Elisabeth Garbeil's blog

Faith - Or How to Keep Going When You Don't See Results

When I talk with my friends and clients,  the hardest thing that we all face is often the lack of conviction that what we are doing is working and that we will see results.  Most of us are very far out of our comfort zones when we're looking for jobs or starting a business.  Hopefully, it's not something we do on a regular basis so that we're comfortable and confident.  That's part of the reason a lot of experts will recommend that you do go on job interviews on a yearly basis, even if you're not looking.   Most people don't.   That way, when you do seriously need or want to look for a new job, you are comfortable and secure in the process.

It's not an easy process either way.  If you're looking for a job, you could end up making dozens, if not hundreds of calls, go on many interviews and do a lot of searching online before you find the right job.   The process looks a little different when starting a business, but it's essentially the same.  You make dozens or hundreds of calls, go to many networking events or meetings and do much research before your business is established.  For the new entrepreneur,  you need to find not just one job, but many - which makes it much worse than the typical job hunt.   Someone looking to find a job only needs to make one sale.   An entrepreneur must make many sales.  Weight loss,  is by the way, often the same problem.  It takes a long time to see results and it's very easy to get discouraged.

Most people tend to get discouraged after the second or third call that doesn't go well.  If you're not a trained salesperson, it's truly difficult to get through the first several years of business.   I believe that most beginning entrepreneurs give up because they get discouraged, not because they run out of money.   They never raise the money they need to begin with.

So do you keep going when you don't see results immediately, the bills are mounting and nothing you're doing seems to be working?

For myself, it's usually that the alternative is much worse.  I would really rather not go back to working the same long hours and travel that I was doing when I worked full-time.  Not to mention that the job itself had long ago ceased to interest me.  There are things I don't like about what I do now.  I am not a natural salesperson and there are parts of the selling process that I don't enjoy.  I don't enjoy the paperwork and I don't enjoy having to deal with the IRS and being much more likely to be audited.  Not to knock them - our auditor was actually a very nice lady and everything worked out fine.  It was just very time consuming. 

The thing is, I love my business.  The core of what I do is helping people I develop.     And it's not just my clients.  I find it very worthwhile to be able to give people useful assistance, even if it's just connecting two people that might make great referral partners for each other, or giving some quick suggestions that may help a situation.  I love meeting new people, helping them develop and supporting their visions.  I meet so many amazing people now.  The parts of my business that I love keep me going and keep me fueled to keep growing my business so that I can help more people.   My faith is that what I am doing is worthwhile, not just to me, but to the people I help - and the alternative sucks.  It doesn't hurt that I'm stubborner that a mule either.  There a lot to be said for persistence.

For some people, putting their faith in God works well.  I have several friends that have a wonderful relationship with God and "he" or "she" supports their endeavors.   I think that's great and more power to them.   It works for them and that's what matters.   It never worked for me - my spiritual views are not that tangible and I've never been able to relate to God as a being.     I have other friends that have such supreme self-confidence that they cannot conceive of failing.   Again, it works for them and that is great.   It doesn't work for me when it comes to my own business.   I am hoping that 10 or 20 years from now, I will have that supreme self-confidence.    

I don't think there's a one size fits all or even a one size fits most answer when it comes to the faith or courage to keep going when you don't see immediate results.   I do encourage you to look for the answer that works for you and will keep you going.  I also don't have a good answer for how to find that faith.  All I can do is suggest the above as places to look.   It has to work for you.

In the meantime, here are some ideas that will help:

  1. Focus on the small wins:  For example,  even getting the meeting or interview is a win.  Having someone call you, even if it doesn't go anywhere is a win.  Feeling energetic and awake rather than bloated and tired is a win, even if you haven't lost an ounce.   Write them down daily in a success log.  Americans have a tendency to ignore everything but who comes in first and this leaves us with a very distorted view of success.  Coming in second is still winning.  So is even making the playoffs.
  2. Remind yourself several times a day of all the good things about what you are doing now.  If you don't know what they are, write them down.  Notice them.
  3. Look at your goals daily.  Remind yourself on a daily basis of what you ultimately hope to achieve.  Not the money or the job, but what that money, job or client will get you. 
  4. Set daily, weekly and monthly short term intermediate goals.   Breaking things down helps you recognize your progress.
  5. Reward yourself when you complete difficult tasks and reach intermediate goals.  The big reward at the end is great, but the little rewards along the way are important too.

I'd love to hear what you come up with.  What keeps you going?

 

"There is Nothing Either Good or Bad but Thinking Makes It So" - Shakespeare

About 3 weeks ago, my mother was sent to the emergency room for a very fast heart rate.  She had gone to the doctor because she had been running a low fever and was feeling kind of lousy,  expecting to go home with a prescription for antibiotic and cough medicine.   Her pulse was very rapid, so her doctor did an EKG.  He was concerned about what he saw and sent her to the emergency room.

