5 tips to be a successful leader

When I was working my way up through the business world, I had very few bosses I emulated. It appeared to me that to “make it” to the top, you had to work 100 hours a week and expect your employees to do the same. You had to be somewhat cut-throat and keenly competitive with others at your level within the organization. And it didn’t appear that empathy had anything to do with business.

I know a lot of that still goes on but was encouraged to read an article today in The Washington Post by Aaron Gregg and Thomas Heath about three executives from the DC area who were rated “the highest” by their employees. These are bosses you can look up for who they are – as well as for what they accomplish.

What’s cool is that these principles apply whether you’re running a small, medium, or large company. And they apply if you aren’t running a company at all! They’re simply great life ideas. Continue reading

Eyerolls and sighs

I’m a big believer in following a high energy path with anything you’re working on. If you don’t feel energy at the center of your body when you think about next steps in what you’re doing, it may be time for a change.

Eye rolls and sighs are your body’s clue that you’re on a low energy path. Sometimes these are obvious – oh, my! But sometimes only you can see and hear them like maybe when: Continue reading

The importance of being playful

We had Christopher Phillips in as a speaker at the library this week. Chris is the author of Socrates Cafe and Democracy Cafe which we used to model some of our programs at the library. Chris is an interesting, engaging, fun guy so we asked him back to talk about his latest book, A Child at Heart: Unlocking Your Creativity, Curiosity, and Reason at Every Age and Stage of Life

Here are some of my favorite take-aways from Chris’s talk: Continue reading

Out of a rut and onto a curious path

When you’re in a rut it’s a great idea to get off the path you’re on. You never know what cool thing is just around the corner. Or maybe your next great idea is hiding in front of you in plain sight. All it takes to find it is a little curiosity.

Here are a few ideas to jump-start your energy and get you onto a new, curious path. Continue reading

Business advice from a successful Brewing Entrepreneur

Last week, I facilitated a meeting of a new Entrepreneur’s Group here in Cape Elizabeth. Our guest was Peter Bissell from Bissell Brothers Brewing. If you don’t know anything about the business of brewing, it is thriving! Here in Maine, we have over 130 breweries and that count is growing by the month. If you love beer, Maine is a great place to live and to visit.

But what could we learn from this young entrepreneur? A ton! Here are my notes.

Peter graduated in the UMaine class of 2006 where he got great grades but didn’t learn much. He worked as a professional photographer out of college (“I’ve always been a worker,” he says), but didn’t learn about photography in school – that was all on his own. At the start, he took any job that came his way (Say “Yes!”). He learned the photo business by doing it on the fly – and by talking to people. Weddings were particularly lucrative because each wedding led to more gigs. He did great work and he made connections.

He liked photography and was financially successful, but when Peter’s younger brother Noah starting brewing at age 17 and decided he wanted to do this for a living, Peter jumped in on the game. From the start, they ignored conventional advice and made decisions based more on gut than on number crunching. And where others went to England to learn about brewing, they stayed home and experimented with new recipes to make a unique tasting American beer.

  • Their goal was to “change the landscape of brewing and serving.”
  • They wanted much more than just survival in this growing market.
  • They wanted to make going to a brewery a new experience. Which they do! Folks like up around the block to be the first to try new beers. They serve beer. They serve food. They create joy.

The Brewery is wildly successful, and after only six years they are rolling out overseas with a restaurant brand. Their name is recognized globally thanks to the Internet. And they opened a second brewery in their hometown of Milo, Maine, a former mill town. How cool is that!

When you’re trying to do something new, it’s always nice to chat with someone on the same path. Here are my big takeaways from Peter’s hard-won experience that you can apply to almost anything you’re working on.

  • If you want to make $ you need exposure; get it however you can get it.
  • Anything worthwhile requires taking a risk because you are opening yourself up to judgment by others.
  • Peter has the highest regard for flexibility – be ready to shift with the times.
  • If you have a passion for what you do, no one can take that away from you. It’s a tool.
  • It’s more important to do a great job than it is to advertise.
  • Stay focused: Pay attention to what works and what doesn’t work.
  • Launching a new business takes sacrifice of hours and money; cut all expenses to put every penny toward the new business.
  • “You can learn about anything if you give it the time.”
  • Each step you take moves you one step away from your competition – even if it’s just a baby step.
  • Find a hole in the industry you’re interested in and fill it. Also, look at the marketplace to see what you DON’T want to do.
  • A great product needs great packaging.
  • Learn something every day or you’ll lose your spot. “The competitor is you – it’s you against yourself.”
  • Read all the time; don’t stop and start to coast. Make a habit of being a life-long learner.
  • Make it your goal to constantly top your customers’ expectations.
  • You have to find joy in what you do to balance out the drudgery of running a business.
  • Learn about how to use Social Media. It’s worse to do it badly than to not do it at all. Take good photos – not stock; not pixellated. Use your phone to take shots on a consistent basis. Find the stories; take and post the pictures. Peter does this up to 3x a day!
  • Create a logo that stands on its own as an icon, that’s unique, that makes people curious, and that’s clean and easy to re-produce for media and t-shirts.
  • “Luck is being open to serendipity.”
  • “Don’t listen to what everyone tells you to do.” Keep your head down and stay focused.
  • “When you hit it right, it’s like you have superpowers.”

Here are a few of Peter’s book recommendations

  • Robert Greene, 48 Laws of Power and Mastery (how the world works)
  • Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In (women in business)
  • Any and every book by Seth Godin (Purple Cow, This is Marketing; there are many!)
  • Oren Klaff, Pitch Anything (on fundraising – Peter raised $186,000 in 4 months)
  • Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle is the Way and Ego is the Enemy

I hope you find this as inspiring as I did! Now off to find your superpowers 🙂

I’ll leave you this morning with a shot from the old farm where I live. Come on, Spring!

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Getting out of the nest

I stumbled on this quote from Pema Chodron in a book I was reading this week:

“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.”

Isn’t that counter-intuitive? When you’re organized and doing good work, doesn’t that mean you keep control of your time and your days? And when you’re truly engaged with your work, isn’t that when you feel fully alive and awake? And when you’re “continually thrown out of the nest,” doesn’t that feel crazy and chaotic? Continue reading

The gift of time

I drove my daughter to NYC this weekend and helped her move into a new apartment in Harlem. The time I had with Bea got me thinking about the gift of time. Most of us don’t know how much time we have here on earth so it’s easy to waste it. It seems like we have an unlimited amount of time so why worry about it? Continue reading