“Personal experience tells me that never emptying our time is like never emptying our garbage cans, our bladders, or our digestive tracts.
Do those images disgust you? Good. I want them to. The archetype of the virtuously over-busy person is so ingrained in our social mindset that it takes strong language to knock it loose.” ~ Martha Beck

Do you ever wake up feeling stressed just thinking about your day? Phone calls, emails, errands, and appointments. These days it doesn’t matter how early you wake up, the fact is you will already be behind schedule. Because time in our culture is moving so fast. It’s like a race to get to the end of the day so you can look back, and say “Look at all those things that I did. Now that was a busy day.”

Staying busy, but not productive, is the curse of our times. As the actress Lily Tomlin so eloquently put it, “The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.”

Here are some typical phrases that you may hear today: bigstock-The-word-Everything-on-a-To-Do-45656401

“I am so tired, I can’t remember the last time I got a good night’s sleep !”
“I’m drowning over here!”
“Oh my God, I’m crazy-busy!”

Somehow, these expressions are intended to demonstrate cultural value and importance. They are uttered out of habit, for attention, or worse, because someone is truly spiraling out of control. Take a good hard look at what these words are really expressing: lack of control, stress, and in the extreme, death! Wow… Is this what you really mean? Is this the language you want to be saying to yourself and sharing with others?

I am a person that chooses to live a full life, in the sense that I enjoy running a thriving business and the work that it entails, pursue personal passions and hobbies, love to travel, and spend time with friends, family and colleagues. However, I feel that some major things have shifted, starting with the loss of my beloved mother in 2010, and then continuing since I relocated from NY to Northern California in July 2012. Although I’m one who enjoys having a full plate, I’m learning more and more to be at peace with the open space that not being “crazy-busy” provides. It’s not always easy, trust me. But I am choosing not to win the “crazy-busy” contest.

I was speaking with a friend a few months ago. At one point, my friend commented “Wow, you’re so busy. How are you doing it all?” My response? “I don’t really like to say that I am ‘busy’ anymore. ‘Busy’ is so negative. Now, I like to think of it, and describe it, as living a full life on purpose.”

This conversation led me to think about how things have shifted for me over the last couple of years — especially when it comes to the word “busy.” You see, when I deliver my keynote to audiences on life-work integration, I talk a lot about this concept of how crazy-busy has become a badge of honor in our society. And how the only way to stop it is to take notice, change our la nguage, and change our behavior. So, I decided to start with me.

This has been a full year; for me personally, for my husband who is in the midst of a demanding veterinary residency in internal medicine, and for my business. I’ve traveled quite a bit for speaking engagements throughout the U.S., immersed myself in the launch of my new online learning platform LMG University, coached and consulted with clients near and far, enjoyed lots of bicycle riding in my new Northern California area, got back on stage to perform in an amazing production of Les Miserables, and enjoyed meeting new friends and colleagues in the area. Some might call this “busy.” I call it intentionally engaged and living a joyfully full life — on purpose.

“Busy” is stressful (even the energy of the word itself!). It has this powerful ability to take over one’s focus. People often claim that the main thing stopping them from fully realizing and achieving their dreams is that they ar e too “busy.” But busy is a conscious choice. “Busy” and “I have no time” (yes you do or you wouldn’t be alive… but I digress!) are excuses that are, sadly, here to stay. We have to get better at calling ourselves out on this. We have to prioritize, own our choices, watch our language, and value our precious time. We have to be intentional and purposeful.

I am being totally honest when I say that “busy” still creeps in for me sometimes (that little bugger!). But in those moments, I catch myself and quickly change my language and try to change my mindset. I try to kick busy to the curb and replace it with conscious living, which may still mean a full life, but not one that feels negative or will win me any badge of honor for the “crazy busy” contest. That’s one contest that I am purposefully hoping to lose!

use_technology_wiselyWith all of the technology devices at our fingertips these days, it is easier than ever to stay connected 24-7. But, how do we balance the need and desire to stay connected with the danger of technology taking over? By continuing to be the master of technology, not the servant!

I travel a lot for business in my role as a productivity consultant and professional speaker. Indeed, I am writing this column on my IPad at an airport, and will then email it to my online business manager (how’s that for 21st century technology?). When on the road, it is vital for me to be able to stay connected. But it is a constant balance between using technology to stay connected and get my work done, save time and be more productive, while not letting technology take over my life. To that end, here are some tips to help you stay connected, but maybe not exactly 24-7. Just because you can b e glued to your device doesn’t mean you should be!

Protect Yourself – Consider allowing only select people to break through to the inner sanctum. Just because you can be reached 24-7 doesn’t mean everyone needs to have access to you. Don’t share your itinerary and contact information with everyone. Use voice mail and email wisely to protect yourself by choosing when and how to reply back to people (see next point!).

Choose Times to Check In – Instead of constantly checking your email and voice mail messages, choose times of the day to check in. That way, you do not interrupt the flow of work (or play). This will help you be more proactive and less reactive. Studies show that email is a huge time bandit. It also creates an unnecessary need to continuously check it, which is a major interrupter in most people’s day. Plan your check-ins so that you are not reacting like Pavlov’s dog, salivating whenever you get an email.

appsThere’s an App for That – Choose which applications you will use on a regular basis and download only those apps to your smart phone or tablet. Yes, there are a multitude of apps available today, but the average person only uses 5 on a regular basis. Choose wisely, as apps can become electronic clutter and use an enormous amount of memory space on your device.

Use “the Cloud” – With today’s cloud-based technology, it is so easy to maintain information in a safe and easily accessible location so that you can access it when you need it on-the-go. From your contacts and client database, to your calendar and documents, everything can be stored in the cloud. Take a good, hard look at Google. It offers a lot more than people realize and can be your best friend when you need to stay connected away from home or the office. I also personally love Dropbox and Evernote, both great cloud-based tools for accessing notes, documents, and other data.

Be Courteous – You may be a technology junkie and love the idea of not only being accessible 24-7, but using your devices constantly to make phone calls, dictate reports, etc. If you are in a business setting, this is perfectly acceptable in this day and age. In fact, many commuter trains look like a technology explosion took place! But if you are in a quiet setting, or perhaps one that is not focused on business (some restaurants for example), be courteous to others and do not over-use your tech tools to the dismay of everyone around you. There is a time and place for using our technology to stay connected, and sometimes abstaining is the polite thing to do!

Coaching Challenge: Try to use the above tips to practice staying connected in a way that allows you to be more productive without feeling like you are addicted to technology. Let technology be the servant, not the master!

LMGU2

Successfully Self-Employed Semester
Self-Study Course

A 10-Module On-Demand Program for Newer/Emerging Entrepreneurs or Those That Want to Get Back to Basics!

buy now

Want to start a business but are overwhelmed
with all that it entails?

