Are your skills and knowledge static or changeable ?

10 02 2008

An article in this week end’s Montreal’s The Gazette talks about a research by social psychology professor Jason Plaks of the University of Toronto and Kristen Stecher of the University of Washington that says that the way people view their skills can have an impact on how they respond to career success.

If they see their skill as static, any indication that they may be better that what they think they are will be self-sabotaged!!!

Now what about entrepreneurs ?

My partner in Tac-Coaching, Ken Ingram was featured in that article. His take on it was that most successful entrepreneurs believe they can achieve anything.

Now, if you are in a static environment, in a static group of employees, you won’t get to stretch yourself too much. But an entrepreneur ?!?!

Maybe, self-sabotage puts limits on what he (she) can do. Is it possible that an entrepreneur chooses an environment that limits his/her chances? That an entrepreneur can be satisfied with the level of “success” that he/she has ?

Now, I’m not completely immune to a little self sabotage myself. I live my life in my comfort zone most of the time. But as I said to a former coach of mine (Gilles Barbot from Esprit de Corps ; “It’ great to be outside of our comfort zone, it’s a marvelous opportunity to grow…but can we go back once in while, just to rest ? ” 😉

So I can understand….

When you are starting out, you have moments you feel out of breath, so stretched that you are about to break and then, somehow, somewhere, you know that you’ll have to stretch it a bit more….99 degrees is very hot, but it won’t produce boiling water…just one degree more and you have steam… energy! What a difference one single degree makes…

Who remembers the 4th places at the Olympics ?

And what about results, earnings, recognition ?

For a fraction of a second, that ultimate stretch, the difference between 3rd and 2nd place…between 2nd and 1st place….some get fame and fortune…others, well…glory days. (Here Clara Hughes at the Torino Olympics springs to mind…)

Do your skills keep you at 99 degrees ?

Do you think that your lack of knowledge may keep you from getting to the boiling point ?

Does what do you think prevent you from reaching your full potential ?

If you have any doubt, talk to a professional coach!

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Building credibility (part 1)

22 08 2007

“What is the common point between the financial scandals of Enron, World COM and Arthur Andersen and the small company thatyou want to launch or the one you already have?”

Trust

The mistrust of people. People don’t forgive and forget easily these days and with the phenomenon of social bookmarking and Web 2.0, the news is propagated even more quickly.

If it is difficult for a large corporation to regain credibility (even with important PR spinsters working for them), imagine for you!

If you believe that you don’t have anything to lose because you’re a small entity, you are wrong! The world is a small place and information circulates quickly.

How to avoid errors building your credibility

Remember, it is as long to build as it is fast to crumble…think about those castles made with playing cards.

In part one, I’ll focus on you. On part two, we will focus on your company.

1. Appearance, The look.

OK, being an entrepreneur makes you a little rebel. That reassures you because you are not the “suit and tie”…type

However, unless you are dealing only with other young people of your age, you will be confronted with the prejudices of the others, the “old” crowd. Moreover, if you are a young company, there are no reasons to trust you, especially in the “goods and service industry” where the “human” factor is so important.

If you want to sell, do not give the other party a chance to say “no” even before negociations have started.

Some details can make all the difference like a good quality watch, polished shoes, and a nice pen. In short, it is necessary for you to have “style and personality”. However, remain coherent! If you operate in an artistic sector, adopt an artistic flair.

Likewise if you are in the business planning stage. One of the visusally saddest business plans I have seen was given to me by a graphic designer… Difficult for me to believe in its chances to succeed. The same thing for an accountant who had made errors in his financial plan! Even if I’m not a business plan fan anymore, they are still widely used. Even if you use other form of venture presentation, the same principle applies;you are what you project.

2. Adopt a positive attitude.

Out of the gate, you are full of energy, you’ve got everything to prove. Don’t let your eagerness betray you. Learn to “slow down and smell the roses” because you cannot afford to “burn” a contact or a customer at the beginning of your entrepreneur’s “career”.

Show confidence without being arrogant. It’s a fine line but a very important one. It is the difference between inspiring confidence and giving the impression of “bluffing” your way.

You must be even more “on top of things” that the others. Be sure to always be well prepared and take notes on your calls, meeting and networking acquaintances. To help you, personal data processing tools will keep you one step ahead.

Also make sure you to have done your work on your credit history BEFORE negotiating your first contract. The investigations of credit ratings and the like, are frequent at startup times. You could be surprised at the lenght of time a “spot” remains in your personal files when it comes to money.

3. Make your skills known

Attend conferences in your professional field and do not miss the chance to walk up to the microphone, present yourself clearly and ask relevant questions. If you make the audience think, reflect or dwell on what you are saying, you will be noticed. On the other hand, taking the microphone to show off could turn against you.

If someone offers you to give a conference, be generous. The idea is not to provide solutions, which would be too general in any case, but to pinpoint flaws, sow the seeds of doubt in their way of operating and give hints of solutions using real examples, all the time using the least possible technobabble.

Writing an article, even if it is short, will often have a major impact on your credibility as an expert. To have a blog is very useful and can be a powerful credibility building tool. Blogs have become a place of choice for journalists and TV recherchists of specialized programs to find expertise. They are always on the lookout qualified people.

Give your opinion in daily newspapers or in the specialized reviews on your topic of expertise. If a subject is too one-sided, offer to write another point of view on the same subject. if you really beleive in it.
Know the journalists who cover your sphere of activity. Don’t be afraid to call them and give them leads. If they call you back, answer quickly: they have deadlines to respect.