Holy cats! I didn’t know that when I sent that message out yesterday inviting you to join me and Darren Hardy in his Insane Productivity program just how INSANE your response was going to be!


THANK YOU for showing Darren how driven you are! Darren used to take my WORD on how amazing and passionate dance studio owners are and now he is seeing it for HIMSELF!


If you have not joined the program yet, this offer ENDS TONIGHT at 6pm EST. This is one of the BEST THINGS you can do for yourself, your business and your family this year! Don’t wait a minute longer! Sign up now:




I can’t wait for you to experience the results that THOUSANDS of others have achieved from completing this program!


To your SUCCESS,


Yesterday I told you about how having the former publisher of SUCCESS Magazine, Darren Hardy, as a mentor completely changed my business life.


I also told you that I had asked him to just GIVE YOU the first few modules of his Insane Productivity program for FREE.


But what I forgot to tell you was how I asked him:)


I was sitting in my office working with the More Than Just Great Dancing® team and one of my team members said, “They need Darren Hardy. You need to get them involved with Darren.”


I was reluctant. Not because I didn’t want to share Darren with you…I do! I was reluctant because I knew that he only opened his program a few times a year and I had already asked him to open it up for our affiliated studio owners last month.


I had never asked him to open it up for to my readers before.


So, I did.  I just did it.  I sent it. And then I “un-sent” it and sent it again. And I waited.  


And this is what he sent me back:



For YOU, yes.


And yes, this is NOT normal.

But you my dear… are DEFINITELY. NOT. NORMAL.


Primarily because you have given without asking for reciprocation several times before.

You have GIVEN first.

I appreciate that.”


No, this is not normal!


This is just for YOU, the Misty Minute reader, so if you haven’t signed up for your FREE two modules of Insane Productivity yet, take a minute and do so before this link expires tomorrow evening.


The best time to plant a tree (or a good habit) was yesterday. The second best time is TODAY!


All you have to do is click here, Darren’s A-Team will do the rest.


This offer is only good until 6pmEST TOMORROW so don’t miss out. Time is ticking on this incredible offer! Don’t waste it! Sign up today:




To your SUCCESS,

Misty (& Darren)


This summer I will begin my 20th year in studio ownership. Over the past two decades I’ve seen a lot of trends in our industry – some great and some not-so-great.  

On the up-side I’ve seen the popularity of dance shows and competitions drive more involvement in dance studios than ever than before. And opportunities for students to learn outside the studio are at an all time HIGH. In most major cities, most weekends of the year, students can find opportunities to participate in conventions, competitions and master classes.  Three cheers for opportunities to grow!

However, the same popularity that has created increased traffic to our dance studios has also created a growing number of less-than-ideal, and sometimes even unacceptable, convention and competition environments for our kids.  Does this sound familiar? Missing school for competitions that start on Thursday nights, dancing from 7am until 11pm awards only to start again the next day at 7am, and seeing kids disappointed with High Gold awards, even if it’s what their performance truly earned.

I’ve been there. I am want to do my part.

To that end, I am excited to announce that we have partnered with Untapped Movement to create a the One Family Festival, July 13-15 in Chicago,l to provide happy, healthy and safe experiences in dance.

Have you been looking for an event with excellent dance classes that creates a space for dancers to connect while sharing their stories in an uplifting and supportive environment? One Family Festival is exactly that.

The One Family Festival will be a place for everyone to come no matter their skill, age, or background to connect with a community of others who share the same passion and love for dance. We believe that everyone has something to say whether it is through words or movement and what better place to have your story heard than at the One Family Festival surrounded by those who share similar experiences. Our goal is for you to leave proud of all you have accomplished through the master classes and workshops, experience a deeper connection with the dance community, and most importantly, feel inspired by the unique stories shared throughout the event.

This festival is designed to be a place to train, recharge, connect, grow, learn, hope, and dream. Whether you’re an individual dancer from east Tennessee or a competition studio from Sydney, Australia, there is a place for you here.

More Than Dancers and Untapped are organizations partnering together in the One Family Festival. More Than Dancers is an online magazine created for dancers to access tips and advice to promote balanced living, to be encouraged, and inspired. Untapped Movement is a popular online community rapidly connecting dancers and studios around the world. Together, they share the same vision and to connect everyone together through the art and beauty of dance.

At One Family Festival, students will experience an array of master classes and workshops to help grow in their craft while connecting with those around them. Not only will dancers learn from the top teachers in the industry but they will make friends with them as well. Dancers will be able to showcase a specific routine, costume, and music that best represents their story then share it with the audience. A cinema room will be provided the opportunity to have their performance captured on a real film set with a set of Hollywood-quality lighting and cameras. They will also get to watch an exclusive screening of the newest One Family film.

If you are looking for something a little different (well, A LOT different) and you want to place to be a part of something greater, then we want you to come to the One Family Festiva!. Please consider joining us in Chicago, July 13-15, 2017, it will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

Grace and Peace,


One Family Festival Details

DATES: JULY 13-15, 2017

LOCATION: Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, Chicago, IL

Hyatt Regency McCormick Place

2233 South Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive

Chicago, Illinois, USA, 60616-9985



Dancer Registration – $299

Teacher Registration – $249

Check out onefamily2017.com for more event info!

Normally I would kick off the new year by talking about goals and business growth, but last week my son was in a pretty tough snowboarding accident while we were on vacation in Colorado.  He’s going to be okay in time and for that we are VERY grateful. God is good.

When your kids are hurt it can really change your perspective on what’s really important in life.  So I’m going to save talking about business growth and goals for another day and use today’s message to share my 10 REAL Wishes for You for 2017 🙂

​1. HEALTH – Wealth means nothing without health to enjoy it. I wish you abundant health…physical, mental, relational and spiritual health.

2. WEALTH – Not just the money kind….that’s the lowest common denominator. True wealth is about relationships and time. I wish you true wealth.

3. JOY – Joy is different than happiness. Happiness is situational. Joy transcends situation. It’s an outlook, not an emotion. I wish you grace for each day and joy for the journey.

4. GROWTH – We know as dancers that the only way a muscle grows is with challenge and stretching. Lean into your challenges, don’t shrink from them. I wish you growth.

5. FIRM FOUNDATIONS – That you would build your life on the rock of things that matter most at the end of our lives…family, faith, friends. Most business coaches would say, “What would you do in business if you could not fail?” I take a different view by asking, “What would you still have if you lost everything?” I wish you firm foundations.

6. FOCUS – Nothing causes more stress is than being stretched in too many directions and nothing creates more stability and progress than focus. I wish you focus.

7. RESILIENCE – May we be people that bounce and don’t break. May we rise when we face challenges. I wish you resilience.

8. CREATIVITY – Creativity is the opposite of burn out. It comes from the heart and is the well-spring of life. It gets us up in the morning and fuels our hopes and dreams. I wish you creativity.

9. BOUNDARIES – Knowing what to let in is as important as knowing what to keep out. Know which burdens to carry and which ones to bury. I wish you boundaries so you can choose your battles wisely.

10. UNITY – Unity in your families, businesses, teams and communities. Unity is the opposite of strife and drama. Unity is born of respect, patience and compassion and clarity vision. Unity in our country begins with unity in our homes and classrooms. I wish you unity.

Let us not leave 2017 the same people as we entered.

Grace and peace,

The school supply lists are posted at Target, the mailbox is filling up with paperwork for registration for my children’s schools and Facebook is blowing up with pictures of kids in backpacks. It’s officially time for back-to-school and that means it’s time to get serious about back-to-dance!

As a studio owner, I’m a big fan of observing what the local schools do and taking my cues from their systems.  For example, we do our registration for summer classes when the local school opens theirs. We offer parent teacher conferences just like the schools do and we follow their model for teacher training as well.

Most studio owners consider themselves to be in the business of training students, but the strongest studios I know understand that they are in the business of training teachers as well.

Here are 5 tips to step up your teacher training this year with Staff Meetings that ROCK:  

  1.    Timing is everything.

Time is the most important commodity we have.  Make your meetings few and powerful. I meet with my full time leadership team once every two weeks and the entire staff once each quarter. Our bi-weekly leadership meetings are about 1.5 hours in length and our quarterly all-staff meetings are three hours. Bi-weekly leadership meetings focus on weekly operational issues such as scheduling, weekend events, student concerns, ordering costumes, dress code, equipment and tracking classroom progress. Quarterly meetings are centered on important times in our dance season: back-to-school kickoff in August, recital planning in October, parent-teacher conferences and competition details in January and preparing for the two biggest events of the year—registration and recital—in April. Respecting people’s time and hitting the most important parts of the season are two keys to having successful staff meetings.

  1.    Remember that there are three parts to every successful meeting.

The most successful meetings we have address three areas:

  1.     Informational
  2.     Inspirational
  3.      Instructional

Take our Back-to-Dance meeting for example.  A big part of this meeting is informational in nature—reviewing schedule changes, turning in contracts and going over employment handbooks. But, the real purpose of this meeting is inspirational.  Back-to-school is a time for your teachers to remember why they became teachers in the first place and to set new goals for the year. The last part of a successful meeting is instructional.  The best teachers never stop learning, so take advantage of this time together to teach your team something new. It could be as simple as getting everyone in the studio to decide what preparation for pirouette is going to look like for all the classes at your studio or it could be a short teaching on time management or customer service.

