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Category Archives: Life

The Best Way Out Is Always Through

robert frostWe’ve all endured our own challenges. They come in varying shapes and sizes and sometimes seem to pile on all at the same time. No part of life is immune to struggle; family, health, work and finances can bring us to our breaking point in the blink of an eye.

In the poem “A Servant to Servants” by Robert Frost, he captures a profound thought that I have used as my personal mantra during challenging moments. “The best way out is always through” I’ve taken this to mean that when you’re in the thick of things and feel like you want to turn around and go back. Don’t. Get though life’s challenges by continuing to move forward.

Here are some reasons why, even during the toughest moments, the best way out is always through:

It encourages taking calculated risks

I recognize that there are times when it’s better to cut your losses and walk away. However, that’s a different scenario than what I’m talking about here. Rather, Frost’s advice applies to well-thought out decisions or challenges from which you simply can’t turn away. Ones that you need to move forward with despite the overwhelming feeling to give up.

When choosing to venture down a path, first calculate your risks. Take time to really think through a decision before you dive right in. But once you decide it’s something worth doing, don’t turn back. Force yourself to work through the struggle. Whether it’s switching jobs, moving across the country, improving your health or getting married, be certain about your decision and then see it through the ups and downs.

You won’t lose the progress you’ve made

By turning around, you lose all the time and energy you’ve invested thus far. Seeing the challenge through until the end ensures that your progress is not wasted.

My time spent working on a statewide political campaign was a very trying time in my life. Fresh out of college, I was alone in a new city working long hours for terrible pay. I knew that Election Day was my finish line, but there were still moments when I wanted to give up. Had I turned back, I would have lost experience, friendships and job opportunities that ultimately led me to where I am now. The best way out of that stressful time in my life was to see it through.

You might be nearing the end

Just because you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, doesn’t mean you’re not nearing the exit. Reprieve could be right around the corner. Think back to a challenging time in your life. When was it at its worst and when did it end? So often the greatest struggle happens right before things improve.

If you had given up and turned back, your journey home would have been far longer than continuing until the end. Plus the guilt and regret you’d feel would make for terrible travel companions.  We don’t know what our journey is all about which is why we must continue to move forward with the hope that the best is always yet to come.

You’ll never have to wonder what could have been

Regret is one of the hardest emotions to bear. It will consume your thoughts and haunt you the rest of your life. The best way avoid regret is to see your challenges through. If you give up on your dream of starting your own business just because you encountered your first bump, you will always wonder whether it could have been a success if you stuck with it. Any chance for progress is a reason to keep moving forward. Don’t spend the rest of your life dwelling on what could have been – instead, turn it into what has become.

Progress is always accompanied by challenge. If it wasn’t, we’d be a far more accomplished society – but we wouldn’t appreciate it near as much.  Every challenge will result in change, but it’s up to us to make it positive. For the important lessons that life teaches us through struggle, don’t turn back and run away. Heed the advice of Robert Frost and keep moving forward until you’re out.

How do you approach life’s challenges? Do you agree or disagree that the best way out is always through?

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2014 in Business & Success, Life

 

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5 Reasons We Don’t Keep the Goals We’ve Set

Do not give upThere’s a saying that a New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other. I think we can all relate to that notion to some degree. Now with several weeks of the New Year under our belt, the trendy appeal of setting a New Year’s resolution has worn off and the first taste of reality has set in.

How’s it going?

Maybe you’re still hanging in there strong or maybe you’re already starting to slip. Maybe you just never bothered to make a resolution to begin with because you know the result is always the same. Regardless of the current state of your New Year’s resolution, we have all set goals and had them fail. What I want to examine a bit further is the “why” behind this common scenario. Here are 5 reasons why we don’t keep the goals we’ve set.

1. Failing to identify clear goals

One of the most common reasons we fail to keep the goals we’ve set is because we really don’t know what our goals are in the first place. Be overly specific. Quantify your goals, if possible. Be clear on what you’re achieving and why it’s important to achieve it. Finally, set real deadlines for milestones within that goal to make each step more manageable. Remember, you can always alter the parameters of your goal at any time (and you should as you make progress). What’s most important is that you are quite clear on what it is you’re trying to achieve. This leaves less room for failure due to confusion.

