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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Take a Risk with Your Career!

Taking a risk with your career may seem counter-intuitive amid our economic crisis, but according to this article I found on Yahoo! HotJobs, I think it could be a fantastic idea!

"4 Career Risks Worth Trying" by Denene Brox features four "calculated" risks that could mean a brighter future for your career.

"RISK: Going Back to School"

I know this can be a huge investment in time and money, but with all of the online programs now available to us - where we can pay less for a quality education, and come and go as we please from the comfort of home or even the office - it can be an excellent stepping stone to success. As the article states: "...determine if going back to school helps you achieve this goal [a raise or changing career paths] by talking to your boss and mentors." In my business, I've always encouraged my employees to never stop the learning process, and like my company, many organizations will even foot the bill (or at least part of it) if it will add to your value and the value you bring to work.

"RISK: Changing Careers"

I've said this time and time again: do what you love! And the article agrees: "With increased company layoffs, no one is immune to losing a job. Finding work that you love should be a priority in your career." This decision is a biggie, so make sure you carefully examine the pros and cons of a career move, and dig down deep to figure out what you really want to do. Is it something you're GOOD AT as well as enjoy? Consider this carefully because as many of us know, just because we love doing something, that doesn't necessarily mean we're skilled at it (see: "American Idol" contestants during the try-out weeks!)

"RISK: Saying 'No' to Added Responsibility"

At first you might think, "Are you crazy?! Saying 'no' at work?! That's the surest way to a pink slip!" In some cases, you may be right, but the article makes a great point: "If your boss is saddling you with more responsibility with a project or promotion, be sure you understand exactly what that will mean for your success. Not all promotions are created equal, and you can quickly become the office doormat if you constantly take on projects that may not have high enough visibility to move your career forward." I'd like to add a note to this and say, if you do turn down a project, make sure it's for the RIGHT reasons. Too many of us turn down opportunities to advance our careers because of fear - fear of failure, fear of putting our ideas out there, etc. - and that's definitely NOT the right reason. When offered more responsibility, think about it carefully and honestly before accepting or refusing.

"RISK: Starting a Business"

As an entrepreneur, I know firsthand the trials and tribulations (and satisfaction and rewards) of starting a business. It takes total commitment, a willingness to sacrifice, and a LOT of hard work. If you're not ready to say "yes" to all of that - and more - starting a business probably isn't right for you. But if you're ready to dive into the world of entrepreneurship, my best advice is the same as the article's: "Do your research (including health care options), save money, and build contacts in your industry while you're still working in your current job."

Check out the full text of the article here, and thanks to Denene Brox and Yahoo! HotJobs for posting such helpful advice. I recommend that you carefully digest this food for thought if you're stuck in a rut at your current job, if you're ready to take on a new challenge, or if you're wondering where to go next in your career.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Personal Finance - Important Now More Than Ever...

The economy, the economy, the economy...

Aside from the Presidential race, it's the hottest topic in the country right now, and with all of its uncertainty and instability, it's also become a source of fear for our society.

I came across this fantastic article from CNNMoney.com:

"10 Solutions to a Personal Credit Crisis"

It has some sound advice for those of us who've reached for our credit cards one time too many. This info is especially crucial advice for entrepreneurs who may have relied on their personal credit to start and grow their businesses during those first few shaky years.

Here are the tip highlights of the article, written by Jessica Dickler, CNNMoney.com staff writer:

"1. Look at the big picture."
"2. Pay important bills first."
"3. Call your creditors."
"4. Transfer balances."
"5. Quit the cards."
"6. Prioritize paying down debt."
"7. Bulk up your payments."
"8. Check your credit report for mistakes."
"9. Get help."
"10. Start saving."

Read the full article here.

Here's hoping you can ride out this economic crisis and emerge with your finances in tact and thriving.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Don't Forget Small Businesses!

This headline greeted me on CNN.com as I sat down with my morning cup of healing tea:

"Shoppers Stimulate Discount Stores" by Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer

At first I thought, "Good for us. With gas and food prices the way they are, I'm glad we're able to get a little more for less." But when I thought about it further, my heart went out to all of the small businesses out there that are facing empty storefronts as people flock to these discount giants.

What about the small business owners? How can they compete with the "big boys?"

It's a question as old as the first five-and-dime.

At CEOSecretBlueprint.com, I've created a series of free videos that center around revealing the strategy secrets of the "big boys" and I welcome all of you small business owners out there to sign up and check them out for yourself. Remember, I've done my fair share of work with several Fortune 500 companies, and with my birds-eye view into their boardrooms, I've learned a thing or two about a thing or two! As an entrepreneur, I thought it only fair that I should bolster the small businesses around me by sharing those strategies.

So if your business isn't being "stimulated" by the government economic stimulus checks, go to CEOSecretBlueprint.com, check out the videos I've created, and apply the strategies I share to up your game against the business behemoths.

And if you miss out on this opportunity to grow your business, you can still access my library of articles here on michelleydrake.com and purchase any of my entrepreneurial audio series(available on audio CD):

"The Entrepreneur's Starter Kit" - Find out if you have what it takes to start a business, how to name your business (so crucial!) and the pros and cons of partnerships.

