Four and a half years ago, I was in a mental hospital. A combination of a tumor forming in my pituitary gland altering my brain chemistry and an abusive relationship situation proved to be my breaking point. I needed help. Thankfully, I asked for it.
The three days and three nights I spent in that hospital were some of the worst of my life. I won’t go into details here, but it wasn’t a place for my healing. When I finally escaped (which is what it felt like) I went to an intensive outpatient group therapy program where, for 10 hours a week, I learned to manage my illness, change my thought processes, and how to understand what was going on in my mind (neurotransmitters and synapses and uptake—oh my!).
In recovery, you learn not to beat yourself up (in my case, literally) for what you “should” have done because, quite frankly, if you were capable of making a better choice at that point in time, you would have done so. My therapist would stop us mid-sentence if we used the s-word, “No should-ing!” she’d say.
This lesson, more than others, stuck with me. And as an entrepreneur, I find myself caught into the should-ing trap more than I’d like to admit. I try to stop using the s-word.
Start counting the times during a day where you put this conditional word into conversations. In the majority of cases it’s not a healthy word, and it’s also relatively powerless as a language tool.
“I should’ve picked a different website theme.”
“I should think about alternative sources of income.”
“I shouldn’t have rushed that report.”
We’re should-ing all over ourselves!
If you knew that the theme you chose wouldn’t satisfy your business or aesthetic needs when you made the decision, you would have chosen differently. Should-ing this is nothing more than a veiled complaint at best, and an excuse for further lacks in productivity at worse.
“A website theme with X functionality would better suit my needs.”
“I will brainstorm additional sources of income.”
“I need to manage time better so I don’t rush reports.”
And then, of course, take action on these statements.
Or, even worse—we should all over others!
“You should’ve ended that relationship a long time ago.”
“You should change your business model.”
“You shouldn’t have hired that consultant.”
There’s little to no benefit that can come from this powerless, conditional word. At the absolute best, you get someone to realize that you think he made a poor decision and therefore he evaluates his actions in hindsight (but only after realizing that he has lost standing in your eyes). At worst, you’re belittling someone’s decision, placing blame, and giving no direction whatsoever.
The words we use speak volumes. When you’re working with clients, you want to communicate confidence. When you’re talking to a friend, you want to communicate empathy. “Should” does not fit into either of these scenarios.
In the words of Yoda “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Be proactive with your language. Give direction, not condition. Use powerful words that give advice, not powerless words that place blame.
Stop should-ing. Start doing.
Jill Schiefelbein, Impromptu Guru, is a communication expert who doesn’t like should being thrown at her. She helps others communicate with confidence and be prepared to speak well any time and every time. Learn more at impromptuguru.com or watch her in action on YouTube.
Dear Aspiring Entrepreneur, You’re Doing It Wrong
You’re an entrepreneur. A go-getter. A world changer. A starter-upper. The only problem is you’re still working for someone else, for now. You’re saving money, trying to cut expenses, getting up at 5 am, sharing the “master plan” with friends and family. You watch the minutes tick tock by, put in as little effort as possible, and then sprint home to get back to work on your side business. Many, if not most, entrepreneurs start hustling while still employed for someone else. That’s not the issue. The issue is that successful entrepreneurs realize that no matter where they are employed, they are working for themselves.
If you really want to achieve your goal of going out on your own, it’s time to figure out a way to leverage your current situation. Even if you have reached the ceiling at the company. Even if your boss is worse than Darth Vader. Even if you’re surrounded by complainers, coasters or haters. How? From now on, your day job is:
I know how hard it is to stay motivated on projects at work when your heart and brain want to be shaping your business into reality. But what if you saw every challenge at work as an potential resume builder in order to land a better job. Yes, another job, but a better one. A raise would allow you to put more into savings and pay down your debt faster. A company with a better reputation or higher visibility gets your name in front of more eventual-potential-customers. Plus, establishing yourself as someone who is moving, shaking and getting promoted in your industry easily translates into momentum for the launch of your own brand.
When is the last time you went over and asked a friend in accounting what they were tackling that day? Or if you’re an accountant, when is the last time you went and asked someone in marketing how they come up with creative content? Remember you will be ALL of the departments when you launch your venture. Learn as much as you can all day everyday. If your boss ticks everyone off, what can you learn for your future employees? If the company loses a large client or giant product order, why? How can you make sure you don’t make that mistake?
I know, I know, similar to practice field, but hear me out. Practice fields are situational, but you, at the gym, that’s personal. Even though working on our passions is the most fulfilling, we don’t have to let our entrepreneurial muscles atrophy for 40 hrs a week, we can use that time! Take a look around your workplace and try and find holes to fill or problems to solve. Creativity takes practice. Staying laser focused takes practice. Innovation takes practice. Effective problem solving takes practice. The more you “work out” at your job, the more prepared you’ll be to do the heavy lifting for your own brand.
