When starting your own big thing you will encounter times you need to give feedback. When you have the opportunity to give feedback you should keep in mind Gibb’s supportive behaviors:

Description:  Make sure you focus on describing very specific behavior so the person can repeat the behavior if it is positive feedback you are providing or isolate the behavior if it is negative feedback.

Problem Orientation: Focus on the task  not on the person! Most importantly focus on behavior they can change versus labeling them.

Can't you stand up straight!

Spontaneity: Give feedback in the moment when you see the behavior. Make it relevant!

Empathy: Make sure you show concern for others. Make sure you take the perspective of the person you are giving feedback!

Equality:  Beware of little status differences, say “we,” “us,” “our” versus owning your feedback and using I and coming from a place of equality.

Provisionalism: Finally be tentative/flexible: “We could . . . One way we might do that is . .  or I think this is what is happening…Remember things are not always what they seem!

“The floor is flat”

 Go out and Live your BIG life! Give positive feedback when you can and always give feedback it is a gift!


A Live BIG Lesson

Yesterday was a very bad day. It was one of those days where everything went wrong. I was late for a meeting. I conducted a training session that did not go well. My kids were home sick and I had to work. I am ashamed to say I took my bad day out on everyone. I snapped at several people I care about, yelled at the kids and the dog!

My worse offense came at the end of the day. I received a complimentary email from a colleague. Instead of thanking them for the nice note I sent them a negative email. I went up the ladder of inference and inferred negative meaning in their compliment! What a boneheaded mistake!
My behavior was very contrary to the “Get Your BIG On” philosophy! My personal mission is to make a positive difference every day by giving BIG.

So where is the lesson? It came today. I woke up and had what I term as a “bad mood hangover”. Like the movie Hangover I woke to a foggy recollection of all the havoc I created from the day before. I started my day apologizing to the kids and giving the dog a bone. I went on to apologize to everyone I snapped at.

Today I didn’t give BIG but I received BIG!

The last person I apologized too was the colleague who had sent the well-meaning email to compliment me on some work I had done. I explained to her in great detail what led up to my incorrect inferences and how I really did appreciate her recognition. She very graciously listened and let me leave the conversation with my self-esteem intact. She was definitely the bigger person.

This kind of BIG has nothing to do with size and everything to do with heart. She with meaning and with caring listened. She did not accuse, blame, yell, but just graciously accepted my apology. Her gracious acceptance of my apology made BIG difference.

Achieving this level of personal grace requires getting your BIG on. Grabbing big, bold, brave thinking and opening the door to not only living your best life, full of confidence and courage but also helping others live their life to the fullest.

The “Get Your BIG On” lesson? Follow my friend and colleagues example and when someone calls me admitting they are wrong and behaved badly, I hope I have the personal grace to allow them to leave feeling big.

Female Entrepreneurs Then and Now: Giving Back - Is this a New Breed or Just How Women are Wired?

Recently I read a post by Huffington Post blogger, Patricia Handschiegel. She asserts that there is  ”a new breed of female leader taking over the country: ‘Power Girls’ — entrepreneurial dynamos who are taking lead roles in both business and their communities.” She says that these women are inspired by icons like Oprah and Hillary Clinton, and these fresh female powerhouses have already learned that giving back is just as important as staying on top.

As I meet the extraordinary women entrepreneurs who we spotlight at Get Your BIG On,  I am amazed at how many of these entrepreneurs are not just giving back but making it there life’s work.   North Jersey mom Filomena Laforgia in July 2010, four years after her three-year old son was diagnosed with autism founded Her site is a one-stop online shopping mall for the purchase of cause-related products.  The site features a variety of products from merchants and local and national organizations that are committed to the sale of these products to support fundraising efforts for their specific cause. The site’s name not only plays on the founder’s first name, but also shows how a socially conscious individual can make a difference through the simplest of acts. By buying a cause-related product, we can all be Filanthropists.