"The Entrepreneur's Finance Kit" - *groan* My least favorite part of running a business is the finances, but in this CD set, I try to make it a little easier for you with my tips on hiring a bookkeeper, basic business finance and why it's SO important to the bottom line to write everything down!

"The Entrepreneur's Marketing Kit" - I called on my cadre of experts to share their insights into small business marketing, including Wendy Weiss (the "Queen of Cold Calling"), Michael Port (marketing guru), Andy Wibbels ("Blogging Evangelist"), and Lori O'Brien (Web Solutions, website development expert).

"The Entrepreneur's Office Space Kit" - I can't work in an office that's a disorganized mess or one that stifles my creativity - and you shouldn't either! Learn how to maximize and design your perfect office space with the help of experts Ed Morrow and Natalie Weinstein.

and "The Entrepreneur's Master Kit" - The mother of all entrepreneurial guides, it includes every kit listed above!

Now I'm going to go back to my tea and prepare for the busy day ahead. I may even find time to stop in a local shop or two and treat myself to something new!

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Looking Beneath the Surface of Your Team

Hi, it's Michelle, and I'm in Dunton Hot Springs, Colorado at an amazing, very rustic resort. Well, it's rustic on the outside, but on the inside, it's stunning.

This place made me think about how quickly we make judgments of our teammates the workplace, how we look at someone and we immediately make an assessment, never taking the time to look a little bit deeper to see all of their talents, intelligence and skills.

As managers, we need to make sure that we're not rushing to decisions when it comes to our team members, whether we're assigning tasks or deciding who to downsize. We need to make sure that we're taking the time to evaluate everything that each of our people have to offer: their skills, their attitudes and their contributions.

In so many ways, people bring different unique elements to the workplace; for instance, some people help with keepu up morale more than they help with the actual work of their projects. That doesn't mean they aren't important!

And so this morning, I'm going to practice reserving my own judgments about our itinerary - I'm going fly-fishing! Can you belive it? - and keep an open mind to the experience. Today, take the time to think about people in your workplace and the talents they have that you may overlook and discover the unique value they bring to your team.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Today's Simple Truth from Mom!

"Make sure your team's energy is pointed in the same direction and working toward the same goals!"

When my sons were wee children, they loved to help me around the house. One day, after watching me spray a window with cleaner and wipe it with a rag, the boys decided they would help clean the rest of the windows. Their cleaner of choice? Spit! My mother Mimi found them spitting on the windows and smearing around the slimy mess! Though their "help" actually resulted in more work for me, I couldn't get mad at those happy, innocent faces. My boys honestly thought they were helping me.

It occurred to me over time that my boys' energy and enthusiasm were a good thing! They wanted to help, God bless their little hears. The only thing missing in these escapades was guidance - which I was responsible for providing. By focusing their energy in a helpful and fun direction, it could maybe mean less work for me instead of more.

Every team needs this kind of guidance. The most energetic team you can assemble will be the least productive if everyone is pulling in a different direction. Take the time to make sure everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goals. Don't let anyone "spit on the windows!"

For more "simple truths from Mom," check out my new book

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Creating Systems Will Set You FREE!

Do you have systems in place within your business...or are you re-inventing the wheel everytime a task crosses your desk?

Every Fortune 500 company knows that in order to work consistently and efficiently to have breakout results, there need to be systems in place for all aspects of business operations. No one person can do everything all the time. Tasks need to be delegated, and with systems in place, team members know exactly what steps need to be taken to accomplish certain duties, so anyone who can follow the system and complete the task. Executives I've worked with do a lot with "process-mapping" to really understand how work gets done so they have the opportunity to improve steps within the process and ultimately get greater results.

More "Creating Systems Will Set You FREE!"

For more FREE tips on advancing your career and navigating the workplace, sign up for my FREE e-zine "Lipstick Leadership" at LipstickLeadership.com today! And check out the products I've developed to guide you toward the success you deserve!

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Oscars and Customer Service

Even though I'm currently attending an amazing seminar on corporate sponsorship in San Francisco, I still managed to catch bits and pieces of Sunday night's 80th Annual Academy Awards (the Oscars).

After the red carpet, I basically lost interest and didn't spend much time watching the rest of the show...and apparently, neither did anyone else. According to the ever-popular Nielsen Media Research group, the "preliminary ratings" for last night's 80th Annual Academy Awards are "14 percent lower than the least-watched ceremony ever." (Yahoo! News)


My theory is that The Oscar's lack of success in the ratings all boils down to one thing: poor customer service.

Think about it. If the show (the product) was what people across the country (the customers) wanted to watch, the ratings would be through the roof. Maybe it's time for the creators and producers of the show to do a little market research. Find out what the customers want to see. Mix it up a little bit! While there's something to be said for sticking with a tried-and-true formula in any business, when that formula fails to produce stellar results, it's time to tweak it.

If The Oscars - or any business for that matter - wants to survive, paying attention to the customer and their needs is the key. If people want more jokes and skits, give them to 'em. If they want less long-winded speeches and canned presentations, take them out. If they want the show to be under the three hour mark, re-think the format.

Know your customer. Know their needs. Know what you need to do to create the product/service that fulfills them. In reality, because The Oscars are such an institution, they will probably continue on for years to come - poor ratings or not.

But can the same be said for YOUR business?

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