Astronaut Scott Kelly Inspires

Once again I am inspired from space – or at least by someone who has spent considerable time in space.

This time the inspiration came from U.S. astronaut Captain Scott Kelly, who spent 340 consecutive days aboard the International Space Station. He is a former military fighter pilot, test pilot, engineer, and a retired US. Navy captain.

20190302_173744He spoke at the Richmond Forum, which is a great venue for hearing wise advice or being inspired.

Of his year in space, Kelly said —

Have a goal and plan.

Take risks.

Be willing to make mistakes, and even fail.

Focus on what you can control, ignore what you can’t.

His ultimate lesson, “The sky is not the limit.”

Sound advice.

Content Calendar Keeps Writing on Track

When I fall behind in my blog posts, it’s because of one of two reasons. I either haven’t 20180309_114308carved out time for research and writing or I haven’t paid attention to my content calendar. Okay, sometimes it’s both reasons.

How to create a content calendar

You could do it the traditional way and post all the months to a wall and then put pushpins on the days to identify when content needs to be shared. Pushpin colors would differentiate the platforms. The same process works online, although there are no pushpins. All you need to do is search for a template that will suit your needs.

For this blog, I list in a Word document all the dates I plan to post for an entire year. I then note if there are events or conferences I plan to attend that could generate content. I also identify any significant celebrations or anniversaries such as Women’s History Month.

Driving traffic

Driving traffic to the posts is important. I’ve linked all of my social media accounts to the blog, which ensures promotion across platforms.

I also have a separate content calendar for Twitter. For each blog post I write 3-5 tweets with a link to the post and sprinkle those throughout the month in which the post appeared. I note on my Twitter content calendar what the day’s tweet will be. I’m also tweeting organically on any given day. Maintaining a content calendar specific to my posts ensures that I will tweet regularly.

Time blocks

Research, writing and posting is a lot of work, but you don’t have to do it every day. I work on my blog in time blocks, meaning I devote three to four hours to the blog on a specific day. During that time, I identify potential topics, research topics, write draft copy, and finalize draft posts. I then schedule the ones that are ready. Next I review my posts and write the appropriate tweets.

The blog posts and tweets are added to the respective calendars. I can identify any holes where content is missing. If I have managed to schedule further out, I know I have given myself some breathing room. When that happens, I find I develop more ideas because I’m feeling less pressured – and less stressed.

Ultimately, that’s the beauty of a content calendar.

Optimism Inflates Dreams

One of the perks of speaking at a conference is the opportunity to hear the other speakers and to be inspired by them.

That happened to me recently when I heard Jess Ekstrom talk about her career and Headbands of Hope. I wasn’t familiar with her or the company, but I quickly did some research. Not only does she inspire, she makes a difference.20181108_083248

Her talk reminded me of my friend Julie Campbell, who once spoke about “How Not to Write a Book.” Ekstrom gave similar advice on starting a business. She shared all the mistakes she made, but in a way that inspired. Her main takeaway was to never stop going after your dreams.

Ekstrom is the founder and CEO of Headbands of Hope. She also is an award-winning speaker, author and writer. She has been featured on Good Morning America, the Today show and TEDx and in Forbes, Vanity Fair, Seventeen and TeenVogue.

Her dreams started at a young age. As a child she wanted to be published in one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She submitted dozens of pieces and received almost as many rejections. But then one was accepted.

When asked about the experience she conceded that she only ever spoke about the acceptance. “As kids we’re not focused on failures,” she told the 2018 CREW Leadership Summit in Richmond, Virginia.

In college after interning for a wish-granting organization, she noticed many children wearing headbands after losing their hair to chemotherapy. No one was providing those accessories so Ekstrom created Headbands of Hope. For everyone purchased, one is given to a child with cancer.

Her business almost didn’t exist. Few believed in her idea, and even fewer offered financial support. She kept trying and overcoming obstacles. When she finally found a manufacturer that would produce the headbands, her father loaned her the capital. And then the manufacturer disappeared with her money.

Ekstrom was devasted. But she was determined to not only launch the business but also to repay her father. “You can’t hide from the tough moments,” she said. “You have to use them as the reason to do more.”

Today the brand is carried in thousands of stores. More importantly, the brand has donated headbands to every children’s hospital in America and 15 countries, according to the website.

It wasn’t an easy journey, but Ekstrom noted that was okay. “There will always be another way to there, to get to the end point,” she said. Sometimes there will be messes and detours, and she encouraged the audience to find their way around.

It’s important to navigate the rocky road. “You have to believe that you can be the one to do it,” she said. “Failures are a reflection of growth and change.”Ekstrom

That also means not listening to the negative voices in your head or the naysayers. “Don’t give other people the steering wheel to the voice in your head,” she said. “We have to be able to control the voice in our head.”

With childlike optimism, Ekstrom said, comes confidence and success. Perhaps we all need to be a bit more childlike when it comes to our dreams.