Archive for October, 2009

The treadmill of life


Treadmill of Life

For those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook you know that I use the treadmill and on more than one occasion my 94 lb Doberman has tried to join me. Too bad there isn’t someone filming to catch the two of us flying through the air. Oh and did I mention that I text, tweet and email while walking? I’m very surprised my blackberry still functions AND I don’t have any broken limbs!

Yesterday I listened to a “webshop” by Dina Dwyer Owens, Chairwoman and CEO of The Dwyer Group and Chairwoman of IFA (International Franchise Association). Dina shared a small portion of a workshop she conducts with her team and franchisees. Her approach is to set “target goals” by turning dreams into targets. She provided activities for us to distinguish our values, principles and character traits setting us on a course to write our own rule book for life.

I sat down with my homework and the first thing I realized is that I need to get off the treadmill of life that leads nowhere and set a direction. I preach to my franchisees about priorities, goals and time management when too often at the end of the day I am exhausted and I am too tired to spend time on me or my family.  I tell myself that I don’t have time to go to the movies, read a book, have dinner with friends or even make the bed in the morning! When in reality I haven’t carved out my life goals.

I know what my professional goals are now all I need  is align them with my life goals!

Secret for you: Dina does email when on the treadmill too! But she has a handle on her life and professional goals

0511-0803-2716-1630_Lady_P_I__Looking_for_Clues_clipart_imageI spent a great deal of time last week speaking to COMPUTER EXPLORERS prospects. It’s very time-consuming but a task I like to do. I really enjoy assessing entrepreneur’s personalities to predict their capabilities and their fit into our culture. What I have learned from my discussions with our prospects is most are very optimistic about their decision to leave corporate America and to follow their entrepreneurial dream and franchise search. Purchasing a franchise can be one of the biggest decisions and risk they will make in their life. As they learn more about COMPUTER EXPLORERS they too assess their fit. Some decide it’s not right for them but those that want to explore the next step become excited about the possibilities. Their excitement renews my passion and enthusiasm and I get the opportunity to relive all the emotions I felt when I first became a franchisee!

What personalities have I found in the entrepreneurs I’m working with? What traits do they have that might lead them to financial independence? In Street Smart Franchising written by Joe Mathews, Don DeBolt and Deb Percival describe prospects as typecast actors: The Action Hero, The Comedian, The Faithful Sidekick or The Private Eye.

Here is a brief description of each of the actors according to Street Smart Franchising:

The Action Hero: outgoing, hard-charging, risk-taking, task-oriented, efficient, organized and results oriented.

The Comedian: fun-loving, outgoing, empathetic, risk-taking, people oriented, enthusiastic and charming.

The Faithful Sidekick: warm, dependable, good-natured, structured, methodical and empathetic team player.

Private Eye: precise, exact, focused, detailed, neat, systematic, open-minded and slow-paced.

Will one particular personality trait determine success or failure? COMPUTER EXPLORERS is made up of all personality types.  Franchisees who achieve their goals in our business do so based on their personality and how to manage it.

A few years ago COMPUTER EXPLORERS Franchise Advisory Council was seeking a Public Relations firm. In our search we received proposals from some excellent firms. We were presented with the traditional PR program which included a monthly retainer for services. We had one problem. We believe that  COMPUTER EXPLORERS isn’t a traditional franchise so we were not interested in a traditional PR package. We like to think outside of the box and we wanted to design a unique PR program.  We were looking for something different from the traditional communications firm and we found it in Arment Dietrich! Read their newsletter F.A.D.S. Fight Against Destructive Spin

 As technology providers, we are constantly faced with the challenge of staying educated on the newest technology offerings. In July it was time to evaluate our program and  to incorporate a social media plan.  Our parents and educators are looking for information online, particularly via social networks. To develop the plan I took a trip to Chicago to work with @GiniDietrich and @TaynaFlynn for a full day workshop to design the COMPUTER EXPLORERS social media tool kit. Since I have visited the offices of Arment Dietrich before I knew the hardest part of the visit would be to walk the 66 steps up to the office. An extra bonus during my trip was to attend the Chicago Tweet Up and eat the most delicious cupcakes ever by Mari  @foiledcupcakes. A few of the cupcakes traveled back to Texas with me for the @CETeam.

