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Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

Lessons from the Patriots’ 2017 Super Bowl Win

Although I am not a devout NFL fan, I admire my home team, the New England Patriots, deeply. The game they played this past Sunday at the Super Bowl only reinforced my admiration. Here are 5 key lessons the Patriots’ Super Bowl win taught me that can be applied to small business:

  1. Develop Mental Resilience. How many of us would have the mental fortitude to keep pushing hard when we are down 28-3? Resilience can be learned and data says that it’s our resilience more than our intelligence that determines our success. Owning a business is often hard; dig deep.
  2. Focus on One Play at a Time. As Lady Gaga was entertaining us, some Patriots’ fans had fast-forwarded to the end of the game and saw the Patriots losing. While keeping the end in mind is certainly important, it’s equally important to focus on one move at a time – that’s the only one that counts at any moment. In the last quarter of the Super Bowl, the Patriots diligently moved the ball – one play at a time. The same is true for your business; dedicate your energy and attention on one thing at a time.
  3. Have Faith in Yourself and Your Team. The respect and admiration the Patriots’ players seem to have for each other and with Bill Belichick is evident every game and in every interview. Brady relied on his team mates and his coach, the coach trusted his team to accomplish the job, and team members looked to Brady for leadership throughout the game. Hire the best team you can for your business, train them well, and trust in each other.
  4. Know Your Plan (and Have a Plan!). When Brady calls a play, his teammates had better know the details and what is expected from them. It’s not enough to say “we want to win” or “we want to be the best”. The Patriots have individual performance goals as well as team-based specific outcome goals. The same is true with every team member of your business; be sure that they understand the “game” that you are playing, what their role is and what is expected of them.
  5. Continue to Learn, Continue to Train. Three days before what became a record-breaker for Brady and Belichick, the coach had Brady and the team running hills and doing the heaviest squats ever. After the game, I heard Belichick say that the team needed to get going because other teams had a 5-week lead on training for 2017-2018. No matter where you and your company stand, there is always some area you can be better in. Celebrate your wins, and then get back to training.

No matter your team loyalty, take a play from the Patriots’ playbook. Your fan base will thank you and grow.

Part II: The Solution to the “One More Thing” Time Vampire

Small business owners have a lot to get done; my tasks so far this week have included replacing my office chair, invoicing, initiating a new targeted-market marketing campaign, filling the bird feeders outside my office windows, client meetings, and, well…you get the picture. Some tasks are urgent, others not urgent but important, and some – not urgent and not important. Facebook and filling the bird feeders fall into that last category. Stephen Covey, in his landmark book First Things First, popularized an idea presented by President Eisenhower; we have tasks which are urgent, and rarely important and tasks which are important, but rarely urgent. In small business terms, it looks like this:

  • Urgent and important tasks: Correcting errors, fighting fires, deadline-driven projects, employee crises. In Covey terms, these are Quadrant I tasks. A clear business vision and effective business systems will eliminate time spent on these tasks.
  • Not urgent but important tasks: Ahhh, The Lovely Quadrant II, my favorite place to spend time. Strategic work, tasks in line with a business vision, chosen to move a business forward. I once created a “Q2” group when I was in corporate, an employee group who focused on long-term strategy and systems. These are the tasks that are often postponed because they are not urgent and there is sometimes some fear around accomplishing them.
  • Urgent but not important tasks: These tasks often help someone else, or we have taken them on to be “nice”, or if we’re not clear about our own business vision. Incoming phone calls and emails can be seen as urgent, but very few are important to our business. Other examples might include networking that’s not in line with our business model.
  • Not urgent and not important tasks: Most of our time on social networks falls into this category, fantasy football, Candy Crush,as does filling my bird feeders. If you’re not sure, ask yourself what the consequence would be if you did not spend time on the task.

If you want to know how you’re spending your time, use the template here.

How to be the most productive person in your office

I love this article! #2 is my absolute favorite for daily/weekly productivity, and #4 is the best advice for long-term goals. Comment below and let me know what you think!

gettin-things-done

Some days the to-do list seems bottomless. Just looking at it is exhausting.

We all want to know how to stop being lazy and get more done. I certainly want the answer.

So I decided to call a friend who manages to do this — and more.

Cal Newport impresses the heck out of me. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked. He’s insanely productive:

  1. He has a full-time job as a professor at Georgetown University, teaching classes and meeting with students.
  2. He writes six (or more) peer-reviewed academic journal papers per year.
  3. He’s the author of four books including the wonderful So Good They Can’t Ignore You. And he’s at work on a fifth.
  4. He’s married with a young child and handles all the responsibilities that come with being a husband and dad.
  5. He blogs regularly about productivity and expert performance.

And yet he finishes work at 5:30 p.m. every day and rarely works weekends.

No, he does not have superpowers or a staff of 15. Okay, let’s you and I both stop being jealous of his productivity for a second and learn something.

