****This blog is no longer updated at this address! Come check it out at http://thinkandgrowchick.com. All of the archives are available there as well****

This site is my online journal that documents my attempts to reach various goals inspired by the principles found in the book, Think and Grow Rich. Join me as I strive to meet financial goals, fashion goals, school goals, hair-care goals, and everything in between. I hope that other young women will relate and find my journey useful to read about; this blog is for me as much as it is for women seeking resources for personal development and freedom. To get a daily dose, follow me on twitter and facebook...and don't forget to follow my blog!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Video: Natural Hair Routine Part I: The Pre-Poo


Yes, I'm a jerk for not being able to adhere to the posting schedule that I devised. Lets just agree that the Monday/Friday posting schedule is suspended as of now, and i'll simply try to post as often as I can :-)


This is the first in a series of videos I'm working on which will show you all my new hair routine and the progress my hair makes as I stick with it over the next few months. Enjoy!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Blogs are the New Black?

Via my twitter feed, I recently ran across Black Enterprise's "Be Next 2010" which is their yearly feature on young, up-and-coming black entrepreneurs. Hoping to get on that list myself one day, imagine my surprise and delight to see Natasha Eubanks, fellow blogger and creator of TheYBF.com among the ranks. 

With Black Enterprise featuring Natasha's success with turning her blog into a successful, full-blown company, I thought it'd be helpful today to post some tips about using a blog to launch your next project, since I know many of my readers are also bloggers with big dreams of starting really amazing ventures.

The number one reason to start a blog is that a blog helps you hone in on what you're trying to accomplish. You will never gain the readership you desire if you don't center your blog around a specific niche and purpose. The same can be said for your business or project—you will never gain the success you desire if you don't have a specific purpose. What problem are you solving with your idea? If you have an idea that will legitimately be useful to a group of people, then writing about it should attract a significant following. If you find that you're struggling to think of things to write about on your blog or people are not attracted to the things you are writing about, then perhaps that is evidence that your blog and your project need some tweaking.

Another blatant reason to start a blog is that blogs are a free/cheap way to get online. I don't know about you, but I never have a ton of cash to blow on web designers and hosting just to put up a website. Blogs are a perfect solution because in nearly all cases, they are free to start and come with free hosting. If you want your blog to reflect your own domain (i.e. www.yourbusiness.com), many blogs can do that for just the cost of the domain name (generally $10 for a whole year). When bootstrapping a new venture, there's really no reason to have a "standard website" when your first starting out, as many blogging platforms have free, professional templates you can use instead. Furthermore, a blog can provide all the information a standard website would have if you simply set it up right. Make sure all the info a potential customer would need about your company is easily found on your blog, and voila! You are good to go!

Speaking of customers, a blog is a great way to build your potential customer base. Once you gain a significant readership to your blog, you can begin marketing your project directly to your visitors, as they are likely to already have an interest in your idea since they keep coming back to read your blog.

A blog is also a great testing place for potential products or services. Thinking of launching a new t-shirt line? Write a few post about if first and get your readers involved. Read their comments and listen to what they have to say before you spend money on that new project. What you think is a great idea might not be so if you're truly targeting your readers as customers. Take you reader feedback seriously; it can save you from spending thousands on a new but poorly planned idea.

The point is if you have enough moxie to start up a blog a get it to a mildly successful point, then you can probably do the same with a business. 

Have you had success with blogging? Are you just starting out but are dying to be the next "YBF" blogger? Share your thoughts in the comments box or email me at thinkandgrowchick [at] gmail [dot] com.

Monday, January 4, 2010

How Going Natural Taught Me Everything I Know About Success

Though every new year brings about a renewed sense of self improvement and making changes, I find that my 2010 resolutions are particularly magnified because we're now moving into a new decade. With the pressure on, I find myself looking to things I've accomplished in the past for inspiration to being successful now. What prior success sticks out the most for me?

...going natural :-)

Now obviously, I've done things that carry more weight in the grand scheme of life than having natural hair, but I'm consistently inspired by my own natural hair journey particularly because there were clear, concrete steps I took to reach "hair success" that I often refer to when trying to accomplish something else. Going natural taught me to:

1. Beginning with the end in mind. Even though this bit of wisdom came from Yogi Bear, it's so true: "If you don't know where you're going, you might end up somewhere else!" I still vividly remember being 15 and seeing a full page picture in my Teen Magazine of this black model with the most beautiful, coily, kinky 'fro ever! I immediately tore the page out, ran downstairs to the kitchen, and frantically asked my mom one simple question—"Before I had a perm, do you think my hair texture looked like this?" Startled by both the randomness and the immediacy behind my inquiry, my mom answered with a puzzled, "Uh, yeah, I guess..." and the rest is history. That was all I needed and 6 years later, my hair is actually quite similar in texture and style to the picture that inspired me years ago. I had saw what my "success" would look before I even embarked on the journey, and I received confirmation that my "end" was in fact feasible. To accomplish anything in life, we have to know what the end looks like before we even start while never keeping our eyes off of the finish line

2. Research. Prior to going natural, I was a regular black girl with a standing, biweekly appointment at the local JCPenney hair salon. I would walk in with itchy, week old hair and walk out with the silkiest "wrap" a hoodied dryer and Motion's Foaming Set Lotion could provide. Needless to say, I didn't know much about my hair seeing as I rarely did it myself. Not one to be easily discouraged, however, it took all of maybe one month and an absurd number of hours spent in front of Google for me to become my own hair expert. Whether you're going natural or losing 50 pounds, research is crucial to meeting your goal successfully—you must become your own expert, as no one can reach your goal for you.

