Comparison works the opposite way you want it to.

comparison Comparison works the opposite way you want it to.We compare all the time and in all sorts of ways.  I compare my startup to another startup.  I compare my marriage to another’s marriage.  I compare my car to another’s car.  I compare my _______ to another’s _______.  It’s an endless cycle.

There are two types of comparison – comparing “upward” and comparing “downward.”  Upward comparison is when you beat yourself up by thinking other’s lives/businesses/bodies/kids/cars/houses/etc are better than yours.  Downward comparison (keeping those same things in mind) says “I am better.”

Both types of comparison work the opposite way you want them to.  Comparing upward doesn’t automatically get you what you want. More often than not, it creates an entitlement mindset that leaves you ungrateful for what you currently have.  Comparing downward uses the limitations of others to feel better about yourself.  Which is a shallow way to feel good.

Though comparison is a way to gauge how we measure up to others, it doesn’t always help you accomplish your goals.  Unless you compare yourself to yourself.  If you want to grow your company – compare where you are at the of the first quarter to where land at the end of the second quarter.  If you want to run a faster mile, compare your time at the beginning of the month with your time at the end of the month.  Comparing your company’s growth with another company’s growth, or your body’s performance with another body’s performance, isn’t fair and isn’t accurate.  And that type of comparison will end in one of two ways: with insecurity (upward comparison) or an over-inflated sense of self (downward comparison).

Our 26th President of the United States sums it up well:

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” -Theodore Roosevelt

The Power of Positive Constraints

lee lefever autograph 400x225 The Power of Positive ConstraintsIn his CreativeMornings presentation in Seattle this morning, Lee LeFever, founder of Common Craft and author of The Art of Explanation, broached the subject of constraints.   Constraints generally have a negative connotation.  For champions of free thinking and unbridled creativity, constraints appear to be the things holding you back, the things keeping your imagination in check.  But constraints can also be incredibly liberating.  In the context of Lee LeFever’s presentation, this set of constraints helped to shape the direction of his company and its product.  But what if we apply this same process to our day-to-day lives?

It is okay to make your happiness a priority.  And sometimes, this means saying, “No.”  A set of constraints can be a set of rules to live by.  It can be a set of goals and values.  Defining what will make you happy allows you to say, “No” to the things that will diminish that happiness.  It’s not about holding yourself back, it’s about having a set of guidelines to create accountability, a set of guidelines that will directly contribute to your happiness.  Happiness is made up of a series of choices, of thousands of micro decisions over time.  In creating positive constraints, you can create freedom.  You develop the power to say, “No.”  You optimize for happiness.

Managing to Milestones & #JFDI Recap

The Redmond thinkspace office had its first Acceleration Services event to talk about the importance of project management. The event was held on Friday, May 30th with panelists Liz Pearce, CEO of LiquidPlanner; Trent Scott, CEO of Rainleader and Director of Sales and Marketing at Mouseflow; and Brenda Reed, Project Launch Manager at thinkspace. Josh Anderson, CEO of One into Many, was our moderator.

Notable take-aways and tweets from the people that were there!

  • Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing (@HeinzMarketingtweeted, “The iron triangle of project management: Budget, scope and quality.@lizprc @thinkspace
  • “Figuring out how to prioritize importance: As the CEO, what can be done by you, by someone else, or not at all? Also, make dates to set deadlines.” – Liz Pearce, CEO of LiquidPlanner
  • “A project is always evolving and in the beginning you may not know solid details.”  - Mieka Miller, Acceleration Services Director at thinkspace

Benefits of a Project Manager (PM)

“The benefits of having a project manager (PM) on your team are ten-fold.  A PM can help you identify what constitutes a project, help you define your objectives and overall goals. They will hold team members accountable for their project roles and responsibilities. A PM will also keep the project within budget, on time and ultimately deliver what the customer wants!” - Brenda Reed, Project Launch Manager at thinkspace.

The difference between helping, fixing, and serving.

This summer, I am participating in a continuing education program at a hospital.  The program is called Clinical Pastoral Education (or CPE), and through the program I have the opportunity to serve as one of five chaplain interns.

During our first week, we had numerous orientations, seminars and trainings.  This on-boarding was likened to a fire hose (meaning we were receiving more information than we could take in).  However, one thing I did retain during that first week was discussing the difference between helping, fixing and serving.

