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Archive for the ‘Mentoring’ Category

Is Procrastination Holding You Back?

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Procrastination. We all know what it is: putting obstacles in our own way by handling those low-priority tasks instead of taking action on the high-priority tasks. The Latin roots of the word mean “in favor of” and “tomorrow.”

Dr. Piers Steel, a researcher on the science of motivation and procrastination and the author of The Procrastination Equation, says that procrastination is pervasive, with at least 95% of us procrastinating on a occasional basis. Count me in that group, as I found several ways to extend writing this article.

And we pay a price for procrastination. We miss out on opportunities, we cause ourselves unnecessary suffering, and procrastination also has an economic price. Steel says that procrastination falls into three different categories:

1. Expectancy, i.e., we expect to fail;
2. Value, i.e., we don’t value our work;
3. Time, i.e, we let momentary impulses rule us.

So how do we get beyond procrastination? Here are five tips:

1. Eliminating procrastination is tied to goals. Be sure you have set, clear goals and that you know why you want to accomplish them. You have to know why – your “Big Why.” What value do you attribute to completing these goals? It can also help you to break your big goal into smaller doable goals. And, if you need an extra push, consider finding an accountability partner to work as an external deadline for yourself. I’ve found this to be effective for completing the small doable tasks with my goals.

2. Learn how to prioritize. When you look at your list of activities for the day, which are most important? And, of the most important, are any urgent? One source to consider here is Stephen Covey’s matrix for prioritizing work. He classifies your tasks as urgent and non-urgent and then as important or not important. The problem with procrastination is that we neglect the important but not urgent until they become the fires we need to put out, i.e., important and urgent. We do this by focusing too much time in the not important quadrants.

3. Reward yourself. You can create a system whereby you earn points for each task that is accomplished as you set out, or you can pick a reward for completing the task. This should help focus you on the goal.

4. If low expectancy is one of your problems, try replacing your language. Expect that you will achieve your goals. That in turn will lead to self-confidence and optimism.

5. If impulsivity is your problem, try a technique Dr. Steel calls the “unschedule.”  He asks you to schedule play time into your calendar, being sure the amount of time is reasonable. He also suggests that “you should schedule an activity that represents the temptation you indulge in when you procrastinate.” For example, if you find that when you procrastinate, you surf the Internet, update your Facebook status or watch television, schedule time for that. Steel found that people that he worked with who “unscheduled” were better able to work on the task at hand.

6. Look for reminders that procrastination is a problem. I found the following quote from Victor Kiam – you may remember him as the man who “liked the shaver so much, he bought the company” – that I read periodically to remind myself that I might miss out on something good. Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin. 

Please share your ideas on dealing with procrastination below.

Are You Using Testimonials to Build Your Business?

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Testimonials are a terrific way to help market your quilt or creative arts business. It’s word-of-mouth advertising, only you get to decide who hears it and what is heard. While you may get unsolicited testimonials, it’s a good idea for you to actually ask for a response. In some cases you might want to offer a thank you gift for the comment. Here are some ideas to try:

1. For the fiber artist or longarm quilter who has finished a commission, include a self-addressed stamped reply postcard with the work. Ask for comments that will help you in the future. You might try: Was the communication between quilter and customer adequate? Was the project completed in an appropriate time frame? Encourage the buyer to send you a photo of the quilt in use and ask for any other comments. If you want to thank the person giving you the testimonial, perhaps a small discount on a future order is possible.

2. For the teacher, include an additional comments line on your evaluation form. You’ll not only get ideas to improve your classes, but you’ll also get wonderful and heartfelt comments to use as testimonials.

3. Any book author can tell you how valuable the testimonial blurbs are on the back cover of their book. You will need to ask someone if he or she would be willing to write a blurb and then provide a galley copy of your book for reading. A published book might be a nice thank you for the testimonial.

4. If you sell a product to the general public, you can include a comment card in your packaging. You can request that someone leave a comment on your website or return the comment card via regular mail. Another idea would be to encourage feedback from the user. All products include some written material. You can add a couple sentences about how excited you’ll be to hear back from the user about their experiences with the product. You’ll be surprised at the response you’ll get. I think this would be quite effective for pattern designers.

5. For shop owners it’s easy to get testimonials either with a return card with a purchase or a comment card box somewhere in the store.

After you start receiving these comments, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back. You are delivering a great product and building an ongoing relationship with your customers.

What do you do with the testimonials as you get them? Be sure to include them in all your advertising. Here are some specific ideas:

1. Create a page for testimonials on your website. We have one we call Success Stories. You could also intersperse them throughout your site.

2. Include testimonials in your catalog. For example, a pattern designer might include a testimonial about how easy to follow her instructions are.

3. Include testimonials in your tri-fold brochure if you are are teacher or do commission work. It lets potential customers know the value of your work.

4. Include testimonials in any of your print ads. Study ads in magazines to see how testimonials are used.

5. Include testimonials on your product packaging, if space permits. It might be limited to just a few lines, but it could make a difference in someone buying the product.

Lastly, remember you don’t have to use the whole testimonial. You can use an excerpt, just be sure to keep it in context.

