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Create a Dream Team Using the Birkman Method

How well do you really know your team? Who are they? What drives them? When these questions are answered, you’ll likely discover your team is a lot stronger than you first thought! The Birkman Method is a great tool to creating your dream team and becoming aware of all you have to offer.

What is the Birkman Method?

The Birkman Method is not like other personality tests. It is a science-backed assessment methodology, which dives deep into your behavior, perceptions and personality to help you understand the why behind your traits and interpersonal dynamics. It looks into what drives you and where your interests are.

What makes a team a dream team is by aligning each team member to support its strategic goals. Each team member brings distinctive strengths and capabilities to the team. The Birkman identifies these strengths and capabilities in a framework of four types: communicator, thinker, doer, or analyzer.

Like points on a compass, these strengths represent four kinds of individual focus, all critical to a dream team. Each strength, represented by a different color, identifies the basic
motivational direction that drives us toward our interests, overall approach and predispositions. These styles, or colors, filter our worldview and determine how we choose to approach work, solve problems and relate to people around us. Combinations of these styles create a dream team that provide diversity and significantly increase potential for optimal solutions.

The Birkman Method uses these colors to easily convey meaning of personality characteristics while also calling attention to the differences found within these characteristics. The four colors act as descriptions to help each person understand differences in personality. Many behavioral assessment tools often trap people by confining them to one type. The Birkman Method understands the unique traits that any one person may have might not conform nicely to an assigned category and takes into account the God-given diversity in each person.

Learn About Yourself

After reading my full Birkman report, the Interest section was one of the most helpful for me. This section uses 10 areas of interests and offers a score for each one. If you score higher than 85%, then this area of interest is not a want but an actual need. Also, if you score lower than 10%, these area of interest are ones that drain you or you have an aversion to. You may have a general idea of what you are interested in, but the Birkman can help reveal those interests in a clearer way.

Understanding areas of interest can help show areas where you will thrive. The areas in which a person scores highest in, are likely the areas of work they will be most motivated in to do a good job and to invest in.

Mark Twain said: “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

When the work you are doing is something that you want to do, you will find that you put more care and effort into it. Those things matter to you, you want them to turn out well. It is important to find these areas that you are interested and pursue them. This works in reverse too. Regular responsibilities that require you to invest in areas you have a low interest score may cause higher stress and be harmful to the rest of the team.

Know Your Team

Now that you know who you are, the ways you work best, and what motivates, you can better build your dream team. Diversity is important to build a dream team, but diversity also can cause friction and stress if we do not understand each other better and on how we can communicate with each other effectively. Uncover and understand team strengths, challenges and motivations with the Birkman will help you get to dream team status.

At a recent company retreat, we discussed our Birkman reports and shared information about ourselves. We took time to get to know each others’ interests and strengths. As we talked, we discovered how different that we can be, yet how much we need each other. Each person has something unique that they bring to the table, and it can strengthen our appreciation for each other.

In every business or organization, unique personalities merge to create a dynamic environment which drives morale, engagement, and performance. Connecting team members with differing communication and work styles is one of the key challenges that organizations face. Birkman provides the tools to integrate diverse individuals into dream teams that achieve better productivity and success, and have the framework to resolve conflict and become more resilient.

Putting The Birkman to Use

As you recognize that there are unique gifts and personalities on your team, use them! Information is great to have, but having information is useless unless put it into action. Discover how to utilize the strengths of your teammates.

When leaders know the skills and strengths each individual brings to the team, they can use them to their fullest. It would be a waste for these strengths to go unused.

It also helps with communication. As you begin to realize your differences, you will likely find that people prefer to communicate using different mediums and express thoughts in different ways. Understanding why someone communicates in a different manner than you do can help in avoiding additional and unnecessary conflict.

Leaders will benefit a lot from this as well. It can be amazing how two people can respond to a situation so differently. There have been days that I’ve arrived to work with a to-do list in my inbox. For me, it was perfect. I could sit down and very clearly see what was expected of me and begin working. Yet for others, this would have been demeaning, and they could feel controlled and micromanaged.