As a chaplain, I am learning that my role is one of service.  I am not there to help or to fix anyone.  This goes against my desire to help and fix a situation when something is wrong.  But when I am meeting with patients, the reality is that I cannot help their suffering anymore than I can fix their ailments.  I am learning that just being present with people – a “ministry of presence” – is sometimes the only thing I can do.  And the only thing that is needed.

An article by Rachel Naomi Remen has been incredibly useful in distinguishing my role as a chaplain intern.  She writes:

“Helping is based on inequality; it is not a relationship between two equals.  When you help you use your own strength to help those of lesser strength….When I fix a person I perceive them as broken.  Fixing is a form of judgment…Service, on the other hand, is an experience of mystery, surrender and awe…[Therefore,] when you help you see life as weak, when you fix, you see life as broken.  When you serve, you see life as whole.”

Understanding my posture as a chaplain is also informing the way that I interact with my colleagues, friends and family.  I appreciate it more when others listen and understand me (serve), instead of quickly try to remedy my problem (fix) or think that they know what’s best for me (help).  Adopting this service-mindset initiates more relationship in a non-condescending and genuine way.

This is definitely a new way of thinking for me – so I appreciate any comments/feedback as well as critique/pushback!  See you in the comments :)

What Would I Tell Young Me?

At the EO Accelerator Mixer earlier this week we were fortunate to have Michael Brown, CEO of Affirma, speak to a room full of leading entrepreneurs and share what advice he would tell his younger self. Michael is a seasoned entrepreneur and his company is a PSBJ Fastest Growing Company winner for the last four consecutive years, INC 5000 fastest growing company, and Best Place to Work for three years. Michael has bootstrapped his company to over 110+ employees. Here’s what he would tell himself:

“Young me, bad advice has ramifications only to you, your family and your team.  Find advisors that have successfully been where you are going and get right sized advice.” – Old me

“Young me, Don’t Party with Employees” - Old me

“Young me, a niche service focus can keep you small.” - Old me

“6 months ago me, Business is Personal, Don’t Hire Your Neighbors, BBQs will get weird” - Old me

“Young me, people make perfect sense if you understand the emotions driving their decisions” - Old me

“Young me, bad advice has ramifications only to you, your family and your team. Find advisors that have successfully been where you are going and get right sized advice.” - Old me

“Young me, shamelessly plug your solutions and services” - Old me

What are some of the things that you would tell your younger entrepreneurial self? If you are interested in joining the EO Accelerator check out the following information:

Apply for the EO Accelerator: Email me or fill out this form.

Requirements:

  • Company that can scale and grow to $1M and beyond (see the infographic)
  • $250K in revenue or $250K in funding
  • Founder of CEO

Program starts: July 2014 thru June 2015 Time commitment: Once a month for 3 hours you will participate in Forum with same stage entrepreneurs. One day per quarter you will participate in Quarterly Learning Day which focuses on: Strategy (building your $1M plan); Financing and Funding; People and Culture, Sales and Marketing. Access to EO Mentors (ad hoc, connect with experienced entrepreneurs when you need them!).

The big ‘fat’ launch

The Big fat lunch1 293x300 The big fat launch

Entrepreneurs know what it’s like to be in an environment that changes everyday, and sometimes every minute. To launch a product or service within your budget and on time can feel daunting. Then again, when has a daunting task deterred an entrepreneur?

What to Expect During a Launch:

Change is the only constant when it comes to the launch process. The team needs to be prepared to deal with ambiguity that cannot be predicted by even the best data. As the plan starts taking shape, a clear picture emerges, and that is when a roll out action strategy is created. The key to a successful launch lies in the way the launch manager tracks this roll out plan: meeting deadlines; staying within budget; seeing issues before they become problems; and changing tracks as needed.  In other words, ensuring that the entire process is seamless.
 Now that we know what to expect, what are the three things that must be done in order to have a successful launch?

Don’t assume you know everything about your audience:

In our frenzy to be unique and with the passionate belief that our product and service is going to change the face of the market, we tend to make assumptions about our target audience. This can hamper the success of the product. Know your customers — their likes, dislikes, needs.  Most importantly, know how your product will change their lives. Do not spend too much time analyzing the demographics data; try to understand their mindsets.  What drives them and does your product have the potential to be in the front of their minds?

