Are You Ready to Drive?

StirNot only will I celebrating my 50 Birthday this September, but the Rule of Thumb Book Series will be celebrating a 5 year anniversary. Following the publication of the first book, “Rule of Thumb a Guide to Small Business Basics”, nearly a dozen books followed with the goal of helping low- to moderate-income people learn to become self sustainable through entrepreneurship.

As our authors have traveled across the country doing seminars, they are hearing from site hosts and small businesses that these types of seminars never get to small town America. The goal of this Kickstarter project is to do just that, bring our Small Business Growth Seminars to at least 20 small towns with population under 50,000 people across 15 states.

Not only do we hope to inspire entrepreneurs in each community we visit, but we will be looking for some of the most inspiring stories. Out plan is to video blog their stories and share them with the world.

The events will be Free for up to 25 participants and each will receive a Kindle version of a Rule of Thumb Book. Not only can you help us meet our monitory goal, but you help us decide what communities will get to participate.  Help Us Drive 


Asking for Advice

As a start-up or new business, there are often times when it is difficult to analyze all the information coming your way.  The phrase “TMI” (too much information) takes on an entirely new emphasis as you struggle to assimilate all the details of a business.  This is a good time to form an advisory council or board.

An advisory council is simple and does not require any documentation.  Look at your existing network and think about individuals you already know that have a good business sense, are creative, share your values and other traits you would desire in a mentor or advisor.  Chose with care as you will be asking these people to donate their time and energy on your behalf.  You are not under any obligation to follow their advice but it is good to have a sounding board for ideas before you dive into the deep end of the pool.

Have a personal conversation inviting them to assist you in a mentoring or advisory capacity. Share with them your vision of how the advisory or mentoring will work, including the estimate of their time.  With the advisors’ permission, you may be able to add their bio to your website instantly building your credibility by showing your access to expertise.



An Appreciative Approach to Managing Your Career – Part 1

The late Peter Drucker, renowned for his practical insight on leadership and work life, said the biggest change of our generation, the factor that impacts who we are and what we do, is not technology, the internet, or e-commerce, but self-management. People today have more choices than any previous generation. Our life expectancy, and thus our working lifespan (the number of years dedicated to working), has increased to the point that the single-career life is unrealistic. We have to consider that we will have at least two careers, which may or may not have much to do with a previous career.  What is critical to note is that no one else is looking out for your career – it’s something you have to manage yourself. Taking an appreciative approach to managing our careers gives us hope, energy and focus as we ask ourselves positive, strengths-based questions.

Many of us have landed where we are by default, an unplanned trajectory that started when we got our first “real” job. From there we’ve floated the course of the river (or climbed the proverbial career ladder) and find ourselves pretty good at something we tolerate but don’t get excited about. We feel stuck because we have good benefits, a comfortable routine, and restist changing course now because it seems overwhelming if not unneccesary. But Drucker and others predict that we will be forced to change jobs either through obsolescence or redundancy. Since changing careers does not seem to be avoidable, we should take an intentional, positive route to prepare ourselves for the next vocational chapter in our lives.

What’s your story? When you think back over your life, the jobs you’ve had, the organizations you’ve been a part of, the volunteer activities you’ve signed up for, and the hobbies & social activities you find most enjoyable, what stories stick out in your mind? Storytelling is powerful, and being able to tell our own story, especially to ourselves, is extremely valuable. That may sound like a funny statement, but it’s true. Sometimes we are editors and minimalizers when it comes to our own stories, especially as it relates to ways we have excelled, advanced, and grown. How often do we allow ourselves to tell the whole story about our successes?

What questions should you be asking yourself? The fact is, the framing of our questions directly informs the answers we give.  David Cooperrider and Diana Whitney observe in their book Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change:

Human systems grow in the direction of what they persistently ask questions about, and this propensity is strongest and most sustainable when the means and ends of inquiry or positively correllated.

In other words, if we ask positive, strengths-based questions we’re likely to get positive, strengths-based answers.  Generate questions that get to the positive core of who you are, then build on those questions to move toward designing a positive vocational direction for yourself. Some sample questions you might ask are:

  • What is the high point of my career, when I felt most engaged, vibrant, alive?
  • What achievements am I most proud of?
  • What do I do especially well?
  • When do I feel that I’m at my best?
  • What, specifically, am I doing when I feel energized about my work?
  • Imagine yourself ten years from now. What is different? How have you accomplished your dreams?

These questions will get you started in a positive way. We’ll go deeper in the next post to identify the appreciative cycle (discovery, dream, design & destiny) and finally some practical advice on managing your career.