Doing the Hustle: What’s your Definition for Business Success?

Photo by: Romondo Davis

What’s it take to have a successful business?

Have you ever asked this question—to yourself, a mentor, or a business coach? If you have, most often it’s answered with one word: hustle!

But what does this mean? Is it the same for everybody? Every industry? Or is it individualized?

I believe it is individualized, based on needs and goals. I knew I needed to get outside of my comfort zone as an introvert; I needed to ‘get out there’ to put a face with a name and to build awareness if I expected any business growth. Action steps: I attended 4 to 5 networking events within a 150 mile radius per week, for over three years, perfecting my tagline and elevator pitch and identifying my target audience. The result: I gained a better understanding of my customer persona, their pain points, and obtained several speaking engagements and appearances on podcasts. Eventually, I could enter a new event with someone approaching me to say, “Hey, aren’t you Kris the Scribbler? I’ve heard of you!” This is now spreading through social media and when I attend national conferences.

While this is my experience, I was curious how other business owners and entrepreneurs defined hustle. Here are their words:

Dick Slackman, Tenby Technologies: working hard and smart to get things done. Identify what that is for you and DO IT.

John Vitale, VP of The Small Business Administration says: bust your butt to make your product, service, or idea stick. Cultivate the opportunities through online and offline activities to gain 1-to-1 conversations. Surround yourself with other like-minded people because they are the ones who can refer or connect you with someone helpful.

Greg Christoffel, The SCORE Association: be prepared to talk to anyone who asks about your product, service, or idea without fearing what they think. You must be willing to take any feedback without the expectation of something grand. You’ll find that support comes from unlikely people and places.

Robert Arnone of Arnone Specific Chiropractic: this means not getting comfortable with where you are at; there is no relaxing. Push for more.

Jane Wyatt, Independent Sales Director with Mary Kay Cosmetics: Keep looking forward for what can be done next to improve your business and make your customers happier. Continue to budget and make goals, but don’t quit when a milestone is reached; make a new goal. Deflect negative energy.

Sandy Tomey, The Love Luminary: make swift and efficient forward movement toward an intentional goal. Define what that is for you and pursue it.

Stan Jechura, All Safe Inspections: If opportunity doesn’t knock, break the door down! Be proactive. Nothing will happen on its own so it is up to you to make what you want happen. He began his home inspection service by placing door hangers on every for-sale house within his region. It didn’t get him any business, but he proved to himself he could get it done which motivated him to do even more.

Tom Van Cleave, Data Dynamics: he believes entrepreneurs are too focused on obtaining funding rather than sales. “While it will take longer, it’s more effective to hustle for funding through customer sales.”

Les Landes, Landes & Associates: go after what you want like a bat out of hell: make the first move, the first call, promote and go way beyond your comfort zone.

How do these views influence you? Do you agree or have a different approach? The common denominator for all respondents was to keep up or be left behind.

How do you hustle for business success?

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler

Visions of 50—Past, Present, and Beyond

resizedJune 9 marked the shared birthdays for my daughter and brother. This year was interesting because my daughter turned 25 and my brother turned 50. With a blog idea forming in my head, I asked my daughter, “What does 50 look like to you?”

“Many look unhappy, probably because of regrets. I felt my life was going that way but that changed because I now know what I’m doing with my life. Advice for others: have goals and reach them, no matter how hard. Don’t come up with excuses not to do them. It’s worth it.”

Next, I asked my brother, “When you were 25, what did 50 look like to you?”

“I lived a wild and crazy life and never imagined I’d make it to 50. Now that I have, I’m absolutely shocked I’ve made it this far. I’m pleased and consider every day a gift. Health influences one’s view of getting older. I’m doing what I can to be healthier since I am paying for my wild youth now.”

My own view of life at 50 looked like my grandparents: retired, sitting home, passing time with Bridge and Bingo, in between visits with grandchildren. I also saw that my parents worked long hours and were often stressed and unhappy. They always worried about money and were extremely frugal. I didn’t like what I saw and I wanted something vastly different. Now at 52, I see life as much more positive and within my control.

Intrigued by these viewpoints, I interviewed other 50 year olds. Here are their replies:

When you were 25, what did 50 look like to you?

Lory Laughter, 1964, owner of Dental IQ LLC, Napa, CA

When I was 25, 50 didn’t really even enter my mind. I had 3 kids who kept me very busy. My parents were almost 50 when I was that age and I remember thinking it would be nice to be set financially and drive a nice car when my kids were older and we made more money.

