I have a love/hate thing for those cutesy sayings slapped on inspirational photos.
Be a warrior not a worrier.
The first step toward getting anywhere is deciding you are no longer willing to stay where you are.
I already know what giving up feels like. I want to see what happens if I don’t.
These are the cat videos of the business world.
Bite-sized, mind-altering distractions that feed a society of emotion junkies.
I see one coming into frame on my iPad, cringe… and read it anyway to get an adorability high.
Then I create some of my own to send out into the world along with cute photos of my cat doing yoga.
These sayings and quotes feel like a teeny hug. A 2-second cheerleader telling me to keep going.
Because running a business is tough. Building a team is hard work.
Some days I wake up excited and ready to take another step in my business.
Some days I wake up feeling like I am as crazy as people think and should go get a job working for someone else.
Every dang day, it’s a battle.
- Battle to focus on the priority tasks and still have the creative energy to develop meaningful content.
- Battle to run lean but look put together.
- Battle to be a relationship builder and be authentic but needing to make sales.
Business isn’t easy. And being the big boss isn’t easy.
At one of the Dallas Startup Week 2015 sessions, a speaker said startups are like marriages. Some days you are in love, and other days you don’t even like your spouse. You have to keep going. Decide to work on the marriage even on the days (or months) you fall out of love.
That’s the same advice my dad gives me about finding a husband. Some days you are in love, and other days you don’t like them. So you have to choose to fall back in love with your spouse. Every. darn. day.
You have to choose to fall back in love with your business.
You are in charge, so you have to keep yourself moving forward. And you have to keep your team members motivated.
That is not easy to do. Now for the good news.
You can make informed decisions on how to motivate your team members. You don’t have to guess.
You gathered information – data – to determine salaries. To decide on which office space to choose. To choose which coffeemaker to put in the breakroom.
You gathered information on when is the best time to post to Instagram. Twitter. Facebook.
So many charts. Spreadsheets. Graphs. When you freak out about next month’s payroll. You consult the data. You don’t have to guess.
But what do you do when you see a team member veering away from the goal?
How do you get them focused and engaged in the work again?
Chances are you spend more time communicating with your team members than you do with any other group of humans. (Unless you spend more than 40 hours a week with friends and family outside of work.)
And the smaller the team, the closer the quarters, the more collaboration required.
Just like in a marriage, you can deal with Chris’s use of “irregardless” pretty easily for the first 30 days. But 90 days in, you grit your teeth and ponder if a dictionary would be an appropriate birthday present. (It’s probably not.)
Employees are one of your most valuable resources for your business. You invest in them. Take a chance on them.
What would it feel like if you had a cheatsheet on how to motivate Bob when he puts his foot down about the move to Agile development?
What if you could get sales guru Melissa to submit her paperwork to accounting on time?
What if you didn’t have to tell Susan and Olaf to stop giving each other the silent treatment and get to work – again?
People are complex and messy, but they can help you build your dream. You can meet your goals together.
If you don’t have any employee tension and the team is in the zone, please do a happy dance. You have a rare, wonderful situation. Cherish it.
If you are struggling with personality conflicts, loss of focus, missed deadlines, you don’t have to just figure this out by yourself.
You use data to support your business and help you meet goals, right? So do that for your employees!
You need to stay invested in the relationships. Talk to them. Ask them. Check in with them.
Have them give you a cheat sheet for how to keep them moving in the right direction and how to help the entire team happy and productive.
You can create a process from scratch to get that in place, but you don’t have to.
That’s what I do! That’s just the kind of thing that gets me excited about the day ahead. (Don’t judge me.)
I can get started today while you get back to that budget spreadsheet, sales meeting prep, or application for Shark Tank.
You don’t have to wing it to build a powerful team that kicks the competition out of the water.
Reach out today and let’s get this party started.
While you’re at it, post your favorite cat video… or inspirational quote.
Every month, her lovely face beams from the cover of O, The Oprah Magazine.
Her own face. Every. Single. Month.
I’ve judged her for this. (And you have to.)
I don’t NEED to understand her decision. It’s her empire, and she can pose if she wants to.
But I wonder, what is the reason?