Kelsey Humphreys is the author of GO SOLO: How to Quit the Job You Hate and Start a Small Business You Love and an emerging authority on the subjects of branding, marketing, entrepreneurship and personal development. After starting her career as a graphic designer, her passion for those subjects led her to become the Associate Creative Director at one of Oklahoma’s largest advertising agencies. She then landed an international client and was able to quit her dream job for her dream; starting her own business. Now she speaks, consults, coaches, and writes to help other multi-passionate entrepreneurs avoid her mistakes and launch a solo business they’ll truly love.
Humphreys lives in Oklahoma City with her high school sweetheart husband, their daughter, and two feisty dogs. Follow Kelsey on twitter @kelseyhumphreysRead More
It doesn’t matter if you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a T-ball coach. Life presents us with leadership opportunities. I have been in education for 15 years. I’ve been a head coach for football, basketball, and track. However, the one role that has taught me the most about leadership is being a father of six. Fatherhood has taught me three important lessons on what it means to be a true leader.
People want to know they matter to you. Time is the greatest indicator of value we have to give. But what I’ve learned is that quality matters more than quantity.
At this moment I am a teacher and football coach. I spend two hours at home during the workweek that I can give to my family. I have more time on the weekends, but I have work responsibilities, too. There is no way I can give time to every child, every night. I don’t even try.
I DO make sure my children have my full attention – no cell phone. I make the conversation about what is going on in their life. Or with my younger kids, I let them choose the book to read before bed, and I make sure I tell them, in some form that I love them.
You might not want to start a staff meeting with the words, “I love you, guys.” But you can tell people they matter to your organization by turning off your phone before you engage in conversation. Ask questions about life outside the office. It is not easy to give time to everyone, but it is worth giving people quality time as a leader because people want to know they matter.
This lesson is not about steps that make things run smoothly. It is about connecting to the purpose of the routines we establish, whether it is having a monthly meeting or doing tackling stations every practice.
Here is an example; people are always amazed that our family is always on time. We have a morning routine that allows us to be on time. My wife and I get up an hour before our kids. We wake our kids with enough time for them to have breakfast and get ready for the day. When we have a rough morning, instead of yelling at the kids, we reinforce that we need to be on time. It doesn’t always make the morning easier, just that the kids do understand why, and we stay on schedule.
In leadership positions we create routines, but many times we don’t communicate to others why we are doing it. Sometimes we even create routines because others have done it that way. Spend a little time investigating the routines you have. Can you express why they are there? Are there things you want to improve? Implementing a new routine, with a clear understanding of why, will help in that area. One aspect of being a true leader is achieving outcomes; connect how you achieve those outcomes with the why.
We all know we should eat right, exercise, and drink more water. This is hard to do in the simple busyness of life. Add a leadership role to the schedule, and now it seems to be impossible. But it has to be done.
This summer I went to see my doctor because I was just not feeling right. I knew it wasn’t the flu or allergies. It was a blood pressure reading of 165/120. Hypertension. Easily fixed with medication and improving my eating and exercise. This is where being a dad really made an impact. When I got home my little girls all wanted to know if I was OK. All I could think of was how I needed to be here in good health to see my kids grow up.
Being at our best means taking care of ourselves; especially for the people we have the honor of leading.
I gave a marketing presentation a couple of weeks ago and shared 4 painful lessons that I’ve learned after 17 years of business ownership . Please pay close attention to them. Follow them and you’ll prosper. Ignore them and you’ll flounder and eventually die as a business.
Everything else (SEO, Web Design, Email Marketing, accounting, product creation, etc) should be given to somebody else ASAP. (Caveat: As a speaker you obviously have to deliver the speeches too).
Someplace in some form you should have a “COMPANYNAME process manual”. If you are not around your staff and/or spouse should be able to refer to this to know how to do everything you do.
Don’t be cheap in this area. We’ll spend $5 on coffee without missing a beat but whince on spending $29/month on something that brings new leads into your business.Read More
I don’t know that I am a thought leader . But I was called one about eight months ago. It is not something I was working on – it just kind of happened. It is not something I am going to brag about in books or put behind my name in every conference presentation. I think that the “status: kind of just developed over time. But my insight may help you to see how to get your thoughts noticed.
If you were to talk to my close friends and family, they would probably tell you that I am “argumentative”. Of course I’ve never seen it that way, and what do they know right? But I do tend to look at conversations and situations from a jaded point of view. Or at least from a point of view that most people do not approach. When people say that “A B C are facts” I’ll tend to challenge them and make the conversation go deeper. When I go to conference after conference and I see experts on stage all saying the same thing about a topic, I tend to start investigating the topic on my own time and see how much of what they say is fact and how much is self-aggrandising speaker hot air. ( I hope other speakers and conference attendees do that about what I say. I might be lying! )
About a year ago I was having drinks with a very smart gentleman named Corey Perlman who is a brilliant social media speaker. We are both members of the National Speakers Association and were both at the same annual conference. (Sidebar: You should look at joining the NSA. There is no better place to network with successful speakers). He said something to me that I’ll never forget:
Patrick – I love the stuff you post online. You are such a contrarian.
“Wow” I thought. Corey is a pretty popular guy in his field so to get a compliment from him felt pretty good. Plus we were a bunch of professional speakers out having drinks and the truth usually comes out when we’ve had a few.
