Following an eight-week long search that began on August 15th, Dell announced that Shwood Handcrafted Wooden Eyewear has been voted as the winner of the “America’s Favorite Small Business” contest sponsored by Dell, MasterCard and Microsoft. A select panel of judges filtered the more than 200 video entries down to the best 10 submissions and invited the public to vote for their favorite.
The result? America’s favorite small business, Shwood Handcrafted Wooden Eyewear, won a $75,000 prize package and a six-part web reality show. The prizes included $25,000 in Dell solutions and Microsoft software suited to Shwood’s unique needs and a $50,000 MasterCard prepaid card. The reality show premieres today, October 25, 2011, on Dell’s Facebook page (Facebook.com/DellBusiness) and runs on Tuesday and Thursday for three weeks.
Eric Singer, founder of Shwood Handcrafted Wooden Eyewear in Portland, OR, started his company after hand carving a pair of sunglass frames from a Madrone tree limb in his back yard, adding a rusty pair of cabinet hinges, and lenses from the corner store. Yes, Singer produces wooden sunglasses – and they are becoming all the rage.
Singer went from working solo in his workshop to having approximately 20 staff members, comprised of artists, skateboarders, musicians, and various creative types to deliver their product. Today, Singer tells us about his journey in hopes of inspiring those who share the entrepreneurial dream.
Eric, tell us how did you started out.
A. The first pair of Shwood sunglasses was carved by hand and knife, out of a Madrone tree branch broken off of a neighbor's tree. The inspiration came solely from the need for something new. It was during a burnt out time on my creative life, where everything I had been doing just seemed dull. I needed a new edge, and the idea for a pair of wooded sunglasses seemed like the ultimate challenge once I had the tree branch on my hand.
Q. What were your challenges starting out and how have you overcome them?
A. The challenge was balancing this newfound creative spark with a real-time job. I didn't start actually selling the sunglasses for a profit for the first couple years I was making them. Instead, I just traded them for other things, art, food, candy, you name it. It was fun, period. Needless to say, the sunglasses weren't paying the bills, and it was getting tough to balance my full time job with my newfound obsession. I eventually quit the job, loaded up my car with wood tools and an A/C convertor, and moved to a small mountain town where I lived out of my car to snowboard and make shades from my back seat. That eventually led me to meeting the right people who partnered with me and bam. It was wildfire from there.
Q. How did you know when it was time to rent a workshop and start hiring staff?
A. Shortly after forming the company we launched an online website/store. Within a week of launching the site we were backordered 200+ pairs, without the help needed to keep up with that sort of demand. It definitely caught us off guard, and we had to think fast to keep our head above water. We quickly started scaling our production with the little amount of operating capital we had by hiring friends and moving the tools into a little 10x10 shed. Things were crazy to say the least. Luckily, we have a great team of problem solvers.
Q. Who have you looked to for guidance outside the company?
A. Anyone with any sort of business sense. There were a lot of legal documents along the way that we had to learn about as we were trying to make sunglasses. It was crazy, so any help from family, friends, college professors, and business professionals greatly helped us keep the project afloat. Looking back on the first year of forming the brand we seemed to meet the right people to help us solve whichever brick wall was standing in our way, at the right time. I still can't fully describe how we consistently overcame our challenges. Just a bunch of really great people came together, and pulled on every resource we could think of.
Q. How did you hear about the contest?
A. We purchased the Dell Vostro, and signed up for Dell's small business promotions. We received an e-mail blast about the contest, and decided to put together and submit our story. It was that simple.
Q. What will winning the contest do for your business?
A. It's going to do a lot. We will be able to set up systems that control and manage our day-to-day work flow (which is enormous considering we manufacture 100% of our products in-house). The pre-paid Mastercard will help us move into a much bigger facility, and expand our production to keep up with demand. Also, the coverage from the reality webisodes alone will send a lot of business our way.
Q. What are three tips you would give aspiring entrepreneurs about starting a business?
1) Use mistakes as a platform for growth.
2) Take calculated risks. Don't be that person who sits and wonders "what if". Be that person that does, and doesn't look back.
3) Know your own skill set, and don't wonder far from it. Confidence is important, know what you do best and don't hesitate.
