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Do You Have What It Takes??

When we were kids playing outside, we would come up with all sorts of games.  Some involved running, some involved flying through the air on swings, and some involved balls to hit, throw or kick.  We were on teams and figured out who would do what and where. There always seemed to be one person who directed or suggested or moved us along and we knew that was the leader…at least for that moment.

When you think about it, we were exposed to leadership early on with “Simon Says”…one person would make a move or do something and say “Simon Says touch your toes”…and we all did. Eventually we all had a chance to be Simon and maybe some of us took it to another level by suggesting we do something tough that was in our own area of expertise like standing on one foot while you twirled around and threw a ball in the air that you had to catch behind you.  That could have eliminated many of the participants while at the same time we would all say WOW that’s pretty cool. And a leader was created.

Now, I want you to use your imagination and visualize the birth of a leader and a movement.  I was watching a video called “Leadership From A Dancing Guy” where an entire movement was created in less than 3 minutes.  It’s one of the best videos on leadership and I thought a perfect example to share. Close your eyes and imagine you are at a music festival. There is a song blaring over the loudspeakers and people are sitting on the grass enjoying the weather, the music and each other.  Out of nowhere comes a young man who is dubbed “The Shirtless Dancing Guy” and he starts dancing…by himself.  Just dancing away and having a blast. What happens next is amazing. This is part of the official transcript of the video so listen for what’s happening as well as the lessons:

A leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous. But what he’s doing is so simple, it’s almost instructional. This is key. You must be easy to follow!

Now comes the first follower with a crucial role: he publicly shows everyone how to follow. Notice the leader embraces him as an equal, so it’s not about the leader anymore – it’s about them, plural. Notice he’s calling to his friends to join in. It takes guts to be a first follower! You stand out and brave ridicule, yourself. Being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership. The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader.

The 2nd follower is a turning point: its proof the first has done well. Now it’s not a lone nut, and it’s not two nuts. Three is a crowd and a crowd is news.

A movement must be public. Make sure outsiders see more than just the leader. Everyone needs to see the followers because new followers emulate followers – not the leader.

Now here come 2 more, then 3 more. Now we’ve got momentum. This is the tipping point! Now we’ve got a movement!

As more people jump in, it’s no longer risky. If they were on the fence before, there’s no reason not to join now. They won’t be ridiculed, they won’t stand out, and they will be part of the in-crowd, if they hurry.”

Ok now open your eyes. Can you see how leadership can be created? Whether it’s Simon Says or The Dancing Guys, leaders can be anyone who takes the lead and runs with it.

Let me share some top qualities of a successful leader:

1. The successful leader has a vision: Where are you now, where do you want to be and how are you going to get there. You want to make sure your vision is crystal clear and easy to follow.

2. The successful leader communicates well: Now that you have a vision, you need to share that with others so that the communication lines are open. Make the vision short, sweet and to the point but make the lines of communication open and accessible.

3. The successful leader is supportive: Find out what your team and partners are reaching for and help them find a way to begin that journey to achieve their goals. If someone needs more support offer it.  If someone needs more support and doesn’t want it, help them to find another position they might be better suited for. Be a role model that others can look up to.

4. The successful leader believes in his/herself: As a leader your confidence is what others are attracted to.  They will grow from your mistakes as well as soar from your attitude. Admit when you don’t know something or that you have made a mistake instead of blaming others. When a situation involves others, put your defensive attitude away and listen to those involved.  They will tell you what you need to hear so that you can turn around a negative situation. Be proactive rather than reactive.

5. The successful leader creates an environment of motivation and productivity: While we sometimes “assume” we know what others want and need; your best option is to ask. Ask what motivates others.  You’ll be surprised when money doesn’t show up in the conversation.  Ask where they want to be in another year.  Don’t be surprised when someone says they want your position. Ask what’s important to them.  You won’t be surprised when family is at the top of the list. Ask questions and they will know you are interested in what they are doing as well as who they are. Ask, ask, ask and then listen.

Let them share with you what is a challenge and what is a triumph.  Offer positive feedback and let them know some of the same struggles you might have experienced and how you overcame those.  Celebrate with them when they reach a milestone. Let them take credit for a job well done, a project completed on or before the deadline or an idea that had an amazing result.

Remember the dancing man. It was the first follower that transformed a lone nut into a leader. When you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first person to stand up and join in.

As John Maxwell said, “A good leader is a person who takes a little more of his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.”

Happy Selling!

Judy Hoberman http://www.sellinginaskirt.com

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The Barriers We Create In Our Minds

Think about this… I was planning on putting on a telesummit with 25 other women.  I had hand-selected them, had the email invitation to them and was excited to be organizing and facilitating it….until that word creeped into my brain….I’m not big enough or famous enough or smart enough…I even threw in tall enough and told my husband I was cancelling it before I even got started.  He asked me why and I gave him my spiel of the “enough” nonsense.  He looked at me and said, very calmly and lovingly… “Are you nuts?” He continued with “People want to be around you. They trust you and admire you.  They respect who you are and how you are in it for them. Don’t let them down.”  What do you say to that?  I said I would give it until 6:00 and if I have any second thoughts, I’m cancelling it.  So, at 1 minute to 6, I hit send on 25 emails and turned my computer off…. totally.  I couldn’t bear people telling me no and called it a night.  12 hours later, at 6am, I turned my computer on and 24 of the 25 said yes, absolutely, thank you for asking me, honored…. on and on and on. I looked for the 25th and an hour later it also came in with a big yes…she was in Australia and the time difference was the only reason it was late.  I share this story often because no matter who you are, what you represent or why you do what you do….“enough” will creep in and you have to do everything to chase it away…it’s all about those barriers that we have in our minds…are they real or not?

The telesummit was a huge success. The women, the information, the value was such a winning combination. I had created a barrier that could have cancelled everything great and left me with the “oh woe is me syndrome.”  You see I had created barriers that were bigger than my goals and already had the scenario playing out of what would happen if I had decided to go through with this crazy plan. I decided that the only way I was going to use that word enough was to convince myself that enough was clearly enough. All the results I knew in my mind that were going to happen, didn’t and that is usually what happens. We are so sure that whatever we want to do won’t happen in a positive way that we can visualize failure and smell it before it even has a moment to be created. Why do we do that?