Other Advice?

Don’t let any test confine you or your team. Be aware that no test can fully understand a person’s strengths and abilities. Also, be careful not to allow the results to be an excuse to get out of tasks or responsibilities. For example, just because you are a thinker doesn’t mean that you should not play the role of communicator. Don’t limit yourself to the strength the test suggests you have, and please feel free to keep exploring!

The Birkman Method is a great tool for building your dream team. It can be a great way to discover your potential in ways that you never knew that your team possessed. Recognizing your team is made up of unique individuals with different offerings can help you thrive to create the dream team.

Why Coworking is Better than Working in a Coffee Shop

Last week I was talking to a coworker who stopped by to test Beta Bar Coworking for the day. She’d traveled throughout Europe and Asia extensively as a digital nomad working in a variety of venues including coworking spaces, coffee shops, and hotels.

As our discussion of her travels continued, I was reminded of a few of my own reasons for why coworking beats working from a coffee shop any day:

#1: No equipment

Have you ever been drafting an urgent email or completing a critical business task only to see that low battery warning pop up in the corner of your computer screen? We all have; the only thing worse is being in a coffee shop and realizing there’s nowhere to plug in your dying computer. Add to that inconvenience a need for printing a contract or scanning a requirements document, and it’s clear that a coffee shop falls short of the basic needs for doing business.

Any standard coworking space will prioritize providing ample power outlets throughout the facility and provide for basic business needs like printing, scanning, and high-speed internet.

#2: Smokey air

In the Balkans in particular, non-smoking areas are nearly non-existent in coffee shops. So, in order to work from a coffee shop here, you have to endure hours of breathing smokey air. In my case, I left with watery, red, itchy eyes – no fun after a full day of work.

Coworking spaces typically offer non-smoking facilities with designated smoking areas for our smoking friends.

#3: Judgy eyes

Whether from coffee shop workers or other visitors, it is always easy to tell when you’ve overstayed your welcome. Even when ordering items from the menu throughout the day, there still comes a point when restaurant owners would rather you give up your table for those who will order more than a perpetual supply of coffee and low-priced food items.

Coworking spaces are designed for people who are driven to work hard. Whether you choose a dedicated desk or flexible workspace, you’ll never be greeted with judgy eyes for wanting to work longer – maybe just a gentle reminder about the importance of work-life balance for the entrepreneur.


via GIPHY

#4: Security concerns

One of my least favorite parts of working in a coffee shop is when all that coffee intake finally hits, and I need to run to the restroom, which means I need to pack up all of my stuff and chance losing my table. The risk of losing my computer outweighs the hassle of packing everything up to take with me, but then I have to start the whole process of getting a table and ordering again, which means wasted time.

At a coworking space, you really get to know the people with whom you work and develop a layer of trust within the community. You never have to worry about leaving your items unattended because you always have someone to watch your back – or your bag. 🙂

#5: Uncomfortable workspace

I hate having a cluttered workspace. I far prefer having everything organized and in its proper place. When working from a coffee shop (with my coffee cup, my plate with a half-eaten sandwich, my computer, my notebook, the unneeded ashtray, the complimentary glass of water, etc.), that’s nearly an impossible standard. Plus, even the best coffee shop’s table and chairs get uncomfortable after a few hours of sitting and working.

On the other hand, coworking spaces often boast large workspaces with ergonomically designed tables and chairs. Additionally, the separate spaces for lounging and working make it easier to maintain a clean, tidy workspace while also enjoying a quick lunch.

Still not convinced? Come test out Beta Bar Coworking and see for yourself!

4 Lessons Learned From Internships

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” When we are children, we are asked this question excessively. Then we become adults, and we still haven’t found the perfect answer. Perhaps the answer is evolving, changing as the world does around us. The many options can be overwhelming, too. Internships provide a great opportunity to learn about some of these options and helps you to hone in on what you really want to do, while also offering experience in different fields. Here are four lessons I have learned from my four internships:

#1. Internships are a place to learn.
Freshman year of college, I was eager, ambitious and ready to take on the world! I was ready to be a journalist, or so I thought. In my eager pursuit, I began my first internship with the school paper. I discovered a lot of new things about myself, one of which being how stressful I found writing articles to be. That semester challenged me in ways that I did not even realize were possible.

