Posts tagged ‘Networking’

In Business, Are You a Sunflower or a Wallflower?

Sunflower or wallflower in businessBarbara Walters famously – or infamously – asked Katherine Hepburn, “What kind of tree are you?” in response to a comment from Hepburn. So now I ask you: In your business life, what kind of flower are you? Are you a sunflower or a wallflower? While it might seem that the correct answer should be a sunflower (the official flower of nudism, right?), the truth is that you can succeed as either type.

Tour any greenhouse or plant nursery and you’ll see that flowers and plants are typically classified as being most likely to thrive in one of three conditions: full sun, full shade, or part sun/part shade. The same is true for business professionals, I think. Some of us thrive with full exposure to the limelight, some of us do our best work when cloistered away from the mainstream, while still others (like me) do best with a mix of conditions. Knowing the difference can put you on the path to happiness and success. Let’s take a closer look:

Many businesses – particularly retail and highly competitive service businesses – need lots of exposure to lots of eyeballs just to stay alive, let alone reach for the sky. Owners of these businesses are often sunflower types, clawing for the sun and drawing energy from being in the spotlight. But even sunflowers can’t do it all. In this age of so much competition for attention and “mind share”, personal burnout can come early and hard for those who work too hard, try to do too much, and, well, climb too close to the sun. To attain and maximize exposure without inviting burnout, sunflower business owners should enlist the services of creative professionals to help them spread the word about their businesses. These creative professionals can add valuable perspective as they create ad campaigns and online content, as well as manage social media communities.

Other business professionals – the wallflowers – tend to be more comfortable out of the mainstream, out of the spotlight. These might include entrepreneurs running virtual businesses or other work-from-home enterprises. They might be artists. They might be artisans creating unique items for niche markets. Regardless of the creative process, a common characteristic for successful wallflower-driven businesses is that they are often best built and maintained through local referrals, word-of-mouth, or tight-knit online communities. No need for big ad budgets; just a small army of local and vocal fans.

And then there are the hybrids, those of us who seek the spotlight at times, but also need to retreat into a virtual cocoon to do our best work for our clients. We benefit from occasional moments in large groups, but also from professional strategic alliances, person-to-person networking, and social media prospecting followed by personal outreach. Creative and consulting businesses like mine do well with this mix, as do personal service companies.

So… Are you a sunflower or a wallflower? If your personal entrepreneurial and leadership style fit the exposure requirements in your industry, chances are you’ll be comfortable in that skin. If not, you should consider seeking help from others with the right personality types to augment your own. Regardless of whether you thrive in the sun or the shade – and regardless of whether your business is currently blooming or wilting – with the right approach you can, indeed, achieve success undressed!

Bob

Building the Staircase of Success

Success Undressed www.successundressed.com business success staircaseHalfway through the project it dawned on me: building a staircase is a perfect metaphor for the pursuit of success.

Why was I building a staircase in the first place? A little backstory:

My partner and I were hosting a family reunion for the first (maybe the last?) time. That meant countless hours of sprucing up the ol’ homestead. The staircase (the exterior variety) was necessary because our yard has an upper portion – a private sanctuary perfect for the practicing nudist – and a lower portion accessible only via a steep embankment. Because we didn’t want any kinfolk somersaulting down the hill, a staircase seemed prudent.

Hence the construction. Hence the metaphor. Hence these lessons:

Begin with the end in mind:

I had a pretty good mental image of that staircase before I started construction. Likewise, you should picture success in your mind. Does success mean money to you? Does it mean independence? Comfort? Being debt-free? Think of success as simply, but as specifically, as you can. Some people create a vision board of images that represent success. Not a bad idea. Visualize success. Dare I say, undress it?

Have a plan:

When building the staircase, I made numerous sketches. (It helped that I had a background in architecture before I became a marketing, content and design geek.) These sketches were detailed and to scale because building a staircase on steep terrain leaves little room for error. Same for your success plan. With your vision in mind, chart a course. Make it as exact as you can, but be open to revising your blueprint as conditions change and opportunities arise.

Be direct:

It would seem natural when building a staircase to simply go from bottom to top in measured steps. But considerations and complications arise. Do you need a platform at the top, a concrete base at the bottom, a landing in the middle? Likewise for success: Are there necessary bends or detours for education, training, or strategic partnerships? Figure out the most direct route with the fewest steps. Then build that path.

Build on strong foundations:

Henry David Thoreau wrote that, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” I interpret that as meaning that dreams of success can only be made real when built on solid ground and with strong foundations. Anchor your success staircase firmly and your climb will be more surefooted. Your foundations for success could include training and skills development, a core team of strategic referral partners, a solid business plan and professional marketing.

Measure twice, cut once:

This is probably one of the fundamental tenets of carpentry. Taking an extra measure of care up front can save time and yield better results throughout your project (or throughout your journey to success). But beware of paralysis by analysis. The endless pursuit of perfection can scuttle your success.

Make sure your connections are strong:

My staircase is solid, man, solid. Not only did we sink support posts in concrete for the frame, we also used heavy-duty connectors, bolts and screws. Likewise in your quest for business success, you’ll want to make the best connections possible. Determine your best networks of prospects and align yourself with strong strategic partners. Help others succeed and they will gladly help you in return (especially if you ask).

Work with manageable steps:

Staircases are more easily built and scaled when the steps are reasonably sized and spaced. For success, know where you are going and be steadfast in your determination; but also be patient and deliberate. Rejoice in reaching milestones along the way, and use those achievements to energize you for the next part of your journey.

Install support rails:

Climbing the staircase of success (it’s not a ladder after all, is it?) will be easier if you have handrails to lean on. These can include your support networks of friends, family and associates; but they can also include your website, your branding, your marketing tools, your staff, your suppliers and customers. Install them firmly. You’ll need them.

The Bottom Line:

Success is a journey, but it is also a staircase that you will build and climb and build some more. But don’t be so focused on the construction that you don’t enjoy the climb. Take time to feel the sun and the rain and the wind on your skin, the boards beneath your toes. You’re a nudist, after all. What good is success if you can’t undress and de-stress?

Bob

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