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  • Aspire » Inspire

    21 Jul

    Macy skiing

    The most memorable lessons in perseverance and persistence are not stories from history books but from the events that play out in our lives.   I got a great reminder of that on July 13, 2014.

    At 6,500’ elevation, the lake water in Montana rarely gets above 70 degrees on the surface.   On this mid-July Sunday, the air temperatures had climbed into the low 80’s but the lake water was still in the upper 60’s.   We were spending time with some family and enjoying an afternoon on the lake about an hour north of Butte, MT.  The biggest activity on the water was getting your turn on a Jet Ski, which is always a great time.    Except for the kids playing in the warmer water along the shore most of us were dry.

    A few hours into our day two of my brother-in-laws decided they wanted to show off their skiing abilities.  Both of them are natives of the Big Sky Country, so honestly they are more accustomed to the colder water temperatures of a high elevation lake.   The two of them proceeded to take their turns putting on a show carving back and forth on the water.    After they had worn out their legs the unavoidable “OK, Who’s Next?” question was tossed out to the group.

    Unexpectedly and without much hesitation, my daughter who is just shy of her 12th birthday announces she wants to give it a try.   I think her Dad was surprised as much as anyone!  So in a matter of minutes one of her uncles was fitting her into a set of skis and she was getting ready to put all her effort into marking another item off the bucket list of her life.

    My daughter is small for her age and the skis were for an adult so she was having a rough time holding the tips up, but her patient uncle was giving her words of encouragement and she was doing her best to follow his advice.   In a couple minutes the rope was snug and she was ready to go.

    Lesson #1:  Know when to let go

    In business we often witness businesses holding on to something that simply isn’t working.  A program, a product, an employee,  a bad customer.   Sound familiar?  They don’t really know why when you ask them what they’re doing…they just won’t let go.   For my daughter she learned that lesson on her first attempt.  When the roped tightened, her weight over shifted forward and she was pulled out of the skis.  And as first timers often do she kept a firm grip on the rope and was plowing the water with her body for a brief second or two before letting go.

    Lesson #2: Stay positive, access the situation, and make adjustments

    A little startled from the jolt and with the realization the water away from the shore is lot colder, her uncle turned coach proceeded to give her a few more pointers on where to keep her weight, how to hold the skis and her arms and so on.   Back along the shore we were yelling out of words of encouragement and her determination was building.  On the second attempt, she again lost her balance and the orange skier down flag went up.  But, there was progress and Lesson #1 was definitely mastered, she knew when to let go. :-)

    Lesson #3:  Persistence does pay off  (or 3rd times a charm!)

    By this time the cameras were rolling and a fan base along the shore had grown to include a larger group – more than just friends and family.   You could sense if she tried it again, she just might pop up out of the water. When the skis had been reattached to her feet, her ski instructor uncle gave her some additional words of encouragement and she was once again ready to give it a try.   This time the rope tightened, the tips stayed up, and within a second or two she was officially water skiing!   The shore erupted in celebration and my daughter, Macy had taken her maiden voyage on a pair a skis.

    With a solid initial run in the bag, the adrenaline rush started to wear off, and she realized the water wasn’t getting any warmer the further out they went from the shore.  So for this day, her water skiing was over.   But she had done it.   And although, the length of time and style points may have been more in line with the Wright Brothers first airplane flight, she was now a water skier and I was one proud dad!  Way to go Macy!  Persistence does pay off!

    If you have times in your life where persistence has paid off we would love to hear about them.   Also, we hope this reminds you to step away from your work a little bit this summer and recharge your batteries with some time with family and friends.

    Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach

    14 Jul

    Sharing their lives with each other

    As I write this, I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to work out my schedule for the next few weeks and get everything done.

    We’re going on vacation – and this summer for the first time in a very long time, we’re planning on taking 2 full weeks (According to Joe Robinson, only 14% of Americans take more than 1 week of vacation at a time and only 38% use the vacation they have coming to them…so I guess we’re in the fortunate minority).

    We’ve always been good about taking time off, but it can be really difficult to find the way to make 2 full weeks work.  This year we decided to go all in…our kids are getting older and we decided it we wouldn’t have too many chances left to take a big trip like this.

    I’m excited to go but it is challenging to figure out how to make it work…and I have the advantage of working for myself and having complete control over my calendar.  (Of course the downside to that is that I technically don’t ‘get’ any vacation time…if I’m not working, I’m not getting paid).  I’m saying ‘no’ to more than a few things, I’m cutting back or deferring on some income opportunities and I’m really scrambling the last couple of weeks before I go (and probably the week after I get back) to make everything work.

    But it’s totally going to be worth it.

    Not only is this going to be a great chance to spend time with my family but it’s going to really help me clear my head and ultimately make me a more creative leader. We will be gone for 2 weeks and we’re not going to be checking email or doing any work while we’re away…which again puts us in the minority - in 2013, 61% of U.S. vacationers planned on doing work while they were on vacation!

