Networking Fear? Start with GOYA!

No doubt you’ve heard several practices to make networking work for you, but what isn’t addressed is what to do when you the cat has your tongue and your feet are buried in cement. We can make it our goal to attend two or more networking meetings each week, but they aren’t helpful if we can’t get moving and talking.

For years, this was my problem. My pre-networking activities consisted of staring at myself in the mirror, rehearsing my elevator speech and practicing opening lines. Then I’d get in the car and practice more while driving. I would always arrive early, because I needed time for ‘parking lot panic’. However, my pre-networking habits have diminished and I’m more comfortable with networking events (I still sometimes get the jitters, though).

It didn’t take long to realize that if I didn’t get moving and talking, I wasn’t going to reach my goals. I had to make changes and do it fast and it began with GOYA: Get off your Ass!

Here are my GOYA exercises to shake the networking jitters:

Remind yourself: you are not the only one feeling awkward or uncomfortable! Some hide it better than others, but most networking attendees have the jitters. AND, they are looking for ways to start a conversation, too.

In case you haven’t read it already, take a look at another blog I wrote on the benefits of arriving early: The Early Bird Gets the Leads.

If an early arrival isn’t possible, look for people you already know. Walk up to them, and even if they’re engaged in another conversation, it doesn’t hurt to wave and say a quick hello. Most of the time, the friend will introduce you to the new person.

Reach out to those hovering in the corner, near an exit or who are paying a little too much attention to their cell phones. These are classic ‘I’m not sure what to do next’ cues. So many times I have been that person and am building up courage to just say hello. Now I recognize the same behaviors in others and they are the first ones I approach.

Most networking meetings offer food or drinks. If you still have the jitters, stand next to the edibles because everyone comes by to check out the offerings. It’s also a common gathering place for others building up their networking courage—we can look busy and attentive while nibbling on snacks instead of looking lost and awkward standing alone in a large room. Say hello to everyone who approaches. Mention how yummy the dip or the hummus or the punch is. This is the perfect opportunity to add, “What do you do?” In a minute or so, the person will ask about you.

These GOYA exercises have helped me ease the pain of reaching out during events. How do you handle the networking jitters? What networking exercises do you have? Share them in the comments below. (Thanks to Eva from Knews.co for inspiring this topic!)

Happy writing!
Kris the Scribbler

Introvert to Impromptu Presenter: How Do I Do It?

“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some it’s a Broadway spotlight, for others, a lamplit desk.” ~ Susan Cain

What’s it take to run a successful business?

For me, as an introvert, I needed to develop social confidence. That meant attending public events. Lots of them. In my first 3 years of business, I attended 3 to 5 networking events, within a 150 mile radius, per week. When my confidence wanes, or when I get too comfortable, I add more to my agenda.

This week I attended my first Medici Magic Meetup sponsored by the Medici MediaSpace, a new co-working space in St. Louis. Upon entering the room, several pairs of eyes turned to greet me—always an anxiety-inducing situation for an introvert. However, I implemented my GOYA strategy for a successful event, which included the dreaded saying hi to everyone in attendance. Individually.

Next, each of the 15 attendees were offered a moment to introduce themselves. When my turn came, with heart rate and blood pressure soaring, I introduced myself as:

A content development service which attracts clients and guides them through the sales funnel, plus an introvert coach to help introverts achieve their social goals.

Next, we were briefed on Medici’s event format where the audience chooses the discussions. No longer one to let my social fears hold back opportunity, my arm fired into the air, terrifying my brain into whipping up a topic before I was called on: Content Creation: Where are you in the Sales Funnel?

Throughout the first 4 mini-presentations, I listened, participated, while putting together an on-the-spot discussion. With 20 minutes left in the 2 hour meetup, Josh Levey, a co-founder for Medici, pointed to me and said, “I want to say first that you are the most fun introvert that I ever met!” (Thank you, Josh!) I stood, anxiety returning once again, and shared a quick story about being an introvert, my 2-hour parking lot panic and my reward system of chocolate. The crowd enjoyed my story and I noticed a woman, in the back, with a bright smile directed at me. My presentation went well, I received great questions, replied with solutions, and concluded with a call to action.

