Tag Archive: worklife_balance

10 leadership lessons for Gen-Y

10 leadership lessons for Gen-Y10 leadership lessons for Gen-Y.

10 leadership lessons for Gen-Y. It might be a brave new world, but an old-school approach to leadership still works. Take notes.

Wish I knew then what I know now.

You hear that sort of thing all the time; a lament to the wisdom that seems to come too late in life, or at least later than we’d like it to.

The current generation of up-and-comers certainly has its opportunities and its challenges. Having grown up with high-tech, they’re probably best suited to thrive in the brave new connected world. And I happen to think the digital revolution has only just begun.

On the other hand, the world is in the midst of cultural and economic upheaval. Perhaps that’s nothing new, but it is challenging, to say the least. There’s so much information, so many choices, so much distraction, just those things alone present more complexity than any generation has ever had to deal with.

That said, I have a sneaking suspicion that the wisdom that comes from real-world experience applies to anyone in any generation. At least, that’s the theory. Here are 10 lessons I’ve learned that I suspect will prove useful to the current generation of up-and-coming entrepreneurs and business leaders.

If you want to achieve great things, you have to do great work. If your goal is to just skate by in life, you can probably pull that off without much effort. But if you want to accomplish some great things that give your life meaning, you’ll have to do great work. You only get out of this life what you put into it.

Take big risks. Roll the dice. Dive into the deep end of the pool. Throw caution to the wind. Be fearless. Success in business and your career are a function of your willingness to face your fears and take chances. That simple but powerful truth is probably the most important piece of advice anyone can give you.

Always seek to broaden your experience. Perhaps the best decision I ever made was to spend the first decade of my career with large companies that trained and groomed me and opened my eyes to a world of disciplines, markets, and opportunities. That, I believe, improved my odds of success in the startup world immensely. 10 leadership lessons for Gen-Y

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. There’s a certain time factor related to all goals, strategies, and achievements. The bigger the objective, the bolder the strategy, the more rewarding the accomplishment, the longer it takes, generally speaking. That runs contrary to our attention deficit culture and our growing addiction to instant gratification. You need to fight that real-time tug to achieve long-term results. 10 leadership lessons for Gen-Y

There’s a certain balance to the equation of life. In school, you learn that there’s symmetry in the world. Every force has an equal and opposite reaction. Chemical equations must balance. Supply and demand are intimately related. Life is no different. It’s full of tradeoffs and cause and effect relationships. You’ll never get something for nothing. Everything has a price. First you do the work, then you get rewarded. You give, then you get. Those equations appear throughout your career, your life, the business world, everything.

You probably take yourself too seriously. Children have enormous egos. They think everything revolves around them. That self-centered worldview is essential to survival. But in adulthood, it can be a real problem. Maturity is very much about developing empathy for others, about understanding their needs and wants, what drives and motivates them. It’s also key to effective business and working relationships. 10 leadership lessons for Gen-Y

Don’t make self-limiting assumptions based on limited experience. When you’re young, there’s a temptation to be headstrong, to make sweeping decisions based on limited information. For example, it’s popular these days to romanticize entrepreneurship, but it’s not for everyone. Keep your options open. 10 leadership lessons for Gen-Y

Don’t confuse freedom with entitlement. You’re actually entitled to very little in life, but it should be enough. America’s founding fathers were brilliant. “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is phrased that way for a reason. With those basic building blocks, you’re free to pursue what you will. The rest is entirely up to you. Your happiness and success are in your hands–and only your hands.

Real success takes real relationships in the real world. The Internet definitely leveled the business playing field. And social networks enable you to connect with virtually anyone. As a result, you can make a few bucks generating Twitter followers for Lady Gaga or Honey Boo Boo by sitting at your computer at home. But if you have higher aspirations than that, you’ll need to develop real relationships with real people in real time.

Have faith that things will work out for you. Steve Jobs said it best in his 2005 Stanford University commencement speech, “You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something–your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” 10 leadership lessons for Gen-Y

One more thing. I wouldn’t think of depriving you all of learning these lessons in your own good time. If you want to throw caution to the wind as I suggested earlier, go ahead and hit “delete.” Be my guest. But there’s an old expression that I think still applies in our information society: “Forewarned is forearmed.” And, after all, you can never go back. 10 leadership lessons for Gen-Y

Article provided by Inc.com. ©Inc.

Does Your Small Business Need a Coach?

Does Your Small Business Need a Coach?
by Susan Caminiti.

Marsha Egan is no stranger to business coaches. She used one back in 2005 as she was planning to leave her job as a senior vice president with a Fortune 500 insurance company to strike out on her own. Now that she’s running her own business, Egan is once again using the services of a coach, but this time it’s to help take her company—InBoxDetox.com, a workplace productivity firm—to the next level of growth.

