Do Not Make These Startup Mistake’s (Pssst. I did!)

A few years ago I taught a business boot camp at a local university. It was for people who had business ideas, but weren’t quite sure how to go about implementing them. It was a “how to.”

Everyone in the class had the similar needs:

  • They had an idea and wanted to grow it into a sustainable income.
  • They’d set aside some money to get started but weren’t sure if they had enough.
  • They had a plan. (Kinda-Sorta)

What they didn’t have was “The fourth bullet point.”

How do I make this real? -How does it go from being an idea to a reality?

Here is some of what I shared with them.

You don’t have a business if you don’t ever sell anything. You have a hobby!

Let that sink in for a minute.

Okay?

I’m going to ask you do something that will require a leap of faith on your part. I’m going to warn you that you are going to have to do this over and over, because like your favorite guilty pleasure – It ain’t going away any time soon: Fight the urge to believe that God, The Universe, The Angels and all the Saints are going to do the heavy lifting for you.

I know, I know! you are full of passion, desire and enough energy to supply power to a small country.

Maybe even The Universe.

Know what I mean Vern?

Who do you share it with?

You don’t know. So you fret and worry and wonder just what the heck you got yourself into. Who is going to buy my stuff?

When I started my business I decided the whole world needed me. I mean, why not? I confused love with need.

The whole world may have loved me but the whole world wasn’t buying from me.

They never have and they never will. I am a really great guy but not everyone needs what I offer.

Without your ideal client you have nothing to sell because if no one needs it why should anyone buy it except for the people who “get it.”

“Oh, John, please. This is cruel and unusual punishment. I have no clue who my ideal client is. I’ve tried and tried….”

Look in the freakin’ mirror for gosh sake’s. Read your journal and don’t burst out laughing when you read the things you wrote.

  • What turns you on?
  • What can you NOT live without?
  • What resonates with ya?

People don’t buy a product or a service. They buy us. They buy honesty, integrity and relationships. They buy YOU because you believe in your product or service. You cannot live without it.

Let me share an example with you of someone who nailed it by sharing themselves with their readers. It’s a blog called Defining Yellow written by Kourtney Benson. It’s all spelled our plain and simple and you know almost immediately if you want to follow her. A picture is worth a thousand words. When you click on Defining Yellow I’d ask you to read her ABOUT ME page and her PURPOSE Page.

When you are finished ask yourself if you know who Kourtney is, what she does, and why she does it. Kourtney wants to work with people like herself. That’s who she surrounds herself with. She’s very direct about who she is. So much so, that I wrote and asked her if I could share her blog with you guys.

Forget about your competition.

Don’t research them, don’t spy on them, don’t lie awake at night wondering and worrying about how they are doing exactly what your doing and worse yet that they are brighter and way more good looking than you are They are not going to steal all your customers!

Your business is different from anyone else’s . It’s your DNA. There will never, ever be anyone who is like you in the past, the present or future. The imprint you put on your business is one-of-a-kind!

You are not they and they are not you! Wanna know why?

Your competitions needs are way different than yours and I gotta tell you that many of the shipwrecks I see from new startups come from trying to do what they’re not prepared to do. It’s like going from your church softball team to the major leagues in fifteen minutes.

I know, I know, As one of my sons put it so eloquently: “Why are you stepping on my dreams?”

The people you choose to serve don’t want something from you they can buy ANYWHERE. They want what you and only you bring to the table. That’s the person you want to attract.

Your competition, the people who you worry about? They aren’t worried about you. They’re too busy being themselves. Follow their lead!

Start small and start now.

Once you’ve gotten the “have to’s” out of the way – legal requirements, insurance etc. it’s time to begin planning.

The first question you might ask yourself is “How do I know what I need?”

That’s where knowing and understanding who you your ideal client is – the one your business will serve and what their needs are.

Their needs. Not ours.

Let that sink in as well.

When I fist started my business I was working with a company that hired me to coach it’s management team. They had me on a monthly retainer which made it a really sweet gig. One morning the COO was telling me about a move he was going to make. I told him I didn’t agree with his decision. He told me he din’t really care if I agreed with him or not.

After the initial sting subsided and I worked through what he said I realized he was right. I was looking at things from my perspective, not his. He was doing what he felt was best for him and his team. It wasn’t my company and while my service was appreciated and valued, I wasn’t part of the team.

Let me put it this way. You have a water leak in your basement. You call a plumber and the plumber fixes the leak. You thank the plumber. You don’t want their opinion on how to remodel your house and when they give it to you it just does not resonate.

