Did You Do Your Reps Today?

Strengthen Your Professional CORE 
Building a strong physical core requires regular repetitions of core exercises. Similarly, developing your cognitive core—what I call your “core capital,” encompassing your ability to regulate emotions, focus, follow through, and communicate effectively—also demands consistent practice.

Consider these examples:

  • Jay W. from Wichita, KS: He does a set of 30 pushups every four hours.
  • Janelle S. from Winchester, MA: Training for the Chicago Marathon, she completes six hill reps five times a week to build leg strength and endurance.
  • Jesse from Elmhurst, IL: Focused on core strength for distance swimming, he performs six sets of seven barbell reps every other day.

What do these individuals have in common? They are all startup founders who use physical fitness challenges to help them improve their startup stamina. By committing to their physical exercises, they strengthen their resolve, pushing through discomfort and monotony to reach the next level. Each founder agrees that the discipline of physical core workouts translates into the repetitive actions necessary for their business growth, such as:

  • Daily cold calls
  • Weekly customer check-ins
  • Regular meditation
  • Posting on social media
  • Maintaining a healthy bedtime routine from Monday to Friday
  • Saying “no” to distractions when most vulnerable
  • Planning the next day’s activities

To make these actions more automatic, the key is frequency, not the duration of time spent on each task.

There are various ways to monitor your consistency with these reps. If you prefer a pen-to-paper approach, visit our Tools section, and print out the Streak Out Accountability Checklist. This tool helps you track your target behaviors and the small steps needed to ensure consistency.

For example, effective weekly customer check-ins might involve reviewing the status of a complaints or concerns beforehand, leading to more constructive conversations. Similarly, prepping your workout clothes the night before can increase your chances of making it to the gym on time.

The number of reps, assuming that you do one rep or a set of resp per day, to create a habit varies, typically ranging from 7 to 66 days.

Here are two of my favorite resources for building your core capital:

What areas in your life could benefit from more reps?

Need help identifying a high value behavior integral to your core capital and making it a habit? Learn more about my CoreCoaching approach at MindfulCommunication.com

How To Use Music For Focus To Get Your Work Done

Trying to get deep work done, but having trouble staying focused? Intrusive thoughts, mind wandering, daydreaming all affect our productivity.

Experiment with some focus music in the background as you work. The apps listed below use a variety of mechanisms to improve concentration and productivity. Here’s how they work:

  1. Soundscapes and Background Noise
  • Apps like Noisli offer customizable soundscapes (e.g., rain, wind, forest sounds) that help create a consistent auditory environment. They can mask distracting sounds in your environment.
  1. Binaural Beats and Brainwave Entrainment
  • Binaural beats involve playing two slightly different frequencies in each ear. The brain perceives a third frequency, which is the difference between the two. For example, if one ear hears a tone at 300 Hz and the other at 310 Hz, the brain will perceive a 10 Hz beat.
  • These beats can influence brainwave patterns, encouraging states associated with focus (beta waves, 14-30 Hz) or relaxation (alpha waves, 8-13 Hz). Apps like Brain.fm use this principle to help users achieve desired mental states.
  1. Music Structure
  • Music tracks without lyrics prevent the brain from processing language, which can be distracting. Playlists like Spotify’s Deep Focus or Peaceful Piano feature instrumental tracks that promote concentration.
  • Music with a steady tempo and minimal dynamic changes helps maintain a flow state. Tracks that are too fast, slow, or variable can disrupt focus.
  1. Mood Regulation
  • Music for focus can influence mood and arousal levels. Calm, soothing music can reduce stress and anxiety, creating a positive mental state more conducive to concentration. Conversely, slightly upbeat music can energize and motivate.
  1. Cognitive Load Management
  • Music that is simple and repetitive requires less cognitive processing, leaving more cognitive resources available for the primary task. This is why ambient and minimalist music is often recommended for focus like typing or coding.
  1. Personalization and Adaptation
  • Some apps, like Brain.fm, use AI to generate music for focus that adapts in real-time to the user’s state and the type of task they are performing. They allow you to select and mix different types of sounds and music This personalized approach can enhance the effectiveness of the music for focus and productivity.

