Developing a sales business mind – The Numbers Game (Part 3)

In my Previous blog, I finished off with the statement:

“…In business and especially in sales, we cannot allow ourselves to be influenced by emotions/reactions/frictions – we have to ground ourselves and be consistent within our daily application. Having a ‘WHY’ is of great support if the ‘why’ is genuine and can stand the test of time. The test of time, meaning – when the ‘why’ is so strong inside yourself where it doesn’t matter what you face, it won’t change who you are and what you stand for/as. So, if you are in sales and you haven’t yet allocated your own individual ‘why’ – I suggest you take a moment and find inside of yourself your ‘why’ to support yourself in difficult times. By having the ‘why’ and understanding the ‘number game’ (which I will explain in my next blog) – nothing is impossible…”

One of the first things that you learn as a sales person is the term ‘numbers game’ – the more prospects you identify, the more contacts you make, the more appointments you have, the more sales you make. Though, if it was as simple as that, we would all have been rich by now won’t we?

When I first got a direct sales job, my boss wanted to measure my level of commitment or, in other words – he wanted to see how far I will push myself to make the business work and in that, what creative ways I could come up with to make it work. He called me 2-3 days before I started my first day and he asked me to prepare a list of 500 potential clients before I come to work. Obviously, I didn’t know 500 people and even if I would, the people that I knew would not fit the company profile as potential prospects. But, I accepted the challenge and jumped right into the deep water. Little did I know that the list was a test to measure my commitment, creativity and strength, but more importantly, it was for me to recognize my ability to stand, direct and create meaning, the list was not so much for my boss, but more for me – to eliminate any and all excuses that may come in the future where the statement: “I have no leads” can be valid and instead break through my own limitations to discover the ability to create.

I spent the weekend making lists of people and contact details with the most incredible help that I found – Google; and by the first day of work – I already had an extensive lead data base to start working with. When I got to work on the first day, I was briefly trained in the marketing approach, the value of the product that we sold and 2-3 hours later, I was already making phone calls to schedule appointments. Obviously, I was terrible in my real time application, it was so awful that I felt so embarrassed inside myself. But, I had a ‘why’ in front of my eyes – I couldn’t give up even though I really wanted to. With the support of my boss, who is a master in direct sales, I learned from the mistakes I made and made it a point for me to investigate what went ‘wrong’ and align it the next time; basically, I had to realize that perfection is not something that you are born with – it is something I must create and become within myself through walking the process of making mistakes, learn from the mistakes, align and correct in the physical reality.

The next problem that I faced was with not completely and effectively understanding the ‘numbers game’ principle and thus, I went into the energy cycle during the first 3 months as I explained in the first blog post of this blog series. See, in my mind, because I had an extensive lead database, I believed that I had already played the numbers game, little to no result actually manifested – I was able to schedule appointments and met new people, though the people that I did meet up with, were not the type of clients that were suited for our company and so, my effort was in vein essentially.

For example, the first 500 contact details list that I created was very random and if I would to look a bit deeper at the details, I would have seen that 450 out of the 500 names were not qualified for the type of business that we did at all. That means that I spent all this time making phone calls to 450 people, meeting with a few of them, hoping that the ‘numbers game’ principle will work for me and when that didn’t work out I opened the door to access the energetic cycle.

Here, I had to understand that hope, cannot take place in a business – I must know the product, know my prospect clients and specify my application to success or otherwise, I will waste my own time

The clock was ticking as there was a ‘why’ that I had to accomplish very fast which to me was the number 1 priority – I was at the breaking point, but I could not allow myself to give up – I had to push myself forward and reach my goals. So I sat down with myself and brain storm my options – by the end of the day, I created a new marketing approach to a new market that was never tested/walked in the office – it was a long shot, but there was nothing much to loose – I had to create a plan to work in the right market and apply the numbers game. I spent a lot of time in lead generation because that was the heart of the business – if I had no qualified leads, there was no business to build. I found lead generation to be the most time consuming part of the business, the most boring part of the business, the most down motivated part of the business AND the most expensive part of the business. Though, if following through the process effectively, specifically and consistently, the lead generation phase turns into gold, which is the most rewarding part of the business.

Once I focused the lead generation phase in the right market, with the right people, an interesting thing happened: I still played the numbers game though I had to put in less effort than before (when I worked with the 500 random people list that I made before I started the business). Meaning, previously, I called maybe 100 people, seen 10 people and closed 1 sale. Now, with the focused market list, I called 12 people, met 4 people and closed 2 sales. Thus, with understanding that the game must be played within the right market, my effort and creativity was specific and the only real challenge was to find 12 new prospects every week, though, it wasn’t a struggle anymore because 12 people, is not a lot to ask for.

So the point here is to understand the relationship between the numbers game principle and the energetic cycle that a salesperson goes through when not applying the numbers game effectively, specifically and consistently. It is very easy to blame the business or the product/service and make so many excuses and justifications in the mind as to why the business isn’t working for oneself. Though, in self honesty one has to ask oneself at the end of each day: Did I apply the numbers game effectively – did I generate new specific potential leads today? Did I schedule appointments today? Did I have an appointment today? If any of these questions answered with a ‘no’ then you must realize that you didn’t apply the numbers game effectively and you will soon enough access the energetic cycle because you allowed yourself to sit back and stray from your purpose, from your ‘why’.

