Colleen Hannegan

Finding the words....and the perfect pair of glasses.

Spirited Work

Do your employees like working here?

Featured, Spirited WorkColleen HanneganComment

You certainly hope so don’t you! Or maybe you’d be pleased to have their respect and not worry whether they like you or not.

The most valuable possession as a business owner is having employees who LOVE working for you. Next best thing is they LIKE working for you ALOT. Your staff each carry an integral part of the success or failure of your business because of the management style and care you offer them. Are you tuned in to how they feel about working for you? Have you asked each one if they are satisfied with their responsibilities, the management you provide and the total work environment they step into each day?

In his book PEAK, Chip Conley, founder and CEO of Joie de Vivre Hospitality mentions examples of enlightened companies that are optimizing their relationships with employees while simultaneously generating amazing financial success. To best understand the needs and working conditions of his hotel cleaning staff, Chip spent time making beds and cleaning toilets alongside his staff, listening and watching how best to not only insure rooms were meticulously cared for but to connect with all his employees by understanding their daily job needs. He wanted them to know he recognised their work and valued their contribution. And clean beds and clean toilets (and happy staff) was as important to the success of his company as his ace marketing plans and securing million dollar investors.  Chip took his struggling company from the, post-9/11 economy and grew it into the second largest boutique hotelier in the world.

In his chapter Karmic Capitalism, he offers examples of “The Pursuit of Happiness at Work.” Remember our Declaration of Independence? “Thomas Jefferson and our founding fathers rephrased English philosopher John Locke’s dictum of “life, liberty, and property” to something that was a little more karmic. They chose pursuit of happiness to cap their mission statement.”

You can do the same for your company.

If you surrender the fear that keeps you from allowing employees to contribute their ideas. Because what if their idea is better than yours? Or what if they bring attention to a system that is not working before you noticed?

Than you have chosen your employees well.

Why are employees grumbling so often? I’ve listened to employees describe their boss as a “control freak” or someone who hears what you say but doesn’t listen and never remembers to see to requests and needs.

Chip cites examples of other management success. In his book, Joy at Work, Dennis Bakke says most companies haven’t evolved from the industrial mentality of management. He eliminated the stagnant job description and reorganised his company into autonomous teams that were given “unprecedented decision-making flexibility”. Leaders showed trust in the choices their people made and created familylike groups to improve moral and team work throughout the company.

In the Seven-Day Weekend, written by Ricardo Semlar of Semco, based in Brazil shares his management philosophy of questioning all the old paradigms in running a corporation. Semco employees are able to choose their own salaries, set their own hours, and have no job titles. Wow. There’s a radical example of trust in the  potential of capable and motivated employees. No wonder his management practices are considered the most radical in the world. He has grown his company to close to $250 million in annual sales and has almost no employee turnover.

While these large companies may have indeed some radical strategies for assuring employee happiness, they are a good example of creating conscious ideas to insure your staff is motivated, connected and dedicated to being the reason your company succeeds.

Talk to your staff. Think more like a family. Offer opportunities and ideas that encourage their vital contribution.

More important than marketing. More important than one more boring employee meeting. More important than an outdated and uninspired employee manual.

Consider the nature of your employees. Life. Liberty. Their hot pursuit of Happiness. Write that at the top of your new and improved, conscious employee manual.

Them ask them what would make them happy.


Write it down.


“What if” Doomsday or Possibilities?

Featured, Spirited Work, FearlessnessColleen HanneganComment

In working with business people, both management and those they manage, I’m discovering so much of the overwhelm is based on “what if”. Hidden within the what if, is the fear of the unknown.

And isn’t fear all about the unknown, what might happen if I don’t make it into work today? What will my bosses think if I don’t agree with them? What will my employees decide about me when they learn I’ve made a mistake? What if this business doesn’t  survive and I lose the money I’ve invested? What will my family think of me?

BFO (Big freak outs).

I have been attuned to the concept of fear at many various stages  of my life. It can keep you wide awake at night and make you eat too much or not enough, wondering what if?

But when I sit down with clients and listen to their fear story, the very act of talking it over with an experienced advisor dissolves most of the shortness of breath that carrying it all by themselves creates. Looking at the NOW truth, what is really happening right at this very moment reality, puts a positive pause on the panic button of the “what if” bomb.

“What if’”s are more effective when we seek enlightenment for ideas instead of options for catastrophes.

“What if we gave client’s more than what they expect?”, is more productive than, “What if we don’t get that contract signed by Friday noon????”

Fear is not real. It’s a thought, a feeling. It doesn’t show up anywhere except your thoughts. And we know the overwhelm that builds condo’s in there!

David Whyte, one of my favorite poets and teachers said in his seminar I attended in January, “You don’t have to overcome your fears, you simply have to know what you are afraid of.”

