Does technology solve your communication problems?

Does technology solve your communication problems? Clever advertising and marketing might have you think so.

The temptation to grab a new app, invest in a new piece of software or hardware can be all very tempting…BUT it is not a magic wand.

Let’s be honest, life gets pretty hectic – both in the personal and professional sense.

Managing a pretty packed schedule; juggling business commitments, making sure to spend quality time with the family, as well as plugging in some “Me Time” is pretty much part and parcel of daily living these days.

It’s one big juggle.

By strategically embracing a few key pieces of tech it can be easier to keep all the balls in the air.

Note I said easier, not easy!

But it can also be a burden around your neck as you wrestle to get your head around how it operates and the intrusion it can often make into your life.

Technology makes it easier

Smartphones, tablets, laptops, Skype, WhatsApp, Trello, Dropbox, LinkedIn and…

…the Nespresso machine is part of our daily toolkit.

In a world where you have virtual assistants,  independent freelance experts, speech recognition and a myriad more timesaving options to choose from there is one thing that jumps out at me…

Despite all the changes and the new technologies at our fingertips, there is one thing that never changes.

That is the need to master the simple art of communication.

Communication

The need for strong communication skills remains as vital today as ever. In fact, you could say that this is even more important today.

And here’s why…

BECAUSE despite all the time-saving devices, fancy ways to send and receive messages,  the impactful way to connect comes down to genuine, authentic, respectful communication.

Communication is a two-way street

The need to feel connected is a strong human emotion.

We communicate with words and the words we choose can make or break a connection.

Choosing the right words can only be done when we understand our audiences, their perspective, their needs and the nuances of different demographics.

When we listen, we start to understand and that’s when the magic starts to happen – real communication that runs two ways.

Technology is wonderful, but nothing beats a face to face conversation, picking up the phone or doing a live interactive video call.

Being able to relate

If you stop to think about it, the need to connect on a relatable level is why things like Facebook live and video communication is so popular.

The audience gets to see you which helps them relate. As they hear you speak your words they feel directly connected provided you are using words that resonate with them.

Communication styles can be developed and honed with practice, but they always need to sound natural.  Building a relationship is something that needs a human touch no matter what kind of technology is being used to deliver your message.

If you’re struggling with making connections you may like to grab my FREE e-guide The Five Essential Steps to Networking & Creating Connections .

Fly like a dragon,

Michelle

 

Managing Your Time

Managing your time wisely is the key to achievement.

Knowing where you are going, being present in the moment and being focussed are your cornerstones.

I’m pretty sure we’d all agree that this is often easier said than done? So many bright and shiny objects litter the path (internet) to lead us astray.

Think of it like this – when you know where you are going you move forward with a laser focus.

It’s easy because you’re super clear about where you want to get to. You have clarity on exactly what you need to do and are smart enough to know that staying in your lane is a key essential….because

Time is finite!

You never get back time once it has passed. Sure you can extend a deadline, BUT the truth, plain and simple is this…

We each have an allocated amount and no matter how much money you may have it is impossible to buy extra time.

This is one commodity money cannot buy.

My #1 Dragon Discipline is to be curious, be interested, be open to ideas and possibilities. However, this is never at the expense of taking the focus away from goals that are already set.

Staying on track and in your own lane is paramount to achievement. You may like to check my blog post Top 7 Tips to Manage Your Business Day

Reviewing Your Progress

As we come to the close of 2019, I’ve been spending time talking to my clients about a “Walk Down Memory” lane from the perspective of their business.

I’ve done the same exercise with my own business.

The exercise makes it super easy to see where you have done well, where you could have done better. Most importantly, you’re able to see a pattern emerging.

Although I have gained recognition for my work through being the recipient of multiple awards, it has never been my goal to win any award…in fact, I never really thought about their existence.

I know from talking to others in the Awards Alumni, they also never had that goal.

The common element was following a passion.

