Building Your Business

When I say your ‘business’ I mean whether you HAVE a business or whether you ARE the business. Today, being prepared for changes is what required.

I work with several entrepreneurs and meet with new ones regularly. It is such a joy because each one is excited about their business. They have energy and a hunger to learn and grow. It is infectious and wonderful.

Many of them, like me, have had plenty of ups and downs. In fact, most of them will experience more downturns that they believe they can stand! What separates a successful ‘business owners’ from the unsuccessful, is flexibility. The ability to pivot.

So how do each of us, whether we starting a business, reinventing ourselves or invigorating our career, take the “just do it” train?

Ideas are easy to come by, in fact, very easy. What’s not easy is making that idea into a business (or career) that works. Here are some rules for navigating the terrain:

  1. Build skills. In my corporate years, I looked for assignments that would allow me to learn new, specific skills.
  2. Try on different roles. Find ways to test out various roles, tasks, assignments. Volunteer, talk to your boss, be specific about what you want.
  3. Fail fast. This one sounds the worst. Most of us don’t want to ‘fail’ at all. What we don’t realize is that we learn the most from our failures. It is what propels us to do new and better. It is what helps us learn quickly and meaningfully.

Are  you excited about your work? Do you wake up ready to learn? If not, perhaps it’s time to pivot.

Photo Credit: Empowering Startup 

Boredom: Wishful or Wasteful?

so tired. need 2 go 2 bed in anticipation of 80 mi ride 2morrow then date w new boytoy...<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Bought $500 of bike gear today! mostly bike shorts and stuff. Also, went swimming for first time in about 2 months. </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Took it easy, swan really slow and then...

“We are supposed to be bored. It is a part of life. Learn to put up with it…”  Jack Kerouac

I grew up quickly, in a family of alcoholics. This meant that when other kids were playing or having ‘summer’, I was worrying about food, safety, ‘taking care of other people’.

It is with great pleasure that I report that I am currently exploring the joy of boredom. The “not doing”, the “not having to do”, the “that can wait until later.” I may appear to be sitting around, but I am not doing nothing. My brain is working through ideas. It’s the quiet that we allow ourselves in boredom that feeds our creativity.

Now you might disagree. “Boredom is a sign of weakness.”  “There are so many wonderful things to explore.”

Whichever side you’re on; take a minute to “not do” when you have the chance. Here’s a quiz:

The reason people often have good ideas in the shower is:

  1. the water
  2. the soap
  3. the quiet
  4. all of the above

If we want to improve our problem solving ability and creativity, maybe we ought to sit around more and ‘think’ less.

Photo Credit: Day 151   SuperFantastic

Black & White & You All Over

Some people say that the world is falling apart. Some say it’s never been better.

What do you say?

No really, what do you say? Everyday… do you reflect the “getting better” or the “falling apart”? The truth often shows itself in subtle ways.

Yesterday I was at the dog park. I asked one of the people I often see there, what she’d been up to? She said she’d been on vacation at a nearby lake . I said, “Well you had beautiful weather.”  She replied, “Well, it was a little chilly somedays, not as hot as we wanted.”

Really, I thought? You got to go on vacation. and. you. say. that?

We live in a world of labels. Your politics are this, mine are that. Your  religion is this, mine is that (or worse, I don’t have one). You come from this country, I come from that.

Information overload has made it easier to be polarized. What can we do? Sometimes it’s in our nature to be a negative Nelly. If you’re a curmudgeon then fine; you’re off the hook. But I’ll bet you’re not. I’ll bet you want to be happier.

Just for today, try not to think in black and white. Try the grey. Maybe the person who cut you off in traffic has a sick child. Maybe the person at work who drives you crazy is lonely. You don’t have fix any of these things;  just adjust your attitude.

If you think, I could never be a democrat, a catholic, a republican, a Jew and on and on… Think about why not. The truth is, we are more alike than different. Let their peace on earth and let it begin with me.

Photo credit:  Flying Twigs

 

Anything Worthwhile Will Take a Long Time

We live in a hurry-up world so I think it’s discouraging for many of us that the world is not a ‘better’ place.  We feel helpless when we don’t know what to do to fix things.  This is a reflection of how much information we have about the 7 BILLION people who live on our planet. 100 years ago, we knew a lot about our block but not that much about the next city, state or country. Positive change requires effort and patience. To highlight this, think about; “Presence is far more intricate and rewarding … than productivity.” We focus a lot on productivity (I’m all for that) … I’m suggesting we spend time thinking about how we present ourselves in the world.

