Michelle Neujahr http://www.michelleneujahr.com Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:43:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 FIRE UP Your Business http://www.michelleneujahr.com/2014/10/fire-up-your-business/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fire-up-your-business http://www.michelleneujahr.com/2014/10/fire-up-your-business/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:43:30 +0000 http://www.michelleneujahr.com/?p=1428 fire-up-metabolismTo FIRE UP means to arouse or excite feelings and passions.

As an entrepreneur I go through seasons. There are ups and downs. Some seasons I’m FIRED UP and other seasons I just seem to go through the motions.

Right now I’m grateful to be in a season of excitement. I feel FIRED up about all the things going on in my business and in the businesses I work with. Being fired up is fun – I do my best work when I’m engaged and LOVING what I do.

When I’m engaged I show up differently. I’m more fully present. I do better work. I’m more creative. And it’s more fun. Doing good work comes naturally when I’m in a good place.

When I’m in a low season work is much harder, it’s not as fun and I’m less creative. Sometimes I get even down right cranky. I don’t like being in a negative or un-engaged space. But they come and when they do I’ve found the tools below can help me through the low times with less fall out.

Here are the things I do when I’m not feeling engaged with my work.

1. TAKE TIME OFF. Feeling burned out or off is a sign I need a break. Low times often come after I’ve worked too hard for too long.

2. GET FEEDBACK. Ask people you trust what they are seeing. Sometimes others can hold up a mirror to show us the things we’re missing in our own lives and/or our businesses.

3. DO THE LITTLE STUFF. Low seasons are a great time to catch up on all the no-brainer work you have – file, input data, update social media sites, etc.

4. SCHEDULE LESS. Say ‘NO”. Don’t take on anything you don’t have to say yes to.

5. PRACTICE SELF CARE. Take a walk, a bath, get a massage or go out with friends. Do something that feeds your soul and leaves you feeling more full.

6. VOLUNTEER. Get out and do something for someone else. Getting the focus off of ourselves can change our course quickly.

7. REMEMBER WHY. Write down why you fell in love with your business and/or career. Revisit your purpose and your passions.

And finally BE GRATEFUL there are seasons in life. And a new one is right around the corner.


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Can We Change Workplace Culture? http://www.michelleneujahr.com/2014/10/culture-change/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=culture-change http://www.michelleneujahr.com/2014/10/culture-change/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 18:59:07 +0000 http://www.michelleneujahr.com/?p=1433 Quotation-Donald-Lynn-Frost-culture-change-inspiration-Meetville-Quotes-165624Can we really change the culture of our workplace? Do we even care enough to want to? Is it our job?

Changing the culture of an organization is an enormous task.  It’s hard work and will take time. But the rewards are worth the effort.

In order to make changes in an organization we must first change ourselves. Culture change comes when we put ourselves in the mix. We have to get our hands dirty. We must do things that are not ‘our job’. We have to care and risk.

Once we’ve taken a look at the part we play in the dysfunction, we can then begin making a difference in our departments, our communities or entire organizations.

In my work with organizations I watch people continually resist being part of workplace culture change initiatives. People want culture to change but they don’t want to take responsibility for it. They tell me it’s not their job or they admit they’ve tried to make a difference in the past but it didn’t work so they gave up. Or they engaged and management didn’t. No matter how they got to that place – they’ve given up. They’ve lost hope. And when we lose hope our organizations can get ugly.

I’m often hired to bring hope back to an organization – to help fix the ugly and give morale an uplift. Clients want me to get their people excited and re-engaged. They want me to encourage their people to do things differently as the result of my having been there. But often that’s where it ends.

I can’t work miracles. I can engage an audience, get them to think and challenge them to take action. Yet if the audience and the management team does nothing when I leave – nothing will change. Organizational change is a job for the entire company, community or organization. All hands on deck are required when culture is  shifted. And when it works – it’s magical. I’ve watched companies take on the challenge and work hard to make things different. I’ve watched organizations go from a pit of negativity to a place that vibrates with positivity. And while I’d love to take the credit – they did the work. I was just blessed to be part of the process.

