We are very much Book People at Spark. We love to long afternoons browsing bookstores, picking up various titles ranging from Self-Help, Cooking, Fiction, Biographies, Devotionals, and more. 
Finding time to read books is challenging, and must be intentional. We are eager learners and believe the resounding phrase "Readers are Leaders." It's important to make time to do things we not only enjoy, but also make us better humans, better business owners, better spouses, and (hopefully) better chefs! We live and lead by our faith, so naturally, our reading lists are influenced by that. Here are our indulgences as of late. 

Grace Not Perfection - Emily Ley
While lingering around a shop at The Domain in Austin, this book caught my eye. As a co-owner ( and perfectionists-extraordinaire ) this book hit me right in the feels. I so often forget to give grace when we don't measure up to the expectation. This book is not only full of tips and wisdom regarding organization, grace, and goals but also includes beautifully photographed images, crisp, thick pages. All in all, it's a fun and inspiring read., 

This Momentary Marriage - John Piper
Wow. Talk about a zinger. Unfortunately, as business owners, and as imperfect people doing life, it's easy to let the things (and people) we love get placed on the back-burner. Within the last several months we've made it a non-negotiable to have time reading, praying, and growing in our faith together. What does this have to do with business you ask? Everything. A house divided cannot stand. We must take care of ourselves if we ever want to be able to nourish our business, our clients, and their businesses. 

Sandcastle Kings - Rich Wilkerson Jr.
We're reading Sandcastle Kings via Audio Book right now. I'm sure your schedule is as full as ours if not more- so audio books are a great way to work through books on the go while heading to client meetings, traveling or running errands around town. I've really enjoyed Sandcastle Kings thus far. We haven't finished it yet, but so far so (very) good! The synopsis uncovers how the world seems to have figured out the formula for manufacturing material success, but when it comes to finding true, lasting happiness, we are as lost as ever. We yearn for more, or less, or something that s just different from what we have right now. Deep down, we know there must be satisfaction for our longing. We just don t know where to find it. If you're feeling discontent, I encourage you to check out Sandcastle Kings. 

Blue Apron - Recipe
I know, I know, this isn't a book- but man I feel like I'm reading these recipes on the daily! Ross subscribed us to Blue Apron quite a while back, and we really enjoy it. As a meat-and-potatoes (and bacon) man, this has expanded our pallet by providing exotic ingredients and recipes. Last week we made Indonesian Chicken, we've made Ethiopian cuisine, Cuban dishes, and much more! All on a weeknight from the courtesy of our own kitchen. Deliveries come (for us) every Tuesday before lunchtime, and it's fresh ingredients! Therefore, if you don't want your investment to go to waste- you cook it within the week (saves money on dining out, and new cooking skills!) If you'd like to try Blue Apron for yourself, leave us a comment- we have a coupon code for up to 5 people to receive their first week's delivery FREE!

Bonus: Uzma Journals 
These journals from Uzma by Raven + Lilly are the perfect asset to our reading lists. A place to jot down inspiration, thoughts, and quotes. This journal is made on mission from recycled paper and empowers marginalized women in Northern India who created it by supporting their economy. 
That’s it for January! Check backfor our February's reading list soon!

 New Year : New Mindset!  
"Attitude of Gratitude"

January is a great month for setting new goals and getting re-focused for the new year ahead. Adopting a gratitude practice isn’t just something that sounds nice -- it’s a lifestyle and mindset choice that will drastically change your life and your business as an entrepreneur.

Here are the three biggest reasons why we need a gratitude practice.

1. Gratitude shifts your mindset

For something to change in your life, one of two things has to happen: your life changes, or you do. Waiting for life to change is a pretty passive solution. When you’re stuck in a problem mentality you miss out on all the opportunities for solutions that are knocking on your door every day, simply because you don’t even hear them or see them. Being an entrepreneur means being proactive, not passive, so switch your mindset and see life change.

How? Start by keeping a daily list of events that you are grateful for each night. Some call it a gratitude journal. You can call it whatever you want. But focusing on who came to your aid that day, what opportunities arose and how the day planted fruitful seeds for a better tomorrow will prove to you day after day that you are well taken care of and capable of succeeding with all the help that surrounds you.

2. Gratitude creates solutions

Adopting a gratitude practice takes us out of problem and toward a solution. It removes us from complaining and into a best-outcomes mindset. That’s a skill we all need in life and in business decision-making. 

How? Keeping a mental checklist of your triggers. We all have our things that set us off into complaining or annoyance. What are your complaint triggers during the day? Just observe them for a few days and keep a list as they pop up. Then try to set a small amount of time at the end of the week to look at those triggers and brainstorm solutions.

