Olympic Lessons

As the Olympics finish up this weekend I thought we’d take some time to look at some of the lessons we can learn from this big event to apply to our businesses.

1-Competitors can work together.  Normally there’s talk about how different sports compete for TV/air time, sometimes even competition within a sport over games that are played at the same time.  But the Olympics shows that not only can different sports work together to create something great, they can share the glory too.  A great opportunity for many business owners is to get involved in their local area with other businesses, regardless of whether they have a physical location or not.

2-Good things don’t have to last forever.  The summer Olympics only come around every 4 years and are only talked about occasionally during the in-between years. Yes, you can celebrate your medal status at any time, but most people and companies aren’t talking constantly about the Olympics.  If you’re focus is going viral and staying viral you are probably aiming too big.  That doesn’t mean you don’t market your business or service, it just means that you can’t expect to be king/queen all the time.

3-Everyone has a story.  The news loves to talk about all the different athletes and the story behind their previous medals as well as their journey to the Olympics and what they may have worked to overcome.  Are you telling your story in your business? Do people know you have a story?  Or are you just pushing the services you offer and focused on your bottom line? What about the story of your customers?  Are you even aware of the stories that are their lives?

4-There will be imperfections.  With every Olympics we hear stories of poor conditions, buildings not being ready, failed technology or challenges to travel, not to mention the weather issues that may happen that the host location has no control over.  Focusing on perfection usually just leads to frustration, so instead work on doing the best you can and address the issues when they appear as soon as possible.

What have you learned from the Olympics that you’re applying to your business?

Productive Inspiration

Last Wednesday I shared some thoughts on how you can have a more productive summer in your business.  Sometimes in order to be productive we need some inspiration to get us going.  Here are some quotes that might inspire you to success this summer.

“I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.” Frank Lloyd Wright

“A professional is one who does his best work when he feels the least like working. Frank Lloyd Wright

“I don’t work at being ordinary.” Paul McCartney

“Think globally, act locally.” Paul McCartney

“If you want success, figure out the price, then pay it. It sounds trivial and obvious, but if you unpack the idea it has extraordinary power.”  Scott Adams

“The ability to work hard and make sacrifices comes naturally to those who know exactly what they want.” Scott Adams

“When things go bad, it’s easy to point fingers. People who attempt to switch the blame are afraid to fail. We’ve all been afraid to fail before a game, but it shouldn’t stop us from continuing, and from doing what we have to do to get the job done.”  John Elway

What words of wisdom have you heard lately that inspired you?

Joy in Seasons

Can you believe another month is almost over?  Today is our last post really looking at our topic of the month: seasons.  What I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is the joy that can be found in each and every season.  I know, you’re mentally complaining about at least one season in your head right now, like how much snow there is in winter, how much rain there is in spring/the rainy season, how hot summer/the dry season is, how cold fall gets and miserable it is to watch the leaves fall off the trees etc.  You don’t have to like every season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find some joy in each of them.  For example,  I don’t like snow but still find joy in watching kids go sledding, or sitting in a comfy chair watching the snow fall with a cup of hot tea and a good book.

Like so many things, the seasons are really what you make of them.  Last Wednesday I talked about what to do if your business is heading into a slow season for the summer.  Just because you may not be making many sales, it doesn’t mean there is nothing you can, could or should be doing during this time.  Just because it’s raining out today doesn’t mean that you have to do nothing because your outside plans were cancelled.   Just because you have a broken arm or leg doesn’t mean there’s no summer fun to be had.

I really believe that life is what you make of it a majority of the time. If you are feeling miserable, that’s the life situation you’ll create around you.  If you’re feeling like a winner, that’s the situation you’ll create around you.  If you want to enjoy your least favorite season, I believe you’ll be able to find reasons to do so!  But it only happens when we choose that path.    So what path will you choose this summer? Will you choose to find some reason for joy in each and every day?

A Summer for Relationships

Summer is known as a time for growth. If you just look outside the window it’s likely that you can see some of that growth. You’ll probably also see evidence of it in your supermarket with all the fresh, locally grown produce that becomes available in summer. While we could probably depend on the areas of the world that are warm all year long to supply us with food (or put up lots of greenhouses in areas that are cold), the summer weather means we don’t have to stretch our resources in that way.

Summer is also a great time to grow in our relationships and our families. With the kids being off it gives us the opportunity to take off a couple of days here and there and not have to worry about them catching up with schoolwork or missing out on stuff. Warm nights and the sun staying out later means date nights can get more creative and last longer. All of which means lots of opportunities for us to get closer to the people who matter most in our lives.

But if the opposite is true, that you’re considering or facing a separation this summer, it’s an opportunity to grow and get to know yourself better. While many divorces have reasons why they happen, for example abuse or cheating or drug use, there’s usually another underlying reason that the divorce is happening. It’s the reason of flaws. We all have flaws, but some of us go into a relationship expecting to be able to break the other person or change them. And I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t changed as they got older and therefore aren’t the same person they were when they first married.

