Monday, June 29, 2009

A Modern Children's Classic Movie Provides Insights Into Life

"When you need me, but do not want me, then I must stay.
When you want me, but no longer need me, then I have to go."
Nanny McPhee

Who would have thought that I would be quoting Emma Thompson's lead character from the 2005 movie, Nanny McPhee - where a ghastly Nanny turns a wild group of motherless children into a respectful, loving family.

Wonders never cease. And inspiration comes from the most unlikely sources.

But the truth be known, this is the essence of coaching, a mentoring, teaching and even parenting. You see, in my opinion, these professionals (including parents) should only be there for you, when you need them but maybe not really want them. And in essence should move on (or make you move on), when you want them, but no longer need them.

People often ask me the difference between a coach and a consultant. And aforementioned quote sums it up as good as any definition I've ever heard. But, let me expand just a bit.

The difference is that the coach provides you tools, teaches you skills and empowers you to move forward with your business and your life . . . eventually without them. Whereas the consultant only provides answers to your current problems - building a long-term dependency relationship to provide answers each and every time you have a problem (often even creating problems intentionally).

The consultant is about answers to short term problems. Not always the right answers . . . but answers nonetheless.

The coach is about questions. Questions that make you think not only about the short term problems but also your long term desires. Questions that help YOU find the right answers for your problems - not a standardized answer to other people's problems.

So rather than looking at your wants . . . because I can honestly tell you that very few people "want" a coach. The question should be,

Can I do this on my own?

Can I overcome the hurdles that I have put before myself without outside help?

What makes me think that I will be able to succeed in accomplishing what I want on my own, when I havent been able to do so in the past?

Do I need a coach, a mentor, a teacher, or someone to work with me (what ever you want to call it), even though I really don't want one?

These are very difficult questions. They are questions that most people refuse to honestly answer to themselves, mostly because of the fear - fear of what the answers might mean.

Stop spending all of your time figuring out what you WANT to do each and every day for your business or for your happiness - most businesses fail because their owners did what they WANTED to do. Instead, find out what you NEED to do to make your business a success . . . and find a way to do it, even though you may not want to.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

To Change Your Business Simply Change The Way You Pay Yourself

One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is they think that since now they have their own business, all they have to do is "the work that they love". And because they are usually very good it (not by their own admission, but by all of the people that know of their work), they think their business will grow and thrive like no other.

Oooh, I'm sorry to say, NOTHING could be further from the truth. Running a business is much more than that.

And there are two types of business owners . . .

Those that know this to be true.

And those that will soon find out.

You see, when you own a business, you no longer get paid to do what you love to do . . . Instead you actually get paid for selling your business and your products to your potential customers.

As an Entrepreneur, getting to do the work you love to do
is actually the reward for generating sales.

Not the other way around!

Sounds crazy, I know. But understanding this point could be the difference between success and failure of your business.

You see, we're all human and we will naturally do more of what we get rewarded for (or what we think we are getting rewarded for). So if you think you are being rewarded for delivering your product and not for the sale, then you will always want to do more of the fun work (what you love to do) and less of the difficult labor of sales and marketing (what you dislike the most and usually know the least about as a small business owner).

As an Entrepreneur, your NUMBER ONE job just is actually getting customers to choose you . . . not producing the product. You can only if and only if new customers choose you. And the problem is thinking about your business any other way is actually detrimental to the long term success of your business.

How do you change this mindset?

Believe it or not . . . it's simple. Start paying yourself to produce customers instead of producing product. Don't compensate based on production, compensate based on marketing and sales.

Build systems and a culture into your business that is based upon this model - it will carry over to your employees and serve you well for years to come - as you grow your business bigger and bigger.

Does it change what you get paid? Probably not. But making small changes in attitude and language can make all the difference - knowing (in your heart) that you earned the money from the sale, will drive you to make more sales. And hence grow your business.

Bottom line is that if you want to grow your business, you have to stop thinking like an employees and start thinking like an Entrepreneur. And Entrepreneurs making money selling, not producing. So rather than paying yourself to produce the product you have always produced, start paying yourself for generating new business.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Leveraging The Talents of Moms (Part IV)

The past three days, I have walked you though different elements including: How Moms are An Untapped Marketing Resource, How the relationship can be a Win / Win for All Concerned, and how it is important to understand the uniqueness of being a Mom and that it's important to help them with A Balancing Act / Releasing the Guilt.

The final blog of this four part series, Leveraging The Talents of Moms, is about Flexibility and Support - what can be done to help Moms get themselves out into the workplace and what employers can do to help them become the best employees they can be.

So, to wrap up this series and blend all the ideas together, it is important to understand and apply the most important concept of all - Moms need flexibility and support.

For Business Owners:

As I have spoken about in the past couple days, life as a Mom is complicated - more so than the average "non-Mom". Rather than just caring for themselves, Moms are always caring and nurturing others - at a minimum, they are caring for their child(ren) and often their husband.

They give and give, and quite often get little in return.

Let's face it, as I spoke about in part three, you, as a business owner / employer play second fiddle to Mom's first priority - her kids. But that doesn't mean that she can't give you as much if not more than anyone else. In fact, I have found it is exactly her commitment to her children that makes her such a wonderful asset to any business.

However, there is a cost. That cost is that you should build into your business model flexibility and support for the Moms on your staff - and the returns you gather from it will be amazing.

What does this mean:

- Plan ahead - This applies with just about any employee, but more so with Moms. Their life is very hectic and time is limited. In fact, I haven't met a Mom yet that wouldn't love to slow down the earth's rotation enough to get them 2 more hours every day. This means that the more time you can give them when there are changes to their schedule or you need more time from them, the better. It's not to say they can't or won't support you, its just that while you and I might be able to stay late to finish a very important project, Moms have someone that needs to be picked up or attended to. It's just not that easy to flex.

- Give them the ability to work from home - If you can manage it, giving a Mom time to work from home, can be the greatest gift you can give them. Even, if they might still need to get a babysitter, just knowing they are close to their children, gives them a strong feeling of strength and power. And that gives them focus to perform at a whole other level for you.

- Be understanding when they can't get in - Let's face it, kids get sick far more often than adults - and 99% of the time, the person who is going to stay home with their kids is Dr. Mom. This goes back to the statement above - give them the ability to work from home, empower them and they will surprise you with their commitment. It's not every employer that is so understanding of their situation - they will do everything they can to make it work and not blow your trust.

- Sit down with them at least bi-weekly to discuss how things are working - This isn't just something you should do with your Moms on staff - but with all your employees. It's just good management. Get to know the situation and work together to solve issues that are preventing them. A lesson I learned a long time ago, as a Ensign in the Navy, is that a manager's job is to remove the barriers preventing their employees from being able to do their best work. No where does this hold true more so than with Moms in the workplace. But as I've said before, the pay off is amazing.

For Moms:

Having tools or systems that help you balance your life is key. In fact, it's key to anything in life - finding ways to remain able to consistently deliver, even in the face of adversity and / or "unexpected" situations - which is daily in the life of all the Moms I know.

Sure, when the kids wake up on time, get dressed, eat and make the bus on time, everything is grand. But how often do things go "as planned" with kids involved. Someone always has a belly ache, has peanut butter in their hair, needs their diaper changed, or is just crying, just when you are on your last nerve. It's Murphy's Law. And you KNOW you can count on it.

So, what can you do? How do you live your life spontaneously (as so many of us love to do), but still make sure that you are able to deliver on promises - the essence of both being a Mom, a Wife, an Employee, a Business Owner, and a Woman?

You stop trying to live your life trying to manage the time in your days. Instead you need to start managing your life around your priorities, day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month, etc. And that starts with first understanding and writing down the priorities in your life - what matters to you today and where you want to be 1 yr, 5 yrs, 10 yrs and for the rest of your life.

