Burn the Ships – Eliminate the Easy Out

We all like Plan “B” options that afford us escape when things don’t work out. In 1519, Captain Hernán Cortés landed in Veracruz to begin his great conquest. Upon arriving, he gave the order to his men to burn the ships. How’s that for bold leadership? As a leader, you must decide when and how to burn your own ships.

Burn-the-boats

What Cortés did was force himself and his men to either succeed or die. A retreat was not an option. To truly achieve the level of success we each desire, there are times when we need to “burn the boats.”

 

The obvious question becomes “what are my ships”? For starters, your ship may be anything that you are afraid to let go of.

My three-year-old grandson has his favorite blanket he drags everywhere. It is his actual security blanket. We hope he abandons it by the time he’s ready for high school graduation, but maybe he won’t. I’m kidding of course, but how silly would that look? A handsome 18 year old walking the stage at graduation with this tattered, filthy, and well-worn blanket tucked under his arm.

What are they?

Ironically, plenty of people hang on to some form of security blanket or ‘ship’. Here are the big ones:

  • Your current job –  Yes, you may be hanging on to that lousy job because you need the security of it; the actual financial security. While those reasons may be logical and practical, are they holding you back from achieving something even greater?
  • Your field of employment – Does a career change make more sense? Are you drained by the thought of challenges in any other position within your industry?
  • Your comfort zone –  This is a big one. What would it look like to have to step outside of your comfort zone every day? Falling back into that zone is just like the ship you should probably burn.
  • Wrong relationships –  It’s sadly funny how many folks stay in bad relationships, business or otherwise. There’s a thought that you have time or money invested, so you hate to walk away, even though all indications are negative.

Are you willing to burn a ship? That means eliminating the escape hatch, safety valve, or parachute. As comforting as having such an escape may be, there are times when you have to get rid of the escape mechanism so that you proceed without fear, doubt, or skepticism.

Having the escape plan gives you the chance to make a half-hearted attempt to succeed, knowing all the while that at the first sign of trouble you can pull the ripcord and make the escape.

The Easy Way Out

Sadly, I’ve known too many couples who enter into marriage with a stated position that “if it doesn’t work out, we can always get a divorce”. While I am not a legalist on the topic of divorce, I do believe that making that option too easy is a sure fire way to make it become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So back to Captain Cortés and your work team. If you are the leader of your team, what ships have been docked nearby that will allow your whole team to escape if things start going wrong? Have you, as their leader found ways to make it clear that the ships have been burned?

Being the leader and giving the command to burn the ships may be the toughest command you give. I’m guessing Cortés slept with one eye open for quite some time after he first gave the order and watched the ships go up in flames. You too may suffer from the fear of the team’s reaction to the command, but it may be the best thing you could ever do for them.

Question: Share some ways you have eliminated the escape hatches where you work. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Measuring the Milestones of Life

Have you ever stopped to think what the milestones in your life are telling you? Or do you even keep track of those moments? We all have decisions, outcomes, and experiences that shape and mold the person we become. Some call these defining moments.

Taking a look at the list of the key moments can be very helpful when trying to make new decisions about who we are and where we’re going.

milestones

I confess, this week one of those milestone moments happens for me. It’s my birthday and it’s a big one. I won’t bore you with the details. And, no, this is not a weak plug for attention, but instead an opportunity to share some thoughts with you.

Birthdays can be examples of some classic milestone moments; turning 16 to get a drivers license or 21 to be “legal” for drinking can be big deals. But then we start counting birthdays in fives; 25, 30, 35, etc.

A friend once shuddered at his 35th  birthday. In his mind, thirty-five was a serious pivot point in his life. Somehow everything was going to be downhill. Ironically, my father-in-law always said “no one pays attention to you until you turn 40”, but that’s another story.

There are many other examples of life-changing moments we experience that become milestones for us. Graduating from school, getting married, having children, getting a divorce, being transferred, making a big move, changing jobs, changing careers… all of these serve to set markers in our life from which we can see a picture start to form. There are many more.

Decisions are critical influencers of when, where and how some of these markers get created. Bad decisions send us down paths that either make us learn something, or keep us from learning. Better decisions build experience and wisdom. The older you get, the more you will see a picture unfolding. You see a shape and a pattern come to life.

