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Building a Better Life & Business by Building a Better You!

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If this is your first time visiting, let me give you a quick welcome and share with you how I might be able to help you build a better life & business.

 

Perception vs Perspective

Photo Credit: ZoomyPhotography cc

 

I bet we’ve all heard the phrase “perception is reality” at some point in our lives. Whether you know it or not, or agree with it or not, the man who first made the statement was a rather brilliant guy. Lee Atwater was a political strategist and consultant to two U.S. Presidents and served as the Chairman of the Republican National Committee. I say all that not to pump him up, but to show that he wasn’t an intellectual joke who happened to coin a phrase.

The problem is, that this particular quote isn’t entirely accurate; at least not to me. While I get that what he was referring to was that people’s perceptions most often guide their opinions and decisions; thus in a way potentially “creating a reality” (hence why politicians run smear campaigns even if they’re over-inflated or completely false statements.) The truth is that perception is completely wrong just as many times – if not more – than when it’s actually right.

If that’s the case, then why do so many of us let it be a guiding factor in our opinions and therefore decisions and reactions when dealing with others?

Well, let’s break it down.

When My Life Is Not the One I Pictured In My Head

 

What do you do when you reach a point in your life, look back over everything you’ve done up to then, and realize that frankly… my life is not the same one that I pictured in my head?

I’m at that point in certain areas of my life. Not so much that I’m not happy, content, or even proud of what I have and what I’ve been able to accomplish up to this point, but there are certain areas that I imagined would of had a different result. Because of this, I find myself making decisions that sometimes can send me further down a path away from what I pictured, but I would usually say it’s because I’m being “adaptable” to what’s happening around me. Is that wrong?

I’ve always realized that I cannot control everything that happens to or affects me, so I’ve always taken the approach that it’s better to decide how I will respond and adapt - which I can control – rather than complain or try to fight these uncontrollable things from messing up my plans.

However, I wonder if sometimes I’m missing something? Maybe that approach keeps me from the life I pictured in my head?

Apple Macbook Computer

Photo Credit: Robert S. Donovan cc

 

I’m a BIG Apple fan. The only other technology brand that occupies a large portion of our collection of gadgetry in my home is Motorola (Android phones and tablets.) Around 3 years ago I had made the switch to an “all-Mac” environment in my business – mPower Consulting – since we perform quite a bit of design work for clients and I’ve never looked back. But, out of the almost 10 pieces of Apple equipment we own, only one of them was purchased brand new. The rest were refurbished or previously-owned.

Being the “tech guy” amongst my family, friends, and fellow entrepreneurs I often get asked “Where do you find these Apple Mac computers, iPods, and iPads on the cheap?”

So, let me tell you a few places I like to look for deals.

Photo Credit: iandavidmuir cc

Photo Credit: iandavidmuir cc

 

If there is one characteristic of “successful people” that has ever resonated so much with me, it would be determination. Sure, intelligence is a good thing to have. Personal connections are good things to have. But the ability to pour forth an endless supply of drive and determination towards an idea or a direction until it reaches its goal is what I believe makes the difference between success and failure.

Think about it, most every “successful” person has faced many challenges in their lives and failed miserably many times over. The difference is that they do not stop at the mistakes; thus truly making their entire efforts a failure. They all were determined to learn what they could from those mistakes and apply them moving forward, ever driving and pushing for their goal until they reached success.

For the rest of us, I think our greatest problem is that we allow ourselves to be defeated… simply by a lie.

Skills That Can Advance Your Career

Photo Credit: B Rosen cc

I recently read an article on PR Newswire that talked about the skills that can advance your career and were discovered by a study they conducted of over 1,500 respondents used to determine what were the most important “soft” skills and attributes a public relations (PR) professional should possess to advance in their organization.

Here were the results:

PR New's Salary Survey 2013

Source: PR Newswire

 

The Top 3 Skills That Can Advance Your Career

As you can see, the top 3 skills were identified were as follows:

  • Strategic Decision-Making
  • Collaboration
  • Listening

In truth we’ve seen this trend for a “more collaborative and strategic” Corporate America over the past decade, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see at least the first two results, and yet, these skills are not necessarily available in great supply in today’s average worker; especially not together.

One type of professional that has been greatly targeted regarding a “lack” of these skills are with the “Millennial Generation” (often referring to those born in the late 1970′s to early 2000′s. So most of me and my close friends.) Many recent articles I’ve come across write about how they are strong willed, independent, potentially lacking in professionalism, and not great at listening to their peers or supervisors. In essence, they give the opinion that Millennials believe it is all about them.