2. Confusing planning with progress

One of the biggest mistakes of goal setting is thinking that planning to do something is actually accomplishing anything. We’ve all been there. We have the best of intentions to reach a goal and exert a lot of effort into mapping out our road to success. We’re proud with our work, pat ourselves on the back and then forget the most important part – to turn the plans into action! Planning is one step toward progress, but even the best plans will never materialize into anything more than a dream until we put them into motion. Don’t congratulate yourself too much on great plans for success; the hardest part is yet to come.

3. Lacking accountability

Goals are much more effective and “real” when we know someone else is counting on us to reach them. Without accountability, it’s easy to fall off track. Sometimes we’re simply too easy on ourselves and lack someone or something else to make us hang in there. You can build in accountability by working alongside a partner who wants to achieve a similar goal, logging your progress into an app or spreadsheet to make your progress visual or working with a mentor – even if that’s as informal as a friend or family member. Accountability makes us answer to someone more than ourselves and gives us additional motivation to succeed.

4. Leaving failure as an option

To successfully reach your goals, you must fully, mentally commit to them. Many people think they do this, yet still allow themselves a way “out” through failure. Don’t let this be an option. Instead, always have an alternative goal in mind. For example, maybe you wanted to lose 10 pounds in 2 months, but have slipped off track. Rather than saying “Oh well!” and diving into a bucket of ice cream, adjust your goal to lose 7 pounds in 2 months. Goals change just as life changes. If you have to alter the target you were originally aiming for, there’s no shame in that – hey, maybe you’ll even make it a little more challenging overall. Just don’t stop cold, always keep progressing forward.

5. Forgetting the consequences

So often we fall off the wagon not because we forget the benefits of achieving our goal, but because we forget the consequences of failure. Sure it sounds nice to have a goal of growing your business by 50 percent; what entrepreneur wouldn’t want to do this? Seeing the benefits is the easy part. The more critical component that is often overlooked is the repercussions of not reaching your goal. Maybe this business growth is a necessary lifeline for saving jobs or putting food on your table. If you don’t achieve it, you’ll be forced to find a new job or layoff employees that you value and trust. Whatever the consequences, make them real. This will turn on your survival mode and tap into an even stronger will to succeed.

To sum it all up, the process toward reaching a goal is long and winding. Thinking that it’s going to be anything easier is the first common mistake we make. It takes planning, commitment and accountability to be truly successful. Even more importantly, it takes a strong desire from within to get across the finish line. Constant motivation and encouragement from others is not sustainable for long-term success. We must find our own fire and use it as fuel during the most trying moments.

What are some of the reasons you’ve identified for not being able to keep the goals you’ve set?

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2014 in Business & Success, Life

 

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Appearance vs Experience: How social media has changed what we value

taking a photoHow often would you say you check your social media news feeds and see a picture of a friend on vacation, enjoying a fancy dinner, attending an expensive sporting event, meeting a celebrity or buying something big like a car or a house? I would venture to say this is likely an everyday occurrence. It’s common for social media to attract information such as big announcements or fun experiences, but what’s concerning is the trend of sacrificing the full enjoyment of these experiences in order to amplify their appearance.

We are becoming a society that is more focused on the appearance of our life experiences than we are with the actual enjoyment our life experiences. We can no longer appreciate a Valentine’s Day dinner unless we first check-in to the restaurant on social media, share a picture of our pricy entree and finish with an overly mushy (and overly personal) post about our significant other. Why do we need the validation of our social networks to confirm that life is good? Your vacation still occurred whether it’s on your Facebook newsfeed or not and your new car still exists even if your Twitter followers haven’t seen a photo. But maybe the reality of our lives is no longer enough. Maybe now we feel we need a broader audience to really enjoy life’s pleasures. This thought begs the following question…

Do we value the appearance more than the experience?