The Challenge

If you are reading this and feeling stuck where you are, take a moment to recount the milestones in your own life. You might even take a notepad and draw the timeline of your life, placing markers at the various key moments. It doesn’t matter whether they are positive or negative, just draw the map.

From this drawing see what picture you find. Are there common themes that jump out? Is there a hobby or skill that keeps coming up? Is there a body of work that inspires you more than the others?

If you’ve never done an exercise like this, you might just find a new you in there somewhere.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Steve Jobs 

Question: What are your milestones telling you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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Leaders: Having Haters Hate

The life of a manager/business leader certainly has its benefits, but there are downsides to being a leader too. Not long ago, I received an email from someone who had served on a large project with me. Their recall of my role was, let’s say, less than flattering.

haters

The project was a large one. We started with a team of 457 professionals and grew it to over 700 before the project ended. I was the overall lead executive running the show. The effort called for organizing 9 different work teams, handling 9 distinctly different focus topics and work plans. In the middle of it was a just-in-time software development project that would have been a big enough challenge all by itself.

The work was spread coast to coast in 4 large work centers. To say we had occasional personnel problems would be an understatement.

My duty to lead and manage this group was a really big challenge. Thankfully, I had a close, but small support staff with me. My deputy, second in command, became my traveling problem solver.

Back to the Email Message

The person who wrote me the email said he did recall my presence on the project, but called me one of those “stiffs” who sat in the glass offices and didn’t come out much. While some may say I fell short in a few areas during that project, getting out and around to the work teams was not one of the failings. In fact, my support crew saw me early in the morning then seldom saw me until late in the day.

Why? Because I was moving from team to team, meeting to meeting, or training to training, dealing directly with the teams and their unit managers. I was as much cheerleader for the vision of the project as I was operator and executive.

Frankly, I am proud of the project and the team we recruited. I met some amazing professionals who worked tirelessly to accomplish our goals, all under a tight time clock of deadlines and deliverables. The fact that some who were present either didn’t see it this way or have their own different opinions are just reality.

I am a Realist

If I’ve learned much of anything in my years as an executive, I’ve learned you have to be real about people’s expectations. You will never win them all. I am convinced that if you recruit three people to be on the same team, you will find one negative Ned or Nelly. Heck, this can even happen just hiring two people.

The Challenge as a Leader is Threefold

First, you must do the best you can at recruiting and selecting people for your team. For a small business, this can be the most difficult challenge an owner undertakes. It is certainly true in big business too. You will not win them all here either, but you can do things to make better selections through detailed screening, background checks, and by giving practical tests to applicants.

If you have specific skills you need to be performed, you have to test for those skills. The “soft stuff” like customer service can be a bigger challenge. After all, people have learned how to ace interviews and smile pretty. Yet, once they land, you can only wait to see whether they fit correctly into your roles and execute on the duties?

Next, you must equip them to win. As a leader, you must impart the best information you can provide to help them understand the job, the requirements, and winning factors that work for the specific need you have them fill. That is on you as the leader to provide this understanding.

As soon as an employee demonstrates an unwillingness to embrace the framework and perform against the standards, you need to begin remediation actions. Whether that is retraining, reassignment, relocation, or removal, the manager must move swiftly to eliminate the lingering impact of an underachiever.

Lastly, there will still be those who hate your leadership. Regardless how much you work to win the hearts and minds of your team, you will have some who don’t get it. No leader anywhere should expect of themselves the ability to win everyone over. There are just enough personalities in this world to occasionally find the ones who don’t mesh well.

I like to say it’s not right or wrong, it’s just different. When you identify the difference, you have to accept it for what it is.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

On occasion when you get some really negative feedback from a former employee (or current one), take it with a  grain of salt. They pay you the proverbial big bucks to have the thick skin to take it.

If there is substance in the feedback, embrace it. Use the input to improve your leadership skills. However, when you know you gave it your best shot, proven by the feedback from those who mattered at the time (your client, your boss, and the team around you) forget about the Hater. Haters will hate. That’s what they do.

Be bold. Be strong. Don’t let one loud voice drown out your ability to make a difference for everyone else.

