Keys to Success: What NOT To Do!

Today’s blog is a bit humorous with a touch of motherly advice.

Often I have people ask me what is the key to my success in starting my own business. Well I don’t think I found the key to success (yet) but I think I have a lot of experience with what NOT to do. As they say, we learn from our mistakes. An anonymous author once said, “Mistakes are proof that you’re trying”. So we’ll go with that. I wasn’t making mistakes, I was trying.

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If only I’d known then what I know now.

I will give you some of my ideas on how to overcome roadblocks to success as they are inevitable. Roadblocks are part of life. We need to embrace the roadblocks but it’s also a good idea to learn from the mistakes of others. So, here is my list of DONT’S.

1. DON’T run with your great idea without advisors!

Often our great ideas are wrapped in emotions and because of this; we need a few good people to speak into our life. People we trust to tell us, “Hey, that’s a great idea go for it.”  Or to say “I think you may need to slow down on that one and get a better plan before losing your shirt over it.” Having said that, I am not implying that every opinion counts, but the opinions of those people who really care about us and are sincerely looking out for our best interests need to be valued and weighed in our decision to start something new.

2. DON’T forget to take advantage of the resources available in your community.

Your community is likely bursting with resources you don’t even know are there. I guarantee there are professionals in your area who have made a career out of helping others find their own dream. Having access to these career builders is a wonderful privilege. One big way to be able to organize your dreams and ideas is not only finding these resource centres, but also taking full advantage of the services they offer. If I had only taken advantage of the business resource centre in my town a lot of the financial mistakes, ones that I am still paying for  today, would have  never happened.  If only I would have taken a step back and asked more questions and sought more guidance on my BIG DREAM it could have been a much smoother ride.

3. DON’T be an island.

You need to get comfortable with asking for help!

You can find inspiration from people who are already been in the business you want to enter. Seek out mentors who are willing to guide you as you start up. Hear and share stories in order to learn how to avoid some of the setbacks that can happen while starting and running your own business. Once again, if I would l have taken my own advice I would not have used all of my own money to fund many of my start-up projects. Had I sought the advice of professionals or found a mentor they would have directed me to places where I could have found available funding to offset my start-up costs.

I could have avoided some of those roadblocks. Some of which I created myself by trying to do everything on my own and eventually suffering miserably from my own lack of knowledge.

We live in a day and age where there are so many resources available to us. There are grants and special funding from various sources that are readily available to help launch our ideas from dream to reality.  It may take a bit of work to find the help and resources we need. But if we are willing to search and dig for it the resources are out there. DON’T be afraid to ask for help!  In my experience, most people are excited to help, but they won’t know how to help unless you ask.

4. DON’T be afraid of rejection!

Rejection helps us look deeper into our career, our dreams, our plans and our goals to find out what needs to be fixed; rejection helps us be able to get tougher skin to be able to know what to listen to, what to embrace, and what to let go of. Rejection is a part of life so we just need to get through it and get over it!

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Twelve years ago this was just a dream. Now it’s my reality.

5. Don’t Rush!

No matter how hard you work, building a dream will take time. Your career is precious and it’s something that you want to last for a long time, so make sure you work just as hard even when it looks like it’s not working. I’ve been speaking to, and entertaining children for over 12 years and I usually say it took about 10 years to be taken seriously. All good things take time.

6. DON’T forget to call your Mama!

Remember to keep in touch with your family and friends. When we are goal oriented sometimes we lose sight of the people that keep us going. Unfortunately, with my work schedule and working hard to pursue my dreams, I have lost some contact with my family and friends. I regret losing some of those connections with loved ones that I would have kept if I would have just taken a little more time to talk to them; a little more time to say hello. I fear that I have lost so many precious moments with people in pursuit of my dreams. Now I have to work harder to rebuild those relationships. Thank goodness that I have always put my immediate family first, but I’ve found that I’ve taken extended family and friends and put them on the side burner; partly because I think they don’t really want to hear about my dreams and goals all the time and partly because I don’t have time.

We should never lose sight of our friendships so I am endeavoring to do my best to rebuild those relationships. To reconnect with those individuals who really do mean the world to me. If you make the effort to stay in contact with those people now you won’t have to expend more energy reconstructing down the road.

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Friends make the journey worthwhile.

7. DON’T forget about YOU!

Make sure to block off some time to just be you. One of the biggest mistakes I have made in my 12 years of pursuing my dream and building my career is that I have forgotten how to enjoy relaxing without thinking about work. I need to find myself again. To find out who I am. To rediscover what makes me tick.  I love watching old movies. I have a collection of more than 800 classic movies, spanning 6 decades, some from the early 1930s. Watching those films, savouring the stories, the music and the dancing rejuvenates me! Don’t lose sight of the things that make you really happy. Be sure to block off some time to enjoy you.

