What do you think of when you hear 'strategic planning'.
Many businesses - small and large give little to no attention to this incredibly important tool that can help guide and develop your business. A strategic plan can remind you of strengths, keep your awareness on the competition and help you set and keep objectives.
Every year after Thanksgiving, I start to examine my strategic business plan (SBP) for the upcoming year and by mid-December I have set goals and laid out the strategy to achieve them. By January 1st of the coming year, the plan is in place.
I just don't store my SBP in an icon on my desktop and not look at it again for months, rather I print it out keep it nearby and revisit it often. As a solopreneur, I must keep a consistent eye on it to make sure I am working toward my goals. By the end of the year, my SBP is overwritten, coffee stained and has notes for the next version.
If you own a small business or you are a solopreneur, I invite you to start looking at your business strategy - where do you want to be in five years? How are you going to get there? A strategic business plan provides the insight and long range vision on the direction you want your business to go. Start now - where do you want to be in the future and design a plan to get you there.
3 Steps to Achieving Goals
Want to get to a certain goal? Looking to bring about a change in our life? Then use these two steps to help move toward your goals:
1. Identify it. Think deliberatly about what you want... really think it through. Weigh through the pros and cons, worst case scenario, etc.
2. Publish it. Once you have it identified, write down your goals, your outcomes, your objectives - don't just keep them in your mind. You can write it down in a journal or a sticky note and stick it where you'll see it often. Strengthen this idea by telling two or three people. Don't just tell anyone, but a person that will take you serious and engage you about the outcome - someone who cares and will support you.
3. Intend it. Pretend, visualize, do whatever it takes but expect that the goal is manifesting itself and becoming your reality. Of couse you need to work too, but every effort should be seen as a confirmation that you are creating the reality you want.
The world of professional coaching can be confusing. There are a lot of certifications and often a coach will have an array of letters behind their name which can be intimidating for a prospective client. In this post, I want to share a couple of tips to consider when you hire a coach.
A certification is typically granted by a private, non-governmental institution to an individual after they have completed a course of study in a particular area of instruction. Examples include Wellness Coaching, Executive Coaching, Business Coaching. The thing to consider here is who is granting the certification and the quality of the program. Some coaching certification programs are pretty short, involve little interaction with peers and instructors, and lack supervision. The course content may be minimal and formulated on individual standards rather than widely accepted competencies. Other certifications may be lengthy, immersed in a collegiate culture, structured, supervised and generally of high quality.
A good rule of thumb to consider is to make sure the coach has a certification or experience in the area that you need coaching in. Do this by asking questions and probing, in fact treat your initial conversation with a potential coach as an interview.
The number of institutions that offer a coaching credential is much smaller than those that offer certification. In the world of coaching, likely the most important credentials are offered by the International Coach Federation. ICF credentials are the associate certified coach (ACC), professional certified coach (PCC), and master certified coach (MCC). Credentialing requires the coach to gain structured education and demonstrate expertise and skills. Additionally, ICF credentialed coaches commit themselves to adhering to high professional standards and a strong code of ethics. You can learn more about the ICF and it's credentialing process here: https://www.coachfederation.org/credential/?navItemNumber=502.
If a coach is attempting to work in the corporate, non-profit or government worlds, the hiring authority will likely expect the coach to be credentialed by the ICF.
If you are considering a coach, I encourage you to look for a coach that has the certifications, experience and formal education that not only creates a sense of confidence with you but more importantly, meets your coaching needs. Additionally, go the extra step and make sure your potential coach is credentialed by the International Coach Federation.
Have something to say? - please share your comments.
It must be career season as I am seeing many new clients interested in career coaching. In the career coaching process, reviewing one's resume is paramount to making sure they are on the right path, sending the correct message and selling themselves appropriately.
Recently I found an article on BusinessInsider.com "31 things you should remove from your resume immediately" - the article is packed with great tips and a few are listed here.
- Too much text. Your resume should have some, what I like to call, 'air and light' in it. If it looks like a law school textbook, the reader will be turned off before they ever start reading.
- References. If the perspective employer wants to communicate with your references, they'll ask you. Save that space for more important information.
- Inconsistent formatting. Its so easy to keep your resume looking sharp and polished just by proper formatting. If you indent where you list your a job, make sure its consistent throughout.
- Company specific jargon. This is particularly important for military or government employees transferring into the civilian sector. Just because you know what a TAD, TDY, RELAD or REFTRA is, the person reading your resume will not be impressed, rather they'll likely be frustrated and put off.
You can see all 31 of these great points at:
As technology continues to improve and become more accessible employers are using the video interview format more and more. Online platforms such as Skype.com and Zoom.us provides an excellent low-cost solution for conducting interviews.