3. Gratitude is contagious

When we are grateful we tend to exude and share that contagious positive energy. People tend to be drawn to positive people. Who wouldn't want to be around someone that is joyful and grateful rather than grumpy and entitled? 

How? Watch the words. What we say is usually how we act, so be aware of complaining and replace whines with positive words. Start with you, be the change and watch as the world changes around you.

I hope these tips help your perspective the way they've helped mine. 
Wishing you all the success in 2017!

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SPARK NOTES | BLOG

The holidays are here and often times when you're in the day to day grind we can feel a little bahumbug. So, we've put together a short list of things we love to help keep our work space cozy (and efficient) during the chilly winter season!

1. Holiday Mug

Script coffee mugs are our 'two birds with one stone.' Not only do you get the holiday inspiration, but it also holds the much needed caffiene for added effiency. 
[ Etsy has tons of fun options! ]

2. Essential Oil Soy Candle

Our favorite is Meyers Lavendar Soy Candle. This Essential oil has calming properties that help control emotional stress. Lavender has a soothing effect on nerves and can relieve any nervous tension or stress from those glaring deadlines. [Get the Meyers products at your local retailer or online at Target ]

3. Fireplace App

This is a new discovery, for us, that we are LOVING. (Thanks, Kristen!) If you have AppleTV in your office or home, I highly recommend this app. It's FREE and definitely creates the cozy holiday ambiance (complete with fire crackling) we crave on and off the clock. [AppStore]


4. Christmas Cards

There's nothing like chipping away on the to-do list and glancing over to see your loved ones smiling faces. In keeping our workspace festive, we love to display our Christmas cards for a little added joy. [Etsy. VistaPrint is terrific, too if you're in a pinch!]

5. Fresh (faux) Marble Journal

Nothing says it's nearly a New Year than a fresh journal. We love the sleek look of the marble trend, and the blank white pages leave much to be imagined for a new year of dreams, plans, notes, and creations. [You can find this one at urbanoutfitters  ]


We hope you enjoy a few of our favorite things that keep the Christmas Spirit alive during the 9 to 5.
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Relationships…It’s what keeps us sane (and successful) in life. The type of relationships we have define who we are and what we are about. They motivate us towards the positives in life and compel us to perform acts of kindness. Our relationships in life are often what we rely on in times of need, sadness, joy and opportunity.

 The same holds true for business relationships. Proper networking and the art of building business relationships of trust is what sets apart the “haves” from the “have nots,” and successful businesses from those that continue to struggle. The act and art of proper networking and relationship building is vital to business.

Here are three things you can start doing today that will improve your business relationships. 

1. Live Honestly.

First, set high standards for yourself. Be committed to doing things ethically and honestly – not just in business dealings, but in everything you do. As you live by the values you honor, people will notice. Be honest and be a person of your word.
People notice the way we dress, speak and even our work ethic. Give them a reason to ask what makes you so happy? Give them a reason to ask how do you do it? Demonstrate your personal difference every day and the relationships you will gain will be fruitful.

2. Focus on Friendship First.

Next, where relationships are concerned, there is no such thing as instant gratification. Real and meaningful relationships take time and effort and developing them is a skill that can be constantly refined. Applying this to the way you approach and gain business relationships will take patience. Successful business partnerships are not established in just one meeting. It all takes time, understanding, kindness, perseverance and dedication. Make your friendship with your perspective business contacts first priority and your relationship with them will last a lifetime.

There is an unwritten rule that friends do business with friends first, before strangers. Many successful businesses begin when friends or family members become engaged together in the business. But if your friend or family member is not interested in a business relationship right now, be sure to maintain your non-business relationship. The timing may not be right for them. The product or service may not be a good fit, or there may be other circumstances or concerns that are hindering them. Whatever the case may be, your personal relationships are infinitely more valuable than any business could ever be.

3. Be Persistent and Available.

Are you up front about your intentions and what you represent, or do you feel like you have to sugar coat the truth to pique someone’s interest?  Do your contacts look bored or are they interested to hear what you have to say?  Do you follow up to answer questions or address concerns? If not, perhaps you should re-evaluate the way you’re running your business – remembering that time and persistent dedication are often necessary for developing business and creating long lasting success.

In the end, the best indicator of your success is the quality of your relationships. Building relationships is a necessary ingredient to a successful and happy life. When you take the time to form stronger and more lasting relationships, you can see great results in your business.

​​SPARK

MARKETING + CONSULTING