I’ve thought about this for at least an hour over the last several years, but today, it happened. I discovered her secret.
It started off as a typical day. I logged into every domain I own to update WordPress plugins… again. I checked my bank account and quickly said a prayer to Jesus.
I plopped my head in my hands when I remembered it’s Thursday, and I didn’t post a blog entry again this week.
It’s not too late, right? I have a handful of partial posts ready to be polished, and Seth Godin says I should just ship it!
So as I worked on a post on emotional energy reserves compared to the phenomena of black holes, I realized I’d have to find a palatable stock photo at this late hour to finish up the post.
It’s just a 940×788 photo to use as a featured image. No big deal.
I’ll check my stealth list of good stock photo sites.
Wait, people have found these sites. NO. These were a secret!
I wanted to use that shot of the hipster girl in jeans sitting casually on a stool with a backdrop of distressed wood flooring!
Why is this happening to me?! The masses have discovered Unsplash and Death to the Stock Photo!
Fine. Go ahead and market your great picture sharing services! I can cope with this betrayal.
Maybe I should ask a friend to shoot a roll of pictures of ME around town, and then I can use those photos without cost or attribution! Ha! How about that?! That will solve this angst!
And then it hit me.
Oprah has been here too. She is like me.
She has experienced that late-night need for an image that illustrates how to take a leap and love where you land. An image conveying the need to trust your gut because you know what’s best.
The need for an image for her magazine cover. Every. single. month.
She’s felt that disappointment when you realize your choices again fall to the hairy, male hand pointing at a bunch of floating puzzle pieces… or the mountain climber atop a stone peak with this hands in the air. (And all for the bargain price of $30 dollars.)
Judgments about those beautiful O magazine covers dissipated as understanding spread within me.
Oprah knows this pain. She too has suffered from what I callstockphotophobia.
Oprah has viewed 467 pictures of “happy + strong + women” with bloodshot eyes in the eternal search for original, aesthetically-pleasing stock photography.
She has found the perfect Unsplash shot that captures the joy of cleaning one’s soul and one’s closet. And then had her dreams crushed when that hand-picked image pops up on Facebook beside an article on how to organize your closet like Kylie Jenner.
She foresaw the months spanning in front of her of cover after cover in need of artwork and empowered herself to produce original cover images exactly how she wants them to appear for her magazine.
One-of-a-kind covers featuring her lovely face.
And now, she won’t have to stumble upon her cover image being used to illustrate how to choose your NCAA March Madness picks using this season’s Pantone colors.
Oprah, I get it now. You took control of your brand.
And I salute you.
This was my first post to Medium, so it exists over there as well. Check it out!
If you don’t want to know if your favorite jeans give you pancake-butt, don’t ask.
I give straightforward advice. Tactful if possible, but honest.
When I spend energy to give constructive feedback, I hope you choose to act upon my advice. I strive to bring you incredible value and insight. I worked hard — and failed hard — to gain my knowledge.
But feedback is not an automatic directive.
Feedback is powerful. Feedback from friends. Family. Peers. Co-workers. Even strangers.
You act upon feedback to help your business.
Or you can choose not to act. That is an act itself.
The world worships action. Just do it. Act now. Challenge accepted. Let’s do this.
Those are powerful reminders that to act upon a goal is to put fear aside and propel yourself into bravery. And that is good.
But when you hire a coach – business, life, marketing, social media, whatever – you keep veto power for your business.
You own this business. You own your career.
I have felt the sting of having a professional demand I follow their advice. Someone who bristles at my hesitation or my need to weigh the cost. Who uses shame to try to win my action.
Listen to advice from your trusted advisers. Surround yourself with smart, supportive people who give honest feedback. Learn from the mistakes of others.
But remember… Persuasion seeks increased understanding. Manipulation does not.
When a coach or adviser you hired demands you follow their advice or shames you to conform, remember that you have veto power.
Four hours into the drive home from July 4th in Fredericksburg, we sit idling in a herd of Dodge Ram pickups and GMC Behemoths. Waze saved us from two I-35 traffic jams, but no escape this time.
Naturally, I break the tension by changing the voice of Waze to Arnold Schwarzenegger, courtesy of Terminator Genisys. (Yes, I am a nerd. No, this is not an ad.)
