The Leadership-Jacket Connection

16 10 2013

Unsure man in coatCritical Leadership Skill Numero Uno: The ability to translate thought into action.

In entrepreneurship, you cannot park in neutral and brain your way to success. Action is an inevitable necessity.

For years now, I’ve been trying to pinpoint the source of all that action. What makes a leader step up, when everyone else is stepping down?

Is it courage born of big decisions and masterful business moves? Life altering determinations? News worthy choices? Popular media would have us believe so.

However, my observation-based conclusion comes to: “Not really.”

In fact, I would argue that the essence of leadership is born of HABIT. Yes, habit. And that habit is formed largely from the small, seemingly irrelevant decisions that literally make up our day-to-day lives.

YOU SHOULD WEAR A JACKET

The other day, I couldn’t decide whether a jacket was warranted. For the three minutes I would actually be outside, the decision was truly insignificant. But in the millisecond of thought I actually devoted to the cause, I could imagine two, potential consequences to a faulty choice:

1)  I wore the jacket, was too hot, and had to lug it around the rest of the day. Inconvenient.

2)  I didn’t wear the jacket, was too cold, and suffered a few minutes of discomfort. Also inconvenient.

This is grossly simplifying the alternatives, but you catch my drift. It’s the level of decision-making that we are faced with every minute – even every second. Should I pick up groceries now or after lunch? Should I run the yellow traffic light or wait for the next green? Should I take the stairs or the elevator? Should I approach that person or this one?

In my scenario, I couldn’t decide, asked my husband for his input, and wore a jacket on his recommendation.

Now, can anyone tell me why the above sentence is an outright lie?

Anyone?

Because, in actuality, I most certainly COULD decide. I can ALWAYS decide. So, to turn the above into a truth:

I was unwilling to accept responsibility for the results of my decision, asked my husband for his input, and wore a jacket on his recommendation.

WHY WE DO IT

Fear. Habit. Laziness. Low self-esteem. It’s infinitely easier to choose a scapegoat than a course of action. When we pass the baton, a wrong decision becomes “not my fault”. But what do we lose in the process? Control. Self-esteem. Learning and growth opportunities. Freedom.

TAKING BACK THE REINS

How many times do you catch yourself defaulting to the decision of another person, group, or (heaven forbid) “fate”? I’d wager that you haven’t given it much thought. Why should you? Those trivial decisions are vastly unimportant in the grand scheme of your life.

BUT, I believe that THESE DECISIONS ARE WHERE LEADERSHIP IS FORMED. From a habit of answering your own questions. From a comfort with shouldering your own responsibilities. From an understanding that being wrong WON’T END YOU.

Take more knowledgeable peoples’ input into account, by all means. But let the final decision be yours.

YOUR CHALLENGE

1 )  Observe the actions and interactions of those in your life who are leaders and those who are not. See what happens when a minor decision has to be made. It’s downright enlightening.

2)  Evaluate the little, daily decisions that you’ve been giving away. If you can’t find a darn good reason for doing so, take back the reins! Leadership is waiting for you on the other side.

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you. Not much.”  ~ Jim Rohn

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC

All content Copyright © 2013 DMT Artistry, LLC. All Rights Reserved.





How to Not Become a 1-Dimensional Crankpot Entrepreneur

20 08 2013

Crabby entrepreneurSeveral years into my business’s growth, I had become a finely-tuned design machine:

I ate breakfast with my computer; spent the day networking, quoting, brainstorming, and designing; devoted free hours to program upgrades; analyzed sign layouts and logos during drives; talked business with my husband at dinner; laid out tomorrow’s schedule before bed; worked the wee hours on time-sensitive projects; and dreamed up design ideas overnight.

I was single-minded. I was driven. I was everything society had told me an entrepreneur should be. But I was…

BORING. And drained. And cranky.

In my push to become the ultimate business owner, I’d committed a cardinal entrepreneurial sin:

Forgetting that I am human. And I paid the price.

Galloping toward a goal with blinders on creates tunnel vision and narrow-mindedness. Spoiler Alert: There won’t be caviar and yacht club memberships at THAT finish line. Just complete and utter burn out.

