Quick Hits

"All Right, Smarty Pants!" Co-Founder and Co-CEO Courtney Nichols Gould

Courtney Nichols Gould, SmartyPants Vitamins

Courtney Nichols Gould, SmartyPants Vitamins

SmartyPants Vitamins "brings the yum back to being healthy."  Co-Founder and Co-CEO Courtney Nichols Gould shares about seeing challenges as opportunities and about enjoying the ride this week on Dreaming Made Simple.

Dreaming Made Simple: What’s your professional dream?

Courtney Nichols Gould: My dream has a few parts: Build something that is of true service to others; work in a challenging environment that pushes me to the edges of my abilities, and surround myself with a group of people committed to the same, who tend to laugh when things get absurdly hard.

Dreaming Made Simple: How did your dream originate?

This current dream, SmartyPants Vitamins, came out of a conversation with our co-founders about the challenges of keeping kids, and all people, healthy. It snowballed from there into a challenge and an opportunity to change an entire industry that had an honorable intention of improving people's health, but some questionable practices, such as lack of transparency and quality at times. We are on a mission to bring more health to more people every day, whether through our products or through the matching grants we make for every bottle we sell. I love my job.

Dreaming Made Simple: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?  What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Courtney Nichols Gould: Oh, what isn't challenging! It's a daily endeavor - The obstacles are constant and ever-evolving, and there is no finish line.  Really, you just get up every day, look at what needs your attention and get to it.

Here is what I would suggest: Listen to Elizabeth Gilbert's "Big Magic." It's a book and an even better audiobook about creativity that serves anyone in pursuit of a dream.

Don’t focus so much on the end point - It’s important to have vision, but the more you can really dig in to the process and give it your full attention, the more enjoyable it will be, and the more likely to create a brilliant outcome as well.

Ninety-nine percent of anything is execution. Ideas are easy. Grit, resilience and a willingness to keep going are critical. Every dream has its drudgery, so don't be annoyed or surprised by it.  It's all part of the ride.

If your dream, you poor soul, happens to be entrepreneurship, then read "The Hard Thing about Hard Things" by Ben Horowitz and "Shoe Dog" by the founder of Nike. Not for the faint of heart, but I wouldn't do anything else. 

Inga Zinge Pupina on How to Think Like Royalty


Inga Zinge Pupina is founder/CEO of ROYAL KEY, an interior design business based in Kuldiga, Latvia. Inga and her sister and brother-in-law, Aiga and Robert Vaitkus, operate the business together with close friends.  Inga shares about dreams realized and the perseverance and vision it takes to reach dreams and goals.

Dreaming Made Simple: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Inga Zinge Pupina: One of our greatest achievements as professional interior designers is a permanent exhibition at the Gobustan Museum. In collaboration with Dd Studio, we designed and installed a permanent exhibition at the Museum of Gobustan National Historical-Artistic Preserve in Azerbaijan. Gobustan is a unique monument where one can find petroglyphs, or stone carvings, created since the end of the Paleolithic Era, up to the 20th century. Today, Gobustan Preserve is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We received a special prize at the EMYA (European Museum of the Year Award) for the permanent exhibition.

Another project on our hearts is The Identity Pillar in Kuldiga, Latvia.  It complements the Town Hall Square landscape with interactive elements of the people of Kuldiga and the guests of the town. They reveal the essence of the town dwellers, highlighting a historical inheritance rooted in values that support our present and future. One facet defines the main values; a second facet is formed with a mirror which, while reading proclamations, is used for self-reflection; a third facet is an interactive display which plays a video where 27 citizens proclaim the true identity of their town. The materials used were wood, steel, granite and glass.  It officially opened on May 15, 2015. 

Dreaming Made Simple: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream? What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Inga Zinge Pupina: Each dream is an achievement.  There is always the season of occasional physical and creative fatigue. In these moments it is always important to come back to the question of why do we do what we do? And what is our big vision?  Unity of the team is also a very important thing in achieving a dream.

Dreaming Made Simple: What steps have you taken to get to where you are presently?

Inga Zinge Pupina: Do only those tasks and projects which the team believes in from the heart.  Provide customers with the results so that they get a lot more than they hoped.

Gary Aspden on Designing Dreams

Gary Aspden is a creative consultant and brand expert at adidas.  This week on Dreaming Made Simple, Gary shares about defying the limits of what’s possible, doing a job the right way and how the biggest challenge you may have to overcome is your own perceptions.

