All posts by FamousAshleyGrant

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Virtual Basket – A Piece of Business Advice

Got an email today that put something in perspective for me, and confirmed a thought I’ve had for a while….you can’t rely on a SINGLE source for your business to succeed AND maintain success.

The email I got was from a lady I’ve been following for a bit…her Youtube channel was randomly deleted by Google and she is fighting to get it back. There was nothing she did that caused it, it was a legitimate glitch that caused it to be deleted. And, the reality is it may be gone forever with no recourse, or anything she can actually do about it.

This happened with a website of mine years ago – I didn’t own it completely and it randomly got deleted after a hack from a hacker in a foreign county. Still hurts thinking about that loss honestly, but back to the Youtube gal.

The problem? She has built a significant portion of her business via Youtube. She receives most of her leads and hence makes most of her business income thanks to Youtube.

Where are your promotions at online?

This is similar to something I’ve seen other business owners doing – building nearly all of their business on Facebook, or Twitter or Linkedin.

Building your brand across multiple platforms is great, but you must make sure that no matter how you’re promoting yourself that you’re not relying on JUST ONE platform. If at any given moment it vanishes, it could cripple your business.

Now, this lady is pretty resourceful, and I’m sure she’s collected many email addresses and will ultimately be fine. However, the difference is she has been doing this 6 years and may be able to recover faster than other people who are still new in business.

I’m not 100% sure what will happen for her, but obviously I’m wishing her the very best.

Don’t focus all your promo efforts on one platform!

The bottom line is, don’t rest all your business plans on one platform. Especially one you don’t own. You must realize that when you do that if the platform ever vanishes or your account is randomly deleted, it can cripple you.

In all honesty, this is why I’m a huge fan of cross posting. I’ll take the same piece of content and use it in multiple ways so that no single platform is ever getting all of the focus. Some people have called me crazy for doing this and have said I could build my business faster if I would just focus on ONE.

But to them I say this – if Facebook vanishes tomorrow, I’ve still got Twitter. If Twitter vanishes, I’ve still got Linkedin, and if they all vanish, I’ve still got my website and my personal database of contacts. I won’t quit, and hopefully it means I won’t fail.

I felt compelled to share this, and I hope it gets you thinking about how you’re promoting yourself. I also hope that you avoid focusing all of your energy on a single platform you don’t own. Happy Monday my fellow entrepreneurs!

How Not to End a Musical – A Love Never Dies Review

Thanks to my membership in the Tampa Bay Bloggers and their partnership with the Straz Center I received two complimentary tickets for the purposes of review to Love Never Dies. This has not impacted my review and all opinions below are my own.
“Only For You” – Mary Michael Patterson (“Meg Giry”) and the Ensemble of Love Never Dies. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Okay so look. I LOVE musicals. Like, wish I was the one singing and dancing on stage kind of love for musicals. M’kay? So, please go into this post knowing that first and foremost so you don’t just think I’m hatin’.

I want to start by saying that the cast, the sets, the singing, the overall production of Love Never Dies – they were all absolutely stunning. I loved the set so much, it was just gorgeous! And, the singing gave me goosebumps in the best way. Just awesome. Everything was going great. At intermission I was on cloud nine. I even tweeted this:

Gardar Thor Cortes (“The Phantom”) and Meghan Picerno (“Christine Daaé”) star in Love Never Dies. Photo by Joan Marcus.

And then…the last frikkin number came, and what happened after ruined EVERYTHING!!! I won’t spoil it in case you’re going to go see it. BUT!!! Love Never Dies ended in the worst way of EVER!!! I hated it. I was fuming. I was crying like a blubbering frikkin’ mess, and then I was pissed off the entire way home. I thought musicals were supposed to have a happy ending dammit! This one did not, and it made me mad. Like so mad I couldn’t even tweet about how I was feeling about it for more than an hour.

Meghan Picerno (“Christine Daaé”) stars in Love Never Dies. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Here’s the thing – if you want to believe the end is happy, leave after you see the peacock. Let Christine sing for you, and as soon as the song ends and the peacock goes away – LEAVE. THE. THEATER!!! Then, pretend the ending was a lovely, sweet one, and you’ll walk away feeling like it was one of the greatest musicals perhaps of all time. BUT, if you want to get mad, sad, heartbroken or any other array of negative emotions…stick around for the horrible conclusion that left me wanting to punch someone.

This is one time I wish somebody had warned me about the ending. It’s the one time I wish someone had said, Ashley LEAVE after the song in front of the peacock. If I had known and walked away, I would have ended the evening feeling that it was a fabulous night out, and simply an amazing production.

