Thank You for the Gift of Freedom: Part 1

The main idea of this post was originally shared in on Memorial Day in 2014.  I wanted to share it again in the time of COVID.  While it is true that we find ourselves in challenging and uncertain times, we can get through it.  I am also sharing this post because the ideals Ewing Marion Kauffman shared with the world were very helpful to me when deciding whether or not to leave my twenty-five year career.  His words ran through my head a million times, and I ultimately decided not to be content with what someone thought I was worth – especially when it was $158,000 less than the man who held the position before me.  

I don’t believe the demise of the United States is an inevitable outcome.  I believe there are many futures, and we have to decide which one we are going to choose.  The politics of this whole COVID situation are very real, so make your own decisions about how you want to live your life.  The one thing I have learned?  Always question those who tell you to be satisfied with what you have or where you are in life – they usually think they are more entitled and valuable than you – and, that you should be there to serve them in some lower-level capacity.

You have the freedom to choose, and people died for that freedom.  Now is the time to use it.

To the Brave & the Fallen:  Thank You for Freedom! 

We have much to be grateful for this Memorial Weekend.  Thank you to all who have lost their lives bravely fighting for the United States.  And, thank you to those who have served and passed, the families who have sacrificed more than most can imagine and all who defend this great nation.  While I realize today is for the fallen, I also want to thank our living Veterans, Military personnel and their families.  You need to be recognized and remembered whenever possible for your dedication and service to this country.  I also want to remember our loved ones who are no longer with us. 

Thanks to our great military heroes, one of the unique gifts we have in the United States is the gift is FREEDOM!  The Declaration of Independence guarantees all of us “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This means we are free to pursue our lives and our vocations in any way that makes sense to us.    Freedom and opportunity are already available, now we need the confidence to pursue our dreams!

Freedom is what makes America so great.  What we do with our freedom is up to us.  It is our choice.  Freedom is our grandest opportunity and should be protected, especially in challenging times.  The importance of the freedom to choose is demonstrated by the story of Ewing Marion Kauffman.

After serving in World War II, Ewing Marion Kauffman started working as a salesman for a pharmaceutical company and was extremely successful.  When he started making more money than his boss, he found that his sales territory was suddenly limited.  Mr. Kauffman’s boss limited the sales territory on purpose.  After all, an employee couldn’t make more money than the boss!

Mr. Kauffman made a decision after his boss limited his sales territory and income.  He quit his job and vowed never to work for anyone else again.  He started his business in 1950 in the basement of his home.  He generated $36,000 in sales and $1,000 of net profit in his first year.  By 1989, Mr. Kauffman’s business made over $1 billion in sales and employed over 3,400 people.

Mr. Kauffman wanted to give back to the world and used his knowledge and wealth to form the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a foundation designed to support entrepreneurship and innovation.

Dr. Carl Schramm, the former President of the Kauffman Foundation, wrote The Entrepreneurial Imperative.  In this book (one of my absolute favorites), he notes three things all Americans should remember in the face of gloomy times (p. 81):

1. Never bet against the American system.

2. Know that being an American is your very best asset… 

3. Finally, never count on anyone but you to create your own destiny.


The American system is designed so that we can pursue our passions and dreams, especially in challenging times.  Our ability to pursue our dreams and create our own destiny is what makes our country so great.  We all have the freedom to choose what to do with our lives, and we have the freedom to help one another.  We have the freedom to pursue our ideas, our dreams and our passions. We have the freedom to create our own destiny.

People like my Great Uncle Jack realized this and helped protect the freedoms we have in the United States.  Uncle Jack was a fascinating man.  When I was young, all I knew about him was that he was great at hunting night crawlers.  In fact, he taught me how to hunt them.  We lived in the apartment above my parents’ TV and appliance store.  It was located on the main street of a rural community and did not have much of a yard.  Luckily, Uncle Jack lived only a few blocks away and had the perfect yard for gathering night crawlers. When it rained at night, we would walk down to his house with our flashlights and buckets.  Dad and Uncle Jack would help us kids hunt night crawlers so we could use them as bait when we went fishing.

There is actually a trick to getting your night crawler.  You have to shine the light on night crawlers to find them while they are above the wet ground.  And, you have to be quick!  Too much light scares them back into the ground.  You have to remember where they are and grab them quickly yet gently.  Then you have to slowly coax them out of the hole a little bit at a time.  If you try to force them out, they break.

