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Reflections from the Road

March 15, 2008 4:12 PM

detroit%20crowd4.jpgI spent last week on the road reporting live on Good Morning America for our popular Take Control of Your Life series. I visited Atlanta, Chicago and Detroit and shook hundreds of hands and listened to countless stories from good, decent people who want to work hard and build a better life. Even though many are jobless in a challenging economy, I sensed no desperation and no despair.

Instead, what I encountered over and over was great hope, endless energy and big dreams for tomorrow. The only challenge—a common one, unfortunately—among many of these people is lack of know-how to break through all the clutter and the noise to land a suitable position.detroit%20group%20%282%29cropped.jpg

Dateline Detroit: Meet Carol Gould

Take for example Carol Gould, a highly-accomplished photographer who built a career shooting for the automotive industry. Eight years ago her business did $250,000 worth of high-profile projects for the car giants. Last year, she and her husband made about $30,000 to support their family of five. Her talent didn’t diminish, but her fortunes fell as the industry she hung her hat on hit hard times.

Carol was skeptical when I told her she needed to branch out to get hired from home to work on projects for clients outside of Michigan. She spent 20 years walking into prospective clients, pulling out her portfolio, and getting the job. The idea of doing this virtually was totally foreign to her.

The solution? Build a website to showcase her awesome talent. Afireflystudio.com agreed to barter their web design talent for Carol’s future photography services. The result – www.photogalenterpriseshttp://photogalenterprises.com/.com – is an inspiring celebration of Carol’s portfolio and capabilities.

Then we got busy with extreme networking—marketing that website by reaching out to anyone and everyone who could possibly lead Carol to more people and possible projects. In just one week, she landed three assignments from people she had never met: A card company in California, a new skincare line in Texas, and a consulting company in New Jersey. Over $2,000 of business, and a big boost to her confidence.

The lesson? Don't allow tunnel vision to blind you to the possibilities. Just because you’ve always done one thing or followed one path doesn’t mean it’s all you can do. If she could take photographs of cars, she could surely photograph anything. And if she could do it for clients in Michigan, she could service the rest of the country too.

Dateline Detroit: Meet Renee Tacy

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She's a wife and mom who left the workforce almost three years ago when her fifth child was born. Since then it's been very difficult to find a position. There aren't an abundance of openings and there's steep competition in Detroit among laid-off auto workers. To complicate matters, her adorable five year old has mosaic downs, which means he is sick very often. His medical condition demands flexibility from Renee who must be available on a moment's notice for doctors' appointments and even emergecny room visits. So she and her husband formed www.alwaysspecialandpersonal.com, a candle and air freshener company. Their main source of revenue is sales at craft shows, church functions and similar events. Click here to watch our brief interview about how she plans to grow the business nationally. And then visit her site to place an order! Not only will you be getting a great product, but you'll feel extra special knowing it's going to a great business owner.

Watch this space for more reflections from the road. I have so many tales to tell and can’t wait to share them with you. In the meantime, I’d like two things from you: Visit Carol’s website and let her know your thoughts. If you have a recommendation or referral, pass it along. And on this blog, please post your success strategies for breaking through the blinders.


Comments (1)

I enjoyed reading these reflections. I especially relate to Carol's story. I've made the transition from well-paid attorney to entrepreneur, and the challenge is to maintain faith in my plan even though my efforts do not yet yield the result that I desire.

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