  1.    Develop a theme for the year.

Every year at my studio we have an overarching theme that helps us to focus our activities.  One year when we were in a high period of growth our theme was “Every Student, Every Class”. The idea was that even though we had become a larger studio we wanted every student in every class to feel the warmth of personal and  positive attention. This year our theme is “Energize Enrollment” because we have set some ambitious enrollment goals for the upcoming season.  At each of our meetings we talk about how we are measuring up against the theme that we have prioritized for the year.

  1.    Celebrate what you want to elevate.

Staff meetings are a great time to “lift up” what you want to “build up”. For example, one of our core values is service so I give shout outs at our meetings to staff members who have recently gone the extra mile for their colleagues or our clients.  If dress code is something that is important to you, give some public praise to a teacher exemplifies that. We even have an old-fashioned star chart to measure teacher progress just like you might see in a Kindergarten classroom. Our teachers are broken into teams and the teams can earn stars over the course of the year for things like dress code, attending meetings, turning their music in on time, helping colleagues by subbing, etc. Our teachers love it and get silly-competitive over earning stars because they know prizes will be handed out at the next meeting for the leaders.

  1.    Bring the fun!

Most people equate the word meetings with the word boring, so find ways to break it up with some fun. One time we kicked off a meeting by tossing a ball from person to person asking them to share one thing we would never guess about them. Who knew I had one staff member whose mom is Australian and another who rides a Harley?!  We have also broken it up by giving out dollar-store type prizes for our star chart winners and tossed out small candy bars for those who could answer pop questions about schedule or policies. When the meeting is about recital, we bring food to keep them fueled during the planning process. The idea is to make doing what you NEED to do something that they WANT to do.

How about you? What do you do to make your staff meetings worthwhile for teachers and owners alike?  Leave your ideas in the comments below.  Have a great season kick-off everyone!

I love my kids. I really do! In fact here’s a picture of them on a recent road trip just so you can see how sweet and silly they are.  

MM 16

My kids are great and I love being a mom.


It’s the end of summer and all of this free-schedule-business has taken a toll on things. There are messages piled in my email, contracts that need signing, lesson plans that need writing, and laundry that needs washing. In fact, my fourth child, Max, just told the little boy who slept over last night, “You are so lucky you have socks!”  Ugggh.  Friends, let me assure you that my kids have socks. Many socks. They are just not in drawers as of this moment.  

But before I get too far on the challenge of the “summer slide”, let’s just think back to May.  If you were like me you were saying, “I’m tired of schedule and grind! I need a break! I just need the freedom of summer!” And now here I am crying “Uncle!” because I just need to get back to a schedule.

That’s kind of how life is…whatever we are in is the hard spot and the promised land always seems just around the corner. So today I am going to parent myself and tell myself, “Enough whining. Enjoy what you have TODAY.”

I only have one week left of summer vacation and everything on my desk can wait until the kids go back to school. Because the reality is that one day I won’t have any kids at home to spend  a summer day with and do you know what I’m NOT going to say at that time?  I’m not going to say, “Boy I wish I would’ve spent those last hours of summer on email.”

So ENJOY that last bit of summer freedom, friends. The schedule will be here soon enough and your to-do list will wait. Lists are very patient that way:)

It’s Earth Week. But for the sake of today’s Misty Minute, I want to focus my attention on the most important environment I believe we can nurture and protect—the environment in our homes. 

Our geographic environment has a climate and so do our homes.  And, as a studio owner, the environment in my home around recital time can be chaotic to say the least.

Mornings set the temperature for the entire day.  On a good day that means I’m up before the kids get up.  I’ve had some quiet time, folded some laundry, checked over the schedule for the day, signed the reading calendars and made a plan for breakfast.   

But, if I’ve had a late night working, well, I don’t have to tell you where that can lead.  My daughter won’t be able to find THE water bottle she needs for dance. Papers will be forgotten and the neat pile of clothes I folded at midnight will be shredded as four wild animals, I mean my four handsome sons, tear into it looking for the right sized denims.  And, that’s not counting the dishes that will be left on the counter and crabby words I’m likely to say before we part ways for the day.  

If there have been too many chaotic days lately, it’s time to institute a climate change.  What’s the change, you ask?  Us.  And, it starts with the word “No”.  “No” to taking on that extra class or choreography opportunity. “No” to one more lunch meeting.  “No” to answering that angry email at 11pm.  “No” to depriving yourself of sleep and nutrition in order to get “a little more” done.  Because, let’s be real….”it” will never be “done”.  

It’s my nature to say “yes”, but, in my eagerness to serve others, my family can get lost in the shuffle.  So, I’ve spent the last year dialing back my calendar and work commitments to make more time for the things no one will ever see, but that actually matter most—dinners, homework, bedtime, conversations and snuggles. And, yes, clean laundry.  

You see, I can always teach another class, make another trip to the studio, write another article or serve on another board, but I’ll never get a second chance to raise my kids.  

Do you need a climate change in your home?  If so, I’d love to help you…

Enter to win a coaching call!

Have you ever had a day, maybe even a whole month, where you feel like you gotten caught up in the “weeds” of entrepreneurship?   It can be a muddy, thorny, unpleasant mess to get stuck in the weeds of owning your own business.  

What are the weeds of entrepreneurship?  Think of the work of starting and running your own business like that of planting and growing a garden.  You have a vision to grow something.  You turn the soil, plant the seeds, water the seedlings, protect them with a fence, add fertilizer, add stakes for support, pray for sun, and prune the plants.  You step back from the rows of green leaves and that’s when you notice…weeds creeping up around the edges of what you have worked so hard to grow.  

Entrepreneurship is a LOT like gardening.  After years of backbreaking work to grow something beautiful, weeds can crop up and take the joy out of your mission.  These surprise visitors can take many shapes and forms.  Cash flow issues, parent complaints, student attitudes, employee gossip, problems at home, health issues of your own, and the list goes on.  

It doesn’t matter what the weed is.  You need to deal with it immediately because weeds can grow ten times faster than the good stuff if left unchecked.  One day you’re walking around your business-garden admiring the fruit of your labor with only a bit of concern about the weeds creeping in at the edges.  The next time you look you’re shocked to find weeds in place of what you took so much time to nurture.  

We’ve all listened in shock before at “sudden news”.  A studio closes, a parent leaves, a student drops out of school, an employee goes off the wall, a marriage blows up, a tough diagnosis is given, and more.  But, usually there is nothing sudden about a lot of the tough news we get– it’s just a weed that has been growing for a long time and finally got tall enough to be seen above the plants you were actually trying to grow.

Do you have any weeds that you need to deal with today?  Whether personal or professional, inside yourself or outside yourself, we all have some weeds in our gardens. Look to yourself and your own attitudes, actions and behaviors and then look through your garden.  The smart gardeners take care of issues as they crop up.  

I was watching TV the other day when a new GEICO commercial came on.  A man in an office cafeteria is microwaving a burrito when the Swedish rock band Europe appears in a cloud of smoke singing, “It’s the Final Countdown!”

I don’t know if it’s a reflection of growing up in the 80s, or if the song if truly catchy, but my third son and I kept singing it over and over again for days.  “It’s the final countdown, doo doo doooooooo do, do-do-do-do.”   It didn’t matter if we were using the microwave or threatening to leave the older kids behind on the morning school run, anytime seemed like a good time for us to break out a little final countdown.  

I hit recital week with all it’s crazy sauce and I changed the words of my new favorite tune to match my new reality.  The song, “It’s the Final Countdown” became “It’s Recital Meltdown!”  I don’t know about you, but “recital meltdown” pretty much describes the last few weeks before the curtain goes up for me.  

A dance needs finishing, a costume needs shortening, and the theatre needs detailed lighting cues by midnight.  This ballet girl has to choreograph a hip hop dance for 160 dads, the recital program has a random blank page and another senior is changing her senior solo song.  We added a giant prop to opening number at the last minute (my brilliant idea), which required borrowing a trailer and two sets of stairs from the local theater department, a trip to Chicago for pick up and an army of dads to assemble.  

This, of course, is not counting the extra trips my husband and I made to the regular schools this week to deliver forgotten homework, drop off dinners, and attend track meets.  Every single activity from school to dance to sports to church is in high gear in our area during the month of May and my refrigerator looks like my gas tank.  Empty.  

It’s in these moments that we have to pull out our survival strategies.  Schedule an extra meeting explaining everyone’s responsibilities for show week and delegate additional tasks.  Finish the dance, pin the costume and email the cues.  Skip the cooking, fill your gas tank and throw some spinach on a frozen pizza.  Turn that blank page in the recital program book into an autograph page and staple the last of the prop together.  Your kid will survive you don’t make a second trip to school to deliver the track uniform.  Mine did.  Apparently they have extras of those at the school for kids whose parents refuse to make a fourth trip to school in one day.

To quote one of my entrepreneurial heroes, Marie Forleo, “Everything is figure-out-able.”   Breathe. Smile. You’ve got this.  You are a professional.  It really is “The Final Countdown” to showtime, so let’s roll!

Recital is not the only thing we are counting do to at More Than Just Great Dancing®.  We are counting down the final 15 spaces available at Studio Owner University®.

