When I transitioned from a traditional workplace to my own fused glass design and freelancing writing business, I quickly discovered I needed to keep learning in order for my business to continue to grow and evolve. When I worked for other companies, we spent two or three days each year taking motivational or sales training courses. While inspirational, the message was long forgotten a week later. When I started my own business, I decided that I wanted to always stay on trend, be efficient and stay motivated. As I had a shoestring budget, I had a bit of a challenge. Besides my local library, I quickly found that blogs and podcasts have been the perfect solution, far exceeding my original expectations.
Here are my top five tips:
Get-It-Done Guy. Working for yourself means that every meeting, every email and every phone call can make your business a success or a failure. Who better to get valuable technical, organizational and career advice than Harvard and MIT grad, Stever Robbins. Stever’s entertaining 5-minute, weekly podcasts have taken me from a disorganized time waster, to an efficient and disciplined self-bosser. Stever has simple formulas to figure out how to schedule meetings, how to catch up after an illness and even how many books you can realistically read in a year. His tools on keeping focused on work, while using a laptop and managing email is life-changing. He also offers sage advice on balancing the different hats that a self-employed person can wear. I listen with pen and paper nearby, his recommendations are so useful. In addition to his podcast, he has a terrific book and a weekly blog.
Your Daily Success Tip. I first heard the remarkable Dayna Steele speak at a travel conference on “How To FInd Your Inner Rock Star.” This charismatic, former dj shared stories of how such well known rock stars as Gene Simmons of Kiss and Sammy Hagar are not stars by chance. She shared stories of how these stars went extra mile and demonstrated that becoming successful is no accident. Her success tips are emailed every morning. They are short, to the point and a powerful punch, ending with a call to action. One day, I pretended to be one of my own customers and found a computer flaw that I did not know existed. She has written several books and has a great website packed with information.
Barbara Winter “Buon Viaggio” blog. Trendsetter Barbara Winter was in the forefront of the self-employment trend. She was teaching her course, and eventual book, Making a Living Without a Job, at a time when most people associated self-employment with selling soap or cosmetics. Her short blog posts are stories about real people working their dream jobs, overcoming obstacles and pitfalls, and how to evolve your small business. In addition to her books, she also has a wonderful bi-monthly, paper newsletter, that is actually mailed to your home. Active on both Facebook and Twitter, she shares a lot of informative articles and inspiring stories.
Merriam-Webster Word of the Day podcast. Although I was an English major in college and have always considered myself well-read, I was amazed at how limited my day-to-day vocabulary became. This daily podcast is barely 2 minutes long, introducing a new word each day. From the pronunciation of the word, to how to use the word in a sentence, to the history of the word, this is an amuse bouche of eclectic knowledge. I usually listen to this first thing in the morning and challenge myself to use the new word at least 5 times during the day. I now get a lot of personal satisfaction when I am able to pull out a little-used, succinct word.
Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. One of the challenges of working solo is missing out on the entertaining water cooler conversations. Before, I didn’t know what movies to look forward to, what new bands to listen to, what to read or what a “meme” was. Enter the crew at PCHH. These are your lively friends who binge on obscure television gems, go to comic book stores, host concerts by eclectic bands and attend film festivals. I now know what Joss Whedon is up to and why I should avoid Superman the movie and the theatric performance, and instead, buy the unauthorized history of this superhero. Most of all, I am aware of trends and how my own business fits into these trends. This weekly, hour-long podcast is my Friday treat. They still have not convinced me to start watching “Breaking Bad” but they have made me expand my pop culture horizons and made me just a little more cool. Most of this crew is on Twitter and there is a lively PCHH Facebook page.