3 Excuses Not To Be An Entrepreneur

Blog No Excuses 6.20.18Have you been thinking about starting your own company, but are afraid of making the leap?

Every successful entrepreneur was scared. You have a choice. You can let your fears hold you back, or you can let those fears fuel you to do whatever it takes to succeed.  Complacency is the enemy of achievement. Fortunately, the fear of not achieving your dreams can drive complacency away. You just have to decide you’re more afraid of not trying than of not succeeding.

Being an entrepreneur takes courage, passion and a crazy commitment. You have to pick yourself up when you hit low points. You need to be your own cheerleader and seek out mentors who will also be cheerleaders. You must push through the roadblocks. And, to retain your sanity, you need to celebrate achievements.

Doubting is normal when you become an entrepreneur. But don’t give into the doubts. Here are three excuses some people use to give up before they’ve even given themselves a chance to get started on their entrepreneurial journey.

Excuse #1 — I’d have to quit my job to start my own business

Wrong! Every business will have an initial start-up phase and unless you’re independently wealthy, you’ll need to keep money coming in to support yourself and fund your business.

I know … you probably dream of telling your boss that you quit. But leaving your current job won’t seem so satisfying when you’re scrounging for dollars to keep your dream afloat. And, if you’re thinking about starting a company just so you can tell your boss to “take this job and … well you know what,” you’re not starting with the proper mindset.

Excuse #2 — It’s not the right time

This excuse reeks of procrastination. And procrastinators typically aren’t successful entrepreneurs. There may never be the “perfect” time to strike out on your own and start a business. You can always find some reason not to move forward. But, to be successful, you need to put one foot in front of the other and not look back.

There is never a perfect time to start your own business. Yet, anytime is the perfect time to start your own business.

If you have set a goal; understand what need your business is filling in the marketplace; have analyzed your competition and why they’re succeeding or failing; can confidently articulate your unique selling proposition; and are able to identify your target audience and motivate them, you’re prepared. It’s the right time!

Excuse #3 – I need to find funding first

Entrepreneurs are masters of the art and science of accomplishing more with less … less money, less people, less time, less everything.

You will never, ever have “enough” cash or capital or funding. If you don’t have enough money to launch your business the way you plan, then change your plan.

You can’t always control what you have, but you can control what you choose to do with what you do have.

You Have A Choice

If these excuses are stopping you from being an entrepreneur, you have a choice to make … are you going to allow them to stop you or are you going to toss them aside and push through to achieve success?

3 Ways Humor Will Make You A Great Leader

BC Blog FunnyPositive humor, which is inclusive and tasteful, is considered an essential trait of great leaders. Now, I’m not recommending you purchase “The Best Joke Book” and memorize hundreds of the funniest jokes, (which the author claims to present in the book). Be authentic and share funny stories naturally. What happened on your way to the meeting? What happened the last time you were a speaker at an event? Think about your life and try to view it through a humor lens. Then, share those humorous moments in appropriate venues at a proper time.

As Richard Branson says, “Some 80% of your life is spent working. You want to have fun at home . . . why shouldn’t you have fun at work?”

3 Ways Humor Will Make You A Great Leader

  1. You’ll energize people. Notice people’s eyes glazing over or attempting to stifle a yawn when you’re presenting or conducting a staff meeting? That’s a sure sign they’re bored. The definition of boredom is “the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest.” Even if you consider yourself a great orator or an effective team leader, people listening to you may get bored.

Energize them with humor. Start off with a funny story . . . just remember it should be authentic, not a memorized joke. People will be energized, remember what you’re sharing and expect that you’ll share another funny story the next time. They’ll look forward to your presentations and meetings.

  1. You’ll create a cheerful community. Levity is like a common language. When you share humorous stories, people on your team will also share their funny anecdotes with each other. This creates and reinforces a bond . . . you’re creating and nurturing a cheerful community. And, isn’t it easier to lead happy people than unhappy people?
  1. You’ll put things in perspective. Sometimes people take a situation too seriously and panic over what they think might not be the “perfect” input. When you make someone laugh, it creates a reasonable view of the situation, especially when your anecdote compares the current situation to something that seems extraordinary. Great leaders help people view themselves and their situations through a lens of relativity.

Humor As A Leadership Tool — While some bosses may be concerned about showing their lighter side, a sense of humor is a valuable asset. The old adage is “people do not leave a company but rather leave a boss.” Humor, appropriately used, diffuses stressful situations, gets folks smiling and creates a positive buzz.

