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The 5 Most Effective Productivity Hacks for a Busy Entrepreneur

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Technology is both sinner and saint. The Internet and its mobile cousin, the smartphone, have given us incredible gifts: unlimited knowledge at our fingertips and a reach greater than the Pentagon had just 40 years ago.

Despite this, our lives seem to be getting harder and more stressful.. We have become so dependent on technology to the point where it’s become the opposite of what it set out to do – make our lives better. It’s certainly more convenient, but for many people, it’s become an addiction. And no addiction is good.

Numbers don’t lie

According to a national survey from TeleNav, here are some statistics to think about.

  • 66% of smartphone users said they sleep with their phone next to them.
  • 21% of respondents would give up their shoes for a week instead of their phone.
  • 21% of iPhone users said that they would rather go a week without seeing their significant other than give up their phone
  • 34% of iPhone users regularly check their email at the dinner table.

So we have a problem and the first step to fixing a problem is acknowledging you have one. The second step is going to work on it.

Here are five productivity hacks that are surprisingly simple, and yet incredibly effective. It’s not a question of if they’ll work for you and your unique situation, but how many of them will you actually put into use.

1. The email trap

This is something a friend learned from Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Academy and was kind enough to share it with me. Want to be 30% more productive today with almost no effort? Stop looking at your email in the first 60 minutes of the day. 90% of people wake up, grab their phone, and check their emails. By doing this, you let other people’s needs and wants dictate your life.

2. Health

Tony Robbins would talk about this back in the 80s with his late-night infomercials, and it’s something he’s gotten even more passionate about as new information is uncovered in the fields of nutrition and neuroscience. Health can be divided into three separate areas: Food, water and stretch.

Food is fuel for your body. You wouldn’t put cheap oil in a Ferrari, so why do people eat fast food? Because they want something quick that fills them up. I get it, and from time to time it’s no big deal, but you want to have a well-balanced diet full of vegetables, fruits, fish, chicken, and pork.

Hydrating, aka drinking water, is one of the fastest productivity hacks around. Every high-performance coach talks about it. Instead of drinking alcohol, coffee, soda, switch to water. Within a week, you’ll feel a difference in how you feel. You’ll have more energy, sleep better and more productive than ever. Try it and see.

We all know the benefits of exercise, so why is it we find every excuse not to do it. A work-out takes time, you sweat, you feel tired and it can be downright depressing to see how out of shape you are when you haven’t exercised for a long time. Stretching, on the other hand, is quick and easy. No heavy lifting. Just 10 minutes to get your body limber will go a long way to feeling better. Your body will thank you.

“Love is not as important as good health. You cannot be in love if you’re not healthy. You can’t appreciate it.” – Bryan Cranston

3. Oxygenate your body

If you want to give your body a boost then breathe. Not unconsciously, like we all do but consciously like people doing yoga. This takes less than five minutes and you’re good to go. Athletes such as swimmers, runners, and karate fighters understand the power of breathing better than anyone, and how it is a critical component of success. The best part, it’s easier than ever to train yourself to breath better with the help of apps such as Breathe2Relax, Pranayama, Breathing Zone and Relax: Stress and Anxiety Relief.

4. Confirmation email

This was taught to me by my mentor back in my late twenties and it transformed how I dealt with coworkers. We often think that the greatest pull on our time are clients, but what is often overlooked is the frenemy. Colleagues that are seemingly on your side, but are taking advantage of your time and energy.

We have all met them before. They are the ones who pawn off their most difficult, challenging tasks to others. They appeal to people’s kindness and ask them if they can “help” them with something. What they often mean is, “Can you do it for me?” But they know that doesn’t fly so they resort to sneakiness.

When I first learned the technique of the confirmation email, I could hardly believe my eyes because tasks that had been thrown in my lap and taking up much of my time, suddenly vanished. People eventually stopped asking me to help them, because they couldn’t be bothered.

Car salespeople have an expression for these people: tire kickers. In business, to weed out the serious from the not so serious, just ask them to put their request in an email. It’s amazing just how powerful this technique can be.

We cannot waste time. We can only waste ourselves.” – George Matthew Adams

5. Chunking

My personal favorite productivity hack, and the one I have my clients implement immediately because it’s just so easy. Essentially it’s doing two tasks at the same time, but no, I’m not talking about multitasking. Multitasking is dividing your energy between two or more tasks, which is counterproductive. Chunking is combining two activities together that don’t detract from the other.

Here are some examples of chunking that work for me:

–      Having a meeting while walking

–      Stretching while watching TV

–      Doing breathing exercises while sitting in front of your computer

–      Listen to an audio program while driving

And there you have it, the five most effective productivity hacks for the busy entrepreneur. Easier than you think, more powerful than you realize.

Which one of these was your favorite productivity hack? Let us know in the comments below!

Adrian Shepherd started his career as an ESL teacher in Japan, but today focuses on consulting with individuals and companies on productivity. His background in education helped him develop The One-Bite Time Management System (TMS), a revolutionary new system based entirely around simplicity: small bites that people can digest easily. He is based in Osaka, Japan. Learn more about Adrian at adrianshepherd.com.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Dona L. Crane

    Jan 28, 2018 at 7:49 am

    I’m not clear what the confirmation email strategy is. It’s alluded to in the article but no specifics. How does email confirmation contribute to productivity?

