Tips for coaching someone remotely

By Ed Batista

Source:   March 18, 2015.

Leaders are providing less explicit direction to their employees these days, and relying more on coaching as a leadership tool, as organizations become flatter and more dependent on knowledge work. But many people also manage teams that span locations and time zones, which means they must do at least some of their coaching virtually. While most of my coaching with clients and MBA students at Stanford is conducted face-to-face in the Bay Area, over the last decade I’ve worked with people across the U.S. and internationally, from Brazil to London to South Africa. Here are some guidelines for virtual coaching that I’ve found useful.

Don’t dictate the medium.

You may have a preference for phone or video, or your organization may rely on one more than the other. But for coaching conversations, it’s important that both parties choose what’s right for the situation, rather than have it dictated by you as the leader or by the organizational culture. In my experience, both phone and video can work well for coaching. One isn’t better than the other, but they are different, and it’s important to get a sense of which medium will work best for each relationship (this may change from call to call). Video can provide helpful visual context, but it can also be a distraction, particularly if there’s a poor internet connection. Try experimenting with both phone and video to see what works best with different employees.

E-mail can play a useful role in virtual coaching, but I recommend using it to augment phone or video conversations. I often e-mail my clients and students follow-up questions and links to readings and other resources, but it’s much less useful for in-the-moment coaching. Text and chat provide a sense of immediate connection, but it’s difficult to use them to convey anything more complex than basic information.

Location still matters.

The physical setting can have a significant impact on the success of a coaching conversation. When I’m coaching clients and students in person, we meet in a place that will allow for privacy and minimize distractions. This can take many forms, from a reserved conference room to a long walk around the placid Stanford campus. Because it’s far more difficult to pick up interpersonal cues when working virtually, it’s even more important to ensure that both you and the other person are in a private, comfortable space where you won’t be interrupted.

Focus, focus, focus.

Effective coaching in any setting requires focused attention on the other person. That can be tough when we’re coaching virtually, because of the pervasiveness of multitasking. A virtual coaching conversation is a special kind of interaction — very different from a typical conference call or online meeting, where we can often just partly tune in and still get the gist. When we’re coaching, the most important details are easy to miss. If we allow ourselves to become distracted, we’ll be less likely to notice things like a subtle change in someone’s facial expression or tone of voice, or an unusual turn of phrase that may signify something more. We may also fail to monitor our own emotional responses and instincts, which are vital sources of data. Even worse, others can sense when our attention wanders, leaving them reluctant to discuss truly important issues.

Get the right equipment.

Investing in better technical gear can dramatically improve the virtual coaching experience. One of the clients I work with via video is a CEO who leads a virtual financial services firm. Almost all of his employees are spread out across the country, and they do most of their collaboration online. His home office is equipped with high-quality webcams, monitors, and microphones that give him a vivid virtual presence. Our video coaching sessions aren’t quite as high-definition as real life, but they’re close.

Even small investments in equipment can go a long way. I worked with a CEO who had a slight speech impediment that made it difficult for me to understand him over the phone. We had no problems communicating when we met in person, but most of our work was going to be virtual, so I bought the kind of immersive headset that’s used by video-gamers, which allowed me to understand him perfectly. I also have an external microphone and speakers so that when I’m working with clients via video I don’t have to rely on my laptop components.

Manage the time.

In most meetings, including phone calls and video conferences, the discussion goes right up until the end of the allotted time, at which point we rapidly conclude and move on to the next meeting. This is another way in which coaching conversations are different: It’s part of your job, as the coach, to track time during the conversation — I usually set a timer to minimize distractions — and stop at a point you’ve agreed on in advance.

It’s hard to tell where coaching conversations will end up. They tend to be more wide-ranging than typical meetings, which makes them more meaningful and valuable. But this also means you’ll want to leave some time between the end of the session and the next event on the calendar. This enables both you and the person you’re coaching to reflect on the conversation and deepen the learning. Coaching conversations can also bring up strong emotions, and it’s essential to leave time to process those emotions. Even a few minutes can make a substantial difference, helping both you and the person you’re coaching get the most out of the experience.

7 tips for staying balanced in business and life (

By Lewis Howes

Source: March 25, 2015

As an entrepreneur, one of the most important things you can do for your success is establish an effective life-business balance. When I started my business I ate, slept and breathed work. From my career as an athlete I knew the value of hustle and hard work. So I set my mind to building something successful and in turn it became all I thought about 24/7. In the meantime, my health suffered. My relationships became strained. I was anxious and distracted. It was about the time I realized I had gained an extra 30 pounds that I knew I needed to do something different.

