say yes and watch what happens

We hear the word “No,” 148,000 times or more by the time we are eighteen. We can become accustomed to rejection and can be afraid to try for fear we will fail. Because we hear the word no, we can fall into the pattern of saying the same thing to others; our children, our co-workers, partners, etc… and this propagates like that old Bret commercial, “And so on, and so on and so on…” We become conditioned to follow our own limiting beliefs and therefore fall into the habit of accepting “I can't do that.”

And what’s more, as a result we attract people into our lives that say the same thing. We are naturally comfortable in surrounding ourselves with like-minded people because they don’t push us out of our comfort zone. It’s easy to stay in our bubble of comfort even if that bubble isn’t really working for us.

Have you ever had an idea, became excited, then shared this with someone and they laughed? After university I began my work life as a secretary in a large downtown firm. When I quit my first job to try my hand in a sales role, my boss at the time literally scoffed out loud and said, “What? You?”….well that job change was the stepping stone to my entire career. Because, if I had listened to that person, accepted his limited judgement of my capabilities (which I knew were much greater than my current role allowed me to do!), internalized that negative response, and not moved to this job outside my comfort zone, I guarantee I would still be a slave to a large corporation, wishing the 9-5 clock would move faster and dreading every single day ahead with the only goal to try to make ends meet.

    So how do you take a leap of faith and make a conscious decision to change? My 5 key pieces of advice that can change your mindset and put you on a path of positivity:

  • Take baby steps – set your intention and start.
  • Start moving quietly in the new direction. Don’t tell the whole world you are thinking of taking action that contradicts people’s current impression of you. That only invites criticism which can lead to self-doubt and inaction. And when you've made progress, announce it to the world.
  • Stop complaining. If you simply complain, it attracts others to do the same and an endless spiral of negativity can occur. Identify ways around a situation and take action.
  • Surround yourself with people that will congratulate your accomplishments, encourage your goals and dream with you. Pay attention to how other people talk about their lives and you may find yourself eliminating those that complain about theirs.
  • Take a moment to celebrate your accomplishments. This allows you to see how far you’ve come versus how far you have to go!

In conclusion: imagine how your life will change if you make a conscious choice to listen for those limiting beliefs. And before impulsively acting on them, you stop, make an assessment and as a result, replace negative self-talk with positive inner voices.

As Napoleon Hill says in Think and Grow Rich:
If you think you are beaten you are.
If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you like to win, but think you can't, it’s almost certain you won't.

The fact that you are reading this means you are open to changing your life for the better.

Say "Yes"! And watch what happens...

Take the first step to allowing the world to be your oyster!

Focus Versus Flexibility – An Entrepreneur’s Challenge

Admit it, as new business owners, we’ve all been distracted by the beautiful sunny day outside the office window and think, “It’s just one afternoon…I can get away” and, “It’s my own business, no one will know…After all, I became an entrepreneur for flexibility in my life” to, “I will work extra hard tomorrow and make it up.” Many use these excuses to justify our absence from the work that needs to get done to be successful, or as a way to escape the tasks that we find new and difficult. It’s a slippery slope from “It’s just one day…it’s only a few hours…” to, “Why isn’t my business succeeding? Where are my clients? Why is my revenue down this quarter? I can’t pay my bills!”

The fine balance between the “freedom” of working for yourself and using your flexibility as a business perk to staying focussed on sometimes difficult tasks that drive our business forward is a thin tightrope many business owners face. Being physically absent from the office does not mean you are free of your responsibilities and goals. Newly minted business owners can still fall into the well-worn habit of acting like they have the luxury of a steady paycheck, benefits, paid vacation …and work like they have a corporate safety net under them. It’s a hard reality check when the revenue that was expected to pay the bills and grow the business doesn’t come in the door.

Here are 7 key strategies to keep in mind to focus and grow a sustainable business:

• Goals - Reverse engineer your goals so you know exactly what milestones you need to meet that day, that month and that quarter and beyond. Use these goals to drive you forward and focus on necessary tasks. Write them down for accountability and measurability.