The result:

  • Several attendees and I had extended conversations
  • It was suggested I do a Ted Talk about my introvert experience—an opportunity that I would never have considered <2 years ago!
  • I arranged an interview for the Missouri SourceLink
  • I’ll be an upcoming guest on the TLC Radio show
  • I provided an introduction for one of the attendees

As I was heading to leave, Theo Clark of TLC Radio, called me aside and introduced me to the woman with the bright smile: Brittany Blount, executive assistant and radio producer with TLC Radio. As a fellow introvert, she was eager to ask me, “How did you do it?”

Again, I was flattered. I shared that I still experience anxiety and it’s an ongoing process to accomplish my goals. Then she asked, “How long did it take you to get over it?”

“It’s not something you’ll be totally rid of nor will you want to,” I explained. “There is strength and joy in solitude, thriving in our own company, and working in a quiet environment.”

With pen and paper ready, Brittany was ready to catch every nugget:

  • Acknowledge and accept your introvert tendencies; that includes the anxiety in social situations. Practice at home, in front of the mirror, and if you are comfortable, in front of family members.
  • Recognize your weakness: which part of a social situation is hardest for you: convincing yourself to attend? Introducing yourself to others? Entering an existing conversation? Exiting a conversation? Once you identify that, ask yourself what it will take to move past the fear.
  • Practice & prepare; have your tagline, elevator speech, and answers to potential questions memorized. Know them so well that you can present without freezing or Filler Words.
  • Go with a goal: what do you wish to accomplish from this event? You are there for a reason, so have your goals memorized so you don’t flee when the discomfort appears.
  • Make the situation about others: start by saying hello and asking them to share what they do. Then listen. But be ready, they’ll ask you the same question.
  • Reward yourself: not before, not during. After! Have that reward waiting for you in the car or at home.
  • Relax: even with your reward and the satisfaction of reaching your goal, you’ll be exhausted. Find a quiet place. Block off noise, people, and distractions. If that’s difficult for your family to understand, let them know you need some undisturbed time alone.

Getting to where I am now isn’t easy and requires ongoing practice, refining, pushing past self-doubt and sometimes tears. What keeps me going is the desire to solve content catastrophes for my clients—making the client my priority. With time, patience, and understanding, you can do it and remain true to yourself.

To learn more about my GOYA Strategy and introvert coaching, call me at 314-856-5747 or write me at kris@kristhescribbler.com

Kristen Edens
An introvert in business

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

Revelations by our Adult Children: Confessions and Lame Excuses, part 2

It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one. –George Washington

When we become parents, something amazing happens. Yes, we instantly bond with our child, but a sixth sense also emerges. The eye in the back of our head evolves. We learn our child’s habits and personality. We also understand the necessity of playing dumb if we want to have some clue of what our children are up to. When they start telling tall tales, we are (mostly) able to distinguish fact from fiction, but still brush off our sixth sense alarm because we believe ‘my child wouldn’t do that!’ However, the truth emerges later that yes, my child would do, and DID do, that often. Brace yourself for a collection of lame excuses from parents who knew better but were still trapped:

  • A daughter tearfully claimed to be short on cash and struggling to make rent payment. She asked her mother to buy a $200 chemistry book then a week later put a $300 down payment on a $1000 pure breed dog.
  • An Army-reservist son would calmly answer any too-personal query with ‘it’s confidential’, regardless of the question. This convenient reply continued for 2 years after his military service was complete.
  • When parents would ask why their daughter never called to check in at a required time, she would say she left her phone at home. Her cell phone GPS stated otherwise.
  • When a son was asked why he didn’t renew his license plates before the deadline, he replied he had been too stressed to do so.
  • While the father’s car was in the shop for repairs, he asked his son to pick him up after work since the son had his own car (purchased and insured by the father). After being stranded for several hours and finding an alternative ride home, the son stated his phone ran out of juice AND he had other plans with friends.
  • A daughter went against her father’s wishes and moved in with the boyfriend anyway—into an 18-foot trailer, on the boyfriend’s parent’s property. The city later fined the youngsters and it became a rush to find an apartment for the daughter, the boyfriend, and a menagerie of exotic pets. The father paid all expenses, only to have them break up a few months later. When the boyfriend moved out, he shut off all utilities and didn’t tell the ex-girlfriend. The daughter again called dad for help, claiming she had no money, as a pizza-delivery driver, to pay the connection fees.
  • Then there’s the all-time favorite teens & twenty-somethings have tossed out for generations: I forgot.

