Character in Hard Times

17 May

Talents are best nurtured in solitude.

Character is best formed in the stormy billows of the world.

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

It is no secret that the economy has been suffering for several years now.  As this lag continues I have noticed more and more people desperate for success, or the appearance thereof, check their character at the door to the office.  Whether trying to get ahead or make ends meet they make pro misses they do not intend to fulfill, present themselves as what they are not, and can be deceptive in order to get a contract or make a deal.  In my personal experience it has gotten so bad that when meeting new service providers I often ask myself “Are they another scammer or is what they say truthful?”  Am I being cynical?  Perhaps but I have spoken with many business owners that feel the same way.

What I would like to point out is that as the quote mentions above, storms are an opportunity to build character not eliminate it.  It is when times are tough that we learn what we are made of.  We are forced to be more creative, to use our skills in new ways, to grow as individuals and learn new ways of doing things.  These are valuable lessons that will benefit professionals and business owners when the economy does improve.  How people behave now will influence their reputation going forward so unless you are planning on retiring in the next year keep your character.  It is not worth the loss!

For cynics like me… I am apt to believe the best and look forward to the day where the negative experiences of today are but a memory rather than an ongoing occurrence.

It’s All About Attitude

2 May

I just read an article on Success Magazine about Suze Orman.  It was a funny title and caught my eye… something about dressing for success, a topic I dont normally read about.  Something in the article was interesting and encouraging to me.  I never realized that as a waitress she was given investment funds by regular customers and lost all of it.  As a woman that is known as a financial guru that was not a part of her story I expected.

The lesson here is simple and profound all at the same time.  Everyone makes mistakes along the way but it is your attitude that determines your future. She was a waitress at the time and easily could have given up, determined that is all she was meant to be.  Instead she used that experience to enhance her future, deciding that she could and would do better.  Attitude is the difference between the two paths and final outcomes.  Attitude determines whether or not you are a failure or a success.  Attitude determines how far you will go in life because the only limits we have are the ones we set for ourselves.

Suze Orman: How Not to Dress for Success | 2012-04-10 | SUCCESS Magazine | Your Personal Development Resource http://www.success.com/articles/1774-suze-orman–how-not-to-dress-for-success

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Have Fun!

27 Apr

Yes that is a tip!  We forget to stop and enjoy ourselves way too easily.  I am an entrepreneur and the reason why is because I love it.  I thoroughly enjoy creating things.  I could spend hours at a white board with a pen, beer and good music while brainstorming ideas with my partner.  Many of my friends think that is crazy but I genuinely enjoy it.  Business is my hobby.  I have the most fun during the creative process.  I do not stop to analyze the market or create a logistics plan.  I simply let the ideas and thoughts flow freely, enjoying every minute of it.  As business owners it is so easy to get caught up in the daily activities of running an organization without stopping to do what we enjoy the most. Taking that time is so vital to us personally and to the success of our organization.  When we feel alive and excited we infuse that energy into those around us.  When we aren’t having fun and start dragging we drag others down.  While counterintuitive to a driver, get it done mentality we must remember that if productivity and results are our aim having fun should be incorporated into our business on a regular basis.  This is a reminder to me and you to stop, relax, smile and take the time to enjoy yourself.

The Enticing “New Idea”

3 Apr

Someone recently described me as enthusiastic.  It’s true -I am.  I approach everything with gusto and determination.  As a visionary I constantly have new ideas and cannot help but consider how to do things better.  For example when going through a local coffee drive through I ordered my standard latte, they got my order wrong – three times, and were completely flustered.  After several experiences like this I determined that this major corporation had clearly lost site of its hiring and training objectives and its employees were no longer embracing the company vision, if they even understood it.  I, of course, could solve that problem by combining top HR and management consultants to overhaul their hiring practices, retool their training curriculum and teach management how to engage their employees.  I could and I would because I, yes I, am Superwoman!

The problem is could and should are not the same thing.  While three bad latte experiences put my mind into overdrive, creating business plans and ideas, the reality is my current companies needed 100% of my attention and redirecting my focus, all or in part, simply was not smart so the coffee situation will for now remain unchanged unless another superhero decides to save the day.

While enthusiasm is key for an entrepreneur it is also key to learn when to say yes to new opportunities, when our plate is empty enough to successfully take on new challenges, and when to wait.  Timing is important and to know when to leap we must first analyze our current situation and commitments.

Ask yourself:

1) If I scaled back in my current business is there someone in the organization that can step into my place?

If the answer is no you need to wait.  Identify what tasks you are currently doing that can be taught to someone else.  Focus on training people within your organization to do some of the more basic tasks.  As they become proficient in these things your time should begin to free up slightly.  If you stepping away in part is not possible you may need to look for an entire replacement.  If that person is not found within your organization speak with the rest of your leadership team and consider hiring an recruiter to assist.

2) Is this a project that I would tackle on my own or do I need a team?

If you need to build a team consider your immediate circle.  Do you already have the talent around you to move forward?  If not take the time to make those connections before getting started.  Business acquaintances are good at making introductions as our social sites like Linkedin.

3) Is this a viable project?

To find that out you will need to take the time to create a business plan and outline the financials.  If you dont have the time to do this put on the brakes immediately.  Starting and running a business takes a lot more time that completing a detailed business plan, budgeting and determining the financial viability.  Not having or taking the time for this crucial step means this is simply not the right time to take on this project.

4) Do I need this project/ business to pay me?

If the answer is yes then your financial obligations, personally or professionally, need to be accounted for first.  Starting a business takes time, energy and money.  If you are looking for the business to pay you a salary right away then you need to secure the finances, via loan or investment, prior to proceeding.  Even the best ideas take time to mature and 30 days quickly turn into 90 so be prepared.

5) Does the market support my new idea?

Analyze the competition and business climate to determine if your idea will be well recieved.

Entrepreneurs, such as myself, thrive on new ideas and creating things.  This drive is crucial to success but before running ahead, full steam to save the day ask yourself the questions above and determine if this is the right time to start upon your new adventure.  If it is then seize the day.  If not then wait, plan and proceed when ready to ensure that your new venture is a success and you enjoy life along the way.

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