Don’t Burn Bridges! Reputation is everything!

A friend recently was telling me about a long-time co-worker who not only resigned, but did it in a way that burned all bridges and goodwill with the former employer and most co-workers at a good sized company. I understand people get mad, disagree and are frustrated at times, and certainly when leaving a company, but even when your are dealing with the short-term, you have to think about the long-term.  If you don’t, your actions today can seriously affect your future opportunities.  In business acting on your emotions can have a long lasting effect.

You may never even know you lost a fantastic opportunity.  It just won’t be there among your options. This person I mention above has done that because the actions on the way out affected a lot of people who won’t forget when this person’s name comes up in the future.  I am sure it felt good to get things off of their chest, but what did it really accomplish?  Phoenix, like elsewhere, is a big city that in business is like a small town. And people remember being told off longer than someone providing constructive criticism on their way out the door.

So what do you do when you dislike the actions of your employer, co-workers or even clients or vendors?  You have to chart the smoothest course you can. Sometimes it means not saying what’s on your mind in way you would like to.  I am not advocating that you brush serious issues off of the table.  I am simply saying that it is better to act on thought than emotion in these situations.

Remember, reputation takes a lifetime to build and seconds to destroy. Don’t let it be you.

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Why being at work, while anticipating fun, is important! Or, make life/work balance a goal.

Some of you may be asking, what does he mean? Some of you may be saying, life/work balance, good luck! What I mean is being on the edge of having fun, vacation, just not working for a day, etc. What I’m really talking about his life/work balance.

We all work hard. At least I like to think that we do. One of the things that helps me stay focused at work is the knowledge that I have planned breaks, whether taking a mental health day, a short or long weekend or a weeklong vacation with my family. It helps me focus and be productive in my chosen profession.

We all have different things that motivate us, but it is important to have balance in your life. You cannot work all the time, the same as you cannot play all the time.

How do you achieve this balance? I wish I had the answer for everyone, but that is for you to answer for yourself. What creates balance in your life will be different than what creates balance in my life, let alone for anyone else. But it is important to figure out what provides that balance for you. If you already have, or even start now, you are on your way.

Now, get back to work!

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Why are life and business so taxing?

Yes, I know the title is a bit cheesy, but it is April 15, and, of course, I mean something else: Why is it so hard to be successful?

Life is hard. Work is hard. Business is hard. Being successful is hard, let alone getting “ahead.” And working hard doesn’t mean you will be successful or get ahead, but it sure doesn’t hurt.

You need to put in time and do so smartly, whether in your business or personal life.  Doing so is investing in yourself and your business. How do you do this? It depends what you do for a living.

For me, it can mean a lot of networking, including face time. For the person running a small business, it may be the same thing, but with suppliers or people who can connect them to suppliers to try and get better product or pricing.  And for any of us it could be the person at the golf course, who can get us a better tee time if they like us.  It works in all parts of your life.

So put in the work, even though it is taxing!

And I hope this tax day was not too painful for you!

 

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Why continuity matters

It may be All About That Bass this year, but will any of us remember Meghan Trainor next year?

No one plans to be a one hit wonder. Whether in music or business. We are overloaded in every field of business and all professions. The goal is to sustain your business or career over time.

You do this by nurturing relationships and doing both short term, mid-term and long term planning. If you are not sure where to start, ask people you know who have had sustained success. Be open to suggestions and trying new things, maybe even doing things outside your comfort zone.

And try new things. The path that works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.  But you don’t know unless you try things and determine what works for you.

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Why self-confidence is important

If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? Self-confidence comes from inside you, not from others. And confidence and cockiness do not have to go together. If you think you know everything, you don’t.

If someone is tooting their own horn too much, it is likely they really are insecure. Most successful people play down their accomplishments. So do you want to spend time with the insecure egotistical person who only talks about themselves and how great they are, or the self-confident person who you can actually network with or want to do business with?

Just because you have self-confidence, it doesn’t mean you always will win, but you will give yourself more opportunities. That is because it really all goes back to relationships.

So tell yourself how great you are, but don’t tell me!

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What can you learn to help you do what you do?

I read a good quote recently, actually in an email from a friend to other managers in a fantasy football league I am in.  Of course it might have been part of some smack talk that was going on, but it brought to mind a truth: continuous learning and training makes for a better and more interesting work place.

The quote is “Everyone is born a genius, but the process of living de-geniuses them.”  It is by Buckminster Fuller, who I am not too familiar with, but I think it is correct on many levels.  We all have potential, but realizing takes work.  We all know intelligent people who are disinterested in learning or otherwise do not apply themselves.

