I used to work for a fairly large company in their business marketing division. The division president was an extremely difficult person to work with, for his direct reports on down to us in the support areas.
Joe (not his real name) would review sales figures by the hour, not the day. As a micro-manager, if sales were not keeping up with his expectations, he would scold, shame, and yell. He'd remind everyone, usually red-faced and shouting, how easily they could be replaced. As I recall, he did not focus on trends but on specific numbers. A month's sales could be excellent, but day to day, he'd yell if that day's goals were not met.
The business culture was, of course, fear. And as I've come to understand decades later, not only did Joe create fear within his division, but his own anger hid a deep fear within himself. Fear of not doing it right, fear of failure, fear of his own superiors and of losing his job.
I wonder what sales would have resulted from a culture of support, excitement, and teamwork. "We're in this together...how can we support each other?"
Whether you're a solo-preneur or work in mainstream business, is the business culture positive or fearful? Within your own area of control, how can you contribute to a positive experience? Remember, what you focus on grows. Can you focus today on something good? Can you support a co-worker? Can you smile at someone at the coffee station?
Every small act of kindness has a powerful effect. Use your power wisely!
As a heart-based business owner, you have YOUR work to do, the reason you started on your path to begin with. You're an intuitive, healer, psychic, medium, counselor, coach...or some other helping profession. But in order to be successful, you have to do more than just that work!
So how can you fit all this into your schedule? Easy answer: DELEGATE!
The trick is to first know what you want to delegate, and then where to turn.
Whoever you settle on as an assistant, be sure that the person "GETS" you...understands the spiritual/energetic/metaphysical work you do. Be sure the person is talented/experienced at the tasks you especially want to delegate. Just as you would when hiring an actual employee, have a face-to-face interview (at least via video chat if not in person) to be sure you feel good about who they are and what they do.
Clearly communicate all aspects of the tasks you want done: deadlines, level of quality, the purpose of the task, your mission, how you will communicate (chat, text, email, etc.), how often. Get references, and have a fair retainer fee in mind.
Remember this...when you delegate 5 hours a week to an experienced staff member, you're really adding about 10 hours a week to your own calendar! How much is your time worth, and how many more people can you help in those 10 hours?
Quick grammar lesson from The Grammar Guru. Wait - don't go away, it'll be fun!
There's a common subject/object error I hear every single day. It seems to be more of a verbal thing than written, and something that can lead to judgment about the quality of the speaker's education or intelligence. (Yes, I know judgment is usually a bad thing, however in professional circumstances you still need to be professionally correct.)
"Steve and me had a meeting." Wrong! Here's why. Go back to your elementary school English class for a minute. Steve is the subject of the sentence. The word "me" holds the place of a subject, but the word "me" is never, ever a subject word - only an object.
Here's how to test it. Take away the "me" and see what you're left with. "Steve had a meeting." Cool! Replace "Steve" with "me" - "Me had a meeting." Not so much! So, that test teaches you that the sentence should be "Steve and I had a meeting." When you take either subject away, it still makes sense.
The opposite error is made just as often...subjects in the place of objects. "My parents came to visit John and I." Use that test again. "My parents came to visit John." Great! "My parents came to visit I." Again, not so much!
Now, if you're chatting with a friend and make one of these common errors, it's not all that important (except I'll cringe if I hear it). But if you're writing a report, or speaking with a colleague, or asking for a job, you will likely sound uneducated. Sounds harsh, but it's true.
Practice noticing your speech and train yourself to avoid these common errors, and you won't need to be concerned about it in a professional setting!
I'll bet you know a couple of people who are very gifted in some way...a superb artist or singer, a powerful healer, a talented mechanic. We could debate for hours on what "gift" means, whether it's a gift from God/Universe as a trait from birth, or whether it's something learned...that old nature/nurture debate.
The fact remains, though, that although we all may know how to do something (use a paintbrush or a screwdriver), we may not be able to do it well, or intuitively.
In these cases, the gift is the intuition, the effortlessness of the action. When you use your gift, you don't have to think hard about what needs to be done, you just do it.