“My business is going okay, but it’s not where I want it to be given the time and effort I’m putting in,” says Egan, whose Nantucket, Massachusetts-based company works with leaders of small- to medium-sized firms. “A coach helps me understand what I can do differently to get better results. Basically, she’s helping me see what I’m not seeing.”

Providing that kind of guidance—or handholding, depending on the client—has become a big business. According to the 2012 Global Coaching study done by the International Coach Federation (ICF), the industry’s leading network and certification organization, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, nearly 48,000 coaches worldwide are generating a staggering $2 billion a year in revenue.

Before trying to figure out whether a business coach can sharpen your leadership skills or help goose productivity, it helps to understand what coaching is and—perhaps more importantly—what it’s not. Coaching is not therapy. True, you will need to be extremely candid and honest with a coach about your management weaknesses and trouble spots (and yes, some of the very traits you’re trying to change may have roots in childhood). But unlike in therapy, there is no expert/subordinate dynamic that exists in business coaching, says Janet Harvey, president of the ICF and a coach herself. “The coach/client relationship is peer to peer,” she says.

Nor is coaching the same as consulting. For example, if you want someone to come in to implement a performance management system, call a human resources consultant. However, if you want to become more effective at motivating your employees, that’s where a coach can help, explains Harvey. “Coaching is all about working with the client to help them recognize their blind spots and then figure out ways to do what they’re doing better and more effectively,” she says.

PQ_BusinessCoach.jpgWhat to Look For

Choosing the right coach to work with is similar to establishing other business relationships: you want solid credentials, good references, and the feeling that the two of you fit well. Karyn Greenstreet, founder of Passion for Business, a small business coaching and consulting firm based in Reading, Pennsylvania, advises entrepreneurs to do their homework when selecting a coach. Among her tips for finding the right one:

Check that the coach is a member of the International Coach Federation
Select someone who has experience in coaching a business of your size. If you’re a one-person shop you don’t necessarily want someone who’s used to dealing with owners of companies with 100 or more employees.
The initial consultation is free. A good coach will make that offer so that the two of you can get to know each other and determine what you’re hoping to accomplish.
There’s a comfort level. Do you feel positive after speaking with this person, or dragged down? If you’re energetic and the coach is more low-key (or vice versa), are you okay with that? As Greenstreet points out, you will be spending a lot of time together.
Discuss the fees upfront. The cost of coaching varies widely and is determined by the experience of the coach and the length of the contract. Don’t be shy about asking the coach to break out his or her prices and be clear about what you’ll be getting for your money.

Finding the Right Arrangement

The methods and styles used in business coaching are rarely the same from client to client, says the ICF’s Harvey. Some entrepreneurs can handle a one-hour session every other week, and then want to be left alone to mull over the ideas, she says. Others prefer a more intensive two- to three-hour session once a month. The point is to figure out what you’re most comfortable with, and that the coach is flexible enough to change it at your request.

Working in person or over the phone is another area to clarify at the beginning. Julie Cohen, a coach specializing in work/life balance issues, has herself used a coach to help redefine her business as her own life changed. “What I’ve recognized from being a coach is that we typically can’t see our own blind spots in business,” she says.

Cohen, who started her company in 2000, says she operated with the belief that as a successful coach, she should cater to both individual and corporate clients. The work involved in servicing both areas was becoming overwhelming, she recalls. “I wasn’t sure what my business was and it was killing me,” she says. “Here it is that I’m talking to clients about work/life balance and I had none.”

After working with her business coach for a few weeks last year—all by phone—Cohen was able to finally admit that she really didn’t like working with individual clients and derived more satisfaction from her corporate clients. “Having a coach help me get to that realization was just so freeing for me,” she adds. Cohen promptly redesigned her website to emphasize her offerings to corporate clients and was able to dedicate more time to them.

Measuring Results

One of the often-heard criticisms of coaching is that it’s difficult to measure its value. Not so, says Marsha Egan. She advises being very clear from the beginning about why you’re hiring a coach (improve your company’s visibility, increase morale, be a better boss, for instance) and then look at the results at the end of the contract.

“I knew when I hired my coach that at the end of our time together I want a new tagline for my business, a new blog, and a redefinition of what I’m doing,” she says. After each one-hour phone session with her coach, Egan does a sort of homework assignment where she implements the new strategies she’s learned and then she and her coach discuss the results. “There’s no guess work here,” says Egan. “If I was happy with the way things were going with my business, I wouldn’t be using a coach. To me, this is an effective way to bring about changes that are going to make me a more productive and happier business owner.”