I often hear people that are in the process of giving up that they have done everything in their power to make their business work yet, they keep on failing. When opening up the point with them, there are underlying currents of excuses, justification and projected blame as to why they are not making it in sales. This has primarily to do with the main 2 components that we discussed thus far- the ‘WHY’ and ‘Effective Numbers game’ application.

I looked at this point and the process that I’ve walked and I found that there is one more primary component that needs to be realized and applied in one’s process of developing a sales business mind – the Comfort Zone – this will be discussed in the next blog post.

This blog was written by M. from South Africa.

Am I asking the right price?

Am I asking the right price?I’m sure most of you will have walked the same issues in business about pricing as me, especially when it’s you who owns the business and you who sets the prices. If the price is too low your basically giving away your stuff which makes yourself unreliable. If the price is quite high we need justifications for why it is that high, and we almost never see that the value, is within that what we’re giving the other.

Since I’ve started my first company I’ve always had doubts about the price of my services or products. When I was asking not enough, I could see how I lost money, and when I would ask more then I believed it wasn’t worth it, I would feel guilty about it. So whenever the price was too high in my opinion, I would feel good about it for some time and then all of a sudden I would become anxious and restless and starting to loose the joy in my job. Only when I saw that this belief of ‘I’m asking too much’ was no longer suppressible, I came face to face with the fear of over asking my clients. The fear of them not wanting to buy anything and thus me not succeeding in business. The fear to end up homeless and bankrupted and confirming my fear of ‘yes I might end up being a looser’ would appear real.

Now in my current company I also started off with reacting to the price of my products. I went through my normal cycle of suppressing and thinking I was fine with it, till I saw how nasty it was and how it was backfiring. So I decided to investigate what it was that took the joy out of my job from one day to the other. This feeling of not being able to move forward and keeping myself occupied yet safe in a position of not expanding and not reaching out to my potential clients as I could.

So I asked myself the question why I became so upset when I thought I was asking too much money of my clients? And when I spoke that very question out loud, the word ASKING was still echoing in my mind. I said to myself: “that’s it.” I perceive myself as someone that is ASKING for money. And who else is asking for money besides the tax authorities and my bank? The beggar in the streets! A beggar is happy with every cent he gets, since they have to be happy with anything they get in order to survive. They depend on what the other is GIVING. They depend on how the other is valuing their life in comparison to their own. It really hit me, I perceived myself as a business owner, yet I was a beggar. I had made myself into a beggar by ASKING for money.

Then I realized what people were willing to pay for my products, I perceived as how they valued me. Me as an extension of my company, as how I had interacted with them and all the work I’d put into them. Whenever we are asked what we like to pay for a certain product, the price is not going to be based on common sense, the price is going to be based on our amount of greediness and egoism. I would love to pay less than I expected, while experiencing some sort of victory. At the same time I would suppress my guilt, knowing that for such little money this product could not be made let alone be brought into the market.

Which brought me to the point of not feeling worthy when my potential clients decided to not buy my product, when they perceived it as too expensive. They dismissed not alone my product, but also me as a person, and ouch that hurts. So I, for a change, looked at my products instead of myself and saw that the value of my products are of inexpressible worth. My products will make such an ongoing difference in peoples lives that I do not need to beg for money, I simply need to show them the gold I’m holding. It’s an infinite cycle of giving and receiving.

When our products are honest products, that do what we promise, people will see that, they will sense the honesty. So it’s up to them if they want to invest in a product that shows through it’s pricing that it has dignity. I’m not ASKING for money, I’m simply SHARING the price of the products with my clients. If the potential client doesn’t see the gold I’m holding right now, that will be in no way a prediction for the future of how they will talk about my products and whether they one day will acquire them.

I know now I am no beggar and as long as I can really see that I’m worth selling a priceless product I’m worth the price I’m asking. I’ve witnessed that my enthusiasm and honesty is rubbing off on my clients, though the ultimate question is always for my clients to answer. Are they buying the product because they can see the gold or are they buying the product because they feel obliged? I will never put any extra pressure on my clients and won’t either take responsibility for their choices, which means that I will not be influenced by the choice they make. A YES is great, since I know their lives will change. A NO may simply become a YES in the future to come.

So what is the right price? It’s that figure to which we no longer react in whatever way. It’s that figure that makes us in peace with ourselves, while knowing that we’re not sabotaging our business for dishonest reasons while playing Santa Claus while not over asking from a point of greed. We must be able to stand as the price, while sharing it with our clients without any wavering inside ourselves. I’m sure there still will be days with a bit of wavering inside, though as long as I’m seeing the potential of my product and my own potential with my product within my company, I know I did my part to spread some happiness within this world.

This blog post was written by S. from the Netherlands

Stepping out of my comfort zone and being my own boss

Photo credit: SinRL

Photo credit: SinRL

When it comes to business, my experience has been very much based on working for someone else, having objectives established by someone else and following a structure that has been designed by someone else. The fact that all of this framework is pre-existent allows me to dive into do my job and know exactly what to do and when to do the tasks but the picture changes when one owns a business or starts a business. I began to understand the dynamics of being one’s own boss in my experience of being married with an entrepreneur however, what my reality has been allowing me to recently see is that I am my own boss as well – in who I am, in what I do and in how I direct my life.

Who to put the blame on when there is no one else to blame?