Are you ready to be part of the solution, to make a difference is your organization, start small. Here are some simple things you can do to make your workplace a little more positive place.

Simple Ways to Change Culture:

1. SMILE. Smile at every one you meet, every day. It is free and has a huge impact.

2. FOCUS. Focus on what’s right, on what’s working. Set a timer on your watch or phone to remind you to focus on the positives multiple times a day.

3. BE WILLING. It’s okay , actually it is good, to get involved. You might be the only one at first but change begins when someone steps up and says, ‘I AM WILLING’.

4. GIVE. Give without expectation. Give freely and without needing something in return. Give of yourself, your time and your resources.

5. BREATHE. Stop before reacting or making up a story. If you don’t know the answer – ASK. If you’re immediately negative – STOP. Practicing the pause is vital to choosing how we think and act.

6. STOP GOSSIP. Refuse to gossip. Make a commitment and let others know that you will no longer be part of gossip. Setting this limit and holding yourself to it opens the door to seeing things as they are – not as the gossip trail has said they are.

7. LEAVE. If you’re truly unhappy at your job – LEAVE. Life is to short to be miserable. There are lots of ways to make money – find one that feeds your soul and has a culture you want to be part of.

What will you do to make a positive difference in your workplace or community today?

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UNPLUG the Technology – Even Just for 24 Hours http://www.michelleneujahr.com/2014/09/unplug-the-technology-even-just-for-24-hours/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=unplug-the-technology-even-just-for-24-hours http://www.michelleneujahr.com/2014/09/unplug-the-technology-even-just-for-24-hours/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 16:10:50 +0000 http://www.michelleneujahr.com/?p=1476 0001-18818403I challenge my students to do a 24 hour media fast every semester. The fast includes TV, radio, music of any kind, computers, phones, video games and any other electronic devices. The goal is for them to UNPLUG completely for 24 hours. To experience life without technology for just one day.

This is a tough assignment. Many of them don’t make it. And many try several times over the course of the semester before actually being able to do it.

My daughter was the inspiration for this assignment. When she was in college, her professor challenged her class to a five week media fast. She took the challenge and survived five weeks. As the result of her fast she lost a few pounds, went to the gym daily, made new friends, increased her GPA and found new ways to entertain herself.

I knew I couldn’t do five weeks but I’ve challenged myself to do days with no media and weeks when on vacation. It’s hard. Every time I unplug I realize how dependent I am on being connected. But it doesn’t take long once I’m unplugged to remember why I force myself to do it. It works. When I unplug – I’m more creative, more energetic and more inspired to do things. My brain gets clear, my business grows and I deepen my relationships. It works. And I need to do it more often.

Technology is awesome – it allows me to do the work I love and to stay connected with people who are important to me. And it’s a distraction – it gets in the way of my productivity and can kill my creativity. Below are some ways to make it a bit easier to unplug.

Ways to Make Getting Unplugged Easier: 

1. Choose one day per month and take a media fast.

2. Turn your phone off during meal times.

3. Shut off the radio on your drive to work one day a week.

4. Declare technology free zones – certain days or times where no media is allowed.

5. Ask others to do a fast with you.

6. Plan time in the woods or in places where there is no cell service.

7. Start small. Try doing 12 hours to start.

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All I Needed to Know I Learned from My Students http://www.michelleneujahr.com/2014/09/all-i-needed-to-know-i-learned-from-my-students/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=all-i-needed-to-know-i-learned-from-my-students http://www.michelleneujahr.com/2014/09/all-i-needed-to-know-i-learned-from-my-students/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 16:49:03 +0000 http://www.michelleneujahr.com/?p=1435 10361107_10152426945319551_1126660876_nI LOVE teaching. I’ve been teaching college courses for the last 8 years. I love it as much today as I did when I first started. I love being in the classroom, listening to students, watching them grow. I love the whole process. Yet when I really think about it I think they teach me way more than I ever teach them. Some of the things my students have taught me are:

Dig Deep. Students don’t want fluff  – they want the real deal. I’m constantly challenged to dig deeper, to learn more and to keep growing as the result of teaching. My students ask great questions, challenge me and call me on the stuff I gloss over. I’m a better person as the result of my students comments and questions.

