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12. Build on your strengths

Photo by Jungwoo Hong; quote by Arnold H. Glasow

I know nothing about cars. I am not as bad as the chick who splashes oil onto the engine to “put oil in the car,” but I can’t tell you how to fix a car. I can help you change a tire, but that’s about it.

My husband, on the other hand, knows tons of stuff about cars, and how to fix them. He does most of the maintenance work for our vehicles, and people even call him for advice on their cars. Did I mention he is badass at fixing cars?

Everyone has their forte—most people aren’t good at everything. Find your niche and run with it—build off your strengths.

 I am a tea fanatic. I drink a lot of tea daily, and I have gotten into blending my own flavors (that hopefully one day I will sell on Teazzed). I wanted brewed tea instantly and in bottles that I could reuse over and over throughout the day, so I invented something to fill my need. I combined my love of tea with my love for inventing and ran with it. The business is still a work in progress, but I am having fun with the process.

I also like writing, which is one of the reasons I started this blog. It’s still going well, I think, and hopefully it will continue on.

Have fun with whatever you decide to pursue. Make the journey just as fun as seeing the end result.

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11. Slow times

Photo by Miguel Bruna; quote by Edwin Louis Cole

Sometimes things are just sloooow.

This is where patience comes in. This is why I have side projects going on with my main experiments. I haven’t found anything to be full steam all the time. Even prepping for my courses doesn’t take every second of the day. So my patience looks like I’m waiting on something, but in reality I am focusing my efforts on another project for the moment so I don’t have to constantly worry and fret over the thing I am waiting on.

Everything takes time. 99.9% of businesses aren’t built overnight. It took Edison over 1,000 times to try to get a light bulb to turn on. I guess the smartest person on the planet could answer questions and come up with solutions, but I bet they weren’t born the smartest person on the planet.

If everything happened right off the bat, more people’s businesses and ideas would be booming, and everyone would have their foot in the game. But reality is, everything takes time, and some people don’t want to wait. Most people love the end results, but they rarely hear about all the money spent and all the failed attempts to get to that end result.

 What are you striving for? What are you waiting on?

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8a. Not everything goes according to plan

Photo by Christian Fregnan; quote by MGSpear

So…that experiment I posted about a few posts back, hoping it would be the one that works. Here are the series of steps that have happened so far for this version of my project:                  

Step 1: For this particular experiment I am working with speakers, and I had to re-wire one set to my configuration. When cutting and stripping the wires, the wires broke, and I improvise the connections (I am sooo glad my husband has a ton of tools for me to use lol).

Step 2: I did the experiment, nothing worked, then found out one of the components I was using was defective, so I wait for a replacement.

Step 3: Finally got the replacement part in, and had the time to do the experiment. Experiment doesn’t work.

Step 4: Modify experiment and run it again. Experiment still doesn’t work.

Step 5: Back to the drawing board for further modifications. Come up with an alternative solution, but need a certain type of speaker. I order what I think I need and now I am waiting for it to come in.

It’s not necessarily a lot of steps, but it takes a while after being spread out so many days. This is how it is for most projects: it’s not a boom, boom, boom, you’re done type of schedule. Stuff comes up, parts get delayed, and sometimes you just don’t feel in the mood.

But I am not giving up yet. Tenacity and perseverance are an inventor’s best friends. This is one of my more long-term projects; this experiment comes from a long line of other experiments and research spanning 4 or 5 years now. But who knows? Maybe this year I will get lucky.

What are you working on, dear readers?

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8. Studying & Learning

Photo by Zhu Hongzhi; quote found on Pinterest

What do you think is important for a testing environment? An answer sheet? The test questions (of course)? Something to write with? A quiet room?

How about having studied ahead of time?

There really is something to be said for being prepared. Obviously, people absorb information in different ways; visually, auditory, or cramming at the last second, but I like the approach of taking as many notes as possible and going back to them when I have questions. I like to fully understand material, and it takes me a little longer to do that. If I have spent a lot of thought on a subject, then watch out, because I will talk your ear off about all facets of that topic if you let me.

And I love learning something new. I don’t know everything. I won’t pretend to know everything. Heck, I even tell my students I don’t have all the answers, and if I can’t answer their question, I will try to find the answer.

What’s important is that I prepare as best as I can about a subject, and learn more as I go. Learning is a lifelong process—this why we pay people for their experience. No one hires the two year old to build a house—you get the person that has the years under their belt, that know the issues that can crop up, and have a plan in place if something should happen.

I’m not the best inventor. I’m not the best in business. I’m not the best in blogging. But I am learning as much as I can, so hopefully I will build up experience, and someday, help other people in their pursuits.

