CEO Roundtable

Date: July 20th, 2012

Location: Kirkland Public Library 3308 Kirkland Ave, Kirkland WA

Time: 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM (Meets Monthly)

Registration: www.ideal-companies.com

This is a roundtable discussion of business issues faced by business owners, CEO’s and motivated entrepreneurs, including solo entrepreneurs and small business professionals. Each attendee will have the opportunity to highlight an issue they face in growing their business. Other attendees will offer their input based on their own knowledge and experience. This event is a very dynamic form of the mastermind. Please come and participate in this learn and share event.

TEAM of One

TEAM of OneI was having lunch with a colleague of mine the other day and he asked me how my latest project was going.  After lamenting about how much I have left to accomplish.  I felt compelled to add something that made me feel really strong.  I said, “Never underestimate the power of a great team behind, beside and in front of you.”

As “Father’s Day” has come and gone and I am knee deep into the process of publishing a book based on some of my father’s infinite wisdom he imparted on me when I was young.  I can’t help but think about the day he retired for the last time (and yes, he has retired twice).  I was asked to speak and before I uttered a single word I looked out over the audience and saw the faces of the people my father had touched and those who were with him along the way during this part of his journey.  I’m not sure what possessed me to say this, but as I  thought about him and where I was in life, I said.  “Each of us walks a path that at times that was paved by those who come before us.”

So as I am knee deep into publishing this book I wanted to say “thank you” to everyone who has helped make this dream possible.  Continue reading “TEAM of One” »

The Dance

Welcome to the dance! Many of the networking groups available today have a technique called the dance. The dance is when two members of the networking group get together and spend about an hour getting to know each other. Each person takes about half of the time and talks about who they are and what they need as far as referrals. This generally gives the participants a good insight into the other person and they are able to refer them to much higher level.

I like to take the concept of the dance a little further than just a networking technique. Over the years I have met and danced with the number of people. A lot of those people became good friends and the rest good acquaintances. I believe this technique is something that most people should do on a regular basis. Invite somebody that you want to get to know better have a cup coffee, and interview them, get to know them, and share a little of yourself with them.

This last Saturday, I had a dance Liz Tidyman. We set about an hour, at Tully’s, to share a cup of coffee and a few stories. As they say time passes when having fun, so three hours later Liz and I were still chatting. It was a delightful time, we talked about the three forbidden topics – sex, politics and religion. We also talked about our time in scouting, schooling, business and life in general. During our discussion, I got to know Liz an entirely different level than our time in Tuesday’s with Deborah. She is a wonderful, intellectual and caring person. I’m glad we had the dance!

My recommendation to all of you is welcome to the dance. Pick a person who you’d like to get to know better, set a time for cup coffee, and enjoy the dance.

Stop Doing It or Start Charging For It

Wow! This empowering, liberating, affirming, respectful, and somewhat scary message dominated part of the March 27 TwD session. Karin Q was the good natured, curious, courageous, authentic, valuable expert whose knowledge base and practices were the subject of discussion. What a gift to the group that we could all hear, and hopefully learn, so much in the “laboratory” discussion around what is near and dear to her heart.

Later in the day, I felt a jolt! I have already established a market rate for the personal advocacy I have done with friends and family for twelve years! Some years ago, a young adult friend was hit by a car and sustained disabling injuries. She had no local family, and so our family simply said, “We are your family.” I was with her every day for a while, then intermittently for a long time. It was gift. It is simply “what we do in the world.”

But there came a time that she said, “You have always said it isn’t about money, but the reality is the responsible party has taken responsibility for this situation and I have received a check. You gave me the gift that you could give when I needed it, and I fear you will not allow me the same privilege.” I said, “My friend, of course I will accept a gift with gratitude. Just as you did. But this was never a marketplace transaction between us.” We did not discuss numbers, she simply wrote a check that represented value. And let’s just say that no one needed to fear getting in trouble with the I.R.S. over excess gift taxes, but….. the gift was sizable.

The details of that year have faded from my memory, but I knew our discussion yesterday applied to me in some way.  All afternoon I wondered, “what would be a market value for my expertise?” To my surprise, these events came back to me. I did the math in my head and called my friend saying, “I am so grateful for a gift you have given me that I never appreciated before right now. So I called you immediately. Remember the events of all those years ago? Well…. because of you, I can say to future clients, ‘my going rate is [a certain amount] per hour.’ ”

I came to TwD hoping to gain what I needed to simply write a blog that others might benefit. And that will happen. Soon. I have developed content and a blog name, acquired a domain name, and I depart today on what I regard on a WordPress learning retreat. I hope to have a blog to share with you next Tuesday.