In their recently published book, As We Speak; How To Make Your Point And Have It Stick, Peter Meyer’s and co-author, Shann Nix teach their audience the skill of high performance communication. Understanding these skills is imperative to any entrepreneur, even if you are not a public speaker. You can make difficult conversations easier and more effective and get your point across successfully to your customers, vendors and employees.
Today, I invited Peter to tell us more about a simple strategy that will make any pitch or conversation more convincing so that you can garner the results that you’re looking for:
You use an average of 10,000 words a day. You may engage in of hundred conversations every week and hundreds of meetings every month. You are constantly sending out tweets, emails, and phone messages.
And most of the time, you are probably starting out with the wrong word.
Chances are, you begin each communication with the word: “I.”
Why not? You might think. After all, it’s I who am calling, I who am writing. It’s all about me, right?
It’s not about you. It’s all about them.
Any time that you engage another person, you have to earn their attention. To do this, you need to talk about their favorite topic: themselves!
Change your “I-You ratio.” Start with the word “You,” and try to use ten “You’s” for every “I”.
Every listener you have is bombarded by roughly 2500 claims on his attention every day, by means of television, Internet, advertising, phone calls and texts. We spend most of our time sifting through a barrage of information and quickly deciding what we want to listen to, and what we don’t. Most things get shuffled into the “don’t” pile.
But when you start with the word “you,” you are speaking to the listener’s interest. You become instantly relevant. Why? Because they don’t really care about you, they care about themselves.
What are you going to do for them? What have you got to offer them? Can you create clarity where they’re confused? Can you provide insight where there’s doubt? And most importantly, can you identify what they really care about in your first three sentences?
Listen to the opening words of any speech or meeting that you attend today. Read any e-mail that you’ve received – or written! Chances are, it will begin with the word “I,” and carry on focusing on “I” all the way through.
Does this sound familiar?
“I’ve been in this business a long time and I bring a great deal of experience and expertise. I’m confident that I can bring an enormous amount of energy and insight to the company, and I feel quite confident that I can provide an excellent service in the work you’re doing.”
Are you interested? Engaged? Compelled?
Probably not. And why not?
Because the speaker is talking about nothing but himself.
Notice that there is a single reference to the other person, but it doesn’t come until the very end of the paragraph. This statement is not about service; it’s all about the speaker.
Now turn it around.
“After meeting you, it’s clear that your business is on the verge of tremendous growth. You’re facing some challenges that many companies at this stage of growth have faced before. I’m confident that together, we can help you accelerate your business and take you to the next level of success.”
It really is that simple. Just change your “I-You ratio.” If you want to get someone’s interest, put the spotlight on the word “you.” We’re not saying never use the word “I” …but when you do, make sure that it is in the service of the word “you”!
The same principle applies when you are sitting down to have a courageous conversation with an employee. Instead of saying, “I’m going to talk to you about what I need, what I expect and how I want you to behave,” try it this way:
“You’ve been with us for two years now, and you’ve talked several times about your desire to get to the next level of the company. You’ve worked hard and you deserve it - but there are a few things holding you back. I’d like to share some of those with you, and get your feedback.”
Here’s more good news: what works in the office also works at home. Try changing the I-You ratio with your children, or with your spouse. Check it out in your e-mails, and notice the different response you get.
Why does it work? Because this is not about manipulation. It’s about authenticity. You need to actually serve the people with whom you are in dialogue. If you want them to focus their attention on your words, you must genuinely demonstrate your intention to meet their needs.
After all these centuries and all the technology we’ve developed, there are still only two ways to influence people. First, there’s the medieval technique of coercion: “Do it because I tell you to.” Second, there’s the more enlightened way: meet someone’s needs. When people feel that their needs are being met, they will walk through fire for you.
That’s because everybody wakes up in the morning and asks the same question – how can I get my needs met today? That’s the only question most of us ask, all day long.
So, in your next conversation or email, whether you’re having a tough conversation or pitching your business, ask yourself: “What basic human need am I addressing?”
Change your “I-You ratio.” And make sure that it’s all about them.
Learn more about powerful and effective communication from Peter during our discussion on The Million Dollar Mindset. You are welcome to call in with questions if you catch the live show! Monday, October 24th at 2-3pm ET. See you there!
