“How Do You Even Get Out of the Door In the Morning?”

BlueEyedBaby

 

“How do you even get out of the door in the morning?”

As I return from maternity leave for the fourth time in six years I hear that question, a lot. I asked myself that very question six years ago as I was coming back for the first time. I remember being very overwhelmed and frequently forgetting the things I needed for the day. Important things like my lunch or parts to my breast pump. I was lucky at that time because I had home childcare and I didn’t have to take my daughter anywhere.

Fast forward six years and now I have to get myself out the door along with three of the four kids. Fortunately I have gotten better at it. The only way I’ve been able to do that is by being super organized and having a plan.

A few things I have found helpful:

  • If you’re a nursing mom and going to be pumping at work, invest in a second set of flanges and extra bottles to keep at the office. And if you’re able to swing it, get a second pump. Not having to remember the equipment everyday makes it a lot easier to get everybody & everything out to the car.
  • Pack your lunch for the week. On Monday I bring stuff to make my breakfast & lunch for the entire week. Also bring some healthy snacks.
  • Keep an extra change of clothes and shoes in your car. You never know what may happen between the door & the office when kids are involved. It helps to know if someone has an accident and it involves your work clothes, you don’t have to go all the way back home to change.
  • Get everything ready for the kids the night before. We have a kid’s corner where coats, shoes and backpacks are kept. The backpacks are cleared out and refilled in the evening. The coats and shoes are kept together. Nothing runs you behind like searching for a missing shoe.
  • Have a list of everything you need for the day hanging on the door you exit. Do a final quick check before you head out the door.

There will be days where things don’t run smoothly. Someone will spill breakfast on their outfit; there will be a missing shoe or nap time animal. Accepting that things don’t always run smoothly makes it less of a tragedy when it does happen. Take a deep breath, and remind yourself it will get easier.

Contributed by Jodie Hook. 

Mirror Neurons, Glossophobia and A Thousand Paper Cuts

Spotlight

You are standing up on a stage bathed in the blue-white light of a spotlight. You know there is a crowd before you, but you can’t see past the very stage you stand on. Tremors buzz through your chest that turn your stomach into a hollow knot. The feeling works its way to your limbs as your heart begins to race and your mouth goes dry. You try not to breathe too hard, but surely they can see you practically panting up here. Your hands begin to tremble as you take hold of the microphone. You begin your speech, praying that this time your voice doesn't shake.

Good grief – I’m stressed out just reading that. Glossophobia: the fear of public speaking. 74% of Americans in 2013 suffered from speech anxiety. Interestingly, the feelings we create for ourselves in public speech situations do not really change even when presented with a similar smaller-scale situation. I recently spoke with a friend who said she panics when speaking in front of a handful of her colleagues at regular meetings. It doesn’t matter if we’re standing up to give a presentation in front of 5 people or 500 – we still feel the glare of that spotlight.

I realize public speaking for most may be akin to death by a thousand paper cuts: slow and painful. You may never be a world champion Toastmaster, but you can still be an effective and engaging speaker. There are a few things I’ve learned over time that have helped me with addressing a room full of people: boost your confidence – talk yourself up before you begin. No one can do a better job than you right now. There is always someone in your audience who is a worse speaker than you are. Just strive to be better than them. Regardless if it’s true, the confidence you give yourself will make all the difference in your presentation.

Be mindful of your body. How we move says more than our words ever could. Video tape yourself – even just the first couple minutes of your speech. You’ll be critical of yourself, but be sure not to overdo it. Just identify the nervous habits that are distracting, and change them. We all have mirror neurons in our brain which help us to mirror how another person is feeling. If you are passionate about what you are talking about, even if I typically don’t care, at that moment I’m engaged and passionate with you. If you are nervous, I am just as uncomfortable as you are.

So the next time you sit down with a potential client, a roomful of co workers, or the whole world, sit up straight with your shoulders back, raise your chin and smile. You are a fabulous speaker, if only for the moment.

Contributed by Ashley Hudson.

Ashley

What Can We Learn About Advertising From March Madness?

MarchMadness

This time of year much of the programming on television is dedicated to March Madness.  For about six weeks in March and April the content of hundreds of college basketball games fill the schedules of multiple networks.

If you are watching many of these games surely you noticed there are a ton of advertisements.  In a college game there are a minimum of eight television timeouts, in addition to the five timeouts each team has available to them in every game.  Because of all these timeouts it’s no doubt that you could easily name more than five brands that are continuously being promoted during all these breaks.  Obviously there is a lot of value to putting those brands in March Madness to make sure you recognize them.

March Madness is an event.  That event is what brings the viewers, which brings the advertisers.  It’s the event that makes it extraordinarily easy for the advertisers to get the most viewers in the smallest amount of time and space.

Unlike a handful of advertisers, the vast majority of businesses can’t afford the prices charged for advertising during an event such as March Madness.  If your business can’t afford those prices, does that mean you are out of luck, or should you create your own “event” instead?

Actually, neither.

