The Art and Science of Making the Impossible Possible

June 24, 2009 by

Kimberly Wiefling, Author of Scrappy Project Management

What seems impossible, but if it were possible, would transform your business, your team, maybe your entire life for the better?  That is the paradigm-shifting question that I learned many years ago, and have frequently used to achieve what seems impossible, but is merely difficult.  This question has the power to unlock possibilities that otherwise would never peek out from behind the cloak of consciousness.

Human beings are animals, and we spend a lot of our time on autopilot.  We live many of the minutes, hours and days of our lives in some kind of trance state, highly functioning, no doubt, but not highly consciously aware.  Haven’t we all found ourselves at the end of a busy day wanting to shout out “Has anyone seen where the day went?”  And I have personally been on long drives in the car when I suddenly wondered who had been driving for the last 100 miles.  I had no conscious memory of the drive.  Most of my brain was off scampering around somewhere, but fortunately some part of it was driving the car!
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Getting What You’re Worth In a Recession

April 17, 2009 by

At a recent Santa Cruz Business Connect meeting, the speaker asked us, “What three things do you need?” Several people didn’t miss a beat and called out “a vacation,” and we all chuckled in agreement. At first I was stymied. While I make a list of To Do’s every day, I realized in a flash that what I needed in order to answer that question was a set of goals — the “three things” I needed would help me reach my goals. But, surprise, I really don’t have any goals. So I made a mental note: come up with some goals.

Not to be a networking wallflower, I was able to come up with three things I need which I shared with the group:

1. PROSPECTS IN THE PIPELINE: I have a lot of projects now, but I need to keep the pump primed so I will have work in three months, I said.

2. BETTER TIME MANAGEMENT: It would be nice to have more time with my family, since I ignore them when there is work to do. (I didn’t feel that strongly about this one because I really like what I do.)

3. RAISE MY RATES: I confessed that I don’t charge enough for my services and that I haven’t raised my rates for many years.

The issue of pricing was heavy on my mind. Just the week before, an associate and I pitched and won a web development project. When we met with the client, he said, “Your quote was very competitive, very competitive.” That’s great I thought; we were in the right ball park. Later I found out that the other bidder’s proposal was three times ours, and the client was prepared to pay twice our fee. Oops. I made a mental note: don’t forget to ask what the budget is.

These days, it’s easy to low ball rates and proposals with companies cutting way back on spending. But it that the way to go? Come in low, get more projects and stay busy (which means you could end up stretched too thin and stressed out)? Or ask for a fee that more accurately reflects the time that will go into the project, and the value of your experience and skills? I think the latter strategy is a smarter strategy, and I believe that despite the recession, companies are willing to pay a fair price for what they believe is the best solution for their problem. Because it’s not just about price – it’s about building a rapport, gaining an understanding of the client’s emotional and material needs, and delivering the solution that will generate the desired results. So if you can do all that, go for it, ask for what you are worth, because you are worth every penny!

Saying yes to tech-no

April 13, 2009 by

Camille’s blog entries have had me thinking, and I must say she’s inspiring. Without any experience in “blogging” she jumped right in and did it very, very well. I find it a bit daunting to think of what to write and share with a group of very accomplished, professional, intelligent women. I started reflecting on my process of learning new technologies. I know that to be successful as a project, media and event producer, I need to keep learning about and using technology to become more efficient, effective and connected. However, it’s not about “she who has the most tools wins.” It’s about being flexible and adaptable because in a blink of an eye  new technologies appear overnight.

Learning and using technology is a significant challenge for me because I’m a technophobe at heart. I was never very good at math or science, and stayed away from anything technical or mechanical. Living in a technical world now means I am often forced to swallow my pride, ask for help and to try something new that’s way out of my comfort zone. I read Ellen DeGeneres just recently learned to use e-mail. Phew, I was relieved at that news!

Too frequently pride keeps me from asking for help, but with computers, cell phones and the internet I have no choice but to step up to the device in question, (typically with my eyes glazing over all the instructions) and ask for help. I hate feeling like I’m not “getting it” fast enough or on my own, but technology has really taught me humility. Here is something that I can’t talk through, charm, negotiate or take short cuts with.

