Entrepreneur Evolution

 

Lessons from the Edge:

Lately I have been really thinking about what kind of business person I want to be. My son has made it into high school and is happily building his independence and does not need me around as much. As he grows I have more time and room in my life for my business. To date I have, it turns out, been a freelancer who moved into solopreneur. I have built businesses that are growing without me, so I have also been an entrepreneur.

For my next challenge: build a business that will run with or without me and that I stay and keep growing…

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In case you are confused – here are some definitions:

  • Freelancer: Get hired on a project basis for specific task.
  • Solopreneur: Freelancer with staff.
  • Entrepreneur: If you get hit by a bus your business will still happily chug along without you and/or your personality.

In the words of my favorite guru Seth Godin, “Freelancers get paid for their work. If you’re a freelance copywriter, you get paid when you work. Entrepreneurs use other people’s money to build a business bigger than themselves so that they can get paid when they sleep.”

To put it another way, “If you can create enough momentum in your business that you’ll still make money, regardless of what you do on a day-to-day basis, you are an entrepreneur. And a badass.” Entrepreneur Mag (It’s an interesting article if you are so inclined)

So, yes to build your business and revenue you can publish e-books on your expertise, give your personal accounts of success and failures and generate endless “Top 5” posts.. but in order to build something bigger than yourself and your personality you have to think bigger, more global, push further than just your social media nose.

  • What are you really passionate about? Narrow it down to a laser focus.

For me it’s creating situations and environments that enforce and promote connecting people and building community. That’s why I produce events.

  • What is the bigger issue you are addressing?

This one took some thinking and we decided it has to be a focus on advocacy with an eye towards all human rights organizations.

  • What human problem are you addressing?

When was the last time you went to a networking event and actually found a lasting connection AND had fun? Networking … just the word can send chills.

  • How are you disrupting the status quo?

For us it’s by bringing back the power of high quality hospitality, superior customer service for our clients as well as participants and treating every participant as an individual VIP.

Once you have YOUR answers to these, you will have a road map to your entrepreneurial business and true success.

Map.

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Give Yourself the Gift of Rest

Lessons from the Edge:


I had the good fortune to produce a meeting where the great Tony Schwartz spoke. LINK

He reminded us that people are not computers and that in order for us to function at our optimal potential we need to – ready for it … REST.  The essential message was that if we all treated ourselves more like professional athletes, balancing stress – rest, focusing on a healthier diet and sleep for 7-8 hours a night not only would we be more effective and productive, but happier too.aa775d55c6e7d602c8faf563f6ec22ff

None of this is new information. It has all been said many, many times. The attack on our attention from email, conference calls and a constant pressure to work more hours is actually reducing our productivity and is making us very unhappy.

So, my holiday message to you is this, take advantage of a world that has slowed just a hint and put down your smart phones for 72 hours. Enjoy your families and get some very well deserved rest.

Stay Coachable

Lessons from the Edge

A few years ago I was involved with a network marketing company which was an excellent business school. Among the many things I learned, in addition to not being a very good salesperson, is that to be successful you must always be coachable.

shutterstock_886383521-225x300This does not mean just to being open to criticism. Which if constructive, can be very helpful. Staying aware of areas you may need improving, being humble and asking for help. Also, acting on the guidance you have asked for. Read books, articles and posts in your area and stay current.

We are all skilled at what we do and all of us have areas that could be polished.

Find a mentor, an actual business coach or buy a colleague you admire a drink and nourish your success by keeping fresh perspectives streaming in.

Solopreneur Seeks Mentor

Lessons from the Edge

I read the term Solopreneur for the first time this week. It really stuck me. I have been either freelance or an entrepreneur my whole life and it was only this week when another writer had elegantly described it – it is very lonely out here.

Not that I don’t have excellent collaborators and employees. I do. I think I have the best kept secrets around, but when it comes to making the big decisions and the hard decisions for the Company at large.. It’s me, my dog Edi in the club chair, pondering. This week it hit me like a ton of bricks. I need advisors and mentors. I need help.

Clearly I am not alone in this either. We women are at a serious disadvantage in this arena. Woman to woman mentoring is few and far between. Numerous studies show that there is a deep need for it but a equally as deep lack of it. Evidence is in a resurgence of women’s social clubs for professional women like Running In Heels and The Wing. Here you can network, find like minded business owners and share notes, or just get your hair done before an important meeting. There are also countless meetings, summitts and conferences. These are great for finding that someone, but there is a lot of noise to go through first and I need someone fast.

Looking through my own network I can see quite a few men who I both admire and trust with the experience I would like to draw on. I started looking for the women in my network. Now maybe it’s me and my issues, but I really only found one or two. Triple A Studios is a woman owned and operated business focusing increasingly on social issues. Not that a collective of men wouldn’t be valuable, for balance, a woman’s input will be crucial to help fortify our culture and pedagogy.

