I’ve just spent the past six weeks in Florida, a mix of business and pleasure. In advance of the trip, I was a bit concerned. The itinerary meant I’d miss the last two classes of a seminar series on business growth and management, a series that I had thus far thoroughly enjoyed and which taught me a number of important lessons. The funny thing is, I’ve learned even more business lessons just from casual observation and encounters on the days that I’ve been relaxing. To wit:
1. A smile can get you a lot. Most afternoons, I took walks along the harbor as much for exercise as for enjoying the weather and scenery. I was in plenty of good company, and nearly every passer-by would look me in the eyes and smile while saying “Hello,” or something of that sort. Each greeting was genuine, because the smiles were genuine. (You can “hear” a smile in a person’s voice, too. Alternately, you can tell if the sentiment isn’t entirely sincere by both tone and facial expressions.) The greetings never failed to boost my mood, and I soon started doing the same, even commenting “cute dog!” to people with puppies. The business lesson? A little sincere enthusiasm goes a long way toward making people receptive to you. Alternately, people can tell when you’re simply going through the motions.
2. Stick it to “stinkin’ thinkin.” One afternoon, I went boating with my Dad. He’d just bought his boat within the past year, and this was the first time I was onboard. It was also the first time in a long time that we’d gone out on the water together. When he asked if I wanted to take the wheel, I turned him down, joking that I preferred to be a lady of leisure. Secretly, I could think was, “This is his baby… what if I don’t handle it the way he wants?” A few minutes later, as we approached a marina, I got lines and fenders ready at his request; I did it with ease this time, because I told myself I could do it. The business lesson? When thoughts along the lines of “what if it doesn’t work?” creep into your mind, counter them with “but what if it does?” A business associate of mine calls the former “stinkin’ thinkin’,” and all it does it prevent you from achieving.
3. Some selfies simply don’t make sense. On one of my earliest walks, I encountered an alligator, thankfully several yards away not the least bit interested in me. I encountered him again toward the end of my stay. Being a user of social media and resident of the Northeast, I knew my Facebook friends would get a kick out of seeing him, so I whipped out my iPhone… snapping a picture from a safe distance (above). The business lesson? Small-business owners, particularly solo-preneurs, are often advised to share photos of themselves at events and in the field; just make sure you use your head, lest you lose your head, literally or figuratively.