Start with what you know. Leanr along the way and when you are starting out lead with the best version of yourself and forget all the horse hockey you’ve been reading about.

Be you.

Start small, start now

Every Morning is a Page Turner

I was restless this morning.

I was impatient this morning and my impatience led to distraction which led to frustration which led to anger.

“And meditation is supposed to help ground me for my day. This one is gonna be quite the S**t Show!

It took a few minutes of emotional searching but I finally found a place to rest and just sorta go with it. I wanted it to be over. I kept leaning forward a bit and that voice was telling me “Okay that’s enough, you can quit now.”

But I didn’t.

Let me tell you a quick story. I promise I’ll be quick. I know it’s early for some of you.

Years ago I met a man. He was standing on a street corner in a brightly colored robe. His side kick was sitting cross legged playing a sitar.

I was waiting for the light to change.

He approached me smiled and bowed.

“Where you are, is where you should be, right now!”

Then, he danced away.

It took me a long time to understand what he was saying and this morning I breathed deep and saw him dancing in front of me, smiling all the while.

“Where you are, is where you should be, right now!”

Every morning is a page turner. Some days I like the story. Some days the story sucks.

Every day, though, I am where I’m supposed to be, right now. What I do with this day is entirely up to me

Namsate.

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I am going to be writing these short posts every morning for the immediate future with the exception of most Tuesday’s when I post my coaching blog. Please feel free, to like, follow and share.

We are all just beginners

It sorta bothered me.

A friend was telling me about her meditation practice and how much she was enjoying the benefits.

I asked her to share.

She paused and said “Oh you wouldn’t be interested. You’re way to advanced for something this simple. I’m just a beginner!

Truth be told my ego took a a gigantic leap. It was like a balloon in a parade. – Larger than life. I had this vision of being on the mountain top with all the meditative greats. “Hmmm I wonder what my robe will look like.

Anyways………..

This morning during my meditation time a thought drifted through my mind. It was gentle and soft. It almost was whisper. “We are all just beginners.”

I let it linger for awhile and the more I repeated it the more of a mantra it became for me.

Yup, we are all just beginners. Every morning gives us a chance to begin again, to start with a new thread and to share the unique energy we’ve been gifted with while we are on this planet.

So, no matter how long you’ve been trying to contort yourself into the lotus position and no matter how many times your ticket has been punched to nirvana, remember, in the grand scheme of thing We Are All Just Beginners.

A good thought on this quarantined Sunday.

Doing These 3 Things Before You Get Started Can Help You Create A Successful Business

I’ve been working with new entrepreneurs for over twenty years.

I’ve watched them sore to heights that they never imagined. I’ve shared the heart ache as their dreams slipped away and left them disillusioned. – And broke.

I learned a lot.

The most valuable stuff I learned wasn’t from the rip roaring successes. It was from the crash and burn failures.

I’d like to share some thoughts that can help you decide whether if this is the right time for you to begin your entrepreneurial journey.

I have worked with and watched fledgling entrepreneurs implode because they didn’t do three important things that might have made the difference between success and failure.

What’s the investment you need to make in starting your business?

Many of us have periodic bouts of Shiny Object Syndrome.

Have you ever been shopping and saw something that caught your eye? It glowed and glittered and you didn’t know what the heck it was but you knew, in your heart of hearts, that you just had to have it. Never mind that you didn’t have a use for it right now; some guru told you that if you wanted a gold plated invitation to the cool kids lunch table you needed to have it. So you opened your wallet and purchased it.

You got it home, looked at it and all of a sudden it didn’t seem so glittery and glowing. As a matter of fact you didn’t know what you were going to use it for. So, you opened a closet and stacked it neatly beside all of those other things you just “had to have,” and went on your merry way until one morning you woke up and you noticed you had no electricity, gas, or water.

You hadn’t paid the bill and those services were shut off. You opened the closet where you kept those things you “just had to have,” and realized they would neither feed you or keep you warm! That’s when reality set in.

You crafted a yard sale sign, plopped it in the front yard and sold all the stuff you “had to have” just so you could survive.

Am I exaggerating? Not really.

First and foremost, take a deep breath, put on blinders and noise reducing ear buds and come to the realization that planning and launching your business is going to be 1% sexy and 99% hard work on your part. You’ll will not find a shortage of good intentioned people who will give you all sorts of good intentioned advice .

