Monday, July 14, 2008

Working Successfully With Kids at Home!

Working while kids are home during the summer months can be a challenge and if you are like me and have agreed to take on extras then the challenge is even more daunting. It occurred to me while I was up late last night completing the umpteenth load of laundry, that I should write a little bit about how to stay organized enough in summer to continue to be successful in your business ventures, whatever they may be.

I homeschool my two children year round so I am used to kids being around and mine are older now, though I have worked from home all their growing up years, but currently it is easier because they are old enough to take care of themselves for the most part. Something in my make up made it necessary to help out family and friends and so I agreed to take on 4 nieces and nephews for two weeks in addition to my own kids. Don't get me wrong here, I really adore these kids and I know we are going to have a great time, but it is not easy to pull this off and still maintain a work atmosphere.

Even though I have worked through all of my kids stages suddenly adding in 4 more kids ranging in age from 7-14 is a challenge in any one's book and working at home only makes that balance more tricky! My two are 16 & 18 and know the program, but adding all these extra kids in somehow throws them off too. For me the answer to success is organization. We have a schedule that we stick to religiously for meals and activities and everyone has jobs that they are assigned to so that I still have my work time. That being said, I have a lot more work than usual with them here, so I have had to give up some of the things I usually like to do in order for this to work. It is really all about organization and trade offs. I chose to have them here so I give up my free time to take care of and spend time with them.

In order to successfully have 6 kids in a home without chaos, however, we really have to work together as a team. Every morning at breakfast I go over the plan for the day and let everyone know what meal they are helping with and what jobs they are responsible for. Everyone is always responsible for their own clothing and sleep area in addition to the jobs to help the household as a whole run smoothly.

I have simple consequences for actions. My philosophy is that every action has a consequence. Whether its a good consequence or a negative consequence. Once kids have felt consequences a few times they will respond accordingly. These kids have not had any consistency so they have tested my limits just to see if there will be consequences and follow through. Once they realize that I mean what I say and they cannot get me upset they settle in and we can have fun together. The first couple of days is a little rocky and then after that it gets much smoother.

So whether you are having extras around off and on through the summer or whether you are just trying to survive the onslaught of your own offspring your best defense is a good schedule so that everyone knows what to expect. Your work time can survive the summer with persistence and consistency.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

8 Tips For Becoming a True Leader

This article was written by Jeff Wuorio and not myself, but I wanted to share it because it had many good points I thought you might find useful. Please feel free to comment.

On the surface, the difference between a step and a stumble seems obvious.

But in business, plotting long and hard to climb into a leadership role often is indistinguishable from inadvertently falling into one. The fact is, whether you take a deliberate step toward an objective or immediately trip on a shoelace, you may end up in the same spot. Put another way, many people who have a laser focus on getting to the top make it there no faster than those who have a leadership opportunity thrust upon them.

Yet knowing the difference between thoughtful business leadership and the kind that happens seemingly by accident is critical — not only in your ability to grow and develop as a leader, but to establish a pattern of success that's deliberate, not miraculous.

Here, then, are eight attributes that separate genuine leadership from leadership that's more a matter of chance:

1. Real leadership means leading yourself. Passing out orders is as easy as passing out business cards. But a prudent leader also knows how to lead himself or herself — not merely to provide a genuine example to others, but to become a working element of the overall machinery of your business. "It's important that leaders have the ability to focus and motivate themselves as they motivate others," says Larraine Segil, an author and consultant who teaches executive education at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

2. Don't be a monarch. Thoughtful leadership likely means you already have a talented work force in place. That's terrific. But be careful not set up a throne room in the process. Accidental leaders often inadvertently establish a system of guidance that's unnecessarily restrictive. Guide employees, but don't implement more parameters than are absolutely necessary. "It's important to influence the people with whom you work," says Segil. "Don't see your business as a hierarchy."

3. Be open to new ways of doing things. One potential land mine of a prosperous operation is to repeat anything that proves successful. It's hard to argue against that, but an inadvertent leader will put far too much stock in sticking with what always works. By contrast, thoughtful leadership acknowledges success but also recognizes there are always ways to do things better.

4. Remember that white males are fast becoming a minority. Statistics show that white males now make up only a small fraction of the workplace population. Couple that with growing partnerships across borders, and it becomes obvious that blending a variety of cultures and backgrounds in a work environment is an essential leadership skill. A thoughtless leader will try to cope with this as best as he can. One with more vision will work to take advantage of differences. "Competition — the constant push for faster, better, cheaper — mandates that we learn to effectively deal with differences in the workplace," says career consultant Susan Eckert of Advance Career and Professional Development in Brightwaters, N.Y. A company that weaves an appreciation of diversity into its cultural fabric will make itself "unbeatable," Eckert says.

