Survival of the Most Adaptable

Faith Monsonby Faith Monson

“And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.” ― Erica Jong

I don’t know who first said, “When one door closes, open a window,” but whoever it was had a great perspective on life.

Adaptable people play life the way pros play tennis—always a step ahead, bouncing on their toes for the next play. They’ve got their eye on the ball expectantly, gauging how fast it’s coming, and they’re ready, thinking ahead on their moves. It takes concentration and targeted focus, but they are in the Zone, alert and waiting for what’s to come. Even when a tennis pro is caught off guard, a lifetime of training holds some moves in reserve. Surprises don’t throw them off their game.

Life may not be a tennis match, but it is all about change—and surprises. Overcoming obstacles, finding solutions, handling the unexpected and making the best of circumstances are all skills that tend to separate thrivers from survivors. It comes down to adaptability, the skill of shifting with the winds, finding a path over changing terrain, and managing change without being overwhelmed or derailed when plans go awry.

“Life is what happens while you’re making other plans,” the saying goes. Talk to an ambitious twenty-something, and he or she will tell you with certainty every step they plan to take over the next ten years. Ask a fifty year-old how he or she arrived at their current place in life, and you’ll hear a story of unexpected opportunities and obstacles, plans that changed, things that didn’t turn out as anticipated. Happy people have a natural gift for bending with the wind, while rigid people often allow the unexpected to make them angry, frustrated and bitter.

Here’s the good news: Adaptability can be learned, and practicing flexible responses can help you get better when life throws a curve ball.

At the heart of adaptability is a decision to accept change rather than fight it. Change is part of life, and part of nature, so fighting it is a no-win effort, but some people spend their lives trying to hold back the tide and end up exhausted. Instead, why not open yourself to change? Enjoy the excitement that comes from change, and the feeling of being more alive. Cultivating adaptability means being open to thinking freely and changing your mind as you discover new information. Creativity thrives on adaptability (and vice versa).

The people I know who have embraced adaptability have told me about amazing opportunities that came their way because they were open to what change brought them. For some, it meant finding a better job, pushing themselves out of a stale comfort zone to enjoy personal growth, or learning new skills. There’s a wonderful confidence that comes from discovering that you can handle uncertainty better than you thought. That confidence strengthens you the next time the unexpected happens, because you have experience with uncertainty. You are adaptable.

Adaptability comes more naturally to some people than to others. Some folks are natural acrobats when it comes to landing on their feet after life knocks them for a loop. Adaptability is just in their DNA, and they make it look effortless. On the other extreme are people—usually perfectionists—who get so caught up in how life “should” work that unexpected outcomes or sudden changes in plans make them angry and uncomfortable. Often, these people lose precious reaction time denying that change is happening, or stewing about its unfairness.

Most people are somewhere in the middle. They like the safety of routine, and they may enjoy planning ahead, so when something upsets the apple cart, they feel sad, confused and overwhelmed. Those feelings are normal, especially when what’s been derailed involves something important like your career or relationships. Although change may knock them off their game for a little while, positive thinkers look for new opportunities and start finding benefits to the new situation that they might not have previously noticed.

Many of us get stuck in a rut. We have a routine, almost like an athlete reacts by muscle memory, based on repetition and past experiences. That’s fine until there’s a bump in the road, and then we need the creativity of a dancer to navigate uncertain terrain. Successful people arm themselves with a plan (and a back-up plan). They focus on what they want, but in the background, they’re constantly scanning the horizon, gathering information, determining whether or not they need to adjust course.

“Be prepared”
might be the Scout motto, but it’s pretty good for the rest of us as well. It’s not paranoid to expect the unexpected (so long as you don’t always assume that the unexpected will be catastrophic). One way to build your adaptability muscles is to read biographies of successful people. Unless someone is self-delusional, he or she will acknowledge the role that serendipity—luck—played in their success. This isn’t the Las Vegas version of “luck”, trying to cheat the odds. It’s more like being prepared so that when an opportunity presents itself, you’re ready to seize the moment.

