July 23, 2010

Imagine! The Joy of Backward Thinking!

Imagine that it is the year 2015 and you are in a courtroom. You are well dressed but your feet hurt. You are there to finalize matters with creditors at your bankruptcy hearing. Huh?!? How did THAT happen?

Imagine that it is the year 2020 and you are in a courtroom. You are well dressed but your feet hurt. You are there for the final dissolution of your marriage. Huh?! How the heck did THAT happen?

Take a few moments to consider what events most likely happened in your near future as the building blocks to the disastrous outcomes above. What could you have done to prevent these things? What is well within your control that you maybe neglect or get too busy for that may  prevent such dreadful outcomes.

For many of us, looking backward is easier than looking forward. I suggest you use this exercise to look back from your future. This is a great way to rethink your own behavior before it leads to disaster. The beautiful thing about this backward/forward vision is that you can utilize it to prevent failures and also to get you closer to your desired goals. 

Imagine that it is the year 2016 and your are writing the tuition check to your kid's college of choice for a full year. Today, you have enough in the college savings account to pay for a tank of gas. Visualize how you get there in just 6 years time. You can still do this, you have 6 years!!!!

Imagine the day you retire from the career you love. Visualize the hobbies and travel that can become your daily life. Now is the time to plan that future.

Companies routinely use this backward thinking in their strategic planning for future growth. See the goal and work backward, planning the action steps, resources needed, etc... to get them there.

The next time somebody accuses you of backwards thinking, say "Why yes, thank you!".

Mary Rogers

July 21, 2010

What do they say when you walk out the door?

Aren't we all experts on our friends lives? We know what their "issues" are, how much their "baggage" weighs, and we are also blessed with the solutions to all of their problems. If only we had the guts to tell them.

In an interview with Dr. Phil, he said that he had left private practice because of his frustration with clients that wanted to stay clients, even after he had given them clear advice on how to solve their problems. They didn't really want to bring and end to their woes, just talk about them. Every week. For 50 minutes. With him.

What about you? Would you want to put an end to your business, career or personal troubles if offered a solid solution?

Several years ago, I hit a point in my life where nothing seemed to be working. My career and family life were out of balance, I didn't feel very well, my business was growing but not in ways I expected or was prepared for. I kept tweaking the formula of my attention and nothing seemed to work. I did something that sounds simple, but it simply wasn't done.

I surveyed the people in my life that spent the most time with me: friends, family, co-workers, employees and individually asked them this: Imagine that you are gathered with my circle of friends. I come in all cranky about my life, and then leave the room. What would you all agree on that I needed to change or do with my life. I asked them to be blunt.

I did this with 4 or 5 people. They all had the exact same answer. Some of these people had never met each other, but they all knew me. Guess what? I did what they suggested and it worked. It took a long time for me to go through the process, but I did it and I am 100% happier and healthier.

Does your life seem a wee bit out of whack? Try it. Ask them "What do people say about me when I walk out the door?" It usually starts with something like "If she could just stop going back to that man!" or "Why doesn't she just tell her mother she can't send her anymore money?" or "Stop writing prisoners!".

If all of your peeps say that you should start a business, do it! If they all say you should quit that job, maybe their perspective gives them something you should listen to. You are surrounded by advisors, make an appointment!

July 14, 2010

Connecting the Dots

Thanks to all who commented on my July 5th blog about finding my sweet spot (that whole career/family/self balance point) and how I could deliver the message of a scaled back picture of success in a speech to Detroit women business owners in a few months. What insightful readers and writers this blog has! Please go back and read the comments, it will be very worth your time.

One of my concerns about this speech is that these business owners are up against a monster of a bad economy. My Little Mary Sunshine message of "Hey, maybe where you are RIGHT NOW is just fine" felt a bit uncomfortable for me. 

Bill Marsh Jr, of Bill Marsh Auto Group read my blog and was good enough to send me a  speech given by executive coach and speaker Connie Podesta of Texas. I took away many ideas from Connie's remarks. One that I thought most worth sharing is this: We rarely question our happiness when all is going well: customers are beating a path to our door, employees are happy and productive, vendors are meeting your demands, etc... Rather, it is when sales have dumped, you can't meet payroll, and vendors have turned into creditors that unless you really love what you are doing and have a clear priority to succeed at it, work just sucks.