The above question came up after walking the points that I will be describing today. This afternoon I noticed that there was some sort of hesitation before I said the magic words “why didn’t you do that” and “I was expecting you to give me some direction” and, even though these words still came out of my mouth, the discomfort in m body was here and I had no choice than investigating where my reaction was coming from. I am aware that any projections echoed towards another are actually about my own relationship with myself. So, instead of bringing my husband to the equation, I can now see that the frustration was already in me before I put it out against him – the inner-dialogue should then read “why didn’t I do that” and “I was expecting something different from me”.

The reality is that I haven’t yet fully embraced my responsibility of directing me, whether is in my personal life, relationships or in my professional career. In this blog, I will assist me in moving beyond the polarity of judging myself to actually help me understanding this point of self-direction.

Last month I went through very important steps in my process of facing my fears, beliefs and self-trust when it comes to taking decisions in my life. These decisions have to do with giving me direction in expanding my skills and my world and I literally stepped out of my comfort zone in order to walk my decision. There was a lot of “glue” sticking me back to my seat and the mind was constantly sending me reminders of past experiences or of other people’s experiences that could easily pushed me back to the comfort zone where I know how things work. It took me time and assistance from friends to put my two feet on the ground, place one in front of the other and start walking slowly but surely into the new challenge ahead.

So, what have been the main points and take-aways from being my own boss? Firstly, that there is no one to blame, not even me; there is no one to compete with, not even with me; there are no valid reactions, not even my own or against me. To give an example of how to walk out of the mind cycle of blame-competition-judgment, I will write about the relationship with myself when things go slower than how I had initially planned. As many might be familiar with this pattern, the tendency is to give into frustration, anger and eventually giving up of one’s decision to continue the project. In order to correct this tendency, the notion of time and the relationship with time require an alignment if one wants to use the clock to support the business rather to destroy it. What I mean by this is instead of trying to impose certain timeframes (or should I say bomb-clocks) onto oneself, one must give time to see what works and what doesn’t and how long things really take. The mind can play tricks when it comes to beliefs and expectation of how long it will take to start bearing the fruits. I am not saying that having an end-goal is not supportive however, one might get obsessed with the projected results without actually being here and taking each and every required step that eventually create the long-waited and deserved results.

This can also apply to personal development goals where every single action is part of the big picture and one has the ability to enhance that big picture to become the best that one can ever create for oneself.

During this journey, I came to the realisation that it is the constant judgment about myself that holds me back to take decisions and to live it. I realise that self-judgments can be great tools to get to know my mind and to understand why I do things in certain ways but that’s it! If these thoughts are having any other impact in my life and if I accept these to play out for many days, that is a red flag informing me that I am not directing myself to walk my decision fully. Being stuck in self-judgments is the sticky glue that can hold me back in the comfort zone because as soon as I step out of it, I will be facing new points that can only be overcome if I change, by trusting me and by being creative to do things differently. If one tries to walk through the decision held back to self-judgments than self won’t be fully present, won’t stand and will fall.

Finally, it is worth reminding me that self-judgment is an energy, just like any other emotion that usually comes along, such as fear and anxiety. New business or new work places and new people can be perceived as scary situations because we are facing first and foremost our own selves through the thoughts that pop up (Will they like me? What impression will they have of me? Will I feel OK in this place? Will I be able to succeed?). As often happens, questions lead to new questions but the same happens with the answers – once I start working out a solution to one point, the domino effect will unfold towards new solutions to my life whereby I will help me in understanding why I am anxious about what other people think of me, or why I would not enjoy myself in that new place, or why on earth would I sabotage my own decision!

I associate this moment in my life to the opening of a Pandora’s box whereby moments of change are great gifts to discover myself and to change who I am and what I want to do. This is the power of Living in self-direction when self-judgments are stopped, understood and let go.

This blog post was written by J. from the United Kingdom

Developing a sales business mind – The WHY (Part 2)

In my previous blog, I started sharing my experiences in sales from the mind dimension – how I saw my mind influencing my application in the field and within that, how I started to support myself to stop accessing energetic cycles, but instead started to apply  consistency within my day to day living application. I finished off the previous blog with the statement:

“…In creating structure in your day to day living, there is no place for energetic fluctuations as in every moment of the day, you know exactly what needs to be done to make your business a success. Though, if you are not clear on WHY you are doing what you are doing and/or, you do not understand the number game principle of sales, you will very quickly fall into the energetic ride even with having a structured schedule to follow. This will be discussed in the next blog”

Before I go into the number game principle, I would like to focus on the ‘WHY’ as the ‘WHY’ is the one point that will support one in challenging times – it is a constant background reminder  that if established genuinely inside oneself, one is able to support oneself in following through one’s own decision to walk a certain path and/or achieve certain results.

What is this ‘WHY’? The ‘WHY’ to me is the life force through which I move myself – it is a genuine expression through which I direct my reality – it is why I wake up in the morning, it is why I make the decisions that I make, it is why I dare to take risks, it is why I stand up when I fall.

For some, the ‘why’ would be their child that they must take care for; for others it may be a long term goal of building an orphaned house, for example; some would want to live a life of luxury without having to think about their survival and for others the ‘why’ will be to ensure that everyone on earth live a life of luxury without having to think of their survival.

For me, when looking back at my life, it was very hard to commit to a certain job before I established a clear definition of what my ‘why’ was. It was challenging to be disciplined and not fall into emotions when I didn’t  have a constant background reminder of why I must overcome the challenges that I faced. I remember how back then, I used to change jobs like socks – the moment I faced a conflict as a reaction inside myself I ran away. This pattern of mine to avoid conflicts and give up even when it meant that I would be unemployed, changed the moment I realized for myself what my ‘why’ was/is.

