Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess

Why “Research Goddess”?
February 2, 2010, 7:00 am
Filed under: Networking/Social Media, Rants, Recruiting, Research, Thoughts

“Research Goddess” is a silly nickname that was assigned to me nearly 4 years ago. The story behind how it came to pass is pretty interesting, so let me share with it with you and put to rest any notion that its meaning is anything more than completely fun and innocent.

When I left my first internet research job, which I held for 4 years, I also left a sizable internet research community via a listserv (numbering near 500 participants). As it was a proprietary listserv, I was no longer allowed access to it. I started my blog in order to stay connected to several of these researchers as well as to meet new people outside of that community. My first blog, by the way, was called “SPI Research” (now simply a placeholder), NOT Research Goddess. Research Goddess came about after I had conversations with Joel Cheesman and Jim Stroud. Joel informed me that I needed to create a memorable identity (as he did with Cheezhead), and Jim told me it would be in my best interest not to tie my blog directly to the company for which I worked at the time. He told me it would be hard to continue with the blog title “SPI Research” if I ever left SearchPath International, which I eventually did a year later.

Jim and I played around with some new possible blog titles on the phone one day, most of which I cannot recall now. In jest, I threw out “Research Goddess” and the line went silent. I thought at first I’d lost the connection, or that it was a horrible idea, but then I heard an enthusiastic “That’s awesome!!” from Jim. I chuckled, stating that it was just a joke, but Jim insisted that it was a great blog title and a memorable one at that. To this day, whenever Jim calls me or I call him, he always greets me with “Hello, Goddess!” It makes me giggle that he still does this, as it’s all in good fun.

As months turned into years, the nickname stuck. In fact, when I go to conferences now, I usually introduce myself and then throw in “I write Research Goddess”, and only then do I get the “Ohhhh, I know who you are!” responses. I am almost better known by my silly pseudonym than I am by my real name. What this tells me is 1) it’s a memorable nickname, but 2) I need to do a better job of tying who I really am in with the nickname. Working on that…

As a test to those of you reading this, here are a couple of other popular ‘nicknames’ of people you might recognize:

  • The Sourceress
  • The Searchologist
  • Cincy Recruiter
  • HR Bartender
  • The Recruiter Guy
  • The Red Recruiter
  • Recruiting Animal
  • MN Headhunter

While you may not know their real names off the top of your head, you recognize the names and know that each has a niche or a gimmick that is recognized and understood. That’s one of the important parts of creating a memorable identity for yourself. And one of the reasons “Research Goddess” has stuck to me.

Does it mean I believe I am a goddess? Heck no. I’m just another girl in this game, trying to learn and grow just like the rest of you, while sharing my thoughts with this little community. And quite honestly, for those of you who know me, I mean REALLY know me, you know that pretentious, selfish, or conceited are not words that describe me. Opinionated, yes. You’ll never have to wonder where I stand on issues. But having an opinion does not equate to being full of oneself.

If you think that the nickname “Research Goddess” means that I think I am an expert or a guru of sorts, please talk to any of my peers and learn otherwise. I will say that I feel blessed to have had opportunities cross my path that have enabled me to learn and develop my skills. As such, I do believe I have a decent grasp on good research techniques as well as some application of social media technologies when it comes to sourcing. Also, I believe my peers will tell you that I certainly have earned any praise that I have received. I believe I’ve worked hard and contributed some value to this industry, and I hope I’ve done a good job of paying it forward as well. BUT… I know I still have SO much to learn, and you will never hear me say anything to infer that I feel I’ve ‘arrived’. EVER.

If after having talked to my peers you still believe there is a conceited, pretentious, or conniving underlying purpose for my blog and my nickname, I strongly urge you to leave a comment here. Or call me directly – (360) 389-3227 – and let’s talk. Give me your thoughts as to why you believe this of me, and make some constructive suggestions for alternatives. I’m open to all ideas if you think I should take another direction. All I ask is that you don’t judge me or my intentions until you get to know me.

