Access Your Personal Resources

If there’s a fire, you grab a fire extinguisher. If the sun is too bright, you put on sunglasses. If you’re out of sugar, you use honey. But, when you wake up in a bad mood, experience a loss or get discouraged, how do you get back on track and not waste the day?

If you fail to call on your psychological, physical or spiritual resources when problems arise, you may find yourself, figuratively, up a creek without a paddle.

In CoreCoaching, I ask clients to list their resources. Then I ask them to share the cues or events that trigger fear, wallowing and procrastination. We match a cue with a resource that best serves to reverse the unwanted behavior. (I discourage using a person as a resource because people, unlike our innate resources, are not always available.) Over time our resources may change or become richer. We refresh and review them often so they are at the ready. Here are some of my founders’ favorite and most effective go-to resources:

  • Peter, a recovering alcoholic, accesses the prayers his AA Mentor gave him.
  • Jenny, a single mom, pulls out pictures of her children and thinks about the lifestyle she wants for them.
  • Bruce studies Stoic philosophy and calls up a “perspective of objectivity” to prevent his thinking brain from being hijacked by his emotional brain.
  • Erica gets out of her chair and takes a brisk 5-10 minute walk outside and reflects on her company’s mission.

Today, take a few minutes to list your personal resources so you can access them when the goin’  get tough.

Are you stuck in the startup muck of indecisiveness and failure to execute? Trouble getting focused and following through? Contact me at [email protected]       

Screen-Staring and Eye Strain Solutions

Upon a recent visit to my eye doctor, I gained some helpful insights regarding a common  complaint: eye strain. According to my ophthalmologist, the effects of eye strain – headaches, dryness and blurred vision, neck and shoulder aches – are increasingly common among those spending hours in front of laptop, phone and TV screens. These symptoms affect our concentration and definitely impede focus.

A survey conducted by OnePoll showed that online workers spend an average of 9.5 hours a day on screens! No wonder the tiny muscles of the eyes fatigue and express their dissatisfaction. Here are five helpful tips:

  • Keep your phone a foot away from your face and your laptop two feet from your face. Avoid too dark of a background when your screen is on.
  • Near bedtime filter the blue light from your screens. If you must watch re-runs of Shark Tank and The Profit, grab a pair of blue blocker sunglasses.
  • After a couple hours of screen time, lie back and soothe your eyes with a moist hot or cold compress. Both have advantages; it’s your preference.
  • Remember the 20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. (This step works great for you Pomodorians!)
  • Optimize your evening sleep, but at worst indulge in a short midday power nap  for a visual refresh.

Good mental and physical health practices are core to the success of your startup. If you need help building those and other core skills and routines, contact me at [email protected]

Manage Expectations, Not People

As you assemble or reassemble your team, avoid a common mistake – not clarifying the expectations of the job from the start. Founders tell me, “The job requirements are in the job description,” or “I told them what I expect of them every month.”  And sadly, just “sharing the vision” does not provide enough clarity for many new employees.

Take Dean for example, a very talented artist-technician and web designer who did beautiful work. Anthony, the founder of an athletic wear startup, discovered after several weeks that Dean consistently put off work on major projects and was late for meetings. The morale of other team members started to dip as a function of Dean’s influence. After six months of conflict, confusion and miscommunication Dean was let go.

Looking back, Anthony realized that his frequent reminders and expressions of disappointment were efforts to manage Dean versus managing the expectations he had for Dean. At that point, Anthony took a major leap as a leader and a manager. He created a document for new employees that clearly states the job expectations with metrics, deadlines and the consequences for not meeting those expectations. Anthony verbally outlines the expectations and requires the employee to sign the document declaring their understanding and acceptance of the expectations.

Fortunately, this action has made up for the lost time and money by hiring more reliable and team-oriented employees. This experience also taught Anthony a valuable lesson about management – make clear the expectations and the right people will manage themselves.

Even with the best intentions, some employees need help in managing themselves. CoreCoaching can help them get things done, done well and on time. Contact me at [email protected]  


Lasting Words

At some point in your life, you’ll need to set aside time to manage a health concern or a crisis. It may be for you, a family member or a close friend. Either way, it will interrupt the flow of your venture, so it’s good to be on the ready. My lapse in posting much this summer was due to my father’s failing condition over the last several weeks and his eventual passing at age 94.

Son of an immigrant and a WW2 vet, my father Paul was an insatiable entrepreneur who loved his country and inspired me to help others succeed. He taught me to plan ahead, prepare for obstacles in advance and build a team you can depend upon to lead the ship. So typical of his entrepreneur spirit, on a cloudy day he would see a spot of blue and call it a sunny day, or at least a bright day! Upon reports of a disgruntled or challenging employee, he’d remark, “Work it out. It takes all kinds of people to build a company!”

The bottom line: Have a plan for obstacles, look for the sun, find a way to keep good people and get along. Thank you, Dad, for the advice. I’ll pass it along.

Need help getting back in the saddle after a setback? Need help building trust within your team? Contact me at [email protected]


5 Ways to Tank an M&A

Aside from unfavorable market dynamics or insufficient due diligence, investors will back out of a deal if they:

1) sense a lack of trust or discontent between team members. Savvy investors will pick up on the vibes between team members by the way they communicate in person and online.

2)  sense dishonesty or intentionally unrealistic and misleading information

3)  note unusual money transfers

4)  cannot get reasonable explanations for valuations, projections and predictions

5) discover outstanding liabilities or activities that could become liabilities.

You may not yet be in a position to sell or merge your company, but setting the stage now for the opportunity can never start soon enough. Note that most of the points above have to do directly or indirectly with communication between team members and customers. Establish trust early on in your startup with honest and transparent communication, rather than trying to fake it at the final hour. Mindful communication between your team members is an on-going process and one that will pay off when the time to sell or merge your company comes along.

Does your company need a better foundation for communication? Contact me at [email protected]   


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