Call it a Personal Vision, a Vision Board, a Mission Statement, I don't care. In truth it doesn't matter what you call it - so long as you have one.

Once you have a Vision to guide you, it's time to figure out goals to support that vision. Goals that will drive your actions each and every day, instead of just running from crisis to crisis.

Your goals need to be built with the realization that it isn't HUGE short term goals that make a difference in your life - as much as we want it to be. But instead, it's long term, lifestyle goals that enable and encourage you to take small steps, every day to create lasting change in your life.

Too often, Moms (as well as everyone else out there) take on way TOO much when they try to change their lives - or get back the ones they use to have. Summer is coming up, and they want to get back into a bikini to sit by the pool. Their two year is learning to potty train - and they see a great window of opportunity. And they decide to take on a part time job in the afternoon for a friend to help their store.

So they change their diet, begin the arduous process of potty training a toddler and go back to work all at the same time - all while still being a stay-at-home Mom, managing the household and trying to be a good wife.

Something has got to give, and if you don't think about it ahead of time, it won't be want you want it to be. It will most likely be everything at once.


It's not that you can't do all these things, its just that you can't do them all EVERY DAY. You have to plan out change if you really want it to hold. And if you really want the change to be permanent, the key isn't doing it all at once, but instead working into one step at a time - making sure that each step you take is one step forward, and not two steps back.

This isn't easy - because if you don't stay grounded, you WILL try to run forward as fast as you can at some point - putting short term wants ahead of long term goals. It takes patience and consistency. It takes daily commitment to the long term and integrity. But, in my opinion what it takes more than anything is someone, an outside objective observer, who is committed to your goals and your system, even when you feel like giving up. It takes an accountability partner who will how you to your word and keep you moving forward, even when you don't feel like you can anymore.

It doesn't matter who you find, but find someone that you can talk to every day . . . that won't judge you. Won't get emotional about your situation. Won't let you make excuses. But . . . will stand beside you and help you, when you need it most and do so because he / she is committed to you and your goals as much if not more than you are.

Find yourself a coach / mentor / guide that no matter what . . . will be there every day, keeping you on track and moving forward.

Bottom line, for both employers and Moms, there is a symbiotic relationship that can exist here - one that will benefit EVERYONE. It can be a relationship that can and will make a difference in both of your lives as well as the business. But it takes flexibility and support - and real commitment. And you either need to find a way to support each other, working dynamically to work towards and achieve both of your goals, or find someone who can help you both do just that.


If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at

Friday, June 26, 2009

Leveraging The Talents Of Moms (Part III)

The last two days, on this site, I've introduced you to Leveraging the Talents of Moms with parts I and II, An Untapped Marketing Resource and Win-Win for All Concerned, respectively.

Today, it's time to talk about A Balancing Act / Releasing the Guilt - Managing home responsibilities with commitments to business.

Understanding how to leverage the talents of Moms requires a keen understanding of Moms - (ladies feel free to chime in on this one - remember, I am a guy, so I don't want to go too far here with out your approval - or you correcting me).

*** Note: I say understanding of Moms, not women. There is a difference - there is a change that takes place - whether it is physiological, psychological or both doesn't matter - it's important that neither men or (non-Mom) women really understand.

Truth is, up until the day women become pregnant, they are much more like men - but when that day arrives, when the "rabbit dies" (as the saying goes), everything in their life changes. And those changes aren't for nine months, ten years, or even eighteen years - becoming a Mom is a permanent life changing experience. Sure, we Dads are changed as well, when we have a kid - but don't kid yourself Men, we can't hold a candle to the ladies on this one.

Before pregnancy, we are all "mostly" self-centered. Sure, we might love others, and give a lot of ourselves to our spouses and other relatives - but on the whole, that "giving" is nothing like becoming a Mom.

Why this is important to understand is that Mom's have a tough struggle - trying to figure out how to give all they want to give to their children (and their spouses), while still having an identity and even a professional life. It's a balancing act, trying to find an equilibrium between their own needs and the needs of the family they love so dearly.

For Business Owners:

So if you, as a business owner, want to leverage the talents of Moms, you need to understand this balancing act - understand that there is still amazing talent that is within the heart and soul of Moms, its just that their NUMBER ONE COMMITMENT will always be to their children - its instinctual. It is going to happen. You are going to come up number two (at best) in their mind - overall.

The reason I bring up this "balancing act" and commitment to children, is because you can't win this battle - you can not change the way a Mom thinks. When the kids get the sniffles, she is going to stay home. When snow falls and the kids stay home from school, most of the time, its Mom that is going to stay home - not Dad. Get over it and stop resisting it.

So when the Eight Week point comes after the baby is born, and maternity leave is over, understand that the employee you are getting back in not the same one that left. If you didn't see the change before she left, you are definitely see one now. The key is learning what to do and how to work with it, instead of against it. Because believe it or not, even though you have dropped a peg or two in the priority level in her mind, as long as you respect and understand her new "situation", her dedication to you overall has most likely gone up immensely.

The root key to it all is helping them satisfy their number one commitment as easily and smoothly as possible, so that they have more time and energy for you when they are working for you.

If you want to understand how best to not just make the best of this situation, but actually turn it into a windfall for you, check out tomorrow's Blog, Flexibility and Support - The key to working with Moms is understanding their situation and working with them / not against them - No short-term Deadlines.

For Moms:

Ladies, this balancing act is real - or should I call it a juggling act. You have gone from trying to juggling three (plus) balls - your personal needs, your professional needs, and the needs of your spouse - to juggling six or more (yeah, I think caring for a child is a three ball juggling act all by itself). Throw in a second baby, and YEOW, we're talking ready for Ringling Brothers.

So what are you to do? How do you juggle six balls (or more) with only two hands.

Well to be honest, you don't. Sounds crazy . . . I know. But the answer is that simple.

You see, most Moms try to juggle six or more balls at once and usually end up dropping at least one or two every cycle. Who suffers, usually YOU first, hubby second, and then work third.

So rather than juggling six at once, put two on the floor gently or hand them to someone else for a short period and then juggle four.

How do you do this, without pissing off the two balls laying on the floor? Well, you rotate the two balls on the floor. Yep. You commit yourself to juggling what you can, right now, successfully, and let the other two just stand-by, until you are ready for them. Until you can successfully put one or two of the others balls down and pick them up.

Ok, now that I have completely confused you, let me drop the juggling idea and jump right into reality.

You are NOT going to have time to give to yourself, your husband, your job and your child(ren) everyday. Something has to give. Or you will burn yourself out and lose one or all of them along the way. So rather than trying to being everything to everyone EVERY DAY, plan time to be everything to each one, at specific times during the week.

If you are a stay-at-home Mom, that might mean that work only gets your attention 2-3 days a week (when you can give it your full attention), but on those days your Husband doesn't get much more than a hug and kiss in the morning and evening. Then maybe your own growth gets one day's worth of full attention. And you set up special time for your husband on the other days - when you can be with him completely.

The key here is to stop trying to give a little bit all the time to everyone, and start giving your best to each of them periodically, based on priority in your life.

The reason this idea works, is that it helps you release the guilt of not giving completely to things that matter. Each moment you spend with someone or doing something important, you give yourself to them / it completely - whether its your job, your husband, your kids, or even YOU.

You can give yourself without guilt of who is getting left out, because you know you have given to them completely - and you will again. One of my clients recently shared with me how this idea works for her:

The reason I love this process so much is because it helps you to BALANCE your life so that you are doing what matters to you in your family life and other relationships as well as accomplishing your business goals at the same time. On those days where I am doing more in one area, I know that I can balance it out the next day and not feel guilty.

