Tag Archive | "success"

6 Authentic Ways to Inspire Other People When You’re Not Great With Words


In order to succeed, almost everyone–whether business owner or employee–must not only stand out but also be inspirational. Leading requires the ability to encourage, to motivate, and to inspire, reports Inc. 

But what if you’re not comfortable speaking to groups… or even to individuals? What if finding the right words is something that always seems to elude you?

That’s okay. Instead of using words, inspire others through action. Here are some genuine ways to be inspirational–and to have a lot more fun in the process.

1. Don’t try to talk. Just do.

Words are often quickly forgotten. What most of us say isn’t particularly interesting — but what we do can definitely be.

So spend your time doing instead of talking. Actions are memorable. Actions are inspiring. Actions inspire other people to follow your lead and take actions of their own.

And that’s especially true when you…

2. Do unusual things.

Draw a circle and put all your “stuff” in it. Your circle will look a lot like everyone’s: Everyone works, everyone has a family, everyone has homes and cars and clothes….

We like to think we’re unique, but roughly speaking we’re all the same–and similar isn’t inspiring.

So occasionally do something really different. Backpack to the next town just to see how many people stop to offer you a ride. (Don’t take them up on it, though, since unless you appear to be in distress the people eager to give you a ride tend to be the last people you want to ride with.) Try to hike/scramble to the top of a nearby mini-mountain no one climbs. (Do yourself a favor and take water along.) Compete with your daughter to see who can swim the most laps in an hour. (If you live in my house you’ll lose really, really badly.)

Or work from a coffee shop one day just to see what you learn about other people… and what you learn about yourself.

Whatever you do, the less productive and sensible it is the better. Your goal isn’t to accomplish something worthwhile. Your goal is to collect experiences.

Experiences, especially unusual experiences, make your life a lot richer and way more interesting–to you and to other people. You can even…

3. Do the occasional stupid thing.

I know. You’re supremely focused, consistently on point, and relentlessly efficient.

And you’re also really, really boring.

Remember when you were young and followed stupid ideas to their illogical conclusions? Road trips, failing the cinnamon challenge, trying to eat six saltine crackers in one minute without water… you dined out on those stories for years.

Going on “missions,” however pointless and inconvenient, was fun. In fact the more pointless the mission the more fun you had because that made it all about the ride and not the destination.

So do something, just once, that adults no longer do. Drive eight hours to see a band. Buy your seafood at the dock.

Or do something no one thinks of doing. Ride along with a policeman on a Friday night. (It’s the king of eye-opening experiences.)

Pick something it doesn’t make sense to do a certain way… and do it that way. You’ll inspire other people to take chances of their own — and to not worry about what other people think.

4. Embrace your own cause…

People care about–and remember–people who care. Stand for something and you instantly stand apart — and inspire people.

But…

5. But don’t ever talk about your cause. 

People who brag are not remembered for what they’ve done. They’re remembered for the fact they brag. (That’s why the first — and second — rule of doing good is to never talk about the good you do.)

Do good things because those things are good for other people. Don’t worry: the less you say, the more you will inspire others, because they’ll know you do what you do only because you care.

6. Get over yourself.

Most of the time your professional life is like a hamster wheel of resume or curriculum vitae padding: you avoid all possibility of failure while maximizing the odds of success in order to ensure your achievement graph tracks ever upward.

Inevitably, that approach starts to extend to your personal life too.

So you run… but you won’t enter a race because you don’t want to finish at the back of the pack. Or you sing… but you won’t share a mic in a friend’s band because you’re no Adele. Or you sponsor the employee softball team… but you won’t actually play because you’re not very good.

Personally and professionally you feel compelled to maintain your all-knowing, all-achieving, all conquering image.

And someday, without noticing, you’re no longer a person. You’re a resume.

Stop trying to appear perfect. Accept your faults. Make mistakes. Hang yourself out there. Try and fail.

Then be gracious when you fail.

When do, people will be inspired, because people who are willing to fail are rare–and because people who display grace and humility, especially in the face of defeat, are incredibly rare.

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4 Steps for Launching Corporate Social Responsibility at Your Business


Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a hot topic in the business world. Companies of all sizes are being encouraged (and sometimes forced) to become more responsible in their communities, reports Entrepreneur. Being a responsible “corporate citizen” includes two important components: 1) things an organization does to society and 2) things an organization does for society.

