A Note from bSmart Founder, Meagan Hooper: 

I created The bSmart Guide because I wanted to share the advice I wish someone had told me when I graduated from college about how to be smart with my career, relationships, finances, health, fashion, technology, and living.  Listed below are all of the questions, resources, and inspiration that were instrumental in helping me achieve my goals.

I’ve learned that to be successful, you need more than knowledge - you need support and guidance.  I hope you’ll study The bSmart Guide with a community mentor group so that you can receive the same support that was instrumental to me for achieving my goals and realizing my dreams.  

Click here to connect with a Community Mentor Group and study The bSmart Guide!

The bSmart Guide is an optional tool for self-reflection, skills training, and discussion in your bSmart Community Mentor Group video chats.   Study all of the topics or select only one topic that is relevant for your group.  Take an overview approach for three months or study each topic in-depth over 6 months.

 

Part 1: bSmart with your Career 

 

Embracing fear of failure and not letting it stop you or hold you back is one of the most important keys for success. – Krystal Ball, Democratic Nominee for U.S. Congress and MSNBC Strategist

Reading:

I do believe that some of us are wired that if you listen deeply enough you can know your passion and what speaks to you.  I have been blessed by throwing myself into the universe and asking, 'Where am I supposed to be next?'  And if you really listen (and I do believe anyone is capable of this) if you really do listen you could find out and be guided as to what your passion is.  It’s a skill set to stop all of the 'I would’ve, could’ve, should’ve…I’m trained to do this or that.'  And really take a look around.  One of the things I do well is really take a look around and listen.  And when you listen really deeply, I always find something drops in your hand and you’re guided.  That’s what I’ve done.

We do have to make a living and sometimes we’re in jobs that don’t turn us on or what you want to be doing.  But there is something about really being moved.  I believe that when you hear a great song, see something, or when something’s wrong and you feel it, there’s a deeper listening that you get (and everyone gets it) you know when you’re in connect and disconnect.  And so I encourage everyone, especially young women, to stop beating up on yourself or criticizing yourself.  Open yourself up to listen.  I remember reading this one line in The Color Purple, 'I think God gets pissed off when we walk by a field and don’t take notice of the color purple.'  Take notice of the color purple.  Take notice of everything. - Laurie Meadoff, Founder of Chat the Planet and The CityKids Foundation

 

bSmart Questions:

  • How do you define your purpose?
  • What is your dream job and where would you live?
  • What aspects of your purpose are part of your job or hobbies?
  • What are the biggest barriers to you expressing your purpose?
  • What is one thing you can do this week to fulfill your purpose?
 

bSmart Resources:      

  • Identify your purpose and define your personal mission statement here.
  • Take the Clifton StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment to find out your strengths here.
  • Watch Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are below.
  • Watch Pantene’s Commercial Don’t Let Labels Hold You Back here.
  • Download Interview Prep worksheets from The Prepary here.
 

bSmart Actions:

  • Share your personal or professional mission statement.
  • List your top 5 strengths according to Clifton’s Strengthsfinder Survey.
  • Alternate playing big and playing small to see how this influences how you feel and think.
  • List 3 ways your dream career can be a service to other people.
 

bSmart Community Mentor Group Guide:

Week 1: Your Personal + Professional Mission Statements
Week 2: Understanding Your Strengths
Week 3: How to Overcome the Imposter Syndrome
 

Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

 
 
Part 2: bSmart with your Finances
 

Many millennials are sandwiched between student debt and unemployment (or underemployment), unable to afford the lifestyle modeled for them by previous generations. I live by the mantra that it doesn't matter how much or how little you make, spending less than you earn is the secret to creating wealth and security. - Meagan Hooper, bSmart Founder

 

Reading:

As founder and CEO of LearnVest, I’ve come to learn that just because people know they need to use a budget and spend within their means, it doesn’t mean they will actually stick to it.  That’s why we worked hard to incorporate behavior change fundamentals into our financial planning software and service.  One trick we came up with to help people stick to their budget is the one-number strategy.  This budgeting framework accounts for fixed costs, financial goals, non-monthly expenses (which easily throws off typical budgets!) and a flexible spending amount.  This ‘safe to spend’ number is the only thing you need to remember on a day-to-day basis, which makes it easy to incorporate.

The LearnVest 50/20/30 principle of budgeting is a helpful way to think about how to portion off your expenses, and it’s one of our favorite financial planning tools.  According to this philosophy, 50% of your monthly budget should be portioned off for essentials like your home and groceries, 30% should be used for all lifestyle expenses, and 20% should go towards your future.

