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Do Red-Hot Customers Make You Want to Lose Your Cool?

Let’s face it, we’ve all had those customers that just push our buttons and makes us want to flip our lid. However, with the invention of social media, losing our cool in a public forum could lead to serious, business-killing consequences.  It’s now more important than ever to ensure that you keep your cool in the face of a customer meltdown. A well-managed customer complaint could turn them from angry to raving fan… and raving fans love to shout their joy.

I know managing these folks can be extra hard in-the-moment when your emotions run high, so I found it extremely helpful to write out a 6-step process that I have memorized. I can recite my steps in a pinch to help keep control of the situation.

Today, I’m going to teach you how to B.E.C.O.O.L:

  • B - Be Assertive
  • E - Extend Your Speech
  • C - Count Down Your Response
  • O - Offer a Break
  • O - Overstress the Positive
  • L - Lead with Power
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Be Assertive

I’ll repeat, ASSERTIVE not aggressive or passive. Being assertive, in my mind, is to say what you mean, mean what you say, and don’t be mean when you say it.

Let me give you an example. A customer says, “I want my money back, I don’t care if it’s past the return date.”

  • An aggressive response would be: “Yeah, and I want my time back, what are you going to do about it?”
  • A passive response would be: “Sure, I’ll talk to my manager about refusing you for absolutely no reason, would you like me to do that for you?”
  • The IDEAL (assertive) response should be: “I know it can be frustrating for you, however our policies are in place to protect all of our customers while also protecting our interests and inventory. I’ll provide you with the number to reach our head office should you wish to make a complaint. I can also recommend selling the product privately to recoup your costs.”

In the assertive example, you are standing your ground as your position requires while still providing options to the customer. They may not have achieved what they set out to, though you can feel confident you’ve offered every solution you could.

Let this rule guide your conversations with all customers and you will always be confident, cool, and in control AND you’ll always be professional.

Extend Your Speech

Slow and steady wins the race. You’ll be amazed at how much more clearly you can think and how much control and confidence you experience when you consciously slow down your rate of speech. Speak slowly and methodically when your emotional triggers are launched and you’ll maintain poise during difficult conversations.

Need an example? Check out this world champion speaker, Dananjaya Hettiarachchi as he captivates and controls his audience.

Watch Dananjaya Hettiarachchi Speak

Listen to how calm and collected he sounds, the even pace of his voice, and how he uses pauses to ensure he collects his thoughts and presents his points with ease and grace.

Speaking slower and in a lower volume has been proved to help de-escalate a customer. Want proof of this? I’m sure you’ve already seen it in action. When you are upset and yelling, when the person on the other end is calm and collected, how long can you keep yelling for? Without energies to feed off, rage will naturally subside.

Count Down Your Response

Yes, you are right, this absolutely ties into the above although it also needs to be mentioned on it’s own. It’s human nature to want to blurt out a response. This happens when we spend our time thinking up a response while the customer is still talking.

I used to do this A LOT. What I had to train myself to do is focus on listening. Once the customer finishes, I will use the silence to think, count down from 3 to 1, and once I’m done counting, I reply. It allows your brain a chance to process the information you were given and respond appropriately. It also helps the customer to identify that you were, in fact, listening.  

Don’t get frustrated if you don’t pick this up right away, it takes time. The important thing to do is ensure you are actively thinking through this process every time, until it becomes second nature.

Offer a Break

When you sense that your buttons have been pushed past the point of no return, it likely the customer is feeling the same way. It’s perfectly appropriate to offer a break at this point. Offer to review the situation and call them back, or ask if they could hold the line momentarily. You can tell the customer whatever reasoning sounds best at the time; The point is to get away from the customer for a few seconds so you can re-group.

Do not leave your customer hanging long. If you are offering a call back, make sure it’s the same day. If you need to reconvene a meeting, suggest the earliest possible commencement. This is intended as a break to calm minds and hearts, not to put the situation off.  

Overstress the Positive

There’s no way to avoid sounding like Dr. Phil on this one, aand I’m quite serious. Instead of saying to yourself, “I don’t get paid enough to put up with this #$%&.” Say something more positive like “This guy really needs my help.”

Thinking more positively helps you respond more positively and professionally. Negative thoughts lead to negative words, and it spirals into a very negative situation.

I know that it sounds impossible in some situations however it could be paramount in maintaining a professional calm.

You might be thinking, “What if I don’t have anything positive to say?”