My experience as a journalism intern allowed me to learn and improve my writing. It also taught me how to deal with deadlines under pressure and patience. I was forced to learn how to extend grace to myself. Starting the internship, I had this expectation that I would blow everyone away with my talent and ability. This unrealistic expectation only added personal stress and revealed my prideful thinking. An internship is a place to learn, to work hard and to grow. Your employers do not expect you to know everything when you begin.Learning from the internship doesn’t always mean you have to you will love your internship. I was a journalism intern for a semester, in that time, I realized that I did not want to be a journalist or even a writer. The writing experience I gained from my time with the paper has helped me in later internships and in my school work. The life experience that I gained has taught me how to handle stress, how to ask questions, and how to be honest with my struggles. Fortunately because of my internship, I was able to change my major in college without having to take more classes.

#2. Internships help reveal what is important to you.
My second internship was with at a nonprofit organization. I was a development intern, and I focused fundraisers, community engagement and donors. Part of my job was to write thank you notes to our donors. When I first started doing this task, I did not really understand it. Why not just type a single base letter, change the name, and send them out? My handwriting was nothing special, nor was the handwriting of my boss, who was also hand-writing thank you letters weekly. There are lots of reasons to write thank you notes. Handwriting postcards or letters give the message a memorable touch that will connect you to your donors and clients.

Working in an organization that valued this personal connection with its donors and clients helped me to see that this was something important to me. I began to see the importance of this simple act. While working with this nonprofit did not give me a clear “I know what I want to be when I grow up” answer, it gave me direction. I know that I want to work with a business that takes time to do things the right way and values people. I learned about what kind of work that I would like to pursue and personal ways that I can say thank you to those who help me as I am working, if that would be in the professional or nonprofit world.

#3. You don’t have to take every opportunity that you are offered.
My third internship was not a bad experience, but it was also an experience offered less benefit than the others. I worked for another nonprofit, but by this time, I knew that I was not interested in nonprofit work. I was really just looking to gain more experience anywhere I could find it. While, again, the internship itself was not a bad internship, it was not one that pushed me to grow.

If I were to do things differently, I would decline the offer to work here for a few reasons. One, it was an unpaid internship and they were asking me to work more hours than I was initially interested in. Two, it was not in the industry I wanted to work in. And three, it was not the experience I was looking for. But, I felt as though I was given an opportunity and if I turned it down, I would miss out on something. The truth is, I missed out on other opportunities because I took that internship. In business you learn about opportunity costs- if I make this decision, what other opportunities am I turning down? It is the same with deciding on an internship or a career. To accept one opportunity is to turn down another. I am glad I learned the importance of that lesson in a temporary internship, though, rather than getting stuck in a job that was a poor fit.

This is a lesson I am still learning. Every opportunity that comes across my path, I tend to jump on. This is a lesson on patience. For me, I had to learn this lesson the hard way, I jumped too quickly onto the first opportunity. You also have to tread carefully here, though. There will be no perfect opportunity.
#4. Internships get you out of your comfort zone.
Currently, I have been a business intern for Nova Ivica for over a month, and I have already taken on challenges and outside of my comfort zone, which is enhancing my outlook and knowledge on what I would like to do when I graduate university. The good thing about pursuing an internship as a college student is that you have some time to get out of your comfort zone and test your abilities. When you finally start a career, it becomes difficult to want to step out, especially from a job that is paying you a salary. Being out of your comfort zone from time to time creates just enough good stress to ramp up your focus, creativity and pace, and it helps you respond to life stress when unexpected things happen.

Also, getting out of your comfort zone challenges you to see what you are capable of. In my internship at Nova Ivica, I have been asked to accomplish tasks I thought I was incapable of, but I was. And now that I have tackled these, I am more confident and more prepared to take on the next ones. It is not always fun or easy, but it is amazing to see what you can accomplish. You are likely capable of a lot more than you realize, but first you have to try. You also may find that what pushes you out of your comfort zone becomes one of your favorite things. It may be you find what your niche is. You may also find that’s not for you. Both are good things to learn.

