How to Leverage Your College Athletic Experience with Potential Employers: Part II

Golden Ties Advisor and Cal Alum, Drew Sanders continues to lay out three more keys to talking about your student-athlete experience in your next job interview.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

The five keys you need to land the killer job right out of school are: the Entrance Key, the Prioritization Key, the Performance Key, the Get-A-Long Key, and the Game Sense Key. I already covered the Entrance and Prioritization Keys in the first installment of my series, which you can read here. Here are the ways to acquire the additional keys you need to move forward and land the job you really want. 

The Performance Key 

The door of performance requires you to show that you can perform under pressure. The customer is always right and the process of meeting their needs can lead to heated moments. Bosses demand performance because it is often their job on the line when things go poorly. 

The student-athlete should be able to share how the pressure to make the team and to then earn playing time has given them the much-needed training of being ready to perform. Being solid in the clutch sounds great, but companies are also looking for consistency of performance. 

If you made the team and have a letter of recommendation from your coach that speaks to your character in practice and as a teammate that can be just the type of performance an employer is looking for. 

The Get-A-Long Key 

The door of comportment stands before you asking, how easy are you to deal with when the game is on the line? Do we want to see you day after day, on the plane ride home and at the holiday party? 

Leaders set the culture and few things will get you fired faster than by being a culture killer on a team. You will want examples of how you participated on a team as a follower and a leader.  

Road trips and long practices are your examples that will make you stand out in this area. You have viable proof that you learned how to get along during difficult times as an athlete. Even if your team went undefeated there was still tension to make the team and earn your varsity letter. Look for a few examples and be prepared to share how you have honed this trait. 

It is important that you can lead yourself, but you also need to be able to follow at the right moments. Unlocking the door of comportment is based upon you showing that you have a sense of what is going on around you. 

The Game Sense Key

The game sense door isn’t always in front of new hires. Many companies aren’t looking for you to understand how they make money just yet. Can you do the job? Will you be an adult? Will you be easy to deal with? These are the first level questions. 

However, for the real killer job this door will be there and you want to be able to open it.  Game sense comes down to understanding how the company makes money and who might be able to become a customer. 

This is where your network and curiosity can work in your favor. The VP, MD or C level person is thinking of how the company is going to grow all the time. They are building networks of influential people who can help them achieve their targets. The pressure to perform and win is acute and in many cases, it isn’t that hard to think what the company needs. 

Think of your favorite sports team. If they didn’t win the title last year, why? What was missing? Chances are they need a top player at a position and you can name it. It is the same way in business. Who are our biggest customers? Who is the similar to them that are not buying from us? Who do I know at that company? 

Could you make an introduction to start a dialogue between that person and your boss? What key people do you know that might want to come to work with you that could make the biggest impact? As a student-athlete, you had to have some game sense that wasn’t tied to field. It was the game of getting along with the Athletic Director and the big donors at the lunches you attended. It was understanding when to talk to your coach and as importantly, when not to. 

Collegiate athletics has a spotlight on it that few students can appreciate. You went through social media training, you were told that you were a representative of the school and to behave like it at all times. The game of public perception while you are an athlete correlates well with the game of customer acquisition and retention in the workplace. 

All of these thoughts are similar to moving without the ball in sports. It requires insight and second level thinking. You don’t need a letter of recommendation to open this door. Rather you need to spend a few hours on Google and LinkedIn searching and being curious. 

Bring your findings as questions to the interviews. Don’t make assertions, just have these thoughts in your back pocket so that as you go up in the food chain in the company you can stay in the conversation and be relevant at the highest levels. 

Summary 

You may be the most decorated athlete in your school's history, one of the all-time greats, or you may have just made the team and warmed the bench. Regardless you made a commitment to yourself and others to live your life in alignment with the Greek words Citius, Altius, and Fortius. You sought to take your personal achievements faster, higher, and stronger and hopefully inspire your teammates to follow suit. This creed, these choices make you a great candidate for a company that is looking to grow with each new person they hire. They need every employee to get in the company boat and contribute right away. The leaders want to feel that you are in the boat by how it moves, not by how it rocks. As an athlete the calling to be useful and make a meaningful contribution should be second nature. Learn your stories, share them with humility and have the confidence that you have the keys to open all the doors and land that killer job you are dreaming about. 

