How to Wow Your Clients & Colleagues this Holiday!

Corporate gift-giving: it can be a tricky thing, right? During the holidays, we want to give gifts that our co-workers, bosses and clients truly want; something that they will value and that will leave them with a fond memory of you. So how do you do this?

I’ve found that some of the best corporate gifts are ones that result in a positive experience for the receiver. They can be jointly shared or given away, doesn’t matter, as long as the receiver has a great time. Not only will your colleague feel pampered, your social capital with that person will also expand. To have your colleagues, clients and co-workers feeling special this holiday season, consider these ideas:

  1. Sporting Events
    It doesn’t matter if it’s football, basketball, baseball or any other sport; offering tickets to a sporting event you know they enjoy is a classic gift experience that people love to receive. You can either attend the game with them or let them bring a spouse or a friend and enjoy the game. Either way, this gift experience is a surefire way to demonstrate thoughtfulness and extra effort.
  2. Music Concerts
    This is a great gift experience for colleagues and clients who love music. Because nobody wants to sit through an hour or two of music that they hate, it’s important that you get the genre just right.
  3. Theater, Symphony or Ballet
    For your sophisticates or thespian friends, tickets to a show, symphony or ballet is ideal, especially if it’s an in-demand show. Not sure what’s running on the local theatre scene? Seasonal favorites like the touring Rockettes or The Nutcracker are classy choices.
  4. Box Seating
    To treat multiple people, or ensure that you get to enjoy the experience together, box seats and any of the above type events sends a message of confidence, class and inclusion. If you haven’t done this before, consider renting out a box at a game, concert or play, and sharing it with your clients or corporate friends. This is a great way to mingle with multiple clients/colleagues at once while enjoying a fun gift experience at the same time.
  5. Dinner Invite
    Who doesn’t love a nice, delicious dinner? You can’t go wrong with a restaurant that has tasty food and beautiful ambiance during the holidays. If you’re short on time this holiday season, a gift card to your client’s favorite restaurant is always a great idea as well.
  6. Wine Tasting
    Spread some holiday cheer with a high-end wine tasting! Many wineries, restaurants and wine shops have holiday events that allow you to book a room so all your corporate friends can enjoy the experience together. It’s also a good idea to rent a bus or car service so that everyone gets home safely.
  7. Rent Out a Movie Theater
    Whether it’s Mary Poppins, Aquaman or a classic holiday movie, impress your clients and/or colleagues by renting out a movie theater this holiday season. These days you can serve appetizers outside your theatre and have popcorn and beverages served to your movie-going clients.
  8. Small-Group Cooking Class
    If you have clients or colleagues who love to cook, hosting up a small-group cooking class is a great idea. In the small group setting, you have the opportunity to talk, catch up with each other and learn a new recipe or two. This is a multi-sensory experience that will create wonderful memories and give you something to talk about for years.
  9. Golfing
    Some people can never have enough golf and for those individuals, consider booking a local trip to a golf resort or maybe buying tickets to a professional golf tournament. You’ll make a great impression…and maybe even get some business done.
  10. Paint & Wine Night
    Hosting an event at a paint/wine location is another great way to show thoughtfulness and creativity. With this gift-experience, an instructor guides participants through a painting while everyone sips on their favorite wine and enjoys one another’s company and artistry. Hosting tip…skip the painting and spend your time mingling with all of your guests. Take group and individual photos to commemorate the event.
  11. Weekend Getaway
    Splurge on your top clients and give them the gift of relaxation with a nice weekend getaway. You’ll want to choose a place that’s not too far away, just in case something comes up at home, but also far enough away, to make sure that it feels like a mini-vacation.

 

Whatever you decide to gift your colleagues and clients this holiday season, the most important aspect of your gift is to make sure it feels personal and specialized to that individual. And also – HAVE FUN! This time of year is about authentic giving and it’s also a great opportunity to build social capital with the people you work with. Be bold, extend some invitations and creatively enjoy the season with those you care about in ways that allow you to express yourself.

 

Happy Holidays!

5 Myths That Keep Professionals Stuck in Their Career

myths

Over the past 16 years, I’ve seen a lot of professionals buy into silly myths about what they should and shouldn’t do when it comes to their career. Backed by a mantra of good manners, served with a side of logic, it’s no surprise that so many professionals fall into the trap of believing them and operating as if they are true.

But they are not. More than that, there can be some major career downsides to believing in these myths, such as feeling stagnant in your job and never getting promoted for the positions you’ve worked so hard to get. To avoid this from happening, read through these myths and see which ones you’ve accidentally bought into; hook, line and sinker.

Myth #1: My work speaks for itself.

