Category Archives for Lifestyle & Career

8 Technological Tools to Improve Your Business

Many of you will probably laugh at me while reading this article! But that’s okay – you probably should, because I admit that I sometimes still live in the Stone Age. You see, I am a self-proclaimed “Technological Idiot,” and I have no problem with it. Many people love to make fun of me because of that – especially my kids. I’m not that old, but I am a creature of habit. So that means I don’t usually seek out technology if I can avoid it. But sometimes, I am either forced into it, or I have a strong enough curiosity that will lead me to learning the basics of something.

So I am going to tell you about some of the technological things I have learned to use that have actually made my life better. For those of you who are like me and prefer living in the Stone Age, here are some of the things you can try that you might think are cool too (once you learn how to use them):

1. Skype

When I was a kid, I always wondered if one day, we would have video phones. Well, fast forward a couple of decades, and here we are! From Skype to Facetime, we have video calling now. Honestly, I was forced into using it. Someone contacted me and wanted to interview me for their Internet web show, and they used Skype to do it. So I had to learn. But I’m so happy I did, because now I use it all the time. It’s not that difficult, and I have met so many people I have done business with using it (virtually, of course).

2. Video editing

The world seems to revolve around videos these days. If you are on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform, you know that videos can go viral. But I wanted to use videos to teach people. But I knew I couldn’t rely on hiring someone to do all my editing, so I had to learn it myself. And honestly, it’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it! You can have a lot of fun tinkering around with any video you create.

3. Touching up photos and using Photoshop

It also seems like people take a lot more photos than they used to – mostly because they do it with their phones. But if you’re like me, you end up with a lot of bad ones, or at least ones you want to fix. Whether you want to fix them because you have to, or just for the fun of it, there are some cool things you can do to edit photos. And Photoshop can do wonders for your pictures too. But just like editing videos, there is a bit of a learning curve, but it’s worth it.

4. Power Point

Several years ago, I was still using transparencies in the classroom on an overhead projector. Until one day, a student said to me, “do you want me to teach you how to use power point so you can convert your lecture notes away from those overheads?” It was at that point that I knew I had to get out of the Stone Age. I was way behind most professors with the use of technology, but once I learned to use it, I can’t believe it took me so long.

5. iPads

I thought iPads were cool, but I never had any desire to have one. But as time went on, I saw how other people were using them. It could be a “phone,” a word processor, a camera, a video camera, an audio recording device, and many more things. Plus, it’s a lot easier to carry around than a lap top – especially when you are traveling.

6. Smart Phone

Okay, now I KNOW you are laughing at this one! But I actually resisted getting a smart phone for many years. My friends really had a field day laughing at me for this one! But it was only when I realized that flip phones would not be around forever that I actually broke down and got one. And they are very cool! According to research, 64% of the people have smart phones, so I guess I am not the last person in the country to get one, which is shocking!

7. Maintaining a YouTube account

Because I wanted to do short, “Motivational Monday” videos to share on social media, I knew I had to have a YouTube account. I had learned how to edit them, so now I needed to learn how to maintain a YouTube account. As with most of the things I have discussed, it takes some time to figure it out, but once I did, it was freeing to know that I can now share my knowledge with the world on the internet.

8. Creating a video class

I figured that since I was getting so good at making videos, I might as well try to create a whole class. So, that’s exactly what I did. But it was also difficult for me to figure out how to do it on the platform I was using. However, I eventually figured it out. After much blood, sweat, and tears, I finally created a whole class that hopefully will help a lot of people.

While most of you were probably giggling at me reading this (honestly, I am too), maybe some of you are “technological idiots” like me. And if so, I hope I have encouraged you to get out of your technological comfort zone a little bit and see how learning new things can actually benefit your life!

Are You In The Wrong Job? A Five Question Quiz

By Mary Miller

1. Are you trying to get answers from Google?

2. Have you watched Office Space more times than you’d like to admit?

3. Do Sunday nights make you break out in a cold sweat?

4. Are you no longer able to manage your stress like you once could?

5. Do you often escape into the bathroom during a meeting to scream, cry, or punch something due to frustration?

If you answered yes to the majority of these questions, then you are probably in the wrong job. Your job fits you as well as your 5 year old’s sweater. The problem is that it’s a really well-paying job, and you have no idea what you’d do instead.

That is why…you’re still there…with a reoccurring case of the “Mundays.” But your grip on the ladder is starting to fail you and you don’t know how much longer you can hang on.

The good news is that you’re the architect of your own life. Yes – your life. This isn’t just about your career; it’s about your life.

Here’s what you can do about it.

Stop to think about what is causing your stress? Look for your triggers

• Write down why this is the “job from hell” – be specific. What doesn’t fit (i.e. too many details, no time to think etc)?

• Now take that and turn each negative statement into a positive one (i.e. I get to work on one project at a time, I have time to think & plan – it’s part of my job)

• Which parts of your job do you like?

• When did you stop liking your job?

• Now for the hard one…does part of the loathing you have for your job come from your attitude? If so, how?

Don’t be like the 52.3% of Americans who are unhappy with their jobs (2014, Conference Board, the New York-based nonprofit research group). Chose to do something about it! To do something about it NOW click here.

4 Tips For Working At Home

By Jolie Miller

If you’re one of the millions of people who hope to work from home in 2015, we’ve got some tips for you.

Last week, we showed you how to set up your home workspace for maximum efficiency. Today in the second article of our Work From Home series, we’ll help you figure out how to structure your day.

Establishing routines will make all the difference between crazy days in which you get little done and productive days in which you accomplish a lot with few interruptions. Even a company that’s skeptical of work-from-homers has to appreciate productive workdays!

These are the three questions you should ask yourself when setting up your workday routines:

1. Find your Einstein window.

We all have times of day when we’re “on it” and times of day when we’re not at our best. Figuring out your window of Einstein-like brilliance is key to structuring your day. (See Finding your Einstein window from the lynda.com course Managing Your Time.)

If you’re a morning person who needs to get things done first thing in the morning (like I do), then block out the first hour or two of your daily calendar to make sure it stays focused with no interruptions. For me, 7:30-9:00 a.m. daily is a meeting-free zone when I review our customer feedback from the day before, work through emails and special projects, and organize my day. If everything after 9:00 becomes a free-for-all (it happens; you know it does), then at least I had my hour-and-a-half of super-productive time.

2. Decide on break and lunch plans. 

When I first started working at home, which was only a five-minute drive from my office at the time, I still met up with colleagues for lunch on telecommuting days. It kept me connected socially and helped me address some of the questions easier dealt with in person than email.

Give some thought to whether your breaks are going to be time for errands or house chores or perhaps a walk or video-game break. And are you planning to eat in or get out?

There are no right or wrong answers here. I like the solace of being home all day doing my own thing for about a week—and then I need human contact again by way of lunch dates. Others thrive on the variety of one “out of house” appointment a day to stretch the legs and shift mental focus. Get to know yourself better by trying on different routines here and seeing what frequency and type of breaks and lunch plans work best for you.

3. Let your colleagues know when they can count on you to be around.

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One of the advantages of working remotely is we can all be there in our pajamas in different time zones getting things done. But with that comes the tricky logistics of time-zone management—sometimes even across continents. Early in my career, I’d sometimes have calls across five time zones in a single day; I put clocks for different time zones up in my browser so I could always see what was happening when.

No matter what time zone you’re in, send an email to your team and key stakeholders and let them know your working hours. If they’re scattered across regions, make sure you build at least part of your day around being available to them. I used to start my days at 6:00 a.m. Pacific time because most of my authors were on the East Coast.

Once your colleagues know your hours, make a point of actually being around during those times. If you promise availability from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a lunch break around noon, then be reachable via email, chat, and phone when you say you will be.

Similarly, if you know you’re going to be gone picking up your kids from school between 2:00 and 3:00, then let everyone know that, too–and adjust your available hours accordingly so your coworkers have access to you for a full workday.

Note: It’s helpful if large, remote-located teams keep a central team calendar where everyone can track who’s where and when (ie. taking time off or traveling to other locations).

For more tips, watch Enhancing Your Productivity on lynda.com.

4. Have a few go-tos for slumps and stress.

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We all have those restless moments when we realize we’ve been staring at a screen or working on the same project for too long. Then there are those days when just one more email from that one person threatens to send you over the edge.

Decide in advance a few recharge activities you can jump to when you need to get your energy and focus back. This could be anything from a walk to a Sudoku puzzle, from folding laundry to listening to music.

When this happens at the office, we can get up from our desk and go chit chat with or vent to a friend for 10 minutes. You need to figure out what the equivalent solution is when you’re at home.