On Father’s Day I was in a gas grill accident. I thought I had lit the grill, but my Dad questioned whether or not it was on.  I heard his wife say, “I smell gas”, but I was in a hurry to get the grill going, so I didn’t take time to investigate why she would say that. Even so, as I reached my hand to the ignitor I remember thinking, “This might not be a good idea.”


In an instant a boom shook the neighborhood as the gas that had been trapped under the hood of the grill exploded sending the lid, grate, tank, oil pan and grilling tools in all directions.

I ducked on instinct, but not fast enough. A fireball hit me in the face and knocked me backwards. I remember throwing my hands to my face and running into the house, saying “I’m okay, I’m okay!” more to reassure myself than the people around me.

As I looked into the mirror, I could see through the charcoal bits and oil spatter that I lost a bit of hairline and half of my eyebrows and lashes. There were were small brown burns under my eyes where the hot mascara hit. A visit to the ER confirmed a flash burn on the right side of my face and corneal abrasion. I still have to cut about three inches off the bottom of my hair where it singed, but other than that, I am A-OK.

But, I’m better that OK! It’s a total miracle–an actual miracle. When I was a child a family friend was in the same kind of accident and he suffered 3rd and 4th degree burns over 90% of his body.  My face was one foot away from the explosion and I am basically unscathed.  My small injuries will heal. I don’t know why God was very merciful to me. But, I intend not to waste it.

I’ve been thinking non-stop about the incident and the lessons I can learn from it. I think they apply to business as much as they apply to grilling.

  1. THINK before you act. Small actions can have explosive results.
  2. Safety FIRST. No shortcut is worth the potential price you might pay.
  3. Know what you are getting into BEFORE you get into it.
  4. There is great value in staying CALM in crisis. The people around you need it more than you do.
  5. It’s healthy to cry after crisis, but FUNCTION during it. Good decisions depend on you having your head on straight.
  6. Life is FRAGILE. So, so, so, so fragile.
  7. Be GRATEFUL every day.  Every day is a GIFT from God. We have a lot of influence on how we spend our days, but we don’t control the number of them.
  8. Nothing on your to-do list is more important than family. FOCUS on what’s in front of you, not always what’s next.

Sometimes in life, we all need a wake up call. Perhaps you have been running on empty or on autopilot for too long. Maybe you have gotten so buried in the work of keeping your business alive that you have forgotten how to make a life. If that is you, let today be the day that you PAUSE and take time for the people and things in life that really matter.


Are you looking for more inspiration?

As many of you know, I have been working on a book called, One Small Yes. The book gives a peek into my personal journey of saying yes to opening a dance studio instead of pursuing a performing career and how that eventually became the worldwide movement of More Than Just Great Dancing.

It is about helping people of all ages and backgrounds say YES to their hopes and dreams.

The book will be published next week on Amazon. As a Misty Minute reader, you’ll be the first to know when it comes out!

As a little bit of an appetizer, here is some advance praise from some industry leaders and my friend, Darren Hardy, for Publisher of SUCCESS magazine:

“One Small Yes taught me how to stop with the busy work and connect with my life’s work. It’s the perfect pick-me-up for every entrepreneur. Misty is an entrepreneur with heart, someone who genuinely cares for the success of others.”

-Austin Roberson, Founder, StudioOwnersAcademy.com

“One Small Yes is yet another brilliant gift to the world from Misty Lown. It is an essential read for anyone, whether they are well on their path, or seeking to find it. It shows how a regular girl became an extraordinary woman One Small Yes at a time. I was inspired by Misty from the moment I met her, and I was fascinated with how one woman could own so many businesses, have 5 children, travel the world inspiring others and remain such a down-to-earth, beautiful human being. Her humble and often vulnerable account of how she made the journey will open the gateway for so many others.”

Lisa Howell, (B.Phty), Registered Physiotherapist, Founder and Owner of Perfect Form Physiotherapy and The Ballet Blog

“One Small Yes shows you how the life and business you want can be yours, when you simply decide. Misty’s journey is not only inspiring, it demonstrates that by taking small steps each and every day that we can really achieve anything. It’s a must read for anyone who’s at a point in their life when they know they could be achieving more, from impacting the lives of more people to filling up their own cup to achieve more fulfillment. This book guides you through a story of hope, hard work and heart with plenty of actionable takeaways that you can apply to your business and life so you too can achieve your very own version of success!”

-Clint Salter, CEO, Dance Studio Owners Association

“Misty Lown is first class and this book will help you and your business get to the front of the line! As the owner of several small businesses with over 30 years of experience I recommend you take the time to read this informative book”

Steve Sirico Founder Dance Teacher Web & D’Valda and Sirico Dance and Music Centre

“If you want to build a life and a business that makes a difference, Misty Lown will show you the way. What she has accomplished one “yes” at at time is an inspiration to entrepreneurs everywhere. If you want to be inspired as you learn new ways to live a life of significance then One Small Yes is for you.”

-Darren Hardy, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Compound Effect and former Publisher and Founding Editor SUCCESS Magazine


I can’t wait to share it with you!



Today ran into a student that I “lost” about five years ago.  When I say I “lost”, I mean to say I fought long and hard to keep her engaged and growing as a student, but in the end I was not able to keep her with our studio.  Despite my best effort, she moved to another dance studio in the middle of high school and eventually transitioned to sports.  

I still remember getting the email announcing her departure.  I thought about it non-stop while driving to Florida for a family vacation.  My body was in the car, but my mind was somewhere three months prior reliving every previous interaction looking for signs…anything I could’ve done differently.  But, I couldn’t have.  Even though did my best, I felt defeated and questioned my ability as a leader.

Fast forward five years and this former student is now a young adult about to graduate college.  Barely recognizing her at a sporting event for my own children, I took a chance and called out her name.  She turned, clearly surprised to see me, and something flashed in her eyes…was it a memory? Nervousness? Uncertainty?  

None of it mattered anymore.  This was a kid I cared about and mentored for a very long time, so I jumped in as if not a day had passed.  I asked about the last years of high school, her dancing, her pursuit of sports, eventual injuries and subsequent surgeries.  I shared my favorite memory of her as a dancer–a beautiful night of improv to live worship music.

And, then it happened.

A sparkle came to her eyes.  Her face softened and she said, “You know sometimes I miss the dancing, but my body won’t let me do it anymore.”  I told her I was proud of all she was doing and wasn’t surprised at all to hear of her accomplishments in sports, school and beyond. She had always been a high flier.

And, then my heart softened…towards myself.   You see, I hold myself to an incredibly high standard.  My mind knows that a perfect score in business is not possible, but even so, that’s what I measure myself against most days.  

What a gift to see this young gal and realize that I had an important part of her journey for a long time, but it really was hers to complete her way.   I wasn’t able to take her to the finish line of her high school experience, but I ran alongside her a good long distance and all these years later we can laugh and smile and hug and watch a track meet together.  

Grace wins.  I needed to be reminded of that today and maybe somebody reading did, too:)


Tomorrow is launch day for my new book, One Small Yes™! I’m super excited to share this book with you!

In the morning I’ll be sending you a link to download my book from Amazon completely free of charge, as my gift to you, for your journey in success! It will only be free for a few days, so get it while it’s hot off the press. Thanks and appreciation in advance for your honest Amazon reviews.

At 1pm ET tomorrow, I’ll be featured LIVE online for my launch party, showcasing my book along with a few other authors, and you’re invited! You’ll get to hear the inside story about how I made it through the book writing process and how I went from a simple book idea to being published in 90 days!  You won’t want to miss this unique, behind the scenes, sneak peek!

If you join me live, you could win over $1,000 in giveaways and free books! If you can’t join us for the party live, you can still receive access to the recording. Really hope to “see” you there!

Welcome to PART 3 of the 3-Part Series I will be sharing on “Mastering Your Life”.  

Last week I challenged you to raise your “average of 5” and to take a good, hard look at how the people you spend the most time and ask whether they are having a positive effect, or negative effect, on your ability to master your personal habits.  

I’ve heard from many of you that you would LOVE to raise your “average of 5”, but it’s a tall order where you live and work.  I totally get it.  Being a studio owner can make hard work of developing deep relationships.  

I work from home all day, but I never quite fit in with true stay-at-home moms because things like payroll deadlines and calls for subs interrupted play dates.  And, I didn’t identify with traditional working moms either because I didn’t have the pressure to be presentable or get my kiddos to daycare by 730am.  Yoga pants are my uniform; my kitchen table is my office.  Studio owners are a unique breed of business owner indeed.

Feeling peerless is one challenge. Time is another.  If you are fortunate to develop strong relationships outside the studio, good luck finding time to nurture them.  Tuesday night book club invite? Forget about it. We’re running several hundred kids through classes by 6pm.  Weekends?  Not between February and June unless you want to join me at dance convention, recital or registration.

I hear you.  I’ve lived it.  I still live it.  Everyday. My brick and mortar dance studio serves 750 kids each week and my own five kids still need dinner each night.  Somedays those two things work great together.  Other times they collide.  

This leads me to the third of our 3-Part series on Mastering Your Life.  

Part 3:  Gratitude and grace.  

