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7 Small Steps For Entrepreneurs To Overcome Being Overwhelmed

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how to stop getting overwhelmed

It’s inevitable. That disorienting feeling washes over you at the worst times. You have too much to do, you’re burning through cash, you don’t have much help, and others’ outsized expectations make your head spin and your stomach churn.

I’m not sure I’ve ever met a founder who hasn’t experienced the intense feeling of entrepreneurial overwhelm at one time or another.

The question isn’t how to get through this paralyzing feeling, it’s how to overcome it more quickly so you can focus and get back on track.

You have probably read or heard the same trite advice time and again. Get some sleep. Exercise. Meditate. Eat some fruits and vegetables. Take a break. Great advice, but not overly helpful.

I’ve interviewed and or coached over 200 Founding CEOs. Here’s 7 things that have worked for them:

1. Write down your why

Dan Shapiro, CEO and Co-founder of Glowforge, always starts his board meetings by reading the company mission, out loud. He says it annoyed his investors at first, but they gradually appreciated the constant reminder of the company’s why. They needed to be reminded regularly. So do you.

The key is to write it down and post it in multiple places. Use some index cards and tape it to your laptop, your bathroom mirror, the inside of your refrigerator, and or the dashboard of your car. You might be surprised how helpful it is to keep your mind focused on your mission in such a visible manner.

“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.” – William Barclay

2. Discard your hidden distractions

Distractions rob us of our energy. They are like appliance vampires that are constantly plugged in and cost you big electric bills.

Put the book piles away, throw out the garbage, and shred piles of unimportant paper. Turn off watch chimes, email alerts, smartphone push notifications, Facebook, and the endless electronic noise that add up to pretty significant stress triggers.

Just get rid of the pointless physical and digital junk that surrounds you and you will start to feel better almost immediately.

 

3. Prune your people tree

We all have them. There are people in your life that take more from you than they give. They could be a friend, a relative, family member, or even an employee that creates that pit in your stomach every time you hear their voice or see their number appear on your phone.

Temporarily remove these people from your life. Let them know that you’ll be busy over the next 2-3 weeks and will be unavailable to meet, talk, or engage. Don’t accept that coffee appointment, lunch date, or Skype chat. Prune these people from your life, just long enough for you to regain your balance.

 

4. Banish your brain baggage

It’s common to be told to “talk to someone” when you are stressed or feeling overwhelmed. Fine advice, but not altogether helpful for entrepreneurs. What you need is help getting stuff out of your brain. As an entrepreneur you accumulate a bunch of junk in your head: new ideas, people to meet, tasks to complete, research to conduct, etc.

Get someone to facilitate just two 30 minute sessions with you. They ask you questions. They capture your responses on a flipchart or whiteboard. They take pictures of this info and upload it into your Evernote app.

It’s hard to do this yourself. You just need someone to help you clean out some of the brain junk and brain gems so they can find a temporary home outside your head while your mind rejuvenates. This works wonders.

 

5. Refocus your resources

Entrepreneurs are action takers. You like to take care of things yourself. You forget to refocus the resources around you to work on those things that you don’t like to do. When you have to spend hours on things that you don’t enjoy, it’s often a huge contributor to the snowball effect of overwhelm.

If you don’t have a huge team, ask a family member or friend for some temporary help. See if your co-founder can handle those tasks that don’t bring you joy. Find someone on your team who needs some professional development and really likes doing those things you hate. Just try to refocus your resources in a way that gets you working on what you love, even if it’s just one thing.

 

6. Switch up your surroundings

It’s truly amazing what happens when you work from a different location, even a different corner of your office. Your entire perspective begins to shift. Go to the lobby of your building. Use your phone as a hotspot and work from a park for a few days. Hang out on the rooftop. Set up shop at a local museum café. Work from your local library for a week. Coffee shop hop for a week. Meet with your team on the top of a local hill, mountain, pond boat launch, or even a sandy beach.

Just find unique surroundings that stimulate your brain differently long enough for your body and mind to relax, recharge, and remove the familiar sights and sounds that remind you of the typical places where overwhelm occurs.

“I think it’s important to get your surroundings as well as yourself into a positive state – meaning surround yourself with positive people, not the kind who are negative and jealous of everything you do.” – Heidi Klum

7. Work your one small win

You crave traction. You long for progress. You just want some indicator that your business is headed in the right direction. Give it to yourself. Work toward one small win. Forget the big, lofty, disruptive goals that drive your every conscious thought. Get real and reduce the size of your expectations to one small weekly win that will tell your mind that progress is occurring.
Any number of these small steps can reduce entrepreneurial overwhelm. Implementing all seven will get you there quicker.

