May 9, 2018

The BIG 12: #BizChampion Takeaways

The traditional essay has an introduction, conclusion, and 3 body paragraphs. My favorite pastor on planet earth offers a 3-point sermon. It's common for presenters to offer 3 supporting details when making an argument. Ever wonder why?

As an educator, I usually follow this pattern as well because of a secret weapon known as chunking. In short, many learners retain vast amounts of information by grouping related information. Instead of recalling a long list of facts, the brain is better able to process categories of information.

In the spirit of college readiness, let's consider discussions about collegiate sports as an example. When distinguishing between players or schools, sportscasters and sports fans often communicate in terms of conferences. The conferences (e.g., PAC-12, BIG-12, SEC) are chunks of information. When we're first learning the names of schools across conferences, it's easier to chunk schools into larger conferences based on location. This also makes for smoother discussions. The Big 12 Conference is an example of one of the collegiate sports conferences; the name serves as motivation for this month's blog title. (I'm #OleMissAlum, so I'm partial to the SEC; however, 'The SEC #BizChampion Takeaways' doesn't have the same jenesequa, so I digress.)

Chunking Collegiate Sports Conferences (image credit in link)

I'm breaking the mold by offering the big 12 takeaways from the #BizChampion celebration in Reno, NV. National champions across various industries came together during the last days of April. Notably, a few sports gurus were in attendance. Each of the 102 winners of the 2018 American Small Business Championship networked with SCORE Mentors and guest experts during a two-day, jam-packed, high-paced, fun-filled event. The schedule of events began at 8am and ended at 8pm on both days.

Sessions topics included positive psychology, team synergy, marketing strategy, HR issues, preventative legal measures for entrepreneurs, and more. To top all this off, table discussions during meal times centered on even more opportunities for business and personal growth. We shared experiences: what's worked, hasn't worked, next steps, and unresolved challenges.

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1. Celebrate Successes
I've moved away from really celebrating client successes. It's common to say congratulations, but I'm not sure this counts as a celebration. With guidance from Tonya Ludwig, owner of 621Gifts, clients are in for a real treat during Back-to-School season. By celebrating small successes, we create a winning culture. Success begets success.

2. Listen More
One speaker mentioned that we're only as successful as the questions that we ask. (Forgive me for not noting the speaker's name and exact words.) In private, I prepared questions to ask; however, deeper conversations in person revealed even more valuable questions worth asking.

3. Give Often
Joseph Amato's story about becoming a business owner at age 16 is beyond inspiring. Though the point isn't to give with an expectation of receiving something in return, Joseph earned 50% of a small tanning business as a result of giving. Business strategy suggestions that he offered to a tanning salon owner turned an even greater profit than originally anticipated. Unbelievable.

4. Marketing Strategy
Have you considered mobile ads as part of your marketing strategy? The thought crossed my mind a number of times, but it wasn't until Reiva's evidence-based arguments that I became convinced to make a move. Somewhere between 95 and 97% of Americans own a cell phone, so chances are... my ideal client, your ideal client owns a cell phone and could be viewing our competition's ads right now.

5. Show Gratitude
Giselle Chapman's spiel about starting each day, each activity from a place of gratitude reminded me of the frequent gratitude journal entries made when I was first introduced to this practice years ago. This strategy works, so why was I creating less space in my life to keep it up? Giselle advised that we journal for five minutes, and I'm gaining momentum.

6. Sell Everywhere
Currently, only my books are available for sale on Amazon. I'm looking forward to offering TeachersPayTeachers activities for educators and parents by selling on Amazon as well. Making our products and services available on multiple platforms is a great way to deliver value to a larger audience.

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7. Copyright
Taking the time to copyright each project becomes overwhelming when there're so many irons in the fire. It was a relief to learn from Rocket Lawyer Founder Charley Moore that, whereas it's still a good idea to copyright original works, there's no requirement to do so since including the copyright designation is sufficient to protect our intellectual property.

8. Keep Looking
There is more than one way to skin a cat. If you think product costs are too high, keep looking for connections to get them down. Many small business owners take an innovative approach that allows them to offer lower prices. There's constant growth across industries, so we want to remain vigilant.

9. Online Presence
If everything Reiva Lesonsky shared is true, then my website is never going to be done... And, that's okay. Securing website ranking is like trying to hit a moving target. When we think our sites are optimized, consumer behavior changes the status quo so we adjust. Accepting that our websites are a work in progress is key to continuing to make progress.

10. Own It
Giselle also spoke on how stress in nearly unavoidable and that we're responsible for being intentional about coping with stress in healthy ways. Breathing exercises are a staple in my life, so I seek opportunities to introduce clients to this strategy. I'm excited to implement gratitude emails and explore more strategies for increasing the happy in my life and in my clients' lives.

11. Celebrate Others
There's pleasure in watching others win when you're confident that their wins don't take away from yours. This isn't an entirely original thought; it's a hodgepodge of advice obtained from mentors, both real and imagined. The #bizchampions are currently in competition. Still, we're celebrating one another and it feels great to see others doing great things, accomplishing more in their businesses.

