Kick Off 2014 With Fantastic Biz Lessons Gleaned from ABC’s Once Upon a Time (1 of 2)

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happy 2014Oh, how I love new years!

I love the feeling of officially leaving the old year behind, and taking deliberate steps to create new goals and expectations, along with the plans to reach them, in the new year. It always feels so fresh, like the dawn of a new day, full of possibility. 🙂

Today is my first official day “back at work” in my business, and it also just so happens that, yesterday, I finally watched the (DVR-recorded) winter finale of my favorite TV show, Once Upon a Time.

Once Upon a Time - Snow WhiteSo when I thought about what sort of cool insights I could share with you—what 14 ideas I could give you for 2014—my mind quickly wandered to this ever-awe-inspiring twist on fairy tales. “What business lessons can we learn from the crazy tangled web of characters, stories, and adventures of Once Upon a Time?”, I wondered…

Turns out there are plenty of insights to be gleaned! If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll get a kick out of them…but even if you have no clue what the heck I’m talking about (maybe you’ve never even heard of Once Upon a Time) you can still appreciate these timeless lessons in business.

The first 7 are below, and the final 7 I’ll give you in next week’s post!

1) There is always hope. (So, never give up on your dreams!)
Snow White (“Mary Margaret”) is a “glass-half-full” kind of fairy-tale character. She always believes good will prevail, even when others around her aren’t so sure. And y’know what? She’s right!
{TAKEAWAY: Just because something isn’t working out for you at the moment (a business deal gone sour, a nightmare client, etc.), doesn’t mean they won’t come together down the road. God has perfect timing (albeit, strange and often late to us!), so stick with your goals and initiatives and let Him worry about the rest.}

2) Look the part!
It’s amazing to see the transformations in Once Upon a Time, from our world to theirs. Mary Margaret looks like an ordinary schoolteacher when she’s stuck in Storybrooke, but back in the Enchanted Forest, she’s truly herself—Snow White, with long, luxurious dark hair, ruby-red lips, and a regal-looking white fur robe.
{TAKEAWAY: What kind of appearance can your business take on, to reflect more of your true self + your unique mission?}

3) Want greatness? Think way outside the box!
The creators & writers of Once Upon a Time are pure genius this way…they took the familiar fairy tales and turned them upside down and inside out! Snow White’s daughter and Rumplestiltskin’s son have a child together (what!)? And the Beast that Belle falls in love with is none other than Rumplestiltskin?! It sounds CRAZY, but they’ve made it work—and really well, I might add.
{TAKEAWAY: So, you want your business to stand out…to be different, fresh, new. Take a page from this book of fairy tales, and turn your biz upside down. What can you do differently, that totally works—and yet no one else in your profession is doing? Hmm…(I can see those wheels turning in your head!)}

4) Perfection is boring. Be real instead!
One thing I love about Once Upon a Time, is that fairy-tale characters are no longer perfect happily-ever-after, always-doing-the-perfectly-right-thing-every-time kind of characters. Snow White has done things she regrets, Prince Charming lied to his wife, and yet they love each other and work it out—just like real people!
{TAKEAWAY: Your fans, followers, and customers aren’t interested in getting to know a perfect fairy-tale version of you…they want to know (and LOVE! And do business with!) the REAL YOU. So show your true self!}

Once Upon a Time - Baelfire5) Past failures do not have to define your future.
Imagine, the evil queen actually doing the right thing! Ha! And the evil Rumplestiltskin doing the right thing? Even harder to believe! But yet, in Once Upon a Time, it happens. In fact, one of my favorite characters—Baelfire (“Neal”)—illustrates this perfectly…being Rumplestiltskin’s son, you’d think he would be just as evil and rotten as his dad, but instead he becomes the opposite: a good-hearted person and admirable character you just want to root for.
{TAKEAWAY: Maybe 2013 was a bum year for you, or you’re beginning anew after many failed businesses. Either way, learn from your mistakes, but don’t let the past define your future. What better time than the new year to start fresh?!}

6) Pay your dues, to get where you want to go.
In season 3, we discover that Wendy’s brothers (Michael and John) have been doing Peter Pan’s bidding all this time, to keep their sister alive in Neverland. Which makes us all the happier that Wendy gets to finally come home and be reunited with them—after all that time.
{TAKEAWAY: If you believe in (and love!) your business, then do what’s necessary to grow and “prosper” it. I’m not saying let someone blackmail you (it works great on TV, not so much in real life!), but if you have to “work for the man” a few years, or you need to take courses or hire someone to help you, then DO IT!}

7) Look for beauty in unexpected places.
Nothing is quite as “contrary” as a beautiful gal like Belle falling in love with an evil man like Rumplestiltskin. She saw beyond the ugly surface, to the good within (and boy, most of the time it was a very tiny seed of good!).
{TAKEAWAY: What hidden good qualities do you have within yourself, that could be the key to setting yourself apart from your competitors? Ask your past clients, fans, and supporters to tell you what they find awesome about you—chances are, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by their answers!}

Did you enjoy these insights? Look for the second installment of 7, coming next week!

Drop a comment below, and let me know what you thought of the post…

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About Barbara Austin

As the graphic designer & founder of Sweet Dreamz Design, Barbara loves working with women entrepreneurs to brand their businesses. She shares a variety of small business advice and anecdotes here on the blog. Check back every week for new tips, inspirations, and how-to articles, or subscribe to get regular updates in your inbox each week!

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