Work-Life Balance Beyond the Summer

work-life-balanceThe summer holidays are winding down, meaning that the hustle and bustle of regular office life will be coming back into most organizations come September. Our offices here at the Wish Group have been busy, but there’s no denying that there’s an absence of people thanks to vacation time and such.

Taking time off is tough for most entrepreneurs – myself included. I touched briefly on this in the past, but I wanted to revisit it since it seems more relevant now. As gung-ho as you may be towards your business, you can’t give always give a resounding “yes!” every time an opportunity comes up that will make you put in extra hours.

Learning to say no is the first step towards having a good work-life balance. As much as you think that working that extra five hours will do you and the company good, you may be missing the importance on some important events and putting your health at risk too.  Here are some advantages and advice for how to have a great work-life balance.

Don’t Miss Out on Things That Matter – Some things only come around once a lifetime, like important milestones for your children or events from your friends. Although events like these seem like daily routines today, unfortunately the grim truth is that they won’t last forever. Take time to enjoy the big events as well as the small ones. How does this affect your business? It helps you realize that it’s sometimes the little things that help grow your business or retain a client.

Time to Refuel – A car can only run for so long without having to fill up at the gas station. If machines need to stop from time to time, rest assured, you do too. A pit stop doesn’t mean you are further from your destination, but rather it means that that you can sustain your power the entire route. In business and in life, you need to take a break so that you can come back to work with a full tank.

Try to Keep Work and Life Separate – People mix this up all time. A work-life balance doesn’t mean that you work in between your relaxation time. Just like you schedule meetings to wholly focus on a client, you need to schedule time to wholly focus on yourself. Detach yourself from work and focus on spending time with your friends, family or even just yourself.

Your Health – Working long hours can lead to physical and mental exhaustion, which can eventually deteriorate your health.  In the short term, you lose your ability to think clearly when making important decisions. Long term, a foggy mind and slower reflexes can harm your professional reputation, due to ineffective or slow performance on a consistent basis.

At the end of the day, learn to take a breather once in a while, be it a long vacation or just a day off. I promise it won’t kill you. In fact, I guarantee it’ll make you stronger.

3 Things I Would Tell My Younger Self

YoungerSelfI’ve made plenty of mistakes during my time as an entrepreneur. While I could have dwelled on them and got crushed by them, luckily I’ve always used them as lessons to push me forward. That being said, there’s a reason why mentors are usually those who are older than us.

Simply put, they’ve lived through the mistakes first hand and as such, know how to deal with any new problems that arise by thinking back on how they handled previous problems and applying these lessons to their current situation.

Now that I’m at an age where I frequently mentor young entrepreneurs, I honestly wish that I could tell my younger self some key lessons. Although there are many of them, here are my most important ones.

Learn to Say No – This one is one of the most difficult things to learn because we often see any new opportunity as an opportunity for growth. However, not all opportunities will be valuable in the long run. Take the time to evaluate your opportunities and cut the cord if it will act as a roadblock to your success.

Learn to Listen – Two ears and one mouth – they should be used in that order. Few people actually stop to take the time to listen, preventing them from truly understanding and learning. There are often times when you need to slow down because your deeper understanding of a subject that you got from listening will take you to the next level.

Don’t Be Afraid to Be You – We spend our childhood trying to fit in and our adult years trying to be different. Sometimes we never grow out of the desire to be like those around us. However, trying to be someone that you’re not will lead to an unfulfilled life. The best thing that you can offer those who you do business with is your genuine self. Your unique personality and insight is what your clients are truly after, since those traits and talents shine through your company.

These are the pieces of advice that I simply didn’t understand when I was younger. In fact, even I was to go back and tell my younger self this, I’m not sure if (a) I would understand or (b) if I would even listen. I believe that, for better or worse, people learn from harsh lessons rather than always heeding advice from others. It may not be simple, but try to keep your mentors advice in the back of your mind the next time you make a big decision.

Failure Isn’t The End

Failure-Isnt-The-EndThere’s a big misconception when it comes to failure. Ever since we’ve been children, we’ve seen that failing is nothing but a negative experience. Teachers would be disappointed and parents would yell at you for failing a test. If you failed a course, you’d use up your valuable summer time taking make-up courses. There has always been negativity associated with failure.

Things change once you’re an entrepreneur. By no means am I saying that failure gets easier. It still sucks, and it still stings and lingers with you for quite a while. However, when either your business or your product fails, it doesn’t mean that you should call it quits and give up. Quite the opposite, actually. I’ve touched on this in a few previous blog posts, but I thought it was time to dedicate an entire post on the often not discussed upsides of a failure.

