#iStandforGirls With Kurandza: Supporting Education in Mozambique

I met the Founder of Kurandza about 4 months ago and when she told me what she was doing, I instantly knew I had to be a part of it. Today, I am joining them in a month long campaign to help them reach their goal of sending 200 girls in Mozambique to school.

 Photo by: John DeMato

Photo by: John DeMato

What is Kurandza?

Kurandza is a non-profit organization that invests in the future of women and girls in Mozambique, a country in Southeast Africa. The local language in Mozambique is Changana. Co-Founders Elisabetta and Percina came up with the name "Kurandza" because it means "to love" in Changana.

Where did the idea for Kurandza come from?

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Elisabetta Colabianchi volunteered with the Peace Corps counseling HIV-positive women on the prevention of HIV transmission to their children at a local hospital in Guijá, a small village in southern Mozambique. While she was there, she noticed that the cost of transportation was a major barrier each month and many patients would stop treatment because they could not afford to pick-up their medicine. 

In response to this obstacle, Elisabetta and her friend, Percina Miocha, started an income generation project for these HIV-positive women, with the goal of teaching them a skill that would earn enough income to pay for the monthly transportation costs to the hospital so they could continue treatment.

After Elisabetta finished her work with the Peace Corps, she kept in touch with the friends and connections she had made in Mozambique and decided to create Kurandza alongside Percina to continue supporting the community.

 Because of last year's campaign, these three girls, Mayita, Ética, and Gilda, were able to start first grade and start to dream for the future! Kurandza sent 100 girls to school last year, and this year their goal is to double that.

Because of last year's campaign, these three girls, Mayita, Ética, and Gilda, were able to start first grade and start to dream for the future! Kurandza sent 100 girls to school last year, and this year their goal is to double that.

How Can We Support Kurandza?

This initiative is so close to my heart because I truly believe everyone should have the chance to dream of a bright future and then to step into that future and make it their reality.

In Mozambique, it is hard for girls to get an education due to a lack of resources. Without funding, most will drop out and lose access to options and opportunities to set them up for success in the future. Girls who are educated are more likely to:

  • Get their vaccines;
  • Avoid contracting HIV;
  • Have access to jobs;
  • Earn a higher income; and
  • Escape child marriage.
 Photo by: John DeMato

Photo by: John DeMato

Kurandza’s mission is to get these young girls access to school and job opportunities so they can change the world.

The education of 200 girls will impact 20,000 people. And that’s just this year! I know they won’t stop there...

I’m standing up for the girls who aren’t able to speak up for themselves yet with Kurandza and their #IStandForGirls campaign. All of the money raised this month will go towards transportation, school fees, uniforms, books, backpacks, and school supplies. Not only do these girls get to go to school, they also get health education, after school tutoring, extracurricular activities, parent-teacher conferences, and empowerment workshops. $20 covers one monthly scholarship, $240 covers one girl's entire year.

If you would like to join the #IStandForGirls campaign and invest in a girl's education, you can visit their website: https://www.kurandza.org/istandforgirls.

How to Improve Communication At Work

The Artful Worker Podcast Interview with Sim Saini:
Pay Rises, Networking, NLP, and More | Episode 005


It was an honor to be interviewed on The Artful Worker Podcast! In Episode 005, Sim and I got to talk about how to communicate more effectively in your professional life whether you're working in a leadership role or entry-level position we touched on a lot of scenarios where you might feel uncomfortable expressing yourself.

During the interview, we touched on:

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  • How to negotiate your salary when you apply for a new job
  • How to give negative feedback without making people feel defensive
  • The one thing you should avoid so you don't create a toxic work environment
  • How to trust someone again after they let you down at work
  • What is NLP and Hypnotherapy and how did I get involved in it?
  • How to manage your energy during a work conference or networking event (as an introvert)
  • And much more...

Click here to listen to Episode 005 and you can follow along with these show notes:

[2:15] Background information on how I became an entrepreneur.

[6:20] How to negotiate your salary and apply for a job that is going to level up your career.

[18:48] Sim asks, "Is it too risky to be up front about any limitations you might have when you are in a job interview?" Listen in to hear my response!

[20:10] How to stand out in a job interview and differentiate yourself from the other candidates.

[21:10] Sim asks, "What percentage of increase were you looking at when you negotiated your salary?"

