An Interview with Sherene Keshner

Great Business Advice From Sherene Kershner, Owner of Evolve 180 Weight Loss

Do You Follow A Certain Morning Routine Or Daily Schedule To Maximize Productivity And Well-Being?

One of my favorite books that unhooked me from this anti-entrepreneurial concept was the Power of Full Engagement by Tony Schwartz. I learned to pay attention to my energy and what increased or drained it. I also tuned in to the whispers of inspiration that let me enter and follow ‘flow’ where I was so engaged in what I was doing that I lost track of time! My best and most productive time as an entrepreneur is when I can disconnect myself from the “routines” that sometimes dampen my creativity. They have their place (i.e. make sure bills get paid and schedules are followed) but I try whenever I can to find ways to let my focus and energy flow more freely.

With that said, I am a huge list maker, and I use Trello (currently) to help me keep track of the to-dos I have to handle to make my business run smoothly. To prioritize, I keep in mind the Covey Grid (see below) to ensure the highest priorities are accounted for – not just the noisiest and most demanding things (like email, phone calls, etc). I try to time-block to ensure I have uninterrupted time to focus on the most important things that keep my business thriving.

One of the hardest things I’ve faced is breaking out of the formulaic and rigid way of thinking about time that was ingrained in me from childhood (K-12) and throughout my career as a W2 employee. Sometimes my most productive time is between 5 – 10 p.m. when a day of handling issues spurs me to think of something that will streamline a cumbersome process. I’ll spend hours researching a software solution, or developing a better flowing process to roll out ot my team. Allowing myself the freedom to follow my energy and inspiration have truly freed me to be more successful than ever before.

Time management matrix as described in Merrill and Covey 1994 book “First Things First,” showing “quadrant two” items that are important but not urgent and so require greater attention for effective time management (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With the business success you have, what do you struggle with now?

I’d say my biggest struggle is the search for amazing employees and then the constant honing of my abilities to be an equally amazing mentor and boss to them. I’m learning all the time about my tendency to want to just hire clones of myself. That is a recipe for disaster. As I improve my discernment about exactly what characteristics I need for someone to succeed in various positions, I also have to learn how to manage people with those characteristics. It’s been an amazingly humbling journey to realize how much I don’t know.

With continual interruptions, how do you control your time?

I make an effort to work from home when I have things that require a lot of concentration. I’ve learned to tell my team when I need some focused time, and they help protect me. We have signals when I’m in the office – mostly related to the door being wide open, mostly closed or fully closed that help them understand how permeable my availability is. I also empower, encourage and reward them for independence so that they have less and less need to come to me – and I’m free to focus on my highest-best-use activities. When they come to me for help it’s usually for things I’m needed for, rather than things they can solve on their own with the training and empowerment I’ve given them.

Timeblocking is also important when I’m working from home to ensure I make time for the most important things, not just the urgent busywork that can eat up an entire day.

I’ve learned you don’t always need to pick up the phone right when it rings. You don’t have to read or even open any given email or text right when you receive it. You can reserve those activities for a finite window when you are committed to clearing your inbox or returning calls. Letting people know when those times might be (on an outgoing voicemail greeting) can be super handy so others don’t feel like they are being blown off. But if you say you are returning calls between 2 and 3 p.m., you’d better actually do it. I set all kinds of calendar appointments and notifications for myself to remind myself about commitments I’ve made to my own schedule and my own process.

What is good knowledge you learned from someone else?

I have had a business coach for 7 of the 14 years I’ve owned my own businesses and I’d say the coaching has been the most valuable resource I’ve ever found. Worth every penny and quite a lot more.

As a business owner it’s difficult to get support when you’re processing challenging situations or making big decisions. Your team is often not equipped to help you – or they would all be out there running businesses of their own, not working for you. Your family / spouse / friends are often not really entrepreneurial enough to understand what you’re facing… And if they are, they probably don’t want to talk about work much during personal down time (which is a good thing to keep in mind to protect your personal relationships, anyway).

A good coach doesn’t even have to know your exact business to help you. They are trained in processes that support inquiry and your ability to tune into your own wisdom. They might help you decide whether it’s worth bringing in outside experts to consult, or research something on your own, based on the cost/benefits of each solution. They don’t tell you what to do – they help you think clearly enough to realize what you need to do. I think business coaching is the single most valuable service I’ve ever purchased, bar none.

Have you ever turned down a client?

Definitely

Establishing your worth in terms of your time, energy, expertise and value is critical to recognizing when an opportunity (a potential client) has too high of a cost (wrong fit, wrong match for needs vs. offering). Having self esteem around who you give yourself (or your company’s time/resources and attention) to is vital to making sure you spend your most precious resources wisely.

I like to think of potential clients as multiple types of beautiful flower seeds, and my business as a garden I’m intentionally cultivating. One of the most amazing benefits of owning one’s own business is the CHOICE you get to make about how/where/when/how much and with whom you spend your time. With my garden metaphor, you have a lot of information to parse about what kind of maintenance, upkeep, resources and time you’ll have to invest to keep certain kinds of plants thriving.

All flowers are wonderful, but some are a better fit than others for the garden YOU want to create. It’s ok to gently decline planting a seed that you don’t see as a fit. Some flowers will grow HUGE! They’ll take up massive amounts of fertilizer and water and shade out other flowers you might prefer. They can’t help it – it’s just who they are. So it’s up to the gardener to learn to recognize the varieties of “seeds” they are considering and to choose wisely.

Letting the need for money drive your choices can be a very short sighted mistake. It’s important to keep a long view of the business you want to create. Communicate clearly to your team what kind of garden you want to create. Help them recognize the flower species you desire and teach them how to gently pass on the ones you don’t. It takes time to cultivate a great mix of flowers and plants, but the careful effort is worth it. Remember, flowers replicate themselves. If you plan too many of the ones you don’t desire because you just want/need something growing quickly, those flowers will shed seeds of friends, relatives and co-workers who are just like them. Nurture what you WANT, and turn your attention and investments away from the ones you don’t. This type of patience and discernment will pay off massively in terms of quality of life for you and your whole team – as well as the culture you create for your business.

Do you think you’ll open a second location?

Yes, that is already in the works. 🙂 We actually plan to open five more in the next 4 years.

Related to this question is the idea of systematizing your business such that you can replicate your high level of service easily on a larger scale or at new locations. The best book I’ve ever read about this is “The E-Myth Revisited,” and I think every entrepreneur should read this book before they ever fill out the paperwork to create their LLC!

What’s a piece of advice you find yourself repeating to others?

Read the E-Myth Revisited before, during and after you start your business. It’s critical. Invest in yourself by engaging a high-quality business coach. Especially those who have been trained by Steve Chandler – whose methods I’ve found create phenomenal coaches. A great coach will be able to guide you to high-level thinking / perspective on your life and business so you can make decisions from a proper state of mind.

If you can’t get a coach right away, at least start reading books like “Reinventing Yourself,” “Crazy Good,” or “Time Warrior.” Those are a good start and will help you embark on an inner journey that will support the outer journey you hope to create.

 

 

 

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