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Posts Tagged ‘business’

Playing to Win vs. Playing Not to Lose

December 16th, 2009

Whew. I am still recovering from setting my ships on fire and watching their smoldering remains slowly sink in the harbor.

My stomach is still a tad topsy-turvy and I feel slightly disoriented. But you know what? There’s no way home so I best got hopping on on my game plan.

Which brings me to today’s post.

See, I’ve written game plans before. I’m very good at them really. And I can fill all the pertinent details and even execute them with precision. Knowing “how” to do something is one of my specialties. I can fill my days, my weeks, my months and my life with executing the “how’s”.

And that is playing not to lose. Let me explain.

(Just for clarity, the rest of this post is about me and my biz, not the work I do with my clients. I push them to the point of insanity. Really. Just ask them.)

I am a small business strategist. It is my job to assess a business goal and build the very best strategy to achieve it. I don’t like guessing at outcomes; I like controlling them. And if I can’t control them or know them ahead of time, I’m not stepping out. Minor risk is ok, but nothing that will liquidate major assets (cash and otherwise) is acceptable.

To make it sound savvy and smart, I’ve called it “calculated risk” (which, just so you know, I think is a wise thing). But I wasn’t mapping out “calculated risk”, I was mapping out safety nets and cautious progress. Just push the envelope a teeny bit here, try not to make too many people mad, try this little thing over here that *might* work. I think  you get the idea.

Why would I do that? Because if I don’t try too hard or care too much, I won’t be heartbroken if it doesn’t work

I was playing NOT to lose.

But now that I’ve burned my ships, here’s what I know: crippling caution will not serve me; it will get me killed.

Yes, I need to read the lay of the land and decide exactly where I am going (which I will finish up tomorrow) and then I MUST strike out boldly. (Remember that saying “Fortune favors the bold.”? I believe it.)

Now is my time for Playing To Win. saban

Let me give you a few distinctions on Playing to Win vs Playing Not to Lose. (And I am REALLY hoping you will add yours to the list in the comments.)

“I’m gonna knock this out of the park!” vs. “Gee, I wonder if anyone is going to like this?”

“Here’s what I have to say about that.” vs. “Saying what I think might make the wrong people angry.”

“I have what it takes to make this succeed.” vs. “I wonder if I know enough to do this?”

“I can slay the field.” vs. “I want the field to like me so I won’t try too hard.”

“I will push all my chips to the center of the table.” vs “I holding a pile of chips back in case I need them.”

“I deeply care about this.” vs. “I think it will sound good if I say I care about that.”

“I dug down and gave it my best.” vs. “Meh, I really didn’t try that hard anyway.”

“I love you.” vs. “I’m not telling them because they may not feel the same way.”

I think you get the idea.

So, as always, I’m hoping I’m not alone in shifting my game from playing not to lose to playing to win. AND, I’m hoping you have a PTW vs PNTL you will share in the comments, too.

Who’s in?!

(And you are feeling a big YES to all this, please check out my upcoming blog series 30 Days to Changing Your Game.)

The World Keeps on Turning

November 30th, 2009

So I’ve just returned from a two week hiatus where a lot of things happened and a lot of nothing happened. Some of the things that happened are personal and some of the nothing that happened was very important and I will share in forthcoming posts.

Two weeks is a long time to be almost completely “off the grid”. And I will admit, I had some serious tech withdrawalunplug_Full symptoms and placated myself by spending time setting up my new Droid Eris phone. But without reliable Internet connection and spotty cell phone signals, I was pretty much forced to stay off the grid and unplugged whether I wanted to or not.

I learned two VERY important things:

1) The nothing that happened while I hung out with my seven year old son tops ANYTHING that could have happened if I had stayed on the grid and tried to work while I was away. Because I was fully unplugged, we spent our days filled with safari’s, pirate treasure hunts, riding bikes on the beach, and of course shark’s tooth hunting. (Writing the shark’s tooth post for Liz Strauss was the closest I got to working the whole time I was gone.)

2) The world kept right on spinning without me. My business functioned just fine; my tribe had a ton of fun (though I missed them terribly); and everyone is here to greet me today upon my return. Granted I am ready to dive into the big stuff I am working on for January and February, but I am not behind or in a panic because I was gone for two weeks. Pretty amazing.

