leadership

Eyes Wide Open Training of Team Members to Grow Your Business

I’ve been building businesses for the past 14 years and I can honestly say that the biggest block to the growth of each business was that I had no idea how to hire and train people well.

As a result, with each of my businesses, I hit a ceiling and couldn’t get past it.

When I hit that ceiling — usually at between $1mm-$1.5mm/year of revenue — I would find myself working all the time to manage my team, tasks and priorities and find my creativity, energy and enjoyment of the business leach away.

Usually, at that point, I would find a way to sabotage the business and either turn over my whole team, shrink the business back, or throw up my hands altogether and walk away.

Then, sometime later, I would start again, rebuilding often from nearly scratch and get right back to the exact same place and find myself frustrated that I couldn’t seem to get past it.

I always wondered why I couldn’t seem to build multiple businesses, like Richard Branson does.

6 or 7 teams (at least), and four businesses later, I’ve figured out where I was going wrong and now I want to share it with you. And, also apologize to every past team member who worked on my team and left feeling disempowered and not seen for their greatness.

I can see now that I was stuck with a project management style of training that I thought was leadership, but was far from it. It was management. And I hated management. So did my team members, I am sure.

Now I can see that eyes wide open leadership is far different. And way better.

If you learn how to lead instead of manage your teams (unless you are a project manager, in which case you can instill leadership in your project management), you will be unstoppable and can become the kind of leader that have allowed business leaders like Richard Branson and Steve Jobs to build multiple companies and products that have made a huge impact in the world.

Or, you can work part-time and have a thriving company full of leaders while you provide a great service or product and love your life.

So what is the difference between the project management style of training your team and training your team as a leader?

Project management style of training is one in which you give your team member specific tasks that need to get done, and then specific instructions on how to do those tasks, and then monitor whether the tasks were done to their specifications.

And, if they are not done to your specifications, you get frustrated, and feel certain you have to take it all back and just do it yourself.

This is not leadership. It’s project management. And, done this way, you will consistently disempower the people you’ve hired, and get stuck in the role of babysitter, not leader.

Steve Jobs put it well when he said: “When you have really good people, you don’t have to baby them. By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things. A-plus players like to work together, and they don’t like it if you tolerate B-grade work.” – Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple

Unless you want to be your company’s project manager, micro-managing all the details and always feeling stuck in the weeds, here’s an alternative methodology for training your team members that will establish your leadership and get the results you want, right from the start.

Eyes Wide Open Outcome, Resources, Deadline and Check-Ins

When you are bringing on a new team member, instead of giving them specific tasks and specific ways to perform those tasks, and then holding them accountable to those tasks, give them outcomes, resources, deadlines and check-ins.

Here’s how that could look:

First, identify the specific outcome the company needs. For example, each month we run a monthly campaign promoting one of our online training programs.

Or, we need to send out an email newsletter to our clients each week. Or, we need to ensure that everyone who calls our office gets followed up with weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually.

Second, give your team member the specific company resources available to them to meet this outcome.

So in our case, using the monthly campaign as an example, I would train my team member on the specific products we have to promote, and then let the team member know how we structure our campaigns, introduce the team member to our copywriter, our website manager, and our customer service representative.

And then I would tell the team member the specific objectives for the campaigns, for example — each month we want to enroll twenty people in the course.

Using the weekly article as an example, I would let the team member know where I’ve found or curated articles in the past. Or let the team member know to ask me for the article each week. And, I would give the team member a login to our website, as well as to the service we use to send out the newsletter.

I would also provide a document with standards for posting the weekly article and sending out the newsletter.

Third, give the new team member a deadline.

Let your new team member know specifically when he or she is expected to have this outcome completely handled without any input from you.

Then, let your team member get in to the resources and start doing it, while you are in parallel still doing it yourself until the deadline date for the team member to take it over completely.

