Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Growing Your Business Through Practicing Gratitude

Gratitude , The Tall Ships' Races, Szczecin 2007

It’s the time of year we all give thanks for our many blessings. It’s a good practice in our personal lives, and an equally good practice in our business lives.

On the Wednesday of Thanksgiving week it is my tradition to spend the day calling clients, past clients, colleagues who refer business to me and anyone else who has impacted my business over the past year. The calls aren’t sales calls, they’re gratitude calls. My intention is to thank those that have positively impacted my business’ growth as well my own personal happiness.

I’d like to say that I started this practice because I’m such a good person. But the truth is that I started it some years ago when I was scared to death to make sales and marketing calls. Picking up the phone and asking someone to become a client or refer business to me was terrifying. This gratitude concept that I began was a kinder, gentler (or perhaps spineless) approach.

The first year of the tradition I landed a big client. It was someone who I knew desperately needed my help. I hadn’t heard from him in months, and he was thrilled to hear from me. He was finally ready to face his financial issue and I called on just the right day. What I realized for the first time that day was that he needed my service more than I needed his money. The calls I was making weren’t about generating business, they were about serving others. After that experience, sales and marketing calls became much easier.

That was just the beginning of understanding of the role of gratitude and service in business. The more I began to weave it into my business, the more I recognized how gratitude was impacting other successful businesses I worked with.

  • One very successful colleague writes her thank you notes every morning at the breakfast table with her husband. It’s a sweet practice, and I believe a cornerstone of her success.

  • Another successful entrepreneur I know keeps a gratitude journal, writing in it each day that which she is grateful for.

  • Sandra Yancey, the phenomenally successful entrepreneur who began eWomen Network says that behind her company’s motto “Give first, share always” is a sense of gratitude. She ensures from the top down in her company that gratitude is practiced amongst the members and with not-for-profit causes.

One of the business coaches that has most influenced my happiness as a business owner had me start our work together with a gratitude practice. I’m an accountant. Not a curmudgeonly one, but definitely not the first person to be open to the kind of advice that goes like this:

“Stacey, I want you to write down 25 things you’re grateful for every day.”


“Yes, 25.”

I thought to myself….”that’s stupid.”

But I was unhappy at the time, and thus willing to try new things. 25 was a lot. After the obvious:

  • my daughter,

  • my cat,

  • sunshine,

  • my health

I had no idea what the other 21 should be. But kept thinking and eventually I’d get the 25 down, and every day it got easier, and eventually I realized that the gratitude practice was helping me on a daily basis assess what it was I LOVED about my business, and what it was I dreaded.

Focusing on gratitude brought to the surface that I had been burning myself out spending time doing tasks and taking care of clients that I didn’t have a passion to serve. Focusing on gratitude, and really noticing on a daily basis which clients I was grateful for helped me become very clear about the mission of my business, and it was then I renamed the business Creating Answers and made a bold decision: I was only going to do work I loved, and I was only going to work with clients that I loved; ones that I felt grateful for.

I’m not always successful; I suppose no one is. But what I am is happy. Almost every day when I go to work, I am happy. And I attribute my business’ growth to that happiness, which grew from the gratitude practice.

What are you grateful for?

-Stacey Powell

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Monday, November 21, 2011

The Power of Tracking Your Numbers: Step #3

© Nikolai SorokiaThis is the 3rd in a series on creating a financially healthy life. If you jumped in and did the first two steps, Just Do It and Reality, Get a Dose, this one might be the one you might need extra support in accomplishing. Lots of us like to do projects. We like to plan. The first two steps were projects.

This 3rd step requires consistency. Yes, consistency. This is where many of us jump off the financial band wagon.

I liken it to the health band wagon. Most people can stick to a diet for awhile. It might be challenging, you may not like it, but if we knew that we only had to change our eating habits for 3 months to impact our physical health for the rest of our lives, would we do it? Most of us would.

If I told you that getting into financial action for 3 months, really making a consistent commitment, would change your financial life for the years to come, would you do it? You’d have better results if you agreed to do it for a year, for 5 years, or for the rest of your life. But tracking your numbers for just 3 months will make an impact as well. It will reset your clock, equilibrate the way you look at your spending, and serve you in truly seeing your income versus your spending.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Human Experience of Christmas

I’m not a writer. I’m an accountant. (Except now I’m a writer and a financial coach, but that’s another story.) When I feel stuck, that I have nothing useful to say, I read Susannah Breslin. She reminds me how to be a writer.

In her latest series on journalism (and strip clubs, but that’s another story) she reminded me that what a writer does “…for a living is attempt to chronicle the human experience.” Oh, I get it. I’m supposed to be teaching my readers how to have a healthier financial life through telling stories and providing corresponding helpful financial advice.

I realized that in my last blog, I tiptoed. I was cautious. Sure I told stories. And I gave creative and useful ideas. But all over the web are advice blogs about a frugal Christmas, making your own gifts and starting a Santa Saver account.

What is unique about me, what I do that few other financial writers do, is to tell the real human experience of what our financial decisions, or indecisions, do to our self-esteem, our relationships, our happiness and our lives. What was missing in my last blog were these naked emotional truths that clients and friends have shared with me over the years. More people have talked to me about the anguish and pain and simple embarrassment that Christmas can bring than have talked to me about the joy that it brings. Here are some threads of those conversations.

Reality, Get a Dose: Step 2

In the first of this series on financial well being and health, Just Do It, we walked through the steps of a Fully Fit Plan. I encourage people to take a look at where they want to be before they look at where they are.

It’s the same philosophy as Jim Rohn’s excellent quote “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” If you’re hanging out only with your current spending plan, only looking at your current reality, energetically you’re creating the same plan for yourself, repeatedly.

If every month you first look at your Fully Fit Plan, it will remind you where you’re headed, where your intentions and dreams are. Simply writing the Plan out declares to the universe, and to your subconscious, that you are on a path.

It also prepares you for a dose of reality: your current spending plan. Now it's time to look, see and tell the truth.

It’s true that not everyone reading this sees their current spending plan as dismal, tight, something to move beyond. But I’m thinking many of you do. If you’re current spending plan had an extra $1,000 a month in it, you probably wouldn’t be reading my blog, you’d be at Intelligent Investing reading Chris Barth.

Just Do It ~ Nike: Step 1

The secret to financial well being and health is: be in consistent action. Or as Nike so powerfully declares: Just Do It!


That’s the key that separates the successful from the unsuccessful in improving financial health. Those that spend consistent time every month working on their finances build their financial muscle and create a financially healthier life. Those that consistently put a little bit of money away every month, even just a few dollars, create a financially healthier life. Those that learn a little something new, consistently, create a financially healthier life. There is no better, faster, more effective approach to financial health than simply being in action.

One frequent mistake I see, and I’ve made it myself, is that we only take action when money is tight, when something’s wrong.  It’s kind of like only going to the gym when you’re overweight and out of shape. You’re spending time just trying to get back to some baseline of health. You never get the opportunity to fine tune your health and strength.