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The Encore Entrepreneur



In Part 2 of our Values Series, we share examples of how you can use your values as a powerful decision filter in your business and in your life.

When you have a strong connection to your values, you're able to check in with them when making important decisions. Doing this allows you to move forward in integrity ensuring that you won't end up out of alignment with what's most important to you.

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Episode Transcript:

[01:07] Deirdre Harter: Hi, ladies. Deirdre here. 

[01:10] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Hey, hey, Carmen here. If you haven't met us yet, I'm Carmen Reed. Gilkeson. I'm an online business manager and Whole Person Certified Coach with over 25 years of marketing experience. 

My business partner here is Deirdre Harder, a CPA with over 20 years of experience auditing and advising businesses of all sizes on how to build sustainable profitability in their companies. 

Together, we are business strategists and the co-founders of Encore Empire, where we teach our clients the business of business. Through our high-touch, year-long coaching programs.

We customize everything to fit your unique needs. Just as no two people are the same, no two businesses are the same. Therefore, we don't believe in making our clients fit into cookie-cutter frameworks. 

If you're ready to find out how far you can go by getting the guidance you need inside your business, head over to encoreempire.com/success.

[02:09] Deirdre Harter: Today is part two of a five-part series on values that we're hosting. Last week, in part one of this values series, we talked about how Carmen and I went through a values exercise both personally and then for our business, Encore Empire. We have made this exercise available for you to use, and we encourage you to grab your copy by going to vip.encoreempire.com/values

If you missed part one, we encourage you to go back and listen to that episode on the podcast or inside the guides here in the Empire of Unstoppable Women Facebook Group. We chose certain words to represent our most important values. Now, we all have lots and lots of different values, but it's really hard to pay attention to and incorporate 25 different values, right? So we just kind of narrowed those down to really hit the top priorities for us. And if you've gone through this exercise or if you heard us last week, you know that these values were represented by a word. Well, what's in a word?

This values exercise is about choosing the word that best resonates with you. But what does that word mean to you? Now, every word on the list that we provide can mean something different to different people. We're all unique, and we want you to take the words you choose and write out a description of what each value means to you. 

This is really important because a lot of times, we choose our word for the year and our word for the month. And so we pick these words out because they mean something to us. And, internally, we have a sense of what they mean to us. But there's a huge benefit to really stopping and taking the time to write out what that means to you. And I'm going to give you an example. When you hear the word success, what does that mean to you? Well, it can mean a whole lot of things, right? And it's really about the perspective, the application of it—success in what? 

And we can come up with all kinds of things that success means to us, whether it's in our business or it's in our personal life. And the same thing can happen with the value. 

So last week I talked about one of my number one values being freedom. Well, freedom can mean not just different things to different people, but it can mean different things for me. Freedom, what does that look like for me? In what areas? And so when we get very specific about what exactly does that mean, that's when the values can become the foundation of using them to stay in alignment, because we need to have this alignment in our business. 

I hear a lot of times people are talking about why I just don't feel in alignment, or I'm feeling burnt out on my business, or I don't feel like things aren't going well, something's just wrong, and I don't know what it is. And most of the time, it means something's out of alignment. And so when we're using our values, this foundation allows us to grow our business, and we can also use them as a decision filter. And that's what we're going to be discussing today.

[05:41] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: And I think one of the most important things Deirdre just said was “when we're using our values.” So, we want you to use your values. 

It does no good to identify core values and then file the worksheet away somewhere and never look at it again. As Deirdre just mentioned, we might have an idea, we might know what our five words are, and we might have an idea of what they mean. But to take this exercise and go deep and write out the definition—and I love the way you said Deirdre, too, that one word can have multiple meanings for us, and that's so very true. 

So, what does freedom mean in your personal life? What does freedom mean in your business life? What does freedom mean with your family? What does freedom mean in whatever situation you can come up with? 