So, I highly recommend a full unplug. I know two weeks is totally impossible for a lot of people. But try it for twenty-four hours – or even forty-eight and see what happens.

As always, I am anxious to know your thoughts about what it would take to do a full unplug from your business. What are the risks? What are the potential rewards?

Doing Stuff I Don't Want To Do

October 26th, 2009

So today I have to do stuff I don’t want to do. Yes, I know it is a shocker that escaping mediocrity one adventure at a time involves the mundane business tasks of bill paying, bookkeeping and general administrative tasks that keep me on top of my business operations. And so that I make sure this stuff gets done, I always designate Monday as my Admin Day.

I meet with my staff, pull out the paperwork I need to tend to and generally handle the behind-the-scenes affairs of my business. No coaching calls, no interviews, no distractions.  And for the most part, that works well.

Except when it comes to my bookkeeping. Which I have an incredibly strong aversion to. In fact, I think it is safe to saystuff I don't want to do that I would rather scrub toilets than tend to it.

Ah, but if I want my business to support my adventures, I need it to function. So, tend to it I must.

Fortunately. several years ago my mentor Martha Beck taught me an amazing strategy for dealing with things I don’t want to do. Today I will share it with you – just in case there is something on your list you are procrastinating about. 🙂

Using myself as an example, here are the three questions I ask myself when looking at this most unwelcome task:

1) Can I bag it?
So often I think we have things on our lists that really don’t have to be done – at all. For some reason, we like the feeling of a super-human to-do list, though. So, think about whether or not your task MUST be done or you would just like it to be done. Sadly for me, my bookkeeping must be done, so on to the second question.

2) Can I barter it?
If it must be done, does it have to be done by me? I know two neighbors who trade baking and gardening. Each gets to do something they LOVE and still get both tasks done. In my case, if I were so inclined I could probably trade some coaching for help with my bookkeeping. Because I really don’t want to do that, I AM willing to trade some cash for the help of a professional. In the end, though, there are still some pieces that only I can do. So that brings us to the third question.

3) Can I better it?
Since the task must be done, and it must be done by me, how can I make it as pleasant as possible? Here’s what I do: I keep a special box for my billing paying supplies – a pen I like, envelopes, stamps, etc. so I don’t have to go scrambling for these things. I sit in my very favorite place (today that will be in the rocking chair on my front porch). I play music that I love. I get a fab snack. And I get a reward when I am done ( I learned this from The Young Turk and Pepper The Dog).

I know these questions over-simplify things a bit, but they really help me get a move on the stuff I don’t want to do.

Of course, I’m curious to know how you get the stuff done you don’t want to do, so please share. 🙂

Photo Credit: / CC BY 2.0

Letting Myself Be Seen

October 21st, 2009

I was thinking last night about what I wanted to write about today (yes – I still write my posts real time instead of writing a bunch and scheduling them) and at the same time was gripped by a sad heart because I was missing my friends from BlogWorld in Las Vegas.

So I decided to write about that. Not necessarily them specifically or feeling sad – more about how important it is to have friends who really see you.  What do I mean by “see”?

My friends see me for who I am and who I am capable of becoming. They see my faults, weaknesses and shortcomings. They see my strengths, my assets, and my talents. They tell me the truth. They call me on my b.s. They see me in the best light – even when I can’t do that for myself. They believe in me. In short, they see all of me and love me anyway.

Pretty good stuff, huh?

Friendships like this a very rare and they require some things of me that are scary. I have to be willing to show up, tell the truth and be incredibly vulnerable. And I have to risk having it all blow up in my face (and yes, that has happened). But I’m willing to run that risk because, truthfully, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without having them in it.

And in case you are wondering, they make my business a  better business for the same reasons they make me better a better me. 🙂

If you already have friends like these, cherish them. If you don’t, I encourage you to find some. Don’t spill your guts too early or all at once – that scares people. Instead, slowly step closer and share a little, then a little more and then a little more. Not everyone while be able to see you. Don’t take it personally. It just wasn’t meant to be.

But I can promise you this: if you take the time to cultivate friendships like the ones I just described, your life will be enriched beyond measure.

