I am lucky enough to be learning a new skill, making stained glass, as part of this amazing group. It has become so much more for me than a class, it’s a place where I’ve found myself again.
It is, it really is! It’s all about YOU. Isn’t that wonderful news? Or is it rather scary? We’ve grown up being told it’s not all about us, that we should focus more on those around us, make our mission in life to put others first. And these are wise words. Indeed, I am a great believer that focussing on others builds us as people and gives us huge joy. So when did the rules change?
They changed the moment you decided to follow that dream – you remember, that crazy moment when you put on that new hat and said “I’m going into business on my own!” The minute you decided to blaze your trail and join the ranks of the Entrepreneur, you changed the rules.
And if you didn’t you missed something HUGE!
Here are a few reasons why it’s all about YOU:
– YOU are the real USP (unique Selling Point) in your business. People do buy from people. When there is a choice about where we spend our money (especially when money is tight) we’d rather spend it with someone we know and trust; someone we’ve connected with or heard great things about. YOU.
– YOU are the values in your business, the ethics and code of conduct. YOU are the Customer Service Policy, the Complaints Procedure and the Guarantee. YOU set the standards that create your credibility. YOU.
– YOU are the face and the voice of your business, the person who engages on social media, who writes the blogs, who shares the pictures of your family and your first time on a stage or meeting new people. YOU.
– YOU are the driving force, the energy that kick-starts the action every Monday morning, the determination to keep going when it feels like it’s hard out there, the reason to get up and do it all again tomorrow. YOU.
Most of all, YOU are the one that will realise that, above all else, when you embrace that it’s all about your contacts, your clients, your friends and your collaborators, when you value them above everything else in your business, YOU will be a success.
It really is all about YOU.
Have a great day
in June last year, I added a significant streak of blue “semi-permenant” hair colour to my blond bob in order to help raise awareness for Harrison’s Fund, fighting to find a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. It seemed like such a good idea at the time; Blue Hair Day – a great way to get people to notice and learn about this terrible disease. What I hadn’t expected was that, almost a year later, I’ve still got remnants of that “semi-permanent” blue. What a nghtmare!
“I take it you won’t be going blue again this year!” My husband, John, commented when I mentioned the new website for Blue Hair Day was up and running. “what a bloody nightmare that’s been!” And that’s when it hit me (okay, it takes time to get things sometimes); my silly bit of blue hair was far from a nightmare. At worst it was a silly frustration that looked a bit like I’d over-done colouring and caused a reaction.
The real nightmare, the one I’d missed was Duchenne itself. The nightamre is what every family living with Duchenne wakes up to every day, only to discover it’s real. My hair was trivial and had, in fact, served its purpose well; by staying put, by being anything but “semi-permanent” I had been given a daily reminder of why I’d gone blue in the first place. I was raising awareness of somethign every child and parent with this awful disease has no choice about; Duchenne isn’t semi-permanent, it’s real, wrecking lives and in urgent need of investment to find a cure and save the lives of every child (almost exclusively boys) fighting every day against this debilitating, terminal condition.
Will I be going blue again this June? Of course I will and this time, I plan to talk to every single person who comments on my hair and tell them “It’s permanent, just like Duchenne.”
Please visit the Facebook page for Blue Hair Day and “like” to follow all the plans and how you can get involved in making a difference. Are you brave enough to go blue?
Do you really know anyone in business who isn’t finding times hard at the moment? Is there any business that has not been touched by rising costs or falling demand – or both. Yet, when we meet fellow business owners and ask how they are doing, we often get the standard reply: “I’m fine”.
I often wonder what that really means. I know what a fine day looks like; I know what a fine wine tastes like , but I have no idea what a fine person looks like, or how they feel. This programmed response, delivered without sense or feeling, has become a badge of honour which threatens the sanity and success of every business owner. One recently asked me during a mentoring call, “If everyone else is fine, is it just me who’s getting it so wrong?”
Working with businesses on their credibility means that I get to explore their real values with them and how they apply these to every aspect of their lives. Not surprisingly, integrity and honesty are key values that many of them claim are key to their success and vital to their business. Honesty must surely include a genuine response to questions about them and their business; yet you can guarantee they are “fine” when asked about themselves and you can bet that their business is “fine” too.
What keeps us back from sharing the true picture? I think there are many reasons for this auto-response, including:
1) Fear of failure – we believe that admitting that all is less than “fine” might make us look like failures. My personal experience of this has been quite the opposite – a business person who is working hard to improve their business during tough times gains respect and support from their peers who will often go out of their way to find them referral opportunities in hard times.
