What Makes Someone an Administrative Consultant?

What Makes Someone an Administrative Consultant?

  1. An Administrative Consultant is someone who is SPECIFICALLY in the business of administrative support.
  2. Administrative support is not one-off projects or tasks on an ad hoc basis. That is a secretarial service—completely different business model and type of service. Administrative support is an ongoing relationship where you are administratively supporting clients with the operations of their business across the board. So, it’s important to understand the difference between a projects/task-based business and an ongoing support one. If your business model is project-based, you are not an Administrative Consultant.
  3. If you specialize in transcription, then you are in the Transcription business and not an Administrative Consultant (or VA or OBM or anything else).
  4. If you specialize in social media, then you are in the Social Media business and not an Administrative Consultant (or VA or OBM or anything else).
  5. If you specialize in marketing (of any kind), then you are in the Marketing business and not an Administrative Consultant (or VA or OBM or anything else).
  6. If you specialize in web design, then you are in the Web Design business and not an Administrative Consultant (or VA or OBM or anything else).
  7. If you specialize in bookkeeping, then you are in the Bookkeeping business and not an Administrative Consultant (or VA or OBM or anything else).
  8. Are you getting it now? What you specialize in IS your business.
  9. If you are in the business of getting the work and farming it out to third party contractors, then you are in the staffing/outsourcing business and not an Administrative Consultant. Administrative Consultants work directly with their clients in close one-on-one relationships. That’s what makes it personal and where the magic happens—between two people.
  10. Administrative Consultants don’t have “teams” of subcontractors they farm their clients’ work out to. That is the antithesis of administrative support as it transactionalizes the work, turning it into a generic commodity and assembly line instead of an intimate relationship (which, by the way, is your value and competitive advantage as an Administrative Consultant). What Administrative Consultants do instead is collaboratively partner with another Administrative Consultant (or two) who administratively supports them in their business in the same way they support their clients.
  11. Administrative Consultants are not personal assistants who perform personal tasks/errands. That is a personal assistant/concierge service. An Administrative Consultant’s work is focused on the client’s business support needs.
  12. An Administrative Consultant is not an assistant who does anything and everything. That is a virtual assistant. An Administrative Consultant is a business owner and independent professional who specializes in the expertise of administrative support.
  13. If you specialize in the expertise of administrative support (i.e., it’s the chief thing you are in business to do), and work personally with your clients in an ongoing, collaborative partnering relationship to support the operations of their businesses, you are an Administrative Consultant.

Dear Danielle: Do I Need to Provide a Confidentiality Agreement to Clients?

Dear Danielle: Do I Need to Provide a Confidentiality Agreement to Clients?

Hi Danielle,

Thanks for doing all the hard work for us! Well worth the purchase (this colleague recently purchased products from the ACA Success Store). Here’s my question: While I see a confidentiality form that protects my company’s information, am I missing the form that assures my client that any information I am given about their business that’s necessary for my services will remain confidential? I have a proposal due tomorrow to a client and can’t find that form. —AG

Great to hear!

I don’t offer a form like that and here’s why: it’s not your role to provide a client’s confidentiality agreement for them.

That’s THEIR job in THEIR business to have their OWN attorney draft up a confidentiality agreement and provide that if/when/in what situation they deem necessary.

You are over-providing something that isn’t your role or responsibility to provide.

In doing so, you could be unwittingly creating an additional/higher burden of liabilities for your business beyond what is your role to assume as a provider.

This is why you don’t follow what the uninformed masses tell you to do.

Here are some blog posts that shed more light on the topic that will help you better understand:

Confidentiality Agreements Are Not Your Responsibility

Dear Danielle: Should I Sign a Client’s Confidentiality Agreement?

Dear Danielle: Why Would I Need a Confidentiality Agreement?

Dear Danielle: Client Wants Me to Provide a Non-Compete Agreement

Let me know if you have any questions. :)

Do You Understand the Difference Between a Project-Based vs. Ongoing Admin Support Business?

Do You Understand the Difference Between a Project-Based vs. Ongoing Admin Support Business?

When I started out (and didn’t really understand the concept of providing administrative support as a business), I was what is correctly termed a secretarial service doing one-off projects here and there where I could find them.

Someone would hire me to do their resume, make a flyer or brochure, type some documents, that kind of thing.