Knowing you are afraid of the dark, you reach for the light switch.  Allowing what is, to just be, opens the space for you to make good and right decisions based on a calm and clear mind, not one overwhelmed and stuck in a pretend world of maybe. True leaders and valuable employees open the door to fear and the windows too when it arrives and lets it pass right through. Fear is an invitation to recognize uncertainty and create a plan of action (sometimes non-action) that can break down the perceived hugeness of the problem into more easily managed pieces.

“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.” Pema Chodron

My sister Molly is an ultra runner She deals with fear when she stands at the START line at her 50, 100 and 135 mile non-stop ultra-races in the high altitude Himalayas, during flash floods in the Sahara desert stage race, storms so strong the rescuers called off the finish of a race in the “rocky mountains” of New Zealand. She was in Utah preparing for a 50 mile race last weekend and we had a wonderful conversation about fear.

“I’ve learned to be comfortable with fear.” she explained. “I’m able to put my mind into a higher plane of problem solving. I become more aware and alert.  I also prepare well for my adventure but there’s always the element of surprise and danger.” I’ve known my sister for over 56 years. Her adventures in being fearless began 6 years ago.

“My ultimate freedom is feeling my personal power beyond comfort.” Like the time she was lost in the dark at midnight during a 100 mile race and had to call out for help until another runner came to her rescue. Molly runs into her fear literally, and then just keeps on running right through it. She’s  made friends with it.

I’m not suggesting we become ultra-runners to fight fear and embrace courage. Sometimes I have to dig deep for my fearlessness when the line in front of me at the grocery store is stalled over too many coupons being scanned and my hypoglycemic is kicking in because I skipped a meal and I feel like showing my frustration by griping.

Michael Carroll, author of Fearless at Work says that often times the biggest act of courage is to be still. If just for a few moments. To face it and let it be.

Dealing with an upset superior or facing the boredom that can be a day in the office requires a calmness from deep within. To be fearless is to step closer to the truth as Pema Chodron suggests, to run through it like Molly does or to stand calmly in line and just be with it.

As soon as I relax into it, the last coupon gets scanned and the line moves forward.

Happens every time.

Enjoy this clip from Michael Carroll from his timely book on addressing fear in the work place,Fearless At Work.

I’m enjoying his workshop this week on the subject.

I read Forbes but I don’t care

Featured, Spirited WorkColleen HanneganComment

The recent March 2013 issue of Forbes cover informs us that there are 1,426 people who control the world. They are billionaires. Their combined  net worth is 5.4 trillion dollars. Give or take a billion. Now what does this mean to you and me, small business owners happy to cover expenses and put some money in our savings account each month? Nothing, really.  I find it interesting reading to get a feel of the work pulse on where we spend our money and how the finances of the world shape our ideas, dreams and vision.

But the idea that less than 1,450 people control the daily lives and choices of 7+billion people had me thinking about my own life. And your life. Who is in control? What choices are ours alone that determine the quality of our lives and of our loved ones and not determined by 1,426 strangers from across the globe?

As an independent business owner, or entrepreneur if you prefer, our daily waking goal is to maintain our lives controlled by no one but ourselves. Yes, I understand how we have no choice about gas prices to fill our tanks, other than choosing the gas station closest to our home or to drive over to Costco to say $1.75 a tank. Someone, a BIG someone is controlling gas prices. But we can control where we buy gas and how well  we organize our trips in the car.

Home prices, mortgage rates, rents, leases, price of pork bellies; in the hands of someone else. BIG someone else’s.  Yes, THEY control that.

But in my life and  in you life, dear small business owners, your world’s daily choices in creating your own plans, productivity and profits lie within your own power. The richest people on earth are not all listed in Forbes issue this month. Even if Forbes says they are.

The richest people on earth are the people who follow their dreams, love easily and find purpose in all they put their hands to.

I live in a world of the brave, the talented and the creative breed of small business owners who face each day believing in the bigness of their heart and the unlimited riches of possibilities and purpose and watching it grow into beautiful realities they can deposit into the hearts and their bank accounts.

I don’t care about how many billionaires “control the world.” But I do care about the choices I make for myself today that control my world and make it the best place to live for me. And I care about your choices and that you are thinking smart and happy for your own net worth.

Be your own thrillionaire. Nothing stopping us there.

Or controlling us.

You’ve got 3 seconds! How are you making that first impression?

Featured, Spirited WorkColleen HanneganComment

Walking into most retail store these days, you are often greeted with “Hello.” It appears management is well aware of the need customers have for feeling welcomed and recognized when they enter. They could be sitting at home ordering those office supplies, two new blouses, running shoes and golf clubs on line, but instead have taken the time and  gas to drive through traffic, find a perfect parking spot, and walk themselves into the possibility of buying from you. Even if these potential buyers, are showrooming, comparing your prices to prices of your competition by phone, right in front of you; they are potential buyers if you know the 3 things they care about more than anything when it comes time to pulling out the plastic and cash. It begins before Hello.

As a small business owner, I understand the dark cloud of big competition that may hang over your head like a thunderhead waiting to drown your business progress. After running my own retail business for over 22 years, sometimes single handedly, I absolutely understand the worry. But this is what I know about customers and saw its’ results for myself, over and over again. And it’s how I beat the big competition, daily.