Create the buzz:

For a typical launch, invites are sent a week before, but entrepreneurs don’t necessarily need to launch their product via this traditional route. Before the launch, start having conversations with your community and your peers. Start utilizing social media to create excitement without putting a huge dent on your resources. By using the power of leverage you can get the word out faster, build your customer base more quickly and generate more revenue. Consider for a moment the employees, friends, family, customers, partners, investors, press and associations that you can reach out to – the people that can influence the success of your product launch. Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth. One person talks to another, who will in turn talk to others and the word will spread. Give your audience something to talk about.

Post launch sustenance is more important than the launch itself: 

Once the product or service is launched, the team needs to work harder and faster to deliver results. Ensure that you answer all of your team’s questions. Organize your team in such a way that every query or problem is answered within one business day. Be open to criticism; not everybody may like what you have launched. Take it in stride and see if you can incorporate the feedback to make your product or service better.

Launching a product or service is not easy, but a calm mind coupled with someone on your team to drive accountability for the project can get you closer to the ‘dream’ launch that we each envision for our products and services!

Ready to launch your next project?

Not sure where to begin? Do you know what tools to use? How fast it needs to get done? Who your audience is? Join us Friday, May 30th at thinkspace in Redmond. We will meet at 12:00 pm to discuss the launch manager services that we offer here at thinkspace. Our panel of experts has insight and knowledge you will need to get your project management on track!

To join the event, click here.

If you want better customer service, give better customer behavior.

harwood perkins e1398922323148 If you want better customer service, give better customer behavior.It’s all-too-easy to complain about poor customer service.

We’ve all done it.

We blame the cable company for hiking up rates and madly call the company (only to be placed on hold for way too long). The result of the call is poor customer service paired with not getting what we want (boo-freaking-hoo).

But what about our customer behavior? Who holds us accountable?

Brené Brown, TEDx speaker and author of Daring Greatly, asks:

“Everyone wants to know why customer service has gone to hell in a handbasket. I want to know why customer behavior has gone to hell in a handbasket.”

I recently had an interaction with a barista that has changed the way I view customer service.
It reminded me that those providing us with customer service deserve to be engaged and interacted with, paid attention to, and humanized.
The interaction went something like this:

I ordered my high-maintenance drink.*
I paid, and then stepped aside to wait for my drink to be made.
This waiting period usually involves whipping out my smartphone to check email or facebook.
But this time, my phone stayed put in my purse.
This time, I watched the barista.
Intently.
She poured the fat free/whole milk combination with precision (making it a perfect blend of 2% milk).
She carefully measured a teensy bit of chocolate.
She steamed the milk.
She drew the shots of espresso when they were done (not letting them sit too long), and then poured the milk into the espresso-light-chocolate mixture, and made a cute design…only to cover it up with whipped cream.
When she handed it to me, I looked her in the eye and said one word: “Beautiful.”
She looked back at me.
Her eyes welled up with tears and said: “You just made my day.”

I remember smiling, walking away, and thinking how my one-word compliment didn’t deserve to make her day.

But regardless, her response has inspired me to start giving better customer behavior.

Because if you want better customer service, work on giving better customer behavior.

*A short 2% latte with less than a tablespoon of chocolate, but still topped with a dollop whipped cream.  Yes, I realize that technically, this is a mocha, but when I emphasize to the barista that it’s more latte than it is mocha, they put the correct amount of chocolate in it.

Come For The Cookies: How Baking Builds Community

TINYtreats 400x265 Come For The Cookies: How Baking Builds CommunityI have a confession to make: I love to bake.  Given the time, any motivation whatsoever (e.g., It’s Thursday!) and enough butter and sugar, I will bake almost compulsively.  I have another confession to make: I don’t particularly care for baked goods.  Of course I will happily have a taste of the browned butter carrot cake I just made.  It wouldn’t be out of character for me to nibble on one of my mom’s molasses cookies.  But a whole piece of cake?  A second cookie?  Call me crazy, but I’ll almost always pass.

So what happens when it just happens to be Thursday night and I find myself in a kitchen suddenly populated with these bad boys?  Friday at the office gets just a little bit sweeter.