• Surround yourself with those that can lift you up – On those days that you hear the limiting beliefs creeping in, surround yourself with positive, supportive people that can encourage you to keep the faith and stay true to your dreams. Have one or 2 on speed dial, talk to them, re-energize and then get back to work. This is not a whine session, it’s a “pump-me-up” session and get back to it! And when needed, you supply the air for their balloon. Find a community of like-minded people that support each other.

• Stay positive – you will attract much more business when you project positivity and confidence and that business will become an upward spiral to revenue…and before you know it you’ve created that sustainable business!

• Move it! Change your physical space when you hit the wall. This isn’t an entire afternoon break if you have pending tasks, but a 30 minute exercise break that will re-energize and enable you to move ahead with a fresh perspective.

• Acknowledge – Feel satisfaction and acknowledge the accomplishment when you’ve finished your task…congratulate yourself on a job well done, another check in the to-do box!

• Enjoy what you do – it’s a lot easier to stay focused when you perform tasks you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy it, is there a way to outsource the task so you can focus on things that you like to do that will keep you positive and bring in the revenue?

• Reflect – look back at the goals you’ve met and see how much you’ve learned and how far you’ve grown. And if you are not satisfied with your results, what can you do to change this in the future? Learn from them.

Claudia Harvey is a Motivational Speaker, Entrepreneur, Business Owner and CEO of On The Verge where your possibilities become reality. Find out more about her other businesses and Dig It Apparel Inc. and contact here

Behind Every Great Woman, There are Women

Recently while scrolling through Facebook posts, I saw a recent post quoting actress Charlize Theron, "I think today women are very scared to celebrate themselves, because then they just get labeled." and I disagree.

I think women are stretched so thin in any given day with the immense demands on our time, energy and daunting daily tasks, that our extraordinary accomplishments are ignored and minimized as we hurl through life at breakneck speed. We are so conditioned to manage our numerous roles such as mother, daughter, wife, friend, resident-psychologist, caregiver, business person, working mom, cook, cleaner, taxi-driver, Victoria-Secret-model-wanna-be etc. etc. that we...

...generate accomplishments every single day without recognition, keep our heads down to simply plow through to the next task. I give men credit for their ability to toot their horns and stand up to say “Look at what I did today”. Not to diminish their accomplishments in anyway, only to make a point that we as women need to take a lesson in doing the same. We need to celebrate our wins and accomplishments, toot our horns every once in awhile, be proud of who we are and take recognition in the fact that we matter to those around us. I for one don’t care about being labelled. Label me if you want but I know who I am and labels are irrelevant to how I live my life.

The saying “Behind every great man is a woman” may be true and I add, “Behind every great woman, there are women.” I would not be the person and woman I am today without my incredibly strong women’s network of friends, colleagues and family to learn from, call on in times of need, lean on for support, look forward to laughing with, bounce ideas off of and boost each other’s growth. We support each other, encourage our goals, cry with us over loss without reserve, empathize with us when life throws us curveballs and kick our butts when we complain too much. We give 110% percent of ourselves as we support others and often to the sake of our own determinant and personal wishes.

I want to express how truly amazing I believe our accomplishments are no matter how small or large and I encourage you, right now, take a deep breath, close your eyes and for just a moment, fully believe and know, you are tremendously appreciated. While in this breath, internalize that your accomplishments are magnificent, you matter and are loved. I am happy to toot your horn and yell from the rafters on your behalf. I celebrate you.

This blog was inspired by my friend, fellow entrepreneur and jewellery designer extraordinaire, Michele Maher.

The Power of Positive Affirmations

This past weekend I was strolling through a large shopping mall with a friend and wandered into a store that catered to teen girls and young adults. Amongst the typical ripped jeans, tiny cotton T-shirts, loose baggie sweaters, were wall signs that could also be purchased. Amongst the “Go Jays” and “Go Habs” signs was a sign, for a mere $25, that said, “I HATE EVERYTHING”. When I read this I nearly physically recoiled and my mind felt like it was slapped. My immediate thought was: imagine if I was a 15-year-old girl and had that in my room: waking up to that every single day and closing my eyes at the end of the day with that negative message hanging over my head. Imagine the subconscious impact of that damaging message. I was going to take a picture of this sign and use it in this blogpost but then I thought twice. I don’t want to give any more power to the words or this sign then they already have.