The first component of CSR requires companies to do no harm to the communities in which they operate. It’s not acceptable to pollute the environment, sell unsafe products, promote unhealthy practices, or mistreat employees. In our new world of social transparency, organizations that do harm in any way won’t survive.

While this first component of CSR is a responsibility of all organizations, the second component is an opportunity. In other words, organizations have the basic responsibility to do no harm, but they also have the opportunity to make a difference in their communities. There are huge advantages to building an organization that does much more than just make money. The entrepreneurs I’ve met across America are passionate about serving their communities and feel the benefits of doing so far outweigh the effort, time, and cost.

Having worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs who are making significant contributions to their communities, I’ve observed a simple process they follow for getting involved.

1. Clarify your values.

Your “why” or purpose for being in business is the foundation for everything you do. Having a clear purpose naturally leads to a set of related values. For example, Richard Chaves’s driving purpose is to create jobs in a city he loves. Consequently, he values projects for his company, Chaves Consulting, that lead to more jobs. He also values excellent training, ongoing education, and community building.

Based on your purpose, what are the things you and your teammates value most? Do you value education, continuous learning, innovation, exceptional service, technology development, health and wellness, teamwork, or ethics and integrity? Clarifying your values is an important first step in linking your business with your community. You want to support initiatives that are consistent with your purpose and values, while avoiding things that aren’t consistent with your purpose and values. Your community involvement should always enhance your overall company brand and reputation.

2. Assess your skills.

After clarifying your company values, the next step is to reflect on the key skills and core competencies of your organization. What are you really good at? What do you do better than other companies? What things can you contribute that other people cannot? Then, looking at this list, which ones are you the most passionate about? For example, you may be great at calculating your taxes but not very excited about this skill. On the other hand, you may be very good at and very enthusiastic about solving technical problems. The key is to list your core competencies that you’re most passionate about sharing. What are you most interested in? What kinds of activities bring you the most joy? What contributions do you want to make? After answering these questions, you’ll be ready to identify potential community projects or organizations you want to support.

3. Find potential projects.

As your business grows, many people will approach you about supporting their initiatives. It’s great if you can help them, but it’s better to select potential projects in advance based on your purpose, values, skills, and passion. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a hodgepodge of projects that aren’t directly related to your brand or community of customers. Creating a list of potential projects is easy: Do a Google search on nonprofits, charities, and social organizations in your area. Many cities also have a nonprofit association that can help identify community needs, or you can call various government agencies and ask which organizations are working on certain problems that interest you: education, human services, workforce services, or rehabilitation. To find the best matches, start with a broad list of projects before narrowing down your options.

4. Select the best matches.

Now you need to select one or more projects to support that are great matches with your overall company brand, including purpose, values, skills, and passion. I recommend you work with organizations that serve the same community you do. For example, our customers in the food business were interested in health, nutrition, and fitness. Consequently, we supported running events, fitness fairs, and athletic teams. If you’re in the food industry, you might support various hunger organizations. If you’re in construction, you might get involved in housing projects. If you’re in computer services, you might support a school computer literacy program. While serving constituencies outside your community is admirable, it doesn’t help you build a consistent brand and reputation.

In addition, you should get involved with local projects and organizations whenever possible. The more interaction you have with people in your own area, the more rewarding the service will be for you and your team. This is easy if you’re building a geographical community but harder if you’re building a niche community. However, you might support national organizations that have a main office or regional presence in your area. While it’s great to send money to causes elsewhere in the world, that doesn’t always bring you and your team together in a community effort.

Creating your community strategy

The organizations we build can play a huge role in addressing the challenges we face in our communities. While we have a responsibility to do no harm, we also have a tremendous opportunity to make a real difference. I encourage all the aspiring entrepreneurs I work with to build a social component into their business plan from day one. At first, the contribution may be time, skills, and expertise. Later on, it may include financial resources as well. Using business models to address community concerns provides great solutions to our challenges as well as tremendous benefits to our businesses. The questions below will help you create a sound and well-planned strategy for making a difference in your community:

1. What is your purpose and the brand you’re trying to build in your community?

2. Based on your purpose, what values are most important to you, your team members, and your organization?

3. What are five to 10 key skills and core competencies that you, your team, and your organization have to offer?

4. From the list of skills above, which ones are you and your team most passionate about sharing with your community?

5. What are some potential nonprofits, charities, social organi­zations, or government organizations in your community that may benefit from your company’s involvement?

