Purple Cow | book review

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This is the book I wish I’d read when I studied Marketing in college. Seriously.

Purple Cow_Seth Godin

Purple Cow by Seth Godin

Rating: 5.0 – 5.0

My Thoughts: There is a difference between doing good work and doing great work, right? It’s a simple enough concept but how often do we actually translate that into how we conduct business, position ourselves, or approach our markets? As only Seth Godin can, he addresses how we can be remarkable and have a edge in our approach to business and marketing.

The concept of the purple cow is that it’s noticed. We don’t think twice about a black or brown cow but a purple cow? That’ll cause heads to turn. A purple cow is something that is unexpected, unique, counterintuitive, and not quickly forgotten. It’s the ‘P’ that’s missing from the marketing mix (product, price, place, and promotion). Godin says that we cannot create products and services and then try and market it. Instead, we’ve got to build the marketing right into the product.

When you really think about, it makes perfect sense. And I love how Godin explains his ideas–he’s got a brilliant mind and his thought process is intriguing in my nerdy opinion.

I consumed this short read as an audiobook which was great cause the author reads it himself and that was thoroughly enjoyable. If you’re wanting to make it as a small business owner, content creator, blogger, or have anything you want to share with the world, I highly recommend this book. It’s short, sweet, to the point, informative, and enjoyable.


This book was read for the following challenges:

The blogger at Purple Ink Studios is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

 

9. Drawing Boards | 31 Days

This is post 9/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

Come hell or high water, I’m launching on the 13th. 

That’s what I told my dad the other day.

It’s on my wall calendar, my DayTimer, and my desk calendar. My podcast launch date, in magenta ink, reminding me that I can’t go back now.

Or can I?

I’m the kind of person who has a hard time following through with personal projects if I don’t give myself a date. On my calendar. In pen. If not, I talk myself out of it. I’m really good at talking myself out of my own personal projects and procrastinating on things that I find too difficult or I’ve lost interest in. I can justify why I shouldn’t do stuff for my own benefit until the cows come home. Shooting one’s self in one’s foot is a talent too many humans possess and I’m counted as one of them.

On the flip side, there are times when waiting for a better outcome is good. I’m all for not letting perfection preclude you from shipping a project or taking a leap but caution has it’s place too. Sometimes you’re just not ready yet. Sometimes you need extra time to consider other variables. Sometimes you learn something new!

I’m totally not going in the direction I’d set out in when I started Write 31 Days. Day by day, I’m redefining what The Student Life means to me. Because of that, I’ve taken my podcast plans back to the drawing board. I don’t know when I’ll be ready but when the time is right, I will set another date and try again.

Going back to the drawing board is a good thing. It means that you’re problem solving, you’re proactively finding a better way of doing something, you’re not giving up on what’s important to you. Drawing boards are essential for success cause your other two options could prove fatal: you could either give up cause your plans went bust or you could keep moving forward with a defective plan that’ll never see the results you desire. There are times when a plan B, C, D, or P is in order. Just because something didn’t work the first, second, third, or sixteenth time doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea, it just means you haven’t figured out how it works yet.

Go back to the drawing board.

Excuse me, please, while I get some white out.

#write31days

1. Speed Limits | 31 Days

This is post 1/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

I was listening to The Music Makers podcast the other week and the host featured an article about this guy who got his degree at Berklee College of Music in two years. It wasn’t his plan. A former student/professor from Berklee told him “I’ll bet I can teach you two years’ of theory and arranging in only a few lessons. I suspect you can graduate in two years if you understand there’s no speed limit.”

This 17-year-old student took the professor up on the offer. With his help, this young man did, indeed, get his degree in 2 years from the Berklee College of Music.

“…there’s no speed limit.”

I was about 17 when I started out on my path to college. Still finishing up my high school requirements, I was made aware of something very similar to the Berklee student.

You can get your degree in two years. CLEP tests, DSSTs,…transfer credits…work at your own pace. You can get it done fast. And you can do it debt free! 

