The Happiness Dilemma

By: Tyeler Viel

A few years ago, I had one of those “aha!” moments. You know, the feeling you get when you peel a snorkel off after being in the salt water and the world slowly comes back into focus?

The moment happened to me as I sat in one of those trendy restaurants, where the menu reads “farm to market” in big bold letters, and giant TVs line the walls. I was sitting across from my boss in a tiny high top table, sipping my iced tea, because it was time for my annual review.

Once the usual questions and answers were out of the way, we arrived at the “areas of improvement” section. I slowly squeezed a lemon into my drink, trying to prolong the moment, while readying myself with a deep breath.

I often battle between wishing it was as simple as the reviews my elementary school teachers use to give, full of smiley faces and colored stickers and yet also eager for clear, actionable feedback that really pushes me forward and shakes things up. This time, it was definitely more of the “shaking things up.”

"Happiness fuels success, not the other way around."

My boss, someone who I deeply admire and is one of the most direct people I know, took a sip of his drink, and looked across the table at me with an amused smile on his face. He slowly started reading some of the comments:  Tyeler is sometimes too happy. He continued to read, I wish Tyeler would show us more of when she is upset or frustrated, because I feel I just see her happy all the time.

The feedback was so unexpected and different from any other review I’ve had in my life. My first reaction was to laugh, but then I remembered the “too happy” comment, so I just scowled at the ice water in front of me.

It took me some time to really get to the crux of this feedback, but this review would lead me down an incredible journey over the next few years as I explored more of what these comments meant and how they would make me a stronger, more connected leader.

Happiness has gained a lot of attention in the media over the last few years, but it’s one of the most studied human emotions throughout history. There are currently many incredible speakers and authors describing in detail the powerful effects of happiness and how important it is that we generate the energy we desire. Of course, I have my moments when I’m low in energy and not feeling like my usual cheerleader self, but I’m a positive and energetic person by nature. A few years ago, my company had Shawn Achor, a renowned author and speaker who studies happiness, present to our team. It was awesome! Achor spoke about the research behind the power of happiness and about the remarkable effects happiness will have on others. In his book “The Happiness Advantage,” Achor stresses that “Happiness fuels success, not the other way around.”

This reinforced the power of happiness, and to not discount the positivity I have, as I was really questioning this about myself. As I explored this concept further, I asked myself, why would my happiness and upbeat outlook be something others, at times, would view negatively, or make them feel not as connected with me? If happiness is fueling success, per Achor’s point, then can too much happiness and not sharing other emotions over a period of time decrease success or connection to others? These are the questions that drove me to dig deeper because I truly cared about how I could connect better with my team. I knew happiness was the key to driving connection and success, but something was missing.

“Vulnerability does not mean being weak or submissive.”

When I moved to Texas in 2014, a good friend introduced me to Dr. Brene Brown and had me watch her TED talk, “The Power of Vulnerability.” I realized that I was creating a safe, honest space for those I work with to be vulnerable, but I wasn’t opening up as much as I thought. I was connecting through high energy, and trying not to show any weakness. Through this discovery process it became apparent that what others were asking of me wasn’t that I quit being happy, but that I allow them to see beyond the “smiley faces” and “praises.” Dr. Brown says that “Vulnerability here does not mean being weak or submissive. To the contrary, it implies the courage to be yourself. It means replacing “professional distance” with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” In my case, I take this as balancing out my “happiness and positivity” with expressing more of my emotional fears, uncertainties and being more bold in my requests, not holding back because I would disrupt the “happiness” of the moment.

For even more clarity into expressing my vulnerabilities, I attended a 4 day High Performance Conference by speaker and author, Brendon Burchard. He talked at length about being present and engaged in the moment. Instead of just generating positive energy and being happy all the time, you have to let your vulnerable side out and have confidence in your own worthiness so you can share those doubts and fears in a way that makes an impact.

In the years leading up to that review I wasn’t considering how embracing these more vulnerable moments, and allowing myself to be open, would actually bring more powerful connection and therefore produce greater work.