Oh, by the way. After over 30 years managing and directing thousands and a current day social media following of over 200,000, I’ve gotten two such letters in four years.

“Not bad. Not bad at all.” (President Whitmore –  Independence Day)

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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Leaders Modeling the Way

Three Steps to Better Team Performance

Any entrepreneur, business owner, or executive who wonders why the team is not operating as you expect should take a couple of critical steps. Get out from behind the desk and take the steps to walk to the mirror.

modeling the way

Take a long, hard look. Are YOU modeling the way for others to follow? Your actions and behaviors set the tone and pace for those around you. You cannot operate with a mantra of “Do as I say, not as I do.” Yet too many people in a position of power operate exactly that way.

What are some areas where modeling the right behaviors makes a difference? Here are three that are vital.

Be the Vision

Well respected leaders are known for their ability to communicate a vision. This is the ideal end-stage outcome. It’s the “begin with the end in mind” that Covey teaches.

Corporations are famous for setting Vision Statements and Mission Statements. However, the statements only work when they are shared throughout the workforce. Whether you run a 5 person team or an organization of 500, the way you as the leader share the vision is vital to the ultimate success.

You must understand and embrace the vision. You cannot be undermining it from your office. If you own the business, you darn well better construct and live the vision in a way that others can explain it just as thoroughly as you do.

I made the mistake in one of my first companies by not fully explaining the vision. We had several service offerings that made common sense but didn’t clearly connect to a greater purpose without some explaining. I was guilty of taking too much for granted across my work team.

Our website was carefully designed and written to pitch our vision to the market, but my own team couldn’t recite what we were doing very well. More importantly, the passion with which I believed we could change the market was not shared by my crew. It took several months for me to realize what was missing.

I called a meeting and shared the overall vision to set the tone for future effort. I even apologized for not letting them know this critical element of our being. Once I revealed the vision, several more seasoned professionals on the team got excited. They asked very good questions and the discussion opened up. It was a milestone event in the life of my little company.

Your actions on a day to day basis must enforce the vision.

Enable Others to Act

The people who report to you need the latitude to do their jobs. You can model confidence in their ability by letting them have free range in which to operate. Yes, you might have policies and procedures, but there is always room for initiative to work.

Early in my career, I decided to embrace a principle that I should work to hire capable people, then get out of their way. Micromanaging is stifling to most employees.

As the leader, you need to model the proper use of delegation of authority. Delegation is not all that hard to comprehend. Think of it this way. You give permission to act and protection when they fall. It’s very similar to raising children. You want them to grow by experiencing for themselves the actions, reactions, consequence, and success.

As you do this, you must be consistent in your administration of the effort. You cannot pick one person over another to get more latitude. Yes, I appreciate the argument for ‘not all employees are created equal’ in terms of skills and abilities. However, every employee should have a range with which they can operate based on the skills they demonstrate.

If the employee is a problem, then apply remedial training or deal with the case and replace the person. That is the hard side of being an effective leader. I’ll save more on this issue for another article.

Encourage the Heart

The human side of leadership is exactly what differentiates a leader from a mere manager. You manage process, but lead people. People respond more when all of their being is engaged.

I like to teach about harnessing the power of your mind’s attention and your heart’s affection. At work, we often think in terms of the mental side of this equation. You hire talent and experience, right? But have you ever tried to hire passion?

There is a recruiter friend of mine who uses this tagline:

Hire for Passion. Skills are cheap. Passion is hard to come by.

How do you measure the passion a person may bring to the work you need them to do? Ask better questions. Decide for yourself why this work is meaningful. Find ways to engage the hearts of those around you.

This notion of encouraging and engaging the heart of your people has been used for centuries in military conquests across the globe. Armies moving across foreign lands try to engage and endear the population so that the effort is not met with resistance. But when resistance comes as the French and Polish people did during WWII, the advancing effort of the German army was much more difficult to achieve.

Thankfully our places of work should never become war zones. But the principles apply. Win the hearts of your people and you will have far greater success achieving your goals.

The leader who can model a true and genuine appreciation for the hearts of their people will accomplish much more.

