I wouldn’t call myself an optimist. You know one of those people that seem to have rays of sunshine follow them wherever they go. I however wouldn’t call myself a pessimist either, but I certainly can feel negative at times.
Sometimes I get stuck in a perpetual cycle of negativity and guilt that is difficult to get out of and maybe you have experienced this too. “I should be positive about my privilege, food on the table, a job, health, family and have no right to feel negative about these trivial things etc. etc.”
To feel positive, you might try different techniques such as thinking positively or surrounding yourself with things that make you happy. However, often this forced focus on trying to develop a positive disposition leads you even further down the negativity path and by trying to push negativity out and force positivity in, you feed the guilt, strengthen the negativity and are left feeling emotionally drained!
Our feelings influence our behaviour and attitudes
How we feel affects our perception of a situation which gives rise to our attitude and behaviour. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge how people, things and situations make you feel in order to express the attitude and behaviour that you feel comfortable with. If this is sounding familiar, then read on for a different approach to filtering out the negative. This is a dynamic process and a constant journey, so this is food for thought from a person who is not a self-proclaimed expert on this but rather a person still navigating the methods of filtering out the negative.
Get rid of emotional pollution
Try this little exercise next time something or someone causes negative feelings, which I like to call emotional pollution. Instead of trying to force positive thinking, keep the negativity at the forefront of your thoughts and ask yourself what is making me feel negative today and what can I do about it? Is it a tarnished relationship, lack of sleep, an insurance claim, government policies? By analysing what it is about the situation that is making you uncomfortable you direct your focus on how and if you can change your situation. So, for example if a tarnished relationship is causing emotional pollution, think about how that can be changed, or weigh up the value of the relationship against the effort of maintaining or rectifying it. Should you find that the effort of maintaining the tarnished relationship far outweighs the benefit of keeping the relationship then it’s time for a change. Either the relationship needs to end or your role within the relationship needs adjusting. By shifting your focus – from being consumed by negativity and avoiding a forced, unnatural positive disposition to driving actionable change towards your negativity you will inadvertently make room for the positive.
Some things you cannot change
I know at this point you are saying ‘easier said than done’ and some things are just impossible to change and I agree, you can’t change or eliminate everything that doesn’t make you feel good.
At this point I remind myself of a very well-known mantra which I feel can be used by anyone, ‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’ Some things are simply not in your control so identify those things that create negativity in your life and ask yourself is this something I can control? If yes, then take actionable steps to eliminate or change the negative aspect or causes of emotional pollution. If the answer is no, then ask yourself what can I control about this situation? The answer is to again focus on you and how you feel.
Aim to find a way to take the negative that you can’t control, change the way you feel about and accept that this is within the boundary of your control. Remember what is meant to be, will be and every day that you wake up and do your best to filter out the negative is a great start to letting the positivity in.
Photo by photokip.com from Pexels
Me, Myself & Marketing
A few years ago, I would have never thought that I would be a Marketing Assistant. I have always had an interest in marketing, and I have done a few courses related to it, but I never thought that what was my interest, would become my main field of work. I love marketing and to constantly learn something new about it, is what I strive for.
Let’s look at the definition of MARKETING:
Marketing as defined by the American Marketing Association: “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large”. The term was developed from the original meaning which referred to going to market with goods for sale.
In 2017 The New York Times described it as “the art of telling stories so enthralling that people lose track of their wallets.”
There are so many platforms that can be used to help you with Marketing. I think the task is a lot easier today than it was thirty years ago. We have Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn to name just a few. And if you do a little bit of research and a course or two, you will be able to gain the skills to effectively use them in your marketing strategy.
Tools, tools & more tools
You will definitely need a trusted friend to make life easier for you… a friend like Asana or any app that will help you to keep your marketing strategy organized. Believe me, this will help you A LOT! There are so many useful tools out there to choose from. When you have a moment to spare, have a coffee date with Mr. Google and you will be amazed to find out what is available out there to use.
Marketing and Branding, isn’t it the same thing?
What is branding and what is marketing? Isn’t it the same thing?
According to Wikipedia, “Branding is endowing products and services with the power of a brand” (Kotler & Keller, 2015).
According to (Hislop, 2001), Branding is the process of creating a relationship or a connection between a company’s product and emotional perception of the customer for the purpose of generating segregation among competition and building loyalty among customers.”
So, in a nutshell, branding is what you need to give your company/product/service a ‘face’, marketing is what you need to make this ‘face’ known and how you will use this ‘face’ to get sales. You will need a strategy for both of them.
You will work on your branding until you have completed it, but you will constantly work on your marketing.
A few Marketing secrets to keep in mind
- You need to know who you will be targeting: who will be your customers?
- You need to have your branding set up first
- Work with a plan, do not just do something because you read it someone and now decide to try it out. Plan what you want to do.
- Keep in mind how many people there are out there. Your target market does not have to include all of them. Keep your target market specific to the product/service you have to offer.
- There are certain ‘strong words’ that you can use in your marketing that will catch your customer’s attention. Words like “Free, How To, Secret, Limited offer, Don’t miss”. Words like these will create curiosity with a potential customer.
