If you are a manager, when you see the words:
on your calendar, what thoughts creep into your mind?
Do you look forward to them or dread them?
If you dread them, you’re not alone. However, if you are one of the few who DO look forward to them, my next question is:
Does the person on the receiving end also look forward to them?
There is a simple
effective and easy
You know you’re on track if the
evaluation is simply a formality.
If there are surprises
something is wrong.
I have been angst-ing over a report / article that I am writing for almost two weeks. The nagging perfectionist in me (her name is Perpetua and she also has the title of Inner Critic/Judge) was on the loose giving me a run for my money. This little message is precisely what this perfectionist needed. Perpetua is now back where she belongs…taking a break from it all, probably hob-nobbing with Cruela Deville.
I also realized that this advice of emptying oneself was exactly what I did when finally embarking on the subject of this post.
Yes, there is a subject. Here’s the story:
Living the life of a peregrinator has its challenges at times. One challenge presented itself in the form of a class assignment for a post grad business coaching class I’m taking for my coaching credential. The assignment itself was a joy. I was to interview business owners who I did not know personally and include 3 specific questions in the course of the interview. I did not know where to begin. My S.O. and I had just landed in Idaho (our home base between his jobs) and I have no contacts here, yet.
I called a friend on the east coast and told her about my assignment. She just so happened to be working with a business owner/landscape architect on his web presence. She said she would ask him. I was grateful.
Soon after, it dawned on me that I might be able to get some help from one of the groups I had recently joined on LinkedIn. If the interview my friend told me she would set up came together, I would only need one more person to interview. The teacher said to interview a couple of business owners.
to the one group (out of seven groups I have joined) that I thought might be the most willing to help.
I need some willing volunteers to help me with an assignment I have for an advanced coaching class.
Those who clicked on that “headline”, read that I had a class assignment to conduct a 20-30 minute simple interview with business owners about their businesses. The group I chose was definitely the “right” group.
After such a great response, I realized what a shame it would be to interview only two people, so I decided to tweak the assignment ever so slightly for my own edification. I thought if I could interview 10 people (a nice number), I might find some interesting patterns among these entrepreneurs and at the very least, meet some successful and interesting business owners.
Due to time constraints and schedules, I ended up interviewing nine people. They ranged from people who had been their own bosses from three years to twenty-five years and the businesses were: landscape architect, resume writing/career transition counselor, etiquette school, virtual assistants, video producer, a corporate coach, a personal facilitator of women in leadership roles, contractor in the finance/banking industry and a greeting card marketing company. One of the interviewees runs two businesses simultaneously.
The interview questions I was assigned were:
1. Tell me about your business. (i.e.: How did you start? How long have you had the business?, etc.)
2. What non-financial challenges are you currently dealing with?
3. If you could hire a coach, what would you want to address?
The conversations were primarily around these three questions with some variances depending on where the conversation went and how much time each person had to give. After interviewing 2 or 3 people, it became evident to me that some business owners were the genuine article and possessed what I felt was true inner happiness …so I added this question for some of the remaining interviewees (wishing I had asked everyone).
And….after the interviews were all over I wished I had asked a 5th question:
So, I put this after-thought question #5 out on the same discussion board after the interviews were over. An interesting thing happened. I realized within hours of posting question #5 that those that I sensed were the most successful (aka: happy) were the ones who were at the ready with their very clear visions within hours of the request.
– All interviewed were curious about the class and the purpose of the interview and was excited to be of assistance.
– Most wanted to know what I would be “doing” with this information. Aside from reporting aloud to my class, I had not made any formal plans, until I got so many questions I thought it would only be right to write this for them. After all, they were kind enough to volunteer.
– More than half interviewed were very driven by wanting to help their clients be 100% successful. This was evident in their volunteering to help me as well as the responses received for question #5.
– At least half of those I had interviewed had been in the “corporate world” and each one said, unsolicited:
I will make the assumption, however, that the corporate world may have given them the foundation and wherewithal to go solo.