Darron Story, 1965, Director, OK Program, Kansas City, MO

Not old. When my parents were 50 I thought they were fossils! I didn’t want to be like that. When I was 25, I was beginning my career in the music industry and 50 seemed like a long way away, but I did think about what I’d be doing. I thought I’d be running a production or management company and leaving the tour bus behind. I was hip, cool and stylish…I thought I’d still have hair (oops) but the ear would still be pierced. So for me 50 looked very much like 25 except I would hope to be a LOT smarter!

Brian Ash, 1965, owner of The Trolley Bike, Springfield, MO

50 years old sounded pretty old back then. I think anyone who is 25 years older than you is going to seem old from your perspective. 75 sounds old now. But I’m sure that when I’m 75, I’ll think those 100 year old guys are the ones who are really old.

Thad James, 1961, owner of SammyJ Balloon Creations, St. Louis, MO

When I was 25, I thought 50 was stressful and full of responsibility. Fifty-year- olds seemed secure in their place and confident about their situation. Their kids were leaving home and they can start to see an “easy time” in their lives.

Paul Kinghorn, 1962, Director, Center for Business Growth and Innovation, Cedar Falls, IA

At 25, I knew that I wanted to be involved in business and was working in the restaurant field as a unit manager. I was able to see older individuals (at 25 almost everybody looks to be older) who had been successful in their careers and or in some cases owning their own business. I wasn’t focused on what I would become in 25 years,
rather only that I could see through older individuals, the potential to develop the skills, knowledge and attributes necessary for me to be able to have a successful career of my making. I had not yet gone to college and wasn’t really thinking that that would need to be a pathway to achieve my dreams.

Now that you are 50, what has changed from your original view?

Lory: Now that I am 50, I realize the financial stability and nice car come at a price. Some days I’d rather be with my grandkids and not working so much. I work more now than I did at 25, which is the reverse of what I had imagined.

Darron: Not much really, except you don’t know what turns your experience will take you. One thing that is different is I focus on how I can better other people’s lives at a very deep and meaningful level. The old me sang and danced to entertain people and that’s nice, but not anything like what I am doing now.

Brian: Age is just a number. It’s all in your mindset and how you take care of yourself. Some 50 year olds look much older than that. Others look great for their age. So I no longer focus on someone’s age. Instead, I focus on their spirit. I’ve never been a fan of acting your age.

Thad: With advent of “50”, there are some regrets about not doing some things in my youth. The realization that age excludes some activities and experiences. I find it interesting that things that used to be geared toward me are now focused on the younger generations, (music, TV, movies, advertising, and fashion). Youthful naiveté was a wonderful veil to wear.

Paul: I treasure the journey, the learning and my experiences more than I thought that I would. All that I am today is an amalgam of my past experiences. Even in our setbacks and failures, there are lessons to be learned and something of value to be gained. I don’t focus on success like I did when I was younger and have developed a sense of confidence in my approach to the things that I engage in. I also have a greater desire to share what I’ve learned with others who are interested and willing to listen. At 25 I was concerned with providing for my family and building a career. Now I am more interested in spending time with my family, friends and in building relationships.

What do you enjoy about being 50?

Lory: I enjoy the freedom of being 50. While I still have responsibilities, I don’t work my schedule around the kids. I travel a lot now, which is a bonus to being in my 50s. I like that I am a young enough grandma to enjoy the grandkids and even keep up with them now and then.

Darron: Being comfortable with who I am, and having people not believe me when I tell them I am 50. God has bless me in that area…but what is 50 supposed to look like—I think it’s still young!

Brian: The saying about being older and wiser has a lot of merit, but I think a moremaccurate way to describe it is adjusting your priorities. There’s something to be said for knowing what really matters the most and I think it takes life experience to gain that perspective.

Thad: I truly enjoy having experience and knowledge on my side. My perspective is broader and better informed. While I can act “like a kid”, I have a better grasp on boundaries and I can restrain my actions/attitudes with a cushion of experience.

Paul: I find that wisdom is a powerful thing that allows me to see patterns and behaviors more clearly. This allows me a better ability to not as easily get distracted with things that aren’t as they appear and to create strategies and actions much quicker that I would have when I was younger. I also appreciate the knowledge and skills that I’ve developed and how I can apply them in ways that uniquely impact my job, family and the people around me. My abilities are more acute so I can enjoy several of my passions at a greater degree of proficiency than when I was younger.