Similiar to Filomenia’s story is that of  Tania Mulry’s.   Tania is an entrepreneur who used the experience with her child to inspire her to use her talents to help others. She quit her stable job creating mobile marketing campaigns for big brands to launch an idea that she had to help address the nation’s school funding problems. This 37-year-old mother of three had grown frustrated by the constant flow of fundraising requests from her boys’ school, but also couldn’t stand the idea that teachers use hundreds of their own dollars to purchase classroom supplies every year. She knew there had to be a better way. So she devised, designed and developed a new mobile application that pairs companies’ need to attract loyal consumers and educators’ need to obtain supplies for their students. The app, called edRover, just became available for free through the iTunes App Store with versions for other popular smartphones to follow later this year.

Are women entrepreneurs who recognize the power of giving back really a new breed or how women are wired? According to a recent study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the University of Indiana,  says women are as much as 40 percent more likely to make charitable donations than men.

The findings, reported in Time magazine, paint a flattering picture of female philanthropists and a less attractive one of their male counterparts. Women at nearly every income level are more generous givers — and not only do they give more than men, they give more often.

Next meet Jacqueline Novogratz founder and CEO of the Acumen Fund. Jacqueline is definetely a women who gives back. The mission of the Acumen Fund is to create a world beyond poverty by investing in social enterprises, emerging leaders, and breakthough ideas. Jacqueline  authored The Blue Sweaterthe memoir of her quest to understand global poverty and to find powerful new ways of tackling it. It’s a powerful read.

From her first stumbling efforts as a young idealist venturing forth in Africa to the creation of the trailblazing organization she runs today, she creates a series of insightful stories and unforgettable characters — from women dancing in a Nairobi slum, to unwed mothers starting a bakery, to courageous survivors of the Rwandan genocide, to entrepreneurs building services for the poor against impossible odds.

Sharon Davis found herself thrust into giving back when natural disaster struck. She is the coordinator for her town’s sister city exchange program with Otsuchi in Northeastern Japan. The story of how the relationship began is compelling- a young man whose father was lost at sea would sit on the Otsuchi headlands waiting for him. Eventually, it occurred to him to wonder what was on the other side of the ocean and so he followed their latitude across the Pacific and found Fort Bragg, California. He made contact and and the two communities became sister cities. This year is the 10th anniversary of the formation of the program.

Needless to say, this small coastal town has been completely and utterly destroyed by the March 11th 9.0 quake and subsequent tsunami. Of the 15,000 residents 10,000 are still missing. The town was leveled and ravaged by fires. Sharon and her town have created the Otsuchi Recovery Fund. She has created a Facebook group for the sister city program and now it’s become a place to share information on this tragedy. So far, they have raised over $75,000. Not bad for a little community of just over 8,000. The small community has been devastated by the events that have harmed their sister city.

But is this trend really new? What about the likes of  Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, (October 26, 1874 – April 5, 1948),  a prominent socialite and philanthropist and the second-generation matriarch of the renowned Rockefeller family? Referred to as the “woman in the family”, she was especially noteworthy for being the driving force behind the establishment of the Museum of Modern Art.

As we look to the past there are numerous examples of these power women. Alice Sheets Marriott (October 19, 1907 - April 17, 2000) was an entrepreneur  and philanthropist.  Alice and her husband opened their first motel, the Twin Bridges Motor Hotel in Arlington, Va., in 1957. This one motel grew into a chain of Marriott hotels.Marriott served two ten year terms on the board of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.. Marriott provided endowments to educational institutions. In 1988 she provided funds for the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University. The University of Utah opened the Alice Sheets Marriott Center for Dance, which houses the University’s departments of Modern Dance and Ballet, on September 25, 1989.[

Another notable entrepreneur  Helena Rubinstein born in 1870 started a comestic empire and was noted for her drive to give back to  others. There are also examples of women thrust into giving back at times of war like Elizabeth Blackwell  1821. Blackwell opened a dispensary in the New York slums. Her sister, Emily Blackwell, joined her shortly after; Emily also had earned her degree in medicine. In 1857, the practitioners established an infirmary for women and children.

Elizabeth Blackwell organized the Women’s Central Association of Relief during the Civil War.  She trained nurses for war service. Elizabeth, along with Emily, and Mary Livermore, played important parts in developing the United States Sanitary Commission.

Shortly following the war, the sisters established the Women’s Medical College in New York. Blackwell served as the professor of hygiene until 1869, when she moved to London to help form the National Health Society and the London School of Medicine for Women.

