Pressured for Promotion

August 16, 2009

I’d like to deviate from the football theme today and just express some thoughts. Thoughts about our journey here on earth, focusing on our journey from pressure to promotion.

I live in Huntington Beach, CA, about a mile from one of the best beaches in the U.S.A. One of my favorite things to do is walk along the beach in the morning or at sunset, taking in the fresh ocean air, watching the surfers bob up and down along the waves, but most of all, I love the sound of the surf. I find it to be just the right place for praying and pondering…you know, just getting a lot of the inside gunk worked out.

Just the Facts Ma’am

I’ve been downsized three times in the past nine years.  I’ve decided I don’t want to go back into the corporate world – the entrepreneurial life is the life for me. Along the way though is pressure…pressure to support myself, pressure to pay for my own medical insurance, pressure to just survive sometimes. Self-bossing is not for the faint-hearted.

I want to share what my journey has taught me, in hopes it will encourage you in whatever pressured place you find yourself in.

1.  Start and end your day with an attitude of gratitude. The first thing I do in the morning is thank God I was granted the privilege of waking up. Some people didn’t even get to do that. Every day I wake up is a gift I’ve been given and I need to value that gift like the priceless treasure it is.

Every meal I eat, however humble, is greeted with a heartfelt prayer of thanksgiving because many people are starving in the world. Sometimes, it’s a matter of living in the moment and thanking God that I’m o.k. that moment.

2. Do SOME kind of exercise every day. Whether it’s walking up and down stairs a few times, through your block or apartment sidewalks, or maybe even doing jumping jacks in your living room, something is better than nothing. It will get the endorphins pumping in your brain and that alone will make you feel better and will also help you sleep better. Making better food choices will help you feel more energized as well.

3. Know that your choices make a difference. Every moment, every circumstance, every personal encounter requires a choice. It has been said that you are the sum of your choices, and when under pressure, the choices you make shape your minutes, hours, days, and ultimately your life. Choose thoughts that fill your brain with hope and happiness.

Ask yourself, “Am I successful in my depression and isolation?”

“Is that thinking helpful?”

As the Bible says, “this day I set before you life and death…choose life.”

If you have a personal relationship with God, you can choose to focus your thoughts on His love and goodness. It’s my power source for trying times as well as good times. As they say in my church, “Why you trippin’ if God’s got yo back?”

4. Choose your friends wisely. I have three close friends who are my greatest supporters and confidants. When I’m in the pit of doubt over ever seeing my goals and aspirations fulfilled, I know who to call. Albeit, three very different perspectives, but three doses of wise counsel. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for these friends…actually, I tell them so. When you’re feeling pressured, reach out and call someone, the RIGHT someone.

5. Kill doubt. How often do you give life to your doubt?  Do you feed it daily with negative thoughts and replaying the same old mental record? Doubt destroys your destiny. It keeps you stuck and stagnant. Don’t kill your dreams with doubt. Are you willing to sacrifice death of your doubt for an abundant, productive life?

Under pressure, we become indestructible – like a diamond – which only becomes a diamond through pressure, heat, and time. Promotion comes  when we’ve allowed the pressure, heat, and time to mold a multi-faceted, impenetrable spirit, abundantly abiding in our own body. Indestructible from the forces that seek to destroy it.

Promotion to a higher level of thinking comes from practicing the five steps above on a daily basis. It’s a process and certainly not an easy one. Take the tender garden of promotion and plant seeds of gratefulness, exercise, productive choices, and wise friends while killing the weeds of doubt to yield a higher mental altitude. What have you got to lose?

Cocky vs Confidence

July 30, 2009

There is a big difference between being cocky and having confidence.

Cocky is bold, brash, and brazen along with sassy and saucy. There is self-confidence well hidden under the behavior but it manifests itself rudely most of the time.

Self-confidence is confidence in oneself and in one’s powers and abilities. It’s being secure and having assurance in oneself. Self-confidence is sexy. Self-confidence is classy.

When we look at many athletes, we only see their cocky side; their swagger, the sly smirks on their faces, revealing arrogance and pride. What we often don’t understand is, that’s just a misguided mask of “real” self-confidence without a place to rest.

What’s more important for an athlete is possessing true confidence; when he knows for certain his abilities and strengths and how to fully utilize them. Every athlete needs an abundance of confidence to rise to the top in his sport.

