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Three Biggest Networking Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make That Cost Them Referrals

In recent years, the impact and importance of networking became even more evident and, for most business owners, this awareness did not always translate into additional business for the time that was invested. Networking for referrals can be the most cost effective way to build a business, yet most people miss 80% of the referral business they could get due to several mistakes made when meeting a potential referral network. 

“Networking is easy, but not necessarily simple,” advises Debbra Sweet, a leadership performance coach. “In fact, effective networking, whether online or in person, requires skills to produce the results you want that lead to getting referrals and new clients and ultimately increase revenue.”

Sweet is a Certified Trainer of Strategic Word of Mouth Referral Networking and she’s been teaching business owners her unique skill set for over 25 years and led businesses to produce over $54 Million in closed revenue in the San Diego area in one year.

“Since online networking often edges out in person meetings, it’s very evident that we are actually more disconnected than ever on how to be effective with our networking time,” she says. “Many professionals are wonderful at what they do, but that does not make them great networkers. Effective networking needs new skills, insights and clarity of intention for results.”

A global survey that Sweet took part in found that 91% of people agree that networking is the largest factor to business growth, yet the soft skills required to network effectively are rarely taught, leaving a gap of knowledge on how to network to get referrals and ultimately build a bigger business.

Debbra Sweet says there are three common mistakes that most people make when networking online and offline that can cost them referrals.

Mistake #1 – Showing up unprepared. “One mistake I see business networkers consistently make is they show up unprepared without determining an intention before they arrive. They ‘wing’ their networking time and talk. Winging it is not a strategy. When you network, people can tell quickly when you lead your conversation this way. Most people think that simply because you meet a person and you can have a conversation with them that that is networking,” she says. “They assume a casual conversation will convert to referrals but are very disheartened that it doesn’t. You have to have a networking plan.”

Mistake #2 – Not understanding how to navigate different types of networking events. There are many different types of networking events including casual, professional, social, and service oriented to name a few. Sweet advises, “The framework for effectiveness with your time is understanding the network, and how to network in, up in each situation- while reflecting your leadership and building your brand reputation along the way. You can be authentic and network anytime, anyplace, anywhere – with professionalism. But to do that and build trust along the way starts with knowledge of how to show up regardless of the environment.  How you network is a direct reflection of how you show up and serve in your business.”

Mistake #3 – Attempting to close a sale prematurely. A lifelong entrepreneur is no stranger to successes and shortcomings that impact both personal and professional networking outcomes. “It’s important and vital to understand the distinctions between transactional networking and relationship networking needed to create trust that will allow you to close a sale. Pouncing at the first ‘hello’ is not the way to earn trust that leads to ongoing referrals. This may seem obvious to some, but like a good cup of coffee – it’s better brewed versus instant.”

As a networking leader with decades of firsthand experience, Sweet is deeply passionate about helping others learn the skills needed to create relationships through networking that dramatically increase revenue for businesses. She shares, “You don’t have to be perfect in your skills, just be open to learning how to improve them to become a networking leader. Learning how to extend your support to help someone you meet and then organically weave an invitation to support you is a natural way to implement the law of reciprocity that leads to building the backbone of networkingtrust.

Debbra Sweet is a New York Times bestselling author, keynote speaker, business strategist, and leadership coach based in San Diego, California. She’s the innovator of the Circle of 10™ Effective Networker Training Program and has created a complimentary guide, Top Ten Networking Mistakes That Prevent Referrals, that reveals how to network confidently and receive an abundance of referrals to successfully build a business.

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What Every Business Needs to Know About the Difference Between Marketing and Public Relations

Small business owners often have a difficult time on how to understand the difference between marketing and public relations because it can be complicated and the lines between the two can be blurred. In fact, with the explosion of digital marketing in the past several years, many entrepreneurs understand the value of a sales funnel over a website since it gives them a way to not only introduce a new product or service to them, but also capture information and sales to see a direct return on investment (or ROI).

