Three criteria to look for when applying to jobs or launching a business venture

One of the main topics I discuss with my clients is how do they know if the job or business venture they are about to embark on is right for them. There are many decisions to take and several aspects to consider, and the more complicated and busy our lives are, the hardest it becomes to get answers.

So in my conversations with my clients, I came up with the following set of questions to guide them in finding the best possible outcome.

First of all I ask them: what is the most important area of your life right now? Based on the answer, I articulate the following questions and the structure of the session.

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  • Is this new job or founding opportunity aligned with your life goals? If, for example, you want to launch a business but also start a family at the same time, it is important to understand how this will take place, and if it would be possible or enjoyable for you and your family to run both. In most cases, the client hasn’t really taken the time to think in depth about their life goals, so coaching helps them to truly understand their priorities and to do some soul searching around their values.
  • Is this new job or founding opportunity sustainable and compatible with your current life situation? Imagine you are really interested in a role that requires travelling, but you don’t want to travel because of a health condition, family needs or any other aspect. You know it will be stressful and won’t work for you, but you still take it because you think you will figure it out. Very likely you won’t enjoy the role, you won’t perform at your best, you will feel stressed, resentful and tired and you will be out of that job pretty soon. When we talk about sustainability, we need to take into consideration all the aspects of the role, from logistics to self care and family/personal needs. If the role or the business has a mayor clash in one of these areas, it won’t work in the medium term. So unless you just took the role to make quick cash for six moths or less, it ends up in a waste of time and energy for you and the company. Not overlooking the sustainability of the role/venture is key, and it is important to not go into “I will cross that bridge when we get there” mentality. Because the bridge will be there. You are just postponing a vital decision because you are afraid of the answer. (Hint: if you are afraid of the answer it is usually because the answer is no. I challenge you to think of a time when saying no sooner than later wasn’t a good idea :))
  • Is this new job/funding opportunity feasible?What’s your timeframe? This question is for the folks out there that need money in exchange of their time. Not all of us need to work for money, for different reasons. But if you do, and money is an important motivation when seeking jobs or launching a business, then you need to be very honest on the following:
    • how much time per week do I need to work?
    • how much do I need monthly? can this number be revisited?
    • do I need to make all the money from the same job/venture?
    • If I don’t make as much as I need, how long can I keep earning less for? How much less? Where the rest of the amount will be coming from?
    • Is this plan sensible? Will I feel comfortable with this plan in three months time? Is my family comfortable with it?
    • What’s my plan B if this doesn’t work out?

Of course, the decision can’t be taken in just one session, or in one conversation, but these questions help to face clients with their reality and with what they truly need. If you find yourself unhappy at work, hopping from role to role or unmotivated with any single project you start, I think you can benefit by answering these questions. 

Let me know how that goes for you, I would love to listen to your experience or to your feedback and comments on this post.

Thanks for stopping by today.

 

Is your venture sustainable for YOU?

I made my first video post! Be gentle please when judging the quality and the background (our lovely master bedroom)!  I decided to prioritise content and I wanted to experiment with other formats and tools.

In this video I talk about the importance of checking with yourself whether you are ready to start a business venture by analysing the four following aspects: lifestyle, emotional capacity, life stage and business model and financial sustainability.

Hope it is helpful and please leave your feedback, questions, ideas on the topic, I would love to hear from you.

 

 

 

Investing, collecting, wasting, recycling

In my work with entrepreneurs and clients and in and in my own life I see constantly this battle against time and, consequently, this need to prioritize. We all know about the importance of organization and prioritization, but how can we do that? For most entrepreneurs everything is equally important, as they are the bottleneck in pretty much all the decisions of their business. In our personal lives, we also find sometimes lost, with no strategy on how to go about things. Whether to attend an event after a busy day, whether to take some free work or not, whether to do someone a favour that could pay off later, whether to take a break  to do some personal and professional development...I am sure you have been there asking yourself: should I? 

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As always, there is no one size fits all answer, but  I developed a framework that I found a very useful starting point. When approaching a decision that needs to be made about whether to do something or not, I try to see where could it fit better:

  1. Investment: Am I planting the seed for something good here? Clarify to yourself what good/successful/interesting means for you in this particular context. An example of investment could be to pay $2000 for a two day seminar on transformational leadership. In this example, the question could be something along these lines: Am I going to get the learning, tools and networks needed to advance in my career and my role as a leader in this company? Depending on the context, the type of investment will be tangible or intangible, measurable or not, but the key is that every investment has 1) an opportunity cost and 2)a foreseeable, desirable gain, so you have to identify both. In the example, the opportunity cost is the things I won’t do with these $2,000 and the potential gain the advancement in my career, so more reputation, better salary, better chances and connections…
  2. Collecting: Am I gathering something of value from this action? this can mean money (Am I getting paid for attending this event?), contacts, reputation, potential referrals, personal well being (Am I going to feel emotionally and physically better after this break?)…again, whatever it is, it needs to be worthy for you and be an improvement of your current situation.
  3. Wasting: the opposite of collecting, which means a worsening of your current situation. It could go from wasting money on the wrong investment, hire or website domain (being there) to -the worst of all- wasting your time on something that didn’t report you anything.

