How To Future Proof Your Business

Hi, everybody and welcome back. In this blog post, I want to talk to you about seven ways you can future proof yourself. Now, there is a lot of changes that happen all the time in the market, in platforms, in technology and when those changes happen, I never really get scared because I’ve put a tremendous amount of time and energy into future proofing myself. A few of the skills that I’ve developed are having a great creative eye and being able to learn anything, having great salesmanship skills, having good communication skills. Those are just a few of the things, but I’m going to go into some others. What if plan A, plan B, plan C doesn’t work out for you? How are you going to make the shift? How are you going to pivot in order to make sure that your career stays viable and you stay successful?

It’s really dangerous to identify yourself with your job or with your career, or with your field in a really deep internal way. You have to stay to a certain extent, flexible, and be able to evolve with changes in the world as they happen. Now in many ways, the future is now. There is so much change going on in the world. Here are just a few of the things that have been changing that have caused people to have to evolve, to have to pivot, to have to learn new skills. The development of the internet, of course that was a long time ago, but now there’s a huge explosion in mobile and also in applications. The rise of artificial intelligence, the rise of a 3D and virtual reality, the death of retail. So, malls are disappearing and physical retail is going through huge shifts.

Populations are moving to the cities. So, populations in rural areas is declining. There’s this huge trend in the end of job security. So, long-term job security is one of the things that’s kind of become a thing of the past. There’s a massive explosion in entrepreneurship. There’s this huge rise in the number of independent contractors that there are in the world. There’s an amazing amount of change going on in the world all the time and being able to future proof yourself so you can stay relevant in your professional career and with your company is incredibly important. So, now I’m going to share a few of those things with you.

1: Focus on solving people’s problems, not on a job description.

It’s really easy to create a personal identity or a sense of self around a particular narrow job description, and that’s really dangerous because the world is changing so quickly. You want to be able to evolve. You want to be able to learn new things and be open to learning new things. So, focusing on solving people’s problems as the key focus of what you do is what’s going to really help you stay future-proof. You have to develop empathy, you have to get really good at listening. You have to understand and care about people’s problems because then you can focus on developing the solution and that’s how you’re going to get paid for what you do.

2: Developing great research skills and great communication skills.

Communication skills are probably the most important skill that you can have, period, both written and verbally because communication skills are the most important thing to have in just about every job description in the world. Also, research skills, and what I mean by research skills are the ability to gather insights, so that’s gather trend information, gather competitive data, sort through proof points because these are the sorts of things that are going to support your points of view and also support the decisions that you make for your own business and also for your client’s businesses.

3: Making sure that you embrace new technology and that you become an early adopter.

Technology changes so quickly and it affects just about every job description in the world. So, paying attention to what’s happening in technology and continually learning and continuing to be open to learning new things and new applications and new processes, and not resting on your laurels on one particular thing that you do is an incredibly important thing when it comes to future-proofing yourself. You want to be able to learn new skills and new apps and understand new industries, and new business languages because that kind of flexibility in that kind of growth and evolution in you is what’s going to help you in your career.

4: Developing an independent body of work.

It’s very easy if you work in a corporation and work in an agency to rely on that external company that you work for to kind of establish your sense of self and your personal presence. You have to pay really close attention to establishing your own beachhead, to owning your own land, so to speak. You have to develop your own website, your own writing, your own content development and your own social media presence. Even if you work for other companies or agencies, you want to make sure that you’re continuing to work on developing an independent presence and an independent body of work outside of the job that you have.

5: Never romanticize your industry.

Categories of industry change all the time. Things come and go. There’s probably someone out there who thought they were going to be selling CDs their whole life or doing video rentals and retail their whole life. Things change. The steel industry, gone. The retail toy industry, getting totally changed. Website design even has gone incredibly quickly to template design. Social media advertising has also become automated in a lot of regards. So, you can’t rust on your laurels. You have to have your eyes wide open and pay very close attention because the industry that you are working on or working in could very well be changing over time. So, don’t romanticize the fact that you think your industry is going to last forever because chances are it might not. So, keep your eyes open.

6: You have to assume that one day you’re going to get fired or you’re going to get laid off.

No job lasts forever. People these days generally have six to eight jobs in their life and they sometimes in many cases work in three to four different industries in their life. So, you may have a job that’s very secure and you really like it right now, but you have to assume that one day the company you’re in, or the agency you’re in is going to be acquired by another company and they’re going to do a huge reorganization and you’re going to get laid off. That’s one of the reasons why I said you have to make sure you’re building an independent presence all the time, but in order to future-proof yourself, you just have to be cognizant and internalize and understand the fact that someday you may get laid off.

