The Spirit of Giving and Grandma’s Beef Stew

It’s a wonderful time of year, with the holiday spirit reminding us to focus more on giving than receiving . Whether with our family, colleagues or clients, it’s great to feel the joy of being generous with others.

The Word Chef, Tea Silvestre, author of "Attract and Feed a Hungry Crowd."

The Word Chef, Tea Silvestre

One of the most generous business people I know is the marketing wonder woman Tea Silvestre, The Word Chef and author of Attract and Feed a Hungry Crowd (see my book review here). Tea is always cooking up fun and engaging new ideas to help people with their marketing, often only for the “cost” of your interaction with her. Contests, prizes,  challenges, videos. private groups, awards, hand written cards, MORE prizes (see picture below for one of my faves)- her prolific creativity and generosity surprise and delight.  And she’s a hoot.  Fun, clever and kind – a great combination.

Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG), courtesy of the Word Chef.

Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG), courtesy of the Word Chef.

She also does mentoring, coaching, writing, all things Word Press and offers great online programs  too.  But she doesn’t talk about that so much.  She’s much busier giving to others and building a really loyal, connected, interested and engaged tribe (she’s also a big Seth Godin fan, so you get the drift).

One of her recent challenges was to send her a picture of food, then she would write a marketing blog about it while also promoting the sender’s business and web site in the process.

photoI got Tea’s email around the time I was making the family recipe for beef stew this weekend, perfect for the rainy weather.  I had already taken a picture, so I decided to pass it along.  What’s the marketing message here?  Maybe something about marketing mix.  Or Slow Marketing?  I’m sure The Word Chef will whip up something fabulous to go along with it.  Thanks, Tea, for all you give and do.  You’re the bombe (i.e., something sweet, unique and delish)!

In the meantime, here’s the recipe.  Most of the women in my family make stew just this way, but I think the originator was my Grandma, an excellent Sicilian cook.  My mother says it’s Italian because of the tomato sauce.  It’s definitely great for fall and winter dinners.  Enjoy!

Grandma’s Beef Stew

1.5 lbs stew meat
1 T veg oil
½ onion
2 T-3T flour
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 lb green beans
3 potatoes, in large chunks (peeled or not)
3-5 carrots, in large chunks (peeled or not)
Water (add a cup of red wine if you wish)
S/P to taste
2 bay leaves (opt.)
1 cup frozen peas

Heat oil.  Sautee onion til soft.  Add meat to brown – season with S/P.  Add flour to coat meat.  Add tomato sauce plus two cans of water and stir, which will create a thick roux.  Add more S/P.  Add string beans, potatoes, carrots and bay leaves.  Add more water, can by can, until ingredients are just covered in liquid.  Add more S/P to taste.  Stir well (it’s nice to season as you go along – it layers the flavors).

Simmer at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally (you can also put everything in the crock pot and let it cook all day).  Add frozen peas about 30 minutes before serving.  Remove bay leaves, taste for seasonings and enjoy!!

Serve with freshly baked biscuits (the kind in the can is great) or rolls.

Gloria M. Miele, Ph.D. is a business development and leadership coach and Victory Circles facilitator in Southern California.  She is passionate about helping others discover and develop their strengths to achieve greater business success through coaching programs, workshops, staff training, executive coaching and keynote speaking.  Visit her website at www.optimaldevelopmentcoaching.com to sign up to receive helpful business development resources, including a free Business Planning Template. You can also connect with us at www.facebook.com/optimaldevelopmentcoaching.

Don’t Follow These Directions

Do you get a lot of email (rhetorical question, right)?  I get quite a few from other service professionals:  business and life coaches, marketing consultants, social media gurus and more.  I follow people to see what others in my field and related industries are doing.  It’s always good to learn something new and check out what the competition is up to.

Of course I don’t read them all.  And every once in a while I do a big unsubscribing purge.

But recently I opened one to read a quick tip from a business coach whose advice made me talk back to the computer and write the blog post.  The beginning of her message was great and right in line with my thinking.   Things like, “Clients struggle because they don’t have a plan – a detailed plan that moves them forward.” I totally agree.

