The Value of a Painting

This week in the art world something very interesting happened: a Da Vinci painting sold for $450 million. That’s just a few dollars, no big deal, I bet you’ve got that under your mattress for a rainy day, right? Not likely. However, as I was marveling over the fact that someone just spent that much money on a poster sized painting, it got me thinking about what it really means for us and our businesses.

In fact, it’s really great news for us. It means that there is money to be spent, people are buying, and people are willing to spend a lot of money. So the next time someone says that you’re not doing well in business because no one is buying anything, think again. That person or people who just bought that painting still need to eat and live somewhere and have clothes and probably watch TV and talk on their phones just like the rest of us. So take a moment to celebrate that and let yourself be relieved that there is money to be earned.

But what you can’t ignore about this incredible purchase is that the reason that someone paid $450 million for a painting is because of the perceived value. Someone has an overwhelming desire to have this painting in their possession. Maybe your tax audits or websites or cups of soup aren’t quite as interesting as a painting by Da Vinci, but you’re not asking $450 million for them. So it becomes a question of have you communicated the value, the interest, the intrigue behind what you’re offering, and have you told anyone about what you’re offering?

Take some time this weekend before Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday start next week Friday and make sure that you’re communicating clearly the value that you bring to the table.

 

Want a second opinion on the things you could do right now to make an impact with the upcoming shopping craze (with people expected to spend 4% more this year than last year)? I’m opening up a few 20 minute power sessions over the next few days to talk with you! You can learn more here.

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The Autumn of Success

As I was out taking a walk the other day I was once again taken in by the wide variety of leaves that are part of the world where I live. Each autumn those leaves fall out of the trees and brilliant colors that cover the ground fade within days to dull browns. As you know leaves fall off the trees somewhere between September and December depending on the year and then reappear in or after March.

It reminded me that sometimes we have to give things up in order to get the things we want, or that sometimes we have to let go of the old to make room for the new. If you’re trying to lose weight but keep riding the roller coaster, sometimes the best thing you can do is to give up those old clothes. Don’t even give yourself the opportunity to get back into them. If you’ve been struggling with your employees but really want your company to succeed, you either need to fix the situation with the employees you’ve got or hire new employees. As I talked about last Wednesday though, don’t fall into the trap of fixing the wrong issue, in other words the issue may not be the employees but rather you or how the company is run.

But as with the leaves, they don’t just reappear on the trees immediately, there’s a rest period. If you know anything about farming you know that farmers rest portions of their fields each year because the soil needs to be rejuvenated. The nutrients of the soil aren’t just there, and if the soil isn’t given the necessary rest it won’t perform to the best standards. The same is true for our lives, sometimes you have to take time to rejuvenate for the next step in your success journey to really be successful.

This week I do encourage you to make strong steps forward on your success journey, but don’t do it at the expense of a complete flame out or if you’re not really convinced with what you’re doing. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have an escape hatch or backup plan, just that you should be working forward, not waiting for the floor to fall out from under you.

Set for Relationship Success

Today we’re talking about relationship success. While there are always factors that can’t be anticipated, and people do change, I believe that there are some things you can do to help your relationship be more successful than most. Here are 6 things you should consider to give your relationship a good chance at success.

Attention: does your partner get your undivided attention at least once every day or are you frequently doing more than one thing at a time while talking or being with them?

Actions: how do you behave towards them? What do the actions you take on their behalf, towards them or because of them say about you and your relationship with them?

Attitude: do you dismiss them and their feelings? Have you grown to resent them or their place in your life? Do you treat them as a burden or distraction?

Care: do you show them how you feel about them and how important they are to you? Do you make a point of doing special things for them? Do you sometimes put their needs ahead of your own?

Communication: how often do you two talk? Do you share the things that go on in your day and listen to them share about their day? Do you take minutes here and there to just text them that you love them?

Consistency: relationships aren’t made or broken in one day or one event, are you consistnetly showing your partner that you are their partner, or consistently showing them you’re not invested in the relationship?