What is your vision/plan for the next 25 years?

Lory: My plan is to keep active. I plan to travel more and work less. I had promised each grandkid a trip to Disneyland, alone, after they were 5, so I need to start saving for that. I want to not only be there for milestones, but create milestones. I envision continuing a close relationship with my kids which only grows as we become even more contemporaries and not only parent/child. Since they have agreed to never put me in a nursing home, I also envision being that old lady who does embarrassing things when they have guests over. 🙂

Darron: To be more intimate with my loved ones. To create a deepness in all of my relationships that cause real transparency. To enjoy my life and be thankful for what I have and for what I’ve accomplished and not waste energy on what I don’t have. To be a grandfather and hopefully bounce on my knee a lot of babies. To change the world,
even if its’ just a little bit!

Brian: I’m going to continue doing what I love and not worry too much about the money. That will take care of itself if you do things and treat people the right way. As I get older, I’m sure I will slowly transition from being the one doing the actual work to being the one doing the mentoring and sharing what I’ve learned with the next generation. Hopefully they’ll take what I’ve built and make it even better.

Thad: I expect that technology will whizz by me. Just as 75-year- olds today can’t grasp current trends, the same will happen to me. Regardless of how much I try to keep up, I’m sure I will be lost. As the world changes, I will attempt to withhold my fondness for “the good old days” but that will be my only reference.

Paul: I find the idea of retirement to be unappealing and plan to be involved and engaged through the end of my life. I’m not aspiring for any set possessions or occupational stature, rather to have the freedom and flexibility to pursue those things that I enjoy and will allow me to continue to learn and discover. I will probably spend more time in the service of others and working to endure that my posterity will develop the skills and attributes necessary to find happiness and success (however they define it) in their lives.

What factors make 50+ good for you?

Lory: Everything about 50+ looks good to me. Freedom to be me. Not as many responsibilities financially. Technology is making it ever easier to stay connected with family. Things will just keep looking up.

Darron: I think people tend to respect you more at this age. They tend to trust you more and take things that you say at face value. Experience is something that people can only get by living and being engaged. It’s nice to be in a room sometimes and I know that I might not be the smartest guy in the room but I do have the most wisdom. I like that!

Brian: I really have no complaints about getting older. I enjoy seeing my children become young adults and look forward to experiencing it all over again through their eyes. I’m one of those guys who’s always thought that I had all the answers. Now that I’m older and have had some success, people are actually starting to listen to me.

Thad: I am comforted by my past experience. I can reflect on past successes and failures to help form current decisions. I don’t feel the pressure to impress anyone or worry about others opinions. I can be very comfortable in my own skin.

Paul: Appreciation for what truly is important and the proper resources to be able to take advantage of opportunities and desires (within reason) as I see fit. Love for my wife, children and grandchildren and the ability to spend time with them on a regular basis (although not nearly as often as I would like). Also, I’ve been able to learn how to establish relationships both personally and professionally that have served me well and which have added to a great deal of satisfaction in my life. My ability to prioritize things within my life and to have a great deal of control over what I do and how I do it.

What are your thoughts on being 50? How do these stories motivate or inspire you?

Coming soon: interview results with 25 year olds.

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler
Making Midlife Better!

Mentoring: A Top Tool For Entrepreneurial Success

meditation-338446_1280In a recent post on mentoring, The Good, the Better, and the Best of Mentoring, I interviewed 3 small business owners on the value they gained from their mentors. During their interviews, it occurred to me that the other side of mentoring must be told, too: from organizations and incubators which help an entrepreneur make their idea a reality. Here is wisdom gained from three top innovation centers in the Midwest and why mentoring is a valuable tool:

Why mentoring?

Mary Jo Gorman, Lead Managing Partner of Prosper Women Entrepreneurs, states, “Providing access to those with experience helps entrepreneurs walk a better path, avoid mistakes, and helps to shorten the growth and success cycle.”

Maria Meyers, founder of SourceLink, says, “No entrepreneur can do everything that needs to be done for a company well. Mentorship provides expertise that otherwise wouldn’t be available.”

Joe Scherrer, founder of The Leadership Crucible, says, “There is value in passing on hard-learned experience to those coming up behind you, otherwise that experience and knowledge is lost.”

Sharing failures vs successes:

Mary Jo: “There is no shame in fear or failure. A mentor or advisor who is willing to share things that don’t go well offers more value to the mentee than those who don’t share their failures or fears.”

