Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Keys to Success 2015: Work Hard, Play Hard

     This past weekend our Management team traveled the three and a half hours to Dallas, TX to meet with coaches, mentors, friends, clients, and to have some major fun.  The 7 of us arrived by Friday with the anticipation of seeing our friends from across the country, and seeing some award winners and bonus recipients.  This weekend was mostly about going back to basics and reviewing the fundamentals of what makes a company successful.  The lessons we learned have us all motivated to work harder than ever, and we are so excited to be back in action and ready to see sustainable, exponential growth.  

    Top Account Manager, Mike Archa, not only had fun networking with friends and mentors in our business, but he was inspired by the philanthropic duo who founded Operation Smile, Dr William Magee and his wife, Kathleen. At Austin Communication Group we often hold events so we can donate to Operation Smile, so it was great to hear about its origin and what the future holds, as well.  Mike said, "I was most excited to hear from the founders of Operation Smile. They delivered a moving message about turning our 'shoulds' into 'musts' and shared how making those decisions early on helped birth his organization."
     Mike was also moved by different breakouts concerning being intentional.  Something that really stuck out to him was when one of his mentors said, " The reason why we go through life not being intentional is because we don't get it in our head of what a life well-lived looks like."  Since hearing this, Mike has said,"This event got me refocused on the vision of our company and my personal vision of creating more opportunity for others, specifically the next generation. I will continue to stick to my core values and implement them into our leadership development courses."Managing Partners, Neha and Austin, both seem extra-motivated after this conference.  They have both are planning to hold themselves and their business to a higher standard, provide more opportunity, and work harder to help others hit their goals.  Neha was especially motivated by other strong entrepreneurs who gave her strong advice about developing the people in our office, and going out of your way to build strong relationships with everyone.  Austin feels that he's more determined and focused than ever. His motto is to, "Plan the attack and attack the plan!" 

    Speaking for the HR team, I think it's safe to say we're all extremely motivated to provide more opportunity for our office.  We all have very high goals, and in order to achieve them, we will have to dedicate a lot of time and energy.  We heard from entrepreneurs, consultants, mentors, and peers who all spoke about having high standards, great student mentalities, positive attitudes,  and sticking to your core values in order to be successful.  Needless to say, we are all pumped and ready to attack some goals.  Watch out for big things from Austin Communication Group in 2015!

Monday, February 2, 2015

How to impact the business with a positive attitude and by being more resilient.

     I really wanted to write this blog and keep with the theme of positivity, because I have noticed a major difference in my office since it became a more positive environment.  People are becoming more resilient and bouncing back from their challenges and adversity in a very timely fashion.  Resilience by definition is the ability to recover quickly from difficulties. Resilient people don't give in to anger or despair when faced with a setback. Instead, they tap into a greater purpose to bounce back stronger than ever.  Highly resilient people know how to bend to inevitable failures and tragedies and not break.  It is a quality that all top performing owners, recruiters, reps, CEOs, Presidents, and top performers of any kind possess.  You may be asking yourself, what can I do to become more resilient? The answer is simple but the process takes time and effort: Practice the habit of being positive.

    As employees in the office, we have the choice of being the thermometer or the thermostat. It is up to us to set the tone for our office and for a little bit I wasn’t setting the most positive temperature, but I made a strong effort to change that by doing most of these action items. 

