Regrouping After the Layoff – Lessons from Valerie JL Coleman

Valerie J Lewis Coleman Pen of the Writer

“How I Survived the Demise of Dayton’s Automotive Industry”

I recently had the opportunity to interview Valerie JL Coleman, bestselling author, award-winning publisher and motivational speaker.

“After a twenty-six-year engineering career with Delphi Automotive Systems (formerly General Motors), the plant closed and my position relocated to Mexico. Since that time, I have embarked upon full-time entrepreneurism and adjunct teaching. My business, Pen of the Writer, was created to write and publish books, and position me as an expert on the topics of my books. As of today, I have launched careers for scores of authors including almost fifty high-school students. The transition has not been easy as the loss of my job represented 65% of our family income,” says Ms. Coleman.

In our exclusive interview, Valerie shares some of her experiences, how she overcame the financial and emotional challenges to fulfill her dreams.

Here are some of the highlights from our talk:

About the Layoff

You know the layoff is coming if you pay attention to the signs.  When the company starts to “downsize” the number of buildings in your area, and the manpower starts to shrink, you know it’s time to get prepared.

About Security

Working for yourself takes away the so-called security of a steady paycheck.  With the drop in income, you no longer have the discretionary money to spend on things like clothes and trips.  You start to fear how you will pay the mortgage this month.  Until you build up your business, there will be some lean times.  Build up some savings in the bank to get you through.  On the flip side, you start to see the intrinsic rewards you get from helping others.  That’s what keeps you going.

About Hard Work & Time Off

Valerie’s job in the automotive industry was in a factory environment, male dominated with a strong union presence.  She was an engineer with 26 years of experience, so the hours were long but the work was familiar, somewhat routine, and not very stressful.  As an entrepreneur, you don’t need permission to take off from work and you can do what you want when you want, but there is always something to do and you will work even harder.

About Focus

Choose one thing & stay focused on that one thing.  Valerie allowed herself to get off track initially by focusing on the needs of a music artist for the first 2-3 years instead of what she intended to do.  Without a written business plan, she wasn’t confident in her plan and got pulled into what we call the “shiny object syndrome”.  Today she uses a daily mentoring program and an accountability partner to keep her on track.

About Business

Figure out what part of your business is the most time consuming and whether you can outsource it.  Measure your sales to learn which products are the most profitable and focus on those.

Before You Start Out

Learn everything you can about the business you want to be in.  Look at the competition, what the market price is for your products, and determine what it is that sets you apart.   You also need to have a support network, get out there and network and join professional groups.

These are just a few of the highlights from our interview.  Valerie is a very lively and entertaining speaker and I recommend you listen to the whole interview. You can get a copy on our podcast or download it from iTunes by searching for “Mojo Solutions”.


Regrouping After the Layoff – Lessons from Valerie JL Coleman

Simple Morning Routines that Can Change Your Life

good morning routinesDoes this sound like your typical day?  You wake up to a blaring alarm clock, maybe hit the snooze button once or twice, and wake up at the last possible moment to get yourself ready and out the door on time.  You stumble out of bed to start the coffee and hit the shower.  After that, you rush to get dressed, maybe also rushing your kids out the door, and grab some fast food breakfast on the way.  You fight your way through the traffic, or perhaps the crowds on the subway, and by the time you get to work, you’re exhausted.

Lack of physical exercise, poor eating habits, no exposure to bright light, dependency on caffeine, and all that rushing and tension contribute to a decrease in metabolism, low energy and high stress.

How you wake up in the morning sets the tone for the whole day. In fact, Brian Tracy has compared the morning as “the rudder of the day”.

Highly successful people, those who seem to be able to do more, achieve more, and have better health, have a completely different routine.

There are 4 components you should implement in your morning ritual:

1)       Drink water.  Your body is dehydrated when you wake up, and drinking water helps to fire up your metabolism and increase energy at a cellular level.

good morning routines

2)       Move your body.  Ever watch a cat when it first wakes up?  It takes a luxurious stretch before ever even considering moving.  Start your day with a  long, full body stretch before you even get out of bed.  Once you do get up, exercise.  Some people may start their days with a full exercise session at the gym or a morning run, but if you are not used to such intensity then start with a few easy steps.  Take a walk, do yoga, swim, or maybe just a few simple movements to start.  The point is to get your body moving and start burning fat.  You should do some form of exercise within an hour of waking up and this will start the momentum for activity for the day.  As added benefits, you burn more fat when you exercise in the morning and you will be more likely to stick with your exercise routine.

3)       Eat a healthy breakfast.  We all know this is the most important meal of the day, yet 30% of us skip breakfast.  The rest of us usually grab something quick and usually not healthy. Take the time to fuel your body with a healthy breakfast and your energy levels will increase.  It is also proven that eating a healthy breakfast is a critical component for weight loss as well.   Start to experiment with quick options, such as a high-protein, nutrient dense shake.

4)       Engage in quiet time. You should put aside quiet time by yourself to focus on your goals and your intentions for the day.  What is it that you want to accomplish today?  Many are believers in meditation and journaling as well.  This is probably the most difficult change to make, since so many of us are not used to spending time quietly and deeply in thought.  I prefer to spend this time outdoors, since so much of my day is spent indoors I get energized by giving myself some time to look out at the lake, watch the sky brighten and hear the birds that are so abundant in my yard.