So, for example, lets say that I hire the team member in May, I would still handle the May and June campaigns and then by July let’s say, I’d want the team member to be handling the campaign on his or her own.

Or, for something smaller like a weekly email newsletter, if I hired on May 1, I’d still handle the first two weeks of May’s email newsletters and expect the team member to take it over by the third week of May.

Finally, schedule periodic check-ins between the time that the outcome is given and the deadline date, so the team member can let you know what he or she is missing, needs or to show you the process he or she has discovered at the time of check-in and identify any missing parts.

This allows your new team member to get in there and just start figuring it out, and make some mistakes (which is a key tool of learning) while also having the support necessary to fill in any gaps in the training or resources.

Think about it this way: imagine you were trying to teach someone to tie their shoes. You could explain how to them for hours and hours how to tie their shoes, and even show them how to do it, but until they get their hands on the laces and start playing with the laces and making mistakes and then asking for specific help, they won’t learn to tie their shoes.

Now, one key to this working is that you have to hire people you trust can actually do the job you’ve hired them for, and ideally people who you know will do the job even better than you. This is one place I definitely got stuck. I didn’t properly vet people before I hired them, so that when they inevitably made mistakes, I began to question whether they could do the job well.

And then because I was in a project management style instead of a leadership style, instead of giving them the leeway and time to make mistakes (because I was still doing the thing until the deadline we had set while they were in the mistake making and learning process), I would jump in and take it over from them, further undermining their confidence and disempowering their ability to take over for me.

It was a vicious cycle in which no one was set up to win.

So make a shift today from the project management style of training your team members and into the eyes wide open leadership style of training your team members and watch your business expansion (and your own personal growth) become a real possibility.

❤️

The Unpleasant Path to Eyes Wide Open Leadership

About 18 months ago, the perfect storm of events happened to call me into a higher level of leadership than I knew I had within me.

I wasn’t really able to talk about much of it until now because 1) I was in it and just trying to keep my head above water while it was happening; 2) much of it involved other people that I wanted to be sensitive of; and 3) I think I was in shock.

Now, being on the other side of all of it, I’m grateful to report I made it through, made the right choices at each step along the path, and I’ve gained a lot of wisdom I’m ready to share.

It started when my partners in this business, Eyes Wide Open, were poached by an unethical business man, mid-launch of our at the time newly revamped Money Map program.

Yes, mid-launch. After a series of texts, that perhaps I could have handled better, they let me know they were leaving, immediately.

I was stunned. These women weren’t just my business partners, they were my friends. Or so I thought.

higher level of leadership than I knew I had within me.

I was even more shocked when I asked one of the gals how, as my friend, she could be making the choice she was, and she told me we had never been friends, really.

With the benefit of time and space, I am now ready to go back to the email  exchange she and I had at that time to seek more understanding, and I am able to see clearly where I was not being the leader I now know I am capable of being.

At the time though, I was in total shock and terror, AND it was a huge catalyst for me to reconnect to my work, in a way that was greatly called for and much needed.

Simultaneous to all of that, two other major things were happening:

1. We had hired a CEO at New Law Business Model who was clearly not the right fit. He was a serious old school, patriarchal kind of guy. Conservative, religious, and not trusting of the feminine.

How he got hired to run my company is a whole story of abdication of leadership in and of itself. I take full responsibility and also know it was a necessary part of my journey back to my own power.

I knew we would have to get him out as quickly and easily as possible that Spring, and I was terrified about what that meant.

I tried to sell the company quickly, but he skewered the deal, and the truth was the company was not ready to be sold.

I did everything I could to avoid stepping back into that leadership role, while I was now at the same time leading Eyes Wide Open without my partners to rely on, but finally surrendered to the realization that I was being called to step up in a much bigger way than I could have imagined.

Spirit was yelling at me — it’s time Ali/Alexis — we’re calling in your leadership. You can and will run both of these companies. Get to it girl. So, I did.