It’s equivalent to the business model of a print shop for example.

A customer might be someone who only ever uses you once or it could be someone who is a repeat customer, but still on only an as-needed basis—occasional and sporadic.

The problem as I discovered was it was a paltry income, nothing I could actually live on. It was pocket money at best, and I still needed to work a full time job to pay the bills.

Okay, I thought, how do I make a living at that?

There is no recurring or consistent income when a business is project-based. You never know where your next meal or client will come from or when.

In order to make a living in a project-based business, it inherently requires that it be volume-driven, which comes with its own set of problems.

In a project-based, volume-driven business, you have to CONSTANTLY be marketing and networking and ever on the hunt for your next project, that next not one but five clients, all while you still have work in front of you to do.

It was EXHAUSTING.

It was a huge amount of work just getting those projects and clients I did have coming in here and there. It was this never-ending hamster wheel that left me little time to breathe.

And to have to multiply all those efforts 20-fold? No way. That was NOT the kind of business I wanted.

You also can never make up for in volume what you really need to make a living, not as a solo/boutique business.

The answer would seem to be add more people doing the work.

But that wasn’t a solution that worked for me either because:

  1. I never set out to be nor do I ever want to be in the people management business, which is exactly what I’d have to do if I added more people;
  2. I would make even less money because my profit margins would be reduced with all the additional expenses and my business would be much more complicated and less easy with all the added administration; and
  3. it would turn the work into an assembly line which is NOT what I want in my business or my life. I believe in artistry and craftsmanship in work product and that’s the quality I want to give to my clients. Churning work day in and day out as fast as possible (which is what you are forced to do in a volume-driven business) is NOT how I want to do things.

It’s not that a volume-driven project business can’t work. But it’s a much bigger and more difficult business to build and sustain. And it’s simply a different business model altogether, one I had not the slightest interest in.

That’s when I started realizing that the way to make better money and more consistent income was to provide support as an ongoing RELATIONSHIP, not a one-off, piecemeal transaction.

Once I got conscious about that, I started building a retainer-based practice where clients paid me in advance on the 1st of every month for ongoing administrative support in their business, not a project here or there. I took on specific areas and roles that were ongoing in their business.

It was a lot more money—money I could actually LIVE on.

It was consistent, recurring CASHFLOW.

AND it didn’t require the constant merry-go-round of chasing after new clients and new work every minute of every hour of every day.

I could live and work in a much more relaxed, sustainable, breathable pace, growing my roster slowly one client at a time.

But I still had a lot of things to learn in my early years. I was still operating with the poor professional self-esteem that many in our industry suffer from: that I wasn’t enough, that admin support wasn’t enough.

Part of the problem was I still didn’t really have a target market.

And without that, I couldn’t really envision, much less paint a picture for prospects, about what admin support could look like in the context of their business and how it could help them in anything except the vaguest, most general (and uncompelling) terms.

So I thought I needed to offer a lot more. I thought I had to DO everything, BE everything, and be ANYTHING a client tried to twist me into at their whim in order to be of value.

First, I added web design.

And then I thought bookkeeping would be a good service to also offer because who doesn’t need bookkeeping?

What I failed to realize is that these are separate businesses in and of themselves.

It’s a full time job to just to provide bookkeeping to a roster of clients.

And design work requires a whole other part of the brain. It requires a switching of gears and lots of creative space that are simply too crowded when you are trying to do too many other things.

Eventually, as I got busier and busier (without really ever getting too far in anything much less making any better money), I realized that I needed to focus on ONE thing, be in ONE business, not multiple businesses.

Trying to be too many different kinds of businesses not only was keeping me from earning well, I wasn’t able to fully commit to any of them and was constantly distracted and pulled in different directions due to too many multiple focuses.

That’s not a recipe for doing your best work for clients.

I also realized that by focusing on ONE business (I got out of the bookkeeping business and then later discontinued doing any kind of design work completely), I did far better, more high quality work for clients, built my business faster, and ended up with far more discretionary time (i.e., freedom and flexibility) as a byproduct.

All of which ultimately benefited my clients in a multitude of ways.

I also realized (and look back now at how foolish I was back then) that if I had just gotten clear about being in ONE business earlier, I would have built my business and made more money so much faster.

