Time | Team | Tools & Reality

Best Laid Plans

Exodus-Moses-Parts-The-Red-SeaWhen it comes to any project planning, recognizing your limitations is key to accomplishing realistic expectations. We all have pie in the sky ideas for what our incredibly amazing, life/world changing project is going to be and all the phenomenal success we will have as a result. None of this will come to pass unless you give some real thought to the actual time it will take to accomplish the project goals, the team you will need to make it all happen in a seamless way with all the tools right at your fingertips. In an ideal world, everything flows and blends together. The Red Sea parts and the world is your oyster.

 

This. Is. Not. That.

 

The Reality

Yellow Sea Horse in Aquarium

Our pie in the sky vision is exactly that without hardcore tough love decision making. I’ve been a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants gal my whole life. And for the most part, it has worked out pretty well so far. There were big opportunities I missed out on because long-term planning wasn’t “my thing”. Sure, it’s easy to dream. It’s easy to set your sites on a goal. How to get there? You can probably eyeball that, too. How to get there exactly as your ideal vision has pictured? Well, that’s a horse of an entirely different color….or type.

The Cold Hard Truth

When it comes to actually seeing your vision become reality you’re going to have to face some cold, hard truths. Your ideal plan is not going to happen with a team of one. You will need a team in order to fill in the gaps in your knowledge and expertise. Or even to just do the tasking that is required, but perhaps does not require your specific time and talents to accomplish. Hire outside of yourself. On a shoestring budget? Consider a trade of in-kind services. We all have special skills that are valuable to someone else and vice versa. Still not able to find someone? Then consider hiring small. In a perfect world, you would have the financial ability to hire your ideal person full time. What about for just a few hours per week or month? Get that ideal person at the front gate. Let them get to know you and your business. By the time you are ready to bring them to full-time they will already know the ins and outs of your business. They’ll be ready to dive into the deeper aspects of your projects.

Plain wooden block truck child's toyNot ready to bring anyone else on board? Is a team of one your motto and words you live by? Then it’s time to get out the red pen to your project. What can you do realistically each and every day? Be tough and honest with yourself. Pare down your project down to its very basics. We’re talking the framework of a car without all the bells and whistles. A plain, standard model to get you from point a to point b. Does it have an engine and wheels that work? Then that is all you need to get started.

 

Chin up

It’s easy to get discouraged at this stage. You know the ideal way you want this idea to come to fruition. Taking the Ferrari in your mind down to the Ford Truck is hard. Here’s what I want you to remember, getting started is more important than holding on to the ideal version of your project and not getting started at all. Keep those little pared down darlings close by. As your project continues to develop there may be opportunities for them to be brought back into the plan. Some of them will make a comeback and others will not. Timing and the growth of your project will indicate when if their time has come. Some never will. Others will turn into Phase 2, 3, or 4 additions.

 

The Lessons Learned…….The Hard Way

I share these tips with you because of my own epic pie-in-the-sky planning failure(s). Most recently, I planned a repeat of something I did a few years back: Three different daily podcasts for National Podcast Post Month in November aka NaPodPoMo (30 podcasts in 30 days).

I was able to accomplish this originally in 2015. I recorded three shows a day for a total of 90 shows in the month of November. When I tried to reattempt this in 2017 as part of the 10 year anniversary of National Podcast Post Month, I failed miserably. Why? I set unrealistic expectations on the time I had available, the team who would help me accomplish this goal (me) and the tools I would use to make it all happen (1 live show and 2 shows prerecorded with post-production edits).

So, why was it I was able to accomplish this so easily in 2015 and yet stumble through the entire month in 2017? It all comes down to Time, Team & Tools.

Back in 2015, I was just coming back into the world after a health scare with my youngest son. NaPodPoMo was what I needed to get out of the medical brain fog that had been the previous months of my life. Plus, in 2015 all three shows were done live. Recording time was all I needed which made keeping the three times daily podcast sessions easy to keep up with. Due to months of being out of the loop, my workload was almost non-existent. I was just in the process of on-boarding a repeat client. Which meant my attention wasn’t split in too many directions. I had a simple calendar and it was easy to keep track of everything.

You can talk sense to a fool and he will call you foolish - Euripides quote

Fast-forward to 2017 and I had several client projects, am teaching courses each month to students while also taking a few courses myself. Out of the three podcasts, I scheduled for NaPodPoMo, only one was live. That single podcast is the only one which accomplished the goal of 30 podcasts in 30 days. When push comes to shove things fell into the cracks. I was so in love with the idea of doing three shows for the 10 year anniversary, I refused to see that the reality was there was never going to be an opportunity at success given that I did not plan for any deviation to my vision. I also did not bring in support to help with the prerecorded shows. This was the fatal flaw to my perfectly laid out plan. I should have known that I would become the bottleneck to success. Yet, I persisted with the idea that I could do it all.

