Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I am a puppreneur

I have always had a lot of respect for the mompreneur, juggling infants/ children while running a business.  And I have sort of joined their ranks, but I am a puppreneur.

My days are currently spent working around this new addition to our household. It is said that puppies actually initially sleep 18 hours but the trouble with our guy is when those 18 hours occur:). Initially he declared the hours of 2.00-5.00am as "playtime". Now I am a morning person, but even this is a stretch.  So we've taken to trying to poop him out so he sleeps more at night and as I run down our long driveway with the dog, I am not sure just who I am tiring out - Brodie or me?  

As someone who is used to being in control of her life, I have suddenly found my life revolving around this " four on the floor" as one friend described him.  I am grabbing moments to work when he is asleep, and have moved my office temporarily to the main floor, so  I can keep an eye on him, but to be honest, it is not ideal.

Now I've had puppies before, and I knew it would be a rude awakening, but it is like when you have your second child and you are in labour again, and you say to yourself, how could I have forgotten???  Truth is, like having a baby, we just have to get through the pain to get to the gain.

Plus, I can now brag that I live in a gated community. With baby gates at every turn, I am really wishing I had longer legs as I try to stretch over the gates and land gracefully at the other side, but reality is I tend to make an ungainly landing.  Making a quick escape is not on the cards for any of us:)

But my, he is cute.  It was love at first sight. and watch for the business lessons I am bound to find as the new puppreneur.  Already I am learning patience, setting priorities and being sleep-deprived, I am cutting myself some slack.  Not bad for week one.

PS - I know the boots have to be removed:)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Our attitude to risk

In his broken English, the elderly Italian café owner took our order, but he hesitated before he moved away and asked my husband if he could ask a question. “Is that a good watch?”  he asked.  My husband replied yes.  “Then put it away,” he advised.

That was our first official sign that Naples had a high crime rate.  Although the staff at the hotel in Rome, had warned us about taxi scams and the like.

I immediately took off my watch and zipped it into my purse.  My husband, on the other hand, waited until we got back to our hotel, and then took it off and we locked them away in our room.  As I looked around after that, I noticed not many people wore watches, especially the tourists.  Maybe it was the old boy’s mission to warn us all about the dangers out there.

But to a certain extent, I let the café owner’s warning colour my visit. I became much more cautious, hugging my purse close to me, always zipped up. I’d almost scan an area, looking for potential trouble. If we ended up in a dubious-looking street, I had us turn back. 

And when we went for a late drink in the square near our hotel and observed cocaine being bought, sold and used, I was decidedly uncomfortable and anxious to leave Naples, with its crime and drug scene, behind us.

Yet, it didn’t seem to faze my husband at all. He felt we were being practical, taking steps to protect ourselves and our property, and should just step out, not be afraid and enjoy the experience. 

As I reflect on our different reactions, it strikes me that this is perhaps indicative of how men vs. women do business as well. 

Men tend to forge ahead, unafraid of risk as they are confident that they’ve taken the right steps and precautions and therefore should succeed. 

Women, on the other hand, are more risk averse.  Their perfectionism can hold them back as they want it all right before they proceed.  One sign of trouble, and they question their wisdom, while men seem to bounce back.

I don’t regret visiting Naples.  It was an eye-opener and even fodder for this blog, but my main take away, is that I need to chill, be less nervous and not imagine danger lurking around every corner.  (Even if it was).

Friday, July 18, 2014

Made a mistake? Say sorry.

I hate to make mistakes.  But I am not perfect (I know, surprising news). But in some ways, it is what you do after you’ve goofed that is the true learning experience.

I remember totally blowing it with a sponsor and accidentally leaving her off a thank-you ad.  I was mortified. I couldn’t sleep and had this knot in my stomach.  How could that have happened?  Naturally I immediately apologized and rectified the situation, as much as I could and ran a second ad that thanked her company.  But the damage was done and for weeks, I was constantly berating myself for making the mistake in the first place. 

Saying you are sorry straight away and doing something to rectifiy or compensate someone goes a long way to making the mistake go away.  It is when, as the customer, that your concerns are ignored, or worse,  dismissed or ridiculed, that the problem escalates.  All any of us want is to have our feelings heard and validated, and even if you don’t agree, my advise is to listen, say sorry and take some action.

