3 Ways to “Legally” Leave Your 9-5

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So you’ve been in Corporate America for awhile and you’re contemplating your exit strategy; you want out! I get it.

When I entered entrepreneurship 13 years ago, I quit a job at a law firm at which I was employed for only about six weeks. I knew it wasn’t for me. The problem: I was broke, I did not have even $500 in savings, I was a new lawyer and did not know what the heck I was doing. I was arrogant. I didn’t want anyone that I felt wasn’t any smarter than I was to tell me what to do so I left.

Looking back on it I probably could have taken a more responsible route. I maybe could have worked at the law firm long enough to save some money. While working there I could have devised a real plan for what I should do. Lucky for me my leap of faith worked, but not everyone has such a happy ending.

Many will tell you to just drop the 9-5 and focus 100% on your dream. Others will tell you to use your day job to fund your dream job/business. I don’t advise people on which road to travel; it is totally a personal decision based upon each individual situation.

If you do choose to stay at your 9-5 gig before jumping full time into entrepreneurship I have a few tips to ensure you “legally” leave your job when YOU are ready.

  1. Check Your Employment Contract: If you signed an employment contract with your employer READ IT! Some contracts can limit you from having a second job, participating in certain out of office activities/behavior, engaging in other particular business ventures. You may have signed it long ago and didn’t have entrepreneurship on your brain at the time. Pull it out and review it so that you can be sure you are not violating your employment contract. Don’t lose the job before you are financially or mentally ready to leave.
  2. Limit Your Business Calls and Planning: If you are working on your business I’d advise limiting that activity to when you are off the clock. Working on your business (internet searches, phone calls, reading/research) is a prime example of time theft. Time theft occurs when an employee is paid for work that they have not done at the time they were supposed to do it. Most employers can determine which websites you visited and may even have cameras in the office. Big Brother is always watching. Be careful! Don’t find yourself in the position where you are being accused of time theft and thereby terminated.
  3. Your Employer Owns Your Brain: Yep, they own everything you created under the scope of your employment. If your business is closely related to your 9-5 gig, tread with caution. If you created a new process, new software, worked on the company blog, had an invention, etc, that intellectual property may belong to the company. You may not be able to take what you created and now monetize it in your new business. Also be sure to adhere to company non disclosures and non-compete clauses that may be in your contract.

Determining when to leave your 9-5 can be a difficult choice. However, be sure to follow the rules to avoid the risk of losing the job before you are ready. Also don’t burn bridges. Don’t upset your employer for you never know what may happen. You may need a reference for something or worst case scenario you may need to ask for your job back. Don’t mess up a relationship.

 

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Khloe Kardashian Sued For Posting a Picture of Herself.

If you thought you were having a bad day, remember it could be worse! You could have been slapped with a $150k lawsuit. YIKES!!

Khloe Kardashian is in that situation right now. If you hadn’t heard Khloe Kardashian is being sued by UK based photography agency, Xposure Photos.

She is being sued for posting a picture of herself on Instagram.

Wait, what??! YES, a picture of herself. ​It is a bit humorous if I must say so myself! However, in my legal opinion this photographer has a pretty legitimate argument. The photographer claims to have taken a picture (not the image below) of Khloe at a Miami restaurant in September 2016. He asserts that Khloe removed his copyright info/watermark from the picture and posted it on her Instagram page. Khloe failed to mention the photographer’s name or give him credit in her social media post. 

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The photographer is claiming that he could have made a profit from the picture (selling the pic, licensing, etc), but Khloe posted it to over 60 million Instagram followers and he can no longer profit front the picture she released.

Here is a little legal Intellectual Property info: The person that is photographed does not hold the copyright  of an image. The person that snaps the camera has an automatic copyright even without obtaining a formal US copyright registration. If the person being photographed agrees to being photographed it STILL does not transfer any intellectual property rights relating to copyright. 

So the picture, regardless of who is in it, belongs to the photographer.

Sorry, Khloe! 

If Khloe had asked me I would have told her… lol.

Even in the instance that the person being photographed signs some type of waiver allowing the photographer to photograph them/ or do whatever they’d like with the picture, that still does not transfer copyright. In the instance that Khloe signed a standard waiver of that nature, she would still have to ask permission or at least agree to give credit/acknowledgment to the photographer. Unless it is stated otherwise the copyright belongs to the person behind that camera!