That way if it eventually does happen, you’re not going to get caught by surprise. You’re going to have the pieces in place. You’re going to have the foundation in place to move to the next thing and you’re going to have your eyes open about your industry and what’s changing. So, you’re going to be able to pay attention to where it is you need to go. You’re going to have great trend gathering and research skills to be able to have a good view of what the competitive landscape is and where the business world is gaining speed and where it might be slowing down so you can make the right choices for your career, for the next step of your career or the next step of your business, that’s informed.

7: Overarching one.

You have to learn to pivot. You have to understand that you may have to shift directions when disruption occurs. You have to be prepared to move when the market moves. You have to watch the market. You have to pay attention to trends and new emerging industries. Now, motion and video, and AI and drones, and virtual reality and smart appliances, all of these things have come up in the last five to eight years. There are brand new markets. There are brand new things happening that you may be able to move into or leverage into or learn about in order to future proof yourself for the longevity of your career. You want to continually nurture alternate skills. So, if you’re a graphic designer, you may want to learn about photography or animation or you finances, or sales, or music, or software development.

By continuing push your skill set boundaries, you are going to future proof yourself. So, that’s it. I hope you enjoyed this blog post on seven ways you can future proof yourself.

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Understand Some Ways That You Can Boost Your Confidence Before You Regret

I think that there’s a crisis of confidence out there. I’ve been getting a lot of comments recently from people that are saying things like, “I don’t have the confidence to do that. I don’t have that confidence in my graphic design skills. I don’t have the confidence with my clients when I’m presenting.” There is this crisis of confidence. So I wanted to share some ways that you can boost your confidence, boost your self-esteem. So here are nine ways that you can be more confident starting today.

1: Build confidence

Confidence comes by doing. Confidence is a product of doing something over and over and over. Confidence doesn’t come, doesn’t show up the first time you try something. In fact, the first time you try something, chances are it’s going to suck a little bit. The fifth time it might be a little better. 20th time it might be approaching good. And over time, that’s how you build confidence. No one goes into something new with confidence. Confidence is built.2: Don’t compare yourself to others

You want to set your ruler of success today. You want to start today and say, “Today I’m going to be 1% better at something.” And if you’re 1% better at something every day, at the end of a year, you’re going to be 365% better at it. Confidence comes from repetition, and incremental change in small increments really, really helps, and that’s how you build confidence. It happens over time.

3: Just show up

90% of success is just showing up. You want to show up for your business, you want to show up for your business partners, you want to show up for your significant other. You want to show up for your family. Just showing up and doing your best and trying to learn and trying to improve will build confidence over time. So give yourself a pat on the back for just showing up.

4: You have to celebrate your accomplishments

You want to take a moment, no matter how big or how small the accomplishment was, you want to take a moment and celebrate it. I do something that’s really kind of silly, but it actually works, which is I actually physically pat myself on the back and say, “Great job,” when I win a new client, have a great presentation. It establishes a level of congratulations that injects itself into your psyche over time and it really helps to build confidence. It’s very easy to lose perspective or just move from one thing to another, we’re all moving so quickly, to not take a step back, to take a moment and appreciate when you actually accomplish something. So celebrate your accomplishments.

5: Learn something new.

Whenever you learn a new skill set, whenever you add a level of capability to your war chest, it will make you more confident. So by going out and training and trying something different and learning something new, it will add value to you professionally and it will build your confidence.6: Exercise

By building your strength physically, getting out and moving your body, increasing your muscle tone, increasing your endurance, it has an effect on you emotionally. Exercise is one of the best ways to feel more confident. It will give you more energy. It will give you more stamina. And I guarantee you, it will reflect on everything that you do.

7: Eliminate negative people out of your life

Negativity is like a flesh-eating disease. You want to be surgical about how you cut negativity out of your life. You want to surround yourself with people that you admire, people who are positive, people who have what you want, people who you can emulate in their success and their activity and how they go about their life. If you are surrounding yourself with negative people, it is going to do nothing but erodes your confidence and bring you down.

8: Help others

By helping others, it will add to your self-esteem, it will add to your self-confidence. By being of value and passing on energy, positive energy, things of value to other people and helping them succeed in their lives and in business, it will make you feel better about yourself. There’s a great quote by a marketing expert named Zig Ziglar, and I’ve said this before in previous videos, but it’s, “You can get everything you want out of life if you help other people get everything they want out of life.” By helping other people, it will boost your self-esteem. It will boost your confidence by lifting other people up and helping them be successful, it will help you be successful.And in concert with that, you want to give compliments freely. Now, you like getting compliments, right? It helps you feel confident, it helps you feel better about yourself, has more self-esteem. By giving compliments to other people, it does the same thing for them and it actually reflects on you and your psyche and will make you feel better about yourself. So number eight, help others. It will really increase your self-esteem and your self-confidence.

