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Posts Tagged ‘business growth’

When I reference Groundhog Day, I can’t help but think of that hysterical 1993 movie starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. If you have never seen it (although I would question where you’ve been!), Bill Murray’s character experiences the same Groundhog Day over and over again. Each time the day starts again, he adjusts based on what he knows will happen so he can get it “just right”.

This movie has me reflecting on two lessons I have learned over the years that look a lot like this Bill Murray’s character’s experience:

  • My days of living the Groundhog Day life in my career and business are over. I learned early on in corporate to save everything- every file, every document and every email trail- because invariably the senior leadership team would reposition an old project or initiative as a brand new, enterprise-wide opportunity in which I could be put in charge. Common practice was to pull out those saved files, relabel them and start over again. It got so bad in 2002 that I bought my entire team a copy of the movie! (VHS of course) Today as an entrepreneur everything is new -every day. No reusing ideas for me. It is all fresh and exciting. No more slapping another name or spin on an initiative and calling it new! Phew– However, I am free to reuse those fabulous corporate ideas at my corporate clients all day long!
  • The Universe will continue to put similar people, situations and opportunities in my path until I learn the lesson I am here to learn. And it is often equal parts frustrating and hysterical.  Like the movie Groundhog Day, I just keep coming back to the scenario over and over again, adjusted a bit each time, until I make the major shift. The most recent lessons have been painful and tear-filled but the “other side” is looks like days of endless rainbows compared to the ways I was living tied to those toxic people, places and things.

Where is that happening in your life?

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Coffee Location:  My sofa watching the NY Giants on SNF
Today’s Beverage of Choice: Coffee and chocolate protein shake

 

 

 

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Have I Been a Modern-Day Rip Van Winkle?

Have I been sleeping?
Sleeping though part of my life?

I feel like Rip Van Winkle. I loved that little story from my childhood.
My mother would tell me that when there was scary thunder that I did not need to worry because it was just Rip Van Winkle bowling.
However, recently I actually read the story again after all these years and learned that Rip is described in many of the versions by creator Washington Irving as a “henpecked husband who loathes ‘profitable labor’ “.

Now that is really taking the comparison of Rip and me a bit too far.  I am neither a henpecked husband nor a person who loathes profitable labor… but walking around constantly exhausted from living in indecision and not working or living as my very best self certainly makes life and business less profitable. So, looking a little like a modern-day Rip Van Winkle.

On Sunday, November 12 it changed. I woke up and came down that figurative mountain as Rip did in the story and basically declared,  “I CHOOSE ME!” Made the decision.Immediately slowed down the wondering, worrying and spinning!

  • I choose me.
  • I choose to see my life as it really is, not a warped version of how I wish it to be.
  • I choose to forge ahead as the best self I can be today.

This new decision has had an immediate impact on my business model, my relationships and my home. 

In future blog posts, I will talk about this in more detail (all a part of my 40 day vulnerability challenge).
However, for tonight I just wanted to pose these questions…

  • Where in your life are you “sleeping”?
  • Where are you looking at life in fantasy rather than reality?
  • Where are you acting like a modern-day Rip Van Winkle?

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I have always been a planner. Since I was a little girl.

While many little girls were playing Barbie and house, my imagination role-play games included organizing neighborhood children to put on a variety show. And when there were no other kids around, my poor sister had to endure my choreography and director’s wrath so we could get the show “just right” (think Cher’s Half Breed album 1973).

But in those years before my sister was old enough to participate, I would play school by myself being both the teacher and the student (aren’t I talented?) including lesson plans, fake library cards, sticker charts, homework and bulletin boards.  As I got older I transitioned to interior designer (complete with my own sketches for rearranging Mom’s living room furniture) and cruise director with a clipboard (okay- really- wouldn’t I make a great Julie McCoy?)

 

I have notebooks full of charts, graphs and calendars. Days to learn the songs, dances and lines for the musical. Days until college applications were due. Study schedules. Weight loss charts. Graphs depicting my savings to be used to get my ears pierced at the mall. By the time I got to college, I was in full-blown planning mode with wall charts and everything!

The advantages to my predilection for planning is that I moved from organized high school class president to college senior class president to corporate management trainee to corporate executive using this skill to excel. It was always in my back pocket to make sense of the chaos. It was and still is a leadership tool in my toolbox.

I leveraged this same skill to transition to entrepreneurial life helping clients create calendars and plans to support their businesses, lives, marketing programs, etc.  Do what you love, right? Do what comes easy. Plus it makes me happy because my plans are pretty. They are created with post-it notes and sharpies.