When you are passionate you are focussing, staying in your lane with your eyes fixed firmly on the finish line.  It is a single-minded determination.

Prioritising Time = Achieving Goals

Like so many other things in business, there is a simple formula to follow.

I learnt this some years back and have been teaching it to my clients for several years now.

As we leave 2019 behind, I’ve compiled it into a short e-guide to share with anyone who needs help with prioritising time.

It is 100% free and you are welcome to download here. 

Dragon head image
Fly like a dragon!
Michelle

Let’s Talk Turkey

Let’s talk turkey is highly topical given we are in the season of Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching. But I am not talking about succulent, yummy stuff and roasted turkey…

No, sorry. Definitely not the one you probably plan to eat over the Festive season – although I do have a GREAT recipe for stuffing that’s been a guarded secret, handed down through the years. I finally got my hands on it last year!

I mean talking turkey about your business. Being serious. About what can be achieved. What has to be done and what can be left aside.

Getting down to business

Yes, it’s about stuff in your business. Or more precisely what you should and should not be stuffing into your calendar.

Social media, and likely as not your inbox is going mad right now with loads of special offers – Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Bargains Galore.

Everyone is wanting to sell you something.

Tips to still the noise

1) Choose wisely who you want to hear from. Unsubscribe from what you are not seriously in need of or who you do not genuinely enjoy hearing from.

2) If internet distractions are a big problem when you sit down to work there’s a great app called Cold Turkey! In the interest of full disclosure, this is Sasha’s affiliate link.

It’s a blocking app you can install on your PC. There is a free and a pro version which allows you to turn on a timer which will block off access to all webpages that are frequent distractions.  It is very powerful and works wonders for time management!

FOMO – Fear of Missing Out

It’s easy to get caught up in the hype. FOMO is real!

But, to be successful in your goals…, it is VITAL to still the noise.

To be able to work out what is valuable for you and your situation right now.

“Experts” with bright shiny websites are there to tempt you with offers to make you a millionaire.

Truth told – much is smoke and mirrors. It’s clever marketing.

I do have a free tip sheet on choosing someone to work with – it’s right here for you to grab if you want it.

SOS – Shiny Object Syndrome is alive and well, which is exactly why using FOMO  tactics works so well.

But here’s the thing…when you get to a certain point in your life you realise it all comes down to…going cold turkey.

Planning ahead

2020 heralds the end of the teens. A new decade lies ahead.

A time to be grown up and take your business by the horns rather than ‘stuffing’ around.

Without a plan written down, that is measurable, achievable and progress, you’ll find yourself floundering around. Been there and done that myself!

No, I am not a rag to riches story – I have lovely parents, had food on the table every night and was well educated with nice clothes on my back.

Failures

That said, I’ve also had my share of failures, of making bad decisions because I did not know any better.

It’s my lived experiences of failures that have brought me success.

Mistakes I made include growing too fast, spending money on tools I was not ready for (and did not really know how to use!) BUT I learnt many lessons!

Successes

My biggest successes have been on the roughest terrain with lots of bumps in the road but thanks to having a MAP I’ve been able to navigate those bumps that have included tight budgets, people letting me down, unexpected twists and turns that meant a quick pivot.

Those lessons are what I now use to guide my clients to success.

Write it down

Here’s a quick tip – when you write something down it becomes all the more real. It becomes a commitment to yourself.

Make it real! Let me know in the comments what the first action is that you’re going to take towards a successful 2020.

To your success!
Michelle

PS My Mastermind Membership that starts on 1 December 2019. If you’d like to be considered for a scholarship entry (Value $297 for 6 months) drop me a note to michelle@dragonsisters.com.au and tell me why you’d value a place 🙂

 

 

Achieving Goals

Achieving goals comes down to knowing what you want.

But knowing what you want is not enough.

Once you have your set goal, it’s then time to get down to planning out the way you’re going to achieve it.

Regardless of whether it is in your personal or business life the reality is that strategy really does play a huge part on the journey to achievement.