6. Select several organizations from your list that you’re most interested in supporting. Why is each a great match with your overall company brand?

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3 Essential Skills All Women Entrepreneurs Must Have


For many women, starting a new business can be a daunting task that does not always work out as planned. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, one-third of new businesses fail within the first two years and 50% fail during the first five years. Taking time to learn a few essential skills can increase your chances of success and help prevent common mistakes, reports Forbes.

Preparing for the journey ahead can be both exciting and overwhelming, particularly if you’re a first-time entrepreneur, but the rewards can be well worth the effort. Here are three essential skills you need to learn before starting your new venture:

Goal Setting

Most entrepreneurs fail at setting goals even though goal setting is one of the most important skills necessary for business success. One of the most challenging aspects of running a business is learning to stay motivated and committed to your goal. Having a clear, achievable, and realistic goal will give you a long-term focus and enable you to keep moving in the right direction. An example of an unclear goal is “I want to increase sales revenue.” A more clear, realistic goal would be “I want to increase sales revenue by 25% within six months.” Without a goal, there is nothing to strive for or no real sense of purpose.

Not only should you set goals for your business, you should also map out a plan for how you will achieve each goal and set deadlines. Goals should be in writing and tracked over time to ensure you are reaching your targets. Spend time visualizing a long-term goal for your business, and find an image or symbolic item that reminds you of where you want to be. Your goals should set the tone for your business and help guide you toward reaching your stated objectives. Setting goals can also help keep employees engaged and motivated, and drive performance within your organization.

Time Management

Time management is a concept many entrepreneurs struggle with. This is especially true for women trying to maintain work-life balance. Developing your time management skills will help to maximize productivity and increase the effectiveness of your work. Good time management skills are essential, particularly in the early stages of a new business, so it is imperative that you make the most of your time.

Keeping an activity log of appointments, meetings, tasks, telephone calls, and other important events will enable you to analyze your current working style and plan improvement strategies. Learn to prioritize tasks by level of importance and urgency, for example low, medium, and high. Avoid wasting time on unimportant tasks such as unsolicited phone calls and checking email. Less important tasks can be delegated so that you can focus on the more important ones. Also try to manage distractions, especially if you run a home-based business. Here’s how one female entrepreneur says she deals with time management:

“You have to discover and develop what’s most comfortable for you and make it a priority. I have a set agenda for the day and make the best attempt to accomplish all goals by the end of the day. Having a schedule or agenda is key. If I neglect to organize my day at least the night before, I’m fumbling knowing there is plenty to do but not exactly sure what to tackle first.” – Tina Swain, Founder & Director, Swain Therapy & Counseling, LLC

Learning to use your time more effectively can help reduce stress, increase efficiency, and improve quality of life.

Negotiation

Research shows that women are less likely to negotiate than men, and men initiate negotiations about four times as often as women (Women at Work). To be successful in business, women must learn how to deal like the so called “big boys.” Negotiation skills are extremely important and can be useful when negotiating with vendors and customers or negotiating business contracts and securing investment capital.

First, it’s important to develop a certain comfort level when it comes to negotiating so choose a negotiation style that makes you feel comfortable. For example, are you more comfortable being the aggressor, or being submissive? Or, are you comfortable being more cooperative and wanting to reach a win-win solution or assertive in sticking to your bottom line?

It’s also important to set your expectations prior to the negotiation phase and don’t be reluctant to ask for what you want. Most importantly be willing to say “No” and don’t be afraid to walk away. According to an article written by Charles B. Craver entitled “The Impact of Gender on Bargaining Interactions,” men are believed to be rational and logical while women are thought to be emotional and intuitive. So when going into negotiations remember to leave your emotions at the door. Don’t take it personally. And finally, practice, practice, practice! Learning solid negotiation skills can mean the difference between success and failure.

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Five Ways To Win At Sales Even In The Worst Conditions


While we’re starting to forget the economic recession of 2008, those dark days left a lasting impression on how successful salespeople deal with a downturn, reports Forbes.

At the time, I was at CareerBuilder, heading the Pacific Northwest territory for the mid-markets division. I can clearly remember the uphill battle our team faced while calling customers and prospects to renew job postings. In order to succeed, we started learning about where our customers were failing and what they were still spending money on. We stopped having the same old sales conversations.

