Surviving Rejection—Lemons to Lemonade

“To be, or not to be—that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and, by opposing, end them?”   Hamlet (William Shakespeare), Act III, Scene 1

Shakespeare understood so much about the problems and pleasures of life. I suppose that explains why, 400 years after he died (1564 – 1616), he remains the best-selling fiction author of all time, with an estimated four billion copies of his works sold (Wikipedia).  Shakespeare knew that life is about learning and sometimes the lessons presented to us are, or seem, harsh.

He understood that in order to build a satisfying life, we must learn to become ethical, wise and compassionate humans who are also equipped to take good care of ourselves and our families and manage to be good company along the way.  In his sonnets and plays, he showed us that resourcefulness and resilience, good judgment and good humor will help us to find the courage to face up to our faults and fears and learn how to overcome obstacles and disappointments.

Shakespeare’s lessons apply not only to the personal, but also to the professional zone of life.  Freelance consultants and business owners have many opportunities to show the world that we are capable leaders who can make our own way in the world, but there are the inevitable set-backs.  Acquiring a skill set that helps you move beyond rejection and defeat, as you make note of what you might have done differently, is the most effective way to bounce back from adversity.

Be objective

Realize that it was not you, the person, who has been rejected, but your business proposal.  There are numerous reasons that may cause a prospective business partner, investor, or client to turn you down in the final stage of evaluation, even if it seemed certain that you’d get the green light.  It is very painful to be unexpectedly denied and the incident can rock your self-confidence.  It is likely that once the facts were laid out and analyzed, the investor/ partner/ prospect realized that either s/he does not have the resources to participate, or that business strategies will require that they take a different direction and so your proposal must unfortunately be decline

Separate yourself from the proposal, look at what you might have been able to do better, if anything, and if you’ve found something lacking, and that could mean your choice of whom to do business with and not your proposal itself,  think about how to recognize a more promising prospect, or imagine how your intended might evaluate your proposal, so that you can correct obvious gaps or avoid potential misunderstandings.

Lessons learned

Depending on your comfort level with the prospect who rejected your proposal/ funding request/ partnership offer, you can ask why that was the case?  What is it that you are lacking, or what did you misunderstand? Maybe you can retool and make yourself a more viable candidate in the future.? Or maybe it is not a viable option for you after all and you finally accept that your efforts could be more generously rewarded elsewhere.

Without berating yourself, you can take stock of the new reality, even though it is not to your liking and devise a way to pick yourself up after disaster has laid you low.  You might choose to stay the course, with some adjustments (More specific talking points? A different target market?), or identify a new approach.  Maybe you can perform a beta test, or ask questions of a trusted colleague or client before you gamble on a roll-out.

Moving forward

If your proposals have been rejected rather regularly, consider that your intended target client group is not the best for you and that you might be well-advised to offer another product or service to a different cohort of clients, or pursue other types of business partners or investors.  If you are unable to get to yes with at least one or two clients, you must discover the problems and challenges that those in the target category really want to be resolved, regardless of what they admit to.  It could be so simple as the jargon used to describe either the problem or the proposed solution is not accurately expressed by one party or the other.

Disappointment is not easy to accept, but it is a part of life, part of the growing process.  How you handle yourself in the face of disappointment can help you to become resilient and resourceful and ultimately, better prepared to pursue and achieve success for your goals.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Phaedra and Hippolytus, Pierre Narcisse Guerin (c. 1802)                                                   Image courtesy of Harvard Art Museums/ The Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA

 

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Networking Starts With A Conversation

IMG_0018Happy Fourth of July! You may engage in celebrating today’s holiday as a party host or guest and either way, you’ll have the pleasure of expanding your social and possibly also your professional network.  From backyard barbecues to weddings, the meet and greet is on, for business or pleasure. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, you will feel more at ease if when you encounter new people you can draw from a little repertoire of conversation starters that you can easily recall.

Here’s a list of conversation starters designed to make your summer celebrations a little more fun.  Keep in mind that when you approach a party guest, or a guest approaches you, smile and show that you welcome that person’s presence and you’d like to converse. While you might encounter the rare monosyllabic type who is too awkward to make small talk, in which case you can smile and slip away as quickly as socially acceptable, most partygoers and attendees at social or business functions are primed to meet and get acquainted with interesting people.  They’ll meet you halfway and together, you’ll create the conversation. You will likely be joined by others and that’s all for the good.

