Elisabeth Garbeil's blog

Art vs. Science

I had a conversation with a referral partner this morning who made a statement that I really enjoyed:  "Billing is an art. You really have to know your clients."  And it's very true.  It' s not so much the billing itself, but how each client will react differently to the same things.   Take the same system, but adjust it to each client and their needs.

One size never fits all when it comes to people - whether they are current clients, perspective clients or you.   The same marketing plan or business plan that works for someone else in your industry won't work the same for you.

The science portion is the base business or marketing plan and  the art is adjusting it so that it fits for you, your clients, your prospective clients and your situation - which can change at any time as well.

The same business or marketing plan that worked for you two years ago may not fit now.   The economy has changed.  You've changed.  Your clients have changed and so have your prospects.   It's always a good idea to review what you're doing and adjust it to the current conditions on a regular basis.  And you have some great places to look right above - you, your clients, prospective clients, the economy, etc.   That's the art of it.  It's not just your business and marketing plans either. This applies to your whole life.

And that's what makes it fun. It's both art AND science.

How Much Networking is Enough?

How much networking is enough to sustain or grow your business at the rate you desire?   This isn't an easy question to answer because it depends on  many things. If you really wanted to, you could go to networking events all the time, day and night.  There are more networking events than there are hours in the day.   But is all that networking really that effective?    The answer is no.  If you have no clear plan, goals or intentions, then any networking will be ineffective.  It will also not do you any good if you go to all these events and then don't follow up in a timely fashion with the people that you meet. So how do you choose networking events to attend?  Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. How good am I at social interaction and relationship building?  This actually matters far less than most people think, but it does matter.  If you hate going to networking events, for example, it won't be effective for you.
  2. Who are my target clients?  (This is a huge topic in and of itself and key to any business.)
  3. What networking events do they go to?  Or where do they hang out?  It may be that the best networking for you isn't a networking event at all.
  4. Who are good referral sources for my target clients?  (Many professions receive most of their clients by referral rather than direct contact.)
  5. What networking events do they go to or where do they hang out?
  6. How many networking events can I realistically attend per week and still get the actual work and follow-up from the event done.  If you don't know how long on average it takes you to follow up after an event,  try 2 hours for every networking event and track it from there.  It's likely to be much higher than 2 hours.

The next question is a big one  -

How few networking events can I go to and still maintain or grow my business?     The fewer events you can attend and still achieve your goals, the more you can focus on actually earning the money - whether it is you yourself doing client development or a team of salespeople.

So how much networking do you do?

The Power of Choice

The most liberating and powerful thing about being human is that we have the power to change.  We aren't locked into the automatic responses to life that we developed as children.

Most of us didn't grow up in a perfect environment where we got everything we needed to be successful, healthy self-reliant adults.  If we were lucky, we got most of what we needed and parents that weren't perfect, made mistakes, but tried their best.  If we weren't lucky, there's all sorts of not so wonderful possibilities.

Most of us fall in the middle ground.  We got what we needed in some areas, but not others.  The challenge is to see what we didn't get as a starting point, not a wall.   We can choose something different than what we started with.

For me it's not just letting things go when issues come up in relationships.  That's what I learned in my family growing up - that was the family dynamic.  Instead, I'm choosing to try and work through the issues constructively.  (Note the word constructively :-)  )

It's hard and unpleasant, but the chances of a better relationship are much higher than if I just pretend everything is okay and nothing happened.   My marriage and my communication skills in business are much stronger for choosing this route.

How about you?  How will you choose differently now?

Cultivate an Attitude of Success

What comes first - the chicken or the egg?  It's the same thing with success.  Being successful or having a success mindset?  I'd say that having a success mindset comes before any outward evidence of success. It is the attitude that creates the success.

Think about it like dating - who would you rather go out with?  The happy, fun person who goes out all the time or the person who hasn't had a date in years.

Relate that to selling - who would you rather buy from?  The person who wears a tailored suit or nice clothes and is upbeat and outgoing or the person who is dressed in dirty jeans and complains.  Your attitude shows up as soon as you do - before you even open your mouth.

It's not something you can fake - it has to be genuine.  People will see right through it if you try and fake it, and you will be worse off than you were before.

So how will you cultivate an attitude of success today?

Well-Being - Your Capacity to Produce

I had a very pointed reminder this week of how vital it is to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. I've been running full-tilt, not paying attention to my needs for a while now.  This is something pretty common with a lot of people.  We often take better care of our cars than ourselves.

I, like a lot of people, equate more with better when it comes to work. For example, if your business isn't producing the results you want, then do more. I know better. I have years of experience insisting on solving the problem instead of throwing money or people at it. And yet I still fell into the same old trap. It's an easy thing to do, especially being Type A and working for myself. And the predictable happened. I woke up Friday morning with a nasty case of laryngitis.

For most folks this wouldn't be the end of the world, but for me, everything stops dead. Without my voice, I can't make a living.  I had to cancel a speaking engagement and several other things.  NOT good.

Stephen Covey refers to this as the "P/PC Balance."  In a nutshell, it's the balance of what you produce and your capacity to produce.  It is the very definition of effectiveness.  I literally killed the goose that produced the golden egg,  my voice. For me, another example is the shoemaker's children.  Well-being, the capacity to produce, is the one of the major things I watch for with my clients and yet completely neglected in myself.

My first priority now is to restore that balance by eating right, exercising and taking time off for myself.   I was lucky,  it wasn't anything really serious or debilitating.  Just a minor warning.

