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Evolution

How are your evolving?

Evolution not revolution

I am a member of a generation that wanted to rebel against the establishment and then we became the establishment.  The Beatles got it and sang about us being a group that did not want to really rebel, when they sang “Revolution” in the watershed year of 1968.  For those of you too young to remember 1968, it started with the Tet offensive, which was followed by Lyndon Johnson’s decision not to run for president, the assassination of Martin Luther King in April, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in June, the riots in Chicago during the Democratic national convention, in November Richard Nixon was elected President of the US as the “Peace” candidate, and the year ended with three US astronauts orbiting the moon, reading from the Gospel of John on Christmas.

As a generation, we declared that we (males) were like Peter Pan and would never grow up and would never sell out to the establishment.   As the draft ended and we had families, we realized that we had sold out.  Now, as we “retire” from the establishment jobs and roles that we enjoyed, we have an opportunity for reflection.  As they enter this phase of life, I suspect many boomers wake up and realize that whether they planned for it or not, they are for all intents and purposes retired from the establishment.  For me it has been in the fall of my sixty-sixth year.

I was reading a blog last week from Harvard business review.  It was a post from an executive coach talking about his work with executives who are planning for a new retirement.  This is the area of practice that I created my coaching practice around when I was a young whipper snapper of sixty-two.  Then, I looked at it as a business.  Today it is a “retirement” business which is more like a practice.  I have to run it as a business, but it is not conducted by the same rules.  There are different driving forces at play.

Frankly, looking at the lyrics to the aforementioned song – I now find I finally have “the plan” and it is all about evolution.  To evolve you must give some stuff up and you must add other stuff in.  The challenge is to determine what you want to add in and what you want to take out – how are you evolving?

What are you evolving from?

Life Coaching in Pittsburgh helping others find their path to evolutionary masculine behaviorFor me, “The plan” is all about giving back.  Helping people figure out their stuff.  It defies positioning from a marketing perspective.  And it defies being run as a business.  I think some examples of the things that I have decided not to do are in order.

I am not much longer going to continue with casual business networking, despite it providing me most of my clients for the last four years.  I am no longer engaged in it the way that others are.  I have evolved to the point where I can see that I have a core group of referral partners that I know, like, and trust.  They remain a core part of my support mechanism.

I am no longer actively seeking clients who are young people wanting to grow long-term, sustainable businesses.  I love the ones that I am still working with and I might work with a few more, but it is not going to be my core focus.  To be true to myself, I need to focus on the evolving needs of today’s boomers as they hit “retirement”.  The 65 of our youth is now more like 85.  When we were born at the middle of the last century, conventional wisdom was that at about 65 people were close to death.  Today that is much more like 85.

I am not going to see clients in my home office, especially since I am selling it to move to a more maintenance-free home.  I will see them in a shared office facility, in coffee shops, their offices, restaurants, or, during the summer, in parks or along walking trails.  Steve Jobs used to have walking meetings.  I will also use Skype and FaceTime.

I am also changing my focus.  I want to work with men in their fifties and sixties who want to design a life in which they are not controlled by an ever enlarging prostate gland, fearing ED, and living in the past, but are rather active, flexible, centered, content and wise.  And I want to work with women in that age group who want a new relationship with their male friends devoid of the opposites of the first half of life and focused on their commonalities with a less gender-biased reality which defines the second half of life.  A retirement-era life in which our differences are replaced by a new harmony and coherence.  And you know what – both men and women are going to have to change their approach to one another and get over the pain from the first half of life in order to co-create a better way of living in the afternoon of their days.

What are you evolving to?

We have such potential in the afternoon of life.  If we can find purpose and meaning, it is likely many of us can and will live Evolving to our true nature involves embracing the core energies inside each of us.active lives until we are at least 85.  But the things that mattered in earlier days are gone.  Men, particularly, need to find a new way.  A new meaning.  A new authenticity.  We are not as strong, we can no longer make love four times a night, throw a fastball, dunk a basketball, hike into the woods with massive amounts of camera gear on our backs and hundreds of other things.  In saying this in no way am I saying that women do not have a similar challenge, but I see too many men sitting on lawn chairs at North Park in the summer and complaining about having nothing to do as they slip into a meaningless life.  They need to find a new way of “manning up”.

As men, we have things we never imagined we would have earlier times.  We have wisdom, even if looking for “masculine wisdom” produces an error in SEO tools since it is not searched for. We have experience.  We have patience.  We have humility.  We need to create a world in which masculine wisdom is not a contradiction in terms – we need to be evolving to that.

