Monday, March 24, 2014

Stop Wishin' and Hopin' - Start Doin'

One of my favorite songs of all time has just taken on a new and different meaning. Seven years before I entered planet Earth, a relatively unknown English singer released what would go on to be one of her Top 10 international hit records. Written by American songwriter Burt Bachrach and recorded by many through the years, Dusty Springfield's version of Wishin and Hopin remains my favorite. Always my go-to on karaoke night  and  high on my list of Denise's all-time favorites, I listen to this song often. Recently, while preparing for a string of days jam packed with business meetings, the lyrics fell on me in a new and different way.

Wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin'
Plannin' and dreamin' each night of his charms
That won't get you into his arms
So if you're lookin' to find love you can share
All you gotta do is hold him and kiss him and love him
And show him that you care

Clearly, the song is about love and being intentional expressing your love for someone who may or may not know you are there. Well, the same could be said about entrepreneurship.

Wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin' plannin' and and dreamin' each night... won't get you a successful business either.

This song speaks about specific action to make the man yours - "hold him and kiss him" "show him that you care just for him" "wear your hair just for him" because "you won't get him, thinkin' and a prayin' wishin' and a hopin." Dusty croons so eloquently that you must take action to make that romance happen.

Same goes with a dream. Entrepreneurs will tell you, you must act. Action trumps everything. Don't think of all the folks you know who may be able to help you, call them. And make sure when you call, you find a way to make them understand how you can help them or make their life easier.

Don't wait for the timing to be "just right" to start taking action, take action when it feels uncomfortable. Invest when it's a bit of a stretch, financially and otherwise. Calculate the risk and take it anyway.

Finally, believe when no one else does. Take action and believe you can make whatever you need to happen, happen. I was reminded last week of one of the first conversations I had about Relationships Matter Now over 5 years ago. My friend, who recently hired me to collaborate on a big brand marketing project,  reminded me how he believed I'd do this just by hearing my own belief in myself and my method of doing business in those early days. I had to chuckle at his memory because I was convincing myself at that time. Shortly after, I was solidly believing and there was no turning back.

Every time I hear that song and I think about this possibly shy woman in 1964 being told to "All you gotta do is hold him and kiss him and squeeze him and love him,  yeah, just do it And after you do, you will be his." Essentially, those words are pushing this woman to believe and seize the man she wants guaranteeing her that sitting around thinking and wishing and hoping won't bring him to her.  That same sentiment goes for that book you need to write, that product you need to prototype or that service offering you need to polish.

Stop wishin' and hopin' and dreamin' and start doin'.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Meet the New Kid On The Block of Inclusion Strategy

One side of an #inclusion postcard we'll debut this week
This week, Relationships Matter Now will debut at the Forum on Workplace Inclusion, formerly known as the Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity. It is the 26th annual event and even the name change indicates a new wind is blowing through the inclusion and diversity space.

A small but mighty team from Relationships Matter Now will be present in the Resource Expo as well as facilitating an interactive workshop on the topic of co-creation on Day 3. Being new to an established space always carries a degree of risk and this is especially true in the volatile space of inclusion and diversity. Regardless of where a company is in this journey, the road to building an inclusive, high performing work environment is filled with ups and downs, stops and starts and lots of uncertainty.

Relationships Matter Now is leading a new and fresh discussion about inclusion. We welcome the participants of the Forum on Workplace Inclusion to our tribe. We are a growing community of people and organizations who believe,  as the founder of Relationships Matter Now, Denise W. Barreto believes, that...

Nothing good is ever achieved without healthy vibrant relationships between humans.

As such, we strive to build the best possible human relationships in all environments where we serve. Relationships Matter Now intends to change the world, one relationship at time. We did not set out to revolutionize inclusion and diversity strategy in America, it just started happening. We want you know that we don't have all the answers. We also want you to know that our biggest asset to any partner is our ability to ignite discussion and engagement of associates on all levels. We know that the inclusion and diversity strategy for your company is already within your company, in the people who work and lead there. We are experts at drawing the strategy from those associates and building alignment and programs to support it.

We believe in co-creation and will facilitate a discussion on how to better co-create with Employee Resource Groups at the Forum this week. We have partnered with many government and non-profit agencies to build more inclusive strategic plans and have assisted with inclusion strategy and programs at several corporations including The Home Depot and W. W. Grainger. Each month, brings new and more opportunities to drive home our belief that at the heart of all inclusion and diversity strategy is transparency on leading and leadership competencies. Once an organization identifies and clearly articulates what it takes to lead within its walls and takes the time to identify the leadership competencies they seek, casting a broader net to find candidates is the final step toward building an inclusive and high performance work environment.

