I was at the local Subway and the worker tells me, "It's amazing how many Meatball sandwiches we sell now".

Subway is running a promotion till Dec 22. The offer promotes three sandwiches, Cold Trio, Veggie Delight, and Meatballs for $1.99 each.

Then the worker explains to me, "We never sold Meatballs. Nobody bought them and it was a dying breed."

The Backend Promotion Promotes Long Term Profit

Now that the price is set at $1.99, the real question is, "How is Subway going to profit from this?"

The answer is in the backend. As long as Subway profits X amount of dollars in extra from every $1.99 customer, they will stay in profit through its backend revenue. 

The chips, the fountain drinks, a foot-long, and more takeouts… Subway will cover the cost from each $1.99 sale and make profit through upsells.

The small profit though, is not something every small business is willing to risk. That's because most businesses do not have any backend sales funnel built to ensure that greater profit comes from repeat customers.

Let's face it, most businesses hope and pray that their customers return to them when it's time to buy their products and services again.

Ain't going to happen. 

At least not so easily. But let's discuss how you can bring back customers by employing smart online tactics.

Frontend Tactics

What are some things you can do to bring the customer to come to you in the first place? Let's explore what you can do in the frontend in order to sell through backend. 

1. Capturing Their Email Address In Exchange for Something FREE

Instead of merely running a promotion that targets anyone, reward the customer with generous offers in exchange to their email addresses.

So, the first offer promotes valuable frontend products/services. This can be free or low price.

Then add bonus to those who would give their contact/email information. 

Once you get people to sign up, use Auto Responder service for future mailing with option to unsubscribe from your offers. Once you do this, your advertising cost to the database becomes zero. Send generous promotions so the word spreads to get their peers to sign up. 

2. Use "Secret Code" Via Twitter 

Using Twitter, you can reveal secret codes to be redeemed for discount. The catch is, they must be following you on Twitter to always know when you change the code. If you change this frequently, the foodies with blogs spread buzz for you and it will create viral effect. 

3. Give Out Secret Recipes 

On your website, give out a recipe if a visitor gives up their email information. Now that they are on your mailing list, they raised their hands saying they are interested in your business. Variation of this can be employed for any business and not just restaurants.

4. Show Instructional Videos

Video yourself cooking a meal, teach your customers how to cook if you're a restaurant owner, or demonstrate how to take care of yards if you're a landscaping company. Many people watch it and will call you as a result. 

5. Invite Boy Scouts

Boys have to earn merit badges. In fact, they're always looking for special presenter who can demonstrate what you do as an adult. Get invited to teach boys what's like to do what you do in your business. Boys can share stories about you while you're helping them. 

Okay, I just gave out five easy frontend promotion tips. The next step is to build a system that follows up with customers on autopilot. 

Lead Capture System That Follows Up on Autopilot

Get Auto Responder

I personally use Aweber for this. Using auto responder system, you can send broadcast emails about any future promotion. 

Suppose you're in retail, throughout the year, you can almost run promotions every month. Feb – Valentines, Mar – St Patrick's Day, Apr – Tax Season, Aug – Back to School, Sep – Labor Day etc. You get the idea. All you do is come up with more excuses to run promo. 

You will need a lead capture system that signs up your customer automatically. Call the credit card processing company to change "THANK YOU" message on your receipts to "SIGN UP FOR FREE _____ " at your URL so every customer walks in goes home with a call to action. 

Develop Email Campaigns 

If you don't think you have time to do any of these, look for local PR firms. They will help you craft marketing messages and develop ad copy. This becomes the backbone for your backend system. 

Driving Traffic

Look – I can show you many ways to generate traffic. But we're going to keep this section simple.

In the beginning, you will use four traffic generation methods.

1. Google Places. If you have physical presence, this is a must. Sign up for Google Places and get your listing to show up on Google Maps. 

2. Offer to write expert articles. There are many publications you can find locally that lets you write advertorial type articles and link it back to your website. Get featured in these and direct every reader back to your website. This can be done online like I do if you use sites such as www.ezinearticles.com

3. Submit Press Release. I recommend you hire a PR firm to write this. Any decent releases can be created for a few hundred bucks. Do this at least once a month.

