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The Confidence Trap: Do you need to be confident to be successful?

I was recently talking to a very senior woman in a large company who asked me, when will she stop doubting herself and have confidence in both themselves and their capability?  At this point I would like to contextualise this conversation and say that they are highly respected within their organisation and industry, and externally you would never expect to hear such a statement or question from her.

There is a perception that part of what defines success (apart from achieving goals and financial gain) is the feeling of confidence.  Success is sometimes portrayed by jumping up in the air, air punching, straight backs and a confident stance. I know that this is a HUGE generalisation but to some extent it is true.

After reflecting upon the conversation, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you about it.

1. In business you are in a constant state of change, flux and growth. This results in being out of your comfort zone, pushing yourself to do things differently and risk. None of these scenarios is a place of knowing, quite the opposite. When defining confidence, it is the knowing that we can do something after we have repeatedly done something.  For example, public speaking.  The more you do it, the more comfortable you get because you have proved to yourself that you can do it and subsequent confidence grows over time.  However, the reality is we need to accept and welcome this feeling of the lack of confidence in our world if we are to be true explorers.

2. Self-belief. But all is not lost…at the core of our being we must nurture self-belief as this will be the engine that fuels us through all the changes, risk and beyond.

“If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?”

This is something I often refer to in my talks, as opposed to “fake it till you make it”.  Self-belief is essential, as it will sustain you through all the ups and downs of your career journey (and life journey for that matter).  Self-belief is the quiet voice that says to you as you go to pitch your idea to your boss, raise your hand for a promotion, make a presentation that you can do this.  You may not have done it before but it doesn’t mean that you are not able. None of these situations require confidence, they require your self-belief.

3. Impostor syndrome. This is a big one. Some of the most successful people suffer from this – the fear that they are not good enough or a fake, with thoughts like “when will they find out that I am not as good as they think I am”.  Like all fears, they are false evidence that appears as real.

False

Evidence

Appears

Real

It is a fear that must be overcome but the reality is there are bucket loads of CEOs, high level executives and wildly successful people that suffer from impostor syndrome.

My overall reflection is that all these 3 areas that I have shared with you are internal.  It is our mindset, our thought processes; it is what we tell ourselves, our values and beliefs.  And despite lacking confidence I will say that most successful people do not walk around confident all the time, as based on the general perception. We need to look inwards to our self-belief.  To believe we are worthy of success and rid ourselves of the impostor syndrome.  And continue step by step, day by day walking in the directions of our goals and dreams for ourselves.

The advertising industry aren’t all bad, but part of a bigger problem

In recent weeks, light has been shone on the advertising and communications industry on gender diversity with Kevin Roberts, ex-Executive Chairman of Saatchi and Saatchi said in an interview that in regard to gender equality in the ad industry “the f—ing debate is all over” and he doesn’t spend “any time” on the issue at his company.  Swift action was made, he lost his job and Saatchi & Saatchi quickly distanced themselves saying that they do not tolerate anyone speaking for our organisation who does not value the importance of inclusion.  It is no secret that the advertising haven’t been doing well in that space for a while.  Bec Brideson, Founder of her own agency, Global Marketing Women and Influencer within the advertising industry, wrote a great  piece highlighting the statistics that sit behind the industry.  Everyone was shocked and heads shook from side to side, and faint sounds of tsk tsk could be heard.

It was compounded by another event here in Australia by Surungi Emily Hohol whose post went viral around her discriminatory experiences at another agency.  It is clear that discrimination still exists, which is why I am proud to represent FlexCareers on the Recruit Smarter Pilot which is a group of key members of the recruitment industry including the peak recruitment industry body, Recruitment & Consultant Services Association (RCSA) coming together with corporates including Westpac and PWC and Government Agencies to find better ways to recruit smarter and avoid unconscious bias.

There were a number of great articles and opinion pieces written about all of this at the time however since then I have been privileged to have had conversations with members of the advertising and communications industry including their peak body, The Communications Council and agencies including Ogilvy and Saatchi and Saatchi to name a few.  A number of them reached out to me at FlexCareers as they saw that we could assist them in this challenge.  What these conversations showed me is that they are challenged by exactly the same thing as those in banking and finance, mining and construction, professional services, netball….stop, what…yes I wrote netball.  The fact is this conversation of unconscious bias/ gender diversity and diversity in general goes across all industries in a work aspect as well as into the sporting space.

Let me explain.