The Rub

You would think I would have gotten wiser by this experience……I have and I haven’t. I had a 2018 planning session with my business coach to lay out the course of my business. I narrowed my focus down to three main pieces, which is quite a feat considering how much Shiny Object Syndrome plays out in my life. I had pushed back one of “my darlings” to later in the year instead of creating a big bang launch in January. This made complete sense in the overall planning. Yet, I realize I still need to thin the herd a bit. In order to be successful at some, I will sacrifice others. These are sound decisions. They make black and white sense. Here’s the rub, the things I am sacrificing are my own personal growth and pet business projects. Zen stones being knocked over by black ocean waves

As a mother, this is nothing new. You always sacrifice what you might need or want for the greater good of your family. It’s just what you do. We can always wait until later when it’s a better time…..or……

The logical part of myself says, “Grow up, there will always be time to get these things done later. Take care of these other things because it will help you in the long run.” <-This grown up is not wrong. Yet, I can look back and see the many times I was on the precipice of something truly amazing and the reality of life forced me to reconsider the bigger picture. Some things absolutely needed me to stop, drop, and roll for something or someone who had needs greater than my own. But not all. There were several I have a very strong feeling would have changed the whole direction of my life. There is a definite feeling of “Rinse and Repeat” present. A deja vu of opportunities slipping away…..again.

Silver Linings

This is not a tale of doom and gloom. Not by a long shot. My life is my own. I work with clients I like on projects I enjoy and on a mission I believe in. My motto which can be found on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn et al.. is “Living the Dream” and I am no matter what you’ve read above. Just because I am living a life of my choice doesn’t mean I’m still not challenged. I’m still growing and learning and yes, also still compromising along the way.

yellow and white paper origami ship on waterThe silver lining is that I am in charge of this speedboat. Sometimes my plans will have to be docked or perhaps I trade in that speedboat for a leisurely ride on a pleasure cruiser or ocean liner. Slow to maneuver, but they will eventually get to their destination.

At the end of the day when I look at 2018 or any year for that matter, I see an ocean of possibilities which are ripe with opportunity. It’s up to me to chart my course in whatever mode of transport fits the situation to see success in all its forms as they manifest themselves on the journey.

New Year Resolutions…..not so much

When midnight strikes we all look forward to the promise of a new year. A promise that we will have more of what was wonderful in our lives and less of what pained us in the old year. We promise ourselves that this year things will be different. This will be the year we finally get everything right. This will be the year we get to actually live the perfect life we have envisioned for as long as we can remember.

Eventually reality sets in when we’re just as busy as we were the year before. Perhaps, even more so given the new resolution list we’ve added to our already busy schedule. But those resolutions are supposed to be what will give us our best life ever…..right?

New Years Eve Sparks Stellina by Giuliamar
New Years Eve Sparks Stellina by Giuliamar

In truth, those “life-changing resolutions” are much like a sparkler given to children on New Year’s Eve. A white-hot thrill which starts off exciting enough yet is too short-lived to truly meet our need for an improved life. Let’s face it, sparklers have zero staying power.

There is a point from about the middle of January to late February when we chuck all those crazy resolutions (gym membership, new fad diet…) and get back to our regular lives. Who has time for that stuff anyway? We’ve got things to do and family/friends/co-workers demanding our time. Resolutions turn into something more like “making a mess-olution” of our lives. So, we drop those promising resolutions like the proverbial hot potato and carry on with our lives. Our same old unsatisfying lives. Yep, that’s exactly what we do…..

Every. Single. Year.

What if there was a way to actually make a promise to ourselves and keep it? What if we didn’t need a new year to create a resolution? What if we could actually lead our imagined life? What would it take to make such a transformation happen?

It’s all about baby steps.

Where have you been?

Just might be the question you have been asking if you’ve come to my site anytime in the last few months. Well, I’m here to tell you I have not fallen off the face of the earth. Instead I have been focused on a new chapter in my life. In September 2013, I launched the Health|Fitness|Beauty Quest.

Health Fitness Beauty Quest Album Art

In a nutshell, the goal of the quest is to discover what health, fitness and beauty mean to me, a relatively active woman in her mid-forties. It’s been quite the exciting few months of discovery with so many aha! moments. I have also had a couple of humbling moments as well.

Overall, I would say that everyone has been supportive and encouraging on my journey. Just 4 months into the quest have shown me just how far I can go when I put an emphasis on me. With so much going on, I can only imagine the me that will be by the time the 1 year mark rolls around. I am looking forward to the Jennifer of the future and enjoying the experience as it all progresses.