It turns out we had been focusing on the wrong competition all along. They still needed to hire talent, but the top or niche candidates they wanted couldn’t be found on traditional job sites. To remedy this, we pitched ourselves and our sites for the next two years on selling against recruiters instead of simply being a job site. We focused on hard-to-fill and executive openings and found customers willing to spend big budgets to solve key needs in their business.

Even with an economic downturn, we didn’t blame something that wasn’t under our control. Instead, we took a hard look at our sales strategies and found areas that would allow us to prosper even in grim situations. Here are some top tips to maintain peak performance in a downturn:

  1. Use technology and data to make yourself as efficient as possible. On average, sales representatives are only spending one-third of their time selling. They spend the other two-thirds on research, follow-up, and administrative tasks. With the current sales tech environment, this should no longer be the case. There has never been a more exciting time to be in sales, given the amount of sales and marketing technology at our disposal. It seems like every week there’s another tool that can help to automate segments of the sales process that are normally manual and cumbersome. Whether it’s automating follow-ups using Rebump or logging all sales activity in Gmail with Streak, there’s a tech tool out there that can help you be much more efficient in your day-to-day.
  2. Think and act positively. People can sense desperation through your communication and that desperation leads to a lack of credibility amongst your customers. Remaining honest yet confident under tough circumstances is key to continued sales wins. To remain confident and optimistic, remember the high of closing deal after deal and the way you felt and acted on those days. Attitudes, both good and bad, rub off on the people you’re speaking with, so always make sure you remain positive.
  3. Focus on out-of-the-box business challenges. Like the CareerBuilder example above, it’s important to think about different ways to position your product so that its use cases are positioned to solve new or bigger challenges. When the current positioning isn’t working, it’s time to change the conversation. Strive to use the “Challenger Approach” sales style, which more than 50 percent of all high-performing sales representatives rely on. Ask questions, push your customers to areas they might be familiar with but don’t label as important, and find solutions to problems they didn’t know existed. Don’t be locked into a course of action that is failing and be always be willing to adapt and find new ways to position yourself when conditions aren’t in your favor.
  4. Block out the noise from your negative peers. Most people want to be good. But being great is a burden very few take on because they aren’t willing to put in the extra work necessary to get there. There are specific traits that separate great salespeople from the good, but the biggest difference is that they look at a downturn or a rejection as a challenge that they have to overcome. Negative peers will look to a downturn as an excuse for poor performance, or worse, no performance. Block out the noise and focus on getting better and improving yourself.
  5. Learn hard, work smart. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, he frequently mentions the 10,000-hour rule: it takes around that amount of time to achieve excellence and mastery in a field. It’s not rare to find people who put in long hours and grind it out to achieve sales excellence every month. They either get the job done or come pretty close consistently. But as the psychologist behind the rule, Anders Ericsson, says: “You don’t get benefits from mechanical repetition, but by adjusting your execution over and over to get closer to your goal.”
  6. The key to above-average sales performance is to do both. Work the hours needed but continuously improve your sales execution by always learning. If you put in more hours than anyone, focus on improving every day, and constantly be looking to learn, you will see the results pay off.

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6 Hidden Features on LinkedIn You Should Take Advantage Of


LinkedIn is an everyday go-to tool for most people in business, reports Inc. Ironically, even though we use it so often and have for years, most of us usually stick to the same patterns of searching for contacts, relying on the same profile picture we’ve used for years, and waiting to get messages from other people. To get more out of the social network, here are a few power user tips to create some new momentum.

1. Sign up for the ProFinder

Ed Brancheau, an SEO Expert at Goozleology, says an easy way for freelancers and consultants to find gigs is to offer services through the new LinkedIn Pro Finder tool. It’s a quick way to pitch services to new clients.

2. Use the correct image size for sponsored content

Zaki Usman, the CEO at InterQ, told me about a useful tip for sponsored content. When you format this content, you have to insert an image. LinkedIn recommends an image size of 1200 x 627 with an aspect ratio of 1.91:1. If you don’t follow this guideline, Usman says the content won’t look right on a mobile device and people will ignore it.

3. Trigger automated posts from your blog

Paul Dzielinski, the Senior Vice President at Beach Re, told me about a trick he uses with LinkedIn. If you use the site If This, Then That, you can trigger an automated post on LinkedIn whenever you post a new blog entry. He says this has led to people finding his content and also asking for a connection. Just look for the recipe that generates a LinkedIn post automatically.