You don’t need to figure it out the hard way like I did. Take into consideration these tips while you are setting up the structure of your business. I have found that I am more effective and productive when I take the extra time to follow a regimen of self care and life-business balance.

It may take some tweaking for you to find the right prescription, but here are some of the things that are working for me.

  1. Stay healthy.

It’s hard to inspire and enroll others when you aren’t healthy. No matter what kinds of sales you’re bringing in, if you’re not taking care of your body, it’s not sustainable. Put self-care high up on your priority list. Exercise, eat right.

  1. Meditate.  

Meditation is massive. Since I started practicing this regularly again, my anxiety, focus and productivity have all improved. Plus it’s really helpful when you’re managing a lot of stuff.

Don’t worry about doing it the “right” way. There are plenty of methods so keep trying till you find one you enjoy. It should be restorative — some people just follow their breathing and others use guided meditation. If you have a very busy and anxious mind, I recommend starting with a guided track

  1. Be clear on your vision.

Most of the problems people have with getting what they want come from lack of clarity. Figure that out first. Then go after it.

Maybe you aren’t clear on your vision yet. If that is the case I recommend writing down what your perfect day would look like. What is it that you ultimately want to feel each day? Remember that you don’t have to have perfection to start, just go in the direction of your dreams and take it one step at a time.

  1. Be discerning.

Know that some opportunities are just distractions in disguise. There are way too many good things to go after these days. Keep focused on your mission and say no to pretty much everything else.

  1. Stay positive.  

Replace negative self-talk with gratitude. This is a huge issue for most of us, but you have the power to free yourself from the cycle of beating yourself up. Start practicing gratitude every time you want to criticize yourself. We waste more time worrying or complaining about something than it would take to just handle it.

  1. Rest and restore.   

No matter how hard you push, you are going to hit a wall if you don’t take care of your mind and body. So much of what my guests and I talk about on The School of Greatness podcast is how to show up. There’s no way around it. If you want to be great, you have to show up, make connections happen, and then follow up. This is a huge part of my own success.

But equally important is the opposite — resting up. This includes unplugging for a weekend, from your phone and social media. Your body and soul need to recharge. Go outside and be in nature. Sleep. Read a book. Take a leisurely stroll with no destination in mind. These are the down times you need in order to stay focused when it is “go” time again.

  1. Fill up your cup.  

Having said that, you absolutely need to make time for fun, family, friends and fulfillment. It is no good being a lone ranger. Set your office hours and do your best to adhere to them while taking regular time out to unplug. Play your guitar that’s gathering dust, or pull out the old tennis racket for a match. Take a walk on the beach.

Just remember, you are a human being not a human doing. The more balance you have in your business and life, the more successful you will be

10 ways to successfully manage virtual teams (

By Rocco Baldassarre

Source: March 24, 2015

If you are managing one or more virtual teams, you are not alone. The Workforce 2020 survey claimed that 83 percent of executives plan to increase use of consultants or intermittent employees over the next three years. Virtual teams can be a challenge to manage because one needs to create a corporate culture remotely.

Here are 10 strategies to successfully build a virtual team that can be implemented instantly.

  1. Define work systems.

Different people have different ways of going about tasks. Setting standards can shorten the time needed to achieve the desired result. By setting standards and defining repeatable work systems, the team has generally less questions and gets a feeling for how long certain tasks should take. These work systems need to be both standardized to allow for maximum effectiveness and tailored to allow the necessary freedom to complete the task at the best of one’s ability.

  1. Establish multiple communication tools.

The benefits of establishing multiple communication tools is two-fold. First of all, your team has a way to communicate something that is urgent to the right person immediately. Secondly, it unifies processes such as what to use for conference calls, screen recordings, and so on. It is clear what tool is used for what, which contributes to creating that internal feeling of togetherness.

  1. Schedule regular meetings.

Scheduling briefings at the same time on the same weekday contributes to creating a routine. Routines provide the team with something they are used to and familiar with. That in return puts the team at ease and reduces stress. Video calls are one of the best ways to maximize efficiency because they recreate the routine office feeling remote teams are missing out on.

  1. Have clear and detailed deliverables.

Simply telling somebody to do something is usually not the popular way to go about managing teams. Micro-managing isn’t either which is why some managers avoid giving instructions with too many details.

Based on my experience, it is better to provide more detailed descriptions of the tasks with examples of what the final result should look like. Give the team the freedom to execute it than less instructions and having to deal with potential misunderstandings.

