At the bottom of an email or in a framed statement on a conference room wall, companies often have their mission statement and values. Such statements might read:
Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles, or moral uprightness. It is a personal choice to hold one's self to consistent standards. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrity]
I think the second part of this definition is the most critical: It is a personal choice to hold one's self to consistent standards. And taking it a step further -- Do our actions line up with our commitments or what we profess our commitments to be?
Integrity is often related to as a moral principle i.e. you're good if you have integrity and bad if you don't. Or you're right if you do what you say you'll do, and wrong or bad if you don't. But human beings are imperfect by nature. No one has 100% integrity all the time. It's just not possible.
So how do we have our professed mission and values mean anything or how do we have them be a living conversation in the organization?
First of all, it is important that they are in writing.
Once you've written them, this is where you want to look:
How do our actions, practices and behaviors line up with these principles?
This needs to be a daily practice and not an after-thought once you've finished your to-do list.
Some suggestions how to approach this:
Pick one principle a week with your staff and bring examples of where you fulfilled on that and where you fell short. [Remember that doesn't mean you're good if you fulfilled on it and a bad person if you didn't]. You just want examples. You want everyone looking for examples, consistencies and inconsistencies. This has the principle begin to be real and come alive in the organization. It starts to be a principle that shapes action vs. a static, pat phrase. But that only happens with a dialogue about it, an on-going dialogue. Tell one on yourself as a leader. Give an example of where your actions are inconsistent with your principles. That creates safety and vulnerability for everyone else to do the same. It demonstrates that you're human, too. It validates that we're all learning to be better people and employees together.
If you'd like to learn how to better have your company mission live across all parts of your organization, please schedule some time here. Your mission, principles and values are critical to your business success, talent hiring and retention, employee satisfaction and customer fulfillment. If you can learn to leverage them and have them live in your organization, the results will surprise you [in a good way!]
To your success and fulfillment,
One theme I notice in my conversations with my clients is the abundance of negative self talk we can all engage in.
As a solo business owner, I notice for myself that I may miss what I've accomplished and notice what I haven't. I'm on a current learning curve on multiple dimensions of my life: moving across the country, trying to figure out East Coast weather and Nor'Easters [as they say here: "If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes], and going all virtual in my client work to name a few. The virtual part is a big change for me that I hadn't anticipated how significant it would be. I like being around people!!!! So there's learning for me about getting out of my house, where to engage in a new community and seeing what gives me my people fix.
Sometimes I blow it . . . "That was WAY too long in my house by myself!' Then I adjust and take some different actions. Did I mention living on an island without a car??? [and that it's a bit nippy outside?]
Bringing compassion to ourselves as we learn really helps -- and most of us aren't very proficient at that.
Establishing a practice to notice what we're accomplishing is important -- as is not judging yourself when something doesn't happen the way we thought it should. Talking with others helps, too -- a coach, a colleague, or a friend.
Often business owners want to replicate themselves, grow their business and produce more results in the business through others vs. doing it all themselves. But they can be challenged in seeing and owning the gold inside of them. What they do and how they think is so natural and normal to them that they think everyone else thinks like they do, and are surprised when they don't. They don't know how to pass on that knowledge and awareness to others.
But if you can't articulate it, your employees or staff won't read your mind and won't be able to support you in the way you're hoping.
I thought this article had some great suggestions along these lines:
If you'd like to better acknowledge and own your accomplishments and those of others' to grow your business, please schedule some time here. This time of year is a perfect time to look back over the year to mine for the gold.
I'm in love with paint right now.
My goals aren't very lofty when it comes to painting this cottage right now: make it look better.
This isn't about the perfect color selection. And it's not about perfect edges or complete uniform coverage. Just let's get it passable and looking not gross. So I can have visitors. And my house guests aren't looking for the emergency exit.
Someone else going to Ace Hardware might be an interior designer finding the perfect color for a client, or a home owner remodeling a dream kitchen, or a person wanting to spice up a room. We all have different goals and intentions when we are looking to buy something.
Every customer, client, colleague or employee has different goal(s) or intention(s) when they talk with you.