[22:49] I share how I felt the moment I said the salary I wanted out loud and the reaction I got on the other end of the phone.

[23:40] Sim and I discuss how to trust colleagues after they have made mistakes as well as performance management and corporate culture.

[24:50] Sim and I discuss both sides of negative feedback - being the person who has to deliver the feedback as well as being the person receiving the feedback. 

[26:08] Bonus Tip: What negative feedback that doesn't upset someone sounds like in action (and how you can do it too!)

[28:40] Sim and I step into the shoes of the person receiving feedback and how to give them the opportunity to ask for what they need help with.

[29:50] Sim asks, "What happens if I put myself on the line and recommended someone, but they let me down. How can I build trust again?"

[31:45] I share the one thing you should never do as a leader when someone disappoints you if you want to have a positive corporate culture.

[33:19] Bonus Tip: I share the 2 words you can use to redirect your employee to thinking about solutions or productive thoughts rather than complaining, blaming, or being defensive.

[34:00] Sim and I talk more about NLP and Hypnotherapy. What is it? How does it work?

[39:39] How did I get involved in Hypnotherapy?

[42:20] Sim and I discuss networking fatigue and exhaustion. I share how to make yourself magnetic so you don’t have to go after people to network and meet them.

[49:40] I share an alternative to large scale networking that offers a more focused and intentional approach to building relationships.

[52:00] Networking in larger cities (comparing London to New York City)

Subscribe to The Artful Worker Podcast and leave a review to help more people find this interview.

Top 6 Tips to Get More Done Every Day

If you are wondering how you can stop feeling unproductive and guilty for not getting more done each day, these 6 tips are for you!

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You probably naturally have a lot of ideas. When you first come up with an idea you feel this rush of adrenaline and excitement about it! Then as time passes, doubt starts to creep in. You might start to wonder how you are going to execute it. Maybe you start putting a plan into action and you hit a roadblock. Then you want to give up because it gets hard. Or maybe you tell a few people about it and they crush it before it ever had a chance to come to life. That is how we all start right? With just one idea...a spark that breathes life into us.

Let's say you made it over all of those initial obstacles. As time passes, we put some systems in place to be able to keep going, we have pushed ourselves outside of our comfort zones! We feel like we are really winning! Things that used to make us uncomfortable become comfortable and we aren't quite sure where to go from here. We can't really put a word to what we are feeling - is it bored? 

The initial adrenaline rush, the spark, has gone and we don't really feel like we are growing anymore. Does that make us unsuccessful? We get restless and start looking for things to change - do we change our branding? Do we look to redesign our website? 

What we are looking to "fix" is not really broken though! Your website is great! Your branding has gotten you this far! What you are looking for is to be pushed outside of your comfort zone again. The problem is you aren't sure where to go from here. You are on an unpaved path and there is nobody there to tell you which way to go. You feel stuck.

Does this sound like you?

I have been there too! It is so frustrating when you know that you are capable of so much and you are having trouble taking action.

HERE IS WHAT I DID TO GO FROM "THERE AREN'T ENOUGH HOURS IN THE DAY" 
TO "I AM CRUSHING MY GOALS!":

1. DITCH THE NEVER-ENDING TO DO LIST. 

When you make a list, you usually keep adding to it right? So you never feel like you have gotten anything accomplished because you keep going back to the same list and it never ends. Even if you got 10 things done that day you are still focusing on the things you didn’t get done and it makes you feel like you haven’t accomplished anything.

They say you should only focus on ONE big goal each day and that multitasking decreases productivity. As high achievers, I have to say that we probably wouldn’t be satisfied with only accomplishing one thing each day so I prefer to have three goals for each day. Here is how I break it down:

·     The first goal I set is something difficult or time-consuming. This is usually something I have been avoiding or something that pushes me out of my comfort zone. It is something that I really do not want to do, but it is usually something that is going to have a return on my time investment if I just do it.

·     The second goal I set is something easy. This is something that I know is going to take me less than an hour to complete. After I do the difficult thing, I need a quick win. This quick win pushes us over the halfway point in our to-do lists and tricks our minds into getting that “second wind” or burst of energy because we are almost done with everything we set out to do! [Yay!]

