Olympic athletes at the US Olympic Training Center have the opportunity to utilize a sports psychologist to help them bring home a gold medal. A couple of weeks ago I was able to spend time with one of center’s psychologist to learn more about what creates the difference between an Olympic medal winner and one that wins no medal. What I learned is that 50% or more of the reason athletes lose is due to their mental state. Some of the things that get in their way are: fear, self-doubt, personal beliefs, negative thoughts, lack of focus, and the most surprising thing is a lack of hydration. A lack of hydration (water!!) reduces metal focus, and a reduced mental focus creates self-doubt, fear etc. Therefore a lack of hydration can be the difference between winning and losing. That is an easy thing (one would think) to control, but it is a common cause for losing.
This concept is just as true for the business owner as it is for the well trained athlete. It does start with the assumption that you are good at your sport. No matter how much focus and hydration I have, I could not win an Olympic Gold Medal at running. It isn’t my passion, and I am not trained for it. However, as a business owner and coach, I train on a regular basis for my “sport”. I can win, I do win, yet all the things that get in the way of a sports athlete can get in the way for every business owner as well.
Question for you: What is the dialogue in your head right now? Is it filled with positive, challenging, focused thoughts? Or is it filled with all the things you do wrong, did wrong, will do wrong, full of self-doubt, fear and lack of focus?
Your business and personal results will be impacted by your self-talk. Change your self-talk and you will change your results.
If you want some ideas on how to make that happen, send me a note, give me a call. I look forward to our conversation.
In the past I loved multi-tasking. The more I had going on at the same time, the happier I was, the more productive I felt , and my satisfaction level was high – because I thought I was getting things done faster and more efficiently. After leaving corporate employment, I began doing research on the true efficiency of multi-tasking. Here is what I found out. I was wrong! How could that be? Multi-tasking doesn’t make me more efficient? Switching between 2 or 3 or 4 things (emailing, while talking on the phone while listening to another conversation) isn’t truly productive? Delusion – the art of telling ourselves one thing when reality is another was rampant in my life. I came by it honestly – I truly thought that my multitasking made me and my company more productive.
Here is what research has proven:
Here is a video I recommend you watch – see how you do on his quiz. It might just change how you work and increase your productivity!
In the last 2 weeks we have viewed the Boston Marathon bombing, the Waco explosions and experienced the death of two fathers of childhood friends. The fathers of our childhood friends both lived long and wonderful lives. However, it still made me stop and focus on the value of life and the shortness of it.
One of my mantras is to have balance between work and my personal life. Balance isn’t always possible so the word harmony comes to mind. Harmony allows for a blend of alto, soprano, tenor and base blended well together. Harmony allows for occasionally all soprano, or all alto, more tenor or even base at times. Harmony between work and a personal life allows for time to focus on business, but then welcomes times to focus on personal fulfillment. There is harmony when we secure time for family yet find time for friends and other activities too. It is without this harmony that we get the dull beating of a drum in the background that is ok, until it goes on and on and on and on. Work can become that relentless beating of the drum. All is well as long as the drum beat is blended with additional instruments (other parts of our lives), but becomes annoying when the drum beat is all alone.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you create your own “harmony”:
I challenge you to spend time thinking through these questions. Write out your answers, not for others to read, but for your eyes only. Then put them somewhere secure and review what you have written in a year. Then ask these questions:
Only you can control your legacy, no one else. You make the choices, you write the script. You have but one life to live – so live it to the best.
Have you ever wondered what percentage of the wealthy actually wrote out goals, created a plan of action and diligently followed their plan through to completion?
Goals are like a little compass in your mind. They keep you going the right direction. Once your brain knows where it’s going, it has a better chance of actually getting you to your destination. But not just any goals will work; you need SMART Goals.
SMART Goals are:
Specific: Saying that you want to increase revenue in your business is an ambiguous goal, but it’s not a specific one. A specific goal is one that states you want to increase revenue by five percent this fiscal quarter by engaging in newspaper advertising.