Peter Meyers is the founder of Stand & Deliver Consulting Group. He teaches performance and leadership skills at Stanford University, Esalen Institute, and IMD-International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland.
Today I received an email from someone inquiring about life coaching. Apparently, life has thrown her some curve balls and she asks, “Why is it that difficult circumstances always seem to come along and force change in our lives?” My answer, “Because change is long overdue.”
We naturally resist change, even when our current circumstances are less than ideal. Fear is the great and powerful obstacle here. Fear of the unknown; of losing something or someone important to us; of things not working out the way we envision; fear of failure – or success. These are all common barriers to change. But when does the pain of living an unsatisfactory life begin to outweigh all of that fear? And how do we tip the scales on this burdensome fear?
When we are dissatisfied with something in life, we tend to focus on the negative instead of what we most desire. You’ll notice that when this cycle of negativity is in place it breeds and attracts more negativity. “Good” things seem to be far and few between. This is simply a law of energy and nature. It is, in fact, nature’s way of pushing us closer and closer to a necessary change. Sometimes we get the hint; sometimes we choose to remain in the endless cycle of suffering.
Have you been focusing your attention on the negative for longer than you’d like to admit? For some that might be a few weeks, for others – years. Is it time to make a critical change in your personal or business life; time to tip the scales on your fear?
I once coached an amazing woman who owned a niche retail store in a tourist town. She worked twelve or more hours a day, had a second mortgage on her home and struggled to pay her employees on time. This cycle went on for years, until she came into coaching and learned that she had the power to change her circumstances. She could consider closing her store and take a different path toward what she really wanted. She learned that she could accept change more easily by recognizing the freedom and good that could come into her life, rather than the negative. She closed her store. But she turned her focus toward becoming a recognized expert in her much-loved industry niche. She is now having the time of her life as a consultant and trade association board member - without the excessive workload and financial stress.
Consider and address your fear of change by discussing it with someone who is not directly impacted by your situation. Tip the scales on your fear by realizing that it is simply your perception of what “could” happen. You have the power to create a positive change by finding the good in every possible outcome and believing in your ability to adapt and thrive. What you perceive as negative may not, in actuality, be all that negative if you take the time to examine the reality and allow for a better possible result.
Do female entrepreneurs think big enough? Do we possess a natural disposition that keeps us from growing a small business into a booming success? Unravel the mystery with me as I interview former and founding executive director of the Center for Women’s Business Research, Dr. Hadary on The Million Dollar Mindset.
Cold calling and telephone prospecting are not a favorite activity for the majority of us. In fact, most will avoid the task – which is fine, as long as you have other powerful marketing tactics in place. Certainly with the development of social media we have other means to market our wares, but many business models still benefit from the power of good old-fashioned cold calling.
Many sales experts now dispute the effectiveness of cold calling but I’ve worked with quite a few successful business owners who credit this daunting process for much of their sales success. And certainly the large majority of highly successful network marketers turn to their call lists when revenues need a boost. Network marketing organizations suggest cold calling as the primary means to build your business, but it’s not always that simple.
The sad truth is that most people give up on their commitment to the process after a single “no”. Cold calling is filled with rejection and anticipation of conflict, but does it have to be interpreted in this way? Is a “no” really a personal rejection? I don’t think so; after all doesn’t a person have to know something about you to reject you personally? When the recipient of your phone call says no, they are referring to your offer, not you.
Still, it can be a tough pill to swallow so why not make it a team effort, a friendly competition and a positive experience? That’s what this creative entrepreneur does to keep her sales team happy and her business thriving.
Dawn Gluskin, Founder and CEO of Florida based Soltec Electronics, actually likes cold calling. She views it as a competitive sport and shares her enthusiasm with her staff of four sales reps. “Not many people, even sales reps, look forward to cold calling,” Dawn acknowledges. “So we created the Cold Call Power Hour at Soltec. Why not make it fun and learn from the process?”
Twice a week Dawn and her sales team meet in the Soltec sales room manned with phones and call lists. No email access, no incoming calls to disrupt the process; only a determined attitude and an hour of getting into the cold calling groove.
