Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Finding Purpose and Direction with One Word

“Hey mom, in three years you’ll be fifty.”

This simple statement, made by my son, still rings in my ears  years later. Having been self-employed for over 15 years at the time and working with my main client for over 10 years this brought up a harsh reality.

I looked at the stack of papers on my desk and asked myself “Is this what you want to be doing in three years?”

After some deep soul-searching, I came to the difficult decision to make some major career changes in my life. I had worked from a home office, had virtual co-workers and even virtual friends. I wanted to grow as a person and “expand my horizons” as the saying goes. I wanted to practice what I taught and coached about. I wanted to live my vision and reach for the stars!

I took a leap of faith and left that client. I become a direct seller for a new company. All was great and I became a leader in just 45 days. Having worked from home and with now grown children, I lacked the warm fuzzy market of local friends and family. I knew I need to change that for my business growth, for personal support and friendship.

I had been using and teaching vision boards and goal setting for several years and this seemed the natural first step to making my life changes. As I gathered images, almost randomly using my right-brain, I was attracted to the image of the word CONNECT.

As I reflect back on this now, I see that this was my “One Word” focus. The start of something powerful that I didn’t even know existed!

I didn’t know what “connect” would look like or what the final result would be so I trusted in the image and knew it would guide me where I needed to be. This became my guiding image.

The guiding image to me is a representation of a heart’s desire. It is not a material item or place. It is more a feeling or sense of being. Very often, I think, we know something needs to change. We know there is an opportunity out there, we just can’t yet define it or picture it in our mind. We truly feel it within our hearts. This is what CONNECT was to me. It was my heart’s desire to be part of something outside of myself.

Shortly after creating this board, a gal friended me on Facebook. She was interested in starting a women’s networking group in our area – a rural farming community nestled in the foothills of Mt. Rainier. We did have lots of networking choices if we drove 45 to 60 minutes toward Seattle or Tacoma, but no strong local groups. We met at Starbucks that week to set the plan in motion.

Hannah, my daughter Emily, and I met. We had great ideas and a grand vision. We did wonder if anyone would attend our meetings. My daughter promptly committed to not attending! However, undaunted, Hannah and I moved forward.

Flash Forward seven months….Our networking meetings boasted consistent attendance of over 15 women. We enjoyed new members every meeting. We made strong friendships that transcended the networking group. We socialize together and support each other. We are connected.

Looking back to pasting that image on my board, I never “visioned” co-founding a successful networking group, developing close friendships so quickly, or redeveloping the connection to my community. The abstract image CONNECT was my guiding image – guiding me to connect, take chances and reach for the stars!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Networking: A New Approach of Pay It Forward

A couple of years ago, after ten years of tele-commuting, I jumped back to the “real” world and into the new world of networking. It has come along way from the “Chamber of Commerce” events I had been a part of many years ago.

Networking has taken on a new look and new feel.  Networking is more about relationships than about business.  I am finding more and more groups lead by females and embracing home-based businesses, including direct sales and party plan businesses. As I looked at networking events, I took the approach of filling my calendar with every event possible. I attended those that were “free”, the paid groups and those supported by vendors.  I learned a great deal through my own experience — more about that later.  I also looked for advice from the “pros”.

I read information online and looked at several books. I’m at a Networking Event–Now What???: A Guide to Getting the Most Out of Any Networking Event by Sandy Jones-Kaminski was by far the most helpful and comprehensive one I found. It covered a variety of situations and scenarios and outlined the practical steps and uses of networking in today’s society and fast-paced world.

Sandy’s unique approach to “networking better” and “pay it forward” philosophy changed the way I looked at networking.  Networking is not about collecting names and business cards. It is about CONNECTING people with people – not necessarily connecting YOU with people!

The quote “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” resonates with her philosophy. Network to help others not just yourself! WOW – what a concept!

Her practical tips from choose the events to introducing yourself and following up lay the foundation for successful marketing. Don’t leave an event with 20 business cards – leave the event with quality connections. This changed the way I networked and lead to many successful business and personal connections that changed my life and the lives of others.

