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Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

 

“No one can pay you enough money to do a job you don’t love.” That’s what this video is all about. The joy of working. 

I learned all of this from my dad–having a passion for your work.

Yes, it’s easy to think because you get paid well at a job you don’t like, that at least you are getting paid. But I believe you can be paid as well if not more doing work you love.

As my dad says, “always love what you do.”

 

Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

 

Entrepreneurs understand that there is risk associated with running a business. In this video, I discuss why entrepreneurs need to “take the risk.” 

 

Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

Your company story is important. Let the employees tell the story.

Corporate communication is complex. That’s because every organization has multiple audiences- employees, managers, stakeholders, and customers. Each of these has a unique need, level of interest and understanding of your organization. Not to mention, video is becoming the preferred method of communication and not everyone is camera-friendly.

For a long time, executives were the ones out front- the face of the company. That’s because many are under the false impression that the person with the title is the best one to communicate. That is not necessarily the case. In fact, today progressive companies are looking to broaden their communications and feature employees, at every level of the organization, in critical communications from recruitment efforts to customer messages. Here’s why.

Executives are Overused:

Some communicators believe that they need senior executives to “champion” a cause.  They use executives to explain and promote everything from the diversity initiative to the recent sales program and much more. The problem is that these executive messages are often vague and simply don’t say much. How many times have you heard phrases like… “We need to be more open and transparent.” “We need to put the customer at the center of everything we do.” You get the idea. Executives should be used where they can speak authentically and specifically about a topic. They should be used to communicate valuable information about the organization and its structure, the financial outlook or the challenges of the future.

Employees Stories are Engaging — So Let the Employees Tell the Story:

Executives are clearly responsible for corporate culture. And, culture is important. It is directly tied to employee retention and job satisfaction.  So how do you provide a window into your company culture? Companies are increasingly moving beyond executives and turning to employee features to bring the human perspective to the workplace. This includes everything from stories about why they love their work, volunteer activities, team achievements and more.  These stories, both print and video, bring ideas to life, inspire others to achieve and foster understanding. And, I personally think these stories are more effective than an executive simply talking about culture. Employees are real people sharing real stories and that is powerful.

Build Ownership:

Employees who participate or are featured in communications have a more intense connection to the company. They are proud of the work they do and love to share their expertise. As a result, they are more engaged and motivated. Employee to employee communication can be a powerful endorsement of a company initiative. It can help encourage change and improvements. And, provide a forum for sharing best practices. It’s one thing to have an executive tout the company and quite another to have employees endorse it. Employee features are also a way to build engagement with customers.  A story about how an employee built a product, went out of their way to serve a customer or help their community shows a different and more personal side of your organization.

Bottom line? Developing a communications plan that includes a diverse group, from the CEO to employees on the floor, can have tangible and lasting results both inside and outside of your organization.        

Here is an example – let employees tell the story.

Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

 

There is nothing like the feeling of running a business. In this video about training entrepreneurs, I discuss how my father trained me to run a business one day. From my time sweeping the floors in his dry-cleaning establishment to taking the money to the bank, these experiences helped shape me into an entrepreneur

Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

 

Who would you rather bet on? Would you rather bet on that large employer or would you rather take the risk and bet on yourself? Check out this video for my easy answer.  

This audio was taken from the interview I did on the Entrepreneur Perspectives podcast. And the video was produced by my video production company, Cynthia Kay and Company.

 

Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

I was recently a guest on the podcast, Entrepreneur Perspectives (listen here). This podcast is produced by KazCM, the content marketing arm of KazSource, Inc. It’s a weekly podcast where Eric Kasimov, the CEO of KazSource, chats with inspiring and influential people in the business world–it’s all about helping you the business owner build and protect your business 1 podcast at a time. With my love of all things audio, video, and entrepreneurship, it was a delight to appear on this podcast.

You can listen to this episode the following ways:

iTunes

Web Player

Stitcher

On this episode of Entrepreneur Perspectives, I discussed many things that I am passionate about, including:

4:50 | The National Small Business Association (NSBA) 

17:40 | When to Hire

24:55 | One of my favorites: The importance of video 

34:30 | Speaking at events

42:10 | My dad, the dry cleaner

Useful links from this episode:

Articles and videos mentioned in this episode:

Apps mentioned:

My books: 

Hire me to speak:

Other important links:

Key Takeaways:

  • “Entrepreneurs are risk adverse.”
  • “I would rather bet on myself and my ability, even in the tough times.” 
  • “No one can pay you enough money to do a job that you don’t love.”

Connect with us:

Cynthia Kay: InstagramLinkedIn

Eric Kasimov: LinkedInInstagramTwitter

I hope you enjoyed this episode: “Perspectives on Small Business with Cynthia Kay.”

Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

Any entrepreneur can tell you that when they were starting a business, financing was a major component.

Starting a business? One of the most critical decisions is the approach. Do you quit your job? Wade into a new venture while still employed full-time? Do you work part-time for someone else to help ease the budget crunch? If you have lost your job, do you just make the leap?

The answer comes down to one word – MONEY.