4. Submit the articles you created in Step 2 for YouTube. You can have someone create a short, 3 min video based on the article you wrote in Step 2. Upload it to YouTube and send traffic to your website.

5. Use Yahoo Answers and link from source. You can create an account at Yahoo Answers and lets you answer questions pertains to your industry and hopefully you get people visiting your website. You can outsource this task. The trick is to look for open questions and offer helpful advice and leave your URL at the "source" section. 

These methods will generate traffic up and running for any website. I recommend outsourcing most of these tasks if possible. 

Outsourcing Everything

Once you developed an effective system, you can hire someone in the 3rd world to do this for you. They are called Virtual Assistants or VA. Plenty of VA companies from India and Philippines can be hired for a few hundred dollars a month doing this full-time.

The most important task being you create a system that follows up on customers on autopilot. To do this, you'll need…

  1. Auto Responder system
  2. Follow up emails
  3. Lead capture page

and that's it for today. I could write more, but since this article mentions timely events, I am going to hit "post". 

Please leave comments if you have feedback to this post! 

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iL Vinaio, Mesa AZiL Vinaio of Mesa, AZ

Today’s Small Business Interview features our local Downtown Mesa restaurant owner, Cameron Selogie. iL Vinaio is an American Wine Bistro with Mediterranean influence, serving Traditional American Home-Style Breakfasts and Lunches, open all 3 meals, 7 days a week. See menu

Cameron and I connected over at Twitter in the beginning. As a baseball fan, I quickly became facsinated when he told me how “Chicago Cub’s Minor Leaguers eat breakfast every morning”.

Next time you’re in Downtown, stop by iL Vinaio or call for reservation at 480-649-6476.

Cameron – tell me a little bit about your restaurant. 

  • We are one of the few independent, family owned and operated, large format, full-service restaurants around and the only full service restaurant open all 3 meals, 7 days per week, in Downtown Mesa.

Any entertainment your guests can expect during the week?

  • We host regular weekly live jazz jams as well as other regular live entertainment in a “concert-hall”-like open dining room (3400 sq feet).

I love jazz, it sounds like an entertaining place.  How about your drink selection or food?  Tell me a little please.

  • We sell wine, retail, at a significant discount and carry over 100 different small production, boutique wines. We pour 40 by the glass! Our executive chef, Patrick Boll, executive chef of a James Beard Award winning Team, also nominated 5 times does his magic to offer extraordinary cuisine at every-day prices and in a casually elegant atmosphere where guests are comfortable – you can visit us dressed formal or in shorts & tees. 

So would you say your restaurant is casual to semi-casual?

  • Yes – We have four unique and distinct areas in the restaurant: Semi-Private Dining Room seating up to 40, A wine-bottle shaped bar, A family style extended bar area with huge bar-height tables seating 8 each, and a casual, romantic area featuring four sofa tables that are especially popular on date night.

I heard you’re into art.  Tell me about how that’s reflecting in your restaurant.

  • il Vinaio is known not only for the art on the walls, but the walls are the art. We feature a larger than life Original Jimi Hendrix Oil Painting painted from Woodstock, Tuscan Art from Winemaker Kenneth Schilling, Original Oils from Jazz artist Sharon Aebi, as well as photos of our “family” of guests, and a unique cork board made out of 2200 wine corks, in-laid with black wine corks spelling our name. We also have a blue-lit soffet, hand painted with eleven wine proverbs. The restaurant also features 70 original Sunflower Stained Glass windows. In a world of ultra-modern, hi-tech restaurants, il Vinaio has a truly unique “old world” Tuscan Style.

Great – what’s something unique about your restaurant?