Investing is one of the most reliable ways to grow your money over time, as the markets have tended to grow over the long term (though, throughout that period there will be highs and lows).  Conversely, if you keep your extra cash in a savings account, it may not have access to the same amount of growth (if there is growth at all), and you may not be able to counter the impact of inflation.

Once you have a solid financial foundation (which in our mind includes having an emergency fund and zero credit card debt), investing is something that we believe everyone should consider.  That said, I recommend investing within your retirement account (and maxing it out) before investing elsewhere. - Alexa von Tobel, Founder of LearnVest.com.

 

bSmart Questions:

  • Do you have a financial planner, coach, or money mentor?
  • Do you know how much money you should be saving each year?
  • Do you have a plan for increasing your income or earnings potential?
  • Do you know how, when, and why you should be investing in your future?
  • What is one action you can take this week to begin investing in your future?
 

bSmart Resources:

  • Read Become Financially Fearless with LearnVest Founder Alexa von Tobel here.
  • Caluclate your Net Worth here and Monthly Budget here.
  • Calculate the impact of saving and investing early with this compound calculator.
  • Watch Alexa Von Tobel's TED Talk One Life-Changing Class You Never Took below.
  • Read Financially Fearless: The LearnVest Way of Taking Control of Your Money here.  
  • Learn lnvesting 101 here and 10 steps to investing here.
 

bSmart Actions:

  • Calculate your net worth and how much money you can save and invest each month.
  • List 3 ways to reduce your monthly expenses or increase your income.
  • Determine the amount of money you would like to invest in your future every month.
 

bSmart Community Mentor Group Guide:

Week 1: Your Biggest Money Concern + Your Net Worth & Monthly Budget
Week 2: The Power of Compounding + Asset Classes + Retail Brokerage Accounts
 

One Life-Changing Class You Never Took

If you require financial advice, you should contact an independent registered financial adviser.  Information provided on and available from this website does not constitute any investment recommendation.  No representation or warranty, express or implied, is given as to the accuracy of the information provided on and available from this website.  Neither we nor the author has taken into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before making an investment decision, you need to consider whether this information is appropriate to your objectives, financial situation and needs.

 
 
Part 3: bSmart with your Relationships
 

I am a firm believer that we are writing and rewriting our story every single day.  I want all bSmart members to know that happiness is not something they should postpone for tomorrow…they need to design it today. – Kim Petre, Personal Life Coach

 

Reading:

People often look at my life and think, I have it all and my life has been easy.  I’ve had my fair share of challenges that have made me the woman I am today and able to help women design the life they want for themselves.  My father became sick with Parkinson’s disease when I was three years old.  It was agonizing to watch such a wonderful man deteriorate the way that he did.  His “absence” left me with the issues a lot of young women face who lack a strong male figure during their formidable years. 

By the time I was 20 I had been in several bad relationships that were less than worthy of my time and love.  I was cheated on and generally mistreated and I allowed it because I was so desperate for attention from a man.  Just being a 'nice, normal guy' didn’t cut it for me because I was accustomed to having to fight for attention having spent years doing just that within my family dynamic.  I reached a turning point in one of my particularly bad relationships where I remember saying to myself, 'I am not going to let this pattern of dating define all of my future relationships anymore.'  That was the first step towards finding the man of my dreams.  After a wonderful 5-year relationship, I'm now married to a wonderful man and he is everything I dreamed of and deserve. - Kim Petre, Personal Life Coach

 

bSmart Questions:

  • What are the characteristics of your ideal romantic relationship?
  • Are you in any relationship that is not worthy of your time and love?
  • What actions (from your friends or family) communicate love to you?
  • Is there a recurring scenario in your life where you feel taken advantage?
  • Is there one boundary you can create this week to show love to yourself and others?
 

bSmart Resources:

  • Take The Five Love Languages Quiz here.
  • Watch Alexandra Redcay's TED Talk Select the right relationship for you below.
  • Take the Univited Assessement to find out if you're holding on to past rejections here.
  • Watch Cindy Gallop’s TED Talk Make Love, Not Porn here.
  • Register for How About We to meet singles in your area for offline real dates.
 

bSmart Actions:

  • List the 5 Love Languages in order of importance to you.
  • Name one relationship where you need to set or increase your boundaries.
  • Communicate your desired romantic and sexual expression to your partner.
 

bSmart Community Mentor Group Guide:

Week 1: The 5 Love Languages
Week 2: Choosing the Right Relationship
Week 3: Setting Boundaries in Relationships

