Janna's Blog Article

Have you ever seen a dog follow a rabbit trail? The dog endlessly sniffs around in circles, never getting anywhere. And it seldom catches the rabbit!
 
A rabbit trail in business is that path you go down that wasn’t on your meeting agenda or your plan for the day. These rabbit trails can jeopardize a project’s completion, a business’s success, and an employee’s ability to get things done.
 
Meetings often take us down a rabbit trail when participants discuss anything but the scheduled agenda. On the other hand, some rabbit trails create the best ideas for the organization! The challenge is determining which rabbit trails are productive and which are not.
 
Below are recommendations for handling rabbit trails without losing the value the trail might provide for your family business.
 
1.  Always have an agenda for meetings, even if the agenda is created as the meeting begins. What is the objective? How long should the meeting take? How will new topics be handled? Who will keep the meeting on track? These are foundational questions that should be considered prior to every meeting.
 
2. Always bring the discussion back to the topic at hand. Utilize the concept of a parking lot. As discussions unfold, you “park” items not on the agenda that might need to be addressed, but not in this meeting.
 
3.  Set clear and intentional priorities. 
  • If you are running the meeting, keep it focused on the task at hand. This doesn’t mean you don’t give team members new projects; it just means you may (depending on the individual) need to help them prioritize their activities.
  • If you are an employee and the boss suggests a new idea, ask where it ranks among the goals already set for the company and the priorities she set for you earlier in the week (or earlier in the day). Ask questions, and get clarification.
  • Understand the old Mark Twain concept of “eat a frog for breakfast.” Essentially, focus on the most difficult thing you need to do first thing in the morning. Then you will have accomplished the hardest thing early and the rest of the day is available for all other activities— including rabbit trails if they can’t be avoided.
4. Set aside time for brainstorming on a regular basis. True brainstorming combines a relaxed, informal approach to problem solving with lateral thinking. This process can lead to some of the best business-growth ideas—and those aren’t rabbit trails.
 
Once you know that a rabbit trail can provide value, you can take the time to explore all that it has to offer.
 
Excerpted from The Backpacker's Guide To Business Success by Janna Hoiberg.
 
 
If money were no issue, how would you spend your time? Would you get up and go to the same job each day? Change jobs? Would you sit around and watch TV? Would you give more to the community? Spend more time with family?
 
In the past few weeks there have been a number of articles and social media posts regarding retirement. Most likely the frequency isn't up, yet my awareness has been heightened. I have seen comments by those who say that they never plan to retire, that retirement is the biggest mistake they have made, or that they fear they can never retire due to finances.
 
To me "retirement" is one more step on my journey through life. Retirement is defined by Wikipedia (You know the internet is always correct!) as "the act of leaving one's job and ceasing to work." That is a horrible definition. Let's have some fun in redefining the concept of retirement.
 
Retirement isn't:
  • Ceasing to work (Work is part of life. Ceasing to work is called death.)
  • A time to check out of life
  • A time to sit on my rocking chair and do nothing
  • An absence of thinking
  • An absence of being involved with passions or interests
  • An absence of facing life's challenges
That time in life when you decide that you can reap the results of years of planning and can have the independence you desire can be called retirement, but it shouldn't be defined as Wikipedia has coined it. It takes years of preparation.
 
Retirement is:
  • No different than running a business - it takes planning and consistency.
  • Starting to plan as early as possible - preferably in our 20's.  Remember Stephen Covey's quote: "Begin with the end in Mind."
  • A time that allows us true freedom to:
    • Start a new venture
    • Work in the same job that we love
    • Mentor those in younger generations that are craving the leadership skills and knowledge that we posses
    • Spend more time with family and friends
    • Travel if desired
    • Give back to the community in ways that couldn't easily be done while working full time and/or raising a family
    • Whatever else comes to mind
I have a friend that owns a business that has been very profitable and an ongoing concern. He also has another business, more of a ministry, that focuses on the needs of others. This ministry is one that could take him around the US and the world helping people in so many ways due to the needs he has identified. He doesn't want to "retire;" what he does want is to transition to this other business which excites him and has great upside potential. What he does want is the financial independence to make different choices.
 
My friend, like many of us, wants to pick the ending of one season, the beginning of another, and the choice in transition. Retirement should be another season, another beginning, and another transition just like many we have made before. The question is: What are you doing to plan your transition and how does that impact the decisions you make today?
 

Part 2 of this article discusses how planning is critical to creating the retirement we desire. Look for it here next month.

It has been a few years since I traveled on a regular basis for business.  When I changed careers and knew that weekly travel would no longer going to be a part of my weekly routine, I rejoiced.  No more waiting in long lines at the airports, no more issues with security, TSA, or eating airport food.  Forget all those airline delays, joyful flight attendants and endless excuses for flight delays.  Sounds good doesn't it.

Yet, I am now sitting on a plane returning home from pleasure travel and have realized there is one thing I do miss about airline travel.  That uninterrupted time of 3, 4, 5 hours or more where I can unwind, think, read and ponder life.  I have never been one to watch movies while sitting on a plane.  I have always read, completed planning, organized action items or enjoy a nap.

It is this time when nothing else can be done, that I unwind, stop the busyness of just doing things, and ponder what is next.  My pondering from this plane ride resulted in the following wisdom:  I need to start creating more time to ponder, unwind and think.  It is my time away from distractions, of "doing".   Most would describe me as "action oriented" (even my radio show is called "Action in Business with Janna Hoiberg").  I’ve challenged myself to consider, “Does the action of my “doing” get in the way of creative thinking?  Will taking more time to stop and rewind allow me to consider new opportunities, new ways of handling current challenges? I believe it does. 

What do you do to stop, ponder, consider and then create an action plan?  Are you like me - one that has a hard time slowing down?  Or are you one that slows down too easily and has a harder time speeding up and taking action? The later can also benefit from the "plane" time, however from another perspective, that of using the time to focus and make the decisions needed to speed up and make things happen.

For those of us who don't seem to slow down and are often chasing the latest "squirrel" (that new idea that sounds much better than the last one), we need to become more intentional.  We need to walk away from the day to day on a regular basis and get on our "plane", clear our mind, take time to focus and make the changes that will help us achieve our goals (or in some cases create the goals).  For me, it is hour 3 of a 4 hour flight that this pondering popped into my head.  It also happened on the return trip after a weekend away; note that good ideas come most often when the mind and body have relaxed and opens itself to new ideas.  On this flight, I have read 3 newspapers, a book, played some card games, and taken a nap.  It was then and only then that my thoughts could expand and be open to something new.

Now my challenge is to be intentional without physically getting on a plane.  Or, I will just need to take more vacations and embrace something I thought I was happy to leave behind.

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Janna Hoiberg
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