If you're looking to go back and read the rest of my keys to unlocking the five doors that stand between you and your dream job, read Part I in our community section.

Golden Ties Advisor and Cal Alum, Drew Sanders is President of Banyan Tree Strategies, a management consultancy focused on strategic advice, corporate training and executive development. Connect on with Drew LinkedIn or Twitter@BanyanTreeStrat.

    How to Leverage Your College Athletic Experience with Potential Employers: Part I

    Photo by Rachel Barkdoll on Unsplash

    If you're looking for your first job out of college or looking to nail your dream summer internship, Drew Sanders, one of our client mentors, has advice for you. An Advisor on our Golden Ties Network that works with student-athletes at the University of California Berkeley, Drew focuses on how to apply your athletic experience to your job search. Even if you aren't an athlete he offers insights on how to frame your extracurricular experience to your job hunt.

    Several recent college athletes have asked me how they can get a job in a very competitive and slightly technical field. We have removed the industry in question to allow you the reader to keep your own industries in mind while you are processing our perspective. During our dialog, an image started to resonate with the aspiring athletes, that of a series of doors that need to be opened with the right keys. 

    You need to position your athletic skills and choices correctly to gain an edge on your fellow applicants. 

    Consider these insights and ideas as you speak with recruiters and hiring managers in your target industries. Remember, they are numb from all the clutter and noise that comes with hiring people. You need a clear storyline for them to follow and your choice to be an athlete can be as important as how decorated an athlete you were. 

    The 5 keys you need to land the killer job right out of school are: 

    • The Entrance Key 
    • The Prioritization Key 
    • The Performance Key 
    • The Get-A-Long Key 
    • The Game Sense Key 

    Here are the ways to acquire the keys you need to move forward and land the job you really want. 

    The Entrance Key 

    The Entrance key is also referred to as the technical key. Many sought-after jobs have a competency or skill associated with them. This used to be a major roadblock. If you didn’t have the right degree you were on the outside looking in. However with the rise of online learning platforms today you can show proficiency through online courses from MIT, Stanford, Udacity, and a multitude of other online institutions. 

    As an athlete consider sharing how your college coaches changed a few things in the way you played your sport or approached your training. Compare that change and adjustment to your technical strengths or your ability to quickly get up to speed on skills you haven’t acquired yet. A written plan for learning specific concepts by certain dates from recommended resources will complement your determination with preparation. Athletes are known for their discipline and resiliency, and now that you want this job, you will adapt quickly just like you did with your sport when the challenge of change was thrown your way. 

    Don’t back down if you are interested in a technical role. Remember the four other keys. You can’t fake technical skill that is why we call it the entrance key, it gets you to the other factors that lead to landing the job. If you have the skills, show it. If you are building them, show that as well. Above all else, you want to show passion and drive followed up by focus and action. 

    The Prioritization Key 

    Prioritizing tasks, responsibility, and distractions to deliver results is the mark of an adult. Companies and their customers require you to have these skills. Your challenge is that it is assumed that you don’t have them! 

    As an athlete you should rule the prioritization key challenge, just be subtle in your presentation and don’t oversell it. Present your schedule for your last two years as a student-athlete as a choice you made and that by saying yes to a sport it was clear to you and your friends that you were saying no to certain distractions and it was worth it. Few students will be able to match the student athlete’s prioritization skills. 

    Getting a letter of recommendation to go along with your story of how you have prioritized things in the past will open this door. After that it is up to you to prove it week after week, customer requests are like rust and termites, they never rest. 

    Continue to learn the keys to leveraging your athletic experience with future employers by reading Part II here.

    Golden Ties Advisor and Cal Alum, Drew Sanders is President of Banyan Tree Strategies, a management consultancy focused on strategic advice, corporate training and executive development. Connect with Drew on LinkedIn or Twitter @BanyanTreeStrat.

    2017 Mentor Reading List for #ReadABookDay

    There have been countless features on successful CEOs, entrepreneurs, and world leaders and their reading habits. It’s surprising to picture Warren Buffett or Mark Zuckerberg curled up on their couch with a good book but some statistics show that company bosses read four to five books per month — which is four to five times higher the number of books an average person reads in a year, according to Refresh Leadership.