  2. Creating True Happiness

    Oct 30, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Really love that confirmation email tip. I’m going to implement that one right away. Thanks for the info.

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Entrepreneurs

How to Brand Yourself and Your Business at the Same Time

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Image Credit: Unsplash

In the age of automation, people seek to feel personally connected to companies more than ever. The most successful brands have a well-developed narrative and voice, delivering messages to their followers with an air of approachability and ease. Nobody can deny that they prefer feeling like they are being talked with and not talked at.

For many companies, this process involves telling the story of their CEO/Founder just as much as telling the story of the company. A company’s foundation and values is often based on those of its founder’s, and building a successful brand often begins with a certain level of personal publicity and networking. It’s common knowledge that investors invest in ideas, and ideas are direct products of people. So, as the person behind an idea, how can you ensure you are doing yourself and your company justice in terms of branding?

Below are 3 characteristics of your brand you must think about in order to be a success:

1. What’s Your Story?

Make your company’s story your story. People revere Steve Jobs just as much as they do Apple, because they have followed his and Wozniak’s struggles and successes for just as long. With his trademark black turtleneck, Levi’s 501s, and mega-casual New Balance sneakers, the simplicity of his look directly mirrored the minimalism of Apple’s design. Be it unintentionally, Jobs branded himself just as much as he did Apple.

Whether you’re the owner of a startup or small business, you will want to establish this same connection. On your company’s “About” page, tell about your history and how it has led you to where you are now. Discuss your vision, goals, and aspirations for the future of the company and how events in your personal life inspired you to begin your business.

For example, real-estate guru Barbara Corcoran has frequently discussed how a failed relationship and financially-strained upbringing led her to the establishment of her multi-million dollar firm. Candidness and personal publicity are what people admire most in a founder. So sit down, decide what story you want to tell, determine what kind of voice you are going to use to tell it (be it modest, confident, or humorous), and then decide how you want to tell it.

“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.” – J.K. Rowling

2. Set Your Brand into Motion

As discussed, branding is all about the story you tell and how you tell it. Social media has become an excellent outlet for that, because it is the one place where a brand can behave as a person. You create your company’s Facebook page and people watch as it interacts with other people. Of course, this is a person acting on behalf of the brand, but that person has a personality, candor, and voice that people begin to associate with the brand itself.

You may be a one-man-band handling your own marketing and day-to-day operations, or you may have hired a marketing rep/team to handle the social media for you. If it’s the latter, establishing a shared belief of what the voice is for your brand is crucial. Nobody will follow a company whose tone is inconsistent. People like reliability, trustworthiness, and relatability.

Whatever voice you choose for your brand should not be too far off from your own. The names of Elon Musk’s business ventures and projects are based directly on his spontaneous wit and spasmodic humor, i.e. the Boring Company, the BFR, and Tesla models S, 3, X, Y (released in that order for an obvious end result).

Much like Musk did, using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is an important element in voicing your and your brand’s opinions. You will want to gain traction on your personal and your business accounts, and interweave the topics and narrative styles of both accounts on a consistent basis.

3. Be Your Brand

Business cards, interviews, your company website, and networking events – these are all ways to solidify and build your brand. Wherever you go, you are embodying a persona that people will forever associate with your business. By having a say in your company’s identity, that persona will even show in aspects like your logo, website design, and mission statement. Knowledge of branding means that you will always be your own publicist, even when you can one day afford to hire one.

Self-branding is the precursor to success, hence the rise of influencers and public figures in the social media era. Developing your personal brand and having an existing following will garner the much-needed support for your business. Suddenly, the people who have followed you personally become potential investors, crowd funders, and advertisers (never underestimate the power of the “share” button) for your business.

“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” – Jeff Bezos

Creating continuity, popularity, and solidarity between your personal brand and your company’s brand is as simple as ensuring you pour as much of yourself into your company’s work as possible. This involves being directly involved in establishing its image, pitching it to investors, and writing articles on behalf of your company for publishers and influencers. You are your own spokesperson, and social media makes that feat easier than ever.

How do you make sure you’re branding yourself correctly whether as an individual or a with your business? Let us know your thoughts below!

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5 Reasons Why Perfectionists Cannot Be Entrepreneurs

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Image Credit: Twenty20.com

Perfectionists have high standards for themselves and for others. In an office environment, as employees, they take their responsibilities seriously and never complete any task or project without double-checking even the minutest detail to ensure that it is perfect. They can be irritating to others, too, because they expect the same perfection from their co-workers.

When a perfectionist who has been amazing on the job decides that they want to strike out as an entrepreneur, there are personality traits that can really work against success. Knowing about these in advance may help a perfectionist avoid some of these pitfalls.

Here are five of those pitfalls:

1. I Have to Do It Myself

Perfectionists believe only they can complete a task or project exactly right. Due to this, they operate in two ways:

  • If they have a team with specific tasks, they will micro-manage every step of the way. Having done this myself, I can confirm that this is exhausting.
  • They don’t employ or outsource anything, because they must control every aspect of their businesses and spend whatever time is necessary to complete every task themselves. They must feel in control or things will go wrong.

