Archive for the ‘self improvement’ Category

12 BUSINESS LESSONS FROM “THE FAMILY” MOVIE

December 30, 2013

free business tips, training in business, Robert De Niro actor, Michelle Pfieffer, The Family movie, best Christmas movies, New Years movieI rarely get to sit still long enough to watch movies.  But, for Christmas, we bought “The Family” DVD from Walmart.  This movie features Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfieffer.  It’s a really, really funny movie about a gangster who is in the witness protection program.  If you haven’t seen this one, I highly recommend that you buy or rent it.

Robert De Niro plays the father and Michelle Pfieffer is his wife.  Well, the father decides to write his memoirs and outlines 10 rules he lives by.  If you following my blog articles, you know I love to cull business lessons out of movies.  I have written two (2) blog articles about lessons we can learn from The Godfather trilogy.   For fun, here are 10 business lessons we can learn from Robert De Niro’s character:

1. I don’t like to cause pain for no good reason because all of my sadistic urges are satisfied when I cause pain for a reason.

In business, there is no need or good reason to cause anybody pain (smile).  For example, there is no need to chase down your competitors’ clients and customers by pointing out negative things about your competition.  I have observed a lot of this ill will and bad behavior in the consulting arena.  Most of the people that behaved that way toward me in response to my entering the arena are now out of business.  Deliberately trying to hurt people in order to get work will rebound against you.

2. Anybody who doesn’t contradict me can expect nothing but good things from me.

This is actually a bad belief to embrace.  The best lessons you can learn will likely be from wise mentors and coaches that contradict what you believe and what you practice.  The good mentors and coaches will push you to think outside the box and to move outside your comfort zone.

3. When I ran the community, there was never a single robbery in the street.  People lived and slept easily.

Casting the mob boss role aside, it is indeed very important to be a part of the community and to try to make your community a better place.  Business owners can attend city council, county commission, and regional development meetings.  We can become active in civic groups like Civic Leagues, Rotary or Kiwanis.  We can also get active in church activities.

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By Clovia Hamilton, President

Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.

Quicksand and Business Failure

July 21, 2013

failure of business, failure in business, overcoming fearOne of my favorite scenes in the movie Replacement Players is where the Quarterback Falco (played by Keanu Reeves) tells the team that his greatest performance fear is “quicksand”.  He says that he feels as though he’s in quicksand when everything is going fine; and then one thing goes wrong; and then another; and then another.  He says that you try to fight back, but the harder you fight, the deeper you sink until you cannot move.

Many entrepreneurs face paralysis.  They may have some active clients and work, but not enough to make ends meet.  They may get work but cannot perform due to lack of competence or the lack of physical manpower.  Falco describes quicksand as a situation where you cannot breathe because you are in over your head.

In the movie Replacement Players, Falco was accused falling apart and choking whenever the game was on the line.  His coach tells the team to face their fears and overcome them as a team.  He tells them they need hear t and they need to play like winners – – because winners always want the ball.

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By Clovia Hamilton, President of Lemongrass Consulting

Training on Sales

May 8, 2013

I am in an Executive MBA program at Wesleyan College.   I am amazed at how many business schools do not teach sales.  Regardless of whether or not we are in business, we all sell.  We sell ideas, knowledge, skills, abilities, products, services, etc.  Yet, I rarely come across business degree programs that include sales training.  There are MBAs and MBA students that cannot sell themselves well enough to get work – – how ironic!

I did a cursory search and found a class in Salesmanship at Devry.  Also, Ball State University has a Center for Professional Selling and offers a major in sales.  The classes and programs are few and far between.

There is also a shortage of free or affordable sales training offered by the SBA Small Business Development Centers and Department of Defense funded Procurement Technical Assistance Centers.  Many of the training and coaching programs offered by business trade organizations do not include sales training.

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Small Business Hoarders and Fear of Lost Control

March 3, 2012

I enjoy the television show Hoarders. I love it when the troubled folks’ homes are transformed for the better. My mom (now deceased) was a hoarder. My brother and I would clean and put things in the alley; and she would go behind us and bring the items back in. It did not matter that some items were full of mildew or had other issues. Our home never looked like the homes featured on the show Hoarders. But, we had stockpiles of stuff stored everywhere. There are a lot of reasons my mom held on to things closely. She grew up poor; suffered a lifetime of losses; and she was a housewife with very few things she could call her own. It was always about not wanting to lose anything; power and control. For my mom, to lose things would be to lose apart of herself.