  1. Make sure work hours overlap.

Regardless of what time zones your team members are in, it is recommendable to have at least three to four hours a day where most of the team is online at the same time. Even if some of the team members are unlikely to need each other to complete their tasks, being online at the same time brings the team closer together and is the quickest problem solving solution there is.

  1. Create a professional work environment.

Professional attire and a distraction-free work environment are part of any corporate culture. Additionally, setting professional standards contributes to being efficient and puts people in the right mindset.

  1. Choose (video) calls over chatting and emails.

With Skype and email being available at everyone’s fingertips, it is tempting to chat and send a quick email whenever there is something to discuss. This can easily lead to misunderstandings. With virtual teams, video calls or at least regular calls are more than a way to avoid misunderstandings. They connect the team members on a more personal level.

  1. Find the right people to work with.

Not everyone is cut out for remote work and not everyone fits the team personality-wise. There are quite a few professional personality tests out there, and they can be a great way to determine whether someone is the right fit is still to ask yourself whether you are sure about that person or not. If you are not, it is usually best to move on to the next candidate. Additionally, double checking all references is a must to make sure you know as much as possible what you are getting yourself into.

  1. Establish a meritocratic system.

Meritocracy — or the process of rewarding and recognizing people based on their skills — stimulates people to work harder and better. Make sure to set up reward systems to keep your team motivated and to better pinpoint the team members that can take on more responsibility.

  1. Use project management tools.

Project management tools can be ideal to keep track of deadlines. They also send alerts and reminders for deadlines and give you a quick daily, weekly or monthly overview of what needs to be done, by who, and when. Things like Google Docs can still be a great addition and the same is valid for time tracking applications.

7 ways to build rock-solid relationships with your investors (

By Falon Fatemi

Source: March 12, 2015

When financing is the only thing holding your startup back from stardom, your heart might be set on hooking an investor and running off to make your dreams a reality.

With investors, however, a deal is never truly done. Just because you wooed an investor doesn’t mean you won’t need him or her again in the future. In fact, these individuals may offer incredible business acumen and resources that can get your business on the right track. If all goes well, you’ll be connected to with other projects or partnerships in the future. And if all doesn’t go well, an investor who thinks highly of you may provide guidance for — or even back — your next venture.

While you and your investor may not be soul mates, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a productive relationship. As an entrepreneur, it’s your responsibility to strengthen ties with investors to position your current and future ventures for success.

Here are seven strategies to help you build and maintain strong relationships with investors:

  1. Recognize their value beyond finances.

Never select an investor based solely on funding. Investors are invaluable mentors who can accelerate your business. Acknowledge the relationships and expertise investors bring to the table by giving them a voice. An example: A short while back, an investor emailed me about an issue his friend was having with our app. We did some research and found that it did indeed affect some of our customers. Only with my investor’s personal involvement were we able to identify and resolve the problem early.

  1. Listen to their underlying concerns.

Investors want your business to succeed just as much as you do. Encourage open, clear dialogue so you can learn more about the risks your investors are willing to take, the ones they’ll balk at and the reasoning behind these decisions. Only then will you truly understand your investors’ concerns.

  1. Share your passions and convictions.

Investors aren’t just investing in your idea; they’re investing in you. Nothing scares them more than an entrepreneur who’s going through the motions and constantly seeking direction and reassurance. Communicate your passion for your company and what it stands for from the start. They’ll respect you more for it.

  1. Set clear expectations at the beginning.

You and your investors need to be on the same page about vision, scale of growth and potential exit plans. Setting these expectations can save both sides disappointment and frustration later on.

  1. Communicate wins and challenges frequently.

While most investors don’t want to be involved in your company’s day-to-day business operations, they appreciate updates on your progress and take pride in your company’s success. Beyond formal key performance indicators, they’ll be thrilled to hear about new partnerships, exciting deals or noteworthy new customers. Provide both good and bad information promptly so your investors have time to plan, scale quickly and come up with alternate strategies.

  1. Consider hiring a professional mediator.

Whether you and your investor come from different states or different parts of the world, cultural differences can create huge barriers to communication. If this is the case, consider hiring a professional who can hear both sides objectively and facilitate clear communication.

  1. Be authentic and respectful.

A solid relationship is rooted in authenticity and respect. Don’t be afraid to break out of the business rhetoric and interact with your investor on a personal level. When I spent Russian Christmas and New Year’s one year with our overseas investors, we got to know one another more intimately; these partnerships then naturally evolved into more productive business relationships.

Investing in your venture isn’t a “fund it and forget it” scenario for any investor. In fact, investors will grow wary when there’s too much silence. Share plenty of small wins, and keep communication strong. If you set the tone for a mutually beneficial relationship, your investors will feel confident in your abilities and be more willing to invest in you in the future.