Self-employment is AMAZING!  It is also a GRIND. Parenthood, marriage, health, you-name-the-topic, can be, too.  With so many highs and lows, I’ve learned from my mentor Darren Hardy, to work on flattening the curves of this roller coaster called entrepreneurship.  Here are my two best strategies:

  1. Gratitude. Start and end the day in gratitude.  You could also journal, write a thank you letter, or send love to someone who has helped you out.  If you feel beat down, try gratitude.  As my grandpa used to say, “Anytime you wake up on this side of the dirt, it’s a good day!”  Self-pity and gratitude simply can’t live in the same place.  One will push the other out.
  2. Grace. I can’t say it enough.  Grace to start another day, grace to finish.  Grace to reset when things go wrong.  Grace to admit when you’ve messed up.  Grace for those who have wronged you.  Grace to get up and try again.  Grace – You can never get too much and it never runs out.  

Sound simple?  It is.  Sound hard?  It’s that, too.  But, I guarantee that if you practice little more gratitude and grace, get a hold of your money habits (spending, saving and giving), raise your “average or 5”, 2016 will be a year like no other.  

Keep going!


PSAre you ready for MORE?

Authentic Relationships



Business Strategies


Then join me for Studio Owner University, October 19-20 in Chicago for three days of business training and encouragement with studio owners from around the globe.


Welcome to PART 2 of the 3-Part Series I will be sharing on “Mastering Your Life”.  

Last week I challenged you to master the “Habit of 3” and get control of your financial life in three areas:  

  1. Spending
  2. Saving
  3. Giving

How did the week go? If we met for coffee today would you be able to tell me how much of the money you will earn this month is being committed to spending?  Perhaps spending was easy to tackle for you because much of your spending is pre-scripted:  mortgage, utilities, car, payroll, etc., but giving is hard.  Or perhaps, you are like me and you like giving so much you give an inordinate amount of your hard earned money to Target corporation. (Hey, who doesn’t like another good lamp?)

Are you ready to break bad habits over your finances?  Here’s the secret:  It’s not enough to have knowledge, ideas or goals.  That’s just the starting line of pursuing all you were created to be.  The race between the starting line and the finish line requires a endurance, strategy and good advice.  Real change is about increasing your averages.

Part 2:  Increase your “Average of 5”

Tough news, but it’s a fact: In five years you will be the average of the people you spend the most time with now.  

If the people you hang out with have strong leadership habits, you are more likely to be a strong leader. If they work are continually learning, you are more likely to keep growing as well. If they are spending wisely, saving for retirement and giving generously, guess what?  You are more likely to do that, too.  

On the other hand, if you the people you spend time with tend towards lazy, gossipy, complaining, behaviors guess where your habits are going?  That’s right…the same direction.  

Average the “5” people you spend the most time with wisely.

Regardless of whether you are a stay at home mom, an entrepreneur or you work for someone else’s business, raising your “average of 5” NOW will benefit you for years to come.  

So what do you want to do MORE of?

Do more

Rest more

Give more

Save more

Praise more

Travel more

Exercise more

Play more

Then find people who do that ONE thing well and spend time with them.

Need more help developing your “raising your average”?  Join us for Studio Owner University, October 19-20 in Chicago for three days of nuts and bolts business training with like minded studio owners from around the globe.


What’s on your to-do list this week?  If you are like most people I know, you have more on your list than time in the day.  

I’m with you!  My dance studio serves over 750 kids in our regular weekly classes, not counting our community outreach programs which serve another 600 over the course of the year.  Competition starts this weekend and recital costume distribution is in full swing.  And, that’s just what’s going on in the “right now”. The other half of my brain is living six months in the future trying to figure out how to staff the fall schedule.  And, then the other half of my brain (yes, dance teachers have three halves), is trying to figure out what I can make for the kids for dinner without making a trip to the store.  Sound familiar?

But, of all the things you have on your to-do list, there are 3 that are probably NOT on your list, but that SHOULD be.  If you can get these three things right, the other things on your list will follow, or at a minimum, they will fall into place much more easily.  

This is the first of a 3-Part Series I will be sharing on “Mastering Your Life”.  

Part 1:  Develop The “Habit of 3”

Money.  We all know how slow it comes and how fast it goes; especially for entrepreneurs.  And, that’s just on a regular month.  When you add in the challenge months, like SUMMER, the words cash flow takes on a whole new meaning.  

I’ve been there.  But, one of the best things I ever did as an entrepreneur was to develop the “Habit of 3”:

  1. Part of what you earn should be for giving.
  2. Part of what you earn is for saving.
  3. Part of what you earn is for spending.  

Simple, but not easy. The first habit I developed was giving. I would give myself silly if given the opportunity.  Nothing thrills me more than being able to help others.  The savings habit was harder to develop because there always seemed to be bottomless list of improvements to be made and expenses to match.  After I tackled the giving and saving habit, it was time to buckle down and develop some sensible spending habits.  It’s astounding how much money you can save if you just start actually looking at what you spend each day.  

Mastering your money habits NOW will benefit you for a years to come and help you prepare for the future!

Need more help developing your “Habit of 3”?  Join us for Studio Owner University, October 19-20, in Chicago. For two days we will be helping you through the of nuts and bolts of business training and providing networking opportunities with like minded studio owners from around the globe.


What’s on your to-do list this week?

If you are like most amazing studio owners I know, you have more on your list than time in the day.

I’m with you! My dance studio serves over 750 kids in our regular weekly classes, not counting our community outreach programs, which serve another 600 over the course of the year. Competition starts this weekend and recital costume distribution is in full swing. And, that’s just what’s going on in the “right now”. The other half of my brain is living six months in the future trying to figure out how to staff the fall schedule. And, then the other half of my brain (yes, dance teachers have three halves), is trying to figure out what I can make for the kids for dinner without making a trip to the store. Sound familiar?

But, of all the things you have on your to-do list, there are 3 that are probably NOT on your list, but that SHOULD be. If you can get these three things right, the other things on your list will follow, or at a minimum, they will fall into place much more easily.

This is the first of a 3-Part Series I will be sharing on “Mastering Your Life”.

Part 1: Develop The “Habit of 3”

Money. We all know how slow it comes and how fast it goes; especially for entrepreneurs. And, that’s just on a regular month. When you add in the challenge months, like SUMMER, the words cash flow takes on a whole new meaning.

I’ve been there. But, one of the best things I ever did as a studio owner was develop the “Habit of 3”:

  1. Part of what you earn should be for giving.
  2. Part of what you earn is for saving.
  3. Part of what you earn is for spending.

Simple, but not easy. The first habit I developed was giving. I would give myself silly if given the opportunity. Nothing thrills me more in business than being able to help others. The savings habit was harder to develop because there always seemed to be bottomless list of improvements to be made at the studio and expenses to match. After I tackled the giving and saving habit, it was time to buckle down and develop some sensible spending habits. It’s astounding how much money you can save if you just start actually looking at what you spend each day.

Regardless of whether you are a large studio or a small studio, mastering your money habits NOW will benefit you for a years to come and help you prepare for the day when you won’t be running your business any more:)

Need more help developing your “Habit of 3”?

Join us for Studio Owner University, October 19-20 in Chicago for three days of nuts and bolts business training with like-minded studio owners from around the globe.

As I sit down to write this article, it’s 10 below zero outside the doors of my studio. We are in the depths of winter in Wisconsin and summer is on my mind. But, I’m not thinking about vacations or visits to the local pool. My mind is fixed on the programming I can offer to bring kid IN to the studio once school is OUT.

Summer is typically a hard time to keep things going for school year-based businesses such as ours. I suspect that if you are reading this article you, too, are looking for ways to strengthen your summer programs. If so, keep reading for 7 Ways to Ensure a Stronger Summer! The road to a strong summer starts NOW. Take an afternoon to pound through this checklist. You’ll thank yourself in July.

Ensure your summer success by taking time to plan today.

1. Survey the families.

Do you remember when you were a student and your English teacher told you to consider your audience before writing a word of that research paper? Turns out she was right. You have to know who you are speaking to before creating a single offering. Are your families looking for weekly classes in the summer or would they rather come every day for one week straight and then move on to other activities? Are they looking for theme-based camps or technique-based intensives? You’ll be surprised how much clarity you can get just by sending a simple survey to your families before the planning begins. Not ready to survey parents? Ask your students  🙂

2. Gather the troops.

A successful summer program depends on having not just ENOUGH staff, but the RIGHT staff, to pull it off. If your parents want weekly summer ballet classes or the opportunity to get a jump-start on next season by setting solos in the summer, you are going to have to make sure you have the specialists around to serve those needs. Once you know what your clients want from your summer program, you can start confirming availability with teachers.

3. Study the landscape.

As a mom of five kids I know that the competition for our summer spending is hot. There will be a night not too far from now when I sit at the kitchen table with ten brochures for summer camps for my kids in front of me. Your dance parents are no different. They are also trying to give their kids as many interesting and meaningful summer experiences as they can. Maximize your chance to be a part of their summer schedule by understanding what your programs will be competing against. In our community, the university, school district and parks district all have robust summer programs so I make sure my pricing and program packages are comparable. For example, if they are all offering weekly day camps, it doesn’t make sense for me to offer a program that meets once a week all summer. It simply wouldn’t line up with the other things kids are doing and would likely be passed over come scheduling time.