Are you cringing? What is a parent to do? My best advice is to check in with your spouse, partner or significant other to compare stories; they will vary from person to person, and you may be able to extract elements of truth from the parental collaboration.

On the brighter side: some parents are blessed enough to eventually receive statements of ‘you were right’, ‘I understand now’, or ‘I’ve learned my lesson’. Some of these lame excuses may emerge as confessions later in life, but for now, we must suffer through with love, patience, tolerance, and a little humor. Then maybe when the confessions roll in, you’ll solve some deep family mysteries.

What are some of the lame excuses you have received? What advice can you offer?

Kristen Edens
A grandparent in business

Revelations from Adult Children, aka Confessions and Lame Excuses, part 1

Ziva, 4, fights off garden dragon

Rationalization is a process of not perceiving reality, but of attempting to make reality fit one’s emotions.
– Ayn Rand, Philosophy: Who Needs It?

There must be something magical that happens when an adult child hits the quarter century mark. Some parents are blessed with an adult child that has become an asset to society and is either employed (not as a superstore grocery cart collector) or is attending college. Then there are parents whose quarter-century child still lives at home, in the basement, wandering from job to job or taking an occasional night class, as long as it doesn’t interfere with friends and gaming.

Whichever category of parent you are, there comes a time when your child will approach you with a confession. Sometimes these confessions are triggered by a conversation, a movie, a family crisis, or a streak of conscience. Some of the confessions I received came after spending the night in the emergency room with my daughter and granddaughter or after a pleasant afternoon together. Regardless of the confessional trigger, it’s tough to be prepared for the confessions; just know they will occur. Here are some of my favorites gathered from other parents:

  • One daughter was caught driving without a license at the age of 15. She snuck out of the house at 2am (on a school night) to visit a girlfriend. The friend wanted to ‘drag Main Street’ and then drink afterward. However, the friend drank too much, too soon. Afraid to call for help, the daughter drove the friend home but forgot to turn on the headlights which attracted the attention of the police.
  • Another daughter called her mother from her ‘friend’s’ apartment, asking how to clean an apartment. The mother was suspicious and asked why she was cleaning his apartment (knowing full well how much the daughter disliked cleaning her own room). Advice was given, but 6 weeks later the daughter confessed she was pregnant, linking the event to the friend’s apartment cleaning.
  • Another daughter confessed to creating a nauseating concoction of creamed corn and cocoa powder to convince her parents she was sick. The mixture was deposited into the appropriate receptacle when she was unprepared for school or simply did not want to go anywhere.
  • A son confessed that the broken car window was not the result of a break in, but hanging out with friends, getting drunk, and accidentally locking the keys in the car. They broke the window to gain access and concocted a robbery story. The son also confessed that he later discovered the keys had been in his coat pocket the entire time.
  • A son confessed that he sold the family silverware to buy cigarettes and beer.
  • Another son learned to turn the odometer of the family car back and modify his father’s tire marks to hide his late night escape with friends.

Are you cringing? Are you nodding in sympathy? Those of us who have received confessions are left with jaw gaping and stifled laughter. When asked ‘why are you telling me this now?’ most children would state they felt it was time their parents knew. Others would admit they didn’t know why other than to clear their conscience. At the time, there would have been severe consequences, but maybe since they are now ‘adults’ they are free from punishment. Is it too late?

And these are just after-the-fact confessions. Next week, we’ll explore the lame excuses our adult children have tossed us. Are you ready?

What confessions have you received from your children? Did you confess your sins of youth to your parents? You’re among friends here; let’s hear your tales.

Kristen Edens
A grandparent in business

4 Years Strong and 1 Million Cups Continues to Inspire

In 2012, The Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri introduced the first 1 Million Cups program. Their mission was to educate, engage, and connect entrepreneurs with their community and resources. In 2013, St. Louis added the event to their entrepreneurial activities.

