How to Take Bigger Risks This Year

Something fascinating happened to me a few years ago that was worth repeating. I had this experience that totally changed my perspective on how I would think and do things in my business and my personal life.

Here’s what happened—

I had decided to go to the DMV, yes everyone’s favorite place to make jokes about.  I had been putting it off for almost a year and I had to finally deal with getting a new title. I actually wanted to cross if off my to-do list!  (I had paid off my car loan—yeah, and needed to get the lien holder name off my car title.)

I had a phone meeting that day with a colleague and as we were wrapping up I said that I had to head out to the DMV. It was 11am on December 30 and she thought I was crazy and said good luck; it will probably take a few hours.

Well, I had positive thoughts running through my head as I was driving over there that I’d be in and out in 30 minutes.  As I got into the parking lot it was NOT looking good. I found one of the last parking spots.  And at this lot, there are no meters you have to go to a central machine to pay for your parking. Now this was a HUGE lot and there was a doubly huge line just WAITING to pay for parking.

Here’s the part of the story to take note of—something just switched on in my brain when I saw that long line.  My brain went into high gear calculating how best  leverage this situation.  And at that split second, I decided to count the number of people in line to pay the machine for parking—there were over 15 people. AND the kicker is as I waited in this line to pay for parking— I thought ALL of these people WILL be ahead of me in the DMV.  So I made a mental note of the person in front of me—a young guy with a red hat (this will be important later.)  And that’s when I made the rash, big risk decision to leave the line and make a run for the DMV.

When I got into the DMV, there were only 2 people in front of me at the desk—double yeah!  The bigger risk I took was I bet big that I would NOT get a ticket because I’d be in and out of the DMV before I would have even reached the head of the line at the parking machine to pay for parking.

Guess what—my taking a bigger risk PAID OFF! I WAS in and OUT of the DMV in 10 minutes, and it was FREE to change my title! I had two options—pay $60 and wait to get a new one issued, or for FREE, they’d make a copy of my title, cross off the lien holder and put it in my file.  So of course, I chose the FREE one. No need to get a new title until I sell my car, which won’t be for a long time!  The important thing for the DMW was that there was no lien on the title and that I owned the car.

As I walked by the parking machine line, the young guy with the red hat who was in front of me was now #4 in line to pay. So the important lesson is I would have STILL been in line if I had stayed and now I was done and was able to hop in my car and go home! The only thing it cost was gas to get there and 30 minutes of my time!  Seriously I was home by 11:30 am.  So by me taking a bigger risk, risking getting a parking ticket because I bet I could be in and out of there before I’d even get the chance to pay for parking.  AND—looking at that line thinking how would a policeman even be able to tell or bother giving a ticket with SO MANY PEOPLE still in line.

The lesson I’d love for you to take away— is —To Take Bigger Risk’s, think BIGGER for yourself, your life, your business. Don’t be stuck in your old ways. Look for ways to save time, money, and leverage yourself, your time and your people who work with you.

What I want for you is to have an amazing year every year. I keep doubling my business — And I am even more thrilled and I will take even bigger risks moving forward, and the goal is to triple it. And I know I will do it by thinking bigger and taking bigger risks.

Here’s to monetizing yourself and your business and making your business outstanding!

Am I the Type of Person People Want to be Around?

In my last blog, I encouraged you to pay attention and be aware of whom you’re hanging out with. As I wrote and posted that blog last week, the thought came to mind “Am I the type of person people want to be around?”  I am going to share my thought process as I evaluate if I truly am the type of person someone wants to be around.

1.      Do I personally encourage others? 

Believe it or not, there is a real and fake way to encourage others.  Can you identify a real encouragement versus a fake encouragement?

  • Encouragement One: (You and someone that works for you – you tell this to someone else.)

You: “I think Melanie is the glue that holds our business together. 

Department Manager: “Hiring her as Project Manager` was the best thing for our business”

You: “She really has done an amazing job at re-vamping the daily project flow.  We have gotten three more clients in the two weeks since she started as Project Manager.” 

  • Encouragement Two: (You and Melanie, someone that works with you.)

You: Melanie, you really have a natural talent at organization.  The amount of work you have been getting done this past two weeks has been phenomenal!

Melanie, Project Manager: Thank you.  I am glad you gave me this opportunity to prove to you what I can do to help your business. 