Types of Marketing Strategies
- Content Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Pay Per Click
- Search Engine Optimization
- Viral Marketing
- Influence Marketing
- Mobile Marketing
- Electronic Billboards
- Affiliate Marketing
What I would recommend, is once you have decided on your niche/product/service, take the time to develop your branding first and then take the time to work on an effective marketing strategy. Do research on marketing to become familiar with the possibilities that are available to use. Do research on your competitors and what they are using for marketing, this might just benefit you more than you think.
Photo by Dominika Roseclay from Pexels
Delegating is probably one of the most under-used human resources available to us. If you are anything like me, I have spent years doing everything myself because I either don’t have the time to show someone how to do it or I just get on and do it myself because then I know it is done properly. But I have found that as the years go on and I take on more responsibility the same old problem remains – Time. There are never enough hours in a day or days in a week or weeks in a month. I just keep wishing for more time.
This is exactly what delegating does, it gives you more time. The freedom to focus on what you need to be doing and allowing others get the rest done. Let’s name this: Operation create a work force. Your work force will become your anchor. A space where you delegate tasks, ideas, meetings, projects with the sole purpose of making sure that everyone is contributing to making the pie. The problem we find ourselves in when we try to make the pie entirely by ourselves is that we end up with a dozen pies that are not entirely cooked through because we have spread ourselves thin and tried to give at least 80% to everything and 100% to nothing.
I was reminded lately that you need to learn to trust the process, pick a team, trust this team and begin moving your ship forward.
So where does one start?
Firstly you need to assess what you need help with, instead of making a to do list – make a what not to do list. This will help you realise what you will you be delegating – what these tasks look like and what their focus area is – administration, sales, marketing, projects, operations, finance/accounting, etc. By knowing what your focus area or areas are, this will allow you to know who you are looking for and what you are looking for in a candidate.
Secondly you need to hire a virtual assistant. This will allow you the flexibility to work at your own pace, and without the added pressure of office space. Your VA will be able to be molded to carry out tasks the way you like, follow policies and procedures that are in place, and be only a phone call away.
There are 7 tools and applications available to you that will make delegating easier
Todoist allows you to keep track of your own tasks (personal and business related) as well as assign tasks to your team. Todoist also allows integration with Gmail that will allow you to assign a specific email to an individual.
Asana allows you to manage your team, projects, workflow and processes all in one space. You can easily find out the status of a project, view setbacks and closed tasks, no matter where you are.
Kantree allows you to assign tasks, leave comments, track progress, and easily create reports.
Zapier allows you to create connections/integrations between 300 different applications. You will be able to assign ‘zaps’ automatically from one platform to any of the others, for example if you receive a social media alert in Gmail, you will be able to send a response immediately from Gmail, should you receive a new lead, you will be able to respond to that lead or assign it to another team member.
For those that would rather not have to train someone because it would take too much of our time initially without realizing that in the future it could save us hours, stepshot is here for you. Stepshot allows one to record the steps to be completed in a process or how to perform a specific action and then share this recording with your teammates. This app will save you training time as the team member will always have a reference to revert back to, if required, and can easily be used when onboarding.
Slack is a communication tool that will allow you to have group chats, individual chats and keep private notes, all in one application. One of the biggest advantages is that Slack allows you to create multiple channels that can be specific to a task, a project, a discussion, etc. and the ability to only have specific member assigned to various channels. This will allow decisions to be made quicker, to get information out faster and allow swifter turnaround time.
Allows you to setup shared mailboxes within Gmail which will allow you to easily assign emails to teammates, track the team member and the status of response, meaning that your company will never miss an email or an opportunity again.
Not only will delegation free up your time but any one of these applications will be beneficial to the process. Remember delegation is key and if done right you can build a strong and successful team around you.
COVID-19 one of the biggest things to hit us in 2020, who knows, it may be the only thing because it could mean a domino effect for anything else that may come our way once this is “all over”.
In South Africa, as in much of the world, lockdown is a reality that we are faced with until further notice. Because although there is a date in mind as to when it will end, the likelihood of it being extended is very possible.
Now as a virtual assistant working from home, being confined to my house (for lack of better wording) is not altogether new for me. However for other members of the family it is a tough pill to swallow some days.
So … how have we come this far without totally losing our marbles? I am about to tell you…. IN 5 STEPS!
Choose your battles
Plain and simple – we have NO CHOICE in the matter. We have NO CONTROL over this lockdown and any regulations that are put in place during this time. So, we need to roll with the punches.
I decided quickly that changing routine would be the best strategy for me and my family’s sanity. I had to let my ideal schedule fall by the way side and go with the flow because added stress of trying to keep everything “normal” would not be beneficial to anyone.
My house would not suddenly explode because we were no longer following a schedule to the T, so I gave it up. GOODBYE!
Find what works
I found that what worked for us was to try and be as understanding, as supportive and as crazy as possible. I let the kids do weird and wonderful things the first two weeks of lockdown. They got to go to bed a little later, they ate what they wanted and played till they could not play anymore.
For me, I almost feel the little ones are the biggest heroes here because they actually have no idea of the gravity of the situation. They cannot fully understand or grasp the concept of not being able to go outside to play at the park or be with their friends at school.