Get some practical coping tips from our 21-minute course Managing Stress.

5. Draw lines around personal time.

There are 24 hours in every day and we spend roughly a third of them working, a third of them sleeping, and another third attending to our personal lives. Keep it in perspective as much as possible.

I’ve been terrible about this in the past and paid the price of too little sleep and too much stress, all to pack in a few more work hours each day. My new motto is: Work today so you can work tomorrow. Put in just the right amount of time today so that you can come back the next day ready to work—rather than too exhausted to think.

If you share the house with another family member who works at home, you really need separate spaces and a noise buffer between you. Having your own rooms is obviously best, but it’s not always possible. So figure out an easy system for signaling each other when you need no interruptions. For example, you might put on a hat or headphones.

Equally important: Know when you both need to quit working in order to have plenty of “you time” so that having your desks in the house doesn’t get the better of your life.

Want more tips on keeping your professional life out of your personal life? Check out Balancing Work and Life and Finding Work-Life Fit on lynda.com.

Setting up a few simple routines will take you a long way toward productive, balanced days at home. And don’t forget: Working at home is a privilege. So make it count.

Use your time as productively as possible and then don’t hesitate to go out and enjoy the other things that make life complete.

***This article was originally published on Lynda.com and it is re-published here with permission. Please visit Lynda.com for more great career advice.***

Top 3 Beliefs Women Carry That Sabotage Work-Life Balance

By Nicole Coope

In an earlier article, I shared Work-Life Balance is possible, as learned from my elementary girl self on the see saw. However, I continue to read articles that state, peace in both our professional and personal lives is impossible. So before I go off on another “it is possible” tangent, let’s be clear about the most prominent beliefs women carry that sabotage work-life balance.

Belief #1: “Having it All – I have to choose one or the other to achieve balance”

In a recent article in the Huffington Post, Drew Barrymore stated she learned very quickly that “work-life balance” does not exist after the birth of her child. She could no longer work 50+ hours on the set of a movie and still manage to nurse and nurture her newborn. “Having it all” implies an extreme swing of the pendulum of equilibrium, either a full time career or motherhood – imbalance. The balance she once experienced in her professional and personal life changed because her priorities changed. “Work-life balance exists in finding the balance between the two so that women such as Drew Barrymore, can still enjoy promising roles as an actress while still enjoying the throes of being a new mother. If we define our lives by the extreme swings of the pendulum, then life will be grossly out of balance and the stress of such a life will manifest mentally, emotionally, and physically. Work-life balance requires compromise, finding unique ways to still enjoy the people, activities, and values in your life.

Belief #2: “Knowing it All – I have to have all the answers”

An issue that commonly comes up for women struggling with the ability to find balance in their professional and personal life is the belief that “I am supposed to know it all…I should have all the answers”. And if we don’t have all the answers or know it all, then we are burdened with feelings of guilt, inadequacy, shame, and unworthiness. Have you ever wondered, “What kind of mother am I because _______(fill in the blank)”? Maybe your child is not doing well in school, or you can’t figure out how to get your child home from school without sacrificing your work hours, or your teenage child clearly needs your attention but you can’t find any more hours in the day. If we were supposed to KNOW all of the answers to these questions, it would have been a part of our DNA, a natural instinct, like food, shelter, and water. But it is not. I believe we were designed with a need for others, a need for help, and guidance. When you take a moment to look around, we are surrounded by a world of resources and answers: Internet (aka Information Highway), teachers, mentors, family members, books, blogs, and so much more. If we were truly meant to figure it all out for ourselves, then there would be no need for phrases such as: “It takes a village to raise a child”, or “without counsel, plans fail but with a multitude of advisers they succeed.” Work-Life balance requires seeking help from other people or resources to answer our most difficult questions.

Belief #3: “I’m all alone – This problem is only mine”

One of the greatest mind tricks of this generation is convincing us that we are all alone in our struggles, issues, or concerns. In fact the shame or guilt of such situations or predicaments often prevents us from sharing the reality of our situation with family and friends. Did you know the best resource for how to manage a family of 3 as a single mom is another single parent?! Even the single moms who appear to have it all together had to start somewhere. I would bet money on the fact that their early years looked just like the phase of life so many women are currently in. It would be easier to work through the hoops of bankruptcy if we could share with another woman who had walked through the same financial difficulty. If we think we are alone, we will remain isolated and that much farther away from finding peace in our lives. Work-Life Balance does not mean you have to hide the struggle of your situation and figure it out on your own. To achieve the life you desire, you need to lean on the support of those closest to you. Why not start with the women or people in your community that have already crossed the bridge you are standing on?!

On a Personal Note

Like many Americans, I have a significant student loan debt. I used to be ashamed to talk about it because the whole point of going to school is to learn new skills so that I could earn a significant income and quickly pay back the loan. The fact that I am 10 years out of school and still carrying the debt often made me feel embarrassed or insecure about my skills. How can I be a good counselor/coach/financial therapist, if I still have debt – completely discrediting myself?! Although my goal was to be debt-free (pendulum swing), I could not figure out how to do accomplish the goal without sacrificing my time with my family by working 2 jobs (pendulum swing).

Last month, I decided to find out if there were any other working women in my situation on Google. I was shocked by the number of success stories of women and couples who eliminated large student loans or credit card debt. I wrote pages of notes on how these amazing people, who were not high profile financial experts, were able to pay off their loans in record time without sacrificing time with their family. Walking through this personal situation, I found peace restored and life coming back into balance because I realized:

1.) I am not alone – sharing my story is better than isolation and guilt
2.) I do not know it all – answers are all around me (seek and you shall find)
3.) I cannot figure it out on my own – ask for help, specifically, from those who have been in similar circumstance
4.) I cannot have it all – work-life balance requires compromise, and finding ways to meet my desire to be debt free with my need to have time for my family

Take a moment to ponder, what have you been struggling with in your life that you have not yet figured out? In what area have you kept yourself isolated because you felt too ashamed, embarrassed, or guilty to share with others out of fear of being judged? Now is the time to come out of hiding, look for answers, and seek the support of those around you, so that you can experience peace and balance in this key area of your life.

Corporate America: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

By Mary Miller

A while back, I was at a conference, and one of the speakers used the word assimilation. That word makes me cringe because the expectation of someone needing to “fit into” a cultural standard often strips away much needed creativity and innovation. There are already too many people who don’t use their unique gifts to make this world a better place. Many times, in Corporate America, this is because they simply feel like they can’t. But the pressure that comes with not being yourself builds over time, and you are faced with this question: Corporate America – should I stay or should I go?

For those who find the corporate world starting to feel like a wool sweater that is gradually giving you red marks all over your upper body – well, this article is for you. Perhaps you are on your way up the corporate ladder and you’re not sure how much further you really want to go. You have been thinking more about how you want to leave your mark and what you really want to do with your life. Maybe you dream about having more time to think, more space, more autonomy, using your gifting, exploring your passions, having more freedom in your lifestyle etc. With all of these thoughts you may start seeing Corporate American as the enemy. Though more often than naught we are our own enemy because we choose not to make a choice even when we know we need to.

That is exactly what I’m going to help you do today … decide … using an unconventional approach. As Oscar Wilde once said “Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life.”

Let’s get started:

1. “Should I stay or should I go now?”

Is Corporate America a barrier to claiming your dreams, is it a part of your dreams or is it helping you to achieve them? If you know you are an Entrepreneur, deep down, start talking to those who have taken the plunge to prepare yourself. If you just need more time in your life, consider asking your boss about cutting back your hours, taking unpaid vacation (or ask for more paid vacation), going part-time, participate in a job sharing program. If there isn’t such a thing as a job sharing program work to create one. You’ll never know what is possible if you don’t ask the question.

2. “If I go, there will be trouble”

How do you handle stress? Be honest with yourself. One positive thing about being in an uncomfortable situation is that it teaches you perseverance. If you haven’t begun to master this area of your life don’t expect your dreams to fix all of your problems. Why? Because claiming your dreams also has stress associated with it. Yes it is driven by hope and passion, more so than fear, but stress is still stress good or bad. The financial and time stresses involved in claiming your dreams requires resiliency skills to navigate through these actions and decisions.

3. “And if I sta, it will be double”

Maybe your work situation is diminishing your quality of life. You have to weigh your health against the income you earn each month. Maybe taking a less stressful job is the answer. Or maybe your choice is to stay to help change the culture. Which is an admirable dream and one which takes great mental and physical resilience, determination and real love for the people you work with. Staying is often the hardest thing to do because you have to live in the current culture until it’s changed.