As entrepreneurs and business people, confidence is absolutely essential to our business success. We need to know who we are, what we are capable of and what talents we have to successfully execute our tasks. Take a few minutes to complete the following exercise:

  • List your three top character traits.
  • Complete the sentence: I never shy away from _________.
  • List your three most valuable strengths.
  • List five life-talents you have (what you’re naturally gifted at).

See…you’re pretty terrific, huh? Stand tall in who you are and what you do best. Focus on those things and more abundance of every kind will flood into your life.

We should still also seek to improve our weak points and develop into a better, more balanced, enriched person. Focusing on our weaknesses though will stall our game and cause us to lose yardage. There I go with football analogies again, but you know what I mean.

Being cocky turns people off. Being confident attracts people to us.

Give confidence a permanent home in your heart and mind today.

Time for a Time-out

July 23, 2009

A time-out in football is a break in the action by either team or an official. It gives both teams a few seconds to gather themselves and strategize their next plan of attack. It can be prompted by the officials to give them time to analyze a play and make a determination. It gives the fans a lull in their adrenaline rushes.

A team can prepare for time-outs by orchestrating plays that gain large chunks of yardage. A team can also conserve their time-outs by simply moving the ball down the field and scoring.

When was the last time you took a time-out to evaluate your business plays and to plan your next system of action? How often do you take time away – a personal retreat – to analyze, strategize, prioritize, and harmonize?

I urge you to take at least one day a month to get away from your desk or workspace to clear your head and re-set your personal business clock. Then, take at least one weekend a year to go somewhere relaxing and have your own personal retreat.

If you have a family to care for, it might just be a day trip. You can prepare for your own time-out by orchestrating client work flow for maximum efficiency and productivity.

Analyze – What’s working and not working in your business? Which marketing efforts are producing the most results? Which efforts are more trouble than they’re worth? Is it time to outsource some mundane tasks to free you up to use your strengths more effectively? Do you need to eliminate some non-productive tasks? Draw a line vertically down the center of a page and make a list of your answers.

Strategize – Make a list of what you want/need to accomplish in the next year. Use strategic planning to map out the most important projects that need to be done to take your business down the field to the next level. Make a list of what you can do to not become intellectually and emotionally stagnant in your business and life.

Prioritize – Write down  three important action steps you want to accomplish tomorrow. Next week. Next Month. Next year. Arrange the list according to priority – what will make the big play for you? Do those first.

Harmonize – List ways you can bring more balance to your life. What can you build into your daily schedule to aid in balancing your work and life? Taking an hour a day to stretch and exercise? Taking 15 minutes to meditate or read something inspirational? Taking 5 minutes to just breathe deeply? We humans are at our best when we have a balanced, harmonized life. After all, we take time to eat and brush our teeth. Make harmony a daily routine.

Instead of putting yourself on a chair in the corner, take a drive away from your workspace to re-focus on what’s important in your business and life. Accept a break in the action.  De-toxify yourself from the daily addiction to adrenaline. You’ll return refreshed, renewed, and revived to take on new challenges with relentless pursuit.

Is it time for a time-out?

Mixing it Up on the Playing Field

July 11, 2009

A basic fact about football is that an 11-inch long ball bounces funny. How does a coaching staff develop a strategy that compensates for an odd-shaped ball that bounces funny? Depends on the coaching staff. Some like to run, some like to pass, some like to mix it up.

Teams that can both run and pass are the most successful. Teams that can play effectively in icy weather as well as scorching weather will have a better chance at victory. Teams who have superb running games in cold weather will most likely dominate, just as teams who play in domes on artificial turf will have an edge with faster players. Of course, it also depends greatly on the talent of the team. Combinations are important: Consider the former combined talent of Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith, Brett Farve and Dorsey Levens, Joe Montana and Roger Craig.

The best way to plan a game strategy is first to know the “personality” of your opponent, both strengths and weaknesses, and then for the offensive line to ask the question: What do we do best, run or pass? After all, those are your only choices to move down the field, no matter what your strategy.

On the business field we must ask ourselves what our strategy is on a daily basis. We need to know as much as possible about our opponent (competition) and how a strong game plan can dominate our arena.

Ask yourself the following questions to analyze your game and make it the best it can be.

What do I do best?

Am I focusing on those things?

Are you reading industry-specific playbooks to further your field knowledge and motivational books to keep you and your team going?

Do you use combined talent with those you partner with?

Do you mix it up on your playing field by choosing a combination of running and passing strategies (creative problem-solving) outside the box?

Do you conduct business on a mundane and predictable basis?

The truth is: Life bounces funny. There’s never just one way to accomplish a task or solve a problem. Start using a run/pass game to mix it up on your playing field and I bet you’ll find the spark you need to win daily success.

Protecting the Dream by any Means Necessary

July 11, 2009

In the old days of football, receivers used a substance called Stick-Em, a sappy concoction that would make the ball stick to their hands, allowing them to make one-handed catches easily. These days, possession receivers will sometimes wear gloves that have sticky palms so when a leather ball on a dry day hits them, the ball sticks on the glove, making it easier to catch.

Coaches are always admonishing players to protect the ball by any means necessary. We’ve all seen the horrifying plays when a great pass is intercepted by the opposing team. Or maybe when a running back is not protecting the ball well and it’s stripped away from him in an instant.

It’s the same thing with your dreams. The ball represents your dreams and when you watch a football game, it should remind you to protect your dreams by any means necessary because you see what can happen when you lose the ball.

Let’s face it. It’s exciting to birth a new vision or dream and by nurturing it and feeding it, we watch it grow and develop, just as we would a child. It’s ours and it’s special.

I have found that not everyone is worthy of sharing my dream with.

People with small minds, content to live a life of mediocrity, will scoff at your dream. Others will remind you of mistakes you’ve made in the past and admonish you to forget your dream and play it safe. Still others will attempt to rip that dream out of your hands with relentless pursuit.  Maybe it’s because it reminds them of their own lost dreams or because of insecure jealousy or a cynical outlook at life.

It’s important to have teammates in your life who will aid and defend you as you move your dream forward. Share your dreams with people who truly value you and who will help protect your dream with unflinching devotion.

When I think of moving a dream toward the goal line, I think of Barry Sanders who played with the Detroit Lions. Swivel hips himself, Barry went every direction on the compass but he always ended up going toward the goal line. With his ballet-type moves, Barry was a delight to watch in replays over and over in slow motion.

You may have to move in different directions in pursuit of your dreams but as long as you’re moving toward your goal line, you’re doing well and you will win your game.

So, protect your dream by any means necessary. It’s YOUR dream and you deserve to see it fulfilled.

Heroes

June 24, 2009

So far in my life, I have three heroes. Each of them are my heroes for different reasons. As you read about mine, think of the heroes in your life and why they inspire you.

My first hero is Emmitt Smith, #22 of the Dallas Cowboys, 4 rushing titles, Super Bowl XXVIII MVP, 3 time Super Bowl champion, the one who set a record with 25 rushing touchdowns in 1995, Dancing With The Stars 1st place Champion in 1996.

“For me, winning isn’t something that happens suddenly on the field when the whistle blows and the crowds roar. Winning is something that builds physically and mentally every day that you train and every night that you dream.”  Emmitt Smith

Above my microwave cart, next to a Dallas Cowboys calendar, hang two Emmitt plaques. I won one of the plaques at a sports bar for knowing the dimensions of the goal posts – a silly thing for a girl to know but the information came in handy when I needed it.

Emmitt is my hero because he stands for excellence in everything he’s involved in. “I gave everything I possibly could to the game, on and off the field,” Emmitt proclaimed about his 14 year NFL career. Taking1st place on Dancing With The Stars was just another example of Emmitt and his life of excellence. He may not be ESPN’s choice for announcer of the year but Emmitt sets the standard for what it means to give 100% of yourself 100% of the time.

My second hero is Ty Pennington of Extreme Make-over Home Edition, rated the top 20 of all television programs. The show has won two Emmys for Outstanding Reality Program and two People’s Choice Awards. Ty spends 240 days out of the year working on the show, and enthusiastically says it’s, “the greatest job in the world.” When Ty is asked what makes him tick, he’ll say, “It’s about the joy of doing things for others. ‘Extreme Makeover’ is about family, about America and about these random acts of kindness that can restore your faith in people.”

