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Ali Specialties

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Thinking about #relocating to a new city? In her latest #blog post, Ali shares six simple strategies for making a smooth transition.

6 Ways to Meet People in a New City

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all." 
– Helen Keller

They say isolation is the hallway to destruction. I am a very sociable person, so loneliness was one of my biggest concerns when I decided to move across the country and expand my business. I knew I needed to make a tremendous effort that would help me meet new people and adjust in an unfamiliar city. But I was up for the challenge. When I was looking for places to live, I bounced back and forth between the idea of renting a house versus moving into an apartment. Although a house would have made sense for someone with three dogs, I knew that it would be more difficult to meet people if I did not purposely surround myself with others. After thoroughly researching my options, I decided to go with Post Properties, as they typically gravitate to more urban areas and tend to attract the young professional crowd. This was hands down the best decision I have made. But it is not the only one I credit with the abundance of new people I’ve encountered since relocating. If you’ve recently moved or are planning to move to a new city, here are my top six tips to help you position yourself to meet the right people.

1. Opt for an apartment or condo. Unlike a single family residence, an apartment complex offers numerous opportunities for encounters with new people. Ask the property manager if they host monthly social events and look for complexes with communal amenities such as gyms or pools where other residents are likely to gather.

2. Consider a roommate. If you haven’t lived with a roommate since college or you’ve been living by yourself for several years, you may not like the idea of sharing your space with another person. However, if you’re moving to a new city where you don’t know a soul, I urge you to at least consider a roommate. I originally moved into my apartment solo, but signed a lease for a two-bedroom so that my friends and family would have a place to stay when they visited. After two months of living alone, I was approached by a new friend who was looking for a new living situation and needed a roommate. At first, I was nervous. But it only took about a week for me to recognize that I’d made the right decision. My roommate and I encourage each other to work out, explore new places, and I always have someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of. Since moving in with someone you don’t know can be risky, I strongly recommend that you do your homework before taking on a roommate. In my case I got extremely lucky and scored a friend of a friend as a roommate. Ask around. You never know who you know that could know somebody amazing. Also, make sure to have a discussion with your future roomie about your lifestyle, habits, and expectations for a roommate. While the two of you don’t need to be exactly alike, you don’t want to end up in a situation where the person is overly wild or messy or everything they do gets on your nerves. If you communicate with the person properly and agree on the important things, there is no reason why the living arrangement shouldn’t work out.

3. Be neighborly. A great apartment complex won’t do you any good if you’re a hermit and don’t make an effort to get to know your neighbors. Introduce yourself. Bake a dessert and drop it off, or initiate a conversation when your paths cross. Typically, you’ll fit right in with people who share common interests. I have met all kinds of new people while grilling out in the common area and watching football outside on Sundays. Shared dinners with my neighbors are becoming more of a tradition, and nothing beats a last minute text from a neighbor to come over and enjoy a glass of wine.

4. Become a groupie. You know all of those activities that you enjoy? Start doing them in groups. Enjoy running? Sign up for a running club. Want to improve your public speaking? Look up a local Toastmasters club. Hoping to be a better cook? Enroll in cooking classes. This is a great way to surround yourself with like-minded people while doing the things that you love. For me, horseback riding at The Balance Point Equestrian Learning Center has been a great experience. They even invited me to the ranch to ride on Christmas Day which was very kind. I am also looking forward to photography classes and tennis lessons this year. Put yourself out there and do the things you love (with others).

5. Rescue a dog. Dogs not only provide you with security and friendship they are an instant source of conversation. I couldn’t imagine not going on long walks or play dates with my dogs. Having the companionship of a pet will definitely ease the loneliness of living in a new place. In addition to constant companionship, pets are great conversation starters. Remember that young and happening apartment complex you moved into? I guarantee there will be lots of young people outside walking their dogs there. Most people adore their pets and love talking about them to anyone who will listen. Open that door and you’ll no doubt find yourself chatting about your four legged loved ones. While pets can certainly add value to your life and enhance relationships, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that adopting an animal is a lifelong commitment. If you are not prepared to take on that responsibility, do not take it on. If you think you want a pet, but recognize that you’re not in a position to adopt one, you can get your “fix” by volunteering at a local shelter or even fostering a pet as a short trial period to see what it would be like.

6. Sit at the bar or a shared table. Whether you are alone or with another person, I recommend sitting at the bar or a shared table versus an isolated booth. Some of my best conversations in Austin have been initiated by sitting at the bar, so no matter the venue – restaurant, sports bar, or a local coffee shop – I always try to choose a seat that welcomes conversation with other guests. I have found that the city of Austin is full of active young professionals, which makes attracting people with common interests much easier.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. There is a whole world of people out there to meet. As we grow, I believe that we tend to attract (and are attracted to people) who fit our current life situation. In a short period of time, I have made lifelong friends in a brand new city, which was exactly what I wanted to accomplish. Remember that you don’t need to move across the country to make new friends; you might be on vacation or just going about your day in your hometown. Keep an open mind and look for opportunities to form new relationships and enhance the ones you already have.
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Have you been thinking about starting a podcast? +Mike Allton and +Shannon Hernandez will BE discussing everything you need to know during this FREE WEBINAR - TODAY!
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Check out the Tampa Bay Business Journal's 2015 finalists in the "Nearly Big Best Places to Work" category!
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Is your #LinkedIn profile looking a little lonely? This video explains how to obtain Hollywood level accolades.
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Check out the newest blog post from!