Attainable: An attainable goal is something you can actually achieve; it is within your ability to accomplish within the time you allotted and within the framework specified. It’s a goal that won’t make you work eighteen hours a day, but it will be a challenge to reach.
Measurable: A measurable goal is one that is clearly visible; you know what you need to do and how to evaluate if you accomplished your mission or not. More importantly, your clients will also see or experience the benefit of you reaching your goal. Customers know when you’ve worked to improve your business and it often creates sense of loyalty within them.
Time-based: You need to accomplish your goal in a reasonable amount of time. For example, it shouldn’t take six months to add a phone line. If it does, you are either procrastinating or you need to find a new phone company! Establish when you want the goal completed and state a date or that you want it done tomorrow, next week, next month, etc.
When making plans, set goals using the SMART Goal system. Where do you see your business in 90 days? How about six months? Six years? Do you see yourself twice as big, or do you see yourself as twice as small? What goals need to be established to reach your business plans?
Why is it important to make goals? Why does this matter? Why go “goals digging”? An MBA survey a group of students compared their wealth over a span of 25 years. Of the students participating in the survey, 70% had no goals at all, 27% had verbal goals, and 3% had written goals. The last 3% had 98% of the wealth of the group. Now the question is, “When are you going to start planning out your own goals? Will you start today?”
Have you ever watched a three-year-old play? They have no fear. They will jump on a bed until they fall off, throw rocks until they hit an object, and have an imaginary tea party with Mr. Potato Head and call him a princess. Where along the way to adulthood do we lose this wonderful lack of fear?
Developmentalist will tell you it happens as children experiment and are told by others that it isn’t right, good enough, or to do “it” exactly the way the grownup wants it to be done. This usually takes place between the ages of four and five. But ah the three-year-old, no fear here, and if you try to tell them how to do it, they just ignore you and go about doing it their own way.
Are there lessons we could learn from the three-year-old? Let’s explore a few traits of a toddler:
Maybe we need to bring the inner three-year-old out of us a bit more. Take a few more risks and dream a few more dreams.
The dictionary defines Empower as a verb and meaning to delegate power or authority to authorize or to enable or permit. Interestingly the word has become a contemporary buzzword. Yet the word empower is not new, having arisen in the mid-17th century with the legalistic meaning "to invest with authority, authorize." Shortly thereafter it began to be used with an infinitive in a more general way meaning "to enable or permit.
Being empowered provides people with a great deal of ownership, authority, and responsibility. Yet, often people are empowered to make changes yet, don’t take advantage of that responsibility and loose the opportunity being presented to them.
Being empowered really has two aspects. One is being empowered – someone else provides you with the power. The second is where I believe many are missing the point. That is empowering themselves and making things happen. We have the power within ourselves to do far more than we think we can. What stands in our way are often false walls and obstacles that we believe stand in our way.
For example, one of my clients wanted and needed to hire someone else in her department. She continued to work long hours and cover for the shortage of staff and never considered that she had the power to actually make a hire. Now she needed to do the homework, show the need, lay out the responsibilities of this new hire and present it to the President. She never believed she could even ask for the new hire. Our conversation really took her back to why did she not believe she had the power to even ask. The answer was – the president knew of the shortage of staff and if he wanted to hire someone it should come from him. Wrong. Our conversation essentially empowered her to make the case. End result was she not only got one person, she got two.
Another example is a friend of mine was talking about writing a cook book, since she is a wonderful chef. In asking why she had never written it, she stated she didn’t know how to get it published. My response was, just write it, I will help you get it published. She had been empowered all the time to make something happen, but had let a false wall and obstacle stand in her way. I removed that wall, but it is something she could have done. Now the question is whether she will really make it happen or if the not knowing how to publish was just an excuse. That is an entirely different discussion.
My challenge to you is how are you pushing away the empowerment you have been given. Stop letting things stand in your way. Empower yourself and make things happen.
