Today I was reminded of a Marcus Buckingham’s book “Now, Discover Your Strengths”. It was 2007, and I had just joined a wonderful Austin company, NetQoS. The very smart leadership team required employees to read Buckingham’s book and take the test. The point of the exercise is to know what you are good at (your strengths) and to focus ultimately on those. We were encouraged to participate in tasks we were good at and leave the ones we weren’t good at to those who were. It was liberating, to say the least. I was never good at networking hardware, programming or math. I love working with customers and have the ability to see what is possible for the customer experience. Being relieved of what I didn’t know about networking or generating code, I was free to focus on what I was good at and ultimately generate success.
In case you are curious, here are the results of the test:
People strong in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.
People strong in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.
People strong in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.
People strong in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.
People strong in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.
I encourage you to read the book and take the test.
Now that you know a little about me. Has anyone else taken the test? Would you care to share your score? Were you surprised by your results? Did you find knowing your strengths liberating. Share!
Many small businesses do not have a marketing plan. They rarely update their websites, and typically only do so when they can get their “web guru” to return their email or phone call. They update their social media accounts when they get around to it on a rainy Saturday afternoon…flooding the accounts with pictures and out-of-context information all on one day. It’s daunting. Small businesses think that they have to plan for the whole year and who has time for that when you are trying to bring in business, order inventory, get orders shipped and pay the bills?
Take Baby Steps!
It’s January 2016 as I write this. Plan now for February. Just February. To make it easy, use Valentine’s Day as inspiration for the month and capitalize on this holiday to promote a special or new product. If you are new to marketing, start small. Plan to post 1 (blog, Instagram, Twitter and/or Facebook) post a week for the month of February. Use Canva.com or picmonkey.com to add some hearts or cupids to your promotion. Here is a step by step guide for February.
If you feel overwhelmed by the list above, make #4 optional. Try just 1 graphic for the month of February.
Don’t go for perfection. Just post something of value. Talk about a feature. Share what other customers “love” about your product. Ask customers to share what they love. February is one of the simplest months to start with. Go. Start now. You have the rest of January to kick it up in February.
If you need help, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll help you get started with the next few months or just for February.
Back in 1995 I was introduced to the internet. It was 11:30 am on a Friday. I sat at my desk and surfed all day and night and didn’t get home until 11pm. I was intoxicated by the world beyond my desk. I still remember my favorite sites. I taught myself HTML immediately, built a website for my company within days and was off and running. Over the next couple of years I moved to Atlanta, had 2 baby girls, moved back to Austin and kept on coding. In 1997 I had austinlinks.com at over 1 million visits a month and the site had won 2 Best of Austin awards. I started other websites for businesses large and small over the next couple of years. As the technology raced ahead of my skill set and the load of holding down a full time job while raising the girls on my own, the website building business took a back seat. What didn’t take a back seat was that many of the marketing people and business owners that I had built websites for kept coming back to pick my brain. Over coffee, lunch and drinks my internal light bulb would go off and I would spill out ideas as fast as they could write. My career compass also pointed towards marketing but the rat race (and probably fear) prevented me from looking at the obvious direction I was supposed to go.
This kept up for years. Free marketing advice over free meals and drinks and you know what? I LOVED LOVED LOVED it. I was happiest when my idea hat was on. There was nothing quite like the thrill of helping people with their marketing projects. Towards the end of my corporate gig I got to develop some really fun grass roots social media marketing and blogging campaigns for the DevOps team. It was so fun and very rewarding. I was working with a young, hip, smart and energetic team led by young woman who will probably be running Facebook someday. I’d hang up the phone and feel the pull.
Jamie & Mary in the Alps
In early 2015 my golden handcuffs were snipped and the doors flew wide open. Within 72 hours I was on a plane to Switzerland to go skiing in the Alps with old friends (whose first website I built back in 1997). Thank you Jamie and Warren. A generous severance package and no “vacation time” to worry about made this possible….oh and my pals in France too! I came back to Austin and sat through several weeks of meetings with people who honored me with invitations to join their teams. I was burned out and though grateful, I couldn’t move towards any of them. For the next several months I flew a lot. I caught up with 7 friends I hadn’t seen over 10 years, some decades longer. More importantly I caught up with my kids who I had put in the backseat while I peddled as fast as I could at work.
Highlights after Switzerland included a college visit to Northwestern, touring Chicago, Santa Barbara, the USPA Nationals in Palm Beach, a week in Fowl Cay in the Bahamas (thank you Cici & Steve), my daughter’s last Youth Polo Tournament in Houston, a wedding in Iowa and a long road trip to Fort Collins, Colorado to drop my oldest off, Villanova for a college visit and Vail for Fall. It was the best….the VERY best.
Starting in the early Spring a dear old friend started suggesting a social marketing and community building business. I kept saying no. Over the summer I started to feel the recovery. I was still giving free advice, but the pace had picked up and then I looked down at my compass. It felt right. What if I did what I was good at and started collecting a pay check for it? As I restored myself, my confidence and my creativity started to bloom. Boosted by friends who believed in me (thank you Mike and Candace), I decided to take the baby steps to building a company of my own. I had clients, I just needed to start invoicing.
It was a great year!
So here we are. The website was written over the summer and designed and coded over the Fall. Thank you Sujin and Cristina for your help with the design and development. I am forever grateful.
Take a stroll through the website to see what I am offering. I have some amazing people working with me in the background, so no job is too big or small. To date I have been:
What can I do for you?