4. “So come on and let me know”

Maybe you read the title of this article and thought I’d tell you what to do. Sorry to disappoint but weather you stay or go is up to you. This article is meant to take you through the thought process of what is best for you and to consider both sides of the equation. Many people will tell you what you should do but you have to decide for yourself. It’s your life, your dreams, your future.

5.  “This indecision’s bugging me”

Why do you want to stay? Why do you want to go? Making a decision without addressing “why” is really more of a reaction than an intentional decision. What have you been reacting to? And what are you procrastinating doing? The sooner you find out your why, the root cause for your actions, you will be that much closer to your answer.

6. “If you don’t want me, set me free”

What is the corporate culture like where you work? Is it a good fit for you? Do you need structure? Or does it suffocate you? Do you feel like when you go against the grain that it’s grounds for termination or is it welcomed and accepted? Does working in a building stifle your creativity? If you were living on your own terms what would your day look like? Where would you work? If you were free, what does that freedom look like to you? Once you know what you need you can create some of that freedom in your current and future work environments.

7. “Exactly whom I’m supposed to be”

If you have “grown up” in Corporate America your identity slowly changes as you begin to assimilate into the culture you work in. This can squash you as an individual and create a fake form of alignment within the workplace. What’s worse is that no organization, or person, can be truly aligned if they are not being their unique authentic self. Start setting aside time, start digging into your own identity. Discover who you’re supposed to be (to do that click here)

Which song verse did you most identify with? What will you decide?

Song Lyrics by The Clash, “Should I Stay or Should I Go” remaining content @2014, Mary R Miller

4 Traits Of An Effective Leader

By Steve Goodier

A young officer in the Army discovered that he had no change when he tried to buy a soft drink from a vending machine. He flagged down a passing private and asked him, “Do you have change for a dollar?”

The private said cheerfully, “I think so. Let me take a look.”

The officer drew himself up stiffly and said, “Soldier, that is no way to address a superior. We’ll start all over again. Do you have change for a dollar?”

The private came to attention, saluted smartly, and said, “No, sir!”

Each of us commands some authority. There are or will be those we guide, supervise, rear, mentor, or lead. Some of us will be effective, and others will feel as if we’re running a cemetery: we’ve got a lot of people under us and nobody’s listening.

Much has been written and taught about leadership, but I find that at least four traits are common in all people of authority who effectively elicit cooperation and respect from those who look up to them. Whether you are a parent, whether you find yourself in the workplace, sitting on a volunteer committee, or teaching some-one a new skill, these traits will help you effectively guide those who would seek to follow.

These good leaders are…

Listeners.

They take time to listen to the suggestions and concerns of those they endeavor to lead.

Encouragers.

They don’t try to do it all themselves. Neither do they motivate by force or guilt. They encourage others and help bring out their best.

Assertive.

They say what needs to be said without being unkind. They tell the truth as they see it, openly, and frankly.

Decisive.

They know what needs to be done and they make timely, even difficult, decisions when necessary. But they can also take charge without running over the people in their lives.

In short, good leaders L-E-A-D!

It’s said that the trouble with being a leader today is that you can’t be sure whether people are following you or chasing you. But those who will develop these four traits are sure to find that their authority will be valued and respected.

7 Signs That Fear Motivates You, Not Your Dreams

By Mary Miller

I was reminded the other day that I “used to be” a management guru. Even though that is not my passion or dream, hearing that still hurt. That one comment brought back a flood of memories of when I had my Bushiness Coaching business; which I shutdown for a variety of reasons.

That day was a double whammy. I was also getting to know a new friend and the questions “What happened with the business?” and “Why did you stop coaching ?” came up. I am now able to answer these questions without avoidance tactics like “Did you see that new movie?” or “Why is it so flipping cold in Ohio?” I’ve never been much for small talk so writing this makes me literally LOL when I look at my avoidance tactics face-to-face.

The answer to all of these questions is simply that I was running towards the wrong thing. I was not running towards my dreams but away from my fears. I picked the wrong door, yet at the time, I didn’t know that. Like everyone else, I have blind spots and when I make up my mind to do something I can be like a pit bull. My CPA, my lawyer, my parents and my husband all told me I was crazy. Over time I wore my husband down but he was still less than thrilled about investing over $100,000 on a new business endeavor. But when someone or something is standing in the way between you and your perceived freedom you simply don’t listen.

Desperation and fear overpowered logic. The harsh reality was that instead of taking the time to fix me, to work on me, I did what was easier – I escaped my situation (see ideal situation chaser). And friend I do not recommend this…that is why I am writing, to save you the grief of going after the wrong dream because you are motivated by the wrong thing…fear.

How do you know when the source of your motivation is fear not hope? What are the signs that you’re running away from your fears and not towards your dreams? Below are the signs, I see now, when I look at my own situation.

1. Large Risks Don’t Make You Blink.

If you are so miserable and burned out from living a life that you weren’t intended to live, that a risky business deals sounds better than staying the course for another minute, you are being driven by fear.

2. You Stop Listening to Everyone.

Friends or family mustard up the courage to speak truth in love to you which is hard to do (especially if you are hard headed). You nod politely and pretend to listen but you are already implementing your new idea in your head. You don’t even consider the cons(s) in this scenario because, to you, they are negligible. Logic has left the building…

3. You Feel Like a Fake.

Once you start implementing what I’ll call the “false” dream others start to tell you that you are brave for venturing out, that you have guts and are fearless. All of this encouragement makes you feel like a fake because you are scared out of your mind. Not nervous excitement from starting something new but fear that if you don’t get this right you will have to go back to the world you escaped from.

4. Implementing Your “False” Dream is Like Banging Your Head Against a Wall.

Starting up a new venture and dream does take hard work but you should have more good days then bad. It should not drain the life out of you but make you feel free. If you’re not having fun, overall, then you have the wrong dream. If you dread working on it, it’s the wrong dream. If words of passion don’t flow out of you when you tell someone about it, it’s the wrong dream.

5. You Are Worried About Your Competitors.

This goes along with #4. When you are are headed towards your “false” dream you live out of scarcity not abundance. You fear the other people who do what you do; fear that they will take people away from you as if you own your customers. You can’t imagine how to partner and are ready to fight to protect your turf. The flip side, is when you are living in the right dream you could care less what others do. You simply do what you do. Serve who you serve. You don’t have time for, want or need the distraction of scarcity. You start to see opportunities to partner and collaborate.

6. You Are Willing to Lose It All to Make it Work.

Just like number 2, logic has left the building. Your biggest fear is failure. Maybe you have never failed at anything in your life and you’re not going to fail at this. Come hell or high water you will GET THIS TO WORK. Yeah – I’ve been there and what looks like hard work and determination is really pride. In the final stages, of the decision making process to shut my Business Coaching business down, I asked myself this question “If pride is the ONLY reason I am continuing this business is that the right one?” The answer was no. Pride and admitting failure is really not losing it all. I already lost our entire retirement, my health, on and on. I was not willing to lose my husband too; that is where I drew the line.

7. You Become Narcissistic.

This is really the root of the blind spots. We become so determined to make SOMETHING work that we only focus on us. We become obsessed with making our dream work – we eat, sleep and breathe it and become out of balance. A perfect example of this is Steve Jobs. I believe that he was driven by fear – He was as Narcissistic as they come if I believe what I read. Was he living his dream? I honestly don’t think so. I think he lost his soul in the process and lost his life which perhaps he began to recover later in life. Like Steve Jobs I also had a single track mind for a time. But when we only live for us, and if it goes on for too long, we end up standing alone…and if we succeed we become respected for what we did not who we are. I don’t know about you but that is not my dream…

Do you see yourself in any of the 7 signs? Will you chose to re-direct? Your REAL dream is worth the wait.

How To Be An Inspiring Leader

By Dr. Carol Morgan

So you’re the leader of a team now! Congratulations! Perhaps you’re a brilliant computer programmer, but if you suddenly got promoted to be a manager; you will need an entirely different skill set. Great leaders have good social skills, and they are adaptable. Here are 11 more things you can do to make sure you are the best leader possible.

1. Listen Effectively

Organizations value communication. But some leaders think they “know it all,” because they are the “one in charge,” so they don’t have to listen to their team members. However, this creates a negative atmosphere. Everyone wants their voice to be heard. So when your employees talk to you, lean forward, look into their eyes, nod, and then reflect back what they say to you. For example, if a team member just told you that a customer is angry and she is frustrated and confused about how to deal with him, you can paraphrase back to her and say, “What I hear you telling me is that you don’t know what to say to this customer to make him happy, and you would like my help. Am I correct?” This helps the employee feel valued.