If you have ever paused, recreated or staged a moment so you could take a photo for Facebook, then the answer is yes. If you have ever updated your status in the middle of a romantic dinner, on vacation or during a massage, the answer is yes. I know I’m just as guilty of this crime as many of you may be and worse yet, it’s a hard habit to break! Next time you’re experiencing something really fun or unique, resist the temptation to update your social media. It seems downright unnatural. In particular, Facebook is becoming a “brag book” where we seek approval and validation for almost everything we do in life. It’s simply not accurate, and a little absurd, to measure the importance of such special moments by the number of “likes” a photo receives. We need to reverse this trend by refocusing on the experience over the appearance. We need to disconnect, even briefly, to allow ourselves a chance to take in the memory of a moment.

While social media has become the catalyst for this problem, it is a platform for sharing. There’s no reason not to update your networks with good news or a photo of something you enjoy. This is only cause for concern if in doing so you diminish the real-life experience for yourself. If you’re too busy trying to capture everything on your iPhone, the world is going to pass you by. Sure you’ll have photos to remind you of these great memories, but wouldn’t you rather simply live them first hand?

Have you seen examples of this emerging trend? Maybe you’re even a contributor. Where do you find your enjoyment – in the appearance or the experience?

 

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7 Tips for Gaining Media Recognition for Your Business (Guest Blog by Queen Chioma Nworgu)

The following guest post comes to us all the way from the UK! Queen Chioma Nworgu is an international motivational speaker, success coach and a TV Presenter that resides in London. Enjoy her following insights and be sure to visit her bio below to connect with her on social media!

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Interview time7 Tips for Gaining Media Recognition for Your Business

To be fully recognized and honored in the media for what you do in your business is nearly every entrepreneurs dream. Foremost, this will help attract new clients – but we can’t overlook the added bonus of impressing your friends and family at the same time!

Some businesses and entrepreneurs make gaining media exposure look easy, but really it’s quite strategic and takes time. If you’re seeking the limelight and are ready to start featuring your business or personal accomplishments in magazines, newspapers and on TV, here are seven key tips that will help you get started!

1. Make appearances at exclusive events

One of the best ways to break into the media world and gain media recognition for your business is to attend exclusive events. The types of events that you should attend to gain publicity are seminars, exhibitions, meetings, conferences, award shows and networking events.

This is where you will often find the media. Journalists, reporters, videographers and photographers are always attending exclusive events and looking for amazing CEO’s, entrepreneurs and successful people to interview and feature in their publications, blogs or TV shows. They are hunting for the next big story.  It is your job to introduce yourself to them and intrigue them your entrepreneurial journey. Ask them if they would be interested in interviewing you. It seems common sense, but so many people fail to take advantage of this opportunity!

2. Dress to Impress

Make sure the image you’re portraying reflects someone that the media would want to talk to. This means dressing like a professional whether you’re at an event or working from home. If you look like an executive who’s in charge, your actions will reflect this.

Dressing for success will dramatically increase your confidence and charisma. You will speak with more authority when you make those media calls or introduce yourself. You will also stand out at events and leave a lasting, positive impression.

The media is attracted to people with high levels of charisma. They are always looking for people that will enhance their publications. Bright colors and glamorous outfits demand attention. By no means do you have to be the most attractive person in the room; your professional attire will be what helps to give you an edge.

3. Send Press Releases

Create a quality press release and send it out to key contacts within the media who would be interested in covering your specific topic. Do your research to develop a targeted media list and foster meaningful relationships with these contacts. Reach out to local newspapers, blogs, websites and shows that you would like to be featured on. In your press release, be sure to include articles, tear sheets and publications/shows that have featured you previously. You should also provide the media with a succinct list highlighting your professional achievements.

4. Win a Business Award

The media is always looking for award winners to be featured in their publications. If you have not yet won an award, why not make this your new ambition? It’s a great boost for your business and your personal brand as well.

