What Diamonds and Bees Can Teach You on How to Become a High-Performing Businessowner.

Nature is all about systems and structures built to fit together into the most amazing ecosystems anywhere on earth. Think tiny ants living in colonies, or bees in their hives, or vast ecosystems like lakes, seas forests, or even desserts. If humans don’t interfere, every one of them is perfectly balanced. 

Mother Nature knows that designing fully optimized systems allows them to achieve harmony and their fullest potential. Moreover, it’s not only the ingredients that decide on the systems’ performance but also how they’re connected; their structure can make a massive difference in what she can achieve. Let me show you two examples.

Difference between graphite and diamond

Take graphite and diamond, for example. Those two rocks are composed of the exact same ingredient – carbon. How can they be so different then?

The reason behind the fact graphite and carbon are pretty much each other’s opposites hides behind the crystal structure in each rock.

As you see in the above picture, the carbon atoms in graphite are arranged in an infinite array of layers. It’s this structure that makes the rock brittle, an excellent electricity conductor, and gives it the black color.

On the other hand, the diamond’s structure is three dimensional and rigid. In makes diamond the hardest rock there is, gives it extraordinary strength and durability. Because of it, it’s very resistant to compression and it can scratch any other materials. Diamond is the hardest material there is. It’s the best-known conductor of heat, conducting up to five times the amount that copper does. Diamond also conducts sound, but not electricity.

Moreover, diamonds disperse light, which you know from the beautiful jewelry created from them. As a result, the gemstone acts as a prism to separate white light into rainbow colors. The greater the dispersion, the better the spectrum of colors dispersed. It’s what gives rise to the “fire” and “brilliance” of diamonds.

Let’s move on now to the 2nd more “living” example from Mother Nature.

Honeybees and their hives.

The hive of honeybees’ colony is a fantastic system that serves the bees not only as a home but also as a place to produce the golden syrup, called honey. Who doesn’t love honey? As kids, we learn about its goodness from parents and Winnie the Pooh. It’s sweet and sticky and sooooooo healthy.

However, let’s go back to our topic on structures. You know that bees chose the shape of a hexagon to create their honeycombs. Do you know why though? Because as the most amazing mathematicians, they figured out that hexagon will give them the most optimal outcome they needed: maximum storage with no wasted space.

Why is it so crucial to the bees, you ask? There are two main reasons. Firstly, the hive has a dual purpose: it acts as bees’ home and honey storage. Secondly, a bee needs to eat 8 oz of honey (lots of nectar to collect) to be able to produce only 1 oz of wax for the comb – talking about hard work!

If, for example, bees chose a circle as their shape, which gives them maximum storage, they’d have lots of wasted space in between. Hexagon is ideal for their high-performance ecosystem. Just look at the picture below.

So what does all have to do with you then, a business owner, and your high-performance?

Let me tell you, A TON. Just like Mother Natures designs its environments with extreme precision and plan, if you design and develop a structure in your life, you to can reach your fullest potential: in your business and life overall. In other words, the achievement of your full potential won’t happen on its own, though, by fluke or a chance. You need to be intentional and strategic about it. It’s hard to fly a plane without knowing the final destination. You can burn a lot of fuel, land somewhere random, and not be entirely happy with the outcome. 

I’ve chosen a hexagonal shape, the shape of diamonds molecules, and a honeycomb, to help you visualize what I’m talking about.

To achieve your full potential, you need to expand and develop your capacity in all six areas slowly. Equally, keeping them in balance will allow you to feel fulfilled and happy. 

Your heart is your emotions, and through emotions, you develop relationships not only personal but also professional. Being able to manage your emotions leads to deep and meaningful relationships.

Building your spiritual strength by knowing your values and what you stand for allows you to develop faith and hope that no matter the circumstances, you can find a solution to any challenges you face. 

Your mind is your skills, creativity, ability to learn, manage time, set strategic goals, and work toward achieving them.

Your body is your vessel; without which you cannot do anything you want to accomplish. Taking care of your body by nourishing it well, moving it, and managing stress imposed on it is key to your well-being.

Your business is your way to provide for you and your family, to help people you want to help. It’s also a vessel to fulfill the purpose you set for it, your dream. Growing it strategically will ensure that you’ll achieve the goals you set without burning yourself out.

Lastly, finances as a whole provide the financial freedom you dream about. If left unattended and unplanned for, like anything, they will take their course you might not like.

Closing thoughts

I hope that this article made you realize how important creating the right system and structure is to achieve the dreams and goals you have. Just using the same ingredients as other successful people is not enough. Diamond and graphite are made of the same element: carbon and look at how different structures they are.

All in all, the ingredients to high-performance and achieving your full potential as a leader of your business and life are available to you at the fingertips for free. Thanks to Google, you can find hundreds of thousands of free articles and videos on the subject. So why not everyone who has internet and access to all these resources is becoming a high-achieving successful business owner?

It’s because there is so much information out there that it becomes overwhelming. As a result, people give up, not knowing where to start.

Given this, it’s also hard to distill all this info, pick only the essential components, and then implement them into your personal and business life to achieve top results. What’s also missing that is equally important is motivation and inspiration when times get tough, and you feel like quitting halfway through your journey. 

That’s why my 3-step coaching framework
will guide you step by step on how to create a high-performance system that works for your unique situation.
It will help you prepare for the New Year and make 2020 your best year ever!

To find out more about it, let’s chat!

Start Dealing with Imposter Syndrome Now Using These 7 Strategies.

Have you ever thought of yourself “I don’t know what I’m doing, and people will notice” or “I’m a fake”? Do you attribute your current success to sheer luck that you don’t deserve? 

Or maybe such thoughts and feelings come up mainly when you start something new, like running a business or public speaking or a new job.

The chances are, you’ve had these thoughts at some point in your life, most of us do.  

This psychological phenomenon is called imposter syndrome and described as “a phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments.” In other words, you’re feeling like an imposter when you’re telling yourself that you’ve only succeeded due to luck, and not because of your talent, qualifications, and hard work.