The problem of course is that, as business tasks and processes expand, the perfectionist finds himself grappling with an ever-expanding list of tasks to perform. At some point, he “hits a wall,” because there are just not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Ultimately, this means that there will be tasks not completed exactly right, and this is a “killer” for the perfectionist.

The solution is not an easy one. It will require admission that no one can be “perfect” in every facet of a business. For me, it was the accounting function. If a perfectionist can pick just one facet of the business that must be tasked to someone else, this is a major first step. After that major first step, it will gradually become easier to task out other facets. It’s gradual, and it is a process.

2. Inability to Accept Feedback

Because a perfectionist truly believes only they can “do it right,” when positive or negative feedback comes along their defenses are immediately activated.

Perfectionists have difficulty admitting any weakness. While most entrepreneurs seek advice and counsel from others as they develop their business plans and steps toward a launch, perfectionists tend not to seek advice, believing again that only they can make the process work. They must strive to develop the perfect product or service, no matter how long that may take.

One famous perfectionist was Steve Jobs of Apple. He wanted control of every aspect of product development and insisted that every employee come to him for approval of every detail of a new product innovation. He was unrelenting and known for bursts of anger, often firing employees at will, and that led to his removal from the company at one point. However, he did have a transformation of sorts after he was brought back in to revive Apple, and his perfectionism did modify, especially after he became ill.

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” – Elon Musk

3. Perfectionists Delay Launches

When a perfectionist decides to strike out on his own, he develops a product or a service for which he believes there is a customer base. He develops a business plan and establishes timelines, just as most would-be entrepreneurs do.

The difference between perfectionist and non-perfectionist entrepreneurs is this: the non-perfectionist is willing to develop an MVP, launch it, test the waters, and modify and improve that product or service as they receive feedback and data from marketing and sales efforts.

The perfectionist, on the other hand, cannot launch a less-than-perfect product or service. They fear rejection and failure. There will always be something that can be improved in some way. The result is that a launch is indefinitely delayed and so are marketing plans and the development of a customer base.

4. Perfectionists Suffer from Lack of Balance

Because of their obsession with both doing it all themselves and being perfect in everything, perfectionist entrepreneurs will find themselves increasing their work hours and spending every waking hour on business-related activities. Ultimately, they will sacrifice social activities, time with family, vacations, and even small previous pleasures, like a lunch or dinner out or shopping. They avoid phone calls from friends, forego meals and sleep, and often suffer from insomnia and chronic fatigue.

In short, work becomes the perfectionist’s entire life. These long, unrelenting hours, often combined with stress because of the never-ending list of tasks, lead to burnout. And when burnout is reached, it’s impossible to function effectively. The signs of this include inability to focus and forgetfulness – something that a perfectionist cannot tolerate.

“It’s all about quality of life and finding a happy balance between work and friends and family.” – Philip Green

5. Perfectionists Will Lose Their Creativity

One of the key ingredients of successful entrepreneurship is creative thought and problem-solving. This is how new products and services are developed or existing ones improved along with how new and unique marketing strategies are developed.

When perfectionists are so focused on those tasks at hand and dealing with the fear that things will not be perfect, they lose their ability to think “outside of the box.”

Even though Steve Jobs was a perfectionist, he was able to back off at times and to “dream” of what could be. This drove Apple to new heights under his returned leadership and his change in mental approach.

It’s not that perfectionists cannot be successful entrepreneurs, it’s that they have to work to accept that “done” can actually be as good or better than “perfect.” “Done” means that the company is launched; it means that products are out there and that marketing strategies are beginning to bring in customers. Often, the beginnings of this kind of success will modify a perfectionist’s behavior going forward. And the additional bonus is that the entrepreneur may actually find time for social and family time again.

Has the need to be perfect ever stopped you from accomplishing something you truly wanted? If this is true, let us know in the comments below how you overcame your perfectionism and kept moving ahead.

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Leadership and Life on Mars: Elon Musk Offers 3 Important Lessons for Entrepreneurs

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Image Credit: Solar Tribune

Five, four, three, two, one — blast-off. Elon Musk is headed to Mars… eventually. The space-loving billionaire discussed his dreams of going into space and even life on Mars during the 2017 International Astronautical Congress.

“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great, and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars,” he said.

For many business leaders, believing in a future beyond their own hypothetical stars is what drives them forward each day. And with the majority of rapidly growing companies looking to increase their hiring this year, according to a January report by the team at Spark Hire, 2018 Growth Hiring Trends in the United States, leaders need more inspiration than ever to build up their talent and create a brighter tomorrow for their companies.

These 3 lessons from Elon Musk will help you map out long-term goals, learning and development opportunities, and even succession planning:

1. Creating goals for the future

You want your team to look toward the future of your company and believe it isn’t stagnant — nor are their careers. For employees to dedicate 100 percent of themselves to their roles, they need to see plans for the future. Even more important, they should be involved in the planning process. You wouldn’t create a civilization on Mars without consulting the first travellers, would you? Their opinions, expectations, and needs would be key factors.

Give your team the same opportunity to plan for their careers by developing an entrepreneurial spirit in them. Challenge each person to make a business plan for their current or future role at the company. Ask them to lay out where they see the company in five years and how they’ll help it get there.

