Your Credibility: It is Worth Something!

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“When it comes to leaders, in many respects constituents act like loan officers. When a leader makes promises (like signing a promissory note) about what he or she will do to guide the organization on a journey to an uplifting new future, people instinctively do a credit check.”-J. Kouzes, B. Posner, Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It.


People see credibility. They watch for it. Revealed in your every move each day; we see it, or we don’t, but we are looking.

When job seekers struggle with words for their resume, when job providers peer into the eyes of candidates for the hint of a quality applicant, they are looking for the spark that declares credibility: “I’m reliable.” “I really can, and will, produce.” “I care.” “I really do.”

Pay Attention to Your Day-to-Day Actions

It is important to find ways to accumulate, and honor, your daily experiences. How did you resolve a customer conflict? What did you do to help a friend in need? Or how did you prevent a problem at work?  Write it down, yes, WRITE it! Write a description of your reasoning and actions that improved the situation, created opportunity, or simply calmed the turmoil.

As you re-read your descriptions, remember that the results and manner of your actions can be converted to knowledge. If you respect each day with just one reflective passage, you have given value to the event. Reflect on ways that you have interacted with others, how you have achieved a solution to a dilemma that could go either way. Then, think of ways to give yourself credit for those experiences. You may discover that you have hundreds of moments each week that require a second look—a moment to award some value that could be the valuable attribute, the natural talent, that an employer or business partner seeks.

Why Does It Matter?

When you give credit to your experience (we’ll call it your knowledge-print), you are honoring your intellectual ability to create self-knowledge and you are creating valuable stories to pay knowledge forward. Yes, stories are important. Many of us are influenced and gain knowledge from our professional and personal life experiences. The potential in these passages help to communicate our value to others. No, it’s not bragging, if it happened.

Today, when you encounter an opportunity to solve a problem, take a moment to commit the event to memory. This evening, write it down; every detail. Then ask yourself, “What do I know or believe about this?” “Was it intuitive or have I experienced this before?”  Consider this pattern of self-interviewing:

“How do I know this?”

  • Did I learn this through formal education, or did I develop the skill through actions?
  • What was the education—a specific class or workshop?
  • Or, describe the story around actions you took before.

“Why do I believe this?”

  • Describe your belief about the scenario.
  • Is your belief based on convictions developed from previous challenges?
  • Is there a cultural or faith-based reason for your belief?

Knowing and believing; there is a difference. If you know a thing, qualify and quantify your experience, especially when you are using the story to enrich an interview process or influence an outcome. The following are solid questions to help frame your knowledge-print during a job interview.

  • Where, when, how long, how many, how much, with whom, and what was my role?
  • What were the outcomes?
  • What was learned? How was it learned?
  • What was the impact? Who felt the impact?

Can you think of more to add to this list?

What You Believe or What You Know

If you have a belief, then support your beliefs, your way of thinking, from values you derived from learning (experience and/or education). If you are a student, your education process is scholarly activity. Add the value from your experiences to your scholarly process. Remember, many people in the workforce have not invested in the scholarly process, but have learned scholarly ways, and may have attained extraordinary academic, vocational or technical skills.

Leaders recognize the value of; scholarly knowledge and expertise from application and experience. If you have not yet gained the experience, but you believe that you know what you need to know, then express and support your understanding.

Remember, if you know it, where did you hear it, see it, or read about it? In other words, “I know this is true because….”.   “Because….” is your opportunity to give credit to your own experience and to those who have been there before, your appreciation of expert information. Your knowledge-print is required to establish your credibility.

Credibility is value.

Credibility is the essence of your leadership validity.

Invest in it! Every day!

 

 

5 Weeks In! Bragging Rights for February 2015?

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effort levels

stick_figure_search_clues_1814Translation?

No matter how excited and psychologically pumped you are about a goal, your potential to successfully achieve it, is determined by your day-to-day, hour-to-hour actions. Goal planning is essential to craft your momentum.

Bottom line: Excitement ≠ Momentum.

WHAT?!! Does this mean that my joyful anticipation of the “svelte, 20 pounds lighter, me” will not fuel my desire to jump on the elliptical for 30 minutes every day? That’s right. The confounding reality is: Our potential to achieve ongoing personal and professional goals requires planning and behavioral changes that are easily manipulated by our attitude flux.

If you have not considered your 2015 plan, you just ran out of January days to do it!

How will you do it? 

How will you develop attitudes, create realistic and attainable goals, and design a strategy that increases your capacity for achievement?

three_custom_gears_13895Achievement is a result of one key element: decisive action.

Achievement = Success!

Success = Bragging Rights!

Bragging Rights = Fuel for 2015!

Be Decisive!

As a rule, most decisions are really a series of choices. Large or small, the ability to be successfully decisive has little to do with personality, but more to do with our ability to analyze a situation and plan actionable ways to approach each piece, or step, of the challenge.

Another aspect of decisiveness is the combination of our logic and the emotional facets of our personality. This combination, our intuition, will influence our best made decisions. Intuition, some call it our sixth sense, can serve us well as we apply our personal experiences and daily applications of formal learning to a scenario.

However, intuition is sometimes elusive.

We simply cannot always sense the right outcome.

So, what do we do?

  • Set clearly defined goals.
  • Establish long-range, intermediate, and short-range goals.
  • Tether the goals to specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely elements (SMART Goals).

SMART

To determine if the decisions you are about to make will accomplish your objective, design your goals the SMART way. Your top priority must be to make decisions that are consistent with your goals.

NOW, review your process of decision making, the process each of us uses, as a habitual way of choosing between alternatives

this_big_anim_11610Develop your style for decisive behaviors, create your SMART habits, and you will make 2015 YOUR year to brag OUT LOUD!

Why Would I Follow You? 4 Behaviors to Get My Buy-In

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figure_give_thumbs_down_anim_150_clr_2342“One reason that people resist organizational change is that they believe they will lose something of value as a result”.

