The Drive of Success

This month one of the big stories in the US has been about the lottery. Two jackpots were extremely large numbers, in the hundreds of millions and above, and it took a good couple of draws before anyone won the big pots. Friends and I have talked about how unbelievable it was that no one won until someone did, and that the pots could get as large as they did. Someone said that maybe it got that large because it is as random a draw as they say it is.

So each time that no one won people bought another ticket, and with the pots as large as they were people who don’t usually play were buying tickets too. I know that the likelihood of winning is extremely low (almost impossible), but the fact is someone has to win at some point in time, and people eventually did. Although it’s not the best thing to do with your money I thought there were some interesting lessons that could be learned and applied to our success from the lottery craze these past few weeks.

These two most recent pots both showed the importance and value of perseverance. Lottery in general means you buy a ticket for the upcoming draw and that ticket is only good for that specific draw, not all future ones or any in the past. Also true is the fact that if you don’t buy a ticket you can’t win. If you want to win sometimes the only way to do so is to try, and keep trying.

The other thing these large pots speak to is hope.  People don’t work for success unless they’ve got something they’re looking forward to as a result of that success.  Maybe it’s more time with family, a better life, or making a difference, but people don’t apply themselves to something that they don’t have even a sliver of a belief that it could come true.

You may not have won the lottery this past month, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have success in your life.  Success is something that almost anyone can achieve, especially those who believe in themselves, put their minds to it, and make the effort.  What is driving your success?

Halloween Lessons

Halloween is Wednesday so today I thought I’d share a few thoughts on lessons you can share with your kids for Halloween, and you might find they apply to you too.

Tricks: sometimes life sends you tricks. Yes, sometimes you can choose if you want the trick or the treat, but often you don’t get a choice, life chooses for you.  It’s really a question of how well you’re going to deal with the trick you’ve received, the attitude you’ll work through it with and what you’ll do after you’ve survived.

And Treats: Halloween is a bit of a catch for those who watch their sugar, because it’s really a celebration of treats and sweets. It’s a reminder that sometimes life is short and treats should be eaten and enjoyed, especially in moderation.

Costumes: the other big thing about Halloween is everyone dresses up. Yes, sometimes its good to try new things and see if they could be the right direction for us, after all, if we don’t try new things we can’t know if they would be right for us. Sometimes it’s just fun to be someone else for a little while, even though we’re satisfied with our lives.

Community: the whole concept is based around going from house to house around your neighborhood, and expecting those homes to open up and share candy or other treats. It’s not something we do with any other holiday, only Halloween.

What has Halloween taught you?

The Business of Halloween

Halloween is on Wednesday, it’s the day that kids dress up in fun costumes and visit around their neighborhoods to gather candy and other treats.  Celebrating or recognizing Halloween in your business can be a way to welcome or begin the 2018 holiday season and get things started with a bang, or it can just be a way to have some fun and more personally connect with your customers.  So today I’ve got a couple of ideas for how you can incorporate Halloween into your business.

Your marketing: One fun thing you could do would be a play on the “trick-or-treat” fun and offer a trick or a treat in your newsletter.  You can also ask customers to share or submit their Halloween photos and do a photo contest of pumpkin carving, costumes, lights or other topics on a specific theme that relates to your business.

Limited time offerings: Holidays typically are associated with special treats and Halloween is associated with candy and other sweet treats and pumpkin too, so businesses in the food industry can incorporate popular candies or pumpkin into their offerings for the weeks/days surrounding Halloween.  Clothing businesses can incorporate costumes into their lineup for the season and also offer ideas for how customers can incorporate their clothing into costumes or Halloween party attire.  Travel agencies can share a list of haunted locations and/or Halloween activities near their customers and/or sell tickets/arrange trips incorporating those locations and activities. And of course home decor businesses can include some traditional pumpkins as well as some more magical or mystical decorations and decoration ideas to help their customers have the spookiest house in the neighborhood.

Of course, don’t forget that if you’ve got a local store you can encourage customers to come in if you’re offering a special treat on Halloween (i.e. candy) or special coupon for a future date if they shop with you on Halloween.  Will you be sharing the Halloween spirit in your business, and if so, how?

Grand Slam Success Secrets

Today begins one of the biggest events in baseball each year, the World Series.  It’s an event that’s happened since 1903 and this year it’s between the Dodgers and the Red Sox.  Baseball has fascinated and attracted sports fans and even those who aren’t sports fans for over a century, from little leagues to the World Series and several rivalries that raise lots of attention and conversation.  Today I thought we’d talk a little about some of the success insights we can learn from this big event.

It’s a competition of up to 7 games, or whomever gets 4 wins first.  I like that there’s not a one-and-done requirement, that one game decides the ultimate winner of the 162 games teams play each year.  Some years the team that wins sweeps the series, other times they play all 7 games and it’s neck-and-neck the whole time.  Life is like this; it’s rare that we’re only allowed or given one try to get it right.  So if you’re dealing with a failure don’t give up yet, move on to the next chance.

