The Big Red Bus at ByDesign

On Friday, July 7th, we were honored to partner with our friend Vanessa Hunter in a blood drive to honor her husband, Brad Hunter. Brad is a police officer in California who has served for 29 years. Several weeks ago he was intentionally hit by a car. Vanessa has worked for two of our clients and over the years we have gotten to know her well. She was devastated by the evil of this act, but decided that she wanted to make something good happen. She and many of her friends worked hard to create a blood drive in California. As word got out, the drive became an international event that we were able to play a little part in.

In our business, we have the opportunity to meet with dream-makers everyday. We are able to partner with them and help their dreams come true. The challenge comes in oversight. If we are not paying attention, we can miss out on the opportunities right in front of us. Take the time to listen today. Whatever field you are in, you have opportunities to make a difference. What would happen if each of us looked for the opportunities to change lives? Perhaps, the person who did this terrible thing to Brad would have been different. Perhaps his life would have been changed.

Brad Hunter visits Blood Drive (News story from California)


Should you do it?

Should you do it?

One of the recurring questions I get about our business is, “How do you work together?” It seems most people at one time or another have worked with a couple that has started a business. Often, I hear horror stories of spouses shouting at one another while the employees search for another job before the divorce papers are handed out.

My husband and I have been in business for 16 years so I thought at this point, I could offer some good tips on how to have a healthy marriage and business.  A new business is like a very demanding child that requires constant care. You must feed it and tend to its every need. The business child tends to have severe behavior problems and you never know when it is going to spit up on you. As time goes on, you both develop and grow. The pride you feel when you step back and look at what you built can be amazing.

Starting a business with your spouse can be a great benefit. You know you always have someone who has your back (in business that is sometimes hard to find). If you use the steps below, you might have a chance at creating something great.

How committed are you?

When you are first deciding to open a business, consider all of the negative consequences it will have on your marriage. How will you balance your family? One (or both of you) will have to work a lot to get things going, who will carry the heavy load of the business vs the heavy load of the family? Are you both fully committed? A business won’t be successful without great sacrifice. What does that mean to you? The more questions you can iron out in the beginning, the easier the decisions will be when you get to them.

Decide who has the final say

Some people live an altered reality believing that they can always agree on everything with their partner. There are times that you won’t agree. One of you has to give. Things are a lot easier if you understand who the controlling partner of the business is. That being said, the controlling partner should always consider their spouse’s opinion and never take control for granted.

Have the same vision

What does success look like to each of you? What is failure? When do you call it quits? Make sure you are on the same page for how the business will grow.

Clear well-suited roles

In the beginning of the company, both partners typically do what it takes to make it happen. Natural roles begin to form. One person is better at sales, while another is good at administration. Know your strengths and weaknesses and those of your partner. Talk about what roles you think you would be best suited.

Leave the business at work

Ok, I admit this one is the hardest for us. We are a 24 hour business, so there is always something going on.  Try to the best of your ability, to separate work from home. I am chuckling to myself as I write because while I was in early labor with one of my children, my husband had a business meeting in the lobby of the hospital. The good news is, he had cleared it with me (it was early labor) and it was an important meeting – see what I mean about being on the same page? If we were not on the same page- I would probably still be seething in anger rather than chuckling.

The good news is that it is possible to have a healthy business and marriage. It is not easy, but life is not easy. It is a journey to be walked. Personally, I could not imagine anyone better to walk it with than my spouse!

Serena Ayscue and her husband Jeff created ByDesign Technologies. A software company that services the direct sales industry. They are currently in their 16th year of business and support companies around the globe. You can learn more at

Betty Feng and her dog Bing once he retired

Betty Feng and her dog Bing once he retired

In my last post, I talk about dogs that parachuted into war. Bing was a dog that was given to the army by 6 year old Betty Fetch and her family. They could no longer afford to keep him because of food rationing. He was trained with other dogs and on one of his early missions over Normandy on June 6th, 1944 heavy anti-aircraft rained on the plane. Bing became was so afraid of jumping out of the plane on that they pushed him out with an encouraging boot.