With having a ‘why’, I couldn’t accept and allow reactions/conflicts/emotions/feeling to determine who I am and what I do – I had to consciously make the decision to stand up and direct myself in my environment. So for instance with conflicts with a co-worker, I pushed myself to communicate with them so that together we can come up with solutions that would allow us to reach our individuals ‘whys’. Within that I found that people that I had a conflict with actually held a gift for me as there was always something about myself that I could learn with resolving the conflict.

With reactions/emotions, what I found to work for me in these moments was to stop and remind myself why am I doing what I am doing – what is the greatest purpose within it all. From here, in self honesty, there is no space to slack or to give up because if I do, I would compromise my ‘why’ and this for me is unacceptable.

There are moment when the mind takes over and I want to give up or to slack for a moment but the ‘why’ that I stand equal and one, is my pillar of support through which I push myself to let go of my reactions and move to solutions. It is obviously a process – old patterns do not go away over night – but they are fading away eventually, in the accumulation of moments that we support ourselves to change reactions into solutions.

In business and especially in sales, we cannot allow ourselves to be influenced by emotions/reactions/frictions – we have to ground ourselves and be consistent within our daily application. Having a ‘WHY’ is of great support if the ‘why’ is genuine and can stand the test of time. The test of time, meaning – when the ‘why’ is so strong inside yourself where it doesn’t matter what you face, it won’t change who you are and what you stand for/as. So, if you are in sales and you haven’t yet allocated your own individual ‘why’ – I suggest you take a moment and find inside of yourself your ‘why’ to support yourself in difficult times. By having the ‘why’ and understanding the ‘number game’ (which I will explain in my next blog) – nothing is impossible.

This blog was written by M. from South Africa.

Developing a sales business mind – understanding the energetic cycle (Part 1)

Developing a sales business mind - understanding the energetic cycle (Part 1)The start of a new business is like an Energetic Roller-Coaster ‎with ups and downs – there are periods where everything seems to be working and then the next moment comes and you feel like everything is going wrong. Obviously as long as everything is in order you’ll indulge in the positive experience and hold onto it as long as possible because you know, deep inside yourself, that this positive energy will eventually fade away and that you will be experiencing neutral or negative energy before the positive energy returns.

In the business world, the Energetic Roller-Coaster is primarily seen in the beginning phases of the business. As an example: in sales it takes time for a business to get off the ground. You must first understand how the business works, what the value of the product or service that the company sells is, who the target clients are, how to reach these potential clients, how to advertise your product/service, how to present your product/service in the most effective way, how to create attractive payment plans, how to manage the cash flow and so forth.

In the beginning, the sales person invests a lot of money, time and effort into the business with little to no return as it takes time and dedication to get the wheel turning. Unfortunately, most people do not understand that in sales, the actions that you take now WILL bring results in the future ONLY if you continue driving yourself and the business consistently. Because of this lack of understanding, most sales people access energetic cycles which will lead them to either overcome or give up.

The Energetic cycles that I faced in sales were as follows:

In the first month of work, I was super motivated, excited and I pushed myself beyond my own expectations – BUT, I kept forgetting that what I am walking now will only bear fruit in the future. Inevitably, reality knocked on my door and reminded me that the physical reality moves way slower than how I move in my mind and, with forgetting the basic physical principles I accessed negative energies of frustration and impatience by the end of the third month. This was the breaking point where I had to make a decision – to continue pushing myself and the business or to give up. With the support of my sales mentor, I decided to push myself and the business. Later I realized that it wasn’t just me who went into the breaking point at the end of the third month – everyone who came after me to the company faced exactly the same thing where they were initially motivated and then slowly but surely their energy levels declined and they gave up. I investigated this point further and I found that the 3 months breaking point is a pattern that most sales people face no matter what.

Making the decision to continue walking the business wasn’t the end of the energetic cycle – after the breaking point phase came the next phase which I call the ‘promises phase’. The promises phase is when I started seeing the movement but it was not tangible yet – it was definitely in the future but not completely here. In this phase, I usually found myself accessing the positive energy of excitement, anticipation and a sort of relaxation, as if I can breathe again. This I found to be a dangerous phase – this energy feels so good that you want to stay in it for as long as you can.

On a business level, what I found within myself was a slacking phase where, instead of consistently moving the business, I held onto the promises that were made, calculate the future income as if the money was already in the bank and thereafter allow myself to lie back for a moment and do nothing. Obviously, this had to fall because not all promises matured into actual sales and I had to start everything from the beginning because I didn’t make sure that the movement was constant during the slacking phase and so, within starting again I found myself in the breaking point cycle once again which could have been detrimental if I had chosen to give up.

For myself, I realized that I cannot allow myself to cycle through these phases again and again and again – I must apply consistency no matter what my mind is telling me. I realized that Promises are not something I can work with and that I must continue moving myself to source more clients, have more appointments and more sales in order to ensure the success of my business.

How did I apply consistency as a living expression of myself?

