The best leaders are tailored communicators

You’re walking into a networking event. People have cocktails, evening attire, big smiles and excited eyes. It’s a time for mingling, gathering and learning. You know that in this situation, your best foot forward is usually to initiate conversation, listen intentionally and walk away with a new business card in your wallet or a contact in your smart phone.

The next day, you connect with that person over lunch. You get to know him or her a bit better. As you are having conversation, you learn that they REALLY like to send messages over Instagram. Frankly, that is their most responsive form of communication. You want to continue building a friendship with him or her so you shoot them a DM later that afternoon.

As the week progresses, you make a phone call to try and see what they have planned this weekend. No response.

A few days go by, you send a text message. You get a short response a few hours later. The following day, you send a meme over IG and they respond immediately.

What have you learned?

You need to meet on their side. Tailor your communication methods.

This is the case for business relationships and personal connections. Crystal Clear Communication (CCC), a term I’m taking from Melissa Ambrosini, means that in any relationship, you are straight forward, clear and succinct. No stone unturned. No vague replies. When you do this, you can meet on someone’s side.

I had a recent conversation with a friend on the phone. Usually, she is slow to respond via text messages. But, if I send a quick text to see if she is free for a call, she will usually be prompt to answer and we schedule an hour long phone call almost every time! I might not prefer a call, but that’s what SHE prefers.

In life, there is compromise. We sometimes must compromise our preferences to be better at serving others. The best situations are those when we can communicate evenly and collaborate. We can then know what works best for one another, set a plan and stick to it to succeed.

The best leaders are strong communicators. Take time to learn about someone’s preferred communication methods. Be observant! As you lead by example, hopefully, they will do the same for you! That’s ultimately what helps us collaborate, develop strong relationships and businesses.

What examples do you have of tailored communication? How do you introduce those to the people in your life or new networks?

Join the conversation here at strongsweetcaroline.com and thanks for reading or watching!

How do you protect your time?

Do you ever feel like time FLIES BY or TAKES FOREVER?

Perhaps you are doing something you LOVE! For me, that is baking or making healthy desserts. I can be in the kitchen making a few recipes and before I know it, I have been there for 2 hours. Oops!

Like this lemon poppyseed recipe I created took WAYYYY too long but it was fun 🙂 And it will be in my new dessert e-cookbook launching this next week!

Protect Your Time by Strong Sweet Caroline - Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

On the other end of the spectrum, I might be stuck working on a freelance article that I’m struggling to get the right feel and language. And that severe writers block is beating me… time is dragging and I need to pick it up. This essence of time is important for everyone and is my topic today. Watch this video or read below about protecting your time.

Time is a commodity. I think it is the MOST important commodity in a person’s life. Why? Many reasons. But if you think about time, we never really know how much time we have on this planet.

We can track and target time. But, it is often immeasurable.

We each can use time however we like. But, if we do not allot it appropriately, what happens? We lose it, people steal it, it gets wasted. Not just like having too much alcohol to drink and time slips by wasted…. like you can never ever get it back and have regret wasted!

Let’s prevent that. Over the past few years, this has been a priority for me. My time is valuable. And I recognize that in the lives of others I surround myself with. Whether it is for business, personal life or any goal, you need to protect your time.

I think there are three vital factors to protecting your time.

Three steps to protect your time

1 – Schedule in your priority time

We all have different priorities in life. I might like to bake and cook for 4 hours per week. Someone else might want to research engines and cars. You may also have a goal to start a new hobby, take a college class or start up a new business. Schedule windows in your day, week and month and prioritize those things. I’ve found that I am more likely to accomplish a large goal if I actually put it on my calendar and protect that time.

Think about the top one or two priorities that already, no matter what, you make sure to accomplish it. For me, one of those is going to the gym to train. I still compete in bodybuilding and it is a large part of my life. I protect that time and schedule it in after my day job to go push myself and enjoy it. Once it is scheduled, that block of time is set and nothing else can touch it.

Protect Your Time by Strong Sweet Caroline

 

2 – Identify distractions and disruptions

People, habits, natural tendencies, social media, and electronics are just a few examples of distractions. Have you ever spent 10-20 minutes just scrolling on Instagram or Pinterest? What could you be doing if you protected that valuable time?

In my life, I had a Pinterest obsession at one point… particularly looking at recipes. Ooops! What did that help me accomplish? Typically nothing. Maybe a few new pins of recipes for later but not really helpful now. It’s similar to going to the grocery store without a shopping list. Unless you schedule it in as a priority, DON’T DO IT!

3 – Share your priorities

Do the people closest to you know your priorities? Maybe you want to start a side business or create a new hobby. Start scheduling it in, get the distractions out of the way and share with others what you are working at! They can help you stay focused and keep priorities in check. This is a sacred moment for you. EMBRACE IT!