Because once I did, I also soon realized that by focusing on the ONE business (admin support), I didn’t have the time or need to do anything else.

So now I’m VERY clear about what I’m in business to do and what I’m not.

If a client needs something I’m not in business to do (e.g., you wouldn’t ask a plumber to fix your car), I point out that they need to talk to the professionals who are in those other professions. If I happen to know someone good, I will refer them.

But I don’t bend over backwards making it my job to find them someone any more than it would be my doctor’s job to find me a lawyer. The only people who think that’s their job are those who are operating their business like an employee (or being trained to).

Dear Danielle: Is It Difficult to Rank or Be Found in Search Engines Using the Term Administrative Consultant?

Dear Danielle: Is It Difficult to Rank or Be Found in Search Engines Using the Term Administrative Consultant?

Dear Danielle:

I am only two months in to this business, but I wanted to know how to handle SEO, keywords and marketing using the term Administrative Consultant. Is it difficult to rank or be found in searches? —DW

This is a question that is frequently asked. For example, here’s one I got from someone back in 2011 who was wholly misinformed how SEO works:

This is terrific advice (as always!), but here’s one problem: for the purposes of search engine optimization, the term “virtual assistant” is invaluable to attract people to your site. People don’t know to look for an admin consultant, so SEO advice says the VA terminology needs to appear repeatedly in out web copy. I’ve gone through my site (which already had an unfortunate domain name chosen before I found YOU and all your amazing insights) and I’ve taken out every instance of the word “assistant.” Now I feel better, but also utterly unsearchable. What’s a girl to do??

She could not be more wrong. Keyword stuffing has been poor website/SEO practice and obsolete for I don’t know how many years now, well before 2011.

Here’s how to understand this:

Your title isn’t for marketing (or SEO) purposes.

It’s for setting proper expectations, understandings, mindset and perceptions in prospective clients, which is a whole other topic that has nothing to do with SEO.

No one even needs to know your term/title to find you. (Remember, there was always a first someone in every new industry; how do you think they survived and succeeded?)

Because how they find you isn’t due to what you are called, it’s what problem, pain or challenge you can solve for them. Your title has nothing to do that that.

Marketing is about having a target market (which is simply an industry/field/profession that you cater your administrative support to) and then networking and interacting with the folks in your target market to create your own pipelines for those people to get to know and come find you.

People who randomly find you on the Internet are few and far between and rarely are they qualified, ideal candidates.

SEO is the least relevant, and poorest quality way people will find you (at least in terms of how the misinformed person above was advising).

SEO is also a highly specialized, sophisticated area of expertise. It most certainly cannot be reduced to merely “just add your keyword all over your website and you will be found.”

Most laypeople these days do not know how SEO works, and especially not now in the age of the Google Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird algorithm updates.

SEO simply does not not work anymore the way most people think it does. They’re stuck in outdated understandings from 5, 10 years ago.

If getting clients was as simple as slapping an industry term all over your web pages, everyone would be rich and overflowing with clients. (This is the erroneous logic of those who think the only way clients will find them is if they call themselves a virtual assistant.)

But that’s just not how SEO (or marketing, for that matter) works, and you’re not going to get found that way.

Plus, results are personalized these days. When you see these people crowing about how they’re on the first page of search results, what they fail to realize is that’s only because the search engines are smart enough to know they’re interested in their own website.

They might be on the first page of their own search results, but page 10, 20 or 200 for anyone else.

And, if your site is new, your site is going to rank even worse. No over-saturated industry term is going to change that; in fact, your results will be worse with an overused search term.

Forget SEO right now. It’s the least important thing for you to be focusing on.

Paradoxically, the less you worry about keywords, and the more you focus on simply writing like a real person specifically and conversationally to your target market and providing in-depth educational information for them, the better your site will fare organically in the search engines.

This is because search engines these days value high quality content written by people for people and the fact that those characteristics foster more and higher quality inbound links and referrals. They are that smart.

If you are going to worry about keywords and phrases at all, it’s your TARGET MARKET’S industry search terms and phrases you need to be focused on using, not ours.

Here again is where having a target market makes everything in business so much easier.

When you have a target market, you stop wasting time and energy trying to be found by anyone and everyone and focus instead on that just that specific group and where those folks are hanging out in large groups, online and off.