Maria: “This is something a mentor does to give back. The satisfaction in helping someone avoid similar problems is a driving force.”

Joe: “Good mentors talk about their successes and failures, however the failures are more instructive.”

What makes a good mentor?

Mary Jo: “A good mentor is practical, patient, and a good listener. They are pragmatic about the process, knowing an entrepreneur’s resources are extremely strapped.”

Maria: “A good mentor provides objective support. The mentor will challenge the mentee, get them to think differently, and ask why things are done or not done. There must be good chemistry between the two for best results.”

Joe: “A good mentor is usually over 40 years old with personal and professional experience to draw upon.”

Advice for seeking/working with mentors:

Mary Jo: “Seek out 2 to 3 mentors. Arrange regular meetings as a group to address issues, problems and to build off each other’s ideas. The group comes away with a solid plan instead of chasing ideas.”

Maria: “Seek out the mentoring programs in your community. These programs provide training and structure. If you need expertise, turn to your social network, seek referrals and ask.”

Joe: “Select someone who can actually help you and you can trust. You have to want the help.”

Benefits of being a mentor:

Mary Jo: “I enjoy helping entrepreneurs succeed at higher levels.”

Maria: “I enjoy connecting people to resources they need, to watch their growth and being a part of their growth.”

Joe: “I enjoy meeting new people and helping an entrepreneur to make better decisions, grow and achieve.”

Do you have a business idea? Are you on the verge of a big decision and not sure which action is best? Organizations like The Leadership Crucible, The SourceLink, and Prosper Women Entrepreneurs are just a few of many options available to receive guidance and mentorship. Fear and failure are a part of success, so take it head on with your mentor and make great things happen!

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler
A grandparent in business

Photo courtesy of Pixaby

The Wrong Kind of Busy: Conquering Social Media and Family Distractions

A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part
— Anonymous

Wrong Kind of Busy BlogFamily and social media: we love them but…they can easily suck our time away.  For several years, my day would begin by checking my inbox and social media feeds before my 10am business day began. What was intended as engagement with my online community unknowingly merged into online and offline play time. I justified my behavior by eating breakfast, chatting with family members, or snuggling with my kitties, labeling my actions as effective multi-tasking. It didn’t take long to realize (and deny) I was using prime business-building time to putz.

Not pleased with my discoveries, I sought out a solution. After some hard introspection
and consulting with my virtual assistant and social media expert, I’m actively
diminishing my online distract-ability habits. Here are 2 simple exercises to help you
limit the wrong kind of busy:

Identify your habits: which is your greatest weakness? Email? Facebook? Twitter? Pay
attention to your habits and the time engaged with each. How much is dedicated to
business? How much can you honestly count as non-business?

Limit your online time: from the discoveries above, set a specific time every day to
check email and social media feeds. Make your business activity the priority. Can you
accomplish your social media activity in under 45 minutes? Set a timer and stick to it.
OR, if you find yourself drifting toward distraction, move on to another business task.
Set your fun-time online activity for an end-of- day reward. It’s a tough pattern to break,
and doesn’t happen overnight, but will result in higher productivity in a short amount of
time.

Family is a different matter. Many of us pursued entrepreneurship for the benefit of
ourselves and our family. We chose this path to be closer physically and emotionally to
our children, but that proximity leads to high distract-ability. It requires new habits for
everyone, but the best progress starts with ourselves:

Discipline: identify your most productive times and set that as business time only! I
used to modify my work day around everyone else’s schedules and disasters but ended
up playing business catch-up more than moving forward. Avoid that trap and schedule
each day with your professional priorities.

Determine your work week: Many of us become entrepreneurs for the flexibility, so
be flexible for your business opportunities and emergencies: business projects,
outsourcing activities, technical issues, missed appointments, illness, new clients, and
more. Maintaining a schedule, flexibility within your schedule, and preparedness for the
unexpected will keep you on track for growth and for family intervention.

A lot of our busy-ness comes from the distractions we know and love most: family and
social media. It takes some practice to break an old habit in favor of another, but with
persistence, it can happen. For more insight into distractions, visit What are Your
Distraction Risk Factors?

What are your tips for managing social media and family? Comment below and share
with others who may need support and guidance.

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler
A grandparent in business

Swinging with your Eyes Closed—Taking Time for Yourself

Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us. — Maya Angelou

The pressure was building…

My daughter was stressing about her work schedule, daycare hours for my granddaughter, and applying to college, interspersed with loser-boyfriend tales.