Fast forward to eight months ago. I was approached by one of the editors of Speaker Magazine (the official magazine of the National Speakers Association) who wanted me to write a featured article for one of the sections. Part of the email that encouraged me to write said:
A fellow NSA member, and friend of yours, recommended you as a thought leader on social media and marketing, if that helps sway your opinion one way or another
I’ve got an ego just like everybody else – of course this is going to sway me. That phrase had never been used on me before and it felt great.
Since that initial email the phrase has been used several more times about me – publicly and privately. I run a private Facebook group (click here to apply to join) that helps speakers market themselves better in the world. I’ve received constant praise for my work in that group. I didn’t think I was doing anything special; I’m just helping out a bunch of speakers in a quiet, spam-free environment. And that brings to me how I think YOU can become a thought leader also.
Here are the behaviors that I believe caused someone to call me a “thought leader” status:
Having a Voice – This is the most important step. Too many people in this world “talk about talking”. And few… very few… actually stand up and voice their opinion on a topic. Most people would rather keep their heads down and blend in . Life is safe when you just keep ducking and keep your mouth shut. However if you want to be recognized for your opinion or your accomplishments, you cannot be shy with your voice. When your become a blogger, a speaker, a teacher or a television personality you are going to have to get past your shyness and get on a platform.
Being a contrarian – If you ever hear something in a conversation that sounds stupid or read something on the internet and think “well that just sounds stupid” THEN SAY SO (even if it comes from me). Be tactful about it, but jump on it if it just does not seem right and share your opinion about it. There will be at least one person who will agree with you. But they don’t have the courage to say it. So when you do voice your contrarian opinion you are likely speaking for several people. (This is the reason that it has always annoyed me that Facebook only gives you a LIKE button and not a DISLIKE button.)
Don’t be afraid to call experts out – This is kind of like being a contrarian, but with the addition of addressing specific people that you do not agree with. When several popular experts tend to have the same opinion about a topic, it is time for someone to look at the other side. And if you don’t agree with what an expert says, feel free to call them out on their opinion via video, blogging or social media (or even in person if you get the chance). We tend to believe anybody that stands on stage and speaks. There is a dangerous trend in the world of speakers/experts. They tend to repeat each other. I’ll take social media as an example. All you have to do is go to about two social media conferences and you will like hear everything you’d hear at a future conference. Experts (of which I like to think I am one) tend to parrot each other. They/We will go to conference, see someone say something that appears insightful, and then repeat it to our tribe. This can be dangerous if the original source of the information didn’t have their facts straight.
I’d like to wrap this up with a great quote I heard recently.
You don’t have to be best in the world. You just have to be the best in THEIR (i.e. Your audience) world.
Being a thought leader means being the best you can be for YOUR tribe. If you follow my guidelines above will be on the right path.
I live online. And I am highly engaged in the world of social media. Sometimes it is the first thing I check in the morning for new communications, and the last thing I check at night to see if there has been any new activity in my private groups. If I’m not careful I could easily spend a full day participating in discussions on private Facebook groups. In this podcast I talk about how to be sure that your time is managed well while you are online. If you are running a business and trying to find balance in your world, then this is a great episode to listen to.
Listen to the podcast. Watch the video. And then share your thoughts with me in the comments.Read More
Every time a speaker/author/marketer tells you that “the rules have changed” in life/business/marketing, they are likely bullshitting you. Don’t buy into the same message that is constantly polished and repackaged. The rules on how to kick ass at life have been the same for a long time:
There are many other rules. But if you focus on these four you’ll pretty have your life covered.
Spend time improving your own house and less time commenting on someone else’s
You read it right. Start Selling Less If You Want To Sell More. It seems counter-intuitive. And I know there will be plenty of people who have been in sales for decades that disagree with me.
If you are “that sales guy/gal”, here are some general unscientific facts about how people feel about you:
Ladies and gentlemen I just found this great article for you to read:
Pay very close attention to #1. Write it down. Make it your backdrop and your screensaver. Tattoo it on your … well you get my point.
No skill you ever learn in life will get you as far as plain old people skills. The art of conversation. The art of listening. The art of shutting up. The art of using your eyes and ears twice as much as your mouth. If you are an introvert I am sorry – you are not going to make it far when it comes to business and entrepreneurship. And maybe you don’t want to. I am not trying to dog you if that is your thing. But if your goal is to be a star then you have got to start getting your mad crazy people skillz in motion.
When I think back of all of the successes I have had over the past two decades just about all of them came from my people skills, either directly or indirectly. I have contracts that started off as casual airport conversations. I have lifelong friends because of an humorous encounter in a coffee shop.
Hey you pushy sales guys this is for you: I am not heavily into being a salesman but I know all I need to know from the great lady that was my real estate broker. Right after I got my real estate license several years ago she was teaching us about how to fill our pipe. Her words – verbatim – where
The first thing you do is you make a friend. You then sell your friend a house.
Now go out there today and make 5 new friends. Do not eat lunch alone. I’ll even help you out. If you are in Oklahoma City drop me a comment here.Read More