A BA in two years. Yeah, I was up for that.

Yeeeeeah, that’s not at all what happened. It took me more like…*ahem* 8 years.

Total fail.

People pleasers don’t like letting other people down. I’m a people pleaser who told people I was going to get my degree in less than the standard 4 years. Cause I was going the unconventional route. Bright eyed, bushy tailed, with lots of grand notions about what my educational path was going to be, I was not ready for what was to come.

By the time I was 20, I knew I’d lost out on my window of time. Resigned to the notion that I needed something more substantial than the Communications degree I was pursuing, I went to medical assistant school. In 8 short months, I’d interned at a hospital, and landed a job in the front office of a dental clinic. Seventeen-year-old me was not looking for that.

But I had a job. And I was still pursuing my degree. And I hadn’t gotten sucked into the vortex of college debt yet.

The following year, after taking as many CLEP tests, DSST exams, and Straighterline courses I could possibly take, I transferred them to Thomas Edison State College. By that time I was working in a medical clinic. I had a job. And I was pursuing my degree. And I finally had my first college loan. Small vortex, but sucked in just the same.

Ugh.

“…there’s no speed limit.”

The Berklee professor-turned-music-studio-owner was completely right. There is no speed limit when it comes to education. That message resonated with me when I heard it but dug up a tinge of chagrin. My plan was that two-year degree. Homeschoolers are known for being unconventional and disregarding the standard pace. But my story didn’t go as planned.

Thankfully, the logic works both ways. No speed limits means that it’s okay when you have to slow down. No one is keeping track when there are detours and pit stops.

My story is my own, rich with experience that I am forever grateful for. My education was my own unconventional creation, done on my terms which was the point in the first place.

I’m in no way saying that college is wasted on the young but I will say that, as mature as I’m often told I am, I know that 24-year-old me appreciated some of those later classes more than 20-year-old me would have. I cranked out more seasoned work and the zillion papers I wrote came from a richer place. That’s a good feeling.

Now, 25, I sit in the open air of the early morning. The sun is waking up, my morning tea is getting cold in the delicious a.m. chill and I’m waiting for my diploma to arrive in the mail. Lol. I’ve gotten other pieces of paper accolading my accomplishments but this one is different because I worked hardest for it. Like the tortoise in the story, I kept up my pace, slow as it was, and finished the race I’d set out to complete.

I am content with my story. It was not perfect. I would tweak it if I could. But I love the journey I took and I’m grateful for the experience I have now tucked into my pocket.

There is no speed limit. I will hang my diploma on the wall and continue with my unconventional life.

#write31days

 

CLEP Prep Resource List

With the cost of education these days, students are looking for ways to get a quality learning experience without breaking the bank.

That’s where college level exams like CLEP & DSST come in.

I tested out of more than half of my college degree. It was tough and while I wouldn’t change my experience for anything, I wish I knew then what I know now.

If college level exams are something you want to pursue, let me give you what I wish someone had given me when I was starting out – a resource list. Whether you’re taking one or two tests or almost two dozen like me, CLEP prep should be painless because, after all, you’re trying to save time and money!

Maybe you’ve got a textbook or a study guide but you’re looking for something else to shake things up and give you some variety.

These resources are all available online, you don’t have to go anywhere to access them. All but two of them are free or have free versions but those two that have fees are well worth checking out. I’ve used all the resources myself and many of them have just gotten more awesome since my testing days.

PINTEREST CLEP-DSST Resource List Cover

Fill out the form below to get your free copy of my resource list! 

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If you have any questions about CLEP, DSST, or how I tested out of half of my college degree, you can leave a comment below or drop me an email at elyssanalani@purpleinkstudios.net.

Happy Tuesday!

7 Reasons Why You Should Be Reading Books

(This post contains affiliate links)

The last paper I wrote in college was a 20-something page piece on the reading brain and why it matters. I did 12 weeks of research only to barely cover the surface of a subject that I grew to love more as the term progressed.  I’ve always been a bookworm and writing a paper on why it’s so important to read was extremely fun ( I know, really nerdy).