My mother was worried about her health (which is relatively healthy for a 78 year old), my brother’s latest job issue, the presidential election and anything else she can conjure up.

My partner’s health continues to decline and he’s coping with constant extreme pain, while waiting for potential surgery.

My challenge is to turn off all this noise so that I keep up with client needs and business growth.

It’s not easy.

Even though I’m there for support and encouragement, I don’t get involved any deeper. If I do, my business and I suffer. However, those I love don’t comprehend the pressure all these issues put on me. They recognize the others as a nuisance; not themselves. Coping requires strict office hours on my behalf and limited exposure to their issues.

It’s not easy.

The pot was on the verge of boiling over.

Wash. SP 5.10.16It was time to get away. Thanks to the help of my virtual assistant and social media manager, it became a reality. It didn’t take much to make it happen, either. In a few hours’ time, I had my trailer packed and ready to go. Initially, I would have preferred a weekend camping trip to spare weekdays, but few spots were available last minute. Inspired by my VA’s advice to break my email habit, I decided to do the almost-unthinkable: visit the state park Sunday through Wednesday.

 
It was better than expected:

  • No noise—only nature sounds, emphasized by a thunderstorm.
  • No camping neighbors.
  • No email distractions (my cell phone easily accessed my account, but I relied instead on my VA alerting me if any were urgent).
  • Good cell phone reception (I didn’t share that news with my family, but was available in an emergency).
  • Creative juices were active.
  • Productivity was high.
  • The scenery was grounding, soothing, therapeutic.
  • Discount for weekday camping.

All this was topped off with no emergencies from the family, though my mother did worry about me being in the ‘wild Missouri territory’ by myself.

The journey was a success and helped me to understand that I need more me time away from those I love. It’s healthy for them; it’s healthy for me and my business.

Here are tips to ensure you get recharge time, too:

  • Talk with your team members: they’ll encourage you and cover any business emergencies if they arise.
  • No team? No worries. Create an email autoresponder announcing your unavailability. Follow up upon your return.
  • Turn off your devices! Better yet; leave them home.
  • Remember: two or three days won’t bankrupt the company.
  • Sometimes the best escapes are spontaneous.
  • Try something a little out of the ordinary—like getting away midweek.
  • Tell your story: take time to write a few ideas on how your getaway helps your business. Anything you do to better your business will be appreciated by your clients.

When was the last time you recharged? You are probably overdue. Encourage others by sharing these tips then share your recharge story below.

(Thanks to Lisa Smelcer of Virtual Admin Experts for helping me not sweat the small stuff.)

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler
A grandparent in business: making midlife better!

I’m at Work, Dammit! The 5 Stages of Work-at-Home Acceptance

Stuart miles fdp.net 3.11.16Working from home and owning your own business has plenty of benefits, but it also has its obstacles. The first challenge is getting the family to understand that you are working! Even when you close your door, they know you are just a knock away.

The process of training a family to your work-at-home schedule is much like the Kubler-Ross stages of death and dying:

Denial: your family members understand you work from home, but doubt their ‘quick’ question will interrupt your day. A typical question may take the form of:

  • Can you babysit for a few hours?
  • Got a second? You’ve got to see these cute videos.
  • I’ve got an important appointment and need to find xxx. Can you help me?

When these requests pour upon you—and they do on an hourly basis, you deny and postpone as your schedule permits. Unfortunately, your family views their need as far greater than your work schedule. This then takes the form of:

Anger: your family becomes frustrated. You always have the ‘excuse’ of being too busy and delay their needs above your business. While you explain that this is not true, you get replies like:

  • Your business is more important than I am!
  • This is an easy request! You are turning your back on everything!
  • I’ll just be late and lose my job.

You’ll explain to your beloved family that none of this is true. You try to explain that if you worked at another location, you wouldn’t be home and wouldn’t be available until later in the evening. Still, it doesn’t work. The amazing thing is that your family only sees their need as being urgent and life-threatening. They recognize that others are pecking at you but view the others as being more demanding and take your side when complaining about them. The savvy family members will then turn to:

Bargaining: this is when they get clever. They’ll make a deal with you so you feel this is the best bet for you.

  • If you babysit for the first half of the day, I’ll make sure someone takes over at noon. (Never happens!)
  • Before you get started for the day, will you help me with xxx? (Beware: this takes much longer than promised)
  • Quick, honey, this will only take a moment. (Yea, right!)