A well-rounded leader creates a well-rounded business. Hobbies, volunteering, and other extracurriculars are more than “for funsies” – they’re also a rock solid way to bolster creativity, learn skills that your expanding mind will find use for in the workplace, connect you with a broader audience, expose you to unexpectedly awesome opportunities, and eliminate your inner ogre.

So, with all my heart, I advise you to drop the “24/7 entrepreneur” act like a hot potato, and become the human collage you were born to be. There’s no heroism in becoming a 1-dimensional, crankpot entrepreneur. Give yourself permission to occasionally “lose” the responsibility sheet that exists in every leader’s head. Explore. Enjoy. Engage…

Mortals must do what they are here to do creatively or they will become cranky.”  ~ Jill Badonsky. Yes, Jill. Yes they will.

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2013 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.





Self Sabotage: What you didn’t realize you were doing

30 07 2013

Self SabotageI assert that 99% of failed businesses are destroyed by the one person you’d least expect to wield the axe…

The creator.

But ask those business slayers, and the majority will have no idea what a starring role they played in their company’s demise.

Entrepreneurs are among the most self-aware group of individuals out there. The ability to recognize our own potential and maintain forward momentum in the face of criticism and doubt is what makes us visionaries.

So why would we kneecap our businesses without even realizing that we’re doing it?

It all goes back to self sabotage.

As discussed in previous posts, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of commitment, and just plain fear all play a role in WHY we commit self sabotage.

In today’s blog, let’s talk about HOW we self sabotage, and what we can do to reverse the damage.

UNDER-PLANNING

Entrepreneurs have a reputation for leap-now-look-later. It’s one of the things that makes us movers and shakers in a world of inaction and low expectation. But there is a line where visionary crosses over into carelessness. THAT is self sabotage.

When we start with no plan – no goals, no mission, no measurable benchmarks – then we’ve eliminated our source of motivation. And motivation is the fuel that powers our success.

If flying by the seat of your pants is how you operate best, go ahead and flap those fanny wings. But first give yourself a solid foundation from which to launch your trajectory.

OVER-PLANNING

Over-planning is the polar opposite of under-planning. It involves spending so much time creating the perfect business on paper or in our heads, that we never actually get around to making it happen!

This is the entrepreneurial equivalent of “all talk and no action.” Making a habit of it will ground our business for life.

So, when you catch yourself building castles in the sky, and twiddling your thumbs in reality, take a step – any step – to move you forward. The momentum you generate may be just what you need to succeed.

GETTING LOST IN THE DETAILS

A compliment to over-planning, getting lost in the details means spending ludicrous amounts of time sweating the small stuff, at the expense of accomplishing anything meaningful. Creating lists, blowing a day on little projects, and filing paperwork are a few of my favorite ways to avoid productive activity.

Getting lost in the details is the perfect self-sabotage – we justify it to ourselves and others by arguing that “it all needs to get done.” And sometimes it does, but RARELY do the little things need to be done that instant or even by us.

Prioritize, delegate, and give yourself the freedom and support to tackle the tasks that will legitimately move your business forward.

FATALISM

Those of you who have followed my blog are extremely well aware of how I feel about fatalism, superstition, and other scapegoating techniques – I loathe them. Fatalism entails placing responsibility for the success or failure of our business squarely in the hands of other people, events, and circumstances. This includes business advisers, family, economy, competitors, and current events.

Of all self sabotages, I consider this one the most dangerous. The moment we relinquish control of our business is the moment we relinquish control over our own future.

There is a very large difference between WEIGHING advice and circumstances in your decision making process, and BASING your decisions on them. If you find yourself stagnating because of something beyond your control, step back and reassess whether it truly is a roadblock, or an opportunity that – with a little elbow grease – can take you new and exciting directions.

Be honest with yourself. If your business is going nowhere fast, check to see where you may be getting in your own way. Find it, repair it, forgive yourself, and move on.

Otherwise, standing over the lifeless body of an up-and-coming business will be you, in the office, with self sabotage. Don’t be that criminal.

Be on your own side.”  ~ Rasheed Ogunlaru

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2013 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.





Rewind | BREATHE | Fast Forward

29 03 2013

Time outI’m about to impart a bit of Zen wisdom here. Buddha pose is optional.

