Mindful Leadership for Business Owners and Entrepreneurs

mindful leader Rob DubeContributed by Rob Dubé, CEO at imageOne. Rob is a member of EO in Detroit, speaker, author and an avid proponent of mindful leadership

If you’re like most business leaders and entrepreneurs, you know what it’s like to be stressed. Those years of nonstop work provide us with exciting dream careers and anxiety-ridden sleepless nights. Stress is simply part of the deal, right?

To an extent, sure. Nobody said entrepreneurship was easy. But, if the pressures of leadership are unavoidable, do we have to accept stress and the consequences that come with it?

Not by a longshot.

Admittedly, it took me years to find a useful life tool—mindfulness and meditation.

I know. I know. Sitting alone in silence probably sounds like the worst way for a busy business entrepreneur to spend their precious time. However, this small time investment has paid me back in ways I never could’ve imagined.

Becoming a Mindful Leader

I first started my meditation practice back in 2005. By that point, I’d been running my Detroit-based print management business imageOne with my co-founder for over a decade.

The company was thriving. I felt like the complete opposite emotionally. The responsibilities of leadership were overwhelming. I was under constant pressure, even during the moments when I said I’d let myself relax.

It all came to a head when I was on a family vacation with my wife and two young kids. They were all outside together, enjoying the beautiful Northern Michigan day. I was inside the house working away. Even here, I felt no escape from the pressure.

Was this really the life I wanted?

That’s when meditation popped into my head. I’d heard about the practice before, but always pushed the idea of actually trying it to the side. I didn’t have time for doing nothing. But now, nearly on the verge of tears, I thought, “What do I have to lose?”

I looked across the room, saw a comfy chair, and told myself, “Rob. Go sit in that chair and breathe in and out for five minutes.”

So I did, and at the end of those five minutes—I felt better. My frustrations didn’t disappear. My problems still existed. However, for the first time in a really long time, I was calm, clear-headed, and maybe even a little relaxed.

Intrigued by the experience but still a little skeptical, I began to look for evidence supporting how I felt after meditating. I uncovered academic research from top universities like Harvard and accounts from big-name business leaders that further established the advantages of taking on a mindful meditation practice.

That’s when I knew that the emotions I had after sitting in the chair weren’t a fluke. They were real, and I was hooked.

Bringing Mindfulness Into the Workplace

Since that day, meditation has become an integral part of my daily life. I also take bi-annual silent retreats to strengthen my practice. The benefits have been astounding. For one, I’ve become a better leader in countless ways. I’m more productive, make smarter business decisions and connect on a deeper level with my team members.

Meditation has also changed how I view my leadership role. I became motivated to bring positive, supportive energy into the office every day while encouraging my employees to do the same. Now that I knew the impact of a healthy, happy work-life balance, I wanted my team to enjoy the benefits of mindfulness as well.

Since then, imageOne has received multiple workplace culture awards, including recognition as a Forbes Small Giant, which acknowledges 25 U.S. small businesses every year with having an exceptional culture. I couldn’t be prouder of my team.

Start Your Meditation Practice Here

In the below video that I’m honored to share with other entrepreneurs and EO—a community I’ve proudly been a part of for 25 years—I’ll dig deeper into the benefits of mindfulness and meditation for leaders and entrepreneurs. I’ll also give a brief introduction about how to start a meditation practice of your own.

Lastly, I’d love to connect personally with you on LinkedIn and Twitter. Feel free to reach out anytime with questions about meditation, leadership, business, or just to say hello.

You can also find more mindfulness insights, interviews, and articles with other mindful leaders, information about my annual mindful leadership retreat, and more at www.donothingbook.com.

Happy meditating entrepreneurs and fellow EO members!

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7 Reasons You Don’t Want to Start a Business With Friends

friends launch businessContributed by Frank Hamilton.

Starting a business is an exciting adventure. It’s understandable why some people choose to do it with friends. After all, who could be a better partner than your best friend?

You might be surprised by the obstacles you could face as friends in business together, though. Here are just seven reasons to think again before you launch a business with your buddy.

1. Friendship Doesn’t Equal Business Compatibility

One of the biggest—and most disappointing—surprises about starting a business with your friends is realizing your friendship doesn’t automatically mean business compatibility. In fact, it is often quite the opposite. If you can’t find a way to manage the business together, you won’t make it far.