Question: Let us know some ways you model the right behaviors to lead your teams. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

How to Identify the Blind Spot in Your Personality

Have you ever been driving and decided to change lanes? You take a quick look around and all seems clear, then you make the move to the new lane and HONK! You’re about to cut into an oncoming car. A blind spot covered your view of the other car.

BlindspotsLeaders can have blind spots too. You can be moving along, feeling like things are going very well. Then HONK! You get surprised by a colleague or co-worker who drops a big bomb on your happy place. You had a blind spot.

What are Blind Spots?
In her book, Fearless Leadership, Loretta Malandro, PhD., identified 10 behavioral blind spots that can derail leaders.

These 10 blind spots are:

  1. Going it alone
  2. Being insensitive to how your behavior impacts others
  3. Having an “I know” attitude
  4. Avoiding the difficult conversations
  5. Blaming others or circumstances
  6. Treating commitments casually
  7. Conspiring against others
  8. Withholding emotional commitment
  9. Not taking a stand
  10. Tolerating “good enough”

We each have these blind spots, with some being larger for us than others.  Just like in a car, knowing your blind spots is important as you can make some extra effort to ensure that you see what you are doing.  And just like in cars, if you don’t know your blind spots, you can get into big trouble.

The first step in avoiding these blind spots is to understand them and what they look like.  It is easy to identify these in people we work with, but it is difficult to identify them ourselves (thus they are called blind spots).  Here are some behaviors that describe each blind spot:

Going it alone: when you do things without asking others for their input.  Examples of this behavior include:

  • not asking for help
  • not accepting help
  • not talking about the stress you are under
  • not including others in decisions
  • feeling like you need to get things done on your own

Going it alone is especially problematic for start-up entrepreneurs. When you begin a business, you think you know your idea the best. You’re not ready to let go and let others help build the dream. First-time business owners also may suffer from getting too deep into this syndrome. You’re just not ready or willing to open up to others.

Being insensitive to how your behavior impacts others: when you allow yourself to say or do most anything without sensitivity to the consequences or impact on others.

  • not noticing how body language impacts others
  • choosing words that can be mean or misunderstood provoking a negative response
  • not realizing how you’re devaluing others input or ideas

You rationalize these behaviors by thinking that people hurt by your words will “get over it.”

Having an “I know attitude“: when you think that you are always right and those who disagree with you are wrong.

  • not listening to others
  • always coming up with reasons others ideas won’t work
  • devaluing others ideas
  • arguing with anyone who disagrees with you
  • refusing to explore other options
  • making assumptions about others’ intent or their ideas

Avoiding difficult conversations: you avoid conflict and stressful situations – so you avoid those conversations where that happens.

  • not raising concerns or issues about others behavior
  • avoiding talking about negative information (bad sales, company layoffs, etc.)
  • softening tough messages and not talking about real concerns.

You only like to talk about surface issues.

Blaming others or circumstances: avoiding the need to take accountability or try to negate by shifting blame.

  • always having a reason
  • excuse or explanation for why something went wrong
  • “yeah, but…”
  • complaining about how it could have gone “if only”
  • leaving a project when you see it is not going to succeed.

I like to think of these as convenient excuses.

blind-spot

Treating commitments casually: when you make casual commitments that you don’t keep.

  • showing up late for meetings
  • not getting projects done on time
  • never making hard commitments in the first place
  • always having an escape hatch
  • using the “I’ll try” instead of “I will”

A leader’s ability to influence others is dependent on being able to make and keep commitments, regardless of how big or how small.

Conspiring against others: you engage in rumor mills and gossip or talk negatively behind peoples backs.

  • talking one-on-one with others about how you think a project won’t succeed
  • not talking in open project meetings
  • discrediting others ideas or accomplishments
  • displaying negative non-verbal cues such as rolling eyes or engaging in conspiracy theories

Withholding emotional commitments: you can agree intellectually, but withhold putting our heart and soul into a project.

  • just complying with a decision meeting the bare minimum requirements
  • resisting change, withholding support, going through the motions

Leadership requires genuine commitment. People around you can sense the false pretense of making the motion but not being committed.

Not taking a stand: sometimes when you know you should do something but you don’t because of how it could impact you.

