Category Archives: Lessons Learned

Rekindled Friendship: Steven Covey

Years ago, I sat through an 8-hour Franklin-Covey course designed to help me manage my time better. It worked and I’ve been using that system ever since. In preparation for that class, I had to read the entire 7 Habits book. It has been a very effective tool in my life, even though I haven’t visited with it since.

This week I had the opportunity to review the book in a summary format. I couldn’t get enough of the article. It took me three days to get through it and my notes are extensive. This time, with about 13 years of experience under my belt since the last time we met, I would like to take each habit and work on them individually, incorporating the advice given in Mastery. While realizing that I won’t perfect these habits in this life, keeping them in my memory and bringing them more into focus within my daily activities will help me to get closer to perfecting them.

The one that stood out to me the most, and the one I’m going to work on first, is the first one: Be proactive. I didn’t choose this one purely because it’s first. This one resonated with me and with some of the things I have going on right now. I’ve lost a lot of the skill that comes with this habit and it’s past time to start practicing again. I’ll start with this quote:

“Being proactive doesn’t mean being pushy, aggressive or insensitive. Rather, proactivity means to control a situation from the inside out. Or in other words, to affect positive change, stop focusing on the immediate circumstances and instead consider your response to the conditions that exist. … We are free to choose our response to any situation…”

I haven’t been doing a very good job of choosing my response. Instead I’ve been allowing myself to react to things without taking control of my own situation. It’s time to change that. I cannot and will not grow until I do.

Binny Lane, Week 3

Wow.

The sales came. And they came fast. Much faster than I expected.

Within the first 20 minutes of posting on Facebook what I was trying to do, I had a few orders for cookies, one for a cheesecake, and a couple for the pudding cakes.

We spent a lot of time baking and I found myself wondering how anybody makes any money doing that.

And then, while I’m writing this, I got my first cancellation.

But, the thing I feel I learned this week is that it can happen. With the right messaging and the right contacts, it can happen. The business I want to create is possible. It’s possible. It can happen.

And I can make it happen.

Before the cancellation, I had all the profit I needed. I even had a spreadsheet showing the costs for each dozen cookies, each cheesecake and each pudding cake. I figured out, on my own, how to track that information. I kept receipts, logged costs for ingredients, and baked my little heart out.

And made a profit.

Not enough to pay myself with, but a profit nonetheless. (I know I’m donating the profits, but hypothetically, I didn’t make enough to have paid myself anything for all the effort.)

I can do this! No lesson is more valuable, to me, than that.

Don’t Be THAT Guy

You know what guy I’m talking about. The guy that thinks he’s better than everyone else. The guy that doesn’t watch the tapes, listen to himself, or pay attention to anyone else. He’s so wrapped up in his own awesomeness that he can’t see anything outside of his stardom.

im awesome 2

THAT guy.

im awesome

Or that guy.

Either way, being that guy will blind you from these guys coming right at ya.And when those guys hit you, because they will, if you’re not ready because you weren’t paying attention, you will get destroyed.

Personal Injury

The moral of the story: Pay attention to your competition. They’re paying attention to you and they’re trying to get ahead of you. They’re trying to steal your business. If you become complacent, they will succeed. Keep your customers happy and don’t be THAT guy.

 

Freedom!

In the article “Are Successful Entrepreneurs Born or Made?” Jeff Sandefer talks about an experience he had when trying to find out what it was that made an entrepreneur successful. Was it skill, character or luck?

There were a couple of quotes from the article that I’ve added to the Quotes to Keep page, but I also wanted to elaborate on them a little bit.

The first, and my personal favorite, was “It is adding value to the lives of customers and employees that builds great businesses.” If what you sell or if the service you provide adds value to someone’s life, that’s great. What’s more important is that you take that value very seriously. It should matter as much to you as it does to them.

I know a girl who has started many different business and hasn’t been super successful in any of them. The reason is that, even though the services she has offered ┬áhave added value to others’ lives, she didn’t care as much about that value as she did about how much they would pay her for it. Not only should your product or service add value, but you need to recognize and acknowledge that value. It should mean as much to you as it does to them.

The second quote I liked was “Entrepreneurial success isn’t about money; it’s about freedom. The goal isn’t to make more than you need, it’s to spend less than you make. Because that way your free time belongs to you.”

When we go into business to help others and truly add value to their lives, our lives are enriched in the process. Touching peoples lives and making them better helps us to appreciate our own time and use our free time wisely. It’s not about the money we make but about the difference we make instead. It’s about having the freedom to be able to make that difference.

Why Not?

In one of the videos I watched for one of my classes this week, Peter Diamandis said something I’ve been saying in my head for weeks now. (Sometimes it feels really good to be validated.) He said,

“You have to believe in yourself and what you’re doing passionately enough that you’re willing to give this person the opportunity to help you or to be involved.”

Remember why you decided to do this in the first place. What was the reason why you wanted to have your own business? Is it because you wanted to make a difference? How passionate about that difference are you? We need to be passionate enough about the difference we want to make, or the legacy we want to leave, to be able to look at it like an opportunity for others as well.