What’s interesting is that the researchers haven’t really discovered the reason behind such feelings. There is no one prevailing influential scientific theory to explain why you feel this way.

However, an imposter syndrome expert Valerie Young, who wrote a book on this subject, The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women, has found patterns in people who experience imposter feelings. Here they are. 

5 Types of people who tend to experience imposter syndrome feelings mostly

  • “Perfectionists” – if you’re one of them, you set extremely high expectations for yourself. You tend to feel like a failure even if you meet 99% of your goals. Any small mistake makes you question your own competence. I’m sure you know by now that perfection is very destructive. Do you equally know that you can fight it with excellence? How? Click here to read more
  • “Experts” – if you’re one of them, you feel the need to know every piece of information before you start anything. You constantly look for new certifications or training to improve your skills. You might be hesitant to ask a question or speak up during a networking event because you’re afraid of looking stupid. 
  • “Natural genius” – when everything comes easy to you, the moment you struggle or need to work hard to accomplish something, you start thinking you aren’t good enough.
  • “Soloists” feel they have to accomplish tasks on their own, and if they need to ask for help, they think that means they are a failure or a fraud.
  • As a “Supermen” or “superwomen” you push yourself to work harder than those around you to prove that you’re not an imposter. You feel the need to succeed in all aspects of life and may feel stressed when you’re not accomplishing something.

If you found yourself in any of the types above, then I invite you to read the rest of this blog.

Seven strategies that will help you deal with the imposter syndrome. 

  1. Recognize when you have such thoughts and feelings of inadequacy. Acknowledge and name them. Awareness is the first step to any change. Without knowing that you have such feelings, it will be hard to deal with them.  
  2. Share them with a trusted friend, a mentor, or a coachTalking through anything with a trusted person brings relief and allows to look at the challenge from a different perspective. Not only your trustee can listen to your struggle but also help you deal with it.
  3. Reframe your thinking. It’s normal to have a moment of doubt, but the key here is not to let the doubt take over the control of your actions. So next time you get the feeling, remind yourself that no one knows it all, and no one is perfect. You learn by doing and the more you do to more you know. Remind yourself that your successes are the result of your hard work and making it happen for yourself and not luck. Visualize your next success.
  4. Know that you’re not alone.  Over 70% of people experience imposter syndrome in one form or another regularly. Even more, have such thoughts occasionally. Quite often, they are the most successful and accomplished ones. In a way, most of us live in a “pluralistic ignorance,” which means that we occasionally doubt our ability but think that we’re the only one feeling this way. Isn’t there something comforting in knowing that you’re not the only person on the planet with such feelings? If others have them and can deal with them, you can as well!
  5. Stop comparing yourself to others. Yes, I get it, many other people do what you do. Have similar or the same business, speak on the same topics, or apply for the same job. But remember, you are unique. The experiences you’ve had in your life, combined with the skills you have are your competitive advantage. They shape whatever you do in a unique way. Your work is important and needed; so share it. Don’t rob the world from what you have to offer. You never know who you can help and inspire.  
  6. Focus on providing value to others. When you take the center of your attention from you and channel it on serving and helping others, magic happens. This way, instead of thinking of challenges as failures, you can treat them as an opportunity to learn. Think about it, because of such learnings you end up providing even more value to your clients, audience or employer. 
  7. Take action. There is nothing better than conquers any doubt or fear like action. The more we do of something, the more we learn and the more confident we become. Still not convinced? Read this
    Moreover, taking action also means asking for help. As a business coach, I work with my clients not only on business strategies or hard business skills but also on their mindset. If you have a mentor or a coach, don’t be scared of telling them about your thoughts. They hold you back, and people who care about you can help you overcome them.

Closing Thoughts

At the end of the day, here is what I want to tell you: You are here for a reason. In your business, your life, your job, you are worthy, talented, and competent. You know much more than you give yourself credit for. You are much better than you think you are. You are much smarter than you think you are. Remember that. And if you think repeating it to yourself won’t help, then sometimes all you need is a little boost. Maybe it’s having someone believing in you more than you do.

2020 is around the corner, wouldn’t it be amazing to enter it with full confidence in your abilities and strategic plan for your business? How about systems and habits that will allow you not only carry out the plan but also feel amazing and keep imposter syndrome thoughts to the negligible minimum.

If you said yes to those questions, I invite you to join me in my Biz&Life Balance online group coaching program. In it, over six weeks we’ll be working on ensuring that 2020 is your best year ever, not only in your business but also life. Interested? Click the button below to find out more!

Stories are all the rage. Use them to grow your business

One of the best memories of my childhood is when my grandmothers told me bedtime stories that you cannot even find in the children’s books. Their grandmothers told them the very same stories, passed on from generation to generation.

Did you enjoy the stories that your parents or grandparents told you each night before bed? I bet you did.

Since the beginning of time, before we invented writing and reading, humans told each other stories passing the learned wisdom about the world year over year, century over a century. They are our lifeline, and we keep inventing new ways of telling them: mouth-to-mouth, writing, visual, film, and now digital.

Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world.
Robert McKee

Why are the stories so compelling?

There is a scientific explanation to this thanks to a group of neuroscientists at Princeton and Claremont Universities who studied this phenomenon.

Their studies found that when we listen to a story that resonates with us, our levels of oxytocin hormone go up just like when we cuddle with a loved one or when mother and a newborn baby bond. Oxytocin is called a “feel good” or “love” hormone because it boosts our feeling of empathy, compassion, and trust.

Moreover, the neuroscientists discovered that when listening to a well-told story, the same areas in the brain light up in both listener and storyteller. Your brain, as a listener, mimics one of the storyteller’s. In other words, when you listen to a great story, your mind places you inside the story and reacts as if you were experiencing it yourself. At that very moment, it cannot tell the difference between reality and the story.

I’m 100% sure that you’ve experienced it at least once when reading an amazing book you couldn’t put down or watching a fantastic movie, haven’t you?

 The studies have also shown that stories can change our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. No wonder they are so powerful in business when used in marketing and branding.

