My Productivity Planner Vortex

By 0 Permalink 0

Hi! My name is Wendy. I am a productivity nerd and a planner addict!

Productivity planners are seemingly the perfect answer to my dilemma of wanting to live a more focused and productive life. However, I want to tell you a brief tale about how focusing on HOW to be productive was actually COUNTERproductive in my life!

Last summer, I purchased the Best Planner Ever, and I have used it faithfully since. In fact, I was SO enamored by the planner that I sent comments to the developer, letting her know what I liked and didn’t like. (Unsolicited feedback, you know is the very best kind. ūüėČ I do my part!)

As the end of 2015 neared, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the new, slimmer 2016 model and eagerly ordered it as soon as it was released.

When January 1st rolled around, I met the new year armed with the 2016 version of Best Planner Ever. I was SO excited to dive into this new year and embrace the productivity my planner would bring.

However, I started to notice that my Facebook feed was littered with one planner after the other, touting more perfect solutions to my disorganization, lack of focus and tendency to over-schedule my life. These other planners led me to believe THEY might be the answer to my out-of-control world. I found myself knee-deep in planner shopping before I ever knew what had hit me! Why, oh why, am I so drawn to these ads? (Google and Facebook know a bit about this conundrum when it comes to Google searches and ad placement, by the way! Where else would all those ads on Facebook have originated?)

The commitment that’s required to fully utilize a planner reminds me of the commitment that is needed to embrace a Capsule Wardrobe. And in my case, planner shopping was becoming an addiction when I already had the Best Planner Ever siting¬†on my desk! Like my mom always said, “You should leave with the one who brung you!” The Best Planner Ever and its designer, Jennifer Dawn, have taught me to set goals. This has been a long-time struggle for me. This planner has already helped¬†me make huge progress in this area.

I’ve decided this:

The Best Planner Ever and I have a good thing going. We’ve set goals together, made appointments together, planned dinner together, and even de-cluttered together. I am officially committing to no more planner shopping. I am truly sorry, my 2016, 6-month, chrome-cover edition friend. Please forgive me. From this day forward, I am fully committed to you and all your wonderful features!

Stay In Your Lane

By 0 Permalink 0

Earlier this year, the winner of Celebrity Apprentice was Leeza Gibbons, a correspondent and co-host of Entertainment Tonight and later the host of her own talk show. During the competition, there was a great deal of drama between the ladies in the running. When asked how she managed to stay out of the drama, Gibbons answered:

Leeza Gibbons Stay in Your LaneMy mother’s inspiration was enormously important to my win. I promised her when she got Alzheimer’s disease that I would “tell her story and make it count.” How incredible that she got this amazing prime-time platform for awareness! And I played the game with her advice in my ear. She always said, “Stay in your lane. Run your race,” so I kept remembering just to ignore all the drama around me and focus on what I needed to do to help our team win the task. It proved to be a pretty good winning strategy for “Celebrity Apprentice,” and it’s been pretty good at my career, too!

Simply put, Leeza is a class act, and I have thought many times since then about those¬†words of wisdom handed down from her mother. The words “Stay in your lane. Run your race,” resonate with me as I concentrate on staying focused in my business.

Someone recently asked me, “Wendy, who are your competitors?” I was honestly taken aback by that. I don‚Äôt spend a lot of time thinking about “the competition”.¬†In business, it’s critical that you stay focused on what you’re doing and ignore the competition. (Yes, it’s important to know the market because you have to stay open to new ideas, but you don’t need to worry about what other people are doing.)

Differentiate

Find your voice and create the magic for your customers. It’s what sets you apart and makes you special. If you are creating the same product as your competition, your only differentiation is price. You have no choice but to compete on price. Stay in your lane.

Negative Thinking

Constantly worrying about your competition, will put a negative spin on everything you do, leading you into victim thinking. That is the kind of thinking that says, “I‚Äôm limited because of what I can do.” Instead, turn your thinking around by being positive and staying in your lane. Focus on your customer and listen to their needs. Stay in your lane.

Focus

When you’re driving, you naturally head in the direction of your focus. If you are constantly turning¬†to look at¬†the car in the other lane, you will wind up veering in that direction. Business is the same way. A constant focus on what others are doing will cause you to¬†lose your focus. There’s a lot of noise out there and it’s easy to lose your¬†focus, but focus straight ahead. Stay in your lane.

Abundance Thinking

A mentality of abundance says, “There‚Äôs plenty of business to go around.” Embracing this mentality allows you to focus on your clients without worrying about what others are doing. Bring¬†value to your clients. Stay in your lane.

Really Moving the Needle on Profitability

By 0 Permalink 0

In my last blog post, I said that in order to really move the needle on profitability, you must focus on two key areas of your business:

  • Products (the items or services you sell)
  • People (the staff you employ and the people you serve)

Today, I want to hone in on People.¬†It’s been said:

It’s not about what you know but who you know.