    We’ve compiled a number of the recommended readings from our mentor networks for you to add to your fall reading list:

    Sports & Business

    1. Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

    The story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal.

    2. A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring

    From the legendary basketball coach who inspired generations of athletes and businesspeople, an inspiring book about the power of mentoring and being mentored.

    Business

    3. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

    A book that aims to shatter myths, provide new insights, and give practical guidance to those who would like to build landmark companies that stand the test of time.

    4. 4 Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5

    A guide to learning the secrets of the “New Rich,” a fast-growing subculture who has abandoned the “deferred-life plan” and instead mastered the new currencies - time and mobility - to create your own luxury lifestyles.

    Personal Growth

    5. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

    Based on twelve years of research, she argues that vulnerability is not weakness, but rather our clearest path to courage, engagement, and meaningful connection.

    6. The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them

    Meg Jay focuses on providing you with tools necessary to make the most of your twenties, showing how work, relationships, personality, social networks, identity, and even your brain can change more during this decade than at any other time in adulthood, if we use the time wisely.

    Let us know what you think about our recommended list of Mentor Reads and what books you have on your reading list this fall.

    Kristin Hedstrom: On Not Being Normal - From Olympian to Entrepreneur

    The Olympian and eight-time National team member, Kristin Hedstrom started a private personal training business in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a member of Team USA, she competed in the 2012 Olympics and won six international medals. When Kristin's not strategizing about business, you can find her working out, traveling the world, or making delicious food in the kitchen.

    I had to laugh when the call timer on my phone clicked past the one hour and forty minute mark. I’d been trying to fix a payroll issue with my accounting service and we still hadn’t reached a resolution. As I waded through terms I barely understood and tax processes I didn’t know existed, I couldn’t help but think how the hell did I get here and why don’t people teach you this stuff?! 

    Needless to say, I never thought I’d be an entrepreneur (and I swear not all days are like that!). But then again, I never thought I’d be an Olympic athlete, either. In my head, I always liked the idea of a “normal” life: graduate college, get a 9-5, commute to the office, and settle down. But in practice, I could never convince myself to do it. 

    In many ways, my path to the National Team set me up perfectly to start my own business. In rowing, representing Team USA required winning Trials every spring. Since the only thing that mattered was crossing the line first at that race, our NGB didn’t regulate where I trained, who my coach was, or who I rowed in a boat with. Often times, I’d even write my own training plan. Don’t get me wrong: I had massive help from coaches, teammates, and supporters. But ultimately I was my own boss – and my teammates were their own bosses, too. 

    By the end of my fifteen-year rowing career, this “figure it out yourself” approach felt like no big deal. Like many Olympians and Olympic hopefuls, I was comfortable working hard for a very long-term goal and banking on my own hard work to get there. And more importantly, I understood that I didn’t have to know all the answers right away. I learned that if I studied the sport, followed my intuition, and stayed aggressive in my approach, things often worked out the way I wanted them to. 

    When I finally switched to the working world full-time, I had a choice of whether to apply for “real” jobs or to create my own. I felt the same way I did after college when all my friends went into normal jobs and I signed myself up for this crazy ride called elite rowing. Was I really going to sign up for another crazy ride? 

    I went back and forth but when it came down to it, I couldn’t find a good reason not to go the entrepreneurship route. I now own a fitness business specializing in personal training and mentoring. In the final three years of my rowing career, I’d been working as a trainer to support myself, so I already had some experience when I started out. More importantly, I had a good handle on what my target market was looking for. 

    So far, I’ve loved it. It’s flexible: I get to work whatever days and hours I want and take as much or as little vacation as I want (which, by the way, doesn’t necessarily mean I take more vacation than most people!). It’s creative: I used to study rowing and come up with new ways to improve and now I’m studying my client base to figure out how to better serve their needs. It’s challenging: owning a business requires learning a lot of varied skills. On most days, I have my eyes on both the big, long-term picture, my mid-term goals, and the day-to-day tasks. It’s fun: my aim is to be the best part of my clients’ days, which means I’m always having fun, too. 