You should be networking amongst them, and if you are, then you should also be directing everyone you meet (through your signature line, through your calls to action, through your free offers, etc.) to your website.

When it comes to SEO for your website, stop focusing so much on our industry terms and focus instead of the industry terms and search phrases of your target market. What topics are they frequently conversing with each other about? What problems and pains are they trying to solve? How can you include or adapt your content on your website to address these subjects?

For example, someone in your target market isn’t going to set up Google Alerts for our industry, but they certainly are for their industry and the related kinds of things they do and are interested in.

Those are the kind of keywords and phrases you want to use in your search engine marketing and optimization.

But SEO is never the lead driver of traffic to your website.

It’s your networking and relationship marketing efforts that create the real and better qualified pipelines. You’ll get far better results placing your focus there.

You Don’t Get Better Clients by Whining About YOUR Problems and YOUR Needs

You Don’t Get Better Clients by Whining About YOUR Problems and YOUR Needs

It’s all well and good to say we need to stand up as an industry to better educate clients, but guess what?

The marketplace doesn’t care about YOUR poor earning, YOUR burnout, how YOU have to scrape barely making a living.

To get better clients and command fees commensurate with the value you feel you provide, you have to show how this benefits THEM and talk about things in terms of THEIR interests, not yours.

You also can’t better educate clients and the marketplace by continuing to market like an employee trying to land a position, calling yourself an assistant and talking about how much cheaper than an employee you are, how much money they will save, and trying to bribe people into working with you with discounts and free work.

When that is the foundation of your marketing message, the very first thing you focus people on, you are continuing the same conversation that causes—and attracts—the very mindset you are trying to avoid.

It is entirely possible to fix all this AND have your needs and standards met.

How, you ask?

By having a conversation in your marketing message with your IDEAL client.

Your ideal client is not the cheapskate who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing (and wants everything for practically nothing).

Your ideal client isn’t looking for a cheap band-aid.

Your ideal client thinks long-term, big picture.

Your ideal client wants a partner and expert, not a flunky.

Your ideal client is seeking QUALITY and HIGH STANDARDS and views these as worthwhile investments that will return far more than is paid in mere dollars.

Point out and illustrate to your ideal client all the ways in which their business and life is improved, everything they GAIN,  by working with you (not what they save, not what they can cheap out on, not what you prostrate and discount yourself to do).

Dear Danielle: Client Thinks He Shouldn’t Be Billed for Time on the Phone

Dear Danielle: Client Thinks He Shouldn’t Be Billed for Time on the Phone

Dear Danielle:

Do you bill your clients for time that you speak with them on the phone? I have a client who wants to have phone meetings twice a week. A phone meeting with him can run from 15 minutes to an hour. Yet, he feels that I should not bill for that time. Instead, I should only bill for the time that I am “actually doing work.” (His words…not mine.) —Anonymous by request

Warning, this may be a little ranty, lol

And just to be clear, it’s no way directed toward the person asking the question. I give them all the props in the world for having the courage to ask. That’s how we get help, by asking.

What gets my dander up is more about the ridiculous, ignorant information that continues to be spouted out by business morons that create this kind of thinking in clients and colleagues in the first place.

The idea that in this day and age people in our industry are still asking questions like this as if they need permission from anybody about what they’re allowed to do in their business tells me there’s still an insane amount of employee-mindset going on.

NEWSFLASH: Talking with clients IS part of the work.

When you talk with clients on the phone, that’s part of the service product you’re providing to them.

You are expending business resources (your time) and that time comes at a cost to your business.

You are being a brainstorming partner and sounding board. You’re also presumably offering your own input, ideas, opinions, feedback and expertise in those conversations, which are service products and value your client is benefiting from.

So, um, yeah, you should be charging for that. And it’s not up to ANY client to dictate what you do or don’t charge for or how you charge. If he doesn’t want to pay for it, then he shouldn’t be given it.

Now, all that said, this question points out a few things that are going on in this person’s business that need to be addressed.