Some people may argue that this sign is supposed to be funny and I should “relax”. I don’t think it’s funny and instead of relaxing, it bothered me so much that I felt I needed to take an active role in countering its negative effects. I especially abhor the fact that this store that specifically caters to our youth would have such a negative sign on their walls. Let’s conservatively say they have 50 shoppers a day venturing into their store and they have 10 stores throughout Canada with most likely the same products displayed. Just imagine how many people would see the sign and be subconsciously affected by it everyday.

We need to empower our youth of today with positive, affirming words that will in turn positively affect their mindset, support their confidence and create an upward spiral of optimism that they can affect their world and open their possibilities. I would argue that not just our youth but anyone can easily get sucked into the negative messages media outlets constantly bombard us with. We are flooded with messages on average every seven seconds of every day. We must take an active role to constantly withstand and guard ourselves from being dragged down into harmful, damaging and destructive thoughts and beliefs. This takes energy, perseverance and awareness of our environment. And once this kernel of awareness is in the forefront of our mind, we can catch ourselves when those destructive and downbeat feelings creep in, stomp them down and kick them to the curb to be replaced by positive thoughts. I challenge you to pay attention to how many negative thoughts creep into your mind everyday…and the make the active choice to replace them with constructive thoughts. I guarantee this will positively affect your state of mind.

As a consultant and a coach, I constantly hear my clients express their limiting beliefs in themselves and their business. To counter this, I encourage them to use positive, self-affirming words to increase their confidence which will in turn increase positive interactions they have in the day, and that will make those tasks that seem daunting much easier to tackle and achieve.

On the heels of the terrible recent terrorist activities in Paris, don’t we have enough hate in the world? For a mere $25 buy yourself a sign that says, “I AM AWESOME” OR “LOVE LOVE LOVE”. I’ve written to the head office of that retailer expressing my displeasure at their poor choice of products in their store and I will be boycotting that store in the future. The choice is mine, the choice is yours. I choose to spend my time and money in places that make me feel good about myself.

A Mother’s Reflections – From Babyhood to University in a Blink

An End of an Era or the Start of a New One? It's the Friday of the Labour Day weekend and never in a million years would I have thought this day would be here. Sure, in theory, 18 years ago I conceptualized the idea that this sweet-smelling newborn I currently held in my arms just hours old, would head off to University... one day... in the distant future... something that "old" and seasoned parents dealt with... That day is here. He leaves tomorrow. Blink. It seems like a lifetime ago and yet just a nanosecond has passed.

Those of us that have children generally expect, hope, dream the best for them and we strive to support, love and nurture them the best we can over the years. The concept of launching them out into the world is a vague notion when they first arrive. Our goal over the many years was when he was ready he would step off into the big wide world confident in his abilities and able to use the skills we fostered and taught him as the stepping stones to his future success.

My oldest son is one of those type of kids that was born 25... as soon as he could basically walk and talk he tested his boundaries in almost every way and we encouraged it and supported his development to the best of our abilities, hoping when he stumbles in the coming years, he could right himself. We knew years ago he would physically travel far away from us to explore the world and true to form, he is. Tomorrow he is travelling to a University located a 5 hour flight from where we live... the day has eventually arrived and another successful checkmark on the bucket list of life able to be ticked off... Yeah, hooray, pop the champagne cork. Phew!

The last few months when I've told my friends where my son is heading, most of the reactions I've received were immediate cringes as my friends said "Oh wow, you'll miss him!" and I've confidently and pragmatically replied, "It's all good, we're both ready for this new corner"... so why in the last week have I come close to unexpected tears as I have flashbacks to everyday memories of his life: his 2 year old self playing tag with us while he laughs hysterically at his own antics; his late grandfather leaning over the slide with open arms encouraging him to come down to him and the joy on both of their faces as he successfully maneuvers this momentous feat; the sleepy (me) early morning Easter egg hunt as he tears through the living room searching for chocolate treats that will be gone by 3:00 that afternoon; waving out the door at the departing school bus for the first time; the frantic preparations of last minutes school assignments; the vision of his teenage friends gathered on the backyard trampoline talking and laughing in easy friendship; the late nights in my quiet living room unbeknownst to him waiting for him to arrive home safely as he spread his wings navigating young adulthood.