Dreaming Made Simple: What’s your professional dream? How did your dream originate?  How has it evolved?

Gary Aspden: My professional dream was to be designing a capsule range [a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don't go out of fashion] for adidas. That dream originated in the late ’90s when I began working for them. I realized that doing something like that could maybe happen one day.

As a kid I would never have dreamed of doing that.   I grew up in a small, working-class town and had never met anyone who worked in a creative job.  It just wasn't on my radar. Consequently, as a teenager, my only dream was to not have to spend my life working shifts in a factory.

Dreaming Made Simple: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Gary Aspden: Doing what I do while maintaining some integrity; never losing sight of where I came from; having some gratitude; and trying to treat people well along the way. I never forgot the people who were kind and generous to me when I was starting out doing unpaid internships.

Dreaming Made Simple: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?  What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Gary Aspden: I am always my own biggest obstacle.  I often underestimated my own value when I was starting out. I don't like to give advice, although I am convinced that being consistent and reliable are key to success. Doing what you say you will is crucial.

Inspiring Women's Miriam Gonzalez on the Importance of Role Models on Dream Journeys

Inspiring Women
Inspiring Women

Miriam González is the founder of the Inspiring Women campaign, a UK-based organization that gives girls in school opportunities to hear from female role models who cast vision for their futures.

This week on Sam’s Dream Blog, González, named an Influential Educator by Noodle, shares about the importance of mentors, giving back and seizing opportunities on the dream journey.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your dream for the Inspiring Women campaign? How did your dream originate? How has it evolved?

Miriam González:My dream is that every girl in the UK, and then in every country, realizes that they are free to shape their lives, that the only constraints they face should be the extent of their own effort, and that there are lots of women out there ready and willing to help them.

I would like to see the Inspiring Women campaign expand abroad, and I would simply love convincing UN Women to support the campaign worldwide.

I started the Inspiring Women campaign in 2013. I have always been passionate about gender issues, but it wasn’t until I had been myself subject to many labels in the public eye that I realized I should speak up publicly about the remaining sexism in our societies. I believe in women speaking up and talking to the next generations of women. That is what the Inspiring Women campaign is all about.

Also, I had read an interesting survey conducted by Girlguide in the UK, saying that more than 55 percent of girls aged 11-21 years old don’t think they have enough access to female role models. So I thought, “That is ridiculous, there are thousands of great women out there. Let’s just bring them to schools where the girls cannot miss them!”

And that is precisely what we do. We ask volunteers to give one hour per year to go back to school to talk about their life, their career, their choices… In two years, we have gotten nearly 20,000 wonderful volunteers from all backgrounds within the UK, and we have reached 500,000 girls at state schools across the country.

Now, we are about to launch the campaign internationally, and we do hope that the U.S. joins us soon!

SDB: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Miriam González: Being able to start the Inspiring Women campaign is one of the things I feel most proud of. I feel very privileged for having had the public exposure (thanks to my husband’s role as the UK Deputy Prime Minister the last five years) that has allowed me to set up the Inspiring Women campaign and have such big success.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream? What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Miriam González: I have had many dreams throughout my life and my career, but I never had a plan. There is not a clear path for everyone, and we all have ups and downs. The most important thing is to aim high and keep trying, no matter what. I have always worked hard – I still do work hard - and I have taken most of the opportunities I have found on my way.

Thanks for reading Sam's Dream Blog!  Click here for more information on the Inspiring Women campaign

Andrew Skurka: All about Dreams, Adventures and Challenges


Andrew Skurka is an adventurer and guide, best-known for his solo long-distance backpacking trips. In total, he has backpacked, skied, and packrafted 30,000+ miles through many of the world’s most prized backcountry and wilderness areas.This week, on Sam’s Dream Blog, Andrew shares about his dream journey, including the preparation and endurance required.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your professional dream? How did your dream originate?  How has it evolved?

Andrew Skurka: My backpacking dreams evolve every few years. Early on, I wanted to hike as many long trails as I could, and to do it fast and light. Now, I'm more interested in shorter, more intense trips that are largely off-trail. This shift is directly related to my learning, or lack thereof. When I'm not being challenged by what I'm doing, I change it up.

SDB: What makes you most proud of your long distance hiking feats?

Andrew Skurka: I'm most proud of how smoothly most of my trips go. I attribute this to extensive pre-trip research and planning, which ensures that my plan is feasible and that I'm as prepared for it as possible. If I've put in the time beforehand, there are fewer unexpected events.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dreams?  