2. At precisely the same moment, my daughter was entering what would become the most challenging and daunting phase of her life up until that point and would have me question everything about myself as a mother.

If you’ve ever parented a 14/15-year old who you can see slipping away from you, toward friends who are part of the “bad crowd” and who might just see your daughter as the leader of the pack, you’ll have some sense of what I was facing.

Of course, I shouldn’t have been surprised as this was exactly what I was like at 14/15 years old, and I was simply getting the karmic return, right?

At one point, it had gotten so bad, I was considering sending her away to a 10-week Wilderness Therapy program. It would be my saving grace. I was sucking as a parent, so I’d let someone else handle it for me.

I had convinced her to go. She was reluctantly on board. I would find the $40,000 to pay for it somewhere. I had ideas. It would be easier to make the money than to keep failing her, and facing my own parenting failure.

But, the night before she was scheduled to go, as I sat in her room with her, she said “Mom, I can’t go. Amy {name changed for privacy} just went there and we can’t both be there at the same time.”

“Amy” had actually been a friend of hers that had run away to our house. When I spoke to her mom, I told her about the program I would be sending Kaia to and apparently Amy’s mom got Amy there first.

I was devastated. Hysterical. She was right, they couldn’t both be there at the same time, in the same program.

My saving grace had been yanked away and now what would I do.

I remember standing on my back porch, crying and begging Sprit to show me the answers.

And, as often happens when I get to that point, I heard the clear response.

“Be her mother. She needs you. You have the tools.”

Fuck.

Of course.

Be her mother.

I had no idea how to do that.

And, yet, of course, I knew exactly what it meant.

So, I did.

Today, she is a confident young woman. Healthy. And whole.

The details of the journey since then I will save for another day, but being her mother took me on a journey of reparenting myself, growing up my own inner teenager in a way I had never received when I was her age.

And, mothering her in a way that I had once prayed for as my teenage self so many years before.

Today, she is a confident young woman. Healthy. And whole.

This Summer, she spent 9-weeks in NYC at a dance intensive, living as an adult, learning to dance, and not in the wilderness getting the substitute parenting I didn’t feel qualified to give.

Upon returning, we’ve decided that high school isn’t a fit, and I’m homeschooling her instead. Or more appropriately, she’s homeschooling herself and I’m guiding her with tools and some structure.

I can see now that each of these events, my partners leaving, hiring the wrong CEO (who in some ways was the right CEO because he actually did teach me a lot), and my daughter’s crisis were each the same thing — a call for me to step into leadership, to learn to be a leader, and to lead my companies and my family, truly.Leadership is quite a bit different than I thought it was. Far more humbling,

Leadership is quite a bit different than I thought it was.

Far more humbling, a lot less “dickish,” and way more servant. I’ll write an article sometime soon on the difference between “dick leadership” and “jane leadership” as I am coming to see it.

Today, New Law Business Model is thriving. I’ll be sharing my quarterly financial reviews on Patreon until I figure out another better membership platform, if you want to check those out.

Eyes Wide Open is bringing in enough income to cover it’s base expenses and we’ve got enough available credit to fund a restructure. I’ll also share the details of that in the Patreon site as well as a spreadsheet that’s part of our Enough Course, which you can use to track your own resources and needs.

And, I’m restructuring my life to write my book, Enough: The Money Wake-Up Call to Reclaim Your Time, Energy and Attention in Service to a Life Worth Living (working title).

I’ve got some personal work to do on myself before I’m ready to dive into the writing, and we’ve got some team expansion to do at New Law Business Model to take some things off my plate, but I’ve got a fantastic co-leader running the company with me now, and we’ve got a plan, so I know it’s just a matter of time.

I’m at the tail end of a personal relationship that has pointed clearly to my own next level of internal work, and has me facing some deep patterns around narcissism and addiction that I look forward to sharing with you once I have some more clarity, as I believe we’ve all got some of that running our lives and I hope my awareness will help you see more as well.

