Opinion by Thought Leaders
Read the latest opinions from tech & business pros across the globe.

Accounts Receivable Automation and How it Affects People and Processes

 

As more companies look for ways to streamline internal processes, the question I am asked the most is about personnel. This goes beyond the whole, “Robots are taking our jobs” trope; it speaks to how companies maintain their culture and employee loyalty in times of uncertainty. The concerns of employers balancing client retention, cost reduction, and innovation are even more heightened as we face a shaky economy.

But what if cost-reduction or risk-reduction measures did not mean losing headcount?

Picture the following scenario:

A manufacturing company is expanding their B2B operations online after recognizing that their growth is stagnating. Diane in the Accounts Receivable department cannot handle an increase in B2B buyers, but the company’s leadership wants to expand into eCommerce and double the size of the business.

A solutions provider pitches the idea of outsourcing the accounts receivable functions, offering a white-labeled, omni-channel invoicing and terms program for the B2B buyers. The program includes the following

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Lead Your Team Through Crisis: Advice and a Gift from a Former Crisis Counselor

 

It feels like a chapter from a Stephen King thriller, doesn’t it?

I don’t think any of us had this in mind as we headed into 2020.  And, here we are.

You may or may not know I was a family therapist and crisis counselor in my previous career.  During my time in that role a small community was shaken to the core by a disgruntled citizen in an creatively armored bulldozer, wildfires that devastated our homes, and workplace and school shootings shook our sense of safety to the core.

Mental health and the capacity for resilience is critical for our survival right now.  The good news? Your ability to acknowledge your own and other’s emotions is a built-in ability most people have.

While an in person, one-on-one strategic brainstorming session isn’t on the table right now, I am offering advice for leaders to support you as you take the most important action you can right now as a leader.

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Happier Employees and Better Retention in Three Simple Steps

 

Reduce the Headaches of Turnover, Starting with the First Interview.


Simple changes during the Interview & Orientation phases can dramatically reduce your turnover, in addition to lowering training costs and boosting morale (and thus productivity!).

We currently in a Candidates' Market, like it or not.  The philosophy that "the employer writes the check so employees should comply and be happy" no longer applies in terms of retention and securing top talent.

The incredibly fast pace of the Healthcare industry, ever-changing compliance and regulatory standards, mergers, and now a global pandemic converge to make hiring and retaining employees the perfect storm.

The average unemployment rate in 2020 is 3.5 %, the lowest since 1969. "Voluntary" employee turnover is also up almost 8 % from 2017 to 2019. These figures illustrate a costly and challenging situation for owners, hiring managers, and human resources.

The bottom line is that Employees have the power, especially in industries with a skilled talent shortage, such as healthcare.  They have options, and they know it.  Employees are no longer leaving to retire or relocate. If they are unhappy and feel that there are greener pastures elsewhere, they are quick to move on.  This creates a considerable strain on any organization, including costly forced overtime, executive burnout, lowered morale, and ultimately – more turnover!  A recent study revealed the top preventable factors that cause employees to resign:

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Is Life Better With Or Without Technology?

 

Technology Dominates Modern Day Life, But Is It Good or Bad?


As a Gen X’er (those born between 1965 and 1980), I grew up alongside technology. However, life in the 80s and even the 90s was much different than it is now, and my childhood didn’t feel like it was dominated by all things electronic. We didn’t have cell phones, Google, or social media when we were young (much to the shock and horror of my kids). I didn’t spend the majority of my youth staring at a screen. I wouldn’t have grown up in any other decades, although that is all I know. Many people argue that we had it better than kids do now, but did we?

Communication and Entertainment - From Street Lights to Cell Phones

Growing up, I spent most of my time playing outside with my friends. I have so many fond memories of running around outside for hours, exploring and going from friend’s house to friend’s house until it got dark. When the street lights came on at dusk, that was my signal that it was time to head home. My mom also had a giant bell that she would ring, and we would hear it from a distance and know that it was dinner time.

In elementary school and junior high, my friends and I passed notes back and forth to chat, and we knew about 1,000 different ways to fold a piece of paper. My friends and I would often mail letters to one another despite living just down the street and having the ability to walk to each other's houses. I still have all of my notes and letters from childhood saved in a box, and it is quite a large collection.

We used landline phones with super long curly cords to call family and friends, and long phone calls were common and plentiful. One of our home phones was a rotary phone, and I still remember hating when someone had a 9 in their phone number, as that number took the longest to dial. When we were out and about, we carried around quarters for payphones, which we used to call our parents and tell them when it was time to pick us up from the mall. When I got to high school pagers (aka “beepers”) were popular, and it felt exciting to be able to communicate on-the-go.

During my youth music was mostly played via the radio or cassette players, but we also occasionally pulled out the record player. We spent hours waiting by our boomboxes, waiting to hear our favorite song on the radio, and when it came on we would quickly press record to try to tape the whole song on our cassette tapes without missing a beat. We used portable Walkmans to listen to our taped playlists. In the early 90s, audio CDs replaced cassette tapes, and cassette tapes basically became extinct.

MP3s, or digitally-compressed music files, brought about a new level of accessibility to music in the late 90s. However, it was still tricky to grab music off of the internet, until Napster came along. Napster was a software that enabled people to download their favorite songs from other users, who had retrieved them from ripped CDs, often breaking copyright laws. The software peaked from late 2000 to early 2001 until it declined in the early 2000s due to lawsuits from musicians and music companies. The Apple iPod, a portable media player that was released in late 2001, was designed by Steve Jobs and revolutionized how we listened to music. Apple came through once again in 2003 when it introduced a new way to download music with the iTunes Music Store, which offered millions of songs for only 99 cents apiece. Now we have a plethora of ways to download inexpensive or even free music online using iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Pandora, etc.