You: Keep up the good work-especially with getting new clients!  I have full faith in you and your potential! 

If you said, Encouragement One was a fake way to encourage people, than you are right!  Granted, before I explain this, know that both options are good ways to encourage others but option two is more personal.  Telling  how much you appreciate Melanie, who works with you, is a form of encouragement.  The reason it’s fake is you are not taking the time to tell Melanie as well face to face like in encouragement two. When you encourage others, PERSONALLY tell them.

2. Am I always saying “No” to new ideas or offers? 

  • In Your Business:

When it comes to running a business or overseeing a group of people, this is something where you must find the right balance.  I am not saying to always
say “Yes” to all the off the wall crazy ideas someone may come up with.  In doing this, your business may run the risk of going off track and losing its main focus.  What I am saying is this: If someone presents you with an idea that comes with a detailed proposal, don’t say NO right away.  This is especially true if they hardly ever share ideas or is relatively new.  By saying “NO” right away, you are presenting yourself as unapproachable.  At the same time, pay attention as you can apply this principle to your personal life as well.

  •  In Your Personal Life:

Do you hear your friends often say “You’re going to say no but I’m going to ask…”?  Have your friends all of sudden stop asking you to go out with
them?  If yes, you might want to evaluate how much of a friend you are being by always saying no.  It’s true you have to find a balance between family and friends, but both need attention and that can be challenging. The key is to find the right balance best for you.

Tune in next week as I cover the last two parts of my thought process in answering the question “Am I the type of person people want to be around?”

Whose Shoes Are You Walking In?

Your customers, (this includes those that have not bought anything from you but who have read your blog and subscribed to your newsletter or visited your website) look to you for help, motivation, advice, entertainment, and valuable information.

To really do this effectively you have to walk in your customers shoes.

Everyday I encounter businesses that really miss the mark on this.

One way to really get this is to BE your customer.  Go to your website, cruise it like a potential customer, sign up for your optins. Even better, get your friends, colleagues, and those that work for you to do the same.  Have them document what they see and how they feel during the experience.  There’s a lot to be said about doing this. In fact there’s a huge business that focuses just on that and it’s called “mystery shoppers,” having someone pose as a potential customer and they document their experience. This works well in bricks and mortar places like dentist offices or doctor’s offices.  By doing this, you will be very surprised by the results.  In fact, you could take it one step further and create a short survey for anyone to answer who you ask to go to your website, your newsletter, etc., and get them to document their experience on your survey. For more information about surveys and how to use them to make more money in your business— www.CreateAmazingSurveys.com

What I would recommend is that you start paying closer attention to your own everyday encounters with other businesses, colleagues, bosses, or clients that are either less than satisfactory or extremely pleasant. Really be aware of your own thoughts and reactions when you are annoyed or frustrated or if you find yourself very impressed.

Anytime you encounter something that starts to make the little hairs on the back of your head stand-up, stop and think about why.  What is causing your reaction?  It could be something that seems to be very small but is in actuality significant.

Maybe you are trying to download a free report and you are being asked to fill out a lengthy form to get it.

Or you sent and email to someone and they only responded back with one or two words because they are on their mobile device.

Or you get asked for your zip code at a particular store every time you buy something, even a pack of gum.

Or you visit a website for the first time and immediately get a popup asking you to rate your experience before you even have a chance to look at the site.

Now think about what the other party could have done to make the encounter better for you and really make you eager to return or do business with them again.

Could they have given you just a bit more information that would have been helpful?  Could they have answered your question themselves rather than just pointing you to a document
or FAQ?

Could they have listened to you more carefully to better understand your situation?  Could they use less jargon on their web page to make it easier to understand?

Now go back to your own business and look at every place you interact with your customers, colleagues, bosses, employees, and others.  Really pay attention to how you present
yourself, your information, and advice.  Are you really providing the best possible experience?  Are you really avoiding the mistakes and behavior that annoy you when you are the customer?

Don’t make yourself difficult to do business with.

Let’s face it.  Standards seem to be dropping everywhere you go.  The real key to creating a successful business is paying close attention to what your customer’s experience is with your business…  This is a real opportunity for you to shine and create an amazing experience for your customers.  That is the best way to stand out from your competition and create a much more successful business.

