Monthly Archives

September 2016

Pawn it Off – Do Less and Grow More

By | Be Honest | No Comments

 

A key component to maintaining your sanity is knowing when you’re approaching your breaking point. Get ahead of the meltdown by “pawning it off.” No, I don’t mean taking all of your stuff down to the Pawn Stars shop and selling it to Chum Lee. I’m referring to delegating tasks.

The best managers do not make “to-do” lists. They make “not-to-do” lists.

Delegating is not always easy, but while having a senior-level employee doing the work of an entry/mid-level employee may get you through a tight spot, it will not fuel ongoing company growth or maximize profitability. In a start-up environment, there is always a fire. There is always something that can pull management away from strategic growth and developing process efficiencies.

I am like a broken record. (Most SoapBoxers have never had to endure the pain of the skipping record. Since I don’t want them to miss out, I fill that void.). Focus on the highest payoff tasks. Focus on the highest payoff tasks. Focus on the highest payoff tasks. Get it? I am always asking, is it crucial for YOU to do it or can someone else take care of it?

By passing the torch, you are also allowing others an opportunity to learn something new.

I was taught early on in my career that if I was always focused on training my successor, I would always move up – and so would they.    

This scares the crap out of some people. People are insecure. They are afraid someone may be better than them. They want to hold on to being the only one who can do something – people think THIS makes them valuable. It doesn’t. It just feeds ego and makes the company vulnerable. Pawning it off (correctly) can be one of your best tools. Your team will be stronger and you can focus on those high payoff tasks.

Today’s BLOG is the last installment of the Sane September series. Hopefully you’ve found some of these tips and hints helpful, and are one step farther away from losing your sh*t.

If you would like to share any of your own ideas on maintaining your sanity while leading a startup, or running a business, tweet me @jax_rosales.

 

HALT — Stop, In the Name of Love

By | Be Clear, Be Genuine, Be Honest, Be Reasonable | No Comments

 

In our business and personal lives, we have to undoubtedly deal with confrontation – both planned and unplanned. It may be in person, telephonically, electronically or even telepathically (that may be stretching it, but sounds cool). We can choose to ignore it, let it control us or actually respond in a productive way. Probably the worst thing to do, is just react in the moment without actually thinking it through. Then all kinds of messes are created. I have found practicing the self-discipline to Halt, has saved me many a heartache. And when I don’t halt, well then someone ends up not very happy.

Halt
/hôlt/

verb
bring or come to an abrupt stop.

noun
a suspension of movement or activity, typically a temporary one.

Since I am a dork, I thought an acronym for HALT would not only bring us back to out 7th grade study habit, but maybe, just maybe, help one poor soul not make an ass of themselves next time they are faced with confrontation.

H. Hush

Take a deep breath. Yes, seriously. Besides the fact that breathing allows more oxygen to travel throughout your body, that brief pause may save you from that Reply All in CAPS or raising your voice.

A. Ask

Taking the time to ask these questions may just help you with H and L. What you can constructively contribute or learn will get you further than “how can I win?”.

a. What can I learn here?
b. What is my part in this?
c. How can be helpful or turn this into a productive exchange?

L. Listen

Hear what the person saying. Listen, seriously. In order to actually hear, you have to do three things. 1) shut up 2) stop focusing on your clever comeback and 3) pause and give the person to a chance to say what they have to say (even if you already know it is idiotic). Listening, can actually diffuse a tense or heated state without even needing to say anything. Trust me, my staff has this one mastered.

T. Thank

Whaaatttttt? Are you serious? Yes, I am. This is part of learning, to respond and not just react. Note; there is a difference between reacting and responding – look it up. I swear they are not the same thing.

The Muse wrote an article in Forbes; they mentioned another great element that is worth implementing – “Thank him or her for sharing feedback with you. Don’t gloss over this—be deliberate, and say, ‘I really appreciate you taking the time to talk about this with me.’ Expressing appreciation doesn’t have to mean you’re agreeing with the assessment, but it does show that you’re acknowledging the effort your colleague took to evaluate you and share his or her thoughts.”

If you would like the other person(s) to change how they have spoken to you, now is the time to think of how you can help them communicate with you better. Try something like” “Hey I hear what you are saying (see the H in Halt) and I want to make this situation better too.” Using ‘and’ instead of ‘but’ is a crucial communication tool. It’s the ‘wax on, wax off’ secret to successful communication.

Have some tips of your own to share? Even if they are not in the form of a clever acronym, I’d love to hear them. Tweet me @jax_Rosales

Sane September Week 2 – Encourage Random Acts of Weirdness [AKA Fun]

By | Be Honest, Have Fun, Take Risks | No Comments

As we head into that last month before the craziness of fourth quarter, we thought it would be fun to share some tips to Stay Sane in September. Last week we talked about beating office fatigue and taking breaks. This week we are focused on lightening up and living a little. You know, having fun? That think some people only do when they are not at work?

Multiple Choice Quiz

Which of the following is an activity I have NOT done with my staff?

  1. Raced through a mud-filled obstacle course, requiring rope climbing and crawling under wires
  2. Played a live escape game, where each team searched for clues to unlock the doors from an insane asylum/military bunker
  3. Held a competition where each team had to construct a robot using only items from the dollar store
  4. Forced my staff to perform a choreographed cheer about SoapBox and perform it in front of a crowd outside the gates of Universal Studios

Answer: C, Well not yet anyway. The robot-building contest goes down next month.

