I’ve been running my small business for 14 years. Every year, since I’ve been operating my social media marketing and content company, Quintessence Multimedia, I have invested in professional development courses for myself. One of the hallmarks of an exceptional leader is being a life-long learner. I’m a big fan of reading to grow your mind, but what else are you doing to grow? If the last time you found yourself in a classroom setting was 15 to 25 years ago, you might be what is holding back your small business. There are all types of personal and professional development you can pursue, such as signing up for a class at your local community college or attending a one-day seminar — or attending a conference to specifically learn a new skill. And don’t forget that leadership training can support your business, too.
When was the last time you attended your industry association’s annual conference? Whether you own a bowling alley, independent restaurant, or are a professional speaker, you have a professional association that holds an annual conference. I find that you can learn about the latest technology and trends affecting your industry at these specific conferences.
I’ve attended executive training programs at the Tuck School of Business, at Dartmouth College, Darden School of Business, at the University of Virginia, SBA’s E200 program, Leadership Inc. Philadelphia, Urban League Leadership Institute, Center for Women’s Business Research, Prudential Young Entrepreneurs Training Program, 8(a) Academy at Howard University, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Annual Small Business Summit, and the Shebang Conference, to name a few.
I’ve also attended annual conferences including The New York Times Small Business Summit, National Speakers Association, Black Enterprise Entrepreneur’s Conference, National Association of Women Business Owners, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, National Urban League, National Minority Supplier Development Council, National Association of Government Communicators, National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship, Essence’s Women of Power Conference, Inc Magazine’s Women’s Summit — and I could go on.
This summer, I decided to try something different. I attended a four-day conference in Chicago, IL called Lifebook, and it has changed my life. The conference was a cellphone free zone that forced me to have quality time with myself to think about what my ultimate life looked like. I make a target list of accomplishments every year, but I’ve never really sat down and examined the 12 quadrants of my life. All of us need to dig deep to figure out why we work so hard. I needed to figure out what I wanted for myself. My business is successful, Now what?
At Lifebook, we looked at my health & fitness life, my intellectual life, my character, my emotional life, my spiritual life, my love relationship, my parenting, my social life, my financial life, my career, my quality of life, and my ultimate life vision. We talked about, what we wanted and what we were going to do to have our ultimate life. Attending Lifebook was unlike any training conference I ever attended. We weren’t really talking about my small business, we talked about my life and how it serves my ultimate life vision. The two things that it uncovered most for me was how I needed to fix my relationship with my ex-husband in order to be a better parent. I decided to take ownership for my role in the demise of my marriage, which is a very vulnerable thing to do, but my life is already better since I did it. The other big challenge for me was getting serious about my health and fitness goals. Like a lot of women who’ve experience childbirth, I am no longer at my ideal weight. Now with the help of the Lifebook process, I have a sustainable plan to fix that. These are issues that I’ve struggled with for years and I now feel in control of — which feels like a miracle.
I’m so excited to share Lifebook with all of my readers. I have included a special link for anyone who wants to check it out. You need to start with their free online assessment. It will show you your current quality of life http://mylifebook.com/lb/sb.
Whether you attend Lifebook and any other conference, my whole point is that running a small business an evolutionary process. You must grow yourself to grow your business. Nothing makes me feel smarter than being in a room and hearing a speaker that makes me think differently about myself or my business. You should seek out opportunities to feel that way. Many of us think of our businesses and our personal ambitions in terms of goals. Try thinking of yourself in terms of growth. You’ll be less likely to feel like you have not achieved enough, even when you become wildly successful.
“Chopping Block” courtesy of Giovanni Sades / www.freedigitalphotos.net
Do you have any suggestions for training conferences to attend?