4. Use Canva to create a professional background

Most social media experts stress the importance of visuals because of how they draw attention to your profile. Josh Rosenzweig, the Founder and CEO at WibniLabs, says he uses Canva to create these images because you can purchase a professional image for only $1, format it according to the 1400 x 425 size requirements, and save it.

5. Search for second connections

LinkedIn has a powerful search box, but some users forget about some of the advanced functions. Brandon Howard from All My Web Needs says you can search only for people who has a second connection to your current contacts, then add keywords like “marketing” to limit the results. He says, once you find good leads through the second connection, you can explain how you know the first connection.

6. Include contact info in your background

Brancheau from Goozleology says one power user tip is to create a custom background for LinkedIn that has your contact information. Even with a free account, you can catch people with a visual reminder on how to contact you. Just make sure the image is 1400 x 425 pixels. Otherwise, people won’t see the text.

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Burning The Boats: How We Found Success By Getting Rid Of Our Safety Net


In 1519, eleven ships carrying 600 Spaniards landed on an inland plateau that would one day be known as Mexico. Their goal was to conquer an empire that had amassed a massive fortune of gold, silver, and precious gems, reports Forbes. However, with just 600 men, most of whom were vastly under supplied, the prospect of conquering the vast Aztec empire seemed like an impossible task.

However, Cortes was undeterred. Rather than charge forward upon landing in Mexico, Cortes gathered his men on the beach and promptly gave the order to burn the ships they just arrived on, effectively destroying their only escape route. The only choice left was to push forward and succeed.

Taking the underlying morality of Cortes’ actions out of the equation for a moment, it’s easy to see how many entrepreneurs often find themselves in similar circumstances. To be a startup is to contend with a constant sense of being outmanned, outgunned, and out planned. On the surface, the idea of a small, often poorly supplied team making waves in the world may seem just as ludicrous as trying to conquer an empire with only 600 men, but they’re really not that different.

Sometimes, burning your ships and eliminating your safety net is the only way to inspire team members to push forward in the face of daunting odds. My team and I did it at BodeTree, and it was the best decision we ever made.

When we first launched BodeTree, our plan was to sell our products directly to small business owners, helping them to cut out the proverbial middleman when it came to managing their finances. We charged down this path for several years and achieved moderate success. However, we knew that in order to gain the scale we were looking for, we would have to explore other options.

We ultimately chose to shift our focus away from direct to consumer sales and towards working with large institutional partners. This move enabled us to gain scale rapidly and grow the business into what it is today. The shift was not going to be an easy one, and we knew that the sales cycle for selling to institutions can be long and painful.

At first, we merely dipped our toe into the market. Our institutional sales channel was, to be frank, an afterthought at first. We continued to support and market our direct presence and thought that we could serve two masters. For us, the direct channel was a safety net. If selling to institutional partners proved to be too difficult or time consuming, we could always fall back on what we had built. We had our ships anchored in the bay, providing an escape route if the going got tough. As a result, we failed to fully commit to our new channel.

Once I realized this, I knew what had to be done. We had to burn our ships if we were to have any chance of succeeding. It was a terrifying decision to make, because we had invested so much into that effort. All of our marketing materials, brand presence, and technical features were designed around the idea of selling directly to the small business owner. To back away from this decision meant reworking our entire approach and making changes to the team we had assembled.

The decision was made in early 2014, and proved to be just as difficult as we feared. We had to replace team members and refocus the entire organization. We continued to allow direct sign ups and to support our existing customers, but we effectively have shut down all of our marketing efforts centered around that channel.

Our mantra became “all institutions, all the time.” To make matters worse, sales did not start rolling in. In fact, they stalled for months on end. The team grew nervous, and investors questioned the all-in approach we were taking. In spite of this, we maintained our course and never looked back. Over time, things started to turn around. Then, they started to accelerate faster than any of us could have expected.

It was our decision to “burn our ships” and commit fully to our institutional strategy that enabled us to persevere and eventually thrive. Had we had the safety net of our direct efforts waiting in the wings, we never would have been able to succeed. I think that there is some primal response that only surfaces when faced with a life-or-death situation. Too often, we limit ourselves by holding on to our escape routes and safety nets. Sometimes, you just have to burn the ships in order to move forward.

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