1. It begins before Hello.

Consider how your potential customer  first makes contact with you. Is it by phone? Are they checking over your website? Or have they decided to walk into your store and check you out in person? In the first three seconds of making contact, your customers subconscious mind has already signaled a positive or a negative message to their conscious mind. When they phoned the store, was their call answered within 3 rings, by a welcoming voice and message? Or were they promptly stuck on hold while three other callers vied for attention? Positive or negative, you’ve got 3 seconds.

Is your website up to date with current store hours and easy to find phone numbers and information. Would you feel welcomed by the appearance of your website introduction if you were a customer?  Step back and be objective or ask trusted friends and customers. Updating your site when necessary, is a sound investment and doesn’t have to be expensive.

BEFORE, they walk into your store, as they approach the entrance, does it invite them in? Is it swept of debris? Are your windows cleaned routinely? Are there fingerprints and smudges on the front door or is it wiped clean as needed? Is there a welcome sign? Is the entrance free of clutter and your hours of business are easy to read and replaced when worn? Is your front entry telling your potential customers they are expected and welcomed? Are they picking up “warm and fuzzies” before the door swings open or do they instantly feel  they may be just another inconvenience to you because they don’t feel welcomed. Because, dear hard working, small business owners, that is where you make your sales with your customers. In their heart, where they feel pleasure in purchasing your wares and services. Because you make them feel good within 3 seconds. You initiate trust. It’s safe to do business with the those who really care about how I feel.

2. Secondly; they want to be acknowledged.

“How can we help you?” becomes the invitation to explore how you are going to take care of them. “Can I help you?” Only leaves space for yes, or no. Invite them into the wonderful possibilities of doing business with you. Find out what they want and need. Show them you’re listening.

3. “May I know your name?”

“My name is  (you) and I can take care of you today” Ask permission to get to know them so you can start a conversation that’s worth both your time. A gentle hand on their shoulder or forearm melts resistance and offers a safe place to solve their problem. Dialog is a boring ping pong game of words bounced back and forth that have no feeling or desire. When you offer to have a “conversation” you open the space between the two of you to get to the heart of their need. “A conversation of equals……inside the intensity of creative originality,” so writes David Whyte in his book, “Crossing the Unknown Sea, Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity.”

Pay attention to their name. If you practice deep listening and repeat their name and use it throughout the sale, 8 out of 10 times you will have a new customer. There’s always the 2 that got away. But they make good practice and help sharpen your skill of listening.

Test out these principles next time it’s your turn to be a potential customer. Start paying attention to how your subconscious mind is making you feel and directing your choices. Where do you love to shop? Why? Where do you avoid having to walk in?

Understanding these 3 crucial needs of your customers can revolutionize those 3 seconds in your favor and chase that dark cloud of big competition away, forever.

You Have The Power To See Clearly

Featured, Spirited WorkColleen HanneganComment


How would your work day begin if you believed beyond a doubt, that YOU ruled your world? What thoughts would follow you through your meetings, decision making and personal choices if it was true for you? If every step you took and thought you had, was based on KNOWING you were guiding your business with confidence, clarity and control, how would you carry yourself, sit at your desk, welcome others into your office?

If you decided right at this very moment that you want to step out of any hazy confusion and unclear focus that may be hampering your business brilliance, you could begin to better rule your world by the end of the day. How do I begin, you ask? Let’s put a pause on action for a moment and consider stillness.


So often as business owners, our minds are running twenty feet ahead of us at all times. It’s a constant catch-up to our daily responsibilities while simultaneously trying to hold on to that great idea we had two minutes ago before the phone started ringing, an employee appears with a problem looking for immediate solutions and  a client just walked through the door. In the center of that moment there is the calm of stillness, that if you  practice holding onto, will calm your nerves, and help you see yourself standing in the center of the storm, where stillness exists. It is the pause at the end of each breath, the rest at the end of each heart beat. I call it the non-action response to action. In the pause, you make right decisions.

You have the ability to rule your world and see clearly when the center of you is calm. Only when you possess the inner calm of a well-trained “Warrior of Well-being”™, can you possess a keen awareness of the immediate needs of those in your charge. You RULE your world with confidence when you hold your steadfast authority as a source of peace and purpose, rather than worry and confusion.  YOU = center of storm. Problems= storm!

Moment by moment clarity is all one can ask for and expect in the daily surprises that show up in your world; office/business and on-line. The positive results guaranteed through applying daily doses ofconfidence and clarity will produce the leadership control required of you to remain strong and profitable.

With daily wisdom and compassion, you’ll live in your world as a well-respected ruler no matter the chaos that may suddenly swirl all around you.

Consider your perspective as it applies to seeing your business through a calm and steady mind. Perspective is from the Latin meaning, “to see through”.  Your best business strategy can become a kind of “x-ray vision.” And wouldn’t that be a speedy advantage to solving problems?