Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Exercise Your Creative Business Brain

During a recent workshop, I was asked how to develop the creative part of your mind when it comes to business.

Any time you want to develop a new product or service; Any time you want to create a new marketing effort; Anytime you run into a challenge that has no obvious solution; you will need your creative abilities to shine. For some, it comes naturally. For others it is difficult.

If you are one of the people that seem to have difficulty tapping into your creative thoughts, here is an exercise that can help. (Before you start, remember that you must allow your brain to function freely as you do this. Do not judge your own thoughts. Don't worry if you get "off topic", let your brain go in whatever direction it wants. You never know where it will take you. Likely, it will take you exactly where you need to go, just not by the route you anticipated)

Select a random object from the room you are in.

Grab a recording device.

Sit somewhere comfortable and just let your mind go.

Say everything that you think out loud so that you can have a record of it on tape.

Do not judge your thoughts or try to pull them a certain way, just let them develop naturally.

You will be amazed at what you learn.

It may go something like this. "Pencil ... I write with it ... I doodle with it ... this pencil is kind of dull ... I wonder where my sharpener is ... I like the smell of pencil shavings ... it reminds me of being in school with those wall mounted sharpeners ... I remember when Jim and I broke the one in Mrs. Drizzle's class and he blamed it on the class hamster ... I wonder what Jim is up to now ... Maybe he is on Facebook ... I should get back in touch".

You never know what thoughts will come to you and what actions they will inspire. Those actions could be life changing in the end. Maybe Jim is now an angel investor who will want to invest in your company!

Remember, the whole point of this exercise is to get you feeling comfortable with allowing your brain to run its natural course with thoughts. Once you can do this freely with random objects, you can bring that same technique into your business.You may set before you a picture of an employee, a product that needs improvement or a service that needs to be marketed. If you have become comfortable with your creative side, you will be able to run with thoughts on those topics as well. Letting your mind run wherever it wants and eventually bringing you through thoughts that will lead to a solution.

If obvious answers just aren't there and you are having trouble coming up with creative solutions, try this exercise. Build your imaginative muscle and become comfortable letting it work. I guarantee you will be impressed by the results.

Many of our workshops are geared toward developing your creative skills in business. Click here for a list of dates and topics.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Show Confidence Through How You Speak

It is natural for people to talk faster (and sometimes in a higher voice) when they are nervous. The psychology behind it is that speaking fast lends importance and validation to what a person says, at least thats what the speaker thinks. In the other person's mind, it says that the speaker feels nervous talking and feels inferior to the listener or not confident in the subject matter. If you are like most people and want to appear confident in what you are saying, you might need to slow it down a bit.  

The next time you are talking, try to notice your voice. Listen to how it changes in certain situations and critique it a bit. When does it speed up and slow down? When does it get higher or lower? Are there certain sounds that come out smooth or raspy? 

Then, find a private place and speak the way you would like to sound. It may seem silly at first but stick with it. You will soon find a pace that not only sounds confident but makes you feel confident. If it helps, imagine a celebrity that you think has a great way of speaking and imitate it, then slowly blend it into your natural voice. (For me it was Jack Nicholson, I removed the long drawn out vowels but concentrated on his depth and speed, which is quite slow). Here is an example of Mr. Nicholson Talking. He shows nothing but confidence no matter what he says, as he appears to be doing it on his own time. 

Once you have found a pace of speaking that makes you feel confident, go out and use it. Start with people who don't know you. The bank teller, the taxi driver, the grocery clerk or anyone else you bump into. Get used to using it. See how you feel and how others respond when you use it. After some practice, start bringing it into your life until it is the norm. You will be amazed at the results. 

DO NOT come up with a fake voice for yourself. You need to be you in all situations to have true confidence. But do learn how to control your pace of speaking and the tone that you use. Having that control will lead to clearer and more direct speech. That will cause you to feel more confident in what you are saying and that confidence will be communicated to the listener. 