– Many of them said they like variety in their career and flexibility with their schedules. This did not come as a surprise to me. Many entrepreneurs have these traits/preferences in common. I remember one business owner saying that it took 18 months of working 24/7, but she has finally tailored her work life to suit her whole life and, to top it off, is happy, no thrilled, with her income. I could feel her beaming through the telephone. She is also the one who, when asked question #3: If you could hire a coach, what would you want coaching on?, responded with:
– Two were already moving their businesses into a new phase of offering the teaching of others to do what they do….teaching their methodology….passing the torch to future generations
– One was getting an MBA to broaden his/her skills base and put new systems into place so that he/she could be more of a manager/overseer vs. exclusive “doer”.
The responses to the question “what would you hire a coach for?” varied the most. After my first interview, I felt it necessary to let everyone know I was not soliciting for my coaching business. This was very important to me as I honestly was just completing an assignment and wanted the most truthful answer without anyone feeling they were being “sold” to. Here are the responses:
– Develop and implement systems for the next phase of business.
– Learn more about marketing using the latest social media to enhance the business and reach goals
– Challenge his/her assumptions
– Guide them to set milestones and keep focused
– Hold him/her accountable to the least enjoyable tasks
– Coach him/her to become more at ease with net-working and being visible, followed up with getting the jobs they want.
– The response: Build self-confidence with some “atta girl” reinforcement coaching was heart-felt and I remember thinking to myself: “atta girl” for being so honest!
– A couple of these business owners said they would not hire a coach because they are comfortable coaching themselves, have good support (peers) in place and/or utilize good reading material. If they were to hire anyone it would be an administrative assistant. Business is good!
If it isn’t obvious, the whole experience for me was positive all the way around. Per my teacher’s suggestion, I DID have fun. I was able to identify where everyone was in their stage of business, I met some wonderful people (which is a bonus in and of itself) and learned some valuable lessons.
The biggest lesson I learned is the importance of being a happy person…especially if you are going to own your own business.
I cannot end this post without bringing up the tea bag quote one more time. This zen advice was just what I needed to get my thoughts flowing. Maybe this would be helpful advice for anyone who feels “stuck”. Sounds like common sense to me.
I have more thoughts about this experience/assignment and will post them here. I invite all of those whom I interviewed to comment, ask more questions or contact me if you would like to expand on our interview (either in private or on this blog site as a guest). And if there is anyone out there who just wants to comment, feel free. Also, if you would like to be a part of any future class assignments, I have a list started.
There’s the grocery store….and then there’s the specialty grocery store where the food is organic and healthy. I try to shop in the latter as much as possible. I believe that nourishing yourself with healthy foods is like practicing preventative medicine. It’s a worthwhile investment. (I feel the same way about massages)
Not only are the offerings good…the people seem genuinely happy. You can just feel it.
On a recent visit, I was on a mission: shopping for good tasting sauces with low to no sodium to add to stir fry vegies. When I found what I was looking for, I headed for the check out lane. I was third in line at the two register store.
Before I knew it, the second register was opened.
The gentleman in front of me with two items was ushered over.
The person who opened the second register was an employee who worked in a different department. When it was my turn in line, I had an item from my visit earlier in the week that I needed to return. I was hoping this wouldn’t be a problem.
I mentioned that I was returning the item because the sodium content was too high (34%….in noodles! Who knew?). Kathi, the “supplement manager” (it was on her name tag) smiled and asked if I would be using the same credit card today that I used to purchase the noodles. I said yes and she said….
Just as everything was put into my bag, Kathi shared that her uncle was on a strict low sodium diet and that her aunt buys a few good items that fit the bill. She offered to show them to me. I took her up on her offer. At that moment, one of the other employees came up in line and put a few items on the conveyor belt and said, “Since you’re here and finished (ringing me up), I thought you could ring these up for me.”
Kathi’s response: “I am going to show this customer a few things that I told her about first and then I’ll be back to ring you up.”
I followed Kathi and she pointed out some foods I may want to consider for other low sodium options.
All of her suggestions were good and related to my situation.
Not only did I thank her for her recommendations, I acknowledged her for putting me first.
What were this business’s messages ?
When is the last time you acknowledged your team,
in the moment,
for doing something “right”?
I like giving credit where credit is due. Thank you Kathi.