Another way to prepare for the unexpected is to make it a point to learn new things all the time. Take a class, try a new exercise, volunteer for a new assignment, do something different. Expect doors to open. If you’re hoping to find a better job, make sure you have a resume that’s up-to-date and as good as it can be, so that when you hear about an opportunity, you are ready to take advantage of it. Go out of your way to meet new people, go new places and shake up your routine. Make it a game to look for something good whenever you hit a roadblock. Pretty soon, adaptability becomes habit.

Adaptability means expecting that change will happen and recognizing that nothing lasts forever. Instead of being sad about change, savor every moment, and open yourself to finding something that may be just as sweet—or even sweeter!

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Adapt and Thrive

Faith Monsonby Faith Monson

Writer Erica Jong said, “And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.”

Most people consider change to be risky. Adaptability is learning how to lean into change and make new situations work for you, even when the world turns upside-down.

Adaptability comes more naturally to some people than to others. Some people are natural acrobats when it comes to landing on their feet after life knocks them for a loop. Adaptability is just in their DNA, and they make it look effortless.

On the other extreme are people—usually perfectionists—who get so caught up in how life “should” work that unexpected outcomes or sudden changes in plans make them angry and uncomfortable. Often, these people lose precious reaction time denying that change is happening, or stewing about its unfairness.

Most people are somewhere in the middle. They like the safety of routine, and they may enjoy planning ahead, so when something upsets the apple cart, they feel sad, confused and overwhelmed. Those feelings are normal, especially when what’s been derailed involves something important like your career or relationships. Although change may knock them off their game for a little while, most positive thinkers look for new opportunities and start finding benefits in their new situations.

Be prepared” might be the Boy Scout motto, but it’s pretty good for the rest of us as well. One way to build your adaptability muscles to prepare for the unexpected is to make it a point to learn new things all the time. Take a class, volunteer for a new assignment, try something different. If you’re hoping to find a better job, make sure you have a resume that’s up-to-date and as good as it can be, so that when you hear about an opportunity, you are ready to take advantage of it. Go out of your way to meet new people, go new places and shake up your routine. Make it a game to look for something good whenever you hit a roadblock. Pretty soon, adaptability becomes habit.

Adaptability means expecting that change will happen and recognizing that nothing lasts forever. Instead of being sad about change, savor every moment, and open yourself to finding something that may be just as sweet—or even sweeter!

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How to Follow Up with Leads After Networking Events

Faith Monsonby Faith Monson

You were a networking genius at your latest event, and as a result, you emerged with an impressive list of prospects. The work isn’t done, however — now you must establish further contact. These tips will help you follow up on your leads and build strong business relationships:

  • If you haven’t already, connect via LinkedIn.
  • Stay in touch by sending pertinent articles and other helpful information to your new contacts.
  • Arrange a coffee date, with the intention of further developing your business relationship.
  • Each meeting should in some way benefit your new contact so that he or she looks forward to future encounters.
  • If appropriate, establish a referral relationship. New connections can introduce you to valuable business groups and associations, which will further increase your rapidly-expanding list of contacts.

Your intention to follow up should be evident from the moment you introduce yourself to new contacts. All further meet-ups should be enjoyable, yet goal-oriented. Through carefully-planned follow-up meetings, you and your new contacts can build strong, mutually-beneficial business relationships.

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How to Prepare for Networking Events

Faith Monsonby Faith Monson

Networking success is dependent on intentional pre-event preparation. Make the most of your next networking event by following these easy steps:

  1. Determine who will be at the event — and who is worth your time. If a list of attendees is not available, call the event planner for more information. A volunteer session at the check-in table may grant you greater insight into the identities of the other attendees.
  2. Look up event attendees on LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social networks. You may discover something interesting that can lead to a great conversation and an even better professional connection.
  3. Create a detailed plan for how you will approach each encounter. Clarify your goals ahead of time. Do you require specific information, or is a more casual conversation preferable?
  4. Always exchange business cards, even if you are currently unemployed, semi-retired, or otherwise in the midst of a professional transition.
  5. Be inclusive and introduce targeted attendees to other professionals in your network. People will notice your generosity and may reciprocate by sending great leads your way.
  6. Listen closely while talking to new people. Immediately following the event, jot down notes about your discussions.