This blog is hardly the place for such a long paper but I do want to share some things I found out while researching this project. So, lister that I am, I came up with 7 Reasons Why You Should Be Reading Books.

7 Reasons Why You Should Be Reading Books

1. Reading strengthens your brain.

According to Rita Carter, science writer and presenter of BBC’s documentary, Why Reading Matters, the brain doesn’t have a central reading system. Reading happens in, what she calls, a “cerebral internet”.  In other words, it takes several regions in different areas of the brain to make reading possible. Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squidsays that, unlike all other human behaviors such as vision or speech, reading has no direct genetic program that is passed from parent to child. We’re not born with neurological ‘reading tools’. Our brains form connections between regions designed to perform other functions in order to process and understand written language. Rita Carter interviewed Dr. Cathy Price of University College in London who gave a simplified explanation of how this works:
“There are no areas of the brain that only respond to reading. All the areas that are involved in reading are also involved in recognizing objects, in speaking. In order to read, it’s the connections between the visual inputs and the component sounds that need to be linked together. So this doesn’t involve any new brain regions. What it involves is stronger and more efficient links.”
Our brains possess what is called neuroplasticity, which means it is capable of learning new things and forming new habits by making and strengthening new connections. Reading is one of the best examples of this. The more you read and deepen those connections, the more you’re exercising and strengthening your brain.

2. Reading boosts your empathy.

BBC’s Rita Carter also brought up the fact that stories can help us become more empathetic. According to an article in Psychology Today, we were meant to tell stories, they provide order, and they connect us with others. Stories give us space to exercise our emotional responses to other people’s situations. John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns talks about this in an episode of Crash Course

“By understanding language, you will, 1). have a fuller understanding of lives other than your own, 2). will help you be more empathetic…Reading critically and attentively can give you the linguistic tools to share your own story with more precision. Reading critically gives us better tools to explain corporate profits and broken hearts and it also connects us to each other.”

3. Reading increases your vocabulary.

I especially like this one cause I love trying out new words that I find in books.  It is true that we pick up words from television and conversation but the truth is, we don’t speak the way we write. Written word is much richer lexically than spoken word. In other words, we use better and more varied words when we write than when we speak. The same goes for syntax–we structure sentences better when we write.  A great study done by Anne E. Cunningham and Keith Stanovich explains that children who read will have a richer vocabulary and better grasp of syntactical structure than their peers who watch television.  Reading enhances their ability to process language, both written and spoken. And because our brains are plastic, it doesn’t matter what your performance was like in school, the same can be true for adults as well. 

4. Reading makes you a better communicator.

This is points 2 & 3 at their best. A rich vocabulary isn’t the only pre-requisite of good communication. Effective communication is a two way street where both parties must take turns at being sender and receiver. Understanding and sympathizing with another person’s situation (empathy) and the ability to effectively express yourself verbally makes for a great communicator. Why? Because it’s not only about having something to say but also ensuring that what you’re saying is of value and how you’re saying it is thoughtful and appropriate. Because there is order, logic, brain connectivity, and emotion at play when we read, we are strengthening those areas that make us effective communicators.     

5. Reading actual books is a unique experience.

This isn’t something I was able to add to my final paper but I still find it important so I’ll include it here.

I have a Kindle and I think it’s a great way to consume material on the go but there is something about reading an actual book that is unique and beneficial in ways that cannot be recreated by any other medium.  An article in Medical Daily says that the tactile experience of holding a book, turning the pages, and moving from left to right aids in the ability to comprehend and remember the text. E-books, with often fragmented text and links to the net also disrupt focus and concentration. Your brain is going through a very complicated process in order to read and actual books facilitate this process better than e-readers.   

6. Reading is the best way to relax.

I didn’t include this in my paper either but I think it’s also important. One article I came across in my research explained that a study showed that reading is a more effective stress reliever than taking a walk, listening to music, or drinking a hot cup of tea. Subjects of the research experienced lowered heart rate and decreased muscle tension.  Reading helps us relax, and takes our minds off the day’s commotion which makes it the perfect thing to do before going to sleep. 