If an organization wants to interview you using a video conferencing platform here are a few tips you can plug in to ensure success.
1. Treat it like the real thing. Prepare just as you would for an in person interview. Make sure you have done your research, have your responses ready to go for typical questions, and dress for success.
2. Do some test runs. Set up your computer for some tests. Make sure your face is well framed and the lighting is balanced. Do the clothes you plan to wear look okay once they are broadcast?
3. Location. Make sure the place you plan to have your interview call is secure from visitors, noise or other distractions. Consider turning off cell phones, land lines, faxes, etc.
Need more help preparing for your video interview? Consider hiring a professional coach. Coaches are trained and educated in helping people bring out their best during those highly anxious times such as interviewing for a new job. So why not leverage their expertise?
Remember, they liked your resume, you made it past the phone interview, now its up to you to do everything possible to nail the video interview - set yourself up for success!
Clients often ask me how to be more productive, to keep better tabs on their time and remain focused on the many things that need to get done. In today's digital world, there are many apps and digital solutions that can satisfy your needs. But what many of my clients and I have learned is that the handwritten 'to - do' list still proves an easy way to manage daily tasks. For me personally, there is also a meditative quality to sitting down and designing my day.
Kept on a steno pad or some other bound pad, the list is easily portable and managed. Additionally, when the day is done, you see what you've accomplished and this is an easy reminder of how productive you've been. When you don't complete a task for the day, carry it over to the next day. Finally, don't destroy these lists, I keep mine for future reference. They provide an accessible log or record of daily events and combined with my planner help keep me organized and on top of tasks.
International Coaching Week is May 16 through May 22. In honor of this, Scott Howard Coaching will offer a exclusive special discount to two people who respond to this post. Two people will be selected to get coaching services at a significant price reduction, $49.00 per session for up to a year.
This is for either life coaching or executive coaching. This is an excellent way to experience coaching and see if its right for you.
The elevator speech is a quick and easy way to engage others, let them know your value, and create opportunities. And because this is an opportunity to demonstrate your value, thats what I prefer to call it a value statement. I recommend you have at least two versions of your value statement - a short 10 - 15 second one thats longer.
Another way to deliver your value statement is to do it creatively - tell a story or even recount a past success (change the names of those involved of course!)
In that short span of time, you have the opportunity to push your brand, inspire a future client, or just get in some good practice talking about yourself. So make it hard hitting. A question that your value statement should address is 'how I can help you or your organization'.
Restrictive language like the words 'no, but and however' have been a major part of my vocabulary for years. Recently, I watched a great video from one of my heros - Dr. Marshall Goldsmith where he discusses the limiting and negative nature of these words.
Check out his website at: marshallgoldsmith.com.
In the video he explains how these words tend to kill conversations and stifle creativity. What I learned from this is that when you don't use these words, it forces you into new ways of thinking through solutions, it creates new pathways of possibilities. Starting your sentence or ideas with 'no, but, however' automatically diminishes the value of the idea it was directed toward. If you are using those words with a family member you are sending a dismissive message. In the workplace, these words can be particularly deflating to those you are trying to inspire.
Do what Marshall does - every time you use these limiting words, fine yourself a dollar, after a week send the money to your favorite charity. After a while, you'll create awareness on just how your words, even before you use them, has already started to help or hinder the ideas you want to put into action.
In a recent article authored by J. T. O'Donnell on LinkedIn, the CEO of Careerealism illustrated striking information about millennials. This is particularly on point if you're a manger or employer of this group of human capital as they now comprise 50% of the workforce and that is only expected to grow significantly in the future. O'Donnell notes that millennials expect to be coached and frame the reality as such that this generation has a long and accepted history of coaching and realizing it's benefits.
Do you have millennials working in your organization?
Are you a millennial working in an environment where you know you could be more productive with coaching?
In either case, I recommend you explore the value and benefits a professional coach could bring to your organization or career.
Here's the link to O'Donnell's article:
Check out CAREEREALISM.com where you can find lots of awesome information on careers, resumes, personal branding and more.
Learn more about employee engagement at Gallup's website here:
When it comes to career coaching, whether the client is trying to transition to a new job, or increase responsibility in their current organization, I will often pose some trigger questions.
The answers should not be quick and of the cuff - rather thoughtfully articulated with much consideration, and best answered by shifting your perspective to that of the organization you want to be a part of.
If you are in transition, I encourage you to give pause to the above inquiry, write it down, and revise your findings as you consider it more. Moreover, this 'value statement' should always be accessible to a professional, serving as a reminder of why they started along their professional journey to begin with.