News doesn’t come to a standstill during a recession and it’s unfortunate that franchises are cutting back their spending on PR. Today more than ever we need to find ways to connect and communicate in less traditional ways with our audience and work with PR firms whose business model incorporates social media. I am so pleased to see our franchisees working from the social media tool kit and you can find them on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Blogs building a strong COMPUTER EXPLORERS social media footprint!

I don’t mind the 66 steps up to the Arment Dietrich office but don’t ask me to visit them in the winter. They know I don’t do snow!

Blog lesson #10: Don’t wait until inspiration hits for a post! Mark your calendar to update.

High road or low road?

High road or low road?

My daily  routine each business day starts with a great cup of coffee and social media. I like to check my email, Facebook messages and Twitter. I’ve added a new routine  by visiting Steve McKee’s website http://www.findyournerve.comEach day a different executive will  post a message about finding their nerve.

This week I had to dig deep and find my nerve. I had a choice to take the low road or take the high road and speak up with honesty. The low road would have been easy but I make my decisions based on my morals and integrity. I choose the high road with no regrets.

I am a realist. I know there will continue to be challenges and decisions to be made and some battles will continue. But I am ready to make a difference and will continue to fight those battles. I am leader of a franchise brand and a team that I believe strongly in. I have a corporate team of individuals that depend on me. We have  franchisees that rely on the corporate team. They have staff and families that depend on them to deliver quality technology education.

As a team we make the decision each day to find the nerve to travel the high road to and in work! No job comes without some grunt work whether it’s physical or mental. As long as the rewards at the end of the day out weigh the physical and mental demand I know I have made a difference. I hope to NEVER lose my nerve.

Blog lesson #9 – still investing tags!

I like to learn the hard way. Well, not that I like it but it’s definitely the way I learn. Public speaking, having my photo taken and having a video  of myself has never ranked as a  favorite. What I have learned over the years is  if I don’t venture into unchartered territory for myself then I will never learn to get over that particular fear. Something else I have learned is not to be so critical of myself.

So I am posting a video here for all to see. It’s actually on YouTube already but with only 20 views not many have seen it. I plan to re-film but I am totally open to suggestions. I will continue to lighten up a little, smile more and be myself but there is something about the little red light on the video camera that sends shivers down my spine and I freeze! Help me with my message. Why would someone click on my video and what are their expectations?

Nothing ventured….nothing learned and I plan to continue to learn with YOUR help!

Blog lesson #8 – learn more about tags. I add them but I don’t think I’m efficient (yet).

At the end of each day I like to ask myself “Did I make a difference today?” I am like most individuals that puts in more than an eight hour work day but wonders what was really accomplished. Most days I am so busy with the details and working through task lists. If Michael Gerber (author E-Myth Revisited) were to visit he would be very disappointed in me. Since I have met him in person I can hear his voice in my head and see his kind but firm expression on his face when he asks “Deb, are you working in your business or on your business?”

Well Mr. Gerber today I made you proud! Early in the day I hosted our franchisor group call. We get together as often as possible to share and learn from one another. I invited a new member to our group, Thomas Scott from ShowHomes and he graciously shared what he learned from his recent trip to Franchise Update in Chicago. Thomas is someone I know I will learn a great deal from and fortunate to have he and other franchisors to work with! Thank you Thomas and I know I speak for the others when I say welcome!

Recently while reviewing the profiles of my followers I discovered that new follower @Wendy_Bowser lives a few miles from my office. I started following Wendy and invited her to lunch. Today she joined @LorriW and @Charmayne01 and me.  What a delightful person! Wendy left knowing more about COMPUTER EXPLORERS and we learned more about Wendy. We plan to meet again to see how she and Aflac can help our franchisees!