Night crawlers and people are similar in this regard.  If you force individuals down a path they do not truly want to pursue, they eventually break.  Humans must find their own paths and pursue their own destinies with passion and purpose in order to live their best lives.

I did not understand much about Uncle Jack until I was a young adult.   He was a World War II Veteran and served under General George S. Patton during the Battle of the Bulge.  Absolutely amazing!  He was a World War II hero and I thought he was awesome because of his ability to catch night crawlers!

Uncle Jack and his family sacrificed when he served our country.  As Americans, we must remember that our freedom is not free.  Many men and women have died, been injured and sacrificed a great deal to provide us with the ability to live our lives with freedom and choice.  Taking our freedom for granted dishonors our troops and veterans.  It also dishonors their families, who have sacrificed more than many of us can imagine.  These people have truly sacrificed for all of us and our great nation.  We should honor and salute them everyday because they have given us the gift of freedom and choice.  We get to choose how we spend our time and our lives.


The bottom line:  Cherish your freedom, protect it and use it to create your destiny!


Freedom is foundational to entrepreneurship, business development and the future.  We must protect freedom for our future generations.  My daughter’s birthday is this time of year.  Happy Birthday Raquel!  As a your Mom, I will do whatever I can to preserve your freedom so you can pursue any dream you choose!


Coaching Challenge:  Participate in a Memorial Day Activity and show your gratitude for our Veterans and Military families!  


And, stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series!

Go Wild with Freedom!

-Dr. Connie

 

How to Create Core Values

Now may be the perfect time to either establish or revisit your core values.

In a time of drastic change, it can be helpful to either establish or revisit and renew your core values. Why? Core values are what we stand for and judge to be right. They serve as the guiding principles that influence our beliefs, behaviors, attitudes and cultural norms. 

The COVID pandemic is a Wild Card that has changed many of our habits, beliefs and behaviors. I have written and talked about Wild Cards for years in my work as a Futurist; however, I want to remind readers about my definition of Wild Card.

Wild Card: Unpredictable, unforeseen happenings that impact our present and future.

-Dr. Connie

Wild Cards can and do happen. COVID is an example of a global sized Wild Card with very long-term, history making and future-changing consequences. Wild Cards can also happen on a smaller scale. We might lose a job or have an unexpected health emergency. We might inherit a large sum of money or land a big client. We may find ourselves needing to revamp our business while practically homeschooling our children (sound familiar?) We don’t know exactly when Wild Cards will occur or how they will impact the world, our businesses and our lives. As leaders of our lives, families and businesses and communities, we need to deal with Wild Cards and the changes that come with them now and into the future.

Wild Cards are a part of business and life. As leaders, we have to learn to deal with what comes our way. 

Establishing or renewing your core values can be a valuable first step in transforming your business and life.

One of the clients I have been working with relies heavily on customers physically visiting their property. It is clearly a time for them to pivot, and they wanted a new strategic plan that helped them rethink what is possible in a time of long-term business uncertainty. After the initial in-take and assessment, I recommended that they establish their core values. We start at two levels 1) Each individual employee should establish their core values, and 2) The company also creates core values for the organization.

I have also been “assigning” a core values exercise to my individual coaching clients. There are a number of core values lists out there you can use to establish your core values; however, I prefer that businesses and leaders create their own core values. It is really important to get excited about and connect with your core values. You also need to own them. So, have a little fun with this as a person, family, team or business and create something that energizes and excites you!

The coaching tool I am giving to you all as a download in this blog post is typically used for teams or small businesses. However, you can use the same steps as an individual, family or group of leaders.

5 Simple Steps to Creating Your Core Values

  1. Core Values Uncensored: Forget the Norm & Bravely Brainstorm
  2. Create a “Top 5” List
  3. Work Together to Make the Core Values Better
  4. Reflect, Revise & Test to Find the Best
  5. Choose How to Use Your Core Values

Download the FREE “How to Create Core Values” Coaching Exercise Below!

Why are core values important in business? 

Core values are the beliefs and principles that help guide your present while laying the foundation for your future. Consumers are increasingly loyal to businesses they can identify with, relate to and believe in because they want a sense of purpose and connection when buying goods and services. 

On an individual level, core values represent what we believe, how we behave and who we are. Our values influence everything ranging from how we show up at work to who we choose as friends.

