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Build Trust. Talk About Money

THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC

Transparency is one of the pillars of trust. Trust builds relationships. So, why do so many businesses avoid real talk about money?

  • You see it in job postings. Many times no salary is listed. Can the company provide a salary range? This simple action cuts copious amounts of time from your process. Overqualified candidates know not to apply. Candidates are aware of parameters of the job. And, you do not have to scramble after making an offer to someone who rejects it based on the financial reality of the situation.
  • You experience it in B2B. The web site of a consultant or professional you want to hire for a project has no prices listed. You participate in the initial sales call, and when you ask how much it costs, the answer is, “it depends.” It depends on how many employees you have. It depends, it depends, it depends.
  • Those selling services will often ask a prospective client, “What is your budget?” Many times, the conversation goes back to the example above. “Never mind my budget, what does it cost?”

Why is there so much hedging when business people talk about money? In one word, the reason is TRUST – lack of trust. Trust has not been built in the relationship yet. Each party is afraid that the other party will get the upper hand. So, they both hedge their bets and waste time in a back-and-forth negotiation that can seem never-ending.

In my work both selling my services and supporting clients who are building their businesses, I have found that offering transparence about money saves time, builds trust, and shows people what the working relationship will be like. It is a reflection of the business and the brand of the business.

What does transparency about money look like?

  • In a job posting, the potential employer lists the salary range. When a fantastic client interviews for the position, they say, “I really appreciated that you list the salary range. My salary expectations are near the top of the range, but I applied because I want to work in a place where there is transparency.”
  • In a B2B situation, when asking for the cost of a project, the vendor will say, “Our usual rate for a project like this is $X. That is a starting point for us. If it works within your budget, let’s flesh out the details and I will give you a final number.”
  • For the person selling services, when asking for the company’s budget, it may sound like, “It would be great if you could give me a range for how you budgeted this project. That way, I can tailor my services to your budget.”

In all of these cases, transparency about what things might cost leads to better conversations that are focused on the specific job. The relationship begins in a more trusting space, because someone who is honest about money will be honest about other things. Finally, it saves time, and time is money.

For more information contact Mary Balistreri, The Mindful Business Coach at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com

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Self-care for You

THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC

Sunday I was preparing to watch the first football game of the season. My ritual around the Packers games (I am from Wisconsin) is to plan everything I will do during the game. What will I drink? What will I eat? During half-time, I will make soup or chili. I have all that free time to paint my nails, moisturize my face, get on the floor and do some exercises, make my to-do list for the week. It becomes a wonderful, scheduled time for my self-care.

Obviously, I am a planner. I love to plan and then cross the items off my list. Not everyone is a planner. And, that’s ok.

When talking with clients about finding time to relax and take care of themselves, I find that the definition of self-care varies greatly from one person to the next. Some take great joy in the impromptu. A client recently told me he loves to find an afternoon with no deadlines, and take the time off. The adventure of deciding in the moment is greatly satisfying for him.

Some clients’ self-care revolves around exercise. They feel so good when they run, take a yoga class, go for a walk, etc. They are committed to taking care of their bodies, and the exercise provides an opportunity to clear their head and minimize stress.

During COVID especially, many people realized that connecting with other people was vital to their self-care. Friends and colleagues made a habit of meeting via zoom, calling each other, or texting regularly to stay connected.

What does self-care look like for you? If you have not thought about it, ask yourself these questions:

  • What relaxes you?
  • When is your heart rate lower? For some of us, this is so easy to discover because our fitness watch tells us.
  • When do you feel happiest?
  • Where and when do you feel most like yourself?

Answers from clients range from being with my kids to cuddling with my pets to reading a book. The important thing is to discover what self-care looks like for you, and add more of it to your life.

For more information contact Mary Balistreri, The Mindful Business Coach at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com

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Notice Me! Did You See That Opportunity Run By?

THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC

Scenario: You are having lunch with a prospect. You met two years ago at a trade conference and continued to stay in touch. You understand their job responsibilities, and you think they understand how your services help businesses. When the check comes, you offer to pay and your acquaintance says, “Thank you so much. I would really love to work with you. Our business is changing.”

Possible responses:

  • Some will see this as a green light and dive in to continue the conversation.
  • Some may be distracted by paying the bill and thinking of their next meeting. They may miss the opportunity completely.
  • Some may be pressed for time and will suggest to talk again in a few weeks.
  • Some will believe the prospect is just being nice and is not serious about working together.

The scenario is very real and something my clients discuss with me regularly. How do you know if the opportunity is real? Each situation is as different as the person seated across from you at lunch. The most important realization made by my clients is to respond swiftly. The only way to know, is to ask.

Why would someone not ask? Often our mindset gets in the way. As noted in the last example above, some people close their minds to opportunity. It is a self-defeating habit. Others allow distractions to block them from the opportunity. Their heads are so full with everything that needs to be done next, they are not fully present during the lunch or any part of life. Finally, some are too concerned about what to say next to really listen to the other person.

Here are some ways to respond:

  • Before the lunch, set your focus. Breathe or meditate for a minute in the car or while you are walking to the lunch meeting. Remind yourself to listen, listen, listen.
  • During the lunch, make sure you create space for your contact to speak. Ask open-ended questions, and wait for the answers. If you feel like you are talking too much, you probably are.
  • When the phrase, “I would really love to work with you,” is said, follow up quickly and appropriately.
    • First, acknowledge what they said. “Thank you. I really want to work with you too.”
    • If you are out of time and have a meeting to attend, ask to speak on the phone later that day or the next. “I have another meeting in a few minutes, and I want to hear how your business is changing. Can we talk later today or tomorrow?” Then take out your calendar and book the time.
    • If you have more time acknowledge the statement, then ask if your prospect has more time. “I would love to hear more about how your business is changing and how I can help you. Can you stay awhile and talk about it?
  • If you missed the line during the lunch meeting and remembered it after you got back to the office, follow up right away. Call or email them. “I apologize for running out so quickly, I really want to work with you, too. Let’s schedule some time to talk about how your business is changing. Do you have time tomorrow?”

Leaving an opportunity hanging out there for too long may cause it to evaporate completely. How long is too long? It depends on the person who wants to work with you. Ask them.

Contact Mary Balistreri at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com for more information about coaching and professional development services.

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Collaborative Competitors

THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC

My favorite part of watching the American Ninja Warrior (ANW) competition on television is the attitude. From the contestants to the commentators to the families, everyone cheers for everyone. The attitude is centered in abundant thinking: if one does well, we all do well. If one falls, there is abundant support for them to rise back up. There is always the next obstacle, the next year of competition, the next competitor. (If you have never seen it, it is on NBC).

A recent segment highlighted the relationship of two extremely accomplished competitors who are well known to those who follow the show. The two had started training together, and each wondered what they could possibly teach the other. Their level of mutual admiration was very high. Yet, the one who had more experience with the sport, noted that the other displayed a better strategy or technique for certain obstacles. That individual admired the stamina of the other and learned from him how to save energy. They mutually learned from each other, and the result was that each placed higher in the competition than they had before they spent the time to train together.

The story made me think about relationships at work and in business. What attitude do we take when a friend is promoted? Are we really in competition with a colleague? Do we feel like we are all on the same team? Would we have more success in developing business if we worked together, learned from each other, and shared in the results?

What makes collaboration with competitors work?

  1. Individual mindset. Each individual needs to start with a mindset that is open to learning.
  2. Self-confidence. Individuals need to be confident in what they know and what they don’t know.
  3. Trust. Trust must be present so that each has no fear of showing their weaknesses. The competitors on ANW fail very publicly by falling off the equipment. Some failure in business situations can also be very public. When trust is present, it is easier to admit to errors and brainstorm about how to do better next time.
  4. Listening. Listening is an art. It is important to give equal time to each other so that both parties hear new ideas.
  5. Determining the common goal. Ask each other how collaboration can be mutually beneficial.
  6. Trying new approaches. Not every approach will work, and collaboration often combines the old with the new.
  7. Practicing and tweaking for better performance. Practice is vital in every field. Practice makes for better preparation and execution.

If you are not sure what I am talking about, watch American Ninja Warriors.

For more information contact Mary Balistreri, The Mindful Business Coach at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com

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Set the OOO

THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC

Many of my clients take pride in how much they work, how hard they work, and how dedicated they are to their careers. In fact, they choose to show that dedication by never setting the OOO – out of office message on their emails and voice mails. Their reasoning is that they want to send a message to clients, prospective clients, and team members that they are available 24/7 to handle every crisis that might occur.

How often does a crisis actually occur? What kinds of emails, calls, and messages do my clients actually receive when they are on vacation? Do my clients only respond to the messages that are urgent, or do they reply to everything? These are questions that only the individual can answer. I have had a number of conversations on this subject matter and found that most people feel they are never fully away from their work.

Looking as if you are never away from work creates an image that can create dangerous practices. How far is the leap to actually never spending time away from work? The danger comes from projecting an image that is impossible to maintain and ignoring signs of fatigue and burnout.

While clients and team members do want immediate attention during a crisis, they also want to know the people who serve them. Developing strong relationships with your customers and team includes being human and making space for others to be human too.

Never setting your out of office message is a form of communication. You may be sending some unintentional messages, such as:

  • Everything is important to you.
  • You do not have a team capable of filling your shoes when you are out.
  • Team members may believe you do not trust them.
  • You do not have boundaries.
  • Your work is your life.

Equally important, setting the OOO can be used to send positive messages and build relationships.

  • You value your health.
  • Your team is outstanding and can be trusted.
  • You know the difference between urgent, important, and routine.
  • You are a fully-rounded person with a life outside of work.

Finally, using OOO can present opportunities to promote charities that are important to you and to show support for people who are important to you. For example,

  • I am out of the office today volunteering for ____. I will return your message tomorrow. If this is urgent, please contact _____ who is handling my workload today.
  • I am enjoying the week with my family. I will be back ____. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to the people below who are covering my work.
  • I am spending today with a client. Etc.