So what do you think? Are women the more generous sex? Are women entrepreneurs who give back a new breed?  Does gender matter, or are many entrepreneurs giving back?

Start BIG Entrepreneurs Give Back and Go Green

Meet Paperfeet by TOMBOLO - the world’s thinnest flexible sandal, pocket ready for your next adventure. Jimmy Tomczak invented the  patent-pending minimalist art sandals from a process that upcycles  billboard sheet plastic into functional outdoor gear.

Jimmy was using a huge McDonald’s advertisement to keep a leaky roof dry when the idea came to him to use the material for alternative uses. An outdoorsman himself, Jimmy always loved the beach and a good barefoot trek and had his eye on those foot-glove shoes and other barefoot footwear that were all unfortunately out of his budget. The next best thing was to create a pair himself. He put the simple sandals for sale on Paperfeet and less than a year later the shoes have been shipped around the world, featured in national media like WSJ, BoingBoing, and FOX and more. His next project is a Kickstarter campaign to scale production in the USA using local, ethical labor.

Here is some advice Jimmy has for aspiring entrepreneurs:

What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?

1) Seek and find available resources: Do whatever you can to talk with professors, mentors, fellow peers and their networks early and often. College-specific programs, classes, centers and similar are all incredible resources that are less available once you graduate too.

2) Apply for business competitions and programs that are only available to college students. I applied for hundreds of independent scholarships before graduating high school. Combined with working before and after my classes in college, I eventually earned enough from just a handful of the scholarships I won to pay my way through school. Don’t miss a window of opportunity for free money that is restricted to your student status.

3) Start a business. Learn by doing. The best way to become an entrepreneur is to have a product, find a customer, and start making sales! Fail fast and often but make sure these are intelligent failures in that you can apply everything you learned in missing the mark to exceeding expectations the next time around.


Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

Absolutely not. Even a seasoned entrepreneur can work hard and achieve near-perfection only to have the rug pulled out from under them by an unforeseen market shift or other anomaly. I graduated from the University of Michigan with a BS in Neuroscience and I also completed the Program in Entrepreneurship.

In addition to Michigan’s business school, U-M’s entrepreneurship program has been growing strong but I still remember what I first thought after meeting someone who wanted to “major in entrepreneurship.” “Entrepreneur” is the title some people give themselves after they’ve achieved what they previously defined as success, and as validated by an external party. There’s no such thing as an entrepreneurship major. Learn the basics, sure, but applying creative problem solving and time management to an uncanny ability to complete innovative projects with speed and clarity is the best “formula” for entrepreneurial success that I know. Do what works for you!

What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

Creativity. Ability to get stuff done. Advanced networking skills.

Creativity, like entrepreneurship, is a challenging subject to “teach.” But many argue that a creative mind is the most valuable asset a person can have. Combining rare creativity with the ability to break down a problem into manageable steps and an executable solution helps make a successful entrepreneur. Factor in real networking, where collaboration happens and relationships are built beyond business cards, and you’ll have the winning skill set of a successful entrepreneur. Always remember, success is what you define it as, and optimizing your own unique abilities that you already have will get you there faster than any advice you read. Best of luck.

How did the idea for your business come about?

I founded TOMBOLO, maker of uncommon goods for the collective good after inventing “paperfeet” – minimalist sandals made from up-cycled outdoor advertisement material. At the time, I had a leaky roof and couldn’t afford a full repair. One of the contractors that gave me a quote said that his company sometimes used giant billboard vinyl sheets as durable, waterproof tarps. I cold called several ad companies and eventually found a full 14 x 48 foot sign sheet that functioned as the perfect roof tarp for the winter.

The following year I revisited an early idea I had of making paper-thin sandals from Tyvek – the puncture-proof material used for shipping envelopes. Tyvek failed but the billboard worked surprisingly well for the first edition of what would eventually become the retail-ready paperfeet of today. In less than a year, the hand-made billboard shoes have been shipped around the world and featured in national media. But to take things to the next level and scale manufacturing I’m launching a Kickstarter community project to raise the funds needed to do volume production here in the United States.  

