Book Review: “The Art of War for Small Business” by Becky Sheetz-Runkle

The Art of War for Small Business: Defeat the Competition and Dominate the Market with the Masterful Strategies of Sun TzuThe Art of War for Small Business: Defeat the Competition and Dominate the Market with the Masterful Strategies of Sun Tzu by Becky Sheetz-Runkle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are a lot of advantages to running a small business over a larger one, though often small business owners may feel overwhelmed when they try to keep up with the big players. The Art of War for Small Business by Becky Sheetz-Runkle, uses “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu as its inspiration.

Sheetz-Runkle is experienced in martial arts and in business leadership, and she lends her expertise to this guide for the small business owner.

Included in her book are 12 lessons, which include directives on how to understand your market, how to understand your competition, how to build alliances and how to maintain your focus.

She’s also added examples of various successful businesses such as Five Guys, Wegmans, Samuel Adams and Paychex.

At the conclusion she’s listed key themes from The Art of War, and tied them back to actions the small business owners can take as they grow their companies. This is a reference book that readers will refer to over and over again, since these lessons are as timeless as Sun Tzu’s classic. (Received a review copy.)

Amazon Link:
The Art of War for Small Business: Defeat the Competition and Dominate the Market with the Masterful Strategies of Sun Tzu

How to Spend Less Time Struggling (and Make More Time for Joy)

2644050292_27c471f1e5_b“We find what we are searching for – or, if we don’t find it, we become it.” – Jessamyn West

Have you ever wondered if there’s something you “should” be doing with your life? Perhaps the job you’ve been in for years isn’t really what you want to be doing.

The career you were once so excited about is now going nowhere. The passion you once felt for your business has burned out and now you’re reluctant to try something new.

Some people have always known what they wanted to do. But I suspect most people have no idea what would make them happy. They’ve become used to not feeling anything at all, and go through their lives like sleepwalkers.

We can spend a lot of time struggling against the current because we believe that things have to be difficult. If they’re not difficult some people will create drama to make them that way. There’s a belief that overcoming obstacles earns you extra points, and it does have a way of teaching you things that can help you in life. But, struggle for the sake of struggle is not very instructive.

There has to be a point where you ask if perhaps you’re struggling because you’re doing the wrong thing.

If you’re looking for your purpose, consider what you enjoy doing. What comes easy for you? Chances are the things that are easiest for you are related to your purpose. Is there something that people always ask you to help them with? What brings you joy? Yes, I said joy. That feeling isn’t just for special occasions.

Unfortunately so many of us are content to spend most of our lives in compromise, settling for “almost good” or “better than nothing” because we don’t feel we deserve better.

Or we’re not sure what we really want because we’re not connected to our inner needs and desires. We turn off those whispers by working too much, drinking or engaging in other behavior that will cover up our feelings of dissatisfaction.

Your purpose is what you say it is. It’s what makes you come alive. For years I worked in the corporate world putting in long hours and planning my career. Then one day that career path went away as changes rocked the company and put our jobs in jeopardy. I had to think about making my own decisions and not letting them be made for me by default.

It took me a while to come to terms with what I wanted, years as a matter of fact. All I had to do was let go of the struggle and listen to what had always been calling me.

Deep down you know what you want, all you have to do is get quiet and listen.

Copyright © 2010 – 2015 Deborah A. Bailey

Photo Credit: slimmer_jimmer via Compfight cc

From: Think Like an Entrepreneur: Transforming Your Career and Taking Charge of Your Life.

Book Review: The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel

The Life IntendedThe Life Intended by Kristin Harmel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very interesting story about a woman who begins to experience flashes of the life she might have had with her husband, who died years earlier. As the flashbacks continue, she’s led to a different type of life and meets various people who are leading her on a journey to self-discovery.

Kate Waithman switches back and forth between her real life with her fiance, Dan, to her “might have been” life with her dead husband Patrick. For me, as the story went on, I found myself much more interested in her dream life than in her real one. The connections between her and Patrick were so loving and I wondered how long it would take for her to wonder why she was making certain compromises in her real life.