In the end, you’re certainly entitled to think whatever you want to about me. But I believe my work, my track record, and my peers’ experiences with me speak louder than anything else. I hope this sheds some light on the whole ‘research goddess’ thing. It’s just a stupid nickname, but it helps people recognize and remember me. And in my book, that’s a good thing.


My Pledge To Communicate With You
January 19, 2010, 8:30 am
Filed under: Networking/Social Media, Thoughts

I have a confession. Over the last several months, I have sucked when it comes to communicating. Phone calls have gone unreturned, and emails have been piling up in my inbox. Looking at my inbox right now, I have 1,480 unread messages just in the mail email alone, not to mention a few of the filters I have. I have a few other boxes with close to 100 unread messages. Sure, lots of the unreads are probably notifications or email subscriptions that someone signed me up for just because I gave them a business card at a conference (shame on you!) – but the fact remains that I haven’t done a good job at staying in touch.

I could use any excuse in the book – the move, the travel, settling in to a new place, new job, etc. But I’m not going to because I’m tired of making excuses for not achieving the things I set out to do. It’s a bad habit I’ve somehow picked up and has never been a part of my M.O. before, so I am losing it today. No more excuses.

I feel like a hypocrite talking about the importance of networking and developing relationships with people, when many of you reach out to me and never receive a response, or it takes several weeks at best. Networking is not just about friending someone, or leaving a note on their Wall, or accepting a LinkedIn invitation, or retweeting something they said. It’s about responding, engaging, and building trust. And it may sound silly to you but I think it’s hard to trust someone who doesn’t acknowledge your attempts at communicating with them.

I’m so sorry 😦

So my pledge to you today is this:

  1. No more unreturned phone calls. If you call me, you can expect a returned call within 48 hours. If you thought enough of me to reach out, I am going to return the favor right back to you.
  2. Personal emails will be responded to within 72 hours. I’m trying to give myself more personal time on the weekends, so if I get an email on Friday, it might be Monday before I respond, but I WILL respond.

To do this, I am going to need your support:

  1. Be specific – if you have a question you want me to help you with, be specific about it. Don’t just say “I’d like to pick your brain”; tell me how exactly I can help you!
  2. Be patient with me – we’re all human and we all make mistakes. I am not planning to slip up on this pledge, but it might happen and I might fall behind at some point. All I ask for is encouragement; be my cheerleaders! Kind words do more to motivate me than you may know…
  3. Return the favor – we all lead very busy lives. For some of us, email or a phone call is the only way to stay in touch any more. I miss a lot of my friends whom I used to talk to a lot; please call me back 🙂

I hope you will all hold me accountable to this pledge. I’m completely serious about this: I am drawing a line in the sand. The time for action is now, and I am excited about reconnecting. Look for me in your inboxes and on your caller ID!

2009 In Closing: Life Is Wonderful
January 4, 2010, 6:00 am
Filed under: Thoughts

Several of my friends and colleagues have been setting New Year resolutions and predictions, and reflecting upon the last year, as well as the last decade. I was sitting at Starbucks over the weekend with one of my AT&T coworkers and we were talking about the last 10 years and the ups and downs that have happened. For me – 10 years ago I was a senior in college ringing in the new year in Gainesville, FL, and discovering that my desired career path wasn’t, in fact, what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. 2 1/2 years later, I landed my first job in an industry that has allowed me to discover a passion in social media.

Between the years 2000 – 2009, I’ve had ups and downs just like everyone else. I’ve been hired and fired, recruited and laid off, in and out of love, and I’ve welcomed new family members to the world and said sad good-bye’s to loved ones. I’ve built beautiful new friendships and cried as old ones soured, I’ve left familiar places for the complete unknown (several times!), I’ve taken risks that turned out to be bad decisions, and I’ve tried new things that ended up being the best decisions of my life. I have started businesses that were lucrative for a season, and learned that it’s OK to move on to new things without considering yourself a quitter. I’ve read books, blogs, magazines, published articles, spoken at conferences, shook hands, laughed, cried, hugged, and loved freely because that’s what life is all about. It’s about living and enjoying everything around you.