3. Identify and maximize your capabilities. Looking back on my natural hair care journey, I'm most proud of the fact that I did it with the meager resources I had as a 15 year old. I had school and a part-time job at the dry cleaners up the street, so under no circumstances could I afford (nor did I have the time) to see a stylist regularly, pay for elaborate sew-ins, or purchase expensive hair treatments just to transition out of my relaxer. What I could do as a 15 year old, however, was study natural hair in the same manner that I studied for school and perfect the art of "do-it-yourself" since I was young and able, which is exactly what I did. Sometimes we look at the things we cannot do and get discouraged about our goals when really, we should identify that things we can do and work the crap out of them.

4. Surround yourself with inspiration. Part of the reason I spent so much time in front of the computer was because the internet was really the only place I could see pictures and read inspiring stories about natural hair. Whether it's pictures torn from magazines, articles bookmarked online, or actual people in your life, you absolutely have to surround yourself with inspiration to remind you of why you're working towards your goal to begin with.

5. Follow through. To be honest, my natural hair journey wasn't too bad for about six months. For the most part, I treated my hair as if I were stretching a relaxer and kept it pressed. Then the summer came leaving my hair perpetually sweated out and stuff really hit the fan. I wanted to go back to a relaxer SO bad, but kept in mind how big of a waste all my work up to this point would be if I didn't stick it out. If you commit to achieving something, then really commit and follow through to the very end. If you quit working towards your goal at the first sign of trouble, then you'll never get anywhere.

6. Enjoy your success... I loved my hair when it was finally all natural and I still do to this day. I was so excited when first going natural that I wore it in all sorts of natural hair styles, showcasing all of my hard work. It's important to really bask in the end result of your hard work because, well, you earned it. Which brings me to...

7. ...Maintain your success... You have to consistently maintain and improve all that you've worked for. After 6 years of being natural, I sometimes find myself slipping into lazy practices, leaving my with hair that isn't as great as it was in my early natural days. What got you there will not keep you there... Success is a journey, not a destination.

8. ...Share your success. I went from knowing nothing about my hair to knowing enough to share that knowledge and help other people. Even now, when I get compliments on my hair, I feel most rewarded when I can use that as an opportunity to share what I've done and help someone else attain the success that I've reached. Ask anyone, they'll tell you that I ADORE when someone tells me that I was a big help in them going natural. In part, that's why I even have this blog—I love sharing my journey to help other people :-) Why even bother being successful if you're just going to keep it to yourself?

So what do you think, dear readers? Is there a particular accomplishment from your past that inspires you to be successful in the future?

Help a Chick Grow: How Do I Craft a Proposal for My Business Idea?

***Over the last few weeks, I've been totally honored by all of the comments and emails I've received from you all over the whole range of topics that I talk about here. With this post, I'm officially starting the "Help a Chick Grow" Series—if you have any questions or problems about hair, beauty, business, inspiration, style, spirituality, etc, etc, you can email me and I'll post them so that I, along with the other fellow Think & Grow Chick readers can help you out. Below you'll find the first of this series with a question from Kenyan reader, Clara:

Dear Think & Grow Chick,

I really like your writing. You are very goal oriented and focused.

I am 21, live in Kenya and I am in 3rd year of college and I am starting a business. I had an idea similar to the Lemon Bar. I want to hold an event related to fashion and makeup. I want to approach a fashion retailer and a makeup company, get women together, teach them how to dress, find their individual style and how to apply makeup.

I already have a makeup line willing to participate, I just need to get a fashion retailer. To do this, I need to write a proposal. Any ideas on what to write?

Have a great year,

Thank you so much for following my blog, Clara! It's great to know I have a subscriber all the way from Kenya!

As far as your business idea, I love your concept; especially the part about teaching your participants about personal style. This is really what you need to drive home when crafting a proposal for a possible retail sponsor.

First, brainstorm a few retailers (large and small) that already target the audience that you are targeting for your business. No sense in writing a proposal for Ann Taylor if none of the women attending your even like to shop there.

Secondly, find a simple sponsorship proposal template (you can type those three words right in to Google) to use as a guide for your proposal. I found one that might be of assistance to you here. Regardless of what template you use or how snazzy it looks, you'll want to make sure that you include:
  1. An overview/introduction to your event including why you are doing this and who your audience will be...
  2. Sponsorship packages you are offering (how much do they have to pay and what does it get them)...
  3. Deadlines/schedule up until the event, and...
  4. Contact information (including who they make the check out to!)