Planning your out of office time is as important as planning your day in the office. What messages do you want to send? What image do you want to project? Think it through, and then enjoy the time away being fully present no matter where you are.

For more information contact Mary Balistreri, The Mindful Business Coach at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com

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How Much Is Too Much? Everything in Moderation

THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC

My grandfather seemed old to me from the very beginning. With age comes wisdom, we were taught. I was an observant child who spent more time listening to grown ups than talking to them, and I remembered much of what he said. There were a few bites of wisdom my grandfather imparted to me each time I saw him. One piece of advice that rings true continuously for me is, “Everything in moderation.” He considered moderation the key to all things in life.

As a little girl, my vantage point standing at the foot of the patriarch’s recliner focused on his forearms and white whiskers. He would move those forearms up and down while he talked. “Don’t smoke too much. Don’t drink too much. Don’t work too much,” Grandpa would say in his quiet, raspy voice.

When I meet with clients, I notice increasingly how the fast pace of life and the infinite number of choices we have derail even the most disciplined people. Clients often say, “I am doing too much. I cannot take on another thing. I do not know where to spend my time.” They ask, “Which of these activities should I keep and which ones should I dump?”

The situation makes me think of my grandpa. He would smoke his pipe only on the weekend. He never ate too much, and enjoyed a variety of food. His answer to my client’s question would be something like do what works for you, just do not be extreme in how often you do it.

When clients feel overwhelmed and trapped by all of their choices, it’s time to step back to evaluate. Working with me in a coaching session, we develop a process to determine the value of each action and how it relates to achieving the client’s specific goal. Then we co-create a better plan for moving forward.

The fastest path to achieving a goal may be multiple paths. Especially if several activities are bringing success. The answer to decreasing the stress is often a matter of scaling back rather than eliminating.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, try this. Sit down with a notebook and take the time to assess.

  • Make a quick chart with the headings: Activity, Time Spent, Results, Notes.
  • Fill in each portion of the chart. Activities could be board meetings, prospects for new business, events sponsored by organizations you joined, and so on.
  • Results should be tangible results like “Increased revenues by $X” or “Learned new skill.”
  • The notes column is the place to write how you feel about the activity. This is an opportunity to get to the root of what is overwhelming you. Sometimes, it is not the time you spend doing something that wears you out. It’s the activity itself.
  • When you finish the chart, write your goal above the headings in bigger letters.
  • Then leave it alone for a day or two. Your mind will work on the solutions while you are mowing the lawn or taking a shower.
  • When you come back to the chart, examine it with fresh eyes. Where can you scale back the time you spend on some of the activities? Which activities are not advancing you toward your goal? It’s ok to cut some of those.

Ultimately, the goal of the exercise is to do what works for you in moderation. My grandfather lived to be 95. Take his advice.

For more information contact Mary Balistreri, The Mindful Business Coach at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com

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Evaluating Needs: It’s Personal

THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC

For every business, there comes a time to pause and evaluate. Success can be tricky. Once you achieve your goals, do you run by them and continue continuing? Or do you stop and celebrate, and then continue doing what you did to bring the success?

Once you achieve those goals, please celebrate! Then grab your paper, journal, favorite pen, and comfortable chair. Ask yourself “what’s next?” for you and your business? Clients tell me this is the most dangerous place to be. They fear scaling their business means they will lose their lifestyle, because all the new work requires working more hours. It does not have to be that way.

One of the scary things about becoming successful is you need to evaluate, strategize, and delegate. If you bring in more work, it does not mean you have to work more. It means you have to learn to trust, plan, build a team, and trust the team and the plan.

Easier said than done. What you need for yourself, your business, your team, and your life is not necessarily the same as the things your colleague down the hall or in your business group may need.

I coach a number of emerging and established business people in professional services and nonprofit organizations. As we work together, they learn that the habit of taking a break to reflect, consider, and examine their success leads them to the answers to “what’s next?” for them.

Some of the answers include:

  • Expanding the team to include pricing expertise, executive assistants, or social media experts. In other words, adding people. In some cases these people work with new clients, and sometimes they perform administrative tasks.
  • Purchasing items to streamline the operation. This can include software like CRM (Client Relationship Management) systems, and items particular to the business like computers, machinery, etc.
  • Finding new space in which to operate whether you need a co-working space for sometimes, new real estate to open additional locations, or new facilities.
  • Learning a new skillset. Some clients find that in order to increase business, they need to learn a new skill such as professional development to increase leadership skills or earning a certification specific to their field so they can offer more services to their clients.

The key to the solution is that it solves your particular problem. Take some time this weekend to reflect and write it down.

To learn more about this contact, reach out to MBT More Business Today at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com

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Building Trust: The Essential Factor in Relationships, Leadership, and Business

THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC

Now that I am an empty nester, my pets are my children. My husband and I stayed overnight away from home last week and placed our dogs with a boarder. Each day apart from them, I anxiously looked for news of my babies, Storm and Snow. The boarder sent us an email with photos, and placed pictures on their social media page, too.

The picture of my pups attached to this blog shows their happiness. They love staying over at the kennel, playing with other dogs, and having their own adventure. Venturing out this way even lessens the separation anxiety of my herding dog, Storm. As a herder, she feels responsible for the entire family (the herd) when she is at home. She needs to know what we are doing every moment. Since COVID and working at home became the thing, she leads me to the bathroom every morning and to my desk and computer. Then she can rest on the floor next to me, knowing where I am. In short, staying without us is a vacation for the dogs, too. And, it is a vacation away from us AND the dogs, for our cats.

After collecting information from us, they used the information to provide the service we needed. They kept their promises.

The Client Wisdom Blog

I was thinking about this after picking up the dogs. It made me wonder, “what would it take for employees to come home at the end of a workday excited, smiling, and happy?” How did our kennel create so much trust with our dogs and with us, that we feel happy and comfortable with them? What do leaders need to do to create that environment for their team? And, how can we create that happiness for our clients and customers?

The answer is they know how to build trust. Trust is the key component in relationships. And, as I firmly believe, relationships are the critical ingredient in good leadership and successful business.

Here is what they did:

  • First, they understand their industry and their clients’ needs. They provide a system in their business that soothes their customers’ anxiety. They post photos of the dogs who stay with them on social media every day. When a new customer visits them, they talk about the social media pages.
  • Next, they ask about the clients’ specific needs. On their web site portal, there is ample opportunity to supply information about the quirks and needs of the dogs. They also ask clients how often they want to be contacted while the dogs stay overnight and the best way to send updates.
  • The next step is essential to building trust. After collecting information from us, they used the information to provide the service we needed. They kept their promises.
  • Our experience was the same with each person we encountered in their organization. That means they hired people thoughtfully and trained them well on how to create the client experience that is the company’s brand. The staff clearly understands the expectations and delivers positive interactions.
  • They built a welcoming community. Through email notifications, social media, and good communication with their employees, they tell clients about events, discounts, specials, and changes in the hours of operation.
  • Finally, they were responsive.

We can all apply this strategy to building trust in our relationships.

For more information, contact Mary Balistreri at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com

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Acknowledge Grief in Yourself and Others

THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC

Recently, I woke up feeling depleted. I spend a good deal of time listening to clients and creating a safe space for conversation. Many expressed an array of emotions in response to the headlines all of us experience each day. Anger, sadness, hopelessness, fatigue, disbelief – all can be related to grief.

One of the greatest learning of 2021 for me, number two on the list found in the Client Wisdom Lessons in Action blog, is to acknowledge grief in yourself and others. While working with clients, I remind them to take a step back or away in order to allow themselves to heal. This advice is not an everyday occurrence, and is available when it is needed. I needed my own advice on Friday.

The question rose in my mind, what do I do now? How do I acknowledge the grief?

Conversation with myself, the mindful business coach

While working with one of my clients, we chuckled over the realization that it is often easier to help someone else than it is to apply the information to yourself. We noticed how, when good leadership exists, the top leader models the behavior to those who report to them. Those leaders model the behavior for their direct reports, and so on. It creates the ripple effect of great leadership that leads to belonging.

Here are some steps I took:

  • First, acknowledge emotions. Early in the week I acknowledged the grief my clients were experiencing. I said, “That sounds like you are describing grief. What would you call your feelings?” I acknowledged that I was grieving. I told myself, “It feels like I’m grieving. I need to work on this.”
  • Identify where the emotions show up in the body. For me, I feel tightness in my chest; then my shoulders ache with tension.
  • Find an outlet for the feelings. I used a meditation and visualization I learned recently. I also journaled about the feelings.
  • Rest. I took a nap.
  • Get in touch with nature. I sat outside with my dogs and cats and enjoyed the fragrance of my lilacs and the warmth of the sun.
  • Connect with others. I joined a grief circle. I also phoned friends and relatives to check in with them and talk about our feelings.

How do you acknowledge grief and emotions?

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I Am the Chipped Plate

THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC

The original title for this post was Embrace Imperfection. Strive for Excellence. It was going to be about changing perspectives. The idea started with the discovery of our wedding china.

I am at the stage in my life where I realize I have too much stuff. While looking through the items stored away in the attic, basement, and every hiding place in the house; I came upon a box holding our wedding china. Years ago, when I hurriedly packed up the old set, I could only see flaws.

One of the dinner plates had a noticeable chip on the edge. We never bought a full set before the pattern was discontinued, so we never will. We have four place settings – dinner plate, salad plate, dessert plate, coffee cup and saucer- and a platter. I remember feeling embarrassed by the chip in one plate and the lack of bowls.

Now, many years later, I was overcome with sentimentality for the set when I recovered it from the box in the basement. I remembered picking out the pattern with my soon to be husband. We were very daring in choosing a black, art deco pattern. Those were my thoughts nearly 25 years ago. I love the china now and would be proud to use the set when friends visit for dinner.

I was so proud of my changed perspective. I thought, “I will write a blog about embracing imperfection. We need to change our perspective and embrace our flaws. If we are not striving to be perfect, then how do we succeed? Excellence is the answer. We need to let go of perfection and embrace striving for excellence.”