“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great” – Elon Musk

2. Don’t make work about one miserable problem after the next

A difficult leadership lesson many of us learn early on is admitting our company has problems. The more important lesson is knowing how to efficiently and effectively overcome those problems, then move on.

The inability to do this results in employees hopping from one miserable problem to the next. After a while, employees become overwhelmed, and it’s impossible to believe the future will be better than the past.

Of course, work can’t always be sunshine and rainbows, so the key here is giving your team the tools to rise above problems and work smarter. When a problem occurs, jump into a team meeting or call to quickly resolve the issue. This shows employees you’re always available to help, which keeps morale high.

Afterwards, brainstorm ways to ensure the problem doesn’t arise again. Have employees note what they feel went wrong and how it can be resolved. Immediately implement these changes to show you’re focused on improving their work experiences.

3. Let them know you’re working to improve their lives

The negativity in this world is overflowing. Work should be a place where employees feel safe to be their genuine, creative, dreaming selves. Every leadership lesson should point back to employees knowing they’re important to the company’s success and that they belong. This is crucial for retention and attracting top talent.

According to a 2017 Globoforce report, Bringing More Humanity to Recognition, Performance, and Life at Work, you can do this by focusing on your team as people who have lives outside of work. In fact, 54 percent of respondents said they would like more opportunities to celebrate life events — such as having a baby, getting married, or buying a house. Additionally, 90 percent of workers who celebrated more than five life events said they feel like they belong in their company.

“And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.” – Elon Musk

Let employees know you care about their lives outside of work by celebrating their life events. If possible, give each person a day off for their birthdays and offer benefits to support important life events, like paid parental leave policies.

Which one of these lessons could you use most in your life right now? Let us know in the comments below so we can be of help!

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Entrepreneurs

6 Ways to Knock Down a Door, From A Former Mr. World Canada

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Image Credit: Gordon Clark of Gordon Clark Photography (Pictured Frankie Cena)

A friend of mine introduced me to Frankie Cena a week ago. I spoke with him on Skype and listened to his story. How one person can achieve so much at a young age, against so much adversity blows my mind and he has a lot to teach you in this article.

As a child, Frankie Cena was happy but also underprivileged and unsatisfied. The cooperative housing unit where he lived kept him close to his family and fed his love of the spotlight—sharing a room with his sister, and performing for all the neighbours who’d stick around to hear.

But it also left him wanting more: more for himself, more for his family; more excitement and more opportunity; more chances for him and the people around him to become whatever they wanted to be.

At 26, Frankie’s desire shows few signs of ebbing. He’s the founder of a speech and debate academy, where he works together with his mother and sister. He has over 200 students whom he mentors inside and outside the debate room.

And in a debate circuit traditionally dominated by private schools, Frankie’s student-body cuts across social class, helping diversify Canada’s roster of international award-winning debaters.

He’s tried to redirect his newfound revenue back into the community that made him. Recently, he gave a 2018 dollar New Years prize to a local woman with down syndrome; and another 24,000 dollars in scholarships to several Burnaby students.

But Frankie is also a proud showman. In 2012 he was crowned Mr. World Canada and represented his country at the Mr. World Pageant in 2012—at 5’ 6”, the shortest contestant in the history of any major male beauty pageant.

He went on to win the competition’s talent portion, singing for millions; to co-host Mr. World 2014; and, in 2014, to join the hosting team for the even larger Miss World Competition. In 2017, Frankie was hired to help create and host the all new, Miss World- “Head to Head Challenge” a platform which gave viewers an in depth look at the 120 Miss World Contestants.

Now I can’t say I know anything about these types of competitions but that’s impressive. Between debate, performance, and his obsession with reality television, Frankie’s interests may seem far-flung.

But to him, chasing so many disparate things is just a part of discovering who he is, and doing justice to the people who fought so he could be there.

The advice that Frankie gives that helps so many people around the world is this:

“Whenever one door closes,” he likes to tell his students, “knock it down.”

Here’s what I learned from Frankie:

 

1. Find Your Passion—Then Chase it Down.

  • If you are not in love with what you’re doing, stop doing it. Almost no one has been successful doing something they do not love.
  • Love gives us creativity and energy, and the power to be ferociously positive after failure. Frankie has met a billion smart, charismatic people around the world who are doing nothing, because they do not know what they love to do.
  • To find their passions, Frankie tells people to do the Eat, Sleep, Poop Test. If when you’re doing something, you don’t think about eating, sleeping, pooping, or anything other than that thing—then that is what you’re meant to do.

 

 2. Cherish Every Person and Every Moment

  • When the moment that makes your dreams come true hits you, you’ll never see it coming. So keep your eyes and ears open, always. Cherish, value and engage with every moment and person because you don’t know what they’ll offer you.
  • When someone asked Frankie if he wanted to be Mr. World Canada, he had no idea that he’d eventually become the host of that international competition, or a face of Miss World—that’d he’d soon be a presenter for an audience of millions. His only thought was—“Let’s see where this takes me.”

 

3. Be “That Guy.”

  •  Give everything, not just what you were hired for. Show that you’re there for the vision, not just for yourself—and that you’re vital to making it all real.
  •  At Miss World Frankie went above and beyond to do more work, talk to more people, and make an impact on more areas and levels than was expected of him. Those around him knew that he would go above and beyond to meet the needs of the organisation and their collective ideal.

