Today I received a phone call from a friend asking for my help with a difficult conversation. She credited me with good people skills. I really appreciate that complement. I thought this would be a good topic to share with other entrepreneurs and get their take on people skills.
As an entrepreneur, I frequently have to have difficult conversations. I have found the best way to take the difficulty out of the conversation is to “seek first to understand.” I am an avid reader, and one of my favorite authors is Stephen Covey. I had the great fortune of meeting him in person during my days working with Comcast. I believe it was Stephen Covey who made this phrase part of my daily speech. Just yesterday I saw a vanity license plate that read “seek2understand. ”
This was the essence of my advice to my friend. She had a business situation where a vendor that she is using made a comment that she took as an insult. She did not know how to approach the person or if she should. I suggested that she should approach the vendor. I suggested she approach them privately. I also asked her if she knew for sure that he meant to insult her. She could not answer yes. I suggested that she go with the mindset of wanting to understand what he meant. Perhaps she misunderstood his comment completely.If she did if she approached the situation as wanting to understand.
So fellow entrepreneurs how do you handle difficult conversations? Share your advice here!
Right Product + Market Opportunity + Committed Execution = Success
Many people ask me what is the key to my success as a business owner. I look to the formula that my dad passed down to me. He would say you need to have a product that people need. Elaborating that not only do you need a product people need but you need enough people to need it to make a profit. Mix in a passion for what you are doing and learning everything you can about selling, marketing, making and developing the product.
Harvard Business School professor Nitin Nohria along with William Joyce and Bruce Roberson studied 160 companies to look for common management practices that succeed and found a sound business plan is at the core of success. They found a strong grasp of business basics was the key to longevity and growth. My dad never went to college only trade school. He smiles when I share what the Harvard Business School says about success. My dad is a smart man with a great deal of common sense.
As I explore what makes a person both a success as an inventor and entrepreneur, I think that I have found another key! You must be highly smart but also have common sense. I am not sure the two always go hand in hand.
I look to the great inventor/entrepreneur Colonel Deed. He not only invented things but was called by Quaker Oats to improve functioning of a factory. He is an example of a highly intelligent man with good business common sense.
In June 2010 I was unhappy. I was not sure why. I have a wonderful husband, fantastic family, and my consulting business was doing well. I reached out to a former boss who had become a former client. Someone who regardless of their status in my life I view as a mentor, Jane Perdue. Jane and I talked for a while. She shared her vision for her company. She shared some of the amazing work she was doing. At the end of the conversation she suggested we start a joint venture. In August 2010 I joined Braithwaite Innovation Group. By January of 2011 I am working harder than I have in a long time and I am deliriously happy.
Why am I so happy?
I attribute my understanding of my happiness to a quirky book I read many years ago, Flow: the Psychology of the Optimal Experience. In this book the author shares research that happiness exists when we find the sweet spot where our capability is equal to the challenges we face. The research shows that this is true in our work lives, our personal lives and even in our sex lives. It says if our capabilities our beyond our challenges we become bored dissatisfied unhappy. If our challenges exceed our capabilities we become stressed.
I have a theory of my own. I believe that entrepreneurs thrive when our challenges are just beyond our capabilities. I am deliriously happy because undertaking this new venture every day I face a new challenge. Sometimes it seems that every minute of every day I need to learn a new skill. I work all day and research and learn all evening.
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” ~Steve Jobs
Innovation comes from the Latin word innovātus which means to renew. Innovation can therefore be seen as the process which renews something that exists. It does not mean, as is commonly assumed, the introduction of something new.
Innovation requires people to change the way they think, they must choose to do things differently, make choices outside of their norm. So innovation must be seen as something that does not something that is
On a lower level, innovation can be seen as a change in the thought process for doing something, or the useful application of new inventions or discoveries. It may refer to incremental, emergent, or radical and revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organizations.
My dad has always been my inspiration as he is both inventive and innovative! Today my father sold my family home. He is preparing to journey to the next stage of his life. Even as he prepares to move to a “retirement” community, he still pursues life long learning. He is now on Facebook! So whether you are an innovator or an inventor, I challenge you to continue life long learning. In watching “The Talk” yesterday I heard Debbie Reynolds speak of her daughter, Carrie Fisher. She explained Carrie is brilliant and reads a book a day!
Today I vow to pick my next great book to read. What will yours be?
An idea for an invention can come from anywhere! It might be developed while you are journaling or even blogging! Social media makes it easier than ever for people in different locations to collaborate. One of the best way to discover a new idea it talking! My favorite part of being an Inventrepreuner (my new word) is working with a partner! Your idea for today is find others who share your passion and talk!
If you are still looking for your idea or expanding your idea - try play! Thomas Edison said, “I never did a day’s work in my life, it was all fun.”
Play can lead to invention. My dad always said do what you love and the money will follow. So connect with your childhood curiosity. Try playing like you did as a kid. Play with dolls or balls, experiment and imagine. Inventors feel the need to play with things that interest them, and to explore, and this internal drive brings about novel creations.