I had let go of perfection years ago, or so I thought. Several very smart thought leaders tell us that once we believe we have conquered our flaws, there is inevitably more work to do.

When I am very excited or on a deadline for a project, I can become a steamroller. I get very bossy. This is a flaw I thought I had confronted and harnessed. Like the chipped plate, I had just tucked it away.

I gave into false urgency yesterday and turned into a bossy steamroller. The biggest problem with this behavior is that I flatten people without realizing it in the moment. In retrospect, I discerned I lost my self-awareness and hurt a friend’s feelings.

While I tossed and turned unable to sleep last night, I had an epiphany: I AM THE CHIPPED PLATE. Rediscovering this chip in my personality did not bring back positive memories. No warm sentimentality emerged from this chip. As a very wise friend often says, “Everywhere you go, there you are.” Now what? Wallowing in self-disgust is not productive and does not repair the hurt I caused.

In this case, what does embracing imperfection mean? I could shrug and think, “Well, that’s just me.” That is not right. Embracing imperfection does not mean I get a free pass. It does mean I have to accept my flaws (this is only one of many) and take responsibility for myself.

How do I strive for excellence while understanding that the chip will always be part of me? I came up with a few ideas.

  • Own the flaw by acknowledging it to myself. “I was wrong.”
  • Look for the triggers. I was very excited and had too much caffeine.
  • Take action to address the pain I caused. Apologize. “Friend, I know I was wrong, and I am sorry for hurting you.”
  • Try to do better.
  • Remember, it is a process. It is life.

How do you address your mistakes? I would love to hear your ideas.

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Comparing Yourself to Others: Yes and No

THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC

Followers of this blog may have noticed that I skipped last week. There was no blog published during the usual every two week time slot. It was intentional. I took a few days of vacation to enjoy our local film festival last week. The time off had been planned, and became more important to me because I celebrated a success. I achieved a goal, and enjoyed a break.

“Lessons In Action”, a recent blog post, describes the lessons I learned in 2021. This lesson is number seven, “Comparing yourself to others paralyzes action.”

Many of us spend a great deal of time in action. Action is good, unless you run past something that is important to you, your goals, and your growth. Many of us also spend a great deal of time comparing our progress towards our goals to the progress of others. This can become a habit that is dangerous to your progress.

When I work with clients at MBT More Business Today, I first ask them about their aspirations. Beyond today or a few months from now, what do they aspire to achieve in work and in life? During these conversations, many clients articulate their goals in terms of the achievements of role models. This is a fun process! Clients will often combine bits and pieces of the people they admire while fleshing out the entirety of their aspiration. Focusing on the attributes and accomplishments of others in this way is a good and healthy practice.

However, things can go astray when clients feel unworthy because they compared themselves to the progress of someone who seems to be more successful. Sometimes, clients become frozen. They express the feeling of hopelessness. They start to speak in terms such as, “I will never do it”, and, “I always do something wrong.” When the always and never reveal themselves, it is time to take a break.

In the opening paragraph, I mentioned I had achieved a goal. The days before, I was in the always and never space. It caused confusion for me. I was not sure what to do except sit with the confusion. Then, in the normal course of my life, a seed I had planted and watered sprung to life. I felt overcome with emotion the next day! I paused to feel the emotion and celebrate by embracing the few days of vacation I had already planned.

It made me think more deeply about comparison. Like most things in life, it can be beneficial and destructive. It is important to intentionally look for a balance.

Here are a few tips:

  • How do you feel after you compared yourself to someone? If you are motivated, it is probably a good thing. If you feel unworthy or stuck, take a pause.
  • Write down how you feel.
  • If you feel bad, concentrate on positive things. What went well for you the past week or month?
  • Take out your plan. Do any of your accomplishments match your goals?
  • If they do, pause to celebrate.
  • If they do not, think about the next action to take.
  • Remember, each action will take you closer to your goal.

How do you celebrate your achievements? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

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Good or Memorable?

THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC

My husband and I ventured out for a fancy dinner on my birthday. On the drive home, ranked the meal in our Top 10 of all the meals we have enjoyed in our 25 years together. What characteristics put this one in the Top 10?

We have enjoyed many memorable experiences through the years. The price tag of the meal does not guarantee a spot in our best meals list. Some of our most loved nights out happened during a quick bite at a chain restaurant. The date itself does not have to be a celebration. The temperament and humor of any guests who join us is most certainly a factor, but not the deciding factor.

The factor that joins our Top 10 together is the way the experience made us feel. The servers do not need to go above and beyond. The food does not have to be the best we ever tasted. The ambience does not need to be the height of elegance. We need to feel valued, respected, satisfied, and comfortable. When we feel all these things, the event will surpass the category of a good night out to become a memorable experience.

The clients, customers, vendors, and employees of a business will also decide whether they enjoy working with the organization based how the experience made them feel. Maya Angelou famously said, ” ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

As a business owner or leader, how do you know what impact you are making? Do your employees and team members feel like they belong? Do your clients feel valued? And, what about you? Are you happy and satisfied as a business owner or leader of a business?

Based on our recent experience, here are some tips to answer the questions above:

  • Check in with clients and staff regularly throughout a project. “Is everything to your satisfaction?” is a question our servers and hosts asked us often, but not too often.
  • Deliver on time. All our food was the right temperature and arrived right when we needed it.
  • Provide the best possible deliverable or product you can create. Each course arrived at our table delighting our senses – sight, smell, taste, and texture.
  • Watch for signs that needs are not being met and anticipate new needs. Our servers would look in on us to gauge our needs, filling our water glasses without interrupting the flow of our conversation and asking for feedback with each course. In business, stay in touch with client needs by asking questions and listening to the response. Discuss future goals with everyone who touches your business – clients, employees, vendors, etc.
  • Ask for feedback. Our servers asked, “What did you enjoy most?” and “What else can we do to make this experience the best it can be?”
  • Finally, check in with yourself once in awhile. What made you feel valued this week? What needs to happen to make you happier or more satisfied?

By creating a sense of belonging in your business, you will deliver a memorable experience.

Contact Mary Balistreri at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com for more information about coaching and professional development services.

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Reset and Re-Center

THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC

People are tired, flustered, in need of break. Clients expressed these feelings in February and March. Many judged themselves, because they took breaks from work at the end of 2021, and felt worn out again after just one month of the new year. The feelings echoed one of the lessons I learned from 2021 – Lesson 6. Take A Walk Outside.

While brainstorming around this challenge during a recent mastermind for business women, one of the participants suggested we go outside and hug a tree. She chuckled at the idea, and told a story about how the one action helped her to reset and re-center herself.

When I work with clients, we discuss a variety of ways to take a moment to stop the constant action of daily life and think. I had never actually hugged a tree. I gave it a try.

What did I feel? Silly. I was worried at first that my neighbors would see me out there. What would they think of me? It was 24 degrees outside. I shook it off, shaking my arms and my head, and tried again. After a minute or two, I laid my head against the bark. I felt lighter. Slowly my limbs relaxed and my mind emptied. Wow!

When I returned to the house, my thoughts were of Spring. I saw myself sitting outside in my garden surrounded by roses, hostas, lillies, and lilacs. I smelled the beautiful peace of existing outside and watching the birds. Ahhh.

It worked! Here are a few additional suggestions.

  • Obey your smart watch and breathe deeply for one minute.
  • Take a walk outside.
  • Download a meditation app and spend 10 minutes per week using it.
  • Journal for a half hour.
  • Write down your accomplishments for the month.
  • Go for a run or exercise.

How do you reset? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Contact Mary Balistreri at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com for more information about coaching and professional development services.

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Business, Leadership & Understanding

THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC

Our last blog focused on the need everyone has to tell their story and to be heard. This is universal. Listening to another person, whether to build a client relationship or to build a team, is a key skillset that rewards you with greater success. Listening to yourself is also key to understanding the needs of your team and your clients. Finding the hidden thought processes that keep you from realizing your potential is essential to your success.

When MBT More Business Today opened at the end of 2020, I categorized our services into three buckets: coaching, professional development training, and DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging). The lessons from 2021 revealed that DEIB is not a separate service, it is part of all the services. As a friend said to me at a recent networking event, “Inclusive leadership and business is not a separate thing. Inclusion is business!”

She was right. As I pondered the future of MBT, I decided our brand as The Mindful Business Coach is Building Belonging into Business.

Clients who seek out are services are looking for ways to succeed while staying true to their own values and needs. My clients needs to feel comfortable with how they interact with their clients, their prospects for business, and the teams they lead.

Think about this. The first step in running a business is to look inward. What do you have to offer that is of value to a customer? How do you want to conduct your business? What is important to you? What do you value?

The next step is to look outward. Who are your customers? What do your customers need to succeed? How does your offering meet their needs? Who do you need as a business owner or leader to service those needs?

When you ask yourself these questions, you create a circle of understanding. Understanding the people, including yourself, who contribute to the circle creates the arcs that connect the pieces.

There are a multitude of ways to gather the information that leads to understanding. Here are a few suggestions to try:

  1. Listen to yourself and to others.
  2. Read.
  3. Meditate.
  4. Research.
  5. Talk to people.
  6. Ask questions.

How do you learn and understand? Feel free to comment below.

Contact Mary Balistreri at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com for more information about coaching and professional development services.

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Everyone Needs To Tell Their Story and To Be Heard

THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC

Several years ago for Valentine’s Day, my husband Steve gifted us with the mugs you see pictured. Before I could become insulted, he explained that I was “weirdo” and he was “weirdest”. When we first met, we bonded over the fact that neither of us belonged. In fact, when a mutual friend introduced us, she told me, “You will really like this guy. He is weird, but really cool.”

My entire life I found myself in the interesting position of having friends from all different groups while not belonging to any of them fully. In high school, it played out with the stereotypes: brains, jocks, pot heads, theatre groupies, and the popular kids. I also had friends in a religious retreat group for the Catholic Archdiocese. I ran that group for two years, but I never felt like I belonged.