Think of core values like this:  An apple has five chambers at its core.  Each chamber holds a seed that possess important elements for the regeneration of future apple crops.  Seeds hold the keys to a healthy and thriving future. Core values are similar to seeds in that they can help individuals and businesses regenerate themselves to grow the future they desire. 

In both business and life, core values should serve as foundational guidelines we use to make decisions, guide behaviors and influence strategic directions. Core values establish both the present and the future when it comes to business, leadership and life.

Go Wild & Have Fun Creating Your Core Values!

Dr. Connie

Download the FREE “How to Create Core Values” Coaching Exercise Below & Join Wild’s Email List to Receive Coaching Tools, Exercises and Ideas Designed to Help You Create Your Desired Future!

PS: Let me know how it goes! I would love to hear from you!!

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The Future of Women & Megatrend 3: The Decentralized Global Marketplace

Business is in the age of the “Empowered Consumer” who has a buffet of buying choices. Empowered consumers decide how they want to purchase goods and services. Big Data [collecting information (data) from multiple sources to detect trends, identify patterns and make decisions] is one tool that can be used to develop marketing campaigns, study human behaviors and determine patterns. It is also being used to examine and redesign various areas of the consumer experience.

Entrepreneurs and leaders can use Big Data to capitalize on consumer patterns and demands while creating more customized consumer experiences. Data is collected with every click, and some metrics can be used almost immediately. In 2014, Black Friday was November 28. Data from IBM’s U.S. Retail Black Friday Report was available almost immediately and was published on December 2, 2014. According to IBM, online Black Friday sales grew by 9.5 percent from 2013 to 2014. Retail ecommerce (orders via computer) and mcommerce (orders via mobile device) are predicted to increase by double-digit margins well into 2018 (eMarketer, 2014). Data demonstrates the continued growth of the digital marketplace, and rural businesses must find ways to capitalize on these trends.

The world is fast-becoming an “Add to Cart” society for anything and everything. Individuals are creating local, national and global communities of meaning and change that are self-selected and self-formed. Many of these same individuals are transforming commerce and communities in new and innovative ways.   The definition of community is not limited to a physical location. Technology, combined with the need for meaning, self-expression and self-actualization, has created an increasingly decentralized marketplace.

People are choosing how to meet virtually, and when, where and whether or not to meet face-to-face. They are also connecting around common causes. Commerce, along with so many other areas of life, is becoming increasingly decentralized. Savvy consumers seek and create value they crave to transform their lives. Technology enables the delivery of information, goods and services anytime, anywhere, and from anyone in a way that makes sense while adding value to the lives of consumers.

For example, companies like Stitch Fix (http://www.StitchFix.com) initially get to know their customers with a personal style quiz and continue to gather information about the clientele every month by sending them personalized clothing selections. Orders are delivered to clients and customers pay only for what they keep. Stitch Fix tracks the feedback on likes and dislikes after every shipment and learns how to better serve its customers with the data it continuously collects.

Consumer demands are shaping the marketplace and future trends. Empowered consumers want unique experiences that add value to their lives. Future-focused leaders and entrepreneurs who ask and answer not, “What is the lifetime value of a customer?” but rather, “What value can we add to a lifetime?” will be in a better position to compete in the increasingly decentralized marketplace.

Coaching Tips for Female Entrepreneurs and Leaders:

  • Connect and work together online and offline. Build your support network to generate ideas and get help growing your business.  The most successful entrepreneurs and leaders help one another.  I see this all of the time with authors too!  They promote one another while helping each other grow their businesses and ideas.
  • Get rid of assumptions and use data to make decisions. Take a few ideas from places having success in the marketplace, such as Stitch Fix.

Future-Focused Entrepreneurs and Leaders:  

Take Action with Cooperation, Creativity and Purpose

Interestingly enough, the hottest jobs at Facebook require a “human touch.” Why? Facebook is looking for people who can close sales because its revenue relies heavily on ads (Anders, 2014). Perhaps the most future-focused entrepreneurial leaders are blending “high human touch” with “high-tech” in new and interesting ways that holistically add value to the lives of others.

Future-focused, entrepreneurial leaders can use megatrends and technology to change the game of life. One person cannot do it alone in a world that continues to change at an increasingly rapid pace; rather, rural entrepreneurs should innovate in communities with a spirit of cooperation, creativity, and purpose. Together, with a common purpose, female entrepreneurs and leaders can examine megatrends, utilize emerging technologies, and monitor analytics while creating meaningful experiences and innovating rural businesses in ways not yet imagined.

