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December 2013 Archive

the power of narrowing

Once upon a time I remember in college they would teach us that learning was a good thing – that the more you learn, the better off you’d be in the real world – or more specifically – the workforce. And while I whole-heartedly agree that knowledge is power, I think it creates a sort of misconception that we’d be expected to use ALL of this knowledge. It creates a false truth in our heads that being a jane-of-all-trades is highly useful for the future. After almost 6 years in business for myself, I strongly disagree that a jane-of-all-trades should be your goal in business. I actually think it’s in the narrowing of your field or expertise, where the sweet spot lies.

As I mentioned before, I do think multifaceted knowledge is a great thing – but not because you want to be OKAY at a lot of things. I think knowledge is power when you use it strategically – when you decide when, how and what to FOCUS on. I think the key to harnessing the power of knowledge is in elimination. It’s great to learn a lot, and in many areas, with the sole purpose of getting RID of the information or the directions that don’t fit.

So how do we go about cutting out which information/skills should stay and which ones should go?

1. First it comes in shifting this mindset that we’ve gotten into our heads – that it is a sign of success when we can do a lot of things well (enough), or that it’s a sign of strength that we have a LOT of offerings.

In fact, I truly believe it does the opposite. I believe when we spread out our offerings and offer too many things to our clients, that we actually get weaker, that the entirety of our work gets weaker. To illustrate my point – think of something pliable. Think about how when you stretch it and stretch it, the material becomes and thinner and weaker and soon may break. The key to start narrowing our focus is to truly BELIEVE it works. If we prune the bad branches/fruit – then the fruit that is flourishing in the plant THRIVES and gets stronger.

2. It’s easier to become successful when you are a big fish in a little pond, versus a small fish in a big pond.

Another thing to think about is how unique your offering is. It’s much easier to gain success and business when you are doing something that not many others do. This is another kind of narrowing. This could mean a narrowing of your clients. Maybe you only work with a certain type of business. You get KNOWN for working only in that niche, so your name grows like wildfire among that niche. It only takes a few people that are in love with your service to turn all their friends on to you.

3. It’s better to completely WOW a few, than to simply SATISFY many.

Go above and beyond with less clients. Instead of doing a few things for everyone, do amazing things for a just a few (click to tweet this). Charge more, lighten your load – but give those clients more added value and give them truly great “white glove” service. It is simply impossible to compete on price these days – you will NEVER win competing on price. Instead, you compete on value, on substance, on quality and on customer service. This is how you win hearts and minds, word-of-mouth, and how you truly become fulfilled in what you do and make a difference in other’s lives. This is what matters right?

Today, I’d love to encourage you to take stock of your offerings and perhaps make some changes. Do you have some things that you just aren’t in love with anymore, that are weakening your chain? Perhaps you have some NEW offerings that you think may take off like wildfire and will help you stand out?

Here’s how to get started:

Which areas do you have that:

  • Are the most fun for you and your clients
  • Garner the most acclaim
  • Make the most money?

What areas do you have that:

  • Are a drain on you or your clients
  • You dread doing
  • Take up too much of your time?

The areas that are your high-producing fruit, you keep, and you focus your energies on strengthening. The areas that are your weakest – you simply get rid of them. They aren’t working and they are a drain on what you’re doing well. You’ll be surprised at how quickly things will flourish with your prize fruit when you get rid of that dead weight.

Happy narrowing!!

The Holiday Procrastinator

Now that the first class of Design Life Project has wrapped up, I’m excited to start writing again on the Design Life Project. The Design Life Project class was nothing short of amazing and it was so fulfilling to see LIVES CHANGED! I could not be more pleased with the fabulous group of women we had join us, and I was in awe of their talent and determination! I’m excited to run the next class in 2014! The registration for the next class will be opening January 1st, so stay tuned!

Today I’d love to talk about procrastination. With the Holidays and the end of the year looming, I have been more distracted than ever before.

We are also BUSIER than ever before, so it is a tough combo to deal with sometimes. I find it very hard to focus when the allure of the holidays roll around. If you’re anything like me, the colder weather makes you just want to curl up with a cup of soup and sit by a fire. Sitting in an office chair in front of a computer is not as glamorous right? It seems hard to get any real work done this time of year.

So what makes us procrastinate? Is it just distractions? I don’t think so. Being distracted is definitely one part of the equation, but it’s not the only part of the equation. In an effort to up my holiday/new year productivity, I did some research on the topic. Here are the top 5 reason we procrastinate, and what we can do to combat them:

1. Easily Distracted

  • This one is the most obvious and is probably the most universal. We are easily distracted online, in person, or internally with our thoughts, worries or stresses.

What do we do to cut the distractions so that we can get productive? The first step is to purposefully clear the distractions or clutter. Notice what’s distracting you and actively take steps to get rid of it. Take off the notifactions on your phone. Close down Facebook. Close your office door and put a do not disturb sign up. Silence your cell phone. Clear off your desks and clear out your work environment to an blank slate. Get it cleared out and ready for a productive day!

2. Lack of Confidence

  • Sometimes we feel like we lack the confidence or skill to complete a task. It seems too big, too difficult, too hard for us to complete.

How can we build our confidence? Work on building yourself up. Focus on what you’re doing well, and praise yourself for the little things. If you feel you lack the skill, invest some time into yourself and learn. Build up your confidence and skill so that you can put your best foot forward and get it done!

3. Feeling Overwhelmed

  • We see a project that seems so overwhelmed that we get paralyzed into inactivity. This can happen easily if we are thinking in terms of the big picture.

What do we do when we are overwhelmed by a task? Break it down into baby steps. And then break those down into smaller steps. Set small deadlines for yourself along the way. Have smaller goals. Move forward. Take down the elephant one bite at a time. Also – remove judgement and the need to be perfect. As my lovely friend Lara loves to say – “Done is better than perfect”. Start anywhere, just start.

4. Creative Block

  • Sometimes we feel like we are blocked creatively and can’t come up with any new ideas.

How do we battle the Artist block when it gets in our way? We combat it by going in the opposite direction – get motivated. Get inspired. Remember why you started doing this in the first place, and FEED your creative soul. This of it like gas in our creative tank. Do whatever it is to make you feel inspired and refreshed. Get away from the project completely if that’s what you need. See the world with new eyes, and then come back to it.

5. Dread the Task

  • This one happens to all of us. Maybe we just genuinely don’t WANT to do the task, we’re dreading dealing with it.

Take a look at why we don’t want to do it. Is it more because of one of the reasons above? If it’s not – is it something we need to start cutting out in the future? Life is too short to be doing things we hate on a daily basis. How can we change this circumstance for ourselves for the future? Perhaps we remove it from our offerings. Perhaps it’s a red flag client that we should not have taken in the first place. Perhaps we over-promised and we didn’t give ourselves enough time. Identify the cause and try to fix it for the future. For the task at hand, use a combination of strategies – break it down into smaller pieces, and reward yourself positively when it’s done.

I am going to employ these strategies for the rest of this year, and I hope these will help you too. This is a wonderful time of year and it should be enjoyed – so let’s get our work stuff done so we can enjoy the fun stuff and the love for friends and family that the holiday has to give!

Happy weekend everyone!