Consider the person who rushes through the morning and arrives at work only to take the next 30 minutes to an hour getting a cup of coffee, catching up with coworkers, checking email and figuring out what they need to do for the day.   This person is reacting to the immediate activities and “busy-ness” that makes up a typical workday.  The person who has taken the time to energize themselves in the morning and spent the time focusing on goals and intentions for the day will arrive at work ready to get right to the most important activities of the day.  This person has figured out what the most important use of their time is, and will achieve more over and over again every single day.

morning commute

Now let’s talk about that commute time.  Depending on whether you are driving or taking public transportation, you may currently spend this time listening to the radio, reading the paper, or perhaps chatting with fellow commuters.  A better way to use this time is to listen to inspirational or educational audio programs.  Load up your mp3 player with a book on tape, or a recording from a seminar, and use this time to expand your knowledge.  It is said that, “the more you learn, the more you earn.”  The average American reads only 1.5 books per year, yet they will watch 35 hours of television in a week!  Think of the amount of knowledge you can gain by using your commute time to listen to an audio version of a book.  You can rise well above the average with this one simple step.

Even choices that seem small can make a big impact.  Start by rising 15 minutes earlier each day.  Plan your breakfast to include healthier options.  Stretch.  Rather than make a drastic change all at once, give yourself time to build a new morning routine gradually so that you will stick with it.

Changing your morning routine will change your life.  It is that powerful!  Pay attention to how you start your day and begin to make small changes until you have formed these new habits.  What changes can you make?

Control the Power of Words and Skyrocket Your Self-Esteem

The power of words, especially those words we say to ourselves without even consciously realizing it, are the single most important factor in influencing your belief in yourself and your self-esteem.  Did you know that our brains are continuously thinking at a rate of 1500 thoughts per minute, and it is estimated that fully 80% of those thoughts are negative?

The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, while the Positive Word Dictionary contains entries for 1,800 words.   It is any wonder that we are bombarded with negative messages when our language itself is only 1% positive?

Dr. Masaru Emoto, a pioneer Japanese researcher, documented an astonishing study that thoughts and feelings affect physical reality by photographing water molecules after they had been exposed to music as well as written and spoken words.   The water molecules exposed to positive words, such as those expressing gratitude, were beautifully formed, while those exposed to negative words were badly misshapen.  He has proven that human vibrational energy, thoughts, words, ideas and music affect the molecular structure of water, the very same water that comprises over seventy percent of a mature human body.

power of words

Heavy metal music

power of words

Beethoven's Pastorale








power of words

You make me sick

power of words

Thank you







Your health, your self-confidence and your success are all impacted by controlling the message playing in your head.

Tell yourself you are a failure.  You will notice your shoulders slump, your eyes dart away, and your voice is a mumble.  Bosses have a way of pointing out all your shortcomings and mistakes, and telling you about the weaknesses you need to work on.  One statistic says that the average employee hears 8 negative messages for each positive one.  Is this a way to inspire? Of course not!  That is why so many people working for someone else end up becoming more and more dissatisfied with their jobs and their lives, but don’t do anything about it.  The negativity drains their energy and eventually will impact their health as well.

Now tell yourself, “I can do it!”  Stand up straight, pull your shoulders back, look directly at yourself in the mirror and speak loudly and clearly.  Do you feel the difference?  Now do this over and over until you believe it.  This is one of the most powerful things you can do for yourself.  If you have employees working for you, find ways to emphasize their strengths, not their weaknesses.  If any corrections need to be made, do it in a positive manner.  Psychology 101 says that all negative messages should be “sandwiched” between two positive ones.  This 2:1 positive ratio is a far cry from the 1:8 that most managers use.  It is common wisdom that “what you focus on expands”, so doesn’t it make more sense to focus on strengths rather than weaknesses?

You have to consciously retrain your brain to think positively.  Learn to recognize when the message is negative, and reframe it immediately in a positive manner.

I once had a conversation with a woman who had left her job to become a life coach, and she stated that she knew plenty of people who needed her help but were not willing to hire her.  Her opinion was that these prospects were just not willing to spend money on improving their lives.  Now, I tend to be an empathetic listener, so when she said that, I didn’t disagree with her.  Later on, I found myself saying this very same thing out loud to my husband.  What happened here?  I had no basis for this belief other than hearing it from someone else, yet it seemed to become part of my belief system.  I had let her experiences shape my own.  The power of words is such that you have to counteract every negative statement with a positive one.  In this particular instance, I transformed the statement from this:

“Prospects are not willing to spend money on improving their lives.”

To this:

“Prospects are not willing to spend money on improving their lives until they are clear on the benefits and transformation a coach can bring into their lives.”

You can see how the first statement is a limiting belief, while the revised version is more inspirational.  It lays the groundwork for positive actions that you can take if you want to achieve the result of getting people to invest in improving their lives.

Words are so powerful they can change lives.  Control your words, both those in your head and those said out loud and you will notice a major improvement in your self-esteem and your confidence levels.

Here’s my challenge for you:  Pick one person in your life that is very important to you – your spouse, your child, your best friend, whoever – and for the next week carefully control every word you say to him or her so that the messages are only positive.  Compliment them, lift them up with positive encouragement, show your gratitude by saying thank you, and come back here in a week’s time to tell us how this work