The majority of Americans feel unsatisfied at work, but you don’t have to. There is a certain thrill and satisfaction you get when achieving a goal. Sometimes, you work for months or years for one purpose — to buy a house, finish a project or write a book. All the while you have that one goal in mind as you get closer and closer to the finish line. However, if you enjoy and value the process of getting there, you’ll get there faster
Michael G. Pratt, PhD, a professor of management and organization at Boston College, told the old tale of three bricklayers at work. When asked what they’re doing, the first bricklayer responds, “I’m putting one brick on top of another.” The second replies, “I’m making six pence an hour.” And the third says, “I’m building a cathedral — a house of God.”
This is not a story about finding a meaning for your work — all the bricklayers have that — but taking pride in your work by building meaningful habits and staying engaged in your work.
A lot of articles tell leaders and managers what to do in order to increase their employee engagement, but the most productive employees are the ones who are self-motivated. After all, it doesn’t matter how many times my boss tells me how wonderful my work is, I have to come to the conclusion on my own. In this article, you’ll find some ways to stay engaged and satisfied at work.
Building a habit of working.
Working on your long-term goals is a good way to build meaningful habits and routines. Picking up a habit is not easy and takes work, but it’s long term effects are well known. Studies shows that it takes more than 40 days to build habits. When you’re working on a quarterly or a yearly goal, that is not such a long time.
One of the best habits you can have is reviewing your work weekly. In my recent book, “Step by Step Guide to OKRs” I talk about objectives and key results and the methodology for setting goals. One of the key aspects of that approach is updating your key results (tasks you need to get done) every week. To take it even further, take five minutes to see what you’ve accomplished every day. Make it into a habit, and enjoy daily fulfilment as this is what makes you love your work the most.
Take nothing for granted.
Even on the days your work seems to suck and everything is terrible, you can’t take your job for granted. Remember how many things have had to happen for the project, position or startup to exist in the first place. And you are the one who gets to work on that. This also brings up another important point: you are in your position because you are valuable enough to have it. There is a concept of taking ownership of one’s own work, which means standing up and saying “I’ll do that.” When you own your work, it can never own you.
Using your value for the better.
Most of the things that annoy us in our work are trivial mundane tasks that waste our time. The Pareto Principle states that we get 80 percent of our work done by doing 20 percent of the important tasks. To cut out the fake work, you need to decide each week what the most important tasks are for you. Ask yourself, which task moves me toward my long-term goal? You have to understand how the things you do align with your company’s goals.
Being able to do this throughout the work week is not only important for the production of your office. It’s vital for time management throughout the entire business. This is why sitting down at the beginning of the week and determining what has the greatest effect on your work is so essential.
Take a break.
If all else fails, take a break. Regular breaks at work are vital to stay satisfied and enjoy your work. As Buffer writes, “the human brain just wasn’t built for the extended focus we ask of it these days. Our brains are vigilant all the time because they evolved to detect tons of different changes to ensure our very survival. So focusing so hard on one thing for a long time isn’t something we’re ever going to be great at.” Our work culture demands us to work 80 hours a week, and this is not productive. Regular breaks make sure you don’t get bored and stay focused.
In the end, finding value on your journey toward your goals is all up to you. Arthur Brooks said, “There is no income level at which people are not desperate for meaning.” You get the meaning by searching for it, by looking for it and by creating it.
Originally posted on Entrepreneur.com by Alexander Maasik
Time catches up with us faster than we think. As an entrepreneur, too much opportunity is squandered while waiting for the metaphorical four-leaf clover of luck to appear. Meanwhile, your prospects dwindle on the vine as you ineffectively struggle to reach your goals by merely hoping for them.
In reality, if you want luck, you have to be in action. After all, how can luck find you if you’re not out there to be found? However, you don’t necessarily need to work harder to achieve success…just smarter. So, it’s time to work smarter and draw luck to yourself. Here’s how.
1. Do More
Inefficiency is the death of productivity and the attainment of that ever-elusive pot of gold. Don’t think you have enough time in the day to get more done? Think again!
Entrepreneurs often labor under the false mindset that they must toil from sunup to sundown, even if the tasks at hand don’t require that much time to complete. This approach is a recipe for burnout and self-inflicted busy work.
Don’t stretch your to-do list to fit the number of hours available. Instead of dragging out a project that could be accomplished in half the time, invest the extra time finding ways to better yourself and your business.
It’s not always easy to recognize one’s own tendency to waste time, so test it out by closely monitoring how long it takes you to cross off daily activities. Know thyself. And once you’ve recovered those precious hours, do more.
Sharpen your skillset by finding and attending networking events. Get out there and get after what you want. After all, there are many valuable reasons why millennials should network.
2. Work on Your Odds
You can’t please everyone.
We’ve all heard this in one form or another, but it’s much harder to live by than to understand intellectually. Believe me, rejection stings even more when you have to learn to embrace it. But it’s worth doing anyhow.
Chances are, the majority of people you encounter will not understand your vision. It won’t matter how unique or compelling it is. Despite this, it’s important to keep sight of the fact that there are those who will “get it,” and encounters with these supporters will outweigh any naysayers.
Don’t let fear of rejection prevent you from seeking out support from others. Use rejection as a source of strength. In fact, let it drive you to put yourself out there even more, increasing your odds of a “yes” to collaboration or funding.
Remember this: If you don’t roll the dice, the probability of a partnership is nil.
3. Give More
In business, we like to imagine ourselves to be lone wolves out in the wilderness, fighting to survive amidst treachery and cut-throat circumstances. The life of an entrepreneur can be extremely stressful, and it’s easy to become self-centered in the face of overwhelming pressure.
But this is a negative way to look at the world, and whether or not you believe in karma, most people agree that positivity can create unprecedented returns.
Let’s dispel the illusion that you can only get ahead by leaving others behind. Stay focused on your goals, but remind yourself that your positivity contributes to an environment that will one day reciprocate it. Go out of your way to be compassionate toward fellow entrepreneurs and colleagues.
On top of that, be mindful that stress can be a detriment to your work life and damage your health. In giving back selflessly, you may find that your stress decreases and new opportunities crop up unexpectedly.
Luck is a finicky achievement at its best and a dangerous delusion at its worst. Somewhere in between, though, is the happy coincidence of hard work, good people, and being in the right place at the right time.
Originally posted by Susie Plascencia on theunicornintheroom.com
No matter what profession you’re in, networking is the fuel that accelerates success. Not only is it useful for learning directly from individuals you meet, but the benefits of association and growing your own authority are just as powerful.
For some of us, the word networking can leave a bad taste in our mouths. Many of us aren’t sure where to start, what to say when we connect with someone or how to maintain that relationship. Although I truly believe there’s an art and science to networking and building authentic relationships, I’m going to distill what I’ve learned over the past few years. So, here is my no-BS guide to networking.
Stage 1: Mindset
Before you think about networking, remove the word “working” from your system. We hear people talking about putting on their “networking game,” and I can’t help but wonder how many showers they’ll need to take afterward to rid themselves of the in authenticity. It’s likely that the people you’re trying to reach get approached by dozens, if not hundreds, of people just like you; and it’s not difficult for them to weed out the people who are “putting on a face.”
The best networking comes from genuine relationships, not a business card exchange. No matter whom you’re trying to build a relationship with, treating that person as a friend rather than a business contact will take you much further with the relationship. So, think about how you would approach a potential friend. Find something you have in common with, keep it light, make jokes, and above all, show that you care.
Stage 2: The destination
Doing something for the sake of doing it is rarely a good idea, nor is it a good use of your time. It’s the old analogy of having a fully gassed car without a final destination to head toward.
As many of you may already know, I’m a big believer in goal setting and focusing on pouring energy into accomplishing the stated goal. What is your dream job? How do you envision your future? What do you need to be doing to be the most fulfilled, happy and driven version of you? Write down what your goal is for five years from now. Then write down what goal you need to hit one year from now in order to get you closer to your five-year goal. Finally, write down what goal you need to hit 90 days from now in order to get you closer to your one-year goal.
For example: Let’s say your goal is to make $1 million in five years. You would need a vehicle, whether that is your own business, investments or something financially viable to get you to your destination. In this case, your goal one year from now might be to have your business launched and to hit $5,000 per month in sales.
So, what would you need to do in the next 90 days in order to hit $5,000 per month in your new business, one year from now? It might be finding the right partner with a complementary skill sets, or acquiring your first paying customer in the next 90 days.
5-year goal: Make $1 million
1-year goal: Hit $5,000/month ($60,000 per year) in sales with new business
90-day goal: Get your first paying customer
Now, it’s time to write down your goals. Yes, physically write them!
Stage 3: The map
Now that you have your final destination for five years from now, including focused, short-term goals to get you there, design your map. Keith Ferrazzi has a powerful strategy called the Networking Action Plan (NAP), which he explains in Never Eat Alone, to connect your networking strategy with your goals.
Step 1 is to write down your goals and final destination (which you completed in Stage 2). Step 2 is to look at the three goals you have written down. Then, next to each of your goals, write down three people who will either kickstart or accelerate your goal. These could be people you are already connected with, who are second-degree connections from you, or people you have no connections to.
Examples of who your top 3 could be include mentors or advisors, clients who will advocate for you, investors who believe in your vision, team members who may be co-founders or key hires, a boss or manager who could propel you to a raise or strategic position within your organization or superconnectors that will connect you with any of the above, to build your network.
If you’re looking to start a company, the three people could be a potential partner, an investor and a potential client. For a best-selling book, the three could be your agent, promotional partners or editor.
It’s important to invest some time doing thorough research to be confident that the three people are essential in helping you accomplish your goals faster.
Stage 4: Building a human connection
Hw do you foster a real connection when you speak with someone — whether it’s on Skype or on the phone or in-person? Personally, I think it boils down to these factors:
- Ask insightful questions (to get the other person thinking). You can know a lot about a person by the quality of the questions he or she asks. Tony Robbins often shares that the quality of your questions correlates to the quality of your life.
- Ask better questions, receive better answers. Peter Thiel challenges us to ask ourselves: “How do we accomplish our 10-year goals in six months?” By asking better questions when you’re speaking with someone, you not only put yourself in a category of someone that thinks differently, but you force the other person to think in a new way that helps him or her grow.
- Pay attention (as if your life depended on it). This may come naturally for some people, or be extremely difficult for others. In our smartphone era, paying attention is a demanded “skill” many of us lack. How many times have you spoken with someone who is constantly fidgeting, looking around or interrupting your every sentence? By simplying maintaining eye contact, listening attentively and responding with relevant questions, you’re separating yourself from the rest of the pack and are well on your way to fostering a genuine relationship.
Listen. Ask good questions. Repeat.
Stage 5: Superconnecting
The fastest way to grow your own network is to introduce two people who can benefit from each another. As simple as this strategy sounds, it’s one you hardly see most people do. When’s the last time someone deliberately went out of his or her way to introduce you to someone after listening to your struggles? If you’re the rare breed that has experienced this, you’ve met a superconnector.
With over three billion people online today, it’s increasingly difficult to separate the fog from the light, and the role of superconnectors will become increasingly important to make that distinction. Here are few of the most powerful ways to become a superconnector yourself.
- Don’t keep score. This is by far the key difference between superconnectors and everyone else. Superconnectors have an abundance mentality, and they’re always willing to give, connect and share.
- Make friends, not “contacts.” In other words, value quality over quantity. Put away your business cards, and form genuine friendships with people you meet. I force myself to never talk about business in the first encounter with someone, unless I have to. It’s 10 times more valuable to develop connections with five quality people at an event than 50 “contacts” whose names you won’t remember.
- Connect other superconnectors. Do you know two connectors who could benefit from meeting? Have they already met? Introducing two superconnectors will be the easiest connection you make because: They are naturally friendly and most likely will have friends in common. And you’ll not only help others further their goals, but will come to mind for them, for future potential connections that will benefit you.
- Interview people. This may be one of the fastest ways to grow your network, if done strategically. You could do this in the context of a research paper, book or, my personal favorite, a podcast. I’ve been fortunate enough to connect with the likes of Eric Ries, Adam Braun, Jason Fried, Gary Vaynerchuk and others who would have been difficult to connect with had I not started #SKIM Live.
- Follow-up. This is the missing step we all forget to do. But following up to see how the introduction went, or randomly following up a few months later with no agenda will not only help you maintain your connections, but foster the relationship to a different level. In a world of take take take, being able to show that you care about someone as a friend will put you in a whole different category with any of your connections.
Can you think of someone you need to follow up with right now?
Originally posted on Entrepreneur
Networking goes hand in hand with running a successful business.
But many of us dread walking into a room and introducing ourselves to a bunch of strangers.
I’ve been asked to share my best networking tips at a meeting today of the National Association of Women Business Owners in Philadelphia. Here are the most valuable tips I’ve come across – and put to work myself – over the years:
1. Resist the urge to arrive late. It’s almost counter-intuitive, but showing up early at a networking event is a much better strategy than getting there on the later side. As a first attendee, you’ll notice that it’s calmer and quieter – and people won’t have settled into groups yet. It’s easier to find other people who don’t have conversation partners yet.
2. Ask easy questions. Don’t wait around the edges of the room, waiting for someone to approach you. To get the conversation started, simply walk up to a person or a group, and say, “May I join you” or “What brings you to this event?” Don’t forget to listen intently to their replies. If you’re not a natural extrovert, you’re probably a very good listener – and listening can be an excellent way to get to know a person.
3. Ditch the sales pitch. Remember, networking is all about relationship building. Keep your exchange fun, light and informal – you don’t need to do the hard sell within minutes of meeting a person. The idea is to get the conversation started. People are more apt to do business with – or partner with – people whose company they enjoy.
If a potential customer does ask you about your product or service, be ready with an easy description of your company. Before the event, create a mental list of recent accomplishments, such as a new client you’ve landed or project you’ve completed. That way, you can easily pull an item off that list and into the conversation.
4. Share your passion. Win people over with your enthusiasm for your product or service. Leave a lasting impression by telling a story about why you were inspired to create your company. Talking about what you enjoy is often contagious, too. When you get other people to share their passion, it creates a memorable two-way conversation.
5. Smile. It’s a simple – but often overlooked – rule of engagement. By smiling, you’ll put your nervous self at ease, and you’ll also come across as warm and inviting to others. Remember to smile before you enter the room, or before you start your next conversation. And if you’re really dreading the event? Check the negative attitude at the door.
6. Don’t hijack the conversation. Some people who dislike networking may overcompensate by commandeering the discussion. Don’t forget: The most successful networkers (think of those you’ve met) are good at making other people feel special. Look people in the eye, repeat their name, listen to what they have to say, and suggest topics that are easy to discuss. Be a conversationalist, not a talker.
7. Remember to follow up. It’s often said that networking is where the conversation begins, not ends. If you’ve had a great exchange, ask your conversation partner the best way to stay in touch. Some people like email or phone; others prefer social networks like LinkedIn. Get in touch within 48 hours of the event to show you’re interested and available, and reference something you discussed, so your contact remembers you.
Originally posted by Colleen Debaise on Entrepreneur
Summer vacation is in full swing, but for a lot of students, that means four months of under-employment or sometimes even unemployment. It seems funny to think that so many students expect to graduate and land their dream job, and yet in the summers preceding it they toil away at minimum wage jobs and illegal internships.
If you’re unhappy with your current summer job, check out these five summer start-ups that you can create by yourself, with minimal time or money invested. Starting a business is a great way to get hands-on experience, make some cash and build up your resume. Future employers and grad school admissions committees are sure to be impressed by your hustle and problem-solving skills.
1. Resell video games.
PCs might be dominating the gaming scene, but console games still pack a punch for the casual gamer. There’s currently a strong secret market for old system games on college campuses across North America. Students are always looking for ways to take a break from school and are more than willing to dish out a few bucks for nostalgic games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
In order to be successful, you’ll need to know your customer and which channels are best for reaching them. You can start your inventory by buying old games from friends, classifieds sites, flea markets and marketplaces like eBay and Amazon. The more passionate you are about gaming, the better you’ll be at spotting potential deals and cashing in on rare collectibles. You can promote your new business for free on social media or by putting up posters around your school. You can even sell through Facebook. Once you’ve earned a bit of money, you can reinvest profits in bulk orders of high-margin video game accessories from sites like Alibaba.
2. Design and sell custom T-shirts.
If you’ve never run a business before, selling T-shirts is a great place to start. They’re relatively easy to create and sell, even with no technical or design knowledge. Plus, everyone wears tees, so there’s a huge potential market.
It’s important to remember that your customers are buying a graphic tee because they want to make a statement or support an ideology. Hop on social media and find the memes with the most shares. Once you’ve picked a niche for yourself, it’s time to get deeply engrossed in a subculture that you find interesting, or that’s popular on your campus. You can even check out Google Trends to see what’s buzzworthy and will resonate best with a wider audience.
GoSpaces.com is the perfect platform for launching a t-shirt business. It lets anyone launch an online store for free, and has tons of useful tools like a Refund Policy generator. You can even combine GoSpaces with a print on demand service like Printful so that you never have to worry about keeping inventory in your apartment or dorm room.
3. Build a following on Etsy.
Are you crafty and creative? Do you spend your free time editing photos for Instagram, or painting custom mugs for your friends? Make your art work for you by setting up a profile on a creative platform like Etsy.
One particularly high margin option is selling prints or photographs. They’re cheap to produce and to ship, so you can potentially start making money very quickly if you have a strong portfolio of work. Jewelry, clothing and crafts are also popular, but just be sure to calculate shipping and exchange rates before setting your prices.
Etsy is a community-driven platform, so in order to be successful it’s ideal to connect with other vendors and to join the forums. There are also Etsy-specific groups you can join online to help you navigate your journey as a first time seller. Once you’ve developed a solid following, you may want to graduate to a site of your own instead of renting space from Etsy. Look into setting up your own online store through a platform like Shopify which will allow you to be more in control of your brand and overall business.
4. Write an ebook.
Are you an English lit or creative writing major? Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing is a fantastic outlet for aspiring writers and those hoping to establish themselves before college ends. Typically the price of an ebook is low, but the potential exposure is massive. Some writers have even secured deals from well-known publishing houses after publishing their material online.
This business idea isn’t an easy one, but if you’re passionate about writing, it could be the right direction for you. You’ll need to draft, redraft, edit and submit your book to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. Promote your work on Facebook and Twitter, and consider becoming a part of the Wattpad community of writers. Think about what material you’ve already written that you could leverage. Perhaps you can transform a past school project on the history of rock and roll or pre-natal nutrition into a best selling ebook.
5. Start a student-friendly cleaning service.
Let’s face it — most college apartments and houses aren’t as clean as they should be. Everyone wants to live in a pristine home, but it’s hard to make that a reality when you’re sharing a space with multiple roommates and juggling a bunch of conflicting responsibilities.
It’s surprisingly easy to start your own campus cleaning company. Just create a quick landing page to advertise your services and start posting the link across Facebook groups, forums and campus bulletin boards. If you offer a few free or discounted cleans in exchange for reviews, you’ll quickly be able to kickstart your new business. You could even start with dorm rooms — you won’t make a ton of money, but they’re relatively quick and easy to clean.
Entrepreneurship isn’t a nine to five job, so all of these ideas will take more time and emotional investment than your average summer gig. That said, they’re potential paths to self sufficiency that are sure to be paved with fantastic learning opportunities — and it will look better on a resume than serving or bartending. Plus, students are in a prime position to be taking risks and testing their entrepreneurial ideas. After all, if your business idea doesn’t work out, you’ll be heading back to the books in September.
Originally posted by Lindsay Craig on Entrepreneur
Before I started Vanderbloemen Search Group , I was a pastor for many years. And during that time, I had the immense honor and weighty responsibility of officiating several funerals for people who served in our armed forces.
If you’ve ever been to a veteran’s funeral, you’ve probably seen the casket draped in the United States Flag. I remember presiding over both of my grandfathers’ funerals and watching the servicemen painstakingly remove, fold, and present the flags to my grandmothers during the services.
I used to wonder, “Why do we keep the flag? Why not let the fallen soldier take it with him to his grave?” Through the ages, people have sent mementos to accompany the departed. Whether it was enormous treasures for Pharaohs in Egypt, horses buried with departed generals, or even a stuffed animal with a deceased child, we have a long history of burying belongings with the dead. So why not the flag with the fallen soldier?
Then, a few years ago, a friend of mine explained it to me.
This is a significant lesson to keep in mind as we remember our fallen heroes this weekend. We recall their falling with grief, we honor their sacrifice with gratitude, and we celebrate the fact that, because of them, our flag still flies. And because of that, we walk on with hope and courage.
Entrepreneurs, can you see the parallels to the hope needed as you lead your business? For me, I feel called to stay in close touch with the cause behind my business. Without the cause, my spirit might falter every time we run into a challenge or experience a failure. And if I’m not running fast after our cause, how can I expect my team to run fast after it as well? Will you hold fast to the cause for which you are providing a solution or will you falter as problems arise?
The soldier may have fallen, but the flag still flies. We may suffer failures from new ideas, bad hires, or leadership mistakes. We may face setbacks from growing pains, economic frustrations, and difficult clients. But the flag of our mission, our “why” behind all we do, still flies.
When I focus on our larger cause, I’m reminded that those failures are only temporary setbacks, not the death of the cause. When I focus on our cause, I see a new problem as an opportunity to solve a new challenge for our clients. And likewise, when it’s the end of my time at my company and I pass the baton on to the next leader, the flag of the mission will still fly.
Our fallen soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice, and I’m not minimizing that. Nor do I want to over-dramatize our business lives. But today can serve as a timely reminder for entrepreneurs to ask themselves, “Does my business have a cause that can outlast major setbacks and outlast me?” If not, spend time reflecting on the reason you started your business and the cause that fueled your passion to start it.
Take time today to remember the fallen heroes of our armed forces. Thank God for those who have laid down their life to preserve our national freedom. And let that theme guide you to reflect on how you can focus your business around a cause more permanent than ever. It may make the difference between surviving your next bump in the road or not.
Originally posted on Forbes by William Vanderbloemen