  1. Hi, I’m ______; and you are…? Nice to meet you! Do you live in the neighborhood ?
  2. Hi, I’m ______; and you are…? Nice to meet you! How do you know (the host)?
  3. Have you been having a good summer, so far?
  4. Do you like the summer holidays better, or winter holidays?
  5. Are you a summer vacation person, or a winter vacation person?
  6. I’m walking over to the drink table.  Can I bring you something?
  7. The buffet looks delicious (holding your plate and drink)—may I sit here?
  8. As you see, I’m checking out (the hosts’) books. They have a lot of good titles. Do you see something here that you’ve read?
  9. Who is that singing? Could it be Sarah Vaughan?
  10. OK, pop quiz–How many oceans are there on planet earth?

I hope you meet some good people both today and at the social and business functions that you’ll attend this summer and that you’re able to build one or two relationships that outlast the events you attend.  Relax and allow yourself to have a good time.

Show interest in the people you meet. Tailor your conversation topics to those with whom you are speaking. Don’t monopolize the conversation. Listen more than you talk and listen actively.  At some point in a lively conversation you may want to jump in with a witty retort, but try to avoid interrupting and one-upping.

Finally, don’t over-share and if you meet someone with whom it appears there could be a mutual interest to talk business, exchange cards and plan to follow-up a day or two after the party.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

The Tall Ships Parade in Boston Harbor. June 16, 1017    Photograph by Kim Clark

 

 

Stress Takes A Holiday

The holiday season has arrived and with it a boatload of potential stressors, good and bad. The delight of being a party host or guest are examples of good stress (and if this is not the case, your stress management assignment begins with asking yourself why you bother?).  The process of Christmas shopping and the associated costs of time and money, along with holiday cooking and cleaning, are examples of potentially bad stress.  In this post, I offer stress management techniques that can prove to be beneficial all year round.

Time management and boundaries

The always-on 24/7 lifestyle that so many of us feel compelled to lead is a huge stressor. The ability to set priorities and boundaries is more important than ever.  In most cases, there is no need to be available for professional matters before 8:00 AM or after 8:00 PM.

In your personal life,  learn to say no to controlling people and time-wasters, even if those individuals happen to be family members.  Have the courage to acknowledge what is important to you and distance yourself from manipulative people. Unhook your feelings of self-worth from the need to “save” people.  Help yourself to achieve goals and fulfill responsibilities by making lists and schedules and allow yourself sufficient time to complete tasks.  Learn to delegate.  Accept that some tasks are low priority and may need to be removed from your list.

Anger management

Learning to handle our emotions is a lifelong proposition.  Awareness is the first step.  Be advised that all of our emotions are “justified” because that is how we feel at that time.  It is your right and responsibility to define and acknowledge the emotions you feel.  The skill set called Emotional Intelligence teaches us to refrain from allowing our emotions to overwhelm us, cloud our judgment and lead us to do or say things that may damage our relationships and credibility.

Anticipate encounters with people who you may find upsetting and rehearse your responses to words and behaviors that you may experience as hostile and disrespectful.  Role play with yourself replies that could potentially defuse a stressful conversation and allow you to put distance between yourself and the stressor, limiting contact and helping you to control your emotions.  Be mindful that some people enjoy trouble and they are constant agitators.  They crave attention and control.  Do what you can to banish these individuals from your life.

Exercise

Exercise releases into the body hormones (endorphins and serotonin) that counteract the “fight or flight” response hormones that are released when we are under stress (adrenaline, ACTH).  Exercise also improves the functioning of the immune system and in the process helps us to fight off certain diseases.  Some experts recommend that we would be wise to participate in physical activity four or five days a week, for at least 45 minutes per session. You may play a sport, ride a bike, swim, walk, do aerobics, yoga, Pilates and/or lift weights. Experiment with different types of exercise to learn what you like and do it on a regular basis.  Exercise provides physical release and reduces tension and stress, calms and clears the mind, helps us to sleep better and improves self-esteem.