I never imagined it might be the start of an income stream. It is not an income stream the family needs to keep the lights turned on, but value is value. The words “Stop Doing It or Start Charging” apply to me.

Now outside the building he helped build

Five years ago, fourteen tower cranes dominated the Bellevue Washington skyline. Real estate development was booming. Then the financial market bubbles burst, with widespread impact. Everyone in the community knows developers, architects, engineers, and others whose personal lives changed along with economic times.

I recently encountered one of these friends, James. He drew my attention upward to the office building at the corner of 110th Ave NE and NE 6th Street. The building says “Microsoft” across the top, and it is near City Hall.

“That was my last project,” he said. “We completed it in December 2007. My crew was laid off in January 2008. There were no more construction jobs. I lost my apartment in May 2010. I have four technical degrees, honorable discharges from two branches of the military, and I haven’t been able to get a job since then.”

The people made jobless and homeless as “collateral damage” of the financial meltdown are not faceless “others.” One is James. Look for him selling the Real Change Newspaper near the Bellevue Transit Center. You’ll know him when you see him: he wears shorts and hiking boots 12 months a year. He wants to work, so he sells Real Change.

He would like to use more of this time “between jobs” doing handyman work for people in the community. Maybe even at the homes of people who have jobs in that building that he helped to build. Before he lost his job and then his home.

CEO Roundtable March 16th

Date: March 16th, 2012

Location: Kirkland Public Library 3308 Kirkland Ave, Kirkland WA

Time: 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM (Meets Monthly)

Registration: www.ideal-companies.com

This is a roundtable discussion of business issues faced by business owners, CEO’s and motivated entrepreneurs, including solo entrepreneurs and small business professionals. Each attendee will have the opportunity to highlight an issue they face in growing their business. Other attendees will offer their input based on their own knowledge and experience. This event is a very dynamic form of the mastermind. Please come and participate in this learn and share event.

CEO Roundtable February 17th

This is a roundtable discussion of business issues faced by business owners, CEO’s and motivated entrepreneurs, including solo entrepreneurs and small business professionals. Each attendee will have the opportunity to highlight an issue they face in growing their business. Other attendees will offer their input based on their own knowledge and experience. This event is a very dynamic form of the mastermind. Please come and participate in this learn and share event.

This is a monthly event and generally meets on the third Friday of the month.  We meet at the Kirkland Library, 308 Kirkland Ave, Kirkland, WA.  Time is 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM.  Register at www.ideal-companies.com.

Our Best Laid Plans…

When one actually thinks about planning their life.  I think their eyes role back in their head.  I know mine used to.  Then I started thinking about something.  We are so engrossed in everyone else’s lives except our own.  To truly embrace the art of working for yourself you have to have a plan for your life.  You must dream and I mean big.  It’s not something you can do half way.  Most of us have this vague idea of this things we want to do some day.  We things like “I can’t wait to retire”.  Well, what the heck are you going to do then?  Most of us just can’t wait to not have to go to the same place we’ve hated to show up and work at for the last 13 years.  We haven’t thought beyond our last day.  Well, as my grandmother used to say “if you plan something half way, you only get half”.  If you know there is something you want to do in your heart why not go for it.  I mean all of the way.  I think that’s why I love it when I hear people talking about going back to school to learn a new trade or get another degree, certificate or starting a business.  Usually, this is something they have thought about for a while, or that dream that wouldn’t let go of them.  The truth is, that it’s in the planning for what we want that our life comes alive. They’ve planned for this thing that they are doing to mean something in their life.  This is where I often see that light beginning to shine for some.  They are embracing the art of working for yourself.  Creating a path toward living life of their terms.  Not waiting for some else’s version of what they think they should do.