That old adage rings true in many situations, including your business. The people you employ and the clients you serve can drive your business and its profitability up, up, up or drag it down to bankruptcy.

STAFF

I can’t overstate that who you hire to do each job in your company is critical to its success. So, take your time in the hiring process. Learn all you can about each applicant, test their skills and knowledge. But most importantly, figure out if they will be a great¬†fit with the culture of your business and if they have the character traits that match up with your company’s values.

When it comes to how the work is getting done by your staff, look for inefficiencies and seek to eliminate them. (You don’t want work being done twice, after all!) You should be encouraging your team to challenge how things are done and bring solutions for better efficiency. (You might even consider giving bonuses to staff who find better ways to serve your customers.)

Jim Collins, in Good to Great, said:

“…Leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with ‚Äúwhere‚ÄĚ but with ‚Äúwho.‚ÄĚ They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the¬†right seats. And they stick with that discipline‚ÄĒfirst the people, then the direction‚ÄĒno matter how dire the circumstances.”

CLIENTS

You have clients who aren’t a good fit; you know you do. When it comes to clients, do an analysis of several indicators to determine if they are the right¬†fit for your company. Look at the “cringe factor” of each client. Do you cringe every time you see their name on the caller ID because you know you’re about to hear bad news? Consider value and loyalty, and whether each client finds value in the services you provide and is loyal to you and your company.

It’s important to realize that the time you spend on the clients who are the wrong fit takes you away from serving the right clients.¬†20% of your clients will yield 80% of your profits, so it’s really important to filter out the 80% in order to identify¬†the 20%.

If you currently have staff or clients in your business that aren’t the¬†right fit, then it may be time to make some changes to get people in the right seats on the bus. I would love to hear from you about what changes you have made in the People of your business.

My Capsule Wardrobe and the Amazing After Action Review

By 0 Permalink 0

Welcome back to my blog and my take on how a Capsule Wardrobe is similar to a Capsule Business!¬†As we discussed in my first post on the Capsule Wardrobe, when you come to the last two weeks of wearing your Capsule Wardrobe during a season, you should review what you have, purchase or incorporate what you need, and discard what you don’t for the upcoming season.¬†I consider those two weeks to be clarifying weeks, when I carefully evaluate what I have, what I want, and what I need.

This is SO similar to two critical, intentional times of reflection in business:

  1. The After Action Review which occurs after any meeting, consultation, proposal presentation, or staff/customer interaction.
  2. Scheduled times on a regular basis when, from a big picture stance, you intentionally evaluate your customers, products/services, and market.

First, the After Action Review, or AAR, has been used by the US Army for several decades, and has been promoted for business use by value pricing guru, Ron Baker. (Here’s where he describes why the AAR is the most awesome¬†learning tool ever.)

I believe by practicing the art of the AAR, you can skyrocket your business success! In an AAR, you should ask:

  • What was supposed to happen?
  • What actually happened?
  • What are the positive and negative factors here?
  • What we learned and what should we do better next time?

In my business, AARs are fast becoming the standard right after any client or prospect-facing meeting and even after many staff meetings. Each person who participated inherently knows ways to improve the next time around, and capturing this knowledge is critical for growing and improving. Ron Baker said:

Your firm‚Äôs intellectual capital is the most important source of its long-term wealth creating capacity…¬†Capturing the tacit knowledge that exists in the heads of your human capital and making it part of your organization‚Äôs structural capital will insure that your firm knows what it knows, and can deploy it quicker and at a greater value than the¬†competition.

I would encourage you to try implementing AARs into your business, whether you are a business owner or an employee! The insights you will gain will propel your business on its way toward more focused operations.

Second, regarding times for¬†broader¬†reflection on the overall direction of the business, these will not be as frequent as AARs.¬†(I recommend quarterly for the frequency.) These are times you set aside from working in the weeds to¬†discover and¬†prune clients, services, products or markets that¬†do not bring you the ROI you thought they would. During these reflecting times, you may find that your services or products don’t bring the joy they once did or¬†that you may want to seize¬†some opportunities you have set to the side. It’s a healthy thing to intentionally create times of focus, planning and pruning in our lives, whether quickly after key interactions or less frequently for deep thought.

As business owners, we can get so buried in the day-to-day operations of our businesses that we find them drifting whatever direction the wind blows with no real mapped plan. We must remove ourselves for a time of review, renewal and refocus so that we can effectively steer the ship we are sailing.

Back to the capsule: if you’re interested in creating your own Capsule Wardrobe, I would encourage you to read¬†the following posts for inspiration and clarity:

What reviews are you doing that are helping your business grow? I would love to hear about them below! Happy Capsuling, Niching, Focusing and Reviewing in Your Business!

