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

“Pull Up Your Knickers and Go to Bed”

Editor’s note:   Yvonne’s latest post is rather cheeky, but I’m letting it go up. Let me know if you enjoy it!
Sasha.

It’s 12.48 a.m. on a weeknight and I’m sitting at my laptop.

Crazy? Well, that’s how I roll.

Sometimes.

And it’s not because I have just rolled in from a wild night out on the tiles. If you’re a Dragon Sisters client reading this, please note that I don’t mean that I am actually crazy.

If you’re sniggering, then you’ve probably been with Dragon Sisters a looong time.

I’m still up at crazy-o’clock, because my daughter is swotting for an exam. Since I’m no Marine Science whizz, I’ve been pretty much hanging around for moral support, supplying essentials like cups of tea and chocolate.

Michelle and I have been playing phone tag all day, so when the text ‘you still up?’ comes through, I ring her. She’s been out all day and so have I.

She’s in The Northern Territory. I’m in Queensland.

For our out-of-Oz friends, that’s a distance of 3424.5 km. If you drive your car with an average speed of 112 kilometres/hour (70 miles/h), travel time will be 30 hours 34 minutes. I know because Google says so. That’s assuming you don’t catch a kangaroo on your fender or run down the night roadworks Stop sign guy. If you’ve ever hit a kangaroo, you’d know which one you’d wear better.

At this hour, I don’t feel particularly like being politically correct. Ho hum.

The one thing that is great about working with your sister, is that there’s no P.C. code to observe; nor office hours.

If we’re up for bouncing around ideas at a ridiculous hour, we can. So, we spend a happy forty minutes nattering and nutting out some campaign ideas and off-the-wall marketing strategies.

It’s perfect. I’m just about bouncing off the wall with my in-take of caffeine anyway. Clients don’t know when you come up with your best stuff or that your creative muse was a midnight snack.

It doesn’t matter that the creative process is interspersed with give-aways like the sound of me foraging in the fridge like a mole after a maggot, having told Michelle off for talking with her mouth full.

What are you eating?”

Crackers! Not as in she’s crackers.

As in, she’s driving me crackers because it sounds like someone is driving an ice-breaker through my ear-piece. Michelle is enjoying cheese and crackers, more than I am, hearing her enjoying them. But it has made me hungry, hence, pay-back, in the form of rustling every bit of refrigerated packaging I can find in close proximity to the microphone. Ha! Take that!

By the time we’ve chomped and guzzled our way through the duration of our conversation, we’re pretty excited about our new ideas. Which, naturally, will be presented to each client in rather more style than their inception. Which is just as well …

As I’m about to ring off, I hear the tell-tale toilet flush. I bid good-night to my sedate sibling, “Pull up your knickers and go to bed.”

Too much information?

Ah well, sorry about that.

Don’t worry, we hatched your marketing strategy in a stereo-typical meeting room, over bottles of Perrier. Really.

Fly like a dragon!

Yvonne

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.

WHERE DOES CONFIDENCE COME FROM?

Do you remember when you first started out your career? How exciting it was, and also how scary?

Exciting because you were on the road to independence. No longer a student or dependent on someone else.  In charge of your own destiny!

But, I’m willing to bet that in amongst that excitement and enthusiasm there was also a tiny tinge of apprehension, or maybe even fear. A worry that you might not be able to deliver, might not fit in with everyone else in the firm. Perhaps maybe even a fear of saying the wrong thing.

Totally nerve-wracking! Right?

You’re not alone if you have ever felt any of those things. Heck, I can remember my first jobs in London.

First Job

I worked first for a private hotel chain with interests in the Middle East and then for a private Arab bank in the City. The receptionists and PA’s were always beautifully made up with never a hair out of place. Luxury abounded. Rich wooden furnishing. Plush carpets. The smell of wax polish combined with fresh flowers.

No one was called by their first name – I was Miss Van Buerle. People spoke in hushed and reverent tones. We even had a very fancy doorman to open the door to the building.

I wore high heels, kept my nails manicured at all times, even if it meant reapplying polish very late at night. I got up bright and early to put on my make up and carried a little kit for reapplication during the day. I also had a dry cleaning bill that was not funny!

The high heel shoes pinched my toes. I had to be careful on the London Tube escalators not to get the heels stuck between the grooves. I was never actually comfortable in that workplace. I felt that I was always “on”.

Fast Forward

Fast forward many years later.

Confident_Michelle_Hanton
ThinkLab, Darwin – polar opposite to City of London private banks

As I write this, I’m sitting in a co-shared workspace – The ThinkLab – dressed in a pair of jeans wearing a comfy pair of flats. Sure, I’ve got a slick of lipstick on, but the rest of my face and nails are bare today.

How do I feel?  Very comfortable. Not just in the physical sense, but also in the emotional sense. I feel confident. I am confident in myself and my abilities. I trust myself.

So where does confidence come from?

My first mentor was a most unlikely sort. We met when I started working at one of the oldest private Swiss banks (established in 1796).  She was the office manager, controlling everything that happened in that office, including the two bosses. She’d field calls from girlfriends, chastising over expense accounts being run up during weekends away in Europe, ordering flowers for the wife, and juggling everything else in that office. She was truly talented.