In sum, as with every relationship, you’re bound to reach a crossroads with your investor at some point. Growing, going public and failing are huge tests for entrepreneur-investor relationships. If you don’t prepare to work through these challenges now, they could lead to a messy breakup and ill will later.

8 musts to start your business with little to no capital (

By Jonathan Long

Source:   September 03, 2014

Entrepreneurs will often have amazing business ideas, but they put them on hold due to a lack of capital. They assume that their idea will never get far off the ground unless they have major funding behind them.  It seems that every day there is a new startup receiving millions of dollars from venture capital firms, but what you don’t hear about is the several startup failures that burn through millions of dollars only to fizzle out and shut their doors forever.

If your idea and plan of execution aren’t well thought out from the beginning, no amount of money can turn it into a winner. Have a great idea but very little money? Don’t let that stop you! Yes, there will be ridiculously long days with little to no sleep. Yes, you are going to be stressed. But those that want it bad enough will make it.

Here are eight tips that can help you get your idea off the ground with limited funds.

1. Build your business around what you know.

Instead of venturing off into uncharted territory, make sure that you build your business around your skills and knowledge. The less you have to rely on outside sources the better. When your business is built around your own personal expertise you can eliminate consultants and outside assistance.

Also, having that knowledge is sometimes all that is needed to successfully take the plunge into entrepreneurship.

2. Tell everyone you know what you are doing.

Inform your family, friends, business contacts and past colleagues about your new business. Call, send emails and make your new venture known on your social-media profiles. Your friends and family members can help you spread the word, and past business contacts can introduce your brand to their professional contacts as well. This type of grassroots marketing can help introduce your company to a much larger audience.

3. Avoid unnecessary expenses.

You are going to have plenty of expenses, and there are some that just can’t be avoided. What you can avoid though is overspending. Take something as simple as business cards. You could drop $1,000 on 500 metal business cards that give off the “cool” factor, or you could spend $10 on 500 traditional business cards. Being frugal in the beginning can be the difference between success and a failed business.

4. Don’t get buried in credit card debt.

There is a smart way and a suicidal way to use credit when starting a business. New computers, office furniture, phones and supplies can all quickly add up. Instead of purchasing everything at once and throwing it all on a credit card, use your company’s revenue to finance your expenses. Eliminating the stress and burden of debt will greatly increase the chances of creating a successful business.

5. Make sure your receivables policy won’t sink you.

If your business is a retail operation then this isn’t going to apply, but if you are providing services such as consulting or products to retailers you need to make sure that your payment policy is well thought out. Can you remain above water with net-15 or net-30 terms? Don’t base your receivables on what you think your customers will want. Base them on what is going to make your business operate successfully

6. Build up sweat equity.

When I first started my business I worked around the clock, handling every aspect of the business as well as the marketing and growth. All of the hard work and long days that you put in isn’t for nothing. You are building a brand and your hard work is essentially increasing the value of your business. Your sweat equity will come into play if you ever decide to sell off a piece of your company or take on a partner.

7. Take advantage of free advertising and marketing.

There are several ways to generate a buzz for your business without breaking the bank. Social media is a great way to gain exposure and interact with potential customers. You can also reach out to local media and offer your expertise. Make as many local media contacts as you can and be extremely responsive with their requests. This can lead to them to branding you as the local authority, generating plenty of free press for your business.

8. Get ready to hustle.

Hard work is an absolute necessity, but when you are starting a business with little to no capital then you must be prepared to dedicate everything you have into making the business a success. This might mean cold calling, handling customer support, dealing with billing and accounting, and every other working part of your business. You will wear many hats and it will require the majority of your time and energy if you are to make it.

Don’t let limited capital prevent you from taking a great idea and running with it. Will it be difficult and will you have some stressful situations? Of course, but that is part of entrepreneurship.

The 7 rules to successful presentations

By Steve Knight

Source: February 10, 2014

Type “presentation skills tips” into Google and you’ll return around 73 million hits. There’s a lot of advice out there about what makes a great presentation. I’d like to focus instead on what makes a presentation great. There’s a very subtle difference and it centers on you, the person doing the presenting, because you need to be the Captain of the ship. A lot is written about putting on a mask of “confidence” to help you deliver a great performance, but the real secret is this…

It’s not about becoming someone that you’re not by donning a mask, it’s about allowing and authorising yourself to become who you are truly capable of being. This is the key to taking the stress out of all areas of communication. Don’t try to be like anyone else when you present; in fact don’t present at all. Instead be consciously aware of your presence. This will ensure that you focus instead on being the best possible you. The more authentic and comfortable you are, the more relaxed you will be. This in turn means that your audience will relax with you and be able to sit back and fully focus on connecting with you and your message.