Well, then you might be in the wrong professional. Many customer service professionals do what they do to make a difference, improve lives and interactions. Sometimes just focusing on your own WHY rather than reasons to be upset can take the heat off.

Lead with Power

Often, a subtle suggestion of your “power” is far more effective than the outright use of your power. It’s a difficult concept to explain, so I’m going to use an example from early on in my working career.

At one point, I worked on customer service lines at a call center. If a customer was being outright abusive, we had the ability to advise them we would terminate the call.

You can say this more than one way, of course, and only the right way will prevent customer nuclear meltdowns.

You could say to your customer: “If you don’t stop yelling, I will terminate this call.”

Or you could say, “I want to help you, but when you yell and cut me off, you make it difficult for me to work with you.”

The latter statement demonstrates your power and your message will get across. The former statement uses up your ammunition and won’t usually diffuse an irate customer, though rather add fuel to the fire.

Another great way to lead with power is to remove the phrase “you have to” and replace it with “you will need to”. Why you ask? No one likes to be told what to do, and words like “have” implied you are giving an order. By using NEED instead, you are implying that it’s out of your control, a need exists and must be filled before a goal can be reached. Makes it easier for the customer to understand that you cannot take certain actions without saying no directly.

These incredibly simple tips will help you keep cool when customers’ tempers burn hot.

It takes practice, and no one is perfect, though I am completely confident that with a little practice, you too will be able to master and customer blowout!

And of course, we are always ready and willing to provide support.

Head over to our Facebook Group!

B2B Solution Swap - Where Peers Help Peers

Or shoot me a message!

Click here to email Sacha.

And, if this has left you feeling emotional, check out our recent blog!

How to Manage your Emotions in Three Simple Steps

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Beat Blogging Burnout and Boost Your Bottom Line

As the dog days of summer drag on, are you feeling the heat? You know the kind of heat I'm talking about.....

The freshness of spring has worn off and been replaced with that seemingly endless, dragging feeling that fall might never arrive. You lost your new year zeal quite awhile back. It's the middle of the summer slow down; the pocketbook is feeling it. You're trying to focus forward to an exciting, and profitable holiday season. You need to end this year with a bang.

And then, on top of it all, you have your gosh darn blog to maintain. You're feeling dry and it's showing in your writing, and your stats. You're feeling the heat. You are just burned out on the whole shebang right now. You wonder at times if it is even worth it.

You wonder at times if it is even worth it.

It does, you know this. You know that, when done right, a blog with well-structured SEO can help to build a larger, more consistent audience, and enables you to pop into more and more search options.

If you are sitting there and truly wondering whether or not blogging is helpful, then you should READ THIS.

If I lost you at SEO, READ THIS instead.

By the end of your reading adventure, you should be well aware as to the benefits (and necessity) of having a blog.

What to do? Sigh.

First, you need to realize, you are not alone. I don't know a serious blogger who does not struggle with the same. The successful ones have learned how to manage burnout and experience it a whole lot less though. They keep that winning edge more consistently, without sacrificing sanity to do it.

How?

Use a three-pronged attack on blogging burnout.

Start with a foundation of caring for yourself, and keep it a priority. Remind yourself that nothing is worth sacrificing your health or sanity for.  Also keep in mind... if you don't care for yourself, who will lead your business when you are unable to? Think about it and keep yourself number one. Besides, you wouldn't treat others as you do yourself, now, would you?

So, first you will be nurturing yourself, but the second prong requires you to roll up your sleeves and get tough with yourself about the nitty gritty of blogging. Find ways to be more efficient in what you do, across the board. Becoming more productive is money in the bank, and less pressure on you. It creates a little breathing room. Ahhhhh. Yes, that. That is our goal.

The third prong is to not do it at all. Kinda'. I bet that threw you for a loop! No, I don't mean give up and close down your blog.

What I DO mean is, there are other ways. You should use them. And we will share what they are, after we delve into the details of applying the first two prongs. Besides, it is fun keeping you in suspense...

Prong One: Support Your Favorite Blogger

Your favorite blogger had better be yourself. Why? Because if you can't even interest yourself, it is doubtful you will stay interesting to others. I cannot imagine a comedian not laughing at his own jokes. It is the same with blogging. If you aren't your favorite blogger, then start working on becoming it.

Then I want you to start caring for your favorite blogger like you should. Treat yourself as well as you would others. It is a challenge, I know, but the future of your business depends on you having that edge. You can't get it and keep it if you are not nurturing yourself.

