Tuesday, March 1, 2016

NEVER Ask Anyone Their Opinion Again!


Why other people's opinions don't matter and how they can actually be harmful...

I feel very fortunate that I learned this lesson at an early age.  When I was about 18 years old, I realized that other people’s opinions didn’t matter and I quit asking people what they thought about my ideas (which have always been a bit outlandish).  That doesn’t mean that others are not knowledgeable and may have great insight to share, but the key is to differentiate between opinions and information.

If you have a dream in your heart and in your mind, it no longer matters what ANYONE else thinks of it.  Have you ever been really excited about a dream, goal or idea you have only to have that energy sucked right out of you by someone telling you that they thinks it’s a dumb idea or that you’d never be able to achieve it?  It is human nature to knock someone’s ideas or dreams.  Sometimes it’s because they fear you will fail and want to save you from that pain, but most of the time it comes from a place of jealousy… because they were too scared to go after their own dreams or maybe because they fear that you will succeed and leave them behind.   Either way, it’s not worth having their negativity weighing you down… life has enough obstacles to deal with.


So... rather than asking someone their opinion, ask them informational questions only.  For example,
when I was 22 years old, I wanted to buy a motor home and drive it from Oregon down through Mexico to my windsurfing destinations… just me, my dog and the open road.  If I had asked people what they thought, the majority would have said that I was a crazy and not to do it.  Well, I already knew I was crazy (enough), so what I really needed to do was gather INFORMATION that would help me determine whether I could pull it off or not.  I started asking people (all kinds of people) questions like, “Where is a good place to buy a used motor home?”  “What paperwork are needed to take a dog across the border?” “Where can I get insurance that would cover me in Mexico?”  What are the best driving routes?” etc…

Once I gathered the answers to all these questions, I was able to determine that I would indeed be able to safely and successful drive and live in my motor home around Mexico… it turned out to be one of the best times of my life!!!

It takes some time and practice to only ask informational questions, but eventually you will get so good at knowing the difference you will either stop the person from sharing their “opinion” and be able to turn it into an informational conversation, or you will simply learn to ignore that part of the
Here's how you can get yourself into the routine of being an information gathering machine and an opinion deflector:  
1. Identify a goal or dream that you have for yourself.  Maybe it will be going back to school, moving, taking a trip or changing careers.
2. Make a list of all the questions and concerns you have around this idea.
3. Go through your list and write down how to ask these questions in an informational format.  You can even go so far as to think about how someone might try to answer a question with their opinion and how you can change the conversation so they are only giving you info.
4. Like anything, practice makes perfect, so practice a little everyday (where to go for lunch, should you email someone back, what to wear, what new phone to buy, etc...).  Pretty soon it will be second nature to converse this way and trust me, it will save you years of heartache and anguish.

If you have any INFORMATIONAL questions I can answer for you... please let me know :) kasten@sophisticatedrebel.com

Thursday, February 4, 2016

My Issues with Valentine's Day

The commercials have started… Online, tv, radio, storefronts… “Buy this to show her how much you love her”…  What a crock!

When I was younger and single, I was always so sad around Valentine’s Day because I didn’t have a significant other in my life to make me feel “special”.  I knew lots of people that felt the exact same way and we all dreaded that holiday.  What we didn’t understand was that the holiday was nothing more than an opportunity for retailers to market their crap via guilt trips… It has nothing to do with how special you are or how much someone loves you!! (I now affectionately refer to it as a Hallmark Holiday).  Now, I admit that there are several holidays that we celebrate here in the US that have strayed far from their original purposes,  but this one seems to be the one that leaves a lot of people feeling left out and hurt.

The pressures of Valentine’s day start in grade school… kids give each other little paper valentine’s cards (the one’s you get at the store that folded over and just say To: and From: ).   At 8 years old, it clearly isn’t about “love”, but rather becomes a popularity contest.  Kids compare how many valentines’ they get and if they don’t get as many as some of the other kids, they feel like they aren’t very “cool”.  So, at a young age we are teaching kids that if people don’t give you cards on a day specified by marketers, that they must not be loved or lovable… don’t kids have it hard enough already?!?!

Another thing that really bothers me about Valentine’s Day is how one sided it is, it’s all about a man buying a woman something “special” to show their love?  Gee, no pressure there.  If you don’t spend enough money she may think you don’t really love her.   If you spend too much money and it’s early in the relationship, you might be sending her the wrong signals.  It all seems a bit unfair to me… relationships are a two way street (always), so why isn’t the message geared to tell men AND WOMEN to be showering their loved ones with gifts??   MORE IMPORTANTLY, wouldn’t it seem more authentic if a man (or woman) got you flowers, a box of candy or jewelry on some completely arbitrary day??

The thing that finally changed it for me was when I was dating a man who did the coolest thing on Valentine’s Day… he would spend the day with his two teenage daughters getting pedicures together, bringing them flowers, going out to lunch, etc…  He would tell them that he never wanted them to feel bad or left out, because they always had at least one man in their life that loved them and thought they incredibly special… their dad :).   If you are wondering what he got me for Valentine’s Day, the answer is nothing (and I was about it).  The best gift I got from him was watching how he treated his daughters and the message he was sending them.   From that moment on, I no longer cared about Valentine’s Day.

You may think it’s odd that I own a company that sells a product that would actually make a really nice, personalized, unique Valentines’ gift and yet we’re not doing any major “Valentine’s Day Promotions”…   That’s because Sophisticated Rebel would rather their customers buy it as a gift (or for themselves) for a graduation, birthday, or just because!  This year for Valentine’s Day, Sophisticated Rebel is doing something to try and spread the love to those who most likely need it the most.   The women of the Sophisticated Rebel Tribe and I are collecting purses that aren’t being used anymore, filling them with toiletries, candies and notes of hope and encouragement and delivering them to women at domestic violence shelters. 

If you know someone who might be feeling sad or lonely this Valentine’s day, I hope you reach out to them…   
Find a way to spread some love this Valentine’s Day… and everyday!

(If you would like to join the Sophisticated Rebel Tribe, please send a request on Facebook): Sophisticated Rebels