Do You Need a Summer Time Goal Reboot?

How on earth did it get to be June? Wasn’t it only yesterday we were ringing in the New Year and setting our goals for 2018? The first day of summer is almost here. This might be a good time to take a look at your goals to see how you’re doing. Do a mid-year goal check-in and decide if you might need a reboot.

Whether you set personal goals, professional goals, or both, it’s good to evaluate if you’re on track to reach whatever deadline you set. This year, I set quite a few goals to accomplish. Some have already been accomplished. Hurray!  However, quite a few are nowhere near being on track. Darn!  Which is why, I am implementing a plan of… Stop, Drop, and Roll.

Stop, Drop, and Roll was a fire safety technique I learned back in Canada when I was a kid. It was the safety precaution that was drilled into us, so we would know  what to do if our clothes ever caught on fire. It was a proactive measure to “learn not to burn.”  Even after fifty years – I still remember that lesson. I figured this was a great metaphor to prevent getting “burned” by elusive goals.  Ready to Stop, Drop and Roll? Lets get started.

 

STOP

Mid-year is a great time to stop what you’re doing and reflect. Have you made the progress you were hoping to accomplish? Are you just a little off track? Or, are you totally derailed?

Taking the time to reflect lets you evaluate what might be keeping you stuck. When we stop and look at where we currently are, we can better figure out what’s holding us back. What are our roadblocks? Is the goal too big? Did we break it down into enough actionable tasks? Do we need a better plan?

During this period of reflection, it’s a good idea to think of ways you can tweak your goal or change the process, so you can get where you want to be. Zoom out and look at the big picture. Think about where you are now and where you want to go. Once you have that vision, think about everything that has to happen between the two points.

If you evaluate your progress and you realize that you’re not getting closer to your goals, you need to re-adjust your approach. Reaching our goals is kind of like flying an airplane. If the pilot doesn’t know where they are and where they want to go, they will never reach the final destination.

 

DROP

Sometimes we may find that the goal we set for ourselves no longer matters. We are constantly changing and so is our business. Think about why you created the goal in the first place. Maybe what was important to you in January is no longer important to you in June?  It’s perfectly fine to change your mind.

If your goal no longer resonants for you, it’s okay to drop it and take it off your list. After all, the only goals that really matter… are the goals that really matter.  When we set goals it’s almost a given that we are going to encounter setbacks and failures. When we meet resistance it’s normal to feel like giving up. If you have a really strong reason to keep pushing through, because the final outcome really matters, you will find a way to persevere. On the same token, if don’t have a big enough WHY you won’t have the motivation to stay the course.

 

ROLL

If you decide that your goal still matters and you want to make better progress, you need to roll away any roadblocks you’re encountering. Most often our biggest hinderance to achieving our goals is “us”. We can be our own worst enemies with the stories we tell ourselves.

Have you ever battled with some of these thoughts?  “If only…” or “I’m never…”  or “Why do I always…” When this kind of “stinkin-thinkin” gets planted in our head it can grow like a weed. Negative thoughts dis-empower us and stop us from taking action.

For anyone that has ever gardened, you know that weeds have a nasty habit of choking the flowers. If weeds are left to grow they can eventually take over the whole flower bed. Unfortunately, getting rid of those weeds is a lot of work. You can’t just rip off the tops because they’ll grow right back. Instead, you have to pull those weeds out by their roots. This is a great mirror of what happens to us when we allow negative thoughts to take root. Negative thoughts effect our beliefs, which in turn effects our actions, which in turn effects our results.

 

In conclusion, our goals must have meaning and purpose. To achieve our goals requires continual reflection and analysis.  We must be mindful of how our thoughts, beliefs, and actions impact our results. I hope you will join me in doing a Summertime Goal Reboot.

Yesterday was my birthday. I decided it was the perfect time to Stop, Drop, and Roll. I am happy to announce that some of my 2018 goals have been dropped from my list. By doing that, I was able to add new goals that better resonate for me. The final result is that I now feel more energized in my personal and professional life.

Before you head off for your summer vacation, take this opportunity for a mid-year check-in to determine if you need to reboot your 2018 goals.

 

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Are You Really Helping Your Customers?

My husband and I are in the process of selling our house. Since this is the first house we’ve ever owned, we’re what you call “First-time sellers.” If we’d known just how much work it takes to ready your house for market, we’d never have bought a house in the first place. Buyer beware.