If you don't maintain your car, it can't keep on performing well indefinitely. So, we maintain them and it is a given in our lives. Surely you can treat yourself at least as well as you do your car. Just do it.

Nurture your body, mind, and spirit.

Eat right, move more. Stress less, learn more. Speak less, listen more. Mostly, we know these things. It is applying them consistently that trips us up. Commit to it and do the work to develop the habits you need to support yourself.

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Sometimes, we are weak with those “no's” because we aren't solid our priorities. I love the meme I see floating around that says something about replacing the words “I don't have time” with “It is not a priority to me”. How powerful!

To apply that and see things in an all new light, get out a sheet of paper and a pen. I want you to draw a line down the middle. On the left side, put a header that says: My Priorities. Over the right hand column, write: NOT a Priority.

Now you will list everything you do every day.....in the appropriate column. Include those things you should do but never seem to find time for. Also list those things that are vying for attention they should not have. Then add the items others are asking you to do, but you know, deep down, you shouldn't.

Some examples:
  • My left hand column includes most REAL work activities. It does not count looking-like-I-am-working activities like watching random videos on YouTube, stalking social media to see what's up, chit chatting, or getting lost in fascinations on Google.
  • The left hand column also includes the stuff I consider priority but don't find enough time for: targeted exercise, eating, sleeping, brushing my hair......and time with those I love.
  • My right hand column includes: selling an MLM product for a friend just because I love her, social events I have no desire to attend, and every back-burner project I have in varying states of incompleteness. The work activities in my “Priority” column are front burner projects only.

When you feel the lists are complete, I want you to get some scissors. Cut off the right hand side of the paper. Ball it up and throw it away. The remaining list is what you will be doing daily. Now we will move on to how to do that list more efficiently.

Prong Two: Get Tough About Productivity

Now that you have eliminated all the things that are not a priority, you can focus on those that are. Most likely, the items you listed as priority, but you are not consistently doing, can be managed with a good dose of self-discipline. Start working on developing the habits you need to do those items and do them efficiently. Again, just do it. Nobody enjoys establishing new habits, but they sure do offer a great return in increased productivity, without wearing out your hard working brain.

Another strategy that frees your mind up for better things is to create work flow systems. Any time you have to do the same thing repeatedly, develop a system for it, follow it, then you can throw your cheat sheet away after awhile. You will naturally follow the system and be much faster.

Examples:
  • When I sit down to write, I don't have to think about what step is next. I automatically jot down any research I need to do, do it, create an outline, write a first draft, take a breather, go back and edit and tweak, send it in, invoice for it, job done. I never do it another way because I have found what works best for me.
  • When I do what I call my social media fly-bys, I use a system and do it the same way every day. I check out stats for every account, and check messages and comments I missed while I was sleeping. I reply where needed. Then, onto my “On This Day” to see if there is anything I want to reuse. Next, I check out my feed. I save posts I'd like to share purposely later. Then I show the love by flitting around liking and commenting, and I check on anyone who is on my heart and I've not “seen” in awhile. I always do it the same way....and yes, I time it. I knew you would immediately wonder how I managed such a potential time suck.

When you feel the lists are complete, I want you to get some scissors. Cut off the right hand side of the paper. Ball it up and throw it away. The remaining list is what you will be doing daily. Now we will move on to how to do that list more efficiently.

One more word about the value of having systems in place.

One more word about the value of having systems in place. What is not included in the system is just as important as what is. You will notice my work flow for writing does not include dozens of pre-writing activities we tend to use to procrastinate. My social media workflow does not include game time or chit chatting just to be doing it. I chat with purpose. 

That brings me to another tool you can use to relieve some of the pressure you feel. Make rules for yourself. Write them down. Have rewards and consequences. Then do it and enforce them.  When you are an entrepreneur, there are times you have to kick your own butt into gear. Be tough about sticking to your rules.

Examples of rules I use:
  • My morning social media fly by is thirty minutes long and I reward myself with some music therapy afterwards if I don't go over. I use that time to dance around, get the blood pumping, and tackle some household tasks. When I go over my thirty minutes, those tasks are going to be waiting for me when I am done for the day, and I must get right to work.
  • I'm not allowed to get my evening glass of wine if I don't hit my writing goals
  • My reward for knocking off my daily task list early is I get to work on back burner projects.

You know your weak areas. Create rules that address them and then don't cut yourself much slack.

Prong Three: Don't Do It All Yourself

There are other ways to get posts done with little, or even no effort. When you start feeling burned out, fall back on these to lighten the load and still keep your blog active and interesting:

Use guest bloggers.

