The Times They Are A-Changing: Managing Fear

By Emily Lonigro

Do you feel something is changing? I do. It’s everywhere and I can’t quite name it yet. It feels deep and systemic, something much bigger than just me or you. Are you feeling it too?

During the past 2 months, I’ve been feeling this big change coming and I’ve been working on managing fear. It’s like an undercurrent to every conversation I’ve had. Usually, I can turn up my entrepreneurial mojo and crank out a ton of work and just blast full steam ahead with a singular goal, and I’ve been doing that for about 4 weeks solid now. I’ve done it a million times over the past 15 years — you know how exciting it is to think up a new plan and start the wheels in motion. It’s the part of my job that I love the most.

This time, something is different, and it’s not just me this time. I’ve been talking to foundations, our competition, partner agencies, B Corp CEOs, women in my network, clients, and really anyone I can get for 15 minutes. Everyone is saying the same thing: something feels different and we’re not sure what it is.

I’m not sure either. But here are a few things I do know and I’m hearing from everyone else:

1. There is a clear shift to bring more purpose and intention into our day.

We don’t separate work and life. It’s one big thing and it can be overwhelming. The things we do and say make us who we are, so when one of those pieces doesn’t jive with the rest, we face big problems like self-doubt, anxiety, and anger. When you’re in charge of things, like a business, this can become extremely messy. Finding the right people to talk to, whether a network or a paid advisor is the way through. Because the only way out is through.

I’m seeing more consultants and small advisory practices focusing on self-care, mindfulness, and bringing intention and meaning to clients’ lives. There has been a big focus on the rise of the entrepreneur and the startup, the leader who grinds all day and has a singular vision of success through disruption. Are we getting burned out? Are we spending all of our time working and forgetting about what binds us together as human beings? Or are just spending too much time on Instagram?

I hear a collective need for coming back to mission, purpose, intent, and meaning, especially in the business world. There’s a desire to work less and experience more.

2. We are getting used to working and living in a climate of uncertainty.

The uncertain political climate destroys my business. When we didn’t have a budget in Illinois for a few years, almost all of our work dried up with our biggest client. We know the same happened for a lot of our consultant friends and nonprofits lost funding and resources across the board.

This new political uncertainty that we are all witnessing every day is something else. It is changing our spending habits; we’re less likely to sign up for something for a longer term. We’re hoarding cash because we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. We are hearing about a coming recession, and we’re all wondering what’s going to happen.

Most of my competitors are talking about this. Some of them are digging in, some are getting out, and some are changing. We’re wondering what’s going to happen to our business and a lot of us are making pivots in our service lines and pricing structures to get ahead of it. We’re taking bets.

What does this mean? It means we’re realizing that business, as usual, isn’t working as usual and it’s up to us to keep things moving and for the betterment of our communities. This climate of uncertainty is designed to separate us and keep us alone and scared. I think a lot of us are at the point where we recognize: “yes, those people in charge of policy and big business are bananas crazy, but I need to keep my enterprise going to support my staff and family, so I’m going to keep going and do what I need to do to do that.” We recognize we are part of a system and we’re better of joining forces than going it alone. So let those crazies be crazy and let’s stand for something more.

3. We are slowly getting over being afraid.

I don’t know about you, but I used to be afraid almost all the time up until maybe a few months ago when I got to a breaking point. I finally realized that all of this worrying about uncertainty and what I SHOULD be doing wasn’t making my life any better. In fact, it was killing me.

Thinking back to when I started my business in 2004, I did that because I was tired of selling people crap based on the fear of not being good enough, or having some “other” person take everything away, or the fear of not keeping up or missing out. I rebelled against that idea in marketing, but most of everyone else didn’t. And marketing embraced it. So part of the issue why we’re all feeling like we’re falling behind because we let the marketing get to us.

This fear and anxiety is created by marketers, either deliberately or accidentally. It’s why we love and hate Facebook and why we are addicted to knee-jerk spending on Amazon. It’s a quick fix to a bigger problem: we’re afraid. We’re buying things that fix it for a moment, but in the long term we’ll just end up deeper in debt and at the mercy of the 1%.

I’m seeing a new trend emerging: one of fearlessness. Slowly, I’m seeing more honest questions, more support networks, and more authentic marketing that’s about creating real conversations.

I’m not sure what will be the result of all this, but I do know there is a new way and an old way. The old way is based on exclusion, fear, and profit. The new way is based on collaboration, honesty, and impact.

This is where I’m really excited. I know that the methods of design thinking, when used deliberately and inclusively are perfect for getting at the heart of the matter. It’s not always easy, but the results are always honest and insightful. This has been our practice for a long time now — extending far beyond branding and web development — and I think we’re in the right place at the right time to help more people make real change.

For us, this is the path that’s unfolding: our practice is about uncovering truths, defining a path forward, and inspiring and including. It’s less about the things we produce and more about teaching the tools and practices that help make the world better.

I created this model for to you get a sense of where you are in this uncertain time. Is your org or business responding or reacting? Is it from fear or inspiration?