Hoarders and their struggle to change remind me a lot of struggling business owners. Well, I recently read Deborah Jeanne Sergeant’s article “Fear Means Failure” for the Home Business magazine March/April 2012 issue. She interviewed author Tom Rieger about how fear impacts home businesses. Tom Rieger talked about territorialism and empire building. Tom stated that territorialism is when someone exerts excessive control over budget, information, or employees. He stated that the fear of loss of that control is what drives these business leaders. With respect to empire builders, when they feel their empire is threatened, there is conflict.

Tom Rieger explained that people will do things to prevent the loss by erecting walls or holding onto processes – no matter what. Rieger stated that success requires change and to change you have to give up something. The lost is fearful.

I have had several business coaches and mentors. The best ones have urged me to get pass denial, get at the root of what fears me, and to be about making improvements. Change is tough. I have counseled business owners at the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center. The struggling businesses are led by folks that are in denial and are unwilling to make changes.

Some struggling business owners need to give up entirely. Some need reinvent themselves. Either way requires change.
What gets in the way? Some of the folks featured on the show Hoarders have stated they fear they will lose everything.

Here are some of the traits that hoarders have. If you are a small business owner, these are traits to beware of. Do a self assessment. Do you exhibit any of these traits?

1. Obsessive Compulsive behavior

a. Compulsive shopping

i.      obsessive need to acquire and keep things (in business it can be inventory, supplies, or tech toys)

ii.      keeps collecting

iii.      too attached to objects; believe that the stuff is apart of themselves

b. Hoard busy work

c. Hanging onto stuff – not delegating, not letting go

d. No limits are set

e. Think that all things have unsurpassable value

2. Depressed, Unhappy, Discouraged, Disappointed

a. Feeling let down
b. Letting others down
c. Use anger to control others and to get what you want
d. Have intense sadness

3. Confused
a. Lack direction
b. Lack focus
c. Lack clarity
d. Lack structure
e. Lack stability
f. Indecisive
g. Poor judgment

4. Babied
a. Don’t want to take responsibility
b. Not doing for self; looking to others to take care of them
c. Looking for others to say “clean that up”
d. Surrounded by enablers
e. In perpetual victim role blaming others

5. Overwhelmed
a. Under a lot of pressure, stressed
b. Have a lot of weight on your shoulders
c. Feeling that it is just too much to handle
d. Allowing things to get too out of control
e. Taking on too much
f. Completely disorganized; so cluttered (mentally and/or physically) that even the most basis tasks have become impossible

6. Low self esteem
a. Not caring enough about appearances
b. Not caring enough about hygiene
c. Minimize their own care, standards, and needs

7. Avoidance
a. In denial and do not see anything wrong; thinks everything is fine when it is not
b. Delusional, Desire to escape reality, living in a fantasy
c. Alienates oneself from the world of criticism
i. Lonely
ii. Isolated; little interaction with others
d. Not wanting others to see what is really going on
i. Ashamed
ii. Embarrassed
e. Not wanting to deal with tough issues
f. Showing no emotions, no responses about the bad situation
i. Keeps a tight leash on emotions
ii. Don’t allow themselves to have their emotions; push emotions away
iii. Avoid painful emotions
g. Just go with the flow; don’t get excited about things
h. Just don’t want to think about it
i. Don’t realize you are in a state of crisis; don’t realize how bad things are

8. Stuck, not moving forward
a. Emotional paralysis
b. Lost inside their own head
c. Don’t care anymore
d. No energy

9. Fear of losing memories of the good times

10. Hard and ugly
a. Hard to handle
b. Hard to take
c. Hard to be around, drives people away
d. Abusive, antagonistic
e. Extremely stubborn

Besides the show Hoarders, we see these traits in the business owners featured on shows like Tabatha and Kitchen Impossible.