    Much like rowing, I’m not sure where this path will ultimately take me, but I have a feeling it’s going to be awesome. I won’t pretend that every day is neat and tidy. Realistically, I feel like I’m splashing around like a novice rower on many of my days. But in the end, I wouldn’t trade what I’m doing for a normal life. At least not yet.

    For more information on Kristin Hedstrom and her business, follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

    Featured: CSweetener in the News

    Amid Gender Gap Talk, Mentor Network Emerges For Women In Health, Bio

    Article originally posted on Xconomy.com

    It’s been more than a year since an infamous party with hired models in cocktail dresses captured the biotech community’s attention at the 2016 J.P. Morgan conference.

    There has been plenty of talk since about closing biotech’s notable gender gap. At this year’s J.P Morgan conference, for example, a group of 100 life science executives and others pledged to follow a list of gender diversity “best practices.”

    There has also been some action. Launched last fall, a nonprofit mentoring program for women in healthcare and biotech has already signed up about 100 women, according to its founder.

    The group, called CSweetener, is meant as a boost for women who are nearing the executive level. It is the brainchild of life sciences investor Lisa Suennen, who is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and publishes a popular industry blog and podcast. Suennen and cofounder Lisa Serwin have cobbled together $125,000 in donations, grants, and sponsorships to commission a software platform that could be what Suennen calls a “Match.com for mentors.” Because of her high profile, she says she receives frequent requests from women executives for help and advice. “If I said yes to everyone, I wouldn’t have time to work,” she says. “So I thought, ‘What if I can outsource this problem?'”

    Despite a rank-and-file that is roughly 50 percent women, fewer than 10 percent of biotech CEOs are women, according to a recent report from U.K. recruitment firm Liftstream, which studied 177 biotechs that went public between 2012 and 2015.

    Board seats are another measure. Less than five percent of the board members were women at the time of those companies’ IPOs.

    There was a hint of progress in the report: 58 percent of public companies have at least one female board member, up from 48 percent three years ago. But there’s far to go. Public biotech boards would need 40 more years to achieve gender equity.

    To address the board gap, a five-day training program called Boardroom Ready launched last summer. Of its initial class of 20 women, four have been placed onto boards so far.

    Run by the nonprofit group Women In Bio, the program is sponsored in part by the life-science advisory firm that threw the cocktail party. For now, the plan is to hold Boardroom Ready once a year; the next one takes place over two weekends in the fall.

    Suennen’s investor peers deserve no small portion of the gender gap blame (as she often points out on her blog). Fewer than 10 percent of life-science venture partners are women, according to Liftstream. The low number of female VCs perpetuates the gender gap because venture investors sit on their companies’ boards until and often well beyond the initial public offering. “Our study shows that the male dominance of venture capital brings unintended implications for the portfolio companies in terms of their board diversity, and consequently may also have an undesirable effect on their ability to attract talent,” the report reads.

    Suennen recently joined GE Ventures, the venture arm of General Electric and one of the few firms in the traditional or corporate VC world with a high percentage of women. (GE Ventures has donated to CSweetener.)

    In addition to the 100 women who have signed up for CSweetener, the network now counts 110 mentor volunteers, Suennen says. Roughly 15 percent are men. If they are not involved, adds Suennen, “nothing will ever change.”

    Ned Scheetz, founder of Bay Area healthcare venture firm Aphelion Capital and father of two daughters, explains that he signed up to be a CSweetener mentor because healthcare needs more women entrepreneurs. “An outsized percent of venture backed companies are founded and led by high-ego, take-the-hill men and backed by equally Y-dominant venture groups,” Scheetz says. “Much of healthcare is about understanding and serving the subtler, empathetic needs of humanity, and testosterone-driven ambition may miss some of those finer points.”

    Many corporations have internal programs to pair women with mentors or sponsors. But the set-up is fraught with potential conflicts: how freely can a woman speak her mind about the pros and cons of her job, or about her ambitions, to a person higher up the corporate ladder, even if that person has pledged support? CSweetener is meant to provide independent mentoring without conflicted relationships. Mentors are required to have C-suite experience and no financial or business ties to their mentees—a rule to discourage women from joining the network to sell products or raise funds, Suennen says.