Give BIG Entrepreneurs Give Back


As the co-founder of Get Your Big On, I am fortunate to meet many people who are living a big life. I have been blessed to interact with entrepreneurs who are not only making it big for themselves but helping others.

Meet forty-two year old Terry  Grahl, an entrepreneur and a person who Gives BIG!

She says,  ”I not only reinvented myself but I took a major leap of faith five years ago by closing my interior decorating business and turning it into a non-profit that transforms shelters for women and children into peace and possibilities.

I remember sitting on the edge of bed in December 2008 crying my eyes out and making a deal with God. My request: ‘you better make sure you keep a roof over my families head and food in the fridge’ and his request: ‘glorify me.’

It’s been one wild ride ever since! Just last year Enchanted Makeovers was awarded by MLB/PEOPLE Magazine an All-Stars Among Us award, and Sheryl Crow even did a special video on the organization. I finally feel I’m living and not existing!”

Terry is just one of the many entrepreneurs who are giving big. Be sure to check out this month’s Start BIG Spotlight Jimmy Tomczak founder of Paperfeet.  

Entrepreneurs who Start BIG

Over the last two weeks I have been inundated with stories of entrepreneurs who are Starting BIG! I find myself inspired daily by the stories I am receiving.  Many have overcome major obstacles. This week I featured one of those big stories as my pick of the week on Get Your BIG On. I thought I would share his story here as well. I am able to tell you a bit more about him in this post.

David Alan Slockblower (aka David Alan) is an inventor/entrepreneur/professional stand-up comic/artist who has had and lost millions. He has been featured in People Magazine, appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, the Joe Franklin Show, the CBS Early Show, and dozens of local and regional television news shows. He has fought and won a 13-year battle with alcoholism and drug addiction and have endured major surgeries to recover from near-total disability. This inventor and entrepreneur is launching a new product. The project is his patented EZ Shopper invention, which is something that literally EVERYBODY can use.

Additionally David says “After a 20-year failed marriage, I have been blessed to reconnect with “the one that got away” from over thirty years ago and am now happily married to her. With her love, support, and encouragement I have once again tapped into the flow of creative energy that had been dulled by drugs, alcohol, and depression. Good story, huh? Best part is that it’s ALL TRUE. In order to finance my current project/dream, my new bride and I have exhausted all of our resources, including her entire retirement account from a 20-year career as a published research scientist with Novartis/Sandoz Corporation. The project is my patented _EZ Shopper_ invention, which is something that literally EVERYBODY can use and benefit from.”

A common theme among the stories I have received is that once the entrepreneur commits completely to the project either financially, emotionally or both that is when it succeeds.

You can learn more about this entrepreneur who has overcome great odds.


Domain Name

Right up there with trademarking your company’s name is giving thought to your domain name. You  want to pick a domain name before beginning the trademark process. It is important that your website name be your domain name, and they all be either your brand name or something that is closely related. People tend to think of the URL and the website name as one in the same.

Whether your domain name should be short or long can be debated. I talked about some of the SEO ramifications in a previous blog. There are many additional items to consider. Hyphenation between words can make it easier for search engines but more challenging for consumers. Consider first picking a .com versus a .net or other.  It is true .com still has more credibility that it is worth paying a little bit more. Again many consumers will assume sites end with .com.

If you are having trouble picking out a domain check out Jacob Gube’s 12 tools for finding a domain name.

So go out and Start BIG today and figure out your domain name.

StartBIG Tip 2 Trademark your name!

So you have a great idea and you are ready to go into business. My Tip 2 is to Trademark your name.

What is a trademark? According to Wikipedia a trademark or trade mark or trade-mark[1] is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or services from those of other entities.


A trademark may be designated by the following symbols:

™ (for an unregistered trade mark, that is, a mark used to promote or brand goods)
℠ (for an unregistered service mark, that is, a mark used to promote or brand services)
® (for a registered trademark)

If you go to the United States Patent and Trademark office they provide many useful tools to help you determine what type of protection you need for your idea or product.  My advice is that if you are going to establish a brand you consider a trademark.  You will not want to create a reputation, following, or traffic to a logo, label, or brand only to have someone try to trick consumers that they are  you!