Hoarders hoard control. Fear keeps them enslaved. They cannot picture someone coming in and telling them what to do. If you are a struggling business owner and you suffer from any of these characteristics, get help. You may not have a home or business establishment that looks like the extreme cases we see on the show Hoarders, but most struggling business owners exhibit some of the characteristics of hoarders. They need a business coach or mentor to help them push pass their fears. They may also need an organizational assessment, direction, clarity, leadership and organizational skills.

Our businesses are our babies. Our babies deserve the best. On the show Hoarders, when children are involved, the hoarder may be threatened with a call to child protective services. In a failing business, there is no such agency to call.

The struggling business owner may need to let go and cut losses by selling or closing the business. They may need to reinvent and make some changes. In business, we have to be able to feel distress and be able to push through distress. There is a lot of rejection in sales. Rejection is painful. You have to be willing to go through the anxiety. Connecting to people is what’s important – not to objects. You have to be able to focus on the big picture.

By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.

Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with nearly 30 years of government work experience and has served as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including organizational assessments, government contracting strategic marketing plans, intellectual property, social media marketing strategic plans, and other services.

Contact Clovia at:
■ Web: http://www.lemongrassplanning.com/
■ Follow us on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/lemongrass-consulting-inc.
■ Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/lemongrassplans

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5 Ways to Exercise and Increase your Energy

August 17, 2011

My latest quest is to lose weight. I lost 30 lbs a few years ago and it returned home with some friends. I am a task oriented creative. So, I read a lot and come up with great ideas for business development. I then write my ideas on Q cards and try to implement my new plans and strategies. What I have learned is that I simply need more energy to get it done. This is especially true since, like most small business owners, I cannot afford to hire a team to delegate it all to.

Exercise is not all bad if you develop the right attitude toward it and view it from a perspective that makes sense to you. For me, everything is pretty cerebral. So, that has to be my approach to getting right about exercising.

A few years ago, a business coach Gretchen Sutherland encouraged me to teach my 10 year old daughter better eating and exercise habits and serve as a role model to her. Of course, at the time, I did not listen. But, we are now pursuing it as a quality of life issue and I am viewing myself as a role model to my daughter. As I get older and really begin to combat the adverse impacts of aging, this is becoming more and more important to me.

Well, here are 5 ways we get our exercise in despite my busy schedule:

1. We walk. We actually walk and swing on a swing set. Swinging has always been one of my favorite things to do. So, we will walk around the parking lot of our local park and our end of walk treat is time on the swings.
2. We bike ride. This has been a bit of a challenge recently. My daughter has a flat tire. Also, I borrowed my son’s bike and took his bike back. Well, he’s now in the military. So, I plan to take my daughter’s bike to Sports Authority for the repair; and I am going to confiscate my son’s bike back (to save money).
3. We attend dancercise and step classes. I am most excited about these classes. I see my daughter getting stronger and coming into her own space. We go to my Health Management Organization (HMO) Kaiser Permanente. The classes are free. You cannot beat free; and they play hip hop music which is fun. My daughter wants to eat junk after the workout. So, I prep apple slices and a little caramel dip for her as a post class treat.
4. We follow aerobic instruction on DVDs. I found a great cardio workout DVD for just ten bucks at Walmart. My business coach told me that my sit ups, leg lifts and stretches were fine for toning. But, I did not break a sweat. I had to rev it up in order to burn calories. The DVD is not as excited as being around other motivated folks in live dance class.
5. I love to dance. I recently joined a local ladies club for divas in my community. We get together for activities like plays, movies, horse back riding, and dancing. I decided to really get out there and create a work-life balance – and just “plain ole have” fun! Although many of the activities are not really exercise. I think the mental downtime from work is important. Most importantly, networking and getting outside of your own head is priceless.

The key for me is to mix it all up so that I do not get bored.

How do you get your work out in?
By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.
Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with nearly 30 years of government work experience and serves as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including government contracting strategic marketing plans, intellectual property, social media marketing strategic plans, and other services. Contact Clovia at:
■ Web: http://www.lemongrassplanning.com/
■ Blog: https://cloviahamilton.wordpress.com/
■ LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/cloviahamilton
■ Twitter: http://twitter.com/lemongrassplans
■ Email: chamilton@lemongrassplanning.com

5 Ways to have more Self-Discipline

July 7, 2011

Sky is the Limit with Self DisciplineDuring the July 4th weekend, I traveled to Lackland Texas to see my son graduate from the Air Force Basic Military Training. I was proud of him. He stood tall and was squeaky clean. He marched in a graduation parade and carried a flag. While in training, he wrote me and stated that his decision to enlist after two years of college was good for him because he no longer procrastinates. He was not allowed to. The drill instructors seemed to put the fear of God in my son. During the graduation, the leadership spoke about the fact that the purpose of basic military training is to discipline the trainees in how conduct themselves and behave.

