Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category
They’re small things, but each has the power to dramatically change someone’s day. Including yours.
Want to make a huge difference in someone’s life? Here are things you should say every day to your employees, colleagues, family members, friends, and everyone you care about:
“Here’s what I’m thinking.”
You’re in charge, but that doesn’t mean you’re smarter, savvier, or more insightful than everyone else. Back up your statements and decisions. Give reasons. Justify with logic, not with position or authority.
Though taking the time to explain your decisions opens those decisions up to discussion or criticism, it also opens up your decisions to improvement.
Authority can make you “right,” but collaboration makes everyone right–and makes everyone pull together.
“I was wrong.”
I once came up with what I thought was an awesome plan to improve overall productivity by moving a crew to a different shift on an open production line. The inconvenience to the crew was considerable, but the payoff seemed worth it. On paper, it was perfect.
In practice, it wasn’t.
So, a few weeks later, I met with the crew and said, “I know you didn’t think this would work, and you were right. I was wrong. Let’s move you back to your original shift.”
I felt terrible. I felt stupid. I was sure I’d lost any respect they had for me.
It turns out I was wrong about that, too. Later one employee said, “I didn’t really know you, but the fact you were willing to admit you were wrong told me everything I needed to know.”
When you’re wrong, say you’re wrong. You won’t lose respect–you’ll gain it.
“That was awesome.”
No one gets enough praise. No one. Pick someone–pick anyone–who does or did something well and say, “Wow, that was great how you…”
And feel free to go back in time. Saying “Earlier, I was thinking about how you handled that employee issue last month…” can make just as positive an impact today as it would have then. (It could even make a bigger impact, because it shows you still remember what happened last month, and you still think about it.)
Praise is a gift that costs the giver nothing but is priceless to the recipient. Start praising. The people around you will love you for it–and you’ll like yourself a little better, too.
Think about a time you gave a gift and the recipient seemed uncomfortable or awkward. Their reaction took away a little of the fun for you, right?
The same thing can happen when you are thanked or complimented or praised. Don’t spoil the moment or the fun for the other person. The spotlight may make you feel uneasy or insecure, but all you have to do is make eye contact and say, “Thank you.” Or make eye contact and say, “You’re welcome. I was glad to do it.”
Don’t let thanks, congratulations, or praise be all about you. Make it about the other person, too.
“Can you help me?”
When you need help, regardless of the type of help you need or the person you need it from, just say, sincerely and humbly, “Can you help me?”
I promise you’ll get help. And in the process you’ll show vulnerability, respect, and a willingness to listen–which, by the way, are all qualities of a great leader.
And are all qualities of a great friend.
We all make mistakes, so we all have things we need to apologize for: words, actions, omissions, failing to step up, step in, show support…
Say you’re sorry.
But never follow an apology with a disclaimer like “But I was really mad, because…” or “But I did think you were…” or any statement that in any way places even the smallest amount of blame back on the other person.
Say you’re sorry, say why you’re sorry, and take all the blame. No less. No more.
Then you both get to make the freshest of fresh starts.
“Can you show me?”
Advice is temporary; knowledge is forever. Knowing what to do helps, but knowing how or why to do it means everything.
When you ask to be taught or shown, several things happen: You implicitly show you respect the person giving the advice; you show you trust his or her experience, skill, and insight; and you get to better assess the value of the advice.
Don’t just ask for input. Ask to be taught or trained or shown.
Then you both win.
“Let me give you a hand.”
Many people see asking for help as a sign of weakness. So, many people hesitate to ask for help.
But everyone needs help.
Don’t just say, “Is there anything I can help you with?” Most people will give you a version of the reflexive “No, I’m just looking” reply to sales clerks and say, “No, I’m all right.”
Be specific. Find something you can help with. Say “I’ve got a few minutes. Can I help you finish that?” Offer in a way that feels collaborative, not patronizing or gratuitous. Model the behavior you want your employees to display.
Then actually roll up your sleeves and help.
“I love you.”
No, not at work, but everywhere you mean it–and every time you feel it.
Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing. If you’re upset, frustrated, or angry, stay quiet. You may think venting will make you feel better, but it never does.