 

4. Don’t Be a Donald

  • The days of arrogant, selfish men, puffing out their chests and exploiting the people around them, are numbered. We’ve learned to see overconfidence for what it is: theatre, dishonesty, a cover-up for incompetence and abuse. Kindness and honesty inspire trust and suggest authenticity. They’ll propel you much farther.
  • Surrounded by chiselled, statuesque men, Frankie knew that he probably couldn’t compete, at Mr. World, based on the typical standards of a male beauty pageant. So he did what he knew he could do well: he projected happiness and kindness. He got to know the other contestants, the chaperones, the cameramen, the producers.

“They wanted him back not necessarily because he was the most talented or the best host, but because he had an aura that people had faith in”   

 

5. Learn to Fail Well

  • Any failure, in the big-picture of your life, is nothing but a split-second detour. But in our world of instant gratification—of Facebook, of Twitter, of having everything at our fingertips—they tend to take an outsize importance. We get sad and moody and refuse to move on from failure. But you will have a million failures in your life. And if you fall apart whenever one happens, you won’t have much time left to try again.
  • Frankie has had to swallow rejection on a daily basis. He has heard “you’re not good enough,” “sorry, not this time,” “close but no cigar”—at debate and public speaking competitions, during X Factor auditions—more than he can count. But if he or his students let those failures slow him down, they wouldn’t have had the time or the energy for any of their victories.

 

6. Dream Big

  • If you limit your aspirations you will limit what you can visualise, and hence what you can produce. And it’s not enough just to dream every once in a while.Dream consistently and constantly—and set your standards so high that you make a habit of being absolutely excellent.
  • When Frankie would talk about coaching, he’d claim that his students would one day be the best debaters around. When he’d talk about becoming a singer, he’d tell people he’d be bigger than Bieber. And when he’d talk about hosting television, he’d say he’d outdo Ryan Seacrest. Because he knew that if he didn’t see himself in those positions, no one else ever would.

<<<>>>

 If you’d like to connect with Frankie then visit http://frankiecena.com/

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Motivation

5 Daily Habits to Remain Highly Motivated

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Image Credit: Unsplash

While some of us can naturally maintain a relatively high constant level of motivation, others find it more difficult. This is actually a normal fact of life. After all, the beauty and richness of life is in our attempt to reconcile and manage our different states. (more…)

My name is Bachir Bastien. Being the sparkle that will ignite the fire of possibilities in as many people as possible is how I define myself. I was born and raised in Haiti by my mother. My life has been a struggle since conception. I decided that I was going to use my stories to empower others. These experiences may have been lemons, but I can use them to make sweet lemonade. This is what I have decided to do. That became my life purpose. My first name Bachir means messenger of good news in Arabic; I have been doing just that for the past two years here in Taiwan through articles, workshops, seminars and speeches. I have seen students changing behaviors, increase in confidence, watched students conquer stage fright, etc. This in turn gives me the unwavering certitude that I can empower more people.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Dona L. Crane

    Jan 28, 2018 at 7:49 am

    I’m not clear what the confirmation email strategy is. It’s alluded to in the article but no specifics. How does email confirmation contribute to productivity?

  2. Creating True Happiness

    Oct 30, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Really love that confirmation email tip. I’m going to implement that one right away. Thanks for the info.

Leave a Reply

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

Entrepreneurs

How to Brand Yourself and Your Business at the Same Time

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branding
Image Credit: Unsplash

In the age of automation, people seek to feel personally connected to companies more than ever. The most successful brands have a well-developed narrative and voice, delivering messages to their followers with an air of approachability and ease. Nobody can deny that they prefer feeling like they are being talked with and not talked at.

For many companies, this process involves telling the story of their CEO/Founder just as much as telling the story of the company. A company’s foundation and values is often based on those of its founder’s, and building a successful brand often begins with a certain level of personal publicity and networking. It’s common knowledge that investors invest in ideas, and ideas are direct products of people. So, as the person behind an idea, how can you ensure you are doing yourself and your company justice in terms of branding?

Below are 3 characteristics of your brand you must think about in order to be a success:

1. What’s Your Story?

Make your company’s story your story. People revere Steve Jobs just as much as they do Apple, because they have followed his and Wozniak’s struggles and successes for just as long. With his trademark black turtleneck, Levi’s 501s, and mega-casual New Balance sneakers, the simplicity of his look directly mirrored the minimalism of Apple’s design. Be it unintentionally, Jobs branded himself just as much as he did Apple.

Whether you’re the owner of a startup or small business, you will want to establish this same connection. On your company’s “About” page, tell about your history and how it has led you to where you are now. Discuss your vision, goals, and aspirations for the future of the company and how events in your personal life inspired you to begin your business.

For example, real-estate guru Barbara Corcoran has frequently discussed how a failed relationship and financially-strained upbringing led her to the establishment of her multi-million dollar firm. Candidness and personal publicity are what people admire most in a founder. So sit down, decide what story you want to tell, determine what kind of voice you are going to use to tell it (be it modest, confident, or humorous), and then decide how you want to tell it.