In thinking about the last 10 years, even the worst days carried valuable lessons. I learned how not to do something, how not to act, how not to conduct business from these low points. In the high points I learned how awesome real friendship is, how wonderful family can be (even when they’re irritating!) and how luck is non-existent because opportunities come by us every day – we just have to learn to recognize and embrace them. For all its ups and downs, the first decade of the new millennium I think was pretty great.

I am reminded of an old movie from the 80s called Parenthood. In the movie, the old grandmother talks about a roller coaster and a merry-go-round at a carnival. She says how the roller coaster was frightening and exhilarating all at the same time, with all the ups and downs and the incredible speed at which it runs. She then talks about the merry-go-round and how some prefer it to the roller coaster because it’s closer to the ground, and it feels safer. She then shares how she prefers the roller coaster because the merry-go-round just goes around and around, never getting anywhere. Such is life, in my personal opinion.

I think the last decade, and in particular the last year, had to happen in order for us to really appreciate all the wonderful things in life. You cannot know love without knowing loss. You cannot know true success without knowing what it feels like to fail. You cannot appreciate good friendships without knowing what bad ones look like. We must take the bad with the good to understand everything that life has to offer. And so, I feel thankful for 2009, 2008, 2007, and so forth because of all the amazing learning opportunities I’ve had and how enriched I feel my life is because of them.

I think the perfect ending to 2009 and the ideal beginning to 2010 can be described in the words of Jason Mraz‘s song, Life Is Wonderful. Because it truly is. The good moments as well as the bad moments shape each of our individual life experiences and make us into who we are. By learning from each one, we make the choice to turn the good into bad, or the bad into good. The only time we fail is when we fail to dust ourselves off and keep making progress.

Happy 2010 to you – may your year be Wonderful.

“It takes a thought to make a word
And it takes some words to make an action
And it takes some work to make it work
It takes some good to make it hurt
It takes some bad for satisfaction.” ~Jason Mraz

2010 Prediction: Employees MIA
December 28, 2009, 7:00 am
Filed under: Recruiting, Thoughts

As a professional in the recruiting world, I love watching employment and hiring trends and the way the decisions we make as a collective nation affect us immediately, and the ripple effects of our decisions over time. In the past decade, with the popularization of the Internet for public use, a microwave mentality has crept into our daily lives. We want everything instantly. If something doesn’t happen immediately, then we become impatient and antsy. As a result, we have forced companies to create some efficiencies to help streamline the delivery of products and services for our consumption. This is fantastic, as I believe it creates much-needed competition and quality control in commerce. However, in many instances, our desire to have what we want, right here right now, creates an urgency that forces shoddy workmanship and thus produces cheap / ineffective products or services that, if we could have waited a little longer, might have produced a higher quality, more beneficial product or service. Our impatience as a society has forced operational efficiency in some area, however in other areas it has produced poor quality work.

What does this have to do with the disappearance of the traditional employee? Last week, Paul Hebert wrote a great post on Fistful of Talent asking the corporate world to consider employee attraction and retention practices if the anchors of employee benefits, which include healthcare, were not in place to entice them to come on board. As well, earlier in the week my colleague Dave Mendoza pointed out an article from the Wall Street Journal that talked about the implications in the workforce of the healthcare bill in its current form, should it pass through Senate. (update: as of Christmas eve the Senate gathered enough votes to pass this bill)

Whether we want to admit it or not, healthcare is a huge issue today. And it’s going to affect more parts of our lives than just how we’re able (or not able) to obtain coverage. Most believe we need healthcare reform. Some think what got rushed through Senate will take care of that. Others don’t, and would like to slow down and consider some other viable options. While this is not the time or place for discussion of your position on this, I think we can all agree that whatever comes out of this situation is seriously going to affect many parts of our lives outside of our health. Including our employment situations.