5. Establish a genuine sense of commitment. I must admit this is a personal sore point with me. I've seen too many company slogans and catch phrases whose import is no deeper than the paper they're written on. Want to be "committed to superior service"? More power to you, but a genuine leader will see that as words and little else. Instead, put some meat on those bones — establish how to quantify excellence, design a cogent plan to achieve it and set a reasonable but real timetable for its completion.

6. Finish the job. Many business leaders yak about their complete game, but how many actually finish what they say they're going to start? A thoughtless leader who never genuinely finishes anything loses the confidence of clients and customers. That lack of follow-through isn't going to be lost on his or her employees, either. Instead, set goals and establish pragmatic, accountable measures to actually finish what you start. "The ability to complete things is critical," Segil says. "Nothing's useful unless you actually complete it."

7. Show genuine appreciation. Thoughtless leaders must have forearms like Popeye's, what with all the back-slapping they do. That's fine, but good performance requires a more substantive response. Leaders with an eye to the future hand out praise but augment it with real rewards: promotions, raises, bonuses and other tangible tokens of appreciation. That motivates your people, not only to apply themselves with enthusiasm but to stick around your company longer than they might otherwise.

8. Know that leadership skills come from learning, too. Far too may business executives believe leadership skills stem from some sort of wondrous epiphany or other such flash of insight. Sure, great ideas can come to any of us, but being a bona fide leader also means study. Read books on effective leadership, attend seminars and pick the brains of colleagues to see what works for them. It can be a long education, but one with rewards that multiply with the more knowledge you have under your belt.

By Jeff Wuorio - Microsoft Small Business Center
Jeff Wuorio is a veteran freelance writer and author based in southern Maine. He writes about small-business management, marketing and technology issues.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Six Secrets to Amazing Growth

You created or found a business that you can work with and you are set up for success, but what is the key to that success? Where does that growth come from? What is expected from you to make this happen?

Everyone dreams of bigger and better things. Everyone wants to be successful and make good money. Nearly everyone dreams of being financially free, but few are willing to do what it really takes to make a long term success in working for yourself from home.

Growth is multiplying your talents and efforts to make money for yourself and others if you are in a business where wealth is shared such as network marketing, or MLM. The first and second secrets to amazing growth are giving the people you work with a chance to contribute their knowledge and then allowing them to help in training others so that you are not doing it all yourself. Trust that they may have an area of expertise and be willing to learn from them. It is a big mistake to assume you know it all and try and do it all yourself. Train your team well, learn from them, and then allow them to help shoulder the responsibilities of training the new people as the team grows. Learn to push your team out of their comfort zone so that they continue to grow as well. The idea that many hands make light work is still true even when working from home with a team that mostly meets over the phone and internet. This technique of time management will allow you to have more time to do the things you need to do to continue to grow.

The third secret to amazing growth is learning to give up things. No one really wants to make sacrifices, but in the big picture you may actually have to give up something you really enjoy so that you can be successful. If you need some extra time to build your business so that you can have more time later you may have to cut out some of those leisure activities that you hold dear. You may have to cut out movies, TV or even reading a favorite book, though you should always be reading a personal growth book of some kind even if its just for a few minutes a day. At any rate, being willing to give up something is important. If you are not willing to give something up to get where you are going your success may be limited.

Realizing that it does not all happen at once is another factor in amazing growth. You can grow very fast in some cases, but patience is important. While it is true that you are in control of your success and growth, you must also be patient and learn that sometimes growth takes time and building a solid foundation is important. So the fourth secret to amazing growth is patience. If you start small and build your business solidly, success and growth will come to you.

Your creativity is the fifth secret to amazing growth. You should use the tools available to you and avoid re-inventing the wheel as they say, but when you have a great idea that you know will do amazing things for your growth and your team, don't be afraid to step up and use it. Your creativity is what will drive your success and your team to new levels.

The last secret to amazing growth is personal to each of you because it is your relationship to God. This is highly personal and varies with each one of us, but I firmly believe that my success is directly connected to my God and my relationship with Him! Do not neglect the most important relationships when you are building your business and amazing growth will surely be right around the corner for you.

When people remember you and what you accomplished in your life what will they say? What do you want them to say? When you think of what you hope people will remember about you the most then you know how you want to live your life. You should focus on that and move in that direction daily. Remember tomorrow is never guaranteed. Don't wait until it is too late to make a difference. Make a difference every day and you will find that you can't stop the growth that is coming to your business.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Change That Works!

Change seems to be that ever feared thing in life and in business. It seems like we just get the hang of something and it changes. Those who accept change quickly and even learn to see it coming in advance and be set up to flow with it will be the ones who have the greatest success.

Change is unavoidable. It is something that will happen every day of our lives and there is nothing we can do about it. There will always be those who will see change as a bad thing and stick with the old methods just because they worked. The old "if its not broken don't fix it" mentality does not work when it comes to business. The main reason people resist change is because it causes fear. The results of this change are unknown. If you are one of those people who resist change you will need to learn that change is constant and you will have to learn not to resist it if you want to be successful.