As I take myself back to that moment at that high top table, I’m grateful for those comments. They shifted my path and pushed me to engage with my team in more meaningful ways. I’m able to connect more fully and take bolder risks by allowing my team to have more confidence in me. By showing my vulnerabilities and not hiding from my imperfections, my relationships can take on a new level of trust, openness, and connectivity.

Frank Kalman, a writer at Talent Economy says that 'Leaders who are able to show vulnerability won’t be chided as bad leaders but will be viewed as the kind that others should enthusiastically follow.”

As I head into my next annual review in a few weeks, I know the relationships with my team have only gotten stronger, and I’ll be smiling all the way to that high top table, eager to hear what I need to work on next. Bring it on.

Tyeler Viel

Tyeler is the Director of New School Openings for Fusion Academy. When she isn't traveling the country opening this unique brand of private schools, she can be found in Dallas with her husband and their Goldendoodle, Kato.

Level Up in 2018

By: David Ezell

As the clock neared the midnight hour of 2017, my wife and I sat with our family around a small bonfire near the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains. We were enjoying the crisp evening air with those closest to us, yet this year, something was a little different.

There were 10 of us all together, and this year, we all agreed on one simple message for 2018… Level Up.

Almost with a complete disregard for how close we actually were to that magical midnight hour,  we each took a piece of paper and wrote down what we were getting rid of from 2017. We then each broke off an evergreen branch from the dried up Christmas tree laying by the fire, wrapped the paper around the branch and tossed it in. The pine smell and the tiny sparkles from the tree branches catching fire made our ritual seem even more magical.

As we started to go around the group and say what we were getting rid of, the tears and support started flowing. Some of us were putting health problems in the rear view, and others were leaving work anxiety, stress, and fears firmly in 2017.

As a group, 2018 will be a BIG year for us. Some are embarking on new journeys career wise and others are actually embarking on new journeys to new cities to start new lives.

By the time everyone had watched their 2017 hindrance burn, one thing had become clear: If we wanted to cash in on our goals for 2018, we had to level up. We had to become new versions of ourselves and get out of our comfort zones in order to be the December 2018 version that we could so clearly see.

Over the next few days, we talked at length about what that looked like, how to do it, and how to support each other in our quests. Here are a few of our takeaways:

1. Add to your skillset

What worked for your success in 2017, won’t necessarily take you to the next level in 2018. You have to add to your repertoire. Is the 2018 version of you a better public speaker? A better husband? A better decision maker? If so, then you’ve got to work on those skills with laser-like focus. You’re not just going to wake up one day and be Tony Robbins. You’ve to go put in the time and effort so that the version of you at the end of 2018 is BETTER than the 2017 version.

2. Clear direction

Notice it doesn’t say “vague” direction. This needs to be a crystal clear visualization of 2018, so grab some metaphorical Windex and get to work! If you want to level up in your job in 2018, define what that is, and reverse engineer it. Does your voice need to be heard more in staff meetings? Do you need to listen to a podcast on your way to work to learn a second language? Clearly define what your 2018 version is, and work at it like it’s the only thing that matters. Set timeline completion dates. Get laser focused. The more clear you can make the end goal, the easier it will be to determine what aligns and what doesn’t. Stay focused.

3. Support system

One of the hundreds of things that became better when I married my wife, was the immersion into her family. They are some of the best people in the world, and I feel blessed to call them some of my best friends. They’ve been my champion from day 1, and hopefully, I’ve reciprocated. During that evening, as we all read aloud our goals and aspirations for the new year, something happened. My sister-in-law’s goal became my goal. My brother-in-law’s goal became my goal, and vice-versa. We meshed together. We became a team.

Support system probably should have been #1 on this list. When you know you’re not in it alone, and that others are ready and willing to help you succeed, there’s nothing you can’t do. Everything just gets easier.

From our group of relentless pursuers to yours, we hope 2018 brings you everything you desire… new skills, opportunities, adventures. Take the time to share your goals with those closest to you, and let’s make 2018 the best one so far.


David Ezell
David handles the branding and marketing for The Lanyap Group.
He and his wife are always either trying new restaurants in DFW or taking their goldendoodle Kato for walks on the Katy Trail.

