Collaborating your way to Genius

What is Genius? In ‘The Inner Sky‘, Steven Forrest writes of this abundant Aquarian resource, “Genius is the capacity to think freshly, to view old problems in new ways.”

newninedots3Chances are that you have seen and solved this puzzle. This little beauty is the nine dots puzzle. The instructions for the puzzle are to connect the dots by drawing four straight continuous lines. The lines must pass through each of the nine dots. You cannot lift the pencil from the paper until complete. All of the possible solutions require that you exceed the bounds of the dots. This puzzle is thought to be the source of the now cliché phrase “think outside the box”.

I think that this elusive thing that we call genius is primarily a matter of perspective. As a project manager, I spend a lot of time working with teams. When I gather a new team I ask them to be present and engaged through every discussion. I remind them that they have not only been chosen for their knowledge or skills 37602086 - vector illustration of wooden toolbox with repairing tools.in one area. They have also been selected for the way they can contribute to the team. If you spend 80% of your time hammering you tend to think that everything looks like a nail. Assembling a team of people with varied skills and tools is an easy way to create a diverse toolbox. They can help you put down your hammer and look at your old problems from the perspective of a new tool.

What if you are a solitary entrepreneur? How can you assemble a team to help you shift perspectives and inspire your genius? Enter the mastermind group. A mastermind group is a peer to peer mentor-ship used to help members achieve greater results together. The concept was coined in 1925 by author Napoleon Hill in his book ‘The Law of Success‘. Joining or creating the RIGHT mastermind group can hone your skills, inspire your genius, and change your life.

Mastermind groups can be formed for a multitude of purposes. Of course, as I mentioned, they can be used to support business ventures but also spiritual, political, or personal growth to name just a few. It’s just like a fitness buddy. Someone to hold you accountable, someone to cheer you on, someone to inspire you when things get tough. It’s also someone who is just as excited about what you are doing as you are!

So let’s talk about some of the things you should look for in the right mastermind group.

  1. Similar goals – If I am training to run a marathon and you are training to compete for Mr. Universe we probably aren’t going to be great fitness buddies. We have very different needs. However, your bodybuilding training business and my marathon gear shop would be a mastermind match made in fitness heaven. Marketing, growth, business planning and much more could help open up new avenues of thought. What’s your mission and can you find others with similar missions?
  2. Maturity level – It’s important that the mastermind group members are a similar place in their progress to the goal. The beauty of a peer to peer mentorship is that of sharing strengths. If the maturity level is off balanced it will quickly lose the joy for those not able to progress. A great way to measure maturity is documented plans or (if appropriate) contact list counts or sales figures.
  3. Time commitment –  How much time are willing to commit to the group? There should be homework. There should be actions that you assign for yourself. Groups will meet as often as weekly and if you are joining one it should be a priority. They can she short term midterm or long term but everyone should share the same level of commitment for however long the group agrees.
  4. Group Management – How will the group be managed? Who is at the helm? What is the meeting structure? All of these are very important to the fit of your right group and often it’s just a matter of trial and error until you find what works for you.

What do you think? Are you ready to collaborate your way into some genius ideas that will change your life?

Contact me at gefjonsgifts@gmail.com with any questions!

So you want to write a newsletter?

So you want to start a newsletter? It’s a fantastic way to build connections with your audience. Here are a few tips that I think are the most important to get you started.

  • It’s not all about you. It’s your newsletter. The most important things you can put into it are your voice, philosophy, character. That being said, it is actually about the subscriber. Specifically, it’s about building a relationship with the subscriber. Subscribers stick with you when they are getting something from the interaction. Keep the sales pitches below the 30% mark. Offer your subscribers your genuine self because it’s always the one thing they can’t get anywhere else.
  • Make it look and sound like you. If you don’t already have a brand standard for promotional materials I would suggest establishing one. Your brand standard should include a specific voice, story, logo, font set(s), color palette and imagery style. Apply them consistently to all of your media (website, email, social, etc). You can update portions (fonts, colors, or imagery) for new projects or as trends change. Revisit the full package every three to five years to refresh.
  • Be consistent but not boring. Monthly newsletters are best sent monthly and around the same time. Select a schedule and stick with it. In my personal experience, most people aren’t sure which is which between the prefixes semi and bi so I recommend that you keep it simple. Tell them what they are going to get and then deliver it as promised. No more. No less. When you keep the interior content fresh consistency doesn’t become boring.
  • Subject lines matter. All email marketing experts and data agree. Subject lines matter. They should be short enough to fit on most email clients. Since about half of the population receives email on their phone I suggest no more than 30 characters. The most important thing to think about is catching their attention. Give them a glimpse of what’s in the newsletter and always use the preview text. If your email marketing tool has the capability to try some A/B testing of multiple subject lines to see what sparks your subscribers’ interest.
  • Images need alt text. A lot of email clients will automatically load emails without images. If for no other reason than this you should include alt text for any images in your newsletter. Make the descriptions complete and enticing. If you are using a royalty-free image service they have great descriptions ready made for you to customize.
  • Feed your email list. You will get unsubscribes. People’s interests change and that’s ok. Make sure you are using your social media presence, your website, and your other promotional opportunities to get people on your mailing list. All email marketing tools have subscription page options and you should make sure you are using them. Don’t be afraid to run re-engagement campaigns and then sunset unengaged subscribers.
  • Content is key. Think about your brand, your goals, and your relationship with the subscriber and make a list of the types of content your newsletter will include. I suggest a minimum of 6 with no more than 9 types and no matter how many only 30% are sales related.  Select 3 that are the core of your newsletter and will be represented in every edition and the others can be cycled in and out to keep things fresh. Your core need not include a sales item. Keep a list of ideas and topics somewhere so you can add them whenever fresh ideas come to you. Make a checklist for your newsletter. It’s easy to forget to check links, add alt text, or even proofread. Once these emails are gone they are gone. Sending retractions and oops emails are often more distracting than our small mistakes.