On the way home from Lackland, I took a few photos of the sky from the airplane. I thought about how peaceful it was up there. I thought about how, with discipline, the sky is truly the limit.

During the trip, I finally read Nell Merlino’s book Stepping out of Line. She is one of my favorite advocates for the growth and development of women business owners. Well, interestingly, Nell wrote “making change requires commitment, focus and discipline”. So, I began to think more about what business owners could do to increase their self discipline. We should not have to rely on a drill instructor. We should be able to achieve our goals and as Nell puts it – save ourselves.

Webster’s dictionary defines self-discipline as the ability to “regulate yourself” to achieve improvement.

Here are five (5) ways to improve your self discipline:

1. Pray for it

I am no holy roller. But, I do find that what I pray to a Higher Spirit for, I usually get. When I am not consistent with prayer or do not pray for discipline, I usually lose consistency in my exercise, marketing, and sales routines. These are three areas I strive to improve.

2. Focus on the end results

I believe that self discipline requires a great deal of motivation. You have to be a motivated person. I use a vision board. I tack up visual depictions of what I want to achieve. I keep my vision board close to my bed and I look at it daily.

It helps to visualize yourself as a highly motivated self disciplined person who gets things done. It also helps to visualize the cash flowing into your bank account if you deal with sales and marketing and close deals and increase your cash flow. In fact, I need more visual aids of women making sales calls, getting sales copy written and emailed out, and marketing their businesses. For exercise, I have a visual aid of a woman who lost more than 100 pounds; a woman walking; a woman jogging; and a 60 year old woman who looks half my age.

3. Focus on Self Control in your Decision Making

As I raised my son, I often told him to exercise self control. I have been a bit of a drill sergeant. I would explain to him the importance of deciding to behave one way rather than another.

I believe that if business owners want to see real results in their sales, perhaps they need to improve their self control. I meet frustrated business owners that are in awful physical shape. They lack energy. I meet business owners that are looking for folks to save them and give them work. They get angry when the folks they approach do not help them. But, they are not working on their own sales and marketing.

You can lose self control if you get depressed and unmotivated. So, it is very important to be careful about who you spend time with. Do not spend time around unsupportive, judgmental people.

4. Exercise

Think about it, the military trainees ran, ran, ran. My son told me they ran all the time. In the article entitled “Why Do You Have More Energy After Running”, Chris Barber wrote that “[a]lcohol is a depressant and should make you tired, but it also releases endorphins, giving you the feeling of more energy.” Barber writes that a runner’s high results from the release of endorphins in the brain.

5. Eat anti depressant foods

The military trainees at Lackland also ate a strict diet. We are what we eat. If we want to feel motivated and energetic, then we need to eat anti depressant foods.

According to Amanda Schupak and Matthew Herper Forbes article entitled “Antidepressant Foods”, eat foods high in both Omega-3s and uridine. Omega-3s clear the buildup of dietary fats and cholestrols in our cell membranes, allowing those chemicals to get where they’re going easier. Further, the mitochondria are organs within cells that produce energy. Uridine fuels mitochondria, and paired with the lubricating effect of the Omega-3s, helps the mitochondria make more energy more efficiently. Food containing uridine include sugar cane extract, tomatoes, broccoli and liver. A dietary source for Omega-3s is fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines).

By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.
Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 years of government work experience and serves as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including government contracting strategic marketing plans, intellectual property, and social media marketing strategic plans.

Connect with Clovia :
■ Phone: direct – 678.235.5901
■ Web: http://www.lemongrassplanning.com/
■ Blog: https://cloviahamilton.wordpress.com/
■ LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/cloviahamilton
■ Twitter: http://twitter.com/lemongrassplans
■ Email: chamilton@lemongrassplanning.com