What does it mean to be a connector?

EndocrineWhile I didn’t realize it at the time, I began my career as a connector when I started working as the managing editor for international peer-review medical journal, Endocrine. In order for scientific discovery to move forward, scientists perform experiments, write up the results which they submit to a peer-review journal so that other people in the same field of study can review their work.

Before the dawn of the electronic age, the manuscripts were sent to three reviewers; once email and Word docs became the norm, the manuscript was often sent to five or even six reviewers. The importance of delivering timely results to the authors was one of our main goals. The reviewers review on a variety of criteria: thoroughness of the study, accuracy. and they make recommendations.

The goals were these: Deliver quick feedback (2 weeks) to the authors from a panel of experts in the field.

It was my job to identify appropriate reviewers for each of the manuscripts that was submitted to the publication. If a clinical thyroid study was submitted, who should see that? Who would be a good fit? The peer reviewer needed to not only be knowledgable about the topic, but he probably wrote articles that were referenced in the manuscript. That being said, the two should never have collaborated on a project or even worked in the same lab.

So you had to know the basics, areas of expertise, as well as peripheral knowledge about the individuals. Who would make a good fit?

Fast forward to today. Whenever I meet anyone I always think, whom should this person meet? Who would benefit from knowing this person? Who do I know that this person could help?

You Have a Social Media Program

social mediaYou have a social media program whether you know it or not: People are talking about you. And they’re probably doing it online whether you’re there or not.

They’re talking about your products. They’re talking about your services. They’re talking about your customer service.

Your competition is most definitely talking. They may even be listening.

So what are you so afraid of?

Doing It Right: Faryl Robin

Faryl RobinThe most gorgeous pair of shoes in my closet are this pair by Faryl Robin. Equally amazing is the story of how I got them. It was my first experience with excellent customer service on Twitter.

The year was 2008. My daughter found the shoes on the Anthropologie website. They were marked down, priced to sell, so I immediately ordered a pair. Sadly, the site was out of her size, 11.

On a whim I did a search and discovered that Faryl Morse herself, CEO and creative director at Faryl Robin was on Twitter. So I took a chance and sent her a tweet. To my great surprise she responded that I should message her assistant so that they could track down the shoes for my daughter. To make a long story short, they found a pair of 11s, and they’re now in my daughter’s closet.

I never wear my Faryl Robins but that I recall this story and the kindness and attentiveness of Faryl and her staff. The fondness I feel spills over to the entire brand. This is what is known as #DoingItRight

I resolve to…

Close up , colorful pushpins on calendar

Close up , colorful pushpins on calendar

Several years ago I was looking back, and I had an overall tinge of regret, sensing that I spent too much time reclining in the sidelines and not enough time balls-to-the wall embracing my life.

Sidelined by kids’ schedules, work schedules, the limits of one car for a household of three drivers and the limits of my own mind.

This made me uncomfortable. I resolved to do something else. Or eat something else. Or shop for something else.

It seems I was always waiting for the perfect timing…for school to start so I could regain my infamous fall focus; for summer to arrive to spend time with family; for the Christmas holiday so I could regroup and refocus.

So when do I actually jump up, jump in and take action? The time is now. Everything I will do in my life I do now. I have no more excuses. Now is the time to read more exceptional books. To spend time with people who kick my ass and make me better. To watch less mind-numbing TV. To move more. To love more. To be more.

Now is the time to step off the sidelines and into the action.

 

To throw myself into relationships, projects and work with reckless abandon.

To embrace my choices because, let’s face it, how I live my life is my choice. I choose each moment of every day what my life will look like. I acknowledge it and either embrace it or change course. No excuses.

What’s the most important thing I need to do today?

Your clients don’t care

happyYour clients don’t care if…

…you’re having a bad day.

…you don’t feel well.

…your car breaks down.

…your computer is acting up.

…you don’t feel like working.

Your clients hired you to do a job. They only care about the outcome. Do the job you said you would do in the timeframe you said you’d do it. 

Don’t complain. Don’t make excuses. You signed up for this.

Shake off everything else and hunker down and get it done.

No excuses.

When is the best time to take a break?

ChineseWhen should you take a break from work? Most people assume weekends and evenings are the best time to take time off, but I’m not convinced. I’d like to suggest that everyone is different, and that’s O.K. Actually, it’s more than O.K.