Believe in what you’re doing. Treat it as though it’s a dream and you’re allowing others to come along on this incredible journey with you. Then go out there and work like you’re making others’ dreams come true. Because you are. And in the process, yours will come true too.

Brainstorming

When I have my own company, one of the first things I want to do is brainstorm with my team. I want everyone to feel as though their ideas and opinions matter. It doesn’t mean that we’ll always be able to make everyone’s ideas turn into something tangible, but we will at least be able to feel as though we’re all important.

While doing an assignment for one of my classes this week, the following image came to mind. This is a great way to start a brainstorming session with a team. I’m putting it here so I’ll have it to come back to later.

A brainstorm of a brainstorm

Light Bulb #2

I had a bit of an epiphany today when reading in chapter 3 of The E-Myth Revisited.

“The purpose of going into business is to get free of a job so you can create jobs for other people.”

lightbulb

True entrepreneurs understand this and THAT is why they go into business for themselves. THAT is what I want to do. What type of business it is doesn’t matter because I won’t have time to do much of it anyway.

Thinking back to my assets (see chapter 2 in The Start-Up Of You), when I sat down and thought through them, most of them were about helping others. I know how to teach, share, help and serve. I can do that for customers, AND I can do that for employees.

I want to start my own business to give myself an outlet for teaching others what I know and helping them find out who they are.

I don’t think I’m saying exactly what I mean, but I’m not sure how else to say it.

I want to create a place with a work environment that encourages creativity, innovation, and a learning spirit. I want it to be a place where others want to come to work; where we can enjoy each other and learn together. I don’t want to do all of the work – I want to help others learn to do things I already can.

Take It Home

In chapter three of The Ministry of Business, the point is made that taking work home with us isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, it’s suggested that by sharing what happens at work with our spouse, we can create a strong partnership with them in all aspects of our lives.

“By allowing your spouse to become involved with your business affairs, contributing ideas and providing feedback, praise, and constructive criticism, you create a constant support system for one another. This will deepen the affection you feel for each other, and will help establish a unique equality that can’t be achieved in any other way.”

I truly believe this principle to be true. ┬áMy husband and I always take time at the end of the day to talk about what happened at work. In doing so, I’ve learned some valuable lessons regarding IT related stuff (my IT department tells me I know just enough to be dangerous) and I believe he has learned a few communication techniques from me. Because we are able to talk, freely, about our feelings, attitudes, responses, questions, and overall positions within our work places, we’ve grown closer together.

One of the most powerful things I’ve learned is that he will never teach me all that he knows. Not because he can’t, but because there simply isn’t time. Knowing that there are things he knows and I don’t helps me to respect his opinions, actions and responses so much better. Instead of instant reaction, I’ve learned that he’s acting on what he knows. Maybe he knows something I don’t. That opportunity – the opportunity to ask him what he knows that I’m missing – has helped strengthen our relationship in ways I didn’t know was possible.

Light Bulb #1

As I was reading Jeffery A. Thompson’s article “What Is Your Calling in Life?” I got to a spot that turned on a light bulb in my head. He said:

“…finding your calling in life may not be a matter of finding the one right job. Instead, it may be that your calling is to bring your unique spiritual gifts to whatever position the Lord blesses you with.”

lightbulb

One of the things I’ve struggled with over the years as I’ve tried to find my “calling” is that the skills and spiritual gifts I’ve been blessed with aren’t … marketable. I can’t think of another word to use there. Maybe it will come as I continue.

One of the skills I’ve been blessed with, is the ability to understand the feelings of others. While that comes in handy at home and when dealing with coworkers, it’s not something that I could start a business with (unless I took decades of school classes and potentially earned a degree in psychology, which doesn’t interest me at all).

Thompson actually summed me up pretty nicely in the paragraph right before the one containing the quote above.

“Other types of gifts that you may notice in yourself include the ability to praise others effectively, to identify and encourage others’ talents, to organize information in a concise manner…”

Those are the things I’m good at, the things I truly enjoy. How do I make those things work for me in a way in which I can still help to support my family?

His next paragraph summarizes how I used to feel at the job I currently have. I know God’s hand was in how I got to where I am. It’s a long story, but suffice it to say that, without personally appearing to me and walking me into the office for an interview, God showed me the path to where I am.

That was five years ago. I’m now feeling like it’s time for a change, but I can’t tell if it’s a change in venue or a change in attitude. I can’t tell if it’s a change in responsibility or a change in location. Or if it’s a change within me that has stunted my abilities to continue to expand my gifts.

Perhaps, as he suggests, if I “exercise faith in the Lord, follow His spirit, and seek to amplify [my] gifts” I will be able to discern the change I feel and figure out the direction I’m intended to go.

Instead Of…

5 tips for staying in business:

  1. Listen to your customers. They will tell you what they want and if you pay attention and respond to their requests, you’ll keep selling.
  2. Pay attention to the competition. If you want to be the best, you have to be better. Saying it isn’t enough.
  3. Keep your eyes and ears open for new techniques and practices.
  4. Take care of your employees. Treat people right.
  5. Stay flexible and responsive to market changes.

Developed from the “instead of’s” on page 15 of The Start-up Of You.