Spotify

  1. Deep Focus – A playlist with ambient and instrumental music designed to help with concentration. Deep Focus on Spotify
  2. Peaceful Piano – A playlist of calming piano pieces. Peaceful Piano on Spotify
  3. Focus Flow – A mix of downtempo beats and melodic electronic music. Focus Flow on Spotify

YouTube

  1. LoFi Hip Hop Radio – Beats to Relax/Study to – A 24/7 live stream of lo-fi hip hop music. LoFi Hip Hop Radio on YouTube
  2. Calm Piano Music 24/7 – Relaxing music for stress relief and concentration. Calm Piano Music on YouTube
  3. Ambient Study Music To Concentrate – 4 Hours of Music for Studying, Concentration, and Work – A mix of ambient music designed for focus. Ambient Study Music on YouTube

Apple Music

  1. Focus – A playlist of electronic and instrumental tracks for concentration. Focus on Apple Music
  2. Pure Focus – Instrumental music that promotes concentration and mindfulness. Pure Focus on Apple Music
  3. Instrumental Study – Soothing instrumentals for studying and working. Instrumental Study on Apple Music

Other Platforms

  1. fm – A service that offers music specifically engineered to help with focus, relaxation, and sleep. Brain.fm
  2. Noisli – A mix of customizable background sounds to help with focus and productivity. Noisli

Noise masking, brainwave entrainment, structured music, mood regulation, cognitive load management, and personalization create an auditory environment that enhances focus and productivity. The effectiveness can vary from person to person, so experiment with different types of focus music.

Need more help in the focus department? Contact me at Rebecca@MindfulCommunication.com.
CoreCoaching Executive Function ADHD adult professionals
CoreFour Executive Function Coaching for Entrepreneurs (MindfulCommunication.com)

Strategic Quitting: A Key to Business Career Success

In the fast-paced and ever-evolving world of business, career success is often celebrated and failure is stigmatized. Yet, behind many success stories lies a less talked about but equally important aspect: the ability to quit failing ventures. Contrary to the age-old adage, “winners never quit,” many successful business leaders have mastered the art of knowing when to step away from a sinking ship to seize better opportunities to advance their careers. This strategic quitting is not a sign of weakness but a testament to their keen insight and adaptability.

Understanding the Value of Quitting

In business, persistence is often lauded as the ultimate virtue. However, blindly persevering with a failing venture can lead to wasted resources, diminished morale, and missed opportunities. Successful entrepreneurs understand that time, energy and capital are finite resources. Allocating these precious assets to ventures with slim prospects can hinder long-term growth and innovation. Quitting strategically allows business leaders to cut their losses, learn from their mistakes, and redirect their efforts towards more promising endeavors.

The Art of Strategic Quitting

  1. Recognizing the Signs of Failure: The first step towards strategic quitting is recognizing when a business is failing. Key indicators include consistent financial losses, lack of market traction, and an unsustainable business model. Successful entrepreneurs monitor these metrics closely and remain objective in their assessments. They differentiate between temporary setbacks and systemic issues that cannot be remedied.
  2. Embracing the Pivot: Many successful businesses today began as something entirely different. Twitter, for instance, started as a podcasting platform called Odeo. When Apple announced its podcasting platform, Odeo’s prospects dimmed, prompting the team to pivot and eventually create Twitter. This ability for an entrepreneur to pivot—essentially a form of quitting the original idea—allowed the founders to transform a failing venture into a global social media giant.
  3. Learning from Failure: Quitting does not mean forgetting. Successful entrepreneurs analyze their failures to extract valuable lessons. This introspection helps them avoid repeating mistakes and informs their future endeavors. By treating failures as learning opportunities, they build resilience and improve their decision-making skills.

Case Studies of Strategic Quitting For Career Advancement

  1. Reed Hastings and Pure Software: Before founding Netflix, Reed Hastings co-founded Pure Software, a company that initially thrived but later faced significant challenges. Despite their efforts, the company struggled with rapid expansion and quality control issues. Hastings decided to sell Pure Software and later founded Netflix, applying the lessons learned from his previous venture. This decision to quit a faltering business paved the way for Netflix’s revolutionary impact on entertainment.
  2. Elon Musk and Zip2: Elon Musk’s first significant entrepreneurial venture, Zip2, provided city guide software for newspapers. Despite initial success, Musk faced challenges in scaling the business. Recognizing the limitations and potential for greater impact elsewhere, he sold Zip2 to Compaq. This strategic exit provided Musk with the capital and experience to pursue more ambitious projects, leading to the creation of PayPal, SpaceX, and Tesla.

