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Archive for January, 2010

Yep, my Dad calls me the Raccoon Hunter… not because I strap on my gun and actively hunt these guys (Although I must brag that I AM the best “shot” in my family!!) but because they always seem to find my car when I’m driving the rural roads where I grew up – and now live. I grew up on a plot of land called the Ballahack Road “farmettes”. I learned to drive well before it was legal for me to do so, and began to learn the “rules of the road” very early. In such a rural area, other cars on the road were a rare find, but animals on the road presented a daily hazard. I had many close calls – with deer, raccoons, dogs, cats, opossum, and even a cow.

Even in the midst of those adrenaline pumping close calls, I was always amazed by the power of focus… and the power of distraction. You see, those animals had a purpose for crossing the road. I am not always sure what it was, but they had some place they were going. If only they had kept their focus, and kept running, there would have been no close call. However, as soon as they see or hear the car coming, they FREEZE. They lose their focus on their original goal (whatever it was) and focus instead on the distraction.

I can’t tell you the number of times I have been like those animals. I seem to have had the best laid plans, that “somehow” get derailed by distraction. This is a very common stumbling block for women business owners, in particular. It seems that we have so much going on, that “life” gets in our way. Goals that once seemed right around the corner fade slowly into our own personal “idea and opportunity graveyards”. I knew I was capable of the success I desired.

So, what was separating me from the other successful business owners I knew or read about? What did they have that I didn’t have? What did they DO that I didn’t do? I found that the answer rested in the HABIT of SUPERIOR focus.

Remember… the type of committed FOCUS I am talking about is not something the successful have been born with and you – without. It is not something inborn, but something CREATED… day by day. Therefore, it is available to all of us. Every distraction ignored is a “win”. Every focused hour is a major “win”. Soon, you will begin to form your own (very profitable) HABIT of FOCUS.

WOW! Factor Tips to TRY:

1.) Keep a log of what (activities, people, emotions, etc.) distracts you. Much like going on a diet, we have to know where we typically “mess things up”. When you identify your distractions, it will be easier to plan for them so they no longer derail your progress.

2.) For those “common distractions” like returning phone calls, extended family obligations, etc., plan a time to take care of these things. When you have a plan to handle these distractions, they can be on your schedule and off of your mind.

3.) There can be no focus when there is no CLARITY. So, be VERY clear about where you are going and WHY so that you can weigh and align EACH activity with your core purpose and goals. A common question for me is: Is this taking me closer to one of my goals? This is a YES or NO answer… making it much easier for me to delegate my time.

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“If you hang around 9 dead-broke people, you are certain to be the 10th”- Zig Ziglar

Today a new client spoke with me about a speaking engagement she just secured… a VERY exciting gig… and she will be speaking about the POWER of a Mastermind. Indeed, the power of a group… the power of association… the power of collective creation…are all harnessed in a truly effective MasterMind to create one of the most under-used, but wildly effective environments for growing success. But, be careful!!

Because, if not run, managed and grown wisely – a MasterMind can become a master nightmare. Be very careful who you choose to have in your group. Make sure you choose people who are of like-mind and people who are really UP TO something.

Again, it goes back to being extremely selective WHO you learn from. Just recently, Tory Johnson (of Good Morning America and founder of Women For Hire) and I launched FIVE tele-seminar series for various (very niched) groups of small business owners. For more information, you can check it out here: http://www.toryjohnson.com/coach.html For only $195 you have the opportunity to learn from us directly… ask questions.. have us critique your site, your online presence, your self-published book or even your idea for a book.

Tory is one of only 3% of woman business owners who consistently break the $one million$ dollar mark in business revenue and I am on my way. Worth learning from? You betcha! YET, some people just don’t get it.

I saw a thread on a very popular website about the seminar series I am telling you about now. There was a lady who “couldn’t grasp” spending a WHOPPING $195 to learn from Tory.  After all… she isn’t IN their industry. What could THEY possibly learn from HER? This ill informed lady is suffering from the number one POOREST EXCUSE for not implementing proven success tips in your business.