4. Call in the experts.

Summer is a great time to call in the experts. Start sending emails today to the guest teachers you know who might be willing to come in and share their knowledge with your students this summer. And, don’t forget about experts that are complimentary to dance: nutritionists, photographers, boot camp instructors, sports psychologists, yoga instructors, chiropractors and more. Your community is likely bursting at the seams with people who have an expertise that would benefit your dancers, saving you the expense of flights and housing for guest teachers.

5. Brand the boring out of it.

When my kids became school age I became a consumer of summer camps as a parent for the first time. I immediately noticed was how EXCITING the programs were. All of the sudden, my offering of “Summer Ballet Classes” looked pretty bland next to “Flip with the Ninjas Camp” that gymnastics was offering. Since that time, I’ve made a real effort to come up with attractive themes, catchy titles and compelling logos to capture the imagination of the reader. A generic “Jazz 1 Class” may be appropriate for the school year, but it just won’t cut on the summer camp circuit.

6. Publish and Promote.

We may be in the digital age, but printed brochures still rule the summer camp world. Remember when I talked about sitting around the kitchen table with camp brochures and mapping my summer schedule out? That’s a real thing for parents. For as great as online everything is you still need to get your summer brochures into the hands of parents. Start with your existing clients and then work your way towards new families via community expos, local family publications and partnerships with other like-minded businesses.

7. Refine and Repeat.

Monitor enrollment trends as you ramp up towards summer. Some of the programs you offer will be bursting at the seams and some might just be a bust. Decide early to increase offerings of summer classes and camps that are doing well and to cut program that will not have enough kids to make a go of it. This will give parents a chance to choose another class or camp to fit their schedule. Summer success starts today. Are you ready to do the “winter work” now to have a great summer later?

Reprinted with permission of TuTu Tix

I was recently doing a coaching call with a dance studio owner and she was talking about how badly she wanted to expand to a second location. She was absolutely convinced that expansion was the RIGHT thing to do.

I completely AGREED with her. And, yet I STILL advised her NOT to do it.

Sound strange? Let me explain. You see, right things are not always right NOW things.

And, the right thing at the wrong time is always a wrong thing.

Unfortunately, this is wisdom I learned myself the hard way. At one time I, too, wanted to expand to a second location. I FELT it was the right thing to do and even though I questioned the timing.

Long story short….it was a DISASTER for me and I closed that location after two years.

Right thing + wrong time = Wrong thing.

Feelings or Facts?
When I opened my second studio location, I FELT it was the right thing to do. The key word here is FELT. You can navigate a lot of business decisions on instinct, but expansion is not one of them. Expansion requires FACTS. What are the numbers? Are you really out of space? You may have waiting lists on ten classes, but have you filled all of the spaces in the other 50 classes you offer? Are the wait lists on your target market (baby classes) or are you feeling the squeeze in the older kids classes who will graduate soon? Know your facts.

Family Support or Family Feud?
Launching a second location takes a lot of extra TIME for a long period of time. If you have a family that means less of your attention for the immediate future. Does your family support the idea? In my case, my husband was NOT in support of the idea and I was pregnant with our second child. I ignored these two big red flags and pushed on in over-confidence saying, ”I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again!” The expansion was a strain on our family from day one.

You can reproduce programs in other locations, but you cannot reproduce yourself. I remember the day I realized that I could literally only be in one location at a time. Including the drive time and the new baby, I could literally only choose to visit one location per day. A successful expansion depends you, but a the operations will depend primarily on a well trained and equipped team.

Back to the Start-Up Grind
There are some efficiencies to be gained in running multiple locations, such as shared staff, but in reality, opening a second location will mean back to the start-up grind for you for a while. A new business is much like a baby–and it will require a lot of care before it can before it can be left alone. Be realistic about whether or not you have the energy to go back to those days.

Count down to what you say?  To the end of 2015, of course. The end of the business year AND the end of your opportunity to make a positive impact on enrollment for the 2015-16 dance season.

One of our member studio owners, Vanessa Berry of Kick Studios in NJ,  took this challenge to heart this year and added 72 NEW STUDENTS in the last month by getting serious about actively marketing her program.

5 Actions you can take to improve your enrollment before you close the doors on the season.

We were amazed by Vanessa’s late season enrollment results, so we asked her just HOW did she do it? Keep reading for Vanessa’s insights:

1. Go After the “After Sports Market”.

Vanessa shared, “I know soccer is big in my area so I offer a product that caters to this need – what to do after soccer!  We offer mini sessions to take away the barriers to traditional registration (huge payments and commitments).  In the past 80-90% of our After Fall Sports Session kids stay on for the rest of the season.”

TAKEAWAY #1:  Meet parents where they are at with products that match their busy lifestyles.

2.  Get of out your comfort zone.

Vanessa explains, “I combined my comfort zone of Facebook promoted posts and email blasts with my not-so-comfortable of direct and personal emails.  Then I added my manager’s strength of phone calls for follow up, follow up, follow up.”

TAKEAWAY #2:  FB and email promotions alone will not take you to your enrollment goals.  This is a face to face business and people want to hear from you personally.

3.  Put the spotlight on the kids and teachers to increase engagement.

Vanessa hits the nail in the head with this one, “No one wants to hear more about my business, but they are interested in what we do and who we are.  We started promoting more of what we already do, from charity work to our great teachers to performances to new retail on social.”

TAKEAWAY #2:  Use social media posts like these to increase engagement so that when you do have an offer to share with your audience people will be there to listen.

4.  Reach out to the “lost”.

Vanessa followed up with the “unsubscribe” folks from her mailing list to thank them for their interest and to leave a positive “last interaction” with her studio.

TAKEAWAY:  Will those students come back?  Maybe not.  But, they are likely to talk about their experiences with your studio so make your last impression a good one!

5.  Black Friday is over, but holiday shopping is not!

Vanessa offered a Black Friday deal (4 weeks for $30) and 15 kids enrolled over a holiday weekend!!   This promotion took only one hour of her time.

TAKEAWAY:  Sometimes you only have to give a little to get a lot.  It’s the holiday season and people are shopping. Be generous…what will eventually reap what you sow.

I spend most of my time with kids.  With five kids at home and over 700 kids at my dance studio, it’s probably fair to say that I spend more time with kids than I do with adults!  Multiplied across twenty years of teaching dance, I have spent a lot of time with kids and seen many changes along the way.

When I first started teaching dance, five-year old girls played with dolls in the lobby, carried their tap shoes in Barbie dance bags, and wore Garanimals over their leotards.  These days its more common to see a five-year old girl playing with a cell phone instead of with a doll; the dance bag comes from Justice and the outfit is Taylor Swift.

To quote Bob Dylan, “These times they are a-changing!”  And, the time aren’t just a-changing, Bob, they are moving faster!  In fact, the accelerated speed of childhood has become so wide spread it now has it’s own name – “age compression” – a pushing of adult products and experiences on younger and younger kids.  And, it’s everywhere.

I used to feel somewhat insulated from full-blown age compression in the Midwest, but in today’s digitally connected world, what’s “out there” is also “right here”.   From TV to clothing to music and social media, what was once reserved for adults is being marketed to kids at an increasing rate.  In fact, according to the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) “tweens” spend $1.7 billion each year of their own cash, and marketers know it.

TV shows featuring teenage actors, depicting adult situations, are being marketed to 8-10 year olds.  Adult clothing styles, including spaghetti straps, skinny jeans, and knee high boots are now available in size 5T.  YouTube is filled with videos of kids singing and dancing to songs that would make grandma blush.  And, Facebook, once the domain of college students, has become a social currency for elementary and middle school kids.

And it’s not just the questionable things that are picking up the pace; even good things are speeding up.  Sports, for example, are more becoming more involved and time intensive at younger ages.  Even dance is not immune.  I recently attended a dance competition where I saw some five to seven year olds showcasing tremendous technical skills, but not necessarily a lot of class.   Is there ever a reason for children to dance the song “Wicked Little Girls”? Seriously.

As the founder of More Than Just Great Dancing™ I am on a mission to raise the bar for dance studio education and to honor, support and recognize the studios who desire to offer age-appropriate education.  Dancers growing up today will have a lifetime to navigate the complex world of adulthood.  In the meantime, I say let’s “Let Kids Be Kids”.

Today’s post is excerpted from an article I wrote for the September 2012 issue of La Crosse Magazine.

Busy with competition prep? Me, too.

Does this sound familiar? Sequins, meetings, costumes, classes, rehearsals, last minute changes to registrations and choreography, hotel reservations, and emails. Lots of emails.

And, still there is still work to do: CDs to burn, bags to pack, subs to secure, lists to check, questions to answer, phone calls to make, bags to clean, and make up to buy. And that’s just what’s on my list.

So, when it gets a little too hectic I have to remind myself…it’s just plastic.


The trophy. It’s just plastic.

Oh, I value the competition experience. I truly do. I love that the kids get objective feedback (somehow when a judge says to “point your toes” it’s like a brand new technique kids have never heard of before.) And, we build team camaraderie, make memories, work hard, reach goals and have fun.

It’s exciting. We see great studios that inspire us to be more, do more. We see studios that make our parents appreciate our own a little more:) We win prizes and awards and we all hoop and holler out support and encouragement. We find out how our ideas, training and efforts stack up against our peers.