I just returned from a refreshing five day journey visiting colleges in California. It was refreshing in multiple ways. One was the weather, (Colorado was being hammered by snow), but more importantly was actually seeing an excitement for learning on each campus. Hearing a student talk about how much they have learned, how excited they are to learn, and how they want to continue their education was inspiring.
Why so inspiring? We all need to continue to have a desire for learning long after we have gotten out of school. How about you? Do you continue to have an excitement to learn new things? Do you acknowledge that you don’t know everything and embrace the journey to learn more? The continued hunger for learning new things will enlarge who we are and what we will become, and needs to be central part of our daily lives.
Some people still have that yearn to learn. Some never acquired the desire to learn and some hung up the learning hat the day they graduated from school, whether that was high school, college, or graduate school. They felt they were done! We have all had a sense of that feeling. YES – no more classes, papers to write, or professors to please.
My challenge to you today is to develop a continuing education plan. What do you want to learn in this next week, next month, next year and next 30 years? I often speak of setting goals for your business and your personal life. Now I challenge you to set learning goals as well.
If you want some ideas of good books to read, then send me an email. I will help you create a learning plan to last a lifetime.
Most companies fail because they run out of cash. The following are several reasons that precipitate running out of cash and how to turn those reasons into success:
Failure! One would think it is a 4 letter word. It is probably the most dreaded thought of a business owner. My business failed therefore I am a failure. First, that is not a true statement. Second, if a business does fail then there are a number of reasons for the failure. Thought must be given to why and what can be learned from business failures of others.
When we become so busy in the day to day operations of the business, we forget to step away and try to understand what is happening within the business, around the business and out in the real world. We forget to think critically.
Critical thinking...the awakening of the intellect to the study of itself
If you don’t study your business you can’t determine what changes need to be made or how to adapt to the changing environment around you. There are movies about Transformers. They adapt to the environments, dangers, opportunities and risks around them. Without critical thinking, and the resulting transformations you incorporate into your business, you risk the initiation of your ultimate fear, failure.
Critical thinking only happens when:
The practice I follow is to step away from my business once a month for a half day, and once a quarter for a full day. This isn’t just for planning the next month or quarter, but rather a time to gather a greater vision by reflecting on successes and challenges. It allows me to get away from the distractions of the office, and away from the responsibilities of home. During this time I strategize by reflecting on recent experiences; to learn from them, and look ahead to determine an even greater vision for the business. Critical thinking only happens when you allow your mind to be empty of day to day challenges, frustrations, and demands. It is truly a discipline that allows a gathering clarity, precision, relevance, reasoning, depth of analysis and experience. It is truly an opportunity to re-energize.
Failure to think critically about your business creates a vacuum of energy, direction, momentum and agility, all which lead to that first step down the road to your greatest fear.
Our discussion came to the concept of being able to close the door of her office, turn off email, phones and focus on doing one thing without interruption for an hour. She erupted. “That isn’t possible with my job. People stand at my door waiting for answers, the phone is constantly ringing. That won’t work!” I paused, allowed her to finish and asked her a question: So what is happening right now while you are in this workshop – (which happened to be a 5 hour workshop)? She was silent for a moment and then stated, “Well things are piling up while I am in here.” My challenge to her was to just try it – if it didn’t work, she could go back to how she was handling things now. I chose not to challenge her further in front of her peers at that time and we moved on to another topic.
Since I was coaching her individually, the following week during our conversation she started off with an apology for coming on so strong to me during the meeting. Also, she had tried my suggestion. The previous day she had communicated to her team that she had some stuff to complete. She was going to close her door, put a sign on it stating do not disturb, closed email and also put her phone on do not disturb. In that hour she accomplished more than she had in the previous 3 days and was sold on the value.
The January issue of Success Magazine (which I highly recommend you subscribe to) had an interview with Mike Vardy. He has done a number of studies that indicate the average executive/business owner focuses on one thing for no more than 11 minutes. For every interruption they get, it takes about 25 minutes to recover where they were and start making progress.
