Adapting Your Business Plan, Adapting Your Role: Entrepreneur, Wife, & Mother

Entrepreneurship Offers Women a Unique Opportunity to Find BalanceGuest post by Elizabeth Groh, Assistant Professor and Department Chair of Faculty Development for Tempe, AZ-based Western International University

Life is marked by those moments of epiphany that change our course. Mine came at an altitude of about 3,000 feet in the back of a news helicopter.

I’ll never forget that night: I was sitting mere inches away from my male colleague, trying to maintain a shred of privacy. Although reporters and photojournalists are used to working closely together, this was too close for comfort. Surely, I thought, even with the noise of the chopper blades, he could hear the whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of my breast pump underneath my overcoat.

That’s when I realized: something had to give. I could balance mom duties with work duties. But did I want to? Or need to?

At that altitude, I suddenly saw life more clearly. Our newborn daughter, Christina, had changed me. I no longer craved a life that was 24/7 “on call” for someone else. If I was going to be “on call,” it would be on my terms – focused on my family. I needed a new plan.

So long, W-2 world. Hello, entrepreneurship.

That was 21 years ago. Since then I have come to appreciate how the world of entrepreneurship offers women the unique opportunity to tailor their professional lives around the changing life cycles of womanhood. That has proven true from days of diapers – to pee-wee soccer – to college campus visits – to now caring for the needs of aging parents.

Entrepreneurship opens the door for women to maximize their God-given gifts as consummate multi-taskers, pragmatic problem-solvers, and intuitive leaders. While the roles may change over the years, those gifts remain assets we can draw upon no matter what the calling may be.

Take multi-tasking.

Yes, as a much younger work-at-home mom, juggling was my forte in my new post-journalism business of real estate sales/investing. I could write an offer in one hand and hold a bottle in the other.

Fast forward to my “sandwich generation” years and I may find myself dealing with the parental health scare du jour while texting a teen about a research project…all while sitting on the floor of a vacant listing during a home inspection.

Owning my own business allows me to tap into those strengths of multi-tasking and creative problem-solving. But the gift of entrepreneurship is far greater.

We don’t “own” a business. We “own” a mindset that empowers us to confidently adapt our business model to whatever life throws at us (good or bad).

I have embraced that entrepreneurial mindset of “owning” control of my business model. That is why, as our nest empties, I am redirecting my energies towards giving back as an assistant professor and department chair for Tempe-based Western International University. That is a path designed to lead me through these “giving back” years I choose to create in this new season of life.

So, as your life’s story evolves as a woman, embrace change as your constant. Be willing to let go of a model that may have worked well for you in one season, but may work against you in another. If you harness your entrepreneurial drive wisely, you can tailor your business to drive through the waves of life’s seasons instead of being tossed around by them. That is the true gift entrepreneurship offers women of all ages – and in all stages of life’s journey.

The content herein is that of the author and does not reflect the position or opinion of Western International University. Elizabeth Groh, MSJ is an Assistant Professor and Department Chair of Faculty Development for Tempe, AZ-based Western International University. She owns a real estate brokerage firm in Oklahoma City and has been a real estate entrepreneur for more than 20 years, both in sales and investing. Beth and her husband Jeff have three children ages 21, 19, and 16 and are actively involved in the community through their church and its parochial school.

Create Your Vision Path in 2016

Business Vision PathBy Laura Dornbusch

You are thinking this should be an article for January, but read on and it will become clear why we should readdress our New Year’s Resolutions.

As you look back on 2015, do you feel satisfied with your results or do you stare at a familiar unorganized disarray path of unfulfilled dreams? Ten years ago you didn’t expect to be where you are today. You ventured off course, and you’re telling yourself that this year will be different than the year before. You put pen to paper and list out your goals for 2016, tape it to the bathroom mirror and continue your positive self-talk until March rolls around.

As the year goes on something happens to the majority of us who make New Year’s resolutions and it probably happens to you too. You reduce your gym visits from five days a week to one, your green juice breakfast turns into coffee and a Pop Tart and you get stuck in a never ending round-about that leads to nowhere.