Have a new business but don’t know how to fully get it off
the ground and running like a well oiled machine?

Been in business a few years but realize that you need help
with foundational basics like operations, branding,
marketing, and pricing?

Lisa_Montanaro1

​​You are in luck! Welcome to the Successfully Self Employed Semester Self-Study Course!

The Successfully Self Employed Semester is a self-paced 10-module training program to help newer/emerging entrepreneurs with foundational business skills to build your confidence, structure, operations and effectiveness as a business owner. It’s perfect for newer business owners, anyone that is serious about starting a new business, or someone that’s been in business for years but needs to go back to basics.

Topics include: business identity and branding, legal structure and issues, marketing, networking and public relations, sales, pricing and money issues, and operations. It’s a powerful program offered at a fraction of the cost of doing private business coaching.

​​Why should you choose “Successfully Self-Employed” as your go-to business training program?

  • The training is offered as an on-demand self-study course, so no matter where you live or when you are available, this program is flexible and accessible to you!
  • Unlike live business training opportunities, there will be no additional costs for travel or hotels.
  • Your education extends over 10 modules allowing you time to learn, engage the materials, implement, test out your knowledge, and make your learning last far beyond the end of the semester.

IMG_0192​This program will provide you with the knowledge, confidence, and preparation necessary to be able to succeed as an entrepreneur. SSES is a 10-module virtual training program designed to focus on your business growth and success.




The Successfully Self-Employed Semester is perfect for you if:

  • You’ve got a new (or soon to be launched) business.
  • You need help identifying and choosing what business model is best for you, and what your business identity or brand is.
  • You’re interested in shortening the learning curve on complex legal and financial issues, and price your business offerings in a way that makes your business profitable.
  • You want to create a marketing plan that you can launch and be excited about.
  • You want to know how to better market your business online and offline.
  • You’re serious about creating a successful business and are ready to do the work to make that a reality!


What’s Included in the Successfully Self Employed Semester

    • 10 Modules – In these content-packed modules (MP3 audio recordings of the live version of this program), you will learn the skills, tools and knowledge base required to succeed as an entrepreneur.
    • Course materials – Including worksheets, templates, articles, outlines, exercises, checklists, and other supportive materials to help facilitate the learning process and drive home what you are learning.

Curriculum

Module 1: Introduction
  • ​Overview of course
  • ​Background of “Professor” as an entrepreneur
  • ​Review housekeeping items
Module 2: Business Ownership
  • The Advantages and Disadvantages of Self Employment
  • Common Causes of Business Failure
  • The Entrepreneurial Curse
  • The Three Hats of a Small Business Owner
Module 3: Business Identity & Branding
  • The Brand Called You
  • Identifying your target market and ideal client
  • Identifying your USP (unique selling proposition)
  • Choosing business name, slogan, tag line, etc.
  • Personal vs. Corporate Brand
Module 4: All Things Legal
  • Learn about the different legal entities for a business
  • Considerations of the structure of a business as it relates to liability, employees, size, industry standards, insurance, taxes, etc.
  • Agreements to protect your business
Module 5: Show Me the Money
  • Pricing/Fee Structure
  • How to set your fees to ensure profitability
  • Hourly based vs project/flat rate fees
  • How to create packages
  • Share fees with public, or hold back until prospect calls?
  • How to cross-sell and upsell clients to other business offerings
Module 6: Integrative Marketing and Communications
  • Learn how to create an internet presence for your business, and how to use the internet to market your business to the world
  • Traditional and online marketing strategies designed to market and grow your business
  • Create a marketing plan
  • Using social media, blogs and article marketing to establish credibility and expertise
Module 7: Networking & Public Relations
  • Learn how to partner with other businesses to grow your referral network and become power partners to serve target markets
  • Crafting a clever and creative elevator pitch
  • Learn how to create a press kit, and write an effective press release
  • Using reporter list serves
Module 8: The Sales Process
  • Dealing with Prospects/Overcoming Objections/Closing the Deal
  • Effective telephone and in-person consultations (how to avoid giving away the kitchen sink)
  • Dealing with and following-up with prospects
  • Overcoming typical sales objections
  • How to close the sales cycle
Module 9: Blueprinting Your Business: Business Operations
  • Developing policies and procedures
  • Creating an Operations Manual
  • Outsourcing and delegating
  • Team members: Independent contractors vs. Employees
Module 10: Course Wrap Up
  • ​Putting all of the pieces together
  • Taking action
  • Staying accountable
  • Parting thoughts




Special Bonuses

PLUS, immediate access to (this is already waiting for you once you register!):

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Lisa’s audio program, “Lessons Learned: 5 Lessons I Wish I Had Known When Building My Business
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Lisa’s audio program, “Decision Making as a Means to Living a Satisfying Life & Enjoying a Successful Business

 Just $399buy now

Private Coaching Upgrade available upon check out.

If you have any questions, email lisa@lisamontanaro.com

upgradeWant More One-on-One Access? Check out the Optional Upgrade: “Triple-Play” Individual Sessions with your Professor. If you need more targeted help, or want me to review your business ideas and materials, you have the option of upgrading and adding on a 3-session bundle at the special rate of only $499 (a $100 savings as a single Individual Session with me is regularly $200-3 sessions would regularly cost $600). LMGU is only offering this special upgrade offer in conjunction with this program – you will not be able to book this in any other way. This option is only available to you for up to 3 months after you purchase the SSES Home Study program.



A personal note from Lisa

​My goal is that you walk away from the Successfully Self Employed Semester Self-Study Course having gained knowledge AND application/implementation. I think you’ll agree that’s a terrific and important investment of your time and business capital. I stand behind the value that you will receive in this course. I know without a doubt that this is a small financial investment that you will recoup in future business sales and success – and the time it will save you from learning this on your own or through trial and error. Offering this program in a self-paced on-demand format is what allows me to keep the price at this level.

You might be wondering what makes me qualified to teach you this program.

If you know anything about my approach to business strategy, it is most definitely NOT a fill-in-the-blank, blueprint approach. It IS about building a business that is custom designed for you and your ideal clients.

I’ve built my business online and offline for 12 years (following a 9+ year successful, but eventually unsatisfying, career in law). I happen to think the combination of online and offline is very important in a business training program like this. Why? Because if you learn from someone that has only ever had an online business, he or she may not be in the best “been-there-done-that” position to advise you on offline business success. Many of my clients have what you would call a traditional business (i.e., not just virtual or online!). And many online businesses started by servicing in-person clients, whether they are a service based business or sell a tangible product.