  1. This client sounds like he thinks you’re some kind of employee. That means YOU haven’t done a proper job of educating him before ever working together about the fact that you are an independent professional—ahem, a BUSINESS—providing a service and expertise, no different than if he were to hire an attorney or an accountant or a coach, etc. You have GOT to set your prospects and clients STRAIGHT about this right from the get-go (which means you have to get this straight first yourself). You are not an employee. Period. End of story. That’s not how business works. There is no such thing as a 1099 employee. When clients are operating under no delusions about this, they approach the relationship with a more appropriate professional demeanor and respect, and they expect to pay for services they are provided.
  2. You haven’t defined your policies and procedures and your boundaries and parameters thoroughly. This is really business planning 101, which makes me wonder if you’ve done any of that. If you haven’t, go back now and do that. It’s important if you want happy clients and a happy, profitable and long-lived business! How you bill; what you bill for; what is included in the service and what is not; how many phone calls a client is allowed each week; what time limit they get per call; whether or not phone calls are by appointment only and need to be scheduled or not; how regular communication is to be conducted (e.g., email only)… these are just some of the things you need to clarify in your business. And then put all that information in a Client Guide to be given to every new client at the start of the relationship. (By the way: Set-01 The Administrative Consultant Business Set-Up Success Kit in the ACA Success Store includes a New Client Welcome Kit guide and Client Guide template to help you get this sorted in your business.)
  3. The fact that this client is complaining about being charged for phone calls now tells me you did not properly inform him upfront, before working together, how things work in your business. Of course, when you haven’t set your policies and procedures in the first place, how can you inform them upfront, right? Which is why you have to get clear about them first (see #2). You want to eliminate any misunderstandings and surprises as much as possible because those all too frequently become relationship killers.

And while it’s not any client’s business to tell you how to run yours, this does point to several of the reasons I don’t advocate selling hours as a billing methodology:

  1. It puts your interests at odds with each other. You only make more money the more hours you charge, and clients don’t like what they view as being nickeled and dimed.
  2. If you work fast, you are penalized financially while clients are getting the value and benefit of that speed without paying for it.
  3. Everything becomes a transaction which becomes the focus instead of the results, goals and objectives that together you wish to achieve.

Learning how to price, package your support, and talk about fees with clients is an area of business education in and of itself—part art, part science. There is a way to make sure you are paid for the time and value of the service you provide to clients without using time as the measurement and without clients feeling like they are being nickeled and dimed.

I teach a methodology called Value-Based Pricing that unties your earning ability from the hands of the ticking clock, and brings you and the client’s interests back into alignment so you can begin working more truly together with the same goals, intentions and motivations.

The fantastic byproduct of this methodology is that clients never again complain about being charged for this or that because it’s all part of the package.

You can learn more about all that and get my Value-Based Pricing and Packaging self-study guide here >>. (Be sure and watch the video!)

If you have any questions about any of this, please post in the comments and I’m happy to keep the conversation going there.

Hope this helps! (And if you have your own question on a different topic for me, please feel free to submit it here.)

How Do I Deal with a Client Who Constantly Misses Appointments?

How Do I Deal with a Client Who Constantly Misses Appointments?

A good question came up on one of the LinkedIn groups I belong to about a topic that is a frequent source of vexation for people in our industry:

“I have a client that is continuously scheduling my time and then when it’s time to “meet” she is otherwise engaged with family, etc. I understand “things come up,” however this is becoming a pattern. She is not very versed in the world of business and I’m not into giving my time away. This has happened three times now. I plan to begin billing for this time moving forward and want to put a policy in place. Thank you in advance for any guidance or words of wisdom you can share with me!!”

This falls under the category of “we teach our clients how to treat us.”

If a client normally respects your time and keeps their appointments with you, it’s easy to be understanding when life gets in the way and they are unable to give you sufficient notice when they need to cancel or reschedule a meeting with you.

However, once you recognize a pattern, and it’s causing you wasted time, irritation and resentment, that’s when you need to nip things in the bud.

