Do you know a business owner affected by Hurricane Sandy?

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I want my subscribers  and readers impacted by this devastating storm to know that my thoughts are with them, their families, and friends. I’m thankful that my NY and NJ family is safe, yet their challenges remain although the impending nor’easter has weakened.


I’ve heard that many people, including those from my former Staten Island neighborhood (Neptune Street),are suffering through home evacuations, property damage, loss of electricity, limited access to transportation, and other difficulties. Many have no clothing, water, or food.


In the midst of it all, many who are suffering on the East Coast are also business owners.Elevating Your Business is making an effort to reach out to as many as we can support.We know that business is a critical source of earnings and we’d like to help some of those business owners who have been impacted to get back on track with their lives and their businesses.


Like most, I feel powerless in the face of this tragedy, but I can do something beneficial that will help those affected by Hurricane Sandy. If you know business owners in Hurricane Sandy’s path who have damaged businesses, please let them know that we are providing 1 hour of free life or business coaching. The help is 100% free.


I have helped business owners after Katrina, the dot-com bust, the quick demise of companies on Wall Street that I used to work for, etc. I’m grateful to be able to help others with the gifts I’ve been given.

Again, I’ll help business owners who are affected by Sandy for free. Sometimes, it just helps to talk to someone experienced in dealing with these situations. Having lived on Staten Island and in North Carolina, I’ve been evacuated due to a hurricane 3 times, lost power for 8 days, and have dealt with damage to my house and property. I know the shock and disbelief in the lives of those dealing with hurricane trauma. And it’s worse if you are running your own business.

If you have been harmed by the storm, or you know of a business owner who has been harmed, contact me in any of these ways to request some coaching.
1) Phone: 360-271-8418
2) Email:
3) Go directly to my calendar to schedule their


Through our collective efforts, we will make a difference where it is needed the most.


Upwards and onwards,


Maria Marsala


A simpler way to grow you and your financial business.




Tele: 360-271-8418 Office


Elevating Your Business

19906 Hamilton CT NE Suite A

Poulsbo, WA 98370-8757

Dream It, Create It, Become It: Create A Dream Board or Vision Board

Building dreams concept on a white background.
Expressing your life vision with a dream board helps you clarify your dreams and focus on building them into a reality!

The Dream Board is a fun, creative, and right-brained concept to integrate into your personal and professional planning process.  Also known as a Vision Board or Treasure Map, whatever you call it, and however you do yours, a Dream Board is as unique as you are.  It’s all about you–a visual blueprint of the people, places, and things you want in your life, and dreams that you want to come true.

The idea behind this inventive project is that what we think about or focus on is what we bring into our lives.  If we put good things in front of us, lofty goals we aspire to meet, or even objects we have always wanted, we will attract them.  Having a Dream Board helps you to clarify and focus on your dreams, making them your reality!

Give yourself a moment to think of whatever it is you want in your personal life or financial practice.  If you’re like most of my clients, the two areas overlap quite a bit.  Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What would you like your practice to look like in a year?  Five years?
  • How much time do you want to spend working versus spending time with family, on hobbies, with friends, or volunteering?
  • Who is your ideal client?  What is your audacious AUM (assets under management) or profit goal?
  • What types of people and positions would you like on your team within the next 5 years?
  • What is your vision for the legacy you’d like to leave for your family, the community, the world?

Write down your life goals, visualize them, and affirm them.  When your dreams are visually set in front of you, they serve as a constant reminder of what you want to achieve.  Before you know it, your dreams will be flourishing!  Just writing your goals on paper is very powerful on its own, but to build your dream board, follow the rest of the instructions.


Supplies You’ll Need:

  • Poster board/oak tag/cork board
  • Thumbtacks
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • Glitter
  • A photo or photos of yourself
  • Magazines
  • Ribbons
  • Pens, markers
  • Shells, leaves, or something from nature
  • Scissors: straight edge and/or your favorite border design
  • Crayons or colored pencils
  • Few pieces of thick 8 1/2 x 11 paper
  • Favorite rubber stamps
  • Anything else that calls to you!