So, today as I head out to a lunch meeting with a perspective mentor (he doesn’t know I am going to ask him yet so, shh), I will have to keep thinking about who my female support will be.

Anyone looking for an ambitious mentee?

Personality Conflict

Lessons from the Edge

1210793321_5087There are a couple of personality types that, even I, cannot seem to find a path to symbiosis. Mostly these are due to either cultural bias or prejudice, and not really the personality itself, just it’s affectations, but some  personalities just don’t mix. Believe me in these cases the feeling is very mutual.

In our business it is vital to get along with everyone you can. Event production, hospitality are all about the client, their guests and making them happy. So… what do you do?

The best solution I have found is to try and minimize direct contact with this person, use an intermediary if at all possible.  When you do have to communicate directly, keep it professional, simple, clear and precise. Plan out what you will say beforehand so you are not improvising and possibly make the situation worse. Remember to breath. This person is temporary in your life. At some point the job will end.

Do not bad mouth this person to your crew or express publicly your real feelings anywhere near the event. It’s unprofessional and it will not help you, infact it will only hurt you. Save the bitching and venting for your partner or BFF when you either finish the job or at least get back to your room.

In this instance it is good that we are project based businesses!

Hospitality

Lessons from the Edge

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Balancing emotional connections and measurable results in your events.

Something that is being lost in the top “whatever” lists, shortcut tips and the motivation to measure every outcome is that we as event professionals are HOSTS. Yes, I said it. We host events above manage, produce or coordinate. Our field of study is in the school of Hospitality after all.

The participants are our guests and it is our primary job to provide them with not only a measurable experience, but as Andrea Driessen (@nomoreboring) says, a meaningful and memorable experience.

The more the event environment is one of inclusiveness and comfort for guests the more they will be able to absorb the purpose and content of the meeting or conference. Your audience has taken time out of their busy lives, away from familiar comforts and family. This is especially true of those meetings that are required of them like sales meetings. Hotels and other venues are often labyrinth like and alien. Coworkers are not usually the preferred “hang-out buddy” and often there are large numbers of strangers. An uneasiness is natural. It has to be our priority to anticipate and have everything in place to help reduce or eliminate this.

Take a page out of the Ritz-Carlton’s Gold Standard as a place to start:

Three Steps Of Service

  1. A warm and sincere greeting.
    1. This is not only a greeter at the door, think bigger than that.
  2. Use the guest’s name. Anticipation and fulfillment of each guest’s needs.
    1. Personalized materials, noted room preferences, meal requirements etc. go a long way.
  3. Fond farewell. Give a warm good-bye and use the guest’s name.
    1. Again, go bigger than just a greeter at the exit.

“They (Ritz Carlton) understand that relationships precede financial results and rely on a robust data set that demonstrates the impact engaged employees and repeat customers have on the bottom line.” – Ryan Estis (@RyanEstis)

For more on the Ritz’s standards – http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/about/gold-standards

Bottom Line:

Guests who leave a meeting feeling cared for, inspired and valued will return next year gladly and tell their friends. That’s something you can measure!

Start

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Lessons from the Edge

It important just to start.. I had breakfast with one of my favorite people, Amy, the other day and after patiently waiting for me to finish describing all the things I was doing BEFORE I started going after new clients, she smiled and said, “why not just start?” Isn’t it a girl issue to wait until everything is perfect before we go after what we want? We tweak, fluff, jooj, stress and pick. However, we actually don’t go after what it is we are fussing about.

It is a proven fact that this is a very common affliction for women in particular. Being right and perfect is nonsense and needs to be surgically removed from our heads – NOW!  This affects a lot of us, the anxiety of being exposed and “out there” can be palpable to all walks of life.

Mistakes will happen. It’s part of life. Double posting is something I end up doing often cause some setting is on when it should be off and spelling errors?!? .. god knows I have loads of those.

Get it out there.. do it now. Life is messy, humans are messier.

My favorite Dr Seuss quote : “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Bottom line:

Your audience is waiting for you. Get your message to them before they think you are not coming.

#Networking – Where do I go?

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Find a group or organization that offers valuable information and potential connections.

This can be a challenge, especially if you are just starting out. We struggle even now finding ones that are the right fit. Here are a guide from a previous post:

On a scale of 1-10 how influential will the speakers and/or other guests be to my:

    1. Inspiration
    2. Education
    3. Connections

If it’s 4 or higher, start planning your outfit. Even if there is a 40% chance you might meet someone who says something that inspires you it’s worth giving it a try.

  • Is the host a friend/contact/work associate?

If yes.. You are going for sure.

  • Were you invited directly?

Not by a mass email promotion, but did someone say, “Hey Aryn, come to my event.”?

Always go where you are invited. It’s a good policy that will reap huge benefits.

  • Is it in a venue or neighborhood that interests you?

Being in the events business, I like to see and experience different venues and neighborhoods. I use the event as an excuse to scout.