If you are looking to build your business or find a new career, I highly recommend reading this book and learning how to use networking events to build your relationships.  Direct Sales/Party Plan businesses are built on relationships.  Exchanging cards at the event is just the first step…after you have chosen the right events to attend.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

“First comes the thought;
then organization of that thought into ideas and plans; 
then transformation of those plans into reality.
The beginning, as you will observe, is in 
your imagination”
~Napolean Hill
As entrepreneurs we are full of ideas! Our thoughts are often free-flowing and mind-blowing!!! Most of us also struggle with getting these ideas firmed out and completed.  If you  are like me, you have several brilliant ideas in various forms of completion.  You also then suffer with the disappointment of  not completing your idea or seeing someone else act on a similar idea first.
What I have found to be useful is keeping a “Project List” or “Pending List” in Excel. (Yes, Marian’s dreaded “Pending List” for those that have ever worked on a project with me!) I have found this list to be a great time and energy saver.
I create a list in a spreadsheet.  I simply list the project and then keep track of the various tasks that need to be done. I make notes of dates, delegations and progress on each task or step if I have broken it down. This keeps notes and progress neatly in one place and easy for reference.  I then add my specific tasks to my daily “To Do” list and then move on. (I can also share the sheet with my team members so they can track progress or note their parts in a project.)
For example, if you want to create a newsletter for your team, you could quickly use the spreadsheet to organize your thoughts and the tasks involved in this.  By outlining what needs to be done, you can break it up into smaller, daily tasks and have a completed newsletter ready to send within your deadline. By letting the idea fly around in your head, chances are your newsletter will never get sent.
Using the spreadsheet also allows me to prioritize tasks and ideas using the A, B, C, D method of Steven Covey – The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
Take the time to organize and prioritize your thoughts and work. Your success depends on it!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Love Books? Must-Have App That Can Save You Time & Money!

I love books! I love “e-books” and print books.  You can never have enough books.  But, many times I  purchase a book and never read it. Or, get started and find it isn’t what I need or want at the time. I was just introduced to my new favorite app (website also) called Blinkist.

Photo courtesty of publicdomainpictures.net
Blinkist provides a very cool service — 15 minute or so overviews of books.  Cliff notes for the electronic age! Blinkist provides the summary in both a printed and audible option.  You can even do both — read along!

It is available for computer and as an app – making it very convenient to use.

Convenience is great and Blinkist is upfront noting that the summary does not replace reading the entire book. I completely agree, however, I felt like George in Phenomenon being able to review three books before going to work this morning!

What I am finding Blinkist most useful for is to help me determine which books are a fit for me and my current needs. This morning before work, I was able to listen to three books.  Of the three, The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, one was on my shelf, not yet read.  It is now at the top of my “To Read” list.  Another on my shelf, borrowed from a friend, is being returned. It just wasn’t a fit for me. And, the third, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less  by Greg McKeown is on my Amazon wish list for purchasing.

The books are non-fiction and cover a vast array of subjects including business, health and fitness and personal finance. Blinkist boosts a booklist of over 1500 titles. Categories include:

  • Entrepreneurship and Small Business
  • Personal Growth and Self-Improvement
  • Biography and History
  • Health and Fitness
  • Relationships and Parenting

Blinkist offers a free three-day trial and then an annual subscription service for a very reasonable $79.99. I found this very reasonable when I calculate the number of books I purchase each year…and the number that I never read or regret purchasing.

Also, with the short summaries as audios, I was able to listen to a “book” while walking my dog!

If you haven’t checked out this service, give it try for 3 days – FREE!  Hear the summary of the books sitting on your shelf or wish list, you never know what you might learn!

Friday, November 18, 2016

"Flip It Friday" - Getting Email Under Control

I was on a great webinar  hosted by "GetControl" focusing on getting control of your email. Some of you may be familiar with one of my favorite books -- "The Hamster Revolution" by Mike Song. This webinar, hosted by his company, covered tips from this book as well as a few others.

One of the tips that I want to share with you today is "Flip it Friday." It is a great concept and a perfect Friday project.

Many of us view email with the most recent listed on top and then work our way down the list. Well, on Friday, "Flip It" -- view the oldest email on top and work your way down the list. It is amazing how many "old" emails are still in the Inbox. These emails have either past date due, are handled or are no longer relevant. As you work your way down, these "old" emails can be deleted or filed.

As you go through this list you can quickly get your Inbox under control and have only those emails that are still relevant and needing a reply left.

It is true that the "clutter" in your inbox also clutters your thinking. By clearing the clutter, you will free your thoughts to the more productive projects at hand. It will also making starting Monday a little friendlier!

So, "Flip It Friday" and have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

2 Powerful Words - I AM

Two of the most powerful words we use are — “I Am”.  