One challenge in running a business is that there are certain tasks that must be performed on a daily basis. Your friends might end up being the ones performing these day-to-day tasks. If they feel like they should be the ones in charge, they might rebel and stop doing what they should be doing.

2. It Will Be Challenging to Define Business Roles

There will be some kind of hierarchy in your newly formed business. But the difference between a friendship and a business is that friendships don’t have pre-determined structures with clearly defined roles. You will need to start brainstorming what each person should do—and that often leads to conflict.

One way friends can try to resolve this issue is simply by avoiding it. If they don’t define roles, then nobody will be angry, right? Beware, though, because a lack of hierarchy in a business can lead to its failure.

3. The Price of Failure Is Much Higher

When working with friends, the price of failure is great. Remember that about half of all businesses fail during the first two years of their existence. Business failure obviously affects you financially and professionally. But if your business doesn’t succeed when  you’re working with friends, you will also be affected on a personal level. Can your friendship survive?

4. Your Business Goals May Differ

Be sure to thoroughly assess your goals and motivations. While you might want to launch a business because you want creative freedom, your friend may want financial success. When motivations vary, goals often turn out to be different too.

Having different goals can lead to ineffective efforts. If you really want to achieve something, you will need to concentrate on one single aim.

5. Emotions Often Override Common Sense

Emotions can be incredibly effective in ruining both your workflow and your relationships. If you let them control and manipulate you rather than controlling them, emotions can ruin your startup.

When your friends make a mistake, you may be more likely to forgive them for it because they are your friends. You might be less objective during essential business decisions and less likely to act according to reason.

6. Such Businesses Often Lack Expertise

Businesses based on friendship often lack expertise. Are your friends really suited to the roles you need in a startup? Of course, to solve this, you can look for professionals to add to your team, but what use are your friends then?

7. Your Finances Will Be Quite Strained

If you’re relying solely on funding from your friends, you may quickly run into trouble. With no actual influx of capital into your business, you’re looking at a dangerous mix of emotions, finances, and ego. If one of your friends invests more, will they expect more control? Do feel comfortable asking for more money? What are the terms of repayment?

Carefully consider all the disadvantages of starting a business with friends before you do it. While there are some stories of success among business partners and friends, there are many tales of friendships falling apart in the process (just look at Mark Zuckerberg and the creation of Facebook). Identify the obstacles and move cautiously forward if you’re will to take the risk.

Frank Hamilton has been working as a translator at The Word Point. He is a professional writer who focuses on blogging, digital marketing and self-education. He also loves traveling and speaks Spanish, French, German and English.

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How to Pick the Best Carry-On Luggage

Carry On Luggage

When you want to travel quickly without all the extra fees and hassle, carry-on luggage is definitely the way to go. However, with all the options available, it can be tricky to find the right carry-on style. According to frequent flyers, there are a few things people specifically need to look for when shopping for carry-on luggage.

Materials

Of course one of the first things to decide is whether one should get a traditional soft-sided bag or a hardshell bag. Picking the best option relies mostly on a person’s unique priorities. Soft-sided bags tend to let people fit in a little more when they really need to stuff their suitcase full. Though they are not as flexible, hard-shell bags are useful because they keep the items in a suitcase from being crushed.

Size

Keep in mind that all airlines are not obligated to let passengers carry on a bag just because they bought it in the carry-on section. The majority of domestic flights in the U.S. allow for luggage smaller than 22″ x 14″ x 9″, but many international flights only allow bags under 21 inches in height. Check with the airline before flying to make sure a bag will fit.

Wheel Style

Like some of the other factors of carry-on luggage, wheel style ultimately depends on personal preference. Those who want to quickly weave through airport crowds should look for suitcases with four multi-directional wheels. People who want every last inch of space that the airline will allow them may want to pick cases with just two wheels since this leaves them more space for holding belongings.

Pocket Options

Too many pockets add unnecessary bulk, but it can be quite difficult to find items in a suitcase that is just one big container. Experts recommend that the best number of pockets is somewhere between one to four. Look for options that have at least one exterior pocket and possibly a few interior pockets for sorting.

from Rachel Ambats’ Travel Blog http://rachelambats.net/how-to-pick-the-best-carry-on-luggage/
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How to Protect Your Business from Future Advancements

Future Advancements

There are many things that can derail a business, from being done in by the competition to simply running out of funds. One thing that doesn’t always come to mind is having a business that simply becomes obsolete. Technology is always evolving, and it may be evolving faster than it ever has before. Things like artificial intelligence and cheaper alternatives to your services can do a number on your own business, but you can also protect yourself from these advancements.

