#gratefulAF challenge Passion Squared blog

The #gratefulAF challenge

In early 2007 I was in the darkest place I have ever been in my life. So much so, that I was planning my suicide. But here it is, 20 fucking 17… I am alive, living my purpose and empowering others to live their’s too. How did this happen? It all began with gratitude.

Of course, there is so much more to the story which I share in my book Follow Your Heart, but it was learning about the power of daily gratitude that made me realize that I had more to do on this planet, and that no matter how dark my head became, there was always something to be grateful for.

From there, I was able to keep perspective, and perspective allows me to get through just about any hardship, sadness or loss. It was this quote that changed it all for me, which is tattooed on my left arm to be sure i never forget that gratitude saved my fucking life.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie

November seems to be the month people remember to be grateful, so I decided to create a simple challenge for you and one I hope you invite your community + teams to join in too. It’s called the #gratefulAF challenge. Each day in the month of November I invite you to practice a little piece of gratitude.

Passion Squared #gratefulAF challenge art Insta

Here’s how it works…

1. Capture your gratitude in action
2. Post to Instagram page or stories
3. Use #passionsquared #gratefulAF
4. Tag @passionsquared /@ mention
passionsquared if posting in stories

Invite your community + team to join us!

Click here for the Instagram graphic
Click here for the Insta Story graphic

My intention is that after 30 days you will feel how much gratitude can change your perspective, your energy, your brain, your biz and your LIFE.

With love + a fuck ton of gratitude-
Nina @passionsquared

BTS of this blog + challenge
Total Time: 4 hours

Building the challenge
Developing the idea and daily themes 1 hour
Designing graphics on Canva.com 1 hour
Getting feedback + editing 30 min.

Building the blog
Writing 30 min.
Editing/SEO stuff 30 min.
Proof reading 15 min.
Designing graphics on Canva.com 15 min.

How to take a social media break Passion Squared hd

How To Take A Social Media Break and Why You Need One

As of this writing, I am in day three of an extended social media break. Why? I simply couldn’t breathe. I was losing it, and losing perspective, something I value and require as a creative small biz coach and empowerer.

As a leader, perspective is so incredibly important for you to have. It’s defined as “the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance”. And OMG how easy it is to lose in the era of social media.

“In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.” Bertrand Russell

 Let’s begin at the beginning. If you know me, you know I LOVE social media for it’s ability to empower creative humans; to build relationships, deepen understanding, create connections, and grow businesses. But, and this is a big BUT, it can also be exhausting, anxiety producing and one of the best ways to lose perspective if you are too deeply engaged.

The last few months have been heavy, with what seems to be gut wrenching suffering, pain and bad news. For some of you, like me, it’s become too much to process. There plenty of proof on the internet today that show the effects of social media on mental health. Check out this article.

Self awareness is key here. If you feel yourself getting more anxious than normal, angry, resentful or out of fucking control, it may be a sign that it’s time to take a break.

So what do we do? If you have an online business like me, how in the world do you disconnect? If you rely on social to build and grow your business, like most of you do, how can you take a break? Here’s how.

1. Decide on how long your break will be and what it looks like

This past week, I chose to take an extended break (at least 5 days), and with that, came the question… how will I care for my clients and be offline? Well, it’s been quite simple.

With two Facebook groups and hundreds of clients on Instagram, logging in does not mean I have to dwell in the news feeds, if fact, I have not even looked at them. Instead, I just log on and go straight to my A School and Social Beauty Intelligence Facebook groups, and it’s business as usual.

For Instagram, I simply log in and search my hashtag and then am able to engage with those who are choosing to use it, a good reminder of why a branded hashtag matters #passionsquared It’s a listening tool. And on my break I am able to still “listen” a bit and engage with my clients.

So this social media break was not 100% off the internet, this break was about removing myself from public dialogue, news feeds and content creation. Lastly, be sure you post that you are taking a break and how to get in touch during your break. No drama needed, just simple and direct. Here is an example of my post on Instagram, made with the GIFx app. Here is the Facebook post.

