The Learning Curve Of Acquiring A New Skill

We are all creatures of habit.

No matter how adventurous or a risk taker you are, it’s natural to hover around what’s comfortable.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn and change. In fact in today’s society, you either: adapt or die.

Growth isn’t handed to you, nor should you expect it to be. Instead you are solely responsible for your personal and professional advancement. That doesn’t mean with a new skill set comes a new job or promotion, but you’re either growing forward or going backwards in life.

Throughout my adolescent years I feared public speaking. The climax of my horror was a speech class I took at a community college where we had to video ourselves speaking in front of the class 3 times during the semester then watch and critique it together. That experience still haunts me and for years it made me want to quit.

But in the past several years something changed. My goal isn’t to be Tony Robbins or my good friend Joshua Fredenburg. Yet as an entrepreneur I know it’s crucial to my success to be an effective communicator orally and in written form.

The lightbulb moment for me was to shift my mindset.

If I think I’m a terrible public speaker then it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Therefore the self-talk in my head changed to: I want to be a better public speaker (note: I didn’t say great or best).

That was the first domino to fall…

Next, I needed to put in the practice. In fitness terms: more reps. One habit I started 10 years ago was blogging. At the time I didn’t have a desire to do it, but felt it was necessary for my business so I just started writing. Over time I really began to enjoy it and it’s had a huge influence on how I prepare, deliver and evaluate my public speaking today.

I hosted a monthly network event geared towards professionals for 2 years. I did workshops and training sessions at companies. I volunteered to speak at church every month. What happened over time is I got better. My style, structure and storytelling has improved immensely.

There are areas I can still improve upon, but like acquiring any new skill it takes time to master.

But let me emphasize the most important piece to learning any new skill is your attitude towards it.

With most skills there is a huge learning curve and there will be points where you hit a wall. It’s during those times that you have to step back and evaluate the big picture/purpose. The journey to get better is rough, but if you stick to why you’re doing it and see the value in your effort you’ll eventually get there.

New skills are great tools to accomplish your dreams, but the pre-requisite to starting is your mindset/attitude before you begin.

The Curse Of The Entrepreneur

People who dream about one day owning a business tend to latch on to the potential, nothing else.

There’s nothing wrong with chasing your dreams, but it’s a lot more glamorous than it looks.

Imagine if I told you entrepreneurship includes working longer hours and getting paid less. Sure you can control when you don’t work, but you can’t control when you get paid. Freedom has it’s price tag and for some until you experience it, it’s too much.

But for those who have dipped a toe into the entrepreneur’s pool, there’s one area that’s extremely hard to go back to: having a boss.

I can’t tell you how exhilarating having complete flexibility is. Recently someone told me working a 9 – 6 with benefits isn’t desirable anymore. To each their own, but the tradeoff between time and money is a crucial decision everyone is faced with.

Coming off a 9-month stint at a company makes me appreciate my workdays much more now. It didn’t help I had a micromanager of a boss on top, but I learned a lot about myself during the process.

Things like my optimal working hours are 9 AM – 3 PM, when deciding whether or not to pursue a business idea identifying the market matters most and running a company solo is plain stupid.

Being an entrepreneur is a blessing and a curse. It affords you more control and flexibility, yet loss of structure and a steady paycheck. All the books and articles published that highlight successful ventures represent less than 1% of reality.

There’s no formula to the madness, but valuing your lifestyle over income will push you over the edge.

The funny thing about entrepreneurship is the “what” will change frequently, but as long as your “why” and “how” stay the same you’re fine. If you’re bored at your current job you can do two things: stick it out or look elsewhere. Most choose the former because it’s comfortable, but you’ll know it’s time to move on when it lowers the quality of your life.

Call me crazy, but part of the intrigue of entrepreneurship is the chase. It’s going after something you’re not sure you’ll catch, but willing to take the risk because failure is more acceptable than regret.

The New Marketing Paradigm: Wants, Needs & Expectations

Marketing to customer’s needs is dead. Wants are the new needs.

Wherever lies a successful industry the perceived “need” is really a want.

Take for instance Uber. The average person does own and can afford a car (need), but some prefer not to pay for insurance, repairs, gas, etc. because ride sharing provides convenience (want).

I’ve applied this concept to my new venture, online tutoring. There is a huge market for this due to competitive parents/students. Colleges do take into account SAT/ACT scores and any advantage a parent can give their child is welcomed. Tutors aren’t necessary to get high school students into college, but they do have the inside track on test taking skills. Parents/students want to attend their dream school so hiring a tutor is a leg up on the competition.

Expectations, on the other hand, are determined by experience. Yelp is known as a food review site, but what it actually reveals is the customer experience (CX). Read any Yelp Elite member’s reviews and you’ll learn how the business made them feel. This is key to selling any product/service.

Nike, Apple and Disney all market experiences, a.k.a. how you feel interacting with their brand.

The hospitality industry lives and dies by customer reviews.

Marketing today depends on identifying what your target audience wants, then meeting or surpassing their expectations with a phenomenal experience. That means no matter how technologically savvy your company is, what matters is how “soft” your touch points are.

