RSS

Tag Archives: Advice

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?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 30, 2013 in Life

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How Blogging Has Built My Business

building blocksWhen I first began blogging in June of 2011, it was an experiment. Publishing my first post didn’t feel much different than writing in a Word doc. I had zero subscribers and only a measly three or four people randomly stumbled on my blog each day. I wanted to learn how to be an effective blogger for my clients. To do so, I first had to become an effective blogger for myself. The blogging experiment far exceeded my expectations and I’m officially hooked. I write passionately for my readership of more than 700 subscribers every Monday morning.

The Bennis Inc blog began as nothing but a blank page, just as most things in life do. But it grew – and so did my business. Sure, time alone can cause growth, but I venture to say that it took more than just time. It took regular upkeep, vision and a willingness to put my thoughts out there for all the world to see. As awkward as that felt in the beginning, almost 150 blog posts later and it couldn’t feel more natural.

The best side effect of this blogging experiment was how it built my business and defined my personal brand. I’m still amazed to talk to a new acquaintance who mentions a recent post they read or to look at the stats and see the various search terms that led people to my blog. Whether you’re a fellow blogger (novice or expert) or an intrigued reader, here are the key ways in which blogging has built my business – and has the power to build yours as well.

It’s an icebreaker

My blog provides a great reason to start a conversation. Whether it’s in a business meeting or a quick run-in at the coffee shop, telling me, “Oh by the way, I read your blog,” has replaced the obligatory conversation about the weather. It has also given people a reason to reach out to me with a professional question or to explore the services I offer. If I was just a name on a web site, people may not feel this same connection or be motivated to start a conversation. This is a pleasant reminder that the time I spend putting my thoughts into words is worth something.  It’s cultivating an audience, opening doors and inspiring people enough to want to tell me about it.

It reaches further than you might imagine

My blog has opened up an avenue for communication with people from all across the world. When looking at the stats, it’s exciting to see how many different countries are lit up on the map. Even more fulfilling than just numbers and statistics is the meaningful interactions with people via comments and emails. The reach of my blog has helped to grow my business on a more local level as well. Within my local network, I’m impressed by how many people I know (and look up to) read it on the regular. I would never have imagined they had the interest or free time, but they do. This has helped to build my credibility as a writer and entrepreneur.

It’s a living portfolio

I’ve often referred to a blog as a living portfolio of your work. When a client asks to see examples of my writing, I can simply send them to my blog where they can choose from a variety of topics to really get a feel for my style. This is much easier and more genuine than putting together a dull document of writing samples. They can also see the interactions with my readers which demonstrates my ability to grow an audience. My blog has become a valuable asset to my proposal process and I believe has helped to win me some work as well.

It strengthens your SEO and your personal brand

The final and most powerful way I feel my blog has helped to build my business is by strengthening my SEO and personal brand. Adding fresh and high quality content to your blog and appropriately tagging each post is one the best ways to increase your search engine optimization. I choose to host my blog on WordPress (as oppose to my web site) because of its added SEO power. Many readers have found my blog by browsing WordPress’s categories.

My blog has also strengthened my personal brand by showcasing the “human element” of Bennis Inc – me! While my business is all about Public Relations, I choose to make my blog much more personal with many articles on the struggle of entrepreneurship, life balance and unconventional wisdom. My blog shines a spotlight on the “Twenty-Something Entrepreneur” that I’ve become.

There you have it – all the compelling reasons you could need to be inspired to create or grow your own blog! The most important thing to remember is that once you start, don’t stop. Keep writing and posting regular content. Think of your blog as a hungry little monster. It needs food to keep it growing and that’s what your posts will be, food for your blog and fuel for search engines to pull new readers to your site.

Finally, here are some tips for successful blogging to get you start. Go forth and blog!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on December 16, 2013 in Business & Success, Social Media

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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!

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Steps to Financial Success for Young Entrepreneurs (Guest Blog by Dave Landry)

This week’s post comes to us from guest blogger, Dave Landry. Dave specially crafted this article for the Bennis Inc blog to assist fellow “amateur entrepreneurs” and guide them toward successful endeavors. Be sure to visit Dave’s business web site for more information on the many skills he has to offer. Enjoy!

