Do you make lemonade?

January 16, 2010 at 2:20 PM | Posted in change, goals, opportunities | Leave a comment
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Some of you know I was going to run a training session today.  Fri. morning the class was cancelled. Not because of participants, there were plenty of those. But because of some last minute scheduling issues. The scheduler and the location had a miscommunication, at the last minute the class had to be cancelled.

I had my Saturday planned around the class and was looking forward to meeting a group of local solo-preneurs. The training was going to address many of the topics I address with my clients on a daily basis.

The great news is that time opened up for other things on Fri. and Saturday. Yet, I felt badly for the folks that had signed up for the class. It had been on their calendars for quite a while and now at the last minute it was cancelled.

I decided to make lemonade out of lemons- is that the right saying?? The point is I wanted to figure out another way to share this information with group. I put together a conference call for a few days later, sent an email to the group and folks are already responding to come to the conference call.

What originally felt like a bad thing has now turned around to something great. The conference call is open to the entire group- not just the folks that originally signed up, I still get to meet some wonderful people and share information I know they can use.

That’s the beauty and the challenge of being a solo-preneur- you can either accept a situation that doesn’t feel good or you can find a way to turn it into something great. Either way it is up to YOU.

This goes directly to your attitude. Think opportunity; believe there is opportunity regardless of the situation. All you have to do is identify the opportunity and a way to make it happen.

Your attitude makes all the difference. If you are thinking about opportunities, not in an obsessive-compulsive way, but in a way that leaves you open to change, they will certainly show up. When the training class was cancelled I immediately started to think about how I could get information to the attendees and still have a bit of interaction with them. WALA! The conference call was born!

I’m looking forward to the conference call; to meeting the solo-preneurs and sharing information that will help grow their business. I made lemonade! Join me at the lemonade stand?

Change your assumptions

January 13, 2010 at 5:16 PM | Posted in change, goals, opportunities | 2 Comments
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I was talking to my coach today, as a business owner I have a coach. Her insights, intuition, ability to push me and test my ideas are truly invaluable.

I was wrestling with a decision this morning and contacted my coach for some assistance. We discussed the decision, potential outcomes, drawbacks, etc. and assumptions. That is the key word- assumptions. I realized that I was using a very limited set of assumptions to attempt to make the decision.

Note I was making assumptions. I was taking something for granted, specifically that certain events had to follow one another in a very specific order. That assumption was making my decision very difficult. My coach challenged me to change the assumption. After all, I wasn’t using facts I was just guessing.

As soon as I changed my assumption my attitude about the entire decision changed.   All of a sudden it was much easier to see a very positive outcome and the fit within my business.

I didn’t have to check my assumptions with other people, to make sure that they met other goals; I had the power to change my assumption. We don’t always have the luxury of changing our assumptions without checking with others. That is, also, the beauty of assumptions- you can go find the information so your assumption is no longer a guess- you then have a fact with which to work.

Back to my morning decision-

I changed my assumption and it felt like an entire world opened up to me. Do you have assumptions you could change? Look at things from a different perspective. Turn your assumption upside down. Maybe there is a much easier way of getting from point A to point B- there certainly was for me!

What’s In It For Me?

January 11, 2010 at 1:36 PM | Posted in content, leadership, writer's block | 1 Comment
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When I am working with clients they usually want to talk about big, broad topics. Social media, marketing, building their business….

As their coach I find I always need to do some digging. While a client might not understand how to use social media there may be more fundamental issues at stake. Have they identified their target market, have they determined what their greatest benefit is to their client? What about consistency? Do you have a client with great big ideas that has trouble focusing on a particular goal for more than a short time?

Even clients who have been successful for years may need to reexamine some of these issues to make sure they are still on target.

Let’s look specifically at WIFM- What’s In It For Me. Me isn’t You, Me is your client.  What is important to your client? What benefits do you offer them? What differentiates you from every other speaker or coach out there?

This is the information that attracts clients to you. Everyone wants to know how you can help him or her – specifically. What can you do for me?  Write your tweets, your website, your advertising copy with your client (a meeting planner…) in mind.

Everyone else seems capable of doing this- grocery stores advertise sales, Macy’s has 40% off of shoes, Lowes Home Improvement offers 50% off of tools. As service providers we seem to have difficulty sharing exactly what our benefit is to the client.

Instead some of us spend our time telling clients how many degrees we have and how fabulous we are. Yes, that will convince some clients to sign up but they still want to know how you can help them. They don’t necessarily care that you will use Myers Briggs or Tilt. They do care that you can help them identify traits that will make them a stronger more successful leader; that you have a Mastermind group they can participate in; that you have a message their audience wants to hear.