Having read both of the above linked articles, and taking into consideration what I’ve learned over the years on the inside of HR and recruiting practices, I came up with this prediction:

Over the course of 2010 we will see a decline in direct-hire employees and a rise in both contractors and entrepreneurs in the workforce.

Let me just say that I am by no means an economic or social expert. The things I’ve considered in taking my stance on this prediction are simply from observing my community, my industry, and people in general. I could be completely off-base, or I could be spot on. I am simply one person with an opinion and a thought I’d like to share, with a few personal observations to back up why I think the way I do. I appreciate you respecting my thoughts in this and taking the time to read about them, even if you disagree with them.

So, why am I predicting this? Here are a couple of observations:

  • With the astronomically rising cost of healthcare coverage for employees (mind you, this has been going on for years and I fully recognize that it did not start with the onset of the government wanting to take over healthcare, but I certainly don’t feel it will be alleviated by the proposed bill either), companies are less and less inclined to offer this benefit to employees. Thus, a reasonable alternative is to hire contractors, putting the financial and benefit burden off of themselves and onto the contractor’s shoulders.
  • Necessity is the mother of invention. With the number of people unemployed or underemployed still in double-digits, it makes for a better environment for creativity in creating income, thus encouraging individuals to start a business and be self-employed.

This could be a fantastic thing. I think for some people, self-employment is the way to go. It’s not for everyone, but for those who are not averse to taking a risk, the reward can be great.

But it’s not guaranteed… and there are things to consider that companies eliminating offering benefits could have an impact on when it comes to employment, and ultimately, retirement:

  • With companies being less and less inclined to either offer healthcare benefits (and consequently 401K and retirement), or being more inclined to hire contractors so as not to shoulder the burden, this will force people to have to be proactive in seeking out their own healthcare and investment opportunities. From personal experience, I know that purchasing healthcare independently is quite expensive, and that cost will only continue to rise. I’ve read that as much as 21% of one’s income would go to nationalized healthcare, should it be instituted. *again, I’m not an economic expert, this is just what I’ve read and heard from those who live in countries with nationalized healthcare, like my friend’s mother who was a nurse in the British NHS for 40+ years – she would know!*
  • According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, our rate of savings over the past decade is pitiful, averaging near 3%. For the average household which makes about $40,000 per year, that’s a pathetic savings of $1200 yearly. In all reality, most Americans save nothing at all when you count credit card debt, car payments, and home mortgages. So obviously our rate of savings leaves a lot to be desired already. Being forced to purchase government-mandated healthcare coverage because our employer simply can’t foot the bill any longer could essentially wipe out the ability for people to continue saving even at a meager 3% rate.

Ripple effects:

  • For both employer and the individual:
    • What is a company’s incentive to hiring direct when they have to pay such astronomical costs for benefits for their employees? I believe companies will start to hire more contractors; then they won’t have to shell out for the benefits. Could be a good thing, as it would encourage more entrepreneurialism, which ultimately leads to the creation of more jobs.
  • For the individual:
    • As a result of this, contractors will end up paying out-of-pocket for health insurance (expensive), & there will no longer be ‘auto’ savings in the form of 401Ks or retirement plans – through the company, at least. Making those decisions will be left up to the individual. Again, this could be a good or a bad thing, depending on the level of personal responsibility of that individual. But as seen in the above example of personal savings over the last 10 years, it’s not a likely scenario for many.
  • For the employer:
    • An increase in recruitment and hiring costs. Employees are more likely to be loyal to a company than contractors. While contractors don’t carry the cost of insurance and 401K matching, it’s an expensive process to constantly hire new and renew existing contractors. It gets even more expensive if you’re going through a 3rd party contract provider, because not only are you covering the contractor’s rates, but the escalated rate of the provider in order for them to cover their operating costs.

