Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Our Top 5 Posts of the Year

With all due respect to January 1st and Times Square, now is the time of year that many of us start thinking about new beginnings, fresh starts, resolutions and goals that did or didn’t get achieved in the previous 12 months. Autumn officially started this week. The weather’s getting cooler and leaves are changing colors in many parts of the country. Kids are back to school. Offices are humming with full staffs for the first time in months, and tonight marks the start of Rosh Hashanah, the official kickoff to the Jewish high holidays.

Even if you’re not Jewish, you probably know that Rosh Hashanah (aka “Rush-a-Homa”) is a generally festive holiday for those of the Hebrasion Persuasion albeit more solemn than American New Year. Like the American New Year, Rosh Hashanah is a time to look back at the past year and make resolutions for the following year. It’s also when the Torah, (Hebrew Bible) resets to chapter 1, part 1. Regardless of your faith, why not take advantage of this short pause in the hectic work week and see if your work/life balance is really in balance and if you’re getting closer (or further away) from the reasons you started your own firm or practice.


Our 5 most popular posts of the year

1.
Can Your Staff Really Work Effectively from Home?
3. Do You Know Why Your Marketing’s Working (or Not)?

4.
Were You Laboring on Labor Day?

5.
The Best (and Worst) Times to do Things at Work

Based on our web stats over the past nine months, it’s clear that time management and work/life balance are top of mind for our readers. You’re also concerned about professional networking, face to face interaction in this digital age and finding the right metrics to gauge your marketing efforts. Management guru,
Peter Drucker, famously said, “Business has only two functions--marketing and innovation. All the rest are costs." To that we’d like to add a third function—time management, as in finding the time to do marketing and innovation well.

Too busy sawing to sharpen the saw


In one way or another, most of you have told us you’re well on your way to living the true American dream. You your own boss and making a very comfortable living doing work that you find challenging and fulfilling. You’re spending most of the day with intelligent clients and co-workers that you like and respect. You’re making a difference in their lives.  But how many of you are really spending enough quality time with family, friends and community organizations—and pursuing your favorite avocations such as tennis, golf, fly fishing, chess, auto racing and triathlons? C’mon be honest.

Conclusion


Drucker also said, “follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”  However you do it, take a little time this week for some quality introspection. Make sure the important people in your life (and your health) do not fall by the wayside as you take your business to the next level of success. You may not have another time to catch your breath until the next set of Holidays in December.

Have a Happy New Year (L’Shna Tova).

PS: Click here if you’ve always been mystified by the Jewish Holidays, and you’ll find answers to many of the questions you’d like to ask, but weren’t sure if they were politically correct. For instance, why don’t the Jewish Holidays fall at the same time every year?

Our
blog has more, as does the FREE Resources page of our website.

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TAGS: Peter Drucker, Rosh Hashanah, time management, work life balance, self reflection

Monday, September 15, 2014

Research Shows Passion and Legacy Goals Drive Business Success

According to Infusionsoft’s recent Small Business Market Survey, there are four distinct types of business owners—Freedom Seekers, Passionate Creators, Struggling Survivors and Legacy Builders.

Most of your business owner clients fall into one of these four areas and chances are so do you. As you help clients build out their retirement, wealth preservation and charitable giving plans, it’s important to understand how they like to be marketed to. While the researchers didn’t go into as much detail as we would have liked, our experience is that successful business owners tend to be most receptive to the marketing techniques that they themselves use.


Let’s take a closer look at the four business owner profiles and see if any remind you of yourself:
1. Freedom Seekers
These small business owners started their businesses because they wanted the ability to control their fate, decisions, work environment, schedule and revenue. They are more likely than the other segments to place high  importance on “living the life I want”, “being in control”, “reducing the amount of hours I have to work” and “having flexibility in my schedule.”

With time management being their biggest challenge, Freedom Seekers are more likely than other groups to use email marketing automation, bookkeeping software, ecommerce, project management and CRM systems.

Infusionsoft’s Lindsay Bayuk said Freedom seekers want the autonomy that comes with being their own boss and that money isn't the only measure of success for this group.