The questions is: Do you listen long enough to others to know what that intention or goal is? Do you treat people as individuals with a variety of aspirations?
Everyone is motivated by different things.
Listening for people's concerns, without judgement, can:
To your success,
Do you have a picture or card that you've carried around with you for years because of the meaning it carries for you? You may have taped or pinned it up in different locations even though it's creased or stained with coffee.
I got rid of a heckuva lot of possessions before moving across the United States, but I kept this:
Some people call it vocation, others your life's purpose. Whatever it's called, a thread runs through your career -- in both the positive experiences and the challenging ones. Where are you called to contribute your best skills and talents? Here are some things I've noticed about exploring our calling:
If you'd like to talk with me about your calling and your fulfillment in your career, please schedule some time here.
To your success,
Yes, we all speak English -- but words mean different things to different people.
I ran into this a couple times this week in my new home in Maine:
1. Mainers are saying it's "dry" here right now. If you read my musings on humidity last week, I don't know what they could possibly be talking about. There is moisture everywhere!
2. Also, I was getting a new phone last week and one of the employees came in talking about CBD coffee. I'm from Oregon and my immediate thought was CBD Coffee as in marijuana in coffee? I thought relax while you speed up? I made a quip about it and they cracked up. No, it's Coffee By Design, a local coffee shop.
And we wonder why we have communication mishaps, clashing communication styles and misunderstandings! We all have different views of the world and we often don't understand the views of others. It sometimes takes work and a lot of communication.
One place I see this is in partnerships. People often join a partnership for divergent reasons. They have different expectations and different priorities in the business. A lot of assumptions can be made and never talked through, and misalignment results. Frustration, finger pointing, blame and a fractured relationship can follow. You can't anticipate all that happens when you become partners with someone. How you deal with it and communicate when you hit the challenges is the key.
Because of the patterns I've seen in partnerships I've worked with, I created a video on Top Three Tips to Have Partnerships Succeed. These tips are relevant in formal business partnerships as well as in other alliances you create in your business and your career.
Here's the video:
If a partnership gets off track, the best strategy is to confront it head on and address the situation. The challenges don't get resolved by themselves -- and the longer you wait, the situation generally gets more challenging vs. less.
If you or someone you know has challenges in their partnership, or is considering a partnership, let's talk to see how to address the situation. Schedule some time here: https://calendly.com/kerrywalls
I can share some of the key questions that need to be considered to have a partnership go well, and make sure the words you use are understood by your partner and vice versa.
CBD Coffee anyone?
When you think of networking, what do you think of? For me, it used to be a feeling of dread and an evening of discomfort in a hotel ballroom full of strangers.
Fun, eh? When I wasn't having fun, I wasn't being effective, either. Who wants to buy some dread? Sign me up! Pick me! Pick me!
In the last 3 years, I've experimented with a lot of different approaches and I've learned a few things doing so. I've learned that I have certain places I enjoy networking--i.e. small groups, one-on-one conversations, and public speaking. Places that seem to be torture, also, duh, don't produce results. I've learned to accept my style and be creative with how I network, rather than doing what I think I "should" be doing. I've learned to put myself in places where I'm doing the work I do and not trying to explain the work I do.
I reached out to a previous client of mine, Kristen Gallagher of Edify [who is a rock star with on-boarding programs for rapidly growing tech companies] so we could connect during my upcoming trip to Portland, Oregon. She suggested I have some "office hours" and she sent a great invitation with a testimonial (Slow Bar on October 3, 4-6 PM!) I'm looking forward to the event and meeting people in a relaxed and personal setting, and I've already had a phone call and several confirmed attendees! It might end up being Speed Coaching at Slow Bar -- but it's a great idea and an experiment, and has me do what I do best: not just drinking an Old Fashioned, but meeting people, hearing about them and hearing what business concerns they have. Fun? Check. Effective for me? Check.
Thank you, Kristen, for being such a great advocate for me.
It's important to always network -- not just when you need something. It works way better to network to develop relationships that are mutually beneficial. It's important to give and receive in networking -- give a referral, a testimonial, send a relevant article to someone to let them know you're thinking about them, or provide value. Build relationship first, and don't be attached to a result.