John Kotter, leadership expert and author of What Leaders Really Do,


Ask any business owner or division manager how their colleagues and employees react to the concept of change. Their spontaneous responses will range from, “Alright, but we don’t like it” to “No way am I going to change anything”.  Change requires loosening or releasing control of something, and loss of control is the essence of human fear.

Sans the debate about the attributes of leadership versus management, there are essential behavioral qualities required for us to desire to follow someone—to be led.

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Unless the appropriate questions are asked, there is simply no other way to achieve buy-in from others. Creativity happens when talented, skilled people are asked to invest their thinking about a challenge. Regardless of the quality of the answer, what happens when you sincerely ask people what they think?

  • You clearly demonstrate respect for their intellect, and
  • For that moment, they experience the power of input; a first step to to the creation of a trustful relationship.

Leaders Listen

Scores of courses on listening are available to address the deficiency of listening skills at leadership levels. However developed, leaders who attentively listen and absorb information from others will:

  • Consider the consequences,
  • Be able to evaluate the impact of theirs and team actions, and
  • Will be empowered to identify options for the best outcomes.

this_big_anim_11610Leaders Give Feedback

All leaders seek buy-in. However, buy-in, or shared vision, requires full understanding and agreement. A challenge for many who have stepped up to lead others, the achievement of collaboration requires communication skills beyond words. Dynamic leaders rely on action-fueled feedback that fortifies a healthy team. How does this happen?

Effective leaders:
  • Share choices and their honest interpretation of the circumstance or the challenge,
  • Earn trust and worthiness through demonstrating their capabilities and expertise, and
  • Leaders earnestly express gratitude.

Leaders Plan

The direction is established! Now what?  The dynamic, results-driven leader works with their followers to identify specific goals to achieve the shared vision. Action steps that emerge from the vibrant vision will blend with the team members’ feedback. Never underestimate the power of explanation, the why and how, that connects all levels of learning in your team. The most critical stage in mission achievement hinges on whether followers eagerly accept direction and delegation.

What do leaders really do? Why would I follow you?

With every move you make, you communicate!

 

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Dr. Deborah Frey, Leadership Development Consultant and Executive Coach. CEO and founder of FreyWorks & Associates www.freyworks.com. Devoted to leadership quality, Deborah helps people and organizations create and implement actions with success-driven attitudes to improve their lives. One of her programs, specifically designed for teens, Rising Stars Youth Leadership Development process. Deborah has an earned Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership, Masters of Science in Education. She has taught at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, John A. Logan College, at industrial and military sites across the U.S. Deborah is a Certified Innermetrix assessments analyst. To learn more about Deborah and how she can help you or your organization, text or call: 618.559.1953  or email at: freyworks@gmail.com or debfrey@freyworks.com.

What Is So Hard About Leading?

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There are decades of opinions and ideas about the roles of leadership and management. mgrvsldrMany people truly believe that these roles are the same. Well, no. They are not. In fact, the very essence of a leader’s attributes can often defy the primary purpose of the managerial role.

Managers Make the “Doing” Happen

program-manager-organizing-projects

Effective managers control, organize, often stabilize the chaos of the frenzied activities required to make things happen. These required activities, often accomplished with a diverse range of personalities, resources, and capabilities, require direction and order: The Manager!

In our complex world, the nature of a leader’s role can actually be extremely annoying to someone who is purely, and uniquely gifted with managerial skills.  And yet, the leader’s role emerges from ideals, vision, and purpose that can ultimately make the manager’s role much easier. Managerial experts are goal and quality driven. Effective leaders may opt to cooperate with a management efficiency model, and may strive to support immediate, and often necessary goals, but the vision, the idea, is the prize. So how does this work? The leader’s primary responsibility is “buy in”: the achievement that can only be accomplished through effective, motivating, engagement and communication.

Inspiration!

Ah yes, inspiration is a good thing, right?  Some would argue that inspiration can be a pain, frustrating, and can muddy the goals. To all of these managerial challenges, I will emphatically say, “Yes!”

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However, without inspiration there is no idea generation, no innovation, and no progress. A task or job accomplished may achieve a goal, but does not always produce growth or achieve a needed change.

Both sides can look something like this:

Leader:

“I have an idea!  What do all of you think of ________________?”

Manager:

“Why would we do this?” “How will we do this?”  “What will we need?” “How long will it take? “How will we measure success?” “How will we improve our process next time?” “How can we repeat the success?” And so on, and so on.

Leader:

“If we decide that we can do this, based on our beloved manager’s strategic plan, who will help us?” “Tell me why it is important for you to be part of this project.”

Manager:

“Let’s evaluate our skills and talents to make this happen together.” “Let’s identify challenges and barriers.” “We will organize the project team.” “Let’s develop a status report process.”

Leader:

“Let’s look at what we have accomplished.” “Thank you for your significant work to do ________________.” “Let’s celebrate!” “Let’s discuss the next idea!”

Really, it is a beautiful thing!

Each role requires a unique mix of personality, skills, and talents to achieve a harmonious result. And when you have this in your organization, it is a BEAUTIFUL thing!  The most powerful, effective and satisfied leaders are boldly, and demonstrably, grateful for their diligent managers. Why? Because they can focus on the engagement and connection that can transform people and generate a cohesive team bond to achieve their vision.

Leaders think it, dream it, fuel it. Managers make it so.  

stick_man_puzzle_solver_5_30_08_pro_meSo, cheers to both! Dream on  and make things happen! Our world is waiting for YOU!

________________________________________________________________________

Deb & Ski on the NM prairie 1111Dr. Deborah Frey, Leadership Development Consultant and Executive Coach. CEO and founder of FreyWorks & Associates www.freyworks.com. Devoted to leadership quality, Deborah helps people and organizations create and implement actions with success-driven attitudes to improve their lives. One of her programs, specifically designed for teens, Rising Stars Youth Leadership Development process. Deborah has an earned Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership, Masters of Science in Education. She has taught at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, John A. Logan College, at industrial and military sites across the U.S. Deborah is a Certified Innermetrix assessments analyst. To learn more about Deborah and how she can help you or your organization, text or call: 618.559.1953  or email at: freyworks@gmail.com or debfrey@freyworks.com.

 

Accidental Leaders: How We Get Past the Two “Ds” (Distrust and Doubt)?

Who-me

Who me?

How do you react when someone looks to you to lead? What happens as your inner child says, “Who me?” 

For some of you, it’s easy, right?  No problem. I can give directions. I can manage tasks. I can delegate. Alrightee then! You may start a business or step up in community service. When organizations are small, manageable, leaders who merely provide direction can work. But when our companies grow, “Whoa Nellie!!”, our folks need more that direction. They need to see and believe in, where they are going.

Engaged Leaders

Engaged leaders see and mobilize the qualities, the potential and natural talents of people. When good work happens, leaders can focus on their two things, then, when challenges shine a bright light on growth needs, these engaged leaders guide and seek training and coaching methods to help their organization to move forward or heal from a problem. Wait!! What about this “two things” business? In the words of leadership guru, Peter Drucker,

two fingers

“Develop your priorities and don’t have more than two. I don’t know anybody who can do three things at the same time and do them well. Do one task at a time or two tasks at a time. That’s it.” 

 

 

Growth Hurts

Growing-Pains

When organizations grow, the mere numbers of personalities create a growth challenge.  The effective leader introduces healthy growth by developing people into their roles. It is not easy. Why? Because sometimes the leader is unprepared for largeness in the workforce. The mere growth of their organization can create a sense of self-doubt and anxiety.  According to Bornstein and Smith, (1996), “Effective leaders are constantly reducing doubt in themselves and their followers” (p.286).[i]  Is there a more ethical and noble path for a leader than to reduce doubt? Doubt is at the epicenter of mistrust. Conversely, trust builds faith and conviction. Faith, when earned, builds strong teams and strengthens leadership teams with symbiotic followership. Sounds a little bit impossible, right?

Organizations Are Human: Growing is Easier with Healthy Habits

When businesses grow, consider the power of routine. According to Duhigg (2012), all organizations have institutional habits; things that people do, good or bad, that define their culture, and ultimately their productivity potential.[ii]

Produce sustainable habits that can energize positive focus, support change and divert negativity.

habit

 

As they develop people, the engaged leaders develop sustainable habit building; positive, actionable habits of thinking and doing. The only rule: Be “on” every day. Develop the most effective organizational habits by:

  1. Watching and listening for cues or signals that trigger action. Sometimes cuesventureneer-listening are difficult to see. Train your eyes and ears for acute observation and listening skills. Attempt to see the truth, the facts, of the cues.
  2. Observing the action. What happens? How does it happen? What approaches were used? Did the action build good will?
  3. Evaluating the reward(s). Was it a healthy reward for the organization? Was it fair? Was it beneficial? For all the team members?

Try it!

Organizations that gain long term, sustainable results are loaded with people who truly want to be there. Why? Because there is no such person as an “accidental leader”. There are effective leaders or ineffective. The owner, the director, the president, the chair, either do, or do not. Embrace your best self. Become the leader that your organization needs with healthy leadership development habits.

Then, get back to your two things.

To discover your best way to grow your organization with habit-building processes. Contact FreyWorks & Associates Consulting, LLC at debfrey@freyworks.com to learn more about specialized coaching processes and enjoy a FREE opportunity for a one-on-one assessment via telephone or Skype!


[i] F. Hesselbein, M. Goldsmith, R. Beckhard, (Eds.) (1996). The Leader of the Future: New Visions, Strategies, and Practices for the Next Era. Jossey-Bass. San Francisco, CA.

[ii] C. Duhigg (2011). The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. Random House, New York.

 

 

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Four Solopreneur Stories: How Their Focus Became Success

Angie Wyatt Sherwin

The decision to launch a solopreneur business demands focus. The ability to grow the business requires focus. Focus!

Not only do we need to know our skills, but, in the words of the infamous Dirty Harry, “A man’s got to know his limitations”.  Success is different for all of us.  How we measure solopreneurial success depends on how we define our unique role in the business world. There is no better way to learn more about this path than to seek out the experiences of others who have tried, learned, won and, sometimes, lost. Personal business-development stories can help us understand how the solopreneur decision can be precast for success, and how to avoid some foreseeable pitfalls.

Before we explore some conversations with a few seasoned solopreneurs, let’s seek to understand the solopreneurial role. A naïve view is to believe that solopreneurship answers the challenges of poor personal cash management, frustrations with micromanagers, rigid schedules and challenges with time management, or any of thousands of issues that human beings face when they are employed by someone else. The solopreneur is, by definition, accepting the challenge to perform multiple roles, tap deep into their talents and skills, and somehow find relentless determination and energy to meet business demands. The solopreneur is the chief executive, director of research and development, strategic planner, head of marketing, finance, sales, human resources, purchasing, product and service delivery, and, many more roles.

In our quest to help solopreneurs, and entrepreneurs, our knowledge base is growing and we have opportunities to share some valuable success stories. The solopreneur’s journey writhes with personal and professional development challenges. To help us learn more, we recently spoke with four very different entrepreneurs who are enjoying solopreneur success. On our BlogTalkRadio.com program, 30 Minute Business Dig, we assembled a panel of dynamic solopreneurs who each have a unique perspective to share on their personal journey to success.

Entrepreneur to Solopreneur

 Karen Cupp, a Coldwell Banker Preferred realtor and owner of a private investment company, has navigated her career through the challenges and rewards of ownership in several kinds of small businesses.  A highly successful entrepreneur for 14 years with resale stores in several southern Illinois locations, Karen stepped into an advisory and coordinator role at the local university small business incubator. She helped promising entrepreneurs realize their dreams as they launched their fledgling businesses with limited resources.