·     The third goal is something FUN! It is the reason why I created my business in the first place, it is something I really enjoy doing and maybe even my absolute favorite part of being an entrepreneur. Remember when you first started and there was that one thing you did that really set your soul on fire? Or maybe your new and this is the thing you could spend hours and hours doing. This is like a reward! The faster you get the first two things crossed off your to do list, the more time you get to spend on this last goal.

Why do I break it down like this?

Have you ever ran a marathon? Ok, me neither - but I can only imagine what it would be like. Here is how I envision it going: The first mile is energizing! You feel the wind on your face, you feel on top of the world, you have been pacing yourself and everything is going smoothly just like you planned. About 5 miles in you start to feel the burn a little bit, but you are still on that high of running a marathon and crossing something off of your bucket list.

Then you get about ¾ of the way through the race and you want to die! Your legs might fall off. You are miserable. You are hangry. You are tired. You want to give up, but you know you didn’t come this far to only come this far. You stop looking for the finish line because it will drive you crazy, and you focus only on putting one foot in front of the other and taking that next step. You know the finish line is there somewhere and if you just keep moving eventually you will see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Nobody gets a medal for stopping before they reach the finish line so if you quit now you have just wasted all of the effort that you have put into the part of the race that you have already completed. Then, you get to the finish line and you want to collapse but you are happy! You finished something you had started and when it got difficult you didn’t give up! Go you!

2. TURN OFF SOCIAL MEDIA NOTIFICATIONS.

There is no such thing as a Facebook emergency (or an Instagram emergency, or any social media emergency). If you do not respond to every comment or know how many likes you have or track how many new followers you just got, you are going to be okay. In fact, checking those things 24/7 will make you really anxious and distract you from other important things you should be doing for your business.

3. SET "OFFICE HOURS" WHERE YOU HAVE ZERO DISTRACTIONS.

If you know that you have certain hours of the day where you have “downtime” or fewer distractions, set your office hours during that time. For example, I have women in my online community who are momtrepreneurs and they schedule their super productive time when their children are napping. It is important to recognize when you have more distractions or more obligations and to not try to be productive during those hours. Plus, blocking out time to work will actually make you more productive!

It is easier to do things fast than it is to things slowly. Remember the last time you had all weekend to clean your house and you find yourself sitting down on Sunday evening wondering where all of your time went and how you haven’t done one thing to tidy up around your house? However, if someone calls you on a weeknight and says they will be over in an hour suddenly you can clean your entire house and make it look like nobody lives there in 45 minutes. It is easier to do things when you give yourself a time limit or a deadline whether you are a procrastinator or not.

4. PAY ATTENTION TO HOW LONG TASKS NORMALLY TAKE YOU SO YOU CAN SCHEDULE THEM APPROPRIATELY IN THE FUTURE.

It is bound to happen sooner or later - you are going to try something new and it is going to take you twice as long as you thought it would. Sometimes you run into some technical difficulties or you find that you thought it was going to be simple and you end up getting sucked into a Google search trying to teach yourself something you have never heard of before. You live and you learn. Forgive yourself for not knowing and don’t be hard on yourself for being less productive than you thought you would be. This is all a part of the process!

Do you remember the first time you did laundry? You had no idea how long it was going to take if the washing machine didn’t have a timer on it. You probably also shrank a few shirts, lost some socks, and maybe even forgot to check your pockets and had a pen explode all over everything. Over time you learned how to multitask in between loads of laundry or found a nice wash and fold to drop things off at for someone else to do it, but my point is you learned how to do it more efficiently with time. Plus, you learned not to keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

5. DO SOMETHING NON-WORK RELATED WHEN YOU WAKE UP IN THE MORNING.

Who needs to be called out for grabbing their phone first thing in the morning because it doubles as your alarm clock and then you spend the next 2 hours working from bed answering emails and checking social media? Try to start a new morning routine! Get out of bed, open the curtains, let the sunshine in, drink your water with lemon, meditate, practice gratitude, whatever it is that you want to do that is not related to your business - do that for at least 10 minutes first thing in the morning. Be present. Your e-mails can wait 10 minutes and it will help you wake up on the “right” side of the bed.

6. TAKE BREAKS.

It is so important to get away from your desk, walk around, and get some fresh air. If you work from home, maybe you just need to walk around the block every once in a while or schedule some in-person meetings instead of always meeting on the phone so that you are getting out of your home at least once a day. Sometimes as creatives we get on a role and we don’t want to stop what we are doing, but if it gets to the point where your “role” has lasted 3 days and you don’t remember what day of the week it is then it might be time to get out and take a break.

