Sunday, November 4, 2012

SKY Vision: How I found what I was looking for - and what's up with the pink feathers?

In October 2012, I found what I was looking for with SKY Magazine, a publication that is all about finding and celebrating entrepreneurial vision and living well in Saskatchewan.

SKY is about discovering the talented business people and the products and services they offer so that we can live well. Through SKY, I am able to help connect my clients to their customers.

So how does a former journalist turned corporate communicator, policy analyst, corporate planner, senior manager become the publisher of a magazine? And what's with the pink feathers?

The answer is really in the journey.   

For 20 years, my teachers were executives of corporations in complex structures and politics of various types, including small p politics between departments, and capital-p politics in government.

I traversed the corporate world, learning how to manage relationships, make friends, and influence people.  I even took the courses on how to win friends and influence people and leadership.

With the boardroom as my classroom, I became very good at understanding the body language of my CEOs as they managed these large structures. I knew what they needed to say, and what they needed to hear, and I gave them the words that would appease them, inform them and please them. 

I believed it was important work, and it was, relatively speaking. At one time, I believed the pinnacle of my career would be an executive position in a large corporation.  I reached that place, but the view wasn't what I thought it would be.

The corporate world is what I would describe as a brown duck culture.  People tend to move in linear progression, wear camouflage colors, well tailored suites, sensible  shoes and speak in the corporate language of mergers, convergers, goals and strategies. They have dialogue, where others would talk.  I learned the fine art of quacking in code and translating that code to the language of real people, but with style.

What made this possible is the fact that I was different.  I am the quintessential "Pink Flamingo in a Brown Duck Pond".  I like color, creativity, innovation, and the occasional flash mob dance.

Shoes are my passion, along with fashion, furniture, decorating, and writing about people who are inspiring, courageous and interesting.

I packed up my pink feathers and ventured into the world of private enterprise. 

In 2011, I made the decision to leave that brown duck world in search of a new world where creativity, entrepreneurial thinking and innovation would be the norm, not the exception. Where the business is the reason, and not the door to some political agenda.  Where goals are tangible and measurable on a daily basis.

I started a business - Lynear Thinking Strategy & Communications Ltd. -  to offer my 20 years of strategy and communication skills to private business owners, operators and entrepreneurs. My goal is to help them get somewhere - to help them find what they are looking for.

I learned that although I could manage the corporate world with ease, I knew nothing about the world of the entrepreneur, even though I was on the journey toward becoming an entrepreneur.

There are distinct differences between the corporate world and the business world.
  • In the corporate world, dollars and cents are really just indicators of success.  In the entrepreneur's world, dollars and cents are deal breakers.  
  • In the corporate world, the consequences of poor customer satisfaction are not directly and immediately linked to the bottom line.  In the entrepreneur's world, customer satisfaction is the bottom line because it is the difference between making the sale or not.  
  • In the corporate world, employee satisfaction and development are again distant indicators of a company's success or failure. In the private sector world, employee satisfaction and development have an immediate effect on the customer's buying decision.

My Principles of Business and Life. 

As I learned to navigate the new world of the entrepreneur, here are the lessons of my journey and my princples of business and life. 

1.  Invest wisely. 

Starting a business takes financial investment. The challenge is to maintain overhead at a manageable rate while investing where the money is needed.

2. Connect with people.  

Entrepreneurs tend to the chief cook and bottle washer, so we spend a lot of time alone.  That's not good. I had to find a community of people like me.  That was harder than it seemed. In my search for community, I have found people like me - people who left the corporate world in search of one that is more satisfying and personally meaningful. We can share our expertise and help each other.   

3. Feed your soul. 

I dedicated myself to the belief that if I was doing good things, good things would happen. So I got involved and offered my services - gratis - to community organizations doing good things. I believe that giving is good for the soul. It helps me to stay grounded with a solid sense of purpose. There are many upsides to helping non-profits besides money. The contacts and the relationships are excellent. The work of the non-profit tends to be higher profile and shows others what you can do. 

4. Be relentless.  

Relentlessness is also an important quality because it gets me through the days when I feel most lost. People are more likely to help those who help themselves. So on the days when I felt like it was futile and that I should just get another corporate job, I reminded myself of why I was on this path, and what I would give up by giving up.

6. Learn the business. 

I learned about pricing and proposals, when to fold and when to fight for it. Business is largely about communication, and publishing is a communication process. Over the course of my corporate career, every word that was published was approved by my clients. As the publisher of SKY, I will ensure my client's expectations are understood, that content is accurate and approved prior to printing and that all efforts are taken. The client's responsibility is to respond in a timely manner.  

7. Be worthy.  

Living and working this close to the entrepreneurial ledge, I see time and time again those who are successful show integrity, take care of business and treat their customers and employees with the utmost respect. Those that don't, are not successful. 

8. Create stars where ever you go. 

I treat my customers like they are gold, because they are to me.  I give them the best of me to help them to be successful and the stars they are.

9. Be courageous in living your dreams.  

SKY is about living dreams and I am doing my best to live mine. Being the publisher of SKY is dream that I have long since had since I graduated from the U of R School of Journalism.  I have another dream in the works.  In May, I signed a publishing contract and am looking forward to publishing my first book, "How to be a Pink Flamingo in a Brown Duck Pond", a book about standing up and standing out and living in one's true colors.  I am in the final stages of editing the book and working through the publishing process and marketing process.  My goal is to release the book in March 2013.

What I love about SKY is its endless potential. 

My life's quest has been about finding and celebrating potential.  I love a great visionary and the seeing beautiful things come to life.

SKY Magazine is all about unlimited potential, something I am passionate about.  That is why I am honoured to be its publisher and to carry forward the excellent leadership of Lorrie Ritter, who created and nurtured SKY for the past 5 years.

People ask me, what's next for SKY?  My answer is whatever is possible.  We will explore and find new ways to reach more and more people by holding true to the principles of business and life.

SKY Magazine is all about celebrating entrepreneurial vision and living well in Saskatchewan. SKY is about discovering the talented business people and the products and services they offer so that we can live well. Through SKY, I am able to help connect my clients to their customers, helping them to live in their unlimited potential.

The pages of SKY will be all about the good things in life - fashion, decorating, home and garden, health and wellness and the entrepreneurs to dare to live in the dreams. We will also be welcoming those who offer the much needed business services and financial advice that our readers are looking for in their lives.

My vision for SKY is to be the place where our readers and contributors will find what they are looking for.  This is the world that I set out to discover.  SKY is about finding the entrepreneurs who have a passion for living well so our readers can learn about them on the pages of SKY Magazine and be inspired.