Stories & Your Business

There are many ways you can use stories in your business. I’d like to share a couple that you can start using right away.

1.     Your Personal Brand Story.

If you’re an influencer or an entrepreneur with a focus on personal branding that’s not news to you. However, you should think about personal branding even if you sell other companies’ products or your business name doesn’t carry your name. When you lead by example and combine it with a  solid strategy, you can help your business grow and differentiate in the market with personal branding. No one is you. You are unique, the only one in the world and that’s powerful!

Don’t forget – no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell. – Charles de Lint

So write a story of how you started your business; what was the “aha” moment when a light lit up in your brain, and you decided to venture into it.  Maybe you can include the evolution of your business, your mission, vision, and values and how they came about.

Once you have it, share it. There are many places and occasions you’ll have an opportunity to do that:

  • Your “About” web page,
  • Any speaking engagements, guest blogging or podcasts,
  • Networking events, etc.

Not sure where to start? I will gladly chat with you and help! Reach out to me via PM or join me in the amazing group Businesswoman with Passion 4 Life where I share lots of free resources that will guide you thru it!

2.     Your marketing copies

One of the more powerful ways to craft a compelling marketing copy is through the use of a classical type of story. Because in it,  you can make your customer the main character, a “hero” and your products or services a mentor that helps the hero overcome challenges. Just like Luke Skywalker had Yoda and or Gandalf was a mentor to various heroes in the “Lord of the Rings” series.

The second option for an excellent story is to use data and clever visualization of it, especially when your customers are mature businesses with many levels of decision making. As the old saying goes: “a picture is worth a thousand words.” And this holds true, especially with data.

Thirdly, in the digital world, pictures became a powerful way to tell a story. A collage or even a single image can spark a viral conversation on social media or become a trigger to a story you write in a copy. Let me show you an example below.

3. Visual Brand Story for Stairway to Leadership

You’re never going to kill storytelling because it’s built-in the human plan. We come with it. – Margaret Atwood
  1. Simplicity & balance – I value simplicity in my life and business as same as Leonardo Da Vinci, I believe it’s “the ultimate sophistication.” The simplicity makes balance possible. Without balance, we cannot feel fully fulfilled & happy. That’s why I coach my clients to build healthy businesses that allow them to lead a holistic life
  2. Growth – I love to learn, grow first, then share everything I know. I promote excellence not only in what I do but also help my clients move away from perfectionism and embrace excellence. 
  3. Courage – the most pivotal moments in my life happened because of 5 seconds of courage mustered u to make them happen. I want to remember that I have it and use it more often, as well as inspire the same in people around me. We all have it and should be tapping into it more often to achieve our full potential.
  4. Nature – love spending time in nature. It’s calming, grounding, and helps me be creative. Green is my favorite color because of its infinite amount of variations in nature. That’s why I chose it as my primary branding color.
  5. Giving back – I am grateful for my life and everything in it. My need to give back is the extension of gratefulness. I volunteer, and a percentage of Stairway to Leadership profits is donated to charities supporting women and kids.
  6. Diversity – tolerance & respect for diversity, there is no better place in the world for that than Canada. And although we’re not perfect, I’m proud to be living in here and feel totally at home because of the value alignment.
  7. Family & friends – they are the most important people in my life.
  8. Fruits & veggies – love them all, always did, and healthy eating is essential to me. Fun fact: as a kid in communist Poland, I didn’t always have access to tropical fruits, so whenever I got my hands on them, I would devour them instantly.
  9. Chocolate – I LOVE chocolate 😊.

To finish up, I wanted to probably state the obvious but no matter the story you craft in your business, it must be truthful. There will be many ways to tell it, and each can engage a different audience, but it must be rooted in integrity. Lack of trust and confusion is the number one killer of any brand.

I hope that if you haven’t tried yet to use stories in your business, this article inspired you to do so. And if you don’t know where to start or need help with proofreading a story you crafted, let’s connect.  PM me on social media (links below) or sent a note via maggie@stairwaytoleadership.com

I offer free brainstorming sessions with lots of advice you can apply right away!

The Holistic Approach To Avoiding Procrastination and Moving Your Business Forward

Most of us experience prostration occasionally. However, some people procrastinate more than they’d like to, and 20% do it chronically even though it causes them real mental pain. How? By bringing forward remorse of not being productive, not accomplishing the goals they set out for themselves. It, in turn, creates negative self-talk and the loss of belief that you can achieve anything you set your mind to if you strategically plan and action it.

What exactly is procrastination then?

The more modern definition says that procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing a task or set of tasks that you were set to do. However, this human state though is so old, that even ancient Greeks coined a term Akrasia to describe situations when humans act against their better judgment. In other words, when you know, you should do something good for you, but instead, you do something else or nothing at all. You could say the term Arkasia is the ancient version of procrastination.

Let’s move on now to the main culprits for procrastination and how to avoid them (so that it doesn’t take you away from achieving your business or personal goals)

1. Lack of Clarity

When you lack clarity on what you want to achieve, it’s hard to focus.

If you don’t have any goals and only a vague idea of what you’d like to achieve, it’s almost impossible to get there. Then even if you have goals, but they are big and not specific enough, it’s hard to know where and how to start, let alone to accomplish them.

Don’t get me wrong; having bold goals is essential. It pushes your limits; you grow and end up achieving more than you ever could by aiming low. However, dreaming big is not sufficient, you need to break down those Big Hairy and Audacious Goals into smaller achievable chunks.

When you have that, you can easily envision the future you in your dream business. It then helps your mind see a long-term reward and concentrate on it as opposed to being only drawn to instant gratification. Moreover, crushing smaller goals derived straight from your BHAG’s gives your brain enough instant gratification to stay focused on the long term vision.

If you commit to nothing – you’ll be distracted by everything.
James Clear

If a lack of clarity and focus are your reasons for procrastination in your business and you want help, then I have a challenge for you. Challenge yourself and join me for a FREE training Clarity & Focus starting September 23rd. In it, I will be walking you step by step on how to set strong and strategic foundations for your biz and drive clear and measurable BHAG ‘s. Afterward, you’ll be able to easily break them down into achievable chunks and end the pain!