I left my corporate job many years ago and started a business to be flexible and present in my children's lives as recently written about in the book "Empowering Women to Succeed". Our personal choices effect those around us and my oldest was then 10 years old when I said goodbye to that lifestyle. Everyday I'm thankful I broke away from the golden handcuffs that took me away 15 out of 30 days every month travelling for the job. I sacrificed the salary and status for the ability to be more present in my children's lives. I hope the sacrifice and choices I made will reflect positively in my children's lives. Though they eventually lead their own lives, we as parents feel responsible for their start so in a small part their success becomes ours.

Is this an end of an era? He will come home for Christmas and (maybe) summers but our family dynamic will forever change tomorrow... it's a start of a new era; for him and us. Life goes on, and we can look back and dwell in the memories of the past with longing and nostalgia... or we can look forward to all the new opportunities as they unfold: how he will continue to grow and develop into adulthood; to visiting him in the new city; seeing where his talents take him as he carves out his career. Given the roller coaster of emotions I've had in the last week I'll take a moment to shed the tears if they come when he's standing at the airport gate, backpack in hand and casual wave, embarking on his new adventure. However, our hopes continues to sustain us as we change and navigate through life... like we hoped 18 years ago he would be ready to take that independent step, I will continue to hope he will be happy in the choices he makes and knowing he has a soft place to land for support if or when he still needs us.

Heading to University

5 Reasons to Push Back Your Boundaries

Sometimes we become so complacent in our everyday established routines we don’t even realize we are in a bubble of stasis until we are forced to come out of the “box”. The “box” is what I call the comfort and stability of what we strive for in her life but unbeknownst to us at times it can become constraining instead of stabilizing. Why is it important to sometimes break out of our box?

It struck me how easy it was for people of all ages to become complacent and have the walls we build around us confine us versus support us. One mild Friday evening this summer I took my 12 year old son to a new area of the city that had gentrified with affordable new niche restaurants, shops and alot of character. He had never been in that part of the city and I thought we’d wander around, look at some new sites and grab a bite in an authentic one-of –a- kind restaurant with succulent tastes from another part of the world. As the evening progressed my usually easy going son become sullen and agitated which is unlike him. When I asked him what was on his mind, he replied he wasn’t comfortable going to a new restaurant and why can’t we just go to the usual, well-frequented, easy, big box cookie-cutter places where a burger is a burger and you don’t have to think about what you get. He exclaimed as his eyes rolled back in his head for dramatic effect, “I like what I like and why do we need to try something new?” His response surprised me for someone so young. Sure he likes those places and being only 12, he has many more years to continue to experience new things …how can he know what he likes (or dislikes) until he actually tries something new?

Afterwards, upon reflection, I realized his reaction was quite typical of all of us when we are uncomfortable with a situation…most of us tend to want to go back to the familiar to find comfort and stability. My son’s desire and need to find comfort in what he knows can happen to us at any age and in fact as we get older we run the risk of getting comfortable in our “box” and let the walls become thick, tall and more permanent to hold us in place unless we make a conscious decision to push back our boundaries.

So why push those walls back? The following are 5 reasons to try new things and push back your boundaries:

Embed from Getty Images 1. The ease of finding comfort in everyday routine can outweigh the desire to find new experiences that can open up new worlds and opportunities to explore. And, are we so afraid of a negative outcome that we hold ourselves back from trying something new? Sometimes the answer is yes and recognizing this is the first step in challenging ourselves to take a step forward. Those new opportunities could lead to a whole new and untapped understanding in ourselves that we may never have even imagined if we stayed inside our box and comfort zone.

2. To experience new adventures and opportunities opens our life to a new set of experiences that can be incorporated into our repertoire of skills. These new skills can add to our personality and even marketability. It enables us to find pieces of our personal jigsaw puzzle that forms who we are.

3. The people you meet in a new situation could very well be game changers in the course of your life. The network you create and foster can help you immeasurably in life at times of personal of professional need. The more you put yourself “out there” and expand your boundaries, the larger your network to draw upon. Who knows how one chance encounter could change the course of your life?