Five Things to Make Your Home Office Work for You

Five Things to Make Your Home Office Work for You
by Erin McDermott.

Nick Loper is a mover and shaker at his home office. Actually, these days, mostly a mover.

Back in December, he found a treadmill on Craigslist, and with a little DIY derring-do, he rigged his workspace to it. Now the CEO of ShoeSniper.com is walking 8 to 10 miles a day while he runs the shoe-shopping website from his place near San Francisco.

He’s had to learn to steady himself while walking and typing, got a bigger computer monitor that was easier to see at the top tier of his desk setup, and admits it’s been a bit tough to ignore the numbers on the exercise device’s panel. Even so, he’s hooked. “It’s kind of addictive to watch the amount of calories you burn as you go,” he says. But overall, it’s working for him, and Loper even recently punched another hole in his belt—on the good side. “There have been times since, when I’ve been away, working in a hotel, and I feel like I should be doing more, and being up and moving.”

It’s never easy to get your workspace just right, more so for anyone who regularly works from home. With the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimating there are now some 18.3 million home-based businesses, more people than ever are out there trying to project the professionalism of the office onto their home base.

“The recession has made more companies open their minds to the cost-savings that can come from working with telecommuters,” says Sara Sutton Fell, chief executive and founder of FlexJobs.com, an online job-service site dedicated to flexible work situations. Sutton Fell walks the walk, too: She’s worked from home for almost six years. From a loft above her detached garage in Boulder, Colorado, she manages a staff of 24 other home-office dwellers, half of whom she’s yet to meet face to face. “My kids know I’m up here, but they know not to interfere,” she says, “It’s still a better alternative for me.”

What works best for these home-based entrepreneurs? Below are a few suggestions to make your home office hum:

A backup system…and a backup for your backup

It’s every computer user’s worst nightmare. Last year, Sutton Fell’s hard drive crashed. Unbeknownst to her, her data-backup system wasn’t working properly either. “It’s embarrassing to even admit this,” she says. She ended up losing a good amount of data. Now, in addition to her crucial two monitors she uses to accommodate all of her open tabs and her website, she also has two backup systems for her data.

But what if your home and home office are destroyed? First, make sure that your home insurance is up to date and get a rider that covers your work setup. Then consider something similar to Binary Formations’ Home Inventory. This software helps you catalog everything in your home and home office—information that’s crucial if the unthinkable happens. “Most people think ahead to get riders on jewelry, but not many think about their home-business equipment,” says Diane Hamilton, Binary Formations’ managing partner, who, along with husband Kevin, runs the company from their Virginia home office. “You should think about the coverage for your workspace whether you work for yourself or work from home for someone else.”


If you deal with a lot of paperwork, you’ll need plenty of things like tabbed folders and file cabinets. But if you’re trying to go paperless, several small business owners recommend taking a look at the products from Neat. That company’s mobile scanner and software products can build a searchable directory of receipts, business cards, and important documents. And if you’re a really big thinker, unleash your creativity and surround yourself with one gigantic big dry-erase board, using new whiteboard paint products to turn your office walls into a wraparound notepad.

PQ_Homeoffice.jpgA map of your day, week, month

Psychotherapist and relationship coach Toni Coleman says it’s critical to establish a structure—with your routine, with your schedule, and with your family and friends. “To be really good at working from home, you have to be really good at getting into ‘the zone,’” she says. “However you set that up physically, you have to be able to do it mentally. And you have to clarify that with everyone around you.”

The mother of four operates her practice out of her home in McLean, Virginia, and says she sees clients get into trouble all the time as gadgets blur the line between business and life. She advises her clients to create a schedule and a routine and stick to it—shower, dress to get into the professional mind-set, grab your coffee, and then get into your office and go to work. Good planning is everything, Coleman says. “If you’re disorganized and you go to sit down and realize you’re out of ink, and want to run to Staples, it will throw off your whole schedule. You have to resist that urge and stay focused.”

A door

For nine years, Lori Karpman ran her management consultancy from an area off the kitchen in her Montreal home. She had all of the professional trappings, but she lacked the ability to shut herself off physically from the rest of her household. Though she says she’s always been very disciplined about her hours, there was no stopping her kids or other sirens of domesticity from testing her concentration. Karpman moved to a new home with a dedicated workspace about a year ago, and raves about the mental break that the door on her new home office provides. “When my day is over, I turn off the lights, shut off the ringer on the phone, and close the door—I’m not at work anymore and I’m really home,” she says. “It’s important to say that space is your workspace—not your living space. Psychologically, it makes it seem so much more professional.”

