An Entrepreneur’s Perspective: The Depot, Reno

Renovation of the Depot

Walk into the Depot Craft Brewery and Distillery and you will see a little bit of Reno history with a modern vibe, an unbelievable building transformation, and a pioneering business for Reno’s redevelopment efforts.  The Depot opened on New Year’s Eve of 2014 and has been thriving as Reno’s only craft brewery, distillery and restaurant all-in-one ever since. “They join others in the Fourth Street area who hope to gentrify another area of Reno like Midtown.”  Chris Shanks, a Reno native, is one of the owners of the Depot, a co-owner of Louis’ Basque Corner, and also works as commercial real estate agent. Chris and his partners took on a huge renovation in order to restore a century old building, and developed something unique and welcoming in a struggling area of town. See some incredible before-and-after pictures here.

Chris and his business partner, Brandon Wright, used to brew beer together when they were roommates in college at the University of Nevada, Reno. Brandon continued his education for brewing at the World Brewing Institute, while Chris began working in commercial real estate after college. Together they became the perfect team to reunite with a new business idea for Reno.

Here is my Q&A with Chris Shanks as he gives us some insight on starting a business and what it takes to be an entrepreneur in the Biggest Little City.

How did you find the right location?

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We needed to find something that was big enough for what we wanted to do, and the right location was key to our business. Next to Louis’ was a three-story brick building built in 1910, which originally served as the headquarters for the Nevada-California-Oregon Railway. When the owners agreed to sell the building, the Depot was born. The name was a no-brainer; it was simple and gave us an instant brand.


“Reno, especially in this area of town, still has a stigma that you have to fight every day. Whether it is crime, homelessness, or something else, it is all more visible in this location. When you are on the edges of the developed areas, you take on that risk but you can also find less expensive real estate.  This area gave us a chance to reclaim some of Reno, and work with the existing architecture of a historic building.”

The Depot is one of three businesses that Chris is involved with. Where does he find his motivation?

It is my personality; to always be busy. I love having a project of my own to motivate myself, and working for someone else and meeting their goals just is not my personality. Being an business owner, you have good days and bad days, but you are pursuing your own path. It is rewarding, satisfying, and stressful. A lot of people don’t realize what it really is. There is beauty in working for a company too. Without having to worry about all of the details of running a business, many jobs allow you to make those entrepreneurial-like decisions and to be expressive as a manager. It just depends on your personality. My path is a product of the job market that my generation entered.


“Every recession brings an uptick of entrepreneurs. My passion wasn’t available so I went my own route.”


What does Chris do for his own personal development?

I keep an open mind. I stay educated because continuous learning and understanding different points of view can show you better ways to do things. There is always new information out there, never think that you are always right. People get stuck in a trap of being closed-minded and it keeps them from advancing in so many ways.

Look them up on Yelp and you will find a flood of five star reviews, but how do they utilize social media to their advantage in such a volatile industry?

We may have 300+ customers on a daily basis, and you have to be great 100% of the time, or you face negative reviews. There is a learning curve when it comes to turning it all off when you come home but you have to look at the responses and determine which ones are really valid. If it is something actionable that be can amended, then we will apologize and incentivize them to give us another chance to do it right. We don’t want to respond to every complaint on the internet for various reasons, but we want to respond to the ones that are a reflection of our business and something that we can use to do better.

What does he hope to see in Reno in the next few years?
Responsible growth. Growing with reckless abandon with a lot of speculation in mind is what led to the last recession. We should grow for the sake of need instead of building a huge supply in hopes of finding the demand. I hope to see projects that better our community, clean up downtown and make Reno a safe, clean place to live.


Chris’s advice for entrepreneurs:

Do what allows you to have a work-life balance. Happiness doesn’t have to be egocentric titltes where you own your own corporation. Don’t do something and then hope that it makes you happy. Do something that makes you happy and hope that it becomes something that you can make a living out of. The hard work is worth it, and doing something you like makes the hard work worthwhile. Try and identify niches where the business you are getting into isn’t dominated by larger corporations with economies of scale where they can out-compete you every time.

“Don’t’ just jump into the pool; understand the waters, and what might live in them.”