But in the end, it’s plastic. Even the Super Duper Premium Platinum Elite Cutting Edge Award with a Cherry on Top (which I’m pretty sure my Senior Company won at the last competition:) is still just plastic.

I’m going to give my very best effort and I’m going to expect my kids to do the same, but I’m not going sacrifice my sleep and sanity or sell out what I to win a plastic trophy:)

Here’s to a high-impact, low-stress, remembering-what-really-matters weekend!


How long have you owned your studio?  If you have owned your studio for more than a few months, I would hazard to say that you have probably experienced at least a little bit of bullying.

According to Websters Dictionary a Bully is a
blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates.

Sound famiiar?  This can take all shapes and forms.  It can be the parent who grumbles to others in your lobby and starts a wave dissension, or the one who constantly questions you about your decisions and policies.  It can be a staff members who habitually does their own thing even though you have a clear policy about the issue at hand.  It can be a student who challenges your authority or stands with arms crossed and rolls her eyes in the classroom.  It can even be a family member or a friend who gives you a hard time about your “hobby-job” and the time it takes.

How do you know when to stand up and when to shut up?  Here are a couple of my “tales from the trenches” and the path I chose to take:

A high school student had become increasingly problematic and I was always putting out fires.  I got emails every week from her mom (sometimes three times per week) and the student had become defiant in class.  She disrespected every teacher and had become something of a toxic yeast in the classroom.

Stand up.  For the greater good of our program, this had to be stopped. I had the student and her mom in for a meeting with all of our teachers. We layed out her positive qualities and the areas we saw as problems.  She answered me by saying that I had “screwed her out of her senior company position”.  I told her she had to work for it, not complain her way into it.  Her mom replied, “Well, it has always worked for me.”  I knew at that moment that I would not be able to fix the situation and I let that family go:)

Last season I received an two page, handwritten, anonymous hate letter.  Among other things the letter criticized the way I dressed, my faith, my giving of scholarships to our students, and our show.  The worst part?  The part where it said “you had better start acting in public like a mother of five.”  What exactly does that look like?  I may not be the most stylish person, but I really value my faith, giving, and being a mom.  I was crushed.

Shut up.  For starters, the letter was anonymous, which means it was sent by a cruel coward and does not merit my time.  Always consider the source.  I said above that I was crushed.  I was crushed, but, I was not defeated.  I chose to let the incident make me stronger and more confident in my mission.  The writer’s objective was to bring me down, but I could’t let that happen.  I have 700 students and a family who count on me.  So, I cried for about an hour, ate ice cream for about a day, bought a nice outfit (that was one good thing that came out of it:) and then chose to forgive and let it go.

Wisdom from the trenches.  This is what we as studio owners, teachers, and entrepreneurs have at our disposal every day.  No experience, positive or negative, is wasted in this life when looked at through the eyes of wisdom.

What about you?  I would like to feature a great story about facing a bully in your business and how you handled it for next week’s newsletter.  Send me your story!  October is Anti-Bullying month.  Let’s celebrate how we have survived the bullies in our lives!

Inspiration!  See how a friend of mine and local new anchor, Jennifer Livingston, stood up to a bully on air this week.  Since Tuesday, she has gotten over 7,000,000 hits on YouTube for her on-air response.  She’ll be on The Ellen Show next Tuesday and is the one who inspired todays edition.

“Crazy Land”

I love to talk about our studio and equip people to reach their dreams! I’m an optimist, a go-getter and a dreamer!

So much so that some people must wonder if I live in a strange place called “Everything-is-great-all-the-time-land”.


I live where you do. Crazy land. Kids, bills, goals, sweat, families, teachers, students, maintenance, marketing, laundry, parades, shows, auditions, sequins, invoices, questions, rehearsals, ordering, planning…..crazy land.

For example, today I made homemade muffins in a fit of “post-recital-my-kids-don’t-know-who-I-am” guilt. The first batch was pretty good. Not quite Pinterest worthy, but definitely good. The second batch? Well, let’s just say I forgot about those puppies for a good long time while I rode my trainer bike and answered email.


Fail of the day #1.

Sometimes you can’t see a bad day coming, but the charcoal-muffins should’ve been a clue. Then I missed a board meeting and missed an important call with my credit card representative.


Fail #2 and #3

And THEN missed announcing when registration materials would be out to about 300 of the 750 families we serve (because that’s an easy-to-forget detail?)

That’s worth at least 2 more fails.

THEN I forgot about the noodles I was cooking for dinner and turned two packages to smush. Not the cheap Creamette kind, but the crazy, expensive organic, gluten-free kind (because if you’re going to wreck dinner as well as breakfast, go all out man.)

I’m not even counting fails now.

The best thing I did at this point was to walk away from the flooded stove, take my kids to the root beer stand and drown the disappointment in myself with a corndog and bucket of cheesecurds.

And, I have recovered my day of debacles.

So, when YOU have “A DAY”, just think of my muffins and smile. We all have ’em. Then go have a corndog or cheesecurds and get your groove back on!

GAME ON people! Back in the saddle tomorrow! Remember a fail is only really a fail if you don’t get back up:)

Recently I spent 13 hours traveling from ‘lil ‘ol La Crosse, WI to Winston-Salem, NC to teach and perform with Dance Revolution Convention.

The day started out with a cancelled flight, then a re-route to Dallas (because THAT’s on the way), then finally to Charlotte, where I had to rent a car and drive for an hour and a half to Winston-Salem.

By the time I got here, I missed the opening events for the convention, missed half of rehearsal, and part of my hotel was under construction–the lights hanging out of the sockets, ladders, no carpet kind of construction.

The GREAT part?  Well, what could’ve been a hot mess, was, well…great!  And, who ever says that about travel hassles and ripped up hotels? First of all, the guy at American Airlines was AWESOME.  He couldn’t change my situation, but he was so stinkin’ great about it, I wanted to hire him.  Seriously.

And, then I got on a NEW plane.  It had iPad-like devices in every leather seat along with outlets and USB ports and tons of FREE channels and games and beautiful lighting and music.  I know I’m gushing, but when you travel as much as I do, this is a BIG deal.  When there was no room for my luggage, the lady said, “No, problem.  We’ll put it up here with the captain’s.”
N to the ICE!

When I got to the hotel the check in guy managed my expectations about the condition of the hallways before I ever got up to my room.  He buttered me up with free popcorn, a free movie and free Starbucks before I ever left the desk.  Then he asked if the date on my license was 10 years off.  Well played!  After 13 hour of travel I could’ve hugged the man.

Here’s the POINT for us studio owners:  If a couple of front line workers can take two of the MOST BORING, HASSLE PRONE jobs in the world and make them exceptional, then we have no excuse, do we?

We are already in an exceptional line of work and we are the OWNERS.  We have nothing but great things to build on, so I ask you:  What are you doing in your studios that your front line people (teachers and office staff) have the ability to turn problems into WOW experiences?  At my studio we now have the $100 Happiness Policy.  It goes like this:  If there is a hassle, a mistake, a complaint, or a problem, any of my people have the ability to spend up to $100 to make it right…WITHOUT EVEN ASKING ME:)   Classes didn’t work out?  No problem, we can give you a refund.  Costume isn’t right?  No problem we’ll exchange that or fix that for you.  Didn’t have a great experience with that teacher?  No problem, try a month with a different teacher for free.

We can’t avoid the hassles that come with owning a business and serving the public.  We CAN control our reaction.  What are YOU doing to turn problems into WOW experiences?  Reply to this email and let me know!

Two weeks ago my grandpa suffered a major stroke.  I drove in the middle of the night to join my family in the emergency room.

For the next six days and nights we sat by his side in a small hospital room.  We drank the free coffee and slept in chairs.  We laughed, we cried.  We hoped for better options.

A week later we said goodbye. 

Six days of can teach you a lot.  Here are some of the thing I learned:

OBSERVATION:  The studio, and my team, can COMPLETELY run the show on their own.  I did not show up once in that entire week and everything went  JUST FINE without me.
LESSON:  When faced with a challenge the team stepped up.  I wonder how much I actually slow things down, hold us back or put things on my plate that could be handled competently by someone else?

OBSERVATION:  Many, many studio families TRULY love us.  The cards, messages, and offers of help were very overwhelming.
LESSON:  Sure there are times when families might not be happy with us because Suzy didn’t get in the front row or Sarah did’t get to the next level.  But, when the rubber meets the road, families will go to bat for you because they love you.  Crisis can bring out the best in people.

OBSERVATION:   When you are at the end of your life, YOU WILL NOT wish for another day at the office.  You will wish for more time with your family.
LESSON:   Make more time for things of lasting value…relationships, family, and faith.  Notice I didn’t say “find time”.  You cannot “find time”, you have to MAKE it.

I you know me, you know that I like to make goals.  The day I said goodbye to grandpa, I made some NEW goals:

What can you do TODAY to move closer to your goal of owning a business to WORKS for your family?  I’d love to hear from you!

This past weekend we took 51 groups and solos to competition.  The first night, four of our junior groups received a High Silver designation.

The kids were disappointed and so were the parents.  To tell you the truth, I was disappointed, too.  My daughter was in one of those groups and as her mom I thought she did a great job.  She’s my kid and she’s an amazing young lady.