Meditation

The relaxation response is enabled by meditation and other self-regulated relaxation techniques.  Meditation requires only a few minutes of your time and a private, quiet and comfortable location.  Watch a YouTube video to show you what to do.  Shut off the television and your telephone.  Choose a word or short phrase to silently repeat to yourself as you close your eyes and breathe in and out, slowly and deeply.  Meditation enthusiasts recommend that you meditate early in the morning before starting your day, or in the evening just before dinner.

Sleep

Inadequate sleep is epidemic these days and it is seriously detrimental to one’s health and ability to manage stress.  Surprisingly, sleep deprivation contributes to weight gain by releasing the stress hormone cortisol, which increases appetite.  When we are fatigued, our choice of foods is usually unhealthy and laden with sugar for an energy boost, or high fat, or salty.  The stage is then set for taking on unwanted pounds.

Being tired undermines creativity, judgment and decision-making, productivity and self-discipline.  Do what you can to get in those eight hours each night.  Be advised that caffeine and alcohol are for many the enemies of sleep and intake should be limited near to bedtime.

Nutrition

Physical, mental and emotional stressors drain the body of complex nutrients that support optimal physical and cognitive functioning.  If these nutrients are not replaced fairly quickly, coping skills diminish, decision-making ability suffers, fatigue ensues, mood and emotional control deteriorate.

Avoid the temptation to consume foods high in fat, salt, or sugar, or consume excess caffeine or alcohol, while in the midst of a stressful event.  Do yourself a favor and eat a bagel with peanut butter, a rice bowl with vegetables, a sandwich, or a plate of pasta.  Over the long-term, eat a balanced diet that supplies adequate amounts of green vegetables, fruits, proteins and carbohydrates.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

The Stress Syndrome

We are on the cusp of the holiday season.  It’s a special time of year but sadly, it is often freighted with challenges.  Responsibilities metastasize and usually include some combination of peeling potatoes; coring and slicing apples; ironing table cloths; Christmas shopping; writing cards; and putting up decorations. Obligations such as attending workplace or family parties can feel like a burden. The expectation (sometimes forced) to have  fun might backfire and instead cause you to feel inadequate if you’re unable to get into a festive mood. Humbug!

Despite the bright lights and parties, the stress level for most of us reaches an annual high at this time of year. The Thanksgiving – Christmas – New Year’s Eve axis can overwhelm the best of us.  It’s easy to feel lonely, or even like a failure.  Business owners and Freelancers may be faced with the realization that income projections were not reached, adding to the anxiety.

What is the antidote? I suggest that a two or three-week out-of-town vacation is the ideal remedy.  Other than buying and writing cards (which can be done while away) and taking care of a short gift list, all other stress-inducing elements could be diplomatically sidestepped. Those unable to budget the time and money to de-camp to the Bahamas are encouraged to put into motion a comprehensive stress management program.

Regardless of the season, stress is a condition that spares no age cohort or socioeconomic stratum.  School children become stressed over homework and piano lessons. Their parents become stressed as a result of a long work commute or increased job responsibilities. Please know that there is good stress, too—buying a home, going away to college, getting married and starting a new job bring into your life stress that emanates from positive events.

The sources of stress will vary, but the need to manage those stressors and the related hassles and anxiety is constant. Giving some thought to how and why the stressful situation occurs is Step One of your stress management program and brainstorming possible changes that might remove or diminish the stress is Step Two.  Improving one’s ability to manage stress by developing coping skills and learning to relax is Step Three.

Stress management is a multi-disciplinary process that includes managing time, adequate sleep, good nutrition, exercise, anger management and relaxation techniques.  Next week, I’ll return with some specific suggestions.

Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for reading,

Kim

Write an Effective Business Letter

All writing is about the intended reader (that is, the audience).  Whether it’s a book, song, movie, opera, website, marketing brochure, grant proposal, or fundraising letter, the one priority for the writer to keep in mind is that the intended recipient matters most.  Writing is a basic means of communication and we have many reasons to choose to express our thoughts or requests in writing, rather than verbally.  Usually, we write to make our thoughts official, to communicate with someone whom we do not know, or to communicate with a large number of people.

We write to express our point of view or to make a request.  We may write to persuade the reader to take a particular action based on information that is presented or to consider a new perspective and modify his/her opinion.  In other words, writing is selling. Writers will benefit from the following guidelines:

  1. Purpose: Why are you writing?
  2. Audience: Who is the reader (audience)?
  3. Outcomes: How can you persuade the reader to care about your subject or request?