Looking for a customized plan to help you get focused, be more productive, and build momentum in your business? 

Tara's clients report "getting more done in 3 weeks then the last 3 years of unproductive work"! 

The One Thing VCs Agree On When Investing In A Startup

When you start pitching investors to raise money for your startup, it can feel like you are getting mixed signals. In my latest contribution to the Six Degrees Society blog, I share one thing you can do that will help your startup stand out no matter who you are pitching.

 Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Click here to read the blog.

Are you looking for help with your startup pitch? Click here to find out how you can work with Tara. 

What You Need To Know When Making An Important Decision

Here are 5 steps you should go through before making any important decisions so you can avoid regretting your decision later and you can try to avoid learning things 'the hard way'.

 Antonio Damasio is seen here during his TEDtalk on  The Quest to Understand Consciousness   (Photo Credit: TED)

Antonio Damasio is seen here during his TEDtalk on The Quest to Understand Consciousness (Photo Credit: TED)

As much as you would like to believe you are a very logical person and you do what is best for your business based on facts and data, your emotions also play an important role in decision making even if you think you are not an emotional person.

In his book Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio discusses one of his most well-known cases: a successful businessman, loving father, and husband whose life fell apart after he underwent brain surgery to remove a tumor. The surgery did not affect his IQ, but it did affect the part of his brain that controls emotions. After his surgery he struggled to make decisions, and as a result lost everything.

Damasio’s groundbreaking research proves that emotions are very closely tied to thought and reasoning, especially when our decisions involve social or personal matters.

As a society when we describe someone as “emotional” it is often a criticism of an individual’s judgment, when in fact we need our emotions as guides to help us make the right decisions for us. This societal belief about emotions has made us perceive them as a bad thing and has created a culture where we ignore negative feelings, sweep them under the rug, and feel ashamed if we have to go to therapy to help us get through a rough patch. That shame and embarrassment is holding us back from using our emotions (both the good and the bad) to consciously guide our decision making process.

Here are the steps I walk my clients through when they are faced with an important (and oftentimes life-changing) decision:

1.    Pause.

This is perhaps the most difficult one for the successful, ambitious, high-profile individual who thrives on crossing things off a to-do list and making things happen. It can feel even more uncomfortable than the emotion itself, but by the time they get to the point where they are ready to make a decision and react to the trigger, they are always glad they waited because their decision often changes as they go through the next steps.

2.    Notice the emotion.

Once you get over the discomfort of feeling impatient and uneasy, lean in to the emotion. Notice what it feels like and where in your body you are feeling it. You know that saying, “trust your gut”? This is what it is referring to. Usually a gut feeling is a warning that you are supposed to stop and maybe not go through with the decision you are about to make.

Remember a time where you may have felt this feeling before. We store memories in our mind so we can access them when we are faced with similar situations in the future. If you have felt this before, it might remind you of a situation where you may or may not have made the right decision in the past.

If you haven’t felt this before then it may be triggering the part of your brain that is signaling something dangerous is happening and you may feel like you need to fight (or get angry) and run away (or reject the idea).

3.    Collect more information.

Now that you have identified the emotion, tried to process what it is trying to tell you, and paused to reassure your mind that you are not in immediate danger, you can breathe. Think about the possible outcomes of this situation. It can be helpful to write them down.

If you are deciding between two options, write down the pros and cons of each of them. Then ask yourself what specifically you are hoping to achieve with each possible decision. Looking at the options, determine whether or not either or both of those decisions could get you to that specific outcome.

If you need help coming up with the possible options here, it can be helpful to confide in someone who has either been through what you are going through in the past and ask them how they resolved it, or to confide in a trusted confidante who can help you remove bias from the situation.

4.    Acknowledge your belief system.

Whether you know it or not, your emotions are reflecting your internal belief system to you. When something makes you feel uneasy it is because there is a part of you that is in conflict with that decision. It can be helpful to ask yourself, “For what purpose do I want to make this decision?” to check in and see if your decision is aligned with your beliefs.

5.    Weigh your options.

Take all of the information you have collected both rationally and emotionally to evaluate your options. Sometimes assigning a value to each of the pros on your list in number 3 can also help you quantify your decision if you still do not know which is the appropriate decision for you.

