Distracted Leadership

One of the biggest challenges to being a successful leader and business owner are all the distractions you could face in a day. Of course, there are certainly people, who I hesitate to call leaders, that just avoid all of those and as a result have very high turnover in their organization, both with customers and with employees. They let the distractions get the best of them and as a result have more struggles than the average business owner, and do poorly managing the struggles they do attempt. Part of being a leader and business owner is having the skills to manage all that comes with a business, including having the right people in the right places, time management and communication. If you aren’t able to do all of those things and you only have a drive for the product or service portion of things, you need to partner with someone who can support that aspect of the business.

Distractions come in many forms, from the very obvious to the not so obvious. Very obvious distractions include people who want your attention all times of the day and you never have time to do what you need to do, emails, social media and family. Less obvious distractions include the inability to make decisions, the inability to communicate and the inability to manage your time, all of which are connected back to a focus issue. I get it, we are very busy and there never are enough hours in the day, especially if you’re making time for family or sleep or health like you should. Which is why it’s more important than ever to be able to focus when you’re working and effectively manage not just distractions but all aspects of your business.

One of the most typical ways to manage distractions and your business is to hire people who can be your gate keepers, and in general giving your team the right amount of unsupervised delegation. You should always be checking in with your team, but if you don’t have people in position that you can trust to do right for the business and your customers, you’ll never be able to get done what you need to. Another way to manage distractions is to be greedy with some of your time each day or week. Lock yourself away and let people know they can’t disturb you then, and really buckle down and get stuff done. Another great suggestion I heard recently was to have office hours rather than having an open door policy. This lets people know you’re accessible, but that you respect their time and would like them to respect yours as well. Finally, don’t shy away from the benefits of having a schedule. Yes, we often run a business because we want more freedom, but creating a schedule can help to give you the freedom you wanted in the first place.

What distractions are most challenging to you in your business and how do you deal with them?

Beyond First Successes

Yesterday was the official remembrance of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but many people started talking about him in the days before the holiday and will continue to do so for the rest of this week. As I thought about what to share in this post today about success, there were many thoughts that came to mind. Dr. King certainly is a great example of someone who was successful, but not in the financial regard that many people automatically assign to the word success. Instead, he was one of the few who not only was successful about getting his message out there, it’s a message many people not only remember but can repeat words from, some 50 years later. All of those are incredible feats in and of themselves, but as I was thinking about what to write today I thought about the topic of legacies and about the words that most of us know from his ‘dream’ speech and the other things that I was reminded of or learned over the past few days of reading and hearing about him and his work.

While the ‘dream’ speech is certainly a legacy to be proud of, there was a ton more to this man than just one speech. He was a husband, father, minister, black man, friend of many, resident of Georgia, student, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, courageous soul, and person who stood up and said something when injustice was reigning strong. What I’ve seen these past few days is a great reminder that like success, Dr. King was more than just one thing. Yes, most of us are exceptionally good at one thing or best known for that thing. But success in that one area or through that one avenue is only part of the story. We are much more than just that one thing. Dr. King is more than just his ‘dream’ speech.

I do hope that this year is one of great success for all of us, whether that success is with health, family, work or finances, or some/all of the above. Maybe it will be like dominoes, that when you knock one down, the rest fall so perfectly in line after and it all just works out as you hoped and planned. But don’t let your focus on one thing so distract you or hold you back from the rest of your life. Don’t rest on the joy and victory of one success, continue on pursuing greatness for the rest of your days as well.

Relationships to Believe In

The other day I was reminded of the importance of supporting your partner. I know that sounds really simple, and in some ways it is that simple, but there’s also more to it. A relationship is filled with opportunities for personal growth and learning, both who you are as a person and how you work with others. Relationships also come with challenges to face and they can go through very rocky patches. Even with the best matches, there will still be things that you have to work through, that will frustrate you about the other person and you’ll have to learn compromise. The most successful relationships are with people who learn how to give and take, support each other, communicate, and work together.