Internships help you shape and create a vision for what you want to do. They reveal to you your strengths and your weaknesses and prepare you for your next step. I still don’t have the exact answer to “what do you want to be when you grow up” but I have narrowed down my options and no longer feel the overwhelmed by the array of possibilities before me. I also know I can turn down what doesn’t seem to be the right fit. Doing these internships throughout college have prepared me for my career, they have given me experience in a variety of areas and shown me what I really value in my future job.

Saopštenje za prijavu za Startap takmičenje “Sigurnost u Saobraćaju”

U 21. mart, Digitalizuj.Me, sa suorganizatorom Sistema UN u Crnoj Gori, organizuje prvo tematsko startap takmičenje u Baru! Vas pozivamo na druženje na radionici koje organizujemo u Beta Baru bez obzira na to da li trenutno imate ideju ili ne!

Tema hakatona je “Sigurnost u saobraćaju”. Bavimo se ovim problemom jer je globalan i svako rješenje koje se pokaže dobrim, u principu može da se skalira, ako ne globlano onda makar na regionalnom nivou. Takođe smo svjedoci da je tehnologija sve više zastupljena u automobilima i u našim životima, ali nas to nije dovelo do značajnijih rezultata sa stanovišta smrtnosti na putevima, odnosno u saobraćaju. Pobjednik startap takmičenja će dobiti nagradni fond za razvoj prototipa rješenja, te ukoliko se pokaže da rješenje radi, priliku da investicijom skalira na globalno tržište.

Cilj hakaton-а je da pronađemo kreativnost i dođemo do ideja koje utiču na ljudsku svijest o saobraćaju i opasnostima koje vrebaju, bilo da se radi o gradskoj vožnji ili vožnji na otvorenom putu. Mi iskreno mislimo da jesmo u mogućnosti da smislimo tehnološko rješenje slično ovome za druge probleme u saobraćaju koji dovode do prometnih nesreća i jesmo ubjeđeni u to da će pobjednik takmičenja imati kapaciteta da napravi prototip rješenja.

Sa ciljem pozivamo sve zainteresovane takmičare da se prijave do 19. marta i steknu nova prijateljstva, znanja i iskustva! Troškovi prevoza autobusom do radionice biće pokriveni.

Za više informacija takmičari mogu posetiti: http://digitalizuj.me ili https://www.facebook.com/testbetabar

Why Choose G Suite for Your Small Business

Having worked in both large corporations and small businesses, I have seen a mixture of tools used in the business environment. But, I feel like Google provides the most integrated, easily adoptable and diverse solution for small businesses. Here’s my top three reasons why:

#1 – It is a complete solution.

Far too often, businesses choose to adopt the “best” software solution for every need. While there is a benefit to having the best tools, inevitably this approach creates silos and waste in your business processes, as these dispersed tools don’t share information or play well together. While Google is not the best at everything (yes, I said it), it does provide an above-average solution for nearly every business-critical task.

For example, in a small business, it’s important to obtain customer feedback to understand your client’s satisfaction, your strengths, and your weaknesses. This allows you to understand what your customers value, which can help with prioritization of improvement opportunities and marketing. While personally I’d recommend SurveyMonkey, Qualtrics CX, or Medallia for the superior insights and trends that they can reveal, a simple Google Form can suffice for a small business. The look and feel of the survey might not be as nice, nor the automated trend analysis as strong, but, you can obtain the information needed to manage and improve your business with a bit of extra manual work.

We had been using Dropbox for cloud storage to communicate with our team and our accountants, but it forced us to use a free, limited version of one of the aforementioned survey tools. Since none of the software solutions had any true integration with Dropbox, we were limiting ourselves to “swivel chair” activity to aggregate information from the satisfaction survey with previously acquired information about our clients, such as industry, type of membership, or lead generation. Additionally, we saved 50% by making the switch from Dropbox’s Advanced Package to the G Suite Business Package, which is far more than a content repository.

