Speak and you shall find…

I recently attended a friend’s wedding in Berlin. It was a wonderful day and in the evening it was time for the obligatory speeches. The groom chose to give his speech in German, the language of his bride, rather than in his native tongue, and it was delivered in such a heartfelt, sincere and seemingly confident way that everyone in the room hung on his every word (regardless of whether they spoke German). He later told me that he had practised intensively every day beforehand and had worked hard on delivering his speech in a competent fashion. It paid off!

I learned a lot from this experience. As business owners, at some time or other, we all have to speak in public to some degree – for example when delivering a sales pitch or giving a presentation – and we all have nerves and some stage-fright (which by the way come with talent, as a famous actress used to say). So here’s what I learned from my friend:

1)    Preparation is the name of the game. As the old kung fu wisdom goes: “It is better to sweat in practice than to bleed in battle.” If you’re going to speak in public, do your homework first. Find out who will be in the audience and what makes them tick. How can you appeal to them? What’s in it for them? 

2)    Learn as much as you can by heart and just stick to a few key points on a card (or slide). Too much text inhibits your delivery and you’ll lose valuable eye-contact with your listeners. Learning at least the first two sentences of your speech by heart is a winner every time and acts as a springboard to get you on your way. 

3)    Be you. What’s your USP? Authenticity can’t be learned. Sincerity can’t be faked well. If you’re saying words you can relate to, in a style that reflects how you normally speak, rather than trying to use too many difficult words and pepper your speech with jargon, you’ll come across as real. This authenticity will then rub off onto your brand and people will connect better with you. People buy from people. (However, be careful with opening jokes in a multi-cultural environment; sometimes people don’t share the same brand of humour.) 

4)    Speaking at safe environments such as family gatherings can be a valuable training ground. You can practise reaching the whole room with your voice (always speak from your diaphragm and take deep breaths before you start). 

5)    Ask for feedback afterwards. (My friend did this too). As Jack Canfield says: “Feedback is the breakfast of champions”.

 6)    And finally my own personal tip: Visualize your speech going well. Successful footballers, for example, visualize the ball hitting the back of the net before they strike a penalty. So run the film first. This positively programmes the brain and you’re more likely to attract a positive experience. 

Good luck!

My New Year mindset

First of all a very Happy New Year to you, loyal blog reader, and all the very best for the coming 12 months!

A lot is being written on the subject of resolutions and goals at the moment, as the beginning of a new year is always the perfect time to harness the dynamic of change. Now that the Christmas decorations have been put away, the last of the party food consumed and normal work begins again in earnest, we are all filled with good intentions to make 2014 our best year yet.

For a positive momentum this January, I would like to share some tips with you from one of my favourite gurus, Robin Sharma. For a successful start to 2014, Robin recommends the following points which I have summarized here:

1) Protect your mindset
Everything begins with belief. Believe you can make this your best year yet. Clean out all toxic influences that diminish your happiness such as unhealthy TV (e.g. watching depressing new stories last thing at night) and remove yourself from toxic people who don’t make you feel good about yourself, whilst surrounding yourself with excellent ones. Spend time on doing things that matter and elevate you.

2) Prepare to win the night before
Develop a nightly ritual of 30 minutes in which you plan your next day. Then, in your journal, write the top 3 lessons your day has taught you and then list 3 positive things that happened to you that day. End your day with gratitude.

3) Focus on your single biggest opportunity for the first 90 days.
Decide to focus on being great at one thing rather than just good at many for the first 3 months of this year.
—————————————————————–

So, just as Louise Hay says “How you start your day is how you live your day”, I firmly believe that how you start your year also determines how things will go for you in the time to come, i.e. whether you are choosing to live by design or default.
I hope some of the above tips resonate with you. Have a wonderful 2014 and see you again soon.

Simple, but true – the most important thing

No matter how busy you are running your successful business, just stop for a moment, take a deep breath and read on…

The most important thing is BEING happy. It’s not about possessions or stuff, or fame and recognition for what you are doing. It’s the JOY of experiencing each new dawn, of being happy to wake up and say YES to the new day, being glad and thankful to be alive, the joy of loving life. It’s going through the day feeling happy and content, moving positively from moment to moment; living a life of rich, happy experiences, helping and serving others, making your unique contribution, whilst enjoying these moments wholeheartedly. Life is about joy and love.

Don’t get caught up in the treadmill, don’t make sacrifices to run your business. Say “no” if you need to. Make sure that when you close your eyes at the end of the day you can be content with what has passed and, in a spirit of trust, look forward to what the next day will bring. As Abraham Hicks puts it: “The standard of success in life isn’t the things. It isn’t the money or the stuff – It is absolutely the amount of joy you feel.”