————————————————————————————————

For a young entrepreneur, every penny counts!

For a young entrepreneur, every penny counts!

In today’s economic environment, it is extremely important for a new breed of young entrepreneurs to take risks. As venture capital declines and direct investment opportunities increase, it really is a moment where new minds with elaborate new ideas can affect the world and embrace success.

With startup companies constantly appearing in the headlines, reports from the Kauffman Foundation show that startups have declined from 12 percent of all companies (since the 1980s) to less than 8 percent. It is now at its lowest point on record but as the Kauffman report writes “new firms and young businesses account for about 70 percent of gross job creation and disproportionately contribute to net job creation.”

Small business success is important to our economic recovery, adding a great amount of responsibility to those that are entrepreneurs. By taking the risk on new ideas that may become mainstream in the future, young entrepreneurs are incredibly vital to our economic system.

Here are seven extremely valuable tips for the young entrepreneur. By keeping these in mind, one can supply a focus to the difficult task of financially building upon your talent:

1. Create a star team

It is extremely vital to take as much time to create a team that will be strong for a startup. By honing in on strengths and weaknesses, a team can be formed over supplemental talents adding to its strength and focus.

2. Focus in on problems

Focus is what investors are most interested in. Creating a team that isolates problems, creates a proper strategy to execute a solution, and has a determined value is extremely useful for the starting entrepreneur.

3. Use failure as an inspiration

Everyday functioning for a startup can be filled with a certain amount of failures. Don’t unleash this frustration on colleagues, instead control your emotions. Mistakes can be used to coach others through their faults and toward future success.

4. Try not to work at home

Working from home can be amazing but it can also be constraining. If the lines of home life and work life are blurred, a young entrepreneur can become distracted and frustrated. If an office space seems too expensive, try sharing one or opting for a desk-for-a-day rental service that is priced well for an entrepreneur on a budget. It will also give you an added level of professionalism where you can meet clients in a real office setting.

5. Sharing Successes

A young entrepreneur should never feel the need to be too humble. Celebrating a success, no matter how big or small, inspires the team and makes investors and the public aware of your progress. By keeping a team happy through sharing each victory and by sharing them with your consumers/investors, everyone will feel a part of these small celebrations. Think of them as an adult equivalent of a gold star in elementary school!

6. Learn from past entrepreneurs

It’s important that a young entrepreneur learns from others. This can assist in starting a venture, save time and resources and most simply lend some aspiring wisdom! Literature by Venture Deals’ Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson are one helpful resources. Also try searching interviews or quotes from successful entrepreneurs such as Warren Buffett to hear how they overcame their career challenges.

7. Use spare time to reboot

Just like laptops need some time to rest, so do young entrepreneurs. By spending time with friends and family, or just getting some rest, someone approaching a new venture can utilize time away from work to approach their venture with invigorating motivation and a fresh mind.

dave landryDave Landry Jr. is a businessman and financial strategist. Be sure and visit www.NationalDebtRelief.com to see what Dave and several others are doing to assist people during financial crises!

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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!

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

For Better Time Management…Eat A Frog?

frogHere’s a piece of advice that will surely grab your attention, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Mark Twain is credited for this witty and wacky quote, but I can’t imagine he was advising us to actually go out and eat a frog. So what point was he trying to make with this sliver of creative wisdom? I believe Twain was alluding to one of the greatest time management principles of all time.

Tackle your most undesirable task first.

By doing this, you get the biggest road block off your to-do list. It also sets the tone for the rest of the day that anything is possible and it will boost your mood. On the surface, this seems simple and attainable. But when you’re faced with a project you don’t want to start, a phone call you don’t want to make or a house you don’t want to clean, it’s amazing the ways in which you’ll find to procrastinate. To take Mark Twain’s advice one step further, I want to give you several ways in which you can learn to eat – and enjoy – your frog every morning.

