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.

Education, education, education ..

It’s the drum I beat in every political, civic or social discussion I have. It is so basic and so necessary that it seems too obvious to be the fix we are looking for. Fixing, improving and expanding our public school systems is no easy task. I understand, personally, I did my best with our local K-8 school and it was a snake pit obstacle course with head winds. There are vast competing interests, egos, philosophies and economies, the deck is very stacked against change. If we are going to close the divide in this country we have to dig in and start here.

I am not talking about test scores. That is a fools distraction and proves only that special interests are the winners. Real, enriched and in-depth education that promotes thinking and real problem solving for all our children is what I mean. This includes literacy, art, music, civics, global history, math – beyond just the rote numbers, the sciences and all in a safe place with well paid teachers. No small task. We have to get there. We have to invest in this or we will loose our country for good.

Let’s look to countries like Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland who spend some of the most money on education as a percentage of their gross domestic product, according to the World Bank. These Scandinavian nations all ranked in the top third of Best Countries istock_000014186302mediumby Education, generally outperforming Asian nations. (Source) We can take what works and improve on the rest. These countries, not coincidentally, also rank among the top 10 places for quality of life for all it’s citizens.

The conspiracy lover in me thinks that the defunding methodically, over the last 20 years of public education and demonizing the educated has been a slow and deliberate plan to make the electorate ignorant, uniformed and susceptible to believing just about anything. It is much easier to rule an uneducated population. H.G. Wells was not wrong when he created the Eloi. All you need is to scare them enough and they will pretty much do whatever you tell them.

This election is a wake up call for all of us. Once the protesting and fervor dies down, I hope we will all get to the hard work of fixing what lead us here.

Read this article by Nate Silver: LINK

 

Engage – Act – Participate

Here is a list of things I have found that you can do to Act..

  1. Protest! Facebook has an events section most of your local protests are listed.6a00d834515f9b69e2017c36270638970b-320wi
  2. Wear a Safety Pin and mean it – Stand Up and Protect your neighbors
  3. BoyCott all things Trump : Grab Your Wallet
  4. Call on the Electoral College to be the grown ups: LINK
  5. Email the Electoral College Voters directly: http://asktheelectors.org/ 
  6. Use this speadsheet to make calls and make your voice heard. It’s important to actually call… block out 30mins during lunch three times a week and BAM you are making a huge impact : LINK
  7. Call the House Oversight Committee (202-225-5074) to support the call for a bipartisan review of Trump’s financials and apparent conflicts of interest. It takes 2 minutes and you get connected immediately. They are lovely. They said the more calls they get the sooner it gets out in their timetable!
  8. Call on your Senators and Congressmen to investigate Russian’s involvement in our election – Lindsy Graham’s office in particular. Tell them you support them on this : Article
  9. “Paul Ryan is conducting a phone poll on the ACA (Obamacare), hoping to hear overwhelming popular opposition to it. If you would like to express your support for the Affordable Care Act, call (202) 225-3031. Press 2 to weigh in on the issue. You’ll hear a brief recording about HR-3762, Paul Ryan’s proposal to gut the ACA, and President Obama’s use of his veto power to stop it. Then, you will have a chance to indicate your opinion with the press of a button. Press 1 if you support Obamacare, 2 if you oppose it.
    Copy and paste this, don’t click share!
    The phone won’t ring but may take over a minute to connect. Don’t hang up! It may take several calls.”
  10. Support watch dog organizations like the ACLU – they are going to be busy. Most take donations as small as $10.00 Here is a list from Jezebel – LIST
  11. Support your favorite news outlets. The press is under fire like never before. Consider getting that NYT Weekender delivered and reinstate brunch in your house on the couch.
  12. Go one strike Jan. 20th – STRIKE No Work, No School, No Shopping – No Fascists
  13. March on Washington – there are a few options – Jan 20th, 21st and 22nd.. I am sure you can find more.
  14. If you were “Charlie Hebdo”, then Register yourself as a Muslim  – At some point in the next four years, we may be confronted with our moment to pay forward the human decency of people like Master Sgt. Edmonds and King Christian X did in 1933.

If you find more please add them to the comments below!

#TheResistance #TeamHumanity

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!

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FP

To my true mind all of the sounds of the alphabet are arbitrarily assigned symbols that represent those sounds. It’s the arbitrary part that always caused me the most trouble. Someone, somewhere in the 1st millennium BCE – likely an old, mean monk – decided the sound “pah” should look like “P” combining at least three different alphabets. Everyone acquiesced and then POOF several thousand years later I am just supposed to agree? (I can hear an english teacher I had in the 8th grade shaking her head and say, ”dear, dear, Aryn, why do make it so hard?”…)

2015-03-05-04-54-34-pmIn a way Dyslexics are natural born linguistic philosophers. No part of letters or numbers is taken for granted. It is only through conscious repetition that sound and symbol eventually get married. Now, you are saying to yourself, isn’t that true for all kids? Yes, to a degree. The difference is that there is always a lingering skepticism. There is always some air between sound, meaning and symbol. This makes reading forever slow.

“The large brown cow grazes in the green meadow.” You skim, “Lg Brwn Cow Grazes Grn Meadow”. I read “The   large   brown   cow   grazes   in   the   green   meadow”. You will forget that sentence by breakfast tomorrow. I will forever have an impression of Ferdinand with a flower behind his ear grazing in the tall green grasses outside of Madrid not remembering where I read such a lovely sentence but glad nonetheless.