“Hearing one another’s approach is very helpful and seeing top sales people get 'rejected' or encounter someone with an unfriendly attitude helps the less experienced reps see it happens to everyone,” says Gluskin. “We just keep going, build momentum and enjoy the results.”
Each of Soltec’s team members come to the Power Hour with a focus. “Don’t just pick up the phone and make random calls,” suggests Gluskin. “Create a targeted list of people who haven’t bought in six months, people in a specific geographic area or a certain type of business. This approach assists you in staying focused and creating a groove,” she says.
Dawn and her team see great results from their twice weekly Cold Calling Power Hour events. They even keep a chart in the conference room to show their new accounts and create a friendly competition. “We always get at least one strong lead and one of our reps even made a sale right on the phone during a recent Power Hour,” Dawn says. Participation is mandatory and it’s a date that everyone keeps. Certainly, the results reflect this dedication. Soltec Electronics has enjoyed a sizeable increase in sales since implementing the Power Hour process.
Of course, as a solopreneur, you don’t necessarily have a team of sales reps – or a conference room for that matter. BUT, you do have peers who are faced with the same aversion to telephone prospecting. Why not begin a weekly Power Hour of your own? Gather a small group of soloists and support one another in getting in the groove and getting results!
Productivity is a hot topic because so many people (especially entrepreneurs) are productivity-challenged. If you missed last week’s post, an interview with author Peter Bregman, be sure to check it out for some great productivity tips!
Today, let’s take a look at setting some goals and actually motivating yourself to achieve them!
If you have had the same goals for What-Seems-Like-Forever then you are most likely quite productivity challenged. You may be thinking, “Hey, I work hard all day,” but are you working on the RIGHT things? Probably not. If you’re chasing your tail working IN your business instead of ON your business, go back to the drawing board and take a look at your business model. You might consider hiring a business coach to help you find the answers and put things in order. But if you know that, with a few tweaks to your day, you can get the important things done, then ask yourself the following questions:
- What are my three most important goals?
- What gets in the way and prevents me from achieving these goals?
- Do I have any fears or emotional blocks that tell me I can’t – or shouldn’t – achieve my goals?
- Do I have an effective productivity model in place? (Such as the one that Peter suggests in his interview and book).
- What are two to three action steps that I can take this week to get closer to the completion of each of my goals?
- What support system do I have in place? (Such as an assistant, business partner, coach, mentor)
Some other things to consider:
Have you ever tracked your time? If you are busy but you’re not getting the critical things done, then you are probably spending way too much time on-line, on the phone, playing spider solitaire or doing household chores. The magnitude of this time wasted won’t hit you until you track your time on paper or a spreadsheet for about three days. Seeing things in black and white has quite the impact!
Think about what motivates you to achieve your goals. If you don’t have a great motivator you can’t kick yourself into high gear effectively. What positive things motivate you?
- Verbal praise
- Simple celebrations
Think about the things that make you feel good when you’ve achieved something important; what reinforces your productive behavior? Now think about whether or not you have a system in place to deliver that reinforcement. If you are motivated by verbal praise, but you don't share your progress with someone who will praise you, it doesn’t get you very far, does it? So tell a friend, your spouse – even your mom – how important this is to you and ask them to be your “praise partner”!
If you are motivated by reward, but the money isn’t coming fast enough, reward yourself in simple ways. Set a goal for the day and when you achieve it treat yourself to something special: a walk in nature, a night out with your friends, a round of golf, an extra hour or two of relaxation over the weekend – whatever does it for you!
Who, other than yourself, holds you accountable for your goals? Having someone to report to has an enormous impact on productivity levels. You can ask a friend or peer to be your accountability partner. If you do this make sure to outline expectations and set a schedule. Meet once a week to report in. Have specific goals and measurements in place and hold one another to them! Not wanting to disappoint someone other than yourself might just be the ticket to spark a fire under your productivity engine!
If you would like serious accountability and support check out my Take Action! Accountability Group. It begins this Wednesday, October 5th, and I have two seats remaining!
Do you ever get to the end of a busy day only to realize that next to nothing has been taken off of your “to do” list? What if you could take back some of the hours in your day? What would you do differently? The problem is that many business owners don’t know what to do about their lack of productivity. Or, like everything else, they put off their commitment to get things under control.