So the question then becomes can you work with the person your partner has become, and can they work with the person you have become? If you can’t then it may be time to revisit why you’re married and who you are as a person. Because if they can’t live with you and you can’t live with them and you aren’t willing to bend either way, I can just about guarantee that you’ll both be miserable in the near future, unless your lives are so different and separate and you hardly ever see each other or talk with each other.

Don’t let this be the worst summer of your life, choose to make it the best by working with the people in your life rather than trying to fight them to be right on everything or win in everything.

“The best you can hope for in a relationship is to find someone whose flaws are the sort you don’t mind. It is futile to look for someone who has no flaws, or someone who is capable of significant change; that sort of person exists only in our imaginations.” Scott Adams

Having A Productive Summer

Summer is officially here. I know as business owners it may be tempting to take off, especially if summer isn’t your busy season. If you can take a break you should, but that doesn’t mean you can let your business totally stop for the next few months, there are still things that need to be done, and should be done especially since you’ve got free time that you don’t always have. So if this is your slower season here are some some suggestions to help you get through it and feel good about it.

1-schedule time for work and rest each day if your typical habit is to work daily. Otherwise try to take off an extra day and work the others as usual. Scheduling your work and play time means you’ve set aside time to work, and still can take the break to recharge.

2-make the upgrades, changes and adjustments you’ve been talking about. If you don’t have a list of things, start talking with clients and employees or get an outside perspective on what you could improve.

3-take time to learn. Your knowledge (and that of your team) greatly impacts your success. If you want to be more successful when you get off the summer break, now is the perfect time to read some books, attend some lectures or take some courses or all of the above and educate yourself and a team if you have one.

4-if you have employees give them time off. Lots of people like to take vacations during the summer, and your employees are no exception. But rather than worry about being short for employees, do some creative rescheduling. Choose a day to close the business, or have limited services available. Adjust your open hours to take advantage of those enjoying the late nights and warmer weather. Get inspired by international communities your customers may travel to or be from and opt to close midday for a few hours for a siesta or other break. Partner with other businesses to combine resources and increase success during times that you both may not get as many customers or have as many employees. The options are endless to giving your employees (and yourself) the time off they want this summer, without settling on the traditional “summer Fridays” if that’s not something you want to do.

What will you do in your business this summer?

Exploring the World

Summer is coming up in just about a week, can you believe it?  When I think about summer the first thing that comes to my mind is the outdoors.  The second, of course is the end of school for the year.  I can remember what a relief it was to be done and on break for a couple of months and able to enjoy myself again.  I didn’t hate school and I wasn’t bad at it, I just preferred not learning my lessons in classrooms while filling in workbooks.  There are so many ways to learn and not everyone learns the same way.   One of the best ways to learn I think is to get out in the world and see it and/or experience it.  Thanks to technology we’re able to explore the world even from the comforts of home if we don’t have the finances to physically go to places.

One of the things that captivates me the most when it comes to exploring are the natural wonders around the world.  I’m always tempted to click the links to videos and sites about dogs, penguins, bobcats, and other animals like Explore, and I always get sucked in to checking out the photos on the Weather Channel and other sites of gorgeous natural places and of nature taking over what we man have created.  There’s just something about nature that captivates me.

This summer I encourage you to take time with your kids to get outdoors.  Check out some Rail Trails, visit some National Parks (and not just the famous ones), take a bike ride through a park, or just get outside and sit with a cool drink.  Take time with your kids, with your partner and by yourself to see the natural world that surrounds us on a regular basis and appreciate what we have while we have it.  Summer is synonymous with so many of us taking a break from our usual days and doing something else or just taking time off, and with exploring the world we live in.  Make sure you really take that break this summer and spend some of that time off in nature.  What will you explore this summer?

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” Frank Lloyd Wright

Ready to Relax

I don’t know about you, but my schedule changes over the summer, and I try to move my days off to those that are nice and sunny whenever possible so that I take advantage of all the wonderful fresh air and summer sunshine! I have always made a point of taking time each week to relax and not do work on my computer or meet with clients so that I can have time to regain my perspective and remember that all the work I’m doing is for the goal of being able to enjoy life more. After all, what’s the point of doing all the work if it isn’t to have time to enjoy the fruits of your labor?

I don’t believe that resting and days off are a waste of time. We aren’t machines built to run 365 days a year 24 hours a day (and even machines have down time because of issues, repairs or overheating concerns). We’re humans designed to sleep every night, but sleep is only a small part of the resting and recharging we need, we need showers and food and friendly conversations that have nothing to do with how we make money or how we’re making a difference in the world.

I’ve never felt that taking an afternoon off to enjoy nature or go on a hike, have a picnic, or read a book is a waste of time because I always feel better, more grounded and more productive after I’ve had that quiet time. There’s something special about nature that all too often we don’t take advantage of. So this summer I encourage you to make sure to take time with your family and by yourself to get out there and enjoy what’s all around us. Take a day to go out into the country and see what you don’t usually see when you’re riding the highways to and from work, go to a National Park and see what your taxes are caring for, and get some perspective on how much bigger life is than what you see in your daily journey.

