You Wanna Get Ripped?

Body Pump Class There’s a weight training class at my gym that I love because it’s like having a personal trainer put you through a tough workout. It’s always a full class, no matter what day, which is an environment that gives me a tad more incentive to keep going one more rep – I mean if THAT girl can do it…

At one point, years ago, I had my personal training certification, so you would think I could easily do these workouts on my own. Sure, I could. I know how. But I never push myself as hard or as far. I can get in a good workout by myself, just not a great one.

It was the day after class earlier this week, while walking to get lunch and as my glutes, quads and hamstrings, et al were letting me know how great a workout it had been, when I started thinking about the correlation with business.

First, you’ve got the people who show up at the gym, get on the bike, open a magazine and kind of pedal along as they read. Those are the ones I want to shake and say, HEY, what-are-ya-even-doing-here?! Get MOVING or give up the bike to someone who’s gonna USE it. I’ll assume you’re not one of those types and move on.

Then you’ve got the people who read the fitness magazines or do a few sessions a year with a personal trainer, just to stay up on trends and techniques. These are the equivalent to the business owners who study and learn all the strategies and tactics for creating a successful business.  Is this you? You find out what to do and set about implementing everything on your own for good results.

However, if you want great results, you need to put yourself in a setting that inspires you to push just a little harder on a regular basis. You join the classes, you work with a trainer regularly. In business, you get around other owners and entrepreneurs in a structured setting. For me right now, it’s a group called Her Corner, a local, face to face network of women business owners who are all committed to helping each other build thriving businesses. We meet in person in our local groups every other month, as an entire area group on the other months and connect via our closed Facebook group regularly.

For Kris, it’s a similar community in an online only format. And for Jason, it’s an informal group of colleagues nationwide who meet three times a year and talk by phone the other months. To be clear, what we’re talking about here is not the same as a team of people or employees who help you do the work. This is a person or group to sustain you as the business owner.

It comes down to accountability and support. You need both. You need someone standing in front of you, encouraging you to do ONE. MORE. CURL. driving you beyond your comfort zone. Someone challenging you to add another zero to that annual revenue goal. Reminding you of why you’re doing this – whether you want to look good in that bathing suit or create a legacy for the next generation.

Then you also need someone making sure you’re using correct form, spotting you on those last two bench presses so you don’t get hurt. That’s the person checking in at the end of the day to confirm you’re stepping away from the computer and spending time with your family or pushing you to take a few days off when you’re on the verge of burning out.

You want to get a good workout or a great workout? Put yourself in the right setting to see the results you’d like.

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Anyone Can be a Philanthropist (Yes, Even You!)

One day last week Success in the City hosted the monthly CEO Chick Chat, where Cynthia de Lorenzi interviewed Community Foundation for the National Capital Region Executive Director Terri Lee Freeman. The two discussed how philanthropy has changed over the years. In the past, philanthropists were thought of as being super rich people, like Rockefeller or Getty or Vanderbilt. Today, anyone who can contribute can be considered a philanthropist, regardless of how much or how little they have to give.

That’s kind of cool. Anne Frank wrote she believed that people are basically good at heart. I agree. And I think they truly want to help others. Look at the outpouring of support that comes whenever there is a natural disaster somewhere in the world. People donate their time and money no matter what the economy is doing; maybe how much they give is affected, but the fact that they give at all doesn’t change.

Terri Lee Freeman encourages people to donate whatever they can because even small donations can have a big impact. So often I find people don’t know what they can do or don’t think they can do “enough,” which makes them feel a bit powerless. The big lesson from the CEO Chick Chat conversation is really that “together we can do so much more than we can alone.” Just do something!

I recently participated in a campaign Marie Forleo was promoting with Kiva. Are you familiar with Kiva? It’s a non-profit microfinance program that allows you, as an individual, to lend as little as $25 to someone who needs capital to create a better life for him/herself and family. How amazing is it that you can contribute even a few dollars and make a big difference in someone’s life?! Of course that’s just one cause and there are thousands of good ones.