Very richly detailed, especially when dealing with Kate’s experiences with music therapy and working with deaf children. Though I had an idea how things would turn out in her love life, the revelation at the end was unexpected. I enjoyed the story, while at the same time I felt that some things fell into place a bit too neatly. (Received a review copy.) link: The Life Intended

Book Spotlight: “Graced with Orange” by Jamie C. Amelio

In her book, Graced with Orange, author Jamie C. Amelio shares a life-changing encounter that changes her life and leads her to found Caring for Cambodia (CFC).
It all began with a dollar. When Srelin, an eight-year-old Cambodian girl approached Jamie C. Amelio and asked for a dollar so she could afford to go to school, Amelio was skeptical. Was this just another beggar’s ruse?
Amelio was visiting Cambodia for the first time, and was shocked by the poverty. Entire villages lacked plumbing or electricity. And this child wanted a dollar for
school?  A doubtful Amelio told Srelin that if she would take her to visit the school, she would give her the dollar. What Amelio found at that school changed her life.
Read an excerpt:

“After lunch Samedi drove Virginia, Amanda, and me to Srelin’s school in the small village of Kravaan. A large, rusty wrought iron fence with yellow columns buttressing a swinging metal gate led to a complex of three buildings, one of which was a small, low-roofed, shack-like structure. Somehow Srelin knew I had arrived because out the door she came running up to us, exclaiming, “Oh, you’re here! You’re here!” like I was a favorite aunt she hadn’t seen in months.

I asked Srelin to show us her classroom, so she walked us back into the building, which up close we could see wasn’t much more than four walls and a ceiling. She opened the door to reveal what must have been seventy- five children of all ages crammed into a small room. They were sitting on benches under narrow tables, three to five kids to a table. The school was so crowded that children were literally sitting on top of one another. Every time a child stood the dust from the dirt floor billowed upwards. I had to force myself to stop thinking about the Peanuts character Pigpen, trailed by a cloud of dirt wherever he went.

Thousands of dust particles sparkled in the rays of sun that shone through the windows, unobstructed except for thick steel bars. I was told the bars were to prevent break-ins, although what someone might want to steal I couldn’t imagine. Even with the bars the building didn’t seem particularly secure. I wondered how children could learn in this jail-like setting and marveled at the irony that they had to pay for it.

The moment I walked into the room the children went completely silent, with all eyes on the three foreigners. I said hello and they bowed their heads, offering polite “Hellos” in return.

Looking around further, I realized there wasn’t a teacher in front of the class. “Where’s the teacher?” I asked Srelin.

“I don’t know if teacher come today. Sometimes don’t come.”

Remarkably, without supervision, the children just sat there, talking quietly, waiting for their teacher to arrive. Srelin explained that they would stay there all day because that’s what they had been told to do.

“Do you have any kind of workbooks to read or lesson plans to follow while the teacher is absent?” I asked Srelin.

She looked at me blankly, but the fact that she didn’t understand the question gave me my answer.

“Where are the school supplies?”

She pointed to the front desk, which had small pieces of broken pencils. “We get one pencil,” she told me. “We break it. We share it.”

The teacher never did show up that day. Virginia, Amanda, and I stayed a few hours, walking the grounds with the school principal. With Samedi as translator, I asked how I could help.

“What do you need the most?” I asked.

“Paper and pencils,” the principal told me. I kept asking him questions, and in return I received my first introduction to the Cambodian public education system. It wasn’t the last time I would learn that the bureaucracy was sorely inefficient and often corrupt. Teachers, I learned, were supposed to receive a salary from the Cambodian government. Sometimes they did, often they did not, and even when they did it only amounted to about $25 a month. That was not a livable wage, even in a country as poor as Cambodia, so the teachers asked the children to supplement their incomes.

By the time we returned to our hotel something in me had changed. My heart and head had been turned topsy-turvy in a single day. I couldn’t sleep that night. Perhaps I was naïve, but I couldn’t get my mind around the idea that I lived two hours away in a country with everything I could possibly need while a mere two hours away children were trying to learn in an environment like the one I had just seen. This was simply not okay with me. People could do better. People like me could do better.”


Jamie C. Amelio is the founder and CEO of Caring for Cambodia (CFC), a non-profit, non-governmental charitable organization which has dramatically changed the lives of more than 6,400 Cambodian children. CFC started in 2003 with the goal to provide Cambodian children education by building a school in the Siem Riep area. That initial goal of one school has grown into a mission to secure a better, brighter future for those children and so many more! CFC positively impacts not only the students but their families and the community.

The organization continues to build on the initial premise that every child deserves an education by supporting existing schools, building new ones in the same district and implementing teacher training along with identifying mentor teachers.

Jamie is a three-time recipient of the prestigious “Golden Hand Service Award” bestowed by the Cambodian government (2005, 2010, 2012) to those who give outstanding service to the Cambodian community. Known as “The Lawn Mower” because she never lets grass grow under her feet, Amelio was a dedicated volunteer with various organizations long before beginning the Caring for Cambodia project detailed in Graced with Orange. She and her husband, Bill, lived in Asia for a decade. They now make their home in Austin, Texas with their six children, including two from Cambodia, all of whom understand the importance of “Being Orange.”


Why You Have to Give Up Control to Get What You Really Want

16109219490_4807e36e40_b“Do your best until you know better. Then when you know better, you do better.” – Maya Angelou

Have you ever felt stuck in the same job situations, relationships or financial circumstances?