To get in is as simple as sending me a PM or email at maggie@stirawaytoleadership.com with a one-liner “I want in.”

2. Perfectionism

Perfectionism is a thief of time, draining your energy. It’s often paralyzing, preventing you from completing the tasks you set for yourself. No wonder it’s a perfect breeding ground for procrastination!

The truth is that perfection is always out of reach. That’s why it has such adverse effects not only on your productivity but also peace of mind.

 If perfectionism is the cause of your procrastination, then the mindset that you can embrace instead is EXCELLENCE.

As Harriet Braiker said: “Striving for excellence motives you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.”

Unlike the big scary “P,” the pursuit of excellence keeps you focused on what matters. It’ll fill you with energy and optimism. It’ll foster a willingness to try new things and take risks because you’ll be centering your attention on the journey, not a perfect outcome. And you know what happens next? You’ll find yourself surpassing the goals you set! For more motivation and inspiration to change your mindset to excellence, click here.

3. Overscheduling yourself

If you’re a high-achiever focused on accomplishing goal after goal after goal, experiencing procrastination must have a very demoralising effect on you.

Have you ever thought that it’s the overscheduling that’s the leading cause of this?

I know it might seem counter-intuitive. Especially because in point 1, I’m talking about setting clear goals. But it’s not when you look at yourself as a holistic human being. 

As humans, we need to take care of our four dimensions to fully tap into our potential: heart, body, mind, and soul. Having a balance between them allows us to be most effective in professional and personal lives.

When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water. – Benjamin Franklin

When you overschedule yourself and leave no room for the brain to relax and have some white space. It also needs time to rest. If your mind lacks that, you quickly become mentally exhausted. It, in turn, quickly leads to high stress and contributes to physical exhaustion. Moreover, any time something unexpected happens that you need to deal with, you fall behind. Because of your crazy schedule, any deviation and things pile up to a never-ending to-do-list.

Sounds familiar?

The first step to ease this problem is to relax your schedule. Next, ensure that each day, you make room for mental and physical breaks. Then try to vary your days so that each week you accomplish a combination of business and personal goals. If you’re interested in reading more on how to treat yourself holistically, click here.

4. Presence of distractions

You probably also avoid starting a task that you feel uncomfortable doing. The discomfort comes from the fact that the job pushes you out of your comfort zone. For example: doing a live video on social media, designing a promo campaign with new software or picking up the phone and calling potential clients. No wonder it’s easy then to fall prey into a million distractions around you, especially when you run your business from home. The texts, emails, or FB messages are always there waiting for your answer and so easy to do. Or maybe it’s the pet that needs your attention or TV running in the background.

If it’s hard for you to tune out all distractions and focus on the task at hand, then try to ensure they aren’t present. Turn off the TV, go to a quiet room to work on the project and don’t take your phone in there. Make sure you’re not hungry before you start and that you’re doing it at a time when kids don’t need your assistance. You can also make it easier on yourself to start, for example, if you want to work on an important presentation, maybe prepare a template for it the day before. This way, all you need to do is to open it and create content when it’s time to work on it.

5. Fear

Sometimes you might procrastinate on something (for example starting a business you’ve been dreaming about) because of fear. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of being ridiculed or criticized.

My first advice is – understand fear first. Next, know that you are not alone. Most of the people experience the same doubts as you, whether they’re incredibly successful in what they’re doing or just starting. Lastly, take action. Taking action despite the fear is not only what differentiates the most successful people from the rest but also is the only way to conquer fear. Why? Because procrastination breeds fear. It’s more painful to be sitting there thinking about the task you want to do but are avoiding than actually doing it. When you start working on your goals, the pain dissipates, and confidence kicks in.

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.  Dale Carnegie

All in all, when you don’t have clear goals i.e., the destination for your business and a clear system for deciding, procrastination almost naturally creeps in. It’s easy then to use “I don’t feel like it” excuse and not to do something. However, the damaging mental effects procrastination has on our well-being are huge. The good news though is that you can fight it and overcome it! And it’s soooo worth it in the end.

That’s why I’m offering my FREE training, Clarity & Focus Challenge. I want to help you start fighting procrastination and the feeling of overwhelm so you can start crushing your goals in your business. 2020 is coming, and the sooner you start, the better you’ll be prepared to make it your best year ever!

To book your spot for the training is as simple as sending me a PM or email at maggie@stirawaytoleadership.com with a one-liner “I want in.” I hope you take on this challenge and I’ll see you there! 🙂

Need More Time? Learn How To Say “NO” (And Improve Your Business)

The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything. ~ Warren Buffet

A lot of people have a hard time saying “No.” They say “Yes” to favors, asks for help, additional services, etc. even though everything inside them then screams “no – don’t agree to that!” No wonder they end up having hard time managing their time. Have you ever been in this situation? Saying “yes” to something you really wanted to say “no” to?

Why do you have such a hard time saying “NO”?

It’s because people aren’t loners, we live in groups. And thus, we want to be approved by our environment. Included, not excluded. Consequently, we act in ways that favor social approval; one of them is saying “Yes” to other people’s requests. 

Such a need for social approval fosters our feelings of wanting to:

  • be part of the group (socially accepted),
  • be a team player (cooperation),
  • do what we can to avoid ostracism, criticism, and exclusion,
  • care about other people’s opinion of us,
  • improve our self-esteem by popularity (reputation).

As you can see, it’s easy to go overboard with “yes.” The need for social acceptance, being liked or well thought of by others could take over your life. The trap, though here is that if you overcommit with “Yes’s” too much, you end up saying “No” to personal priorities and can miss out on opportunities as well. You can end up stressed, anxious, and develop regrets over having to compromise to honor all your commitments. And what good such feelings bring on you or others?

Live your life for you, not for anyone else. Don’t let the fear of being judged, rejected or disliked stop you from being yourself ~Sonya Parker

So, what can you do then to start saying “No” more often, gain more time to work on achieving your goals, and improve your business? Here are five strategies to help you do that. 