Relationships Matter Now is the partner to lead you on that journey, regardless of where you are today. We are excited to be the new kid on the block.  Learn more about The Forum on Workplace Inclusion here.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Be Wise With What You Do, Our Bodies and Minds Adjust To Anything

My fav toothbrush that started out as torture
About a year ago, my family migrated from motorized toothbrushes to the "Cadillac" of toothbrushes you see in the photo.  This migration was painful. I remember vividly, me demonstrating for the kids how "easy" it was to use.

Tears were flowing down my face as I brushed with it the first time and tried to keep a smile. The super powered intensity of the toothbrush was painful. It did not feel good at all and was nothing like the toothbrushes we'd just discarded.  I can remember the horrified looks on the faces of my then 11 year old daughter and then 7 year old son.  They could not believe I was still insisting they try the toothbrush that was making me cry. Literally.

But I did insist and now as I look back I am glad I did it. We have all had improved dental check-ups at our last visits and I am attributing the improvement to the new toothbrush and habits surrounding brushing it has created in all of us.  This memory got me to thinking about how my teeth adjusted, rather quickly to the toothbrush with consistent use.  Almost one month removed from my Whole30 diet, I am still reacting to foods and food choices differently than I had before the drastic change in diet. Thinking about the toothbrush and the diet lately,  made me realize how important it is that we are wise in what we do.

Our bodies and minds adjust to anything we do to them.

Marinate in that for a moment.


Destructive self-talk, you mind can adjust to that.
No physical activity to an otherwise healthy body, your body can adjust to that.
Consistent non-use of your best talents, your mind can adjust to that.
Junk food with little to no nutritional value, your body can adjust to that.

This concept was one of my biggest eye opening thoughts during my Whole30 diet. I was certain, I could not live without sugar but alas I did. I was sure I needed corn, bread, lentils, you-fill-in-the-blank, yet I made it without all those things for 30 straight days. I had a few core beliefs about my life that I did not believe I could or should let go of as they had served me well, but I did let them go.

It was not easy and I still have to actively practice letting them go but my mind is adjusting to a new thought pattern, new and better core beliefs to focus on. In the same way that brushing my teeth every day with the super powered toothbrush started out as a painful and tough experience but gave way to a pleasant and thorough cleaning of my teeth. Forcing myself to think differently is tough but getting easier every single day I do it. And just like I can see the results of the adjustment to the painful brushing in my pearly whites every day, I am also seeing the transformation of my life and work by my new focus and beliefs. Plus, it gets easier - it does not hurt to brush my teeth with the super powered brush anymore. In fact, after about 2 months, we didn't even notice a difference. I am banking on that same result from my change in thinking over time. It is still very new to me - about 30 days or so.  It looks a little something like this for me...

Being laser focused on your desires, your mind can adjust to that.
Giving your body the physical activity it craves, your body can adjust to that.
Surrounding yourself with supportive people who lift you up, your mind can adjust to that.
Eating a balanced diet of food with high nutritional value, your body can adjust to that.

GUYS - we must be intentional with our minds and our bodies. If we don't specifically think about and control what we put into our minds and bodies, they just adjust to whatever we do to them. Make whatever you do worth the adjustment your body and mind will make to accommodate it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Be Your Own Hero

Best Actor Winner Matthew McConaughey is in competition with himself
In the middle of his Best Actor award acceptance speech, 2014 winner Matthew McConaughey touched on something many may have mistaken as arrogance. During his somewhat bizarre and long (3 minutes and 49 seconds) tale, he said he needed, "someone to look up to, something to look forward to and someone to chase."

Within that context, I was expecting to hear about a person he admired and strived to be like - another actor, a public figure or even someone in his private life that we did not know at all. Like the rest of the world watching, I was shocked to hear that he is chasing himself, his future self. But it did not take me long to realize how awesome that concept is and how I, too live that way.

For so many people in the world, the game of life is a game of comparison. We look at people similar to us and compare where we are versus where they are. Or we look at people extremely different from us but in similar circumstances and compare our little hearts out.  It's often about keeping up with and surpassing the proverbial Joneses in our lives.

The nugget of wisdom that flowed freely from one of Texas's most treasured natural resource's mouth is one of being only in competition with yourself. Looking ahead and figuring out how to top yourself in all you do. There is a strong sense of self-reliance in that statement and I can dig it.