#2 – It is truly collaborative.

Google Drive allows you to collaborate real-time with your colleagues and business partners through Google Slides, Google Documents, Google Sheets, Google Forms, etc. Rarely can you find a collaboration tool that works well with individuals both inside and outside your organization, but Google excels in this area.

Other solutions advertise real-time collaboration; however, there’s almost always a lag. With Google, you can actually watch as your clients or partners make edits. Through the comments feature, you can tag and assign tasks, and you can easily review the revision history to see what’s changed since you last viewed your work.

#3 – It is vastly integrated.

Google integrates well with most tools, platforms or software that your small business uses. Recently, we decided to launch a Google Form for onboarding our new coworkers at Beta Bar Coworking. That form was easily integrated into our WordPress site, www.betabar.me, with just a few clicks. Whether the coworker completes the form on our website, through an email containing the link, or through a link posted on our Facebook page, all answers are still available in the same Google Sheet.

We are also considering using Zapier for business process automation in the near future. In our research, we’ve learned that Zapier plays well with the entire G Suite including a variety of workflow automation solutions to minimize the amount of non-value added work in our business.

Nova Ivica d.o.o recently shed our disparate, non-integrated tools for the G Suite powerhouse. Will you join us?

Why Hackathons Can Boost for Your Business

There’s truly no better opportunity for innovation than the relocation of your team to a new place where nobody is distracted by regular life. We strongly recommend including a hackathon, design sprint or at least a half-day brainstorming session into the schedule of your company calendar.

For a digital agency overwhelmed by client projects, a company retreat can be dedicated to re-designing internal processes or rebranding. If you are a product company, this is the perfect opportunity to brainstorm new products while your team is all together in a new and inspiring place.

Let’s talk about hackathons.

📋 Preparation is key
With good preparation, you can get impressive results even in just one day. Discuss ideas for the hackathon a couple of weeks before the retreat. Try to collect business problems and challenges and organize them into one place (a shared spreadsheet works great!).

♻️ Mix different people
Try to mix people who never normally work together. Combine developers with marketers or salespeople with designers, etc.

👥 Keep teams small
The ideal size of a temporary hackathon team is between 3 and 5 people. The goal of the hackathon is to build something functional. The larger the team, the more people spend time talking rather than making.

🎯 Focus
Forget everything else. Regular projects and daily tasks can wait for a day or two. Dive deep and focus exclusively on hackathon projects and the work you’re looking to accomplish.

⚙️ Build something functional
End your hackathon with presentations showing functional demos, visual prototypes, or proof of concepts developed during the session.

Planning Your Company Retreat

If you have a remote team, multiple offices or want to meet with your employees for longer than a couple of hours, a company retreat can be the perfect way to connect and boost morale.

Have you hired many people recently? Do you plan to hire aggressively in the next months? Our team has gone through changes recently, from someone leaving to adding new employees. A company retreat sounded like a great opportunity for us to get together with the team, spend time working from a different location and have some fun, so next month we will be having a team-building retreat. Hiring and motivating the best people is a challenge. Including company retreats as part of your employee benefits is a great way to boost morale and build a strong company culture.

WHY?

Now that you understand the importance of a company retreat. Now, it is time to begin planning. First thing is first, you need to have a purpose for the retreat. For us, we want to build trust within the team through the Birkman Method. You may want to convert your retreat into the innovation boost your business has been needing. In only a couple of days, you could built new product features, internal tools and make prototypes of completely new products. Whatever your reason for the retreat, make sure that you clearly communicate this to your employees.

WHAT?

Speaking of communication, it’s important to address the language surrounding your company retreat. Set the expectations with employees and share an agenda a couple weeks before the retreat. This helps them know how to pack and prepare for a productive retreat.

HOW?

Setting an agenda can be intimidating. You want to accomplish a lot of work while boosting your company culture and at the same you want everyone to have a great time. Some general tips on structuring your retreat:

💻 Start off with a brainstorming or ice-breaker session on your first day
👥 Organize your retreat around work and leave team-building activities for afternoons, evenings or weekends
😴 Leave some free time for your employees each day – they might want to simply have some time for themselves
🌮 Try to plan as many meals as possible together or even cook dinner together (it’s one of the best team-bonding activities!)

