Learn to say “no”

Perhaps to most empowering thing we can all learn today, is how to say “no”.

Too often we agree to things because we don’t want to offend, or come across as uncooperative.

But even though in the short term you risk offending the other person, in time they will see that you are strong and have your own principles and priorities. And they will learn to respect you.

Say no to friends that are a bad influence.

Say no to partners that want to win while you lose.

Say no to colleagues that take advantage of you by asking you to prioritize their work over your own.

Speak up and tell people what you want. Take back control of your life. Guard your time like it’s the most precious resource you have. Because it is.

How often do we see nice people get taken advantage of because they can’t say no?

Don’t worry about the people who will abuse your company culture

Perhaps one of the biggest concerns businesses have when I talk to them about building a good company culture, is that they think SOME of their employees are going to abuse it.

I get that.

The business world is tough and unforgiving. If your employees start abusing your culture and become less productive, your clients don’t care, your investors don’t care and ultimately if your company can’t deliver, the market will punish you for it.

But stopping yourself from creating the best culture that MOST of your people are going to love and thrive in, just because you’re worried that a small handful of people may abuse it, is not a good strategy.

Your good people are not going to abuse it, in fact, it will energise them and make them more productive. And the bad ones only make up a small percentage (maybe 10%) and are going to find a way to do bad things, whether or not you try to have a good culture.

I’ve made the mistake of introducing rules (that “damaged” our trust-based culture) just to control bad behavior but in the end, only the good people get punished, and the abusers still found different ways to bypass those rules.

Create and defend your company’s culture for your good people, do what you can to help them succeed, and those who abuse your culture will soon find that they don’t fit in.

It all starts with your people

As an entrepreneur, starting a business with just one person (me!) and growing it to almost 50 people now, I can confirm one thing that’s always been talked about, and so true, is that people build businesses.

Not strategy, not product, not marketing. All these things are created as a result of your people.

Good people = good strategy

Good people = good product

Good people = good marketing

And the list goes on.

As the company grows, it becomes less about how good I am, and more about how good our people are. Because I can’t do and decide everything.

So if you can invest millions in product and marketing, you should and can invest in attracting the best people.

The power of your inner voice

Last week, I was almost late to an important meeting, so I rushed to my car, got inside, but realised the engine wouldn’t start!

In a moment of agitation, I thought to myself:

“I can’t believe this is happening now!”

“I have so many issues to deal with, now I have to deal with my car!”

“I need the car this weekend!”

This went on for about a minute.  But my conscious mind quickly caught myself spiraling into a negative state. That’s when I decided to change my mind’s voice. I decided to practice gratefulness instead of feeling like a victim.

“I’m so lucky that I can grab a taxi so quickly using an app. Now I’m not going to be late.”

“It’s a good thing that I have a second car at home, not everyone is as lucky to have a second car.”

“I’m grateful that I can call my family for help, so I can focus on my work.”

I immediately created a positive emotional state, and was back in a productive mood, ready to take on challenges again.

We have more power over our emotional state than we realise, and can choose how our inner voice speaks to us. Had I stayed in a “victim” state, it would have had a negative impact on my work for the rest of the day. But I chose gratefulness, and you can too.

I promise this choice will encourage the world to react positively to you too.

Networking – is it important?

Coincidentally in the last few weeks, five different people asked me about the “importance of networking”.

And I told them – if you think about your activities as “networking”, you probably got it wrong. Going to gatherings and shaking hands with influential people is not networking. They won’t help you because they are surrounded by people who want to network with them ALL THE TIME.

I go to very few gatherings. When I meet people, it’s about discussing a common goal together, never small talk. All my “network” was not from me trying to meet influential people. I was just driven by my work, and the right people showed up because they were interested in the work that I do.

And if we contacted each other, we will genuinely try to help each other out, even though we’ve not known each other for long.

That’s because to build a real network, there needs to be trust and mutual respect. Trust is built because they know I am not meeting them for the silly reason of “trying to network”. I am meeting them on equal grounds, discussing how we can add value to each others’ goals.

We shouldn’t try to shake the hands of influential people for the sake of networking. If you want a real network, focus on being driven by your work, and the right network will appear.