Thursday, July 29, 2010


This spring we had a panel of successful athletes share how to develop a winning attitude. Much of their conversation focused on our inner talk, and how when we focus, visualize ourselves winning, it can happen.

So I was interested to read the latest research in a recent issue of Psychologies about whether women really have the winning instinct. Traditionally we assume that women are less competitive than men, and lack the killer instinct that will enable them to win at all costs. However, the latest research shows that women can and do compete, they just experience the stress of competing differently to men.

“We found that men and women were just as good as each other at coping with stress, but worry about different things.” Observes sports psychologist .Dr. Mariana Kaiseler. “Men are more stressed by outcomes and whether they will win or lose. Getting the reward is their main motivation.” Women on the other hand are more concerned about performance. Men rely on planning prior to a game, while women prefer to talk about their anxieties.

Significantly researchers have found that while women admit to more anxiety, it doesn’t appear to make them less successful. If anything admitting to anxieties and fears can be positive. Women tend to be more co-operative and have greater levels of self-disclosure and as a result, they are more likely to get help for a problem. Whereas men are more closed and don’t like to admit to weaknesses.

Another female trait is that women tend to downplay their abilities on and off the sports pitch, but men come across as more confident and tend to rate themselves higher, whether worthy of that rating or not.

Sports psychologists describe mental toughness as key to success and there are the four C’s – commitment to winning, confidence, ability to control your emotions and view a stressful situation as a challenge. Certainly as entrepreneurs we often see challenges as opportunities.

Here are four tips that the sports psychologists provide on cultivating a winning instinct:

1. Overcome negative thoughts – Walk away or distract yourself if you fall into negative predictions of what could happen.

2. Don’t let one mistake colour the rest of your performance. See it as a one-off and look at ways to learn from that situation.

3. Reflect on why really want to win and do well. Is it to please other people or does the desire come from within you to prove yourself?

4. Accept that you are not perfect. After making an error, the best players refocus very quickly on what’s in front of them. Learn to deal with setbacks and move on.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Have you ever noticed how some words take on a whole meaning of their own? How we can get the wrong end of the stick by making quick assumptions?

For example, much is written these days about social media and if you just latch on to the word social you could assume, wrongly in my view, that it was just about making friends and being social, rather than being about business and involve work.

When I worked in government I reported to someone who didn’t like the word play with regards to children – it sounded too frivolous to him – so we had to change all the wording in documents to read knowledge-based activities. Given that children learn through play this wasn’t far off the mark, but why make it so complicated and what was wrong with saying it as it is?

More recently, I’ve come across the book The One Page Business Plan which my Me Inc participants asked me to include in the program. Now this is a useful book and it does walk you through the process, but the words one-page do imply a quick fix, an easy task. That you can boil down your plans to one page, actually requires a lot of work. You still have to go through the research, do your homework and think through what you actually want to achieve. The fact that you can capture it on one page is the bonus, but without doing the work required to get there, it’s a waste of paper.

We live in a world that wants instant fixes, that makes quick assumptions and judgments, and sometimes, we just have to slow down, and do it the old-fashioned way –one step at a time.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


We just got cows on our farm, which I suppose given the acronym of Company of Women may seem appropriate. But I was not enthusiastic, and in fact told my husband that living on a farm was one thing, but I hadn’t signed up for cows.

Of course, regardless of my concerns, he went ahead. There are eight of them – mainly black and white and one brown fellow that kind of gets left out by the others. It’s as if they know she’s different.

My fears focused on the noise – like they would wake us up early at weekends – and the smell, and I have to confess neither has happened. In fact I think I have only heard them “moo” once. They are in such a large field, which admittedly is near the farmhouse, but we hardly ever see them. In fact I started to get concerned one day when I hadn’t seen them for a while. I had this picture in my mind of them lying legs in the air in the middle of the field, and we’d never know.

You may be thinking this is all very nice and domestic Anne but what does it have to do with business? Well, my point to this story is that sometimes the worst doesn’t happen and when we are open to new experiences, we can be pleasantly surprised. I actually like having them around – but ssh that’s our secret – heaven knows what Andy would get next if he knew he’d converted me.

And no, we haven’t named them. Although my son-in-law came up with a few names like sirloin steak and ground beef.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Is there part of your work that always seems to be a thorn in your side – sort of a necessary evil? That is how I feel about our print directory. I never forget the first one we did – it was like Murphy’s Law – what could go wrong, did. From losing the database to computer crashes to people getting sick, the 2004 directory finally appeared six months late and in 2005!

And here we are again. We’re about to publish the directory – this time using a new format – and already we’ve hit a snag. A pretty big one. Despite all the emails, the reminders and prompts, over 120 members have not got their information up on the website, which is where we take the data for the print directory.

So like the teacher chastising the tardy students, last night I emailed each and every one of them to give an extended deadline, with the warning that if they don’t get it in by then, they’re out of luck and we proceed without them.

I know we are all busy with far too much to do, myself included. Although I have to say, I work well to deadlines. My concern is that you can bet some of these people will be the first to complain that they didn’t get any business through us, when they haven’t done their bit to make it happen.

There, lecture over. The one good thing from the personal emails, is that members seem grateful that we’ve taken the time to contact them. Personally I call it customer service.

Friday, July 09, 2010


When my kids were growing up, they would often ask where something was before even looking for it, and invariably it was right in front of them. And at times, well occasionally, they thought Mom had extra-special vision as even from a distance I would instinctively know where something was located.

Unfortunately some of us carry this practice into adulthood, and rather than persevere and try to learn for ourselves, we automatically assume we can’t and ask someone else for the answers or to do it for us. I know I have been guilty of this one, especially around anything technical or mathematical.

But really we sell ourselves short. And think of the sense of accomplishment, if we worked it all out and did it for ourselves. So next time you are faced with something you are not sure how to do, take a deep breath, tell yourself you can, and give it the “good college try” because when we revert back to the practices of childhood, we don’t move forward, in fact we go back.

Thursday, July 01, 2010


To celebrate Canada Day, one of our farm neighbours held a barn dance last weekend where we all learned to square dance.

Definitely a new experience and I have to confess, my husband was a reluctant participant. He’s hard to get on the dance floor at the best of times, let alone to learn something new.

It was interesting to see how the instructor taught us. First he would walk us through the steps – starting with basics, then we did it to music. We’d have a break and then he’d up the ante a bit, and teach us something a bit more complicated. This went on all evening, until the finale which was by far the most difficult routine.

Not sure what he does for his day job, but he sure understood how adults learn. He built it up gradually, rather than shoving us in at the deep end. He let us walk through the steps without music first so that by the time we did the dance, we had a sense of what to do. By the end of the evening, we had more confidence and could tackle that last dance, but if he’d started there, he would have lost us. Giving us breaks worked well too – and actually we needed them because it is quite a work out.

Starting a business is just the same. We need to start in the shallow end. Do our homework, learn the basic steps and building on that, move forward. So often people are impatient, anxious to get going, without realizing that you have to lay the foundation if you want to build a solid business.

Just as Gary Vaynerchuk says in his book, Why Now is Time to Crush It! Cash in on Your Passion, you have to prepare yourself for a marathon. Few of us make it in a sprint.

And as for the square dancing – you know what - it was fun.