But the judges weren’t judging the kids based on what WE know of them (their work ethic, cheerfulness, obstacles they’ve overcome, dedication, or passion for dance).

They judges were comparing them to what they know as the universal standards of dance…pointed toes, pulled up knees, finished lines, strong arms, core control, execution, and artistry (just to name a few:)

And, in this case, my kids fell short.

So, I put aside my feelings as a mom and put on my “teacher hat”.   Because as a teacher, I KNOW that that getting a High Silver is EXACTLY what the kids needed in order to take their dancing to the next level.  You see, we can tell them all week and every week to point their toes, finish their lines, do their core work, etc., but, it becomes white noise to them, just part of what they hear in the classroom.

Getting a High Silver, motivated my juniors to WORK, to persevere and to improve. The next day the junior kids earned a GOLD and a PLATINUM!

And the lesson wasn’t lost on the seniors either.  When they saw our first groups of the day come away with High Silver Awards, they, too, stepped up their game.  And, I’m happy to say that several came home with Platinum Elites.  Would they have earned Platinum Elite anyway?  Maybe.  Did seeing the first batch of the awards come in as High Silver light a fire in them?  Definitely!

I’m grateful the competition didn’t “give away Platinums”.  My kids had to EARN every Platinum they got last weekend, which is pretty much like the real world they will enter into after graduation. After all, there will be no prizes for 12th place in the office sales contest.  Our kids don’t need a prize for sub-par performance either.

Silver still matters. 

The competition we attended is called Eclipse, is one of our Preferred Vendors.  You can check it out here.


“No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”

My dance studio, Misty’s Dance Unlimited, has become known for giving back to the community. Some ways are very public, like raising over $400,000 for the local Red Cross by producing seven seasons of Dancing with the La Crosse Stars.  Other ways are quiet, like the $150,000 in scholarships we have given out behind the scenes for teachers and students during our first fifteen years of business.

But, MOST of the giving WILL NEVER BE SEEN—and that’s my favorite kind.  It’s the teacher who notices a child is struggling and offers to stay and help after class.  It’s the mom who takes care of another mother’s child while their family is dealing with a medical crisis.  It’s the dad who jumps-starts a car in the parking lot so a student can get to her part time job after class.  It’s the student who gives up a Saturday afternoon to perform for residents of a nursing home.

It’s the ORDINARY gestures of kindness that make a business EXTRAORDINARY! 

When I started my studio fifteen years ago, I knew that giving would be part of the DNA of the business.  After all, I had grown up seeing giving in action in the lives of my parents, my teachers, and mentors.

My parents were givers.  I remember my mom making double batches of goulash and sharing with a family down the street.  I remember my dad donating his time as a truck driver to haul hay to farmers down south for FARM AID.  I remember both parents taking care of a good friend of theirs who had been badly burned in a motorcycle accident.  He lived in our living room for five months while he healed from the 3rd degree burns that covered over 80% of his body.   What I learned from my parents is that giving is much more about WHO you are than what you HAVE.  Sometimes the best thing you can give is your time.

My school teachers were givers.  My Academic Decathlon coach opened the library early and stayed late for students.  My English teacher gave me the chance to lead my own after school club-a definite precursor to running a dance studio!  And, another teacher gave me a card with $100 in it at graduation saying she saw something special in me.  Sometimes the best thing you can give is your belief in someone.

I had a mentor in the community who was a giver, too.  Deak Swanson, a local business owner, gave me the opportunity to open my own business by constructing and leasing my first building to me—all on a handshake.  Looking back, I have often thought, “Who on earth builds and leases a building to a 21 year old dance teacher on a handshake?!”  Well, Deak Swanson did.  Sometimes the best thing you can give is to give someone a chance.

And, so in honor of my parents, my teachers, and my mentors, I have made it my goal to give, too.   And, it is my hope that someday there will be thousands of students will grow up to give of their time, talent, and treasure because they were a part of giving at the dance studio as a kid.

As Aesop said, “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”  Here’s to more giving!

The next person to register for the More Than Just Great Dancing™ PREVIEW WEEKEND (Feb. 8th & 9th, La Crosse, WI) will receive 50% OFF their workshop fee!

That’s right, if you are the next person to register for this results oriented weekend of business classes, you will SAVE!  Join studio owners from Ohio, Wisconsin, California, Florida, Minnesota, Texas, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Virginia, Illinois, and Canada at this dynamic event.

Based on YOUR requests, topics to be covered include:

Summer workshops are great…but it will be TOO LATE to get your business in order for fall classes.

Join us Feb. 8-9, 2013 in La Crosse, WI for a life-changing weekend!  This workshop is open to only ONE STUDIO in each market…reserve your space TODAY!

Today I was leading a tele-seminar for dance studio owners.  The topic was “Leadership Lessons from the Life of Zig Ziglar” and we were talking about ways to demonstrate warmth, authenticity, and love to our students and clients.  During the conversation, one of our members, Katie Owings, made a “stop-me-in-my-tracks” comment.  Katie’s comment was simple, yet profound.  Commenting on the importance of personalized service, she said:

“The bottom line is:  The more high tech we get, the more high touch we need to be.”

Stop. Me. In. My. Tracks.

You see, I am in the middle of building a beautiful new website for my studio.  I am also working with an expert to put together training materials for studio owners on search engine optimization and Google’s new search algorithms for our Preview Weekend coming up in February.

These are two really important things to do for my business.  Our world and are businesses are becoming increasingly high tech and our students are living more of their lives online.  If we want to move ahead as an industry we need to be relevant and engaged online.

And yet, when it is all said and done, dance studios are still a PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE enterprise.  People may go to Google to find dance lessons, but they won’t hire Google to teach their children classes.  People may enroll at your studio based on your reputation, but they won’t re-enroll if they don’t feel known, loved, and valued when they are in your care.

TECHNOLOGY can serve as the ignition to start a client relationship, but RELATIONSHIP is the gas that keeps it going.

So, optimize your website, tweet, blog, and post on your facebook.  Leverage every technology to get people in the door!  And, then make their investment worth while by investing in them.  Be available, be real, be interested.

The more high tech we get, the more high touch we need to be.

Feb. 8-9, 2013
La Crosse, WI


You asked for it…you got it!  

AMore Than Just Great Dancing™ PREVIEW WEEKEND designed just for busy dance studio owners!

Spend a weekend as my guest!  I, Misty Lown, will be leading fast-paced, content-jammed business workshops at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.  Additionally, you will tour our studio operations, view a classroom demonstration, enjoy a performance and a fabulous catered dinner!

Best of all, recharge your batteries with like-minded studio owners from across the country during the time of year you are actually making programming decisions for fall!

Based on YOUR requests, topics to be covered include:

MTJGD isn’t an ordinary group of dance studio owners and this isn’t an ordinary weekend:)  This is a WORKshop for motivated, growth-oriented leaders.  Get ready to GET THINGS DONE!

Summer is great…but it’s TOO LATE to get your business in order for fall classes. 

Join us Feb. 8-9, 2013 in La Crosse, WI for a life-changing weekend!

The 411:
Who:  Motivated Dance Studio Owners
What:  MTJGD Preview Weekend
When:  February 8-9, 2013
University of Wisconsin-La Crsose and
Misty’s Dance Unlimited, 980 12th Ave. South, Onalaska, WI
$249 if registered by Dec. 15
$299 if registered after Dec. 15
Basic Members receive a $150 DISCOUNT.
Premium Members attend for FREE!

If you choose to apply, and are accepted to become a member of More Than Just Great Dancing™ after attending the PREVIEW WEEKEND, your workshop fees will be REFUNDED IN FULL! 

You have nothing to lose…CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TODAY! 

PS  This workshop is only open to one studio in each market…reserve your space today!

Today I was listening to an interview with Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, the world’s largest and most influential resume hosting and networking site.   The first part of his interview was about living in “permanent beta” – that is to say never considering yourself, or your business a finished product.  According to Hoffman, you should never think of yourself as “having arrived”.

He went on to say that a “having arrived” attitude can cause a giant of any industry to fall.  He used General Motors as an example:  In the 1950s the business was an empire unto itself with over half of the cars on the roads of America bearing one of their emblems.  And, yet the once legend of industry faced bankruptcy in 2009 and again in 2012.

I was intrigued so I did a little more digging on my own.  Here is a telling comment about GM that I found on The Week:
“Finance executive Nancy Rottering, who quit in frustration in 1987, said the attitude at headquarters was, “We’re GM. We know everything, we don’t need to change.” Executives were literally walled off from the rest of the company behind the double electronic doors to the 14th floor of GM’s Detroit headquarters. They entered the building through a private basement garage and took their gourmet meals in private dining rooms. They rarely interacted with customers or even their own dealers, who knew firsthand their customers’ likes and dislikes.”

Easy to read that and shake our heads and say how dumb and ignorant the leaders of GM were.  BUT, if we’re not careful, we can find ourselves falling into some of the same patterns as dance studio owners.  We shut ourselves in our offices and defend our positions because we “know best” – we are the professionals after all, right?.  If we feel beaten down by parents, we avoid interacting with them and shrug off teacher’s input because they don’t understand the big picture, even though they experience first hand the students’ likes and dislikes.  And while I can’t say that I’ve ever had a private gourmet meal at my studio, I can say that I have entered through the backdoor to avoid the crowd in the lobby.

