How Relationships Should Evolve (In My Eyes)

We tend to view the world from our own lens and rightly so.

So how does being built for human connection actually play out?

In my eyes relationships are an endless conversation. You pick up next time exactly where you left off previously.

But in my experience that rarely happens.

Factors such as effort, memory and focus determine the quality of exchange.

If one person puts in the energy, but the other doesn’t it ceases to grow.

If one person forgets where you left off, the next interaction is like meeting a stranger for the first time.

If one person has an agenda or task needed to be accomplished, it’s merely a one-time transaction.

I admit when my goal is to know someone deeper I put in the effort. I don’t always succeed, but most of the time I do.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, he uses the term “thin slicing” to make quick judgement of people. It’s a form of stereotyping, but it’s how our minds create schema.

It’s at the crux of how we decide to proceed.

In some cases people don’t have the soft skills to connect effectively. Technology is somewhat to blame, but intention, empathy and practice carry more weight.

Task-driven people believe others exist as a means to accomplish their ends.

Relationship-driven folk view people as an end in itself.

Similar to an ambivert, you can be both, but usually you lean more towards one side than the other.

Neither is better, but your personal life reveals which position is more important.

I joke with my friends that online dating has killed relationships, but that could be a generational preference. The reason I go there is because if I met my wife through a dating site, how much risk would I take getting to know her? (If the answers are already revealed, what’s the fun in discovery?)

Don’t get me wrong, I am more introverted than extroverted, so my goal isn’t to become close to everyone I meet. In fact I choose quality over quantity, so when I intend to “invest” in someone I dive in head-first not knowing if there’s actually water in the pool.

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Is that reckless behavior? Possibly.

But then again it’s my life, not yours.

No risk. No Reward. That’s how I see it.

The 1 Thing You Have To Give Up To Be A Successful Entrepreneur

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Your relationships.

Anyone who has been a successful business owner has sacrificed their personal life at some point.

I’m not against working hard, but at what expense?

I hear a lot of 20 somethings say they want to focus on their career then get married and start a family in their 30’s. Well guess what: relationships don’t grow on trees nor come without a cost – mainly time.

It’s the same reason why most celebrities and professional athletes aren’t able to maintain a strong family unit because they’ve chosen to put their careers in the forefront and their relationships outside of work on the back burner. If you’re fortunate enough to have a selfless spouse who can hold the house down while you’re away then it can work, but that takes a special individual to put your needs before theirs.

When I look back on my career as a full-time entrepreneur I realize why I never met my own lofty expectations: I put people before profit. It’s your choice which one you choose, but rarely can you pick both.

I had too many boundaries in place to go “all-in,” therefore I would work up to a certain point, but cared about my lifestyle more than my possessions.

This post isn’t to mock those who have made it big nor is it putting those who are relationally-focused on a pedestal. It’s my observation of over 10+ years of reading, hearing and witnessing first-hand what it really takes to live the American Dream.

If there’s an understanding in terms of priorities that your career is first then those associated with you have to abide by it. Of course hard work alone doesn’t guarantee anything, but without it you don’t stand a chance.

The realization I came to is: people are most important to me.

When I first started my business I had financial goals in mind that I hit quickly, but over time I realized to reach the next tier I’d have to sacrifice the relationships around me. Since I wasn’t willing to do that, the numbers of hours I dedicated reflected in the amount of the paycheck (or lack thereof).

Fortunately I married someone who shares my values. I love that she is raising our two kids at home until they are full-time at school. We can make it on a single income because we live lean and value our time together the most. You don’t need a lot of money to be happy, but you do need to allocate a great amount of time to others.

It’s up to you to decide what currency is most important: time or money. Once you do, it’s easy to know where you should spend your energy.

The X-Factor For Employee Retention

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I admit I believe in work-life separation, but even an old dog can learn new tricks.

Being a corporate newbie (former FT entrepreneur) I can relate to that Scrubs episode where Dr. Kelso stepped one foot out the hospital and started whistling like he had no cares in the world.

Am I heartless? Far from it. But as I moonlighted as a contractor I walked into companies as a hired gun. I enjoyed getting to know people, but subconsciously I never mixed business with personal. It’s my way of keeping boundaries.

But now being an employee I’m starting to see things differently. I’ll never be that guy who grabs a drink after work with co-workers for 2 reasons: 1) I want to see my kids and wife as soon as work is over 2) I don’t drink. It’s not something I’m against, more so a different time in my life.