We encourage you to brainstorm this stuff because the more you work with your internal values and you take time to peel back the layers and examine and explore what's true for you, the quicker and the more level of depth of clarity you achieve. And that helps in your life and your business. 

Values are a powerful tool to ensure that you're building a dream business instead of just another job. Using values as a decision filter helps ensure you don't head off in the wrong direction. And I'm going to tell you a story in a little bit here about how I did that in the beginning when I was trying to figure out what did I want to do when I grow up—what did I want to do when I created my own business? 

The importance of reviewing values on a regular basis cannot be overstated. If you're on our email list, you saw the email on Sunday where Inc.com says that businesses should reevaluate their values every two to three years. Well, here at Encore Empire, we believe you should reevaluate or check in and reassess your values every year. And that doesn't mean the value is going to change. But what if the definition of that value changes? Or what if the value does change? There's no saying that this is set in stone. This is kind of we're creating a living, breathing, working document for ourselves to make sure that we are in alignment. This is how we stay in alignment. 

And so we want to find out what's working and what's not. We want to look at that through the lens of the values. If freedom is your value, and Deirdre gave a great example last week that said she said, if we know that freedom is our value, but making a difference is also a value. And if we were to decide, well, we're going to be available for our clients 24/7, well, what is that doing? It's not creating freedom in our life, and it's not modeling the freedom and following the values that we want to do for you and for our clients. 

So sometimes, out of the goodness of our hearts and wanting to make a difference, we get excited about something, and maybe we want to take on something. But if we stop and go, okay, well, what value does this align with? How is this going to support me? And we look at it, we stop for a minute to, first of all, think about it. Second of all, look at it through the filter of the value or values and see if it is in alignment. And third of all, let it sit before we make a final decision.

If you're like me, I'm really excited about things, and I could be like, OOH, I want to go do this, and OOH, I want to go to do that. I get so excited about it. But I need to just stop and calm down and take a breath, right? Because it's great to be excited. And a lot of times, because we're entrepreneurs, we are ambitious people by nature, but we need to make sure that we're not just jumping at any opportunity. We need to make sure that it's in alignment. So if something isn't working, start with evaluating whether or not it’s in alignment with your values. That's what your values are there for. And this is what we build into our coaching framework with our clients. We love helping them decide and make sure that they're building the business of their dreams.

[09:52] Deirdre Harter: There are so many good points there, Carmen. And the one thing is that we are business strategists, right? And it's what we help our clients do. We help them with all there's multiple strategies in your business. So, we really help bring together what we call the foundational business strategy. 

And a lot of people, they think, yes, I need strategies, and they start there. But we don't start there. We start with the values because there are hundreds of strategies you could use, all kinds of different strategies, and there are multiple strategies that can even get you to the goal that you want to reach, but not all of them are going to be in alignment with your values. And that is exactly why we start with the values—because that is the actual foundation. 

That's like preparing the pad right before the concrete gets laid down. We have to have that first. Otherwise, the whole building is just going to be off. So we have to start there. 

Now, let's talk about decision fatigue. Does anybody ever experience that? I know I do. Like, pretty much almost every day. It's a real thing, right? Like, you just get to the point of I just can't make another decision. I'm just exhausted from the whole thing. And the truth is, we have to make hundreds of decisions every week, whether it's in our business or it's in our life. And it can be very exhausting, and it's even more exhausting when you don't have a framework and filters. And we often labor over these decisions that we have to make. Now, we might labor a little more on certain business decisions. 

I know that once in a while, I'll labor over what's for dinner because my son is texting me from work going, Mom, what's for dinner tonight? And I'm like, oh, shoot, I didn't do the menu plan. And then I have to think about it, right? And that's okay. We can handle those. But when we have bigger decisions, what we consider to be bigger decisions or riskier decisions or decisions that we aren't familiar with, we really can labor over these things. We can either labor over them or, as Carmen said, we can just jump at it, right? We can just go, Yep, let's do it. Yep, let's do it. And so we really have to find the right balance between these two things. 