Defining Strategic

Strategic (adjective) as identified by the Oxford dictionary is defined as – Relating to the identification of long-term or overall aims and interests and the means of achieving them.

If you want to achieve a certain outcome then you need to have a very measured approach.

A pathway. A series of stepping stones that take you forward towards your goals.

Without that pathway.

The map.

The strategy.

Life tends to just wander along in and before you know it a year has flown past!

Without strategic direction, there is less chance of achievement and satisfaction.

Strategic planning is all about aiming for what is right for YOU and for your business.

You are unique and your plans will be different from mine – but there is a commonality to all plans…

You can read here how I utilised strategic planning to achieve my personal goal of living and working in Europe for 12 months.

Strategic Direction

As you move along with your business/life/career you NEED to know the direction you are heading in and WHERE you want to end up.

Why? Because without clear goals it is impossible to tell if you have actually achieved your goals.

You will not know when you have arrived.

And knowing that is super important BECAUSE it is what helps you feel motivated.

The sense of achievement, as you tick off each goal, helps keep you fueled with positive forward momentum.

Naturally, goals can and often do change as you move through life. That’s part and parcel of business growth and life in general.

Fly like a dragon  Fly like a dragon

Michelle

 



12 years old today & lessons learnt

12 years old today means lots of lessons have been learnt along the way.

To clarify – it is the 12th birthday of the day that the business name Dragon Sisters was first registered. It’s been quite a journey with lots of ups and downs.

 

Projects big and small. Short and long term contracts. Very public and behind the scenes. Each of these experiences has been part and parcel of our business evolution.

Along the way, we’ve been fortunate to meet some fabulous people who have so willingly shared advice, guidance and provided mentorship.

Learning is a life-long process

When you run your own business you are constantly learning and from some of the most unexpected and unlikely sources – which is what makes it all the more fun.

There is never a dull moment. Adventure. Drama. Action. Anguish. Satisfaction. These are all part of the journey as a small business owner.

12 Lessons Learnt

  1. Never underestimate the value you bring to the table
  2. Whatever is really easy for you is not for others
  3. You need to be constantly testing, measuring and tweaking
  4. Done is better than perfect – relates to point 3
  5. Never become complacent
  6. Creating connections is essential for your growth
  7. Word of mouth is the most powerful tool you can harness
  8. Be very clear on who your audience is
  9. Small, easy to digest chunks of information work best
  10. Ask for help when you need it
  11. Don’t be afraid to pivot
  12. Discipline and consistency are the keys to achieving goals
Having a great coach or mentor is invaluable! We’ve been blessed to have a few of those come into our lives.

Fly like a dragonFly like a dragon!

Michelle

COMPARISON – THE THIEF OF JOY

“Comparison is the thief of joy” Theodore Roosevelt

And the new trial by Facebook in Australia to reduce comparisons by removing the visibility of LIKES on a post is music to my ears.

With social media being such a dominant part of our daily lives, it is all too easy to get suckered into the vanity metrics.

Thanks to this move by Facebook content that is being posted should be a lot better quality and more authentic rather than a contest to get the most LIKES.

What you should be comparing

From a business perspective, it is important to measure your own progress and run your own race.

When you focus on comparison to others on a regular basis, you’re on a sure-fire track to go right off course.

My dragon boat coach used to say “momentum goes where attention flows” and he is right!

If you’re so busy looking around at what everyone else is doing, it’s impossible to concentrate on running your own race.

Your efforts become sloppy because your focus is elsewhere – I’ve seen this happen a zillion times in a dragon boat. Especially with excited new teams who feel they have to “watch” the competition to beat them!

Where to Focus

It’s your own race/business. Unique.

Once you’ve got your race/business plan bedded down, the focus should be on how you/your business is progressing against your plan.

Compare where you are today to where you were 6 months ago, a year ago, 5 or even 10 years ago.

These are the statistics that are meaningful as they are very specific to your own journey/business development.