  • not speaking up in a meeting when you disagree with the majority
  • failing to speak up when senior executives are around
  • getting people to work around a problem instead of addressing it head-on

Tolerating “good enough”: when you settle for getting things done just ok, but don’t push you or your teams for excellence.

  • not holding others accountable for their work
  • accepting incremental improvements
  • not willing to explore radical options
  • staying inside one’s comfort zone
  • not looking at what the future will require

The Process

Understanding the concept of having blind spots is the first step.  Identifying our own blind spot is the harder part.  To really get to the bottom of your own blind spot, you have to ask a few trusted confidants to work closely with you. They can better point out where they see your blind spots.

This is a hard exercise but one that is very beneficial. A review process called a 360 is also a useful tool. Many larger companies are using 360s on a regular basis as part of their leadership development programs.

None of us like to hear about our faults. Others don’t like to point them out.  If you are open to growing and learning, then by identifying your own weaknesses, you can start the process of improvement and become a better leader and even a better person.

Question: When was the last time you identified and worked on curing a blind spot? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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The Entrepreneur’s Need for Nimbleness

Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. Often there is a false assumption that a good product or service idea will be a guaranteed success. The “If you build it they will come” mindset is a great cliché for a movie but seldom plays out as a winner in real business.

Nimbleness

No, success and long-term sustainability require a whole host of ever-changing variables. The truly successful entrepreneur figures out how to navigate these choppy waters, making changes as frequently as they might be required. Plus, when the demand is for them to change, they will accept the proverbial writing on the wall and go with the change.

Nimbly and gracefully making the right changes is what differentiates the highly successful business owner/founder from the rest of the wannabes (as in I want-to-be successful). Wanting and doing are wildly different positions to be in.

Key Management Factors

Several factors, which change in importance as the business grows and develops, are prominent in determining ultimate success or failure.

A study done by the good folks at Harvard Business Review identified eight such factors in a research project(1). Four factors relate to the enterprise and four to the owner. The four that relate to the company are as follows:

1. Financial resources, including cash and borrowing power.

2. Personnel resources, relating to numbers, depth, and quality of people, particularly at the management and staff levels.

3. Systems resources, in terms of the degree of sophistication of both information and planning and control systems.

4. Business resources, including customer relations, market share, supplier relations, manufacturing and distribution processes, technology and reputation, all of which give the company a position in its industry and market.

The four factors that relate to the owner are:

1. Owner’s goals for himself or herself and for the business.

2. Owner’s operational abilities in doing important jobs such as marketing, inventing, producing, and managing distribution.

3. Owner’s managerial ability and willingness to delegate responsibility and to manage the activities of others.

4. Owner’s strategic abilities for looking beyond the present and matching the strengths and weaknesses of the company with his or her goals.

Small businesses are built on the owner’s talents: the ability to sell, produce, invent, or whatever. This factor, in the early stages, is of the highest importance. The owner’s ability to delegate, however, is on the bottom of the scale since there are few if any employees to delegate to.

As the company grows, other people enter sales, production, or engineering and they first support, and then even supplant, the owner’s skills—thus reducing the importance of the owner’s personal skill set. At the same time, the owner must spend less time doing and more time managing or even leading the enterprise.

He or she must increase the amount of work done by other people, which means delegating. The inability of many founders to let go of doing and to begin managing and delegating explains the demise of many businesses during the latter stages.

As a business moves from one stage to another, the importance of the factors changes. We might view the factors as alternating among three levels of importance:

  • First, key variables that are absolutely essential for success and must receive high priority;
  • Second, factors that are clearly necessary for the enterprise’s success and must receive some attention; and
  • Third, factors of little immediate concern to top management.

If we categorize each of the eight factors listed previously, based on its importance at each stage of the company’s development, we get a clear picture of changing management demands.

Entrepreneurship

The changing role of all of these factors clearly illustrates the need for owner flexibility. An overwhelming preoccupation with certain factors is quite important at some stages and less important at others. “Doing” versus “delegating” also requires a flexible management mindset.

Holding onto old strategies and old ways will not serve a company that is entering the growth stages. Failure to find the nimbleness to make these changes can even be fatal.