Here are: The 7 Rules to Successful Communication

They apply across the many layers of physical communication. Whether you are in a small meeting, at a job interview, or delivering a keynote speech at a large conference… and anything else in between. The core theory here being that the context should not determine your behavior. The same genuine, authentic YOU should show up in all situations. You may adopt different tactics, but the very core, the very heart of YOU and who YOU are remains as constant at the North Star…

1: Assess your audience.

It’s not about what you want to say to them, it’s about what they need to hear from you in order to be inspired and motivated by your message. There is no such thing as just information. Your information needs to be accurate and relevant to your audience. It needs to strike a chord. It needs to matter.

2: Bring the air of Positivity and Gratefulness into the space.

No one wants to listen to a cup is half empty, downward spiral, negative orientated person. Remember, you have a choice about how you show up. You are ultimately in control of your feelings and emotions.

3: Diaphragmatic

Breathing leads to great Voice Projection, because it ensures we create powerful energy with our breath to vibrate our vocal cords. It is that efficient vibration of the vocal cords that brings quality, gravitas and power to our voice.

4: Body language

Make purposeful eye contact with your audience and direct your body language towards them. Ensure your facial expression is congruent with your message. Make it your goal to build connection and trust.

5: Voice Visualisation

Bring your words to life by properly conveying the meaning behind them. If you are talking about something that is positive make it sound positive. If you are talking about something shocking make it sound shocking. Don’t flatline with your voice. You have a duty to lift your words off the page. The art of storytelling works in all business presentations.

6: Leadership Presence

Think of your all time favourite leader and communicator. When you see and hear them speak or see a photo of them what images and feelings come to life for you. What is their brand? What do they stand for? What is their legacy? Then ask yourself those same questions about yourself. Start to live and breathe and broadcast the qualities you admire and aspire to. Again, allow and authorise yourself to become who you are truly capable of being.

7: No Death by PowerPoint

If you choose to use slides, use photos and images… the bigger the better. A picture paints a thousand words. Their are two purposes that slides serve… a) to help your audience understand your message quicker and b) to help your audience retain the information for longer. So, if you choose to use slides (and who says you have to?), use them wisely and creatively and absolutely ensure they are uncluttered. Keep your bullet points to one line only wherever you can and ensure that you have no more than 6 or 7 bullets per slide. Use bullet build “Appear” NOT the default of “Fly in from the bottom” so you click the presenter mouse to reveal the bullet when you are ready. Click, reveal, embellish. This stops your audience reading ahead of you, marries what you are saying with what appears on the screen, keeps you on track and on message and ensures that you remain the Captain of the ship.

Science says people decide these 9 things within seconds of meeting you

By Drake Baer

Source: February 17, 2015.

Psychologists call it “thin slicing.”

Within moments of meeting people, you decide all sorts of things about them, from status to intelligence to promiscuity.

Here are nine of those instant decisions people make:

  1. If you’re trustworthy

People decide on your trustworthiness in a tenth of a second. Princeton researchers found this out by giving one group of university students 100 milliseconds to rate the attractiveness, competence, likeability, aggressiveness, and trustworthiness of actors’ faces. Members of another group were able to take as long as they wanted. While other traits differed depending on time spent looking, trustworthiness was basically the same.

  1. If you’re high-status

A Dutch study found that people wearing name-brand clothes — Lacoste and Tommy Hilfiger, to be precise — were seen as higher status than folks wearing non-designer clothes. “Perceptions did not differ on any of the other dimensions that might affect the outcome of social interactions,” the authors wrote. “There were no differences in perceived attractiveness, kindness, and trustworthiness.”

Just status.

  1. If you’re straight or gay

People can read a man’s sexual orientation in a twentieth of a second — the minimum amount of time it takes to consciously recognize a face.

“The rapid and accurate perception of male sexual orientation may be just another symptom of a fast and efficient cognitive mechanism for perceiving the characteristics of others,” wrote study authors Nicholas O. Rule and Nalini Ambady.

  1. If you’re smart

A 2007 study led by Loyola Marymount University professor Nora A. Murphy found that looking your conversation partner in the eye was huge for your perceived smartness. “Looking while speaking was a key behavior,” she wrote. “It significantly correlated with IQ, was successfully manipulated by impression-managing targets, and contributed to higher perceived intelligence ratings.“

Wearing thick glasses and speaking expressively helps, too.