If you want to keep your business from becoming obsolete, you need to focus on customer experience. If your customers have a high opinion of your business and the services it offers, they will remain loyal to you even if there are other alternatives that offer something that you do not. It’s all about establishing a bond with customers, one that isn’t easily broken.

If you’re really worried about technology leaving your business behind, you can also adopt elements of it yourself. Keep in mind that you should only do this if it fits into your business strategy. For example, you shouldn’t adopt a new AI interface just to have one; it needs to serve a purpose beyond being the latest new technology. Even if you do adopt a new technology that serves the purposes of your business, it should come second to the customer experience.

Part of using new technology and advancements to your business’s advantage involves providing solutions problems before they arise. This kind of preemptive service will be much more useful than having to play catch-up when things go wrong, something that your customers will appreciate.

No matter what kind of business you have or how well you integrate new advancements, it’s impossible to protect yourself from every possible issue that could threaten your business’s future. As with all things in life, you need to remain flexible to change and be ready to adapt. Technology may be changing faster than ever before, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot change with it.

from Rachel Ambats on Business http://rachelambats.com/how-to-protect-your-business-from-future-advancements/
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How to Build a Successful Partnership in Work and Life

Contributed by Katty Douraghy, president at Artisan Creative, a member of EO San Franciso and the MyEO Women of EO Champion. 

In January of 2000 my husband, Jamie, asked me to come work with (for) him. His creative recruitment business was growing and he needed stronger personnel management skills, which was an area I had spent the previous 10 years developing in my own career.

It all sounded fabulous—on paper. We would work closely to create the next chapter of our business together. We would lunch together and even walk to the office together. I was excited to start this perfect wedded-working venture together.

Building a Foundation for Success

Over time, reality set in. There were times when I inadvertently called him “honey” in front of our staff, followed by my being miffed when he asked me to re-do a report. I was so annoyed at times that I didn’t want to talk to him all afternoon…nor at dinner, once we got home.

Very quickly, the realization set in that if this new working union was going to be successful we needed to re-think the arrangement and make certain that we had clearly defined roles with guidelines to work within.

Twenty years later, this collaboration has become a partnership in life and work with many lessons learned along the way.

Through EO, my husband and I have developed a friendship with fellow EO couple Brian and Jean Brault. We soon realized that we had many experiences in common. We also share similar learned lessons over the course of our respective marriages and entrepreneurial journeys.

EO members, if you work with your partner or spouse, check out this MyEO groups: Couples Who Work Together. Created by Brian Brault, the group is designed to strengthen both your business and personal relationship.

Lessons Learned as an Entrepreneurial Couple

With Brian and Jean, we have compiled a list of our top lessons from life as an entrepreneurial couple:

  1. Define roles at home and at work.
  2. Set boundaries, including work times and places.
  3. Leave work issues at the office and leave home issues at home.
  4. Refrain from using pet names at the office.
  5. Give one another space to grow individually.
  6. Remember you are a couple first and co-workers second.
  7. Congratulate each other frequently, be each other’s cheerleader.
  8. Don’t let frustrations build. Talk things out.
  9. Check in on regular intervals and confirm you are working for the same goal.
  10. Make it fun. Go away on a “business trip” to dream.
  11. Remember, when work is stressful don’t turn that on your partner.
  12. Acknowledge each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and get help to fill in the gaps.
  13. Maintain outside interests together. Have a life together beyond the business.
  14. Be proud that you are building a business together.

Together, we’ve also developed a few questions to help entrepreneurial couples engage in conversations to gain clarity, communicate more easily and connect with one another at a deeper level and to live a life by design.

  • What are three things we could do to better communicate?
  • What inspires you most about our relationship?
  • What do we stand for as a couple?

There are also a few tools that can benefit couples—5 Love languages, CliftonStrengths, Kolbe and DISC, among others. Using these tools regularly allows you to get to know yourself and your partner better.