When I started doing the Mary in the Morning Show, the general manager of the station told me that the first day I found myself not wanting to get out of bed at 4AM would be the day to hand in my resignation. It messes up your family life and plain old hurts too much to wake up that early if you aren't excited to get to work. After 3 years, I completely understand what he was telling me. There is no way that I would sacrifice normal life for this job if it was anything less than the most fun job imaginable.

So, the message here is: If in this rotten economy you have lost the love for your business, career or job, you probably never really loved it all that much. Time to reevaluate what makes you happy, good times or bad, and get moving in that direction.

July 12, 2010

Grow or die... or not?

I love making speeches! I am a freak, I know. Like a songwriter who will tell you that the song must be sung, that it is bursting from their very pores, I get the same way with a speech.

But everything has a time and a place. Barbra Streisand would probably not be well received at a Tattoo Festival. In a few months from now I am scheduled to make a keynote speech at a women business owners conference in Detroit. For me, this is something of a homecoming appearance and frankly, I want to knock it out of the ballpark. My old colleagues wonder what the heck happened to Mary after she moved up north? I'm sharing with you my thoughts about preparing for this in hopes that it will help you in how you approach your own communications, be they one-on-one or one-to-one thousand. My second reason is to get some feedback from folks I know and trust who may want to tell me to re-think this.

My experience as a public speaker has taught me:
  • Speak from the heart. You can never fool a crowd
  • Give your audience information or inspiration that they can use that very day
  • Speak for the benefit of your audience not yourself
My heartfelt message these days is to enjoy the place (emotional, physical, financial, etc) that you are in, so as not to overlook the joys that are yours while scrambling to figure out how to be bigger and better than you are right now, right here. Could you find yourself in your sweet spot and not be living the life of a millionaire? Find yourself living where the ranking of your priorities match the energy expended.

A few years ago, when I was scrambling for career and business growth, I had a conversation with a businessman who was new to the area. He wanted to work with local companies to help them expand into new markets. He shared his frustration with me over local folks satisfaction with "enough". He told me that he found himself actually having to convince people (plumbers, insurance agents, small manufacturers, etc...) that they should want to grow. I completely sympathized with the guy! "You're kidding! Grow or die, baby!". They told him they made more money than their parents ever dreamed of, had a nice house, 2 cars in the driveway, went to Florida for a week each winter. Why grow? They would have more work, more worry, and less time to spend enjoying things that really mattered to them. They had enough right now. The poor guy was left speechless.

I feel compelled to share this message because I have spent a great deal of my time in "scramble mode" and I can practically smell the burn of it on others. We are programmed to expand, grow and win. 

I suggest that you re-examine your assumptions of your own priorities, your own goals, and then decide if ambition is your driving passion. If it is, go for it! If you adopted in from the ad managers at Proctor & Gamble or More magazine, I say hit the brakes. 

Personally, I feel like Alice in Wonderland when she drank from the cup labeled "Drink This". I see things from a very different perspective these days. I am fully committed to do the best at what I do, but not in a bigger, splashier, more recognized way. I love what I am doing right now. Yes, I could make more money somewhere else, but then I would have to give "this" up! I love this. Right now, right here. And that's okay dammit! Maybe next week I'll want to conquer the world. But not right now.

This might sound like a message of giving up your dreams and that is when I get nervous about ending a major address on this note. Keep in mind, I will be speaking to hundreds of women running businesses in a cut throat depressed economic market. I am the first speaker of the day before the conference goers spend the morning at various workshops on business marketing and finance and technology. Is it unrealistic to ask frightened business owners to take a moment to smell the roses, celebrate their accomplishments and maybe (just maybe) accept this time as a season of maintenance and not growth?

Am I creating this message because I want to give it OR because it could be inspirational to the women I'll be speaking to. Am I ignoring the reality of their daily life?

Your very satisfied friend,
Mary Rogers