You Can Have Anything You Want in Life if You Dress For it"

– Edith Haead

 “You take forever to get ready.” Sound familiar? If so, you’re in good company. In my experience, finding the perfect outfit can be quite the chore if I do not plan ahead. If you are a professional, particularly if your position requires you to attend networking events, preparation is not just a way, IT IS THE ONLY WAY. Why you ask? Because you cannot go out and promote yourself or your company if you are not feeling and presenting your best self.

Here are my top 10 tips to help you get organized and to make sure you feel great every time you leave the house.

1. Organize your closet. Personally, I’m a minimalist. I do not like to have any clutter and I have zero emotional attachment to anything besides my dogs (and maybe a few DVF dresses). If you want to look your very best, start with purging your closet of the clothes that you no longer wear. Go through your entire closet and separate your clothes into three categories: Wear, Donate, Consign.  If you have worn the outfit within the past three months or can envision wearing it within the next few months, it goes in the “wear” category. If you have a piece that is worn and can’t be consigned for money, donate it to someone in need.  If you have a piece that is in great shape and carries a designer brand name, consign it!

2. Consign, consign, consign. If Kate Middleton can re-wear her clothes, so can we. While I prioritize quality over quantity, I also want to get my money’s worth so if I invest in a great piece, I will wear it again and again. If cared for properly, these items will go the distance, but when I notice that I’m wearing the same ensemble in all of my Facebook pictures, I know it is time to consign. I like to drop my clothes off at Mosh Posh in Tampa or Austin. I also use an app called Poshmark to sell clothes I no longer wear, which frees up closet space and money for new outfits.

3. Cut costs with creativity. Your budget may be limited, but there’s no cap on your imagination. Channel your creativity and find your unique sense of style. I recommend switching up pieces to give the clothing a different look. For example, if there is a shirt that you absolutely love, pair it with a skirt one day, then opt for a pair of jeans or different jewelry the next time to give the outfit a fresh feel. If you wear the same shirt with the same jeans, you look like a repeat offender; however, if you pair that same shirt with a blazer, voila! It looks like a completely different outfit.

4. Start with the shoes. It is easy to pull out the new purse or shoes and wear them for days or get stuck in a rut of wearing the same few outfits because they don’t require any thought or planning. Either way, the result is the same: boring! I have a new strategy that helps me wear what I have versus what I am comfortable in. My method starts with shoes. I pick out a different pair for each day of the week and use my footwear to determine my outfit. For example, on Monday I wear my favorite Stewart Weitzman over-the-knee black boots so I am more likely to grab my black pants and a loose top. On Tuesday, I wear my tan rag and bone booties, which leads me to pick out a skirt with a more fitting top.  Choosing flats on Wednesdays forces me to pick a skinny pant with a top and long necklace.  This strategy really helps me to add variety to my wardrobe choices; otherwise, I would find myself in the same outfit every day.

5. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. I am on my feet all day so well-made shoes are an absolute must. I personally prefer Jimmy Choos for stilettos because they fit my foot like a glove. Find a brand that suits you and purchase your classics. I also like to invest in a few nice purses, but I am very selective, usually opting for classic piece.   When it comes to tops, flats, and everyday wear, I am more likely to look for a deal. Some of my best finds have been in stores like Forever 21 or H&M.  For example, my military jacket is a staple piece that I wear all the time and it cost less than $30.00. Mixing high-end and low-end pieces allows you to show off your creativity and create a look that is all your own.

6. Always keep it classy! I like to play by the 90/10 rule. If a dress is showing leg, I make a point to have the rest of my body covered up. If I’m wearing a sleeveless dress, I make sure the length is not too short. If you are getting ready to leave the house and you are questioning the v in the neckline or the length of the dress, then take it off. Remember there is nothing sexier than leaving something to the imagination.

7. Wear what flatters YOUR body type. I love booties and they are everywhere right now, but I must admit that there are very few pairs that flatter my body type. I have muscular calves, so as much as I like to wear booties, the high rise cut does absolutely nothing for my legs. It took a lot of effort finding the perfect cut for me, but rather than just wear any bootie, I opted for a flat shoe or a boot until I found the right fit. All trends are not created equal and they certainly don’t work for everyone. In some cases, you’re better off abstaining altogether. You’re always better off going with tried and true styles that work for your body and taste.