First things first

It’s important that you tackle your most undesirable task first, but it’s equally important to do so as soon as you start your day. Having something at the top of your to-do list means nothing if you don’t look at the list before 2pm. The more time we take to build up fear and anxiety over completing a challenging task, the more the molehill starts to look like a mountain. Just as you would rip off a bandage as quickly as you could to minimize the pain, tackle your most undesirable tasks quickly and promptly.

No dessert before dinner

Don’t allow yourself to do enjoyable or desirable tasks until you have gotten rid of the “frog” on your plate. It’s tempting to say, “Oh I’ll clean the house after just one more episode of my favorite show…it will motivate me.” This will only motivate you to find more excuses and to rationalize yourself out of the task altogether. Our mothers were right; dessert only spoils our supper. Instead we need to view these desirable tasks as reward for completing undesirable tasks. Plus, a good dessert at the end of dinner will help to get that frog taste out of your mouth!

Embrace your “Super Powers”

Once you knock the worst task off your to-do list, be sure to take a brief moment to embrace your “super powers.” I’ve found that when I accomplish something difficult or time consuming, I feel like I can take on the world. It’s on these days that I often go on to accomplish many more difficult tasks that I’ve also been putting off. It’s like letting the flood gates open and finally releasing all the tension I was carrying around over this work. Tackling one undesirable task helps me to realize I’m perfectly capable of doing much more. Plus the adrenaline rush from being done is energy that is worth putting to good use!

What “frogs” do you have on your plate right now? Do you agree with Mark Twain’s wisdom or is there another time management technique that has worked better for you? Share your insight!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 23, 2013 in Advice, Business & Success, Life

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Moving Beyond the Time Sheet: Making Efficiency Part of Your Pricing

mowing lawnSeveral months ago I wrote about how to be smart and fair when pricing your services. This is a critical area for any business and also one which can be the most challenging. It’s hard to put a price on passion. We risk either under valuing our services or becoming too-consumed with our work and pricing ourselves too high. Even after we have developed a consistent method for setting an hourly rate and accurately predicting the hours involved for any given project, we’re still faced with the double-edge sword of efficiency. To better illustrate my points, let me offer this analogy:

Say you want to pay someone to mow your grass. Your yard provides a well-defined scope and size for a project, yet several mowing companies provide you with very different pricing. Why? The difference between each company’s tools, experience and efficiency all play a role in the variables of their rate. One mowing company may only have access to a push mower and so they have to account for an employee taking 4-6 hours to complete the work. Another company may have equipment with all the bells and whistles requiring just 20 minutes to complete the project, but they must recoup the cost of the capital for this equipment. The second mowing company may spend far less time on your yard, but they can’t (and likely won’t) charge you just for 20 minutes of work. There’s the factor of efficiency which also has a price.

As business owners we should strive to become efficient with our work, but we shouldn’t then penalize ourselves for this skill. Although our ability to complete a project in less time means technically less billing hours, we need to keep in mind that there’s much more to pricing services than just our time. Take a look at the following three pillars of pricing that move beyond the time sheet and are worth considering when pricing your services. These may also help you understand why other companies price their services the way they do:

Scope of project

The size (or scope) of a project plays a large role in pricing, but not the only role. Businesses shouldn’t price a project based upon time alone. There should always be built-in motivation to be efficient with both time and resources and to not take advantage of a time sheet. I’ve moved as far from time sheets as I can because it penalizes my efficiency while leaving clients with an unknown variable of cost for my work. I prefer to quote a project in full based upon its scope and then I stick to this price, regardless of hours spent on the project, unless the scope should substantially change. Whether this works out to be my client’s benefit or my own, it ensures I work efficiently which most often results in completing projects well before deadline.

Cost of capital

A business invests a great deal of capital into their tools, resources and talent that allow them to provide optimum service. While a particular project may take an efficient business less time to complete because of these tools, there’s a cost to that investment that also must be taken into account when pricing services. Most commonly I see this in printing services. The cost of professional printing equipment is expensive! So while it may take mere minutes to print off a 5,000 piece mailer, when before it would take hours, the bigger and better copier required an initial investment from the company. I wouldn’t expect this printing company to charge for just 20 minutes of work when resources, much more than time, were the real expense.