1. Be clear on your priorities.

When you clearly define priorities and goals and take action on them, you set boundaries for yourself and start utilizing your time more effectively. That’s why you’ll be able to assess if the request coming from the other person aligns with your goals or not. As such it’s more natural to decline: “Your idea sounds great politely! It’s just that it doesn’t align with my priorities this month. Maybe X can help (you can refer then to a person to someone whose priorities might be aligned with the request)?”

2. Stop & listen first

Instead of just saying “Yes” to all incoming requests, partner with requesters to fully understand the ask, and maybe you decide together what makes sense for you to do, and in what time frame. For example, if your client is asking for a “small favor” right away, understand first if indeed it’s small and you can fit it into your current schedule. If it’s Big Work on the other hand then politely mention that this wasn’t part of the original agreement and that you can quote the job. Then upon approval agree on a timeframe that will work for both.

3. Understand & change your beliefs if needed

There is a reason behind every action. Identify the beliefs that lead you to say “yes” often. Perhaps you believe that saying “no” makes you look bad or that you’ll be rejected by the person asking. Then write down all the consequences saying “yes” all the time would have on your life, business and well-being. Next, create more powerful beliefs. For example, excellent quality is more important than quantity. Saying “no” is respectable when it comes from the right place. People respect others who respect themselves.

4. Balance “Yes” & “No” 

When you say “yes” to what is in front of you, you’re saying “no” to something else that might be more important but less visible. For a few days, try assessing what you’d be giving up and if it is worth it. Improving your services or products? Speaking engagement? Potential client meeting? Your family? The exercise? If it’s worth the loss, then go for it with your arms wide open. When you continually make such conscious decisions, you can balance what you’re saying “yes” and “no” to overtime.

5. Throw the guilt out the window

Guilt is often the culprit that causes us to say “yes” more often than “no.” We don’t want to disappoint people. If you are guilty of feeling bad when you say “no,” recognize this. Write the word on a sticky note and stick somewhere you can see often. Such visual on what’s driving your decisions to say “yes” can help rewire your brain to say “no” more often.

And if you can’t quit saying “yes” cold turkey, try changing your habit through baby steps. For example, by offering the alternative to the ask: “I’m not able to help you with the move the entire weekend but can come over on Saturday for a couple of hours and help you pack.”

All in all, learning to say “no” when it aligns with your goals and values can be liberating and eye-opening.

You’ll have more time to devote to activities that are important to you (your business and life). You’ll end up with less stress, anger, or resentment. You’ll have more energy, optimism, and a greater sense of control over your time and life.

Remember, we only have a finite number of years to live. Therefore, don’t be afraid to take control of your time so you can live your life to the fullest.

And if you need help in practicing how to say no politely and professionally without sounding rude, I have prepared for you a list with 39 Ways to Respectfully Say “NO.” Click here to download it so you can start practicing now!

You have a freedom of choice. Use it. Say ‘NO’ to things that don’t align with your values and priorities. – Stairway to Leadership

Why Branding Through Leadership Is a Winning Strategy for Your Business

When you hear the word “branding” – what do you think about? 

Coca-Cola, Nike, Apple, Starbucks, or Dove? So, huge corporations whose names represent the entire product or services lines or even whose individual products represent a band on their own (ex. Dove – Unilever). Those brands have a life of their own. Hardly anyone knows the names of the executive teams or employees working to maintain the brands’ reputation and market them. People buy the products and services mostly because they trust those brands, they know them and are used to them.

Fun fact: Coca-Cola brand is recognized
by 94% of global population.

What about you when you are a entrepreneur or a small business owner? How does it work, is it even worth it? Let’s see if I can answer some of these questions for you. 

You are the Leader of the brand; you ARE the brand. 

Branding became more critical than ever before for small business. Why? Because nowadays you’re visible on many different platforms and communicate with possibly unlimited number of potential customers through many different channels: social media, e-mails, printed materials, and of course, in person.  

Therefore, whether you’re aware of it or not, especially when running solo, you define the brand in your business. On the flip side, the brand represents “you” as well, as it includes everything you do or claim to do as a business. That’s why it’s so important not only to be aware of it but also intentional and strategic about it.

Here’re 3 key benefits of building a strong brand:

  • It creates a competitive advantage. Even if someone tries to copy what you do, they cannot be YOU. You are unique, which makes your brand unique;
  • Branding allows you to harness the power of emotions, connect with your clients and create memories for them;
  • This is how you can build customer loyalty. People get attached to brands, stories they tell, and how they make them feel. Customers recommend brands, not just individual products or services;
Determine who you are and what your brand is, and what you’re not. The rest of it is just a lot of noise. – Geoffrey Zakarian

How do I create my brand strategy, then?

Firstly, know that your brand is your promise to your customers. It tells them what they can expect from your products or services. It’s connected to who you are that’s why it also is a differentiator from your competition.  

Secondly, given the first statement, it’s important to know who you want to be and who people perceive you to be. Answering the below questions will help you start:

  1. What is your business mission?
  2. What values do you want your business to represent and be associated with?
  3. What are the qualities (benefits & features) of your product or services?
  4. What do your customers and prospects already think of your business?
  5. What do you want your brand promise to be?

Thirdly, think about a “voice,” a “persona” with human qualities that your brand needs to consistently portray across all the channels of communication. When you’re the brand, it means being aware of and intentional about how you communicate in various situations not only on social media, via e-mail or phone but also in person.

Next, now that you’ve developed the foundation you can build on it and dress it up with a tagline, logo, and colours. Then, of course, ensure that the branding visuals are always visible in your marketing & promotional materials, written customer communications, etc.

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently. – Warren Buffet

Lastly, be true to your brand. Customers won’t return to you, or refer you if you don’t consistently deliver on your brand promise. Consistency is key here – that’s how the trust and reputation of any business are built. If you can’t do this, your attempts at establishing a strong brand will fail.

All in all, working on any strategy in your business, branding included, can be hard, but it’s fun! It’s one of those important things you should schedule and do as it gives you a great return in the long run.

