Why New Year's Resolutions Don't Work – Video

Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work

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The #2 thing I've been asked consulting with women entrepreneurs over the last 3 years

Can you guess?  The number 1 thing I’ve been asked over the last 3 years while talking with women entrepreneurs through Startup Princess is, “How do I get more customers?” (We’ll have a marketing conversation later… 😉

The #2 thing I’ve been asked is: “How do I balance my business and my personal life?”  For a while, my answer was, “If you find out, let me know!”  (and I was the “business expert”!?)

Now, I answer that question with ease and help women (and men) in all stages of growing a business AND a life through my Life Priority System.  They LOVE me for it.  I created this system based on the things I wanted to be not on my growing list of to dos.  Now my to dos still get done, but there is greater meaning to my days and my personal and professional life are thriving!  I’ve even lost 40 pounds in the last year!

This is the first time I have offered this strategy in a live public event.   My coaching clients pay hundreds of dollars to learn these strategies in conjunction with business consulting, but I’m offering them in this introductory workshop for only $25.  That’s right, $25.  This workshop is NOT introductory in content, it’s introductory in my offering it to the public in this way as I try to share my message with other like-minded business people.  And it’ll never be this inexpensive again.

Secure your seat by registering here.

AND, the first 30 people who register get a ticket to the “Pre-party.”  Make connections at Stand Up Speed Networking from 6:00 to 6:30 and then strap in for juicy content from 6:30 to 8:30 PM.  A good time will be had by all!  But you need to secure your seat for the event by Friday, October 17th to get the networking event add on for no charge.

Finally, I’ll give you a guarantee, if at the end of the event you don’t feel like you received $25 worth of goodness, I’ll refund your money.   No questions asked.   🙂

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Don’t Make New Years Resolutions, Make Vision Boards

Post Written January 3, 2009 for Startup Princess.com

I don’t believe in New Years Resolutions, but, before you judge (or think that I’m judging you) hear me out. In the past, I have started each year with a renewed sense of accomplishment and positive thinking.  I follow up this cheery thought with ambitious goals.  Lose 20 pounds, make X amount of money, send birthday cards to family on time…the list goes on. A couple months later I lose my positive attitude and stop focusing on my resolutions and then I fall into a slippery slope that ends in a mild depression. Then it takes me a couple of months to get out of my why-can’t-I-keep-a-resolution funk and get on with my life. Last year, at the beginning of 2008 I didn’t make a single resolution or a single New Years goal, I created a vision board and it was the best year of my life.

Though I haven’t been able to get back to my pre-baby weight (my son, Gavin, was born January 8th), I’m still struggling with getting birthday wishes to the ones I love BEFORE their birthday, and I had one of the worst years for revenue (are there bailouts for small businesses?? Just kidding.).  All that said I’ve never felt better about myself.  I didn’t have to get over the why-can’t-I-keep-a-resolution blues, which made my year all the better.

Does that mean that I don’t periodically set goals or evaluate where I am and where I can improve? No.  Does that mean that I didn’t have goals last year or things that I wanted to accomplish?   Certainly not.  I had a very productive year and made some great strides in my business.  I just went about it a different way.

Here’s what I do:

I create a vision board.  I updated it in September of this year for my session at the Startup Princess Touchpoint conference.  I have updated it for 2009 and am sharing a picture of it with you, here.  I like seeing my dreams in pictures.  I have a picture that represents my financial goals – even though I don’t put the actual number.  I have a visual of my marketing and media opportunities and ways I want to expand my business.  I even have pictures of the new office furniture I want, which sounds silly, but that’s the same way I got my new flatbed scanner.  I like visualizing myself having already achieved these goals.  I like to trust the universe and what God has in store for me, because I know that He thinks more good for me and my business, than I do for myself.

I take time, once a month, to relax, reflect, ponder and review.  I look at what I did, I look at what I didn’t do, and I look at what I want to do next.  Goals and resolutions are not a yearly thing for me; I work best in smaller chunks of time.  Though I get most of my success for imagining the end result and the big picture, from there I work backwards to break down my dreams into smaller manageable tasks and activities, and that’s where achievement takes place for me.

Finally, I say “no” a lot more.  I’ll admit I have a ways to go, but in 2008 I became a little more of myself and said no to events, opportunities and activities that didn’t bring me closer to the vision of my perfect life.  Sometimes that meant saying “no” to evening computer time and focusing on my family.  Sometimes that meant saying “no” to business lunches or partnerships that were more one-sided (and not in my favor).  I remind myself that my son is in the middle of my vision board for a reason.  I remind myself that I chose to own my own business so that I could have flexibility and so that I can rule my own time and not let others do it for me.

My final thought is do what’s best for you.  Though this one little change in my life has done wonders for my self-esteem and productivity, it may not work for everyone.  I don’t judge those who have blog posts on January first with New Year’s Resolutions.  In fact, I read them and send good thoughts to friends and family that want this year to be a good year.  I believe that there’s room for all of us to create the lives we want to have – even if we go about it differently.

What about you? Are you a successful resolution maker and keeper?  Do you have a system that has helped you grow in business and family? Are you making resolutions this year or is this the year that you give yourself a chance to try a new approach to life balance?

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.

Teaching Kids the Entrepreneurial Spirit

When I was in 6th grade, I started my first “business”. I LOVED to babysit and had a ton of experience, but after reading all the “Baby Sitter’s Club” Books (By Ann M. Martin) my friends and I thought we could create a babysitting club of our own. But, alas, it was a flop. No one ever called.

That didn’t stop me from trying to find other get rich quick schemes (I also got some great ideas from Zack on “Saved By The Bell”. He always had a plan up sleeves to make money quick!) or other kid-friendly business dreams. Fast forward to High School when I took a DECA class (DECA is a national marketing education club) and we also participated in Junior Achievement where we had to create a product, sell it and account for all our costs, profit and losses. It was a great experience. I never would have started my first “grown-up” business, Doodads Promotional Products, if I hadn’t found my love for marketing in High School and then studied it in college, which led me to work at an advertising agency that had promotional product needs.

Where did you first catch the entrepreneurial bug?

What inspired this jaunt down memory lane?

I just watched this fantastic TED video and couldn’t wait to share it with you!

I love the ideas Cameron Herald offers of ways to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit in kids, and especially love that he’s taught his kids to look for opportunities to make something better or cleaner in their own home for pay. How powerful is it to teach your children to LOOK for what needs to be done?

I also love Herald’s reminder to give your kids opportunities to learn how to speak, because communication skills are so important in business. I really couldn’t agree more. From a really young age, mom used to make us give talks and learn to put lessons and presentations together on religious topics to share with our family. I attribute that (and 5 years of competitive debate) to my feeling comfortable speaking in front of audiences and actually really enjoying it.

Click here to see this video

Thanks HP for Small Business (@HP_smallbiz on Twitter and HP for Small Business on Facebook) for sharing this link with me. It enlightened my day! My kids are only 3 and 1 months, so I’ve still got time, but I’m already thinking of ways to implement some of these ideals at a young age.

Check out the video, and let us know what ways you help your kids foster their creative business juices or better yet, what things did others teach YOU as a kid that made you the savvy business person you are today?

Previously posted on StartupPrincess.com I’m a partner and Fairy Godmother there!