Plan. Focus, and then go for it. Do not get bogged down with the illusion of perfection, or you will never move an idea from a concept into a reality.
Barb Allen is Grief’s worst enemy. After losing her husband in a tragedy that rocked the military, Barb struggled with finding her own will to live. Were it not for her love of her four children, she may not have accepted the help that came her way, and Grief may have claimed another victim. But instead, she began to realize her Will was mightier than she’d believed, and she began to turn the table on Grief.
Amply blessed with family and friends, Barbara’s world expanded further, and she developed a network that spans the country. Not even her worst mistakes overpowered her greatest triumphs as she learned valuable lessons from her experiences, and enhanced her professional worth. Today she is an award-winning author and compelling keynote speaker. She is a respected former Veterans Advocate who now counsels others through their own trying times.
Barbara is a firm believer in extracting value from experience, and using that value to create a life that is rich in beauty, no matter the odds.
She is a fierce supporter of the military and all who serve to keep our communities and our country safe, and she is determined to do her part to be worthy of their service and sacrifice. She is passionate about helping Americans remember and reinforce the greatness that still lives within our citizens.
Barbara utilizes her platform to connect and surround herself with people who have their own extraordinary stories of overcoming adversity. She now blends their experiences with her own in her work, and she is proud to share these stories and lessons with her audience via keynote presentations and the American Snippets Podcast.
People across the country relate to her story, her humor, and her struggles. She has become a powerful force against Grief and complacency and embraces the opportunity to share her experience with others.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
American Snippets is inspired by my fiance, Dave Brown and I, feeling a need to answer back to the divisiveness in this country.
My husband, Lt Louis Allen, died in Iraq in 2005. I was left to raise our 4 young boys without him in the midst of my own grief. The pain of his loss and the anger surrounding the circumstances of his death were monumental. I worked hard to find a new balance in life.
The sudden, massive uptick in anger, unhappiness, and divisiveness in this country knocked me right off that balance beam. To me, it felt like the entire country forgot about all the people who give so much of themselves to provide the rest of us with the opportunities we tend to take for granted.
Dave and I firmly believe that this country, however flawed is still an extraordinary place to live, packed with equally extraordinary people. It upset us both to see patriotism politicized – even weaponized- instead of celebrated as common ground for us all to enjoy. We decided to create a platform to share stories of people who have directly inspired and taught us. Then I had a conversation with a veteran friend, who told me about his idea for a book he would title “American Snippets.” Dave and I were smitten with that title. My friend gave me his blessing to use it. Within a few weeks we launched our first podcast episode. Since then we have grown American Snippets as a platform to help people create the lives they want while injecting patriotism into that approach. We are about to hit 100 episodes and announce our own exciting news!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
“Typical day” does not really exist for me in the conventional sense. Typically atypical is more like it. One moment I may be cleaning up a pet mess and the next I may be interviewing a hero – in the literal sense of the word. I may be grocery shopping and get a call from a someone who knows someone who needs help. I may write a chapter of a book in the morning, an article in the afternoon, or hop a train to meet someone in Manhattan. Sometimes I wind up in places like Montana on a spur of the moment work trip.
I simply never know what each week will hold. It can be exhausting but it’s where I operate best. When I had that 9-5 job, I was grateful for it but knowing that I would be in that same office, with the same people doing the same job every day of every week of every month began to kill my newfound sense of freedom.
How do you bring ideas to life?
If I have an idea I believe in, I commit to it. Once I commit to it there is no going back. I chew on the idea for a bit, letting it grow i my mind and waiting to see if it plants roots in my heart, too. If it does, it’s Game On.
Whatever that idea manifests as is okay with me, because each manifestation of an idea serves as a building block for my next idea.