I encourage you to apply for several business awards in 2014. Be sure to highlight the most important qualities that will increase your chances of winning which include professionalism, excellent customer service, hard work and dedication. Every award is different, so be sure to tailor your submissions appropriately!

5. Start your own web TV show

One of the best ways to attract media publicity to your business is to host your own Internet TV show. There are many simply ways to do this, so don’t be intimidated! You can create daily v-logs, a weekly show or upload videos once a week or twice a month – whatever suits you! This is a great way to build an organic audience and create a buzz about your business that will gain media attention. Once you get going, it won’t be long before you receive requests from the media asking you to be a part of their show, magazine, blog or website.

6. Be inspired

Another strategic way to break into the media is to study entrepreneurs and celebrities that receive a lot of coverage. Read their biographies and success stories. Learn from what they’ve done and write out key points on what these people did throughout their journey toward success.

Ask yourself, how can I improve my services, products and character to start gaining this same media recognition? What are they doing to get publicity? Who do I know that can connect me to interviews or features in the media? Be prepared to do what successful people do (while maintaining integrity of course) even if this means long hours and hard work. Success takes effort!

7. Become an expert in your field

Finally, one of the best ways to gain media exposure is to become an expert in your field. The media is always looking for experts to come on to their shows or to discuss important issues on the news, in blogs, newspapers and at events. Learn all you can about your industry, read books, keep tabs on the daily news and join educational or networking groups that discuss related topics. Once you position yourself as an expert, reach out to the media and offer your insight and expert advice on topics they’re currently covering.

Gaining media exposure for your business is no easy task. If it was, we’d all have the press coverage we want for our accomplishments! Rather, it takes time, talent, strategy and above all else – patience to really build meaningful relationships with the media. Take the advice listed in these seven tips and you will be well on your way to increasing your media exposure.

Snipper Photography (C) 2013

Snipper Photography (C) 2013

About the Author: Queen Chioma Nworgu MA, BA (hons) is a TV appearing international motivational speaker, success coach and a TV Presenter that resides in London, UK. She speaks regularly at conferences, seminars, schools, colleges and universities giving strategies for success and motivation. She has had over 150 TV appearances on TV channels which include ITV, MTV, BBC 1 and Nollywood TV. She believes that you can achieve all of your dreams if you manage your time effectively and never give up.  Connect with Queen Chioma Nworgu by visiting her website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

 
 

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Our Trip Around the Sun: A recap of top posts from 2013

earth and sunWith only 2 days left in 2013, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on this crazy busy but very memorable year. Who knew we could pack so much into just one trip around the sun? It’s a journey we’ve taken together  - with all of its ups and downs, twists and turns. I know that I have personally grown more this year than I have ever before. I had many significant life changes, career growth and have continued to work to find contentment in every moment – even the ones that challenge me to new limits.

To honor the progress of this year, I began by sifting through the Bennis Inc Blog archives and found that I fell in love all over again with some of the thoughts I shared. So in celebration of all great things to come in 2014, here is a highlight of the most popular posts from the Bennis Inc Blog in 2013!

1. Never Lose Sight of Your Childhood Dream

In this post, I reflect on my childhood dream to become an architect and interior designer. Clearly this dream never became a reality; still I managed to incorporate the core aspects that I loved about these careers into what I’m doing now. If you take a closer look, you too may see that you never gave up on your childhood dream – you’ve just repurposed it.

2. The 80/20 Principle: How to identify the clutter in your life and business

After reading “The 4 Hour Workweek,” I was inspired to write about my own take on the 80/20 Principle. Essentially it states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort and time. I still swear by it and every so often have to refocus myself on whether or not I’m applying it to all aspects of my life.

3. A Penny Saved Is More Than A Penny Earned

This was a really fun post! I give a couple (creative) reasons as to why a penny saved is actually more than a penny earned. Instead of trying to earn more money to do more things, we should actually be focusing on living more conservatively and enjoying the free time it provides.