Learning From Failure

By: Tyeler Viel

In the second grade, once a week, our teacher Mrs. Wagoner would walk over to my desk and tap her pencil lightly on top to get my attention. It meant it was time to go to a special class in a small room in another part of the school. I remember the walk toward the office, down the narrow concrete sidewalk that snaked alongside the classrooms with huge windows facing out. I could always see the students curiously peering out through the glass to see who was headed to “the office”. I’m sure they assumed I was in trouble and about to receive some sort of punishment. Instead, I knew I was being singled out for another reason. My twin sister and I loved to talk, but we struggled with word pronunciations. Our speech challenges came from growing up together and developing our own twin language to communicate. We had severe ear infections when we were babies that caused auditory processing problems, and it probably didn’t help that our Dad chose certain words to play up his Tennessee accent.

"Failure is hard."

We spent that year in speech therapy with Mr. Champagn, a white haired, soft spoken man who was always patient with us. However, I still remember the feelings of failure when we didn’t get the words right on the flash cards, or a teacher’s confused face when we failed again to say a word correctly. Failure is hard.

Failure Lab, a company based in Grand Rapids Michigan, focuses solely on eliminating the fear of failure and encouraging intelligent risk taking. I got to attend one of their dynamic workshops during our company’s annual conference, and it really hit home. A great question to ask yourself is: How do you define “failure?”

Sometimes my pronunciation of words create moments of laughter and gentle teasing with our friends and family, but other times I have been fearful of sounding “stupid” or “failing” in making a good impression or being influential. So many times I remember my heart racing, trying to avoid failing to say certain words right. This fear would hold me back from taking risks, reading out loud in large groups, or being bold in meetings. My fear of failing is actually a story I’m telling myself. The “simple truth is – no great success was ever achieved without failure.”

I’m in a new business development role where words are critical to connecting, driving results, meeting new people, and presenting in front of groups. My job requires me to give numerous presentations and conduct a lot of public outreach. Every day there is a chance I will “fail” to say something correctly.

My twin sister and I still struggle with our speech every day, but we also strive to remember that “failing” is just a stepping stone to something bigger and better. Long-term success comes from embracing our failures, not denying them. My twin sister is a TV reporter for CBS. A profession where words are the center of being able to communicate the news and breaking stories every day to millions of people.

My definition of “failure” continues to change. Failing is part of any journey in achieving what you’re passionate about. I know that by putting myself out there, and ignoring those stares from the classroom windows of my youth, I will succeed. There is no other option.

Both of us have to learn to embrace the fact that we will fail again and again, but how we choose to move forward is the key. Denis Waitley says that “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” 

Think of someone you admire. Fill in the Blank: I really admire _____________. Now how many times do you think they failed? I would bet that the main reason(s) why you admire them is because of their passion and their relentless pursuit of achieving their goals no matter how many times they failed.

You’re going to fail. Accept it. Embrace it. Learn from it. Don’t let the stares from those big windows keep you from doing what you were meant to do, and from being who you were meant to be.

Tyeler Viel

Tyeler is the Director of New School Openings for Fusion Academy. When she isn't traveling the country opening this unique brand of private schools, she can be found in Dallas with her husband and their Goldendoodle, Kato.

Don't Be Shy! Get In The Spotlight!

By: Jasmine Viel

I could feel my face getting hotter and hotter as I stood ready to present my project in front of my SDSU (San Diego State University) advertising class. My sweat glands were in overdrive. I didn't realize it at the time, but I had broken out into a nervous rash all across my chest. Somehow I stumbled through that presentation and I knew at that moment that if I was going to choose a career in front of the camera, with hundreds of thousands of people watching, I had to find a way to cope with my fear of public speaking. Note I said the word "cope" not "overcome.."

Roughly 40 million people in the US, aged 18 or older suffer from different forms of social anxiety.

Glossophobia or speech anxiety, is the fear of public speaking.  This condition has the potential to significantly affect your personal and professional relationships, as well as your overall quality of life. Research shows social anxiety disorder symptoms begin appearing around age 13 during our stressful teen years.

Now, more than a decade later reporting and anchoring the news on a daily basis, I know a few tricks.

