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?

Words of Wisdom

4_29_14 WOWif you’re looking for a new outlook or outcome in life, try thing on for size: serve others.” 

– Larry Broughton 

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?

I’m Famous! Well, Almost Famous… (Part 2)

In the last issue of the newsletter, I shared the potential power of – and some of the benefits that busy professionals can derive from – strategic social media use. I realize there may still be some doubters out there, so let me preface the continuation of these thoughts with the following “prime directive” (that’s for you Star Trek fans out there):

Failure to strategically embrace effective social media will virtually guarantee irrelevancy within the next 3-5 years.

While this may sound like a pretty bold statement, it’s happening already…

Tech-savvy start-ups and “early adopter” mature companies are running rings around the competition by connecting directly with clients, customers, prospects, team members, and the press. They by-pass more traditional advertising channels to create deeper, more relevant relationships while leveraging the enormous social media potential in the areas of brand management, product launches, customer service and many others.

Why is this so critical?

The level of “white noise” today is deafening and the majority of promotional messages are simply ignored…lost in the never-ending avalanche of information that bombards us each day.

Only by rising above the appeals to logic at the intellectual level and creating emotional connection on a more intimate, genuine, and transparent level can you break through the “white noise barrier” and make yourself heard to colleagues, team members, clients, customers and prospects.

Unfortunately, many business social media neophytes badly miss the mark when diving into social media, because they treat it like a traditional promotional tool, get predictable results and then start bad-mouthing social media. Don’t be one of them!

Here are three strategies you can implement immediately to more effectively use social media:

1) Strategic Focus:
Before diving into the oft-times treacherous social media waters, spend some time focusing on your strategic goal(s). What are you trying to accomplish? Who are you trying to connect with (and why)? What information are you trying to impart? How do you want to engage people? Most busy professionals never bother with this crucial first step and just dive headlong into the social media pond. This article and Slideshare presentation have some great information on how to develop your strategic focus: Social Media Strategy in 7 Steps

2) Time Focus:
Social media can be a GIANT time suck…especially for those of us that are members of the “Bright, Shiny Object Club!” If your a newbie, please follow the 2 – 20 – 2 Rule: No more than 2 social media platforms for no longer than 20 minutes no more than 2 times per day. Otherwise, it’s too easy to burn up too many unproductive hours in social media surfing. Consider using tools like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck that allow you to enter an update, comment, link or other information in one place and have it be instantly transmitted across most of the popular social media platforms.

3) Build Your KLT Factor:
People do business with people they know, like and trust (the KLT). Done right, social media can be a great conduit for increasing your KLT Factor and you accomplish this by being genuine, transparent, and service-oriented. Don’t be afraid to share a bit about hobbies & interests you have…it humanizes you and can create more meaningful interactions. Don’t use social media as a constant “pitch-fest” or to bludgeon people over the head with solicitations to buy your products or engage your company’s services. That gets real old, real fast! Instead, focus on providing useful, relevant information and endeavor to truly be of service to people. As your KLT Factor grows, those that are a good fit will organically seek you out. A good formula for social media communication is content – content – content – testimonial/success story – service/product offer. In short, earn the right to be heard and you will find easy to cut through the “white noise.”

Here are a few of my favorite social media resources:

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Social Media Marketing (2nd Edition) by Jennifer Abernathy.
This is a great book for social media beginners and veterans alike. Jennifer does a great job taking you step-by-step through building a winning social media marketing approach that makes sense (plus she’s a really cool chick).

Social Media Examiner.
My favorite site to staying up-to-date on social media marketing trends.

Beginner’s Guide to Social Media for Business.
This is a great book for Great Slideshare presentation for CEOs, executives and business owners.

I’m Famous! Well, Almost Famous… (Part 1)

Remember the old “6 Degrees of Separation” rule…built around the hypothesis that you are only six connections away from virtually everyone else on earth?
Well…it’s time to consign that rule to the dustbin of history along with the VCR, the Pontiac brand, and the comb-over (really, guys, just go bald…please).  With the explosion of social media platforms over the last 3-4 years, the new rule is “2 Degrees of Separation.”

Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Klout and Pinterest have radically altered our ability to connect, engage, interact and build relationships with people – both personally and professionally.  They have also introduced a new – and often confusing – communication protocol and rule set that can be VERY intimidating to the uninitiated.

Unfortunately, many business owners and professionals treat social media with a curious combination of trepidation and thinly-veiled contempt.  I am consistently amazed by how many otherwise smart & savvy folks treat these powerful new connection tools as a passing fad.

What should they do instead?  Invest a bit of time and brainpower to explore how they can leverage appropriate tools to improve their business, improve upward mobility within their organization, and even their lives.

Allow me to share a quick personal example (or two)….

