ARE YOU AN OLYMPIAN?

Although LUCK is an important part of anything we do, (and I do believe the harder we work the luckier we get), luck alone did not get the Olympians to the final challenge and luck will not net them their win.  

Watching the Olympics, we hear story after story of athletes that have overcome diversity and faced challenges that knocked them off their feet or sidelined them for a while. They overcame, fighting back with renewed strength and determination. Sacrifices have been made to get where they are today, whether it is leaving home at an early age to train with a trainer full-time or enduring the financial burdens that come with the territory. They have poured their time and energy into a dream, and on every determined face, you can read the history of the blood, sweat and tears that went into making this dream a reality. Mistakes happen and missteps occur, and you see focused attention as they fight to move on and put the past behind them. I have heard the commentators say over and over after some of the younger contenders have failed to measure up or made mistakes, that this will only serve to make them better and more prepared for next time. The Olympians are a rare breed, but imagine if you were Entrepreneur, training as if you were an Olympian.

As an entrepreneur, we must grant ourselves permission to make mistakes but then move on to the next challenge. We must view our opponent or competition with respect, admiration and a critical eye, yet remain focused on what we do best and bringing our A game to the competition. As an entrepreneur, we must face challenges everyday and decide what we are going to do.

Imagine if we gave the same dedication to our business that the Olympians do to theirs. Imagine if every time there was a challenge, we saw it as an opportunity. Imagine if we were willing to make the sacrifices required in pursuing our dream. Imagine success. Imagine if we set goals and did whatever was necessary to reach those goals.  Imagine if every time we stumbled and fell, we got back up again and kept going. Imagine the whole world cheering us on. Imagine believing in ourselves to accomplish the unimaginable. Imagine facing our competitors knowing our strengths and having confidence in our abilities. Imagine having respect and admiration for our competitors. Imagine winning. Imagine yourself as an ENTREPRENEUR and running your business as an OLYMPIAN.  Imagine what can happen.

xo, jan

WHAT A CUSTOMER WANTS

When we start our business, it often comes from a place of filling a need or solving a problem, usually based on our own experience. We are very tuned into what the Target Customer needs, especially if we are the Target Customer.  However, as we start operating our business, we might start to drift from our original concept, lose touch with what the customer wants or how it is being perceived by the customer,  especially if we are so immersed in day to day operations that don’t allow for much creative time or introspection.  We can second guess what the customer wants, but the easiest way to get in touch and find out what the customer really wants is to just ASK!  I thought I knew what my agents in my Agency Group wanted out of our group.  However,  in a meeting the other night, I asked each of the agents what they liked about the group, and what would they like to add that would bring additional value.  Some of their answers surprised me, but knowing exactly what the members of the group are looking for and incorporating that into my business plan will only serve to help our group become the very best it can be.  It’s not about me, It’s about them. And that’s the way it should be.

WHAT I DIDN’T KNOW

Riding in my car yesterday, I was listening to an interview about this fashion designer that was absolutely fascinating, and had me in hysterical laughter as he described how it all began at age five when his mother remarried and he helped design her wedding gown.  Oddly enough, it was probably 30 minutes into the interview before I finally found out WHO the designer was!  What I didn’t know was the designer was Michael Kors! There are several brands that I love or like, and buy them for the quality or the style. Michael Kors is one such brand. One of my favorite handbags is his collection and I covet a few more items that are attached to his name. Listening to the interview took my love of his brand to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL! I actually enjoyed listening to his story so much that when I arrived at my destination, I wanted to sit in the car and hear the rest of it rather than going into the store. I’ve said this before, but we want to buy from people we think we know, like and trust.  Knowing the story behind the Michael Kors brand makes me feel like I do know him and makes me want to be loyal to his brand.  It brings up the importance of letting people know who we are, so do what you can to get your name out there whenever possible.

DO YOU KNOW TOO MUCH?

I just recently got turned onto “Breaking Bad”.  Friends and family have applauded this show as seriously addicting and scary bad for quite a while, and maybe that’s why I haven’t tuned in. I certainly don’t need another TV show to follow.  (TV is my guilty pleasure and I don’t always discriminate between sappy, really good, and just plain ridiculous, I like them all)  Anyway, I’ve only watched all of one show, the very first pilot, so I have four years of shows to catch up on. I will never have to rent a movie again!  I can hole up on a rainy day in CA or a snowy day in CO and totally get my fix.