My question is- how did she get the pic?? Did the photographer send it to her? Did she swipe it from the photographer’s social media page?? I’m just curious. If she snatched it off their social media it gets a little complicated. But, I haven’t read anything about where or how she got the picture.

Maybe a simple little @ or a # for the photographer would have prevented all of this

I’m sure the photographer would have been happy with the mention/acknowledgment to over 60 million people. Some say the photographer is looking for attention. Regardless of whether he is or he isn’t- my guess is that Khloe will cut him a check!

This will definitely be interesting! The legal nerd in me cannot wait to see the outcome.

It is a great message to all the creatives and artists- Know your rights 🙂

What are your thoughts on this? Let me know below.

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Business Blessings,

Protect Yourself From Brand Thieves!!

Brand Thieves and Squatters

I LOVE business. I find having a business idea, developing a plan, giving “birth” to it, watching it grow and generate revenue is so exciting. What can be worse than building it all and  having someone snatch not only your business idea, but also your business or product name?!! YIKES!!

I help so many people develop amazing businesses and the last thing they think about is protecting their name. I get it. Often I meet people that have been in business for awhile and STILL aren’t concerned about it. They get real concerned about it- to the point of tears and a bunch of bad words- once someone else starts using the same (or a very similar name). The anger and fear is at even higher levels when they learn that someone else may have even gone as far as obtaining a federal trademark registration for the name.

It is a sick feeling. The thought of “your baby” being snatched from you, all the money you spent on branding and possibly merchandise flushed down the toilet. They got the trademark registration and now own the name, right? WRONG! It is still yours, but just like a great relationship, you may have to fight for it.

Don’t feel intimated because you think someone “one upped” you. Here’s the deal:

If you were the first person to use the name in commerce before the weasel trademarked the name, you can have their trademark canceled. Great news, right?!

So, what does “use in commerce” mean? Briefly it means a) when the name is placed on the goods, labels, tags, etc ; b) the goods are sold or transported in commerce; c) on services, when the name is displayed in the sale or advertising of services.

One may feel intimated upon receipt of a demand to stop using the name because it has been registered by another person. However, knowing your rights and having the proof of when you began using it in commerce, can help in your fight for your name.

Although it may not be hard to prove, it is a headache to present everything and seek cancelation of the other person’s trademark so that you can then seek registration. A headache that can be avoided. My advice is to just handle this before it can ever become an issue. Seek trademark registration early on in your venture. In today’s social media age, when someone sees a name that they like, unfortunately they “take” it. They will bully the real owner, ignore all requests to stop and even offer to sell it back to the real owner.

Treat your business like a REAL business. Handle your intellectual property/ brand ownership before someone mishandles you!

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Building the Brand (Entry 1)

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As you know I LOVE business! I somehow get a “high” from the peaks and the valleys that come along with entrepreneurship. Some call me crazy and others completely “get” me.

For the last couple of years I have been coaching and consulting with business owners on their endeavors. As you likely already know I have been guiding them through building and growing their brand as well as helping them legally protect it. I LOVE what I do! However, in watching and helping others build, it caused me to miss building my own businesses.  This year I have decided to launch a few of my own new projects.

I thought via my blog and email newsletter, documenting my progress and the things that I am doing would help others that want to also build strong brands. In addition it would hold me accountable and help me to stay on track. Knowing that thousands of people on my email list are waiting to read about my progress (and possibly implement the same tools/tactics), it will MAKE me work and prevent me from getting off track.

The series will be called “Building the Brand”. Welcome to Entry one of Building the Brand… I hope you enjoy!

The Plan:

I have several brands I am planning to launch this year. However in mapping out my goals and strategies for 2017 I decided that working on one at a time would be the best way to tackle it. I outlined what I want to launch and determined which of my projects would be the most lucrative. WHY? Because the plan is to make money then use that money to fund the next project, then the next…

The goal is to have multiple businesses operating like a well oiled machines that eventually are all making money. MULTIPLE STREAMS OF INCOME!!! 

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The First:

I visited Morocco in November. I was invited there to speak at the United Nations Conference. (Read more about the business lessons I learned in Morocco here) While there I took in some sights and immersed myself in the culture. It was quite the experience. My favorites in Morocco were the hot mint tea that they served and their leather goods. The leather…OMG the leather!! I hadn’t seen so many beautiful and high quality leather items in one place. Initially I just looked around in awe.