An entrepreneur myself, I first attended the event December 2014 and attended their 2nd anniversary in 2015 (read my experience here). Now, 2 years later, I have returned from their 4th anniversary with equal inspiration, motivation, and insight.

Similar to their 2nd anniversary, the St. Louis 1 Million Cups invited past presenters back for a session on what they learned, highs and lows, and advice.

When asked how their original 1MC presentation made a difference, the common reply was the unexpected reach their video provided them, archived on the 1MC site. Secondly, their presentation validated their credibility and presence in the entrepreneurial environments.

The advice shared remains consistent from 2015 with some extra considerations:

  • Be persistent; stick to your values and your vision
  • Be humble
  • Maintain your focus; life will be easier!
  • Keep getting out there; entrepreneurs spend a lot of time on the phone or their devices. There is great value in meeting others, getting involved, and reaching out.
  • Surround yourself with a dedicated team
  • Be careful who you trust; not everyone will share your values and may sabotage your efforts
  • You know your business best; stick with your vision to avoid straying too far from it.
  • Apply advice with caution; while peers’ advice is well-meaning, it isn’t always the best advice. Remember that you won’t be able to please everyone.
  • If you build it, they will come; while this is the ‘dream’, it isn’t reality. Apply the wisdom above to attract the audience you desire.

When asked what fears they overcame, here are the replies:

Connie Fry of Pony Pizza Company

  • I dealt with a bug infestation in my product. It was devastating but I regrouped and overcame that issue.

Dawn Manske of Made for Freedom

  • I have a fear of failing so it’s the driving force that keeps me moving forward.

Nick Szabo of Get Swizzle

  • Becoming a new parent and startup founder was frightening. I struggled with how to take care of both simultaneously and emerged with extreme time-management skills.

Ali Ahmadi of AirZaar

  • Quitting my corporate job and the financial burden created fear for me. Also a new father, it was my child that got me through the emotional and mental turmoil.

Andrew Glantz of Gift a Meal

  • I feared my youth would be a deterrent; not having enough experience, not being taken seriously, and letting them down troubled me, but instead became the driving force to accomplish my vision.

Rob Rose of SaniTrace

  • I didn’t know anything about the food market or running a business. I taught myself while building and promoting my business.

In the short time since these entrepreneurs presented at 1MC, they have experienced growth personally and professionally. Ari Ahmadi summarized entrepreneurship best:

“Starting a business is miserable. Get up, get out and learn.”

The presenters, the audience, and I agree with his sentiments. We also agree that there is no greater satisfaction than to know we are helping to solve a problem in the world.

What problem will you solve?
Kristen Edens

Educate, Communicate, Collaborate: Top Takeaways from AMA-STL

What’s new in marketing? Attend a local AMA chapter or conference to find out in a knowledge-packed half-day event! I had the pleasure of being invited to attend the 56th Annual St. Louis American Marketing Association Student Conference. Even with ‘student’ in the title, each generation was represented, bringing with them insight, experience, and a willingness to learn and apply the latest marketing strategies for business success. As has been the norm, content is still a high necessity, but the manner in which it is created and distributed has evolved. Below are the highlights from the presenters from this high-intensity conference.

Matt D’Rion, Worry Free Marketing: How to Achieve Positive Impact with an Effective Website. 5 needed elements include:

  • SEO—search engine optimization, defined as any action taken to attract leads to your website. A missing element for many business owners is the SEO title; the more descriptive this title, the easier it will be for Google to rank, read, and direct your readers.
  • Website Copy—a critical aspect of the user experience (UX). Give your reader something to do. Make the click tabs easy to find and easy to follow. Take your readers on a journey that builds a relationship, serves their needs, and solves their problems.
  • User Experience—you have a few seconds to give your visitor what they need. If they don’t find it FAST, they are gone. Use this opportunity to generate an opportunity to connect, donate, or participate.
  • Lead Generation->Sales Funnel—keep your visitors on the site with calls to action and informative content. Make it simple to move through the sales funnel while building a relationship of trust.