The first question is actually about you, the writer.  What motivates you to write? Are you in search of funding for a project that you would like to advance and so you must write a business or grant proposal? Might your objective be to write a sales or marketing letter that will be sent to those who you feel are potential customers for your product or service? Are you producing content for a website or other promotional material that will communicate your expertise to potential customers and give them the confidence to contact you? You will be an effective writer only when you develop the self-awareness and confidence to acknowledge what you would like your written material to achieve, so that you will choose vocabulary that reflects your intent.

The second question ensures that you tailor your message and vocabulary to resonate with your intended reader or audience.  The successful writer will consider the point of view of the reader and craft a message that is likely be understood and accepted by that reader.  If it is a proposal that you will write, then you must address the interests of several stakeholders who will be able to speak favorably or unfavorably of your request.  Grant applications and business proposals always include financial information as well as operations and marketing information, for example, to satisfy those three important decision-making constituencies.

The final question addresses the perceived benefits that the reader or audience can expect to derive from what you have written.  Here, the writer must tightly focus on the readers’ priorities and preferences and consider the outcomes attached to the expression of the thoughts or creative expression, or the relative value of your request.  What will be in it for the reader if s/he buys your book, devotes time and money to attend a performance of your music, or approves your grant or proposal?

The writer is advised to utilize a communication style and vocabulary that are familiar and reassuring to the reader or audience,  as a way to build confidence, encourage acceptance and approval and result in mutual success.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

 

Doing Business As

To forge a successful career as a Freelance consultant requires courage, resilience, possession of marketable skills, relationships with people who are willing and able to help you get hired into one money-making opportunity or another, an affinity for selling, the discipline needed  to set goals, a talent for big picture thinking and setting strategies, and an understanding of human nature and motivation. The ability to attract good luck and dodge bad luck helps, too.

Precious few Freelancers are able to just “go to the office” everyday and take on the usual work.  In order to generate an acceptable number of billable hours, we understand that multiple revenue streams must be created and that we must learn to recognize the marketability value of segments of our overall skill set and learn to  package, promote and sell those segments to prospective employers, as well as target clients.

Take my revenue streams, for example. When asked, my short form elevator speech is that I’m an external consultant who provides business strategy and marketing solutions to for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. What that means in reality is that I’ve facilitated strategic planning meetings at not-for-profit organizations; edited a book and also served as its photo editor and project manager (it was published by the sponsoring organization); developed curriculum for a series of 90 minute sales skills training workshops; periodically teach business plan writing; and was made a staff writer at an online magazine targeted for women entrepreneurs.

Yes, I continue to do the business strategy and marketing assignments, but the fact is that there are always assignment gaps and I’ve learned to branch out and offer related skills that enhance my brand as they allow me to make some much-needed money.  In my experience, it is the ability to leverage your additional competencies that help a Freelancer to create and sustain a profitable business venture.

My friend Adela is a busy educational consultant who works with college bound high school juniors and their parents to first identify suitable colleges for the student and next to navigate the application process.  Her business seems to be quite lucrative, yet she nevertheless teaches Spanish at a local college (Adela was born and raised in Mexico and came to the U.S. to attend Harvard University).

Jackie, a friend of many years, launched a small, full-service fitness center that became very successful in that highly competitive market.  Yet Jackie has continued to teach fitness classes and train clients at a large downtown gym. Why? Not only does she earn a few extra dollars that a mother of four can always use, but also gets to observe sophisticated fitness center management from the inside and also receive instructor training in new fitness techniques that she can evaluate for inclusion in her own gym. Sometimes you can get paid to research the competition!

My friend Carole toggles between Freelance marketing for technology companies and corporate positions in that sector.  She’s a Lotus alumna who’s also worked for tech giant EMC, distinctions that command respect and open doors in the tech industry.  In between corporate gigs, Carole goes out on her own to develop marketing strategies for tech start-ups.  A couple of years ago, she was offered a position as director of marketing at one of those start-ups, but when the inevitable reorganization occurs, she’ll re-enter the Freelance life.

Now you, Freelancer friend, what else can you do to create additional revenue streams for yourself and if possible, enhance your skill set or obtain useful competitive information?