My Capsule Wardrobe and Capsule Business Focus

By 0 Permalink 0

In previous posts, I introduced the Capsule Wardrobe concept and explained how the Capsule Wardrobe is similar to choosing your business niche.

Today I want to discuss focus and how the¬†Capsule Wardrobe’s seasonal focus relates to business focus.

A¬†Capsule Wardrobe requires you¬†to stay focused on wearing only the¬†clothes you selected for three¬†months.¬†Fashion trends can change in the blink of an eye, but a Capsule Wardrobe gives you a focus on set pieces of clothing for three months so that you aren’t tempted to buy every new outfit¬†you see.¬†Embracing¬†a Capsule Wardrobe forces¬†your shopping to become¬†intentional and focused. You now shop with a purpose – to fill specific voids in your Capsule with items that bring you joy – rather than simply shopping to kill time, spend money, or bring a bit of happiness.

It’s important to trust that the pieces I originally picked for my Capsule are the right pieces for this season. I can dive into the selections in my wardrobe and really get creative with putting outfits together. It’s been said that scarcity fosters creativity.

Capsule Wardrobe FocusThat creativity can be found when we stay within our focus area. Similarly, I have found that once a business carefully niches, it then needs to focus on its niche. Just like fashion trends or sale items, business opportunities will come your way. If the opportunity fits within your niche you should jump on it quickly. However, if it is a distraction that will take you away from your chosen niche, you may need to place that opportunity on a shelf while you focus on your business niche for a set time. Focusing on your business niche will ensure you are providing the value your customers need instead of chasing after distractions.

I have a personal tendency to be sidetracked by¬†“Ooooh shiny” distractions and find that it’s critical to quickly identify whether it does or does not fit within my area of focus and whether it’s actually an opportunity or a distraction. Of course, it would be silly to be¬†completely blind to business opportunities, so we have to¬†practice discernment.

My husband and I recently took a weekend getaway trip, and while eating at a restaurant I noticed some cute t-shirts in the gift shop. In the past, I would have snatched up two or three and been on my way with my fun purchase, only to later realize that they weren’t the cut or fabric I prefer to wear. That would result in me wearing each shirt only once or twice and then donating it at Goodwill. This time when presented with these shirts, I knew it wasn’t time to shop for my Capsule, so I was able to pass them by, knowing that they didn’t fit within my Capsule focus for the season.

In a similar sense, various people, businesses, connections and events frequently come my way as a business owner. It’s critical that I focus on what I set out to do in¬†my niche and believe that what I choose¬†when I created my niche is still the right choice. When it is the right time to think about other directions, the right opportunities will come along.

Here’s to staying focused on your business niche¬†and running a successfully focused business!

Creating My Capsule Wardrobe

By 0 Permalink 0

First thing’s first- What Is a Capsule Wardrobe:

Planning a Capsule WardrobeThe idea behind a Capsule Wardrobe is to carefully choose a certain number of pieces of clothing (I say 40) that bring you joy and wear them for three months.

Unfancy says this about a capsule wardrobe:

Now I always feel like I have something awesome to throw on, be it Sunday brunch or a client meeting, because every single item hanging in my closet is something I would love to wear right this moment.

Next- How to Work Your Capsule Wardrobe:

Setting Up Your Capsule WardrobeAs you select the pieces for your Capsule Wardrobe, be sure they are pieces you can easily mix and match because you will want to get the most use from those items. You will wear these items for one season (approximately three months).

During the next three months, do not shop for clothes. I repeat, do not shop. ¬†Focus all your clothing “energy”¬†on the 37-40 items in your capsule wardrobe, mixing, matching, and optimizing what you have. ¬†In doing so, you’ll find renewed¬†creativity to invent¬†new outfits so that you don’t tire of your selections.¬†And by limiting your decision making, you will reduce decision fatigue and anxiety.

During the last two weeks of the three-month period, take inventory of the items in your Capsule and decide what you need to move out and replenish with something different for the upcoming season. Perhaps you will need to purchase something new, or you may decide to pull from a seasonal stash for the upcoming season. When the two weeks of planning, shopping and renewing are complete, begin wearing your new capsule for the next three months.

Last- Why the Capsule Wardrobe works for me:

As my journey toward a less cluttered, more focused life has progressed, I have purposefully adopted a Capsule Wardrobe. Implementing a Capsule Wardrobe is certainly not something I just “did” one day. It¬†has been an¬†intentional step in simplifying my¬†life, and it requires¬†careful thought and consideration. But the payoff from¬†a simpler dressing routine, less clutter, and clothes I love is enormous!

Be sure to read next week’s blog post for my big “ah ha moment” when I discovered that the Capsule Wardrobe beautifully parallels simplified business philosophies.