Andrea Olson, Prag’madik: Building a Differentiated Global Brand

Andrea shares her branding expertise with this handy summary of 10 Commandments of Global Branding. While her focus is global, these points are equally significant regardless of whether your audience is local or international:

  • Understand similarities and differences across cultural landscapes
  • Don’t take shortcuts
  • Establish marketing infrastructure locally
  • Embrace integrated marketing communications (technology)
  • Cultivate local partnerships
  • Balance standardization and adaptation
  • Establish operable guidelines (customization)
  • Establish success metrics
  • Leverage core brand elements
  • Adapt and refine continually

Johanna Dettman and Kaysha Hanock, tSunela: How a Digital Marketing Partnership Can Impact Client Retention and Referral Patterns

The team at tSunela discussed blending traditional marketing methods with the social/digital marketing strategies that’s dominating today’s business strategy:

  • Digital marketing is easier to track; traditional marketing is not.
  • Combining both marketing styles allows a business to stay relevant, saves time & money, provides more flexibility, offers an objective perspective, and measures ROI (return on investment).

Their advice when partnering:

  • Don’t hide collaboration from the partnership—let everyone know upfront who is involved with your marketing initiatives.
  • Share research, data, plans, with other team members
  • Provide timelines for project completion
  • Review strategies to ensure consistent communication
  • Define roles of all involved
  • Do not take or accept guarantees: the environment is changing too fast to promise results.
  • Involve traditional and digital marketers in pitch sessions
  • Refer clients to one another as often as possible
  • Keep the focus on the client!

Keynote Speakers Eric Stisser, Sr. VO of Corporate Sales for St. Louis Blues and Jackie Miller, Dir. Of Corporate Sponsorship & Activation for St. Louis Blues.

This team discussed the marketing efforts of the St. Louis Blues Winter Classic. Both speakers mentioned that a lot of time and dedication went into producing a successful event, but the vital factors that emerged were:

  • Be polite, persistent, engaged.
  • Communicate!
  • Look up, not down—look people in the eye and get involved. Talk. Communicate. Leave your cell phone at home and give listeners your full attention.
  • Most of all: remember it’s always a team environment.

The current marketing trends may seem overwhelming but what is emerging is collaboration and cooperation across all spectrums, including marketing styles, generational expertise, and a wiser consumer. What can you bring to your business as a student, business owner or entrepreneur?

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler

Tweet Chats: A Great Resource for Continuing Education and Relationship Building

My first introduction to tweet chats occurred out of desperation. I wanted to attend a blogging conference and couldn’t arrange the time, travel, and expense around my business life and caregiving life. I was rather discouraged that I couldn’t attend and jumped online to research alternatives.

While visiting the blog conference’s twitter page, I noticed a tweet that invited followers to a tweet chat. After a quick search to discover what a ‘tweet chat’ was, I decided to give it a try.

A tweet chat is a live Twitter event, usually moderated and focused around a general topic. To filter all the chatter on Twitter into a single conversation a hashtag is used. A set time is also established so that the moderator, guest or host is available to engage in the conversation.

*Hint for newcomers: high tweet volume is expected. My advice: read fast!*

Even though my meager attempts to reply to an interesting thread were way behind the initial post, I learned A LOT, gained several new followers and have found many more Twitter Chats to enjoy. They have become a weekly source of continuing education, relationship building, online networking, also leading to increased reach and exposure. Another benefit is a crash-course lesson in Twitter. I have almost mastered Tweet Chat (a platform that streams chat feeds in a neat and orderly manner) and recommend you use this or a similar tool to simplify the experience.

Here are my favorite chats to date (February 2017):

#blogchat Sunday 9pmET/6pmPT: founder and moderator Mack Collier introduced this chat to discuss blog-related themes from idea generating, blogging platforms, tools, trends, best practices and much, much more.

#blogelevated Monday 10pmET/7pmPT: Blog Elevated is a chat, conference and Facebook community dedicated to bloggers and influencers.

#blogher17 Tuesday 1pmET/10amPT: is a chat dedicated to women bloggers and the annual BlogHer conference. Their mission is to create opportunities and build exposure. The topics cover issues related to these goals.