But beyond that what I was thinking about this week was about believing in your partner. To believe means to “to have confidence in the truth, or the reliability of something or someone,” “to have confidence in the assertions of (a person),” “to have a conviction that (a person or thing) is, has been, or will be engaged in a given action or involved in a given situation.” Believing in your partner and them in you and both of you in your relationship is a level deeper and beyond just supporting each other, it’s a level of commitment, confidence and conviction that doesn’t exist in all relationships.

What do you believe? Do you believe in your relationship? Do you really believe in your partner? Do you believe in what they bring to your relationship? Do you believe in and support their dreams? Do they believe in you and the relationship as you do? If you believe but are feeling a little tired or frustrated, that’s one thing. It’s another thing if you’re just counting time and sticking it out and you don’t believe in them and the relationship or they in you and the relationship. If that’s the case and you want the relationship to be one you believe in, then it’s time to have a serious conversation about where the relationship is going with your partner. If you aren’t at the place that you need a relationship and partner you believe in, then just enjoy what you’ve got until it’s time to move on. Are you in a relationship you believe in?

New Year, New Sales

Since the new year has begun, I’ve purchased phone cases for my new phone, broken a garbage can lid (thus needing a new garbage can), cleaned up and packed away some holiday decorations, knew several people who have passed away and attended services and after events for one of them, gathered with family and extended family, and looked into clearance sales. What was the hardest part of all of this (other than losing people I knew)? That there weren’t hardly any emails or marketing from companies that I might have purchased from if I knew they were doing sales or had the products I was looking for.

Yes, the weeks of mid-November through Christmas are some of the busiest when it comes to marketing, and it often costs more to market at those times and is often harder to get in front of your target audience since they’re seeing so many messages. Yes, people also are willing to spend money then in part because they know that there will be sales and they know they have to buy gifts. Yes, many people cry when they see their January credit card bills. But the fact remains, just because the holidays are over, doesn’t mean that people stop spending money.

I’m not suggesting that you should be doing marketing or even sales/selling at the level that you did during the holiday/year end shopping season, but what I am saying is that life happens, people need to eat, things break, and people still have needs they’re going to be shopping for, and if you’re not sharing your offers with them, they will go with the cheaper, easier or more obvious choice. And while they may get lucky and end up buying exactly what they were looking for, chances are good that they would have preferred to know their options, and might have been more satisfied with the product or service you were offering but didn’t know was available.

So go ahead, put a little effort into your January marketing, because people are out there shopping. You’ve probably got a better chance of your potential customers hearing you now that they’re not inundated with holiday messages or spending as much time with family and friends. Plus, it’s a great time to set the standard for how the rest of the year will go and be an excellent communicator, building relationships and connections with customers and potential customers.

Relationship Challenges and Choices

I’ve talked with a few people last week whose partners are either ignorant, selfish, not considerate or completely overwhelmed. Of course this means that the people I’ve spoken with are overwhelmed and very frustrated in their respective situations.

Is it a communication issue? Is it a personal issue? Is it a lack of commitment to the relationship issue? All of these are possible, and all of these could be partially involved in the issues that have come up. Another part could be that they’re just not meant to be together. Sometimes you have to know when to pack it in. The resentment can just continue to build if both partners aren’t equally willing to put the time, effort and communication into having a healthy and satisfying relationship.

With this new year it’s a great time to evaluate your relationship.  If you’re struggling with your partner and you haven’t had a conversation about it in the past, the first thing to do is let them know and sit down and have a serious conversation about it. If they don’t respond after you’ve tried to clearly, completely and calmly tell them several times that you’re struggling to pull weight for both of you in the relationship, bring in professional help like a coach or pastor you trust. If they won’t go with you or without you to see that professional, you have to decide if you want to go by yourself, want to stay with the relationship and you’ve just got some unrealistic expectations and desires, or if it’s time to do a trial or permanent separation.

Relationships are some of the best and most challenging aspects of our lives, so it’s important to stand for what you need and be the supportive person your partner needs.  What steps do you need to take in your relationship this year?

