.@sharonlechter gets my #MoneyGames vote! "How to Spend Happily and Still Get Ahead" https://t.co/2dqGlqNAi5

Spending Happily While Achieving Financial Empowerment

Written by Sharon Lechter on . Posted in Financial Advice

financial empowermentWhen it come to achieving financial empowerment, many think it has to do with how much money you make. Contrary to this train of thought, I want to share with you that financial empowerment has more to do with what you do with your money than how much you make. Many people think this means eliminating all spending. But, I am here to tell you that it is absolutely possible to spend happily and still get ahead!

It was my honor to be asked to provide an article on this subject in the 2016 Summer Money Games. I look forward to bringing home the gold in the Money Games and have included an excerpt below to support you in your medal worthy efforts for financial empowerment.

The formula to creating abundance, not scarcity, in our lives starts with planning to spend. In fact, when we focus instead on a budget, it may seem like we need to be doing the opposite: planning not to spend. The reality is that we are bound to spend money. Some expenses are essential for living — others are lifestyle preferences. The point is it is essential to have a plan for your money so you will have a plan for your future freedom.

The word “budget” is such a negative word. Just saying it, or writing it, validates a mindset of scarcity. In fact, the adjective form of the word “budget” means “inexpensive,” like “budget condo.” So let’s replace the phrase “create a budget” with “create a spending plan!” Most of us love to spend.

At the end of the day, we are all either masters of our money or slaves to our money! And the formula for becoming a master of your money is to have a plan on how you are going to spend your money with an eye on your financial future.

Has this snippet piqued your interest? Are you ready to learn more about financial empowerment and how to create a spending plan? If so, please visit gobankingrates.com and read my article in its entirety. And, if you like what you’ve read and found it helpful and empowering, please vote for my article in the Money Games competition on the gobankingrates.com website. Voting ends on August 31, and you can vote daily from all of your devices and when you share on social media using #MoneyGames, your vote counts up to 4 more times!

The Benefits Of Mentoring

Written by Sharon Lechter on . Posted in mentoring

The benefits of mentoring can be numerous. In a traditional professional environment, mentoring gives young professionals access to a seasoned businessperson who can help guide their growth. These relationships often include one-on-one career benefits of mentoringguidance, chances to explore new areas of growth and networking opportunities. Developing a focused approach is important to truly reap the benefits of mentoring. If too many potential topics are placed on the table for action, the mentoring relationship can be spread too thin. Chances also increase that the young professional won’t be matched with a mentor who is experienced in the specific area(s) in which the mentee would like the most support.

Focusing on Areas of Potential Growth

What’s the best way to identify the key area(s) where young professionals will benefit the most from mentor support? One way is to identify the mentee’s greatest opportunities for growth. These areas might have been mentioned during job evaluations or may be skills in which the mentee feels less confident.  Various assessments also can help identify areas to target for growth.

Long-term professional goals also can serve as the focus for mentoring. For instance, some mentees want to move into senior-level positions; therefore, they can use a mentor’s guidance to hone their leadership and management skills. In these cases, management or leadership assessments can serve as a good starting point to help the mentor and mentee determine the specific skills on which to focus. Additionally, the mentee’s boss also can help identify areas of growth needed for the mentee to be considered for future management positions.

Reverse Mentoring

Don’t forget that mentoring can be a two-way street. The mentee often has many types of expertise –such as social media and technology — to share with the mentor. Therefore, part of the early conversation between the mentor and the mentee should include brainstorming about ways to make sure the benefits of mentoring are mutual.

Mentoring offers an opportunity for informal guidance that can help both the mentee and the mentor grow professionally. While this relationship may only last a few months or years, the knowledge shared between both individuals will inform their business perspectives throughout their lives.

Introducing A Keynote Speaker

Written by Sharon Lechter on . Posted in public speaking

keynote speakerYou have been asked to introduce the keynote speaker at a major industry conference. You’re honored by the opportunity, but also daunted by the person’s lengthy resume full of important achievements. How can you pull together an introduction that does justice to the speaker’s qualifications while also not putting the audience to sleep?