2. Be Honest

Lying  or withholding information does not create a productive atmosphere at work. Everyone has an instinctual feeling and knows when they are not being told the truth. So if a leader lies or is not completely forthcoming with vital information, this will make his/her employees uncomfortable. When the team members aren’t comfortable with their leader, their performance decreases. So make sure you are open and honest with every person you lead

3. Have Confidence

Just because you are a person in power does not mean that you always have confidence in fulfilling that role. But remember, if someone hired you to manage other people, they must have faith in you! So have faith in yourself, too! You can do it. It all starts in the mind. Act like a leader. Think like a leader. Treat people with respect, and they will treat you the same. Have a “can-do” attitude. When your team sees your confidence, they will feel safe with you as their leader.

4. Be Direct and Specific With Your Language

Ambiguity does not get the job done. For example, if a team member asks you how to accomplish a task, don’t just say, “Oh I trust you. Do what you feel is best.” Instead, give them specific information. Say something like, “I would be happy to help you. What I would like to see is for you to first get all the sales statistics together. Second, merge them into pie charts, and then when you have that done, please write up a 3 page report and give it to me by Monday. Do you have any questions? And feel free to talk to me any time if you need more support and guidance. My door is always open.”

5. Lead by Example

We’ve all heard the phrase, “You talk the talk, but do you walk the walk?” Words are empty. People really do believe your actions over your words. So if you want your team to be superior employees, you need to be a superior leader. If you need them to stay until 8:00 every night for a week to get a project done, you better be there by their side.  Employees emulate their leaders much in the same way that children emulate their parents. So make sure your behavior is what you want to see in your team members.

6. Plan Ahead

Procrastination, anxiety and feeling rushed does not make for a productive team. So make sure you look to the future and plan everything ahead of time. While some people can work under pressure, others cannot. Make sure you share the plan of action with your team members and show them the timeline you need to follow to accomplish your projects. When everyone is on the same page and knows what is expected of them, they feel secure and more willing to get the job done.

7. Inspire Them‒Don’t Force Your Team To Do Things

People do better work when they “own” what they are doing. In other words, when people are forced to do something, they will resist. So it’s important to give positive encouragement to your team. Tell them how important their work is to the project and that you have faith in them. Even if you know it’s a task they won’t enjoy doing, make sure you keep it positive. Also, give them the option of choosing which assignments they feel they are passionate about and capable of doing.

8. Show Appreciation

Doing great work is wonderful, but if someone doesn’t feel valued, then they will not want to continue to give their best effort. Everyone likes to feel appreciated, even in the workplace. So make sure you thank your team members regularly. Thank them for their timeliness, staying late to finish a project, for their creativity, for inspiring other team members, or for winning a contract. Notice and acknowledge all of the accomplishments, both large and small.

9. Be Positive

A great leader creates a healthy and happy team community. The best way to do this is by being positive. Don’t play into negativity. For example, if a team member says, “We’re never going to win over this customer, it’s impossible.” Don’t agree with them. Respond with, “Let’s not get negative about it. Anything can happen. We just need to figure out a way to handle this problem client in the most effective way possible. Let’s have faith about this. I know you can do it. We’re going to help you.” As the leader, your employees look to you for guidance about which direction to aim their emotions.

10. Think About Your Team’s Needs

People are not just employees. They are husbands, wives, daughters, sons, friends, mothers, fathers, etc. In other words, they have a life outside of work. A great leader recognizes this. It will be common for some of your employees to need to take the day off because their child is sick and has to stay home from school. Be compassionate. Acknowledge that they have other life commitments. When they feel like you understand, they will be more likely to give 150% effort when they do come to work.

11. Be Flexible

A sign of a great leader is being able to adapt your leadership style to your individual team members. For example, maybe your team member, John ,needs to be told exactly what to do or else he will accomplish nothing. If that’s the case, you should be more directive and authoritarian with John. However, maybe Jane would be insulted with that kind of style. She performs best when the leader allows her to express her creativity and lets her be self-directed. The best leaders are flexible and adjust their style for each employee.

Bottom line is this: you can be a great leader. You just need to learn how. It’s not difficult, but if you keep these 11 things in mind, you will soar.

The Power Of Writing Down Your Goals: 5 Tips For Success

By Dan Munro

Goal setting is a very powerful practice.

Strategic goal-setting will help you define the activities you will undertake to achieve that dream life you always wanted. You can easily plan, step-by-step, the pathway that you will walk down to achieve your ultimate lifestyle.

In order to achieve something huge, you will be most effective if you break it down into manageable steps and focus on the process. You simply cannot jump straight to the finish line.

Most people do not achieve a majority of their goals for a number of reasons. These are the problems I see time and again with my clients, staff and friends:

• They only have goals in their head and never write them down or otherwise make them “real.” This means that the goals are never clearly defined and the barriers are not planned for, so they can never figure out what went wrong if it doesn’t work out

• Their goals are too broad and do not provide any guidance on how to actually achieve them; with goals like “I will become a millionaire.” This gives the goals an intimidating quality that reduces a person’s motivation and courage.

• They are not challenging enough to cause any major life improvements. Or, there are too few of them, like “I will get a promotion sometime in the next 5 years… and maybe also buy a dog.”

Every highly successful person I know has followed a written plan of action to achieve their success. OK, actually there are a couple of people I know who have just winged it and relied on blind desire to get them through. I don’t consider them to be any less successful. However, I do wonder if they could have achieved success quicker, easier, and more enjoyably if they had tried less of a brute-force method.

Imagine this:

You are challenged to build a structure out of blocks of Lego. For those of you who have never heard of Legos, they are small plastic blocks designed to cause excruciating pain when stepped on with the soft arch of the foot.

Anyway, the structure is to be a detailed, 50 foot high, exact replica of the Eiffel Tower, complete with all of the complex girders and beams.

Now, if someone dumped a truckload of grey Lego blocks in front of you, along with a photograph of the tower, and then just said “Build!” you wouldn’t stand a chance. A small few of you may be able to do it, but like the brute-force friends whom I mentioned earlier, it would take you a very long time and you would have to make thousands of mistakes.

Imagine the same scenario, but instead of a photo of the tower, the person hands you a set of detailed blueprints; step-by-step numbered instructions on how to assemble the blocks. These instructions not only guide you on how to connect the blocks, they also give you:

– a timetable to follow that ensures progress and makes efficient use of your time
– regular reminders about why building this structure will benefit you, so you stay motivated
– a guide on how to overcome some of the problems you are likely to encounter over time
– contact details for people who have already built one so that they can give you advice

All of a sudden, this imposing 50 foot structure becomes a relatively straightforward process you can follow. Each step along the way is challenging but entirely manageable.

Take those dreams of a better lifestyle and break them down into daily, weekly, and monthly activities which are entirely achievable. You’ll find that your waking life will transform slowly but surely until it becomes a series of challenging but enjoyable activities

This will ensure that you are achieving, instead of just living out your time. You’ll find that after a few months of doing, this you won’t ever be able to go back to just winging it; your ambition to succeed further every day will drive you for the rest of your life.

Here are some rules for writing your  goals:

1. Try a simple model – “DRM.”

I like this model because I made it up myself … anyway, it stands for Detailed, Realistic, and Measurable. Write your goals in such a way that a complete stranger could pick up what you’ve written and achieve the goal. DRM ensures you don’t have to problem-solve along the way, you just follow your own instructions.

2. Have no more than 10 goals at any given time.

You’re better off getting a few things done well than procrastinating on 100 things half-completed.

3. Aim for the smallest reasonable “next step.”

Start with the big picture in mind and then work backwards in logical steps. Keep working backwards until you arrive at where you currently are. You now have your next step. Until that’s completed, none of the other steps matter, so forget about them

4. Tell others about it to hold yourself accountable.

However, double-check to make sure you don’t need anyone or anything else. Goals should only need one person to complete them: YOU. Re-write any that rely on other people. That said, telling other people you plan to achieve your goal puts positive pressure on you to get it done. Secrecy leads to quitting.

5. Create a clear link between the goal and your overall dream.

Make sure it’s impossible to forget WHY you are trying to achieve this goal. Have a clear path from the goal to your dream life. When you’re trying to do 100 crunches, it helps to remember that this pain will lead to a six-pack.

4 Tips to Achieve Work-Life Balance

By Nicole Coope

During the stress-free days of elementary school, my favorite game on the playground was the good old fashioned seesaw. I recall spending half the recess time period with my best friend trying to get the seesaw to stay exactly balanced in the middle. Little did I know I would spend the majority of my adult life working on the same balance in my work and personal life. The most recent Internet articles continuously state, “Work-life balance does not exist, and it cannot be achieved”. I humbly disagree, as my childhood years proved with the right tools, balancing a seesaw is possible.