In sales, there is always a pattern of success that you can identify and categorize into an application within your daily living. For instance, as a sales person you must generate leads, schedule appointments, make appointments, close the sale, get referrals and support your client with your product/service. As a sales team leader, you must follow up on your team, open opportunities for them, coach them, train them and so forth. Each person must identify the specific steps that they must walk to ensure their individual success and thereafter, schedule these steps into a daily living application. So with the example of a sale person where you know that you must generate leads every day, schedule appointments, perform appointments and follow up on your clients – place each step as a time frame in your daily schedule. For instance, plan 2 hours of your day to make phone calls where 1 hour is to schedule appointments and another hour is to follow up on existing clients.

Each step needs to be pre-defined as to how many hours a day will you devote for each task and thereafter, all you have to do is apply self-discipline and commit to the schedule you created.

In creating structure in your day to day living, there is no place for energetic fluctuations as, in every moment of the day you know exactly what needs to be done to make your business a success. If you are not clear on WHY you are doing what you are doing and/or you do not understand the number game principle of sales, you will very quickly fall into the energetic ride even with having a structured schedule to follow.

This will be discussed in the next blog

This blog was written by M. from South Africa.

Stand by your Woman | Being a Woman in a Business World of Men

Stand by your Woman | Being a Woman in a Business World of MenSome months ago I made the decision to start my own business. Within that, I saw that I had to start strengthening my personal and professional skills as well as my ability and willingness to stand in the world and – I’ll put it as I see it in my own mind – allow myself to become successful and have an influence, an impact on the world. After all, this is my world as well! I had to make a leap within myself to make that decision of starting a business and I’m glad that I did, but in this post I’d like to share a bit about the ‘inner obstacles’ many are faced with on the way of ‘becoming a business woman’.

My field of expertise is language and education and my studies have addressed language and learning as such, as well as tools to unfold the full potential of our natural learning ability. I am very interested in how we as human beings develop and participate in the human society. Many if not most of the problems we are facing in the world today, both on individual and on societal level, are results of particular learning processes or the lack thereof. This is one of the reasons I am passionate about education and everything that is involved in learning, and this includes all formation levels of human consciousness and thus the human nature, experience, interaction and organization – the cumulative result of which we see manifest today as ‘the human condition’.

If you look at the word ‘formation’, it is entailed within the word ‘information’. We can all see how the information we hold within ourselves forms our experience, and how the information held by a group of people, be it a nation or a culture, forms particular value- and belief-systems. From that perspective and not only: education is of great importance, and in my opinion education should be used not for indoctrination but rather for the cultivation of a spirit of brotherhood among human beings.

Today however I am not addressing those problems. Today I am writing about women in the business world. This in itself is also a matter of in-formation, given the fact that we tend to implicitly accept particular ideas, beliefs, and expectations about women, which in turn form our definitions of what it means to be a woman. As a result, we tend to follow conditioned pathways and uphold the internal and external limitations historically connected to ‘being a woman’.

Now – many will link the word ‘women’ to ‘feminism’ and I have to admit I never really embraced feminism except for the moment it took to acknowledge that the inequality or differentiation between men and women when it comes to ‘rights’ simply makes no sense. Beyond that, I was seeing in the feminist movement women trying to become ‘the better men’ yet not really transcending the hostility or competition existent between the sexes.

Being a woman, I cannot say I am convinced that women are the better men. Friction among women is often subtle and kept from being expressed, yet I could often sense a form of competition going on among women just like it does among men. Throughout my teenage years especially, this observation led me to be reserved toward other girls and to not feel quite comfortable as a woman.

Throughout a certain period of my life, particularly during my studies, I had formed a reaction toward ‘success’ within myself; I was seeing the problems within our definition of success but didn’t want to deal with them or didn’t have the tools to do so. This goes as early back as my school years where I was bullied by others for being an excellent pupil -thus having ‘success’-, and as a child I suffered greatly under such conditions but saw no other option but to play myself down and ‘success’ go. I told myself there were more important things in life, and so I kept many opportunities away from myself and many doors closed, as I already had a judgment about for instance business people, women in particular that become successful in domains usually led by men. In addition to that, I feared the consequences of other girls’ jealousy, so I even ended up holding myself back from other women, always with a presumed competition standpoint and the fear of jealousy in the back of my head. Little did I know how much potential was thereby kept from being discovered and explored, from literally being lived into creation.

What led me now to decide to start a company was not success in the business sense, but success as the opportunity to make a difference, to bring forth change, and to explore and support potentials – in myself and in others.

Although I do not subscribe to religion or spirituality, I do find that having a higher purpose beyond mere profit is crucial when it comes to business and leadership. This can be discussed from many perspectives but fundamentally it’s about asking yourself: if you didn’t have to be doing what you’re doing for money, for profit, what would you be doing and WHY.

In the process of doing some research and also talking with friends that have had experience with starting a business, one friend gave me a book called Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, and I started reading it. I was astounded with the study cases and statistics upon which Sheryl made her case. We tend to think that “it’s just me”, we tend to think our western world at least is quite progressive when it comes to women and leadership. Reading this book showed me how much of gender prejudice (and personal conditioning!) we take for granted while it is intrinsically existent in most of us – in our expectations, our presumptions, our accepted ‘norms’, our mannerism, and not least within the image we have of ourselves in our own minds –, playing out in our lives and directing our choices and decisions; and furthermore, how us women often stand in our own way of becoming successful.