The next recommendation was to get paper and pen and sit in a quiet place and start by writing down everything you DON’T want in your business and life.

WHAT??

That is the exact opposite place from where I tell business owners to start.    Here are a few reasons to avoid starting with what you don’t want:

  • Negativity narrows your focus.  When you think about all the things that are going wrong, your creativity and breadth of thought decrease. Negativity can stifle your thinking and shut you down.  Why would you start there??
  • Negativity decreases your mood.  No surprise here, but negativity leads to a negative mood.  Imagine how you’ll feel when you jot down all those things you’re not liking, not interested in and aren’t working?  What a drag!!
  • The Law of Attraction.  I have never seen “The Secret,” but I have experienced the phenomenon of attracting into your life what you think about, imagine and verbalize.  I’m not exactly sure how it works, but I’ve found that “putting it out there” increases your possibilities of getting it back.  Try it for a while and see what happens.

Let me suggest a different exercise.  Sit down in a quiet place for 10-15 minutes with pen and paper and answer these questions:

  • What do I love most about my business?
  • What are my favorite things to do that are also the things I do best?
  • How can I do those more often every day?
  • What DO I want in my business?

As seen on Facebook

When you start doing more of what you do well and what you love, there will be less room for the things you don’t want.

Start with your strengths and successes (and I hope you do follow these directions).

What do you want in your business?  Weigh in below.

Gloria M. Miele, Ph.D. is a business development and leadership coach and Victory Circles facilitator in Southern California.  She is passionate about helping others discover and develop their strengths to achieve greater business success through coaching programs, workshops, staff training, executive coaching and keynote speaking.  Visit her website at www.optimaldevelopmentcoaching.com to sign up to receive helpful business development resources, including a free Business Planning Template. You can also connect with us at www.facebook.com/optimaldevelopmentcoaching.

Recent Lessons in Teamwork from Project Runway

I can’t wait for tonight’s episode of Project Runway.  Heidi Klum is a glamorous, winning host and Tim Gunn is a warm and talented business man, artist and leader.  I love Nina Garcia and Michael Kors and enjoy the guest judges that contribute their perspective.  Last week, on the team challenge, designer Anna Sui was the guest judge and gave input on the relationship between team work and the quality of the collections.

Teams are (supposedly) randomly selected, but sometimes the matchups seem planned.  Regardless, these are always fun, especially on seasons like this when the personalities of the designers are so prominent.  There’s Elena, who is incredibly volatile.  She has huge problems controlling her emotions, evident on every show and with every designer.  There are the super confident (Ven and Dmitri), the quietly confident (Melissa and Fabio), and the dramatically confident (Christopher, Gunner), each with his or her own unique style and personality.

Each team had three designers.  All had different ways of working as a team that impacted their success.

Team Strength (Christopher,Sanjia, Gunner) started with some conflict between Gunner and Christopher but ended up being very functional and successful.  They each worked on their own garments, complementing each other’s work.  As Gunner described the process to the judges, Sui commented, “Well of course, you’re all using your strengths.”  Later she said, “One of the key things in designing is teamwork.  That was really smart to use each of your strengths too.  They worked together to develop a cohesive collection but they used each other’s strengths.”

Team Hostility (Elena, Alicia, Dmitri, ) was in the bottom two.   They bickered and fought in the workroom and in front of the judges.  Sui summed it up nicely:  “The conversation reflects in the clothes.”   Nina added, “It was an angry coat.”

Team Nice Guy (Ven, Melissa and Fabio) was so agreeable that their clothes were boring and not cohesive.  They were so accommodating, they didn’t challenge or push each other.   In fact, they deleted the strongest piece, Ven’s, which led to a struggle to produce a unified collection.

There are teamwork lessons to be learned here, some more obvious than others.