Laugh at myself. There are many times I catch my students laughing at how I say something or  at something I did that was a bit weird. They remind me to laugh at myself and all my little quirks.

Have Compassion. I have all types of students, from all walks of life. Some have it all together and others don’t. I was a train wreck when I was in college so I know what its like to not have it all together – in fact do we ever really have it all together? I have a strict grading system and expect a great deal from my students but I’ve learned the most important thing I can give is compassion. Compassion is having concern for others, it’s caring about students and their lives. Life doesn’t always happen in a straight line and if I have concern and am gentle with others they may be more likely to succeed.

Don’t Judge. It would be easy to make quick judgements in the classroom. I’ve learned over the years that any time I make a judgement – a student proves me wrong. I’ve learned to step back and be in the moment allowing students to  surprise me with their brilliance. It’s so fun when it happens. I learn over and over again that no matter what – each student is unique and on their own path to success.

Stay Young at Heart. Not all my students are young but most are young at heart. My students keep me young. They teach me all the cool things, introduce me to new technologies and force me to stay young at heart. Their energy is contagious and I’m grateful to be a part of college life.

Have fun. Learning should be fun. I can tell how much fun they’re having and how engaged they are just by looking at them. I learn each semester to listen to what they’re telling me through words and actions. And then I have to make learning fun. And to do that I have to have fun teaching. When I’m exited and giving it my all – students are more engaged and have more fun.

Who teaches you the most about life? What are you learning from them?

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Renovate Your Focus http://www.michelleneujahr.com/2014/08/renovate-your-focus/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=renovate-your-focus http://www.michelleneujahr.com/2014/08/renovate-your-focus/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 01:05:52 +0000 http://www.michelleneujahr.com/?p=1446 Ruby-throated Hummingbird

We’ve all heard it said – ‘what you focus on is what happens in your life.’ And yet how many of us REALLY pay attention to what we’re focused on? How many times do we let ourselves dwell on the negative things, the ‘what ifs’ and the drama of life?

I can get into the muck of negativity very quickly if I’m not diligent in paying attention to my thought life. For me success in life starts with what I focus on. If I focus on all the things that are RIGHT in my life, I move forward. If I focus on what’s not working, I get stuck. And often when I’m stuck it isn’t reality I’m focusing on – it’s the story I tell myself about what’s happening that gets me in trouble.

Think about it. If someone gives you the cold shoulder, you can choose to make up a story about what’s going on with them, you can let it go or you can ask them if there’s something wrong. Too often in life I make up a story – I’m good at it. I THINK I know what other people are thinking.

Years ago my husband and I were on vacation. We were sitting on the deck and these little creatures were flying around. There was a bigger one and a few little ones. They looked like hummingbirds from where we were sitting. We imagined the bigger one was the mother hummingbird and she was teaching the little ones to fly. That was the story we told ourselves. And yet hours later we got a close up view of these creatures – they were dragonflies.

Over the next few days we talked about the story we’d made up. We’d been convinced our story was true and yet it turned out to be fiction. We do this in life. We tell ourselves a story, one we believe is true and then we find evidence to support it.

We still use this example. When one of us is making up a story and creating drama about something – we gently remind the other person of the ‘hummingbirds’. We hold each other accountable for telling ourselves the truth.

What do you do to stop the stories you tell yourself?
How do you focus on what is RIGHT and what is TRUE?

Below are some ways to help us stay focused on these things….