You may have heard me talk about my personal (and thus Zen Rabbit’s) commitment to improving worldwide literacy. If you have a business, are you using your business as a vehicle for promoting philanthropy? There are so many good role models in this arena now. Think Ben & Jerry’s, Tom’s Shoes and Newman’s Own. Those three are all using different strategies in their efforts and they all work. It’s about what is authentic for your business.

What is your philanthropic philosophy?

Listen Real Close

Hey you. Your clients are talking to you, telling you exactly what they want. Are you listening? Are you hearing them? Take those earphones out for a minute. Sometimes you get so caught up in creating and delivering what you want to give them that you miss hearing what they really need. And then you miss out on the opportunity to deliver it, better serve your customers, become the hero and increase your profits.

Zen Rabbit was built to help business professionals multiply their profits through sweet appreciation. The main tool has always been The Gratitude Cookie. Now, while I doubt that will change and everyone still loves the cookies, I’m also hearing my clients say they want more. They want to work with me to develop a whole repertoire of products they can send in appreciation. They want a monthly program through which they can send something different every month.

Considering Zen Rabbit is really a thank you concierge, I’m excited about coming up with new ideas and finding cool options to offer. That’s how the Money Tree got added to the product line-up and there are more very exciting items coming soon.

In nature, it’s called evolution. What is the next logical step in serving your customers? Are you teaching clients the “how to” without offering the “done-for-you” program as well? Given that so many people are time stretched (or are they just lazy?), there could be an opportunity for you to expand.

I’m not suggesting you give in to the Achilles’ heel of entrepreneurs – Shiny Object Syndrome – and go off in all different directions. I’m merely advising you to pay close attention to what your clients may really need, either in addition to or instead of what you’re currently providing. After all, they already trust you to deliver “A,” so it’s likely they will trust you to give them “B,” as well. Now all you need to do is listen, learn and create the tool or the program or the service that allows you to serve them even better.

3.5 Steps to Increased Productivity

Here you are, one month into 2012. Getting as much accomplished as you planned? I made my theme for this year IMPLEMENTATION. If you’re wondering why you’re not seeing the results you think you “should” be seeing, based on the amount of work you’re doing, perhaps these 3.5 tips will help you.

1. Think of all the things you do in your life, out of habit, that do not get you the results you want. Some people spend an hour a day on the phone with friends, talking about last night’s episode of American Idol or who said what to whom and at the end of the day, they’re frustrated that there’s still a pile of work to do. I examined how I start my day and decided that I need to NOT open my email until somewhere around noon. What’s been happening is I turn on my computer and immediately check email every morning. That can take over an hour, reading and answering. And when it comes down to it, that activity is A) not making me any money, and B) distracting me from getting to the more important tasks. Honestly, it’s been a challenge to keep the email program closed, but I think it’s really going to help me focus on more important things – like writing – that will benefit from the alertness of a “morning mind.”

2. Get into the right environment. Do you want to fly with the eagles or scratch around with the chickens? How many times have you heard this and when are you going to actually do it? Who you’re hanging out with has a direct correlation with what your results are. If you want to be wealthy, you need to associate with wealthy people. Athletes know that if they want to improve their performance, they play against or run with people who are better at the sport than they are.
Take a look at the networking or professional groups you belong to. Are the people there earning what you want to be earning? Are they delivering the kind of service you want to deliver to your customers? Are they talking about big ideas and exciting plans? If not, you may want to reconsider your association. Find groups with members who are more in tune with what you aspire to.

3. Instill a sense of urgency in yourself and the people with whom you work. Mañana is a fine word if you’re vacationing in Mexico. However, when you’re working toward a goal, today is almost always a better time to do something than tomorrow. Maybe you know someone who is always “meaning” to get to something. A while back I’d been talking to a potential business partner for almost six months. She was a good person and well intentioned. But, every time I called her to see when I could expect samples, pricing, etc., I heard “I’ve been meaning to do that. I had it scheduled for Tuesday and then this happened and then that happened and blah blah blah.” As much as I needed to partner with someone who had the capabilities and equipment she had, I finally decided that this relationship was never going to work for me. Amazingly, as soon as I made that decision, another, better, potential partner came into the picture.