Recently, I was giving a talk to a group of post-graduate students at University of New South Wales on inclusive leadership and focused on unconscious bias as being one of the reasons why there aren’t more female leaders (disputing the good old chestnut that women just aren’t ambitious).  This is a common experience across the majority of industries.  In the Q&A part of the session, a man put up his hand and began to explain that he sits on the selection committee for girls’ netball teams (and yes I mean girls aged 8 – 18, not women that are referred to as girls, but that is another blog for another time).  He said that their selection criteria for the judges is purely based on physical capability not how someone looks (i.e. speed, number of goals etc), but why is it that the sport continues to be dominated by tall and usually blond girls? He asked, is unconscious bias at play? In short the answer is yes.  Like in leadership, when you see what is the norm, someone who doesn’t fit that mould chooses either break that mould and be a trail-blazer or what normally happens is that people opt out and find something else.  Subsequently the Chinese and Indigenous girls or whomever doesn’t fit the mould don’t get to the top not because of a lack of ability but because they don’t see many (or any) girls like them on Saturday morning sports so over time, they stop trying and opt out.  This is a broad sweeping statement but it is true.  Just take a look at who is playing netball.

This scenario being played out on the netball courts is not far off that of the boardroom.  How?  Because when you ask yourself the question, what does the typical netballer look like, there is a ‘type’ that usually comes to mind.  When you think about a leader in business, there is a ‘type’ that comes to mind.  These types create what is known as a ‘stereotype’.  How is this relevant to the advertising and communications industry, well my observation is that so much of what we are dealing with is not industry specific but a reflection of a much deeper problem of equality and a lack of.  An inequality to particularly women, however this can easily be extended to cultural, LGBTI and more.  One industry is not the devil when it comes to discriminatory practices – yes some can be worse than others.  But countless stories circulate across all industries of the challenges of women trying to return to work after caring for children, people from non-Anglo-Saxon backgrounds being discriminated based on the colour of their skin, or people being judged because of their sexual orientation.

Each and every one of us has the responsibility to become aware of this.  The main antidote of unconscious bias is to shift from unconscious to conscious and become aware of the biases within ourselves and how they impact those less privileged around us.  As Dr Michael Kimmel says in his TED talk, privilege masks inequality, you just don’t see it until you are aware of it.

 

Natalie Goldman is CEO of FlexCareers, a disruptive online talent-matching platform connecting career women with progressive employers offering flexible work. FlexCareers is redefining careers by challenging convention and leading the future of talent matching and career support. 

 If you are looking for a flexible role or looking for great talent, connect with FlexCareers.

 Like what you read?  Please share this with your tribe.

 

How to give 100% even when you don’t FEEL 100%

Not feeling 100%?  It is hard to maintain, all the time.  Eat well, drink water, exercise and sleep more…all simple enough but when life happens we start to lose focus and comfort eat, skip our exercise or forget to drink water.  Many of us want to feel 100% all the time.  And if we don’t then this is the beginning of the end.  Well maybe not so dramatic but sometimes we start using this as an excuse for not giving 100%.

A few years ago I had a big conference presentation to make.  I was all prepared when one of my kids became mildly unwell.  My husband agreed to look after him as I had to travel to the conference.  On top of that there were a lot of things going on in many aspects of my life that were potentially distracting but when I got up on that stage in front of 1000 people I put everything aside and gave it 100%…I had to.  I couldn’t explain my way as to why I could only give them 80%.  It just doesn’t work like that.

So two key words I would like to focus on.  Feel and give.  If you look back to what I just wrote, I wrote ‘not feeling 100%’ and ‘giving 100%’.  Why is this so important?  Because when we don’t feel 100% we use it as an excuse for not giving 100%.

So how can you change your internal voice when it comes to shifting your mind on this?

