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.

Thank You Chet Holmes

One of my marketing world colleagues posted the news this morning on Facebook that marketing, sales and business teacher Chet Holmes had passed away from leukemia. Although he was still relatively young, Chet accomplished and shared so much in his years. Even if you never met him but heard him speak or read his book “The Ultimate Sales Machine,” you benefited.

My first thought upon hearing of his death was of the great story he told about his desire and drive to partner with Jay Abraham. Using what he referred to as “pigheaded determination,” Chet called or sent Jay a letter every other week for two years! Jay would continually turn him down and turn him down and turn him down. Chet was not deterred. After two years, Jay finally agreed to have lunch with Chet and that meeting eventually turned into more than $15 million. Talk about persistence. THAT is what builds a successful business.

The Ultimate Sales MachineIf you’ve not yet read “The Ultimate Sales Machine,” I highly recommend it. In fact, I am going to pick up my copy once again and see what new ideas I can pull and implement. As I write this post, I am inspired to create a revised Dream 100 effort (or maybe start with a Dream 25) and actually implement it this time. What is a Dream 100 effort you ask? It is “a program for targeting your 100 dream clients constantly and relentlessly until they buy… The goal is to take your ideal buyers from “I’ve never heard of this company” all the way through to “yes I do business with that company.”

Seems so easy and brilliant, yet I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who has and follows such a plan. It’s all about persistence and that pigheaded discipline. Add in some creative outreach – the part I really love – and you can be golden. (Let me know if you need help with the creativity, I’d love to strategize with you.)

The book if chock full of valuable and potentially profitable information, presented in an easily digestible format. If you don’t have a copy, seriously, go get one today and read it (with highlighter in hand) before the end of summer. If you implement one strategy in the next 30 days, I guarantee your business will be in a far different place by the holidays.

Speaking of digestible, now I’m also remembering an interview Bill Glazer did with Chet in which Chet analyzed the customer service experience in a restaurant he frequented near his home. He had a gift for breaking down all kinds of situations into opportunities to learn.

Chet closes the acknowledgments section of “The Ultimate Sales Machine” with a quote from Stephen M. Ryder, which seems most appropriate here. “Wherever you are, if you think of me and smile – at that very moment – wherever I am, I’ll be smiling too.”

One Extra Degree Can Make All the Difference

Today is the 212th day of the year, which reminds me of the “extra degree theory.” The premise is that at 211 degrees, water is very hot. Just one degree more, at 212 degrees, it boils and produces steam. And steam can power a locomotive engine.

How can turning up your efforts by just one notch, one degree, improve your results in life? Can you make just one more phone call before you turn off your computer? Spend one more minute with your literacy tutor student? Sing one more song with your child? Hand write one thank you note to one customer?

You can’t know for sure that doing the one extra thing will make any difference at all. But you can rely on faith and past experience, whether yours or someone else’s.

I was at the U.S. Track & Field Trials last month to see Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh cross the finish line .001 seconds apart. Now one is running on the 100-meter Olympic team next week and the other is not.  The Australians lost their chance to be on the medal stand for the 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay this weekend by 22 hundredths of a second.

I first heard about the 212 degree concept from Sam Parker at You can see the video he created here: 212° the extra degree®
Watch and pull inspiration it. And then decide where you can you turn up your efforts just one degree.

The Hard Part is Getting Started

The hardest part of any project is probably not what you think. In fact, what you are thinking is part of the problem. You’re thinking about all the steps, and time, and effort it’s going to take to do it. And then you’re not doing it. I’ll start it tomorrow, you say. What’s that saying – tomorrow never comes? Because it’s always today. Ha ha.

Humans are amazing in terms of how many excuses or reasons we can create to keep ourselves stationary. So it appears that the most difficult piece of your project is the start. Once you start, you may run into barriers along the way, but the momentum is already there and you just keep going. Building the momentum to push off the blocks is the real challenge.

Start Button

Start Me Up

How do you start? You just start. How do you roll a ball down a hill? You push it and it goes. You start by writing up as specific and detailed a plan as you can of what you will do – make this phone call, send that email, write the first paragraph, etc. And then schedule the time in your calendar to do it. Easy enough to say, perhaps harder to make yourself do.