Some of us live in the past; we usually call that “baggage.” (Sorry, past dwellers.)

Some of us live in the future; we often label that “forward thinking.” (Don’t toot your horn just yet, “to-be”ers.)

But in between rewinding to memories of what’s already been, and racing into events that have yet to be, there’s where we exist now: the present.

Now, there’s a time and a place for all three branches of living – past, present, and future. And I’m not going to go all “A Christmas Carol” on you in this blog. But entrepreneurs are a notoriously driven bunch – mulling intensely over past actions before surging ahead into future plans.

So today, on the brink of a holiday weekend, I feel compelled to share a little bit of well-worn wisdom that we all lose track of at some point or another:

PAUSE.

So simple. So essential.

A pause can be a vacation, a rare luxury for an entrepreneur, but it can also be as simple as sitting quietly for a few moments – mind parked in neutral – between activities. During those moments, you’re neither fretting over the previous activity, nor puzzling out the next.

You are simply existing.

If emptying your mind feels like a goliath undertaking, try focusing your attention on something instead – your thumb, an elbow, your breath… something completely innocuous.

You don’t need to be a yogi to work this technique. You just have to be human.

What’s the point? Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if it doesn’t give you a chance to catch your breath, stop frantic thoughts, stimulate mental clarity, and/or help you keep things in perspective.

A few moments. Really. Please try it, and let me know how it works for you.

“Don’t just do something — Sit there!”  ~Anon.

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2013 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.





Target Markets: Love ’em or lose business (Part I of III)

20 02 2013

Target MarketI have a twin brother, and he is easily one of the coolest people I know. Because he’s traveled ALL over the world, David has more stories than you can shake a stick at. These days, he’s busy enlightening collegiate minds in the field of entrepreneurship. I am very proud to welcome him as a guest blogger – both this week and next – on a topic of enormous importance: Target Markets. Let’s begin with Part I, shall we?

Greetings! I’m Dave, Dawn’s twin brother. Dawn is letting me take over the next few weeks to tell you about something near and dear to my heart: target markets. Seriously, I love talking about this stuff! It’s probably why I became a professor…

I’m going to take you through what target markets are, how you can identify your business’s target markets, and last and most importantly how you can use them to quickly and easily build successful marketing campaigns to increase your sales!

Let’s start with what target markets are. Target markets are the groups of customers you actively try to attract to your business. If you tailor your marketing towards your target markets, you will maximize sales. So, let’s talk about what target markets are. They have four components:

DEMOGRAPHIC
The descriptive characteristics of your customers. Basically, if it goes on the U.S. Census, it’s a demographic. Think along the lines of age, education level, number of kids, marital status, income level, etc.

GEOGRAPHIC
Where your customers are located. This could be a fixed radius (“within 15 miles of the store”) or more broadly defined (“anyone with Internet access who speaks English”), depending on the type of business you have. Keep this focused on where 80-90% of your target market comes from.

PSYCHOGRAPHIC
Psychographics cover the defining mental traits of your target market, like being concerned about health or enjoying going out with friends. Sometimes it’s easier to identify your target market by a group or organization they belong to because that summarizes a whole bunch of traits at once. For example, if most people in your target market belong to the Rotary Club, a local church, or a political party, that summarizes a whole bunch of characteristics right there. But make sure you focus only on the ones that relate directly to why people buy from you.

USE-BASED
How often does the target market use your product or service? Do they come every day, once a month, or only once?

In Part II of this series, we’ll focus on using these four components to define your company’s target markets. But if you have questions, let Dawn or me know, and we’ll be sure to answer them!

Author Bio:  “Dave Tomczyk, is an Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy at Quinnipiac University. His background is pretty diverse, including video game development, working at NASA, a Masters in Economics, and some work in astronomy. And a love of target markets!”

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2013 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.





Wear Your Number Proudly: Entrepreneurial self-gratification

7 11 2012

Wear your numbers with prideA few years ago, butterfly hordes took my innards hostage, while I stretched before my first duathlon (run/bike competition). Surrounded by fellow, shivering newbies making repeat bathroom runs in the pre-sunrise chill, I distinctly remember the moment that volunteers penned my race number on my arms and legs. They used permanent marker for easy identification. I felt so official.