And if you need help with strategy building or learning & establishing a high-productivity system that will ensure you stay consistent, let’s talk, I can help! Click here and in 10 seconds you can set-up a chat with me if you’re open-minded to it.

Want to Know How to Move Things Forward in Your Business with Less Stress? Read This.

Did you know that over 30% of Canadians and 55% of Americans reported feeling significant stress in 2018? Everyone knows that stress is a massive problem in our modern society and the cause of many health issues people are experiencing.

While it’s probably impossible to eliminate stress from our lives, it’s definitely possible to reduce it to healthy levels. And when you do that, lots of other great things can happen 😊.

That’s why the one skill I want to talk about today is so critical for us to develop. Not only can it reduce your overall stress levels, but also allow you to move your business (and life!) forward in the direction you envisioned.

What is this, you ask?

Being Proactive.

If you are proactive, you make things happen, instead of waiting for them to happen to you. Active means “doing something.” The prefix “pro” means “before.” So, when you’re proactive, you’re ready to take action and matters in your hands, move forward, and prevent things you don’t want from happening. You’re in control of your journey.

On the opposite spectrum, being reactive is responding to things that already happened to you, i.e., “fire fighting.” In such a case, others and their priorities decide on the course of your business and very often life. No wonder this is stressful!

Our greatest danger is life is permitting the urgent things, to crowd out the important. – Charles E. Hummel

What Can You Do to Become More Proactive?

Firstly, have clarity on what’s important to you and your business. If you’re not sure how to start especially with your biz, this article can help you get going.

Secondly, learn how to distinguish important matters from the ones that may seem as such but really aren’t.

The most common distinction that can help is derived from so-called Eisenhower’s Matrix that Stephen Covey popularized through his writings.

The matrix divides things we do into four categories:

  • Important & Urgent
  • Important & Non-Urgent
  • Non-Important & Urgent
  • Non-Important & Non-Urgent
What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.
Dwight Eisenhower

Lastly, proactive people prioritize the important non-urgent things and spend most of their time on them. The examples include business strategy planning, rest & relaxation time, building meaningful relationships in business and life, etc. Of course, they also spend time tending to urgent and important matters

What about the non-important issues then? Pro-active people manage these by delegation, outsourcing, if really necessary spending the minimum possible time doing them or simply not doing them at all.

Reactive people, on the other hand, spend most of their time in both urgent categories, getting exhausted by constant fire fighting. No wonder then that when they get a break from that, they end up spending on non-important very often mindless activities just to relax from all the stress.

Benefits of Being Proactive

There are many benefits to proactivity, and I’m sure that if you read thus far, you’ve already figured out most of them. Nevertheless, here is a quick point summary:

  • Proactive people are less stressed;
  • They have fewer fires to extinguish overall as the more time they spend on planning and making things happen, the less urgent  and unexpected things happen for them;
  • Proactive people achieve better long-term results in business and life. It’s because they focus on what’s important consistently this way making more with the time we all have in the same amount 24/7/365;
  • They feel happier and more fulfilled as they spend time on what’s most important to them.
Being proactive means focusing most of our time on what’s important. And the Important is what brings balance & long-term success. Find time to be proactive. Stairway to Leadership

Start Now, Take On My Challenge

I’d like to challenge you today to start now and consciously take steps to become more proactive. Figure out what’s most important to you in your business and life and start spending more and more time on those things. At the same time slowly eliminate non-important stuff along the way.

All in all, you’re or can be in control of your time. How you spend it, determines how you balanced your life is overall.

And before you leave, I wanted to thank you for reading my article by preparing a downloadable tool to help you become more proactive. It contains a decision worksheet based on Eisenhower’s Matrix to help you prioritize plus 10 amazing tips to reduce daily stress and be more focused on the important!  Click here to download the “Ultimate Guide to Reduce Your Stress & Increase Results.”

The urgent finds you; you have to find the important. Important is not fast. It is slow. It is not superficial. It is deep. And as a result, it’s extremely powerful. When important matters go wrong, they undermine everything. When they go right, they sustain everything. – Stewart Brand

GRIT: Do You Really Need It in Business? Three Tips to Help You Decide.

What is your opinion on the below?

 Is a success in business or anything else based on a bit of luck and IQ of the person? Or does it come from hard work and consistent effort?

The most recent research has shown that we overestimate the effect of more luck-based characteristics such as IQ and underestimate the importance of dedication and perseverance. Grit is the better indicator of a person’s overall success than their IQ, social environment they come from, their education or connections they have.

 So what exactly is grit, you’ll ask?

Angela Duckworth, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, who conducted the research, defines

grit as passion and perseverance to achieve long-term and meaningful goals.

In other words, it is the ability to persist in something you feel passionate about and not give up when you face obstacles or experience utter failure. This kind of passion about having direction and staying committed to tasks that may be difficult or boring. 

If you’d like to read more details on the research itself, I highly recommend Angela Duckworth’s book “Grit. The Power of Passion and Perseverance”

However, here to illustrate how grit can propel you in life, I’m going to tell you a story that is not in there. It’s the story I discovered through reading “Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls” to my 7-year-old daughter.

Story of Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland  discovered her passion for ballet at the age of 13, which is quite late for anyone to become a professional athlete.  Her family was homeless at the time living in a motel. Her newly discovered passion for this dance and perseverance in grueling ballet practice brought her to win multiple awards, scholarships and perform significant ballet roles.

Then, at the age of 29, she suffered a severe tibia injury that nearly brought her career to an end. The most inspiring and fascinating part about it is how it became so severe.

Misty suffered the injury right before her first-ever performance as a soloist in the Metropolitan Opera House. She was to perform the female main character in the “Firebird” ballet. It was a historical night, not only was the performance first for Misty but also she was the first African American ballerina ever to do that.

Despite the injury, she decided to perform and hide it. She didn’t want to let down her community who came out that night to support her.

Her performance was magnificent and acclaimed by the critics, but her injury became so severe that shortly after it she needed to undergo serious surgery on her tibia.

