Tagged: entrepreneur

The Bible as a Management Tool

[WARNING: This post contains the following absurdly-potentially-offensive words: “Bible”, “Christian”, “devil”, and, brace yourselves, “Jesus”.  Breathe.  You’ll make it – and I won’t physically or literarily beat you over the head with any of them.]

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“…and I find answers to all of my problems, both secular and spiritual, with scripture.”

That got my attention.  Sheepishly I admit that the previous parts of the life-altering speech had me floating in and out, largely due to jet lag going from South Florida in America to Stoke-on-Trent in the United Kingdom.

Managing Director of United Christian Broadcasters, and wildly-successful secular businessman David L’Herroux (pronounced “low-roo”, he’s French – can you tell?) sat the CreativeLab Europe down for a chat to get to know us better.

One hour later my feeble jet-lagged mind was blown.

I blame the first quote of this blog.  If you are anything like I was, you think the Bible is a comforting book on your shelf – nice if you were worried about divorce, or lust, or how to live righteously (if anybody got time for dat).

Something I have always known and never applied well is that the devil takes a bit of truth and twists it to make the lie believable.  The greatest lie about the oldest book is that it is no longer relevant.  I once heard it described as tantamount to an appendix in the body – it served a purpose at one point but no longer does, and if it isn’t removed can kill you.

How perfect for Satan!  Of course he wants Christians, and the rest of the world, to look at the Bible but never really consult it – they would grow farther from Christ that way.  I realize the danger of viewing the Bible as antiquated, the danger of an “oh, that’s cute” mentality towards it.

So not only is it relevant in every living situation, but that includes both personal and professional aspects of life.

How can it help a business?

Bible management is a world previously-unknown to me, and still largely is.  I had a follow-up meeting with David this morning, inspiring this blog.

David opened the second meeting calling the Bible God’s “divine manual to life”.  When you put it that way, it seems not just a little dumb not to consult it.  He went on to speak about the incredible Bible characters that came from nothing, all of whom have contributions to make in lessons of leadership.

I asked him to give me an example of a time in which he was met with a business problem and solved it with scripture.  Without blinking he talked about Jeremiah 29, when God makes it clear He wants us to be successful.  So he goes about every day with the confidence and knowledge that it is God’s will that we be successful.

With that in mind, he went on to speak of a lesson in customer service he learned from Jesus.  I cannot think of another more equipped for customer service than Jesus, can you?  “I’m blind!” Jesus: “Not anymore.”  “I can’t walk!” Jesus: “Now you can.”

Not exactly like that, but you get the picture.

Anyways, Jesus said something to the effect of “love your neighbor as thyself”.  David L’Herroux took incredible implications from this because he asked the Holy Spirit to speak to him through the word.  From this sentence, David gathered that in order for a company to have great customer service:

  1. The employees need to love themselves.  They need to have a passion for what they do, understand why they are doing it, and their personal needs have to be met.
  2. The employees need to serve one another.  Until they learn to create an atmosphere of internal service, they will lack in external customer service.

Two pretty heavy implications.  Definitely easier said than done.  David sits down with his employees to make sure they understand why they are doing what they do, and if they like what it is they do.  He makes them have off time, strictly to build their relationship with God.  He also fosters a high level of servant-leadership and servant-minded individuals within his organization.

Together during that meeting we walked through Psalms 13, 15, Genesis 26, Jeremiah 12:7, Mark 3, John 12, Matthew 11:11, and more.

I am in no way an expert at this yet.  Often I’ll read a verse and say “great.  So?”  I mean, Jesus spoke of farmers!  It is easy to shrug it off as unimportant.  Don’t fall into this trap, if you’ve gotten this far into the blog.  The Bible is relevant BECAUSE it is one of the oldest texts.  Isn’t it interesting that it’s stuck around this long?

Food for thought.

How to Become a Networking Ninja

(WARNING: There is nothing really to warn you about this post.  Maybe the length.  Just a warning.)