Yet what’s changed for me in the past month or so is my view towards friends at work. I’m completely fine with putting my head down, banging my work out and leaving unnoticed. But something happened along the way…

My role at work is to support our employees (online tutors). It happens over Zoom (video conferencing) weekly. Ironically I wasn’t taking the same approach to work relationships, but my shift in behavior has made me re-think work.

Maybe it’s the remote environment of the company I work for, but outside of compensation who you connect with at work is the X-factor of retention. This is a quality, not quantity issue. You can bond over work projects, but the natural foundation of a true friendship is built over common interests and reciprocity. Effort alone guarantees nothing, but without it you’ll get nowhere. The interest has to be mutual.

Honestly I’ll never be that guy who calls his work friends his best friends, but knowing there are more than a handful of people at my company I am interested in connecting with outside of work is a huge step in the right direction for me.

So where do you fall on the friends at work spectrum?

Why Industry Experience Is Overrated

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If you think you didn’t get hired at your last interview because of lack of experience, you’re wrong.

Lack of experience is a strike against you, but if that employer didn’t see potential beyond your resume you wouldn’t even have an interview in the first place.

Your resume is like a Driver’s License. It qualifies you for the job, but you have to prove your value to the company in-person.

In fact sometimes industry experience can be a bad thing. For example if you were at your previous job for 10+ years and didn’t know anything else, how adaptable and flexible can you really be moving forward?

In my current role as a Faculty Manager for an online test prep/academic tutoring company I was on the outside looking in. The tutors I manage remotely know way more about the SAT/ACT than I’ll ever care to know. So when asked if I had any experience in the education space during my interview, I responded by focusing on my strengths for the position.

Since I am managing tutors, not teaching students, I talked about leading people. As for former youth pastor I dealt with parents of teenagers (most clients are high school students). As an entrepreneur I am organized and specialize in time management (managing programs and learning the system is 50% of the job for our tutors). Knowing the technical skills of high school academia is irrelevant for me. As long as I can prove I can get the results from the tutors I add value to the company.

My situation may not suit yours, but my point is simple: know thyself.

Self-awareness is the most important trait of any leader. Know what you’re great at and also what you suck at. Most jobs ask you to multi-task, but within those responsibilities there are priorities. Nail those and now you have leverage.

Selling yourself is having confidence in your abilities and knowing who you are. Every time you decide to pivot careers you’re at the same place. You will switch careers frequently for the rest of your working life so get used to it.

An employer notifying you didn’t get the job because of lack of experience is a scapegoat. What they really meant is they don’t have the confidence that you can get the job done despite experience. If you understand that going in, you’ll focus less on what you don’t have and leverage your strengths to the fullest.

Don’t use lack of industry experience as an excuse. It’s only one if you choose it to be.

Why You Shouldn’t Set New Year’s Resolutions

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With the start of a new year, resolutions come to mind, but come mid-January (or February at the latest) you’ve already broken your promise. Why is that?

Resolutions, similar to goals, are set up to fail from the start. Here’s why:

The main reason why accomplishing your goals have such a low success rate is because even the best effort doesn’t result in perfection. This isn’t a scapegoat for not trying, but rather working the odds in your favor.

New Year’s Resolutions can be compared to starting a new business. The failure rate within the first 3 years is 80%. Now 3 years is longer than one month, but the concept is the same. Resiliency and patience are hard to come by. Call it a result of our fast-paced society, but we suck at waiting for results.

There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, but making behavior changes is hard work.

If you’ve ever set a goal and failed at it, you remember the feeling. You’ll do whatever you can to not revisit that feeling because its debilitating. Hence the reason why we avoid goal setting in the first place.

Instead shift your focus to creating good habits. Not only are habits better than goals, but they are process-oriented meaning progress is the desired outcome not perfection.

For example: losing 20 pounds is a goal while living a healthy lifestyle is a habit. You may lose the weight (doubtful), but chances are you’ll gain it back and then some shortly after. But if you decide to workout 3 times a week (on average) and cut your weekly sugar intake not only will you lose the weight, but it’s a sustainable change because you give yourself grace for special occasions.

It’s popular to set New Year’s Resolutions in January because the calendar is a trigger for fresh starts. Beyond that there’s not a real good reason why then is the best time.

When you want to fix or achieve something following the the right process is almost more important than the desired outcome. At it’s core nothing is wrong with goals, but if you want to set yourself up for success in the new year focus on habits and the results will come in time.

Why Punctuality Makes My Blood Boil

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Time is the most valuable currency, not money.

Everyone has the same amount, but we don’t use it the same.

Even before I was married and had kids, being on time mattered.