Upon parachuting out of the plane, he landed in a tree, had to be cut down and was later wounded in action. He recovered and went on to have many missions and save many people.
He saved countless Allied lives. During a second jump into Germany, Bing was sent on a dangerous mission to look in a house. As he approached the house, he realized that there were enemy troops and sounded the alarm. His human teammates surrounded the house, took the Nazis prisoner and Bing became a hero. He received the highest military honor an animal can win in the UK for his bravery. After his death in 1955, he was buried in a special cemetery in London. If you visit Duxford, you can see a life-size statue of Bing, complete with a parachute.

How does this dog’s story relate to us today?

We each have unlimited potential. Some of us need a good kick in the butt to get us going, but once we choose to believe in ourselves we can do great things! We are trained to do great things, but when the time comes, we cower in the corner. We forget how great we are. I am thankful to the people in my life that push me to be more. The world is waiting on your greatness. Bing was just a dog that someone had to surrender because they could not feed him. No matter what your past story was, your future can be great. Live it! Be brave! If you are a leader, encourage those around you to live to their potential. If you are growing into a leader, listen to what those around you are saying. Understand that they are pushing you for a greater purpose!!

There is a great page with photos of these dogs here: parachuting dog photos

Did you know that during WWII, dogs jumped from airplanes with parachutes?? Doesn’t that sound crazy? I know a few of my friends (and family) that love the idea of jumping from a plane but for the majority of us the thought strikes fear in our hearts! Dogs instinctively like to be on the ground as well.

As June 5, 1944 transitioned into June 6, the 13th Battalion flew into Normandy. There were three planes, each loaded with 20 paratroopers and one parachuting dog. The planes bumped and creaked.  Heavy artillery exploded around the aircraft, but despite the explosions, Monty and Ranee (two of the dogs) remembered their training and behaved like veterans. However, the third dog, Bing lost his nerve and hid in the back of the plane, too afraid to move. Bing actually had to be thrown out of the plane! On the way down, his parachute got stuck in a tree, where he remained for two hours. He was wounded by German gun fire before troops were able to cut him down.

In life, there those who take the jump and those who don’t. What separates those two groups? I think it has to do with fear and how you handle fear.

Fear of the Unknown

You might not be happy where you are, but not being able to predict what is going to happen is super scary.

Fear of Failure

No one wants to fail, especially in front of others

Fear of Success

This one sounds crazy to me, but I know I have experienced it. What happens if this really blows up big? How will it change my life?

So how do you become more that Monty and Ranee (the dogs that jumped) rather than Bing. The one who got thrown out of the plane?

Here is some vintage video of some dogs parachuting solo!


Face your fears!

Sounds so easy right?!? There are many books that have been written on the topic of this and I won’t be able to address it all in a simple post, but here is my advice in three steps.

Identify what you are afraid of.

Logically mitigate any risks

Determine which fears are rational and which are not.

Make a move!

Decide if it is fear holding you back or if there are some good logical reasons. If it is only fear, push through it. You are an overcomer! The more you overcome fear, the better you are able to manage it.

(BTW Despite his injuries and the incident in the plane, Bing eventually distinguished himself in the field. I will talk about that in my next post!!)


Miss you!

Miss you! The empty spot at the table.

As we get ready to sit around the table the mood should be jolly. This is Christmas right?!? But this year, it is different. There is an empty seat. Several days ago, my beloved Grandfather passed on. It feels wrong to celebrate during a time of mourning. How is it even possible? Every place we walk, everywhere we look, there are memories; once reassuring, now haunting. No more hugs, no more laughs, no more sarcastic jokes or grumpy complaints. No more of the things we hated or the things we loved. No more.

It is my job to set the table for the family. Every year, we sit in the same seats in my grandfather’s home. Should I set a plate in his spot, even though I know no one will be eating there? Should I leave it empty? What should I do with the empty spot? I work my way around the table, carefully placing each setting. I contemplate how I should have prepared better. I should have planned for this moment. What goes in his spot? Perhaps something to honor him but I have no idea what would that be? A bucket of fried chicken that he always made sure we had at each celebration? A picture of him laughing? Some fresh oranges from his favorite tree in the grove? I move on from my thoughts and busy myself with different preparation chores.  Somehow, we are all moving forward. Who will say the prayer for the meal now? I suppose it will be my Dad but I have not asked. My grandmother seems amazingly strong…almost relieved that the suffering is over. She and my Mom busy themselves in the kitchen. It is a good distraction, but at some point soon we will be forced to sit at the table and recognize the empty spot.

