My First "Make It Happen" Moment

My first Make It Happen Moment happened 19 years ago next week. I went to Girls State as a summer senior and decided I wanted to run for one of the highest offices: Governor. While public speaking and current events were “my thing” at that time, I had never won a student body office (and I ran EVERY year from sixth grade on). I’m not entirely sure what made me think I could do it, but I started the week with hope.

By mid-week, I could tell my competition was going to be fierce. Some of the best debaters I had ever competed against were there and I knew they were going to run for a state office. The night before I had to file, I called my mom in tears. I told her about these girls. I told her how smart and bright they were. That they were state champions and 4.0 students.

Then she told me, “Michelle, Make It Happen”. She cheered me on and reminded me of a phrase we had learned from Elaine Millet. A youth leader placed in my life and taught me this principle that has shaped my life and my business.

And then I went to work. I gave 17 speeches over the next 3 days. I proceeded with confidence and strength. I did everything I could and won in primaries. Then campaigned again for final elections. My competitor was also a debater. She could also speak well. I remember standing in the polling line petrified. Then I had to wait 7 hours for the results.

When my name was called I felt the reward of visualizing something I wanted, but also working real hard for it. “Make It Happen” became my personal mantra and has shaped my life, my businesses and my future in profound ways.

Girls State changed me. And it wasn’t just winning. I left with a deep love for my country and the many men and women who sacrifice for the freedoms I enjoy. I am more patriotic, more active in my community and a better citizen because of my experience.

I’m also mindful that it was because of my dear Grandpa Joe that I even got to go. He was a member of the American Legion. Because of his membership I was given one of 4 spots to go – 16 girls from my high school applied. As I type, my grandfather is in his final days. I will be forever grateful for him, his military service and how this experience was made possible because of his courage to fight for our freedoms.Girls State Projects

Today, my house looks like a mix between a classroom and a patriotic store. Projects in every room, and on every flat surface. It is an honor to be on the staff of Utah Girls State. Something I’ve done for the last 15 years. questions to ask To give back to a program that meant so much to me.

The hours of work, the times I get to remind my husband and kids why this is important to me, the lack of pay (there is none)…it’s all worth it. Today I salute the women of Girls State 1996 who had houses like this, who sacrificed hours so I could have the experience I did. THEY made it happen for me.

I’d love to hear…what is one of your Make It Happen Moments? Or tell me about a person who has helped cheer you on through one of your Make It Happen Moments?

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Michelle McCullough ThumbnailBestselling author, Michelle McCullough is also a sought after business strategist and speaker. She’s the creator of “The Social Media Blueprint For Business” a digital marketing planning tool for entrepreneurs and small businesses. She’s been featured in numerous media outlets including entrepreneur.com and the 40 under 40. She’s also the host of a weekly radio show that hit over a million downloads at the beginning of 2015. As a mother of two young children she knows there’s no time to mess around. It’s time to Make It Happen. (Michelle’s motivational book “Make It Happen – The Success Practices for Peak Performers” will be out in 2015. Sign up for the Make It Happen Toolkit and you’ll be first to hear about it’s release!)

Mastering (and LOVING) Delegation

When I say “delegation” do you shudder?  Do you think of all the times that you gave someone a task and ended up doing it yourself or re-doing it?  Have you mastered delegation and the word brings peace of mind?  Do you think of an amazing assistant or employee that you trust implicitly?

I’ve delegated a lot of responsibilities and have have felt all of the above.  Peace and trust to panic and stress.  I sat in a church meeting a couple of weeks ago and the topic was “Delegation”.  It was so fantastic I wanted to share with you some of the tips that were shared and how I use them running my businesses.

These tips were shared by my friend Greg Danklef who quoted them from Lee Perry, a professor of Organizational Leadership & Strategy at BYU.  He shares 7 tips for mastering delegation (with my two cents [and then some] sprinkled in):

1. Decide what you want to delegate – Simple, right?  For some of us we don’t even know where to start.  I always use the philosophy that every task in your business needs to be done by the lowest possible position something I learned from the book the One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey.  I used to do everything because I was a one-woman show (I still am but have one assistant + use contractors on a regular basis).  Now, I delegate and outsource sorting my catalogs (get about 15 a week on average), mailing out catalogs, and other admin tasks.  What can you delegate, even on a short-term basis that would open the doors to more creative time that you CAN’T outsource?

