Seven-day workweeks, unpredictable work hours, business development constantly on the mind, and little to no personal time are just a few things every entrepreneur becomes very accustom to while enduring the hustle of starting and growing a business.
We all know there are certain actions, habits, and behaviors that we should be doing each day to be a successful entrepreneur. I’ve read countless blogs, listened to hundreds of podcasts, and observed my mentors on the subject. I know that to be a successful and productive entrepreneur, I should be and need to be reading one great business book a month, exercise daily, drink water, wake up before 6 am, check emails before 7 am, eat healthy, find a mentor, plan your day, set goals, save money….and I completely agree with every single TO DO.
“CAUSE YOU HAD A BAD DAY”
Whether it’s a result of your alarm not going off, your computer crashing, your biggest client texting you non-stop because they’re upset, or because you totally bombed a presentation…we all experience bad days now and then.
Bad days are the worst. Especially when you’re an entrepreneur. We as business owners don’t have time to add a pity party to our already busy schedules.
WHEN IT RAINS IT POURS
I actually experienced one of these “bad days” this past week. It all started when I woke up Monday morning feeling like death. I was stuffed up, achy and feverish. All I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and sleep the day away. But I had more things on my to-do list than I knew what to do with, so that was not an option.
When I got to the office and attempted to tackle that lengthy to-do list, we had an unexpected crisis occur that required all of my attention. Nothing was getting done, which was stressful.
After we finished putting out fires for most of the day, my business partner and I decided to take a lunch break at 3:30 p.m. This was the highlight of my day. Finally, an opportunity to relax, have a beer, take my mind off work and recharge…oh, and to have my car towed!
One hour trip to the impound lot, $300.00, and few tears later; I was back in the office prepping for a very late night ahead.
TIME TO REFOCUS
The fact of the matter is, difficulties and obstacles in life, both personal and professional, are inevitable. They’re going to happen and when you are concentrating on building a business, it may seem obstacles appear more frequently than not.
It’s important NOT to focus on the obstacles you encounter, but instead focus on how you are going to handle them. Sure, I could have thrown my hands up in the air and called it quits for the day after my car was towed, but I didn’t. I chose to look at the obstacle that was thrown at me as an opportunity. “I never lose. I either win or I learn.” – unknown
HANDLE THAT “BAD DAY” LIKE A BOSS
As an entrepreneur, I strive to make a conscious effort to deal with situations in my life strategically verses reactionary. If I am having a bad day or if I’m feeling really down, I go through the following steps, which helps me stay positive and focused:
- ACKNOWLEGE IT: They always say the first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem. Well a bad day can quickly turn into a problem, so recognizing that and making the decision to turn it around is half the battle. The quicker you accept the fact that you can’t control what the Universe throws at you, the quicker you can move on!
- DO YOU: Once you’ve had a chance to gather your thoughts and calm down, do something for YOU. Go for a walk, grab a cup of tea or coffee, listen to some jams…do whatever calms your soul. I like to go somewhere quiet and meditate (which is something I’ve picked up recently and highly recommend to all entrepreneurs). Focus on yourself completely.
- UNCOVER THE SILVER LINING: This is my favorite step. After you’ve had time to calm down and focus on yourself, it’s time to uncover why that obstacle wrecked your day. There is always a lesson to be learned from a negative situation. Find it. When my car was towed the other day, my lesson was to slow down and really pay attention to my surroundings. There were signs (yes they were small signs) on the side of the street that I had failed to read. If I hadn’t been moving so quickly through my day, I would noticed them. Entrepreneurs are always running a mile a minute and we need to be told to slow down sometimes. It will only make us better.
- LET GO: I used to have a real problem fixating on things that didn’t go my way. Well that is no way to go through life, especially when you are in business for yourself. We need to be agile and willing to shift our focus or direction at any time. If your day was terrible, who cares? Move on. You never know if a bad situation is setting you up for an amazing one just around the corner.
So next time you’re having a bad day and feel like this…
Can I just say, WOW?! It’s not exactly the first word that normally comes to one’s mind after a 4 hour night of sleep, waking up to a day full of meetings, proposal writing, blog writing and the Friday hustle.