Which small step will you start to implement? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

What do you get when you mash up a decorated U.S. Army intelligence officer with a successful Corporate Executive and a successful Startup CEO? You get a guy named Todd Uterstaedt who is helping a new generation of Startup CEOs scale themselves and their companies. You can listen to these hot, purpose-driven Startup CEOs share their journey from Founder to CEO on Todd’s popular podcast, “From Founder To CEO.” Join him at FromFounderToCEO.com and on Twitter @FromFounder2CEO.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Kristin

    Dec 29, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    Excellent advice and just what I needed to read today!

    • Todd

      Sep 29, 2017 at 2:57 pm

      Glad it was helpful Kristin

  2. TomSwanson

    Jul 27, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Distractions are anywhere around. I caught myself many times jumping from topic to topic and at the end I am at a completely different page than I started my research. I am trying to be up to date in regard with my work, but my curiosity and desire of learning new things is my biggest distraction.

  3. Kristie

    Jul 25, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    I agree with pruning your people tree. There are days when I’ve spent an hour or more on the phone listening to someones problems when I’m supposed to be working. Not even realizing how negatively it effects my workday. It’s hard because people think you are always available because you work from home. But now, I have set hours 8-5 when I don’t answer any calls or emails that aren’t business-related. It has helped with my daily production tremendously!

  4. Todd

    Jul 17, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    My pleasure Tim.

  5. Tim Denning

    May 20, 2016 at 3:26 am

    Todd distractions for me are a big issue. Right now, instead of finishing my ebook I am here writing on your post when i probably shouldn’t be. Thanks for sharing your advice.

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Entrepreneurs

5 Things You Must Have in Order to Succeed as a Freelancer

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successful freelancer

Up until about 3 years ago, I honestly had no idea what a freelancer even was. It sounded like a cool job title and I secretly envied people who could call themselves one. Didn’t they get to travel the world with a laptop and go sailing and sip margaritas beside some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet? Yup, I wanted to be a freelancer.

I wanted in on this action. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I was sure I could pull this off, couldn’t I?

The Mystery Slowly Unravelled

And so began the digging and sniffing around. The more research I did, the more I realized this wasn’t for the faint of heart. I took in as many blogs and pdf’s as I could. I watched YouTube tutorials until my eyes bled. I took in everything I could about it.

I decided that I could easily become a freelance writer. I got good writing skills (did you catch that?) thanks to so many letters written to ex boyfriends behaving badly, and my journal. Yup, I could definitely be a writer.

So now what? Now the real work begins. So you want to be a writer, huh? Get ready girl. You have tons of work ahead of you. Little did I know.

Can’t I just tell stories?

I just wanted to write about all my crazy life stories ‘cause Lord knows I have a million. Surely someone will want to read them, no? Isn’t writing and blogging just about telling stories of how you had some ridiculous upheaval and how you overcame it? I can write about that until the cows come home.

I was determined to write these stories and send them out to anyone, everyone and no one. I hit up all the high authority sites right away. No small fry stuff for this girl. I have great stories and someone needs to read them.

“The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.” – William Faulkner

Was I in for a surprise

Apparently not everyone wants to read your stories. Apparently not everyone thinks your stories are great. Apparently not everyone thinks you’re a good writer. I thought this freelance writing stuff would come easy. I can write dammit and I’m friggin’ good at it! They’ll see.

It just didn’t work like that. As I worked my regular full time day job as a hairstylist I continued to write my heart out, before and after work, determined to leave this life behind and become a freelance writer. Little did I know. 8 months of cutting hair and blogging for free taught me many many things about myself and the freelance world.

Here are the 5 things you better have if you want to make it as a freelancer:

1. Determination

You must be all in or all out. There is no in between. You can’t let up or stop for one single minute. You want to be a freelancer, you must give it 100%. This gig isn’t for half assers or sissies. Nope. Only the hardcore, diehard peeps with a strong deep desire for a life of freedom will make it here. There is no giving up. Ever.

2. Passion

If you don’t feel it, you won’t be able to do it. It has to come from deep down in your heart, soul and belly. The reason you want to do this must consume you (and the reason should be more than just money). You should be eating, living and breathing this passion you have to become a freelancer otherwise you’re already doing it for the wrong reasons and you won’t be happy. Trust me on that one.

3. Persistence

Never ever give up and don’t take no for an answer. If a million people say no to you, remember someone is going to say yes. If someone said no a million times keep at it. Figure out what you did wrong and polish up your skills (all the no’s will give you ample opportunity to do just that).

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” – E.L. Doctorow

4. Open mindedness

Stay open to learning new things. Stay open to networking and connecting with others. You will need to collaborate with other bloggers and people who are already doing this for a living in order to learn. You will need to throw your net out far and wide and take in all sorts of wondrous tools. Get ready to step way out of your comfort zone.

5. Confidence

This was a biggie for me. I was pitbull, determined to make it so no amount of no’s was going to get in my way. There were some days I honestly did feel like throwing in the towel (we all have days like that) but I would brush off my butt and lick my wounded ego and keep at it. Have confidence in your skills. Just because 10 people don’t want your stuff doesn’t mean there isn’t 10 out there who do! Remember that. You ARE good at what you do.