I encourage you to take time to consider your relationship this week and take the necessary steps to evaluate and improve your relationship so that it’s fulfilling for both you and your partner and has the best chance at lasting success.

What’s The Real Issue?

A friend of mine is moving and therefore leaving the company they’ve worked at for many years.  They’re a hard worker and have many years of experience in their field and since they started hinting about their departure a year or so ago the company has tried to replace them with varying measures of success and failure (mostly failure).  So we were discussing why it’s so hard for the company to replace them.  Of course my friend is top-notch in their field, but there’s a lot more to the story than this individual being great.  And our conversation got me thinking about why we don’t succeed at some things, or why some things don’t work out as we would expect.

Someone could say ‘I’m not getting anywhere with my Facebook page’, and you could look at the page, see the page is updated maybe every 2 months and then only with a sales pitch and come to a reasonable conclusion that one reason they’re not successful is they’re not posting consistently. Someone could say ‘I’m not selling anything’ and you take a look at their business and see that they haven’t done any marketing beyond establishing their physical and online stores, and come to a reasonable conclusion that one reason they’re not selling is because they’re not marketing. In another case someone could say “I’m not getting any sales” and you look at their products and see that there’s nothing unique about the products, come to a reasonable conclusion that one reason they’re not getting sales is because their products aren’t unique.

Now, we could go back to the same 3 examples and probably find other reasons why they’re not successful in those areas, but what it comes down to is the fact that the issue isn’t really the issue. Yes, not getting anywhere with Facebook or not making any sales are issues, but what they really point to is a bigger issue that needs to be addressed first. Until that larger issue is addressed the smaller issue won’t be able to be completely resolved. Sure, you can make some headway by doing paid FB ads, adding more stores online and offline, or adding more products respectively, but that’s really not addressing the issue that needs to be addressed.

To follow through on our examples, my friends’ company doesn’t need someone who can technically do their job, they need someone who’s a leader and able to help the employees they’re responsible for be more successful in their jobs, and/or hire new employees who are qualified for and have the attitude for success.  In the case of the Facebook page example unless the business really uses all of FB’s aspects along with a solid content strategy they won’t get anywhere.  In the case of the business not selling anything but having physical and online stores, you can have the best products or services in the world but if you don’t market them, you can’t sell them.  In the case of the generic products, yes, there will always be a need for generic products, but why be generic if you can bring something unique to the marketplace?

Today I would encourage you to sit down and take a look at the things that have presented as issues or you’re concerned about and look a bit deeper into them and see if you’re missing the real issue.

Start Smart for Success

I was talking recently with a client about the business review we had just done and she said how she thought she was really on top of things before the review and now realizes how much more she could/should be doing, which got me thinking about success. Success isn’t usually something you achieve and are done, it’s something that’s often a very long and winding journey that often takes a long time and you reach victories in stages. That may sound frustrating, but there’s a simple truth that I told my client that I think makes all the difference: where you start.

If you’re starting with a good product, a good service, the right intentions, a good group of people, or a good love, in other words a solid foundation, you can go anywhere with it! If you start with something that’s junk and you add bells, whistles, wrappings and trappings to it to try and make it look like something it’s not (something better than it is), you won’t get very far for very long.  People are better than ever at picking out the duds, more vocal about their dissatisfaction, and quicker to leave a bad situation than ever before.

So if you’re feeling frustrated by, tired of, or missing something in your life, business, relationship or work this week, I’d encourage you to see if you can take a few steps back and find where it started. Did it start with something good, did it start with something you put up with, did you jump in before really considering things, or did you know it wasn’t great from the beginning but hoped it would get better? And if you’re thinking of starting something this week, start with the right foundation so that you’ll achieve stronger and more victorious success.

Setting Kids Up For Success

This month one of the things we’re talking about is the topic of success, so today I thought we’d talk about setting our kids, and the kids of the world, up for success. As the adults of the world we can either help the next generation or hurt it, and I’d rather them have a better world than the one we live in than worse. Let’s look at 3 things that can help set kids up for success.