WHEN?

Avoid Holiday Seasons
Christmas, Easter and July/August might be tricky, as your employees may be planning their own vacations during these times. Holidays also increase prices and limit your options.

Leave the People Vote
Choose 2-3 dates as options before you leave people to vote.

Spring and Autumn are Popular
These are the most popular times of the year for planning a company retreat – the destinations are not overcrowded with tourists and you still catch nice weather. (Win-win!)

WHERE?

Now it is time to discuss the location since you have the all the above. Your goal is not to find the most popular location, but the most optimal spot for your team’s needs.

Distribution of the Team
If your team is distributed around the country, you have to find the location with the most convenient travel options for everyone.

Budget
If the majority of your employees are located in one single location, the most obvious idea might be to organize your retreat somewhere nearby. You would save money on travel and probably some stress with logistics.

Personal Preferences
Of course, you should ask your teammates about their preferences from a list of 2-3 locations. Alternatively, you can do the exact opposite: keep your annual retreat location a secret until the last moment. You know your employees and which one would be more effective on building morale and excitement for the retreat.

Lastly, Inc. magazine listed some key principles to follow no matter what approach you choose are:

  • Collaborate. Everyone should have the means and the opportunity to contribute at the retreat.
  • Make discussion introvert-friendly. Ask people to write down answers to questions instead of blurting them out, and ask every person in the room to give his or her opinion in an organized manner.
  • Encourage people to express themselves. Have people use the same marker and type of paper to submit their opinions so they won’t be afraid of judgment. Make sure minority opinions have a way to be heard.
  • Stay on topic. When someone brings up an issue that isn’t on the agenda at that time, write it down on a whiteboard or flip chart and come back to it at the end of the meeting.

Now that you have seen that there is no limit to what can be achieved at a company retreat, where you can combine work and play, why not begin planning your company retreat? We are looking forward to building trust within our company next month, so that we can boost innovation and productivity.

A Tour of Smart Office in Belgrade

Located in the very center of Belgrade, Smart Office is tailored for mobile professionals, start-ups, work-from-home entrepreneurs, freelancers, small teams and anyone who needs fully functional, affordable workspace.

Let’s first start this tour with how Smart Office started:

Our imagination led us to opening the first coworking space in Serbia – Smart Office.

The space is cozy and peaceful in a beautiful historical building. Plants are placed all over the space for a refreshing touch of nature in a modern workspace. With light jazz music playing in the background, you will have no problem getting to work or Skyping with others in one of their conference rooms. They are just off the main pedestrian street Knez Mihailova if you ever feel like exploring. Every time that we visit Smart Office, they are always growing in space and in its community. They are putting a lot of effort into building a self-sustaining workspace for those who want to realize their ideas.
Because Smart Office fits many of the aspects of why we love coworking, it was natural for us to join in partnership with our community to theirs. Being surrounded by like-minded individuals can be motivating and helpful in situations when you ever need a little push to get that productivity going. The connections you create while engaging in knowledge or skill-sharing enables you to make room for opportunities of collaboration.

In the meantime, check out the rest of the spaces that are coworking partners of Beta Bar.

Business Lessons I Learned From Gilmore Girls

Few television shows have impressed me enough that I have dedicated time to watch them in their entirety. To this day, Gilmore Girls is one of the only series that I’ve watched in full and that continues to play on virtual repeat at least once a year in my house.

Admittedly, my infatuation with the show is partly sentimental as even hearing the theme song floods my mind with memories of sitting in the living room with my sister, munching on snacks, eagerly awaiting the next episode to start (yep, this was well before the on-demand phenomenon brought to us by Netflix) and debating if this would be the episode where Luke and Lorelai finally get together. During our teenage years, this was one of the few times we could set aside our sisterhood rivalries and simply enjoy time together. Today it’s the only show that continues to make me smile, laugh, and cry no matter how many times I watch it.