  • The most unique thing though is being in the heart of Historic Downtown Mesa which is absolutely unique in all the world for what can be done in one day on foot: Park and come in for breakfast, walk to a used bookstore or historic artifact store, get your hair or nails done, go to a nationally acclaimed youth museum, have a wonderful lunch, see a professional baseball game, shop at boutiques, buy some hand rolled (by a Cuban) cigars, go to another acclaimed museum, have an early dinner, go to a live show in a $100 million Art Center, go out for a glass of wine and dancing to live music and then top off the evening in an after hours club, then walk back to your car or stay in the hotel next door. Beat that! Now how boring is Mesa? Soon all of Phoenix can get here by light rail as well.  Also, anyone can come in and dine with the Chicago Cubs Minor League players who we feed breakfast every morning. We even feed their rookie league team March through October.
  • Now with all this said there are dozens of very unique ties this restaurant has to old stories in the Tora, Koran, and Bible as well as to the infamous Arizona Project and car bombing of reporter Don Bolles….for another day…

Cameron, now that you started, you need to tell us more about those stories.

One interesting design feature of our building is the use of stained glass “sunflowers”. I may be giving you too much information for now but here goes:

  • Our Stained Glass Sunflowers have been an icon of Downtown Mesa since the early 1970’s.
  • There are exactly 70 of these works of art gracing our walls.
  • 70 degrees Farenheit is the ideal fermenting temperature of yeast when making wine.
  • According to St. Augustin the number 70 is symbolic of the totality of an evolution, an evolutionary cycle being completely completed.
  • SEVENTY: is another combination of two of the perfect numbers, 7 and 10 and signifies perfect spiritual order carried out with all spiritual power and significance.
  • There were 70 nations before the Tower of Babel. [Genesis 10:1-32
  • 70 men built up the nation of Israel when Israel first entered Egypt. [Genesis 46:27]
  • 70 elders met God on Sinai and ate a sacred meal. [Exodus 24:9-10]
  • 70 elders of Israel comprised the Sanhedrin (court of law).
  • Jesus chose 70 disciples [Luke 10:1
  • There are two levels of sunflower windows. 33 on the top and 37 on the bottom.
  • Leah and Rachel are sisters told in the Bible to be the mothers of humanity. They had 70 children between them and their handmaidens. Leah had 33 the others 37.
  • Our second level of windows was unveiled in 2009, a vision not seen in decades. Our grand reopening was the completion of an evolutionary cycle where downtown Mesa was reborn into one of the great cultural centers of the West.
  • With the Beautiful Mesa Arts Center, and the opening of the Mesa Light Rail, Il Vinaio will help complete the evolution of Downtown Mesa into a Mecca for millions.
  • Sunflowers originated in Southwestern North America over 5000 years ago and now are spread throughout the world.
  • The Sunflower forever follows the path of the sun in the sky.
  • In the language of Floriography, Sunflowers symbolize loyalty and wishes. Loyalty to our Customers and our Downtown Community and Wishes for a Promising future.
  • The Sunflower also symbolizes power, warmth and nourishment…like our hearty breakfasts!
  • Sunflowers are a simple miracle. They grow from a seed. They rise from the earth. They are natural. They are bright and beautiful. They bring a smile to one’s face. They produce seeds that are nutritious, and from these seeds oil is produced. Native Americans once used parts of the sunflower plant to treat rattlesnake bites, and sunflower meal to make bread.
  • Sunflowers were even used near Chernobyl to extract radioactive material from contaminated ponds following the catastrophic nuclear reactor accident there.
  • Sunflowers have become a symbol of a world free of nuclear weapons. On June 1, 1996, Ukraine transferred the last its 1900 nuclear warheads to Russia to be dismantled. Celebrating the occasion a few days later, the Defense Ministers of Ukraine, Russia, and the United States met at a former nuclear missile base in the Ukraine that once housed 80 nuclear missiles aimed at the United States.  
  • The three Defense Ministers planted sunflowers and scattered sunflower seeds. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said, “With the completion of our task, Ukraine has demonstrated its support of a nuclear weapons free world.” He called on other nations to follow in Ukraine’s path and “to do everything to wipe nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth as soon as possible. “U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry said, “Sunflowers instead of missiles in the soil would ensure peace for future generations.”
  • Now with all that said regarding Don Bolles and the Arizona Project, you can Google book “the Arizona Project” that talks about Herb Applegate’s connection to the murder of Don Bolles. Herb Applegate was a restaurateur who owned the Humpty Dumpty’s and Hobo Joe’s chains of restaurants in Arizona and Nevada.
  • Our building is one of three in the Valley that was built as a Humpty Dumpty’s. The book excerpt discusses the “sex house” that Applegate gate had just a block and a half from the restaurant, and the ultimate murder of a repo man who came to Mesa to repossess Applegate’s girlfriend’s car.
  • Applegate supposedly had ties to possible corruption with Barry Goldwater. Interestingly enough the office in our building is all concrete block with a double thick steel door…odd for a restaurant…and we have a huge jewel safe that may hold further secrets…we’ve had safecrackers and locksmiths out who say it is unpickable…..