Set a good example. The first way you can set your kids up for success is by setting a good example and being on top of your own responsibilities. Having a messy house, not trying to get a job when things are tight, not having healthy practices for yourself, not managing your finances well, and having terrible relationships and interactions with others aren’t the things you want to teach your kids. They learn by what they see and hear from the adults around them (and often imitate it), just like we learn from the people we listen to and what we see them doing.

Let them learn. Sometimes the only way they can get to success is to do it themselves or with very little guidance from you. Sometimes what they need is to give it a try (or a dozen tries) until they get better at math or baseball or skating or painting, or whatever they’re interested in or struggling with that’s essential for them to know. Encourage them to get out and do stuff with friends, try new foods and go new places, expose them to different parts of the world in whatever way you can (books, TV, the internet, vacations), and give them choices so that they have to learn to make decisions.

Teach them to contribute. I’ve been seeing the commercial again about the kid who flies paper airplane messages over the neighbor’s tall wood fence thinking they’ll get to his dad who is overseas. The neighbor decides to contribute and sends them off to the dad, who sends back a box of his own airplane messages and the neighbor flies them back over to the boy. No, the neighbor didn’t have to get involved, but he knew that he could play a positive role in keeping the boy’s relationship with his dad alive while they’re separated. You can teach your kids to contribute too by having them donate some of their old toys or clothes to needy kids, or packing a care box for a service person overseas.

So how will you set your kids up for success?

What Don’t You Know About Success?

This month one of the things we’ll be talking about is the topic of success. Last week we talked about taking time to explore your business because as we run our businesses there are lots of things that we can miss going on in our business as we work hard to support our customers, as well as how the business world is evolving and changing. Part of success is being able to work with and through changes. Change is something we all face, whether we want to or not, and while some things are timeless, there are many things that are not.

Today I wanted to share a little insight that I heard this past week. Success isn’t just about what you know, but it’s about being courageous enough to admit what you don’t know and find the answers and/or ask for help. Success can be a one-time thing (one hit wonder), but very few people are satisfied with a one-time success. I don’t think we should be satisfied with the one success we’ve had or even with the past successes we’ve had. True success is a journey, and very few people, if any, know the full journey before they start out.

While there are some prodigies in the business world, most people start someplace with some knowledge or skill and go from there. That means that there’s probably a whole lot they don’t know, and there’s nothing wrong with that! In fact, some of your greatest successes, or victories, can come from figuring out what you don’t know, or what’s wrong and gaining the knowledge you need or fixing the issue. So this month I encourage you to throw aside the idea of perfect success, and instead work on success steps. If you keep moving forward from success to success, from improvement to improvement, you’ll grow your business and help more people too.

So let’s be honest: what don’t you know, or what are you struggling with? I encourage you to post your question in the comments section below.

Facing Your Fears for Victory

Have you visited a haunted attraction before, whether one of those “authentic ghost tours” or a Halloween transformation of a roller coaster or related park? Maybe you went on a dare from a friend or because all of your friends were going, and maybe you even convinced yourself to work one, and on the small chance you haven’t been to one or been part of one, you’ve probably seen some of them on TV. Maybe you ended up enjoying it, but maybe you went through the attraction just because you didn’t want to look like a wimp or to prove to yourself you could do it.

Sometimes we have to be willing to take on our fears or do things that we really don’t think we want to do. Sometimes it’s about proving to ourselves that we’ve got the courage, or to get over a fear, or because we really care about or want to support the person who asked us along. Sometimes though, it’s just about having fun and seeing the creativity that other people come up with.

The same is true for victories, sometimes we have to go through the tough stuff to get to the good stuff. Sometimes we have to do things we’re not necessarily so interested in to get to success. Sometimes we have to kiss a few frogs before we find the prince. Of course we all wish we could skip the issues and just get to the victory, but in many cases, then the victory wouldn’t really seem like one. Of course you can shorten the hills you have to climb by hiring other people to do the less awesome stuff or to help guide you, and you can learn from other people’s mistakes and not do what they did.