Find the style of networking that works for you--and engage it, be consistent, have fun and be creative.
I thought this article on tips for better conversations in the NYT last week was relevant to networking [and all relationships]. Listen and be curious about others. Works every time!
Come see me and Kristen at Slow Bar in Portland, Oregon, October 3 from 4-6 PM or schedule your own office hours with me here: https://calendly.com/kerrywalls.
It's National New Windows Week on Peaks Island, Maine.
This was my view:
Beautiful, yes? That's Cushing Island over Whitehead Passage. Those cliffs are one of the highest point in Casco Bay.
The cracks in the windows and the broken seals are a bit distracting. I've lived here for a couple months so I've gotten used to it. I have a contractor here this week fixing this view. I walked in after he put in some new windows and I wasn't sure there was glass in the new windows. So clear!!!! Wow.
That's the benefit of business planning. You have priorities. You have a focus. You define what your project is for the year -- are you focusing on growth? Are you stabilizing the business so you can grow without major breakdowns in your operations? Is the focus on training and developing your employees? Whatever you decide your focus is, you're less distracted by the things that happen that obstruct your view of what is important.
Most people flip the calendar page into the next year and continue business as usual. If you want to produce even better results in 2019 than in 2018, having a clear plan and a focus is key.
I'd love to support you to increase your focus on the priorities in your business:
I promise that working with me on your business plan will have you, at a minimum, earn 5x your investment in these sessions.
I'd love to talk with you about making 2019 your best year ever! Let's have the view of your business be clear and unobstructed.
I recently sold my car and moved across the US to an island in Maine. [We'll talk about how crazy that is/was later!]. Maybe I should have looked at more pictures like this first:
But hey -- it's only August and I'm enjoying sea kayaking. As Mark Twain shared: "I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened."
So I'm focusing on getting my life set up here as I have to figure out all the new places I'm going to go to get everything like a haircut [sniff, sniff, Daniel Richardson in Portland, Oregon], good food, a dental exam, etc . . . I'm a potential new customer everywhere I go.
And research says that we usually give a business one chance. Maybe two.
So here are a couple experiences and how they relate to making more money.
I googled yoga and tried a place out a few days ago. The person at the counter didn't seem very happy that I walked in the door. He didn't work to make sure I felt welcomed and comfortable, knew my way around or much of anything. As a new customer, I had dollar signs written all over me. People can spend hundreds of dollars a year on yoga [though I'd probably need to go more frequently to be worth that!]
After yoga, I walked into a co-working space. I'd been before briefly and bought some day passes to try it out. The owner recognized me. He said he'd introduce me to other people from the island who work there. He understood my concerns [meeting people] and why I was there, and supported my efforts. That is customer service. I'll be back. I can work alone in my home so I don't need a place to work, but I do want to be around others and get to know this new community I'm in. He understood that. He took action to address my individual concern which may be very different from the concerns of other co-workers in the space.
We are all individuals who take action to address our individual concerns. If we interact with every new potential customer, client or even co-worker that way, we will make more money.
Every person we interact with matters.
I'll keep you posted and send winter pictures of my house in January or so!
This is a great podcast that gives very concrete ways to design how you want to interface with technology. I think it's easy to be in stimulus/response mode to our "phone" [as they say is a Small Pocket Computer], email, news notifications and more. The constant interruptions disrupt our focus and attention. I also like what they say about which apps support our well-being and which ones can make us feel worse.
By Kerry Walls
You’re very good at what you do. You’re a highly effective acupuncturist that heals chronic health conditions of your grateful patients. Or you make cookies that are pieces of art—with very loyal, returning customers. Maybe you graduated as a highly proficient attorney. Now to become a partner, you need to increase your billable hours and your clients.
We’ve developed ourselves in our “trade” or our offer to our clients. But where did we develop the business acumen that goes along with making us highly successful long term? That is not something we often learn in school.