Marianne Schwab is a former national network TV talk show producer who now works with entrepreneurs and small businesses to get them broadcast interviews to help them promote their business and says, “Understanding the difference between marketing and public relations will help you learn how they best work together to make a massive impact with your campaigns. In a nutshell, marketing creates demand for a product or a service through advertising, while public relations builds trust with the general public through media interviews and features in TV and radio broadcasts, podcasts, and online and print publications. In other words, advertising is saying that your business or product is good, but public relations is getting someone else to say it for you. That is how to build credibility for a product and authority for a company spokesperson or executive. In fact, no amount of advertising can give you the credibility that being featured as an expert in your industry on a newscast or lifestyle program can.”

One of the primary traffic sources for businesses online and offline these days is social media advertising on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and more. This marketing method can be very effective for brand awareness and generating sales for small businesses. However, at the end of the day although it’s a great way to get a product or company on the radar of potential clients and customers, it doesn’t necessarily build credibility.

According to Marianne Schwab, “One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen my clients make over the years, especially my Fortune 500 clients, is they do not synergize their public relations and marketing campaigns. They invest a boatload of their budget into the P.R. Department and Marketing Department and they don’t talk to each other and actually act like they work on completely different planets. That is losing the opportunity for a ton of potential and additional revenue.”

Marketing is all about the return on investment (ROI). For example, depending on the ad sales team experience, a company can strategically invest $3,500 in social advertising and expect to double that amount with incoming revenue. Public relations contributes to the ROI by building credibility in a way advertising cannot.

“The best campaigns I’ve seen are the ones where P.R. and Marketing work together,” Schwab continues. “For example, a publicist books an interview for a local or national talk show and the marketing team then buys ad spots for the same show so that the brand, product and message is optimized from the featured interview. The audience doesn’t just hear about the product in the interview for credibility, but then the ads during commercial breaks make the essential imprint in their minds that lead to sales.”

There is no magic number that guarantees a sales since the primary factor is does the product solve a problem the client wants or needs. In general, it takes a minimum of seven impressions before a prospect will buy. Now, thanks to the internet, the number of touch points needed before a sale in 2020 was eleven and have since increased exponentially according to Forrester Research.

Marianne Schwab has worked as a producer for over 25 years in New York and Los Angeles. She is currently the Executive Producer of CMP Media Cafe where she works with clients to develop compelling media hooks and story angles that get them TV and radio interviews in today’s complicated media environment. She has created an online training that shares her insider secrets to promoting a business on TV talk shows and details the types of guests producers love to book as guests.

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Three Key Reasons Experts Need Media Coaching For TV Talk Show Interviews

Being a guest on a TV talk show or radio program is a great way to build credibility as an expert in an industry. However, it’s not as easy as many experts make it look, especially those who are well seasoned in how to interview with the television media.

Generally, this is how it works: An expert like an online entrepreneur, influencer, or possibly a non-fiction book author hires a publicist and then that publicist may succeed in booking a coveted TV interview for their client to promote their brand, product, or service. 

What most of the clients don’t understand is getting booked on a TV interview is the first step and what happens next determines if a client gains the credibility they’re looking to achieve with an engaging on-camera interview or dismantles it all together if they are not prepared.

Unfortunately, many publicists will only help a client prepare with very basic media training and according to Marianne Schwab, a former national network TV talk show producer, “Some publicists do an amazing job of prepping their clients for an interview but so many do not and drop the ball. When I was working on Live daily talk shows, I’d work directly with expert guests to develop the interview segment into our show’s version of infotainment. Guests only have about four-to-five minutes to nail their topic or demo and my job was on the line if each segment wasn’t the best it could be or if a guest was a flop.”

Media coaching, also known as media training, is a valuable service that is available and essential for experts who are just starting out to get booked as guests on talk shows. Depending on the coach, they not only help clients maximize the time they have for the interview by dialing in a targeted yet engaging message, but they also prepare them to look confident on-camera. Here are three key things to know about media coaching before a scheduled TV talk show interview:

1. Experts Make Interviewing Look Easy. The biggest secret TV viewers may not know is that even the most experienced on-camera experts prepare and rehearse for every single TV interview. Schwab says, “Think of it this way, professional baseball players don’t show up for the World Series like they’re there for batting practice.  They spend thousands of hours preparing for the big game under the guidance of their coach. TV interviews work the same way – you don’t just show up and wait for the questions to be thrown at you when you can prepare responses in advance.”