An Introduction Sets the Stage

Before starting to write the introduction, think back to a time when you were in the audience awaiting a keynote speech. Which introductions captured your attention and caused you to sit up in your chair in anticipation of the speech? Which introductions were so dull that you started looking at the conference program to see what sessions were being offered later that day?

Needless to say, you want your introduction to be more like the former than the latter. To do so,  keep the introduction short. For example, Toastmasters International recommends that the introduction take about a minute to complete.  Therefore, it’s important to talk to the conference organizer as soon as possible to determine exactly how long the introduction should be.  It is also important to get an understanding of what highlights the speaker feels are most important to include in an introduction. Many speakers have a short intro that they use specifically for this purpose.

Focus on Building Anticipation

If the speaker you are introducing does not already have a short bio, the next step is writing the introduction. When crafting your comments, remember that the purpose of an introduction is to build anticipation for the keynote speech. Great introductions don’t include a blow-by-blow reading of the speaker’s resume. Instead, a great introduction usually starts with some sort of attention-grabbing comment, such as a quote or a quick story related to the keynote speaker. The introduction then offers a few major resume highlights to underscore the speaker’s expertise. Your introduction also shouldn’t take away from the speaker’s key messages.

Finally, practice the introduction several times. Reciting the introduction allows you to become comfortable with the wording and identify any areas that need revisions.

When writing an introduction, remember that you’re verbally placing the conference spotlight on the keynote speaker. You’ll know that you’ve done a good job when the audience remembers the keynote speaker instead of you at the end of the session.

What Is A Mentor Relationship?

Written by Sharon Lechter on . Posted in mentoring

what is a mentorThe answer to the question What is a mentor relationship? varies from one mentor to another. It is a great question to ask if you’re considering becoming a mentor to a young professional.

In fact, there are many reasons to consider this question. While many tenured business professionals have a wellspring of knowledge to share, they often don’t think about what the mentoring relationship will look like. How will you interact with someone who comes from a different generation, ethnicity or religion and may have different values than you? What kind of interpersonal skills will you need to bring to the table to make the mentoring relationship successful? How will you discuss your professional and managerial triumphs and downfalls? How will you encourage your mentee to learn?

Assessing Your Skills to Help You Grow as a Mentor

There are multiple assessments available that can help you evaluate your mentoring skills. While some can be industry specific, they all offer insights into the necessary characteristics to be a mentor. For instance, many mentoring assessments list categories such as listening skills, communication skills, personal competence, professional knowledge and skills, management knowledge and skills, and problem-solving skills.

These skills can be further detailed. For instance, seasoned professionals often need the following skills when guiding a younger professional:

  • Active listening
  • The ability to offer trust
  • The capacity to offer constructive feedback
  • The ability to work with the mentee to develop strategies to meet goals
  • The capacity to align your expectations with the mentee’s
  • The capacity to motivate your mentee
  • The ability to boost the mentee’s confidence
  • The ability to encourage creativity
  • The ability to encourage strategic thinking
  • The capacity to foster professional independence
 

Becoming a Better Mentor

What is a mentor to do to develop these skills that will help them guide a mentee? The first step is to do a self-analysis. Think carefully about how you interact with others, whether family members, community members or coworkers. What feedback have you previously received from your employees? What areas have been addressed in your annual evaluation?

Then think about taking the next steps to grow your skills through going to a seminar, reading, watching videos or studying what other successful leaders do. You also might want to talk to your company’s HR department to see what resources are available to help you.

The mentoring relationship is a great opportunity to build your own skill set as well as that of a young professional. Use this time to develop the characteristics of a wise sage so that you can listen and guide young professionals. By doing so, your knowledge and advice will continually be eagerly sought after by the next generations of business leaders.

Business Development | Importance Of Online Reviews

Written by admin on . Posted in business development

Why Online Reviews Are Important To Business Development

By Guest Blogger, Joel Coen, Chief Digital Officer, Commit Agency

Business development success, customer acquisition and loyalty are major priorities for all businesses. Growing in both relevant and meaningful ways is critical…and it starts with how people make decisions on who to do business with.

business developmentOnline ratings and reviews have become a key influencer in purchase decision making. Business development strategies prioritize digital and online outreach. The evolution of digital channels has supported buyer engagement. And, strategies like SEO are priorities for raising visibility and building trust.

Here are four reasons that online ratings and reviews are important to your business:

1. Strongest off page SEO elements. When you “google” your business, the first visual impression is your Google My Business page and the accompanying reviews. Google crawlers are picking up input from these review pages and attributing it directly to your brand. Visibility with the Google algorithms has a primary impact on the amplification of your brand.

2. The experience someone has when they “look you up”. Checking online reviews is often the first thing someone does when researching a business. If your business has good reviews, it sends a message that you are trustworthy, competent, and committed to creating positive relationships with your customers.  Lack of reviews, however, is a rookie “swing and miss” in today’s world.

3. Validation of quality of service. Buyers want to know if they can trust you and your business. They often refer to ratings and reviews to see what others are saying. The opinion of someone who has worked with your brand has strong influence on whether or not a buyer will engage.

4. Highest Influencer at the Moment of Truth. Ratings and reviews are the highest influencer at the moment of truth….the decision making moment. The power of other people’s experiences either closes the deal or sends prospects on their way to do more research.

As a business or brand, you want to provide the best representation to current and potential customers, clients, patients, etc. The best way to ensure favorable results is to live out your brand so that positive reviews genuinely and organically reflect how you conduct your business. Anything less can certainly work against your business development efforts.

Tips For Giving A Keynote Speech

Written by Sharon Lechter on . Posted in public speaking

keyote speechAs someone who has made many a presentation over the course of my career, I have learned that there is more to giving a speech than just making sure your note cards are in order. When you give a keynote speech, there are several things you will want to keep in mind in order to really captivate your audience.

For example, a great presenter knows how to give a keynote speech that delivers. It involves having a solid understanding of your content and your audience. But no matter how well you know your subject matter, knowing how to give a presentation that is effective and memorable also requires the ability to express yourself in order to keep your audience engaged.

Some researchers suggest that successful communication is based on how you present your message (your body language and tone of voice) more than what you say (the speech’s content). While some disagree and believe that content is more important, speakers need to keep in mind that many in today’s audience are bombarded with high stimuli, are held captive by electronic devices and are used to multitasking. Therefore, you may need to add some flair to your speech delivery to keep people’s interest. When thinking about how to give a keynote speech, consider focusing on four key areas: appearance, eye contact, gestures and voice.

Appearance

What you choose to wear for a presentation may depend on the type of event. For some conferences, attendees may be dressed primarily in business casual whereas at other events it will be more formal business attire. While you don’t necessarily need to be decked out for every presentation, your appearance should set you apart. For example, consider wearing clothes that are one notch above what audience members will be wearing. If the audience is wearing jeans, wear nice khaki pants instead. Also, it is a good idea to avoid distracting patterns or loud jewelry. Another important consideration is your personal brand. If your brand representation is more sophisticated or elegant, for instance, you will certainly want to dress the part.

Eye Contact

You can create a bond with the audience through periodically looking into select individual listeners’ eyes for a few seconds during the presentation. While it would be a challenge to make this type of connection with every listener, placing your attention on individuals or groups located in different areas of the room can create a sense of intimacy with the audience as a whole.

Gestures

How you physically present yourself will reflect your confidence and influence the level at which your audience perceives your authority. Make sure you match your gestures to your message. Also try to use gestures that bring life to some of the verbs in your speech. Keep in mind that the size of your gestures should also match the size of the room/audience so that everyone can appreciate what you are communicating.

Voice

Your voice quality also makes a difference in people’s attention span. Emulate engaging storytelling techniques such as varying the volume, pitch, pace and emotional range of your voice while telling a story. Also, make sure your voice’s tone matches your speech, facial expressions and gestures.

When thinking about how to give a keynote speech, it is essential to devote as much time practicing your delivery as you do in developing the content. Just remember the classic advice, “It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it!”

Cultivating A Mentor Relationship

Written by Sharon Lechter on . Posted in mentoring

mentor relationshipMany entrepreneurs reach out to mentors to soak up their valuable advice and guidance. These relationships may feel like you’re sitting in the presence of Yoda or Dumbledore. However, can you meet too often with this trusted advisor? And do you run the risk of harming the mentor relationship by trying to schedule frequent meetings?