Which of the following items would someone NOT find in the SoapBox office?

  1. A statue of a rooster playing the trumpet the purchased off the streets of New Orleans and shipped in a box the size of a washing machine back to the office
  2. A larger-than-life-sized cardboard cutout of David Hasselhoff sitting on a throne left over from a themed party at my house
  3. A miniature replica of a Truffula tree (y’know the one, from Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax)
  4. A basket full of SoapBox-branded bubble-blowing bottles. (Try saying that five times fast.)

Answer: This was a trick question; you can find all of this stuff in our office. Ha!

So why do we do these seemingly-un-work-related things? And why is our office filled with weird stuff that has nothing to do with Market Research? Well, 1.) because I am a little nuts and 2.) because it makes us feel good. It’s fun. We want to be different. Being different doesn’t just boost creativity and help us see things in new ways, but from an outside viewpoint, it also allows our culture and brand personality to differentiate ourselves from our competition.

Market Research can be a little stiff and traditional. Dare I say it is not the most exciting industry on the planet (shocking, I know). The SoapBox company culture is built on the premise of shaking things up, and offering something genuine and fresh; hence our tagline, Wanna Get Fresh?.

The most exciting thing to me about being startup leader, is molding and shaping a company culture, and creating the type of company I’ve always wanted to work for. Who wouldn’t want to work for a mud running, Hoff loving, 5’3” maniac?

Sane September — 4 Tools to Bust Burnout

By | Have Fun, Inspire Ideas, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others | No Comments

Before robots take over the workplace, most of us still have to work with our fellow humans, whether we like it or not. Unlike robots, humans need help to stay motivated, focused, and sane.

Occasionally, the things we do to keep ourselves sane at SoapBox may seem a little bizarre. Employees are allowed (encouraged) to participate in the seemingly ridiculous. Yes, at times it is disruptive and I am totally ok with that. Truthfully, I am typically the biggest the disruptor around. I personally believe that breaks and recreation (aka fun) lead to greater productivity and the kind of bonding that makes for great company culture (aka people like working here more than they don’t).

Feel free to try out some of our antics. Or send us some of yours. We are always looking for new things. The staff, in particular, is always looking for new things that keep me from forcing them to participate in some sort of physical outdoor event.

  1. Office Olympics

Monday has a tendency to be the most “sluggish” day out of the week. Everyone is back in their chairs, blowing the dust off of their keyboards and responding to all of the emails that they “missed” over the weekend. To get the Monday blood flowing, we have downloaded this app called Sworkit.

This is how it works: every 30 seconds the instructor demonstrates a new stretching exercise and every 15 seconds we switch sides (if the exercise can be done to the right and left side.) Since the majority of us aren’t Olympic athletes, we stumble, fall over, and laugh at one another’s expense. One warning: if you want to institute this activity in your office, maybe warn the women not to wear skirts or heels that day.

  1. Decorate for Decompression

I draft more emails than the NFL does prospects and it would be extremely draining if my office resembled a mental prison. To stay sane, I love to keep art on the walls so that my brain can wonder off and absorb some creative vibes. They say seeing certain colors evokes different emotions — green for fresh thinking or blue for serenity. I would suggest avoiding heavy use of red, since it’s known to evoke aggression. My emails are offensive enough as it is.

Even better than calming wall art are quirky desk statues. My friend Mendy made this sculpture of me (image at the top of the page) and it makes me smile every time I look at it. And when I’m smiling everyone has a better day.

  1. Let Your Inner Actor Out

If you can feel your stress level rising and your patience wearing thin, TAKE A BREAK.This sounds like a no-brainer, but I constantly remind my staff and myself of this. Negativity has a way of spreading like a plague. Go to the conference room (if your office doesn’t have a conference room, use the restroom) and make a bunch of weird faces or do 20 jumping jacks. Let it out! And if anyone asks you if you also heard those weird noises coming from the conference room, just shrug casually.

Diane Costigan, Managing Director and Coach at Shannon & Manch LLP, in a Forbes article about how to deal with burnout as an entrepreneur, said; “Due to the immense pressure on entrepreneurs to be producers, they often struggle to give themselves permission to take a break and regroup.  And often, there’s no one else around to give them permission or remind them to give themselves permission.”

This is especially important for leaders who do not have day to day managers, or even those who have sucky mangers. If you happen to fall into this group, I am giving you permission. In fact, I am begging you to do this. Put a sticky note on your computer, add a reminder on your phone, write it on the wall. Whatever it takes. Trust me restraint of pen and tongue is going to be much more productive than trying to undo what you did when you were pissed off.

  1. Rip It Up and Toss It Out

Another great technique I observed is tearing up or shredding unneeded papers at your desk. Get rid of those old take-out menus and notes that you don’t need anymore. The act of ripping/shredding paper can relieve tons of bottled up energy. And in return, you’ll have a clear mind and a clean station to continue working.

Practicing these tips can make you excited to come to work instead of dreading the thought of spending all day there. As a boss or as an employee, do yourself a favor and allow yourself to be human.

Share your favorite work sanity tips, tweet me jax_rosales