With features in such magazines as Money Magazine, Black Enterprise (2010), Redbook (2009) and Upscale (2009), Tiffani Murray is a proven business woman, entrepreneur and writer with a range of talents that continue to be recognized by her peers and colleagues alike.
Tiffani is the creator and principal writer for the Stuck on Stupid Book series. This humorous group of self-help books will tackle such timely topics as relationships, career and finances. Her books were reviewed and mentioned on numerous media outlets including Atlanta’s well known radio stations STAR 94 and V-103 and most recently on Glamour.com. As a freelance writer and owner of www.PersonalityOnaPage.com, Tiffani has written for a number of online and offline publications. She has contributed to such well known websites as Match.com as a contract profile writer and About.com as the college life guide. She also has written for First30Days.com, CollegeProwler.com, Yelp.com and FlaglerHill.com. PersonalityOnaPage.com also provides résumé revision and writing services.
Tiffani is a graduate of Spelman College and the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she received a Bachelor of Science in computer science and a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering, respectively.
What are you working on right now?
I just launched the second book in the Stuck on Stupid Book Series. “Stuck on Stupid: A Guide for Today’s Professional Stuck in a Rut” tackles a topic anyone can relate to — career. Currently I am working on promoting the book. I wrote this book as a result of things I experienced along my career path from entry-level to middle management. There were times that I have been stuck in a 9 to 5 I didn’t totally enjoy or put in positions where I felt limited my ability to truly use my talents. This book is for any professional who has a job they hate, is experiencing unnecessary frustration at work, longs to start their own business or make a drastic career change, or can no longer find the motivation for the daily grind of a job. The book takes a candid look at sticky situations that many professionals face along their career paths. For the reader who feels they are on professional pause, the book offers Unstuck Success Stories from the likes of a former CEO who left corporate America behind to run a non-profit that now helps people around the world, to the young man who worked his way up from the mail room to a management position despite the odds. During a time of uncertainty and unemployment there are many wondering how long they will be unemployed or others who fear they will stay stuck on the same rung of the corporate ladder. This book serves as a wake up call for both situations. You can get unstuck!
After contributing as a writer to websites on the topic of career, organizing recruiting events for a well known consulting firm and working with online recruitment technology as a talent acquisition manager, I developed a passion around helping people with their careers as well as discovering ways to earn and save money. I’ve been able to share tips and opinions on these topics in articles on Forbes.com, CNNMoney.com, Yahoo! Finance, ABCNews.com, TheLadders.com, HowIGotMyJob.com and CollegeRecruiter.com. I am also working on taking my opinions and the new Stuck on Stupid book offline and contributing advice on television and radio.
3 trends that excite you?
Social media is a trend that is exciting to me. I think that it is a way that you can really get your ideas out to a large number of people in a short period of time. I use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.com to tell people the latest news about a Stuck on Stupid Book. I’m planning to start incorporating more video via these outlets as well. It’s not enough to just post verbal updates. People want to see what you are doing. Over the past eight months I have grown my online following, which will help me to spread the word about the Stuck on Stupid brand to more people.
As the publisher of a new book series I have to be mindful of the changing book industry. Specifically, I cannot disregard the wave of moving from printed books to ebooks. Apps like iBooks from Apple and electronic reading devices like Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook are changing the way people enjoy and share books. Last month I got an overview of the Nook, and I have to admit it would be to my advantage to have the Stuck on Stupid Books content available for purchase in this format. I haven’t laid the groundwork in terms of all the steps involved in making my content eligible for this sales channel, but it is not something I plan to overlook.
Another trend popular these days is the transition of books to other media. For example, books that become movies, television series or even expand to video or board games. I remember as a child playing the game Clue and then seeing the movie. I thought then that it was cool that a mere board game could become a big screen comedy. To see the Stuck on Stupid Brand cross into different forms of entertainment would be wonderful and I’m not ruling it out. However for this trend, I have a series of fiction books in mind and I’ve already started to write the first one. Until the first book is done I’ll hold off on sharing more, but I can promise they won’t include vampires and their bloody adventures. (I’m a huge True Blood fan.) That market is already saturated, no pun intended.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Bringing ideas to life is something that I enjoy. My first step is birthing the idea. I may have a thought that starts small and then turns into a business idea. The most important thing I do is write them all down. No matter how off the wall they might be, I put most of these thoughts on paper. I try to use an “idea” notebook, but more often than not things get scribbled down on a napkin or Post-It note and later transcribed into a notebook.
I am able to multitask and work on several ideas at once. I use plans and outlines, in addition to setting steps or mini-goals for my ideas. You may find notes around my house with these “mini-goals” written on them. One idea may be in infancy, while another may be much like a toddler, and other ideas, like my freelance writing service PersonalityOnaPage.com have reached full maturity. I think when it comes to ideas you have to have it in you to see them become something tangible. I would not be happy to just have a bunch of ideas in notepads gathering dust on my desk. I may not see all my ideas through but those I do nurture bring me fulfillment. Part of “getting things done” is knowing where your strengths are. I tend to birth ideas that play to my talents and abilities so that I don’t have to rely too much on others to see them manifested.