Here are 4 lessons learned from an elementary school girl on how to achieve work-life balance:

1. Surround yourself with “best friends” – Run from the naysayers and critics

I chose to ride the seesaw with my best friend every day because she was encouraging and supportive. We laughed when we flew up in the air and cracked up when one of us would plummet down with a “thump”. It was a fun and creative atmosphere. I avoided, actually I ran, from the kids that yelled at me for hitting the ground, criticized me for not doing it right, or even went so far as to blame my weight as the cause for our failure. By the way, I was a skinny stick, who for a moment questioned my weight and worth – but that is another story. Lesson Learned: Surround yourself with family members, friends, and co-workers that will come along side and support you with their time and words in ALL areas of your life. Remember: “You cannot hang out with negative people and expect to live a positive life”

2. Stop comparing yourself to 6th Graders (or others) – Find what works uniquely for you

I used to get frustrated watching the 6th grade girls balance the seesaw in half the amount of time it took me and my friend. They made it look so easy that when I tried to mimic their exact steps, it failed every time. After my oldest son started kindergarten, I realized the other elementary school moms were volunteering in the classroom 3 to 4 times a month and eating lunch with their child. I was lucky to get my son to school on time, let alone volunteer or eat in the cafeteria during the day. The more I compared myself to others, the more I felt like a horrible parent that was failing her son academically – “what’s wrong with me”. I’m not a supermom volunteer at school but I found a parent-helper plan for balance that worked for me and my son (my #1 priority). Lesson Learned: When you are looking at the people around you and feel as though you are not enough, STOP the comparison game and develop your own unique strategy. Remember: “Comparison is the thief of all JOY”.

3. Sometimes you get stuck – Ask for help

Every once in a while, I would get stuck at the top of the seesaw. I was scared I would not be able to get down without plummeting to the ground and the whole experience was outside my realm of control. These were the moments, when I would erratically scream for a Playground Volunteer, who then swiftly lowered me down to the ground with ease. When I have been overwhelmed in my business or personal life, it feels very similar to being stuck on the seesaw. I am feeling a lack of control and not sure how to handle the situation without hurting myself, or others. In these moments, I have had to:

• Recognize I’m scared, overloaded, or stressed
• Acknowledge I don’t have all the answers, and I cannot do it alone
• Humble myself to ask for help from a mentor, family member, or friend
• Receive the help that has been offered – whether it is time, advice, service, or a gift

Lesson Learned: Frightening or stressful situations are a lot easier to bear when you ask for help; the outcome is never as difficult as you imagined. Remember: “Fears are the stories we tell ourselves”

4.) Find the effort needed to achieve balance – Be prepared for trial and error

When I focused on going up on the seesaw I often pushed so hard that my friend would sink like a rock to the bottom – ugggh, painful moments. To avoid the crash, we tried to stay focused on one another and slowly pushed on our toes to find the exact percentage of energy needed to find balance. When I focused 100% on work, then my family had less of my time and my personal health often suffered due to stress. On the other hand, when I focused 100% on my family, then my business suffered financially and I missed key opportunities for growth and promotion. Clearly pushing “all-in” in one area of my life was detrimental to other areas. I did not get it all figured out in a week, and I had to accept the fact that I would make mistakes along the way. Lesson Learned: Identifying your priorities and establishing equilibrium in your business, relationships, and personal life requires patience with the process of trial and error. Remember: “Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least” ~Goethe

As if it was yesterday, I can easily recall the feeling of satisfaction and joy when my best friend and I achieved perfect balance on the seesaw. It was a moment of success and jubilation. If you are willing to implement the lessons learned and patiently find the effort needed in the most important areas of your life, then you will experience the peace of work-life balance and the joy of a life well lived.

7 Questions To Ask So You Can PLAY BIG!

By Tom Rubens

Do you feel like there is a giant inside you just itching to come out? Like you were meant to do something really big, but for some reason you are stuck playing small? This comes up more frequently in my coaching than you may realize.

There is no one right way to deal with this issue, but there are some critical questions to ask yourself as you work to play as big as you possibly can.

1. What’s stopping you? This question needs some very focused and honest attention … and it leads to more questions.

2. Do you have any limiting beliefs that are keeping you from reaching for the highest fruit in your life?

3. Be honest with yourself here … are there any fears you have that are holding you back?

4. Do you fear failure? What does failure mean to you? How do you define it?

5. Here’s one that may catch you off guard … are you afraid of success?

6. What would you your life look like if you were to be truly successful?

7. Are you willing to be the person you need to be to welcome success into your life?

There are no easy answers here, but simply honoring yourself by spending some quiet time alone to breathe into the questions, will help you begin the process of becoming the best possible version of yourself.

How does this sound to you? Are you willing to treat yourself to the gift of being the biggest you you can possibly be? I hope so….

Here’s another issue that one of my clients has been dealing with recently. Is there a conflict between your spiritual values and your financial ambitions? This can be a crippling problem, and it is an interesting issue that can sometimes manifest as a time management problem.

Let me tell you what I mean by that. Over 20 years ago, I read a book by Charles Hobbs, called Time Power. Hobbs was way ahead of the curve on this one. In fact, I don’t think I had ever even heard the term time management, before reading his book. But it really resonated with me, and I ended up buying a copy for my entire staff. It was out of print for a long time, but I think it just came back out, so you might be able to pick up a copy. Hobbs introduced the notion that the foundation of time management, was our unifying principles – our highest priorities in life. Benjamin Franklin called them his thirteen virtues. You can call them whatever you want, the number and name of this list are unimportant. This list is the foundation upon which your legacy will be built. Give it the attention it deserves. That you deserve. Every day.

The hard part is not writing your unifying principles – it is living them. Living in conflict with these truths will prove to be the greatest time waster of all.

Until next time, Live Accountably.

4 Guidelines For When Your Name Is Also Your Brand

By Maura Desimone

One of the most common issues for business owners is defining their business. This is particularly true for personally branded businesses. An example of a personally branded business would be ‘Oprah Winfrey.’ Her name is her businesss and her personal brand. There’s been a trend in these types of businesses over the last several years, which is great to see, but brings an interesting set of issues with it.

The biggest issue is a struggle with separating the person from the business, but also keeping some personality. You want to keep the professional part of the person and intertwine it with the business part of the brand. But you also need to keep your own identity as an individual, obviously. So what’s an entrepreneur to do?

Here are 4 guidelines:

1. Develop A Strong Tag Line.

Naming your business after yourself is great, but you also need to let people know what it is you do and how you can help them. In these cases, the tag line is extra important. The goal is to condense it into just a few words that specifically define what your business is about. Don’t be too tricky, and don’t make people guess. You want your tag line to be short and straight to the point. For example: “Coaching For Business Growth” would be better than “If you want to find ways to make your business better then call me to help you with that.”

2. Secure An Effective Domain name.

When choosing a domain name, you will have a greater chance of attracting potential clients searching for you online if your area of expertise and/or location (if location specific) is included is that name. Statistics show that more than 90% of the public is out there searching for products and services before they connect with anyone. If you secure a domain name such as,”EmmasCoachingSeattle.com,” it will work much better than, “EmmaLikesCats.com.” If your business was all about how much you liked cats, then that would be a great domain name, but if it isn’t, then it’s not such a good choice.

3. View your business as a separate ‘person.’

Talk about it as a separate entity. Plan for it as a separate ‘person.’ But keep in mind that it is an extension of yourself – the higher, more professional part of yourself. Attracting the right clients will be a constant balancing act of personal and professional. Err on the side of professional in the case of business decisions. For example: ‘Oprah Winfrey the person’ may love cats so much she has them on her underwear, but ‘Oprah Winfrey the business’ will not talk about this because it’s not professional. ‘Oprah Winfrey the business’ will instead share with you a local underwear company that makes really nifty cat underwear in case anyone wants to buy some, because that’s what her business does – it promotes products she likes. Get it?

4. Don’t make business decisions based on personal preferences.

This is a big one and also ties in with viewing your business as a separate ‘person.’ If your favorite color is pink but your business isn’t selling barbie dolls, then don’t use it. Use color as a tool. If you’re a business coach, use a color like blue that inspires trust. The same goes for any sort of advertising or marketing that you’re using for your business. If you like a type face, but it’s hard to read, then don’t use it. You won’t get your message across. Use a type face that reflects the personality of your business and is readable. If your family member likes to dabble in designing websites, but is employed as a vet tech, don’t have them design your website. Chances are it won’t look very good, it won’t work well, and it won’t draw new clients in. Try hard to make decisions about your business from a perspective that takes your customers wants and needs into account, not your own. You need to sell to your customers, not to yourself.

