Mentors for Grown-Ups

As a society, we know about the importance of mentors for children. We want to surround kids with adults who can

provide guidance, serve as role models, and support their growth. We care about their teachers, coaches, tutors, and other adults who spend time with them. We build great teams of knowledgeable, skillful, and caring adults to support our kids.

For some reason, once that transition from childhood to adulthood takes place, we’re expected to have it all figured out. And we’re supposed to successfully navigate that figuring-it-out part solo. What we don’t do, but should, is be just as committed to involving mentors in adult lives—both personally and professionally.

Why You Need a Mentor: A good mentor has experience doing what you want to do and all that comes with it—the hiccups, the roadblocks, the dumpster fires, the accolades, and the achievements. That experience brings with it true empathy rather than platitudes about how it’s all going to be just fine, even if it may not.

She can fill the gap between education and experience, like reminding you that it’s fantastic to promote yourself but even better to make sure you spend a few minutes proofreading before sending that letter out about all the awards you won at your pubic high school (true story). She can “educate” you on what you don’t yet know that you don’t know yet.

A good mentor can open doors for you that otherwise wouldn’t only be locked, but also may be hidden behind a faux set of bookshelves (figuratively speaking, of course, unless fake shelving is your thing and then maybe literally too).

Perhaps most important, a good mentor will tell it like it is. Unlike someone who loves you or is too personally invested in your story, that mentor will give you the professional equivalent of “Yes, Karen. Those pants DO in fact make your butt look big.” And it may hurt. But it will be the kindest thing she could do for you—be real and honest and direct—all with your success in mind.

How to Find a Mentor: So how do you find this mythical creature who will want to help you succeed and invest her time and connect you to others and give the gift of truth? Well, even the most magical of mentors cannot (and should not) be the chief advisor to all the things in your life that perhaps might benefit from mentorship. You don’t have your electrician help with your meal planning, do you? (If you FIND that electrician, please share that phone number this instant.) The person who’s “right” to mentor you as you start a new company probably isn’t going to be the same person you’d seek out to take your business global. Your first priority, then, in finding a mentor is to have clarity about what specifically you’re hoping to do and then start your search with that in mind.

Do your homework. Who is out there who has successfully done that thing you want to do—lose weight, launch a successful business venture, start a nonprofit, adopt a child from a foreign country, (fill in whatever your goal is here)?

Start with your current village; you may be pleasantly surprised to see the experience and expertise that’s already right within your reach. Then expand further out. See who’s on the news or LinkedIn or at whatever industry events are in your field. Be as specific as possible. (For instance, I’d love help getting a book published but have zero intention of writing the next vampire love story. I’d search for successful writers/publishers in the comedic self-help space, if such a genre even exists.)

Once you’ve identified a list of movers and shakers whom you’d love to emulate, dig deeper still. Who on that list volunteers their time? What causes do they care about? What are their interests? What can you glean of their personality and work style? Remember that it’s not just about what they’ve gotten done—it’s about how they’ve done it too. One person’s successful journey isn’t necessarily the secret to your own, and the path they took to their destination matters too. It needs to align with how you operate in this world.

Put yourself out there. Be willing to be vulnerable. Unless you’re looking for help becoming a psychic, chances are pretty good that those potential mentors on your list aren’t tracking your need for a mentor. Open your mouth (or LinkedIn/email) and make the ask. Come up with some version of “You’re successfully doing what I’d love to be able to do and I’d be so grateful for your mentorship” that is authentic for you. Make sure your ask makes it clear that you’ve done that homework referenced above. And that you can share some value a mentoring relationship might bring to them (especially if you’re a meal-planning electrician). Make it clear that you know it will be work and that you’ve got the commitment and drive to put in the effort—in other words, time spent working with you will be a good investment.

Repeat this process again and again. You should always be on the lookout for relationships with others that help you grow. As you gain skills in one area, there will always be other places where you’d benefit from someone else’s expertise. And as you acquire your own expertise, you then have another responsibility that is also a gift. You get to be the mentor. You’ll know the personal satisfaction that can come from contributing to someone else’s growth and achievement. At the end of the day, if we’re doing this “life” thing well, we’re always both mentor and student at the same time. Because there’s always something to learn. And there’s always something to contribute.

2019-07-16T23:46:58+00:00August 12th, 2019|

Get Creative!

We joke that there’s nothing new under the sun. The same younger folks who mock the old-timers among us wear clothing lines recycled from times past and sing lyrics to songs we knew when we ourselves were children. So too, unless you’re an inventor, it is unlikely that your business provides a product or service that someone else, somewhere else, is not also marketing. The key, then, is in how you package or deliver whatever the product, service, or content is that you’re selling. And the great differentiator is creativity.