Bottom line is you have to find balance - stop trying to be everything to everyone, every day. Give yourself completely and "guiltlessly" one at a time to the things that matter most to you and you will find yourself happier and 10x more productive than you ever thought possible.


If you are a small business owner and / or a Mom that wants to understand how best to maintain Balance and release the guilt that so often stifles growth, please feel free to contact me, at

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Leveraging The Talents Of Moms (Part II)

Yesterday, in Part I of this 4 Part Blog about Leveraging the Power of Moms, I spoke about the untapped "network" marketing resource that Moms are - especially for small businesses. I went into the basics of how Moms can be incredible Networking sources for businesses they patronize (as a small business owner) and how Moms can leverage what they already do . . . every day . . . to generate income and help their friends and family.

Sounds like a win-win for all concerned, which is the great transition to today's topic.

Win-Win For All Concerned - the talent pool is very deep and there is a desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

How many stay-at-home Moms do you know?

How many Moms do you know want to stay-at-home, but don't know how to do it financially?

How many of those Moms have more talent and capacity to help others (whether it be businesses, friends or families) than they are currently able to realize - let alone be compensated for?

In case you are wondering, as of 2007, there were an estimated 5.6 Million Stay-At-Home Moms in the US and over 11.4 Million Single Moms who almost always are looking for ways to be better Moms while supporting their children.

So how can this work out for both Moms and the business community? How can this be a Win-Win for businesses and Moms where everyone is getting what they need?

Well to be honest, it starts with understanding each others needs and desires and being creative in trying to make those .

What Do Today's Businesses Need?

More than anything, today's businesses need employees that are committed to their vision - willing to give of themselves to the business as the owner does.

But they need more as well. They need expertise in areas outside of their own - outside the technical aspects of their business.

They need organizational help - putting everything in its place and making sure there is a place for everything in the business.

They need administrative help - handling paper work, taking care of administrative tasks that they just aren't good at.

They need help with dealing with customers - trusting people who understand their customers and will treat them the way the owner wants them to be treated.

They need marketing / network help - finding new customers and getting them to walk through the doors or call on phone (which was the topic in Part I).

And in most cases, small business owners can not afford to hire someone full time to do any of this work - so the work doesn't get done . . . and they stagnate in the ability to grow their business.

What do Mom's Need?

More than anything, most Mom's need to find a way to continue to grow and contribute outside of their children - contribute to their family financially, the community, to something bigger than themselves, and to have a feeling of independence (even within the context of a very loving relationship).

It's not a matter of not wanting to be there for their kids (that's why they choose the life they choose) - it's a matter of maintaining a connection with the outside in such a way as to both keep their finger on the pulse of adult life and nurture other elements of their needs - that our culture has nurtured in their psyche.

Some Of Strongest Long Term Bonds Between Boss And Employee Start This Way

It's amazing when I look back at my life and the relationships that I have seen grow between Moms who started part-time with an employer to help out and where they have gone.

A Stay-At-Home Mom, friend of the family, with gifted administrative skills who came in 3 days a week for a couple hours a day to help my Dad in the Mortgage Business he was running - that was 25 years ago. My Father has retired, but she is the right hand of my brother who stepped in to his shoes.

A Stay-At-Home Mom, with natural sales gifts, offers to help a friend sell his product and goes on to become a partner in the business. That business was just a small business when the two teamed up with sales less than $100,000 annually. Now the business is booming with over 50 employees, and sales estimated this year of $15 Million.

A Single Mom, in order to make a little extra money on the weekends starts doing accounting work for her accountant. Takes the money she earned with the part support to put her son through college and pay off her home 10 years early - giving her financial independence and strength to start her own Accounting Business.

All It Takes Is Asking Questions And Listening

Whether you are a small business owner or a Mom, there are no magic tricks here. What it takes is knowing who you are, what you are need and are willing to provide to fulfill those needs, and understanding the needs of those around you.

In each case, the relationships I described above started when two people stopped long enough to become more than just casual friends and listen to each other and understand their needs. Because you will be amazed at how much can be gained by understanding others - and reaching out to serve them as well as allowing them to serve you.

A List Of Web Pages To Check Out

Finally, to close out this part, whether you are a Business Person or a Mom, check out the following web pages to find out how to take advantage of these ideas and create a Win-Win that will change the lives of all involved

Work At Home Moms

Mom's Network

Mom's Club

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Leveraging The Talents Of Moms (Part I)

Nearly 70% of my clients are Moms - and most of those Moms are "Stay-at-home Moms".

The fact of the matter is Moms, specifically Stay-At-Home Moms, are one of the most undervalued, underutilized, untapped resources in our society. They work extremely hard each and every day running their mini-corporations, called families. But as I have found in my practice, they want more - they want to be produce more, interact with others, use their god-given talents and find a way to contribute to the marketplace and their needs at home.

Many of these Moms are HIGHLY motivated. Most have either a formal education or loads of business / life experience. And all of them know how to juggle more balls successfully than most of their counterparts in the marketplace.

The problem is their number one commitment is to their family - to their kids. And quite honestly, most businesses haven't learned how to tap into this resource without creating havoc in their business model. Sadly, I believe, this happens because most businesses (even women owned business) are more worried about filling seats in offices than actually producing quality.

Over the course of the next four days, I will be posting a series of articles on how businesses (small and large) can leverage the capability of Moms and how Moms can enhance their lives with additional income doing what they are already doing each and every day of their lives.

These topics include:

- An Untapped Marketing Resource - Moms, a networking machine.
- Win / Win for All Concerned - The talent pool is very deep and there is a desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
- A Balancing Act / Releasing the Guilt - Managing home responsibilities with commitments to business.
- Flexibility and Support - The key to working with Moms is understanding their situation and working with them / not against them - No short-term Deadlines.

An Untapped Marketing Resource

For Business Owners:

Throughout history, one of the most important assets in any business's tool box is their ability to network. Who you know. How well you know them. How well they know you. And who your friends know have all been the important concepts businesses must be able to leverage to grow effectively and penetrate any new market.

So have you spoken to a Mom lately?

Do you have any idea how big and influential their network is?

Whether it is your wife, your Mom, your sister-in-law, or your neighbor, they are an absolute networking machine. Between "play dates", school, preschool, Baseball, Softball, Boy and Girl Scouts, music lessons, the YMCA, local stores, and now with the introduction of social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn, the Moms around you know more people . . . WELL, than you could dream of meeting in the next year. And this doesn't even account for the fact that Mom's have a natural elixir for building new with others - their kids.

Not to mention that the people that Moms know are other Moms - the real financial decision maker in most households.

If you are NOT tapping into the resources of the Moms in your life, finding ways to leverage their natural networking gifts then you are missing out on business opportunities beyond your wildest dreams. All you have to do is recruit these women and reward them for the work they are already doing - networking. Take advantage of what they know and who they know to build your business and reward them as they support you.

For Moms:

Stop thinking that you don't have value. As I just pointed out, the network you have has more value than you can imagine. People, including those that you know, are always looking for businesses that they can trust and that will take care of them.

Think about it . . . aren't you looking for the same?

And when it comes right down to it, who would you rather get a recommendation from . . . a friend of yours or some celebrity on a TV ad?

As a Mom, you have a unique opportunity to help businesses (particularly small businesses) grow and prosper simply by doing what you are doing every day. You know your neighborhood better than anyone else. You know the problems and struggles that every Mom is facing - whether she is a stay-at-home Mom or fully employed at an office. You know the services they need and the problems that can arise when those services aren't fulfilled properly. Leverage your gifts and turn them into income. Approach the businesses that seem to understand your struggles and work out a deal to generate strong leads for them - not as a sales rep, but as an affiliate.