1. Verify. Ask others for the truth before you spend time inventing it.
2. Be grateful. Keep a gratitude journal. Focus each day on what is good.
3. Be diligent. Pay attention to your thought life. Monitor your self talk and your stories.
4. Get help. Find people who can support you in changing what you focus on.
5. Admit the struggle. In order to change we must first admit there’s something to fix.
6. Stay the course. Growth is a life long process. We don’t change our thoughts overnight.
7. Accept. You’re a human being – accept it. You’re not perfect.
8. Laugh at yourself. The stories we tell ourselves are humorous – laugh at their absurdity.
9. Be gentle with yourself. We will not change by beating ourselves up.

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Renovate Your Comfort Zone http://www.michelleneujahr.com/2014/08/1440/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=1440 http://www.michelleneujahr.com/2014/08/1440/#comments Sat, 23 Aug 2014 00:00:43 +0000 http://www.michelleneujahr.com/?p=1440 IMG_1388This month my two best friends and I went camping. We’d been talking about it for years and yet never actually planned it – until last month. We decided we were done talking about it and it was time to do it. This trip was outside all of our comfort zones – which is why we kept putting it off. We wanted to go but at the same time didn’t really want to go. We were excited and a bit scared. Every time I’d been camping my husband did all the lifting and the stuff I didn’t want to do. I love camping. I love to pack, plan and set up camp. And I loved that my husband chopped wood, lit the camp stove and fended off wild animals.

Making a decision to go camping with the girls meant I had to move out of my comfort zone and do the things I was a bit afraid of. I had to let go of the fear and just go.

As with all great plans – crap happens. Two days before we were set to leave I pinched a nerve in my neck. I was in severe pain. This would have been a good reason to stay home. Yet I didn’t want to stay home. I called my chiropractor and by the night before we left – I was feeling good. We packed and headed out early the next day.

We had this wild idea that we would camp at a primitive site – the kind you don’t find unless you know they are there.This was the way my husband and I liked to camp – I couldn’t wait to share this outdoor experience with the girls. We had researched and found the perfect spots. Our only fear is that they would be occupied – we never dreamed we would’t be able to find them. After having been on the road for many hours, having the car die out in the middle of no-where and almost running out of gas – we headed to the local State Park. We felt defeated – we hadn’t found the perfect spot and now we were camping next to families with loud kids. Yet we would soon realize this little spot was perfect.

We unpacked the car, set up the tent and got a fire going. We did it! We were so excited. The only thing I couldn’t get started was our 20 year old camp stove. I tried everything. It would not start. So we resorted to making all our food and coffee over the open fire. It was fun and yet it bothered me that I couldn’t get the stove working.

We froze the first night. We had planned on it being warm – not freezing. So after spending the next day hiking we drove into the local town and visited Walmart. We bought more warm blankets and I bought myself a new camping stove. I felt like a little kid – I couldn’t wait to get back to camp to try it out.

It worked beautifully. I felt so proud [I know that sounds cheesy]. But I was proud. It felt good to know that three middle age women could go camping alone for the first time and not only did we survive we thrived. And we learned a few things about renovating our comfort zones throughout the process.

1. Be willing to try anything once.
2. Push through set backs.
3. Be flexible.
5. Get dirty.
6. Bring others along for the ride.
7. LAUGH at yourself.

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10 Things Every Start Up Needs http://www.michelleneujahr.com/2014/07/10-things-every-start-up-needs/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=10-things-every-start-up-needs http://www.michelleneujahr.com/2014/07/10-things-every-start-up-needs/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 18:24:16 +0000 http://www.michelleneujahr.com/?p=1275 SUCCESS IN BUSINESS COME FROMA PLAN. You can start a business without a plan but it ‘s MUCH easier if you have a plan.

FLEXIBILITY. Having a plan is important but THINGS WILL NOT GO ACCORDING TO PLAN. Entrepreneurs must be flexible, ready to adapt to changes in their market and the demands of their customers. ‘My way or the highway’ thinking will not work. You must remain open and be willing to listen to what your market is telling you and MAKE CHANGES when needed.