  1. Accept. It is ok not to be 100% every day. Be kind to yourself.  Between our many responsibilities let alone our businesses, we are only human and have good days and bad days.  That is just the way it is.
  1. Acknowledge. Reflect on why are you not 100%. Is it emotional or physical?  If emotional, we need time to understand, digest, resolve many issues in our lives and sometimes it can make us feel ‘meh’.  That’s OK.  Talk about it with someone or write it down.  Sometimes just by acknowledging it’s existence is all it needed and you carry on with your day.  If physical, maybe there is something you can do about it.  Eat better, move more or rest more.  Somewhat simplistic I know but simple can be good too.
  1. Let Go. Don’t stew. This doesn’t help anyone.  Through accepting and acknowledging you are recognising what is bringing you down from your A Game – it may even be more that 1 thing.  That is fine.  By focusing on it, won’t change the situation, if not it will only get worse.  If we focus on negativity, it breeds negativity by creating a negative paradigm on how we see the world.  Simultaneously by focusing on positivity, we create a positive paradigm on how we see the world.  So let go.
  1. Change Gears. Just because you don’t feel 100% doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it your all. Yes, you need to work harder and be more self-motivated but by saying that you can’t give 100% because of how you feel – that is just an excuse.  In your business it is all up to you.  If you don’t give it 100% each and every time you won’t succeed.  So don’t make excuses for yourself.  Change your mental gears and accept and acknowledge how you feel.  Then let it go.  So now you are ready to just go and give it all you have irrespective of how you feel.
  1. Show up. No matter your role, you have to be “on show” each and every time for your clients. I think of it like I am going on stage to give a performance.  I don’t have a stage name like Beyoncé, hers is Sasha Fierce, but that could work for you.  The point being is that when you don’t feel 100% but need to give 100% you can imagine that you need to push yourself by being on stage to help carry you through your day.
  1. On a serious note. What I am talking about here is not when you are very sick.  In these instances you should rest and take care of yourself.  Furthermore, if you feel that what you are experiencing is more than just a dip in your day-to-day life, I strongly encourage for you to seek professional help.  We all have times in our lives when we are challenged by serious matters and we can’t do it alone.

What do you do to give 100% even when you don’t feel 100%?

Facebook Live… tried and tested – what I learnt

Last night was my first Facebook Live event.  It is an exciting new functionality of Facebook that is essentially a live stream or webinar to whomever is watching at the time (hence the term ‘Live’) but it can also be recorded and then shared again.

These days, much of social media is leaning towards video content, especially on Facebook.  And for those of you who are using social media for business know that connecting with your community is essential to building trust with them, building your brand and presence. Facebook Live is a great enabler to producing your own content, for free.  It also can be done as an event where you promote to your community (and beyond).

So what did I learn from my experience last night?

Test. Our amazing head of marketing @FlexCareers, Lauren Hill, created a private Facebook group for me to go and test this feature out. This was our second go at FB Live, here is our first foray into this new media. It can only be done on a phone or tablet not on your laptop or PC (yet), but the whole point is that it is more casual and on the go.  Keeping your hand steady is helpful.

Be natural.  I know that sounds corny but this is not a major production, it is about having a chat with your people – connecting with them one on one.  So no scripts, talk from your heart.  Be authentic and you.  Was I nervous?  Sure.  It was a first for me and that always makes one apprehensive of the unknown, but I will definitely be doing it again.  I visualised that I was talking to a friend.

Lights, Camera, Action.  I know I just wrote that this is not a professional production but it is worth checking:

  • Background – does it look good?
  • Clothing – if you are doing this for a work purpose – think about what image do you want to present
  • Lighting – any big shadows?  No really, you want to put your best foot forward so make sure that lighting is your friend
  • Positioning – try to have the angle of your phone a little higher than you, always more flattering

Have fun.  Although it can be nerve wrecking to do a video, especially with it being live, however no-one is expecting this to Oscar level stuff.  Be yourself, have fun and enjoy the platform and what it has to offer.

In researching for my session I came across Live Map, which is a link to all the active Live sessions in real time anywhere in the world.  This is fascinating to me as I often think about what is going on in another part of the world, right now…and here is the answer.  I also found some additional useful tips on the FB page.
So go forth, play, have fun and give it a go!

 

 

 

How social media can be used for good not evil

 

I know that is a strong statement but it comes from a recent personal experience that I would like to share with you.

A few days ago a client sent me an image of a banner for an ad that she had seen in Thredbo.

 

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We both agreed that this would just not do. We both found it offensive suggesting that women/mothers are not as capable as men/fathers. Furthermore it suggests what is a normal family, i.e. father, mother and kids not taking into consideration single parents, widowers, LGBTI families and more. In short we thought that this ad to be poorly thought out and just not on.

So I set to task, sharing the image on social media to let as many people know about it with a clear intention to let Toyota know and get the banners removed and brought down.

And here is how it played out.

Sunday night. Shared the image on my Facebook Page, Company Page, Launch Pod group page and a few other group pages as well. It started gaining traction almost immediately but it wasn’t all support. There were some polarising comments but all very respectfully written.