It doesn't get much easier than this. Invite a blogging friend to contribute a post. The guest benefits from reaching your audience, and you benefit the same way because they will share the post with theirs. It benefits your audience because they get to enjoy a little variety.It doesn't get much easier than this. Invite a blogging friend to contribute a post. The guest benefits from reaching your audience, and you benefit the same way because they will share the post with theirs. It benefits your audience because they get to enjoy a little variety.

You don't have blogging friends in your niche? Get some. Those people are not your enemies, but the ones you want to network with.. You will always be more successful by working with competitors instead of against them. Seeing them as somehow being “the enemy” is a rotten mindset that won't take you far.

Invest in some good PLR.

Quality PLR can be a lifesaver when you are feeling uninspired and brain dead. It can also be a total waste of your time and money if you don't do it right. Making it your own is more than using a thesaurus to switch out some words, or rearranging things a bit. That's just lazy....and a waste of time. There will be no life in it.

Quality PLR can be a lifesaver when you are feeling uninspired and brain dead. It can also be a total waste of your time and money if you don't do it right. Making it your own is more than using a thesaurus to switch out some words, or rearranging things a bit. That's just lazy....and a waste of time. There will be no life in it.

The way I use PLR comes from a particular homeschooling discipline, narration, made popular by Charlotte Mason. It's simply the process of repeating back, accurately, what you have just read. It is a valuable skill to have. So, I take my PLR, read a chunk, then without cheating and peeking at it, I just write what I read in my own words. I get the raw information down that way, then go back, edit, and polish it. Job done, with very little effort.

Using PLR eliminates the steps of researching and outlining. Then, if you use the tool of narration to make it your own, all that's left to do is a little bit of editing and some polish.

Hire a ghostwriter.

This is another effortless way to keep your blog going while taking a break from it yourself. When you use a ghostwriter, your name is on it, they are legally your words and you get all the glory, while somebody else does all the work.This is another effortless way to keep your blog going while taking a break from it yourself. When you use a ghostwriter, your name is on it, they are legally your words and you get all the glory, while somebody else does all the work.

A benefit of using a ghostwriter is you don't even have to put time into polishing it, making sure it's optimized to appeal to search engines, and fixing grammatical errors. Every bit of that is taken care of for you. You can publish your ghostwritten pieces with confidence that they are professionally written. All you have to do is schedule them. That's as close to a vacation from your blog as you can get without shutting it down.

Using ghostwriters also comes in handy when you are anything but burned out and are wanting to put more time into other pursuits. Most of us have back burner projects we are anxious to get to. Hiring somebody else to do the actual writing of your blog posts can free you up enough to slide one of them to a front burner.

I hope you are coming away from this with ideas you will implement right away.... if not to fix burnout, then to prevent it. I will add one last tip that applies to any type of business, not just blogging.

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Be your own boss, but don't be a Lone Ranger.

Develop relationships with others who do what you do. They understand your challenges. They can also have insights in areas you are stumped. Join business groups, whether it is your local Chamber of Commerce, an online Mastermind group, or a Facebook group.

Find the people who are successfully doing what you aspire to do... or are struggling to do. Watch them, learn from them... and give back. When you get good in, give it back out and help somebody else. We are all in this together. We can work against one another and stay all stressed out, or we can work together and everyone benefits. Find your tribe and if you can't, create one.

Do you have a favorite tip or tactic you use to help prevent, or recover from, blog burnout?

  • We'd love to hear it! Simply comment below.

Do you need peer support?

Does hiring a ghostwriter sound like the answer for you?

  • We have slashed prices on our blog post packages by a third, AND added a very exciting free bonus ($750 value, whaaaaat!), but the offer ends soon (July 17th, 2017!!).

CLICK HERE: Sassy Lasses Summer Blog Content Creation Package

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Get Sassy with Your Inner Critic

As an entrepreneur, you are constantly striving to learn and grow. There are no failures, only opportunities to learn more. You apply what you learn and work your plans to do better. You want to be more. You seek excellence in all you do. That is a good recipe for success.

It is not without its weak areas though. You are also in the position of having to evaluate your own performance, and tweak what needs it yourself. That takes brutal honesty and, at times, a need to get sassy with yourself. That can be a tough job.

Also, since you are pursuing excellence, each time you do better, you set the bar higher, outside of your comfort zone. That is fine, as it keeps you growing. Stretching yourself is good.

