, let’s be bullish!

“Be Bullish” Starting Analysis

Got something you want us to cover? Email us!

Be Bullish: Are You a Bull or a Bear?

You’ve probably heard someone describe the stock market as a bull or bear market, right? Well, those terms can actually be applied to any commodity, and what’s a bigger commodity than your brand? To us, it’s a huge value so for the rest of the year, we’re applying these market terms to branding in an interactive content series — “Be Bullish” — that you can use to charge into the new year.

So why exactly should you be bullish?

Unlike a bear market that is headed down, a bull market is on the up. Everyone is optimistic about the trend and prices are expected to go up. Basically, all is good in the hood when there’s a bull market. Investors are all smiles

So are you a bull or a bear? Here are a few ways to be much more like our strong, horned friends and less like our furry ones:

1. Be optimistic.

When it comes to your brand and the opportunities that can come from it, it’s important to be optimistic. Even in the stock market, there are theories that imply a correlation between psychology and market behavior. If you think everything will go well, then there is a higher chance that it will.

2. Be confident.

When you’re confident about your brand, other people are, too. You exude it like Beyonce’s pregnancy glow or like Kanye stealing the mic from Taylor Swift. Pretty much, everyone can see and feel it. No one is going to believe in you if you don’t.

3. Be expectant.

In a bull market, investors expect prices to go up. They expect a positive future. They expect to make a lot of money. Go ahead and expect opportunities for yourself.

Ready to get started? We sure are. Download the “Be Bullish” calendar and stick with us. We’re right here to help.

“Be Bullish” Calendar


Conversation Navigation – Tuesday, Aug. 18

Happy Tuesday! Have an educated chat at the watercooler today with these current topics to navigate the conversation:

  • Unfortunately, after Indonesian rescue workers reached the site of Tuesday’s Trigana Air Service plane crash, they found no survivors. Read more on CNN.
  • High turnover, conflict, people crying at their desks — a New York Times piece recently discussed the work environment at Amazon, quoting a ton of ex-employees. Yikes! Many customers are now starting to wonder: Can I continue to support Amazon?
  • All this talk about the Confederate flag has made it come down in every state, right? Wrong! In Mississippi, it’ll probably be up for a while. And, some folks are arguing that it’s not even offensive. Oh, okay, Mississippi. Serious side eye.
  • 2015 may be moving fast, but so far, only two albums have sold over one million copies this year. Can you guess which ones? Taylor Swift’s 1989 is leading with 1.4 million copies sold this year, followed by Drake’s If You’re Reading This You’re Too Late with 1.007 million copies sold. What’s important to note though, is that 1989 actually sold 3.66 million copies last year and is really over 5 million now. Hey now, Taylor! What it’s not too late to do is buy both of them. (See what we did there?)
  • “I’d like a ride to the Loop and some lunch, please!” You can now do more than just catch a ride with Uber. Its food delivery service, UberEATS, was launched last year in Los Angeles, but it now available in Barcelona, Toronto, Chicago, Austin, and New York City. Rides and food in just a few minutes? Sounds like a sweet spot to us.

Slow Your Roll: Read Every Article Before Sharing

By Arionne Alyssa Nettles, AviBrand’s Chief Pilot

A few years ago, social media and marketing guru Mana Ionescu taught me one super important lesson that I never forgot: Never share any article on social media without reading it first…in its entirety.

It may seem like a simple step, but nope! Everyone hasn’t gotten the point — or the importance — of actually reading what you share on your social media.

When you share an article, you’re essentially screaming, “Hey everybody! Look at this! I endorse this!” So, yes, every single time you click the share button, your credibility is on the line and yes, we’re all judging you!

Here are three tips slow your roll before you post and read the entire article first:

1. Don’t share an article based on its headline.

Headlines are often deceiving.  How else can they get you to click on it? This is called clickbait and it’s just what it sounds like — a trick to bait you into visiting the site.