I've finally come to realize that my gift (yes, I'm tooting my own horn) is in editing. Aside from understanding the right/wrong of proofreading, when I edit I just somehow know what words could be changed or phrasing tweaked to perfectly express an author's idea. I can actually feel the energy of words. I couldn't begin to explain it or teach it...it's an innate ability in my brain and my spirit. Words are my "thing" and I'm blessed to be able to share that gift with others.
I'd love to hear your examples and stories of how gifted people you know use their talents. Please share!
Have you ever noticed two people having a conversation but neither is hearing the other? I have experienced that myself - haven't we all? Did you realize there are levels of comprehension involved?
Hearing is, of course, the mechanical, physical act of perceiving sound. You hear words and comprehend them. Listening is active...you pay attention to what you are hearing. You focus, sit in silence, and take in the words and their meaning, while observing subtle cues like facial expressions and body language.
Understanding is another level entirely. What you take in is not always what is expressed. You each come from your own unique viewpoint, history, communication styles, and word usage.
To communicate effectively in a conversation, you can check in with the other person to validate what you're understanding. "What I hear you saying is...." "So, you think that...." You may find that you either missed a point, or misunderstood entirely, and this gives the other person a chance to reword their message.
Too often in our culture we listen with the intent to respond. Of course conversation is a give-and-take exchange, but true listening has the intent to understand, not always respond. Worst of all is when someone responds with, "Well, I...." Immediately turning the focus on yourself completely negates the message of the other person.
A form of listening also occurs in written exchanges like text or email. Using the correct words in the correct context, tailoring your message for your audience, and asking for feedback can help smooth the path to clear understanding. As a "listener" to a written conversation, be sure to read carefully and take the time for full comprehension before responding.
Becoming more mindful in conversation, both written and verbal, can lead to clearer understanding and better relationships!
I admit it...I can sometimes be a workaholic - antsy if there's nothing to do, easily bored, rarely take breaks.
Then I learned the cost of being that way - constant stress, shallow breathing, loss of focus, health issues.
What I learned from my body, mind, and spirit from these lessons is this: the American culture of "very busy" is damaging to the entire body system.
When the mind and body are goingdon'tstopgottarushhurryhurry, the body creates stress hormones in the body, which cause any number of undesirable effects. Ironically, the body's attempts to cope add another layer of stress...a vicious cycle indeed.
I have known parents whose children are always on the go as well, rushing from school to a sports activity to practice to tryouts to homework. These children are being taught workaholism, rather than healthy balance.
Here's what I've learned. Take breaks! Set a firm schedule for yourself which includes frequent breaks.
For five minutes each hour, stand up and stretch, look out your window, and let your gaze and your mind wander. Drink some water. Take a deep breath, then refocus on work.
For 15 minutes every three hours, do the same, but add some physical movement. Even a fast-paced trot around the house or office, or some TaiChi or Yoga, can make a huge difference in your stress levels.
Take a lunch break! You do yourself NO favors by mindlessly chowing down on something at your desk. Away from your office, eat a healthy meal, preferably of fresh, live foods. Eat mindfully, savoring the textures and flavors. Eat gratefully, appreciating that you have access to this healthy and delicious food.
It's not just important to schedule breaks during your day, but also on a bigger scale. Take at least one day off from your work, truly off, not thinking and planning, but being present in the REST of your life. Schedule, take and enjoy vacations...unplug from the workload and technology.
Do you find yourself responding to this advice with, "Who has time for that?" Then you especially need to follow it! By honoring your body, mind, and spirit in these ways, you'll find you get far more done and feel better doing it.
Avoid the long-term effects of stress on the body. Take a break!
Even speaking as an editor/proofreader and as The Grammar Guru, I have to say in all honesty that grammatical perfection is overrated. "Always" is, in my estimation, an impossible goal, and usually is inappropriate.
Let me explain.
If you follow me on social media, you know that I constantly urge followers to carefully spell check and proofread their business writing, regardless of the medium. Whether a social media post, blog post, article, or email, you will be judged (right or wrong, like it or not) on how you come across to prospects. You may appear careless or ignorant when neither is true.
And yet your authentic style of communicating may be casual, friendly, and all your own. Using ellipses (...) rather than dashes or commas may be your "thing" and there is nothing wrong with that. Using words and phrases in a way that is authentic to you but not necessarily perfect AP style is just fine. You will reach those people who are drawn to not only what you say, but how you say it. Bottom line: be authentic!
