Friday, October 24, 2014

WTF is a Manifesto

The other day, I read a post on Medium by some guy and in it, he declared, "This is my manifesto." I thought to myself, "Really? Is that what I'm reading?"

Then, later on I was looking at this lady's website and saw that she had manifestos for sale. For nearly $900, she would work with you on creating your very own personalized manifesto. This led to the question:

WTF is a manifesto and why would a person pay $900 to create one?

So, last night, I decided to ask Google, since Google knows EVERYTHING. Google replied:

Then, I did some more digging and I found an article on one of my favorite websites that started like this:
If I were to say the word “manifesto,” you might think of either Communists or serial killers. This is understandable; the word has taken a beating over the years.
That statement cracked me up, but I was nodding in agreement because that's when I remembered that IS where you normally heard about manifestos, after some killer had killed a bunch of people and himself, they would say that the police found his manifesto when they raided his hideout.

I did some more digging and found an article about 10 Insanely Awesome Inspirational Manifestos, among which I saw this one:

I'd been a fan of this for quite some time but never knew that it was a manifesto. It was just some inspirational words...but then again, essentially that's what a manifesto is. You've probably seen this, right? (And duh to me because it says MANIFESTO in the fine print)

Then I saw this one which I really like:

So, I've officially added "write my manifesto" to my to-do list. I imagine that it will be filled with a lot of Jay-Z lyrics because he's very inspirational to me, as they say in Dothraki, me nem nesa (it is known).

The "rules" for writing the manifesto, as I understand them, are as follows:
  • Determine what's important to you - the types of behaviors and actions that you think make you YOU. What inspires you? What do you want? What will help you be a better person to yourself and others? What do you stand for?
  • It should be filled with definitive statements - DO, STOP, DON'T, I WILL, I MUST, etc. None of that "maybe/should/kinda/sorta" stuff.
  • It should be something that you can read each day. Preferably in the morning to get your day started and maybe at night before you go to bed to remind you who you are.
Your manifesto can and should be a part of your brand - YOU, the brand. Maybe it's the replacement of the old school mission statement that large companies had (but probably rarely followed). 

Dig around the internet for things that may inspire you if you want to write your own manifesto and most of all, have fun with it.

Monday, October 20, 2014

How many hoops are you willing to jump through?

In life, and business, we are required to jump through some hoops in order to accomplish our goals - no matter what those goals are. That being said, I believe that it's important to know what you're willing (or not willing) to do in order to seal the deal.

Over the last couple of months, I've been figuring out the answers to that question myself.

I've been dabbling with the idea of going back into the employment sector, as opposed to being an entrepreneur. In my business, I don't hold any of the clients I work with to any long-term contracts. People use my services for a minimum of one-month at a time and then if they don't need anything else for a while, they don't use my service. I don't have a problem with offering people that level of freedom; however, it's not always in the best interest of my bottom-line. The flip-side of that is that I would NEVER want anyone to pay for anything they aren't using or don't need, simply because they're contractually obligated to do so.

But I digress.

Several months ago, I started putting my "feelers" out there to see what type of opportunities were available for someone with my level of experience as a Personal/Executive Assistant.

Recently, I found a start-up accelerator that was looking for an Office Manager and I applied for the position. I immediately received a phone call to say that they were interested in my resume and I was pretty excited. I think the idea of working for a company that is helping innovate technology is pretty cool.

I wrote a SPECTACULAR cover letter for the position:

In response to the posting for an Office Manager with [Redacted], I’m submitting my resume for consideration.

Having started my career as a personal assistant to a venture capital firm, I was extremely excited about the opportunity to apply for a position with [Redacted]. To date, I’ve worked with about 5 startup companies, not including my own, so working with an accelerator would be something I can easily adapt to. More importantly, I’m happy that [Redacted] is working with [Redacted]tech. The industry has been doing things the same way forever and it’s time to bring in innovative thinkers and shake things up. Last year, I worked as a [Redacted]and she was constantly looking for a new way to do things in that space.

My resume speaks to my extensive experience in calendar management, my ability to create PowerPoint presentations, managing staff and excellent communication; however, the bottom line is you want someone that is passionate about what they do and can get things done. That is what I bring to the role specifically. I understand the value of the principal’s time and I don’t need any hand holding to accomplish what needs to be done on a day-to-day basis. I’m a solutions-based thinker and an excellent communicator. I understand the importance of providing the necessary highlights, as opposed to a long story, as well as the importance of being proactive. I like to be a few steps ahead of the person I’m supporting so that they don’t have to ask me for the things I know they need.

