Confidence – a Critical Business Skill

Umbrella

Recently, I read a tweet by Chris Knight (of EzineArticles) that humble confidence is very attractive.  I agree.  It got me thinking about what exactly confidence is and what makes it attractive.  I also got curious about what other notable people have said on the topic of confidence.  To my delight, plenty has been said to urge us to cultivate this most desirable attribute.

Here are five of my favorite quotable thoughts on confidence.

  • If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life.  With confidence, you have won even before you have started. 

Marcus Garvey

  • Inaction breeds doubt and fear.  Action breeds confidence and courage.  If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it.  Go out and get busy.

Dale Carnegie

  • Self-confidence is the first requisite of great undertakings. 

Samuel Jackson

  • Attempt easy tasks as if they were difficult, and difficult (tasks) as if they were easy; in the one case that confidence may not fall asleep, and in the other that it may not be dismayed. 

Baltasar Gracian

  • Believe in yourself.  Have faith in your abilities.  Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers, you cannot be successful or happy. 

Norman Vincent Peale

Confidence is like a good umbrella; it provides an effective cover.  In the context of business, confidence fueled by knowledge, is a powerful complement to any strategy.  It facilitates planning and execution.

Synonyms of confidence include powerful words like buoyancy, coolness, poise, self-assurance, self-belief, and trust.  Very attractive, indeed.

 

© Copyright Rachel Agheyisi and Report Content Writer’s Blog, 2009.

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The funny side of project fees

Start ButtonI thought I’d start this week on a lighter note – on a serious topic.  Billing.

Many independent professionals handle the process of estimating project fees almost effortlessly.  Many agonize over practically over every element of the process.  In my experience, there is no one size that fits all projects.  However, developing a framework, which clearly itemizes resource use (in terms of personnel, hours, consumables, etc) is always helpful for streamlining the process.  The hard part is making time to develop a “master framework” that can be customized to fit each project requirement.

In the meantime, take the tedium out of the endeavor by reading this piece (author unknown) and sipping a soothing cup of your favorite beverage.

 

ESTIMATE POLICY

 If you ask for an estimate and we do the job, staying within the estimate, you will be charged a nominal surcharge as  a bonus to us for accurate guessing.

Kind of funny, eh?  You see, preparing a fee estimate is not a new problem.  Don’t let it be an obstacle to your business success.  Take the lighter side.

© Copyright Rachel Agheyisi and Report Content Writer’s Blog, 2009.

Listening – A Critical Business Skill

exclamation-markKnow how to listen, and you will profit even from those who talk badly.

– Plutarch, Greek biographer and moralist.

 Experts may differ in their definition of business essentials.  I doubt many will dispute the importance of good listening skills to business success.  We live in an era of talkers, among people who love the sound of their own voices and those who see their vocal prowess as their ticket to fame.

However, every successful entrepreneur knows that business communication goes beyond talk to include listening, evaluation, response and action.  If your business involves any negotiation or sales then it is imperative that you make the effort to hone your listening skills.  Given the time constraint faced by busy clients, it is critical to maximize the contact time with them, and listening well is essential.

One of the challenges I face as a white paper writer and consultant is ensuring that I have a clear understanding of my client’s needs.  While research is important to obtaining project information, conversation with the stakeholders is still my preferred way to get the best “feel” for the client’s expectations.  The more my client can tell me during a conversation, the better my chances of matching their project objectives.  For me, active listening is mandatory.

I have found a few practices helpful in improving my one-on-one information gathering time with clients.  I hope you find the following tips beneficial to your business.

1.  Be prepared.  I have found that the more prepared I am before my conversation with a client the better I am at listening.  Being prepared helps me focus on the needs of the client and how best to serve them.  Prior preparation makes the conversation less of an effort and more of an opportunity for me to:

  • Clarify the objectives of the project
  • Fill any gaps in my research
  • Reinforce my company’s readiness to handle the tasks
  • Build rapport with the client.

2.  Ask questions.  Part of being prepared is to have enough information to fuel your inquiries.  I like to write out my questions in longhand and in the sequence that clarify and augment my research.  Writing out the questions saves me from worrying about impromptu phraseology.  I can then focus on speaking in an unrehearsed, natural tone during the conversation.  This works well especially for telephone conversations.  Here are a few other reasons why I prepare by asking questions:

  • If the meeting is about a favorite/familiar subject, having a set of questions handy keeps me from being overly talkative and getting off track.
  • If the topic is technical/complex,  questions help focus the discussion on fundamentals.  I have learned, over time, that practically all topics can be reduced to the “what”, “how”, and where” basics.
  • If the topic is controversial, then asking questions is an efficient way to manage the conversation along productive lines.

3.  Take notes.  This is probably a remnant of my graduate school days, but I am a self-professed list-maker.  It is a habit that has served me well in many situations.  Earlier on in my career, I learned that I could help my brain along by writing things down.  Equally important, in a face-to-face meeting with a client, note taking is an easy way to show the client that you are interested in the conversation.  I can also recall a few situations where the notes I took in a meeting came to my rescue (literally) in resolving project issues.  However, you cannot take useful notes unless you are a good listener.

This may sound counter-intuitive, but the louder the noise level in our social and business world, the more advantageous it is to be a good listener.  Honing your listening skills will improve your ability to serve your clients better and enhance your profile.

Just remember:

No man ever listened himself out of a job – Calvin Coolidge.

© Copyright Rachel Agheyisi and Report Content Writer’s Blog, 2009.

Take a Break – Laugh a Little

LOL ButtonBusy schedule getting you down?

Do you sometimes feel like there is too little time to get it all done?

Well, you are not alone.  This is why I like to periodically read the following piece — I don’t know the author, but I can certainly relate to the sentiment.  More importantly, I find it helps me take a breather as and when needed.

Try reading it out loud and fast!

Do you want us to rush the rush job we’re rushing now, or rush the rush job you want us to rush, before we rush the rush job we’re rushing now, or rush the rush job we were rushing before?

See, you can’t help but chuckle a bit and, hopefully, take a deep breath to recharge your creative energy for the next (rush) job.

Be inspired!