Monday. Comments, likes, shares and re-tweets were all ablaze! By the afternoon a journalist had picked up on the story and by 6pm it had been published, stating that Toyota had removed the offending banners. Success!

Tuesday morning. Awoke to more media channels having picked up the story even in the UK. Clearly it had sparked interest.

Within a very short period of time we managed to get our voices heard and affect change. How good is that?

But with good comes bad. I started receiving tweets directed at me. Horrible tweets. And then I had a look at the comments on the website of the media channels…I was shaken to the core about what they said about me and my client. Just horrible. So I stopped reading them.

It got me thinking. When you stick your neck out people will always want to cut you down. Even more so when you are a woman. A vocal strong woman confronts the norm. I started thinking about how people who live in the spotlight must feel. Even though this experience had been brief, I reflected on how vulnerable and exposed it made me feel. It made me even more grateful for the amazing people who have stuck their neck out way more than I had to affect big change. I wonder how exposed and vulnerable they would have felt?

Either way it felt good to make a difference. And as for the haters, well I turned my back on them. They are cowards that hide behind their computers and phones. I will not let them get to me. I am all for open discourse and sharing of one’s opinions…like in the Facebook groups I mentioned before – not everyone agreed with my opinion. And that is fine, as they did it respectfully. It was those tweeting me personally or making comments on public feeds that really got vicious. I have no time or respect for faceless cowards.

Our voices will not be silenced. I feel privileged to be able to share my opinions and make a positive impact.

Here is someone’s amendment to the image:

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#skilikeagirl #amazingwomen #ownyourfuture

 

 

 

 

 

One of the biggest obstacles to Flexibility and what can you do about it.

I am excited to announce that I have started a new chapter as the CEO of FlexCareers, which is a disruptive online talent matching platform connecting talented women with progressive employers offering flexible work. Together with my work at Launch Pod means I am now able to economically empower women across corporate, SME and the entrepreneur ecosystems.

Flexibility is one of the enablers of true gender equality in a working environment. Whilst primary care giving continues to fall to the responsibility of women (something I challenged in my recent post) flexibility enables women (and men too of course) the ability to focus on growing their careers whilst meeting their parental responsibilities and dare I say flexibility is for all, even non-parents too. Time and time again, report after report, the number 1 thing to keep people in your organisation is flexibility. So if the leadership know this then why is it such a challenge to implement flexibility?

There are many reasons but I will focus on 1 today and what can be done about it: perception.

Perception is powerful. Truth is in the eye of the beholder. One of us see a glass of water filled half way up the glass, another may see a glass half full, another may see a glass half empty and so on. As a collective, we see work in so many lenses. And flexibility is something that challenges the way we do things, the way we work. This is not necessarily a bad thing however it is confronting and it is change.

So how do we overcome this?

As an individual seeking flexibility a good place to start is by understanding the various forms of flexibility that are available. It doesn’t automatically mean part-time, but it may for you. It can be condensed work weeks (doing 5 days in 4 or every fortnight working 9 out of 10 however still doing the same hours), working from home, flexible start and finish times (start late – finish late) and the list goes on. A great resource is the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA). Then think about what works for you and your role – how can you balance the 2 effectively?

Trial – most people don’t like change. So baby steps are recommended. In my career I have often asked for flexibility. I enjoy working from home as I have the opportunity to get clear stretches of time to get work done not have as many meetings. When negotiating flexibility I suggested trialling 1 day a week over a 3-month period to see how it goes. Needless to say it worked and moved it to 2 days week after that. If I needed to travel or be in the office I did – flexibility is a 2 way street.

Technology – having great technology at our fingertips means being accessible is easy. Whether it is phone, Slack, email, Skype or any other type of communication channel. Furthermore remote access means it is just like being at your desk. Virtual meetings – these need to be had, but run well. Using video is a must as well as ensuring the one/s that are dialling in have as much air-time as those physically present. There are so many great collaborative cloud based tools that allow people to contribute to group work at any time from anywhere such as Google, DropBox, Asana and Basecamp – take your pick.

In short it is about providing evidence to employers that it can be done. Flexibility will be the future of work – the norm but not quite yet. Considering we have been working the way we have for a VERY long time, change can be slow. By implementing a step-by-step process to enable flexibility and manage change is essential to gain buy in from your leader and company. Hard evidence of your productivity and results whilst working flexibility is the language that most powerful to shift these perceptions.