The Psychological Hurdles of Quitting A Business Venture

Quitting a business can be emotionally challenging. Entrepreneurs often develop a deep attachment to their ventures, investing not only money but also their passion and dreams. Overcoming the psychological barriers to quitting requires a mindset shift. Viewing quitting not as a failure but as a strategic decision can alleviate the emotional burden and open the door to new opportunities.

The Future of Strategic Quitting

As the business landscape becomes increasingly dynamic, the ability to quit failing ventures will become even more crucial. The rapid pace of technological advancements and market shifts demands agility and adaptability. Entrepreneurs who can recognize when to pivot or quit are better positioned to thrive in this environment.

In conclusion, the notion that “winners never quit” is a myth that needs to be debunked. Many successful entrepreneurs have demonstrated that quitting, when done strategically, is a powerful tool for long-term career success. By recognizing the signs of failure, embracing the pivot, learning from their mistakes, and overcoming psychological hurdles, they turn quitting into a stepping stone for greater achievements. In the ever-evolving world of business, knowing when to let go can be the key to unlocking new opportunities and driving innovation.

For a deeper dive into the importance of knowing when to quit check out this article: The Art of Knowing When to Quit.

CoreCoaching offers founders opportunities for crucial decision-making conversations. Contact me at Rebecca@MindfulCommunication.com. Visit www.MindfulCommunication.com for more about CoreCoaching for Entrepreneurs.  

Finding The Perfect Co-Founder: Qualities That Matter

Daria, a COREageous entrepreneur from Florida writes: I’m looking for a co-founder for my startup. I’ve met several people who are good candidates, but I think I need a checklist of sorts instead of just relying on my gut. I’ve been told that having the right co-founder can make all the difference between success and failure.

You are right on, Daria, about the importance of finding the right co-founder!  Here are the most important traits to look for when interviewing co-founders:

One of the most crucial aspects of a successful co-founder relationship is complementary skills. While it’s great to have someone who shares your passion and vision, it’s equally important that they bring a different skill set to the table. If you’re the creative visionary, look for someone who excels in operations or finance. This synergy will ensure that you cover all bases and can tackle challenges from multiple angles, while also balancing the give and take of the relationship.

What skills or areas of expertise are weakest for you? What kind of tasks do you disdain and cannot outsource? Find these as strengths in your co-founder.

While complementary skills are essential, shared values and vision are equally important. Your co-founder should be aligned with your long-term goals for the company and share your values and principles.

Can you clearly articulate your vision for a candidate?  What are your values and principles?

There will be setbacks, failures, and moments of doubt along the way. That’s why resilience and grit are invaluable qualities in a co-founder.

Can your candidate give examples of how they made tough decisions, bounced back from failure and persevered through tough times?  

Clear and open communication is the cornerstone of any successful partnership, and the co-founder relationship is no exception. Look for someone who can communicate effectively, listen mindfully* and provide constructive feedback.

When speaking with them, do you feel heard and understood? Have you observed their communication skills in other social situations? What are they like under stress? 

While past success is not a guarantee of future success, it can be an indicator of someone’s ability to deliver results. Look for a co-founder who has a track record of achievement in their field, whether it’s launching successful startups, leading teams, or driving growth in a corporate setting.

What specific kind of expertise are you looking for in a co-founder?   

Adaptability and flexibility are essential qualities in a co-founder. You need someone who can pivot when necessary, embrace change, and thrive in uncertain environments. The ability to quickly adjust course and execute based on feedback and solid evidence is crucial for staying ahead of the curve.

Again, ask for examples of their ability to pivot and produce in less than ideal conditions.  

Last, but certainly not least, trust is the foundation of any successful partnership. You need to have complete trust in your co-founder’s integrity, judgment, and commitment to the venture.

Because trust is something that takes time to build, is there any evidence from shared contacts about your candidate’s trustworthiness?

For further reading on the topic of co-founder relationships, I highly recommend checking out this insightful article on Forbes: Five Ways To Find The Right Co-Founder (forbes.com)

With the right co-founder by your side, you’ll have a powerful ally as you embark on the exhilarating journey of entrepreneurship. So, take your time, choose wisely, and together, you can turn your startup dreams into reality.