My husband has his own story, but by the time we met each other, we had both concluded we were weird. I worked in corporate America and found success, so my husband deemed me a little less weird than him.

While coaching individuals several years ago, I learned the concept of being in the wrong room. Sometimes the goals and aspirations of an individual do not match those imposed on them by their job or an organization they joined. When agreeing to serve on a board, I would advise my clients to make sure their values and mission align with those of the organization.

“Maybe I am just in the wrong room. That is why I don’t fit in here,” some of my clients remarked. Some of them even suggested that I myself was in the wrong room. They saw the efforts I made to create change, and the frustration in my reaction when I was unsuccessful.

The idea impacted me, and I shifted my thought process to look for the right room. I believe in equality for each person to live and grow freely to reach their potential. My quest for the right room included a deep immersion into learning about our country’s true history of slavery, colonialism, white supremacist structures, racial equity, gender equity, the treatment of indigenous people, and a better understanding of the inequities affecting the LGBTQ+ community. The more I met people who were focused on equality and justice, the more comfortable I became with myself.

I am in the right room now. I discovered that I am not weird. I am me. Steve has discovered the same. He is not weirdest. He is Steve.

The more I listened to people during 2021, whether we were talking about social justice or leadership or business, the more I discovered the great need of each person to tell their story. As a coach, I was prepared to ask questions and wait for a response. Sometimes the magic happens in those moments of silence during which individuals are connecting their past to their present.

How can each of us take this lesson from 2021 – each person needs to tell their story and to be heard – and turn it into action? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Before making a conclusion about someone’s comments or behavior, take a moment to be curious. Ask them, “I am curious, what is going on with you?”
  2. Spend time each week thinking about your own life. What were you taught as a child? How does your childhood impact your view of life, leadership, and business?
  3. Sit down with a friend or colleague and ask them to tell you their story using the same questions listed in action 2 above. Then listen.

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Lessons in Action

THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC

Readers and subscribers may have noticed there were no new Client Wisdom blog posts since the end of 2021. These two months of 2022 bounced into action, and I deliberately carved out my writing time to think and reflect. I wanted to be mindful in my approach to the blog.

In 2021, my clients taught me and learned from me. Each lesson rippled through my mind spreading to create greater reflection and broader awareness. Learning and listening became the themes of 2021.

We all have watched the effects of a drop of water in a pool of liquid. We have heard the analogies many times. The ripple effect describes my 2021. Each new thought, idea, and lesson propelled me forward in an incredible journey of self-discovery, using my listening skills to better understand people, learning and absorbing stories of individual and cultural hurt and trauma, and clearing away the brush to create new pathways.

Reflection and action are my focus in 2022 and for the Client Wisdom blog.

Here is a partial list of the lessons I learned. Each blog post will focus on one and end with action for us all to take. If you are interested in reading more, please subscribe.

  1. Everyone needs to tell their story and be heard.
  2. Acknowledge grief in yourself and others.
  3. Optimism is transformative.
  4. Detours can be good.
  5. Bravery is all around.
  6. Take a walk outside.
  7. Comparing yourself to others paralyzes action.
  8. One baby step, one bite of the elephant at a time.
  9. Everything in moderation.
  10. Rejuvenate.

I would love to hear what all of you subscribers learned in 2021. Feel free to comment or send me an email.

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Archives

Please note that posts from 2021 are archived below. Expect a new Client Wisdom blog post tomorrow, February 24, 2022.

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2022 Plan: Set Goals & Steps

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THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC

Two weeks ago, we took out a notebook and acknowledged 2021. That exercise creates the tone for 2022 and makes creating the plan for the new year easier. If you missed it, take a look at Acknowledge 2021 before starting this activity.

Revisiting your plans and aspirations is imperative to growth. Even with a three- or five-year plan, new experiences creates new ideas, opportunities, and challenges to consider before moving into the new year. When I work with clients, we revisit their plans regularly in order to adjust to changes in their thought process or environment. Annually, we enjoy the beauty of shedding the challenges of the past and creating a fresh, improved path.

There is a critical link between planning and success. As you work through the steps below, remember to look back at the notes you took during the ACKNOWLEDGE exercise.

Grab your notebook and let’s get started!

  1. What are you trying to achieve in 2022? This is the overarching goal for the year. When you look back at your plan in December 2022, what success do you hope to see? Write it down.
  2. Create ways to measure your success – SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-driven) goals. Write them down and keep them in a place where you can see them every day.
  3. Create an action plan based on the SMART goals. What actions will move you toward success?
  4. Execute and evaluate. Throughout the year, execute on the plan, and take the time to evaluate along the way. What needs to change as the result of the new information your actions bring?
  5. Succeed. You can if you execute on the plan.

Reach out to me if you need support putting your plan into writing and then executing on the plan.

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Acknowledge 2021

crop man holding glass ball against forest trees
Photo by Rahul Pandit on Pexels.com

THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC

Before sitting down with the blank page to plan for 2022, take the time to acknowledge 2021. The triumphant moves, the losses, and the strategies that produced lukewarm results.

Here is what you will need.

  • A notebook, a journal or laptop.
  • Your favorite pen.
  • A favorite spot for thinking and planning.
  • Your financial spreadsheet, calendar, daily journal. Grab anything you use to keep track of your activity and results.
  • Your “me” folder. The “me” folder is a collection of thank you notes  and compliments you receive from others. This could be a virtual folder or a physical one. If you do not have one yet, start one in 2022.
  • Time. This activity can be done all at once (give yourself a few hours) or over a few days.

Consider the following prompts and take notes after each one. The notes will help you write up your plan for 2022. You can sift through them and decide what strategies or activities  you will  keep and which to dump.

  • Assess: Overall, what kind of year was 2021? Think of one or two words or themes that come to mind.
  • Celebrate: What wins or successes come to mind? How did you measure that success?
  • Kick back and enjoy the positives. Give yourself the space to congratulate yourself. Tell someone about it.
  • Evaluate Needs: How do you feel about your successes? Did you fulfill your needs as you articulated them in your previous plan? Were you on the right path for yourself and your business? What went unfulfilled in 2021?
  • Be Open to different ways to evaluate yourself. If you categorized something as a failure, is there a positive way to reframe it? Did you achieve the most important goals? Some of the activities you had no time for may be part of the 2022 action plan.
  • Weed through the year to find clarity. Were you distracted by anything in 2021? If you veered onto a new path, did it fulfill a need? Think about how much action you can execute in a given year. Did you do too much or too little in 2021?
  • What did you Learn.? Some of the greatest ideas come after a perceived failure or a big success. Create a list of the most important things you learned in 2021.
  • Determine your strengths. Looking at 2021, which strengths did you use the most? Which strengths did not get a chance to shine? Did you discover a new strength or develop a new skillset?
  • Generate a list of the obstacles that came between you and the execution of your plan. This will help you create strategies to overcome or avoid the challenges in 2022 that blocked your progress in 2021.
  • Empathy: Finally, have empathy for yourself. Acknowledge that you did your best in 2021.

In two weeks, we will talk about starting anew and writing the 2022 plan.

Contact Mary Balistreri at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com or schedule a free consultation using Calendly.

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Self-care at Work

THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC

We talk about self-care as something we stop our work, whether at home or at the office, to do. We pause to meditate, have a glass of wine, buy ourselves a gift, or exercise. What if self-care at work was about the balance of giving and receiving?

I was a client working with my own coach last week. During our discussion of self- care, I was sharing all of the things I did and needed to do. I tend to be a giver. Not surprising, because most coaches find satisfaction in helping, supporting, and guiding other people toward success. The realization during my coaching session was that balancing giving and receiving in my work is self-care.

Rather than stopping my day to give myself the gift of a quiet pause or a treat, what if I let myself receive from others? I pondered this for more than a minute. What could I receive from others?

In my case, I realized I was spending time working on things for others (not clients) rather than working on the activities I needed to accomplish to develop more business for my company. Specifically, I procrastinated on the tasks of asking my connections to introduce me to people in their network. A colleague had invited me to look at her connections and ask for introductions that would be valuable to me. What was I waiting for?

After some self-examination, I realized I am more comfortable helping other people than I am asking for help. I can stop and eat a bag of chocolates to congratulate myself for accomplishing my work, but that is not self-care. What I need is to ask for the help that was offered to build my business.

What does self-care look like for you in your workplace? Pull out your journal and favorite pen, and answer these questions.

  • Do you tend to give more to others at work? Or do you receive more frequently?
  • Are you more comfortable giving or receiving? Why?
  • Looking at a standard day for you, what is missing?
  • Are there tasks you avoid completing? Which ones and why?
  • What would balance the day for you?

The answers to these questions will guide you to a solution. Balance is an important part of each person’s work life and home life.

For more information or to discuss this blog, reach out to Mary Balistreri at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com or schedule a free consultation through Calendly

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Abundant Thinking at Work

THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC

We rise together. We grow as a team.  Insert a cliché – a rising tide lifts all boats; when one wins, we all win; two heads are better than one – and the meaning is the same. If we work together, we have a greater chance of succeeding. The question in business is, “what keeps us from working together?”

When working with clients at MBT, I hear one answer to the question, “Why don’t you work together on developing business?” The answer most often is, “Because we are in competition with each other.”

The structure within organizations often sets up a dynamic that pits individuals against each other. Healthy competition is a good thing and motivates people to perform. In less-healthy dynamics, competition creates favoritism, cliquey cultures, jealousy, and hopelessness.

The key to abundance is meeting limited circumstances with unlimited thoughts.

Marianne Williamson

Much has been written about employee engagement and what is important to employees. You may have heard:

  1. People need to understand their contribution to the business and know that their contribution is valued.
  2. People want to be part of a winning team.
  3. People want to understand and be energized by the values of the organization.

What limits your team members? Look at the three things that are needed to engage employees. Do any of those resonate with you, because you know it is a strength or an obstacle for your team?