The reality is we may be limited in our ability to change things quickly, but there are things we can do:

  1. improve our personal awareness (strengths,weaknesses)
  2. establish a personal presence that truly reflects our values and unique perspective (without being rigid)
  3. have faith in ourselves
  4. take small steps towards improving the world – get involved in something!
  5. listen more, talk less
  6. be kind

For today, maybe you could read something that takes some effort and reach out to someone who needs support. Other than being present for those you love, do what you are called to do today. If you’re not sure, you might just need to be quiet and be patient. Two things we are short on in this hurry-up world.

I found the quote in the picture in an article titled,  7 Life Long Learnings from 7 Years of Brain Picking. Check out Brain Pickings.

Do you know Debbie Millman? She’s a writer, educator, artist, brand consultant and host of a radio/podcast show Design Matters. Check her out too.

photo credit: Israel Smith

Shiny Objects: Necessary Distractions

Focus and distraction. Two sides of the productivity coin. If we are never distracted, then we are robotic. We go through life blindly doing the things we think we’re supposed to. If we are too distracted, we fumble around. I’m certain you can find 100 articles on improving your productivity through better focus.

This post isn’t about productivity, it’s about the power of distraction.

Last year I wrote a post about the power of NOT having goals and now I’m going to sing the praises of being distracted, to being less “productive,” or should I should say less productive towards a goal. (Stay with me, I really am going to relate these 2 things.)

Most of us have some kind of goal; the older and more settled we are, the more specific they might become, e.g. if you have children, you might start saving for their education. And most of us have plenty of distractions. But do we have “productive distractions.” The kind that fill us up instead of wear us down.

Check out this TED talk by Kathy Shaloub on the Power of Distraction.

Photo credit: my friend Jane from her FB page, the NewYorker, Walsh

You’re A Genius … In Your Own Way

File:Albert Einstein Head.jpg

Everyone is gifted, but some people never open their package...” Anonymous

Albert Einstein (the inventor of the bed head hairdo) is a recognized worldwide as a genius. Reading through his life story, you will see that he was pretty “flaky.” But in his field, there was no one more advanced. Did he know he was a genius? Did he fret about all the things he couldn’t do?

Each of us is a bit like him. It’s always easier to see the ‘spark of genius’ in others. He’s such a leader, she’s so athletic, he’s a great cook, etc.

In the Nine Different Types of Intelligence, I see myself in a couple of categories. I look forward to using this list to remind myself of ‘where I shine.’

Some are better known:

  • Logical//Mathematical – Beep… I missed this train although I do pride myself on my common sense. Math.. not so much.
  • Spatial – Yeah, you know, people who can see things in pictures when the rest of us are standing there going huh?
  • Linguistic – Ok, now we’re talking… cross word puzzles, writing, reading… yeah, I finally get one!
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic – Also known as athletic, you know that person… they are graceful on land, on sea, in the air. (Nope not me)
  • Musical – I think this is the most interesting one because music is cultural. What sounds like music to Tibetan or Japanese might sound odd to Western ears. I think this one deserves wide application. (I know a lot of song lyrics… does that count?)

Here are a few less common ones that I like:

  • Naturalistic – people who connect with animals… my daughter Jenna is one of those people. Animals, any animal, gravitate to her like she’s bacon.
  • Interpersonal – people who ‘get’ other people… and can sense the mood and temperament of others and adjust.

Here are some I just made up (but are probably on other lists):

  • Mechanical – yeah, I missed this train
  • Geo-spatial – my gyroscope is and always has been broken
  • Cooking/gardening- this might sound funny and maybe it’s baked into one of these others but don’t you know someone who just does these things naturally and always has? -This doesn’t mean gourmet or fancy. It’s just that they shine.
  • Color – My brother is a color expert.

I’m sure the list could go on and on. My point is that’s not important which of these you have, only that you recognize which ones and celebrate them, Just for today, pick one, even if you’re not 100% sure you’re a genius in it, and praise yourself.

False modesty serves no one. Enjoy your gifts, whether society appreciates them or not. They are what make you, you. The world needs you just the way you are.

Photo credit: Albert Einstein

Where Are You Today: In the Future or the Past?

http://www.carolinebakker.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/dalai-lama-humanity-surprise-1024x512.jpg

My hope is that each of us takes a minute every day to breathe in and out a few times. Today is all we have.