Are you looking for a trusted confidante to help you work through a difficult decision? Click here to find out how you can work with Tara. 

Do You Perceive Stress As Negative Or Positive

There are three main factors to consider when determining whether or not you view stress as negative or positive.

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By the time most executives reach out to me to work together they are using the words “stressed,” “overwhelmed,” “trapped,” “demands,” and “pressure” to describe their current situation.

They have been coping with stress most of their career. The problem is, it has become negative stress instead of positive stress, which leaves them feeling like they are no longer in control of their situations.

Entrepreneurs, CEOs, business owners, startup founders, and other leaders are typically in those roles because they have perceived stress as positive for most of their lives. They look at a stressful situation as a problem to solve and they thrive on solutions.

These stressful situations can become negative most often during major transitions in business such as periods of rapid growth or liquidity events. Initially, it can be seen as a positive event because it means your company is growing and seeing success, but the deeper you get into the strategy the more important it becomes for you to evaluate your stress response to what is happening.

Click here to find the three questions you can ask yourself to assess how you are going to respond to an upcoming stressful event.

How do I trust my Co-Founder again after he drops the ball on an important meeting?

Occasionally my readers will send me requests for topics they would like to see me write about on my blog. The following is a question from a reader.

 Photo Credit: Pexels

Photo Credit: Pexels

Dear Tara, 

My company is going through a rapid growth phase and I had to delegate an important meeting to my because I couldn’t be in two places at the same time. The meeting was with a big client and it was a relationship I had been working on for a long time. I feel like my Co-Founder/COO knew how important it was for the company that this meeting go well so I was extremely disappointed and angry when I got out of my meeting and found a voicemail from the client asking me if everything was okay because my COO missed the meeting. I was able to reschedule the meeting, but now I feel like I have to do everything myself if I want it to be done correctly. How can I trust my second in command to handle situations like this in the future as the company continues to grow?

Signed,
Growing Pains

---

Dear Growing,

It is such an exciting time in your business knowing that you are about to reach a new level. You would not have gotten this far if you didn’t have a dedicated team of people working together to push the company forward. It is normal to feel like there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything on your “to do” list, so please take a moment to acknowledge yourself for finding solutions through delegation.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20 so you can look back and say things like, “I should have never trusted him to take the meeting for me.” Instead of shaming yourself for not doing everything yourself, try asking yourself “How can I close the communication loop on important tasks I delegate to others in the future?” because chances are you are going to have to delegate things to other people more and more as your business grows.

While you can’t change how you reacted to this situation, you can learn from it moving forward.

First, recognize that you both had the best intentions. Your COO intended to take the meeting and make it a success. At the same time, maybe you intended to let him take on a bigger role so he could grow with you and the company.

Second, think about what you really want to accomplish. I don’t think you want to belittle him or make him feel bad for dropping the ball. What you want is for him to take ownership of the company the way you do. The company is your baby and you would stop a moving train to protect it. You want everyone in your company to be that passionate about your baby.

So, how do you do that?

You are on the right track with wanting to delegate things and while delegation came from a place of necessity this time because you are overwhelmed, in the future it can come from a place of allowing other employees to feel accountable for the success of the company.

Here are some steps you can take in the future to ensure that tasks are delegated successfully:

1.     Understand your priorities and communicate them consistently. This meeting was extremely important to you and it won’t be the first or the last time you have to delegate something that is critical to the development of the business. One way you can communicate this is by color coding a shared calendar. For example, you can put high priority tasks in red, secondary priority tasks in yellow, and lower priority tasks in green. Another way to communicate priorities in writing could be in the e-mail subject line. P1 could mean top priority, P2 secondary priority, and P3 low priority. Find a system that works for your organization.

2.     Once you establish the various levels of priority, define what each of them means. How quickly do you expect a top priority task to be completed? Which employees within the organization is it appropriate to delegate a top priority task to? How will you close the loop of communication? For low priority tasks it may be appropriate to close the loop by sending an email that says, “Done.” For high priority tasks you may want to schedule a meeting on your calendar to debrief right after the task is set to be completed.

3.     Be open to teaching. Most skills can be learned, so don’t be afraid to delegate something to someone who may have never done the task before. Be sure you take the time to ask them if they understand how to perform the task, give them the opportunity to ask questions, and ensure they understood what you were asking them to do by having them teach it back to you before you perform it.