Be busy but be happy, love Louise

The self-care checklist for entrepreneurs…and everyone else!

I found the following five self-care practices in Robin Sharma’s new book ‘The Saint, the Surfer & the CEO and have condensed them into a blog- friendly checklist ( with my own take on them) here:

1) Shift from complexity to simplicity

Ask yourself each day: How can I make my life simpler? From delegating unloved routine tasks to taking action on something right now, rather than procrastinating, can free us up some precious time to do the really rewarding stuff like speak to customers and definitely decrease stress levels!

2) Keep a daily practice of journaling

In this high- tech world of ours it is still very therapeutic to take out some pen and paper in th form of a notebook or journal and record, without judgement, whatever comes into our head. How did your day go? What are you grateful for? What did you learn today?

3) Make the time to have a ‘ silent retreat’ each day

This is a daily period of peace and can be as simple as closing your office door, transferring your calls to voicemail and savouring the view from your window for five minutes. Time to ‘ check in’ with your inner, wise self. Even some stretching, or just concentrating on your breathing. We can all find five minutes,right?

4) Commune with nature

Take time after work, for example, to have a walk in the woods or stroll on the beach or take your lunch to the local park for a change. Practice mindfullness and listen to the birds. Be one with th force that created you.

5) Nurture your body

Your body really is a temple. Stay as fit as you can. Take the stairs. Make informed choices about what you eat and drink. Have a massage. You deserve it!

Making time each day to do these five practices is a great act of self- care. It all sounds so simple, yet we busy folk often neglect ourselves and fall into the trap of living only for The Business. Even something as simple as baking a cake or a spot of gardening can centre us again and de- stress us.

Let me know what self-care means to you.

Til the next time,

Louise

P.S. Robin Sharma’s book ‘The Saint, The Surfer & the CEO’ is published by HAY HOUSE, 2013.

 

Accepting and Allowing – the double ‘A’s of running a business

Sometimes when running a business and hitting repeated stumbling blocks, it is important to stop and think about whether we are doing and believing something on a sub-conscious level that perpetuates these obstacles. This is where we can usually find the source of the problem.

Is there something you are not accepting? Is there something you are not allowing? Take a look at the points below. They not only impact on how we run our businesses but also on how we run our lives…

MY “DOUBLE A” RECOMMENDATIONS:

Accepting help when you are spending too much time in an area you are not so good at (like accounting, in my case). This will free you up for something you enjoy and are talented at, like sales and marketing or product design, thus exploiting your strengths and ultimately creating more revenue for your business.

Accepting that sometimes money/income comes to us through unexpected sources. When we set goals and act on them, we open channels to more prosperity. Allow things to come to you in ways you never imagined. Affirm: “I am a money magnet!”

Accepting that a ‘No’ from a customer can just be a ‘No, not today’ and letting go, so that another door can open.

Accepting that your employees are all different people and allowing them space to express their own creativity by creating a positive, uncluttered working environment and a caring atmosphere, without unconstructive criticism.

Accepting help so that you are not tempted to micro-manage. Micro-managing is limiting behavior. Through this you will limit the flow of good to your business. Delegate, delegate!

Allowing yourself some down-time and some quiet-time, to have that million-dollar idea in the first place. We live in a world of constant noise – smartphones, computers, televisions, mp3-players. Can we re-connect with silence and listen to the voice within? That’s one of the greatest resources we have.

Allowing yourself to fail sometimes. That’s how we grow. Get out of the victim role and ask yourself: “What did I do to bring about this situation and how can I avoid it in future?” Then accept that it happened and let it go.

Allow yourself to be successful and prosperous. People will still like you! Sometimes we are trapped by limiting beliefs we grew up with. Most people can finish the sentence “Money is the root of…..” without any problem. That is negative programming. See my last blog article on ‘Money Mindfulness’ for more on prosperity consciousness.

All the very best to you and your business!  Louise

The Mindful Money Audit

If you are starting up your own business, money will probably be one of your main concerns. For most people, maintaining the flow of capital to their business is a major challenge. Once possible grants and subsidies have been secured, and the first client is on board, things look rosy and that’s great; but if you don’t remain vigilant on money matters, you run the risk of ‘leaking’ money for no apparent reason later on…So how can we protect ourselves?

A lot has been written on the subject of money and how to make it. However, one of the biggest lessons I have had to learn as a business owner (and am still learning) is that how you THINK about money heavily influences how it flows to your business. So that is what I’m going to address here.

If you’re having financial trouble of any kind and/or your cash flow is suddenly limited, it’s time to do the following ‘mindful money audit’:

1)    Do you have any limiting views about money? By this I mean: Were you brought up to the tune of “money doesn’t grow on trees” or told that having a lot of money automatically meant being a bad, maybe even immoral, person?