7. Reading is super attractive.  

Lastly, this also didn’t make it my paper but as much as this is my nerdy opinion, I’m not the only one who thinks this. You’ve heard it said intelligence is sexy? It’s so true. Why? Because readers are more emotionally and cognitively intelligent.  A well-read person bolsters their knowledge base and that makes them better conversationalists. When you read broadly and smartly, you have more to offer in your relationships, your families, your careers, and your communities making you more interesting, useful, and, well yeah, sexy.

If you don’t consider yourself much of a reader, then I challenge you to change that. Reading is a privilege and something we shouldn’t take for granted. History tells us that the number one way people kept control of others was by keeping back the written word (think Dark Ages and American slavery). We know knowledge is power; take advantage of it.

In my opinion, I think a good percentage of the mischief people get into would vanish if they would just read good books. And while I’m all for good literature, I’m also an advocate for great non-fiction. If you currently read mostly novels, re-consider your book list and add a healthy dose of spiritual growth, history, social science, biographies, art, business and other subjects that will give you insight and help shape a healthy, well-informed worldview. It’s a part of good maturity which this generation could use more of.

There’s a lot to learn and even more books to learn from. Pick up a book and see what wonderful things you’ll discover within the pages!

Happy reading!
 
 

Confessions of a Homeschool Veteran: Would I Do It Over Again?

I’m a homeschool veteran.

Almost two decades after my parents took me out of the traditional, private school system, I can look back and say that I’m blessed with a great academic story.
CONFESSIONS OF A Homeschool Veteran 2

In my last post, I addressed the myth of socialization when it comes to homeschooling. As an adult, rarely ever get the socialization question anymore (thank goodness!) but I do get this question quite often:

Did you like being homeschooled?

In a word – yes.

I’m so glad my parents decided to homeschool the Bro and me. In my opinion, I think it’s one of the best things they did for us and I am forever grateful!

However…

there were days when I hated it ><.

Oh my goodness, there were days when my Bro got on my nerves, my parents got on my nerves, and when I most certainly got on all of theirs. Days weren’t perfect, circumstances weren’t always ideal, there were annoyances, irritations, and messes. It’s the stuff of life and we certainly had our share.

I’m not completely sure but I feel like there may be a misconception that if a family is homeschooling then they must have their act together and get along all the time. This is simply not the case. I don’t know every homeschool family but I’ll bet you that even though they most definitely love each other, there are Mondays, late days, rainy days, sick days, grumpy days, won’t-shut-up days, bad hair days, and every other day in-between. Every family has their struggles, pet peeves, arguments, and challenges, and homeschooling families are right there in the trenches with everyone else. The difference with homeschooling families is that they have to figure out how to spend a whole lot of time learning, playing, and working together through the messy stuff that is called family life. There isn’t an escape to traditional school or day job – you’re stuck with one another all day long. I’m not going to lie, it was a drag sometimes.

BUT! There were so many more wonderful days! Lots of experimenting in the kitchen, inventing games, dressing up and putting on shows, reading stacks of library books, bike riding, painting, sewing, music lessons, story writing…. these were sweet, sweet years. I’m not saying that traditionally schooled kids don’t get to do fun stuff, but I will argue that homeschooled kids have more time to dig into their hobbies and passions – a fact for which I am grateful!

Of course, homeschooling isn’t all fun and games. We had to work hard too. And here’s where the essence of home education comes out. Everybody learns differently, no two students are alike. When done right, homeschooling gives students the freedom to work at their own pace, excel in the subjects they are naturally good at and hone in on those they find more challenging. I’ll talk about this a little more in my next post.    


So, if given the chance, I would do it all over again. Are there things we wish we had done better? Of course! Who doesn’t wish that? No one can look back and say that they’re satisfied with every single thing they’ve done, that they handled every situation well, that they made all the right decisions or took advantage of every opportunity. Homeschoolers are no exception.