Sometimes an opportunity that is outside of your brand and strictly for cash-flow may present itself and I suggest that you discreetly take it anyway.  As long as running into prospective clients is not a danger, if time and energy allow, a pragmatic Freelancer understands the necessity of promoting cash-flow whenever possible.  Build up your retirement account, or use the money to attend seminars that provide professional development and potentially good networking.  It’s all about doing business as a solvent and successful Freelance professional.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Getting and Giving Advice: Who to Ask, Frame the Question

We’re back with more thoughts and suggestions regarding how to navigate the matter of business advice, giving or receiving.  Previous posts have explored how to effectively give advice and the importance of using tact when advice is offered.  In this post, we’ll examine how to obtain business advice for ourselves.  As you might guess, it’s a delicate process.

Getting and Giving Advice: Skill Set

Getting and Giving Advice: Tact

First, if you are in need of advice, then there is either a problem or an opportunity that you must address (or ignore).  You are concerned and maybe even scared.  You are stressed and making decisions when stressed is seldom a good idea.  Stress impairs judgment and therefore increases the potential for an undesirable outcome.  Nevertheless, you recognize that another perspective could help you to sort things out. Who are you going to trust?

Yes, trust is a big factor when seeking advice. You must trust that person’s expertise and since confidentiality is likely involved, you must feel confident in the person’s ethics and practice of discretion.  You do not want someone who is unqualified to give the advice and neither do you want your private affairs indiscriminately shared.

Let’s start by helping you to identify a good advice prospect.  You may know more than one person who appears to own the experience and expertise that should make him/ her a good candidate,  but who should you approach?  Here are guidelines to assist your decision.

First, avoid asking someone who has competitive advantages that are significantly beyond your reach. If the person is prone to unusually good luck, or has a wealthy and influential family or spouse, then do not ask the individual for advice.  S/he may have built a highly profitable business, but because fate smiles on all of his/her endeavors,  s/he has faced no real obstacles.  Such persons cannot solve problems, because they’ve never had the need to do so.  They’ve never borne the consequences of either bad luck or their mistakes.

Second, look a little more at how the prospect has garnered  success.  Whether it was a fast climb to the top or slow, someone who has taken an unusual path has probably encountered an array of unexpected obstacles and opportunities that had to be conquered or exploited along the way.  Of necessity, that person has challenged assumptions, rethought the status quo and has the courage to move forward  when more conventional types might hesitate. As a result, that person has learned to be quite resourceful and could have real wisdom to share with you.

Next, confirm your advice prospect’s expertise in your area of need.  Just because someone has climbed the corporate ladder or built a million dollar plus company does not mean that the person is an expert in all disciplines.  A talent for strategy development is probably a strong point across the board,  but most people are strongest in either finance, operations, sales or marketing. Further, it’s been my observation that the intelligence possessed by computer geeks is very deep and very narrow, rendering them useful for IT questions only.  I would be reluctant to trust many of them to go the grocery store to buy bread and milk in a snowstorm.

Now, let’s consider the right way to ask for the advice.  As the late management guru Peter Drucker noted,  one will not find the fight answer unless the right question is asked.  Advice experts recommend that you NOT ask your prospect what you should do in your situation,  because s/he may get insulted if you decide to ignore their advice and follow another route.  Instead, ask if s/he has ever faced a situation like yours and if so, what did s/he do or say in response?

WRONG: “I feel that a big wholesaler is being unfair about the payment terms extended to me. What should I do”?

RIGHT:     ” Have you ever dealt with a big wholesaler who you felt was unfair about the payment terms extended to you? Were you able to do anything about it”?

Finally, you need access to your preferred advice candidate. It’s preferable to approach someone you are already acquainted with and that is the best reason for taking the time to establish business and social relationships.  The person who can most effectively guide you might be in the gym with you,  or at church, or at the lunch table at a symposium. Asking for detailed advice from someone you’ve just shaken hands with is awkward.

Ask your advice question, beginning with your clarifying question to verify expertise, in person if possible.  Your specific advice question can be asked in a follow-up telephone call if there is no time to address it on the spot, or if privacy is an issue.  Good luck!