The concept of multi-tasking is killing our productivity. It has been proven that our mind cannot multi-task. It actually switches gears from one topic to another, but doesn’t multi-task. We have all been in situations where we have been concentrating to get something accomplished, been interrupted and then either had to start over our thought process, or really wondered where we were and never get back to that same state.
Mike Vardy also stated in his research that multi-tasking actually diminishes our IQ by 10 points. Even smoking pot only diminishes our IQ by 5 points. Chew on that concept for a while!
Yes, there are situations in jobs that require us to juggle a number of things at one time. If that is your job then great, enjoy! I use to be called the “queen of multi-tasking”. I could be processing multiple things at one time fairly well and keep all the balls up in the air. However, when I needed to focus, complete a project, plan for a conference, review a sales proposal, that was all I did. The door was closed, email ignored, phones on do not disturb because I knew that missing one small item could be the difference between success and failure. I also had the benefit of being able to work from home a couple days per week and I scheduled my focus times for those days.
This is essentially about self-management. Who is running your day, you or others? Do you determine your action items for the day the day before? If not, then consider planning tomorrow today, next week this week, next month this month. Make sure you leave time to plan. Without planning you leave yourself and your life in a reactive vs. proactive mode. You wonder why things happen to you, why you need to work late, why it is taking longer than you anticipated. Most of these reactions are due to lack of planning.
So, have you decided if you can manage time? I often ask this in my workshops and get a mixed reaction of yes and no. Reality is no, you can’t manage time. Time moves on no matter what we do. What we can do is manage ourselves. Self-management is the most critical aspect. Like eating frogs – figure out what you are avoiding, do it first get it done. Plan your day. You say it doesn’t work, then step back and take a hard look as to why. You are in a situation with a high interrupt factor, then plan for it. Get in early and get those projects done before everyone else arrives. Put on your calendar time to complete your action list for the day. If you haven’t planned for when the action items will get accomplished you have a much lower chance at getting things done.
Beginning in 2007, the United States job market experienced a high level of sustained unemployment which unfortunately continues even today, six years later. The lack of being able to find work often stimulates the act of creating work which results in a large number of people starting their own business, or in other words, buying themselves a job.
What often motivates the employee to become the employer, or at least an owner, is the realization there is not a job in the current marketplace that will provide the same income and benefits as their previous employer. Since workers need to continue making a living, they begin to consider all options accessible to them. The buying a job concept is not wrong as long as the new business owner is able to transition from thinking and acting like an employee, to thinking and acting like a business owner. I often joke that a new business owner trades in the boss they didn’t like, for a really bad boss, the one that looks back at them in the mirror every morning, themselves. After a while, the old boss might not look so bad after all.
The following are a few things to consider when buying yourself a job:
Buying a job means taking something you know or want to know and buying into it. Franchises are often filled with people buying jobs. They may have been unsuccessful in getting a new job. They have some money to invest so they decide to buy a company or a franchise. There are many wonderful success stories of people buying into a franchise. However, it is important to remember a franchise is a business and not a hobby or a job you can easily leave.
Having sufficient capitalization will often make the deciding difference between the success and failure of a new business. The average business requires 1-2 years of capital, without the owner getting paid or being paid very little, to survive. Without adequate capital, you essentially starve the business by taking out essential funds required to make it through the tumultuous first few years.
A new business often becomes a family affair with a spouse, children, and perhaps siblings becoming involved in the business as well. Be aware all the standard opportunities and challenges that come with working with family members apply. Don’t run from the opportunity. Be realistic about what you are getting into and the potential challenges you will face.
The opportunity to work alongside your spouse can be greatly rewarding. Being able to dream, create, deliver and earn a living with your spouse who is hopefully your bestfriend, can be a reality. You may have the opportunity to travel together, solve problems together, to challenge each other to grow and to replicate the best of your skills and talents in your team members and employees. Together you can create a family like environment that makes everyone want to come to work.