These are the three that have worked for me. Scheduling in your priorities, identifying distractions and sharing the priorities are key to success! What’s been valuable for you?

Interested to learn more? Comment below! I’m starting a new e-newsletter and creating a free guide for time management and would LOVE for you to join!

When life gets heavy, make some Protein Cherry Cheesecake bowls

It amazes me how often life can bring new surprises and opportunities. A handful are easy to accommodate, appreciate and take in. Others seem heavy.

They can cause confusion, misinterpretation, emotional withdrawal, overwhelm and senseless actions. Most of the time, those are the ones that we cannot control the end outcome. We need to analyze and act quickly, the best we can. How do you take time to think and mentally prepare?

Over the past several years, my “think zones” are one of two places.

  1. In nature. I love to explore a new park, a rural area away from the city scene and just escape the buzz and commotion. Whether it is greenery or floriculture, I have a strong connect to the gifts Mother Nature first instilled on the planet.
  2. In the kitchen. I can clear my head and mind of most everything to just create, cook, bake and try new recipes. It’s so soothing for me. And if there is a lot in my head, I will usually walk to the kitchen to refocus and shift my energy to productivity.

After I’m done, I can come away with a clear head. And some tasty meals or sweets 😀

Strong Sweet Caroline cherry cheesecake bowl

This one in particular, I came up with after a craving for some cheesecake. No point in spending money on sugary, less healthy cheesecake when I could make my own macro-friendly and gut healthy version.

The base was cream of rice, just like my post workout meal is supposed to be. But instead of doing just whey protein isolate and berries, I changed it up.

I don’t do this every day but on occasion, I will be within my macros and make slight changes to keep me accountable.

Strong Sweet Caroline Cherry Cheesecake Bowl

If you aren’t a cherry fan, you can easily do this with alternative berry like strawberries, blueberries or raspberries. Berries are lower in calories, lower on the glycemic index and pack a punch of antioxidants and beneficial vitamins.

And a touch of two crumbled Annie’s Honey Graham Crackers made the look and feel even more darling.

Now that I think about it, a touch of whipped topping (coconut or dairy version) would have made it even better! I typically stay away from fats post workout. So if I recreate again, I’ll add that on top.

What truly added the thickness and texture to the “cheesecake” was my Vital Proteins Beef Gelatin. Before you get your panties in a bunch, it is unflavored and per two scoops, provides 20g of collagen and 17g of protein! Talk about WINNING for a healthy gut!

Strong Sweet Caroline Cherry Cheesecake Bowl with Vital Proteins

After I made this, I ate it slowly, enjoyed each bite and took a epsom salt bath. I left my phone in another room and just zoned out. It was amazing.

After that 15 minutes, I did not feel any heavy burdens. I was refreshed. You don’t have to do exactly what I do. It might be surrounding yourself with people. I like some alone time. It might be playing a game, drawing, coloring, or listening to soothing music. Find what works for you. Do you, boo boo!

If you’re keen on a new recipe, try this out. You don’t have to use Beef Gelatin. Instead you could try another Collagen Whey Protein or regular whey protein. Alter as you see fit and have fun with it!


Protein Cherry Cheesecake Bowls

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup fresh cherries, washed, de-pitted and stems removed
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Fage Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup almond milk or milk of choice
  • Handful of ice cubes
  • 2 scoops Vital Proteins Beef Gelatin or alternative Collagen Whey
  • 2 drops liquid stevia
  • Pinch baking powder
  • 1/2 cup cream of rice, cooked in bowl

Process

  • Cook cream of rice as directed on box. I usually use less water to make a thicker consistency. Once cooked, use spoon to push to sides and bottom of bowl to form “crust”.
  • In Vitamix or blender of choice, combine cherries, yogurt, milk, ice cubes, gelatin, stevia and baking powder. Blend on high for about 10-20 seconds until smooth.
  • Pour into cream of rice crust and top with piece of fruit and if you’re like me, a ground up cracker (or two).
  • Eat immediately or place into freezer for 10 minutes to set. YUMMY!

6 young adult realizations you need to know

Wow, where does time go? I’m 26 now? Nope, not old. Only getting more youthful. The only aging I want is wisdom and experience. I’ve gone from the past few years after college graduation and thinking I know EXACTLY what I need to do, when I need to do it and why I need to do it. Last year, I made some big changes. I chose to leave the agriculture industry, move from Ohio to Atlanta, and pursue something complete new.

This year alone, I have learned a ton. Life, love, business. Friendships have come and gone; so has my sanity at times. Sleep lost, gains made. Anxiety took hold and then I found peace of mind.

6 Young Adult Realizations You Need to Know

My birthday wish was simple: spend time simple time with my boyfriend and that he cook us dinner. I had a lifestyle photoshoot, ate some delicious burritos (pictured above), went grocery shopping, did some reading and writing, made a protein carrot cake dessert and enjoyed a patio dining experience with Greek lamb, rice and veggies.