The last call of the day was with a group of like minded franchisees and our business coach. Last month it was decided to invite two other franchisees to the call and they were a great addition! Our goal each month is to talk openly and honestly about  individual businesses, corporate responsibilities and to learn and share from one another. Each are willing to express their weaknesses and share their strengths. In all honesty when the calls started many months ago my initial fear was that it would open the flood gates to complaints and demands of me. Not once has that happened. COMPUTER EXPLORERS franchisees continue to display the one for all and all for one attitude that I wish for all franchise systems. If you are a Twitter user I  suggest you follow one of the newest members @JenMorack! She faithfully reviews our new social media kit and tries to implement something new each week. She will be a great asset to our group by sharing her social media experiences with the franchisees that are a little hesitant to embrace social media.

So as I close for the night and ask myself “did I make a difference?” I can reply “Yes and so did Thomas, Wendy and Jen!”

Blog Lesson #7: Add a widget…add a link in the post!

I spent time outside on a lovely Houston day this afternoon soaking up sun rays and considering what I would write about today. Then I remembered it’s Friday and time to update my #Follow Friday list. I apologize to my NJ friends that were experiencing a cool day only to read my tweets about my fun in the sun. You are all more than welcome to visit any time and I promise to share!

When I lived in NJ I spent many a day relaxing  at the Jersey shore or at East Beach in our Lake Pine community. My reading pleasure was  trashy romance novels. Yes, I liked to read Nora Roberts, Nicholas Sparks, Danielle Steel etc. But since I’ve moved to Texas and working hard to improve my leadership and franchising skills I read less of the romance novels and spend more time learning as much as I can from different authors. What I particularly enjoy now is finding an author that I can also follow on Twitter!

Here is my #Follow Friday list of authors that I continue to learn from long after I have finished their book.

@JasonAlba I’m on LinkedIn Now What? LinkedIn was one of my first experiences with social media. For years my husband tried to convince me to use LinkedIn as a professional tool. Once I fully understood the networking possibilities I became hooked and introduced it to our franchisees 2 years ago at our annual conference. This is a very easy reference and user guide for beginners and those already linkedin.

@WhenGrowthStalls written by Steve McKee. My favorite chapter is “Take a Deep Breath”. Steve says, “I tell my people to remind themselves of a simple six-word axiom: Not my fault. Is my problem. The principle behind this statement is that they shouldn’t waste time feeling culpable because something went wrong.” Steve has been great to follow on Twitter and his blog. His new website went live this week and I look forward to daily posts from executives. I am totally excited that my contribution to the site will appear November 19th.

@MarilynLogan I can’t afford to marry you I met Marilyn at an eWomen network meeting and took her book home with me. She tells her personal struggles of reaching financial freedom. Marilyn is known as The Money Lady and has appeared on Dr. Phil, Oprah and Good Day Houston. Since our first meeting she spoke at our annual conference and shared her “Save your $5 campaign”. It’s a simple saving idea but harder than you think. I saved my $5’s but what I am particularly proud of is that I recently shared my $5’s with a very special person who is taking a trip to watch her son graduate from Marine bootcamp. The trip is very important to her and I’m thrilled that the little I saved will  help her financially with the trip.

@ChrisBrogan Trust Agents Absolutely the best social media book I have ever read! Thank you @SarahRobinson for the blog post suggesting that her tribe read it. Chris and co-author Julien Smith convinced me that I could blog! Why, how and what to blog about. In the last chapter they say “With newspapers, phone books, and video stores, along with a bunch of other dinosaur industries, going bankrupt, things are getting a bit worrisome. So why not try something new..” I’m still learning and I hope I can soon stop posting my lessons with each new blog post.

@HollisThomases Twitter Marketing: An Hour A Day I learned today through @ginidietrich blog post that I could pre-order the book. I’ve been following Hollis for a few months now and have enjoyed her tweets as she has conducted research for her writing. I’m too easily distracted to be as focused as she to write a book. I am very anxious to get a copy hot off the press to read. 

I want to continue my reading so if you have a suggestion please send it my way especially if I can follow the autor on Twitter!