How do you gather and use testimonials in your business? Please leave a reply and share your experiences.

Six Reason to Hire a Coach or Mentor

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Last week I signed up to work with a new mentor, Fabienne Frederickson, when I joined her Platinum Coaching Program. Fabienne is known as the “Client Attraction Mentor on Marketing & Mindset.”

I’m a big believer in seeking help from mentors for business and personal growth, and I can’t wait to see where I go in the next year. Here are five good reasons to work with a coach or mentor.

1. A coach helps you think and play bigger. Because a coach isn’t involved in the nitty-gritty aspects of your business, she doesn’t get bogged down in your day-to-day details. She can see the big – and bigger – picture. This is particularly enhanced with a mastermind group. I’ve been amazed at how large my coaches and mastermind partners want me to play. Yes, it can be scary, but once you start thinking big, it’s impossible to go back.

2. A coach can keep you accountable. Your coach can help you keep on track by having you report weekly on your accomplishments. She’s able to help you make a commitment and stick to it. One of my coaching clients remarked that she’s accomplished more in the first two weeks than she did in six months and attributes it to having to be accountable to me on a weekly basis.

3. A coach can be another source of creative ideas and feedback. During one of our monthly calls recently, someone asked for a suggestion about how to do a video of her machine quilting studio. It was easy for me to think about how to approach this, and she loved the idea I came up with. It’s always easier to look at someone else’s business, and a different perspective can make the difference.

4. A coach can help you create your vision and, more specifically, a road map to get there. We all have dreams. Accomplishing them is something else. A coach can help you get clear about what’s important to you and set a plan for achievement.

5. A coach can help you build on your strengths, learn how to attack obstacles, and look for opportunities to grow your business. Yes, we all have roadblocks to growth, business or personal. A coach can help you identify what is hindering your progress and help you focus your thinking process toward growth.

6. A coach is also your personal cheerleader, ready to encourage and motivate you toward your goals.

In the end what a coach does is challenge you to be your best. And, if you put your best self out there, you’ll grow, both personally and professionally, and you’ll help more people.

I love this quote from Marianne Williamson about playing big, letting our lights shine. Perhaps you can relate:

I love this quote from Marianne Williamson about playing big, letting our lights shine. Perhaps you can relate:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light,
not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about
shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant
to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously
give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

Please share your thoughts on our blog and if you are interested in exploring our coaching program, here’s a link.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business.  Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

Looking for Talent and Spirit? Hire an Intern!

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010
Imagine a highly trained, motivated and energetic intern helping out over the summer or during your busy fall or winter season. Coming right out of the classroom, interns possess up-to-date technical knowledge and can assist with anything from the most basic tasks to the more complex, freeing time for you or your staff to take care of other details.

As a member of the IAPQ, you can participate in an academically acclaimed internship program where students receive hands-on experience in the textile field. It’s your newest benefit as a member of the International Association of Professional Quilters. The program, Pathways into Professional Needlearts (PiPN), was created in 2006 as a partnership between The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) and the University of Akron (Ohio) School of Consumer and Family Sciences. Since its inception the program has placed more than 60 interns/apprentices with TNNA members and reached students from dozens of colleges across the country.

The benefits of hosting an intern go far beyond the extra help he or she brings. Based on comments from TNNA PiPN hosts and echoed by educators, career counselors and other academic experts, PiPN provides a company with much more than a free hand. Students bring fresh talent and spirit, new perspectives and insights, shedding light on what the future holds. Usually representing the next generation (although non-traditional students participate), these young people are current/future customers and tomorrow’s professionals.

Internships have long been valued as a means for students to acquire real world experience and develop important professional relationships. Interns learn new skills, gain industry-specific knowledge and develop a better understanding of how business operates. In addition to enabling them to “test drive” a career, an internship can be a direct road to future employment. Usually unpaid, internships and apprenticeships are even more important within the current economy.

Of course, hosting a student also carries some responsibilities. As non-professionals, they require oversight and direction. By mentoring others, however, we often learn more about ourselves and our businesses. At the same time, when the internship ends, you have a personally trained individual who could, if appropriate, become an employee. Research has indicated a higher rate of employee retention within companies that hire past interns simply because everyone already knows and understands the job at hand.

PiPN recruits students from colleges offering programs in the arts, fibers, textiles, crafts, sewing, quilting, fashion and merchandising, as well as business, marketing and design. They review all applications and work with the college internship coordinators and students so they have a more complete knowledge of each of the applicants.

PiPN also focuses on placements within small companies, a group not commonly able to draw interns. These types of businesses offer students greater opportunities to be totally involved, enabling them to learn and participate to the fullest.

PiPN only accepts Host Companies that are members in a professional organization, including IAPQ. This gives PiPN more direct knowledge of its hosts to better enable it to make appropriate placements.

As a host company you are allowed to define your own requirements and responsibilities, offer pay or not and review applicants’ information before accepting them. Currently PiPN is looking for host companies. If you are interested in applying, here’s a link for more information.  You can also read the experiences of interns on the PiPN blog here.

If you apply or have experience with interns, please let me know and share on the blog.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

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