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A company's mission statement tells you why they do what they do. They are often short, punchy, with plenty of actions words that provide a sense of direction and help the company stand out in a crowded market.

But the best mission statements are also business philosophies that dictate their values and beliefs, and the best companies truly live by them.

One of my favorite philosophies is the "pickle principle." It goes like this: A long-time restaurant customer ordered his usual hamburger and asked for an extra pickle, which he always got in the past. This time, the waitress wanted to charge him $1.25 for the pickle.

When he protested, the waitress spoke with the manager, and returned with a back-up offer of a nickel for the extra pickle. The man promptly got up and left, and even wrote an angry letter to the owner about how they treat customers. The owner, Bob Farrell, made amends, but the experience taught him a valuable business lesson: "Give 'em the pickle!"

It became his company's philosophy and part of their mission statement that you should do what it takes to satisfy your customers. It sent a strong message to their clientele, competitors, and employees about what the company stands for and what people can expect.

There are many successful and admired companies who also follow the "pickle principle" in their mission statement and business philosophy, and lead by example. The key is making sure mission...Read More

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A company's mission statement tells you why they do what they do. They are often short, punchy, with plenty of actions words that provide a sense of direction and help the company stand out in a crowded market.

But the best mission statements are also business philosophies that dictate their values and beliefs, and the best companies truly live by them.

One of my favorite philosophies is the "pickle principle." It goes like this: A long-time restaurant customer ordered his usual hamburger and asked for an extra pickle, which he always got in the past. This time, the waitress wanted to charge him $1.25 for the pickle.

When he protested, the waitress spoke with the manager, and returned with a back-up offer of a nickel for the extra pickle. The man promptly got up and left, and even wrote an angry letter to the owner about how they treat customers. The owner, Bob Farrell, made amends, but the experience taught him a valuable business lesson: "Give 'em the pickle!"

It became his company's philosophy and part of their mission statement that you should do what it takes to satisfy your customers. It sent a strong message to their clientele, competitors, and employees about what the company stands for and what people can expect.

There are many successful and admired companies who also follow the "pickle principle" in their mission statement and business philosophy, and lead by example. The key is making sure mission...Read More

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Did you know fashion designer Vera Wang started her label at the age of 40? However you define success, getting there is never a guarantee, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a try. Any of us, whether parenting, going back to school, climbing a corporate ladder, or starting a business of their own, can speak of challenges and discouraging moments, but that is what makes the journey all the more interesting. What’s more, your success doesn’t necessarily happen right out of school or at an early age, it can happen any time. Reaching your personal state of success is far less about what you’ve accomplished than it is about what you’ve learned along the way, and the skills and strategies you can share with others in your field.

I have found that those who think there is a shortcut or head-start option are usually spinning their wheels, but not getting where they want to be any faster. Persistence pays off, and the harder you strive toward your goal, the more you’ll see doors begin to open. No matter what stage of life you’re in or level of financial security you’ve reached, there’s no time restriction on going after big opportunities. My own journey hasn’t been easy, and I’m still constantly seeking out new challenges. But adversity taught me that giving up wasn’t an option, and that I could, in fact, make amazing things happen – even when the cards weren’t always stacked in my favor. Having the vision that kept me going, even when circumstances weren’t ideal.

Take a few moments to contemplate where you’d like to be in a few years’ time. Once you’ve envisioned that place, that position, or that state, you can begin to think about the steps it will take to get there. Here’s how you can draw on your natural strengths to continue growing, no matter what phase of life you’re in. Ask yourself these questions:

What excites...Read More

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Name a successful person and odds are he or she has a deep history of failure.

Henry Ford's first two car companies went under. James Dyson suffered through more than 5,000 failed prototypes before he created the first working Dyson vacuum. J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter book was rejected repeatedly by publishers. Michael Jordan likes to point out that he missed 9,000 shots during his NBA career and lost almost 300 games.