The next time you are looking for something unique and delicious in Reno, head to the Depot. If you have time, try and schedule a brewery tour. I promise, you will not be disappointed with the impressive forged copper and steel distillery, and friendliness of the staff.  The transformation of the building alone is enough to pay a visit to somewhere that is the only one of its kind in downtown Reno. Supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs is so important to the growth and development of your hometown. Check out the Depot for lunch, dinner  or weekend brunch today! Come for the food and atmosphere, and stay for their award winning craft beer and cocktails.


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Using Your Study Abroad to Boost Your Resumé

There are countless benefits of taking a year, semester, or even a week to study abroad during college. It is one of the best things you can do for personal development as you are thrown out of your comfort zone into the unknown to experience another culture with new people. Although many students enter the program feeling anxious and uncertain about the situation, most students describe their experience abroad as “life-changing”. Students display initiative by committing to a program that will require them to travel alone in a different culture with people they just met. They develop resilience to ambiguity and an ability to understand the world from different perspectives.

Beyond the benefits for one’s personal life, studying abroad helps students develop valuable job skills such as language proficiency, confidence, collaboration, and communication skills. “If you’re traveling alone, you’ll gain self-sufficiency and learn how to think on your feet. On the other hand, if you’re traveling as a group, you’ll learn how to hear the voices of others and hone your teamwork skills.” (GoAbroad). 80% of study abroad students reported that studying abroad allowed them to adapt better to diverse work environments. This opportunity opens so many doors for your personal and professional life while allowing you to try something out of your comfort zone that builds tremendous independence.

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How can you add and communicate such a life changing experience to a resumé? Many employers are understanding the benefits of study abroad programs and are pleased to see it on a resume, but you need to be able to effectively and intelligently reflect on your experience and how the skills you acquired will translate to your skills for that particular job. “Through written materials or in conversations, employers need you to clearly and thoughtfully convey how your study-abroad experience has prepared you to be a strong candidate for their organization.” (University of Virginia).

Here are a few ways that you may have benefitted from a study abroad program that may translate to employers as to how it will benefit their business:

  • Develop an understanding of global issues in your industry.
  • Acquire the ability to be adaptable to new environments with ambiguous situations.
  • Solve problems on your own or in a group by applying familiar concepts to unfamiliar situations.
  • Understand business situations from different perspectives.


To include your study abroad experience on a resumé, you can list the program and institution under the “Education” section of your resumé or list it under coursework if it is related to your job search. Alternatively, you could include it in the “Related Experience” section, and if you have multiple study abroad trips, you should add an “International Experience” or “Travel” section to your resume and describe projects or work experience that you may have had while you were abroad that would relate to the job you are applying for. “Think back on your trip and determine who would be good for you to ask to be a reference: a teacher from the country in which you studied, host family members, and an overseeing faculty member from your home school are just a few possibilities. Gather those references soon after having your study abroad trip, while the experience is fresh in everybody’s mind.” (Salisbury University)

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If you have studied abroad, you know the advantages that the experience has had on your personal development, and you should consider how your commitment to that change in your life has helped you grow as a professional as well.  Use your experience to become more marketable to employers and be prepared to articulate how it has developed you to be the best candidate for the job. Curious about study abroad programs? Check with your university to see what options they have for students. I am a 30 year old grad student with two kids and thought my opportunity for study abroad was long gone. I found out the University of Nevada, Reno offered a one week study abroad program in Sydney, Australia. I organized the kids, stepped WAY out of my comfort zone, and although it was only a week long, it was one of the most beneficial and FUN experiences of my life

Visionary: Drink & Dream Workshops in the Biggest Little City

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Midtown Reno is a continually evolving neighborhood which, guided by many like-minded entrepreneurs, has become a center for one of a kind businesses that have made it a trendy and vibrant part of Reno. At the heart of it all is Junkee Clothing Exchange, a midtown staple that is getting ready to celebrate their 9th anniversary of doing business. I had the opportunity to chat with Jessica Schneider, owner of Junkee, about their new business, Visionary, described as a “drink and dream workshop”, along with the value it provides to Midtown Reno, and the Reno community as a whole.