Most small businesses are struggling right now with getting new customers to walk through their doors. If you can make that happen for them, by being an advocate, by being a cheerleader for them, you can earn some great money . . . simply by being you.

On the average, most businesses spend anywhere between 5-10% of their sales on marketing. If you are generating leads for them, you should be able to get at least that much for your efforts.

But don't stop at who you know today, build your network and grow it even stronger. Expand it - grow it - increase your influence by engaging with more and more people in your marketplace.

Some recommendations for growing your network include:

- Join clubs with your children
- Meet other parents at sporting events - talk to them, find what you have in common.
- Get involved at school
- Join the social networking sites - Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn
- Get in touch with old friends
- When picking up your kids at preschool or school, get there a couple minutes early and commit to meeting one new person every day - make them a friend. You don't have to be a close friend, but one that listens and understands their life.

Bottom line is that networking, the skill you most Moms take for granted, because it comes so natural with their lifestyle, is an amazing asset that can be leveraged for the benefit of all involved: small businesses, Mom, and all of the people that Mom knows.

Whether you are a small business owner of a Stay-At-Home Mom, you have an opportunity to help a lot of people - including yourself. Don't let that opportunity go un-rewarded.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How Much Is A New Customer Worth To You?

How much is a new customer worth to you?

Unfortunately, most businesses really don't know the answer to that question. And when asked, most owners will tell you what their average sale is - or how much they charge for their product or service. They rarely see the lifetime value of a customer.

Or asked another way, how much would you pay to get a new customer to walk through your doors, hit your website, or call you on the phone?

Sadly, in most cases, the answer to this question is a small percentage of a single sale / contract - usually only pennies on the dollar.

But is that all a customer is worth . . . how much he spent last time he patronized your business (or how much he will spend next time he patronizes it)?

Absolutely not!!! The true value of a customer is how much he or she will spend through the course of their lifetime - that is . . . when you manage to turn them from a one time customer into a lifelong client.

For example, to a brand new coffee shop, an average customer might spend $3.00 on their first visit. But if you can show real value to them and get them to love the experience of your coffee shop, that one time purchase goes from being $3.00 one time to $3.00 every day - generating upwards of $1000 / yr.

So, if the coffee shop owner only thought of the $3.00 sale, he might hesitate to give a perspective customer a $1.00 off coupon to try his product. But if that same owner knew his product was so good and the experience of his shop was so wonderful, the customer was sure to come back again and again, and that customer would spend $1000 in his shop this year alone, I bet he'd be willing to not only give them a free drink, but also buy them breakfast with it.

That's not to mention the fact that this new customer will most likely tell all of his friends and family about the new, fantastic cup of Iced Coffee he had and tell them they've got to try it. He'd tell them, "Not only is the first drink on the house, but you get a free breakfast with it."

Lifetime Customer Value is a Universal Concept

This concept doesn't just apply to coffee shop sales or other retail stores - this idea applies to every business, in every industry - no matter the price point of the product. If you look at your customer as only a one time purchase, that's how you will treat them - and you will have to work to get them to come back each and every time they decide they need your product. But if you build your business around building clients (regular returning customers) and respect / honor them for the amount of income they will generate for you over the course of their lifetime, you will rewarded with patronage, testimonials and referrals beyond your wildest dreams.

Figuring Out Your Lifetime Customer Value

To figure out what your "Lifetime Customer Value" is actually quite simple if you have the right stats. It's nothing more than the total sales you have generated over your history in business divided by the total number of unique customers served.

If you don't have those figures, it's a bit tougher and is simply a wish.

For example, going back to the example above with the coffee shop, we could probably make the assumption that an average customer will patronize a coffee shop regularly four times a week, 50 weeks a year and do so for 10 years. If the average sale price during that time is $3.00 that would be $6000 per customer. However, you might also recognize that for every one customer that likes your business, there are 3 how try it and decide they like Starbucks bitter coffee flavor better. So in that case your average Lifetime Customer Value would only be $1500.

In either case, whether you are tracking unique patrons and total sales before now, I would begin right away. It's important because you want to be able to know what a customer is worth and how much you are willing to give them to get them to try your product or service.

And so I close by asking you again. . . How much is a customer worth to you?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Another Life Lesson I Learned From My Children

Life happens.
Embrace it.
Enjoy it for all that it gives you each day.
Learn from your past - don't dwell on it.
Live today as you are - as if there will be no tomorrow.
And for tomorrow, do your best to take one small step closer
To being the YOU that you dream of becoming.

It is truly amazing how life happens - even when we do our best to try to control it. We set goals and define our vision for the future - but what we sometimes forget is that LIFE is what happens as go about trying to fulfill our goals and our vision.

Too often, we take that message as a sign that we shouldn't try to define our future. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We must know what we want to become, and then start being that person today.

Funny how I was reminded how to live life once again, by my two children. They look at things so simply. It's amazing to me, how we so often overlook their ageless wisdom. Too often, we think we get wiser as we get older. But in my ways, as we mature and become institutionalized by society, we bury the wisdom that is naturally within us - part of our genetic code. We forget that life is a gift and meant to be lived every day.

This past weekend was an amazing weekend for me - it is always good to connect with what matters most and have your vision appear in the eyes of our children - reflected back upon you.

One of the most important things to me is that my two children, Garret and Turner, feel that I am there for them (often a tough thing being a part-time Dad, who lives halfway across the country). I really do my best, but sometimes forget that in order tBoldo become that man, I must be that man today.

This weekend I was reminded to live my vision TODAY, not wait for someday. I can want something very wonderful, but if I don't live it today - it won't come true. I learned that life is what happens while I am there with them: holding their hands walking in town or hiking in the woods, helping them with their homework, having a catch with a baseball, or helping them build mock shelters in their back yard.

Summer is upon us. With the warmth and beautiful weather, it is a wonderful season to look at your life and what you want. The time to begin removing the excuses that limit you from living the way you want to live. And just start doing!!!

So do something different today. Find one small thing that is preventing you from being who you want to be - and eliminate that excuse - what ever it is. And live one step closer to who you have always dreamed of becoming . . . TODAY.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Marketing, Sales, Operations or Customer Service? What Is Your Weakest Link?

Marketing's job is getting customers to walk in the door.

Sales' job is getting them to buy once they walk in.

Operations delivers on the promise that the sales person made - the product or service that the business provides.

And finally, Customer Service is making sure they are satisfied with what they were sold.

Those are the four main functions of delivering a product to your customers. Unfortunately, most small businesses are good at one, maybe two of them, but very few are good at all four. Because if they were, they probably wouldn't be small anymore.

I've heard it said that anyone can get someone to buy something once - often times they will do it out of curiosity. But getting them to come back again and again - to become a lifetime customer - takes a real business person. And of course, it takes "systems".

As you build a new business or grow an existing business, recognize that it doesn't matter how good any one of the processes that I spoke about earlier. Think of the four systems as "the chain of business". You are only as strong as your weakest link. How strong the strongest link in the chain is doesn't matter, the chain will always break at the weakest link.

Sadly, most small business owners usually do the exact opposite - they tend to be really strong in operations - building the product / creating the service that is their business - and they work to make the product better - instead of working on strengthening the other three aspects of their business.

Sure, you can have a great product or service - most people who have a small business do. But if you can't appeal to your target market (or don't know how to) or you can't sell your product (close the deal), or you can't ensure the customer is satisfied once the product is delivered, then it doesn't matter. You might get an occasional sale, but nothing to grow a business own.

Like life, your business needs balance. You need to nurture each segment of the business cycle, Marketing, Sales, Operations, and Customer Service. And you need to make sure that each element is as strong as you need them to be to ensure your customers experience what you INTEND them to experience when they patronize your business.