Thanks for reading,

Kim

 

 

Vacations Are Good For Business

The Memorial Day Weekend is approaching and with it the start of summer and the most popular vacation season. Perhaps it is the legacy of the Puritan work ethic that has caused the mixed feelings that many in the U.S. have towards the tradition of taking time off to relax and unwind. There are many of us who feel that stepping away from work responsibilities now and again signals a lack of discipline or commitment to our jobs. Many of us brag about the number of hours we work each day and more is always better.

U.S. companies on the whole are stingy about granting paid time off,  as compared to their peers in Europe and Latin America.  Even Great Britain, original birthplace of the Puritans, gives three paid days off at Christmas, while the U.S. companies usually grant only one.  Easter is the most important holiday on the Christian calendar, but in predominantly Christian USA, there is no longer a paid holiday for Easter Monday.  In contrast, paid holidays for Good Friday and Easter Monday are standard in Latin America and Europe.

The Center For Economic and Policy Research reports that 25% of U.S. workers receive no paid time off of any kind—sick time, holiday, or vacation time.  An increasing number of companies that employ primarily low-wage workers restrict the number of hours that their employees receive, to keep benefits out of reach for as many as possible.

U.S. workers are ourselves complicit in the anti-time off practice.  According to the jobs and recruiting site Glassdoor, 75% of employees who are eligible to receive paid vacation time do not use all of their time in a given year. However, there may be a method to the madness, sadly. The global forecasting organization Oxford Economics (part of Oxford University) found that 13% of managers were less likely to promote staff who use all of their vacation days and that employees who take off fewer days on average earn nearly 3% more pay than employees who use all vacation time granted.

Let us tally the costs that the nose-to-the-grindstone approach has on our physical and psychological well-being  Even Sigmund Freud recommended that we take vacations. He and his family were known to travel every summer. https://freelancetheconsultantsdiary.wordpress.com/2015/07/07/dr-Freud-and-the-interpretation-of-your-vacation

Gradually, the hidden price of excessive work is being acknowledged.  Numerous studies have demonstrated that forcing oneself to work days on end,  sometimes at a furious pace,  is ultimately counter-productive.  Workaholic behavior has been linked to decreased productivity and creativity; insufficient slee,  poor nutrition and obesity; negative stress; burn-out and mental health issues.  Some business leaders have headed the warning signs.

Ron Hastings, CEO of Netflix and author of Freedom and Responsibility (2009), is considered the thought leader of a trend that advocates for offering unlimited vacation time to employees.  He believes that leaders should trust their employees to make wise decisions about when and how much vacation time to take, that balances the company’s’ needs and their personal needs.

Full Contact, a Denver software company, now offers a $7500 bonus to employees if they actually leave town when on vacation.  Conditions apply.  Those employees must refrain from using tech gadgets such as mobile phones or computers and refrain also from sending emails and texts.  Employees cannot work while on vacation.

Finally, Jim Moffat, CEO of mega consulting firm Deloitte extols the benefits of vacations,  stating “By taking a break from day-to-day operations, not only was I spending more much-needed time with my family, but also I was able to focus on the bigger picture of where we (Deloitte) were and where our business was going.”

Are you convinced yet? It’s not so easy for small business owners and Freelance consultants to take time off, but make it a point to get out of town for a weekend trip or two this summer, if possible. Your clients will be better served when you are rested and ready to deliver the solutions that they need.

Happy Memorial Day,

Kim

 

Best Practices Basics

When small entities do business, they (we) must try harder. Developing and maintaining a sterling reputation that creates a trusted brand that generates good word-of-mouth and referrals is how we succeed in business. Delivering excellent products and services every time is a must, but there are additional factors that play important roles. Instituting the quality control procedures collectively known as “Best Practices” as the basis of our operations protocols is the smart thing to do.

Because it is much easier to retain a current client than to find an new one, you may want to incorporate these “Best Practices” into your organization.

Keep your word

Credibility counts and that means you keep your word. If you are unable to meet a milestone or some other commitment, speak up as early as possible so that an alternative plan can be created and enacted. If you are transparent about potential roadblocks and obstacles, your forthrightful behavior will be appreciated and respected.  In sum, under-promise and over-deliver.

Be honest

Be truthful in every aspect of your business dealings. Avoid any and every temptation to misrepresent or exaggerate your expertise, qualifications, experience or ability to keep to a timetable or perform within a certain budget.