7 Steps to Bring Your Dream Board to Life:

  1. Start with your blank poster board, oak tag, cork board, or a wall.
  2. In the center of your board, place a picture of yourself that you really enjoy.  If you like, arrange items that represent your spiritual or religious beliefs above your picture.
  3. Cut out pictures and words that symbolize your dreams or draw pictures.  Can’t draw perfectly?  Try it anyway!  (If I can, you can.)  Put words, quotes, or captions under the pictures.
  4. Bring all your dreams to your board.  Here are the areas to consider as you create your board.  Remember to be very specific and descriptive!
    • Life Vision Board: Personal Growth, Religious/Spiritual Growth, Relationships, Family, Romance, Friends, Career & Business, Finance & Money, Play & Recreation, Health & Fitness, Physical Environment, etc.
    • Business Vision Board: Your Office, Staff, Bank Account, Client Results, Ideal Clients, Products, Retirement, Accolades, Philanthropic Efforts, etc.
  5. Go for it!!  Enjoy it!!  Have fun with it!!  Get your family members to create their own dream boards or create a family board!
  6. Tack it on the wall.  As your dreams continue to grow (or change), keep adding to it.
  7. Spend a few moments in front of it before you start your day, and make it the last thing you look at before you go to sleep!

“If your vision is in your head, that is not where it needs to be. It needs to be out in the world, for all to see.”

— Maria

Keep in mind–as you act on your dreams, doors will open in many directions–not all of which support your ultimate goal.  You may face some things you should say ‘no’ to, or come across unexpected, terrific alternatives that you hadn’t imagined.  It’s important to watch out for what the world brings, signs of God’s or a Higher Power’s plans, and the possibility of everything working out differently–and more wonderfully–than expected.  So start dreaming and dream-boarding!

Not sure where to start dreaming?  Maybe starting with a more left-brained process will help get you going.  For help with creating your Business Vision Statement, you can catch my >F.R.E.E. seminar.  Hurry, space is limited to only 24 participants.  Achieving your dreams begins with you taking the time to write them down, and then dream-boarding them is even better!  >Register for this complimentary seminar and see how easy it can be to plan for your business and your life.

Special thanks to my first coach, Edie Peirera-Hulbert, author Susan Ban Breathnach, and the 4T Prosperity Program at Unity Church for teaching about these concepts and helping me put them to good use.

This article was first published in 2000.  Since then, Mark Victor Hansen has done a PBS special that included information on Vision Boards.

What do you think? Do you like this concept? Share your thoughts, questions or experiences with a dream board below!

©2000. Updated 2010, 2015.  Elevating Your Business

Maria Marsala helps advisors to advise more clients as they grow their firms in a more organized and efficient way.  A former Wall Street retail trader and operations manager, Maria is the author of eight business growth and marketing workbooks.  If you’re ready to experience relief as you identify new ways to manage the array of roles and responsibilities within your practice, sign up to get our Business Toolkit and receive updates and articles that will expand your mindset. Heat things up a bit! Start now at


Create A Vision That Is Uniquely You

Stategic Business Coach, Planning Strategist Maria Marsala

Where do you see yourself or your business a year from now? 3 years? 5 years? When you die, what would you like people to say about you at the service? The answers to those questions, and a few more, can assist you as you prepare your vision statement.

A vision statement helps to pull you forward, towards something you’ve deemed "special". Without a clear vision, you may find yourself confused, stuck, stressed, overwhelmed, and drained. How can you get back on your track? The answers are as individual as you are. Use some of the ideas below as starting points.

Write down every reason (or excuse) why you don’t have a personal or professional vision. Don’t stop till you have run out of reasons. Then follow the suggestion that fits you best:

  • Celebrate by burning or shredding what you’ve written! Isn’t it time to let the excuses go?
  • Celebrate by creating at least five solutions to each of your excuses. If you can’t come up with five, ask your coach or a friend for assistance.

Then get started. Make it an adventure!  When my clients have a difficult time writing their vision, I ask what they’ve done that hasn’t worked and then we discuss other options. Try these ideas:

  • Be creative and have fun. Design the most creative vision you’ve ever dreamed about! Design your first dream board.
  • Start a planning box. For "x" months, every time you have an idea for your plan, write the thought on a piece of paper and put it in your box. Pick a day that you’ll pull all your ideas into a plan.

Take a good look at your current beliefs about the life you’re creating. Pick up a copy of
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. It’s a small book jam-packed with wonderful information on beliefs. Make sure what you believe is really "you". don’t get stuck in someone else’s vision.

If you find that creating a vision is more than you can do on your own, you’re not alone. Find an uplifting peer coaching or mastermind group to support your personal and/or business foundation. Online or off, you’ll benefit by creating a vision and then a life or business plan around that vision. There is a group, via phone or in person, out there to assist you. To find groups you can attend:

  • Check the business section of your local newspaper or your local business journal.
  • Join a seminar or tele-class group. (See the end of this article for my free Business Vision Statement programs.)
  • Locate a coach, using the resources I’ve listed at to find unadvertised, in-person groups in your area.