If you follow these guidelines you’ll have a much easier time connecting with your target market, which in turn will help your business grow more quickly.

3 Things That Stop You From Starting Your Own Business

By Tom Rubens

What was your dream as a child? Maybe it included owning your own business. For many people, it does. If you are one of those people, what has been holding you back? Why haven’t you acted yet? I have coached many entrepreneurs, and I’ve seen several themes emerge. I would like to share the top three “obstacles” that most people let stop them from venturing out on their own:

1. Fear

Fear is frequently the first demon that rises up to stop us in our tracks on the way to our dreams. For some of you, the fear of failure is overwhelming … almost paralyzing. You are so busy replaying the story in your head about how you can’t afford to fail, but then that leaves you stuck with the belief that failing at something makes you a ‘failure’.

Not true.

The truth is that not reaching outside your comfort zone might be the surest guarantee of failure. Ironically, the fear of success is sometimes even more powerful than the fear of failure. Perhaps you are tied to your current identity as someone who just got dealt a bad hand in life. That’s who you are and how you show up in the world. Success would really screw that whole story up for you, wouldn’t it? If you actually pulled yourself up and succeeded – on your own – you’d have to change your whole belief system. You’d have to become someone with whom you are totally unfamiliar.

2. Not Having the Money

This is the most commonly stated reason that most entrepreneurs give when they face the challenge of starting their own business. I’m not buying that. Fear, lack of self-belief, and the absence of structure, strategy, and clear intention keep more potential success stories on the sidelines than lack of money ever could.

3. Lack of Self-Confidence

Of course, this is tied to your self-belief. It is very difficult to fundamentally change what you believe to be true about yourself, and also how you think the world works. Negative self-image – whether it comes from your weight, your looks, your current financial situation, your kids, or any other de-energizing stories you tell yourself, is a tough hole to crawl out of.

Even if you are reasonably confident in yourself and willing to take a chance on your entrepreneurial dream, if you don’t have a structure in place to implement the strategies needed to be successful in your chosen field, you are going to struggle mightily to make your business work. If you come from a work environment where strategic planning and organization were not part of your skill set, you will need to acquire those skills if you want to truly rise above your competition.

So, let me ask you a question. How would it feel if you had the tools to overcome your fear of failure? Or success? What if you were able to walk arm-in-arm with courage, towards just the things you used to fear the most?

If you could adjust your self image, so that you actually loved and admired all the things that made you uniquely you, do you think success would be a bit easier to access and maintain? Yes. It would.

Do you think that if you had a clear picture of what a successful business looked like, and an easily implementable structure that you could follow to keep your business running smoothly, that you could move far beyond your current state of financial and personal affairs?

I’ve given you a little taste today of what you need to work on to achieve greater success in your business and your life. These are some of the problems I solve for my coaching clients on a regular basis. Business is business, and the skills you need to succeed are the same whether you are baking cookies, manufacturing semiconductors, or selling dietary supplements.

Are you ready to step up your game? Let’s go.

 

Top 5 Tips For Being A Successful Solopreneur

By Maura Desimone

Being an entrepreneur, and more specifically – a solopreneur – can be challenging. Here are 5 tips for success when you’re in business for yourself, and by yourself:

1. Manage Your Time Effectively.

With the world as your oyster, the tremendous amount of flexibility you have can be daunting at times. The key is to develop a schedule. Schedule in all those things you want or need to do: self care, client meetings, work time, business development time. Whatever it is you want to include in your life, add it to your calendar. Often, I schedule self-care time and tell clients I have meetings (they don’t need to know). The most important asset you have is yourself. Taking care of yourself will make your business more successful.

2. Seek Out Professional Networking Groups.

The agony of finding a good business networking group is s-l-o-w and time consuming. It took me a few years of searching to find one that fit my needs. I sat through many dead end coffee groups and Chamber meetings until I stumbled across my beloved Women In Networking Group. I’v been a member for 9 years now, and it has been a huge gift to my life and my business. I’ve developed incredible friendships, learned great business practices, and found invaluable resources that have benefitted me both personally and professionally. A quality business networking group is a powerful resource for any business trying to grow. It connects you to to other professionals on a routine basis and creates an environment of comradery in a sometimes difficult business climate. Being part of a supportive professional group helps you see things in a different light and can help you out of many difficult situations.

3. Realize Your Weak Spots.

Success relies on knowing your strengths and your weaknesses. In the areas where you’re weak or need some extra help, don’t fight it, just go with it. Use it as an opportunity to break out of your bubble and find some resources. Once you identify your key areas of needed resources or support, you’re halfway there. Then when the need does arise you will have some options, you’t won’t feel the need to freak out and lose your work time, you’ll have it handled and be able to keep the business running smoothly. Whether it’s child care, accounting or legal advice, a little planning goes a very long way.

4. Don’t Be Afraid Of Change.

Otherwise known as, “You’re the captain of your own ship.” This is one of my favorite sayings of all time and comes from my kid’s preschool teacher. It’s as effective for preschoolers as it is for adults. One of the best things about working for yourself is your ability to figure out pretty quickly what’s working and what isn’t. If something isn’t working, instead of trying to pretend it is, just change it. Concede, move on, try a different approach. Ask someone else their opinion if you’re stuck. But the bottom line is that there’s absolutely NO reason to get stuck. You have the power and ability to make changes – whether big or small – for your business. So just do it!

5. Give Yourself Permission.

The saying goes, “Life isn’t about how many hours you work, it’s how you spend your time.” Or something like that. The absolute best part of being a solopreneur is being able to take time off when you want it or need it. Go for a walk, go to the beach, take a trip, go to your kids play, visit a friend, take your dog for a walk. It’s all the little things in life that add up to being happy. I believe the happiest workers are those who have space in their life to do these little things that add up to big meaning. Studies have also shown that we are more productive if we don’t work all the time. So get out there, breathe some fresh air, unplug for a while and come back to work ready to make things happen. I guarantee it works.

The life of a solopreneur can be very rewarding. So keep these 5 tips in mind, and you’ll be both happy and successful.

4 Reasons Your Business Shouldn’t Be The ‘Shy Kid’

By Maura Desimone

Is your business like the shy kid in class?

Remember the shy kid in class? You don’t? Yes, that’s my point. The shy kid doesn’t leave an impression. The shy kid doesn’t talk much. The shy kid doesn’t share many thoughts. The shy kid flies in under the radar, usually because there is a certain amount of pain and discomfort in interacting with others. The shy kid is the wall flower who just blends into the background. I know this well, because I was always the shy kid in class.

Obviously, I’m not talking about interpersonal relationships – I’m talking about your business. But the end result is the same.

So here are 4 reasons why your business shouldn’t be the ‘shy kid:’

1. Being the ‘shy kid’ isn’t interesting.

As I’ve grown and evolved, I’ve decided it’s not that interesting to be the shy kid anymore. And since I’m a business owner, being a shy kid doesn’t pay the bills. Or even allow me to run a business. So the shy kid got put to bed, and in its place I developed a personality for my business. The personality of my business is called my brand.

2. ‘Shy kids’ don’t have a definite ‘branding.’

A brand is a business tool that defines who you are and what you do. Depending on the type of business you have, your brand may include certain graphics, typography, colors, music, flavors, ideals, etc. The ways to define your brand are really endless. One of the most common ways people brand their business is by developing a logo design. The logo design will include specific type styles, colors and sometimes graphics. All of these elements give visual indications of what the business is about. They help to define the personality of the business, which makes the business more memorable.

3. Your target market won’t find you if you’re the ‘shy kid.’

Whether your business is only one person, or if it’s thousands of people, it’s still the same concept: The whole reason to develop a brand for your business is to make it easier for your target market to find you. That’s why there’s such tremendous value in developing your brand – your business success relies on it. Strong branding helps your market find you and remember you. Having a strong brand will create greater sales in your business.

4. ‘Shy kids’ don’t have personality and don’t make many ‘friends.’

A business that has no personality isn’t memorable and doesn’t get much business. Think about those business cards you sometimes see that are on flimsy white paper with a few lines of black text on them. Do you ever remember what the business is about? What they’re offering? Do you want to keep their card and learn more about them? Probably not. They just disappear into the background, just like the shy kid in class.

So don’t let your business be like the shy kid in class. Get out there. Find your market and share your message with the world. Your business will thank you for it!

What are YOUR Success Attributes?