Select the right relationship for you

 
 
Part 4: bSmart with your Wellbeing
 

What I put in my head is far more important than what I put in my mouth. – Tory Johnson, GMA Contributor and author of The Shift

 

Reading:

Primary Foods are those things that fill you up but you can’t literally put them on your plate.  They’re your relationships, career, spirituality - all the different components of your life that leave you fulfilled.  If you’re not feeling satisfied in your job or in your home environment, you’ll reach for whatever is going to satisfy you immediately, whether it’s a potato chip or a cookie. Healthy living is really about keeping your Primary Foods in check, so that the Secondary Foods become truly secondary. – Leah Fox, Certified Health Coach

 

Practicing meditation is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your sense of wellbeing.  In addition to making you a calmer, more clear-headed person, meditation also has a range of other benefits including better physical health, more harmonious relationships, higher performance levels, and just plain feeling happier.

We spend so much of our time thinking about the past or anticipating the future.  I call it the 'If only' or 'What if' frame of mind.  We spend so much energy beating ourselves up over what’s already happened and worrying about what might happen, that we often miss what’s happening right here, right now.  Being more mindful lets us appreciate our life as it’s happening.  So if I'm at the beach with my family at sunset, but my mind is on the presentation I have for work tomorrow, I’m not living the present moment.  Meditation trains us to notice when our mind wanders off into thought and teaches us to bring ourselves back to whatever we’re actually doing.

Meditation is an amazing tool that can help you improve your life.  But it’s a bit like taking birth control pills - if you don’t do it everyday, it’s not as effective.  For years I was an emergency meditator - I only did it when I was in some sort of crisis.  And though it did help in these situations, the real change came in my life from making it part of my daily routine and allowing to find it’s way into my daily life.  My bSmart advice is make the effort to be consistent at the beginning - remember, it takes only 21 days to build a habit. - Lynne Goldberg, Founder of OMG. I Can Meditate!

 

bSmart Questions:

  • List your overall wellbeing score according to the Wellbeing Finder assessment.
  • How healthy are you with your: career, social, financial, physical, and community?
  • Are you able to think in the present or are you distracted by the past and future?
  • What are the most impactful ways you meditate or re-charge on a daily basis?
  • What is one action you can take this week to improve your wellbeing on a daily basis?
 

bSmart Resources:

  • Take The Wellbeing Finder assessment here.
  • Read how to meditate and become mindful here.
  • Learn to meditate with Headspace.com and the Headspace app here.
  • Learn to meditate with OMG I Can Meditate! launching in March here.
  • Read Success through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple by Russel Simmons here.
  • Read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle here.
  • Watch Mindfulness + Healing below.
      

bSmart Actions:

  • Share your wellbeing score for your career, social, financial, physical, and community wellbeing.
  • Spend 15 minutes every morning to journal or meditate about your roles and goals.
  • Take one action this week to improve your wellbeing in the area with your lowest score.
 

bSmart Community Mentor Group Guide:

Week 1: The Five Essential Elements of Wellbeing
Week 2: Mindfulness Through Meditation
 

Mindfulness + Healing 

 
 
Part 5: bSmart with your Fashion + Beauty
 

Good style comes from being your own person. – Engie Hassan, Celebrity Stylist

 

Reading:

Fashion and beauty is all about empowering women and helping them feel great about themselves.  Unfortunately the images of women in media have disempowered women in many ways making them feel like they’re not beautiful unless they reflect certain images.  Beauty and fashion is meant to make you feel good and that’s how I believe women should use it.  And on days when you don’t feel great, it’s a way to elevate yourself.

I feel fortunate because of my experience starting at O, The Oprah Magazine where it was all about empowering women using beauty and fashion to make women feel spirited and embrace who they are.  We’re making strides and inroads in media and advertising with campaigns like the Dove ‘Real Beauty’ campaign and so many others like ‘My Black is Beautiful’ that encourage women to celebrate who they are and express themselves.