2. Avoid Looking Like Bambi in Headlights. Media coaching is essential to learn the skills of mastering your message and time constraints of a TV interview, handling nerves, and according to Schwab, “You only have one chance to get it right when it comes to a talk show appearance and that’s where media coaching comes in. Knowing what to say when you get a curveball question so that you have a response and not a reaction is key to an on-camera delivery with poise and polish.” 

3. Skipping Media Coaching is a Recipe for an On-Camera Disaster. As a producer, Marianne Schwab’s number one goal is to make sure that when her clients get in front of the camera that they look and do their best. “Every expert that I’ve ever worked with for TV appearances invests time in preparing for each and every interview so that when the red light on the studio camera goes on, they look like they’re making it up on the spot, but what most people don’t know is that they spent hours making it look effortless. If you skip media coaching, you’re gambling with your reputation since you could derail your credibility and all you’ve worked so hard for when landing a TV interview,” she concludes.

Marianne Schwab has worked as a producer for over 25 years in New York and Los Angeles. She is currently the Executive Producer of CMP Media Cafe where she works with clients to develop compelling media hooks and story angles that get them TV and radio interviews in today’s complicated media environment. She has created an online training that shares her insider secrets to promoting a business on TV talk shows and details the types of guests producers love to book as guests.

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Adventures in VolunTourism: The Most Rewarding Hawai’i Vacation Experiences Not Found in Guidebooks

Hawaiʻi has always been a favorite vacation destination but most tourists don’t know that some of the best adventures NOT found in any guidebook and they may be missing out on some of the most life changing experiences that the islands have to offer that go far beyond the beaches and popular attractions.

Visitors have been eager to return to Hawai‘i to enjoy its natural beauty and the spirit of the islands rooted in native Hawaiian culture. The Hawaiian islands are legendary for their stunning natural beauty, plants and animals that exist nowhere else in the world, and the tightly knit community of 1.4 million residents that welcome visitors with the Spirit of Aloha to the tropical place they call home.

John De Fries was born and raised in Waikīkī and is the President and CEO of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA). In recent TV interviews, he shared, “It’s time to reclaim all the things we love including travel and experience destinations on a much deeper and meaningful level. Hawaiʻi’s beautiful beaches are always a main attraction, but we have so much more to offer.”

Most visitors don’t know that the Hawaiian islands have amazing voluntourism opportunities where they can be part of a circle that enriches everything and everyone. In fact, through the Mālama Hawaiʻi Program, visitors can engage in volunteer activities working alongside members of the local community to experience Hawaiʻi on a much deeper and connected level, so they return home more rejuvenated and inspired by this unique experience

De Fries says, “Mālama means to care for and whether you’re visiting the islands or Hawai’i is your home, we have so many ways to work with our community side by side and immerse yourself in our unique land, ocean, and unique wildlife projects so that you’re not just a visitor, but you can become part of the fabric of our islands as well.”

Some of the voluntourism experiences include hiking deep into Hawai’i’s forests to plant native trees that are being permanently threatened. Also, Hawaiian monk seals, green sea turtles and coral reefs are highly endangered and visitors can get involved in projects to replant coral reefs or self-directed beach clean-up that help protect marine life. Finally, one of the world’s most famous battleships, the USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor, has a restoration project that visitors take part in to help preserve this iconic American treasure.

John De Fries concluded, “We’ve also implemented a reservation system for certain tourism “hotspots” like Lēʻahi, or Diamond Head State Monument, to distribute capacity for the well being of natural resources, visitors, and residents. Traveling to Hawai’i comes with a kuleana, or responsibility and privilege. A kuleana to not only care for the land, but for all the people and wildlife who call the islands home and we’re inviting tourists to join us in that effort.”

Hawai’i is home to unimaginable beauty and living things that inhabit Hawai’i are found nowhere else in the world and that is why it’s essential to protect the islands for future generations. To find about more about how to take a trip that gives back, visit

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Three Reasons Colleges Turn Down Top Students That Admissions Officers Won’t Reveal and How to Fix It

College may not be for everyone, but if a career in science, engineering, or medicine is the plan, a college degree is a must. The challenge is gaining admission to the elite university of choice. Now more than ever, with competition and selectivity increasing, students need to recognize the intricacies of getting their applications accepted. 