My practice focus is for men and women who are wisdom weavers.  People that want to weave together an integrated wisdom based on masculine and feminine energies.

To do this, my “retirement project” is to launch a new website and web community using  an integrated technology from Rainmaker.  It will include educational materials, podcasts, media, imagery, writings and forums dedicated to helping people weave wisdom together in an integrated, integral fashion.  It will also offer various life coaches an opportunity to participate in at least six areas:

  • Careers
  • Relationships
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Mindfulness
  • Community and support

What about you?

Want to help change the world and chart your evolutionary path?  Please plan on sharing your story with us by participating in a new series beginning in January on reclaiming your authentic self in the second half of life.  We will be discussing this series during a live webinar on December 2 at 7 – 8 PM EST.  To register for this free event please click on join us below.shutterstock_114969346

Image Credits – Shutterstock

Multi Level Marketing

Multi-level Marketing as an onCOREventure

Lately, I have begun to work more closely with Multi-Level marketing (MLM) people through my membership in BNI. I have to admit, I have previously held a negative bias about MLM.  This perspective is rooted in an experience with one MLM in particular which directly affected a friendship. These friends unfortunately “drank the Kool Aide” and started pushing their conversion story to how they, and of course we by extension, could become wealthy beyond belief. At the time, I attributed this change in demeanor to the MLM scheme, but I’ve come to realize that it was my friend’s specific behavior to which I was reacting, not the MLM theory in general. Understanding this difference has removed the bad taste I once held for what can be a very profitable business tool.

For people in the second half of life, who are looking for an interesting way to spend their time and are passionate about something that could be woven into an MLM business, this type of structure is ideal. Many folks are often already set up for success in these types of ventures as they typically already have a network of friends and business associates from which to draw participation. Additionally, this network often shares similar core values and interests that play well with the MLM company marketing strategy for the products in which they are interested., If this sounds like you – then a company built around MLM is well worth considering.

Recently I watched a video in which the distributor of an MLM’s products discussed how people working for corporations are in fact working in a pyramid scheme. If that is true – why do so many people downplay the opportunities for success in the MLM world as nothing more than a pyramid scheme? I think the answer is simple. They have bought into the “American Dream” of working for forty hours a week for forty years in the hopes that this will allow them to retire comfortably at a reasonable age.  The unfortunate truth, which most of us who are well into the second half of life already know, is that the American Dream is really the American Nightmare. Retirement is simply no longer a safe bet for most people in their forties and fifties.

As indicated in my last blog, I have been working my way through a period of reflection and intense business delivery focus over the last six months, and now am operating in a more focused way on my original goals.  I strive to help people create the life that they were born to live, in the second half of life. My philosophy is counter-cultural to the American dream of retirement as being focused on recreation, travel, intrusion into adult children’s lives, and perhaps a part time retirement job befitting of the slow moving, overweight image of the typical American.

My view of retirement rather is one of moving away from the corporate world with its endless struggle to fit in to the mold of the company by keeping your head down and your mouth shut. I believe we need to “fit out” (be individuals-not drones) by keeping our heads up and truly listening to what other people need …and by trying to help them if we can.  I believe that our network of friends and family is the real measure of our net worth. We need the support of others, and the best way of getting to this is by investing in relationships before you need to cash them in.

So, if you are interested in promoting things like weight loss challenges and products that provide alternative paths to healing and beauty, such as natural cosmetics, or if you are drawn to nutrition products or handmade jewelry, etc., there are many MLM companies out there. If you are passionate about one, or more, of them, check them out. There is a list on Wikipedia that can get you started.

As a member in a BNI chapter and a professional coach, I work with many people in MLM. I’ve learned that there are different personas and core values that are very successful with the structure and processes for each company. If you wonder whether you have the core values and skills necessary to be successful in an MLM environment, we offer an assessment which will help you understand how you personally would do best in approaching a network marketing system in order to be successful. Check out your results here.

Leveraging these results, we will then have a short conversation which will give you either the confidence to go forward with a network marketing company, or perhaps the incentive to look at something else. I have found that the core energies you use to figure out if something is a good fit are often times the exact energies that stop you from implementing the processes that the MLM company wants you to pursue in order to be successful. This can be tricky to navigate and we are here to help you with this process.