Go Wild with the Decentralized Global Marketplace!   Watch the video below for more details on how you can innovate your companies and communities with cooperation, creating and purpose!

-Dr. Connie

PS:  Share your thoughts, ideas and actions with the Ask Dr. Connie community.  We would love to hear from you!

 

The Future of Women & Megatrend #2: Living with Purpose and Meaning

The tools and technologies that help people create their own businesses and design their lives in ways that best suit them, are also fueling Megatrend #2:  Living with Purpose and Meaning. Purposeful living is shaping everything from healthcare to education.

Our society is quickly evolving into an era characterized by shared purpose and meaning. Personal fulfillment is a growing trend in business and entrepreneurship. People are looking to decrease their levels of stress and strengthen their healthy habits while finding greater fulfillment.

Ben & Jerry’s is an example of a company that integrates purpose and meaning into its core existence by creating “linked prosperity” for everyone involved with the business. The company supports “linked prosperity” by establishing and aligning social, product and economic missions (benjerry.com/values).

The Living with Purpose and Meaning megatrend will continue to grow as the global population increases and places more demands on the planet’s limited natural resources. What does this mean for female entrepreneurs? They may be able to grow by connecting to people through purpose and meaning. Technology may be one way future-focused entrepreneurs can holistically add more purpose and meaning to the lives of both clients and employees.

For example, a forecast by Carbone and Nauth in The Futurist (2012) describes the evolution of the “cloud” from a repository or information to an intelligent resource that can help make decisions and provide assistance. They discuss the cloud evolving from a place to store data to an intelligent resource that will actively help people improve their lives:

Virtual agents will migrate from being an automated form of phone-based customer service to a personalized form of support and assistance that provides information and—more importantly—performs useful tasks. For example, such agents might design a weekly menu based on a family’s health profile, fitness goals, and eating preferences, and automatically order ingredients.

Weekly Menu

This forecast provides an example of how entrepreneurs can use technology to help their organizations innovate with a focus on the future. A transition from cloud-based computing to cloud-based living and learning is an opportunity for female entrepreneurs to create new profit centers and customer experiences while strengthening employee engagement in a more holistic manner.

Three trends supporting the Living with Purpose and Meaning megatrend include: 1) minimalism, 2) life increasingly flowing together instead of being compartmentalized into work, family, recreation, etc., and 3) the quest for greater well-being, health and vitality.

Minimalism is one of the trends shaping the Living with Purpose and Meaning megatrend because people are seeking less stuff and more life. Trend-setting places like the Silicon Valley have embraced minimalism, and this approach to living is influencing everything from living spaces, to workplaces and web design.

People are increasingly learning and living on the go in both the virtual and physical senses, which blurs the lines between family, self-care, work and play. Research has demonstrated that happiness is a precursor to success. These findings question the view that hard work will lead to success, which eventually leads to happiness. Raising levels of positivity in the present creates a “happiness advantage” in the brain, leading to better outcomes in the areas of education, business and well-being.  To learn more, check out Shawn Achor’s 2011 TED Talk:  The Happy Secret to Better Work.

How do these trends influence entrepreneurship? As more people want to connect with their purpose, find meaning in their lives, and increase their vitality, businesses and communities should take a more people-centered approach focused on meaning, well-being and the mind-body connection, supported by the right social networks, experiences and technologies. A few ideas might include:

  • Integrating holistic, healthy living and self-care principles into business practices in an effort to create better employee and customer experiences and to create more value in products and services.
  • Providing coaching for employees to help them uncover their purpose and to create strategies and structures to support meaningful actions designed to improve their careers and lives.
  • Adding physical activity and fun into the workday in an effort to stimulate creativity, decrease stress, build camaraderie and strengthen overall wellness. 

It’s time to focus on the whole person and what life means to each individual. Helping people find their fulfillment, purpose and definition of success may provide future-focused leaders and entrepreneurs with tools to innovate their organizations and communities. Businesses should find new ways to add increased value to the lives of customers, employees and families. People can choose where they want to work, shop and live. They also choose how to invest their time and money. Businesses that add the most value, including those in rural areas, will have the competitive advantage.