When talking to new entrepreneurs and inventrepreneurs they often ask should I have an attorney I don’t feel qualified to tell you if you do or don’t. I know that for me the cost to do this through an attorney was minimal and my time was better spent working on the launch of my business.

Here is what the US Patent and Trademark office says:

You are not required to hire an attorney, but if you decide to prepare and submit your own application, you must comply with all requirements of the trademark statutes and rules and may be required to respond to legal issues raised by the USPTO. Because the application process can be complex, many applicants choose to appoint an attorney to represent them. If you choose to appoint an attorney, we will only communicate with your attorney. The USPTO cannot help you select an attorney. However, the American Bar Association website includes information on how to find local attorneys who practice trademark law.

For me all of my hard work to come up with the idea and then execute on the idea is well worth the investment in an attorney to help me get my trademark.

According to Fredric R. Abramson world is competitive enough. Why let someone take what you have worked so hard to build, when there is a remedy to prevent them from doing it? A trademark will be able to help you protect and brand your business without having to worry about competitors using and diluting your brand, and confusing your customers with a product of lesser quality.

So go get your BIG on and StartBIG come up with that great idea and name/logo and then trademark your name/logo!

Jack and The Magic Beanstalk

The Beanstalk

Recently I was one of a “select group” to be invited to attend a webinar on starting your own business. I received a barrage of emails about the magic steps to success. I was intrigued and stayed tuned in until it came time to buy. The cost of the webinar? $1495.00.

Why did I not enroll? Not because of the price but because of the promises! The webinar stated if I followed the steps I would get rich quick! This was a giant red flag for me. I know from starting my own business that there is not one magic bean that will grow the giant beanstalk or one magic step to entrepreneurial success. It takes work!

You will notice I did not say hard work. The one thing I learned from my dad and had drilled into my head from early on is.. “What will make you successful is doing what you love with those who you love.”  I say almost the same thing to my three kids, but I say it a bit differently. I say, “Success is doing what you love with those that you love.” I work long hours but I love it! I am always thinking about my business because it is my passion.

I am blessed to be in a business that helps other people. Get Your BIG On helps connect those who have expertise to share with those seeking that expertise. I receive emails, Facebook messages, calls, and twitter messages almost daily from people who want or need help. Sometimes it is someone looking for information other times it is someone wanting to share information. What a great business to be in! What a great life to live!

Next week at we are featuring a class offered by Tara Alemany and Rick Swartz from Building your Biz called Getting a Rush from Your Follow-up. In this class they talk about the joy of building your business. They use an analogy to working out. In building your business you get up, work out and repeat day after day to see results. Those of us who love our workout routine know that the only way to do this is and keep it up is to do what you love.

So when you get those ads promising you the magic bean that will grow the magic beanstalk be wary! They may have information that helps but unless you find your true passion.. work will be hard work! My steps for success are do what you love and learn all you can to be the best you can!

Building the Buzz

You have decided to start a business, you are excited about the prospect. You are passionate about your business idea. But there is so much to do. How do you make time to execute your business idea and market your idea at the same time. You may have limited financial resources or the resources you have you want to devote to your brick and mortar business.

The reality is you need to make time for building awareness. The good news is you can raise your profile for free! You can do so organically through interviews with news organizations, speaking engagements and building a reputation in social media. There are ways to do it as you are building your business.

Some ways to consider are starting a blogging about your business places like blogspot and wordpress are a great place to begin blogging. This is a free way to start to get the word out. It can work with your development of your business because you can use it capture and shape thoughts about your business idea best of all its only cost is your time. 

Another idea is twitter. You can begin to tweet about your business right away. You may also want to consider writing articles about your business concept, location, expertise, etc.

According to Hubspot “It is exciting to see inbound marketing growing as an industry. As this trends picks up, business owners, marketers and marketing agencies have the tough task of hiring the right people to help with inbound marketing for their business. This process is often further complicated by the fact that the recruiters are still in the process of learning about inbound marketing themselves.”

If time is in short supply check out tools such as Hootsuite. Hootsuite allows you to update several social media outlets at once. Some networking sites such as LinkedIn allow you to update both your LinkedIn network and Twitter friends at the same time.

So jump in and begin sharing your story!