Visionary is aimed at helping people understand and realize their goals, while giving them a way to hold themselves accountable for them every day. Having a visual aid of what you want your future to consist of can add clarity to your desires, and ensures that your chosen images are firmly lodged in the subconscious. Visionary is one of the few self-improvement businesses in Reno and is the only vision board business in the United States.

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Visionary founders, Jessica Shneider and Hillary Schieve Photo Source

What made Jessica want to start this business?

In 2005 Jessica started teaching vision board classes at Nothing To It, a culinary center in Reno. When Junkee opened up, her focus was on Midtown. How could she help clean up the neighborhood that had such a bad reputation?  She was taking over the building where Junkee was located, so she decided to make it a more family friendly area, and an ice cream shop would be the perfect fit.  After pitching the idea to others without gauging interest, she decided to do it herself, and Simple Ice Cream Sandwiches was born. In October 2016, she teamed up with mayor, Hillary Schieve, to create her third business, the Visionary, a place where people could come and design their life goals in a real and tangible way.

What is a vision board?

A vision board is something you create as a visible and consistent reminder of your goals. You can visit their website HERE for more information and for a Q & A on the process. Jessica says, “For me, it really reminds me of what I want most. I put my vision boards right where I can see them every day. And, when I look at it every day, my visions come true. It’s not magic, or religious, it a daily reminder of your dreams.” When you walk into her office at Junkee, the wall across from her desk is a wall-size vision board to serve as a reminder of what she values and wants to accomplish.

“Where energy flows, the mind goes”


What is a class like?

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All of the tools needed for creating a vision board are provided in a class. Classes usually last around two hours and there is a stocked bar of beer and wine available. Every class also has a speaker. Sometimes it is Jessica or Hillary, and other times they have guest speakers to guide subjects such as recovering from failure, parenting, sexuality, and entrepreneurship. This is an excellent exercise for team building because it allows you to see people beyond their everyday persona, and gives you a glimpse of what their hopes and dreams look like. “People start to share what they have created and then they all start to open up to each other.” The reason why a vision board can work is because the board is a reflection of the thoughts we hold around something we desire to come into fruition in our lives.

Everyone has a goal, many are focused on better relationships, dream vacations and living a healthier lifestyle. Jessica hopes to change Reno one vision board at a time while also encouraging a culture change in businesses. Everyone should make one because it draws you away from negativity and gives you something to strive for every day. She sets an example at her businesses by creating a culture of engagement and friendship.

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Junkee team building trip to Disneyland

Her advice for entrepreneurs: “It is hard work! It is not what you think, it takes 3-5 years to build a business and once you have built it, that doesn’t mean that you are going to make money right away. Every business has a story, and moments where you think, ‘What am I doing?’ You need to be a leader instead of a boss and invest in your people.” Jessica’s vision board describes her taking her whole staff to Disneyland, which she was able to do recently with her team at Junkee.

Curious about Visionary? Grab some ice cream at Simple Ice Cream Sandwiches, get inspired with a great find at Junkee, and sign up for a class at Visionary TODAY!  This could be the push you need to recognize and hold yourself accountable for your own dreams. You might find out that you benefit from it more than you expected to, and you will be supporting local business in our amazing town! Have you taken a class like this before? Share your own experiences in the comments!

Finding Your Identity After Parenthood

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Having kids is like nothing else in life. It changes the way you think about the world, and lets you love someone in a way that you never knew possible; but parenthood it is not to be underestimated.  No matter how much you love being a parent and adore your kids, it is the ultimate test of grit and resilience and there are going to be times where you are exhausted, mentally broken, and feel lost in your direction in life. It happens because you start to care for someone else around the clock, someone who needs you, and only you for every waking moment, and all the things you had on your life to-do list gets put aside so that you can dedicate your whole world to this little person’s needs, while often neglecting your own.