FOCUS. Being focused on what you do well – your sweet spot will make it much easier to scale. You can not be all things to all people or do it all in business. Focus on your ideal clients and provide them with your best product or service. There will be time to expand later. In the beginning focusing on one thing and doing that one thing well can set you ahead of your competition.

MARKETING. EVERYTHING you do is marketing. Be purposeful in putting your company out there and interacting with your customers. Marketing in today’s business world is all about engagement – it’s no longer about just putting stuff out there. Take marketing seriously and focus on generating revenue every day.

MENTORS. Get a mentor. We can not see our own blind spots. having someone you trust as a mentor can save you time and money over the long run. And it’s more fun to share the journey with others.

MINDSET. A positive mental attitude is a must. Without it you’ll be constantly swirling in the river of mental trash. Business isn’t easy, it’s not always fun but we can CHOOSE how we respond to it. We choose the attitude we bring to it. Work on consistently developing a more positive mindset.

MONEY. You need money to start a business but in this case more is not better. Starting with a tight budget will force you to spend wisely and bootstrap your business. Overspending in the beginning or not understanding how the money works is the quickest way to go out of business. 

NETWORK. Get out and meet people face to face if possible. Tell everyone about your business, share your excitement with them. You never know where your next big client is going to show up.

PERSONAL STABILITY. If your life is a train wreck – your business will be too. Before starting a business – take care of your personal life. Get help, get things in order – do what you need to do to be as emotionally and physically healthy as you can be.

VISION. Create a BIG vision for your future – you’ll need it. Creating a powerful, compelling business vision will give you something to hang on to and work towards. The more compelling the vision – the harder you’ll work towards it.

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Business is ALL About the Little Things http://www.michelleneujahr.com/2014/07/business-is-all-about-the-little-things/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=business-is-all-about-the-little-things http://www.michelleneujahr.com/2014/07/business-is-all-about-the-little-things/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 16:02:46 +0000 http://www.michelleneujahr.com/?p=1262 it's all about the little things - they (1)It’s NOT the big things we do in business that matter – it’s the little things. The things we do day in and day out matter most over time.

Here are little things you can do to make a BIG impact:

  1. Smile.
  2. Say please and THANK YOU!
  3. Remember customers name and other small details about their lives.
  4. Give more than they expect.
  5. Show up in a good mood EVERY day.
  6. Only hire people with positive attitudes.
  7. Make sure your place of business is clean.
  8. Dress up. Make an effort to be clean and professional.
  9. Watch your tone of voice and your body language.
  10. Look for what is working an do more of it
  11. Take time packaging your product
  12. Open doors for people.
  13. Help when you can.
  14. Give a shout out to a customer on social media.
  15. Be kind – ALWAYS!
  16. HAVE FUN!
  17. Be genuine.
  18. Listen.
  19. Be present – right here, right now!
  20. Take time off to recharge.
  21. Remember why you started your business.
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Your Customers Need LOVE http://www.michelleneujahr.com/2014/07/your-customers-need-love/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=your-customers-need-love http://www.michelleneujahr.com/2014/07/your-customers-need-love/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 15:55:57 +0000 http://www.michelleneujahr.com/?p=1277 DoUnknown you want to set yourself apart from your competition? Do you want more business? Are your marketing efforts coming up short? I’ll let you in on a little secret.

It’s simple. The best marketing tool you can employ is to LOVE YOUR CUSTOMERS! Yes I said it – LOVE YOUR CUSTOMERS.

People can get products or services in a variety of places. They don’t need you. They have hundreds of places to spend their money. You’re not unique. Your customers don’t owe you anything. You’re in business to serve them. And LOVING them is the best way to show them!

I’m not trying to get all gushy here or be super fluff with this post. But I think the truth is deep down people just want to be loved. They want to be noticed and appreciated. So as smart business owners, if we show our customers we care – they trust us. And then they’ll want to come back and buy from us again. Customers want a good experience – one in which they are valued.

