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Build Something That Lasts

Posted October 18, 2012 by Kelley Long in On the Ladder

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Margaret Stender, President and CEO of the Chicago Sky WNBA team. A true champion for women, Margaret inspired us all when she shared her six essential steps to building something that lasts, whether it’s a business, a career, or just a happy, fulfilling life.

First you need to ask yourself, “What is it that I am building?” (your vision) and, “How do I want to behave?” (your values).

Defining Your Vision: Take the time to really lay out what it is that you’re trying to achieve. What do you want it to look like? Think long-term – in ten years, how will it look? Are you still passionate about it? You also must determine if it’s relevant; is your vision something that you can differentiate? If so, then start figuring out how to get there.

Living Your Values (or the “How”): Know your personal values, then write them down and reflect upon them often. (I keep my list pinned at eye level behind my computer). Make sure that the work you’re doing embodies those values and measure them against what you’re building to set yourself up to thrive.

Building Key Strategies: Once you have your vision and your values, it’s time to lay out the strategies that will get you there. Don’t choose too many to start out with — pick the top five and keep them short-term in nature. Having these in place will help you filter out the urgent but not important things that suck our energy.

Selecting the Right Team: Don’t compromise in your efforts to find the right people to join your team. As you’re deciding who to surround yourself with, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Know the skills and expertise that you require for each role. This is critical.
  • Seek out people who are hungry and who have a work ethic. All the skills in the world won’t get you there if they are possessed by someone who doesn’t give a damn. You can’t coach desire.
  • Find a good mix of experienced people and rookies, and foster an environment of mutual respect. Sometimes you need naiveté to reach the next level, but experience can temper the big risks.

Communicating Effectively: Career Girls are especially talented at communicating, but for some reason when we start working on something, we become task-oriented and forget to communicate. Ways to remedy this include:

  • Clarifying the roles and responsibilities of your team members
  • Encouraging different points of view
  • Listening to debate
  • Maintaining confidence in where you’re going

We are so good at this in our personal lives — don’t put it away in business. Let this natural talent shine!

Setting Up a Constant Feedback Loop: Build in systems to continuously solicit feedback on things that matter. Then get comfortable adjusting on the fly based on what you hear.

The thread that ties all of this together? Passion. It’s not worth it if you don’t have passion.

To me, the crux of all of this is in the first two steps – having a vision and making sure it fits your values. It’s not too early to start on your vision for 2013, Career Girls! Absorb this wisdom and start thinking now about how you will finish this sentence: This is the year to…

About the Author

Kelley Long

Kelley Long is a CPA/PFS and CFP® who believes that the true meaning of financial security means having choices in life. She uses her 15 years of experience in various financial services industry jobs to inform her work as a Resident Financial Planner for Financial Finesse, providing unbiased financial guidance through workplace financial wellness programs. She’s also a volunteer and media ambassador for Feed the Pig and 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy. In Kelley’s perfect world, everyone would feel great talking about their money concerns, fears, questions and problems, because then everyone would see that we ALL have those concerns, fears, questions and problems. Kelley lives in Chicago with her husband and their Himalayan cat Miles, where she also teaches BODYPUMP group fitness classes at the Chicago Athletic Clubs.