The benefits of buying a job and becoming an Entrepreneur includes being able to do what you love to do and have the flexibility to do it how and when you want to. As the owner, you have the ability to leverage your time and money to benefit your family, business, and employees. It is a joy to lead your team through the creation of your dream. Your journey will include a great deal of learning, growing, and experiencing new opportunities and challenges.
If you have made the choice to buy yourself a job, be the best boss you can be to yourself and others. Build a family environment, enjoy your well-earned benefits and, most of all, embrace the journey.
Leader vs. Manager – Which are YOU? There are many articles and books written
about both topics. They focus on how to improve and become the best. Improving
those skills are at the foundation of becoming a better leader and manager. Before you begin that journey you must really start at the foundation of the leader and that is YOU. It is very much like a building, if it doesn’t have a strong foundation – one made of rock and not sand, the building will fail at the first sign of a storm.
If the building isn’t square all other parts of the construction are
harder, and creates more work for those trying to build the remaining
building. I could even start at the design of the building. The design needs
to be well thought out, well planned, and then well executed.
If this is true of leadership – which I believe it is, then why do we spend so little time on our own personal growth plan? John Maxwell highlighted a number of these points in a recent leadership certification program in Florida by introducing
the 15 Laws of Personal Growth.
Let me ask you, if you aren’t growing as an individual will your organization grow? The first law of Leadership is the law of the lid. Your organization won’t grow past your level of leadership. I recommend one earlier step – and that is a
personal leadership and growth plan. One of the first laws of Personal Growth is the law of intentionality. We must have a plan. Growth doesn’t happen accidentally. You must add value to yourself. After all if you don’t add value to yourself then why should others follow you to the next level? Here are questions for you to consider:
The second law is the law of awareness. Do you know yourself? What are your gifts and strengths? Are you capitalizing on those strengths? Is building on those strengths in your law of intentionality? This truly takes time. It is difficult to look internally. It isn’t always a pretty picture and one that many don’t want to face.
What are you running from?
This is a continuation of our series on Personal Leadership. Previously we reviewed the first and second law.
The third law is the Law of the Mirror. This is your self-image. This happens after the law of awareness. It is about being honest with yourself and understanding where your self- image is suffering. Self image is what you tell yourself when no one is around, when no one is listening. It is often a very loud voice that screams you screwed up – or you rock! A strong self image will get you further in life that most anything else. It will get you through the rough times as you will pick yourself up and keep moving. It will shout louder than the
negatives around you that say it can’t be done – or you can’t do it. Work on your self image and make it as strong as you can. I don’t care who you are, you are unique in a positive way. You have value. You can share that value with those around you, so start telling yourself this each and every day!
The fourth law is the law of reflection. Each one of us needs to STOP, pause, and reflect on what we are doing, have done and create a plan of what we need to stop doing and what we need to start doing.
One of my favorite YouTube videos is with Bob Newhart http://youtu.be/Ow0lr63y4Mw Watch this video, it will give you perspective. The law of reflection is about those I am spending time with and asking the question – who do I need to add to my sphere of influence? Reflect on the experiences you have. Experience means nothing unless you reflect on it and learn something. Wisdom is reflection on experiences. Without reflection wisdom does not show up. The law of Reflection challenges you to Stop, Pause and Reflect.
Here is what I do.
Each week I reflect back on the prior week. What is working and what isn’t (this doesn’t take long – maybe 15 minutes). Each month, I reflect back on the month. Did I use my time wisely, what changes do I need to make in the coming month. Each quarter I do the same. Now on an annual basis as a part of my planning I reflect on the prior year.
Here are questions I ask at each juncture:
Entrepreneurs, business owners, leaders, managers need to step back on a regular basis and get back to basics. The temptation when running your own enterprise is to stop doing the foundational elements that made you successful in your business. What are the basics for you? Could they be?