Fortunately, your business can benefit from built-in “events” throughout the year that don’t have outrageous advertising rates attached to them.  One such “event” has to do with the change of seasons throughout the year.

Take advantage of the change of the seasons.  Consumers almost instinctively adjust their buying habits on a seasonal basis.  Consumers are active during seasonal changes and you can make money from this by asking for their business at these specific times.  One of the biggest benefits of the change of seasons “event” is that you don’t have to pay a premium to participate.  There’s no extra fee or producer of the event to charge outrageous advertising fees.  Get active promotionally during these times and adjust your offerings according to the seasons.  Even if you don’t have a seasonal product or service, it doesn’t matter.  You can always adjust pricing or add-ons in order to make your offerings more attractive and valuable to consumers when they might not have otherwise been thinking of you.

Keep this in mind though, if you don’t get proactive about marketing your products and services at key times of the year, someone else will.  Who do you think would earn that business?

Contributed by Jeff Vice.

Gratitude

Gratitude

As our five-year-old son prepares to enter kindergarten this year, I'm reminded of a classic book highlighting life’s basic principles: All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten.

We're trying to mold his values and character and the more I think about it the more these lessons apply beyond our family life and crossover into our business lives.  What we’re teaching him at 5 is just as applicable at 35, 55, and beyond.

I’ll share a personal story. One of Cole’s household chores is to put away his own laundry. Sometimes this requires some gentle nudging, a lot of repeating, honestly sometimes even raising my voice.  Yesterday, as if it were a miracle he picked up his laundry without being asked and brought it upstairs.  I paused. I placed my hands on his shoulders, looked him right in the eye and said “Do you know how grateful I am for what you've done?” “Done what, mama?”  “Cole you made me so happy - just look at my smile.”  He ran downstairs and said “Dad!  Put away your clothes, it'll make mom really, really happy!” Then he asked for a dollar…Well, not bad. I got close but not quite.

I’m sure you can identify professional scenarios where the same is true.  While a bonus is fun and cash is easy to hand out, public recognition or an unexpected token gift with a note of sincere thanks may have more impact.  I find the simplest gestures are remembered most by our team members.  When you value and encourage gratitude, you’ll soon see the appreciative gestures reciprocated through the ranks until it builds momentum and creates a whole culture of gratefulness and acknowledgement. Recognize outstanding performance and contributions. Remember psychology 101: behavior you want repeated should be rewarded immediately.

Execute the long-standing principle from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People: give honest and genuine appreciation. Take your praise beyond your office walls and share your admiration for your clients, your favorite vendors or service providers.  Don’t wait until the traditional holiday client appreciation gift when they’re inundated with token gifts; thank them often.  Electronic media outlets let us share our thoughts with the world.  When someone goes above and beyond, write meaningful recommendations for them on LinkedIn or Angie’s List.  Your unsolicited endorsement is priceless.

You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.

― Zig Ziglar

 

Contributed by Heather Craaybeek.

The Introvert Bias

Quiet

Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking is one of my favorite public figures. She herself is an introvert, but has found it within herself to speak to the world about the power of introversion and why the world is leaving them behind.

Cain explains that there is a difference between shyness and introverts, yet as a society,  we've come to regard them as one in the same. She says shyness is a fear of judgment and introversion is simply introspective, reflective and quiet.

She goes on to question why we have started emphatically using group work, open office spaces and stimulating environments. Introverts feel most alive, creative and capable in a quiet, less stimulating environment. The ironic part is that up to half of Americans are introverted – so nearly half of the population’s needs are being either ignored, or worse, shamed.

Something I found very interesting that she said was that extroverts get so excited that they put their own stamp on things, and other people’s ideas might not as easily bubble up to the surface. Recently I took a leadership class, and this truth was very self-evident.

As a class, my professor took us out of the classroom and outside, down the stairs and past the parking garage until we had walked a total of about ten or so minutes from the classroom. He stopped us all and started passing out bandanas (to which we gave him very confused looks). He stated we’d have to make it back to the classroom…blindfolded. And we had to do it all together, never letting go of each other. If that wasn’t enough, we had only 5 minutes to make a plan and get ready, then only 1 hour to reach the classroom.

What happened next was interesting. In a room full of leadership students, chaos broke out. Quickly and subconsciously the group broke in two, with the loud students shouting their ideas and the quiet, more introverted speaking quietly amongst themselves and observing the other group. Eventually the decision was made (in well under 5 minutes), and the plan was executed. Was it the best solution? Maybe. Maybe not.

When all was said and done our professor stood before us and recapped what he saw. He told us that while the group was deciding on a solution, the extroverts completely shut out the introverts, who were in fact coming up with the more creative ideas. But because they wouldn’t yell above everyone else, their ideas were never heard. His lesson for us that day was that sometimes a great leader isn’t the one who will yell the loudest, but rather the one who won’t.

Susan Cain did a very entertaining and informative TED Talk , which you can watch below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0KYU2j0TM4

Contributed by Ashley Hudson