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Cameron Selogie is a restaurateur in Arizona and with his wife Cindy is owner of il Vinaio Restaurant in Historic Downtown Mesa www.ilvinaio.com. Fine Wines, Craft Beers and Gourmet Food have always been a passion of Cameron’s and he loves the art of pairing wines and beers with foods to make magic. With a focus on fun, creativity and Customer Service he is building a reputation for the unusual. You can connect with him on twitter @ilvinao and Facebook as well.

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I know, it’s been almost 4 months since my last post. I have an excuse – I had my third child born to us recently and just graduated from grad school two weeks ago. I have been busy!

I am back and thanks for reading.

…..

Did you know one of the best ways to reach your customers locally is getting involved in Social Media? With smartphones and broadband internet connecting people ever so closely today, you are going to get a little behind if you are not already using Social Media to represent your business.

Are your customers on Facebook?

Initially, you might wonder which Social Media platform you should use to best leverage your time spent communicating.

The best platform is whichever the medium your customers are currently using. So for example, if you find most of your customers using Facebook, then you should start creating a Fan Page about your business on Facebook.

Don’t know what to say?

To keep conversations fluid, it’s important to update your page with information that interests your customers. Many businesses make the mistake of only sending promotional messages. However, instead of seeing Social Media as the potential market, it’s important to treat it as a community where you contribute for the benefit of those who belong in your network.

What should you contribute?

This depends on how well you really know your customers. If you’re a professional, you should understand their pains, the language they use to describe their problems, which products and services they have used in the past. If you’re able to identify these issues, your customers will feel that you understand them. And if they feel your business is the ONLY viable option when it comes to their problems, you just successfully differentiated your business from all others your customers have dealt in the past. Now it will be up to you to continue keeping their patronage.

Should you hire a PR person?

You could, but I would recommend against outsourcing this task to third party 100%. But, I also should mention that PR firms are tired of business owners not listening to their suggestions, and if you are going to allow third party to get involved in your communication with customers, pay them good money and get them craft a strategic proposal just for your Social Media campaigns. Get a few recommendations before hiring anyone and trust their ability to improve your business.

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer

Log on to Facebook and start looking up at least 3-5 Fan Pages of your competitors. 1) Observe how they are communicating with their customers, 2) pay attention to areas currently underserving their customers. Once you have gathered ideas to improve, 3) build your Fan Page illustrating that your business could fulfill the needs.

CHECKLIST:

Let’s go over this post together again.

  1. Find out what medium your customers are using most – mostly likely Facebook
  2. Get to know your customers’ needs, pains, problems and hot buttons
  3. Look for 3-5 Fan Pages of your competitors and look for areas you could improve
  4. Build your Fan Page with items “currently missing” among your competitors
  5. Articulate your benefits to your customers by serving the network you belong

I promise you by following these steps, your customer loyalty will increase. The goal is to make your Social Media presence worthy for your customers to spread news about you. If you’re passionate about your business and if what you do truly speaks to your customers, they will bring people to your Fan Page.

Hope you liked this post and please leave a comment!

Tak :)

P.S – no I am not currently available for hire

P.S.S – well, if you’re a non-profit, I might do consultation for you at no charge

Photocredit

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Today, I interviewed Shannon Noack, who is the Creative Director of Snoack Studios, Maricopa based designer, successful blogger and small business owner. Shannon has great passion for designing, and I was fortunate enough to pick her brain on this topic. Shannon’s ability to network with other business owners generate referrals and repeat businesses, let’s hear what she must say!

Shannon, tell us a little bit about yourself – who are you? How long have you had your business in AZ?