That doesn’t mean you need a customer service hotline for your mobile app you create, but it does mean when something goes wrong you’ll be judged on the response time and solution offered.

Artificial intelligence, robots and technology make our lives easier, but the need for human connection is at an all-time high.

For your current or future business idea make sure you are meeting a want and exceeding expectations from your customers. Do that and you’ll be converting your marketing investment into sales.

Benefits of Remote Work

The Millennial workforce is working from home more and more. It is a trend that has been growing for years and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. A recent study from Polycom shows that almost a full third of employees around the globe are regularly working remotely, and almost two-thirds have some sort of flexible work schedule. Clearly the concept of the workplace is changing both rapidly and dramatically. The new challenge then becomes: how do you keep your employees connected and engaged as part of a cohesive team? Check out the graphic below for some great solutions on staying connected in a work from home world.


Smart Office Solutions graphic

Smart Office Solutions from Nucleus

With almost 80% of employees working on a team with someone based in a different office, developing inclusive communication strategies and workflows is essential to ensuring your team is up-to-date. Chat apps like Slack or Skype have become essential office tools regardless of whether your employees work remotely or not. Many companies are now using online collaboration apps like Google’s G Suite to increase productivity and coordinate document organization. Hardware can be a great route as well. Installing something like a Nucleus home intercom system in conference rooms can keep workers at home connected and maintain face to face communication.

Millennials Are Lazy, Entitled & High Maintenance

Millennials

If you’re managing Millennials, you might just share these sentiments.

These are the areas I will discuss in the first two workshops at How to Effectively Manage Millennials.

I’ve worked with Millennials for almost 20 years in different capacities so I’ll share my knowledge and experience in understanding the largest generation in the workplace.

Sign up now for individual workshops or the entire series & use promo code “manage” for 25% off!

Hope to see you there!

How Working Remotely Benefits Your Health

Remote-working

Employing remote workers increases the pool of talent for your company. Telecommuting, once thought of as a perk, now levels the playing field.

Theoretically it can pose challenges to management but if done right, supervision shouldn’t vary much. At the heart of managing remote workers is trust. It is literally impossible to micromanage remotely, yet there’s the temptation to in person.

There are several books and online articles that cover managing a remote staff, but few address the benefits health-wise. Here are three ways:

1. Lack of germs – Experiencing the flu can make you a germaphobe, but in a shared workspace it’s almost impossible to avoid the common cold. Working remotely means you’re communicating virtually, but working independently. Not only does the lack of commute save time, but eliminating travel and interaction equates to less trips to the doctor annually.

2. Increased efficiency – Meetings are a waste of time, especially when they’re run poorly. Two brains are better than one, but distractions decrease performance rapidly. No matter how social of a person you are, working alone produces a much higher rate (and usually with less mistakes). With less scheduled interactions, more quality work gets done.

3. Self-leadership – Strip management from the room and there’s a fear of completed tasks. But shouldn’t you be motivated to get stuff done without someone breathing down your neck? As an entrepreneur, the first thing to go is structure when free from the corporate world. Your responsibility is to create order or risk wasting time. A hard lesson to learn initially, self-accountability means you can be trusted.

More and more companies choose to hire remote workers meaning new leadership practices must be implemented. Quality of lifestyle is becoming the most important factor professionally. The more you are informed about the benefits of working remotely, the easier the transition will be to make. Your body, mind and emotions will thank you for it later.

The Introverted Networker

Shy

There’s a belief out there that you have to be an extrovert in order to be an effective networker.

That’s a myth.

While it’s true that extroverts can be great at networking, introverts have their advantages too. Take for instance: listening skills. You and I love to connect with others, but the only way that’s possible is if there’s a discussion. That means someone is talking, while the other one is listening. If you’re talking all the time, you’ll notice people avoid you like the plague. Listen well and people will be drawn to talk to you.

Quality over quantity is a huge factor too. As an introvert, you may not be able to shake 50 hands during an hour meeting, but the 5 or less people you do meet you’ll probably remember how to follow-up with them. Consider using network events as a way to meet people, then grab coffee or schedule a phone call with them afterwards. Networking is a numbers game. Extroverts are better at meeting a lot of people at once. Introverts are better at getting to know a small amount of people at a time.

Only 7% of communication is done through words. The other 93% is shared between tone and body language. Introverts tend to be more intuitive so they pick up on non-verbal cues and intonation. Since interpreting communication requires observation and reading beneath what’s said, people feel valued when they are “heard” correctly. Knowing this, if you’re an introvert and have avoided networking up to this point because you didn’t feel like you’re “talkative” enough, stop making excuses.

It’s about who you know, not what you know, so if you’re not meeting new and maintaining old relationships, you’re getting behind!

How to S.C.A.L.E. your Business

Coming up with a business idea is easy, executing it is hard.

There’s a big difference between “doing what you love” and creating a business that makes money.