Andrew Skurka: The biggest obstacle to my dreams was the unconventional lifestyle that I had to live. I don't have a conventional job, and for a long time did not live like a normal adult: no permanent address, little income, no long-term relationships, etc.

SDB: What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Andrew Skurka: There are few substitutes for hard work and persistence.

Thanks for stopping by Sam’s Dream Blog!  Learn more about Andrew Skurka here

Jessica Watson on Sailing Toward Your Dreams


At age 16, Jessica Watson became the youngest person ever to sail solo and unassisted around the world.  This week on Sam’s Dream Blog, Jessica shares about braving new territory, the importance of a team in your dream pursuits and about overcoming adversity.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your dream for sailing? How did your dream originate?  How has it evolved?

Jessica Watson: My family sailed when I was young, but it wasn’t till I was 11 that I dreamt of sailing around the world. I was fascinated by the ocean and wanted to prove what young girls are capable of. These days I love sailing more and more and dream of inspiring more people to give sailing a try.

SDB: What makes you most proud of being the youngest person ever to sail solo and unassisted around the world?

Jessica Watson: Great question. It was a solo voyage around the world, but it took a whole team of people to get safely to the start line. I’m proud of the hard work from all of my team. I’m also proud of how I managed the mental side of the voyage.  There were times when I was scared and upset, but most of the time I stayed positive.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dreams?  What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Jessica Watson: At first finding the support and funding I needed was hard.  Then I actually hit a huge ship just before I set off on the voyage. That was a big setback, but I learned so much from the incident, and it made me stronger.  There are lots of things I could say about the determination and persistence it takes to achieve your dreams, but I think the most important part is to take the first step and have the courage to chase your dreams.

Thanks for stopping by Sam’s Dream Blog!  Learn more about more about Jessica Watson here

Dick Traum Inspires to Find a Way

Dick Traum
Dick Traum

Dr. Dick Traum is the president and founder of Achilles International. Achilles International is a non-profit organization with members in 65 locations nationally and internationally. The “main objective is to bring hope, inspiration and the joys of achievement to people with disabilities.” Dick is an above-the-knee amputee with a successful computer applications company. Dick became the first amputee to run 26.2 miles.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your dream for Achilles International? How did your dream originate? How has the dream evolved over the years?

Dr. Dick Traum: At the beginning, my dream was to have a local running club. Currently, there are chapters in each major city in US, with hopes to expand internationally to 100 chapters in total. Additionally we want to expand Achilles Kids from 12,700 members in 14 states to 25,000, and we want to expand the Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans to include older disabled veterans.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?

Dr. Dick Traum: Race directors are not yet ready to include large groups of people with disabilities.

SDB: What is something more able-bodied people miss when they relegate people with disabilities to merely being an “inspiration”?

Dr. Dick Traum: They do not realize that people with disabilities are more similar than different. Also, they are unnecessarily uncomfortable with them.

Thanks for stopping by Sam's Dream Blog!  Learn more about more about Dick Traum and Achilles International here

Whipsaw Co-Founder Dan Harden on Taking Risk and Facing Fear

Dan Harden, Whipsaw

Dan Harden, Whipsaw

Fast Company named designer Dan Harden one of its 2014’s 100 Most Creative People in business. This week, the co-founder and CEO of Whipsaw shares what to do with risk and fear and how to put your personality into your work.

Sam's Dream Blog: Designs must stand out. What is your advice in terms of taking risk and demonstrating passion in a productive way, rather than for the sake of taking risk for risk’s sake?

Dan Harden: First of all, some designs should not stand out. Some need to blend into an experience so the user can go about their business without something screaming at them. Most design problems can only be solved by taking risks. If the risky answer is right, it's more risky not to do it.

SDB: How do you advise putting personality into one’s work?

Dan Harden: Good design often exudes its own personality. That can come from either finding its internal essence and giving that essence a voice... or putting your own personality into a design. Putting your own personality into a design can work if your product needs attitude (like an aggressive boxing glove or a piece of fashion), but you have to be careful when doing that on a serious piece of equipment like an ultrasound scanner where function, safety, and usability trump personality.

SDB: What are traits to look for and to stay away from when assembling a team?

Dan Harden: We seek smart go-getters with tons of passion and talent; we avoid the opposite.

SDB: I have read that you advise getting rid of all fear.  How do you get rid of fear?