No one wants to fail, but failure is often the necessary step towards success. The key is not to focus on the failure, but rather what you can learn from the experience to elevate you to the next level. Missing baskets taught Michael Jordan to work harder to improve his shooting skills. Bankruptcy showed Henry Ford how to better market his new product to hesitant customers.

When I first was a partner in a yoga studio, I didn't have the in-depth yoga knowledge like the teachers who worked for me. As a CPA, I didn't think this would be an issue as I ran the business side of the studio. However, by not being a yoga expert, it hurt my arguments to make certain business decisions because I didn't know the industry well enough. Before owning another studio, I corrected my shortcoming and became a yoga instructor. I spent time teaching yoga so I had better knowledge (and confidence) when dealing with the business side.

Think about approaching your career...Read More

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Mentoring is a two-way street. We need to seek mentors for ourselves to achieve our goals, but we also need to look for people to mentor. Becoming a mentor requires both people in the relationship to buy in to the process to ensure it will meet the goals of the mentee.

Whether you’re an experienced executive, entrepreneur or a new leader, throughout your career you should seek people to mentor. This doesn’t have to be an serious time commitment. Instead, you can simply set up a quick chat over the phone or connect virtually through social media outlets or virtual web meetings.

We can all remember what it was like when first starting out, or moving through different levels in our careers. I remember how valuable the connections I made early in my career were. I was fortunate enough to have a handful of managers to take notice of me early on and provide guidance when I needed it — even sometimes when I wasn’t looking for it — and to help me make important adjustments.

One of my mentors was not only my manager, but also my friend. She would give me feedback on how to navigate the corporate culture, and she’d provide me constructive criticism she heard from others so that I could either adjust or know what kind of impression I was making. Being a mentor does not always mean you are providing positive affirmations. Sometimes, it’s about delivering the more difficult feedback. I was humbled by my mentors’ experience and wisdom. In any ways, she helped me realize how much I had yet to learn, so that I was able to put everything into perspective, take a step back, and work harder as a result.

Much of what I do today is geared toward teaching and guidance. I have learned along the way that being an effective mentor is more than simply giving advice and encouragement. Meaningful mentorship involves understanding your mentee’s goals and strengths, and then finding ways to connect them with the skills or people that will help them get there....Read More

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Many of us routinely set personal goals -- we may want to get in better shape, save more money, or learn a new skill.

But what about our business goals? Our career or business deserves the same attention--but unfortunately it often gets ignored. In fact, one survey found that more than 80 percent of the 330 business owners surveyed didn't track their business goals.

If you want to grow your business (and your career) you need to establish goals and set up steps to meet them so you can stay accountable. Here are five steps that help me with my business goals and they can help you too:

1. Set goals that motivate you.

Your goals should have a defined outcome and should be something that benefits both you and your business. Don't let money be the primary target.

Yes, you may want to bring in more income. But how you achieve that goal will depend on factors like improving client relationships, expanding your business into new markets, or broadening your own knowledge and expertise.

Try this: Write down why your goal is important to you and how it benefits your business and career. Once you can address that, you'll have a goal you're more committed to achieving.

2. Have SMART goals.

You may have heard of SMART, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. The SMART approach helps you define your goals so you can attain them.

I'm a fan of the method. Here's how to use it:

Specific: Goals should be defined and detailed. Vague goals can feel overwhelming. Don't say, "I want to make more money." Everyone does. Instead, say something like, "I want to increase sales by 10 percent," or "I want to add 10 new customers per...Read More

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Traveling is part of doing business, but many trips can disrupt your work-life balance by putting your normal work schedule and personal routines out of whack. The result is that you end up tired, stressed, and cranky, which makes it tough to be at your business best.

I travel a lot for my job--around the world and zig-zagging across the country. (I've done the three cities in five days route many, many times.) I've found that the key to smoother business travel is to keep up your usual healthy routine as much as possible. It definitely takes some planning and commitment, but it pays off by helping me stay energized, focused, and mentally prepared for the business meetings ahead.

Here are my top five strategies for keeping your work and life in harmony while on the road:

1. Pack your own hydration drinks.​

Energy levels can plummet when you get dehydrated from traveling. Besides making sure that I drink plenty of water, I also pack several sports or protein drinks in my suitcase so I'm well stocked when I arrive at my destination.