Sure, you should choose something you have a vested interest in, but you need a sales/marketing strategy to go along with it before you launch.

built to sell, scale your business, automate systems, delegate tasks, lifestyle entrepreneur, shark tank, investor, angel fund

For example, I love coaching, but that alone is NOT going to pay the bills. I evaluate different opportunities now based on the income potential. Is my motivation to be filthy rich? No. But I want to provide for my family and have my business ventures support my lifestyle. So here is an acronym to help you judge your next idea against:

Sell your strengths – Do what you know and are great at. Don’t try to do everything well. That only disrupts your focus and dilutes your efforts. Figure out what you’re best at and stick there.

Collaborate – Nothing great is accomplished alone. The bigger the dream, the more help you’ll need. Network like your life depends on it. Offer value to others, but don’t keep “score.” Say yes to most partnerships at first. Learn from others who have done it before.

Automate – Figure out how to get yourself out of your business. That means aim to put it on auto-pilot and let it run itself. Most people’e egos won’t let them NOT micromanage, but if you truly want something to grow, you have to give up full control. It doesn’t mean you won’t be involved, but it does mean you won’t be involved in every little detail anymore. Trust good people and systems to do what you can’t.

Lifestyle – Your business doesn’t need to be your life, unless you want it to be. Have your business support your lifestyle, not the other way around. If you plan that way, you’ll have a life and the time to spend it the way you want. That’s the best part about being a lifestyle entrepreneur: the freedom and flexibility of schedule.

Efficiency – Time is the currency that is given equally to all. Use it wisely. Along with selling your strengths, collaborating and automating you want to spend your time and effort on what gives you the best ROI. Being busy for busy’s sake is just plain dumb. A rocking chair makes a lot of movement, but doesn’t go anywhere. As someone who is obsessed with efficiency, work smarter, not harder.

If you measure your business effort against S.C.A.L.E., you should be able to select a project that is both worthwhile and profitable. I hope this is helpful and I’d love to hear what you’re working on. Please comment below!

University of Convenience

In the age of information, content is plentiful (not always important, but still readily available).

If you look at the rise of online education as an example, times are changing. Not only are University degrees not as prestigious anymore, but it also doesn’t guarantee you work like it did in the past.

udemy, online course, online education, online university, ipad, expert, credibility

Welcome to the DIY age where anything AND everything can be learned through doing a Google search.

Ease and convenience has become such a commodity that credibility isn’t as scrutinized.

Both as an entrepreneur and a consumer that means unlimited options. Not only can you enjoy instruction from the comfort of your home, but you can also get paid without being “live.”

Here are some examples:

  • Instead of attending a live event, you can watch a webinar at your kitchen table.
  • Why enroll in a college course, when you can get the same, if not better information on platforms like Udemy?
  • Marketing degrees can be outdated, but if you follow the best online marketing blogs their advice is priceless.

Technology has changed the way we learn, so now you have more choices. No longer do you have to pay to add some letters behind your name to be known as an expert. Credibility is earned through follower-ship, not credentials.

Your story and experiences are your foundation to helping others learn something you’ve gone through.

So get current and figure out how you can assist others…while sitting on the couch.

Why You Shouldn’t be a Leader

Nowadays “leader” is a term thrown around too loosely. I come from the school of thought that leaders are born, not made. That doesn’t mean a leader can’t be developed. I just don’t think anyone can be a leader just by acquiring the skills. Whether you agree or disagree, hear out my reasoning behind this theory:

leadership is hard walk the plank pirate

Potential – Leaders are born into this world with intangible qualities that attract others to follow them. I’ve seen it on the playground as early as 2 years old. It’s not something they’re trying to do. It just comes out. When you were young, were others attracted to follow you?

Responsibility – Everyone loves to get praise when things go right, but can you handle the blame when things go wrong and it may not even be your fault? Leaders take ownership for poor results by themselves or others under their supervision. Being a leader isn’t as glamorous as advertised. It’s about deflecting the praise towards others and shouldering the burden when people are complaining. Are you willing to take the fall, under your watch, even if you’re right?

Profile – Leaders usually aren’t the outspoken, extroverts that the media portrays them to be. They’re usually the quiet, soft spoken ones who do things “under the radar.” Leaders don’t purposely seek attention. If it comes their way, fine, but it’s not something they desire. Leaders earn the respect of others by their example of consistent behavior(s). Do you “fit” the profile of a leader?

Results – One of the most important traits of a leader is the “fruit” of their labor. By definition, leadership is getting things done through people. One part task. One part relationship. Leadership is about what you’ve accomplished with and through the efforts from others. It’s like a personal resume of achievements over time. Do you have the “resume” of a leader? 

Confidence – Leaders don’t need the title of leader, they’re voluntarily given it by others. If you’re driven to lead by your ego, you’re going about it wrong. Leaders are confident, but not arrogant. Confidence is usually based on past successes, but a leader has an inner confidence that isn’t shaken easily by circumstances. Everyone loves “strokes,” but leaders don’t need them. Is your confidence level unflappable, even during scrutiny? 

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, consider this a realization. Everyone isn’t cracked up to be a leader. In fact it’s better that way. If there are too many leaders on a team, nothing gets done. Leaders are invaluable, but that doesn’t mean you need to be one. In my opinion, the best leaders aren’t the most dynamic, but they are great at developing the people around them. So by this definition, are you a leader?