Archive for the ‘Entrepreneurship’ Category

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The Real Definition of a To Do List

March 27, 2014

The “To Do” list.

You either love it or hate it…or maybe you just loath it.  If  you are a planner – you’ve never met a to do list you didn’t love.  But if being an organized, sequential, detail thinking planner is not your thing…well then, you may just loath the idea of a to do list.

I’d like to change that.

Your brain was built to interact with ideas, not store them.  It does not make sense to use your magnificent brain to remember “to send Sally that email,” “call Carl back” and “oh, don’t forget the milk on your way home.”  What a waste of prime, precious real estate.  Your brain may be little – weighing in at only 2% of your body weight – but it takes 20 to 30% of your calories and 20% of your oxygen (according to The Daniel Plan and other brain research).  Though it may be little, your brain is mighty.

So why do we treat it like it is not important?  Using your brain to “remember milk” is insulting when it is desperately wanting to think, ponder,  create, innovate and give you great ideas.  Ever thought about where you are when your great ideas hit…how about in the shower, on a walk, sitting quietly, working out, playing with your kid or pet?  It is never at work when you are locked to your desk, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.  Your brain will work the way it wants to when it finds the space to do so, even if you don’t give it the space, it’ll just take it.

Which brings me back to the point of this post.  What is the real definition of a To Do list?  It is to capture what you need to do, want to do and don’t want to forget to do.  But with everything on one list it can be overwhelming and scary which is why so many don’t spend the time creating a To Do list.  The point is to create a To Do list that works for you.  Your To Do should be the place where everything goes that needs to get done, but that doesn’t mean you need to get it done the minute you create the list.  I coach my clients to consider different kinds of To Do lists…one for today’s or tomorrow’s  priorities, one for longer term projects you don’t want to forget about and a list of the things you will eventually get around to doing (though maybe not).  The point is you captured the idea. Because the ultimate goal is capturing the information…once the idea is down on paper and out of your brain you can stop thinking about it.  The space that “finalize marketing plan” was taking up in your brain is now released and room is made to think.

Working with one of my clients recently on her To Do list reminded me how a true creative, right brain phenomenal woman viewed “The List” and the creation of “The List.”  So I challenged her to see her To Do list different…just a place to capture all you want to do so you can decide when things will get done, on which timeline and in which order.  There are so many options when it comes to creating a To Do list and I don’t want to overwhelm you with the possibilities because your list needs to be a reflection of you.  But start by capturing all the “things” that are swimming around in your head and then categorize them by deadline…tomorrow, next week, next month, next quarter, next year, maybe never.  Then focus on working daily with the “tomorrow” and “next week” list to figure out when you can accomplish the items.  One great daily To Do list that I enjoy using is the 1-3-5 rule.  It says that on any given day I can accomplish one big item (like writing this post), 3 medium items, and 5 smaller items when considering the number of meetings, client sessions and networking events I have.  I can accomplish more of course when there is less on the calendar.  You can read more and download a printed template of the 1-3-5 list (if analog is your preference) here!  (Thanks Daily Muse for the great idea).

Your To Do list should set you free…not hold you prisoner.  You control your list, you are in charge and the list is just there to capture all the great things you are going to do!

So go create your To Do list and Take Control of Your Day!

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Networking Gone Wrong

March 7, 2014

Recently I attended two networking events and witnessed networking attempts that did not produce the desired result.  While they were not disasters they did strike me as such a waste of time (and money) for the people who did not leverage the opportunity to network correctly. And if you know me you know I am not a big fan of time wasting (probably a reason I am a time efficiency coach).  I felt compelled to write about it because we all can use a reminder of how best to network because networking is an art form.  Showing up with a go-giver mentality, being authentic and understanding how to have a relaxed, not forced, conversation are skills that can be developed.  After these two experiences I reached out to my friend and colleague Terri DeBoo of Ideas at Work.  She provided me with her Top 10 Networking Tips.   Two of her tips apply perfectly to the experiences I endured and witnessed.

First experience: After I gave the keynote address at one event a gentleman approached me as I was leaving the stage and handed me his business card.  He then proceeded to tell me what he did and how he can help me.  He encouraged me many times to check out his website to see how I could benefit from him and his company.  He was very kind but the conversation was all about him and he never asked what I did to clearly understand if I would even be interested in learning more about him.  Consider Terri’s tip #6 and tip #7…

6. “Have some questions in mind for conversation starters. People love to talk about themselves so ask questions about their jobs and what you can do to help them meet someone they need to know.”

7. “This is a NETWORKING event; quit trying to SELL somebody something. You cannot close a deal in a half an hour so stop trying.”

Unfortunately I won’t be following up with guy as he didn’t create value or reasons for me to do so.  I do hope he is able  to improve his networking style.  He does get major props for approaching me right away though.

Second experience: I was sitting at a table during a luncheon networking event and noticed the four people sitting to the right of me were all from the same company (of course the nametag tipped me off).  I thought to myself…”Don’t they know that the point of networking is to not sit with each other but to meet new people?”  The best use of their time, their company’s money and the networking event would have been to split up and sit at different tables.  If that was too uncomfortable they could have at least split up in pairs.  They missed the point of the event…to meet new people and nurture relationships they may already have with other attendees.