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Why Networking Should Not Mimic a Piñata Game

Faith Monsonby Faith Monson

Many professionals’ networking efforts look a lot like a chaotic game of piñata, with people blindly swinging from one encounter to another. These individuals do not create organized plans for the networking events they attend, but rather, haphazardly approach others in hopes of suddenly sparking random connections. This approach is akin to going after a piñata while blindfolded. After several swings of the stick, success is possible, but without a blindfold, it’s far easier to knock down the piñata and get the prize within.

Networking event attendees often blindfold themselves by failing to scour lists of other professionals in attendance. Others fail to look up the schedule of events or learn about the featured panelists. In an equivalent game of piñata, these individuals would have a blindfold and no stick — and virtually no chance of making essential connections.

The next time you attend a networking event, avoid the piñata approach. Prepare for the event by finding a list of attendees and learning about them via LinkedIn and other social networks. By equipping yourself with the knowledge needed to make a good connection, you’ll be better positioned to score the real prize: solid leads.

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Difficult Employees: How To Rid the Workplace of Toxic Influences

Faith Monsonby Faith Monson

After weeks, months, or even years of putting up with workplace troublemakers, you’ve decided to rid your work environment of all toxic influences. Unfortunately, handling a difficult employee is easier said than done — and this is especially true when it comes time to fire problematic individuals. Difficult employees are often champions of manipulation; without careful preparation and record keeping, you may find it very difficult to rid the workplace of their influence.
 
Keep Detailed Records
Difficult employees often form close relationships with upper management. Detailed records will help you show those who have fallen under the difficult employee’s spell just how toxic that individual can be. Write a thorough description of every incident as soon as it occurs, noting the date, time, and any other pertinent details. 
 
Avoid the Temptation to Make Peace or Rehabilitate

This is not the time to be a do-gooder. Your attempts at rehabilitating difficult employees will only result in increased frustration among more productive team members. Likewise, attempting to keep the peace is a bad idea, as you will, at best, mask the situation and allow it to blow up later on.
 
Maintain Full Transparency

All employees — including those prone to causing trouble — should be aware of workplace policies. They should know that open communication is encouraged, but they should also recognize that the rules apply to everyone. It may be tempting to maintain the status quo, but the more you stall, the more problems difficult employees will cause. Don’t let troublemakers destroy the productive workplace you’ve worked so hard to create.
 

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How Difficult Employees Undermine Your Work as Manager

Faith Monsonby Faith Monson

Many otherwise effective managers make the mistake of thinking they can successfully rehabilitate difficult employees. Unfortunately, some employees are simply beyond help. Workplace troublemakers thrive on chaos, using the following tactics to reduce your power as a manager:

Building Relationships with Upper Management

Often skilled in the art of manipulation, difficult employees can turn on the charm like a faucet — and get those in positions of power on their side.

Create Workplace Drama
Difficult employees thrive on drama. The more uncomfortable they can make you, the better. They will happily escalate seemingly minor issues, diverting other employees’ focus from the task at hand.

Foster a Negative Environment

Difficult employees aim to make their supervisors and all other employees feel uncomfortable. They use a variety of tactics to accomplish this end, but the result is always a negative and divided workplace.
Because difficult employees are so eager to undermine your work, they must be dealt with before the workplace becomes a toxic environment. Keep an eye out for needless drama and do not hesitate to hold difficult employees accountable.

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Difficult Employees: What Constitutes ‘Difficult’?

