Listen Up!

Do you listen to reply or do you listen to understand?

Believe it or not, but the skill of listening is actually very difficult to master.  Most people only hear their own side of the conversation rather than taking in what the other person is saying.  People will already have what they are going to respond with next at bat before they listen to what the other side has to say.  This isn’t listening, it’s just hearing.  Listening is when you actively hear what the other person is contributing to the conversation and building of what they had to say.

You’re only listening for what you want to hear.

We tend to pick out aspects of a conversation that support our pre-existing beliefs, values, or perceptions.  This is confirmation bias, when doing this it is like you have a filter and only what you are looking for makes it through to your brain.  Your brain shifts between different questions as someone is talking and you only focus on what you want to hear.  This happens because essentially, your brain is bored.  People talk at a much slower rate than what your brain can process.  Thus, you start thinking of other things while you already have your opinion. So, whatever the other person says will only have a small amount of information trickle its way into your opinion.

Start Listening and Communication Grows

Take in everything someone has to say.  Actively listen to EVERYTHING they are talking about before you have your answer or your contribution to the conversation.  Would you want someone to not hear you out and not care about what you say?  It can be very frustrating to not be able to give your own input.  When dealing with clients or employees, you truly need to listen to them.  Business will crumble if you do not learn to listen and not to just hear.

How to be Better at Listening

-Try to remove any distractions.  This can include your phones, electronics, or even other people.

-Listen for the big picture, don’t focus on specific details.

-Don’t interrupt.  Let the other person finish before you jump to conclusions.

-Be open minded to what the other person has to say.

-Try to play the devil’s advocate.  Listen to the other side and try to see where they are coming from.  They could make some good points!


Find more quick tips to help you listen better at

What is an Exit Strategy? And Why do you Need One?

An exit strategy is an entrepreneur’s plan to sell his/her investment in a company that he/she founded.  This gives an owner a way to reduce or eliminate his/her stake and, if possible, make a substantial profit in the process.  All good business plans have a clear business exit plan.  It can be discouraging to talk about ending your business before you have even started- much like you would not want to discuss a divorce or pre-nup before you get married.  It is something that you need to think about though, so you are not caught off guard, unprepared for any situation, and are working without an end in mind.  Why?  Without a detailed exit strategy you may be working harder, not smarter, without any real plan for the end in mind.

Looking at it in the simplest terms, or as an investor would, the company is simply a black box with the inputs being entrepreneurs’ effort and investors’ cash and the only output being the purchase price paid by the ultimate buyer.  Everything else that happens inside the black box is simply a component contributing to the single output – the successful exit. While this is no doubt an enormous simplification, it is clearly the most purpose of most companies with external investors.

When at the beginning of your business, you wrote a business plan.  If your business plan does not include an exit strategy, your financial strategy is not realistic or reasonable.  You may inadvertently create misalignment between types of investors and certain types of exit strategies.  This could result in a failure of the company or not getting out of it what you had originally planned.

Over the years, you will make several changes in terms of the vision for your business.  This evolution is not uncommon; as it is not uncommon for your business plan to have many different iterations over the years.  While reassessing your business goals, it is a good time to ask yourself: is the end goal still relevant?  It is good practice to do this every 6 months.  Do you want to sell or go public?  Are all aspects of your business driving toward your end goal?  Checking and re-checking that you goals are still realistic to the competitive landscape is imperative.

Exit strategies don’t need to be complicated; in fact it can be pretty simple.  All you really need is a target date and a price.  They can be more complicated, and might include statements on maximizing value, customers, and even sales strategies.  The two essentials elements are when and how much.

Nonprofit Tips on #GivingTuesday

In honor of #GivingTuesday today, November  28th,  we are going to give some tips for our nonprofits.  We have a few nonprofits as tenants with our commercial properties. Specifically, in Blue Ash there are about 10 groups and we have our Greenhouse program for them to be a part of.  The people found in our nonprofits are hard-working and generous, all working to inspire the community and help those in need.  These groups are essentially businesses, they need to have goals, leadership, collaboration, and communication.  Nonprofits will need to work on these skills also, they don’t just start as a well-oiled machine.


This skill is always important! The difference for a nonprofit though is that you need to not only communicate with your team, but also stakeholders.  These are the people that will give you donations so you need be transparent and let them see what they are contributing to.  In doing so, they will know when you need help the most and will understand what their support is doing for your organization.