Do you feel like you’re going through the same things over and over?

When you live in the state of “what was” you’ll always repeat the same experiences.

How do you break free?

Be open to new things coming into your life. But don’t assume that you’ll have control over how they’ll come. Letting go of control is the hard part, though.

When you’re open the universe can work freely without being held back by your limited expectations.

Think about it. If you judge every new situation by what happened in the past, how can anything new enter your life? If it’s new and unfamiliar, there’s no past experience to base your expectations on.

Unfortunately, for some of us the unknown and unfamiliar must be bad. For some people anything foreign is instantly rejected. Not because it’s negative, but because if they can’t fit into their existing paradigm, they can’t deal with it. Or they react in fear or even anger.

Maybe you’re afraid that the new job, love interest or financial windfall is really too good for you. It’s so different than what you’ve had, so it must be a mistake. It can’t be real. So to protect yourself, you push it away. That way you won’t be hurt when it fails.

That’s how people sabotage relationships, job and business opportunities, financial wealth, weight loss–you name it. Instead of moving forward into something new, we hold on to the familiar patterns.

Even if the old habits don’t work, we keep doing them–all the while expecting a different result.

The person you are today is because of all the stuff you went through before. The good and the bad. Don’t beat yourself up about what you “should” have done. You did the best you could with the knowledge you had at the time.

Create a vision of what you want, and don’t shut out the new and unfamiliar. Be willing to take a chance on something that you’ve never done before.

Learn from the past, but don’t stay stuck there.

Copyright © 2015 Deborah A. Bailey

Photo Credit: zen via Compfight cc

Based on a chapter from: Think Like an Entrepreneur: Transforming Your Career and Taking Charge of Your Life.

Book Review: The Power of the Heart: Finding Your True Purpose in Life

The Power of the Heart: Finding Your True Purpose in LifeThe Power of the Heart: Finding Your True Purpose in Life by Baptist de Pape

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is not only a beautiful book visually, but the words, contemplations, interviews and quotes are just as beautiful. It shows how we can use the power we have within us-within our hearts-and expand it out into the world.

This is a book I will refer to when I’m looking for uplifting reading, or when I need to unwind from the stresses of the everyday world. Certainly a book that belongs on the shelf of anyone who follows and is enriched by spiritual topics. (Received a review copy.)

The Power of the Heart: Finding Your True Purpose in Life on


3 Martin Luther King Jr Quotes that Inspire Me

Like a lot of people, I collect quotes. I use them in my non-fiction writing and sometimes in my fiction. These are 3 quotes by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. that have inspired me to be my best self.

faith2“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

The first time I saw this quote was in the movie, The Secret.

It stuck with me and it’s become one of my favorites of all the quotes I’ve collected. (I also included it in my book, Think Like an Entrepreneur: Transforming Your Career and Taking Charge of Your Life.)

If you’ve ever been indecisive, or unsure about what to do next, this speaks to you. And who hasn’t ever been in that situation?

When you’re at a point where you feel the next best step, but you’re still afraid, this quote says: take the chance. Take the step. Believe that it’s the right next thing to do. Have faith even though you don’t know how it will manifest.


“If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” MLK2

So what if you can only take small steps, or you don’t have as much money as you’d like, or you’ve got some other issue that you’re dealing with–don’t stop moving towards your goal.

At times when things seem really tough, this is a powerful quote. To me it says, yes, things are going to be tough. You’ll feel like shit. You’ll be exhausted and worn out. You’ll want to quit. But don’t. Even baby steps are steps forward. Whatever you do, keep moving.


MLK3“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

There have been times when I’ve been tempted to fight fire with fire.

To be just as rude, snarky and mean as the person who’s pissing me off. To just wallow in the mud with people who get joy out of trying to pull me down to their level.

But at the end of the day, it’s not going to work. Getting down and dirty with people like that isn’t going to make them stop. Meeting hate with hate isn’t going to fix them. But it is going to change me into someone I don’t want to be.

Stand up for yourself, but do it from a place of self love. Be a light, if you can, by staying connected to the truth of who you are. By staying in integrity. Is it easy? Hell, no. But  is it more important to be right, or to do what’s right for you?



“Emergence: Seven Steps for Radical Life Change” Book Review

Emergence: Seven Steps for Radical Life ChangeEmergence: Seven Steps for Radical Life Change by Derek Rydall

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A perfect book for those who want to merge practical action steps with metaphysical principles. Author Derek Rydall is not shy about sharing his own journey, and never sets himself up as a “guru.” His examples
are very much rooted in the real world, and understandable to anyone who’s searching for more meaning in their lives.