The main point of networking events is to meet people and allow relationships and business opportunities to naturally develop.  Those relationships and opportunities will develop through follow up, future meetings over coffee, introducing them to connections they need and taking a long-term interest in their career and business success.  Yes, it takes time but if real networking is part of your short-term prospecting strategy you will be disappointed.

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Levels of Aspiration

April 25, 2012

Do you have a “level of aspiration” when it comes to your work and career? When you mash Tamara Dembo’s and Kurt Lewin’s “level of aspiration” theory with David McClelland’s work on achievement motivation an interesting concept starts to take shape.  Some of us will reach a level within our work or career and will not desire to go any higher.  According to McClelland some of us are just not born with a high desire to achieve.  But of course some of us are.  Makes sense, right?

So if this makes sense why do companies tie themselves in knots trying to figure out why employees may not want to reach the corner office, become a partner, or at the very least take that next promotion?  Now of course this is the opposite of the Peter Principle (which is being promoted to a level of incompetence).  If you have a boss who suffers from the Peter Principle – remember he or she allowed themselves to be promoted to that level (and they may not be aware of their incompetence, which is always the kicker).

But I digress. The level a person wants to reach in terms of title, responsibility, expected connectivity and stress is different for each person and in society we tend to frown upon those who don’t aspire for more.  But is the reality that there is a lack of desire to become a corporate executive alive and well?

One new study from Intelligent Office (IO) found in a survey of 1,075 people no one, not even one person, aspired to become a corporate executive.  More than half, 65%, want to work as an entrepreneur or independent.  The “Work IQ” survey found a shift in work styles as well with an emphasis on more flexible work hours, have more mobility in life, and access to technology (like laptop or iPad) that affords the desired mobility.

The survey results bring up three thoughts for me…
1. Were the results a fluke due to our economic environment?  I mean there are approximately  157,000 students in MBA schools across the country (rough estimate from AACSB accredited schools).  Aren’t most MBAs in school because the masters degree could lead to the next promotion and possibly to a position as a corporate executive?
2. IO didn’t provide a breakdown of the demographics in the release so I’m not sure if their survey respondents reflect more of our working society versus their customer base (Intelligent Office is the leading virtual, professionally staffed office space for mobile executives and small businesses in North America).  If the respondents mirror their customer base then the results make sense.  If the respondents mirror more of the workforce as a whole then the results are a cause for concern.
3. Considering the results mirror our current workforce then it does mean a new trend is being highlighted.  Could a shortage of corporate executives be on the horizon, exacerbated by the Baby Boomer retirements?

What would a shortage of potential corporate executives mean for your company?

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Bubble-Wrap and Mass Protection – Guest Blog Post

April 18, 2012

I am working on a blog post about Millennials, entrepreneurship and leadership when I read Cathy Maday’s recent post on bubble-wrapping our opinions and thoughts to the determinant of our company’s success, our individual success and our sanity.  I thought my readers would enjoy her thoughts so her blog post is posted below in its entirety and with permission.  Cathy Maday owns Wingspan Coaching and can be reached at www.wingspancoaching.com.  I’ll follow up with my blog post next week.  Happy Reading!

Bubble-wrap and other annoying weapons of mass protection! 

Sadly, many of us have learned to bubble-wrap our opinions/thoughts/ideas/feedback for a number of reasons:

– The first manager you ever had taught you that bubble-wrapping worked because he is uncomfortable with conflict, so he avoided it. And so did you. (Heck, what did you know? You were fresh out of college and just wanted to do well at your first job!)
– Your employee who bursts into tears every time she’s given feedback has taught you to avoid the situation altogether. (Understandable!) So you avert your eyes, keep a healthy distance and bubble-wrap the hell out of everything you say to her. You don’t want to look like the big bad wolf in the office.
– Nearly everyone around you takes things personally, so they favor approval over effective, healthy growth, real conversations, and oh yeah, profit.
– The company you used to work for had a culture of blaming/making-wrong/mistakes-are-bad/stay-under-the-radar, so you learned that bubble-wrapping might help you keep your job.
– Your last boss was a bully who only liked himself, his ideas and his way of doing things. So you learned to bubble-wrap and put up with it because your husband just got riffed from the bank and your family needed the steady paycheck.
– You attended a two-day leadership training that taught you to empower your employees! Give them the good-bad-good feedback sandwich and have a 30-minute conversation about their feelings every time they missed a deadline or performed under par. (I agree, that trainer ought to be shot.)

Yes, many of us have learned to bubble-wrap for reasons that are understandable at the time. The problem is that we’re each incredibly intelligent, creative and resourceful. So, our brains quickly make these communication patterns a habit. Then we’re on auto-pilot. And even though we get different jobs with different companies or we escape Corporate America and start our own business, we often bring along our behavior patterns. And many of them are now outdated and no longer useful.

[This happens in our relationships too, btw.]

Bubble-wrapping is a waste of time, money, resources and energy that could be put toward fun, exciting ideas, products and solutions! And greater versions of ourselves!

You can say what you mean and mean what you say without being mean. Plus, you’re so much more interesting and the conversation is more colorful when you don’t bubble-wrap.

Let go of your need for approval, your fear of rejection and your weapons of mass protection!

Take a healthy risk. Entrepreneurship and leadership are not for the weak.

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