Lorraine was a Londoner. Born in the East End and a plain-speaking Cockney complete with accent. She also spoke fluent French, hence her role in a Swiss bank. She had no air and graces. Her hair often stood out like a bird’s nest, her stockings sometimes had a ladder in them. Her make-up was not immaculate.

Did she care? Not a fig! She was authentic and the absolute soul of discretion.

This woman was highly respected and trusted. From her, I learnt that it was okay to be who you really are and that confidentiality is a rare, but highly valuable commodity.  That being true to yourself is what matters. No matter where you are, or what the circumstance, unless you are in tune with your heart centred self, then you’re always going to struggle to feel comfortable and confident.

Gaining Confidence

Confidence should never be mistaken for bravado. Confidence is when you know your stuff and are comfortable with yourself.

Clothes can only do so much. They are actually meaningless, even though they can give you a quick confidence boost – I’m all in favour of power dressing when appropriate!

A spray of a favourite perfume.  Your best purple knickers.  Lucky earrings. Favourite cufflinks. Wearing your power colour.  All these little things can help you feel more at ease, especially if you’re nervous about an event. But they are simply props for the occasion. They are external.

Confidence comes from within

The fear of being rejected, of being thrust into the spotlight can be crippling – but, if you know your stuff you can overcome the fear.  Not easily, but it can be done. I am the living proof of that!

As I’ve grown older, I’ve become much more adept at going with my gut feelings. I have given up worrying about what other people may be thinking. I know that if I remain true to myself, I’ll deliver great outcomes.

When you take the approach that you want to help solve a problem, rather than simply sell a product, you’ll be surprised how that can turn around your business.  People buy people. They always have. There is a need for trust to be built.

Confidence is one of the key components of business success. It cannot be brash. It has to be authentic.

In my book, authenticity plays a key role in how confident and successful you will be. If you are genuine, you will be confident.

Look around at all the people you come into contact with. Take a moment to think about who you consider confident.

What is their magic ingredient? I’m willing to bet it’s the fact that they are comfortable in their own skin and authentic.

Confident people do not need public confirmation or affirmation of their value.

Confidence is a mantle that is easy to wear. It sits comfortably.

Confident people are frequently very generous people too. The SMART Circle closed group on Facebook has a great bunch of highly confident individuals in there who are 100% supportive and believe in paying it forward by sharing experiences and helping each other out with advice.

It’s by no means an exclusive group, and if you’d like to connect, share and gain support, you are most welcome to join us.

To your success!

Michelle

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.


Thank You …

Thank you. Two little words.

Two very powerful words.

When you contract a service, it’s usually in exchange for a fee. This kind of makes a thank you unnecessary and it is not usually expected. Of course, it is good manners to say a verbal thank you and that’s pretty standard.

But some take it a step further. They make it more personal.

They send a card, (or sometimes a gift). It’s always a double delight and a surprise to receive personal thank you notes.

Think about this…..it’s a rarity these days to receive snail or hand delivered mail. Even on our birthdays we tend to get good wishes via Facebook – not that I’m knocking it. It’s nice to be remembered by friends far and wide, but it’s just not the same as receiving a card in the mail.

I recently received two beautiful notes. Both very different to each other, but each precious and special.

There’s a lovely little frisson of anticipation in slitting open the envelope. Bubbles of anticipation are floating to the surface as the card/note slides out,  rounded off with a little heart skip and a smile while reading the notes.

Thank you notes

Both these clients (who remain unnamed for the sake of confidentiality) are winners, but have been struggling with their businesses recently.

It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with them.  Working in business for yourself can be lonely. It can become quite overwhelming trying to gain crystal clear clarity on how and where your business needs to be adjusted for success. Providing support, teaching the skills needed and then seeing things start to turn around is something that both Yvonne and I love doing.

We’re paid, and we’re also getting a thank you card – how fabulous is that?

It makes the world of difference. It inspires us to take things a step further and always strive to be improving our services; this includes the bonuses and adding to our Resources4Results so we can share more to pay it forward which is my Dragon Discipline #5.

SO here’s my hot tip – saying thank you, either with a personal note or in some other unique way helps your business to stand out from the crowd. Try it.

Michelle

PS Love you to share how you choose to say thank you, feel free to post a comment below. Always great to share ideas.

 




Memory Monday #1

Yesterday saw Michelle diving through our photography archives (fancy word for old hard drives) looking for a photo to use in the blog that was posted on her personal blog. 

There were so many wonderful memories in there, both personal and professional moments, that we’ve decided they need to come out and be shared. After all, it is the past and our experiences that shape the people we’ve become.

Looking into the vaults of our memories serves several purposes:

  • to remind us of the past
  • to inspire us to take action moving forward
  • to relive magic moments and just get that general feel good vibe that stays with us through the day
  • To give us a giggle at some of the hairstyles and clothes!

So, we’re initiating Memory Monday and this is the first entry.

Camino 2013

This particular photo today, is from a magical experience walking the Camino. There’s a whole series of blogs on the trip here.

We hope you’ll enjoy the journey down memory lane with us. If you’ve got comments, we’d love you to post them here – especially if you have been a part of the journey 🙂

Michelle & Yvonne

PS If you’re interested in registering for our next Dragon Sister adventure – just drop us a note and we’ll pop you on our mailing list.