So that’s it for now. I’ve got ten million emails (feels like that) I still need to write for the lawyers we serve, and some “parts work” to do with the young parts of me that are resistant to me writing the book, and then taking the kids to the  Farmers Market.

Back again soon, I hope.

To your eyes (and heart) wide open life and income,

 

From lifestyle business to legacy business — is it really for you?

lifestyle-business-legacy-business-really

The other day, I wrote about the first step for every professional practice owner to get their income into alignment with their life, financial liberation and a practice/business built around your life.

If you missed that post, you can check it out here.

Financial liberation is knowing that (with your services) you can earn what you need, when you need it, on demand, being all of who you are — and having a great life to boot.

If you take the first step strategically and with wisdom and guidance to support you, you will have a professional practice or service-based business that is thriving within 6-18 months of starting. 3 years, max. (Without guidance, well, many professionals never get there, but I imagine that you are here to make a different choice.)

This is a practice in which you get to serve your clients 1-1, they are happy, your practice is full and life is good.

Until you get antsy and want more …

Either more income.
Or more time.

And if you cannot raise your fees, and cannot take on any more clients, because you are already at the top of your market, charging a high value for your services, and your calendar is full, it’s time to look at shifting from practice owner to business owner.

One side note: once you’ve mastered step one, it’s likely that you’ll have more free time than you had when you weren’t successfully getting hired by clients you love to work with, and you may decide to shift your freed up energy to growing in other areas of your life, such as relationships or health, and not keep focusing on practice or business mastery for a while. And, you do really need to shore up relationships and health before making a run for the next level.

In the event that you do want to grow the business side of your life (generally because you are maxed out on time and income with your step 1 business structure and not impacting at the level you’d like) you are going to focus on bringing on more team support, employees, independent contractors, and others who can serve your clients.

Now, you are moving into the realm of creating a legacy business for yourself.

In step 1, it’s all about lifestyle.

In step 2, it’s about legacy. And that requires you to up your leadership game.

Upping your leadership game, building a legacy business, will require another level of time, energy, attention and money investment than you’ve made up until this point.

You’ll need to learn to hire, train and retain key team members.

Everything you thought you knew about leadership will be tested.

You’ll need a new coach/mentor relationship, investing in learning how to truly become a leader from someone who has done it.

And you’ll need to upgrade your legal, insurance, financial and, tax systems (and knowledge) to another level.

Building a legacy business isn’t for everyone. Mastering the lifestyle business is the first step. Having an income model that works for you to deliver your 1-1 gift in the world is where you start. THEN, once you’ve mastered that, you are ready to convert your practice into a business, if you choose to focus your energy and attention there because your calling requires it.

My calling has required it. I WISH I could have just been happy with my 1-1 law practice, making great income, having plenty of time for my family.

But, my soul was called to another level of impact that I couldn’t have at the 1-1 service level and so I’ve been focusing on legacy-fying my work for the past several years and repeatedly it has me at my edge of growth.

This is what I signed up for and I’ve revisited the decision repeatedly to make sure it’s really what I want.

It is.

I love how my leadership gets stretched, tested and grows as a result.

I love that my work will continue on, beyond me. And not just from an ego perspective, but because I know how impactful it is for the people who use it.

I am growing into loving building teams of people who love working together. This has not always been easy for me.

A legacy business is not for everyone.

Building a legacy business is not necessary and should only be done with eyes wide open and clear choice.

Lifestyle business (or even a life aligned income, forget the business part) is just fine for most people and will provide you with a life and income you love.

Most people will never even get there — they’ll stay stuck in jobs that don’t serve them or the world, and frankly don’t even earn them enough money to have the lives they want.

So try not to get distracted by building your life and income in alignment out of order, or by building a business that isn’t really what you want.

The promise of a passive income business is pretty much a lie.

Owning a business requires your effort, input, and energy.