If you run your own business but are feeling the pressure to make some changes, perhaps you need a Master Coach to come alongside and guide you through the thought process. That is what I do. I’ve been doing it with successful entrepreneurs for decades. I’ve seen businesses of many types. You are not alone. Leave a comment or write an email

(1) To read the whole study, visit https://hbr.org/1983/05/the-five-stages-of-small-business-growth Please note that the study’s findings were written in 1983. Some may argue the findings and recommendations are therefore irrelevant just because of their age.

However, ask any businessman who has made one of these mistakes along the way. They will affirm the need to be this kind of nimble in order to make the best possible changes for the true good of the business. The principles are timeless.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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Start Your Own Blog Today

There are plenty of reasons seasoned professionals should write their own blog. I’ve been blogging since 2009 when I founded Jobs Ministry Southwest. Back then, it was a great way to share information with the people using our career transition services.

That modest effort got me excited about the power of blogging. From its humble start, my blog has grown into the site you see now with over 110,000 followers and growing.

Blog Writing

Now, as my coaching and consulting businesses have grown, I use the blog to share articles on key topics for managers and business leaders, sharing thoughts about leadership and entrepreneurship (my two favorite topics). Blogging helps cast a wider net, spreading your message across the globe.

I am going to share some of the quick and easy steps I use to build the blog.

  1. Domain names – Get yourself a custom domain name. Most registrations may cost you $12 a year (or close to that). Reasonably cheap for the significance of pointing to a brand name you build.
  2. SiteGround Hosting services – Unless you have a brother-in-law with insane computer networking skills, subscribe to a hosting service. I’ve tried several, but have landed on SiteGround. I love their responsiveness (the site loads quickly despite a lot of overhead/functionality going on). I’ve also found their support to be world class good. To check them out click this link.
    Web Hosting
  3. WordPress – I’ve become a huge fan of the WordPress framework. The themes and templates give you so many options. Some custom themes you buy, but many are free. The free ones can give you a great looking site to get you started. WordPress was created for blogging and has grown into a whole discipline of its own.
  4. Plugins – These are add-on tools you can add to your WordPress suite of code. With plugins, you can add awesome features like social media sharing, guest list management, shopping carts, etc. There are three critical plugins I have chosen to use.
    • Jetpack – a collection of tools that maximize the operation of WordPress, keep statistics, and hacker protection
    • Yoast SEO – helps optimize the valuable search engine optimization aspects of your site and all its content
    • Vaultpress – file backup; you never want to lose your blog
  5. RSS Feeds – Build an RSS feed to allow your content to get distributed to other social media channels automatically as each post gets released. I use Google’s Feedburner.com tools for this task. Opening an account is free. You can customize the tool to grab your posts and push them to channels like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram all automatically and spontaneously with each post.
  6. LeadPages.net – I use LeadPages to help me promote and manage product offerings, events, seminars, webinars, and my other client attraction efforts. Build your own landing pages with LeadPages. As an example, my promo for Big 5 Performance Management is done with LeadPages.
  7. MailChimp – Email management tools. Using an effective email management service is vital. I’ve tried several and have landed on MailChimp. I like the ease of use and the straightforward tools they offer. I know there are other services that are equally effective, but after several disappointments (and higher costs) I landed with MailChimp.
  8. Fiverr – Occasionally you need some freelance skill sets to augment what you are doing. Fiverr.com is tremendous for this. Fiverr is a collection of freelancers from all around the world. They call their projects “gigs”. As the name might imply, you can get help for as little as $5 per “gig”. I’ve used Fiverr resources for things like graphic design (videos, book covers, and logos) or getting a press release written. I’ve also used them for social media promotions to reach a broader audience for book releases or other promotions I am doing. Yes, occasionally I get a less than acceptable outcome, but I only invested a few dollars versus hundreds through other sources or contractors. It’s a winner for simple outsourcing.

About Content

There are numerous opinions about content creation; write it yourself, borrow others, merely re-post, etc. I’ve taken the basic approach that is at the core of blogging, “my message, my voice”. Yes, I study many different sources and try to compile credible resources to cobble my articles together. Anything I use gets proper attribution for its source.

The content I write is intended solely for your use. If I can’t help you, a busy professional, do more right where you are, then I’ve missed the mark. If you decide to start a blog, you need to decide what your purpose and message will be about.