Coaching Tips for Female Entrepreneurs:

  1. Develop a clear purpose. Clarity of purpose creates a meaningful path to success. A great coaching tool to use: Create a vision board with your “why” in mind.
  2. Define core values. A business should develop core values that truly represent its brand. Empowered consumers connect with brands and businesses that have core values similar to their own. Outline the core values of your business and what each value means. A great strategic plan can evolve from clear core values. Create visual images for each value and make your values public. Share them with world. They help tell your story.
  3. Make self-care a priority. Physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being are all important. Successful entrepreneurs and their teams need time for creativity and a lot of energy to grow their ventures!
  4. Get positive. A positive mindset has been scientifically proven to support everything from creativity and innovation to increased sales and employee engagement.  If you need more help learning how to be more positive, begin coloring your way to happiness with Blue the Bee Learns to Be Happy! (Reimers-Hild and Wetizenkamp, 2015).

Blue the Bee Cover

  1. Practice gratitude. Keep a physical or digital journal and write in it daily.  Writing down 3-5 things you are grateful for everyday will help your brain focus on the positive while helping your notice new opportunities!
  2. Share the stories that enhance the brand with your team and your customers. Use social media platforms to create and present meaningful content worth reading and sharing. People connect with experiences and stories behind the products and services they use!
  3. HAVE FUN! Fun is absolutely invaluable. It decreases stress and improves relationship. Fun is also a foundation to creativity and innovation.  This is an area I expand upon in my first book, Go Wild with Confidence! (Reimers-Hild, 2013).

Check out the video below focusing on Megatrend 2:  Living with Purpose and Meaning.  And, let us know what you are doing to improve your life.

Go Wild with Your Future! And, as always-Be YOU and Do Something Cool!

-Dr. Connie

InnovateHER: 2015 Innovating for Women Business Challenge in Lincoln, NE March 26

This is AWESOME!!

I received the press release for the InnovateHER:  2015 Innovating for Women Business Challenge in Lincoln, NE on March 26 and had to share it with all of you.  

Go Wild with Your Creativity and Ideas, Support Women and Go For It!

Be You & Do Something Cool!

-Dr. Connie

 

OMAHA–The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Nebraska District Office invites entrepreneurs with an idea or product to improve the lives of women and families to compete in Lincoln at the InnovateHER: 2015 Innovating for Women Business Challenge.

The challenge is scheduled for March 26 starting at 11 a.m. at the Southeast Community College Entrepreneurship Center, 285 South 68th Street, Suite 214, Lincoln.

During the competition in Lincoln, contestants will offer a business plan pitch explaining their product or idea. The winner will be eligible to contend for one of the final ten national slots and a chance to win a cash prize in Washington, D.C. during National Small Business Week May 4-8.

The SBA wants to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of America’s women and men by providing needed resources and technical assistance to business owners and innovators.

InnovateHER: 2015 Innovating for Women Business Challenge is an engaging women business challenge in which the SBA will facilitate unearthing and empowering entrepreneurs.

The competition in Lincoln is open to entrepreneurs throughout Nebraska, both women and men, who are developing products or services that have a measurable positive impact on the lives of women and families, has the potential for commercialization, and fills a need in the marketplace. As demands on women and families grow in our society, the need for products, services, and technology addressing those needs increases.

For more information and for a complete list of rules and a formal application, please call Elizabeth Yearwood, Economic Development Specialist at the SBA, at (402) 221-7200 or email Elizabeth.yearwood@sba.gov. Applications must be completed and submitted no later than 4 p.m. March 16 to be eligible for the challenge in Lincoln March 26.

For more information regarding SBA, please visit our website at: http://www.sba.gov/ne.

 

Fred: The Key Indicator of “Gone-to-Muchness”

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Fred: The key indicator of “Gone-to-Muchness”

I think Fred is trying to tell me something!

Granted, Fred usually gets pretty upset when I get the suitcase out and start packing.  But, this was the first time he actually sat in it!  Animals have great instincts, and he is sharing an important message with me.

It has been a busy couple of months and it is now time to do some “Spring Cleaning” of life, which includes my home, office and vehicle!  I need to clean out the old so I make room to invite in the new.  An all around freshening up of my Inner Leader is in order!

How do you go about “Spring Cleaning” your life and work?  How do you Spring Clean your Inner Leader to make room for innovation in family, work, business and life?

Go Wild with Spring Cleaning Life!

-Dr. Connie