  1. If you’re promiscuous

A British study found that women with visible tattoos were perceived as less attractive, heavier drinkers, and more promiscuous than females without any ink — which owes to stereotypes about women with tattoos. “In Britain, at least, tattooing among women is often associated with ‘ladette’ culture, the female equivalent of ‘lad’ culture, which typically involves a proclivity for alcoholic beverages, sports, fast cars, and a plethora of men’s magazines,” the authors wrote.

  1. If you’re dominant

Bald isn’t just beautiful; it’s powerful.  A University of Pennsylvania study found that “men with shaved heads were rated as more dominant than similar men with full heads of hair,” and that “men whose hair was digitally removed were perceived as more dominant, taller, and stronger than their authentic selves.“

So if it’s starting to go, shave it off.

  1. If you’re successful

If you want to look successful, get it tailored.  In a British-Turkish study, participants looked at photos of men in tailored versus off-the-peg suits for just five seconds, with the guys in tailored suits rated as more successful. “On the evidence of this study it appears men may be advised to purchase clothing that is well-tailored, as it can positively enhance the image they communicate to others,” the authors wrote.

  1. If you’re on your way to a promotion

It’s not just status — it’s earnings potential, too. In a 2011 Canadian study, university students were shown photos of male models dressed in either business or casual attire. They were then asked questions about how that guy would perform in a variety of jobs. The results were stark: Not only were the crisply dressed dudes expected to make more money, they were expected to get promoted more rapidly.

  1. If you’re adventurous

People don’t just read into who you are from your appearance, but also from the way you move. In a Durham University study, students were shown video clips of 26 other students walking — some with looser gaits, some tighter.

Just a few steps were needed to give a sense of personality. Students equated looser gaits with extroversion and adventurousness, while the more clipped walkers were seen as neurotic.

10 behaviors that you never see in successful people

By Steve Tobak

Source: February 9, 2015.

When you spend decades working with executives and business leaders, you really can’t help but observe what works and doesn’t work over the long haul. One thing I’ve noticed, it’s not intrinsic characteristics or personal habits that determine whether you’re successful or not. It’s your behavior. What do I mean by “behavior?” How you react under long-term stress. Whether you meet your commitments or not. How you interact with others. Your attitude toward customers. How hard you’re willing to work to do the job right. Whether you’re focused and disciplined or scattered and distracted. That sort of thing.

Now, I admit to having known some pretty dysfunctional founders and CEOs who did well for themselves for a time. But sooner or later, usually when the pressure is on and things aren’t going so well, they exhibit self-destructive behavior that bites them in the ass. Sadly, they often take their businesses down with them.  If you want to make it big over the long-term, you might want to take a good, hard look in the mirror and see if any of these career-limiting behaviors describe you.


Granted, we all start out sort of wide-eyed and gullible, but the sooner you convert that to savvy and skeptical, the better your chances of coming out on top. The reason is simple: suckers and fools don’t win. Learn to question everything you read and hear and always consider the source.


High-pressure situations are common in the business world. Things almost never go according to plan and oftentimes they go terribly wrong. It comes with the territory. If you can’t override your adrenaline response and remain calm in a crisis, you’re sort of screwed.


Passion is a big success driver, but when you cross that line and become over-the-top fanatical, that works against you. I’ve seen it time and again. It leads to a skewed perception of reality, flawed reasoning, and bad decision-making.


Those who are driven to achieve great things also know one fundamental truth: It takes hard work over the long haul. That’s why they’re always so focused and disciplined. Most people are slackers. That’s why most people don’t achieve great things. Simple as that.

Quick-fix mentality

Steve Jobs said, “Half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance” and if you’re not passionate about what you do, you won’t stick with it. Too many people want instant gratification these days. That’s not going to cut it.

Acting out

Whatever feelings you have trouble dealing with – jealousy, shame, inferiority, entitlement – transferring them to people you work with and acting out in anger won’t just make you and everyone around you miserable, it’ll kill your career, too.


If you act like the world revolves around you, you’d better have the talent to back it up. Even so, being overly self-centered will diminish your effectiveness. Business isn’t about you; it’s about business. It’s about your customers’ experience with your products. Remember who serves whom in the relationship.

Living in the past or future

Granted, we can learn from the past, but dwelling on it is self-destructive. Likewise, you can plan for and dream about the future, but if your actions aren’t focused on the present, you’ll never achieve your plans or your dreams.

Lighthearted indifference

You hear phrases like “whatever works,” “it’s all good,” and “no worries” a lot lately but you’ll rarely hear them from highly accomplished people. They may be a lot of things but apathetic is not one of them.