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Why Fear is Every Leader’s Worst Enemy

 

What do leaders struggle with? High-achieving performers and executives generally direct their attention to practical matters regarding execution of strategies, completion of large initiatives, revenue generation and so much more. Obviously, lofty goals come with their own challenges to face on the path of continued success for the individual and the organization. While it's tempting to throw tools and training of all kinds at high performers to support their endeavors, is that what leaders truly need? Is it really as simple as offering additional strategic and tactical advice?

If the answer was yes, then no company anywhere would find it challenging to reach their goals and realize their vision with the right talent in the mix.

Because humans are involved, it's not that simple. Businesses and HR departments spend a lot of time and energy trying to find programs and approaches that will equip their high performers with tools rather than taking the time to find out what makes their leaders and innovators tick. Personality tests are helpful, but they are limited in their utility. Likewise, skills- and habit-focused training is somewhat generic in that there's often a one-size-fits-most, formulaic approach. The truth is that there is no out-of-the-box test, training, or formula that will succeed in moving a leader forward if there's an underlying reason why the individual hesitates to do what needs to be done in the first place. Typically, there is an underlying reason, and it's a common one despite evidence of outward success.

That reason is fear.

Yes, fear. We tend to believe that the more success someone has, the less fear is a factor in how they think and operate. In my experience as an executive coach, that's simply not true. In fact, as the perceived stakes become higher with more responsibility and status, fear becomes more complex. It may not show up in recognizable form, making it harder to trace to the root cause. Perhaps fear shows up as hesitation to take action or have a difficult conversation. It frequently shows up in the form of procrastination, as it's easier to put something off than face the reasons why they won't take it on. It can also manifest as time spent on areas that are less critical. It's more comfortable to focus on a less complicated action or project rather than deal with the real priority because there's risk and uncertainty involved.

To further complicate matters, being near the top of an organization can be isolating. Who can you be vulnerable with? Can you be truthful without being punished for doing so? Will what you share be used against you? Will the truth of the leader's experience make them appear weak and poorly equipped to handle their role? Whether these concerns are based in reality or not, sharing vulnerabilities and asking for support is perceived as too big of a risk to take.

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High-Functioning Disabilities at Work: A Roadmap for Success

 

If you are a high-functioning individual suffering from a mental or behavioral health ailment (which may or may not be protected under the disabilities act for reasonable accommodation), your daily life at work is quite possibly a tough battle. A tougher one possibly than of those who are off-work on leave and therefore, although quite possibly much more debilitated, can have some level of control on the amount of uncertainties that will disrupt their wellbeing. Whether you are depressed but your severe phases come in cycles, or are a GAD (general anxiety disorder) sufferer who can pull through most of the days but not all, or suffer from a Psychosis that occasionally manifests at work but doesn’t completely impede your ability to be employed, you are someone who shows up to work and does great (either because or in-spite of your disorder) while pedaling like Stanford ducks underneath the surface. You either didn’t disclose your disability at work, or even if you have, will not avail (unless it’s the last option) the ‘reasonable accommodations’ available to you. But most challenging is the fact that no one talks about the likes of you. There are no career development articles, best known methods, behavioral guidelines, leadership skills, that will acknowledge you, let alone provide direction. No one wants to talk about us. We ourselves don’t want to deal with the not normal parts of our otherwise normal days. But we are the new normal. Mental health at work is becoming more and more a matter with work and life complexities skyrocketing. So, the counsellor’s couch toolsets need to come into the mainstream career conversations, not just tip toe-d around in chapter seven of self-help books.

This is an even bigger problem for women because of unhelpful gender stereo-typing and unfair labelling. Hormonal. Emotional. Un-professional. No, we are not, but men are in majority and therefore, ‘testosterone-ic’ behaviors are considered professionally more acceptable, and even downright desirable, even when they are outcomes of the same struggles that manifest as tears for women. Reactions are also grouped, and gender labelled, instead of categorization by mental health condition which could serve the helpful purpose of mental health awareness.

I have had to craft my own guidelines, success definitions, and daily steps. The first step is to address head on the fact that we, and others like us, exist. Note: this doesn’t suggest mandatory declaration or disclosure. In fact, my advice on that is to tread very carefully irrespective of what printed policies say. There’s a lot of progress still to be made on unconscious bias and mental health awareness. But we need to ruthlessly trash any of the shame we might feel within ourselves. And then, we need to be aware of signs in others that would require us to have higher self-control and greater compassion. Empathy is one gift out of this curse, and we should take advantage of that by being the higher EQ individuals in the room. We will need that to shield us against our behavioral ‘eccentricities’ which we will not be able to always control. We also have to take a social responsibility, if I may call it so, to be vocal in our own ways possible appropriately. Finding a tribe, an outlet, and working to help a cause that affect us daily is a great strength provider, and the base of this pyramid that I will try to build here for excellence at work for the likes of us.

There are two well-known principles I am going to base this roadmap on. One is the known concept of run the business, grow the business, transform the business (or you might have heard it as keep today secured, plan for tomorrow, transform the future – or similar – you get the theme). This is a familiar concept for business. Now think of this and apply this to what I’d like to call a ‘self-aware roadmap for career sustenance and development’. First, acknowledge that you have some limitations, know what they are, what your triggers are, and have foolproof, well-practiced plan for managing them. First for today, and then for tomorrow. Below are some tips on that.