    CSweetener requires a $250 fee from mentees. (Mentors sign up for free.) With a few hundred thousand dollars more, Suennen would like to build more community tools into the organization’s software—giving mentors a chance to compare notes, for example—and offer training material for mentees. Negotiation skills would be a priority. “Women don’t often ask for what they want,” Suennen says. “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”

    4 Things Successful Leaders Do Every Day

    Few world leaders or Fortune 500 CEOs knew from the beginning that they were going to be successful. Instead, they learned their craft and surrounded themselves with key advisors and role models and set actionable goals. Some attended world-renowned universities and others taught themselves at home or in their garage.

    No matter how you started your career, these four habits of successful leaders will help you improve your life at work, no matter if you're looking to improve how you run your team as a manager or how to become a strong member of your team as an entry-level employee.

    1. Take an interest in people

    Great leaders don’t like to hear themselves talk. They know that you can learn the most by listening to people, including asking their peers or teams for feedback and encouraging them to ask questions.

    And when you're listening to someone, make eye contact, it’s a powerful and yet overlooked way to connect. With all of the distractions today, the extra effort to show that you’re actively listening to someone and connecting with what they’re saying goes a long way. Try this in your next meeting you'll find that you internalize more with this small adjustment.

    2. Continue learning

    Warren Buffett read between 600 and 1000 pages per day when he was beginning his investing career. Books are a great way to expand your vocabulary and knowledge and you can choose topics that interest you. Craft your “education” to fit the career you want. Interested in moving into a management role? Pick up the latest title on developing good leadership skills. Want to become the best financial analyst on your floor? Read up on future financial trends and how to prepare for them. Challenge yourself by trying a new genre or joining a book club, and you'll be surprised with what you can learn.

    3. Show up

    We live in the age of distractions, multitasking and missed connections. Successful mentors make an effort to keep in touch, especially if they haven’t heard from a mentee or someone they care about in a while. An email with a link to an article of interest and a line asking how they’re doing is a thoughtful and easy way to reach out. If you prefer to meet in person, send an email or text proposing a quick coffee. Relationships are built on trust, which takes time so make time for other people and you’ll find it pays off in the long run.

    4. Ask questions

    Steven Spielberg said, “the delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” The best way to help mentees can be to ask questions, rather than answer them. Help them work their way through a problem or issue, asking “why” and “what if you look at it this way.” Use your experience to guide them to the choice that’s best for them.

    If you're not managing others, you can still apply this to your work life. Ask questions when you don’t understand something or need to clarify instructions. Also, feel empowered to innovate and question processes that might be inefficient. Questions show that you’re actively listening and are not afraid to ask for help, all skills that future leaders should develop early in their careers.

    You don’t need to learn all of these habits in a day but they can act as a guide to slowly adjusting how you interact with your colleagues at work and how you spend your free time. You can also apply them to your personal life, helping you strengthen friendships, maximize your free time, and create a fuller life.

    If you’re looking to create an advisor network for your professional organization, company, or educational institution, learn more about our private label one-on-one video technology by emailing info@instaviser.com.

     

    Ask InstaViser: Expectations for Mentees

    Ask InstaViser: I’m about to have my first call with a mentor, what are their expectations for me, as the mentee?

    Specific expectations will vary from mentor to mentor but it’s helpful to understand a few of the basic ground rules. Based on feedback from our networks of mentors, we have three hacks for mentees looking to make the most of their mentoring opportunity:

    Do your homework.

    You wouldn’t go in to take a test without studying and a session with your mentor is no different. To save time for both you and your mentor, be sure to do your research on their professional background and interests before your first meeting. Utilize online resources like Google and LinkedIn to find out what companies your mentor has worked with, any articles they’ve published or other insights that can help direct your conversation. Referencing their past experience or a recent feature on them in the news shows that you’re committed to investing in the relationship and came prepared.

    Be on time.

    If you’ve set up a time to talk, make sure to be available to talk at that time. When you’re ready to dial-in on time, if not early, you show that you’re respectful of the mentor’s time. For the best video calls, find a room where there will be limited background noise and a decent wifi connection. But even mentors understand if you need to make a last minute change due to events that you can’t control. Communication is key so send a note apologizing for missing the call and a brief explanation for why you couldn’t make it. 