The truth is that what’s in the headline may not even have anything to do with what you thought you were reading. What if you thought you were sharing an article about Beyonce’s trip to San Tropez and instead, it’s a Viagra advertisement. How embarrassing would that be? Pretty embarrassing and you should feel bad! (Well, not really bad, it’s an honest mistake. But just read it first anyway.)

2. Don’t assume that your friends have read it.

Just because all of your friends have shared it doesn’t mean that they’ve actually read it. You know them — you have brunch together on Saturdays after your SoulCycle classes and sneak in wine during your juice cleanses. You think they really read a 10-page article on the sociocultural effects of…well anything? No, they didn’t. They probably didn’t even share the short 250-word article in the local newspaper about West Nile Virus, but we know they shared it anyway. In fact, there’s going to be people sharing this without ever even skimming it. I know those people. They are related to me.

But, you can read it! You can be a source of information for your family and friends, which pumps you up on the social media brand scale, or you can just choose something else to share. Regardless, don’t you want to rely on your own judgment?

3. Check the source altogether.

Satire sites are such a common occurrence nowadays — everybody wants to be like The Onion — and even worse, many sites are written by just anyone. Literally, anyone that wants to start a website can. If you want, you can start a neuroscience paper right now, but would that automatically make you a neuroscientist?

Of course not, and so many people who are writing on websites are not journalists. They don’t check facts, they don’t write objectively, they don’t cover all sides, or provide the right context. All in all, they’re just people with websites so if you are relying on them for your news and then sharing that false news with your networks, you’re about to start getting unfollowed and unfriended because no one can trust what you post.

Don’t you want to keep your credibility intact? Here’s a great post from Slate on how to spot fake news sites that can at least be a guide next time you go to hit that share button.

About Arionne

Arionne - CrownArionne Alyssa Nettles is AviBrand’s Chief Pilot and a professional storyteller—journalist, business writer, and content marketer—who specializes in helping people and businesses share their stories. She loves to help brands create content that can leave a mark with their target markets, but as founder and editor-in-chief of Urban Shake Magazine, journalism is her real superpower. When she’s not training for a race or enjoying a good “champagne campaign,” she’s teaching Chicago-area teens the power of words through Write Chicago’s “sicker than your average” writing workshops.

Conversation Navigation – Monday, July 20

Happy Monday! Have an educated chat at the watercooler today with these current topics to navigate the conversation:

  • Google has been testing self-driving cars since 2012, but yikes! It just had its first accident involving an injury. Don’t be confused though. It wasn’t the car’s fault.
  • It’s official — the U.S. and Cuba have reestablished diplomatic relations, and today, both countries will reopen embassies in each other’s capitals for the first time since severing ties in 1961.
  • Wait, what? Gun sales boomed in June, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. It’s assumed that people were trying to get their purchases in fearing potential gun control legislation after the Charleston shooting. Go figure.
  • Here’s the skinny on the big fat Greek’s debt crisis: After a three-week shutdown, banks in Greece are finally open today. Yup, if you missed it last week, no Grexit! For details on the bailout, click here.
  • Have you heard of Sandra Bland? Her family is demanding an independent autopsy, not buying authorities’ story that she hanged herself while in police custody at the Waller County jail.

Making Firecracker Connections: What to Do With Who You Met

By Arionne Alyssa Nettles, AviBrand’s Chief Pilot

The best part about holidays is that we usually spend much of them with other peoples and if you’re one of the Americans who celebrated the 239-year-old holiday or just used the weekend as a time to enjoy friends, you probably met some new people in the process.

So you’ve got a lot of new contacts from your best friend’s barbecue, from the day party, and from the parade: now what? Well, it’s time to see what those contacts are all about! Many of the people you meet in social settings may be perfect for your professional network.

Here’s to see how:

Group of friends and family together in a kitchen1. Organize.

Go through the business cards you’ve collected or any numbers you’ve jotted down. Be sure to check your social media profiles for messages, too, since it’s common practice in relaxed settings just to yell, “Just hit me up on Twitter,” as the night ends or you change locations after a great talk.