There are several things that cause us to lose our confidence and feel like the barriers are closing in.  Here are just a few:

  1. Age-Many times we let our age define us.  Whether we are too young or too old. Sometimes we tell ourselves that and sometimes others tell us what we should and shouldn’t do.  If you want to break down some of those barriers, don’t listen to them.
  2. What Other People Think-No matter what we tell ourselves, we still compare ourselves to others. That is really a waste of time and energy. Why compare yourself to those on social media since they are showing only what they want you to see? Where is that being authentic? Feel good about what you are doing, what you have already done and what you are planning to do. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.
  • Toxic People-Who are you surrounding yourself with? Are they people that you trust and admire? Will they support you to reach your goals? Or…are they energy vampires? I make it a point to release all toxic people from my life. I don’t lose them because they can be found.  I release them so they don’t return.
  • Fear-As I mentioned, we have great imaginations and we tend to create an entire volume of stories that can happen to us…Fortunately they don’t.  Fear is a choice. I encourage my clients to step into the unknown and I always ask, “What’s the worst that can happen?” and follow that up with, “What’s the best that can happen?”
  • Are you living in the past or hoping for the future? We all know that the past is the past and it can’t be changed. However, when you concentrate on the future, you do have the ability to make it something that you are excited to reach…but it’s still not here right now. Being in the present and living in the present let’s others know that you are ready for the opportunities that are in front of you and that you are taking the present for what it is…a gift.

Do you see yourself creating barriers from any of the reasons I mentioned?  Time to talk it out with a coach or mentor or someone you trust and flip your mindset to the positive side, so those barriers are taken down, not built up. The truth is most people are not willing to disregard some of the feelings they have and do what needs to be done to eliminate the barriers. It’s time to understand that when you break through the barriers once, you will realize it was never as bad as you thought it would be.  When your “Why” is strong enough, you will be willing to do the “How” …

Think of it this way…Start Small-We have to practice to get it right. If you’re in sports or play an instrument or anything that you want to become the expert in, you have to practice. You start small and work your way up. The more often you face that barrier and confront it, the more successful you will be and the next time it shows up, you’ll be able to walk right through it.

Then…Trust Yourself-What will it take for you to stop worrying about what others think or what their opinion of you is? When you start to trust yourself, your potential is unlimited. No matter how successful we are, we still second guess ourselves. When I was at a conference, a Queen was in the audience and she told me that every time she has to make a decision that will affect someone’s life, she second guesses herself, so consider yourself in great company. Take time to learn the lessons that life throws your way. These lessons will be critical to your success as you make progress along your journey toward your goals.

Arthur C. Clarke said, “The limits of the possible can only be defined by going beyond them into the impossible.”

Happy Selling!

Judy Hoberman http://www.sellinginaskirt.com

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The Power To Change

In 2009, I knew I wasn’t in the right place. I tried to make myself fit in. Since I’ve always felt like a square peg in a round hole for most of my life, this wasn’t a new sensation. But something was different. I was looking for a sign or an opportunity or someone to tell me it was time to move along, but no message was coming through. An email ended up in my inbox. It’s the kind of email that you delete because it is so long and it’s from someone you don’t know and why waste your time wasting your time? For some reason, I did read it and it was about an event that was going to take place in a few weeks in MD.  I called my sister-in-law and told her about it, and we decided to meet in MD and if the conference wasn’t anything we wanted to hear, we would spend the weekend together and catch up. She lived in NJ and I lived in TX.

We met there and something happened. The woman on stage was speaking directly to me. She was saying things I had only said to myself. She was the voice, the message and the opportunity to do something…and I did. The next Monday I went back to my office, I handed in my resignation and I finally took control of my life…I had the power to change.

Change is inevitable. Sometimes change is forced upon us, while other times we initiate it. How skilled are you at handling the need to shift course, whether it is brought on by external or internal forces?  How do you tend to feel when you step outside your comfort zone? Exhilarated? Terrified? Lost? Remember, comfort zones are relative. Every time you step into uncharted territory, sooner or later you will find some degree of comfort there. Do not settle too deeply into this new comfort zone, as it may soon be time to step out again.

When you are in a leadership position, others look to you for cues as to how they, too, might manage shifting tides and forge bravely ahead. Here are some of the benefits of change:

  • Personal growth-Every time something changes, you have the opportunity to grow and learn not only about “things” but also about yourself.
  • Flexibility-Change forces us to be flexible. You must bend and shift to meet new circumstances.
  • Situations improve-It may not look that way at first, but it is up to you to optimize the situation. You probably did not choose to be worse off than before—at least not for the long haul. So, whether the change was made by you, to you, or for you, get your big girl panties on and make improvements in your life.
  • Your core values are tested and strengthened-No matter what comes your way, your core values are what define you, so look at change as a way to reinforce those values.
  • You will become stronger-We all know the adage, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” I have found this to be true in my life. I also have learned that being stronger sometimes means asking for help.
  • Opportunities will appear-They may be what you had hoped for, or they may be things you never previously considered. Be open and remain curious about what opportunities this change will bring.

While change can be difficult, not changing can be fatal. We probably all can name now-defunct businesses that did not adapt to the times or to changes in consumer preferences. This applies as much to people as it does to companies. I remember my father was a jeweler. He crafted very expensive pieces and during the recession in the 80’s, we all suggested that he bring in some less expensive pieces. They could still be unique, but they weren’t going to cost a small fortune. He was adamant that he didn’t need to change, and you know the saying, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I mentioned that perhaps we could bring in some local designers, some new ones that were starting out and had great promise. Again, he declined, and we stopped trying to show him how change could be powerful. In the end, his store closed, and he blamed everything except the power that he had to change. BTW, the designer that I had spoken to that was just starting out…David Yurman.