For instance, I knew I wanted to run an event for other Gold Star Women(we lost a husband, son, or fiance in military service). I just wasn’t sure what it would look like. Then we heard the Patriot Tour was coming to NY and I just knew that was our sign. Within 2 weeks we had funding for the 3-day event, enlisted amazing speakers and instructors to come for free, secured a venue and opened up applications. It was a small event for 10 attendees but it was awesome. We took that experience, carried it with us as we attended several huge events, and are now about to produce our own massive event.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The slow trickle of other positive platforms is extremely encouraging to see. People are beginning to reclaim patriotism and excise politics from it. A good example is the new book, American Spirit, by Taya Kyle, where she features people across the country who are making a positive difference in the lives of others – much in alignment with the work we do at American Snippets. People are beginning to awaken to the possibilities around them and go for it. I love seeing that!
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I get up at 4:30 on weekdays. If I succeed in making it downstairs without waking up any dogs or cats, I can sit outside in the warm weather and just – be. I almost always see shooting stars, and I love watching the sky for them. That time to center myself, direct my attention to things I am grateful for, mentally pitch the day’s lineup to myself, and get clear on things allows me to wake the kids up and attack my day rather than allow the day to attack me.
It helps me be better prepared to roll with events as they unfold and not allow setbacks or unanticipated changes to the day throw me entirely off course.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Do those kegels. Really.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Apple pie should not be eaten with ice cream.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I show up. Whatever the day brings, I show up for it. Whatever shape I am in, I show up and go with it. Sometimes I am a mess but I know I still have to extract value from my sloppy self, even just a little bit, so that I feed my mindset of success. Every day I achieve something. Big or small, I make it a point to note each accomplishment and positive step. If my laptop crashes and my work is lost, then my car has a flat, and an interview cancels and it all seems to point toward an absolute failure of a day, I will do something that moves that needle forward a bit, anyway. I’ll use my phone to send out emails, make a call that scares me, do extra situps, something that allows me to end the day knowing I didn’t quit on myself so that when I wake up in the morning that mindset is what carries over.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
We plan but we do not over plan. Once we flesh out our idea we move on it. We take the time to be thoughtful and prepared but we do not get bogged down in the concept of perfection. Nothing is perfect. No matter how much you plan or prepare, something will go awry. We move on our concept and prepare to spend X amount of time working long days on it to iron out those kinks and go full throttle on what we see going well. We pay attention to what is working and what is not, adjust ourselves accordingly, and press forward.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I trusted the wrong people. Some people simply took advantage of my eagerness and trusting nature. Others full-on preyed on me. It was a very difficult lesson to learn, but eventually I learned it is okay to ask questions, trust your gut, and be very selective of where you place your trust.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
There is an emerging trend of purpose-driven companies. New companies are serving as conduits for individuals and companies who want to invest their resources in creating or supporting these companies. FairShare everywhere is one company I would recommend for anyone interested in getting in on this movement at the ground floor. I love everything about what that company is doing and believe the demand for these services will soon explode.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Taking the kids out for even a casual meal is something I love. We don’t always bring it in at $100 – usually it’s a bit more for all of us to go out to a chain restaurant but the $100 I pout toward it is well spent. It gives me time away from distractions when I make all the kids put their phones away. I am not cooking or cleaning or worried about the mess, I am just enjoying their company and I love it.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Click Funnels! Full disclosure here – when I say “I” use Click Funnels I really mean Dave. He is the one who runs that part of our operations but I know enough to know it is an excellent tool. He used it to build out his own company before we started American Snippets. It’s a sales funnel product. You know those pages you land on for events or products, that take you to another page and then another – leading you through products and to the purchase options – That’s a funnel. Once you learn it, it can launch your sales through the roof.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Burning Shield, the Jason Schechterle Story
I just read it, and then I got to interview Jason. This community values tenacity and inspiration – Jason has both. His story is amazing and he is too.
What is your favorite quote?
“We can’t all save the world but we can all tidy up our corner of it.” – Lynda Roemer, Director of Equine Rescue, Inc.
- What you focus on is what will shape your mindset: If you must concentrate on all that is wrong with this country, balance those thoughts with all the blessings in it as well. Remember that countless people have sacrificed so that you may enjoy these opportunities. Live up to that sacrifice.
- Plan. Focus, and then go for it. Do not get bogged down with the illusion of perfection, or you will never move an idea from a concept into a reality.
- Prioritize adding value rather than on extracting value.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.