Our company uses TINYpulse, a tool through which employees answer a weekly question about the work environment and provide comments anonymously.  Each week, a member of our team will lead a discussion around the latest TINYpulse results.  When I reviewed the TINYpulse results two weeks ago, I also asked my coworkers to vote on one of two TINYtreats that they’d like me to bring into the office, with TINYorange poppy seed cookies edging out TINYbutterscotch cookies.

Baking may seem small, like something fluffy and nice that’s just a means to a delicious end.  And yes, baking can be pink frosting and apron strings, but it can also wrap itself around you, warm ovens and the smell of slightly burnt sugar coaxing almost forgotten memories from the back corner of your mind, until you are all but under your grandma’s feet, begging to lick the mixing bowl.

The orange poppy seed cookies that I brought in for our TINYpulse meeting impacted the office in a profoundly positive way.  I am new to the thinkspace team, and baking for my coworkers is a great way for me to share a part of myself with them, and allow them to get to know me a little better.  Baking can bring people together, can create connections.  And inviting people to be a part of that process by asking them to vote between two baked goods encourages participation.

So in the spirit of building community, I invite you to participate.  On Tuesday, April 22, I will bring a batch of homemade cookies to work.  Which would you like to see?

Voting is open to everyone, but the cookies are only available to those who stop by the front desk.  Yes, I will be sitting here with a giant plate of cookies in front of me.  I love to bake, and I only bake for people I like, because baking is a huge part of me and something that I am extremely passionate about.  On a stressful day, a freshly baked cookie may just be the sweet reprieve you and your coworkers need to make it to 5 o’clock in one piece.

So come to thinkspace on the 22nd!  Come to say hello, to meet our awesome front desk staff, to connect with some of our members.  At the very least, come for the cookies.

thinkspace to add a fourth floor in Redmond!

thinkspace 4th 367x300 thinkspace to add a fourth floor in Redmond!Office space in Redmond – and at thinkspace – is a valued resource.  Startups and employers are drawn to Redmond’s corporate environment, and as businesses continue to grow and expand, thinkspace has made the decision to grow with them.  In order to meet the needs of our community, thinkspace is excited to announce that a fourth floor will soon be added its Redmond location.  Currently, the three floors at the Redmond location are full of thriving and energetic members.  But as more and more startups and companies move into the area seeking office space and an entrepreneurial community, the decision was clear.  An addition of a fourth floor will start this summer, and its completion is estimated (weather permitting) late fall of 2014.

Current thinkspace members located on the third floor will need to work elsewhere during this construction and transition.  They will be encouraged to work at neighboring coffee shops and parks.  Thinkspace will provide them with wifi connections wherever they decide to work from, and personally deliver incoming mail and packages to avoid any major inconveniences.

Thank you for celebrating with us as we expand!

And yes, if you haven’t figured it out yet…this is an April Fool’s joke!!!
Because haven’t you heard?  We have expanded to Seattle!  That is our “fourth floor.” :)

***Can you find the “Nap Room” in this fictional floor plan?

No expectations, no disappointments.

no ex 300x300 No expectations, no disappointments.
I’m a planner.
I’m a goal-setter.
I love the strategy that goes along with discerning a five-year strategic plan.

But in addition to my goal-setting-strategic-planning posture, I’ve found that I also need to embrace the discipline of having no expectations.

The things that frustrate, anger, and irritate me have one thing in common:  I don’t like it when what I expect to happen doesn’t happen.

I have expectations of how other people should drive…how my husband should load the dishwasher…and how my boss should respond to my job performance.  And more often than not, my expectations prove to be a fanatical fantasy.

Unfulfilled expectations create disappointment.  But no expectations equals no disappointments.

Growing up, I learned to “expect the best” and all will work out.  And even as an overly-optimistic person, that mantra has not panned out all the time.

Setting zero expectations means that we are open for more creativity in the moment, as well as the unexpected surprises that never disappoint.

I recently got married.  The other day, someone asked me what goal I was excited to accomplish during my first year of marriage.  I thought for a moment, before happily realizing that my main goal for my first year of marriage is to practice not having any expectations.  But to take it day by day.  And learn, and grow as a couple.

William Shakespeare wrote that “Expectation is the root of all heartache.”  By minimizing unneeded expectations, I hope to minimize heartache at home, as well as in the workplace.