I started my favorite things blog a couple of years ago and it was a huge hit. Not huge, like Ellen or Oprah huge, but huge as in at least twenty people have thanked me for it, so basically a wild success in my book.
This year I’m going to add a few of my least favorite things in business because I think that these too are useful to create a more civilized, humane business world.
Let’s begin with my least favorite things.
1. Requesting proposals and never responding. If you ask someone to go through the trouble of writing and submitting a proposal, have the decency and professionalism to thank that person and let he or she know that you’ve chosen to go in another direction, you have no money or whatever. Going silent is kind of a jackass thing to do – let’s be honest here.
2. Selling on LinkedIn. Sending me a mass message to buy something through LinkedIn just makes me sad. Please don’t.
3. Asking me for a referral for something and then saying, “But I have no money.” I cannot give you a referral for someone who works for free. I do not know such people. If you have a budget of zero dollars, you may wish to post your request on CraigsList.
4. Posting your events and marketing yourself on someone else’s social media feed. Posting your events and news on someone else’s feed is rude. It’s like showing up to a party that you weren’t invited to in the first place. Build your own following.
5. Whining about social media. People love to hate social media. The world has changed. Join us. Nothing makes me laugh more than someone on Facebook complaining about Facebook. It’s free and it’s not mandatory. If you hate it – quit.
Now let’s move onto some of my favorite things in no particular order. Drum roll, please (insert drum roll here).
1. #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso who built a $100 million company that she started on eBay by leveraging social media. She still doesn’t have a marketing department. It really is about building something from nothing and you all know what a fan I am of that!
2. Friendly Planet. I’ve now taken two tours with my father through Friendlyplanet.com. We took one trip to the Galapagos Islands and the other to Turkey. They are professional, all inclusive, easy and affordable. They give me nothing for saying this and no I’m not giving away a tour as much as I would love to say, “And you get a trip and you get a trip and you get a trip.” It’s not going to happen. Save your money. Go and see the world!
3. Harney & Sons Wedding tea. If you’re a tea drinker or know one – this tea is DELICIOUS and can be purchased online through various outlets.
4. LinkedIn Blog. I think this is a fabulous new feature that can really help you get more reach. It’s easy and you should be using it to advance your business. If you can’t figure this out please e-mail Leah Singer. She does all of my clients’ LinkedIn profiles and if you tell her you know me you get the Ann marie Houghtailing rate. She too gives me nothing for this. I simply know that she does great work and has helped my clients immensely. To be fair, she occasionally buys me a potato taco, but frankly I can buy my own so this isn’t a real motivator for me. www.leahrsinger.com
5. Jackery mobile charger, which can be purchased here amzn.to/1JJZoWf. This is an awesome client gift. For those of us who travel a lot, there’s nothing better than being able to charge your phone on the run.
6. Useful promotional gifts. So we all get things with logos that make us wonder why anyone would spend ten cents on such trash and then proceed to pass it off as a gift. Here are things I personally appreciate and think are worth slapping your logo on and distributing: headphones because you can never have too many, thumb drives because you’ll always need one, to go coffee mugs, totes and a mobile charger! See how I just combined number 5 with number 6?
7. My giant blue book. I have a big, blue sketchbook that I write down every crazy business and marketing idea in from articles ideas to strategic partnerships. It’s a giant doodle space and I find it SO useful to have a place to play. You could do this electronically as well but I think the book is superior and the tactile experience of writing and doodling your ideas is extremely valuable.
8. New Year’s cards. If you haven’t gotten around to sending holiday cards, consider sending a New Year’s card. I find they are less likely to get lost in the shuffle and it gives you a bit of breathing room to get something out after the holiday insanity. If you’ve sent me a card, thank you I love it. You won’t be getting one from me because I’m sending you this blog instead.
9. Radio. This may sound odd and you may want to argue about the term radio since it’s more of a podcast but I’ve been listening to the Moth, This American Life and the hit podcast Serial. As a lover of stories and human connection, I’ve found listening a really calming and peaceful form of entertainment. This wacky, unlikely and thoughtful story is called Government Assistance (not what you think AT ALL) and I think it’s really sweet and I hope you do as well. bit.ly/1oVNb7K
10. Best marketing information comes from Upworthy. u.pw/1gBqTBr. This slide deck helps you really understand how to be economical and careful with crafting language. I’ve used this for subject lines, article pitches and blog titles. It’s an excellent tool and can teach you a lot.
11. Small acts of kindness. There are lots of small ways to have a big impact on the people in your business. Write a recommendation on LinkedIn, nominate people for awards or write a small note. These things cost nothing and take a small amount of time but will have a lasting impact. Do one a day and see how it changes your relationships and your business. Some version of this appeared last year, but it remains a favorite.
12. Retreats. I’ve facilitated retreats this year and have gone on a couple of self imposed retreats and I cannot say enough about how valuable these are to your business. You need clear space to be creative and work without distraction. Give yourself the gift of a retreat. It can change your business and your life. I speak from direct experience. It’s also great for your family because you come back more clear, present and engaged. Here’s one that I’m doing in January. annmariehoughtailing.com/visionary-retreat/
13. This year my favorite Pandora station to work to is probably still Pink Martini but a second would be The Lumineers.
14. My Infinite groups. This year I launched my first Infinite group for executive women. I now have three. These brilliant, caring, honest and generous women have expanded by vision of what I thought was possible. Watching them soar and participating in their growth has been some of the most rewarding work of my career to date and I could not possibly feel more love about my work thanks to these dedicated groups of women.
15. Experiences. If you are struggling with what to give clients consider an experience. Host a great workshop or invite a storyteller or musician to perform. Think of something intimate and original that they couldn’t buy for themselves. I think that these things will both be appreciated and remembered. This is especially important for those with clients who have everything.
My favorite thing this year in my own business has been my remarkable clients who have made me more grateful than ever before to do this work. I wish you all health, love, laughter and success in 2015. I thank you for staying connected and I hope the coming year is magnificent.