Send us your thoughts! October's theme is women and trees. Send us your haiku about women and trees to firstname.lastname@example.org by Sept. 10, 2013.
November's theme is "giving and receiving." What have you learned about receiving something you didn't think your wanted? Tell us in 150 words or less. Send YourThoughts to email@example.com by Oct. 10, 2013.
Each month we ask our readers to respond to a question. For September 2013 we asked: What life lessons have you learned from the business world?
Time out Bright, eager and fresh from the carrot/stick educational environment of my youth, during my first years in business I fell for the allure of stellar performance reviews, promotions and raises. In pursuit of those juicy external rewards, my career became my god and I thought this success would bring me happiness. Gratefully, my psyche intervened and hollered, "Halt!"
My sabbatical lasted two years. During my time off, I did some exploratory interviews. I felt like I should go to grad school, but I really wanted to backpack around the world. Gratefully, one of the leaders I met with said he'd be more likely to meet with the candidate whose resume said "backpacked around the world" than the one with the graduate degree. And so I learned the value of taking time off to travel.
Barb Ryan, Minneapolis
A strong reputation Since 1989, I've scratched through many economic downturns that have affected all of us who own businesses. Certainly, delivering value and adapting to a changing business climate have played roles in meeting those challenges. And, particularly as a woman, solid contacts, networks and relationships have been critical in learning about new opportunities and opening doors.
But the most important reason for success is reputation. Reputation is built through trust, honesty, fairness and treating others respectfully. Always.
At the end of my career, I want to be remembered for my reputation. It takes a lifetime to earn and a moment to lose.
Gail Shore, Edina
Editor's Note: Shore is celebrating the 25th year of operating her public relations firm, Shore to Shore Communications. She is also the founder of Cultural Jambalaya.
Spell-check! It's extremely important to spell-check everything that goes out, whether it's an email, brochure, letter or even business card. Even if you are convinced there aren't any errors, ask someone else to look it over. It's a reflection of the company you work for if something is spelled incorrectly.
My biggest save was a fellow employee's letter to an important client; at the end of his letter, he signed it: "We apricot your business." Of course, you know how this happened; he had it incorrectly spelled, used spell-check and the closest word it could find was 'apricot.' We all had a good laugh, but to this day I use this blunder as an example of what can make or break a business deal.
Dawn Huberty, Maplewood
Editor's Note: Huberty is the founder of WIRED4LIFE.
Find work that you enjoy My grandma never passed down a family recipe or taught me how to sew. Instead I learned a recipe for business success.
My grandma took over my grandfather's financial advising business after he died in 1951. While many people wanted to help her after her husband died, she lost clients because there were people who didn't want a woman as a financial adviser. Despite a rocky start, she was later honored as a leader in business in her community.
I remember that she loved her work and was passionate about helping people with their finances. She worked with her company until the end of her life and left behind a business that still serves her community today.
I learned many financial lessons at the feet of my grandmother. One lesson that stuck with me was the importance of finding work that you truly enjoy.
Carrie Monroe, Minneapolis
Commitment, tenacity and fun I've learned two important things over the years of being in business for myself. One is to never ever give up - ever. If I'm committed to something and know it's a right fit for me, then I keep focused on my commitment. It will either come to light or something better will show up. Sometimes this level of tenacity requires a risk in terms of energy, time and/or money, but without going "all in" I would never know what might have been. It doesn't mean all of my ideas have panned out beautifully, but I can say I tried with all my heart.
Another important element for me as a business owner is that I must be having fun. This doesn't mean that every single thing I do is exhilarating and filled with delight. It does mean, however, that my vision is never eclipsed by annoying but necessary tasks.
Carole J. Hyder, Minneapolis
Editor's Note: Hyder is a Feng Shui consultant.