We are currently working with a realtor that I’ve known for years through business connections. We tried to be right upfront with him and explained this was our first home, so we are real estate newbies. Unfortunately, I don’t think he understands how overwhelmed we are feeling. While he may eat, sleep, and drink, the home selling process – we are completely clueless.

First-time sellers do not understand the process of staging: whereby the nicest objects in your home are replaced with fake items – wall clocks that don’t work, ginger pear hand soap for display only, and a fake loaf of bread that sits in the middle of the kitchen counter.

First-time sellers do not know what’s supposed be documented on the seller disclosure form. Do we list every single thing we’ve ever fixed or just the big stuff? Since it didn’t come with any instructions, it took several back and forth emails to complete.

First time sellers do not intuitively know how to use booking appointment apps. We don’t have a clue how a lock-box works and we worry about who will have access to our home 24/7. But most importantly, first-time sellers have no idea how to prepare their home for potential buyers. Lights on. Blinds open. Toilet seats down. All personal items tucked away. Fake loaf of bread in place. It’s all so overwhelming. Throw in the fact that we have two anxious dachshunds, who also have belongings that need to be removed! When As my realtor and stager rattled off a lengthy checklist for me to follow, I quickly grabbed a pen and wrote it all down. Afterwards, I typed it all up and created a room-by-room checklist.

Here’s my thoughts, why wasn’t I provided with any written instructions on how to do any of this? Don’t realtors and stagers already have a checklist on how to ready your house for showings? Why doesn’t my realtor have PDF articles on his website that offer advice on showing a house when you have pets? Why does my realtor not understand the overwhelm a first-time seller feels?

This past week I was helping one of my clients learn how to blog. They are new to using WordPress. She admitted she did not find blogging to be the least bit intuitive. To be honest, once I looked at it through her eyes, I had to agree. While I have been blogging with WordPress for years, I clearly remember when I too was a blogging newbie. When I first began blogging with WordPress I found it so hard to use. I didn’t know how to change the font size, add graphics, or apply categories and tags. I didn’t even know what categories and tags were!

Remembering how overwhelmed I felt when I began using WordPress, I could totally empathize with my client. So, I began thinking outside the box and came up with some strategies that might better help her. I showed her a much simpler way to use WordPress, made a quick training video, and provided some custom cheat sheets. The end result? My client was thrilled and felt confident she could start blogging.

I think it’s important to recognize that while something may be easy for you, it might not be easy for other people. Often, it’s not until you sit down to teach someone something… that we realize how complicated it is. Always try to step back and remember how you felt trying to learn the thing you are now assume someone else should easily understand. Locking into prior experiences from a different perspective allows us to have empathy for other people and find a better way to bridge that gap.

No matter what business you are in, I encourage you to take some time and think about how you’re treating your clients. Are you making unfair assumptions that they should know as much as you? Do you use jargon that might make them feel dumb? Are they asking a series of questions because you failed to anticipate what they needed to know? These are really important points to consider, because you might not realize just how badly your client is feeling. Nobody likes to feel stupid.

Always be on the lookout for keywords that may indicate they’re frustrated. Phrases like: “I don’t have a clue”, “this is new to me”, or “this is not intuitive”, are not a good sign. When clients use these keywords they are communicating they need your help. Your job is to always meet your client where they currently are and help raise them up to where they want to be.

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Business Lessons Learned from “The Crown”

When the Launch4Life team is not busy working, we like to spend some “sister time” together. One thing we love to do is watch Netflix. Right now, we are finishing up the second season of Netlix’s “The Crown.” If you are not familiar with the show, it’s a biographical dramatic series centered on the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom’s current and longest reigning monarch.

While it’s true we love all things British, there are lots of reasons we are enjoying this show. The producers of “The Crown” have done an excellent job of portraying the history and politics that has plagued Queen Elizabeth II’s career as a monarch. After watching an episode this weekend, I was struck with just how many business lessons can be learned from watching this award-winning drama.

To be honest, before watching this show, I really had no idea what it took to be the “Queen of England.” To put it lightly, it’s a lot of work. When she was only 25 years old, Queen Elizabeth II became the head of state of not only England, but also the United Kingdom, and many other countries and territories around the world. It’s almost as if she became the CEO of  global company than a divine-rule monarch. For the past 60+ years, she has provided an excellent role model of a strong global leader. I almost see her as more of a CEO of a global conglomerate, than a divine-right ruler.

So with that in mind, here are a few of the business lessons I learned from watching “The Crown.”  I believe these lessons are timely and relevant to any entrepreneur or self-employed business professional.