4. A Low-Information Diet – The Solution for Overwhelm and Overload?

After a very overwhelming start to my career on a political campaign, I’ve since prescribed my life the low-information diet. Essentially, it’s eliminating all of the noise and clutter that we needlessly bring into our lives and as a result, has helped to boost my productivity and reduce my stress.

5. D’oh! The 5 Most Common Public Relations Mistakes

I’m still surprised to see how many hits this blog gets a day! I outlined some of the most common PR mistakes that we all make from time to time. This guide is a great help especially for small businesses out there who may be looking to implement their own PR tactics, but are too scared of making a mistake.

6. A Price for Passion: Being smart and fair when pricing your services

This is an essential post for every entrepreneur or business owner as it covers one of the most critical question for making money – how do you price yourself? For those who offer services, this is even more complicated because the resource you’re ultimately selling is your time. Here are the tips I’ve learned through my own trial and error with pricing my services.

7. The Necessary Slow Burn of Business Growth

The idea for this post came from a creative analogy that I saw as being applicable to business growth. Though we all wish success could take off like wildfire, there is necessity to the process of slow and steady growth.

8.  The Life Lessons of Parenthood

On May 11, 2013, my life forever changed. I became a mother. This post examines the life lessons of parenthood I learned in just two short months with my son, Holden. Now nearing the end of 2013, Holden is growing into a little man and the life lessons keep on coming!

9. A No Is As Good As a Yes

Un-productivity is one of my biggest pet peeves. I hate when projects get held up because of someone’s lack of responsiveness. This blog post is a plea to those regular “offenders” that a no is sometimes as good as a yes because it helps us move forward with work – and life.

10. The Working Mom/Stay At Home Mom Hybrid

This was the most read and shared post of 2013 – and one in which I opened myself up to discussing a pretty personal and controversial topic. The decision of whether to be a stay-at-home-mom or a working mom is one of the most difficult choices for any mother. This post takes a look at how I’m adjusting to life as a “hybrid mom.”

Tell me about your year! What was one of your most memorable moments from 2013?

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2013 in Life

 

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Twas Two Days Before Christmas…

Twas Two Days Before Christmas

(A fun twist on a familiar favorite)

Twas two days before Christmas, when all through the house
not a computer was turned on, not even a mouse.
Their cords were wrapped up in the corner with care,
in hopes that I had strength to leave them there.

Miss Pinot was nestled all snug in her bed,
while visions of toy mice danced in her head.
For once taking a cue from my sleepy, gray cat,
I settled my brain for a short winter’s nap.

Is it possible to tune out all of the clatter,
to focus on Christmas and what truly matters?
No doubt it would feel different to completely unwind,
what’s the worst that could happen, we’d have a good time?

So from now until New Years, the blog posts can wait
there are loved ones to hug and cookies to bake.
This short disconnect will help creativity to soar
and inspire me to write better than ever before!

Until then, don’t worry what to do with your time,
make your own holidays relaxing as I’ve done mine.
Here’s my final wish before the exit I make,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a short break!”

whimsical christmas tree

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2013 in Life

 

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When In Doubt, Take the Next Small Step

small stepIn business and in life, being faced with different choices can be an overwhelming and paralyzing situation. We always want to make the “right” choice, the one that we can look back on years later and know we wouldn’t change a thing. But rarely are we afforded the benefit of hindsight. In a recent conversation with a client, I was discussing how difficult it can be to make decisions as a business owner. With the weight of the world on our shoulders, we worry that one poor choice can bring it all tumbling down. We are often forced to make decisions on limited time and limited information because if we took the time to fully outline every option, we would never move forward with anything. Therefore, one of the greatest accomplishments of any business owner is to empower yourself with the confidence to make decisions and stand behind whatever the outcome. When in doubt, take the next small step. You don’t have to act radically or nonsensically, but you must still move forward. Especially when you’re not sure of your footing, the best option is to simply take a single step in one definite direction. This is some of the best advice I’ve ever received. It’s obviously applicable to an entrepreneur, but I believe we can also apply it to all aspects of our lives, both personal and professional.  