2. Passionate Creators
This group loves what they do. Running their business or firm gives them a sense of accomplishment and pride. They value the impact they are able to make for their customers and the world at large. Passionate Creators are the most likely of the four profiles to mentor other entrepreneurs and to speak to audiences about small business.
  • Nearly half (48%) said they always knew they would run their own business.
  • They believe passion is one of the most important qualities for business success and are motivated to serve a target customer well.
  • They showed the most longevity and success, ranking as the most likely to have been in business more than 10 years and to report revenue of over $1 million last year.
  • Passionate Creators are most optimistic than other types of business owners—71 percent expect their revenue to be ‘somewhat’ or ‘much’ higher than last year.
  • They demonstrated the most marketing sophistication, with the highest rates of marketing spending and involvement in digital marketing, social media, email lists and content marketing
  • They are the most likely to track financial performance vs. budget, and 70 percent use analytics to support decision-making, the highest level of any segment
3. Struggling Survivors
This group is motivated by fear that’s rooted in the very real challenge of running a business.
·         Many believe that traditional jobs are more secure, and feel that corporate careers garner more respect than small business ownership
·         51% are “solopreneurs,” the highest of any category
  • They are least likely to report achieving many of the benefits associated with owning your own business, from financial security to time with family and friends.
  • They are the most likely to have considered closing their business (53%), and the most pessimistic about their five-year outlook.
According to the study, half of Struggling Survivors (51%) are the sole employee at their company. This solitary management leaves little time to implement a sound marketing strategy.

4. Legacy Builders
Business owners who fall into this profile see small business ownership as a practical economic choice. They believe that small businesses are more ethical than larger corporations, and believe most people would start their own business if they could. They started their business to bring something new to the marketplace that no one else offers. They take tremendous pride in the business they’ve created and plan to run it for the long haul.
  • They are the least likely of the four profiles to have a website, and even those that do have a site are least likely to use email, content marketing, SEO or marketing automation to generate leads
Researchers said “Legacy Builders are pragmatic. For them, marketing tech may be fairly new and may not be the most practical investment of time and resources.”

This group is the least likely of the four to have a website (45%). Many legacy businesses are driven through word of mouth. 


Conclusion
Fortunately, most of you are Passionate Creators and Legacy Builders. Successful people tend to surround themselves with successful people. Chances are your clients are, too.

Our blog has more, as does the FREE Resources page of our website.

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TAGS: Infusionsoft, Passionate Creators, Legacy Builders, Freedom Seekers, Struggling Survivors

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Were You Laboring on Labor Day?

We hope your re-entry into the real world hasn’t been too painful today. Tuesdays that feel like Mondays are always a bitch. Not to mention all the recurring tasks, reports and housekeeping chores that rain down on you whenever the calendar page flips over to a new month. Not fun.

Admit it. Many of you snuck in some work over the long weekend to get caught up or to preempt a crisis from hitting this coming week. Not surprising.

Most of you have been around the block a few times. You know you can’t just saunter into the office tanned and relaxed and expect everything to go smoothly after a long weekend away from phones, emails and your desk. It doesn’t matter how great your team is or how “self-managed” you think your firm is.
That’s the joy (and stress) of being an entrepreneur and/or being in a leadership position. You may be out of your “place of work,” but work-related issues (problems and opportunities) are always lingering in your subconscious while friends, family and neighbors are having a carefree time at the pool, beach, lake or barbecue.

How the other 90 percent get by

I bring this up because I finally got around to reading Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich’s gripping account of what it’s like to be among America’s working poor—a group of workers that’s unfortunately growing by leaps and bounds. Without pity or hyperbole, Ehrenreich brings you inside the life of a waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, nursing home aid and Wal-Mart associate. She didn’t just write about those jobs while working undercover and then go home to a plush home or condo. She lived the life 24/7 trying to eat and pay rent on her low-wage income. Her health, not just her psyche, took some hits for this book.

We know many of you have risen from modest upbringings to achieve great academic and career success. But, if you haven’t lived the low wage life since high school or college, give Nickel and Dimed a skim.

Here’s what got to me. It wasn’t the lousy work conditions as much as the LACK OF AUTONOMY. You’re told when you work and when you don’t. You’re told when you take your meal and bathroom breaks, what to wear and when you’re permitted to talk with colleagues (almost never). If you’re lucky enough to be hired, you’re also presumed to be a criminal or drug addict until you’ve proven yourself trustworthy. Then there’s the issue of “time theft” in which the overtime hours you didn’t want to work in the first place mysteriously disappear from your paycheck.