Meditation and Mindfulness

This horse has probably been beaten to death, but not in a way that can work for high-functioning strugglers who need some tools while at work. Focusing on your breath while driving to work on your worst days and forcing yourself to continuously re-ground through tools like counting, concentrating on a sound, tapping is something you need to not only know of, but also have written down somewhere to be able to use regularly. It takes a bit of time and on our worse days, a lot of determination, but eventually the calming effect of focusing on the moment starts becoming more and more apparent.

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New Age Career Management: Make Flashpoints a Part of Routine

 

We get to hear about career flashpoints almost daily these days. In search of anecdotes for career setbacks, or while in the middle of reflections that are leading to nowhere, we possibly look for these ourselves and stumble upon articles after articles on how life’s severe downturns – from divorce, to health diagnoses, to job loss – forced stepping out of comfort jones and ultimately more fulfilling career happily ever after. These accounts are quite accurate no doubt, for that is how life works. It’s a chaotic dynamic equilibrium in which persistent strategizing eventually works, as does random events.

Either small gains, or great achievements, always emerge out of most situations. And since finding fulfillment is a whole different matter from achieving absolute success and absolute success can’t be defined absolutely (unless we are talking Bill Gates), all really ends well at the end. The point however is that unless it’s a physical end of life, ‘the end’ is really never an end. It is just the current point in time. Those who are writing those articles, unfortunately will go through both beautiful highs and frustrating lows again.

Therefore, flashpoints, or turning points - no matter what we call them - never stop coming. Most work environments today are going through an interesting dichotomy of ‘take more time to reflect, foster human connections, introspect, go after fulfilment, keep your core values in mind’ but ‘work faster, cheaper, longer, constantly, keep upskilling, ensure continuous increase in productivity (aka increase value to shareholders) and be obsessed about the customer(read work).’ Flashpoints are bound to become more frequent. Less big bangs and more continuous clustered fireworks. And bounce back times are going to be shorter.

For me, given the high flux, high churn and mostly ambiguous environment I work in, it is more a continuous evolution. A point by point (often weekly if not daily) re-strategizing. Those ‘oh my god’ moments followed by months of reflection and nirvana that I thought would happen one, maybe two, times in a 20/30-year career have become the norm. Redeployments, job losses, change of bosses, personal crises will cause no shortage of forced reflections, but it’s almost given that for most of us (barring some who have fallen into a career sweet spot of promised decade long or longer tenure), there will be no luxury of years of introspection driven re-invention. Therefore, this needs to be continuous too.

Below are three guidelines, or verticals as I would call them, that I cluster my continuous career strategizing around. It took me a bit of time to put some guard rails in place instead of the chaotic, frantic, what do I do and what should my career (or life) thoughts be based on (which would often be tailored to nature of the immediate crises) modus operandi. I now find these immensely useful, for doing this frequently is not easy if not made into a structured habit.

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Remote Jobs Benefit Employees and Employers

 

These days it seems as though companies are all trying to “out cool” each other and compete for the title of Best Place to Work. Taking their cues from Google, it’s now quite common for companies — especially tech companies — to offer their employees perks like gyms, game rooms, lunches, coffee baristas, and more. Many companies are moving from old musty buildings to brand new buildings with glass walls, bright colors, games, and even built-in beer taps.

I’ve worked in a few places like this, and I even worked as a recruiter at one. People who came in for interviews saw the ping pong table and arcade games and were instantly sold on the company culture. “This must be a super fun place to work,” they would say. And it mostly was, although that had much more to do with the people and the environment created by management than the games, which mostly collected dust.

Employees love bells and whistles. We love bagels with assortments of cream cheeses, and we get excited about wearing jeans to work. We love clubs and games and feeling like we’re part of a hip company culture. Sure, all those things are great, but many people would happily do away with all of those things entirely and embrace the benefits of working from home instead.

Although many companies have gone entirely paperless, there is often still hesitation from employers when it comes to allowing employees to work outside of the office. Yet the benefits of working from home far outweigh the benefits of working in an office, both for employees and employers.

Benefits for Employees

  1. Greater Productivity. Remote employees can focus on getting the job done without office distractions. Research done by Gallup has consistently shown that remote employees are happier, satisfied, and more productive.
  2. More Money. Working from home saves employee’s money otherwise spent on gas, fancy work clothes, and fast food. Getting more work done can lead to greater commissions for commissioned employees.
  3. Health Benefits. Waking up, rushing around, and dodging traffic doesn’t make for a great start to the workday. Cutting out commuting cuts out stress and makes for happier employees. At home, an extra chunk of time can be spent doing refreshing things like taking a power nap, taking a quick walk out in the fresh air, doing some yoga stretches, etc.
  4. Work/Life Balance. Instead of taking PTO and rushing around between the office and the kids’ school, parents can take a quick break and pick up their kids from school and see them more often. These small things can make a world of difference for both parents and children in terms of happiness.

Benefits for Employers

  1. Greater Productivity. One of the main concerns’ employers have is that if they allow their employees to work remotely, employees will be less productive. This mindset has been proven wrong repeatedly. Studies consistently show that productivity increases when employees work from home.
  2. More Money. When employee productivity increases, so does company revenue. Allowing employees to work from home also cuts down on office costs for supplies such as coffee, paper towels, etc. Healthier employees also lead to lower health insurance costs.
  3. Fewer Employee Absences. When employees work from home, they are less likely to call in and take unscheduled paid time off. Rather than calling in sick, an employee can sit at their desk or even lie on their bed at home and work, rather than coming in and spreading germs around the office, subsequently causing more employees to call in.
  4. Less Turnover. Healthier employees with a greater work/life balance are more satisfied employees, who are much more likely to stay in their position.