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Network Like A Human

Networking events; some people love them, some people hate them. From my experience, the expectations you have going in will determine how valuable an event will be for you.

Many people go into a networking event with the false belief that the goal is to sell their product or service. I bump into these people at events without fail. They walk up to me and give me their elevator pitch and then wait for my reaction. If I don't seem interested, they move on to the next person and throw their pitch. It feels like someone just grabbed me, slammed me against a billboard and then walked away. I am 99.9% certain that 99.9% of the people that do this fail 99.9% of the time.

It is funny to watch when two of these walking infomercials bump into each other. They both struggle to talk over the other while neither listens. Then they grudgingly take turns talking for the next 30 seconds, and then both turn away in disgust with that "What a waste of time" look on their face. ( I call these conversations "Herb Tarlek Showdowns" and have often considered taking side bets on who would stop pitching first.)

Networking events exist for the purpose of building your network, hence the name. Your network is the circle of people that exist around you. To have someone in your network, you need to have a relationship with them. Therefore, networking events are about building relationships!

Going into a networking event with the main goal of making some new relationships will lead to a much more productive and enjoyable time.

The way I do this is by thinking about the person I am talking to rather than what product or service they are representing. Instead of thinking, "How can I sell my service to this person?" I am thinking, "Who is this person and how can we fit into each others world?"

They may not be interested in my service and I may not be interested in theirs, but that doesn't mean there is no value in a relationship with them. I may be able to learn something from them that I would not have learned if I did not get into their world. They may introduce me to someone who is interested in my service. They may learn something from me that will help them in their world. Maybe you will eventually use each others services after building some trust over a few cups of coffee. Who knows, you may even be meeting your future spouse! (Unless you already have one. In that case it may be better not to shoot for that kind of thing at networking events.)

The point is to look at networking as "people meeting people" rather than "businesses pitching businesses".

You are a dynamic human being with a lot more to offer the world than just the product you sell. Every other person at that event is also a unique human being with interesting knowledge and stories. Connect with people on that level and truly discover what a networking event is about.

Find out more at www.Mobile-Minds.ca

Friday, 6 January 2012

Wherever You Go, There You Are

Often I hear people talking about being a different person when they are at work than at home. I call B.S.! (Usually not to their face as that would be rude, but I will try to point out that it isn't true at some point.)

Yes, most people have to conduct themselves differently at work than they do at home. Take me for example. I like to wear my pajamas when I have no where to be. The top has a picture of Oscar the Grouch and the word "SCRAM!" written across it. I like to talk in funny voices with my kids and sing songs in the manner of Beaker from the Muppets. Acting like that in front of a client would probably not go over well. With clients I dress nicely and speak lightheartedly yet professionally.

Does that mean I am a different person? Do I shut part of me off when I meet with clients? No! My personality is mine and I don't shut off any of it at any time. If my client happened to start singing "Dust in The Wind" like Beaker I would join right in. (Which is awesome, by the way. Check it out) I am the same person in any situation, everyone is, you can't escape yourself. You simply must conduct that personality differently in different situations.

When you walk into work, you are still the same person you were when you were at home. The same strengths, the same weaknesses, the same baggage, the same joys. If you had a bad morning it will likely have an effect on your workday. If you have a great workday it will have an effect on your evening at home. Trying to deny that leads to undue pressure to cover up feelings and try to mask what is going on inside; and that is never healthy.

Instead, you need to embrace the fact that you are you, no matter where you are. Know that you need to conduct yourself in ways suitable to the situations you are in, but that you should never try to disguise who you are.

If you are a fun-loving person, embrace it and be that way to the degree that is appropriate in all situations!

If you are a serious person, embrace it and be serious to the degree that is appropriate in all situations!

Whoever you are, embrace it! You will be happier and so will everyone around you because they will know they are getting the real you. Granted, you can't please everyone. Some people won't fit with your personality whether you are faking it or being genuine. So why not be genuine and let yourself be surrounded by people who appreciate you for who you are?

