Twenty years ago today, I encountered my first Monday as a business owner. I remember making coffee, watching the morning news shows for story ideas and then pulling out my Rolodex® (remember those!?) and starting to make calls and write letters to build a book of business. Only a few people were on "public" email back then. Wow. Thanks to everyone who's been a part of it!
In honor of the occasion, I've come up with the first in a series of periodic Top 20 lists.
A Random Inventory of Lessons Learned
- Revise and edit your own work before asking some else to. They'll be nicer and more constructive You know you are chippier when someone does this to you. [Get revision strategies here]
- Never underestimate the power of taking a deep breath.
- Sometimes your best decisions are made when you think you have nothing to lose.
- If you don't know why you're doing it or what you want to happen after you do it, don't. [How to determine purpose]
- "No" means "new opportunity". h/t Mark Burnett
- Spellchecker and autocorrect are not your friends. Re-read, read aloud and whenever possible, get someone else to read your stuff, too. Then press send. [Damn You, Autocorrect]
- A lot of the stuff I thought was super-important when I started this business I see now kinda wasn't.
- Forget Digger Phelps’ highlighter matching his tie, aka "The Tielighter". The writing utensil you really need to coordinate with your wardrobe is a Sharpie. Especially for your shoes.
- On business trips and at conferences, never wear the same shoes two days in a row, even if it means you have to check your bag. [Speaking of bags, I just got this new carry-on from CaseLogic.]
- Avoid situations in which you wish you'd said something--or worse, when you're asked why you didn’t. Good advice and valuable insight never go out of style. [Tips for communicating in high-stress situations]
- A corollary to the pissing contest with a skunk adage: Don't engage with overly emotional people because you can't win and you probably can't make them feel better. This goes double in crisis communications situations.
- The Boy and Girl Scouts are right about one thing: Be prepared.
- I used to love post-mortems after things went wrong. Now I prefer to figure out the next thing we can do to mitigate damage and get back on the path to progress.
- You're never too poor or too smart to have a great accountant and attorney.
- There's no shame in admitting you don't know or need more time.
- Don't dis the custodial or mail room staff. When things go South, these people can truly save your ass.
- I'd rather lose a gig because I'm priced too high than lose my shirt (and my sanity) because I'm priced too low.
- It's easier to write long than short. Learn to write short.
- Before you take that call, stand up, take a breath and put a smile on your face.
- Manners matter. Be nice and play fair.
Big ol' tip o' the hat to Tremayne Cryer, the man behind the Tremayne Company, for my kick-ass animated GIF anniversary badge.