That’s especially true where your employees are concerned. Results come and go, but feelings are forever. Criticize an employee in a group setting and it will seem like he eventually got over it, but inside, he never will.
Before you speak, spend more time considering how employees will think and feel than you do evaluating whether the decision makes objective sense. You can easily recover from a mistake made because of faulty data or inaccurate projections.
You’ll never recover from the damage you inflict on an employee’s self-esteem.
Be quiet until you know exactly what to say–and exactly what affect your words will have.
Sometimes the route to happiness depends more on what you don’t do.
Happiness–in your business life and your personal life–is often a matter of subtraction, not addition.
Consider, for example, what happens when you stop doing the following 10 things:
People make mistakes. Employees don’t meet your expectations. Vendors don’t deliver on time.
So you blame them for your problems.
But you’re also to blame. Maybe you didn’t provide enough training. Maybe you didn’t build in enough of a buffer. Maybe you asked too much, too soon.
Taking responsibility when things go wrong instead of blaming others isn’t masochistic, it’s empowering–because then you focus on doing things better or smarter next time.
And when you get better or smarter, you also get happier.
No one likes you for your clothes, your car, your possessions, your title, or your accomplishments. Those are all “things.” People may like your things–but that doesn’t mean they like you.
Sure, superficially they might seem to, but superficial is also insubstantial, and a relationship that is not based on substance is not a real relationship.
Genuine relationships make you happier, and you’ll only form genuine relationships when you stop trying to impress and start trying to just be yourself.
When you’re afraid or insecure, you hold on tightly to what you know, even if what you know isn’t particularly good for you.
An absence of fear or insecurity isn’t happiness: It’s just an absence of fear or insecurity.
Holding on to what you think you need won’t make you happier; letting go so you can reach for and try to earn what you want will.
Even if you don’t succeed in earning what you want, the act of trying alone will make you feel better about yourself.
Interrupting isn’t just rude. When you interrupt someone, what you’re really saying is, “I’m not listening to you so I can understand what you’re saying; I’m listening to you so I can decide what I want to say.”
Want people to like you? Listen to what they say. Focus on what they say. Ask questions to make sure you understand what they say.
They’ll love you for it–and you’ll love how that makes you feel.
Your words have power, especially over you. Whining about your problems makes you feel worse, not better.
If something is wrong, don’t waste time complaining. Put that effort into making the situation better. Unless you want to whine about it forever, eventually you’ll have to do that. So why waste time? Fix it now.
Don’t talk about what’s wrong. Talk about how you’ll make things better, even if that conversation is only with yourself.
And do the same with your friends or colleagues. Don’t just be the shoulder they cry on.
Friends don’t let friends whine–friends help friends make their lives better.
Yeah, you’re the boss. Yeah, you’re the titan of industry. Yeah, you’re the small tail that wags a huge dog.
Still, the only thing you really control is you. If you find yourself trying hard to control other people, you’ve decided that you, your goals, your dreams, or even just your opinions are more important than theirs.
Plus, control is short term at best, because it often requires force, or fear, or authority, or some form of pressure–none of those let you feel good about yourself.
Find people who want to go where you’re going. They’ll work harder, have more fun, and create better business and personal relationships.
And all of you will be happier.
Yeah, you’re more educated. Yeah, you’re more experienced. Yeah, you’ve been around more blocks and climbed more mountains and slayed more dragons.
That doesn’t make you smarter, or better, or more insightful.
That just makes you you: unique, matchless, one of a kind, but in the end, just you.
Just like everyone else–including your employees.
Everyone is different: not better, not worse, just different. Appreciate the differences instead of the shortcomings and you’ll see people–and yourself–in a better light.
Criticizing has a brother. His name is Preaching. They share the same father: Judging.
The higher you rise and the more you accomplish, the more likely you are to think you know everything–and to tell people everything you think you know.
When you speak with more finality than foundation, people may hear you but they don’t listen. Few things are sadder and leave you feeling less happy.
The past is valuable. Learn from your mistakes. Learn from the mistakes of others.
Then let it go.