    Here’s my question to you:

    Are you and  your employees taking a real vacation this summer?

    It doesn’t have to be 2 weeks at once, but it should at least be a pretty big chunk of days – and here’s why:

    1. You’ll feel better.

    Literally stress can kill you and if you don’t take real time off, it’s really difficult to alleviate that stress.

    2. You’ll be more productive.

    In fact you could be a lot more productive. GoHealthInsurance.com recently switched to an UNLIMITED vacation policy and saw productivity go up by 200%, Hubspot switched to a similar policy a couple of years ago and saw a significant spike in productivity as well.

    Plus you just need the ‘white space’ in your life. Your ability to dream, create, come up with new ideas is 100% dependent on being able to stop thinking about all the fires and day to day issues.

    3. Your business will operate more effectively.

    Small businesses, by design and by necessity, tend to have a handful of ‘key’ employees (including the owner) who are the only people capable of doing the ‘critical business functions’. When those people go on vacation, someone else has to figure out how to get that work done.  And if you’re arguing that this is exactly why you discourage vacations, you’re making a huge mistake – what are you going to do when that person quits…or you get sick…at least with a planned vacation it’s only temporary and you’ll have time to figure out what’s needed and train for the right kinds of back up.

    If it helps – think of your time off as a trial period to see how things really run without you. If you can successfully take 4 days off, then maybe next time you can shoot for a full week…or 10 days.  But unless you push the envelope and make it happen, you’re going to stay trapped by your business.

    A very large percentage of business owners won’t take vacation…or they’ll squeeze in a day or two here or there but not really get away.  If that’s you – ask yourself what it would take to take a real vacation. You deserve one…and it will be good for you, both personally and professionally.

    What do you think about getting away for vacations?  When’s the last good one that you took? Where you’d go? Was your business still standing when you came back? We’d love to hear about – leave us a comment below.

    Shawn Kinkade   Kansas City Business Coach

    26 May

     

    Picture from Beverly via Flickr

    Picture from Beverly via Flickr

    If you follow politics or watch the news much at all, it feels like many things are wrong with our great country…and there are indeed a lot of challenges in front of us all right now.

    However Henry Ford said it well many years ago:

    “What’s right about America is that although we have a mess of problems, we have great capacity – intellect and resources – to do something about them.”

    On this Memorial Day, remember our brave women and men in the service for their sacrifices and support our collective creative, entrepreneurial spirit because that’s what’s going to lead us to a better future.

    Do you have a favorite quote on the Memorial Day?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

    Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach

    07 Apr

    attitude-goals

    I’ve had this little square manmade resin stone with 4 words engraved on it on my desk for years.  I don’t even remember where it came from (sorry honey, if it was from you!).  Each of the four words has an accompanying quote.  It gets rotated regularly but at least one word is always in clear view.  The words and the quotes have always impacted me and they have provided a little nudge from time to time so it seemed appropriate to share them and maybe they will do the same for you.

     Attitude

    “Nothing in this world is impossible to a willing heart”

    This word is my favorite as I know of no other trait more important when looking for quality people than hiring great attitudes.   They are hard to manufacture. You can usually train an inexperienced person on a skill, but when it comes to attitude, building a team with positive, optimistic attitudes is one of the best recipes there is for building an environment full or energy and it sets the stage for these next three words to go to work in your business and life.  It is important to note that in a poor environment great attitudes can be spoiled so they are something that needs to be fostered.

    Goals

    “Keep your head and your heart in the right direction and you’ll never have to worry about your feet”

     We spend a lot of time talking about the significance of having goals.   But the difference between those who succeed and those who fail often has very little to do with levels of education, plaques on wall, or the type of business they own.   More often than not the people who consistently are high performers in their careers are people who take the time to write their goals down and clearly state when and what they are going to do.  They review them regular and track their progress.  They are not just goals, they are SMART goals.

    Belief

    “If you do not believe in yourself….chances are nobody else will”

    If you own a business and don’t believe in what you are doing your chances for long term success are virtually nonexistent.   And for you to believe in what you are doing, it starts with believing in yourself.  Self-limiting beliefs is one of biggest obstacles there is in preventing the implementation of new game changing ideas.  And when you don’t believe in yourself, your employees will sense it and your customers will smell it a mile away.   Believe in yourself.  Believe in your business.  Believe in your employees and coworkers and your customers will believe in you.

    Desire

    “The distance between success and failure can only be measured by one’s desire”

    How is it that two companies providing the exact same product or service in the exact same economy can have two completely different outcomes in terms of success?  I am not just talking about financial success, ultimately if you’re a for profit company that has to be in the net result.  But, also the desire for your business to stand for something, to make a difference by positively impacting your community, your region, or maybe the world.  Think about Zappos or TOMS shoes.  What’s their desire?  Is it really about selling shoes?  Or are the shoes just used as the vehicle to deliver what their real desire is?    What do you really desire?  If your desire is high, chances are success will be the byproduct.