• Marketing: Testing and measuring what is working in your marketing program and what isn’t. Are you guessing as to which marketing programs work and which don’t. One of my clients swore that one of their marketing programs worked and worked well, until we ran the numbers. They were investing about $14,000 per year in this program and got about $6,000 back. Even taking into account lifetime value of the new customers, it was an expense and not an investment. Both revenue and profitability went up when they stopped that marketing program.
• Sales: It is documented that sales people must be trained and retrained on a regular basis to refine their skills and ensure the basic blocking and tackling is being done. What old sales techniques need to be revisited and are there new ones? Selling today is very different than 5 years ago, however some of the basics like communicating with your prospect are foundations which often get forgotten due to bad habits.
• Closing: Are you asking for the close in the sale? I have a client that lost the potential of a big new account because the prospects perception was that they didn’t want it enough. They asked for the close, but not often enough during the final presentation. Their competition asked for the sale more.
• Advertising: Are you running the same old ad that you always do? It works – great, but could it be better. What is your shock and awe with your advertising? Do you get their attention, or are they yawning through the whole process?
Basics are critical. Innovation is critical, yet if the innovation is built on a rocky foundation the whole business may fail before you know it.
Basics are critical. Innovation is paramount, yet if the innovation is built on a rocky foundation the whole business may fail before you know it. The foundation of your business is the same as the foundation of a building. If the wrong materials, wrong design, wrong measurements have been used then the foundation begins to crack under the pressure. Pressure for a building can be weight, weathering, erosion of soil and much more. Crumbling of a business can also come from pressure of the growth of the business. Cracking appears when the systems are not in place to handle the growth or changing in the business. How do you know if the basics are failing within your business?
Key Business and Sales Performance Indicators:
o Are your leads increasing or decreasing? If you don’t know then that is the first sign that the basic foundation has a few cracks.
o Do you measure your closing ratios now to a year ago, last quarter, last month? Do you measure them by sales person?
o Each lead that you receive you should know where it originated? Was it a referral from a customer, generated by networking, an ad in the paper, pay for click, SEO etc.
Innovation in your business is paramount. If you have always done something the exact same way, do you need to stop and consider a new way to address the situations. Even a 1 degree difference can make a tremendous difference in the future and especially the profitability of the business.
What are your KPI’s? How often do you measure them?
The end of the year is right around the corner. Your ability to make a difference for 2012 is quickly coming to an end. The business advice you need should focus on where is your profitability and what actions should you take to increase that profit. Here are some areas to review:
• Average dollar sale – Is there a way to increase the average amount a customer spends with you? Bundling, increased prices, marketing?
• Awareness – Statistics have proven that over 50% of your customers buy products/services you sell because they don’t know you offer them. How do you talk to your customers? Are they really aware of your full product line? I will be you they don’t – so start changing that today.
• Communication – It seems to be one area that all businesses and teams struggle. Do your customers remember you? Don’t laugh and don’t get defensive. Over 67% of customers go elsewhere because they think you don’t care. As I coach business owners and executives I see a total lack of consistent communication to customers. If you don’t communicate with your customers they will communicate with someone else.
• Team – The joke is sales people need to be retrained daily. Reality is – it isn’t a joke – ask anyone who has been in sales. We must all go back to basics on a regular basis to understand what, how, where and why we sell. What is your training program for yourself and for your team? Who are the sales people in your organization? Yes, there should be someone who is compensated on selling, however every person in your organization is a sales person. Do they know it? How well do they represent you?
This article on business advice from a business coach – started with a plan for profitability for 2012. Now the question is – how well are you planning for 2013? If you haven’t started you should set aside a day for planning. If you want join me for my planning workshop with my clients on December 14th. Check my website for the details www.actioncochadvantage.com
I have already spent probably 2 days reviewing 2012 and planning for 2013. I pay myself, am profitable, take the advice of my own business mentor. I also realize I can do better and that even a 1% increase in profitability helps me achieve my personal goals. How are you doing?
Call or contact Janna Hoiberg online to schedule a free, initial consultation.
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