1.     Have a strong sense of purpose.
-I need to be persistent in my pursuit of positive thinking.  I had to basically throw myself into this completely and make it into a project.  I worked with top leaders, the HR team, and the owners, to develop a way to spread this message in our office. We adopted the mindset of practicing positivity by focusing on different habits of happy people.   We decided to dedicate an entire week to making over the office and called it the “Week of Smiles.” We each wore a yellow bracelet as a visual reminder of our solidarity and unity to become a happier, more positive, and productive office.
2.  Be self-reliant.
                        - Being self-reliant means that you are completely capable of remaining calm in a crisis and able to roll with the punches.  You alone are able to carry out your own purpose, which will allow you to rebound from any setback.  The first step to being more self-reliant is being self-aware.  Be aware of how you react to certain situations and maybe write it down.  Then you can learn from it and how to better react next time you are faced with another inevitable challenge.
.   3. Have a support system.
- Just because successful people are self-confident and can rely on themselves doesn't mean that they isolate themselves from others. Studies show that having intimate relationships with friends and family provides the benefits of belonging, increased self-worth, and security that reduces stress levels, especially in times of crisis. There is a reason that I had to involve my entire office in the “Week of Smiles” and that I talked to at least one of my mentors every day last week, on top of talking to my mom every day. Yes, I talked to my mother every day last week!  We live over 1,000 miles apart, but once I told her my goal of being more positive, she held me accountable at the end of everyday and was there if I needed to vent for a minute before quickly turning the bad attitude into a way to overcome any obstacles.

4.  Turn adversity into opportunities for growth.
                        - There’s an ancient Greek philosophy called ‘stoicism’ where people re-frame adversity as an opportunity for triumph.  By definition, a Stoic is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into transformation, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking.  As recruiters in this business, we will undoubtedly be faced with tons of adversity and obstacles that we can either overcome or give in to.  When we can overcome these challenges, we learn valuable lessons and are less likely to make the same mistake again.  You open yourself up to being someone who other recruiters go to for coaching.  I’m still learning a lot, but I can tell you that I’ve grown leaps and bounds in the last two years I’ve been recruiting and coaching recruiters.  Just last week during our Week of Smiles, my reps had taken small daily tasks such as driving to work in traffic, and made themselves view it more positively by waving and smiling at the bad drivers and got to the office in a better mood already! 

4.  5.   Express gratitude.
By definition, the practice of gratitude involves a focus on the present moment, on appreciating your life as it is today and what has made it so.  One day of our Week of Smiles was dedicated to practicing the habit of gratitude. It was so cathartic to think of the things that we were grateful for- big or little- such as: someone holding the door open for me, not getting in an accident in the crazy traffic, a rep brought breakfast, a text message from my dad, appreciating the coaching I receive, being recognized for hard work by Neha and Austin.  Expressing gratitude makes you a happier, more energetic, more empathetic, compassionate person and in turn builds resilience!

     Resilience is one of the greatest qualities a person can possess because they are problem solvers, they are independent, they are optimistic, they are accepting of others, they have a great support network, and they are optimists.  We can all possess a little more resilience and work on it together by reinforcing the habit of positive thinking.  It takes effort on a daily basis to be a positive thinker, but the outcome is SO worth the effort. The reps in my office got to participate in running meetings and workshops, have visual reminders of what makes them smile, they exercised their minds and bodies, and at the end of the week both Austin and Neha’s offices finished in the Top 5 for the campaign.  I know this isn’t a coincidence.  It’s a matter of adopting a new habit and reinforcing it on a daily basis. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top of Form
12 Things Happy People Do Differently

“I’d always believed that a life of quality, enjoyment, and wisdom were my human birthright and would be automatically bestowed upon me as time passed.  I never suspected that I would have to learn how to live - that there were specific disciplines and ways of seeing the world I had to master before I could awaken to a simple, happy, uncomplicated life.”
-Dan Millman

Studies conducted by positivity psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky point to 12 things happy people do differently to increase their levels of happiness.  These are things that we can start doing today to feel the effects of more happiness in our lives.  

I want to honor and discuss each of these 12 points, because no matter what part of life’s path we’re currently traveling on, these ‘happiness habits’ will always be applicable.
1.       Express gratitude. – When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value.  Kinda cool right?  So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness.  And that’s without having to go out and buy anything.  It makes sense.  We’re gonna have a hard time ever being happy if we aren't thankful for what we already have.
2.      Cultivate optimism. – Winners have the ability to manufacture their own optimism.  No matter what the situation, the successful diva is the chick who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it.  She knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life.  People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.