Unfortunately, most parents and students cannot fully comprehend the preparation required to get into the top colleges and universities. Sean Ma is a graduate of Columbia University and Cambridge University and also the CEO of Ma Academy. In a recent interview with KATU-TV (in Portland) he shared, “Parents and students need to know what they’re up against and how competitive admissions are. Schools like Columbia University receive over 60,000 applications each year and only accept 2,000 students. That means there’s a 97% chance you’re not getting in — even with the highest GPA and perfect SAT scores. It’s a much bigger equation.”

So how can students get a competitive edge when applying to top colleges? Ma Academy, a leader in the education consulting industry since 2008, has developed a successful track record designed to help its clients navigate these specific complexities. They have a team of Ivy League graduates and former admissions officers with the inside knowledge to give parents and students a valuable advantage. “We have helped thousands of students get into their dream schools in the United States and around the world, including Ivy League and other top colleges,” Ma shares.

#1 – In a sea of exceptional students, college applicants need more than top GPA & SAT scores — they need to differentiate themselves from the competition. When students have a strong GPA and high standardized test scores, they are usually overly confident with their college placement prospects. So, how can top applicants differentiate from other students?

It starts with being a club founder rather than a club member. Namely, students’ activities must demonstrate leadership skills, including holding positions like Class President or Valedictorian, or other significant accomplishments like getting a research paper published in a prestigious journal, launching a successful business, or achievements that garner national media attention.

#2 – Parents and students should not obsess with top ranked universities or colleges that might not be the best overall fit for them. The competition to get accepted into the top-ranking schools is indeed fierce. “It’s a delicate balance to manage expectations without killing a client’s dreams,” Ma says, “but it’s more than that, since not every student is Ivy League material when they come to us. We work with them to help them step up to their highest potential and then advise them on how to determine the school that is the best fit for them. We’ve found that even when a student gets accepted into an Ivy League university, it’s not always the best match — and the student would be much happier and more successful at another comparably prestigious college or university.”

#3 – Students need a multi-faceted approach to gain college acceptance. Filling out college applications can be stressful, but it is essential that the application is not the first step. In fact, it should be a final step since the high school career lays the foundation for a successful college application submission.

Using a fitness analogy, Sean Ma says he finds the Six-Pack Abs Approach used as a model at Ma Academy to be very effective. “Colleges are looking for students that are more than their grades, but ‘fit’ with life balance as well. They will evaluate the student’s six pack abs to determine if the applicant is the right type of student for their college brand. This approach includes an Admissions Strategy, Application Theme, Extracurricular Activities, Course Selection, Recommendation Letters, and College Essays. Do not underestimate the weight of each of these, especially when it comes to activities and the essay. Through application essays, students can show their personalities, express their passions, and demonstrate their writing skills.”

Finally, Ma wants parents to understand that social media and social gatherings can be detrimental to parents when others brag about their child’s accomplishments. “It often evolves into a comparison competition where parents start to feel as if their own child is a failure when their child is really doing well. Parents should really think about dialing back on time spent on social media and events, so they’re not tempted to unrealistically compare their child to other students.”

During the stressful college application process, working with a company that understands the system is critical. The goal of companies like Ma Academy is to guide students and their families successfully into a college that is the right fit for each student’s personal development and academic success.

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The Four Biggest Cybersecurity Mistakes That Can Kill a Small Business

Small businesses and work at home entrepreneurs are being targeted by ransomware at an alarming rate and over 80% of businesses that pay a ransom will get attacked a second time. In fact, hackers, scammers and viruses are getting smarter every day and cybersecurity measures, to keep company information safe and secure, is one of the most overlooked investments small businesses skip and it can be a very expensive oversight.

Christopher Bartosz is a cybersecurity expert and the President and CEO of FVC Technologies that focuses on servicing small to mid-sized businesses across the nation as their outsourced IT department. His company provides not only IT management, but cybersecurity solutions that keep the company secure and he has identified four of the biggest mistakes small businesses make when it comes to cybersecurity.

#1 – Thinking a business is too small for an attack. No business is too small to be the target of a hacker including work at home entrepreneurs. According to Bartosz, “If you have a bank account, you’re at risk of a cyber attack. Fifty percent of small and mid-sized businesses have experienced at least one cyber attack in the past year.”