We are all going through a time where it seems everything is changing. The way you do business. The way you connect. The way you say hello. The way you take care of yourself. While you feel like nothing is the same, you are probably being pushed outside your comfort zone. It’s time for you to understand and then…accept change and be brilliant.

Start with baby steps. While some of our changes were thrown to us without any warning, remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Start with one step, then add another. Do not try to change everything at once. You will become overwhelmed, and when that happens, nothing else happens. Prioritize what needs to get done and start there. When you complete one baby step, go for another one. Do not forget to take a moment and congratulate yourself on a job well done. Throw in a reward or two and watch how quickly you move through your list.

Get support. Do not do it alone. Surround yourself with positive people who can provide experience, wisdom, and connections. They too are navigating these choppy waters. While you are asking for help, they are also receiving some from you.

Going back to the phrase “Change is Inevitable…let’s add on Growth is Optional.” Your reaction, attitude and behavior to change is in your hands.  Remember…you have the power to change.

An old English proverb sums it all up, “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.”

To add levity while applying these needed course corrections, I like to declare, “Plot twist!” A little humor goes a long way.

Happy Selling!

Judy Hoberman http://www.sellinginaskirt.com

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Are You Hearing What I’m Saying?

Think about this…as a speaker, you have an event coming up. You talk to the organizer or meeting planner about who the audience is, what their expectations are and what the message they want you to share and are prepared to accomplish that. You review your talking points and are excited to really offer the attendees exactly what you were told they needed.  You’re a bit nervous as you always are before a talk and then…you walk in and the audience is not who the planner told you they would be, the message you have is not relevant to them and you know that there is no way you will relate to them or them to you.  All you wanted was to connect with them and talk about what was important to them…any hope of them hearing your message is now out the window. You only hope you wake up from this nightmare of a dream.

That scenario, as crazy as it sounds, really did happen to me. I always do my homework and know the audience, what the meeting planner wants and needs and provide some tips for immediate implementation so it isn’t simply a rah rah talk and will be forgotten as soon as everyone goes back into their own “real” world.  I should have realized when the planner didn’t have a lot of information and everything I asked had a “sounds great” response.  Any certain verbiage or examples I should use? “You’ve got this and sounds great” was all I received.  Even after doing research on the group, I didn’t find a lot to work with, but I knew the message she wanted…and so I was ready to connect and bring value.

And then…I walked into the room that was to be 98% female and it was anything but that. The attendees were looking for something totally different than what I was prepared to share with them and although I did some amazing tap dancing, the majority of the room and I were not connecting and I left ready to throw in the towel. I have never felt so horrible.  I received a comment that I should never be invited back as I wasn’t prepared…and that was one of the good ones. I reached out to the planner and apologized for not giving the attendees what they were looking for and she told me she thought it was great and she loves having me and can’t wait to do this again. I wasn’t even sure if she was in the same room as I didn’t feel that at all.

So, the question is, how important is communicating effectively? How about connecting to the people on your team? Are they hearing the message that you are intending to send? Unfortunately, for most of us, our communication goals are not consistently achieved; our message is not received as it was intended.  Communication is a necessary skill for all interpersonal relations; personal or professional. If a message is not understood, you have not communicated.

Your role as a leader is to:

  • To make communication as simple as possible
  • To be clear
  • To create understanding and meaning
  • To generate feedback
  • To check for understanding

Here are some ways to connect effectively:

  1. Be genuine. The only connections that work will be the ones that you truly care about; the world will see through anything short of that. If you don’t have a genuine interest in the person with whom you’re trying to connect with, then stop trying. As a leader, you must show that you are there to support someone’s goals and dreams. We don’t have to agree with their journey…you need to support it. It’s about them, not about you.
  2. Provide massive help. Most people never reach out to anyone above their level.  Did you know that everyone needs help or support in something? You have more to offer than you realize and those on your team want to learn from you. For women especially, it’s hard enough to ask for help. When someone does, pay attention to them and be interested in them.
  3. Persistence is key. When you are looking to connect with someone, you can’t give up after one attempt. It’s the same with someone trying to get your attention.  We are all busy and may not be able to jump when someone needs us. Sometimes a simple email or message letting them know when you are available will ease the situation. Communication is at an all-time high when they are trying to connect with you. Put yourself in their shoes…how would you want to be heard? 
  4. Make real connections. Think about how you’ve made the connections you have. That’s all this is. You only create relationships with people you genuinely want in your life. The same rule should apply with those reaching out to you. Don’t over-think it. Be human, be helpful and most humans will happily be human in return, regardless of who they are or what position they hold.
  5. Remain unforgettable, in other words, find ways to stand out. Remember birthdays or important events happening in your team. Give them your favorite book signed. Be genuinely helpful. You’d be surprised how the simplest things actually never get done. Being memorable isn’t as hard as some think! Be the leader or mentor that you wish you had. Imagine what that would feel like for someone else.

Here is something to ponder… Think about a situation in which you experienced difficulty in communicating effectively with another person. If you had the opportunity for a second chance, what would you do differently? Was it the message or was it the way it was communicated? As a leader you need to understand what the other person is saying-not necessarily agreeing with it. Check in to make sure you both understand what is said and what is heard…and especially what isn’t said.

As Steven Stowell said, “Great leaders find ways to connect with their people and help them fulfill their potential.”

Happy Selling!

Judy Hoberman http://www.sellinginaskirt.com

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Your Most Powerful Tool Is Your Mind…

If you are old enough to remember floppy disks, syntax errors, bits and bytes and Dos, you will also remember thinking and wondering why you didn’t get every piece of information that you needed pouring out at your request. Unfortunately, we were reminded that what you put in, is what you get out. That is not any different with your mind. Your mind can be your best friend or your biggest critic.  It depends on what you feed it every day.  When you wake up in the morning do you think about everything you didn’t finish the day before or do you start the day feeling like you are excited about getting the day started?

Your brain is a pretty powerful tool that you have in your own, private toolbox. Whenever you think of something, whether it’s something you’ve done many times or something you are trying for the first time, your brain has a new path created for that particular thought. The more you repeat the thought, the stronger that path is, and your brain is helping to create the best path to make this thought repeatable and easy to remember. Sometimes those thoughts will be incredibly beneficial and other times…not so much. The not so much time can be that the new thought you are having is too difficult or too time consuming or just plain uncomfortable…even though the picture you have is exactly where you want to head.  That’s called stepping outside of your comfort zone. 

