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Tuesday, 26 February 2013 01:58
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Trying to build a new relationship? You'll never manage it by staring at a screen. Here's what you need to do instead.

We’ve stopped seeing each other. You and me. All of us.

Our eyes may indeed be windows to our soul, but with our necks craned downward and our eyes focused on tiny handheld screens, who can tell? We hardly make an effort to look at the person we’re talking to anymore. Younger people, in general, find it challenging to maintain eye contact with adults. Video conferencing complicates things further. When is the last time you consciously looked into someone’s eyes and had a meaningful conversation?

When nearly every personal and business interaction uses a screen as an intermediary, it’s difficult to develop and maintain meaningful relationships with employees, customers and partners. But such relationships are the cornerstone of building a long-term business. So put down that smart phone, walk away from the computer, and think about these five things:

Speak with Your Eyes

We communicate so much with a simple look. Are you genuinely interested and receptive to ideas or do your eyes dart away while someone is talking? A challenging stare can thwart collaboration before a word is spoken. Even if your eyes are relaxed and attentive, your eyebrows may convey concern, surprise and other emotions. Relax your face when you’re meeting with someone and use your eyes to meet theirs for five seconds at a time, while making note of their overall body language.

Listen to Their Eyes

Without looking directly into someone’s eyes, you’ll miss millions of visual clues as to what’s going on inside their head. Can you see fear? A spark of excitement? A glazed look of boredom? Are the other person’s arms crossed or relaxed at their side? You can’t read body language if your eyes are looking past them, down at papers or at your phone. Carefully pay attention to the other person’s eyes, and you’ll learn more than you ever could from lifeless words on a screen.

Look for the “Tell”

In poker, it’s called the “tell”: the habitual signal your opponent makes that betrays whether he or she is holding a full house or a hand full of nothing. Someone is telling you something. She can’t make eye contact with you. Why? Perhaps she’s afraid to deliver bad news or wants to be somewhere else. If a customer or employee is staring at the ceiling or evading your eyes for no apparent reason at all, you need to figure out what’s really going on.

Be Shifty-Eyed

If you’re making a presentation to a group you need to look at everyone in the room. The guy over there in blue jeans? He might be the CEO. Ignoring eye contact with all the women? You’ve just alienated both the CMO and CFO. Take your time. Be deliberate. Connect while you speak by scanning and making brief eye contact with everyone in the room. That’s a great way to change your message into a truly powerful connection.

But Don’t Be Creepy

Eye contact is something most people struggle with, yet it’s a critical component of communication. Relax. Blink normally. Don’t squint or stare. Above all, eye contact should not be awkward or creepy. The goal is not to drill into the other person’s soul with an unbroken gaze for extended periods of time. Just work on being fully present when meeting with someone -- and pay attention to your eyeballs.

Monday, 25 February 2013 19:49
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InvisibleManIt’s often the little things that we say that mean the most. Words can be extremely motivational and incredibly destructive. Ironically the less words we use the greater the impact and resonance.

I have been discussing and quoting a statement from the great thinker and communicator Seth Godin quite a bit lately…

“Either you are going to tell stories that spread, or you will become irrelevant”

This is not a philosophy but a fact that applies nicely to the global and social communications age we live in. If we want to get noticed we have to be part of the conversations inside Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, with our Blogs and beyond. It drives home the core ethos behind how we need to approach our individual social media engagements and online communications strategies.

It’s not what we have to tell people about ourselves that means anything anymore; it’s what people are saying to each other about us that will count. It’s up to you to give people content, information and resources that they can use, and for this we can and should be credited and recognised. The reviews, referrals, re-tweets and recommendations are what make one product or service stand out from the rest for good reason.

We believe each other’s advice before that of the provider itself because we know they are promoting, broadcasting and selling to us. When we talk to our networks about products and service we like, dislike or want to explore, we are speaking from experience with the all-important trust relationship already established with our chosen friends and communities of interest.

Monday, 25 February 2013 19:03
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pencil-breakSmall business owners often end up wanting to (or wishing they could) quit their business.

There are many frustrations that come along with running and owning a business, but they don’t have to get on top of you to such an extent that you’d like to quit!

You have the opportunity to create your perfect business – one that integrates all aspects of your life goals, lifestyle goals and business goals. Here are 7 ways to start removing those frustrations and get the business you always dreamed of:

1. Develop a vision for your business

Why are you in your business? If you’re not sure how to answer this, chances are you don’t have a clear vision for your business. What’s a vision? In brief, it’s a picture of how you see your business in its ideal state.

