Secrets of Self-Starters

Leaders and Self-Starters

We know that self-starters are initiators; they don’t wait to have everything mapped out for them. They see a problem, they solve it. They see a decision to be made; they make it.

Those are also qualities necessary to be a leader. That’s why we can confidently say that all leaders are self-starters. I had the immense privilege to be interviewed by Convergence Coaching about my views about leadership. Here is the interview:

We met Julie Miller, founder and president of Business Writing That Counts! at a Washington Society of CPAs Women’s Conference. We were so impressed with her message that we invited her to participate in our Leadership Spotlight series.

Dr. Julie has founded two businesses: Business Writing That Counts! where she and her team help clients achieve their professional goals by reducing writing time while increasing productivity. Her mission is to increase her clients’ bottom line by eliminating bad writing. The company specializes in working with corporations, organizations, and educational institutions to improve the quality of written communication.

The second business is Self-Starter Enterprises, LLC. Her goal is to show professionals and the companies that employ them, how to take their high potential and turn into high performance. She does this work through keynote speeches, Success Sessions, assessments and coaching. The result? Engaged employees who will positively impact the bottom line.

We are excited to share Julie’s insights on effective leadership in the business world.

ConvergenceCoaching: Whose leadership style do you most admire and why? WomanLifeCoach

JM: Hewlett-Packard CEO, Meg Whitman. She is collaborative, supportive and relationship-centric; all good qualities that women bring to the workplace. She is also a good listener and actively participates in the running of the business. Whitman is a firm believer in influencing relationships with her employees and not controlling them. There are three leadership strands that Whitman used at her job as CEO of EBay.

First, she realizes she cannot control the buyers. Second, she believes people are basically good. And, third, she often says, “I don’t know everything.” Listening to your employees and getting their input is invaluable.

ConvergenceCoaching: What do you think the single most important leadership attribute or characteristic is and why?

JM: Vision. Without a crystal clear vision expressed by its leader, an organization quickly becomes rudderless. Strong passionate visions can sustain the company through tough times, can keep everyone focused on what’s important, and can create deeper loyalty and engagement.

ConvergenceCoaching: What do you look for in young up-and-coming leaders?

JM: Passion and the ability to execute. Strong work ethic, empathy and agile thinking are also at the top of my list.

ConvergenceCoaching: How do you develop leadership in others?

JM: By giving employees opportunities to explore leadership roles; through being a role model; presenting opportunities for personal and professional development; through mentoring.

ConvergenceCoaching: What advice do you have for those looking to step into a leadership position in their firms or businesses?

JM: Discover your passion—what is it that you truly love to do at your job? What task/skill set energizes you? Where have you been rewarded, recognized or awarded? The answers to these questions help future leaders to utilize their strengths, and allow them to take on an initiative or project that would positively impact the company AND make them shine.

ConvergenceCoaching: What three words best describe your leadership style?

JM: Nurturing, goal-oriented, continuous learner. I believe that when employees’ talents are discovered and directed, you have engaged people who work at honoring their potential. I strongly believe in creating team and individual goals and attaining them. And, lastly, to paraphrase Peter Block, author and consultant, if you are not learning every day in your business—get out. I take that statement to heart.

At ConvergenceCoaching, LLC we believe that true leaders never really “arrive” and we couldn’t agree more with Julie about the importance of finding your passion and then continuously learning and improving in that area. What are you passionate about? What are you doing to expand your knowledge and sharpen your skills in that area?

Best Regards, Michelle Baca

Entrepreneurs should never be daredevils

bungee jumpingAn interesting article in Parade Magazine this past Sunday gave me pause. It’s seem counter-intuitive to state so confidently that entrepreneurs should never be daredevils. Hmmm.  I believe self-starters take vetted risks and seize opportunities based on the clarity of their vision–all the time! But note the word “vetted.” Kind of like bungee jumping–hopefully you have calculated the risks because strapping on.

What do you think?

People can change through vision, says Pete Carroll, coach of the Super Bowl winners

Do you think that Pete read my book?! Pete Carroll, coach of the 2014 Super Bowl winners, was featured in today’s The Seattle TimesSeahawksCoach Carroll believes strongly in developing his employees to their highest level of performance.