I firmly believe that I would be an asset to the [Redacted] team and I look forward to the opportunity to discuss the position further. I can be reached directly at [Redacted] or [Redacted].
Thank you for your time and consideration.

The cover letter was a winner. I had several follow-up calls about the position and we were waiting to schedule me for an in-person interview. The HR person was very communicative, so when there was a week in between where I didn't hear from her, I reached out, again. I wanted to make sure my level of interest was clear and I think it's important to re-iterate interest, even when they haven't said anything. Plus, no news is good news...meaning that they hadn't filled the job.

I was told by the HR person that she was fully in support of my application; however, the CEO had started interviewing people with more industry-specific experience.

Look - some jobs require industry-specific knowledge and expertise, like, medical or legal positions. This particular position doesn't really require anything that a good Google search can't provide.

So, as an "outside-the-box" thinker, I decided to reach out to the CEO directly. I found him on LinkedIn, signed up for a free 30-day premium account, and sent him an InMail message that further emphasized my interest in the position and why. About 15 minutes later, I got a phone call from the HR rep and I'll admit that for a split-second I was a little apprehensive about answering. What if she's mad that I circumvented her? Then, I decided I'd just own my decision because at the end of the day, no matter how supportive and #TeamNikki she is, there are some things I have to do for myself to represent myself.

Turns out, the CEO wanted to interview me the next day. I was excited! 

A few hours later, she called me back and said that he had a project he wanted me to work on as part of the interview process, to give a feel for hat it would like to work together and it would take about 5 hours. I asked if this is something he was doing with all the candidates and she said it was. I initially agreed, but later, I didn't like the way that felt in my gut.

I went to the interview bright and early the next morning and it was just like I thought it would be - it's a laid-back, open floor plan in a very hipster-chic office setting, a place I could ultimately see myself enjoying! 

The interview was very informal and we talked about me, more than my resume, which was refreshing. He asked me to review a document for him, which took all of 5 minutes or so, and provide him with feedback. He said my feedback was really great.

Turns out, there wasn't a 5 hour project for me to work on and he said that when they had something available, they'd call me back to come do it. Well, here's the thing about that...if he's not compensating people for their time, it's possibly illegal and definitely unethical. If it was a test of my capabilities as an EA, it wouldn't need to be a new assignment for each applicant...they'd just recycle the assignment/project for each person and see how each candidate handles it. The fact that they're using an employment candidate to work on a live project for them for free and then finalizing the project with the work they've obtained feels pretty sketchy.

I decided to write a follow-up letter to the interview, completely from the memory of our conversation, that let him know that I heard the pain points that he expressed and outlined what I feel like I can specifically bring to the role. I wanted to be sure to impress upon him that I know how to GET SHIT DONE!

For me, that's where it stops. I'm not going back at a later date to work for free on some project. I wrote a kick-ass cover letter, I gave a kick-ass interview, and I wrote a kick-ass follow-up letter. THAT'S ALL YOU GET! If you want more, HIRE ME!

What I'm saying is, we ALL have to decide when the cost of admission for something we want is too high. There clearly are candidates who will work for free because they want the job that bad...but, guess what...he got their free work and he kept looking. He didn't stop the process and say "You did a great job for us for free, we'd like to hire you right away." 

Maybe he hasn't fully decided on what he's looking for. Maybe he wants to keep "dating" before he commits. Those are all things that should be part of the consideration when deciding if this is someone that I want to work with...because in the end, we both need to be happy and secure with our decision to work together.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Words Words Words....

I had yet another amazing call with my business coach last week and we were hammering out the details of the message I want to present to the world and my marketing strategy.

I've decided that I'm going to do a mix of the antiquated stuff, mailing things by snail-mail and the new stuff, meeting people in person and asking for the business.

The mail/email part is where things started getting a little tricky.

He asked me what I wanted people to know about The Millionaire's Assistant.

"I want them to know I get shit done!"

He asked me if I was prepared to own that statement.

I explained that I've gone around this barn and played hide-and-seek with my message for a while now and I'm sick of it. Look, the truth is, was and has always been that I get shit done and the people I've enjoyed working with the most aren't afraid or threatened by that phrase and most likely use it themselves frequently.

We marched forward and at the end of our weekly call, we had a draft of what my script would look like. Sure, we're going to do some tweaking on it later, but, the main thing that struck me was that it's too many words.