I’ve made the strategic decision to focus on Linked In and Facebook in my professional life.  I am by no means a “power-user” – but I have taken the time to become moderately proficient with both mediums over the last several years.

I am currently connected with 786 people on Linked In (affectionately known as “Facebook for Adults”).  Those contacts place me 1 or 2 introductions from over 10.3 million other professionals.  This network has enabled me to engage directly with numerous business thought-leaders, fellow authors, and a minor host of famous people.

I have landed dozens of speaking gigs, business opportunities and client engagements as a direct result of mindful social networking.  In addition, I am currently one introduction from a trusted source away from such “minor” luminaries as:

  • Sir Richard Branson
  • Paul Allen (the “Other Microsoft Guy”)
  • Donald Trump
  • Mark Burnett (Producer of “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race”)
  • Dozens of others

Best of all, the power of social networking provides the opportunity to reach every one of these “movers and shakers” without having to fight through the legions of handlers and roadblocks encountered using more traditional methods.

So, does all this make me famous?  Not by a long shot…

That said, one of my business connections and I are getting ready to pitch a reality TV pilot to Mark Burnett and – thanks to the power of social media – he will take our call when we’re ready!

Make sure to tune into the next blog posting tomorrow for Part 2, where we will discuss 3 critical strategies busy professionals can implement immediately to leverage the benefits of social media, along with a resource guide for the “social media challenged!”


Words of Wisdom

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“a sense of mission trumps ambition.”

– Larry Broughton

FLASHPOINTS: The F-Word…Failure

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Forgiveness starts with the most important person: YOURSELF

Having an exceptional life comes with a boatload of decision-making and risk-taking. Sometimes outcomes don’t match expectations, which leads to that dreaded F-word: FAILURE. And as people who take responsibility for our own actions, we’re often quick to point the finger and lay blame on the same person over and over: ourselves. Dwelling on these negative experiences doesn’t make them any less so—in fact, quite the opposite. Yet ignoring failures is also a mistake—we must embrace them, learn, and move on. Most importantly, we must forgive ourselves and let go of the negativity. So, next time the mental blame-game starts, we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves; we’re all only human, after all. How can you embrace your humanity and cut yourself a break?

FAILURE: It’s Not Just For Losers Anymore

Let me start with a somewhat provocative statement: If You’re Not FAILING, You’re Not Moving Far Enough or Fast Enough Towards Your FULLEST POTENTIAL!

Too many so-called self-help, human-potential, self-improvement gurus out there lie to us forget to tell us that reaching for our goals, and achieving success is flipping hard work! All we need to do is give them our 3 easy payments of $69, and all our dreams will be realized! BULL! Please believe this: there is no free ride, no easy path, no quick fix, and no shortcuts to enduring success.

If attaining business success is so easy, why aren’t more people considered successful (both by their own standards, and the outside world)? The truth is, we’ve been sold a sack of crap bill of goods by most of the success charlatans out there. Many of them have never actually run a successful business! Frankly, they’ve made more money by peddling the “products” they’ve developed (books, CDs, etc.) than they have by actually using the “principles” and “techniques” in a legitimate business.

Here is the TRUTH: like anything else in life that’s difficult, when you first try it, YOU’RE GONNA FAIL…you’ll make mistakes…you’ll get frustrated…and you’ll want to quit. Think of anything new or foreign that you’ve tried for the first time as an adult (perhaps a new instrument, sport, or language)…were you an immediate expert, or did you fumble around for a while?

We’ve ALL had setbacks and failures. We can whine, moan, feel sorry for ourselves, and blame others, or we can get ourselves a nice, tall, refreshing glass of “suck-it-up” juice! When we fall short, when we fail, we MUST get up and put one bloody, dusty boot in front of the other and drive on towards our potential…towards success.

I once heard that the most beautiful gift from God is our potential! That’s a powerful statement. It strikes me that among the saddest things about life are the graveyards around world filled with unmet potential. Why? Because most of those people never took action to activate or realize their potential—or they simply gave up before ever reaching their potential.

Failure does not define you—it refines you. Your response to failure, defines you. Never, Never, Never Quit.

Now, go get ‘em!


Words Of Wisdom

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“all good things begin as a daydream.” 

– Larry Broughton


FLASHPOINTS: What The Antidote?

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It ain’t obstacles that stand in our way; it simply comes down to you and me.

Yes, the only thing standing between us and our goals is us, and it comes down to action. Sadly, knowing this and feeling inspired to take determined action can be miles apart. We can, however, start to bridge that gap by working a little smarter and contributing a little more to get things done. But sometimes, the extra pressure can bog us down, like we’ve been bitten by the paralysis bug. So, what’s the antidote? Flexibility. Reflect, reassess, and ask: Does it really need to be done now? What are the odds of actually getting it done now? What will the consequence or reward be as a result? And how can planning be improved next time? Which of your goals truly need more of you, and which just need revising?