Do you have what it takes? Of course you do! It took me almost 9 months before I finally cracked the freelance world and another year to become a full time freelancer. There is no try and there is no giving up. I always tell people, if I can do it, so can you.

What are the obstacles you’re facing right now as a freelance? Comment below!

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5 Crucial Skills to Take Your Business and Relationships to New Heights

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business skills

Our personal relationships are very powerful and provide us with a crash course of exponential growth both personally and professionally. You learn an exceptional amount of information about who you are as a person, how you communicate, manage your emotions and discover traits you were blissfully unaware of.

Of course everyone wants to hear the beautiful love story you so often hear from others. Man and woman meet, fall madly in love, get married and live happily ever after. However, as we all know the fairytale ending is no guarantee.

I met a spontaneous, generous, successful and much older businessman and we dated for a short period of time. I was deliriously happy and determined for everything to turn out perfectly. As expected, he had mastered the art of knowing all the right buttons to push and exactly the right words to say.

I can compare this experience to a going for a long drive in the country. I was speeding down the highway of life, aiming to maintain my complete denial of everything happening around me. To the point that I missed every stop sign, damaged the car from all of the potholes I failed to navigate, and I had several minor accidents along the way.  You name it, I ignored every single red flag that was saying take a detour, choose a different road and look the other way, keep moving forward yet choose a different direction.

Unfortunately, it all came to a grinding halt, when the car burst into flames in the middle of a local National Park causing a wild bushfire. This analogy clearly illustrates the ending of this relationship and the danger of becoming obsessed with a personal goal to the point where it sabotages all your efforts to attain your goal and safely reach your destination.

The brilliant news is that this crash course of exponential growth led to pivotal business lessons that can also help you achieve outstanding results this year. The 5 key business lessons you can develop include:

1. Individual Connection vs Wolf Pack

Be mindful and understand the differences between communicating well with an individual and a team otherwise known as a wolf pack. Notice the differences in the communication, it can be very different. An individual interaction may be far easier than dealing with the wolfpack or vice versa. Pay attention when in both scenarios as it will be highly beneficial for professional career and help you to enhance both new and existing professional relationships.

2. Monumental Giving

Wow, I thought I was a generous person however I quickly realized I had more work to do in this area. This man raised a lot of funds for charities that were close to his heart both personally and via his businesses and he was very proud of his achievement as he should be.

What I liked the most however was the way he built the company culture although he was well renowned for his tough exterior, he did go out of his way to be generous to employees  at all levels within the company and he took the time to get to know them personally despite the number of businesses he was operating at any one time.

“Giving is the master key for success in all applications of life” – Bryant McGill

3. Fanatical Focus

Irrespective of the activity he was engaged in on any given day. From closing a business deal, speaking to a colleague or business associate, negotiating a lease to building his stock portfolio. He was unbelievably fanatically focused on that one activity and ensured that the activity was completed to a very high standard.

Anything less was deemed unprofessional and unacceptable. His unwavering focus was very valuable in making business decisions and closing deals, over delivering on budget, making quick decisions and maintaining relationships.

4. Beware of the ‘Little’ Things

We have heard it before, don’t stress or make a big deal about the little things. When you learn to manage your emotions effectively and allow things to occur rather than resist or get upset about it, life becomes far easier and enjoyable. It allows you to retain your energy for the important things in life and manage actual stressful situations as they arise.

5. Master Communicator

This man was extremely tough and very guarded however, he acted like everyone’s best friend. He understood a lot about how people communicate from their tone of voice, the words they say to how fast or slow they spoke, and he was a master at reading non-verbal communication in both men and women.

“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you are willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.” – Brian Tracy

To build a powerful network in business, it is imperative to begin by learning the essentials in communication. Start by researching how to read body language and what various poses or facial expressions mean. By understanding others, you can also adapt your own communication style to become a ‘Master Communicator’ and rapidly improve your overall business results.

As we enter the start of the New Year, now is the perfect time to hone these 5 crucial business skills to take your business and relationships to new heights.

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5 Essential Elements You Need to Deliver a Spectacular Podcast Interview

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Podcasting is a phenomenon that millions of people gravitate to every day for information, inspiration, and entertainment.  According to convinceandconvert.com, 112 million people listened to a podcast at least once in 2017. There are many different types of podcasts that are out there to listen to, and one of the most popular formats is that of the interview podcast.

It goes without saying that an interview podcast consists of a host/hosts and a guest, typically an expert in a particular field, going back-and-forth in a question format to deliver valuable content for those listeners.  As a podcast host, myself and having done hundreds of interviews, not to mention the hundreds more I’ve listened to, there are five essential elements, in my opinion, that is essential to delivering an excellent podcast interview.