Distant future ripple effects:

  • With the decline in savings in the US, as the X and Y generations reach retirement age, there will be even more of an increased demand for someone else to foot the bill, unless we get a grip today on taking personal responsibility for our futures.
  • I’m all for entrepreneurialism – if you feel called to be self-employed I totally support that! Just make sure you prepare for your future. The great thing about being self-employed is that you rely completely on your own efforts. The downside of being self-employed is that you rely completely on your own efforts. There’s no one there to blame but yourself if retirement time comes around and you didn’t plan ahead enough.

My recommendations for this 2010 prediction:

  • Individuals: Be personally responsible. Start saving today. If you don’t believe you can, find a way. I’m sure there are things in your budget you can cut back on. Do you really need that daily Starbucks latte, or 5000+ TV channels?
  • Companies: continue to offer benefits and have a leg up on your competition for talent. As other companies drop benefits like a bad habit, a company can use this to their advantage by continuing to offer them as value-adds for new hires. You’ll attract more, and loyal, talent if you offer something that your competitors no longer can.
  • Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, or it will cease to do so. Companies aren’t perfect, but employees aren’t either. Remember that the next time you’re grumbling about the popcorn tower your company gave you for a holiday gift as you’re stealing office supplies. The fact that many companies DO currently offer benefits is a privilege, NOT A RIGHT (please do not confuse the two). Yeah there are some companies out there that do shady business or don’t treat their employees well. If you work for a company like that, you have the option to leave. No one is hand-cuffing you to that desk, regardless of what you may think. (by the way, if your response to this is “but I can’t leave; I’ll lose my benefits!” – I suggest you re-read the bolded text that started this bullet point…)

Be THANKFUL for what you do have. If you currently work – you are much better off than 17% of this country as of September this year. Be careful, and think about the things you ask for; consider all of the consequences, short- and long-term. The long-term ripple effect might overcast the short-term benefit.

Disclaimer: I anticipate many varying viewpoints on government-controlled healthcare as related to this post. I don’t feel this post, or this blog, is the correct venue for that discussion, however, you have a comment to make about the rise in contractor / entrepreneur status as compared to employee status, feel free to do so! If you’re insistent upon sharing your opinion on healthcare, you are more than welcome to email me directly and I’ll be happy to engage in a civilized conversation. Thank you for respecting my space and I look forward to an engaging exchange!

“That’s Not My Job”
December 1, 2009, 7:00 am
Filed under: Thoughts

…yeah, it kinda is.

Ever go to someone at your company to ask for help, only to have them respond, without even looking up at you, with “That’s not my job”? Or called customer service to get resolution on an issue, only to be told “I don’t do that” and not even be forwarded to the right person or at least provided with another number to call?

This attitude of “not my problem!” is out of control today, in my opinion. Sure, you might not have the answer, but with networking being all the rage these days, isn’t it possible that you know someone whose job it actually IS? So, instead of saying “That’s not my job”, how about responding with “I don’t know, but let me see if I know someone who does!”

Customer service isn’t a department in your company – it’s a job that belongs to all of us. And that ESPECIALLY includes internal customer service. To jump on the buzzword bandwagon here, nothing speaks louder about employment brand than how we work to help each other out on the inside. Employees of the company can be your biggest allies – or your worst nightmare – for building a positive employment brand.

I’m not saying that you should let people use you – because there will always be those individuals who will try to pawn their work off on you all the time. Make sure you establish a SLA (service level agreement) with your teammates and colleagues so there is an official procedure for getting things done. But if someone asks you for help, don’t just leave them hanging if it’s outside of your scope. See if you can find someone to help them. Even if the issue doesn’t get resolved, you’ve still painted a positive picture by putting forth the effort. Besides, it takes maybe a minute or two to redirect someone. Can you spare 1/10th of a percent of your day to make a good impression? I sure hope you’re not that busy!