Multi-Level Marketing is not for everyone, but many people earn thousands of dollars a month in this fashion. Many more, unfortunately, earn nothing. Understanding what you want, and at your core who you are, can make the all the difference.
How about you?  Are you interested in Multi-Level Marketing? Do you feel your interests, core values, and capabilities are in line with MLM principles? We’d love to hear your MLM story or work with you to take the next step in discovering your path to success in the second half of life.

Simplify – Mavericks, iOS7 and the iPhone 5s

I have not been blogging for the last couple of months, and I feel freed from it.   My coaching practice is focused on busy executives that either need to get out of their current gig and start their own venture – or look at their current gig and change their “stinking thinking” about it.  I came to realize that most of these people at not searching the Internet for advice on where to go to find that.  Very freeing – that thought. No need to write to them.  They are not there.

I have also become every busy with my own practice, and find that I find people, the old fashioned way – by meeting them.

But, on the way back from a client site on Saturday morning, I dropped my iPhone 4s which was still running iOS6.  I do not use a case, because I like the ease of using clean glass for my interaction with the phone and the cases have always hindered that. The two year old phone has been dropped so many times, I was actually surpassed when it cracked – but still worked.  It did reboot.  But I figured that eventually I would be affected again by a hanging chad or chard.

So, I had to upgrade.  Off to the ATT store and back with two new iPhones – my spouse came into 2013 with me and we retired the three year old iPhone 4 as well.  Net net, both phones were fully operational from backups in less than two hours.  Only because I had to do them sequentially.  I was, frankly amazed by the improvement. I still miss, Steve Jobs, one more thing showmanship, but I gotta admit, I am becoming a fan of the results of refining the already superior products that are in play.

I figured, since I had upgraded the phones faster then I thought I would, why not get the new MacBook Pro and try out Mavericks.  Yes I could have upgraded one of our existing machines, but I wanted to try something – a pure Mac environment – no Windows – no Microsoft Office and its constant stream of problems and slow update processes and slow performance – no Chrome and its memory hogging – no Parallels.  Just iWork, the OS and native Mac apps.

Mavericks blows me away.  The changes are small – tabbed finder windows – a form factor and resolution that forced me into full screen mode, which easily allows me to move from clean app to clean app. 16 GB of memory and a solid state drive and blazing speed. I have not used iWork extensively yet, but I use a word processor to type text into a document.  I use a spreadsheet to create simple models and I use presentation software to create simple presentations that I project from my iPad.  And for those people stuck in Windows trying to figure out how to use Windows 8 – they can open anything I share with them.

So I am going to blog going forward on one thing – a love from my past of technology and my reclamation of my photography avocation in a simplified way.  I am culling down all of my unused camera gear, and I am getting rid of extra apps on my devices that I do not need and excess computing power that sits idle. And I am going to do so whenever I feel moved to do so – blog that it is.

For the few readers that were riveted by my postings over the summer on wellness, I looked at what I was writing and realized that I was working on my own issues and not aware of it – which is why I stopped writing when I realized what I was doing and fixed the underlying inflammation issue.  I sought out three caregivers and they all told me the same thing – I was angry.  This has lead me to get rid of the things that make me angry – both in my attitude and in my life.  Ultimately that is leading to getting rid of excess stuff and relationships and ventures that do not work for me – sort of following my own branding.

There is a line from French Kiss spoken by Meg Ryans character Kate – “Happy – smile. Sad – frown. Use the corresponding face for the corresponding emotion.” Words to live by. The new MacBook Pro, Mavericks, iOS7 and the iPhone 5s, a simplified environment – Happy Face. It is not a vineyard in the south of France, but it is not South Bronx in the seventies.

I am also not paying someone to edit my posts.  So if you find a typo – enjoy the experience. What is the point of this post?  That we need to be authentic, We need to simplify and we need to say yes when we mean yes and no when we mean no.  I think that Meg was actually paraphrasing that line, which I believe is attributed to Jesus.  In fact the next part of it – anything else comes from the evil one – in my theology that means the crazy voice inside of my head my ego.

Launching Your Second Career as the New Retirement

“You can do it alone. But it’s going to be so much harder.”

It sounds somewhat harsh, but author Jennifer Egan hits the nail on the head. Launching your second career venture is not a solo practice, even if you are a solopreuneur. It takes a village to launch your efforts. There is a side benefit to this village: people live longer when they have the support of others, and often the work relationships from corporate go away after you leave the corporate matrix. Creating a work-life balance after leaving your day job requires some creativity as you build your “new retirement” life.