In 18 MINUTES: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done, author Peter Bregman delivers a series of quick-hitting chapters that teach us how to navigate through the never-ending chatter of emails, text messages, phone calls, and endless meetings that prevent us from focusing our time on those things that really matter.
Today, Peter has answered some of my questions here at The Successful Soloist and he will be joining me for an in-depth interview on The Million Dollar Mindset at 2pm ET. Make sure to join us there or download the podcast at a later date.
Q. In 18 Minutes you encourage your readers to focus on things that matter to them; things that have specific meaning. You suggest exploring what matters, what’s working well, what we feel neutral about, and what alienates us. What choices do you feel a solopreneur has if certain aspects of managing his business don’t appeal to him?
A. One of the great advantages to being a solopreneur is the ability to structure the business to match - almost perfectly - what I call the 4 elements: the particular strengths, weaknesses, differences, and passions of the solopreneur. And with the accessibility and availability of outsourcing, that’s never been easier. The first thing to do if an aspect of your business doesn’t appeal to you is to ask whether it’s essential to the business. If it’s not - or if you can change the business to make it less important - then get rid of it. If it is important and it doesn’t appeal to you, outsource it if at all possible.
All of us succeed - this is especially true for solopreneurs - when we work at the intersection of the 4 elements. If you can structure your business so it allows you to leverage your strengths, embrace your weaknesses, assert your differences, and pursue your passions, you will be playing the game you know you can win.
Q. Peter, your book is filled with insightful messages intended to help the reader find the path to happiness and fulfillment. Do you believe that individuals who are productivity-challenged are simply on the “wrong” path?
A. Any of us can be productivity challenged, even when we are in exactly the right place, doing the right things, with the right other people. In fact, sometimes I become productivity challenged precisely because I have too many right things to do. It’s an interesting dynamic I’ve recently discovered - When everything is important, working on a single task becomes psychologically difficult because it means we are choosing not to work on all the other things that we know are also important. So we end up watching TV or eating ice cream or buying running sneakers instead of doing the work that’s important to us. It doesn’t make any sense and yet it’s a dynamic I’ve found myself in and watch other people struggle with all the time.
There’s another dynamic at play: the more important your work is to you, the more likely you are to procrastinate on it. This is because you have more at stake in work that’s close to your heart. Failure might leave your very identity in question. Maybe you can’t be a writer/solopreneur/online marketing maven/technologist after all. And so you don’t get started. All these are examples of being productivity-challenged while being on the right path.
The solution is in creating a system that gets you to focus on the most important things - that’s what my six box to do list and my 18 Minute process are all about.
Q. You suggest that the secret to thriving in life is to do fewer things – the things that are most important. How does a busy solopreneur determine what to choose?
A. I suggest that everyone choose five things that they most want to focus on in a year. Five things that put you at the intersection of the four elements - Strengths, Weaknesses, Differences, and Passions - and that are most meaningful. I specifically discourage people from trying to find their mission in life. If you have one, great. But if not, it can be paralyzing to try to find it. So simply focus on what you want to spend your time doing in the next year. I ask three major questions in my book - What is This Year About? What is This Day About? What is This Moment About? It’s critically important to answer the first question before the second. Otherwise we’ll spend our days frantically working but not getting us where we want to go. Once you place yourself at the intersection of you strengths, weaknesses, differences, and passions then you will naturally be working on the things you’re good at, make you happy, and have meaning to you. Choose those things to spend your time on.
Q. I appreciate your “3-day rule”- nothing stays on the to-do list for longer than 3 days. Do you find that there is any specific psychology behind allowing things to stagnate on our lists for days, weeks, even months?
A. Yes. Many of us are afflicted with a disease called FOMO or Fear of Missing Opportunities. So we add things to our list and, even though we are unlikely to accomplish many of them, we keep them there. Unfortunately, that quickly transforms our to do list into a guilt list; a list of everything we think we should be doing but can’t get to. Which then makes it hard to identify the things that are most important to us. The answer to this is to make more intentional choices about what we are going to do and what we are going to ignore. It’s hard to say “no” to something we’d like to do - but if it doesn’t reasonably fit into the areas we most want to focus on in a year, then it’s a distraction and we need to pass it by.