There are also great debates about when to publish and how often. The golden rule I learned early on is simply “be consistent”.

To that end, I choose to write at least 2x per week. By using the great scheduling features of WordPress I can accumulate a volume of articles and stage them for automatic release on whatever schedule I choose. By using this queueing method, I never have to worry about publication deadlines and getting writer’s block over the deadline pressure. Typically, I have content scheduled at least three weeks ahead, sometimes more.

I’ve juggled the release days of the week, experimenting with response rates and open rates. There are other blog writers I know who limit publication to once a week. If it works, great! Just be consistent. Allow your following to become reliant on your consistency.

Disclosure: By clicking some of the links above, I may receive a small affiliate commission from the service provider. Rest assured I would not promote anything I don’t use myself. But even if I didn’t get any commissions, I really like these tools, and I think you will too.

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Why Entrepreneurs Need To Move Away From FOMO

The ‘Fear Of Missing Out’, mainly known by its acronym FOMO has become a much talked about behavioral phenomenon ever since social media has taken over our lives. The word itself became so popular that it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013!

Until now, FOMO was a term that was applicable to the Internet junkies. However, given its psychological impact, it is now also commonly used to describe a human tendency. Surprisingly, FOMO has taken even the community of entrepreneurship in its grip.

Before we delve further into how entrepreneurship and FOMO are related, let’s first understand what exactly FOMO is.

study titled ‘Motivational, Emotional and Behavioural Correlates of Fear Of Missing Out’ defines FOMO as

the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out – that your peers are doing, in the know about, or in possession of more or something better than you.

In this study, nearly three-quarters of young adults reported that they had experienced the phenomenon.

People who are experiencing FOMO are always craving for more and possess ‘I want that or I want to know too’ attitude. If they don’t get what they want, it instils anxiety and depression in them.

Now, let’s understand FOMO in the context of entrepreneurship.

The first FOMO that entrepreneurs experience is related to opportunities. Entrepreneurs are wired to think that there is nothing worse than missing an opportunity that could have changed their life. This opportunity could be an idea, an investor or anything that matters to launching or growing the business – if only I had an opportunity to put my idea into action, if only I could have one meeting with the investor, and so forth.

As an entrepreneur, you should accept that entrepreneurship is all about success, failure, and missed opportunities. It’s good to be ambitious and seek opportunities, but don’t let this become an obsession. Sometimes, you just need to turn down an opportunity and wait for another one. You have to take a leap of faith and learn to say ‘no’. Like Kenny Nguyen, CEO-Founder of Big Fish Presentations and co-author of the book ‘The Big Fish Experience’ did.

He refused to attend the popular reality show ‘Shark Tank’ which gives aspiring entrepreneurs a platform to make business presentations to the investors. Of course, it was a big opportunity but somehow he felt that it was not the right time for him to participate in his venture was only a year old.

Instead, he focused all his energy on making his startup the best among the others. Today, Big Fish Presentations is one of the fastest growing companies in the startup ecosystem. Kenny Nguyen advises his peers to focus on the right opportunity, not every opportunity.

Entrepreneurs also suffer from FOMO on success. Agreed that every entrepreneur wants to become a winner, but success takes its own sweet time to give its taste to you. It’s one thing to have a vision and another thing to forget the journey that takes you there.  You should not let the fear of ‘what my successful business look like’ to stall your today’s efforts to grow it.

Keep the success in mind, but do not expect an instant win. Sometimes, it is better to adhere to the maxim ‘Slow and Steady Win The Race’.  Anu Sharma, the founder of HR Practice firmly believes so and says, “It’s not always the big leap which is needed to start off – it’s fine to take small steps and begin your journey.”

Then, there is also FOMO on a commitment to the company. Give the time, energy, money and emotions that they have invested in their business, entrepreneurs fear of exiting it even if they know that it is heading south in terms of expected targets, revenue, and profits.

This kind of behavior is also known as ‘sunk cost fallacy’ which make them continue running their company even when it is not the best thing to do. They fear on missing out on the possible success the business can bring if they stay invested.