What came first, the chicken or the egg? Short answer – The chicken. Without the chicken there is no egg. Seriously. I am not pulling your leg. I see so many people decide, without any empirical evidence that they are the most special of the special and none of the tried and true methods of preparing to start up your business will work for them. You see, they’re different.

And often broke, very quickly.

It’s really easy to get sucked in by the all of the marketing strategies. It’s like they are speaking to your heart. They have been there. They have suffered. They have come close to breaking down.

Repeat after me: They are speaking to my wallet. My wallet cannot think or feel. I spend on what I need, which is not always what I want.

Some of us have to chant it daily.

First, figure out how much you have to spend.

Second, make a priority list. What things do you absolutely have to have in order to get going on making your dream a reality. Before you bake a cake you have to have all the right ingredients.

Getting things off the ground is going to involve more time than you think. Before you turn in your two weeks notice, or start handing out business cards take some time to look at the investment you are going to have to make to start your business.

Start Building Your Network – NOW

Every investment has a cost. Let that sink in.

Find a networking group, find out its requirements and become a faithful member. (Notice how faithful is in bold and underlined!)

It is going to take you at least six months of regular attendance in building up contacts before someone buys. Its focus is building relationships with other people and learning to trust them while they are learning to trust you.

Now I know you believe you are honest and wonderful and ready to serve and create for your clients, but if they just met you last week they don’t know that. Relationships take time. Getting to know someone takes time.

Is it an investment of time? Yes it is.

But…………………in my humble opinion nothing helps a new business any better than word of mouth advertising. Share you dream and your ideas with people may never be potential customers but have a network of people who may be. When you are ready to launch people already know who you are, what you stand for, and that you are, the real deal!

The secret sauce in networking is building relationships

There are three types of people that attend networking events:

People who are there because their boss told them to go.

People who use networking as a social tool, to connect with their friends.

Finally, YOU, the person who see’s networking for what it is: An opportunity to make connections and begin to develop an picture of who your ideal client may be.

You’re not going to know who your ideal client is until you actually meet them.

I’m not sure where we would be without John. Most likely, we’d still be stumbling over our own feet trying to determine how to launch our business idea. His guidance has helped open doors (and our own eyes) so that we are set up for success. When we were first introduced to him to discuss the possibility of working together, I remember seeing a light spark on his face as he immediately began formulating plans for how to help us…and that spark never faded during our entire working relationship. His enthusiasm, innovation, and sincere interest in our success has kept us motivated in our endeavor. I can’t recommend him high enough to anyone needing advice on how to get moving in the right business direction. And I also can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for us. April N.

That two year relationship came from someone approaching me after a networking event and asking if I’d be willing to meet with them to talk about a business idea they’d been working on. .

When you begin creating those connections you want to block out all of the noise and have a 1-2-1 conversation with them. It’s where trust is built. Arrange for a place, date and time.

Follow up with an email a few days before you’re supposed to meet as a reminder and send a text message the morning of our meeting.

This is a great way to begin creating connections, and getting confident in talking about your business. The more people I meet the more valuable I become. It means if someone is looking for a graphic artist I can usually say “I know someone….”

When you help someone else with no strings attached they will not forget you and if they do forget you, do you really want them in your circle?

I love this quote by Dr. Ivan Misner the founder of Business Networking International “Networking is more about farming than it is about hunting.”

You are who you hang around with – Develop an entrepreneurs mindset.

When I left my 9 to 5 in 1999 I really didn’t know a whole lot about a whole lot. Back then, a blog was something you scraped off of your shoes. Mostly I knocked on doors – Lots of doors. I signed a client to do some supervisor training and coaching. I was sitting in their conference room one afternoon and their VP of sales stuck his head in the doorway.

Gotta minute

Sure

This is it, I thought. They’re going to get rid of me.

Walking down the hall, I started reviewing every dumb thing I’d ever done.

He looked across his desk and said You know absolutely nothing about sales, do you?

Guilty as charged

My background was in operations, training and human resource management. Sales? Uhm, no!!

His company was a client of mine for close to five years. We have lunch twice a year to this day and he taught me the most valuable lesson I’ve learned as an entrepreneur. – It’s never about you! It’s always about the client.

He taught me that in order to get you have to give and sometimes what you give, you don’t send an invoice for. You prove your value and your worth with your integrity and character. It’s helping someone out. Rinse and repeat.

I spend my time with those people. They exude positive energy.

You are, who you hang around with. Start that practice long before you sign your first contract.

Always Give More Than Promised

The title of this blog suggested you’d learn three things you should consider before you begin your entrepreneurial journey. Yet, here I am getting ready to give you a fourth.