My son’s schedule is such that he has Sundays and Thursdays off which means that if I want to spend time with him, I take half a day on Thursday, and we hang out. A couple of weeks ago we spent several hours exploring the tranquility of the Chinese Garden, eating ramen and visiting kitties at LexiDog before stopping for ice cream. During our leisurely wanderings we happened upon a tribute to Robin Williams which inspired us both.

My point is you have to take the time when it presents itself. The “off” times are also often the least busy. It’s like grocery shopping on a Wednesday morning instead of a Saturday. Right?

There’s also something to be said for a person’s own preferences. Some of us are night owls; others thrive when we accomplish the bulk of our work before 10:00 a.m. Don’t fight it. Work with your natural proclivities instead of against them. It’s called flow.

I’m much more productive when I’m working in a state of flow. Ideas come easily. I process and make connections quickly. I get much more accomplished when I work steadily on a project every day, a bit at a time, than if I slam it out when faced with a short deadline. Bonus: the outcome is a superior project.

What works best for you?

How do you know if your clients are happy?

imagesThe answer is pretty easy, really. Ask them.

A lot of business owners, freelancers, executives and consultants make the mistake of assuming that if they don’t hear anything to the contrary, that people they are working with are happy with the status quo. That’s not necessarily true.

People don’t speak up for many reasons:

  • Fear. What if they don’t like the answer they hear? What if {fill in the blank}.
  • Time. They are so overworked that they don’t have the time to pause and consider how they’re doing, how they feel about their work or even how effective they are or what they could do to improve.
  • Unrealistic expectations. They expect that the other person will make the first move.

Here’s what I say: Be proactive. Take the time. Ask the difficult questions. What’s the worst thing that can happen here? You get fired? O.K. so that could happen, but chances are it won’t.

Most of the time when I step up and ask, “How’s it going?” the gesture itself builds goodwill and trust, no matter the outcome.

Take a break

quitEveryone needs a break. When we do the same things day in and day out we begin to run on autopilot. Creativity and inspiration go out the window. Just getting your work done becomes more important than doing great work.

Show of hands. Who’s been there? {raises hand}

I don’t care what you’re doing. Stop it. For 24 hours. For 48 hours. For a week if you are able. When you return you’ll find that you see things with fresh eyes, that you’ll approach your work differently.

Your clients, your partner and yourself will thank you.

 

No explanation needed

jumpDon’t be deceived into thinking that you owe anyone an explanation for anything you choose to do or not do. Not even yourself.

You don’t have to give anyone a reason for anything you do. I don’t care who they are.

Most of the time it seems like I make decision based on facts, logic or circumstances that point towards a local choice. Other times I don’t know why but I just feel that I should do something. I say just as if the feeling itself isn’t enough. When I’m at my best I go with that feeling.

You don’t have to be able to prove it or justify it or have a reason or rationale. Just because you feel it is enough. Trust your instincts and make a decision. The reasons may come later. Or they may not. But trust yourself enough to know that in that moment you made the right decision.

We make a mistake when we think that we have to justify our decisions. People ask, and we make up a excuse or come up with some bull shit skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.

Have the courage to let the decision exist on its own.

But we can’t do that until it’s enough on its own for us. Only then can it be enough for someone else.

 

Find a mastermind group already

masterI take time to mastermind with a variety of people at least once a month. They work best when each member of the group has the ability to be vulnerable and is a genuine contributor to the group. Maybe you’re not all at the same level, but you bring value to the group.

Every small business owner should participate in a mastermind group. Here’s why:

  • What did Dr. Seuss say? Two heads are wiser than one.
  • It’s amazing what a fresh perspective can do for you. My friend Andy says, “You can’t see the label from inside the jar.”
  • You’ll find that what’s often most surprising is what you knew all along. Sometimes all it take is saying something out loud to work through it.

The best format I’ve used to in a mastermind meeting is one borrowed from someone else. The group maintains a Google doc where each person tracks (and then discusses the following:

  • What is inspiring them
  • What they’re working on
  • What they need help with

The advantage of the Google doc is that you can track your thoughts in between meetings, and other participants can even jot down suggestions or notes if they’d like.

Do you belong to a mastermind group? If not, why not?