My Top 4 Reads for 2020

My Top 4 Reads for 2020

The most influential and successful people in the business world are – reading. To quote one of my favourite investors of all times, Warren Buffett, ‘the key to success is reading, as much as 500 pages per day (yikes!)’ According to Buffett knowledge builds up like compound interest over time. Makes sense if you think about it a bit doesn’t it? Someone like Bill Gates, for example, reads about 50 books per year according to the Business Insider South Africa. Now to be honest with you I’m an avid reader, however this year I’ve got a lot going on so I decided my reading strategy will entail reading a selection of just four books. One for each quarter of this year. I’d rather read less than the average Bill Gates and take the time to implement the knowledge which I’ve gained than reading 50 books without implementing anything useful in my business.

 

These Titles Made It Successfully onto My Reading List

 

#What Makes Them Great? 50 Ways to Become the Industry Leader

By Douglas Kruger

Now to be honest this was my first purchase for my collection this year. So far, I haven’t been disappointed. I’m sure you’ve also wondered what the differentiating factor between the icons of a specific industry and those that are just ‘good’ at what they do might be. Well, I certainly have. That’s one of the reasons I find Kruger’s book so helpful as it gives 50 practical tips on how to achieve just that!

 

#How to Win Friends & Influence People in the Digital Age

By Dale Carnegie, Brent Cole

Some of you or maybe all of you might have come across this book before. You might already know Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends & Influence People released in 1936.  released in 1936. Yes, you read it right the first time… Since its release, it has sold over 15 million copies and has recently been adapted for the digital age. Now a book that endures the test of time certainly merits making my list.

 

#Beginner’s Pluck – Build Your Life of Purpose and Impact Now

By Liz Bohannon

In her book Beginner’s Pluck, Liz wants the reader to, ‘rethink everything you’ve been told about finding your passion and following your dreams’. Liz clarifies a whole lot in her book about the emphasis placed on finding your passion and instead focusses on the reality of building your passion and purpose as she puts it ‘actively, day-by-day’.

 

#Find Your Way – Unleash Your Power and Highest Potential

By Carly Fiorina

I recently listened to a leadership podcast interview with Carly Fiorina. Like most South Africans I’d never heard of her before then. However, her journey from secretary to becoming the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company sounded remarkable and I adding her book to my 2020 must-read list was a no-brainer.

 

Bringing it together

Dear reader, from experience I have seen first-hand what consistent reading, gaining knowledge and expanding your horizons can achieve for our personal and professional lives. I know that reading doesn’t necessarily come naturally to everyone, but I really want to encourage you to give it a try before reaching for the audio versions of the book. For the simple – in an era where communication is turning more digital by the second, it is imperative that we improve our reading comprehension and communication skills. I believe without a doubt that effective communication will serve us well while we actively grow our business’.

The meaning of motivation and how to stay motivated

The meaning of motivation and how to stay motivated

First of all we have to understand what motivation is.   It’s a reason for acting in a particular way something that pushes us to do things that we believe we can’t do or goals that looks hard to achieve.

Most times when we want to accomplish a goal we need a willingness to help us improve our habits and get results. This is where motivation counts.

So what does motivation mean? It means finding drive and direction from within. It means finding an activity that keeps you engaged and putting effort into it. People who are motivated desire to do things, they desire to make a difference rather than sit and wait for things to happen.

Knowing how to stay motivated can be tough sometimes. Often people say that we are procrastinating or not getting the outcomes that we want. We might even have had some misfortune and our motivation levels drop. With all the things that demand out attention, it can be difficult to stay motivated or focused to achieve the outcome that we are working towards.

Do things that will keep you motivated and make this a priority in your life. You must motivate yourself every day and find things in your life that will allow you to get to the place that you want to be in.

 

Simple tips on how to increase motivation

  • Remember to be clear on your outcome and to focus on what that will mean to you once you achieve it.
  • When you don’t feel like doing what needs to be done, “Just do it.” You will feel better once you have ticked off that box.
  • Reframe negative self-talk and thoughts.
  • Celebrate yourself along the way.
  • Use positive empowering language
  • Smile and be happy. There is a feedback loop, which basically means, your mood will follow what you are doing with your face.
  • Tackle challenges in bite sized chunks.
  • Take joy in what you do. “If you enjoy what you do, you never have to work a single day in your life.”
  • Learn to meditate. Meditation can be as simple as smelling the roses, feeling the wind on your face, experiencing compassion, or simply being.
  • Do things that are in line with your values and build you as a person.
  • Tackle the task in manageable size pieces that build on success, competence and confidence.
  • Be prepared to step outside your comfort zone. Growth only happens on the other side. Before you know it, things you never thought you could do will become possible.
  • Make motivation a new habit, your new best friend.

Starting out can be tough, but with discipline and consistency you will eventually reach a point where staying motivated only requires minimal daily maintenance, learning to make the right choices at the right time.

Staying motivated is first and foremost in finding your purpose to achieve your goals. Be sure to have clearly laid out plans and you will be well on your way to creating achievable goals to keep you motivated throughout the year.