I am lucky to have partnered with such great service providers such as Penny Muckelroy, Pinnacle Wellness and ContourLase Body Institue to make it all happen. Sharing each step of my journey with the readers of my blog has given me focus and kept me accountable. Read the archives to learn more about the my road to health, fitness and beauty.

 

Social Media, Clients and My Philosophy

photo credit: Darren Lewis
photo credit: Darren Lewis

As you all know, I am what I call a Social Media Gal. What that means for me is I get to work and play in this space for a living. What I enjoy most is sharing my knowledge with others through both community events and client interaction. Seeing those light bulb moments happen when an audience or a client recognizes the value social media could have on their business or cause is what I enjoy the most.

My philosophy when it comes to social media is that the folks with the boots on the ground should be the ones telling the story. We all know social media is not a “set it and forget it” tool. It is more like a newborn infant which needs to be watched and fed often. This “boots on the ground” philosophy does require the entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations I work with to invest in what I call the Three T’s:  Time | Team | Tools.

Time

Discoverability meetings, staff training and education, profile optimization, design, page creation, social media guidelines, response flowcharts et al., all take time to explain, understand and implement. Anyone who is delving into this social media needs to understand which platforms will work best for their needs, the use and languaging for each platform and how to participate in the space effectively.

Team

One of the decisions a company will have to make is who will be responsible for monitoring, posting and responding on their social channels. I stress the importance of this position so that they understand that every tweet, post and comment is a direct representation of their brand. This is not something that should be taken lightly nor maintained long term by an intern or someone who “will get to it when they have time”. So, making sure they have the person or team who can actively participate is key to the ongoing success of a company’s social media outreach.

Tools

The tools are fairly simple: computer, smartphone, tablet and of course internet access. Make sure your team members are equipped to represent and respond. You do not need all three to succeed, but removing barriers to access is important. You can post, audio record, live video stream, photograph and more all from a smartphone. I know some folks run their entire business from their phones. We are truly living in the Age of the Jetsons.

 

Not everyone I speak to is ready for this kind of commitment  That’s ok. There are plenty of companies that provide social media services who will do all the heavy lifting for you. They create, post and engage with your followers and fans on your behalf as if they were your brand. When I come across folks who want to hire me to “do it for them”, I smile politely and tell them, “I’m not your gal.”

Each company has what I call a unique flavor. In my mind the customers who frequent your company know how your receptionist answers the phone and how your team talks, walks and interacts with them on a daily basis. If your online presence doesn’t also reflect that same flavor then there can be some disconnect.

So, it should be no surprise that when I work with a client they are someone who subscribes to my “boots on the ground” philosophy and have put the Three T’s into action. In my line of work, I am fortunate in that I can be selective and choose the clients I enjoy spending time with and projects which interest me. One of the clients I have been working with for the last few months is Linda Elliott of Elliott Connection, LLC.

LInda Elliott, Connections Expert
LInda Elliott, Connections Expert

Linda contacted me when she made the decision to delve into the world of social media after she saw me speak at a local event last year. We had seen each other at events throughout the year so I already knew we got along. However, it wasn’t until we sat down to have our discoverability meeting I knew we would be a perfect fit. Linda is a Connections Expert and has a unique talent for finding the perfect partnerships for her clients. Personally, I would describe what she does as an elegant introduction. To experience it is to understand it. Once you have, you will never forget it. I know I never will (more about this in a future post).

As with all projects, you spend months building the platforms and training the team and then there is the moment when they are ready to go live. It is a true pleasure to share the news that today Linda Elliott is launching her Power of Connections blog. Wander over there, take a look and let her know what you think. As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments.

 

2012….Meh

Image by Rachael Towne

Image by Rachael Towne
The Mayans said the world was going to end in 2012. What did they know? I don’t know and I really don’t care. Call me the Ebenezer Scrooge of the New Year. Except instead of “Bah-humbug!” I say, “Meh”.  As in, who knows if that ancient civilization was right? Who knows if it will happen at all? What can we do about it?

I have an answer for that: Absolutely nothing.

There isn’t a thing we can do if the world is going to stop for humanity. If a dinosaur killing meteorite comes plummeting to our planet or if Aliens decide to go postal on us or if Mother Nature decides it has had enough and we suffer through another dark age. The fact is there just isn’t a thing we can do about it. So why worry?

Go about your business. Pursue the work that makes your heart sing. Let the people you care about know it.  Take the time to look up and see the beauty around you. Appreciate the wonder that is life. Smell those roses and all that jazz. In other words, live your life like you do every year but maybe with a little more kindness.