3.      Avoid over-thinking and social comparison. – Comparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous.  If we’re somehow ‘better’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, it gives us an unhealthy sense of superiority.  Our ego inflates – KABOOM – our inner Kanye West comes out!  If we’re ‘worse’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, we usually discredit the hard work that we’ve done and dismiss all the progress that we’ve made.  What I’ve found is that the majority of the time this type of social comparison doesn’t stem from a healthy place.  If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself.
4.      Practice acts of kindness. – Performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in your brain.  (Serotonin is a substance that has TREMENDOUS health benefits, including making us feel more blissful.)  Selflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside.  What’s even cooler about this kindness kick is that not only will you feel better, but so will people watching the act of kindness.  How extraordinary is that?  Bystanders will be blessed with a release of serotonin just by watching what’s going on.  A side note is that the job of most anti-depressants is to release more serotonin.  Move over Pfizer, kindness is kicking ass and taking names.

5.       Nurture social relationships. – The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships.  Did you know studies show that people’s mortality rates are DOUBLED when they’re lonely?  WHOA!  There’s a warm fuzzy feeling that comes from having an active circle of good friends who you can share your experiences with.  We feel connected and a part of something more meaningful than our lonesome existence.
6.      Develop strategies for coping. – How you respond to the ‘craptastic’ moments is what shapes your character.  Sometimes crap happens – it’s inevitable.  Forrest Gump knows the deal.  It can be hard to come up with creative solutions in the moment when manure is making its way up toward the fan.  It helps to have healthy strategies for coping pre-rehearsed, on-call, and in your arsenal at your disposal.
7.       Learn to forgive. – Harboring feelings of hatred is horrible for your well-being.  You see, your mind doesn’t know the difference between past and present emotion.  When you ‘hate’ someone, and you’re continuously thinking about it, those negative emotions are eating away at your immune system.  You put yourself in a state of suckerism (technical term) and it stays with you throughout your day.
8.      Increase flow experiences. – Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still.  It’s when you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you become one with the task.  Action and awareness are merged.  You’re not hungry, sleepy, or emotional.  You’re just completely engaged in the activity that you’re doing.  Nothing is distracting you or competing for your focus.
9.      Savor life’s joys. – Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy.  It’s easy in a world of wild stimuli and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life’s enjoyable experiences.  When we neglect to appreciate, we rob the moment of its magic.  It’s the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them.
10.   Commit to your goals. – Being wholeheartedly dedicated to doing something comes fully-equipped with an ineffable force.  Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere.  When you’re fully committed to doing something, you have no choice but to do that thing.  Counter-intuitively, having no option – where you can’t change your mind – subconsciously makes humans happier because they know part of their purpose.

11.    Practice spirituality. – When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us.  We surrender the silly idea that we are the mightiest thing ever.  It enables us to connect to the source of all creation and embrace a connectedness with everything that exists.  Some of the most accomplished people I know feel that they’re here doing work they’re “called to do.”
12.   Take care of your body. – Taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be.  If you don’t have your physical energy in good shape, then your mental energy (your focus), your emotional energy (your feelings), and your spiritual energy (your purpose) will all be negatively affected.  Did you know that studies conducted on people who were clinically depressed showed that consistent exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft?  Not only that, but here’s the double whammy… Six months later, the people who participated in exercise were less likely to relapse because they had a higher sense of self-accomplishment and self-worth.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

7 Ways Leaders Maintain Their Composure in Difficult Times

Leaders need to show more composure than ever before in the workplace.   With increased  demands and intensifying competitive factors that surround us, leaders must have greater poise, agility and patience to minimize the impact of uncertainty.   How leaders respond to these and other growing pressures is an indicator of their leadership preparedness, maturity and acumen.
The composure of a leader is reflected in their attitude, body language and overall presence.   In today’s evolving business environment, it is clear that leadership is not only about elevating the performance, aptitude and development of people – but more so about the ability to make people feel safe and secure.   .