Are you super excited about getting the results that undertaking this project and implementing this action will deliver? If that answer is a flat out no, then you might want to reevaluate why you’re doing it. More likely it’s YES, but it’s unfamiliar and uncomfortable terrain. Or YES, but I don’t know all the steps. That’s okay and it’s not good enough reason to not start. Make a list of all the potential roadblocks. What are the typical things that have tripped you up in the past? You know there will be some, so prepare a plan to face and overcome them now.

I’m reading a book called “The Power of Habit, Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.” It’s fascinating to learn how the brain works in regards to creating habits. A lot of studies have been done on how to change habits and many have found that habits are linked to will power. In fact, will power itself is a habit. Beyond that, the ability to change habits is linked to identifying the distractions, and creating a plan to overcome those distractions.

Here’s an example. You know you should create a customer appreciation program because you believe it will help you strengthen your client relationships and increase customer retention. You have ideas in your head of what you want to do. And yet you keep putting on the back burner. Come up with all the reasons you haven’t done it yet – too busy to manage, not sure how to segment, don’t have the money, etc. Recognize that these are excuses that may not even be real obstacles. (What if you don’t have to personally manage the program. Or it ends up helping you keep a client who otherwise would have left, so now you’ve saved more than it cost you to implement.) Now quickly jot down how you’re going to overcome those blocks – get more information or simply set aside 10 minutes a month on your calendar, for example. Don’t spend a lot of time and over planning on this.

Now get started. The people who are most successful in starting have figured out how to combine throwing caution to the wind and going for it with having a carefully designed strategy for managing the obstacles.

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?

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.

Worthy of the Time of Your Life

I saw a TV commercial yesterday for a new movie coming out in a few weeks, called In Time, where time is the currency. It looks like everyone has a certain bank account of time that they can spend. So for example, a cup of coffee costs you four minutes of life. I’m sure there’s more to this action movie than that, but the commercial, on top of all the articles about and tributes to Steve Jobs I’ve read this week, got me thinking.

What if you measured the value of everything you did against how much of your life it would take? Would you make different decisions or decide differently? Think about evaluating a new project not by how much money you’ll make from it, but by how many hours of your life you’ll be giving up for it.

What if instead of assuming you have “forever,” you came from a place where you worked on a shorter time frame that makes weighing every decision on the time factor real, let’s say one year. So you have one year to spend – 8760 hours – 525,600 minutes. Would you use your time more wisely? Spend it more on what really matters to you and what brings you enjoyment?

Is trolling the aisles and racks of Ross for a bargain a good trade of your time for the savings? It might be if you enjoy the hunt. Is Facebook worthy of the five or ten hours of your life you give it each week? Is working an extra two hours tonight more fun than playing with your child? Constantly ask yourself if what you’re about to do is worthy of your life.

“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something…” ~ Steve Jobs

People who’ve been diagnosed with life threatening diseases go through this process of evaluation, but you don’t have to have a diagnosis to put it to work. Maybe a year is even too long a time frame. Start with a month, or even a week. Evaluate from this new perspective and see what happens. See how your choices change. It’s your life. How will you spend the currency?

The Power of Paying Attention to Your Environment

Yesterday I was out running through the forest. Okay, not so much a forest as the Custis and W&OD bike trails. But it may as well have been a forest. I first saw a rabbit frolicking amidst a grassy side area. As you might guess, with a company named Zen Rabbit, rabbits are my totem animal. I LOVE seeing rabbits.

And then about 20 minutes later, I saw a deer! There was one biker who also saw the deer enjoying her mid-afternoon snack in the foliage. Then there were a whole bunch of other people on the trail who didn’t even notice. They zoomed right by, not paying any attention to what was around them.

That experience got me thinking about how many times people don’t see what’s right in front of them. How many opportunities are missed because they’re too busy getting where they’re going to pay attention to the cool stuff that shows up unexpectedly? I admit I’ve made this mistake many times and will likely make it again. You get caught up in getting stuff done, staying focused on the task at hand and not allowing any outside distractions. At times, that’s the only way to operate and it ensures that you reach your goals.

Other times, though, like a beautiful Sunday afternoon, you need to allow yourself to meander. To be distracted. To get out of your head and into the moment. To allow your attention to wander to whatever is playing on the sides of the trail right now. Who knows what you might suddenly see or what great ideas may come to you.