Don’t Apologize for Fundraising

Your a part of a NONPROFIT, as in you do not keep any profit.  You should not be afraid or ashamed for fundraising.  People that truly support your cause understand that sometimes you need to ask for money or donations, but this is where being good at communicating with them helps.  Do not wait until you are close to hysteria and desperate for help, be calm and collected.  Simply let stakeholders know when you need help, how they can help, and what their help does for the organization.

Collaboration Not Contention

Yes, your nonprofit could not be the only one of it’s kind and you might see the other groups similar to yours as a threat.  You are both working for the same cause though.  Why fight and waste energy over contributors, volunteers, or facilities?  You could collaborate together and make the force of your cause even stronger.  Sometimes working together will benefit the greater cause.

Your Mission

This is the core of the nonprofit.  What are you working towards?  Who is it that you are trying to help?  You need to know the answer to these or your nonprofit will have no end goal.  Reign in your idea and be certain of what your mission is.  Bring together all the aspects and goals that your organization will be or is built around, but do not loose the quality of each individual aspect.  Figure out what the focus is and make sure it follows the core services and programs that makes up your nonprofit.


Happy #GivingTuesday!


Tips for Effective Feedback

Being stuck in limbo is never fun especially if it’s at work.  Everyone deserves feedback on the work they have been doing, for employees and coworkers.  Whether it’s constructive criticism or praise, the goal is to illicit positive behavior by providing useful information.  Giving Feedback should be an almost daily thing, it should not be delayed.  Giving and receiving reviews allows everyone a chance to learn and grow from what they have been doing.

Don’t Delay

Why wait to tell people how they are doing?  It makes more sense to immediately give feedback!  If there is an issue the you should address it while it’s fresh and still pertinent.  If you wait 2 months then the value and impact are likely to diminish significantly.  They could keep handling aspects of their job incorrectly without being cognizant of committing an error. In turn, this is reinforcing such a habit.  Same goes for positive feedback.  Tell people when they do a good job and make them value their work. Too often, we aim to catch others doing wrong instead of catching them doing right. If someone is working their butt off, but never receives recognition then they might think they are doing something wrong.  This would make them change what they are doing and hinder potential performance.  Not only that but without any reviews your employees or coworkers will lose their motive to work as hard as they do and may be left wondering where they stand.

Your Words Matter

Think carefully of what you say.  You need to make sure you are wording your feedback so it doesn’t sound accusing.  Sweeping generalizations can seem like you are jumping to conclusions and make the other person feel like you are targeting them.  If you do have negative situations you need to discuss, try to make it seem less subjective.  The way you word your input also needs to avoid bringing the employee’s or coworker’s intelligence to question.  People always lash back if they think someone is acting like they are stupid.  You might not mean for them to feel like that, but your words matter.  


Make sure to balance the positive and the negative conversation points.  Give more positive remarks then the person might think they don’t have to improve or change anything.  Give more negative reviews then they will think everything they do is wrong and feel like their work is worthless.  You need to give people enough negative remarks to help them grow and let them know what needs improved while at the same time giving them enough positive feedback to show them that their hard work is worth it and they are appreciated.

Facts Not Feelings

Keep things business, not personal.  You should address any problems within situations rather than sharing your frustrations.  Just because you might have some personal frustrations with your employee or coworker does not mean they are bad at their job.  Remember not to bring personal issues to work, you need to keep your mind on being professional.  This could also be aimed at people playing favorites.  Certain people should not get better feedback than others just because you like them more.  This is where balancing the positive and negatives can come in handy, everyone will have objective feedback.

Ask Yourself

Is this feedback useful?  This is one of the most important things you should ask yourself!  What’s the point of giving people suggestions if it isn’t useful?  Feedback is very important and so don’t waste the opportunity to help someone grow.  Just think of ways to word your positive and negative input so that your employee or coworker can take those remarks and use them.  Another way to gauge your feedback is if it will help bring about future positive behaviors.  Your suggestions should help not only your employee or coworker grow, but also your business.

Don’t forget to consistently give feedback to others.  This will always be helpful as long as you keep a balance of the positive and negative remarks and give them in a timely manner rather than delaying it.  Use your feedback to give useful information.  It may seem like a small part of business but it is more crucial than you might think.

Tips to Have a Happy Work Life (Part 3)

Work can be your happy place.