Dan Harden: Fear in context of creativity is not having the courage to try something different for fear of judgment or failure. Once you witness the success gained from creatively reaching, the fear simply vanishes.

Learn more about Dan Harden and Whipsaw here, and check back for the next Sam’s Dream Blog post on Tue., March 17

Sit up Straight for Vanessa Van Edwards on Sam's Dream Blog


Vanessa Van Edwards is a published author and a behavioral investigator. Vanessa’s workshops and courses teach individuals how to succeed in business and life. She has been featured on NPR, the Wall Street Journal, the Today Show and USA Today.

This week on Sam’s Dream Blog, Vanessa shares how to use pain points to your advantage, how to overcome nerves, and how good body language makes a big difference.

Sam's Dream Blog: From your bio on Udemy, you discovered your passion for teaching about body language from a former pain point of being a “recovered awkward person.”  How important are pain points in discovering one’s dreams or what makes that person come alive?

Vanessa Van Edwards: I think if you want to be successful, you have to be able to relate to your customers, readers, and team members. If you have pain points, you can literally feel their pain. This helps you address needs, be more relatable and tap into what truly inspires us. Pain is also a crazy good motivator. We will do anything to get our bodies and minds out of pain and this will push you better than any motivator.

SDB: Speaking of body language, how do you avoid giving off the wrong signals when you don’t want to be in a situation or when you are really nervous?

Vanessa Van Edwards: Power posing! Sometimes you can't help being nervous. But you can help your body’s response to nerves. When you expand your body--widen your arms, tilt your chin up and forehead back you power up your testosterone and this helps you feel good and perform well.

SDB: Can you give me an example of a before-and-after, so to speak, how improved body language made a big difference in a positive way?

Vanessa Van Edwards: I have a very specific example for you. I pitched a conference to be a speaker. They did not book me. That year I learned how to use my hands as trust indicators and to use the power of leaning (2 body language techniques). When I pitched again I got the gig! One lady on the committee said I was like a completely different person--but it was the exact same pitch.

Learn more about Vanessa Van Edwards and the Science of People here, and check back for the next Sam's Dream Blog post on Tue., March 3

Irene Zola Helps Seniors Maintain Excellence in Later Years

Irene Zola
Irene Zola

Irene Zola is the New York City based Executive Director of Lifeforce in Later Years and Coordinator of Morningside Village volunteers. She helps connect seniors to the services they need at home or in the larger community. For her efforts, CNN selected her as a CNN Hero.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your dream for L-i-L-Y? How did your dream originate?

Irene Zola: LiLY's national mission is to increase the inclusion of older seniors into the life of the family, the community, the culture.  I would like to see us all spending even an hour each week with someone in their nineties or even older.  This would make a huge difference in the lives of those who ?as things stand?are too often neglected.  The dream began when I was taking care of my own 97-year-old mom, who was incapacitated and had to spend her last days in a nursing home.  There, some of the hundreds of people would call out, "help", "take me to my room", "get me out of here", "I have no one".  Most were quietly idling away the day in their wheelchairs with little encouragement and without the resources to get the help they needed.  It was an awakening as to how ?in modern times with families often living at great distances from oldest relatives?we are surely not honoring those who taught and encouraged us.  I wanted to change all of that.

SDB: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Irene Zola: Founding and helping to create Morningside Village, a volunteer-based elder-care program in Manhattan, has been very gratifying.  This signature program, where older seniors are served completely free of charge, is a model for communities across the land.  LiLY has also initiated a visibility campaign and Love an Elder Day, a day of celebration on October 1 during the week of the UN's International Day to Celebrate Older Persons.  I am very proud of this step toward changing the culture.  We hope nonagenarians and centurions will be celebrated on Oct. 1 and everyday!

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?  What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Irene Zola: One obstacle to LiLY's work is that we are living in a youth-based culture and at a time when families are often far away.  Thus, the biggest obstacle has been money, of course!  With more money, we would be able to better nationalize Love an Elder Day through hiring employees, increasing partnerships and buying media. We could also do outreach to other communities, mentoring leaders to carry out the mission of integrating our elders into the lives of younger generations.

When founding Lifeforce in Later Years, I made of list of all the possible programs that might help to change the lives of older seniors for the better.  Then, I settled on the one that I was able to begin with the few resources at hand. I asked a local place of worship for a free meeting place;  I made a flyer inviting folks to a meeting, and printed it at home;  borrowed a collapsable table and folding chair; got a nice looking friend to come along, and went out to Broadway, handing out flyers and talking about my idea to strangers.  Having a friend along for support was important.  And, I was on my way!  I think the most important way to go forward for me was to collaborate, befriend, reach out, and talk it up.