However, I have also come to see that I use this planning tool as a way to calm myself down. If I am anxious about something in my personal or professional life, I go right to the calendar.  Sometimes just to look at it. It beings me comfort. It is a guaranteed return. When things are uncertain, the calendar seems certain to me. I can plan something and write it down. Plus mine is pretty with all those colors (both the paper and electronic versions).

This is just a little insight into me. A little writing to perhaps get you thinking about what skills or characteristics you have brought with you from childhood that have helped YOU to excel in adulthood. They are probably right at your fingertips.

 

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Pick a number. Write it down.

It is just that simple.

I use a post-it note.

You can use your planner, your Google calendar or a good old-fashioned to-do list.

Each week, pick a number of connections you intend to make.

Who should you choose?

  • Did you like a blog post you read?
  • Is there a former co-worker that you can’t get out of your mind?
  • Was there a comment on a discussion thread that interested you?
  • Did someone on Facebook peak your interest?
  • Do you have a stack of business cards in your desk drawer? (okay- I know you do!)
  • Does someone have a business similar to yours and you are thinking she might make a great collaborator?

Identify your 2 or 5 or 10 people and reach out.

You can connect with them on social media. Send them a personal message via email. Or here’s a crazy idea- actually pick up the phone and call them! So many options.

Start connecting! Isn’t this what business is all about?

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It is that time of year when we all create goals and resolutions.

Starting fresh in the New Year with all the promise and hope of a clean slate.

For me, I abandoned making resolutions 16 years ago.

As many of you know, I believe whole-heartedly in the power of starting the day over again. At any point.  So resolutions have always set me up for failure because, well, you can probably imagine that I ALWAYS broke them early on in the year and then cast them aside or talked myself out of wanting the result.

Goals are different. Goals for me are about incremental change with the possibility for remarkable surprises. They are about looking to the future and putting the mini-plan in place to support each of those goals. Looking for opportunities to move closer to the goal in giant leaps facilitated by those incremental plans.

In my world, there are three absolutes for goals.

  • They span all parts of my life: personal and professional. EXPAND!
  • They are BIG dreams! They are scary and vulnerable! I utter the secrets that have been carried around inside me.
  • They are specific. Through specificity comes the magic!

Have you taken the time to write down your 2012 goals?

Honestly. Do you have the goals written down? Are they in a place where you can see them each and every day? Living with my goals has become a tremendous inspiration to me.  They are hanging on bright pink oversized post-it notes right over my desk

Now look at the annual goals.

  • Do they span multiple areas of your personal and professional life?
  • Are they big? Are they audacious? Do they make you think, “After I stand in disbelief, if this really comes to fruition I will be dancing/crying/high-fiving in my living room?”
  • Are they very specific? Not sure- then my guess is that they are not. Specificity allows you to feel the relief of knowing if you are moving forward. Specificity allows the magic in between your actions to happen. Specificity gives you a litmus test as you whether a particular decision moves you closer or further away from that goal.

Take some much deserved time to dream and plan for 2012 during this holiday season. Happy New Year!

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For those of you who have ever spent more than an hour with me in your lifetime, you know  two of my passions are Christmas and Connecting. The joy I receive from the twinkling lights, snow, beautiful childhood songs pumping through the streets (or my apartment), and gorgeously wrapped gifts I have realized is so similar to the thrill I feel when I meet someone and find a connection-even the smallest little thing. You are a Wellesley woman? You can’t go a day without coffee either? You used to live in my neighborhood-Don’t you love Morningside Heights? You have cats you adore also? You are from Upstate NY-no way?! And the list goes on!

During this holiday season, there is so much encouragement to spread hope and good cheer. I encourage that wholeheartedly myself. However, for many the holiday season also comes with a tremendous amount of pressure-both in terms of time and financial expectations. It causes such a challenge because it is also the perfect time to be connecting and spreading  cheer to people you will want to build deeper relationships with in 2012 and beyond.

You can see where the conflict comes in!

You might think, “Bryn, it is difficult enough to finish all the holiday shopping, attend all (or at least some) of the parties, and finish decorating. I have no time or energy left to connect with MORE people.”

No worries! Below I have offered a few ideas to help you leverage both your limited hours in the day and your over-tapped bank account during this celebratory season.

My brainstorming session on this topic began with several assumptions:

  1. You need rich and prosperous connections to build your business, career, associations at large or volunteer activities in 2012.
  2. At this moment, you estimate you have less than 2 hours to focus on this connection activity before January 1st.
  3. It better not cost a fortune because you are “all in” this holiday season!