And then, have you ever had that ongoing debate in your head when you're trying to decide something, right? It's like you're playing devil's advocate and the proponent of it, and you're just going back and forth and back and forth. And it's these decisions that we do that when we're getting ready to move out of our comfort zone, which we all know and have heard. We're supposed to do that, right? We know that growth happens outside the comfort zone, and so we know this. And this is part of the debate, or we will debate this when it requires an investment of money or time. If it's a decision that we've never encountered before, our brain is looking for something to reference, and there's no reference because this is a new thing. 

Now, in our businesses, we're often presented with opportunities that are either unexpected or they're opportunities that we actually have been intentionally seeking out. But now we have a lot of them, right? Like, in the beginning, we're just like, just give me something, right? Give me an opportunity, and I'll take it. But then, as we go along, we get more and more and more, and this is where this decision filter really comes into play. Because as you continue to grow your business, as you build more relationships, you're going to have more and more of these kinds of opportunities, and you're going to have to make a decision about each and every single one. 

Recently, Carmen and I had an opportunity present itself, and the purpose of it was to add on another income stream for our company while providing lead generation through building relationships. Now, at first blush, it seemed like this was the perfect thing, right? This is going to align not only with our values but this aligns with our marketing strategy and our vision of Encore Empire. I mean, it's like, this sounds awesome. So we booked the call. 

As we began to hear about this opportunity, we were asking some questions and finding out some things about it. And Carmen and I have learned that we always get the information that we need, and then we take some time to talk about it, right? Or to think about it. And so in the past, we've had other opportunities come up, and Carmen and, you know, it took us a little while. Like we both had to process personally, then we had to get together and talk about it and kind of come up with, you know, should we do it? Should we not do it? 

Well, this time, interestingly enough, it was an easy decision for both of us. We were like, okay, we can talk about this later because we've got other things happening. And then within, like, five to ten minutes, she's like, I don't feel in alignment with this. And I'm like, great. I don't either. Okay. It's a no. And the reason that this became a no for us is because it didn't fit our personal values of freedom. Mine's freedom, Carmen's is autonomy. Those are kind of we kind of look at them similarly. And, even though this opportunity met some of our personal values—like a big one for us is community, and it would have built another community for us and it met some of the company values. But it didn't meet the value of simplicity because that's one of our company values, and because it didn't align personally and it didn't align with all the values of the company, we decided not to go with it.

Now, this is not to say that every single thing has to match up to every single value. Once in a while, it will be overwhelmingly aligned with maybe four out of five values, and so sometimes we'll go, well, it matches four out of five, but like in an overwhelming kind of way, and so then it becomes a yes. So the values need to work together, and when they do, when you're using this combination of values, it's a decision filter, and this is where you pass your ideas and opportunities through it. And that is going to help you evaluate things and ensure everything's in alignment to where you're either not debating with yourself for days, or you just say yes because you're too exhausted to do anything else, or you say no because you're paralyzed and you can't make a decision this way. You're confident in the decision that you're going to make.

[16:37] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Yes. And I would like to add that for both of us, the feeling that we got. Around here, we love data, and we like to combine it with intuition and intuition, energy, all of the stuff. We like doing things holistically. And for both of us, this decision to go forward felt really heavy. Like, there were some good things if you made a pros and cons list, there were quite a few pros, but man, the cons, while there may have been fewer cons, they gave us this big heavy feeling, and that is a clear indicator. Hopefully you're honing that intuition you have and listening to your energy because sometimes that's what needs to take precedence. It's like even if it met all the values, if it feels heavy for some reason, then you need to listen to that and give yourself more time to make decisions. 