This takes diligence and commitment. So, as you begin to set out your goals for the next month or even 6 months to a year, make sure that you are committing to not only developing your product and service, but also to how you are going to market it, sell it, and satisfy the customers who purchase it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Motivate Yourself And Your Employees

Some people work with pride and integrity simply because they believe in what they are doing, believe in the vision of the company and love that they GET to do it every day.

While others work only for the pay they receive with the attitude that they HAVE to do it - often with hate for the company they work for dislike for the team they a part of.

Which are you?

And more importantly, which is the best description for the people that work for you?

Attitude is everything. I don't care what you do for a living, if you enjoy what you do, and look forward to doing it everyday - it will show. You will work harder and be more productive than those who don't care.

And believe it or not, attitude towards our jobs, whether you are flipping burgers for local fast food restaurant, piloting 747s for a major airline, or CEO of a Fortune 100 Business, can be predicted, relatively accurately, based on how people respond to a few specific questions. These questions are:

1. Do I understand and believe in the vision of the business I'm working for?
2. Do I clearly understand my role in the organization, including the responsibilities I have and how I will be judged / rated in performing this job?
3. Do I believe the rewards (compensation) are fair throughout the business - based on performance and not something arbitrary, like color of skin, age, sex, or personal / familial relationships? And that you are being fairly compensated for what you do?
4. Do I have the training I need to do my job properly?
5. Do I have all the tools and procedures I need to fulfill my responsibilities?
6. Are my talents recognized and understood by my superiors?
7. Am I encouraged to use my individual talents to fulfill my daily activities or through some other process?
8. Is it clear to me how I can improve myself and am I given full capacity to do so?

The more questions you can answer above with a resounding YES, the more likely you enjoy what you are doing, the more positive your attitude will be every day and the more motivated and committed to the job you will be. However, conversely, the more NOs, that you answer, the more likely you will feel discouraged, disenfranchised, and simply working for the pay, and not because you enjoy it.

Ask yourself these questions and ask them of your employees. Don't just do it once, make it a system that you rely on to understand the state of your business as much as any financial or sales analysis.

Do your best to encourage everyone to answer honestly. Work not just to make yourself and them happy and to give them more pay, but instead to turn your and their NOs to YESes. Figure out where you and your senior team lack in leading those who do the hard work everyday.

And watch your business grow in ways you wouldn't have expected, with such simple, "soft" techniques. Because when you have motivated employees and motivated leaders, who GET come to work everyday to do what they enjoy doing, and not HAVE to come to work in order to pay their bills, you will reap the benefits of Higher Customer Satisfaction, Larger Market Share, Better Employee Retention and More Productive Employees. Oh and let's not forget, more money in the bottom line - and cash in your back account.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What Are You Doing To Help Yourself?

Changing the way you view yourself and your current situation is one of the best ways to change your life. It is the first step to developing new behaviors. And it helps you recognize the progress you've made in your life as well as assisting in finding new solutions to your existing struggles.

But how do you do that? How do you change the way you see your situation and yourself, if all you know is what you have always done?

That's a tough question - that most people struggle with. In many cases it is the answer you can't find on your won - you need outside help (a life or business coach or someone acting in that role). But, in the absence of an outside agent helping you see your life differently, here are some tips / techniques that you can use yourself:

- Stop accepting the problem as the end. Listen to yourself talk sometime about your problems, even if it means recording yourself and playing it back. Are you always talking about problems and stopping right there? If you are an "excuse maker", that is probably the case. So rather than stopping at the problem, take yourself one step further and offer a solution. It doesn't have to be the perfect solution, it just has to get you closer to better situation than you had / have already.

- Find what's working, focus on it and do more of it. Ask yourself "What's working in my life?" or "What worked for me today?" and really focus on that. Most people see so much "wrong" in their lives that they forget to look at what's right. When you can see what's right, you can begin to understand the power you have over your own life. And the more you understand that power, the more you can duplicate it in the future.

- Be grateful for what you have. Gratitude is a grounding process. The more you are thankful, the more you begin to look at life as full of abundance, rather than scarcity. Take a few moments every day to focus on what you are thankful for in your life and you will begin to see your life in a completely different way.

- Stop doing what isn't working for you. This may sound like common sense, but as has been said many times by many people, "Common Sense is NOT Common Practice." Just because something doesn't work for you doesn't mean that you are going to automatically stop doing it. The reason most people don't apply this rule is because they've tried to stop, but nothing seems to work to change it. But honestly, they haven't tried everything - just what they know.

The internet is an amazing thing - forums on just about every subject / problem out there. Google your struggle and find a new solution. Try it and give it your best to change what's not working for you. If that process doesn't work for you either, then try another and another. Make it is that "not working for you" is not an option.

- Take small steps every day, rather than large steps once a week / month, to achieve what you want. Real, lasting change requires sustainability. Sustainability requires that you be able to live with the changes. The truth is the bigger the changes you try to accomplish, the stronger the pull back to your old habits. This is one of the reasons dieting is so hard - the more dramatically you try to lose weight, changing your lifestyle, the stronger the pull of your old lifestyle is and the more likely you will yo-yo back to where you started.

So if you want to change anything for the rest of your life, do it in small, measurable, planned increments and do it for the long term . . . not the short term.

Go Forth And Conquer By Systematizing These Ideas

None of these tips are magical - they require hard work and daily diligence - the one thing that we all tend to struggle with. If you truly want to help yourself, you won't stop by just trying these few tips I written above once or twice - instead you will take the necessary steps to take these steps from once a week occurrences or "only when I feel bad" solutions, to every day solutions that you apply not only when things are good, but also when they are NOT.

That means putting into place some form of daily accountability that will help you stay on track even when you don't feel like it anymore. It means doing more than just getting excited today. It's about getting excited today and every day forward - not just about generating results, but also in the daily process.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Your List of Goals is NOT a To-Do List

What is the Difference between Goals and Actions (To-Do List)?

Simply stated Goals are the purpose toward which we direct our attention.

Actions (the things you have on a To-Do List) are the things you do to achieve your purpose (or goals).

Goals are what you desire to have or create, actions (your to-do list) are what you are going to do to create your goals.

- The essence of Goals is the answer to the question, "Why?"

- The essence of Actions is the answer to the questions, "What?" and"How?"

Would You Rather Vacation In Fargo or Cancun?

Truth is, all too often we live in a world of actions - and tell ourselves that we have goals. That's tantamount to deciding to deciding on going on vacation via a plane, without ever knowing where you want to go. Sure the plane might be the right choice, but then again, it might not.

Imagine if you decided to go on a vacation and just went to the airport and got on the first plane that had an open seat. Sure, you could end up in Cancun, where you would praise yourself for not wasting your time deciding where to go. But you could just as easily end up in Fargo, North Dakota (where you would blame the plane, not your lack of selecting a destination first).

Don't get me wrong, I love North Dakota, but it's NOT where I want to Vacation.

The airplane represents what we are going to do, but the Cancun and Fargo represent our goal. If we don't first choose our destination, we have little chance of really getting there.

In all honesty, as silly as this may sound for planning a vacation - it's just as silly for living your life.

STOP Picking WHAT and HOW First - Instead Pick WHY - The WHAT and HOW Can Follow

Everyday we ask ourselves the question, "What do I need to get done today?" (what is the mode of transportation?). But how many people really ask themselves "why they need to get those things done?" (where do I want to go?).

Unfortunately, in today's fast paced world this becomes a bigger and bigger problem. Each day, we pile on more actions that need to be done - but very rarely do we actually slow down long enough to figure out why they are doing them - or even if there are better ways of doing them.