Here are the 5 essential elements you need to deliver a spectacular podcast interview:

1. Do Your Research

Nothing can kill an interview faster than when one party is not prepared for other, especially when that individual is the host.  It is vital that you do your research on the guest you are bringing on your show, not just to produce the most value out of your podcast, but to ensure that you get the very best out of your guest as well.  

Search their website, find out their most recent event, product launch, or topic they are “hot” on.  Also, know what motivates them and what they are most interested in offering to your listeners.  This is a show of professionalism and will garner respect from your guest and provide a traditional format to build your podcast show around.

“You just need one person to listen, get your message, and pass it on to someone else. And, you’ve doubled your audience.” – Robert Gerrish

2. Create Pre-Interview Rapport

Experts, influencers, and famous individuals typically have someone book them on shows, especially on podcasts. More times than not, there is a limited amount of interaction with the host and the guest before the taping of the podcast. By creating pre-interview rapport through social media outlets, emails and video chats, you can help build more familiarity with your guest and offer a more comfortable and relaxed interview. Some guests will be more accessible to create this type of rapport with than others; however, don’t stop yourself from trying.

3. Don’t Be Too Scripted

There is a difference between having a format versus having a script. Don’t be the podcast host that interviews their guests straight from a script. It will create robotic type answers from your guests and quite frankly, will be boring. At the same time, scripts can take away from the authentic emotion that interviews can provoke. This type of passion and raw feeling in the answers and even the question asking process, is essential to help the podcast stand out and keep the guest interested.

4. Be Yourself

Do not, I repeat, do not try to be any other type of podcast host than that of yourself. Your guest booked your show because of you, the kind of show you host, and because you have a unique audience that YOU can introduce them to. You aren’t Lewis Howes, John Lee Dumas, or Gary Vaynerchuk.  They have created podcasts because of who they are and stayed true to their style of interviewing, and you must do the same. It’s ok to want to emulate the success of others but don’t do it to the extent of losing your voice.

“A podcast is a great way to develop relationships with hard to reach people.” – Tim Paige

5. Speak To Your Audience

Don’t just do an interview to do an interview. Make sure the interactions between you and your guest have your audience in mind. I have seen some hosts poll their listeners for certain types of questions they would like for them to ask the guest and, even set up some podcast episodes to be during a live format for instant guest to listener interaction. The podcast should mean just as much to your listeners as it does to you. That is how you know you are reaching your audience and creating the most impact possible.

I hope your podcast is already rocking and doing great however, if you feel you are missing an element to take your podcast from good to excellent, try implementing these five tips and become a first class interviewer.  This alone can help take your podcast to a whole new level.

What are some podcasts you enjoy listening too? Comment below!

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10 Things You Can Do to Build a Great Brand in the Digital World

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Great brands are created by the love and affection of the people. When you care for your customers, it is reflected in your products and services. The most memorable and iconic brands are emotionally connected with their customers. Today, the internet is probably the biggest influence on how brands are built in the digital age.

Here are 10 things you can do to build a great brand in today’s digital world:

1. Stellar designs

The best brands are expressed by the most fluid designs. Attractive designs are important to woo and catch the attention of the users. Design is one of the most important facets of building a brand. It expresses your brand & influences the way consumers think about your company. It is also an effective way to stand out from the competition. Successful brands like Apple, Rolex, & Louis Vuitton, use designs to create a feeling of pride and exclusivity for their customers.

2. Delightful user experience for products & services

What makes top companies like Apple, Harley Davidson, & Rolex sell their products at top premium? It is a great user experience. When products and services are built with users in mind, it creates a delightful experience for users. It puts your brand on a higher pedestal, improves adoption, and commands user respect. The cost of delighting a customer is negligible compared with the price you pay when you disappoint them.

3. Communicate your higher purpose

The internet has made it easier for brands to communicate with the world. However, the ease of communication has also led to lot of noise. Great brands are able to tell stories that connect with people. They stand out from the crowd. They articulate who they are, what makes them different, their aspirations, why they exist and what they do for your customers. For brands like Nike, it was about honouring the athletes. Apple sparked great curiosity with the ‘Think different’ campaign.

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” – Robert Collier

4. Customer service anytime anywhere

Customer Interactions and feedback are invaluable for shaping products and services. Today, the companies that use digital tools for improving customer service are surging ahead of their competitors. The idea is to provide interactive, fast and ubiquitous service across channels for customers. The customers expect a seamless transition between platforms and devices.

5. Be Social & build your tribe

Social media and the web have created a level playing field for companies around the world. The brands that are creating valuable content are growing their followers and reach. Content that is created to genuinely help the customers resonates with the users.

The best brands are not only building social communities, but also engaging with people in real world. The face to face communication strengthens the bonding and builds a loyal community that endorses products/services to others. How brands combine the digital and physical space is now shaping their fortunes. People want to be part of a meaningful community and the top brands are building them.