Sometimes, you tend to not cut yourself enough slack. You crank it up a notch, then berate yourself for not excelling. You are not being fair to yourself when you do that. If you keep it up, you can start feeling as if you are never achieving anything. It also leaves the door wide open for that inner critic to start harassing you.

If you are not careful, you can start agreeing with a harsh inner critic. If you don’t manage that critic, it can have you believing lies about yourself until they do indeed manifest. You can become what you fear most.

The thing you need to understand is this: the conversations you have in your head can make you or break you. How you speak to yourself can move you forward to creating a life of your dreams. It can also cause fear and stagnation. From there, unchecked, you can start moving backwards and even end up stuck in destructive thinking. I’ve seen it; I’ve lived it.

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How do you fight a cruel inner critic?  

It's not that difficult. It just takes consistency. To make that easier for you, here is our Sassy Guide to Taming the Inner Critic in Five Simple Steps:

  • Is it true?
  • Don't wallow.
  • Be kind to you.
  • Bad stuff out. Good stuff in.
  • Show it who is boss and prove it.

Does your inner critic have a point?

The first step to taming your inner critic is to honestly ask yourself if it has a legitimate point.

Ouch. That can be difficult. But it is also a key to growth...and bigger, better things. You should evaluate what it must say.

If there is a valid point - rejoice! You found an area that can be improved on. Now focus and do what it takes to improve. Move forward purposefully, knowing this process will get you to where you want to be.

On the other hand, if you feel like your inner critic is just being mean and the accusations hold no merit, go ahead and get bossy. Tell it to shut up. Throw some proof in its face. Then ignore it and carry on.

Don't wallow.

So, you sought truth. The truth was, you could have done better. You know it. That inner critic has a point. How to proceed?

Just own it and move on, more determined to do better in that area. There is no need to beat yourself up for a certain period before you can move forward. So, you didn't step up, or made a mistake. Big deal...show me one successful person who hasn't. The difference is in how you handle mistakes, not that you never make them.

Don't wallow in a mistake. Face it, learn from it, then shake it off and keep moving in the direction of your goals. Now you are even better equipped to reach them.

Be as kind to YOU (as you are to others).

Imagine you have a friend that is listening to his or her inner critic. That critic is being brutal...and it is not doing them a bit of good. Entertaining thoughts against self has brought this person to a low place.

Now, ask yourself how you would speak to this person. Would you ever say the things you say to yourself? Probably not. You'd have compassion and be kind.

But, oh how often we are cruel to ourselves, echoing the garbage the inner critic threw at us. Ruminating on it, rubbing our faces in it. Punishing ourselves. We tend to be anything but kind when speaking to ourselves.

How dare you treat another human being with unkindness, even when that human is you.

You need to treat yourself with the same patience, love, and kindness you show others. When my girls were growing up and going through those painful teenage years, self-bashing was common. When it would happen, I'd declare, “How dare you talk about my daughter that way - take it back!”.

If you are speaking hatefully to yourself, take it back. Apologize to yourself and try harder the next time. Make kindness towards yourself the rule.

Bad stuff out. Good stuff in.

You have now thrown out the bad stuff. The lies from a mean-spirited inner critic were held up against truth., were exposed, and thrown out as mental garbage. That is a powerful step, but it is only the first step.

Now, you need to replace that garbage with what builds you up and feeds your soul. You need to use positive affirmations. They are your soul food and your weapon against the critic.

Feed yourself often with affirmations that build you up and move you forward. Speak them, write them, sing them. Make them a part of you; be strong and continue to grow.

When the inner critic tries to put you down, your positive affirmations are your weapon against it. When it calls you a failure...? Declare, “I am not! I am a learner, a doer, and an achiever, so you can hush your mouth!”

Be authoritative... get sassy!

Put that critic in its place!

Show it who is boss and prove it.

The last step is reminding the inner critic of your place. You'll show 'em!

Don't just tell that inner critic to hush.....prove it wrong.

How to do that? 

*Get an attitude.
*Find your inner sass and use it.
*Be fierce.
*Show your determination.
*Dig deep until you find that place in you that will do whatever it takes to succeed.
*Tap into it, and let it loose!

Then do the steps and prove it.

Gee...where is that negative inner voice now? It has nothing to work with and has grown silent. Mission accomplished!

And what did you do in the meantime?

No small feat, you took who you were and made yourself even better. You stretched yourself; Stepped outside of the comfort zone, applied yourself, and did the stuff it takes to prove the critic wrong.