To embrace abundant thinking, an individual must be ready to let go of the obstacles and limitations that stand in the way. For a team to think abundantly, all members of the team must be ready to let go of limitations. What obstacles prevent your team from thinking abundantly? Here are some examples: Team members will find it difficult to be a cheerleader for a colleague when they believe that person is constantly rewarded or acknowledged. If the “favored” individual seems to receive the best or most visible projects, others on the team may believe there is no reward for quiet, hard work.

Think about your team and answer these questions:

  1. Are there written descriptions of the roles of each team member and what it means to succeed in each job?
  2. Does every member of the team have access to the descriptions and full understanding of the impact they make as a member of the team?
  3. Do individuals acknowledge the success of others on the team?
  4. How does the leader acknowledge success?
  5. Do team members bring problems and ideas to the leader?
  6. Are there insiders and outsiders on your team? Why? What could the leader do differently to be more inclusive?

Now close your eyes and visualize a shift to abundance thinking with your team. What does that look like? Individuals cheering for each win regardless of who succeeded. The team finding ways to solve problems without being limited by what happened in the past. Collaboration among team members who are motivated at work. What does your abundant picture look like?

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Measuring Resilience: Individuals Hold the Power to Define and Improve the Team

THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC

As a coach, I hear from the management of businesses that individuals need to work on their resilience. “They are not resilient!” leadership will say. They say this because it seems individuals “become disheartened easily” when pursuing work or because they “do not rebound quickly” from losing a client or making an error.

Let’s look at the wording used by the leadership. What is meant by “disheartened” to the leader making that observation versus what it means to the person who is observed? What does “quickly” mean to the organization versus what it means to an individual who is part of the team? Who decides what it means?  

It is critical to define these words so that everyone involved has the same understanding. After all, it is the individuals on the team who have the power to improve themselves. The measure for the improvement should be focused on how the individual was performing previously compared to how that person is performing now.

Therefore, if a number of team members improve, the team improves its performance. It raises the bar for everyone.

When the leader refers to “quickly”, is there a standard that has been communicated to the employee? If not, there should be. Quickly could mean one day to management and one week or one month to the employee. How does a person show that they are “disheartened”? This is another case where the leader’s assumption may not be the truth for the employee.

Here are a few tips for leaders to use when understanding how their team members can improve performance:

  1. Take a baseline measure. To meet your business goals, what does the team need from each person? As the leader, you set the boundaries. That is your baseline. Then look at the team members, what is their current baseline? If we are talking about recovering “quickly” from a setback, your expectation may be two days and the individual has shown it takes them two weeks.
  2. Communicate your expectations and listen to feedback. Once you determine what you are seeking, make sure that your team understands the boundaries. Explain what you expect of them.
  3. Consider altering your expectation based on the abilities of the team members. Listening to your team and adjusting the boundary shows strong leadership. It also builds trust.
  4. Discuss how to achieve the results you are looking for when the boundary is adjusted. As the leader, you are still responsible for the team’s performance. Collaborate with them regarding how to achieve goals.
  5. Ask. Do not assume. Have the tough conversations and ask people what they are thinking, feeling, and needing. It opens doors to stronger relationships.

One last thought, talk with your team about resilience. What does it mean to them? When did they experience it or witness it? What do they need to be resilient?

Contact Mary Balistreri at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com to discuss these concepts in greater detail.

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Self-Improvement Is Exciting AND Scary: What are you afraid of?

Photo credit: Copyright Dr. Seuss “What Was I Scared Of?”

THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC

Some of my clients at MBT More Business Today inspire me with their fearlessness. They seem to crave feedback. They expect feedback to be brutal and approach it with a “bring it on” attitude. After digging deeper, they realize self-criticism shows up as a motivator to improve themselves. They have already told themselves the worst things they could imagine, so hearing criticism from others is actually easier to handle.

Other clients have the opposite reaction. They go silent. Rather than continuing to dive into our sessions, they disappear. Apologizing for disappearing follows and, usually very quickly, they follow through by canceling appointments or attempting to push off their coaching sessions until “things calm down” a bit.

In a previous blog, we talked about how to “Eat the Frog” every morning. Grabbing the one thing you do not want to do and executing that action item first, before addressing anything else, every day. The reason that practice works is because you finish the abhorred chore before anxiety, and ample time for worrying, makes it even harder to approach.

In this blog, we examine why you are afraid. Let’s discover what is beneath the attempt to take on the pain of criticism as noted in the first example or run away entirely as the second example suggests. Fight or flight are both defense mechanisms. They are natural and primal ways that human beings protect themselves. In the old, old days of primitive man, using a fight or flight strategy properly was essential to survival. In our world today, both our personal lives and the business world, these strategies may have served us well and helped us survive socially and in our careers.

One of my favorite stories as a child, and now as an adult, was Dr. Seuss’ “What Was I Scared Of?” I used to call it “Those awful green pants with nobody inside them story,” as a kid. I was afraid most of the time as a child. So, I was fascinated by the idea that those pale green pants were just as afraid of the narrator in the story as the narrator was of them! And, I was inspired by the fact that they became friends at the end. In the end, the narrator comforts the one who caused all that fear. To me, it is a picture of self-soothing and self-love. If you have not read it, pick up a copy.

Now, as an adult, think about how you respond to change? How do you respond to self-improvement? Is it scary to learn what others may think of you? Does the idea that you may not be perfect cause fear and anxiety? Do you avoid working to grow and change for the better? Or do you beat yourself up with negative thoughts about yourself so much, that you do not flinch when receiving negative criticism.

As usual, my first suggestion for clients, and for all of you reading this, is to pull out your favorite notebook and pen so that you can write a few things down. Once you are settled into a comfortable safe spot, think about your answers to the prompts below.

  1. What is your reaction to change and self-improvement? Fight or flight? Are you comfortable with change?
  2. Think about times you experienced intense personal growth. It could be when you were promoted to a position where you started managing people for the first time. Or it could be when you took on personal responsibilities in your home. Write down how you progressed from where you were to where the journey ended.
  3. What was the best thing about the journey? What was the hardest thing? How did you feel when it ended?
  4. What were the benefits of the journey?
  5. Now, what do you want to change today?

Give yourself some time to think about it, and have a great day!

Contact Mary Balistreri at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com for more information about coaching and professional development services.

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Beyond the Diversity Month: Now What?

THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC

Did you know that September is Suicide Prevention month? Hispanic Heritage month started September 15? February is Black History month? October is National Disability Employment Awareness month?

Chances are you do know about the focus of various months throughout the year. The human resources department or diversity committee within your organization may write an article, host a panel, or offer a brown bag luncheon to raise awareness. Many thought leaders on social media will speak and write about the focus of the month and raise awareness.

As an inclusive leader, you may participate in these things to broaden your cultural intelligence and model the behavior of inclusivity to your team. You may share the information with your team and invite them to attend a webinar together.

My question is, now what? What happens when the focus months end? Do you go back to business as usual? Do you move on to the next focus?

First, I applaud all the inclusive leaders who broaden their understanding of people by reading the articles, attending the brown bag lunches, and listening to the panel discussions. These are the first steps to make toward understanding people who are different from you.

One of the keys to being an inclusive leader is making a commitment to being an inclusive leader. The commitment is first to yourself. You may even choose development of inclusivity in your leadership style as a personal goal.

The second commitment to make is to others: to individuals who are different from you and to your team. You have started by seeking to understand the members of your team. As you move forward with creating a diverse and inclusive team, the next step is to think about belonging. Do the diverse members of your team feel as if they belong?

I often hear from my clients, “People of color, and LGBTQ people and women, continue to leave our organization. We make strides with our diversity numbers, so I know we are doing a good job with recruiting. What else can we do?”

This week, rather than giving you a list of action steps, I am giving you a list of action questions.

Actively think about the following. That means schedule some time to think about the following. When you finish, spend some time asking your team members for their thoughts.

  1. What opportunities do you offer diverse individuals on your team?
  2. Who is assigned to projects that create the highest visibility in your organization?
  3. Who is missing from your team?
  4. When you are in a meeting, is there a diversity of people and ideas in attendance?
  5. When meeting with your team, does each person contribute?
  6. Is there equity in pay among team members?

If you are interested in learning more about making a commitment to being a diverse leader, attend the October 8 session of “The 6 Cs of Inclusive Leadership”. You can register here.

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Business & Leadership: It’s In Your Mind

From The Client Wisdom Blog Published by MBT More Business Today LLC

What does mindfulness mean to you? The first words that pop into my mind and those I have heard from clients are:

  • Awareness
  • Internal
  • Thoughtful
  • Careful
  • Balance

Now add the words business or leadership after the word mindful. Mindful business means to be thoughtful about what? Mindful leadership means to be aware of what?

Some leaders choose to be careful to bring awareness and inclusiveness to their teams. Some business people are mindful of how they balance building relationships with producing outstanding work product, and being careful to understand the company’s and the individual contacts’ needs.

Here is an exercise to help you define mindful, mindful business, and mindful leadership for yourself.

  1. Grab your favorite notebook and your favorite pen. My beautiful journal is etched in colorful flowers with a black background. I choose to write with a smooth, gel liquid pen that holds black ink. Think about the writing implements and surroundings that bring you peace and creativity. What will you choose?
  2. Now, what words come to mind for you when you think of mindful business and mindful leadership? There are some examples above. Which ring true for you or what else would you add to your list?
  3. Reflect on how these words influence your actions. Write out your thoughts until you feel you have finished. For some people, it could take five minutes. For some, it may take two hours. Do not worry about the time. It will take as long as you need it to take.
  4. Shelve your notes for one day. If it is helpful for you, put an appointment on the calendar for yourself to return to the exercise.
  5. The next day, read through your notes. Adjust them until they best reflect your thoughts and your commitment to your mindful business and leadership approach.
  6. Write down three things you will do, change, or stop doing to align with your commitment.

Remember, the power to be a successful business person and leader is in your own mind. You define the terms. You execute on the commitment you have made.