There are basic rules of conduct, however: using their/they're/there correctly, lay vs. lie, proper punctuation and sentence structure, etc. Ignoring these customs is what gets writers in trouble. There's a big difference between stylistic and simply incorrect. "Incorrect" leads to not only judgment, but mis-interpretation of your message.
When you're writing casually for friends and family, as long as your message is clear I can't see why it must be perfect...unless you're even more of a Grammar Guru than I am! But as I've stated so often, in business writing, perfection balanced with authenticity is the way to go.
Wisdom...or a great proofreader...understands the balance!
I assume everyone is familiar with Dr. Dolittle's friend, the Pushmi-pullyu. This magical creature (described as a llama-like) has a head at each end. This is not going to be a zoological discussion of how the creature moves, or eliminates, or other such mysteries; instead, this is a reference to conflicting energies within yourself. Let me explain.
I have had clients over the years who have, with great excitement and determination, hired me for various projects, and then don't follow through for a while (if ever). We set goal dates and processes, and then they seem to disappear. In my experience, this is not due to a lack of motivation, but instead a lack of focus.
One past client had many irons in the fire and chose the one she was most eager to complete. That end of the Pushmi-pullyu was shouting, "Full speed ahead!" Then a different project, or idea, or emergency (the other end of the Pushmi-pullyu) shouted, "NO! Me first!"
The result? Neither end can move!
The solution? It depends. (Don't you hate that answer!)
It depends on several factors:
I believe that understanding your normal delaying habits can help you overcome the push/pull, stop/start dance. Refer to this post by my friend Lisa Crilley Mallis, a time management expert - do you recognize your patterns?
The only way to stop the tug-of-war is to start with even one small change. No more energetic whiplash!
We're bombarded by information. Every day we receive input from emails, news feeds, phone calls, social media, television, texts, postal mail...it's overwhelming. And much of it is noise!
Here's what I mean.
Your brain receives so much data that it picks out items that are most familiar or pleasing to focus upon. The rest is merely noise, static, humming.
So think about this in the context of business communications. Every time you post on social media or send an email, are you adding to the noise or are you being noticed?
When you bombard your social media feed with unrelated posts just to get information out there, you're making noise. When you create a thoughtful, planned campaign of information sharing, you're being noticed by your followers.
When you send an e-blast just because it's on the schedule to do so, you're creating noise. When that e-blast is focused, clear, easy to read, and useful, you're being noticed.
When you write copy for your website just to fill it...yep, more noise. When that copy is refined, focused, authentic, and easily (and quickly) understood, then you're being noticed.
The next time you write something, review it with fresh eyes. Are you using more words than are necessary? Make your point concisely. Are you writing in a style that's authentic to you and your clients? Be YOU, not who you're told to be by others. Is your writing correct? Get some help from an objective third party so you don't turn off your readers.
Want some help?
One of my main services for clients is to help write copy that is accurate, authentic and aligned with the client's core values. How do I determine those things? Well, it's part intuition and part conversation!
You see, when I have an initial conversation with a potential client, I pay attention to what they say, how they say it, and how I feel as I hear it. There is great power behind words.
Does she use spiritual jargon because it's what seems appropriate, or because it's how she naturally speaks from her heart?
Does he speak quickly and precisely, or slowly and thoughtfully?
Is he a true professional, expert in his offerings to clients?
Does she say what she thinks others want to hear or what her heart wants to say?
These questions and more come into play when I work with someone.
Years ago I got advice from a coach who strongly suggested I change my message to reach a broader audience, and stop calling myself a "spiritual" VA. I tried that for a short while. A very short while. Why? Because she wanted me to stop being ME! I AM a spiritual virtual assistant, I DO want to work with a core group of expert heart-based practitioners. I AM AUTHENTIC!
If you want a client to trust you, BE you! Don't be like the other kids on the block. Create your offerings based on what you love to do the most, what you do the best (and those two are usually the same), and what will serve those you want to serve.
I'm not advising you to ignore what works in marketing and copy writing; data shows what works and what doesn't. But you can still present an authentic persona while doing what works...for YOU!
Welcome! These stories, tips and tricks are intended to help you save time, and be more organized and effective in your work. New items will be added frequently so check back often.