“Everything is hard,” “Get your hopes up” and 6 other entrepreneurial tips for the new year

So many of us yearn to do what we truly love in a way that will “impact” the world in meaningful ways. On the one hand these yearnings lead to a sense of determination and fulfillment. But on the one hand, the raised expectations often lead to feelings of helplessness and fear (of failure, among other fears). Continue reading ““Everything is hard,” “Get your hopes up” and 6 other entrepreneurial tips for the new year”

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The use of dramatic words in a not-dramatic industry

I don’t know why but I repeatedly see website development clients pushing their service providers to rush. Is it just in web development or are clients of all kinds pushing their service providers to do everything faster? And better too, I’m sure.

computer
Look at your new website! Isn’t it beautiful? photo source

To the chagrin of web dev clients the world over, I believe there are certain words that should never be used when discussing building a website. These include:

  1. Urgent, and
  2. Critical

Work for a client should ideally be done in a normal amount of time, but is it really necessary to make it urgent?

And here’s the irony. Almost every single time, at one point in the project (if not more), the work comes to an absolute and complete halt. I mean 100%. And not because of the web developer or project manager or graphic designer.

Wait... How did we get here? image source
Wait… How did we get here? image source

Nope. At some point, the project stops because something happens to the client. They realize their attention needs to be put elsewhere for a few days/weeks/months. They run out of cash. They find they have difficult decisions to make regarding the site. So many possible reasons, with the exact same outcome: a project that’s on hold.

I find rushed projects to be problematic but it isn’t only because of the stress of having someone push and push, feeling like you’re never working fast enough. It’s also because I know – I just know – that there is a 99% chance that this mad rush to the finish line will stop so fast that the worker will be left trying to figure out what just happened.

Being part of a regular flow of a project is fine. Sometimes it moves faster, sometimes slower, sometimes it needs to be put on hold for a bit. But after being pressured by a client to rush, when the client becomes the one to hold up the project, it’s tempting to start giving them talks about the importance of keeping a project going, even if under normal circumstances the delay wouldn’t have bothered you too much.

The talk won’t work, though. Because the same way that the project should have moved at a natural pace to begin with, including fast movement, slow movement and pauses, it will need to stop when the client needs to take that breath, whatever the reason may be.

And that’s OK. And you know exactly why. The reason it’s OK for the project deadline to be pushed off is because it wasn’t really urgent. Nope, it was just a really nice website that hopefully one day soon will be a really nice live website that will be enjoyed by all who visit it.

And when that happens, it’ll be really lovely.
Not at all critical.

Is the website still breathing? image source
Is the website still breathing? image source

Make your networking human (and not fake)

I think that one of the things I don’t like about networking is that most of us feel the need to act perfect while doing it. Since the supposed goal of networking is to help get yourself business or, at the very least, leave a good impression, being clumsy, acting with a lack of self confidence or, worst of all, acting clueless, is a big no-no.

Lets see some rules for networking that make me want to hide at home. These rules have been paraphrased for anonymity and brevity:

Say something memorable so you’ll be remembered later.

Although I might remember someone who had something interesting to say, the people I’ll remember actively will be 1) nice and 2) have something to say that connects to me in some way. If you try to impress me, I’m outy (and annoyed).

People qualify either as: Potential clients, source of referrals or interesting-but-nothing-more. Realize that not everyone will be a prospect. People can also be useful in other ways.

I really hate the using aspect of networking. I guess it’s the same reason I dread singles events. Instead, be nice, be friendly. Let us learn new things from each other. Don’t treat me like an object through which you can acquire something and I won’t treat you that way.

Always act like you’re on a first date. (From here)

Sounds too difficult if you ask me. And misses the point. Again, you want to be a trust-worthy, kind and professional person. So be that person and then be yourself. OK, a little more difficult than dressing up and waxing the car, but much more to the point.

OK, so what tips would I give for networking? Here ya go:

  1. Be a nice person (not a bad idea for any area of your life). In general, people want to work and associate with nice people.
  2. Act and speak honestly. Don’t be fake and don’t suck up. Try  to give an honest picture of who you are and not to put on too much of a show.
  3. Be polite.
  4. Talk to people, and look them in the eye, even if you don’t think you’re going to get anything out of them.
  5. Don’t forget your business (or personal) cards. They are so useful.
  6. Know how to explain what your company does and what you do in not too many words.
  7. Don’t talk about yourself too much.

Those are my rules for networking. They basically comprise being a mensch and carrying business cards. I made it easy so you can remember them easily.

Good luck. :)

No stress is too much

You look so stressed. Good good.

What is it about our culture that has created this attitude that the crazier you are, the cooler and more successful you’re considered.

If you run around like a madwoman, work way too many hours, check your email outside of work, preferably have a few kids which you somehow take care of too, hang out with friends, yadda yadda yadda, you are an inspiration to us all.

And those of us who do less than that, are frankly, less successful.

When I am feeling overwhelmed with my life, part of me wonders if it is during those overwhelming periods that I feel most alive, most accomplished. I wonder if, despite the pain of feeling like I’m about to have an ulcer, or maybe because of that oncoming ulcer, I know that I am finally living how I “should.”

Yikes.

How many of us are capable, within this culture, of working normal hours, doing normal things during our down time – like reading by a flickering flame in the evenings and going to sleep before midnight (of course) – without feeling like we’re wasting our lives away?

Basically, I think that if we aren’t stressing ourselves out, we sort of feel like failures.

Which is why it’s terrible you just spent time reading this blog post. :)

Image by Kai Hendry on flickr.

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