6. Personalized interactions with customers

Digitization is a great boon when it comes to customer interactions. Every interaction with your customer can be tracked and personalised. The ease with which the customers can interact with your company and get things done matters a lot. These seamless interactions are important across all customer touch points. Every interaction with the customer is a chance to build a relationship and a loyal army for the brand.

7. The right talent and teams

To build innovative products & services, it is important to attract and retain talent. It is important to build great teams. When teams are aligned to a long term vision of the company, the results are visible in the quality of the offerings. Your talent pool and teams represent their quality and commitment defines your identity. When teams are aligned to a common goal and purpose, they give their best and create amazing stuff that makes companies iconic.

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” – Joseph Chilton Pearce

8. Digitized solutions & services

Reimagine the consumer experience when dealing with your brand. Digitization of services makes things easier for customers. For example, leading banks around the world have introduced digitised systems for getting customer feedback. Airports around the globe are using digital solutions to reduce customer’s time to clear immigrations and procedures. Several industries are now looking at digitization to make things easier for their consumers.

9. Improved outreach with digital media

With the rise of digitisation, it is easier for brands to reach out to their target users. The demographics of their target users like age, location, income levels, interests, can be specified to reach them. The campaigns can be designed to improve the outreach and have meaningful engagement with the prospects. How creatively a brand can spread its message to the target users can distinguish it from its competition. With digital media, brands can get global exposure and sales.

10. Thrive on value economy

In a crowded marketplace, it is easier to build credibility with value. The successful brands have deep rooted understanding of their customers pain points and goals. They offer solutions to these problems that are critical to their customers. For example, brands like Amazon have been so successful, because they have been able to provide incredible value to their customers by offering great discounts and seamless delivery of the goods.

Conclusion

Brands need to constantly ask themselves how their business will change and adapt quickly to serve their customers proactively. The consumer needs are changing fast. Brand loyalty is a thing of the past. Businesses need to evolve constantly to meet the needs of their customers. Brands are now leveraging digitization to take an integrated view of things, evaluate and take necessary actions for driving the changes to meet the consumer needs.

What are some other ways to build a brand online? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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29 Stirring Idris Elba Quotes

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Idris Elba Quotes
Image Credit | NY Daily

From his roles on major blockbusters such as Pacific Rim and The Dark Tower, to some of his smaller roles on shows such as The Wire and Luther; Idris Elba has demonstrated himself to be not only a skilled actor, but a diverse and adaptive one as well. From his rough origins in Northern London, Idris clawed & worked his way to become one of the most recognized actors in Hollywood. At one point he was sleeping in a van working as a doorman. During his journey, Idris Elba has learned a lot about life, success, and sticking to your passion. (more…)

Joe Kleckner has a passion for all things motivation & self-development.  From blogs such as Addicted2Success, to the videos of Eric Thomas and Elliott Hulse, to the lectures of legends such as Tony Robbins.  This passion has landed him an internship with Addicted2Success. Follow him on Twitter & Snapchat as he journeys towards greatness, one day at a time.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Kristin

    Dec 29, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    Excellent advice and just what I needed to read today!

    • Todd

      Sep 29, 2017 at 2:57 pm

      Glad it was helpful Kristin

  2. TomSwanson

    Jul 27, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Distractions are anywhere around. I caught myself many times jumping from topic to topic and at the end I am at a completely different page than I started my research. I am trying to be up to date in regard with my work, but my curiosity and desire of learning new things is my biggest distraction.

  3. Kristie

    Jul 25, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    I agree with pruning your people tree. There are days when I’ve spent an hour or more on the phone listening to someones problems when I’m supposed to be working. Not even realizing how negatively it effects my workday. It’s hard because people think you are always available because you work from home. But now, I have set hours 8-5 when I don’t answer any calls or emails that aren’t business-related. It has helped with my daily production tremendously!

  4. Todd

    Jul 17, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    My pleasure Tim.

  5. Tim Denning

    May 20, 2016 at 3:26 am

    Todd distractions for me are a big issue. Right now, instead of finishing my ebook I am here writing on your post when i probably shouldn’t be. Thanks for sharing your advice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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5 Things You Must Have in Order to Succeed as a Freelancer

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successful freelancer

Up until about 3 years ago, I honestly had no idea what a freelancer even was. It sounded like a cool job title and I secretly envied people who could call themselves one. Didn’t they get to travel the world with a laptop and go sailing and sip margaritas beside some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet? Yup, I wanted to be a freelancer.

I wanted in on this action. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I was sure I could pull this off, couldn’t I?

The Mystery Slowly Unravelled

And so began the digging and sniffing around. The more research I did, the more I realized this wasn’t for the faint of heart. I took in as many blogs and pdf’s as I could. I watched YouTube tutorials until my eyes bled. I took in everything I could about it.