At the end of each dragon boat race, the coach would review what went well, where we could tweak and improve. That would then be written into the race plan.

It’s the exact same with your business – move towards those goals/milestones. As you reach each goal, stop. Check how you are tracking. Decide where you may want to tweak a strategy but first run your race.

Engagement not comparison

Engagement means paying attention. In the dragon boat, we paid attention to each team member, to what each was bringing to the team in terms of commitment and effort in order to win the race.

In the business realm, this translates into a focus on what you are offering your audience – whether it is on social media, a blog, via email or in person.

The quality of your content and your service delivery is what leads to success.

Fly like a dragonFly like a dragon!

Michelle

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Are you missing opportunities for your business?

Are you missing business opportunities?

Do you find yourself saying things like ‘If I knew then what I know now … I wouldn’t have done that/I would have done this’?

The biggest frustration is when there was a great opportunity – there for the taking but you missed it.

These kinds of scenarios usually only become apparent when someone, other than you, beats you to the punch.

In the words of Homer Simpson, this can be a ‘Doh!’ moment.

It’s not luck

Yet there are people in life, and in business, who never seem to slip up in this way. They always seem to be surrounded by opportunities.

Have thoughts like these ever bounced across your brain? ‘I should be so lucky!’ or ‘That guy has all the luck!’ or ‘How does she do it?!’

But STOP! Pause for a moment and ask yourself this question…

Is it luck, or do they know something you don’t?

What’s noticeable about these types of people is that they’re consistent. They rarely bobble up and down like a ping pong ball in a wave machine.

There’s something that anchors them, keeps them on course, on point.

They have a specific mindset

In business, you need a consistent approach to everything.  

If you don’t, you’ll find that the results you get peak and trough (like the ping pong ball), and your performance averages out at, well – average.

By your approach to everything, we mean just that:

Everything you do and say.

Every decision you make.

Everything you think.

It’s what we call a Smarketing Mindset.

And before you think, ‘this Dragon Sisters lot sound like a brain-washing cult,’ one of the key things in developing a Smarketing Mindset, is honing your own, unique voice, to cut through the white noise of sameness.

The Smarketing Mindset

Put simply it is a mindset that you develop to constantly and consistently create and maximise opportunities – even the ones you may not have noticed (remember those are the ones you lost to that person with a charmed life?)

Some people are born Smarketers (OK there was an element of luck with them there).

Most people become Smarketers by learning a system which gives them the same advantages.

Smarketing is about strategy – not the sort you write down for your boss or your bank manager – the sort you live by until it becomes second nature.

Your personal formula

Smarketing is your personal formula for communication and promotion. It sets you, and your business, apart from the rest.

It’s something that you do consistently.

A smarketing mindset means using a combination of very deliberate strategic sales and marketing techniques to make your own luck.

It means working consistently and building a solid base on from which to connect and network.

If you want to make your own luck – it’s time to get smarketing!

Michelle & Yvonne

Michelle Hanton is a multi-award winning bespoke business strategist, working internationally as a consultant, coach, speaker and writer. She has a keen interest in the not-for-profit sector and is the former CEO of Lifeline Top End, and founder of Dragons Abreast Australia, a national charity dedicated to the promotion of breast cancer awareness.

Yvonne Toering is a business development consultant who has worked with leading organisations and brands including Securicor Group, Vodafone Group, ASDA as well as most of the UK’s major high street retail chains including Marks and Spencer Plc, the National Health Service, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Mars UK, and the Grand Metropolitan Group, owners of Burger King, Smirnoff, Samuel Webster Brewers, Haagen Daas, Cinzano and other iconic brands.

 

Procrastination the enemy of productivity – are you guilty?

Procrastination. Everyone is guilty of procrastinating once in a while.

You put off doing that one important task in favour of washing the dishes, doing the laundry, or playing a game. We all have some form of procrastination activity, but it’s the enemy of productivity and in business, there’s no time for it.