I believe that when you establish Goals and face them everyday, your Goals drive your Actions - and this leads to you achieving the life you want to create. But, if you haven't defined your goals, you end up taking Actions with no real intent, then you will end up getting whatever LIFE decides to give to you.

The first key to creating the life you want - is first deciding what it is you want.

If you want to change your life, stop focusing on changing your actions (your to-do list). Instead, start by defining your goals. Only then will you be able to figure out which actions need to be done, which ones don't and, of course, which new ones need to be added to the list.

Finally, here are some 5 easy steps to Making Your Goals Drive Your Actions:

- Start simple - make a small list of short term goals (1 week to 1 month).

- Figure out what you need to make those goals happen - make your to-do list.

- Everyday, before you start working on your to-do list, review and concentrate on your goals - empower yourself with purpose.

- Periodically review your goals and make sure that your actions (your to-do list) are actually leading you toward your goals . . . or not

- Make changes as you need to make to your to-do list to stay on track with your goals - but don't change your goals.

Good luck. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Why Don't You Treat EVERYTHING Like A Game?

"Why do you treat everything like a game?" Those are the words I heard a 30 something man angrily YELL at his young son, as he went to wash his hands in a public bathroom.

You see, the son, who obviously had been taught to wash his hands after using the toilet, was getting reprimanded because he had made "hand washing" fun. And, much to the dismay of his father, it was taking the young lad longer (and making a bit more of a mess) than Dad had wanted it to. Besides, according to the Dad's point of view, it was obvious that hand washing was just something you did - not something you enjoyed doing.

What do you think that does to the desire for the son to wash his hands next time?

Will he wash now that it can't be fun as well as he would have, when it was a game to him?

I doubt it.

In fact, in my opinion, this father, completely unknowingly, is teaching his son a very powerful, yet damaging lesson. The lesson being that there are things that you have to do in life that you simply have to do. You shouldn't have fun doing them - you should just do them, and be miserable like me (and my Dad before me).

Today, it was washing his hands. Next week, it will be homework or mowing the lawn. And eventually it will be work, marriage and even life itself.

The gift of youth is that we look to make everything a game. We look to have fun in every thing we do - and it comes out most obviously, when parents make their kids do something they don't want them to do.

In fact, with infants, we even teach them HOW to do this ourselves. Don't believe me? Have you ever pretended the fork was an airplane, flying in circles and delivering the mouthful of peas (that you child won't eat on his own) to his or her mouth. Do you not try to make eating foods you don't like into a game?

But somehow, somewhere, we have were taught that life isn't supposed to be fun or a game - it's supposed to be serious and no fun at all. And although we might not intend to pass this outlook on to our kids, by the time they reach adolescence, most kids have given up on making things they don't like fun, and only look at those chores as work.

But is that what we should be teaching to our kids or even to ourselves?

I hope not.

If you ask me, if people just spent a little bit of their time at work and in their life figuring out how to have fun doing what they have to do - making it a game, two things would happen:

1. They would smile a lot more and actually look forward to the things they used to dread doing.
2. Their productivity would increase dramatically - probably in the area of 50-100% simply because we always try harder in games that we like than those we don't.

So I ask you . . .

Why don't YOU treat everything like a game?

Monday, June 8, 2009

How Far Will You Go To Fulfill Your Dreams?

I have found that most people truly believe they are committed to their goals and their dreams. They wake up every morning, believing they are doing everything possible to make their life what they want it to be. And they see that it's just their circumstance that is holding them back: they had a tough life growing up, the economy is sluggish, their parents didn't support their dreams, their boss is a jerk, etc. (I could go on for pages).

The truth is, these are not the reasons they are not achieving their goals - they are just the excuses they create to forgive themselves for giving up – for giving in.

It doesn't matter who you are. . . . excuses permeate the mind - but overcoming them (or not) is the difference between Success or Failure.

Never, Never, Never, Never Give Up!

Winston Churchill

What Are You Willing To Do To Overcome Your Excuses?

I recently read that psychologists measure commitment by the steps taken in the face of adversity.

So how committed are you?

Are you willing to do whatever it takes, in the face of the smallest (or even the largest) adversity to achieve what you want?

When the times get tough, to you accept that circumstances are just not favorable or that it's “just not in the cards”?

I don't care who you are and what your goals and dreams are . . . in today's world, in today's environment, you can accomplish whatever you set you mind out to do. But you have to be willing to accept that there will be adversity – it's a part of life. And more importantly, you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to overcome it when it hits.

Facing The Truth About The Commitment To Your Goals

One of the most difficult tasks a coach has to do with a client is “enlightening” them to how "uncommitted" they are to their goals and objectives. Sure it's easy to tell someone they aren't doing what they could be doing to change their circumstance, but actually getting them to understand and accept it deep enough in their subconscious to act upon it requires more than just stating facts. It often requires overturning truths that they hold very dearly – the truths that have defined who they are up to that point in their life.

Quite often, it's not a matter of a lack of desire that prevents most from achieving their vision. Desires / and wants are bountiful in everyone's life. Instead, most people fall short because they don't possess a commitment to do whatever it takes to overcome their current reality – it's just easier to give in than to fight.

And too often people confuse doing what they know how to do, what is easy to do, and what is comfortable to do, with doing everything possible under the sun.

Opening Your Eyes To Your Own Story

Convincing someone they lack resolve is not easy. We all have a story that we tell ourselves that supports our self-image. We have created a a mental support structure of built-in excuses that we apply to all the circumstances we encounter to further support that story about us.

Facing the truth about “our story” is not easy. It requires hard evidence. People must see for themselves how their story is actually preventing them from higher levels of commitment – preventing them from achieving their goals.

That means that they not only have to see that they aren't fulfilling their goals, but also that it was their choices, at each crossroads of life that got them where they are today – not the circumstances that surrounded their lives.

This is a difficult task. You see, most people are pretty good at seeing that they aren't achieving their goals. But very few actually admit to themselves that it wasn't the circumstance that caused the failure - but their own actions / inactions.

Instead of blaming circumstances, they need to take responsibility for the actions and their choices.

Instead of quitting in the face of adversity, they need to embrace the challenge and ratchet up their commitment to turn the situation around in their favor.

Instead of seeing problems that pop-up preventing them from achieving their goals, find solutions that turn the problem into a new opportunity.

Take This Opportunity To Ask, “What Is My Story?”

How committed am I?

Have I done everything I can to make my dreams come true, or do I just make excuses for myself?

And most importantly, now that you are armed with this knowledge, what are you going to do differently to overcome the adversity that is inevitable in the pursuit of any worthy goal?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Need To Reach Your Goals? Read Your E-Mail

In next week's Time Magazine, Dr. Sunjay Gupta, published an article, Too Fat? Read Your E-Mail, about the positive influence of daily / regular reminders in helping people eat healthier - keeping people on track to what they want to accomplish.

The article was based on a study published in the June issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and found dramatic improvements on the fulfillment of health goals of a study group as compared to their control group.

It turns out that with weekly plus reminders, the targeted groupd increased their exercise regimen by an hour a week, reduced their consumption of saturated and trans fats by more than 1 gram / day, and increased their fruit / vegetable intake by 1/3 cup over the control group.

The truth is, the effects aren't limited to just health improvements.

These email reminders can work to support the accomplishment of any goal - health, professional, monetary, business, or personal. It doesn't matter the goal, what matters is how daily interaction with them affects the way you think and act.

Goals drive you actions! And the more you are thinking about your goals, the more likely it is that you will take the actions you need / must take to accomplish them. In this study, it was shown to work with health related goals -and specifically target emails to keep you focused, but over the course of the past 5 months, I have watched it work as well with personal, business, life, health, and even career goals.