Q. Peter, many of my clients are faced with email overload. Can you suggest a few steps to address/manage this problem?
A. One thing is to delete liberally - If you have an inkling that something is not critical, don’t read it. Also, be very careful what you reply and to whom. You can either keep a conversation going or politely close it - choose carefully which you want to do for a particular email. Finally, I find it is much less efficient - and far more distracting - to answer email as it comes in. Instead, choose email times and go through them all at once - you’ll be much better at making decisions and responding if you’ve cordoned off the time.
Q. Entrepreneurs are notorious for losing focus. With so much information coming at us how can we avoid constant distraction?
A. It’s hard. It helps to resist the temptation to multitask. Because multi tasking simply doesn’t work - it slows us down and makes us lose focus. Apple’s new operating system has integrated full screen views into many applications - so, if you want, you can make the thing you are working on the only thing that appears on your screen. That’s a great tool to fight distraction. Another thing is to avoid interruptions. Use a timer and decide how long you are going to work on something and then, no matter what, don’t change your focus until your timer goes off.
Researchers watched people work and noticed, on average, that people were interrupted four times each hour. But here’s the interesting part - they often didn’t go back to what they were working on before they were interrupted. And here’s the really, really interesting part: the more challenging the work was that they were doing before they were interrupted, the less likely it was that they would return to it after the interruption. In other words, we’re most likely to lose focus on our most important work.
Q. Lastly, many solopreneurs work from home. What are some important factors in creating a workspace that is conducive to high productivity levels?
A. Put a lock on your home office door. I have three young kids so that helps tremendously. I also find it’s helpful to define times during the day when you aren’t going to work - breaks, lunch, errands - which creates a boundary around your work time. This way you can stay focused, knowing exactly when that break is coming up.
Also, know your rhythm. I do my best writing in the morning - so if I cordon off a few hours to write before I even look at email, I know I’ll be productive. Once you know your rhythms, schedule your day around them. That’s the key to all of this really - especially solopreneurs - know yourself well and build things around you so that you can bring the best of who you are out into the world.|
Don’t forget to tune into my interview with Peter on The Million Dollar Mindset where he reveals more about 18 Minutes and productivity solutions that could result in making you a top producer!
A sale takes two people, but not just any two people. An effective sale is most often achieved between two (or more) people who have synergy between them and understand the desired outcome for, not just one, but both parties. No matter what business you are in, you sell. You sell yourself, your product and/or your vision. And to do so with great success depends on your skill in creating synergy between you and your prospects, potential investors, partners and employees.
I recall going into an electronics store to peruse the PC inventory when I was evaluating my choices for a new computer. A sales guy approached me and asked how he could help. I began to respond but wasn’t able to get a full sentence out before he interrupted to embark upon an annoying soliloquy citing his personal comparative analysis between brands. It was as though I didn’t even exist.
With my arms crossed and my eyes searching for the fastest route to the exit I began to stew about this man’s shortsightedness. But it wouldn’t have been too late for him to save the day and sell me a computer because I really did not want to spend the day wandering from store to store. How could he not notice my body language? And my disinterest was clearly written on my face, I made sure of it. But he was too absorbed in his own interests to notice.
No matter what your personality, you can create synergy between you and another party, simply by observing their body language, tone and speech patterns. If you have only one mode of communication, odds are you are selling to only one personality type. Enhance your communication style and sell to a wider range of prospects. Here are a few basic tips, experiment with them and see how they work for you.
Body language gives us critical cues in conversation but don’t make immediate assumptions and misinterpret it. Take your time and get to know your audience. For instance, while crossed arms can often indicate strong objection, this position can also indicate another form of resistance or discomfort. Many of my clients who are dealing with forms of emotional distress will sit across from me with their arms crossed because they know that we are going to discuss topics that may feel uncomfortable to them. Don’t assume that someone is disinterested when they strike this position, their resistance may only mean that you have your work cut out for you.
It’s important to put your audience ease. If they assume a position that indicates resistance, like crossed arms, go ahead and mirror that position. Now speak in calm tones and with confidence, but not arrogance, and then slowly uncross your arms and sit comfortably with your arms on your lap or at your sides. If you’ve done your job well, your companion will follow suit. When they do, you will know that you are one step closer to engaging them completely.