When you write copy think about what you want to know as a customer. Sometimes it’s difficult to put yourself in that space so ask a friend. Your assistant, your spouse even an existing client might help you find the exact words. Look at some of your testimonials- what are your clients saying they value about your work? Those are benefits. For some it’s their heart, maybe it’s your tough love with a side of compassion.

Let everyone know how you are different and how you can benefit him or her. You’ll be glad you did!

Great content, sales pitch or both?

January 6, 2010 at 8:14 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I dialed in to a teleconference today. Many of us use free teleconferences to build an audience, promote an upcoming event, and share information and a bit of ourselves with potential clients. They are a wonderful, proven tool.

I was curious. The teleconference I dialed in to was given by someone I had never listened to or really heard of before- although she claimed to have hundreds of clients.  I thought this would be a good way to learn more about her and her content before I invested significant time and money with her.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed. The experience did raise an important topic for me. I strongly believe we need to provide high value- high quality, high content- products to our clients. Even if the products are FREE.  After all, everything we do is a reflection of who and what we are.

Today’s teleconference was about 60 minutes long. The first 20 mins. the leader (I won’t disclose her name) spent a few (3 or 4) minutes introducing herself then spent the rest of the time talking about her fabulous upcoming course. The following 20 minutes included the actual content of the call.  There was no drill down or detailed explanation of even one of the points. The final 20 mins. was another push for you to sign up for her upcoming course.

I understand that we use teleconferences to promote upcoming events and we all have to make a buck. In this case a full 2/3rds of the call was spent on promotion and the content left a lot to be desired.

I tried to look at this from the perspective of a potential customer AND as someone who holds teleconferences.

As a customer my primary interest is the content of the call- not the sales pitch. I don’t mind a sales pitch. I might even be really interested after I hear some great content.  But please don’t hit me right away with the sale, sure you can mention that you’ll talk about the event, give me a few choice tidbits but leave it at that. I’m here for the content first! After you’ve provided some great content I’m happy to listen to the event information for 10- 15 minutes- 20 minutes was over the top. I have even signed up for events I’ve heard about on free teleconferences.

As a presenter you simply must keep your audience in mind all of the time. I don’t know any audience members that dial in just to hear a sales pitch when the title of the teleconference is Top 5 Ways to Create the Perfect Cake!

Provide great content, share some information about an upcoming event and the attendees will come.

The King of Bursts of Action

January 4, 2010 at 11:36 AM | Posted in goals, time management | Leave a comment
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I was listening to an old Susan Hite radio showBuild Up to Breakthrough April 18, 2009, and it really drove home the need for consistent action. We frequently hear about folks that are an ‘overnight success’. Rarely is there anything ‘overnight’ about their success.

If you dig into the stories you find they have been chugging away at some business or idea for years and, suddenly, it broke through to the mainstream. Another thing I’ve found is that the latest ‘overnight success’ worked 20 hours a day for the last 6 months to create their ‘overnight’ success, to the detriment of relationships, health etc.

There are some individuals who go from nothing to magnificent over night and they are very, very rare. We all dream of being that person! Who knows it might be you!

Most of us must Build Up to Breakthrough- a term Jim Collins uses in his book Good to Great. Consistent, steady, focused action over a period of time will lead to the results you desire. The keys are:

  • consistent action
  • steady action
  • and a well defined goal

One of my clients was the King of Bursts of Action. (Note: This is not a title you should strive to achieve!) He did have well defined goals. For 3 days he would work like crazy to reach his goal. Then he was off to the next goal. He never followed through on the actions to reach the original goal.

Spurts of action don’t create the momentum with your clients, the name recognition with meeting planners or the consistency needed to reach your goal. They do create a sense of failure and a herky jerky feeling to your work that can be exhausting.

The ‘King’ changed his plan of attack. He started focusing on his original goal, created a plan of action that he followed over an extended period of time. His actions were consistent and focused. Within a relatively short amount of time he started to see results. He had a strong sense of accomplishment and found that he could continue following through with actions to meet the original goal while implementing actions to meet another goal. He even up-leveled his original goal!

He was utilizing his time in a more effective, efficient manner, seeing results and feeling a strong sense of accomplishment. Now he is the King of Consistent, Steady Action. (Note: This IS a title you should strive to achieve!)

The consistent, steady action he takes creates the build up that leads to his breakthrough. It’s a similar concept to getting ready for a large test. You can prepare a bit at a time over a few weeks or you can cram for 8 hours the night before the big exam. Cramming leaves you exhausted, stressed out, drained and certainly doesn’t ensure a positive outcome on the test. Studying just a few hours a week over time helps ensure that you digest the information, decreases stress and you don’t have to pull an all nighter!