Follow-up

If half of life is showing up, then the other half is surely follow-up. If a client or prospect asks a question, follow-up with the answer. If someone makes a referral for you, or you promise to make the referral for a friend or colleague, then reach out (I did that today for a client and sent his contact info to a VIP who asked to check out his work).

Admit and correct mistakes

Sometimes we drop the ball. It’s embarrassing and frustrating, but one must own up. Attempting to blame others is not cool (even if it is someone else’s fault). Never attempt to ignore or cover up your organization’s involvement in something that went wrong. Instead, take responsibility, apologize and do whatever is possible to make amends and learn from the experience.

Arrive on time

Prior meetings can run long and you may be unable to leave. Traffic or public transportation can be in gridlock. The alarm may not go off.  If it appears that you will be late for a client meeting, make contact ASAP and estimate your arrival time.

In general, if you are one who is consistently late, take steps to allow yourself more time. Punctuality is a reflection of your brand and your organization’s ability to deliver. If parking is usually a challenge at your destination or if the weather is bad,  leave 30 minutes early and give yourself some wiggle room. Arriving early is always acceptable.

Say thank you

Saying thank you to those who do business with you is great for relationship building. On every invoice, I thank the client for being a client. At December holiday time, I send cards to current and lapsed clients. I’ve taken clients to coffee and lunch. I thank visitors to this blog for reading my posts. Showing appreciation is always appreciated.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

 

Power Through Stress

There are two types of people in this world—those who make things happen and those who allow things to happen to them.  Reader friend,  I know that you are the first type,  a mover & shaker take-charge Freelance professional who knows how to make good things happen.

But every once in a while,  I also know that the best-laid plans will not produce the expected outcome.  Other times, responsibilities and obligations pile on to a distressing level.  Such events might cause even a high-performing Freelance consultant to feel helpless and overwhelmed and as a result, stressed.

University of Florida psychologist Timothy Judge and colleagues encourage us to give ourselves a pep talk during challenging times, to promote the feeling that we are still able to exert control over the levers of our life and business (occasional slips of the grip notwithstanding), because his team’s research quite clearly indicates that those who feel confident in their abilities and in control of their lives are much better at managing stress and getting themselves positioned to capitalize on opportunities and dismantling or avoiding obstacles that block success.

Those who feel as if they are in control of their life and work can simultaneously feel very intense stress and anxiety from time to time.  However, their resilience equips them to manage those feelings differently from the passive types.  The powerful get busy when adversity strikes, while the passive are inclined to accept negative circumstances as inevitable and conclude that there is no recourse. They give up.

The ability to manage emotions and remain calm under intense pressure has a direct link to performance and the ability to perform well has a direct link to success.  Luck plays a role (let us not arrogantly deny that force of the universe),  but we are sometimes able to summon good luck into our lives.  It is often said that fortune favors the prepared.

As regards defeating or minimizing adversity,  realism makes us more resilient.  Prepare yourself for change by accepting that ups and downs are inevitable and the good times will not roll forever.  When billable hours are abundant and additional cash is available,  create short- and long-term savings and investment goals.  If nothing else, add more money to your retirement fund.  Whatever happens good or bad, money will be useful.  Think also of Plan B and even Plan C  alternatives that you could pivot into should unfortunate occurrences darken your door.

If you are presently in the clutches of challenging circumstances, you have my deepest sympathy.  Moreover I can empathize, because I’ve been there and I’m terrified of returning.  Respectfully,  I suggest that you take steps to shift your perspective to adopt the viewpoint of power and gain the confidence to take the reins. There may be aspects of your dilemma that are beyond your control,  but you are capable of controlling your response to it.  Long-term wallowing in self-pity is not useful.

Stress and anxiety can put us into a chokehold.  To slip out, take action to build up your body’s hormonal stress-busters,  endorphins and serotonin,  with some regular exercise.  Any kind will do,  so long as you partake three or four times each week for a minimum of 30 minutes.  Please see my post from December 22, 2015. https://freelancetheconsultantsdiary.wordpress.com/2015/12/22/exercise-leadership-in-the-new-year

Once you peel away a few layers of stress and anxiety,  you’ll be able to apply your renewed confidence to identifying corrective strategies.  It may take a while to engineer your repackaging or pivot,  but the time to begin the transformation  rom passive to powerful is now.

Thanks for reading,

Kim