No matter how good of a job you do, your work is not capable of speaking and it cannot tell the world how great you are. Only you can do that. And yet, oftentimes professionals feel like if they speak up about the quality of their work, it will be a bad thing. But the truth is that there’s nothing bad about being proud of your work. In fact, taking ownership for what you’ve done shows that you care about your work and will attract like-minded individuals and opportunities your way. So don’t expect your work do the talking. Let the quality of it be the evidence that your words are true.

 

Myth #2: It’s rude to talk about your accomplishments.

Building off myth number one, people often tell me they don’t feel right talking about their strengths because it’s not “humble” or that they don’t want anyone to think that they are bragging. This is a myth! Humility means “strength harnessed,” not “strength ignored, downplayed or glossed over.” Knowing what your talents are and being able to speak about them with confidence – not arrogance – makes for an incredibly compelling presence, which people love. As long as you aren’t constantly making everything about you, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t talk about your accomplishments.

 

Myth #3: There’s nothing really unique about what I do.

Writing that elevator speech is so darn hard because deep down inside we suspect that we’re average and a little boring. Traditional school systems and work environments encourage us to be normal and follow the rules like everyone else. As a result, we’ve lost touch with what makes us great and we struggle to identify, much less articulate, what about us is so brilliant. But that negative talk stops right here! You are brilliant and it is surprisingly simple to identify your genius and start to talk about it in everyday conversations…without bragging.

 

Myth #4: Multiple job responsibilities provide security.

When we fully buy into myths one, two and three…we usually fall victim to myth numbers four and five as well. Caught in a scenario of being an outstanding service provider but a terrible self-promoter, we continue to expand our service lines to take any work roles that come our way under the pretense that it’s a strategic career move.  We’re following the rule of “not putting all our eggs in one basket.” While I do agree that being well-rounded in your job responsibilities is important, I know that oftentimes the best employees over-diversify and end up with a muddled personal brand. Don’t be afraid to specialize in your area of great talent. Specialization equals expertise and that’s what companies want: Specialized services provided by uber-talented people like you.

 

Myth #5: It’s foolish to turn down opportunities.

This is a hard one for professionals to follow. In the hopes of scoring a promotion, we oftentimes fill our schedules up with as many experiences and responsibilities as possible. But, in the end, this mentality becomes toxic to professionals who get sucked into projects, products and services that overwhelm them and disable them from building the career they originally envisioned.  Sometimes the strategic thing to do is to decline opportunities that are off target or, better yet, refer it to a trusted colleague. Allowing your career to be focused in areas of core strength will help you grow in a much faster and healthier way.

Professionals buy into these five myths because they are trying to get ahead and the rationale behind these myths seem to make sense. So, we use them to talk ourselves into making short-sighted decisions. But the more you buy into these myths, the farther away you are from achieving satisfying success.  

No executive or leader ever said to themselves, “I want to tread water in an unsatisfying job for the rest of my life!” And yet, that’s precisely what a lot of people are doing. If you find that you are in that place of treading water, stalled on a plateau or running on a hamster wheel, I have some good news. There is a better way. Talent-based personal branding is the way onto the path of prosperity and satisfaction.    

The cool part about being human is that we are all one-of-a-kind works of art, and the better you understand and OWN your “secret sauce,” the more attractive you will be to others to achieve the success you desire. Better yet, the success you DESERVE!

Now that you know these myths are all fiction, it’s time to close the book on them. Stop believing that you have something to prove and change your actions accordingly. This is where I can help. I created a very special Masterclass to help you unlock your potential and accelerate your career, it’s called The Key to Executive Success and it’s absolutely free and there’s no sales pitch at the end.  Click here to register (link).

You’ll be glad you did!  

Believe It or Not, Success and Happiness Requires a “No”

commitment

Are you the kind of person who says “yes” to things before you know if you have the time and energy for them?  If so, you’re in good company. Lots (and lots) of people make commitments they probably shouldn’t. They do it for reasons that make sense in the moment…they want to help, don’t want to be a disappointment, feel the need to prove something, FOMO (fear of missing out) or just plain old fear of saying “no,” and suffering a negative consequence. Most often, we say “yes,” with good intentions, an easily delivered commitment makes us look and feel good in the moment. Yet what if it really does the opposite? What if I told you that your freely given “yes,” might actually be the thing standing in the way of your own personal success?

A “yes” is a promise – and overpromising can have negative consequences throughout your life, including limiting your career. Nobody wants to disappoint others, yet trying to do everything asked of you and please all your stakeholders all the time will lead to burnout and mediocrity. Overcommitment can also lead to deeply rooted feelings of insecurity, resent, stress and insufficiency.