#2 – Not understanding most consumer anti-virus programs won’t protect them against all hackers. The typical anti-virus software, also known as anti-malware, is originally designed to prevent, detect, and eliminate malware and viruses. These programs usually run in the background to provide protection but with the explosion of other malware, antivirus software cannot always protect against the latest computer threats. Small business owners and work at home entrepreneurs think they’ve done everything they can to protect and make their laptop and computer systems secure when they are installed. However, according to a recent survey by Fortinet, 81% of small businesses report that new types of attacks have evaded their traditional security solutions including anti-virus software.

#3 – Thinking that IT and cybersecurity are the same thing or relying on a friend for IT Support. It’s great to have a friend who can be consulted for basic IT, or Information Technology, support, but one big mistake people make is thinking that IT and cybersecurity are the same thing. Bartosz says, “Basic IT support and cybersecurity are a completely different skill set. IT support can fix basic computer problems, but not necessarily close the holes hackers are trying to get in. Relying on a friend who knows ‘something about IT’ is just enough to be dangerous.”

#4 – Looking at IT security as an expense and not an investment. Small businesses and entrepreneurs think they’re protected with a consumer anti-virus program that costs around $70, but that is not always enough. In fact, according to Fundera, small and mid-sized businesses spend an average of $955,429 to restore normal business in the wake of successful attacks. Alarmingly, as many as 60% of companies go out of business six months after an attack.

Most small businesses are, unfortunately, vulnerable to cyber attacks, but there are preventative solutions to mitigate the risks. FVC Technologies takes a security first, not an ‘IT support’ first approach. According to Bartosz, “We provide a risk assessment that often reveals hidden doors for hackers to walk right on in and then show our clients this information so we can put together a plan to close and lock those doors.”

Bartosz also recommends investing in a professional and next generation endpoint protection program that scans in real time and catches vulnerabilities, “When we work with clients, we offer them an A.I. driven level of protection that is only available to IT professionals. Larger companies should expect to dedicate 7-10% of their IT budget for cybersecurity and smaller companies who do not have an IT budget should plan on spending 3% of their total budget on cybersecurity. It’s a form of insurance especially compared to the expense of a data breach or ransomware attack.”

Christopher Bartosz is the author of two books on cybersecurity including Why Your Business Must have Cybersecurity Risk Assessments and Cybersecurity Now and he provides education and security training to the companies he serves. He has extensive knowledge of multiple government regulations that he uses to ensure his clients who hold government contracts remain compliant and secure. Businesses can connect with Bartosz on LinkedIn and at

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What Airline Passengers Don’t Know About What Happens Behind the Scenes with Air Traffic Control and Most Experts Won’t Reveal

TheWashington, D.C. – Each day, an estimated 2,900,000 passengers fly in and out of U.S. airports and most have no idea what goes on behind-the-scenes. They don’t know what is involved to get them safely to their final destination or what decisions are made by air traffic controllers to safely navigate their flight. While most days are usually uneventful, situations occur that can be the difference between life and death, and that’s where people like Andy Watson come in.  

No ordinary pilot, Watson has been flying airplanes since he was eight years old, and has also worked as an Air Traffic Control (ATC) Specialist at many of the busiest facilities throughout the eastern United States for more than 14 years. In fact, he is one of only a select few pilots who has a multi-faceted understanding of aviation, which most pilots never realize. Watson’s experiences both as a pilot in the aircraft and professionally tracking planes on the air traffic control radar scope inspired him to write The Pilot’s Guide to Air Traffic Control, a collection of behind-the-scenes stories that places the reader right in the middle of real-life situations that bring the stress and urgency air traffic controllers deal with on a daily basis to bear.*  

Watson has written more than thirty chapters about his experiences as an air traffic controller with pilots in mind that includes an exclusive peek into an intense world which travelers rarely see, and dispels several myths about the aviation industry. 