What do you like learning about? What are you studying for in life?

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6a. Anticipation

Photo by Logan Fisher; quote by me.

As I was originally typing this there is was storm outside. I’ve always like rain storms—they can be peaceful and calming. It doesn’t bother our pets either, except one of our cats. He huddles in the hallway so I move his bed into the hallway to give him something to lay on.

I am doing an experiment later today or tomorrow—all my parts came in over the weekend. I am excited and nervous. What if this is the one? What if I have a major breakthrough?

I guess the more realistic question is, what will I learn from this experiment? What will I glean for future experiments? Will I be moving forward, or moving back to the drawing board?

I really like Schrödinger’s cat. That cat has two realities existing at the same time—success and failure. Failure has not happened yet, and success is still a possibility.

From the outside perspective, there is hope.

Of course, you have to open the box eventually. You have to do the experiment and work with the outcome.

Do you ever linger before doing something, thinking about the task before you, and if you will succeed? How do you prepare?

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6. Doing the MacGyver thing

Photo by Ashim D. Silva

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Thomas Edison

Remember how I said I want to start out on the right foot? Let me amend that a little: I want to start out on the right foot as frugal as I can. For my experiments, if I can’t order my materials cheaply to come up with a prototype, then I try to figure out another approach that would be cheap. I do not have a million dollar lab setup—I have a tool bench with drawers filled with random stuff I use for experiments. I never throw any of it away, in case I can use it for another experiment. So when I say I fund my experiments, what I mean is, that is what I spend my money on instead of shoes, purses, etc. I won’t work on anything that I can’t make affordable, so I don’t break the bank on one experiment. Plus I have worked it out with my husband: if he can spend money on car parts and plant stuff (he’s big into plants), then I can spend money on my experiment stuff.

I love a good deal. Same with business. I try to grow my business as frugally as possible and not spend money out the window. I want to learn for myself what works and doesn’t work, and not spend an enormous amount of money. As the business grows and more cash flow comes in, then I will expand out and try more avenues.

 Do you like doing things yourself? How do you handle expenses with your hobbies or businesses?

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5. Googling for information

Photo by Hans Peter Gauster; quote from Pinterest

I love to Google the heck out of a subject and learn as much as I possibly can. I love the internet for that reason: I can get details on a subject down to the nitty gritty levels, and glean as much as I can to formulate a hypothesis and start experimenting.

Mostly my big, long term experiments stem around science topics (I have spent 4 years so far on transportation and fuel research), but I do have smaller projects that crop up here and there that seem easier to do. That’s how the Quick Draw Straw came about—it was an offshoot project, and there were several prototypes. But in the end, it actually worked, and I was super happy (It’s nice to know that sometimes, an experiment goes right). I have other inventions and projects underway, but I won’t go into more detail because none of it is to the point where it can be patented—once I get the patent pending status on them I will definitely let you know.

Just like Googling for a project, I Google the heck out of business topics and glean information to run my business better. I am just starting out, but I want to start out on the right foot. Do you Google a lot to find information? Does another strategy work better for you?

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3. Things get better with time and experience.

Photo by Willian Justen de Vasconcellos; quote added by me.

I have been teaching for over 9 years now.

In the beginning, I was a little overwhelmed and spent every waking hour getting lectures ready, writing exams, and coming up with extra material on topics covered in case someone asked a question. Was I a good teacher? I was probably on the weaker side.

But as the years progressed, I blossomed, turned into a pretty good teacher, and now I am an organizational ninja with tons of questions, lectures, and topics to pull from for last minute projects. I would like to think I come across as funny when I lecture, but perhaps my students think I am too nerdy. Too bland; too isotonic.

I have been using my science knowledge and organizational skills to help me with experimenting and working my business. I invented the Quick Draw Straw that Teazzed sells (yes, it is patent pending). What is it based on that makes it work? Diffusion! Surface area! (more sciency stuff). Science is why the Quick Draw Straw works, and that you can make instantly brewed loose leaf tea, even cold brew, in under a minute (go visit http://www.teazzed.com for more details if you’re interested).

I also have been toying around with a side consulting business, along with some other business ideas. My goal is to help small business, entrepreneurs, inventors, etc., get started, with tools and tips, help with marketing, and perhaps showcasing products. Stay tuned dear readers :).

If you are a new teacher in high school or college, feel free to drop me a line on tips as how to stay organized or just teaching in general. Email me if you would like to set up a consultation. I am by no means a perfect, 100% awesome teacher, but perhaps my years of experience can give you some shortcuts on your teaching journey.