Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Being Exceptional 101

Why is it that we all, especially when we’re young, get stuck wanting to fit-in, blend; be part of the crowd, instead of doing the obvious and being exceptional?
Being exceptional may take some creativity and it definitely means having to be bold. Yet isn’t the act of being exceptional and the way it inspires others worth it?
I find the older I get, my noticing exceptional, or my being inspired is not an easy feat. Therefore, when I do notice exceptional, it tends to really get my attention.
Recently I was visiting my daughter for her birthday and we went to a Thai/Vietnamese restaurant. I’d actually been told about the restaurant prior to her moving to the area, along with a few other spots that we’d already frequented. The other spots were good, a couple of them, the word “groovy” would even apply. Upon pulling into this place I thought it too would be good, and likely a little groovy. When we walked in however, what I discovered was much much more.
Literally, upon stepping onto their front patio you were immediately transported to another place and time. You were in a foreign land that was colorful, ancient, and wise. Everywhere you looked, every nuance was on-point. Upon being seated in an outdoor back area, guests were placed in their own private little shacked area. The food came and it was perfect and there was tons of it. I had to visit the restroom during dinner. I found that it too heavily and fully held that same ancient charm the rest of the restaurant did. I left inspired and in awe. I’d experienced exceptional. It had crept up on me, taken hold, and it was wonderful.
What does it mean to be exceptional?  According to Merriam Webster: unusually good : much better than average.

I would say that I have to agree with Merriam Webster, but I’d go a little bigger. Exceptional is noteworthy and bold. Exceptional is breathtaking, memorable, makes an impact and inspires. Thank you to all who have the guts to go the exceptional route. I aspire daily to catch-up with you; and when I see and experience you, I go a little faster.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Listen up

When you’re in this biz, the PR/marketing biz, you’re an advisor. One of the firms I worked with the proprietor and CEO was adamant about our being advisors and leading the client. I often scratched my head in bewilderment at how much we led, but didn’t listen.
Shortly after that stint, I founded CCS. I wanted and needed to be with my family more, loved what I was doing, but thought there MUST be a better way of working with clients and I was going to find it, discover it, create it! My intention, my big idea, was to listen. I wanted to be a good listener. The thought… a good listener could in turn be a good advisor.
That was nine years ago. I’ve learned a lot since then, and I’m happy to report that it works. Our culture is to first listen, really listen, then advise and then, at the end of the day, respect our client’s wishes whether they’ve taken the counsel they’ve been given or decided upon a different path. It’s simple, but hey, it works and that’s what matters.

Monday, April 11, 2016

My Mentor

Mentor is a big word. It’s a word that has a lot of meaning. When I was a young woman I remember hearing it on TV or a movie, or by someone giving a speech thanking their mentor and thinking how cool it was, the idea of someone caring enough about someone’s future, fostering growth, that they’d take that person under their wing and make them better.
Fast forward a couple of years, I’m working in marketing and sales support, DB (we’ll call him) is hired and becomes my boss. This guy is old school, not super old, but definitely old school. He knows everybody, has a great, big reputation, he’s all that and shocker, he’s not a fan of me (or so I thought).
He was savvy, his dress, his talk, how he worked people, how he got things done (his way), he had more leeway than I’d ever seen anyone in the company have. He was smooth. Unfortunately, when I walked into the room all that savviness was out the window and was replaced with hardnosed, hard assed DB. It felt many times like he was two people and in fact looking back, he was.
To everyone else he was an associate, a co-worker, an employee, a friend, but to me, for me, he was a mentor. I will never be able to forgive how hard he was on me, but more importantly I’ll never forget how much better he made me. His lessons, though hard, stuck with me, made an impression and are with me still today. In truth, I didn’t like him very much. I respected him, but I didn’t like him.
Instead, I’ll always be grateful that he saw something in me and instead of taking the easy road of being the nice guy with me, like he was with everyone else, he took a different road and fostered what was to be great in me.  

Thank you DB.

What my mentor taught me:

It’s not about me. It’s about what’s best for the company.
Show up, whether you’re sick, down, hung-over, show up because you’re expected to.
It’s the good ‘ole boys club. Work with it, not against.
Work harder, work smarter than everyone else.
Don’t involve “feeling” words into any verbal or written communications (ie I think we should… Instead should be, I recommend we…)

Monday, April 4, 2016

Best business practices for working from home

Best business practices for working from home
I’ve read all kinds of statistics and known so many people who loved the idea of working from home, but couldn’t make working from home, work (no pun intended).
I get it. All the things that make working from home sound so great, are also the things that make it so tough.

_No boss looking over your shoulder
_Working at your own schedule
_Spending more time with your family
_No chatty co-workers consuming or wasting your time
_No commute to work (wasted time)

_No structure, easy to get lazy
_Really easy to do laundry or do a Netflix day. That press release can wait until tomorrow
_Lonely, no one to talk to, bounce ideas off of
_Easy to become disconnected, recluse

So with all that, how does it work? How can it work?
_1 Put structure to your business. Business practices. Everyone has a boss, even if you’re your own boss. Accountability. Accountability to yourself first and then to your clients.
_2 Have a routine. Ie. Mine. Get up. Make coffee. Drink coffee. Work, work, work. If you want to throw in a chore set a time limit for it ie. 30min clean house and do laundry. Set a timer. Once the timer rings. It’s back to work.
_3 Include your family as much as possible. This is tough when you have little kids, but involving them in your business in even some small way helps them understand the importance of what you do and the time it takes to do it.
_4 Make friends, find other “like minded” people in your profession or a related one talk through ideas, find ways of collaborating, brainstorm. You know the idea, two heads are better than one, three heads are better than two and so on and so on.