First, she’s right. Tory (nor I) are in her industry. YET, we know that selling is selling is selling. Next, BOTH Tory and I are customers of MANY in her industry.. we both buy from  people selling on the very website containing this thread…so we know WHY we buy and how they can re-create our WHY into their ongoing marketing and sales strategy. (And we’ll be showing them HOW.)

But, this lady’s “fatal business flaw”? She is falling into the “my business is different trap”. YOUR BUSINESS ISN’T DIFFERENT!! (**One notable exception below**)  No matter what you sell, you must become a master marketer of that “thing” or service. Period. 

 So, learn from whoever can give you a hand up … into higher levels of success and profitability. Don’t stay locked into your own industry guru’s…. explore new frontiers and see what you can borrow, bring back, and implement successfully.

**Exception: If you are a coach…you can not afford to network and market the way others do.  These activities will often be counter-productive for you.  Instead, email me at michelle@womenwhowow.com for my Proper Care and Feeding of a Coaching Practice report.  It’s free and will be available for you on Friday, January 29th.**

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BEWARE the Professional FLASHER

A flasher is slang for a person, especially a man who exposes his genitals suddenly, and usually briefly in public…. And there is much we can learn from this pervert in terms of business success. =) =) Stay with me, please…

I was motivated to write this amusing (and I think, really innovative) blog post after a completely engaged and empowering MasterMind meeting held in Chesapeake this week. (For more information about my new local offerings, email me directly at michelle@womenwhowow.com.)

Back to the flasher: These “flashers” we occasionally hear about in the news seem to go out with one objective: to expose themselves publicly. For whatever reason, this “exposure” gives them a thrill of some sort. It is about THEM, and what THEY want. There is no thought or consideration given to their “victims” and this abrupt exposure is not about creating relationship or anything mutual at all. We get it…so what can we learn from it?

We need to ask ourselves if our networking efforts are turning us into “professional” flashers… where we rehearse a two minute commercial – delivering it the EXACT same way no matter WHO we are talking to…. And then flash our business card before moving on to the next “victim”. WHOA… how one-sided, how non-relational, how abrupt, and how much more “ABOUT ME” can we get?

Yet, we see these “flashers” at every business networking event we attend. How can you AVOID “flasher” syndrome? Here are some quick tips:

 • Throw out your two-minute commercial entirely. They are passé, one-sided and sound ridiculous when you repeat it over and over again with the same painted on grin and feigned enthusiasm. SURE, you should KNOW how to boil down what you do for your market… but do it relationally. Your answer to “What do you do?” should be targeted to the person you are talking to. The “seed” of more clients is in the conversation… it should be two-sided and it shouldn’t end with you chirping out your name and business name. UGG!

Leave Your Business Cards at Home. You already know blanketing an event with your business card is Ineffective… You’ve tried it already. Take their card instead and build in some follow up. Let them talk about THEM… let them give YOU their business card. You can always follow up with a hand –written card and your business card later.

GO DEEP. We all know and accept that business comes from people who know, like and trust you. So, build solid relationships … going DEEP (quality) rather than WIDE (quantity). When you are moving throughout these networking events, don’t graze the surface by flashing those pearly whites and a business card. If this is what you are doing, you already know you’d be just as profitable by staying home. Go deep instead. Build relationships. Focus on the person – not the business. Be authentic… not plastic.

I think I may just start PROFESSIONAL FLASHERS ANONYMOUS… for those who are dying to break out of their flashing habit and start making some real money through relational marketing!! =)

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Lessons from MY Parents

I have been reading The Trump Card by Ivanka Trump.  In it, she relays completely practical business and career advice as if she is talking to a friend… and gives an intimate view of what she learned from her parents (and how).  The book is an incredible read, but it got me thinking. 