But, this isn't my first time struggling with this issue either. When it came to writing copy for my website, all the "experts" that I consulted believe(d) that it needs to be an extensive amount of information. From the jump, I've asked - who is going to read all this shit? I mean seriously? TL:DR (too long didn't read) has become a way of life in social media for a lot of things, but it's not just for the young "microwave"'s especially for the busy entrepreneur/executive, as well.

People don't have a lot of time and they don't want to spend it reading a bunch of fluff. They want you to get to the point. Which is part of the reason why I've fallen in love with the website - before you commit to reading something, you get to know how long it's approximately going to take for you to read it. Incidentally, it's also the place where I found a couple of posts on this very topic.

One post suggests that you work on condensing whatever message you want to get across to the length of a single tweet - 140 characters. Talk about a challenge! I'm a chatterbox and I haven't even gotten off the ground good in that amount of space. But, that's not what counts for my business.

Another post, which I'm using to help fine-tune my message states that you want to give the important points - keep it short, format for clarity, have a clear call to action and be reasonable with the request.

We're all busy. Time is limited and the old way is dead. Those web pages where you have to scroll and scroll and scroll to get to the meat of the discussion are so antiquated. If that's what you're doing or who you're listening to, you're better off writing blog posts where you can make it as long as you want...I just don't think it's the best way for sales/marketing.

Drop me a comment and let me know what you think.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Random Thought Sunday

A week ago, I learned that Maya Angelou used to be a stripper.

Let that sink in for a minute. THE MAYA ANGELOU!

Then, I thought about that for a second and came up with this:

The next time you feel inclined to look down your nose at someone for doing something that you don't approve of, remind yourself that the person you're judging can go on to do something REALLY great in my RDJ...yes, MY RDJ or Dr. Maya Angelou.

Remember that life is a collaboration of experiences. Not one single thing defines who you are or who you will become.

Also, the next time YOU are in a less-than-desirable situation, you should also remind yourself that you don't have to stay there and it's not permanent. YOU can go on to be the next great such-and-such.

There's still time to do something spectacular for yourself and others.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Don't Push Me

I can't STAND pressure tactics, especially when it comes to business.

Mainly, I think it's rude!

I've been on countless pitch-inars, you know, those "free" webinars that are really an infomercial, where so-called experts will use phrases like "If you're serious about ___" or "If you're REALLY ready to make a change" then you will buy their product or sign-up for their service, etc.

Those key-phrases just leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Just because I don't want to spend my money with you or because I'm not jumping up and down like a contestant on the Price is Right doesn't automatically preclude me from being "SERIOUS" about what's going on.

I'm serious...about my business, my life AND my money! As a result of my seriousness, I am going to take the appropriate amount of time to consider what I want to do with it and that MAY or MAY NOT include you.

Think about it!

Can you imagine someone in a business meeting with the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson or Warren Buffet and telling them "Well, if you're REALLY serious about this, you'll sign the contracts NOW!" I think they'd be promptly shown the door or something would mysteriously come up that pulls Oprah, Richard or Warren out of the meeting.

Sometimes, a person is going to be able to jump into a situation with a resounding YES and not think twice about it. Other times, it's going to take them a little while to think about or even get more information about something before they make a decision.

I shouldn't be belittled for being cautious and thoughtful about my money.

I used to work for a cell phone company. When customers came in the door they were there for 3 reasons, buy a phone, pay a bill, or upgrade an existing account. The serious shoppers had already done their due diligence and would often come with their own comparison sheets on the different cell phone companies. The mere fact that they were in the store said that they were basically leaning towards purchasing with us. All I had to do was smile, be friendly, and answer their questions and I'd close the deal. I had the HIGHEST sales numbers in my store and often in my district. No amount of pressure was required.

Even if a customer wanted to think it over, shop around or discuss it with their spouse, they often came back because I didn't pressure them. That also led to referrals and when they wanted to add phones, they'd come find me. I don't sell phones anymore, but the basics haven't changed.

I think that the people who live and do business based on pressure tactics are working from an altered version of reality.

They want you to believe that YOU'RE the problem and not the way they approach you.


The alternative to what they're saying is "If you're not going to do business with me, then you must not be serious about your business." (Yes, I've heard someone say that)

More recently, I was told that "The mature thing to do is just say no if you don't automatically want to say yes."

Ok, so now, I'm immature by this standard because I haven't made my mind up yet?

I believe you should treat every amount of money that you spend as if you were spending a million dollars and as such, you should use caution and consideration when making decisions and doing deals.