“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.” – J.K. Rowling

2. Set Your Brand into Motion

As discussed, branding is all about the story you tell and how you tell it. Social media has become an excellent outlet for that, because it is the one place where a brand can behave as a person. You create your company’s Facebook page and people watch as it interacts with other people. Of course, this is a person acting on behalf of the brand, but that person has a personality, candor, and voice that people begin to associate with the brand itself.

You may be a one-man-band handling your own marketing and day-to-day operations, or you may have hired a marketing rep/team to handle the social media for you. If it’s the latter, establishing a shared belief of what the voice is for your brand is crucial. Nobody will follow a company whose tone is inconsistent. People like reliability, trustworthiness, and relatability.

Whatever voice you choose for your brand should not be too far off from your own. The names of Elon Musk’s business ventures and projects are based directly on his spontaneous wit and spasmodic humor, i.e. the Boring Company, the BFR, and Tesla models S, 3, X, Y (released in that order for an obvious end result).

Much like Musk did, using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is an important element in voicing your and your brand’s opinions. You will want to gain traction on your personal and your business accounts, and interweave the topics and narrative styles of both accounts on a consistent basis.

3. Be Your Brand

Business cards, interviews, your company website, and networking events – these are all ways to solidify and build your brand. Wherever you go, you are embodying a persona that people will forever associate with your business. By having a say in your company’s identity, that persona will even show in aspects like your logo, website design, and mission statement. Knowledge of branding means that you will always be your own publicist, even when you can one day afford to hire one.

Self-branding is the precursor to success, hence the rise of influencers and public figures in the social media era. Developing your personal brand and having an existing following will garner the much-needed support for your business. Suddenly, the people who have followed you personally become potential investors, crowd funders, and advertisers (never underestimate the power of the “share” button) for your business.

“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” – Jeff Bezos

Creating continuity, popularity, and solidarity between your personal brand and your company’s brand is as simple as ensuring you pour as much of yourself into your company’s work as possible. This involves being directly involved in establishing its image, pitching it to investors, and writing articles on behalf of your company for publishers and influencers. You are your own spokesperson, and social media makes that feat easier than ever.

How do you make sure you’re branding yourself correctly whether as an individual or a with your business? Let us know your thoughts below!

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5 Reasons Why Perfectionists Cannot Be Entrepreneurs

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Perfectionists have high standards for themselves and for others. In an office environment, as employees, they take their responsibilities seriously and never complete any task or project without double-checking even the minutest detail to ensure that it is perfect. They can be irritating to others, too, because they expect the same perfection from their co-workers.

When a perfectionist who has been amazing on the job decides that they want to strike out as an entrepreneur, there are personality traits that can really work against success. Knowing about these in advance may help a perfectionist avoid some of these pitfalls.

Here are five of those pitfalls:

1. I Have to Do It Myself

Perfectionists believe only they can complete a task or project exactly right. Due to this, they operate in two ways:

  • If they have a team with specific tasks, they will micro-manage every step of the way. Having done this myself, I can confirm that this is exhausting.
  • They don’t employ or outsource anything, because they must control every aspect of their businesses and spend whatever time is necessary to complete every task themselves. They must feel in control or things will go wrong.

The problem of course is that, as business tasks and processes expand, the perfectionist finds himself grappling with an ever-expanding list of tasks to perform. At some point, he “hits a wall,” because there are just not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Ultimately, this means that there will be tasks not completed exactly right, and this is a “killer” for the perfectionist.

The solution is not an easy one. It will require admission that no one can be “perfect” in every facet of a business. For me, it was the accounting function. If a perfectionist can pick just one facet of the business that must be tasked to someone else, this is a major first step. After that major first step, it will gradually become easier to task out other facets. It’s gradual, and it is a process.

2. Inability to Accept Feedback

Because a perfectionist truly believes only they can “do it right,” when positive or negative feedback comes along their defenses are immediately activated.

Perfectionists have difficulty admitting any weakness. While most entrepreneurs seek advice and counsel from others as they develop their business plans and steps toward a launch, perfectionists tend not to seek advice, believing again that only they can make the process work. They must strive to develop the perfect product or service, no matter how long that may take.

One famous perfectionist was Steve Jobs of Apple. He wanted control of every aspect of product development and insisted that every employee come to him for approval of every detail of a new product innovation. He was unrelenting and known for bursts of anger, often firing employees at will, and that led to his removal from the company at one point. However, he did have a transformation of sorts after he was brought back in to revive Apple, and his perfectionism did modify, especially after he became ill.

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” – Elon Musk

3. Perfectionists Delay Launches

When a perfectionist decides to strike out on his own, he develops a product or a service for which he believes there is a customer base. He develops a business plan and establishes timelines, just as most would-be entrepreneurs do.

The difference between perfectionist and non-perfectionist entrepreneurs is this: the non-perfectionist is willing to develop an MVP, launch it, test the waters, and modify and improve that product or service as they receive feedback and data from marketing and sales efforts.

The perfectionist, on the other hand, cannot launch a less-than-perfect product or service. They fear rejection and failure. There will always be something that can be improved in some way. The result is that a launch is indefinitely delayed and so are marketing plans and the development of a customer base.