We may have demanding clients, employees and vendors who drive us crazy. But most of us know the times of day and days of the week in which we do our best work. We can schedule our hours within reason to work when we’re most efficient. We can schedule or vacations (or mental health breaks) when it’s most convenient for us and our families—not when “the man” says we can go. Sure relationships with spouses, family, friends and communities can suffer when we’re under deadline or traveling a lot. But at least we’re not a slave to a disgruntled supervisor or an outdated HR policy.
Can you say PTO day!

Conclusion

Five years into the economic recovery, the stock market and corporate profits are at record highs. But the number and quality of jobs are still lagging for most Americans. As a New York Times editorial noted yesterday, “Wage growth has not kept pace with productivity growth, resulting in falling or flat wages for most workers and big gains for corporate coffers, shareholders, executives and others at the top of the income ladder.”

We’re lucky enough to make our living, directly or indirectly, from the top of ladder. Respect your perch. HB

Our blog has more, as does the FREE Resources page of our website.

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TAGS: Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed, time theft, post Labor Day blues

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Face to Face Networking and Why You Need to Take the Shuttle Bus



Like many of you, I’ve been attending conferences, seminars, symposiums and other live events this summer to keep my skills sharp, to network with peers and to get the old (mental) battery recharged. Three big takeaways have jumped out at me:

1.      Even in this 24/7 digital age, humans of all ages still need to connect face to face.


2.      Some of your best networking will take place in the least likely of places.

3.      The air conditioning is always on too strong, whether you’re in South Florida or Winnipeg (but only one gender will voice their discomfort).
Last week’s post “Notice What You Notice” was all about paying closer attention to your surroundings and how you take in information and learn from it. The same goes for professional networking, whether it’s making new contacts, landing new clients or setting the stage for a strategic alliance. In a semi-snarky piece I wrote last week for Association Adviser, a leading publication for trade association execs, I explained why I always take the shuttle bus at large conventions or conferences. That’s where I’ve made some of my best and most meaningful contacts over the years. The shuttle ride is long enough to have a meaningful conversation with your name-badged seatmate—i.e. it’s better than  a superficial “elevator pitch,” but it’s not as risky as striking up a conversation with your seatmate on a cross-country flight. Key Takeaways
Here are some other takeaways that I’ve gleaned from recent events I’ve attended. Let me know if you agree:
·         Well-run live events are still one of the most powerful ways that association professionals can network, learn and share ideas.  
·         Show organizers are realizing how much time and dollar pressure their attendees are under.
·         Attendees come better organized and more focused than ever before and expect you to do the same.
Conclusion
No matter how busy you are, find a way to get yourself out of the office and show up for the “must-attend” events in your industry. You just can't find a replacement for eye contact, body language and serendipitous encounters. And, no matter how long the line is, always take the shuttle bus if it’s offered.
Our blog has more, as does the FREE Resources page of our website.
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TAGS: Association Adviser, shuttle busses, networking, power of face to face


 

Friday, August 08, 2014

Notice What You Notice


As the calendar page flips over to August, many of you may be on vacation or stuck in a long airport delay. The kids or grandkids are out of school, and half the people you need to reach at work are either out of the office—or have one foot out the door. Either way, everyone’s out of their normal routine a little and things just aren’t running as smoothly as you’d prefer.

Like it or not, you’re mind’s going to drift and the temptation is to focus on what’s wrong with your practice, business, family, golf swing, tennis stroke or relationships. It’s good to address those issues head on, but better yet, focus on the good things you can make better, not the bad things that are dragging you down.

In a surprisingly pithy op-ed piece today, Times columnist David Brooks suggested that there are two types of people: those who keep a journal (mental or actual) and those who don’t. “People who keep a journal often see it as part of the process of self-understanding and personal growth. They don’t want insights and events to slip through their minds. They think with their fingers and have to write to process experiences and become aware of their feelings. People who oppose journal-keeping fear it contributes to self-absorption and narcissism.