There are many resources available on how to develop your business vision. A vision plays an essential part in the success of your business, and it’s vital if you want a business that turns you on instead of one you’d really like to quit.

2. Identify clear goals

“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision is just passing time. Vision with action can change the world” – Joel Barker.

A vision alone will not provide the daily structure required to head towards it (your vision). It’s too far “out there”. In itself, it is not enough to move your business forward. This is where clear goals and objectives come into play.

Make sure you set defined goals that target the development and growth of your business – goals that will improve your business as well as providing some fun along the way.

It’s no surprise that business owners who are stressed, unhappy and unfulfilled don’t have any powerful or clear goals for their business or personal lives.

3. Make sure your goals relate to your vision

All too often business owners set goals without making sure they are firmly tied to their vision. If your goals don’t line up with your vision, or don’t move towards your vision … what use is that? Don’t set goals just because you know it’s an important thing to do …. set goals that will move you toward your vision.

4. Focus on your target market/ideal customer

Do you know who your ideal customer is? What criteria have you set to recognise and define them? Or do you invite anyone in the door … using the “warm body” theory.

Sometimes taking on a less than ideal client does not always pan out profitably or successfully. You may need to be prepared to walk away from business. This might not always be appropriate dependent on your type of business. For example, an internet based business probably has an entirely different set of rules to a service business. But this doesn’t denigrate the fact that you should define just who your ideal customer is – you need to know who to target, right?

5. Put systems in place

Systemising your business is crucial when it comes to getting your business under control. Systems will allow you to purposefully move towards your goals. Better still, they’ll allow you to create a business that is capable of running whether you’re working in it or not!

6. Measure your results

Without a measurement system it’s hard to know how your business is tracking. If you don’t have some way of knowing if you’re winning or losing (moving toward your vision or away from it) your motivation will start to disappear.

This is where KPIs (key performance indicators) and similar measurement tools are vital. Make sure your measuring is shown in a way everyone can understand. For example, a bunch of figures on a page might not do the job, whereas a simple graph will paint a picture everyone can see.

A measurement system is vital. You can’t celebrate the wins if you and your team don’t know about them. In the same manner you can’t change tack and impact any losses either.

7. Be in control

Do you have a business, or does your business have you? Do you spend long hours slaving away, working hard, making sacrifices in order for your business to succeed? Who’s the winner here? You? Your family? Your business? It’s simply not worth it. There is a better way.

If you’ve lost control of your business … time to get it back!

If you’d like to take the frustration out of your business, click on this link: www.fullfocus.co.nz/what-we-do/business-plan/

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Monday, 25 February 2013 03:35
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If you're starting your own business for these four reasons don't do it.

I recently went to a great tech event called VatorSplash. It's an event where tech entrepreneurs claw their way to center stage in hopes of getting their demo seen and receiving the coveted Vator award. The real benefit is they get in front of some impressive VCs that might love their idea enough to fund it to the next phase. The night I went I was lucky enough to get to listen to the CEO of Evernote, Phil Libin speak. And as I write this, I'm using his great tool.

Libin walked us through his beliefs on entrepreneurship; specifically who should be an entrepreneur and where they should launch. As he chatted about the "who" part, I pulled four reasons why anyone thinking they want to start a business should NOT DO IT and related it to my day-to-day and boy, was he spot on. So here's my take on his words. Don't start a biz if...

1. You Want to Be Your Own Boss

In general most boss's report to someone on some level. Yet even if you fund your company yourself you still have people to answer to. You need to understand that your No. 1 job is making sure people in your company are successful. I have a bunch of people who report to me at my online marketing company VerticalResponse. Their biggest problem? Getting s*it done. My to-do list? Removing obstacles for them so they can get stuff done, which benefits our team. I report to them and they know that.

2. You Want More Flexible Time

It's such a great thought, "If I have my own company I can come and go as I please!" (LOL). For what it's worth, if you want more flexible time you should not be an entrepreneur. As I sit here on President's Day at 9 p.m. writing this, I owe this article to the person who manages content for us. (See No. 1). You live and breathe your business, you can't think of anything else and your time is your business. Get used to it.

3. You Want to Make Money Overnight

When I started VerticalResponse, I wanted to commoditize email marketing for small business. In 2001 there wasn't a tool for small businesses to do their email marketing affordably, so I wanted to ensure there was something reasonable that would help their business grow. Do I want VR to be successful? You bet, whatever format it comes in, be it an acquisition, IPO or simply making it on its own.