I’m a 26 year old Arizona native, and I am a designer with my own company, Snoack Studios. I just started the studio in 2009 and am enjoying owning my own business and working for myself. I’ve been designing for about 8 years now, and I believe I will always do some form of design for my profession. I’m an avid writer and blogger as well and have had several articles published on popular design blogs. I also run my own blog at http://blog.snoackstudios.com where I talk mostly about design-related things as well as some freelancing, marketing, and internet stuff.

Great to be able to do business with an AZ native. You mentioned that you have had several articles published on popular design blogs.  In fact, that’s how I found you.  Tell me what kind of approach you took to get your articles published on blogs?  Did you know anyone who worked for the blog?

I started blogging for others by chance actually. Jacob from Six Revisions tweeted that he was hiring more writers for his blog and I thought it would be fun so I followed up with him and started writing for Six Revisions. After a few posts came out on Six Revisions I was contacted by other blogs to write for them as well. I enjoy writing and designing is my true passion, so writing about design-related stuff is enjoyable for me.

Wow, so networking with others using Twitter certainly helped you initially. Did you know him other than Twitter or only through following each other on Twitter?  Also, what kind of tweets do you generate?

Yes, I think networking on twitter is quite a valuable resource! I’ve found fellow designers to work with, clients that are in need of design services, etc. It’s been a very valuable tool for me professionally. I didn’t know Jacob or any of the people I write posts for outside of our initial twitter connection. I usually tweet about design-related material like design blogs I’ve found interesting, new sites that I like, and cool design resources. But sometimes I’ll tweet about other stuff that I find interesting like freelancing, small business, and marketing stuff. I love that twitter allows you to make connections though, and I’ve found responding to tweets, requests or questions from others to be beneficial in building relationships.

So, you mentioned “building relationships”, and I assume you’re mostly connected with people online. With the emergence of Social Media, and other than Twitter that you mentioned, what else are you doing to ensure your relationships with clients and business partners are developing? Do you stay connected online or do you take relationships offline? Do you have Facebook “Fan page”?

I am very connected to people online, but also make an effort to connect offline as well. I think it’s best to have a good feel for both avenues. I participate in local networking events, and I’d love to go to trade shows in the future.

Many people love face to face contact especially for business connections, and it’s refreshing to talk to someone in person instead of chatting online. Maintaining relationships with existing and past clients is best done through online efforts, blogging, emails, social media, IMing, etc. I just recently created a Facebook fan page, and I’m loving the new avenue to interact with clients and professional contacts. You can find the page here.

Do you attend local Maricopa events?

Yes, I do live and work in Maricopa and love participating in Maricopa events! They have lots of local events with vendors that advertise their services, but I haven’t participated as a business just yet, although I’ve looked into joining the Chamber of Commerce in the future. The Chamber is certainly a great way to meet local business owners and network with people in your immediate community. The networking events I’ve attended have been in Phoenix, which does provide a larger audience and I do consider the greater Phoenix area a part of my local community.

Shannon's work example (logo)

At these events I just do my best to present myself and my company to people that might be interested. I believe it’s important to not oversell yourself to people that aren’t interested at all, I’ve seen that a lot at networking events. Web design seems to sell itself, as so many people are in need of a web presence or they know someone who does and will pass my name along. Then, people can browse my portfolio on my website to see some of my previous work and decide on their own if they would like to work with me.

I am always curious where people learn their designing skills. So, how did you get started in designing? If you were to start all over, what would you do?

I first learned about graphic design as a profession in high school, and took some beginning classes where I learned Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and QuarkXPress. This is where I fell in love with design and knew it was what I was meant to do with my life. In college, at Northern Arizona University, I majored in Visual Communications and took graphic design, web design, and art courses, gaining more design knowledge. But I think the majority of my skills today have come from working in the field as a professional designer. If I were to start all over I wouldn’t change a thing actually.

You don’t need a degree to be a designer these days, but I believe I learned some valuable things in high school and college in my design classes. Experience working with others and learning from other designers is also something that is valuable for any designer, and I highly recommend it. A lot of designers start freelancing and working for themselves right out of school but you miss out on lots of opportunities to learn from others, it’s something I wouldn’t change at all.