Jamie and I adopted CliftonStrengths and refer to it often in our communication, both at home and at work. We have built a common language for support and growth as a couple. Having an external tool to refer to has also helped us reduce misunderstandings and focus on one another’s strengths and recognize when we need to step in and support one another in business and in life.

This Valentine’s day, I hope these simple concepts can lead to better communication at home and at work.

Katty Douraghy is president at Artisan Creative and an active member of EO San Franciso. She is also Champion of MyEO Women of EO, a group of entrepreneurs who are committed to learning together, supporting each other and creating a powerful network of women in business.

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Growing as a Couple and a Startup

Felix Media Solutions EO AustinContributed by Lionel Felix, founder of Felix Media Solutions and a member of EO Austin. 

My wife and I both work full-time in our commercial audio-video (AV) company and it’s been very rewarding for our relationship as well as a strategic benefit. Our company, Felix Media Solutions, landed a spot on the 2019 Inc. 5000 list, but getting there came with many, many landmines that could have blown up the business—as well as our relationship.

I started the company in 2015 as a side-hustle with my old friend Mike Watts. We both had full-time IT jobs which paid well, but I wanted to save for a house and he wanted to bring home more for his family. When we found ourselves working through many of our weekends, our vacation days and (ahem) sick days from our main jobs, we both jumped in completely and cut the tethers. Our IT contacts helped us drive sales of video conferencing systems to our IT friends.

About the same time, I started dating Lindsey Rima (pictured at left). She managed the co-working space I was working in. She found what we did interesting and liked the idea of working with technology and making things work. She has BS in Biomedical Photography from Rochester Institute of Technology and she had worked as a product expert at the technology firm Zeiss. She soon donned a hard hat, filled a Husky bag with cable termination tools and started moonlighting on the field team terminating CAT5/6 cables, balanced audio cables and showing the guys how wire-management was supposed to look.

While the business grew quickly, she learned quickly and went into systems programming where she learned how to design and program complex automation systems from Extron, Biamp and RTI. We worked side-by-side and she moved full-time into system bidding, design, and programming. Within a year she had made herself integral to the field team as well as the sales team where she was bidding $250K whole courthouses, 100,000 square feet offices and getting us projects that were bid exactingly and profitably. I was relieved by not having to do all the bidding and programming. I was able to focus on business growth, business development, hiring and sales.

Growing Pains

By late 2017 it was clear there was a problem with our bookkeeping and accounts receivable (AR) was so backlogged we nearly ran out of cash, just in time for our bookkeeper to quit without notice. We had payroll in a few days, hundreds of thousands of dollars in AR getting moldy and not enough in the bank. I’m lucky to know people who can float me an entire payroll run while I get my house in order. Lindsey—who, at the time, was my girlfriend, programmer and designer—said, “I will take over the finance piece, you go sell and run the shop. I’ll handle this side of things.” And she just ran with it. She said, “I got this.”

With us working on different parts of the business and having ownership of our pieces, we didn’t step on each other’s toes. While I am CEO, I knew that she had total ownership of what she had on her plate so I never needed to “manage” her. That autonomy, respect and trust let us work on the things we knew we needed to get done. Our goals were aligned which meant we knew what needed to get done.

Instead of all of this coming from an employee, it was from the woman who I also went out to dinner with and was involved with. Our conversations often moved from things we cared about in our personal life to business strategy and hiring and finances. While work romances create many conversations about work and a relationship between two working people features work as a common topic, being at the helm together created a very strong bond between us.

Within three months of Lindsey taking on the organization’s finances, our AR went from an average age of 71 days to 21 days, our line of credit was at zero, our credit cards were at zero and we had two months of payroll in the bank. Lindsey had recently attended the EO Accelerator Cash Day where she learned about profit first. She worked with our new outside-finance person, Chelle Martinez of Tax Trailer, and we implemented the profit-first model—taking every dollar that comes in and putting it into discrete accounts, starting with profit, then taxes, operational expenditures, work in progress, and a vault account which became our internal line of credit to smooth out the bumps. (We are a project-based company and money comes in unevenly.)

Solutions Without Conflict

Over time we have been able to keep work discussions at home to a dull roar, but we love what we do. Working together taught us to have hard conversations because we were focused on the outcome and the future. That alone helped us a great deal.