When you build a business that’s truly in alignment with your gifts and the work you are here to do, it can feel fairly passive because you are getting paid to do what you love, but that’s not because you have magically built some business that pumps out money, on demand.

You can have that through a lifestyle business.

Because you will have learned what your path is, you will have chosen an income model that is aligned with that path, and you will have mastered the art of asking for what you need in exchange for what you have to give to the people you are here to give it to — and doing your work feels so aligned with who you are, that you are getting paid to truly do what you love.

You can have all that through a lifestyle business.

ONLY choose to move into building a legacy business if you are truly called. And then, understand, you are likely to experience a short-term drop in income, another level of investments, and an even more full schedule, as you push your edge into unknown territory around leadership.

If possible, and before that, while your lifestyle business (or 1-1 practice) is flowing well, focus on shoring up your personal relationships and your health and be clear with yourself and the people around you that you are likely going to need to call on reserves as you move into the next level of your personal evolution.

Good luck. And, may the odds be ever in your favor.

A Day in the Life of a Transformational Leader

I used to have this idea that once I was a transformational leader, my life would be like what I imagine Wayne Dyer’s and Suze Orman’s lives and businesses are like …

In this dream/vision, I’d be the perfect cross between the two of them.

I’d spend my day writing books, appearing on television and doing interviews.

Oh my, that is a dream come true. Can’t you just see it? Maybe you even want it to for yourself too.

[Side note: if you don’t want it for yourself, good! We need more people who want to support, facilitate, connect, and create behind the scenes. And, you still need to check out this video series because the world needs you to lead!]

But let me tell you (because we are about eyes wide open around here after all), the reality isn’t like that at all. At least, not yet. I do believe it’s coming, but before that can happen, I have this burning desire and personal need to build the business infrastructure to support it all.

You see, my mind tells me that once I have the business infrastructure, then I’ll have the stable financial support to write the books plus the wisdom to actually share something worthwhile on television and in interviews.

I’m not sure yet whether this is true or just my incessant need for achievement that is fooling me.

Regardless, it’s my path. And I surrender to it.

Building businesses is the exact experience I need to have in order to truly become the transformational leader I desire to be.

So today, I won’t be writing my book, doing interviews or appearing on TV.

Instead, my day will be all about clarifying and documenting agreements, getting a system set up to manage my metrics and getting coached to create KPIs (key performance indicators that allow me at a glance to measure the health of the company or parts of the company).

This is the real life of a transformational leader. Or at least a leader in the making.

Oh, and I will be getting a facial. One thing I’ve gotten really great at is maintaining my self care — facials, network chiropractic, regular trips to the hair/lash salon, float tank. I couldn’t lead anyone or anything if I didn’t care for myself along the way.

Here’s what I feel super stoked about:

I am finally being the leader I’ve always wanted to be and knew I could be, but truly had no idea how to be. The resistance is mostly gone and I am actually doing it and being it.

Partially, I think it’s because I am finally seeing exactly what I need to do and that doing it (ensuring that the businesses supporting my work are properly led and supported) is actually the key to having the time, energy and space to write the books, do the interviews and get back on TV to fulfill my dream of transformational TV.

Agreements, metrics and KPIs. I never imagined I’d be excited about and looking forward to getting those locked in.

If you want to get excited with me and truly step into the next level of your own leadership, watch the next video in the Transformational Business Leader video series.

This one is about the 5 Essential Elements of a multi-million dollar transformational business. If you have any desire to impact on a big scale and have the business in place to support that impact, watch the video series now.

Alright, this was long and it’s time for me to get back to agreements, metrics and KPIs so I can make it to my facial on time.

I’ll be back this weekend with some details about the agreements I created, system I am using to track my metrics and the KPIs I landed on to track the health of the company.

Enjoy your Friday! May it be full of actions that move your life and business forward in the most ideal ways for you.

Love beyond the beyond,

Ali

PS — There’s a whole thread of super enlightening and entertaining comments below the video. Look for my comment there and reply to it so we can dialogue about what we are learning in the series.