If the idea of letting employees fly away from the nest is still a terrifying idea for employers, they can start by allowing their employees to work from home one day a week or a few days a week. Rather than worrying about giving up control, employers should worry about employees’ productivity and overall well-being, for the benefit of all parties involved. In today’s world, companies should adapt and allow employees to work remotely in order to continue to attract and retain top talent.

 
 
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Why Communication Follow Up is Critically Important

 

The follow-up: it's been a mainstay of the business world for decades. But this gesture of courtesy seems to be going by the wayside more and more. Could be a generational thing, or it could be because we're increasingly being pulled in all kinds of work, digital and social directions. But more on that later. For now...why is communication follow up so critical in the business world, not just among executive leaders but at all levels of an organization?

As Chron puts it so well, it's not so much that communication isn't occurring (it is), but the deficiency lies more in the follow up. A critical communication skill is honing the ability to learn to identify the deliverables or follow up tasks that all parties may have previously agreed to, affirm commitment to those tasks and then follow through to ensure the tasks and commitments have indeed been carried out. Without the second half of that equation, there is no accountability. Without accountability, what is the purpose of having a plan in the first place?

Follow up is vital because it:

  • Keeps everyone accountable.
  • Ensures stated tasks get done in a timely manner.
  • Expresses renewed interest in the matter at hand, as well as the people involved.
  • Shows you care enough to check up on the status.
  • Displays integrity and strength of character -- two big qualities in business.
  • Reiterates the plan so everyone can review each task or deliverable.
  • Ensures everyone is on the same page.
  • Reduces the chance of mistakes and misleading statements.
  • Keeps you front of mind for your clients.


People are being reduced to commodities, says Entrepreneur so eloquently. In today’s marketplace, you have to be different. You have to stand out. How can you do this? Get great at follow-up. It's becoming a lost art but you don't have to be resigned to that fate. The heart and soul of the follow up in communication is "connection." You want to maintain a business connection, of course, but you also want to maintain that personal connection, that special something that ties you to another person. Pay attention, gather information and then use it for the follow up. If you're following up with a client, for instance, state the reason for your follow up, but also touch on something personal. Ask how their daughter is feeling if the last time you spoke your client mentioned her child was home with the flu. Ask about that vacation they took to that resort you recommended.

These are all connections, and they matter.

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Small Business Needs More Diversity in Leadership

 

In a not too distant past, diversity at the leadership level was not as common; nor was it commonly agreed upon beneficial practice. Though still not at desirable levels such practices are more widely discussed and accepted. However, most discussions around diversity tend to be around midsize and larger organizations; supposedly having a “trickle-down effect” if those larger organizations lead by example.


Before going into its necessity for small business, let's agree on a couple of simple principals for this article:

  • Diversity should almost never come at the expanse of qualification.
  • Diversity is proven to have a positive impact on revenue and profits.

Now that we have established some ground rules, let’s move on to why small business should be the main place where inclusion and diversity takes place.

Why?

It doesn’t matter what school of thought you prescribe to and it doesn’t matter where you look: small business is the backbone of United States economic growth engine. It equally employs the largest number by leaps and bounds. So one would wonder why we expect large companies to lead the way of having more diverse and inclusive leadership. The answer is: we shouldn’t. We should expect diversity and inclusion to “trickle up” from small businesses not only because of their unparalleled dominance but even more importantly because of their inherent flexibility, nimbility and adaptability.

How?

So, since Small Businesses (SMB) are so dramatically dominant how would or should they go about such diversity and inclusion? Most of the conversations on SMB starts around entrepreneurs and their ability to succeeded in highly competitive markets where the competitions is not static: not only is it likely that they are already either competition with established businesses but also trying to create interruptions, but they also have to wrestle with the traditional challenges of SMB including funding, human resource management, production and quality assurance as well as consumer dynamics.

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Is Your Digital Transformation Strategy for Real?

 

Digital transformation is a good thing and it's been talked about the last several years as CIOs, CEOs, and other execs look to make a move. However, lately it's just become a "buzzword," generating a lot of hype. How can you ensure you have a solid digital transformation strategy?   Many businesses, large and small, are attempting to transform their processes using digital tools. Many cases of transformation have been successful, creating solutions that enhance problem solving while driving efficiency and bottom line gains, says Forbes. Digital transformations are even tougher than traditional change efforts to make work. However, the most effective transformations usually rely on certain factors for success. Here are some things you should be doing.

1. Secure Strong Leaders

Digital transformations demand change at all levels of your organization, particularly from key decision makers and tech-savvy leaders. Research has shown that companies that engage a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) to be a supportive force behind their transformations are nearly two times more likely to have a successful digital transformation than those that do not. When people in leadership roles are heavily involved and invested in the planning and execution, the transformation is far more likely to succeed.

2. Take Inventory

Once your key decision-makers have committed to making a digital transformation strategy work, it's time to take stock of your company's tech stack, including competencies and gaps, as part of your email marketing, CRM and internal collaboration systems so you can better streamline your processes. Often times, digital transformations stem from a desperate need to re-platform. Maybe your current system is obsolete or maybe your existing system just isn't working for your employees and users any longer. Whatever the case, changing your technologies can reawaken your whole business.


3. Craft a Digital Roadmap

Creating a vision to strive for is important because digital transformation isn't just about implementing new technologies and stopping there. Rather, it's a systemic grassroots effort that needs to be fueled by a well-thought-out vision. Know how you will leverage your digital tools as part of a detailed plan for execution across your whole company.