Today, as Karen has embarked on her fulfilling solopreneur journey in real estate, she advises solopreneurs to appreciate and value the inevitable failures that emerge in business startups. The lessons learned can help form effective decision patterns and work styles that are priceless to move forward in your business. Also, Karen encourages solopreneurs to learn how to self-lead. Karen invested in executive coaching before approaching her solopreneurial role. With her coach’s support and guidance, she developed her leadership potential, the stalwart ingredient for her continued success. Karen emphasizes that although self-leadership is a key quality for solopreneurs to develop, understand that you must work “on your business, not just in your business”.

 What is Your Personal Brand?

 Aaron Levine of LG Insurance Group started his business in 2007 after graduating from the Monmouth University MBA program. As an insurance professional Aaron operates a small office in Long Branch, New Jersey. He services clients in New York, Florida, and in his home state of New Jersey.  His clients always know what they are going to get when it comes to their personal and professional needs and service is of his utmost priorities.  In addition to owning and operating LG Insurance Group, Aaron is a race director, avid triathlete and is on the board of directors for the Long Branch Chamber of Commerce and Long Branch Concordance.  Aaron offers this sage insight; solopreneurs must recognize that they are not alone. Reach out to others for feedback or support.

Aaron strongly recommends that solopreneurs develop their unique, personal brand; the elements that differentiate their business from the competition. Find a way to relate to everyone you contact through your personal brand; such as honesty, availability, and service-driven. Aaron emphasizes that, as in many markets, agency options are plentiful and competitive in the insurance industry. If a prospect can connect, and believe they can trust your personal brand, they will connect with your product or service for the long term.

It’s About Strategy

Kerry Stachowski, Founder and Publisher, knows the importance of business owners reaching the world’s largest market–women. The primary focus of her publication is to educate and connect women with key resources to improve their lives and well-being. It provides a forum for professionals in various fields to contribute their expertise to the publication. This requires working with business owners on their advertising messaging in creating a holistic approach to the women’s market via print, web and social media. The Jersey Shore Woman is entering their 5 year making it the longest running publication serving women in the Monmouth and Ocean County area of New Jersey.

Kerry has always enjoyed helping people, appreciated work within a diverse community, and especially supporting women’s businesses. She admits that her initial approach to her solopreneur business was not strategic, “I was always tempted to go to area where I thought help was needed”.  Her work with a coach to create and implement her strategic plan provided a way to enlighten her about issues, and helped her to identify key action items, to prioritize, to establish realistic timeframes, and most importantly, provided focus. Kerry encourages solopreneurs to use strategic planning, “It has helped me to grow my brand”.

With Our “Eyes Wide Open”

After nearly 20 years as a News Anchor/Reporter, Angie Wyatt began writing children’s stories, developing a toy and apparel line under the brand name “Timmy the Tractor”. Angie’s company is currently working on a children’s show (television pilot). “Timmy” is available for appearances and he hauls in the crowds!

 When Angie became a mother, after many years in the news industry, she was inspired to produce something that would help children form wholesome values. She explored here opportunity to see the world through her young son’s eyes, as she puts it, with her “eyes wide open”! Angie stresses that, like a reporter, people should be alert to the possibilities around them, and seize the opportunities of each day. And solopreneurs can lead the way with their “eyes wide open”! Yes, Angie’s reporting spirit is still telling stories, but now her focus is on the ages of 0 to 6 years old.

What Do We Get From This?

As more and more solo-businesses are launched, successful solopreneurs are telling us about focus.

  • Focus through strategic planning.

  • Focus on openness to supportive relationships and coaching.

  • Focus on innovation.

  • Focus to embrace and prepare for transitions.

  • and, Focus on self-leadership and personal accountability.

Now more than ever, Solos grow their businesses and build platforms for sustained success with their ability to FOCUS.

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One Can Be a Lonely Number: The Solopreneur Challenge

Walking on the sky

Start up my own new business!

Wooo Hooo!   I’m on my own!  I’m flying solo!  I’ll keep my own schedule!  Make my own rules! Oh, and I’ll make lots of money$!

No more bosses!  No more looks! No more aggravating jerks!

Okay. Now, Your Reality Check?

If you expect your new solo business to thrive, examine your truths about startup, operating, and delivering products and services on your own will not likely satisfy your personal freedom quest. Solopreneurs must build on success and prepare for very different kind of competitive business. We find that many of these gifted entrepreneurs can feel lonely or isolated, and most dangerously, demotivated by less inspired friends and family.

Successful solopreneurs are a unique brand of entrepreneurial leaders.

With the unyielding tenacity of a prize fighter, they are equipped with grit for the challenge. They are experts, and are inclined to specialize with appeal to a particular niche or market.

Just as an accomplished news reporter, they are alert and inquisitive. Their ability to multitask is supported by a well-balanced blend of emotional maturity and natural talent. And, because they are tethered so closely to each task, they understand that their ability to create a sustainable business rests firmly on their own shoulders. Their business idea emerged from their dream; and their willpower and resilience is critical to its success.

Earlier this year on 30 Minute Business Dig, we discussed the importance of self-awareness, an understanding of natural talents and unique attributes that helps to strengthen the solopreneur. We discussed the qualities that help to make the most of their resources and their abilities. But how does the solopreneur generate and sustain the self-inspiration and motivation that is the required ingredient for business success?

Owning and running a business can be rewarding, but it is complex and demanding work.  Business owners may be working very hard, and yet feel discouraged and unable to stay on task. What can we do to keep our spirits high, when we have a series of challenges that affect our sales, our ability to effectively market, or when a health issue rears its ugly head? Self-accountability is a critical habit for solopreneurs, and, because we are so close to the operations, our attitude affects momentum more directly than larger organizations.

How do we keep our spirits up? 

Create habits to refresh your vision and review your goals.

Revisit your cravings; what fueled your business ideas and energized you to start up. In his recent best seller, The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg reminds us that,

“Cravings are what drive habits….Every night, millions of people scrub their teeth in order to get a tingling feeling; every morning millions of people put on their jogging shoes to capture an endorphin rush they’ve learned to crave. And when they get home, after they clean the kitchen or tidy their bedrooms, some of them will spray a bit of Febreeze.”

Find your laughter.