Whether we say them out loud or in our self talk, we use them thousands of times each day.  We can use them negatively… “I am broke,”  “I am too fat, ” I am too slow,”  ” I am not good enough”  or we use them positively “I am powerful”, “I am confident” , “I am a business builder” or “I am a successful leader”….these “I am” statements become our reality.

How do these thoughts manifest themselves? The subconscious mind works to make your thoughts your reality! It does not want to live in untruth. It works to bring harmony between our thoughts and our being.  Change your thoughts and change your reality! This can be done with mantras, self-talk and vision boards! Below is an example of a video focusing on the power of the “I AM”.

As you watch the video, feel the power it creates…the self-confidence you feel inside, the peace in your heart.

What words capture your attention? What words are you drawn to? What do you remember most about the words and phrases?  Let your sub-conscience mind open up and embrace the message.

Starting your day with positive “I Am” statements and mantras will make a difference in how you perceive situations. Obstacles will become challenges and opportunities. You will be able to see the solutions instead of problems.

Spend just 3-5 minutes each morning in positive energy and see what a difference it can make for you!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Direct Sales: 5 Inner "Whys" People Join Your Team

Direct Selling is unique in that it does offer something for everybody – purchase great products, host a party or choose a career. It offers a unique opportunity for earning income and personal satisfaction. Not everyone will join your business for the money. There are five key reasons women (and men) join direct selling companies. These  needs are based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
As you talk with a prospective consultant, ask questions to find which reason – or need – your opportunity will fulfill and help the prospect learn how it can benefit her.
The Five “Inner Whys”:
1.        Basic Needs
Are they looking to fulfill a basic financial need? Make a payment? Having month left at the end of the money?  How will the extra income make them  feel when their basic needs are met?  
·         Focus on retail profit
2.       Financial Needs
Are they looking “longer term” to pay off debt? Save for college or a new car? Maybe a bigger house? Are they looking for financial security?
·         Share the profit as well as team building and leadership option.
3.        Social Needs
Do they want to talk to someone over three-feet tall? Do they want to talk to someone who is in the same room and doesn’t TEXT the answer back? Are they starting a new phase in life?  Do they love meeting new people? Do they love organizing events? Do they love making people smile?
·       Party time! Social butterflies love the party potential. They also may enjoy team meetings, trips and conferences.
4.        Recognition Needs
Are they in a “dead-end” job?  Not appreciated for the work they do?  Do they have untapped potential? Do they want to be recognized for special talents and abilities?
·       Share the pins, certificates and newsletter recognition they will receive. They also received recognition in title advancements, speaking and training at local meetings and calls.
5.        High Achiever
      • Are they a high achiever and want to go higher?  Did they reach a glass ceiling and want MORE? Are they hungry to learn, to teach, to lead others?  Do they love the podium?  Do they want inner self-satisfaction for doing the best they can every time?  Share the compensation plan and how to move into leadership. They also love a challenge – special bonuses and rewards.
By understanding the basic needs and "WHY's" people join a direct sales company, we can focus on how our opportunity will best fulfill those needs. 


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Direct Sales: 5 Tips for Making the Most of Events

The Fortune is in the Follow….THROUGH

As many of you head out to fairs, festivals and events this season, I would like to remind everyone that the fortune in our business does not just lie in the follow-up….it is in the follow through!

In talking with a coaching client this week, she commented that she had done the follow-up phone call to a customer and was “gonna” mail her a new catalog. My question to her was “When is GONNA?” She had talked with the prospect three days earlier and still had not mailed the catalog.  The follow-up was spot on…the follow through was missing the mark.

Be on target with follow up and follow through - 
Set Yourself Apart From the Rest for Success

A key to successful events is not just in getting a box full of leads, but is in the follow-up and follow through with these leads in a very timely manner.  “Very timely” meaning within 48 hours…or sooner when possible.

These actions alone will set you apart from 80% of the other vendors.