Albert Einstein: Identifying the Right Problem to Solve

Photo Credit: sandra.scherer cc

 

There’s no doubt that Albert Einstein was a brilliant man. His name is almost synonymous with the word “genius.” Through his work he solved some of the greatest mysteries of our age and helped us understand even more how the world works around us. Most of us probably would think that there is no way that we can ever compete intellectually with a man of this magnitude… and yet I believe he actually gave us the secret to how we can solve any and all of the problems that we face in our own lives: by correctly identifying the right problem to solve.

If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it. – Albert Einstein

It’s amazing that such a simple statement could have such a profound meaning; that in solving a problem, the importance is in identifying the right problem to solve. And yet, most of us are completely guilty of quickly focusing and solving the problem that’s right in front of us without really understanding what caused it.

Rudeness

Photo Credit: Howard Dickins cc

 

I read a USA Today article recently titled “Managers to Millennials: Job Interview No Time to Text” and honestly I said to myself,

You’ve got to be joking… texting during an interview?

Sure enough, the article not only mentioned examples of Millennials texting during a job interview, it also listed horror stories from HR executives about interviews with recent college graduates who were answering calls during the interview, bringing their pets to the interview, and even more bizarre – bringing their parents to the interview to negotiate their salaries.

It got me thinking if we have gone too far in our society, educational systems, and parenting in coddling the upcoming generations and not training them about professionalism, etiquette, and frankly how to make it on their own when it’s time to leave the nest and start their own lives.

ArchitectureDo you remember when you were a kid and you knew what you wanted to be when you grew up? Race car driver, astronaut, fighter pilot; these were all on my list. In high school, however, I was finally certain that I had actually found my dream career. I wanted to be an architect.

It all made sense to me seeing as how I had grown up with an extreme do-it-yourself father who self-taught himself how to fix, reverse-engineer, design, and build many projects and additions to our house. I mean, these weren’t just a simple bench for the backyard projects, but master bedroom and bathroom suites, two-story workshops, and even a full house up in the North Carolina mountains. From all those experiences working by his side, I had learned that I loved building and that I loved creating something new from nothing. It was exciting to take an idea, a design, and make it a reality. Not to mention, I loved the smell of freshly cut wood.

So by the time I was in high school, my mind was made up that architecture was my future. Driven towards this goal, I signed up for every class that I could at school that taught me about architecture and prepared me for my future as the next Franklin Lloyd Wright.

So, who would have guessed it when one elective course in small business entrepreneurship changed my path forever and lead me to start my first business: mPower Consulting.

Funny enough, it was this course that taught me that an entrepreneur is just like an architect.

Responsive Mobile Website

Photo Credit: ZERGE_VIOLATOR cc

 

A recent eMarketer report has identified that this past year has been the first time we have seen a decrease in the number of US residents who access the Internet with a traditional desktop or laptop computer. Instead at least 40% of consumers are using a smartphone or mobile tablet computer and those numbers are only expected to increase. With this boom, it has become ever so important that business owners provide a mobile compatible version of their website for visitors who may be using smartphones or tablets to access their information. However many business owners are not knowledgeable about the options available to them to create such a version and this prevents them from taking advantage of this growing audience of website visitors.

eMarketer - Mobile Internet Usage

There are essentially three methods of developing a mobile presence: a standalone mobile website, a website built on the principles of “responsive design,” and developing a device native mobile application.

Cash is King

Photo Credit: Tracy O cc

When I started my first “real” business back in 2006, I thought that all my career experience up to that point had prepared me for the challenges that I would face as a new business owner. So it was a bit of a shock when I ran into my first financial crunch and I wondered how I had gotten there. I quickly realized that the things that I thought were important to the health and growth of my business (getting new customers, having a good profit margin, maintaining good relationships) were not near as important as the very thing that kept my business alive: cash.

Through that struggle, the key lesson I learned was that it’s not so much that you have cash on hand to pay the bills or purchase some needed equipment, but that it was in how well you managed the flow of that cash through your business. Any business owner with a decent credit card limit can get through a temporary financial squeeze if payments take a little longer to come in, but no business can last through a long-term financial crunch if they have not been building up their cash reserves. So in the world that is your business, you have to learn “that cash is king.”

The question is: How have you been treating your king?

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