What’s most inspiring is that she didn’t give up dance afterward. On the contrary, she treated her recovery time as the opportunity to become even a better dancer. And she proved that in the end when in 2015 she became the first African American prima ballerina ever for the American Ballet Theatre.

Why is grit important?

I’m sure the story I shared above answers this question quite well. However, to summarize, grit is vital because it’s a driver of achievement and success. Being naturally smart and talented are great, but to truly thrive, we need the ability to persevere. No-one’s path to success is strewn with rose petals. We all encounter some setbacks or failures. It’s the way we handle them that determines how successful we are in any given area of our lives. That’s why without grit, talent may be nothing more than unmet potential.

So now you’re probably thinking, can grit be learned?

Or if I already have some, can I boost it?

Even though the research on this subject is young and there is still much to be discovered, the answer is yes!

Here are the 3 things you can do to boost your grit.

1. Develop a Growth Mindset

The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.

C. JoyBell C.

Developing a love of learning and continuous improvement will challenge you to always look for new ways of doing things. As humans, we are wired to grow, and our brains have limitless potential. Nurturing that potential and using it for self-development will also lead to us influencing our outside world to grow with us.

2. Treat Setbacks as Opportunities to Improve

You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.

Michelle Obama

Just like Misty Copeland treated her injury to become a better dancer, we can also learn to treat setbacks, not as failures but opportunities to get better. And I get it, it’s tough. That’s why we sometimes need support from others: our friends, family, community, or professionals. And there’s no shame in this. No can do it all alone.  The important part is to recognize the need and ask for it.

The need for support is the reason why I have started an on-line community Businesswomen with Passion 4 Life. My vision for it is to create a community for women where we can share our passions, collaborate, and grow together. Where we can support each other when we experience setbacks and have fun together at the same time!

I’d love for you to be part of this community :).  Join now by clicking here!

3. Create Habits that Will Help You Stick with Your Long-Term Goals

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.

Jim Rohn

Since the definition of grit above talks about long term goals and achieving them, building other habits that will help you do that makes the perseverance part easier. Here, I’m talking about anything that will allow you to be healthier, more creative, knowledgeable or disciplined, etc.

And if you need help with defining long-term goals for your business or career; or identifying and building new habits to help you achieve them, I’m always happy to help. Are you open-minded for a leadership accelerator session? Yes? Then click here to schedule it.

As shown above, having grit is a potent indicator of achieving success in life, in whatever way you define it. Grit is not only passion, but also perseverance to pursue and achieve your long-term goals. We also know that grit can be thought to children and definitely boosted in adults. And the best thing is that like with any habit, the more we practice grit, the more ingrained it becomes.  I challenge you then to start today by identifying the ways you can do it in your life or business.

Before we conclude, if you are a Businesswoman With Passion 4 Life as a whole and would enjoy the support of other amazing ladies in doing it, join my online community today, by clicking here!

The Best Advice You Could Ever Get About Time Management

Time. Time it’s the only resource that is distributed equally amongst everyone. We all have 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Time is the most precious resource we all have, as well.

And yet, despite all this, according to research time management is # 3 challenge for most business owners.

The same struggles plague the corporate world. For many leaders, there aren’t enough hours in a day or days in a week to complete the pile of tasks from the to-do lists.

And yet some people seem to have the whole “time management” thing figured out. They accomplish a LOT and are not only highly successful but also happy with their lives. Those people achieved what most of the others are after financial success and balanced, happy life.

How do they do it? Here are the 5 Best Pieces of Advice you will ever get.

1. Focus Only on Priorities

Productivity is less about time management and more about attention management. Adam Grant

The first truth is that no one can do it all in one day, one week, one month or even one year. Trying to attack a to-do list that is just a compilation of things that come up during the day without a plan, it a straight path to being busy but not overly productive.  It, in turn, leads to feeling overwhelmed and discouragement.

That’s why having calrity on and defining your priorities, in your business and personal life is the first step to leading a balanced and fulfilling life. Once you know what’s most important, it’s time to shift your focus and efforts only to those things and slowly eliminate all the rest.  

And to help you keep the focus, I’ve prepared a list of 10 Powerful Tips to Help You Stay Focused like High-Achievers. You can start using them today if you click here to download the list.

2.     Ask for Help

Ask for help not because you’re weak, but because you want to remain strong. Les Brown

Secondly, you don’t have to do it all alone. That’s why getting out of the mindset that I’m the only one who can do it right is critical. You need to let go of the need to control everything. On the one hand, this will free the time you need to grow your business, yourself, or just rest and enjoy life. And on the other, it will give growth opportunities to the people that help you.

How? Here are three examples:

–       If you’re a solo entrepreneur, start outsourcing some non-revenue generating tasks to specialists as soon as you’re able to. These fellow entrepreneurs core competencies lie in the functions you need help with. Thanks to your business, they will grow and thanks to their support, you’ll have time to focus on expanding as well.

–       The same principle applies in the corporate world. When you’re in a leadership position, there are tasks that you can delegate to your team members. Tasks that can keep them challenged and grow their skills. If done right, they’ll flourish, and you’ll be able to take on this new project you were hoping to get involved in.

–       And at home. It’s OK for your kids to do some cleaning, help to prep the meals, or do other tasks. It teaches them responsibility and builds character. Taking care of the household is the responsibility of everyone living under that roof, not just yours. And you can make it fun for everyone too!

3.     Say “NO”

You’ve gotta keep control of your time, and you can’t unless you say no. You can’t let people set your agenda in life. Warren Buffet

Thirdly, once you are clear on your overall priorities, to keep your laser focus, you need to start saying “No” to everything else.  Here are some examples:

–       Staying active is your priority, but the only time you can do that coincides with your TV time. What do you say “No” to?

–       What if a good colleague asks you to help out with a project that has not much to do with your goals and responsibilities at this time?

–       Or maybe your best friend asked you to get your business involved in a collaboration that doesn’t align with your mission and vision?