2. Decide whom to delegate to – We had an interesting discussion around this.  We talked about balancing people’s talents and also their needs to grow.  If you run a company with a handful of employees growth is an important part of your business.  Though it takes more time to teach something new, employees who are given the opportunity to grow and succeed feel greater satisfaction with their work and try to work harder for advancement, etc.  But sometimes you also have to give jobs where the talent lies.  It’s a delicate balance.  When I’m delegating cataloging tasks, I can often give those jobs to neighborhood kids earning money for who knows what.  Other tasks like helping me find press contacts and following up on quotes take more time, training and talent and go to my assistant.

3. Make assignments clearly and specifically – This is where you answer WHO is doing WHAT by WHEN.  Take as much time as you need to ensure that the task is understood and answer any questions.  To this I would add, get buy-off from the delegated party that they can commit to the task, understand what needs to be done and that they also commit to the deadline.  This will give them structure and give you peace.  I also tell my assistants and contractors that I’m open if they have any questions during the process.  I don’t expect people to answer their own questions if they get stuck in the middle.

4. Assign an objective and not a procedure – This is where I start to shudder and certainly the place where I need to do a little work.  I often assign a procedure taking the “It’s my company” philosophy and hope that my assistants and contractors will understand.  Most do, and I do it with a great deal of charisma, but still. (Insert smiley face)  I have found that when I do share the task, but also share the vision of the project as a whole they buy-off a little better and their work is above average.  If I assign a task, I get just that.  No passion or opportunity for having it better than I asked for, either.   But that leads us to:

5. Allow autonomy – Give them space, don’t sit over their shoulder while they do it.  Trust them to feel the vision of the task and give them the opportunity to work their way and knock your socks off.  Besides, if you have to sit with them, why are you delegating it in the first place?  The idea is to free up your time!  And, they may get from A-Z a little differently, but as long as they get there, it’s okay! (Now, I know there are some tasks that require a specific process, but if the project allows, give them

6. Monitor performance and require reporting – I have also found as I have implemented these things over the past few weeks, I’ve started to give more autonomy, but I’m also giving more direction and saying things like, “After you’ve done X, lets look at it together and see what needs to happen next.”  This makes it clear to them that they need to check back in the middle of projects and also that I’m going to review and provide feedback on ways to improve mid-stream instead of being angry at the end when a lot of time has been spent.  They’re more open to my comments when I warn them before they start that I’m going to have them report in the middle of the project or at certain checkpoints.  And I think it gives them an opportunity to ask questions at a set time in the middle, instead of feeling too scared to ask, if that’s an issue for them.  This tip has been really helpful!

7. Give credit not blame – Praise the successes and the victories but don’t throw them under the bus if it doesn’t go as you would have liked.  Be the coach, be the person who trains them and works with them through the process that wants them to succeed!  And give them another chance on another task that may fit their talents and provide a benefit for you, if that one didn’t work out.

In just a few short weeks, I’ve seen how following this process has really helped in getting back quality work from those I delegate to and I’m loving the extra time it gives me and that it makes me feel like I can delegate more!  Do you have any other tips for delegation that you’d like to share?  We’d love to hear them!

This is a post I wrote for StartupPrincess.com

My Rules for Success: Flashback

When I was a trainer in debate in High School and college, I created a training on “How to win every debate round.”  I pulled it out  a while back and noticed that most of them are rules I still use today in my life and business.  With a few tweaks, I wanted to share these tips for success with you.  (I wrote this in June of 2008.  I’m posting it here with no edits.  Maybe I’ll update it soon!  Until then, these are a GREAT place to start!)