In all probability, launching your venture will require skills that you do not have. When we work for large organizations, there are other people that can be influenced to do what is needed. When you go out on your own, you either have to buy that expertise, develop it yourself, or barter for it.

How do you decide what to do and what to buy? How much of your time are you willing to invest in learning new skills? How much enjoyment do you get from doing so?

When I started this practice, I had the luxury of not needing to live on the proceeds from the business. I am now cash flow-positive from the practice and am in the position to see a clear path towards where I want to go. As I have been mentioning in the last few blogs, it comes down to a question of balance.

I am the type of person that works well in the undefined state of startups. One of my quirks, though, is that I need to understand the framework for the environment, the questions, as well as the tools. Some of those tools are software, some are techniques, some are assessment in the practice area of our business.

In my youth, I rebelled against traditional education. I am, to a large degree, self-taught. Lately, I have been amazed that I have chosen the formal education path over self-teaching more and more frequently. I have taken two formal coach training programs – one in ICF Core Competency Coaching from iPEC, and one in nutrition theory and wellness coaching from IIN. When it came time to learning Quickbooks, I opted for a community college class. To learn how the subconscious can be reprogrammed I took two PSYCH-K training courses.

I have done this because I realized in my first PSYCH-K course that I am an experiential learner. Looking back at high school and college, I aced any class that I showed up at. Simply being exposed to the information allowed me to learn it and master it. So self-teaching for me was dependent on being in an environment where I could learn empirically.

In corporate America, I had ample opportunity to learn from those around me in this way. Self-teaching worked because I had a feedback mechanism where I could collaborate with and observe other people around me. When I left that environment, I no longer had that support or that energy.

There are a variety of ways to get support from others. Peer networking groups, like ICF-PIttsburgh for coaches, are a logical place to go for that. Community College courses, university certificate or advanced degree programs, seminars, distance learning courses are all ways for connecting in person or virtually. Meetup groups are another place to find support. In Pittsburgh, there is one for co-locators where people support one another in looking for a supportive fashion.

It is easier to make decisions on what to make, versus what to buy when you have others to bounce ideas off of. It is also easier to find them when you get out of your home office and talk to others. One of the best decisions that I made was to join a BNI chapter, because it forced me to show up once a week bright and early at seven in the morning,  and it forced me to look for people to refer to others, otherwise known as referral marketing. That got me to network in other places. I, like most people, will work harder for others than I will for myself.

That being said, in launching your effort, I have found that having some type of support system is best. I have also found that others often want to help you succeed, and that people will often help you. You simply have to show up and ask.

New Rules are Needed for Work-Life Balance

We are scales.

Not the digitalized platform in which many of us fear. I mean the traditional, two-sided scale. It’s common sense; when one side is more heavily weighted, the device is thrown off balance. We work the same way.

Work-Life Balance is the key driver. From what I have learned from the last few months, new rules define second stage solutions for retirement years.

In my last entry, I focused on the need for balance and meditation – to be centered. While I work with people at the early stages of the second half of life, I have the advantage of being far enough down the road to know where the physical changes hit that show up screaming at you, “BE SMART!”

When I was in my late forties, things changed. My eyesight got to the point where I could not fake it, and I had to wear glasses. I felt old for the first time. Joint pain started at different times, and I just felt worse than I used to. I gave in and got the glasses, and I started working out with less gusto and more care.

Then in my early sixties things dramatically changed again. I fell on uneven ground carrying a camera and tripod in icy conditions. I fell again on black ice with a camera and landed flat on my back. My days often involved an extra unwanted dosage of pain. My skin did not have the depth and translucency of the past. Because of that, I got more radical with my diet, as I have talked about, and my health took a turn for the better.

Then, my wife’s illness, other family issues, increased efforts at launching my own venture, and falling back into the ways of the first half of life for business rules all hit at the same time.

These restrictions could not dominate my life if I wanted to live a long, healthy, happy life. It was time to turn a new leaf and allow myself to take on some new rules.

So, what exactly are these new rules?

  • The need for balance
  • More time for recovery
  • Sleep
  • Be true to your own agenda

Balance is always important, and our health depends on it. But as we get older, I have found that our bodies punish us faster if we break this rule. I was told in my youth that you had to be enjoying yourself fifty-percent of the time while you worked or you were in the wrong job. I am following the rule to find enjoyment in the entirety of my ventures, or find another way of doing them or different ones to do.