It Makes You Stronger: As I mentioned in my previous post, when an athlete experiences failure, they don’t let it crush them. How many times have you seen a team lose a game, only to have the whole team give up? Obviously they don’t and neither should you. There is no one failure that should completely make you give up entirely. You need to dig deep and find out what you could have done to prevent the failure. If you couldn’t have prevented it, at the very least the experience will make you a better person and teach you about yourself.

It Teaches You Multiple Lessons: Besides teaching you about yourself, you’ll also learn a lot about your business. Specifically, it’ll teach you about the strengths of your team, which is always valuable to know. While you shouldn’t necessarily blame a team member for the failure, you’ll know what areas they can improve on, and where you can mentor them to become better. If the failure revolves around a product launch, you’ll be able to pinpoint what needs to be changed about your product and why the market didn’t latch onto it.

It Makes You Re-Evaluate: Once failure teaches you a lesson, the obvious next step is to re-evaluate. As hard as it might be to accept, perhaps there simply isn’t a market for your product, or perhaps there’s a crucial element that you’ve over looked. This is the time where you make changes to your work formula and make some tough decisions to continue moving forward. This is also the time to listen to any feedback that you’ve received, particularly negative feedback, as this is what will accurately tell you what you need to reconsider.

At the end of the day, don’t let one or even multiple failures stop you. You need to build your own path, and stay strong while you’re on the road to greatness. I’m curious to know what failures you’ve had as entrepreneurs, and what lessons have they taught you?

Pushing Aside Fear When Selling

sales_fearIn my blog post last week, I talked about fear holding you back when you’re an entrepreneur and discussed different methods that I thought would be useful for getting over your fears. Once you’ve understood and overcome your fears, you’ll be able to help others get over theirs. This will come in particularly handy with your sales team.

Your sales team may be holding themselves back from getting new clients simply because of their fears. However, like I discussed last week, these can be overcome with constant work and luckily most sales people have very similar fears, either consciously or unconsciously. Here are the most common fears of sales people that I’ve seen, and what you can do to help them overcome it.

Fear of Closing the Sale – No matter how amazing the product or service you’re selling is, it’s extremely rare that people will blatantly tell you that they want to buy it. Most of the time, you have to ask people to buy your product – which is a surprisingly big fear for most sales people. When I’ve asked people in the past why they’re afraid of closing the sale, they told me that they were afraid of coming across as forceful or stubborn. In reality, you should NEVER be afraid of what other people think of you. At the end of the day, you’re doing your job just like everyone else. You shouldn’t fear how someone will react to you doing something that you love.

Fear of Following Up – Tying in with the above fear of other people’s perception, some sales people never follow up with their prospects because of a fear of being perceived as annoying or obnoxious. You need to put this aside, simply because it’s extremely rare that you or anyone will sell something successfully on your first try. In fact, according to The National Sales Executive Association, only 2% of sales are made on the first contact, while an astounding 80% of sales are made on the twelfth contact or higher. If your sales people never follow up due to fear, they’ll never sell your product or service.

Fear of Rejection – This is the big one, and it doesn’t only happen to sales people. Fear of rejection is one of the biggest and most common fears that people have. There’s no set method to get over a fear of rejection, but the best piece of advice that I can offer you is to not take it personally. While your personality does play a role in whether or not you make a sale, most of the time your prospect won’t buy a product from you for a variety of reasons, not because they dislike you, so there’s no point in blaming yourself for a lost sale. Just learn your lesson from it, and move onto the next prospect.

Does your sales team regularly talk about their fears with you? If so, how do you mentor them to overcome them? I look forward to discussing this topic with you.

Don’t Halt Creativity in Your Office – Let it Grow

fostering-creativityNo matter what type of industry you’re working in, creativity is the foundation of exceptional work. If you’re not fostering that creativity in your workplace, your team won’t produce the best work that they’re capable of. I touched this point briefly in one of my previous blog posts, but I decided that I should expand on this issue because of how important it is. Making sure that your work environment is a transparent and accessible space for ideas to flow will let your team reach new creative heights, allowing them to produce stimulating work at the same time.

Be a Mentor: I know I’ve discussed this point to no end in other blog posts, but I come back to it so often because I can’t stress how important it is to provide an avenue for creative growth. You simply can’t bring someone onto your team without providing constructive criticism and constant mentorship. However, you can’t micro-manage people either; you need to find a balance where you can give them a space to devise their ideas, and then see how you can help these ideas grow.