The same goes for someone who is shaking their leg or tapping on the arm of their chair. Pay attention to these critical cues, subtly mimic their behavior and switch to a more receptive pose when the time is right.
You can also use mimicking and mirroring for other body language cues, just to create a subconscious connection. Crossed legs, clasped hands, crossed ankles and so on. The person will feel a connection to you, even if he doesn’t completely understand what it is. Be subtle and assume a similar or the exact body position and remain in that position slightly longer than the other person. It’s not necessary to do this during your entire meeting, only long enough to create that important bond.
Also listen for verbal cues. If you are a kinesthetic person, you will use words like, feel, touch, grasp, tap into and so on. But if you are speaking with someone who has a visual representational system these words are of a foreign language to them. They will use words like, see, imagine and picture this. So when you ask this person how it would feel to own this shiny new widget, rather than asking them to imagine owning the widget, you are not going to get their full cooperation. To determine a person’s representational system listen to the predicates they use and utilize them yourself. Now you’re speaking the same language.
The most critical point here is to step away from your own intentions and step into the intention of understanding your audience and creating a meaningful connection with them. Listen, observe, be flexible and calm. Stay in the moment instead of racing ahead to what you are going to say next. What you say is not nearly as important as what you hear and what you see.
We’ve all witnessed or experienced the affects of bullying in children, but adults are not immune to bullying characteristics. An adult bully will attempt to gain power over another person, and make himself or herself the dominant adult. The customer who refuses to play by the rules, always pushing the checkout clerk to the limits, or the guy in bumper to bumper traffic who beeps incessantly are good examples of an adult bully. Hopefully, you don’t experience this behavior in others too often and surely you do not treat others in this way – but how do you treat yourself? And, as a result, how do you treat your business?
Self-bullying is one of the most negative, destructive behaviors that we can engage in, yet it’s not all that uncommon in the uncertain entrepreneur. Do you demand perfection from yourself? Do you shoulder the burden of responsibility when things don’t work out quite as you’d planned? Do you sometimes call yourself names and entertain the voice within that constantly tells you that you “should have done this and could have done that”? Perhaps you negate your achievements and criticize yourself for not doing more, noticing the slightest imperfection in nearly everything you do. If any of these behaviors ring true, it’s time to have a chat with your inner-bully.
The inner-bully has probably been a part of you for a long, long time and if you are ready to achieve your ultimate success – you must tame the bully within! Her destructive behavior may prevent you from taking risk, presenting yourself with confidence, believing that you are capable of achieving and living your dream and more.
Think about the occasions when you verbally beat yourself up over something that “should have” turned out differently. Now think about an opportunity or project that you rejected or talked yourself out of, even though it could have helped your business. Surely, the two are related. Does that inner-bully come to the surface to bully you into believing that you are not capable? Does that nagging voice convince you that it will never change and that you are just too “this” and too “that” to succeed in something that really challenges you? If the bully within is determined enough, you have probably held yourself back quite a number of times.
Whether Mr. or Ms. Bully keeps you from the big wins or from taking on a challenge or change in your life and business, acknowledging this negative self-talk is your first step to freedom. Remember that there are varying levels of this behavior and it is wise to consider outside help in form of a therapist or life coach if it is rooted deeply in childhood experiences that still have a hold over you.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to begin to curb that bullying voice within.
When your inner-bully speaks out, evaluate the emotion that is connected to it and try to put those feelings in perspective. If you are afraid of failing, for instance, ask yourself if you can you really fail? What if you do fail; will it be truly catastrophic? What is the worst possible outcome? Will you feel better if you don’t move forward and play it safe, or if you try your hand at this and allow a bit of imperfection in your life?
You might also explore if are you afraid of letting someone else down? What do you think that person would say about that?
After asking yourself these questions and spending some time facing the facts you may be ready to identify and initiate one small step that will challenge the bully and take you toward achieving something that you can feel proud of.
If you continue to return to this routine, each time the bully within you speaks up, you will change the thought patterns associated with risk-taking and trying new things. Go ahead, step out and believe in YOU! Your business will thank you!
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