2. Research.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not creepy or strange to research people. You don’t have to be intrusive, but be investigative and keep your eyes open. See what kinds of things they post on social media, see who they engage with, see if you even want to associate with this person again. Some people can just be “cool” from a distance — we don’t have to be friends with them.

3. Follow up.

Master networkers will tell you that when it comes to expanding your circle, it’s all in the follow-up. You need to create another interaction in order to keep your connections memorable. This is even more important when you meet like-minded people in social settings when their “work cap” is not on. Connect on LinkedIn (the best way to keep your professional network growing), send a quick email, or in some cases, both. These small connections may foster ideas for lunches, phone calls, or even future collaboration opportunities.

About Arionne

Arionne - CrownArionne Alyssa Nettles is AviBrand’s Chief Pilot and a professional storyteller—journalist, business writer, and content marketer—who specializes in helping people and businesses share their stories. She loves to help brands create content that can leave a mark with their target markets, but as founder and editor-in-chief of Urban Shake Magazine, journalism is her real superpower. When she’s not training for a race or enjoying a good “champagne campaign,” she’s teaching Chicago-area teens the power of words through Write Chicago’s “sicker than your average” writing workshops.

In-Flight Announcement: Value the Right Thing

Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.

— Malcolm Forbes

Publisher of Forbes magazine

There are so many amazing things that make you who you are and honestly, that’s what people want to see.  Whether they’re scrolling through your Twitter feed, browsing your website, or checking out your product or service, authenticity is what will get them on your side. So don’t put too much emphasis on what you’re not—you have plenty to offer already.

Repositioning Yourself for Greatness [Guest Post By AJ Linton]

When my friend, Arionne, asked me to write this article, I was completely thrown off because I didn’t feel worthy enough to offer advice on being successful. I am currently in the process of living out my GOD story. What’s a GOD story? It’s your story of purpose and destiny. What are you called to do? It’s okay if you don’t know at the moment. It took me a minute to actually learn and develop what I was called to do. Honestly, it was many mistakes in addition to numerous trial and error moments that led me to becoming the entertainment director I am today. So I’ll take the stance on speaking to you about repositioning yourself for greatness.

When I say reposition, I literally mean getting up and moving yourself—whether that is your mind, body or spirit—because you require newness for your next level. You have to disassociate yourself with the familiar, especially your thinking, in addition to people and things that mean you no good. It is impossible as a millennial innovator to not surround yourself around creators and those who aspire to inspire. You need that to grow and in order to do that, you have to stretch your thought process.

This also plays a part into effective branding and marketing for your set skill or talent. Now that you’ve decided what it is you actually want to be known for, have you changed your thinking? Do you have a clear vision of what you’d like to be? Repositioning yourself requires quiet; you can’t effectively help others reach their potential if you haven’t helped yourself by reconnecting to the source of inspiration and tapping within. The reality is that we’re all talented and equally gifted in different ways.  It all boils down to one thing: whether or not you’ve tapped into the potential you’ve always had. You don’t want to be the one everyone says, “He or she had great potential. I don’t know what happened.”

Repositioning yourself for greatness requires three things:

1) Have accountability.

If you want to be a boss, you’ve got to lead a boss life in every aspect. Accountability involves sacrifices—are you willing to put some things on hold while you rise to the top? It always a great idea to write down the negotiables and non-negotiables for your life. For me, a negotiable is sleep. (I can sacrifice a few hours of sleep provided it’s going to be beneficial to my dream or vision.) A non-negotiable for me is my faith. (I don’t want anything I’m ever involved with to make me compromise who and what I believe in.)

2) Be the connect you so desperately need to have.

Everyone, especially today, is so focused on meeting that one person they trust will help them get to the next level. While it may be true that he or she can help you, I believe in preparation. Build your own portfolio and be an asset to someone else. Serve before you lead. While you’re so busy looking for assistance, how can you be of assistance to someone? I firmly believe your 20s is the time that should be spent grinding and making worthwhile connections that will establish you in your industry. With grinding comes credibility. Have you established yourself as a credible source? What can people go to you for?