When you’re feeling fabulous and on top of the world - wear a 6-inch heel (I do!).  When you’re feeling powerful and want to make a strong statement - wear that red lip.  Or if you’re feeling more reserved, perhaps wear just a pale pink lip.  Whatever it is for you, I believe fashion and beauty is an opportunity for you to self-express and that is power. – Tai Beauchamp, Fashion & Beauty expert

 

bSmart Questions:

  • When do you feel the most creative?
  • What does your style mean to you?
  • Where do you need more inspiration in your fashion, beauty, or home décor?
  • In what ways are you celebrating your life and the life of those around you?
  • How does your style represent the message you want to send to the world?
 

bSmart Resources:

  • Register or download LikeToKnow.It, Stylebook, FAD, and The Hunt.
  • Watch Jessi Arrington's TED Talk Wearing Nothing New below.
  • Watch fashion and beauty experit Tai Beauchamp explain how to dress for your body here.
  • Register for the world's leading fashion and consumer trend forecasting service here.
  • Watch The Eye Has to Travel documentary on legendary Fashion Editor Diana Vreeland.
 

Fashions fade, style is eternal. - Yves Saint Laurent

Elegance is the only beauty that never fades. - Audrey Hepburn

Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. - Coco Chanel

The fashionable woman wears clothes. The clothes don't wear her. - Mary Quant

Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than to merely keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world's view of us. - Virginia Woolf

 

bSmart Actions:

  • Pamper yourself with a brow mapping from Benefit Cosmetics or blowout from Drybar
  • Select one ‘out of the box’ fashion finds that inspires you this week.
  • Surround yourself with a new inspiring object when you work or rest this week.
 

bSmart Community Mentor Group Guide:

Week 1: Style + Inspiration
Week 2: Dressing for Your Body
 

Find Fearless Fashion with Tai Beauchamp

 
 
Part 6: bSmart with Technology
 

It’s really important to understand how social media can be beneficial for sharing and building your personal brand and voice. - Morin Oluwole, Luxury Client Partnerships Lead at Facebook and Instagram

 

Reading:

Whether you want to launch your own business or land your dream job, your personal brand empowers you to make a living doing what you love and make your mark on the world. The truth is that whether or not you are intentionally cultivating your personal brand, you already have one! By mindfully and strategically establishing your brand you will position yourself as an influencer and cultivate a community of personal brand cheerleaders (your Clique) who will support your mission and spark your movement.

Your business or blog should be an extension of your personal brand, not the other way around. Many entrepreneurs invest lots of money into their brand design (website, logo, business cards, etc.) before they are clear on their personal brand strategy. Your message, mission, values and voice are the foundation of your personal brand and will serve as a blueprint for your brand design.

Always stay true to your brand. When growing your personal brand online, it can be so tempting to compare yourself to other It Girls who appear to have more success than you. Comparison is super self-destructive, like personal brand poison, so when you find your mind venturing down that dangerous path, remember that no one can be you better than YOU. The secret to manifesting your ‘have it all’ vision is to own your ‘It’ and commit to showing up as your best self each and every day. Michela Aramini, Founder of The Lovely It Girl 

bSmart Questions:

  • What is your intention for blogging and sharing on social media?
  • How do you define your brand voice and core values (what it is and is not)?
  • What do you want your brand voice to communicate online?
  • In what ways can you use blogging and social media for good?
  • What is one action you can take this week to communicate your brand promise?
 

bSmart Resources:

  • Watch Kate Spade’s Chief Marketing Officer explain how to build a brand voice below.
  • Create a Google Analytics account here.
  • Watch Cindy Gallop tell bloggers how to successfully share their brands online here.
  • Read Michela Aramini's advice on building your personal brand strategy here.
  • Enroll in The Lovely It Girl Academy to define your personal brand here.
  • Register for theSkimm to receive the top news stories of the day here
  • Register for need2know for the top news, entertainment, and sports here

bSmart Actions:

  • List 5 – 10 words to describe your personal or business brand.
  • Select a social media or blogger role mode to follow and learn from for 2 weeks.
  • Ask, ‘What makes me unique and makes me come alive?’
 

Building Your Brand Voice

 

Part 7: bSmart with Leadership
 

The first step in reinventing yourself is to figure out where on earth you want to go. – Lauren Maillian Bias, Author of The Path Redefined: Getting to the Top on Your Own Terms

 

Reading:

As a young woman in your 20s, there’s a lot of uncertainty.  Looking back and seeing what I’ve been able to accomplish over this period of time in my life, the most important characteristic I can refer back to is my dedication and hard work.  I never let ego get in the way.  I never let a sense of entitlement be an issue for me.  I realized that in order for me to be successful, I had to achieve it.  I had to achieve it on my own.  You do need a great support system along the way, but unless you're willing to give it 110%, you’re going to fall short.  For me, it’s always been about working extremely hard and believing in myself.