2. Create a system for unplugging, unfollowing, unsubscribing

This is what I see as maintenance mode. If we maintain a plan to unplug, we are less likely to be at a breaking point and need an extended break. The last year I have done a weekly “24 hours” off the social media. This is a full 24, sometimes 48 hours, in a row. This has helped immensely with perspective and has allowed me to simply take a rest. Try it. Start with 24, then see how you feel. Next thing to do is remember you have a choice on what and who you listen to and follow. Schedule time to unsubscribe from emails you no longer want, from people who are toxic, or simply from noise that doesn’t serve you.

3. Listen to your body and mind

This is the key and sometimes you are moving so fast, you do not even realize what is causing your agitation. In order to listen to your body and mind, you gotta slow down. And you have to take your power back. Drop the phone and pick up a book, have lunch with a friend, go on a Netflix binge, take a long walk, whatever.

4. Remember why you are on social platforms to begin with

Now this may be one of the most important aspects of maintaining perspective. If you have tapped into the power of social media for business, then your primary purpose for being on any given platform is to build relationships and solve problems with and for your target audience, your “people”. And I know how much time you spend watching and listening to people that are not your audience. This is a big problem as your energy becomes focused on what others are doing, then the comparison game begins, and we know where that leads. Most importantly, it is distracting you from your current and future clients. So STOP it. Just stop. You will find so much more joy and value when you refocus your energy where it belongs, on your tribe.

When you put these four steps into practice, there is no doubt you will be able to keep a better perspective on your biz and more importantly, on your life. You will be able to be more present for your clients, team, family and community. You will be able to breathe again.

Before we go, I wanted to share a few others insights from this break;

I miss my community.
Going back to the beginning of this blog, I LOVE social for all the good it brings, and a big part of that is community. And I love mine. And I miss you.

I miss listening.
Social listening is one of the most awesome benefits for an owner and leader. Why? When we listen, really listen, we learn. How do you know how to solve problems if you don’t even know what the problems are? How do you celebrate your clients in between visits when you have no clue what they are up to? This is one of my favorite things about social, listening.

Instagram engagement is WAY down
Over 80% drop in engagement in fact, and that’s the risk we take. But I also know that it will not take long to build it back up when I return. And since social is not my ONLY way of engaging clients (email marketing still matters!) this break has given me some time to be more thoughtful about my overall content strategy and how I engage with current and future clients. During this break I am also running a Facebook ad for a NEW class, and thus, Facebook engagement is actually up as is traffic to my website from Facebook.

As a leader, I have a responsibility, as do you, to maintain perspective, stay present and be the best I can be in order to serve you. And if that means a little social media break, so be it.

Thank you for all your love and support of this break, I see you, I hear you, I feel you and I love you. Now go schedule yours.

Love + Gratitude-
Nina @passionsquared

PS: As of this blog, I will be sharing some BTS info into how this blog was created. I hope you find value in this as you continue to work on content creation.

BTS for this blog post
Total Time: 3 hours

Writing, Editing, Proofing
The idea came to me a few days ago. From idea, I created a simple outline, about 30 min. From that, I began writing which took about an hour. Editing about 30 min. Graphics about 15 min. Final touches (re-reading, previewing, testing, tags, SEO stuff), about 15 min.

All made with Canva.com (my go to for all blog graphics)

Embedded Facebook post in blog (for WordPress)
Click on the (…) bar at the top right of your Facebook post and select the Embed option, then paste the embed code into your post in the “text” option of your blog post.

we are the media passion squared blog nina kovner

We Are The Media

“Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet just because there’s a picture with a quote next to it.” Abraham Lincoln (lol!)

Long before the election, fake news existed. Long before the internet, fake news existed. Long before social media, fake news existed.

Propaganda- One of the only things I remember from history class

One of the few things I remember from my early schooling was a term called propaganda. It is defined as information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view. Do you remember The War of The Worlds? If not, Google it. There is also something called “satire”, like The Onion, while not fake news, for those who do not understand it, it too can become a type of fake news.

Fake news is not news we do not like or agree with, it is actually FAKE, it’s fiction, it’s propaganda, it is simply untrue.

Remember The Infamous Facebook Hoax?

I continue to see many get angry with the media. Blame the media. Finger point at the media. Loves, WE ARE THE MEDIA now. With that, comes great responsibility. And sadly, this is no longer about that lame “Facebook disclaimer” hoax, god, I wish it was as simple as it was back then. But it’s not.