#contentchat Monday 3pmET/12pmPT: Erika Heald moderates this chat which brings together content creators and content marketers to share their challenges and best practices.

#cmworld Tuesday at 12pmET/9amPT: sponsored by the Content Marketing Institute, participants discuss the latest trends in content marketing and receive advice from experts.

#smallbizchat Wednesday at 8pmET/5pmPT: Launched by Melissa Emerson, this chat is a peer-to-peer mentoring program to help entrepreneurs get answers to their small business questions.

Watch your Twitter notifications for all the people who commented, retweeted or followed you following the tweet chat. It’s a good place to return after you’ve caught your breath, your heart rate has returned to normal, and you can respond in a calm manner. Here’s a tip: a lot of chat participants will continue to respond over the next 24 hours. You won’t be the only one needing to breathe and catch up!

Each of these chats are focused on my professional interests, but there are hundreds of chats covering an almost endless supply of topics. To view what’s available, Twitter Chat Schedule is an easy way to search.

Just beware: tweet chats are addicting! Do you have a favorite chat? Share it below!

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler

Business Mistakes Learned the Hard Way: 5 Entrepreneurs Share their Story

Where are you in your entrepreneurial pursuits? Idea stage? Development stage? Growth Stage? Whatever stage that may be, there is excitement and uncertainty. Many of us know to seek out mentors, business coaches, and peers about their experiences and insights. For good reason too: learn from them. Listen to their advice. Take their words of wisdom and apply it to your own situation. Yet, regardless of where we are in the process, we will encounter obstacles and problems. We KNOW we will make mistakes; we KNOW there will be failure, but we fight to minimize the depth of failure. However, there are situations that pop up without warning or they creep up on us to create havoc. These 5 entrepreneurs share their story and lessons learned:

Jennifer Tamborski

Jennifer Tamborski, Virtual Admin Experts: “Hiring people and being a leader is entirely different from the corporate world. I hired employees and set them loose, assuming they knew what I knew. When they came back to me confused and lost, I realized I didn’t have the processes necessary for my employees to effectively perform their job. It’s a process I had to learn as I taught them.”

Lesson learned: a clear, concise, communication and documentation plan must be established. Follow-up with employees is just as important as follow-up with clients.

**

Chris MacLellan

Chris MacLellan, Whole Care Network: “My theological background inspired me to trust without hesitation. That approach to life did not transfer well to business. I didn’t discover this until I handed over the IP (intellectual property) to a business connection in which the gesture was not reciprocated. As a result, I lost lots of money and my humility. It took a great deal of time to restructure my business, much of which conflicted with my trusting nature.”

Lesson learned: Life skills do not always transfer well to business skills.

**

Mary Scott

Mary Scott, Make Believe TV: “Create a clear, contractual arrangement for each project which includes payment agreements and pricing for situations that influence the service offered. All decisions must be clear and understood before the project (or any part of the business arrangement) begins. If it isn’t clear, it will cost a lot of time, money, and frustration.

Lesson learned: Do not rush into a project without the proper documentation.

**

Angie Monko

Angie Monko, Harmony Harbor Coaching: “I jumped into business without a clear plan, quickly becoming distracted by multiple business objectives. I didn’t recognize the situation until ~18 months later when cash flow and momentum declined. It took another 18 months to create a business plan and to begin recovery.”

Lesson learned: Create a business plan, follow it, and revise as your business shifts and grows.

**

Paul Heirendt, True Bearing Advisors: During my corporate days, I had ‘two young guys’ working with me. They frequently joked, ‘You’re not the boss of me’, which resulted in them learning very little and becoming a liability rather than an asset. I eventually left the corporate world and took one of these young guys with me. As his urging, we moved into his uncle’s free office space in downtown St. Louis. The caveat: the uncle’s son must become the CEO of my company. With no written partnership and nearly 100% of the company in my name, I dealt with legal issues, lost opportunities, lost revenue, and lots of bad blood.”

Lesson learned: It’s better off not partnering unless each member can prove their value AND share the same business goals.

**

These entrepreneurs faced some crushing blows to their business growth but regrouped, adjusted and recovered. Communication and documentation were the top business issues. How can you apply their lessons? Share your ideas or stories below.