9: Act confidently:

I know it sounds kind of silly, but there’s this phrase that says, “Fake it till you make it.” And I’m not saying fake being confident, but there’s a TED video by a woman named Amy Cuddy. It’s very well known. And she talks about the power pose, where she talks about taking a physical stance, standing upright with your chest out for two minutes. And they’ve actually done studies and found out that this actually makes people have higher self-esteem and feel more confident for a period of time. So there’s an idea of taking a physical stance, raising your voice, having a point of view, holding your head up high, which will actually make you feel more confident. The more you do this, the more you act confident, over time, the more confident you will be, the more comfortable you will be with being confident. So that’s it. I hope you enjoyed this blog post on nine ways to boost your self-confidence.

Best ways to build your network.

Let’s talk about the number one best way to build your network. Now, building a network isn’t about numbers, it’s about quality, it’s about relationships, and as much as you may think that you’re in the product or the service business, you’re actually in the relationship business. So building relationships and establishing trust over time is probably the most important thing that you can do for your business, and it’s also the most important thing and the best way to build your network. What you want to do is you want to stay top of mind in people’s minds. You want to be liked, you want to be inspiring. You want to be considered to be helpful. You want to be considered to be motivational. You want people to want to hear from you. When your email shows up in their inbox, you want to make sure that they want to open it.

Now, how do you do that? Here it is the number one best way to build your network.

Send people stuff. It’s really easy. All you have to do is send people stuff. You have to curate content and send people valuable, inspirational, educational stuff, and not just promotional stuff. So I don’t mean stuff like your social media posts or a link to your latest video or your podcast. What I mean is the stuff that is inspiring to you, has been valuable to you, and with your knowledge of that person’s business you think might be inspiring or motivational to them. If you know that they’re working on in a particular project, you might want to send them an article that kind of relates to that subject or that category of business. You can send people things like articles, or you can send them links to podcasts or videos that you’ve liked, or particular resources. That could be things like software as a service, certain things that you use in your business that you find to be very helpful to you.

It could be other resources. It could be things like fonts or links or image banks. It could be things like websites. It can also be things like trend or inspiration or something that you’ve found that’s been helpful to you or kept you motivated in your business. So why send people stuff? The answer is really simple. It’s because it helps them. It helps them develop their own content. It helps them stay inspired. It may give them content that they could share with their clients or their customers that would be germane to the business of the product or service that they’re working on for them. It gives them stuff that they can share on social media. It gives them stuff that they can share with others and it also makes them smarter and it makes them more relevant. Basically, when it comes down to it, it makes them glad to hear from you and that is the goal. You want to make sure that your network connections are really glad to hear from you.

And why is that important? That’s important because eventually, you may need something from them. Networking is all about giving and take. It’s all about giving value to others and hopefully in time getting value from them. So getting people to the point where they really look forward to hearing from you and look forward to opening your emails is valuable because eventually when you ask for that favor, you ask for that referral, you ask for that introduction, they’re going to be more apt to give it to you. You may be looking for a job referral or you may be looking for a client introduction or some sort of LinkedIn introduction or something like that. So when you ask for that favor they are more likely to say yes. Essentially what you’ve done is you’ve built up equity with them, you’ve built up relationship equity, you’ve built up to help equity or value equity.

So when it comes time for that ask, for that ask of some sort of favor from you to them, they are going to be more likely to say yes. Now, how often should you do it? I think once a week would be good. Anything more than that, and it might be a little obvious, it might be a little badgering. People get a lot of emails as it is and people’s inboxes get inundated, and you want to be chockfull about what you send, so you’re making sure that it is really valuable and you’re not just avalanching them with a whole bunch of stuff that may not be particularly pertinent. Why do I know that this is the number one best way? Well, the answer is my favorite network connections do it for me.

They do it, they send me stuff, they helped me do my job. They give me ideas for content, they give me ideas for my newsletter, they give me ideas for video subjects. They help me inspire my clients and they helped me stay up on-trend. They helped me stay motivated. They helped me stay inspired and subsequently because they send me this stuff, I love opening their emails. I prioritize my communications with them. I prioritize looking at their stuff because I know that it’s going to be helpful to me and I don’t just pass over it or throw it in the trash. And a lot of my business partners who I work on projects with do it. They are always top of mind for me. So remember, you always want to make sure that you’re showing value first without expectation of return because you want to build up that value equity that helps equity with people.

So when the day comes, when you’re going to look for some sort of little favor, they are going to be more likely to say less. So remember, you want to show value first. You want to show value and give value without expectation of return because over time you really want to build up that help equity with your network. So when the time comes and you’re going to have that small ask, that little favor that you need from them, they’re going to be looking forward to opening your emails and they’re going to be more likely to say yes to your request. So that’s it.