How money was handled in the family when we were growing up can have a long-lasting impact (like the ripples on a pond when you throw a pebble) on how money flows to us in later life. Sometimes we are not even aware that this old “programming” is affecting us now until we stop and really think about it. Such negative beliefs will definitely impact on your profitability.

So what can we do?

Well, once you have identified any limiting beliefs, the best antidote is to start thinking differently. Start using affirmations – positive statements you can recite to yourself like a mantra: “It’s ok to have lots of money”. “Money and abundance flow freely to me”.

”I welcome money and all it brings into my life”

2)    Motivational speaker and author Cheryl Richardson says: “Money flows into our life when we become a good steward for the money that we already have”*.

How much of an overview do you have about your current and long-term financial situation? Is there anything you are trying hard to ignore?

Having an overview of incomings and outgoings at all times is essential, as is the elimination of debt and borrowing capital as soon as possible. If you’ve got debts to pay off, organize a timetable where you start paying these off at regular intervals. Don’t fear tax demands: Paying tax, like paying all bills, should be seen as proof of our own solvency. Think differently about such demands – welcome them and regularly affirm: “There is always enough money to pay everything I owe”.

3)    Finally, be vigilant about how you speak about money and money matters. Just like positive affirmations, making a negative statement out loud about your cash flow situation will reinforce any problems you are having. Instead, tell everyone you meet: “My business is a goldmine.” Avoid phrases like “Things are a bit tight at the moment” or “I’m never going to reach my targets…” These statements will weigh you down.

If you are interested in learning more about how positive thinking and speaking affect your financial well-being, as well as finding out how to make more money in general, you might like to take a look at the following books:

Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill

The Science of Getting Rich, Wallace D. Wattles

The Rules of Wealth, Richard Templar

Money and the Law of Attraction, Abraham Hicks

How to get from where you are to where you want to be, Jack Canfield

Til the next time, Stay profitable!

Louise

(*At the “You can have a wonderful life” Workshop in Hamburg, 03.03.13)

Why Vampires are good for books, but bad for business!

Although I do prefer to focus on the positive in my blog, I decided to devote this week’s article to one of the problem areas that new (and established) entrepreneurs may face.

Beware of ‘energy vampires’ – people who tell you things can’t be done or that you are not capable of doing something. Starting your own business is a big, courageous step to take and you may find that some people around you start projecting their own fears onto you and your venture, causing you to doubt yourself. They can show you blatant negativity, for example by saying: “You are crazy; one of my friends started their own business last year and barely made enough to live on. They had to take a part-time job just to pay the rent!”.

On the other hand ‘energy vampires’ can be very subtle:

When Robert and his business partner Karl moved their IT company into a larger office in their second year of business, they panicked and hired an administrative assistant because they thought they wouldn’t create the right impression without one. They suddenly had lovely new rooms, ringing telephones and postal deliveries to deal with and felt this warranted a third person to deal with the expansion. All went well for the first couple of weeks. Then, things started to change.

This particular P.A. would wrinkle her nose up at any suggestion Robert made that was out of the ordinary. She often gave her own opinion before tackling the task at hand and the opinion was usually that his suggestion wasn’t a good idea in her view. Imagine how destructive that can be to your motivation on a daily basis. Not to mention frustrating. Needless to say Robert and his assistant soon parted company. Robert and Karl now have a sign in their office that reads: “The one who says it can’t be done should not interrupt the person doing it”.

Robert told me: “We hired an assistant because people told us it was the right thing to do. We didn’t stop to think if we really needed one. We were feeding our ego. The fact that we hadn’t thought this through led to us attracting the wrong kind of candidate. It was a bad match for us and it poisoned the whole atmosphere for a while.”

So make sure you surround yourself with positive people. Seek out mentors and supporters who are happy and content with their lives. You will also find that ‘energy vampires’ or ‘toxic people’ disappear from your life anyway, the more you strike out affirmatively and confidently. Take decisions slowly and measure them against your personal beliefs and mission.

Remember: You don’t need anyone’s approval for your business venture, but your own.

And finally: Protect yourself from negativity in general. Watching the news on TV last thing at night or reading the newspaper in bed will have a negative impact on how you sleep. Instead, keep a notebook by your bed and write down what you are grateful for each day before you shut your eyes. Have a book of inspirational quotes handy or start compiling your own. Join a social network like “Twitter” and surround yourself with positive people who send inspiring and supportive quotations and messages on a daily, even hourly basis. Make sure your screensaver or wallpaper carries a positive image or message you can focus on throughout the day.

Good luck and leave the vampires to Hollywood…