Or better yet, find your yoga class! Billie Frances, founder of Guiding Mindful Change and a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader conducts free community-based Laughter Yoga groups. Billie recommends that taking a time out for a good belly laugh is good for your health and will promote your overall well-being.]

Develop a routine (a habit) of positive behaviors.

Exercise, a pet, a daily phone call to a friend, whatever helps you smile.  For many years I have been inspired by the renowned author and speaker, Tim Sanders. One of the activities that Tim recommends in his book, The Likeability Factor, is to find your L-Factor features. The reason I recommend this activity is because Tim directs us to reflect on self-validations.  His instructions include:

Think about your biggest fan.

Not a family member, but someone who does not feel obligated to say nice things about you.  As you think about this person, consider what converted them from an acquaintance to a supporter. Was it a thing that you did, or a series of events? If he or she were to list your two most likeable features, what would they be?

Now this is only one of many activities where Tim guides he readers, but the lesson learned here is that validation is very important to keep our spirits high. Surround yourself by validating memorabilia, artifacts that remind you of your recognition, and stay in touch with people who have been supportive.

Develop short-term diversions.

Throughout the day, briefly immerse yourself in something that is 100% pleasing. I am a coffee person. I LOVE it! So, when I’m knee-deep in a project that I cannot abandon, I take a moment to brew a fresh cup of coffee. Aaaaaah! The aroma alone is a calming reward, and the step away from tasks helps to lighten the physical and mental load. Because you are a solopreneur, the burden of many administrivia-driven tasks is yours alone. It is amazing what 10 minutes away from the desk can do for your body and your mind.

How can we generate new ideas?

The self-inspired nature of the successful solopreneur feeds their ability to renew their own creativity. The solopreneurs competitive advantage rests in their ability to stay fresh and aware. Our ability to be creative is very relevant to our ability to embrace our inner child.  When we are entrenched in the demanding routines required to manage the tasks of a business, we can be swept away from the curiosity that inspired our original startup.

Reading, or if you are an audio person, listen, to materials that depict interesting images, explore new trends and viewpoints.

Irene Kelly, creator of JICT Images shares photographic images to inspire creativity at JICT Images.    (http://jictimages.com/). Another avenue to “shake off the cobwebs” on your creativity is to use some of the tools available online. CAUTION! Solopreneurs must calibrate time spent on indulgences to get creative with online tools. We know they are time suckers! So, set aside a block each week to “play” online.  Some great sites to nudge your brain are: Entrepreneur.com, Stumbleupon.com, Focus.com, and for writing,  explore the Plinky.com tool for prompts.

Revisit a (we suggest device-free) activity, something reflective, that takes you completely away from your routine for a few hours.

Your creativity is like a muscle; if you do not exercise it, it will atrophy.  Expose your eyes and ears to colorful, sensory provocative objects and activities. Frankly, some of my best ideas come after I have strolled around the local arts and crafts store, or a garden or “do it yourself” center. For me, there is little more liberating that making something with my hands, decorating a gift package, planting something, painting a piece of old furniture, or designing something with stone or glass.

Explore what experts are talking about.

Meet new people.

Get out of the office and yes, mingle. Cultivate your curiosity about other folks. Ask questions. Go to a conference. Travel and explore. And never be caught without a pen and paper!  Write down your wandering thoughts and observations. These notes are invaluable when you return to your office.

Nurture your curiosity and perspective of the world.

Be the person who wonders. What would happen if…? How does that work? There are endless possibilities if you observe circumstances in the world around you. Observe people and processes in a pragmatic way, and make notes.

How do we continue to work hard, especially when others are playing? 

Solopreneurs are uniquely motivated people who must embrace methods to stay inspired. The most satisfying outcomes are a result of working hard, using the most effective systems at our disposal, and putting in the long hours of service at our business. The commitment can sometimes be difficult when we are pressed by many more appealing options, especially entertaining ones.  So,

Develop willpower.

Like any skill, self-control can be learned. I know earlier that I mentioned reading. In her book, The Willpower Instinct, Kelly McGonigal provides activities, “Willpower experiments”, to help us to better use our ability for self-control. In the chapter, Your Body Was Born to Resist Cheesecake, Dr. McGonigal describes specific activities that can help when temptations are luring us away from necessary tasks, such as “The 5-Minute Green Willpower Fill-Up”—

  • Get out of the office and get to something green!
  • Cue up a favorite song on your iPod and walk/jog around the block.
  • Play with your dog, on the lawn.
  • Yard work or garden
  • Fresh air and stretches.
  • Anything outdoors—fresh air and green.

Visit your values. 

Because our priorities shift and we can become distracted, at FreyWorks & Associates, we use the Values Index Assessment to help our clients clarify what is most important to them. Based on Spranger and Allport’s studies of human value, motivation and drive, this brief activity provides deep insights into how we:

  • Set goals that are inspirational–Dream!
  • Create roles that are aligned with what motivates us.
  • Select jobs that are aligned with our unique talents.
  • Manage our performance.

Find out what makes you tick!

Learn more and experience the insights provided in the Values Index activity TODAY! Contact Dr. Deborah Frey at FreyWorks & Associates to sign up for this free assessment. Email at debfrey@freyworks.com.

Revisit your strategic plan.

Sometimes we need a refresher about our business.  Review your goals and your dreams. Remember, if you are working outside of your strategic plan, then you may need to reexamine your vision and evaluate your goals. Things change. Are you working smart, or simply working hard? Evaluate your processes and your time strategies.

Keep in mind that although you may not often get to “play hooky”, if you have aligned your business goals with your values, you will LOVE your work. When your work activities have meaning for you, it is fun. And, when you are doing what you do best, you will have fun. The key is to develop systems that help you get to the “fun” work.

Stay away from negative influences and negative people!

REALLY! When possible, find avenues to avoid negativity. As you participate in, or listen to, conversations, learn to detect negative patterns and move on. Just as positive attitudes influence and affect us, negative attitudes are infectious, truly highly contagious! If you permit critics to damage your momentum, you will burn precious hours and risk an injured ego.