I can’t part the sea of red F-150’s ahead, but I can help the girls giggle through the monotony of a crowded highway.
“Hazard reported ahead. Get down!”
Some things are not fun. Life can be rough.
Traffic. Red brake lights as far as you can see and less than a quarter tank of gas. Knowing you have hours to go before home. Not fun.
“In one mile, exit right. I insist!”
But you can find moments of giggles. You can embrace silliness.
Look for small ways to lighten the load of your team.
A little laughter gets me through the stuff of life. Look for it, and you can find it too.
“I need your coat, your boots and your motorcycle. Just kidding! Let’s hit the road.”
Let Ahhnold guide the Waze home.
Do you want Ahhnold to tell you where to go? Open the Waze app [iTunes, Google Play]. Click on the Navigate button in the lower left, then My Waze -> Settings -> Sound -> Click on your current choice for Voice Language and choose English (US) – Arnold Terminator Genisys.
When I was 16, I imagined turning 30 in a glamorous corner office in downtown Dallas as the CEO of my own company.
I would hop on a Concorde bound for Paris at a moment’s notice with Jake Ryan by my side.
Oh, the freedom I would have. Someday.
In the meantime, I did what any teenage girl would do. I joined the French club, became Flag Corps captain, and played a twin courtesan wearing silver spandex in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
I had my first love and first loss at the hands of a handsome boy who told me he didn’t love me anymore in a dingy school hallway.
I traveled to Paris on a school trip. It was my first trip to Europe and first glass of wine.
Those weren’t the only life-defining moments from the trip. The group left me behind at Montmartre and a stranger stalked me on the Metro. (That’s a doozy of a story, and Mom didn’t know about it until recently. Hear about it on the first episode of my podcast.)
Growing up is hard, but adulthood will be a breeze, right?
Attending The University of Texas at Austin was an amazing but an emotional trial by fire. I lived away from home for the first time. Joined a business fraternity. Met new friends and a handsome boyfriend from Germany named Olaf (no, not the snowman).
I tried not to look at the circle of naked students dancing by The Union. Relished exquisite meals of Ramen and Taco Bell burritos.
And nothing says “I’m just a cog in a wheel” like a professor asking for my grandfather’s death certificate to miss class for a funeral.
Adulthood is not the sweet, lighthearted comedy promised on A Full House.
College morphed into internships and 90+ hour weeks. Into marketing and event planning. Then training to become a programmer. Over a decade of using tech and marketing skills to design web-based tools and manage tech projects.
Marriage and a painful divorce sent me into a shame spiral, and “Workaholic” became my title.
I excelled at work. Everything became second to my job. The doctor warned that the stress on my body had taken a toll.
The stress almost killed me. Not a hyperbole.
When I turned 40, I knew I had to exit my self-imposed exile in the wilderness and follow the dream of that sixteen-year-old girl. Stop being a wantrepreneur.
In 2013, I left corporate America. I moved out of my penthouse apartment in downtown Dallas into a friend’s extra bedroom. Most of what I own packed into a storage unit.
Back to Taco Bell burritos and Torchy’s tacos. Can’t bring myself to eat Ramen again.
Then training, conferences, more training, and certifications to arrive here. Poised to help you in your journey.
You don’t have to live with drama in the workplace. You started this business to get your freedom back. Don’t be a slave to employee drama.
You don’t have to stare at that blank white Word doc that needs to magically turn itself into your bio or About page. Or stare in agony at that resume that drones on and on and goes into the email blackhole. Or worse, sits at the bottom of someone’s trashcan. Find and articulate your superpowers.
You have an ally.
You have a cheerleader.
You belong here.
I’m here to help you:
- Use the study of human behaviors, driving forces, soft skills and emotional intelligence to build a happy, productive team.
- Build a strong corporate culture that attracts more great people and keeps those people you have already poured so much into.
- Brand yourself. Articulate your strengths. Address areas for improvement. Stand out from the crowd.
So you meet your goals. You make more money. You help more people.
We can’t keep hiring ourselves for every job. We have to support each other in this crazy, exhilarating, tumultuous world of self-employment.
Let’s get real, let’s get to work and let’s take over the world.