For as long as I can remember I was told to get a job.  That was my fate.  Grow up, go to school and get a job.  Be that good little worker bee, let alone working for myself or start my own business.  I think practically every day I heard this in some shape or form.  My grandfather would say, you know, one day when you get a job you’ll see what I mean.  Or my mother would look at my grades and say you’re going to have to do better if you want to get a “good” job when you graduate.  And let’s not forget all of the job fairs I attended my junior and senior year in college.  I believe the education system we have in this country is one of the best and yet the blind spot that we have for our lives is evident.  We have been taught to deny our every desire and to work until you can’t work anymore and retire.  Everybody I knew worked for someone else and for some other reason than their own.  My parents, aunts uncles and family friends.  That’s the hand most of were dealt.  There was no other option.  Besides if you did it right along the way you got promoted and left the shop floor to supervise the rest of us who were left behind.  That was the real prize.  To no longer do what they hired you to do.  Then if the company really liked you and you stayed long enough you got a gold watch.  Oh, and don’t forget your pension.  You’re now set for life.  It didn’t seem like I had any control over my destiny.  So for years I just worked and dreamed about doing something different.  I think in every job I had, I just did it.  I was just after the pay check.  And that is where this all began for me.  I had to figure out why we for some reason check out for most of our lives as we work.  We don’t necessarily hate what we do, but don’t love it either.  At least most of us don’t.  We just turn into these worker bees working and creating the nectar for the hive.

I think having a little order and a system can be a good thing.  I’m trying to make a point.  No wonder we ended up here.  We have been told that we will be taken care of by the companies we work for, by our government and unions we support.  Not to worry and that they have our best interest at heart.  But, were does responsibility for our own lives enter in the equation.  I think right here would be as good a place as any.  Here’s why.  Companies owe you nothing.  You owe it to yourself to live your best life and to get what you want. Once you do this you are starting to embrace the art of working for yourself.  You are opening your mind to the possibilities of making a definite plan for your life.

They’ve done studies on people who have written out a plan for their lives.  Some in great detail.  The most fascinating thing about this study is that most of the poeple who wrote something down accomplished just about everything wrote down and set out to do.  I believe there is magic in writing down what you want.  It is something that comes from you, created by your hands on to paper for you to see immediately.  Your energy, your words, your dreams, your life.  Alive and in living color or blue or black ink.  Depends on what you are writing with.

It’s time you begin to re-think your life and your work.   We have become too dependent on forces outside of our control hoping and praying for a better out come.  There are times when the effort and responsibility falls squarely in our own  hands and we must act.  I have watched people resist the change that is happening all around them and fight to keep things the same in an effort to not have to think or act for themselves.  When you think about it.  They have not ever  and probably fear the thought of taking stock of the resources around them and to plan for a new way of life now that things are different.

Sure change is scary, but so is not know what you are going to do next.  This is where embracing the art of working for yourself and creating a path for you to follow toward what you want to have and how you want to live can make change and the way you look at it understandable.  Thus tempering our fear of the unknown.  This is what having a plan and writing it down can do for you.  It give voice to your vision and purpose to your actions.  Give it a try.  Write down a few plans and see what happens.  You’ll be amazed at what comes next.  Until next time be well.

 

What Is Your Elevator Speech?

You are at a networking event (breakfast, Lunch, dinner, trade show, golf tournament or a meeting) and you start talking with someone and they ask you what you do?  What is your answer?

You are calling a great prospect on the phone—trying to set up an appointment—and you finally get them on the line.  What do you say?

You are in an elevator and in walks the prospect you’ve been trying to reach for a year. You have 15 seconds to make an impression. What do you say?

You may ask “What is an elevator speech?”  An elevator speech is a brief description of what you do and who you do it for.  It describes how you offer value, benefit and quality to your customer.

 I call these statements “benefit statements,” for they focus on the benefits you offer your customer, as opposed to focusing on what it is you do.

As an example, a client used to say that she was an interior designer.  Today she says: “I work with people who want to have beautiful homes.”  A CPA client of mine now says:  “I help people keep more of their money by showing them how to pay less in taxes.”   My elevator speech goes like this is: I help companies develop “Top of the Mind” consciousness that keeps them from becoming the “Best Kept Secret in Town”.  Would that be a help to your business?

Write down a list of the BENEFITS that your customers derive from working with you. Then use those words/phrases to create your benefit statement.

Practice, practice and more practice!  Do so until it is a natural thing to say—someone could wake you up in the middle of the night and you would repeat your elevator speech.

Remember that this opening speech is what buys you time and gets the other person to respond to you in a favorable way.  Develop you elevator speech today and you will be getting additional business each and every time someone says “What is it that you do?”

Do You Really Want What They Have?