When you decide you want to make a change in your life (whether it be a physical change or a change in the way you think about something), there is a period of time that this is bound to feel uncomfortable because you are now needing to construct new neural pathways that support the desired change. Your brain doesn’t like this. It wants to take the path it already knows…also known as your comfort zone. But here’s the truth about that…once you step out, more than once, that will soon become your comfort zone so don’t fear the unknown…it will only be the unknown once.

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have at your disposal to create your life exactly how you want it to be. Some of us dream in vivid color, some of us write and others talk about it…our lives and what we want it to look like. When you describe it “as if” it was the present, it feels as if it is happening right now.

Some people think that dreaming big means you think too highly of yourself—that big dreams signal you are arrogant or perhaps directionless. But in truth, having big dreams means you are determined to live on purpose, are nurturing a vision, and are taking steps to make it happen.

Imagine how different your life would be if you actively pursued even a few of the dreams you had when you were little. Life was simpler than, and dreaming was something we all did and were not afraid to share. As we grow up, some of us abandon our dreams while others stop dreaming altogether.

It all comes back to your mindset. Allowing yourself to be inspired and encouraged by your dreams can prompt you to set goals and establish an implementable plan of action. If you believe you can accomplish those big dreams, why not go after them? Why settle for the small ones instead?

I can’t imagine a world without dreamers. Without them, we would not have the things we take for granted like cars, phones, lights, airplanes, computers, and the ability to connect globally.

Let’s think about how we can use our most powerful tool to create the life we want.

1. Fear should not be an ingredient in dreaming big. We had no problem as little girls dreaming huge dreams because nothing stopped us. As women in business, what is stopping us now? Set your goals and set your sites. Little girls with big dreams can become women with vision.

2. With your big dreams in front of you, make sure you identify the steps to get there. I always tell my clients to come up with a number (in terms of dollars, clients, applications, or whatever applies to them) they want to secure by a certain date. Then I tell them to work backward and break that number down into tiny little pieces to chart the steps to reach their goal. A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes a dream come true … and the cycle continues. 

3. Track your progress. If you do not track your progress, how will you know when you have arrived? Make sure your starting point, goals, and milestones are clearly defined. No matter how often we hear, “Success is a journey, not a destination,” I had to learn this the hard way. As a solopreneur, I thought, “Why do I need to do this? It is just me. I know what I want, so I will just go for it. Well that turned out to be one of the costliest mistakes I’ve made in business. You don’t have to use an expensive program to track your progress. You could simply use a spreadsheet or piece of paper, but don’t forego this important step. I ultimately rectified the problem two long, hard years after launching my business.

4. Do not do it alone, and do not allow energy vampires suck you dry or feed you negativity. Surround yourself with people who believe in and support you. In addition to a coach or mentor, develop of network of colleagues who can be your accountability partners, just as you can be theirs. People can inspire you or drain you. Choose wisely.

5. Be open to failing. It is part of the process. When you dream big, you will have some hiccups. Brush off your bruised knees, pick yourself up, and continue on the path. The bigger the dream, the more steps you may need to take. Think of the forward and backward steps more of a cha-cha than obstacles. When you realize that failing does not make you a failure, you free yourself to try many different things.

Believe in yourself and dream big. As you consider the path to take, do not forget about the rest of your life, especially your family. Work hard, take action, and keep pushing through when things get tough. Focus on the things that only you can do and outsource the rest. Learn to say no, and most of all, dig in and stay committed.                               

Remember as Tony Gaskins said, “If you don’t build your dream, someone will hire you to help build theirs.”

Happy Selling!

Judy Hoberman http://www.sellinginaskirt.com

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Working Remotely…Are You Prepared?

Other than 2 years of my career, I have always been an entrepreneur working from home.  Yes, I’ve gone to an office, facilitated training in an office, recruited in an office and had team meetings in an office…but the majority of my time, was working from home.  I don’t remember if anyone gave me a manual of what to expect, but I did notice pros and cons of working from home.  In today’s environment, many people have had no time to prepare or even think about getting ready for change. You were in an office one day and the next, you’re remote.

I was thinking about how this new way of working will affect so many people and wanted to share some thoughts of my experiences with the hope that it may make this new journey easier and perhaps even have some fun with it.

Mark your territory.  This is easy if you have an empty room or spare bedroom.  In many cases, you will need to adopt some space and call it your own. When we started in the insurance world, so many grabbed the kitchen or dining room table and decided this was their new office.  Kind of reminds me of those that declare their table at the coffee shop as their own. I was once asked to move from a certain table in a certain coffee shop because this man said it was “his” …I didn’t see a nameplate but I knew it made him comfortable, so I moved to another table.

If you are in a place that others will be using, you will need to make sure that your “office” can be moved to another area during family and mealtimes. If you are in an industry where there is any confidential and personal information, make sure that is not out in the open for anyone to see. My kids were always part of my business.  While I did have an office in my home, Saturday nights you would find the three of us sitting on my bed doing direct mail pieces together. They knew that they were a part of my business and were proud to see the results.

Do Not Disturb-Again, not always the easiest to accomplish.  If your family, spouse or roommate is home while you are working, remind them that you are doing just that…working. It’s not the time to chat or have conversations about solving the problems of the world.  You wouldn’t do that if you were in an office, so why now? We had an agent who was a single dad with small children. Many of you will remember that as soon as you picked up the phone, real phones not smart phones, it was an invitation to start an argument, have a burning question or just need your undivided attention at that moment. There is nothing more “professional” than being on the phone with a client when your children picked up the phone in another room yelling “Daddy, daddy, daddy.” While some clients understood…others did not.  This agent came up with a brilliant idea.  He had a ball cap. When it was on, he was working. When it was off, he was daddy. Other than an emergency (in the insurance world that meant blood or bones), his little ones were quiet and whispered to each other.  It was a simple and effective way to work.