Now you can go overboard.  I always remember a story that one of our members would share about her days as a flight attendant, when she mistook a lacy sleeve to belong to a woman, and without really looking quickly asked “her” if she’d like a paper? 

You can imagine her horror when, on looking up, she discovered it was a rather famous skater.  She then proceeded at every turn to apologize, and kept up a stream of apologies for the whole flight.  Did this rectify the situation?  No.  In fact, she made it worse.  So her conclusion was that you say sorry, and move on. 

Making a mistake is a humbling experience, especially if there is an audience to witness what has happened.   No one likes to look foolish but people’s view of you can dramatically change depending on how you react.  When you work with integrity and respect, you can in fact turn a mistake into a redeeming situation, where observers note and admire how you handled a difficult situation.  Or you can totally blow it, hope it will just go away and in the end, make it worse.

Much of my reputation at Company of Women is tied up in the high quality speakers I bring in.  So you can imagine my horror when with a full house, we had a speaker who well… let’s just say she shouldn’t give up her day job, and perhaps seek counselling. 

I was horrified as the evening progressed and I also couldn’t get her to stop talking.  I had to physically go on stage and take the microphone from her.

Now we had a large number of women in the audience for whom this was their first experience with Company of Women.  So what did I do?  I sent out an email first thing the next morning, apologizing and assuring people that “normal service will resume” and offered a discount for a future event. That email earned me lots of brownie points and instead of losing participants, I went up in their estimation.

Mistakes happen.  Often when we have too much on our plate, get distracted or are just plain tired.  It is what you learn from them and what you do afterwards that can turn a bad situation into a positive one. And beating yourself up about it, leaves you stuck.  So learn, let go and move on.

Friday, July 11, 2014

I am being lazy and hazy this summer

I have just come back from two weeks of vacation.  It was such a welcome break. No phones. No emails. No people.  

Just my husband and I exploring Italy and all it had to offer, which was lots.

I had intentionally decided not to access email, although these days, despite the heavy roaming charges, that is easy to do.  

But that makes it too easy to slip back into work mode and have your mind consumed with business issues, instead of just relaxing and enjoying all that the vacation affords you.

I remember doing that on a previous holiday and suddenly finding myself sucked back into the business vortex and worrying about stuff that could and would wait.

My challenge now is I am back, and as I jokingly said to a friend, I don’t want to be back.  I am not ready to jump into the fray again. One of the joys of being a business owner, is I don’t have to.  I can determine my working hours and shape how my day runs, well, as much as anyone can.

So I am on summer hours. Yes, I will check my emails – but once a day – not continuously. Yes, I will do some writing and yes, I will start to formulate my program plans - in my head - but that’s it. 

No heavy business meetings, no time-consuming discussions that go nowhere.  I plan to be strategic with my time, and only do what I need to do,  to coast for July or what I love to do.

It is a shame we can’t do this year round.  Think what fun it would be – just doing what you want to do, and when you want to do it.  Who knows, maybe you can – I just have never tried.  But it sure is tempting…

I know that when I open the door to September, it will come flooding in.

What about you?  How is your summer shaping up?

Monday, July 07, 2014

Just voting myself off your island

One thousand, three hundred and fifty eight.   

That’s the number of emails I found lurking in my in-box when I got back from vacation.

While the new CASL requirement is a bit of an administrative nightmare in terms of capturing people’s permission and opt-in to your mailing lists, I have enjoyed responding, or more to the point, not responding (in other words choosing not to opt-in) to the numerous mailing lists that I appear to be on.

Many of them I would never, ever, have signed up for in the first place and you do wonder where exactly a website devoted to having better ankles or one around chocolate fountains got my email address?  I guess these spam tactics will be greatly reduced by the new legislation.

The timing is great too, because the size of my inbox clearly indicates my urgent need to unsubscribe, and I have been, with great energy and enthusiasm. It is very empowering to take charge of your inbox.

And to friends and members to whom I have also unsubscribed – nothing personal.  While I am always interested in what you are up to,  I just don’t have the time to read all the newsletters.  I wish you well, but I am in decluttering mode.

Everyone seems to have been in panic-mode to clean up their database, and that is a good thing. But actually you do have a two-year window in which to meet the new legal requirements.  So that’s what I am going to do… take my time and do it properly.