I’ve had two experiences over the last few months that really stand out. Company A did NOT SHARE THE LOVE and Company B went above and beyond to make me feel special. Needless to say I will NOT be returning to Company A. And Company B I have already recommended to MANY people. As the result of great service and feeling the LOVE, I wanted to share my experience. They didn’t ask me too – I just did it. In today’s business world we can share the positive and negative INSTANTLY. We share our experiences on social media – good or bad. And then social networks take on a life of their own. As owners we can try to steer conversations but if people are not happy – THEY WILL TELL OTHERS. And then no amount of marketing can get them back.

Below are some ways to LOVE YOUR CUSTOMERS this month:

1. Send them a handwritten thank you card.

2. Give a shout out to them on social media.

3. Give them something extra. Something they were not expecting.

4. Ask them to be part of something you are doing.


6. Listen to them. Ask for their opinion. [The best ideas for growth often come from our customers]

7. Treat your employees well. LOVE them and they will share the LOVE.

8. Answer your phone. Avoid the temptation of letting voice mail get it.

9. Leave cheerful messages to others.

10. SMILE.

What do you do to show your customers LOVE? What are you going to do?



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Self Sabotage And Your Business http://www.michelleneujahr.com/2014/07/self-sabotage-and-your-business/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=self-sabotage-and-your-business http://www.michelleneujahr.com/2014/07/self-sabotage-and-your-business/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 21:03:06 +0000 http://www.michelleneujahr.com/?p=1264 download (1)If your business isn’t where you want it to be – why? What’s getting in your way? Is your business being held back because you’re getting in its way? Are you sabotaging yourself?

I’ve sabotaged myself and my business many times over the last  20 years. And yet the good news is that it’s not terminal – I’m still here and still in business. When sabotage shows it’s annoying and can derail us for a time but it doesn’t mean game over.

Sabotage is any behavior that gets in the way of our reaching our full potential. I could stop working hard once I get close to achieving success. I could procrastinate or avoid moving forward. Or I might even engage in unhealthy behaviors to avoid reaching a new level of success.

When I stop and think about what I do and have done to myself – it’s ridiculous. My adult brain tells me I never need to participate again. Yet I do. I still struggle against old belief systems that can trip me up.

The old underlying belief system says I’m unworthy or incapable of what I’m attempting. For me it’s the familiar old tape of  ‘you’ll never amount to anything’. I KNOW it’s a lie in my head but my insecurities can jump on board in a minute. I’ve battled this demon many times. I conquer it, believe I’m worthy and then something else comes up. I can go months or years without sabotaging behaviors showing up – then a new challenge is presented in my life or an amazing opportunity  comes my way and BAM the old sabotaging behaviors show up. Below are some things I do to overcome self sabotage.

Tips For Overcoming Self Sabotage:

1. Get honest about it. We’ve all done it.Being honest about it gives us the power to overcome it. When we ignore it or pretend it doesn’t exist – it grows.

2. Pay attention to when it shows up. Are there certain times it shows up more than others? Do you only experience it when you’re reaching toward really big goals? Or when you are forced to step out of what you know? I find that sabotage happens for me when I’m getting close to a BIG goal or when I step into new territory, territory I never thought I’d get to.

3. Say it out loud. There is power in speaking it out loud.

4. Get accountable with it. Find someone you can trust and share the journey with them. Hold each other accountable to the TRUTH.

5. Listen to the conversation you are having with yourself more closely. Sabotage starts in our minds. It starts when we begin to believe the lies or buy into a faulty belief system. Identifying when it starts and listening carefully for the lies can help derail our tendency to get in our our way.

6. Do not judge yourself harshly. When you get in your own way be gentle with yourself. Avoid judging past behavior. Simply give yourself permission to start over.

7. Know you are not alone. We’ve all sabotaged our own success. We are human beings – afraid of both success and failure.

How do you overcome sabatoge?

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