#1 – How often does a passenger have to land a plane? Although this has been depicted in film more than once, this is actually an uncommon occurrence, but it does happen. Last month, an emergency took place when the pilot of a single-engine turboprop Cessna Caravan en route to Florida became incapacitated and the inexperienced passenger was doing his best to fly the plane. Luckily, an air traffic controller on duty, Robert Morgan, was also an experienced flight instructor. Once notified of the situation, he sprang into action. Despite himself never having flown this make and model of aircraft before, he was able to access a picture of the Cessna Caravan’s instrument panel to guide the impromptu student step-by-step on how to land the aircraft. “As I reviewed the incident,” Watson noted, “I thought it was absolutely brilliant that controller and flight instructor Robert Morgan printed a picture of the Cessna Caravan’s instrument panel so he could explain to the passenger over the radio exactly where to look in order to control the aircraft. I believe Robert saved the three lives on the aircraft that day!” Similarly, Watson’s book tells the story of another ATC save where the flight crew was suffering from hypoxia – a lack of oxygen – was rendered all but unconscious. A controller was able to get them to descend before they passed out. 

#2 – Why is Spatial Disorientation a Very Serious Inflight Emergency? Statistics show between 5 to 10% of all general aviation accidents are caused by spatial disorientation, 90% of which are fatal. Spatial disorientation was determined to be the probable cause of the crash that claimed the life of magazine editor & pilot John F. Kennedy, Jr. and more recently, basketball legend Kobe Bryant.  Watson remarks, “Spatial disorientation occurs when the body feels oriented in one direction, but in reality, it is oriented in a different direction. Literally, the pilot doesn’t know which way is up! It’s the same feeling kids get when they close their eyes, spin in circles, and then try to stand up straight, usually resulting in them falling down!”

Watson, who has worked in the FAA’s Air Traffic Safety Oversight office in Washington, D.C., has encountered several aviation accidents caused by this condition and says, “I realized I had received training on spatial disorientation as a pilot, but I did not remember any training on it as a controller.” 

#3 – What is a big mistake pilots make? Watson’s experience is that while commercial pilots are quick to declare an emergency when necessary, the pilots of smaller, general aviation aircraft are often more reluctant. It seems to Watson that most of them try to avoid declaring the emergency to the maximum extent possible. “I suspect because they are afraid of the FAA. I can tell you, if the thought of declaring an emergency even crosses your mind, then you probably should go ahead and declare it! I have heard pilots talk around the word ‘emergency’ specifically to avoid saying it. When an emergency is declared, air traffic gets extra help to assist you in whatever means they can. Phone calls for additional assistance are made, options are presented, and whatever else the pilot requests are made available. Don’t do it without good reason, but the FAA and ATC is truly there to help you effect a safe arrival.” 

Andy Watson will be on hand at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022, the Largest Airshow in the World, for interviews and to personally sign copies of The Pilot’s Guide to Air Traffic Control. The book is also available on Amazon and at While the title may say it’s for pilots, this book also provides a view from behind the flight deck door of how almost three million passengers travel safely each day in the skies over the United States. 

*The perspective and opinions given in the book are that of the author alone and may vary from those of the Federal Aviation Administration.

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Can a Stressful Home Life Making to Illness? Don’t Ignore These Five Warning Signs of a Toxic Relationship

Domestic abuse increased dramatically during the 2020 lockdowns. In fact, according to the National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice, domestic violence incidents rose in the United States by about 8.1% after pandemic-related lockdowns were imposed.

Phoenix based school teacher, Dr. L.R. Daniel, understands how the stress and impact of toxic relationships had severe consequences for students and their families during the lockdowns. Daniel discovered that teachers across the nation were hearing students’ shocking stories of their lockdown experiences that included economic hardship, physical and verbal abuse, stressed relationships, depression, and losing loved ones to death.

Dr. Daniel decided to do what she could to help herself, her colleagues, her students, and their parents because they were struggling on several levels. She and her peers realized that many of the victims didn’t have any idea what to do to change their situation. That is when she set out to write a book, Trash Can: Stop Being a Receptacle for Toxic People’s Waste, about how to identify the toxic relationships that hurt families and how to cope with them (especially if leaving them is not an option.)

“It’s difficult to recognize when a person is being toxic,” Dr. Daniel says. “A toxic person is never toxic on purpose. They may not have the intention to harm you. It is their internal turmoil that causes a change in their behavioral pattern. In extremely rare cases, a person behaves toxic on purpose but you are not equipped with the right tools to handle someone’s dark emotions.”