A few years ago I wrote an eBook called These 3 Things: A Guide to Success and Happiness.

I am going to give you a copy free. It talks about three of the things I believe will help you live a happy and successful life. One thing I’ve learned for sure is that no matter how smart, talented or prepared you are you won’t succeed in the long run if your life is not happy and balanced.

This offer will be available for a limited time. Beginning Monday April 14, 2020 until Friday April 17, 2020 you'll be able receive it at no charge. Click on the link and follow the instructions.

Until next time. Stay safe.

3 Tips to Use in Avoiding the Guru Syndrome.

I am not a guru hater. I genuinely respect the folks who have worked long and hard to build a business for themselves so they can enjoy the life they set out to enjoy and be recognized as the very best in their field.

My problem has never been with the guru’s. As a matter of fact, most folks we refer to as guru’s run like holy hell from the title. In it’s place, they talk about hard work, long hours, ups and downs and how there was more than once they were ready to throw in the towel. The “guru’s” I’ve met are caring people who willingly help other people and really don’t care for the title. They see themselves learning about every facet of life just like you and I.

They have an insatiable thirst to get it right right and always remind us that just because it worked for them………….

Yeah, we don’t wanna hear that, do we?

The problem, my dear grasshopper, is not them. It’s us.

We don’t read past the headlines. We turn a deaf ear to “No guarantees it will work for you just because it worked for me.”We are still looking to click our heels three times and be in the mystical and magical land where everyone hangs on our every word, writes us massive checks and lets us perform with the favorite artist of our choice. ( I always wanted to sing with Sinatra.)

And that’s okay.

It’s okay as long as we separate the reality of our lives from the reality of their lives.

Lemme share for a few if I may.

When I can’t sleep at night, I close my eyes, and I conjure up a fantasy I’ve had since I was 10 years old. I am a pitcher for a major league baseball team and not only am I amazingly successful, there are whispers that I am the G.O.A.T. – Greatest of all time. People love me, they adore me and when I face a batter I conjure up an image of facing a super star I never really liked. A No-Good-Nick, a villain.

I strike him out. Not only do I strike him out but I make him look terrible when he swings and falls in the dirt. Oh yeah, my average fast ball speed if about 110 mph. Everybody wants me.

I am heading towards 67. I never could get the ball to travel the distance to reach home plate and I am terminally uncoordinated. But I gotta tell ya, when I hear that siren song, the call from the mists that suggests it’s not to late, there is a tug inside of me I have to resist.

Maybe I could…………..

I am quite sure someone out there would try to convince me that I still could reach my goal and if I made a pittance of an investment, with them, I COULD get to the Hall of Fame. I mean just read the testimonials! Aging and deluded males everywhere are salivating at that one, last, chance at greatness. The one that escaped us so often in our youth. A chance at redemption. We see the faces of all those naysayers and people who sneered at us, and we open out hearts, minds and most importantly our wallets. Field of Dreams, The Rookie…….

Damn! I almost convinced myself.

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret.

It’s called marketing. It’s is not a dirty word or evil practice. It was not created by Satan himself. Marketing, my dear ones, is the way we make money, Dough-Re-Me. The stuff we pay our bills with and enjoy our lives with.

You know!!

I’m going to share some tips on navigating the mine field, because if you’re like me, you have fallen prey to dumping a bunch of cash in the hopes that it will lead to the promised land and instead you get a bunch of YouTube videos and a concierge who hosts a monthly get together that’s usually titled a master mind or group coaching. Often those aren’t live. You feel cheated and robbed and you are no closer to getting what you want then you were before your credit card provider is asking you if you’d like to increase your credit limit.

Then we’re ashamed. We’re supposed to know it all, supposed to avoid those traps, those get-there-overnight pitches. It’s a terrible feeling. We fell prey and worst of all it “Ain’t their fault.” It’s ours. We drank the Kool Aide.

End of sermon.

Here are three things that can help all of us begin to break that cycle of compulsion and make better use of the resource we have available to us.

Nothing in the realm of your business or practice requires an immediate decision. Well maybe if someone has a gun pointed at your head but otherwise you’re being what’s called “squeezed.” Those offers are designed to raise your pulse and blood pressure a bit and make you decide it is now or never. Some of them even have a doomsday counter. It’s a digital counter that tells you that there is only a precious bit of time left before this once-in-a-lifetime offer expires. After that you’ll pay a king or queens ransom. Take a step back, breathe and put some space between the hype and your needs.