Have an Open Door Policy – and Mean it: Tying in with my last point, a phrase that is often tossed around by leaders when a new team member is brought in is “my door is always open”, yet this isn’t always the case. When you tell your team that your door is always open – mean it. Be available to them when they have ideas, suggestions or even just banter. Not only does this make you more human from your staff’s point of view, it also makes them more comfortable with you. This means that they’ll feel at ease when they suggest outlandish (and often creative) ideas.

Encourage Open Discussion: When you come together with your team for a brainstorming session, you should ask everyone present to throw an idea on the table, no matter how “bad” they feel the idea is. This open exchange of creativity often leads to some great ideas created from a thought that could have been discarded. A great idea is simply a bad idea that has been refined.

Reward Great Ideas: One of the simplest and most effective ways to foster creativity in your workplace is to reward great ideas. Of course, this doesn’t mean punish bad ones, but when there is a fantastic idea brought to the table you need to praise and reward these efforts. Don’t go overboard and give every admirable thought a new car – it can be something as simple as a cup of coffee or showing them praise in a companywide e-mail.

Do you feel like you’re doing enough to encourage creativity in your workplace? What methods do you use at your office? Do you feel like your team is comfortable sharing all of their creative thoughts? I would enjoy discussing this topic with everyone in the comments. 

Check Your Ego at the Door

“If you always hire people who are smaller than you are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. If, on the other hand, you always hire people who are bigger than you are, we shall become a company of giants.” –  David Ogilvy

I have had the pleasure of working with many businesses over the years, helping entrepreneurs to build up their businesses and watching them flourish as leaders in the process. Many of them went on to become successful business leaders, others… not so much. Though many people talk about the passion and “never say die” attitude required to succeed in business, a quality that I have observed in successful leaders, and one that doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it deserves, is ego.

Successful business leaders are not afraid to admit their weaknesses, they know that there is always something more they can learn and an area that can always be improved. They understand that the growth and success of their business is not entirely a product of their own making, but is a collaborative effort of talented and dedicated individuals all working together towards a common goal – no matter how great a sports coach is, he isn’t going to win a championship with lousy players. Successful business leaders surround themselves with the best and brightest, freeing themselves to do what they as leaders do best – planning and developing the future growth of their business. They know exactly where they want to go, and put together the best team possible to help them get there – in a sense, they work on their business, not in their business.

On the other side of the coin is the mediocre business leader. They think they know everything and everyone else knows nothing. They are always right no matter what  because they view themselves as the single reason why their business is growing. Because of this attitude, they cannot foresee hiring anyone who is better at something than they are, and end up surrounding themselves with mediocrity which only tends to reinforce their ego. A harsh lesson that many of these mediocre business leaders learnt from the economic collapse of 2008 was that it was a hell of a lot easier to succeed in a booming economy. They had let their “success” blind them to the true realities of their situation. It was evident in the wake of the recession that the businesses that continued to survive — and even thrive — did so because of the planning of their leaders and the investment they had made in their people.

Are you prepared to become a successful business leader? You’ll need to ask yourself some tough questions and answer honestly about yourself and your own abilities. Maybe you won’t like what you hear. The real question is this: What will you learn from this exercise? And will your ego be able to handle it? Consider checking yours at the door, and maybe you’ll start down the path of building a company of giants.

Thrive Instead of Survive

Thriving isn’t something we can luck our way into. Thriving is something we must cultivate, first within ourselves and then around us. Thriving first starts as a mental shift. Then it becomes an emotional shift and then a physical shift.

Our world is a direct reflection of our thoughts, actions and emotions. For the outside to shift, the inside has to shift, too. How we do this is since we can’t luck our way into abundance, the first thing that we want to do is focus on what we already have – and what we’re grateful for. Gratitude is the attitude of the blessed.

So, what are you grateful for? I would say, “I’m grateful for this breath, for my heart that works and I’m grateful that there are people in my life who I love and who love me.. ”

After a while, I was so aware of what I did have, that I started to appreciate it and associate it to a place of gratitude rather than fear. Shifting our focus from fear to gratitude is the first step. Then what we want to do is take our focus off of money as our supply. Money is just energy in physical form. The highest form of energy in the Universe is love. So if we put our focus on what we love, who we love and what we love to do, money will follow in the perfect time. Money will eventually chase people who are doing what they love.

Then finally, we must raise our standards. Surround yourself with people who believe in your dream, who life you up and inspire you. Who you surround yourself with is who you become! So it’s important to have a supportive and loving peer group.

If we focus on what we’re grateful for, if we realize that love is our supply and not money, if we focus on serving others and if we associate with people who lift us up, we are on the path to alignment with our soul, with our purpose and not just survival, but thriving!

The Most Valuable Trait for Success

Whether as friends, parents, associates or leaders we want to have a positive impact on all of those we come in contact with on a daily basis. In my 12 years as an entrepreneur I’ve made many observations about the thousands of people I’ve interviewed and hired over that period.  I could make a list of several dozen attributes of people who seem to have success from both a professional and personal perspective as opposed to those who seem to struggle often at both.  But if you were to ask me if there were only one key criteria or common trait that I’ve observed of people who seem to live a powerful, happy successful life it would unquestionably be integrity.

Each moment of each day is an opportunity to live with a value of integrity. But what is integrity and why does it matter?  There are several definitions or examples of how to demonstrate integrity but in its simplest form, Integrity is doing what you said you were going to do or honoring your word.  There is a difference between honoring your word and keeping your word, it’s not always possible to keep your word whereas it’s possible to always honor your word.  For example, if you tell a friend you will meet up with them for lunch at 12pm and your car got a flat tire on the way to the restaurant and therefore cannot be there for 12pm you simply didn’t keep your word and the circumstances were out of your control.  However, you could have honored your word by being in communication with your friend as soon as the incident occurred and thus honoring your word.  The challenge or bad habit that a lot of us develop is we begin to believe that not honoring your word + having a good excuse = Integrity.  It simply doesn’t.

Many people live their lives this way because you can get by, no different than your car could physically drive with 3 regular tires and one of those donut spares that are meant to be temporary replacements to get you to a service station until a full replacement tire can be installed.  Most of us live our lives with that donut tire yet the challenge is we can never truly live up to our full potential as you simply can’t travel at 100 miles an hour on that donut and worst yet, if you hit a pothole or when life throws you a curve, the tire will fall off or your life seems to fall of the rails so to speak.  So if you want to live a powerful life, one that you love and attract quality people into it and live up to your full potential professionally, financially, as a friend, partner or parent, you must learn to live with integrity at all times.

Integrity is treating others the way you want to be treated, even sometimes better.

Integrity is being able to look into the mirror and say, “I like myself”.

Integrity is making decisions for the long term, not just for today.

Integrity is putting the truth on the table.

Integrity is standing up for yourself.

Integrity matters because at the end of the day and at the end of our life we answer to ourselves and nothing is more important than being able to say, “I lived a life of integrity and I would be proud to be my own friend.”

5 Roads to Wealth

One of my earliest memories from my younger years was driving around wealthy neighborhoods with my father. Together we would marvel at the beautiful estate properties and talk about how he aspired to one day own one of his own. I remember asking myself, “How does a person make this much money?”, since my neighborhood was filled with only modest family homes. When I asked my father, he simply said most of these people own their own businesses. It was there that a deep conscious seed was planted that grew in to a desire to be an entrepreneur and gain the financial status I saw on those tours with my father.

To do so has required a constant focus on personal growth. The quickest way to achieve personal growth is through reading books. If you take a trip to your local book store or library you will find hundreds of books on personal growth, self-help or business that all apply to somebody looking to improve their skills in order to create more income and wealth. In order to achieve my goals, I prided myself on focusing on the diligent study of business, successful individuals, and most importantly the wealthy inhabitants of North America. Over my last 25 years of research into North American millionaires, I’ve found all of the top earners have gained their financial status in one of five ways:

  • Inheritance:

Only 10% percent of North Americans have inherited their money, a trend that is decreasing every year.

  • Entering a Top Tier Profession:

Becoming a doctor or a lawyer or an architect has in the past been an open door to improve financial status. These top occupations require hard work, talent, and dedication; all part of the recipes to success in any terms. The down side to this route? Over saturation, and being just one face in a very talented crowd. 

  • Become Part of a Large Corporation:

You can be highly paid, you can have stock options and bonuses, and if you stay with the company long enough, various perks. Being part of corporation means being one part of (an often successful) machine.      

  • You Can Win It:

One percent of wealthy Americans got that way by winning their money some way or another. As a matter of fact, the odds of you winning the lottery are the equivalent of lightning striking twice in the same place. They’re a billion to one.

  • Start Your Own Business :

Starting your own business has been, and always will be, the high road to becoming wealthy. Entrepreneurship in North America offers more opportunities and opens more doors than all other possibilities put together. This is why it has been said that if you have the ability to start your own business or obtain equity in the company you work for, such as the Wish Group of Companies, and you don’t do it, you’re missing out on maxing not only your personal potential – but your wealth potential. As mentioned above, what I noticed about all of those beautiful estates full of all the wealthy people is that each and every one of them had a library or study full of books.