My personal choice is steady, consistent action. Build Up to Breakthrough!

I have nothing to say!?

December 29, 2009 at 3:33 PM | Posted in opportunities, writer's block | Leave a comment
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What do you do about writer’s block??!! Could it possibly be that I have nothing to say? NOTHING!!?

I doubt it, but I find myself sitting down to write after a week of family and fun feeling like I don’t have a single thing to share.

I guess I just found a topic I can write about! How do you handle writer’s block? Even if it is temporary, 1 day, 2 days… it can feel like it will never end.

I have tried a few things that seem to work-

  • Write about something you are thinking about it – even if it is the color of the car or how dirty the car is- just getting words to flow will start to release the tension.
  • Write about something you are passionate about- it might not have anything to do with the current task on which you are blocked but, again, it starts the flow (a few months ago I babbled on about going to the airport and the next day the writer’s block was gone).
  • Just walk away and STOP worrying about it! I know it sounds impossible. Again, it’s about relaxing.
  • Maybe, just maybe you should be writing about something else. I realize that’s not helpful if you have an assignment and are blocked on the topic. Try sitting down to see what does flow. I’ve had moments when something else was just burning to flow out of the pen (keyboard). Let it flow out, don’t bother to edit or perfect the content. In my case, and a clients’, as soon as that information made it to the page the assigned content came easily.

(It turns out the content that was ‘in the way’ turned into a fabulous article!)

Those are a few ideas that have worked for my clients’ and me. I’d love to hear what has worked for you! Share your thoughts.

There was a little growling, and a lot of wary circling…

December 23, 2009 at 9:21 PM | Posted in change | Leave a comment
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I’ve been watching my dogs try to adjust to the visiting puppy creating mayhem in the house. There is a little bit of growling, a lot of wary circling, no sleeping (because you have to watch every move the new puppy makes), little trust in her antics and a whole lot of basic upset.

This got me thinking about how I adapt to change. IF I adapt to change. I’d like to think I adapt well to change. I will warily circle around it until I figure out what it might mean and how the change will affect my business or personal life. Sometimes I don’t trust what’s happening until I do some investigating and, on occasion, there has been some pretty big upset.

My upset is usually short lived. It only lasts as long as it takes me to figure out WHY I am upset. After all, we are all wary of losing control and, many times, change represents some lose of control. The question you need to ask is- How do I regain control?

Not control in the – I MUST maintain control over every aspect of every piece of my life!!! sense. But the kind of control that allows you to make educated decisions, to focus on things you can influence and to make the best of what might feel like a tricky situation. Sometimes that is all you can ask for.

Adaptability and releasing control are things I have learned. They are wonderful skills and are easier for some to learn than others. I call them skills because you can learn them. These two skills have made a tremendous difference in situations that I would, at one time, have found intolerable. Now, I simply roll with the flow, find ways to do with what I have. I always presume something positive will develop.

I try to instill that same mindset with my clients.

1. You can become more adaptable and release control
2. You do need to work at it
3. Staying adaptable and flexible will always take awareness if it’s not part of your natural personality
4. It WILL get easier
5. It is SO VERY worth it!

Everything becomes just a bit easier when you allow the Universe to take some of the responsibility for running things smoothly.

Do you just give up and stop trying? Of course not. Take directed action, dot all of the I’s and cross all of the T’s, allow that it might not go exactly to plan and that is ok. There are far worse things that could happen than your plan going askew.

Realizing that an unscheduled change in my plans was not a disaster, rather simply a speed bump to be adapted to, allowed me a tremendous sense of freedom. Suddenly I didn’t have to worry about the tiniest detail, if there is only 1 color of Sharpie available for my speech I will certainly find a way to adapt.

If just the thought of relinquishing control and happily adapting to a change makes you shudder with dismay I encourage you to take another look. Maybe you could benefit from releasing a bit of control? I know I did.

Baby, (I’m grateful) for the cold outside!

December 21, 2009 at 9:46 AM | Posted in gratitude, opportunities | 2 Comments
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Baby, is cold outside! Here in North Carolina it was 20 degrees Fahrenheit when I let the dogs out this morning. Cold enough to make me want to crawl back into bed!

Instead, I took a moment to appreciate the cold. The way my breath curled into beautiful strands of mist in the early morning sunlight. The quiet of the woods, the crunch of leaves, frost on the windows. As long as I know I can go inside to feel warm and cozy the trappings of a cold day are beautiful.