 

Everyone Needs A Mentor

Queen Elizabeth II was limited in her educational upbringing. If you can believe it, she was primarily homeschooled. When she ascended to the throne at a young age, she felt she lacked the education to serve as an effective leader. To help fill in the gaps, she secured the services of a private tutor. In addition, she sought the good counsel of those around her. The queen never makes a rash decision. Instead, she seeks the advice of others, weighs the pros and cons, and makes that final decision herself.

As entrepreneurs, it is important to continually invest in our education. We can do that by reading books, attending workshops, and signing up for classes. Sometimes we need to seek out one-one-one mentoring, which is why it’s so helpful to work with a coach. Lastly, it’s vital that we have a good support system in place that includes a wide range of business colleagues. It is for that very reason that so many solopreneurs seek out business communities to join.

Belonging to a Mastermind or Membership group aligned with your industry can provide a whole slew of mentors. While sometimes it may feel overwhelming to know all there is to know to run our businesses, it’s important to learn from the wisdom of others. You owe it to yourself to always be learning and you owe it to your company and customers. You have a responsibility to be the best that you can be.

Let Us Be Frank

Watching “The Crown” we discover that Elizabeth strives to be open and honest in her communications. Whether she is butting heads with her Prime Minister, palace staff, or members of her family, the Queen never minces words. She always seems to speak simple and direct. Even better, she is always open and honest.

It is important for business professionals to display candor with their clients. Contrary to public opinion, the customer is not always “right.” When they are wrong, we must be frank with them. There have been times where we have had to be brutally honest with our clients.  For instance, when we provide a marketing audit we never sugar-coat the results.  Instead, we give our clients a full analysis of everything they need to do to better market their business. Although, we do always like to point out what they are doing “right” as well.

 

Balancing Work & Family is Hard

The most dramatic episodes of “The Crown” revolve around the conflicts the Queen is experiences with her own family. She is constantly struggling with a husband who seems threatened by her leadership. She painfully suffers the consequences of putting the needs of monarchy before the needs of her sister. And worst of all, her daily responsibilities get in the way of spending time with her children.

You don’t have to be a monarch to know that juggling our personal and professional life is a constant challenge. It seems even harder to maintain that balance when you are self-employed. Unlike employees, the majority of us don’t clock out at 5pm each day. Instead, with a home-based business, the start and end of work day can become grey. There is always the temptation to just keep working.

When we focus all of our time on running our business, we can easily neglect the special people in our life. For this reason, it’s vital to carve out some downtime and make your family, friends, and yourself, a priority. We must find ways to maintain that balance. Which is why Janet and I, like to take time out and watch Netflix together as “sisters.”

 

So those are just a few of the takeaway’s I got from watching “The Crown.”  I highly recommend you check out this awesome Netflix series. It’s a great show that will not only entertain you, but teach you a bit of history, and provide some great lessons on business and leadership.

 

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

A Simple Way to Stay Organized

This weekend, we tackled a huge project – we moved from one webhost provider to another. What made it especially complex, was we had to factor in multiple domains, websites, and email accounts. Since some of the websites belonged to our clients, we also had to be mindful of minimal downtime.

We thought we were being clever scheduling this webhost migration on Super Bowl weekend. Maybe not such a good idea when your football loving husband is your IT guy. Luckily, he timed everything just right, so he could still watch the game.

Whilst we were in the midst of exporting and importing all the critical files, I constantly needed to log in to the various webhost providers, websites, and email accounts. There was no time to run around looking for the right usernames and passwords. Everything I needed was always at my fingertips.

You will probably laugh when I tell you what’s my secret for staying so organized. I use a recipe box. Yep, that’s it. Just a simple little 6” x 3” recipe box I bought at Office Depot. Inside is a stash of index cards. My cards are filed in alphabetical order and include details on everything needed to run our business. “Zoom” is the program we use for our videoconferencing. It’s filed under “Z” and includes: the website URL, our login information, details on our different meeting rooms, and even the dial-in number and pin for telephone attendees. Just one little index card contains everything needed to effectively use Zoom.

Up until now, my recipe box has been the best way I’ve found to stay organized. With so many different internet accounts to keep track of, having this easy-to-use system has been great. However, as much as I love my recipe box, I am now embarking on a change. This month I will be heading to Spain for 3 weeks on a working holiday. As I work from abroad, I will need access to all the note cards in my recipe box, but since I’m traveling light, the box has to stay home.

