Stop whining, blaming and complaining in its tracks with 1 simple tactic (and a cute kitten picture).

So, you are faced with another issue.  Yours, theirs, whoevers.  Stop whining, blaming and complaining immediately with 1 simple tactic.

Dee Dee Artner said, “Blaming others is an act of refusing to take responsibility. When a person can’t accept the fact or the reality, they blamed another person or the situation instead of taking accountability. If you have time to whine then you have time to find a solution.” 

I love that.  But, I take it one step further with all my critical relationships (my children, husband, employees, volunteers, etc.).  My simple tactic drastically reduces and in many cases, stops whining and complaining Stop whining, blaming and complainingin its tracks.  The tactic?  Insist that if a problem exists and they must “tell” you about it, then they must also bring to the table 3 solutions to fix it. Perhaps those 3 solutions aren’t applicable or realistic (especially in the case of a young child, story below) but what it does is shift the thinking to solution mode rather than stay in complaint mode. The other benefit to this trick is eventually the person will learn that they have to come to you with 3 solutions and they a): either don’t bring it to you or (even better) b): they figure out the solution and the problem is solved and done! Added benefit is children (and adults) start thinking strategically about problem-solving rather than having a reactive approach to problem solve.

Why do you have to keep children’s solutions in perspective?  I’ll tell you a story to illustrate. When I was a little girl of 6, I received a kitten as a gift by my beloved grandmother.  I Stop whining, blaming and complainingloved that kitten.  I called her Furful, because she was full of fur.  Well, after some time, it became evident that my older brother was allergic to her. My parents had to tell me the tragic news that Furful couldn’t live with us anymore and had to go to the local animal shelter.  I was heart-broken and in my wails I howled, “There must be another way!”  My dad in his infinite wisdom asked, “What would you have us do?” Sitting there looking up at my parents, I thought long and hard about my big brother (who I really didn’t like very much then) and how much I loved Furful.  I said in complete seriousness for my 6-year-old brain and broken heart, “Well, give HIM away!”  Furful you were never forgotten. 🙂

 

 

 

Reasonable Republican: I lived it, I’m not voting for it.

Reasonable RepublicanI’m a Republican.  But, I prefer to describe myself as a Reasonable Republican.  2016 will mark the first election in my 40+ years of voting that I won’t vote for the party candidate, Mr. Trump. Why? Because I can’t vote for a man that is so destructive.  He’s all about polarizing, not reconciliation. He’s about dividing, not creating unity.  He tears down, instead of building up. He’s about preserving his ego, his identity, his created image. And he preys on fears. Because I finally understand the wisdom that the words that come out of a man’s (or woman’s) mouth comes from the heart. And he has clearly told America who he is.

  • He defiles women, degrades minorities, mocks the handicapped and hurls insults on a whim.   You’ve heard the comments and seen the video clips.  I won’t give him anymore screen time by posting them. Nor will I use his name anymore.
  • Even with massive information to the contrary, he twists and manipulates the truth to serve his purposes. And somehow you start thinking, “Well, maybe he really did mean…” It’s a slippery slope down that rabbit hole, America.  And a much harder one to get out of.
  • He manipulates the rules to serve himself.
  • Impulsivity is fun at the beginning, but it wears thin very quickly.  Stability is what we all need and deserve. And as the leader of the free world, that’s what we must have.
  • Habitual gas-lighting to the point you’re not sure about your memory and eventually you question your sanity. Luckily we have video and audio to remind ourselves of the truth.
  • He lives by feelings, not by principles.
  • He puts others down and thinks it’s OK.
  • Shifting sands and false foundations.  Even if a plan is presented, he changes it along the way.   Nothing is wrong with reassessing and changing directions if it’s for the good of the whole or there is good reasoning behind it.  But, what’s unsettling is you’re operating on Plan A and he’s switched it to Plan B without telling you and you’re supposed to have somehow known about it.  Add in the chaos if you don’t conform and you’ve got a hot mess.
  • He’s reactive vs. moderate in response.
  • Yes, he loves women. As property.  When he’s bored of them or they don’t give him what he thinks he deserves or they don’t fall in line, they are discarded.
  • Lacking a solid knowledge of the basic constructs and history of our constitution.
  • I don’t care if he is narcissistic or a jerk.  He doesn’t care about me, you or us.  So let’s move away, far away, from his mistreatment of everyone.
  • If you express yourself and it doesn’t comply to his way of thinking, you’re nothing to him. You’re disposable.  As business mogul, Shark Tank judge and CNBC commentator often espouses, “You’re dead to me.”
  • Apologies are either too easy or not sincere.  Nevertheless, there is no remorse.  There’s a significant amount of, “Can you just get over this?” vs. “What can I do to make you feel safe with me, again?”
  • You leave a conversation with him confused and doubts surface about your own personal truth.