 

Conclusion

Motivation is a deliberate state of mind. We can choose to be motivated and our actions can help us to stay motivated.

3 Life Lessons  that you can use anywhere in life right now

3 Life Lessons that you can use anywhere in life right now

The person that influenced me most in life played a very unconventional role.  It goes without saying that you look up to your parents and they are your biggest influencers.  But from a business perspective it was one of my employers who showed me what was possible with hard work and determination.

As I’ve mentioned before I’m very good at reading people. So when used in a work environment you can hit it off with pretty much anyone.  This particular lady was a very determined, I’m not taking nonsense from no one, strong woman. When I went for the interview one of the current employees passed me in the waiting room and asked me if I was waiting for B.  I told him that I was here for an interview for the new receptionist position. His eyes widened and he said, “Good luck…” In a ‘she’ll eat you alive sweetheart’ type of way.

Cutting to the chase, I eventually got the job and became good ‘friends’ with B, my new boss.  I knew how to stay on her good side and leveraged every opportunity to learn from her. She was a successful business woman but as all stories in life, it didn’t start out that way.  She started from very humble beginnings and worked and worked to get on top.

Here is what I’ve learnt from her:

 

Do everything to the best of your ability


We once had a function for our clients’ secretaries and she went all out with wine and cheese and awesome entertainment.  She didn’t need to impress anybody as they were already clients but she showed how much she valued their business by treating the ladies to a very special day.

 

Things first have to be really bad before it gets good


There were difficult days were I just chatted to her about our life struggles in general and she would tell me about how bad they had it before it became good.  How she used to drive from medical practice to medical practice and sold stationery to the doctors for an income.  Today she is selling them IT solutions and support and she’s killing it.

 

The importance of constructive feedback


Look, if she wasn’t happy about how you handled her client, she won’t sugar coat and tell you straight.  Luckily I very rarely experienced that side of her but it was only because she was so passionate about keeping her clients happy and giving them the best customer service possible, after all it was her name at stake as she personally knew each and every client.  Even though she could get really upset, you could still take her words to heart and learn from it because she built her business up from nothing and knew it better than any of us.

What I most admired about her was that she didn’t sit back when things started going good. No, she knew that any day something could happen and it could all be gone.  Still to this day she works just as hard as her staff in making sure new clients are coming in and that current clients are happy.

As an exercise I’ve created a dream board of my best life, without even noticing that it very closely resembled the life of B. Guess she was much more influential to me than I thought.

Hashtag I’m staying

Hashtag I’m staying

With all the negative news in the media, and there is a lot of it – it is easy to become despondent, hopeless, fearful, angry, frustrated… the list could go on. One episode of Carte Blanche and you are guaranteed to see something to add to the gloom feeling a Sunday night can bring.

 

#ImStaying Facebook Group

While flipping through Facebook a few weeks ago, an old colleague had invited me to the #I’m Staying group. I was curious. I am sure all members have at some point in the lives been tempted or have seriously considered immigrating. We all have friends or family that have taken the leap and packed their bags for greener pastures.

 

Positive change

I was pleasantly surprised at the positive stories people were sharing. Some real lump in the throat moments that make one feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And there it was, the ember of hope in my heart, that South African people, can change this country! I believe that the Cape Town real estate entrepreneur Jarette Petzer hoped it would achieve. It now has 416,627 members and counting.

Politicians and the media love bad news. It sells, and we certainly give them enough to keep them going. The page is fostering compassion and connections between South Africans from all backgrounds. But as in life, there are always people who disagree. Instead of seeing the positive aspects, they only see the negative, claiming the group is extremely elitist, catering to a privileged white minority. I really hope that the camp of people feeling this way are the minority and that the group continues to grow – with members from all over our beautiful rainbow nation. The positive stories posted by members are being posted daily and in abundance by people of all ages, across all cultures who share a deep love for South Africa. For some, this group has been a life changer. Some have been truly despondent, and do not have any option but to #Stay!

 

Hope for the future

While people spend those few moments a day reading and seeing the good news it really does give one hope, and we can all do with some hope. Hope will overflow into our own lives, to the people we interact with daily – our colleagues, our children, our neighbours and friends. It has a huge spinoff effect. You never know how a random act of kindness, or a few kind words could impact someone’s life, it could change their life forever. And it is not only happening on SA soil, there are stories of South Africans all across the world! How amazing that it can reach all corners and impact the lives of those people around them too.

We can’t change what the politicians and negative people are doing to our country, but we sure can change our attitudes and focus on the good that there is around us. Try it, and see how it works for you, maybe you’ll be sharing your moment on #I’m Staying next!

 

“And as we let your own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same” – Nelson Mandela.