I decided that I could easily become a freelance writer. I got good writing skills (did you catch that?) thanks to so many letters written to ex boyfriends behaving badly, and my journal. Yup, I could definitely be a writer.

So now what? Now the real work begins. So you want to be a writer, huh? Get ready girl. You have tons of work ahead of you. Little did I know.

Can’t I just tell stories?

I just wanted to write about all my crazy life stories ‘cause Lord knows I have a million. Surely someone will want to read them, no? Isn’t writing and blogging just about telling stories of how you had some ridiculous upheaval and how you overcame it? I can write about that until the cows come home.

I was determined to write these stories and send them out to anyone, everyone and no one. I hit up all the high authority sites right away. No small fry stuff for this girl. I have great stories and someone needs to read them.

“The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.” – William Faulkner

Was I in for a surprise

Apparently not everyone wants to read your stories. Apparently not everyone thinks your stories are great. Apparently not everyone thinks you’re a good writer. I thought this freelance writing stuff would come easy. I can write dammit and I’m friggin’ good at it! They’ll see.

It just didn’t work like that. As I worked my regular full time day job as a hairstylist I continued to write my heart out, before and after work, determined to leave this life behind and become a freelance writer. Little did I know. 8 months of cutting hair and blogging for free taught me many many things about myself and the freelance world.

Here are the 5 things you better have if you want to make it as a freelancer:

1. Determination

You must be all in or all out. There is no in between. You can’t let up or stop for one single minute. You want to be a freelancer, you must give it 100%. This gig isn’t for half assers or sissies. Nope. Only the hardcore, diehard peeps with a strong deep desire for a life of freedom will make it here. There is no giving up. Ever.

2. Passion

If you don’t feel it, you won’t be able to do it. It has to come from deep down in your heart, soul and belly. The reason you want to do this must consume you (and the reason should be more than just money). You should be eating, living and breathing this passion you have to become a freelancer otherwise you’re already doing it for the wrong reasons and you won’t be happy. Trust me on that one.

3. Persistence

Never ever give up and don’t take no for an answer. If a million people say no to you, remember someone is going to say yes. If someone said no a million times keep at it. Figure out what you did wrong and polish up your skills (all the no’s will give you ample opportunity to do just that).

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” – E.L. Doctorow

4. Open mindedness

Stay open to learning new things. Stay open to networking and connecting with others. You will need to collaborate with other bloggers and people who are already doing this for a living in order to learn. You will need to throw your net out far and wide and take in all sorts of wondrous tools. Get ready to step way out of your comfort zone.

5. Confidence

This was a biggie for me. I was pitbull, determined to make it so no amount of no’s was going to get in my way. There were some days I honestly did feel like throwing in the towel (we all have days like that) but I would brush off my butt and lick my wounded ego and keep at it. Have confidence in your skills. Just because 10 people don’t want your stuff doesn’t mean there isn’t 10 out there who do! Remember that. You ARE good at what you do.

Do you have what it takes? Of course you do! It took me almost 9 months before I finally cracked the freelance world and another year to become a full time freelancer. There is no try and there is no giving up. I always tell people, if I can do it, so can you.

What are the obstacles you’re facing right now as a freelance? Comment below!

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5 Crucial Skills to Take Your Business and Relationships to New Heights

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Our personal relationships are very powerful and provide us with a crash course of exponential growth both personally and professionally. You learn an exceptional amount of information about who you are as a person, how you communicate, manage your emotions and discover traits you were blissfully unaware of.

Of course everyone wants to hear the beautiful love story you so often hear from others. Man and woman meet, fall madly in love, get married and live happily ever after. However, as we all know the fairytale ending is no guarantee.

I met a spontaneous, generous, successful and much older businessman and we dated for a short period of time. I was deliriously happy and determined for everything to turn out perfectly. As expected, he had mastered the art of knowing all the right buttons to push and exactly the right words to say.

I can compare this experience to a going for a long drive in the country. I was speeding down the highway of life, aiming to maintain my complete denial of everything happening around me. To the point that I missed every stop sign, damaged the car from all of the potholes I failed to navigate, and I had several minor accidents along the way.  You name it, I ignored every single red flag that was saying take a detour, choose a different road and look the other way, keep moving forward yet choose a different direction.

Unfortunately, it all came to a grinding halt, when the car burst into flames in the middle of a local National Park causing a wild bushfire. This analogy clearly illustrates the ending of this relationship and the danger of becoming obsessed with a personal goal to the point where it sabotages all your efforts to attain your goal and safely reach your destination.

The brilliant news is that this crash course of exponential growth led to pivotal business lessons that can also help you achieve outstanding results this year. The 5 key business lessons you can develop include:

1. Individual Connection vs Wolf Pack

Be mindful and understand the differences between communicating well with an individual and a team otherwise known as a wolf pack. Notice the differences in the communication, it can be very different. An individual interaction may be far easier than dealing with the wolfpack or vice versa. Pay attention when in both scenarios as it will be highly beneficial for professional career and help you to enhance both new and existing professional relationships.