Depression: they recognize that their attempts are failing. They go in shock. The last, desperate attempt is depression; your depression. They’ll approach you with phrases intended to jab you in the heart:

  • You don’t love me anymore.
  • This isn’t healthy for you. Can’t you see your grey hair?
  • We haven’t had a quiet time in ages.
  • I’m concerned about your family. They need you and you aren’t available for them.

Not only does this jab at your heart, they deliver it with genuine concern. Some can even work up a well-timed tear. Yet you stay true to yourself and your business. It’s tough and the family manages to survive your proximity absence. The amazing thing is by the time you are available, the emergency has been forgotten. They eventually reach the coveted level of understanding:

Acceptance: this often creeps up on you and you don’t even realize it. A week goes by and very few interferences have disrupted your work flow. It hits you like a ray of light from Heaven! There is a moment of concern that something is wrong, but this is a test. Here are some quick DOs and DONTs to get you through the awkwardness of family acceptance:

DON’T:

  • Showing weakness!
  • Send ‘are you okay’ texts.
  • Call until all business tasks are complete.

DO:

  • Thank them for their help and understanding.
  • Treat the top family influencers (for me it’s by mother, my daughter, my granddaughter, my partner) to individual you time.
  • Share your successes with them; if you won a big client, include your family in the celebration.
  • Refresh their memory once in a while. They will forget.

It takes time, patience and continuing education, but it is possible to get the family to respect your home office hours.

What’s your work-at-home story? Share below!

Kristen Edens
Content developer & coach, blogger, freelance writer
Grandparents in Business Facebook group
Don’t fight it. Let me write it!

(photo image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net)

And Suddenly Children Move Back Home, part 1

“When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them.”bigjom of fdp.net
― Rodney Dangerfield

Does this sound familiar?

  • You’ve made sacrifices and adjustments to begin or build your business.
  • You’ve created your home office haven and have comfortably settled into a new lifestyle & schedule.
  • You’re acquiring clients which need your uninterrupted time & attention.

It’s taken some time and modifications, but economic and personal recovery is occurring and looking…promising.

But then you get a phone call: “Mom, can we come live with you for a while? It will be for only a few months as I catch up with bills and save up a little money.”

Deep down, you knew it would happen.
Inwardly, you cringe. You’re first thoughts will be:

“I’ll get to see my grandchild daily!”
“We’ll continue the family dinners we used to have—when I was growing up.”
“I can babysit evenings and weekends as my schedule allows so she can save up money faster.”
“I’ll have extra help around the house.”
“I’ll charge a low rent, secretly save it then offer it back as a reward for when she moves out. I’ll be the best mother!”
“I’ll set specific work hours and all will be well.”

Does this sound familiar?

Despite minor trepidation, you say, “Let’s discuss this in person. We have several things to work out before I say yes.”

This will be the fastest your child agrees with you. Regardless of the situation, it’s dire in her eyes and there’s probably something she isn’t revealing. That will come later.

It always does.

However, we understand. It’s tough out there. Many millennials are facing the same unemployment, financial, mental and emotional challenges we share. Their best option: move back home. (Secretly, we may welcome it to help with our situation too…but we’d never reveal it!)

So why us?

They know us. They are comfortable with us even though most of their teen and twenty-something years were spent hating or being angry at us. This also means they know our weaknesses.

We’re stable. Most likely we’ve stayed in the same house they grew up in and that’s a sign of stability and familiarity. If, like me, you’re divorced, then your child has chosen the lesser of the two evils. Another likelihood is your child lived with one parent, found it unacceptable for whatever reason and is trying the other. It’s all about stability.

The bubble burst: It’s always dreamy to shack up with best friends and share responsibilities. To our children, it’s better (and more fun) than moving back home. But it fails fast. Someone ‘forgets’ to hold their end of the financial responsibilities and then the friendship is suddenly on rocky ground. The situation becomes unstable. The dream ends and the call arrives.

It’s all about love: When in a bind, they know we’ll help. Especially when our grandchildren are involved.

Then you say yes. You’ll encounter joys and challenges but there will also be opportunities. For me, it was the inspiration behind Grandparents in Business.

What’s your story? Comment below! Then tune in next week for part two of the experience.

Kris the Scribbler
A grandparent in business

(photo image courtesy of bigjom from freedigitalphotos.net)

Venture Café: Where Serendipity Really Finds You

Stuart Miles of fdpMy Venture Café number is 16. That’s how many events I’ve attended since December 2014.

