Thursday, November 25, 2010

Reinvigorate Your Business to Grow It

According to Patricia Ryan Madson, author of "Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up," an effective way to improve your business to take a fresh look at what and how you are doing in your business. Learn to work with situations that used to be interpreted as mistakes in a new light. Improv consultants can help alter a work environment by creating novel situations and encouraging individuals to react in new ways. This addition of humor and decrease of the fear of making mistakes can help reduce tension in the workplace. Ms. Madson and other improv consultants, including a team out of Portland, Ore., called On Your Feet (, are hoping to create "a culture of yes." Developing a culture of yes can allow entrepreneurs to consider ideas that they previously may have discarded. Often "happy mistakes" can occur when one idea opens the door to another pathway of thinking. Robert Poynton, a co-founder of On Your Feet said "if anything, we know rather less about what is coming next, and how it will affect us, than our ancestors did," in "A Turtle and a Guitar Case: Improvisation and the Joys of Uncertainty." The On Your Feet site also refers to a "cool mistake," something seemingly negative that has a positive outcome when interpreted in a different light. As all business owners know, even the best made plans can fail. According to Ms. Madson, "improvisers avoid spinning their wheels because they see quickly what isn't working, or simultaneously, what might be successful that didn't occur to them at first. Improvisers, by definition, take risks and make mistakes, lots of them, but that's what leads them in fresh directions." Ms. Madson acknowledges that this change away from structured planning can be difficult; however, she suggests that this method can still help your business move forward. Mike Kwatinetz, a venture capitalist who is co-founder and general partner at Azure Capital Partners in Palo Alto, embraces improvisational thinking as a way to get companies moving. This way you are reacting to what is happening around you and making appropriate changes and improvements.

Build a stronger business by letting go of the future.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Understand First In Order to Motivate Yourself and Others

According to Parker-Pope, in "In You Find the Motivation, Exercise Follows", in The New York Times, a Consumer Reports survey found that 40% of individuals who own home exercise equipment use then less than they expected. This is a massive population, considering consumers spend an estimated $4 billion on home exercise equipment, yearly. The purchase of home exercise equipment appears to influence whether people start an exercise regime, but research suggests that those with home exercise equipment are less likely to stick with an exercise program, over time. These studies are showing that ownership of personal is not the most important factor in sticking with an exercise plan; rather, self-efficacy is more influential. Self-efficacy is one's true belief that they have the ability to achieve their goals. The journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine reported that individuals who scored high on measures of self-efficacy were "nearly three times as likely to be exercising after a year as those with lower self-efficacy scores, whether or not they owned an exercise machine." Your ability to meet your own expectations was also shown in influence whether you stuck to your exercise plan.

Research has shown that individuals often fail to take these factors into account when they embark on a new exercise plan. David M. Williams, assistant professor at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, suggests the following to help increase your chance of sticking with an exercise plan:
  • work out with friends or family members
  • master an exercise
  • work with someone who motivates you (ex. a personal trainer)
These changes to your exercise plan can increase your confidence and improve your chance of continuing it. Along this line, Ravi Dhar, director of the Yale Center for Customer Insights and a professor of marketing and psychology, suggests that "'most goals we set for ourselves tend to be unrealistically high.'" Therefore, when one purchases a home exercise machine, they tend to focus only on the positive without taking the barriers into account, such as giving up spending time with friends or on the Internet. In a study of undergraduates, those who were guided in making decisions based in the reality of life were willing to spend less money for home exercise equipment, as they understood the disparity in their expectations and what they would more likely accomplish. It is important to understand the difference of an ideal setting and the actual life that you live. Kurt A. Carlson, assistant professor at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke, clarifies that "we're not telling people to stop buying treadmills. The question is how to get the right people to buy them. Everyone else should recognize they don't have the motivation, and take the money and use it on a personal trainer or something else that's going to get them motivated."

Build a stronger business by setting realistic expectations.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Avoid Looking for Excuses

Do you find yourself always looking for an excuse when something goes wrong? According to Edward R. Hirt, a psychologist at Indiana University, "this is real self-sabotage, like drinking heavily before a test, skipping practice or using really poor equipment. Some people do this a lot, and often it's not clear whether they're entirely conscious of doing it - or of its costs." This type of self-sabotaging behavior was coined "self-handicapping" by psychologists Steven Berglas and Edward E. Jones, in 1978. According Dr. Hirt and other psychologists who have studied this tendency, this urge self-sabotage is more common in men than in women. Another study showed that if one thought that they had a good excuse for poor performance, they were predicted to have worse performance, since they could rationalize their execution. This phenomenon was studied by Dr. Dean McCrea, a psychologist at the University of Konstanz in Germany.

Build a stronger business by making commitments, not excuses.