Learn more about Irene Zola and LiLY here, and check back for the next Sam’s Dream Blog post on Tue., Dec. 23

GirlForward: Advancing Dreams

Blair Brettschneider is the founder and executive director of GirlForward, an organization that provides adolescent refugee girls with individual mentorship, educational programs and leadership opportunities.  In 2013, CNN tabbed her as a CNN Hero.  More recently "Forbes" tabbed her as one of its 30 Under 30 Women selections for 2017.

Dreaming Made Simple: What's your dream for GirlForward? How did your dream originate?

Blair Brettschneider: My dream for GirlForward is to provide refugee girls in the United States with the opportunities they need to reach their full potential. When I moved to Chicago in 2010, I worked at a refugee resettlement agency, which helps families and individuals once they receive resettlement in the U.S. I got to know one of the girls whose family was served by the agency - Domi, who was 18 at the time and a refugee from Burundi. Working one-on-one with her on homework, I got to see all of the challenges she faced in her new life in Chicago, but also learned how driven she was to succeed in high school and go to college. I knew there were other refugee girls like her, and in 2011, I started GirlForward, an organization dedicated solely to empowering refugee girls from diverse backgrounds, now resettled in the U.S. Our programs address the five biggest challenges faced by refugee girls: poverty, language barrier, social isolation, a need for positive role models and limited/interrupted education. Our programs give girls the tools and resources they need to overcome these obstacles and achieve their goals.

Dreaming Made Simple: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Blair Brettschneider: I'm extremely proud of what our girls have accomplished, from graduating from high school, to being accepted into college, to opening their first bank accounts. In terms of GirlForward as an organization, I'm proud of how much we have been able to do in a short amount of time. In a little more than three years, we have served over 100 girls from 14 different countries.

Dreaming Made Simple: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges?

Blair Brettschneider: The hardest part of running an organization, in my opinion, is that you can never be completely prepared for the obstacles or challenges that are going to arise. I'm a pretty organized person, and we have great structure in place, but the things that are hard are never things you see coming. Earlier on, we had a girl whose plans to attend college were almost derailed by an arranged marriage. It was something I had never dealt with before, and I was very unsure of what would happen. We had a discussion about it, and she ended up talking to her parents about her desire to go to college and how this marriage could really put that in jeopardy. They understood her concerns and decided not to go through with it.

Sometimes things come up that you are not prepared for, and you have to learn as you go. My advice to people in pursuit of their dreams, whatever they are, is to have confidence in yourself, first and foremost. GirlForward would not be where it is today if I had not gone into every meeting fully confident that we would accomplish our goals. No one wants to fund an organization led by a person who isn't sure it's going to work out! Be confident and others will have confidence in you, too.

Learn more about GirlForward here

Izzie Lerer's The Dodo: Blast from Past, Now Fully Alive

Izzie Lerer
Izzie Lerer

Izzie Lerer is the founder of The Dodo, a Web site with a passionate community committed to improving relationships with animals and protecting them.

This week on Dreaming Made Simple, Izzie shares how a lifelong interest led her to a bigger dream of making a difference and about the importance of sticking with that dream.

Dreaming Made Simple: What’s your professional dream for The Dodo, or otherwise? How did your dream originate?

Izzie Lerer: My dream is for The Dodo to grow to be the go-to site for people who care about animals. Of course, it’s key for The Dodo to celebrate animals and to be entertaining and informative, but my larger aspiration is for it to have a part in raising awareness about animal welfare issues. My dream is that The Dodo plays a role in changing the way people think about animals from an ethical perspective, and helps to push animal issues more and more mainstream. Ultimately, if we could serve to make an actual difference in the lives of animals, that’s the real dream.

My passion for animals has been a lifelong thing. I grew up spending lots of time with dogs and horses and have always felt deeply connected to animals emotionally. But it’s grown massively through my pursuit of a PhD in Philosophy at Columbia. I’ve been able to focus my doctoral research on animal ethics and human/animal relationships, and it’s turned my connection to animals into a real guiding force in my life and career.