8. DON’T stop laughing!

Laugh!

Laugh at yourself. Laugh at your mistakes. Rejoice in your accomplishments.

Find the joy in your work! When you laugh, you stir up more creativity. Don’t take yourself so seriously! When you take yourself seriously you’re going to block your creativity. When you block your creativity, you are unable to see how you can improve in your career. But when you laugh you’re going to stir up something in you that will help you to continue to press forward.

My last bit of advice – you have great ideas so GO FOR IT!

Life is about taking risks, but it’s also about community – take advice, seek help and soak up encouragement from those around you.

Work hard! Play stronger!

Live. Dream. Give. Live. Dream. Grow!

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No Judgement. Just Love.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Ask any parent, at any time throughout history, who has been judged for how they parent and they will debate that statement. Words break hearts. Words cause doubt. Words hurt.

The definition of what a parent is and what a parent does are two different things:

Parent
noun par·ent \ˈper-ənt\

  • : a person who is a father or mother : a person who has a child
  • : an animal or plant that produces a young animal or plant
  • : something out of which another thing has developed

Parent
verb par·ent

1.       transitive verb
  1. : to be or act as the parent of :  originate, produce
3.       intransitive verb
  1. : to be or act as a parent

Definition from Merriam-Webster

The value of how much a parent loves and cares about their children should not be determined by how many hours that parent chooses to give to their work or craft, but rather by how much love they give from the heart.

I have always been driven to be involved in my community. I have always enjoyed taking on different roles and participating in various activities in the community, but I also knew I wanted to be a mom.

At first I thought I would be perfectly comfortable being a stay-at-home parent and not pursuing my career, and for the first two years I was. But I slowly found myself wanting to get back into teaching and entertaining large groups of children.

I would regularly take my daughter, then an adorable toddler, to a local drop-in center for parents where she could play with other children. It was also a time for parents, including me, to get a break from the monotonous routine of being at home. But my desire to work with children eventually kicked in and I started organizing Circle Time activities for all the children who visited the centre; the very place where I came to get a break.

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She’s not so little anymore, but she’ll always be mine.

When we moved to our first house I loved playing outside in the backyard with my growing three-year-old, but soon that desire to entertain children bubbled up.  Eventually I was organizing backyard activities and games for all the neighborhood children. I mean, I even advertised with flyers and phone calls to the neighbours; going so far as to call mothers of my daughter’s friends who lived outside my neighborhood to join in on the fun. We played games like at day camp and had prizes like a game show.  Planning and hosting these activities filled my days and my weeks.

With my daughter by my side I enjoyed seeing the smiles on people’s faces, especially hers.  But one day that changed. A person, who was close to me and whose opinion I valued, asked me, “Why are you out trying to save the world while your daughter is out of control?”

You see, my daughter is just as high-energy and as spirited as her mother, and having two people with the same personality in the same house often made parenting quite the challenge. My daughter has always been herself, and I have never had the desire to break her spirit or make her conform. But because she was not as obedient or as soft spoken as my critic thought she should be, my enthusiasm to work my gift and fulfill the desires of my heart (entertaining children) was being questioned. I was being weighed. I was being measured and I had been found wanting.  This person had decided, had judged, that I was not parenting my child properly – that I was not being an “available parent”.

Allowing the opinions of others to affect me is one of my weaknesses.  This weakness only increased when I made the daring decision to reboot my idea of being a hip hop artist. My second child had just turned two when I began to build my dream and I was asked repeatedly, “Saidat, do you think ‘now’ is a good time to pursue this career?”

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The years have flown by since my “little” guy was a lovable two-year-old.

Unfortunately, I did not have a clear answer to give these well-meaning inquisitors. I really didn’t understand the drive within me; the unquenchable desire to have a music career and to work with children. I still don’t understand why I thought being a mother of two young children would be a great time to start a project that would take more time and require a deep commitment; but I did know that my two children would always be my first audience – my priority.

Many of the ideas for my work evolved because of the cute things they would say or do or challenges they would face. But the more my career grew, and the busier I became with practicing my craft and performing in the community, the more the judgments grew. It got to the point that someone, who meant a lot to me, told me that they were not supportive of my career or my dreams.

Although I continued to struggle with the judgements of my critics, and by what others thought of me, I persevered. For whatever reason, I did not let it stop me from making this career all that I dreamed it could be. But inside I was deeply affected by their words.

I have met thousands of children over my 12-year career but I know of two teenagers who are still my first audience, and always will be. My beautiful babies, they will forever be my babies, are the first people to see the shows I create for thousands of children nationwide. They are still my inspiration.

