Starting my own business has been one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. But it is so stimulating, fast-paced, and exhausting that it’s easy to neglect taking the time to pull up and reflect on what I’m learning.
Of course, on a more tactical level, my team and I are constantly discussing what we are learning and making a thousand tiny adjustments and decisions as a result. But it’s these larger insights from what was the hardest working year of my life, 2017, and a pretty intense start to 2018 so far, that I think are most valuable when looking in.
Between the media and millennials, being an entrepreneur has never looked more glamourous. In many ways compared to the confines of corporate, government, or non-profit work, charting one’s own destiny can seem incredibly enticing and liberating. However, the part that seldom is talked about outside of entrepreneurial and startup circles is just how brutal the lessons of this path can be.
Starting things is sexy. We’re easily enticed by new products, new companies, new markets, new hires, new facilities, and new initiatives. Finishing, on the other hand, isn’t nearly as alluring, but it is much more satisfying.
Over the past few years, I’ve let overwhelm get the best of me from time to time. But through these experiences, I’ve also learned how to get effectively navigate past this vortex of misery. Here’s how I do it.
When creating solutions to a problem, avoid the temptation to dive right into the answers that excite you. Instead, objectively and clinically examine what the value of solving the problem is in the first place.
People often confuse professionalism with being stiff, aloof, or perfect. When in actuality, being a professional is about doing quality work, treating people with respect, holding strong values, and portraying competence and confidence. We’ve all met people who are "pros.” Yet, throughout my career I’ve seen far too many people try to position themselves as “professional” by projecting an unrelatable, cold persona in an effort to be taken seriously.
The start of a new year is a perfect time to assess your life, personally and professionally. Yet few of us give planning our year ahead the focus it deserves. I’ve structured a simple, yet powerful process that I have personally used for years, which enables you to complete your prior year, leaving space for a truly new year. Utilizing this process will move you from resolutions to results in Your New Year.
Back in February 2014, I was leaving a client meeting in the West Village on a snowy morning. I thought to myself “snow days are actually awesome days to get in touch with people.” Then I pulled out my iPhone and recorded a brief 15-second video to share this tip and shared it on Instagram and Facebook. BAM - this was the beginning of Make It Happen Monday (#MIHM).
For context, I was in the process of working with a video production studio on a video project and they had told me I could best prepare by simply practicing being on camera as much as possible. Additionally, a friend of mine in social media marketing also had advised that the best way I could build an audience (including gaining their trust) was to be highly consistent with my posting - e.g. sharing something on the same day of the week, EVERY week.
There is a lot we can learn from our phones and how we manage their power. Consider that:
- Sometimes the phone just shuts down even when it says it has a little bit of power still left; a moment of horror we can all relate to
- If the phone is completely drained it won’t turn back on right away when you plug it in to charge it; almost punishing us for letting it get so diminished
- How we use our phones (number of apps open, volume of cellular data usage, screen brightness, amount of video watched) impacts how quickly the battery is depleted; overtaxing or abusing it drains it faster
- There are things you can do to make your battery last longer; conservation is possible and makes a difference
Needing Inspiration: A Fool’s Errand
I can’t tell you how often I hear from clients and friends “I just need to get inspired” followed by “to (insert: something you need to do but don’t want to do).” Everyone seems to think that if they just found inspiration they would get done what needs to get done. But if you are like me, will you ever really be “inspired” to do bookkeeping, clean out my fridge, delete files from your hard drive, or do anything else so tedious? The reality is I’ll likely never be inspired to do these things, but they still need to get done. So searching for inspiration is a fools errand.