Maybe Brooks is on vacation this week, but we think the point he’s trying to make is that the more your can distance yourself form your own “intimacy with yourself” the more reliable your self-awareness is likely to be.”

You may have to take an exotic trip or put yourself in some kind of social situation that’s way outside your comfort zone. Maybe it’s joining a new networking group or civic organization, taking up a new sport (in which you’re sure to look foolish at first) and striking up a conversation with someone in your building elevator or commuter train that you keep interacting with but never engage. Pay attention to your body language and voice inflection in those situations. Are you listening more or talking more?

Notice what you notice

Back in my triathlon days, I had a great swim coach, the late Doug Stern. Doug had an amazing ability to remember every single person’s name in his aquatics class—even with five or six dozen people in identical swim caps thrashing about him—and he mentioned everyone by name several times during each workout. Don’t think that matters!

But, it wasn’t Doug’s charisma that made him so great, it was how he got you attuned to your body in the water. “Notice what you notice,” he always told us when trying to help us master a new stroke technique.

Conclusion

Sharon Sloane, CEO of the training video company Will Interactive, told NYT interviewer Adam Bryant that she finishes every day with some “chair time.” That’s when she just sits quietly by herself at the end of the day, turns off her devices, and just lets the day “wash over” her. What really happened? What did she not pick up on in a meeting? Which dots didn’t get connected at the time?

Whether you’re in the water, on land, or in the air this month, take time out from the grind and notice what you notice. You’ll be glad you did.
Best, HB

Our blog has more, as does the FREE Resources page of our website.

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TAGS: Doug Stern, notice what you notice, Sharon Sloane, chair time, David Brooks, Adam Bryan, keeping a journal

Sunday, July 27, 2014

No Time to Think?

Get off the grid and don’t be afraid of your own thoughts

Many of you are familiar with Stephen Covey’s famous observation that we’re “so busy sawing we don’t have time to sharpen the saw.” We’ve all been there. Done that. We know it’s not a good way to be. But many of you have told us lately that you feel you’re spending way too much time at the saw mill lately. Guess the Dog Days of Summer got cancelled this year.


What to do? If you’re expecting us to recommend deep breathing, long walks on the beach and some yoga or meditation, you’ve come to the wrong place. Most of you are Type A, if not Type A-plus! You need something more concrete, more tactical!
That said, we’re not knocking deep breathing, long walks, yoga and meditation. All can be helpful. But what most of you need is tough self-love, not navel gazing. You need to unplug from the grid and carve out some time to think. Really think without distractions. Bring a pencil and a yellow legal pad if you like, but nothing more high tech than that.

Personally, I take a 24-hour break from all technology every weekend. Usually from mid-day Saturday to mid-day Sunday. Unless it’s a life threatening text or cell phone call, I’m just not going to address it during my 24-hour “quiet period.” Try it for yourself some weekend. The world won’t come to an end and see if you don’t come back Sunday evening a little more energized than you normally are.
Kate Murphy had a great piece in today’s New York Times that talked about why people who complain about being “super busy,” “crazy busy” or “insanely busy” never take advantage of a rare moment for “reflective thought” when they get it. Stuck in traffic or a long grocery line? What do we do? Out comes the mobile device. Sound familiar? As Murphy observed, the journal Science published a study that showed how far people will go to avoid introspection.

Turns out many of us don’t like introspection. Or we’re afraid of our own thoughts. Or we’re afraid that we’ll just dwell on what’s wrong in our lives. But, according to Silicon Valley psychologist, Stephanie Brown, “suppressing negative feelings just gives them more power.” And you can’t solve or let go of problems if you don’t allow yourself time to let go of them. Brown is the author of “Speed: Facing Our Addiction to Fast and Faster.

Conclusion

While we agree with the experts about the importance of self-reflection, it doesn’t mean you have to focus exclusively on fixing what’s wrong. You can also focus on potential good things. Try this: Substitute the words “opportunity” or “innovation” for the word “problem” during your next self-reflective time. See what happens. Just as many people are afraid to face their fears head on, you’d be surprised how many people are afraid to bring their BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) to light. Don’t be afraid to see how good you and your team can be.


Stay focused this week, even if many around you seem like they’ve checked out for the summer. Doing so will pay big dividends come September.