Paying for professionalism

Finally, there is the cost of professionalism. If you want a service done right the first time, it’s worth paying a higher price to work with a business with a great reputation and track record for producing results. Sure, it can be tempting to go for the lowest price possible, but most of us have also experienced the repercussions of such temptation. In the long-term it’s often worth investing a little more to get exactly what you want the first time. Your time is also valuable and so the less time you spend fixing errors, or micro-managing projects the more time you can invest back into growing your business. When pricing your services, the point is very similar – don’t compete on price alone. Offer clients value, professionalism and high-quality service along with a price you feel is fair.

How do you currently price your services? Do you reward yourself for efficiency or penalize yourself? This is a critical question worth giving some thought – especially because it could save you hours of work and a lot of profit in the long-term. Weigh in on this topic by leaving your comments below!

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Embracing the Non-Monetary Benefits of Entrepreneurship

sunny park chairs

The ability to work from anywhere – and enjoy a beautiful summer day – is a wonderful benefit of entrepreneurship.

I’ve shared my insight before on how fellow entrepreneurs and business owners might choose to price their services. It’s a fine balance between earning what you’re worth and remaining competitive. One of the biggest challenges comes when you’re just starting out. With little to no prior experience and only a small portfolio of work to showcase, new clients often hire you on a hope and a prayer that you’re half as good as what you promise. This situation often requires you to charge far less than market value for your time to even get your foot in the door. Even a seasoned entrepreneur can recall such a time in their career. The glitz and glamour of being a “business owner” can quickly become jaded by the lack of money, time and sleep in return for countless hours of hard work. So how do successful entrepreneurs overcome this starting hurdle? When I was first building Bennis Inc from the ground up, had I measured my success and happiness in income, I may have thrown in the towel before I ever really got going. Instead, I quickly learned that I had to embrace the non-monetary benefits of entrepreneurship until I reached market value. If you’ve also taken the entrepreneurial leap, focusing on these benefits can help you overcome the “I’m WAY underpaid“ blues.

Flexibility

Even when I was just making ends meet, this didn’t impact my ability to enjoy life’s no-cost luxuries. I was (and still am) able to go for a run whenever I feel like it. I can grocery shop at non-peak hours and enjoy a peacefully empty store all to myself. I can take an early weekend (say, starting on Tuesday?) or grab coffee with a friend who’s swinging through town. With my 9-5 job, I felt guilty even scheduling a doctor’s appointment during the day. Now I can get a haircut whenever it’s most convenient—completely guilt free. Of course, this type of free time and flexibility is balanced by sometimes having to work late into the evenings or on the weekends, but at least it’s at my discretion. When I have work to do, I do it and when I don’t, I’m not stuck chained to a desk. As an entrepreneur, soak this up! Your friends may have chosen a more stable, traditional career, but they likely can’t do work from a park on a sunny summer day.

Creative Freedom

You’re a business owner – that means you also own every decision that’s made. This can be a scary reality, but also an incredibly rewarding one. While you might not be raking in the “big bucks” just yet, remember that the ability to make a decision and not have it be second-guessed or turned down is a luxury most people would place a pretty big price tag on.

Building Something All Your Own

This is all you. When you’re building a business you get to take complete ownership over how every piece comes together. Do you want to steer things in a new direction? Sure! Is your goal to someday have 100+ employees? Go for it! Is your goal to work remotely and travel 10 months out of the year? It can be done! The beauty of building your own business is that you have the ability to make it unique and custom fit to your goals. I have yet to see an example of a corporate job that allows for the same.

Leadership

During my time of really embracing the non-monetary benefits of entrepreneurship, I found that this is truly one of life’s ultimate leadership experiences. It requires a great deal of self-confidence, trust in your instincts and quick thinking. I always felt like I had leadership qualities inside of me that would shine through when it was required, but as an entrepreneur, leadership is required every day. Some might say it’s baptism by fire, but I think one of the greatest benefits of entrepreneurship is the “leadership boot camp” it provides. You’re forced to step into this role quickly and without hesitation.