Cohesive Marketing Communication

This week I had someone approach me asking about their Facebook account and why they weren’t getting subscriptions from their ads or their page. I asked them to send me their links and I took a look and didn’t even have to get as far as seeing the ads to see some issues that could definitely be the reasons why they weren’t getting subscriptions. When they followed up on my feedback, they asked if they should just scrap their FB page and start over. My answer was that the issue really wasn’t with their FB, although there were things they could improve there, but with the offer they were presenting on their website and a lack of cohesive communication on their offer, and if anything needed to be scraped, it was the website.

I share this with you today because it’s not an isolated incident. I talk with companies on a too-regular basis that do absolutely have issues with their social accounts, but they have far larger issues with the offer they’re presenting and/or their website. You can send all the traffic you want to an offer on social media and then through to your website, but if the ad isn’t clear, if the ad doesn’t match what’s on the website, if what’s on the website isn’t clear and understandable, very little if anything is going to convert.

If I could encourage you to do anything with this new year it would be to review everything about your company online that you can get your hands on and make sure it all is current and lines up clearly. If you do this yearly, unless something big has happened, you’re probably going to just have a few small changes to make and it won’t take long. If you want an outside opinion, shoot me a message with your links. If you know after taking a look at everything that you’re due for an overhaul, I’d love to work with you on going through it all and making sure that you’re set up for your best year ever, and able to support more people in this new decade.

New Year, New Commitment

Just based on how the first few days of the year have gone, I think this year is going to be different than others before. I haven’t gotten near the number of emails that I usually do regarding the new year and plans that people are making or what they’re thinking about with the new year. I don’t know if people are waiting for the first full week back to really think about that stuff, or if they’re just going with the flow, or if no one is making resolutions or intentions for this year, but it’s definitely piqued my interest.

One of the things I have heard brought up a couple of times is an echo back to the 1920’s and calling this new decade also ‘The Roaring Twenties.’ I’m going to have to go and do a little research and see if I agree with that or not, but I don’t feel like we’re roaring into anything. If anything, many people I’ve talked with have a feeling of peace and freedom moving into this new year and new decade.

If you’re feeling that you need something new in this new year, go for it. If you’ve been waiting to feel the motivation to move or change, and you’re finally feeling it, great, and take advantage of that. But maybe you’re not so sure about what this new year means or brings. Maybe what you need this year isn’t something new, but a new commitment to do better with what you/we have. Maybe it’s going to be a maintenance, management, and preparation year for you, a time to take a step back and reconsider and make commitments that will better serve you in this decade and future decades to come. No, we don’t really like to commit a full year of time to something like that, and I’m not saying it has to take a full year. I am suggesting that you give it the full time and effort it may take to really do it right.

What are you committing to this year?

Reflections on School in 2020

Lately I’ve been contemplating schooling and how we’re raising kids these days. I remember years of history and math lessons, and with a few very infrequent clients, I can’t say I do much with either topic, certainly not at the level that we were taught in school. I was talking with a mother the other day who was saying she can’t handle the homework the kids are bringing home, and her kids aren’t even in high school yet, and I often cringe when I hear about some of the homework kids are doing because it’s far above my knowledge, or at least not anything I remember or put into practice today.

Are we teaching kids what we really need to in school these days? Is homework the best practice? Are teachers really sensitive to the amount of time homework takes and how many additional hours of schooling that adds to the day? Are we really preparing them for what comes after school and are we truly giving them a well-rounded education? I know that a big challenge is the internet and how much information is available there and figuring out what should really be in our brains and what we can just look up when we need to. But let’s face it, when it comes to homework most kids aren’t going home to a teacher who can really help them if they’re struggling with the lesson, and it’s not fair to the kids or parents to be in that situation at least weekly.