Fast Company: Does Your Company Need A Dedicated Tweeter?
November 23, 2009, 7:00 am
Filed under: Article Reviews, Networking/Social Media, Technology, Thoughts, Twitter

Last Tuesday, Chris Dannen wrote an article on Fast Company giving a brief analysis of Weber Shandwick’s study which found that big companies just don’t get Twitter. At least, that’s what they say. Dannen followed up with an assessment that perhaps companies need a dedicated tweeter who won’t stick just to tweeting about ‘brand awareness’ but also bring more personal flavor to it:

“To succeed on Twitter, I’d bet that companies need do no more than ask those questions–and then hire that person to tweet about anything but brand awareness and product news. Twitter is so popular because it’s so personal and so direct; give one person the keys to your brand’s castle, and they’ll go out and connect. But don’t try to drag the whole board-room table.”

I disagree with this, and I wanted to respond to this post here on my blog in hopes of bringing more attention to the post and soliciting more feedback on this issue.

I have to wonder if individual user accounts who tweet on behalf of these companies were taken into consideration in Weber Shandwick’s study, or if the only Twitter accounts that were considered were officially endorsed accounts, created by the companies themselves. I for one know that many companies have employees who represent them, on a rather official basis, but they aren’t ‘branded’ as a company account because the companies realize the need for personalization of their Twitter presence.

Furthermore, each company is going to have a different purpose for using Twitter. Some perhaps don’t need/want to engage there. Anyone who understands marketing and social media strategy knows that the shoe doesn’t fit everyone in the same way. I saw that the Weber Shandwick study discusses that briefly.

As to the original question of this post, I don’t think a dedicated “tweeter” could/should be a full-time job at this point. It should be part of many people’s jobs, not just one person. The idea of having one dedicate person reeks of the antiquated “spokesperson” concept, and if you take a look at the way business is done today, there is never just “one voice” of a company any more, especially not within the walls of social media.

I think it’s better to ask several people, who understand your company (i.e. NOT a brand-new intern), to participate in some degree. This doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t, in my opinion) rest solely with one internal team or individual. It should be a collaborative effort – after all, if the purpose of a company being on Twitter is to engage, shouldn’t the entire company be represented, not just one person or group of individuals which has decided that they ‘own’ the company’s social media presence? (a whole other issue itself…)

How about you – what do you think about this? Should companies hire a dedicated tweeter or team of people whose sole function is to tweet (and I’m sure engage on other social media)? Leave your thoughts in a comment below.

The Iceberg of Success
October 7, 2009, 7:00 am
Filed under: Networking/Social Media, Rants

This post is gonna get kind of ranty. Consider yourselves warned. 🙂

When you look at an iceberg, you’re seeing only a small portion of the whole iceberg above the water. In fact, it’s estimated that as much as 80-90% of an iceberg is below the surface of the water. You never see 80-90% of the iceberg. Success is much the same. When you look at someone who has achieved it, you’re only seeing a small portion of what’s behind it. You don’t see humble beginnings, taking chances and failing, bankruptcies, or wrong choices. So it’s easy to attribute someone’s success to “luck” or some other ridiculous excuse as to why they’re there and you’re not.

Luck happens when opportunity meets preparedness. Success is found traveling a narrow, difficult, and rarely traversed road. For this reason alone, not many people achieve true success. In the Declaration of Independence, we are guaranteed the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What we are NOT guaranteed is happiness itself. If you choose to pursue it, you have the opportunity and the freedom to do so. But it does NOT mean that you’ll necessarily find it. I think a lot of people today feel like they have a right to happiness. But if it were handed to you without having to work for it, you would neither appreciate it nor place appropriate value on it. That’s why success and happiness must be worked for.