More family arrives, we hug. Joy mixed with sorrow. Grief mixed with acceptance. Understanding that we are all in this together. We all have memories we carry with us and we are seeking to reconcile our need with normalcy with an understanding that our beloved one had suffered so much and was ready to move on. We each seek to deal with our own personal heartbreak.

The time arrives. We approach the table and sit. The empty spot remains. We look at one another, at the empty seat and close our eyes. We listen to a new person lead us in prayer. We are thankful for this time and for each other. We are grieved and know that this holiday is the first of many. Things will never be the same, but that is life right? We are all here for only a few moments.

We best honor our loved ones by continuing on. It is perfectly acceptable to grieve. The loss never leaves us, but we remember them by doing the things they loved. For my grandfather, we make sure there is always a bucket of fried chicken on the table. (or if the chicken placed is closed, we mention it) As time goes on, we begin to be able to laugh a little more. We begin to celebrate the memories instead of mourning them so much. There will be many empty spots at the table over the years. It is hard to face the empty spot, but we must.

As the holidays draw near, know that if you are facing an empty spot for the first time this year, my heart is with you. May you find the strength to enjoy the friends and family around you. Face life. Own it. I assure you, no one that loved you, wants you to stop living. It is hard…very, very hard. The closer you are with someone the harder it is to face the holiday.  Don’t stop living. You are important to others.

May your holiday season be full of love for those here and love for those who have passed away. May you make many new memories to accompany the old ones.




jeffdOne day your child is fine and the next day they are not. This is typically how life starts for a family with a child with a chronic illness; the Doctor visits, the constant tests, the needles until there is a diagnosis. Then comes the living. The daily ins and outs. The dealing with this thing that you did not invite into the life of your child or quite frankly yours. A chronic illness is one that does not go away. It is a long-lasting illness that can be controlled but many times not cured. If you know someone who has a child with a chronic illness, the thoughts below may help you as you seek to know how to help them.

Sending a text, a card or a phone call is HUGE! Being a caregiver is tough. We try to make life as normal as possible, knowing that there is no such thing. Reaching out occasionally can change the course of our day for the better. We might not be able to stay on the phone for long or respond immediately but your effort is appreciated.

If you ask us how things are going, respond appropriately when we tell you. Life is not a picnic in our house. TRUST US, we want things to get better. When we tell you the truth, it is great to hear that you are thinking of us and care. Please don’t tell us your stories about so and so. Just tell us you care.

Don’t offer advice unless you are asked. As parents, we have scoured the internet and talked to every person possible to try to help our child. We don’t need you to fix the problem, we have experts for that…we need you to listen and let us talk. (One exception:if you have walked in our shoes, then we desperately want to hear from you.)

If you want to help, offer something specific. If you tell us to “let you know if we need anything,” we are probably not going to call you. If you tell us you are going to go to the store and ask if there anything you could pick up for us, we might take you up on it. Be specific: offers to watch our sick children so we can spend time with our other children are greatly appreciated. Picking up the kids from school or running an errand that is not out of your way is a big help in time of need.

Don’t look at us with pity.  We don’t ask for your pity. We want your joy. It means a lot to be around happy people. Help us laugh, help our children laugh. It makes life a lot easier.

We are on a roller coaster that never seems to stop. Some days are good, some days are bad. Some moments are good and the next they are bad. Our child may be running around playing one day and horribly sick the next. Don’t assume we are “all better” because things appeared that way when you saw us last.

Understand what we can and cannot do. It is very frustrating to constantly turn down invitations to things we can’t do. If the child has a bleeding disorder, playing tag is not a good option. Pay attention!!

Understand that sometimes, we can’t deal with your problems. Sometimes, it is all we can do to mentally keep going. We are not trying to be a bad selfish friend, we just cannot handle any more. Getting mad or thinking we are selfish doesn’t help.