Ty is my hero because of what he gives back to communities throughout America – his name is synonymous with fresh hope and second chances and that’s exactly what this country needs.

My final hero is obscure next to the first two. You probably won’t even recognize his name and his face will probably never grace your t.v. screen. His name is Jorge Lacerda and he was a fellow cube mate at my former place of employment. I worked about 10 feet from Jorge and gained a wealth of knowledge from being in his presence. My guess is that Jorge is in his early 50’s.  His slow, calculated movements as a result of Parkinson’s Disease and his Brazilian accent really made understanding his speech a listening challenge. His mind, however, was as brilliant as they come.

Jorge is my hero because of the productive way he uses his time. He commuted more than an hour every day to get back and forth to work and he did this for 20 years. Instead of listening to news or other depressing garble, Jorge used his drive time to learn 5 languages. The amazing way Jorge used what is normally dead time inspires me to think about what I can accomplish with the time available to me. Will I waste it or use it to make myself more valuable to the world?

What about your heroes? Who are they? Why do they inspire you? Here’s a final thought – are you a hero to someone? Your kids? Your wife? Your family? Your church? Take some time to think about how you can cultivate and forge a path to being a hero to those around you.

Draft Picks

June 19, 2009

The NFL Draft is always an exciting time. Coaches have been watching potential talent for their teams, hopeful players, waiting for their chance to play with the team of their choice, and of course the fans, anxious  to know who will make their team stronger the next season.

I was thinking of how the draft relates to being a solopreneur and a revelation hit me…you know, one of those ah-ha moments. If you think about what the draft is all about, it’s picking the right players to be on your team…period. Sure, there are tons of politics involved; salary caps, signing bonuses and the like. But, basically, it’s picking the right players to be on your team.

What players are on your team? Do you maybe have some you’d like to trade? Are there a few who want too much money for their time and talent? If you work alone or have a small business, here are a couple of pointers on choosing top-notch talent for your team: This includes your vendors as well.

1) Research – Find out all you can about the character and business ethics of the person or company. Do online searches, ask around to find some feedback. Check and verify references.

2) Give Yourself Options – Don’t just pick the first vendor that comes your way. Check out a few to see how they do businesses, what they can offer you that the competitors can’t and what the cost of doing business will be.

3)Money, Money, Money – People seem to like the stuff. When building your team, use wisdom, especially in the area of finances. If you are a solopreneur and need a team member to handle those yucky books, make sure it’s someone with strong ethics who has a healthy perspective and vision of YOUR money.

As a solopreneur and businessperson, don’t you want to be surrounded by top-notch team members?   Team members might include a graphic designer, web designer, digital photographer, printing company,  or accountant.

Interception

June 11, 2009

According to Wikipedia, “an interception is a very specialized move that occurs when a quarterback’s pass is caught by a player on the opposing team. This leads to an immediate change of possession during the play: the defender who caught the ball immediately assumes the role of the offense and attempts to move the ball as far towards the opposing goal as possible. Following the stoppage of play, if the interceptor retained possession of the ball, their team takes over possession at the spot where he was downed.”

According to the player who got intercepted, it’s simply a pick. An interception can change the course and momentum of the game.

In love, life and work, we all get intercepted on occasion. An opponent snatches the ball in mid air. Opponents can range from financial setbacks, loss of health, a car accident, the unexpected loss of a loved one or even cruel, insensitive words from someone you thought was your friend. It can also be your own self – sometimes we are our own worst enemy – and we are picked by self-doubt or the sum of poor choices.

When NFL players are picked off, you’ll typically see a few different reactions. 1) Mad; mad at themselves for allowing it to happen or mad at a receiver for not being at the right place at the right time, 2) Dejected; realizing their failure to do the job properly, or 3)Gets back up and continues the game with strength and style. Brett Favre is a great example of this.

What have you been intercepted by?

What has caused you to lose your grip?

Getting mad provides a temporary adrenaline rush but does it accomplish anything useful? Does it make the opponent go away? NO. The opponent still has the ball. Getting dejected drains you of precious energy and just as with getting mad, it does not accomplish any purpose.

Will you choose to remain mad or dejected or will you get back up and continue the game of life with strength and style? We can do what we can to protect ourselves from some interceptions but not all. Life happens and each and every event is part of our own unique story.