By Kristi Hoffman

As a child, I was rather reserved.  I didn’t necessarily know how to assert myself or go after what I wanted.  And I most certainly hadn’t defined what I wanted at that time, as I was busy living in the moment. And like a turtle, I was living under a shell, protected and unaware of the bigger world awaiting me outside of that shell.

It wasn’t until later in life that I realized I needed a plan, a structure, a Chick path to lead me towards greater things yet to reveal themselves.  Things that would foster fulfillment and success, like a rewarding and enjoyable career, healthy lifelong relationships, a fit body, a clear mind.

Today I’m living a Total Package Life where every decision I make is made with the greatest intention of aligning my body, brain, and spirit.  That is a Total Package Life. But it took many steps, many years of experience, an acknowledgement of my talents, strengths and attributes, and much introspection, to get here.  I didn’t necessarily realize it at the time, but I was relying solely on my inside, natural attributes to carry me through…which is a good first step on the Chick path.

Some time back I interviewed Dr. Lucy Gibney, an M.D. and savvy businesswoman who started Lucy’s, Inc., a natural food brand company specializing in snacks that are non-GMO, natural, vegan, gluten free and food-allergy friendly.  Among other things, I asked her what attributes drove her to start her now-successful company (they were in 7000 retail locations in five countries, at the time of my Total Package interview).  In addition to her successful medical career, she said that as a child she was observant, curious, creative, independent, and social.  These attributes, she said, helped her hone her entrepreneurial skills and be successful in her corporation.  She noted that at every step of her career, from M.D. to successful CEO, she kept learning and growing, and building on her core attributes.

Dr. Lucy’s advice makes me ponder how I evolved from a reserved girl into a more assertive public speaker, success coach and lifestyle author.  I realized that I’ve always been driven to succeed and I’ve noticed that when making clear decisions that involve my body, brain, and spirit as a whole, I’ve been able to shine.  What was missing in my younger years was the eye-opening Total Package revelation that I needed to focus on blending my talents, loves, and God-given attributes.  I needed to complete the equation of me.  Like Dr. Lucy, I first had to identify my core skill set.  Only then could I continue traveling down my life path with clarity. I had to keep learning, growing, and focusing on blending my talents and loves.  And with every focused decision on body, brain, and spirit, my Chick path became clearer.  Today, it has evolved into one that’s not only fulfilling and successful, but fun!

Think about, even ask others in your close circles, what your skill set and attributes are. Where do you shine at work? What random compliments do you receive? Attributes may not present themselves fully yet, but they are inside you. In fact, you’ve been honing them for years.  Uncover today what YOUR success attributes are.  Run with them, and use them to shine, grow, and come out of your shell.

Major in One of These To Make Big Bucks

You spend a lot of time and money going to college – or paying for your kid(s) to go, and time worrying about them!

After all that time in school, finally graduation day comes and it’s time to put those skills to work and look for a job.

Not everyone that gets a degree will find it easy to get a job, and those that do may have to settle for fewer dollars than they hoped for.

So what are the best majors for both finding a job, and making a lot of money?

Think STEM – science, technology, engineering and math.

And not only do jobs in these areas tend to start off higher, they continue to rise faster than their counterparts in culinary arts, elementary education and exercise science, to name a few.

Obviously, no one wants to go to school to study something they are not interested in and there is more to education than how many dollars you can make when you get out.

But, in case you are interested, here are the top ten degrees that make the most money, along with starting salaries:

Petroleum engineering, $98,000
Chemical engineering, $67,500
Nuclear engineering, $66,800
Electrical engineering, $63,400
Computer engineering, $62,700
Aerospace engineering, $62,500
Mechanical engineering, $60,100
Materials science and engineering, $60,100
Industrial engineering, $59,900
Computer science, $58,400

For the mid-career pay that someone could expect after working in the field for 15 years, check out the credit.com blog: http://blog.credit.com/2013/08/10-college-majors-with-the-best-starting-salaries/

Why LinkedIn Should Be Part of Your Professional Strategy

It’s hard to believe that Social Media is relatively new. There was a time when there was no Facebook, no Twitter.

Did you know that the time people spent participating in social media increased by 37% in just one year, from 88 billion minutes in July of 2011 to 121 billion minutes in July of 2012.

Who MEASURES this stuff?

Still, it has become a significant way to exchange information and keep in touch. As much as I resisted Facebook, I have been very grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with – and stay more connected with – people that I knew in High School and that I have worked with along the way.

But LinkedIn is something that I still haven’t felt much of a draw to. I do have a profile, and I am connected there with many people that I have worked with in the past. I probably login once every three months or so!

But I came across an article at 3plusinternational.com recently about how it is important to your career to put some time and energy into building an up-to-date profile on LinkedIn. It is a great networking tool, and shouldn’t be overlooked as an important way to get your name out there in front of possible employers.

ALL recruiters look there at some point when they are looking to hire new blood, and you want your presence there to be known and impressive.

They recommend having a powerful summary and 3 success stories under each position, in order to show that you are proud of what you have achieved and are willing to share that information.

LinkedIn has over 200 million users around the world!

They are holding an eWorkshop on how to Leverage LinkedIn to Advance Your Career on July 15th, if you are interested in that or just want to read more about their recommendations around LinkedIn, check it out here.

What is the Fastest Growing Area of Employment?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that one of the fastest growing areas of employment is within Networking Technology.  CNN Money agrees with that assessment, predicting it as the number one area to see double digit growth between now and 2014!

Ahhh, computers!

What kind of opportunities do people have when they complete a Networking Technology program?

Jobs such as data entry and computer operators to Network and computer administrators and analysts. You learn how to provide technical support to both hardware and software systems.

[box type=”success” align=”alignleft” ]Computer jobs aren’t for everyone, for sure, but they can provide a pretty decent income and if you love problem solving and technology it could be right up your alley![/box]

Gary Coman, of Cisco Corporate Affairs, shares some of the reasons that Networking Technology courses should be included within the curriculum of anyone training for or switching to a different career.

1. While you do need basic math and reading skills, you don’t have to be really great at advanced mathematics

2. With networking skills you can get an edge on your job possibilities, as there is a need for people up to speed with technology in every sector imaginable.

3. There are standards for these skills that apply worldwide.  So you can go anywhere you want – the world is your oyster, as they say!

Find out more about why Gary is so enthusiastic about this career path and the Cisco Networking Academy, for which he is currently the director of engineering, by clicking to his article here.

What Color IS Your Parachute?

If you have EVER been confused about what career path to choose, you very well may have read “What Color Is My Parachute” by Richard Bolles.

It is considered the Bible for folks looking for a job or seeking to change careers, and it was first published back in late 1970!

At that point, it was just a self-published book, but since 1972 it has been published by Ten Speed Press. And it isn’t just the same book as it was back in those days, Richard Bolles significantly updates and even rewrites it every year to take into account the current job situation.

So even if you bought a copy several years ago, the version that is out there today will be very different. Many people buy a copy every year or two, just to be current with the job market and opportunities.

Far more than just a “job hunting guide,” Parachute leads you in a self-exploration journey which can be a worthwhile exercise even if you are NOT in the market for a new job. It is worth checking out the book just in order to do the Flower Exercise!

Do you think employers are sitting out there waiting for the next resume to arrive in order to fill a vacancy?

Not so much. Maybe as a last resort…

Most of the time they are far more likely to hire from within, or someone that they have experience with either as a contractor, an intern, or a temporary worker.

This is just one of the many useful tips about job seeking that Bolles shares in his timeless book.

There are other books out there to help you to help you find a job, but there are none that are so complete as What Color Is My Parachute?

Oh – and as of March of this year – 2013 – there is also a tablet edition that will allow you to do the Flower Exercise with no handwriting involved!  It is meant to be a supplement to the book, not a replacement for it.

Younger Boss: The Difference Could Be A Good Thing!

I remember being the youngest worker in the office for quite a long time. I’d always liked people older than me, so I didn’t really think too much of it.

After many years of working, I realized one day that I had actually turned into one of the older people on my team, and that felt really strange!

Several bosses have come and gone throughout my career, and most of them have been either older or within a couple of years of my age.

But I started thinking the other day about what it might be like to work for someone that was a lot younger than me.

Where would those age differences show themselves?

Work hours

The hours you work are the hours you work, right? Many older workers have settled into a “9 to 5” or “8 to 5” kind of mentality, and when they are done with work that is it.

Younger workers are more likely to be sending out emails before and after work. They may believe in a more flexible work schedule.

Communications

This is the age of electronics, baby! It’s about instant messaging and texting in many cases rather than face to face conversations with people. And you have to admit that is a lot more efficient.

People that have been working in a place for many years may be used to having conversations in person, and may need to learn to adapt to the less-personal, no-chance-to-read-body-language sort of communication style.