Best, HB


Our blog has more, as does the FREE Resources page of our website.

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TAGS: No time to think, time management, adrenal burnout, stress, Science journal, Stephanie Brown

Monday, July 14, 2014

You’re Never as Good as You Think You Are

Go for BHAGs, but don’t forget basic blocking and tackling

My dad had a great saying whenever he used to drive me home from a game or a meet growing up: “You’re never as good as you think you are, but you’re not as bad as you think, either.”

If Dad sensed I was getting overconfident, he’d remind that me that there’s always someone better around the corner, and that the competition would only get tougher with each new level I ascended. But, if I was down in the dumps after a tough loss, he’d focus on one or two things I did well and remind me how much better I’d gotten since the year before.

That was helpful in college and the early years of my career. I was captain of my high school track and cross-country team and got named to many All-area honors team. I thought I was pretty talented until I got to college. Guess what? The other 30 guys were also captains of their high school teams, and I quickly went from leading the pack to barely keeping up with the back of the pack. Mind you. I was running faster than I ever dreamed possible, but your perspective changes when you’re getting lapped instead of standing on the winner’s podium.

I later learned my Dad was a city champion swimmer in high school, but lasted only one season at an elite college program when he found out how "real swimmers" trained.

BHAGs and basics

I bring this up because now is the time of year that many of you are holding, or planning to hold, your offsite retreats. You’ll spend a few days away from the daily grind to clear the air, review your strategy and make BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) for the next fiscal year.

Just don’t pull a Brazil.

Even if you’re No.1 or close to No.1 in your niche, don’t think you “own” that niche or are entitled to the top spot based on past performance. You’ve got to stay hungry and earn the business every day. The minute you let your guard down and forget how to fight for new clients (and retain existing clients) is the minute you get blindsided by a savvy upstart or a new wrinkle from a longstanding rival. 

BHAGs are great motivators. Just don’t forget the basic blocking and tackling that go your firm to where you are today. Also, don’t throw in the towel if you’ve recently lost a big client or key employee. No great team or company revolves around just one player.  Empower everyone else to step it up a notch.

Lessons learned from the World Cup

In case you missed the end of the FIFA World Cup of soccer this weekend, host nation Brazil, the country with the most World Cup championships in history--the country that invented the term jogo bonito (Portuguese, for “beautiful game” and internationally popularized by Nike commercials) thought it was their divine right to win the World Cup on their home soil this summer. No Way Jose. Or as the Brazilians would say, “imagina na copa” when things go horribly wrong.

Brazil showed up, but they didn’t show up to play. Big difference.

In the semi-finals against eventual champion Germany, Brazil was missing two key players (one for injury and one for poor sportsmanship) and basically threw in the towel before the game started. A brief defensive lapse let in a sloppy goal in the 11th minute of the game. But, instead of regrouping against the disciplined and well-coached Germans, Brazil conceded four more goals in the next 20 minutes of the game and had one of the most infamous meltdowns in global soccer history. As my former colleague Ron Rudolph posted the other day: “Brazil Is Getting Waxed

It will take years for much of the Brazilian population to get over their 7-1 humiliation to the Germans. But, they had a chance for redemption just a few days later in the 3rd place “consolation” game against highly regarded Netherlands. Again, this game was for bragging rights to be the third best team in the world at the planet’s most popular sport. The Dutch relished the opportunity. The Brazilians turned down their noses at it. Apparently the third place game was beneath Brazil’s dignity and they left the tournament with their tail between their legs, 0-3 losers again.

*** We also recommend David Brook’s recent op-ed piece
Baseball or Soccer. Sometimes the non-sports writers give you the best take on the big game.

Conclusion

Brazilian soccer will eventually return to the top echelon of the world stage. But it will take a rebuilding effort like Germany’s that was 12 years in the making.

Key Takeaway: Show up every day ready to play. You never know who or what you’re up against. Always look through the front windshield, not the rearview mirror, and great opportunities will find you like open space on the soccer pitch.
Best, HB


Our
blog has more, as does the FREE Resources page of our website.

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TAGS: Brazil soccer meltdown, Brazil getting waxed, Ron Rudolph, BHAGs, You’re never as good as you think, David Brooks Baseball or Soccer