Five Remarkability Lessons I Learned from Alex

October 19th, 2009

As most of you know, I was at BlogWorld in Las Vegas last week. I learned SO much – mostly because the “in the hall” networking was so amazing.

You know who I learned a lot from, though? A guy who is not on Twitter or Facebook, doesn’t have a blog, and for all I know doesn’t even have an email address. His name is Alex.

Alex is a private driver in Las Vegas and I was lucky enough to become one of his clients while I was there. I saw Alex A LOT over four days, so I got to observe how he does business in a remarkable way. Here are the top five lessons I took away:

1) Have the right friends in the right places referring clients to you. I found out about Alex from the woman who drove my hotel’s shuttle bus (another remarkable individual). She overheard my friends and me complaining about all the money we’d spent on taxi cabs the night before. She said, “Oh – cabs will rip you off. Let me give you the name and number for my friend Alex. He is a private driver, he drives for me and he will take care of you.”  Later in the afternoon she actually introduced us to Alex personally – which upped our comfort level on calling him later.

2) Be extraordinarily polite. Alex was driving us to meet some friends and we were yapping so loud and so fast we

"Hey Alex. It's Sarah. Can you pick us up?"

"Hey Alex. It's Sarah. Can you pick us up?"

could hardly hear our own selves. Alex said, “Excuse me. I am so sorry to interrupt your conversation but we are approaching the MGM and I want to make sure I drop you off in the right place.” When we arrived he said “When you are ready to go home, call me right as you approach the doors. They won’t let me stand but I can whip around and pick you up immediately.” Which is exactly what he did. When is the last time a cab driver was that polite?!

3) Remember the small things. Whenever we arrive anywhere, Alex hopped out of the Escalade and opened both doors for us. We mentioned feeling dehydrated and needing water, he went and got us bottles of water and set them up in the console of the back seat. Low jazz or classic rock n’ roll music was always playing in the car. And he asked every so often, “Is the air temperature in here okay for you?” Oh – and he was always professionally dressed, even at 2 in the morning.

4) Be selective about your clients. Alex doesn’t drive for just anyone. You pretty much have to have a personal referral to even get his name and number. Any when your referral sources (see #1) are pre-screening for your ideal client, only the very best will actually call you. (And yes, I am now one of his referral sources. I am EXTREMELY protective of Alex, so unless I really know you well, I won’t send you his contact information.)

5) Charge reasonable rates. After all this raving about Alex, you might be thinking “That’s great but private drivers in Las Vegas are expensive.” Alex actually charged LESS than cab drivers. But you know what? I called him every time we needed to go anywhere for three days. In fact, it became quite the joke because I called him and said, ‘Hi Alex, this is Sarah. Can you come pick us up?” so many times.  I also gave his name and number to two people who also used him exclusively during BlogWorld.

Bonus Lesson: Great service + reasonable rates = all the business he wanted.

So you see, lessons on being remarkable, on being so much more than mediocre,  can come from anywhere if we are paying attention.

Curious to know who taught you this week. 🙂

It's a Mad World

September 21st, 2009

If you need a soundtrack for this post, here it is from Tears For Fears.

I think the world is going mad. And I really REALLY hope I’m wrong about it.  The evidence I’ve accumulated over the past two weeks, however, points to an alarming trend.

First, I read Jonathan Fields post called PR Gone Bad: How to Anger Bloggers and Hose Your Client. In it, he relates an email conversation he had with a book publicist pitching a book he wanted Jonathan to review on his blog.  The initial pitch was handled badly and when Jonathan responded with a polite but firm “take me off your list”, the publicist’s behavior digressed from sophomoric to ill-mannered and astonishingly unprofessional (as well as disconnected and old-school.)  No need for me to go into the gory details because you read those yourself.

Next came astonishing rudeness in one of the last bastions of propriety – the United States House of Representative during a Presidential address. Regardless of political inclinations, I expect my elected officials to conduct themselves with dignity, respect and nice manners. Yelling out ANYTHING – much less an accusation – in the middle of a presidential speech is, as My Mother the English Teacher would say “Rude, crude and boorish.”

Then we had the now famous “Ima let you finish” interruption at the MTV video awards.  Since when has behaving like a bully and a brat on national television gone with Rock Star status? I’m not linking to it because I don’t want to feed that video any more energy than it has already sucked out of the world.