2) We don’t believe people actually want to know – small talk and polite conversation has developed into noise; people ask questions and don’t wait for or listen to the answers. We have become so accustomed to this, that it is almost considered impolite to say anything other than “fine thank you” when asked about our health, our day or our business.
3) We think everyone else is thriving – partly, of course, because nobody is admitting they are not fine. Our own insecurities are easily given a louder voice as we hear others sharing their success stories. The idea of admitting we are actually less than “fine” becomes an impossibility.
These programmed replies might make us feel comfortable in the moment, but in the longer term they could well be costing us business. Why would I go out of my way to help you if you are “fine”. I have so many people in my networks, I want to ensure I am connecting people and helping them grow their businesses all the time. I focus my attention where it is needed the most so that I can be effective. The people who are “fine” are not on my radar.
Taking the first step to admit all is not as good as it could be feels a bit like getting naked at a networking event; and like this feeling, it is not a good idea to do it in public! Take small steps, with the people you trust first. When we confide in the people we value and trust, we pay them an enormous compliment; remember that when you open up and ask for their advice and opinions. We often hear the expression “a problem shared is a problem halved” and often as we hear ourselves talking through a situation, we start to see the solutions for ourselves.
The relationships that develop through this honesty will become the strongest in your network and real referral partnerships are built on trust and mutual respect – credibility. The first time I asked someone I valued for help, admitted all was less then “fine” they smiled from ear to ear and said “me too. We’re having a really tough year”. We now refer business to each other on a regular basis and work on marketing and media opportunities for each other.
And who ever wanted to be “fine” anyway? Wouldn’t you rather be fabulous, or wonderful? Flying or soaring? “Fine” and “OK” are two places I don’t want to be again and with the help of my networks, I am never going back.
I originally wrote this blog for Virgin.com during my time as on of their regular contributors (VIB)
Running your own business can be all absorbing, exciting, challenging and – lonely. It can feel like nobody knows what’s happening in your world; how important it is that the next stage of your website is ready or that your followers went up by 30 this week. Sometimes, when you are running your own business, it feels like you’re totally alone. The good news is, there are lots of business owners in the same position, feeling isolated and frustrated, questioning their commitment and ability to succeed on their own, every day.
Getting strong foundations in place to support you, at every stage of your business, is a great way to ensure you can build and stand strong in difficult times – like now. It is never too late to start; we can put foundations in place at every stage of our business, for the next stage.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Be honest about where you are, right now. Are you isolated because you choose to be or because of genuine restrictions? Are you creating opportunities to meet new people, people who are also building a business.
- Be clear about who you are looking for. This is not about hunting for clients. This is about building a “tribe” around you, a group of people you can depend on. Like-minded people who are there to support and encourage each other.
- Don’t worry – it doesn’t have to get “touchy-feely” this is about letting people know when you need support. Sharing those challenges and being prepared to say “I’m not fine right now.”
- Ask for help. Sounds simple – so why don’t we do it? Usually because we believe we should know something already, that we should have the answers or be able to find them ourselves. We are concerned that our credibility will be damaged; in truth, credibility is often built when we have the courage to ask for help and to take the action required to resolve an issue or learn something new.
When we feel isolated it is easy to forget that we can start a conversation too. Taking the initiative can be a step into the dark but it’s worth taking. I was asked by a client this week whether to stop tweeting as he had not been getting much response. I suggested that he stop tweeting statements and start asking questions; he had his first reply within four minutes. He started a conversation. You don’t need to wait for someone else to break the silence, you can take the first step – and don’t be put off it takes a while to get a response, people have to get to know you.
I often joke that my commute is around 30 seconds – from my home office to my sitting room. I enjoy a little gloat when my ex-colleagues talk about their 90 minute daily journey, squashed on the tube, getting up-close and personal with a stranger’s armpit. And then I remember how many people I would smile at on my journey home, how many people I said “Good evening” to, how a small group of us used to meet and share our day on the journey home. Even that brief interaction was an important part of my day.
Without a commute, it is important to create time with others. If leaving your office is not an option, there are a plethora of tools available to allow you to hold on-line meetings with cameras allowing participants to feel more connected. If you are able to leave the office – then do it. Take a look at what is on locally that is of interest and go. It may not be a business related event and that’s great; business people have lives and interests too! Schedule an appointment ever y week; an appointment called “Time with others” or “Finding out who else is out there” whatever works for you and stick to it.
There are plenty of people out there, all it takes is “Hello” to start the conversation.
