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Wishful Thinking Has A Lot of Power. Don’t Allow It.

I’m a very optimistic person.  I cultivate and protect 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 when I walked away from it. It gives me energy and motivation.  But, like all things in life, there is a shadow that often masquerades as optimism.  What is it?  Introducing 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 wishful thinking 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.”  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.” 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.  

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…

So what’s the solution?  Execute, execute, execute.  Nothing gets done without activity.  Pick up the phone and make sales calls. Write that content.  Create new campaigns. Innovate new products.  Do what it takes to get “it” done.

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, clean your house, create an employee manual, or shed the pounds. Hope does not improve your job.  Hope cannot change a person’s heart. You can’t wish away your problems.   Hope may not be a strategy, but it is a promise that your life gets (much) better with optimism AND execution.  

Wishful thinking has a lot of power and it can derail even the best intentions.  Stop surviving, take back that power, execute, 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!  That’s 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?

journal

But, 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 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 with your handwriting 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 at the end of each night, I give myself the gift of an “Amish Hour” (an 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!

Your Happy Warrior (a person undiscouraged even in the face of difficulties; plucky crusader),

Annette de Lancey Giacomazzi

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

Doubters and Pouters, Boosters and Backers

boosters and backers“Tell me with whom you associate, and I will tell you who you are.”  Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe.  German author and statesman (1800’s)

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Jim Rohn, Author, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker (late 1900’s)

“You are who you associate with. Look around at your 5 closest friends and that’s who you are.  If you don’t want to be that person, you know what you’ve gotta do.”  Will Smith, actor (contemporary)

“Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”  Unknown

“He who walks with wise friends will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer.” Proverbs 13:20

Timeless advice from all walks of life.  Quick, name the 5 people that you spend the most time with.  How would you categorize them?   As a…

  • Doubter and Pouter?

Or as a

  • Booster and Backer?

You need to associate with people that motivate and inspire you, who lift you up. You need to surround yourself with people that challenge you to be a better you. Surround yourself with dreamers and doers, movers and shakers, boosters and backers.  But, mostly surround yourself with people who believe in you, especially when you don’t.

If the people closest to you (family, employees, clients, friends,…) are not supportive, it is even more imperative that you find a strong support network.  Sadly, it may be time to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Though painful and possibly scary, you may have to release relationships that aren’t serving you well, anymore.


Just as important: who are YOU to your 5 closest people?  Are you a Doubter and Pouter or a Booster and a Backer?

Your Happy Warrior (a person undiscouraged even in the face of difficulties; a plucky crusader),

Annette de Lancey Giacomazzi

 

 

How can I change someone?

We are all wired differently.  We don’t always agree.  How can you change someone so you are on the same page?

Simply answered?  You can’t. But, you can change your reactions to events, people and situations. Especially if you witness a pattern in your life that doesn’t serve you or others.  If you hear yourself saying/thinking, “If they would just (fill in the blank).” Or, “If they just wouldn’t (fill in the blank)” more often than not, then you need to look within, not out.  The exception to is, if in their presence you feel bad, confused or unworthy, you don’t need to invest any time in “changing” them.  You need to move on. A healthy, dynamic relationship will bring out the best in you and others, not the worst.


Change SomeoneA look in the mirror:                                                                                Do you have that nagging sense that you are making someone feel perpetually bad, confused or unworthy? It’s time for serious reflection on what you are and aren’t bringing to the table.  Look at your underlying heart-attitude and behaviors.


 

   As always, your family-friendly, helpful comments are welcome!

Introducing FREE Download: 7 Snark Stoppers. How to Stop or Slow-Down Your Husband’s Hurtful Comments

7-snark-stoppers-coverI’m so excited to GIVE YOU A FREE (and HELPFUL) GIFT! Introducing my free ebook, “7 Snark Stoppers. How to Stop or Slow-Down Your Husband’s Hurtful Comments.”  Some time ago, I realized that to give my business my best efforts, I had to create some peace with my husband. The first order of business was to change the dynamics of my communication style with my husband.  This ebook provides you with pointed advice and seven practical tools to get out of a rut and replace what may have become bad communication habits.

I’ve been in your shoes.  My husband had a very critical communication style and I didn’t have the tools to deal with it correctly.  This created a challenging and oftentimes chaotic marriage.  This ebook is intended to give you some tools for dealing with criticism, snarky comments, back-handed sass and intentionally hurtful remarks.

7 Snark Stoppers are ready-made, field-tested, phrases to help you stop, or at the very least, slow-down, the onslaught of negativity and verbal abuse, without going to the dark side. ONE of you must remain grounded! 🙂 Just like exercise videos, I have created a beginner and an advanced option for each Snark Stopper. I urge you to select one or two Snark Stoppers and start with the beginner option.  Commit it/them to memory so you’ll be prepared when the next “exchange” occurs.   After you’ve naturally used it, several times, progress to the advanced option.  Be sure to rehearse it and make it yours.

Just fill out the form to the right and we will email you a PDF copy of, “7 Snark Stoppers, How To Stop or Slow-Down Your Husband’s Hurtful Comments.