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the blue sky, is by no means waste of time.” John Lubbock

The Success of Summer

Life can be overwhelming at times. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed and you may be too as we get into this new month with school ending and kids being free for the summer. It’s challenging to think about how you’ll keep away the boredom after they’re not occupied in school all day and you probably are dreading hearing their whines, moans and fights. Summer tends to be the time when we all slow down and take a break, which is really important, but as adults we always have lots to keep us occupied, even though studies show that taking a true break or real time off not time-off-to-do-home-projects is important too. We need time off to recharge our batteries and give our brains time to be creative again.

So this summer whether kids or adults, here’s my advice for you: take time off, get stuff done, learn stuff, and have fun each day. Dividing your day into these categories can help to break it up and you’ll feel good when the summer is over too. Let’s take a quick look at each of these 4 aspects.

Taking time off can be done relaxing at the beach or pool side, taking a walk or doing meditation or contemplation, watching TV or a movie is OK too, but not as restful or as good at recharging you as the others.

Getting stuff done is about being productive. You probably can’t take off all summer, even if you are a stay-at-home parent, because there’s always housework to be done. So instead of getting frustrated that you’re still working, keep it in perspective that doing a little each day will keep you in shape for when things pick up again in the fall and you’ll feel good about getting stuff done each day too. For kids this is a great opportunity to clean their rooms and go through their stuff to give some away to charity.

Learning stuff is important whether your 5 or 95, there’s always something else you can learn. Taking at least 30 minutes each day to read an educational book, use an educational site or app, watch an educational program (no, “educational” does not include lifestyles of the rich and famous), or get some practice in on a sport, language or activity you’re learning. Like getting stuff done knowing that you’re going to do it each day, even if it’s only for 30 minutes helps set the precedence to be a life-long learner and keeps you busy too.

Having fun is what comes to mind first for most people when they think of summer. As adults we can get lost in trying to get stuff done, keep our kids happy and keeping up with everything that happiness is a pipe dream for too many. Devote time each day to having fun this summer: go on a weekly date night just you and your partner, do at least one fun activity with the kids each day, go out with friends and their kids, visit new places, explore places you’ve been before, and try to laugh at least daily.

What will you do this summer?

Memories of Summer

Over the past week and a half we’ve talked a lot about memories, and this month we’ve talked about family a lot too. When I think about family there are two things that most often come to mind: holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Halloween, and summer, because that’s when we spend the most time with our families. As we’re approaching another summer and wrapping up this month’s discussion on family I thought we should talk about the value of those memories.

First though let’s address the obvious: not all memories are good. I’ve got some memories of some Christmases with illnesses (it’s no fun spending holidays alone with a bucket), and not all family is awesome. Every family has issues, some more than others, since no one is perfect and everyone has their moments of failure and issues. So if that’s the norm rather than the occasional, you’ve got lots of catching up to do to the rest of us who do have good memories. As we’ve said before, if that’s you make your own family; a family of the heart not the blood.

Memories really are gifts though, with my grandmother sinking into worse Alzheimers and not able to be part of our lives in the way we would like, all that is left are the memories. It helps to remember the special times we had as a family years ago and the special place she had in my life when the days are not so good with her health.

But as much as memories are of the past, they’re also a big part of the future. Those memories have encouraged me to spend more time with family and friends, to talk about the past and to add traditions like baking cookies, hanging stockings, visiting the beach and being there for grandchildren if I ever have any. Memories are what you make of them, what do you make of your memories?

“My first outdoor cooking memories are full of erratic British summers, Dad swearing at a barbecue that he couldn’t put together, and eventually eating charred sausages, feeling brilliant.” Jamie Oliver

Will You Be My Customer?

One of the biggest challenges in business is getting potential customers to say yes. With Valentine’s Day this weekend I thought it was appropriate to talk about things that need to be in place to get people to say yes to the sale.

1-answer all questions. This is one of the big reasons why people don’t buy, they have questions you haven’t answered, concerns you haven’t addressed or aren’t clear on what you’re selling. If you do sell something that you don’t list all the answers to potential questions for in an easily accessible place, make sure that you’re easily and frequently accessible so you can quickly answer their questions before they get cold feet.

2-there’s no spark. In romance a spark is the stuff stories are made of, and business is no different: people want to know that not only are you special and offering something special, they’ll be treated with respect and value too when they become your customer. I would be hard pressed to come up with a business that has no competitors, so showing your spark, your vision, your personality, your leadership and your perspective are essential to standing out and convincing a potential customer you can provide them with what they seek.

3-offer great value. You don’t get engaged to and marry the scary neighborhood tramp just so you can say you’re married, you choose to make that commitment with someone who you feel compliments, supports, helps, improves, grows, enjoys and loves you. A business is no different, people don’t just buy for the sake of spending money, they want value from you.

Which point will you work on this week to increase your conversions?