I got into this lifestyle so that we could eat well and have a comfortable home environment, and that I could be creative. For the last month, l was working fourteen-hour days and not taking the time for meal prep or other nurturing activities. This double whammy of not balancing my activities between masculine activities and feminine activities and eating food of questionable quality was a disaster for me.

Older bodies take more time to recover. Allow for it. Take an afternoon nap if you need it. While I do not do this, I find that I feel much better if I give myself an afternoon mediation session before starting dinner prep. And doing the prep rather than eating out or ordering in puts better food in our bodies.

Sleep sounds simple. It is more than the time for it, it is the prep for it. Being active late at night makes it difficult for me to sleep. This means that evening classes and teleseminars that I schedule have to allow for time into the next morning to recover. My spouse is younger than I am and gets up early. That means I might have to stay in bed when she gets up, on occasion, in order to get the rest that I need. We all have different needs. We are responsible for determining what they are and holding to them.

This leads to the last item. Be true to your own agenda. The first half of life is combined into two parts: preparing for adulthood and getting our offspring to adulthood. Second Stage Solutions are about OUR needs. This is not narcissistic or selfish thinking. If at this point in our lives we do not meet our needs, we are going to become diseased and put more burden on others. Our hospitals and care facilities are filled with people with all of the diseases of our times. Why not do what makes us happy, and eat good food so we do not get sick? To me, this does not sound like such a bad plan.

I am not telling you to be selfish; I am saying to give back in a way that is onCORE with who you are. So for me, being a caregiver to my spouse while she is still in the workforce is part of who I am. Practicing photography, editing, and using my own work is part of who I am. Understanding new technology trends and applying them is part of who I am. Coaching others is part of who I am. Writing is part of who I am. Teaching is part of who I am. Learning is part of who I am.

So my second stage solutions for me is to balance these in such a way that I feel natural and comfortable. Tomorrow is September 1, in my mind the start if a new school year. Time for new rules. Time to balance the scale.

Inflammation – It’s the Environment, Stupid!

What do cancer, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s all have in common? Besides being words that we hope never come out of our doctors’ mouths, there’s something else; inflammation. Our bodies environment is hot, fat and crowded. Makes you cringe a little, doesn’t it? The standard American diet has been cited by the six doctors that we quoted three weeks ago. They all point to inflammation as a common cause of these diseases of the second half of life. When I think about the effects of inflammation, I am drawn to Death Valley.

I began looking at my own body’s environment when I read the book “Wheat Belly“.  Within this journey, I found that as I cut out my consumption of wheat, and then cheese, things dramatically got better. My thinking got clearer, my joint pain lessoned – in places like knees, and fingers, and the like.  Believe it or not, you can survive without those greasy grilled cheese sandwiches. In fact, you’ll thrive. As I completed my coursework for IIN, studied scores of diets, internalized all of the work on how our diet can improve our health and either prevent or reverse the diseases listed above, I started to become very smug.  I started to believe that I was eating really well.  Then, I contracted one of those pestering ear infections, and for the last three months have struggled to get back on track, from a health perspective at least.

In the afternoon (or late evening, as I sometimes think of it) of our lives, our toleration for mistakes is lessened over that of our earlier years.  I read the “Honeymoon Effect” and listened to the person that started this journey for me – Bruce Lipton – talk about the effects of stress and cortisol on the environment in our bodies.  I commented on this two weeks ago, and I thought, Fine, I just need to relax a bit, and simple awareness will make all of this angst go away.  To a point it did.  But not completely, and certainly not authentically.

I started to meditate more and slow down, but I was on deadline for a number of things.  I did not really focus on it.  I did not mediate as if my life depended on it.  For those of you that prefer the term “prayer” to “meditation” – feel free to substitute.  I remember when I used the “prayer” term – I would turn things over to God, but then take them back.

Here is the dirty little secret that I rediscovered over the last few months.  Encore Entrepreneur – or Entrepreneur – same thing.  One thing is in common to both.  In 1994, I had the pleasure of listenting to Michael Gerber (the author of the E-Myth) speak about the midset of the typical small business owner.  One day, you wake up and you realize you are working for a tyrant.

It does not matter if you are working fourteen hour days for “the man,” for your own thing, or for your cause.  If you are working fourteen hours and you are not having fun with at least half of it, you are probably building up cortisol, which is making your body hot, and not in the glamorous way. It is inflaming it, and it does not matter what food you are eating – you are going to feel bad, maybe even awful.  If you are working fourteen hours a day but living onCORE and in harmony with yourself, then spending the day in Death Valley might not be all bad.

Plein Aire

I can choose – I could be in the “death valley” of business – wandering around, bitching. My mindset: “Damn, I am in death valley, and life sucks.”

Or, I can grab a camera, since I cannot paint, and get up in the early morning light to enjoy the day, even if that camera is metaphorical.  If you have followed this blog, then you know that I identified this a few weeks ago, and here I am still writing about it. Well I did title that entry – Remedial.  And I guess that I am still remedial.  At the time that I wrote it I thought that I had the answer.  Maybe I did, but I left out a real daily centering every day.

One of my favorite spiritual teachers, Wayne Dwyer, has told the story that he would get frenetic – as I have gotten recently with the challenges of launching a business – being “in the world”, so to speak.  He would question another of my favorite teachers Deepak Chopra, and Deepak’s answer was simply one word – MEDITATE. Wayne would say some thing along the lines of, “But Deepak, don’t you think…” And he would simply say, “MEDITATE!”  For me, the food is one thing, and it is very important, but the real answer is to center myself daily, – so I can be IN the world and not OF it, in the famous words of St. Paul.

 

Time Management – Calendars for your ventures

Whether it’s for a business or our personal lives, we can hardly get through a day without checking our calendars. Time is money and time management is critical. We buy calendars with beautiful pictures representing each month, or we keep ourselves virtual with the use of calendar applications on our phones and computers. Calendars are so vital that Mac products are automatically equipped with this calendar app. The fact is, absolutely no one can run a business without a good calendar management system. As of late, we have been frustrated with synchronization between iOS and our Mac and Windows computers. Last week, we talked briefly about the use of back office, cloud-based tools, and how to set-up email and a quick website in the weeks before that.  We will return to the back office tools after we evaluate PayPals solutions entirely.  This week we are talking about calendars, and because there is a wealth of information on the Internet, we are not reinventing the wheel. Rather, we are pointing to a site that we found through a great resource for people launching an onCOREventure – Open Forum from American Express.

In fact, this resource is so cool that over the last twenty-four hours using very little effort, we moved our primary calendar to Google Calendar, and found an online sign-up mechanism for both clients and potential clients to sign up for sessions through our website that we have begun testing. We expect this tool to eliminate the use of coaches console for our practice and allow clients to manage their own calendars with our practice.  Note: In fact by the end of the next day we had the feature live on our website, fully integrated into our production calendar system.

Since we use iOS devices and not Android, we like the idea of apps that live on the device.  That being said, even tough the Apple-supplied apps for Calendar and Contacts are subpar, we were pleased to see that there are a variety of calendar apps available for iOS, and I had one up and running in five minutes. We use CalenMob and opted for the paid version for increased functionality. Since I already migrated my iCal information to Google, I did not grant the app access. Frankly, with this app and with Google calendar, there is fortunately no reason for me to use Apple’s calendar.

On a roll, we experimented with another app – Contacts Sync.  One of Apple’s dirty little secrets is that contacts disappear, are doubled, tripled and in once case multiplied by ten.  Phone numbers go away.  It was so easy to get my calendar into Google, I figured why not get my contacts into Google, and this little tool had them synchronized in five minutes.  Now the cool thing is that Google seems to be pretty good at not actually losing information on my contacts – and with this tool, I can always overwrite the Apple contacts with Google’s. I was also easily able to delete the duplicates in my Apple contacts using the tool, something that I can never seem to remember how to do on my Mac.

The more we use Google’s cloud services, the more we like them.  and with apps on iOS and things like open-source tools on cross platform PC’s Linux and Mac environments, life seems to be getting easier and more affordable for new ventures to get their technology in place.

 

Show me the money

I have found myself using another line from Jerry McGuire lately: “Help me help you; so why not show me the money this Tuesday morning?”

Tuesday is our day to look at infrastructure to support the launch efforts of your venture. We started speaking to the web environments for mail and a public face, and now we want to get focused on something that most people do not want to talk about – accounting.

The sooner that you put in the tracking system for expenses and income, the sooner you will look at your venture as a business and not a hobby. We have used Quicken for the last eighteen years to track our personal expenses, but for some reason resisted setting up Quickbooks for the business, putting it off for tomorrow.