The 21st century leader sees adversity through the lens of opportunity.  Rather than panic, a leader with composure takes a step back and begins to connect the dots of opportunity within adverse circumstances.   These types of leaders quickly detect the causes of adversity and solve for them immediately.  They then enable the opportunities previously unseen that could have avoided the adversity to begin with.  

Many times crisis results when composure is missing.
The next time a problem arises, ask yourself if you or your leader could have shown a greater sense of composure and avoided the problem from surfacing.

Here are seven ways to maintain leadership composure during the most pressure-packed moments:

1.  Don’t Allow Your Emotions to Get in the Way
Seasoned leaders know not to wear their emotions on their sleeves.   They don’t yell or get overly animated when times get tough.  These types of leaders have such emotional self-control that even their body language does not give them away.
When you allow your emotions to get in the way, employees interpret this as a sign you are not being objective enough and too passionate about the situation at hand.  Strong-willed leaders can maintain their composure and still express concern and care, but not to the point that their emotions become a distraction – or that they can’t responsibly handle the issues at hand.
2.  Don’t Take Things Personally
Leaders shouldn’t take things personally when things don’t go their way.   Business decisions and circumstances don’t always play out logically because office politics and other dynamics factor into the process.    As a leader, remain calm and don’t get defensive or think that you always must justify your thinking and actions.
When you begin to take things personally, it’s difficult to maintain your composure and make those around you believe that you have things under control.  In fact, when leaders take issues too close to heart, they allow the noise and politics around them to suffocate their thinking and decision-making capabilities.
3.  Keep a Positive Mental Attitude
Employees are always watching their leader’s actions, behavior, relationships and overall demeanor.   During the most difficult of times, leaders must maintain a positive mental attitude and manage a narrative that keeps their employees inspired and hopeful.  This is where your leadership experience and resolve  can really shine – by staying strong, smiling often and authentically exhibiting a sense of compassion.
Leaders set the tone for the organization they serve.   A positive attitude can neutralize chaos and allow a leader to course correct through any negativity.    Employees feed off the attitude of these leaders during times of uncertainty.   Keep a positive mental attitude and never stop moving forward.  Stay focused on building positive momentum for the betterment of the healthier whole. 
4.  Remain Fearless

When leaders project confidence, they instill it in others.  During uncertain times, leaders must remain fearless and project a cool persona that communicates composure to those they lead.
I’ve been through ups and downs in my career and have learned that when you begin to fear adverse circumstances, you not only put yourself in a position of vulnerability, but it becomes extremely difficult to act rationally and objectively.    When you panic, you mentally freeze and your mind loses focus.
When you begin to get fearful, ask yourself:  What is the worst possible thing that can happen?  If you are objective about it and have the will and confidence to face it, you will eventually realize that the situation is manageable and can be resolved.  Faced with adversity several times over, your fears will eventually vanish and uncertainty will become your best friend.

5.  Respond Decisively
Leaders who maintain their composure will never show any signs of doubt.  They speak with conviction, confidence and authority – whether they know the answer  or not!  With their delivery alone,  they give their employees  a sense that everything is under control.
Recently, Mack Brown, the former coach of the University of Texas football team, was put under a lot of pressure to resign as a result of his team underperforming in 2013.  Though the University handled his forced resignation poorly  – considering Mr. Brown had coached the team successfully for the past 16 years – his decisiveness the day he announced his resignation made you feel that his transition out of the job was a positive thing for the university.  Human nature will tell you that he must have been hurting inside, but his decisiveness and presence of mind made those that were watching him speak believe that the future looked bright for UT football.

