Finding A Female Mentor: How To Land Your Ultimate Lady Crush

Women can be relentless when they see a good opportunity.  Just ask any retail worker at Nordstrom’s when the doors open on the first day of the anniversary sale each year.  Why then, do women shy away from reaching their goals in the corporate space?  The ultimate lady crush Sheryl Sandberg pretty much summed it up in her book Lean In, “The gender stereotypes introduced in childhood are reinforced throughout our lives and become self-fulfilling prophesies. Most leadership positions are held by men, so women don't expect to achieve them, and that becomes one of the reasons they don't.”

Despite all of the progress that has been made with women in the workplace, women still make 23% less than their male counterparts and only 4.4% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women.  We as women flock to other women who have “made it,” perhaps, because there are so few.  We want to know how they did it.  We want to know what they said, what they wore, when they spoke, when they didn’t.  Successful women do want to help other women succeed.  But let’s face, it, they are busy too.  And for those really shiny diamonds, they are probably approached often about mentorships.  So, how do you land the right female mentor?  Here are some do’s and dont’s:

Do Build A Real Relationship.  One of the biggest mistakes women make in seeking out mentorships is to ask people they don’t really know.  We get it-from your point of view, who wouldn’t like to be asked? It’s flattering, surely, but if you don’t have an existing relationship, it’s hard for a mentor to be truly invested in you and your success.  And, it makes it that much harder for the proposed mentor to make the time for you.

Do Join The Right Groups Or Organizations.  If you are in marketing, join your local marketing groups or chapters.  Meet and network with those in your industry and you are bound to meet the women who are crushing it in your space.  If you want a more direct approach, there are more formal female mentorship programs out there, like million women mentors.

Do You Really Need To DTR?  Define the relationship, that is.  Building a mentorship organically is the best approach for long term success and support.  But as soon as you define it as a mentorship, you are adding unnecessary pressure on the relationship.  Look around, you may already have the mentorships you are looking for.  Perhaps focus on building those relationships further.  Ask for more time from those that are already teaching and nurturing you.

Don’t Just Ask And Wait.  View mentorship as a favor.  Even after you have built the relationship and met the woman who has a vested interest in your success, mentorship, like any relationship, takes work.  One of the biggest reasons mentorships fail is because of lack of structure.  You, as the mentee, can help create a long lasting relationship by scheduling out consistent meetings/calls that work for your mentor (perhaps once a quarter?).  Provide regular updates to your mentor so they know you are working towards your goals and to show you are applying the tools they are giving you.  There is no greater motivation for a mentor than to see their support making a difference.

Don’t Expect Them To Land You Your Dream Job.  The right female mentor can help you tremendously in your career.  She can give you the confidence and tools you need to go out into the world and be fierce.  Don’t, however, seek out a mentorship so you can work directly for your mentor or feed off of her network.  Learning vs. using, it’s a slippery slope, and often unintentionally we fall over the cliff.  Take take take, but only what your mentor is willing/offers to give.

11 Ways To Develop Habits Of Productive People

Do you feel like you’re always a day behind and struggling to keep up? Or, do you find yourself zoning out and putting off tasks that you should have done yesterday? Life can be constantly distracting and we can lose sight of how to be productive when too many things pull for our attention. If you are tired of feeling behind, here is some helpful advice to boost productivity.

1. You aren’t perfect

Each project or task you execute should be done perfectly, yes? No. Remember you are human. If you are putting off a task, until a more perfect day or when you feel you are more prepared, most likely it will never get done. Outline a plan to complete the task and start taking small steps to move forward. As you do so, you will find it isn’t as difficult as you expected. The hardest step is often just getting started.

2. Separate from technology

Text messaging, social media, and emails can take up your time. These applications are readily available on our smartphones making it easy to check messages and scroll through information during the day.  Limit the amount of time you spend responding to messages or checking out your friend’s baby photos.  It is easy to get distracted and smartphones are making it even easier, so keep an eye on the amount of time you invest in social sites.

3. Create a game plan

Make a list of your daily action items. Productive people stay motivated by mapping out their “to-do” list and sticking to it. What are your priority items? What can you do now to tackle larger projects? Make your list either first thing in the morning or the night before.

4. Don’t dwell on failure

If you don’t get everything done or run into obstacles, don’t let it stop you from achieving your goals.  We all fail in life and these times can be used to evaluate what went wrong and determine where changes need to be made. Focus on what you can learn from your mistakes and modify accordingly.

5. Catch the “ah-ha moments”

Brilliant thoughts often come at inopportune times — in the shower, on your way to work, while running outside. Be sure to store these thoughts in your smartphone or write them down before they completely leave your head.

6. Take time to unwind

I don’t have time to relax. Don’t believe in this mindset. You do and should take time to unwind. This will help you be even more productive. Schedule in free time to visit with family and friends, go to the gym, get outside in nature, and seek activities that help you de-stress.

7. Keep a greater perspective

Life is short and shouldn’t be frustrated with running a million miles an hour. Productive people don’t let days go to waste, but they also stop and smell the roses. Consider the regrets you may have later in life because you kept putting off things you wanted to do today. Have you wanted to learn to play the piano or keep saying you will spend more time with friends and family? Refusing to let these moments pass you by is a respectable habit of productive people.

8. Develop a healthy routine

Skipping breakfast, staying up until 3 AM, and a constant intake of diet soda can all influence your level of productivity. Reinforce a healthy routine by going to bed at a decent hour and waking up early to exercise. Be sure to eat a substantial breakfast and avoid too much junk food or diet soda to help your blood sugar levels stay balanced and help you focus throughout the day. You will create a happier life if you put fundamental health principles first.

9. Seek out productive tools

Just like you would streamline a business with the latest tools to be more efficient, you can also streamline your life. From apps to electronic reminders, there are a variety of tools that can help you be more effective. Take time to organize your time and put things in place before you dive into a project.

10. Focus on solutions

When you run into problems, don’t let it stop you from continuing on. Focus on finding a solution. You will feel in control if you seek out tools or network with individuals who can help you find a solution.  Once you solve the problem, you will feel a greater sense of accomplishment and find more courage to continue on.

11. Develop boundaries

Do you always say “yes” to people? This can hurt your productivity and you will become more off balance in trying to reach your own goals. Keep your goals in mind as you offer to take on other projects. Determine if saying yes will help you reach your own goals or put you farther behind. Learn to say “no” when it is necessary or you may become resentful of the situation and get off-track with your professional and personal goals.

Hiring For Small Businesses

Hiring is one of the most critical decisions a small business can make.  No surprise, right? Why then, do so many companies struggle? Recruiting is a challenging process, particularly for small businesses, where every hire is a huge decision with large impacts to the business and the company culture.  A wrong hiring choice is always costly, but it is especially so for a small business where they can make or break your business.

Here are a few tips to help maneuver the tricky hiring waters -

Clearly define the position.  This is sometimes hard to do in a startup or small business but you should let your potential employee know exactly what to expect. Be honest – is the job not fully defined yet?  Great, tell the candidate that.  In most small businesses, it is almost guaranteed that employees will end up taking on responsibilities outside of their job descriptions.  You will likely need an individual who is adaptable, as well as able and willing to do things outside of their job description; A jack of all trades.

Sell yourself.  The best employee for a startup may not necessarily be the best employee for an established business. Startups and small business can be scary prospects for jobseekers since they are often linked with instability. Try to seek those that see the excitement in the risk – those who are courageous enough to take the risk. To attract such individuals, you need to sell yourself. What sets you apart from other businesses? Sell the exciting parts of working for your company. Let them know how your business is well funded or stable with great prospects for growth.

Focus On What You Need Now vs. What You Want Later.  Hiring in a small business is a unique, complex task.  Particularly because, the state of the business today is sure to change tomorrow.  A common hiring mistake small businesses make is to hire a team that is too experienced, in an effort to plan for future growth.  The challenge this presents is that scaling is not guaranteed.  And, often times, comes in a different size and package than what was planned for.  Hire someone who can meet your needs today, and when you are truly ready to hire a CTO, for example, you will recognize the need. Better yet, you may find opportunity for promoting from within and provide growth opportunity to those that have hustled along side you to grow the business.


5 Signs Your Startup Is Ready To Grow

You have created a business plan and are starting to see your idea explode.  Is it now time to grow your startup business? Before you hit the ground running with contacting venture capitalists or seeking small business loans, there are a few factors you need to consider.


Is now a good time for this idea?

Timing can be everything when it comes to conceptualizing a business idea. You could be too early or too late. Make sure that your target market is ready for your product or service. Ask business experts for their input, as you want to make sure the time to move forward is now.  Do market research - a basic SWOT analysis could be enough to tell you what you need to know.


Do you see revenue potential?

If you're business won't attract investors, it will be more difficult to grow your idea. Look at your sales projections to determine your potential revenue and calculate how much it will take to achieve this capital. Review companies that are similar to the product or service you are offering.  What are their profits, overhead costs, and gross margins? This research will help you develop a clear idea of your revenue potential.


Is there market opportunity?

Are you really providing a solution? Is your idea truly new and cutting-edge? Find out before you dive into expanding your startup. Determine your target market, as well as the segments that will be potential customers. Think about how much you will be able to sell to them and then communicate with potential customers to get their opinions. If they see value in your idea and are anxious to buy, then go for it.


Does your startup have a team?

A successful management team looks great to investors. If you have an all-star team with a positive track record in your industry, you will be very attractive to investors. Not every startup is fortunate to have an experienced team, but if your team shows that they are united to work hard and are passionate about helping your business grow this can also be appealing.


Do you have technology solutions in place?

You can be one step ahead by implementing the latest technology to help your business run smoothly. Plus, seeking out tools that measure your success can help investors see how your business is progressing.

There are many factors to consider when it comes to growing your business. Seek growth experts, such as growth hackers, to gain greater insight on developing your business.


Make sure this is in place before you hire a growth hacker