Dreaming Made Simple: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Izzie Lerer: I’m most proud of the time and effort I’ve put into my graduate work in Philosophy. I’m proud that I followed my gut and focused my research on animals, even though it’s not a traditional focus for Philosophy doctoral students - and so grateful that I have worked with an adviser who has allowed and encouraged me to pursue what I care most about. My doctoral work gave me the background necessary for founding The Dodo so by making my education be about what I care the most about, I’ve been able to use that to transition into a career I’m passionate about too.

Dreaming Made Simple: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?  What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Izzie Lerer: I don’t feel like I have much of a right to answer this question - The Dodo just launched in January so I’m not sure how valuable my advice is! But I guess I would say that if you feel passionately about something, take it seriously and pursue it. Don’t let people tell you you’re too sentimental. If you feel deeply about something, don’t downplay it or give it up if you run into some people who don’t get it.

Shauna Miller, of Penny Chic, Shares Her Entrepreneurial Dream


Shauna Miller was recently named to Forbes’  2014 30 Under 30 list for Art & Style. She grew up in LA, moved to New York City for college and worked at a fashion house in Paris. Out of those experiences, Shauna founded Penny Chic, embracing "the challenge of looking chic when buying this season’s must-have Little Black Dress just isn’t an option."

This week on Sam’s Dream Blog, Shauna shares about making the most of your present circumstances, what makes her most proud, and how she stays true to her vision.

Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your professional dream? How did your dream originate?

Shauna Miller: My dream is to empower Americans to take style in their own hands and make the best of their budget, to have fun expressing themselves through what they wear. In high school, I remember feeling pressured to wear certain brands and designers that my parents wouldn't buy for me. I made the best out of it and started to think about my budget boundaries as a positive thing rather than a hindrance. When you're forced to work within your means, you end up being more creative and tend to think out of the box to get the end result that you want. It's all about how you look at it. My dream is to shift the way people think about cheap fashion.

SDB: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Shauna Miller: Wow, that's a hard one! Two things. My clothing line on Walmart.com where I got amazing feedback from customers who said they felt confident and empowered wearing my dresses. Number two would have to be my style book that's coming out in September! I have been working on it with my mom who's also my photographer. For two years, we put our blood, sweat, and tears in it! To think that young girls will read that book and feel inspired to have fun with style gives me chills.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?  What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Shauna Miller: The biggest obstacle I faced (and continue to face) has been staying true to my authentic vision. There's a lot of bloggers and youtubers out there who are doing things in fashion. I find that when I get caught up in what they're doing, what I'm not doing, how many followers they have, etc., I lose sight of my own voice and what makes me unique! There's room for everyone in the space. It's important to stay true to what makes you different because, ultimately, that's the only thing you can count on to be successful.

Learn more about Shauna Miller and Penny Chic here, and check back for the next SDB post on April 15.  Thanks for reading!

Rita Gunther McGrath Discusses Business Strategy and YOU

Rita Gunther McGrath is a professor at Columbia Business School. She has been named one of The World's Most Influential Business Thinkers by Forbes.  McGrath is the author of "The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast As Your Business." This week on Sam’s Dream Blog, Rita shares about when to keep moving forward with your idea and when to change directions. 

Sam's Dream Blog: How do you know when to stick with the status quo/someone else’s ideas and when to start fresh?

Rita Gunther McGrath: I look at it in terms of a portfolio of opportunities.  The status quo never stays that way for that long. You always need to be doing what you need to do to get through today, thinking about the near term horizon and opening options for the future.  You should never, in my view, only be working on today’s problems.

SDB: When making changes, how do you know what to keep and what to let go in the process of moving forward?

Rita Gunther McGrath: Well, life is about three things, right - what gives you joy and satisfaction, what earns you money and what you’re good at.  So what you want to keep are things that help with those issues and what you want to drop are things that don’t.

SDB: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream? What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Rita Gunther McGrath: Time pressure, access to the right resources, rigid and unbending systems, that sort of thing.  I feel very blessed to have had tremendous opportunities and support.  I guess the best advice is to persevere and try several different routes to getting there.  Be OK with making intelligent failures.  Be honest with yourself about what you need to do.  Don’t expect other people to know what you need.  Be willing to adapt the dream as you learn more.

Thanks for reading Sam’s Dream Blog!  Learn more about Rita Gunther McGrath, and check back with SDB for the next feature on Apr. 1.  Sign up for social media updates and tell a friend while you are at it!

Lisa Nicole Bell on Carving Out Your Entrepreneurial Niche

Lisa Nicole Bell is the CEO of Inspired Life Media Group, a company that creates and produces content for Fortune 500 brands, major media outlets, and venture-backed startups in the realms of entertainment and technology.