1. Have confidence (Or at least fake it)
A study of students conducted conducted at Washington State University found that those who visualized themselves giving an effective speech reported less anxiety overall than those who didn't. Everyday, before I step in front of that camera, I see myself giving the best live shot of my life. The story could be big or small, doesn't matter. I tell myself it's going to be so good, that the news director will look up from his desk to the TV mounted on his opposite wall and think to himself, "Wow! I'm sure glad I hired that Jasmine Viel." I see myself nailing every word, hand gesture and smile from the beginning of my "performance" to the very end when I toss back to the anchors in the studio.

2. Practice
My first news director at a small TV station in the Arizona desert told me to go stand in front of a mirror and read something I wrote out loud over and over again until it sounded natural. I did that over and over again no matter how awkward it felt.

It's my little secret that I still get nervous every time I go on air, but I turn those nerves into excitement to be able to let my audience know what I have to say. In an experiment at Harvard University, test subjects were asked to say "I am excited" or "I am calm" before giving a short speech. The ones who said they were excited scored better overall in terms of the length, quality and performance of their speaking efforts. Or as one of my co-anchors so eloquently told me once "just f!&k!n' do it!" It's turned into my mantra to pump me up.

3. Breathe
When you're nervous, your heart rate accelerates and so does your breathing, but getting it under control can eliminate some of your anxiety. There have been times when interviews come in at the last minute, facts are changing and producers are yelling in my ear, but I have to be calm and composed when that camera light goes on. It does no good to be rattled. I don't want those nervous rashes making a comeback!

4. Less is more
Keep it simple. Don't keep talking when your speech should be over. Wrap it up and end your moment on a high note.

I think my advertising teacher at SDSU would be pretty proud.

Jasmine Viel
Jasmine is a reporter for CBS2/KCAL in Los Angeles. When she's not covering breaking news, she's usually hitting the trails with her husband Marc and their pitbull Hayley.

RelationshipWRECK: 3 Key Things NOT To Do When Building Relationships

By: Tyeler Viel

When was the first relationship you had? I mean that real relationship with someone that you felt super connected with? For me, it started when I was born. I'm an identical twin, so growing up with my twin sister, we had a very close bond that translated into easily connecting with other people. I think that we knew so early on how it felt to be close to someone that we often sought this out in others we met. When we were six years old, our parents had their friends Patti and Carl over to our house. After being introduced to Patti, my twin and I proceeded to take her by the hand, pull her down to our eye level and ask her to tell us her stories and her secrets.



This story has been told over the years in my family because it's funny, and a little creepy having two identical twins ask you these serious questions. However, it reminds me of how we can all challenge ourselves to get down to eye level, and build meaningful relationships.

Over the last 10 years, I've broadened my understanding of how to develop and maintain authentic relationships. I completed my Masters degree in Family Therapy, which provided the theoretical understanding of how to connect and understand systems and relationships. I then started working for a company where my role became all about building relationships. Over the years, I've come up with three simple things to keep in mind - essentially what NOT to do while forging genuine, lasting relationships.



1.) Making​ ​It All About ​YOU​

This is a common mistake that we all have made at least a few times when meeting other people. Just talk all about what you do, who you are and what makes you great. This is what business expert Jack Daly often calls, “show up and throw up.” When we meet someone new, we have a tendency to explain all about who we are and what we do. Think about that first date you went on, or the last networking function you attended. When you met someone new, who did the most talking?


We are often faced with this tension - this need - to talk about ourselves, so that we can shine and stand out in the other person’s eyes.

Anita Chlipala is a relationship expert whose business, Relationship Reality 312, is all about helping people discover happy and healthy relationships. Chlipala shares some simple things that people can do to create a stronger network and to build better relationships. She explains that when you're getting to know someone, you need to ask the right questions to learn about the other person’s interests, needs and goals, then ask how you can be of service to them. Talk with them about their long-term and short-term goals, then offer ways you can help. This is setting a strong foundation that you can build upon later.


"In the world as it is today, we are all challenged in creating lasting connections because of all the clutter that fills our lives, such as social media distracting us every minute. When meeting someone for the first time, you need to stick out from the pack and have something unique to offer."