Try these tips and learn more about the journey of solopreneurs on 30 Minute Business Dig with me, Deb Frey and my co-host, Lisa Kanda!

Solopreneurs, do you have a story, a technique, a strategy that may help others in their success quest?  Please share with us by sending your comments to debfrey@freyworks.com. Tell us how you manage your challenges and successes!

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Solopreneur: It’s About Time and Money

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Solopreneurs, a uniquely talented brand of business leaders, are creating a powerful enterprise community in the United States. Regardless of the inspiration, the promise of autonomy and potential profitability that rests solely on the strengths and talents of these lone rangers, and rangerettes, offers an appealing alternative to traditional business models. The challenges rest within the independent, self-governing model; solopreneurs do everything themselves. The solopreneur is, among many roles, the self-supervisor, marketing executive, sales professional, research and development department, production line, delivery system, and bookkeeper. Results rest firmly on the solopreneur’s ability to wrangle time and money management systems into a sustainable lifestyle and business.

The focus is on two fundamental principles: time and money. Although all business owners measure, streamline and evaluate revenues, weigh time investment, and develop strategies to avoid losses, because they are on their own, solopreneurs must challenge the traditional methods to realize profits. And with the competing priorities and demands of

various roles, focus can be fleeting and the bottom line of profitability and time management can slip away.

Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock

It’s about time. There are 60 minutes in each hour, 24 hours in each day. That’s it! We all experience the same quantity of time. Your 60 minutes can liberate you or trap you. Your perception of time (your personal reality of the time space) is critical to shape your view of your business landscape. Consider:

  • When you are working on a challenging, stimulating project where you are using your talents and you feel your skills kicking the tasks.  Time flies!
  • When you are bored, or struggling with a task that is unpleasant (something for which your skills or talent is not a match), you can feel frozen or like your feet weight 70 pounds each!
  • When you are under extreme deadline pressure without time to effectively accomplish what is needed in your window of time, your stress level can be crippling and can threaten your physical health.

Just as we develop our attitudes in early life about our interactions with others, determination, expectations, our potential, we also frame our attitudes about time. For example, think about scenarios in your early conditioning, from childhood. Consider the following situations:

  • If, in childhood, you experience, harsh criticism or punishments for making mistakes, it is likely that as an adult, you will be more inclined to play things safe—stick with safe/know tasks where you know what to do, and how long it will take. This does not work well for a solopreneur who, by the nature of their independence, must do many tasks, some that are very uncomfortable, some new, or that have an unknown time frame to accomplish.

If as a child you received unwarranted, surplus praise or accolades for achieving a simple task very quickly, with disregard for time or quality of work, then you may encounter planning problems to work within time constraints.

As children we gain rewards from obedience. These rewards define us as adults. Then, when we find that we cannot do everything that we are asked to do all of the time, we can feel like we are out of control, or even worse, we have failed.

Someone once shared this single driving thought that guides me through my more productive days; “If you have a time management system, regardless of the brand, use it!” And it is true. Many of us attend seminars, take courses, and purchase lovely binders and software tools to help us wrangle time in our days, but if the system stays in the box, or the file folder, it will not work.

Kathy Prochaska-Cue, Extension Family Economics Specialist, in her article, Thirteen Timely Tips for More Effective Time Management, shared some valuable and practical guidance for all of us. For example,

Invest Time for Planning: To Do, or Not To Do

Solopreneurs, if you are not planning, you are reducing your own expectations for success.

Yes, “To Do” listing can help to begin each day in a purposeful way. As you reflect on each day, write down what has been accomplished toward the goals of your plans. Then, identify goals to accomplish tomorrow. Before you sleep or over breakfast, write them down!  Remember, a goal that is not written, will not be achieved.

Tip: Goals drive purposeful lives and build businesses. Solopreneurs must build each day in a purposeful way to optimize all of their resources. Your coach can help you to identify resources and design planning tools that work best for you. Use your tools every day. Daily planning is foundational to fuel your business engine.

Practice (Your Version) of Intelligent Neglect. All of us have trivial tasks that consume many hours from our productive days.  These tasks have no long-term consequences, yet we can easily dive into them to avoid more challenging, intellectually or physically demanding tasks. Take a very close look at your “To Do” list for tomorrow. Identify the tasks which you alone can do.

Flexibility and Your Biological Prime Time

Build your days for interruptions and distractions. Experts suggest planning for just 50 percent or less of your timeframe. Interruptions happen. Flexibility to field the interruptions and emergencies with 50 percent of your time planned. Also, implement routine activities for blocks of time when you might expect interruptions. Identify and reserve larger blocks of time for more complex or creatively-driven activities.

Reflect on your internalized habits. Are you a “morning person”, a “night owl”, or are you brilliant in the afternoon? Tap into your psychological and physical best hours for the most demanding work in your business.  This is a two-fold activity.  First, what areas of your business require more intellectually demanding energy from you? In other words, what kinds of activities challenge your mind and require complete focus? What physical part of your work is most taxing and when are you physically at your best? Second, determine when you feel most fatigued, mentally or physically? At what time of day do you fight the temptation to take a nap?  Use your hour-to-hour calendar tool to track your habits (or temptations for distraction). When you have analyzed your habit trends, you can more effectively plan your best “To Do” tools. Your business coach can help with all aspects of goal planning and developing a personalized time strategy to most effectively support your solopreneur challenges.

Nobody’s Perfect!

Beware of the minutia that can suck your time and deplete your energy for very necessary duties. For example, many seminar or workshop speakers will use a creative tool such as a website or PowerPoint slides to enhance the presentation. Preparation for the event includes materials, rehearsal, staging, as well as, enhancements.  Too often presenters will obsess with graphic materials, “the crayons” of this craft, to build a perfect visual aid, as they fail to fully develop other aspects of the job. Unnecessary attention to detail is another form of procrastination. In other words, a focus on the artwork is easier to do than writing content for the marketing flyer. Consequently, the marketing flyer is late to print.