There’s a chance that any one of the 15 National League and any one of the 15 American League teams might end up there.  There’s no rule that a team has to be there, or any rule that says a team can’t be there again.  It’s totally up to each team to have the best players and play their best if they want to get into the World Series.  It’s also up to each of us to determine our future and do what we need to do to be successful.

Teams play the games but they’re made of individual players who each bring their skills and talents to the field.  There’s always a MVP and there are always standout players on a team, but each team is exactly that: a team.  There can’t be just one or two players on a team, it wouldn’t be physically possible for them to do all of the work themselves.  So the next time you find yourself trying to do everything, don’t be ashamed to reach out and ask for help.

More than just the team though, baseball is made up of hundreds of thousands of fans who cheer the teams on.  Baseball wouldn’t be what it was without all the fans who watch/attend the games, buy the gear and talk with their friends, family and even strangers about the games.  We celebrate our team’s wins and encourage them and cheer them on even when they lose.  Everyone needs a cheering section, to celebrate their wins and encourage them through their struggles.

So what about you? What have you learned from baseball?

A Visit to the Library

I did something this week that I haven’t done in a while: took my work to the library. I had a couple of appointments in an area and decide that it would be more productive if I didn’t run home in between the appointments so I brought some work with me and decided I would work at the library in between appointments and errands. As I worked I watched the comings and goings of people of all ages. I watched parents and kids get excited about the books they could check out, heard librarians helping visitors find books and movies, and listened to the librarians make plans for how they could better organize their collection of materials to better serve their community.

It all reminded me how important something like a library is to the local community. It’s a place where people of all ages are and can learn from each other. It’s a place where you can work and learn. It’s a place where kids who don’t have grandparents can see seniors and learn that they’re not scary. It’s a place where kids can have instilled in them an appetite for learning, knowledge, curiosity, creativity and growth. It’s a place where teens can come with their friends and learn how to respect others while still hanging out with their friends. It’s a place where groups can come together to learn about different crafts or historical events or hear from local authors. It’s a safe, warm, dry place to go when you need a break from your life.

If you haven’t been to the library recently I encourage you to go visit and bring the kids along as well. You can save a lot of money on movies and books for them (and yourself) and keep them entertained for hours. If you can make a donation of books that your kids don’t read anymore or have outgrown or make a donation to their Friends of the Library fund (it’s tax deductible!).  What do you love most about your local library?

A Focus on Growth and Success

This month we started off talking about the focus of a business: the customer. Today I want to talk about a couple of other things we should focus on as a business to succeed in 2018 and beyond.

Focus on clear communications. There are tons of ways you can get really confusing with the words you use, and sometimes it feels like businesses intentionally choose to be confusing with their communications just so customers can’t truly understand what they’re agreeing to. Yes, occasionally there are some terms that need to be used because they are the legal words that have to be said. But more often than not businesses use words that are industry specific or for those with in-depth experience and knowledge. If we want customers to buy from us why wouldn’t we make it easy to understand what they’re getting into? Some businesses do, even going so far as to include those simplified explanations as part of their marketing.

Focus on being fun! While it’s not always fun to buy some of the things we have to buy (i.e. diapers, printer ink, shower curtains, business cleaners), that doesn’t mean that you can’t create a healthy, upbeat environment for your employees and customers. One great example is the Girl Scouts, who could have chosen to sell anything but choose to sell cookies, and do so with a cheery demeanor and cute outfits. It’s really hard to resist their plea for you to buy just a box of their tasty cookies (they freeze after all!). Not sure how you can have some fun in your very not-fun business? Just add a little holiday magic for the 5-10 holidays throughout the year to your storefront and online presence.

Focus on continually innovating. We’ve seen a lot of upheaval in lots of industries over the past few years so it’s more important than ever to be refreshing your offerings, trying new things, and talking with your (best) customers about their pain points and needs. Having a focus on innovating means that your customers and employees won’t get bored, your employees will be able to see the progress you’re making in your industry, and you’ll be able to stay competitive in the rapidly changing business world.

Ultimately it’s about being focused on bringing the best and brightest business you can to the world.  What are you focused on today?

The Choice of Your Steps

Each week, each day, we make thousands of choices in our lives. Our life is like one of those “choose your own adventure” books in which the choice you make determines what happens next. One thing may not ruin the ending, or bring us closer to success, but each choice we make does have an impact on our lives. If you make a really wrong choice you’ll end up on countless evening news stations as the talk of the day (or those crazy afternoon shows if you really mess up). But if you make a really good choice you’ll find doors opening for you and relationship possibilities you never thought could happen.

Victories in the truest sense are only accomplished when all parties win. This means we have to learn how to work together rather than fight, and do our best not to hurt others , and work hard to not hurt others to the point that they would seek justice. It only ends up setting all of our victories back further.

Why? Because as Mahatma Gandhi said: “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” If you’re so focused on getting justice for how you perceive you were wronged you’ll only bring to pass what Gandhi predicts: the whole world will end up in turmoil trying to get their wrongs played out on those that hurt them. This isn’t how we accomplish victories though. A punishment will never truly right a wrong, but it’s what we think is our best option for serving justice, and has been for centuries.