4. Reiterate Your Goals

Take another look at your goals, going over your digital transformation agenda over and over, making sure you have included:

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Health and Wellness of Successful Leaders

 

Taking care of yourself is a key part of being a successful leader. To that end, it's necessary to build in time for yourself to ensure you're putting your best self forward every day. "Health and wellness" will mean different things to different people. To some, it may mean eating cleaner, cutting out processed foods and making smarter choices with natural, whole foods. To others it means finally establishing a regular exercise routine every morning before hitting the office. To others it may mean taking 15 minutes out of the day to meditate or do yoga, or even start parking far from the building in order to get a walk in twice daily. Perhaps to you, it means taking steps to reduce the anxiety and stress that is infiltrating your life.   Whatever the case may be, health and wellness should be a priority for every leader.


Prioritizing Health for Success

As a leader, you're more vulnerable to stress than others. As a result of putting others first as well as your growing business, you may have been neglecting your own health, happiness and well-being. It may work for awhile, but no one can keep that up for very long. The sad result is often failure and burnout. With burnout comes a loss of productivity, which is never good for anyone's bottom line -- or health for that matter. The recipe for long-term success begins and ends with you.

At its core, leadership is about the ability to set a vision and persist over the long run as you lead yourself and others to take on the challenges of running a successful business. Taking care of yourself now will impact your energy levels and stamina over the long haul. Yet so many leaders ignore this simple fact and just keep running on empty. As your tasks grow bigger and the work piles up day after day, it's understandable that self-care will be relegated to the back burner to make way for more critical priorities.  But while it's understandable, it's also not OK. Those who don’t prioritize their health can become fatigued, stressed, dehydrated, sick and yes, unbearable to work with. This pattern of behavior is more common than you might think. One thing is for sure: managing your health is a vital part of being not only a successful leader but an effective human being too.


Stress: It's a Killer

You didn't get where you are today by shying away from challenges and the stress that comes with it. But just because you've made it this long doesn't mean you're immune. Some day, it will affect your ability to be a successful leader, and that's science talking. You may blame your nagging headaches, frequent insomnia and decreased productivity on illness. However, stress may be at the root of it all. Stress symptoms can affect your whole body, as well as your well-being, thoughts, feelings and behavior. It can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and obesity, and can increase your risk for heart attack, says the Mayo Clinic.   Common effects of stress on your body include:

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension and pain
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Change in sex drive
  • Upset stomach
  • Difficulty sleeping

In addition to the physical health side effects of stress, there's also mood to contend with. It can lead to anxiety, depression, restlessness, lack of motivation and focus, and irritability. 

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Succeeding in the Business of Life

 

Success in business is akin to success in life: hard work pays off. Life is simply better when you're on your game, and when you excel in deed, word and thought, you exude that confidence to others, whether that's your spouse or your colleagues. So, how can you operate at your very best every single day and motivate the people around you to do the same? Here is some advice on succeeding in the business of life.

Embrace Your Uniqueness

Explore your uniqueness...what makes you YOU? Is it your leadership style? Is it your enthusiasm and zest for life? Is it your never-back-down attitude? Is it your propensity to be kind to everyone no matter their status in your organization? Those are all great qualities to explore. Your uniqueness also stems from your personality and those daily quirks that make you endearing to others. Decide what your differentiator is, embrace those traits that make you uniquely qualified, experienced and interesting, and channel the confidence that is sure to evoke a positive response in others, says Inc.
 

Don't be Afraid to Take a Gamble

Successful people don't get where they are by always playing it safe. They aren't afraid to take a risk, take the road less traveled, stifle their fears and truly go after something they want. In fact, the best entrepreneurs are gamblers by nature. Yes, it's risky but it can also be incredibly rewarding and  fun. Successful entrepreneurs combine a healthy tolerance for risk with diligence, backed by diverse experience. They aren't afraid to fail, learn and repeat, over and over again. Those trials and failures are what will make you a better person and ultimately more successful in the business of life.

Assume Everything is Possible

Successful people don't cower from challenges, or take a Negative Nelly attitude to any project that is proposed. Instead, they assume everything is possible until it's proven impossible. Not everything will work out, to be sure. But when faced with a challenge, think of it first and foremost as overcome-able. Open your mind to consideration of every solution, always defaulting to "yes." This open mind will allow new ideas to infiltrate your business life that you never thought possible before.
 

Scare Yourself a Little

If you're terrified to get up in front of people to speak at conferences, take a public speaking class to get better at it. If you have a bit of anxiety meeting people in business or social situations, push yourself out of your comfort zone and attend parties, gatherings and work events. Perhaps it goes a little deeper than business, and you want to conquer something death defying, like skydiving. Whatever makes you push the envelope and scare yourself a little will only force you to grow as an entrepreneur and individual, advises Success.

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Simple Yet Effective Leadership

 

Leadership is not a complex beast. It's simple, yet not easy to implement. Natural and not forced. Sought after but not always achieved. Leadership is simple, yes, but it also has to be effective in all the right ways. Leadership is all about relationships, says Inc., and they are far more important than issues. Even so, most leaders focus on the issues without ever truly developing relationships of trust. When the relationships work, the bottom line will work itself out.

Good leaders, when confronted by a challenge, must determine which role everyone will take and how they will tackle the problem at hand. Just like people aren't two-dimensional, neither is leadership. It's possible and even expected to take on different roles and styles depending on the situation and person you are involved with.


Trust and Correction

Just like a romantic relationship or a friendship, when there is trust between people or a group of people, feelings aren't hurt when correction is offered. That so-called healthy conflict is vital to growth and progress. But because very few people foster trust in their relationships, they fail to engage in healthy conflict, often reverting to lying to their leaders and vice versa. Correction must happen in a leader/employee role. There is no way around that. Performance may even improve for a time. But often, that unhealthy conflict doesn't have the long-term intended effect it was meant to have. That's because the relationship is not secure, which can lead to disaster in no time flat.