Don’t give up on us. Don’t stop inviting us to dinner or to do fun things because we say no. (This goes into the paying attention category…find out if we can’t because we don’t feel good today or we can’t because we really can’t….ever). We want to hang out with you…really. Sometimes we just are not up to it. Help us know that it is ok to say no, you are not going to be offended, you just miss us too!

Recognize that many times a chronic illness is not outwardly visible. Blood disorders, asthma, diabetes, gastroparesis, arthritis…the list is very long. Our children might look fine and you might not understand why we are so stressed. It took a lot of work to help our child look OK today…have compassion on them and us.

Having a sick child can put an incredible strain on the family. It is fine to ask how we are doing as individuals or as a family. It is even better to offer up a date night or some alone time. (I think I already mentioned that!! *grin*) Being able to walk away and be normal for a few hours offers healing.

If our child does not know you well, we will be very uncomfortable leaving them with you We know we need time away, but our children are typically uncomfortable being alone with people they don’t know. They have spent a lot of time in Doctor’s offices and hospitals. Strangers typically cause pain and/or discomfort. Also, as Moms we are afraid to leave our children. If you combine the child’s anxiety and our fears together, many times it is not worth it. (even though the offer was kind)

Understand that we have rearranged our family for this. Many times a parent has given up a job or changed their way of life. As adults, we are struggling to find our place in this crazy new world. Who are we now? Where do we fit?  Help us feel valuable. Remind us that we are important not for what we do or did, but for who we are.

Sometimes it is a physical challenge, sometimes it is a mental challenge and a lot of the time it is both. We are tired…. Always.

Living for today really means living for today…this moment. When you don’t know what your next minute holds, you try to appreciate the one you’re in…even if it is bad. We try to be thankful for each moment. Life is fragile and we are faced with that fact often.

Ultimately, living with a child with chronic illness is not a road we would have chosen. We love our child and would do anything to help them feel better. Watching a child suffer is the most heart-wrenching pain a parent can bear. Some of us manage caregiving better than others, but we all have times where we are a wreck. We wonder how we are going to make it another minute, much less another day. Then, as if on cue, we hear that child’s sweet voice and think of their beautiful face and remember that we are here for them and that they need us to be strong. We pick ourselves up, wipe away our tears and smile as we walk into our next moment. Will you walk with us?

comfortzoneHave you ever been uncomfortable?  Of course you have, we all have.  There are times when people do things or say things that you don’t necessarily agree with that you might squirm in your chair a bit.  Have you been faced with something new?  Were you uncomfortable doing it?

Most things that are new to us are uncomfortable.  To grow as individuals, we must do new things.  How do we accept that things are going to be uncomfortable?  How do we become comfortable with the uncomfortable?

There is a magic answer. (Sorry!)   We must be ok with challenge and adversity.  We must know that we are going to be uncomfortable and we must expect it and not be afraid.  We must challenge ourselves to live in the uncomfortable.

I Don’t Want to Look Stupid

When I am faced with people that know more than me, (a LOT in my world), I listen intently.  Sometimes, I have no idea what they are saying.  When that happens, I look around and assess the room.  Does everyone else in the room look like they understand; are they nodding and taking notes?  If they look like they understand, then I will ask my questions privately to make sure I am on board.  If others in the room look confused or stone faced, I will ask a clarification question. I listen intently and also watch others to see if they understand.   Ultimately, I cannot be satisfied with not-knowing. It is my job to do my best, and if I don’t understand what is going on, I cannot do that.   While no one person can know it all, I must understand what is going on around me so that I can clearly explain it to someone else.

If you find yourself coming out of meetings and you cannot explain what occurred, make yourself uncomfortable.  You must decide if is it worth the risk of “potentially” looking stupid to learn something new.  Personally, I would rather look stupid because I asked a question than be stupid because I went along with something I did not understand.

Believe in Yourself

Believe in your value.  Almost everyone I know (myself included) underestimates the value we add.  When you are in a company, the more you know the more valuable you become.  Why aren’t we all striving to know all we can?  We underestimate ourselves and don’t recognize the potential we have.  We choose to be comfortable.

Challenge Yourself

The next time you are listening to something and it does not sound right, ask a question.  Push yourself to be uncomfortable.  Over time, as you see yourself grow and mature, you will be glad you made the choice.