Your humor and ability to maintain levity will make people want to work for you. They’ll also be more confident coming to you when they need help and in times of crisis. In addition, you’ll be more likely to establish your company as an attractive employer and boost retention.

Ready To Tap Into Your Liz Lemon? — On “30 Rock” Liz Lemon wasn’t afraid of anything. There was no task too big or overwhelming for Lemon. In fact, she anticipated when things were going to go wrong and was able to keep her cool . . . while making people laugh.

Want people to listen? Avoid these 3 clichés!

Blog Feb STOP 2.2.18Have you ever been in a meeting and thought, “What the heck is that person talking about?” Me too. This usually occurs when I hear one of the following clichés.

  1. Let’s Take It To The Next Level — What exactly is the next level? At a branding workshop I recently conducted, one of the participants was a guy who owns the largest antique dealership in the state. After the conclusion of the workshop, he approached me and said, “I need to take my business to the next level. What do you suggest?”

I was stumped. What the heck is the next level for the largest antique dealership in the state? I asked if he wanted to expand geographically. Nope. I asked if he wanted to expand his business offering to include interior designer services. Nada. I asked if he wanted to expand his social media presence, to which he replied “I don’t think businesses should use social media.” Arrgh!

I asked what he wanted to achieve by taking it to the next level. “To make more money,” was his response.

I indicated that branding, content marketing and social media were my areas of expertise and I wouldn’t be able to assist him in his quest to reach the next level. “Why would you turn away business?” he asked with surprise. Really?

Just stop using this phrase and ask for what you really want.

  1. Let’s Eat The Elephant One Bite At A Time — Eww! I don’t want to eat an elephant one bite at a time or at all. I get that this phrase means to break a large task into smaller ones. But, whenever I hear this phrase, my mind conjures up disturbing images of people in a jungle somewhere sitting around a dead elephant . . . they all have forks. Then, my mind starts to wander. Who killed the elephant? How was it killed? How did these people get forks?

By this time, I’m not listening to the speaker. The meeting ends, everyone gets up to accomplish their “bite” of the task. I go to the ladies room to splash cold water on my face in an attempt to stop thinking about dead elephants.

How about we just stop using this phrase? 

  1. I Need To Marinate This Idea — What? Am I in the right place? I thought this was a meeting, not a cooking class. I look around and notice no one is wearing an apron. Whew . . . I am in a meeting.

People use this phrase to indicate that they’d like to think about an idea privately before discussing it further with others. I get it. But, “marinate?” I marinate steak before I grill it. I marinate chicken before I sauté it. Sometimes I marinate vegetables before I grill kabobs. And, it’s OK if other people are in the kitchen when I’m marinating. This cooking technique does not require solitude.

How about we stop using this phrase? In fact, let’s just stop using cooking phrases in business meetings . . . unless, of course, it’s a meeting about cooking. No more “noodle it around,” “stew about it,” or “boil the ocean.”

Say What You Mean! — Many clichés were once a fresh, creative way of expressing a popular thought or common idea. But because of excessive use, these phrases have lost their originality, impact, and even meaning.

YES! That’s The Best Image For Your Content

Blog Best Image 1.18.18Did you know that 90% of the information our brain processes is visual and it’s processed 60,000 times faster than anything you read?

We’re constantly being bombarded with images. Yet we’re able to process thousands of images because our brains are always trying to figure out what we’re seeing. Recently, neuroscientists at MIT discovered that the human brain can process images the eye sees for as little as 13 milliseconds. That’s even faster than I scroll on Facebook!

But when it comes to remembering, not all images are equal. Some stick in our minds as if they were set with super glue and some just slip out like random thoughts.

Images can Increase Memorability and Sharing — Image memorability is an interesting subject. Well, it is to me since I’m a behaviorist and I find these types of topics fascinating. At this point, you may be thinking that an article about images might bore you to death. But, keep reading … there are some things you should know about images to help you create memorable and sharable social media and content marketing posts.

Emotions Engage — Emotion is the driving force of sharing.

A recent Harvard study evaluated what causes marketing campaigns, and their images, to go viral. Data indicates the most shared emotions are: admiration, interest, amazement and astonishment.

When selecting images, use those that evoke emotions. The more intense the emotion, the more likely we are to remember it.

The best way for your business to engage people and motivate their behavior is by building emotional connections with them.

Make it Relevant! — The images you use must align with your brand. Don’t turn away from your brand guidelines for memorable images that aren’t relevant to your brand or your audience.   Aim to use impactful imagery that stimulates emotions and are contextual to your brand.