OooooRah! Go, YOU!

Was this helpful?

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Send us a message, or leave us a comment; We would LOVE to hear from you!  

In case you missed it, you can also find more on shifting destructive thinking -> CLICK HERE!

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CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD the "Sassy Solutions - How To Quickly Shift Destructive Thinking"

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3 Free WordPress Plugins for Emerging Entrepreneurs

It’s Friday, in July, when I should be out frolicking and enjoying the sun. Instead, I’m happily working away at websites and content, helping clients bring out their best.

Along my travels today, it struck me that I have yet to divulge some of my favorite things to use. As a designer and business owner, I feel it’s my duty to hit you up with my top three WordPress plugins and why I love them.

(The plugins listed below are available free, though most have an upgrade option. None of my endorsements are paid, I just really like these tools.)

Elementor Plugin

If you build WP sites, you may have heard of this already. Or, maybe you haven’t! Elementor is a plugin developer tool that you can use in conjunction with any theme to standardize your capabilities. It incorporates any inherent functions right in. Elementor includes many useful widgets; Include your favorite plugins and WordPress widgets automatically, and simply drag and drop them into the page. So, no coding required, just seamless integration.

That being said, it doesn’t prevent me from coding and getting technical when I need too. It’s also a favorite to hand off to clients when they intend to manage their own maintenance. (Reads; EASY TO LEARN!)

Free to use on any personal site, and licenses available for developers (which I have!), makes this a winner in my books.

Check it out here -> Elementor

YOAST Plugin

YOAST is a plugin that makes SEO user friendly. Truly!

I know what you are thinking, “how can YOAST really be easy to use when I don’t even understand SEO?”

(By the way, if this is you, hop over to our blog post on SEO; it’ll help clear a few things up! - CLICK HERE)

The whole point of this tool is to make it an easy, user-friendly experience to get your SEO game up to par. Offering features on each post, and as an overall component, to ensure no page is left untouched!

It also analyzes text and composition to make sure you’re text is easy to read, engaging, AND still gets picked up by the bots. Cool hey?

Check it out here -> YOAST

Sumo Plugin

While I have only recently jumped on this bandwagon it’s already clear to me why this tool is so popular!

In just a few days, I’ve doubled my traffic. #boom

Sumo is a plugin that enhances your social media experience, both for yourself and your visitors. You can choose what they see and where, to ensure you’re catching attention.

With amazing built in features like image and quote sharing, google and post analytics, and even list building options, it’s rapidly become a must-have for all of my clients.

Like the others, it’s free to use, but the pro features are ABSOLUTELY worth it. Give it a try, you’ll be glad you did!

Check it out here -> SUMO

That's my 2 cents!

There you have it, my winning combination. Sure, I’m not limited to them, but everyone has favorites and these are mine.

Keep in mind folks, it's not always about the newest, best, most advanced tools, but the tools that work best within your preferred work style and see results. 

Are your tools getting you results? What are some of YOUR favorite tools? Let me know in the comments below!

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7 Traits Most Successful Leaders Share and Value

We sometimes talk about people in terms of their followings. So-and-so has 28,000 followers... and this person over here has 5700, but poor little such-n-such... she only has 320 followers. Somehow, we have begun to equate the number of followers we have with success.

That's because we don't think it through. The number of followers you have doesn't matter much if they are not engaged with you. The figures I shared are rough numbers from three different companies I've worked with, so I am familiar with their stats.

Would it surprise you to know that the person who is barely staying in business is the one with all the followers? The other two are equally successful financially, but one is ten-plus years into her business plan...and the poor little thing who only has 320 followers? She is about a year and a half into her business plan.

What's the difference? They all apply social media marketing strategies. No one of them has a huge advantage over the others. Well, except for one area. The successful ones have engaged audiences.

Why do they have such high engagement rates? Is it because of some new app, or social media strategy? If you google “how to increase social media following”, you'd sure think that's all there is to it. But, nope. That's not it.

It is because they are leaders. We humans have this natural tendency to want to follow the leader. Following a worthy leader gives us a sense of community, a common cause, and a hero.

In social media marketing, the community is your page. The common cause is the problem you solve as a business. YOU are the hero. Wow. That's heavy. 

You're a LEADER!

You are in a position of leadership.You can't escape this role of hero, so it would be wise to evaluate your leadership skills. Strong leaders have active followings with little effort. Weak leaders see nobody wanting to follow and wonder why. We are going to look, first at what qualities make a leader, and then how to develop them. You can be the hero your people need, even if it doesn't come naturally.