You are a networker, whether you know it or not.  You are also either an effective networker or an ineffective networker.  If you have never thought of yourself as someone who networks, then chances are you are an ineffective networker, and may want to read on and start your journey to becoming a networking black-belt.

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To establish my street cred, I will share with you two recent instances where networking has changed my life; dramatic, I know (if you don’t care about my street cred and will blindly accept anything on the internet, skip to tips about how you can become a better networker. It’s in bold—can’t miss it).

1. The Entrepreneurial Summit was held recently at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Florida (pinky out, definitely).  This event, sponsored by Hispanic Unity, was an amazing experience of hundreds of entrepreneurially-minded people mingling and networking with established entrepreneurs such as the President and Founder of City Furniture and the Entrepreneur Catalyst Award Winner Dr. Susan Amat (founder of a host of ventures, but most notably @TheLaunchPad and @VentureHive).

I want to start a business incubator, and met the founder of one of the most notable incubator-like business models in South Florida.  Now, as a networker, it is my job to follow-up.

2.  Growing up, I babysat for my neighbors since the ripe old age of eleven.  I generally associated with the mother while babysitting.  The kids’ dad, however, turns out to be a big suit in a company.  I was fortunate enough to secure an international internship for that company because he told me about the opportunity this summer.  You really never know from where opportunity will come.

So I am going to claim nine years of networking experience.  When I was a whopping eleven years old, I was an ineffective networker (mostly because I was more interested in playing my Gameboy than getting a job).  Even though I am equally interested in Gameboys, I have become much more purposeful in networking.

Here are a few tips on how you, too, can become a networking ninja:

  1. Get a LinkedIn account.  Consider this your digital CV, where you can put anything from your presentation videos, scanned thank-you notes from employers, volunteer experience, education information, and more.  Make you profile “All-Star” level and you’ll be on your way!  I have more fun on LinkedIn than Facebook.
  2. If you have a LinkedIn, update it (you know there’s something you can add since you last did).  A good tip is to make sure to shorten your link address to something you can remember or write down easier.  If your LinkedIn profile URL is linkedin.com/nobodyisgoing/to/rememberthisbecause/it/isway/too/long583757020, nobody is going to remember it because it is way too long.  My URL is LinkedIn.com/in/taylynbrown.  The same online alias as my email, blog, twitter, and more (with a name like “Taylor Brown”, I gotta literally make a name for myself somehow—check middle name “Lynne”).  I’ll write about how to make an awesome LinkedIn account in the future, but for now try to walk on your own, baby giraffes.
  3. Get business cards.  I don’t care if you are employed or unemployed, broke or rollin’ in the dough—business cards are simply a must-have.  Include on them: your full name, your number, your preferred email (I have two, but I have my preferred one first, your address or your place of business’ address (I am a student, so I have the address of my University), and your shortened LinkedIn URL (if you don’t know what I am talking about, your skipped #3, shame on you).  You can order 250 for twenty bucks from vistaprint.com.  Keep them simple.
  4. Be prepared just about everywhere you go.  You can surprise yourself by networking with a future colleague in class, the person who has your business solution in line at Einstein’s, your next social marketer in the parking lot, and that creepy stalker guy outside your window.  That last on you should call the police on, but for everyone else you should whip out your handy-dandy business card and ask for their information (stay tuned for step 6).
  5. Go places. It is one thing to carry around twenty business cards and hope to run into people, but you add much more value to them by intentionally going somewhere for the purposes of networking.  Go to your local Chamber of Commerce—they’re networking gold mines.  Keep an eye out for events happening in your industry nearby, like trade shows (also gold).
  6. Always have a pen on you and always ask for their information, even if they don’t have a card.  When you meet your one-true love of a future contact, always ask for a card.  If your future contact hasn’t read this post and either doesn’t have a card or isn’t prepared, write down their information (with that handy-dandy pen) on either a scrap piece of paper (that you will treat like a holy scroll) or the back of another one of your business cards, or in your phone.  As for the pen, I have one that is about the size of my thumb in my wristlet all the time, right next to my Chap Stick, USB drive and business cards (I’m a right MacGyver).  By making sure you get their name and email and/or number, you have the power to initiate follow-through rather than waiting for them to email or call you.
  7. Follow-up.  If it wouldn’t be super-obnoxious to triple underline, italicize, and enlarge that word, I would.  Steps one through five have absolutely no meaning if you do not follow-up.  Maybe you’ve lost the holy scroll or their card, remember their name and Google it to find an email.  Maybe you are prepared and have all of your cards and scraps of paper with you.  Then follow-up.  Don’t be afraid to shoot out an email the next business day thanking the person for chatting with you about X and saying that you will be in touch about X and Y.  The trickiest part about follow-up is to have something for them to do at the end of an email, like a call to action in a marketing ploy.  If you are interested in an internship with their company, ask about setting up an informational interview (please and thank you).  If you want their advice about something in the future, ask a conversation-sparking question first (even if it is simply through email.
  8. Wait.  Good things come to those who wait and all.  Don’t be a thorn in their side.  If they haven’t gotten back to you in over two weeks, send another email or so gently reminding them who you are and where/how you met and what you would love for them to be able to help you with.  Keep in mind it is also a good idea to add value to them before asking for something.  Maybe you saw an article you think they might enjoy that pertains to both of your industries?  Open with it and follow-up x2.