6.  Take Accountability
Leaders are most composed during times of crisis and change when they are fully committed to resolving the issue at hand.   When you are accountable, this means that you have made the decision to assume responsibility and take the required steps to problem solve before the situation gets out of hand.
When leaders assume accountability, they begin to neutralize the problem and place  the environment from which it sprung on pause

7.  Act Like You Have Been There Before
Great leaders know that one of the most effective ways to maintain composure during difficult times is to act like you have been there before.   Leaders that act to show they have been through the problem solving process numerous times before are those with strong executive presence who approach the matter at hand with a sense of elegance and grace.    They are patient, they are active listeners, and they will genuinely take a compassionate approach to ease the hardships that anyone else is experiencing.
Just ask any technical support representative.  When you are on the phone with them, their job is to make you feel that even your most difficult challenges can be easily resolved.     They are there to calm you down and give you hope that your problem will soon be solved.    Pay attention to their demeanor and how they are masters at soothing your frustrations.  They always act to show that they have been there before; their composure puts your mind at ease.
It’s easy to lose composure during times of crisis and change if you let concern turn into worry and worry turn into fear.  By maintaining composure, the best leaders remain calm, cool and in control – enabling them to step back, critically evaluate the cards that they have been dealt and face problems head-on.  A show of composure also puts those you lead at ease and creates a safe and secure workplace culture where no one need panic in the face of adversity.
As the saying goes, “Keep Calm and Carry On!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

8 Great Work Habits and How I Use Them

     This week, my main focus was on getting back to the basics. It turns out less really is more and when you're feeling robotic, it's best to go back to the foundations of what you learned on Day 1 of training.  We all spoke about the 8 Great Work Habits this week, including Top Account Manager, Mike Archa, and HR Department, Dena Shleifer and Doni Kalachi. We want to share with you what these habits are and how we implemented them into our daily routines.  
     Starting with the 1st work habit: 1. Have and maintain a positive attitude. A positive can-do attitude is critical for success. Think like a winner to be one. Enthusiasm and excitement attracts and engages other people- whether it’s a customer or a coach. Also, having and maintaining a positive attitude will help you take rejection in stride.  Positive people are more resilient, and able to problem solve when they’re faced with any obstacles. Needless to say, this is a controllable habit that seems very critical for success.
     Habit number 2 is Be on time.  Punctuality suggests reliability, dependability and trustworthiness. Easy ways to get in the habit of being on time is to start setting a routine.  Whether that routine includes picking out clothes the night before, or waking up without hitting snooze and begin a morning routine to start your day.  Successful entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs admitted to both wearing the same things every day in order to save time.  Think about that one!
     The 3rd habit is to be prepared.  Easy for someone like Dena, who often thinks of a zombie apocalypse situation, because she is always prepared! Planning ahead for obstacles or unusual situations can help you with confidence.  Keep in mind that hindsight is 20/20.  Use past mistakes as a way to learn and prepare yourself for another obstacle.  You can't control life, but you can adjust to it!
    Number 4 is working a full day.  To be an entrepreneur, you'll have to do things others won't in order to get what others can't.  You need to follow through with your goals no matter what obstacles you may face.  This goes hand-in-hand with habit number 5, work your territory correctly.  This habit ensures that you are not only working hard, but you are also working smart. You are keeping track of trends that work for you and ensuring that you hit your goal.
     The sixth habit is respecting the customer.  Now, on a daily basis we interact with different "customers."  This can be co-workers, managers, job seekers, businesses, customers, friends, and family.  Basically, anyone you meet- listen to them, be positive, and most importantly, be eager to help.  Focus on what they actually need by listening, and be enthusiastic. 
     The 7th habit is very important.  This habit is called Understanding your opportunity, and it involves figuring out WHY you are working so hard and aggressively towards a goal.  Once you understand your 'why,' it'll drive what you do, and how and why you do it. We are lucky enough to work in an opportunity business where opportunity is met by helping others.  The opportunities are limitless luckily, so it's up to you to work hard and understand what and why you're doing it.
     The 8th and final habit is taking control.  Now this can have many meanings: take control of your opportunity/future, take control of a challenging situation, or take control of a conversation.  This habit, combined with the other seven habits, will  lead you to having a successful day every day.  It's good to remember that it usually takes about 21 days to form a habit, so this is something you will need to commit to for the next three weeks and in turn, will have a lifetime of success.