I ALSO learned gobs from my parents.  They are driven, successful, and firmly routed in reality.  They are supportive, encouraging, and instilled in me a confidence far beyond my actual abilities!  =) They have a love story to learn so much from… and were committed to family above all else.  The success truths I have gleaned from them need to be shared… So, I started asking myself, “Why wait until I have a name like “TRUMP” to share my own TRUMP CARD?”  

So from now on, I will be sharing- periodically- truths I’ve learned from my own parents.  The first one is in this post: http://wp.me/ph5D8-5Z  and includes a quote I heard my Dad say so often.  Like the Donald, my Dad is in real estate. He is a General Contractor. Like the Donald, he has built his success working (at times) around the clock.  Like the Donald, he is a wise business man and doesn’t shy away from risk. 

My Dad and Me

 Unlike the Donald, however, he is a one-woman man and has had eyes only for my Momma since they were 13 years old.  Unlike the Donald, he often was able to work OVER-NIGHT and this allowed him to spend much more time with us at home – at the cost of any normal sleep schedule, of course.  And unlike the Donald, he WASNT driven to school in a Rolls Royce.  Instead, he grew up on the “poor” side of working class with a single Mom  – whom he appreciates more than she probably knows.  He was a super-involved father – before Dads were expected to be more than an “income stream” at home.  If he had a nickname, it would be SuperMan and he has GOT to be one of the strongest, most determined men in the world. 

Why tell you about him?  BEcause there is much to learn about success from a man who has “the Donald” mindset, yet is still so relatable to most of America.

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Whoever who watches the wind will not plant 

whoever watches the clouds will not reap.” – Ecclesiastes 11:4

I hate to see business owners either WAIT for perfect conditions (or the perfect idea) to launch or spending a bunch of money on branding, marketing materials, etc. just coming out of the gate.  The reason goes back to something I’ve heard my Dad say sooooo many times in my life:

DO SOMETHING, EVEN IF IT’S WRONG.

It seems he had this winning idea far before Nike grabbed the Just Do IT power phrase by the horns.  But the point is, we need to be free to EXPLORE in business… especially when our businesses are “young”.  We shouldn’t be so fearful of starting out “wrong” or “ill equipped” that we never start at all.  Likewise, we should never invest heavily (emotionally and financially)   in an idea or business before taking it to “market” to see if it’s something your market is intrested in paying you for!   This sounds like common sense, but so many entrepreneurs get it backwards.  They FEAR entering the market without everything done “correctly”, being professionally branded, having the right website, the right office space, expensive marketing materials or a fancy phone system designed to “mimic” big business. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a thousand more times… But ACTION (More specifically:  quick, strategic, consistent, daily action.) is the only real secret to success in any endeavor.  Take action and know that the market allows for u-turns, do-overs and REinventions.   You can always start again.  So go ahead and do something today…. even if it’s wrong. **wink**

 

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I remember sitting with an incredibly talented and innovative colleague for lunch when he shared with me how an initiative he had been looking to launch was “stolen” by someone he trusted… name, concept and all.  My friend wasn’t emotionally hi-jacked by the situation, but simply determined to learn from it, and move on with an even BETTER idea and strategic plan.  But, it brings up something I see so often –not only in the small business arena, but also in corporate America:  This “competitive” spirit  and fear of collaboration. 

I remember growing up on the “Ballahack Road Farmettes” in rural Virginia with my ONE female friend in the area.  She and I didn’t so much “choose” our friendship.  We were the only girls for miles and stuck together largely because of that.  (An incredible friendship did develop, of course, and I am deeply grateful for her.)  Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of “structured time” and had to make up our own “stuff”.  We made believe that we were orphaned and had to take care of ourselves in the wilderness.  We battled rattlesnakes and won.  (My apologies to www.jbsrattles.com.  This is before you educated me.)  We discovered and searched abandoned houses and saved many deer by successfully thwarting the “baiting” attempts of local hunters.  (Much to my Dad’s dismay.)