If I want to learn designing skills, but want to be taught by someone, could I take technical classes at community college? I don’t need to become a pro because I could hire you, but would like to learn photo editing skills and basic designing and such. What would you advise?

Yes, I believe most, if not all, of the community colleges in the Phoenix area offer some type of design course. Basic photo and design skills should be easy to come by at a community college, and you can even find classes on basic web design these days too. I don’t know enough about these courses to speak about them unfortunately, but basic skills like learning photo manipulation in Photoshop should be easy to find, and I would think worth your time to learn.

I’ve also heard good things about Lynda.com which is an online tutorial resource where you pay for tutorials on a certain subject like web design or Photoshop. I haven’t used it myself but I’ve heard wonderful things about the site. There are also free beginner tutorials that you can find online but doing some searching around if you’re looking for a way to learn and teach yourself. People usually find it easier to learn from someone, but it really depends on your learning style and how advanced you’d like to become.

Wow, I loved what I saw on Lynda.com thanks for sharing everything you’ve shared with us today. So how should people find you? Also, give us the rundown of all the services your company does.

Lynda.com is great, lots of resources on one site. Thanks for the interview, I’m always to happy to connect with others in the Phoenix area! People can find me at my websitesnoackstudios.com, on twitter @snoackstudios.com, on Facebook, or through email Shannon [at] snoackstudios.com The services my company provides are any kind of design you can dream up, websites, print work, and branding are my specialties. I work with small and large companies that are brand new or have been around for a while to come up with a great look for their company that fits their target audience. I strive to help business get to the next level through marketing and design services that will elevate their brand. Looking forward to connecting with you all soon!

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Shannon Noack is a designer in Arizona and the Creative Director of Snoack Studios. Designing is her passion in life and she loves to create websites, logos, print work, you name it. She also blogs regularly at the Snoack Studios blog and you can connect with her on twitter @snoackstudios and Facebook as well.

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Darryl Web, Tribune

I’ve written in the past Mesa should display provocative art work to draw visitors to the city.

Build something that gets people to talk about.  But it cannot be anything boring because that won’t get anyone to talk about.  By “boring”, I mean, it cannot be museums, ballparks, theaters, and all other stuff that other cities already own.  Those buildings are too safe, and since people in different cities already have those, they won’t come out of their way to Mesa, not worth visiting unless the city builds something spectacular.

Well, it looks like they were already thinking about doing something like this for a long time — If you drive down on Main, you’ll see 25 foot tall God Bless America statues. The city is borrowing it for a few months. Wait to Go, Mesa!!

This takes the guts to do, and some will resist to this seemingly idea. But it’s far more effective than placing some boring, safe, nothing special bronze statues that no heads turn to see. It’s provocative, controversial, and that’s what art is meant to do.

Bring more people to downtown, Mesa.

Yeay!

 

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Too Busy

February 24, 2010

Sometimes I say, “I am too busy with school!” And others say,  ”I am too busy for school!” Neither one of the mindset moves us to accomplish anything important. The only thing that matters is things we actually do.  

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You Are a Great Writer

February 22, 2010

I enjoy writing even though I am not the best one at it. But to make up for the lack of insight, I try reading more than others. Then there are many who are already brilliant, insightful, courageous, empowering, and inspiring people who think about writing and never do. My guess is they’re telling themselves […]

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WHY Do You Do What You Do?

February 17, 2010

What is it that you need to stand for? If you can give one thing to you can give to the world better than anyone else you know, what is it? If it speaks to others, and if there are others share the same values as you do, pretty soon you’ll find yourself leading others.

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Just to Make That ONE Play

February 8, 2010

New Orleans Saints won its first Super Bowl title. Pro athletes repeat mundane and boring practice all their lives to make ONE play that determines the outcome of the game. Every day, I believe the most of our lives are filled with mundane stuff, but they are what give people inspiration in times of need, […]

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It’s OK to Be Introvert

February 1, 2010

I watched Miss America over the weekend. All pretty and smart girls from all over America, competing for the title. Most girls respond to questions thoughtfully, but I believe people want more than just the safe answers. Inspiring people aren’t usually the safest ones, but having decided that their belief is more important than their […]

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