Know that as long as you work hard, as long as you commit, as long as you're surrounded by the right people, as long as you know that you’re doing as much as you possibly can at that given moment - there will be rewards.  Sometimes you’ll feel like giving up, and I’ve had those times myself.  There have been many times where I went home after days of work knowing that I felt like I was falling short in everything that I was doing.  But I knew enough not to make a decision when I was very emotional. I knew enough that if I gave it some more thought and really looked deep into why I was where I was, I wanted to and would want to push forward - and I did.  Believe in yourself.  Work really hard.  Be surrounded by excellent people, people who will elevate and support you and you’ll get there. – Nina Roket, Named one of the most influential women in NY Real Estate.

 

My advice on how to be a female leader in any industry is actually my advice on how to be a male leader.  Leadership stems from having a very clear sense of who you are and what your beliefs and values are because you are a key part of informing the values and the culture of your organization.

As a leader, the single most fundamental thing you have to do is to put your people before yourself.  To do that, you have to have a very strong sense of the values you’re going to bring to them on behalf of the organization.  It’s about connecting to them through those shared values – again, sharing the same values is the fundamental basis for any great relationship.  That’s what enables them to trust you, to want to work with you, to want to follow you as a leader, and it’s what enables you to make sure you look after your people in the way that they should be looked after.  Everything else flows from there. - Cindy Gallop, Advertising Woman of the Year, Founder of IfWeRanTheWorld.com and MakeLoveNotPorn.com

 

bSmart Questions:

  • What is your biggest dream for your life?
  • What characteristics of grit do you possess?
  • Who are the leaders you want to emulate and why?
  • What does being a volunteer versus a leader mean to you?
  • How do you want to serve the world through your dream for your life?
 

bSmart Resources:

  • Watch Sheryl Sandberg’s TED Talk Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders below.
  • Create a vision board with your dream for yourself using Pinterest Secret Boards.
  • Watch The Key to Success? Grit here.
  • Read 5 Characteristics of Grit here.
  • Read Marianne Williamson’s poem “Our deepest Fear’ below.
  • Watch Oprah share how your dream career can be a service to others here.
  • Read 6 Rules to Becoming a Woman Leader + Winning Any Office here.
  • Read Everyday is Election Day: A Woman’s Guide to Winning Any Office here.
  • Read Oprah's Inspiring Story For How to Be a Leader here.
  • Read Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead here.
  • Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change here.
 
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.
 
- Marianne Williamson -
 

bSmart Actions:

  • Create a vision board with your dream for your life.
  • Schedule the habits you want to put in place to achieve those dreams.
  • List the ways your dream for yourself serves the world and humanity.
 

bSmart Community Mentor Group Guide:

Week 1: Your Dream for Yourself
Week 2: Your Dream for Others

 

Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders

 

 

Part 8: bSmart as a Mentor
 

We all learn from the women we aspire to be, from their stories and from their journey. – Dee Poku, Founder of the WIE Network

 

Reading:

When you launch a start-up, there's so much to learn that you can get overloaded.  It’s really helpful to know people who have gone through the journey before you to show you the path to the top of the mountain (and what to do when it gets rocky).  You want to know people who are 20 steps ahead of you so that they understand the current landscape and can introduce you to the right people along the way.

Once you’re doing well, a lot of people will approach you.  But those people will leave as soon as things get tough because they’re worried about reputation or association.  The hard moments come fast when you’re an entrepreneur and you need key relationships to stick with you during the ups and downs.

Our motto is founded on ‘Hito,’ a Japanese character that symbolizes two people leaning on each other.  Some of our founding members say that Women’s Startup Lab is like insurance - we’re a long-term collaboration of support for when you need it.  Trust and relationships are so fundamental to business success and we work to give you those necessary relationships. – Ari Horie, Founder of Women’s Start-up Lab

 

bSmart Questions:

  • What is your life motto?
  • What is unique about your story?
  • What is the best advice you’ve received?
  • What do you want your peers to know is possible from your life?
  • What is one action you can take this week to share your story?
 

bSmart Resources:

  • Watch Brené Brown’s TED Talk The Power of Vulnerability below.
  • Read Mentoring 101 by John C. Maxwell here.
  • Watch Karen Russell’s TED Talk Modern Mentoring: The Good, The Bad and The Better here.
  • Download the bSmart App to connect with your peer mentors and mentees here.
 

bSmart Actions:

  • Tell your bSmart mentor how they've helped you or thank them through a thoughtful gesture.
  • Take this survey to rate The bSmart Guide and your bSmart Community Mentor
  • Choose 3 people to mentor in-person or 10 people to mentor online from bSmart.
 

The Power of Vulnerability

 

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