Meetings of the Minds

Both you and your mentor probably have busy schedules so you want to make sure you’re having productive meetings.  With that said, you also need to maintain an active relationship in order to benefit from the mentor relationship. The Kilfinan Group recommends scheduling 4-6 meetings of approximately two hours apiece between mentors and mentees each year. These meetings can be supplemented with regular telephone and email contact. My mentor programs include 12 calls each year as I find connecting each month facilitates accountability and focus.

Depending on the mentor relationship, you may want to schedule these days in advance in order to make sure that they get a place on busy calendars. However, you also can benefit from impromptu meetings with your mentor over a cup of coffee.

Preparing for Meetings

Prior to meeting with your mentor, you may want to select a few topics that you’d like to discuss. However, an agenda isn’t necessary – and at times, it can get in the way of a spontaneous conversation that proves to be really fruitful for both the mentor and mentee. For instance, you and your mentor may want to talk about how your respective businesses will be impacted by the latest business-related news — whether it’s the new iPhone release, oil production or trade embargos – announced in that morning’s news.

Reciprocal Relationships

Great mentor relationships have benefits to both parties.  Most mentors take on the role because they want to see others grow. There is satisfaction in seeing results being created and participating in the process.  In addition, the personal relationship that develops is nurturing to both parties.

The mentor relationship benefits from regular meetings that allow an exchange of ideas and focus on current issues. Meetings should be spread out enough to allow for the creation of results but close enough to stay on track and provide accountability.  It is the combination of focus, accountability and a mutual engagement that creates the best mentor relationships.

Using Visuals As A Corporate Speaker

Written by Sharon Lechter on . Posted in public speaking

corporate speakerAs a corporate speaker, there is tremendous opportunity to add to the audience experience through visual aids. These visual aids can facilitate the message to resonate with the audience beyond her presentation. These cues help listeners do a better job of remembering information that they’ve heard.

Quality and placement of the visual aid are key. For example, adding a short film clip that illustrates a key point offers a memorable form of reinforcement for audience members who regularly binge-watch Netflix shows.  However, poorly planned visuals can easily turn off listeners. Just ask any audience member who has sat in the back row and strained to read a slide with tiny type.

How can a corporate speaker select visuals that add the “wow” factor to a presentation? It comes down to knowing your speech and your audience.

Choosing the Right Visual Aids

A corporate speaker can choose from a variety of visual aids, including PowerPoint, a flip chart, a video, maps, diagrams, lists, handouts, photographs, concept maps, sketches or props. Considering that wealth of possibilities, a corporate speaker faces a challenging task in selecting which aids to use.

The best place to start is through analyzing the content of the speech. Visual aids should serve as an exclamation point for key sections of the presentation. These cues can be used to provide definitions, highlight new points, illustrate important data and offer evidence to support an argument.

Simplicity is key. Visual aids should reinforce the message of the presentation while not taking away from the corporate speaker.  Visuals that are going to be projected onto a screen should be colorful, unique and readable by audience members who are sitting at the far edges of the room.

A corporate speaker also needs to avoid relying on visual aids as a crutch during the presentation. For instance, reading directly from a visual aid will turn off the audience. Using the visual aids in the rehearsal process increases the chances of a smooth presentation. This rehearsal also is especially important when the visual aids are based on new technology.

Know Your Audience

Understanding the makeup of your audience is critical when planning which visual aids to use. For example, an industry-specific presentation can incorporate visual aids that use more data and jargon.

When considering your visual aids, be sure to take the room size and layout into consideration. For example, audience members in the back row need to be able to clearly see visuals that are being projected on screens.

Visual aids can make a presentation more memorable. Therefore, corporate speakers should take as much care developing these aids as they do the content of their speech. Poorly planned visual aids can leave a bad impression – and make a great presentation forgettable.

