Our blog now has a new home!! You can still follow us at http://www.perkconsulting.net/blog/

The new P.E.R.K. Consulting logo!

Thank you to everyone that came out to our launch last night, and to DP Graphics for creating this fantastic logo that so “perfectly represents the growth and development that P.E.R.K. seeks to inspire in people and organizations.”

“I’ve failed over and over and over in life and that is why I succeed.” When Michael imageJordan uttered those words, I thought he was talking about me. My life has been full of setbacks and heartbreaks but through the grace of God I’ve been triumphant.

I spent 10 years of my life in a low paying, unskilled industry. I worked hard, earned two degrees, and strived for excellence every day. Yet, somehow I couldn’t get out of answering monotonous telephone calls, listening to complaints, and solving everyone else’s problems. The perks were low and the pay was even lower, which is why I couldn’t wait to get out of such an undesirable entry level position.

Year after year I applied for every position at virtually every company in my city. The rejection letters came so frequently that I became accustomed to the “Thanks, but no thanks” verbiage that flooded my email regularly. I started wondering if answering phones was all God had in store for me. Little did I know He was about to show me exactly what His plans were for me.

I have always been outspoken. It’s a blessing at times but it has its drawbacks especially in a professional environment. In the corporate world, outspoken people can be unattractive to many employers. I’ve always thought outside of the box and never fed into mainstream ideals. I never knew that my willingness to go against the status quo could pay off in more ways than one.

I used to envy people that could sing, dance, or showcase other obvious talents they had. I couldn’t do any of those things. I didn’t have the aptitude to handle technical applications. I had a low amount of business acumen, and I had no desire to enhance my math and science skills.
My career choices were limited and I became used to the notion that a lifetime of performing menial duties was in my future. I didn’t go to college and go above and beyond expectations for 10 years to maintain an entry level position that didn’t require a degree or experience. I was discouraged and continually questioned God about my purpose in life.

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but it never occurred to me to pursue it as a career goal. I had no idea that others appreciated my opinionated views until I was asked to write an article for a popular website. People were receptive to my writing which has given me more writing opportunities for other media outlets. If it hadn’t been for those 10 long years in an environment that was less than ideal, I couldn’t now appreciate the opportunities God gave me. I never realized until now that God closed all those other doors to other careers so that I would take the one He opened for me. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to get there, as long as we get there.

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Ashley Brumeh is a contributing writer to Madame Noire’s web-based publication imageand the Cincinnati Herald newspaper. Her work has also been featured in the Grio, an affiliate of NBC. She is from Cincinnati, OH and currently resides in Dayton, OH with her husband and young daughter.

Sticking With Your Resolution

image"New Year’s resolutions rarely work, because good intentions don’t often survive a collision with reality."

I read that quote by Seth Godin on New Year’s Day. Talk about discouragement. After reading it, my immediate reaction was to disagree, ultimately followed by acquiescence. Perhaps Mr. Godin is right. 
I am not a statistician, but it is reasonable to believe that a large percentage of those who make New Year’s Resolutions will find themselves vowing to the same things at 11:59pm December 31, 2013. If that were not the case, Weight Watchers and many self-help services may soon be out of business. If the redundancy is inevitable, why bother? I believe the answer is in the old adage that without vision, people perish.

Discipline and fortitude were two skills that I learned in 2012. Thus, for the first time in a long time, when the clock struck midnight New Year’s Eve, I felt relief and not disappointment or regret. Instead of agonizing about the what-ifs, I was celebrating meeting outcomes, and getting ready for the challenge of new goals. The secret was not in a magic potion or a drastic change in my circumstances, just three small habits that proved to make a big difference.

1. I wrote down my goals, and I held myself accountable to them. When I speak at workshops, I usually encourage attendees to write their vision and hang it up in plain sight. It is nearly impossible to ignore a reminder on your refrigerator, or on your bathroom mirror. Hold yourself accountable to your goals by never allowing them out of your sight.