Eventually, though, it became time to pay the piper, and the inevitable happened. We started becoming successful enough that manual and Excel tracking of the business became too cumbersome. Over the last three days, I have spent twelve hours a day entering history and balancing accounts for our small business in Quickbooks after taking a class in it last month. Not fun, but very doable.

Many second career ventures are self funded to start, and start as part-time gigs, so it is easy to bypass setting up the formal business plan and accounting systems. We follow the lean start up mentality of establishing the minimum viable product and testing and refining direction, which means that these are guidelines and not formal documents that have been used to get financing from the SBA or a bank.

But eventually, it is time to act. I do not regret following the approach that we have followed so far. However, we are far enough into our launch to be certain that this is a long term business, and to determine exactly what systems and processes we need to manage that business. The tweak that I would follow is to look at the online systems that are available to help you establish affordable systems for accounting and contact management even in the guideline phase of development.

Last week, in an American Express newsletter, we found the mention of a Paypal offering that allows new businesses to use cloud services for the items that every small business needs: invoice management and collection and forecasting, accounting, contact management and newsletter creation and distribution.

The services are free for thirty days and cost ninety dollars a month after that. It is possible to buy packages and run them on your PC that do the same thing, at a higher cost. Also, there are other cloud-based services that do these things together. However, if you are using or considering using Paypal for payment processing, these might make sense.

So while I do not regret the approach that we used, if these tools were available when we started this venture early last year, I would have considered it. In fact, even though we are down the path we have chosen, I am going to review this toolkit even if it just for my clients information going forward.

We will report on it after our review, but for now, you might want to check it out yourself.

 

The Neutral Zone

One book I have read and re-read over and over again is William Bridges’ book, “The Way of Transition”.   This is a publication that he wrote in 2001 after the death of his wife caused him to revisit the whole process of transition.  Clearly, his close ties to his wife significantly influenced this follow-on book to his groundbreaking work, “Transition.”  The original work was published in the seventies as his wife was going through the ultimate transition.   I endured the same fears as my wife battled cancer last year and into this year.  When I started this blog entry last fall, I could not finish it because I did not know how things would work out for the two of us.  Fortunately she is doing well, but our lives will never be the same again.

Writing about the whole process, Bridges defines four traits of the Neutral Zone – that period after we decide or are forced to let go of something and the time that we create that new way of being.  According to Bridges, a life long – or Life 3.0 long – expert on transitions, the Neutral Zone has four characteristics:

  • Reorientation
  • Personal Growth
  • Authentication
  • Creativity

In speaking about reorientation, Bridges likened it to his dog following him on a walk at the beach.  I love walking along the beach, or the thought of doing so now that I have moved inland. Often, I see dogs lagging behind their owners and then scurrying to catch up.  In my own transition from executive to coach, I was often scurrying to catch up with life as I was thrown one curve ball after another.  The reason pointed out in the book is “we have the chance…to take a step forward in our own development by letting go of a less-than-adequate reality and an out-of-date self-image”

Bridges discusses personal growth quite adequately.  Life changes every day, but we hold on to reality as we have been conditioned to understand it.  As I read his description of the sudden changes that can occur and the optional personal growth, I could not help but think of the concepts that were discussed by Malcolm Gladwell in “The Tipping Point”.  I believe, as Gladwell states, that just as ideas all of a sudden catch like viruses, our reality all of a sudden changes.  It is as though we have caught a virus of our own and our life is suddenly different.  We can choose to be changed by this, to grow and thrive by incorporating changes into our way of being, in which case the change is life sustaining.  Or we can fight it, which can “dis-ease” us and ultimately lead to death.  It might explain why so many men have heart attacks in the period of time that they should be shifting from Life 2.0, the householder, to Life 3.0, the elder.  It is in fighting this shift and becoming uneasy that we become diseased.

When professionals, men especially, lose their agency power of being the wide receiver for the Steelers, or the Vice President of Marketing for Google, or a Master Plumber, we often feel lost and we enter the neutral zone.  For Grandma Moses, who invented an art genre in her seventies, she had to give up knitting because she lost her ability to move the needles deftly enough to create, and so she decided to paint instead.

When I tried to commercialize my photography after losing my agency power of being a Senior Vice President of Technology, I was not willing to start over at the bottom of the profession as a “starving” artist.  I was unwilling, in my fifties, to be seen as an emerging artist.  It was too much for me – or my ego – to deal with.  I found that I had to do something more on core with my own experience.  In this way, I was not really starting over as much as using finely honed skills from my career in a new way for a new purpose.