Efficiency is one of my top values and working smarter means maximizing your time.

But at a deeper level punctuality is about respect.

If time is the most valuable currency, being late means you’re wasting someone else’s time.

It’s time you can’t get back.

My roots were planted by my mom who is extremely reliable. When I was a kid if I asked her to do something and she committed to it, it would get done. It’s had a huge influence on my personality.

In the workplace punctuality is part of your reputation. When you’re late people notice. In fact I’d argue it’s a sign of integrity.

If a meeting starts at 8 AM and you’re late, it’s a slap in the face to the host.

Nobody’s perfect so an occasional slip up is fine, but habitual offenders become labeled.

Even since I joined the corporate world, I’ve continued to network online (LinkedIn), via phone and in-person on my lunch breaks. It’s more than a goal, it’s part of my lifestyle. The worst way to ruin a first impression is to show up late. I do my best to be early or on time.

So what if you lack punctuality?

You have a choice: talk about it or be about it.

Words are cheap. Actions are what matters. Don’t tell me, show me.

Most people believe being busy is a badge of honor. I disagree.

The more successful you become, the more in control of your time you should be.

Value your time by meeting with less people.

Value others’ time by showing up on time.

Valuing time means respecting others’.

How To Manage A Remote Workforce

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Most people would love the option of working remote, but what about managing a remote workforce?

It’s hard enough to manage people in the same location, but doing it remotely will test your creativity and leadership ability.

The book Remote gave me a deeper understanding of why remote work can be beneficial, but currently I have the challenge of managing a team spread out across the country. Here is what has worked over the past 3 months:

Trust – If there’s one scenario where micromanaging will destroy you it’s managing a remote team. Telecommuting lives and dies on trust. Give it to receive it. Be clear about the objectives, but offer autonomy for how to get there. Most companies make the mistake of hiring based on experience and skill set whereas attitude and motivation determines which workers are elite. Working remotely is the perfect hybrid between corporate and entrepreneurship. To take it a step further, if all managers were trained to lead as if their team wasn’t on location (even if they are), performance would skyrocket.

Connection – Avoiding commuting and parking is beneficial, but feeling isolated is downright scary. The most overlooked aspect of working from home is the lack of social interaction. It’s near impossible to replicate a virtual water cooler, but you have to try. Communication platforms such as Slack are step in the right direction. The key here is building community. That normally happens outside of work, so encourage employees to develop relationships informally, even set up the connections for them. As their manager, you’re the bridge to the company. Tying remote teams to something bigger than them is essential. Think outside the box and get suggestions from your team to form stronger bonds.

Feedback – It’s not abnormal to not talk to your boss daily, but managers of remote teams need to over-communicate or risk strayed performers. Without clearly defined markers, there’s no absolute way to measure progress. If you think managing people is difficult, it’s much more daunting when they live thousands of miles away. Leading a remote team is high-maintenance, but if done right the global talent you can amass is far greater than the limits of a morning commute. Make a note to email almost daily (depending how many are on your team) and meet via video weekly. Providing direction goes a long ways towards overall success.

So far the short journey has been extremely enjoyable. If you love developing people, the nuances will reveals themselves over time. Keep an open ear, communicate frequently and create a sense of belonging. Scaling leadership isn’t easy, but it’s the wave of the future.

Naked Leadership: Stripped Down To Its Purest Form

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When’s the last time you got naked?

I’m not talking about the shower, but as a leader.

Leadership stripped down to its purest form is: relationships.

As a former Youth Pastor employed at a church (Non-Profit Organization) naked leadership is void of power and money. Most workers are volunteers which means leverage boils down to what they think of their leaders.

For example, leaders can only ask from their people what they are willing to do themselves. It’s leadership by showing. Do as I say, but not as I do never works.

Today’s managers use coercion to get things done a certain way, but that “carrot and stick” method only works for so long.

In order to truly unlock the potential of those under your care you have to help them realize their strengths then put them in a position to succeed. That means trusting them by offering autonomy with clear objectives. Allowing people to make mistakes and learning from them.

Leading and develop people can be two different things. Naked leadership is about showing people you care before telling them what you know.

Think about your favorite leader. It may be someone you are close to or admire from afar. What they share is their genuine care for the wellbeing of people over results. In order to accomplish that as a leader you have to be secure enough to allow people to fail in order to succeed.

Naked leadership goes back to recess on the playground as a kid. No one appoints the leader, he or she just asserts themselves. That’s just the opposite of positional leadership which focused on titles, not earning the respect of others.