I’ll use an old school term sleep on it. If it still sounds good in the morning……… That takes me to tip two

Listen to your intuition. I worked with someone years ago who told me, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck it’s probably a duck. If it feels right for you, investigate further. If it just doesn’t resonate with you ask yourself WHY? Everything and I mean everything is not for all of us. That’s where you’ll hear the term ideal client. There are some folks who’d like you and I to believe that everyone created from the beginning of time is their ideal client. They can contort their process to fit your needs. It’s not a lie. They paint with a broad brush and suggest you and I fill in the blanks and often we are stuck with nothing more than we walked through the door with. Listen to your soul. The cool kids lunch table is not all it’s cracked up to be anyway.

Check them out – Make sure they can deliver what they are promising to deliver. I could sit here all day telling you horror stories both personal and ones I’ve heard over the years.

The internet provides us with great opportunities. We can work with people we otherwise wouldn’t have come in contact with. The internet has turned the corner market into a grocery store on steroids. – So many choices. And then, there is the down side.

Then there are the people that take our money and either woefully under deliver or we never hear from them again. They label themselves as experts and guru’s and leaders in their field, they send us a two page PDF, get our email address and proceed to barrage us with the good old once-in-a-lifetime offers. It’s marketing by attrition.

For every 1000 names we add to our list, 100 of those people will open and read our email. Of those 100 roughly 10 people will click through. That means, they’ll go to the next page or link. Of those 10 people only 1 person MAY take advantage of your offer. It sets up like this 1000-100-10-1. It’s the internet marketing version of the advertising we get in our snail mail. – Mass marketing.

Question for you: What do you do with most of the stuff that you retrieve from your mailbox? Yeah, me too.

Okay I’m going off on an uber tangent here but I thought you should know. Ya know?

Where was I?

If I see something that perks my interest I start asking around. I do research. If you are a provider worth your salt, Google has your entire life on file, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. As far as testimonial’s go, I try to avoid them. I ask every client I work with to provide me with a testimonial at the end of our time together. I put it in the coaching agreement.

Lemme ask you something? If you send you a testimonial and it says You stink do you really think I am going to publish it? Seriously. What we see are filtered.

Okay Mr Bright Eyes what should I do? Glad you asked.

I send an email with at least three questions about their offering. The one question I always include is a request for analytics. I want to know what percentage of their clients benefited from working with them or studying their material.

I’ll give you an example:

I still do resumes for people. Many years ago I began tracking how many of those resumes resulted in a person getting an initial interview. 91.6% of the resumes I created resulted in an initial interview. I offered empirical proof.

I ask the question: Who do you know that I know? Then I reach out to mutual connections asking what their experience was.

Okay you get my point.

You may have tips of your own and if you’d do I’d live to hear from you. We’re all in this together.

Oh yeah, in case you’re wondering my email list is way less than 1000 people. when I send out a posting, according to MailChimp the open rate is roughly 35%. The alleged average for my profession, coaching and consulting is 12.9%. My click through rate is at 10%. I keep my list manageable.

One last thing: I have not posted for a few weeks mostly because of a personal illness – our grandson gave us a new years gift of Day Care Disease and we had a death in our extended family. I thought you’d like to know

Namsate

You Believe You Are the Best, Right?

The first part of this blog came from a posting I made on social media earlier this week

Well arent you?

Stop and think about it for a minute. I did the other day and I didn’t like what I came up with.

Here I am, asking people to invest their time and money in working with me, to help them reach their life and business goals and I don’t always believe I am the very best there is in my field. I’m telling them that since they don’t deserve the best they might as well settle for me.

Here I am acting like I wanted to take Jim Nabors spot on Gomer Pyle Oh, gee, golly gosh. I’m not THAT good.

Somewhere, somehow, we’ve morphed into a place and time where championing your ability to be excellent at what you do ends up getting a finger shook in your face sorta like Nancy Pelosi shaking her finger at Donald Trump awhile back.

Imagine getting ready to have major surgery and the doctor looks down at you and says I’m gonna do my best. Hopefully you’ll live through the surgery. Don’t worry. I’m pretty good at what I do.

I am not talking about the “You-rah-rah” BS. I am talking about you! You, the person that has worked and studied and sweated and banged your hands in frustration, shed some tears and wondered if you don’t belong locked up somewhere because it doesn’t seem like anyone is ever listening to you. You’ve invested a lot of time and effort to become the expert that you are. Why shouldn’t the rest of us see you as well.