Dreaming Made Simple: Would you tell Dreaming Made Simple readers how you carved out your niche and how you figured out a twist on what you offered?

Lisa Nicole Bell: I carved out a niche by identifying what I was good at and then identifying which skills I could develop to build a career for myself. Most people kind of fall into their careers instead of carefully strategizing what they really want to do and what it will take to get there. I spent a lot of time reading and researching career paths to figure out how I wanted to start my business and grow it.

SDB: What’s your dream for your business?

Lisa Nicole Bell: My dream is to grow my next company into a $100MM+ entity. It's a much bigger idea than anything else I've ever pursued so I'm excited about the possibilities.

SDB: What are one or two lessons you have learned in the process of going after your dream?

Lisa Nicole Bell: Knowing the right people is super important. Time spent on strategic networking will never be time wasted.

Also, your mindset determines how far you go. It's so important to feed your mind with the right information and continue to build your image of yourself in the right way.

Learn more about Lisa Nicole Bell here

littleBits CEO Ayah Bdeir on Taking Little Steps Toward Dreams

Ayah Bdeir is the founder and CEO of littleBits. littleBits have been referred to as "LEGOs for the iPad generation." Bdeir, an engineer, was named one of Fast Company's 100 Most Creative People in Business.

Dreaming Made Simple: So many people think pursuing your dreams is complicated. What have you learned about taking little steps or "bits" toward making something profound?

Ayah Bdeir: Don’t give up. Developing something new that never existed before takes time. And solving real problems takes time. Devote time to your passion. Weekends, sleepless nights, as much time as possible. You will make progress, and when you get close to something happening, you will feel it and become so energized you won’t be able to stop.

Dreaming Made Simple: You say, "I don’t believe in producing products for girls or for boys." littleBits were designed to be gender neutral. How should society neutralize more of the gender playing field for girls and boys when they are young so they can work together without thinking anything of it when they are older?

Ayah Bdeir: Too many products are gender-focused and are segmenting kids before even making or marketing products to them. Girls and boys play differently, yes, but so do American boys and French boys, so do kids of engineers versus kids of artists. There are too many lines to separate people.  I grew up playing with electricity sets and chemistry kits and (old-school!) video games. My parents never let my gender come into play when getting me toys. I believe I became an engineer partly in thanks to that. I never thought this wasn’t a profession for a girl.

Learn more about littleBits here!

Ivan Poupyrev, of Google, on Dreaming Process

One of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2013, Dr. Ivan Poupyrev directs an interaction group to find new ideas and concepts at Disney Research, Pittsburgh. This research targets interactive technologies and interface design.

*Update: Poupyrev is now the technical program lead of Google's Advanced Technology and Projects.

Dreaming Made Simple: How important is an attitude of hope to the process of dreaming? How do you stay optimistic, especially as you deal with trial and error?

Dr. Ivan Poupyrev: Always be patient with yourself, just as you would (or should be) be patient with a small child trying to take the first step. More often than not, success is simply a function of time, and almost everything can be done and accomplished, given enough time.

Dreaming Made Simple: How do you know whether to keep going or to try something else?

Dr. Ivan Poupyrev: Well, I actually never give up on anything. I just decide to do it later when I have more time. I have a giant log of things that I will come back one day and finish. And sometimes I do come back to things and finish them when the timing is right.

Drybar Founder Alli Webb Shares Her Dream Journey

Featured on Fast Company’s "100 Most Creative People in Business 2013" list, Alli Webb is the founder of Drybar: "No cuts. No color. Just blowouts for only $35."  Drybar has 29 locations and is ever-growing, including newly-opened Houston. This week, Alli shares on Dreaming Made Simple about finding your passion, getting started and persevering.

Dreaming Made Simple: You have said that the seeds for Drybar were planted when you were about six years old. How important is it to pay attention to the passions you had when you were a kid in terms of pursuing a business idea?

Alli Webb: I have always believed everything happens for a reason - the good and the bad. When I think back to being a little girl, I remember so clearly how strongly I felt about my hair looking a certain way (smooth and straight). My curly, frizzy hair was a major obstacle in my quest to looking perfectly put together. I never would have imagined that my hair obsession would turn into a career, but I guess you could say it did.

You hear people say "it's not work if you love what you do."  I'm living proof of that. I feel incredibly lucky to have finally, after trying on many careers, discovered--or rather uncovered--what I was meant to do.