The Responsibility of Research

Doing your research takes but a moment. A moment of Googling, cross checking, and most important, thinking. Thinking of the implications and impact of your voice. Thinking of your sources. Thinking of the bias of those sources. Thinking of the credibility of those sources. Just fucking thinking.

Here are a few steps I take before hitting the share button;
1. Check Twitter for insight on “all sides” and sources
2. Check major publications (Crazy as it sounds, TMZ has proven to be a very reliable source for celebrity news)
3. Google it and again, check the sources behind the story
4. Snopes (I know Snopes is known as a “liberal” site, but whatever, they are usually right on)
5. Wait… This may be a tough one, but particularly with breaking news, I do my best to wait until I can get a more clear picture before commenting or sharing)

Every Action Counts

Every like, comment and share matters. Each time you take an action, you are publishing. You are influencing. You are spreading truth or you are spreading fiction. And as a business, you must remember your content is your marketing. Every action you take on behalf of your business is telling a story about your brand. Every single action.

No matter your views, beliefs, or politics, you can be part of the problem or part of the solution. As long as you are honest about your intentions.

Please, I beg you, take a step back and consider the implications of your actions. They all matter. And so do you.

With love, always- Nina ❤

Education and Change in the salon industry blog Passion Squared

So Much Education So Little Change

“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” Robert Frost

(This post was originally written on June 3, 2013. It has been updated, but the issue, sadly, is still real for many.)

When will you decide to take action on all that education you are consuming? Because the truth is, until you do, please do not expect any changes to occur. Change the system, change the result.

So many professionals arrive to education classes each day with the hopes of getting info on the latest and greatest products, tools, programs, and being inspired and motivated. And of course, grab a selfie with their hair heroes and sheroes. We’ve all been there. And it can be some of the best experiences of our lives.

My career began when I first attended the International Beauty Show in New York. The moment I stepped foot into the door, I knew my life would never be the same. Many of us have stories like that, and I never tire of hearing them.

Everyday in the pro beauty biz, there are shows, classes, workshops, academies, webinars, DVD’s and books to purchase. And everyday, beauty professionals from around the globe consume these educational opportunities.

But here is the dilemma. Not much has changed. After 30 years, I still see and hear so much of the same narrative, the same struggles, the same resentment.

Why are you investing so much in education and not seeing significant changes consistently? Why do hairdressers still struggle to make a living? Why do salons open with fanfare and close in silence and shame? It breaks my heart. But it is also why Passion Squared exists.

While the answers are not as simple as a blog post, here are some of the reasons I believe this cycle continues and what we can do to change it…

1. You Have A Taking Action Problem

As one that has worked in this beautiful biz my entire adult life, 30 years, is see a huge problem with owners and hairdressers actually taking action and following through. Yep, I said it. It’s quite common for us creative types, to be addicted to the inspiration and info, but not taking action on much of what we learn.

You have become addicted to obtaining knowledge, not to executing on the knowledge you are receiving. In order to change that, you must begin to fall in love with taking action. Or finding a partner in your biz that is in love with taking action. There is no way around it. Awesome businesses execute. They are consistent. They are in love with the fundamentals of what makes a business awesome. Period.

2. The Truth Is Technical Skills Include Business

Speaking of addictions, many are addicted to learning how to be better cutters, colorists and stylists and almost adverse to being better leaders, managers, business owners and brand developers. Being an awesome haircutter does not automatically make you an awesome biz owner (have you read the E Myth?). Having a big Instagram following does not mean you can build and grow a team, or coach others on how to build and grow. And if you are an independent artist, you are a business owner too. Drop the ego, stop thinking you know it all, and commit to learning what it takes to build and grow a business. If you are not into improving your business skills, don’t own a business.

3. Don’t Buy Into The Hype 

Many are in love and enamored with our product lines, manufacturers, distributors and those with big social media followings. You worship them. You spend thousands of dollars supporting them. How are they supporting you? How are they helping you increase traffic to grow your business? And let me remind you, just because someone can collect followers on social platforms does not mean they are a good business person, or have a good business. It simply means they have learned how to build followers. It’s not the same. Some actually do have an awesome business, but many do not. Don’t buy into the hype.