2. Monumental Giving

Wow, I thought I was a generous person however I quickly realized I had more work to do in this area. This man raised a lot of funds for charities that were close to his heart both personally and via his businesses and he was very proud of his achievement as he should be.

What I liked the most however was the way he built the company culture although he was well renowned for his tough exterior, he did go out of his way to be generous to employees  at all levels within the company and he took the time to get to know them personally despite the number of businesses he was operating at any one time.

“Giving is the master key for success in all applications of life” – Bryant McGill

3. Fanatical Focus

Irrespective of the activity he was engaged in on any given day. From closing a business deal, speaking to a colleague or business associate, negotiating a lease to building his stock portfolio. He was unbelievably fanatically focused on that one activity and ensured that the activity was completed to a very high standard.

Anything less was deemed unprofessional and unacceptable. His unwavering focus was very valuable in making business decisions and closing deals, over delivering on budget, making quick decisions and maintaining relationships.

4. Beware of the ‘Little’ Things

We have heard it before, don’t stress or make a big deal about the little things. When you learn to manage your emotions effectively and allow things to occur rather than resist or get upset about it, life becomes far easier and enjoyable. It allows you to retain your energy for the important things in life and manage actual stressful situations as they arise.

5. Master Communicator

This man was extremely tough and very guarded however, he acted like everyone’s best friend. He understood a lot about how people communicate from their tone of voice, the words they say to how fast or slow they spoke, and he was a master at reading non-verbal communication in both men and women.

“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you are willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.” – Brian Tracy

To build a powerful network in business, it is imperative to begin by learning the essentials in communication. Start by researching how to read body language and what various poses or facial expressions mean. By understanding others, you can also adapt your own communication style to become a ‘Master Communicator’ and rapidly improve your overall business results.

As we enter the start of the New Year, now is the perfect time to hone these 5 crucial business skills to take your business and relationships to new heights.

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5 Essential Elements You Need to Deliver a Spectacular Podcast Interview

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Podcasting is a phenomenon that millions of people gravitate to every day for information, inspiration, and entertainment.  According to convinceandconvert.com, 112 million people listened to a podcast at least once in 2017. There are many different types of podcasts that are out there to listen to, and one of the most popular formats is that of the interview podcast.

It goes without saying that an interview podcast consists of a host/hosts and a guest, typically an expert in a particular field, going back-and-forth in a question format to deliver valuable content for those listeners.  As a podcast host, myself and having done hundreds of interviews, not to mention the hundreds more I’ve listened to, there are five essential elements, in my opinion, that is essential to delivering an excellent podcast interview.

Here are the 5 essential elements you need to deliver a spectacular podcast interview:

1. Do Your Research

Nothing can kill an interview faster than when one party is not prepared for other, especially when that individual is the host.  It is vital that you do your research on the guest you are bringing on your show, not just to produce the most value out of your podcast, but to ensure that you get the very best out of your guest as well.  

Search their website, find out their most recent event, product launch, or topic they are “hot” on.  Also, know what motivates them and what they are most interested in offering to your listeners.  This is a show of professionalism and will garner respect from your guest and provide a traditional format to build your podcast show around.

“You just need one person to listen, get your message, and pass it on to someone else. And, you’ve doubled your audience.” – Robert Gerrish

2. Create Pre-Interview Rapport

Experts, influencers, and famous individuals typically have someone book them on shows, especially on podcasts. More times than not, there is a limited amount of interaction with the host and the guest before the taping of the podcast. By creating pre-interview rapport through social media outlets, emails and video chats, you can help build more familiarity with your guest and offer a more comfortable and relaxed interview. Some guests will be more accessible to create this type of rapport with than others; however, don’t stop yourself from trying.

3. Don’t Be Too Scripted

There is a difference between having a format versus having a script. Don’t be the podcast host that interviews their guests straight from a script. It will create robotic type answers from your guests and quite frankly, will be boring. At the same time, scripts can take away from the authentic emotion that interviews can provoke. This type of passion and raw feeling in the answers and even the question asking process, is essential to help the podcast stand out and keep the guest interested.

4. Be Yourself

Do not, I repeat, do not try to be any other type of podcast host than that of yourself. Your guest booked your show because of you, the kind of show you host, and because you have a unique audience that YOU can introduce them to. You aren’t Lewis Howes, John Lee Dumas, or Gary Vaynerchuk.  They have created podcasts because of who they are and stayed true to their style of interviewing, and you must do the same. It’s ok to want to emulate the success of others but don’t do it to the extent of losing your voice.