My dear America, it’s a privilege to vote.  But, the Republican candidate has told us who he is. Voting him as President could send us down the biggest rabbit hole this country has ever Reasonable Republicanexperienced.  Why? Because our culture, our vision, our values all start at the top.  Whether it be the parent(s) of a family, the principal of a school, the CEO of a company, or the President of the United States of America. We would constantly be defending our very person-hood vs. thriving to be our best. If we are continually in defense mode, we can’t flourish or thrive. It would be a systemic failure.  The great contemporary poet, Maya Angelou said it best (and often quoted by Oprah),  “When people show you who they are, believe them.” Let’s believe what he says and vote; for anyone other than the Republican candidate.

If we vote for him, we would only have ourselves to blame.  Part of the privilege of voting is the opportunity to write in a candidate. You don’t have to vote for the other candidate(s).  I’m not a betting woman, but if I was, I would wager that Mickey Mouse or Disneyland (The Happiest Place on Earth) gets more votes this year than any other year.

Excuse me while I listen to some uplifting music, smell some flowers, turn my head toward the sun and the heavens, and get a warm hug from a child.

As always, please post your family-friendly comments, below.

Show me the money, honey!

The standard entrepreneur and spouse dynamic can be very touchy.  As entrepreneurs, we have a high-risk tolerance.  Spouses typically have a much lower tolerance.  Entrepreneurs are optimistic and often obsessed with their business.  Spouse of entrepreneurs are often more wary of the business’ upside and don’t feel connected to it.  Entrepreneurs spend a lot of time with their “other” child, their baby, their business, which can breed resentment.  Add the dynamic of entrepreneur as wife AND spouse as husband and we’re all on new ground.  Now, throw in the different styles of handling money and that ground just gave way to a sinkhole. Just for added measure, men are typically more practical and women are often relational.  In fact, your husband’s practicalism can come across to you as resistance or lack of support. Put entrepreneurialism, male/female dynamics and different money styles in the same relationship and you have the potential of creating significant discourse in a marriage.  That just means it’s time for meaningful discussions.  It can take time, work and dedication to help our spouses understand our business, our dreams, our motivations with the hope they can become our allies. There is a lot of loneliness and heartache in the process, on both sides. Not just for us women, but for the men who love us and stay with us. But, I can help shorten your learning curve. And one of the shortest ways is to show me the money, honey!

Show me the money, honeyIdeally, your business is a profit driven business vs. a drain-the-family-finances beast.  The surest way to drive a wedge between you and your husband is if you’re not contributing to the family coffers, regardless of the reasons why.  Are you also sacrificing family time, private time with your husband, household needs, your health, to work on your business?  If so, this will surely add to his level of frustration and resentment.

For everything, there is a season.  When you start a business it will take up a lot of your time. When a major project comes along and you need to give it your all (think of the launch of a new product line, a book, being on Shark Tank).  Hopefully, you secured the stakeholders (your family’s buy-in) to pursue these efforts.  Perhaps you had a serious health issue, family matter, or life-altering event that forced you to put the business on the back burner, but now you’re going at it with all 8 cylinders.  Putting those situations aside, have you been working at your business for 2-3 years and you’re still using the business as an excuse to avoid your responsibilities at home, for not contributing to the family account? Check out this post, “Is Your Business Your Lover?”, for some additional insight. Additionally, perhaps you’re treating your business as a hobby.   If you’re not sure, here’s a helpful post for you, “Is Your Business a Hobby or a Real Endeavor?