When I was trying to figure out what type of business I wanted, this is when I was in corporate, and I knew that I wanted to do something to make a difference. And I was like, man, I could do anything, I guess. But my vision at that time was limited. I knew I had tons of experience and skills, but I didn't want to work in the same industry that I had been in for 20-plus years, and I didn't know how to match my skillset with something new. And this is a very common problem when women in corporate decide to do something, and they want to do something different. And I think we've talked about a little bit that we don't want to necessarily build another job. 

I could have become a consultant doing the same thing that I was doing for other companies, but it didn't light me up. There's that energy thing again. It just seemed like, oh, I did not want to do that. So, I felt like I was too old to start over. And I felt like, who am I to try to start a business? I guess you would call that fear, low self-esteem or impostor syndrome, all of which every entrepreneur faces over and over again; little did I know. 

And it was difficult to discuss my dreams with my family because they rolled their eyes like, oh, here she goes again. I'm kind of the crazy one. Crazy in a good way, I think. And they lovingly give me grief over it. They gave each other knowing glances. And I had to overcome the mindset issues that cropped up because even though my family is loving and they're doing it jokingly, and they really would support me, it still adds to that impostor syndrome, right? So, mindset issues definitely cropped up, and I needed to keep my dream top of mind. I had to shut all of that out and make sure I stayed focused on what is it that I want—I don't know how I'm going to get there, but what is it that I want? 

So one of the things, one of the first things that I thought of, was something I've always dreamed of having. I love to cook, and I've always dreamt of having a restaurant. I didn't want to undertake something that big, but a food truck seemed attainable. So I started dreaming, planning, and doing my research. I was super excited. I'm like, this would be so much fun. But soon, I realized I would never be home if I tried to open a food truck. And what I wanted more than anything was the freedom to be home with my family while earning money. I didn't want to be “now Carmen has to go at 4:30 in the morning to prep for that day and then be on the food truck all day and come home exhausted at 08:00 at night.” That wasn't going to be good for me. 

But the excitement of the idea first brought me down this whole journey. And I did research, and I did all that, but I needed to do that to learn what was really going to happen if I went down that path. 

Once I included my values in my process, I started gaining clarity, and it was like as much fun as that sounds, it's just not going to work. Maybe I can find someone who would let me come onto their food truck for a day and just pretend. That would be a lot more fun. Then I'd get a taste of it. But I don't have to support that because that's a big commitment. 

So it's imperative that you fully understand what your lifestyle is currently, what you want it to be, what kind of changes are reasonable for you to make, and what type of business will be a good fit. And this is when we revisit your values over the course of business ownership. You make sure that you're doing those things. You make sure because this isn't just about starting a new business. What if you want to pivot or you want to add on a new offer or, you want to add on a new opportunity? 

Like Deirdre told the story of the recent one, it was just this week that we decided “no” to. Revisiting your values over the course of business ownership ensures you're hitting the mark and making the sales that you need by ensuring that everything is in alignment. When everything's in alignment, and you are building a business that lights you up, that is simple. That's why one of our values is simplicity. We want to make sure that we are creating systems that we can rinse and repeat and that can carry us forward, something that isn't going to take too much from us. 

To figure this out, you need to identify what's most important to you. And that's how we do that in the values exercise. So, if you haven't done the values exercise yet, please do head over to vip.encoreempire.com/values

All right, I see Lei is here today, and someone else is here. For those of you who are listening to the podcast, because simplicity is one of our values, I think we shared this in one of our podcast episodes. We now combine our weekly live learning and our podcast. So, this weekly live learning, you could listen to it on our podcast. And if you're only a podcast listener so far, and you want to come on to these Live Learnings that we hold every Tuesday, join us inside the Empire of Unstoppable Women Facebook Group, and you can interact live with us when we're recording.

[22:52] Deirdre Harter: Alright, ladies. So we hope to see you next week. We'll be doing part three of this five-part series, and all of these are going to be posted in the guides inside the Facebook group. And, of course, you can see them all in order on our podcast.

[23:09] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Have a great week, and do your values exercises. See you next week. Bye bye.

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