I deliberately built my business with a hybrid consulting and coaching model, virtual and traditional, because I wanted to take advantage of the opportunities that technology provides entrepreneurs today to live anywhere in the world that I choose, but also wanted to be with people face-to-face and connect in the flesh when we could. I’ve designed my business to be flexible – I can choose what consulting projects and speaking engagements I take on (which typically involve travel, or at least, leaving my home office), and I can schedule the rest.

​The point is – my business model may not be your best business model. So instead of telling you there is only one model, or giving you a blueprint to follow, my approach is to show you the many options available, and facilitate the process that allows you to make the decision that is the best fit for your life and business goals. This is how I work with my private clients, and this is what you’ll experience when you do the “Successfully Self-Employed Semester Self-Study Course.”

What clients say they value most about working with me is my depth of knowledge, applied in a straight forward manner that delivers thoughtful and practical advice, and breaks down complex or confusing business topics into an easy to understand format.

Lisa is multi-talented but what I really like about her is her approachability. Lisa knows how to answer the tough questions while making sure you truly understand the answers.” ~ Angela Ploetz of A Red Bench

This is why I call myself a Success Coach and Business Strategist. I am not your typical Business Coach or Business Consultant. It is my mission to make sure that anyone that wants to be a business owner knows what that really means, whether it is the right path for them, and how to do it successfully.

I once heard an expert say “No ship sinks on my watch” and that’s exactly how I feel about you and your business success!

Warmly ~

Lisa-signature






IMG_0141“When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe one of two things will happen: There will be something solid for you to stand upon, or you will be taught how to fly.” ~ Patrick Overton

Let LMGU help teach you how to fly!



Testimonials

“Wow! Where do I begin when it comes to sharing about the bottom line impact that the Successfully Self Employed Semester offered by LMG University has had on my business, goals and perspective?! Some of the value I received in participating in this 12 week program was knowing that I’m going to save a ton of time and money implementing what I learned, versus stumbling around on my own trying to figure it out. During SSES, we thoroughly discussed the crucial topics needed to be a successful business owner. Due to Lisa’s exceptional expertise, as well as the camaraderie and team spirit of the participants, I accomplished several goals and tasks promptly and efficiently while learning how to increase my sales, legally protect, and automate my business. Belonging to a group of entrepreneurs who come with their unique backgrounds and experiences complimented by Lisa’s invaluable knowledge and business savvy, we were able to walk through personal and professional fears, and gain broader perspectives around what may be going on behind the scenes. We addressed some of the deeper issues holding us and our businesses back. What a gift to receive on-the-spot input, ideas and constructive feedback regarding my elevator speech, marketing materials, legal business status, and so much more. If you’re looking for a program that will show you how to maximize results and profits over the long haul, I highly recommend Lisa Montanaro’s Successfully Self Employed Semester.” ~ Natasha Rickert, www.EnergytoOrganize.com

“Lisa, I so enjoy the women’s entrepreneur mastermind group sessions that you facilitate. You share with us very practical and useful information that we can apply to our businesses and our personal lives. You provide the right balance between sharing and allowing us to reflect, ask questions, and comment. Also, thank you for being transparent, and sharing your successes and challenges that you have encountered in your business. This is both refreshing and gives us encouragement. Lastly, the handouts are great! Thank you for sharing some of the tools you use in your business. Not everyone would do this! I’m eagerly looking forward to the next sessions!” ~ Migdalia, Educational Consultant and Coach, Westchester County, NY

Christine-Sinclair“What a fantastic ​Women’s Enterprise Development Center Mastermind Class last night! I always get so much from your classes, but this last class blew my socks off. Everyone was changed last night. We all stayed after you left and talked about what happened for quite a while afterwards. I’m so sorry to see the classes coming to a close. Thanks so much for everything.” ~ Christine Sinclair

MaryStephaniePasqualetto“I have Lisa now as a mentor and coach for a women entrepreneur mastermind program that I am doing . . . And it is truly the best experience I have ever had.” ~ Mary Stephanie Pasqualetto

MichelleOSullivan“Taking the “DECIDE to be Organized” 6-week group coaching program with Lisa Montanaro was a business and personal decision that has been so motivating and empowering! It has changed me in so many positive ways. I am also a Professional Organizer and help others all the time with their organizing dilemmas. I took the DECIDE program to help myself, and learn from Lisa both personally and professionally. Over the six weeks, I had a sense of direction and was able to focus more on the areas that needed help, as I felt accountable. The weekly calls were a time to share and get feedback from the other participants, and for Lisa to share her knowledge and expertise. Lisa was so understanding and encouraging, and had a way of inspiring each of us to be better. I learned so much from this program and would recommend it to anyone who knows they want to make changes, and just needs some help to get there!” ~ Michelle O’Sullivan, Saving Spaces, Burlington, Ontario, Canada

“How committed are you?” This is the question I asked the participants of Speak Up: Crafting and Delivering Killer Presentations that I co-presented with my colleague and friend, Monica Ricci, as a pre-conference session at the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) 2013 Conference held in New Orleans from April 17-20. We were entering the 4th hour of our half-day workshop, and I was introducing the last module of our program, called Expect the Unexpected. But to fully grasp the meaning behind my question, I must back up and fill you in on what I am now calling my Planes, Trains and Automobiles experience (okay, sans the trains if we are being technical!).

Lisa_at_NAPO_table

All of the materials for my Expo table were in my carry on bag.

I set out to travel to the NAPO conference early morning on April 16th to ensure that I would arrive the day before my workshop, which was to start at 8:00 am on April 17th. Ah… the best laid plans. I packed a large suitcase as I was to be on business traveling for 10 days in the Southeast, first to New Orleans to speak at the NAPO Conference, and then to Tampa to speak at a law placement conference. I dutifully paid my $25 checked baggage fee on American Airlines and was on my way. Usually, I would put my presentation outfit in my carry on bag, but that was filled with materials for the table I purchased as an Exhibitor at the NAPO Expo & Marketplace. (This was my first lesson learned… always pack your presentation outfit in your carry on no matter what!)

At first, things seemed great. I sat next to two very friendly and interesting people for the first leg from Sacramento to Dallas, where I was to connect to a flight to New Orleans, putting me in the Big Easy by late afternoon. But when we landed in Dallas, the pilot announced that we could not “park” the plane as American Airlines’ computer system had gone down and they had no directions as to how to proceed. We then sat on the tarmac for an hour waiting further direction. Eventually, we found out that it was system wide, and not just in Dallas. Apparently, there is no back up plan for when the computers go down, except to wait for them to come back up. As a productivity expert, this incensed me as I started going through in my mind the procedure that should have been in place for this type of scenario. After an hour, they started taking people off the 7 planes stuck out on the tarmac and brought us to the terminal via buses.