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No judgement. Just love.

Some of my critics have changed their opinions of my work and my parenting. They have witnessed the amazing results that come from my shows and my parenting style, but still, from time to time, I get the odd comment like:

“You don’t spend enough time with your children.”

“I never see pictures of your family online as much as I see your career pictures.”

Now, mind you, some critics out there are coming from a sincerely concerned and genuine mindset, while some just enjoy being opinionated. But no matter what, I believe all parents should always remember these four thoughts:

1.Every family has their own path and no two families will look alike in how they live and love one another.

2. Quality time is more important than the minutes that tick by each day.

3. If you know in your heart that your family is OK with your schedule it doesn’t matter what others think. Make sure you check with your children from time to time to ensure things are still working for your family. If you need to reschedule or reorganize, then do so, but not strictly based on the opinions of those outside your immediate family.

4. Your kids are growing and learning along with you. With your family as your #1 supporter you are all learning to do what makes you happy. And your children are learning that their dreams matter and can come true.

Stay-at-home parents: You are amazing!

Working parents: You are amazing!

Any family that does what they can to help each other find their calling and make this world a better place is doing the right thing.

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My family. My #1 supporters. There is no Saidat Show without them.

Remember the cycle:

Live. Dream. Give. Live. Dream. Grow

Building the Dream

You are not alone in your dreams.

This is a statement I have come to realize is true as I look at the amazing dream I’m living after 25 years of wondering if it would ever happen. As a high school student my greatest joy was teaching young kids in a small church. I spent my allowance and hard earned money to buy snacks and craft supplies. I poured my efforts into coming up with creative crafts and producing good entertainment for young people every Sunday morning. I was driven to provide the children I taught with an amazing weekly experience.

This did not stop when I left high school and moved on to university. There I found a public school, which was willing to take me in as a volunteer to help tutor students during class time. With every student I tried to find ways to connect with them – whether it was a smile, a song or a tangible item that meant something to them. I wanted to let them know they mattered.

Even then I knew my mission and my gift to the world was to work with children. My idea was to graduate University, go into the field of journalism and eventually work my way up to hosting my own talk show for kids. But dreams do not come without detours.

I did not graduate university.

I did not work in journalism.

But neither did I give up on my dream of working with, and for, children.

Down all the roads that have led me to my path, there have been many people who have helped my dream to materialize.

My first inspiration was my mother. As I was growing up I watched her give her time, her talent and her energy to entertain young people in our community. She is a gifted storyteller, capturing her audience in a way that makes them want to listen for hours.

So many difference-makers have made it possible for me to have the amazing privilege to work with over two thousand students a week – the music teacher who pushed me to develop my voice with songs that did not interest me but helped me learn to work with others; my beautiful life partner and children who are the greatest example of how a family working together can help a dream materialize; my late husband; community leaders both secular and in the church; friends; neighbours; and countless other amazing individuals who have provided support, encouragement, motivation and hugs.

And this is my dream – to go across North America, and possibly the world, with an amazing, traveling talk show. I dream of inspiring students to believe that One Person Can Make a Difference Together We Can Change the World.

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Living the dream.

For the past 12 years I’ve had the awesome privilege to use music, dance, and drama to bring about a message of hope to over half a million young people. But I can’t say I’ve done this on my own. I have only been able to accomplish this with the help and support of others. All the people who have inspired me to take the steps possible to make this dream of mine happen.

This show, my show, has been a dream of mine since high school. I made it my goal to finish university, work in journalism and eventually have my own talk show. But not just any talk – a talk show would be especially designed for kids. And 25 years later, yes 25 years later, I am living my dream. Not only do I have the honour of hosting a community talk show for kids on television (thank you Rogers for seeing that vision and giving it your support) but I also have a daily, traveling talk show for students. I am blessed with the opportunity to go into the community and provide young people with a time where they can come together to have fun, learn life lessons and build self-worth.

This dream has not come without the blood, sweat, and tears of the many people who have supported me along the way. So, how do you thank all the people who help make your dreams possible? By continuing to live your dreams and encourage others to do the same.
Sometimes we forget exactly how many people it takes to see our personal dreams materialize. Never forget to thank them when you remember.

The phrase “pay it forward” is not a meaningless cliché. It means that we are moving each other towards success. Whether you are just starting to get an idea of what your life’s work will be, struggling to make it happen, or living the dream never forget to thank all the people who have helped you, and will help you, take the steps to success. You are amazing.

Remember the cycle:

Live. Dream. Give. Live. Dream. Grow.

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The Saidat Show – My dream. My reality.