Concentrate on doing the right thing. And as we are reminded by the great Peter Drucker, doing the right thing is about your best, most effective actions; doing things right is about efficiency, use of minimal resources to deliver the product or service. First, concentrate on effectiveness (identify the right thing to do), then focus on efficiency (doing it right).

The Pricing Puzzle

How do you determine the value of your product or service? Are the charges covering your invested time and resources?

Solopreneurs, you are a one-person team. One hour you are a web-designer, the next hour, you are a sales professional, the next hour may find you working at a local charity! You invest yourself each day, sometimes thinly, to accomplish more goals than many people expect to accomplish in one week. You effectively multitask, think and move quickly. However, simply because you have the expertise, skills, and physical capabilities to do many tasks in a short time, and that you can easily access information quickly, should not diminish the market value of these amazing abilities.

As a solopreneur, by necessity, your system of delivery is designed within a comfortable framework to accomplish more with less. You are able to design complex services and do the manual tasks of packaging or assembling materials. Time truly is money. Your ability to streamline a process adds value to the delivered product or service. There are many preparation techniques to help you frame activities, compress the sales process, and price your offerings. A business coach can help you with:

  • Crafting your conversations with prospects to derive the goals (the needs or wants) and avoid meandering conversations that lack direction
  • Focusing on information that can help to support the purchase of your service or product
  • Examining your market, the distinctions (nuances that differentiate you) for the kinds of products or services that you sell
  • Evaluating and comparing other resources and businesses that offer what you do
  • Developing realistic foundations and boundaries for delivery such as; preparation of materials, assembly time, the administrivia involved in details, and, travel or medium (equipment, e-media, getting there and back)
  • Creating easy to understand, complete pricing tools with options for the buyer.

Always remember, there are many factors that influence a buying decision; price, convenience, and attentive service. If you have determined a price that is competitive, and the consumer believes your product or service has the value that they seek, price is a non-issue, but other factors may affect the buying decision. To sustain the competitive edge you must study your business, invest in your prospect relationships, and stay current with your competition.

You, the Solopreneur, and Your Follower: It’s not easy, but it doesn’t have to be so hard

As a solopreneur, your leadership abilities have never been more critical. What? You are flying solo, so why are we talking about leadership? As the leader of your business and captain of your life, your closest follower, YOU, is the contrarian, the challenger. Your ability to thrive in business hinges on your talent to self-lead and, to create and utilize fluid, agile delivery systems.

When you have the ability to lead yourself, so be self-guided and self-inspired, all goals are easier to achieve. Executive Leadership and Entrepreneurial Leadership and Strategic Thinking coaching processes can help you thrive as a solopreneur. Contact FreyWorks & Associates Consulting, LLC at debfrey@freyworks.com to learn more about this specialized coaching process and enjoy a FREE opportunity for a one-on-one assessment via telephone or Skype!

Also, check out our recent broadcast series, How to Soar as a Solopreneur, on 30 Minute Business Dig on BlogTalkRadio.com! Dr. Deborah Frey, FreyWorks & Associates, and Lisa Kanda, of Elkay Corporate Advisors, provide powerful nuggets of value to improve your personal and professional life!

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Why Do We Hide? Because We Can!

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Accountability = Insurance policy to show up, or not.

Accountability, integrity, credibility, caring, helpfulness; all qualities we seek in others. These attributes are critical players in success-driven relationships in the workplace. And yet, people continue to disappoint.

  • People hide. They scurry from responsibility.
  • People shrink away from challenging work.
  • They show up late, or not at all.

Consider the plight of small business owner, an entrepreneur, who  needs to hire right, as the great Jim Collins told us, “get the right people on the bus”.  Many entrepreneurs, who strive to implement their best, most expeditious hiring techniques, may not have the resources, or time, to thoroughly vet a candidate. After credentials are reviewed and interviews have ended, owners often “follow their gut” and hope they have somehow accurately identified some aligned values in the new hire. Sometimes the process works out. Sometimes it doesn’t.

As expert Gary Klein, of Klein Associates, Inc., stresses, “Let go of the idea of the perfect answer. You cannot possibly get all the info, nor can you foretell the future and calculate all the risks.”  So owners choose, train, and hope that their systems are in place to cultivate  an engaged, passionate worker.

Accountability

Whether we are developing a new employee or working to help a team member improve their performance, one fundamental principle drives their potential: accountability. Regardless of the tasks or goals, when people enter a relationship with their believed understanding that they are responsible for the outcome, they are more likely to perform better. With the truth, a clear understanding of where they must go, they will show up. They will try. And, they will value the rewards, and manage the consequences, of their results. In his book, Stepping Up: How Taking Responsibility Changes Everything, Dr. John Izzo draws some highlights from neuroscience research, that we change our brain, our thought processes, when we take responsibility for our actions. Accountability strengthens the potential for high performers.

Be a Trust Builder

If you want to create a sense of ownership, of responsible, creative behaviors in your organization, the relationship balance hinges on trust-building. Leaders must exercise and demonstrate  integrity. In practice, design performance requirements with clear framework, direct guidance:  What is needed or desired? Who will be achieving the goal? How will we know when the goal is met? What is the time frame to fully satisfy the goal?

Never assume anything! Expecially, with new hires. Conversation is critical to help establish expectations and  tap into creativity.  Charles Feltman, author of Trust: An Essential Primer for Building Trust at Work, describes the hazards of “drive-by requests”, when the “yes” is assumed, can be a source of broken trust. Leaders must remember that stellar performance is a result of engaged thinking, consensus on expectations, and a strong commitment to develop people. Trust. High performance teams are strengthened with trust. People will step up. They will strive to create and improve their results, and they will form lasting, rewarding  commitments.

 

 

 

Klein featured in article, Reinvention Strategy, Oprah Magazine online.  http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Reinvention-Strategies-Follow-Your-Gut

 

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The Road Less Traveled: Solopreneurs, Are YOU Prepared for Success?

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Are you considering the leap into business ownership?