Give Me A Break-Do you take breaks when you are in the office? Then why not at home? Many times, it’s hard to get started and then, it’s hard to stop. When you work from home, you either become the King or Queen workaholic or the Guru or Maven of taking breaks.  Think of something in the middle.  When you are working, you should be working, not getting prepared to possibly start at some later point in the last hour of the day. Ok so that’s a bit of an exaggeration but you need to prepare yourself to work and to stop.  I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the Pomodoro Technique. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. It is a time management system that encourages people to work with the time they have—rather than against it.  Work 25 minutes and then take a break for 5 minutes.  You must work in those 25 minutes and walk away from it for 5 minutes.  Imagine how productive you can be.

Can You Just…-While you are working from home, if there is anyone else that lives with you, you will certainly hear something like “While you are home, can you just start dinner, do the laundry, call the repair person, run to the store etc.” Remember, you are working, so your mindset needs to be that you are working. It’s always nice to lend a helping hand…after you’re done working.  If there are no humans living with you, unless you’re on your 5-minute break or having lunch, your furry friend will need to stay put and not learn a new frisbee trick.

Let’s Do Lunch-Even though you are not in an office, you need to take a lunch break.  Yes, this is the time to do those non-working tasks. It’s also the time to walk away from your work, have something nutritious, delicious and yummy to break up the day. Once in awhile you might have a virtual working lunch, but really try to claim this time for yourself.

While working from home will take a little getting used to, also be aware that it can feel a bit lonely. Rest assured there are many others feeling the same way. With technology, you can have a meeting with your office mates, “see” your clients and create educational sessions to share your brilliance.

Things change quicker than you can imagine. If you don’t change, you will be left behind.  Old ways won’t open new doors. Change is inevitable…Growth is optional. Will you shine or will you let your light dim?

If you need a pep talk, an ear to listen or an accountability chat, reach out. I’m here to listen, support and encourage.

Happy Selling!

Judy Hoberman http://www.sellinginaskirt.com

Stop Being The Best-Kept Secret

It’s so funny when you think about how you show up in your business. We talk about being authentic and generous and courageous and passionate. But what does that look like? How do people get to participate in what you have to share? More importantly are you showing up at all or are you hoping that people will find you simply because you’re fabulous? Are you ready to stop being the best-kept secret in business?

Whether you are showing off what you have, dreaming of being a house-hold name or day-dreaming the “what-if or when I have” game, being the best-kept secret in business is not the best business strategy to have. Sometimes you are waiting for the knight in shining armor aka the person that gives you a contract to do business with them or you are simply playing small and not bringing out your full potential persona.  Either way…you’re playing a game of doom and gloom. The truth is more people are afraid of success than they are of failure, so they play small or not at all.

The reality is that it’s all about becoming known in the markets you serve and building a reputation that helps to start the buying and selling process with prospective clients. If you do it right you will not only build awareness, it will also help you to reach out to people you don’t know and who don’t know you.

The bottom line is this: If someone doesn’t know you exist, how can they ever do business with you? Here are some important guidelines that will help you in your quest to go from unknown to known:

1. Be persistent. Studies have shown it takes anywhere from 8-15 touches for your marketing message to sink in. So be patient… and stay with it!

2. Be consistent. Consider the look, feel and tone of your messaging, particularly when you use multiple channels. Make sure the viewer knows that all those messages came from the same business.

3. Show not just who you are but what you are. Make sure your messages also include why someone would want to do business with you and what sets you apart. In other words, what makes you unique?

Take an integrated approach. Your marketing tactics should all work together. Put your social media icons in your e-mail. Put your website URL on your ads. Make sure your LinkedIn profile address is on your business cards. And so on.

Awareness-building is 2-step process. Step 1 is getting to the top-of-mind position in the psyche of your prospective buyers. Step 2 is staying there over time. So, make sure your awareness-building plan covers both.

Marketing yourself is not always the easiest thing to do but it is a necessity. Let’s flash forward just a little bit to the point where you are starting to build a following and your product or service is showing positive results. Where can you find those walking ambassadors who will shout your name out every chance they get? Here are a few ideas:

1. Build trust- Word of mouth recognition for a job well done, a product or service, is built on the reputation of trust, which takes time, effort and even a few failures along the way. When someone asks how you build your business, let them know its word of mouth. It’s also important to let them know that when something doesn’t go as smoothly as you would like, acknowledge it and learn from it and let them know you appreciate their feedback.

2. Do a great job- Deliver service that’s so exceptionally good it gets everyone talking. Avoid spreading yourself too thin by trying to be all things to all people. Instead, focus on what you do best and exceed expectations. A strong, personal referral from someone that knows your value and conveys trust in your ability is far better than anything else.

3. Ask for testimonials- If a client gives you great feedback, ask them if you can use their endorsement to let others know about their experience. A one or two sentence statement in their words, can be helpful on your website, brochure, social media channels or other marketing pieces. If you can get that in a video, even better. I have mine in a folder and when I have those days that aren’t going the way I planned, I take them out and watch, listen and read…great reminder of why I do what I do.

4. Give back- Get your business involved with the community. Create visibility for your company that lets others know you are working to make your community a better place. That can be an important way to distinguish yourself from competitors.

5. Build relationships- Don’t forget a customer once the job is over. Continue the relationship with them so the next time they need what you offer, they will think of you. The heavy lifting comes after the contract is signed, the money is paid, and the job is underway. This is the time that service is at an all-time high. This is also where relationships are solidified.

6. And finally…Say thank you- When you get a new customer, ask how they heard of you. If it’s a referral from an existing client, be sure to thank that person for recommending you. Send a note via regular mail. Let them know how important their referrals are to your business, and that you are happy they have had a good experience with your company. So many people forget this important piece. Those that remember, stand out and start to become a little less of that best-kept secret.

Your name is your brand—and you’re anything but generic.

 Remember, start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

Happy Selling!

Judy Hoberman www.sellinginaskirt.com

Enough Is Enough!