He also believes strongly in the power of VISION for individuals and companies. The proof? Just look at how they won the Super Bowl—a contest that was to be an easy win for the Broncos. You know the story.

But, do know that the Seahawks are a Self-Starting organization with VISION, PASSION AND PERSEVERANCE as key indicators of their success.

How about YOU? Your organization? Does everyone share the same vision?

Failure Is No Obstacle for Self-Starters


Self-starters know what many who give up might not get – failure is part of success. Geoffrey Stack of Chicago manages a billion-dollar real estate venture and has never lacked tenacity: “You can’t get discouraged and quit,” says Stack. “You just have to say, ‘Okay, let’s start again.’”

Although passion and vision help self-starters work their way toward their plans and dreams, it’s how they handle inevitable setbacks that really makes them successful. That’s where perseverance and taking risks step up to the plate and keep a self-starter plugging along when others might give up. The less successful have trouble adapting, maybe because their dream isn’t going exactly as they planned or their business will take longer to turn a reasonable profit than they had hoped. A self-starter finds a way to adapt his or her plan.

Here are a few tips for forcing failure’s hand:

  • Learn from mistakes, but move on. Dwelling on a failure makes it bigger than it is. Some things are simply beyond our control; one of these is the past. Even if you contributed to the failure, you don’t get a “do-over.” Make up for it next time.
  • Don’t take failure as an excuse to give up. Look at it as a reason to draw on other skills you have, seek some advice, and try again.
  • Quit comparing yourself to others. You hear more about instant successes, but most self-starters faced plenty of failures before they succeeded.

Is Simon Sinek copying me?

Positive Attitude MonthSimon Sinek, thought leader and author, sent out an inspirational statement today: Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.  I think he’s either copying me or maybe, he is even reading my blog? In any event, you know that self-starters possess three fundamental success factors: Passion, Vision, and Perseverance. These three need to be clearly aligned with the company’s vision and passion. That’s when miracles happen, goals are achieved, accomplishments realized. That’s when you have employees that love their work and their company.

Check out my blog about the car rental company to see what happens when these success factors are NOT in play.



Retaining Self-Starters in Your Company: Some ideas

Unemployment rates are dropping slowly but steadily nationally. So, whether you’re part of a large conglomerate OR a two-person business, we all need qualified workers.

And, regardless of whether you have trouble finding skilled workers, turnover and recruitment likely cost you more than retention of self-starters, those workers who have the vision, passion, perseverance and other key traits of successful people.

If you can’t pay higher wages across the board or to select self-starters, it might be time to get creative. Remember that for many workers, especially in the younger generations, lifestyle matters. They want time with their families, days off to make it outdoors, some “me” time to unwind. Consider incentive programs that award extra days off. True self-starters won’t take advantage of the time or fall behind on their work; they’ll come back recharged and more positive than ever.

Some companies are offering added retention bonuses, which often give supervisors a little more leeway and don’t hold you to offering even more the next quarter or year like wages do. Technology gifts also work; who doesn’t love a new tablet for work or play?

Across the board, try motivating staff with fitness plans or programs and other perks. And if you haven’t already trained your supervisors on how to reward individuals and teams for success, add that to your priority list. Nothing beats a pat on the back and a celebration of a job well done to remind self-starters that you value their contributions.          




Transistions Require the Big Three

Can or Can't Toggle Switch Committed to Solution AttitudeLife does not go in a straight line. What we plan for doesn’t happen; what we didn’t plan for does! Be it divorce, parents’ death, kids leaving the nest, a firing, a promotion, leaving the military, turning another decade—life just keeps coming at us.

These life events usually involve reflection—whether it’s “What now?” or “Oh, boy!” –about what these occurrences mean to your life, your career, your business, your future.

We firmly believe at that going back to the basics, focusing on the Big Three—Passion, Vision, and Perseverance—will hold you in good stead. It means thinking through:

1. What does your new vision look like, feel like, sound like? Can you see it in your mind’s eye? Where are you sitting, living, working?

2.  In the past, what talents or strengths have been awarded or rewarded? Those talents and strengths are what will give you energy and enthusiasm. If you’ve lost your way, reach out to family and friends and ask them: When you think of me, what words/strengths/talents comes to mind? In those answers, you will find or renew your passion.

3. If you have passion and vision firmly aligned, adversity and obstacles that step in your way will be easier to confront. Put a group of advisors together, hire a coach, find a mentor who can help you over, through and around the rough patches.


Savvy Sales Advice for Self-Starters

Savvy Sales Advice for Self-Starters

Self-starters get it: To make it in highly competitive markets, you have to persevere. Many self-starters have been knocked down before, only to get up and try again, so they know how to take a licking. But all of this passion and moxie can’t turn into a chip on the shoulder or downright pushiness. The trick to good sales and service comes from personal connections and attention, not to overbearing tactics.

I recently came across an article on that gives new business owners and their sales staff great advice on how to pitch their businesses without coming across as jerks.

baby salespersonHere are a few tips from the article by Gavin Llewellyn:

Focus on the situation, not your business. You’re proud of your start-up and the success you’ve had so far, but your potential customer wants to know what you can do for him or her – what value you have to offer. Tailor your pitch to the customer’s needs and situation; save the company history and bio for a special page on your website or your future write-up as a success story!

Stop talking and listen. There’s no way to really know what your customer needs and wants unless you listen and truly hear what the customer is saying. Ask follow-up questions that show you were tuned in. And use the information you gather to meet and exceed customer needs, and maybe even make adjustments to your product and service. Your results will do most of the talking with great customer satisfaction once you get the sale.

Llewellyn gives these and other tips for talking with potential investors as well. And that’s often a critical component to new businesses or those wishing to expand. Remember that everyone is not as personally invested in your business as you are, but that you can make them believe in its value and your ability as a self-starter with the right approach.

Five Tips for Promoting Positive Thinking

Five Tips for Promoting Positive Thinking

optimismIt’s always easier to start out the year positive and then drop off. That’s evidenced by the many good intentions of people who start diets and other personal resolutions each year. Now that we are in Q2, how is your strategy working to promote positive thinking all year long in yourself and your employees, or even at home? Here are a few tips to keep you going:

1.            Surround yourself with positive people and avoid cynics. You don’t have to start dumping friends or family members, but you can reapportion your time to spend more with the positive people already in your life. And add a few more, even virtually through social media. At work or in business encounters, try to avoid negative, cynical people and gravitate toward upbeat colleagues.

2.            Set achievable goals. Sure, you’d like to make a million dollars this year. Wouldn’t everyone? But you will remain positive if you set reachable goals based on a little research. Setting unrealistic goals just leads to frustration or disappointment.

3.            Celebrate achievements. With realistic goals, you’ll likely have a few achievements. Did you reach your quarterly sales goals? Add a new and important client? Then celebrate. If you want to promote that positive feeling, be sure to celebrate the achievement of those around you.

4.            Focus on good times. Even if you don’t have measurable achievements, you can focus on positive thoughts, not the negative ones. For example, you might not have landed the client you went after, but you were in the top two. Or maybe you added three other small clients who could refer new business to you if you do a great job for them.

5.            Stay out of pity traps. When several glitches occur in a row, it’s easy to fall into a negativity or pity trap: “I’m not cut out for this,” or “The world is against me.” Fight that inclination with all you’ve got. Most self-starters have endured rough patches, only to find good times ahead.


NO Surprise! Self-starters at Nordstrom

In the Northwest, Nordstrom is a beloved company—it started here and thrives here. Their customer service is legendary. When you walk into one of the stores, you expect to receive good service; but exemplary service requires a shout-out to the employee and the company! 

You know by now—and my self-starter interviews support it—that self-starters are alive and well in all kinds of workplaces, contributing to their companies in all kinds of ways.
Meet Andrew in shoes, Nordstrom self-starter! Tall, professionally dressed and approachable. 

I’m always in a hurry and have limited time; I was on the hunt for a pair of boots. Now I’m fashion kind of person, so they needed to be warm, attractive and reasonably priced. Done!

But the part of the experience that was the stand-out was Andrew’s seamless approach to solving problems: They didn’t have my size. I had to fly the next day.

Without skipping a beat, he found the shoes, asked for the hotel’s address and confirmed they would be delivered BEFORE I arrived at the hotel!

Andrew: self-starter. Works with passion and vision, and perseveres to get to the goal.

PS: It’s no wonder — He’s already been recognized by the company several times!