Business Growth is A Personal Journey

Unique: ‘Being the only one,’ is an enviable characteristic. Don’t we all want to be special? Identifying what it is in life that would make you happy, and being good at that profession, is the biggest challenge we all face.

Being special implies standing out apart from the collective whole of (_____________ ), fill in the blank. Finding your own passion has become a marketable commodity.

Clamoring to be ‘the best’ takes place in every industry, hence, the rise in rankings, a.k.a. reputation. SEO practices are on the rise as a way to get more exposure. Fully established entities from Nabisco and Nasdaq compete just as much as mom and pop operations such as local food trucks in any given ‘hipster’ town. Social media networks have become the de facto new advertising models that help entities big and small, to grab that elusive brass ring called ‘market share.’ A Google search for Nabisco shows their Facebook page ranks higher than their own website:

Screen capture of Google search using keyword, ‘Nabisco.’

What’s a freelance journalist to do to win clients and influence people? A simple web search for business strategies results in a multitude of subject matter experts (SME), that can assist. A SME can be an organization (Poynter, for example for journalism practices) or an individual professional who has monetized their expertise in the form of coaching. Coaches and mentors cover a variety of topics to include: business coach, life coach, health coach, spiritual coach, personal trainer, organization methods, etc. To be clear, a coach works with clients on specific defined goals, whereas a counselor practitioner (mandatory Master degree and/or Mental Health license) works with individuals to explore the origin of problems and develop strategies to overcome emotional hurdles.

The idea of pursuing personal or business growth can be daunting given the amount of choices. Whatever course of action one chooses, be it a formal education or participating in online seminars, the results must point to taking actions otherwise the learning is for naught.

Five strategies that help me reach goals are:

1) Recognizing specific areas to work on initially. Don’t expect any course of action to be the end all in transformation. Set one to three key goals, instead of trying to change the world and chances of meeting goals is favorable. Progress can be made in increments!

2) Shop wisely for which way to go. Any effort whether it’s an online webinar, traditional education or professional membership will have associated costs, so be mindful of what you can afford financially and in terms of time commitments.

3) Be prepared to show up ready to participate in whatever course of action you choose. Achieving goals requires effort and time management, two things that are in short supply.

4) Acknowledge your own work. Dwell in accomplishment to fully appreciate the energy and mindfulness of what it took to achieve goals. It’s important to savor this moment before it passes.

5) Realize meeting goals and personal growth are not the same. It’s entirely possible accomplishing goals such as earning a degree, getting new clients and completing assignments, being promoted or straightening out a messy house, most likely took several steps to accomplish. To then expect total gratification with the entire picture of your life may not be the result, even though the goal was met.

Remember the reasons why you did what you did and where the accomplishment fits in with the entirety of your life. It’s a part, but not the whole. By reflecting on the journey you will recognize what you need to do next, because there will new goals to achieve at every level. Never stop reaching for new plateaus because they are what define personal and business growth.


Dinner Conversation – Perfect Opportunity for Connecting

What a treat – dinner with my son. It’s an impromptu quick meal … most certainly not about the food, but a chance to check in with my soon-to-graduate high school senior. He’s in the home stretch now at Southington High and his sights are focused on college in September.

Connor will be a jazz studies major and much to my surprise is also good writer. His communication skills were being developed all along through original lyrics and music arrangements. To hear a glimpse of his emotional life through song is really lovely – from a parent perspective.

I never thought we’d get to this point. Fifth grade writing for Connor was like pulling teeth. He hated it. I don’t know why because his appetite for reading was voracious – and it seemed to me that writing would be a natural progression. But to be fair, anyone who has ever sat before a blank screen knows that reading and writing are two different things. When you take in a story like a drink, you savor the taste of it via its characters and plot development. Reading is a state of being on the receiving end.

Writing on the other hand requires so much more imagination and skill and is a giving of self from the author. The same holds true of music – the listener receives, the musician gives. Here are samples of Connor’s early music and a look at a clean version of  the ‘messy room’ project I’ll have once he’s vacated his room:

We talked about Coursera a  company that offers free poetry classes from Stanford College. This new trend in free higher education is catching on. Within the last five days I’ve learned of similar organizations doing the same – Open Culture provides the class materials via ITune downloads, and Harvard and MIT has course offerings through Edxonline.

While the courses offer the same level of content, what effect will free have on tuition? Perhaps there is hope for lower costs albeit no actual credits are earned in free courses vs. those paying tuition and earning a degree. Will the trend diminish the value of the degree itself? Or will it matter ultimately? Knowledge is knowledge and getting people interested in learning is a good thing especially if its within reach.

Connor’s educational pursuits will come with a tuition bill no doubt, but life is about learning in and outside of the classroom. Hopefully he’ll keep his eyes and heart open to the many things he’ll encounter.  It’s great to recognize an opportunity when it presents itself, after all an occasional freebie isn’t so bad, especially when it comes with nice wrappings such as Stanford.