As soon as I arrived in the terminal and saw what a mess it was, in terms of how many people were stuck there and how many flights were delayed and canceled, my first reaction was to rent a car to get to New Orleans. I checked Google Maps on my iPhone and learned that it was an 8.5 hour drive. Ouch! I had woken really early to get to the airport so was a bit sleep deprived and worried about making that drive alone. It was now about 2:00 pm on Tuesday, April 16th and I calculated that I wouldn’t arrive in New Orleans until 11:00 pm at the earliest, as there was no way I could drive that long without stopping.

Twiiter-travelSo, I waited. And waited. And waited. And I tweeted on Twitter, and posted on Facebook to keep my friends, family, clients and followers apprised of the situation. A reporter from NBC News emailed me and asked if she could interview me about the situation. She had seen one of my tweets. I complied and the next thing I knew, I was on the phone filling her in. Her story went to print a few hours later, unfortunately before the “real” story unfolded. When her story went to print, it ended with me getting ready to board a 7:00 pm flight to New Orleans. Ah, timing is everything. That’s not what happened. No indeed!

At 7:00 pm, we were advised that our crew had gone “illegal,” which we found out meant they had left the airport. Okay… so when will the next crew arrive, we asked. Not until tomorrow morning at 10:00 am. What? Excuse me? It is only 7:00 pm, we have been here for 6 hours waiting, almost all other flights have taken off or been rescheduled, but for New Orleans, there were no flights going out that evening. That was the harsh reality. In that split second, I had to make a choice. I went up to the desk and very clearly and loudly, but politely asked if they would re-route us onto other airlines. The American Airlines agent said that it was not their responsibility to do that and the next flight was the one the next morning. That was our only choice. I mentioned that I had to present at 8:00 am the next day, so that was unacceptable. I was told to go out to the customer care desk and wait on line with others. I saw the writing on the wall. There was no hope with getting a flight that night. So I turned around, looked at my fellow passengers and said “Who wants to drive with me to New Orleans? I have to be there in time to present at 8:00 am?” A woman stepped forward, and we started planning out the trip. Then two more women (a couple that had just been married in the state of Washington after being together for 25 years — this was the first day of their honeymoon!), and a man.

View of sun rising over Mississippi River from my hotel room in New Orleans after my "all nighter."

View of sun rising over Mississippi River from my hotel room in New Orleans after my “all nighter.”

The 5 of us quickly rallied. We rented a car, decided who would drive the first leg, navigated out of the airport (it felt so good to be out of that airport after 6+ hours!), stopped for provisions for the long drive and to charge cell phones quickly, and introduced ourselves and shared why we were heading to New Orleans. All of them were from the Seattle area, and two of them even had a mutual acquaintance back home. Yes, they were total strangers and I was taking a big chance, but they seemed pretty normal, and “stranger antenna” wasn’t beeping, so I had a suspicion it would be okay. I sent a text to my husband, who was of course, nervous and asked me if the man seemed normal (I realized later he never went to sleep until I was at the hotel in New Orleans to make sure I arrived safely and to call and text me every few hours to stay in touch!). Winds up that he and I spent the most time driving and talking in the front seat, and he spends his life helping people that need organ transplants. Talk about a nice guy. (Please refrain from jokes about how he was planning to kill us and steal our organs — I’ve heard it many times already since I told this story!)

The ride was long, but thankfully flat and with perfect weather conditions. It was dark and desolate, but that also meant hardly any traffic. After my turn at the wheel, I was forced to sit on the hump in the middle of the back seat because I was the smallest. Between that uncomfortable position, and the fact that one of the drivers was, let’s say, not the smoothest of drivers (she had many cans of Red Bull to keep herself awake, but that also made her a bit jumpy!), sleep was out of the question. Not a wink. I wound up being in charge of the music, which we accessed from my iPad because every station between Texas and Louisiana is either religious or honky-tonk country, and none of us had a taste for either. Pandora’s Motown station fit the bill, kept us awake, had something all of us knew and could bee-bop along to, and seemed appropriate as this was sort of a Big Chill experience in some ways.

Lisa_and_Monica3We drove by Baton Rouge, which I had visited last year with my husband when he interviewed for a veterinary residency position at Louisiana State University (we wound up in Davis, CA, a lovely town, but I digress). I had never been so happy to see a familiar place!  A little after 4:30 am, we arrived in New Orleans. I was dropped off first based on my hotel location and the fact that I was presenting in a few hours. Bless their hearts! (This, I learned, is a pretty typical Southern phrase, and one that you say in earnest, but often times, out of sarcasm too!).

By the time I checked in and got upstairs to my hotel room, it was just about 5:00 am. I was to be standing in front of a room full of people that paid to attend the pre-conference workshop I was co-presenting in 3 hours. I had no luggage (it arrived at 7:30 am the next day), which meant no clothes or toiletries. Thankfully, my amazing colleagues came through for me, and I was brought a dress and shoes to wear, which fit perfectly I might add (I posted my clothes and shoe sizes on Facebook, with a plea for clothes back at the airport hours earlier when I saw the writing on the wall!). The hotel gave me a toothbrush and I borrowed other toiletries from my very understanding roommate that I woke up when I arrived. What about my undergarments you ask? Nothing is open at 5:00 am, and even if they were, I was not about to roam the streets of New Orleans looking for underwear. So, after I showered, I not only dried my hair with the blow dryer, I also dried my underwear! (I kid you not.)

Lisa_and_Monica

Ready to present in my borrowed dress and shoes with Monica Ricci.

My co-presenter had a plate of breakfast food waiting for me in the room when I came down to present, which I gobbled up, along with a mug of hot tea. Then it was 8:00 am and time to begin. Despite having left my home in California more than 24 hours before, having no sleep, and dealing with the stressful travel events that unfolded, the show had to go on. Adrenaline kicked in, and I was ready to go. I stood before the group in someone else’s dress, another person’s shoes, my own (now clean and almost fully dry!) underwear, and thankfully, my own jewelry that I wore on the plane and happened to match my new outfit perfectly. I had my notes for the presentation in my carry on (and in my head as we had prepared for this for months), and my co-presenter had the slides ready to go on her Mac already hooked up to the projector.

We decided not to share my ordeal with the audience up front as we didn’t want it to pull focus. We thought it would have much more impact if we brought it up during the last section, Expect the Unexpected. Which brings me full circle to the question I asked the participants: “How committed are you?”

I did not intend to ask that question. But, as I stood in front of them, all of a sudden it seemed quite clear that this was the crux of the matter. Whether it is making a speaking engagement, or anything else in life that matters, the issue becomes how committed are we. There are many challenges we face, some bigger than others. We are constantly forced to make decisions. We often think of giving up. I certainly thought of it many times during my harried travel experience. I could have stayed overnight in Dallas and taken that flight the next morning, and told NAPO, my co-presenter, and the participants that I just couldn’t make it. Luckily, my co-presenter could have presented the entire workshop without me. But I did not want to let her down. I also did not want to let NAPO down who had chosen me for this role. I definitely did not want to let the participants down who had paid good money, and taken time out of their busy schedules to attend this workshop and expected it to have not one, but two, presenters. And I also did not want to let myself down. I was looking forward to this, and had the power to make it work. I was committed in every sense of the word.