Easier said than done? It depends on your focus. When something bad happens to you, see that as a chance to learn something you didn’t know. When another person makes a mistake, see that as an opportunity to be kind, forgiving, and understanding.
The past is just training; it doesn’t define you. Think about what went wrong, but only in terms of how you will make sure that, next time, you and the people around you will know how to make sure it goes right.
We’re all afraid: of what might or might not happen, of what we can’t change, or what we won’t be able to do, or how other people might perceive us.
So it’s easier to hesitate, to wait for the right moment, to decide we need to think a little longer or do some more research or explore a few more alternatives.
Meanwhile days, weeks, months, and even years pass us by.
And so do our dreams.
Don’t let your fears hold you back. Whatever you’ve been planning, whatever you’ve imagined, whatever you’ve dreamed of, get started on it today.
If you want to start a business, take the first step. If you want to change careers, take the first step. If you want to expand or enter a new market or offer new products or services, take the first step.
Put your fears aside and get started. Do something. Do anything.
Otherwise, today is gone. Once tomorrow comes, today is lost forever.
Today is the most precious asset you own–and is the one thing you should truly fear wasting.
It takes just as much effort to have a wonderful day as it does to have a miserable one. Why not enjoy yourself?
Want to have the best workday ever? Day after day? It’s not as difficult as you think.
These 10 tweaks to your everyday behavior will virtually guarantee you a day that’s not just enjoyable but allows you to get more done than you ever thought possible.
1. Start with 15 minutes of positive input.
It’s easier to achieve and maintain a positive attitude if you have a “library” of positive thoughts in your head, so you can draw upon them if the day doesn’t go exactly as you’d prefer. Start each day by reading (or listening to) an inspirational book to ensure that you have just such a resource at hand.
2. Tie your work to your life’s goals.
Always remember that there’s a deeper reason why you go to work and why you chose your current role. Maybe it’s to support your family, to change the world in some way, to help your customers, to make a difference: Whatever the deeper motivation, remind yourself that this workday–today–is the opportunity to accomplish part of that deeper and more important goal.
3. Use your commute wisely.
Most people waste their commute time listening to the news or (worse, especially if they’re driving) making calls, texting, or answering emails. In fact, your commute time is the perfect time to get yourself pumped up for the day, and there’s no better way to do this than to listen to music that truly inspires you and gets you in the right mood. Don’t depend on a DJ: Make your own mixes!
4. Stick a smile on your face.
It’s likely, if you followed the first three steps, that you’ll already be smiling. If not, stick a smile on your face anyway.
It doesn’t matter if it feels fake: Research has shown that even the most forced of smiles genuinely reduces stress and makes you happier. Does this mean you should be grinning like the Joker in the Batman comics? Well, yes, if that’s the best you can do. But something a bit more relaxed might be less alarming to co-workers.
5. Express a positive mood.
When most people are asked social greetings–questions such as “How are you?” or “What’s up?”–they typically say something neutral (“I’m OK”) or negative, like “Hangin’ in there.” That kind of talk programs your brain for failure.
Instead, if anyone inquires, say something positive and enthusiastic, like: “Fantastic!” or “I’m having a wonderful day!” It’s true that there are some people whom this annoys–but these are people you should be avoiding anyway. (See No. 7, below.)
6. Do what’s important first.
Everybody complains about having too much to do, but few people do anything about it. As I explained in “The Surprising Secret of Time Management,” 20% of your activities are going to produce 80% of your results. So do that 20% first, before you get to the 80% of your activities that is mostly wasted time. You’ll get more done, and you’ll get better results.
7. Avoid negative people.
If you’ve been following Steps 1 through 6, you’ll probably find that the most negative people in your orbit will be avoiding you, while the positive people will want to hang out with you and help you. Though it’s true you can’t avoid all the Debbie Downers, you can certainly find something else to do when they start grousing about stuff they won’t or can’t change.
8. Don’t work long hours.
Long hours are simply a bad idea. For one thing, as I have pointed out before: Long hours, after a short burst of productivity, actually make you less productive. But frankly, if you’ve followed Steps 1 through 7, you’ll be getting so much done that you won’t need to work those long hours.