3) Stay focused.

This is the most important of them all. It is actually something that I struggle with daily, especially because I get one million ideas per second and I try to figure out how I can do them all. Prioritizing is key. You’ve got to prioritize your time  by deciding what deserves your immediate attention versus what can you develop over time. When you allow too many things to get your attention, something always lacks.

In the reposition toward success, don’t forget to put yourself first. It’s so easy to get caught up in other people’s world, given all the daily distractions of life. Remember your dreams, visions, and goals should serve as the main picture in your mind every time you complete a task. Ask yourself, How it benefit my end goal of what I desire to become?  Last but not least, define success for yourself. Don’t let someone deem what you do and who you are relevant or valuable. Everyone is not going to understand you or your dream, and guess what? That’s perfectly fine.

Too Old to Be Bored: 5 Things to Do in Your Spare Time

Multi-Ethnic Group of People Working

By Arionne Alyssa Nettles, AviBrand’s Chief Pilot

I’m sorry, but if you’re over the age of 18, you’re just too old to be bored.  At this stage in the game, an idle mind will put you farther away from whatever goals you’ve set for yourself.  In fact, I can’t name one successful person who is bored, whose time isn’t so precious that people from everywhere are vying for it all the time.  The same is true for people I know who are on track to fulfilling their dream.  Even if they haven’t “made it yet,” their time is filled with activities to make them better and to push them farther, so there’s no excuse.

If you do find yourself ready to utter the words “I’m bored,” here are five activities you can do immediately:

1. Hit the library.

The library is an amazing spot and you know why?  Because all the knowledge within those walls are free.  Aside from all of the physical books, videos, CDs, etc. in a library system’s physical location, most also have a digital borrowing system that you can access from the comfort of your own home.  You don’t even have to leave your bed!

When it comes to what you actually read, I’m a huge proponent of reading what interests you—like those affirmation books that my friends love just aren’t for me and similarly, my friends may not get my love for Sophie Kinsella’s hilarious novels.  The people that seem to read the most are those that truly enjoy what they’re consuming so feel free to pick what you love.  I do have one suggestion though: keep different genres in the mix so that your mind is always moving.  Read one book to make you think, one to lift you up, and one to make you happy, whatever that may be for you.

As a writer and a consultant, I’m constantly in need of creative rejuvenation and for me, fiction books help me hone in on different skills, whether its creating strong plots or infusing humor, so I always have one that I’m currenty reading.  My books that make me think are often those that require me to test myself and the books that I love to read for empowering myself are usually religious-based.  But, that’s my recipe.  With billions of books floating around, you’re bound to find your own personal favorites.

Currently on my nightstand (and in my Overdrive app that’s linked to the library):

  • There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America by Alex Kotlowitz
  • 14th Deadly Sin by James Patterson
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
  • The Confident Woman Devotional by Joyce Meyer

2. Join a professional or interest organization.

With your network determining your net worth—yes, you hear this all the time but that’s because it’s so true—there’s nothing more beneficial than being around like-minded people.  Professional organizations help you to step outside of your immediate circle and be around other people who have similar interests.  If none of your close friends have ever started a business, why wouldn’t you want to join an entrepreneurial group?  Although many activities may be closed to the public, most professional organizations have some events that are open to public where you can go, chat, and get a feel for its members to see if it is something that you’re interested in.

Groups that appeal specifically to your interests are the bomb dot com, too.  If you’re interested in international travel, find a group of people who are interested in exploring the world with you.  Life is short: make connections to help you do what you want to do and go where you want to go.  Going at it alone is cool, but resources help the process and your pockets.  (More on why your circle should extend beyond your friends here.)