  1. You are always winning. If you don’t believe that you are the best, most trusted person in your field, why should they. NOT cocky, confident.
  2. You don’t have to be right. Sometimes we get so caught up in the principle that we lose site of what’s important. Sometimes other people can be right.
  3. Look at the big picture. Sometimes you have to take a step back, put your pen down, turn away from the computer screen, turn off instant messenger. What will mean the MOST right now? Don’t get caught up in some little detail. You can get stuck on the wrong point. You can also get stuck by not balancing all the roles that you play in life. Every day, every week, take a step back and say, “What matters MOST this week.”
  4. Kill them with Kindness I don’t care what they do, I don’t care what they say, Be nice. Don’t talk about them in the bathroom stall, don’t tell your friends or peers, don’t ever pass along anything negative. Nothing can kill your reputation in the business world faster than gossip.
  5. Always, Always, Always Be Honest It will always come back to bite you if you aren’t honest. You need to be honest to your customers, honest to your company, and honest to yourself. You also need to be honest enough with your customers and friends when to say, “This may not be the best deal for you.”
  6. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know”. You’ll look like an idiot if you try to stumble through some lame response. If you don’t know, say so, but smooth it over with, “I’ll find out and get right back to you.” and make sure you get back to them when you say you will.
  7. Keep your promises. If you say you are going to do something, DO IT. And do it when you said you were going to do it. Live by the motto, “Under promise, over deliver.” You can have the best product or service and kill it with dishonesty
  8. Know your position/be a team where appropriate Use your resources. Is there someone on your team/industry that knows more than you? Ask them for advice. Be willing to involve them in a deal. This also means don’t do things that aren’t your responsibility. Make the people around you do their jobs so that you can do yours. Delegate.
  9. Have fun. You have got to have balance in your life. You have got to make the time for the things that are fun, relaxing and that mean the most to you. Fill your well.
  10. Have a passion. What is your passion? What do you feel strongly about every day of your life? What moves you? What motivates you? Hopefully as a person who’s started your own business, you love what you do. Be emotional. Put your heart in it. This is the passion that should drive your life every day.

What are your rules for success?

This was previously posted on StartupPrincess.com with some edits today.

Book Review: One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey, by Kenneth Blanchard

Title: The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey

Author: Kenneth Blanchard with William Oncken, Jr. and Hal Burrows

End Rating: Purchase and Add to your Business Book Library (Rating Scale: Purchase and Add to your Business Book Library, Borrow from a friend or the library, Don’t waste your time)

Total Number of Pages: 137

Time Investment: Quick Read (Can be read in one to two dedicated sittings)

I first read The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey as a requirement for my Marketing Management class in college about 10 years ago.  I had already read the One Minute Manager, which I enjoyed, but found this to be a book that every manager and every business owner needs to read.  Furthermore, I think the principles in this book need to be understood at every level in the organization.

I don’t want to give away every detail of this book, because I’d like you to read it for yourself and then pass it along to others in your company to read and then return to you.  This could be a great topic of conversation for your next one-on-one with the managers in your organization (even if there are only two if you).  I do, however, want to share two key principles with you that will help you understand why I enjoyed it so much:

First, what is a “monkey”? According to Blanchard, “A monkey is the next move.” Have you ever been in a meeting where you left with a lot of to do items, and you wonder if they really belong to you?  Have you ever been assigned a task and wondered if that task is really what needs to be done?  Then you could be dealing with a monkey.  Once I read this book, I learned that certain tasks don’t have to be done well, if they just need to be finished quickly.  Now this sounds bad, but think about it.  Aren’t there tasks in your life that you don’t need to treat like a gold plated proposal to a customer?  Monkeys are tasks that take up our time that SHOULD be spent in other places.  Are you the creator of your product?  Delegate other tasks like bookkeeping, shipping, etc that can be done by other people.

Second, and to me the most important, Blanchard talks about the concept that “All monkeys, must be handled at the lowest organizational level consistent with their welfare.”  This single principle has guided my professional life for the last 10 years.   When working for others, I got lots of points for taking Monkeys off my boss’ backs.  I was a valued employee because I freed up their time to do what only they can do.  I pushed to have every other task handed to me, and they loved me for it.  Wouldn’t you love it if those working for you would take Monkeys off YOUR back? Now that I own my own business, and often I’m the only employee, I still find ways to have others help take Monkeys off my back.  Yes, I can spend 3 hours packing and shipping quarterly catalogs, but I can pay a neighbor kid to do it for me for $15 and my three hours are better spent on my marketing plan and execution, something I currently cannot pay anyone to do for $15.

I welcome your review! Have you read the One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey? What principles have made a difference for you?  If you haven’t read the book, did this make you think of a Monkey you can give to someone else?  Tell us what it is, and what you’re going to do about it.

The post was previously published on StartupPrincess.com