An automatic YES does happen. Sometimes, something sounds so good to you on the inside and it FEELS like a wise decision. Other times, your heart and head need a little more time to get in sync with each other. That's ok, too.

I tell you what though, I appreciate a person who would allow me to take time, even when I don't need it, to make sure I'm making the right choice FAR MORE than I would someone who makes me feel weird about wanting to say no.

In situations with high-pressure, sales, pushy people, it's important to do what feels authentic to you.

When you have/offer something that people are wanting, needing and/or hungry for, you don't have to convince them to spend money on it, this is true. You may have to answer clarifying questions for them to help them make a final decision, but, to completely cut them off as not being serious/mature/whatever because they didn't say yes before you finish your sentence is a bunch of BULLSHIT!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Telling My Story

I never was big on telling my story. 

When it was time to write the bio for my website, I struggled with it. You want something compelling, to help make the human connection (people do business with people, etc), but, for my ideal clients, I always have to remember to keep it short and to the point because I'm respecting your time.

So, my first version was somewhere in between the two. Then my second version was based on what someone else told me was interesting. Then version number 3 was based on someone saying they don't think anybody cared about a lot of the parts of version 2. And so on and so on.

I don't know what version it is now. But what I do know is that none of the previous versions were the real DRAW to the site in the first place.

I also realized last week in conversation with friend that there's so much more to my story than I'd put in my bio, although I think it's important.

Today, I was asked to write a "Why you" statement and that's when I decided to talk about my whole story and let the chips fall where they may.

I'm committed to the career choice of being a personal assistant. I have 7 years of direct personal assistant experience; however, I've been doing this since I can remember. When I was in high school, I was the assistant to both my algebra and science teachers. When I was a junior in high school, and all my classmates were getting jobs at McDonald's, I got a job as the principal's assistant at my old elementary school. In my senior year, I got a job as the principal's assistant at my old middle school. Then, after I graduated high school, I went back to work as the assistant to the assistant principal.
Sure, I tried other jobs in that time frame, but none of them gave me the same FEELING as being an assistant. It's always been the thing where I felt most "at home."

I never really thought about any of that or pieced it together. But, now that I have, I realize the importance of it.

Sometimes, something is just printed in the fiber or your being and you may not even notice it, but, if you look back over your life, you'll see all the dots connect. Some people identify it early in life. Others identify it later, but I'll bet you dollars to donuts that if you really take some time to reflect, you will see it.

Try telling your story.

To a friend. To a dictation app. To a blog. Somewhere.

You might be surprised where things line up for you.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Random Thought Sunday

It's Sunday, and I'm allowed to have random thoughts. I told you, I'm going to write about whatever inspires, here goes.

Have you ever taken the time to observe - I mean REALLY observe a homeless couple? (Talk about random)

I take the train into downtown-ish area every day and there's always a lot of homeless people on or around the train. I made a conscious effort to not be one of those people who is always staring at their phone because you miss a lot of LIFE that way, so I prefer to stand by the window. I don't sit on the train, as a rule, because we do a LOT of sitting already in life and the train ride is never more than 15-20 minutes. I figure it's ok and good for me to stand for that duration.

So, I'm riding on the train and I look around at the people on the train and I look out the window and I look at people in their cars as we pass them by, they're normally on the phones while driving, and I look at the people at the various stops...and I'm rambling...but stay with me.

There's a church near my final stop that (I assume by the line each morning) does something along the lines of providing food for the homeless. I always look at that line of people and the people who are leaving and something struck me...which brings me to my point.

Homeless couples seem to be the most IN LOVE, happy people you'll ever come across. When I see homeless couples on the train or on the street...they just seem so content to be with each other, it's as if their circumstances don't hinder the love. They're often smiling at each other or holding hands or have their arms around each other. Something like that! Not a care in a world. In my mind, they seem to be singing Sonny and Cher, I got you babe!

Then I think about other couples that I may see on the train or walking and they seem to be a little less happy and content with each other.

They say that a large portion of divorces are brought on by fights over money. When you're homeless, that's not an issue. Even the homeless couples who have clear signs of a substance abuse problem...there's still a happiness factor to them that you rarely see with people in much financially happier situations.

I guess Notorious BIG was right - Mo Money, Mo Problems.

But, what if it didn't have to be that way? What if you had the power to choose to be happy in the situation you're in, with the person you're with WITHOUT all the extra drama? Oh, do!