At the end of the day, it’s important that we remind ourselves that we’ve chosen the entrepreneurial path for a reason. Hopefully it wasn’t for the money (because that can take many, many years to get flowing) but rather it was for the flexibility, creative freedom, ability to create something new and unique and life’s ultimate leadership experience that is entrepreneurship. Before long, the money will follow, but if you embrace these non-monetary benefits early, the money will no longer be the ultimate goal.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Revealing Character Through Communication

angry person on phoneDuring the steps along my career path, I’ve encountered some truly great communicators who were friendly, organized and a pleasure to work with. As with any balance to life, I have also encountered a memorable few who were quite the opposite – impatient, rude and condescending. I used to take negative communication very personally, wondering what I could have done to make it a more pleasant experience, but have since reconciled that it had little to do with me. I wasn’t giving the person the answer they wanted (maybe I wasn’t the right contact to address their request or maybe it simply couldn’t be done). And because of this, they felt as though they could treat me with less respect or professionalism than someone who could offer them immediate solutions.

I continue to encounter similar styles of communication from time to time and it really grates on me. I believe that character is best demonstrated by how you treat those who can do nothing for you. Therefore, these incidences are a reflection of a character flaw that many people may be unaware they exhibit. I’m sure I am not exempt from this – a lapse in my communication may have left someone else feeling brushed off or belittled at one point or another. In an effort to put an end to unprofessional communication, I want to examine the following key points to shed light on why this is such a critical problem:

The importance of always being professional

It’s a small world. We all know the meaning of this phrase as we have likely had the experience of running into contacts again and again through similar circles or completely unrelated circumstances. This is a reminder to me every day that my reputation is my most valuable business asset. Whether you live in a big city or a small town, you can’t afford to burn bridges if you want to be successful in your career. Nothing slows down business growth faster. The importance of always being professional when communicating with customers or vendors is realizing that you may very likely have to deal with them again. Don’t ignore this important lesson! Most of the unprofessional communicators I’ve had to deal with have popped up in my life again, needing information or services from me – often with their tail tucked between their legs.

Identifying the subtle negatives

Sometimes the worst communication experiences are hard to identify because they’re subtle, yet leave you with an overall feeling of hurt, frustration or anger. It may be hard to pinpoint the exact reasons the conversation was so unpleasant, but the feeling it leaves you with is real nonetheless. The subtle negatives I’ve most often identified have involved someone exerting their power or position to make me feel dumb or incorrect about an answer I have provided. Another common subtle negative is someone being bossy or aggressive in their tone and in the type of services they demand. In less subtle situations, I’ve had people outright yell at me, hang up the phone or threaten me in various ways (chalk this up to some good old political campaign experience). Most often negative communication can be identified in someone’s tone and word choice. Even if you have something negative you must communicate – and this does happen – there are various ways to still make it a positive communication experience overall. There’s no excuse.

Letting someone know when they’re being unprofessional

This is a difficult subject to breach. No one wants to directly confront someone else about their attitude or negativity because it can be, well…scary. We’re more willing to put up with the unprofessionalism and belittlement than we are willing to tell someone they’re just being rude. The risk is that we end up looking rude in return or that we anger them even more and the communication further declines. If the negative communication is subtle and you’re not sure if they even know they’re coming across this way, it’s important to handle the situation softly, but directly. Let them know that it’s how they’re making you feel rather than accusing them of being outright mean. No one can argue with how you feel and hopefully even if they don’t want to recognize that their actions are causing this, they will at least be professional enough to make an effort to change. On the other extreme, if someone is being unprofessional to the point of yelling or insulting you, then you must also address this directly, but more firmly. Identify specific examples in which their communication is unacceptable (swearing, yelling and hanging up a phone are never acceptable in my mind) and let them know that you will have to cut off further communication if they can’t approach the situation more professionally. Hopefully such instances are rare, but it’s important to know how to speak up to put and end to it.