In Business

I have written passionately about my experience as an entrepreneur and I advocate for other entrepreneurial hopefuls to “take the leap.” But with this major life decision, I must caution that you should still do it with some rationale. When I was confronted with the ultimate decision to either stay in my current job or turn my part time passion into my full time career, it was done as an initial small step that has since turned into a major life change. I began by first incorporating my business. Not only did this make my side work feel more legitimate, it was also a sound investment that has since saved me a lot of money (and headaches) on taxes. This started things rolling in the right direction. My next step was securing enough clients that I knew I could cover my bills. And the next step was the big one – resigning from my 9-5 for a life as an entrepreneur. When broken down, these were all single steps that turned into quite an amazing journey. Even now when I’m faced with wanting to make a change in my business, I pause, breath and identify the next small step. If I only looked at the big picture, I would easily overwhelm myself with how I get from point A to point B – especially when they appear oceans apart. Instead, move just one step in the direction you know you want to travel and do so with confidence!

In Life

For those of us who aren’t business owners or entrepreneurs, life is stilled filled with countless decisions we must make on a daily basis. Small choices like what to have for dinner or how to spend a free weekend are relatively easy to decide. But bigger decisions like buying a new car, building a house or going on vacation can add unwanted anxiety and unnecessary stress to our lives.  When in doubt, take the next small step. Begin by looking at your finances or researching the top options, but take one step forward! Big decisions shouldn’t be made overnight, but progress can still be made slowly and consistently to help you make a smart choice in the end. By taking small steps, you’re less likely to make a decision due to pressure, frustration or confusion and you’re more likely to enjoy the process and feel confident with the end result. Take a moment to think of a big decision you’ve been avoiding and identify one small step you can take today. It doesn’t need to be the end result, but it should at least put you one step closer!

No matter the scope or size of the decision, we have all encountered obstacles in our effort to move forward. Have you ever had difficulty making decisions? What’s the best advice you can give to become a more decisive person? Share your insight by commenting below!

 

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Sending Holiday Messages to Clients

writing holiday cardsHoliday messages are a seasonal staple and an effective way to share your gratitude with those who have been a special part of your business and your life. You’ve likely been receiving these greetings in many forms over the past several weeks. They come to us by mail, e-mail, social media messages and more. Being bombarded with “Happy Holidays,” “Merry Christmas,” and “Warm Wishes” can cause even the best crafted messages to blend into the background. How do you make your business stand out? This is no easy task and one that should be carefully addressed. Too much or too little communication during this time of year can negatively impact your brand and ultimately your bottom line. Here is a short and simple list of do’s and don’ts for sending holiday greetings to your clients this season.

DON’T add to the holiday clutter

Holiday e-blasts have become about as obligatory and useless as the dreaded fruitcake. Around this time of year we seem to get a message from every business we have ever come in contact with. If positioned correctly, these messages can be well received and even spark additional business. But for many that just say some variation of “Happy Holidays” and throw together a mixture of cheesy clipart, they aren’t doing much more than cluttering up our inbox (which we’d prefer to keep as empty as possible this time of year). Don’t let your holiday messages add to this clutter! First, think if sending an e-blast is the best way to communicate your well wishes. Would a hand signed card to your closest contacts be more effective? If an e-blast is justified, work to make it something more than an overused holiday phrase. Share information that is both sincere and valuable to your audience. Which brings me to my next point…

DO share sincere and valuable information

Craft a holiday message that says more than just “Happy Holidays!” You’re reaching out to your audience at a special time of year where moods are light and hopes are high. Complement these sentiments in your message to them. Write a personal note and insert your real signature. In many cases, it’s impossible to hand-write a note to each of your contacts individually; this is every more reason to make your e-blast feel personalized. Recount a special story from the past year or share exciting news of what the next year will bring. Additionally, offer your readers something of value such as a coupon or free giveaway. Make it worth their time to read your message during a time of year when time is stretched in so many different directions. This special offer can also be positioned as your holiday present to your valued customers. Make it about them, not about promoting your business.