I like giving credit where credit is due, for great customer service. The organic market link is:
This was a store that had a smorgasbord of items…so many, in fact, I stayed for a good 30 to 40 minutes just trying to take it all in. The items ranged from refreshing, fun summer table linens, trays, candles and high-end clothing to colorful quilted bags. There was even a small room in the back dedicated to everything baby.
If you were claustrophobic, you might have bolted out the minute you stepped one foot in the door….but, not me.
I was pulled in, intrigued with the “chaos”
and wanted to see more.
The woman I assumed was the shop owner was behind the counter ringing up a customer. I made my way to the back of the store in turtle like fashion, looking at all the items she offered as if I was a child in a candy shop trying to decide how to spend my dollar. In fact, I was trying to deduce if she carried anything I might be able to purchase for two of my sisters who had birthdays approaching.
I was not acknowledged as I walked in and browsed.
Another customer walked in the door. The shop owner warmly greeted her with: “How are you??” What ensued was a brief conversation about the woman’s health. They knew each other. I tried not to eaves drop. However, not doing so would have been a challenge in that store. The next part of the conversation I heard (after I held up a linen dish towel to examine it closer) was the customer claiming responsibility for sending 5 to 6 people to the owner’s store to shop for a bridal shower.
I thought….Wow! How nice!
I bet the customer is a business woman herself. That is very cool that she did that.
The next thing I heard was the shop owner telling the woman that there was a baby shower for the daughter of a woman they both knew and not ONE person bought from her shop. Instead, they purchased everything from Target! The friend/woman tried to show her support of the shop owner by whispering loudly: “What a slap in the face!”
By this time, I was two-thirds of the way back through the store and and gasping at the price of of the robin’s egg blue stretch jeans ($165). At that moment, I noticed to my left there was a young woman arranging a new display of quilted colorful paisley and flowered purses and bags of all sizes and shapes.
I hadn’t noticed her when I first walked in….and she didn’t notice me.
She was busy busy busy going back and forth from the stock room to the display area.
I continued looking at the jeans and tank tops along with the “spendy” price tags.
Then I spotted the Asian style silk pajamas with the mandarin collar and contrast piping.
They were displayed showing all of the yummy colors in which they were available. Immediately, I imagined myself in either the classic navy blue or maybe the white for summer.
Just my cup of green tea!
The tag indicated: 100% silk…an important feature for me (natural fabrics). I lifted the hanger, put the PJs up to me as I looked for a mirror amidst the chaos. I looked all over for a price tag but could not find one anywhere on any of the 7 pairs of pajamas hanging on display. The young woman who was busy busy busy whisked by me as she was coming from the stock room.
I timidly asked (even though I knew the answer):
Do you work here?
She said she did and looked me in the eye and smiled, as if it was the first time she noticed me. I asked her for the price of the pajamas. She couldn’t find the price either (that made me feel a little better about my eye sight) and then she spotted it on a shelf WAY up above my line of sight, hanging from a teeny tiny tag …. $49.
$49…not as bad as I thought it would be. The words I said were: “That’s not so bad. I have two sisters who might each love a pair of these pajamas. Their birthdays are coming up. That’s a reasonable amount to spend on a birthday present, don’t you think?”
She nodded in agreement and went on to let me know the larger sizes came in the more colorful choices … went back to her display.
I wandered farther into the other pajama and night gown displays to see what else the store carried and then ventured back toward the front of the store. The shop owner was alone and had stepped out from behind the counter. As I approached her I said, “You have a very nice store….quite a smorgasbord of things!” She looked me in the eye (for the first time) and said: “Yes! That’s the perfect word for this shop!”
I then said: “I think you have what may be perfect gifts for two of my sisters who have birthdays coming up. Do you ship?”
She said: “Yes, we do! Just bring in their addresses and we’ll take care of the shipping for you.” “Okay”…. I said.
I started to walk toward the door and noticed the fun and brightly colored aprons. I commented on how pretty they were and how reasonable the price was ($12)….and followed up with:
“I am always getting something on me when I cook….do you have the aprons that tie around your neck?”
She pointed them out to me….and went back to her perch.
I walked out and went on to the next shop….
thinking about the pajamas…