My Scary Drive Through The US Border

tom-cruise-top-gun

Our border guard allegedly looked like Tom Cruise with his shades and uniform

Just in time for Halloween, I can tell you what I learned about fear during my first scary drive through the US Border this week. Fear is fear people, and here’s how to apply those lessons to your small biz.

Be Scared But Do It Anyway

My coach says that only 5% of people in the whole world achieve their potential because 95% of people aren’t willing to do things that the 5% is. Doing things that scare you would rate right up there with things most people aren’t willing to do. So here I was, a 44 year old world traveler, 6 figure business owner, mother and wife, afraid to drive by myself to the US because I get lost a lot. It’s strange to understand, but there it was, my fear of getting lost on the roads of Rochester. I decided to do it anyway because there was going to be tremendous value in the 3 day retreat to grow my business. I knew I had to bite the bullet and just do it. What are you afraid to do for your small biz that you know you just have to bite the bullet to do.

Get Help

Once I’d made the decision to go by myself at all costs, a strange thing happened. A good friend started getting interested in starting her own business. She was willing to come with me to the retreat. Then another strange thing happened, I met a woman one week before the retreat and she signed up for the same retreat. We ended up going together all in the same car. We had 2 GPS‘s in the car and both girls were giving me minute by minute road directions. Getting help was the easiest and fastest way to get to Fairport. What help can you get for your small biz to ease your trip to success?

Fake It Till You Make It

One of my big stressors was the US customs border crossing. I imagined being stopped, cavity searched, delayed, asked to pull over, you name it. I was so nervous about it. When the Tom Cruise (alleged) look-a-like-sunglass-guy claimed not to know what a coach was and that it was ridiculous to think that my coach worked with me over the phone, I was definitely flustered. However, I burned through the pain and kept calmly answering and joking along. He did search our trunk but let us go quickly after that. The girls in the car with me were fanning themselves from their hormonal rush and I myself was covered in sweat but for entirely different reasons. In your business, sometimes you HAVE to fake confidence about your services, your abilities, your fees, you name it. Until you make it, you have to fake it like I did at the US border.

Learn from my over stimulating drive over the US border and ask yourself some tough questions for your biz. You’ll be happy you did.

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, watch me on YouTube or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk

Abercrombie &Fitch CEO – Brilliant or Bastard?

a&FIn recent news, outraged critics have been blasting Abercrombie &Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries’ comments about what the A&F brand stands for.  Here’s what he said:

Candidly we go after the cool kids.  A lot of people don’t belong (in our clothes) and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.  Those companies that are trying to target everybody young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody either.”

The Good

1. Clear Brand Character

You really know what this brand looks like, sounds like and thinks.

2. Clarity Around Who The Brand DOESN’T Attract

Anyone that has issues with polarizing statements or can’t naturally fit the clothing need not apply.

3. Standing For 1 Thing

The CEO is very smart when he says that standing for ALL things makes brands “totally vanilla”. Amen to that.

4. Being Controversial

I’d never even heard of Mike Jeffries before. Now me and millions of others have and the A&F brand is big news as well as a viral sensation.

The Bad

1. Alienation

When you’re teeing off a percentage of the population just make sure that the remaining portion is big enough to keep your biz afloat.

2. The Inhumanity

Hey, I considered myself a “Fat Chick” in high school so need I say more about how hurtful just the words are?

3. Botched Positioning

One could argue that the same point could’ve been made with more tact and finesse by stating that the A&F brand embodied natural young leaders who attracted attention and liking based on their God given talents, abilities and personality. To me, that still describes ‘cool kids’ but in a much more empowering way.

So there just might be a few marketing lessons to be learned from this dude, even if said dude will never win any Nobel Peace Prizes.

As a small business coach, I ask you the small biz owner, what’s the lesson in this for YOU and your brand?

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk

A Lesson in Crisis Communication From Beyonce

Singer Beyonce performs the National Anthem at the Pepsi Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show Press Conference.I’m not American nor am I a sports fan but I’m a fan of gutsy and creative ways to solve pr headaches for a business. As a busy entrepreneur, I don’t know if you were aware of the pr crisis that Beyoncé faced when it was found out that she lip-synched at President Obama’s inauguration. Later, when she had to face a room full of hundreds of members of the press at a pre Super Bowl meeting, she simply asked people to stand and sang her heart out, ending with a very cute ‘any questions?’ Here is a take on what she did brilliantly:

She essentially ran through the four key steps from the playbook of crisis communications and management:

1.) Respond quickly.

2.) Be authentic and genuine in your response.

3.) If you’ve done wrong, admit fault.

4.) If your credibility has been called into question, find ways to quickly re-establish it.

What does this have to do with you, a small business owner? You too may face a crisis communication like a superstar in your business. The only exception being that you don’t have million dollar handlers and advisors. If you’re smart, you have a good business coach and your common sense. Follow the rules outlined in the article and you will quickly overcome the crisis and be stronger for it in the end!

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk!

via A Lesson in Crisis Communication From Beyoncé.

Chala’s radio interview about calming down entrepreneurs

I was on a radio show this summer talking about breaking free from fears for small business owners who want to grow their businesses.

We talked about the top fear of Entrepreneurs as being too much success and how I got over the first 2 months of sleeplessness when I left my corporate pay cheque. Click below to see how you can get over your entrepreneurial jitters!

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk!

Are you guilty of oversharing?

Too much

Too much (Photo credit: anyone’s ghost)

Last night I listened to a speaker who was highly touted by the host as being so phenomenal as to be back by popular demand from thousands of miles away. Her topic was the same as mine, helping small businesses grow through branding so I was truly looking forward to her perspective.

Gory Story

After listening to the speaker cataloging 14 deaths (some in gruesome detail) over 2 years in her family, the buffet dinner wasn’t sitting too well in my stomach. Neither was the speaker.  I couldn’t understand how  hearing her going on and on about the various horrible things in her life would help my business.

Down in the dumps

Don’t get me wrong, I teach my clients to tell a deeply moving and personal Phoenix rising story of how they were down and out but learned (and now teach to others) the skills needed to survive and to thrive. The key difference between what I do and what I witnessed last night was context. If the deeply moving oversharing has little or no bearing on why I’m listening to you in the first place, then that’s oversharing my friend.

Make it relevant

For example, I tell the story of how I had a miscarriage on stage during a talk due to self neglect and overwork as an opener to my Breakout of Burnout keynote. The point I make is that I learned the things I’m going to be teaching that night to avoid the same type of burnout from happening to the audience.

Just stop it

So stop playing on the heartstrings of softies and stop exasperating jaded souls like me and tell me a story that relates to how you can help with my pain instead. If I understand that you get me and because of your story, now trust and belive that you can help me, then you’ve got me, I’m yours.

Don’t waste people’s time or attention. There’s little enough of it to go around–use it to help them by telling them the story of why you can help them.

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk!

What you absolutely need to be doing right now to grow your small business

What should you be doing right now as November folds to a close in order to grow your business? No, it’s not Christmas shopping for your clients (although there’s obvious rewards to that too). You should actually be planning your 2013 marketing activities to reach your income goal for the year.

Watch this video to see the things you should be doing right now!

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk!