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CLEAR YOUR MIND

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I’ve just returned from leading my first overseas retreat in beautiful Barcelona. It was a delightful adventure and I will definitely do overseas retreats again. There’s nothing like a complete change of scenery to help you lift your head up and look at your business and your life more clearly.

The purpose of the retreat was two-fold: 1) to get the attendees out of their regular environments and routines to allow them to clear their minds and give them an opportunity to really look at their world with fresh eyes, and 2) to introduce them to the joys of Barcelona.

The group that attended was comprised of businesswomen with varied backgrounds and levels of experience. Some were solopreneurs, some were parts of larger teams. All were exploring options in an effort to make changes and to move ahead.

Barcelona is a beautiful, vibrant city that combines art and business in a most elegant fashion. Centuries old buildings sitting adjacent to wonkily stacked modern apartments challenges our normal architectural expectations. Being in an urban environment with small food markets and cafes on practically every corner provides a different neighborhood experience for many of us. The sights, smells and sounds were unfamiliar and forced our brains to fire on different cylinders.

I took advantage of this during my three business workshops. I asked people to look carefully at their mindsets, the people they spent the most time with, their teams, and at what was really most important to them. I also asked them to identify a few specific action items to take back and accountability partners to ensure they took the actions they said they were going to take. Because they were in an unfamiliar place, their minds were already open and ready to consider new thoughts and possibilities. The result was deeper introspection, more laser focus on what was really important to them, a lot of ‘ahas’ and a lot of openness to making changes when they returned to the States.

What do you do to step back and take an unbiased look at your business and your life? How to do clear your mind to strategically consider what your next steps will be? While you do not need to travel all the way to Barcelona, where will you go to have a retreat to focus on your business for 2018, even if it’s only with yourself?

Normally, the fourth quarter is when you should make time to think about the coming year and lay out your plan for success. In order be most effective, I would highly recommend that you get out of your normal environment, clear your mind and carve out time specifically for dreaming and planning. Then, laser in on what’s really important to you and build a plan to start moving in that direction.

Cass Mullane is an artist with an MBA. Cass Mullane’s calm, comfortable approach consistently yields positive results for clients. Her business and personal coaching practice, www.ProsperCreatively.com, specializes in delivering solid left brain business skills to right brainers and creatives in a fun, visual way. She’s a best selling author, a contemporary abstract artist and creator of the Cool Stuff Jar™ Retreats.You can also visit Cass on Facebook!

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Guest post by by Lisa Dolce, Right-Brain Business Plan® Licensed Facilitator,

Can you imagine what your business and life would be like if you spent most of your day doing things you are naturally good at and totally enjoy?

Pretty sweet, right?

And for us heart-centered folks using our gifts is what gives our work the most meaning.  Yet many of us spend loads of time, money, and brain energy on seminars, podcasts, webinars and other ways to “fix” our weaknesses.

What would happen if we used that time and money to develop our gifts and talents instead?

Turns out a pathway to success:

  • Studies show that the #1 success factor for business leaders is knowing your strengths and focusing on the strengths in others.
  • People who focus on their strengths are 3x more likely to be engaged in their jobs, and are 6x more productive in those jobs.
  • From a neuroscience standpoint, working in your zone of genius engages the area of the brain that creates ease, flow, creativity and joy. (By contrast, focusing on your weaknesses can easily put you in fight or flight mode!)

So how can YOU maximize your strengths in business?

First thing’s first: You need to clearly articulate what your gifts and talents are.

Here are a few questions to get your wheels turning:

  • What do people come to you for?
  • What did you like to do as a child?
  • What is your soul calling you to do?

You can also brainstorm your gifts and talents by making a list of activities where you:

  • Felt energized, in the flow, and excited to do it again
  • Did something no one taught you to do
  • Did something that you couldn’t believe you got paid for doing!

For a deeper dive, I recommend checking out a formal assessment like the Clifton StrengthsFinder.

Once you have a list of your strengths, notice how you use them in your day to day work. Watch how easily your tasks seem to flow—and how much happier and more productive you feel.

The next step is to think about how you can use your strengths more intentionally. Think about how can you apply them in other areas of your business to make your work even easier?

And a word about those pesky weaknesses…manage around them. Start by delegating tasks that drain your energy and you will watch your productivity soar.

For years I dreaded doing my bookkeeping. I would procrastinate to the point where I would have to spend days organizing papers to meet IRS deadlines. Finally, I hired someone whose strength was working with numbers, and it changed everything. Best of all, it wasn’t as costly as I thought it might be, and it left me free to work in my zone of genius, which brought in enough income to pay for the service several times over.

Each of us has been blessed with gifts that are uniquely ours. Within these gifts lies our greatest power and potential to make an impact—not only in our business but in the lives of those we serve.

When you tap into gifts and strengths, you can transform not only your life but the lives of those around you.

Just imagine: how beautiful could the world be if all of us were operating from our best selves?

Lisa Dolce is a Strengths Coach, Business Mentor and Licensed Facilitator of the Right Brain Business Plan ®. She is the founder of The Launch Studio and loves to help sensitive entrepreneurs start and grow soul centered-businesses that make a deep and lasting impact in this world.

A Fresh Set of Eyes

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I’ve had the pleasure of working with several clients who develop and present online training. My job has been to take a look at their programs with a fresh set of eyes either before they launch, or afterwards, and present my assessment and suggestions. I truly enjoy this work as it is stimulating both in content and in intellectual challenge.

One thing I found to be consistent across these clients is the question of whether or not they were targeting the right people with the right program. Sometimes the audience was perfect, but the content missed the mark. Other times the content was solid, but they were marketing to the wrong audience.

One of my clients specialized in transitioning senior executives from the corporate world into their own consulting practices. He had developed a webinar series on where to find clients and how to build a successful business infrastructure. His marketing was directed at senior executives who were looking for a change and he had a number of people register for his training.

Yet the clients were not satisfied with the training. Why? Because, these were people who were currently employed and who did not know what to do in advance of their transition. For example, most of them were used to having support teams (like admin, IT, accounting) always available to them. When they left their positions, suddenly they had to go out and find that support fast or spend their valuable time doing it themselves. Neither was an optimal solution.

What my client did was develop an additional webinar series that suggested things to do, like lining up admin, IT and accounting contractors, before his clients left their organizations for the world of entrepreneurship. Once he made ‘what to do before you leave’ part of his training, his client satisfaction, and client retention, went up. He had the right audience and his content was right for the audience.

In addition, my client changed up his marketing to specifically target executives who had already left the corporate world, but who were experiencing difficulties running their businesses because they were not fully prepared to be the boss. He used language that hit the pain points of leaving a fully structured and staffed organization for the wild world of lean and nimble entrepreneurship. He tweaked his existing content a little and repurposed it for a different audience. Again, his client satisfaction went up as did his retention. He had hit that marketing sweet spot of delivering the right content to the right audience.

Who is your perfect audience? Have you spent the time to clearly identify who they are, what their pain points are and what you can do to help eliminate their pain?

Also, given your current client base (or the audience you’d like to develop), what is it that they actually need in terms of content? Is what you’re currently delivering (or developing), meeting that mark or are you a little off base?

This is the time when you ask for help, a fresh set of eyes. When you’ve developed your own content, often you’re too close to it to have an impartial view of its effectiveness. Find someone who is seriously competent in your field, who has strong business sense and who will tell you the truth. Then listen to what they say and decide whether or not you will make the suggested tweaks or revamps.

When you take the time to carefully and thoughtfully identify your ideal audience for your content and the ideal content for you audience, you will improve your odds of success.

Cass Mullane’s calm, comfortable approach consistently yields positive results for clients. Her business and personal coaching practice, www.ProsperCreatively.com, specializes in delivering solid left brain business skills to right brainers and creatives in a fun, visual way. She’s a best selling author, a contemporary abstract artist and creator of the Cool Stuff Jar™ Retreats.You can also visit Cass on Facebook!

TIME OWNERSHIP – Part 2

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Guest post by Cass Mullane, The Artist with an MBA, Right-Brain Business Plan® Licensed Facilitator, Prosper Creatively, LLC

Here’s a stat you need to be aware of: People who have multiple windows open on their laptops, switch between their windows an average of 37 times per hour. That’s an interruption just about every minute and a half!

Add in the constant notifications from your various devices and it’s no wonder you cannot keep focused on your tasks at hand. I say it’s high time to make a mindset change and take back ownership of your time.

Day to Day Ops

I’d really like you to lift your head up from your screens and push back from your desk. Take a long, deep breath, slowly blink and refocus your eyes. Then, look around your world. If you’re spending your day working on the minutia of running your business, you’re not the boss. You’re letting the business run you.

If you’re the boss, you should be focusing on the big picture, not the day to day operations. Are you the only one who can type? Are you the only one who can post on social media? Are you the only one who can enter a transaction? Are you the only one who can make an appointment? No.

If you’re the boss, are you the one who shapes the vision for your business? Are you the one who establishes your core values as they apply to your business? Are you the final decision maker? Yes.

Then why you would simply give away so much of your unique talent and valuable time on tasks that others can do?

To further refine your time ownership, there is a fundamental mindset shift that you need to make. You need to know what it is that only you can do. This means that you need to look closely at all the tasks that you encounter in a day, a week, a month, a quarter and truly discern what it is that only you can do.

For example, I am the only person who can make my art. I am the only person who can do my podcast. I am the only person who can deliver my keynotes. I am the only one responsible for leadership of my tribe. I am the only one in charge of designing content in my workshops and webinars. I am the only one who can coach my clients directly. I am the only one in charge of my own thoughts and actions. I am the only one who sets the bar for expectations and standards. I am the only one who can set priorities and the direction for my company.

This means that I should spend the majority of my time doing only these things.

What is it that only you can do in your business? Go ahead and make a list.

Look at that list carefully. Have you included items like bookkeeping or managing your own website? If you have, and you’re not in the bookkeeping or site management business, then look inside. Is there a fear or trust issue that you may need to deal with? Do you really believe that no one could do it better than you… not even a professional? Please rethink that assumption and take those things you can hire contractors to do off your list and put them on a list of things to outsource.

If you’re hung up on not having the money to pay someone, you might need to revise your mindset. Henry Ford said “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” If you think you can’t pay someone, you’re right. If you tell yourself that you can’t do it, then it’s pretty certain that you won’t do it. Feels defeating.

Instead, try shifting what you tell yourself to, “I’m going to figure out how to do this.” Feels energizing, doesn’t it? That simple reframe can set you on a path of growth. All you have to do is feed it to your brain and act on it.

Now, go back to that list of things and refine it some more. When you’re satisfied that you’ve reduced it to things only you can do, make a list of the things that you actually spend time doing on your business. Are they the same or is there room for improvement?

Own your time.

Cass Mullane’s calm, comfortable approach consistently yields positive results for clients. Her business and personal coaching practice, www.ProsperCreatively.com, specializes in delivering solid left brain business skills to right brainers and creatives in a fun, visual way. She’s a best selling author, a contemporary abstract artist and creator of the Cool Stuff Jar™ Retreats.You can also visit Cass on Facebook!

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Guest post by by Lisa Dolce, Right-Brain Business Plan® Licensed Facilitator,

In a conference room at the 33rd Gathering of Highly Sensitive People in Montecito, California, sitting in a circle with 30 other people, I listened to the facilitator talk and fought my urge to pee.

I can’t, I thought. I don’t want to be rude or disrespectful to the facilitator.

Then, How can I sneak out without interrupting the whole group? I’m all the way on the opposite side of the room. And worse, those big heavy doors are SO loud when they open!”

Amid my panic, I heard the facilitator say, “You are to focus on your needs and not approval this week.”

Wait, what?

I don’t think I heard anything else she said after that.

While I was obsessing about all the reasons I couldn’t possibly get up to pee, I was expending a whole lot of energy worrying about what everyone else would think if I walked out—instead of just taking care of me.

Many of us, not only highly sensitive people like me, tend to put ourselves on the bottom of the list. Usually, it’s because we’re afraid we might disappoint someone or give others a reason to criticize us.

For HSPs in particular, feelings like embarrassment or guilt can overwhelm our sensitive nervous system. We tend to avoid doing anything that triggers these feelings, choosing to feel safe in the moment instead.

But just as was true for my screaming bladder, holding back isn’t good for our health. Long term, it robs us of our precious time, energy, and connection to our spirit. It ultimately holds us back from doing the important things that we are put on this earth to do.

So how can you start letting go of this need for approval?

You start by practicing, one small step at a time.

For me, that meant standing up to go to the bathroom. I used that moment to challenge myself, to experiment with focusing on what I needed instead of others approval.

So I got up, making lots of noise moving my chair. Making my way through the tight circle of people to the dreaded big heavy door, which made a huge groaning noise as I opened it.

I continued to challenge myself all week. I even upped my game from just a bathroom run to “cutting out” of a few sessions and getting some much-needed rest. I also said no to catching up with someone over lunch and decided to walk the beautiful nature trails instead.

And guess what? The world didn’t collapse, no one thought less of me and it felt so great to focus on me and what I needed. I left the conference energized instead of exhausted.

When I think about that week, the other great moment came when I left the bathroom that first day and came out to a line of people shouting “thank you, thank you for giving us all permission to go to the bathroom!”

One woman said, “Oh thank goodness you got up, I had to go too but was too embarrassed!” I not only empowered myself but empowered others to focus on their needs as well!!

These days, the experiment continues for me. The things I ask for now are much higher stakes, and they help me move forward in my personal and professional life.

So don’t wait until you’re doubled over in a crowded conference room. Give yourself permission to ask and get what you need. The more you do this, the stronger and more confident you will become—and you’ll inspire others along the way.

What small need can YOU get met today?

 Lisa Dolce is a Business Coach and Mentor and Licensed Facilitator of the Right Brain Business Plan ®. She is the founder of The Launch Studio and loves to help sensitive entrepreneurs start and grow soul centered-businesses that make a deep and lasting impact in this world.

TIME OWNERSHIP – Part 1

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Guest post by by Cass Mullane, Entrepreneur Coach, Right-Brain Business Plan® Licensed Facilitator, Prosper Creatively, LLC

I believe time management is a misnomer… it just isn’t strong enough. “Management” implies that you’re in a reactive mode, responding to things that are controlled by others then passed on to you. “Ownership” puts you squarely in charge. You decide what the priorities are and you schedule them. You decide what is not a priority and comes off your plate. As Stephen Covey says, “You do not prioritize your schedule, you schedule your priorities.” Do you see the difference?

Let’s take a look at something that most of you do at least a couple times each year, attend business conferences. You attend conferences to hone your skills, meet new people and keep sharp for your businesses. But how many of you go with a plan or at least an intention for what you will learn or what information you will come home with? This is an integral part of time ownership. If you can put it into practice at a conference, you can make it part of your normal routine when you are back home.

Before You Go
Why are you attending the conference in the first place? Are you going to network? Are you looking for clients or customers? Receiving skills training? Finding speaking gigs? Looking for new suppliers? Just taking a break from your regular routine? Whatever the reason, knowing your outcomes before you go the conference can help you spend your time wisely and set you up for success.

While You’re There
When you receive the conference materials, check the schedule, the breakout sessions, the vendors, the after-session activities and decide what you want your priorities are. Then make your plan for each day. Of course, flexibility is essential in case things change. For example, you may experience a major perspective shift that may end up up-leveling your thinking which will shift your priorities. You’ve got to be able to roll with the changes while you are there.

While you are there you’ll likely socialize with others. Remember to plan in down time so you can recharge. You may tend to overextend yourself at conferences because there are lots of activities and you do not want to feel like you’ve missed out. Carefully managing your time is essential so you can accomplish what you intended and so you don’t end up exhausted when you return to work.

Finally, remember to hydrate and to SLEEP! Making your physical well-being a priority is part of time ownership.

After The Conference
One of the most effective things you can do after a conference is to hook up with an accountability partner from the conference. It’s particularly fun if you’ve met someone new and you’ll now have a new friend somewhere else in the country (or the world). If it’s someone local, that’s fine too. You can meet with each other face to face and push each other to accomplish what you set out to accomplish at the end of the conference. This is particularly valuable if you’ve experienced a shift in perspective as this requires changes to what was your normal course of business before the conference.

While it’s fresh, take a moment to review your notes and handouts and highlight the useful parts. Pull out key actions and get them on your calendar. Add the juicy bits of information to your appropriate projects and put the inspiring quotes where you can see them or in your journal. Then, put your conference notes somewhere where you can refer to them later.

Follow up with the people you met once you get home, or even before you leave the conference. Send them an email or text, mention something meaningful about your conversation so they remember you and do whatever you said you would do. If you were going to send them something send it. If you were going to schedule a follow up call, schedule it. The simple act of following up will set you light years ahead of most of the other people at the conference with whom they exchanged business cards.

Finally, apply your new knowledge immediately. Work on the things only you can do and let your staff and contractors take care of the other priorities.

Own your time.

Cass Mullane’s calm, comfortable approach consistently yields positive results for clients. Her business and personal coaching practice, www.ProsperCreatively.com, specializes in delivering solid left brain business skills to right brainers and creatives in a fun, visual way. She’s a best selling author, a contemporary abstract artist and creator of the Cool Stuff Jar™ Retreats.You can also visit Cass on Facebook!

When I found out that a law firm bought the building my studio was in and I had 30 days to move out, I was devastated. My studio had been my safe haven for the past two and a half years – especially during this recent period of transition and loss.

I’m sure you’ve experienced curve balls like that in your life and business. While they can be disappointing and disorienting at first, if you let them, they can also be opportunities to see things in a new light. As Project Runway’s Tim Gunn says, “Make it work!”

Maybe you had to take a temporary job to pay the bills. Or maybe your biggest supplier stopped selling the materials you need for your best-selling product. Or perhaps you’re being forced to use a new system because your current one use is no longer compatible with your other essential tools.

Rather than fixate on the frustrating aspects, find ways to move on and make it work for you. Here are the steps I’ve been taking to move through this latest transition:

Bring closure. I knew it was important for me to acknowledge the loss of my studio before I could move on. Before I turned in my keys, I spent my last afternoon there journaling, meditating, and leading myself through a gratitude ritual as I touched each wall, thanking them for holding sacred space and recounting the marvelous transformation that happened for me and my clients in every nook and cranny. During my reflection I realized that the biggest gift this studio gave me was a strengthened creative practice (which I can take with me anywhere).

Make it work. Get innovative as you work within your new limitations. What are alternative solutions? Think out of the box as you brainstorm. Perhaps the new options aren’t ideal, but if you make sure your basic needs met you’ll be just fine. My absolute must-have was a large empty wall somewhere where I could paint big – and thankfully there is one in my garage.

Find the silver linings. At first I was so bummed by the lack of good lighting in my make-shift studio not to mention that I’m surrounded by unattractive boxes and random, extraneous stuff. However, the more I started to look for the positive, I realized how convenient it is not having a commute (even if it was only 5 min before!), and how awesome it is to pop into the garage even for just a few minutes of painting. Also, because the surroundings aren’t as beautiful, I have full permission to get super messy. It’s okay if I get paint on the walls or the floor (whereas I worried about that at my rented space). Now I feel even more liberated! What positive surprises can you identify in your new situation? Identify at least 3 things that you can be grateful for.

Open up to new possibilities. For the near future, I’m going to keep things simple and just stay put for now. But I’m also letting myself dream about what it would be like to have an art shed or maybe even add a studio on to our house at some point. When you have to make a change, suddenly so many other options are possible! What can you open yourself up to?

Is there something in your life or business that you’re being forced to change? How can you make it work? I’d love to hear!

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The Right-Brain Business Plan®