They key concept worth taking away from all of this is that character is best demonstrated by how you treat those who can do nothing for you. Negativity is never acceptable even if you realize you’re “only” dealing with an office administrator, assistant or intern. Most often, these are the gatekeepers for who you really want to be talking to. As I said before, it’s a small world, so be sure to be kind and professional to everyone you encounter. It truly takes no more (maybe even less) effort than it does to be rude and when the world connects you with them again you’ll be glad you have a friend, not a burnt bridge, to work with.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Life Is Only As Complicated As We Make It

Is your digging making a mountain or a molehill?

Is all that digging making a mountain or a molehill?

We’ve all encountered them – people who seem to take even the most simple task or situation and smother it with complex scenarios and complicating questions. Maybe we are them. Chances are good that these people live with a lot of unnecessary stress and worry as well as spreading this stress and worry to others. How complicated we choose to make things has the power to completely change the experience we get out of life. Personal responsibilities, career goals, organizing and planning even the simplest things can become arduous, overwhelming tasks if we allow these molehills to grow into mountains. But let’s dig a little deeper. How do mountains turn into molehills if not without the help of us shoveling on piles and piles of dirt to grow (and complicate) the situation? Just as much as we hold the tools to make life complicated, we also hold the tools to make it simple. The more we value the simplicity of life, the more likely we are to apply this value toward how we live, work and interact with others.  I want to now outline just a few critical areas in which I feel like so many people choose to make life far more complicated than it needs to be – and with that, pile on stress and frustration unnecessarily. As you read on, I urge you to ask yourself how familiar these scenarios sound to you:

Mountains and mole hills

It’s a common phrase – “Making a mountain out of a molehill” – and though we know it and use it often, it never seems to stick as a life lesson we should learn to apply personally. Simply put, don’t make things more complicated than they need to be! I had a teacher first tell me about the K.I.S. principle or “Keep It Simple.” She didn’t want us to turn in a 10-page report if all the necessary information could be expressed in 3 pages. Our time was not best spent writing this nor was her time best spent grading this. Based on some of the people I encounter in both business and in life, I can tell they did not have a teacher who valued the K.I.S. principle. I fondly refer to them as “over-communicators.” They’re the people who require 2 phone calls and 3 follow-up emails to you before they feel a point has been clearly communicated. Dealing with such communicators is insulting because they don’t feel you’re capable of fully grasping a concept, just because they can’t. Furthermore it’s frustrating because they inevitably take up more of your time and energy than they’re worth. Don’t be an over-communicator and this begins with putting down the shovel and walking away while it’s still a mole hill.

Less complicated doesn’t mean less thoughtful

Believe it or not, the simple answer can be the right answer. I know we’re wired to think that if it’s too simple it must be missing some element or overlooking some critical aspect. I’ve learned this to be very flawed thinking. While some things may be “too good to be true,” I have not had the same experience with things being “too simple to be right.” In fact, the simplest answers are often the best answers, but we only land on these long after we have exhausted our far more complicated options. The most important point I can make here is to simply stop second guessing your judgment or the judgment of others you know to be capable.

Add value without adding complications

Making a situation more complicated does not mean you’re more invested in a project than someone who is trying to keep it simple. As someone who actively seeks out the most simple and straightforward answer, I often feel like sometimes this makes people think I’m looking for the easy way out. While ease can often accompany simplicity, laziness is an entirely separate motivator. The energy I save in handling a situation simply, I reallocate to another area of the project to make it even more exceptional. I don’t “get out” of any work, per se. Instead I invest it back into areas that unexpectedly require more of my time. For those who over-communicate and like to complicate matters as a way to prove their worth to a project, this is easy to identify and even easier to see through. If you’re insecure with the value you’re bringing to the table, don’t compensate by making the job harder for someone else. Both in life and in business, we’re all in this together. We certainly don’t need to start throwing dirt into each other’s piles.

In my final comments, I’ll keep it simple. Embrace that life is only as complicated as we choose to make it. We all have shovels in which we can choose to either pile dirt on our molehills or dig it away from our mountains.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 816 other followers

%d bloggers like this: