There IS Crying In Business

Crying In Business

By Ximena Santibañez

Do you remember that line from the movie “A League of Their Own? That moment when Tom Hanks’s character made it very clear that the coach mistreats the female players, and instead of "taking it like a man" one of the players cries.

We've been fed that lie over and over in business. We have been shown that if a woman is to succeed in a "man's world" such as business, she has to be as cold, and ruthless, and insensitive as they are perceived to be in the business world. Well I think it’s time to change that.

I'm done perpetuating the cycle. Particularly because it is a load of dirt piling under the rug of humanity and nurturing inhumanity. We need more crying in business!

We need more men and women who are affected by what goes wrong. We need people who are ashamed and overwhelmed by the evil that surrounds them; but not so much as to be paralysed by fear or crying in a corner. That is not what women do. That is what the male version of women’s role told us we are supposed to do. Yes, we break, and we cry; but we get up, and we do whatever is needed to fix what is broken. We have brought up generation after generation of children—many times neglected by men who decided they had to be all about business. Now we have new generations of men who refuse to buy that lie. We have men who want paternity leave and cherish holding their kids when they cry and won't say "stop crying", or "real men don't cry." 

Now is the time for us to embrace the emotional side of business. To create associations of men and women who allow leaders to be vulnerable and lead by example showing that success comes from overcoming fear, and failure, and self-doubt, and attacks. Perhaps that's why biographical series and movies have become so influential in our times. That is why reality television became so big. We were finally shown that behind closed doors and curtains, success is messy. We began to learn that success came with a cost. 

However, the cost of success reduces thoroughly when more and more humane people take control. You won't do "whatever it takes", because it won't be acceptable.  You won't step over other people, because they will call you out as you do it. You will make mistakes, and you will continue to go down wrong roads, because that is what builds experience and character. But there is enough you will learn on your own, there is no need for people around you to make it any worse. It is not fear of what others do that contains your deepest desires. It is fear of what you can or cannot do that really does if we are truly honest. That fear will prevail, and it will continue to build character even without a destructive competitive survival-of-the-fittest environment.  

So you will cry, and after fighting and struggling you may get to the top. But only if you really took the time to understand what it was like to be down, and learn the lessons that you will need to share and profit from learning after all.

You can find more of Ximena's work here.

How to End Time Stealers & Manage Your Time Better

By Karen Lynn

When you are trying to balance growing your career with taking care of your family, it is nearly impossible to fit everything you need to do into a 24-hour period.  You may find yourself looking at the clock and realize it’s later than you thought it was, and think “Where did the time go?”  We have all been there.  However, if you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day every day, you may be struggling with time management.  These 7 tips will help you use your time more efficiently so you can get more done and feel less stress!

Plan Your Day
Too much time is spent not sure what to do next or feeling scattered.  You get to work and you spend 10 minutes sitting at your desk not sure where to start, or you dive into one project, then halfway through you start something else.  When you get to your office, before you start sending emails or making calls, plan out your day as a combination to-do list, and schedule where you can determine what you need to do and schedule the time to make it happen.

Prioritize Your Day
As you create your daily plan, make sure you set your two or three highest priority items at the top and get those done first.  Not only is this great for taking care of your business, but it gives you a great sense of accomplishment!  Don’t set more than two or three items as high-priority though, or you’ll stress yourself out.  Getting in touch with a distributor about a missed shipment and vacuuming your office rug are not on the same level of priority.

Shut Off Social Media
Social media can be amazing, but it can easily turn into a huge time waster.  A one minute tweet about your business can turn into liking friends’ vacation pictures and taking quizzes about what type of person you are based on your astrological sign.  If you use it for your business, use a site like Hootsuite to create a few days’ worth of content and schedule your social media posts, or block out a time each day to post on social media and follow up.  

Take a Lunch
Spending all day plugging away at work seems like you’ll get more done than if you take breaks, but that isn’t necessarily true. Your brain does need some down time, and you need to re-fuel.  Schedule your lunch for a specific time.  You will naturally work more quickly to finish projects before your scheduled lunch time than if you were planning on eating while you work or skipping it altogether.  Plus, when you return to your work, you’ll have a refreshed mind and outlook.

Set Boundaries
If you work from home or you receive a lot of interruptions from others while you are working, those interruptions can eat into your productivity.  Stopping your project to take care of something else, then having to find your place and get back into it is a major time-stealer!  If you struggle with unnecessary interruptions, put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign.   This doesn’t work if you have customers or clients who need you and you need them, but it helps with children and co-workers if you work in an office.  If you worry about hurting feelings, but you can’t be interrupted, tell the person, “I want to devote 100 percent of my attention to helping you, and I can’t if this project is hanging over me.  Let me finish this, and I can give you my full attention.”  

Avoid Multi-tasking
Trying to do two (or more!) projects at once seems like a great idea, in theory.  However, dividing your focus actually takes an overall longer amount of time than if you would have done one task first, then the second one.  You are also much more likely to make an error if you divide your concentration and having to correct it will waste even more time.  Start a project, finish it to completion, then more onto the next thing.  If you get an unavoidable interruption, focus on that until you can transition back to your original project.

Delegate Tasks
It’s easy to slip into the “I’ll do it myself” mindset.  You know that when you do something, it is done to your specific standards, and it’s hard to let go of that control.  However, if you have employees working for you, you hired them to help you.  Let them help you.  The same goes for kids, too.  If you’re tired of coming home to a messy house, even the smallest child can help pick up the mess.  Don’t be afraid to let others shoulder some of the load.

For more information and great tips on how to de-stress your busy mom life, click here to sign up for my free newsletter and receive a free gift. I also offer a free complimentary phone session if you’d like to take advantage of this opportunity and de-stress your life.

Karen Lynn is a certified Life & Holistic Health Coach and the founder of CoachKarenLynn and the creator of the “From Frazzled to Fabulous” programs. Which helps mom entrepreneurs find health, balance and an amazing life of their own design.

Karen Lynn mentors mom entrepreneurs to create time in their busy days, so they can feel focused, relaxed and productive in their business & their lives. As a single mom who has worked in both the corporate world, and has owned own businesses, Karen understands the challenges that busy working moms are facing these days.  She designs her programs to fit easily into a busy moms lifestyle. She is a Certified Life Coach and Holistic Health Coach, with 10 years experience in the Health & Wellness field.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Biz Mama Series // Remote-Controlling Our Kids

By Ximena Santibañez

Do you ever wish your kids had a pause button, an on/off switch, or a mute button? No guilt or shame, it does’t mean you are a bad mom; nor does it say anything about how much you love your children. There is an explanation behind it.

We are the first fully technologically immersed generations that see TV, the telephone, computers, and electricity as something normal. We were nannied by TVs. We played with computers and video games. We are the generation that added motors to bikes, skates, scooters, and nearly any tool we can think of. 

If we cannot imagine life without electric appliances, the truth of the matter is that our kids may not imagine life without the internet or digital technology. 

But what does this really mean to us? It means that our capacity to wait, endure, and tolerate is diminished. That is why we look for things to stop whatever might disturb us, including a crying baby or the traditional “are we there yet?”. We are used to getting "there" faster and  getting "that" done easier. However, the generations before us did not let us get away with that so easily. The fact that we had access to a dishwasher didn’t stop us from learning how to do our dishes. Nor did we get away with not learning how to do many other manual labors or chores. We had to sit at the table with everyone else, eat what everyone else ate, watch what everyone else watched; and even share not only one phone line, but also a family computer! 

That allowed us to wait, to negotiate, endure, persuade, communicate, and develop more skills that children today don't get a chance to obtain. 

Human beings cannot create and innovate unless we are lacking amusement, fulfillment, supplies, etc. Scarcity and lack are our incentives to make things work and happen.

Just imagine and step into your kids’ shoes for a little bit. What is their incentive to learn if they can Google? What is the incentive to learn Math if they can use an app? Why should they create and imagine when they see that everything has been done and said before? Their incentive is someone so loving that will allow them to be bored. Someone so strong that will rather deal with a messy kitchen and a loud backyard than with her kids being diagnosed with ADHD or depression before reaching their teenage years. Someone so brave that she'll say "no" even though it breaks her heart to hear "I hate you" or see them cry. Someone who will be tough enough to let them experience the world first hand now and then, even when that means some scratches and bruises.

Just like we had those previous generations who taught old rhymes, games, and traditions; now is the time for us to share ours. 

We can share the stories that no video or photo could capture, so that they'll learn some things do not need to be recorded to be remembered. We can introduce them concepts like "friends" and "groups" that you cannot just add or block. The type that you actually need to create and maintain throughout the years, not just when there’s “activity”. We can remind them of the value of "private" and "unique" by sharing with them secrets and deep conversations.

Then, once we have done all of that, there will come a time when we will need to hold their hands and guide them as they start taking photos, and communicating online. We will need to be there when they are joining and downloading, and setting up profiles. We will need to learn about the digital world and new apps with them, as they learn about them.

In the end, we will not be able to block or shut down the digital world that is developing around them. Just like we weren’t able to pause, mute, or turn them off when we were overwhelmed. But we can be present, keep learning, be patient and loving; not only with our kids, but with ourselves as parents.

You can find more of Ximena's work here.

10 Online Tools Your New Business Can’t Live Without

By Haley Brown

 There has never really been a better time to start a business.

Thanks to the Internet, anyone can virtually launch and build a startup or lifestyle business. Just take a look at all these online tools and products at your disposal.

I have personally been using online tools in my business. For most small business owners including myself, the ultimate goal is to overcome the little hurdles in running the business and get more done in the smallest time possible. And I’m a huge advocate for setting your business up for success from the start. If you start out with the right tools, as your business grows you won't need to waste time, money and resources on upgrading them down the track.

So the question is, which tool should you choose? Which one could work best for your business?

Here’s a list of my most tried, tested and trusted online tools, which I’m sure you’ll find helpful in your search to save time and money.

1.    Project Management

Asana practically manages my life. This project management tool helps me organise workloads among my team. You can manage different tasks and assign them to each member of your team, track the progress of each project from start to finish, and even turn conversations into tasks. It saves precious time than constantly communicating with them over the phone or via email.

Trello is another project management tool I use. Compared with Asana, Trello is more visually appealing. Here you can see all your tasks laid out across the screen – like virtual sticky notes on a virtual cork board. You can create boards and label them with tasks and then simply drag and drop items to mark your progress.

2.    Email Management
It's a terrible idea to mix web hosting with email hosting. If one goes down, it all goes down. In maritime tradition, a captain always goes down with his ship. If the ship sinks, well, so long Cap’n!

Your web hosting account is the ship in this story.

Now raise your hand if you’ve never had downtime on a host. I don’t even need to see you to know your hand’s not raised. Every host* – even the top-notch ones – experience occasional downtime.

Now raise your hand if your email is a critical part of your business? My hand’s up. I conduct a tonne of business through email, so losing access to email is more than just an inconvenience – it’s a show stopper.

G Suite
Trust Google to give you the best business cloud apps and collaboration tools. G Suite includes Gmail, Google Drive, Docs and Calendar among others. Here I can easily manage emails, chats and even video meetings.

3.    Proposals

 Better Proposals
When you are running a creative agency, writing proposals can be tricky. So rather than spending hours formatting my proposals, I use Better Proposals. It’s easy to choose from their customisable templates. Once you’ve chosen a template, you can type in your proposal and send them via an attractive email template with your logo on it.

4.    Lead Generation

Who doesn’t know MailChimp? It’s my go-to tool for email automation, newsletter processes and lead generation. MailChimp allows me to easily build my email list and create landing pages for my email leads.

MailerLite may be a lesser-known email automation tool but is actually a formidable contender when it comes to lead generation. For one, this tool features more attractive templates and an easy-to-use landing page and pop-up forms builder.

5.    Accounting

 Wave Accounting
I manage business receipts and invoices using Wave. It has basic accounting features and is extremely easy to navigate. Best of all, it’s free. This is perfect for those who are just starting with their business.

QuickBooks Online
You may find that Wave’s capabilities are limited, so QuickBooks might be your best bet. This software is equipped with advanced functionalities an expanding business will need. The basic plan is incredibly affordable, and you can scale up according to your requirements.

6.    CRM

HubSpot may be better known as a marketing and sales platform but it also has a CRM software. Other platforms can be too complicated to use, but HubSpot is not. Also, the pipeline management system is a gem. It lets you sift through your leads and focus on the quality ones.

What I like about SalesFlare is that it offloads you from the tedious and repetitive task of encoding customer data. This CRM practically fills itself out and syncs contact details with your email, phone and calendar.

And that’s a wrap

These tools have a huge impact on the success of my business. Think of it as the oil to your car’s engine. It makes for a much smoother ride. These tools may have worked for me but it’s also best if you take the time to research and do some trial runs before deciding to invest.

What are your favorite tools? Which online apps and business software you feel you can’t live without?

Haley is the straight-shooting head honcho of Brand Shack, guru in all things websites and branding. Crediting her success not only to her design skills but to her processes and project management that allow her to run her business from wherever her travels take her.

When not backstroking in branding, she loves nothing more than travelling the globe on her quest to find the perfect pina colada.

Ideas On Demand // How To Be Creative When You’re Stuck In A Rut

By Alice McKenzie

For those in the creative industries, it’s a familiar feeling—you can almost hear the clock ticking down to to your deadline, but there’s just nothing going on upstairs. I’ve dabbled in writing in all of its glorious forms, with a background as a copywriter for the advertising industry.

While musicians have songs, and authors have books, my ‘creative currency’ was ideas. If I didn’t come up with a strong idea, then I wasn’t bringing the goods. Talk about pressure. But this wasn’t a problem that I was alone in facing. The more advertising folk I got chatting to, the more I realised that everyone had their little secrets to trick their brains into coming up with something surprising.

You see, the first thing to understand is what an idea really is. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel for every campaign. You don’t have to come up with an entire app that’s going to change the way that people see/use/buy x.

Ideas are just new ways of looking at the world, or specifically, new connections between known things. It’s the ‘known things’ part that few people appreciate. In order to really click, to get people to get it, ideas need to be partly familiar. They need to share a common thread with an audience, a requisite base from which to introduce something new.

So, what do these insights mean?

a) You can draw inspiration from the world around you.
b) Fresh stimulation is going to help you find new connections.
c) Those connections could already be lurking in your untapped subconscious.

It should be noted that while these tips lend themselves to creative copywriting, there’s wiggle room to adapt these ways of thinking to solve just about any business or branding problem. After all, advertising is just solving businesses’ problems, right? Before you can implement any of these methods, you need to be armed with a robust creative brief.

Knowing about the product/service/company is great and all, but at the heart of it should be a unique selling proposition (USP). You know the ones:
X car brings families together.
Y cologne makes you irresistible.
Z paint lasts a lifetime.

One ad or piece of writing should equal one selling point.

1. Just get it down
If you’re not afraid to feel like a total idiot, and can accept that seemingly silly steps are all part of the sacred ‘creative process’, then this one is for you. I’m a fan of the good old Sharpie and A3 sheets of paper, but use whatever brainstorming materials that work for you. Draw 10 blank boxes on your page. Don’t worry about a ruler; these are for your purposes only. Write your USP at the top of the page. This should always be displayed prominently so that you never veer too far off-brief.

Now you want to fill your boxes with the first things that come to mind for this brief, no matter how obvious or stupid. If your mind is racing, fill out 50, or 100. They could be words, drawings, whatever. Your boxes don’t need to resemble print ads; this is just to segment your trains of thought. This method has a number of benefits. Most obviously, it flushes out the cliched first thoughts. It’s a well known truth that you can’t get rid of these niggling thoughts by just ignoring them; after a few hours they’ll return and start to seem like good ideas. Just get them out and put them in the pile.

Secondly, by drawing or writing your ideas, you’re helping your mind to see them as physical things. Shape, colour, texture, spelling, placement—these things can all be the springboard for new connections, which would otherwise have been lost in the depths of your mind. By forcing yourself to fill all the boxes available, you are encouraging yourself to look at things differently. Time restrictions can be a useful (albeit stressful) tool in coming up with new connections.

2. The dictionary method
Flip open the dictionary to a random page. Close your eyes and drop your finger somewhere on that page. This word, no matter how bizarre, is now your central focus: one of your known things. Within thirty seconds of finding your word, start writing. Anything. First person, third person. Fiction, non fiction. Don’t let your pen leave the page for 5 minutes. It will feel dumb. Your writing will most likely be completely senseless, but sometimes that’s all it takes to find something new.

Wade through that shocking excuse for writing, and just see where your brain goes. A slight twist on this method is a personal favourite of mine. If you’ve been given an impossible brief, vent it out through a pen rather than bashing that precious brain against the wall. Using the same non-stop writing approach, write about why you hate your client, what they want you to do, why it’s difficult with that product etc. There’s no greater motivation to write quickly than pure rage, and you might just find that letting emotion in could be the new perspective you needed.

3. Stimulate the senses
It’s quite remarkable how much of a role our senses play in our thinking. If you’re trying to market a particular product, it is a worthwhile idea to see it, touch it, smell it. Use it how it is intended to be used. Try to understand why the USP was chosen. Reading a brief can only give you so much information. It takes a little on-the-ground research to make up your own mind, and come up with genuine ideas. If you want to help the process along, introduce new things into your routine. Walk home via a different route.

Go to a different shopping centre to do your grocery shopping. We tend to filter out the everyday parts of our lives, so stimulating your mind and body with new places can help to spark creative thinking.

4. Give up (briefly)
Only recommended after a few days of solid brainstorming, this is less of a method and more of a necessary step. You’ve been furiously scribbling, and you have piles of paper to show for it. You may have hallucinated once or twice. You’re no longer sure of the difference between a good idea and a bad idea, and oh God you need sleep.

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the point where you’re officially allowed to give up. It might be a few hours, it might be a day, depending on your deadline. You’ve tuckered out your little brain with product overload, so now you need to trust it to do its thing. Do something totally unrelated to your brief. Take a shower. Read a book. Draw. Work on a menial task.

The theory here is that while your brain takes a much needed break on the surface, the cogs are still turning in your subconscious, ready to burst forth with your idea.

Alice loves ideas and hates incorrect apostrophes. She’s the one woman army behind Beetroot Creative, a copywriting service for little brands with big stories to tell. Stalking is encouraged on Facebook and Instagram, or make yourself comfortable at