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Find the Win Win Win in Building Relationships

From Client Wisdom Blog published by MBT More Business TodAY LLC

More than once lately, I have opened my screen door at home and found a bag of bras tucked between it and the door. Each occurrence caused me to laugh out loud and say, “aw, how sweet,” to myself and no one else in particular. The cause is the bra drive I am running for the month of August to benefit all the organizations who receive the products from The Bra Recyclers. The people who leave the bras for me are friends and business contacts who also believe in helping women with this simple donation.

You may have heard, “you have to give to get,” in sales or in life. Some of my clients find that phrase insincere or even predatory. They strive to be authentic in everything they do whether at work or in their home life. Authenticity will shine through when you are giving because you care about the cause. People will react to how you behave and determine your intent from your actions.

One former client told me they grew numerous lasting client relationships by working with the clients to volunteer for non-profit organizations. “It’s a win win win!” the client said. “I get to spend more time with the client doing something I enjoy for a favorite cause. The client gets the extra help working at the food drive to benefit a cause that is important to them. While we are working on this project, we are building a stronger relationship by sharing something we have in common. And the food bank gets more volunteers gathering resources for them!”

Authenticity and commitment are vital to the success of this relationship building method. For my client in the example, they are passionate about helping people who experience food insecurity. Their passion for the cause is evident in how they behave. When they recruit additional volunteers, they say, “We are so excited about the number of organizations that are donating this year! We will be able to feed more families than ever. Want to be a part of it and help put together the packages?”

Someone who was not passionate about giving their time may say, “We have to be there at 9 a.m. On a Sunday! Do you think you can do it?” The “have to” tells you the volunteer is not excited. Maybe they should find a different cause to combine with building a client relationship.

This relationship-building technique works well in strengthening a team. Ask your team members about themselves. If they were to volunteer, where would they put their time? Gather consensus and take on a project that benefits a non-profit business together.

If you ask people why they are passionate about a specific cause, you will often find there is a personal connection. In the case above, it could be the enthusiastic person was homeless as a child. Someone may volunteer to raise money through the Alzheimers Walk, because a parent possesses the diagnosis. And, so on.

Here are some tips for adding this winning strategy to your relationship building plan:

  1. Think about your own life. What has impacted you? Is there a cause or organization that receives your support?
  2. Look at your calendar. How much time do you have each month to give to a volunteer effort?
  3. Look at your prospects and clients. Do you know which causes are important to them? If you do not know, ask them? Have they asked you to volunteer?
  4. Spend an hour or so determining where to spend your time. Is it possible to work side-by-side with a client? Co-chair a committee? Look for sponsors?
  5. Talk with a few prospects about how you can collaborate and help an organization.
  6. Decide where you will volunteer your time and how.
  7. Promote the project/organization/event through social media.
  8. Do it!

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How Your “Why” Impacts Your Business

Those who follow me on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram may have noticed that I am running a Bra Drive for the month of August. Basically, I am collecting bras, and, hopefully, inspiring others to do the same for The Bra Recyclers. Their mission focuses both on sustainability – eliminating some textiles that would otherwise wind up in landfills – and humanity – supplying women who are in transition from domestic violence and human trafficking with a basic item that is so important to their survival.

A friend asked me, “Why are you doing that?” meaning the bra drive. The answer for me was simple and automatic. Because I want to help Elaine Birks-Mitchell, CEO & CSO, and her company, which helps women who are transitioning from domestic violence and human trafficking. Obvious. What was less immediately obvious to me, is that having a bra drive fits in perfectly with the Why for my business. If you have not watched the Simon Sinek TED talk about the Why, here is the link, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qp0HIF3SfI4. This concept was transformational for me years ago when I first watched the talk, and it has been in my thoughts ever since.

Even my husband, Steve Thompson, who is a massage therapist and self-admittedly NOT a marketing or business guy said, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

I am a coach. Coaches enjoy supporting people to find their individual path to success. As a coach, I support others in the search for their Why and how it co-exists with their business. For me, the simple question “why are you doing that?” led to the creation of my mission statement.

MBT More Business Today LLC is passionate about supporting individuals, teams, and businesses to reach their goals through thoughtful, mindful coaching and learning that is rooted in belonging, using the tools of Emotional Intelligence (IQ) and Conversational Intelligence (CIQ).

MBT Mission Statement

Many clients of mine have struggled with the balance between their passion and making money. The secret is, you can do both. If you have a “non-profit” heart, as one MBT client said of me, you can find ways to support people and also pay your bills. My business strategy is to gain 80% of my income from clients who are able to pay the full rates for my services, and 20% from non-profit businesses or those who work for non-profits. For them, I have a discounted rate. (To see a few of the packages I offer, please take a look at the page on my web site here). I also plan to work 10% of my time with individuals on a pro-bono basis. Not faulty math, I tend to give 110% at work. Truthfully, I have an Excel spreadsheet that maps out the hours I work and the types of clients so that I can meet my goals. I also create SMART (Specific Measurable Attainable Relative Time-driven) goals so that I know when I have succeeded.

How about you? If you are looking for how your Why impacts your business, take these steps.

  1. Take a few days to think about and keep track of what motivates you. Where is your passion? What is your Why?
  2. Once you are clear about your passion, ask yourself how your current work world fits into your vision of the Why. How does what you do follow from why you do it?
  3. Think about your brand as a mission statement. Take a look at the MBT More Business Today mission statement above for help. Write your own mission statement.
  4. What are your goals now and what actions do you need to take to achieve them?

If you still need help, why not donate a bra and take advantage of the $100 coupon? We can find a package that fits your needs. Just e-mail me at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com to discuss further. Remember, my mission is to help you!

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Follow Up & Follow Through

If “80% of success in life is showing up,” as Woody Allen said, then the next move seals the deal.

Clients pose the question “what now?” after meeting someone at a networking event or having a meeting with a prospect. At this point during the coaching process, clients talk about what they learned from the people they met by using their EQ (Emotional Intelligence) and CIQ (Conversational Intelligence).

The illuminating pieces of information clients noticed during networking or a business meeting impresses me. “I could tell he was focused on relationships, because we talked about our families before talking about business,” one MBT client told me. Another said, “She was all business and told me to cut to the chase and tell her what results she could expect and in what timeframe.”

These bits of information guide clients toward making good decisions regarding how to follow up and follow through. Big kudos to these clients for understanding the individual so they can craft the next step and conversation. However, when I ask how much time has passed since the client spoke with their contact, the answer often is, “That conversation was great, but it was six weeks ago.”

A key differentiator for successful people is their commitment to following up. Business people are quite literally leaving relationships on the table by not following up in a timely way. What is timely? Within 24 to 48 hours. If more than five business days has passed, there needs to be a new look at how to reengage the contact. Follow up is a differentiator because most business people are not disciplined about doing it.

Here are some tips:

  • Before you attend a networking event or schedule a meeting with a business contact, determine your goal for meeting with them. What do you want to achieve? If you do not have a goal, don’t attend that networking event or schedule that meeting. Schedule something that moves you forward toward your goals.
  • If the meeting is one-on-one or with a few people, start an e-mail to them before you go to the meeting. Subject line could be: Thank you for your time today. When you get back to the computer, finish it with specific information to move the conversation and relationship forward.
  • If you are attending a networking event, create an e-mail that you can personalize later. “It was great to meet you at fill-in-the-blank event today. I wanted to follow up on our conversation about fill-in-the-blank.”
  • If you received a task that will take more than 24-48 hours, send the follow up acknowledging that. “I am putting together the information you requested and will have it by fill-in-the-date.”
  • Before you send any e-mails, or text messages, or LinkedIn messages, think about what you learned using your EQ and CIQ. What is the best way to communicate with this person? Craft the message using that information.

Most importantly, follow up and follow through!

Contact Mary Balistreri at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com for more information about coaching and professional development services.

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Bringing Home the Business: Formulas for Success

During a training session focused on developing business, a participant asked me to give them the specific steps that would lead from meeting a prospect to closing the sale. “We should not even have this training,” they said. “Just write us a list of what we are supposed to do, when to do it, and what questions to ask to land the work.”

Have you ever talked to a salesperson on the phone or in a meeting who was clearly reading from their reliable script of how to get you to buy? What was your reaction? If you are like most, you lose interest because it is all about them and what they are selling when the focus should be on you.

After coaching many clients regarding building business relationships, I have proof that there were many formulas for success. Individuals who succeed tend to focus on their strengths when pursuing business. Their strengths are different from the strengths of others, so their formula for success may seem different on the surface. The most successful ones also know that each potential client, individual contact, and organization has their own likes and dislikes. There are so many variables.

Here are examples of different formulas:

  • Learning what is important to the client and giving it to them.
  • Learning how the client likes to work with vendors and adapting your deliverables to their liking.
  • Learning what is hot in the client’s industry, and supplying information to them about the trends.
  • Asking the client questions about all of the above in order to be responsive to their needs.
  • Understanding the organizational structure and processes. The contact may want to buy the product or services, but; the timing is bad for the company, they are not the decision maker, there are complications they cannot discuss with you, etc.

I really described only one formula: A + L = D. Ask questions plus Listen and hear the answers equals Deliver the right environment to satisfy the clients needs, objectives, and trust level in order for them to buy from you.

People get caught up in the algorithms, because behavior should be predictable. Actually, the greatest highs and lowest lows happen with the unpredictable.

As one of my clients used to say, “It’s all fluid.”

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Capacity: How much – work, marketing, studying, networking, fill-in-the-blank – is enough?

Clients express worry and doubt over a number of different obstacles that disrupt their action plans. When building relationships with business prospects, the fear is they will bring in more work than they can handle. They will tell management that they are worried about capacity. The response from their manager is often, “That is a good problem to have. Just keep doing what you are doing and it will all work out.”

That kind of response often increases the anxiety and stress of the individuals and teams. It is a de-motivator.

Taking a mindful approach to business means understanding your capacity, that of your team, and of your organization. It is a process to learn to be both aspirational and practical in order to adjust the scale of the work you are doing appropriately.  The capacity grows and changes along with you.