In a nutshell, here are five tips for having successful events:
  1. Before starting any event, have a plan.  Be sure you set (and write out) realistic goals for the event so you can evaluate it. Did it met your goals, needs and expectations?  Note that going into an event to get “name recognition” or “product exposure” means you don’t expect any monetary gain. Don’t be disappointed when you hit that goal!
  2. Be prepared for the event.  This will vary greatly on your product, company and goals.  At minimum be sure to have a way to collect prospective client, customer, etc information.  Include asking, “What is the best way to reach you?”  TEXT, EMAIL, FACEBOOK, PHONE, etc.
  3. Contact every lead within 48 hours of the event. Preferably this is by their “best way“…but if needed it can be an email sent to everyone (privately — no CC) thanking them for visiting your booth and you will be in touch soon. If you did a drawing, this is a great time to announce the winner such as “Mary C from Appletown won our grand prize.” Including a picture of your booth in the email or a link to your Facebook business page with a picture there is a great way to stay fresh in their minds.
  4. Follow up with each lead using their “best way” as soon as possible.  HOT leads should be followed up with immediately. Personalized follow up is key to developing the long-term relationship and even securing the initial sales.
  5. Follow through as promised. This seems to be the step that is overlooked.  Once you have made the initial follow up, be sure to provide the information or future contact the prospect needs.  Do not wait two or three days to mail a catalog. Have packets pre-made or materials ready to assemble as you make the follow up calls.  Mail, email, Facebook information as you commit to doing so.
Following those five tips will help you make the most of every event and build your success.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Direct Sellers: 3 Ways to Boost Your Creativity and Stay Ahead in Your Business

As a direct seller, you know how important keeping your business fresh and exciting is to attracting and keeping hosts and customers. As a Director of Field Development with over 20 years in the direct selling industry, I understand the need for keeping creativity flowing and have found articles which offer insights and tips on growing and maintaining creativity.

In an NPR (National Public Radio) article, “Wish You Were More Creative” , Dr David Fessell, professor of radiology at the University of Michigan Medical School, explains that emerging science is finding that creativity isn’t inherent but can be learned, practiced and improved. Dr. Fessell sites specific MRI scans of the brain are unlocking the secrets to creativity. They are finding that creativity is not due to some people having different parts of the brain but rather they have learned to improve creativity with practice. The ways to improve creativity are both common and uncommon and could be utilized by direct sellers to boost their creativity.

Travis Bradberry, Co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, examined the habits of highly creative people and outlined his findings in the article “ 6 Unusual Habits of Exceptionally Creative People”,  in Entrepreneur. Bradberry examined habits of creative writers and found several common factors that lead to their creative success. These included exercise, having a schedule and learning to work anywhere, anytime. Bradberry summarizes his findings that creative people are intentional and don’t stop their creativity from flowing.

Creativity is not a gift of the few but can be enhanced and developed by all. To increase your activity, try the following actions:

  • Get active – Physical exercise and active, such as taking walks enhances creativity. Take a brisk walk before setting down to work on your business ideas.
  •  Start early – Studies find we are most creative before daily tasks take over. Set aside one morning to write out your ideas before the bustle of the day begins. Let your creativity flow and write down every idea.
  • Play games – Simply improv games develop quick thinking and deeper thinking skills.

If you are looking to grow your business, out of the box thinking can have a huge impact. Increase your creativity by taking these actions today!

Marian (Brown) Smith is Director of Field Development with a DSA member Direct Selling Company. She has over 20 years in the direct selling industry both in the field and corporately. She is also a Certified Vision Board and Life Coach.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Creative Thinkers: 3 Ways to Organize Your Thoughts and Ideas with Spreadsheets

“First comes the thought; then organization of that thought into ideas and plans;
then transformation of those plans into reality.
The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination”
~Napolean Hill

As entrepreneurs we are full of ideas! Our thoughts are often free-flowing and mind-blowing! Most of us also struggle with getting these ideas firmed out and completed.

If you are like me, you have several brilliant ideas in various forms of completion. You also then may suffer with the disappointment of not completing your idea or seeing someone else act on a similar idea first.

Here are three ways to use spreadsheets to keep your creative ideas on target and task.

  • Use spreadsheets to create and track your projects and "to do" lists
  • Use spreadsheets to delegate, collaborate and track projects
  • Use spreadsheets to prioritize your tasks

Photo credit flicker.com Photo by Glen Forde

What I have found to be useful is keeping a “Project List” or “Pending List” in spreadsheet form. I have found this list to be a great time and energy saver. I create a list in a spreadsheet. Simply list the project and then keep track of the various tasks that need to be done.

Make notes of dates, delegations and progress on each task or step if as it is broken down. This keeps notes and progress neatly in one place and easy for reference. Add specific tasks to your daily “To Do” list and then move on.

For example, if you want to create a newsletter for your team, you could quickly use the spreadsheet to organize your thoughts and the tasks involved. By outlining what needs to be done, you can break it up into smaller, daily tasks and have a completed newsletter ready to send within your deadline. By letting the idea fly around in your head, chances are your newsletter will never get sent.