Life is Simply Made up of Many Transitions…

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Yours truly and Melanie my godchild

I will never forget that particular day in February,  many years ago, when I received the call that my sister was on her way to the hospital because she was going to have her first baby.  This was big news in our family, mainly because she was the first sibling to have a baby. It was doubly exciting for me because I was going to be an aunt and she had asked me to be the baby’s godparent. I was awed and taken aback, sounded like a big responsibility, yet I was thrilled and jumped in with both feet as I always do.

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My mom, sister, me and Melanie at her christening

The christening was about 6 weeks later, so I booked my plane ticket and flew down to meet my little godchild. She was beautiful, always smiling, happy and had taken to me as I held her and rocked her to sleep. She loved to fall asleep on my shoulder.  It was an amazing experience, holding that little tiny baby as she was baptized and everyone looking on in the church.  The only sad thing for me was my sister lived over 1000 miles away, so I would try to make a trip once a year for a week to visit and hang out with my godchild. I remember one trip in particular we had had so much fun, that when it was time for me to go she ran onto the bed and flopped across my suitcase and declared “I’m going, pack me in your bag!”

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Melanie trying to fit into my suitcase so I can take her home with me. (She was 3 yrs old)

Fast forward 16 years later, my little godchild is not so little anymore (She’s taller than me now!).  In fact, I just got back from spending a week with her, my sister and her family.  As it turned out, my wonderful godchild was graduating from high school.  It was so wonderful to be there for her. She’s so grown up! When did that happen?  It was another amazing experience and a huge transition. In fact, my sister and I, since her first child was born, have both gone through many transitions. She moved several times and had 2 more kids, both girls.  My transitions were many, surviving 4 layoffs in 9 years, a divorce, and the poor passing of my 2 beloved Golden Retrievers.

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Melanie and I at her graduation this month. (She's 18 now!)

So, as I was sitting there in that amphitheater with my mom, watching Melanie (my godchild) walk across that stage and accept her diploma, I was awash with tears of joy and sadness.  How did this time pass so quickly?  And when did I become the “cool” aunt that all my nieces wanted to hang out with?  How bizarre to be sitting here watching a graduation of over 600 students in Houston, Texas and be struck with all the transitions we go through in life.  So, this prompted me to write because as I saw the amazing transformation of my godchild, I also know she has wonderful parents (and aunts, uncles and grand parents) who have instilled in her many survival tips and tactics of sorts on how to make it through each and every life transition in one piece.

And since I’ve been through many of my own life transitions, some of them all at once (my divorce, laid off from my job, losing my house, my best WomenOnFire1_4friend) I wrote a chapter about it for this awesome book by Debbie Phillips (Founder of Women On Fire) Women on Fire, 20 Inspiring Women  Share their Life Secrets (and Save you Years of Struggle!). I have the honor of being one of the 20 Inspiring Women who share their life secrets in Debbie Phillips new book, Women On Fire. This book is a heart-stirring and heartwarming anthology of stories written by 20 courageous and powerful women who faced real-life challenges and successfully moved through them to become authentic women on fire. Each woman shares the details of a seemingly insurmountable obstacle and describes how she summoned the strength to overcome it and emerge stronger, healthier, happier, and more deeply fulfilled. The most important part of their message is that you can do the same! If you want to discover more about my 7 Secrets to Life’s Transitions, click here!

I’m thrilled to be a part of this book, this Women On Fire movement and to have so many wonderful Women on Fire in my life – my sister, my mom, my beautiful godchild, and my nieces!

Click here to order your personal signed copy of Women On Fire by yours truly!!

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Debbie Phillips, Founder of Women on Fire and me with the new "Inspire Me" DVD

If you want to be inspired even more, check out the newly printed – WOMEN ON FIRE DVD: Inspire ME – it’s s a delightful video tour into the world of Women on Fire.

Discover ways to move forward in your life when you meet real-life women who are “on fire” about their lives. Click here for more information about the DVD and how to order.

You will experience the magic of Women On Fire Tea Parties (read more about how the Women On Fire Tea Parties saved my life) and be invited into an exclusive live Women on Fire workshop.

Daring Escape from Corporate America

I don’t know about you, but I feel like 2 years ago I made a very daring escape from Corporate America. I’d be entrenched and chained to a desk since I was 22 and that’s a long time. I had always thought that I’d be like my Dad and work at the same place forever until I retired. Yet, that was not my story and that was not meant to be for me.