His “Seven Stages of Emergineering” gives the reader a blueprint on how to work through the process. The stages include visioning, creating a plan, and acting “as if” the conditions you desire are already in your life. He includes exercises and meditations to assist you along the way.

I’ve read a lot of self-help books, and this one stands out. Rydall’s sincerity and belief that a better world is possible through self understanding, made this especially inspiring.

One of of the most helpful sections was where he discussed how to deal with habitual behaviors. When we’re in a rut it can be hard to get out and make positive changes. Because of this, I found his sections on “kicking old habits” and “finding your emerging edge” to be incredibly motivational. This is the type of book you’ll pick up time and time again. (I received a review copy of this book.)

See this book on



3 Things to Do Instead of Making New Year’s Resolutions

6781673594_e6daa1582d_bIt’s a New Year and it’s tempting to create yet another list of resolutions.

But there’s a better way. How about giving this a try instead…

1. Decide What You DON’T Want This Year

Years ago I wrote down a bunch of goals for myself. Needless to say, the sheer number of them ended up overwhelming me, and I didn’t end up getting many of them achieved.

So instead of getting lost in goals and more goals, start by deciding what you want to eliminate from your life. Not sure where to begin? Make a list of the things you don’t want to experience this year — or ever again.

I saw a joke that said, “my resume is filled with things I never want to do again.” Once you decide what you don’t want for 2015, what  behaviors can you change right now?

How about things like getting out of a dead-end job, paying down credit card debt, or adding exercise to your life? It could be as simple as sending out a resume a day. Or networking with one new person a week. Or taking a daily walk, or picking a healthy food choice.

Decide what you want to release in your life, then pick one thing you can do to reinforce that.

2. Write it Down

Maybe you’re really not into journaling, and if not, that’s okay. But writing down what you don’t want will help you get your desires out of your head and into reality.

For instance, if you want to reduce credit card debt, list the actions you can take to get started. If you write down something like,  “stop impulse buying,” you’ve identified something you can stop doing right away.

Instead of writing down a goal and having no idea how to reach it,  you now have an action step to take.

3. Keep It Simple & Don’t Dwell on the Past

Unfortunately, having a long list of things we don’t want can be just as oppressive as holding on to a list of goals we’re always stretching to reach. Keep it simple by starting with the items that you feel are the big irritations in your life.

It takes a while to get used to new habits. And in my opinion, it takes a hell of a lot more time than the 21 or so days it’s “supposed” to take.

Forget about what hasn’t happened in the past. That’s over now. Be willing to take baby steps. No matter how small the action, you’re still making progress.

Remember, we’re always reinventing ourselves, not only at the beginning of the year, but throughout our lives.

*A few years ago I wrote a post for Working World Magazine about taking what you don’t want, and creating goals for the New Year. This post is based on that article. If you want to read the original, check it out here: “Get off the Goal-Setting Treadmill” in Working World Magazine.

Copyright © 2015 Deborah A. Bailey

Photo Credit: nicola.albertini via Compfight cc

Stop Waiting for Permission to Live Your Life

download“Most people are not really free. They are confined by the niche in the world that they carve out for themselves. They limit themselves to fewer possibilities by the narrowness of their vision.” -V.S. Naipaul

Have you ever shared an idea or a plan with someone, only to have them tell you that it wouldn’t work?

Or maybe you were told that you were crazy or had no common sense.

I’ve had that experience many times over the years, usually when I’ve mentioned my writing.

I’ll usually hear things such as: “books don’t make any money” or “writers don’t make any money” or “you’ll never be as successful as…” Fill in a famous writer’s name.

I think there are two reasons for this. It could be because the feedback is reflecting my own fears of being a writer.

Or it could be that the people giving the feedback have compromised and set aside their own dreams.

When you have a strong desire for something the next step is to create a vision for what you want. You have to see it and want it so much that there is no settling for something less. You’ll also be less likely to be sidetracked by “well meaning” people who will share their opinion (whether you ask for it or not).

When we’re not really sure what we want we can end up conflicted and frustrated. Any opinion will seem better than our own, and we’ll be locked in an internal struggle between what we desire and what we think we should do.

While all this is going on, our dreams will fade into the background as we accept limitations and focus on more “practical” avenues.

Are you prepared to look back on a life of compromise and “what might have been?” Do want to live with the regret that accompanies missed chances? Stop listening to people who feel it’s their duty to tell you what you can’t do.

Some people will discourage you because they didn’t have the courage to step up themselves. Listen to them at your own risk.

It’s time to stop hiding in the shadows. It’s time to live out loud.

Copyright © 2010 – 2014 Deborah A. Bailey

Excerpted from Think Like an Entrepreneur: Transforming Your Career and Taking Charge of Your Life.