Recently I was traveling to a new city for work, and had a business meeting with a prominent local attorney. Of course, I was nervous about making a good first impression and that this attorney saw me as a credible representative of our company. As I entered his office, he sat behind a large mahogany desk with stacks of papers piled neatly in rows. Reclining back in his leather chair while smoothing down his tie, he said in a very direct “lawyerly” way, “Okay, tell me about you.” In my head, I saw two paths I could go down with him. I could launch into a spiel all about myself, my credentials and highlighting the work I do, spewing facts all over the place. Or, I could steer the conversation toward understanding who HE is, asking the right questions targeted to understand what he likes about his work, where he sees challenges and how he views those challenges. I leaned forward, placing my arms on his desk, and steered the conversation to learn more about him. He was more than forthcoming and told me story after story about his relationships with his teenage sons and the work he does as a coach for the boys soccer team. By the time our meeting was finished, I was able to share with him specific networking groups in his community that he could get involved with as well as several professional connections. 

Marketing guru, Seth Godin, has a philosophy that always sticks with me.  In the world as it is today, we are all challenged in creating lasting connections because of all the clutter that fills our lives, such as social media distracting us every minute. When meeting someone for the first time, you need to stick out from the pack and have something unique to offer.

In order to do this, you need to ask questions and listen. Now, I'm not saying that one path is necessarily better than the other, but I will confidently say that if you find yourself asking more questions than talking, using active listening and providing valuable content to help the other person, you'll leave feeling more confident about creating meaningful lasting connections built on trust.


2.) Treat ​Others​ The Same Way You Wish To Be Treated

I​ should first start by reminding us of the Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This is all great when we're on the playground, but we need to shift our thinking when we talk about building new relationships.

The book, The​ ​Platinum​ ​Rule​ states, “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.” In other words, treat others the way they want to be treated, rather than the way you want to be treated. It’s not selfish. It means you actually have to find out what others want. This approach can make a huge impact on the way you build relationships with others.

“Countless studies have found that social relationships are the best guarantee of heightened well-being and lowered stress, both an antidote for depression and a prescription for high performance.”


Trust me. I've seen the difference this makes in my own life, both personally and professionally. For my meetings last week, I thought about each person I was to be meeting with and categorized them, depending on what I knew about them. One meeting was with a cheery, social butterfly type woman who is always open about her life and things happening in it. My second meeting was with an older gentleman, an author and professor, who contemplates each response before he answers. My last meeting was with a Founder/CEO of a treatment program who I knew had limited time to see me, as he directly told me prior to our meeting and was very to the point in his responses. My approach and communication with each one of these meetings was customized to that particular person’s behavioral style. When I met with the social butterfly, we chatted openly and I shared more of my personal feelings on topics. When I had coffee with the “professor” I made sure to give him space to answer and knew that my personal follow up after our meeting would be the most important step in building our relationship. When I met with the Founder/CEO, I kept my answers short, direct and to the point, positioning myself so he could stare directly at me, and making sure I didn't get too personal with my questions in this first meeting. There's so much involved in understanding someone’s behavioral style, that I highly recommend you read the book, The​ ​Platinum​ ​Rule​.



Most importantly, you should start with understanding what behavioral style you are, then you can adjust your style in the way to best connect with others.

3.) Meet​ Once & Forget About It

​You meet all these great people and start to establish some great connections. Awesome! What often happens is life gets in the way, and we slowly lose the connection we established because time passes. How are you getting in touch with those in
your network, in your life? Chlipala talks about how she has grown her Relationship Reality practice so successfully because she has taken the initiative to reach out to others in her industry and make an intentional effort to follow up after every first meeting. She says she puts the time into following up and this has not only benefited her business, but she has made some incredible friendships along the way. There are so many CRM platforms out there, like Salesforce or HubSpot that can help you manage your connections. Find the one that works for you and start building your network with intentionality and focus.

Shawn Achor, speaker and author who studies happiness, says, “Countless studies have found that social relationships are the best guarantee of heightened well-being and lowered stress, both an antidote for depression and a prescription for high performance.” Knowing the positive impact relationships have in our lives, both personal and professional, why wouldn’t we want to dedicate the time and focus on building relationships. Get out there and be worth connecting with.