Today’s solopreneur is maneuvering around and through obstacles and challenging conditions on their “Road Less Traveled”.  And although many people believe that solo-driven business would be the proverbial “dream come true” for independent thinkers, successful solopreneurs understand that the path is NOT for everyone. In fact, solopreneurship is so much more than business ownership–It is a life conversion that requires passionate commitment. Solopreneurs must answer these questions:

  • Am I prepared for the challenges, the fluid conditions, of business ownership today?
  • And, am I prepared for my success?

More than any other organizational player, solopreneurs can achieve high levels of personal and professional success if they enter the competitive business environment with conviction, resourcefulness, and, most importantly, self-awareness.

As today’s solopreneurs begin their journey with a better understanding of their natural talents, and their unique attributes, they will be equipped to make the most of their resources and their abilities. Let’s find out how you can be better prepared and ready to navigate the challenging road of entrepreneurship. For the solopreneur, the “Road Less Traveled” twists and turns through a highly competitive matrix of strategies, relationship-building, sustainability, and cash-flow challenges. It’s NOT easy!

Some serious contemplation and thoughtful analysis is absolutely necessary to determine personal readiness, and to find direction armed with the necessary confidence for the challenges, and rewards, of success.

As our good friend, Jay Niblick, author of What’s Your Genius: How the Best Think for Success, tells us, something amazing happens when an entrepreneur becomes self-aware of his/her natural talents, and when they use their talents authentically.  It is not about fixing who we are, it’s about trusting who we are, and letting our natural talents deliver. And, it is important to acknowledge that there are only two kinds of talent: natural and acquired. When our talents are aligned with what we are doing, we are equipped for success. To better understand our natural talents, we must examine our internal qualities that serve as driving indicators. In other words, our growth as a person and our success as a solopreneur depends greatly on our ability to examine all parts of our life to see if they add up to the total person we want to be.

So, what do you need to know about your Critical Success attributes? In other words, what do you need to know about you that is crucial for your business to succeed?

Considering your attitude toward honesty: Can you handle the truth?

  • Can I hear the brutal truth? Can I appreciate all of the truthful information that is shared with me?
  • Will I use the truth in a reasonable, generous way to help my company?
  • Do I seek opportunities for truthful conversations with others?
  • Or, do I tend to avoid thoughtful interactions with others?
  • Do I know how to develop and reinforce trusting relationships?

What is my attitude toward others?  

  • Do I enjoy achieving results with other people?
  • How am I most satisfied with my work? Doing it all myself? Or, working with a high-performing team?
  • Can I develop other people to be effective as my business grows? Or, will I be better served to hire coaches or trainers for support?

How do I feel about standards?

  • Can I determine quality standards that will serve my customers, clients, and partners?
  • Will I consistently meet those standards? How will I do it?
  • What is my system to align my company with customer-driven practices? Do I need to reach out to a partner who can help with strategic planning?

What about my personal commitment?

  • Am I able to embrace the balance required to achieve business success?
  • How will I align my personal and professional life?
  • What actions will I take to ensure that business goals are achieved, and that personal relationships are nurtured and preserved?

Another area that can be a challenge for solopreneurs is Getting Results. Consider the following questions:

  • How do I feel about being accountable for myself, or for the performance/nonperformance of others?
  • Do I struggle with attention to detail? Or, am I able to release control so that others may fulfill detail tasks?
  • No one can make me consistent or reliable. How will I commit and act to achieve consistent, reliable results?
  • Do I allow myself to be goal-driven? How do I structure my goals?
  • Do I have a tendency to be project and goal focused?
  • Am I results-driven and do I consistently make deadlines?

Consider the important requirement for solopreneurs to interact with others. Your ability to effectively interact with people can significantly impact your potential for success. However, not all solopreneurs or entrepreneurs are “People people”. In other words, many people are simply shy when the opportunity to network or share a space is available. Fact, entrepreneurs and solopreneurs need people to help promote their company and to buy their products and services.

Some questions for you:

  • What is my attitude toward other people?
  • Am I free from personal prejudices?
  • Do I have realistic expectations towards others; customers, business partners, employees, agency representatives?
  • Am I inclined to willingly surrender control to others?

One of the most challenging activities in our lives is our ability to make decisions. Every day solopreneurs must be able to confidently make decisions. Some examples of questions about decision making that you must answer to better understand your success attributes are:

  • How am I at conceptual thinking? Do I possess strong envisioning skills?
  • Am I able to quickly identify reliable resources?
  • How well do I hear, listen and follow directions?
  • Am I able to visualize a possible problem? How am I at theoretical problem solving?
  • What are my tendencies and attributes of my personal intuitive decision making style?
  • How is my common sense? Am I able to focus and listen to internal signals to make the best decisions?

The answers to these questions, and hundreds more, can provide deep insights about our natural talents.  When we understand and embrace our business challenges with self-assurance and direction, our performance is focused and amplified.

How can you find answers these questions? How can you identify your unique natural talents that will fuel and support your ongoing success?

Rely on proven assessment tools to guide and inform your process. Seek certified analysts and coaches with the skills to identify patterns that inform and prepare you for the important decision you face in your business.

Learn more about this discussion that will help guide and inform you about your natural talents on: “How to Soar as a Solopreneur: The Road Less Traveled” on 30 Minute Business Dig with Deborah Frey and Lisa Kanda on BlogTalkRadio.com. And, as a part of this series, we are offering an opportunity for you to participate in the Innermetrix® Attribute Index assessment, including a free 30-minute debrief session. The Attribute Index is a quick assessment that will clarify your answers to these questions and provide deep insights about your unique natural talents. Essentially, the AI provides clarity about your  personal, practical, and analytical decision making styles; how you make decisions in high velocity mode (when things are happening fast).  Your unique AI will indicate how you operate at your best.

Don’t delay! Begin your self-awareness journey now! Contact Deborah Frey at debfrey@freyworks.com to schedule this free online activity and coaching session. You will begin the journey that will give you the self-assurance to build and grow your business, and balance your life!

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