A few places to start:

MeetUp offers a wide variety of groups, everything from professional book clubs to lawyer’s play racquetball. These tend to be free, but check your specific ones for details.

Another great out of the box option is Toastmasters. It sounds crazy, but dedicated professionals are always looking to better themselves, and this is one of the places those people go.

Professional organizations are usually formed around the idea of networking, it’s their mission to get you connected. Reach out to them directly or search their websites for information. Depending on the costs, it may or may not be worth joining. See if the events/education opportunities look interesting to you first.

In the events world, we joined a few: Meeting Professionals International (MPI), Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) and the International Live Events Association (ILEA). These memberships are not cheap, so you will have to weigh the benefits for you. Then the key is to actually go to the events they offer.

Industry meetings and conferences can be a great place meet new connections and clients. Again these can be costly both in time and resources so choose wisely.

Here are some things to look for:

  • How big is the event? If you are comfortable standing out in a convention center filled with people, bigger is better. If you are someone, like us, who likes smaller, more intimate workshops and discussions that’s the one for you.
  • Is Networking built in? In either case above, look at the agenda. If it is wall to wall keynote speakers and lecture style breakouts, there won’t be a lot of time for meet and greet.
  • Are the speakers and subjects a fit for you and what you are looking for?

Some other ideas are; your local business district offices like ours – WHBID, Small business bureaus, your local Departments of Commerce and our favorite, start your own group on Facebook, LinkedIn or MeetUp and see who shows up.

Tip: Once you find an event, look and see who is speaking and/or attending. Look them up on LinkedIn or Twitter before the event (not in a stalkery way). Pull out some details and facts about their work to have conversation starters. Reaching out to them directly also can be great and arrange to have a drink/coffee together there.

Take a professional development class. This is a great way to meet peers, if not potential clients. There are many resources for this. Most universities have continuing education courses and most professional organizations either host classes or can point you in the right direction. Again, these can be costly, so make sure it is something you really want and /or need to do.

Our next networking post we will get you ready for your first event.

^Ax3 #Networking #Friendshelpfriends

Thinking About Networking

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It’s who you know and have built relationships with more than anything else that gets you where you are and where you want to be. Expanding that base in a meaningful way is not easy. No, it is not enough just to have 1000+ connections on LinkedIn. In comes the Networking Event.
I hate them, love them, hate them, love them… Some people excel at them. I do not. There have been times when I could muster being “on” and then they were fun. Most often it is a struggle just to convince myself to sign-up, muchless go.

Here are the four things I ask myself to gage if it’ll be worth the effort:

  • On a scale of 1-10 how influential will the other guests be to my:
    1. Inspiration
    2. Education
    3. Connections

If it’s 4 or higher, start planning your outfit. Even if there is a 40% chance you might meet someone who says something that inspires you it’s worth giving it a try.

  • Is the host a friend/contact/work associate?

If yes.. You are going for sure.

  • Were you invited directly?

Not by a mass email promotion, but did someone say, “Hey Aryn, come to my event.”?

Always go where you are invited. It’s a good policy that will reap huge benefits.

  • Is it in a venue or neighborhood that interests you?

Being in the events business, I like to see and experience different venues and neighborhoods. I use the event as an excuse to scout.

Meet-Ups, professional associations and schools all offer opportunities to connect with new people. They all require time, effort and sometimes money. Both time and effort are extremely valuable, they are your most precious asset. Choosing which event or gathering to go to can be as stressful as walking in that room of strangers. Take my list above and add your personal touch and use it as a guide. Sometimes a quick supportive nudge from your friend or partner helps too.

Bottom Line: Pick your networking wisely and try to have fun!

^Ax3 ^AC #Networking #Business #FriendsHelpFriends

Crew Are People Too

 

Lessons from the Edge

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The great Jeff M. and his amazing EMT crew

As a daughter of a union organizer, how my crew and my employees are treated is very important to me. It is not just a moral or integrity issue with me, it is also a quality issue.

A crew that is well paid, fed, had a decent turn around in a habitable hotel and feels they are respected; work harder, give more and are more willing to go that extra bit to make sure your event, project, whatever is perfect. They also are more likely to be loyal.. not just to the person who hired them, but to the brand they are working for. Collaboration and teamwork are what make a great event. All parties working together for the common goal.

In the recent past I worked with a client that insisted on treating all of us like the “hired help”. While some of this was cultural, all of it was unnecessary. This behavior made all our jobs much harder. The effect this had on the morale was palpable and it was difficult getting to the goal line. The event went off smoothly and the client in the end was happy, but at a cost.

For those out there who’s management style looks more like a Feudal System.. a word of warning, your employees, crew or whomever you rely on to keep you at the top, will take their pound and when the invaders come.. you will be standing alone.

Bottom Line: It’s the 21st Century and “Team” is the ruling philosophy.