Ok, enough history. Here’s what I like about the show and the creator. Starting with the show. For those of you that haven’t watched it, the show is actually kind of humorous and is based on a Suburban dad and HS science teacher that learns he has terminal cancer. In need of extra cash, he throws caution to the wind and gives up his law abiding lifestyle and goes in cahoots with one of his students to make, sell, and distribute crystal meth.  By all accounts, he should fail, or at the very least, get caught. (Again, I’m only basing my opinions off the first show), but he doesn’t.  Which leads us to take note.  When we take risks and don’t get so caught up in the “what if I fail scenario?”, we are far more likely to succeed. Waiting for the perfect moment or making sure that everything is perfect before we launch is what holds many people back.  Perfect NEVER happens. Just do it, thrown in with a lot of hard work, a little common sense and flexibility and the odds are you will be just fine.

The other thing about the show that stuck a chord was an article written by the creator himself.  In the article, he (Vince Gilligan) talked about his decision to NOT subscribe to Showtime as being the best mistake he ever made.  You see, his pitch for a show about a law abiding, suburban dad dealing drugs was done in 2005, just as the critically acclaimed show WEEDS was launched on Showtime, a show he knew absolutely nothing about.  Had he known about his “competition”, he says he may very well have abandoned the idea thinking all the good ideas are already taken and it would never be picked up.  That would have been sad, because that means the award winning show “Breaking Bad” would never have happened. Fortunately, even though Breaking Bad and Weeds have a similar plot line, the creators of both shows found their own special twist that makes it possible for both shows to air and be successful.  I hear from women all the time that say, “Oh no, someone else is doing my idea!” and feel all their hard work is for naught or that they shouldn’t start their business.  If this were true, we would only have one airline, one coffee place, one shoe line, one make-up line etc.  All ideas are not created equal. What is important is to find your secret sauce and implement your unique selling proposition and with the right ingredients, your company can go up against anyone!

xo, jan

Shoot For The Moon

Birthdays are that time of year when reflections are an obvious rite of the big day.  As we make wishes for the future, we often look back over the past year and review what we have accomplished.  I officially celebrated my birthday on the 19th (as well as a few other days as friends and family generously treated me to additional festive celebrations!) and I couldn’t help but mentally review the list I made 365 days ago.

Some of the goals I set out to accomplish were pretty lofty, others a bit more possible or manageable.  The most significant goal on my list in this past birthday year was built around my age.  I would  give up alcohol, walk for 30 minutes everyday, drink my age in water ounces everyday, and write a business tip, everyday for as many days as I was old. I accomplished that goal.  It felt good and I was very proud of myself and I’ve continued to incorporate some of  those practices in my daily life.

I also set some goals like reading a certain number of books and trying a certain number of new things. That goal wasn’t completed in its entirety, nor were a few others on my list that were probably not attainable, but I listed them anyway. So upon my reflection, I found myself chastising myself for coming up a little short. And then I stopped, and remembered a quote my daughter Keeley lovingly printed on my pillow case many many years back and I still share with others. “Shoot for the moon, if you miss you will land amongst the stars”.  Instead of focusing on what I DIDN’T accomplish, I’m CHOOSING to focus on what I DID accomplish, and be happy with where I landed.  I will continue to push myself and shoot for the moon because if we always reach the goals we set out to accomplish, we aren’t stretching ourselves very far.

xo, jan

SMILE, You’re on CANDID CAMERA!

It is easy to be on our best behavior when we know everyone is watching, but what about when the cameras are turned off?  I must admit there have been times I’ve given dirty looks to those people who cut me off, steal a parking spot, or do something incredibly abhorrent, but I like to think I have integrity and am on my best behavior naturally. And if the cameras were secretly rolling, I would have nothing to be ashamed about from my behavior.

Recently I attended a trunk show with several friends at a major hotel where I was staying, featuring some beautiful jewelry. (a weakness of mine)  I fell in love with a piece that I definitely wanted to put on my birthday wish list and I was excited to meet the designer in person and hear about the inspiration behind the piece, how she started her company, and find out more about her.  Because in the end, we want to buy from people we think we know, like and trust.  After I talked to her, I was even more attracted to the piece and seriously contemplated the purchase.  My friends told me to think about it overnight, and make a decision the next day.

Skip ahead to dinner at the restaurant in the hotel, and who should we run into at the bar, behaving badly toward our party and not even remembering who we were, but the jewelry designer herself.  That night she showed her worst self and it made me realize that I didn’t want to do business with her, no matter how intrigued I was with the piece I coveted. As a business owner, and even as an individual, we always need to be our best self.  We need to know that we are always on, and our self worth as well as our business depends on it.