Color is Important — The way color is used in an image contributes to the emotions you feel.  A recent study from Georgia Tech examined over 1 million Pinterest images and looked at the color trends between the highest and lowest shared images. The results? Red, purple and pink promote sharing . . . these three colors drive visceral emotions in both men and women.

You’re probably wondering which colors were shared at the lowest spectrum … drum roll, please. The least shared images used green, black, blue and yellow.

Your Content Needs Images! — Using images is a natural way to get people’s attention. It’s the perfect motivating force to encourage sharing. Just make sure the images you select are emotional, contextual to your brand and relevant to your audience.

 

How to Develop Exceptional Content that Engages Women

Blog Feb 2017 Content 1Women make more than 85% of purchase decisions . . . which translates into a staggering $18 trillion in earnings worldwide for businesses. So, your brand needs women. They’re avid users of social media. But are you sharing exceptional content that really engages women? Here are some tips to help you develop content that will motivate her to want a relationship with your brand.

What Grabs her Attention?

  • Happy Lives — A women’s Highest Personal Value is “establishing and nurturing relationships.” She wants to hear about happy lives!
  • Pop Culture — Engage women with a nod to pop culture. References to TV shows, movies and music trigger engagement, especially on social media
  • Discovery — Women enjoy discovering things . . . about themselves, experiences, places and ideas. Tap into this desire for discovery by sharing tips that will lead her to discovery

Brainstorming Ideas to Engage Women — If your brand is searching for ways to generate content ideas that will engage women, research indicates that the ideas will generally fall into three different groups.

  • The 1st round of brainstorming (usually your 1st 10 ideas)– This group will consist of the most obvious ideas. They’ll be “typical” and won’t usually represent anything new or interesting for women
  • The 2nd round of brainstorming (usually the next 10 ideas) — During the second round, your ideas will start to gain some momentum. You’ll begin to think more creatively and start to generate some actual “new ideas”
  • The 3rd round of brainstorming (usually the next 10 ideas)The final round will represent your best chance at coming up with a unique and innovative idea. During the first 2 rounds, you were able to exhaust the obvious ideas, forcing the new and unique to float to the top

OK . . . now your brainstorming is done. What next? Ever notice that some brands’ content activates a woman’s emotions? That’s because they use power words which engage women.

 What are power words? — A power word . . .

  • Strikes a balance between pretentious sounding words and standard language
    • Women migrate away from people and conversations that are insincere. They want authenticity and transparency
  • Communicates with clarity and precision
    • When women understand what you’re sharing, it helps them to develop a relationship with your brand
  • Enhances engagement effectiveness by invoking emotion
    • Women are driven by emotion. She has 36 emotional outlets in her brain with a lot of interconnectivity. A man has only 4 emotional outlets with very little interconnectivity
  • Studies indicate that conversations and stories which elicit “high stimulation emotions” (anxiety, amusement) are more likely to be shared and go viral than those that don’t elicit any emotion or elicit “low stimulation emotions.”   Power words are key to evoking these “high stimulation emotions.” Examples include words like “instantly,” “mistakes” and “hilarious”
  • Triggers curiosity
    • Research indicates that “curiosity” is one of the most powerful triggers to motivate women to share. Power words that trigger curiosity include words such as “reveals,” “proves“ and “ridiculous.”

To Engage Women through your Brand’s Content — Ask yourself these questions . . .

  • When she sees your content, does she see/hear conversations about happy lives, pop culture and discovery?
    • If not, your brand isn’t grabbing her attention . . . she’ll tune you out
  • When developing content, are you taking the time to brainstorm past the 1st two rounds?
    • If not, you may be sharing what other brands are sharing . . . presenting your brand as a “me too”
  • Are you using power words in your brand’s content?
    • If not, you’re missing the opportunity to emotionally attract and engage women

What Is Your Brand’s Emotional Right Space?

Blog positive emotionsBrands must harness the power of emotions to develop relationships with people. This can be achieved by identifying the emotions you want your brand to evoke – the Emotional Right Space – and developing messaging that taps into those emotions.

Emotional Right Space Brand Examples — Let’s take a look at an impactful brand . . . Apple. This brand understands the power of emotions and uses them to develop long-term relationships with people.

Apple has identified its Emotional Right Space . . . the core emotions the brand wants every customer to feel across all touch points. The four emotions that Apple aims to tap into are: (1) Delight; (2) Surprise; (3) Connection; and (4) Love.

Disney identified one emotion in its Emotional Right Space . . . Happiness. Whether visiting their amusement parks; watching their movies and TV shows; shopping at their stores or staying in one of their hotels, Disney wants you to feel happiness!