“It is in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it” – Nelson Mandela

“I believe that in the end that it is kindness and accommodation that are all the catalysts for real change” – Nelson Mandela

“Three things in Human Life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind” – Mother Teresa

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless” – Mother Teresa

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person” – Mother Teresa

Practicing Mindfulness Can Change Your Way of Thinking

Practicing Mindfulness Can Change Your Way of Thinking

What exactly is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is described as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings and thoughts in the here and now. When we become more aware of our own mind, we become more aware of those around us.  When we start to become more present and apply mindfulness to our everyday lives, we can begin to see the benefits.

Awareness

Mindfulness is an extreme sense of awareness. We can observe our thoughts and actions along with the feelings and emotions of others.

Practice

Like a muscle, mindfulness is something that we must practice all the time. Times in which we do not believe that we need to practice are the most important. It is easy to be mindful when the world around us is calm. We must exercise sincerely in these times so that when the world around us becomes chaotic, we can remain in this internal place of stillness.

Be Here Now

The present moment is the only moment that we have. If you are continually dwelling on the past or the future, you cannot pay attention to what is. Being out of the now will affect the quality of your life.

 

Simple ways to bring mindfulness into our daily routines

Eating

It’s said that we eat with our eyes first. When bringing mindful awareness to eating this is undoubtedly true. We see our food before consuming it. Notice the colors on your plate. Become aware of the smell of your food. Feel the temperature of the food as it warms or cools your plate. Take the opportunity to experience tasting your food fully.

Walking

As you walk, notice the sensation of the air on your face and arms. Feel the ground beneath your feet with every step you take. Tune into the sounds around you. Simply become aware of how it feels to place one foot in front of the other.

Breathing

As you breathe in, notice the cooling sensation as the air moves up and into your nostrils. Feel the air fill and expand your lungs. In that split second before you breathe out notice how the breath is held in your body. As you breathe out, recognize the sensations in your body as your ribs contract. Breathing mindfully not only increases awareness but is a tool to reduce anxiety and stress in the present moment. The next time you are stressed out try to take a few mindful breaths to bring tension levels down.

Showering

Every time you take a shower, visualize washing away your stress and anxiety. Concentrate on the feel of the water touching your skin. Envision the power of the water washing away your negative thoughts. Let it all go down the drain, you’ll start feeling lighter and much clearer.

 

Conclusion

The more you practice mindfulness, the more you will understand how your thoughts, feelings or sensations influence each other, as well as your mood and the way in which you respond to the world.

Why clients need coaching on how to work remotely

Why clients need coaching on how to work remotely

Onboarding a new client is always a very exciting experience for any virtual assistant. However, sometimes, a few weeks down the line one or both parties may feel disillusioned and frustrated with the business relationship. I’ve especially found this to be true when either the VA or the client is still new to the virtual assistance industry or when both are. Here are a few pointers to help VA’s (and clients) avoid the pitfalls of unnecessary frustration.

 

Questions…questions…questions

My clients and colleagues will all tell you the same thing about me. I ask questions… a lot! I don’t just accept the status quo of anything, just because someone said so… It might work on your nerves (I know), you will, however, thank me later! Why do I ask so many questions?

The answer is simple, with more information comes informed decision-making.

Whether an athlete plans to run a marathon or a 100m race, one thing remains the same. The planning, preparation and training take up way more time than the actual event. Similarly, we should remember that a lot more goes on before we get to the actual execution of the tasks at hand.

A lot of the time I find clients want to skimp on this part. Make sure as a VA that you help them understand the value of first gaining insight into their business and current structures and procedures while gathering all the information you need to start planning the next step.

Plan…plan…plan

“Failing to plan, is planning to fail.”

This step can’t be stressed enough! Plan your day, plan your week, plan your month! Yes, anything or everything might change, depending on the type of industry. But…without planning, you will not have realistic goals, this will limit your feeling of achievement as a VA and will give the client a false impression that you’re not making the progress they had in mind. It may also lead them to inevitably believe that a virtual assistant is not a valuable contribution to their business. Planning means goals and goals means you can measure results. Let the results speak for you.

Your client may not understand your need for planning, so I suggest you ease them into it. Start with something simple like an email or message (using whichever means of communication your client prefers) every day at the start of your session with the client to just let them know 2-3 things you will be focusing on for the day (it obviously depends on the complexity of the tasks or projects). Also, give them an estimate of the time it will take you to accomplish your goal. At the end of the day give short, to the point feedback.

 

Communicate…communicate…communicate

Vital to every successful business relationship is communication. So why do we often tend to neglect such an extremely important tool for success in the hustle and bustle of our day?

If you find yourself explaining or re-explaining yourself or a task or project’s progress to your client more often than not, it definitely demonstrates a communication gap. This means your client feels their expectations aren’t met, and you might end up feeling the client doesn’t value your service.

The key here is effective communication. Make sure your client understands the process and time each task or project might take and if you run into any delays, which often happens, communicate this with your clients, so they get an understanding of what it takes to get the job done, right- the first time.

 

It’s not rocket science

Only rocket science is rocket science. You’ll find your groove before you know it.  We just need to remember that we all started as newbies in the industry some time, so, a little patience and coaching will go a long way towards building a lasting business relationship.