Encouraging Productivity

I’m a terrible procrastinator, and I hate it. So over time, I’ve tried to find ways to be productive and also to FEEL more productive.

There’s a plethora of books and articles that will tell you how to be more productive but a lot of the time those tips don’t work for me.

And even when I’m being productive I often don’t feel like I am.

Now I’m not saying what works for me will work for you but here’s what I’ve found helps:

Check Lists

When I have a checklist to mark off I’m able to tell if I’ve been productive and that in turn encourages me to be more productive.

It also works as a bit of a pseudo-reward, I love that feeling of accomplishment when I mark off a task.

There’s an App for that

And of course, in this technological age, there’s an array of apps for monitoring productivity and encouraging productivity.

Personal I’ve got two apps on my phone and a separate program on my laptop for this and I find them so helpful in avoiding procrastination.

My favourite is Habitica which a friend recommended as a way of tracking productivity.

It’s super helpful in that it’s designed to be a little like an RPG (Role Playing Game).  You get experience points and coins for completing tasks so you go up in levels and can purchase new equipment for your avatar.

For me, this format is really encouraging.  It feels familiar and even though the rewards are simply virtual I find them a great incentive for upping my productivity.

The other apps I use to keep myself productive are Anti-Social and Cold Turkey.

Forced time offline

Social Media and the Internet, in general, are some of the biggest tools for procrastination.

We’ve all had that moment where we go to check something on Facebook and then, one hour later, we haven’t gotten anything done. That’s why it’s so important to be able to take time off.

To unplug.

Although often times your work may require you to remain a little plugged in – emails need checking, research needs to be done etc.

For that reason, I’ve made blocking apps a part of my work habit. When I really need to buckle down and focus I turn on the apps and block off all access to social media.

Removing the temptation is a great way to push forward. If I slip up (and I do sometimes) I just get a pop-up that says the site is blocked – a great deterrent!

I’d love to hear about your productivity secrets, so leave me a comment.

Sasha Hanton

 

MAXIMISING YOUR LUNCHTIME

Maximising your lunchtime makes great business sense. And, I don’t mean having a sandwich at your desk as you pour over reports or jumping on LinkedIn, Facebook etc.

Making time to have lunch, to step away from your desk/place of business is essential to maintaining a helicopter perspective.

When you’re leading a busy life, especially if you’re running your own business, it can be really tough to squeeze the extra time out of your day.

BUT…here’s the thing…you need to eat!

So maximising that time for your own benefit makes good sense – right?

Put down your phone – at least stick it in your pocket or handbag – stand up and walk out of the office.

Walking down the street, stopping to say hello to people and having a quick chat. Sitting quietly in a park/at the beach and absorbing nature, or having lunch with people outside of your normal circle all serve to help either ground or stimulate you.

What you choose to do each lunchtime depends on the outcomes you’d like to achieve.

The key is to make a conscious choice to utilise your lunchtime wisely. After all, it is time. Time is a finite commodity and once passed cannot be recovered.

Alone Time

Choosing to spend time alone, to sit in the park/at the beach will give you silence.

In that stillness, you have the chance to reflect quietly. You’ll often get to hear your inner voice that has been drowned out by the chattering monkeys.

Many of our clients who work in front-facing roles that demand they are “on” for most of their business day love these kinds of lunch breaks.

Actively Being Out & About

If you’re working in isolation, then getting out and about helps to switch off that intense focus your work demands.

Walking down the street and stopping to chat with a couple of people can often provide that human connection that is so important to people who work alone all day.

Alternately, if your work causes lots of pent-up frustrations, bursts of physical activity like a brisk walk, jogging or working out at a gym full of people can be a great tension reliever.

Group Lunches

Getting together with a group of like-minded individuals, from different industries is another productive way to spend a lunchtime. You gain a different perspective which is so very valuable.

I’m not talking about a boozy lunch at a fancy restaurant. You know, where everyone talks about how great they are and no one remembers anything much afterwards. I’ve been to a few of these over the years. Enjoyable but really very unproductive.