I certainly wasn't expecting to get a call from my mom at dinnertime saying she was in the emergency room and had been since 3 pm (and that's a whole different conversation).  And I really wasn't expecting to have my mom tell me that they had found a very large aortic aneurysm when I got there about an hour later.   They found it by accident trying to figure out what was causing her heart to race.

My mother was admitted to the hospital that night and the next few days were a bombardments of tests, IV antibiotics and caridiologists.  She was stunned and overwhelmed.    I was confronted with the fact that my parents were getting old and I wasn't really ready for that - and neither were they.  This is another whole separate conversation that I will post about another day.  It was just completely unexpected.  Neither of my parents have ever really been sick with anything more than a cold or sinus infection since I was a baby.  It's usually me on the short end of that stick.

We had to learn very quickly what an aortic aneurysm was in detail and what the risks were of having an aortic aneurism.  It's very serious.  They usually don't show up and don't have any symptoms.  Either you find out by accident, like my mom did, or you keel over dead very quickly when it ruptures.  There isn't time to get to the hospital or get into surgery.  

If they find the aortic aneurism before it ruptures, the treatment is open heart surgery to replace the part of the aorta that has weakened.   There are no long term consequences if the surgery goes well and there are no complications. 

My mother had open heart surgery a little less than a week after she was admitted, after they treated her for the infection that was the original cause of the visit to the doctor.  The surgery was successful and she's now at home and recovering.   There's a very good chance that she'll live for a very long time now.  

The misfortune of having to go to the hospital for an infection saved my mother's life and may save her brother's, her children's and grandchildren's lives as well, including mine.  It's very likely that she would have died in the next few years if they hadn't found the aneurysm.  Her misfortune was very good fortune indeed.

They don't know what causes aortic aneurysms.   It may be all or partially genetic.  Knowing that we are at risk allows us the choice of being tested for it.  

It's your choice how you view the events and conditions in your life.  Things that initially seem bad, such as my mother being in the hospital, often turn out to have wonderful opportunities or good luck.  It's just a question of seeing it the right way.

What will turn out to be the wonderful opportunities or good luck in your life?   It's worth looking.

Just Say "No"

One of the things that my clients have to working is learning to say “no” and to really focus on what will bring them the best return on investment for their time and dollars, both of which are extremely limited for most professionals. C.J. Hayden has just published an excellent article on this topic that I highly recommend. You can find it at http://www.getclientsnow.com/just-say-no.htm.

Beyond The Basics: Relationship Building Skills – BBCC Professional Edge Unplugged April 7, 2010 Highlights

Lori Williams and I co-presented “Beyond The Basics: Relationship Building Skills” at the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce Professional Edge Unplugged on April 7, 2010 to a full room. The discussion was exciting and it was wonderful to see how many potential business collaborators were sitting in the room and realized it as we progressed through the program. We covered branding, referral partners and strategic alliances. I will be presenting some of the relevant concepts in future blogs. The Greek Isles Coney Island was a great location and the Chamber did a phenomenal job of promoting the event. Lori and I were thrilled to be able to provide value to chamber members and help them develop and grow. Many of the members made connections that will be very valuable in their future business that day.

Barbi Krass of Colorworks Studio, one of the attendees, had this to say about the presentation:

”Lori, Elisabeth, I thoroughly enjoyed your workshop this morning. The presentation was very helpful in sorting out bottom lines for us all and the information was delivered in a way we could certainly relate to.“ 

Elisabeth Garbeil and Lori Williams, Co-presentors at BBCC Professional Edge Unplugged, April 7, 2010

WAIT - Why Am I Talking?

I recently did a half-day communications workshop for the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Greater Detroit Chapter.   When I asked the question, what value did you get out of today - WAIT was high on the list.

WAIT stands for "Why Am I Talking?"  It's a reminder to, basically, shut up and listen.  Really listen.

We all have a tendency to be thinking of what we're going to say next when the other person is talking, instead of trying to understand their point of view and their concerns.  It's easy to understand how this can get you into trouble.

The really bad part is not only do we do that to other people, we do it to ourselves.  We don't shut up long enough to really hear what's going on inside our minds.  We're thinking instead of all the things we have to do, all the things that could go wrong, what's for dinner, what's going on this weekend, etc. etc.

What we really all need to do is take some time on a regular basis and WAIT.  Shut up and listen to what's really important with ourselves.   We need to really understand where we're coming from and our own point of view. We owe as much courtesy to ourselves as we owe to others.   And in order to be able to really listen to others, we need to be able to listen to ourselves.

Practice this for a week or two, and you will be really surprised at what you may find out.  Dreams that you had all but forgotten.  Things that you thought were important really aren't, and visa versa.  You may have been drowning out your hopes and desires for a long time.

So, this week - WAIT and let me know what you hear.