This is the final set of tips for having a happy work life!  Before, we have talked about ways to keep yourself from imploding and to make your work environment benefit you.  This time it is about your planning and how what you do now can benefit you later.  Make your future self look back and say, “Hey! Thanks past me for thinking ahead!”  It doesn’t necessarily have to be planning ahead but also handling tasks in a more organized way, figuring out what your issues are and correcting them, and giving yourself something to look forward to.  All of these will make it so much easier to leave your bed that is coincidentally more comfortable in the morning than throughout the night…

Have Long-Term Plans

This is a major point to make for small business owners!  Why would you have started your own business if not thinking about how it will benefit you in the long run?  You should always keep the future in mind because this will give you more motivation for the work you have now.  Always have goals that are planned 5, 10, or even 20 years down the line and you will always have something to keep working for.

Stop Multitasking

Stop telling yourself that you are amazing at multitasking.  Our brains actually cannot focus on multiple projects at a time.  Even if you think you are able to, your brain is actually struggling to keep switching back and forth since it only truly focuses on a single thing.  Did you know it can take up to 4 times longer for you to focus on the new situation at hand than to just finish the first?  You also retain less information when you keep switching subjects.  Keep it up and you will be mentally exhausted and this will make it hard for you to find work enjoyable.  Give the old noggin a break and only focus on one thing at a time.

Click here to check out this article on multitasking!

Have a Purpose

Are you doing what you love?  Can you see yourself for doing this the rest of your life?  These are very important questions to ask yourself.  If you are going to start thinking long-term then you need to be doing something that makes you happy.  Sometimes not having a happy work life is because of something you are doing, it could just be that you don’t love your job.  Okay, Love is a pretty strong word, but you should at least like your job.  It’s never too late to be doing what you enjoy!

Reflect and Reward

Everyday you should reflect on what you did that day and decide if the were a positive or negative experience.  Maybe even record these moments like in a notebook or on you computer!  If something was negative, then think of ways you could have made it positive.  This problem-solving will help you how to handle in similar future situations!  If you have some positive experiences then reward yourself.  Get yourself those Skittles you’ve been craving, go out to dinner with your significant other or some friends, or just buy yourself something you have been putting off for some time.  Do the larger rewards whenever you have larger positive experiences so it will be more worth it.  You will look forward to these little rewards and make you more eager to work.


Use these tips to make your work life happier.  Hopefully this will just make your personal life a lot better too!  You spend so much time at work so you shouldn’t have to be miserable there.

Empower yourself and choose to be happy.


Tips to Have a Happy Work Life (Part 2)

This week, the tips to have a happy work life will focus on NOT being glued to your desk or computer.  Also, these tips are to help you with an overall better mentality of the day rather than bringing your personal problems to work or never taking time to just rest.  Let’s try making work a happier place!

Leave Personal Problems at the Door

If you continue to stress about your personal problems at work then this will only cause that stress to grow.  It will make you feel like your work will never end and this will emotionally exhaust you.  Your productivity and creativeness will dwindle to next to nothing.  This is where you will stare at the clock and wonder why those 5 minutes felt like 20.  When walking into your workplace, take a second to drop those problems at the door.  Choose to make your day on the job a pleasant one rather than adding more stress or issues on top of what is happening in your personal life.

Pause and Breath

When you have several tasks at hand, do not try to just knock them out back to back.  Don’t worry though, we all do it.  Take time for a breather between those projects or you are going to be burned out and tired.  How can you be happy and cheerful at work if you feel like you are about to implode from your work load?  Give your mind a minute to relax and ready itself for the next project.  Make sure your work space isn’t cluttered too.  You not only need to find time to breathe, but you also need to have breathing space.

Get Moving

This goes well with taking a minute to breathe.  You need to keep yourself moving throughout the day and keep the blood flowing.  If you are ready for that breather we previously talked about, then a walk would be perfect.  Whether is is you just taking a short walk to the restroom or taking a full 10 minutes to wonder the building, it will make you feel better.  CMC’s Perfect Small Office buildings are perfect for a short walk!  Just take a minute to leave your office suite, maybe you might meet some neighbors!  We also have fitness centers at our Beckett, Mason, and Blue Ash locations.  These would be perfect for you to leave the office and exercise to let off some steam.

You Need a Best Friend at Work

Even if you are an entrepreneur and work alone, find someone that can distract you from work for a minute or two.  Your work best friend could also be someone you can vent to or relay work related ideas to them.  If you already have coworkers or employees, then finding your work best friend will make work seem more fun and can encourage your work productivity.  On average, workers that have friends at their jobs contribute more in the end.  Plus, this best friend can be someone you drag with you on your daily walks or when exercising!


Read Part 3 Next Tuesday!