The meaning of the word “capacity” may bring different connotations to people. Take a moment to define “capacity” for yourself. When you say, “I do not have the capacity”, or, “my team does not have the capacity,” what do you mean? Here are some examples of different meanings I have heard:

  • “Capacity means the amount of activities I can handle over a specific period of time. The literal time it will take.”
  • “For me, capacity means the number of different kinds of activities I can handle. The ability to wear different hats.”
  • “The mastery of a skill or mindset is what I mean when I say I don’t have the capacity. I feel out of my comfort zone or overwhelmed.”

Once you have determined what the root of your worry around capacity is, the next step is determining whether the obstacle is real or stems from an assumption you are making. Why are you reacting the way you are? Clients often realize they create overlays of assumptions that they add to situations because of past experiences. It is important to sift through that with your coach and decide whether there really is an obstacle.

If it passes the reality test, the next step is to plan. Scale or adjust the tasks in front of you with your vision for success. Take a look at the plan you wrote in order to make that comparison.

Then, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do you need to overcome the obstacle?
  2. Are all of the activities and items that create the obstacle necessary for you to reach your goals?
  3. Which items can be removed?
  4. How robust is the team? Who can handle more to free up time for you and for others?
  5. Looking farther into the future, how can you plan to meet the obstacle? Do you need to hire? Do you need to train more people?
  6. If the obstacle is learning a skill, what plan can you make to tackle that one piece at a time?

Use a calendar to schedule smaller actions that move you closer to the goal. And remember to breathe.

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Was it something you said? Learn the Language to Get and Keep the Business

After losing a pitch for business that seemed in the bag or winning one that seemed like a long shot, my clients often wonder what they did or said that made the difference. I encourage them to follow up and ask for feedback, and sometimes they get the answer. Why leave it to guesswork, though? Preparing for conversations – a business pitch should be a conversation – will help eliminate some of the guesswork and create a higher win rate.

“I wish you could be a fly on my shoulder during this pitch so you can tell me what to say and help me read the room,” MBT Client.

One of the ways I work with clients to prepare them for a business pitch or a meeting with a prospect is through role playing. No need to dress up in costume, but we do try out the voice of the prospect in order to best understand how they will respond. In order to be most productive, my client must spend some time getting to know the prospect and understanding what they need and how to deliver the service and the communication in the right way for the prospect.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

I learned from my training as a Conversational Intelligence (CIQ) Coach that Words Create Worlds. Each individual you meet brings with them their personal experience, cultural experience, work experience, and internal conversation to the conversation they are having with you. A simple word like “success” means different things to different people and to different organizations.

A leader within my client’s top management once said to me, “Why do you have to spend time discussing success with the people you coach? Don’t all of them just want to make more money?” The answer was no. Each person I coached to increase their business had their own picture of success. Money was a factor, if it had not been, they would have looked for a different kind of coach. However, it was seldom the only factor.

Likewise, a prospect for your business may have multiple reasons for contacting you and a plethora of unknown criteria for choosing to work or not work with you. That is why it is so important to learn about your prospect, their business, and their picture of success. Learn their language. In order to do that, you have to ask questions and listen.

Here are some tips:

  1. Ask open-ended questions. Instead of, “Does your business need my services?” Ask, “What experiences have you had with this area?”
  2. Listen. Are you listening to what someone said or thinking about what you will say next?
  3. Ask them what they mean by a word they use. Maybe it is as simple as, “I really need to achieve my goal.” Ask, “Tell me more about your goal.” Or “How are goals set in your organization?”
  4. Look for other signs of your prospect’s personality. Do they like to talk about their family? Are they always in a hurry? Do they need time to process information?
  5. Work with a coach to discuss your approach with the client before making a business pitch.
  6. Spend some time role playing the conversation.

Preparing for the conversation or meeting is more important than creating a powerpoint.

Contact Mary Balistreri at MBT to work on having better conversations by emailing mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com

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Eat the Frog, and Other Ways to Execute On Your Business Plan

A common obstacle many of the clients at MBT face is time or the perception of time. “There are not enough hours in my day to do business development!” Or, “How can I use my business development time most efficiently so I get the biggest ROI (Return on Investment)?” Clients share their thoughts about how time is an obstacle in many different ways.

But is time an obstacle? Or is it the perception of time and the perception of the value of an activity that creates the obstacle?

When I work with clients, we discover their strengths and what ways are best to capitalize on those strengths. Clients need to feel authentic while furthering business relationships and developing business contacts. They tell me that.

As we sort through the need for authenticity and the value of the bus dev activities, we realize that some activities may not be their favorites, and those actions are necessary to develop business. So, they must be accomplished.

Mark Twain said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” My clients decide which bus dev activity they dislike the most, and plan to “eat the frog” first thing in the morning. Then, they can relax into the rest of their day and know they made some progress.

There are as many likes and dislikes of bus dev activities as there are different types of people. Here are some examples of the “frog” according to my clients:

  • Asking a friend to talk about business.
  • Attending a networking event.
  • Talking to a client about a new service they may need.
  • Asking for feedback.
  • Writing an article or a presentation.
  • Connecting with a new contact via LinkedIn.
  • Giving a price quote.

In some instances, eating the frog may mean setting up a meeting rather than completing the full activity. For example, a feedback session can be requested and scheduled first thing in the morning, and occur at a later date. At least the asking was completed!

What about you? What is your “frog”? You can drill down to find out by following these steps.

  1. Make two lists.
  2. On the first list, write down the times you are the happiest when developing business relationships.
  3. On the second list, write down when you are most uncomfortable developing those relationships.
  4. Look at your goals (see The Beauty of the Blank Notebook post). Which activities are essential to achieving your goals?
  5. Plan to execute on your plan in a way that creates balance for you.
  6. Execute.

Every day, Eat the frog.  (For example: Ask for Feedback.) Then reward yourself. (For example: Have coffee with a contact you enjoy.)

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Let’s Talk Business

from Client Wisdom Blog published by MBT More Business Today LLC

Let’s talk business next time we meet. What is your reaction to that statement? How do you feel when a contact says it to you, and how do you feel when you plan to say the same to one of your contacts?

Even when it is a question, “Can we talk business next time we meet?”, some of my clients hate asking that question. It is too “salesy” for them. Some clients are more comfortable forming relationships with contacts by getting to know them on a personal level. Others are more comfortable talking exclusively about business when meeting with potential and current clients. And, for some, their clients are their friends. They talk about everything.

All of these reactions are valid. Each client who engages me is an individual. Part of the coaching I do is to support clients in finding their authentic voice to use when developing business contacts and when developing their teams.

The key to having a business conversation and how to phrase the question is the personality of client or contact. Just as many of my clients have different reactions to “Let’s talk about business next time”, so do their potential clients.

As MBT clients plan for meetings with their contacts, we prepare by:

  1. Talking about the strength of the relationship. Is it solid or developing?
  2. Discussing what they learned about this person and their company? Are they open or conservative in divulging information.
  3. Most people love to talk about their jobs. Determining what approach is best when asking this person about their business.
  4. Then, we often role play the conversation. This gives the clients an opportunity to try out different questions to find the ones that are most comfortable and authentic to them.
  5. Finally, we develop a goal for the meeting. This is helpful in determining whether the meeting was a success. A goal could be as simple as learning more about the person’s business.

So the next time you want to talk about business with someone, think about:

  • How has someone asked you to talk about business? It could be an insurance person or your bank.
  • What did you like and dislike about those questions?
  • When are you most comfortable talking about business?
  • When does your contact seem to be most comfortable talking about business?
  • Then, decide how you will proceed.

Most importantly, do proceed! The only way to succeed is to take the risk and ask a question. If you do not ask, game over.

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Overwhelmed By Advice

from Client Wisdom, a blog published by MBT More Business Today LLC

Once clients begin to explore the world of self-improvement, they often express feelings of anxiety and annoyance over the barrage of free advice offered on social media, and sometimes even in person from colleagues, friends, and family. Be mindful and meditate. Have empathy. Take this assessment or that one or the newest one. Which podcasts are the best? Or my favorite, just relax!

My clients bravely opened the door to learn more and improve themselves. Now that they are more open, they notice the plethora of new information and it sometimes makes them shut down. It can be a hindrance to their progress toward their goals.

What can they do to combat this onslaught? I suggest deciding two things:

  1. What offers the most value to move toward their goal in their current circumstances?
  2. Which improvements/ideas are most important and interesting to them?

That may sound obvious, but everyone needs a reminder now and then.

“Who am I and what am I  trying to do?”

MBT client

This is a good time to take out the goals, SMART goals, and action plans clients wrote out for themselves (see The Beauty of the Blank Notebook as a reminder). Or maybe they hung that plan right next to their computer so it is easy to find. 

If you are struggling with the avalanche of self-improvement ideas being shot at you daily, here are a few thoughts to ponder:

  1. Remember, you control your life.
  2. When determining where to concentrate your time, ask yourself:
    • How does this area of focus fit in with your goals?
    • What are the expectations at your job? Will the time spent here help with projects, relationships, and expectations at work? If everyone at work is reading a particular business book, you should read it, too. Likewise, what concepts are grabbing your clients interests? Do they coincide with your interests?
    • Will concentrating on the area you have selected also improve your life outside of work?
  3. How much of your time can you realistically spend keeping up with outside ideas while continuing to move yourself forward? If you are a person who is easily distracted, you may maintain your boundaries by scheduling time for outside reading and also for working on the area of self-improvement you have chosen. This practice will keep you on track.
  4. And, finally, give yourself a break! Work at your own speed and keep moving forward.

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How Climbing the Ladder of Conclusions Undermines Growth


During my training as a Conversational Intelligence (CIQ) Coach, I learned about the Ladder of Conclusions. I was very fortunate to study under the creator of the CIQ concept and The CreatingWe® Institute, directly, Judith E. Glaser.

