FLASHPOINTS: Catch Me If You Can…

BAG Screen shot 062414 (1)Don’t play Follow The Leader;  instead, play Catch Me If You Can.

When playing in the big leagues of business, it can be a challenging to walk among the shadows of industry titans. Sometimes, it seems we’re forced to follow in their footsteps and do as they do to improve awareness and market share of our product or service. We’re often tempted to take action by following a similar path, releasing a similar product, or even running a similar marketing campaign—because, hey, if it worked for them, it should work for us, right? Wrong! This is where practicing innovation will set us on our own path to living a life of significance. Focus less on competing, and more on collaborating—and do things your way. Are you playing Follow The Leader or Catch Me If You Can?

 

FLASHPOINTS: Play Is More Fun Than Work!

BAG Screen shot 061714Play is more fun than work!

I read somewhere that by the age of twenty one, the average millennial will have spent 10,000 hours playing video games … for us older folks, we shout in glorious victory when we get in the fastest moving checkout line! Why? We all enjoy the challenge and the reward of competition. According to game designer Jane McGonigal, the positive traits that gamers develop include: the drive for productivity, “urgent optimism” and the ability to “weave a tight social fabric.” Sounds like great attributes for any high-functioning team!  And so enters the concept of gamification: since gaming is here to stay, doesn’t it make sense that we apply the dynamics of a game to a non-game environment to reap the benefits of increased stimulation? How can you apply gamification to your team?

FLASHPOINTS: How Will History Define Your Leadership Legacy?

BAG Screen shot 061014Make your life about the other people in it.

At the core of many great leaders throughout history is the concept of servant leadership. This concept encourages leaders to lead by being of service to their team members. When our role exists to be of service to others by supporting and developing them, we bring out the best in those on our team … and team member gratitude, productivity and loyalty skyrocket as a result. As an added bonus, it’s absolutely rewarding to see folks move closer to their fullest potential while in our charge. When contemplating the leadership strategies we hope to deploy, its helpful to think of leaders we admire most: what qualities, traits and values do/did they possess? How will history define your leadership legacy?

 

FLASHPOINTS: Stop, Drop…and Reflect?

BAG Screen shot 060314

When on fire, we know to stop, drop, and roll. In life, we must stop, drop, and reflect.

Reflection could be the most underrated resource in our lives, businesses, and projects. It may not take much time to “take five” to quiet our minds and unwind after a stressful day or interaction or to ask our clients and stakeholders how things are going, but it does take effort. It’s easy to postpone this critical task, instead focusing on the urgent matters that vie for our attention. Regular reflection and introspection, however, provides the opportunity to fine-tune our thoughts, communications, relationships, products and services, which leads to increased confidence that our efforts are bringing value to those we love and serve. The only thing worse than being misunderstood or missing the mark is not even knowing it. What project or area of your life requires additional reflection and introspection?

FLASHPOINTS: Turn Your Weakness Into a Motivator!

BAG Screen shot 052714Our weakness can improve our strengths, if we use it in the right way.

Ah, the shellacking we give ourselves for procrastination. Those times when we give in to weakness and wasted precious time. It’s Facebook, Twitter, or the latest gaming forums or business blogs … whatever thief we allow to steal our time. How can we actually take advantage of this weakness? By turning it into a reward system! We can treat ourselves to engaging in this activity when we’ve completed a certain portion of our to-do list. Take an unpleasant task that cannot be deferred, give it your full attention for a solid hour, then reward yourself with the guilty pleasure of 15 minutes of procrastination! Giving ourselves permission to indulge can work to our advantage if we use it judiciously. How can you turn your weakness into a motivator?

 

FLASHPOINTS: Good For the Goose?

BAG Screen shot 052014What’s good for the goose may NOT be good for the gander.

In life, everything is relative to our personal goals and experiences … a small expense for some might be totally extravagant for others. Except it really isn’t about the expense—it’s about the value of the resulting experience. The same is true when taking action to achieve our goals. What might be bold and reckless for some might be baby steps for others. The resulting experience that the action can produce, how deep the desire is and the potential value gained are what will drive us forward, no matter how much our ego gets battered and bloodied. One thing’s for sure: if what drives us to take daily action is something worth fighting for, the fight becomes much easier. Can you articulate the value of what you’re fighting for?