Being a mom is such a blessing, and every day I am so grateful for those little boys who are growing into sweet and hilarious people who challenge me every single day.  It is the hardest thing I have ever done, and I am always conflicted about my life as a mom and where I stand in the professional world. I have worked hard as a manager and as a student, and although being a mom comes first, I still very much value my future as a financial provider for my family while finding my own satisfaction in my career path.  I have spent three years putting my heart and soul into taking care of my family, and I find myself thinking a lot about my own identity besides being a mom. Cheryl Richardson, author, radio show host and teacher, states that “many mothers fall prey to the common misconception that their identity is merely wrapped up in what they do. You are more than the care you give your children and the responsibilities you take on for the good of your family, and you can reclaim your identity after children and marriage.”


Here are some things that have helped me on my journey through parenthood:

  1. Discover your interests: Spend time exploring what you like. The things that interested you before might have changed, and that’s ok! Take time out and get to know yourself again. For me, even listening to my own favorite music rather than Disney songs from Moana over and over again makes me feel like myself again. Take a class. Going back to school changed my life! It made me feel like I had “me” time again and a chance to start fresh with my career options.
  1. Do something out of the ordinary. Most of the time, being a parent is all about routine, especially if you stay home with the kids. Routines can help us to be more efficient, but breaking that routine every once in a while can be liberating. Take some time to go on a hike with friends, or find a fundraiser for a cause that you care about.  Social time is so important for creating connections and nurturing the ones you already have. Making yourself visible in your community can help you find a job, internship, or volunteer opportunity. Don’t get a lot of alone time? Take your kids! Go camping, head to the beach, or even go to a movie. “When we consistently stick to the same routines, some brain functions run on autopilot, but by changing our habits, we can force the brain to pay attention and exercise itself. Simply switching up your environment or changing your workflow exercises your brain, generating positive and lasting changes.

    My husband and I on a scuba diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns, Australia. We left the kids with my parents to have some one on one time.
  1. Have some “me” time. Take time to take care of yourself. It does not mean that you are being selfish. For me, sometimes it means dropping of the kids so that I can focus on school work, or spending time with my husband one on one. The options are limitless if you just give yourself a little time to do whatever it is you want to do while re-charging and taking time to reflect.  Having uninterrupted time to think about what you really want can help you create a game plan for getting closer to your goal.
  1. Find your tribe. Whether it is your family, friends, colleagues, or someone you met at the park, finding people who you can relate to can help you form important connections and can help build a community of trust and support in your life. My tribe is my family. Many of them live in Reno and I know that when I need to get work done or do something for myself, I can count on them to help me out with the kids. My friends with kids help keep me sane because we can all laugh about the crazy things we do as parents while the kids play, and my friends without kids encourage me to think about where I am going next in my career and what I want out of life for myself.
  1. Use your resources. Find a quick class to take to sharpen your skills on a subject or program, or ask a friend in the industry to give you feedback on your resume. If you are still exploring your interests, try volunteering for a local organization. You will likely form valuable connections while helping others in your community that you care about.
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When spending so much time working with and for your kids, it is common to feel detached from who you feel that you really are. Parenting is a role that you play; it is an important one, but just as we are employees, students, friends, and volunteers, those positions are roles, not necessarily what defines us or who we really are. As parents, it is also common to be too hard on ourselves for not living up to who we think we should be in those roles. Parenting is hard enough as it is, but if you never make anything happen for you, you can’t expect anything to happen to you.  What are some ways that you have found your identity while caring for others? Whether you have kids or not, take some time today to reflect on who you want to be, what kind of example you want to set for your kids, and if your current path is leading you in the right direction.

Why I Decided to go Back to School


Wgraduationhen I graduated from college in 2009 with my bachelor’s degree, I was so happy to be done with school and start my career. I began working as an event manager for a country club, where I stayed and grew to oversee many departments over my 5 years as a manager. In 2013 my husband and I found out we were expecting our first baby, and although we couldn’t have been happier, I wondered about my career and what I would want as a mom.  I grew up with my mom staying home with me and my three siblings. I always loved having my mom there for us all the time, but I had planned to have a career and a family, and hopefully find a good balance.


I continued working once my son was born, and leaving him each day was heartbreaking. I came to a point in my career where there was no growth opportunities within the company. I wasn’t challenged anymore and working late nights and weekends made it hard for me to stay engaged. I decided to leave my job and take some time to figure out my next step while staying home with my son in the meantime.  The longer I wasn’t working, the more I felt like I was losing out on potential jobs in the future because of my gap in employment. I thought about going back to school; I always wanted to get my MBA, but it was one of those things I always said I wanted to do but for some reason knew that I probably would never actually do it.