School is a topic that I come back to frequently, because it’s the foundation of how we’re raising kids today, and if we want something to look different when the kids turn into adults, we need to revisit and revise how we’re raising them so they have options on living, including differently. I’m not suggesting all of school as we know it is a waste, just that with cell phones in many kids’ pockets, it’s time to reevaluate what we’re teaching them, why we’re teaching it and how. While we’re having the conversation we should also be talking about time for kids to be kids and use their imaginations, something that we don’t often have time left over for them to do, or don’t force the issue because technology is easier.

So as we enter this new year, what are your thoughts on the current education system? Are we doing right by our kids? What needs to change or improve the most in your opinion?

Your Business in 2020

Over the holiday break I’ve been taking some time to read through emails I hadn’t had a chance to read, and many of them were about how different aspects of business are going to grow, evolve or change in the future, or how we can move into the new year with the changes that have happened over the past year. You’ve probably read many of these posts as well, and hopefully you didn’t get sick over the holidays and were able to do more planning for the year ahead than I did. Catching up on stuff isn’t the most glamorous or exciting aspect of business, but so essential and important to making sure that your business runs right and you don’t miss out on anything vital. It should be something we do on a regular basis, but some things aren’t high priorities and you get to them when you do.

One of the posts that I read this week talked about something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately and is something that I often talk about with my clients, and is something that I think is fitting to talk about as we go into this new year and new decade. Let’s start with the fact of how many people are running a business. The sheer amount of competition we each face is greater than ever and will only continue to grow based on the ease of access that online tools give us. It’s easier than ever to bring your business idea to life and set up shop online. There’s also less competition in the local retail sector because so many businesses have closed or moved online, and that makes it easier to set up shop locally if that supports your business idea. Both of these have positives because many of the barriers to success have been removed, but thanks to all the competition, it’s also harder to succeed.

So where does this bring us at the beginning of a new year and new decade? Be yourself. Let your business have a personality, one that people can relate with and connect to. Let your customers and connections get to know the people who are part of the business, and of course let them know that there are real people behind the business. Let your business stand out in ways that are appropriate, relevant and unique. Do what works for growing your business and makes you (and your team) happy. Try new things and take some risks that are appropriate for your business. And most importantly be the caring, compassionate, passionate, dedicated, inspired leader your business needs you to be.  It’s your business, why let it be anything else?

The End of a Decade

During the holiday season we often slow down and live a little differently with more gatherings and celebrations and time off, which is in many ways one of the best ways to end a year because it gives us time to focus on what should be most important in our lives but we don’t always have (or make) time for during the rest of the year. As we transition to not only a new year but also a new decade this week I was reminded that our slow times are busier and fuller than the lives of people 100 years ago, and that they could never last a day in our shoes. I know it can be frustrating to reach the end of another year and not be where you wanted to be, but maybe reflecting on this can give you some peace about what you have and haven’t accomplished over the past year and decade.

For obvious reasons, this year change seems bigger and more important, as if the change to a new decade is somehow different from the usual calendar turn, which it really isn’t. But at the same time it does seem fresher and more of a clean slate than we usually get. The interesting thing about clean slates is that it infers that there’s something to clean off the slate, and that’s certainly true for the decade we’re finishing. It used to be that we could come up with a list of things that happened and that list would be fairly brief, but now there isn’t one list for everything or everyone because, as we talked about before, there’s so much more going on in our lives now than there used to be. I can’t remember everything from the last decade of my life, let alone everything and everyone that happened in the world. And I think that’s OK. It just puts more pressure on us in our already crazy lives to try to remember it all.

So given that, how do we review the past decade of our world and our lives? I think we just review what and who we do remember because that’s what has stuck with us. In taking time to think about the ways we’ve grown, the people who are and aren’t part of our lives, the mistakes we’ve made, lessons we’ve learned, ways we’ve helped, the fears we’ve faced and conquered, and the milestones we’ve reached, we give ourselves the opportunity to choose to build on those experiences and people, or fully let them go with the decade as it ends. And if you can’t remember anything, well, maybe your goal this coming decade is to live a more memorable life.

What are your thoughts on the decade that is ending?