8. Wear what you feel good in. There is no recipe for finding the perfect outfit for an occasion. It is something that you have to feel inside. There are some days when I prefer a more understated look and others when I love to dress to the nines. I feel equally good in either scenario as long as I’m comfortable in what I’m wearing. Feeling comfortable usually equates to feeling confident and when you feel confident, you can tackle anything that comes your way. When it comes to your professional wardrobe, it’s important to find pieces that you feel good about wearing. When you feel good, you look good, but more importantly, you’ll exude the kind of poise and self-assurance that conveys professional competence.

9. Establish standbys. Everyone looks good in black and red lipstick!  Go for it. Don’t be afraid to set aside one outfit as your emergency or fallback outfit.  For me, it’s all black in the winter and all white in the summer. If I am fussing over what to wear, I throw on black pants, a black top, and add a little pop of color on top with a scarf or a piece of jewelry. There are some days nothing will feel right and you have to have your fallback outfit ready.

10. Create a catalog. Plan outfits in advance and snap a picture to refer to when you are in a rush. I love to do this! When I find outfits I like in magazines, I’ll look for similar items in my closet and snap a picture. As a result, I now have wardrobe photo album to turn to when I need inspiration. When I am in a rush and feel like I have nothing to wear, I refer to my album to remind myself exactly what I have.

Key takeaways: Remember that feeling good comes from the inside. If you’re not happy with yourself, no designer dress will change that. Keep your closet organized and prepare your outfits for the week to prevent those “I have nothing to wear” moments.
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Do you love horses? Check out  this therapeutic horseback riding program in Tampa Bay!
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Check out this local architect's ideas for transforming Tampa's urban environment!
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Ali Carr will be speaking at the 2015 Southeast Entrepreneurship Conference, which is being held at The University of Tampa TOMORROW morning. 

Click the link below to find out more about this pitch competition and its speakers. Registration is still open so if you know of any students that might be interested, please let them know about this great 2 day workshop.

Hope to see you there!
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Check out the latest blog post from! - Ali

How to Be Your Company’s Rising Star (Even if You’re New)

“Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.” - Ann Landers

I loved my job as the golf event coordinator at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Spa. It was right down my alley. I enjoyed welcoming the groups, meeting new people, planning out every detail of their golf outings and receiving top satisfaction letters when they left. I felt like I added a tremendous amount of value to the resort, but I also saw some holes and opportunities for professional growth. Since I believed so much in the product, I wanted to advance to a sales role. This would enable me to sell to the groups I was already meeting with and attend trade shows to ensure that all companies were considering Innisbrook to host their future golf outings. I thought it was a win-win.

When I finally gathered up enough courage to ask my supervisor for a sales role, he shot me down on the spot because I had no sales experience. That day I swore to myself that if I ever became a manager, I would never deny a team member’s request to take on a new professional challenge or opportunity. While rejection is never a pleasant, I never regretted my decision to ask for the promotion. If anything, this experience motivated me to seek out new opportunities that would allow me to hone my skills.

If you’re an employee working for a small business or any size company, you may be missing out on great professional opportunities that are right under your nose. Here are five tips for any employees who are working for a small business and want to get themselves promoted.

Recognize what is working. Something has to be working if the company is producing, hiring and paying you a salary. Take some time to jot down the positives that you recognize within the organization.

Reflect on the areas that need improvement. Maybe the company has a solid book of business or a great reputation, but you feel a sales team would impact everyone tremendously. Perhaps you’ve noticed that the company’s growth in sales has resulted in a decline in the attention and support that clients used to receive. Whatever the situation, don’t sit idly by. Analyze what’s working and what’s not. In the areas in need of improvement, look for gaps that present opportunities for professional growth.

Put together a plan that involves you. This is a great opportunity to make yourself invaluable to a company. Put a plan together that you can review with the manager, owner, or the person you directly report to. Your plan should identify the issues, outline steps that need to be taken to resolve them, and how these actions will benefit the company. For example, “I think we can double our sales goals by next year. If given the opportunity to take on a sales position, my plan is to develop a new book of business and begin building a sales team over the next 90 days. I project that these actions will grow our numbers by X%.”

As a small business owner, I can almost guarantee that demonstrating this type of mindset and approaching your supervisor with a plan will eventually result in some type of professional advancement at the company, whether it’s in the form of a promotion, raise, or leadership role. Stepping up will also help you gain invaluable experience for your own life and career, no matter where you go in the future. Why not learn new skills, hone the ones you already have, and see what you are capable of while getting paid? Seize every educational opportunity; unlike college, the “University of Life” won’t require you to take out student loans.

If you decide to work for a small business, be prepared for a lot of changes. Yes, a larger corporation may be able to offer you a higher starting salary, but the standard protocols for fiscal advancement, like an annual three percent raise, pale in comparison to the possibility of doubling your paycheck by carving out your own path at a small biz (with the right mindset).

When I talk with small business employees who identify issues at the company they are working for, my advice always the same: Recognize the problem areas and base your role around fixing them. In many cases, that might entail creating an entirely new role or stepping up from the one you currently have. Step outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself – you won’t know unless you try. There is no better way to gain the experience you need to achieve the lifestyle you want.
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