I want to reiterate at this point that I LOVED all of the rest of the show. It kept me on my toes, and falling hard for some of the characters. Maybe that’s why the ending made me so upset. Or maybe it’s my own life experiences that made the last moments of the production ruin the entire show for me. I’m not 100% sure. What I do know is this though – that to me was how NOT to end a musical.

Love Never Dies is playing at the Straz Center in Tampa through December 17, 2017. To see all of the shows playing at the Center, click here.

Photo by Rob-Harris

 

 

The Book of Mormon – A Review

Thanks to my membership in the Tampa Bay Bloggers and their partnership with the Straz Center I received two complimentary tickets for the purposes of review to the Book of Mormon. This has not impacted my review and all opinions below are my own.


The Book of Mormon – My Review

I confess that upon entering the theater for The Book of Mormon I didn’t know what to expect. But, by the end of the show I was incredibly grateful that I didn’t know what to expect. Every single song, every single act, thrilled and excited me and away I couldn’t have imagined. Because of that fact, I will intentionally not share a single spoiler in this review. (If you want spoilers, however, I recommend you read Run DMT’s review).

Instead, I will focus on telling you why you should or should not see the show. If you are a very religious person who is easily offended by jokes about religion – don’t see this show. If you’re a person who is easily offended by curse words, crude humor, and incredibly explicit content – don’t see this show. If you’re a person who believes that the show South Park was invented by the seed of Satan – don’t see this show. However, if your fan of inappropriate humor, religious puns and jokes, and clever musical numbers that poke fun at religion at every turn –  GO SEE THE SHOW!

The Book of Mormon Company – The Book of Mormon (c) Julieta Cervantes 2017

I have to say that I am recovering churchgoer. I became disheartened by the business of “the church,” and I’ve got to say that that is part of the reason I liked this show so much. There were some very clever statements made throughout the show that actually speak to how religion can in fact make a person feel better about whatever situation they’re dealing with in their life may be.

By that same token, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that it felt to me as though the people who wrote this show do not exactly have respect for religion. That doesn’t change the fact though, that I laughed harder in those two hours watching The Book of Mormon than I have laughed in a very long time.

From the very first musical number to the last hilarious dig at the religion of Mormonism, and all of the terribly non-politically correct humor in between, I thoroughly enjoyed every single bit of it. I must admit I thought for sure there would be at least one or two jokes about Scientology somewhere in the play. But, maybe reading between the lines to find those jokes for myself was what the playwrights “were going for.” (<- that’s a joke from the show and the closest I’ll get to a spoiler!)

The Book of Mormon Company – The Book of Mormon (c) Julieta Cervantes 2017

I will warn you that if you’re like me, and have a lot of friends who have very religious views, you will find it incredibly difficult to tell them about the show you just watched if you go and see Book of Mormon. I personally went with a girlfriend of mine to watch this, and after it ended we both looked at each other and kind of knew that we would not be able to tell many of the people in our lives about what we had just witnessed. What’s funny though is now that gives us something to bond over, and laugh about at events we’ll attend in the future.

Kim Exum, Conner Peirson – The Book of Mormon (c) Julieta Cervantes 2017

I can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed the show, and just how funny I found it to be. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a Southern Baptist Christian home, but I could see extra humor that was unique to myself. Then again, I think it’s safe to say anyone who saw this that has any kind of religious background probably interpreted some jokes in their own way that made the show that much funnier than it may be to other people witnessing the same material.

Kevin Clay – The Book of Mormon (c) Julieta Cervantes 2017
Conner Peirson – The Book of Mormon (c) Julieta Cervantes 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bottom line – I would see the show again in a heartbeat. And, I have a funny feeling that if I were to watch it again I would laugh that much harder the second time around even though now I know what to expect. I can now completely understand why critics have raved about the show, and I concur wholeheartedly with every positive review that I have read about it.

The Book of Mormon is playing at the Straz Center through December 10. To see all the shows playing at the Straz, click HERE!

Udderly Smooth Gift Pack Giveaway – Ends 12/18/17

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Today is a Gift – That’s Why it’s Called The Present

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.

One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs.

His bed was next to the room’s only window

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end.

They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation..

Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake.

Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats.. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by.

Although the other man could not hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days, weeks and months passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.

She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside.
He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window.

The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.

She said, ‘Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.’

Epilogue:

There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations.

Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.

If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy.

‘Today is a gift, that is why it is called The Present .’

I don’t know the origin of this story, but I felt compelled to share it with you. If you too were moved by this, share it too! May your days be filled with an abundance of love, joy, hope, wealth, good health and happiness.