More and more, meditation and mindfulness practice are making their way into the corporate culture. Being in charge is incredibly stressful and I've seen this in a number of my clients. Senior leaders, managers, and employees are realizing the clearing, relaxing, and grounding benefits associated with meditation. A number of my clients are using meditation to create balance in their high-tempo lives. I encourage you to consider mindfulness or meditation practice.
The Harvard Business Review recently published an interesting article that I want to share with you. Check it out here:
What are your thoughts - share them in the comments section below?
After nearly three years of training and education, I am very excited to announce that the International Coach Federation has awarded its Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credential to me.
Anyone can hold themselves out as a life coach, executive coach, wellness coach, etc., and there are no formal governmental regulations ensuring that person has any training or qualifications. This is an important point to consider when hiring a coach.
International Coach Federation (ICF) credentialed coaches represent the 'gold-standard' in coaching certification and are often the only coaches retained by governments and corporations. ICF coaches must attend 125 hours of education, be supervised by a qualified coach for 10 hours and document 750 hours of coaching with at least 25 clients. Only then can a candidate sit for exams and ultimately be credentialed by the ICF.
Regardless of who you select as your coach, I highly recommend considering a coach that has met ICF standards and earned an ICF credential.
Who doesn't love Tim ferris - I still reference his book The 4-Hour Workweek often. If you are serious about positive change in your life, I recommend his books and that you follow him.
One of his priceless tips is a list of nine habits to stop doing - these are time sucking traps that entrepreneurs and professionals often engage in without even realizing it. Here's a summary of the nine tips - some of them are straight from the book others are embellished with my thoughts:
1. Don't answer calls from unknown numbers. It's probably a telemarketer. Just don't answer. Make a carefully crafted voicemail that will encourage potential clients, etc. to leave a message.
2. No emails first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Give your brain time to wake up in the morning and don't keep your brain awake at night when you should be starting to relax.
3. Avoid meetings or phone calls with no clear agenda or end time. As Ferris says in his book, ask for an agenda in advance so you can get a clear idea about the meeting. Further, most meetings should last no longer than 30 minutes.
4. Do not let people ramble go. This is especially important in coaching situations. In a coaching session every minute counts - so catching up or chatting is costing the client money. Avoid it and get to the point right away - the agenda.
5. Do not check email constantly. Set specific times to check your email - put yourself in control and not the other way around.
6. Strategize communications. As Tim says "Do not over-communicate with low-profit, high-maintenance customers." Not just customers, but clients, students, fellow workers, etc. Your time is valuable, if you are not getting value from the communication or it's sucking energy or value from you - axe it.
7. Do not work more to fix overwhelmingness - prioritize. This is especially for entrepreneurs and solopreneurs. Without prioritizing tasks everything takes on an air of urgency. Start your day with a list prioritizing the tasks you need to accomplish that day.
8. Do not carry a smart phone 24/7. This is a hard one. But try it. Even if you leave your phone in another room for just an hour a day, do it We are becoming slaves to our technology, remember to make time for you, your family or just to veg out. If the phone is there, once you take the call or answer the email, you might as well just go back to work as your mind is now in work mode and no on yourself or your family.
9. Do not expect work to fill a void that non-work relationships and activities should. Your co-workers shouldn't be your only friends. Schedule life and defend it just as you would an important business meeting. This is so true!
Learn more about Tim Ferris here: http://fourhourworkweek.com/blog/. Tim is truly a brilliant man and someone I pay close attention to.
1. Ethical Sensitivity - awareness of self, of harm, of consequences, of impact of behavior, of intention.
2. Ethical Discernment - reflection, emotional awareness, problem solving process. Ethical decisions.
3. Ethical Implementation - What blocks me/ what supports me? How to implement decisions.
4. Ethical Conversation - Defending the decision, going public, connecting to principles.
5. Ethical Peace - Living with the decision, supports networks, crisis of limits, learning from the process, letting go.
6. Ethical Growth and Development of Moral Character - Utilise learning to enrich moral self-knowledge, to extend ethical understanding, become more ethically attuned and competent.
Sourced from Michael Carroll's and Elisabeth Shaw's Ethical Maturity in the Helping Professions - Making Difficult Life and Work Decisions. (2012) PsychOz Publications Australia.
"Having the reflective, rational, emotional and intuitive capacity decide actions are right and wrong or good and better, having the resilience and courage to implement those decisions, being accountable for ethical decisions made (publicly or privately), being able to live with the decisions made and integrating the learning into our moral character and future actions."
Sourced from Michael Carroll's and Elisabeth Shaw's Ethical Maturity in the Helping Professions - Making Difficult Life and Work Decisions. (2012) PsychOz Publications Australia.
This book is a great resource and despite it being about a decade old still offers real value. I recommend it for entrepreneurs, anyone that has a small business or is thinking of starting a small business as it contains a ton of good information. In it, Kaplan gives excellent guidance on analyzing your business, developing opportunities for growth, and managing risk.