I was a duathlete.

I finished in the top something-or-other, and walked away with a medal, a banana…

… and permanent marker proof that I had competed.

For a whole week after, I was very careful not to scrub off my numbers. They lingered, and I sheepishly recall spending that week in sleeveless shirts and shorts, running errands and eating out like it was going out of style. I was PROUD, and receptive to a little recognition.

If you’re smirking, I suggest you recollect back to the medals, trophies, ribbons, certificates, degrees you’ve had on display. And what about the times you’ve gone out in your soccer kit, gi, team jersey, golf get-up, exercise gear, etc., when it would have been just as easy to change first? We thrive on recognition: we’re human.

And there is nothing wrong with that. It’s one of the perks of doing something that few can or will do. It’s a motivator. It’s a reminder. It makes us a part of something cool. It’s EARNED.

Being a successful entrepreneur is remarkably special. It takes guts, brains, charisma, bravery, endurance, strategy, self-motivation…

So, where’s our trophy? Our certificate? Our badge of honor?

It’s in our branding!

Every time you wear a company shirt, mail company letterhead, conclude emails with company info, set up company voicemail, direct people to your company website, and post on your company Facebook, you are shouting your accomplishment from the rooftops,

“I own a business, and it’s the real deal!”

To keep your enthusiasm at an all-time high, get your branding out everywhere. Embroider it, attach it, print it, post it, vocalize it – this is a special situation where reaping recognition coincides directly with building success. You never know when your branding exuberance will spark a conversation with the right person, in the right place, at the right time. Why not improve the odds?

Entrepreneurs, “wear your numbers” with pride. YOU’VE EARNED IT.

DMT Artistry’s re-branding… yeah, it’s back ON. (The photo at top is just a small segment of a very impressive race number wall at Hometown Bicycles.)

Note: I dedicate this blog post to my Uncle Mark, who will be a guest blogger in the near future (right, Uncle Mark?), and inspired me to write a new post. Much obliged! 

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2012 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.





If Wishes Were Horses:

5 10 2012

Having a conversation with yourselfWait. Hope. Wish. Dream.

What do all of these words have in common?

Answer: They have no place in an entrepreneur’s vocabulary. These words are passive. They are a luxury. They neither get things done, nor generate productivity.

They’re all talk, and no action.

Why do I bring this up?

Because I’ve caught myself red-handed – more recently than I’d like to admit – waiting for projects to fall in my lap, hoping office renovations move forward quickly, wishing there were more hours in the day, and dreaming about DMT ‘going viral’ across the nation.

Doing this costs me. It costs me time; it costs me brainpower; it costs me energy. And the return is peonic – a moment of mental gratification. Hardly something to write home about.

So, why do we do it?

Have you ever noticed that it’s easier to accomplish things when someone or something – your boss, your spouse, the law, even your body – tells you to do something? Seriously. You have to do it – make the deadline, fix the car, pay your taxes, fill a cavity – so you just make it happen.

Take the same task, and put yourself in the role of giving orders. YOU know that you’re feeling a little tired today, that you have an ill family member, that your “to do” list is a mile long, that you’d rather be fishing, that…

It’s very easy to be sympathetic with a person who’s life you know intimately, and you will always be number one on that list. For that reason, it can be one of the most challenging feats of entrepreneurship to simply INSPIRE YOURSELF TO ACTION.

How do we make that happen?

Plan. Set goals. Initiate. Do.

There are always people to inspire, motivate, support, and cheerlead, but when the chips are down, YOU are the only person who can drive yourself to act. I can write “rah-rah” pep talks until the cows come home, but I cannot flip the switch in your brain that decides whether you wish or whether you do.

So if you came here today looking for motivation, I’d recommend pulling out the mirror. This is a conversation that you need to have – can ONLY have – with you, and you alone.

The world will know the results of this conversation by the progression of your business. Remember, failure is as legitimate a result as success. Stagnation and atrophy are not.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I just inspired myself to action.

“Action conquers fear.”  ~Peter Nivio Zarlenga

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2012 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.