That's why leaders must strive for a deeper relationship of trust. Without healthy doses of communication and trust, employees have no sense of security in their roles. They're not even sure what their leader is thinking, what he or she really wants, or even how to deliver it. Lacking stability, it's nearly impossible for followers to bring their A game when it comes to creativity. This is where the relationship fails and goals are not met. Trust. It's so simple yet lacking in so many relationships in a business setting.


Shortcuts to Effective Leadership

You don't need an MBA or hours of executive training courses under your belt to be a good leader. All it takes is some common sense and emotional intelligence. It's so obvious that most leaders miss it. Check out these shortcuts to effective leadership:

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How to Be Your Most Productive You

 

At the end of the work week, you may look back exhausted at the 60 hours or more that you put in at the office and be dismayed at all the work you actually didn't get done. But you were there every day, from sun up to sun down. You had meetings, company lunches, hours of work at your desk each day. Why couldn't you get it all done? Are you feeling less than satisfied with what you've been accomplishing? It's likely not your lack of drive that's to blame. It's more likely that you're unproductive, failing to make the best use of your time. One of the keys to success is using your time wisely, rather than spinning your wheels and exhausting yourself. So, how can you be more productive in your work and life?

Set Clear Goals

Take some time to plan out your goals, or clarify and adjust the ones you already have. Seeing them on paper can push those goals into reality rather than something that's just floating around your head. Set both personal and business goals for the long and short term. Identify the goal, be specific, and set a time frame. This will help keep you accountable. To avoid procrastination, set clear and concise time frames for an added challenge, suggests Forbes. Don't forget to add in any setbacks you may predict that could roll back your goal. 

Stop the Excuses and Distractions

Setbacks and distractions have the power to weaken your goals and defeat you. Come up with a strategy that allows you to push through those challenges, past the pain, and into the pleasure of accomplishment. Adopt a laser focus to that one task, every day, reaching your goal closer and closer. Set priorities within the task. What has to be done first? What can wait a bit? Think about what you are currently doing: does it serve your goal or pull you away from it?

Embrace Your Strengths

Only YOU know YOU! If you do your best work first thing in the morning, follow that urge. If you do better late at night, burn the midnight oil and take advantage of your creative juices. Perhaps you do your best work after your fitness routine. Do you work best from home or does the chaos of a busy office fuel you? Whatever it is, identify the environments in which you thrive and get to work. Don't fight them. Working against your instincts will burn your energy and productivity.

Set Aside Time

Each day, set aside time for extreme focus for at least 90 minutes. Put away the phone, don't touch your email, tell your co-workers not to disturb. Use this block of time to work solely on your goal. Once finished, that sense of accomplishment will drive you forward another day.

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How To Build An Effective Team For Success

 

Building a team is much like building a home: brick by brick, step by step. The first building block is exceptional leadership. From there, everything else will fall into place with the end result being a pretty even blend of both an art and a science. A leader who can consistently build high-performance teams is key to the success of the whole operation. Large and small, companies need someone with the knowledge of building long-lasting teams -- something many managers can't do and the reason why many leaders don't reach the highest forms of success. Forbes puts it this way: it requires the ability to master the art of people, knowing just how to maneuver hundreds of people at the right place at the right time. 

Akin to a game of chess, building an effective team takes strategy and a little bit of luck, with strength at the forefront even amidst the knowledge that the wrong move could cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars. Nothing like pressure, right? Well, leaders operate their best under pressure. Building a team is just another day at the park for top executive leaders. So, how can you get there? Let's take a closer look.


Focus on Roles

A thorough selection process brings long-term benefits, even if this means you spend more time recruiting than you have time for. Hiring someone just to have bodies in the room can imperil your team, points out Entrepreneur. You don't want to run the risk of becoming a revolving door, whether that's because prospective employees view the role as a temporary landing pad and don't really want to put in the investment of learning, or because you realize later that they won't make a good fit. Either way, time is money. Invest resources in people whose roles truly match with objectives set forth by your company. Often, this isn't something that sticks out on their resume. No candidate will say "I'm only aiming for this job as a stepping stone to something better." Often, this takes gut instincts on your part -- another quality of a great leader.


Play to Strengths

Understanding what each individual member's strengths are allows each person to shine. It's rare for an employee to vastly improve on a deficiency, especially if that deficiency is just a part of their character. A team member who isn't good at managing details will probably never be good at that task. But if you play to their strengths -- perhaps they're great at communication with clients -- and pair them with a detail-oriented team member, you'll shore up both parties.


Encourage Transparency

Just like families, teams need to know how to work things out on their own. You can't be called in to referee every little disagreement. When things start going off the rails, bring together those who aren't getting along and make them work through their concerns, suggests Inc. Letting them put you in the middle of a he said/she said situation wastes your resources that could be better spent elsewhere (like making money for your company). Your job as a leader is to help your team members understand each other better. Sure, it will be uncomfortable at first. Such transparency is always raw at the beginning. But instilling this strategy right off will encourage them to try resolving internal issues on their own, only bringing you into the equation when absolutely necessary.

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Building Your Entrepreneurship Digitally

 

Jean-Baptiste Say provided a definition for the concept of an entrepreneurs, which stated that they, “shift economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield.”  Entrepreneurship is the process of running and designing a new business venture with all of the financial risks. In today’s digital economy there is about 46% of businesses who are still waiting to make their first digital footprints. It is hard to imagine being a business that has no online presence, so it is still important to map out what exactly these digital entrepreneurs are doing to be successful. 

