Be A Spider (4 Wise Moves for Entrepreneurs)

This blog post sponsored in part by the yummy food, great service and free Wifi at Gilbert’s on 17th Street Grill

Even though I’m a writer and creative consultant, I’m a scientist at heart. Most of my work comes from the revelations I have while studying nature and physics.

By David Maiolo (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By David Maiolo [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

On a walk the other day, I saw a huge banana spider suspended between a tree and a building. There was evidence in its web that it had already eaten a few creatures, and it was busy rebuilding the holes that were left.

On another tree close by sat an iguana.

Well, I thought, the iguana will have a healthy dinner.

But then I looked at the spider in the web again and realized I was wrong. There were four things that the spider had going for it that every risk-averse entrepreneur could learn.

1. Make your way by your strength.

Most spiders eat what they catch in their web. Others build traps and eat what gets caught there. Here’s the key: What they build sustains them. The most successful entrepreneurs aren’t selling someone else’s products. Build on the things that sustain you.

2. Know what is your bread and butter.

Spiders eat insects. So they build their webs where insects are: flying between trees, or in dusty corners of your house. Spiders test their success by what they catch—so even if a spider mistakenly builds a web across your doorway, once you walk through it, you’ll never see that spider web there again. If you’re not catching anything where you are, move.

3. Take a calculated risk.

Contrary to Spiderman’s web-slinging in the comics, spiders don’t shoot silk out to build webs across a space. They fling themselves out there, spinning silk behind themselves during flight. Even baby spiders build tiny little parachutes in a process called ballooning (aww) after they hatch and fling themselves into the wind to find new homes. They do that so that they can test the viability of the places they attach their web to. You can’t judge your market or your products with theory. You’ve got to get out there. One of the first things I tell my clients to do is look at what’s already working— but to use that to push themselves deeper into their market. I talk about that on my TEDxTalk here.

4. Stay on the Web.

The spider’s best strength is on the web. Its food gets caught there. It has a great vantage point on its environment. And the spider’s legs are so sensitive to it that any movement on the web alerts the spider immediately. That iguana would have to leap off of the tree in order to catch the spider… unless the spider comes off the web. Once you’ve found the work you are good at, get better at it. Use the gifts and strengths you’ve been given to protect yourself.

And here’s a bonus tip!

5. Have faith in the world around you.

Spiders that are ballooning were at first thought to plan their trajectory. After many years of research, scientists concluded that they don’t really have a plan. They just know they need to move, and move farther than they can jump. When you understand who you are, and what your strengths are, don’t be afraid to jump into the world. Wherever you land, you’ll bring all of that with you.

Be a spider. Just don’t get caught in my hair.

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Bullying — A New Perspective

I was asked to speak to a group of teen and tween girls about Bullying.

It’s a touchy subject, and it’s more and more pervasive– especially as snarky comments on reality TV get more popular. People “do it for the Vine” and don’t care about the aftermath of hurt feelings.

Sometimes, it’s just that someone isn’t doing what you need them to do, and instead of dealing with it, we bully them to get what we want.

Hurt people hurt others. I was challenged with how to help little girls understand that their hurt feelings don’t have to lead to hurting others even though how they feel affects their whole world.

Bullying stops with you.

Bullying stops with you.

I gave them some powerful tools, and a new perspective. The tools you can find here.

Please share the link with anyone who you think can use them.

The Leadership Killer

I write on leadership because it’s my assertion that anyone can learn the skills to become a leader for a good cause. Not everyone is built for the task.

tombstone

Here lies leadership. Source: Columbia.edu

I design events and experiences for all kinds of audiences. I’ve spoken in front of and facilitated experiences for professionals, youth, government officials, private clients and the general public.

I have a sixth sense for group energy. I also have two certifications in adult and youth curriculum design and a degree in dramatic arts. So I can always sense the moment a speaker is losing the crowd, or leading them to a higher place.

Here is the thing killing your potential for leadership.

You’re not listening.

Really. I bet you think you’re listening.

You probably have a great cause. There’s something tremendously important that has to get done. You have a great vision and people have bought into it.

Now, some of those people are giving you feedback.

1) They have questions.

2) They disagree with you.

3) They may have been distracted and didn’t hear what you said.

All of that is feedback. If you push ahead and don’t address every one of those concerns, your leadership begins a slow death.

Or spirals down out of the sky like a kamikaze-driven plane.

People need to trust you. They need to know you’re paying attention to them. Even the dissenters. If you don’t address everyone, you’ll lose them ALL in some way or another.

How do you handle those three types of people giving you feedback?

I’ll discuss that in this post. For now, ask some questions. Tell me about the leaders you admire, and even the ones who you believe shouldn’t be leading. If you’re thinking of stepping into a new position, what’s your concern? Leave a comment, or share your insights.

 

Chasing planes: Why Your Dream Hasn’t Gotten Off the Ground

I pass an airport on a regular basis.

I love watching the planes take off. My mother traveled constantly when I was growing up (many times taking me with her), and there was always a sense of adventure and possibility when we went to the airport.

I got my first passport at 5, and when I was 6, I got my Pan Am wings because I flew by myself for the first time.

Junior Clipper Wings

Junior Clipper Wings

In my mind, I was pretty much a superstar. I love flying.

That was until recently.

A few years ago, my mother had the opportunity to learn the ins and the outs of aerodynamics. She loves flying too, and told me about the power that is necessary to get a plane off the ground.

“Did you know that it weighs 100 tons, EMPTY??” she said, even more enamored with the miracle of modern transportation.

Wow, I thought, Cool!!

Then I got older.

Life does something funny to you as you experience more things.

You lose your sense of wonder and awe. You know how things are done, and the miracle of how things work together is sometimes lost. I didn’t realize that until I got on a plane recently.

I had a panic attack.

I’ve been flying since I was in my mother’s arms. What the…?

It happened again and again. I am a pretty reasonable person with a strong belief system, and that’s what got me through it.

Finally, after some deep reflection, I realized the fear wrapped around knowing just how much weight was coming off the ground. And just how much could go horribly wrong. That’s the stuff that stops us.

Yes, things can go horribly wrong when you throw everything into what you’re passionate about. Things go horribly wrong when you live a mediocre life too.

The most dangerous times during a flight are take-off and landing. That’s when the plane is the least aerodynamic. And so the pilot stores the wheels as soon as they clear the runway.

We take a step forward and we keep our wheels down, waiting for the right reason to hit the ground again.

That’s the real reason you haven’t gotten off the ground. You’ve got to give up your wheels for your wings.

It will be bumpy when you start off. Get over it, and get off the ground.

Give up your wheels for your wings. The world is waiting for you.

Credit: HD Wallpaper

Credit: HD Wallpaper