And guess what? That’s where highly skilled professional business owners have breakdowns. One of the biggest challenges I see is that people are attempting to run a business from where they are most comfortable and most effective, i.e. their training and background, while neglecting other key areas of the business where they are less familiar and have less training.
As a business owner, you’re juggling many activities and areas of focus. But when you stay honkered down in the production or operations area of the business, you are attempting to run a business from too low a sight line. You’re not owning the role of owner or CEO – who is also accountable for sales and marketing, the financials, and the business of the business [business planning, objectives, purpose, operating principles and values, targets, etc.], staff development and more.
You’re fitting in all those other activities around the edges . . . entering invoices on weekends, returning emails at midnight, never quite getting to business planning because there are too many other things on your to-do list, too many other urgent issues that need your immediate attention. Even if you have staff accountable for some of these areas, it’s often lopsided—with not enough guidance, supervision, development of your staff for them to be successful—as you’re too busy earning revenue for the company.
But here’s the problem with that. [not excluding the obvious one of being detrimental to your well-being, health and fulfillment] . . . you have breakdowns in the areas you’re not paying attention to.
THREE KEY AREAS OF NEGLECT
1. Financial -- When you neglect this area of the business, it’s like you’re in the middle of a football game but you don’t know what the scoreboard says. The scoreboard informs strategy and appropriate action. If you don’t know it’s 3rd down and 10 yards to go, and you take action as if it’s 1st and 10—that impacts your effectiveness, your results and your success. You need accurate numbers and you need to be engaged with those numbers on a regular basis to be successful.
One of the most critical financial business tools to have in place is a working cash flow projection spreadsheet. This tool is essential to planning future equipment purchases, the timing of hiring, expansion plans and profitability targets, to name just a few. We highly recommend having both a personal and business cash flow template to manage your finances.
2. The Business of the Business -- When you neglect this area of your business, there are a lot of day to day activities in the business but they are not necessarily lined up with your mission, your long term vision, your goals or targets. "Business of the business" is the time where you step back and look at your business from a different perspective, out of the day to day. When this area is neglected, business owners work harder not smarter—doing more activity, different actions or what they think are better actions—but end up with results that are less than they’d hoped for.
If you spend 10 minutes in business planning—you open up HOURS later down the road because you’re following a plan. If you’re driving from Portland to New York, and you just get in your car and start moving…..you might end up in Vancouver BC. That’s not the best use of your energy or action in your business if your goal is to reach New York. Costs of ignoring this part of the business include burnout, less than stellar results, lack of focus and alignment of your team and in your company—to name a few.
3. Sales and Marketing -- Many businesses are organized for business to come to them and they respond. They don’t necessarily set targets, benchmarks, bottomline and stretch goals. If you know what you’re aiming for, you’re WAY more likely to get there. At the very least, you’ll get further than if you hadn’t set the goal. I’ve seen business owners turn away sales because they didn’t know how to deliver the work or they avoided requesting referrals because they’re uncomfortable. The result and cost of ignoring this area of the business: lower profits, cash shortages, and slower growth. One very common cost here is a boom and bust cycle: the owner gets in fear from lack of sales, generates a bunch of activity, generates sales, gets too busy, and then drops out the sales activity until sales decline and the business owner gets scared and starts moving on sales again. A very exhausting up and down cycle that is unnecessary and prevents long term growth.
So what to do about this?
New habits and practices that help:
“Habit is habit—not to be thrown out the window by any man, but coaxed down the stairs a step at a time.” --Mark Twain
By ourselves, without an outside perspective, we will most likely keep doing what we usually do—which is what we know--while responding to what is immediately in front of us needing attention. Change and growth will be incremental and potentially limiting to the long term growth of your business, not to mention your sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.
By creating new regular practices and an emphasis on areas of the business that are critical, but may not be your favorite, you are positioning you and your business for growth and increase success.
I has been a business coach for over 17 years--helping businesses increase sales, be more effective and organized, increase innovation and grow exponentially. Contact me at email@example.com or call 503.888.7362 for an initial, no charge appointment about your business - your challenges, goals and vision.
You can also schedule a conversation with me at: https://calendly.com/kerrywalls.