12. Keep Growing
An introverted educator seems like an oxymoron, as does an introverted entrepreneur ( introverted author, not so much). The research for my most recent book, Cultivating Grit: An approach to increasing confidence, provided the foundation for entering the American Small Business Championship. Attending the conference provided an invaluable opportunity test my own theories presented in the book. We must continue to walk in our passions. Check out Cultivating Grit if you haven't found your passion or you're feeling stuck.

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Maybe you aren't a small business owner? Maybe you have zero desire to become an entrepreneur? These BIG 12 takeaways are intended to help readers establish a more balanced work-life dynamic.
If my BIG 12 is helpful for you, share this post with others in your network to encourage them as well.


About Jackson Education Support: Specialty areas include character development, literacy, math, and science. All ages welcome. We develop in-person and online solutions for educators, families, and learners globally. Read feedback, join the community, and learn more by visiting
You're also invited to connect with us on social media!

April 4, 2018

#JEsupport is a #BizChampion

I have really BIG news to share this month. At the end of 2017, I set a new blog schedule. Since my commitments to clients, health, and home life kept me from blogging as much I would've liked last year, I decided to write less often this year.

Interestingly in December, I was moved to write my second book, Cultivating Grit: An approach to increasing confidence. This project required quite a bit of writing (editing and revision) to complete. Still, I re-affirmed the agreement with myself to post blogs bi-monthly (instead of keeping the monthly schedule from before going on hiatus). I expected to smash the goal of writing only six blog posts in 2018. Well, so much for that plan...

Well, so much for that plan...

This isn't the rant of an unappreciative soul. It's exactly the opposite. I've been nearly bursting at the seams lately. Until a few days ago, I was unable to share this amazing news.

Jackson Education Support has been named a 2018 American Small Business Champion by SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors, with the support of Sam’s Club. We are so proud of this national recognition for our dedication to the success of our small business. Thank you for supporting the education firm and blog over the years and for helping us to achieve this distinction. This would not have been possible without YOU!

SCORE is rewarding us with a trip to a networking and training symposium, publicity and business mentoring. This summer, a judging panel of small business experts will select three Grand Champions from the group of 102 Small Business Champions, to be announced September 13 at the SCORE Awards Gala.

 I'm a #bizchampion!

Jackson Education Support (JE) exists to support the development of more independent learners of all ages. This mission is accomplished by implementing personalized in-person and online solutions for individuals and organizations. Our approach is unique because we leverage character development to affect cognitive development. We infuse social emotional learning objectives and subject area learning objectives in order to increase confidence and improve performance. What's more is that our 96% success rate evidences program effectiveness.

I launched JE in 2012. That's nearly six years of invaluable professional and personal growth. Still, supporting the learning goals of clients and team members doesn't feel like work. An opportunity for growth accompanies each new challenge. Actually, the fun is in the challenge.

A Word from SCORE CEO & Sam's Club VP

"SCORE congratulates and celebrates these 102 American Small Business Champions, who represent some of the best small businesses in America,” said SCORE CEO Ken Yancey. “We are proud to reward these passionate and hardworking entrepreneurs...”

"Supporting entrepreneurs has been a part of who we are for nearly 35 years," said Tracey D. Brown, Senior Vice President of Operations and Chief Experience Officer at Sam's Club. "...The 102 winners celebrated through the American Small Business Championship are excellent examples of how innovation, persistence and knowing your customers can help an entrepreneur overcome obstacles and we congratulate them on their accomplishments.”

This would not have been possible without YOU!

A Special Thank You for the JE Community

I would like to thank YOU for your continued support. We appreciate the opportunity to build relationships and broaden our impact on academic and character development outcomes. Jackson Education Support is committed to enriching our local and global community, and we look forward to many successful years ahead.
Specialty areas include character development, literacy, math, and science. We develop in-person and online solutions for educators, families, and learners globally. Read feedback and learn more by visiting You're also invited to connect with us on social media!

To learn more about The American Small Business Championship
and to view the complete list of Champions, visit

March 14, 2018

The Value in Cultivating Grit

In January, I returned from hiatus with a blog post on confidence-building strategies. The take-home points are that we (1) value mistakes and model healthy responses to failure, (2) encourage learners to focus on what they can do, and (3) maximize critically thinking opportunities.

Since we're in the thick of it, I'd be remiss if I did not also recap student strategies for less stressful testing. Testing season is an intense time for educators, learners, and parents. There're a number of ways to decrease stress and enter testing season with greater confidence. One of our guest bloggers shares four strategies...

  1. Review information daily
  2. Clarify gaps in learning
  3. Change daily habits
  4. Build endurance

There's a connection.

Confidence-building strategies and strategies for less stressful testing are linked by grit. When we cultivate grit, we learn (and teach others) to persevere over long periods of time. For instance, one confidence-building strategy is that we model healthy responses to failure. It's not likely that modeling a healthy response once is going to cut it. Dealing with failure in healthy ways requires a lot of personal growth initially.

