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Staying Connected in Times of Turmoil

Wherever in the world you're currently located, chances are you're staying home to keep yourself and others safe from the coronavirus (and if you're not staying home, you should!).

Many of my clients are small businesses worried about what this year will look like. Many of my friends are improvisers and performers struggling to make ends meet while their "survival jobs" are on hold. 

I don't have any magic formula and won't pretend to, but I am thankful technology allows us to both work from home and to remain connected even when socially distancing ourselves. 

So if you're feeling sad and rudderless, please reach out to family and friends either via phone or video conference. Everything is better when tackled with the help of others.

Takeaway: ask for help and support when you need it.

Listen Twice as Much as You Speak

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”― Epictetus
If you're a salesperson or ever read a sales book, you're probably familiar with the concept of getting the other person to talk about their needs first. 

In improv, which I've written about before, listening is critical: you're making up things on the spot with your team and if you're not listening to everything being said and established, you'll mess up the scene—literally—for the others. For example, if you don't hear that someone was labeled "Brian" and instead call them "Larry," the audience is pulled out of the story. Or if you didn't hear someone call their scene partner their sister and you label them their wife....You get the picture.
But listening is just as important to non-sales people (and non-improvisers).
If you work with clients, actively listening will show that you care and respect them, and will probably get you better feedback…

Compassion Is Good for Business

For those of us taught to treat people right, it's sometimes hard to stomach how some businesses are run and how some employees are treated. Turns out that leading with compassion is actually good for business. 

I've blogged about the Blinkist app before and how great and useful I find it to be. Today's daily recommendation was for Awakening Compassion at Work: The Quiet Power That Elevates People and Organizations by Monica C. Worline and Jane E. Dutton. 

In brief, there have been scientific studies that prove that if you treat your clients and employees with compassion, you will actually be more profitable—even in hard times! 

Remember this the next time you're stressed and/or fed up either with someone on your team or with a vendor. Everyone—you included—makes mistakes. So just take a deep breath and instead of jumping to the worst conclusion, ask some questions to determine why the mistake happened. (This was also discussed in the blink.)

Not only will your staff willi…

To Outsource or Not

I've spoken about delegating before, but that assumes you already have someone on your team to delegate to. 

Every solopreneur comes to a point (hopefully) where it's too much for them to do everything. Or there are aspects of your business you hate and can't wait to hand them off to someone!

You've probably heard the saying "time is money." Well, that money lost is the opportunity cost associated with not spending your time wisely.

Here's a simple example. Let's say you're running a coaching business and you feel guilty hiring an EA to help you. Although coaching rates vary widely, to make the math easy, let's say you charge clients $100/hour and that you can hire a part-time EA for $20/hour. What this means is that for every hour you're doing admin work, the opportunity cost (ie, the loss) is the additional $80 you could have made coaching.

If your argument is that you don't have enough clients to fill up that time, my answer is to focus…

Delivering Criticism

Have you ever had a great day ruined by someone's careless comment? Well, if you're the "boss," your words are unfortunately even more powerful.

I remember a boss many years ago who was known to send out angry tirades late at night. We all dreaded seeing her name in our inbox past 8 pm.

And then there was a manager I worked with who would rant at her employees in front of others.

First let me say that there is never an excuse to raise your voice at a colleague, employee, or anyone else in a professional setting. That is unprofessionalism at its highest.

Second, if your goal is to help you and your team succeed, then think twice—or maybe even a third time—about how you will deliver that criticism. I believe it should always be done privately, always about the mistake and not the person, and always about helping them learn from that mistake.

If you're not doing it to help them succeed, then you shouldn't be managing them to begin with.

This also applies to your clien…

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

If you've read any personal development or productivity book, chances are you've been directed to plan ahead and perhaps even move your to-do list to your calendar. And while planning ahead is definitely necessary, life and business will quickly teach you that calendars need to be flexible.

I've actually gone back and forth between various "systems" of time blocking and/or just adding things to my calendar. I love knowing what's coming up and what I should do when, but life and business are rarely that orderly.

For example, I started the new year all revved up with my word "optimize" and ready to start healthy habits, but then I sprained my left ankle. As my ankle healed, my right neck and shoulder started acting up (in part due to sleeping badly and in part probably due to compensating for the left ankle's pain), which means I not only wasn't able to do the 30-day Body Groove Challenge, but also missed going to the gym. 

I won't pretend th…

Forgive and Learn from Your Mistakes

Being a founder or owner is hard enough, and there will be many disappointments along the way, so stop punishing yourself for not being perfect or smart enough.

You're not meant to be the hero of your business, nor the person who knows it all or can do it all. Actually, aim for the exact opposite: surround yourself with smarter people and let them lift you and your business higher.

You're also not meant to know it all. How can you? You're creating something from nothing, which requires more bravery and courage than most people have. 

It's okay to make mistakes. It's okay to be wrong, to occasionally be narrow minded, to occasionally make the wrong call...You're human. Running a company doesn't make you superhuman and you shouldn't try to pretend to be that for your staff's sake: they actually will respect you more for being honest and owning up to your mistakes.

Isn't this what you'd want them to do? (If your answer is anything other than yes, w…