Friday, July 31, 2015

Lift weights and get ahead in business

Image courtesy of tiverlylucky at

I have had a fascinating week, interviewing women for the One Red Lipstick book. 

One of the reasons we embarked on this project was that we knew instinctively that women who are successful by society’s standards, often have a story to tell.  

As women entrepreneurs, we all know that it is never plain sailing, that often there are obstacles to be overcome, but we’re really good at putting on the mask (and the red lipstick) and acting as if nothing is wrong.

Sometimes success comes with a hefty price tag when we have been so embroiled and focused in our business that we neglect our health, take our relationships for granted and are so driven that really our life is out of kilter.  

I remember years ago having a speaker who talked about just that.  In actual fact she was there to talk on a different topic, but her recent realization and wake up call of how she was missing the boat was top of mind, and that is what she focused on in her presentation.   I applaud her honesty and willingness to be vulnerable.

We take our health for granted.  It is not until we have lost our ability to do something – as simple as just getting up without pain -  that we realize how precious life and our health is.  Success takes on a different interpretation, and maybe we need to revisit what success means to us.

Certainly in the summer the pace is slower. We take time to stop and think, but why can’t we do that twelve months of the year?  I am challenging myself with the same question. When I come up with the answer, I’ll let you know.

One of the closing questions we ask the women is what advice they would give to someone starting out.  I loved the reply from my last interviewee -  “Join a gym and lift weights.”  Her rationale? You need to be physically strong to stay the course.

Maybe that’s advice that would work for all of us as we weave our way through life.  What do you think?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Is your indecisiveness holding you hostage?

I have been blogging for over ten years now.  I’ve garnered a loyal audience, but nothing like the readership I got recently when I wrote about indecision.  Clearly this is a hot topic as over 2,000 readers stopped by to read what I had to say, which leads me to ask why?

Why is it that indecision is epidemic in our culture?  My first conclusion is that perhaps we just have too many choices.  “Back in the day” we were much more limited in what we could pursue as a career, for example.  At the risk of aging myself, when I left high school, you could be a nurse, teacher or secretary, that was it.  Today the options are endless.

But I suspect the more underlying problem is fear.  Fear of making the wrong decision . Fear of making mistakes.  Fear of failure.  And maybe even fear of success. So many of us strive for perfection, even when we know deep down it doesn’t exist.  So we wait until we think it is a sure thing before we make the final decision.  But if you wait too long, it could be too late and you miss out on an exciting opportunity.

Perhaps because I am an entrepreneur, I am more comfortable with risk.  I am used to ambiguity, as it goes with the territory.  So making a decision does not paralyze me.  Right now in fact I am poised to embark on a new venture which will shake things up.  Am I nervous?  You bet.  Am I worried it will bomb? Yup.  Will I be on a steep learning curve?  Yes.  But is this going to stop me?  No.  I get excited at the potential and I am building in time to plan.  This is not something that is going to happen overnight.

For me, staying still or with the status quo is never an option.  Perhaps it should be, but I want to grow and evolve personally and professionally, and sometimes that can get messy.  I need to be prepared for the worse case scenario, but at the same time have the faith and confidence that this will work.

In my original blog I spoke about how indecision was a decision in itself.  Sometimes in order to move forward we have to choose. Perhaps as a society we have started to overthink things instead of listening to our intuition.  It does in fairness, help if you have done some self-awareness work, in that you know and understand your strengths, weaknesses and foibles.  Being in tune with your values and your “code of ethics” can also help point you in the right direction.

If you are faced with some tough decisions, ask yourself what is the worst thing that could happen if I do A or B?  Think through what you could do to soften a bad landing. But I encourage you – make a decision – move ahead.  Nothing is carved in stone. If it doesn’t work, learn from it and move on. 

Just don’t sit there, literally stuck in the mud.  Break free from the indecision that is holding you hostage.  You deserve better.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Game.Set. Match. Business lessons from Wimbledon

Photo courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti

Wimbledon is a special place for me.  It’s not just about the tennis, but I went to high school, lived and got married there.  

So the fact that my recent visit back to the UK just so happened to coincide with Wimbledon tennis, made the trip even more special.

In the past I have written about the business lessons to be gleaned from Wimbledon and this year, was no exception. 

Being loud doesn’t win you fans
My main observation this year was that more and more players are grunting their way through their game.  To the point where, frankly it became irritating and a real turn off.

Maria Sharapova, in particular, makes a noise that is reportedly over 100 decibels.  In the UK papers, viewers were saying that they put the sound on mute, so they could watch the game in peace. Not a bad idea.

One tennis player observed that the grunting distracted the opponent too, drowning out the sound of the ball, so it was impossible to judge the spin and timing.

From a business perspective, I am sure many of us can think of unhappy clients who shout and complain loudly about whatever irks them, but does that work?  I suspect not.  Just as in the tennis world, it certainly doesn’t win you any fans.

Expect the unexpected
Fortunately there wasn’t much rain this year, but when it did come, the play had to stop and for some players the interruption took them off their stride, as they waited for the roof to go up.  But as John McEnroe observed, that’s part of the game and you have to deal with it.

Just as in business, there are bound to be curve balls that come your way, and it is how prepared and ready you are to deal with them, that is key.

How you lose says much about you
As in any sport, there are winners and losers and how you accept your losses says a lot about you.  In particular I am thinking of Roger Federer.  He is such a class act.  Always professional, always the gentleman.  We could all learn from him.

David vs. Goliath
On a positive note, it was lovely to see some new and young players get through to the quarter and semi finals, especially a Canadian.  These newbies have nothing to lose, and so play some of their best tennis against the icons of the tennis world.

Likewise, as small business owners we can compete with the big guys and not let ourselves be intimidated. We have a right to be in the game, and who knows, we could just win.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Taking the scenic route

Beach at Port Erin, Isle of Man

Two weeks.  Fourteen days.  That’s how long I had without phone calls, meetings and email.  


I seem to have a love-hate relationship with my inbox.  Email is a necessary part of my life, my business, but when you switch off, which I did, you discover that life does go on, and you can focus your energies on something else – like relationships.

I do find it is only when I leave home, leave Canada that is easy to close the email door behind me when I go.   When I stay here, it is much harder to switch off.  It is all too easy to sneak off and check the iPhone, but I highly recommend taking time to switch off and leave the electronics at home.

We had a wonderful time visiting family in the UK and reconnecting with old friends on the Isle of Man.  Those windy days on the island just blew the cobwebs out and nothing beats a walk along the beach surrounded by nature at its best.

I was struck by our different worlds when we drove home from Pearson Airport.  On the one hand on the island, it was sometimes a challenge to have two cars on the same road and the same time, because in reality there was only room for one.  While at Pearson there are multiple lanes, with cars going at a fast pace to reach their destination.

I guess in one situation, it truly is about the journey and the beautiful scenery to be enjoyed, while with the other, the pleasure (hopefully) is on reaching the destination.

As I look at my bulging inbox with over 1,400 emails, I kinda wish I could delay getting back on the fast track.  So learning from my vacation, I am taking the scenic route and taking some detours, before I rev up to go on the multi-lane highway.