The ONE rule

2685279 - the end road sign with dramatic blue sky and clouds.Here’s the game changer. I think it’s the one rule you should be following in your business and in your life. Begin with the end in mind.

Sounds familiar, right? In “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” Stephen Covey’s 2nd habit says, “Begin with the End in Mind”. This first time I read this sentence I had an ah ha moment. I have always been a planner. I like to know exactly how something will happen before it starts. My epiphany (the great ah ha) was simply that not everyone plans! How might it feel to NOT have a plan??

What do I mean about beginning with the end in mind? If the Beltane celebration starts at 6 pm. It takes me an hour to get there, I need 20 minutes to stop and get wine, 30 minutes to get ready,  and another 30 minutes to pack up my potluck items. So for potluck, ready, wine, drive, and Beltane at 6 I start at 3:30. I’m rarely late and don’t believe in pagan standard time 🙂

So, where do you want to go? Let’s forget scary words like business plan, marketing strategy, and financial planning. Do you want to make and sell custom ritual supplies on your own website? Do you want provide professional psychic reading services at Hollywood parties? Figure out where you want to be in the end and start working backwards.

From my perspective, if you aren’t working to a plan your life is happening by default. A default life might lead to some fantastic stories but heck if that is what you are after you can plan for those too!

What is the end that you have in mind?

 

Can you Relate?

59424639 - casual people activities frame graphic conceptI watched “You’ve Got Mail” yesterday. Ok, that sounds weird to me. In truth, it was on the TV while I meal and grocery planned for the week. When you’ve seen a movie approximately 1 zillion times it’s the same thing. In my favorite scene (when Meg is sick) Tom says opening a store that put her small book shop out of business “wasn’t personal.” After an awesome tirade Meg says, “Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.” Fucking A! You go with your bad self, Meg. I think everything is personal. It’s a big reason I believe developing your values is important. We are persons after all.

You are a person with a business. You have business plans. You have loads of stuff to do. There is someone else with needs and plans in this equation, the customer. Are you relating to them? Are you thinking about what they need? Are you making it personal? Have you told them about it? When you are busting your rear to get things done it’s easy to forget to build customer relationships. The great news is that when love what you are doing and love your customer it’s easy to correct. Check out one way in my work with Pagan Pride LA/OC we have started building more of these relationships.

I am absolutely thrilled to be a member of the Pagan Pride LA/OC coordinator team. As a non-profit organization without a tangible product, they struggle to make ends meet each year. While sitting at the table discussing fundraising I got to thinking about customers. While not a traditional consumer relationship Pagan Pride surely has customers. They have several types of customers who are all interested in different products. Vendors are seeking access to customers/supporters. Presenters and performers are seeking exposure. Attendees are seeking goods, information, and entertainment. All of these things are what they seek from Pagan Pride one day of the year. So I asked myself, can we give it to them better? Is it possible for Pagan Pride to offer this year round? Can we gain additional financial support in return?

I developed the Pagan Pride Sponsorship program as a response to these very questions. What value can we offer our customers? How can we deepen our relationships? A keystone of the sponsorship program is the monthly newsletter. It gives each member of the audience a glimpse of Pagan Pride Day once a month. Pagan Pride LA/OC also has a healthy social media network. It offers an opportunity to help vendors and presenters get their work in front of pagans who want to hear about it. The sponsorship program is a successful fledgling. I’m hopeful that as long as we keep our customers’ needs at the center of the offering it will flourish.