I was astounded to realize the extent of inequality when it comes to gender (even though I have extensively studied socioeconomic inequality). Here was this simple book now shaking my ‘female world’, and I realized and decided that being a woman is to be taken as seriously as everything else; there is a lot of work to be done here, and most importantly it is something that each woman must question within herself:

How am I positioning myself in relation to other women really? How do I see myself through the eyes of other women and other people, and perhaps even, Why do I see myself through the eyes of other women and other people? Where and how am I trying to be ‘in control’, and what is it that I am trying to control? What do I fear? Furthermore – Where and how am I not being direct and transparent in my communication, where and how do I miss considering common interests and finding win-win solutions? Am I more focused on differences than I am focused on common values? Have I ever asked myself how I can empower myself and other women?

I do believe that women can be the better leaders, but then again I don’t see why it should even make a difference whether one is male or female when it comes to leading a company, leading a country, leading a family, leading oneself and one’s own life. It really all comes down to practical common sense, communication, caring, and mutual support for the community. Perhaps women as child bearers find it easier to envision and pursue a society where all are supported to live their utmost potential.

But this isn’t where I’m going with this article.

What I would like to share here with you is an inspiration for you to make sure that you as a woman in business investigate your own mind and beliefs when it comes to being a leader, being an influential individual, running a successful business, and having an opinion in a world that desperately needs change, a world that desperately needs people that care.

In this, and in becoming aware of the obstacles us women inherently tend to place in our own way (and if you haven’t done your research on this, as I hadn’t, then the book Lean In will give you a well-founded idea) I say that we must reach out, work together, and support each other in exploring our individual expressions, realizing our potentials, and utilizing our influence – in the name of life, not profit.

We live in a world where we are constantly influenced by external stimuli, and that influence (in)forms us, and accordingly we form patterns within the bounds of which we move. But do we really move when it is not ourselves but an accepted framework of definitions, beliefs and value judgments that leads our way?

It’s interesting that we in our minds tend to make things bigger or smaller, or less or more important, based on how we decide to relate to them. For instance, one may have a thought within one’s mind like “well, I suppose I do want to be influential, but not too much, that’s not good”. Now why and how is a decision like this (yes, it’s a decision!) formed? Well, I can tell you about my own experience. When I was younger, I would look at ‘people with influence’ as ‘bad people’ because they were influencing and thus forming the world and I for one could see: the world is ‘bad’. So I told myself, “I don’t want to become like those people”, but little did I realize that I was at the same time drawing the lines of my own limitation box. Today I can see that we must get ourselves out there and work with ‘what is here’ – because that’s how we can change it. Today I say let’s get ourselves out there and stand for some real principles, for real value, value that is in the interest of life.

When it came to ‘business’, I used to think that all of that ‘big stuff’ out there is for ‘those bad people’ and “I’m not one of those girls who only talks about her make up or the new stuff she just bought.” In fact, I used to look at most women as fitting that image of running after the ‘good stuff’ in a spirit of materialism and a fake sense of ‘power’, and I could see the same power games between women that I saw among men. When I started introspecting more and getting to understand my own conditioning, habits, and nature, I saw that all those things did in one way or another exist within me, whether I idealized and desired something or feared and condemned it. I also realized that I didn’t necessarily have a very positive image or idea about myself as a woman, nor did I have a very positive image or idea about myself as a successful adult in this world.

At the same time I started recognizing how I was standing in my own way through conditioned patterns of belief and emotion (which is also what Sheryl shows in her book, well documented with studies and research results), and I started seeing that I had to change how I relate to myself as a woman, how I related to other women and the world as a whole, as well as how I relate to business and success. I could now see and acknowledge that I am not alone in this and that this is in fact a condition that requires our full attention, because we are it.

Hence, with this post – Stand by your Woman – I’d like to invite all women, and especially those women that are embarking on a journey of leadership or of self-expansion through business, to introspect their own conditioned patterns of belief and emotion in relation to being a woman. Investigate how you yourself relate to being a woman and how you relate to other women and the world as a whole, and where you are limiting yourself through mere acceptance and lack of questioning, or through comparison and other emotional engagement.

Stand up for yourself as an individual, not ‘as a woman’ but as a human being, and support yourself to live your dream and ‘higher purpose’. It is up to you to make it real, but remember that no man (or woman) is an island, and that behind every successful individual is an army of friends and supporters. Support the women in your world, and also consider encouraging men to support women. Let us also look at what considerations and qualities are missing in the context and execution of Leadership, and let us each ‘stand by our woman’, which is our own self to begin with, and stand together as life bearers to strengthen and promote the value of life in all possible aspects of our world and existence – ‘business’ being one of those aspects.

And in spite of me not seeing myself as a feminist, I’d like to address my fellow women here and say:

Let’s go beyond leadership and business as it is currently applied within this profit mongering world system and let’s make business and leadership into something that is based on and serving: the value of life and living – for everyone involved.

For me it is obvious common sense that I can be most happy and carefree when everyone else around me can be happy and carefree. Granted – to get there, we must first learn to CARE.

So, embrace yourself, embrace this one life as this one opportunity you have to make a difference, in your own life to begin with and consequently in every life you touch – whether as a woman, as a human being, as a company leader or a business executive. Stand your ground and start unfolding your potential without fear, without hesitation, without those self-imposed limitations. I am certain that every woman would like to see, as I would, the business world transforming from a ‘men’s world’, from a ‘dog eat dog’ existence, into more equality and mutual support in the interest of LIFE.

This blog post was written by B. from Germany.

How I came to start my own business

MirandaI was born in a family of entrepreneurs and as a child always playing ‘shop’. To my great joy I got a little post office for my birthday. When playing in my office, I was completely in my element, ready to help customers.