Rather, I mean a quiet place where you actually get to connect with authenticity and help each other out through the sharing of information in a supportive environment.

Lunch & Learn Sessions

Lunch and learn sessions are common in large corporations. Often used as a means to minimise downtime, and maximise employee engagement.

Now, if you’re a small business or solo operator you won’t have this luxury BUT… a group lunch and learn for others in the same boat is not too hard to organise.

We know because we’ve facilitated quite a few over the years.  Topics are always varied so attendees choose which they are interested in.

The objective is always that participants leave having learnt something of value – not just had a great lunch.

Scheduling

The key to successfully maximising your lunchtime and being able to get away all comes down to scheduling.

Consider it an important appointment with a very important person. Yes, that’s you!

If you are struggling to get started with this habit, begin with a day a week, and gradually increase it over a period of a month.

Once you start consciously working on maximising your time, you’ll be surprised at how easy it becomes. More importantly, the benefits that you gain are invaluable.

Speaking from a personal perspective – my lunchtime habits are one of the ways that I have been able to keep sane during challenging times. As an added bonus they’ve also brought Dragon Sisters new business connections.

Fly like a dragonFly like a dragon!

Michelle

PS – let me know in the comments how you spend your lunchtimes – I’m always curious 🙂

Strategic Planning = Achieving Your Goals

Strategic Planning is most often associated with a business.

Yet, if you stop and think about it… when you need to reach personal goals, it becomes so much easier with planning.

Strategic (adjective) as identified by the Oxford dictionary is defined as – Relating to the identification of long-term or overall aims and interests and the means of achieving them.

Putting time and thought into how we go about achieving both business and personal goals is equally important. Yet this is not something very many of us tend to do. At least not consciously.

For the most part, we often don’t think of our personal lives in terms of strategic planning. Yet strategy really does play a huge part in each of our lives.

Achieving Outcomes

If you want to achieve a certain outcome then you need to have a very measured approach.

A pathway. A series of stepping stones that take you forward towards your goals.

Without that pathway. The map. The strategy. Life tends to just wander along in a leisurely (or perhaps chaotic) fashion.

There is no firm direction.

Without strategic direction, there is less chance of achievement and satisfaction.

Strategic planning is all about aiming for what is right for YOU and for your business.

You are unique and your plans will be different from mine – but there is a commonality to all plans…

Strategic Direction

As we move along with our business/life/career we each NEED to know the direction we are heading in and WHERE we want to end up.

Why? Because without clear goals it is impossible to tell if we have actually achieved our goals and arrived where we want to be.

Naturally, goals can and often do change as we move through life. That’s part and parcel of business growth and life in general.

So many times I speak to women who have achieved an enormous amount in their lives and yet still feel a sense of lacking.

A sense of lacking

The sense of lacking can often be as a result of lack of clarity. The clarity is missing because there is no clearly defined goal.

Goals are not set and so there is the constant sense of needing to strive for more because it’s never clear that the destination has been reached.

Think about it… we experience the truest sense of achievement when we know we have actually got something we were aiming for.

In my own life, I have received lots of accolades, but these did not really provide that sense of achievement. Other people may have defined these as achievements, and yes, in a way they are right.

BUT …because these were never my goals I did not gain the sense of having “arrived” anywhere. It was a bonus to be recognised for a job well done. It was never a goal to achieve personal recognition.

Personal achievement

For me – one of my most recent biggest senses of achievement came when I was able to spend a year living and working in Europe.

It had been a goal I had for many years.

Planning out how this could be possible without enough language skills to operate at a corporate or community business level and still earn enough money to live on was a challenge. A big challenge!

I made it a reality by putting together a 4-year strategic plan that would get me there. The plan involved ticking off each of the steps one at a time.

Small goals. Bit by bit.

The result was achieving my “sabbatical” year in Spain.

Fly like a Dragon Fly like a dragon

Michelle

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