 

Paint a picture. Okay, maybe not literally (although a mural would be AWESOME). But use imagery to promote your work. People are visual by nature, and your images will get their attention far more easily than the best-worded content. Be sure you’re adding well-worded content for them to see once you’ve piqued their interest. Capture video of your team (or your team of one—just keeping it real in small business land) at work behind the scenes. Create an infographic of what you do, the pain point you solve, or the progress you’ve made. (We’re super proud of that growth in charitable giving).

 

Provide value. Sure, all business inherently should be about providing value to customers. But if you want to stand out, go the extra mile. Not everything you offer has to be about making a profit. Share your expertise. Be a resource for the people who trust you with their dollars and business. Like these great (free!) MILLIE Toolkits that can help guide you through a PCS from start to finish. Incidentally, giving away something that you’ve invested time and love in is good for business.

 

Be generous with your gratitude. You could simply put whatever you sell in a box and send it out in the mail. But everybody’s doing that. Be creative about how you show your love for the people who keep your business lights on (literally and figuratively). Send a handwritten thank-you note. Toss in a free product or coupon code. Showcase their work if you’re providing services to them. Give them a shout-out for their business (unless you’re selling something that requires some discretion, and then maybe don’t advertise how glad you are they’ve bought your incontinence products, for example.)

 

Create your own league of super fans. Super fans are people who are delighted with the products or services you offer. They’re your purpose as a business owner. They’re also your best marketing tool. Get their quotes and endorsements. Ask for those positive reviews that you can promote on your website and social media. Capture photos of people wearing/using your products in the most interesting/far-away/unusual places via a photo or video contest. Hold a “best caption” challenge. Make it “cool” (or at least remotely entertaining) to be someone who purchases what you’re selling.

 

Brag on yourself. Well, not in an unbecoming way, but if you can’t speak well of whatever you’re selling, making, or providing, then how do you expect other people to be excited about it? Want to see a great example of this? Check out Cape Henry Associates. They don’t just tell you what they do—they show you with engaging video. Put yourself out there to the extent that you’re comfortable and then a little bit more (because growth comes in the uncomfortable places). Allow yourself to be interviewed about what you do or sell. Provide content to sources beyond your website and social media properties.

 

Pick and choose from any or all of the above. Better yet, figure out how to add your own special spin to your efforts. And across it all, be authentically you. The most creative thing you can do is be yourself.

2019-06-17T20:05:44+00:00July 1st, 2019|

CEO SPOTLIGHT

The Creative CEO: Leslie Brians of Leslie Brians Designs

By: Rheanna Bernard

When Leslie Brians graduated from Texas A&M with a master’s in architecture, she married her spouse, who was in the military. She quickly realized that she would have to get creative with her career and that her degree would only get her so far in the crazy world of the Army. In her seven years as an Army spouse, she has worked in fashion, marketing, public affairs, and web design. The uniqueness of her life as a military spouse has created a perfect environment for creativeness and for Leslie to expand herself as an “artist” and as a professional in her fields. Creativeness is a key element to successful business. Even if you aren’t in a creative business, being creative can set you apart and keep you on the quest for growth. Leslie has done just that.

In 2016, Brians set out to create her own business, which she says was “the only natural next step in my professional career.” Leslie Brians Designs provides branding services to companies and nonprofits looking for an on-trend yet classic aesthetic for their online and print brands. Working from home, and for yourself, can be challenging, but Leslie fuels herself by feeding her creativity and challenging herself. “I love taking a simple idea and really turning it into something unique and beautiful,” she says. Brians acknowledges that it isn’t only her creativity she is fueling, but that of her clients as well. Her designs tell a story for each of the brands she works with. She says, “I make it my goal with each and every client to make sure their branding reflects the special story behind their business—the hard work and grit and dreams and finished product.”

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2019-06-30T21:08:34+00:00June 30th, 2019|

Did You Know?

Creativity breeds innovation, and innovation drives businesses to greater and greater things. Some of the greatest inventions happen when people are allowed to foster their creativity and think big.

Sometimes we all need a little nudge to get out of our comfort zones and think outside the box. Powerhouse can help jump-start your office spark. Check out our Career Resources page to find helpful ways to brainstorm or encourage team building. When we feel comfortable dreaming big and we have someone to bounce ideas off of, the sky’s the limit!