At the age of twenty, I knew I wanted to start my own business. During my studies at the Fashion Academy in Amsterdam I was a regular customer at a small fabric shop where an old lady was the owner. I was fascinated by the variety of people who walked in and out and the casual atmosphere that was present in that shop, and I knew; this is what I like to do.

There was something I knew for sure; I wanted to run a business with someone else. So I searched for a potential partnership, but saw no one in my area that did fit my definition of an entrepreneur. I decided to not start my own business but instead being an employee at an international fashion store as a sales manager and visual merchandiser. I saw that the policy of the store lacked some essentials such as: professionalism in dealing with people, employees who were not empowered by the company, a poor level of communication, mutual competition and lack of respect for each other among the employees and the customers as well. I felt alone and not supported by the company, while seeing what was lacking. The company I worked for could not do anything for me, so there was no other option then leaving. This kind of environment was not what I had in mind or desired for myself and I started looking around at other businesses, but none of them did met my vision.

I searched for ways to start with a starting point to which I could stand by in life in general, that could serve as a foundation for my business. I let the thought go to start a business with someone else and stepped out of my comfort zone. I searched for opportunities that gave me the chance to start, and the insights on how to shape my vision into a business that truly represents me, my talents and passion that would make my abilities visible. First I wrote my talents down on paper:

Natural leadership

Natural motivator

My passion to empower people  and offer them an environment where they can grow and cultivate their potential talents

A professional level of servant leadership ensuring that optimum sales results are achieved

Selling a high-quality product which values the life of myself and others

A product that has the potential to change the world and make a difference

The ambition to be among the best

Building stable relationships with employees and customers

Innovation

Thinking in possibilities.

Independent and also collaborate

Then a year ago I met a lady who decided to introduce an international product in the Netherlands and I came to the conclusion in an interview with her, that the product and her vision were aligned with my vision. So I knew that working with her would become very fruitful.

We have started together at a pace that suits both of us. We’re building steadily to the development of our company. We’d invite people we see fit for the company in order to compile our own ‘family’ and do business from a starting point that is best for all participants.

This blog post was written by M. from the Netherlands

What Makes a Businesswoman?

What Makes a Businesswoman?I have not seen myself as a businesswoman. In this post I share insights I have had about what it means to be a business woman and how I have realized that being a business woman in reality is something completely different from the image of success that I’ve been having in my mind.

I kept having the image of a woman I saw recently in a TV-series pop up in my head. It is a TV-series called “Halt and catch fire” about the beginning of the computer and software industry in the 1980’s. In this TV-series there is a young woman who is a hacker and who has been recruited by a computer manufacturing company to develop their software.

The way she goes about the work you could say is very childish, but at the same time she has a deep passion and respect for the work itself, though not so much for the structure that surrounds it. But in the series, she keeps pushing the boundaries of what is possible out of curiosity and a respect for innovation, like really being so passionate about the possibility of creating something new and the vision she has for what is possible, that she doesn’t care what anyone thinks. She barely eats and she has these crazy ideas in the middle of the night and doesn’t sleep for days because she sits and writes code.

She is also one of the only women in an extremely male-dominated field and she is the antithesis of the idea of what it means to be a businesswoman. But the thing is that she gets things done. She creates; she invents one of the first interactive computer software through her playful curiosity, her passion and dedication and she doesn’t let anyone stop her, because she believes in her own vision. It’s like she becomes a channel for her vision.

So what I find interesting about why this character is popping up in my head, is that I could very much relate to how she’s being portrayed, basically as this brat who has no work ethics, who is messy, who doesn’t’ care about money, who doesn’t have any sense of business. I am not saying that I should become like her or that she would be my role model as a businesswoman, because she certainly lack a lot of the diplomatic skills necessary when doing business as well as respect for other people – but what I do see I can apply is the passion and loyalty to a vision and the relentless dedication towards the product, where nothing else matters and doesn’t let herself be stopped by any image that she may or may not have of herself. She immerses herself so fully in the work, that is what she is loyal to, that it doesn’t matter what anyone says about her, she knows where she stands, because she, if anyone, represents the best interest of the product – she stands behind it 100 %.

So I realize that when it comes to being a businesswoman in this context, although it is important to also present a certain image, simply because that’s a part of the game, what actually matters in terms of making my business a success is standing by it 100 % alone by myself in my own capacity, not leaning on anyone else, not fearing failure – but being so immersed in making the best possible product/business I possibly can, for the sake of my own self-integrity and self-respect and out of respect and care for the product I am selling.

Something else that I also see is that starting a new business is like giving birth to a baby. It is the same way the female character in the TV-series treats her software; she cradles it like a baby, it is constantly in her awareness, she will protect it with her life and she is relentless in making sure that it reaches its full potential and will stop at nothing to make sure that it becomes exactly that. This is the kind of businesswoman that I would like to be. I realize that I’ve had this image in my mind of this intimidating, confident woman who is in full control of everything and everyone around her and who is the manifestation of success.

