The Myth of the Comfort Zone

I have heard it said many ways, that you cannot grow unless you leave your Comfort Zone. I call BS once and for all. I know for a fact you can grow and develop while staying quite snug and safe in your Comfort Zone. I think it can be damaging to some people to be forced out of their comfort zone for the sake of growth and short-sighted to believe those who stay in their comfort zone can’t grow. So let’s explore this a little deeper.The Myth of the _Comfort Zone_

What is a “Comfort Zone”?

It’s a place, situation or state of being where you feel safe, at ease and not stressed. This is typified by the image of sitting at home, in your favorite chair snuggled in a warm soft blanket. Everyone is different and people can feel safe in many types of situations. Some love to be surrounded by people, others prefer to be alone. It really depends on your own life experiences as to where you feel the safest. In the business world the comfort zone generally is described as the work and tasks you feel most comfortable with and you have the most skill at. Whenever you are at ease while working is your comfort zone.

So why does everyone say no growth occurs inside your comfort zone?

Doing new things can be scary and usually it is a learning experience. When we are in the comfort zone we are rarely trying new things and therefore it is assumed we aren’t learning. The thinking goes that change and growth must accompany risk and risk is being outside our comfort zone.

It’s a Myth!

I say it’s a myth, that we can grow inside our comfort zone. Are you comfortable reading? Reading creates growth and even reading new things is rarely outside our comfort zone. If we are going to try new things, read about them first, that reduces the stress and anxiety new things can cause. If it’s still scary, read more. Keep exploring the subject until you are an expert before you even try it for the first time. You have permission to be comfortable trying new things. This may not work for everything but it can work for most of the things we do in the business world. It’s slower, maybe even less efficient but it keeps us in our comfort zone as we explore new things. We can also make changes incrementally, changes so small that they don’t cause us stress. If we keep making those changes we will eventually get to where we want to be. Manufacturers use this all the time. They can’t afford a big change so they make hundreds of small changes over time until the same result is achieved.

Why is growth within our comfort zone important?

For some of us, running around outside our comfort zone is fine. We exist on the edge and love taking chances. Others hate going outside the comfort zone and just the thought of it paralyzes them. So that’s the main reason. Small changes within the comfort zone are better than no changes because of fear. Even those who love being outside the comfort zone need a break but they refuse to quit improving. Growing inside the comfort zone is a great option for them as well. Moving forward and giving yourself a break at the same time.

So there you have it. Don’t let the myth of the comfort zone hold you back. Grow, change and improve inside or outside your comfort zone, what ever way suits you best.

DS Boot Camp: The Set Up

Once you have decided on what Direct Sales (DS) business you want to be a part of you need to set up your business structure. I always tell people new to the DS world to make sure they run their business like a business or they are just having an expensive party. Here are the steps I recommend to get your business off the ground.

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Popularity vs Influence

pop·u·lar·i·ty ˌpäpyəˈlerədē noun
1. the state or condition of being liked, admired, or supported by many people.
in·flu·ence ˈinflo͝oəns/ noun
1. the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.
What is the real difference and does it matter? If you are popular aren’t you already influential? Not always. The same holds true with the reverse, you could be influential without being popular. It boils down to changing people’s lives. Do you have the ability to affect real change? If so then you are influential. The tough part is that popularity is easy to gauge, likes, retweets, shares, conversations, but influence is hard to see. My best advice is to have something important to say and say it loud. Don’t back down from your position if it is the right one. You may be surprised who you influence and why.
Influence is NOT Popularity! – Brian Solis

The Power of the Personal Touch

EnvelopesWhen was the last time you received a personal thank you from a purchase? My guess is that it has been a while. Handwritten notes are rare and a way for you to stand out from the competition. I see people saying that personal notes are “All the rage” but I still haven’t ever gotten one and neither has anyone I asked. There are companies out there that do it with great success but they are few and far between, so here is a way for a small business to really stand out without a lot of expense. Here are some tips to make your thank you note campaign stand out.

  • Really make it personal – Address it to the purchaser “Dear Steve”. and include details so the customer knows it isn’t just a form letter. “Thank you for buying the blue hat, it is my favorite color and was fun to make for you.” These little touches tell the customer you really do appreciate your business and aren’t just sending formulaic thank you cards to everyone.
  • Leave out the business card – Or at least carefully consider it. This tip goes against instinct and against my feelings that everyone should have my card.  If you include your card it diminished the note. It goes from a genuine thank you to a branding effort. Of course you make sure they can get back in touch with you, address embossed on the card or written on the back, but there is no need for branding efforts here. The thank you is the point.
  • Make it a surprise – The first purchase a customer makes should have a thank you card in it, after that, make it random. If they expect a card each time it is no longer special. This keeps the card as something they hope to get, but don’t expect. It also reduces the burden of how many cards to send. If you are set on sending a note with each purchase make sure to look at the next tip.
  • Don’t make it a chore – If you have to write too many cards, this is a good thing and a bad thing. Don’t let it burn you out of become a dread, it will be reflected in the writing. If you just have too many cards to write consider hiring someone to help with it or outsourcing the process (yup there are services for everything). Don’t let this powerful tool bog you down.

Use these tips to stand out from the crowd. Almost no one does personal notes, so it is an easy win and a powerful tool for creating customer loyalty. Feel free to send me questions or comments below.

Build Your Leadership Library

Eager KoalaTo be seen as a leader you should build your leadership library. No one is ever going to see your leadership library (unless they see it one book at a time as you read), but having one and using it will build your reputation as a leader. Leadership is a skill to be honed and perfected and one of the ways to do that is books. You should be reading the books of leaders who inspire you. Of course, don’t JUST read, write the thoughts you have about the book out and use them. If you only read and don’t implement what you have learned, why waste your time reading? You should have a leadership notebook that contains these thoughts and action plans. Review it regularly (I recommend first thing every morning). Over time these action plans will become action habits and it will be noticed. So remember, always have something you are reading about leadership. Here is a short list of my favorite books on the subject.

Your Leadership Story by Tim Tobin

All Star Sales Teams by Dan Kleinman

Managing Change by Harvard Business Press

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Getting to Yes by Fisher and Ury

Leaders: Strategies for Taking Charge by Bennis and Nanus

Leadership by James Burns

On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis

New Patterns in Management by Rensis Likert
-My list goes on…..what are your favorite leadership books?

 

 

Increasing your Twitter Traffic with a Pic.

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You have probably heard you should use an appropriate picture when possible but do you know why? Research has shown that pictures are vital to a brand and to increase engagement. Since Zabisco has found that 40% of people respond better to visuals than to text we should consider including both in our attempts to reach our audience.

Jeff Bullas discovered research that indicated an article with images has views that are increased 94% relevant to those without. A relevant picture can have huge impacts on the number of readers engaging the content you worked hard to provide.

Furthermore, Lifelearn discovered that without a picture, after three days people only remember content 10% of the time but remember it 65% of the time when it was coupled with a picture. Since top of mind recall is what every business is striving for it makes sense to increase the recall rate of your content with such an easy thing.

It’s clear that we need visuals to get more engagement and recall. Use relevant pictures to help get your point across and engage your audience. So get tweeting, and don’t forget to smile!

 

Image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Linkedin Best Practices.

Here are some of the things I have found to make your Linkedin experience shine. Keep these in mind as you do business on the Linkedin platform.

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  1. Complete your profile

Personally, I would hope this goes without saying, but fill out your profile as completely as possible. There should be very few things on your profile that are blank. It’s not always possible to fill everything out, but you should make the effort.

  1. Add an updated profile picture

Profiles without pictures seem sketchy. Even when it’s someone I know I am very cautious about connecting if there is no picture. Also, make sure your picture is up to date or within a few years. It is unsettling and unprofessional to have pictures on Linkedin that don’t look like you.

  1. Network. Network.

This is the key to making Linkedin work for you. There are two strategies here. Connect with everyone or connect with only the people you actually know. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

  1. Personalize connection requests.

Don’t send the standard Linkedin connection request. Personalize the request to the person you are sending it to. It is more professional and it shows you care about connecting professionally with that person.

  1. Grab your name Courtesy: Ken Krogue, Forbes Writer.

Did you know you can get your own name as your linked in profile instead of the alphabet soup you were randomly assigned? This makes it look more professional on your emails and resumes. It also makes your Linkedin page easier to remember. Go to the profile edit page and an edit button is available at the end of your Linkedin URL.

  1. Never SPAM!

Another no brainer. It is possible to spam and get one or two leads, but at the cost of potential relationships. No one likes being spammed. Just don’t do it.

  1. Edit or Remove Endorsements.

Your endorsement section is out there for everyone to see. Sometimes we are endorsed in ways we don’t want. Sometimes we are endorsed and it looks biased. You can remove endorsements on your profile edit page. Trim up your endorsement to keep your best foot forward.

  1. Freely give and receive recommendations.

Someone asks for a recommendation, give it. Don’t have a recommendation, ask. This is a way to let others know what to expect from you. People like a second opinion.

  1. Join industry and local LinkedIn Groups.

Groups are a great way to learn information about subjects that interest you professionally. Many industry leaders post in these professional groups. If you have some insight, post it. It gets your voice out there and could lead to some great connections.

  1. Vet a group before you join.

Groups are great in general, but some are just ads in disguise. Pay attention to who the members are and what topics they are discussing.

  1. Use 3×3 analysis when connecting with people.  Courtesy: Steve Richard of Vorsight

Meeting someone you can find on Linkedin? Spend 3 minutes and learn 3 things about them you can use as talking points. It shows professionalism and attention to detail. People like talking about themselves so it helps you build rapport quickly.

  1. Use InMail strategically.

Don’t use Inmail like your regular email. A good practice is to only use it for business that is being facilitated on Linkedin. An example would be asking for an introduction to another Linkedin connection. Use your email for normal correspondence and Inmail for Linked in business.

  1. Use Follow effectively.

Follow industry leaders. Follow businesses that interest you within your industry or related industries. This will get your profile more exposure and you can meet interesting people in your field.

  1. Use “Tags” to categorize your connections.

This is especially useful when you have a lot of connections. You can keep track of where you met each person and how you know them.

  1. Ask for referrals through LinkedIn.

Looking for a new job? Looking to connect to a company? Find out who you know and ask for a referral. Make sure you follow good business etiquette so Linkedin remains a great place to get your referrals.

  1. Browse LinkedIn privately.

If you are looking at a lot of peoples profiles and businesses, browse privately. This way you don’t seem like a stalker. It is the polite thing to do.

  1. Add media.

Put up your blog posts. Link articles. Post videos. In general, get yourself on the Linkedin feed. This can create top of mind exposure and help with your other Linkedin business.

Image courtesy of jscreationzs/FreeDigitalPhotos.net