Strategy, it all begins with Strategy! Not the kind that requires a business plan (but gosh, if you have that business plan handy, you may want to pull it out and take a look at the goals that were not quite fulfilled this year or perhaps the goals you have in mind for 2012).

What I am suggesting here is to do the following 10 minute exercise: Clear your mind. Put yourself in a quiet spot where there is little chance of interruption for 10 minutes. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and take the following steps:

– Reflect on 2011-big moments of elation, tough challenges, and lessons learned then write the 4 people’s names that come to mind in reaction to that 2011 reflection.

– Think about what the first few months of 2012 will look like for your life, career, business, etc. and write down the first 4 names that pop in your head in association with that image of next year.

– Write the 2 people that nag at you in the back of your mind. They seem to always be on your “to do” list. Maybe you promised you would call/write/lunch but never did. Maybe you met the person and thought, “I really want to spend more time with this person and now it just seems embarrassing how much time has elapsed.”

THERE-you have 10 names! That wasn’t hard was it? Any repeats? You can consolidate the list of course and now you have less than 10. But no more than 10 here please. You do not get extra “connection points” for making a long list that will be too long to tackle and ultimately end in defeat.

Beside each of those names, write the action you plan to take to reconnect. Remember, we want to keep this simple but also stand out in the crowd.

Even with dear friends or former colleagues who might be waiting to hear from you, at this time of year being a bit original will only help you to make the quality connection for which you are aiming. Therefore, I would personally suggest you stay away from emails and ecards. Inboxes are flooded this time of year with offers, end of year issues, and those very same emails and ecards I am suggesting you avoid.

Let’s think creatively here-but still adhere to the last two principles of this exercise: not time consuming or expensive. Here are a few suggestions of mine. Hopefully, they will prompt a few of your own that are specifically linked to your community, your business or area of the world.

Make a minimal donation in their name. Do you know they have a certain passion, charity, or do a tremendous amount of volunteer work at a certain organization? The organization will be thrilled with any $10 or $15 donation they receive and you can often request a card or an acknowledgement email to be sent to the person you are honoring with the donation. I love when people have done this for me-rather than bringing me a small gift I may not need or food I do not eat. You get the picture. Very personal and all about them and their interests. When I have been a recipient in the past, I feel so “heard.”

Send a New Year’s Card. Really. These work brilliantly. First of all, they are nondenominational (Happy Holidays or blank cards work great for this). Plus, the holidays are winding down. You have time to write the card and it will be received when their mailbox has been cleared of holiday cards, catalogs and gifts. The card should include three components: A wish for Happy New Year-a line about the connection you have made in the past (great volunteering with you at that event-who knew we had so much in common)-and a line about the connection you hope to make in the new year (I will give you a call later in January when things have calmed down and we can schedule a time for lunch). Be certain that whatever you add here is reasonable for you. This is your chance to offer next steps that will be followed through with and it is up to you and only you to make that happen. So do not over-promise.

Create a Social Media Call-out. For those of you who love social media like I do, this will be a fun and effective way to connect-but only if two factors exist. 1. You love love love social media (because this connection activity should not be a chore) 2. The person you are targeting ALSO loves social media (maybe you even met them there!) Here are a few ideas:

Twitter: Create a tweet that talks about them. Use their handle of course. Talk about a special offering they have (providing them with a little publicity) Talk about the impact they have made in your life/business. And then-tweet it at least three times over the course of a few days so it will get more exposure.

Facebook: Dedicate your status to them with the same premise as Twitter. Write about their impact, the special project they are working on, their website, the contributions they made to the community, etc.

LinkedIn: You can dedicate your status here also-and even link it to your twitter account with the new LinkedIn function if you choose to keep it under 140 characters. Also, LinkedIn is a great place to show your appreciation with an unsolicited recommendation! It does not have to be lengthy. Maybe a paragraph or two but the impact will last throughout the year.

Have fun connecting and reconnecting with these people. Taking action on less than 10 people before the beginning of the year (10 minutes on each one is all!) and reap the benefits throughout all of 2012. I am now off to do this exercise myself. Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones!

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Everything is changing.

I am on the edge. The edge of that beautiful cliff at sunset.  Do I stand here and watch the sunset until the opportunities fade into the horizon or do I free-fall? Trusting I will be caught. I will be cared for.

Free-falling is the answer.

That is how it feels. Beautiful sunset surrounding me. There is so much more faith than fear but wow… this is uncharted territory. I do not ever remember being suspended in life this way before.

Over the next few months watch for some big announcements. Changes in business. Changes in life. Changes in perspective. Changes in team, collaborators and partners. Nothing is safe from change in my life right now apparently.

But why play it “safe”?

I could have stayed in Corporate for that!

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