  1.  Use your strengths.  But don’t just use yours – use the strengths of others too.  This is always a sound approach with lots of evidence to support it.  It’s smart and simple.  In the words of Tim Gunn, “Channel your inner winner.”
  2. Use your emotional intelligence (EI).  Elena is extremely lacking in EI.  She has little self-control and is not attentive to the feelings of others.  Few people would act that way in a professional situation, but this is Project Runway, so the interpersonal rules, boundaries and expectations are a bit more fluid.  Nonetheless, the teams that exhibit more empathy, self-control and interpersonal skills are more effective.
  3. Lack of overt conflict does not preclude problems.  Just as extreme hostility will trip you up, so will extreme agreeability.  Yes, you can be too nice.  Effective teams challenge each other to succeed.

There are other patterns here too.  What did you notice?  What experiences have you had working in teams when people are (or are not) using their strengths?  How do you “make it work”?

Gloria M. Miele, Ph.D. is a Business Development and Leadership Coach and Victory Circles facilitator in Southern California.  She is passionate about helping others discover and develop their strengths to achieve greater business success through coaching programs, workshops, staff training, executive coaching and keynote speaking.  Visit her website at www.optimaldevelopmentcoaching.com to sign up to receive helpful business development resources, including a free Business Planning Template. You can also connect with us at www.facebook.com/optimaldevelopmentcoaching.

Memories of 9/11

I wrote this post two years ago for the 9th anniversary of the September 11th attacks.  It’s as true and relevant today as it was two years ago and eleven years ago.  I hope to visit the memorial later this year.  Have you been to the 9/11 memorial?  Would you like to share a memory of 9/11?   Comments welcome below.  -GMM
 
Twin Towers

The Twin Towers and Lady Liberty

On the 9th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, I reflect on memories of my experience that day and the days following.  As with all significant, out of the ordinary events, most of us have vivid memories of where we were and what we were doing.  Feel free to share yours below.

 

I lived in NYC on September 11, 2001, but I wasn’t in the city that day.  Instead, my colleagues and I were at a national meeting in Crystal City, Maryland, across the highway from the Pentagon. We felt the hotel shake when the plane hit.  Soon after, we smelled smoke.  The building was locked down.  Like many others, we could do nothing but wait and watch the horrifying images on a big screen.

While phone service was limited for the first few hours, I felt reasonably certain that my daughter was safe at her preschool in upper Manhattan, over 10 miles from Ground Zero.  I had hoped that my husband was still in the city, but, when I finally reached him, I learned he had crossed the bridge soon after the first tower was hit and was stuck in New Jersey.  He ended up driving over 100 miles out of the way and taking 4 hours for a typical 18 mile, 30 minute trip home.  He had to ditch the car in the Bronx and make his way by livery cab and foot back to Manhattan.  6 hours later, he picked up our daughter and made it home.

Back in DC, the trains weren’t running; the airports were closed.  People at the meeting started talking about carpools to Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Florida.  I was able to leave the hotel that night and stayed with friends in DC, relieved for the comfort of good friends in familiar surroundings, away from the destruction and chaos that were so closeby.  Then I had to figure out how to get home.

I was able to get a train back to NYC on September 12th.  I’ll never forget the first glimpse of the two giant pillars of smoke rising from Ground Zero as the train made its way through New Jersey toward Manhattan.  The towers were gone.  The smoke and sky where the towers once stood were like a huge scar.  I will never forget these images and memories from those unfathomable days.

I’ll also never forget the changes that took place in the city after 9/11.  Everything was quieter, a startling change in a city of deafening overstimulation.  Planes weren’t flying over head , a very strange occurrence on an island with waterways that serve as giant flight paths for 3 major and multiple smaller airports in the area.  Only the occasional roar of fighter jets circling the city was heard, extremely unsettling after the air attacks.

People were also quieter.  We all seemed to be whispering.  We were also making more eye contact than is usual for New Yorkers.  Sometimes the glances were suspicious, but mostly they were supportive and sympathetic, looking for a connection, an understanding smile, or a little reassurance.