Another advantage to a spreadsheet is the its ability to be shared with others who may be working on projects with you. A mastersheet can be created with various tabs for delegated actions.

Using the spreadsheet method also allows for prioritizing of tasks and ideas using the A, B, C, D method detailed by Steven Covey in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Tabs can be labeled with "Important & Urgent", "Important but not Urgent", "Urgent but not Important" and "Not Important and Not Urgent".  Assigning ideas and tasks to the tabs will help to focus and organize your creative ideas and tasks.

Spreadsheets with their multiple tabs can be a quick and easy way to organize your ideas and tasks.

Take the time to organize and prioritize your thoughts and work. Your success depends on it!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Spring Reflection: A Challenge to Renew Goals and Bloom!

Here we are wrapping up the first week of Spring. I thought it would be fitting to share my feelings on this time of year.

As a Wisconsin native, I have a real appreciation for the beginning of spring. I grew up loving the flowers peeking through the snow, the first sighting of a robin, and the hints of warmer weather around the corner. I loved the birthing of lambs and calves, the hatching of chicks and prepping of fields for planting. Spring was a sign winter was winding down and brighter, warmer days were just around the corner.robin-snow

Now to me, spring is still the time of rebirth, renewal and new beginnings. It is a time for “cleaning” and organizing. And, looking forward to summer vacation!

With my love of spring, I always thought that it would be more fitting to make New Year’s Resolutions the first day of spring – when we are full of hope and life rather than in the cold, dark days of winter! I think we have clearer heads and a true optimism of what is possible when we see life teeming around us…blooming flowers, budding trees and sunshine.

Spring is nature’s new start. It is a promise of new beginnings. New harvests. New opportunities. Spring is a time to renew the excitement and zest for life that lives inside each of us.

As we move into spring, use this time to stop and enjoy the beauty of nature and of life and all that it holds. I challenge each of you to use spring’s arrival as your cue to renew your life’s goals and bloom in your own way.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Vision Boards In the News

This week has already been a great week for positive online coverage of vision boards and their importance in goal setting and planning your future.  To make this coverage even better was the mention of The Vision Board book in one post and the second post being in Huffington Post, a mainstream online source.

Associate Editor Margarita Tartakovsky, Psychcentral.com, covered the aspect of visioning which many articles about vision boards neglect.  She also outlined the 5-Step formula author Joyce Schwarz presents in The Vision Board book.

For those who have attended my workshops or trainings, you may recognize the “mini board” exercise.  Visioning — getting in touch with your inner feeling or “heart’s desire” — is an important step in creating a successful vision board.  Paging through magazines quickly and pulling out the pages of images or headlines is a great way to get in touch with your deeper motivations in life.

Katy Hanley, Huffington Post
The second mention this week was by Kate Hanley, on the Huffington Post.  It was an excellent overview of why vision boards are important in seeing life goals versus just listing them with paper and pen.  I especially loved how she included having the physical presence of the board was important — don’t keep it online!

Hanley states “Putting together a vision board can crystallize the goals you’re already aware of and tease out the ones that are still in a formative state.”  I think she has summed up the visioning process of vision board making!

As a Certified Vision Board Coach, I am encouraged by the positive press and media coverage has been receiving over the past few years. Vision boards can be an important tool in achieving success in both life and business.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Ready...Set...Focus - One Word for the year!

Are you ready for 2016? Like Santa are you making a list – a checking it twice? Is your list a list of resolutions?  Several years ago, I was introduced to the “One Word” concept. This has changed by thinking and my life over the past years.

The idea is developed in the book  One Word That Will Change Your Life by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton and Jimmy Page. The premise is to find one word to apply to the six core areas of your life.

These areas are:

  • Mental
  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Relational
  • Spiritual
  • Financial
The idea is that it is much easier to focus on one word versus a list of random resolutions for the areas.

In 2015, my word was “accountability.”  I think of myself as a responsible person but “accountability” kicked it up a notch! Applying the thought of “accountability” to all areas did keep my focus and also provided for continuity in moving forward – setting goals and so on.

Choosing your word may or may not be easy.  Your word may also choose you! Last year was challenging but this year my work came quickly after listening to the audible version of the book.  It takes about an hour to listen to the complete book!

Along with working on written statements for each area and my word, I also created a quick vision board reflecting my 2016 word — COURAGE.

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