2. I recruited. There are some who will support your ideas, and others who will not rest until their doubt becomes your doubt. Let those people go. If you allow those people to continue to influence you, the process of undoing the damage will demand time that will take away from achieving your goals. Be purposeful about building (and maintaining) relationships with people who are constructive and will support your goals.

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"Progress is the activity of today and the assurance of tomorrow."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

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January-P.E.R.K. Consulting begins operating in the Washington DC area.

February-CEO, Andrena Sawyer, facilitates a Vision Board event in New Jersey. This would be the first of many personal development workshops facilitated by P.E.R.K. Consulting.

March- Youth Activist, Shalee Forney, includes Andrena among her list of 31 Women Making History, in honor of Women’s History Month.

April- The first ever Me, Myself & I workshop is hosted at the Emergence Community Arts Collective in Washington, DC.

May- Rhyme Council Music Group enters into a brief contract with P.E.R.K. for Program Development services. 

June- The Other Side of Assertiveness, a self-esteem and personal development handbook for women based on P.E.R.K. workshops is published. It is available on Amazon, iTunes, Lulu.com and Barnes & Noble.

July- Andrena is nominated for the Hope of Africa Leadership in Community Development in Atlanta, Georgia.

August- The last of the 2012 Me, Myself & I series takes place.

September- Andrena is featured in ReConnect Africa Magazine, for her work as a young African making strides in community development.

October- P.E.R.K. Consulting partners with start up The Echo Grp LLC.

November-A partnership develops between P.E.R.K. Consulting and the Arlington (VA) Department of Human Services. Andrena facilitates a series of workshops for DHS customers.

December- A four-part series of personal development workshops is successfully completed! We begin preparations for The Official P.E.R.K. Consulting Re-launch & Networking Event!

2012 has been amazing! We are looking forward to all that 2013 brings with it! Happy New Year!

RECIPE FOR A PRODUCTIVE MEETING*

Ingredients

  • 1 meeting goal
    1 definition of scope & timeline
    1 meeting agenda
    4 attendee roles (recommended by P.E.R.K. to adjust to taste)


Directiimageons

  1. Define the Meeting’s Goal: Decide on the primary purpose of the meeting. Is it, for example, information-sharing, brainstorming, problem-resolution or decision-making?
  2. Define the Scope & Timeline: Map out where this meeting fits in the overall scheme of things and where it lies in the project timeline.
  3. Prepare the Meeting Agenda: State the meeting goal in the agenda title and provide the scope/timeline from step 2. List all the topics to be covered and include a time allotment for each. Pass it out before the meeting and ask attendees to prepare questions.
  4. Assign Roles:
    • The Leader: Closely following the agenda, a leader drives the meeting by introducing each item, presenting facts, identifying problems, suggesting solutions, taking votes and summarizing what has been discussed.
    • The Timekeeper: Unlike a rigid chair umpire in a tennis match, the timekeeper makes sure things progress smoothly. When too much time is spent on one item, he/she kindly informs the group. Timekeepers also announce when the halfway mark is reached.
    • The Referee: A beacon of objectivity, the ref intervenes to give everyone equal playing time. He may need to prod some members to elicit their input and “bench” those that have taken up too much time.
    • The Secretary: Skilled in the art of shorthand, the secretary records key decisions, the rational behind them, and action items that come up.

      *Biztree’s custom-made productivity bullets! Tips provided by Business-in-a-Box

5 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Bootstrap Without A Second Job


Quitting your job is scary. Quitting your job after you just spent your savings buying an apt in NYC is another level of scary. That is exactly what I did when I left my banking job to start my own company. It’s a familiar story. Like most entrepreneurs who leave their day jobs, I encountered the usual criticism. My friends thought I was crazy.  I was no longer going to be a good Asian daughter by pursuing an MBA at an Ivy League school. Looking back, that was probably the easiest thing I could have done compared to the day-to-day tasks as an entrepreneur.