The time to step up is now! It is the new year (yes, I realize it already is February!). Come up with a plan. What should you learn? Well that depends on what you do and what will help you do what you do. The first step you should take is to figure something out, whether reading a business networking book, to taking a course online or at a local community college. The options are endless.

But the right choice is to do something and stop the de-genius process!

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Why it is time for an annual “checkup” for you and your company

The end of the year is always a good time to take stock of where you are personally and professionally.  This can be checking in with your personal accountant to make sure you have withheld/paid enough taxes during the year or planning for deductions to planning for large corporate expenditures on things such as upcoming projects, planned corporate initiatives or planned equipment purchases.  But the one thing that is a constant is that we all should be doing this.

In the past I have mentioned why it is good to sit down with various professionals you or your company work with just to check-in, be they attorneys, accountants, insurance professionals, financial planners, investment professionals, etc.  The list depends on you and your business.

This does not have to be a formal appointment unless you think that is appropriate depending on the nature of the planned conversation. Instead, it can be you offering to buy them lunch or a drink.  The point is the better the professionals you work with know you, the more they are able to make recommendations aimed to benefit you or your company.

So don’t wait, start making plans today to meet with these people this year, or at least first thing next year. We all are busy this time of year, but if you take these actions it will help you now and in the future.

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Why you shouldn’t put your cell phone on the table at lunch or let it kill your creativity!

Putting your phone on the table at a meal sends the wrong message whether you are dining with someone you are looking to connect or network with, or when you are with your spouse or kids. It is the equivalent of telling whoever you are with that the people who text, email or call you are potentially and likely more important than they are.  If not, why would you leave open the possibility of having your phone interrupt the conversation and meal?

And yes, I acknowledge that phones and other devices have most of us hooked. We all are addicts. You know the feeling or thought: “Yes, I just checked for new emails and texts two minutes ago, but I may have missed one…I just can’t help myself.”

It really is all of us just filling any empty time by checking our phones or other devices. In the past we would have had to do things such as think, daydream, or stare out of the car window.  Now, I have a child who is a teen and barely knows directions because his face is buried in his phone anytime he is in a car.  Observing teens and their friends leads to the conclusion that they do not know how to enjoy a moment of quiet.

I have read what others think we should do. Don’t bring your phone into a business meeting. Turn off your phone at night. Makes rules about its use at the dinner table. Don’t check work email after a certain time. Great ideas, but hard to actually do.

That is why I am trying to follow my new, self-instituted rule of not placing my phone on the table when I am dining with someone.  It may seem like a small step, but you have to start somewhere.  And as a big believer in paying attention to those you are dining with, it definitely makes sense.

If any of you have ideas or rules that work and result in better face to face communication in your offices or homes, I would like to hear about them.

 

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Why you always must be prepared

In my world preparation is everything, whether for trial, a transaction, oral argument or the first meeting with a new client.  In your world there are equivalents where you can win or lose business based on your preparation or lack thereof.

I am heading into a trial in a few weeks and am in the process of preparing. While I think my client has a great chance of success at the trial based on the facts and evidence, I know that my level of preparation can greatly affect those chances and the ultimate outcome.  My goal always is to be as prepared as possible because it not only gives me the best chance for success, but also the best chance to not miss something that can help win the day.

In this situation with the trial my preparation is compensated, but in many situations I am preparing by spending my uncompensated time.  Why?  Because the more prepared you are the better the possible outcome.  If you think you are the only one your potential client, customer, etc. is speaking with, you are being naïve.  And even if they are not talking to someone else, the confidence you instill in them because of your preparation will give you a better opportunity to reach the outcome you seek.

Plus, it can turn those people into your cheerleaders too, which never hurts.

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What is the correct way? Why you need to find what works for you.

People have opinions.  And sometimes they actually are good to hear. Really.

It can be a good idea to bounce issues, ideas, etc. off of someone, whether a mentor, colleague, spouse.  But just because they tell you what works for them, or what they think will work, the best response is “Thanks, I am going to think about that.”  The reason for this is what works for one person may not work for another.

It can be simple things.  I use Outlook’s Calendar features to keep track of meeting, deadlines and anything else.  Others in my firm or who I know swear by the Tasks function.  You say tomato, I say tomato. I think you get the picture.

At the same time, ideas or processes from others can be helpful. I always am looking to create efficiencies or do things in a more organized or better way.  It is better to always be open to new idea and thoughts, but at the end of the day you have to think for yourself.

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