Category Archives: Communication

Your Presence Is Required

What’s the difference between doing something and practicing doing it?

When we practice something, the consensus is, the practice is a lead-up. Framed this way, practice gets a different treatment from the ‘real thing.’ For example, doing something like taking a few practice swings to warm up and get into the groove before playing ball. Since practice gives you more space to allow and accept mistakes, it’s not as serious, nor for keeps.

With practice, you have more time to ‘get it right’ and not so much pressure to get it right as to ‘get into the flow.’ That’s how the practice of practice can give off the impression of it not being as important as ‘the real thing.’ Without, say, screaming crowds or an apprehensive, appreciative audience, you can’t be faulted for thinking that. It’s the exciting stuff that gets attention.

So, makes what’s the difference? Take your pick.

Goals.
The end defines the means. The clearer the goal, the more chances you have of finding appropriate ways and means to get there. Different goals for different fields show this. And even acquiring skills are counted as goals.

Goals that require physical mastery, for example, like playing the violin or playing basketball. Each area has different requirements, but in essence on the professional level one must be able to play with the instrument of choice as if it was an extension of one’s body. It does what you want it to. For that to happen, you need to train your whole body to know what to do to produce a desired effect, whether it’s producing a trill or making the perfect overhead shot, without you having to consciously think about it.

Goals that require intellectual discernment are different. Rote memorization can be boosted by memory exercises and practice. Discernment can only be gained through exposure, trial-and-error experience, and critical thinking. It isn’t making something do what you want it to as figuring out the how and whys, before going on to such questions as, what can I do with this, how can I make it do this instead.

 

Resources.
Limits help define what you can and can’t do in a particular situation. Limits can force us to be more creative with how we move within them, just like stretching a budget (limited funds), being fanatically good at time-management (limited time), and focused productivity (limited focus and mental energy.)

Continue reading Your Presence Is Required

Are You A Poor Entrepreneur?

Any business of any size is run by people. People, being people, carry their own mind-sets and world views with them wherever they go, and make decisions, have habits, and see things according to the way their world-view works.  How you see the world decides how you act in it, and vice versa.

And with that setting the context,  you have heard of the scarcity mindset, right?

In essence, the scarcity mindset is concerned with lack.  If we were talking about it like it’s eyesight, it’s hyper-focus and short-sightedness at the same time.

  • With hyper-focus you can get tunnel-vision. While doubling down on an issue can help especially when time is running out and the need is urgent, you can also get blindsided.
  • With short-sightedness you won’t be able to focus on what’s further ahead.

You’re fully caught up in the moment, and not in a good way.  Think of it like treating the symptoms and ignoring the illness. You feel better temporarily, but it doesn’t fix that you’re sick.

When you’re focused on what isn’t there, you can’t focus on what is there. You’re too tied up to respond freely, consciously, and deliberately.

What happens when you have have this mind-set?

  • You spend the majority of your brainpower  and energy on what you see as emergencies, and the important things can slide right out of focus.
  • Your judgment is affected, as will as your willpower.

When these two things are set askew, you won’t be able to make the most appropriate choices in the situations you face,  and you could find it easier to throw your hands up and pick the closest ‘solution’ available, or simply give up, which doesn’t help and can make the situation worse.

 

In many cases, that sort of thinking can be a big a problem hiding in your blind spot. You might not think there’s anything out of the ordinary, you might not see that there’s an issue, but somehow you keep bumping into the same snarls, chokepoints, and roadblocks.  You keep putting out the same fires.

See, the scarcity mindset isn’t just the overall feeling that “there is only this much, and no more,” so you have to get yours while you can. It’s an entire way of moving in the world, and for you, it’s just normal. And it’s holding you back.
Continue reading Are You A Poor Entrepreneur?

Be As Good As Your Word: How To Win In Business

In 6 Principles Behind Superior Customer Service we shared the following points on establishing, maintaining, and keeping good relationships with customers by using the following rules:

1) Take the long view for your business and build for it.
2)”No,”  isn’t an easy thing to say, and knowing when and how to say it is a valuable  skill.
3) Keep current of market research.
4) Ask for feed-back regularly.
5) Customers stay when they get their needs met and their wants satisfied.
6) Have a solid plan to handle complaints.