According to Entrepreneur.com, they surveyed over 350 small businesses, which had 10 employees and less than 1 million in revenue and found that 32% of businesses decided to not have a website is because they claimed it was not pertinent to their industry. The second most popular reason, at 30%, is that the companies did not have the financial ability to take their business online and they didn’t have the technical know-how to maintain the upkeep of the website.  Furthermore, and 12% of companies were using social media as an alternative to building their own website to get themselves out digitally. 

Who is a Digital Entrepreneur?

The word “entrepreneur” first appeared in the French language in the 17th century and was first was used to denote the meaning of an adventurer (Bhanudas, 2013). Not every entrepreneur is considered a “digital entrepreneur” and that’s because they don’t utilize the digital environment in their business plan or strategy. Digital entrepreneurs focus their work solely in the online space and work on digital commerce, which is the main focus of their businesses. 

Examples of individuals who are using the internet as a place of business are people who are selling digital products like eBooks, online education, membership sites, downloadable software, web hosting, software as a service, and of course selling eCommerce products. People in the industry are the purest form of entrepreneurs in today’s economy because the internet environment is still currently in an infancy stage.

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Why We Need Mental Toughness

 

Do you feel constantly behind the eight ball? Are you chasing the elusive definition of SUCCESS every single day but it's always just out of your grasp? Your mental strength may need some fine tuning. There are many reasons why certain people are more successful in business and other aspects of life than others, and mental toughness is one of those deciding factors that puts them over the top. Everyone has mental strength to varying degrees. It's what you do with what you have, and how you create and develop what you don't have, that can separate you from the pack.

Mental toughness is defined as the ability to work hard, be persistent, and respond with resiliency when faced with failure or adversity. It's an inner quality -- not easy to quantify -- that enables a person to stick to their long-term goals no matter what. Grit...determination...unwavering focus on the end goal. These are all words to describe people with mental agility and strength. That's great. But how do you get it and why do you need it?

Tips for Becoming Mentally Stronger

Working your mental muscle doesn't just fall in your lap. You have to work at it, not just periodically but every single day. Inc describes remarkably successful people as being great at delaying gratification, withstanding temptation, overcoming fear, and prioritizing consistently. Here are some habits of professionals who master mental toughness. Try these tips in your own life.

Always Act in Control

Notice how we didn't say "always BE in control." There's a big difference between being a leader and being a dictator. You can't possibly be right or have total control over things 100 percent of the time. We're talking more here about the illusion of control through confidence in your daily life. Many people assume luck has a lot to do with success; however, successful people will tell you luck may play a small role but they didn't wait for luck to carry them through. They act like success -- and by extension, failure -- is well within their control. Remember that old Dry Idea antiperspirant commercial that said "never let them see you sweat"? Well, the same principle applies here: never let them see you out of control.

Don't Waste Mental Power on Things You Can't Control

Mentally tough people rarely waste brain power on things in which they have no ability to impact. Mental strength, like muscle strength, doesn't come with an unlimited supply. It must be used wisely. Misdirected worry saps you of the energy to focus your mind on more important areas of your life, funneling the important stuff off to the side. Instead, do the greatest good in areas that you can.

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Creating Highly Successful Habits

 

We look at them with envy. We want what they have: that charisma, that business success, that certain something that makes them stand out from a crowd. They are highly successful people, and they are envied. What do they have that you don't? Turns out, they have dedication and an unflagging sense of persistence. That's not all. They have a laser beam focus on the end game and the best path to get there. They don't let distractions get in the way, they broaden their minds every single day, they put their health first and they have a PLAN. Not just for tomorrow but for a decade, two, three from now.

Creating highly successful habits in your own personal and professional life doesn't take an MBA. It doesn't even take a lot of cash. Here are some habits of successful people and how they view life just a little bit differently from the rest of us.

Talk to Yourself

Even at the top of your game, even when you're bringing in the numbers that make everyone else jealous, there's another level that goes beyond honing skills to be even technically better. It involves perfecting your internal dialogue. Research suggests that talking to yourself like you would to someone else in your same situation can help you better handle stressful experiences, says Business Insider.

Make a Plan

Many people wait till the morning when they get behind their desk to make a plan for the upcoming eight hours. Successful people are one step ahead -- they do it the night before. Getting off track is easy when you don't have a plan. It's even easier when you wait till the last minute to make that plan. Without looking ahead as early as the night before, you won't really know what you want to accomplish and how to get there. By the time you make a plan in the morning, already an hour has gone by and you've wasted critical energy that could be better spent on productivity. Give yourself clear goals the night before your day and you'll be able to wake up and hit the ground running, advises Success.

Eliminate the Negatives

The secret to planning, then, is to begin with the negatives and systematically eliminate them from your path to success, advises Early to Rise. First, identify the obstacles in your path. It can be something as simple as hitting snooze five times in the morning or as complex as not hitting your sales goals for the quarter. Isolate the obstacle, then develop two solutions for each, as having both a Plan A and a Plan B virtually guarantees you will stay focused.

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What Young Adults Want in Their Careers

 

There is no doubt that the generation that comprises the group of people known as millennials is unlike any generation encountered in the past. Including people born from the early 1980s through the mid 1990s, millennials are unique in numerous aspects, ranging from the technology available during childhood and today, the relationship with parents, economic and educational prospects, and overall culture. Generation Z, which is also known as the post-millennial generation or the iGeneration is equally as unique, and as these young people transition into adulthood, there are numerous questions about what the future will look like.

But while millennial and generation Z culture may be something that those of other generations are neither able to relate to nor understand, when it comes to the workforce, what young adults want from their careers may more closely resemble the desires of other generations than one would think.

What Young Adults Want in Their Careers - The Similarities and Differences

There are a number of things that young adults today want in their careers that are very different from what young adults from generations past wanted. These differences are based, in large part, due to technology and opportunity. For example, working remotely was hardly an option for generations past, but with the proliferation of wi-fi, there are many jobs that can be performed from anywhere in the world.

When polled, young people are also much more likely than older Americans to say that a top priority in finding a new job is that the job is enjoyable and provides the individual with a feeling of “making a difference.” Older Americans, on the other hand, are likely to prioritize salary.

But there are also a lot of similarities between what younger and older generations want in a career, too. Some of these similarities include:

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Winning Brands Have Winning Cultures

 

A few weeks ago, we talked about building a winning culture and how fostering workplace culture that is considered "winning" goes much further than your bottom line. In fact, you must develop and nurture an environment that is conducive to forward-thinking, a successful mindset and a deep-rooted belief that you're all in this together. Today, we segment off that topic just a bit and talk about winning brands and what kinds of workplace cultures they are known for.

The strength of any initiative is driven by the core of the team behind it. Good isn't enough. Great is. In order to deliver great, you need to surround yourself with people who can drive the efforts to those goals fueled by the right attitude and determination. Once you have this in place, it's up to you or your designated "brand champion" to focus the team’s potential and deliver results. The brand champion is responsible for setting the tone of the company, inspiring a culture of positivity and unity so the team can better align itself with the big picture. That unity is the glue that holds the company together, ensuring its goals and objectives are met.

In order to have a winning brand, you have to:

  • Establish unified company goals.
  • Create a long-term plan that works with those objectives to reach goals.
  • Offer team incentives to meet goals.
  • Celebrate the wins and use losses as teachable moments.
  • Be a leader and guide the path to success.
  • Keep a positive attitude and have fun.

While all those bullet points are important, the last one may be the most. When you look at winning brands in this country, like Amazon, Google and Apple, you'll see the culture revolves around creating a low-stress atmosphere built on mutual respect that embraces out-of-the-box thinking. When you think of a winning brand, you don't picture people in cubes tied to their desks in suits (although that works for some companies!). Rather, you picture casual work environments where creativity is welcomed and the lines of management are blurred.

A lot of this culture-driven change stems from the generation leading the charge.

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Keeping Your Goals in Focus

 

Eyes on the prize: this is the mantra of many leaders in business. This laser focus commitment to goals is certainly noble, certainly something to aspire to. But in reality, it can be quite difficult to keep those goals front of mind, especially when you're trying to lead a company fraught with distractions at every turn. You're likely confronted with many choices every single day: bottom line vs. company direction, sales vs. strategy. Sometimes the two can coexist. Sometimes they can't. So how can you keep your goals for success in focus as the leader of your organization?

Persistence

Self-doubt. Negative thoughts that stifle creativity. Lack of change despite efforts. All of these things can creep in and threaten your ability to remain focused on the end goal. But even when your goals seem out of reach, the key is to stay motivated. Try these strategies:

  • Surround yourself with positive people. Feeding your soul with positivity surrounded by those who only have your best interests at heart can bolster your resolve and lift you up. Brainstorm. Ask for opinions. As a result, you may find a solution you never realized was right in front of you. Isolation can be the biggest road block to goals of success.
  • Keep the big picture in your crosshairs. When your attention sways to the daily minutiae of company operations, your focus on the end game can shift all too easily. Sometimes just having a big sticky note or picture of your goal in front of your face all day, every day, can serve as the reminder you need to stay on track, says Entrepreneur. We all need to be re-energized every now and then.
  • Reach out for help. If you're stuck in a rut, don't be too proud as to fail to ask for help. Go to your boss, a manager or a mentor. It doesn't always have to be someone above you. Just the act of reaching out can bring a new light to your dilemma and open the door you need to step forward.

Perseverance

If you, like everyone else on the planet, has ever developed a goal and then failed, you probably know the crushing defeat you feel. Sometimes you even forget what your goals are. You may even get frustrated, feeling that your plans failed you. However, it's actually the other way around. Every goal set is achievable; it's usually the person setting the goal that gives up on it mid-way. The goal setting is the easy part. Even the implementation is easy. It's the follow-through that gets most people by the throat.

Distraction isn't taboo. It's normal. Embrace it, know it will happen, then do all you can to avoid it. Try these strategies to persevering even in the face of the apathy that can creep in so slowly you don't even know it's there until it's sapped you of your will to reach your goals.

  • Narrow down your goals: If you find yourself losing focus too easily, it could be that you're over-burdening yourself. Instead of setting a checklist of lofty goals, stick with between one and three. Don't even think of other goals until you can check those off. Reaching your full vision on two goals is much more effective than making partial progress on five goals that never see a resolution.
  • Compile a vision board: This is essentially a collection of pictures and images that represent your goals and dreams. Designed to help you more clearly visualize your end goals, a vision board can inspire you to take consistent action, points out Business Insider. It can also remind you of your goals every day when you glance at the board, so put it in a prominent place in order to reinforce your goals daily.
  • Break down your goals into manageable chunks: One overwhelming goal can actually distance you from the vision. Instead of setting one large goal, break it up into several small ones that you can check off after you've achieved them. This will reduce the chances of discouragement and procrastination. Taking a breather in between can bolster your confidence and inspire you to go on.
  • Track results: How can you know if you're getting closer to your goal if you don't track results? Identify one to two performance metrics and review them daily or weekly, whatever works for you. View them as a connection to your end goal -- a weathervane of guidance, if you will. Use these metrics to stay on track or adjust your plan as needed.

The crux of any goal is to create a set of action plans, followed by immediate action to keep positive momentum moving forward. Success can only come about by persistence, perseverance, and consistent follow-through.

 
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