After putting in my two-week’s notice, I came up with a game plan on how to bootstrap while building my startup. I knew that I couldn’t take a second job since I needed to focus completely on my company. I have been doing the following things for the past year and, not only have I saved money, but I have also learned how to live the lean way, something any start-up founder should know. Caution: The advice below is not for the weak.

1.     Airbnb

Airbnb is my favorite startup. Their platform allows you to rent out your entire apt, room, sofa, floor, or anything for a guest to crash on. Your guest has a profile with their phone number, social network verifications, brief information, and ratings and reviews so that you know that it is safe. Trust me, it is not as sketchy as it seems. I learned this after watching Mark Suster interview Tracy DiNunzio of Recycled Bride. In that video I learned she made $100K renting her room out. Since I happened to have just bought an apartment, I decided to keep the one I was previously renting and put it up on Airbnb.  After a while it turned out to not only be a way to save money, but was also a chance to meet people from all over the world, including from other start-ups entrepreneurs, investors, and partners at top companies.

Time to manage: 3 hours a week
Why it rocks: Living rent free

2.     Skillshare

Skillshare allows you to learn or teach classes. It isn’t as profitable as Airbnb, but doesn’t require much time or skill. I taught a Persian cooking class, and I’m not even Persian! But I know some amazing recipes and made it work. I made new friends that I am still friends with today and are users of my company.

Time to manage: 3 hours a week
Why it rocks: Pays for your meals and networking opportunities

3.     Get groceries and cook

There are so many horror stories of entrepreneurs suffering through a daily dose of ramen or fast food. It’s not good to survive only on ramen and chicken nuggets. Staying healthy helps keep your mind balanced and sharp, and it starts with the food you eat. But being healthy doesn’t mean going to Whole Foods and buying Kale chips and Kombucha.  You can be healthy for cheap.  Shopping for groceries in Chinatown and Trader Joe’s is the half price compared to going to Whole Foods or other groceries stores. It really doesn’t take that much time to make a sandwich, pasta, salad, or veggie fried rice. All you need to do is plan ahead. Say no to ramen!

Time to manage: 6 hours a week for 3 meals a day
Why it rocks: Less chance of getting sick & eat more for less

4.     Cutback on (things) you don’t need

If you were working a 9 to 5 job, chances are you were living a comfortable life with some discretionary income. Get ready for a bumpy ride ahead!  Eliminate the luxury items. Do you really need to pay $10 a month on a premium version of anything? Keep it simple, but don’t be afraid to keep at least one luxury for you sanity’s sake. Go ahead and renew that gym membership. To keep costs low, try to negotiate a discount or move to a new lower-priced gym. I managed to get my gym membership without an enrollment fee and student discount. It’s a great way to practice your negotiation skills as an entrepreneur. Also, avoid $30 yoga classes; there are donation based studios like Yoga to the People.

Time to manage: Zero
Why it rocks: Pays for more healthy food

5.     Take a break from shopping

Final note to the weak: Don’t go shopping.  For anything.  Resist the urge to go to sites like Fab, Gilt, or The Fancy (I’m not linking you for a reason).  If you need a new shirt or dress for an occasion; buy it, keep the tag, and return it.  Times are rough.  This was really hard for me. I was so used to getting a steady paycheck for the past 4 years that I would buy things without thinking. I knew I had to be strong. Do I really need another straight cut jean in light purple? No. Unless you are in a fashion startup I think you can suffer for the next year or two with some basic clothing. Sacrifice. It’s part of being an entrepreneur.

Time to manage: None
Why it rocks: Saves time and money for the essentials


Nurul Yahya is one of the Co-Founders at Fiestah. Fiestah is an event planning marketplace that helps everyday people easily get the things for their events. From birthday parties to hackathons, people simply post what they need and local food trucks, chefs, DJs, photographers and more start bidding to work at the event.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

"The question isn’t who’s going to let me; It’s who’s going to stop me."

Inspiration for Women- 13 Quotes to Live by! (by Andrena Sawyer)

An Attitude of Gratitude
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

*Happy Thanksgiving from the P.E.R.K. Consulting family to yours!