And we aren’t done.

My friend Nick Benas posted one of the most arrogant voicemail messages I have ever heard. A VERY famous player in the licensing world left it for him when he refused to play the way this person wanted him to. You can listen to it here . This is the way we now conduct ourselves in business? By talking to people like this?

And then, over the weekend, I watched someone on Twitter whom I respect a great deal get publicly lambasted and physically threatened by a so-called guru and author because he had the nerve to call “bull-shit” on something this famous person published on his blog. I was stunned as I watched it play out real-time.  The most redeeming part of the conversation was watching my colleague conduct himself like a gentleman in the face of it all.

And yet, I am still left wondering – is this what we’ve devolved to?  What has happened to maintaining dignity and choosing to behave with manners and self-respect? When did we start allowing self-serving bad attitudes to have a place at the table in business – or in life for that matter?  Why are there people running companies who think making others feel small is a success strategy? And do the perpetrators actually think they will go unexposed?

I have more questions today than answers. And I am hoping that our conversation here will help me make sense of it all.

Now It's Your Turn…

September 16th, 2009

I spend a lot of time thinking about you. Seriously. I re-read the smart, funny, brilliant and vulnerable comments you’ve written in response to my posts and am simply blown away by how willing you are to share so much of yourself here. Truly amazing.

Today, my part of the post is going to be very short. The real meat will be in your responses (well, that is where the real meat ALWAYS is, isn’t it?!).give

You are invited to share a link to your very favorite Escaping Mediocrity resource. This could be a blog post you’ve written, or a vlog post you’ve made, or it may be a link to something someone else has put together that truly inspires you on your journey of a lifetime. It can be about business, life or anything else.

To make it meaningful and helpful to everyone, there are just one simple boundary that I’d like to ask you to observe:

No overt selling or blatant self-promotion. I’m going to check every link that is posted and I will waste no time in hitting the delete button. 🙂

That’s it!

As always, I can’t wait to learn from you. 🙂

I'm Sorta Over "Authenticity"

August 31st, 2009

noun 1. genuineness, purity, realness, veritableness
2. accuracy, truth, certainty, validity, reliability, legitimacy, verity, actuality, faithfulness, truthfulness, dependability, trustworthiness, authoritativeness, factualness

Collins Essential Thesaurus2nd Edition 2006 © HarperCollins Publishers 2005, 2006

Five  years ago, when I first got into the world of life coaching, the words “authentic” and “authenticity” were fresh  and new. I found them so liberating – they gave me permission to discover and then be mflamey true self.

And in that way, I still love – no – wallow in the very idea of purity and realness as the very best way to exist on this planet.

But now, the word is everywhere. And I do mean EVERYWHERE. I heard it last night on a commercial for a cell phone. Still not exactly sure how a cell phone ties in with authenticity. But who can blame them for trying to add it to their marketing? Everyone else has.

And I admit – I use it, too. But I think I’m going to stop. Every sales page I read uses it, lots of tweets use it, many blogs and blog posts use it. It’s become a marketing word. And even worse, I’m seeing courses popping up on How to Use Authentic Marketing. Has authenticity become a commodity; something we buy, sell and trade?  Or worse, is it now a card in our marketing deck?

Somehow that just seems wrong. And it turns a beautiful, powerful word into something ubiquitous and, sadly, mediocre.

So, I am open to suggestions. What word or words can I use in place of “authentic” or “authenticity” that delivers the same message?

Escaping Mediocrity Recommended Reading: F2 The Firefly Manifesto REMIXED

August 19th, 2009

So if you’ve been following along recently on my business and my life, you are up to speed on the fact that I am “walking the grid”, recovering from a major setback. (If you haven’t been following along, you can quickly catch up by reading Failing Sucks and Cake.)

fireflyOne major part of my Grid is reading  things that inspire me and make me feel better – smart, capable, hopeful, etc. So when I was watching my tweetstream the other day, I lunged at Jonathan Fields’  link to his newly released F2 Firefly Manifesto: Remixed. I read Jonathan’s blog, Awake At The Wheel,  regularly so I knew whatever he had written would be fantastic.  I just wasn’t prepared for HOW fantastic.