It can sound sort of hokey to say, “Be someone your customers can trust and depend on to give the honest, good service and provide products that work as they should.” That should already be a given, right?

Yes, but that message shouldn’t just be said at the beginning of the relationship, but iterated through action in every successive encounter with the customer. You can’t just say something like that and have the customer believe you.  And here’s yet another ‘cliche’, “Actions speak louder than words.” Customers may want to believe you, but you have to prove it each time they initiate interaction with you, whether it’s a purchase, an inquiry, or even a complaint.

You say you have the best product, the best one for their needs.  You have to prove it with your product performing well, solidly and consistently. You say you value their presence,and embrace their patronage, you have to act in a way aligned with what you say. Continue reading Be As Good As Your Word: How To Win In Business

7 Rules To Ward Off Information Overload

Everyone, individuals and organizations, is struggling to keep pace with the accelerated rate of change today. While in many cases the speed of communication in things like data  delivery, acquisition, and dissemination has helped us make great strides in many areas, the rate of comprehension is where which bottlenecks have jammed up and pose as a huge source of stress and anxiety. There is so much information out there and it comes in so fast, how do we keep our heads and stay clear-headed when we get so much conflicting, compelling, and even alarming data?

Check your sources.
Facebook is the most popular social media  site in the world. Anyone off the street and on their mobile can  make a post and have it go viral. The key word being ‘social’, unconfirmed or even  false information can then trend and spread like wildfire.   While you rely on your Facebook account to keep in touch with friends, family and your other social circles, don’t count on it to be an utterly reliable source of information about the world.

You need information to make a decision, to tell you more about something you’re working on, or interested in. When you  find sources of information, you need to know you can trust your sources not to let you down with the information you get from them.  Don’t just take anyone’s word for it. Do  your research.  Verify your source’s reliability and experience.  Make sure you can trust your sources of information. Continue reading 7 Rules To Ward Off Information Overload

How To Use Your Data To Take Meaningful Action

When people talk about it being the Information Age, our thoughts usually go  straight to the internet and the world -wide web, picturing the oceans of data produced, stored and shared in that virtual place.  We also tend to overlook the fact that that means a whole world of data, and that it is simply not possible for any one person on their own to be able to put all the information into a usable form at the snap of a finger.

Here’s the thing: We create and upload tons of data onto the internet every day. That is a lot of information, and there are special tools and analysis methods to extract usable knowledge from that sort of Big Data.

The people and the businesses that succeed in turning the odds to favor them are the ones who know what data to look for and how to mine that data intelligently. They take pains to understand the picture that results from the analysis, and they leverage that knowledge to make good decisions and reach their goals.

We have tools at our disposal that can collect any and all information we might be interested in, but without a way to put it into context, all we have are figures. The  most important thing to remember is determining what data is significant, and how  its significance translates to usefulness for making better decisions.

Continue reading How To Use Your Data To Take Meaningful Action

Who Do You Work With?

22 November 2013, by A. Cedilla

The most basic business-customer relationship is this: you make the product or provide a service, the customer buys it, or pays you to do something for them. Money for tangible goods or service. That’s it, reduced to its simplest terms.

Real-world customer relationships and businesses are definitely more complex than that though, because at the heart of it it’s about people.

Who sources and supplies the materials? Who makes the products? Who sells it, who buys it, who benefits from it all throughout concept to final product?

On the first level you may be working for yourself — you’re running your own online business, or for other people.

You may be working with partners (joint ventures) or with your affiliates, or even be an affiliate.

You may be running a side business while holding down a full-time job reporting to someone higher up. We do what we have to to make it through in these times. You have to support yourself, and maybe-probably the people you care for — which is a whole other sphere of responsibility. Whoa.

Think past the surface of ‘for’ or ‘under’ or ‘to’. See the connections.

The second definition of ‘customer’ currently in Wikipedia is quite appropriate for this discussion, even if it’s colloquial: “(Informal) A person, especially one engaging in some sort of interaction with others. Ex. a cool customer, a tough customer, an ugly customer.”