FLASHPOINTS: What Are YOU Doing?!

BAG Screen shot 051314What are you doing?!

No matter what we do, whether starting a business, keeping a job, volunteering, running the local marathon or for public office, people will judge our motivations. Here’s the good news: their opinions don’t mean squat. Some things we do out of love … other things, to sustain a lifestyle. When we live with intentionality, we get the chance to change the world and earn a comfortable living while doing it. What matters is being honest with ourselves about our motivations, because eventually they’ll be obvious to everyone else, too. Why not start being truthful about them right here, right now? Do you measure your impact in dollars, accomplishments, or testimonials from others? Are you driven by ego, revenge and cash, or legacy and changed lives? Why do you do what you do?

 

 

Must Haves for Mompreneuers (and any start-up, for that matter).

Being a small business owner is both rewarding and challenging. It can be a balancing act between work and family. It can also be a financial challenge.

Here’s a list of top tools to consider for launching your small business or entrepreneurial start-up:

  1. Daycare or family care. Too often we postpone business success because we simply can’t juggle all our responsibilities.  The truth is we need to make a commitment to get help with caring for children, and perhaps enlisting the help of a part time housekeeper to do laundry and dusting, or an assistant to run errands so that we can get a few hours a day to focus on our business.  It’ll take some sacrifice, but it’s time to treat your business like a business, not a hobby.
  2. Ringcentral.com; Phonetag.com; Grasshopper.com.  Get a dedicated phone line and answering services/voicemail for your business use.  If a potential client calls at 6pm, better it goes to your automated phone attendant and voicemail than to hear dinner dishes clanging and dogs barking because you thought it was your mother-in-law calling.
  3. Dedicated workspace.  Even if it’s a corner in the garage, basement or tool shed behind the house, create a workspace that is yours.  Keep it organized and make it inspiring.  You’ll be more productive and feel a greater sense of accomplishment when you tell yourself you’re going to your office, than sitting at the kitchen table among the dirty dishes.
  4. HARO. If you can’t afford a publicist or public relations firm, Helpareporter.com is a must have for any business start-up. Subscribers receive a dozen, or more, queries each day about possible media opportunities. It’s free and it just takes a few minutes to see if a query is a good match for your business.
  5. Supportive spouse/significant-other.  Do we really need to go in to detail with this?
  6. Smart phone.  You’ll need to juggle web browsing, email, and calendars anywhere and at anytime.  iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and other smart phones will multiply your productivity and actually provide some freedom away from the home office.
  7. A good accountant.  Get one right away!  Don’t get trapped into thinking your can do it yourself.  They can offer insight and savings to areas you had no idea existed. A good accountant will make you money in the form of savings and avoiding costly mistakes. They’ll also lend credibility as you can refer to them as part of your team.
  8. Social networks.  Build your brand (whether that’s you or your business) on platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Consumers and clients want to have a connection to the companies they buy from.

 

FLASHPOINTS: What Voices Are You Listening To?

BAG Screen shot 050614Fools tell friends what they want to hear. Mentors tell achievers what they need to hear.

From solopreneurs to industry titans, we all struggle with the tug of time that leaves little margin to find a mentor. It’s easier than ever, however, to identify coaching programs that fit every budget and season of our lives. A simple internet search reveals business personalities, websites and blogs of every ilk dedicated to inspire success seekers with their programs, systems and strategies. Don’t be fooled, however, by those salesy shysters who have a “system” to create wealth or success overnight … check references and do your homework! While it might take some time to find the appropriate mentor to join us on our journey, the time and heartache he or she will save us is worth its weight in … success. What voices are you listening to?

FLASHPOINTS: Describe Yourself In 3 Words…

BAG Screen shot 042914Describe yourself in three words … go!

It’s a common question when you’re writing your bio, interviewing, or entering a competition—but no matter how many times the question is asked, the answer never seems to come any easier. It’s just three words, but for some reason, it’s difficult to commit to writing them down. When listing your three words, you’ll likely realize a couple of things: (1) they change all the time, and (2) we can reinvent ourselves as whomever we want and whenever we want, as often as every single day. They’re just words on a page, but we can turn them into actions and make them part of who we really are. What will be your three words today?