Here are seven traits most successful leaders have in common:

  • Love. They mean it.
  • Example. They live it.
  • Authenticity. They are who they seem to be.
  • Decisive. They confidently make decisions.
  • Enthusiastic. Their passion is contagious.
  • Relationship-builders. They don't talk TO people, they interact WITH them.
  • Steadfast and Strong. Leadership is tough. They are tougher.

Let's look at each trait individually.

LOVE

To be a leader people want to follow, you need to leave little love prints everywhere you go. You need to respond in love, be motivated by love, with a goal of serving those you lead because you care about them.

But what if you don't feel love for them?

There are a couple things to do. First, search your heart. Make sure you are in the niche you should be in if you don't have a heart for your followers. Faking it will get old, is a lot of work, and truth always shines through eventually.

Next, make more of an effort to get to know them. People want to feel heard, and it helps you get a feel for their problems so you can better meet their needs. Given the chance, most people love to give their opinion. You can do that through surveys, creating posts asking for a response, and even by simply asking them, one-on-one. Sometimes, in this age of technology, we have forgotten how important a personal touch is.

Take a little time to mingle with your tribe, on-on-one.

Now, I know, I know... when you have thousands, or even tens or hundreds of thousands of followers, you can't possibly keep close tabs on them all. But, you can set aside just a small amount of time each day to do just that... connect with people personally.

I call my time set aside for this my “fly-by's”. Twice a day, I take 15 minutes to connect with people. Sometimes I have somebody on my mind. Then, I just fly by and say hi in a quick message, ask how they are....and keep it short. Other times, I post on their timeline or send them a meme that made me think of them. I might share a word of encouragement. It's simply a matter of letting people know you care.

As an aside, yes, I do that at times with people I do not know. Strangers are friends waiting to happen so I just love them like I do all the ones I have already met.

However the purpose of this exercise is not just to share the love....it is to gather information. Listen to what people say, listen even closer to what they feel. Ask yourself what their real needs are. Ask how you can help meet those needs. In the process of getting to know your followers and digging deep to the heart of their needs, you will develop love for them. It might come easier to some than others, but it will affect your heart. It will soften to them, to their needs... and they will feel that and respond.

EXAMPLE

Leaders walk the solutions that the followers need. You are the walking-talking proof that what you offer works and what they want can be done. Let me give you a few examples...

A friend of mine markets a nutritional approach to treating autism. She has seen remarkable results by applying what she teaches to her son. She proves it can be done.

Another friend markets to a target niche of mature bodybuilders. He is walking proof you can be in tip-top shape at any age... and placed in a bodybuilding competition last year.

I'm working on a domestic violence recovery guide... as I walk out my own recovery daily.

Ask yourself, honestly, if you are that example of success to your followers. If you coach or teach, be walking out the principles you talk about. If you sell a product, be consistent in using it so you are proof of its effectiveness. If you are teaching others how to do something, you need to be the example of how it is done.

This leads us to the next leadership trait we are going to focus on...

AUTHENTICITY

The obvious reason to be authentic as a leader is simply that truth will eventually come out. If you are living lies, the illusion will not last forever. You are better off putting energy into being, in reality, what you are portraying.

If you are a motivational speaker who must fake a happy face because your inner world is a mess, you need to fix that. If you sell a brand of cosmetics, but use another, just stop it, or get out of the business. If you teach others how to eat only healthy, natural foods, but can be caught with empty M&M bags in your back seat, shame on you. You might be able to pull off temporary success by faking it, but it will not be lasting. 

A less obvious reason for being authentic is that is where your personal power can be found. You will never be a true leader if you are just an imitation of somebody else. Learn from other leaders, apply what you learn, but specialize in being you. Then be you, all you, all the time and watch your tribe grow.

DECISIVE

Effective leaders make decisions with confidence. They consider the situation, make an intelligent choice, and then resolutely act on it.

That acting on it is key. A decision isn't really a decision until it is acted upon and walked out. Saying you are getting married, and saying “I do” are two different things. It is the same with saying you will write a book. It is just a thought until you decide to write it. Remember that. Decisions are made to be walked out.

Procrastination is often a sign of a lack of confidence in this area. If you find yourself chronically procrastinating on decisions, or on walking them out, ask yourself what you are afraid of. If it is simply a fear of making a mistake, you should get over it. Most successes came after many mistakes. It's called learning from your experiences and leaders are masters at it.