Yet everyday they try and just be their best selves, playing, having fun, laughing and sometimes pushing us to the brink of Bonkersville, but all the while they live for the moments, every moment, that they get to be with US as a family.
Hubby became one with his chair, desk and PC – and that is OKAY!
I of course carried on – BUSINESS AS UNUSUAL! Because as I said, for me, working odd hours and getting the job done through the day is fairly normal for me. The main goal being – GETTING THE JOB DONE AND KEEPING THE CLIENTS HAPPY!
Because just as it is difficult for us, it is difficult for many of them too.
This too shall pass
Even though my initial reaction to everything was to keep things more relaxed and less structured, eventually everyone seemed to just migrate back to the normal routine – and rightfully so because homeschooling has now become a new reality for us since a couple weeks back.
Besides that, I believe it is important that we realise that this won’t be life forever – well not fully any way. I am certain that life will never be the same, however we will integrate back into the world, slowly but surely, and we will carry on with our lives (hopefully with a new set of eyes and views).
Nothing is forever. Things change. And life goes on.
Give yourself a break
Let’s face it, times are tough, tough to the max and if you can get through these days without too many scratches, you are good to go and deserve a pat on the back.
So if it takes baking a banana bread every day, staying in your PJs for a week, drinking a raw egg OR binge watching Tiger King – then so be it! Just let yourself be.
For me, it has been sleeping more, reflecting more and just enjoying having my whole family all in one place for more than just a couple consecutive days. Safe, healthy and with me. All while still being able to work and earn money and put food on the table, (oh man for that I am eternally grateful).
So, what is the conclusion?
The conclusion is that we are only human and when faced with adversity or things we do not understand we can become defensive and lose the plot a little. But once we stop and realise that we actually have no control over the greater situation at hand, but that we can control how we react to it, and how we get through the tough times, everything starts to fall into place.
We start to adapt. We start to live our new reality and we get on with it.
Take this time to be more, do more and live more (even if you cannot leave your house), it is possible.
Onward and upward!
Covid-19, the most discussed and disputed pandemic of our generation and the reason toilet paper has become a precious commodity in 2020!
Jokes aside, I have to start by saying how proud I am of how our President Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa has handled the Covid-19 prevention strategy in South Africa. He has made some tough decisions like implementing and now extending the national lockdown, that unfortunately has had some less than ideal impact on businesses and individuals BUT the consequences of not doing so would be far greater.
The positive side of Lockdown
There is always a silver lining in every situation, you just need to look for it sometimes. Lockdown has been amazing in so many different ways, individuals have been given the opportunity to take the time to slow down and have some time for self-care, families are actually spending time together and where they are not able to do so, the appreciation for one another has grown tremendously. Parents have been forced to be present in their kids lives and appreciate the amazing work our teachers/nanny’s do on a daily basis and businesses have realised the opportunities and possibilities of increases their productivity and expanding their market through going digital.
Without realising it, many of us have been given such an amazing gift through all of this – the gift of time! Time to relook at what is important to us, time to practice gratitude for what we have, time to tackle better ourselves and work on reaching or adapting our goals. I personally have decided to use the time I have between the cooking, cleaning and looking after my boys (Lets be real, lockdown has also brought some chaos into our households) to focus on upskilling myself in areas that I feel would benefit my business and clients.
There some amazing institutions running specials on various courses but there are also some awesome FREE courses that can be done on platforms like Udemy, LinkedIn Learning and Google. I will actually be focusing on some of the google courses that are available.
Growth through learning
Irrespective of what sector or role you are in, learning a new skill is always a win. The reason I will be focusing on the courses available on Google is because they have some amazing online courses that are practical, up to date and won’t take more than a take than a couple of hours of your time. Learndigital.withgoogle has over 126 courses to choose from, these four are on my current to do list:
Search Engine Optimization Fundamentals:
Gain an understanding of search engine algorithms and how they affect organic search results and websites. Building on this knowledge, you’ll learn the key elements for creating an effective SEO strategy, including how to select keywords and perform keyword research; consumer psychology and search behaviour; and how to conduct on-page SEO analysis to identify opportunities to improve a website’s search optimisation.
Course time: 13 hours
Marketing in a Digital World:
This course examines how digital tools, such as the Internet, smartphones, and 3D printing, are revolutionizing the world of marketing by shifting the balance of power from firms to consumers.
Course time: 30 hours
Understand Customers’ Needs and Online Behaviours:
With just some basic web analytics skills, businesses can easily measure how well their online marketing is working and get even better results. Start our free course to find out how you can easily measure your activity and understand customer needs and their online behaviours.
Course time: 1 hour
Business writing is any written communication used in a professional setting. It could be an email, memo, presentation or report. In this free course, you’ll learn some tips and guides to help you make your business communication direct, clear, and designed to be read quickly.
Course time: 1 hour
I hope you find these interesting and helpful but if not whether you find something of interest to learn or even read about on the various platforms available online make a decision to step outside your comfort zone during lockdown and learn something new, make the most of this time, you will thank yourself later!
Most of all please stay home, stay safe and stay grateful!