If we don’t learn from our life events, then that’s all they are…events. If we learn to press forward with strength and style, a purpose has been accomplished in our life; we’ve learned, we’ve matured, we’re internally stronger.

Our interceptions might change the course of our life or drastically change our momentum. How we choose to react is our CHOICE.

How will you react to your interceptions?

4th and Long

June 4, 2009

A football team in a 4th and long position is poised to make something out of nothing. It’s a long shot…slim chance. The Dallas Cowboys’ new show, 4th and Long on Monday nights at 10:00 p.m. on Spike gives 12 wanna-be players the chance for a spot on the team.  There are only a few remaining and the final two men standing will have their own 4th and long for a single place on the roster.

How often do we, the freelance or small business person, have our chance at the 4th and longs? Every day? Hopefully not, but we’ve all been in that position where it’s a long shot to get that big client or pay that business debt off once and for all, or meet that right person who will give us our big break. What are our options for play calling on that 4th and long?

  1. Use tried and true methods – Play it safe.
  2. Give the ball to someone else on your team – Delegate
  3. Take a gutsy chance and push forward toward that 1st down – Make something from nothing

O.K., now that we’ve made our choice, what happens next? In pro football, does a team always make 4th and long? A resounding NO way. Does the team give up? NO way! So what if we take that gutsy chance and it doesn’t work out to our expectations? Oh well…you’ll have the ball again and it will be 4th and long and you’ll try it again.

But what happens when you do make a daring play call and you get that client or that big break? You have to be ready for that too – ready to accept the fact that you’ve made something from nothing – ready for humble self-confidence (yes, the two can coincide side-by-side) – ready to plan your next strategy for winning your game.

What 4th and long are you facing today and what will your next play call be?

5 Reasons NOT to Hire a Copywriter

May 19, 2009

I’ll be completely honest with you. My aim is to market to pro football players. I truly want to help players, who have such a short shelf life, develop great written and online content for their other businesses. Since I am passionate about football, this target audience makes sense.

The article below applies not only to pro players of course, but to everyone who thinks they can write punchy, compelling content themselves with no outside help.

1. U kan rite a intelliguble centence. Maybe an overstatement but you get the idea. A lot of people think they can write but nothing could be further from the truth. Spelling counts but it’s also the way the words are painted onto the page. If you are completely confident in your writing skills, don’t hire a copywriter.

2. You’re confident in your marketing abilities. You know all the ins and outs of how to market your writing effectively and have need of no one. You know how to press your prospective client’s hot button’s with words and how to spur them to action. The ability to flow from paragraph to paragraph is effortless for you. In that case, don’t hire a copywriter.

3. You know how to use keywords effectively. You’re a Google keyword guru and know how to integrate the right key words into your copy. You have the knowledge to generously but wisely sprinkle key words throughout your copy to draw more buyers. If you can do that, don’t hire a copywriter.

4. You’re wise on how to use strong, compelling language. You’re a wordsmith by trade and really understand how to use compelling sentences to whoosh your audience away to buying heaven. You have all the style manuals and a thesaurus at your fingertips when you write. You know how to write in a conversational way to engage your audience and cause them to know you sympathize with their plight. If that is the case, don’t hire a copywriter.

5. You have all the time in the world. You have people to run your business for you. You have an incredible executive assistant who can leap tall buildings in a single bound. You never have to travel. You are independently wealthy and have loads of time to lounge by the pool. If this is you, don’t hire a copywriter.

If these five reasons describe you, you have no need to hire a copywriter. You can do it all, blindfolded, with one hand tied behind your back and still have time to spare. You are truly an over-achiever.

If not, maybe it’s time to consider finding a freelance copywriter who has the training and talent to write your sales letters, brochure copy, web content, and whatever other marketing collateral you might have. However, do your homework to find the right copywriter for you.

There are a lot of very high-priced copywriters out there who will charge you an arm and a leg plus your first-born to write your copy. It might be worth taking a look at a copywriter with less experience but who can still produce high level copy without the high level price.

A good copywriter can paint your company’s picture with the brushstrokes of rich key words against a canvas of strong copy, with a colorful call to action. After all, the words you present to the world represent who you are, what your company does and how well you do it. Wouldn’t you want a skilled word artist?