2019-06-30T21:09:00+00:00June 30th, 2019|

MARKETING BUZZ

Three Ways to Stay Creative on Social Media

By: Rheanna Bernard

With everyone posting all the time and social media changing almost daily, it’s hard to feel like you are keeping up with the Joneses. Staying creative when everyone is doing the same thing can make social media frustrating. When thinking of how to stay on top of things, it’s important to take into account your niche, your message, and your individual or company personality. Using those key elements, you can make your own social media unique and CREATIVE.

  1. Publish Instagram Stories. Instagram Stories are the easiest way to show your creativity. Getting out there and showing your face to your followers are the best ways to connect with them. Show who you (and/or your company) really is by talking about your goals, your mission, and your everyday life. Make your Stories eye-catching by utilizing GIFs and stickers. Include hashtags and geotags to draw in a new audience.
  2. Consider using Facebook or Instagram LIVE. Creating videos is a great way to include more creative content on your social media. If you provide a service or sell a product, create a LIVE experience for potential or current customers by showcasing how your product works or a providing a review of your product by an actual user. Another way to get creative with your video is to talk about a subject your clients might also be interested but that might be different than what you are offering. This is a great way to bring in new customers who might not already know about you. One of my favorite examples of this is the company Once a Month Meals. They offer a service of monthly freezer meal recipes and shopping lists to their customers. Several times a month, they put discussions of aspects related to cooking on a budget, cooking for families, and cooking freezer meals on Facebook LIVE. While these videos aren’t directly selling their product, they are offering helpful tips and advice to potential customers while also helping their existing clientele.

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2019-06-30T21:09:25+00:00June 30th, 2019|

BUSINESS ETIQUETTE

Three Things You Need to Know about Unleashing Creativity in the Business Setting

By: Julie Kirchner

In a competitive business landscape—as an executive, entrepreneur, or employee—the pressure to “be creative” can be high. Your capacity to get creative can make the difference between whether or not you stand out in the crowd, determine how many customers you can reach, or affect your ability to convey your message accurately and concisely. Creativity is something we often relate to intelligence, talent, and ability. It is regarded as a very desirable quality, both individually and within an organization.

  1. Your creative style may be rooted in your culture.

As it turns out, how we perceive and define “creativity” actually varies by culture. If your business has a diverse workforce, customer base, or international strategy, it pays to tune in to one rather simple nuance: Is your work “unique,” or is it “useful”?

Psychologist Letty Kwan’s research on the culture-and-creativity connection is summed up in an article in Psychology Today entitled “What Is the Relationship Between Creativity and Culture?”

According to the article, “A common definition of creativity is ‘something both novel and useful.’ In this context, ‘novel’ means original, unique, or innovative. ‘Useful’ means viable, practical, or aesthetically pleasing.”

As Kwan and her team point out, recent studies have emphasized that our cultural background, Eastern or Western, may influence which ideas or creative products are selected for continued development.

And along those lines, your ability to get excited about something—and therefore devote your creative energy—may depend simply upon whether you see it as practical or original (or both). (more…)

2019-06-30T21:09:50+00:00June 30th, 2019|

POWERHOUSE SERVICE & SUCCESS

Client Profile:

“I hired Powerhouse when I needed help with a large rebranding effort. I knew Powerhouse would come through on time and on budget, and I wasn’t disappointed! I love working with confident, positive, action-oriented team members, which is exactly what Jess has assembled. Plus, I fully support the mission of Powerhouse to create employment opportunities for military spouses. What better way to give back to those who give so much other than to provide mobile careers they can pick up and move wherever the military sends them?”

-Rissa Reddan, Senior Vice President of Marketing, PayNet, Inc.

2019-06-30T21:10:14+00:00June 30th, 2019|

BUSINESS RESOURCES

Fostering Creativity in the Workplace

Fostering creativity in the workplace can be challenging. You want to maintain a professional atmosphere, but sometimes that very feeling can, well, feel stifling. Studies show that employees who are empowered to express their creativity work better and create more innovative work products. Here are three sites to help you get started with increasing the creativity in your workplace.

StartupNation’s Catherine Plano discusses why and how creativity is so important on the workplace. As she says, “creativity is a mindset.” As we all know, creativity can’t be forced, but it can be fostered. Check out what Plano has to say and get inspired to get creative!

Filestage gives you 29 tips on how to increase creativity at work. These tips all come from award-winning companies and range from getting outside opinions on our ideas to finding ways to diversify your team. These 29 tips will get your creative juices flowing and give you practical ways to implement a creativity plan for your office.