You lose sight of your business vision and you start to feel hopeless, but this year is different. The University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology states, “People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.” This year you’ll create a vision path that leads to celebration rather than disappointment.

Creating a Business Vision Path

Creating a vision path takes New Year’s resolutions to the next level of action and achievement. It’s a visual representation of your path with clear actions, milestones and celebrations that take your dreams off of the paper and breathes life into them.

Creating a vision path is easy and inexpensive. Start by designating a space in your home or office that you visit daily. Then find some sticky notes and a pen and get started with these simple steps:

  1. Begin with the end in mind. Start by listing what you want to celebrate at the end of the year. These are the goals you typically write down as your New Year’s resolutions. The difference is that instead of writing them on a single piece of paper, you’ll write them on sticky notes on the far right of your designated space.
  2. Determine monthly and quarterly milestones. Working backwards from your goals, write down 12 major milestones that you expect to accomplish throughout the year. Start with December and end with January. The sticky note for January should be on the left side of your designated space. You will most likely start in April this year.
  3. List tactical actions for each milestone. List the actions that you need to take to complete each milestone on sticky notes. Then place the actions to the left of each milestone.

After you’ve completed this activity, you should have what looks like a strip of sticky notes in a line across your designated space. As you complete each action, pull that sticky note down and celebrate it. No, I mean, REALLY, celebrate it, do the happy dance, enjoy a glass of wine with someone special and share your success. Do something that cements in the feeling of a great accomplishment, because you just surpassed most of your peers, who quit before all the sticky notes were even written.

Celebrating Accomplishments

When I led my team at Expo Chemical Co, Inc., I encouraged the sales team by creating a board of gold stars to recognize achievements. The gold stars were an inexpensive way to have fun and reward success. People would stop me in the hall and tell me that more stars had gone up. Over the next few weeks, I saw all of them work hard to receive that recognition.

Celebrating accomplishments doesn’t have to be expensive, but they should be visual. The visual element of celebration provides encouragement to yourself and others to focus on future goals and confidence that they will be achieved.

Don’t let 2016 be a year of disappointment and disarray. Invest a few hours in yourself to set up your business vision path and a few minutes each day working toward your goals. Do one thing today to get you closer to where you want to be in 2015 and if you need someone to encourage you along the way, consider joining my Change Your Business Life coaching program. This program is solely focused on creating success for your and your business in 2016. I am anxiously waiting to celebrate your successes with you!

About Laura Dornbusch

I assist C-Level executives and entrepreneurs strategically plan their future; both in business and their own passions.  We work together to assess their true passions utilizing proven tools  If necessary, we assist in building the teams needed to take their businesses to the next level.  I believe that you hold the answers to the life you want to live. You just need to find the key to unlock them. You can live the life you deserve, but you are responsible for taking steps towards that dream. One day you will no longer need me, and that will be the greatest achievement of our time together.

Challenging Digital Boundaries

Technology OverwhelmIf your doctor only glanced at your chart before telling you that you have cancer and that you need surgery, you’d likely get a second opinion. If your surgeon greeted you on the morning of surgery and told you that he was awake the night before answering emails from the hospital’s chief of staff, you’d likely jump off the table and run. Yet, in the name of customer service, we expect lawyers, accountants and other professionals to respond quickly to emails and be available 24/7. We have forgotten the value of a thoughtful response and well-rested professionals.

Employees respond to the growing digital pressure. A report by Knowledge at Wharton revealed that 83% of professional workers check their emails after work, 66% take their technology with them on vacation, and more than 50% report sending emails while having a meal with family or friends. The MIT Sloan Management Review reported that 73% of employees worry that they will be at a disadvantage at work if they disconnect or do not instantly respond.

Even when not pressured by the boss, many adults are as addicted to their smartphone as their children. Some adults check emails and texts more than 150 times a day. These urges are fueled by a psychological need to feel wanted, important and avoid “missing out.” Failure to respond immediately results in stress, worry and fear so the sender makes more attempts to communicate and overwhelms others’ and their inboxes.