How do you determine if he is just being practical or if he is resentful and unsupportive of you building your blockbuster business?  It is best not to dismiss gripes, but to respond in a compassionate manner.  Ask him what he is worried or fearful of. Listen carefully to his response. Perhaps he’s worried about the future of your retirement accounts or is feeling ignored or sidelined. He may even be worried about your health.   You can make bargains like Nina did.  A stay-at-home mom with a rockin’ transcript business. When she started the Show me the money, honeybusiness, Mike was very leery, so Nina made small bargains with him. Such as, if she made $X in XYZ time-frame, they can purchase/do ABC.  Then she upped it a little with each new bargain. Over time, the “bargains” gave him concrete examples of her dedication and the potential for the business. Barbara, a lawyer who struggled to get her private practice going in the early years, consistently hit income goals. In other words, she hustled and her husband worried less.   Nina and Barbara didn’t come from an adversarial perspective but rather worked with their husbands to have their goals met. You’ll also need to address the issue and come to a thoughtful, realistic agreement that you and your husband can both live with.

Have you tried those tactics and your husband is still critical and unsupportive, but you know you’re building a blockbuster business?  Well, you’ve come to the right place.  Humans are created and wired to connect.  And those connections need to be supportive, helpful and encouraging.  By the way, I’m not talking about rubber-stamper-yes-people.  They can be just as detrimental as nay-sayers. But, that’s another post.  We need people in our corner building us up, not tearing us down. The world and our own inner critic do enough tearing down.  The community at Till Business Do Us Part will support you (Hug) and give you the practical advice when necessary (Shove).

Hug and a Shove,

Annette

4 Words to Memorize BEFORE Responding to Others

If you’re like me, you wish you had a simple formula in responding to others especially during tense times.  Use of these 4 words will create success that can change your life.  This is critical for everyone, when tested.  There was no better test for me than parenting my children.  I remember a particularly stressful season with my 2 then young children when I spotted a bumper sticker that read, “Is it Wise, Kind, and Truthful?”  Bingo!  I had something I could remember and latch on to.  But, over time, I realized I said things that just weren’t necessary to verbalize. 4 Words Will Create Success

This happened on the flip side, too.  I heard things that weren’t necessary and detracted from the intent of the conversation.  So I added “…and Necessary?”  My goal, now, is to have my response meet all 4 criteria.  When I follow this, a lot of hurt and pain is avoided; mine and the person I’m communicating with.  If what I want to say doesn’t meet all 4, I don’t open my mouth.  It really is that simple.

BONUS:  If someone says something particularly harsh or puzzling, just ask them, “Was that wise, kind, necessary and truthful?”

Shi(f)t Happens: Change Your Path

Shi(f)t Happens to us all.  You get to choose how you react to it.  When faced with it:

  • Sometimes you need to change course, reverse course, change direction.
  • Pull up the stakes, break camp.
  • Do a turn-about,double-back, do a 180.
  • Repeal, Have a change of heart.

It’s Ok if you do or you must.  Just promise yourself to make it an adventure.

Shi(f)t Happens

Wishful Thinking has a lot of Power. Don’t allow it.

I’m a very optimistic person.  I cultivate my optimism because it has carried me very far through difficult times.  It is the reason I persevere during challenging times.  It has given me hope where there was none. It gives me energy and motivation.  But, like all things in life, there is a shadow that often masquerades as optimism.  What is it?  Let me introduce you to wishful thinking.

Wishful thinking is Polly-Anna positive which means you are ignoring your reality.  You have to think about the negative effects and/or consequences of said behavior or situation to discern what is good and true and right for you.  This usually means accepting that “it” is going in the wrong direction, “it” isn’t going to change, and more importantly, you can’t fix “it.”  But, what typically happens is we ceaselessly try to fix “it” all in the hopes of a-180-degree turnaround. We do this proactively, with good intentions, by establishing consequences, attending counseling or a myriad of other “trying” options. Most commonly we get stuck in the powerful lure of wishful thinking such as, “I know when (fill in the blank) happens “it” will be ok!”  Or another example, “But, if I just (fill in the blank), I know ‘it’ will turn around.”

Wishful ThinkingYou’re probably asking, “So how do I know if I’m in the snare of wishful thinking?”  Ask yourself this one question, “How do you feel the majority of the time about/when “(fill in the blank)?”  If the majority of the time you feel overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, worn out, anxious, etc. your gut, your intuition, your reality, your God, is telling you it is time to recognize “it” doesn’t serve you and it’s time to move on.

