I’m one of those weird people who gets excited about performance reviews. I like getting feedback and understanding how I can improve. A few years ago, I sat down for my first annual review as the director of communications for the Florida secretary of state, under the governor of Florida.
I had a great relationship with my chief of staff, but I had taken on a major challenge when I accepted the job a year prior. I didn’t really know what to expect.
Youth takes charge
I was 25 at the time, and everyone on my team was in their thirties and forties. I came from Washington, D.C., and was an outsider to my southern colleagues. I was asking a lot from people who had been used to very different expectations from their supervisor.
I sat down with my chief of staff who gave me some feedback about the challenges I had tackled.
She then paused and said to me, very directly,”But you have to stop apologising. You must stop saying sorry for doing your job.”
I didn’t know what to say. My reflex was to reply sheepishly, “Umm, I’m sorry?” But instead I immediately decided to be more cognisant of how often I said I was sorry. Years later, her words have stuck with me. I have what some may consider the classic female disease of apologising. When the New York Times addressed it, five of my friends and past coworkers sent it to me.
In it, writer Sloane Crosley got to the heart of the issue:
“To me, they sound like tiny acts of revolt, expressions of frustration or anger at having to ask for what should be automatic. They are employed when a situation is so clearly not our fault that we think the apology will serve as a prompt for the person who should be apologising.”
Topic of debate
I’ve talked at length with other women trying to figure out this fine balance. The Washington Post, Time, and Cosmopolitan have all tackled this topic. Some say it’s OK to apologise; others criticise those who are criticising women who apologise. Clearly, I’m not alone in dealing with this issue. In fact, I’m constantly telling the people I manage that by apologising they give up a lot of their power.
Here’s the bottom line: Don’t apologise for doing your job.
If you’re following up with a coworker about something they said they’d get to you earlier, don’t say, “Sorry to bug you!” If you want to share your thoughts in a meeting, don’t start off by saying, “Sorry, I just want to add…” If you’re doing your job, you have absolutely nothing to apologise for.
That’s what I think. And I’m not even sorry about it.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Richard Branson’s ABCs Of Business
Throughout the year, the Virgin co-founder shared what he thinks are the essential elements to success.
If there’s one thing Richard Branson knows, it’s how to run a successful business.
Throughout last year, the Virgin founder shared what he thinks are the keys ingredients to building a successful company with each letter of the alphabet, which he slowly revealed through the 365 days.
From A for attitude to N for naivety to Z for ZZZ, check out Branson’s ABCs of success.
10 Quotes On Following Your Dreams, Having Passion And Showing Hard Work From Tech Guru Michael Dell
If you’re in need of a little motivation, check out these quotes from Dell’s CEO, founder and chairman.
There’s much to learn from one of the computer industry’s longest tenured CEOs and founders, Michael Dell. As an integral part of the computer revolution in the 1980s, Dell launched Dell Computer Corporation from his dorm room at the University of Texas. And it didn’t take Dell long before he’d launched one of the most successful computer companies. Indeed, by 1992 Dell was the youngest CEO of a fortune 500 company.
Dell’s success had been long foreshadowed. When he was 15, Dell showed great interest in technology, purchasing an early version of an Apple computer, only so he could take it apart and see how it was built. And once he got to college, Dell noticed a gap in the market for computers: There were no companies that were selling directly to consumers. So, he decided to cut out the middleman and began building and selling computers directly to his classmates. Before long, he dropped out of school officially to pursue Dell.
Fast forward to today. Dell is not only a tech genius and businessman, but a bestselling author, investor and philanthropist, with a networth of $24.7 billion. He continues his role as the CEO and chairman of Dell Technologies, making him one of the longest tenured CEOs in the computer industry.
So if you’re in need of some motivation or inspiration, take it from Dell.
Invest In Sleep: How Scrimping On Sleep Could Kill Your Business
Sleep can be your secret weapon for success as an entrepreneur – if you let it.
Most business bosses get less than six hours’ sleep a night, according to a recent US study by Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine. That puts them firmly in the category of those suffering the worst sleep quality.
In other words, their own sleep habits are creating more stress for them.
Just when you need to be bursting with energy and busting stress to enable constructive, creative business thinking, lack of sleep instead reduces your ability to concentrate, calculate, think logically and remember, says Harvard sleep expert Dr Charles Czeisler.
I know from my own experience that sleep often comes last on an entrepreneur’s To Do list so this is a bit of a case of don’t do what I do, do what I tell you! I think all of us recognise that there are times in business when you need to work flat out – but the key to surviving is making sure that those times when you go short of sleep are intermittent and kept to a minimum.
The first crunch point with sleep for entrepreneurs inevitably comes early on in your journey – when you get the green light for start-up. Launching the first Cash Converters franchise in Paarl was like boot camp for me.
Doubling up in this case, though, meant working twice as long as normal working hours. There were even some all-nighters when I needed to unravel particularly knotty problems.
But I was lucky in one really important way. I had great family support – in fact, I moved back in with my mom and dad for a while during the launch phase. That meant they made sure I was fed, watered and wearing clean clothes. They understood what I was doing and why and didn’t mutter about me “treating the place like a hotel”.
Having that kind of buy-in from your family and life partner is essential to counter-attack the devastation that long working hours and very little sleep can wreak on your world.
But for everybody’s sake – especially yours and your health – you have to make sure these intense, low-sleep phases are limited.
Sort the support
That means ensuring your staff are well suited to their tasks, performing them well and receiving good training when systems or products are updated.
It also means setting up reliable business support structures to carry some of the day-to-day load of running ordering, despatch, financial and IT systems.
And it means, as well, having good consultants to contact when your computers go into meltdown after deciding that they can’t cope with an unexpected systems conflict, when SARS is sending you mysterious tax-related queries or when you’re battling to get your imported goods cleared at the docks.
These kinds of challenges are an inevitable part of doing business. To be agile in responding to them, you need to make sure that you’re waking up refreshed and alert to face your day by keeping yourself well-tuned mentally and physically.
Be night wise
Everybody needs different amounts of sleep so monitor yours for a couple of weeks. Pinpoint which days you wake up feeling your best and how long you had slept the night before. Many smart watches now track this for you.
Give yourself a double dividend from a regular exercise routine, too. This makes you better able to respond to stress in a balanced way and ensures you sleep more effectively at night as well.
Finally, give yourself a sleep gift and do not use your bed as an office. Turn away from your gadgets and screens at least 30 minutes and preferably two to three hours before you settle down to sleep. The blue light they emit affects the circadian rhythms that control our sleep patterns – and has even been used to reset astronauts’ body clocks for night-time missions!
Choose to sleep well and know that you are investing in the health of your business in the process.
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