You have put in the sweat equity. You deserve to claim the title “Best of the Best” in what you do!

The secret to your excellence? It’s really simple. You do what you do because you love what you do. You do what you do because you cannot see yourself doing anything else and when you have a string of failures and people start suggesting you might wanna move on to something else you look at them like they’re speaking Klingon. They don’t get it.

Want to know how I know? There is only of you and there will only be one of you. There a trillion of “everyone else’s,” but there is only one of you. There are a group of people who will follow you to the end of the earth because of who you are and what you believe not only about yourself but about the ability to be great at what you do. In a word you resonate with them.

That, is, so, cool! (I put the comma’s in there for emphasis.)

I am spending more time making sure my core values – honesty, integrity and only delivering what I know I can deliver remain intact despite the siren song that tugs at me every now and then to just be like everyone else . I am a what-you-see-is-what-you-get-sorta-guy.

I care about the people I work with. I know that violates one of them-there coaching rules that you are supposed to be objective otherwise you cant guide them. I care that they find success and happiness.

I am learning that each of you is a unique human being, special in each and every way that I am special and that your needs are as unique as mine. So I won’t ever hand you a sheet a paper, tell you to follow instructions, take three Ibuprofen and call me in the morning.

I am learning to listen with my heart and soul. To dig deeply as I listen and ask myself what I’m really hearing.

I have embraced the motto To they own self be true, not to the latest fad or practice.

I am the best mindset-life-business coach I know.

What about you?

If you wait until you are ready…… (you will never be ready!)

I grew up with the mantra Fail to plan, plan to fail resounding in my ears. It was everywhere. Throw a bucket of water on me in the middle of the night and I’d sit up and shout Fail to plan, plan to fail.

Tattoed on my inner arm was Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance

Except, when it became an excuse to move forward.

Plan. Then plan some more. Than dive really deep and plan on a micro level. Waste time, resource, energy and arrive at convincing yourself that whatever it is you are contemplating doing ain’t gonna work anyways or your hesitant about trying so you keep it in”the planning stage.”

Why even try! You have planned it all out and the evidence shows you just need to close the doors and windows and play it safe.

Or, maybe plan a little better.

Maybe the project was larger than you imagined.

Time for a feasibility study or researching the empirical knowledge.

Ooo, Ooo I know, go to a five day workshop that has nothing to do with your project but the speaker is the guru’s to end all guru’s and if you don’t attend you’ll fall behind and you won’t be welcome at the cool kids lunch table any longer.

I mean who passes up on opportunities like that? Know what I mean, Vern?

BTW: You are really stressed and over committed and you wouldn’t have had time to implement your project anyways. Right?

When we operate from that mind set, we might as well not invest the time to begin with. You might even argue that it’s not an investment of time but rather a waste of time. It’s the old tug back and forth: feeling we have to rather than wanting to. A dog chasing its tail round and round until the end result is that we are angry, frustrated and depressed.

See, our inner critic proclaims. I told ya you’d fail.

Okay, lets climb down off the bridge.

There is a simple solution. Simple but not easy.

Find someone to hold you accountable for what you’re working on. Once a week, connect and review where you’re at and what you’re doing and how much progress you’re making on the project or goal. You don’t have to schedule a five course meal. You can do it via text or email, Skype, Zoom or phone.

Find someone you can trust and someone that will hold you accountable to what you commit to doing.

It requires self discipline and commitment on both parts.

Simple, just not easy but I can tell you it may help reduce your stress level, and give the old confidence a needed boost.

There ya go, problem solved

You’re welcome. It’s what I’m here for!

See ya next week.

Success, My Brother Joe, Angels and Homework.

My siblings and I attended a Catholic grade school that was run by an order of nuns who didn’t tolerate any nonsense —- Period. They’d have given Navy Seals a run for their money

Even my mothers voice quaked a bit when one of them would call the house. My brother Joe and I would sit on the steps and listen to my mother say Yes sister, yes sister. I’m sorry sister. We’ll talk to HIM sister. 

HIM? A sure sign it was me or him. We’d start doing a quick inventory of what sort of trouble we’d caused in the past twenty four hours.

When Joe was in second grade his teacher told my parents that he wasn’t doing his homework. Everything had gone along fine for the first few months of the school year and then mysteriously he stopped turning in his homework.

Naturally worried mom and dad asked for an explanation. Was he sick? Did he not understand what he was being taught? What was it?

His explanation? He’d pray each night that an angel would visit our house and do his homework.