  1. Who are your customers? be specific.
  2. What sort of relationship do you want to build with them?
    • Expertise, friendship, levity?
  3. How do they talk to you?
    • What language style? formal, casual, profanity?
    • What channel(s)? email, in person, social media?
  4. When are they available?

By answering these questions and creating a relationship building action plan you can develop stronger customer relationships and in turn a stronger business that is of service to people.

By Kandy Crenshaw

What do you value?

11679254_sOur personal values aren’t just the things that are important to us. They tell us why we do the things we do. They point to our goals. They give us a map to creating a satisfying life. Let me repeat that. Living your values creates a satisfying life.  What happens when we live someone else’s values? I can’t tell you definitely, but I know that I didn’t find it satisfying. The people whose values I had borrowed didn’t seem impressed either.

Here is an exercise that has been successful for me. I’ve shared it here to help you find your core values.

Step 1) First we make a list. The list-makers whoop and the seat-of-the-pantsers groan. Don’t worry, there is a little something for everyone. Back to our list…

  • Make a list of things you like to do. I mean really like to do. The things that put you in a better mood. The things that make you happy.  Don’t be squeamish this list is for your eyes only.
  • Add to the list the things you really dislike but you do them out of obligation or need. Hey there are lots of things we don’t like to do. I hate pretty much ALL housework. Don’t analyse it just put it on the list.
  • Now add things about you that make you feel proud of yourself. Everything from T-ball championships to salsa dancing prowess. What do you want the world to know about you?
  • Now let’s add things you aren’t proud of. What do you do that embarrasses you? We are often taught that the things we love are bad.  Forget about judgments for a bit and just put the things on the list that you would be embarrassed for most people to know.

Do you need a break? If you aren’t used to asking yourself questions like this you might be feeling overwhelmed. Now is a good time to go do one of those things you love. When you feel relaxed and ready to dig a little more the list will be waiting.

Step 2) Read through the list. Is it a reasonably complete picture of you? If your 40 hour a week job, beloved beta fish, or obsession with Dr Who aren’t included now is the time to add them. Wow, that one was easy!

Step 3) Here is a list of things that people might consider their values. It certainly isn’t all of them and some might be the opposite of what you find valuable. Most are pretty generic so feel free to improvise (finally a bit for the seat-of-the-pantsers) or get specific. Categorize each item on the list. Sit with it. Think on it. What does this list of things say about what you value most in life?

  • Why do you love to take walks? Is it the exercise, the natural world, the peace and quiet, maybe all three?
  • Why do you vacuum the floor when you hate doing it? Is it to keep your home healthy, avoid the censure of others, so it looks nice? Consider all of your possible motives.
  • Why are you proud of that T-ball trophy? Is it a connection to youth, the pleasure of a family experience, or maybe the beginning of your physical prowess.
  • Why are you embarrassed that you can quote every line of every season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Is it the perception of geekdom, or that you can remember that but can never find your car keys, or maybe a sign that you are disconnected from current popular culture?  (Whatevs, Buffy will always be relevant)

Are you broken yet? Seriously. That was a lot of hard thinking about things we are usually not asked to think about. Great job! Need another break? Maybe take one of those awesome walks.

Step 4) Clarify your Values. Now we want to drill down to the things that are the most important to us. You can start by listing the values the come up several times. It might take some additional introspection.  Do your interests in reading and cooking both feed your innate curiosity? Does your job and your volunteer work make you feel useful? I think this is a good time to remind yourself that there are no bad values. Remember that you are doing this work to help create a life that is satisfying to YOU. Here are some additional guidelines to help you condense the list.

  • Shoot for 4 to 6 values but don’t throw out anything that is important.
  • A value can be broad or narrow and the only thing that matters is your interpretation.
  • There is no need to write them for others understanding.
  • If you have 42 core values and they are each distinct and valuable that’s cool. You do you, boo.

Step 5) Celebrate. Look at these important things that make you who you are and enjoy the self discovery.

Did you celebrate? I do mean actually celebrate. Do something tangible and memorable. If you can’t rejoice in the things that inspire your life it will be pretty hard to walk the walk. Celebrate who you are. Go on.

Step 6) It’s time to take stock and make a plan.

  • What do you do to feed each value? What would you like to do? Are there things that you can do more of?
  • What are you doing that doesn’t nurture your values? It can be hard to walk away from these things. It might help to think about making space for someone who will love it. Create an exit plan that fits with your values and you won’t go wrong. Sure, not everyone will love it. You aren’t creating a satisfying life for someone else.
  • Use your values as a yardstick for everything you do.

 

Now for the somewhat tricky part. Our values change with our life experiences. Today’s value of physical prowess may become tomorrow’s value of well being.  Today’s financial stability could turn into tomorrow’s generosity. Be prepared to reevaluate so you can stay true to yourself.