Monica and I a few days later when I moderated the Ask the Organizer Panel - in my own clothes and shoes!

Monica and I a few days later when I moderated the Ask the Organizer Panel – in my own clothes and shoes!

And in the long run, that commitment not only affected me, but so many people around me. They rose to the occasion, helping me arrive safely, dressing me, feeding me, supporting me, and letting me know that I could do it, and they were there to help. That meant a lot to me and proved that when we are committed, it not only helps us, but has an amazing domino effect too. Word spread about what I went through to get there and how many people helped me in so many ways. It became bigger than just one person experiencing a Planes, Trains and Automobiles ordeal, and overcoming it. We felt like we were all in it together. And the participants of the workshop felt that they were important and mattered.

In the end, that may have been the most important lesson for all of us. Commitment is contagious.  It is much bigger than just the one experience or person. It creates a commitment wave that spreads wide and goes deep. And for that, I am grateful. I will gladly learn that lesson again, even if it means no sleep, driving overnight with strangers… and yes, blow drying my underwear!

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
~ e.e. cummings

Does this describe you?

  • You want to reignite the passion for your work.
  • You would love to leap into a new career if only you had the guts to jump ship.
  • You want to become the leader in your career that is deep inside of you yearning to step into his or her power.
Well, you can!

Reinventing yourself in the workplace and in your career is possible. I will show you how to play to your strengths, discover your passions, and own your power and confidence as you plan your next career move.

I have years of experience coaching individuals on career issues, both from my background as an employment lawyer and by serving as a freelance career consultant for several law schools and on a freelance basis.  I’ve had the pleasure of assisting individuals with varied careers, including lawyers, rabbis, professional musicians, CEOs, entrepreneurs, and financial services professionals to name a few.

“I have known Lisa Montanaro for five years. Since meeting her, she has served as a career coach and mentor to me. Because of her extensive experience and knowledge, I have always valued her opinion and insight. She seems to always have a solution. In fact, Lisa just assisted me in applying for a position that I received an offer for. Her help was invaluable from application to interview to negotiating an offer. I start my new job next month and am thrilled! I am fortunate to have met her.”  ~ Sheila, Middletown, NY


Career Transition and Job Search

Some people change careers by choice and others by necessity. If you are ready for change, you are not alone. Pursue what you REALLY want to do!

Take the first steps toward a career or business that best complements your unique abilities and interests, one that provides meaning and fulfillment so you wake up saying, “I LOVE what I do!”

Dust off the ideas you’ve pushed to the back of your mind – you know the ones (e.g., starting your own business, becoming a veterinarian, making a career of travel, transitioning to the non-profit sector, etc.). Whatever that dream is, let’s make it happen.

Career transition and job search services include:

  • Self assessment (values, interests, personality and skills), strengths identification, and finding a satisfying career role.
  • Navigating career transitions in and out of the workplace.
  • Research of jobs, industries, and potential employers.
  • Identifying and building a personal brand for success.
  • Developing an effective professional toolkit: resumes, CVs, cover letters, and thank you letters.
  • Honing professional image and effective communication techniques.
  • Perfecting your elevator pitch and marketing yourself in the job search.
  • Building and nurturing professional networks and relationships.
  • Strategies for work-life balance.
  • Leaving a traditional job to launch a business.
  • Interview preparation.
  • Post–interview follow-up.

“Thank you again for your career coaching guidance. It helped me put a lot of thought into the places I was applying. I realized that it is critical to “believe in” what I am doing. Yes, office work is office work, but at the end of the day, I have to feel I am doing something worthwhile.  I ended up with three interviews scheduled in one week and two offers coming in on the same day! The job I wound up accepting is a perfect fit. And you hear it over and over today, but even though I am making less money, I am happier.  The thought process that you helped me with really steered me in this direction. Otherwise I would most likely just have repeated history, taken the better paying job and eventually found myself dissatisfied. Thanks again for everything.” ~ Heidi, Beacon, NY


Professional Development  & Growth

Take your professional and leadership abilities to the next level. Expand your experience in areas such as change management, employee relations, and team dynamics.

Explore new communication, management, and leadership skills that will increase your effectiveness, engage and empower you (and your staff if you have one!), and exceed expectations.

Professional Development & Growth services include:

  • Executive coaching for supervisors and leaders.
  • Identifying and building a personal brand for success.
  • Coaching on job satisfaction.
  • Productivity consulting, including time management and streamlining personal systems.
  • Honing professional poise and effective communication techniques.
  • Perfecting your elevator pitch for your career and current position.
  • Building and nurturing professional networks and relationships.
  • Strategies for work/life balance.
  • Effectively navigating office conflict.
  • Setting and achieving goals for your career and position.
  • Etiquette for business professionals, including poise, image, wardrobe, and cultural protocol.
  • Interview and public speaking coaching.
  • Developing leadership techniques for emerging professionals

Be sure to visit the Corporate/Organizational Consulting page for more information about coaching and consulting services for business professionals, and the Speaking page for information on speaking and training workshops offered in the workplace.

Take Action

Career & Professional Development Coaching is generally done in the form of one-on-one coaching via phone or Skype (or in person if we are close enough geographically).

You can book a Strategy Session online if you know you want a targeted session and are ready to get started.

Coaching slots are available on a first come, first serve basis. When I receive your payment, I will email you a pre-session questionnaire (Coaching Profile) so that I can become more familiar with what you want to work on and we can jump right in.

If you want to explore longer term options, such as VIP Intensives or my Platinum Level Coaching Programs, then let’s set up a Discovery Call to see what is the best match for you at this time.

Lisa Montanaro will move and manage Warwick firm from West Coast, thanks to technology

WARWICK — When Warwick resident Lisa Montanaro, a productivity consultant, success coach, business strategist, speaker and author, moves to California, she will not only continue to manage the business she established here, she will expand it.

In 2002, Montanaro founded LM Organizing Solutions, LLC, which offered a variety of services including organizing, business and life coaching and motivational speaking. The company prospered as it drew on her skills as a lawyer, educator, mediator and performer. Today that Warwick company is the organizing division of Lisa Montanaro Global Enterprises.

Montanaro is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and the National Speakers Association (NSA). She has presented professionally to audiences throughout the United States and has been interviewed by many television and radio hosts. And her written content has been widely published online and in print. She is the author of “The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life,” published by Peter Pauper Press.

For the past decade Montanaro has lived in Warwick with her husband, Sean, a veterinarian.

This July, the couple and their two dogs, Dublin and Jerry, will move to Northern California. The relocation was prompted when her husband secured a prestigious three-year residency in veterinary internal medicine at the University of California at Davis.

But with modern communications technology, Montanaro, who was already traveling and serving clients throughout the nation and beyond, can simply expand her client base while continuing to conduct business as usual for those back East.

Headed in this direction
In the past few years, Montanaro has achieved success with expanding her business model and services, publishing a book and doing national speaking engagements. This path has allowed her to realize that she can live anywhere while her husband pursues his specialization in the field of veterinary internal medicine.

 

“I have been moving in the direction of a more global/virtual business model for years with coaching, consulting, speaking and online programs, and this has surely forced me to really change over,” she said. “But I am keeping the business open here and making my business bi-coastal. I plan to come back to this area every few months to do speaking engagements and book time servicing my clients in the New York area.”

Montanaro has a residential organizing associate, Camille O’Connor, and other team members that assist her as needed so even if she is not physically here, people who want to get organized can still do so under her business umbrella. And for those who want to work with Montanaro one-on-one, they can get on a wait list for the next time she returns or they can work with her virtually by phone, Skype and e-mail. For coaching, consulting and speaking, distance and geography are no longer a factor.

“Many of my clients and I have never met in person,” she explained, “and yet we have successfully co-created their business ventures, career transitions and life changes together. And I already travel for national speaking engagements, so the only thing that will change is the airport I use.”

As much as she is excited about this new venture, Montanaro admits she will miss Warwick.

“It will always hold a special place in my heart,” she said. “I have lived here for 10 years, and it has been an awesome decade that I will cherish. I chose to live here for the beauty and open space, but now realize that it’s true beauty is the people.”

Essential information
Lisa Montanaro Global Enterprises can be contacted by calling 845-988-0183 in New York or 530-302-5306 in California. Visit www.LisaMontanaro.com.

By Roger Gavan

Bring order to your chaotic life with five fantastic organizational tools

By Guest Blogger, Jane Johnson

Picking up a few sophisticated scheduling apps is a must if you want to use your phone to become more productive in your day. Whether you are looking for a daily organizer, a task manager, or period tracker, the following five apps provide user-friendly scheduling functionality.

Download the following 5 calendar apps to put your life in order…

1. Remember the Milk (Free – for iPhone)

Dubbed the “Swiss Army knife of to-do list management” by Lifehacker.com, Remember the Milk is an app that enables users to take their to-do lists with them… anywhere they happen to be! This app will synch with your Outlook, iCal, Gmail, Google Calendar, etc.  Complete tasks on the go as you search tasks and organize them by priority, due date, time estimate, lists, tags, and more. You can also coordinate tasks by location by viewing tasks near one another, and then planning a task route according to the most efficient way to get everything done.

2. Dropbox (Free – for Android)

It was just the other day that I realized that I couldn’t possibly live without Dropbox! This app allows me to save all of my photos, word documents, and videos from my smart phone—which then automatically backs them up on all of my computers and mobile devices (as well as the Dropbox website). Talk about safe keeping! Thanks to the Dropbox app, I’m able to take everything that matters to my life and my job on the go, and have instant access to it wherever I go.

3. Evernote (Free – for iPhone)

I just got back from a trip to Los Angeles, and thank goodness for the Evernote app. This app helped me seamlessly plan my very short 3 day trip, kept track of all my travel plans (including my flight e-tickets and passport), helped me organize and save my receipts so I could redeem them with my employer, and plan a daily itinerary that I could use to check off tasks as I completed them.  Thanks to Evernote I was able to organized, take notes and photos, and record voice reminders while I was at work and play during my trip.

4. Toodledo Pro ($1.99 – for BlackBerry)

Toodledo Pro is an app that simply improves productivity. This app allows users to organize tasks according to folders, tags, contexts, subtasks, and more—then search and sort through these same tasks using your preferred search method. And the great thing is that you can take Toodledo with you anywhere—via your mobile phone, on your laptop calendar, or integrated directly into your web browser. Plus, Toodledo makes collaboration effortless. It’s never been easier to work with a remote group of people on shared projects with collaboration tools that let you share documents, images, and project details, import existing tasks to delegate responsibilities among individuals, and import tasks from various sources into one central task management tool.

5. Dragon Dictation (Free – for iPhone)

The Dragon Dictation app allows users to speak and instantly record their thoughts, reminders, or notes to themselves via text or email. It’s a great tool for when you need to work hands-free (since dictation is 5-times faster than typing on a keyboard) and a lot safer if you’re operating a vehicle.  You can use this app for work or fun! For instance, easily dictate status updates directly to your Social Networking applications such as Facebook or Twitter. Dragon Dictation is available in various languages—including English, Spanish, German, etc.

Bio: Jane Johnson is a writer for GoingCellular, a popular site that provides cell phone related news, commentary, reviews on mobile service providers  and popular devices like the Android powered Samsung phones.

A Special Note to my Clients, Colleagues, Family and Friends,

Okay, I have big news and I can’t hold it in any longer! I have grappled with when to “go public” about it, but the timing feels right AND I am not the type of person that likes to hold things back, so here goes.

My husband, Sean, officially heard that he matched for a 3-year residency in veterinary internal medicine at the University of California at Davis, so in the words of Led Zeppelin, we are “Going to California…”. Wow! He starts August 1st so we leave mid-July. Our plan is to take our time and road trip across the country in our VW with our 2 dogs in the back seat, stopping to see friends and family, and some great sites along the way.

I am so happy for him and proud of him. He took a big chance and went for it! He asked me my advice as a l ife and career coach, and I told him that if he would have any regrets down the road, to take the chance now and I was in full support of him. Most veterinarians specialize right after their internship and he has been a general practitioner for 11 years so he was a very atypical candidate. Meanwhile, he was like the Superstar of the match and got his first choice!

As you can well imagine, there are some major logistics involved, and some mixed emotions for us. It is bittersweet as in order to embark on this journey, we need to leave our home, friends, and family in this area — not to mention my clients who I get very attached to! So there have been some tears too. But overall, we are looking at it as a great adventure.

I have been moving in the direction of a more global/virtual business model for years with coaching, consulting, speaking and online programs, and this has surely forced me to really change over. BUT I am keeping the business open here in NY (so will have an East Coast and West Coast office, making my business bi-coastal — love that!). I plan to come back East every two months or so to do speaking engagements and book a week servicing my clients in the NY area. So don’t write me off just yet — you can’t get rid of me that easily! I also now have an organizing associate who handles residential organizing for me, so we will see how it goes… it will be an experiment, and surely one I can pass onto my business coaching clients as I learn from it (if any of you are thinking of expanding your business in the future, I got your back!).