But for this Baltimore Entrepreneur - who spent last night in a room full of 75 amazingly talented and crazy intelligent people – that’s exactly what I’m thinking. WOW!
Startup Soiree kicked off last night at the Pixilated Headquarters and the energy was contagious. The excitement and buzz just couldn’t stop and wouldn’t stop! Seriously, check out Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, SouthBmore.com and The Daily Record to see for yourself.
Going into our first StartupSoiree event, I didn’t know what to expect. Why? Because there has never been an event like it here in Baltimore for entrepreneurs. I didn’t know what my big take-away would be, I wasn’t sure if everything IntrinsicEvents and Pixilated had dreamed possible would actually happen. But it DID and it was AWESOME!
As I was driving home reflecting on the night, it hit me. (And no, I’m talking about the Jailbreak Brewing Co. beer or the Nutreatious fantastic taquitos). I left last night recharged more than ever before in my business because of PRIDE.
PRIDE IN YOUR CITY
Ethan Giffin, #BmoreFounder of Groove , started off the night by stating, “"This city is so ripe...not even being from Charm City I'm so proud to bring attention to this place". Immediately upon finishing this statement, the Startup Soiree crowd began to cheer, hoot n holler, and ramp up the energy.
It’s amazing to see what Baltimore is doing and fostering in the entrepreneur world and Ethan reminded all of us to take such great pride in this amazing city we live, work, play, love and do business in.
PRIDE IN YOUR WORK & WORTH
Entrepreneurs strive for the day they are able to have an intimate, valuable, and memorable conversation with the leader in their industry. Last night, I had the privilege of meeting the insanely creative and driven business woman, Stephanie Bradshaw, #BmoreFounder of Stephanie Bradshaw Designs. During our conversation, she asked, “What is your biggest struggle in your business and growth right now?” To which I answered, having enough time, money and resources to execute on the Clients’ events we have, build new business, and build our business to where we want it to go.
Her advice to me was so simple, eloquent, and real. “That’s great, but always make sure you take pride in your work and your worth. You are talented, your Clients are important, and you need to show that to the world.”
Stephanie went on to talk about how in our industry, It’s not a competition when you have your brand and pride in your work and worth. In our industry of wedding and event planning, as well as our careers in entrepreneurship, it’s time to stop being in competition with one another and stand out. Be you, be a category of one, and take pride in all your work, and ultimately what you are worth to your clients.
It was the exact thing I needed to hear in that moment as I struggle with growth in our business. It brought me back to my brand and why it’s so important to keep your pride in your work and your value at the forefront of every day.
PRIDE IN YOUR PEOPLE
Another awesome thing that happened last night was finally meeting someone that you’ve been talking with via social media. For me that was Chris Jeffrey, #BmoreFounder of Order Up . As we were talking about branding and culture and new market growth, I referenced the first time I saw his street team of people during Fells Point Fun Festival hustling and getting the word out about his company and the expansion into Baltimore. His face immediately lit up, he smiled really big, and said, “That’s awesome, my people are awesome.”
Chris showed such pride in his people last night and the culture he has built. As I mentioned in my last blog post, people are the most valuable asset next to time in any startup. Take pride in your people and you will go so far in our entrepreneurial world.
PRIDE IN YOUR TALENT
Eddie Wingrat, #BmoreFounder of Flowers & Fancies, ended our night by thanking the Startup Soiree team for a wonderful evening. Eddie is an older gentleman who has been around in the Baltimore community for a very long time. He wasn’t sure if Startup Soiree was going to be the right place for him to be, as he isn’t exactly in Start Up mode. However, bringing it back to pride in your city, Eddie went on to tell us he was so impressed by the talent in the room. The room was filled with Online Food Delivery, Online Booze Delivery, Photobooths, Event Planners, Make Up Artists, Photographers, App Developers, Marketing Gurus, Chefs, and Floral Companies – quite the range of talent.
Everyone in the room had a sense of pride by being there, pride in their talent. Everyone no matter what their talent was invited to the event, they were accepted into the event, and they shared their talent with the community around them.