Tyeler Viel

Tyeler is the Director of New School Openings for Fusion Academy. When she isn't traveling the country opening this unique brand of private schools, she can be found in Dallas with her husband and their Goldendoodle, Kato.

Lemonade Stand Websites

By: Jeff Montgomery

When I was a kid, I had dreams. Simple dreams, I might add. Climb the tallest tree in the neighborhood? Check. Sled down the biggest hill after a snowstorm? Check. (Scary as hell, though.) 360 slam-dunk on the basketball hoop in the neighbor’s pool? Check!

I also dreamed of starting my own lemonade stand. This one, however, presented me with challenges that weren’t quite as simple as the others.

When conquering the tree, the options are basic: climb limb, don’t look down, climb the next limb, don’t look down, and so on. Sledding down the biggest hill? Wear extra padded clothing, point the sled down hill, and let gravity do the rest. 360 dunk? Jump, spin, and make sure to do it over water.

With opening a lemonade stand, I wanted to do it right. I wanted to acquire customers, retain them, and use my branding to grow the business. Sure, you could do it with a small table, chair, lemonade, cup, and a sign. If you wanted real results, though, you had to start making decisions that would impact your customers, especially first timers. The same thing can be said for how you approach building your website. Let’s start with the comparisons.



“All-In-One” Website Templates - aka “Lemonade Stand In-A-Box”

Even though the idea just came to my mind with no prior knowledge of one, I had to google “Lemonade Stand In-A-Box” - and sure enough, it exists! Here’s the perfect example. This stand comes pre-fabricated with instructions on how to put the base together. Once finished, it’s all up to you to add the design within the template’s capabilities.

It’s the same concept for “All-In-One” websites. You either purchase a theme or sign up for monthly fees (from sites like Wix, Weebly, 1&1, etc...), and they typically come with a set of instructions on how to get your basic website up and going. After that, it’s all up to you for branding and design - as long as you “stay in the lines” with the functionality offered. Venturing beyond those limitations is typically not allowed.

Benefits of the “All-In-One” include:

  • Start up costs are inexpensive, and unless you hire a web designer, theme building and content placement are on your own time/dime. Seriously, who wants to spend time building a lemonade stand in the summer heat?
  • As long as you have the time and patience, you can quickly look professional. Pretty pictures, simple copy, plenty of space - in a sense, your stand would be FDA approved!
  • Most platforms already offer built in “E-Commerce” - you just add the details. Quickly offer the addition of simple syrup without having to make it by hand!
  • No need to set up your server, everything is pre-configured. Your stand comes pre-nailed, pre-glued, and pre-quality controlled by inspector #24.
  • Maintenance-free - your stand is warrantied and maintained by the manufacturer at all times.

Disadvantages of the “All-In-One” include:

  • You’re locked in to their offered functionality (including E-Commerce). This is a deal breaker for most companies. Want to install an ice machine? Offer lemonade subscriptions for only 1 month? More than likely, you can’t.
  • There is a greater chance you will look like other sites before and after you.
  • No access to the server - meaning running even simple cron jobs (ie. connect to a shipper) aren’t possible.
  • Again, unless you hire a web designer, you have to spend the time creating your design. Even if you hire a designer, they'll have to spend initial time just to learn the builder interface - even if it’s simple. At least the stand’s instructions aren’t in brail!
  • Companies always have requests that require designers to think/design/code outside the box - and it may not be possible with the template.You can quickly get your “Lemonade Stand” up and going if you’re willing to sacrifice complexity, uniqueness, and not mind potentially mimicking others in your neighborhood. You can have a professional clean look - but at what cost to your future growth? How will you ensure that you stand out from the crowd?  



“Custom-Built” Website - aka “Not-Your-Father’s” Lemonade Stand

You have high expectations for your stand. Professionally blended concoctions of strawberry, raspberry, and “sparkling ginger”. Special umbrellas to protect your customers from the sun. Even shaved ice! Anything you envision can become a reality because your stand is built with your specific needs - and future - in mind.