Caveat:  if “it” is an integral part of your life (job/a primary relationship/…) move on only and only if you sincerely and respectfully gave notice (the old college try) to the situation/behavior and “it” didn’t respond. Don’t wait till you’re beyond wit’s end, angry, or exasperated.  It’s not their fault you didn’t communicate your needs and/or concerns. And, no, they are not supposed to read your mind.  Not your boss, your spouse, your children, your employee, your neighbor, your pastor, your mother, etc…

Hope is not a strategy.  Hope does not reduce your debt.  Hope does not stop someone from treating you poorly.  Hope doesn’t bring in the sales, give you a good grade or shed the pounds. Hope does not improve your job.  Hope cannot change a person’s heart. You can’t wish away your problems.   Your life gets (much) better with change and execution.

Wishful thinking has a lot of power and it can derail even the best intentions.  Stop surviving, take back that power and start thriving.

Junk Drawer Journal

journalAs CEO of my business and my home I always had dozens of Post-it® notes stuck to the message board, my car dashboard, my computer screen, my bathroom mirror, etc… to remind me what my priorities were at any given moment and to record my random thoughts.  In fact, managing my Post-It notes was becoming a part-time job!  What a time-waster!  Until I discovered a simple trick that I incorporated into my daily ritual of journaling.  You are spending time, alone, in the quiet of the a.m. (and once more at night) with your thoughts on gratitude and big questions, aren’t you?   You’re not?  Hmmm, more on that later.

Here’s the answer to my Post-It Note overwhelm: I journal it!  It’s quite easy.  I have a self-created 2 pages p/day journal. The left side includes how I start my morning (Analog Only: no email, no screen-time, just sacred quiet time with my coffee and a book older than the Gutenberg press).  I also journal, pray and meditate.  Then I scribe Prayers for Self and Others, What I’m Grateful For, My Big Question of the Day (ask the what, not the why; e.g. What would happen if I…?” vs. Why am I not…?”), and a shortlist of the Top 3 Things That Will Make Today Great.  Is that not a great way to start the day or what? journalBut, on the right-hand side, I’ve titled the top of the page “JUNK DRAWER”. The sub-title is: Thoughts, To-Do’s, Scribbles, …   Why “JUNK DRAWER”?  Decades ago, to tame the paper tiger, I gave myself permission to have 1 junk drawer that I would put whatever-needs-attention in.   It could be dentist appointment reminders, coupons, quotes or thoughts on Post-It notes, gift ideas, etc. But, I would only get to it once a week or month. Or longer.  So, it became stuffed. The idea was good but the execution didn’t work for me because it was out of sight, out of mind.

The “Junk Drawer” Journal works because I write everything that comes to mind.  I don’t care how it looks or sounds. Its purpose is to just to get my to-do’s, my priorities, my worries, off my mind.  I’ve added my (short) grocery list, recollections about a gnarly conversation I had with Rick (my husband), list of calls to make, a cute memory of my children, household tasks that needed completing, conversations that need to happen at work, etc.  Sometimes I create 3 columns (1 for each business: CastCoverz! and Till Business Do Us Part and 1 for personal) and put what I need to do under each main category.  Sometimes I scribble a flow-chart or a picture of what I want my bathroom remodel to look like.  Most of the time it’s a combination.                                                                                                                                                                   smart-phone

But, here’s my secret to really make it work: I whip out my smartphone and take a picture of my 2-page journal spread.  That way, I can refer to the picture throughout the day!  FYI…this is for my eyes only and I don’t allow myself to judge me.   Caveat:  I still use an exhaustive daily planner.  Hey, no judging.  I have 2 businesses! 🙂 But, this works because my journaling is a random, free thought process.  Too many times, my “Junk Drawer” thoughts just don’t belong in my daily planner but they still took up space in my head.  Getting them out of my head and on paper in a structured, yet creative, format allowed my brain to focus on my important tasks.  

Journaling in your handwriting vs. typing sparks creativity.  Actually creating a journal in your hand is the very essence of creativity.  I would love to know how you keep track of your random thoughts, below.  Remember to always keep your comments family friendly, helpful and kind. We all need more of that.