I love BodyArmour, but there are many other drinks like coconut water and beet juice that offer a boost of vitamins and antioxidants to keep your body and mind fresh and ready to go. One study even found that milk is a good option for hydrating.

If you don't like checking suitcases, do some prep in advance and see where you can pick up your favorite drinks on the way to your hotel or business meeting.

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What does success mean to you? Do you have a picture-perfect vision of what that success will look like? Have you talked about your goals with others?

More often than not, our goals are something tangible. At one point in my life, making partner in my firm was the ultimate goal — the epitome of success I’d been working toward my entire life. Of course, it wasn’t until I reached that position that I realized I was driving myself toward a “title” rather than aligning with my life’s purpose..

Big Think discusses Arianna Huffington’s ideas on redefining what it means to be successful. “The foundation of her Thrive philosophy is that success is measured in so much more than the acquisition of money and power.” Indeed, Huffington rates well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving among the traits by which we should measure success.

I’d add that aligning with your personal purpose, fulfilling your goals, and measuring how well you influence and collaborate with others are equally important measures of authentic success.

If you’ve ever had the feeling that no matter how “successful” you become, you don’t feel personally fulfilled, it’s important to reexamine that idea of success and rather than using a title, a number, or a status to determine whether you’ve made it, ask yourself these three important questions to begin reconstructing your image of a successful life:

  1. What’s my personal purpose? This will take reflection, but realizing your personal purpose is the first step to reaching authentic success. Without purpose, you’ll be at the mercy of another person’s goal, and you won’t feel fulfilled no matter how much financial success or power you attain through your work. To take this idea to the next level, figure out what you’re doing today to become aligned with that purpose? If you...Read More
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They say it's always better to give than to receive. While that may be true for the most part, it doesn't always apply to gratitude.

I've previously written that giving gratitude to others in business is a way to strengthen client relationships, motivate team members, and increase employee productivity.

But what about you? Who claps for you at the end of the day for a job well done? You can't always rely on others to offer you gratitude, especially when it relates to your work. And if you do get feedback from others, it may not be what you need to ensure you are headed in the right direction.

This is why you should adopt a practice of self-gratitude on a regular basis. This is about you celebrating your accomplishments each day, no matter how small, to keep you motivated and feeling like you are making progress against goals you set for yourself.

It is often times easier to give praise and gratitude to others than ourselves. Dr. Kristin Neff, author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, has written that many people are worried about feeling vain or narcissistic. But acknowledging your own accomplishments doesn't have to feel that way because you don't have to express it out loud or share it with others. It can be a personal and private practice you do at the end of each workday.

You don't need to devote much time or effort either. A daily or regular practice is enough to remind yourself that you are doing a great job and to keep going.

Here are five ways that I've used to cultivate self-gratitude in both my career and when running my...Read More

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We often think of giving thanks to those around us during the holidays. But giving gratitude to your employees and team members should not be a one-time event. It should be practiced year-round.

Giving gratitude is the right thing to do no matter what, but from a business perspective it's simply good business. If you make your employees happy then your customers will be happy and that makes your business happy. It also can cut down on expensive turnover and improve morale and productivity.

Makes sense, but it's not always easy to give gratitude. Some people are not comfortable giving this kind of praise, while others may think it doesn't deserve regular attention.

But it's important. Everyone at times suffers from what is often called "Gratitude Deficit Disorder"--the feeling that they get more criticism than gratitude. It doesn't help either that people are less likely to express gratitude in the workplace, according to one survey from the John Templeton Foundation.

People crave acknowledgement and the feeling that they matter and that their work is important. Begin by asking yourself-- "how are you grateful to your team?" Then tell them why you're grateful for their work on a regular basis and in a way that shows you really mean it. Always share an example of what they did for you and how it made a difference.

Here are five ways you can give thanks and foster a culture of gratitude in your workplace. They are small gestures, but can make a big...Read More

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