Seeing how the leather goods were made was amazing. Witnessing artisans prepare the leather, stitch the leather, dye the leather… I was speechless! If you know me then you know that is me being speechless is a very rare occasion 🙂

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I purchased several bags. They not only looked nice but, the quality was way better than designer bags that I own and it was a fraction of the price. Bags that I knew would cost close to 1K in the U.S. weren’t priced close to that.

Of course my wheels started to turn. I knew that if I could get these bags to the U.S. I could sell them for a fraction of what others bags are sold. Once I sent friends and family pics of my new bags and they went NUTS. I knew that I was onto something. I crunched numbers and compared the amount required for investing for all the ideas I had for businesses. This bag venture became my first choice because of the return on investment (ROI). The margins were great!

The Team:

From experience I know that in order to build anything it takes a team. One big reason why a team was essential for this particular project was because of the language barrier. In Morocco they speak Arabic, French and sometimes a bit of Spanish. There are some that speak English, but it is not their native language.

I have the skill set to build a brand, but I definitely needed someone that spoke both English and Arabic or French to handle the communication with the artisans.

I was sure to put together an English speaking team before I departed Morocco. The first member was the manager at the home where I stayed. He did such a great job taking care of me and showing me around the 7 days I was there. I knew he would be perfect! He gathered more. Before departing I also was sure that we were all using WhatsApp. If you are not familiar, WhatsApp is a texting app that allows communication between people anytime from anywhere. WhatsApp is essential for anyone that needs to communicate with others in a different country at no charge.

The Audience:

When building a new brand it is essential that a target audience is clearly defined. Defining the audience is part of the business foundation. If one does not know to whom they are targeting their product it will become difficult to market effectively. If it is not clear, everything else will be an uphill battle.

I knew my target audience/customer would be someone like me. I defined them as women (or men) 30 yrs plus that work in corporate America or as an entrepreneur. This person likes to travel, likes nice things and appreciates the value of a quality product. I then started to look up other travel and briefcase bag brands. It helped me determine exactly what I wanted my brand to look and feel like. It had to be refined, simple and conservative yet have a bit of a flair.

The Name:

Deciding on a name took the longest. After days- maybe even weeks- of pondering I finally had a fitting name. The name had to be easy to pronounce and just as easy to spell. I wanted it to be easy to be found on the internet. A difficult spelling or hard to pronounce name would not work! Finally I decided to call the brand Mint Luxury Leather. I wanted there to be a story behind the name. The story was simple- I went to Morocco and fell in love with the leather bags and MINT tea. 🙂 Pretty simple, right? Simple but it took way too long to come up with! lol Follow the brand on Instagram

Pricing:

Although there are other brands to which to compare this still took some work. There were shipping costs to get items to U.S., dust bag costs (every good leather bag needs a dust bag for storage), cost for tags, cost for cards that outlined how to care for the bag, team to inspect items upon receipt, website/ e-commerce expenses and more. Although it is tempting to look at a “competitor’s” price and make yours the same or less, it is not always the best route. Mostly because you do not know that company’s expenses. The may have gotten the merchandise at a lower cost, they may have a less quality product..who knows! I had to get familiar with my numbers and worry only about that.

Many may ask why I had to have tagging or a dust bag or tips on caring for the bag. That answer is simple- it is because I know my target customer. I know these are things my target customer would expect and also appreciate.

Going the extra mile and creating more of an experience as opposed to just a transaction is what will be vital in my new venture. Experiences (if executed properly) create loyal customers. What can you do to create more experiences in your business?

In typing this blog entry I am realizing exactly how much work went into each thing I have done thus far. I actually had more, but shortened it b/c I did not want to bore you lol. In my next entry I will share more info on strategy and what I have and will do to increase interest and revenue generating plans. I will also share the first pitfall I experienced this week. The pitfall almost made me quit! I promise to share the good, the bad and the UGLY!

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3 Business Lessons I Learned in Morocco

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Happy Tuesday! I am trying to get back in the swing of things. I got back from Morocco Saturday morning. It was a 23 hour trip home and a five hour time difference. My body has been so confused! I got back home and immediately went back in mommy mode…no time for sleep! Basketball games and events were still scheduled for the weekend. I rested a little yesterday and I am up and ready today!