Learner perceptions about failure can be deep-rooted. The more deeply rooted our behaviors and thoughts, the more exposure to new behaviors and thoughts we require before change happens. This is not only true of our response to failure; it's true of our response to challenge. Habits are hard to break if we aren't gritty about making the change. 

Students with low confidence and poor test performance behave and think in ways that are not self serving. We don't want to overlook environmental factors that obliterate a child's confidence in himself or leaves her ill-prepared to compete academically. We also don't want to nurture narcissism. For a moment, we want to highlight something that learners can do for themselves: cultivate grit.

Cultivating Grit: An approach to increasing confidence

Cultivating Grit: An approach to increasing confidence explores character development: grit, growth mindset, and motivation. I draw on personal and professional experiences as well as current research to share do-it-yourself confidence-building strategies with educators and parents. Cultivating Grit takes readers and listeners on a journey through an eight-part discussion with five reflection activities to be completed individually or as a group. The premise is that by helping learners increase confidence, performance improves in class and at home.

It's a journey.

Those who experience failure are erroneously viewed as lacking grit. Grit skeptics seem to think that persevering over time means that we never miss the mark, that we always get the "thing" we're passionate about... if we work hard enough. Though some focus on one goal, execute the plan, and live happily ever after, many more of us will have to work very hard at a number of our passions.

Sectors of society are afflicted with the "this is how we've always done it" approach to education and training, which is much too rigid for us to reap the benefits of all our talents. I encourage you to have a closer look at the opportunities we uncover by understanding and cultivating grit in our lives.

We've found that character development is the secret to student growth. Cultivating grit is an important piece of character education for educators and parents. Request your free download of Cultivating Grit today.

January 3, 2018

Unpack Confidence-building Strategies

I've been on hiatus, and it's great to be back in the blogosphere! Taking time away from blogging and dialing down other nonsocial business activities has allowed me to connect with people in unprecedented ways. Over the past year, I've dedicated more time than ever to building relationships. 

I launched a nonprofit, gave speeches, submitted my first federal program grant, scored grant and scholarship applications for a national competition, served as a coach, consulted with school administrators and counselors, developed an ACT prep program, and so much more. It's truly been a whirlwind of failures and successes since my last post.

Find a National Tutoring Association certified tutor.

In true edupreneur style, I record life lessons. This habit is beneficial as a contributor to the National Tutoring Association's Tutor Strategies of the Week blog. This partnership is phenomenal. The practice of summarizing teachable moments into compact, confidence-building strategies has revealed similarities among daily challenges that educators, parents, learners, and tutors overcome. 

Facing failure, remaining hopeful, and thinking critically are common barriers to success that leave us wondering should we go over it, around it, or through it?

Facing Failure
Learners pay attention to how we make mistakes. They pay attention to how we fail.
  • Do we admit our failures or try to cover them up?
  • Do we make our thoughts explicit?
  • Are we modeling the right ways to recover from mistakes, to fail forward?
​When we value mistakes and model healthy responses to failure, we nurture the same in those around us. One way I model a healthy response to failure for clients involves marking out wrong answers rather than erasing them. 

Erasing a mistake makes it easier to forget, which is often the goal. But, this approach can be counterproductive. Clients are discouraged from erasing mistakes on the whiteboard and on notebook paper. The reason: seeing the mistake encourages us to make different mistakes until we succeed.

 Jessica Lahey - The Gift of Failure

Remaining Hopeful
Shifting to a hopeful mindset (or growth mindset) following failure is challenging. This process requires grit, a concept I enjoy exploring with clients. So often we're sure the world is coming to an end due to a mistake, only to forget the details months later. 

We promote a growth mindset by encouraging learners to focus on what they can do. Help learners transition...
  • from "I don't know" to "Let's try this"; 
  • from "I can't" to "I can"; 
  • from "I'm not good at _____to "I can learn _____ with effort".
Model this. Make it a habit. Becoming gritty about adopting a growth mindset makes it easier to move from failure to failure without losing momentum. Explore more grit and growth mindset affirmations by creating your very own grit fish independently or as a group. The craft activity requires minimal prep time and is fun for all ages.

Grit Fish - A Grit and Growth mindset Craft Activity

Thinking Critically
Asking people to do something they don't know how to do is one of the quickest ways to earn an introduction to a their 'not-so-fun' alter egos. Without the proper resources, having the desire to complete a task may not be enough to get the job done. What are we to do when we don't know what we don't know? 

To help clients clear their paths during the learning process, we use a strategy called "wait time" (or "thinking time"). The goal is to match the pace of  learners. We want to wait while they think... but not too long. 

We want to check nonverbal cues like body language to discern appropriate times we should...
  • listen, 
  • wait quietly, or 
  • instruct.
​Allowing learners enough time to get uncomfortable without inciting frustration helps identify gaps in understanding. 
You're invited to explore more strategies by visiting the National Tutoring Association's website

Jackson Education Support (JE) offers fun and engaging learning experiences to learners of all ages. Specialty subjects include literacy, math, and science. We develop in-person and online solutions for educators, families, and learners globally. Read feedback and learn more by visiting