All of this is my way of saying that I’d love to continue to work with you even after I relocate, and am set up to do so through my coaching packages and programs via phone, Skype, and e-mail. So if you hear I am jumping ship from NY as of July, I wanted you to know the truth and know that I am still very much in the picture if you want me to be. 🙂 I will travel for speaking engagements, large consulting projects, and will be sure to let my private clients know when I am going to be in their neck of the woods to book in-person sessions with me.

Also, if you want to take a road trip or write off a business retreat to beautiful Northern California, come work with me on the West Coast in person! I will be doing VIP Intensives with clients out there. I’ll be living one hour from San Francisco, one hour from Napa/Sonoma Valley, and two hours from Lake Tahoe — talk about a great area! Indeed, I am planning an entrepreneur retreat in Napa Valley for 2013, so stay tuned.

And if you are in the NY area, and want to double-up on our in-person work together while we have the opportunity, then please let me know so I can book you into my busy schedule over the next few months. 

 

Warmly,  

 

Is the Threat of a Lawsuit a Real Fear?

As a small business owner, you may be one of the 48% concerned about frivolous or unfair lawsuits.  According to the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, actual lawsuits and the fear of lawsuits cost U.S. small businesses $98 million in 2005.  That figure may seem large because it includes money spent on damage awards, settlements, legal costs, liability insurance premiums, and costs incurred by insurance companies on behalf of policyholders.  Is the fear of lawsuits a real fear?  Unfortunately, yes.  Anybody can sue anybody over anything at any time.  In reality, 46% of small business owners have been threatened with a lawsuit, 34% have been sued in the past 10 years, and 62% have made business decisions to avoid lawsuits.  Indeed, small businesses bear 69% of the total cost of the tort system to all U.S. businesses.

What is the Best Course of Action?

What’s a small business owner to do?  For starters, realize that the best defense is a great offense.  While most small business owners fear the law, it is much wiser to use the law as a protective shield.  There are many business and legal components that contribute to creating the strongest shield possible – business entities (the type of structure that governs your business), insurance, and intellectual property (copyright, trademark, patent, and trade secrets) to name a few.

As a former full-time practicing attorney and now a small business owner, I have been on both sides of the fence when it comes to the legal issues a business owner may face.  It is imperative that organizers understand the basics of the legal side of running an organizing business, and how to use the law as a shield to protect yourself and your business.

Creating a Shield Through Business Structure

The first item an organizing business owner should consider is the structure of the business.  There are 4 basic types of business entities: sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and limited liability company.  A common misconception of small business owners is that the business entity itself always creates a legal shield.  In some instances (a corporation, or limited liability company, for example), this is generally true.  However, if you are a sole proprietor (and, if so, you are not alone, as 78% of all small businesses in the U.S. are sole proprietorships), then you essentially have no shield.  As a sole proprietor, you are personally liable for all business debts and other obligations.  Fortunately, the law is not the only means to create a shield to protect your business.  If the business entity itself does not provide a shield, then you can create one by acquiring appropriate and adequate insurance coverage.  Thus, a sole proprietorship that is adequately protected by insurance may have an effective shield.

In the case of partnerships, another misconception is that the partnership is a distinct legal entity that provides a shield.  A partnership is essentially a sole proprietorship run by two or more individuals.  Thus, the structure itself provides no shield.  Again, insurance can be used to fill in the gap, and/or a different business entity can be chosen.  For example, did you know that you can create a corporation and the same two people that would have created a partnership will now be shareholders?  What about a limited liability company with more than one member?  There are many ways for two or more individuals to own a business together.  Carefully consider which makes the most sense, not only from an operations and decision-making standpoint, but to garner the most legal protection for the owners involved.

Even with corporations and limited liability companies, there are limits to the force of the shield.  Simply creating a business entity is not enough.  The business must be operated as a distinct legal entity, including refraining from co-mingling of personal and business funds, keeping personal guarantees on behalf of the company to a minimum, maintaining corporate/business records, and paying business-related taxes.  If the business entity is a sham or the owner does not follow the rules in terms of keeping the business shield up, the legal doctrine of “piercing the corporate veil” may be applied by a court if the business is sued.  Piercing the corporate veil allows a litigant to pierce the business structure and reach the owner personally.  Granted, piercing the corporate veil is only applied in very limited situations, but it should be used as a reminder to keep that shield up at all times when it comes to operating your organizing business as a distinct legal entity.

Creating a Shield Through a Written Client Agreement

As an organizer, when you agree to perform services for a client, and the client agrees to pay you for such services, you and your client have entered into a legal contract.  The terms of the contract, however, are difficult to recall and prove unless in writing.  A written contract is pivotal as it puts clients on notice of business policies and terms, sets a professional tone, promotes consistency of policies, and is legally enforceable in court (the decision whether to sue a client to enforce a contract is, of course, a business decision, as well as a legal one, and should be carefully considered).  The contract, thus, helps to prevent misunderstandings and clearly defines the expectations of the parties.

Some organizers choose not to use contracts for fear that a written agreement may be too formal or legal in nature and, thus, may scare a client away.  Again, this is a business decision that should be given consideration, and you should determine if this is a real or imagined fear by communicating with your clients to test the waters.  You can also use a “letter agreement,” which may be less intimidating for residential clients.  In the corporate organizing arena, a written contract is generally expected.  Another disadvantage of using a written contract is the cost of creating and advising if you use an attorney.  While there are standardized contract forms available online and in books, be careful not to accept such standardized forms carte blanche.  I often see small business owners fail to adapt contracts appropriately, which causes embarrassing typos, inappropriate clauses, and general confusion.  Not only does this look unprofessional, but in extreme cases it can also result in unenforceability of the contract in court.  Therefore, it is a good idea to have a business lawyer review the agreement to make sure it adequately protects you, contains the relevant terms, and fulfills the goals you want to accomplish.  It is an expense worth paying for to secure adequate protection in the long term.

A word of caution: stay away from “legalese.”  Use plain English so that the agreement is easy to understand and helps, rather than hinders, the understanding between you and your clients.  If you do use a client agreement, here is a list of sample clauses you should consider including:

  • Definition of the parties (define your status as an independent contractor if the contract is for corporate organizing);
  • Services to be performed;
  • Code of ethics;
  • Confidentiality;
  • Pricing and payment policies (pricing structure, retainer guidelines, travel time or expense, shopping charges, cancellation policy, when payment is due, fee for bounced check, credit card acceptance, payment of expenses, etc.);
  • Provision of materials, equipment, and office space;
  • Assurance of insurance coverage;
  • State law governance;
  • Permission to take and use photos;
  • Term of agreement/termination of relationship.

Now, go forth with shields raised!