It tasted just as good as it looked! I was feeling a little tired and decided instead of trying out a brand new carrot cake recipe, I’d use resources at hand. Thankfully I bought Bake to Be Fit Healthy Brownie Cookbook a while back and tried her recipe. Placed in the fridge and it tasted divine!

6 Young Adult Realizations You Need to Know by Strong Sweet Caroline

After a filling dinner and some wine, I completed my reflection. It’s been hard to fall asleep lately. Many thoughts run through my head as I wind down. This year, I had some large takeaways. These six realizations are important, no matter your age. But as a young adult, I think they are vital to understand and incorporate into your life.

 

Strong Sweet Caroline’s 6 young adult realizations you need to know

6 Young Adult Realizations You Need to Know by Strong Sweet Caroline
  • You can only control your response. The first reaction is what matters most for you and others involved. Control how you react. Keep emotions in check and then ACT. Too many times this year, I hesitated. I let the cause affect my outcome. It affected me severely with anxiety, depression and hopeless thoughts. Business was lost from it. Friendships were hurt. No more of that. Keep in mind, it is not all about you when you respond. It can affect so many others, whether you realize it at the time or not. This method of self control will help you personally and professionally. It comes with heightened maturity. And it will bring more peace of mind. Make a choice and stick to it.

    6 Young Adult Realizations You Need to Know by Strong Sweet Caroline

  • Be a woman and man up. David has taught me more than anyone to not be timid in my thoughts and actions. “MAN UP” as some might say. If you think about the business world, it is dog eat dog. And the more hungry the dog, the faster they are to fill their food bowl. At the end of the day, I am the only one responsible for my results. And if I do not stand up for myself, why would anyone else, even if they do love me? Whether man or woman, it is up to you to do your due diligence for yourself. Have courage and believe that every step and action you take is leading to your results.6 Young Adult Realizations You Need to Know by Strong Sweet Caroline
  • Even when you feel like you are working, work harder. The grind as an entrepreneur is severely underrated. I definitely have not worked as hard as I could be. Part of that is because my focus has not been there. I was not accountable to myself and my dreams. It’s not about the number of hours, but the amount of concentrated WORK put into whatever I’m trying to accomplish. It will not be easy. And life balance is hard to come by. But it can be created. Stay organized and diligent. Sometimes, you end up taking a step backward to take two forward. As long as those steps you are putting your greatest efforts in place, it will yield results.

    6 Young Adult Realizations You Need to Know by Strong Sweet Caroline

  • Priorities will shift. For me this past year, it went like this: first it was personal freedom – second was financial stability – third was business/career success – and most recently it’s been relationships. I’ve realized that in life, you have career, relationships and self care. At one time, you can pretty much only master two of those. This year, I had a big shift between career and relationships. I quit a career for a relationship. I then started up a career again to focus on the relationship. The cycle continues as I look to better balance. My health has stayed steady most of the year. The priorities change with seasons of life. Don’t get too caught up in one over another or they all could suffer.

6 Young Adult Realizations You Need to Know by Strong Sweet Caroline

  • Never stop learning. This has always been important for me and was reiterated this year. Not having a mentor after leaving Syngenta has been tough. I’m working through it each day. Podcasts, reading books, scanning online articles and exerting myself daily. I’m also trying to build new friendships. It’s a never-ending system. I realized I am not involved in the community yet. And I won’t be exposed to the amazing people in Atlanta until I step foot into it! I can learn on my own, but I love learning with and through others. As long as you never stop learning, you can stay young in heart and mind.6 Young Adult Realizations You Need to Know by Strong Sweet Caroline
  • Be grateful for everything. Every hard point, every positive experience, be humble and grateful. God has given me so much to love and be blessed. I should never take it for granted. Sure, it can always be better. But I will continue to be grateful for the simple, little things too.6 Young Adult Realizations You Need to Know by Strong Sweet Caroline
At the end of the day, if we can lay down our heads and know we are doing our best, that’s all that matters. And learn from the rest. Take these six and implement them. May they help you be strong and live a sweet life!

FOMO or FOBP? Your call.

Last weekend, David and I traveled to North Georgia and the border of Tennessee. We had a friends trip to go white water rafting for the first time! We were so excited to go! Since I was young, I wanted to try it at least once. It would be an adventure to say the least! I’m willing to try anything [within reason] once.

We left Atlanta to drive north. After the two-hour car ride, we dropped cell service here and there and it reminded me of several trips I’ve made before. I have driven through Southeastern Ohio, North Central Nebraska or northern Missouri and been lost and separated from cell service. Those times, I was often alone.