"Effective Strategies to Improve Your Law Firm's Bottom Line" Seminar a Success

I emcee'd the "Effective Strategies to Improve Your Law Firm's Bottom Line" seminar at Automation Alley on January 28, 2010.  The seminar was a resounding success, with great attendance, great speakers and a good location.

Although the seminar focused on attorneys,  most of the content could just as easily apply to CPA's, financial advisors, coaches and consultants.  I highly recommend checking out the individual speakers and presentations.  I've included links below for your convenience.

Speakers and EmCee for "Effective Strategies to Improve Your Firm's Bottom Line" Seminar 

Speakers and EmCee for "Effective Strategies to Improve Your Firm's Bottom Line" Seminar

The speakers were (from left to right) David Benjamin, Lori Williams, Jason Ryan and Timothy Flynn. Lori Williams, of Your Legal Resource, spoke on creating effective referral partners and strategic partners for your practice.  Jason Ryan, of Vision Fuel Media, spoke on how to improve your firm's website so that it gets you more business.   David Benjamin spoke on how to use social media.  You will find his presentation about 2/3 of the way down the page on his website, entitled  "My presentation at Automation Alley: 5 Social Media Tools your Law Firm Can’t Ignore."   Timothy Flynn, of Clarkson Legal, presented a lawyer's perspective on electronic marketing and social media for the law firm.   You can find these presentations on Ustream as well.

Check it out.  It's worth the time.

Easy One Page Business Plan

Here's a quick and easy one page business plan format that you can use to set or update your company direction, focus and goals for 2010.  This is a great plan for small companies who don't typically have time or money to do detailed planning.  It also works well for individual career planning. Mission:

What is your purpose?  Why are you in business?  Why do you do what you do?  2 - 3 Sentences

Vision:

How does your purpose translate into concrete terms?  Paint a picture.   2 - 3 Sentences.

Objectives:

What by when?  What do you need to do this year to move your vision forward?

Strategies:

What overall approaches will you take to reach your objectives this year?

Plans:

The actual steps that you will take to reach your objectives.  Note that these may often be project that require plans in and of themselves.

Go ahead, schedule an hour and see what you come up with.   Keep refining your business plan until it meets your needs.  Then prepare to update it quarterly.  Business plans are useless unless they are looked at and measured. Post what you come up with, and see what others have done.  If you get stuck, call me.  I am offering  a free coaching session to everyone for January. Next week we'll talk about how to measure performance against your plans.

Are You Ready for 2010?

Have you reviewed and completed 2009 yet?& Or have you just let the year end without checking in on how you've done? Here are some great questions to ask yourself about 2009:

1. What did you accomplish in 2009?

2. What did you learn in 2009?

3. What is finished?

4. What is left to be done?

5. What will you take with you into 2010?

Once you complete this review, you will be in great shape to start 2010. You can think about what you want to do and create some solid goals and plans for achieving them. Next week, we'll talk about business planning for 2010. Once you review 2009, be thinking about where you want to be at the end of 2010. Happy New Year!!

Time Management, Part 2

Since we're now in the silly season, it seems very appropriate that I focus on the one thing that seems to be a major challenge in the holiday season - time management.  I mentioned some basics in the last post.  In this post, I want to really emphasize what's important.  As in knowing what's important to you is absolutely critical to managing your time.

Have you noticed when you or someone you know is dealing with a crisis, major illness or emergency - things seem to get done quickly and with amazing clarity.  All of a sudden, time is an absolutely precious commodity and it must be spent on only the most important and critical of things.  It becomes very easy to prioritize your time at that point because the consequences are dire and immediate.

It's when we lose that sense of urgency and go back to the everyday that we start being unable to manage our time and priorities get lost or  mixed up in the moment.

What if you could manage your time as if you were critically ill or in crisis without the crisis?   What would be different if you were aware of how valuable your time was every moment and spent it accordingly?  Would you work out every day?  Eat right?  Not watch so much TV?

We all tend to get lost in the moment at work, at home or when managing our businesses.   If you can keep what's really important to you present at all times, you will be able to gain a great deal of productivity and effectiveness - not to mention seriously lowering your stress level.

Your assignment this week is to really lay out the top 5 (no more) most important things in your business and life in writing.  Evaluate every hour you spend your time based on that list - and see how it goes.

Time Management 101

Here's a good starting point on time management:

  1. Know what you're goals are.  It's very difficult to prioritize your time  when you don't know what you want.
  2. Make a list of everything you want to get done.  This is your master to-do list
  3. On a daily basis, identify 4 - 6 things that you can do either in the morning or the night before to move you towards your goals.  Do or schedule those things first, before doing anything else in your day.  Don't try and do more than 6 things in a day.  That will just set you up for failure and frustration. We all have a limited amount of time.  The key is to be as effective as you can with the time you do have.
  4. Review your master list on a regular basis (weekly or monthly).   Delegate anything you can to others and  dump tasks you don't really need to do.  Add any new tasks that came up during the week or month.
  5. Learn to say no to things that won't move you ahead in your goals.
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