The information provided in this article is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues commonly encountered.  For a comprehensive overview of legal issues involved in running an organizing business, refer to the CD “Navigating the Legal Landmines of an Organizing Business”  from the 2008 NAPO Conference in Reno, NV. 

Contact Lisa Montanaro by visiting www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com, by email at Lisa@LMOrganizingSolutions.com, or by phone at
(845) 988-0183.

This article originally appeared in NAPO News, Volume 23, Number 4, September 2008
Copyright © 2008 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2008. Lisa Montanaro is a Productivity Consultant, Success Coach, Business Strategist, Speaker and Author who helps people live successful and passionate lives, and operate productive and profitable businesses. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for success-minded individuals, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com. Lisa is the author of The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life, published by Peter Pauper Press. Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through her work, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how Lisa can help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at Lisa@LMOrganizingSolutions.com.

I am always amazed at how travel can improve your business and your life. Recently, my husband and I visited the beautiful Caribbean island of St. Lucia. It was a fantastic vacation by all accounts. The island is a marvel of nature with soaring peaks, an active volcano, lush rainforests, volcanic sand beaches, etc. We stayed at a really special place called Ti Kaye Village Resort and booked through a wonderful local company named Serenity Tours. I was able to unplug from my busy life back home, and truly enjoy a tropical escape. However, I did not turn my business brain off just because I was on vacation. To the contrary, I carefully observed and realized that travel in general, and the people of St. Lucia in particular, can teach us a lot about how to run successful businesses and live better lives. Here are the lessons learned.

  • Great Customer Service Gets Noticed – We all know how important good customer service is. But how many businesses truly excel at customer service? At Ti Kaye, the little touches made a big impact. The check-in procedure gave us a glimpse of how amazing the service is. You arrive and are given a complimentary drink (rum punch!), a banana leaf necklace is placed around your neck, you sit in the open air bar enjoying the view, and the manager comes over to introduce herself and tell you about the resort. You sign one piece of paper, give a credit card, and then are shown to your cottage, where your bags are already waiting for you. What got our attention was how personalized it was, and how it didn’t feel like a traditional check-in. There’s no lobby. You’re sitting at an open-air bar with an amazing view of the Caribbean Sea. Another example of the excellent customer service is the complimentary neck and shoulder massages before dinner. (Don’t even get me started on the spa!) It was the little things that made a big difference, and truly got our attention. From a business standpoint, customer service is not only still king, but gets noticed and creates true fans of your business.
  • Make Your Clients Feel Special by Personalizing the ServiceOur tour guide from Serenity Tours, John, actually took the time before he met us to find out what we do for a living, and then weaved it into the conversation. For example, he saw that I do motivational speaking on my website, and commented how much he loves Tony Robbins and finds motivational speaking so inspirational. He found out that my husband is a veterinarian, and shared that his sister-in-law is also a veterinarian. He offered to arrange for us to tour her vet practice on the island. That type of personalized approach in going deep with your clients, researching them, and really taking the time to find out what makes them unique goes a long way. We truly felt special. I have no doubt that Serenity does that for all of its clients, as all service-based business owners should do.
  • Manners & Friendliness Count – St. Lucians are friendly, warm, and open people, and this makes visitors feel welcome and appreciated. This is something we can all benefit from in life and in our business with our clients. Manners and friendliness make a difference! For example, they call elder women “Mom” in the British tradition as a sign of respect. We noticed it and thought it was a nice touch. We were always greeted with a friendly salutation, thanked for our service, and were even treated to some warm, big hugs when saying good-bye. Treat your clients with respect, mind your manners, and engage them with warmth and affection.
  • Challenge Yourself – There are twin volcanic peaks on the island called The Pitons. You can hike Gros Piton, which is 2600 feet high. It is a serious physical challenge, but also a mental one. It took us 2 hours to reach the summit, and then 2 hours to hike back down. It is a difficult hike as the trail is very rocky so you have to really watch your footing, and it is steep. But, it is worth it! The views from the top are incredible! Doing something like that when you are traveling, or even in everyday life, can remind you of your own strength and resilience personally and professionally. Are there new business ideas that you are dying to implement but have been holding yourself back? Challenge yourself. The rewards may be amazing once you reach the “summit.”
  • Be Authentic – We loved hearing about the history of the people that live near Gros Piton in the community called Fond Gens Libres (land of the free). The community was originally formed of Royalists escaping the guillotine during the French Revolution, and then slaves that had escaped or been freed (St. Lucia abolished slavery in 1834.) There are only about 100 descendents of those original ancestors living in the community of Fond Gens Libre today, and they are fiercely independent. They stand true to their beliefs and way of life. Their example serves as a powerful reminder to stand by your beliefs, your views, and be authentic to your true self personally and professionally.
  • Give Prospects a Free Taste – At the resort where we were staying, there is a lovely secluded beach called Anse Cochon. And there are some local “beach dudes,” which is their official term according to the St. Lucians. One is known as the Fruit Man. He climbs trees every morning and fills up his kayak with coconuts, bananas, and a number of other delicious tropical fruit. He then kayaks out to the visiting catamarans that come to the cove for snorkeling excursions. We would watch him and think, “Do people really buy from him?” “How does he make a living as there are not that many tourists on this secluded beach?” We soon had our answer. While we were swimming one day, he kayaks over to us, cracks open a coconut and says, “Taste.” So of course, what do we do? We taste. And it is this fresh, delicious coconut water, surrounded by fresh coconut meat. We are in heaven. He tells us that he will bring us another one later in the week, and if we really love it, then we can pay him for both. We get another one a day or two later, and then a third one on our final day, and we pay him for all three. That’s when it dawns on me that Fruit Man is an amazing sales person. Why? Because he gave us a free irresistible taste of what he sells, and once we experienced it, we were hooked! This is a great example of giving your clients a free taste of your services and expertise. Whether it is a free monthly e-zine, a preview teleclass, a free phone consultation, a free special report or article, a Facebook Fan Page where you post tips or provide extra value, etc. Don’t be stingy with your expertise and content, as it will come back to you in sales and fans – at least three-fold if the Fruit Man is any lesson.
  • Rejuvenate & Refresh – Unplugging, decompressing, relaxing, and leaving the daily grind of your life is a great opportunity to rejuvenate and refresh so that you come back ready to face your life and work again. So make time for travel and vacations. They are an important part of staying fresh. Besides, you just may learn some fantastic business lessons too!

Copyright © 2010 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2009. Lisa Montanaro is a Productivity Consultant, Success Coach, Business Strategist, Speaker and Author who helps people live successful and passionate lives, and operate productive and profitable businesses. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for success-minded individuals, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com. Lisa is the author of The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life, published by Peter Pauper Press. Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through her work, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how Lisa can help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at Lisa@LMOrganizingSolutions.com.