I Don’t Know You, Why Should I Help You?

Why do these people look happy? They look like they’re doing the dreaded “networking.”  I’ve learned to appreciate the power of networking, but I still don’t like it.

The interviewer or connection you need something from, won’t appreciate that cold call. So, unless you are super charismatic, you will need practice at ferreting out a way to make yourself valuable to others, because at least 50% (probably much higher) get their job from a referral.

Try using these tools to help build your value to others:

1) LinkedIn – If you have a few hundred connections, be sure to search the contact’s name there. You might be pleasantly surprised the connections you share. If you don’t have a few hundred connections… you are missing a big opportunity to help others and get help when you need it. There are eBooks, online classes and many other ways to learn how to use the single best tool for business connections. I work to a) always be building my connections, b) contribute to the overall beneficial information there. Then when you need it; it will be there for you.

2) Say thank you. Often. Be grateful. Everyday.

People like to be around happy, confident, interesting people. If you’re in a difficult place. Fake it ’til you make it.

3) The Go-Giver is a wonderful little book that helps inspire us to give to get. Not sure what to give, how to give, when to give? Try this book or find a podcast or YouTube video that helps you learn how to give (what comes easily to you) to those who can use it.

Why should I help you? Make that answer a no-brainer.

Photo credit: TelecomHub Shashi

Single Best Piece of Career Advice

People at all stages of their careers look for work that ‘fits’. But most of us don’t know how to find it. This is as good an assessment tool as I have seen. The intersection of these 4 things is probably where you’ll be productive and happy.

1. What you’re good at (Ability)
2. What makes money (Financial security)
3. What helps others/society (Altruism)
4. What you enjoy

This is why when you go to a career counselor, they give you some tests and talk to you about your goals, what you like to do in general, etc. They don’t start with… what do you want to do for a living?

For many of us, we’re pretty good at #4. We’re sketchy on #1 and pretty clueless where the intersection of #1 and #4 meet #2.

This is why we need to try new things. But most of us get hung up at a very young age on #2 and then end up miserable. Sometimes this is our own fault. We don’t live within our means so we get used to spending and having ‘stuff’. If you want to make money — great. But finding the intersection of all of these is not easy for most of us.

Also, we are very quick to judge others (and ourselves) when it comes to careers (and lots of other stuff). Just for today, try to look at a career path in new way. Which of these 4 are you working on?

Reminder of my 3 criteria for how I spend my time: 1) am I having fun? 2) am I learning? 3) am I appreciated?

 

The basis of this post came from: Yermie Cohen’s dad (med student, engineer, start up founder) Quora.com

Photo Credit: 42 to Know about 42

 

 

I Hate Being A GrownUp

One of the good things about about being a grown up is that you get to choose when you act/think like a kid. The problem is that many of us never choose that path, even for a few minutes. Once we’re grown up, we think it’s wrong to be silly or color outside the lines. This is a shame.

The older we get the more invested we are in ‘the same'; what Seth Godin calls lizard brain. Our prehistoric need to stay in the cave, “to back off, be careful, go slow, compromise.”

The idea is to live our lives according to what we (and our loved ones) need at the time.  This doesn’t mean I have to work at this job or this career forever. Just right now.

People forget this. They also forget that they can change their minds. I am not recommending arbitrarily job hopping. But trying several different paths to build skills and ‘try things on’ is a legitimate path – AT ANY AGE.

The problem is the judgement of other people, specifically our fear of it. When I requested and got approval (in 1984) to manage my team while working part time, many of my colleagues were upset. Here’s what they said; “why does she get to?” “she can’t be serious about your career” and my favorite “I wish I could do that.” Blah, blah, blah. I showed them how to do it, they were too afraid. That’s cool. You do it your way and I’ll do it mine.

But if you think you can go your own way and not face judgement from others, stop. it. right. now. Accept the fact that for whatever human reason, the pack doesn’t like lone wolves. If you choose a path that isn’t like everyone else’s, people are going to be upset and many will let you know.

Insofar as you can (and still pay your bills) stop thinking/worrying about what everyone else wants/thinks. You will NEVER please everyone so you might as well please yourself.  For me, this was a tough lesson, but once I learned it… I was free forever.

It’s hell in the hallway but the difficulty doesn’t last forever. But when you’re in the hallway… it sure feels like it will.

Want a laugh? check out my daughter Jenna’s take on ‘grownuphood” (alert: fbombs & other foul language included)

Photo credit: Why Do We Work?