Learning how to have hard conversations without conflict, just problem solving, was the most important thing we were able to solidify between us. We were more focused on positive, aligned outcomes than anything else. We learned to take nothing personally, which helped us move quickly to solve issues. We learned to grow and thrive without friction. Our partnership also manifested in a united voice within the larger team. There was no “go-ask-dad-if-mom-says-no” mentality, which often happens in family businesses.

How to Make it Work

For spouses and partners who wish to work together, I believe it’s critical that they work on different parts of the business and do so with autonomy. Hovering, correcting, holding them to different standards can cause problems—particularly in the optics within the company.

Lindsey and I are lucky to be able to do our best work in different parts of the business. That’s the tricky part. Can you both do your work and not have too many opinions about how the other is executing? Is the work style between the two people compatible? Are your vision, values and goals aligned? If yes, then give it a go. If you’re both wanting to be the chef, on the other hand, well, two-business households are great, too!

As a lifelong techie with 20 years of IT and AV experience, Lionel Felix (pictured at left) is committed to building great solutions that are easy to use. Both he and his wife, Lindsey Rima, are members of EO’s Austin, Texas, chapter

The post Growing as a Couple and a Startup appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs' Organization.

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Advancing Humankind Through Individual Consciousness

human consciousness

Contributed by Gordy Bal, social entrepreneur on a mission to regenerate the planet, shift the current dysfunctional education system and end human suffering. 

At this very moment, we are facing an evolutionary shift that we’ve never experienced before.

As gen Xers and millennials inherit mass wealth from baby boomers, we’re looking at a greater transfer of wealth than we’ve seen before: Over US$30 trillion will change hands in North America over the next 30 to 40 years.

This shift will change the world.

Consider who is inheriting this money. It’s a new generation of humanity that is more focused on building a regenerative economy.

We are coming into an awakening that has the potential to challenge the current capitalist paradigm—a paradigm that is not only causing extreme social damage to mass groups of people, but environmental damage that could lead to our own extinction.

The question we need to ask ourselves now is, will we continue to use our capabilities to destroy the planet or will we use them to raise human consciousness?

Rather than addressing the symptoms of the problems we are facing—war, poverty, climate change, excessive waste, racism, addiction, sexism—we must investigate at the root cause: our collective state of consciousness.

So, what is consciousness?

I define it as total self-awareness. We are emerging into a new type of consciousness, homo universalis. We see ourselves as deeply connected to the universe, in tune with nature, co-existing with exponential technology and leading from a place of love.

This is where we can make a true impact and begin to evolve into the next iteration of our species. This is where we embrace and encourage human psychological wellbeing. It’s where we develop the understanding that success does not create happiness. Happiness actually creates success. Wellbeing and a self-aware mindset generate more and higher-quality thoughts and ideas, creativity, innovation, lives and experiences.

We must use emerging technologies to support us, rather than enslave us. In this way, we can enable mental health, expand emotional wellbeing and enhance human cognition at a scale never before possible.

We also must prepare for automation and artificial intelligence (AI) to eliminate many rote tasks in our current jobs, potentially destabilizing work and society within the next 15 to 20 years. The new jobs will be defined by human interaction, problem-solving, and creativity, where social-emotional skills and self-awareness become vital—not just for work but in order to be resilient during the transition.

We must humanize the goals of technological advances so that humankind can flourish.

How can each one of us become part of the revolution?

We can do this by first discovering our purpose and then living our purpose.

The Japanese have a concept for purpose called ikigai, which translates to “a reason for being.” It indicates the source of value in your life and the things that make your life worthwhile. The sweet spot emerges when you find something that you love, that the world needs, that you’re good at and that you can be paid for doing.

In Indian ancient wisdom traditions, this is referred to as your dharma. Deepak Chopra once said, “When you live in the harmonious flow of dharma, the entire field of pure potentiality opens to you. You’re able to create as much happiness and wealth as you want because you’re aligned with the domain of spirit, the unlimited source of all manifestation.”

There has never been a more crucial time for empowered, creative, inventive people to participate in the advancement of humankind.

You are needed, to be here now, to be ready, awake and willing to build the future required to support and expand the human mind and heart, for this is the greatest and most impactful work of our time.

If you’re interested in diving deeper into reawakening your purpose to make the world a better place, get in touch with me at g@ctr.com.

Gordy Bal is a social entrepreneur and the founder of Conscious Thought Revolution (CTR), a technology platform that measures and expands global levels of human consciousness.

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