3. Take a class…or three.

Yes, taking a class usually costs money, but hey, it’s an investment…an investment in you.  Classes of any kind improve the skills you have or create new ones.  Whether it’s for entertainment purposes or to add a new line to your résumé, new skills always translate into a stronger you.

A truth that many people miss is that skills can be transferrable and in most cases, they are.  For example, if you take a dance class as an adult just for fun, you will still inherently be building up a number of your personality traits.  To dance, you have to be diligent and practice, you have to be focused and a good learner, you have to build up your memory to remember the next step.  Now, in any industry you work in, diligence, the ability to learn easily, and remembering details are fundamental skills that often need improvement and here you are, working on them while having fun.  Who wouldn’t want that to happen?

If your pockets just can’t handle the full cost of classes right now, check out your local community colleges, park districts, and community centers for inexpensive and discounted programs that fit your interest.  Many may also be free.  Digitally, you can also take classes for virtually anything online in today’s world.  A new trend is taking classes on Google Hangouts—some are inexpensive and some are even free on this platform, too.

4. Collaborate.

Even if you see yourself as an introvert, working with other people is needed.  If you luck up and get a job that you can generally do in your pjs—as a freelance writer, I’ve spent days in my house before kicking myself in the rear and going outside to rejoin the real world—you still need to get up and find ways to work with humans.  Talking to people is a good thing.  Trust me.  Your computer is great and can do a ton of things, but what it can’t do is completely replace human interaction.  The key, however, is working with the right person or group.  If you and your partner(s) have similar work habits, then you’ll be more likely to get along and to find your optimal groove—one that will benefit everyone and allow your team to create something amazing.  It doesn’t have to be an everyday thing, but on some project or venture, team up.

Another benefit of collaboration is that you will naturally pick up new skills and talents from those you’re working closely with.  When I first started in corporate marketing, I was all over the place.  At first, it was frustrating not always having a specific place on the team, but my coworkers were amazing—each with his or her own strength—and collectively, we were able to create amazing projects.  The best part was all of the skills that I started to pick up by working with such an eclectic group of people.  I literally can list three to five solid let-me-add-this-to-my-résumé skills that I learned from each one.  From the graphic designer, I learned not only how to use Adobe Creative Suite, but how to create my own unique design aesthetic—which is pretty much what you see throughout the AviBrand site [and very soon, within the app].  From the lead writer of the team, I learned how details matter and the important of consistency.  [As I’m writing this now, I’m thinking, WWAD: What would Amy do?]  I’m a much better marketer, consultant, writer, everything because of that team and I’ll forever be grateful for them.

5. Volunteer.

If you’re like me, then you probably love volunteering.  I thrive off of human interaction—I always have—and I love meeting people and feeling as if I can truly have an impact in their lives.  I personally believe in being a blessing and that we are put on this earth to give, give, and give some more.  If it’s for a great cause, use me.  I’m around for it.

Another really cool thing about volunteering is that you’re instantly surrounded by other like-minded people.  You have no idea the amount of connections you can make by giving your time.  Not only are you doing something that’s different than your everyday work, but you’re also generally surrounded by people who are successful.  Why are they successful?  Because they still have the time to give away their most valuable currency.  While you’re building a home for a less-fortunate family or serving dinner to the needy, the other people who are doing the same thing are probably similar to you.  They may not always be rich in finances, but they’re rich in spirit.  That’s who you might need to link up with for collaboration (i.e. for #5).

Need a little inspiration to start giving back?  Check out my post on being a cheerful giver.

About Arionne

Arionne - CrownArionne Alyssa Nettles is AviBrand’s Chief Pilot and a professional storyteller—journalist, business writer, and content marketer—who specializes in helping people and businesses share their stories. She loves to help brands create content that can leave a mark with their target markets, but as founder and editor-in-chief of Urban Shake Magazine, journalism is her real superpower. When she’s not training for a race or enjoying a good “champagne campaign,” she’s teaching Chicago-area teens the power of words through Write Chicago’s “sicker than your average” writing workshops.

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