4. Perfectionists Suffer from Lack of Balance

Because of their obsession with both doing it all themselves and being perfect in everything, perfectionist entrepreneurs will find themselves increasing their work hours and spending every waking hour on business-related activities. Ultimately, they will sacrifice social activities, time with family, vacations, and even small previous pleasures, like a lunch or dinner out or shopping. They avoid phone calls from friends, forego meals and sleep, and often suffer from insomnia and chronic fatigue.

In short, work becomes the perfectionist’s entire life. These long, unrelenting hours, often combined with stress because of the never-ending list of tasks, lead to burnout. And when burnout is reached, it’s impossible to function effectively. The signs of this include inability to focus and forgetfulness – something that a perfectionist cannot tolerate.

“It’s all about quality of life and finding a happy balance between work and friends and family.” – Philip Green

5. Perfectionists Will Lose Their Creativity

One of the key ingredients of successful entrepreneurship is creative thought and problem-solving. This is how new products and services are developed or existing ones improved along with how new and unique marketing strategies are developed.

When perfectionists are so focused on those tasks at hand and dealing with the fear that things will not be perfect, they lose their ability to think “outside of the box.”

Even though Steve Jobs was a perfectionist, he was able to back off at times and to “dream” of what could be. This drove Apple to new heights under his returned leadership and his change in mental approach.

It’s not that perfectionists cannot be successful entrepreneurs, it’s that they have to work to accept that “done” can actually be as good or better than “perfect.” “Done” means that the company is launched; it means that products are out there and that marketing strategies are beginning to bring in customers. Often, the beginnings of this kind of success will modify a perfectionist’s behavior going forward. And the additional bonus is that the entrepreneur may actually find time for social and family time again.

Has the need to be perfect ever stopped you from accomplishing something you truly wanted? If this is true, let us know in the comments below how you overcame your perfectionism and kept moving ahead.

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Leadership and Life on Mars: Elon Musk Offers 3 Important Lessons for Entrepreneurs

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Image Credit: Solar Tribune

Five, four, three, two, one — blast-off. Elon Musk is headed to Mars… eventually. The space-loving billionaire discussed his dreams of going into space and even life on Mars during the 2017 International Astronautical Congress.

“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great, and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars,” he said.

For many business leaders, believing in a future beyond their own hypothetical stars is what drives them forward each day. And with the majority of rapidly growing companies looking to increase their hiring this year, according to a January report by the team at Spark Hire, 2018 Growth Hiring Trends in the United States, leaders need more inspiration than ever to build up their talent and create a brighter tomorrow for their companies.

These 3 lessons from Elon Musk will help you map out long-term goals, learning and development opportunities, and even succession planning:

1. Creating goals for the future

You want your team to look toward the future of your company and believe it isn’t stagnant — nor are their careers. For employees to dedicate 100 percent of themselves to their roles, they need to see plans for the future. Even more important, they should be involved in the planning process. You wouldn’t create a civilization on Mars without consulting the first travellers, would you? Their opinions, expectations, and needs would be key factors.

Give your team the same opportunity to plan for their careers by developing an entrepreneurial spirit in them. Challenge each person to make a business plan for their current or future role at the company. Ask them to lay out where they see the company in five years and how they’ll help it get there.

“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great” – Elon Musk

2. Don’t make work about one miserable problem after the next

A difficult leadership lesson many of us learn early on is admitting our company has problems. The more important lesson is knowing how to efficiently and effectively overcome those problems, then move on.

The inability to do this results in employees hopping from one miserable problem to the next. After a while, employees become overwhelmed, and it’s impossible to believe the future will be better than the past.

Of course, work can’t always be sunshine and rainbows, so the key here is giving your team the tools to rise above problems and work smarter. When a problem occurs, jump into a team meeting or call to quickly resolve the issue. This shows employees you’re always available to help, which keeps morale high.

Afterwards, brainstorm ways to ensure the problem doesn’t arise again. Have employees note what they feel went wrong and how it can be resolved. Immediately implement these changes to show you’re focused on improving their work experiences.

3. Let them know you’re working to improve their lives

The negativity in this world is overflowing. Work should be a place where employees feel safe to be their genuine, creative, dreaming selves. Every leadership lesson should point back to employees knowing they’re important to the company’s success and that they belong. This is crucial for retention and attracting top talent.

According to a 2017 Globoforce report, Bringing More Humanity to Recognition, Performance, and Life at Work, you can do this by focusing on your team as people who have lives outside of work. In fact, 54 percent of respondents said they would like more opportunities to celebrate life events — such as having a baby, getting married, or buying a house. Additionally, 90 percent of workers who celebrated more than five life events said they feel like they belong in their company.

“And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.” – Elon Musk

Let employees know you care about their lives outside of work by celebrating their life events. If possible, give each person a day off for their birthdays and offer benefits to support important life events, like paid parental leave policies.

Which one of these lessons could you use most in your life right now? Let us know in the comments below so we can be of help!

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6 Ways to Knock Down a Door, From A Former Mr. World Canada

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Image Credit: Gordon Clark of Gordon Clark Photography (Pictured Frankie Cena)

A friend of mine introduced me to Frankie Cena a week ago. I spoke with him on Skype and listened to his story. How one person can achieve so much at a young age, against so much adversity blows my mind and he has a lot to teach you in this article.