The Friday after the towers fell, I was coming home from my office in the early evening (I was working as a psychologist at the time and spent many months processing the events of September 11th with my hospital clinic and private practice patients).  I would normally take a 30-minute subway ride, but I preferred to stay above ground for while and ended up taking mainly buses and cabs for almost 2 months after the attacks.  The bus ride home would take about an hour.  My only concern was that I’d miss the candlelight vigil scheduled for 7pm.  I was hoping to participate at the park in the close-knit neighborhood where I lived, but as the bus continued its stops, it became clear I wasn’t going to make it.  At a stop in West Harlem, around 138th Street and Broadway, I saw people gathering in front of an apartment complex.  I jumped off the bus, ran across the street and joined the growing group.

A woman had a basket full of candles and was handing them out to the crowd.  Most people were speaking Spanish.  The woman with the basket started talking to me.  I told her I lived uptown but had seen the gathering from the bus and wanted to be with others for the vigil.  We shared our sadness for those who had perished and concern for the hundreds who were missing.  People started lighting each other’s candles.  The woman started the ceremony.   She spoke to the crowd, well over 100 people, in Spanish and English.  She turned and asked if I thought we should say a prayer.  “That sounds nice,” I said.  “What’s your name?”  she asked?  I told her, and she turned to the crowd and said, “Gloria has joined us and will lead us in a prayer.”  She turned back to me and asked, “Do you speak Spanish?”  “Uh, no…”, I replied.  “That’s ok, I’ll translate.”

I wish I remember what I said.  At that time in my life, I wasn’t praying too regularly, so I was a bit out of practice and certainly taken aback.  I just started talking – I know I prayed for the victims and their families, peace and healing for us all.  As I spoke, the woman with the basket translated.  When I was finished, she made a few more comments, then invited others to offer intentions.  People prayed for friends, family, friends of friends, firefighters.  People held hands and cried.

After 10 or 15 minutes, a noticed a cab pulling up near the corner.  Cabs could be hard to come by at the time, so I slipped away, got in the car and continued toward home.

I will never forget those moments on a street corner, part of a group of total strangers from diverse cultures, classes and backgrounds, sharing the grief, fear and concern that brought us together that night for a little comfort during such a stressful and frightening time.   I will never forget the feelings of hope, unity and peace that night; the feeling of connection to others;  a degree of pride and love for my country that I had never felt before; and the gratitude and sorrow for those who courageously lost their lives and for the thousands of innocent victims whose lives were changed forever.

All of our lives were changed forever on September 11th.  Today I pray for our continued healing.  And I pray for more peace, love and unity in the world that can also change our lives forever.

 

Gloria M. Miele, Ph.D. is a business development and leadership coach, speaker and trainer who uses a strengths-based approach to help individuals, groups and organizations achieve their goals and realize their greatest success.  You can reach her through her web site  www.optimaldevelopmentcoaching.com.

Golden Opportunity for the Golden State

On July 27, CA State Assemblyman Jeff Gorell and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom held a press conference at local biotech firm Amgen to launch a new state effort called “Gold Team California,” intended to bring new businesses and jobs to California.  The initiative will begin in our backyard, targeting Ventura County as a perfect place for growth. With a highly trained workforce, established biotech, defense and aviation industries, an amazing climate, outstanding Universities and great quality of life, this is a wonderful place to do business.

Unfortunately, over the past decade or more, CA has established itself as one of the least business friendly states, but our legislators want to change this.  Many other states, like Utah, Arizona and Texas, have active efforts to lure businesses from California.  For example, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas sends a box filled with Texas products and a prepaid cell phone with one number:  his.  Companies are told to give him a call when they’re ready to move (personally, a cell phone, a cowboy hat, hot links and a tax break would not be nearly enough to entice me, but that’s another story).

The Gold Team will match our local resources to businesses outside California.  In a press release, Gorell said, “The Ventura County region remains a great place to do business.  It’s time to turn the tables.  It’s time to jump into the national fight for jobs and try to bring them back to my community. “  Gorrell, Newsom and others will reach out to and meet with corporate CEOs to show them that we have the local resources and the commitment of legislators that make California a great place to do business.   “California is a great place to grow the businesses of tomorrow,” said Newsom.