Turning this dream into reality - building a custom website from scratch - might sound expensive and/or exhausting. So many options, where to start?! Well, the process simply starts with hiring a qualified and knowledgeable web designer who understands the entire process. They can help you architect the framework, design your custom theme, and integrate the two seamlessly with your content - all while ensuring your site will grow fluidly with future expansions.

Benefits of the “Custom-Built” include:

  • You get the exact theme you want. Custom countertops? Some sparkle in the paint? Show off your stand’s style!
  • You get the exact functionality that you want. Want to make your stand mobile with sand tires for the beach? Done - and increase your customer base at the same time!
  • Need to API with a 3rd party? Let’s make that stand integrate with lemon farmers!
  • Have a specific gateway you’d like to use to process e-commerce transactions? Be confident even the local credit union will accept your $2 transactions. (Hey, lemonade is expensive these days!)
  • Your entire office can work the site with a custom-built interface and personal in-depth training. Everyone can run the stand, and you don’t even have to know the lemon-to-water-to-sugar ratio!
  • Want your website to grow with you in the future? This stand will accommodate even a custom juicer to get the most out of those mangoes.
  • Price? It actually might be cheaper than you think - especially in the long run. Designers won’t have to “learn someone else’s interface” and instead can quickly build one with your framework in mind.

Disadvantages of the “Custom-Built” include:

  • Price - especially if you want your stand to have extreme functionality, like having your stand to predict orders.
  • Time. Sometimes it can take up to 5 months to build everything you need. Making your own shaved ice machine (see - now we’re getting fancy!) will take awhile.
  • Maintenance required. You might have to (we encourage you to) do some light up-keep on your stand. However, if built correctly, this should take you mere seconds a few times a month. Besides, you don’t want anyone stealing the lemons!
  • E-Commerce installations/additions can be time consuming. Patience is key here - make sure customers are seeing your exact vision.———That summer sun is beating down on you, and cars are already flying by. (Slow down, people! Children play here!) Make sure you have a game plan before you grab the hammer and nails. Are you looking for a quick solution with the “All-In-One” route? Are you down with getting your hands dirty on a “Custom-Build”? Whichever way you decide, the key is to lay out the game plan on building your stand so you aren’t frustrated along the way.

    A qualified web designer will be able to guide you step by step through the IA (Information Architecture) document, designing the perfect theme, integrating the content, and finally “flipping the switch”. Simple dream? Your perfect website may be a bit more complicated than you think.


Jeff Montgomery

Jeff is the website guru of The Lanyap Group. If he's not at a ballgame, you can usually find him on an adventure with his wife and his 2-year old daughter.

Your Hidden Superpower

By: Tyeler Viel

It was Christmas morning 1997. My sisters and I were down to the last few Christmas gifts and picked up the one from our grandparents. I remember this moment clearly, because their gift that year made such an impact on our lives over the years to come. We opened their gift, throwing the bright red colored wrapping paper aside to reveal a beautiful shiny black Sony video camera.

I can still remember how light it was to hold, how easily your hand fit perfectly in the side strap and how the lens cushioned your eye perfectly as you peered through. This camera became the creative catalyst which put our stories into action. In the years to come, we used this camera in school projects, filmed our family trips, and captured our friends on camera telling their stories. It allowed us to express ourselves in ways we never were able to do before. It was magical how it allowed us to communicate and share our lives with others. Those memories got me thinking about other ways you might communicate your brand, your product, or service to others.

"The best brands are built on great stories."

Expressing ourselves through stories goes back to the cavemen days, 20,000 years ago, when they used the walls of the caves to visually tell their stories and history. Research shows that our neurons, the mechanism in our brains that help us transmit information, fire differently when we hear stories versus just hearing facts. Think about how your attention increases when you hear someone say, “I have a story to share…”. Think about when you meet someone new and they start to tell you their personal story. It may be about when they first heard about their product or it might be sharing about a specific moment in time when they had a life changing experience. I know I sure perk up and lean in to hear more. Keith Quesenberry, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University discovered that people are actually attracted to stories, and that our human brains are programmed to respond to emotional stories because we are social creatures. That's how we relate to others.