Faith Monsonby Faith Monson

Difficult employees are rampant in the workforce, and yet, many managers struggle to determine which employees are difficult and which merely require a little additional guidance. Struggling to identify difficult employees? Look for these characteristics:

A Complete Lack of Respect

From chronically late to work to defiantly refusing the most basic of requests, difficult employees make it clear that they have no respect for authority — unless they think that they can get something by courting the favor of your superiors.

A Desire for Power
Difficult employees are always in the midst of power struggles with their superiors and coworkers. They will do whatever is necessary to gain the upper hand.

Desperate for the Spotlight

Difficult employees who fail to garner the power they desire will quickly make their disappointment known. Although power is their chief prerogative, they will happily settle for time in the limelight. Unfortunately, this desperation for attention harms their productivity and creates a toxic work environment.

Ultimately, a difficult employee prefers to put their own best interests above those of the workplace. Every issue, no matter how small, is about them. They will not rest until they have undermined you and destroyed what was once a cooperative and peaceful work environment.

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Ready for a Fresh Start?

Are you ready for a fresh start? Well, the truth is – so am I. This year, 2016, marks DreamSpinner Communications 13th year in business. Over the course of more than a decade, I’ve reinvented the company’s focus several times, and we’re about to do it again.Feb 2015 043

Fresh Start Success: How to Reinvent Your Work, Reimagine Your Life and Reignite your Passion is our new book for 2016. Forty-two stories about incredible people – just like you – from all different industries who recreated themselves and their careers from a brand new, successful, Fresh Start.

GM-FSS-Amazon-2Here are the amazing entrepreneurs profiled in Fresh Start Success: Lauren Randolph, Oksana Gritsenko, Debbi Dachinger, Lisa Manyon, Lisa Jendza, Tamara Green, Sheri Fink, Stephen Hobbs, Barbara Edie, Wendy Woodworth, Dr. Cha-Zay, Danielle Ratliff, Christine Bove, Grace Kelly, Sheevaun Moran, Dawn Fleming, Gail Watson, Teresa DeGrosbois, Sharon McRill, Lisa Woodie, Christine Hassler, Marla Goldberg, Amber Alle, Poonam Gupta, Karen Kessler, Sherri Richards, Lisa Minnini, Patryk Weznowski, Debbie Peterson, Melissa Darnay, Dr. Susan Sklar, Katana Abbott, Pierette Simpson, Wendy Ida, Mike Jaffe, Jo Dibblee, LeeAnn Shattuck, my amazing co-blogger Faith Monson, as well as my story and that of my husband and business partner, Larry Martin.

Maybe you recognize some of those names, and maybe you don’t—yet! Over the course of this year, you’ll get to know these fantastic, visionary people through this newsletter, this blog, and of course, through the Fresh Start Success book, which will be published later this year.

When I interviewed the Fresh Start Success folks, I asked everyone the same nineteen questions. What amazed me was how different each person’s path was, yet how many things they had in common although they are from different countries, belong to various age groups, and work in a wide range of professions.

101They told me what they trained to do, what career path they set out to follow, and what they loved—as well as what made them crazy. They remembered what the last straw was that made them decide to make a big change, how they got the courage to take a risk, and what they did to prepare for their Fresh Start Success. They were candid about what went well, where they ran into setbacks—and how they overcame both obstacles and nay-sayers.

You’ll be surprised in the variety of answers to ‘how long did it take to become successful’, and you’ll probably see yourself in some of the ways these folks decided what was most important to them as they reinvented themselves and their careers. You’ll find out what they learned the hard way, what attributes they consider key to a successful reinvention, and how reimagining their work and life made them a different person. You’ll even find out what kind of superpower they’d like to have!

Here are a couple of things that really made an impression on me.

• Although all of my interviewees consider their reinvention successful and most are making as much or more as they did before their shift, the decision to change wasn’t about the money.
• Despite the setbacks and the hard work necessary to start over (sometimes in a completely different area of expertise or even a different country), there were no regrets. Every single person talked about how essential personal branding and marketing was to achieve their Fresh Start Success. I’ll have more to share with you as we get closer to the launch date.