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler

5 Exercise Tips for Entrepreneurs—Plus 1 If You Really Hate Exercise

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“True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are ever united.” – Wilhelm von Humboldt

Do you have a history with exercise? Or is it a love/hate relationship?

My exercise history began in my early teens. My brothers were teen terrors and there was a lot of stress and strife in the household. Retreating to my bedroom was one solution, but so was hopping on my bicycle and escaping the drama. What started out as 5 miles per ride quickly doubled and quadrupled until I participated in my first Century (100 mile) tour at the age of 16. I loved it and was hooked. I even pursued Exercise Physiology as a career and graduated with a master’s degree in 1990.

Needless to say, I love physical activity and exercise. It has been a long-standing, daily part of my life. There have been two phases of life, however, when I wasn’t as active as I’d like to be.

  1. Pregnancy—it’s difficult to exercise with 9 months of continued morning sickness.
  2. Entrepreneurship—building and owning a business takes A LOT of time. It isn’t easy to head out for a 50 mile bike ride whenever I want.

As with everything else, we must modify and prioritize. When I worked at Brigham City Hospital as an Exercise Physiologist, I spent a lot of time helping patients find ways to include exercise into their daily routine. Most of them HATED exercise. However, by the time they came to me, many had experienced a cardiac event and needed to train their heart for recovery and improved health. Exercise became a race to stay ahead of additional complications.

While many people continue to struggle with implementing exercise into their day or week, the more you exercise now, the better it will be in the long run. Entrepreneurs especially can benefit from stepping away from their desk and getting outside—or to your local fitness center. Entrepreneurial wellness (or as I like to call it, wow-ness) is up to us to pursue.

Built from my own experiences these 6 tips will help introduce exercise into your business schedule:

Standing desk: standing at a desk for a portion of your screen time keeps the blood flowing and the mind active. Even if your back or legs can’t stand for long blocks of time, you’ll find your strength improving, which will positively influence your duration in other activities.

Refresh and revitalize by stepping outdoors: how many times do you get stuck on an idea or a project? Do you agonize in front of your screen, forcing ideas to come from the black depths of nothingness? Then it’s time to step away and get OUT! Breathe in fresh air. Let the wind and sunshine, or even the rain, clear your brain. Do a brain dump and let things flow naturally. I find that fresh ideas come quick after a 10 minute step outside. Does 10 minutes sound like a lot? How many minutes were already lost seeking ideas that were stuck?

Get the family involved—especially the grandchildren (if you have them): Children are GREAT encouragement and motivation, plus we are viewed as GREAT grandparents for our involvement with them. They are bundles of contagious energy and lots of joy. Utilize their youth and let it rejuvenate you!

Stretching: this VERY EASY exercise form is often overlooked. Who doesn’t feel good following a morning stretch? Or getting out of the car after a long drive for a full-body stretch? Stretching is the easiest, do-anywhere form of exercise and it costs NOTHING! It keeps the blood flowing, relaxes the body, and gives us pep. We won’t break out into a sweat and we can do it before and after any meeting or event we attend. For introverts, it’s a grounding tool before and after social events.

Pump up the volume—the heart that is. Yes, you still need to get your heart pumping. Not the normal grocery store stroll we all fall into, but something that has you breathing a little harder and pushes the blood through your body—faster than stretching. Walk a block—fast—as if you are late for a client meeting. THAT’S the feeling you want when you exercise—whether that be walking, running, cycling, or whatever method you choose. The more times per week, the better, but we’re entrepreneurs, we’re grandparents, we’re caregivers…we’re BUSY! But your self-care must come first to be the best you can be, and exercise is a big part of that—for prevention, maintenance, and wow-ness.

But what can be done if you absolutely hate exercise? My first suggestion is to explore ways to stretch and pump up the volume. A little activity is better than none at all. If that won’t happen then eat healthy, make mental relaxation a part of each day, reduce stress and habits detrimental to your body, drink water, and maintain regular check-ups with your health care providers.

Your customers and your family want you around for a long time!

To your health and your success,
Kristen Edens
A grandparent in business