I would bet many of you have watch or were addicted to the Seinfeld show.  It was truly based on nothing and yet it was so relevant.  One of my favorite things that the cast did was say one word in an assortment of ways.  For instance seriously. It could be seriously? As in a question or seriously as in a statement or a dozen other ways to say it all have different meanings. There is another one of those words that has so many different meanings, depending on how you say it or where it fits into a sentence.  The word is ENOUGH…are you enough? I’ve had enough, enough already and so one. This one word plays a big role in our lives and sometimes it takes us back to the song “Enough Is Enough”…

So what does enough signify? One way to look at it is that it means no more will be tolerated. Another is being adequate – as much or as good as necessary for some requirement or purpose; fully sufficient, suitable, or fit. Or still another is used to express an impatient desire for the cessation of undesirable behavior or speech.

Let’s see what this all looks like.  In business we find many women that are tired of working in an environment that either doesn’t match their values or doesn’t really want her opinion or expertise.  She goes to work each day and puts on that professional smile and does her job.  One day she goes in and something happens.  It doesn’t have to be anything major but she says “ENOUGH…I’m done and out of here. What does she do?

First, go with the feeling but try and tone down the anger.  You’ve been bubbling up for a while and now it’s your turn to do something for you.

Then quit worrying about what others may be thinking of you – this is YOUR life. You may have created this scenario in your head a hundred times so keep going and use your frustration to remind you of the great things ahead of you.

Next remember why you are doing what you’re doing.  The constant internal battle you’ve had for months is just not worth it. You know it won’t be easy, but you know it will be worth it.

In reality, this is exactly what happened to me.  I believe I had a cameo role in the “Mean Girls” movie, every single day.  I had a plan in my head of what I was going to say to the President and every single day, there wasn’t the right time to say anything.  Until that one day, when I didn’t expect it and he walked up to me and said “You wanted to talk to me”…I wasn’t sure what I was going to say, what anyone was going to think of me or what I was really going to do next.  I just knew I had had enough and I blurted out I’m leaving and the rest is history.

How about enough of a relationship?  That is also, unfortunately, very common.  You are with someone, you think it’s going ok, you tolerate behavior that you probably shouldn’t or there is behavior that you aren’t aware of and BOOM it happens… “I’ve had enough” and before you know it, you are no longer together and trying to pick up the pieces. People think you’re crazy because he’s attractive or takes care of you financially or he’s intelligent. How can you just give up? 

The truth is, it’s ok to give up. Sometimes you have to give up in order to allow new things to happen and start over.  What may be waiting for you can be the most amazing thing or person, but you won’t know it if you don’t give up.  Giving up has always been in the negative mind set but in reality, it doesn’t mean that you are weak.  It means you are strong and smart and you can’t possibly move forward with an anchor around your neck. Chances on this person you are done with has been a repeat offender so why do you feel you owe your time to someone who will definitely do this over and over again? Sometimes the best thing for you is also the hardest…walking away.

Then there is also knowing when you’ve done enough and need to end a business.  Here is this dream that you created…your baby.  Try as you might, it isn’t working or working enough for you. Burn-out is showing up and you don’t know what to do.  Here are some signs that burn-out is getting too close for comfort:

  1. You don’t feel creative
  2. Your customers are annoying you
  3. You’re not motivated
  4. You don’t see your dream in front of you any longer
  5. You don’t like talking about your business with anyone

There is also having enough.  How do you know when you have enough? That answer is different for everyone.  Is it money or investments or real estate or cars or…well you can fill in the blank. When trying to determine if you have enough, ask yourself these two questions: How much money buys happiness? If you’ve already won the game, why are you still playing? Interesting isn’t it?

Finally my all-time favorite and one that most women will agree with… “Am I Enough?” That can be young enough, old enough, pretty enough, smart enough, thin enough, tall enough, short enough, famous enough or almost any description you want to put in there.  When did this happen that we question ourselves?  When do you outgrow it?  It probably began when we were toddlers when we weren’t big enough to hold our own spoon or we weren’t tall enough to go on a ride…as simple and as harmless as that was…well we’ve created our own monsters in the form of self-doubt.  Those voices in our head that reminds us that we are not enough are sometimes too loud to overlook.  But here are a few ideas to remind you that you are not only enough, you are more than enough. ~What have you done today that you can celebrate? No matter how silly or little it is, celebrate. I go back to when I had my first child and I was going to be the best mom in the world.  My house was going to be spotless, my daughter dressed in the cutest outfits and I would be put together like all the moms on TV.  Well…that lasted a day or so.  My house was clean but not spotless, my daughter cute but in her onesie and me…well my hair was in a pony-tail and I was fortunate if my shirt was clean.  But my daughter was hugged and loved and healthy…understand?

~Who are you comparing yourself to and more importantly why? I would look around and think why aren’t I as put together as she was or why didn’t I have all the newest gadgets around and why wasn’t I as smart or whatever I was feeling at the moment.  Well guess what? I’m not them and they are not me.  I started to realize that I was pretty awesome and I didn’t need to be someone I’m not.

~Get rid of the-if and then.  We need to get rid of that because there is no if and then when you love yourself.  In order to know you are enough, you have to believe it and that means no conditions. If only I could lose those last 5 pounds then I would look great.  Really?  I think I looked really great and if I never lost the 5 pounds, I would still look great and if I did, I would still look great.  Having conditions is the invitation to allowing “enough” into your head.

Remember, there is a difference between giving up, and knowing when you have had enough. Perhaps when you thought you weren’t good enough the truth was that you were overqualified…

Happy Selling!

Judy Hoberman www.sellinginaskirt.com

Words Matter

Whether you are in elementary school, in business or in your real-life setting, you need to be aware of the words you use because words can be powerful and that is what we will talk about today…how words matter.

“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.”

Words do matter in every situation.  If you are what you eat, then are you what you say as well? Let’s think about our children and if you don’t have children, think about yourself as a child.  If you are told how incredibly amazing and intelligent you are, you would feel great and after a while you would start to believe it.  Now let’s flip the switch. Imagine being told you are stupid and will never amount to anything because you are a loser.  Flash forward a short while later and where might this scenario take this child? Even think about something so harmless as you’re too little to do that or you aren’t tall old enough or even you are not ready to learn that.  Every single word that we hear can tear us down or build us up.  So which camp will you choose to be a part of?