We created all sorts of games, challenges, modeling videos, stories, and even ran a few VERY successful  “private investigator” stings as we got older.  **wink** But one of our favorite things was our “P.A.”, or our private apartment.  Granted, the “private apartment” was little more than a clearing we made with our machettis in the middle of a bunch of bamboo shoots and overgrown weeds.  But, it was ours, it was secret, and we were particularly proud of our creation.  Yet, with all of our exploits, creations, songs we wrote, or games we made up, I can’t for the life of me ever remember us ever competing for ownership… figuring out who came up with what.  It was assumed that we both contributed to our stuff… It was assumed (although certainly never spoken) that we were better “creators” together than we were apart.  And so we were. 

Today, I have a friend whom I create professionally with… We share contacts, opportunities, and rewards.  There are times when she is in the limelight, and times when it the light is on me.  There are times when I encourage her, push her, challenge her, and call her to the carpet, and times when she does the same for me.  Sometimes these conversations are friendly, funny and enjoyable.  Other times, not so much.  Either way, whether anyone knows it at the beginning or not, we are a team… FAR more valuable together than we are apart. 

While we all have the opportunity to create, enjoy and build success through these intimate collaborations. FAR too many of us allow FEAR to prohibit these collaborations from growing to their full capacity.  People who fear losing opportunity, “credit” or profit through collaboration with others operate in a “Lone Ranger” mentality and will lose out in the end.  It is a simple and profound and guaranteed truth.  There is NO ROOM for “lone rangers” at the top of any industry, company or community.

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Every Tuesday morning I wake up at 4:30 AM. With groggy inefficiency, I get my workout clothes on and brave the cold for a 5:15 Spin Class at my gym. This morning, the instructor breathlessly hollered out something that really resonated with me. This is what she said,

 “What did you wake up early for? Be sure you get what you came for!”

There is so much wisdom, inspiration and a practical challenge in those few words. For one, it assumes PURPOSE. It assumes that you were UP to something when you woke up early to start your day “spinning”. Next, it projects full responsibility and demands action. You see, when you are cycling, you encounter various hills, jumps and steep climbs. You feel like giving up… taking it easy… coasting. YET, these words remind you that you had a purpose for waking up. They remind you that no one is coming to give you the goals you aspire to achieve. You must go after them yourself. And, the words demand action…You must pedal harder and faster to “break through” a particularly difficult climb. And you can always break through – but only as a result of your own efforts.

What a powerful success lesson in my spin class this morning!!! I left re-invigorated and inspired and challenged to “get what I came for”. Here are the commitments I challenge you to make this week:

• PURPOSE – Have a purpose for going to “work”. KNOW what you want to achieve – BEFORE – you enter your daily “to do” list. Don’t leave your life or your business to chance. There is too much at stake for such a passive approach. Determine ahead of time what you came for. If you don’t have a purpose that pulls you forward and demands your best, just roll over and go back to bed.

• RESPONSIBILITY – We all have challenges we encounter when we are truly “up to” something. If not, we would all be thin, wealthy, and happily engaged in this ride called life.  But the results you see right now are yours alone – good, bad, ugly, exciting, or disappointing. If you are to see a breakthrough in 2010 or a realization of your (hopefully audacious) goals, it will be because you had clarity of purpose and a dogged determination to “get what you came for”. Here’s a tip I learned from Steve Chandler of http://www.clubfearless.net. No one is coming. It’s up to you.

 • ACTION – To have a breakthrough of any kind (financial, physical, spiritual, relational, whatever) will require you to do more than you did before. It will require you to pedal harder and faster to make it over the same hill that defeated you in the past…. You CAN beat, defeat, or move around any obstacle in your path… but it will cost you. ACTION: the only TRUE secret to success.

If you’re willing, join me for a year of PURPOSE, PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, and ACTION. 2010 will not break me, intimidate me, or have me roll over and play dead when things get tough, scary, or uncertain. Because I can always pedal faster, harder. I can always respond, take action and create results.

BTW, I’m so thankful you are with me. If I were alone on this journey of entrepreneurship, it’d be a lot less rewarding. To US!

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