So now, I’m in the process of taking all the index cards in my recipe box and putting them online. To do this, I’m using the Apple Notes app. If you’re a Mac user, you might already be familiar with Notes, a standard program on every iPhone, iPad, and Mac computer. What you might not be aware of, is that Notes automatically syncs across all your Apple devices. Once I discovered that nifty feature, I began to see Notes in a whole new light.

The more I began using Notes, I saw it had some other features I wasn’t aware of. Like the ability to organize all your notes into separate folders. I learned that notes can contain more than just text. Notes can include photos, drawings, and even hypertext links. Also, if you’re a Siri user, you can have her type your notes. Simply activate Siri and tell her “Take a note.” Siri will ask, “What do you want the note to say?” Just start dictating and when you’re done, you’re even given an option to make edits. Cool huh? It’s like having your own virtual assistant.

The best Notes feature I discovered, is you can secure access to any given note by locking it. When a note is locked it can only be unlocked if you type in the password your previously entered or use Touch ID (if you have one of the newer iPhone models). Making a note secure is a really good idea if it contains confidential information you wish to keep private. As I’m transferring all my business-related index cards into Notes, I am making them all password protected.

It’s nice when you can find simple solutions to working with today’s complex technology. I have found that the more organized I am, the more productive I become. I count my lucky stars that I no longer have to scramble around looking for passwords and other key information. I guess you could say that my little black recipe box + Notes is the secret sauce for staying organized.

If you would like to learn more about working with Apple’s Notes, I highly recommend reading this excellent article: Notes App: The Ultimate Guide. It contains everything you need to know to become a Notes Ninja.

P.S. Just in case you’re wondering, the migration from one web host provider to another was successful. Although it was a lot more complicated that we thought it would be. The trickiest part was all the email accounts. Luckily, since it was Super Bowl Sunday, I think everyone was so interested in watching the game, they didn’t notice the down-time. Touchdown!

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Coaching A Dinosaur

One often expects that all business people are savvy with technology tools. But as I have been coaching entrepreneurs, I am often surprised to learn that it is not always true. Many are still living in the dinosaur age, the age before today’s technology. Some still use outdated phone devices to communicate for business. Or even if they have a smart phone, they are not harnessing all the benefits it offers.

One of the biggest issues is struggling with technology tools and its vocabulary and how it all fits together. It is hard keeping up with the evolution when you are busy running a business. Without that knowledge, how can your business run efficiently, so you can save money and get more customers? An additional downside is that it also can hurt your everyday life as well. Less time for family, less money, and less time for you. What do you do?

I just had a coaching session with someone who is starting a business and discovered he was still using a flip phone. I found out in an extraordinary way. I was sending him text messages and he wasn’t getting them. I didn’t think to ask in advance if he had texting. After a chuckle with each other, my first advice was for him to take the leap to an iPhone. What will his iPhone do for him that was never going to be available on the flip phone?

 

A Smart Phone will help him be more productive:

  1. Access the wide world web anytime, anywhere
  2. Access his emails – multiple platforms both personal and business
  3. Access social media sites and allow him to post on the fly
  4. Project and time management apps
  5. Respond to messages of customers quickly with text, emai,l and Facebook Messenger
  6. Use Google Maps so he doesn’t miss an appointment by getting lost
  7. Take photos and videos and upload them to social media sites
  8. Take notes
  9. Record audio
  10. Watch webinars and online courses
  11. Listen to podcasts
  12. And more……

It will help him develop his business faster. His response to this list, “Holy Cow, where have I been?” After he purchases his phone, I suggested he ask a friend, a peer who has one, to teach him how to use the new phone. I recommended he not ask the young nephew to help. His nephew only knows this world and may not be able to help a dinosaur become evolved. When my client asks, “What is Siri?”  the nephew will probably say “you’re kidding, right?”

Keep in mind the flip side benefit of this. Many of his customers are using smart phones. If he doesn’t understand their experience how will his marketing reflect connecting with them using the same technology. His email platform and website should all be designed for a Smart Phone experience.

What’s the takeaway? Learn. Listen to podcasts. Watch YouTube training videos.  Get an up to date phone. Find out about apps that will make your business easier. Make sure your marketing can be viewed correctly on your customer’s phone.

Keeping current on technology developments and how to apply them to your business is critical. Don’t be a dinosaur. It will COST YOU Money in Sales.

P.S.  Quick story. I was just traveling to California from Arizona. Stopped for our last gas stop before we crossed the border. I pulled up my trusty “Around Me” app on my phone and figured out who had the cheapest gas. It was a difference of 50 cents per gallon. Your phone can save you money every where you look.

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com