Archive for the ‘Business Consulting’ Category

Have You Found Your Inner-Purpose?

October 10th, 2017

“I’m not enjoying my work.” “This is not motivating.”

I’ve heard these words so many times from employees, managers and even executives with whom I work.

“But if I leave my current position, I don’t know what to do.”

They, like all of us at some point in our lives, wonder: “What is my purpose?”  “What should I be doing?”

This Harvard Business Review article prompts 5 questions to ask yourself as you start the process of discovering your inner purpose. I encourage you to answer the questions yourself.  Finding what you’re passionate about may be a life-long process.  Now is the perfect time to begin.  As a consultant, I’ve learned to help clients identify what drives them.  And then we try to align their drivers with what they are good at and what they enjoy.  This creates a sense of purpose and flow.

Don’t be afraid to go deep and to be honest about what you enjoy. If you’re having trouble with what you’re good at, ask someone you trust. They will tell you.  Share your answers with those you’re closest to. It may strengthen your relationship.

Here are my answers:

1. What are you good at doing?

Listening to people. Growing up, I felt insecure about opening up to others.  Instead of speaking, I found it easier to listen.  People love to talk about themselves.  Eventually, I noticed that listening allows me to connect better with business owners to factory employees. Within this context, I can be supportive or a helpful coach.

2. What do you enjoy?

I love one-on-ones with people.  We can dig in and get to the root of who we are and what life is all about.  Often, we’re not mindful about our interactions with others. The question “How are you?” is too readily asked without waiting for a real answer or listening to the tone and noticing the body-language of a person.

We can all recall friends saying “I’m okay” without really sounding so.  Upon further inquiry, they explain that they are going through difficult personal times and that it is affecting their performance at work.  These conversations are hard to have in groups or in large spaces, that’s why I enjoy one-on-ones.

Another favorite is coaching others. I remember coaching someone who was complaining that his daughter dropped out of an expensive Ivy League college.  He was angry at her for wasting his hard-earned money.  Coaching helped him realize that it wasn’t the money.  He explained that he goes to a gym with several other men who graduated from Ivy League schools as did their children.  It forced him to address his working-class roots which he was hiding all along.  Once he recognized it, he was no longer angry at his daughter but more at himself for being so ashamed of his upbringing.  He then began to be proud of who he is and where he came from.

3. What feels most useful?

Positive feedback energizes me. Hearing from my clients that our interventions improve how people work and play together or that they made personal breakthroughs resulting in a more meaningful life means a lot to me. It guides my work and drives me to do more.

4. What creates a sense of forward momentum?

Photo of the pond in my backyard

Photo of the pond in my backyard.

 

 

Paradoxically, when I am sitting on my back porch surrounded by the sounds of nature and feeling the warmth of the sun, I get energized.  I’m constantly busy with colleagues and clients. Having quiet moments to myself during the day increases my joy and makes me feel alive.

5. How do you relate to others?

I choose to see the best in them.  Yes, I know there are some people who are mean spirited.  Until that is proven to me, I will give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Each person has a unique something about them.  I love finding that out.

So, what does all this mean? To me it means that I have found the right fit between who I am as a person and how I engage with the world around me.  In Maslow’s language, I feel self-actualized!  You can too!

-George Alwon

A Decision I Made 38 Yrs. Ago

April 12th, 2017

 

38 years ago, I decided to start my own business because I knew working for someone else didn’t feel right for me. I am too independent and at times don’t play well with others. More importantly, the inhumanity of some workplaces struck me when working with different companies. Working in sterile environments, shouldn’t mean having to be sterile, ourselves. Business consulting seemed to be a way for me to help people work better together and maximize their potential.

The person to inspire me to work for myself was my Aunt Yvonne. She had chronic arthritis. She was confined to a wheel chair. Yet, wrote a column for the local newspaper, sold cosmetics and Christmas cards all from her wheelchair. She inspired me to work independently. As a child, I sold cards at Christmas time with her.

I was nervous about starting my own business because I lacked money, a PhD and had yet to write a book. In my first year, I sought out the advice of a retired executive to help me. He was 80 years old. His approach annoyed the hell out of me because he kept asking “why?” Well, my answer was because I said so. My shallow response wasn’t satisfactory to him and he forced me to think about how our customers can benefit from our services.

 

So, I asked myself how selling Christmas cards as a teenager helped my then customers? The answer:– I made it easy for them, they didn’t have to sign their names and write their addresses on the envelops. It was printed.  Aha! That was my signature; make it easy for my customers!

My father was my role model for owning a business. My dad supported my family with Alwon Electric Co. He, like me, was just a good technician who worked for himself. He always had a small team helping him. He showed me, by example, how important it is to treat employees like peers and friends. His customers were loyal to him because he cared about them as people, not just as clients.

On the first stages of building my business I struggled because I didn’t know what I was selling and didn’t have confidence in my abilities. Yes, I could sell cards as a kid. But now I had to sell more complex and expensive products.

I wanted to quit when people weren’t buying. My biggest mistake was trying to sell to the wrong person–the gatekeepers: Personnel (these were the people who ran HR in the past). They listened, got excited and challenged me. Yet, no one bought anything! I had the wrong buyer and I didn’t know how to sell. What a horrible and depressing combination that was for me.

What motivated me was simple…I did not want to fail. Down deep, like my Aunt Yvonne, I knew that to succeed I had to have relationships. All I needed was a few solid business friends and things could take off. Not having kids or a husband to support made this easier for me. My Aunt Yvonne kept a happy face and remained persistent despite overwhelming obstacles. My dad built his business while supporting my mom, my siblings, and me.

I knew we could do good with the great leadership training and assessment programs we offered. So, my partners and I kept at it. With persistence, I began to find the right buyers. I prioritized getting in front of people who had the authority and budget to invest in their teams. These leaders (managers and business owners) also wanted someone they could confide in, a mediator to help with people problems, a coach who could help motivate and energize their staff. Yes, they wanted a consultant… like me. Business owners, as they’ve always been, were busy with building or selling and didn’t have time for the softer part of business. They liked our style. It worked!

For those wanting to start a business, I’d suggest you find your personal style, be persistent and genuine with those you work. My guess is that what you start out with may not be what you end up doing. If you listen to your customers, then you will find that as the market, technology and times change, so should you.

I watched my Aunt work on her phone from her wheelchair. She could hardly hold the phone, yet she spent many hours talking with people and building relationships that lasted a lifetime. And they bought from their friend Yvonne.

Without relationships, your sales are only transactional. With solid relationships, your impact can be transformational.