You engage in some sort of interaction with others, and many of those interactions happen in established relations, business or personal. The people you work with are your co-workers, partners, bosses, managers, subordinates. The people you work with can also include family members (you’re part of a unit, whether spousal and it’s just the two of you, or you’re also a parent, someone’s child, sibling, cousin, in-law, etc.)

Relationships are how we work. Nobody lives in a vacuum. Who do you work with? ID your more important relationships and dig. Continue reading Who Do You Work With?

Why Run Your Own Business?

27 September 2011, by A. Cedilla

  • You possess a skill — or more likely a particular set of skills — that came easily to you and you’ve refined your control of it after long, focused practice. It’s a skill-set people will pay you to exercise on their behalf. You can do something very well, and people will pay you enough to make a living wage. Using your skill-set in alignment with your goals, you found the sweet spot where your strengths and other people’s needs meet, and you’re busy making sure you get to stay there and have a good time working it out.
  • Life is too short to pass thing up for fear of what might happen, you reason, so why not choose to see what happens next by making the leap? Whatever you do, time will pass anyway, so might as well do things your way instead of waiting for someone to make your life for you.
  • You don’t quite fit anywhere else, and corporate culture gives you hives, literally. You found that out the hard way.
  • From everything you’ve experienced, you learned that there’s no security out there except for what you make yourself. (Yahoo Finance link)

Face it, there has to be something that keeps you going at work, work that in its most thankless and frazzling moments can leave you wishing you were back in kindergarten, where all you had to think about was what color crayon to use, and whether it was nap-time yet — and if there were cookies after.

In its best moments, however, you realize that it’s all of you working in alignment to make something happenyour knowledge, your skill, your mastery and your choices — and while people are paying you for it, you get to live life on your own terms. Continue reading Why Run Your Own Business?

Nichification And Your Chances of Success

26 May 2010, by A. Cedilla

Hitting the right niche is only the start. There’s a connection between understanding the context and importance of the niche, and using this understanding to up your likelihood of succeeding — and more importantly — staying in business.

Here are a few observations we’ve amassed on how to recognize and use niches to increase the odds of success in your business’s favor.

Niches are the only way to survive in online business. You can’t be all things to all people, that’s an unrealistic and downright dumb goal to aspire to. You’d burn out trying. Actually, you’d be setting yourself up to crash and burn.

For example, think of Amazon. Amazon sells practically everything that can be sold (legally) online but Amazon is not its merchandise.

From its start as an on-line bookstore, Amazon went on to become the world’s biggest on-line retailer, dominating its niche. Think of more popular names. eBay. YouTube. Google. What niches do these brands occupy?
Continue reading Nichification And Your Chances of Success

Cost, Value and Price

21 May 2010, by A. Cedilla

Here’s a short marketing tip you might find helpful:

  • Cost is what you pay to make stuff.
  • Value is what the buyer believes your stuff will give him.
  • Price is what you set for the stuff you’re selling.

Longer version:

Cost is what you pay to make stuff. Actual labor and service, time, brainpower, materials, and equipment are what you use up to make your product or service.

Other costs can include advertising, marketing, research and other things that’s covered by overhead. These costs are a given, but their price, on the other hand, varies.

Value is what the stuff brings to the person paying for it. Perception is a major part of the process of setting value to something. Here are a few questions to get you thinking: Continue reading Cost, Value and Price

On Writing

24 December 2009, by A. Cedilla

  • Holly Lisle, acclaimed science-fiction and fantasy writer, has a free, 209-page e-book full of very memorable advice on writing, available for download here.
  • No Train No Gain, an online resource for newsroom trainers (in journalism writing), has a resource page to help improve writing.
  • The Purdue Online Writing Lab has writing resources and instructional material meant for writers and teachers/trainers.
  • Forward Motion, an online community aimed at helping writers get published professionally, has back issues available, with some as free PDF downloads

And these are just a few of the thousands of writing resources, communities, organizations and downloads available on-line. Are you getting an idea of where we’re heading with this now?

Writing is a skill. As with any skill, there are levels to writing that can’t be reached by any process other than study and deliberate application — practice, practice, practice.

Some of the resources above are meant to break writing down to its very nut and bolts, others attend more to the process of writing, and still others to a particular goal — getting published, or mastering journalism. All of these resources can help you write better, if you apply yourself.

Continue reading On Writing