Finding the Right Pet-Sitter or Dog-Walker for Your Fur Babies

FTC Disclosure: I’m an affiliate for Rover.com, and I will receive compensation for anyone who books through my unique link. 

A lot of folks don’t know this, but I used to be a pet sitter and a dog walker. Yep! True story. It’s one of the many side hustles I had throughout grade school and college. I always took care to make sure that the pets I walked and watched were healthy, happy and felt loved.

When I got my own dogs, I confess I was afraid to let anyone but my husband watch them or walk them while I was away at blogger conferences and other getaways. That has meant that with every trip with my hubby, we had to bring the dogs along. Now, as we’re discussing a trip where we can’t feasibly bring the dogs, we’re talking a lot about dog walkers and pet sitters.

I’ve teamed up with Rover.com to bring you these important tips on how to find your perfect sitter or walker.  After talking with them, I’ve learned that there’s no better place to turn than Rover.com, a community of people who are dog lovers to the core. (Side note – Special thanks to Nat Smith, a Rover.com community member, for helping me with this post.)

Finding a Pet-Sitter

Look for someone who can sync up with your pet’s daily rhythms. Get clear about what your pet needs: Can the sitter provide enough exercise and playtime? Will they be around during the day, or do they work a 9-5 job? Does your dog have any medical concerns or physical limitations to keep in mind?

Figure out what’s most important: lots of experience, a training background, a person who’s really active, someone with a flexible schedule, and so on.

Personality matters, too. Most sitters will say in their profiles what kinds of dogs they get along with best, so that’s a great clue as to whether or not they can get along with your fur baby!

No matter who you find, make sure they’re great with communication. They should be responsive, friendly, and open. And it’s important that they understand your dog’s body language, too. Do a Meet & Greet before the stay to be sure you’ve found a good match!

Finding a Dog-Walker

Reliability and efficiency are especially important when you’re looking for a daily dog-walker. They should be able to show up at the same time every day, follow all your instructions, and give lots of one-on-one attention.

Walk training is an important way to keep your pup on track, especially if you’re actively working on impulse control or other training issues. Look for walkers who enjoy walk training and use lots of positive reinforcement, like treats and praise.

Most importantly, you’ll want a dog-walker who can come back again and again. Their schedule should be predictable, so they can commit for weeks or months at a time.

A great walker can become a great sitter, and vice-versa. But don’t sweat having two helpers! They can often become pinch-hitters for each other. It takes a village, right?

Special offer

Rover.com is so sure that you will LOVE them, that they are giving everyone who signs up through my unique link a $25 credit to try them out. Simply head to https://famousashleygrant.com/Rover to sign up today!

Simple Steps to Working Smarter Rather Than Harder in Your Business

In our business lives, we hear the saying all the time. “Work smarter, not harder.” But, how many of us do it? Or for that matter, how many of us know what working smarter actually even means. The problem is knowing something and implementing it are two very different things. If you are facing this problem of knowing that you could be working smarter rather than harder, try the pointers below to help you get more productive with your time and create more profits overall.

Now you may not get to implement all of these ideas, particularly not all in one go. However, if you start with one and build on that, then you are at least moving forward.

Work on what is relevant and most profitable.

This may seem obvious, but what seems obvious is not always easy to implement. Do a self diagnostic test to see what takes up the most of your time, and you will likely find it is the part of your business that is the least profitable. It may be time to outsource that element, so it costs less time and resources and moves it off your plate. Or, you may just need a better system in place for getting it done faster giving you time to focus on the more profitable projects or components of your business.

Manage your projects more efficiently.

Once again, easier said than done. Still, you should try to build structure into what you are doing. Many people have so much going on in their day-to-day, that they are continuously jumping from project to project with little focus. What you should do instead is finish a task completely before starting another.

No, this doesn’t mean completing entire projects in one time period. I’m a realist and I understand that this isn’t possible for every project. What I do mean though is that you should chunk your projects down and complete an entire chunk at a time before moving on to the next chunk of whatever project you want to move forward on. Bonus points if you document where you left off on every project so that you don’t come back to it wondering what’s next!

Set deadlines for everything.

How many times do you set a deadline to get something done and make sure it is done? You have client deadlines I’m sure, but have you ever created self-imposed deadlines for yourself to ensure things get done in a timely manner? Doing this triggers a sense of need to get it done now, rather than allowing ourselves the “luxury” of putting it off until tomorrow. Just knowing you have a deadline regardless of who set it will inspire your brain to complete it now, not when it’s actually due.