I went through a period where I started calling myself out on making plans and not following through on them. I started writing things down, keeping a journal of ideas, goals and gratitude. Writing it down made it more real for me and I felt more accountable to myself as I could see all the things I was wanting to do, but wasn’t following through with.  I decided to take the GMAT, and once I was accepted to the MBA program at the University of Nevada, Reno, it felt like a weight had been lifted from me.  Actually following through on something I had been thinking about for so long felt like a relief. I wondered what else I could accomplish by holding myself accountable to my goals.

Going back to school felt strange to me. I was a non-traditional student, married with two kids and would be graduating when I was 30 years old. It was scary at first because it was new and different, but as I continued through the program I was learning so much valuable information, making many new friends, and became part of a network of resources that I never would have had access to otherwise.

Here are 5 reasons I went back to school:

  1. To acquire skills for a better job in the future. I value my time with my kids while they are babies and toddlers, but I want to provide a good life and financial start for them in the future as well. When I return to work, I want it to be something I am proud to be investing my time in.
  1. Personal fulfillment. Learning is exciting, especially when you are making the choice to be there for yourself. Challenging myself to develop new skills and perspectives has opened so many doors for me, and is the reason why I am so focused on personal development. It is an endless endeavor that builds confidence, character and gives a feeling of accomplishment that can’t be beat.
  1. Setting an example. Although my kids are very young now, it is important for them to see me studying and excited to learn and go to class each week. I want them to see from a young age that education is important, and as they grow older I hope they are encouraged to continue learning and engaging in personal development.
  1. Self-reliance and security. I have no doubts about the future of my marriage, but at a young age my grandfather encouraged me as a woman to be self-reliant and to create my own safety net so that I would not have to rely on anyone to take care of my family and myself. If something were to happen to my husband and he was unable to work, I know that I could provide for our family, and that is very valuable to me.  I am in charge of my own future and my own happiness, and continuing to develop myself gives me the ability to ensure that I am creating the life that I want.
  1. Keeping the balance. I love kids. I love the chaos and the funny things they say, their sweet innocence and unconditional love. I have to admit though, being with them all day every day makes me crave intellectual conversations, adult interactions, and challenges that don’t involve toddler tantrums. It is important to have your own time doing something you are passionate about, and school gives me that. It is the bridge between me as a mom and as a professional, which creates a balance that gives me the satisfaction of both worlds.

Being a graduate student has changed my life in many positive ways, I can’t even imagine where I would be if I hadn’t chose this path. As we get older and have more responsibilities it gets harder to find the time to go back to school or to start anything new for that matter, but it is never too late! The American Council on Education report, Framing New Terrain: Older Adults & Higher Education, shows more older adults are starting to return to college, pursue new career directions, start new businesses, and realize lifelong dreams. Over a lifetime, the gap in earning potential between the high school graduate and those holding a bachelor’s degree or higher exceeds $1 million, according to the College Board.

If anything, I encourage people to start a journal and begin writing down their goals, ideas and gratitude. What are you grateful for? How can you build on that to create and realize your own goals? Start small or go big, you don’t have to get a master’s degree, but hold yourself accountable to your ideas and plans, I promise that great things can happen!

Developing Business Skills on the Go

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Personal development comes in many forms and is a lifelong process of assessing your skills and qualities while setting goals so that you can maximize your potential. Self-actualization is the desire that everyone has “to become everything that they are capable of becoming”, and identifying what it is that a person needs to do to reach their full unique potential.

Creating the time to learn or experience something new can open many doors for people and may help them learn things about themselves, others or the world by changing perspectives and encouraging the continuation of growth. It can be difficult to commit to an immense change in life such as going back to school or changing careers, especially later in life, but exploring classes and seminars to build skills requires little commitment and can motivate you to continue your path of personal development.