Nike aims to tap into the emotions of (1) Confidence and (2) Inspiration. You can feel this in all of their communications.

Tip to Identify Your Brand’s Emotional Right Space — Which emotions do you want people to feel when they visit your website, see/hear your advertising, view your videos and interact on social media?

Here’s a tip . . . don’t identify more than four. When people feel more than four emotions, they’re overwhelmed and might tune you out.

Top 20 Positive Feelings and Emotions — To help you identify your brand’s Emotional Right Space, here is a list of the top 20 positive emotions (presented in no particular order). When people feel these emotions from your brand, they’ll share your brand’s messages.

 Happiness, Interest, Delight, Hope, Gratitude, Kindness, Surprise, Connection, Confidence, Admiration, Enthusiasm, Euphoria, Satisfaction, Pride, Contentment, Inspiration, Amusement, Enjoyment, Awe and Love.

4 Questions You Must Ask Yourself — After you’ve identified your brand’s Emotional Right Space, use it as a guide. Ask yourself these 4 questions. If you answer “sometimes” or “no,” to any of these questions, it’s time to readjust your marketing communications.

  • Do our communications across all media tap into those emotions?
  • Are my salespeople and customer service representative addressing these emotions?
  • Are we sharing stories in our content that evoke these emotions?
  • Is our social media presence sharing these emotions?

How To Create Videos That Go Viral

Roller CoasterEmotions Rule — People are ruled by their emotions. That’s why your brand needs to activate emotions through its content. For this article, I’ll share what you need to know about emotions before developing video content.

There’s a connection between the way people feel after watching a video from your brand and how they feel about your brand. Want to engage and motivate people through video content? Tap into their emotions. But, be careful . . . not all emotions will result in positive feelings and the actions your brand is hoping to motivate.

Recent research indicates that videos designed to produce negative emotional responses in viewers – especially anger – leave viewers feeling manipulated. And, when this happens, you lose the opportunity to have a relationship with people.

So, which emotions should you attempt to activate? Read on . . .

Videos That Excite Go Viral — It’s important to create emotional excitement quickly. Hit your audience hard and fast with strong emotions . . . amazement, curiosity, anticipation, surprise, amusement. Keep the branding to a minimum. Heavy use of branding can cause viewers to disregard the content as a sales pitch . . . resulting in loss of interest, and you’ve lost the opportunity to build a relationship.

When you develop video content, create an emotional roller coaster ride for your audience. Begin by creating emotional excitement then present different emotional levels. Using this technique, your viewers won’t become bored with a constant stream of low levels of emotional engagement or overwhelmed with a constant high level of excitement.

Think about your favorite roller coasters. They shoot out of the station, then begin climbing before the breathtaking drop or corkscrew. This continues until the end of the ride, when the coaster slows to take you safely back to the station. How do you usually exit the car? Exhilarated and wanting to tell your friends all about it. That’s the way you want your viewers to feel!

By the way, as long as I’m using a roller coaster analogy . . . let’s talk about video length. From the time the roller coaster leaves the station until it gets back is usually around 3 minutes. The time of the actual ride, from the first hill until ending brakes, is about 1 – 1 ½ minutes.  Use this as a time guide for your video . . . never any longer than 3 minutes – unless you’re posting a TED Talk – and it’s best to keep the video “ride” to 1 – 1 ½ minutes.

Activate Sadness With Caution — We’ve all seen it . . . the sad content from American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. When you see the mistreated dogs, don’t you just want to avert your eyes or close the video? We don’t want to feel this sad.

If you’re telling a story though video, activating sadness is OK, but only as 1 part of a 3-part story line. Part I – Present the situation (this could be sad); Part 2 – Present a solution (this should be uplifting); Part 3 – Motivate action (this should be aspirational).

If all 3 parts of your video are sad, it may not be shared. BuzzSumo’s analysis of the 10,000 most-shared content on the Internet indicates that only 1% emphasized sadness.

Don’t Fake It! — The biggest danger in producing emotional content is creating something that feels manufactured. You know what I’m referring to . . . those videos that are so cheesy they’re cringe-worthy. No one likes them. How can you avoid this? Don’t manufacture emotions . . . no crocodile tears! Share stories that are real and true . . . draw on genuine experiences to share an emotional story to engage and motivate.

Tips For Brands To Engage Baby Boomers

Boomers 3Boomers account for $230 billion in sales of consumer packaged goods and account for 70% of the nation’s disposable income. Your brand needs to engage this generation to be successful, but as Bob Dylan sang . . . “The times, they are a’changin’.”