What is one mistake you’ve made that our readers can learn from?
One mistake that I’ve learned in my career, particularly as it relates to my creation of the Stuck on Stupid Book Series, is I allowed myself to get distracted after writing the first book in 2006. When I first started this idea I said I would write at least three books. However, I wrote the first book and immediately sought out publishers thinking that was the best route to go. Three years passed and my “Get Unstuck” book series had one book. This was way too long to wait on moving my idea forward. I think the energy I spent courting publishers, even with the help of a great agent, would have been better spent promoting and selling books and getting the second installment out faster. If you believe in your product or idea, you don’t have to wait on a larger entity, like a publisher to give you the green light. I think it was after I understood the success stories of the Chicken Soup and For Dummies books that I learned, sometimes you take your idea and run with it, even in the midst of initial rejection. As with most mistakes, you have to, as my mentor Rhonda Hight says, “Take the lessons and leave the baggage.” I’ve done that and now the second Stuck on Stupid book is complete and more fine tuned than it probably would have been had I written right after the first one. Everything happens for a reason.
What is one book and one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?
One of the books that helps me to stay focused and motivated me to bring my ideas to life is “Tribes” by Seth Godin. This is a must read. It is the type of book you can read quickly and the examples are both educational and encouraging. It also is helpful from a marketing perspective as I seek to grow the “tribe” of fans for Stuck on Stupid Books.
I wouldn’t have been able to bring my books to life without LuLu.com. This online tool for authors is one of a kind. For the first and second release of my books I have used Lulu’s print on demand service. I can upload my books, edits and cover art, even with my own ISBN. The reason I like Lulu for this phase of my business is because I can order as many books as I want. I am not locked in to a huge bulk order. It also offers a ready made storefront for me to sell from. As the book franchise grows, I may have to move on from Lulu, but for now it works perfectly.
What is one idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I love pizza, but the fact of the matter is I will probably never open my own pizza shop. Now opening a pizza parlor wouldn’t be a new idea, but if I had the talent in the kitchen and the funding I would open a breakfast restaurant that specialized in pizzas. I have never had a breakfast pizza outside of the frozen ones at the grocery store and I think this would be a great idea. Who doesn’t love pizza? This would be a low cost business as hours could be kept to the early part of the day. Ingredients for breakfast foods, such as eggs, bacon and dough are easy enough to obtain for fair pricing. You could do different variations from a simple sausage, egg and cheese pizza to more interesting toppings like smoked salmon or shrimp. You could use your imagination and have a pizza with a sweet pancake crust. I think this is the type of idea that could end up being a chain or franchise. It may have to start somewhere where people have more adventurous palettes, like Los Angeles, New York or some other major city. All I ask in exchange for this idea is to have a pizza named after me and free meals for life.
Why do you consider yourself a Jane of All Trades?
I think this is an interesting title for me, particularly since my career started in consulting. Despite the creative side shown through my roles as the publisher/creator of the Stuck on Stupid Book Series or as a freelance writer through PersonalityOnaPage.com, my background is in computer science and industrial engineering. I have worked for extended periods for telecommunications companies, a very well known consumer products company, consulting firms and startups. I’ve contributed to the areas of IT, human resources, learning, operations, project management, communications, content and more for various organizations. There is even a facet of my business that focuses on event planning, and I’ve planned a golf tournament, scotch tasting and a sponsor appreciation gala. I have curiosity about many topics, and my brain is like a sponge. There isn’t much I don’t have an opinion on or won’t study enough to have an opinion on it. Since college I’ve never quite liked being “bound” by a title. In the past I felt like I would appear to be scattered by dabbling in so many different endeavors, but I think it is perfectly fine to have pursuits that are varied, as long as you can show positive results.
What do you really enjoy doing when not working?
One of the things I enjoy most is traveling. In 2008, I declared it to be my “Year of Travel.” I committed to taking at least one trip a month, somewhere new or to a favorite city. I kept to the promise culminating in a November trip to Italy. There are many more places I want to go both in the U.S. and abroad. I think in 2011 it might be time to declare another “Year of Travel,” and this time I may increase the number of monthly destinations.
I also enjoy working out. This week my goal is to take my first spin class, and now that I’m sharing this I feel like I really have to follow through on that! Most importantly I love spending time with family, particularly my two-year-old niece. She is a joy to be around. I think while I can sometimes become consumed by the pursuit of my ideas, I never let that stop me from time with family and friends.
Reach out to me! I welcome new friends and connections.
E-mail: [email protected], [email protected]
Websites: www.StuckonStupidBooks.com, www.PersonalityOnaPage.com
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.