There is an online career training portal called “Train Up”, which offers seminars and courses on business skills and personal development training throughout the year. They offer live courses which are either web based classes, traditional classroom settings, or a mix of both. They also provide courses that are self-paced and include e-learning, online and video courses. Classrooms are located throughout every state in the U.S. and Canada; and in Reno, NV alone there were ten 1-day courses available for developing business skills.

In their online “Personal Development” section, they offer everything from leadership training, project management, presentation skills, time management, working with difficult people, and many more topics that you can learn at your own pace. Some topics such as customer service and business writing are only an hour long while others like Microsoft Office skills can be up to 7 hours. Here is a sample of the industries they cover:

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If you are looking to strengthen your business skills or learn something new with little commitment, this is a great tool to get started. Taking the first step can motivate you to take another, and soon you will realize not only how beneficial it is to keep “sharpening the knife” and learning new skills, but you will also recognize your capacity to do so. Check with your company to see if they already have a personal development program in place, or see if they would be willing to pay for or reimburse you for your courses if they relate to your industry. You will be benefitting your own personal development journey, showing initiative, and making yourself more valuable to employers.

Check out the website HERE. Have you taken a personal development course or seminar? Feel free to share your own experience and if it was beneficial to you. I would love to hear your experience!

Being “Busy” is Holding You Back

How many times have you heard someone use the excuse “I can’t, I’m too busy” or “I just don’t have time”? I am sure we have all caught ourselves using these excuses, and probably fairly often in our lives, but when you think about it, why are we so busy? And what makes us so busy that we can’t find time to do things that others who are just as busy, if not more, can?

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This is probably most common when it comes to relationships and dating, but when it becomes our go-to excuse to get out of doing things out of our routines, it can hold us back from personal growth in a way in which we don’t even realize is happening. Everyone is busy! Of course, there are days where we just cannot or do not want to fit another item on the agenda because we are just completely swamped, but that is not the busy I am talking about. It is the “busy” that surrounds our day to day lives that makes us feel like we don’t have time to take on anything new, such as start a new project, learn a new skill or even make a new friend. We all have times where we just don’t feel like doing something, and being busy is the easiest thing to say where others won’t question your excuse, but the more you do it, the more you fall into the routine of actually believing that you don’t have the time to do things and you create a habit of saying “no” to people and experiences.

Time Management

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When I was just out of college, all of my time went towards working full time, overtime, buying a house, having a relationship, making time for my family and friends, and trying to squeeze everything in so that I made time for everyone in my life. Busy, no doubt. At another point in my life I was not working but staying home with my 1 year old son while pregnant with my second. There just weren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish all of the things I wanted to, not to mention time for myself. Staying home with a child was extremely demanding and I looked back and felt like I had it so easy before, when I had no one to take care of everyday and had all of the time in the world to do what I wanted. Now, as a grad student with two kids, I look back again and think, “Wow, I had no idea what busy was”. It is so easy to look back and think about how it wasn’t really that hectic compared to what you are doing now, and that is because we survived that chapter of our lives and still made time to do more. Resilience builds up and we learn to manage our time so that we can do what we need to do and still have time to do what we want to

Time is precious and everyone’s time is valuable. The important thing is to recognize that you are only too busy for the things you don’t want to make time for. If you care about something, you have to find the time to make it happen. Don’t believe that you are too busy to catch up with friends, take a trip, or go back to school. You will only set yourself up to miss out on something that could have been really fun or memorable, or even something that could have changed your path. There is a lot of power in taking control of our own time, and there are always ways to work smarter or faster to accomplish your goals. Here is a really helpful blog about time management that is definitely worth a read if you are looking to maximize the time in your day.

No Excuses

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We are all busy because we are all students, teachers, business owners, employees, volunteers, parents, friends, athletes, and all of the other roles we play every single day. Make the time to develop yourself personally, socially, physically, etc.  Text your friends back, show up to girl’s night, call your mom, do the things you have been meaning to do but didn’t make the time. Recognize the times when you don’t have to be trying to do a million things at once and just be present.

Be truthful to yourself about what your priorities are so that you don’t have to use “busy” as an excuse.”

My challenge to everyone is to try and go a full day without using the word “busy”! Be conscious of how and when you are using it and notice how often others use it too.