Upgrading Your Personal Operating System – You, the Founder

When I begin to work with new founders I take them through my Entrepreneur Reality Check list. One of the less expected items, but one worth emphasizing, is the need for constant learning. It’s not just reading about your competition or how to make a better widget. It’s more than getting updates in your industry, market trends or knowing how politics may affect your business.  The learning I’m talking about are ways to consistently upgrade your personal operating system – yourself.  Reid Hoffman, author of “The Start-Up of You,” refers to being in a constant state of “permanent beta.” Without a stable, resilient and efficient you, there is no business. I see this happen every day — when a founder neglects to reinforce their core elements: emotional control, focus and follow through and presentation prowess, it puts their businesses at risk.

Read more about Core Four Coaching at www.MindfulCommunication.com

The “Thinking Brain” Versus the “Emotional Brain.”

Yes, we only have one brain. But at times, there appears to be a duel going on. Look around you and listen to conversations. We’ve all witnessed situations where someone’s emotional brain is taking over their thinking brain – they are angry or sullen perhaps, consistently negative, and refuse to take another perspective. Then there are those conversations where emotions appear to be totally absent – the poker-faced problem solver who appears not to relate to the feelings of the person they are talking to.

Occasionally, we run into someone who seems to strike a balance between the two brains. He or she is mostly positive and joyful, yet on the watch for extremes. They consider their emotions and the feelings of others as part of the decision making process, but in the end they take the right action and get things done.

An exercise I give my clients is to take a day and notice which brain is in charge most of the time? When you get lazy, what happens? When something upsetting occurs, do you linger on it beyond its due? Like steering a ship on a rocky sea, can you maintain a steadiness or do you let the waves toss you about?

Founders: Flex your Emotional Muscle

Have you ever been called “emotionally rigid” or “inflexible?”  Or more insultingly, have you ever been accused of having a low emotional IQ? What does that mean, and what do you need to work on to be “emotionally smarter?” A high emotional IQ is definitely a plus in a startup, and it can’t hurt at home either. Although there are over 15 measures of emotional intelligence, these are the top 5 measures of emotional intelligence that I have noticed that are most important to a founder :

1) You analyze your strengths and accept your weaknesses – very helpful when needing to delegate.

2) You look behind a person’s behavior for the reasons they do and say things – taking different perspectives helps you creatively solve problems.

3) You welcome criticism from people in-the-know – different perspectives of you, your product or service is gold to the future of your business.

(Obviously, I’m big on perspective-taking)

4) You pause before you speak or act, particularly under stress − you are the model of control; you set the emotional tone for the group.

5) “Good job, excellent, please,” and “thank you” spill from your lips often —workers would rather work in a positive environment than make more money.

Let me know what you think!

Be the CEO of YOU!

“In this way you must understand how laughable it is to say, ‘Tell me what to do!’ What advice could I possibly give? No, a far better request is, ‘Train my mind to adapt to any circumstance.’…In this way, if circumstances take you off script…you won’t be desperate for new prompting.”  -Epictetus, Discourses, 2.2.20b−1; 24b−25a

My friends! Stop with the self-help books, GAGs (Gimmicks, Apps and Gadgets) lists of tips and strategies. Let’s Train Your Mind!  

Learn to stand back and observe problems to solve them more efficiently. Meet Caleb “an entrepreneur in the making” whose experience may help you!

6 Week CollegeCore Coaching Results:

Ground Zero: His productivity was barely above 25%.

Week Four: Productivity at week four vacillated between 40-60%.

Week Five: Caleb’s productivity rose to a consistent 80%.  

Caleb, a bright and enterprising 26 year old graduate student with self- declared “attention deficit” symptoms, and desperate to finish his Masters degree in Entrepreneurship became overwhelmed with assignments, projects and a part time job. Caleb sought help from the college learning center where he got tips and strategies for meeting his goals. These failed to work. 

When Caleb came to me for coaching he was a bundle of nerves, and understandably so. His productivity was barely above 25% percent. He thought he needed “a better list” of tips and strategies for getting work done and turned in on time.

My CollegeCore Approach: We needed to stand back 30,000 feet together and calmly observe his situation. When tips and strategies fail someone who is highly motivated and intellectually capable, we need to look to the core of the problem. 9/10 times the core culprits are weaknesses in emotional regulation, focus and follow-through and/or communication. Caleb and I focused on the core of the core−his anxiety. Our work included:

  • 10 minutes of relaxation breathing and biofeedback each morning 
  • Practice shifting from negative to constructive self talk
  • More efficient ways to communicate with his teachers and his boss. 
  • Normalizing his sleep schedule 
  • A focus-enhancing 20 minute exercise regimen. 

 After a couple weeks Caleb felt more in control−projects were getting done, grades were improving and his work schedule was more flexible. Best of all, he was becoming more objective and less emotional when solving problems. Productivity by week 5 was 80%.

By the end of the program, Caleb confessed that prior to the CollegeCore coaching his dream of starting his own business was dubious. He asked himself, “How can I lead others, if I can’t manage myself?” Given that the failure rate of new businesses exceeds 50%, this is precisely the question that all entrepreneurs need to ask themselves. Fortunately, Caleb learned how to be “the CEO of Caleb” before starting a business. 

To learn more about Rebecca’s CollegeCore and CoreFour Coaching for Entrepreneurs, see                                        www.MindfulCommunication.com 


Welcome to the COREageous Entrepreneur blog!

Hello founders and future founders!

We know what a roller coaster ride entrepreneurship can be. Passion, expertise and courage is not enough to succeed and sustain a new business – it takes CORE! In my CORE Four Coaching I help all kinds of self-starters to build their CORE skills to enable entrepreneur success: emotional flexibility, focus and follow through, communication competence and Shark readiness (presentation skills). I will share time-tested CORE-building strategies that work!

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