Easy-Peasey lemon squeezy, right?

To the best of my recollection he was told that while he could continue to beseech the gates of heaven for help, he had to start carrying his own water.

Why am I telling you this?

I am privileged to work with people who are committed to improving their lives and their careers. They define success in a lot of different ways and when things get a bit too much and life is a bit shaky, I tell them the story about Joe, the angel and the homework.

I tell them we are all looking for an angel to do our homework. Some of us stand in line twice a week hoping that the lottery ticket we purchase is going to wipe away all of our woes and then we won’t have to deal with life and all of it’s surprises. Some of us pray. Some of us daydream.

I remind them while successful people may call upon angels for inspiration, and guidance, they don’t turn over the keys to the condo.

There’s a lesson here. Of that I am sure.

We are always going to hear the siren song of the easy way until we realize the easy way isn’t easy at all. It just causes us more misery and many of us, like Joe, made it through second grade and went on to bigger and better things He got past hoping for the angels to make him look good and became a successful architect He and his wife Susan have raised two prolific writers and a mathematical genius who gave them four very cool grand kids.

The angels must be pleased.

Have a happy holiday. See you in January

What I Have Have Learned in the Past 10 Years: Staying in Faith

If you could talk to your younger self, what advice would you give him?

My therapist floated the idea by me in our session last week.

Talk about synchronicity! I had just finished a three part exercise with Marie Forleo called Before You Say Goodbye to the 2010’s, Do This Decade in Review

I gave it a lot of thought. Here is what I came up with. Here’s the one piece of advice I’d give to younger me:

Stay in faith. Whatever challenges life throws at you, no matter how many people suggest you are crazy or are critical of what you think and what you believe, hold fast to those beliefs as long as they are not harming you or harming anyone else. Don’t let the gale force winds of skepticism blow you off course.

I have been there.

I have done that.

I would tell my younger self that you will see amazing peaks where you get a glimpse of the wonder and beauty of creation and all it’s manifestations. So much so that it will take your breath away. You will accomplish some absolutely amazing things. Take the time to acknowledge them, to savor them. They are yours and yours alone. Let no one ever rob you of the joy and pleasure you receive from simply being you. It is your most precious gift and talent. You have a patent on it. No one who came before you and who will come after you will ever be you!

You will experience the lowest of the lows at times. You’ll doubt yourself and everything you believe in and you’ll wonder how you made it this far. Those nagging voices in your head will go “needer-needer-needer.” I’d like to tell you a way to avoid this but there isn’t one. It’s called life and no matter how many people approach you with a whiz bang, quick fix idea, it is still called life. Pain is required, suffering is always optional.

Did I say that you will doubt yourself? Please remember that most things that happen to you or those you hold dear, those things that cause you pain, frustration and angst, are not of your doing and mostly beyond your control. Learn from them, retain the lesson and move on. – Stay in faith with yourself and everything you believe in.

Find something to believe in and hang on to it for dear life. Let it become your brand, your identity, your badge of courage and your signature that you write with a flourish. Don’t let other folks ridicule those ideas and try not to fall prey to those who want to take advantage of you.

I don’t care if your greatest joy comes from sidewalk art or of becoming the president of a Fortune 5. Just be you and squeeze every moment of enjoyment from being you that you can manage.

Don’t let anyone steal your dreams or short circuit your journey

Learn to trust and to love even if that trust may be broken and that love never returned.

Finally put yourself in the other persons shoes. They have great joys, great fears and great ambitions, just like you. They are going to stumble and make mistakes just like you. They are not perfect and either are you.

It’s why this life we live is called a journey.

That’s what I’d tell the younger me and that’s what I’ve learned in the past ten years.

When I sat down and wrote the the things I’ve accomplished in the past ten years and the things and struggles I’ve overcome in that time as well, it took my breath away.

Damn I’m pretty good

So are you.

Namaste

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Are You Uncomfortable Setting Goals for Yourself?

I used to be. I hated it. I ran from it like you run from an over due bill! I was one of those Ready, Shoot, Aim people. I used set my goals on the run.

An eighty percent success rate used to be good enough for me.

Every self improvement class I took or talk I heard always began with the exhortation that you will not land in the pantheon of the great and powerful without setting goals.

“So let’s begin by writing your goal for this course….”

“I don’t have one. I was hoping you’d give me a bit of guidance. If I knew what I needed to do why in the hell would I waste invest my time being here!”