    That’s it.  Attitude-Goals-Belief-Desire.  4 words and quotes on a small square block.  Maybe you have something similar?  What do you use to give yourself a nudge when you need it?   As always feel free to share your thoughts in the space below.

    Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach

    31 Mar

    Big Idea Book

    A great book can take you places…and a great business book can inspire some amazing things. I’ve personally always been a big fan of reading (which is why I enjoy doing the Business Book Reviews we do every month). To me books are almost magical – repositories of wisdom and inspiration that are just out there waiting to be found.

    Reading a lot when I was young was a big reason for my success in school and as I’ve gotten older it’s clear that continuous learning is a huge part of what it takes to be successful (not just my opinion – see HBR’s For those who want to lead, read). When I’m feeling stuck, I look for a book that might help me. If I know I’m not up to speed on a topic, I’ll add in a few of the right books to my upcoming reading list. And if I’m looking for inspiration…I start with great books.

    Here are just a few big ideas from some great business books – hopefully at least one of them will inspire you and help you:

    1. Your job is to work ON your business: The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

    Michael Gerber wrote the E-Myth back in the 80′s but the central ideas are still extremely relevant today and he absolutely nails the challenge and frustration that most entrepreneurs and business owners have in the first few years of running their business.  Most business owners started their business because they’re really good at what they do – but creating a successful business that’s scalable requires a lot more than technical expertise, it requires you to purposely build the business as if someone else was going to own it and run it. As long as you are implicit in the day to day operations, you don’t have a business…you have a job.

    Does your business own you?  When’s the last time you took a long vacation and didn’t deal with work?

     

    2.  People don’t buy what you do but WHY you do it:  Start with Why by Simon Sinek

    This particular idea is a little deeper philosophically than the others.

    The-Golden-Circle

    If I’m in the market for a great widget, then I’m going to buy the best widget I can find that fits my price range – pretty straightforward and doesn’t seem to have anything to do with having a purpose, a cause…or a WHY.  But it turns out that if you are going to make a great widget (or offer a great service), then the bigger picture of WHY becomes really important. It becomes the difference between Southwest Airlines and the short lived TED airlines from United.  They had the same basic business model, but TED was built to compete with Southwest and Southwest was built to bring fun, cost effective flights to the masses and that made all in the difference in terms of the product / service they created. See the difference?

    What do you stand for and is it represented in what you sell and do?

     

    3. You MUST have the RIGHT people on the bus:  Good to Great by Jim Collins

    It’s pretty difficult to only pull 1 great idea from a Jim Collins book, but getting the right people on the bus is the one that stands out to me. Based on a lot of research into how companies succeed, Collins and his team uncovered a clear pattern that having the right people on your team is a lot more important than having a clear destination. The right team are people who share your values…the ones who get what the company is all about (see Start with Why above) and will go the extra mile to make things work.

    Another way to look at this that might be a little more actionable:  If you have the WRONG people on your team, they are killing your business and it’s going to be very difficult to succeed in the long run.

    When’s the last time you looked at your people and asked if they were really the right ones for you?

     

    4. Planning should be simple and focused:  Traction by Gino Wickman

    This is another book that has several great ‘big’ ideas, but the one that I come back to over and over again is the importance of having a simple, focused planning process and developing a business plan that gets used every 90 days.  Most people will shudder when you talk about business planning…and for good reason.  They’ve been taught that a business plan is this big, complex document that gets created when you first start your business and then sits on a shelf collecting dust from that point on. Traction makes a great case for the need of a SIMPLE business plan (2 pages) that forces the business owner to really focus in on what’s most important…and to use that focus to drive the business, while updating every 90 days.

    Can you (and your employees) quickly list off the 5 most important things you need to accomplish this year?

     

    5.  Focus on creating marketing that is Useful to prospective customers:  Youtility by Jay Baer

    There’s a huge amount of noise in the marketplace today, so if you want to get attention from your prospective customers, you have a choice to try to either be Amazing (think viral videos) or Useful (think free app that helps your clients out). Jay Baer makes a really strong case that focusing your marketing efforts on being useful is clearly the best way to go (check out 5 Examples to get you thinking about better marketing). When you focus on being useful, you establish credibility and you start building trust and relationships – all the things you need to create long lasting clients who aren’t shopping for the best price.

    Look at your most recent marketing efforts? Do they add value? Are they educating anyone?

     

    What books would you recommend?

    There are literally thousands of new business books written every year, so it’s virtually impossible to keep up with all of them…and there are probably at least a couple of good ideas in every book.  What books have had a big impact on you?  What big ideas? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

    Shawn Kinkade   Kansas City Business Coach

    *Note – the book links above are via my Amazon account…if you were to buy a book from that link, I might get a really small amount of money from it…just letting you know.