When it really matters to you that the marketing letter gets written and mailed today vs. next week or whether you make the phone calls or finish the project when you said you would, you automatically get more done. A sense of urgency makes you more productive.

3.5. As a follow up to the previous tip, it’s important to know what not to do today as well. Many of you are like I am and have a long list of things to do; things that will take much more time than is available in one day. You aspire to excellence and it’s frustrating to leave things undone. But realize and accept that there will always be tasks that you cannot get to. It’s a matter of prioritization. Get done the projects that are most important – the ones that bring you the most benefit, the ones that are worthy of the value of your time.

Put these ideas to work today and start seeing improvement in your productivity, your results and your income.

It’s Too Easy

The theme for 2012 is IMPLEMENTATION! In the past, I’ve been great at coming up with amazing ideas and plans. Implementing said ideas and plans, um, not so much. This is the year of finally implementing the good stuff. No one succeeds in life by just thinking about doing things. Implementation is the key. I know this. You know this. And yet still…

Even when you’re really passionate and committed to a business, a cause, a purpose, it’s possible to be distracted. Not only possible, I’d go so far as to say, likely. Why is that? Too many cool things going on around us? Maybe it doesn’t even have to be something cool, there’s just so much distraction, it’s too easy to lose focus.

I’m starting to think that as long as we’re aware this tendency happens, allowing ourselves to be a little tiny bit distracted isn’t all bad. Think about it. There’s SO much going on in this big, wide world we live in, so much to explore. If you put blinders on all the time, you might miss something that could enhance your life. At least that’s my positive spin on the deal.

Yes, I agree, if you are intent on a goal, you don’t want distractions to lead you off your path. So if you expect to be led astray occasionally by random shiny objects, you can take measures to minimize the effects. For example, it can be hard for me to write. I’m good at writing. I like to write. I especially like to have written. But the act of writing sometimes feels like opening a vein. (Ugh, that’s an ugly analogy! Whoever came up with that?)

To counter my tendency to find 217 things to do besides sitting and writing, (Make a cup of tea! Update the address on my CVS account! Read a random blog post!) I realized I need to allow myself a few minutes of distraction. Then close down the email, the web pages, the phone, everything that could lead me away from the writing. And write.

I’ve started the year scheduling everything into my calendar. Not just meetings or phone calls with others. I mean scheduling the writing time, the web site updates, the strategy sessions. So don’t call me on Monday mornings between 9:00 and noon because I will be writing. If you do call, and I answer, you have permission to harshly admonish me.

Guess what? More productivity. More implementation. It’s even gotten easier for me to start the writing and the words are coming to me more effortlessly – as long as I have my mug of tea at hand. Stay tuned because those ideas from past years are being brought to life.

What is your theme for 2012 and what are you doing to make sure you follow through?

Think You’re Too Old to be an Entrepreneur?

You hear all the time about the young, innovative entrepreneurs who are creating giant tech based enterprises and becoming multimillionaires before they’re 25. Could make someone who’s 40 think he/she is over the hill, too old to create a successful business; missed the boat.

Fortunately for you, that’s not really the case. Ben Franklin invented the lightning rod when he was 44; discovered electricity at 46; and helped draft the Declaration of Independence at 70. Henry Ford was 45 when he introduced the Model T. Sam Walton opened his very first Walmart when he was 44. Ray Kroc was in his 50s when he started building McDonald’s.

Vivek Wadhwa and his team researched the backgrounds of 549 successful entrepreneurs and found that the average age of male founders in this group was 40, and the average age of female founders was 41. Other researchers discovered the average age of U.S. entrepreneurs is increasing, with the 55–64 age group as the most active. See the rest of his article from yesterday’s Washington Post here.

So now you don’t have that excuse any more.