My career path took some long and winding and winded turns along the way. I started out in sales and then got into marketing. My tale is long and blogs are for short stories… So suffice to say- after being laid off 3 times in 6 years, I stopped banging my head against the corporate wall. I stopped for a moment to realize that maybe that wasn’t my path any longer. Thank goodness I had and still have 2 wonderful Executive Coaches in my life (Rob Berkley & Debbie Phillips www.visionday.com) who totally supported me and helped me create my wonderful marketing, coaching and consulting business that I have today. (Photo: Debbie Phillips, Me, and Rob Berkley)

I’m writing this now for a couple of reasons-

  1. I was just highlighted in a colleagues blog which I wrote about here back in April- Pamela Skillings interviewed me and I talked at length about my experiences of daring escape. If you want to see more about my quest- check out her Escape From Corporate America blog
  2. I wrote a chapter in the most incredible book authored by Debbie Phillips that will be out later this fall Called Women On Fire 20 Inspiring Women Share Their Life Secrets (and Save You Years of Struggle!) It’s all about my very intense, gut wrenching experience and struggles in corporate America and my interesting journey. I promise I will tell you more about this in the coming months.

(Photo- Pamela Skillings and yours truly)

The takeaway from today is not the outcome- that I’m now in a 2 year old incredibly successful business that I created (albeit that sure is nice!). It’s the incredible journey I had to take to get right here. There are tons of people in my support team and my success team (which I’d recommend you get some of these folks!) who were pivotal to get me here. So why not take a moment right now and write a short gratitude list thanking all those folks who supported and helped you get you where you are today. I’ve already started mine!

Know When To Hold em, When to Fold em…

Remember this line from Kenny Rogers song The Gambler- “Know when to hold em, know when to fold em, know when to walk away and know when to run…” Well with this continuous talk of gloom and doom in the economy (I don’t watch the news anymore. Yet it seems people I talk to keep bringing up “the recession.”), this song came to mind which we could gleam some interesting things…

For one, Hillary and Obama are all over the news this week. He finally declares victory and she’s chiding away from publicly announcing he’s got the nomination. Talk about “know when to fold em…” This whole thing to me seemed to drag out forever. Thank goodness it’s coming to a conclusion. Not one to dwell on politics here, but I really liked Hillary and thought having someone with her experience in the White House might be good for our country. So it will be interesting how this will all unravel.

In fact, last night I was at this really fun event- it was a book launch party for Pamela Skillings, who just published her new book called Escape from Corporate America. I met her through a networking group over a year ago. She interviewed me and I have a mention in the book. It’s a wonderful book that will help many people during this interesting economical time. (Photo- Author, Pamela Skillings and yours truly- Shannon M.) This is where Kenny Rogers song really hits home to all the people in Corporate America who feel stuck, exhausted, not sure what to do next- they have to know when to hold em, fold em or walk away. Pamela’s book will really come in handy if you find yourself in this catch-22- need to make money, yet not liking what you do, or maybe you have a friend or family member who’s in that position. I’d totally recommend picking up a copy of this book and giving it to them. If you want to know more, you can also go to her blog- http://blog.escapefromcorporate.com/

It was a really cool and fun party in New York City. The mojitos and much rum was flowing. I was hesitant about going by myself because I wouldn’t know really anyone there. Yet, I decided to keep up with my trend of being bold and daring. So off I went on the train to New York and I ended up meeting some great like-minded people. I was introduced to Marie Forleo, a fellow info marketer who has this much talked about product called Productivity Secrets for Creative Entrepreneurs. She brought a friend of hers- Kendra Todd, who if you’ve ever watched Donald Trump’s The Apprentice, she was the 3rd Apprentice to be “hired” to work for him. It was a fascinating conversation. We had a lot in common and knew many of the same people in the information marketing world. It was a really great night to step outside of my home office for once and hang out with other fun entrepreneurs. (Photo- Marie Forleo, Kendra Todd and your’s truly, Shannon M.) I also met Margot Tohn, who is THE woman behind the Park It Guides for New York City. So if ever you’re in the city and need a place to park- her guides are IT – so check them out- http://www.parkitguides.com/

So I would encourage you if ever in doubt about going to an event alone, take the chance, be daring, step out of your comfort zone. I promise you won’t regret who you’ll meet and what might be in store for you in your business and in your life. Go take that chance and be bold!