I wholeheartedly would encourage my children, and anyone who would listen, to absolutely follow your passion, but be willing to take the long road to get there.

Dreaming Made Simple: How much do you need to have figured out before launching a business? How do you avoid being overwhelmed by the thousands of details and blind spots?

Alli Webb: I'm not sure that you can avoid being overwhelmed by the thousands upon thousands of details that come barreling at you when you are launching a new business. For me, it was important to be open to surrounding myself with people who knew more than me. For example, my business partners, who happen to be my brother, Michael (CEO), and husband, Cameron (Creative Director), each have very different skill sets. I firmly believe that Drybar would not be close to what it is today without their incredible talents and minds.

Together, we figured out as much as we could before we opened our doors in 2010, but there were certainly mistakes, blind spots and many learning experiences. To this day, we are still learning more and more about how to be our best.

Never stop asking the tough questions and always be willing listen to the people around you - clients, friends, employees.

Dreaming Made Simple: How do you know whether something is a solid business idea or merely wishful thinking?

Alli Webb: That's a great question. For Drybar, I knew tons of women who, like me, struggled with their hair and the prices you'd have to pay to get a blowout at most salons. I spent a lot of time talking to anyone who would listen about my idea, and the feedback was always overwhelmingly positive. It's key to identify your target consumer and to make sure the need for your business really exists on a scale large enough to sustain the business for the long haul. Then execution is the next hurdle... Be prepared to work tirelessly to really nurture your idea.

Click here to Find a Drybar location near you

Seth Godin, Best-Selling Author and Entrepreneur Quick Hits


Seth Godin is the author of 14 books that have been translated into more than 30 languages. Covering topics including the way ideas spread, marketing, leadership and change, each book has achieved best-selling status. As an entrepreneur, Godin has weathered the other end of the spectrum too. His newest company, Squidoo.com, however, is ranked by Quantcast among the top 125 sites in the US (by traffic.) Squidoo.com encourages users to contribute content about any area of interest.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Godin’s book, "Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable." Godin was kind enough to share advice in the spirit of "Purple Cow" for Dreaming Made Simple readers.

Seth Godin: In a world of media overload, the only way for a brand to grow, a talented person to get hired, or an organization to succeed is for them to be noticed, appreciated and connected. But what sorts of ideas spread? Ideas that we talk about, that are remarkable.

All remarkable means is, "worth remarking about," and thus the challenge is to do work worth talking about. Obnoxious is not worth talking about, neither is selfish or boring.

Playing it safe might be comfortable, but it's not safe... because it's invisible.

And the essence of your work is going to be the promises you make (and keep). Once you make a promise, then, by all means play it safe in keeping that promise.

Thanks for reading!  Stop by Seth Godin's Web page, and check Sam’s Dream Blog in two weeks on Sep. 17, for another interview!

Vena Cava Fashion Designer Sophie Buhai Quick Hits

This week Sam’s Dream Blog features Sophie Buhai, one half of the Vena Cava design team (Lisa Mayock is the other half.) Vena Cava creates so-called "future heirlooms," clothing that can be passed down through family and friends. Buhai has been featured on Fast Company’s "The 100 Most Creative People in Business" list, and the brand has twice been nominated for a "Vogue/CFDA Fashion Fund Award."

Sam’s Dream Blog: How does one find his or her personal style and authentic self?

Sophie Buhai: I think your style should fit your daily life or interests. The best style I have seen on people usually comes from years of defining what they feel most comfortable in. I'm a fan of wearing things that have stories behind them- hand me-downs from a grandparent, or treasures found while traveling. But, my father wears head-to-toe Costco and he looks great, so I don't think you need to spend much money or care about brands.

SDB: Fast Company had this to say about you and your co-founder: Their witty personal touch with fans has also spurred Vena Cava's growth. How does someone effectively put his or her distinct personality into a brand?

Sophie Buhai: I think you need to stay true to who you are and know your customer. You can't design for someone you don't know. Lisa and I are designing for our friends and our peer group. It's easy to keep things personal when you yourself are the customer. We just have fun, we never take ourselves too seriously about fashion.

SDB: How have you decided who to include and exclude in your target market?

Sophie Buhai: We don't aim to exclude anyone! We've gone up to a size 16, dressed 80-year-olds, and even men. Anyone who appreciates our clothing should wear it. We accept all!

Learn more about Sophie and the Vena Cava brand