BONUS:  Did you zoom in on how I end the day?  I write down nice things done throughout the day by me and others.  That always brings a smile to my face. Then I write down my failures and regrets (notice I intentionally don’t give them a lot of room).  Then I examine them, learn (from them) and turn (from them).  Then I give them over to God.  If I see a pattern developing of the same failure or regret, then I do some deeper soul-searching.   At then end of each night, I give myself the gift of an “Amish Hour” (and extended version of my 20+ minutes of Analog-Only A.M.)  No screen time in any form.  Just a good book.  But, I confess, I usually have classical music playing.  I sleep deeper, have more creative/less frightening dreams, and wake up refreshed, ready and excited to take on a new day!

Live, Love and Serve,

Annette de Lancey Giacomazzi

 

 

 

How Healthy is Your Business?

healthy businessHopefully, you check in with your doctor and dentist, annually.  You might even schedule an every 6 month cleaning at the dentist, and some annual required exams, after a certain age, or if you’re in a high-risk category.  But, have you considered doing the same for your business?  Your business has a pulse and you need to keep it strong to withstand market volatility and crises (they happen to every business, so it’s best to be prepared).   Following are some key performance indicators (KPI’s) or metrics that every business owner needs to know:

  • Financial Metrics

Cash Flow, Balance Sheet, P&L are the basics.  Make sure debt as % of revenue and net income are the basics, too.  Whittle that number down every quarter.   Be sure to include industry specific metrics, too.  As a manufacturer, I need to know inventory turns and labor rates. Another financial metric I watch is the funding level of an emergency account to the equivalent of 6 months expenses.  My favorite game changing book is Profit First, by Michael Michalowicz. Mike challenged all my assumptions about sales (expenses) = profit. Bottom-line?  Profit shouldn’t be considered last.  My company is leaner and more profitable since I read the book (about 18 months ago).

  •  Professional Development

Education, Leadership Training, Coaching, Motivation and Success, Industry Certifications.  No one operates in a vacuum.  As your company’s leader, you need to get out of the office and be among your peers.  In addition, you need to stay abreast of the latest thought leaders.  Have at least 2 business books going at all times. Commit to reading 2 dozen business books a year. Don’t know where to start?  Read E-Myth, by Richard Gerber.  A seminal business classic.  He distills why we all need to process our business functions.  Well-told story, too.  Take an on-line course or two to improve your skills and hire a coach; a good great one.  Your hand should be shaking when you are hitting that “enter” button to pay for their fees.

  • Employee Metrics

Appreciation, Retention and Development Programs;  Sales p/employee, employee hours (sick-time, overtime, accrued vacation time); company benefits, timed response and satisfaction rates for employees directly involved with customers.  Employee manual updates need to be logged, as well.

  • Customer Metrics

Without your customers you wouldn’t have a business.  So you better know this one up, down and sideways.    I know my customer demographics and my end-user stats (they are not always the same).  I measure the # of orders, the AOV (Average Order Value), LTV (Life-Time Customer Value [tip: breakout the profit, too!]), CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost), CPC (Cost p/conversion), conversion % (for e-commerce stores; otherwise closure rate), CRM (customer relationship management) stats, return %, pipeline stats (# of visitors to store, sources of customers, etc…), social media stats (# of followers, posts, re-tweets, etc…) every week.

  • Process Metrics

Process is more than IT or engineering.  Process metrics monitor, evaluate and improve processes company wide. From the simple, how employees answer the phone, to how refunds are processed, to the more sophisticated EDI for inventory controls, process is part of every company.  You think this doesn’t apply to your company?  Again, I encourage you to read E-Myth.  Mr. Gerber takes us on an entrepreneurial journey with Sarah, a fictional small town pie-maker.

  • Sales & Marketing Metrics

Though closely linked to Customer Metrics, classic numbers to follow are ROAS (return on ad spend) for each channel/medium, # of blog entries (and stats on those [tip: watch what’s effective and replicate it]), sales p/employee and p/account executive.  Do you have a metric to track follow up of calls, brochures, inquiries? Dollars are left on the table if you have no formal process system.

  • Strategic Metrics

I left the most important for last.  You need to spend time working on your business not just in it.  If you take 1 day p/month, off-site, to just think, dream and strategize about your business you will be farther ahead 1 year from today.