For those who can accept and even anticipate change success is easier to achieve. Be the one who looks for new and better ways to do things. Be the one to introduce the change sometimes. Change should always be viewed as a positive thing. Ask yourself, "How can this benefit me?" "How can this benefit my income?" Use the change to improve yourself and your business. Change is an opportunity to grow. Growth should occur daily as we continually learn.

Education is the best way to see change coming and be ready to be on the cutting edge. You should be learning and growing every day. If you don't have a book you are currently reading and a list of books you want to read along with an audio course or something similar that you are working on, you are not learning and growing. You are cheating yourself and your business. To be successful you should be learning something every day. You should be searching constantly for the next book or audio that will put you in line to be one of the first to support a new idea, product or concept. In the world of computers it seems that changes occur almost every minute so keeping yourself up to date on the new technology is beneficial to your growth as well.

Even when a change does not work out the way it was meant to, you can gain benefit from it by learning from the situation. Embrace change and see it as a positive motivator you will reap great benefits in your business and in life.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Top 7 Things Great Leaders Do

Leaders inspire people to be like them. Leaders win followers by example. Leaders create teams and take responsibility. Leaders are not people who pass the buck.

Leaders all have different qualities but there are at least 7 qualities that are common to all leaders. If you want to be someone that people look up to and trust you can develop these qualities in yourself to strengthen your team and your business.

The first trait that all leaders share is that they are continually learning. Leaders never assume they have arrived and that they know it all. They are always learning and asking questions and growing. The more they learn the more they realize they don't know so they continue seeking more knowledge. Leaders are never threatened by those around them who may have more knowledge in an area. Leaders will place those people strategically to make the most of their knowledge and help each individual reach their highest potential.

Leaders are people who serve others, in business, in the community and in their families. You will see them reaching out and getting involved in things that matter most. They will serve those around them and always do what is best for the group as a whole. Leaders are not afraid to dig in with the group and do any part of the job that needs doing. They are not "too big" to do the small things.

The third trait of a great leader is their positive attitude. They will see each problem as something to be learned from. They will meet each challenge with energy and the knowledge that they will make this into something positive and successful. Even if they are feeling a bit down true leaders will exhibit a positive attitude to those around them. Just the positive energy goes a long way toward success.

Leaders always believe in those around them. In addition to getting to know people well enough to place them in the right positions for their maximum benefit, leaders also encourage people to go beyond their comfort zone and grow and be the best they can be every day. Leaders never let others decide for them how they will react to a person or situation. They assess each situation for themselves and honestly encourage each person to fulfill their potential. Leaders work smart but utilizing everyone's potential.

The fifth trait of a great leader is that they are balanced people in every area of their lives. They are not work-a-holics, nor do they shirk their duty off on others. They have a good sense of humor and can laugh at themselves. They know their own worth but they have no need to brag about it. Their response to each situation is balanced because they do not make decisions based on half the information. They make decisions based on all the information available. Great leaders are honest and accept responsibility and blame without excuses. Leaders see themselves responsible a great majority of the time because they are responsible for the group. They are not afraid to let people take them blame, but they are willing to share the blame when it's warranted. Leaders are also not afraid to take disciplinary action if needed.
Leaders are very creative people who see life as an adventure and each new challenge as something to look forward to with eagerness. Leaders are secure with themselves. They don’t need anything from outside themselves because they know they did their best every time. Leaders get involved. Leaders do not avoid people but rather they get involved with people and learn about them so that they can learn from the successes and failures of the past. Leaders are also flexible, not only accepting change, but anticipating it as well.

The seventh trait of a great leader is that in addition to being balanced and not fanatical about any one thing, they also feed every part of their being. They focus daily on that physical, mental, spiritual and emotional part of their lives. Someone who lives on coffee or soda to keep them going may be a leader for a while but the stress will get to them and they will crack. A true leader in conscious of their health on a daily basis and will renew every area of their lives to maintain that balance and be able to lead and give back to those around them.

Great leaders with strong characters may exhibit other traits than the ones mentioned here as each is individual, but long term successful leaders will exhibit each of the seven traits I have discussed here as well. You can develop these traits if you do not already possess them. Concentrate on developing new habits until you possess each of these traits and you will become someone that others want to be like and want to be around. You will become the example.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Goals For Life!

Achieving goals is easy if you know how to set them and make the commitment to achieve them. Goal setting and commitment is your road map to success.

Achieving goals takes a sincere desire and commitment. Commitment is the most important ingredient short of setting the goals themselves. Without a written set of goals it is easy just to float along wherever life may lead. When goals are written down it makes them more real and they are taken more seriously. Commit to do what it takes to make each goal a reality. This should not be like the New Year's goals everyone sets and then forgets. These should be written out and reviewed regularly to be sure you are on track for success.