Coaching is something that was a big part of my success in my long management career.  It was not the only part; in fact, I wish I used it more back in the day.  But it was the most gratifying part.  Now that I am two years into the launch process for my practice, I can see it is totally in line with my skills and desires, yet completely different from the way I had to show up in the past.  Yet as I work through the nuts and bolts of the practice,  I have found myself also incorporating my photography love by repurposing existing photography or shooting new imagery to use in the marketing and education activities of my practice.

You may be in the second half of life, and you’re wondering what you want to do to bring the smile back to your face.  Is there something that you used to do really well, but can no longer do because of rules and regulations, or the extreme demands of 24x7x365 work efforts?  How can you use that one skill or pastime to launch your onCOREventure?  Maybe it is software coding for the technology executive.  Maybe it is graphics design for the ad executive.  Maybe it is teaching for the accounting firm partner or sales executive.  If my own experience is any guide, it is not the salary or the agency power that you need; it is the feeling that you are utilizing your unique abilities for perhaps a new purpose and for your own or your clients’ joy. Because let’s face it; back in the late sixties or the seventies, we all said that we would not work for “the man”.   And even if others perceive us as being “the man” or “the woman”, we know that it is just a matter of time before we have to answer, “What’s next?”

Web Environment – your website

Last week, we talked about setting up email. Conventional wisdom in the Internet age is that you need a website to drive your business. What we have found is actually the contrary; a website can actually put a halt on your business’s growth. We’ve all Googled ourselves out of curiosity, but what about after you meet someone at a networking event, or exchange emails? You can guarantee your new acquaintance has Googled you as well. If you have no website, they will only find your LinkedIn profile and other references that you probably do not have any control over.

We work mostly with solopreuneurs in our practice, and most people that start businesses are in that category at least in the beginning. The first thing that solopreuneurs need to remember is that you are now “the brand” or “product”. Not what you sell, but you. When Tiger Woods turned pro, his father Earle told him that he was a product now, something that Tiger and folks like A-Rod have learned the hard way.  Keep that in mind when you are considering ranting on Facebook.

So before you even start to craft your website, it is useful to complete a personal branding exercise. We start our clients with this, and then follow that up with a core values index. Our image and our core values are both vital in setting our personal brand.

For example, green is a color that we have used initially for onCOREventures. Green is the color of the heart chakra, the fourth and most core of the chakras. It is the color of sustainability and the color of “start” or “go.” Thus, green is core to our business, because these items are core to us. We have used and will continue to use my photography as the promotion of our site, because vision is important to our clients, and my vision is often expressed in my imagery. I augment this however with viable stock photography that conveys the messages.

When I started my coaching practice, I did not have the name chosen so I simply set up frederickgeiger.com and put up a four-page site. Home, what I do, who I am, and a blog.  That way, anyone that looked for information about me would find that site.  I went into a 1:1 networking meeting only to find someone looking at my photography site at fredgeiger.com.

For my coaching practice, I had a colleague build a quick site in Dreamweaver, which was overkill, but I already had a hosting contract in place, and I knew how to setup a website myself. Since I already had set up a WordPress site for our church, adding the blog was trivial – for me.

If you have nothing of the sort in place, and if you already completed what we talked about last week, and used Google to set up your email, then it is a simple process to launch your website on Google as well..

From the sites section of Google, first choose “Create a Site.” You can then see that there are a variety of templates that can be used, and you can work on your site before it is published and made public. Once you are satisfied with it, you can then point your domain name to it. If that is your personal name, you can always redirect people to your new site, or not. Currently, I still have my old personal photography site active at fredgeiger.com, and I have redirected frederickgeiger.com to my current site.

There are many other ways of setting up a site, some very affordable and some very costly. But if you are hanging out your shingle and do not have a live website, do not be surprised if you are not always taken seriously.

You can also create other sites to experiment with different ideas – or use as a private intranet for your associates or contractors as you grow your company. Tools such as Google Drive make it easy to store files and access them online from any web browser.

The most difficult part of any process is setting yourself in motion. Do not let the fear of taking that first plunge stop you from having your own site. Setting up your own site that emits your core message to potential clients is a quick, very uncomplicated task. This also means that you don’t have to empty your wallet on creating a website for a business that does not have a definite direction yet. The one thing that I have learned in my many years of working with startups of all sizes is that the worst decision is actually the decision not made. Make decisions that complement your core values, and then take action. Ready, set, go.