We look at others who are deemed successful – people like Bill Gates, Anne Mulcahy (former CEO of Xerox), Warren Buffet, Vera Wang, and others, and see what we consider finished products, people who’ve amassed incredible wealth and success in their careers. What we so often do not see are the years and years of learning, hardship, trial and error, and failure, which got these people to where they’re at. And what many so often sadly do is judge, and even resent, the success these people have achieved simply because they’ve achieved it, saying things like “They ought to be giving more to charity” or “It’s just wrong for someone to make that much money”.

Give me a freakin’ break. Take off your robe and put down your gavel and take a look in the mirror instead.

The only reason you say that is because it’s not YOU. If YOU were in that position of success, you would applaud the success of others instead of resenting it. The people who wag their fingers in the face of successful people and tell them how ‘selfish’ they are, how they aren’t ‘doing their part’  to give back to society, or that it’s a sin for someone to have so much, are probably not doing a whole lot themselves. The reason I say this is that every successful person I’ve ever met in my life knows how hard it is to work toward and reach goals, and they respect those who’ve set and achieved goals and found personal success. They don’t sit around coveting what others have or declaring that it’s not deserved; they go out and get it for themselves.

I’ll get really transparent here. The fact of the matter is that I’ve been at the low end of the totem pole. I’ve been in situations where I literally had $6 to my name, and that had to last me through the end of the month and had to put gas in my car to get to work and food on my plate. I’ve been in the situation where I racked up a large amount of credit card debt from making poor choices. I had academic scholarships to pay for my college tuition, but I had to work a full-time job all through school to pay for room and board because my mother had no income for the entire first year I was in school due to a serious work injury and Worker’s Comp’s refusal to handle the situation (another topic for another time). I’ve had to work two jobs, 16 hours a day, 6 days a week to save enough to move out on my own. I’ve had to couch-surf at my brother’s place because I couldn’t afford to rent my own apartment for two months after I moved to Cincinnati. And I am grateful for every single one of these difficult situations in my life because it made me appreciate reaching my goals that much more. I rose above my situations and found my own success. I’m not done yet, but I’m pretty damned proud of where I’ve gotten to today.

As a result, I am someone who believes that achievement, not entitlement, should be rewarded. This ‘Robin Hood’ mentality that so many have today I think is misguided. People who have taken steps to better their lifestyle and are currently in a place where they are seeing the fruits of their labor should not be penalized (like being taxed a third of their income) for doing so. None of us is guaranteed happiness. We’re guaranteed the right to pursue it. Some choose to pursue it, others don’t. And those who choose to pursue it are all at different points in their pursuit. Some are at the beginning and still struggling, but they have hope. Others have achieved some goals and should be allowed to enjoy what they’ve accomplished. I dislike when people take a look at, and then choose to criticize, an end product and don’t ever take into consideration the time and heartache that went into achieving that success. We all have to start somewhere.

The quote at the bottom of my email signature says ‘Remember where you came from, and always reach back.’ I have the honor and privilege of giving back from my own abundance to some wonderful causes that encourage and uplift people to help them get through tough times and achieve success again in their lives. I am inspired by people who struggle, and fail, but who get back up and make things work. I’ve worked very hard to get where I am and I will not apologize for what I have, nor will I be made to feel guilty for it either.

In my honest opinion, those who complain about how unfair it is for some people to achieve and be rewarded for that achievement while others struggle don’t have any aspirations of getting any further than where they are today and are just looking for someone to blame for their lack of drive. You cannot look at another’s success and judge them based only on what you see. Behind that success inevitably is a story of struggle, and a person who appreciates the hard work it took to get where they’re at, as well as a person who generally wants to assist others in finding similar success.

If you’re currently in that place where you’re struggling – keep moving forward. You’re going to fail sometimes, but you must get back up and continue. When you achieve your goals, the reward we be that much sweeter. And look to those who’ve achieved success not with resentment or jealousy, but as a source of inspiration. After all, they were once where you are.