If you’re so thin-skinned that any criticism makes you crazy and every little thing offends you, you’re going to have a rough go of it in the real business world. There’s a good reason why business leaders usually have a good sense of humor and humility. It’s sort of a requirement. Don’t take yourself so seriously.

One last thing. If any of this offends you enough to want to write an angry flame comment, you’ve got at least two or three issues to work on. Then again, look at the bright side. At least you’re not indifferent.

10 questions to ask when collecting customer data (Entrepreneurship)

By Lanchance Shandrow

Source:, November 2, 2014

When your customers disclose their personal and financial information to you, they’re taking a leap of faith that you won’t lose, abuse or otherwise mess with it — accidentally or not. Your customers don’t want you to spam them every two minutes, hawk their info to third parties or, worse, expose it to cyber attackers. Get up to speed with these 10 essential questions to consider before you ask your customers anything:

  1. I don’t have time to get anything from my customers but their money. Do I really need to collect data from them, too? 

Without customers, you wouldn’t be in business. Knowing who they are and what they want, particularly from you, can lead to more effective marketing, increased brand loyalty and the holy grail — more sales. “Collecting customer data helps you know each customer more individually and treat them that way,” says Jeff Tanner, professor of marketing at Baylor University and director of the school’s “Business Collaboratory.” And the info you glean from them can empower you to “craft offers that increase purchase rates at higher margins while also delivering better value to the customers because they’re getting things they want,” he says.

  1. What types of personal data should I collect and why?

Start with the basics, such as customer names and mailing and email addresses. These allow you to personalize your communications with them, directly market to them and follow up with them if there’s a problem with their order. Other data points to collect for an overall demographic snapshot are age, profession and gender. As you develop trust with your customers, Tanner suggests going deeper and asking them for certain psychographic data points, like details about their personalities, values and lifestyles.

  1. What types of transactional data should I collect and why? 

Recording and analyzing each customer’s transaction history — what they purchase from you, when and how often — helps you know which products and services to offer them in the future. Companies like Amazon, and Zappos are some of the best at this powerful marketing practice, also known as “basket analysis,” automatically delivering sometimes impressively personalized product recommendations based on past purchases.

  1. What are the best ways to collect customer data?

You can start by accumulating customer data every time they interact with your company — on the phone or in online chat with customer service, in-store with a salesperson or via online survey or contest, Tanner says. It’s important to note, though, that the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 prohibits procuring email addresses from certain online sources, including blogs and internet chat rooms, without the permission of site users and owners.

  1. How should I organize and store it?

Once you obtain the customer data you want, dumping it into a basic Excel spreadsheet won’t do you much good. The best, most time- and cost-effective way to store, track and make sense of customer data, Tanner says, is to use an all-in-one customer relationship management (CRM) solution.  He suggests trying CRM packages for entrepreneurs from Pipeliner ($30 per month with a 30-day free trial), Zoho ($12 to $35 per month with a 15-day free trial) or Teradata (prices available by contacting Teradata sales).

  1. How can I best protect my customers’ personal and financial data?

Encrypting all of your customers’ data is your first step in safeguarding it. This includes their names, email and physical addresses, credit card numbers, spending habits, social media logins and any other sensitive data points you’re privy to. Best practices for data encryption vary from industry to industry. If you hire a third-party to collect and store your customer data for you, be sure that they use the highest encryption standards available.

  1. How can I be sure what I’m doing is legal?  

All that’s legally required of you when collecting customer data is to create a customer information privacy policy and give your customers access to it, Tanner says. In an ideal world, your privacy policy should closely follow the Federal Trade Commission’s Fair Information Practice Principles, which are guidelines for securely collecting electronic consumer data, though they aren’t enforceable by law. You also have to allow your customers to opt out of receiving marketing material from you.

  1. Should I sell my customer’s information to third-party marketers?

“If they use data to have an intelligent conversation that includes relevant offers, then they become a preferred partner. You might be able to sell access to your customer list, but no customer will want to stay with you once they figure that out.”  If you decide to sell customer data to third parties, clearly say so in your privacy policy.

  1. What’s the best way to benefit from the customer data I collect? 

Leveraging it to offer added value to your customer is the biggest advantage. Customer data helps you paint a clear picture of who your target customer is and how to best communicate with, advertise and market to them. When you know your ideal customer better and really understand their needs and wants, you can better craft offers to entice them, which should in turn boost sales.