That’s challenging. But when you have someone with you to go through the navigation together, it makes it easier and more fun. You can share road trip stories, belt out sing along sessions to your favorite 90s songs and enjoy mid-drive snacks or prepped meals. We found a playlist on Spotify that was more of “driving music” and allowed us to have a deeper conversation about relationships, friendships, love and life.

Strong Sweet Caroline - FOMO or FOBP

Driving on the curvy roads prepared us more for the white water rapids we would face the next day. We did not have any friends go white-water rafting recently. But, it was even more important to me to be present for this experience.

There are so many distractions in life. A lot of our friends had either events or bodybuilding competitions the weekend while we were gone. Both David and I are in an off season from competing and having some FOMO.

Strong Sweet Caroline - FOMO or FOBP

FOMO or “Fear of Missing Out” is a large problem for our age group today. I believe it to be the biggest downfall with social media. It can easily cause envy, jealousy, desire and craving for attention, instantaneous reaction and response. More critically, it takes away from being present.

I have suffered it. I think I leads to a new category: FOBP. This I call “Fear of Being Present”. For some, they do not necessarily fear missing out. Instead, they have a fear of being present. They do not want to face a situation, want to live in a “fantasy world” in their phones and “escape reality”.

I’ve noticed the more my social media platforms grow, the more I get sucked in to this tunnel. It has taken some self analysis and witnessing it in others. I now acknowledge it head on; I am addressing my weakness with FOMO and FOBP.

Therefore, for the day trip, I disconnected from my cell phone. It was self-induced once we reached the cabin. Cell service was spotty, I wanted to enjoy the moments and cook our last meal for the evening and make the most of our time in nature of the Georgia mountain ranges. So that is what I did. Others may have checked their phones on occasion that evening. The next day, we all left our phones in the car until after the rafting trip.

Strong Sweet Caroline - FOMO or FOBP

This forced us to be present. FOBP was pushed aside. This was about enjoying the experience. We could share it later. Storytelling is the oldest form of communication. I do not have video footage or photos of the greenery, the steep and staggering geography along the riverbeds, the sparkling blue waters in the calm parts of the waters. These are all in my mind. But that is what makes it more fun to reminisce and think back to the experience!

Strong Sweet Caroline - FOMO or FOBP? Your choice. White Water Rafting

Our guide JP was an eclectic, knowledgeable rafter. He has been working there for five years and his knowledge shown through as we successfully made our way down the river to his commands.

Strong Sweet Caroline - FOMO or FOBP? Your choice. White Water Rafting

“Two forward!” “At ease!” “Left side, three forward!” “Everyone down!!!”

Strong Sweet Caroline - FOMO or FOBP? Your choice. White Water Rafting

I almost fell out of the boat two times. But, those twists and turns on the quick white waters gave me the adrenaline I’ve been missing! It was a bonding experience to work as a team, rowing on command and taking control (as much as we could) of the raft along the natural and man-made Ochoee River.

Strong Sweet Caroline - FOMO or FOBP? Your choice. White Water Rafting

Four hours later, we returned, everyone intact and with slight sunburns. We also found out there were cameras around the river capturing moments from the trip.

Strong Sweet Caroline - FOMO or FOBP? Your choice.

We dried off, ate and made our way back to Atlanta. I pulled out my phone and was reluctant to review all the notifications. It was nice not having the noise and clutter.

Detachment from our devices is hard. Let’s be real: we live on them. And it sucks sometimes. That’s why taking a little separation can be good. It does not necessarily have to be for half a day. It could just be one hour each day you dedicate to not checking your phone, setting it on “Do Not Disturb” and focusing on work, family or friends. Let’s shift away from the “Fear of Being Present” and move into being present, not missing out on the moments and memories that life is really about… the ones not seen in a screen.

What will you choose? I think I will dive more into this topic, because it is not just relevant for me, but for many others in my life.

Strong Sweet Caroline - FOMO or FOBP? Your choice.

How to transform what you are feeling to what you are choosing to feel

It’s inside your head. Those negative, degrading, life-sapping thoughts. How did they get there? You claim a bunch of things. Stress is building, your emotions are all over the place and you are having trouble processing what’s true progress. How do you transform what you are feeling to what you are choosing to feel? In as little as 10 minutes, here is how you can make that transformation yourself.

This week started off like many. Working part time at the bakery, following up with meal prep clients and delivering meals, spending time writing for my consulting work and enjoying quality time with my boyfriend while he is working remotely for the week. A few factors were different.

Transform what you are feeling to what you are choosing to feel | Strong Sweet Caroline

I’ve gotten less sleep, I’ve been doing more self-analysis for me and my businesses and I am in a new workout training protocol and believe I injured my shoulder and/or trap muscle from over training and not stretching and recovering like I should. I was not letting it get to me and felt like I was doing a good job mitigating that stress and channeling it to my work and being more productive each day. Until Wednesday.

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