Register for the series and watch the video here.

Two strikes, Bases Loaded and I’m at Bat…Again (What to Do When the Pressure Is On)

I’m at quite the interesting place in my life and business. I’ve been here twice before and both times before, I struck out.

The first time was in 2008, I had hit a million dollars of revenue in my first business for two years in a row and I had started a second business that was on track to a million.

I had published a bestselling book and I was ready to shift from my one-to-one service based law practice into spending all my time coaching other lawyers and educating families and business owners about the benefits of legal planning.

So, I sold my law practice. But, I did it all wrong. Instead of making any money on it, I lost $250,000.

Strike 1.

By 2009, I had recovered from that loss and once again I had two businesses. They would bring in $2,000,000 that year.

I was appearing on national TV regularly.

House by the ocean, kids in private school, first class travel.

I was living the dream.

But, I felt trapped by the dream. It was becoming a nightmare. I couldn’t figure out how to maintain this dream AND be all of who I really am.

Heck, I didn’t even know what that meant. I just knew the way it was all happening looked awesome, but it felt terrible.

So I gave it all up.

It was a somewhat slow and torturous process, but by 2012, I had dismantled everything in such a way that while the businesses would earn $1mm that year, I was only earning $5,000/mo, living on my farm and preparing to file bankruptcy.

Strike 2.

After the bankruptcy, I made the decision to rebuild, but on a whole new foundation.

As J.K. Rowling once wrote, “Rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

So for the past 2.5 years, I have been rebuilding. And facing all my old dragons. The one’s that led to my past successes and the failures that followed.

One by one, they have arisen.

The temptation to cut corners.

The temptation to abdicate my leadership.

The temptation to swing between micro-managing and not looking at all because I don’t know how to find the middle ground of true health.

The temptation to give away my power, again and again and again. And then be surprised when I’m not respected for that.

And each one I have faced and met and made hard choices and slayed the dragon. I have had incredible guidance along the way.

Now, I’m back on the plate. Right back where I was in 2009. The bases are loaded.

Last year, the two companies that support my work in the world did $2,500,000 of revenue (combined).

More than in 2009.

They were led by CEOs other than me, which was great, but ultimately not sustainable.

I used the time and space I was afforded by their leadership to grow up. To discover the truth of who I am. To upgrade a major piece of my work (in the form of the Money Map) that was screaming out for my attention.

And now, I’m back in the game. I am being called to step back into leadership. This time with the understanding of what it means to be a leader.

I feel a tremendous sense of resistance, uncertainty and fear. I can’t believe I’m right back here again.

I’m scared to death. I can feel my life being taken over again, just like it was pre-2009.

The count is 3 and 2. It’s the ninth inning. The score is tied.

We’re either going big or we’re going home.

I want to go home. The pressure feels way too intense. I am not sure I can really do it. I want to sabotage it like I did in 2008, when I sold my first business, and in 2010, when I shrunk everything I had created down to “manageable.”

Lost and confused, I reach out to everyone I know and trust for help and guidance.

I even call in my astrologer friends for answers.

And then tonight, I watched a video that caused it all to click into place. I dropped the resistance immediately. I saw the big picture so clearly.

It all makes sense now.

The resistance falls away.

The clarity rushes in.

Of course…

Of course…

Of course…

I’m up at bat.  Ready to hit it out of the park and bring all the runners home.

More details tomorrow …

To your eyes (and heart) wide open life,
Ali

PS — the video I watched is by one of my mentors, Justin Livingston.  Justin has created a video series on mastering the art of building a transformational business that reminds me of exactly why I got into business in the first place and is exactly what I personally need to make the leap beyond where I’ve been twice before.

I’m ready to breakthrough this place I’ve been twice before and step into my next level.  If you’ve got a multi-6 or early 7-figure business, you’re going to want to watch this video too.