 

Natalie is very excited to announce her new role as CEO of FlexCareers. FlexCareers is a disruptive online talent-matching platform connecting career women with progressive employers offering flexible work. FlexCareers is redefining careers by challenging convention and leading the future of talent matching and career support.

 

Thinking in binary…the good and the bad

As a Libran, I am forever weighing out options, balancing and comparing. It is how my brain thinks. Maybe that’s a human thing but I like to think of it more as an astrological influence. Recently I attended a great panel event called Men@Work (ran by the 100% Project), where they addressed the challenges of gender equality at work from a male perspective. The main focus was around achieving true parity between men and women at work. Topics included addressing the taboos for men around asking for flexibility and other topics too with the aim of addressing the challenges of creating true gender equality.

There was one point that kept surfacing that bugged my, of which of course I raised my hand in the Q&A to share my thoughts…it was around the concept of Primary Caregivers. Although flexibility is for everyone, at the moment it is seen mainly as the domain for women, particularly working mothers. In my opinion flexibility in the workplace is the way that we will all work in the future.

However I digress, the reason why the idea of primary caregivers bugged me is why is it solely the responsibility of one parent to take care of a child/ children? Why is it that there is always the one, usually the mother, who is called when a child is sick at care or school, why one parent, usually the mother, needs to compromise their career in order to manage the home life? This is a generalisation, as we do see a number of families where they consciously decide for the wife to be the breadwinner, and the father to the be primary care-giver. Fantastic, why, because it isn’t an automatic assumption of roles but challenging the norm to see what best suits that family. So here is the challenge, what happens when it is a single parent home or where a parent/ parents are LGBTI? We often think heteronormative, but the reality is everything gets turned on its head when we think broader than the binary.

In my family, like most, when the children were born we fell into roles. However after a while the ‘mother’/ ‘father’ roles didn’t suit us as individuals. Let me explain. On a recent speaking tour to Australia run by TalkPoint, Dr. Michael Kimmel talked about why gender equality is good for men (both at work and home, in life in general actually), and a number of things stayed with me – one in particular, we need to take the gender out of the picture. What does this mean? Practically, when we are talking about primary caregivers, why does this always fall to the mother? That is the societal norm…but after a child is born and breast-feeding ends, the gender can start fading away and you are left with parents (rather than a mother and father). This changes the conversation. Why should one parent be required to do 80% of the home stuff whilst still working? Why should one parent miss out on all the great things in their children’s lives because they are expected to work? That doesn’t seem right. In short the roles that we give ourselves are too binary.

Going back to my family, we made a conscious decision to both be primary care givers, or simply put we decided to parent equally. We both do the shopping, alternate who picks up a sick child, support the other when they go travelling and so on. It is not one or the other, it’s both. Yes sometimes one does more parenting and the other more work but then it flips – it’s constantly changing, flexible and adapting to the needs of the time – all needs of the children and family, of the individual and of our work responsibilities.

So why do we fall into binary thinking when problem solving, good/bad, right/wrong? Well so much of world is divided into binary to simplify and bring ease but some basic ideas around Ying and Yang, Good and Evil, Black and White, Male and Female. However we are starting to see even these basic concepts being challenged, which I am glad about. Why, because nothing is simple yet we fear the complex. Look at gender, in recent times transgender has become something more mainstream challenging the very basis of what it means to be a man or woman. My children have friends that have 2 mothers or fathers and other people in our world that are LGBTI. The roles of what it means to be male or female in our society are starting to crumble and be redefined.

The point is things are not black and white, and I don’t want them to be. I have come to realise that the reason that the primary caregiver conversation bugged me so much is that because it is reflective of binary thinking, yet when it came to the conversations in the workplace it was quite the rainbow of ideas including creating flexibility, finding true parity and understanding the chaos that can ensue but to embrace rather than fear it. Yet in the home life binary remained, roles remained – maybe the mother isn’t doing everything but now the father is, but I also see that as limiting. True gender parity in all aspects of life means we respect each persons’ individual needs and wants, not boxing them into a certain role because of societal norms. I, like every parent knows, that this doesn’t mean that one gets to do whatever whenever one wants, quite the opposite, one needs to make many sacrifices. However my point is that I would like to start people living more consciously and more aware of the binary thinking that limits both our home and work lives as parents and as people day to day. Falling into roles blindly can be an enslavement to our society and not one that respects our individual soul. By consciously agreeing with yourself and your partner how you would like to share your lives, your children and your work will bring greater fulfilment. Embrace the mess and chaos and challenge binary thinking.