Improper commitment has negative consequences. I’ve highlighted just a few examples below, yet the list is really limitless…

  • A “yes” to the wrong thing…
    • Steals time away from doing the right things.
    • Takes more energy for you to complete.
    • Creates stress and frustration.
  • A “yes” for the wrong reason can…
    • Lead to resentment that can interfere with a healthy relationship.
    • Create a situation which highlights a weakness.
    • Leave you with unmet expectations.
  • Too many “yesses” at work and…
    • Label you as tactical, not strategic – limits advancement.
    • Not enough time for self, family and friends – creates guilt, isolation and stress.
    • No ability to focus – making it difficult to deliver your commitments on time, target and budget.
    • You let people down – building a reputation as nice, yet unreliable.

Time is a resource we say we value, yet give away without regard. Let’s change that. When you begin making commitments with real consideration for all of the implications, a lot of positive things begin to happen for you. You FEEL better about your commitments, you spend more time doing the things you actually WANT to do, you have ENERGY for your tasks, you have TIME to think, your family and friends get a BETTER, less frazzled slice of your time. Over time, a steady habit of healthy promises gives your career a competitive edge, too. You become more personally confident and trustworthy to others. People trust you for important things and you become a trusted advisor to your boss, team members, clients and team.

Commitment is a good and healthy thing, you simply want to focus your commitments on the ideal activities, events and people. So the key becomes knowing what to say yes to and how to say no when you have to…or want to.

Determining what to say “no” to is the most important step. First and foremost, always give yourself time to reflect before making a commitment. It can be five minutes, five hours or five days depending on the size of the request – just build a habit of giving yourself space from the requestor – literally get out of their presence so you can process the request and respond optimally. Build up a repertoire of phrases like these:

  • Neutral –  “Let me think through that for a minute and I’ll let you know if I can commit.”
  • Positive lean – “I’d like to do that, give me time to double check my commitments and I’ll confirm whether I can or not by…X time.”
  • Negative lean – “I believe I am already booked, however let me double check my commitments and see if I can help.”

Getting clear on what constitutes an ideal “yes” may take some time at first, yet it really isn’t hard. Even better, it’s kind of fun to think of what you will say “no” to. I am a reformed over-committer, and when I started building up a better habit; I was at a point where I didn’t have a whole lot of options – and with that kind of “permission,” making the choices were really easy. About five years ago I received a cancer diagnosis and I knew immediately that a.) it was a yellow light, not a red one. And b.) I needed to make some strategic choices – fast.  As a business owner and coach, I literally couldn’t afford to take months off to get healthy. Instead, I had to genuinely value my time and make the most of it so that I could attend my responsibilities AND get healthy. It took me about 30 minutes to decide what (and who) stayed and what went. I graduated clients who didn’t need me anymore, I cluster booked the rest so that I only worked alternating weeks, I reduced all non-essential commitments and I created time for family, friends and health. As I made these changes, I wrote out the pros and cons of the decisions and made each into a permission slip – I called them my Pink Permission Slips – the things I wanted to do and the things I didn’t.  Here’s the wonderful thing: I went about executing my changes and no one pushed back, no one even asked why I was no longer as flexible or available as I once was and no one knew I had cancer.  This was a powerful lesson for me; I thought I would need to play the “cancer card,” but I didn’t.  So I am passing this jewel on to you that you may shine brightly doing the things you love — you don’t need to have cancer or be ill in order to make value-oriented decisions about your time.

“All you need is to decide what to do with the time that is given to you.” Gandalf, LOTR.

Change Your Mind, Change Your Life: The Power of Positive Affirmations

positive affirmations

Do you remember Casey Junior, from Disney’s Dumbo? In the movie, the steam train takes Dumbo and the rest of the circus around the country, and during their travels, Casey has to hike up a steep hill. As he does it, he tells himself, “I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!” By telling himself what he thought was possible… he successfully completes his journey. While the “raw material” was always present, there was doubt about whether he could or couldn’t get the job done. Casey’s positive thoughts were the driving force behind him making it up the hill.

The same can be said about you and me.

What you say to yourself has a huge impact on your life. If you’re feeding your mind negative thoughts, those negative thoughts will turn into negative actions. And just like Casey Junior, the same can be said about positive thoughts turning into positive results.

Positive Affirmations vs. Negative Affirmations
An affirmation is whatever we tell ourselves and believe to be true. Affirm has a naturally positive connotation, however, affirmations can be quite negative and we have to be careful about what we allow ourselves to believe. Positive affirmations include phrases such as, “I am powerful,” “I have courage,” and “I attract positivity.” Negative affirmations sound like, “I don’t think I can,” “I’m not ________,” “I’ll probably blow it,” “Its soooo hard,” etc. Sadly, it’s much more common for people to drown themselves in negative affirmations such as, “I am not strong enough” or “I don’t deserve this,” than positive ones like, “I TOTALLY deserve this!” or “It’s going to happen.”