Triaging work emails at night contributes to stress because emails are like rabbits — they multiply. Emails beget responses, which beget replies. Additionally, checking emails from the boss or clients before bedtime contributes to insomnia.

A “faster is better” customer service style and a constantly connected work force is costly. Professionals who do not disconnect suffer from chronic stress, which contributes to physical and mental health issues. Because time and focus is lost each time one redirects attention from a task to an email and back, employees who are “always connected” are less productive and creative. Personal relationships are impacted too. Many parents sit at the family dinner table focused on messages from colleagues instead of family.

Companies also pay the price for the constantly connected work culture. Pressure to work everywhere and all of the time often results in increased absenteeism, burnout and work/life conflict. Additionally, companies are facing increasing threats of lawsuits from employees, who are seeking compensation for time spent answering emails after hours. This litigation threat may grow, if the Labor Department raises the salary threshold for overtime pay. It is time to challenge assumptions about a constantly-connected workforce.

Since no one wants to be viewed as a slacker, change must start at the top of an organization by revising policies that reflect thicker boundaries between work and home, including agreed-upon offline time. Harvard Professor Leslie Perlow found that just one predictable night off improved job satisfaction for teams. Additionally, work product and productivity can be improved by encouraging employees to disconnect for periods of time during the day to focus on a project. Just as patients want well-rested and thoughtful doctors, clients need to be educated about these benefits for all professionals. To allay fears of important clients and colleagues, key staff can offer their cell numbers, recognizing that people feel less comfortable calling than emailing after hours.

Because role models matter, leaders must model healthy habits with technology and respect others’ boundaries. For example, leaders should put late night emails in the “draft box” to be sent during normal work hours to allow team members to psychologically detach from the office and recover from the workday stress. Consensus among teams and organizations about offline time and reasonable response times will help limit the build up of the inbox over night.

Checking dozens of times each day results in hours of lost productivity and accuracy because time is lost while reorienting to the original task and more mistakes occur after returning to the work task. Productivity and accuracy can be improved by spending focused time on email and turning off notifications between email sessions. For example, employees can schedule 30-minute email sessions three times a day or avoid email until the most important task of the day is done.

For those who feel addicted to technology, digital “recovery” starts by changing their self-talk. For example, it is important to recognize:

  1. people are in charge of technology and not the other way around;
  2. flexibility does not mean always available;
  3. busy answering emails does not mean productive; and
  4. emergencies are rare.

Additionally, like the principle of scarcity, which suggests that people value the things that are not easily available, people who are not always available are valued more by others. Employees should be encouraged to identify their strengths beyond, “always available, first to respond.”

Highly addicted people may need to start small, such as going to the grocery store without a cell phone or doing morning routines without checking email and turning off notifications to quell the urge to check. Separating personal and work emails will avoid inadvertently getting sucked into work matters after hours. Practicing mindfulness — being present and attentive where you are — also improves relationships and boundaries between work and home.

Following a heart attack, one chief executive officer at a national real estate company took a hard look at his life and his company’s “always on” culture. He surprised his employees at a national meeting by challenging them to disconnect more and to create time for deep thought and reflection. In the knowledge economy, people are the company’s greatest assets. Ignoring the costs of the constantly connected work culture is dangerous. There is no need to wait for a wake up call; developing a healthier relationship with and use of technology will benefit the organization, the employees, and their clients.

Jill GoldsmithJill Goldsmith is an executive and leadership coach and professional speaker.  Jill strengthens leaders and teams through coaching that focuses on leadership behavior, communication effectiveness, emotional intelligence, organizational development, and strategic planning.

Guest post by NAWBO member Jill S. Goldsmith, J.D., LAC, NCC. Article originally appeared on the Huffington Post blog.

4 Tools You Need in Your Time Management Toolbox

We all know that we need some kind of list and some kind of calendar to have a well-organized time management system, but what else do we need? What else do we need in our time management toolbox? Make sure you keep these four essential tools close to you.

1. A Pen

How many times have you meant to write something down…and forgotten? We usually do this when we get a deadline and aren’t prepared to notate it in some way. Keep a pen clipped to your To-Do list so it doesn’t get lost among the jumble of other pens that disappear from your desk drawer. Keep a digital list? That’s great! Make sure to keep it with you at all times so you don’t fall victim to forgetting tasks either.