*Learn the characteristics of what it means to be a Mindful Listener. Get my book/Audiobook: “The Zen of Listening: Mindful Communication in the Age of Distraction.” Amazon.com : the zen of listening, rebecca shafir

 

How and Why to Think Backwards to Achieve a Long Term Goal

Thinking backwards, also known as “backward induction” is a problem-solving technique commonly used in game theory and decision analysis. It involves starting with the desired outcome and working backward to determine the optimal sequence of actions or decisions to achieve that outcome. As a COREageous entrepreneur, you may find how thinking backwards helps move planning forward! Here are some benefits of thinking backwards compared to traditional problem-solving methods:

Thinking backwards from the desired outcome:

  • begins with a clear understanding of the desired outcome or goal. What is your vision? Like a movie in your head, how does your goal play out when it is achieved?
  • encourages systematic planning by breaking down complex problems into smaller, more manageable steps. By focusing on the end result first, you can more effectively identify and walk back the steps needed to reach that goal. This approach helps you visualize the sequence of actions going backwards from the end to the start.
  • helps you identify the most rational or optimal decisions at each step of the problem-solving process. By considering the potential consequences of different choices and working backward from the desired outcome, you can make more informed decisions.
  • can lead to more efficient problem-solving by eliminating unnecessary steps or considerations. By focusing on the most critical aspects of a problem, individuals can save time and resources.
  • backward induction allows for flexibility in adapting to changing circumstances. You can adjust your plan as new information becomes available or as the situation evolves.

Here’s how it might look to achieve a specific business goal:

End Goal: Ensure the long-term success and growth of the startup.

Step 1: Assess the current market landscape, including customer needs, competitor offerings, and industry trends.

Step 2: Identify any signs that the current product or service offering is not meeting market demand or achieving the desired traction.

Step 3: Evaluate potential alternative directions or pivots for the company’s product or service, such as targeting a different customer segment, adjusting the pricing strategy, or introducing new features.

Step 4: Analyze the potential impact of each pivot option on the company’s resources, team, timeline, and overall vision.

Step 5: Determine the most viable pivot option based on the analysis and the potential to achieve the end goal of long-term success and growth.

Step 6: Develop a strategic plan and roadmap for implementing the chosen pivot, including timelines, resource allocation, and key milestones.

Step 7: Communicate the decision and plan to stakeholders, including employees, investors, and customers, to ensure alignment and support.

Step 8: Execute the pivot plan effectively, monitoring progress closely and making adjustments as needed to maximize success.

Overall, thinking backwards instead of making it up as you go along offers a systematic and strategic approach to problem-solving that can help you achieve your desired outcome more effectively and efficiently compared to traditional methods.

Enjoy more on this topic:

The Backward Law: How Thinking In Reverse Can Improve Your Life (theknowledge.io)

Winning by Thinking Backwards (colemaninsights.com)

In CoreCoaching we go from a vision of your venture and work it backwards, step by step. Interested in giving it a try? Contact me at Rebecca@MindfulCommunication.com. Visit MindfulCommunication.com

Seniors: Plan Carefully to Start Up

There is an increasing trend of individuals over 50 opting for entrepreneurship as a career shift rather than traditional retirement.

Older individuals are well suited for entrepreneurship due to their extensive experience, problem-solving skills, and business networks. They are in better health than previous generations, and therefore, starting and sustaining a business is more realistic than ever before. However, there are cautions for senior entrepreneurs.

Financing: As securing financing for startups can be challenging due to age biases among potential funders, personal savings remain the primary source of startup capital for older entrepreneurs.  Alternative financing options such as bank loans are limited due to the high credit risk associated with new ventures lacking a track record.

Senior entrepreneurs need to be prepared for a lengthy period before their business generates sustainable income. Advisors suggest that you save enough money to cover 12 months of both living and business expenses. Therefore, if you are still employed, put aside part of your nest egg for a future venture opportunity.

Shark Advice: Mark Cuban’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs bodes well for seniors as well. In an article 7 Reasons Not to Quit Your Job to Start a Business | LinkedIn Cuban advises wantrepreneurs to start a business only if “your heart is in it” and to “know your s—- better than anyone else in the room!”

Next steps: In the meanwhile, refresh old connections and build new relationships to create partnerships as a talented team will make your venture more attractive to financiers. Furthermore, invest in education and skill development through programs like the Kauffman Foundation’s FastTrac and AARP’s Work for Yourself@50+.Go to: CoreFour Coaching & Training for Entrepreneurs | Mindful Communication

With those suggestions in place older individuals considering entrepreneurship can leverage their experience and invest in personal development to increase their chances of success in starting a new business venture.

Need help getting organized and following through with a business idea? Let’s start off with a plan. Contact me at Rebecca@MindfulCommunication.com. Visit MindfulCommunication.com

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