How To Improve Your Response To The Unexpected

July 1, 2016

Article Written by: Carl Dorvil

Bad things are going to happen in business. They just are. So we as entrepreneurs have to learn how to deal with them. Often, the difference between having a mediocre organization and an extraordinary one comes down to how we act during these unexpected, challenging times. Your ability to respond, or what I like to call your "response(ability)," will dictate your future success in business. Here are a few tips for how to improve that response.

Stay Calm

This is probably the hardest thing to do. The first few moments of a crisis are critical, and it's important that you stay calm. Personally, I like to step away for a minute or two so that I can be alone with my thoughts. In that quiet moment, I allow myself to take a second to panic and feel the weight of everything going on. If you're able to step away and get some space, collect yourself and prepare to deal with the situation with clear thoughts. Get to a place in your mind where you stop thinking about the crisis, and instead focus all your energy on solution-based thinking.

For example, ask questions such as, "How can we fix this? or "If someone else were in this situation, what would I tell them to do?" The ability to focus on solutions instead of problems is arguably the single most important skill a leader needs to have. However, that will only happen if you stay calm. Remember, you're not being helpful to anyone if you are freaking out. Your team TISI +% looks to you to set the tone as to how they should respond.

Assess The Risk

Take time to figure out the worst-case scenario. Identifying this will help set the course for your next steps. I remember the day we found out that one of our largest vendors, who owed us around $200,000, had a budget freeze and weren't going to be able to pay our invoice. My first reaction was panic, because we needed that income in order to pay upcoming expenses. However, after I took time to calm down and assess the situation, I made a few phone calls. It turned out that payment was just 60 days late. Once I started dealing with the problem in those terms, I was able to find a bridge round of funding to pay expenses until I received that invoice.

Oftentimes, entrepreneurs let their minds go wild with every possible bad thing that could happen in the world. There are probably simple steps you can take to fix the problem you are in. Assessing the risk will allow you to remain rational about the decisions you're going to have to make. Remember, no matter how bad things look, there are people who have been in worse situations and have found a way to respond that allowed them to continue with their success. You can too.

Consult Your Board

A board of directors is a group of three to five people with whom you can consult whenever you're making a big life or business decision. Whenever you're in a situation that is seemingly impossible to solve, reach out to your board. Your board has a vested interest in your success. They are removed from the situation, so their objectivity allows them to give insight you might not be able to see in your moment of crisis. Tell your board exactly what's going on. For me, being able to do this during critical moments has been incredibly helpful. For example, in the situation I mentioned above, a friend of one of my board members was able to come in and provide the bridge funding. Their outside perspective can at least spark a new way of thinking about the problem, which might be the thing that leads to a solution. Calling on your board is always a good response.

Consult Your Team

As leaders and entrepreneurs, it's easy to feel as if you need to have all the answers. Great leaders know that other members of their team have valuable perspectives, especially during tough times. Ask your team what they think the best way to solve the problem is. Sometimes we feel like because everyone is relying on us, we have to come up with an answer. But your team can give you different points of view. As a matter of fact, the best way to find out what your team is made of is to see how they respond during a time of adversity. Your response(ability) can grow if you allow more people to become involved.

Do Something

The cavalry is not coming. Superman is not going to save the day. It’s your response(ability) to solve this problem. So, after consulting your board and your team, decide to respond. The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. You just have to do something about the situation that you’re in. Sometimes what you do will work, and sometimes it won’t, but no one is going to do it for you. When you get hit in business, remember to stay calm, assess the risk, consult your board, consult your team and be honest so that you can respond appropriately.


Four Strategies For Boosting Productivity And Increasing Daily Output

January 12, 2017

Article Written By: Chelsea Christopherson

Where are you right now? Are you sitting at home, scrolling through your phone for interesting articles to read? Are you looking at a laptop in your office reviewing news feed updates? Chances are that no matter where you are at this very moment, you have at least three other things you could -- or should be doing -- in order to say that you had a "productive" day. I always have at least 10 different tasks I could be working on at any given moment in time.

So, how do we deal with this? How do we go through each day and accomplish as much as possible without burning ourselves out?

Here are a few tips I've found that can help boost productivity and increase daily output:

1. Have A Morning Routine

True productivity is contingent upon routine. Set yourself up for success with a morning schedule that allows you to wake up, focus, and mentally and physically prepare yourself for all you need to accomplish that day. Stick with it for a few weeks and see how it affects your confidence and productivity at work. Your morning routine doesn't necessarily need to consist of waking up at 4:30 a.m. to work out for two hours, but it should include things that allow your mind and body to focus on what's ahead of you.

I wake up early enough to work out (yoga is a great body-strengthening and mind-focusing activity!), have a light breakfast, and spend a few moments with my husband before we both rush off to work for the day.

Think about what will allow you to confidently walk out the door each morning, and your work days will become that much more productive.

2. Remove Distractions

It's amazing how much removing distractions will aid in increasing your productivity and focus. I'm not referring to obvious distractions like busy meeting days, your phone constantly ringing with clients on the other end, or co-workers coming in and out of your office to ask questions all day. Sometimes these types of distractions are simply out of your control.

Instead, I'm talking about the smaller distractions that are completely within your power to change, like making sure your desk is organized before you start work in the morning, or making sure the temperature of your work environment is comfortable. If there's anything that might unnecessarily pull your focus away from your job that you can easily change, change it! You'll find that removing these minor disturbances isn't just easy, but makes a huge difference in your ability to buckle down and focus on the task at hand.

3. Make Lists

This is one of my favorite things to do every day to jumpstart my productivity. I make lists for my professional life, my personal life, and even just for meditative reasons.

Your brain is like a sponge: It's constantly soaking up new information. And that sponge fills up quickly. That's why it's important to clear your mind in order to make room for more information.

Take the first few minutes of every day to pour out everything that's taking up space in your brain. Simply write down your thoughts, ideas and to-dos to create space in your mind for other thoughts as well as visualize what needs to get done. This will free you up to actually focus on the items on your list with more clarity and distinct thoughts, which in turn will help you become more productive.

4. Adhere To The "5-Minute Rule"

After making my list in the morning before I start work, I like to do what I call the "5-Minute Rule." Quickly scan the list you just made of your goals and to-dos for the day and put a star next to the things that will take fewer than five minutes to complete. Then, do them immediately.

This way, in the first 30 minutes of your day, you have multiple items already completed and crossed off your list! There's so much to be said about not only writing things down and visualizing what needs to be done, but actually crossing things off. Being able to quickly cross items off my list is one of the most motivating things I can do to increase my productivity.

So, did you say you were at home? At the office? Wherever you are right now, take a moment to decide what you are going to do that will allow yourself to have a more productive day — and do it!

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