We all know how much we can get done the day before we go on leave or a nice well earned vacation. Apply the same principle to what you do on a daily basis.

A simple starting point is to chunk down your top 5 tasks and create the deadlines you can set around these. The deadlines must be realistic, however. Otherwise you are going to burn yourself out trying to reach them, or you’ll do a piss poor job of accomplishing the tasks to the best of your ability.

Employ people that have strengths where you have weaknesses.

This is really about leveraging your time. If you are not good at doing something, but you still need it in your business, get someone else that is an expert in that area to do it. Then, let yourself get on with the next task in your business. You can either do this by hiring virtual assistants part time or full time, or by hiring contractors for one off tasks as frequently or infrequently as needed.

Manage time interruptions.

Think about the number of times you are trying to get something done that will help with the profitability of your business, when your phone rings or someone knocks on your door for a “quick catch up.” It’s imperative you become more structured in managing these interruptions. Let the phone go to voicemail and set aside time to return all the calls, for example. Ask people to book in time for you so you can manage your day, and not have their interruption mess up your entire schedule.

Remember, time management is not about trying to manage time; there are only 24 hours in a day. It is about managing yourself, your sanity, and the moving parts in your business. For some people time management is easy and effortless, but for many of us it’s a daily struggle. As you work on it though, you’ll build habits for better efficiency in your life.

Additional ideas for getting more done in your day include:

Activity Logs: If you often wonder at the end of the day where your day went, create an activity log to start logging how much time you spend on your various activities. Only once you know where your time went can you change anything.

To Do List: Yes, having a to-do list is important, but if you’re spending too much time on creating lists, you’re not going to get anything done. Keep them short and simple with your top 3-5 things you HAVE to get done each day, and then try to do them before you do anything else.

Create a schedule, and actually plan your day: Unimportant, but time-consuming tasks can end up consuming a lot of your time. Schedule your most important things first, and leave plenty of buffer time for each item. Prioritizing enables you to focus your time and energy on the important things. You can’t successfully manage and grow your business if you can’t successfully manage your time.

Busch Gardens Christmas Town 2017 – Fun for the Whole Family this Holiday Season

FTC Disclosure: I will be receiving two passes to visit Christmas Town in the month of December in exchange for social media love. While the tickets are being given to me for free, this has not affected my opinions of Busch Gardens or their Christmas Town event. 

Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay’s annual holiday tradition, Christmas Town™  is back in town for the holidays now through December 31st. And, this season they are keeping it open for an extended  Three Kings Day Celebration from Jan. 1 through Jan. 6.  I’ve had the amazing pleasure of attending Christmas Town three different times, and it always beams bright with twinkling lights, spectacular shows, holiday shopping and even a visit to Santa’s House! Check out all the amazing things that Christmas Town has to offer, and I hope you will consider attending Busch Gardens for this fun event this year. It’s truly a fabulous way to get into the holiday spirit!!!

Attractions and Features of Christmas Town 2017:

 NEW! Holiday Culinary Samplers: Enjoy 5 or 10 delectable creations from our holiday menus during Christmas Town. Culinary locations like Christmas Town Village will feature savory treats and Yuletide sweets for the whole family.

 NEW! Story Time Breakfast with Rudolph: Sometimes the best part about Christmas morning is the breakfast. This year, the all-new Story Time Breakfast with Rudolph delivers atDragon Fire Grill complete with holiday songs, story time and special surprises. Indulge in waffles, French toast, scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese grits, pastries, biscuits and gravy, and much more.

NEW! Three Kings Celebration: Busch Gardens unfolds the famed journey to the humble town of Bethlehem during a Three Kings Celebration from Jan. 1-6. This cultural celebration boasts authentic Latin traditions, live entertainment honoring the three wise men and Busch Gardens’ dazzling display of twinkling lights.

Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland: Making his Christmas Town debut, Sam the Snowman joins Rudolph, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and Bumble at Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland located in Celestial Crossing.  Meet and take photos with these beloved characters, play holiday games and indulge in Yuletide treats while scenes of the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer® television special come to life.

Santa’s House presented by Coca-Cola®: The Claus family invites you into their North Pole home at Santa’s House presented by Coca-Cola®. While the elves are busy preparing for Christmas, Santa is taking a break from his busy holiday schedule to meet and take photos with families in his private study.

Thrill Rides at Night: Nestled between beautifully lit trees and roaring with excitement, some of the best views of Christmas Town can be found atop Florida’s top thrill rides, including family spin coaster, Cobra’s Curse®.