Goals should be very specific, realistic and measurable. A specific, realistic and measurable goal would be: Loose 15 lbs by June 2008. It is specific as to what needs to be done, it is realistic because the weight that needs to be lost can be broken down to a realistic amount each week, and it is measurable because there is a specific date that it will be completed. Never be afraid to challenge yourself with your goals. The sky is the limit; so set those goals and go for it. Goals should be based on your values. Your values are who you are and your goals should match those values.

Short term and long term goals are important to keep you focused on the big picture. Each action in the day should lead closer to the goals that are set. Break down goals into actions for each day, each week and each month so that you know what needs to be done to reach a goal. It is not good enough to say that you want to have a Masters Degree in Psychology by June of 2010. That goal will need to be broken down into steps that include getting information on Colleges and Universities, checking into financial aid and deciding whether you will attend in person or do the classes online etc. All of the steps can be broken down to make this an attainable goal.

Every goal should be regularly re-evaluated and updated. Don't be so set in your ways that you continue to push toward a goal that no longer benefits you. Goals can change as your life changes, just be sure you are changing them for the right reasons and not because you are just too lazy to do what it takes to get there. Anyone can do anything if they want it badly enough. Without goals and the commitment to achieve those goals your life will be off track. This is your road map for life. It is true you may eventually get where you are going but without a clear picture of where and when, it may take years longer than it would have with a clear written set of goals.

Value yourself enough to be successful and have the courage to plan for that success each day. There will always be excuses you can use. Maybe you don't have enough time, enough money or enough education. The bottom line is that all those excuses are just that – excuses! There is always a way to solve any issue or even turn it into an advantage if you want it bad enough. Taking the time today to set your goals and make a commitment to them will make a difference in your life for years to come! Take that step and make your dreams into reality today.

Monday, March 17, 2008

What Makes Successful People Special?

Have you ever wondered what the successful people have that you are lacking? Is it money? Is it time? Do you really have to have money to make money or be successful? These are all questions I used to ask myself until I discovered what it really takes to make the grade.

I am successful. You can be successful. I can do anything I want to do and anything I can dream of. You can do anything you want to do and anything you dream of. Now that being said, not everyone is cut out to work from home successfully. You can do it just like I do, but you have to want it more each day and you have to stick to it like gum sticks to the bottom of your shoe! Never let go of your dream to be at home and to succeed.

Sometimes getting to success is painful. It requires change at some point. The phrase, "If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten." is very true. If you are not successful doing what you are currently doing then change is necessary and that may require some reflection on yourself and you may discover some painful truths. If you are strong enough to handle what comes from looking closely at yourself you will be successful!

Never imagine that you have arrived. You should be constantly changing and growing. What worked for you last year may not work this year, and what works for you today may not even work tomorrow. Be learning and growing daily. If someone asks you what you are currently reading or studying you should be able to share with confidence your latest find.

Habits are very powerful factors in our success. Maybe you procrastinate, or are critical of others. If you have habits that are not helping you toward success it is time to change them! Pick one habit and start with that one. For 30 days, focus on changing that one habit to a habit that will be productive and lead you toward success. You can develop new habits that will launch you toward your goals. You are not stuck just because this is the way you have always done things. If you want new results you need to take new actions.

To be truly successful you will also have to be productive. If you are working from home but spending much of your day surfing the internet or on the phone talking about working rather than working you are not being productive. You may feel like you spent your day working, but unless you are getting results from your actions, those actions are wasted.

This is not meant to be discouraging, but simply to point out that you can be just as successful as anyone else, but you have to be willing to do what they did to get there. So the questions to ask yourself are: "Am I willing to do whatever it takes to be successful, even if it is personally painful?" "Have I done something to better myself today?" "Have I looked carefully at myself and found one habit to work on changing?" "Have I been productive today or have I just been busy?" "If I was my boss would I pay me for today?" If you can honestly say that you are willing to change no matter how painful it is personally, you have done something to educate yourself each day, you have focused on changing one habit into something positive and you have been productive today then you are successful and you will be reaping the results for a long time to come.

Several years back when my kids were creeping up on the teen years and I started hearing more and more excuses for why things were not done I realized that we all tend to make excuses for ourselves. They can be real and legitimate excuses sometimes, but they are all just excuses if we are not doing what must be done to get where we want to go. My main email address starts out with noexcuses. This reminds me every time I send an email that I should be focusing on what is important because excuses just won't get me there!

Old habits can be very hard to break but if you are serious about being successful you will take the necessary steps to break away from those old habits and make new lasting habits for success. Will you make excuses or will you do what it takes? Join me today in committing to a long and successful journey in working at home and finding success and fulfillment every day. No excuses will do!