Monday, 28 November 2011

Are you so absorbed in making a living that you have no time for living?

At the moment I am researching into what makes some businesses more successful than others and in the process redefining what success means.  My last post looked at how a community has been formed in North Herts based around a common interest, motherhood, and how that is now transitioning to a profit-making business.

In this post I want to talk about two very different people who have a similar approach to life and yet are achieving success in very different fields.  The first is Ted Leonsis and the second is Lynn Serafinn.  Both are American and perhaps more importantly both have strong values which drive their business.  In both cases their focus is on happiness or fulfilment rather than wealth as defined in the world’s terms and yet financial gain has been a by-product of their activity.  This is a subtle distinction but a very important one – the driving force in their businesses has not been around making money.  To explain further, let me give you the five rules that Ted lives by:

1) Active involvement in local communities – this is because as humans we are first and foremost social beings and need to connect to others.  He thinks it is vital to volunteer and support projects within our local communities because apart from anything it makes us feel better about ourselves
2) Allowing self expression – for Ted this has come out in two ways: the discipline of blogging on a daily basis and more recently filmmaking.  The latter has led to the coining of a new phrase filmanthropy to describe the power of documentary films to inspire, enlighten and serve as agents of change.  He has established to continue this work.  Another manifestation of this is found in employees and advocates....
3) Astounding levels of personal empathy – this could be likened to a reservoir of empathy to empower others.  Ted describes how he got alongside the cleaners in his current company and cleaned a stadium with them.  Although this happened some time back, they talk about it today more than President Obama’s visit to the stadium.
4) Acts of service – in his daily life Ted is constantly grateful and looking for ways to give back
5) Articulation of a higher purpose – it is not just about doing business, it is about being clear about your calling and allowing that to be transparent in the way that you do business

How does Lynn Serafinn fit into this mix?  She has been inspired to write a book called the 7 Graces of Marketing which goes into detail about what creates good marketing in essence.  She talks about how the current way businesses do marketing is making people ill and encourages us to follow the 7 graces rather than the 7 deadly sins of marketing.  She defines these as:

The Graces                          The 7 deadly sins
Connection                         disconnection
Inspiration                          persuasion
Invitation                            invasion
Directness                           Distraction
Transparency                     deception
Abundance                         scarcity
Collaboration                     competition

What really resonates with me is connection.  It is about remembering that everyone wants to be heard and to feel valued closely followed by collaboration.  When are we going to realise that we can achieve more by working with others?  Recently Lisa Pearson aka the mummy whisperer when talking about her new book explained that it had been road tested by 35 Mums.  It is her content and yet she checked out with those in her community whether her ideas worked.  I do a lot of work in the corporate environment and competition is still alive and well.  Looking at Ted’s five rules to happiness, I am reminded that most businesses fail because the owners become so absorbed in making a living that they have no time for living (Ralph Waldo Trine) and forget about the higher purpose and the big picture.

Going through Lynn and Ted’s lists, which of these concepts do you feel drawn to and what could that mean for your business or the way that you live your life?

For more details on how to buy Lynn's book go to 

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

How can you have failure and success in the same sentence?

A few weeks ago my orchid reflowered for the first time.  That was a major step for me because every time in the past, I have only managed to kill off orchids.  It has gone from one bloom to five in a month.  So what has that got to do with life and work you may be wondering?  There are lots of parallels.

Some of the best things in life and work have to be nurtured and tendered on a regular basis.  We need discipline.  Going back to the orchid for a moment, it flowered because I had a ritual of watering it once a week.  I had also discovered after killing off one of my early orchids that they are rather particular in terms of how they like to be watered.  Their preference is for water to be poured into the saucer and not added direct to the roots as I had done so they can suck up the moisture when they need it.  Running one's life and one's business is also a learning process.

I believe things come into our lives for a reason.  Last week I was very lucky to attend a Local Mums Network event.  I have watched this group evolve from the kernel of an idea in the head of one woman, Kelsie Wagstaff to something huge involving many women.  At its heart it was about providing a community-based network for Mums in North Herts where we could come together and socialise, share ideas, pool resources and flag up worthy causes to support.  In the 15 months or so that it has been running it has really gained momentum; so much so that Kelsie and her team are setting up a website and looking at ways to turn it into a business.  Why has it been successful?

  1. It was based on a genuine need - there was no space for Mums to get together en masse socially.
  2. Kelsie, as the founder, inspired many of her friends to come along to the initial events and to spread the word to their friends.  In fact that was how I heard of it - word of mouth through a friend of mine who is now part of the team running the group.
  3. Kelsie believed in what she was doing and for many months, she was completely dedicated to it and then as it grew she asked people to help her maintain the momentum it was gathering.
  4. The main intention of the network was to be in service of others.  Kelsie was not driven by making money, she wanted to offer a space for Mums to come together and share.
Finding Local Mums Network at this point has been illuminating for me because it has given me lots of ideas about how to position and grow an idea that I and others share and want to bring into the world.  It too will be heart-based rather than head-based.

I say a huge thank you to Kelsie, Rebecca, Justine and the rest of the wonderful women behind Local Mums Network (LMN) for what you have created and inspired in me. I look forward to seeing LMN transition into a new stage of its evolution. And so as you finish this piece, what are you/ would you like to grow, tender and nurture in your life?  What resources and inspiration do you have at your finger tips? How heart-centred is your intention?

Finally remember Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm - Churchill because Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement - CS Lewis.