I am goofy. I know it and I love that about me. I am good at what I do and I can be very serious if needed but at the core I am goofy. That degree of goofiness will change according to what I am doing. If I sitting with a client exploring ways for them to reach their goals, I am focused and serious about the task at hand, but I don't hesitate to throw in a bit of goofiness if the situation is appropriate. That is me and I don't mind being me in a meeting. But when I get home with the kids, the goofiness can be let loose (assuming there isn't a serous talk I need to have with one of them). The bottom line is, I know I am goofy and I love it. I know that it is only appropriate in certain situations but that it is a part of me every second of every day.

Admit to yourself what the core of your personality is and own it! Don't feel that you have to shut it off in any situation. Don't try to hide who you are, just conduct yourself in a way appropriate to each situation. Be you at home, be you at work. people will appreciate you for who you are.

Monday, 2 January 2012

3 Parts of a Successful Business

When you have a brand new business concept, the ideas flow freely and the excitement is electrifying! The sky is the limit and your dreams seem to come alive! It is a great feeling! There is a point, though, where all of that excitement and brainstorming must be put into a workable plan. That doesn't mean that the excitement needs to die, but it does mean that some critical thinking is needed.

In an earlier series of articles called "4 Parts of An Entrepreneur" I talked about the different characters within an entrepreneur that work together to build a business out of that flurry of ideas. Just like a successful entrepreneur has these parts that must work together, a successful business has parts that must work together as well. At the base of it all are 3 main pieces that must be put to use properly:

1. Product/Service
Of course, every business needs a product or service to offer. If you are starting a new business you will need to be offering a new concept or a new spin on a old concept if you are to be successful. If you come out of the gate offering the same product at the same price and in the same way as your competition, you will find it very difficult to succeed in the marketplace. So you must offer something new or offer a unique experience to consumers. If you don't do that, you will fail to pull people away from their normal buying habits and switch to you.

2. Purpose
Without purpose, a business will lack vision and determination. Much like a human being, a business needs to have a sense of purpose if people (employees, lenders, customers) are going to buy into it.

There are two ways to think about purpose and both are important.

First is your outward purpose. What change is your company making in the live of those around it? Do you make meals easier to prepare and thus take stress off of time crunched parents? Do you educate the public about something that can make them enjoy life more? Do you make it safer to work in a warehouse setting? Look past your product or service and see how it actually changes lives. That is your outward purpose. That is why people will buy into you.

Second is your inward purpose. What change does your company make to your own life and that of your employees? Does it allow you to live a certain lifestyle? Does it provide you with the feeling of control you desire? Does it free up time to spend with those you love? This is your inward purpose. The benefits that you and your employees receive from doing business.

Define both of these and set goals for them. Then when you face decisions, you can compare your options to your purpose to see which is the best.

3. People
Never ever forget that the success of your business, no matter what it is, is dependent on people. Right from the beginning you will need people.

At first it may just be a family member to help with the accounting, but soon you will have customers who need to be treated right. Then you will need suppliers, lenders and employees. Behind every business you deal with and every order you take there is a person. Treat them wrong and you will lose them or be treated poorly by them. Pay your bills, listen to your employees, deliver on all promises to your customers. No matter how wonderful your product is, you will taste defeat of you do not treat people properly. Guaranteed. The great thing is that people respect those who treat them well. So in return, you will receive the kind of treatment you desire from all of these people. That makes business a much more pleasurable thing. Sound too simple? It is simple! But it is amazing how fast people forget this when things do not go smoothly. Be the one who keeps treating people properly at all times and see how appreciated you become. Your business will flourish because of it!

When you are starting a new business, there are a million things to think about. Be sure that these 3 are in place and you will have a strong base to build from.

Know that your product or service is unique and be able to explain why.

Know your company's purpose and be able to communicate it.

Know the people around you and treat them well.

Enjoy success!

These concepts are covered in detail at our "Discovering the Entrepreneur Within" workshops. Click here for dates and tickets.