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Once you have decided what type of action are you dealing with (an investment, a collection or a waste) you can proceed in the best way given your circumstances. For me the key when deciding what box to put things in, is to think holistically. Something could be an investment or a collection in one aspect of your life but a waste in other (e.g. attending an event at 7 pm could be an investment professionally speaking but a waste in the personal arena). Thinking holistically means to understand what arena is most important for you at that moment in time. Just you know the answer and just you can make the decision. And if you are honest with you, and answer it from the right place, you won’t be wrong.

Before wrapping up, a short note on the last category. In case you feel tempted to recycle, this is for you:

4.Recycling: not all the waste is the same right? some experiences that we thought were a dead road and a waste of time or energy end up surprising us and giving us something back. Maybe we thought that meeting was a waste of time, but surprise surprise, two months later we got a new client through a referral from one of the grey guys sitting silently in the corner. These things happen, and is amazing when you get your time/money/energy back in an unexpected way. But as this is out of your control, I recommend to take this category as a bonus, rather than not put anything on the rubbish bin (a.k.a say always yes) because your are afraid of throwing something valuable to the trash (a.k.a FOMO). You eventually will.  That’s ok, it’s part of life. My rule here: don’t try to play God and if you feel something is a waste, file it and let life and serendipity do its job.

Don’t shame my choices

I love egg and yogurt. Not one after the other. TOGETHER. AT THE SAME TIME. MIXED. Of course for years I ate it when nobody was looking, too afraid of being shamed for such a weird/gross/strange combination. But I still ate it. I thought other people will find it disgusting and that was a reason good enough for me to deprive myself of something that I liked. At the same time, I was the best at shaming people’s choices, especially when it came down to food. Shaming your choices, and therefore others’ peoples choices, is a form of control. Shaming is after all a way of organising behaviours in your world, a way of categorising things. Should and shouldn’t, good and bad. Shaming is a poor strategy to try to convince ourselves that something is bad. Shaming is a way of trying to help ourselves to do the right thing from a place of control rather than power. Shaming is actually the opposite of power: we think we can’t take good decisions and choices, therefore the only way to do it is by making us feel so bad that the feeling will stop us. it is as useful as to shoot you on your foot to stop yourself from going to the fridge to grab the ice cream. There are better ways. More supportive. Less painful. More helpful. Unfortunately they haven’t being taught to us. Why? In most cases I think our immediate environment didn’t know any better and did that to themselves and to us growing up, so it’s a legacy issue (manageable and changeable). It is also promoted by media and mainstream culture: diet culture, for example, is a the epitome of body and food shame.

This is what I do to escape self shame and shaming others’ choices:

1- Embrace your choices in a proud way: feeling proud and confident of your choices and not being apologetic drives people crazy. Crazy people run out of arguments pretty quickly. You win. Battle is over. You get to fully enjoy your egg and yogurt and give the other person some food for thought. Not too bad.

2-Show empathy: when a person is shaming my choices I think that they probably are twice as hard with themselves. And that’s painful. So I try to understand where they are coming from, what type of people they have in their lives modelling that behaviour for them and how horrible that must feel. Particularly when there is no awareness on those internal processes and they feel powerless and condemned to feel like that forever.

3- Show curiosity: as soon as the person is a little bit off guard I ask them about their own choices. If they have a choice or behaviour they like but hide because they are ashamed, they’d love the opportunity to open up without being judged. Secrets are painful, and again when trying to control them we become less powerful. So talking about them takes the power back from them to the individual.

4- NEVER AGAIN SHAME SOMEONE ELSE’S CHOICES: if you do that to other people you do it to yourself. There is no way a happy, supportive person is the worst critic of others but love herself unconditionally. NOPE. That doesn’t happen. So every time a shaming feeling comes to your mind (about clothes, body, food, parenting, relationships, career move…) REFRAIN YOURSELF. STOP YOURSELF.JUST DON’T DO IT. It won’t happen overnight, so if you do it, just apologise mentally to the person and commit yourself again to not doing it. This is a mindfulness technique and a great way to regain your power: you decide what thoughts enter your brain. your intelligence has the power to control the mind in a gentle way and decide what is best for it.

I’d love to listen to your experiences with self shame and shame from others and to others!