    Mentors are sounding boards, not oracles.

    Good mentors will advise you based on their professional and personal experiences, but few will try to direct your life choices. It’s unfair to expect that your mentor will be able to give you all the answers or tell you exactly what to do. What they can do is help you organize your thoughts, weigh your options and listen to your decision-making process. 

    Mentor/mentee relationships can be meaningful for both parties when you both understand the other’s expectations. If you follow our guidelines above, you’ll be setting yourself up for a successful mentoring experience, no matter if you’re looking for one video call or a longer mentoring relationship.

    If you have any questions about mentorship or how InstaViser can help you build a mentor network at your company, send us a note at coach@instaviser.com and your question could be featured in our next “Ask InstaViser” post.

    How to Become a Great Leader

    We all aspire to improve ourselves, whether it’s to become a future CEO, increase our income, or change industries. As you move along in your career, you will work under a variety of leadership styles, forming your own opinions on what makes a great leader.

    Leaders can come in many different forms from company executives or managers to the ambitious intern or friendly face in accounting. No matter the industry, you will start to see key qualities about leaders that you look forward to working with.

    Here's a little inspiration from influential thought and business leaders on their favorite leadership qualities and how great leaders can set themselves apart from the rest of the pack:

    1. “Hire well, manage little.” —Warren Buffett
    2. “The best leader is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” - Theodore Roosevelt
    3. "In most cases being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way." --Tina Fey
    4. “Leaders don't create followers, they create more leaders.” - Tom Peters
    5. “A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.” - John C. Maxwell
    6. "Early on I realized that I had to hire people smarter and more qualified than I was in a number of different fields, and I had to let go of a lot of decision making. I can't tell you how hard that is. But if you've imprinted your values on the people around you, you can dare to trust them to make the right moves." --Howard Schultz
    7. "A boss creates fear, a leader confidence. A boss fixes blame; a leader corrects mistakes. A boss knows all; a leader asks questions. A boss makes work drudgery; a leader makes it interesting." --Russell H. Ewing

    Looking to make the leap from good to great at work? Talk with a mentor to learn about their favorite quotes on leadership and what characteristics they've found in great leaders throughout their career.

    Allison Ball: Three Lessons I Learned From Building My Business

    Allison Ball is a food industry consultant and a featured mentor on one of our InstaViser clients' platform. Based out of San Francisco, she specializes in helping producers understand the in’s and out’s of wholesale through her one-on-one client work and online group course, Retail Ready. Allison works to help small and medium-sized businesses figure out how to get their packaged product on the grocery shelf and keep it there. 

    Three years ago I left my stable job, steady paycheck, and fantastic workplace to start my own consulting business. While there have been ups and downs since leaving, the freedom, excitement and challenge has made it worthwhile for me. Here I’ll share the three biggest lessons I’ve learned in building my business (so you don’t have to make these mistakes yourself!), and how you can apply them to your own company as well: 

    1. Sell your audience what they think they need, not what you think they need. 
    People will never pay to solve a problem that they don’t think they have. Why would they? When I first started my business, I was adamant that small producers needed to first gain a super-solid understanding of their financials before they took any steps towards growth. Turns out, many small producers didn’t see this as one of the first steps in launching their businesses. Instead, clients wanted to talk through getting their products in front of Wholesale Buyers, and how to get them to say “yes!” to carrying their product line. I shifted my thinking (and my sales pitches!) and started working with clients to help them approach buyers and get their products on the grocery shelf, regardless of whether or not they knew what their target margins were. Sure enough, more clients started coming through my doors and once we already had a strong relationship they trusted me enough to know they couldn’t ignore their financials forever! 