Here are a few ways to help prevent this problem in the first place, as well as what to do when it does occur:

  1. Work with ideal clients. It’s fine to add a policy for the sake of clear understanding and communication (and you would not legally be able to impose fees if that language isn’t in your contract), but there’s something else to consider here: why would you want to work with the kind of clients who would only respect your time under threat of penalty? And what if the added charges don’t deter or change the behavior? You’d still have a PIA (pain-in-the-ass) client causing problems and negative energy in your practice. Examine whether that client is really worth continuing to work with.
  2. Run your business like a business. That means having a professional web presence, proper email and signature lines, formal business policies, documents and procedures, etc. The more you present yourself as a business, the more clients will respect it (and you) as such.
  3. Always have clients sign a contract. A contract isn’t just for legal purposes. It’s also to help clients take you and your business seriously, to view your business as a business. People who see you as a professional are more likely to respect your time.
  4. Include a section in both your contract and your New Client Guide that talks about the importance to the relationship of respecting each other’s time, what your expectations are of them (and that you will extend the same to them) and what the policies are around canceling and missed appointments. For example, how much notice do you ask clients provide if they need to cancel an appointment (this is common courtesy and respect)? Do you charge for missed appointments, and if so, how much? How long will you wait for a late-arriving client before you will no longer meet with them for that day? By informing them upfront what your policy is on this, you are indicating the value and respect you place on your time (as well as that of your other clients and priorities). Personally, I wait no more than 10 or 15 minutes; after that, they will need to reschedule their appointment for the following week. So, this is the other thing that contracts are for: formalizing what your expectations are for each other and the relationship and informing clients how things work in your business.
  5. Don’t be so quick to always instantly respond to clients. I know this sounds counter-intuitive because you want clients to feel you are responsive, but there is such a thing as being a too-eager beaver. When that’s the impression clients have, they think you have nothing better to do than sit there waiting for them to tell you to “jump.” You undermine your own authority in that way. Establish a communication standard in your business of 24-48 hours turn-around time in your replies, whether you have other clients or not. This helps set proper business expectations and clients will respect your time more appropriately.
  6. Don’t let clients slide. As soon as you realize you’ve clearly got a client who has no regard for you or your time, you’ve got to have a conversation about what is going on. Be prepared to fire any client who continues to abuse your time after this conversation. Because by letting them continue to do so, you are teaching them that your word, your time and your value mean nothing and they are free to do as they please and you’re just going to keep taking it. If you don’t respect your boundaries, clients won’t either.
  7. Re-examine your business, your standards, and who you are choosing as clients. If you have clients who continuously abuse your time there are two things going on: a) you are not working with ideal clients (and starting an Ideal Client Profile list is going to help you tremendously), and b) there are areas in your business, how you are presenting it and how you are working with clients that is contributing to this problem. This presents you with a good opportunity to improve your business, who you accept onto your client roster, how you might better communicate your needs and expectations of clients, and how to identify and get better, more ideal clients. Because if you are working with clients too informally, too loosey-goosey, and not being selective about who gets a place on your roster, those are definitely underlying root causes.

I’m Back from my Sundance Festival Road Trip!

I'm Back from My Sundance Festival Road Trip!

I’m back from my Sundance Festival road trip and it was amazing!

I had so much fun and packed so much stuff into a short time frame (left on January 26 and got back Feb 2).

I posted pix of my explorations on our ACA Facebook group. Come join us there if you’d like to take a look. (Note: If you request to join and your profile doesn’t provide any info about your administrative support business, be sure you also message me either on Facebook or by email.)

I just LOVE road trips. Travelling by car is my favorite way to travel because you can go at your own pace, stop when you feel like checking something out, and see cities and countryside up close and personal that you haven’t before.

It’s a much more intimate way to travel and see and explore places that would be bypassed in any other mode of travel.

Some of my road trip highlights:

  • Um, attending the SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL!
  • Meeting and talking with all kinds of interesting industry people from actors to a film composer to filmmakers and others who work behind the camera.
  • Having Robert Redford walk past me so close we actually touched. And yes, he is handsome as ever.
  • Also, walking past George Lucas as he was exiting one of the many celebrity Suburbans that began showing up later in the day on Main St.
  • Shopping for souvenirs and gifts.
  • Having an amazing pedicure in Park City.
  • Getting restaurant recommendations from locals and eating at some amazing places including some fantastic greasy spoons. (For anyone not familiar with the term, a greasy spoon is a high honor. It’s the kind of establishment that is usually locally/independently owned where typically fresh/home-cooked type food is served. These are often the BEST places on the planet for amazing down-home breakfast served any time of day.) I highly recommend No Worries Cafe in Park City.
  • Seeing the Great Salt Lake in person for the first time (I’ve only ever seen it by plane other than that).
  • Seeing country in Oregon, Washington and Idaho I’ve never been to before.
  • Oh, and lots of new souvenir travel magnets to commemorate my travels and explorations!