Steve Kaplan is an expert entrepreneur and has helped hundreds of businesses become more efficient, expand, thus ultimately increasing profits. This book is like having personal access with an business guru.
The last two weeks I have spent completing my coaching exams at MentorCoach. This marks the culmination of nearly three years of education and while I worked very hard, I had a lot of support along the way. Primarily, I wanted to say thanks to my family that have always supported me in this journey. They have tolerated many nights and weekends of study, classes, proofreading, and me lamenting! But through it all they offered nothing but love and patience. This is especially true of my husband, Scott.
Thanks extends to my primary career, the Coast Guard, where I have had the pleasure and honor of working for some fine leaders. Specifically, Nick Grasselli and William Makell - both whom supported me and my coaching efforts.
To mark the completion of my certification journey, I have updated the scotthowardcoaching.com website to make it more user friendly and focused on coaching exclusively.
Listened to a great interview of Dr. Bernard Roth yesterday that was moderated by the founder of MentorCoach LLC, Ben Dean, PhD. The interview was very informative and exciting. Roth is a leading expert on the behavior of achievement, reaching goals rather than just dreaming about them, and helping one 'take command of your life'.
You can learn more about Dr. Roth and his book at this link:
Many of my clients originate from the online professional service locator Thumbtack. Whats also nice is that many of my former clients from Thumbtack have written very thoughtful reviews of my services. As a small business owner, I am so grateful when customers take the time and write about their experience, which not only makes me feel great, but also helps future clients make a more informed choice.
This week the Thumbtack team sent me this nice award - wow! Thank you!
Last week I attended a telephonic interview with Tom Rath, bestselling author, speaker, and industry leader in strengths and wellbeing. The interview was facilitated by Ben Dean, founder of MentorCoach LLC, the coaching organization that I chose to get my life coach and executive coach certification and training from.
Tom talked about his latest book Are You Fully Charged, and the upcoming documentary based on the book. The book speaks to improving physical and mental energy using nutrition, exercise and sleep, creating more positive relationships, and living with purpose that benefits others. The book is excellent and I highly recommend it. He also spoke of his personal challenges of living with multiple cancers and working through numerous physical challenges from his teen years to now. Tom's story is not only inspirational, its also motivating and a study on living with intention. He has authored many other books which I will highlight in future posts.
Hers a link to Tom's website: http://www.tomrath.org.
You can check out the MentorCoach site here: http://mentorcoach.com/.
It's that time of year again - that time when we resolve to do things differently, to make change… to lose weight, stop smoking etc. What better way to start the new year than by making a big change in your life. However, the failure rate of new year's resolutions is very high. A 2007 study conducted by Richard Wiseman of the University of Bristol showed that 88% of those that set new year's resolutions failed. Other studies have shown even higher failure rates.
So how can you succeed? Heres a few points that you can use to help ensure you meet your goals.
1. One or two goals only. It takes a lot of effort to make change - so keep it simple.
2. Define your goal exactly. Be clear, write it down. Write it in your journal, or on post-it notes. Put it in your car, at work, around your home and carry a copy of it with you. Example: "My nails look healthy and good." "I find myself more and more compassionate and nice." You can turn this into a mantra and recite it often.
3. Re-frame it positively. Instead of stopping smoking, maybe you can resolve to breathing more fresh air while reducing cigarettes gradually. This is especially important if you have been smoking or exercising an unwanted behavior for many years. Realize at the start that you will have bad days and backslide. When this happens, be compassionate to yourself and realize you are only human. Get back on track and into the right mindset.
4. Set yourself up for success. If you are wanting to exercise more, hang out more with the people that have a like mindset. If you are trying to stop your nail biting - get a manicure. Watch YouTube videos that give you inspiration to exercise or achieve the specific goal you want. The bottom-line is if you are trying to change a behavior, you will need to really examine the people, places and circumstances around you. It may mean joining and attending a support meeting, it may mean giving up coffee, if coffee triggers you to smoke, it may mean changing a nightly routine that ends with you sitting in front of the television
May you have a happy and healthy 2015!
Here are a few tips collected from KARIN IRELAND's book,
The Job Survival Instruction Book.
*Don't email or Twitter something you wouldn't want passed around. Don't post anything negative about your job or anyone you work with on your social network.
*Never say anything at work you wouldn't want your coworkers or boss to hear.
* Celebrate the differences between people.
*Information is power. Learn how and where people get it in your company.
The book is small, around $10.00, and packed with great advice. I recommend it for your professional library.
In today's job market we all need the extra edge to stay competitive and to be present the most value to an organization.
Scott Howard is a professional executive coach and leadership coach focusing on human empowerment and maximizing potential.