An interesting tidbit from Forbes:

A tip: Young people assume that a missed cellphone call serves the same purpose as a voicemail message asking for a call back. It makes sense. Who wants to sit there forever while a tedious automated voice drones, “Please wait for the tone before recording your message …”

Now, instant messages are great, but i would still not call back someone unless they asked me to… Sounds like I still have some catching up to do!

Willingness to Change

Growing up with technology and all its changes has made “Generation Y” used to things changing quickly, and that doesn’t just apply to tech. They also tend to embrace those changes quickly and easily. People that have gotten comfortable in their position over many years sometimes tend to resist changes.

On the other side of things, just because it is new and shiny doesn’t mean it actually IS a better way to approach how things are done.

Setting expectations

Adaptations are needed on both sides when the Boss is the younger of the two. Share visions and expectations, learn to know each other as people. Celebrate your differences as an opportunity to learn and grow. Treat each other with respect and the difference in the number of years will fade into unimportance.

And remember this: making changes in any area of your life will help you build new neural pathways in your brain, too, so getting a younger boss could very well be good for your head!

5 Tips To Interview Success

You, or maybe one of your children, are preparing yourself to enter the job market – maybe for the first time or maybe you have pursued training to go a different path.

Endless, sleep-deprived hours were spent preparing for this career. You made some of the top grades in your class, and you are feeling pretty darn proud of yourself.

You know that employment rates are getting better, and although times are still a little tough, you feel like you have a better chance than many because you are so well qualified.

Not necessarily.

The person that is the most qualified for a position may not be the one that gets it!

Which doesn’t seem fair, does it?

Good grades, hard work, and achievement are not the only factors that will land you that job.

Oh, I’m not saying that you don’t need those as well – without that it may be even harder. But if there are many people that are applying and interviewing for a position the resumes can start looking pretty much the same.

[box type=”success” align=”alignleft” ]The person who gets hired will be the one that made the best impression on the person doing the hiring. You have to be able to sell yourself.[/box]

Here are a few tips to help you succeed in an interview (whether you have a new career or not!):

1. It isn’t just what you say – your body language is a big part of the impression you make, so be sure to sit up straight.  Smile often and make eye contact regularly.

2. Keep your conversation positive. Don’t complain about other jobs, or anything else for that matter!

3. Try to identify what problem(s) the company is wanting to solve by filling this position and be prepared with some examples of how you might solve them. Sometimes this can be very obvious just by the nature of the position. Make them believe you are part of the solution!

4. Stay on track – answer the question directly and don’t add embellishments that take the interview off track.

5. Practice a few interviews with a friend before you do it for “real.”

Another trick that I like to do before any interview is take a few moments to breathe slowly and visualize the interview, seeing myself calm and sure, confident that I will get an offer.

It almost always works for me!

Amp Up Your Personal Style

If you happen to be bored with your wardrobe at the moment you may be interested in the latest fashion tips by Aneeka Simonis, a journalism student in Australia. She is an advocate of developing eye-catching personal style.

Her article caught my eye today, as I was feeling very unsatisfied with my clothes (I just visited my sister and she is oh-so-much-more-stylish than I have ever been.)

Sigh.

Fashion style changes over time, and I am not always up to speed, but you can always have your own unique look within that.

Aneeka has some advice that appealed to me, and maybe you will like it too.

1. Mix up some vintage items with your more modern pieces – she recommends 2 new to 1 retro. But including something from the past can be sort of fun!

2. Drop the black and add some color.  LOTS of color. Bold color has a direct impact on our energy level, while black tends to have the opposite effect, so don’t be afraid to experiment with all sorts of bright colors. (This was actually my favorite piece of advice, as I know I do feel better with bright colors and try to seek them out).

3. Don’t get into a rut with your fashion. Many people tend to buy the same types of styles and colors over and over – even fabric. Experiment with different textures and patterns.

4. Experiment with fashion “clashes” – define your own guidelines, the more exotic the better!

5. Have your own feature fashion item. I know someone that has about a hundred different hats, I wouldn’t recognize that person if she didn’t have a hat on! Do hoodies count as a fashion item I wonder? LOL

Aneeka goes into a lot more detail in her article, read it on the Modern Woman’s Survival Guide blog.

Living Like Martha Stewart

Do you have mixed emotions about Martha Stewart? Many people seem to feel that way, something about all of that perfection…  But she didn’t get there in a day.

I hadn’t realized that she had started her career as a model until I saw a recent article in Entrepreneur!

And while I knew (along with everyone else in the country) that she had served time for insider trading, I didn’t know that she had spent time as an institutional stock broker on Wall Street as well.  I thought she just had friends that knew stuff…

But she has had several “careers” along the way, just like many of us have. Her catering business was what brought her into the spotlight eventually with her advice on entertaining and eventually the whole “Martha Stewart Living” venture.

I have to admit that I have picked up one of her magazines on more than one occasion.

She shares some advice on how to be successful as an entrepreneur (but I think it applies to other endeavors as well!):

1. Don’t stop learning, and don’t focus on retirement – the word implies ending it all, and there are always more things to explore and do. (I was really happy to hear her say this, my family thinks I am crazy, but I have always felt that way!)

2. Inspiration is all around us, be aware at all times of what is around you.

3. Often people talk about needing balance between work and personal life, but she thinks everyone needs to define what that balance is for them.

4. Don’t let obstacles get you down, the “bad” times are just bumps in the road. And whatever your feelings may be about her, I don’t think anyone can deny that her recovery from all of that negative publicity was inspirational!

Read more about Martha and her advice in Entrepreneur.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Did you realize that you can grow a whole garden full of food from parts of veggies that you would normally chuck down the garbage disposal?

Or compost heap, depending on how you normally deal with scraps of food you don’t actually want to eat.

But these little gems can be planted and you will soon have your own crop to harvest – just ask Lisa Keating, author of the EncinoMom.com blog.

You may already know that you can plant a potato with eyes into the ground to grow more potatoes, but you may not realize what other opportunities there are.

Here are a few of the items she recommends using to create your own garden:

1.  Celery – if you cut the celery off 2 inches from the bottom, you can plant that whole base and grow your own celery.

2.  Carrots – cut the tops off and place them in shallow water. After a while, little roots will begin to grow. At that point you can place them in the ground.

3.  Garlic – keep a few cloves from the bulb, and plant them a few inches into the ground. with the pointy end up.

Lisa has some other vegetables that she likes to grow, you can find them along with instrutions on her website at https://encinomom.com/sprouts-growing-organic-produce/

Is Working From Home A Good Thing?

Working from home has been a hot topic of conversation ever since Yahoo’s CEO (Marissa Mayer) made her stunning announcement that working from home is no longer allowed, and everyone is expected to come into the office.

I know this sparked much debate where I work for my “real” job.

There are people who feel very strongly that working in the office were everyone is in one place allows sharing and expanding ideas, and “water cooler” conversations that allow more collaberation.

I think there are advantages to that for sure, but just because someone is in the office doesn’t mean they are actually getting work done! Back in the days when NO ONE worked from home, there were those that spent most of their working hours walking their coffee cup around the office.

Some one that is not that interested in getting work done will find many creative ways to not work, regardless of where they are spending time.

I have also had people tell me that they cannot work at home, as the allure of the work needed in the garden, or any place else in the house, was stronger than sitting at a desk being productive.

And there are the people that never respond when they are “working” at home – in these days of Instant Messenger it is easier than ever to find out if they are around!

All of that being said, there is a lot to be said for working from home.

I spend more time working when my computer is there and on all the time than I did when I had to shut my computer down to come home. I actually find it easier to focus at home where there are not all those folks wanting to chat throughout the day.

The people on my team are scattered all over the country, and even though there are several offices, many are missing from that location so you never have them all together anyway.

There are many, many conference calls throughout the day too, and at home I can use my wireless headset and walk around (getting my steps in!) while on the call without disturbing anyone. (Just pacing behind my desk, not “doing” anything else. There are many articles published on the research around the health risks of sitting too much or for too long at a time).

People that work from home need to be accountable in some way that they are actually accomplishing what they are meant to do. There is quite a nice conversation about this on an article on the New York Time’s Small Business site, among women owner’s of small businesses (Read it here). They talk about accountability and how some jobs lend themselves to working from home and some do not. But in the end, it still boils down to the person and how they handle their responsibilities.

Lia Seth also brings up another point regarding PWD – people with disabilities. Sometimes it is very hard for them to get to an office depending on what is happening with their conditions, and it can put them at a disadvantage to be expected to be in the office at all times.

What are your thoughts about working from home?