I'm Back from My Sundance Festival Road Trip

And it was scary crazy how everything worked out so perfectly. This was a totally spontaneous decision to go. I hadn’t actually registered for Sundance this year, didn’t know if I’d be able to even see any films (and if I didn’t, I was okay with that; it was enough just to go), and I thought there was no way in hell there would be any hotel rooms left, especially not without any advance reservation (and if there were, they’d cost a million dollars; most rooms start at $500 during festival week and go up into the thousands.).

I just left and trusted that everything would work out the way it was supposed to. And it did!

Everyone I talked to could not believe how lucky I was. When there were still hundreds of people on waiting lists for tickets, for some reason I scored seats. And the first hotel I called actually had a room available. For some inexplicable reason, they put me in a $500 room and only charged me $129/night (I stayed two nights). The only thing I can think is that I really hit it off with the gal I spoke to on the phone. She loved how I had just hopped in the car and took off.

This trip was also one of personal growth as well as it was the first time I’ve traveled such a distance (3 states!) all by myself.

Since I’d never done anything like this before alone, it was scary to me in a lot of ways.

And I aced it! Not one bit of anxiety being that far from home by myself and not one pang of homesickness (other than being ready for my own comfy cozy bed after a week).

I gained a huge sense of accomplishment and empowerment. It was a reminder to me that the world is my oyster and I can do anything I set my mind to do (and have).

And while I do love travelling with a partner, I also enjoy my own company and meeting and talking to new people immensely.

This trip was a precursor to a bigger plan I’ve had brewing for several years, which is to travel the U.S. (first) and some parts of Canada, meeting my members and colleagues, and seeing the country by car.

I’ve sort of kept it on the down-low because I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. I’m also not one of those people who benefits from putting plans out there as a way to make me accountable to myself. The minute I do that, I get blocked, so I just don’t. And life also simply got in the way.

First, we moved to Europe for a couple years. Then six months after we returned to the U.S. for good, I left my man of 12 years which was a huge, life-changing decision. Then I wasn’t sure how to even undertake something like this all by myself. And then my dad’s health took a turn for the worse and I had to put him first and help care for him.

Once we got dad’s health stabilized in January, I decided to make this trip to do something for me to recharge and renew.

I'm Back from My Sundance Festival Road Trip

I’ve long been a lover and devotee of independent film so it was perfect timing and the festival gave me a great destination focal point.

And besides being a business networking/writing retreat, I had also wanted to try to meet a few colleagues along the way. This trip was pretty much a spur-of-the-moment decision and since I announced it so last minute (like, the day I was leaving, lol), by the time I had heard from three Portland area colleagues, I was already near Idaho.

So, I did learn a lot of things in this first trip which are going to help me in my next member/colleague meeting travels:

  1. After a certain point, you have to stop planning and trying to identify every little detail and JUST DO IT! There’s no way you can figure everything out upfront and too much planning can easily become a procrastination vehicle.
  2. One of the things that was stopping me before was trying to figure out how I was going to accomplish a full cross-country trip. What I realize now is that the best way I’m going to accomplish it is doing it in different legs, not all in one shot. For example, I’m thinking my next trip will be down the Pacific coast and/or I5 corridor through Oregon and California and than maybe over to Nevada with a turn-around for the return leg of the trip in Sedona, NM. I haven’t completely figured out how I’ll work any midwest and east coast and southern legs, but I’m thinking for those trips, it might make sense to fly somewhere once I’ve mapped out that particular travel route, and then rent or lease a vehicle there. Anything west of the midwest states, I can use my own car.
  3. I love to travel and I can and have continued running my business and taking care of clients on the road (even in a different country). However, I do work best from my main command center (my home office, lol) and the luxury of my big main computer. I do not prefer working on a laptop. I can and have, but it’s not how I do my best work. In recognizing this, I can plan accordingly. And all the more reason why I will benefit from doing these trips in mini-stages instead of one long stretch. That way, I can come back to home base, regroup and then go on the next leg of the journey at a time that’s optimal for me.
  4. I need to figure out how to monetize the venture so that besides the expenses being a business write-off, it also funds itself instead of just being an expense. That includes putting more focus and attention on sales from the ACA Success Store. I’m thinking that in addition to just meeting up with my industry mentors and colleagues, I could offer some paid in-person, day or half-day consulting and coaching spots for those who want to take advantage of the opportunity while I’m in their city or town.
  5. There are people who are super smart about getting sponsors and things like that for trips like this. I would love to learn more about that, but currently I’m not one of them and I’m okay with that about myself right now. And the thing is, I don’t really want to make a huge production out of things. Because once that becomes the case, for me, it takes the joy out of it and then I don’t want to do it. I can’t let not having sponsors to make these trips pay for themselves be the thing that stops me from doing it.
  6. I need to find the balance between being spontaneous (which is what “does it” for me) and not having everything turned into a big production, and planning and making announcements with enough advance notice that people CAN have enough time to plan on meeting up when I’m in their city. What I know about myself, bad or good, is that I am commitment phobic, lol. Not about taking care of clients or anything like that. I don’t know where it comes from (though it does seem to be something I developed when my first/late husband passed away nearly 20 years ago). I just know that the minute I have to RVSP to something is the second I absolutely, positively don’t want to go. I know, it’s crazy. But that’s just me. Therefore, I know I wouldn’t do well making a big deal out of planning a meet-up, securing a specific venue or conference room, yada, yada, yada. Yuck! I hate that stuff! I like to keep things casual, informal, personal. What I envision is letting my peeps know (on the blog, via the ACA mailing list, etc.) that I am close to their city and inviting them to contact me to meet up. Then when I hear from someone, asking them where a great spot would be to get together, a fun restaurant or pub or something, and once we decide that, inviting others in the area to join us. Casual, see?

I don’t have it all figured out. I don’t know how it will all work out. And I don’t have any specific time frames right now. But that’s where all the magic, fun and adventure of it is!

If I was to come to your area, would you like to meet up for a meal, do something fun together, or maybe be my tour guide for a day? What do you like to do for fun and/or what would you show me in your city? I’m game for just about anything. (Except skydiving. I have no desire to skydive and I’m okay with that, lol.)

Would you love an opportunity for private, one-on-one, in-person business consulting and guidance if I came to your city? I’m exceptionally gifted at identifying where people need help in their business, but tell me, what areas of your business would YOU like more help with?

Whether You Think You Can or Think You Can’t, You’re Right

Whether You Think You Can or Think You Can't, You're Right

This quote stuck out to me after reading (yet another) a post on a business forum by someone who wanted to start her business, but had just lost her job, had no money, lived in a rural area… and so on and so forth.

She had every excuse in the book about how there was absolutely nothing she could do about her circumstances.

I wanted to point out to her, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.” ;)

Whether You Think You Can or Think You Can't, You're Right

She was looking at all the negatives and resigning herself to her circumstance—and victimhood—instead of focusing on what she COULD do, what opportunities she COULD find or create for herself, what circumstances she could change and which actually had more options available to her than the ones she was resigning herself to if she just put her mind to it.

I’m not saying certain challenging circumstances don’t exist. I’m no Pollyana when it comes to facing facts.

There IS a difference, however, in taking stock of what IS and acknowledging those things, and staying stuck in self-pity and creating self-fulfilling prophesies.

How you deal with the hand you are dealt and what you do to make optimum use of that hand is going to determine your success not only in business, but in life.

Instead of lamenting about everything that is wrong, focus on what is RIGHT and how you can go about making lemonade about of whatever lemons you’ve got in your basket at the moment.

Put on your thinking cap and you can always create new possibilities for yourself and your life.

May not be easy, it may even be incredibly difficult (who said it was all supposed to be easy anyway?). It might be something you’d rather not have to do (and don’t have to do forever), but there is ALWAYS a way forward, a way out, a way around, a way up.

It all depends on your own outlook.

Headed to Sundance Today! Wanna Meet Up?

Headed to Sundance! Wanna Meet Up?

I am on my way to the Sundance Film Festival in Utah today!

Anyone live near my route? I’ll be going through Portland, Oregon, then east through southern Idaho, and then south to Park City, Utah.

Maybe we could meet up along the way either on my way there or on the way back.

Give me a shout on Facebook or shoot me an email. I’d love to meet you!