“A podcast is a great way to develop relationships with hard to reach people.” – Tim Paige

5. Speak To Your Audience

Don’t just do an interview to do an interview. Make sure the interactions between you and your guest have your audience in mind. I have seen some hosts poll their listeners for certain types of questions they would like for them to ask the guest and, even set up some podcast episodes to be during a live format for instant guest to listener interaction. The podcast should mean just as much to your listeners as it does to you. That is how you know you are reaching your audience and creating the most impact possible.

I hope your podcast is already rocking and doing great however, if you feel you are missing an element to take your podcast from good to excellent, try implementing these five tips and become a first class interviewer.  This alone can help take your podcast to a whole new level.

What are some podcasts you enjoy listening too? Comment below!

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10 Things You Can Do to Build a Great Brand in the Digital World

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Great brands are created by the love and affection of the people. When you care for your customers, it is reflected in your products and services. The most memorable and iconic brands are emotionally connected with their customers. Today, the internet is probably the biggest influence on how brands are built in the digital age.

Here are 10 things you can do to build a great brand in today’s digital world:

1. Stellar designs

The best brands are expressed by the most fluid designs. Attractive designs are important to woo and catch the attention of the users. Design is one of the most important facets of building a brand. It expresses your brand & influences the way consumers think about your company. It is also an effective way to stand out from the competition. Successful brands like Apple, Rolex, & Louis Vuitton, use designs to create a feeling of pride and exclusivity for their customers.

2. Delightful user experience for products & services

What makes top companies like Apple, Harley Davidson, & Rolex sell their products at top premium? It is a great user experience. When products and services are built with users in mind, it creates a delightful experience for users. It puts your brand on a higher pedestal, improves adoption, and commands user respect. The cost of delighting a customer is negligible compared with the price you pay when you disappoint them.

3. Communicate your higher purpose

The internet has made it easier for brands to communicate with the world. However, the ease of communication has also led to lot of noise. Great brands are able to tell stories that connect with people. They stand out from the crowd. They articulate who they are, what makes them different, their aspirations, why they exist and what they do for your customers. For brands like Nike, it was about honouring the athletes. Apple sparked great curiosity with the ‘Think different’ campaign.

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” – Robert Collier

4. Customer service anytime anywhere

Customer Interactions and feedback are invaluable for shaping products and services. Today, the companies that use digital tools for improving customer service are surging ahead of their competitors. The idea is to provide interactive, fast and ubiquitous service across channels for customers. The customers expect a seamless transition between platforms and devices.

5. Be Social & build your tribe

Social media and the web have created a level playing field for companies around the world. The brands that are creating valuable content are growing their followers and reach. Content that is created to genuinely help the customers resonates with the users.

The best brands are not only building social communities, but also engaging with people in real world. The face to face communication strengthens the bonding and builds a loyal community that endorses products/services to others. How brands combine the digital and physical space is now shaping their fortunes. People want to be part of a meaningful community and the top brands are building them.

6. Personalized interactions with customers

Digitization is a great boon when it comes to customer interactions. Every interaction with your customer can be tracked and personalised. The ease with which the customers can interact with your company and get things done matters a lot. These seamless interactions are important across all customer touch points. Every interaction with the customer is a chance to build a relationship and a loyal army for the brand.

7. The right talent and teams

To build innovative products & services, it is important to attract and retain talent. It is important to build great teams. When teams are aligned to a long term vision of the company, the results are visible in the quality of the offerings. Your talent pool and teams represent their quality and commitment defines your identity. When teams are aligned to a common goal and purpose, they give their best and create amazing stuff that makes companies iconic.

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” – Joseph Chilton Pearce

8. Digitized solutions & services

Reimagine the consumer experience when dealing with your brand. Digitization of services makes things easier for customers. For example, leading banks around the world have introduced digitised systems for getting customer feedback. Airports around the globe are using digital solutions to reduce customer’s time to clear immigrations and procedures. Several industries are now looking at digitization to make things easier for their consumers.

9. Improved outreach with digital media

With the rise of digitisation, it is easier for brands to reach out to their target users. The demographics of their target users like age, location, income levels, interests, can be specified to reach them. The campaigns can be designed to improve the outreach and have meaningful engagement with the prospects. How creatively a brand can spread its message to the target users can distinguish it from its competition. With digital media, brands can get global exposure and sales.

10. Thrive on value economy

In a crowded marketplace, it is easier to build credibility with value. The successful brands have deep rooted understanding of their customers pain points and goals. They offer solutions to these problems that are critical to their customers. For example, brands like Amazon have been so successful, because they have been able to provide incredible value to their customers by offering great discounts and seamless delivery of the goods.

Conclusion

Brands need to constantly ask themselves how their business will change and adapt quickly to serve their customers proactively. The consumer needs are changing fast. Brand loyalty is a thing of the past. Businesses need to evolve constantly to meet the needs of their customers. Brands are now leveraging digitization to take an integrated view of things, evaluate and take necessary actions for driving the changes to meet the consumer needs.

What are some other ways to build a brand online? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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