That just seemed way to overwhelming especially for a recovering perfectionist! I mean, the goal had to be absitiley and posilutley perfect right from the get go or it didn’t have meaning to me.

It was maddening.

Do you know many of us stumble right out of the gate?

It’s why gym’s and fitness clubs are a great business to invest in. We agree to pay for a year, show up for maybe three weeks, and the owner vacations in Cabo San Lucas while we are trying to figure out what went wrong. We arrive, very quickly I might add, at the conclusion that we are failures and being skinny, healthy, happy and buff ain’t for us. Sigh.

Can I share something? It’s not us. Really it ain’t.

It’s our perception of things.

I walk into the gym and here is what I see:

People who resemble the Incredible Hulk doing all sorts of things that would cause me to rupture and hemorrhage to death if I even thought of trying them. Sweating, grunting, high fiving each other. Of course, they all just jumped off the pages of Vanity Fair or GQ and wear designer work out gear.

I take a quick look at me

Flabby, bald, overweight, old, straight from the cover of Mad Magazine

Okay I’ll stop. I’m depressing myself.

Wanna know something else?

Neither one of those scenarios are 100% accurate.

It’s a mindset issue. I set a goal of being healthy and happy and full of activity for the upcoming year and here I am – I’ve been there for ten minutes and I’m already contemplating my exit strategy.

But here’s the thing. Most of the time we set a goal that shoots way above what we can accomplish in the time frame we set and we fall short because we’re don’t know what living in that neck of the woods means, or feels or how we’re supposed to act once we get there. Besides we have our dear friend the internet, convincing us that the click of a mouse or pointer will send us on our way to sensual Nirvana, all for twelve easy payments of $397 dollars!

But then, like magic,after stubbing my toe and bumping my head more often then I care to admit I saw the problem.

When I was a production supervisor I was given the task of managing a department that was under performing. One of the first laws of production management is to reach a set standard. That means you paid the bills. Anything above it is profit. Anything below it is, well it’s not good, lol. Standard is often defined as 70% of maximum capacity. My department was running roughly at 50%. Every morning we were told to walk around with the previous days production report and advise our machine operators whether they made the standard or not. This wasn’t a lot of fun because I can tell you that if you suggest I’m incapable of doing my job every day of the week, I’m going to give you all sorts of reasons as to why it ain’t my fault.

Know what I mean Vern?

I came up with a plan. I took a huge risk.

Remember that the obstacle to reaching our goals is a matter of perception. I started generating a report that took the operation towards the desired standard in incremental steps. If you currently operated at 55% of standard I’d ask you to reach 60% in a months time. I’d ask you how you could do that. I’d ask you to involve other people. In other words I made it a goal you could see and reach and personalize.

Each step of the way, I’d sit down with you and review each weeks performance. If you didn’t hit your target we’d talk about why. It might have been a material problem or a mechanical problem and after putting this practice into place for a couple months my machine operators opened up and added a “I had a bad week. It will be better this week.”

(I think that’s called being human.)

In a years time most of the operators were making standard consistently. Here’s why:

  • I involved them in setting a reachable goal. A goal they felt comfortable with.
  • I removed some of the pressure. Raising the standard slightly each month made the machine operator relax and be more attentive to obstacles. They felt a sense of accomplishment as they saw positive progress.
  • I allowed them responsibility for reaching the goal. I let them be their own advocate for correcting problems that prevented them from reaching the goal.

I could go on and on…………..

But the coolest thing was they started working together, communicating and listening. Those 40 or so people taught me a valuable lesson. They taught me to listen before I reacted. They taught me to break things down in chunks I could handle at the time. They taught me to live in the here and now and look what I could do to effect small changes that added up to a large change over time.

They taught me to look at progress and not perfection.

That, believe it or not, was in 1984. Since then I have a pretty good track record of reaching my goals. (There are a few that kinda sorta fell of the rails but that’s another story for another time.) I am confident that when I set a goal I’ll reach it because here is the first question I ask myself when I decide to set a goals.

What has to happen tomorrow today for me to begin the journey towards reaching my goal?”

One of my favorite movies of all time is What About Bob? with Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfus. Dreyfus is a therapist who wrote a book called Baby Steps.

I’ve embraced that practice of taking baby steps in my life and my business. It’s all about progress not perfection. It’s about sitting down and deciding that the here and now is the here and now and running full tilt into the obstacle in front of me is only going to give me a concussion.

Baby steps, Baby steps.

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Check out last weeks blog. It was a segway into what I wrote this week. It’s called Living In The Here and Now

See you next week.

Namaste