4. Get Focused AF

As a group, we are a fairly unfocused bunch. I include myself in all of this as I will only speak from my own experiences. We are so addicted to what’s next, we miss the opportunity to actually learn something, implement it, measure it, learn from it, and adjust it.

We move towards what we focus on and we can only focus on one thing at a time. Something to think about next time you sign up for a class, workshop and webinar. What is your plan for taking action on the ideas you learned? To measure the results? To adjust as you measure?

There is no getting around doing the work. And if you want to see a change, a real change in the results of your business, your skills and your life, there’s gotta be some type of plan and commitment to get focused. The first step to this is taking a shit ton of meaningless stuff off your to-do list. Just let it go. It’s not helping you.

5. Real Education Empowers

Education should empower the educated. It should awaken the student. It should create real change. Both the educator and the educated share responsibility for this.

This is why I created membership programs like A School and Social Beauty Intelligence.

I understand that all the problems above exist, and my solution it to not just inspire you for an hour or a day, but for the lifetime of your career.

You see, the more we can stay connected, the better chance you have of staying on track and reaching your goals. It’s really that simple. Each day I am so proud of the decisions my clients are making, because they have simply decided they want to make an impact by focusing on what matters and investing in long term growth.

My purpose is to empower the people that I love. That is the also the purpose of Passion Squared. I have a dream that one day, in my lifetime, beauty professionals will be awakened and empowered to make good decisions about their career and business, and earn a good living, consistently. Sadly, if we get honest with ourselves, this is just not the reality of our biz. It’s time to change that.

With love + truth- Nina @passionsquared

how to create a fundraiser passion squared

How To Create A Fundraiser + Give Back

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

Like many of you, my heart has been breaking since the news of Hurricane Harvey began rolling in. The images of so much suffering, pain, helplessness and loss. Images that most likely will stay with us forever.

But here is what I know to be true. There is way more good in our world than we realize. And it’s in times like this that we get to see it more than ever. Let us all remember that next time we feel like giving up on humanity.

Since I have been getting so many questions about how to create a fundraiser to help, I decided to create this blog, in hopes that it will give you some framework to create your event.

How To Set Up and Host A Fundraiser

Step 1- Purpose
Choose a cause/s to support and how you will support them. This can range from raising money through service and product sales, to tip collection or collecting items needed for a specific cause. Be sure to do your research on the cause as many are skeptical of charities focus and intentions.

Step 2- Enlist 
Enlist local businesses and community members to get their support. This can be asking for a location host, a refreshment donation, products, supplies and help getting the word out which will be a BIG part of a successful event

Step 3- Budget/Goal
Create some type of budget for the event and a goal of how much you want to raise or how many items you want to collect

Step 4- Communications + Social Media 
Gather all the details; cause, location, date, time, how to RSVP, contact info, etc. and create a graphic and share that with the group who has agreed to support promoting the event. For free events Eventbrite is a good tool to use to get an idea of how much interest there is.

Tap into the power of social media, as we have been reminded of this past week, it has the power to do many things, including saving lives. Use local hashtags and tag local businesses. This can create energy and discovery around your event. Be sure that everyone involved is using the hashtags.

Step 5- Responsibilities
Determine what you will need for the event including supplies, support staff, communications, marketing, payment processing, information on the causes, refreshment delivery, set up, clean up, etc. and who will be responsible. Make a list, and communicate!

Step 6- Delivering The Donation 
Determine how you will deliver the donations. This is really important when it comes to collecting items, think shipping, shipping costs, etc. If it is a monetary donation, decide the date the donation will be made and who will be making it

Step 7- Thanking Your Supporters 
Post event, tally up your donations and create a graphic/thank you’s to share your gratitude with all involved with your fundraiser and how they made a difference

Step 8- Gratitude
Be grateful AF that you have the means and desire to make a difference + have fun!

A big shout out to Sara, @prettycutanddry who lit this fire for us and to @cooperativesalon for creating space for us in So Cal to do something awesome for the people in need. I am so grateful to be part of a community that has such a passion for lifting up those around us.

Love + Gratitude-

If you are still looking for ways to support the victims of Hurricane Harvey, here are some causes I have researched and support.

And if you are feeling depressed and overwhelmed by all of this tragedy, click here to read a message I shared about that on Instagram.