I think Newsom and Gorell are a powerhouse team:  bipartisan, personable, and committed to doing the outreach to get the job done.  Working with locals on the ground, including commercial realtors, economic development agencies, Chambers of Commerce, City and County government and businesses, the Gold Team has the foundation to be successful.

Time will tell.  As a board member of the Camarillo Chamber and someone committed to economic development in the region, I am extremely excited that this is happening now.  I enjoyed hearing both men speak at the press conference and, as a member of the Chamber’s Economic Development Committee, will look forward to being involved and seeing the progress of the initiative.

I was also honored to speak to Lt. Gov. Newsom about his positive approach to change, as well as the fantastic work his wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom is doing with her non-profit, www.missrepresentation.org.  They are truly a power couple.

To learn more, watch this brief video introducing Gold Team California:  

and visit www.cagoldteam.org.

What impact do you think the Gold Team will have on drawing business to the region?  What suggestions do you have to improve its chances of success?

Gloria M. Miele, Ph.D. is a Business Development and Leadership Coach and Victory Circles facilitator in Ventura County.  She is passionate about helping others discover and develop their strengths to achieve greater business success through coaching programs, workshops, staff training, executive coaching and keynote speaking.  Visit her website at www.optimaldevelopmentcoaching.com to sign up to receive helpful business development resources, including a free Business Plan Template. You can also connect with us at www.facebook.com/optimaldevelopmentcoaching.

Guest Blogging on Social Media with Parent Click Ventura

I was recently invited to write an article for this cool site, ParentClick.com, an online publisher with its finger on the pulse of local community events for families.  I love this site, which was started by a woman who saw a need.  A new mom who wanted to know what was going on in her community, Rachael Ross Steidl first launched sbparent.com, then went national with ParentClick.com two years later.  I love a good mompreneur success story, don’t you?

One of the editors asked me to write an article about guidelines for using social media in business and with kids.  Well, I tried and tried to make a reasonable, clever and seamless connection between the two, but after a few attempts (and far too many words for one article), I suggested I write two separate posts instead.

Here are links to the articles:

1.  Social Media:  More Than Fun and Games provides a look at how building relationships on social media channels is key to engage with your audience and promote your business. These are some basic tips aimed mainly at social media newbies, but always good reminders for the regular user.

2.  Social Media for Kids discusses general internet safety, as well as specific ideas about keeping your child safe on social media.including some situations I’ve encountered with my own daughter and her friends who is the first generation of kids to adopt social media as a regular part of their social scene..

One area I did not touch on in this article was the issue of cyberbullying, which is a serious problem deserving more than a point in a blog post.  I do emphasize in the article how essential it is to monitor your kid’s social media activity, which would make it possible to detect and hopefully intervene if cyberbullying occurs.

Monitoring and education are so important to keep everyone safe and enjoying the fun of social media.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about either article.  You can register at parentclick and comment there, or comment below.  Enjoy!

 

Gloria M. Miele, Ph.D. is a Business Development and Leadership Coach and Victory Circles facilitator in Southern California.  She is passionate about helping others discover and develop their strengths to achieve greater business success through coaching programs, workshops, staff training, executive coaching and keynote speaking.  Visit her website at www.optimaldevelopmentcoaching.com to sign up to receive helpful business development resources, including a free Business Plan Template. You can also connect with us at www.facebook.com/optimaldevelopmentcoaching.

3 Quick Tips for Focus and Clarity

Did you catch me on Victory Circles Radio last week? Cheri and I celebrated the launch of her new book, Victory One Moment at a Time (see book review in last blog post).  What fun to be part of such a great accomplishment.  The book is a wonderful application of the Master Mind principles to business success.  

We also talked about “Priming Your Pump,” or increasing your focus.  I covered a few key points based in what we understand about the way the brain works.  Listen to the recording for the nuances and details.  In the meantime, here are three quick tips to help increase your focus right away.