I discovered Venture Café when a client suggested I attend one of their events at the Cortex Innovation District in St. Louis. I was hesitant to attend because, well, 5 hours was a huge chunk of my time. And I had work to do. And it was an hour drive, one way. Yea.yea.yea.

But, it was a new networking event and I’m always open to something new.

Upon arriving, I signed in and received a name tag with a large number 1 boldly indicating my attendance virginity. Like most first-timers, I skirted the walls and observed, falling back on some of my introverted habits. Then I kicked in my GOYA and got in gear. I spoke with other virgins and visited as many sessions as possible to absorb the Venture Café atmosphere.

Be prepared: VC first-timers may feel a little overwhelmed. With over 300 weekly attendees, there is a lot happening in those five hours. Plus, this isn’t your typical networking meeting. The idea is more about building relationships and solving problems rather than pushing for a sale.

By the end of my first visit, of which I lasted four hours and had almost lost my voice, I was impressed with Venture Café’s:
• Energy
• Openness
• Enthusiasm
• Variety

And I was hooked. Even though I couldn’t attend every Thursday for the full five hours, I studiously watched my inbox for Travis Sheridan’s event email and scheduled my Thursday accordingly.

Then I learned something: too often we believe we must be invited to speak, present or provide. We wait for something to happen instead of making it happen. The best way to make serendipity happen is to LISTEN:

• Attend a session and listen to what the presenters say.
• Join a conversation and listen to what other attendees discuss.
• Ask a question and listen to responses.

Someone, somewhere is looking for a speaker, a volunteer, a solution or something YOU can provide.

In my 16 visits, here’s how my serendipitous collisions occurred:

Gabriel Feldman of Aegis mentioned his need for Whiteboard Series presenters. I approached him with a plan and presented ‘Deciphering Your Audience’ in April. I had 12 attendees, picked up new LinkedIn and Twitter followers, and one referral. The session was also recorded by Mary Scott of Make Believe TV, LLC, and I now use that video for my newsletter subscribers.

Marc Bowers of St. Louis Makes and ProductCamp spoke about the ProductCamp 2015 event at a 2nd Tuesday Venture Café. Following his presentation, I asked if one of my topics would be of interest. With a little encouragement from Marc, I submitted a topic. The result: my presentation was accepted, I had 26 people in my session and came away with three one-on-one sessions scheduled. I gained 8 new LinkedIn connections and 12 new followers on Twitter.

Kevin Harvell of StL TechTalk offered office hours. Out of curiosity, I signed up to learn about podcasting. The bonus: I got to participate in a 15-minute podcast and received a link to the show (be the first to hear about my new blog & services for senior entrepreneurs!)

As a blogger for Missouri SourceLink, I also found several entrepreneurs to interview for their Entrepreneur in Action series. This included:

Mark Neville of FinVR
Nep Orshiso and Dustin Strashelm of Motavera
Eva Tucker of Knews.co
Ryan Brennel of Gladitood
Eric Stoddard of SYNEK
Maria Frank of Set My Table

Here’s my advice: set some time aside for Venture Café. Listen! Reach out. Then get ready for those ‘serendipitous collisions’.

Happy networking,
Kris the Scribbler

(photo image courtesy of Stuart Miles of freedigitalphotos.net)

Spell Check, Auto Correct and Human Error: Which is More Accurate?

digitalart at freedigitalphotos.netWriting is a task that has haunted many of us throughout our lives. It started with all those essay-writing classes in high school and college. As we slogged through the horror and boredom of writing a persuasive essay on school uniforms, we wondered what possible use this would have when we grew up.

Now that you own a business, you know: we must write convincing messages to attract our audience.

The stakes are much higher too: a paycheck vs a grade.

We always seek ways to make writing easier, but despite the inventions, it’s one of those tasks that will continue to require personal attention. Consider the following paragraph:

Deer Fiends,

I’m righting today to explain the importance of spelling and grammar. Too many people really on spell check. Adz you can see it isn’t reliable. How due ewe feel reading this? Ids it confusing? Too many people right fast than hit sent. Allot of use don’t like two right. Or you won off them? Unless you love to right, it’s a chore and most business owners don’t want two spend to mush thyme. Shore, this is an extreme example, but it represents the value of care fool writing and rereading.

Terrible, right? However, this passes all the ‘check’ features. Even though we try to set aside some undisturbed time to create our content, interferences often occur. Plus, if we are running behind schedule and the writer’s overwhelm builds up, then the tendency is to just write then hit send. How many times have you spotted your own errors just after hitting send?