For the person who has been meaning to watch Gilmore Girls and still hasn’t, stop reading this blog post and go do it now! Come back, read, and give your input. The following post definitely has spoilers!

Whether you are a self-professed Gilmore Girls junkie, like myself, or you have never heard of the show (which I find hard to believe), here are five business lessons that I have learned from some of my favorite characters:

Kirk: If at first you don’t succeed, start over?

Stars Hollow’s favorite quirky, odds-and-ends job holder Kirk held at least 62 jobs over the span of the series. He always had some new idea to make a buck and often would show up to volunteer his services, in hopes of eventually landing a long-term gig. His creativity, determination, and (sometimes annoying) persistence was a lesson to us all.

Business Lesson from Kirk: Try something new, test the market, and persist until you find your niche. Oh, and do not forget the power of compounding interest.

Richard: It is never too late.

Lorelai’s by-the-books father always worked as a successful businessman. But, as the years marched on, he was eventually forced out of the firm and retired. As a result, he floundered about in search of new meaning and identity. It was through a school project with his beloved granddaughter, Rory, that his love for business was rekindled, and he decided to put his life’s earnings at risk and start his own business.

Business Lesson from Richard: Launching a business always comes with risks, but it’s never too late to take a step towards your dreams.

Paris: Teamwork and trust are important.

Paris was by far one of the funniest characters of Gilmore Girls. She’s feisty, opinionated, strong, and was known for saying what everyone else was thinking but would never verbalize. She’s intensely dedicated to her pursuits and demanded perfection from everyone around her. She was the top of her class and a notable over-achiever, but she’s not the best people person.

In fact, her perfectionism reached an all-time high during her time as the editor-in-chief of Yale Daily News where she was continually frustrated by the flaws in her team’s work and determined that no one could do it as well as she could. Eventually, her unrealistic expectations caused her staff to fear her and avoid her at all cost. She isolated herself in a makeshift bunker and created an unsurpassable barrier to accomplishing her main goal – namely, getting the newspaper out on time.

Business Lessons from Paris: Be careful in how you lead your team. Squelching people’s ideas may eventually make them unwilling to share suggestions with you. Give people freedom and space to create; they need to feel trusted and appreciated. As fiercely independent as you may feel, you need a community and colleagues to be successful. And, as invigorating and cathartic as these hilarious one-liners might be, it is probably best that we leave them to fictional characters like Paris and not use them in the workspace.

Rory: “In omnia paratus.”

In my all-time favorite episode, Rory overheard a girl shouting “in omnia paratus” one evening at Yale, which means “ready for all things.” Out of curiosity, she discovered a secret society and another side of future-beau, Logan Huntzberger. Blindfolded and taken to an initiation event in the woods, she was invited to fill a last-minute opening in the “big stunt.” She’s finally persuaded to participate when her hunky crush looked into her eyes and said:

It’s your choice, Ace. People can live a hundred years without really living for a minute. You climb up here with me, it’s one less minute you haven’t lived.

In that moment, our beloved, always-be-prepared Rory decided to seize the moment. She took the adventurous, unpredictable path, and it became a formidable moment that opened her mind to a whole new world – a turning point in her life.

Business Lesson from Rory: There are times when last-minute speaking opportunities, swift meeting proposals, or unexpected business trips are presented to us, and our first thought is to say no. 

Take a deep breath, step outside your comfort zone and be open to these possibilities. These opportunities might just be the launchpad for your greatest professional growth. Sometimes, we just have to figuratively step off the ledge and say “in omnia paratus.” Who knows the thrills that may follow!

Lorelai: Humility and forgiveness are important traits.

Honestly, I could have written this blog post just about Lorelai. As a single, working mom, she tirelessly cared for her daughter and her community all while working her way to the top, continuing her education, and pursuing her dreams.