If you are interested in finding out more about the effects of regular emails - that remind you about your goals as well as provide support and advice every day, please contact us at

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Natural Laws Govern Our Happiness And Success

If you want to start a garden this summer, you know that there are many natural laws that govern the process. These are things that are true, whether you know them or not. They are independent of you and me - and govern the world we live in. You can try all you want to break the laws. But the truth is, nature is the ultimate accountability partner - and you will only get out of your garden, exactly what you put into it.

The laws I speak of aren't necessary written down in a "Natural Law Book", but best as I can tell, they are as follows:

1. You will only reap what you sow. Sounds silly, but you won't get cucumbers if all you planted was tomatoes. It doesn't matter how well you take care of the tomato plants, all you will get from them is tomatoes. So think about what you want before you plant - not in the middle of the summer.

2. If you want a harvest in the fall, then you must plant in the spring. There is no getting around this one - you can't wait until September, work real hard and expect to see a great harvest by October - it just isn't going to happen.

3. If you don't take care of the garden all summer long, watering, weeding and generally caring for the plants, you will not get the harvest you hope for. How many gardens will be started this spring, only to be left to their own all summer long - leaving little or no real chance for a harvest come autumn.

So here is my question:

Why is it that we can know and understand the natural laws of gardening
and farming so well, doing our best to live within them, but continue to
deny that we, as natural beings, are governed by similar natural laws?

In fact, whether we want to acknowledge it or not, I believe there exists a set of natural laws that govern human behavior - laws that govern the results we get each and every day from our actions. And I believe that our ignorance to or resistance against these laws doesn't make them any less "real" - nor give us any 'free' passes to get what we want without doing the necessary work.

Here are the laws that I believe govern our success and happiness, just as the laws above govern the success and happiness associated with a garden harvest.

1. You will only reap what you sow. You must plan for what you want. If you don't, there is no telling what the result will be. This means starting with the end in mind - having a vision of what you want to create and goals that will give you the focus you need through the tough times and the good.

2. If you want to have the life you want, then you must begin to take action NOW to make it happen. The creation of real success in life takes time and commitment. There will be times when you have a short lived windfall from short term activities. However, for the most part, if you want to BE someone when you grow up or be known for something when you grow old, then you must start today. You can't wait until you are grown up or old to be that person.

There is no getting around this one - you can't do nothing for your entire life, and then at age 60 decide to create the life you want. It doesn't work that way. You can begin to change who you are from that point forward, but you can't change the first 60 years of your life.

3. It's not just a one time decision - it takes daily attention and focus to grow success and happiness. All too often in life, as in the garden, people plant the seeds of their future, but do nothing to nurture those seeds. Sure they start our with great intentions, but quickly falter and even forget what they wanted in the first place. They let their dreams sprout, but quickly dry up or become overrun by thousands of opposing ideas, gnawing away at their time, money and energy.

In life, just as in gardening, you must show up everyday and care for your vision, examine your life, and decide what you need to do today to get your self one step closer to the life you want.

Finally, as an extension of the third rule, it's important to remember that you must enjoy the journey as much as work towards destination. It isn't enough to live only for tomorrow or only for today. You must find away to relish the past, learning as you go, enjoy the present as if it's all that you have, and plan for your future, giving as much attention in your daily routine to what you want to create as you do to want you want right now.

Live By The Laws Or Suffer The Consequences

You can do what ever you want with your life. We all know that you will. These laws don't state that you can't DO what ever you want, they simply define the consequences of your actions.

Are there exceptions? Sure - extreme few. Just like we all now that if you step off of a 10 story building the laws of gravity will make you fall, the result of the fall may not be fatal - you could get lucky. But the natural law is still present.

So the sooner you begin to accept these laws and begin to define your actions around them and within the limitations and boundaries they provide, the more likely you will live a happier, more successful life.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Push Yourself To Leverage The Power of Positive Stress

Let's face it, setting goals and trying to achieve them causes stress - and it's usually stress we can handle. . . most of the time. And so, we take on more and more every day, not realizing the toll it's taking on us, until it's too late. The stress stops being a positive influence on our lives and begins to destroy the very thing we are striving to achieve.

At first it feels good - you are making things happen and completing your goals. You feel good about yourself and the energy it brings to you. Unfortunately, it's very easy to push yourself too hard and too fast to achieve what you want - because you want everything . . . right now. And by going too far, we almost always end up losing all the gains we made in the first place.

So the key is to set goals that drive you forward, but not so fast that you can't handle the stress and that pace.

The Difference Between Eustress and Distress

The difference between your current reality, your day-to-day life, and your dreams causes stress - good stress (eustress). It is this stress that drives you forward to achieve your goals and make your dreams come true. It causes you to take actions and do the things that you must do, to change your current reality.

Eustress is a good thing. But as we know, too much of any "good thing" always turns bad.

When we push ourselves too hard, or a crisis comes up that we didn't anticipate, that eustress can quickly turn into distress (the bad stress in our lives) - the stress that comes from feelings of inadequacy, overburden, and failure.

While eustress will give you the energy every day to make your dreams come true - when you feel distress, it is destructive. You will do just about anything to make it go away. Change the condition that is creating it - as fast as you can.

What Happens When Good Turns To Bad

Without constant monitoring and self awareness, it is very easy to push yourself over the top and go from the positive of eustress to the destructive of distress.

When this happens, it's important to make a decision - either work through the distress, knowing it's short lived, or relieve it. In order to relieve the "distress" caused by chasing your goals and dreams, you have two options:

1. Change your current reality and make your dreams come true

2. Change your goal to ease the stress.

So, do you really have a choice? Not really - because you CAN NOT change current reality. Life, right this minute, is what it is. It takes time to change your current reality. It takes daily action and focus over time to change your current reality.

However, you can change your goals, making them easier to achieve or removing them completely from your life. Literally, you remove the stress, by eliminating what you want from your life - because it's easier (less stressful to live without the pressure of growth burdening you with pressure to perform.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what most people do. They simply lower their goals and begin down the dark side of life - a life void of drive / personal development.

When you lower your goals and ease your stress, you give up on living.

Think about this as you go through you day, today. Is the stress you are feeling, eustress or distress? It is a fine line - even when it's coming from your efforts to achieve your goals. You want create enough stress that you feel uncomfortable being where you are, but not so much that you give up or breakdown.

Your goals will drive your actions moving forward. There will be days when you push yourself too hard. And others when you barely push at all.

Be the Willow, not the Oak when Dealing with Stress

The key to growing day-to-day is to first being honest with yourself with where you are - your current reality. And then setting and analyzing your goals each and every day. When unforeseen, uncontrollable events begin to build up, and the eustress goes over the edge, you have crossed a threshold that you must reign in. Either you power your way through it (because you know its short lived) or you make some adjustments to your goals. Be a Willow Tree here not an Oak Tree (bend but don't break). Stick to your goals, but give yourself a little more time or energy to make them happen - be flexible enough to allow yourself to keep moving forward.

Push yourself - but do it in a healthy way.

The truth is if you land in the "world of Distress" too long, not only will you not reach your goals on time, but will most likely give up on them completely.

I'm sure you can even tell me of times when you broke the threshold of eustress to distress. And may have even broken it recently a bit. That's ok - you need to know where the threshold is - but make sure you come back quick.

Come back and give yourself room - to bend like the willow in the wind - is very important.

What's amazing about life though, is the more eustress you can handle and work with today - the more capable you are of increasing that in the future (you adapt and grow). It's like a muscle that grows stronger with exercise. But there will always be a threshold - be careful and make sure you have a system (often times an objective outside observer) to remind you to bend / not break when you get to close.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Stay on Track

According to Coach Tom Landry (Cowboys Football coach from 1960-1988), coaching is getting someone to do what they don't want to do, so they can be who they want to be.