Now is the time to change that. Here’s why: the law of attraction says that we draw to us what we give out. In his book, “Think and Grow Rich,” Napoleon Hill says, “I realize that the dominating thoughts of my mind will eventually reproduce themselves in outward, physical action and gradually transform themselves into physical reality.” This means that positive thoughts attract positive experiences and negative thoughts attract negative experiences. So if you’re looking to attract the right opportunities, you have to start pumping yourself with the mantra that you are worthy of those opportunities and that you believe in yourself and your personal leadership brand.

Positive affirmations have also been proven to reduce stress and increase your creativity and problem-solving abilities. They make you happier! Personally, I use them all the time and have been amazed at the results. When I was unsure if I could complete a marathon, I practiced watching myself cross the finish line and on the day of my first one; even with a knee injury, I finished with no problem.  When I wanted to become a public speaker, I began visualizing myself on stage and letting others know that’s what I wanted to do and sure enough, a short period of time later, I began receiving invitations to speak. The point is that positive affirmations not only make you feel better, they also bring more positive things into your life.

Changing Negative Thoughts into Positive Ones
You might be thinking, “Changing my thoughts into positive ones isn’t so easy!” That can be true depending on how you go about it. If you tell yourself not to think a certain thought, chance are it’s going to show up constantly – negative affirmation. Instead, think of and even write down the thoughts you DO want running through your brain.

When the negative pattern starts (and it will) don’t try to avoid it. Simply change the direction of your thought and hit ‘play’ on the tape you INTEND to listen to. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. Here’s an example: if I tell you to NOT think about a yellow balloon, the first thing you’ll picture is a yellow balloon. If I tell you to think about a pink elephant, your mind just as easily goes to the pink elephant – shifting away from the yellow balloon you’re trying to – and now successfully – avoiding.

The same logic can be applied to thoughts about yourself. If you’re about to go in for a job review, tell yourself, “I am capable and make great decisions.” Instead of, “I wonder if I’m fully qualified for this job.”

You’re human so you’re going to have negative self-thoughts, guaranteed. That’s okay, healthy even! Observe yourself having the thought, acknowledge it then shift to a positive affirmation and keep repeating and visualizing that positive thought. Here’s a little bonus – we can only think of one thing at a time, so when you think of something positive, keep repeating that and soon enough, the negative thoughts lose their power.

If you find yourself struggling; be your own best friend. Talk to yourself the way you would talk to your best friend when you were trying to help them feel confident. Would you put down your best friend on a regular basis and tell them they’re not good enough? Probably not. So stop beating yourself up and start pumping yourself up.

Positive Affirmation Examples
To help get you started, below I’ve included positive affirmations you can apply to various areas of your life:

Building Confidence:

  1. I trust myself.
  2. I am valuable.
  3. I love my talents.
  4. I make great decisions.
  5. Solutions come easily to me.
  6. I am successful.
  7. I am a quick learner.

 

Eliminating Stress:

  1. I have nothing to prove.
  2. I am centered.
  3. Everything is as it should be.
  4. I have all the time I need to do what I need to do.
  5. I finish my projects with ease.
  6. I am focused and at peace.
  7. I feel the pressure leaving me.

 

Improving Your Health:

  1. I prioritize my health.
  2. I make good food and fitness choices
  3. I am healthy and strong.  
  4. I love my life.
  5. I love my body.
  6. I am grateful for my genetics.
  7. I am a role model of balance.

 

Ways to Integrate Positive Affirmation into Your Life

There are a variety of ways you can put positive affirmations to work. Depending on how you learn best, here are a few great practices:

  1. Visual Learners: Post your affirmations in places where you can see them. Post-it notes, dry erase boards, vision boards, mantra bands…there’s a million places to post your affirmations to keep them top of mind.
  2. Auditory Learners: Record your affirmations and listen to them when you’re driving, exercising, getting up and/or going to bed. This is a FABULOUS fast-track way to help yourself bring out the best in YOU!
  3. Kinesthetic Learners: Write your affirmations over and over again.
  4. Combination Learners: Practice two, or all three of these methods.

I encourage you to spend time on your affirmations for a few minutes every morning and evening. Just 5-10 minutes a day in a relaxed and positive state will bring about powerful shifts and a harvest of good results in your life. When you change the way you speak to yourself, you can change your entire world. And there’s no better time than the present to begin replacing negative affirmations with positive ones. The holidays are officially here and everyone will benefit from your good cheer.

If you want help focusing your affirmations or building up a strong habit, I’m here for you. Just click here to schedule a complimentary strategy session with me and we will work out a personal affirmation plan to help you achieve your goals for 2019 and beyond.