To avoid these mistakes, try one or all of these ideas to help:

Ideas come at any time; have a notepad and pen available to scribble your ideas down. Don’t lose that thought. Now is a good time to write fast.

Just write: while this can be detrimental when we’re in a hurry, when you are initially writing a blog, a letter or even an email, it’s okay to write fast. That way you’re one brain cell ahead of the internal editor.

For emails: add the recipient’s address at the end. It’s too easy to be in the midst of an email draft and accidentally hit send. Ugh! After your e-signature is added, then it’s safe to add the email address and hit send.

Let it simmer: yes, we’re all in a hurry, but stepping away from your computer long enough to stretch your muscles or get a drink is enough time to cleanse the mental palate. Return to your document and reread. How many errors did you catch?

Is it lengthy? The longer the document, the easier it is to miss our own mistakes. During your simmer stage, let a co-worker read your work. Let him or her make the changes or send the work back with track changes. It may slow the progress—a little—but this step eliminates the embarrassing mistakes, and the potential to lose your audience.

It’s normal to make mistakes, but when it comes to business writing, don’t rely on spell check for your messages. The human touch is your best tool.

Happy writing!
Kris the Scribbler

photo credit goes to digitalart of freedigitalphotos.net

Need a Motivational Boost? These Songs, Books & Movies Will Perk You Up

Stuart Miles from fdp.netNeed a Motivational Boost? These Songs, Books & Movies Will Perk You Up

Last month I shared the favorite coping skills from women I interviewed for The Women’s Journals. Time with friends, exercise, faith and family were most helpful to them.

As business owners (or, simply, human beings) we all encounter the occasional need for a motivational nudge when we have a big meeting coming up, an important interview, or a little extra courage to move us through a rough spot. When those moments hit me, I grab these movies (most of which have been adapted from books). However, these are so good, they are on my most-watched list:

African Queen
Burlesque
Down Periscope
Julie & Julia
King’s Speech
Major League
Memoirs of a Geisha
Radio
Sea Biscuit
Secretariat
Take the Lead

Each has its own distinct message of overcoming odds, internal, or external conflicts—sometimes all three. Depending on the situation, most of us can related with the characters and the situation. These movies always give me a boost of, “You can do it!”

For a musical nudge, the songs below always pick me up. I’ve included snippets of the lyrics for quick reference.

What songs, books or movies give you a boost? Share below. Let’s build our boost list together  🙂

Happy writing!
Kris the Scribbler

(photo credit goes to Stuart Miles of freedigitalphotos.net)

Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man) by Styx

You see the world through your cynical eyes
You’re a troubled young man I can tell
You’ve got it all in the palm of your hand
But your hand’s wet with sweat and your head needs a rest

And you’re fooling yourself if you don’t believe it
You’re kidding yourself if you don’t believe it
How can you be such an angry young man
When your future looks quite bright to me
How can there be such a sinister plan
That could hide such a lamb, such a caring young man

You’re fooling yourself if you don’t believe it
You’re kidding yourself if you don’t believe it
Get up, get back on your feet
You’re the one they can’t beat and you know it
Come on, let’s see what you’ve got
Just take your best shot and don’t blow it

You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me by Cher (from the movie Burlesque)

Feeling broken
Barely holding on
But there’s just something so strong
Somewhere inside me
And I am down but I’ll get up again
Don’t count me out just yet

I’ve been brought down to my knees
And I’ve been pushed way past the point of breaking
But I can take it
I’ll be back
Back on my feet
This is far from over
You haven’t seen the last of me

They can say that
I won’t stay around
But I’m gonna stand my ground
You’re not gonna stop me
You don’t know me
You don’t know who I am
Don’t count me out so fast

Making It by David Naughton (a favorite of mine from 1979…yes, I had a thing for disco, but the message is still great!)

I’m solid gold, I’ve got the goods
They stand when I walk through the neighborhoods
I’m makin’ it, I’ve got the chance, I’m takin’ it no more
No more fakin’ it, this time in life, I’m makin’ it

Hello Uptown, Goodbye poverty
The top of the ladder is waiting for me

Listen everyone here, this coming year’s gonna be my year
I’m as bad as they come, number two to no one, I’ve got looks
I’ve got brains and I’m breakin’ these chains, make some room now
Dig what you see, success is mine ’cause I’ve got the key
I’m makin’ it