Sern Blog

Growing Tomorrow's Employers

Out of the Ball Park

My work involves coordinating and implementing mental health trainings and public speaking engagements.  Recently, I coordinated the Transformation Training for Project NOW ( in Rock Island, Illinois.  A considerable amount of work goes into the successful planning and execution of this kind training.  Listed below is an abbreviated version of ten steps I took to make it happen.

1.       Contact with Project NOW

2.       Submitting a proposal

3.       Preparing the agenda, materials, handouts and evaluations

4.       Identifying co-trainers

5.       Conference planning calls with co-trainers

6.       Securing local representatives for a panel discussion

7.       Communicating with all parties as we progressed

8.       Submitting final bill to Project NOW

9.       Disbursing payment to co-presenters

10.   Sending thank-you notes to volunteer panel members

For me personally, I needed to prioritize taking care of my own mental health and staying well so I would be able to effectively lead this training team.  I prepared to the best of my ability and relied on the support of my co-trainers to make the best possible effort.  But what was significant for me personally is the conversation I was having with God the week of the training.

The weeks prior were perhaps the most difficult weeks I have had in years with respect to my mental health.  I was doing everything within my power to take care of myself and prepare for this training, but I did not have the energy and focus that I needed.  So I started asking God for strength to bless others.  I also solicited prayers from people who care about me.  The day of the training our team literally “knocked it out of the ballpark.”  There was a tremendous amount of audience participation, plus there is the possibility of providing the Transformation Training at a different site in the future.  I honestly do not believe we would have been successful without those conversations with God and I am grateful to SERN for encouraging me to share how my personal spirituality impacts the way I do business.

AJ French, SERN Board of Directors

Success in Motion

Hello!  My name is AJ French.  I am in the process of transitioning from depending on disability income to independent living with earned income by starting my own business.  I chose to establish my own enterprise for a number of reasons.  I am at my best when I have flexible hours and can set my own schedule.  I thrive when taking on new projects that have clearly defined expectations with a specific beginning and end.  For me, entrepreneurship is an ideal employment option.

To share with you a little about myself and what I do, I am a woman who lives with a mental health condition.  While this does not define the core of who I am as an individual, having a psychiatric disability has altered the course of my life.  I went from experiencing homelessness, to living in public housing to owning my home.  I went from experiencing unemployment, to volunteering, to working in the mental health field.  I have been employed as a Recovery Specialist and a Community Organizer prior to making the decision to launch out on my own and right now, I am experiencing success in motion.  I invite you to join me as I share my hopes, my dreams, my fears, my frustrations and ultimately my self-employment journey.  Thank you for reading my first blog.

AJ French, SERN Board of Directors

Why SERN? Why Now? Why Not?

Welcome to the SERN blog – a workbench where ideas shared by our contributors and readers can be used as tools by every entrepreneur in the making to shape, craft and sustain the career of their choice.

It is our hope this blog will serve as a vehicle to dispatch and share information, opinions, and references about a variety of topics. We’ll discuss trends in the field of self-employment as they pertain to persons with disabilities and critique disability rights, responsibilities, reciprocities, options, challenges, unique perspectives, trends, fits and starts as they pertain to getting a business off the ground and keeping it growing.

We’ll share information about business technology, financial, political, environmental, and other societal trends, innovations, aspirations and juxtapositions, as they pertain to self-employment as a viable, sensible, practical, defendable, and achievable option. We’ll identify, articulate and illuminate public and private programs, services, support systems, training entities, policies, contractual obligations, and strategic initiatives that affect the personal and professional freedom stature input, impact and influence that we can have on a society groping for change.

Not all opinions expressed here will sit well with all our readers. This wouldn’t be a good blog if it did. After all, this is a blog – a canvas for ideas; a platform for the sharing of experience. I suspect that the variety of opinions conveyed by our readers is as wide and varied as the unique assemblage of experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives that have shaped our lives.  However, I’m guessing that brought together under the umbrella of an organization dedicated to the concept of self-employment as a noble, plausible, realistic, and achievable career choice will give rise to many different voices.

I hope that as we post articles, chronicle our journey toward whatever personal definitions of success each of us have, that you too will share your opinions and relay your experiences, convey your apprehensions, and convictions as we work together to make and shape the case for self-employment.

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