9. Wind down and relax.
Once you’re done with the workday, fill the remainder of your hours with nonwork-related activities that bring you joy and help you relax. The analogy of “recharge your batteries” is valid. Failing to take time to relax and stop thinking about work guarantees that you’ll begin the next day with a “hangover” of resentment that will leach the joy out of what can, and should be, a positive work experience. overconcentration.
10. End your day with 15 minutes of gratitude.
As I pointed out in “The True Secret of Success,” exercising your “gratitude muscle” is the best way to make certain that you experience more success. Before you go to sleep, get out a tablet (paper or electric), and record everything that happened during the day about which you are (or could be) grateful.
You’ll sleep better and be ready for tomorrow–which will probably be even more fabulous than today.
But What About …
Now, I know some of this can sound like a stretch. It may take a leap of faith to give this approach a try. But before you push back too much, let me answer some of the questions I sometimes hear.
- What if something really horrible happens during the day? You’ll be much better prepared to deal with challenges than if you were already halfway to miserable–which is how most people go through their workday.
- What if I simply have to deal with a negative person?Tune out the negativity. Learn to shrug it off. If the negativity becomes too much of a burden, start using the extra energy you’re producing to reorganize your team or (if the person is outside your company) find a different partner.
- What if I’m too depressed to do any of this? If that’s the case, you may need professional help. None of these tricks require more time and effort than making yourself miserable, however.
- Do these tricks really work? Yes.
Members of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) attended a luncheon yesterday at the London Hotel in West Hollywood. Guest speaker Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, co-founder of Gilt Groupe (or just Gilt), spoke to both organizations about how her, and her best friend Alexis Maybank, built their innovative company. Alexandra had many years of experience behind the scenes in the retail world. Wilson managed retail operations at BVLGARI, managed leather goods sales planning for Louis Vuitton and even dabbled in investment banking with Merrill Lynch early in her career. Years later, Alexandra and Alexis have changed the online shopping experience for many people.
Gilt Groupe is an online, invitation only, shopping site where members are able to shop top labels at a discounted price. However, Gilt did not grow over night, but has flourished into a wildly successful company. Most recently Alexandra and Alexis wrote a book (By Invitation Only) in which they discuss how they built this remarkably innovative website. These 10 tips provide great advice for small start-up entrepreneurs. Alexandra and Alexis went from packaging boxes themselves to having a warehouse equipped with robots to package. Needless to say they have learned a lot on the way, but hopefully this is just the beginning for Gilt Groupe!
- The most successful and innovative ideas come from what you want in your life—or in this case what you want to buy.
- Personalization– This is extremely important to Gilt. When each customer logs onto the website, the site is customized according to their previous purchases.
- Apps are VERY important:
i. Design for each device (iPhone, iPad, Droid, etc.)
ii. Optimize for weekends and downtime (When customers have more time to shop – Black Friday)
iii. Speed, stability, and scalability matter (Gilt uses lots of pictures which can slow down the site, the pictures also have to be tailored to the different devices)
- Managing social media closely shows customers that you value customer service: Gilt has 2 employees managing their social media at all times. This helps with Q & A from customers and also keeps the company connected to their market.
- Contests are a great way to draw in more consumers: Gilt uses “wow sales”. Some of these sales include auctioning a Volkswagen Jetta for $5,995, which sold in 0.25 seconds (the company’s fastest sale)… WOW!
- Requiring membership to the website allows high-end designers to feel secure that their brands are not being cheapened by online sales. The time limit of the auctions also provides comfort to many luxury labels.
- Know and like your investors. Also, understand that there is no immediate payback; growth takes time.
- Find a way to go to the customer, while at the same time giving them a reason to come to you— make your company convenient for customers.
- Adding content to your site allows customers to spend more time on the website, although it is not always needed. Gilt finally found a need for content when they created Gilt Taste. This provides customers with reviews of different food and wine, as well as recipes.
10. Gilt gives their customers something they can access anywhere, anytime, at a great price.
After Alexandra spoke EO and NAWBO members were able to buy copies of her book and have it signed. Thank you to both organizations for a fun and information-filled afternoon!