Protégé Program | ThriveTime For Teens

Written by admin on . Posted in Financial Advice, Pay Your Family First

Protégé Program | ThriveTime for Teens

By Guest Blogger, Angela J. Totman

In today’s collaborative business environment and with the growing priority for positive social influence, it is not surprising that many professionals, entrepreneurs and though leaders seek to participate in a protégé program as part of their give back. Whether through formal programs or individual initiatives, lending insight and guidance is one of the most rewarding and effective ways to give a hand up to others.

protege programAt Pay Your Family First, our mission includes teaching financial education to youth in a relevant and immediately applicable way. We do this through our ThriveTime for Teens board game and in the process are able to create a community of protégés that advocate for the importance of what they’ve learned. Although it doesn’t take a tremendous amount of structure, there are a few key elements to an effective protégé program. They are:

1. A desired beneficial outcome. Our desired outcome is that youth receive the benefit of increased comprehension of money related concepts and that they can immediately apply the lessons learned through game play. We use surveys and questionnaires before and after game play to measure our outcomes.

2. A method for delivery or facilitation of the beneficial outcome. Using the ThriveTime for Teens game as a tool is a fun and relatable way for us to deliver education. It is not only effective, but it takes the burden of the instruction process away from a specific leader and relies on the functionality of the game and the decision making process through game play to create “aha!” moments for players.

3. A succession/continuation process. Because the game is relevant, effective and fun, it lends itself to its own perpetual cycle. This is because the youth that play the game then go on and share it with their friends and classmates who go on to do the same. The game is infinitely reusable and can therefore be a perpetual vehicle for anyone wishing to carry the banner for financial education.

It was through my informal protégé program with Sharon Lechter that I have had the honor to lead the charge in Pay Your Family First’s community programs using the ThriveTime for Teens game. By using the game, we not only see results with an increased understanding of financial concepts, but we but we also facilitated a way for those youth and other concerned adults to continue sharing money and life lessons to friends, family members and students. This is done around dining room tables, in classroom, churches and in youth organizations.

To learn more about the ThriveTime for Teens game and how you can support our efforts in creating a generation of financially capable protégés, please visit www.thrivetimegame.com

Business Mentors & Where To Find Them

Written by Sharon Lechter on . Posted in mentoring

When you think of entrepreneurs, you may describe an independent and charismatic businessperson like Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey or Bill Gates. While many entrepreneurs do not fit into that mold, they do share many common characteristics with these business titans. One of the most important traits is the ability to learn from others. For instance, many entrepreneurs find that they – along with their business – experience exponential growth through working with business mentors.

Advice for Entrepreneurial Challenges

business mentors

The sage advice from business mentors can help entrepreneurs navigate a number of business challenges. In fact, one study reported that 70 percent of entrepreneurs with a mentor have a business that survives past the five-year mark. This rate is significantly higher than the business survival rate of small business owners who do not have a mentor.

Finding an Entrepreneurial Yoda

How can you find a business mentor who can offer wise and timely advice? An Entrepreneur.com article suggests considering three types of mentors:

  • A mentor who provides knowledge at a distance – While you may never meet this person, you can glean insights from them through their websites, books, TED Talks, podcasts or webinars.
 
  • Industry-specific mentors – Industry-specific business mentors offer expertise in your chosen industry and are available to meet periodically in person or by phone. You can identify these potential mentors through the Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Development Centers or professional organizations.
 
  • Personal mentors – Like an industry-specific mentor, a personal mentor can be met through your networking opportunities. However, a personal mentor does not have to be in a related industry. The traits of a successful entrepreneur are typically universal, regardless of the business you are in.
 

A great way to source possible mentors is to either a) ask successful entrepreneurs who their business mentor is, or b) research your idols and find out who their mentors are. Many of the entrepreneurs in our Master Mentor program are referred to us from others who have experienced success. People who know you and also have their own mentors are well-equipped to offer referral suggestions and are a great place to start.

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ABOUT

Sharon Lechter has combined her expertise as a CPA and an international bestselling author with her unmatched passion for financial literacy and entrepreneurship to inspire change for individuals and businesses across the globe for over 30 years.

Credited as the genius behind the Rich Dad brand, Sharon’s current partnership with the Napoleon Hill Foundation uniquely positions her as a stand out in the personal development industry. As a driving force behind these two mega brands, Sharon has demonstrated her entrepreneurial vision and business expertise while empowering audiences with messages of hope and prosperity.

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