So this week I would encourage you to take on something you’ve been avoiding or afraid of doing, or have that conversation you’ve been skipping, in the spirit of Halloween and facing your fears.

Are Parents the Problem?

I was talking recently with a nanny who comes from a family of many children and currently manages a family with 4 children. We got to talking about her experiences and her challenges, and she said something you may have heard before: the kids are a product of their parents. You may have heard something along those lines before, but probably not in the way that she means. For her, as a nanny when considering new families she always takes into greater consideration how the parents are than how the kids are, because she knows that the real issues and challenges (or fantastic experience) will come from the parents, not the kids. Yes, of course it’s challenging to work with kids who are unruly and throw tantrums and aren’t polite. But they often are that way because their parents have allowed them to be up to this point. That doesn’t really mean that the parents have failed, just that they really need to step up and take responsibility, or give responsibility to someone else (and not take over or micromanage).

Initially it’s not easy for the parents or kids, but over time kids do learn to interact differently with different people and in different situations. If you think about two classic examples, school and church, kids act much different at school and church than they do at home. At school you’re expected to use your brain, listen to adults and not be a bully and at church you’re expected to be quiet as a mouse and be on your extra best behavior (even at church picnics and fun events). However at home so many of the “rules” go out the window. In some ways it’s necessary to let go of some rules and give kids time to be kids, but the leadership from parents and respect for adults needs to stay in place at all times, and it can be difficult to be a leader and be respected when they’ve seen you down on your knees making train sounds during play with them.

So how do you get from being an unruly household to one that’s got usually well-behaved kids? Start with love, affection and attention. These three are super important because they show your kids that you do indeed care about them and want them to be part of your life. Follow that up by setting a good example, for example: if they see you disrespecting others (including themselves) when they’re talking by being on your phone, they’ll get the idea that it’s OK to ignore others too. Setting boundaries and time limits consistently can also help because you say that you need 5 minutes to do stuff and then they can have you for a game or to do something (or that you can play for x amount of time but at a specific time you need to go do your thing). Finally, don’t be afraid to screw up and make changes. What you teach them as you work through your mistakes can be as valuable as not making them in the first place. Employing a give-it-a-try attitude can make a big difference in how they approach problems and relationships of all kinds.

If you’re struggling as a parent, this week I would encourage you to make one small change in your relationship with your kids and that would be to love more, be more affectionate and give them your full attention. I’m not asking you to implement any real rules or make any big changes, just be more present for them and with them. What difference will a little love make in your life and theirs?

Let’s Explore Your Business

This month one of the topics we’re talking about is exploring. If you’ve been in business for several years it may seem like exploring isn’t something you should be doing, you should already have all the answers, right? Wrong. If you’ve been around for several years there’s a good possibility that your customer’s needs or wants have changed or at least varied and a strong probability that the marketing tools and practices have changed or at the very least updated since you started.

Exploring isn’t just for those getting started, it’s for everyone who runs a business. When was the last time your products or services were reviewed to see if they’re being made in the most cost effective, earth-friendly, customer-requested ways, let alone if you’re offering something people still really want? Do you really know your customers? Get to know your customers, explore their interests, wants, and needs, both those related to your company and offerings, and those in their personal lives. Know your customers not so you can be intrusive or overwhelming, but so that you can do your best to serve them. What about the wants and needs of your employees? Do you really know your people and do they really know you and your passion for your business? What about your suppliers? Are they providing the quality product you desire and your customers pay for? Is there a better supplier out there that lines up more with your company culture and needs?

Take time this week to explore your business a bit. Take a look at anything that you say “the way things have always been” regarding and see if it’s time for an update. Most businesses I connect with have something good to work with, but have some rough edges, have lost their way a bit, or are just a bit out of touch with things that would help them grow and move forward to better serve their customers and support their employees and community. So you may not need to do a complete overhaul, maybe that just means some tweaks here and there, so that you’re in 2017 and not several years earlier, or even better, ready for 2018. And it may turn out that exploring your business will help relight the fire you had for it if it’s burned out or gone low, too. Have you explored your business lately?