3 years ago, when I started my business, it was very easy to compare myself to other female entrepreneurs. I was gobbling up all info I could on small businesses, business led by women and the fastest growing segment of businesses - minority women owned shops. One part of me was eager to absorb and learn all I could from the mistakes of others and take their insight into my journey. But another part of me was in full-on comparison mode. Where did these women work before they launched? Were their networks as strong as mine? Did they have clear objectives and goals? I'd read about a successful female entrepreneur and immediately dissect what I was reading with a side-by-side, tit-for-tat comparison of her business to mine - whether or not it made sense or even was relevant. It was tearing my creativity apart and within 9 months of intense "recognizance" as I called it, I stopped cold turkey.

I began to just look at where I was 6 months prior; what I was learning from my clients and how my business model was evolving. It was the best thing I ever did. Looking back now, I am certain that slight change in focus fueled the over 900% growth in my business year-over-year the last 2 quarters of 2013 that is continuing as we speak and move through 2014.

I'm my own target. I'm my own s/hero. Just like Matthew McConaughey, I only have the facts about me - where I've been, what I've faced and where I can possibly go. It is a complete waste of time to compare ourselves with anyone or chase anyone else's success. I often cringe when I hear folks say things like - "I'm gonna be the next Oprah, Tyra or fill-in-the-blank."  No,  you are not.  You are going to be the first YOU and that is absolutely fanfriggintastic if you allow yourself to feel and dream it. When I heard Mr. McConaughey say he is chasing "me 10 years from now," I got chills. I feel the same way. I've been growing my business steadily since I started it and based on what I've done and what I can do, I have visualized what I could be 10 years from now and it is sweet.

So like the Academy Award winning actor - I am going to challenge you to be your own hero. Chase your own dream and future self. Stop the comparison game. Start the competition with you.


Monday, March 3, 2014

The Year of "We're In This Together" At The 85th Academy Awards

The 85th Annual Academy Awards are in the books. Like most other pop culture freaks and movie lovers, I was glued to my television taking it all in into the wee hours of the night. There are so many themes to tackle but I am choosing the pattern I saw in acceptance speeches this year. Perhaps it was indicative of the crowd that won the big honors last night, but I saw a whole lot of humility in most of the big award acceptance speeches.

Best Supporting Actor  winner Jared Leto started it out with his salute to his (and by proxy all) single mom then moved to touching on the youth justice movements in the Ukraine and Venezuela. He finished with compassionate words for AIDS victims and the LGBT community.  As the first acceptance speech of the evening, I may be giving too much credit to Mr. Leto but it certainly stands to reason that he set the tone for an evening of humility and graciousness that I have not seen at awards ceremony in a while.

Best Supporting Actress winner Lupita Nyong'o's words, "It doesn't escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is due to so much pain in someone else's" or "When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every child, no matter where you're from, your dreams are valid," give me the same chills as I write them today that I got when I heard her voice firmly declare them last evening.

I was moved by the general "we're in this together" tone of the speeches. It was repeated over and over again throughout the night. There appeared to be a lot less long lists of individual credits but more general encouragement toward groups of people. There was a much more palatable sense of family credit amongst the winners - family of origin as well as "created family" credit given. Even Best Actor winner Matthew McConaughey's speech, that many found to be arrogant in the social media world in the immediate moments after it was given, had credit for his win spread to those closest in his life and God. Best Adapted Screenplay winner John Ridley gave credit to people who believed in him in the his early Hollywood writing days as well as Solomon Northrop whose story he had the honor to adapt for this year's Best Picture winner, 12 Years As A Slave.  Best Actress nod Cate Blanchett lifted women in Hollywood and women in general during her speech.

It's no coincidence that the tone of the speeches was more uniting than normal. We are living in a very divided era in our country and in the world. Look at the headlines, scour the internet for headlines they are not writing and you will find division, desperation and a demand for something different, something more. People want to be seen and people want to be heard. More than ever, we all need encouragement and reinforcement that we matter and that all people matter. I am proud of the Hollywood elite recognizing that while they had the world captivated for 4 straights hours, they could use their influence to pull us together, even if only slightly. Acknowledging heroes past, ordinary parents who did their best and produced extraordinary children or groups of people who struggle just to feel part of this life - Hollywood nailed it last night.

We are all in this together and it's high time we start acknowledging that fact. Thanks Hollywood for the reminder.