Request an invitation at: http://www.gilt.com
How to stick out in the minds of your colleagues and customers–no gimmicks required.
In order to succeed, almost everyone—whether business owner or employee—must be memorable.
While you don’t have to be The Most Interesting Man in the World, being known is one of the main goals of marketing, advertising, and personal branding.
Out of sight is out of mind, and out of mind is out of business.
But if your only goal is to be known for professional reasons, you’re missing out. People who are memorable for the right reasons also live a richer, fuller, and more satisfying life. Win-win!
So forget the flashy business cards and personal value propositions and idiosyncratic clothing choices.
Here’s how to be more memorable—and have a lot more fun.
1. Don’t see. Do.
Can you speak intelligently about how clothing provides a window into the inner lives of Mad Men characters? Do you find yourself arguing about how the degree of depth lost in the Game of Thrones TV series as compared to the books?
Anyone can share opinions about movies or TV or even (I’ll grudgingly admit) books. That’s why opinions are quickly forgotten. What you say isn’t interesting; what you do is interesting.
Spend your life doing instead of watching. Cool things will happen. Cool things are a lot more interesting and a lot more memorable.
That’s especially true when you…
2. Do something unusual.
Draw a circle and put all your “stuff” in it. Your circle will look a lot like everyone else’s: Everyone works, everyone has a family, everyone has homes and cars and clothes….
We like to think we’re unique, but roughly speaking we’re all the same, and similar isn’t memorable.
So occasionally do something different. Backpack to the next town just to see how many people stop to offer you a ride. (Don’t take them up on it, though. Unless you appear to be in distress, the people who want to give you a ride are the last people you want to ride with.) Try to hike/scramble to the top of a nearby mountain no one climbs. (Trust me; take water.) Compete with your daughter to see who can swim the most laps in three hours. (If you live in my house you’ll lose. Badly.)
Or work from a coffee shop one day just to see what you learn about other people… and about yourself.
Whatever you do, the less productive and sensible it is, the better. Your goal isn’t to accomplish something worthwhile; the goal is to collect experiences.
Experiences, especially unusual experiences, make your life a lot richer and way more interesting. You can even…
3. Embark on a worthless mission.
You’re incredibly focused, consistently on point, and relentlessly efficient.
You’re also really, really boring.
Remember when you were young and followed stupid ideas to their illogical conclusions? Road trips, failing the cinnamon challenge, trying to eat six saltine crackers in one minute without water… you dined out on those stories for years.
Going on “missions,” however pointless and inconvenient, was fun. In fact the more pointless the more fun you had, because missions are about the ride, not the destination.
So do something, just once, that adults no longer do. Drive eight hours to see a band. Buy your seafood at the dock. Or do something no one else thinks of doing. Ride along with a policeman on a Friday night (it’s the king of all eye-opening experiences.)
Pick something it doesn’t make sense to do a certain way and do it that way. You’ll remember it forever—and so will other people.
4. Embrace a cause.
People care about—and remember—people who care. When you stand for something you stand apart.
5. Let other people spread the word.
People who brag are not remembered for what they’ve done; they’re remembered for the fact they brag.
Do good things and other people will find out. The less you say, the more people remember.
6. Get over yourself.
Most of the time your professional life is like a hamster wheel of resume or C.V. padding: You avoid all possibility of failure while maximizing the odds of success in order to ensure your achievement graph climbs up and up and up.
Inevitably, that approach starts to extend to your personal life too.
So you run… but you won’t enter a race because you don’t want to finish at the back of the pack. You sing… but you won’t share a mic in a friend’s band because you’re no Adele. You’ll sponsor the employee softball team but you won’t play because you’re not very good.
Personally and professionally, you feel compelled to maintain your all-knowing, all-achieving, all conquering image.
And you’re not a person. You’re a resume.
Stop trying to seem perfect. Accept your faults. Make mistakes. Hang yourself out there. Try and fail.
Then be gracious when you fail.
When you do, people will definitely remember you because people who are willing to fail are rare… and because people who display grace and humility, especially in the face of defeat, are incredibly rare.