You'd be surprised how much support a well written proposal will get from various companies. My best advice is to research your audience, research the retailer, and research proposals. The point is to prove to the retailer that you have what they want (customers) and that sponsoring your event will bring them more business. If you can do that in a well-thought out proposal, then your golden!

Good Luck,
~The Think & Grow Chick


What say you, dear readers? I know many of you are some business savvy phenoms; leave your suggestions in the comments if you have some advice for Clara. Have a question yourself? The hit me up at twitter.com/thinkngrowchick or thinkandgrowchick [at] gmail [dot] com.

Respecting the Space Between the Rock and the Hard Place

I ran across BeautifulBrwnBabyDol on Youtube when looking for fitness tips and I have to say, I really love this chick. Besides posting her very inspiring weight loss journey (she lost a ridiculous amount of weight by just eating right and working out, sometimes only using workout DVDs!) she comes off as confident and as "a real black girl", as she so aptly puts it. The video that I posted above was particularly inspiring to me for some not so obvious reasons. I invite you to watch the entire video (but you can fast-forward to 6:29 if your pressed for time and just want to get to the core of what I'm talking about) then read on below.


Now I'm not an ex-fat girl as I've been tall and slim my entire life, but I think many of the things BeautifulBrwn speaks on are universally true, regardless of what kind of transformation you are embarking on. What she describes as "the journey" I call "the space between the rock and the hard place" and it's so important that you respect it for all the reasons BeautifulBrwn talks about.

As you all know, I am on a pretty daunting "get-out-of-debt-and-get-back-in-school" journey for 2010. I have to admit, this is a "down" point in my life and it is CRAZY how different people will treat you because you are not "up"! Where BeautifulBrwn has people vying for her attention now that she is fit and "skinny" but couldn't catch a break when she was "fat", I had people fawning over me left and right when I had a scholarship and was attending Howard University, but now that I'm in debt, waiting tables full time, and saving up to go to the local public university you would think I had leprosy or something! Even my own family is giving me the side eye because they're not sure I can really pull this off. But you know what? I'm alright because I know this is my journey, not my destination and I'm learning to love me for who I am and not any of the titles I carry—impressive or otherwise—at any given point in time.

More importantly, BeautifulBrwn hit it on the head when she says not to advertise your progress in a way that seeks validation from other people. As she puts it, "Pop up and be the hotness" and this is so true. When my school and finance issues first hit me, I felt like I had to put a disclaimer on my chest when meeting new people or telling old ones about my situation. Instead of just saying "I'm saving up for school right now" or telling people about the new university I plan on attending, I found myself still telling people I was a Howard student or avoiding the whole topic of school all together. I now see that all of the stammering, half-truths, and drawn out anecdotes were totally unnecessary because it doesn't matter what anyone thinks. No, I don't go to Howard anymore. So? Yes, I'm working to pay off some debts. And? Both God and I know what I'm doing is the right thing, and in a few short weeks this ordeal has fine tuned my character and helped me appreciate my faith, my opportunities and my life in ways that I was totally blind to when I was a "successful" yet arrogant and unappreciative person. Furthermore, sharing my story has helped me connect with and reach out to other young women who are going through the same thing. I couldn't ask for a better silver lining, but I might have missed it if I refused to respect my journey in the first place.

So how can you respect the space between your rock and hard place?

1. Don't be in such a rush to "get there". Making a true, long-lasting change in your life is a transformative thing, which means a process is involved. You cannot make progress if you ignore the process. For instance, if your going natural, commit to the several months it will take you to grow out that 'fro, and love yourself on the good and bad days. I can't tell you how many women run back to a relaxer because they weren't committed to the entire process of going natural–ugly hair days and all.

2. Recognize that it's lonely at the top. BeautifulBrwn pretty much described this throughout her entire video, but it's worth repeating: not everyone is going to be happy about your transformation. You may have to drop some people and make new friends. This is okay, because a better you demands some better company. In the words of Will Smith, "You can often project your success in life by looking at the top 5 people you spend most of your time with. If you don't want to be those people, you know what to do..."

3. Never forget where you came from. This is so important! In reality, staying grounded in your journey and not basing your self-esteem on your success after the fact will save you if, God forbid, you face another hardship. We hear all the time that you shouldn't care what others think about you, but this goes both ways; you should be unaffected by both the hate and the praise you receive externally. This was the hardest thing for me to deal with; all my life I was great at ignoring negative feedback, but I swung to the opposite extreme and wrapped my confidence in my success and the adoration I received from my family, friends, teachers, acquaintances, strangers, etc. When all of that stopped, I didn't know what to do with myself! I had totally forgotten where I came from, but now I will always remember.

So that's all I got, beloved readers. How are you respecting the space between the rock and the hard place? How are you growing on your journey? Share your thoughts via the comments, or email me at thinkandgrowchick [at] gmail [dot] com.