Some conclusions become almost automatic fallback thoughts that hinder our development. Here are a few I hear from clients:

“I can’t follow up with that contact, because I already have too much work to do. What if they want to give me more work?”

“I must have done something wrong. I have not heard from that contact since they said they wanted to engage us.”

“I can’t reach out to that person because they did not respond to my e-mail of a few months ago. They clearly don’t like me, don’t want to talk to me, (fill in the blank).”

“I know my meeting with my team will not go well.”

During coaching, I discuss climbing up the ladder of conclusions and how to prepare your mindset to optimize conversations and the impact you make. Being mindful of your thoughts, reactions, and beliefs is the key to taking control of your impact on other people and on yourself.

If you look at the illustration of the ladder, you will see how quickly you can climb it to make an assumption or come to a conclusion. The ascent starts with bio-reactions and feelings that you may not be aware of. If you find yourself at a conclusion such as, “I know this conversation will not go well,” stop and retrace your steps. How did you come to that conclusion?: Did it start with an upset stomach? Were you feeling uneasy or anxious? By practicing self-awareness, you can impact those reactions and come to a different conclusion. “This conversation with my team may be difficult, but if I am open to their input, we could make some progress.”

Practice your awareness as you climb the Ladder of Conclusions (©Benchmark Communications, Inc. and The CreatingWE® Institute)

  • Step One: Bio-Reactions happen automatically and can be present without your awareness.
  • Step Two: Feelings. Pause and take stock. Your teeth are clenched, why? What are you feeling?
  • Step Three: Thoughts. After you named the feeling, what thoughts were automatic? Delve a little deeper before you reach Step Four. Can you redirect your thoughts? Can you replace a negative thought with a more positive one or something more cautionary like, “wait and see”?
  • Step Four: Beliefs. Without pausing to be more aware, your belief can follow quickly up the ladder to a conclusion that holds you back from succeeding. Can you use your thoughts to change your belief?
  • Step Five: Conclusions. Think about which trail you followed. The initial trail set in motion by a negative bio-reaction? Or were you able to change course to a more positive, less anxiety-inducing conclusion?

Self-management and controlling a climb up the Ladder of Conclusions takes practice. Take a look at the tasks, meetings, or people in your day. How can you impact the assumptions you draw that keep success at bay?

Contact Mary Balistreri at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com for more information.

Contact Mary Balistreri at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com for more information about coaching and professional development services.

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Silence, Listening, and Your Business

Listening is an important skill to use thoughtfully to develop business. One of my clients is well loved by his clients. They trust him and he gives them everything possible to supply great work and the best client service. He often calls me to discuss a conversation that is coming up and tells me everything he plans to say to the client.

During the coaching session, I will remind him to stop talking long enough for his client to respond to what he is saying. Each time, it is a revelation for him. He is so caught up in his need to convey information, he forgets that the other person is part of the conversation. And that person is the one who is buying his services.

My client is grateful for the reminder to make a statement, and then create space for silence, to give the other person a chance to think and respond. He confirms with me that he is much more effective when he remembers to listen. He also learned to be more comfortable with silence. During the silence, his client has the opportunity to think about what was said.

Some individuals who are process-oriented need time to think and digest information. Some people are impatient to get to the next idea and are quick to respond. It is vital to make room for silence so any person you speak with has a chance to engage and be heard.

The impact for another one of my clients was a big win of new work. While I helped her prepare for a meeting with a possible new client – the second phase of an RFP (Request for Proposal) process – I reminded her to pause and take a breath after conveying information. She is a fast talker. She is uncomfortable with silence, and like many people talks to avoid any dead spots in a conversation. By taking that pause, she noted the potential client asked questions of her and the meeting was much more of a conversation. The impact was the development of a relationship and the trust to win her the work.

Here are a few steps you can take to insert a pause in your conversations and become more comfortable with silence.

  1. Prepare for conversations before you have them.
  2. Write down the major points you want to make during the conversation.
  3. After each point, write the word BREATHE or PAUSE to help you remember to create space.
  4. During the conversation, check yourself to be sure you are listening rather than planning your next statement.
  5. After the conversation, critique yourself: What did you do well? What would you like to improve?

Contact Mary Balistreri at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com for more information about coaching and professional development services.

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Focus: How to discover what you want

aerial photo of empty meandering road in between forest
Photo by Kelly Lacy on Pexels.com

“Serendipity is not a strategy.”

MBT client

A client of mine views each session as a question mark. When asked about her goal for the session, she shrugs and says, “Let’s just talk and see where it goes.” Other clients shrug when discussing their overall or long-term goals. They see a daily or annual goal easily, but find it difficult to articulate an ultimate goal and how to own it. As one client used to say, “Serendipity is not a strategy.”

For example, a sales executive may adopt the company’s goal for them as their own. The company wants them to hit the goal of $X that quarter. They may embrace the goal because the success is directly tied to their bonus or compensation. That is their motivation, and that is ok. However when asked about their personal path, they may shrug. They are thinking about what is in front of them now rather than what is possible for them.

During coaching sessions, I may say, “Tell me about your best days at work. What does that look like?”. Clients often express their frustrations and what causes them anxiety. That seems to be easier than identifying what they really want or how things could be different.

Understanding individual wants and needs helps clients grab control of their career. I often hear from clients, “I stayed too long in that position, but I was not sure what should come next,” or “No one offered me a different path, so I just kept doing what I was doing.”

I suggest taking a look at your life annually. Confirm you are on the right path for you, or adjust the path if you are frustrated or unhappy. Here is how to get started.

Ask yourself:

  1. When are you the happiest at work and in your life?
  2. How do you get more of that in your day?
  3. Visualize what needs to be different in order to have more of that happiness in your life?
  4. Write down your ultimate goal. Articulate what is possible in your life.
  5. Celebrate. If you are on the right path, stop and congratulate yourself! If you have identified changes to make, think about your next steps.

Think about what is possible for you!

Contact Mary Balistreri at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com for more information about coaching and professional development services.

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The Beauty of the Blank Notebook

Taking time to plan and revisiting your plans and aspirations is imperative to growth. When I work with clients, we revisit their plans regularly in order to adjust to changes in their thought process or environment. Annually, we gain inspiration through the blankness of the new notebook page. The beauty of shedding the challenges of the past and creating a fresh path brings excitement and exhilaration.

In these times when we shed the old, my clients and I first take a moment to acknowledge the accomplishments of the past. For my clients, that can mean celebrating promotions, increased revenues, mastery of a new time management habit, and seeing the effects of a positive change.

There is power in writing it down and saying it out loud. As we discussed in the blog about Mindset – What You Tell Yourself, convincing yourself of your ability to achieve something is an important step in achievement.

My clients emphasize the critical link between planning and success. They are especially appreciative of working with me to articulate their overall goals and then to create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-driven) goals so they can measure success.

Listed below are the steps in the process.

  1. Determine the primary goal, objective or focus. What are you trying to achieve? Write it down.
  2. Create ways to measure your success – SMART goals. Write them down and keep them in a place where you can see them every day.
  3. Create an action plan based on the SMART goals. What actions will move you toward success?
  4. Execute and evaluate. Throughout the year, execute on the plan, and take the time to evaluate along the way. What needs to change as the result of the new information your actions bring?
  5. Succeed.

Looking forward to filling up the blank notebook!

Contact Mary Balistreri at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com for more information about coaching and professional development services.

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Manage Your Time. Execute Your Plan

Working with a business or leadership coach is much like working with a personal trainer, a client told me. One of the keys to your success in executing your leadership, business, or exercise plan is accountability. Who tells you that you missed an action item you promised to do?

Will you really do 20 squats, 20 push ups, and 20 burpees every morning if you do not have a personal coach who expects a full report from you each week? There are some super humans who can say yes. For most people though, the answer is no. The personal trainer will know by your muscle tone whether you executed your plan in the same way your business coach will know by the tone of your voice during your touch base meeting whether you attempted to make contact with your clients that week or solicited feedback from your team.

Following up and following through are critical to success. The bottom line is we all need someone or some way to stay accountable for our action items. We all need some help moving forward to reach our goals.

Having a plan and action items in place helps clients manage their time. They learn there is enough time to accomplish their action item. It is often a small step to move forward. As they complete step after step, they gain momentum and begin to roll rather than crawl toward their success.

Clients tell me that seeing a meeting with me on their calendar helps them both remember what they promised to do when we developed their plan and to actually do what they agreed to do. They feel accountable to me, but the plan is not for me. The plan is for them. The promises they made are to themselves. Ultimately, they decide whether to be committed to themselves.

Here are some additional ways to hold yourself accountable:

  • Find a buddy and schedule recurring meetings to touch base with each other.
  • Make lists and finish the tasks on the lists.
  • Give yourself deadlines and stick to them.
  • If you need help, talk to a coach.

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Mindset – What You Tell Yourself

A client of mine was stuck on how to handle his working relationship with a good contact. He was afraid that reaching out with information about services he could offer would be inappropriate or bothersome. We analyzed the relationship on multiple occasions. There were no signs from the contact that indicated annoyance. The relationship was strong. We role played conversations searching for the right tone my client could take in asking for a meeting to discuss business. He still felt uncomfortable reaching out.

Suddenly, months later, he pushed himself to forget his excuses for not reaching out and he made the call. To his surprise, his contact was excited to talk to him about working together.

He realized his own thoughts were the only things that held him back from advancing the relationship forward. He had spent hours arguing with himself in a conversation where the other party had no voice. Unfair to himself and to his contact.

Think about the stories you tell yourself. Do they hold you back? Do they cheer you on? You can increase your chances of success by taking control of your mindset.

1. Start by writing out your thoughts in the morning. This helps take off the edge by getting thoughts and frustrations out of your head and onto the paper.

2. Next, write down your hopes for your day. What are the outcomes you want to achieve?

3. Finally, think about what you need to do to achieve those results.

Take the time to express your thoughts and guide your mind to work with you. Be your own ally.

For more information about how coaching can help you, contact Mary Balistreri at mbalistreri2@wi.rr.com

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