4. If you struggle to you push yourself to try a new experience and challenge your comfort zone, the next time you find yourself thrust in an uncomfortable situation I guarantee that situation will be easier since you already have some experience to draw upon. Each experience creates the building blocks to support your new experiences.

5. Sure there could be risks in trying new things. Will we always like new the experiences we encounter? Realistically probably not and we sometimes come to the realization that the new “adventure” did not meet our hopeful expectations. Is this a reason to stop trying new things? No! Without trying it, and then realizing it really wasn’t for us, would you only then come the realization that you don’t like it. Sometimes it’s just as important to know what you don’t like as much as what you do like. This also shapes who we are and what we become. It can also guide us in new directions and paths.

As we encounter new experiences, the space around us becomes larger and this space allows us to move and stretch in new directions. Every time we grow the box grows too and the walls do not hold us in... they are just strong enough to support us as we grow.

So try something new, expand that box and feel free to share your experience!

Gratitude – A Reflection on the Everyday

What are you grateful for?

Recently, my friend and colleague Jenny McKaig asked me, “What are you grateful for?” How many of us take the time in our day to think about this…my guess is not many of us. We go about our days in the bustle of busyness chasing the dollar, shuffling the papers, managing our obligations and forget to smell the roses and count our blessings, me included.

At first blush this would seem a pretty easy thing to answer. For example, I’m grateful to be blessed with my husband and three kids and despite the turbulent teenage years, I’m grateful in the knowledge they are great kids... and hope this continues. I’m grateful for the roof over our heads and the material creature comforts we have been able to accumulate over the years to make life more pleasant and comfortable.

As I thought more about this question, I realized this was more difficult for me than I first thought and Jenny’s question inspired and challenged me. To answer this, I needed to be present in the moment and “everyday” which really is the foundation for gratitude. It’s hard to feel gratitude when we don’t acknowledge our awareness of the moment. So I thought I’d go through my day and take stock of the things that may be taken for granted, make note of them and acknowledge just how many things I am personally grateful for in a given day.

For instance, I’m grateful for the simple things in life that make life easier and comfortable:
  •     That I wake up to greet the day…really that’s the basis and start of everything isn’t it
  •     The aroma of a fresh cup of coffee in the morning as it wafts from the kitchen and then the first delicious sip to jolt- start my day
  •     A tall, cold glass of lemonade full of ice on a searing Summer day
  •     The burst of flavour of the farm fresh strawberries we pick every June
  •     A shared bottle of wine with my girlfriends which comes with a side of laughter
  •     That I can go to the grocery store and buy almost any food I desire without having to hunt, grow or fish for it (I don’t think I’d survive long if that was the case)
  •     Further to the last point, I’m also grateful that if I actually don’t want to cook the food I easily bought I can skip out into my local neighbourhood and choose any one of 10 restaurants to satiate my hunger and cravings
  •     Milk chocolate, anytime, anywhere. Period.
  •     (There seems to be alot of taste sensations I seem to be grateful for…)
  •     The freedom I’ve carved out for myself to enjoy my livelihood without a daily commute of 3 hours
  •     The warmth of the sun on my face after a long cold winter And the little things that make life special:
  •     My friends that support and surround me. What would I do without them I can’t even imagine and the flipside to that coin, that they trust me and value me enough to turn to me if they need a shoulder
  •     A still, silent moment at 6am sitting on a dock jutting out in a clear blue lake in northern Ontario listening to the call of the loons
  •     My extended family in all parts of the globe that share my history and know me inside and out…how comforting to know they are there and I am loved
  •     For the smiles on my children’s faces and the jokes we randomly and unexpectedly share
  •     For the Cardinal the comes to visit me throughout the Summer that sings in the hedge outside my office window
  •     That I can strap on running shoes and escape from a hectic day to clear my mind and energize my body even for a few minutes
  •     The gift of the very rare moments that can suddenly sneak up on me when absolutely everything at that given moment is right in the world and I feel unconditional happiness and inner peace
  •     A pristinely beautiful day with baby blue skies and the feel of cool fresh-cut grass beneath my barefeet
  •     For the calm presence of my old cat Susy as she tries to drape herself across my desk while I work (she likes the Cardinal too)
  •     The travel I’ve done that fills the corners of my soul with new adventures and lasting memories
  •     The never-ending network of incredible colleagues, mentors, associates and business partners I have that constantly enable me to grow, expand and find new opportunities