For those who work in a virtual workforce, it can be difficult to feel a sense of belonging. The isolation that many virtual employees feel can also stifle creativity. Museum Hack’s Jesse Sussman provides ideas for creatively building a team spirit and ways to help your virtual employees bond. Some are fun, some are goofy, and some might even prove nostalgic!

2019-06-30T21:10:42+00:00June 30th, 2019|

GIVING BACK & GETTING INVOLVED

Find Your Passion: Danielle Jackson

By: Julie Kirchner

When Danielle Jackson started her photography business five years ago, she could never have predicted where her passion for photography—and people—would be taking her one day. This summer, Danielle is going on her first-ever mission trip to Uganda with Show Mercy International. We caught up with this busy entrepreneur, wife, mother of two teenage daughters, and soon-to-be missionary to find out what inspires her.

“People have always been my thing. I just love people. I majored in sociology, which is ridiculous…don’t ever let your child get a degree in people. That is not a ‘job,’” Danielle shares straightforwardly, with a kind of knowing chuckle in her voice. “BUT, truly, what is behind all of it—the photography, the fundraisers, all the things I do—it’s the people. It’s my love for people that gets me there.” This is evident in the way that Danielle goes about her business as well as her philanthropy.

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2019-06-30T21:11:06+00:00June 30th, 2019|

Spotlight on Powerhouse’s Amanda Higgs

Here at Powerhouse we are blessed with a wealth of talent, which is why we love to showcase some of our amazing members from time to time. This time, we’re shining a spotlight on a true “Powerhouse,” Amanda Higgs. Amanda is an incredible video producer who edits our clients’ videos. She takes their ideas and brings them to life by doing everything from creating storyboards to helping our clients figure out how best to feature themselves and their products. She delivers top-notch, quality videos every time.

Amanda has had the privilege of working with some of our favorite clients (okay, okay, they’re all our favorites. I mean have you checked out whom we’ve been partnering with lately? Could you choose a favorite?). In the past she’s worked with Cape Henry Associates, Jacey Eckhart, and HPI. Currently, she’s working with MILLIE to edit social media videos to help them best serve the military community. Amanda has been a Powerhouse video producer for two years, and we really can’t imagine how we functioned without her.

She loves the flexibility her career with Powerhouse brings, both in terms of her position and her ability to flex her creative side. It’s very true that a career with Powerhouse will challenge you to stretch your imagination on what you can do. The success of such creative endeavors is a product of trust and expertise on both sides. At Powerhouse we listen to our team members’ opinions because we trust that they will bring us ideas beyond our wildest dreams, and the fact that we foster such a trust means that our members feel safe to reach for the impossible. We’re pretty sure it’s a win-win. Amanda even told us that working for Powerhouse is her dream job. Well, the fact that she can report to work in her pj’s probably doesn’t hurt!

Amanda is proud to have served 11 years as a military spouse. Her husband retired as an Air Force Master Sergeant after a 21-year career. They have two boys: Ben, who is in sixth grade, and Jake, who is in fourth grade. She and her husband love spending time with them and their rescue dog, Lucky Ducky Applesauce Higgs. We’ll save you the time—Amanda doesn’t know how Lucky came by her name any more than we do. Still, we’re kind of in love with it.

Our intrepid video producer is as optimistic as they come and is truly one of the most resourceful, creative, dependable, and kind people we know. Her philosophy is to leave the world better than she found it, which is sort of our philosophy too, so it’s no wonder we’re happy Amanda is at Powerhouse. It’s not too much to say that Amanda loves her coffee (she only mentioned it a few times), but she also loves reading and watching movie adaptations of the books she reads. Spoiler alert: The book is always better, in her opinion. She also loves to cook, though she does admit that her smoke detector is her biggest fan. We’ll trust her on that one.

Amanda is always looking for ways to learn new techniques and gain new perspective in her work life. She hopes to be with Powerhouse for a long time because Powerhouse allows her the opportunity to constantly discover and grow. She wants to be a part of Powerhouse growing its clientele and contractor base. Even more, though, she wants to be a part of a company that gives so much back to the greater community. As she says, “Powerhouse gives back more than any other company I know.” She’s looking forward to watching, and participating in, Powerhouse growing its “Share the Goodness” campaign. We agree.

So we asked Amanda as a parting question what fun facts we should know about her. She shared that she and her son share the same birthday. She can touch her tongue with her nose (you just tried to do the same, admit it). Also, she’s terrified of frogs and dentists. Fair enough. Of course, she also added that she’s always up for coffee, but we already knew that. Check out some of our clients’ video posts. Amanda and her coffee may have had a hand in producing them.

2019-05-23T19:13:48+00:00June 12th, 2019|