If you are desperate to escape professional (and personal for that matter) mediocrity and think it is impossible in today’s economy, sprint HERE and download this manifesto NOW (and don’t bother continuing your reading here – you can come back).

Still here? Ok – I’ll tell you why I like it so much and why it is Oh-So-UN-Mediocre.

1) It’s not full of links selling stuff. Nothing irritates me more than reading free documents that HINT at solutions – but to actually get them, you have to buy this ebook or that coaching program. The ideas and solutions Jonathan offers are right there, in the manifesto. And if you want further reading you can go to his blog or read his book.

2)It is practical and actionable. Sometimes I see manifestos that are long on theory and short on action steps I can take right now. Jonathan’s manifesto gives readers TONS of ideas and “Nine Renegade Actions To Take Today.”  My favorite is “Choose Your Renegade Path” where he says “With rare exception, making a great living doing what you love isn’t a matter of ‘if’ anymore, it’s a matter of ‘how’. Yes, even in this economy. “

3) It doesn’t ignore the reality of our current economic climate. I have grown so weary of the words “recession proof” and of hearing some gurus say that our mindset is all it takes to steer clear of the impact of today’s unstable marketplace. Jonathan does not pussyfoot around about what is REALLY happening – businesses are closing, people are losing jobs and new jobs just aren’t plentiful. And then —- he offers hope in the face of this reality.

Here is the definition of success Jonathan invites all of us to try on for size:

Will this career choice allow me to:

-Spend the greatest amount of time

-Absorbed in activities and relationships that fill me up

-While surrounding myself with people I cannot get enough of, and

-Earning enough to live comfortably in the world.

Jonathan not only believes that this is possible – he knows HOW to make it possible.  So, if you haven’t yet, go HERE and download your free copy of F2 The Firefly Manifesto: REMIXED. And, as always, I really want to know what you think about it, so comeback and tell me, ok?!!

It's All About Choices: What Matters Most?

August 3rd, 2009

This is a tough question to answer, isn’t it? What I am learning very quickly though, is that if I want to leave mediocre behind, I’ve got to get REALLY GOOD at knowing what matters most to me!

I am sure if I asked you what mattered most to you in your life or your business, you would be able to tell me very quickly. But, if I watched you throughout your days, weeks, months, would the way you prioritize your time truly reflect what matter’s most to you?

If you are like most people, there is so much competing for our attention that it is easy to get caught up in the “tyranny of the urgent” putting out fires and rushing from thing to thing. Then we are left with a feeling of disappointment or emptiness because we haven’t truly focused on our heart’s priorities.

A few ideas for helping you find your way to What Matters Most.

1 – Make a list of all the areas of your life: Family, Personal, Spiritual, Physical Health, Career, – general categories will do just fine.

2 – Write down one single personal, heartfelt priority in that area for you. For example, under Family, your singular priority may be to be to have a happy, cheerful home. A Physical Health priority might be to exercise in some form or fashion three times a week. Yes I know there’s lots to choose from, but for the purpose of this exercise, choose the one priority that speaks to your heart.

3 – Have your list of priorities? Great! Now for the next week, every time a choice must be made about how you spend your time, I want you to consult this list. If it does not fit under one of your priorities, I want you to take a minute to evaluate it. If you feel compelled to do it, are you willing to forfeit another priority on your list in order to do it? So often we “think” something is a necessity when it really isn’t.

4 – Now that you’ve developed a more conscious attitude toward your time commitments and how they reflect your priorities, use this new found knowledge to help you get to What Matters Most and leave the Urgent But Unimportant behind.

This is not a foolproof exercise. Really it is just a way to help you make choices (one of my favorite words!) about what matters most to you. It is also a way to help you become more conscious about how you spend your time.

If you find that the way you spend your time is in conflict with what really matters to you then you have some decisions to make. You can either change what matters to you or change how you spend your time. That sounds simple I know, but those are really the only available options.

When I do this exercise – and I do it fairly regularly – I often find that what I am devoting the lion’s share of my time to has nothing at all to do with what matters to my heart. Then I face to challenging but doable task of re-aligning my time with my values. Sometimes the choices are difficult, but the reward is a happy spirit and a fulfilled heart. And that is what makes this life worth living!