4.     Check-in with the person you’ve delegated the task to. In this situation, you delegated a high priority task. The morning of the meeting it would have been appropriate to check in with your COO and ensure that he was prepared for the meeting. In other situations you may want to check-in periodically to make sure the tasks that have been delegated are moving forward. The key to checking in is to avoid stepping in to tell your employees how to perform the task. Trust them to execute it.

5.     Close the loop. Be sure you have a system and structure for how you will execute #2. During this time it is also appropriate to ask your employee what he or she thought went really well and what the opportunities for improvement are.

want more tips on how to have difficult conversations?

How To Improve Your Relationship With Time

Here are 3 ways you can take control of how you are spending your time instead of feeling like your calendar controls you.

 Photo: Pixabay

Photo: Pixabay

In the beginning when your business is just an idea you might feel like time is passing very slowly. You are stuck and you haven’t quite built up the confidence yet to get started. You know you want to, but there is something holding you back. You feel like your idea actually turning into a business is so far away and out of reach.

Fast forward to after you get started and suddenly you are juggling what feels like 100 different things. You start to feel like there is not enough time to do everything you want to do. You wake up early and stay up late and 4 hours of sleep becomes the new normal. You begin learning faster than you can implement things in your business and you feel like you are constantly behind. Your to do list becomes increasingly longer. You stop doing things that you used to enjoy doing because your business is your priority.

Of course you want to build momentum in your business so that you can get it off the ground, but at some point you have to stop and make sure you are finding a balance.

We read books and listen to podcasts that tell us to do more and to be better. The truth is, if you are starting a business and working a full time job while trying to balance your entire life around it then you are already doing more.

Let’s take a step back and look at where the idea that there is not enough time comes from.

·     Did your parents or grandparents ever say, “The early bird gets the worm”?

·     Did your parents ever tell you that they didn’t have time to do something with you?

·     Have you ever told your friends that you can’t hang out with them because you’re too busy?

·     Has anyone ever asked you, “Is that really what you want to spend your time doing”?

·     Have you ever heard the saying, “Time is slipping away”?

We learn that time is precious and it should be spent wisely. We also learn that there isn’t always enough time to do the things we want to do, but we always make time for things that are necessary. Have you ever seen a child ask their parent if they could go to the park and play and the parent responds that they don’t have time, but maybe tomorrow. On the other hand, if a child falls down and hurts themselves then their parent will drop what they are doing and come to the rescue.

Let’s go back to our businesses now. We have created a vision for where we want our business to be and now we are racing to make that vision a reality as soon as possible. But, do you remember why you started your business in the first place? Wasn’t it because it made you happy?

If you look at the leaders in your industry who have been doing this longer than you, do you think that they got to the top and then decided they were done? No. If you are lucky enough to find something that you love doing, something that sets your soul on fire, then wouldn’t you want to do it forever?

If you know that you want to be an entrepreneur forever then you no longer need to race against time. You need to trust that your business will evolve into what it is meant to be as long as you are consistently putting forth an effort.

If you continue to go down the path of racing to the top then you will end up feeling exhausted, uninspired, overwhelmed, and burned out. I know because I did this. My wake-up call was when I took a vacation from my job so that I could work on my side hustle and I had no energy to do anything. I basically slept for an entire week.

WHEN YOU STOP LETTING TIME DECIDE WHAT YOU WILL DO AND START DECIDING THAT YOU ARE ACTUALLY IN CONTROL OF TIME THEN YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE AN ABUNDANCE OF IT.

Here are 3 ways you can take charge of time and stop letting it control you:

1. Replace the word “busy” with “productive”.

Think about what the word “busy” means to you and notice your energy levels, your posture, and your mood when you say that word. It feels like such a downer, doesn’t it? Now think about how you feel when you say the word “productive”. It feels like you have achieved something or created something! So catch yourself when you are using the word “busy” and replace it with the word “productive”. If you find yourself using the word “busy” often then think about what it is actually doing. Saying you are busy is enabling procrastination, holding you back, and keeping you stuck. “Busy” can turn into a distraction that keeps you from doing the things you need to be doing to propel yourself and your business forward.