As a Business Coach, I tell people, current and perspective clients, that there isn't anything that I can tell them that they can't find somewhere else - either on the internet, in a book, through hiring a consultant or going back to school. Unfortunately, most people simply don't do what they know they should do, because they tend to forget why they are doing it. They end up spending nearly all their time thinking how they are going to survive today, and forget that they actually had a dream they were trying to accomplish when they set out on the adventure of business ownership.

It seems to me that it is common knowledge that if you start a business, you need a Business Plan. But yet 80% of all small businesses in America operate without a Business Plan, or any strategy at all. Sure, they may have written one when they started, so they could get a loan from a bank. But, once they got their loan, they have never looked at it again. They normally just run and make it all about doing, doing, doing - never stopping to figure out if they are on the path to achieving what they want.

So, let's stop and think for just one minute - that is if you are a Small Business Owner. It's the middle of 2009. And you only have half the year left to reach your annual goals. What are your goals for the year? What do you want your business to be when you celebrate the beginning of 2010?

These are not trivial questions!!! Nearly (*) every great accomplishment in life has occurred because some ONE followed nearly exactly these steps, of which setting goals is the first and most important:
- Envisioned it occurring, creating the goal
- Figured out a plan on how to achieve it
- Set down a planned path to achieve it
- Ran into roadblocks along the way
- Modified the plan to correct for things they hadn't foreseen
- Repeatedly corrected their plan until they reached their goal.

There is nothing magical about it - it just takes fortitude and the ability to adjust the plan when things don't exactly as go you thought they would. Because they NEVER will.

So rather than just surviving, go out and make your goals a reality. And then the key is to STAY ON TRACK!

(*) I say nearly every great accomplishment because someone will always throw Sir Alexander Fleming's name out there because he accidentally discovered penicillin. But it was his goal to discover a way to kill bacteria - penicillin was an accident, but finding the most effective substance for killing bacteria was NOT!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Change Yourself And You Will Change The World Around You

We don't see the world as it is - we see it as we are and as we feel.

If you feel good about yourself, you see the world as a reflection of that. If you are insecure and lack confidence with your life, then you will find events and surround yourself with people that validate those feelings too.

So, if you want to change the world, you can try to change everyone and everything around you - or you can change yourself and see everyone and everything around you change too.

I don't care how objective you try to be - what you experience - happiness, sadness, anger, jealousy, wraith, joy, pride and even love, isn't just black and white truth - it's a reflection of who you are, how you think, how you live, what you do, and even where you live.

A Personal Reminder

Last month, I was reminded of this idea once again - in my own life. A couple events occurred in my life that shook my confidence and rocked the foundation of my life.

The funny thing is that the events were not that big of a deal. In fact, as I look back they were completely foreseeable and almost silly. So they shouldn't have impacted me at all. But at the time, I was doubting some things in my own heart. And when the events happened, it reflected back what I was already feeling - and they were nearly crippling.

Had these events occurred the month before or even this month, they would have hardly impacted me at all - had I even noticed them. But when I was feeling a little insecure about a couple things in my life, my subconscious was looking for validation of those insecurities. And of course, it found the validation - as it ALWAYS will.

You Can Choose The Feelings You Want Validated

Everyday, there are things that will happen around you that will validate nearly anything and everything you want to feel. If you feel pretty, you will find validation. If you don't, you will find that too. Smart, dumb, fun, angry - anything you feel, your subconscious will validate for you - it will find (or create) validation to perpetuate the feelings you are experiencing about yourself.

The funny thing is that validation doesn't always come from where we thought, or hoped, it would. That can cause anxiety. But it shouldn't, because it isn't about the others around us, it's about us. It's our subconscious looking to make you feel safe in how you are feeling by validating your thoughts. Accept it - it is what it is, a reflection of you, not the people around you.

So rather than looking for validation of what you want to believe about yourself - behave and feel what you want to feel about yourself first.

Be the person you want to be, and the feelings will follow. And where the feeling lie, so lies your filter - and inevitably, validation for your feelings.

Be confident, and you will feel confident - and find validation for your confidence.

Be happy and you will feel happy - and you will see happiness all around you - validating and expanding your own happiness.

Love and you will feel love - and without a doubt, you will see love all around you.

YOU have the ultimate power over YOUR LIFE, over the world within which YOU LIVE. You can choose how you feel and what you surround yourself with - happiness, sadness, love, or anger, simply by choosing to behave in a manner that reflects those feelings.

And most importantly, you will not only will you change yourself, but you will change the world around you.

**** But here is a quick warning . . . the feelings you want to validate must be real, not made up or faked, or the validation you find will feel just as insincere as the feelings you are trying to validate.

Monday, June 1, 2009

If you could have any one thing in life that you wanted . . . what would it be?

If you could have any one thing in life that you wanted . . . what would it be?

Sounds like what the Genie asked Aladdin when he rubbed the lamp, doesn't it? But what if it wasn't just a fabled story, and you could actually have anything you wanted. What would you want?

And what if I told you that you could have it, but . . . there was a catch. You would have to be WILLING to give up what you have today - everything you know and love.

Would you do it?

Note, I didn't say you had to give up everything you had right now - just had to be willing to. You may have to give it all up. But then again, you may not. The key is the willingness to let go - the openness for the opportunity of growth.

You see, it's all within your power and your reach . . . the ability to have anything you can dream of. That no lie - and I'm not selling anything. But for most people the fear of the unknown - not knowing what that life may leave them with - is enough to prevent them from actually doing what they need to do.

Believe it or not . . . we experience this many times in our childhood. But we don't hesitate, because, the draw forward is stronger than the chains holding us back.

The first time a baby walks, he is willing to give up the security of crawling, just to be more like Mom and Dad.

Same thing happens when he becomes potty trained - as much as he wants to be more grown up, he also loves to be a baby.

And when you go to school for the first time, you venture into a world that you've dreamed about often for years, but with absolute fear, because you know there is no turning back.

And your first kiss - life as you know it is over. Whether you realize it at the moment or not, as you put your arm around someone else for the first time to give them a passionate kiss, there is no turning back - but you are ok with that, because it's time to grow up - to become more adult.

Throughout our lives we face these decisions - we face growing up and moving forward, or forever staying where we are. In each of these examples, you were willing to give up what you had for the hope of something better. Some of the changes are small, and others are large. But don't kid yourself, with each step, you lose a little bit of who you were to become who you are going to be.

But all too often, as adults, we get stuck. We stop moving forward and get complacent - not willing to give up anything to even grow a little bit. All we want is security in life - which quite honestly, isn't life at all.

The essence of who we are, as humans, is growth. More than anyone else, we have the ability to see our surroundings, find the flaws and "try" to improve on them. But alas, many of us struggle at the idea of growth - not sure what we would have to give up, if we go down that path. Literally the fear of what we might lose, prevents us from actually getting what we want.

So let me ask you . . .

- Would you give up watching American Idol or The Biggest Loser to have your Masters Degree and eventually a better paying job, higher salary, and more personal flexibility?

- Would you be willing to give up one and a half slices of bread per day for ever to cut one pound from your diet every month for the rest of your life?

- Would you give up job security and a guaranteed pay check every other week to pursue your dreams - even if that meant getting a smaller house, a smaller car, and eating out less, knowing that you might make 10x what you make now?

These are just a few questions that I can think of - but the truth is, there are a million things we must be WILLING to "give-up" if we want our dreams come true, so the most important two questions of all are:

What do you want your life to be?

What are you willing to do / give up to make that come true?

When you are WILLING to give up everything - literally everything is possible!