It’s the combination of the words, how we use them and how our minds wrap themselves around them. Whether you say things out loud or have them running through your head, we can make the choice whether to take the positive or negative path.  Our words do matter.

Let’s see some ways to use words in a powerful and positive way.

1. Practice Compliments-This is something I do every single day.  I give someone that I don’t know a compliment. You will never know what you have done for that person that day in that moment. Don’t give the compliment and wait for one in return. You might get one or you might not. The point is giving one will make you both feel great.

2. Practice positive affirmations-I know this sounds weird to do but remember, you are the one that is listening to that self-chatter.  Instead of thinking this dress makes me look fat, how about thinking how great this color is on you or how confident this makes you feel. Instead of thinking you are not smart enough to do the presentation, change it to that you are going to share some incredible information with your colleagues that can help them with their jobs.  It’s a change in your mindset and a rewind of the tapes in your head. If you can’t come up with anything positive immediately, make a list of positive quotes and put them all around you and practice saying them out loud. You’ll get the hang of it…and your mind will be waiting to hear them.

3. Think before you speak-We all come into situations that can change our attitudes in a blink.  Before you say something and react to that, think, breathe and decide how you can respond without being so reactive. Don’t think for one minute I am saying to ignore what is said.  I’m saying to think carefully about what the message is you want to convey and do it professionally and intelligently.  This is where learning new words can come in handy.

4. If you have done something that is wrong, learn to apologize.  Own your mistake and understand how your words may have made a negative impact on someone or something.  Don’t say you are sorry for the weather or something you have no control over.  That is a different conversation for later.  Apologizing when you mean it is very powerful and again…words matter.

5. Remember what you are grateful for.  We all have so many things to be thankful for…and not only in November, our Thanksgiving month.  I’ve noticed that people have forgotten how to say thank you.  Two tiny little words that when said, can mean the world to someone else. Change your mindset, change your world.  How about doing that for someone else?

As Dave Hedges said, “The words you speak are powerful. They can mend a broken heart and help repair a shattered mind. They can also destroy a person’s confidence and make people feel worthless.  Choose your words carefully.”

Remember, words are free. It’s how you use them that might cost you.

Happy Selling!

Judy Hoberman www.sellinginaskirt.com

Finding Time For Yourself

Finding your own time is not being selfish, and it should not have any cause for guilt. With the crazy, busy world we live in, finding time for yourself can be a huge challenge. As women we do experience guilt when we manage to find a few moments of time for ourselves and sometimes, we give up before we do because it doesn’t feel that it’s worth the effort. But…it is. In fact, taking time for yourself gives your brain a chance to reboot, improves your concentration, increases productivity, gives you a chance to think deeply and helps you problem solve more effectively. It also gives you a better sense of balance and self-awareness that can lead to a better understanding of yourself–what drives you, what inspires you, what excites you.

Ready to find some time for yourself? Here are a few ideas:

  1. While it may be challenging with the schedules we are all keeping, you can wake up a little earlier than everyone else. This gives you a few moments of alone time to do the things that are easier to do when it’s quiet and the phone is not ringing.  You can also unplug from all your electronics and spend some time like it was 1960.
  2. Reschedule some of your “tasks” …what is on your never-ending list that can be eliminated or consolidated? Can anything be postponed for a later date. Better yet, can you delegate? You will be able to free up some time for yourself and not feel guilty about it.
  3. Start small.  You don’t have to find hours of alone time. With 20-30 minutes you can read a chapter of a book, meditate, take a walk or sit and simply be.  When you see how much more relaxed you are, chances are you will be looking at more ways to restructure your day.
  4. Drop the guilt. Spending time with yourself is time well spent because it makes you a happier person to be around. Spending time with yourself benefits everyone because by having a happier and healthier mindset, you’re in a better frame of mind to take care of the people who are important to you. Spending time with yourself is preventative medicine to combat burnout. What good will you be to anyone if you eventually burnout? (And you will if you don’t take care of yourself.)

How ever you decide to enhance your life, remember that this is your time being spent. Do you know how you want to spend it? What and who are your priorities.  Life is short, time is fast, no replay, no rewind… so enjoy every moment as it comes. Remember, your life only gets better when you do. Work on yourself and the rest will follow. Put on your own oxygen mask first.

Happy Selling!

Judy Hoberman www.sellinginaskirt.com

Seeking Help Is Empowering!

Asking for help means you aren’t smart enough to do something yourself.  Asking for help means that you are weak. Asking for help means you are in the wrong position in business.  Have you heard any of those statements before? They seem to follow us generation after generation and decade after decade. It’s time to put a new spin on an old tape… seeking help is empowering.

Whether you are an entrepreneur or starting a new position or recently got promoted, you find there is one thing that rings true…it can be lonely. When you’re in sales, and we all are, it goes one step further because unless you are in front of someone, your emotions go from being on to being…alone. I can remember a full day of appointments and I would be in my car rocking out to some great music and then I was “on” for the first appointment.  Back into my car and while the music was still playing, I was listening and humming a bit.  Into my next appointment and back “on” …back in my car and…well you get it. You try and fill the empty moments with music or news but in reality, you feel lonely…and it doesn’t matter if you have sold or not, it’s still a lonely profession. Having no one to bounce ideas off in that new role…equally as lonely.

Now imagine you have someone you can reach out to and ask for help or ideas to get you to the next level.  Wouldn’t that be great? But…if you did do that, would that person feel like you weren’t sure about what you were doing or that you couldn’t make decisions yourself? Weren’t you told to “fake it till you make it?” Would people think less of you if you showed that you might need their expertise or experience? See how that creeps back into your brain?  Asking for help and support is such an easy thing, until it’s not.

What are some reasons why you should ask for help?