In the meantime, why not get thinking about how you can make 2016 your year for a Fresh Start Success? Ask yourself these questions to get started:

1. What do I love about what I’m doing now? What makes me crazy?
2. What do I feel I was born to do? How close am I do making that happen?
3. If I could do anything else for a living, what would I do? If it’s not what you’re doing now, why not? What would it take to make the jump?
4. What is your personal brand? How you are marketing yourself to make the leap to your next success?

If you feel stuck on any of those questions, Larry and I would be glad to coach you through the process. Watch for some all-new Fresh Start Success programs and packages coming to help YOU reinvent your work, reimagine your life and reignite your passion!

Choose to LIve Meme

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Creating PR Opportunites with Blogs, Radio and TV

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

Blogs are another often-overlooked opportunity for news. Bloggers, like newsletter editors, are often business people who are sharing insights on topics related to their area of expertise. They blog to discuss ideas, not for the purpose of reporting news or promoting other people’s products—but if you approach them right, they may find your information to be in line with their purpose, and feature you, your comments or your services. Blogs also feature Web audio and video and digital photos, but the material must be compelling for its content and not heavily promotional.

What’s the trick to approaching online newsletter editors and bloggers? Respect. These gatekeepers don’t see themselves as traditional reporters, and they usually don’t have a formal journalism background. They are driven by a need to share helpful information, and they’re often very protective of their readers. The key to winning over newsletter editors and bloggers is to create a relationship first, and then ask if there’s a need to supply content. You can begin that relationship by sending an email about a post or issue that you particularly liked, or by becoming a regular, positive commenter to posts and issues online. Make sure your real name, company and email address are included in all of your comments. Write comments that support and amplify what the editor or blogger has written, and make your input thoughtful and meaningful. If you have the opportunity to meet the editor or blogger at an event, make it a point to introduce yourself.

Ease your way into offering highly targeted, infrequent and on-the-mark news or guest posts. If you get a “yes,” don’t abuse the privilege—it’s not an invitation to spam them with everything you’ve got. Carefully nurtured, these vehicles can be a very powerful and credible way to spread your news online.

Broadcast and satellite radio aren’t your only options to be a featured guest. Internet radio sites have sprung up all over the Web and some established shows reach tens of thousands (or millions) of dedicated listeners. Sites like BlogTalkRadio feature talk radio shows that are delivered via the Internet. Since these shows have none of the overhead of broadcast radio, they can focus on highly specific topics, niche audiences and targeted interests that deliver a valuable focused audience. Don’t worry too much about the size of their listenership—if the show delivers your ideal target audience, even a few hundred dedicated listeners might produce a nice spike in sales in exchange for a few minutes of your time. Consider subscribing to RadioGuestList.com’s regular emails highlighting which Internet radio shows are looking for guests.

Podcasts are very similar to Internet radio. Listeners can visit the podcast site to hear the show online, download to an MP3 player, or subscribe so that they never miss a future show. Most podcasts are also distributed (often for free) via iTunes, making them available to a broad audience. The majority of Internet radio shows also offer a podcast for listeners who did not catch the show live.

Podcasts and Internet radio shows often have a page that describes how to contact the host and pitch yourself as a guest. Make sure to read and follow these guidelines if you want to be considered. Think carefully about your suggested topic, to make sure it fits the audience and has the ability to inform and entertain. Position yourself as an expert, and include a (very short) bio to support your credibility. For a great ebook on how to pitch yourself to radio hosts, I recommend Wayne Kelly’s OnAirPublicity.com.

Online publicity opportunities abound, but they require the same respect and professional approach you would accord to traditional media. Because the Internet never sleeps, online media creators have an insatiable need for news, information, interviews, product/book news and multi-media, but it must meet the needs of their very targeted audiences. Take the time to approach these outlets right and your news could rocket to the top of the search engine results.

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