Humanising Work…why is this so hard?

There is more and more out there about the concept of humanising work. It fascinates me. Why? Because it goes to the heart of much of my curiosity about humanity – why do we do what we do?…more specifically how do we then shift our behaviour? In this instance I am talking about watching the shift from working in an industrialised fashion to a modern digital economy.

The last time I saw this happen was in a very different construct. My heritage is Hungarian and I have spent much time going back and forth, and spending time with family and friends over the years. From childhood days, where Communism was the state of play and then through its transition in the late 80s and 90s (and I would argue still today) to Democracy/ Capitalism. As a person who grew up assuming democratic civil liberties I would to stare at amazement at the queues for bread and staple products…and even experience thrill when joining my grandparents in such a queue. Or going to the supermarket and seeing 1 milk on offer or 2 types of yoghurt (plain and strawberry). The point is that change takes a very long time even if it is good change (from Communism to Democracy, from queues to choice); people are creatures of habit and subsequently you still see many remnants of Communism in most ex-Communist countries today.

Jumping back to the topic de jour, humanising work, I think about how long women have been battling for fair and equal treatment in the work environment (and even more broadly too) and we are still far from the finish line. But when I look at the issue from a work perspective and think further about the other areas of work that I have been involved with to humanise work including flexibility for all, I realise that we are stuck in a mentality of human capital where people are still products or things within an organisation so it is easy to de-humanise the experience of others in our work environment.

The de-humanising of work goes right back to the Industrial Revolution where people became the workers, the property of the employers with limited rights. Things became worse when Henry Ford introduced mass production factories for the Model T car. All in all people became an aspect of the “machine” of work, cogs in the wheel – think Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times. Although things may look different with computers and cleanliness the mentality of how we view our people has not.

So why haven’t we changed? There are many reasons but one keeps coming up which goes back to what I was saying before in my Communism transition analogy – people like familiarity and don’t like change. In addition to that we like things in boxes…neat and compact – things are easier to understand and figure out. But as humans we are not neat and compact, we are messy emotional beings with complexities. This doesn’t fit well in the work construct. So by taking the ‘human’ aspect it becomes easier to deal with the human capital.

By humanising work we are dipping our toes into the grey murky water of uncertainty…but I say bring it on! We know the research and we can see the benefits of treating our people well. Flexibility is a great example of recognising our humanness at work…we may have responsibilities (children, ageing parents) or we may like to surf or go to yoga in the morning and would like to work 11-8pm each day…whatever the flexibility looks like, there is less and less reason why more and more roles can’t become fully flexible and we are starting to see companies recognising this (slowly). Furthermore the infrastructure (i.e. technology) is fully available to ensure that full productivity can be maintained. We can work from almost anywhere at anytime. 9-5pm is as antiquated as Communist Hungary…change will take time, it requires us to step out of our comfort zones and recognise the fact that we are each human, trying to live our lives to the best way we can. It is time to release ourselves from the shackles of antiquated perspectives and embrace the reality that most people are wanting: flexibility and a humanising of work.

 

Why are we so averse to slowing down?

The busier we are and the more we have on the more we feel like we are getting somewhere. But where are we going? Starting and running your own business or even having a fast paced job, then add family responsibilities (kids/ ageing parents), other responsibilities, friends – things start to get very full very fast. So why do we try to pack so much in?

On reflection on seeing 2 clients recently that are close to burn out (and I am not being dramatic) we discussed the idea of slowing down and taking a break. I then even breached the holy of holies and suggested that is this lifestyle all it is cracked up to be? They both responded, well how else do we live our lives? Running a business is a busy life. I don’t dispute that. However, we need to change the way we see all of this from being a never-ending sprint (which just isn’t sustainable) to the reality of this being a marathon, then we change the paradigm. Part of the issue is that the pace of society around us is fast. From social media to expectations we want everything, yesterday. So how much of our lives are being lived reactively vs. proactively? And why are we so adverse to slowing down?

I will be honest with you that part of this reason that this topic is on my mind is because I am taking the week off next week, yep you heard it…I am checking out, sleeping, resting, meditating, walking, writing and restoring. I can tell that I am running on empty. Previously I would have worn this as a badge of honour. Look how tired I am but I still did a full days work plus kids and life…but who am I trying to impress? I have let all that go and have learnt to listen to myself. And a few weeks ago when I realised just how tired I am, I knew it was time for a well needed break.