1. Wouldn’t it be great if simply by asking for help you are creating brand awareness? When you let others know what you are doing, they are getting to know you and what you do. If you have a great reputation and what you are doing brings value to others, it would only make sense that they would think of you when someone needs what you have to offer. If you don’t ask, the answer is always “NO” …

2. That was good for your brand.  Now, what about building your network. By reaching out to others and getting to know them and letting them get to know you, your network is also growing. No matter where you are in your career, you need a solid network.

3. What about growing your business? When you ask for help and check your ego at the door, people will help you. Those that don’t, you have that magic word NEXT.  Those that do become part of your network, are strategic partners to help grow your business and can become that confidante that you need to feel comfortable enough to share your thoughts with.  Win-win-win…

Those are some basic reasons why you should ask for help. But when is a good time or the right time to ask for help? I’m sure the first thing you thought of is when you are in trouble. You’re not making money or have no clients or when everything seems to be going wrong. While those are good times to ask…you also need the courage to do that. You can also ask for help when things are going great and you want to get to the next level.  It doesn’t always need to be during the gloom and doom you might be experiencing.  Here are some other times when asking for help makes sense:

~When you are just starting out ~When you are entering into a new market ~When you want to grow your audience ~When you are looking for a strategic partner ~When you want a promotion

The bottom line is you can always ask for help. It may take a few times to feel comfortable, but always remember that one of the habits of successful people is that they do ask for help. There are some great reasons to ask for help.  Sooner or later everyone will need to ask for it and then be open to receiving it as well.

1. At some point you will have to do it. It doesn’t matter if you have all the money in the world or have zero, there will come a time when you will have to ask someone for their help. If you aren’t good at it, start small and practice.

2. You won’t be the only one that benefits from the request.  When you share your expertise with someone else, how does that make you feel?  Pretty good when you see their reaction and hear their gratitude.  It will be the same for you and the person you help.  I always say that when you become a mentor, you learn just as much if not more than your mentee.  This is no different.

3. Have you heard the phrase, “walking in their shoes”…If you’ve asked for help and received it and now you have been asked to give help, you will know what it felt like for that person to ask you and how difficult that might have been…who is the winner now?

4. If you never ask for help, do people think you have it going on…even if you don’t? Most of us will struggle now and then and people expect us to be human. You can’t always be perfect and that is too difficult and boring anyway. Here’s an example…when I was taking my insurance exam, there were no classes to take and we didn’t have a computer to do anything online.  My children asked if I needed help and of course I declined after thanking them for the offer. I failed the test by 1 point and my daughter’s comment was “Thank goodness you’re human” …need I say more?

5. When you ask and offer help it creates connections and relationships.  When you need something, these are already in place with people ready to support you. Don’t wait until you are struggling to ask for help.  Don’t celebrate your successes being lonely. Asking for help gives you a reason to be a part of groups, colleagues and friends.  It can be very lonely as an entrepreneur or being in a new position…I think I started with that statement.

Remember…“There is no lack of knowledge out there…just a short of asking for help!”

Happy Selling!

Judy Hoberman www.sellinginaskirt.com

Wake Up And Smell The Coffee!

In the early 1990s, I found myself as a single mom with two amazing children, I had just lost my mom and was recently divorced. It was a lot to handle and I had to figure out my next steps. I answered an ad in the newspaper…yes, a real newspaper with a classified section.  I found an ad that caught my eye. It said “Wake Up And Smell The Coffee” …I had no idea what it meant so I kept on reading.  Something about helping others feel protected. I didn’t understand what that had to do with coffee but since I wasn’t and still have never had a sip of coffee, I thought it might reveal itself somehow. So, I called…yes that’s what we did back then…and I got an appointment. When I arrived, the person I was supposed to meet with was busy, so they were going to shift me over to someone else.  I reminded them my appointment was with the Agency Manager and I would wait.  I do believe that’s where I started seeing rolling of the eyes towards me.  He was finally finished with his call and ushered me in. I was EXACTLY what he was looking for…I didn’t know it then, but I was the only female that had applied and the only one, other than the receptionist in the office.

Fast forward I was offered a position to be a producer in Insurance…still didn’t see the connection to the ad and didn’t know anything about insurance including that I had to get licensed. There were no on-line classes and the in-person classes had already started. I would have to wait 4 weeks.  Did I say I was a single mom?  So, I decided to study myself and finally realized that in order to read this very boring book, I would probably need to drink coffee to stay awake…that must be the connection.  No coffee for me, but I studied hard and went to take the test and…I failed by one point. I went directly to the office and started to cry. I wasn’t smart enough or ready for this kind of position.  The receptionist said “Put on your big girl panties and get over yourself.  You can do this. Reschedule your exam and pass it.” So, I did, and I passed.

Now I have this position that was 100% commission and even though I passed my exam, it still took weeks to get my license.  I started making calls and getting appointments and going with a licensed agent who would do the presentation and write the application. Even though I felt like the appointment setter, I learned so much and knew what I would do and what I definitely would not do when I was ready to go.

My license finally came through and I was ready. What I wasn’t ready for was my attitude. Every morning I would take my children to school and then complain about how far I had to drive or wonder if I would even write this family and when I would start earning commission.  I wanted to quit every day, sometimes multiple times a day, mostly all day. Once I got to someone’s home or office, I was absolutely fine. I loved being able to serve my clients and walked in as if they were already my clients. I asked lots of questions and I listened well. I wrote a good amount of the business…but it was like ground-hog day. Same thing almost every day for the first few weeks. 

One morning, I was getting everybody ready and I looked at my kids and smiled at how amazing they are and how important they are to me…and it hit me.  My one and only job in this entire world was to protect my family. If I could do that for them, why couldn’t I do that for other families? And it was as if that lightbulb that you see in cartoons appeared above my head. I dropped my children off and instead of complaining, I reminded myself that I had the privilege of protecting families today and everything was different. My mindset shifted, and I created a different path for myself and my business took off.

That was the day I discovered the relationship between smelling the coffee and my career. It was the day that I knew I had to be Intentional about everything I would do. It was the day I decided that I was excited about insurance and that in itself is an oxymoron…and it’s true.

Happy Selling!

Judy Hoberman http://www.sellinginaskirt.com