I’ve learned how rewarding and great if feels to turn my friends and family on to whatever new technology tool I’ve learned. I will never be able to thank enough IT staff or computer/cell phone savvy friends for all their help. However, I can share some tips and tools with others and let them know that if I can do it, anyone can!

I think I’ll get my mom and brother to blog and get the whole extended family up on Skype. I look forward to tweeting and being twittered! Through Facebook, email, LinkedIn, I am now in touch with pals I had in elementary school, and even forgave Johnny Orloff who broke my heart. I’ve found oodles of free business software tools and am now a “free trial” junkie. I’ve been to basecamp, pilfered shareware, been googled, trashed cookies, and merged playlists.

I also miss old-fashioned face-to-face interaction. I’m more confident entering the technical cyber world now, but the trick is to keep the balance with the rest of my world. Not just balancing job, family, friends, hobbies, exercise and all that – but also finding the right balance being unplugged and plugged in.

What about you?  How does technology affect you, do you feel balanced, and where do you go for help?

Message from mom

April 6, 2009 by

Last week’s WIB luncheon was spectacular. Mothers were acknowledged with gratitude for what they gave their daughters, the now grown-up speakers on the platform.  And I thought of mine.

There are those memories that are as clear today as they were when formed, very long ago.  I was probably a sophomore or junior in high school. My dad, mom, 1 older brother, Doug, and I lived on 10 acres in Bath, Ohio (north of Akron) with a great creek, loads of trees, groundhogs and sometimes deer. We call home “1157” — that was the street number and the street name was very long.

Most every night my mom would come up to my bedroom to say goodnight. On 1 warm, close summer night, she sat on the edge of the bed, the open window was open let in the almost-too-sweet fragrance of the lilac. I’m not sure what we talked about (ok, that ‘crystal clear’ stuff i said at the beginning, please give me some poetic license), but somewhere in the conversation she paused and said: “Be your own person.” Then said “Goodnight” and left.

I don’t know what the context was. I do know time stopped when she said it. Was it guidance or a reprimand because of something I’d done that day? Was I not being my own person or did I succeed?  Was it more about her than me? Was it the “being a woman” talk that transcended the sex talk?

Whatever it was, I embedded in my heart what i intrepret as my mom’s wish and commitment for me to be my own person. To stand on my own, to not forsake myself. It isn’t a rule so much as it is an inquiry.  The meaning changes with the context I find myself in.  What doesn’t change is the courage her words give me to get conscious of who I am right now.

What message did your mom give you?  What message are you giving your daughter?

Does Sole Proprietor = go it Solo, as in Alone?

April 2, 2009 by

Before i hung out my independent consultant shingle, in 2002, i had to confront what I thought it would be like to be ‘on my own.’  Could I do it? I didn’t like it, but it seemed like it might be ok, if only … i didn’t have to be by myself. dilemma.  Then, i got this idea: i don’t have to be alone, I’ll have clients, they can be ‘in my company’, sort of. Somehow that worked. I launched myself.

Lately,  with the number of clients dwindling, and the proposals that looked really promising getting pushed to Q2 or Q3,  I’ve been spending way too much time by myself.  I’m good company, except when business is slooow. like now.

I’ve been experiencing what my clients come to me for: a need to change. To change my view, to get out of the rut of the downward spiral, to change my attitude and actions. Know what i’ve learned big time?

Change is not easy.  And if it’s not easy for me who is in the business of “change”,  imagine what it’s like for people who don’t have my background or knowledge.I am imagining. The lesson of  ‘feeling the pain of change’ is not lost on me. The experience of  having what used to work, not work (read:  not produce the expected result & revenues) is a shock to my system, to my view of myself.

So, I’m reaching out to other ‘solo-preneurs’ , other small business owners and saying, what can we do together? what’s can we bring to market? I’m getting some traction. The movement is coming from reaching out, not wallowing, and from being willing to give and get help, to try lots of things, to fail and get up again. I’m sure there are more lessons on the way … this school’s in session for us all.

~ thanks for listening.

Welcome to the Santa Cruz Chamber Women in Business Blog

February 18, 2009 by

This blog is dedicated to the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce Women in Business.  Visit here often for insights and comments regarding women owned and run businesses.