When I think about the art of working for yourself, I can’t help but think about how we think about others, how they live and what they do for work an how much money they make.  We can’t help ourselves but to go there.  Most of the time we imagine that those who we think make lots of money and have infinite time on their hands are some sort of chupacabra and their life is somehow better than ours.  The funny thing is upon closer inspection most of our lives area just as chaotic as the person who sits next to us in our cubical or lives in our cul-de-sac.  No one man or woman having cart blanche on time, money or mental stability.

Why is this even relevant?  Why do you compare yourself to someone else?  Oh, final question, do you really want their life?  If so, why don’t you want to the one you have?  I know I went really Deepak Chopra on you, but let’s think about this.  Are you really in competition for the same dollars?  When you purchased your car did you get the exact same one?  Or something similar with the specification you wanted to have. The company you work for pays you and also pays the person next to you.  Maybe not the same salary, but close.  Okay, maybe more.  Just joking.  But you get my drift.  Why not take competition out of the equation and think about your work and how you live in a way that inspires you?  Think of it in this way.  Both you and your neighbor can have the same opportunity and both of you will look at taking advantage of this opportunity in your own way in your own time and possibly even using different resources.  The art of working for yourself begins to show itself in just this way.  By doing things in the way you want to do them.  This is probably one the hardest thing to do and re-learn.  Because, doing things you want to do and in the way you want to do them takes effort.  A lot of effort, until you get the hang of it.

Where we most of the time slip into competition with others is when we have settled for less at some time or another in our lives and feel we must take from others  or beat them to the prizein an effort to level the playing field.  Most of the time by force, mentally or physically.  Then there is usually some sort of satisfaction of false justice you feel believing in part that everything is right with the universe culminating in an end-zone dance.  Not even thinking for a minute that what you have is not really yours.  You didn’t create it, you probably didn’t even think about until you saw it in their hands and then thought about it.  No matter what you call it, I’m sure in some beliefs there are some commandments, covenants or laws of attraction that come into play here.  All of which aren’t good.  My father always told me to run my own race.

It’s not really your fault.  We learn to compete with each other from the time we are very young.  To want what isn’t rightfully ours through hard work towards something that we think we want nor haven’t dreamt about.  We have worked for someone else for so long we haven’t had an independent thought about what we want for our lives since we played with G.I. Joe or Barbie.  When we got our jobs and started working for the man (or woman).  Was it the job we always wanted or just a place holder until we found the job we really wanted only to wake up and realize that you have eaten lunch with the same people for the last 15 years?  Some of us even attended company picnics and workshops to improve your productivity and learn how to do more with less.  Let me re-translate this.  How they can get more from you.  There, that’s better.  Listen, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this.  This is how business works.  If my business isn’t  efficient, I’m wasting money.  The same goes for the company you work for.  If you aren’t putting out, they are wasting money.  It’s getting so most companies are like a cross between the movies Office Space and Gatika.   We just get to wear khakis and sweat pants that’s all.

Some of us dream of lives that are truly incredible.  Actually, most of us do.  However we fail to make the connection that our actions must follow this inspired thought.  This is the rock on which most of our dreams get smashed.  We fail to put our dreams into action.  Sure we sometimes make a half hearted effort only to give up at the first sign of adversity or criticism.  To live the art of working for yourself is to take the vision of what you want and keep so firmly fixed in your mind that you not only believe that you have what you want.  But you will begin to design plans to make it so.  Your actions will become inspired and one with your thoughts.  Bringing you closer to the art of working for yourself.  This will not be easy.  Most of us find it hard because we have this weak and cloudy idea of what we want.  We haven’t taken the time to form a clear and precise thought of what it is we truly desire.  You can’t just have a desire to have lots of money, time on your hands and to be world traveler.  Isn’t that what we all want?

Some would argue that we are lazy.  I would say, not really.  We just haven’t flexed this muscle in a long time.  If I were to tell you to make a phone call to your favorite pizza restaurant you would pick up the phone and dial a particular number.  You’d probably know what you want to eat because you’ve memorized the menu after eating there every other week since the placed showed up in your neighborhood five years ago.  I bet you can even taste it as you are placing the order.  This is the type of clarity you embrace in the art of working for yourself.  Creating that focused thought that is undeniably yours and yours alone.  Calling you to live your best life and to never settle for less than you can attain.  The more we take successful action towards the life and work of our choosing, the more we are living the art of working for yourself.  When was the last time you allowed yourself to act on an inspired thought?  How did it turn out?  Until next time.  Be well.