Besides the fact that this is merely an image and that I don’t know who the women whom I’ve seen represent this image actually are, what I realize is that what I’ve seen as this ’successful businesswoman’ is actually the result of a long process of self-development. The woman I have seen as the successful businesswoman is the one with a career of 10, 20, 30 years behind her. She is the tiger that has earned its stripes based on many years of work building a business. So it would be entirely unrealistic to expect of myself to step from who and what I am now, as someone who has never run a business, into that image of ’completion’ and ’perfection’. And never the less that is what I realize that I have expected of myself. So perhaps that is why I could relate so much to the character from the TV-series, because she is much closer to where I am and yet she expresses a potential that I have yet to live within and as myself.

And I realize that running a business in the end, is about a practical process of building something, brick by brick until it becomes a structure that can stand and function on its own. Even if I don’t know how to lay bricks because I’ve never done it before, I can learn – but I obviously cannot magically manifest an entire completed building from one moment to the next and lay claim to having created it – it is impossible. I am also not going to become a businesswoman like a one-dimensional image from a glossy magazine that stands still in time in a frame of perpetual success. I am a real human being of flesh and blood and the businesswoman I will become will be based on who I am, what my strengths are. I realize that what matters is that I will place my time, my dedication, my care, passion and respect into laying those bricks. And in doing so, I focus on the one brick I have in my hands right now, making sure that it is effectively aligned to the bricks below it and when I am satisfied that it is placed as it should be, I grab another brick and begin the process of laying that. But if I have my focus on a house that is not yet built and how it should be built and how I might not be able to build it, guess what? It is never going to get built or it is going to have a sloppy and unbalanced foundation because I would be so focused on the finished result that I wouldn’t give care and attention to the one brick I am about to lay. This is therefore my commitment to myself; to not focus so much on what is going to come or manifest in the future and how I have to build this business, but instead to focus on building my business and myself within and as it, brick by brick, breath by breath.

This blog post was written by A. from Sweden

Should my uniqueness overrule the objectives of my business?

Techno TutorWhen reading the title of this blog most of you will not have any difficulties answering this question. It’s clear that when you have a business, the objectives of your business come first and you achieve those objectives through who you are within your business. May that be due to your uniqueness as a selling point or because you are the product of your business, you may never overrule your business objectives and thus harm your business. So far all clear to most of us when it comes to the theory of it. I discovered that within the seemingly smaller points within my business I was unleashing my uniqueness like a mad dog.

At one point we decided to apply a dress code within the company. We would be dressed in white blouses and black suits, males and females. We would take on the ‘corporate look’, since that’s what suits our company best as in presenting the business to our outer world. There was nothing difficult about that decision, it was clear that my business would benefit from this approach, so almost with closed eyes I made this decision since it really made sense. While closing my eyes so to speak, I wasn’t aware of the friction that quite immediate came up. The friction was there and came out as doubt about what to buy when I was shopping for working clothes. All white blouses I declared as boring and not for me. Black suits I decided were okay though I felt I was blending in with the work forces too much.

At that point I didn’t realize that my ego as a point of uniqueness had completely taken over. When I went shopping I went for suits in different colors, black blouses with white dots, black and white prints or entire black blouses. I was really trying my best to find those garments that would highlight my uniqueness as how I saw myself. It gave me a lot of friction that I couldn’t place until I sat down with myself really willing to find out what was bothering me. This seemingly insignificant point was bigger then I had expected. I could no longer see the power of the ‘corporate black and white look’, I only saw myself blend in with the masses and experienced it as the death of my uniqueness. This was an attempt to kill my personality I had developed over time, at least that was what I was believing deep inside hidden for the naked eye. I feared to lose myself within it all.

I had to find out who I am/had been when I agreed on the dress code and seeing it as beneficial for my business and then find out who I am/had been when I feared to lose myself as my uniqueness. I’ve had a business before where I created my product as an interior designer. Within that job it was cool to dress unique and distinguish myself from others to build up my business while using myself to brand the product. In a way my current job isn’t that different only the product I sell benefits more when I use the ‘corporate look’.

While going through this point of uniqueness I found that I truly believed that I was existing as uniqueness the way I dressed, instead of realizing that I am already unique and can use whatever dress code to emphasize that what I want to communicate as a business owner. When my uniqueness comes from clothes who am I when I am without clothes? All I had used to be me, was external material, I never ever considered to use my internal material, as in who I am, to be whatever I wanted depending on the situation. Up until I sat down with myself I hadn’t realized that I had been tremendously limiting myself. I had declared myself as unique and had to dress in a unique way to maintain this mind created picture. While at the same time I could have worn a ‘boring’ white blouse and black suit and making a difference within the lives of my clients because of the authority I was reflecting that was emphasized by the clothes I worn. I was shocked how such a ‘futile’ thing as clothes could have such a huge difference on my business.

At first I didn’t want to believe or accept the fact that I had been limiting myself on a certain scale. When this realization sank in I had no difficulties what so ever with accepting my dress code as I had agreed/decided on in the beginning of setting up the business. I had gone through all the thoughts, which were mainly opinions that I gathered throughout life, and found that there wasn’t one that was valid. All those opinions did, was helping to keep up my personality of uniqueness, that was in fact more a corset of limitation than anything else.

Now I buy white blouses and black suits from a starting point of growing my business while growing myself within it. I was also able to get really comfortable within this point of dressing and started to play with it. A little bit of variation is okay as long as I serve my business. My business is an extension of who I am, the question is: do I want my business to flourish and do I want to thrive as a human being, simply because I made it possible? Yes, I want to succeed in life just like you. Success doesn’t come with self-sabotage, success comes with self-support and knowing where to take self-responsibility.

This blog post was written by S. from the Netherlands.