I pray and hope that interactions with your husband will transform from cynical, sarcastic exchanges to meaningful connections that provide a pathway to appreciation and compromise.  In other words, a grown-up relationship that provides security, safety, and love.

As always, please let our wonderful community of women who share what you’re experiencing know what worked for you, what didn’t, or any new suggestions with a family-friendly comment, below.

I’m in Your Corner!

P.S.  Many of these will work with sassy co-workers and teenagers, too! 🙂

Communicating is not the answer

CommunicatingHow many times have you said (or thought) after an altercation, of any degree, with anyone, “This would be so much easier if we/he/she could just communicate!” Communication is when two or more people are trying to get their point across.

What’s missing is the lack of trying to understand the other’s point of view, perspective, or opinion. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, but instead, they listen with the intent to reply.

A genuine effort to try to understand is accomplished by asking relevant, thoughtful questions.  For example, asking leading questions, such as, “Why do you think that?” or “What aspect are you referring to?” or “How certain are you of this?” or “Why did you say that?” will go a long way in forging communication a connection.

It’s only with connection that you can touch the heart.  Think about how you feel when someone asks you thoughtful questions.  You feel cherished, valued, important.  Do the same for those you love or are close to.  Heck, try it with the grocery clerk.  You’ll be amazed at the heart print you’ll leave behind.


CHALLENGE:  For the next 3 days, I challenge you to put down your need to reply/defend/say something pithy, witty or funny and just listen to everyone you have a conversation with. Don’t listen with the intent to reply, but listen to ask more questions.  Really try to connect. “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Let us know what happened, below, in the comments section.

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.

 

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.  Mike’s premise and the book’s bottom-line:  profit shouldn’t be considered last.  My company is leaner and more profitable since I read the book (about 3 years ago). Oh, and it is an entertaining, laugh-out-loud, “uh-huh, that is so me!” read.

  •  Professional Development

Education, Leadership Training, Coaching, Motivation, Success, and Industry Certifications.  No one operates in a vacuum.  In fact, we’re often (too often) in our own head and it’s kinda myopic in there. 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.  Commit to reading 2 dozen business books a year, that’s only 2 p/month. Considering it takes 3-4 hours for the average reader to read and absorb a book, multiply that by 2 books p/month, that’s only 10-15 minutes a day. Audiobooks are fine.  But, recent research shows reading engages (good) parts of the brain that listening doesn’t. Don’t know where to start?  Read E-Myth, by Richard Gerber, it’s a seminal business classic.  He distills why we all need to process our business functions.  And it’s a 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 their fees.  On that note, if you expect people to pay for your time, you need to walk that walk, too.

  • 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.  If you’re like me, you’ll be converting her pies to your widgets.

  • 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? I guarantee you, you are leaving dollars on the table if you have no formal process or 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: what worked?  what didn’t? 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? Will I leave it as a legacy for my family? Should I liquidate? Should I sell? To whom? My employees? A competitor or a strategic partner? How do I prepare for maximum value and a meaningful exit regardless if I leave it as a legacy, close it down through a liquidation or a sale?   

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 change the way you manage your business and your team.

What did I miss?  Post your helpful comments below.

 

Is your business your lover?

Is Your Business your lover?Ahh, February, the manufactured month of celebrating love.  🙂 Remember the first few months of being in love?  All you could do is think of HIM. Talk about HIM.  Dream about HIM. Give HIM your best. Be your best for HIM.  Think about out-of-the-box creative plans for HIM.  Spend a lot of time with HIM even to the point of forgetting you had a life outside of HIM. And boy, did HE respond.   It was thrilling, exhilarating, even seductive.  You’re smiling, aren’t you?

Now, let’s replace HIM with YB, aka Your Business. All you can do is think of YB.   Talk about YB.  Dream about YB. Give YB your best effort, attitude, and hours.  Be your best for YB.  Think about out-of-the-box creative plans for YB.  Spend a lot of time with YB even to the point of forgetting you had a life outside of YB.  And boy, did YB respond.   It was thrilling, exhilarating, even seductive. Are you smiling? Or squirming?  Listen to what your body is telling you.

If you’re like me, you love to go to work, you love to work in your work and you love to work on your work.   It’s the place where the amount of effort you put in is often rewarded by a factor of X.   For me, work is my happy place. I invest in my employees, my customers, my systems, and my product/services.  And by invest, I don’t mean just money.  I mean I invest all my resources, including my most valuable of resources, my time and energy.  But the real seduction?  I can create the environment and a culture. Talk about an ego boost! I’ve been described as a workaholic. The term has even been hurled at me, repeatedly.   It’s something I wear as a badge.  A big badge. And I’m proud of it.

But, that’s the problem.   When pride enters the picture, love leaves.  The devotion I have to my business may be a source of provision, a creative outlet, and in my case, a safe and happy place (read: an escape from the hurt at home). But, denying those that love me, and sacrificing my most important relationships can have devastating consequences.  Give to your business.  But, save the best for those that love you and those you love.

I look forward to reading your helpful comments and observations, below.

Your Happy Warrior (a person undiscouraged even in the face of difficulties; a plucky crusader),

Annette de Lancey Giacomazzi