As a child, Frankie Cena was happy but also underprivileged and unsatisfied. The cooperative housing unit where he lived kept him close to his family and fed his love of the spotlight—sharing a room with his sister, and performing for all the neighbours who’d stick around to hear.

But it also left him wanting more: more for himself, more for his family; more excitement and more opportunity; more chances for him and the people around him to become whatever they wanted to be.

At 26, Frankie’s desire shows few signs of ebbing. He’s the founder of a speech and debate academy, where he works together with his mother and sister. He has over 200 students whom he mentors inside and outside the debate room.

And in a debate circuit traditionally dominated by private schools, Frankie’s student-body cuts across social class, helping diversify Canada’s roster of international award-winning debaters.

He’s tried to redirect his newfound revenue back into the community that made him. Recently, he gave a 2018 dollar New Years prize to a local woman with down syndrome; and another 24,000 dollars in scholarships to several Burnaby students.

But Frankie is also a proud showman. In 2012 he was crowned Mr. World Canada and represented his country at the Mr. World Pageant in 2012—at 5’ 6”, the shortest contestant in the history of any major male beauty pageant.

He went on to win the competition’s talent portion, singing for millions; to co-host Mr. World 2014; and, in 2014, to join the hosting team for the even larger Miss World Competition. In 2017, Frankie was hired to help create and host the all new, Miss World- “Head to Head Challenge” a platform which gave viewers an in depth look at the 120 Miss World Contestants.

Now I can’t say I know anything about these types of competitions but that’s impressive. Between debate, performance, and his obsession with reality television, Frankie’s interests may seem far-flung.

But to him, chasing so many disparate things is just a part of discovering who he is, and doing justice to the people who fought so he could be there.

The advice that Frankie gives that helps so many people around the world is this:

“Whenever one door closes,” he likes to tell his students, “knock it down.”

Here’s what I learned from Frankie:

 

1. Find Your Passion—Then Chase it Down.

  • If you are not in love with what you’re doing, stop doing it. Almost no one has been successful doing something they do not love.
  • Love gives us creativity and energy, and the power to be ferociously positive after failure. Frankie has met a billion smart, charismatic people around the world who are doing nothing, because they do not know what they love to do.
  • To find their passions, Frankie tells people to do the Eat, Sleep, Poop Test. If when you’re doing something, you don’t think about eating, sleeping, pooping, or anything other than that thing—then that is what you’re meant to do.

 

 2. Cherish Every Person and Every Moment

  • When the moment that makes your dreams come true hits you, you’ll never see it coming. So keep your eyes and ears open, always. Cherish, value and engage with every moment and person because you don’t know what they’ll offer you.
  • When someone asked Frankie if he wanted to be Mr. World Canada, he had no idea that he’d eventually become the host of that international competition, or a face of Miss World—that’d he’d soon be a presenter for an audience of millions. His only thought was—“Let’s see where this takes me.”

 

3. Be “That Guy.”

  •  Give everything, not just what you were hired for. Show that you’re there for the vision, not just for yourself—and that you’re vital to making it all real.
  •  At Miss World Frankie went above and beyond to do more work, talk to more people, and make an impact on more areas and levels than was expected of him. Those around him knew that he would go above and beyond to meet the needs of the organisation and their collective ideal.

 

4. Don’t Be a Donald

  • The days of arrogant, selfish men, puffing out their chests and exploiting the people around them, are numbered. We’ve learned to see overconfidence for what it is: theatre, dishonesty, a cover-up for incompetence and abuse. Kindness and honesty inspire trust and suggest authenticity. They’ll propel you much farther.
  • Surrounded by chiselled, statuesque men, Frankie knew that he probably couldn’t compete, at Mr. World, based on the typical standards of a male beauty pageant. So he did what he knew he could do well: he projected happiness and kindness. He got to know the other contestants, the chaperones, the cameramen, the producers.

“They wanted him back not necessarily because he was the most talented or the best host, but because he had an aura that people had faith in”   

 

5. Learn to Fail Well

  • Any failure, in the big-picture of your life, is nothing but a split-second detour. But in our world of instant gratification—of Facebook, of Twitter, of having everything at our fingertips—they tend to take an outsize importance. We get sad and moody and refuse to move on from failure. But you will have a million failures in your life. And if you fall apart whenever one happens, you won’t have much time left to try again.
  • Frankie has had to swallow rejection on a daily basis. He has heard “you’re not good enough,” “sorry, not this time,” “close but no cigar”—at debate and public speaking competitions, during X Factor auditions—more than he can count. But if he or his students let those failures slow him down, they wouldn’t have had the time or the energy for any of their victories.

 

6. Dream Big

  • If you limit your aspirations you will limit what you can visualise, and hence what you can produce. And it’s not enough just to dream every once in a while.Dream consistently and constantly—and set your standards so high that you make a habit of being absolutely excellent.
  • When Frankie would talk about coaching, he’d claim that his students would one day be the best debaters around. When he’d talk about becoming a singer, he’d tell people he’d be bigger than Bieber. And when he’d talk about hosting television, he’d say he’d outdo Ryan Seacrest. Because he knew that if he didn’t see himself in those positions, no one else ever would.

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 If you’d like to connect with Frankie then visit http://frankiecena.com/

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