My trip was life changing; it opened my eyes to so many things! I am so fortunate to have been selected to be only one of four African Americans (the only female) to speak in the Innovation Zone at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. It is still pretty surreal!

I will answer the number one question I received: “Why as an attorney & business consultant, were you selected to speak on climate change?”

LOL…Yes, when I got the emailed invitation from the organizer I was pretty confused too! Later, I learned that the organizer wanted me to speak about how climate change has had an impact on female entrepreneurs. I used this platform to speak about my own experiences as an entrepreneur after Hurricane Katrina. I spoke about how this natural disaster, as well as others, caused people to have to do whatever it takes to survive. I discussed how so many men that acted as the head of the household before the disaster were displaced and emotionally distraught and unable to cope. Many women had to step up and begin taking the leader position in the household- often using their own skills and expertise to earn money. Like myself they “accidentally” became entrepreneurs. I don’t want to spoil it all, so I will save some for you to watch on video once it become available.

I learned more about climate change and it’s impacts on entrepreneurs, small and large businesses and families. The conference was so informative! I learned some other things totally unrelated to climate change.

Here are a few of the other things I learned:

1. The World is Big. That sounds pretty obvious, right? I’m sureyou knew that! It became even more clear the more I interacted with people from all over the world. I made major connections with people from Paris, Camaroon, Morocco, Ethiopia and more. So often as entrepreneurs we hear others encourage us to see things outside of our city. It is then encouraged for us to think outside of our state; to think nationwide. This experience in Morocco encouraged me to see things BIGGER! It encouraged me to think GLOBAL.

Maybe the United States (or whatever country you reside) is just not big enough for you.

This trip allowed me to talk with others about how they do business. I learned so much; my mindset will never be the same.

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2. Entrepreneurship Builds CommunitiesWhile in Marrakesh, Morocco I did not stay in a typical hotel. I stayed in a riad, a traditional Moroccanhome. Living in the TRUE Moroccan environment I saw Marrakesh, Morocco in a different way than the average tourist. The people of Marrakesh live behind a huge circular wall in the middle of the city. Inside this wall are terra-cotta buildings built closely together that you would never imagine anyone residing.

Pictures of Marrakesh from the early 1900’s depict exactly what Marrakesh looks like today in 2016! Inside these old buildings are amazing living spaces. I stayed in the home with the other three African-Americans that I presented with at the conference. We had a house manager and a cook- they treated us like family. The house manager took me out to see the marketplace. The marketplace was also inside the “wall”. To the residents, the marketplace to them is much like a grocery store or a Target for us. They all mostly work/own one of these shops. The residents sell meat, spices, clothing. leather goods, fruit, provide carpentry…and so much more. The residents do not have to leave the “wall” for much.

The money circulates inside that wall! It all stays in their community!

 In preparation for dinner, they walk to a meat/poultry stand and purchase something that was recently slaughtered. When someone sews a new dress they walk to the market and purchase natural products to dye it…or they just sell it! They are all supporting each other’s families! There is no competition, no business courses to teach them…they just do it! They are ALL natural entrepreneurs. It was so encouraging to see.

3. You Must Have A Mission One of the other presenters at the conference really impressed me. He had an agenda. He had a list of the type of people he needed to fulfill his goals. He knew with whom he wanted to connect and why. When people spoke with him he was clear about what he wanted from them or what he could do for them. I had an idea of who I wanted to connect with; he was CLEAR. He set out to meet these people that he needed to accomplish his goals and he did just that! While I would meet people and then think about what we could do together; my colleague already KNEW. This allowed him to meet more people, make intentional connections and waste very little time. I loved learning from him and was sure to make the adjustment in day two of my adventure.

4. Don’t make it ALL About Business– this was my very first international speaking gig. I am grateful that it will not be my last. Typically when I speak out of town I will make quick in and out trips. Since this engagement was so far away and the travel was so long, I decided to stay an extra two days. I am so glad that I did. I got out and saw the city a bit more and even rode a camel! The best part is that one of the MAJOR connections I made was on the streets of Marrakesh outside of the conference with someone that wasn’t even attending the conference. I was dressed in pixie pants and chuck’s. I can’t wait to tell you more about it! Learn to let your hair down a little; the major breakthrough may come when you are not looking for it!

 

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Lessons on My Birthday

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GOOD MORNING!!!!! HEYYYY!!! Today is my BIRTHDAY!