So, when you think about how important stories are to our social interactions, and our engagement with others, how could any business or organization NOT be placing value on making sure stories are being told about their brand? Ian Rowden said “the best brands are built on great stories.” Think about some of your favorite brands and what you know about them. Just the other day, I was on an airplane when a women commented on the earrings I was wearing. I immediately launched into the story behind my earrings. I told her about the Texas designer Kendra Scott, who started her jewelry business in her spare bedroom, struggling through many pitfalls, to now owning a multimillion dollar company with retail stores across the country. I wouldn’t be surprised if that woman didn’t go straight home and order a pair of Kendra Scott earrings!



I recently heard a fascinating story from speaker and consultant Kindra Hall. She described how two men, Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn, put together a literary and anthropological experiment that demonstrated the powerful effect a story can have. They purchased 100 random items, such as a small stapler and a pool ball, for around $1 each and had a group of writers compose a story around each item. They then posted these inexpensive items on EBay, with their respective stories attached. They sold all the items totaling around $8,000, increasing the value of each item by over 20x!! Now, that’s the power of stories!

But what makes a good story? Think about the stories you’ve heard, the movies you watch and books you read. They all follow a similar structure, a beginning, middle and end. Growing up, my sisters and I loved putting on plays for our parents. When we were about seven years old, my sisters and I spent hours practicing and rehearsing what we considered one of our best masterpieces. I can still recall the amount of time we put into our costumes and props. We pulled our parents and their friends together, had them all sit down on the couch, dimmed the lights and started our performance of the year, or so we thought. The play went on for over an hour. What we didn’t know at the time was the importance of an ending. Toward the end of the hour, my mom pulled us aside and kindly let us know that, while they loved watching our plays, they would be even better if we worked in a great ending! That was such an enlightening moment for us and changed the way we viewed telling our stories.

“the most powerful marketing you’ll ever have is when you learn to tell your story right.”

So, think about how you are telling your stories now. Are you telling them in a way that captures the audience’s attention throughout, reaches a climax, a critical point and comes to a resolution? The structure of our stories are key in how successful they are. In 1863 a German playwright, Gustav Freytag, developed a 5 act dramatic structure which became known as the Freytag pyramid. Under Freytag's pyramid, the plot of a story consists of five parts: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action dénouement/resolution/revelation. This structure became the basis for future plays and novels, and we see this same structure in many of our stories today. You can use this story structure in developing your own brand stories, ensuring that your story makes an impact on the listener, while avoiding my childhood mistake of forgetting to write an ending!

You want your stories to evoke feelings, not only describing why your service/product is remarkable, but also highlighting the reasons why your clients love your brand. However, don’t confuse a testimonial with a story. Think about Freytag’s structure and about your favorite stories that you know. You can use that positive testimonial that hits on all the reasons your service/product is so great, but simply weave it into the great story you are telling. If you don’t have stories right now, just view this article as your special Christmas gift - let it be your “lens” or catalyst to start to write and share your stories with others - just like that Sony video camera was ours so many years ago. Brendon Burchard says it best that “the most powerful marketing you’ll ever have is when you learn to tell your story right.”

My career is helping to open a brand of luxury private schools across the country. Over the last seven years we've grown from one private school to over 40 schools across the country. I rely on our stories everywhere I go to help communicate who we are. I have a whole collection of stories I share with others, depending on who I'm speaking with and what feature I want to promote. One story is how our first school was started over 25 years ago.I have stories about our students and their journeys in finding our school, and how, for some, our school has literally saved them. As a company, we pour a lot of time into developing and messaging our stories and making sure we share them with every new hire we bring on. We've recorded our Founder’s story and we make sure that her story is shared by everyone in organization.

Getting that Sony video camera for Christmas gave us the lens to create stories, unlocking the magic that was our imagination and giving us years of practice in how to capture our audience’s attention. It’s up to you to tell your clients the stories that make your brand or business come alive for them. Storytelling can be an exciting journey and an awesome way to communicate your brand to others. It’s time for you to unlock your hidden superpower and become the storyteller you were meant to be!

Tyeler Viel

Tyeler is the Director of New School Openings for Fusion Academy. When she isn't traveling the country opening this unique brand of private schools, she can be found in Dallas with her husband and their Goldendoodle, Kato.