BestHave you ever experienced the same thing each day and then one day something happens and you see everything differently?  Perhaps you go to work every day and then one day you read a book or talk to a friend or listen to a speaker and everything changes?

I love that feeling!!!  It feels like it was bydesign.  Your eyes had been closed and now they are open.  You can see things in a new light.  You function on a different level.  It creates a need for new changes; a desire for greatness.  Below are three tips to experience that eye opening experience more often.

Be Aware

Be aware of those around you.  Everyone experiences the world differently.  Watch people. Look for non-verbal cues.  These can come in the form of facial expressions, hand movements or even shifting of the body weight when speaking of certain items.  There are plenty of resources on non-verbal cues.  Use it to your advantage!

Listen to Everyone

Listen to not only what people say, but more importantly what they don’t.  I have noticed that most people do not share their deepest thoughts without coercing. I think this is bydesign.  We need to find the magic.  The magic is in the deep thoughts.  Now don’t get me wrong…. I am not a big thinker.  I am an action orientated girl, but when people speak, I know there is always more than what they are saying verbally.  The question is; are you hearing it? Are you listening well enough to really hear what they are saying?

Look for Opportunities

Be open to learn more.  Put yourself in new and challenging environments.  They may be uncomfortable, but learning something new can make you better in all areas of your life.  If I just take one step out of my comfort circle each week, by the end of the month my circle of comfort has expanded greatly.  While I may desire to run back to the center, the things I have learned along the way enhance my ability to help, learn and serve others.  It makes me a well-rounded person and gives me confidence that even though things may be uncomfortable, I can do them.

Becoming a better person rarely happens by accident.  It requires commitment, time and some personal stretching.  Following the tips above is a great start to seeing ways to improve and learn more.  You will become better, bydesign!


Stop spinning!

Some of you might think I made a mistake in my title, but I didn’t.  I wanted to focus on the word TOP.  As a child, (or an adult) have you played with a top?  It spins and spins but does not really go anywhere.  Sometimes our lives can become like a top.  We spin and spin and look really busy, but in reality, we are not going anywhere.  So what do we need to do?  STOP!!!

It seems that especially this time of year, we are very busy!  We need to pick out the perfect presents and prepare the perfect meal.  We need to lose weight and look great for the holiday party.  We have to make cookies for the exchange and we must attend everything we are invited too.  Don’t forget the added pressure from work, getting things buttoned up for the end of the year.

There is one way to stop spinning. Just stop.  You may have some dizzy after effects but I promise you, it is worth it.  Look at what you need to do.  Prioritize it. You may need to cut some items.  No one knows everything that is going on in your life.  You don’t have to say yes to everything.  Saying yes to everything is a sure way to end up stressed out.  When you are stressed out, you are not as effective (or as kind) as you can be.

There is hope.  You are in control.  Just believe it.

When Companies Go Out of Business No One Wins.

I was driving home and because of bad traffic on the interstate I took another route that I had not been on for a while.  As I drove along, I noticed a business that had been around for years had closed.  Then I saw another and another.  All closed.  As I kept driving down this path of road I passed at least 6 businesses that were open a year ago, that are now closed.  The gates are locked.  The day before Thanksgiving, this is a good reminder and a painful burden.

As  business owners, we fully understand our responsibility to our employees and to our clients.  I think employers get a bad rap.  Perhaps once a corporation is a mega sized company, people become just numbers, but I have met many people that lead these big companies that hurt when they have to lay off people.  I think it is easy to believe that “employers” are after the all powerful dollar and don’t even think of the trouble they will cause in an individual’s life but I know that in our company that is not true.

We are blessed to have jobs.  So many people don’t.  Seeing all those buildings vacant hurt my heart not only for the employees who lost their jobs, but for the employers who have lost everything.  Small business is the heart of America.

As this Thanksgiving rolls around, I am thankful for my employees and my MLM, party plan and Direct Sales clients.  I am thankful we have made it through another tough year in this economy.  I am thankful that even when things get tough, we pull together as a team and create “wins” for our clients.

I am Thankful.  What are you thankful for?