Below you’ll get Cal’s secrets on how you can better manage your time, stop being lazy, get more done — and be finished by 5:30. Let’s get to work.

1) To-do lists are evil. Schedule everything.

To-do lists by themselves are useless. They’re just the first step. You have to assign them time on your schedule. Why?

It makes you be realistic about what you can get done. It allows you to do tasks when it’s efficient, not just because it’s #4.

Until it’s on your calendar and assigned an hour, it’s just a list of wishful thinking.

Here’s Cal:

Scheduling forces you to confront the reality of how much time you actually have and how long things will take. Now that you look at the whole picture you’re able to get something productive out of every free hour you have in your workday. You not only squeeze more work in but you’re able to put work into places where you can do it best.

Experts agree that if you don’t consider how long things take, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

I can hear what some of you are thinking: But I get interrupted. Things get thrown at me last minute.

Great — build that into your schedule. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Things will change. But you need to have a plan, otherwise you’ll waste time.

Want to stop procrastinating? Schedule. Here’s Cal:

Assigning work to times reduces the urge to procrastinate. You are no longer deciding whether or not to work during a given period; the decision is already made.

Does this sound too mechanical? Overly structured and not much fun? Wrong.

Research shows that it’s even a good idea to schedule what you do with your free time. It increases quality of life:

This study was designed to identify the relationship between free time management and quality of life, exploring whether the amount of free time or the way people using their free time relates to their quality of life… The result has found a positive relationship between free time management and quality of life.

(For more on the schedule the most productive people use, click here.)

Okay, the to-do list is in the trash and things are going on the calendar. How do you prioritize so you’re not at work forever?

Read entire piece here.

Originally published September 18, 2014

Small Business Owners: Take a Lesson from Our Military Vets

What can you learn from a veteran about your small business? Turns out, quite a bit.

What can you learn from a veteran about your small business? Turns out, quite a bit.

A former US Marine turned entrepreneur and I have been working on growing his small business. He is smart, driven, and has built a successful business in a relatively short period of time. And he wants more (sound familiar?). As we chatted about growth strategies and prospecting in particular, it struck me: fighting in the Armed Services and successfully growing a small business have two things in common:

  1. A clearly defined purpose
  2. Repetitive training

What they don’t share is the same driver for success: a gun pointed at you.

Many of my clients have heard me remind them that “this is your livelihood.”  This is what sustains you and your family. This is often when a business owner is going soft about letting an employee get away with sloppy work, bailing out on prospecting efforts, or something that requires a little more push.  That push is needed when we’re faced with a fear so strong that it feels like we have a gun pointed at us, but of course we don’t…and we let it slide. We tell ourselves that we can clean up when an employee doesn’t quite meet our standards or that we have “enough” business. Those things are true, but we don’t end up with a business that brings us joy. Instead, we end up frustrated, tired, and a little defeated. And that’s where the US Marines come in.

I honestly can’t imagine what it’s like to be in combat, but I can imagine the overwhelming desire for success that our Armed Services personnel feel. That desire, coupled with a clearly defined purpose and repetitive training, becomes success again and again. So how does this translate into success for small business owners?

  1. Know your purpose for each mission. Speaking engagement? Define exactly what the purpose and your desired results are – market exposure, perhaps, and follow-up meetings with complimentary professionals, on-site newsletter sign-ups, requests for more speaking. Prospecting? Be specific and define your success path: in some industries, if you want 5 new clients, you’ll need 8 meetings, and you’ll need to speak with 40 prospects.
  2. Practice. If it’s important, and most things are, practice again and again. Whether it’s an employee meeting, customer open house, or prospect phone call or meeting your confidence will grow with practice. Clearly define your purpose (see #1) so that the words you choose will help you reach your goal. My former US Marine and I ran through several practice prospecting calls until he reached that “I’ve got this” point.
  3. Reflect for a few moments on the bigger picture of your business – your “Big Why”, your dreams, your definition of success. All of that rolled up together is why you do what you do – it’s not a job, most entrepreneurs wouldn’t even call it a career. It’s your livelihood. When you connect with all of that, you will be driven to succeed in a way a gun to your head never would.

Today, thank a veteran or an active service member for their service. And, take a page from their book and remember that your business is your livelihood, and it deserves to succeed.

Helen Dutton, A Vision of Your Own, has provided business and personal coaching for small business owners since 2000, providing online and face to face coaching for entrepreneurs, small business owners, start-up businesses as well as established businesses across the country. Clients come from New Hampshire, her home state, but she has also acted as a mentor to business owners in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Denver area, and closer to home in the Boston area. Helen helps her clients develop their small business ideas, create marketing plans, improve operation efficiency, build customer service systems, build management and leadership skills, and develop confidence as a business owner. Helen provides business tips and resources through her blog and her newsletter, where you can also find business templates to help your business prosper.