I’m thankful to have been homeschooled with all the ups, downs, twists, turns, and bad days. It’s an adventure I wouldn’t trade for the world and it’s given me the freedom to grow into the person I am today.

If you homeschooled your kids or were homeschooled yourself, would you do it over again? What would you have done differently? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Confessions of a Homeschool Veteran: The Myth About Socialization

I’m a homeschool veteran.

I can say that because my mother started homeschooling me and the Bro when I began the second grade. I’m so glad she did. Granted, this was back in the mid-nineties and my little, second-grade self didn’t know what homeschooling even was and the thought of leaving my friends was quite alarming. But I quickly settled into it and grew to love my new lifestyle.

Now, I’m about to finish my BA and starting to think back on my educational journey.  What do I have to say now that I’m reaching this landmark in my life?

A lot.

This will be a series of posts about my experiences as a homeschooled student. Yes, there are misconceptions that I’ll address but there are also points of interest that I can share now that I’m an adult and have been through it.   

This is Confessions of a Homeschool Veteran.

CONFESSIONS OF A Homeschool Veteran 1 (1)

You can guess from the graphic what topic I’m going to address first. Yes, I’d like to bust a myth:

Homeschoolers and socialization.  

This has got to be the most popular myth about homeschooling. All my life my parents were asked all kinds of questions like, “But do your kids socialize?”,  “Aren’t you worried your kids won’t be socialized?”, “Do they have a social life?”

In one word – YES!  Yes to all of those questions.

Let me explain something that I think people who ask these questions seem to forget. You ready for this?

Everybody worries about socialization. Period. 

I don’t think there is a parent on this planet with a school-aged child that doesn’t worry about their child’s social life no matter their schooling situation. I mean c’mon, you remember what it was like to be a kid, right?  It’s hard to make friends. It’s hard to keep a stiff upper lip when no one wants to sit next to you at lunch. It’s hard to find your place in a group. Guess what? Traditionally schooled kids have socialization issues too. In fact, let me be so bold as to say that traditionally schooled kids have potentially more socialization issues than do homeschooled kids. There are a lot of reasons for that but this isn’t the post. I think we all know enough about peer pressure, bullying, cliques, and battered self-worth to get the picture.

Just because a child doesn’t go to a traditional school doesn’t mean they can’t be socialized.  And by the same token, just because a child goes to a traditional school doesn’t mean they’re properly socialized either. I mean, heck, adults have socialization issues! We learn a thing or two about communicating as we age but we can be just as socially awkward as we were when we were adolescents. We’re all different and our educational situations don’t necessarily determine our social comfort levels. It’s something we all have to learn and some of us are naturally better at it than others. 

Having said all that, I’ll admit it, there are some socially awkward homeschoolers out there. But just because you may have come across one of them, doesn’t mean that’s how the rest of us are.  Don’t lump us together, please. Homeschoolers come in all stripes and types and I know that as human beings we naturally stereotype cultures and sub-cultures, but just like not all black people like fried chicken, (yes, I went there and yes, I’m half black) not all homeschoolers are socially awkward. Back off the stereotypes, don’t be so quick to make assumptions, and get to know a homeschooled student before you make a judgement call.  


Whenever I hear the socialization myth, I laugh cause I think it’s so ridiculous. Let me just say, I have never once been told that I have a problem socializing. The Bro and I were involved in extracurricular activities as kids, we’ve always been active at church and have never lacked friends. I grew up being able to have conversations with people my parents’ age and older and liking it! And while homeschoolers are quick to say that the average, traditionally schooled child isn’t capable of doing this, I’m slower to make that judgement call because everyone is different. There are great communicators from every educational background and I don’t think anyone really wants to be negatively defined by their education anymore than I do. 

We should be defined by what we do with our education, not by how we got it. 

EducationDefinition

So, next time you meet a homeschooled student, don’t let the question of socialization be the first thing to pop out of your mouth. Do like everyone else and ask them about their favorite subject. Believe me, they’ll tell you!