With every choice, action, or lack thereof making an impact on your future you would think more of us would do the right thing more often. It can get frustrating that we don’t see the progress, but one day we’ll realize exactly how far we’ve come and how many pages we’ve turned and we’ll either be thrilled or mad. If you were to turn the page and find that tomorrow morning your story ended, how would you feel? Choose to make this a week that gets you even a little closer to your goals.

Planning for Disaster

This past week another hurricane hit the US and caused a lot of devastation across many states. I hate that people are going through this again and that more people are facing the monumental task of recovery. I haven’t been in anything nearly as severe as the recent hurricanes and it took quite a while for me to wrap my head around all the destruction, it just didn’t seem real! One day things were there and the next things were completely different. Places I went were flooded out and never reopened, families sold their houses and moved, and just about everyone lost their refrigerated or frozen food (this was before generators were really owned by tons of people).

One statement that you hear when these things happen I heard again in response to this most recent hurricane: “it’s just stuff.” While I agree with that statement, and things can be replaced, the loss can’t be denied. Kids won’t have the mementos, photos or history that get destroyed by these storms, often things that can’t be easily put into a car because they’re too large and not food, water, clothing, pets or people, to share with their kids. While kids are resilient and sometimes better able to deal with change than we adults are, the loss of things that mean a lot to them, the things that are “normal” to them can be a devastating blow, one that they’ll be sad about for possibly the rest of their lives.

So what’s the answer? Consider investing in waterproof, sturdy boxes (military or survivalist types) that can store some of these valuables if you can’t take them with you if you need to move to safety. Make sure to label them with your information on the exterior and interior so that they can be returned to you should they float away. Also take photos of all of your valuables so that at least you’ve got the picture to look at. Make sure that all of your pictures are either uploaded to the cloud and/or on a device or devices that are stored at all times in those waterproof boxes. Take time to record the stories that go along with each item or photo so that your kids are never without the stories, because those can be as treasured as the items. Also, with the increasing frequency that storms like these have been happening, it’s a good idea to consider where you live or are moving to and how vulnerable it may be to things like flooding and tree damage, as well as have really good insurance (money can’t replace the past but it can recover some of the items from your present).

And above all make sure that you take time to be with the people you love and make happy memories together so that even if a natural disaster does happen you all have lots of good memories to hold onto.  How will you prepare for your future today?

Preparing for Changes in Business

This week one of the big conversations in the business world has been the revelation that Google+ had “a security hole highlighted the challenge of keeping its small number of users safe” which was discovered back in March. As a result of the security issue, and possibly also as well the fact that it wasn’t ever as popular as other social networks, Google plans to close the network. For some it isn’t a big surprise, and some probably don’t really remember anything about Google+, let alone used it.

But today I don’t want to discuss social networks that aren’t used or the fact that many aren’t surprised it’s closing, I want to talk about something else that we’ve talked about already this year and will talk about more over the next few years and that’s dealing with big changes that affect your business. For some Google+ was just another marketing opportunity, but some had invested quite a bit in it and are really upset that it’s closing. Other businesses are seriously being affected by disruptive businesses who are coming in and upending an industry, one of the most discussed examples being the ride-share companies (i.e. Uber, Lyft etc.) totally changing how the industry (taxis) has historically run. What do you do when things end or change?

This is why you have to be consistently updating your own business, aware of and considering ways you can innovate or transform what you offer, and not rely on one product or service or marketing tool. I don’t recommend trying every option or implementing every innovation or trying to market through every resource, but I strongly advise against only being locked into one option. Yes, there are companies who will survive through the end or change, for instance there are still some companies that sell records and record players (1880’s-1980’s were their prime years), but those companies are few and far between because there’s just not enough demand to sustain many companies.

What can you do to prepare your company for the eventual transformation of your industry and how you do business?

Focused on Me

Over the past week I’ve been seeing a recurring theme and conversation topic, that of being focused on yourself. This focus isn’t about being selfish or about being ignorant of the needs and lives of others, but of choosing to put yourself first. Putting yourself first means that you’re committed to caring for yourself so that you can better care for others. But it’s also about making sure that you’ve got enough for you, that you’re satisfied with your life, that your life and relationships fulfill you, and that you’ve got a career or job that supports you and your future.

I know it can be hard to focus on yourself when there are so many other demands on you, especially if you’re the boss of a new company or parent of a new baby or parent of a special needs child, but even if you pick just one thing that you do for yourself each day you’ll feel more in control and better able to handle all the other things going on in your life.

If you do have more flexibility and more ability to give yourself time but seem to run out of time for yourself and the things you’re interested in doing or need, start by scheduling in yourself to your calendar. Schedule in 10-60 minutes each day that is just for you, whether that’s time you exercise, read a book, meditate, learn a new skill, take a bath, do a puzzle, create a craft, clean and organize the house, or whatever it is that would make you feel better or more fulfilled or less frustrated, or just make you happy. What do you need to make time for in your personal life?