After the first few steps, there are very few quantified, always-will-work method of getting the most out of your networking, but you have to be intentional about networking.  People who sit and hope opportunities will come to them are also the people you’ll beat by moving.

Have your own networking tricks?  Comment ‘em!

Food for thought.

The Gifted Child Complex, Syndrome, Disorder, Whatever

[WARNING: this post can seem a bit whiny.  Stick it out, though, as I am not the spoiled brat I appear to be]

Some of the most popular stories are those of the proverbial David and Goliath–the little guy against the odds despite everyone telling him that it is impossible…and then winning.  Great job, Davids out there.  Truly, you guys are the inspiration.

Here’s an insufferably spoiled thought–what about that kid that everyone says will conquer the world?  What of their story?

Hello my name is Taylor Brown and I have the Gifted Child Syndrome. (Cue “Hi Taylor”)

Are you a “gifted child” too?  I do not mean gifted necessarily in the way that you were skipped up a grade or whatever–I am actually not talking about grades at all.

I am talking about that kid that everyone looks at and says “there goes a wonder kid”.  Both of my older siblings joke–a lot–that they will one day work for me.  Voted “Most Likely to Succeed” in high school (which hopefully people forget about), I have a thousand nicknames, most of which have something to do with being kick ass.  My boyfriend has been known to say that “she makes me feel like I have no direction” (mostly in jest, I believe).

What did I do to achieve this?  A coherent thought here, using a big word there, and poof!  I am obviously going to take over the world.  I do not feel I have done much to earn this adoration.

Earned or not, the symptoms of this syndrome can be devastating. Side effects include but are not limited to: a paralyzing fear of failure, unrealistically high expectations of oneself, ambition that can keep you up nights, and spontaneous combustion.

Okay that last one was just homage to those thousands of commercials with ridiculous warnings.

Jokes aside, I have to tell those afflicted with GCS to ignore the “She’s the Chosen One” and “Every child will know his name” predictions (unless you have a lightning mark on your forehead, then you obviously have some crap to overcome).  These downright ominous promises can be almost as bad as nobody believing in you.

The pressure can be unbearable, and at the end of the day you have to believe that God is  truly the Wonder Kid.

GASP! A business person with religious views. Cray cray, I know.

Even if you aren’t all that religious, you have to find a way to take that pressure off of you.  Unfortunately, in the world of mediocrity that we live in where everyone gets participation trophies, anything above average gets exalted.

The best prescription is a good prayer, and a heavy dosage of the following thoughts (with a meal, if you prefer): “You’re human, close your eyes, and sleep.”

I am off to take my daily dose.

-Food for thought-