A release

Got a picture on your desk to remind you of your work/life balance? Or a window that provides an inspirational view? Or iTunes cued up for a five-minute Motown session to recharge during the 2 p.m. doldrums? The isolation of remote work has its own set of stresses. John Paul Engel, marketing consultant and chief executive of Knowledge Capital Consulting, says he overcomes the pressure of 24/7-availability by going for a run outside his Sioux City, Iowa, home office to clear his head—and to engage both sides of his brain to sort out a problem. Others swear by sitting on exercise balls to physically vent and stay fit in the process.

The key is to make whatever works work for you, like Nick Loper and his treadmill desk. And now that he’s on his feet all day, does he test his wares on it? “No,” he says, before adding, “but I guess that could be a good writeoff.”

Christopher Gardner Q & A: Lessons for Pursuing ‘Happyness’ in Business

Christopher Gardner Q & A: Lessons for Pursuing ‘Happyness’ in Business
by Susan Caminiti.

Christopher Gardner first made headlines with his best-selling memoir, The Pursuit of Happyness, the story of his homelessness, which was made into the movie of the same name starring Will Smith. Today, he is the CEO of Gardner Rich & Co., a Chicago-based brokerage firm and the author of Start Where You Are—Life Lessons in Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. Recently, business writer Susan Caminiti spoke with Gardner about the challenges of running your own business, the importance of failure, and how entrepreneurs need to sometimes get out of their own way.

SC: What aspect of starting and running a small business is most often overlooked or underappreciated?

CG: When you do something that you truly are passionate about, nothing gets overlooked. And that’s the key. It’s when you decide to do something strictly so you can make money that the problems start setting in. The glass all of sudden always looks half empty. When you start a business, it’s not easy. There are a million things that grab your attention and need to be addressed. That’s why it’s so important to do something that you’re passionate about. It has to be that feeling of, the sun can’t come up soon enough in the morning so I can go out and do my thing. That’s the part some folks overlook.

PQ_QAchrisgardner.jpgSC: Is that why it’s so hard for entrepreneurs to delegate, because they’re so passionate about what they do?

CG: No, it’s because we’re control freaks! But seriously, for any business to truly grow and be successful, the owner has to get to the point that I had to reach in my business: there are people who are better than you at certain things. The hard part is finding them and then leaving them alone. I’ll give you a perfect example. I have a bad record in hiring people. But I have a person who’s worked for me for the past 18 years who’s much better at it than I am. She has every license I have and then some. It finally dawned on me that I should let her do the hiring. And you know what? It works. Figure out what you’re good at and what you’re not good at—and then find the people that fill in those gaps. You can’t do everything. That’s just ego talking.

SC: In your book, Start Where You Are, you say there is no plan B for passion. How does someone starting or running a business balance this quest for passion with the practical needs of every day life?

CG: Passion is important but you have to have a plan and be very clear on what it is you want to start or how you want to grow a business you already have. I call it the “C-5 complex” and it revolves around these five words: clear, concise, compelling, committed, consistent. It’s great to have a dream of what you want but without a plan, that’s all it’s every going to be—a dream.

SC: Can you give me an example of how that played out in your life and company?

CG: In early 2008 my company had a $50-million commitment from an investor and I thought all was great. Then in September the financial crisis happened and that $50 million walked away. We had to re-evaluate everything. But that’s the beauty of having a plan, of being clear and committed. We didn’t try to take the company in a completely different direction. We stayed focused and kept moving ahead. And you know what? If I had gotten that $50 million and invested it before the crisis, we’d be so far under water right now it’d be hard to breathe. Sometimes the universe has a way of saying to you—step aside, the timing isn’t right on this.

SC: Failure is difficult in a corporate environment; for entrepreneurs it seems to be magnified and even more personal. How can business owners handle failure better?

CG: If you’re not failing occasionally, you’re not really trying anything. In fact, when you hire someone, the most important question to ask is: Tell me about a time you’ve failed at something. If they can’t give you an answer—or won’t—then you’ve got someone who’s not really going to get in there and be creative and energetic. They’re going to protect themselves. I always tell people, I’d rather be knocked out than tap out. I spent a part of my life homeless. It would have been so easy to give up. I didn’t. Success in life is about how many times you get up, not how many times you fall down.

SC: What’s the best piece of management advice you ever got?

CG: I was with [former Citigroup CEO] Sandy Weill years ago and we were talking about finding and keeping talented people. He said to me, ‘Chris, don’t ever be afraid to hire people smarter than you.’ Then he added, ‘But remember, even though they’re smarter it doesn’t mean you have to pay them more than you.’ I just laughed and thought, they sure don’t teach you that at Harvard!