 

[button style="red" float="left" margin="" size="small" link="https://www.limeredstudio.com/download/6779/" target=""]Click here to download my FEAR or INSPIRATION, RESPOND or REACT Worksheet[/button]


Stay Inspired

This poem has always been close to my heart. When the gremlins of fear and failure begin to sneak in, it keeps me grounded and reminds me of why I am here. Tell us, what poem keeps you inspired?

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON

author, lecturer


Oh you don't do 'business cards'? Greeeeat.

 

If you have been out networking lately, you may have come across a new kind of networker. The ultra-cool, tech-savvy business professional that no longer involves themselves with the incumbrances of archaic tools such as...the business card.

Typically, you will get a response like, “Oh, yeah, I don’t DO business cards, but I will find you on LinkedIn” or my favorite (and yes, this is a true story) “If people want to find me, they’ll find me. Just remember who I am and search for me”. I kid you not. Allow me to share with you why this is not only an ineffective business practice but is, for all intents and purposes, blatant poor manners.

If you are at an event where business building is the purpose, others have come with the intention of connecting with you, engaging with you, (if you are in the right group) finding ways to connect you and following up with you. Not having a business card forces that other person to either find a place to make a note on how to find you or who they wanted to connect you with. This is a person that WANTS to be of service to you, to help you, or to send you business...why make them work for it?

If you are going to connect to them via LinkedIn, that only creates more work for you. Typically, the connection starts with a connection request and then an IM and then eventually it moves into an email or phone conversation. If you have a card, that person not only has a physical representation of your brand but a way to reach out to you without having to search all over the place or wait for you to connect with them. In networking, effective follow up is the name of the game, and your lack of card starts you out with a disability.  

In the professional networking world, brand and first impressions are EVERYTHING. They are the first step in establishing trust, integrity, and professionalism. It’s such a small investment that has such a huge payoff. Once that card is in someone else’s hand it also allows you to track things like:

  • Do they follow up like they said that they would?
  • Do they remember what I do and does my card give them enough info to remember?
  • How many cards am I going through vs. how many people am I truly connecting with?

Being able to effectively measure your efforts is key to business building, and if all it takes is a solid business card, isn’t it worth it?

Need help with your networking strategies, brand or a new business card? We’d be happy to help!  marie@atrevneue.com


Gratitude: Mission Critical

We typically stroll through our business day with a polite ‘thank you’ here and there. Our businesses may offer a cash bonus for referrals and if we have a holiday gifting program, some groans as we sign the STACKS of cards. Blerg.
You know what we are excellent at? COMPLAINING! I know… sometimes it is just letting off steam, sometimes it is an offhanded comment that needed to be released and sometimes it is a little more sinister. This, my fellow business leaders, is an epidemic. Have you ever realized how much easier it is to show gratitude for a small to a medium event, but it’s almost uncomfortable to show HUGE gratitude for a grand gesture?  It’s psychologically harder for us to celebrate the big gifts or wins than it is to complain about the little stuff.

I have so much chaos in my life, it's become normal. You become used to it. You have to just relax, calm down, take a deep breath and try to see how you can make things work rather than complain about how they're wrong. Tom Welling

I experienced this first hand as the waves of love and assistance poured out after Jim’s passing.There were never the words to say “thank you,” to the people who helped me survive, return to my life and start moving forward. It was scary to realize I could never fully express how thankful I was. Whoa - big. Too big. But….

This year I think it’s time to take some brave steps to that place of radical gratitude.

I am not talking about cheesy cheese: “We’re thankful for you” flyers offering a 10% discount on yackity schmackity. BOOOORING, and also not gratitude. It’s a tired sales techniques and it’s insulting. Stop it.I’m talking about a lifestyle of gratitude. A business practice that celebrates the blessings that come from each lesson, client and coworker.

If you have a hard conversation that allows you perspective - CELEBRATE.

When you have a miscommunication and you are both able to get back on the same page and team - CELEBRATE.

If you have a week that is simply full of laughter - CELEBRATE.

I know this is going to trigger a bunch of knee-jerk no’s. It’s going to be expensive, it’s going to take work, I am so busy….Yep!

Ok, it doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does have to come from the heart and that takes effort. But guess what people do when they feel valued? THEY GIVE MORE! They try harder, they return the favor and they take it to other parts of their lives. So be a part of RADICAL GRATITUDE...what can it hurt?

What if you were able to ask every single client and employee or vendor at your org if they felt that you are grateful for their contributions? How many of those answers would you be afraid to hear? I implore you to make gratitude part of your mission. Empower your staff to show acts of gratitude grand and small. What could a $50 a month ‘Gratitude Budget’ do for your company, internally and externally?

Let’s start now: thank you for reading this blog!

Marie Hale is the owner and co-founder of @revenue, a sales and marketing collaborative dedicated to changing the world, one business owner at a time. Marie was also very proud to have been honored with the Midwest Women in Tech Leadership Award in the area of Marketing & Media 2017.