4. You Can't Afford to Fail

If you want to start your own business, you have to be okay that you'll lose your own investment. And if you're lucky enough to have them, you'll lose your investors investment and you're still okay with that. If you've got a soul, you'll lose sleep. For me, every time I went back to my friends and family for investment money, I made sure to put my money where my mouth was and invested alongside them. I couldn't see taking friends money if I wasn't willing to put more in myself!

All in all, a great gig, thanks Phil for an awesome chat, and for bringing to the surface the realities of running your own business. What you talked about was complete reality, but I wouldn't trade if for the world!

Do you agree with who should be an entrepreneur? I'd love to hear about it!

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Monday, 25 February 2013 01:33
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There are a lot of myths surrounding the state of mind known as "happiness." Here's how you can break them down and start on your own path.

Two months ago a new client entered my office for her first coaching session. "All I want is to feel happy," she said. "I'm miserable and I focus on that misery all day long."

It seemed like a fairly simple request, so we went to work.

Week after week I witnessed the smile on my client's face becoming more consistent, more authentic. Soon she began talking about the laughter and pleasant activities that now fill her days. So I asked whether she thought that we had achieved her happiness goal. I was surprised when she said "no."

What I learned is that this vibrant woman believed that in order to characterize herself as happy she could never feel sad. To her, sadness and other unpleasant feelings are not allowed in the life of someone who defines themselves as a happy person. But that is not what the human experience is actually about.

Remember, life doles out the knocks. And if we don't allow a natural progression of the resulting unpleasant feelings we will never fully experience and embrace the joy in life. That's right; where there is black, there is white, it's just how nature works. There are two complementary forces that make up all aspects of life and we must allow and accept their balance.

This is the understanding that my client was missing.

And it begs the question: Happiness--what is it, really?

In simplest form, happiness is a state of being. Sure, our circumstances influence the level of happiness we can access, but happiness is within us, not around us. We all have it, but we each define it differently and have varying expectations of ourselves and our own abilities to be happy. And that is what causes the confusion.

It's perfectly OK to have moments or days of feeling bad, rather than good. Heck, it's necessary. When we resist the feelings that we categorize as unpleasant, it simply causes more resistance, leading to greater unhappiness. Let's debunk the happiness myth. These steps might just help you develop a healthy--and, dare I say, happy--life balance.

1. Build a solid foundation.

Martin Seligman is one of the leading researchers in positive psychology and author of Authentic Happiness. Seligman describes happiness as having three parts: pleasure, engagement, and meaning. Pleasure is the "feel good" part of happiness. Engagement refers to living a "good life" of work, family, friends, and hobbies. Meaning refers to using our strengths to contribute to a larger purpose. Seligman says that all three are important, but that of the three, engagement and meaning make the most difference to living a happy life.

Revisit your relationships. Are they satisfactory? Do you have a good support network in place? If not, work on building it up. When you hit a bump in the road having supportive people around you will make a world of difference.

Also, review how you contribute to a larger purpose. Focusing on something bigger than you are helps to keep things in perspective.

2. Set realistic expectations.

You are human. Forcing or faking happiness leads to misery and conflict. Even if you create your happiness foundation and achieve a state of general well-being, you will have your ups and downs. It's how you deal with those fluctuations that matters. Condemnation and negativity will jeopardize your state of balance. Get real. Eliminate the pressure and you will bounce back more quickly.

3. Allow your feelings, rather than resisting them.

There are days when you will wake up feeling unhappy. Whether you fully understand it or not, it's important to accept that this happens. Be patient with yourself. Don't complain, but do indulge in a little time to examine your feelings without criticism. Rather than, "I hate when I feel like this," try "It's interesting that I have these feelings." Be OK with it and examine the feelings for a little while if they merit your attention. If not, simply turn your focus to your larger purpose to prevent yourself from dwelling on something that isn't dwell-worthy.

4. Be ready for change.

Ups and downs are normal, but if you find yourself in what feels like a constant state of unhappiness it's important to listen to what your body and mind are telling you. Life has a funny way of tapping us on the shoulder when we need to create change. If you don't pay attention to the gentle tapping, you may be surprised by a less gentle reminder--or series of them. Either way, your subconscious mind will get your attention to suggest, or force, change. So make it easy on yourself and pay attention to the gentle tap. What is the cause of your unhappiness? Find someone who can help you sort through it, and embrace the change that lies ahead. You are on your way.

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