[Read more…]

LACKING PASSION? HERE’S HOW TO FIND IT

One of the most common questions I get when speaking at a conference or film event is, how can I feel passionate about life, when I don’t even know what my passions are? Many people experience these feelings and feel lost in life as a result. I know I once felt that way and this is how I made my way out of that mindset and discovered my purpose and my passion in life. It starts with a great question and an exercise. The question is this: if you could do or be anything, and you had the means to accomplish it, and their was no possibility of failure, would you do or be anything different than what you are doing or being today? If you answered no to this question, that there is nothing you would do different if there was no risk of failure, then there is a pretty good chance that your life is extremely passionate and meaningful and you are living out your dreams.

[Read more…]

3 Easy Ways to Show Gratitude This Holiday Season

thank-you‘Tis the season to show gratitude, give thanks and grow our hearts a few more sizes. Here are three quick and easy ways for you to practice gratitude in your daily life throughout the month.

  1. Write in a gratitude journal every day. And start each entry with… Thank You! Then write down everything you are thankful for that happened in your life since the last entry. How big or small the event is meaningless. The simple of idea of recognizing it and being grateful for it will put you in the mindset to move throughout the new day from a place of gratitude.
  2. Write down three people who act as positive influences in your life. Next write down the reasons they are positive influences on you. Finally, make hand-made gratitude cards to each of these three people. In your cards be vocal with them and let them know how they have impacted your life. Get creative. We recommend feathers and glitter be used but maybe that’s just us.
  3. Say thank you to someone who gets under your skin. They get under your skin to teach you a lesson someway or somehow. So, say thank you and move on. Practice that until you’re able to let them be them as their authentic self. Let you be you and them be them. Say thank you for helping you learn the lesson and be on your way!
Severson Sisters empowers girls in the world through programs and services. Our mission is to inspire girls to live their life as their authentic, awesome, super self. We want them to live as Super Girls and we do that by offering a creative and supportive program called the Severson Sisters Super Girl Program. 
 
Through our program girls learn self-esteem enhancing tools, how to develop and strengthen healthy relationships with their peers and a bullying solution method which helps them handle bullying scenarios in life. Severson Sisters is a 501c3 and we are always graciously welcoming of donations, partners and volunteers.
Carrie Severson
severson sisters

 

5 Questions to Ask Your Un-Finished To-Do List

Oh, the frustration of an unfinished to-do list! Those lingering tasks left without a satisfying check mark beside them. Before you simply roll your unfinished tasks onto tomorrow’s list, stop! Here are five questions to ask yourself when you end the day with uncompleted responsibilities.

  1. Why? What happened that left tasks lingering? Did unexpected situations pop up that took priority? Were you unfocussed? Were you working inefficiently? Taking a moment to analyze the why behind your unfinished list can help you correct the problem in the future.
  2. Am I Being Realistic? Perhaps your list remains habitually unfinished because your expectations are too high. You only have so many hours in the day and you can’t work at your peak efficiency non-stop.
  3. Is Everything Necessary? If the same tasks have lingered at the bottom of your list for weeks…and the world has kept on spinning, are they really necessary? If so, it’s time you make one a focus task for tomorrow and clear it from your plate. If not, get rid of it! Just because you’d like to do something or it might be helpful, doesn’t mean it’s necessary.
  4. Have I Said No Recently? If your list keeps piling up, are you saying “Yes” to too many tasks that don’t realistically fit in your schedule? When was the last time you said “No” to a task? Can’t think of when? Make it tomorrow.
  5. What Can I Do Differently Tomorrow? If you didn’t finish your list today, and you do everything exactly the same tomorrow…you probably won’t finish your list then either. What change will you make to produce a different result? Do you need to wake up earlier? Take an energizing walk over lunch so you’re more productive in the afternoon? Turn off Facebook so you’re more focused?

Come up with a game plan that will put you on the road to success.

Emily Schwartz
TheTimeDiet.org