DON’T stray from your brand

The theme and message of your holiday e-blast should always, always reflect your brand. We talked about avoiding generic and overused phrases. This is a great opportunity to insert some personality and make your audience remember you. Most importantly, it makes your holiday message relevant. For example, a political candidate should include a thank you to their supporters, a recap of what was achieved over the past year and a push to continue the hard work throughout the New Year. It should sound like a personal letter written in your unique voice – not like a political ad. Alternatively, a business that’s known for its humor and lightheartedness should carry this theme into their holiday messaging. This could include a joke, a play on words or a funny infographic. Whatever you choose to say, ask yourself, “Does this reflect my brand?”

DO carefully choose your words

Whether you choose to say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas is a critical decision. I won’t get into the argument over whether this should be an issue at all, but we know that in the political correctness of our society, we must watch our words. What you choose to say should directly reflect your audience. What would they most appreciate hearing? If you’re a faith-based organization, let that lead the way. If you have constituents with a variety of beliefs who would prefer a more generic message, be sensitive to this as well.  If you’re still torn, think for yourself! It’s your greeting coming from your business (and you, personally). What do you want to say? Whatever route you choose, be ready to defend it to those who may choose to question your decision. Sorry, that’s life – and a part of business!

DON’T overlook timing

Some holiday messages begin arriving as early as the day after Thanksgiving (if we’re lucky, not any sooner) and continue right up until the holiday. Is your business going to be an early bird or a wait until the very end? There are pros and cons for both and this will ultimately depend upon the message you’re sending. If you’re offering a holiday coupon or giveaway, give your audience more time to respond. In contrast, if you’re sending a personal or emotional message, you may choose to wait until a day or two before the holiday to achieve the biggest impact. Many businesses smartly choose to send somewhere in between these extremes. Don’t overlook the power of timing and remember to give yourself enough time to craft a quality message!

As you craft your holiday wishes to clients, customers and business contacts, keep this list of do’s and don’ts in the forefront of your strategy. You don’t want to blend in to the white noise of every other holiday greeting out there nor do you want to try too hard for attention and risk offending a valuable relationship. Stay true to your brand and speak from your heart – your customers will recognize the difference!

Are you planning to send a holiday message this year? Share your strategy! 

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2013 in Business & Success, Life

 

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How to Develop a Sense of Urgency in Your Life

urgentWe have all felt the stagnant waters of complacency. For some, it’s business-related. We spend years of our life doing a job we don’t love without any opportunity for growth or advancement. For others, complacency is more personal. We have cluttered closets we can’t find the motivation to clean up or we have friends we should see but can’t find the energy to change our routine. Complacency can hide in all corners and creep in so gradually it’s hardly noticed. But this is no excuse to give it a place in our lives for it’s our goals and happiness that ultimately suffer. The only way to rid ourselves of complacency is to rekindle that fire in your belly. A quote by Les Brown says it the best…

You must take action now that will move you towards your goals. Develop a sense of urgency in your life.

I like this quote because it applies to goals both big and small. Yes, you need urgency to compel you to change your career, your living situation or to get out of debt, but don’t forget the everyday things. Urgency can also fuel you to tackle that home renovation project you’ve been putting off or to repair a neglected friendship. So how do we develop this sense of urgency? Here are three starting steps to spark that fire and get you burning again…

Make (and keep) deadlines

Deadlines need not apply only to business-related tasks or school work. You can and should set deadlines for anything you wish to accomplish. For example, you’ve been meaning to organize a yard sale to clear out the clutter, but everything else seems to take priority. Give yourself a deadline for when you’ll sort what you’re going to sell, mark the items with prices and begin advertising the event. Each deadline breaks the task into more manageable parts and provides accountability for when they must be completed to keep the ball rolling. Don’t look at them as “arbitrary” deadlines either. Develop a sense of urgency for completing these tasks and respect the deadline as you would a deadline given to you by your boss.