So, after listening to the interview I drove straight to the studio to do some “Beta-time”.  I greeted parents and students as they entered, commented on their pretty Halloween costumes (it is wear-your-costume day:), interacted positively with three employees, walked the halls and talked to parents, and most importantly…I just listened.

When I listen, I learn what the next step is that I need to take in order to grow and serve the students entrusted to my care.  When I listen, I avoid the path of GM.

General Colin Powell’s 13 RULES of LEADERSHIP.  Short, sweet, challenging, true.   

  1. It ain’t as bad as you think.  It will look better in the morning.
  2. Get mad, then get over it.
  3. Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.
  4. It can be done!
  5. Be careful what you choose.  You may get it.
  6. Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.
  7. You can’t make someone else’s choices.
    You shouldn’t let someone else make yours.
  8. Check small things.
  9. Share credit.
  10. Remain calm.  Be kind.
  11. Have a vision.  Be demanding.
  12. Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers.
  13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.
    (In the military, one always looks for ways to increase or multiply your forces.)

General Powell, the son of Jamaican immigrants, acsended from humble beginnings to the highest and most influential position in our military.  If his rules  produced that kind of result in a national military career, what could they do for YOU in your neck of the woods?

I am particularly fond of #4, #9, #11, and #13.  To piggyback on last week’s message of taking on the mindset of an entrepreneur v. that of an employee (if you missed that let me know), this week I am challenging you to step up as the LEADER of your organization.  Your employees, students and families are counting on you!

10.  Entrepreneurs educate themselves more than they entertain themselves
Employees entertain themselves more than they educate themselves

9.    Entrepreneurs have an empowering perspective of failure
Employees see failure as bad

8.    Entrepreneurs are solution finders
Employees are problem finders

7.    Entrepreneurs know a little about a lot
Employees know a lot about a little

6.    Entrepreneurs give and receive praise and correction
Employees don’t praise and avoid correction

5.    Entrepreneurs say “The buck stops here”
Employees say “It’s not my fault”

4.    Entrepreneurs build wealth
Employees make money

3.    Entrepreneurs fly with eagles
Employees peck around with chickens

2.    Entrepreneurs look into the future with expectation
Employees look into the past to the way things were

1.    Entrepreneurs take risks because of faith
Employees play it safe because of fear

I got this list in the mail from a friend of mine, Mike Stromsoe, who owns an insurance agency coaching program called the “Unstoppable Profit Producer Program”.  The point is simple…if you want your business to start producing great profit, you have to stop running it like an employee and start approaching it like an entrepreneur.  After all, if you don’t run your business with the mindset of an entrepreneur, all you have created for yourself is a JOB, but without the guaranteed paycheck and without the ability to walk away:)  It’s a daily choice of mindset…choose wisely!

That’s right, it’s time! Back-to-School means Back-to-Business for dance studio owners around the world. Fall is a time get organized, get motivated and to start with a fresh slate. It’s a time to look back at the past season and MAXIMIZE what went right and FIX what went wrong.

I have a challenge for you today.  Take 15 minutes and do the following. 

1)  Identify your biggest win from last year and make an action plan to maximize it this year.  Maybe it was a class that sold out with a waiting list.  If so, offer two, or even three of those classes.  Get testimonials from those loved it last year and promote to your current clients and on your studio FB.  Have pictures or video?  Even better!  Or, maybe you were finally able to take some time off from the studio.  Way to go!  Now go schedule a week off mid-season, or even two.  Challenge and equipe your team to survive with out you:)

2)  This one is tougher.  Identify you biggest roadblock or mess up from last year and make a plan to fix it.  Maybe you blew it with a parent or staff member.  Apologize and ask for a fresh beginning.  Maybe your family got the scraps while the studio got the good part of you.  Sit down with your calendar and prioritize your family.  Or maybe your finances are in mess.  Sit down with a pen and paper and face the music on that one.  You are the bottom line…it begins and ends with your commitment to financial responsibility.

Now, you don’t have to do everything on your list, but you do have to do something!

Today is the day to set the course for your new season…get on your way!

Today is a proud moment for
a small town dance studio owner.


My dance studio has received one of 15 “The Most Amazing Company” designations and a spot in the new business book “Engage!”  See the picture attached for the other companies that made the list!

But, here is the very best part: When I started my studio I had a vision to not only make a great living, but also to make a great impact on kids and community. There were plenty of people told me it wasn’t possible–“You’re not a strong enough dancer”, “You have no real business experience”, “You are too young”, “If you want to ‘give’ work at a non-profit”. And, my favorite “A dance studio is not a real job.”

So I stopped looking for models within the dance studio industry and started looking for other just plain great models of business….folks like Tony Hseih of Zappos! and Blake Mycoskie of TOMS Shoes. I read their stories, followed their progress and put all my energy into making my dance studio a world class operation. And, now to be the only small business included on a list with these role models takes my breathe away and makes me give GREAT THANKS to God for this journey!
Our vetting process included a review of our work and interview/surveys of our leadership team, teachers, clients and community partners. Here is the criteria:


What Is A Most Amazing Company?

The Most Amazing Companies are companies that are rising above the rest, leading the way into a new business mindset.



6They have higher quality service and dedication to a higher Purpose.


5Their employees are fully engaged and highly Productive.


4Their employees are Passionate about their jobs.


3They are Profitable, with a powerful message and actions.



The People — customers & Employees — love their services/products so much they are Raving Fans.



Their focus is not solely on profits, but also on Positive impact.



This is the More Than Just Great Dancing™ way of doing business… pursuing what’s best for people, profits and positive programs!

Are you ready to join the MOVEMENT?

I could see it coming and I still got sucked in. I am usually REALLY good at being proactive about issues and heading off problems before molehills become mountains. But this one got away from me. Even after a very long meeting with this person, I am still not sure that anything got resolved.

Aaagh. The worst part? It’s entirely my fault.

Actually, I should clarify. What the person at my studio is complaining about is not my “fault”. It’s not even a “who’s fault is it?” issue. This person simply doesn’t like the way I am running a particular program. 99% of the people love it. One doesn’t. Such is life.

So what part is my fault? The fact that I allowed myself to get badgered into a debate about it.

You see, I let this person hit my “hot spot”. Repeatedly. “Hot spot” is the phrase I use for that place where you hate be misunderstood, questioned or maligned. Where you feel the need to justify your decisions repeatedly in hopes the person will understand. Unfortunately, it can also be where pride steps in and common sense goes out the window. Hence the words “hot spot”…danger ahead!

So what’s YOUR “hot spot”? Is it when someone questions your pricing, make comments about your car or facility without knowing the everything you made this year went back into your program? Maybe it’s the constant tension between the time studio requires and your family deserves, making it hard to please either. Or perhaps, it’s the people who don’t know what’s going on, don’t arrive on time, or don’t show up at all.

I don’t know what your “hot spot” is, but I DO know that you have one. We all do. And, it is in our very best interest to be aware of it. When you realize you’re in the “hot spot” take action so you don’t get caught a poor reaction:

I know this isn’t my usual “motivational” post, but I thought someone out there might be encouraged by my failure:) If that’s you, I’d love to hear from you! You see, we are ALL still in process…Learning and growing from our experiences. Today is a NEW day, make it great!

Blessings, Misty

This week I learned that a trusted employee has been stealing from me. For about a year.

I learned this from her roommate, who also happens to be an employee of mine. The roommate let me know that there had been theft in their house and red flags went off in my head immediately.

In addition to teaching, this trusted employee had been working at my house, helping with my children. After hearing the report from her roommate, I began to wonder about all of the things I thought I had “lost” over the past year. I emailed the employee and told her we needed to talk about the things that were missing from my house. She responded immediately and came over within the hour. She confessed that she had been stealing from my house for over a year. She had taken clothes, household items, books, etc. Whatever she thought I wouldn’t miss. That day she returned most of what she had taken since Christmas. The rest she had already sold, pawned or given away.

I was shocked and yet not totally surprised. In the last year, this employee had needed a series of pay advances, had requested extra hours working at my house, had dropped out of school, and left several of her other jobs. Despite the warning signs, I hung onto her because she still did a nice job with students, she had been a student here since childhood, I had given her a $1,000 college scholarship, and I believed she would pull it together.

Her betrayal left me with some decisions to make:

First, there were practical considerations. She can no longer come to my home. She will finish up the last few weeks of the season with no pay (her sisters still dance at the studio, so I am extending this grace so as not to shame her family). She will not be invited back next season. She will no longer be able to use me as a reference or get a recommendation from the studio–her longest place of employment. She will replace or pay me for what has not been returned.

Then there are matters of the heart. I have chosen to forgive her. Her sister told me she didn’t understand how I could forgive her after she had stolen so much from me.

My answer is as follows:

“My philosophy is to run as hard and fast to the place I am going to end up anyway. I will eventually forgive her, so I might as well do it now. The space between insult and forgiveness is called bitterness and that’s a place I don’t want to live.”

Perhaps you have been through something similar, or maybe even worse. If so, my heart goes out to you and I hope you will be able to forgive as well.

Blessings and peace on your day, Misty[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]