Financing a start-up is not easy. According to the National Small Business Association, “64 percent of small businesses used financing in 2017, 29% used credit cards. Almost 30 percent were not able to obtain adequate financing.” That is telling because small businesses usually take out starter loans to buy equipment, open an office or purchase some type of inventory.

When I started my business, I had lost a job. (Actually, I got fired … but that’s a whole different story.) This was the job I moved back home to take. My father told me at the time there was no kitchen big enough for two Greek women, so I bought a starter house. Now I was single, unemployed and had a mortgage.

I always knew I wanted to start my own business. I just did not think it would be that soon. It was time to decide. What I did next is what many entrepreneurs do – I got a job to help finance my start-up. That might not sound very entrepreneurial – but for me, it worked! I took a position as an adjunct faculty member for a University. For two years, I taught full-time while getting the business up and running. I took out a small loan and put my house up as collateral. I worked out of my home to market the fledgling company, secure clients and set up systems. When asked to teach for a third year, I declined. For the business to go to the next level it needed more of my time and attention.

I know that many would say this was the safe way to start out. Some might question if I was an effective teacher. I would argue that I was being responsible. And, students got the benefit of instruction from a working professional. Of course, there is a downside to working during a start-up.

The hours can be overwhelming.

You must not “short” your employer. You must give the job your full attention while you are there. And it goes without saying, you should not work on your business while someone else is paying for your time. Clearly define a plan to make the big leap to working full-time in your own business. Otherwise, it simply won’t happen. Set a deadline and stick to it.

There are many different paths to starting a business. Use your savings and take the leap. Go for a loan or crowdfunding. Work during your start-up. The important thing is not how you start, but that you build a foundation so the business will last.

Let’s connect on Instagram.

Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash

Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

Small business advocate: Access to capital is critical for small business owners.

 

Ask any small business person about the challenges they face and at least one will be access to capital. In simple terms M-O-N-E-Y. Often no one wants to lend you money when you need it. When you don’t need it, everyone wants to lend you money.

Another issue is the paperwork and complexity to apply for loans. When I needed cash to launch my business, I started in a pretty traditional way. I took stacks of paper and went from bank to bank. It was time consuming, but it worked. The first loan was under $100,000, typical for small business. Small business lending statistics have been consistent recently. Over 70% of small businesses are looking for loans less than $250,000, and more than 60% want loans less than $100,000. These are generally the loans a lot of lenders don’t want to handle because they prefer bigger, more profitable transactions.

The good news is today there are many more options from alternative lending sources.

Recently I heard a speech on small business credit and capital by Nat Hoopes, Executive Director from the Marketplace Lending Association. He spoke about the growth of financial technology also known as “fintech”. Essentially, fintech refers to an industry made up of companies who use technology to compete with traditional institutions, like banks. Peer-to peer lending sites like Lending Club and Funding Circle are members of the Marketplace Lending Association.

While doing research for my book Small Business for Big Thinkers, I profiled one online lender, On Deck, and learned a lot about why borrowers turn to this kind of funding. For one thing, alternative lending sources make the borrowing process fast, simple, and transparent. Unlike the reams of paper you need to submit with some other types of loans, the application process is usually one page online and takes about ten to fifteen minutes to complete. Often these companies approve loans based on three months of bank processing, or three months of merchant processing.

Here’s the part that really makes you take notice.  Decisions can be delivered in as fast as one business day, and funding in as fast as two business days.

It makes you wonder how alternative lending sources approve businesses and react so quickly when some traditional ones cannot? It’s all about the technology that seamlessly aggregates digital information – such as cash flow, merchant processing information, and social data – to evaluate the true health of a business.

Of course, you can expect to pay more for money from these sources, but this does not seem to bother some small companies. Those I spoke with believe speed and ease are the top priority. Some experts also believe paying a higher interest rate is not necessarily bad. Business owners who pay more may be better prepared when the artificially low rate cap comes off interest rates.

Small businesses need to consider all the options when searching for affordable credit. They also need to consider the risks, because how you manage money and your credit is one of the most critical aspects of business. The alternative market won’t discipline you. You must to do that.

If you need a primer on what is happening, check out the Harvard Business School report The State of Small Business Lending: Innovation and Technology and the Implications for Regulation by Karen Gordon and Mills Brayden McCarthy. I hope articles like this help as I love being your small business advocate.

 

Interested in having me speak at your next event? You can view my speaking packet here.

Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

Business lessons from my dad to me–and now to you.

With the holiday season coming and going, I think back to what is very important to me–family. One family member who has had a major impact on my business life is my father. I wanted to share some of his business wisdom. 

I am the owner of a media production company but my education in business began long before I started the business. It began in the backroom of a dry-cleaning establishment. It was a family-owned business operated by my dad and his two brothers, the descendants of Greek immigrants. The brothers also owned a small burger joint right next door where the specialty was, what else, Greek chili dogs.

I can remember working at the cleaners from the time I was old enough to follow directions. Every Saturday he would take my sister, younger brother, and me to the store. While he did paperwork, or caught up on loads of clothing in need of attention, we would check in the dirty clothes, put paper inserts on hangers, and clean the store. It was my first foray into business and believe me, there was no better feeling than having the run of the store. As I got older, I worked my way up to being a counter girl, my first sales experience. Then, I could open and close the place, my first management experience.