How can your brand engage Boomers? By understanding the values and behaviors that motivate their decision-making and aligning them with the digital age.  Fran Lytle, a Behaviorist, Brand Strategist and Co-founder of Brand Champs shares tips to help brands engage Baby Boomers in this Architect of Change radio interview.

Your Brand Needs Millennials!

Blog Millennials back of heads iPhonesThere are 83.1 million Millennials in the country and they’re responsible for $1.3 trillion in consumer spending. But, 84% indicate they don’t like or trust traditional advertising. Want to know how to engage them? Listen to this Architect of Change radio show.  Connie Whitman interviewed Fran Lytle, our Co-founder. Fran offers tips for brands to succeed with Millennials.

3 Ways To Engage Millennials With Experiences

Blog Experiences not things 7.2.15Why Your Brand Needs Millennials — Millennials now outnumber Baby Boomers! According to the latest Census estimates reported in June, there are now 83.1 million Millennials in the country, compared to 75.4 million Boomers. Millennials now represent $1.3 trillion in consumer spending and they’ll account for one-third of the U.S. population by 2020.

Based upon Millennials’ influence and spending power, your brand needs to engage them to be successful. But, you’ll have to kick traditional advertising to the curb because 84% indicate they don’t like or trust traditional advertising.  Your brand needs to be where they are, in-person and online, and show you understand their values.

Millennial Values — This generation has a unique set of values . . . Realness & transparency; creativity & self-expression; civic-mindedness, positivity & fun.  To develop relationships with Millennials, your brand needs to incorporate these values into all touchpoints . . . including experiences.

 Millennials Are Seeking Experiences — For Millennials, happiness isn’t as focused on possessions as it was for previous generations. Living a meaningful, happy life is about creating, sharing and capturing memories earned through experiences. Millennials highly value experiences and are increasingly spending more time and more money on them.

Nearly 8 in 10 Millennials indicate that some of their best memories are from an event or live experience they attended or participated in. Sixty-nine percent believe attending live events and experiences make them more connected to other people, the community and the world.

  1. In-store Experiences Engage — Stores are attempting to create in-store experiences that will engage Millennials . . . and, Sephora is one that’s doing it right.

Sephora knows that shopping for makeup can be a hassle. A woman has to browse the store for what she hopes will look good on her. When she thinks she’s found what she’s looking for, she’ll use the tester to try it on. If it doesn’t look as good as imagined, she moves onto other products. But, to try on the new product, she has to take off the makeup that’s already on. After each tester choice, she has to remove the product to try out the next, which is time consuming. And, let’s face it . . . frustrating.

To save time, she can just buy the makeup without trying it on. But if she isn’t satisfied with how the makeup looks, there’s nothing she can do . . . except throw it in the “rejected makeup drawer.” Admit it ladies, we all have one!

Sephora is addressing this unsatisfying shopping experience by using technology to engage Millennials. Last summer, they launched a mirror that simulates makeup on a shopper’s face by tracking her movements and “applying” eye shadow through the mirror’s camera. Customers can try out various colors by tapping the color on the screen to see how it looks on them from all angles by turning their faces.

Although the mirror can be used by all customers, it’s particularly appealing to Millennials because it helps them make purchase decisions using technology.

  1. Sharing Experiences On Social Media — Millennials not only enjoy experiences . . . they enjoying sharing them on social media! Tweeting and posting from events and in-store experiences is a natural behavior for this generation because they want to share with friends and family.

Taco Bell created an experience specifically to tap into this generation’s social media influence. For the launch of its breakfast menu, the brand gave prepaid burner phones to a group of 1,000 Millennials who received secret missions to accomplish via Instagram and Twitter. The chance to be one of the 1,000 and participate in something innovative and fun resulted in over 16,000 tweets about the campaign in just 10 days!

  1. Co-create Experiences with Millennials — They want to co-create experiences, products and services with brands. It’s important to involve them in experience and product development. But, Millennials want to be included in the decision-making process beyond focus groups or social media. The best way to accomplish this is to have conversations with them.

How To Create Experiences That Engage Millennials — Weave compelling experiences into your brand strategy. When creating experiences for Millennials, tap into their values of realness and transparency; creativity and self-expression; civic-mindedness and fun. When you do, this generation will be more likely to want a relationship with your brand.

Get together with your brand team, invite some Millennials and begin ideating how to create engaging experiences. Toss away the old way of thinking that experiences should be category-specific. Think about events that appeal to Millennials. That’s how you’ll engage them!