Typically known for her bubbly personality and sarcastic humor, I saw a different side of Lorelei, especially when she pursued her dream of opening an inn. She encountered money troubles, missed appointments, and faced unplanned setbacks. Under pressure from her business obligations, she snapped at her best friend and business partner, Sookie, and said hurtful words, which she later regretted and wanted to take back. These words pained and haunted Sookie, and they also  impacted their relationship. In the show’s seven seasons, this was the most serious threat to their long-lasting friendship, and it was only overcome through Lorelei’s honest, heartfelt apology. Does this sound familiar? I think we’ve all been in this situation. We have either been the sender of hurtful words or we have been the receiver. Unfortunately, there are times under pressure when we hurt the ones closest to us.

Business Lesson from Lorelai: Manage stress in healthy ways, apologize when you lose it, and be careful to extend forgiveness for the times you have been offended. Healthy business relationships are critical to success, and honest, open communication is the only way to maintain them.

Bonus Lesson: Lastly and most importantly, never forget that all good ideas start with coffee. 

Come test us out at Beta Bar Coworking, where our team will always have a cup of coffee waiting for you and will always be open to talk more about the characters that we loved in Gilmore Girls. It may not be Luke’s Diner, but it is a close second.

The Introvert’s Guide to Networking Conferences

Close your eyes. Imagine yourself on the first day of a networking conference. As you walk into the room, you are surrounded by dozens, maybe hundreds, of attendees just milling about. Some are already engaged in lively conversation. Others are off by themselves, sitting in chairs, waiting for the first morning session to start. You know you are here to make contacts. That’s why you came! But, the thought of it now, taking the first step to introduce yourself to someone new in the crowd, fills you with dread. Your legs feel heavy. So, you find a chair and sit down to wait for the session to start, telling yourself you’ll do better once the day starts, and you’ve warmed up.

Does this sound familiar? Then, you may be an introvert like me. Taking the first step to get to know someone new can be a daunting task at times, especially in a crowd at a conference. I have attended many such conferences in my career, and I have learned some things along the way that I hope will help you as much as they’ve helped me.

#1. Take a deep breath.
You can do this. Take some deep breaths, literally. Get the oxygen flowing. Get up early, have a good breakfast. Drink a good cup of coffee or tea. Prepare yourself mentally for the day. For me, I like to get up early to read a passage from my Bible and pray. For you, it might be something different. Talk to yourself (silently, of course). Tell yourself you can do this, even though it is hard. Think positive thoughts. Coach yourself like you might coach a close friend facing the same challenge.
#2. Make use of networking tools.
Many conferences make use of networking tools such as TalkB2B.net to schedule one-on-one meetings with other attendees in advance. I recently attended the IT Conference Banja Luka 2018 which used this tool. Attendees can browse the profiles of other attendees and contact those whom interest them. In lieu of a tool like TalkB2B, there is always LinkedIn.com. If you know the names of some people you would like to connect with at the conference, see if they have a LinkedIn account and reach out to them in advance. Send a nice note with your request, explaining that you will be at the conference and would like to connect with them.

#3. Prioritize in advance.
After you have done your research and have short list of the people you would like to meet, prioritize them. Who is most important to you and why? Make a mental roadmap or checklist and seek them out. Remember, you’ve contacted them in advance, so they will be expecting you. This will help you cut through the crowd and gives your networking more aim and purpose.
#4. Prepare some topics to discuss.
Think ahead about the topics you would like to discuss with the people you meet. You might try rehearsing what you would like to say. Choose topics for which you are a subject-matter expert (SME), or those where you have a vested interest or passion – topics that touch on the core of your current business or projects. This is the oil that will help your words flow once the conversation is started. When you meet someone, open the conversation with one of these topics you’ve prepared.

#5. Make use of meal time.
Meal times are an excellent opportunity to get some focused one-on-one or small group time with your contacts. Invite them to lunch or dinner. Use the break times in between conference sessions to grab a coffee with someone. Keep it casual. Get to know them as a person. Ask open ended questions about their backgrounds and careers. Show genuine interest, and let them talk. Most people love to talk about themselves. This is a time for you to talk less and listen more. Of course, be prepared to talk about yourself as well if your contacts ask about your background and career.

I hope these tips will be as helpful for you as they have been for me. Happy networking!