If you’ve never heard of “Passion Diva”,Lori Lynn Smith, let me introduce you. Lori had an intuitive hit (or as she put it…and idea came to her) about starting a radio program and POOF! two days later, she was up and running! That was six months ago and her program has really taken off. The guests she invites talk about approaches to holistic living and business and she is already booked into February of 2015. I’d say that “idea” was a good one!
Today was my date with Lori and I had such a fun time. We barely scratched the surface on the topic of INTUITION so the 44 minute interview was just the start. Stay tuned though. Lori and I have made another date to continue the topic. In the mean while, I’ll be posting tips and ideas to ponder about how to tap in to your intuition. Thanks Lori! I had fun!
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.
I wasn’t going to write about my errand day last week. The thoughts that went through my mind were:
No one will find this interesting.
But I can’t get it out of my head because I realized
And this experience is not a one time only situation. It has occurred a few times in the last 3 months.
If you are a retail business that is in a mall or shopping center, your landlord has rules for you.
Rule #1: Open for business on time.
If, however you are an independent business owner who leases a space in a quaint small town, there are really no “rules” so to speak, so if you open a half hour late, it’s no big deal. Some might even find it reminds them of a boutique in Europe where the customers are always “wrong” and the hours of operation vary on a daily basis. It’s just their way.
I bring all of this up because I woke up the other morning knowing I had many errands. I had a lot on my “To Do” list and needed to get as early a start as possible. I timed everything out based on what time the stores opened. Most retail establishments open at 10:00 a.m. so I left the house at 5 minutes before 10:00 and was happy that I would be able to get in and out early. The two stores I wanted to shop in were not open at a little after 10:00. As I walked to the cafe around the corner to get a cup of coffee while I waited for the 2 shops to open, I noticed there were other stores not open. Had my watch stopped? I got to the coffee shop and verified the time. It was 10:20 a.m.
On my way back, I stopped to look in a different shop window at something that caught my eye….something that MIGHT be perfect as a gift for someone who was on my “To Do” list. I looked at my newly synchronized watch….It was 10:30 a.m. I looked further into the shop and saw some great gift ideas. I saw a woman arranging some items in the store. I feel certain she saw me looking in the window because she looked up from what she was doing when I appeared. I went for the doorknob and just before my hand touched it, I noticed the “CLOSED” sign. I saw the store hours posted on the door.
I looked at the woman, who by this time had turned her back. I left with my coffee feeling very perplexed.
If you were the owner of this store, what would you have liked to have seen happen? I know I would have been happy if I had been greeted by this woman opening up the door and inviting me in.
I most likely would have purchased a gift for my friend and not bothered to have even entered the other stores that were not open before going to get coffee.
I know what some of you may be thinking….
Why doesn’t she just go to the mall or chain store that opens on time?
I have an aversion to the homogenized McShopping Centers and Malls. I like supporting the Mom and Pop businesses whenever possible. Only it wasn’t possible on this day.
What are the messages here?
Are business owners in such a funk that they can’t see that making an effort CAN make a difference in their sales?
Are they feeling like there is no hope?
Is the shop just a hobby?
Albeit more discerning of their spending, consumers ARE still out there.
This is especially the time to shine
be open on time,
When I was a sales coach for This End Up Furniture Company, I was working with a store manager one-on-one during a two day visit to her store. She was a very bubbly, enthusiastic manager who loved the company, the product, the people, the customers….everything. As a matter of fact, she had been a very enthusiastic customer who was recruited. Her name was Diane.
Much of the first half of our day was spent in observation mode….meaning I observed Diane with with her customers. What I saw/heard was non stop bubbly and up-beat talking….90% from Diane. Every encounter ended with the customer walking out with a brochure and price list and ALL of the information about the company, the furniture they were standing near, the fabric, the accessories, etc. that Diane graciously shared like a hostess with a tray of appetizers.
To put it mildly,
she had “the gift of gab”
which needed a bit of tweaking.
As a coach, it is my job to keep the learning atmosphere as open and positive as possible.
Integrity is a value I honor.
What might have happened if I said to Diane: “You talk too much!…That customer couldn’t get a word in edgewise!” Most likely it would shut her down which would essentially slow or stop the learning process.
To keep the learning atmosphere healthy,
a good coach keeps the conversation in
a place of discovery.
What I didn’t mention at the top of this post is that Diane and I began our day talking about what we both wanted out of our two days together. From the beginning, expectations were in place….from all parties involved.
This vital step is what set us up for success.
One of the ten Shared Values at This End Up was Individual Growth. We attracted people who appreciated this unique value in a retail setting. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy….this stretching and growing business, however, everyone was in it together, by choice. We all coached each other…up the line and down the line. What a great culture!
Diane asked me to let her know what I observed and pick
to help her grow that would impact increasing her personal sales.
My coaching began:
Me: Tell me about that customer.
Diane’s responses were all based on everything she told the customers about the product and services.
Me: What did the customer tell you about their home? or What room were they working on?
Diane: They didn’t. I think they were just looking.
Me: What do you know about them as a person?
Diane: They had on a real cute dress and they were on their way to the movies in the mall.
Me: What do they know about us? (the company, furniture, etc…)
Diane: A lot! I told them how we started as a company, how the furniture is constructed, what fabrics are available, how long it takes to receive from the date the order is placed, what our hours are….
Diane stopped mid sentence and looked up at me with that unmistakable look in her eyes that indicated the A-HA! moment!
Diane: I talked too much. I didn’t give anyone a chance to talk. I don’t really know anything about the people who came in to the store this morning.
Continuing to keep the learning atmosphere open during this very important moment, I asked:
What would you have liked to have known about them?
Diane was able to list a number of productive responses. I followed up with:
What questions will lead you to all of those wonderful responses?
Again, Diane came up with some stellar questions.
It was all making sense.
A shift had begun.
Before we continued with the second part of our day, we took a break for lunch and I gently and causally asked:
What percentage of the time do you think the customers talked this morning?
She smiled and said: Hardly at all. I must have talked 100% of the time., just like I do at home. My husband and daughter can’t get a word in edgewise.
Diane looked at me again with that “A-Ha” look in her eyes and said….
“Oh my gosh. My poor family!” She laughed. I laughed. And then I asked:
Would you be up for a little assignment tonight? She agreed. I asked Diane to practice the 80/20 ratio of listening to talking with her family over dinner that evening and come back to our second day with a full report.
That means allowing her family to talk 80% while she listens. Her 20% of talking was to include as many open ended questions as was logical while she commented on whatever her family was talking about over dinner.
After lunch, we spent the afternoon practicing open ended questions to allow the customers to do a bit more of the talking. It worked and she went home energized and exhausted all at once.
The next day, I got the full report on dinner. As you might imagine, her family thought something must have been wrong with her. Was she okay? Did she feel well? Was she coming down with something? Honestly, she said her husband was delighted and asked her to thank me. While he didn’t want Diane to change from who she was, he was grateful for the shift.
And Diane was grateful for the shift in her sales.
She increased her sales that month by 40%.
blabber – blabber – blabber
chatter – chatter – chatter
If you substituted the customer in this scenario for one of the people you manage, would the same philosophy apply? (80/20?)