I originally wrote this for Virgin.com when I was a VIB (Very Important Blogger). Since then. we have moved to a tiny village in Wales, where our closest friends are a number of miles away. It would be even easier now to become isolated. I’m finding new and fun ways to get out into the community as I can and loving the connections it is creating for me.
when John’s mum came to live with us last year, she was an elderly lady who was becoming frail, forgetful and lonely. She most of her day watching television alone or meeting the occasional neighbour for an organ recital (it’s what we call it when people get together and moan bout their organs and ill health) and had no sense of purpose. She felt like she’d lived the most important part of her life and was now getting ready to die.
We’ve been in Wales with her since December 2014 and from the first month here, I started to suggest ways she could get out a bit, including doing some volunteering at the local Red Cross shop in Llandovery. After a little gentle persuasion, she went to explore it in February. And we haven’t looked back.
she’s a new person. She’s gone from someone who saw the negative in everything, someone who always moaned about her day, to a woman with a smile constantly on her face and a positive story to share about the day she’s had. She works there every day except Sunday and even went to work on the last bank holiday. And every day she comes home with a sense of achievement and purpose. People are popping in to the shop just to see her and have a chat, she’s part of a team and a community.
I’d love politicians to see the kind of impact this can have in a very short time for elderly people. Elma had worked all her life, often in multiple jobs at a time to keep their head above water and then, aged 65, she stopped; not gradually, just stopped over night. The job title that had defined her for so much of her adult life had gone. Who was she meant to be now? When she lost her husband, John’s dad Alf, this sense of total lack of importance became overwhelming.
yet now, she is making a contribution to a charity and the people of a community, she’s watching less television (positive mentally and economically as it means heating and electricity are turned off all day) And it’s costing the Government nothing, indeed I’d suggest it’s saving them money as she’s healthier and happier and thus less likely to need assistance.
It wasn’t an easy decision to live with mum-in-law, but I’m proud of us for taking the choice and making such a difference to Elma. She’s 78 years young this month and looking younger every day!
People tell me I am a great connector of people; a reputation I am proud to have. I choose to connect great people whenever possible and it gives me a huge buzz when I hear about the results they create together. For the next few Saturdays I am going to choose someone amazing I know and recommend that you find out more about them and then make a choice to connect with them on Twitter. It’s a choice you will be glad you made!
This Saturday, I wanted to tell you about Matt Hodkinson. I first met Matt at a networking meeting and he made an impression straight away; he works in Social Media and yet I found I understood what he was talking about! He didn’t blind me with technical jargon and even more impressive – he backed up what he said with real examples and results.
I quickly discovered that Matt is different in his approach; he is a listener not a broadcaster and he applies this to his social media world. He is a joy to work with and I have learned so much from him. He makes me feel confident on-line and it is thanks to him this blog was started.
Matt, you are my Saturday Choice – thank you for bringing clarity and calm to the noisy world of social media for me.
Have a stunning Saturday
You can find out more about Matt’s brilliant approach to social media here
Today, choose to recommend someone that matters to you. Give some time in your day to talking about them and what makes them outstanding at what they do. It is easy, when times are hard, to focus on our own needs and wants; by choosing to focus on someone else and taking the time to recommend them, we can have a positive focus to our day.
I choose not to carry business cards; I am easy to find on-line and would rather take someone else’s card and follow up with my details. Instead, I carry a card file with the cards of the people I value. The people I choose to recommend. Nothing gives me more of a buzz than the opportunity to talk about them and create opportunities for them.
Yesterday, I added a new card to my file – the card of a man who is passionate about our environment and makes stunning eco furniture. His name is Tristan Titeux and he is changing the world’s attitude to recycling, one table at a time! Today, I choose to recommend him – and I recommend you connect with him on Twitter.
Who will you choose to recommend today?
Have a great one,
My blog today is inspired by my husband, John. It is our 24th Wedding Anniversary today. John is my Hero. As we celebrate 24 years of marriage today, I am in awe of the choices we have taken – together; the challenges we have risen to and the support we have been to each other. His choices, to stand by me through some truly testing times make him my Hero of Choice.
John knew when we met (I was 16 he was 17) that I had physical challenges that could become a larger part of our lives. He knew there would be difficult times – and choices – ahead. He chose to make a commitment to me and to bring his positive, practical “there is always a way” attitude with him. Thank goodness! During the years together we have faced many tough choices – from whether to attempt to have children to whether to believe I would not walk again. Choices that were often painful – emotionally and physically. Choices that impacted so many aspects of our lives and the lives of those we loved. Without John there to support and re-enforce the choices we made together – well, that is something I choose not to imagine!
I am so blessed that the choices John has made in his life include me; thank you John – you are my Hero of Choice.
Have a wonderful Monday