One of the first things to do in order to improve the situation is that a person must know how to recognize if they are dealing with someone who is toxic. Dr. L.R. Daniel recently shared says signs and behavioral patterns that help to identify a person with toxic traits in an interview with Sonoran Living

1. They are manipulative. Toxic people will go to any extent to achieve what they want. It’s all about their needs and wants. They will bend the truth, lie, and even exaggerate something completely irrelevant.

2. They like to play “the victim.” A toxic person will always think that they are being victimized. Even if it’s their actions that hurt them, they will shift the blame on someone else. They won’t take any accountability for their feelings. Rather, they find ways to project their feelings onto others.

3. They are inconsistent. A toxic person may say one thing but does something else. Their words and actions never match.

4. They look for drama and conflict. A toxic person can never handle peace and calmness for too long. They are uncomfortable feeling any happy or positive emotion or situation and actually thrive off pain, conflict, and drama. 

5. They are consistently negative. They are never grateful or content with what they have. They are extremely calculative in what they do and make sure that they get the maximum benefit from any situation. Even when they get the most, they complain about how they didn’t get everything they wanted.

Once the traits of a toxic person are identified, Daniel says that it’s important to not focus on the person that’s causing the problem, but take the energy being invested on the circumstance and redirect it toward self care. She suggests, “Own up to what you can work on and set small goals to create a life that will take you on a journey for wholeness.”

Research from 2020 identifies Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) for high school students and young adults as a significant health dilemma in the United States. A multifaceted approach is recommended to protect individuals from abusive relationships and Daniel’s book, Trash Can: Stop Being a Receptacle for Toxic People’s Waste provides steps to not only identify toxic behavior, but also ways to cope in the midst of these difficult situations.

Depending on what types of issues people are facing at home in their relationships, Daniel’s book may be able to help provide guidance and navigate solutions on how to work on the issues that are causing conflict. She says, “This book is extremely personal to me. I know what it’s like to be in this position and feel like there’s no hope for tomorrow. But if I can get out of something toxic, I’m sure you can, too.

Dr. L.R. Daniel has taught middle and high school adolescents for over thirty years. According to Dr. Daniel, “Helping people free themselves from toxic situations and people is essential for me. It was how I managed to finally step into my own power and not waste my energy on people who never truly valued me.” Her book is available at

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Toxic Mistakes Dog Owners Make: Stop Feeding Dogs Table Scraps

CINCINNATI – What pet mom or dad can resist giving their favorite pup a treat? Dog owners love sneaking food to their pets that are begging for table scraps and what may seem like a good idea at the time can, unfortunately, be deadly for dogs. Many people do not realize that dogs cannot eat certain human foods and innocent table scraps could land a precious pup at the vet with a very serious illness or worse.

Melinda Kirk Stenger has been cooking for dogs for over twenty years and she is on a mission to educate pet parents and says, “There are so many foods we eat at the dinner table that are toxic for dogs and you need to know which ones to avoid giving them. These include grapes, raisins, chocolate, and any food containing Xylitol like pre-packaged cookies and muffins or even gum.” 

Melinda, who is known as the Canine Caterer, was inspired to make homemade recipes for her dog, Bella, a Jack Russell mix who had allergies to many dog food ingredients like wheat, corn and soy. Her determination to keep Bella healthy began her journey to become an expert in dog health. Melinda’s passion led her to create PetCakes® that are do-it-yourself kits to easily make healthy treats for dogs. “People think it’s too complicated and time consuming to cook for their dog, so I invented PetCakes® mixes that have NO wheat, corn or soy to make it fast and fun to give your pets healthy, homemade snacks,” she shares. 

Each PetCakes® kit has everything needed to make homemade pet treats including a BPA free and re-usable bone-shaped pan for dogs (or a fish-shaped pan for cats). Just add water to the mix, pour the batter into the pan, and microwave it for less than three minutes. Melinda adds, “The birthday kits also come with a candle to add to the cake. When you cook for your animals, you bond in a fun way that creates lasting memories with them.”  

PetCakes® mixes also have no added salt, sugar or preservatives. Melinda warns, “Dogs specifically should never have added salt or sugar in their food because it contributes to health issues leading to a shorter life span.” 