Yes I am an alpha type where I push myself to the limits every day and try to be as productive and proactive as possible however I am also learning to know my limits. To give it my all but know when to rest. The focus is not how busy I am, or even how productive I am but rather – looking at the bigger picture to see how many clients I have, am I generating enough revenue – creating meaningful experiences every day with those around me – focusing on the big rocks as Steven Covey would say. It is too easy to fill one’s day with the small stuff, the time fillers that really add little or no value to your life and business.

By saying no to certain things as they really add little value to my business or life is OK…a lesson that has taken me many years to master. And learning the important lesson of saying yes to other things, like taking a break and slowing down. To enjoy the precious time to foster the creativity within me, to allow spontaneity to re-enter my life and have the opportunity to re-energise and restore myself. I am learning to feel worthy of this and know that I am enough – I don’t need to be busy to impress anyone.

Do you live a continuous sprint or recognise the marathon you are in, allowing yourself time to restore and repair?

Should you break up with your client?

In a recent session with a client the topic of saying “thanks but no thanks” to their clients came up. There were a number of things happening that made them think twice as to whether or not they actually wanted to work with them. This started me the thinking about other conversations I have had with clients on this topic as well as my own experience and I realised that there are a number of situations where breaking up with a client is applicable.

1. The client are slow to pay or don’t pay at all. After the excitement of landing a new client (more so for service based businesses than product however the topic is still applicable to both), and the honeymoon is over, reality sets in. Good work is done. Hours and hours given to said client. However when it comes down to it they are not paying your invoice. They ask for you to do more work despite the previous invoice not being paid – what do you do? Many clients have said that they keep working in a show of good will. Others refuse to work until paid. This is a dance that one needs to feel their way through as to what is the right thing for you and your relationship however one word of warning: by continuing to work un-paid for too long devalues your worth – with the client and yourself. You deserve to be paid for the good work that you have done. There comes a point where you need to be aware, are you getting paid your worth or are they taking your for a ride?

2. The client is well known. Having a well-established, well-known client can be great for business whether a new or existing one as it creates credibility and makes you attractive to other potential clients. This is a big pull to have them on your client list and testimonials, however at what cost? One of the biggest challenges both my clients and I have faced when working with well known brands is that sometimes these clients use the fact that they are such a big brand and they know that they can push you down on price, based on the sheer volume and size. One client was doing 1,000s of transactions with a big name client however the profit margin that was negotiated was so low that not only were they not breaking even, they were losing money. Initially my client said that they wanted to keep them on and saw the loss as marketing spend but after a long period of time came to the realisation that it wasn’t worth it and dropped this big name client. Despite the rational to keep them onboard because it would attract other big clients, there was a word on the street to the low margin rates that were agreed to, so other potential clients started to expect the same. It just wasn’t worth it.

3. Lack of alignment. Personality and product – we like doing business with people and with organisations that align with our values and what we are trying to achieve. Whether you are a start up or you are hungry for a new client, we can make allowances for someone or a company that may not align with us with the justification that we need the income. That may be true but in the situations that I have seen with my clients and myself when there is a lack of alignment we lose our heart in the process…meaning we don’t enjoy the work, the relationship with the client and often the outcome is that the quality of work isn’t as good and you are not that engaged. It may be worth having them as a client for a while as you need the money, or their brand associated with yours – but this needs to be a conscious decision. If you have too many clients that do not align to your brand, your vision and values what does that say about you and your brand? Furthermore, it can attract similar brands and people to your business and perpetuate the cycle – and you end up doing work that you don’t enjoy and working with people that you don’t enjoy doing business with.

At the end of the day we take on clients for a number of reasons but there comes a point where we need to have the confidence and awareness of our self-worth to know when we need to break up with a client or say no thanks even before you take them on. Furthermore, business is about people. Surrounding yourself with people that align with your values means that you will be more engaged, create and produce better work and grow your business even faster. It is understandable that when starting out a good client is a paying client however once you are more established there needs to be a level of discernment and awareness as to who we say yes to being our client. Who we work with says a lot about who we are, our values and what we like to achieve. What do your clients say about you?

 

I invite you to a free 45 minute discovery call, where together we can go through how grow your business b having the right clients. This is a real coaching session. Click HERE to book.

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