1.  Minimize multitasking.  With all of our portable devices and demands on our attention, we have become masters at multitasking.  At least we think so.  Studies show that multitasking can decrease our mental efficiency from the IQ of a Harvard MBA to that of an 8-year-old!   Unless you’re doing something a little more automatic, like driving or knitting or cleaning house (ok, that may be automatic for someone), you are at your best when you do one thing at a time.

2.  Limit distractions (both outside and in).   You can turn off the ringer on the phone, shut down your email program, close the web browser and put a do not disturb sign on your door.  Those are the external distractions that you can control, which will help you concentrate more.  Just do it!

But sometimes those internal distractions can be just as disruptive.  Thoughts about weekend plans, your daughter’s recital, the dry cleaning, your bank account balance, or self-doubt about the quality of your next blog post can distract us from within.  Our thoughts come and go, but you can gain greater control and clarity through practices like mindfulness and meditation.  Don’t be scared – it just takes practice.

3.  Remember to Recharge.  Your energy is not limitless.  You have to take breaks, eat nutritious foods and get some exercise.  Switching up the types of activities you do – writing, planning, reading and analyzing, paperwork – will use different parts of your brain and give the other parts time to cool off.

How do you gain greater focus?  Keith Pillow of Caddy Marketing and Communications weighed in on our Facebook page, “Minimizing distractions, and operating in an environment that offers peace and serenity!”  Nice one, Keith.

Share your ideas below, and your approach may be featured in our next newsletter or blog post.

Gloria M. Miele, Ph.D. is a Business Development and Leadership Coach and Victory Circles facilitator in Southern California.  She is passionate about helping others discover and develop their strengths to achieve greater business success through coaching programs, workshops, staff training, executive coaching and keynote speaking.  Visit her website at www.optimaldevelopmentcoaching.com to sign up to receive helpful business development resources, including a free Business Plan Template. You can also connect with us at www.facebook.com/optimaldevelopmentcoaching.

Double Book Launch For Entrepreneurs

It’s a banner week when two of your go-to business resources launch their books within a few days of each other.  I’m so excited for these ladies and for you readers who can benefit from their expertise as well!  Both of these books are engaging, extremely helpful reads written for any entrepreneur.  Tea Silvestre (aka The Word Chef) wrote Attract and Feed a Hungry Crowd, a marketing book that doesn’t just give you the recipes but teaches you how to cook. Cheri Ruskus, business coach and founder of the Victory Circles, has published her inspirational guidebook for entrepreneurs, Victory One Moment at a Time.

Note:  These authors are two of my favorite people, both of them mentors, teachers and friends.  While the reviews below are accurate, I freely admit I am a little biased.

Tasty Tidbits from The Word Chef

I devoured Tea Silvestre’s new book, “Attract and Feed a Hungry Crowd: How Thinking Like a Chef Can Help You Build a Solid Business,” (available for Kindle and paperback) and savored all the tasty marketing tidbits she serves up in this satisfying read. Tea is a friend, mentor, teacher and constant source of inspiration and outstanding marketing resources, so I was not surprised that she delivered in her new book.

The Word Chef, Tea Silvestre, author of "Attract and Feed a Hungry Crowd."

Tea opens the book with a quote by Seth Godin: “The future belongs to chefs, not to cooks or bottle washers.” and you can see the influence, with clear, concise marketing advice founded in concepts like standing out from the crowd, differentiating yourself and building relationships (i.e., your tribe) . Cleverly framed in the cooking metaphor, Silvestre, also known as The Word Chef, is generous with tips and strategies for small business owners trying to stand out in a crowded marketplace. The icing on the cake is the sweet list of readings and resources at the end.

I highly recommend this book for entrepreneurs who need to work on their marketing and are trying to find and share the “secret sauce” that makes them and their product or service unique.  Do not miss the other delicacies at www.thewordchef.com.  You’ll come back for seconds.  Or thirds.

Business Moment by Moment

My last blog post was about Master Mind groups and the principles coined by Napoleon Hill nearly a century ago.  Cheri Ruskus’ new book, Victory One Moment at a Time, goes further in applying the Master Mind principles to business success and serves as a wonderful resource for entrepreneurs to tap into their passion and be fueled by inspiration. She gives the  Master Mind principles a modern refresh, applying them to the current challenges of entrepreneurship.

Cheri Ruskus, author of Victory One Moment at a Time.

Cheri describes each principle, then shares her Victory Letters, writings she’s been doing weekly for over 10 years. Cheri creates beautiful metaphors, relating concepts from life to business and back again. Thought provoking questions focus on the spirit, attitude and mindset that bring about success.  Eleven of the original Master Mind principles are included, like leadership, self-confidence, concentration and cooperation in building a business.

Cheri has worked long enough with entrepreneurs to know that one principle needed to be added:  that of Honoring Time.  As business owners, we know that time is money, and managing our time becomes a huge issue in managing our businesses.  She has great insights on this topic and more.

The book’s format, with a chapter for each principle, allows you to pick up the book and focus on the topic of greatest need or interest at this moment in time. Taking the time to master your business is essential, and this book can help you do just that.  You can learn more about the Victory Circles program and philosophy at www.victorycircles.com.

Happy reading!  And don’t forget to subscribe to the blog, as more on these books is forthcoming, including book giveaways for our readers.

 

Gloria M. Miele, Ph.D. is a Business Development and Leadership Coach and Victory Circles facilitator in Southern California.  She works with entrepreneurs and other business leaders to discover, develop and optimize their strengths to achieve greater business success. Visit her website at www.optimaldevelopmentcoaching.com to receive helpful business development resources, including a free Business Plan Template. You can also connect with her at www.facebook.com/optimaldevelopmentcoaching.

Two Heads (or 6 or 8) Are Better Than One for Your Business

You know that two heads are better than one, so imagine what it would be like if you had 6 or 8 other minds where you could draw wisdom, knowledge and experience.  I’m talking about the power that like-minded yet diverse people can have in helping you build your business.  As entrepreneurs, we can put our heads down and think we can do it all ourselves, sitting behind our desks and trying to work it out.  But the input of others can be so important to move ahead with an idea.

Napoleon Hill circa 1937

One way to get this input is through a Master Mind group.  It all started with Napoleon Hill in the early 20th century.  He was inspired by Andrew Carnegie, who built his successful steel business through strategic collaborations with others.  Hill’s books, Think and Grow Rich and The Law of Success outlined the mindset for being successful as well as the process of the Master Mind.  Hill interviewed the likes of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Charles Schwab and other business leaders of his day and found that they all had cooperative alliances with fellow business people (ok, they were all men at the time) that helped increase their energy, power and fortune.

Nearly 100 years later, the model stands the test of time.  Think of a Master Mind group as your personal board of directors – people with diverse backgrounds, strengths, and areas of expertise all focused on helping your business grow.

I became involved with Master Minding through Victory Circles, first as a participant, then a facilitator.  The program started as a stand-alone monthly group, based on Hill’s principles, such as self-confidence, leadership, concentration and establishing your definite chief aim.  We apply these to business development and provide accountability to each other with check ins and celebrations of our success.  

The program has now evolved into customized business development programs that incorporate business planning tools, templates, Master Mind groups and individual coaching to meet each entrepreneur’s needs.  Just last week, I held my first ever full day Quarterly Master Mind Intensive.  Part of the Victory Circles Acceleration Coaching program, the purpose of the intensive is to come up with an action plan for the different aspects of our businesses for the coming quarter.  People came in with questions and a lot of blank spots on the action calendars we provided ahead of time, but each of them left with a clear focus and concrete plans for marketing, sales, customer touch points, financial literacy and more for the next three months.  I was inspired by the quick cohesion of the group, the free sharing of information and resources, and how much we accomplished in a day.

If you’re thinking about joining or starting a Master Mind group, here are 6 things to consider:

  1. The Master Mind Principles.  Hill outlined 16 principles of success, some listed above.  Victory Circles focuses on 12 – 11 of Hill’s and one of our own: Honoring Time (so essential for entrepreneurs).  Decide if you want your Master Mind group to use them as a guide.
  2. Industry.   Some groups are industry-specific (e.g., realtors, coaches) and others intentionally comprised of diverse business owners.  Do you want greater focus on what you do or a more general approach that benefits from input of people outside your industry?
  3. Location.  Master Mind groups can take place in person or by phone.  In person groups are great for cohesion and that face to face contact, but many professionals are busy and prefer the benefits of phone, Skype, or a G+ hangout.
  4. Frequency.  I’ve always been involved in monthly Master Mind groups and now have started the quarterly group described above.  I’ve heard of people meeting weekly.  Perhaps a combination is best, and I’m experimenting with that now.
  5. Length. When my Master Mind group included lunch, we met for 2 hours.  The full-day Master Mind last week was incredibly powerful, and we ran for the full 6 hours!  If you’re meeting on a more regular basis, especially by phone, 60-90 minutes could be perfect. 
  6. How Many Heads??  We’ve had as many as 12 people in a Master Mind group and as few as 3, but I think 6-8 is perfect, allowing for individual sharing and a variety of perspectives to learn from.

Have you ever been in a Master Mind group?  What was your experience?  Please share your comments below.

Gloria M. Miele, Ph.D. is a Business Development and Leadership Coach and Victory Circles facilitator in Southern California.  She is passionate about helping others discover and develop their strengths to achieve greater business success. Visit her website at www.optimaldevelopmentcoaching.com to learn more about Master Mind groups and sign up to receive helpful business development resources, including a free Business Plan Template. You can also connect with us at www.facebook.com/optimaldevelopmentcoaching.

How Will You Get Traction in Your Business?

Last year, I came up with a little saying, “You’ve got to get traction to take action.”  It was catchy and pithy enough to become a bit of a mantra that helped me stay motivated and focused when I needed it.  In the meantime, we had been working on expanding and refining our Victory Circles programs.  As we started to discuss the roll-out of our 2012 programs, Cheri Ruskus, founder of the Victory Circles, came up with another membership level that’s focused on getting your business plan written.  Guess what she called it?  Traction!

Victory Circles is already an auto racing metaphor.  We wave the checkered flag for accomplishments and have an Acceleration coaching program.  Running a business is a race that you can win.

But that’s not all.  Traction is an acronym to highlight some of the important elements of business planning that our program offers.

So when you’re looking to get Traction in your business, keep these things in mind:

T – Time – You need to put aside the time to work on your business, including business planning.  We business owners have a lot on our plates, so it’s imperative that we schedule time, preferably on a weekly basis, to work on our businesses.

R – Recognize the important requirement to write the business plan yourself – the act of writing the plan can make the biggest difference.  Work on writing skills to communicate the mission and passion of your business.

A–     Alignment  – Make sure your plan is aligned with your goals, values, objectives and strengths.  You’ll be much more engaged in the process and more likely to stick with it.

C – Courage, hope and belief.  Mindset is a huge component of success.  Come to your plan with the courage to be self-employed, the optimism to embrace a positive vision of the future, and a belief that you can do it!

T – Three master mind principles are essential in your success.  1 – Definite Chief Aim – Know the purpose and mission of your business; – 2 – Accurate Thinking – Think things through in a systematic way, and take time out of your business to plan. 3-  Self-Confidence – You need to have the confidence to implement your plan.

 I – Intention, input and implementation.  Be clear on your intentions .  Make sure they are viable, quantifiable results you’re intent on achieving.  Get input from others – you can’t do it alone!  And figure out an implementation plan for how are you going to make it happen.

O – On track – This is where your plan will keep you.

N – Now is the time!  Stop waiting to get this done.  Start now.

Gloria M. Miele, Ph.D. is a Business Development and Leadership Coach and Victory Circles facilitator in Southern California.  She is passionate about helping others discover and develop their strengths to achieve greater business success.  Visit her website at www.optimaldevelopmentcoaching.com and sign up to receive a free Business Plan Template.

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