Things to think about are: where do I want the business to be in 1 year?  What does it look like? How can I get there?  Who or what will I need to get there?  Who are our customers? What do they look like? What do they need?  What can I give them?  What isn’t being met in the marketplace today? What strategic partnerships should I pursue?  What do they look like? How do I get there?  How are we perceived in the community? What can I do for my employees? What’s my exit strategy? Should I sell? To whom? My employees? A competitor or strategic partner? How do I prepare for that now?  Will I leave it as a legacy for my family?  Should I liquidate?

At bare minimum, you should review the above metrics at least once p/month.  Only then can you address problematic trends, or dedicate more resources to solutions that are working.  Once you have them identified consider consolidating them to a dashboard on your computer screen.  Domo and GuidingMetrics are two I like. All the info and basic stats in one place changes the way you manage your business and your team.

What did I miss?  Post your helpful comments below.

 

Should I start a business in this environment?

start a businessIs there ever a good time to start a business? It, in general, is getting a bad rap these days.  Whether it’s from the masses that don’t understand how (small) business is the engine of this country or it’s from those suspicious (or jealous) about the perks that behemoth companies provide their employees.  Click here for some of the most I-wish-I-had-those creative perks.  Many say starting a business is only for the young (Gen X and technology start-ups are often synonymous). Business is being generalized as greedy and bloated.  In some cases, “they” are right.  But, that’s globalizing.  Business in its purest form creates jobs, provides a needed product or service, pays taxes and makes their local communities better.

If you feel called to start a business, the timing is right in any environment.  Look at these examples:

  • Gerry and Rosie Wilson, in their late 60’s, started a small boutique winery, Wilson Creek Winery, in Temecula, CA, with 20 acres.  Now a multi-generation family business, Wilson Creek Winery has 900 acres, bottles 30,000 cases annually, hosts 1,000 people every weekend and has 75+ employees.  Beyond their winery, tasting room and bottling facility, they have a restaurant, a hotel, and picnic grounds. They are also known as the largest destination wedding event site in Temecula, CA.  They have been recognized and awarded internationally for their famous Almond Sparkling Wine served worldwide and on US naval aircraft carriers.
  • Publix Supermarkets, Columbia Sportswear, Little Debbie Cakes and other recognizable names were started during the Great Depression.  In fact, it may be counter-intuitive, but the % of entrepreneurship eclipses the unemployment rate when our economy tanks.
  • Joy Mangano started her household product mega-business as a struggling, single mother of 3, by inventing a mop. She persevered against naysayers, detractors and product failures.
  • And then there’s me, Annette de Lancey Giacomazzi, founder of CastCoverz!, and author of the soon to be published book, Till Business Do Us Part, How to Thrive in Your Business & Survive Your UnSupportive Husband, and author of this blog, survived and even thrived among unbelievable odds.  Not only was I in a battle with my emotionally unsupportive husband on a near daily basis, but my first (and only) business partner went MIA after just 3 months then requested a big check or a law-suit (buyer beware: don’t go into business with friends without a Partnership Agreement; especially friends that have similar skill sets).  Then, my first run of manufactured goods was flawed and couldn’t be altered or sold (another expense).  Finally, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer on my 50th birthday.  All those events took place during my first year of business!

Don’t let anyone denigrate business or your calling to start one.  Going into business is courageous, humbling and noble.  You can either have a business or you can have excuses.  But, you can’t have both.

Hug and A Shove,

Annette

The Power of AND

Power of ANDThe Power of AND is often lost in our black or white, left or right,  pass or fail world, what happened to AND?  Why is it either/or?  Did you know you can have a business AND happy customers (not to mention employees)?   How about eating (some) junk food AND eating healthy?  Yes, you can have a beautiful garden AND have someone else tend to it.  Did you know you can have a thriving business AND a healthy marriage?  Did you know you can believe in the power of God AND the eloquence of science? Did you know you can care for the poor AND be a capitalist? Did you know you can state your opinion AND have a conversation with a dissenter without hating (them vs you, you vs. them)?

AND takes courage.  AND takes presence of mind. AND takes work.  AND takes intention. AND requires a higher level of brain power. AND requires more of us. But, anything worthwhile is worth working on.