August 31, 2015
Biz Books

Tips for managing the ups and downs of entrepreneurism

"Survive to Thrive — 27 Practices of Resilient Entrepreneurs, Innovators and Leaders" by Faisal Hoque and Lydia Dishman (Motivational Press, $19.95).

There's no such thing as an overnight success. Entrepreneurial dreams are always in "immediate, clear and present danger of demise." Finding the upside when you're upside down requires resilience. Through stories of entrepreneurs, the authors identified 27 resilience practices. Here's some of what you'll learn:

1. "I am caring for myself." When you're on the downside, it's easy to "blame oneself, feel sorry, and/or put oneself down." A self-inflicted pity party makes it difficult to realize that you can make things work. Think about what you do have going for you; connect thoughts and actions to them, and forge ahead.

4. "I am able to guide my destiny." Risk comes with every new venture. Worrying about what's around the corner won't help you through today. Nor will playing "shoulda coulda" relative to past decisions. Learn from what's happened. Today's decisions drive tomorrow's results.

13. "I have a circle of support." Turn "I" into "We." People who count on you are also those you can count on. Your family, friends, employees, other stakeholders, etc. have vested interests in your idea's success. They provide valuable resources as sounding boards, advisors and cheerleaders.

16. "I have to commit to give it my all." Intention isn't enough. When you throw a ball, aim determines direction; the momentum of your follow through determines velocity. When your commitment wavers, you always lose momentum.

The commitment isn't just to your business; it involves your personal life, too. You have to balance your time so your circle of support remains committed to you.

27. "I can meditate." Research shows that meditation can reduce anxiety, promote well-being and increase self-awareness. Think of meditation as a "gym membership for your mind." There's an app that teaches you how; check out headspace.com for a free trial.

Speaking of apps: Resilience requires reminders. Check out the authors' free app at app.survivetothrive.pub.

• • •

"Meetings Matter: 8 Powerful Strategies for Remarkable Conversations" by Paul Axtell (Jackson Creek Press, $24.95).

Who hasn't complained about meetings that take time away from meaningful work? Axtell believes that, if structured properly, meetings drive outcomes because they present a venue for airing various perspectives and sharing information.

Of his eight strategies, I believe one, two and four are critical:

1. "Choose the perspective: This matters." Preparation and attitude drive results. Both are in your control. When you come to a meeting as an owner, your preparation and attitude differs from that of a participant. When preparing, think about what you can do to make the meeting more successful. Your preparation should include talking to others about what they may gain from the meeting. It's a subtle way to get them on the owner page.

2. "Master effective conversation." People want to be heard. Listening without interrupting spurs conversation. How? It shows you're paying attention to what's being said. Three little words, "tell me more," build a conversation. When people know their input has value, they'll become owners, not participants and prepare accordingly.

When you do speak, remember: "You are responsible not only for what you say, but for how it is received." Forget "I"; think "we" as you frame what you're going to say.

4. "Decide what matters and who cares." This deals with meetings you schedule. The agenda should only include items that require group attention.

Parse out the time for the agenda topics. Stick to the timetable; if you don't, some items that need to be discussed will get short shrift.

Invite only those who are most affected by the agenda items. This ensures their attention to preparation.

Key takeaway: Pay particular attention to the "Speaking Checklist" and "Conversational rules to master" in appendix D.

Jim Pawlak is a nationally syndicated book reviewer.

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