Melinda Kirk Stenger has dedicated an entire page to a list of toxic foods in Paws & Brunch, a cookbook packed with a collection of delicious dog treat recipes inspired by human food like Woof Waffles, Canine Quiche, and even Barktown Biscuits. “Each recipe is designed with healthy, human-grade ingredients and are so easy, even kids can make them,” she says.

Melinda’s dog, Bella, is the official taste tester, mascot, and inspiration behind the recipes in her cookbook, “Bella was seriously injured in an accident and it required me to cook homemade food for her to help her recover. Cooking for her inspired me to go above and beyond and to make human looking food she’d love. When she got better, I expanded into planning extravagant birthday parties, high-end doggie brunches, and even dog weddings.”

PetCakes® are available online through Amazon or Chewy and you can follow and connect with Melinda on Instagram.  

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Can Cookies Really Change Lives? This Mom Turned Her Unique Cookies Into a 7-Figure Business.

Not since Mrs. Fields turned her delicious cookie recipe into a multi-million dollar company has a mom turned her cookie baking skills into such a successful business. Do you want to know her secret? It’s about the cookies, but not about the cookies at all — it’s about how it changes you into the woman you are meant to be,” says Lauren Anderson, founder of Lolly’s Home Kitchen that started in her home and has now grown into a seven figure business.

So how does a successful graphic designer with over 20 years of experience running various art departments and her own graphic design firm end up with basically a cookie business? Lauren discovered cookies during one of the most difficult years of her life, “I had a baby with a serious and life threatening medical condition called congenital heart defect (CHD) and my life changed in an instant. My son’s needs were so tremendous that I became his around-the-clock caretaker and as a result, I ended up having to leave my graphic design job. Eventually we found some stability, but something was missing. My mom was the one that noticed I needed something just for me, beyond being a mom and wife, and that’s when she introduced me to cookie decorating!”

Baking cookies is practically a rite of passage for moms, but most rarely venture beyond sugar and sprinkles. Lauren had always admired the decorated cookies with royal icing, sparkling sugar crystals, and even hand painted touches that she’d seen at special parties and on Pinterest, so she decided to play around with this as a hobby for herself.

She started baking cookies for school events and parties and people loved them so much that Lauren decided to open Lolly’s Home Kitchen. “My cookies brought so much joy and delight to my family and friends, and then I started marketing them on Instagram and taking orders – a lot of orders. What started as a hobby for a little ‘me-time’ turned into a thriving business,” Lauren shared. “But there’s more to it. Before I found fulfillment as a Cookier, I wasn’t thrilled with how motherhood felt. I loved my kids and we had a good life, but something was just missing. Then somewhere between the mixing bowls and the piping bags, I finally became the mother I’d always wanted to be. Who knew cookies could change my life?”

Beautifully decorated cookies, made by hand in the heart of a home, aren’t just cookies, they’re a family bonding experience that creates priceless memories. It wasn’t enough for Lauren to create cookies just for her business, she wanted to help other moms learn this special craft to share with their friends and families as well. She knew she was not alone and that there were other mothers who were looking to find themselves again. 

Since creating her very first cookie four years ago, she has taught herself all the do’s and don’ts of baking and decorating cookies through a lot of trial and error. I’m obsessed with creating more joy in life and in the kitchen. That’s why I created Lolly’s Cookie Camp so every mom can learn to decorate sugar cookies like a pro. I make it about the result they get – not just cookies, but about changing your life with cookies and transforming women into the mom they want to be.” Then, Lolly’s Cookie Camp took off and Lauren started creating more courses as more and more moms joined, it grew into a seven figure business and it continues to thrive.

Lolly’s Cookie Camp has everything a beginner needs to know and was created to be easy, clearly laid out, and ready to learn with Lauren’s secret recipe for beautifully baked cookies right from the very first batch. She also includes her unique and simple cookie decorating design techniques inspired by her years of being a graphic designer.

Cookie Camp is available for just $47 because her goal is to inspire moms to jump in and choose to have more fun and joy in life—through cookies! You can connect with Lauren Anderson and learn more about creative cookie decorating on Instagram at @lollyshomekitchen.