There are a lot of choices we make every day (small and big). Each of them impacts how we use our. And sometimes it’s hard and tiring to say “No” this many times. But to paraphrase Warren Buffet: this is the difference between successful people and extremely successful people – the latter say “No” to almost everything.

4.     Lead a Healthy Lifestyle

To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise, we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. Buddha

Fourth, live healthily. I know I’m not discovering a new theory of special relativity here and just joining the mantra of doctors, and most health industry professionals. But we all agree that health is a foundation to leading a good life, don’t we? Yes, there’ll be things happening to us we cannot control, but we need to own what we can. To be creative, innovative, feel happy, and fulfilled, we need to take care of our bodies. The food we eat can damage or heal them, prevent diseases, and positively impact our daily emotions and energy.

The amount of rest we take (sleep, breaks during the workdays, time off on weekends, vacation, etc.) determines how well we regenerate, process new information, and how energetic we are. Rest also calms the stress and overwhelm off the daily buzz.

Additionally, how active we are, affects how fit our body is, how well it absorbs the food we feed it, and how well mentally we feel.

All in all, there are many ways to stay healthy.

5.     Look at Yourself as a Whole Person

Balanced & happy life comes when we spend time nourishing our body, mind, heart & soul. You are a whole person. Treat yourself like one. Stairway to Leadership

Lastly, I strongly believe in us treating ourselves and each other as wholesome equal human beings.

When I’m working, I’m not just a businesswoman; I’m also a mother partner, a friend; I’m me a whole person. I’m a leader of my entire life, have the same beliefs, and stand up for the same values everywhere. To lead a balanced and fulfilled life,  we must spend our time and energy on all aspects of our lives, each part of our wholesome person, as opposed to just some of them. And that’s why we need clarity on our priorities first.

To conclude, the five pieces of advice I shared with you above are the foundation of healthy time management that will lead you to balanced life you seek.

If you resonate with them, I’d like to ask you some questions:

–       Do feel overwhelmed by the amount of work you need to do to keep your business running and successful?

–       Do you find yourself procrastinating sometimes or starting at the screen paralyzed instead of moving the needle and doing what you hoped you would do?

–       Do you find yourself easily distracted by other “urgent” things that take over and put the real important ones on the back burner?

If you answered yes to one of those questions, think about how often it happens? If once in a while, don’t worry and move on, it happens to all of us. But if more than you’d like to, then maybe it’s time to take action and make some changes.

Or maybe you’re doing great in all of them. If that’s the case, congratulations! For you, I prepared 10 Powerful Tips to Help You Stay Focused Like High-Achievers. You can download them now by clicking here.

Top Three Reasons Why Women Start Their Entrepreneurial Journey

Did you know that since 1977, the number of women-owned business increased over 3,000% in the US? Or that Canadian women rank 1st in terms of involvement with newer businesses, which means we are ahead of the US and all the other countries? We’ve entered and are living in the era of women. More and more of us are taking charge not only of our personal life but especially a professional one.

So, the natural question that comes up is why so many women are turning to entrepreneurship?

There are many reasons, but a lot of them fall into three main groups.

1.     Time Flexibility

Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose.

Thomas A. Edison

For most of us, flexibility with our time is more important than making a certain amount of money. Personally, I’m definitely in this majority. We want to spend more time with our loved ones, have the ability to lead a healthy lifestyle, and also carve out some time for us. Having a flexible schedule that we can set helps to achieve such goals.  Time is the most valuable resource all of us have in an equal amount: 365 days a year, 24 hrs each day. No wonder we want to be able to use it on our terms.

Additionally, such flexibility gives us a feeling of independence. Being our own boss puts us in charge of the schedule, which most jobs in the corporate world have a hard time providing.

And yet, despite the above, time management is one of the top three challenges facing all entrepreneurs (women and men). It’s falling right after financing and ability to find a steady stream of clients. Because it’s such an essential aspect of a balanced life, I’ll be writing more about this subject in the coming weeks.

However, if you feel like you could use some help now, click here and let’s schedule a chat. I promise, not only it will be fun but also you’ll come out of it with some great strategies to help you overcome this challenge. 😊

2.     Pursuit of Passion

Your purpose explains what you are doing with your life. Your vision explains how you are living your purpose. Your goals enable you to realize your vision.

Bob Proctor

Secondly, women start their entrepreneurial journey to do what they love. I think it’s mainly  because doing what we’re passionate about gives us a purpose. Or even the other way, our purpose drives what we love and what we want to do in our lives. And this is nothing new. As a matter of fact, the need for purpose is one of the defining characteristics of human beings. We all crave it and can suffer severe psychological consequences if we don’t have it. Purpose is one of the fundamental components of a fulfilling and happy life.

In other words, passions and drive to do things in life are tightly joined to our purpose or the search of thereof.

And that’s a fantastic thing! Because as a result, our businesses have a heart. They are mission-driven, and this way can become truly successful. I wrote more on this subject a few weeks ago. Click here to access the article if you’re interested in reading more.

3.     Financial Independence

If you want to be financially free, you need to become a different person than you are today and let go of whatever has held you back in the past.

Robert Kiyosaki

The third group of reasons why women turn to become business owners falls under finances. In here we can find main sub-reasons such as:

–       Being able to charge what we are worth. Unfortunately, the gender pay gap in the corporate world is still real, even in the most developed countries like ours. Rather than spending time and energy trying to fight that inside a corporation, why not change in by starting your own business?

–       Being in charge of the future. The corporate world is not as stable as it used to be many years ago. Many women have experienced the loss of their jobs and working for yourself means you’re in the driver seat deciding on the direction for your journey.

All in all, there are many reasons why women turn to entrepreneurship. Most of them align with those of men. However, what’s different is the weight of importance for each. 

Given the above points, I’m curious to know what your reasons to start your business were? Or if you have not started one yet and maybe just thinking about it, I’d still like to know why? Mine, in essence, fell into all three main groups.

Please share yours in the comments below or even send me a note with your story. I’d love to read it. Or better yet! Maybe you’d like to share it through a guest blog here? I love great collaborations! If you are up for it, give me a shout and let’s do it!