(insert a dance move and big smile here)

What better way to spend it than working, right?! Lucky for me what I do does not feel like work. I love what I do.

Today I am in Marrakech, Morocco. It is a beautiful city!! the culture is so intriguing.

I was invited by a group called Freedom Village to represent the United States as we speak at the United Nations Climate Change Conference November 13- 20. I am one of four African Americans (and the ONLY African American female) invited to empower others to sustain themselves in this changing world. I will speak specifically on innovation and the female entrepreneur.

I’ve been awake consistently refining my speech in preparation for my first international speaking engagement. I will stand before Global influencers including 10,000 heads of state plus the 160 United Nations Presidents – yes, including our own President Barack Obama!

I am grateful to be among a delegation of elect Global leaders who will convene in Marrakech, Morocco and speak on an international stage for #COP22 with an emphasis on Climate Change and saving our earth with a focus on Innovation, Sustainability, Renewable Energy, Green Tech & Building Smart-Cities.

Last night I think it all hit me. WOW! I did it! I traveled internationally all by myself. I took two planes, 2 trains and a car…I navigated alone. I am also staying in a riad, a tradition Moroccan home, with the local people in their community.

That’s big for me. When the opportunity presented itself I almost said no.

“I can’t leave my kids for a week!”

“I can’t speak in front of a huge crowd like that!”

“This is over my head!”

“I can’t travel that far alone!”

All those doubts crept in my mind…quickly. I fought to dismiss them and seized this amazing opportunity. I have learned that whenever we step into a new level old doubts and fears show up. It is normal because we become uncomfortable with the change. It is not healthy to let those thoughts take over to the point where we block our own blessings.

Amazing things happen when we allow ourselves to become uncomfortable. We open ourselves up to new experiences, new people and things.

The key is to get passed the uncomfortable feeling and just do it anyway!

For my birthday I would like for you to give me a gift. I don’t want anything tangible. I want you to determine what makes you uncomfortable in your life and in business. Decide to JUST DO IT this week.

It does not have to be getting on a plane and traveling to a foreign country and speaking to national leaders (YIKES..I am still a little nervous..lol). Your uncomfortable thing may be tackling social media, doing a live stream, making a cold call, starting your book…

Do me a favor for my birthday and start it this week. That one thing you are fearing may be the one thing that takes you to the next level. Tackle the unknown with determination. 

Complacency is easyDo something difficult.

Wishing you the best this week,

Lenise

9 Tips to Running Your Business Like a Successful Presidential Campaign

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Well, Election Day has come and gone. Despite whether you are happy, sad or indifferent with the results, we have a new president- elect.

This writing is just my observation b/c I compare everything to business! It is not meant to spark a debate or to show support for Trump or Clinton… b/c for the record, I voted but like many I don’t support either 😉 

However, I did have a few takeaways of how principles from this election can help you in your business. Just like business, politics is truly best won when there is a true instance of influence and persuasion.

In business and in politics it is not always about who has the most skill or experience. It is often based on who has the skill to influence and play on your emotions as opposed to your intelligence. Idea, strategy and the ability to have an impact on other’s emotions will get you far. The best marketer and the best strategist will always win any competition!

Here is what you can do in your industry to have “presidential- candidate- like influence”!

 1. Have a clear mission statement and/or catchphrase (Make America Great Again) that resonates with your target audience.

2. Consistently deliver the same statement/ vision (even if at the moment you lack a plan of how to get it done). Consistency is key.

3. Do something (good and even sometimes bad and/or upsurd) that causes media attention. Make people TALK!

4. Remain confident no matter how dismal it may appear. Think BIG. 

5. Use social media to gain attention & a create a true tribe of people that support you and with whom you engage regularly.

6. Show your personality. Be authentic! Some people may like it!

7. Research your “competition” to determine what sets you apart (not corrupt; didn’t delete emails) from your opponent. Use whatever sets you apart to help you gain popularity and trust.

8. Even if your family (members of the Republican Party) stop supporting you believe in yourself to go forward without them.

9. Have a niche audience. Determine exactly to whom you’d like to appeal. Don’t sway. Keep putting out information that speaks directly to them. You will get the majority of that group’s business/ votes as opposed to trying to convince everyone to shop/work/vote with you.

Do this and you too can be president of a successful company or even the United States.

 

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