Let me introduce you to one of the most important words you will ever think or say: “yet”. If you add that to the end of a sentence you will feel less overwhelmed and more hopeful. You will know that you can solve any problem and you can learn any new skill. Repeat after me, “I haven’t learned that, yet.”

2. Be proud!

Studies have shown that having pride in your work actually makes you work twice as hard. There are two different kinds of pride and while we might be taught that it is a deadly sin, there are actually benefits to pride when it comes from a genuine place. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you feel more confident celebrating your pride:

·     Are you proud because you tried something new that you never thought you would be able to do? (*hint: you are only competing with yourself)

·     Does your pride come from a place of compassion? Maybe you are proud of something you did that benefited those around you.

·     Did you work really hard and put in a lot of effort to achieve it?

·     Does it motivate you to want to do more?

If you answered "YES!" to any of these (or all of them) then shout yourself out!

For more information on this study you can read Take Pride by Jessica Tracy.

3. Recognize the days of the week and times of day that you are most creative.

Work on your business during those times. There is no rule that says your week is supposed to start on a Monday and that you are supposed to dread that day. My week starts on Wednesday because I have found that I have the most energy at the end of the week. Mondays and Tuesdays I usually have less energy so I am sure to set aside time to do something that fills my cup on those days.

While it might be quicker to go down the path that has been paved for you, it might be worth it to take your time paving your own. Just as we learn to be present in our lives, it is equally as important to be present in our businesses and enjoy the journey.

How to Network at an Event Without Feeling Drained of Your Energy

Here are 6 easy things introverts can immediately start doing to improve their experience at events.

 Photo by: Phillip Van Nostrand

Photo by: Phillip Van Nostrand

How many times have you been invited to an event and the big day arrives, but a couple hours before it begins you find yourself dreading it?

You start thinking of all of the reasons why you can’t make it.

You wonder if anyone will notice if you don’t show up.

You wonder if you'll have anything in common with the people you are about to spend a few hours with.

You decide to go because you worry you feel like you have to make an appearance.

In the past, you may have found yourself experiencing the following:

  • Standing on the edges of the room by yourself wondering how soon after arriving is too early to depart;
  • Avoiding making eye contact with anyone because you don’t know what to talk about; or
  • Looking at your phone so nobody wonders why you’re standing off to the side of the room by yourself.

And if you do get brave and decide to walk up to a group of people who looks friendly, you find yourself in one of two situations. The first involves you standing there smiling and nodding. The second occurs when they turn to you and someone asks you a question. This one question can send you into sharing a story that goes on for so long that you even get tired of the sound of your own voice. This is the opposite of what you wanted but your fear of awkward silence has suddenly made you the center of attention.

You leave the event feeling exhausted and drained after meeting a number of people who you aren’t even sure if you should follow up with because you don’t feel like it was a positive experience. You even swear off events forever on your way home and write them off as a waste of time and energy. You also consider the possibility of not leaving your home for the next 5 days so you can recharge.

Here are 6 things you can start doing immediately to make yourself magnetic (and dare I say energized) while attending events:

  1. Set an intention before the event. Ask yourself: what would make this event great? Would it be meeting someone from a particular industry? Or introducing yourself to someone whose work you admire? Whatever it is, have that in mind before you arrive so you know exactly what you need to do to make the event a success.
  2. Be curious about other people and go into the event thinking that no matter who you meet they have something to teach you. When you approach people from a place of curiosity rather than a place of anxiety, you will intuitively know which questions to ask them to keep the conversation flowing naturally.
  3. Prepare a list of 4 questions you can ask anyone you meet no matter who they are and memorize them so you always have something to say. I like to start with, “What is something you are really excited about right now?” This question automatically stands out because typically the first question people ask at events is, "What do you do?"
  4. Network ‘outside of the box’. Try going to events where you won’t meet anyone from your current industry to practice getting comfortable around groups of people. This does 2 things. It prevents you from only speaking to people you know and it makes people curious about you. For instance, if you’re at an event in the finance industry and your occupation is in healthcare then people are going to naturally wonder why you are there. You won’t have to worry what to say because they will be asking you thoughtful questions. The group will naturally want to make you feel comfortable and welcome in this situation because most people would consider what you are doing really brave. As a result, the conversations will be geared towards topics that they think you would feel comfortable talking about.
  5. Be helpful. If you see someone standing on the outskirts of the room, looking down, who is alone, walk over to him or her and smile and introduce yourself. Chances are they will be relieved you said, "Hello." You can even break the ice by mentioning that you don’t know anyone there and ask how that person heard about the event to get the conversation started. It is likely you will have a lot in common with that person, because you have stood in his or her shoes in the past.
  6. Be conscientious of your body language. Two of the most important things you can do are smile and don’t cross your arms. If you want to take this a bit further, think about the body language someone displays when they are confident, approachable, and friendly. You can contrast it in your mind with the body language someone might display if they are unapproachable. Adopt the body language of that person you thought of who is confident.

are you exhausted after conferences because you spent all day trying to meet new people in the same industry as you?

How do I give negative feedback without making people defensive?

Occasionally my readers will send me requests for topics they would like to see me write about on my blog. The following is a question from a reader.

 Photo Credit: Pexels

Photo Credit: Pexels

Dear Tara,

I’m looking at a new job promotion in a leadership role. At this time I feel I need help learning how to speak to people respectfully and without sounding bossy. To be honest, I am scared people won’t listen to me when I try to help them make their jobs better.

Signed,

Compassionate Leader


Dear Compassionate,

Congratulations on taking the next step in your career! It is wonderful that you have such a big heart and you want to help develop your employees so they can succeed in their roles. A lot of times we worry about sounding bossy or disrespectful because we have had managers who made us feel disrespected when we have received negative feedback in the past. This is referred to as a fear based leadership style. It is very hierarchical and designed to make employees produce quality work out of fear of being reprimanded. It doesn’t leave employees feeling motivated, uplifted, or competent.

There are many things you can do to create a different workplace experience for your staff. The first thing is to recognize that you don’t want to lead in this way, which you have already done by asking for help. Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It sounds like you want to make people feel respected, comfortable talking to you and asking for help, and motivated to improve upon their work.

If you continue to base your leadership style off of your past experiences and you focus on being afraid of being bossy, then your natural response will be to avoid communication until it becomes a big enough issue that the conversation will be punitive for the employee. Ultimately a self-fulfilling prophecy for the exact scenario you want to avoid. This is a common occurrence when we have the best intentions and we don’t have the framework, the experience, or the skills to be able to change the way we want to be perceived. That also means you have to be willing to go outside of your comfort zone (and stay there consistently, especially when it gets really uncomfortable) to initiate these difficult conversations.

One way you can consistently communicate with your staff is through scheduling regular, expected times to meet with them. This can be done through team meetings after the completion of a project to evaluate its effectiveness, monthly staff meetings to discuss whether or not monthly goals have been met, and one on one meetings with your team leaders. If you have a large staff, it may not be possible to meet one on one with employees often (such as monthly) so in these cases, you will want to make sure you call meetings with them for positive reinforcement just as much as constructive feedback. You will know best what will work within your organization for delivering feedback when it comes to how it is delivered and how often. The important part is that you manage expectations for how this will be done so it is a habit and becomes part of the culture.

If you are working your way up through the company it is also highly likely that you have a good understanding of the work your employees are being expected to do. It’s important as a leader to be able to put yourself in their shoes and see the situation through their eyes. If you aren’t sure about what it is like to be in their shoes then it doesn’t hurt to ask open ended questions to clarify where a breakdown in the system, the employee’s education, or the communication may be occurring. This will also help you collect more information about the situation so you can give feedback that is both relevant and easy to understand by your employee.

If you aren’t in the habit of initiating a conversation where you give feedback, it can be difficult to change for both you and your employees. Since you are planning to start a new position in management, it will be important for you to manage expectations from the beginning about how you want to communicate with your employees. This means you will want to encourage employees to evaluate their progress during and at the end of specific projects as well as after taking on any new responsibilities. Get in the habit of making everything an opportunity for growth, development, and learning by including questions like “What are some areas for improvement or growth?” or “What can we learn from this experience?” The intention behind those questions doesn’t have to be pointing out when something goes wrong.

Lastly, you want to assume your employees didn’t wake up that morning and say, “I hope I go to work today and do a really bad job so my boss yells at me.” Give them the benefit of the doubt, allow them to try to improve upon the situation, and communicate openly along the way so they can be successful in turning the situation around before it gets to a point where you have to give a warning or document that they are not performing. Then if you do have to get to a point where you need to write up an incident, it will not catch them off guard and trigger a defensive response.

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