Develop a “Do it now!” mentality

Some tasks don’t require deadlines—because they can be done right now. If you see something that can be done, do it while you have the time. Don’t put it on a fictitious to-do list you’ll never look at anyways. It’s a mind game, but when you continue to put off a difficult or undesirable task, it only continues to grow bigger and bigger until it seems impossible to complete. Don’t give yourself the time to turn a molehill into a mountain. Develop a sense of urgency and conquer tasks as soon as they come in, whenever possible. The “high” you’ll get from getting things accomplished will energize you to continue knocking more tasks off your list and soon you’re snowballing in the right direction!

Make the repercussions real

The final step for developing a sense of urgency is to accept that there are repercussions for not sticking to your deadlines. It’s easy to fall into the mindset of “Oh, nothing bad will happen if I don’t do it today.” While technically this may be true, nothing good will happen either. You will merely continue to live a life of complacency. And truly this is the ultimate repercussion. You can put off organizing your closet until next month, but that’s one more month you have to live with the clutter and disarray. You can continue to find reasons not to follow your dream career, but you’re sentencing yourself to a life of regret. The repercussions for not taking on tasks with urgency are real and should be treated as such.

So often we wait until we have no choice but to take action. It shouldn’t require a terminal illness, financial ruins or extreme unhappiness to inspire us to make positive changes in our lives. Find your fire and develop a sense of urgency right now. How will you begin?

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2013 in Business & Success, Life

 

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How to Repair a Broken Business Relationship

bridge repairsA while back I wrote the blog Revealing Character Through Communication where I examined the issue of unprofessional communication. This topic sparked a lot of discussion and ultimately begged this question, “When unprofessional communication damages a relationship, how do you go about fixing it?” Whether this is a question you’re used to facing head on or one you’d rather avoid at any cost, I’ve found several key steps that help to quickly resolve this uncomfortable situation. For this week’s blog, I hope to close the loop on the topic of unprofessional communication and give you a working blueprint for how you can appropriately address a strained business relationship.

Look for the signs

A broken relationship can center on a single event, but most commonly it is compounded by several other events that aggravate the negative feelings even further. Be aware of the early signs of a strained relationship. Look for changes in communication, tone or willingness to help. These are all red flags that something has changed. The sooner you can address the breakdown in communication, the more likely the relationship is to fully recover. Some signs are quite obvious and if this is the case, consider yourself lucky.  Other signs present themselves passive aggressively and require a keener sense to identify. For example, a lag in response time, short answers or an overly negative tone are passive aggressive signs of strained business communication. If any of these signs persist for a period of time or cannot be explained by another life event, it’s time to address the situation.

Acknowledge that something is wrong

The next step is to face the problem head on. You must clearly address your concern with the person in a professional and non-accusatory way. If you’re not sure of what event could have initiated the breakdown in communication, begin with a question to break the ice. “Did I do or say something to upset you?” On the other hand, if you are aware of the event that strained the relationship, address this with a direct statement. “I realize that the last time we spoke I may have come across ungrateful for your work.” In either case, be sure what you’re saying is sincere. Even the slightest hint of sarcasm or aggression can sour the best intentions. Once you’ve acknowledged the breakdown, the next step is to take action.

Choose to terminate or repair

This step is a critical one. Most often our instinct is to patch up a damaged relationship as quickly as possible. In many cases this is the right course of action; however, it’s important to be open to the fact that a relationship may not be worth repairing. There are many factors to consider, among the most important are how much do you value this relationship and is it essential to the success of your business. If you determine that this is a relationship you must repair, move forward immediately by first offering an apology and then taking the appropriate actions to right the wrongs.

Don’t walk on eggshells

Once you establish a resolution and begin to move forward, don’t allow the awkwardness that was once there to linger. The best way to dissolve any residual feelings of hurt is to treat the situation normally again. Don’t walk on eggshells around each other as this will only draw more attention to the negative situation that has since been resolved. Instead, treat each other kindly just as you would anyone else – no more, no less.

Have you ever had to repair a broken business relationship? What were some key steps you took to accomplish this professionally? Share your opinion and questions by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2013 in Business & Success, Life

 

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