How about you?  Are you taking care of your well-being?  Or are you ignoring the signs that you need to take better care of yourself?

The Golden Rule of Communicating

Every time we talk to someone, we are training them how to talk to us.  It goes back to the Golden Rule - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.   Think of this as the Golden Rule of Communications.  - Communicate to others what your expectations are.

Think of all the people you've talked to over the past few weeks.  What have they communicated to you.  Look for the underlying message whenever you talk to someone - what are the tone of their voice, their facial expressions, body language and speech patterns telling you?  Usually the words are the least important part of the message.

Now pay attention to your own communications.  If you were a complete stranger, how would you receive the messages you're sending?  Even better ask 5 people this week  what their experience is of you.

Does it match the experience you want them to have?  Are your words consistent with your body language and tone?  It isn't very effective to ask for a sale when your tone of voice says don't buy from me, I'm a lousy salesperson.  It's time to take responsibility for the message you send people.

How can you be more effective at communicating your intentions this week?

Commitments - An exercise

Here's a good exercise to help you focus on aligning your life with your goals and aspirations.

  1. List your top 5 commitments in life.  An example would be 1 - self-care, 2 - spouse, 3 - work, 4 - family, 5 - friends.
  2. Now track where you spend your time for a full week?
  3. Does your time reflect your commitments?  If someone else looked at how you spend your time, what would they say you were committed to?

For most of us it won't.  For example when I look at actual time spent over the last week, it would look like I was committed to eating lots of carbohydrates, or being exhausted and fussy.

Now here's the big step - 4.  What actions will you take on in the next week to align your life with your commitments?

Respond here and let us know.

I won't be eating bread for the next week.  Pretty cool that it's Passover anyway.

Justice

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind" -- Mahatma Gandhi

This is one of my favorite quotes.  It really speaks to the trap that most of the world seems to be in today.  They do it to you, so you do it back.  It's very easy to understand the emotions involved.  If someone killed or hurt my family, I'd want to hurt them back - hard.  And I'd want to do it personally.  It might give me  justice and short-term satisfaction, but it certainly would not lead anywhere but down.  It wouldn't bring back my family, restore the pain in my soul or heal my grief.

And on a much less political scale, this quote speaks to the the pendulum swing the economy is in.  Many, many people made millions in the booms of the last 20 years, and many millions of people are now suffering as a result of that.  Punishing a few individuals won't fix the holes in the regulatory system that allowed it to happen, nor will it restore jobs or homes to the people that have lost them.

Looking forward and asking what do we want are much more likely to produce results and healing  than justice.   We set high store by justice and fairness, but all they do is make sure everyone suffers.  Ask yourself what you really want to create the next time you want to give someone what they have coming.  Evaluate the people you elect on the basis of what they will create, not what they are against.   The more we stop worrying about concepts like fairness and justice, the better the world will be.  Justice can only destroy, not build.

It isn't easy to set that anger aside and think about the future,  but it's in your best interest and everyone else's too.  Asking yourself  "What is my intention here?" or "What do I want to create?"  produces results.  In a business situation, asking what you want instead of what is fair is far more effective.

So what do you want to create?

Stuck

Do you feel unappreciated or unrecognized for the job you do?  Do you have more responsibility without the title and compensation to go with it?  Do you feel like there's no communication at your company?    Feel like you're at a dead-end?  And things are not going to get any better at the company you're at, but you're afraid of ending up in exactly the same situation if you change jobs?  Are you really frustrated, stressed out and angry?  And no one can help you?

If you feel this way, you're probably right.  No one can help you.  You built the box you're in, and only you can get yourself out of it.  The only way out is to realize that the box isn't really there.   You created it the minute you started looking for something to blame and being right was more important than anything else.

The great news is that there is a way out - and there is help.  The minute you accept responsibility for creating your experience, the box will disappear.  You will see that you have options and choices about what you do and lots of people to available to support you in whatever you choose.   Your options may be developing the skills you need to thrive in the new environment, evaluating the situation against your values and priorities and choosing something different,  just being happy and unstressed by the situation -  and so on.  The options are endless once you choose to be responsible for your experience. You have reclaimed your power and are now unstuck.

Choose to be responsible!

Is Coaching For You?

Coaching is not for everyone.   Many people are perfectly happy with the status quo and the way their lives are going.   They are not interested in change or transformation.   And there's nothing wrong with that.  A woman I talked to today expressed exactly that point.   She said she was really happy where she was.   Why change in that case?

Does this describe you though?  Are you truly happy at your job?  Your career?  Where you're going to be in 5 years?  Do you wish to do something else?  Or are you stuck in your job because you don't see any alternatives?  Want to move to the next level in your career but don't know what's holding you back?  Or do you know but don't know what to do about it?

Coaching can help you move to the next level in your career or life.  It can help you achieve far more than you could on your own.  "As a result of professional coaching, clients set better goals, take more action, make better decisions, and more fully use their natural strengths."  (from the ICF)

Coaching is a big commitment though.  It's a commitment to yourself in achieving your goals.  Are you willing to make the commitment and do the work?   A coach can help you get there, but you still have to put the effort in and do the work on yourself.

Are you really happy where you are or are you interested in changing your life?

For more information on coaching, check out the International Coach Federation (ICF) website at http://www.coachfederation.org/find-a-coach/what-is-coaching/ .

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