The difference between naked and positional leadership is longevity. Retention is about loyalty as much as it is about pay or perks. How employees act when their leader isn’t around is a true test of their allegiance.

Naked leadership means there is nothing to hide. It can be scary, but ultimately revealing at the same time.

Are you a naked leader?

Keeping Your Millennial Workforce Happy

Guest post by Faith MacAnas

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One of the key features of the millennial generation is their focus on job satisfaction and life fulfillment is a lot higher than their predecessors. Happier employees have a better and higher quality output; this has made the necessity for employee satisfaction strategies more important than ever. These following examples are just a few areas where adjustments can be made that will motivate your millennial workforce and optimize your business.

• Flexibility

For the first time, young workers are prioritizing their work-life balance over their paycheck. They want to be able to travel, balance their family and social life or pick up side projects. While full remote working conditions are inadvisable, providing some level of flexibility is a great tactic. This offer could come in the form of career breaks or simply the opportunity to work alternate hours from home on occasion.

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    Crisp Technology

Millennials have grown up at the forefront of technology; they have always had the latest editions and expect their technology to be in good working order. Companies that can’t afford the latest pieces now allow staff members to work on their own devices. While this can save money, it does also require ensuring the security of confidential company data on machines that will leave the office. You can guarantee protection by investing in a company-wide Virtual Private Network program for all staff members to use or by creating an internal system where work can be shared exclusively.

    Career Paths

Today’s young workers live in a shaky economy, and they know it. While they worry about the promise of work, they also will quickly jump ship if their jobs don’t appear to provide them with the opportunity to progress. Give your millennial workforce a voice; allow them input into innovation ideas and company policy. Ensure feedback channels are open, and offer opportunities for training courses or department transfers. Show that you are willing to invest in them, and they are much more likely to invest in you and your company.

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    Cash Incentives

If all else fails, then there’s one language everyone speaks: cash. Nothing gets motivation going like the promise of a bonus, and there are none who don’t relish the opportunity to make more money. However, there are both pros and cons to this strategy. If, for example, you set a goal for workers to achieve to secure the bonus, and they do not succeed, it’s possible to disenfranchise them further. It’s wise to set goals that are both realistic and progressive.

Millenials are some of most forward-thinking workers around today. They naturally possess crucial knowledge and hold to the key to the future. If you haven’t already implemented strategies to ensure you keep them motivated and dedicated, then now is the time to start doing so!

About the Author: Faith is a blogger and marketing and strategy expert. She specializes in internet security. She enjoys sharing what she’s learned with other business owners online.

My Achilles Heel As An Entrepreneur

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5 years ago I tore my left Achilles tendon while playing basketball.

Like the stories I heard before, it felt like someone kicked my calf from behind.

When it happened it didn’t hurt, but I knew something was wrong. I remember grabbing my cars keys and limping to the car. It was a 6 month recovery to get back on the basketball court.

Post-recovery I’ve never been scared of re-injuring myself, but I’ve become much more in tune with my body. If my Achilles feels sore, I don’t push my body. I listen to it.

As an entrepreneur, I have a Achilles heel too.

Leaders create a “wake” of relationships built and tasks accomplished. What I realized is the one that means more to me determines the trajectory of my career.

I’ve had my business for almost 10 years now experiencing ups and downs financially. Starting out I was willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. It was my own startup that I was willing to work overtime for and be underpaid purely to build my “brand.”

But being married and 2 kids later my priorities changed. Time became the most important currency and I’d rather spend time with my family than always work hard. In work-life balance terms, I want a separation between the two.

I always believed working a full-time corporate job meant waving the white flag…settling. I did everything I could to avoid it, until about a month ago.

Reluctantly, I took a position at a tech startup because there was “no good reason not to.” Not exactly inspiring stuff, but the truth.

Fast forward to now, I realize it was the right decision.

The side of the wake that matters more to me is: relationships. If it were tasks, I believe I’d never take my current position because I would have already been rich.

What I realized is money is more important than people. Some say that, but my actions validate it.

The thought of a 9-6 was nauseating even a few months ago, but I started listening to my heart.

Not only am I enjoying the work I do (similar to the coaching I’ve been doing), but once I leave the office I leave my work there. That’s something I could never do as a business owner.

Do I still coach? Yes. But around my full-time job.

My Achilles heel as an entrepreneur is my love for connection. It’s much stronger than my desire to sell.

I still love to dream up and implement new ideas, but not at the cost of a steady paycheck and allowing my wife to stay at home with our kids.

I haven’t given up on entrepreneurship.

I just became more in tune with my desired lifestyle.