PRIDE IN YOURSELF
With any event, a debrief is always critical. And Patrick Rife, #BmoreFounder of Pixilated couldn’t have had a better After Action Review than this… “We did it. We had a vision and tonight, we made it a reality and we should all be so proud.” And you know what I am. I am so proud of our city, of our talent, of our work, of our worth, and of all of YOU who came out last night. Thank you for reminding me why I do what I do every single day.
FOLLOW me @jesgignac
FOLLOW my company @EventsIntrinsic for updates & upcoming events.
It’s the beginning of a New Year and you know what that means. The gym is way too over-crowded, Whole Foods can’t maintain stock in your favorite brand of organic almond milk, and networking events are sold out in a matter of minutes.
For all of us 24/7, 365 days-a-year hustlers out there, the New Year can be an extremely frustrating time of year, especially when it comes to networking.
For me, the frustration lies in the fact that because I do all things out of intrinsic motivation, I expect that others do the same. I network because I love talking about my company. I meet new people because I receive pleasure in hearing their stories. I go to events because I get enjoyment in checking out a new venue. I offer my services because I know I can help others achieve their goals.
However, the sad truth is, the majority of the people I meet at networking events are there because of extrinsic factors such as punishment from their boss if they do not go to X number of events per month or hand out 100 business cards per week. They are there because they want a free cocktail on their company’s dime. They are there to practice their elevator pitch. They are there for a chance to win the IPAD raffle prize.
Time & People
As entrepreneurs, time is money and the most valuable asset in our daily lives. 2nd to time is people and relationships. Networking is a necessity for entrepreneurs and something we SHOULD be looking forward to, not avoiding.
By true definition, “Networking is a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having common interest.”
As entrepreneurs it is up to us to bring networking back to creating this support system.
But How? How do we create this system in an environment flooded with extrinsically motivated individuals?
Be Autonomy Supportive.
A study conducted by the US National Library of Medicine proves that the power of choice promotes the experience of autonomy, which enhances intrinsic motivation.
What does this mean in terms of networking?
It means giving others the CHOICE to engage in conversation with you, not FORCING them to engage in conversation with you.
It means actively listening to what they have to say in order to offer opportunities that are relevant.
It means giving them the opportunity to listen to what you offer and deciding for themselves if they need what you provide.
It means encouraging conversation and self-initiation in others to do the same.
It means offering optimal educational opportunities for them to learn.
It means creating cooperative networking opportunities by introducing them to others you know
Be autonomy supportive in your networking, enhance intrinsic motivation among the attendees, and create a supportive system for you and your business. By doing this, you are bringing networking back to what it should be.
Intrinsically vs. Extrinsically Motivated Networking: How do you know until you go?
You don’t. And really, any networking event is what YOU make of it.
However, if we bring it back to time and people being our most valuable assets, then we need to be wise in our networking selections. In my vast networking experiences, I do have critical components that I look out for in networking events. If 3 out of the 5 factors are present, I politely decline as those are the times I find the most extrinsically motivated attendees.
1. Giveaways or Raffle Prizes
2. No educational component or program
3. No support of an online or physical community pre, during & post the event
4. Event capacity is 200+
5. No commonality among attendees
On the flip side, if a networking event has 3 of the 5 following factors, I make it a point to attend because I know I will genuinely enjoy the time with the people I meet.
1. Guest speaker or educational value
2. The host of the event is present and engaged
3. Event capacity is 100-150 max
4. Shared interests among like-minded attendees is apparent
5. Opportunity to connect and build relationships pre, during & post the event
Bringing it back.
In 2015, I am so excited for the true networking support system that Startup Soirée will create among the entrepreneur community in Baltimore. Through intrinsically providing a networking environment that brings together like-minded individuals to collaborate, learn, inspire, grow, and build a community where autonomy is at the forefront is something that is truly motivating. We are bringing networking back to what it can and should be.
FOLLOW me @jesgignac
FOLLOW my company @EventsIntrinsic for updates & upcoming events.