If I didn’t have a warm place to go I imagine the cold day would be more of a challenge than a work of art. I was reminded, again, to be grateful. I am grateful for the roof over my head, for the heat, the food on my table, all of the things that make daily life possible.

I am also grateful for my business. My clients, the flexibility I have because I work for myself, the fact that I do something I love every day, the knowledge that I can help someone create the business and life they want… I could go on but you get the idea.

It may sound airy fairy, but five minutes spent looking at all of the good things about your business can completely change your attitude for the rest of the day. You shift into a more positive frame of mind that allows you to approach everything from that perspective.

You might not have as many clients as you would like, but you have clients. You might not have made your quarterly sales goals, but you made sales. You didn’t make the 10 calls you wanted to make yesterday, but you made 8 of them. Focus on what has gone well and what is going well.

This is a wonderful time of year to take a few minutes and be grateful, for everything you have in your business and personal life. I encourage you to make this a daily habit. First thing in the morning, before you log on to your computer, as your pouring your morning cup of coffee- just breath and be grateful. Make a list in your head of everything you appreciate. The list might include many of the same items every day and that’s ok. My list always includes the dogs and my ‘significant other’.

If you’re really feeling adventurous do a bit of dreaming. How would it feel to have all of the speaking engagements you want? To have your client calendar full 4 weeks in advance? To double your sales numbers for the quarter?

I am grateful for all of YOU!!

What can we learn from an Army Navy gathering?

December 15, 2009 at 1:33 PM | Posted in leadership | Leave a comment
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Saturday I went to a gathering of alumni from the U. S. Naval Academy and West Point held for the Army Navy game. If you’re not familiar with the service academies this is the biggest game of the year and there is no love lost between the groups.

Those of you familiar with the Ohio/Michigan rivalry in college football know the nature of the rivalry.

It’s a good-natured rivalry but there isn’t much mixing at the gatherings.
Why am I writing about a college football rivalry? What does it have to do with speakers, entrepreneurs and authors?

The Naval Academy and West Point groom leaders. These are the future leaders of the US Navy, Army and Marine Corp. You are a leader. I saw something at the Army Navy gathering we can all learn from.

After the game, Navy won (I will admit to being a Navy fan!), a Naval Academy graduate went over to a table of more than 10 West Point graduates and asked if he could join them. Not to rub it in but to get to know them better. They very graciously invited him to join them.

While there was some good-natured ribbing, they discovered common ground among the people around the table. They identified common interests, common backgrounds, a love of family and friends. By the time the Naval Academy graduate left the West Point table he had made new friends. A common respect had been established between all of the men. Plans were discussed to get together for the Army Navy Lacrosse game in the spring.

It might not be a monumental breakthrough or a global shift in politics, but all of these individuals exhibited leadership traits. They all were open to a different point of view; to reaching out to someone they didn’t know, didn’t understand and just might learn from. They were willing to open their minds to the possibility that their ‘opponent’ might have great traits and become a friend.

We can all exhibit these traits. People are watching, individuals learn from our actions. Shouldn’t we, as leaders, strive to create common ground with ‘opponents’ to create collaboration? To reach across invisible boundaries?

I should clarify; simply behaving a certain way can easily come across as disingenuous. We need to embrace these traits. Truly live as leaders, not only when we are in public, but all of the time.

For me, it was another great reminder to always remain open to differing opinions regardless of the situation I am in.

Remove the clutter, open to Opportunity

December 10, 2009 at 3:28 PM | Posted in opportunities | 2 Comments
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I’ve been busy removing clutter from my office. Things that have accumulated from previous roles seemed to be everywhere. Information I am no longer using, or that could be found in electronic form was taking up space where new information could go.

I’ve found that when I remove clutter from a space, or from my mind, I open up to numerous opportunities. There is something about creating a blank space that allows creativity to flow. If I’m no longer focusing on something in that space it seems that something else something with new positive power and forward momentum always fills it up.

Recently I let go of many of the ‘shoulds’ I heard I just HAD to do to have a successful business. The immediate affect was a sense of relief, a weight lifted off of my shoulders. I was no longer trying to live up to what everyone else said I ‘should’ do, instead I was finding the things that worked for ME and putting them into action.

Guess what happened? I felt great and business improved! And continues to improve!

As a speaker and a coach, even as an entrepreneur, authenticity is so important to how we are received by others. How authentic can you be if you are always working on someone else’s ‘shoulds’?

Now, I’m doing the yearly office cleaning. Opening space for new information, new opportunities, new growth!

Out with the Old. I am so grateful for what the Old has taught me, how it has focused my business, and what I learned from it. I am ready to take those learnings and move forward to new opportunities. Are you?

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