And then there are the big picture things that silently impact our world, which are beyond my control and have also made life a better place:
  •    That I had strict and loving parents that instilled a strong work ethic in me which became a building block and foundation of any job I held
  •    The abundance of choices we have at our whim and disposal and all we need to do is open up to possibility
  •    The fresh clean water that comes out of our taps 24/7 so we need never feel thirst
  •    The strong women such as the late Flora MacDonald that have been trailblazers in their fields to open opportunities for younger women such as myself finding their way
  •    The freedom offered and provided to us because we live a free society and democratic country

I could go on and on because I realize this exercise in gratitude has opened my eyes to how the things in life I take for granted are what fills me up and makes my life special to me and hopefully to those I impact. This exercise made me happy…this is a natural consequence of feeling gratitude…in acknowledging the things that have made a positive impact in my personal life I simply started to feel more positive. I challenge you to do this exercise for a week, a day or even an hour and see how many things big and small you come up with. Feel free to comment and share. I’d be very grateful for your thoughts.

Leap of Faith

Have you ever sat in your office, in the middle of a sea of other people in a corporate environment, thinking “I really want to work for myself and not this company!”? Or, you have what you think is a unique idea, think it could be a great new product or service the world has never seen before and want to run with it and start your own small business? Many of us have been there with the same thoughts. The next step is often the difficult one when you ask yourself, “Do I go for it and start my own business? Will I succeed? Do I have what it takes? Can I really do this? Do I take the leap of faith in myself and business idea?”

Having left the corporate world behind and starting my own businesses, people often ask me what in my experience is the most difficult thing about starting a business? Starting your own venture does not have to be a total leap of faith. There are a number of things you can plan for, keep top-of-mind and draw upon as your start your new undertaking.

One: Jack of all Trades – Often starting your own business you need to wear numerous (all!) hats. You may not have the resources to hire the people you normally relied upon in a job setting when you were part of a team. As a new business owner, it’s important to multitask and perform sales, marketing, PR, logistics, duty, importing, exporting, project management, accounting, to name few.

Two : Independence - The lure of staring your own business is often the perceived freedom to “be my own boss”. The reality is you are often working independently and without others around to constantly motivate you and keep your motors revved. Before venturing out on your own, ask yourself, “Am I good working alone”…

Three: Self Motivation – If it’s a beautiful June afternoon and the sun is shining, birds are singing and the golf course is calling out to you…as a business owner you must be able to focus and accomplish those necessary without being swayed with the thought “I’ll do that later”. You may have the luxury and freedom of being self-employed but staying on task is important without the distractions life can throw your way.

Four: The Resources to Launch – Before starting a business, you will need “seed money”; the money necessary to get the business off the ground. Product based businesses need more funds than service based. How much do you need and where is this going to come from? Do you have access to partners that can share in the start up costs and then take a role in the business? Do you fund the business yourself with your own personal money? Do you borrow from outside funding such as a bank or lending company. To move to that route you often need personal collateral to secure a loan against a loan. Do you try crowd funding or sourcing to launch our idea? Eventually, do you use profits to put back into business and how much? All things to keep in mind as you plan your business model.

Five : Cash is King – Every business owner will quickly come to the realization that cash flow is crucial to a business. Cashflow is different from the money you invest into the start-up of a business. Cashflow is necessary to pay the bills and keep the ship afloat in the water. Having a financial plan to predict how and what cash will be brought into the business every month is important. Then have a contingency of a 5 to 10% “slush fund” for the “I didn’t know what I didn’t know “expenses that seem to pop out of nowhere. The above are just some starting points to consider as you put time, thought and energy into determining the best route to take to reach a successful outcome for your business launch.

These answers will help minimize the uncertainty of your “leap of faith”.

For more information on how Claudia can help your growth both personally and professionally please contact or visit for free video tools to help you grow!

Claudia Harvey

Author, Speaker and Business Leader | #blog