  1. What are some common mistakes to avoid?

Perhaps the worst in the bunch, Tanner says, is asking for too much at one time and overwhelming your customers. Other common faux pas Tanner suggests steering clear of are not using the data at all and making assumptions about customers based on collecting transactional data only.

7 scientifically proven ways to achieve better success in life (Inc.)

By Christina Desmarais

Source: January 20, 2015.

Success is a subjective notion, if there ever was one. But for simplicity’s sake, let’s assume the higher you are on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the better you’re doing. In case you don’t remember the levels from Psych 101, essentially, people can’t be their best possible selves (self-actualization) until lower-level needs are met first. In other words, you can’t be an ideal version of yourself if you don’t have enough food and money to pay the bills, or enough love and esteem to feel good about your value as a human being. So, what can you do to move yourself up the pyramid?

Check out the findings from several studies, which shine a light on what it takes to achieve more in life.

Increase your confidence by taking action.

Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of The Confidence Code, wrote a stellar article for The Atlantic on this subject. Highlighting scads of studies that have found that a wide confidence gap exists between the sexes, they point out that success is just as dependent on confidence as it is on competence. Their conclusion? Low confidence results in inaction. “Taking action bolsters one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed,” they write. “So confidence accumulates–through hard work, through success, and even through failure.”

Broaden your definition of authenticity.

Authenticity is a much sought-after leadership trait, with the prevailing idea being that the best leaders are those who self-disclose, are true to themselves, and who make decisions based on their values. Yet in a recent Harvard Business Review article titled “The Authenticity Paradox,” Instead professor Herminia Ibarra discusses interesting research on the subject and tells the cautionary tale of a newly promoted general manager who admitted to subordinates that she felt scared in her expanded role, asking them to help her succeed. “Her candor backfired,” Ibarra writes. “She lost credibility with people who wanted and needed a confident leader to take charge.” So know this: Play-acting to emulate the qualities of successful leaders doesn’t make you a fake. It merely means you’re a work in progress.

Improve your social skills.

According to research conducted by University of California Santa Barbara economist Catherine Weinberger, the most successful business people excel in both cognitive ability and social skills, something that hasn’t always been true. She crunched data linking adolescent skills in 1972 and 1992 with adult outcomes, and found that in 1980, having both skills didn’t correlate with better success, whereas today the combination does. “The people who are both smart and socially adept earn more in today’s work force than similarly endowed workers in 1980,” she says.

Train yourself to delay gratification.

The classic Marshmallow Experiment of 1972 involved placing a marshmallow in front of a young child, with the promise of a second marshmallow if he or she could refrain from eating the squishy blob while a researcher stepped out of the room for 15 minutes. Follow-up studies over the next 40 years found that the children who were able to resist the temptation to eat the marshmallow grew up to be people with better social skills, higher test scores, and lower incidence of substance abuse. They also turned out to be less obese and better able to deal with stress. But how to improve your ability to delay things like eating junk food when healthy alternatives aren’t available, or to remain on the treadmill when you’d rather just stop?

Writer James Clear suggests starting small, choosing one thing to improve incrementally every day, and committing to not pushing off things that take less than two minutes to do, such as washing the dishes after a meal or eating a piece of fruit to work toward the goal of eating healthier. Committing to doing something every single day works too. “Top performers in every field–athletes, musicians, CEOs, artists–they are all more consistent than their peers,” he writes. “They show up and deliver day after day while everyone else gets bogged down with the urgencies of daily life and fights a constant battle between procrastination and motivation.“

Demonstrate passion and perseverance for long-term goals.

Psychologist Angela Duckworth has spent years studying kids and adults, and found that one characteristic is a significant predictor of success: grit. “Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality,” she said in a TED talk on the subject. “Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Embrace a “growth mindset.”

According to research conducted by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, how people view their personality affects their capacity for happiness and success. Those with a “fixed mindset” believe things like character, intelligence, and creativity are unchangeable, and avoiding failure is a way of proving skill and smarts. People with a “growth mindset,” however, see failure as a way to grow and therefore embrace challenges, persevere against setbacks, learn from criticism, and reach higher levels of achievement. “Do people with this mindset believe that anyone can be anything, that anyone with proper motivation or education can become Einstein or Beethoven? No, but they believe that a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); that it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training,” she writes.

Invest in your relationships.

After following the lives of 268 Harvard undergraduate males from the classes of 1938 to 1940 for decades, psychiatrist George Vaillant concluded something you probably already know: Love is the key to happiness. Even if a man succeeded in work, amassed piles of money, and experienced good health, without loving relationships he wouldn’t be happy, Vaillant found. The longitudinal study showed happiness depends on two things: “One is love,” he wrote. “The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.”