    2. Have themes for your work days.

    Multitasking can be perceived as a good thing, but I’ll argue that it slows down your productivity rate in your business. By assigning theme days to your work week, you’ll be better able to block & tackle your to-do’s. For example, I break down my work week as follows: Marketing Mondays, Client work on Tuesdays & Thursdays, New Client Outreach & Meetings on Wednesdays, and Financials on Fridays. This means that if someone reaches out to me and asks me to have a call to see if we’re a good fit for working together, I automatically schedule it for Wednesdays. I do all my invoicing & accounting on Fridays. I schedule all my social media posts & write my blog pieces on Mondays. Client work gets full days on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This schedule allows me to know exactly what my work week will look like, how to prioritize my time (and other people’s requests!), and how to stay focused during my work week. One of the biggest mistakes I see with my producer clients is that they try to accommodate their retailer’s schedules, taking orders, making product, and doing deliveries all different days of the week. Instead, batch everything so you can confidently tell your accounts, “I take orders on Monday, produce on Tuesday, and delivery on Thursdays.” Think towards the future, when you’ll need to have these systems in place! 

    3. You don’t have to be an expert in everything.

     What are you bad at in your business? It can be anything from posting on social media, to calculating your taxes, to calling potential new accounts on the phone or running demos. I personally dislike creating powerpoint presentations to go alongside my in-person workshops (but love using them!), so I’ve stopped making them myself and instead outsource that to someone in my network who is better, faster, and more competent at creating beautiful, engaging presentations. I hate following up on aging invoices, and nagging clients to pay their bills, so I’ve found a person who loves doing that and gets satisfaction from tracking down missing invoices or following up on “lost checks.” By finding people who can assist me in the tasks that I don’t enjoy doing (or aren’t great at doing!), it allows me more time to focus on the things that I truly love in my business- connecting with clients, and talking through strategy for the retail environment. You’re not going to be an expert in every facet of your business, and the sooner you can realize that, and be okay with it, the faster you will grow. Find someone to demo for you, or trade your delicious product for someone to do your books, or hire expertise with someone outside of your field. There are people out there who are experts - financial consultants, lawyers, co-packers, packaging designers, brokers, business consultants (like me!)-  you just need to find them and ask for help. Be okay with having strengths and weaknesses! 

    It’s taken years for me to learn these lessons, and there are still days when I still don’t follow my own rules (like today- it’s “Financial Friday” yet I’m writing this blog post and haven’t even looked at Quickbooks). The key is that I strive to follow my personal rules more days than not, keep listening to what my clients want and need from me and my services, and keep pushing myself forward day in and day out. 

    For more information on Allison Ball and her business, visit her website at Alliball.com.

    5 Morning Habits of Successful People

    Apple CEO Tim Cook and former First Lady Michelle Obama have one thing in common: they both wake up before 6:30AM. Their early start enables them to workout, brainstorm new business ideas, and plan the rest of their day before the average American has even woken up.

    We’ve compiled a list of the six most important habits successful “early-risers” use to accomplish more before the sun rises. 

    Use a relaxing alarm.

    Looking to feel the motivation to get out of bed instead of hitting the snooze button? Try scheduling in your favorite tune or song to wake up, not the standard annoying beep, and you’ll find you’re more motivated to face the day.

    Stretch.

    You’ve been lying still for 6-8 hours, your body will need a little bit of time to catch up with the rest of you. Stretching can also counteract the negative effects on your body from sitting at a desk all day.

    Sweat it out.

    Short, intense periods of exercise are enough to kick start your metabolism and lead you to burn more fat all day long. Seven minutes is short enough that you don’t need to take extra time in the morning but long enough to wake you up.

    Start your day with green and protein.

    The common grab and go breakfast includes granola bars, toasts, bagels, or oatmeal, all grains and dairy. Skip the bar and go for something greed and filled with protein, like scrambled eggs and steamed spinach or hard-boiled eggs and avocado. You’ll find that you have more energy leading up until lunch, you might even avoid the mid-morning coffee slump. 

    Set 2-3 goals, something you know you can accomplish today.

    To-do lists are helpful to provide your day with direction but they can quickly turn into an insurmountable pile of tasks and you don’t know where to start. The morning hours are the best time to set your list for the day, surrounded by the least amount of distractions. Keep your priority list short by focusing on two or three things that you would like to accomplish today that will make this day a success.

    Studies show that you don’t need to drastically change your schedule to see improvements to your workday and beyond. Small adjustments, like waking up 15 minutes earlier, can have a large impact on your day and enable you to get more done, live more in the moment, or start your day on a calmer note.