Tuesday, July 28, 2015

It’s Simply Business Don’t Take It Personal By: Angelia White


You've probably heard the saying, "business is never personal" or "don't take it personal, it's only business.” I know throughout my career working as CEO and publisher of Hope for Women Magazine, this phrase, I can say have heard hundreds of times. Being cognizant of this phrase, I have come to realize that many times business matters shouldn't be taken personal. After all business is only business. Or is it? Not taking things personal can be quite difficult in some situations. Especially when it's your business and other people are involved ─ which has become one of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far in my career. 

Being an entrepreneur, you tend to experience the ups and downs of going into business for yourself. I’ve heard stories from various colleagues and their experiences of how oftentimes individuals with whom they have hired are far more than just business associates. I myself have brought people on board to work for Hope, where previously, these individuals and I began as being really as good friends. Just as with my counterparts, they shared a common vision for the future of my business, thus a business professional relationship ensued. As in any business, problems and challenges are to be expected, especially when it's a startup company. In which case they are pretty much guaranteed. However leaping over these hurdles often strengthens the bond between entrepreneurs that have a shared vision and strive for a common goal ─ the success of their business venture! 

But what happens when those relationships deteriorates? What if personalities begin to clash or if visions begin to grow apart. There may come a point where it would be in the best interest for all parties concerned to end their business relationship.

When faced with situations like these, the words "don't take it personal” tend to fall short. I absolutely agree 100 percent that when it comes to entrepreneurs, there is almost nothing more personal than their business, and I speak from experience. We have sacrificed greatly for our businesses to succeed. And it is he or she that has made the business what it is today. Think of successful business persons like Bill Gates, Jack Welch and Steve Jobs, and ask yourself, would these individuals have ever achieved their current levels of success without taking their businesses personal?  I say, it is their business to take personal! Look around you for examples that are a bit closer to home. Almost everyone knows an example of a corner store, their favorite ice-cream parlor or bakery that sets itself apart because of the owner who is running it. That owner makes a difference because he or she takes their business personal. 

Whether you're dealing with business partners, employees, customers or other stakeholders. If you are in business, especially your own business, there will be times when you will have to make unpopular decisions. You may have to do things that you would rather not do. Nevertheless when it's necessary, it's necessary. Don't worry about letting if affect you every once and a while. Some things ought to be taken personal ─ just don't take it too personal.

Connect with Angelia White on Twitter @angelialwhite Learn more about products and services at Hope For Women Magazine. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

When Faced with Tough Choices, Perspective Trumps All by Natasha Miller Williams

Photo Credit: www.THREE20media.com
Over breakfast I asked my then three-year-old son, “How’s your cereal?”

Without looking up from his bowl, he asked me, “How’s your computer?”

Blank stare.

I was feeding the kids, preparing an agenda, and emptying my inbox before a full day of conference calls. While my multitasking may be impressive, missing out on limited quality time was not. I can tell you it’s a humbling experience for a toddler to call you out.

Reality Check Awakens Perspective

While most of us don’t have jobs with life-or-death outcomes, we sometimes approach our work with that intensity. Sure, our decisions may have deadlines, our responses may be urgent to another person, or we just want to get something off of our to-do list. So we make small compromises like choosing to work during meals or checking emails in the movie theater on date night. It feels like a practical, necessary trade-off between work life and home life.

Every day there are winners (what we give priority) and losers (what we de-emphasize) between our professional and personal responsibilities, and we hope we’re making the right decisions as validated by our employers and families. If neither complains, we applaud our ability to manage it all. For most of us, work is how we make a living to support the people and things that we love. However, our work ethic has a way of overshadowing the relative importance of the work. If we’re not careful, work gains the upper hand instead of the other way around.

Keeping Perspective Helps Decision-Making

My friend Frank was traveling for work to give a presentation to a client. A couple of hours before the meeting he received a call from his wife, Joan. She was being taken to the emergency room. “It’s probably nothing,” she tried to convince him. “Enjoy your meeting and good luck.”

Frank called his boss and explained the situation, hoping for reassurance that going home was the right thing to do. He was shocked when he heard, “You know you’ve got to give that presentation, right?”

His boss’ lack of compassion brought Frank’s perspective to full focus. Why was he looking for permission in the first place? He knew he would rather be fired than to work for a manager with those expectations. With that, Frank headed home. This was hard for him and the entire flight he was sweating bullets.

Fortunately, his wife’s situation did turn out to be minor, but it changed Frank’s outlook on work in a major way. It's been four years and Frank still works for this company. Ironically, his former boss was let go because of his poor people management skills.

When we’re faced with hard choices, we wonder, Is this a big enough deal? Can I be honest about missing a meeting because of a difficult-to-schedule dentist appointment? Should I cancel the play date my daughter has been looking forward to when my client calls with an urgent request? What will people think?

There’s No Algorithm

I had a situation similar to Frank’s. While in London for business I received a text from my husband that he was taking our baby to the emergency room. We spent the next 30 minutes in a frantic exchange of messages and calls. I needed to know symptoms and see pictures. “Let me hear his cry,” I asked.

My coworkers panicked, too. “Should we get you to Heathrow airport?”

I don’t know! What do you think?! I was looking for some direction.

After an hour on WebMD, I decided to continue my business trip. My son was in good hands, I would never get home in time to be helpful, and I accepted a new-mom’s truth—it wasn’t necessary for me to be right by his side for him to get the care he needs. It was a different choice than the one my friend Frank made, but it was right for my family and my work.

There isn't an algorithm to help make the best decision. What we have are our values, our gut, and the circumstances surrounding our situations. These provide valuable perspective to make a wise decision in the moment.

Keeping perspective helps to manage your professional and personal reactions, and your interactions too. There are big choices like Frank’s struggle on his flight home and small ones like not emailing during mealtime. For both, you'll need to rely on your instinct and sometimes a sounding board, like the candor of a toddler.

Connect with Natasha Miller Williams 
on Twitter @nlynniewillie and follow her Linkedin