Once you put your vision to paper, try it on for size. It may feel too safe — use it to stretch, act "as if", or make some big changes to your vision. If it feels good, keep it. If it doesn’t, adjust it further. The main thing is to be comfortable with it. Remember Albert Einstein defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". "Try on" new concepts, new ways of doing things, and recommendations from others. Coaches are especially good at assisting you as you s t r e t c h, s t r e t c h, and then s t r e t c h some more! So stretch right into your vision!

I bet that once your vision has been formalized, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner! And you’ll be amazed at the time it takes to do versus the time (and energy) you invested just thinking about doing it.

Today, create your business vision statement (BVS). Don’t know where to start? Let us show you during a free 30-minute webinar during October.

(c) 2012 Elevating Your Business

The happy secret to better work

Shawn Achor. Hilarious, informative, and he gives you action steps. If you haven’t watched his PBS special — do find it in your city. One of the things he mentioned, was that information does not mean transformation. How true. In fact, it seems to be that my profession is based on taking the information our clients have, or information they need, turning it into weekly action and transforming businesses and lives.

I bet if you’re reading this, you’re a service professional too. And you do the same thing for your customers and clients.

Enjoy Shawn….

Get more information on his PBS show

Creating Stress Saving Reserves for Your Life & Business

Stategic Business Coach, Planning Strategist Maria Marsala

Summary: MMMMM Reserves instead of constant emergencies… what a concept! Thank you Thomas.


Do you know how to create or maintain reserves? For many people, the concept of creating reserves is something they’ve never heard of and therefore never considered. Prior to 2000, I never heard of the concept myself, having learned it from Thomas Leonard (1955-2003), founder of the coaching schools I attended, Coach U and Coachville. Thomas then took this reserve concept further by creating a super-reserve list and Integrity Days to help people – including himself – take these concepts "to the max".

Learning about reserves came in handy when I started working for Thomas. The only way this new work fit into my day was because – you guessed it, I had created so many reserves. The concept Thomas pioneered works all the time. Why? Because when you have reserves – of people, of things, of money – you just have more time to do the things you enjoy, too!

“You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough” -William Blake

I once heard Tony Robbins talk about his reserves. Where some people create A, B and C situations as backups, he goes the mile to figure out a D back up.

What does life look like when someone doesn’t have reserves built into their lives? Well, they procrastinate, don’t say no enough, worry consistently and maybe even have a To Do List the length of a football field. In their lives, everything becomes "urgent" because they’ve waited so long to do things – and they "to do" them, only when forced into action only or when it’s an emergency. Some folks are almost addicted to the excitement that "urgent" causes in their lives. Is that you? See for yourself. Download the Adrenaline Addiction Test, a PDF Report, now at

One of the best areas to create reserves in is-taxes! Yes, that’s right. If you’re paying taxes, you are honored with an income. Traditionally, people think about taxes only on the first day of a New Year and April 15, and as a business owner, there are other dates equally important. It’s crucial for your success and the success of your business that you learn to build your reserves now.

How do you create a reserve in the area of "taxes"? The list below may help!

— Know your business strengths, what you are capable of and/or enjoy doing.

— The best way to look for help is before you need it. Do the research at your leisure.
— Always have at least 1 back up in case your first choice fizzles out, moves, or just chooses not to work with you.
— Schedule your contact management program to tell you its time to send in your taxes.
— Join Financial Action Reminder to receive a monthly financial paperwork reminder.

— Take an IRS tax classes in person or online.
— Finish your book keeping monthly.
— Hire a book keeper.
— Speak to your CPA/Tax Advisor at least quarterly.
— If you have employees, consider hiring a payroll processing company.
— And don’t stop there. Contact your county, state and local tax department to see if they hold classes; in addition to income taxes, you may find classes for business owners covering business and occupancy (B&O) taxes or sales tax.

Here are some excellent web sites to visit:

— IRS Business Pages

— Small Business Resources

— Take IRS Small Business Tax Classroom Online,,id=97726,00.html

— View the IRS online Business Owners Kit.

— Choose the Right CPA (or Tax Advisor) for Your Business

— Best Places For Tax Information

— While you’re at it, start asking other business owners what payroll or data processing companies they’d recommend. After all, your
business is growing!

So, throw away the excuses, and create reserves now.