Guests can also expect the return of fan-favorite shows that ring in the season, including Christmas on IceCarol of the Bells light show and the Holiday Hills Brass Band. For a complete list of seasonal sights and unforgettable Yuletide experiences, visit ChristmasTown.com.

Christmas Town is included with any annual pass, Fun Card or daily admission to the park. The event is open until 10 p.m. on select dates and will close at 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve. For New Year’s Eve, Christmas Town will remain open until 1 a.m. to ring in 2018. Please visit our website for park hours.

For a limited time, guests can pay for a day and get two parks now through 2018 FREE! Enjoy unlimited admission to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay through Dec. 31, 2018 and to Adventure Island through the 2018 season. Offer ends March 25, 2018.

For more event information, visit ChristmasTown.com.  Plus, be the first to know about new events, special deals and future announcements by following the Busch GardensTampa Bay blog or joining in the conversation with @BuschGardens on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Snapchat.

Christmas Cocktails Roundup – Part 2

Welcome to part two of my Christmas Cocktails Roundup! If you missed part 1, check it out right here! What is your favorite Christmas Cocktail? Leave a comment down below with the recipe or a link to what it is. If you don’t have a favorite, or are looking for some new recipes to add to your bartender repertoire, I hope you’ll find one or two below that tickle your taste beds. Enough blabbering! Let’s focus on what you came for – the drinks!

Christmas Cocktails Round Up – Part 2

1. Mulled Wine
2. winter prosecco cocktails
3. Cranberry and Orange Vodka Cocktail
4. Ponche Crema Venezuelan Eggnog
5. Hot Brown Buttered Rum


6. Bourbon Caramel Apple Cider
7. Red Wine Hot Chocolate
8. Cranberry Apple Spiced Mules
9. Pomegranate Champagne Cocktail
10. Pomegranate and Orange Cocktail
11. Cranberry Mint Cocktail
12. Spiced Cider and Cran-Bourbon Cocktail
13. Best Skinny Margarita Recipe


14. Bourbon Milk Punch
15. Bourbon Pecan Pie Cocktail
16. Cranberry Moscow Mule


17. Festive Cranberry Margarita Recipe
18. Sparkling Pomegranate Cocktail Recipe
19. Spiked Mexican Hot Chocolate
20. Cinnamon Roll Eggnog
21. Peppermint Cookietini Cocktail


22. Gingerbread Latte Recipe
23. Chai Spiced Cider
24. Hot Lemon Orange Toddy
25. Irish Cream Chocolate Coffee
26. How To Make Cake Vodka Jell-O Shots
27. Strawberry Creamsicle Cocktail And Mocktail
28. Frozen Bananas Foster Cocktail

Christmas Cocktails Roundup – Part 1

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sucker for a delicious cocktail. While I love them year round, there is something extra special about the flavor combinations that are popular during the Christmas season. The dashes of cinnamon, the splashes of cranberry and all the ingredients that form the concoctions that folks come up with – they just seem to usher in all those warm feelings of celebration.

I went to my bloggy friends and asked them all to share their best Christmas cocktail recipes, and they did not disappoint. Below you’ll find part one of the best cocktails for the season that would have Old Saint Nick even giving the naughty kids presents this year! Yum!

Christmas Cocktails Round Up – Part 1

  1. Apple Cider Mule Cocktail
  2. How to Make Puerto Rican Coquito
  3. Easy Cranberry Orange Daiquiris
  4. Christmas Cosmopolitan
  5. Mulled Wine   
  6. Holiday White Cranberry Sangria with Rosemary
  7. Apple Cinnamon Sangria
  8. Coquito – Puerto Rican Egg Nog
  9. The Grinch Cocktail
  10. Andes Coquito
  11. Cranberry Bliss Cocktail
  12. Homemade Eggnog Recipe
  13. Pomegranate Martini Recipe
  14. Poinsettia Champagne
  15. Orange Cranberry Mulled Wine
  16. Warm Winter Rum Punch
  17. Cranberry Orange Moscow Mule
  18. Cranberry Orange Sangria
  19. Christmas Cranberry Sangria
  20. Holiday Eggnog
  21. Mrs. Claus’ Mint Cherry Martini
  22. Apple Pear Sangria
  23. Low-Cal Cranberry Margarita Recipe
  24. Cranberry Ginger Christmas Margaritas
  25. Hanukkah Punch
  26. Mulled Mixed Fruit Cider with Mandarins
  27. Best Ever Mexican Hot Chocolate Recipe
  28. Holiday Cranberry Mocktail

Also be sure to check out part 2: