Monday, April 23, 2012

When reality intrudes on a superhuman schedule

I don't know about you, but I'm superhuman. I've always had a knack for getting more done in 24 hours than expected, which made real estate a slam-dunk kind of career.

Give me two hours in my office and I have a whole day's worth of work done. Four interrupted hours and I might as well go on vacation! I jest, but only a little. Time management has always been my strong suit.

I start the day out with a strong cup of coffee and a legal pad divided down the middle. On the left hand side of the paper I break my day into 30-minute chunks of time, from wake-up to bedtime. Since I never get to leave work "at the office," it only seems natural to include any awake hours as potential working hours.

On the right hand side of the paper I write down everything that needs to be done, categorized into: household chores, errands, buyers, sellers, new business, baby stuff. I schedule in a few "unknown" appointments, for lost documents and clients that can't find the title company. By the time I have finished my coffee I feel like I have a nice tight grip on the day.

What could go wrong? Let me count the ways.

The first thing that happened wasn't a "went wrong" at all. My daughter is the love of my life. Now, her little sister is on the way. Together, a toddler and "Unborna," as we have so lovingly named her, now demand my undivided attention -- pretty much from sun-up to sun-down. Thank goodness we have a dog who can take over as No. 1 playmate from time to time.

One is hungry, the other needs a nap. One wants to read a book, the other just wants to do somersaults and kick me. One wants this, the other wants that! Thus, my schedule received a few red lines through the left-hand column.

Hearing of my agenda dilemma, my brother (who is currently studying for his MBA) signed me up for a great program: offers lessons on how to do just about anything you have ever dreamed of doing on the computer: software programs, business classes, Web design and social media. Along with the subscription, my brother wrote me a charming little note that included the phrases: "shifting priorities," "had great potential," and "dreams differed." Seriously, boys are so obtuse sometimes.

Anyway, I'd love to take on the challenge of the Facebook seminar (3 hours and 45 minutes) but I just can't find the time. Because, along with my real estate career, I'm really trying to have some hobbies!

I took a look at the other day and felt inspired. I ordered a pattern for a stuffed felt horse and determined to create toys for my children instead of buying into the big machine. Sure, I realize sewing is off the table, but I can't imagine making a horse out of felt and yarn could be that hard.

So, fast forward to Easter Eve. I've put First-Born to bed and I've completed the list of must-see homes for next week's tour. With four hours until midnight I can still make a felt horse and listen to the Facebook seminar at the same time! I tune into with renewed energy.

By 10 p.m. my fingertips are red and swollen. By 10:30 p.m. my eyes are glazing over, but I will not give up. My Facebook page is going to rock! At 11 p.m. I have sewn the entire underbelly of my stuffed horse together, but I stop midstitch with an odd feeling in my stomach.

That's when it hits. A very malicious 24-hour flu bug takes me down hard. By 4 a.m., I'm in the hospital wondering what happened.

Have I finally reached that age? Where time really does matter? Where 24 hours snap by in an instant and you have a deep sense of gratitude because you found matching socks and clean underwear? I guess I have. Because a hospital can really put things in perspective. Yep, they strip you down, hook you up to IVs and blood-pressure tourniquets, and deprive you of your schedule. Not so superhuman after all.

All that to say: You can work your list, but don't let your list work you. At some point, God looks down at your little scribbled mess of a calendar and laughs. Then He sends you to the hospital to think about stuff for awhile. Smart guy.

by Alisha Alway Braatz Inman News Apr 23, 2012

When reality intrudes on a superhuman schedule

Friday, April 6, 2012

Economic opportunity for women: Where to be female | The Economist

MARKING International Women's Day on March 8th, the Economist Intelligence Unit, The Economist's sister company, has published its second Women's Economic Opportunity Index, assessing the environment for female employees and entrepreneurs across 128 countries. Nearly half the world’s women of working-age are not currently active in the formal labour market. As governments seek to revive ailing economies, welcoming these 1.5 billion women into formal employment will become ever more important. The EIU’s index brings together 29 indicators measuring access to finance, education and training, legal and social status, and the general business environment. The chart below shows how a selection of countries have scored this year and where conditions have improved or declined.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Being an entrepreneur is a lot like the ABCs

I was recently asked by master marketer Jay Abraham to be on his radio program, "The Ultimate Entrepreneur," along with several others, including Stephen Covey and Mark Cuban. In that company, I knew I had my work cut out for me!

Let's start with the basics. What better way than to create the ABCs of entrepreneurship? Over the past few years I have developed my version of the ABCs of selling, leadership, negotiating, networking and team-building, which are among my most requested columns.

A is for ability. Entrepreneurs excel at identifying problems and solving them fast. They anticipate obstacles and opportunities.

B is for business plan. A successful entrepreneur must make one before doing anything else.

C is for cash, because all entrepreneurs need money. Use it wisely, even when you are rolling in it.

D is for delegate. You know what you do well and what you do poorly. Decide what to outsource and delegate these tasks to others.

E is for ethics. If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don't have integrity, nothing else matters. Always act like your mother is watching.

F is for failure. Few entrepreneurs make it the first time they try. If you can survive it to fight again, you haven't failed.

G is for giving, because givers are the biggest gainers. If you truly believe in what you are doing, give it all you've got.

H is for humor -- as in don't take things too seriously. You are going to experience tough times, and humor helps pull you through.

I is for interpersonal relationships. Those with good people skills are able to adjust and survive as their business grows.

J is for journal, as in writing down your thoughts and ideas, as well as picking the brains of experts. Don't forget to review your journal periodically for things you forgot, missed or overlooked.

K is for knowledgeable. Successful entrepreneurs are constantly updating themselves regarding their products and industries.

L is for looking forward. A successful entrepreneur looks ahead, around corners and as far into the future as possible.

M is for mentor. Find a "tiger," preferably someone who's been around the block. Retired professionals are a marvelous resource for this kind of advice.

N is for never giving up. Amend your plans if needed, but keep your eye on the prize.

O is for opportunities. Whether you see a need that is unfulfilled, a product that could be improved or a problem screaming for a solution, you are seeing an opportunity.

P is for passion. When you have passion, you speak with conviction, act with authority and present with zeal.

Q is for quantify. Your goals must be measurable, so it's necessary to have a standard to hold them to. You can't keep track of your progress if you don't know where you want to go.

R is for risk. Entrepreneurs must be willing to take risks. Sometimes you have to triple your failure rate to triple your success.

S is for self-survey. Do you really want to do this, or are you just trying to escape your problems? If you're going to be an entrepreneur, you have to believe in yourself more than you believe in anything else in the world.

T is for target audience. If your concept is going to succeed, you have to identify a realistic target audience, big enough to be profitable yet small enough for you to service it thoroughly.

U is for unflappable. Beyond the "don't sweat the small stuff" mentality, you need to keep a level head and an open mind.

V is for veracity. The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is what your employees and customers deserve from you. Anything less will earn you a bad reputation.

W is for work hard -- then work harder, and keep working as hard as you can until you get the results you are looking for.

X is for exercise regularly. (Pardon my spelling.) If you don't take care of yourself, you can't be at your best.

Y is for years, which is how long you may have to work to get your idea off the ground.

Z is for zookeeper. When you're running the place, it's up to you to keep the dangerous things in their cages while bringing the visitors through the gates.

Mackay's Moral: Being an entrepreneur is a lot like the ABCs -- start at the beginning, and follow your plan through to the end.

by Harvey Mackay Apr 1, 2012

Being an entrepreneur is a lot like the ABCs

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