Teachers are the saviors for us Dyslexics. (They can also be our biggest hurdles.. I have heard some pretty terrible stories) Good, well trained, patient, loving teachers are what make the difference. I had three that I can remember clear as day. I’m even friends on Facebook with one of them – shout to you MM! There were others, like my Chemistry teacher in the 10th grade who seeing that I was smart, but totally ill equipped for science, and wanting me to at least learn something in his class, let me write a 20 page paper on the Armenian Genocide just to pass – Thank you Mr. A. (He is Armenian and was lobbying in his off hours to have the genocide recognized officially by the UN)

There were also the countless hours with parents and guardians hovering and helping. My step mother would take dictation and type my papers for me. Into the wee hours of the night my mother would all but write my papers for me. Uncle M. would help me with geometry and my poor dad would try and muster the patience to explain multiplication again for the tenth time – 7s still give me trouble. It always confounded him that I could grasp scale, but multiplying 9×7 was torture. All this and the tutors, it truly takes a village.

My stepmother tells this story, she challenged the then headmaster of The Calhoun School to stay true to her word, that they wanted children of all learning styles. It’s right there in the mission statement still, “At Calhoun, teaching and learning begin with the strengths, needs, questions and diverse life experiences of the individual student.” I can promise you telling my stepmom “no” is not easy. So, that is where I went for eight years. Thank goodness I did. Progressive education saved me.

Most class curriculums, including most progressive formats, are based on the concept that you build up on the lessons before it. This is done linearly. The essential assumption in that concept is that the students must commit the lessons to memory and be fluid with the information. Often we do not get fluid and some simply can’t memorize any more than they could turn themselves purple. Imagine trying to do Algebra when you are still counting on your fingers.

Things like Math and Science are taught with a heavy amount of rote memorization and “it’s true because it is so”. We have already established that, for me, that argument is fruitless. I have always wondered how much easier and fun it would be, not just for the Dyslexics in the room, but all the kids, if curriculums were turned upside down and inside out. Teach the concept, the reasons, the stories and then the facts and figures. Use the numbers and signatures to illustrate the content. This way you would have a population that at least understood the basic principles of physics, even if they cannot do the problems. It should be noted here that 1 in 5 Americans are Dyslexic. Progressive could take on a new gravitas and not just be code for small classes and hands on projects.

I have mentioned this over the years to a number of teacher friends and heard all the lazy reasons why it won’t work. I can tell you that A Brief History of Time and The Tao of Physics are among my favorite books. Smart is not the issue. Different is not lesser. Once culture truly absorbs that, then anything could be possible.

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#Dyslexia #DyslexiaAwarenessMonth #Adulting #Education #LearningDisabled #Neurodiversity

Building Castles

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Castle in the Clouds by KatieRuckerArtwork

 

  • Work Hard.
  • Do what you love.
  • Leave every place and person better than when you found them.
  • We are all in this life together, moving toward the same end.

These are my values. The four pillars that hold everything else up. I assume I get them in part from my parents although they were just among the few who raised me. Countless teamsters, carpenters, wardrobe supervisors, chorus girls, production assistants, Sandra, and Unca Mark make up some of the village that raised me. The patchwork of ethics, values and morals is very … colorful. I certainly learned that people and life are kaleidoscope early.

A friend of mine always jokes that she will never play poker with me, having been taught by a teamster in Boston, it’s probably wise. There was a wealth of perspectives, values and prejudices to choose from to be sure. The 12 step tenant “Take what you like and leave the rest” has definitely been something I used to full effect. Those pillars above are what the spinner of life seems to have left as the remaining absolute truths by which I guide all my actions and build all my castles.

Working hard is what I do. I work on myself, work on my business, work at my relationships and work to try and make this world a better place. I love working hard.. In fact one of my favorite projects was re-landscaping my father’s property and doing 90% of the labor on my own. That was extremely satisfying. My Grandfather blames our work ethic on being Irish. I’m not sure.. although we are Irish. When everything starts to fall apart, my go to self help mantra is “Get back to work”. It always seems to pull me out of whatever tailspin I was starting.

Seth Godin has a good posting about this : “When you find a trick, a shortcut, a hack that gets you from here to there without a lot of sweat or risk, it’s really quite rewarding. So much so that many successful people are hooked on the trick, always looking for the next one. … There’s a meta-trick that’s far more reliable. One that works over time and doesn’t depend on avoiding being out-tricked: Make great stuff. Satisfy needs. Do the hard work that leads to growth which leads to investment on its own merit. It turns out that the trick-free approach is the best trick of all.” @thisissethsblog (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2016/09/looking-for-the-trick.html)

Lucky for me I have built a business doing what I love to do. My dad has often said, “Do what you love and hire others to do the same.” I’ve always liked that quote. Some people love book keeping. I Know right?!? But it’s true, so why take that position away from them? “Work” is not a chore for me. This is where some people get caught up.

Work does not need to be a chore, but work is work and sometimes it is not fun. If what you have is a J-O-B and you are not doing what you love or even like then get out. There are literally thousands of options of what to be and do.. So go find it. Working hard at something you love is a gift.

The other two are the intent by which I enter every interaction. I am a populist at heart and believe deeply we have an obligation to do better in every way than our parents and ancestors. My husband and I tease our son that as long as he is talking about different things than we did in therapy, we did our job right. Everyday building on what came before us and moving toward a better world and culture, with big and small actions, is ultimately why we are all here.

  • Work Hard.
  • Do what you love.
  • Leave every place and person better than when you found them.
  • We are all in this life together, moving toward the same end.

What are your pillars? How do they manifest in your life?

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!