Some 30 years into my own business I am still amazed that what I learned from my dad still holds true. And the advice is as sound as what you get from business gurus whose books make the New York Times bestseller list. So here are dad’s lessons.

Business Lesson 1: No one can pay you enough money to do a job you don’t love. My dad always said “do what you love and the money will follow”. It does not matter if your passion is clean clothes (as it was for my dad), or media production (my passion), when you love what you do it is not work. And, people who are passionate about what they do excel.

Business Lesson 2: Learn every aspect of your business. If there was a garment that needed attention to get out nasty spots, my dad knew how to get it done. He could press creases into pants that were perfect. He could run the counter and greet every customer by name. He knew the machines and money side of the business. There are many stories about people who have moved from the shop floor to the C-Suite. It is not an accident. People who learn business from the ground up are often the most compassionate and informed leaders.

Business Lesson 3: Treat every person with respect. It did not matter if a customer brought him one suit or a whole closet full of clothes, everyone got special treatment. There were no small customers, just smaller orders. I have learned this lesson first-hand.  By taking a small job no one wanted I gained a large manufacturing client and have a 30-year history of working with them. Pay attention to small customers, they get bigger.

Business Lesson 4: Value loyalty. My dad was fiercely loyal to suppliers who helped him get started in business. They trusted him and extended him credit when some would not. As he became more successful, everyone wanted his business and tried to undercut his long-time suppliers. My dad never even considered making a change to get a discount. Relationships are important. That also holds true for employees and everyone who is important to you in your personal and professional life.

Business Lesson 5: Give back. My father believed very strongly that business has a responsibility to give back to the community long before it was popular. He donated free dry-cleaning to schools and non-profits. He and mom volunteered. They gave of time, talent, and treasure. He was always working and always giving back. He is known for the beautiful birdhouses he designs and builds. You can’t buy one, but he would give you one.

These business lessons sound simple. Do what you love. Know your business inside and out. Be respectful and loyal. Give back.

Thanks for the business lessons, dad!

(Note: Afendoulis Cleaners is still family owned and in the capable hands of my first cousins.)

LET’S CONNECT ON INSTAGRAM

Public Speaking, Presentation Skills & Media Training

Every day, business owners makes countless decisions. Some have long-term, significant impact on the business. Others are small ones. It is important to think through decisions. However, you should be aware overthinking decisions can lead to paralysis, missed opportunities, and slow your business to a crawl. So why don’t people choose to make timely decisions?

 

Fear of being wrong

Some business owners I know test out potential decisions on anyone and everyone. They go from person to person and explain a situation in depth. They talk about their plan and play out the scenarios. The truth is, certain people and resources can provide feedback to help you make good decisions. Others simply don’t know your business well enough. As a business owner, you have to be ready to take risks. Do nothing and the competition speeds ahead of you.

 

The need to know everything

For many, it’s important to have every piece of information available and analyze it to death. You simply can’t know it all. The best way to navigate is to understand how much information you need to be comfortable with your decision. This is different for each person. For me, when it comes to small decisions, I am good with 60%, for big ones 80%.

 

Too much collaboration

Large organizations with complex teams are especially susceptible to over-collaborating. It’s great to have diversity of thoughts and ideas, but too much collaboration can delay or sidetrack critical projects. The speed of business demands efficient collaboration. This is actually easier and more convenient with today’s technology. Collaboration tools like Cisco Spark, Skype for Business, and Zoom make it easy to “get in the same room” and move business ahead.

So how do you avoid overthinking decisions? Here is some advice from Stop Wishing. Stop Whining. Start Leading, a book I co-authored with Doreen Bolhuis.

“One approach is to break the decision down into “smaller bites.” Think of it this way, if you want to buy a new house, you don’t just go out and do it. First, you get pre-qualified for a loan so you know how much buying power you have and if you will be able to secure funding. You might research neighborhoods. You would look at the property values, the schools, and location with regard to essential services. Next, you might be looking at the styles of homes, layouts, the number of bedrooms, etc.  You are breaking the home-buying decision down into manageable decisions. This is the same process you use for business decisions.

Timing is important. You must get that right. Once you have done the research, make the best decision you can. It may not be perfect. In fact, it won’t be, because nothing is perfect. If you wait for perfect conditions you will never do anything. You will get stalled.

After you make a big decision, you may experience “buyer’s remorse.”  This is very common especially with large decisions. These are decisions that impact people and the business in a life-changing way. Don’t second guess yourself. It is easy to feel like you should or could have done more.  Unfortunately, the world does not stand still so you must be disciplined and keep moving forward, even if it feels bad emotionally.”

A few final thoughts.

If you are going to lead an organization, decision-making is a critical skill. Start practicing with small ones and work your way up to the big ones. Don’t overthink your decisions or your organization will suffer. If you are looking for a formal process check out the 7 Steps to Effective Decision Making from UMass Dartmouth.