The millennial entrepreneurs are believed to be the worst sufferers of FOMO syndrome. In fact, a report on the millennials cites that FOMO is not a cultural phenomenon, it’s an epidemic. Entrepreneurship is a trend for the millennials.

Everyone has (at least they think so!) or is looking for the billion-dollar idea that will put them in the league of Azim Premji, Sachin Bansal, Sergey Brin or Mark Zuckerberg. They want to experience entrepreneurship just for the thrill of it, without thinking it through.

FOMO in entrepreneurship is good as long as it does not make you depressed, stressful or restless. It can have a serious impact on your mental and physical well-being. Every entrepreneurial venture has its own story and journey. You can’t guarantee success or avoid failure – you can only keep working on specific goals and recognize the tradeoffs.

This article contributed by Vijay Shekhar Sharma. It first appeared in Inc42.

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6 Great Questions to Lead Your Team

Being a leader requires the ability to build rapport with your team. Those following you must have good reason to do so. Every time you have a one-on-one, you have a big opportunity to add to and build that individual rapport.

Here are six great questions to structure those one-on-ones with your team. Use this in some form or another every time you get that golden opportunity to sit with each individual on your team.

The 6 questions are:

Where are WE going?

Ask this intentionally so that the employee or follower is able to express in their own words their understanding of the current state. Let them tell you what they understand to be the mission and direction. If the answer catches you off guard, then maybe you have a big disconnect that needs to be handled immediately.

The “we” here is about the team. Be sure to gauge whether the individual’s understanding is in step with the team direction you hope for.

Where are YOU going?

This is a logical follow-up to #1. If the person expresses a correct team direction but shares a personal variance in what they think is happening, then you have another opportunity to connect and correct.

The where are you going question also measures engagement. When an individual has begun to disengage with the team, they must be offered the opportunity to reconnect.

What do you think you are doing well?

This is a great opportunity to let the individual team member express their pride foro what might be working for them. Let them share their focus. Again though, if there is a bit of misalignment, this is the perfect opportunity to realign, recalibrate the role and the duties to set the path for better performance.

By allowing the person to share, you open the communication letting them state in their own words the accomplishments they view as significant.

What are some suggestions for improvement?

Open the door for individual dialogue about ways to improve things. The people who are on the frontlines see things differently than you. Be open to listening to these observations. You just might get the next great idea.

How can I help?

This may be the most powerful of all questions a manager/leader can ask a follower. Letting them know you are there to help is the biggest proof of your commitment to seeing them succeed. Don’t say it if you don’t mean it, but use it sincerely and you will see team commitment rise significantly.

If something is suggested, you must follow through to get it resolved or delivered. Don’t let this golden opportunity fall flat on its face from your inability to deliver. If the ask is too big, then say so. Explain what the limitations are, but be real. Let the person know they were heard and that you understand.

What suggestions do you have for me to be a better manager?

This is last but by no means the least of these 6 questions. Again, your hope should be to receive sincere feedback. Your response should be an open acceptance of what you get told. If all you do is ask the question but recoil, then you’ve missed the opportunity.

However, if you take the suggestion and do something with the feedback, you build great rapport and trust.

Speaking of Trust

Trust is at the root of the best performing teams. Building an atmosphere of high trust keeps the whole team engaged with you as the boss. Having the rapport through regular, recurring one-on-ones with your team, using these six questions, will keep the trust growing.

Team Trust

Team Trust

When trust is present, people can accept bad news. They won’t necessarily like it but they can better accept it when they know you have their backs. They get to that end by seeing you make the effort to build the rapport at each chance you get. As rapport improves, so will the trust they have.

Call to Action

If you are a manager or executive who needs a little help with any of these ideas, perhaps a coach can help. To learn more about the coaching I do, schedule a call to speak with someone about the programs and ways we can help.

Also, let me introduce you to the Big 5 Performance Management process. This system revolutionizes the old, inefficient annual performance review systems. It has been implemented in dozens of companies, plus it has already won awards for innovation in HR circles. Big 5 sets the framework for fast, simple, and efficient employee feedback, guaranteeing your get the opportunity to ask these 6 questions monthly with each and every employee. Big 5 is a big winner, highly regarded by employers and employees everywhere who have started using Big 5.

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