You also want to make decisions efficiently. A leader leads. Leading indicates forward movement. If you are stuck someplace agonizing over a decision, you aren't moving. So, how can anyone follow?

Don't be impulsive, make educated choices, but don't take forever to make them.

ENTHUSIASTIC

Have you ever seen a leader step onto a stage to speak, kinda dragging, mopey, and un-enthused? Of course not! Who would want to follow in those footsteps?

Remember, as leaders, we are supposed to be walking out the solutions our followers need. If those solutions don't offer enough to excite you, nobody else is going to buy into whatever it is you are selling.

As with the other leadership traits, if you honestly find yourself lacking in excitement over what you do, perhaps it is time to evaluate your path. Ideally, for lasting success that at times is effortless, you should be doing that which lights your soul on fire and makes you glow to speak of. If it doesn't, maybe you should find ways to monetize that which does.

So, leaders are enthused about their business. They are also excited about life and let it show. They smile. They have bounce. They are happy people. People enjoy being around them because they give off such a good vibe. That vibe attracts. You are experiencing what they want. They will follow you to get a taste of what you are having.

A word here about enthusiasm and authenticity. Here, I have told you to be authentic, but am also telling you to be excited....in a world where yucky stuff happens to us all. They key is balance. You have to find a balance between being real, and being determined to fake it until you make it.

It's okay to be honest about your struggles. Share your struggles. Show that you too have challenges. Then show others, by example, how you walk solutions out to push forward. Don't run followers off by being that they want to avoid. Instead, show them the way out of it.

RELATIONSHIP-BUILDER

Everything we have talked about regarding leadership deals with building quality relationships. You are not a leader without a following, so by its nature, having a following is a relationship, like any other personal relationship, only it is en-masse. 

In successful relationships, there is give and take, from both sides. You do not keep score, but give from the heart. You receive gratefully, when it comes, but don't get your panties in a wad if it doesn't.  You don't do nice things for one another just to get something in return. You don't expect something back each time you give. It's an easy passing back and forth of the love that binds you.

You've developed trust in the relationship, so you don't get suspicious when he comes home with flowers, or she baked your favorite dessert for no reason. You give, and take, in a spirit of love, and have developed trust.

Trust is the foundation of good relationships. Trust is also what gets sales. It is what gets referrals. It is what puts food on your table and helps you reach your financial goals. Yes, ideally, we are all here to serve, but we are also here to make money doing it. 

If you want to see your engagement go up, see your sales increase, and take it to the next level, focus on building relationships.

In a loving relationship, you give your followers value, whether it is through information, products, a service... and they give you trust and their hard-earned money.

Real love gives anyway, while finding the sweet spot that motivates a purchase. Then when you have found the need and met it, the sale comes. That's love in action and is what will bring engagement and financial increase.

STEADFAST AND STRONG

No discussion of leadership qualities would be complete without mentioning the need for strength and determination. Assuming a leadership role is not without its costs. It will stress you, test you, and try to break you.

If you allow it, it can also grow you into even more than you are now; but little about it is easy. Life isn't easy, and as a leader, you are being watched as you navigate through it. Followers will take notice of how you handle the tough stuff of life.

Leaders have a steadfast determination to persevere. Even more than that, they have a commitment to standing strong with integrity. We recently did another blog post on the subject of integrity. You can find it here -> CLICK HERE.

Leadership will test your strength. It will push your limits mentally, even physically. Leaders must be tough in several areas. One area people don't much like to talk about is how hard it can be on the heart.

It can be emotionally painful to be in leadership.

People will attack you for seemingly no reason. Haters happen. People can be cruel and they will say mean and ugly things about you when you don't deserve it. It won't be fair and it will hurt your feelings. But, you cannot let it derail you.

Wrapping it all up.

When I was raising my children, I taught them that when somebody is critical, if it speaks to an area that needed it, let it soak in. When it speaks to something that is a figment of somebody's imagination or cruel heart, let it roll off of you like water off the back of a duck. To this day, we all use that phrase, “be a duck” to tell one another to blow it off, suck it up, and move on.

So, leaders do need a certain level of emotional toughness. But excellent leaders are tough on the outside and ooey gooey and full of love on the inside. Don't let the pain others try to put on you keep you so tough you can't let the love out.

Which brings us right back to the very first leadership trait I mentioned....LOVE. Live it, share it, be it to those who need it. When it is real, they will notice, then they will follow. Even without a fancy smancy app or new marketing technique! Imagine that!

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