Some argue that entrepreneurs suck at relationships. On the contrary, I think most of us are pretty good at them.

Many of us begin to realize success because of the nurtured relationships we’ve built. But as stress builds and businesses evolve, we allow our relationship skills to diminish. The more we engage in stressful business decisions and debate, the more our relationships suffer.

We speed walk through the hallway to our office to avoid a lengthy conversation with the staff because we have back-to-back conference calls starting two minutes ago. We check emails at the dinner table because no one’s really talking right now anyway.

We begin to treat all the people in our lives the same. Generic. Passionless. Cold. Soon our spouses, children and employees feel inferior to everything else on our mind. I know because I let myself get like this—once. As my business grew and I became busier, my time became even scarcer. Enter relationship problems.

My insensitivity and newly-found failure in relationships became evident. Suddenly my operations team dreaded meeting with me, my wife and I were disconnected, and my kids liked her better than me (ouch).
This all dawned on me when I sent my wife a picture of my filet mignon from a business trip in Singapore.
She responded with a picture of the mac & cheese and hot dogs she was eating with our kids. Clearly something was off.

This reminded me of the value of working on relationships. I began rebuilding the relationship with my wife, my kids, my business partners and my team. What’s more, I actually started looking at these relationships as something to be developed and analyzed. I finally realized that relationships don’t take care of themselves.

I now have meaningful, individualized, and long-lasting relationships with the people in my life—because I live for others. And that, my friends, is the one thing we all need to do every day.

Here’s how I live for others now.

1. Reach out to people. The expression “let’s get together sometime” has become cliché for one reason: little to no follow through. Our Google Calendars get so packed with appointments and conference calls that we forget to include a wildly important component to our day—maintaining existing relationships and creating new ones.

Keep a list of your 20 closest friends and 10 people you want to get to know better and reach out to one person a day. Show your friends you care by asking how they’re doing and what’s new in their life. Ask the people you want to build relationships with what you can do for them. Genuine focus on the other person shows how committed you are to the relationship. You’ll also maintain awareness of what’s going on.

2. Be there for others. Do you have a person in your life that you lean on? This is the person you call immediately without even thinking about it because they’re consistently there for you. Be that person for others. You can do this by just making time for them. As entrepreneurs, time is the best gift we can give. If someone calls, if a staff member comes into your office, make time for them. Be engaged. Don’t cut one meeting short for the upcoming meeting. Just plan better, provide support and counsel.

3. Focus on the value delivered, not taken. Relationships are a two way street. Imagine how strong a relationship would be if you both approached it selflessly. Stop thinking about what you can gain from the relationship. Instead, focus on what you’re bringing to the table. It’s not about you, it’s about them. If you find yourself drifting off when someone’s talking to you, remind yourself of this and regain focus. Building a relationship is about having a real conversation and making a connection.

We talk about the importance of relationships all the time. Network, build your collection of business cards, connect with colleagues on LinkedIn, and follow people within your niche on Twitter. But if we’re not going to nurture and value these relationships, what’s the point?

Photo by Alexis Brown

Date Night-Pevonia

It’s Friday and you’re getting ready for your big date. Let’s admit: Everyone wants to make a good impression on a first date. But, sometimes asking the wrong questions gets in the way of those good intentions; asbotaging your date and ruining the possibility of seeing this person again.

We just spoke with Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette expert, author, and founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. She says never ask these nine questions on a first date. Ready to learn what they are?

  1. How long ago was your profile photo taken? “If meeting through an online platform, profile photos may be photo-shopped, dated or misleading. Asking this question is an attempt to undermine confidence.” Schweitzer says.  “A better approach is, ‘You look even better than your picture.’ If you don’t find your date attractive, say, ‘It’s nice to finally meet you’ and be silent about the photo.”
  1. What kind of people do you like to date? “This leads to comparisons between your date and past romantic flings, which can truly be the kiss of death,” Schweitzer says.  “Keep past relationships where they belong, and be present in the moment, especially on the first date, creating new memories, rather than dredging up old ones.”
  1. How do I look? “First dates make us all nervous, but asking this question can lead to quizzical looks, eye rolls, answers you may not like or believe, and are seen as fishing for compliments.” Yes, first dates are about physical attraction and chemistry; but second dates won’t happen without an intellectual and emotional connection as well. Be curious, focus on intellectual pursuits and building these. Be interested in your date rather than worrying about yourself.”
  1. Who are you voting for? “The more you get to know someone, the more you’ll be able to navigate the turbulent waters of political conversation.” Schweitzer adds, “Talking about world issues, news and current events helps you understand their values; avoid direct questions about political opinions on the first date. Nothing can shut down a convo like differing political views especially this year.
  1. Do you usually order/eat this much? “Whether it’s a date or your partner, people are sensitive about food,” Schweitzer says.  “Never make a comment about how much food your date is eating because nothing good will come from it.  Medical conditions, culture, health restrictions, food sensitivities and fasts all impact consumption. Keep your observations to yourself.”
  1. Do you want to split the bill? “There’s no going Dutch on the first few dates,” Schweitzer says.  “Even though women do ask men out these days from time-to-time, the man is still expected to at least offer to pick up the bill.  In time, if a relationship is established, then it’s acceptable to go split the bill. Chivalry still stands, and a man paying on those first few dates is as important as him opening the car door and carrying her packages.”
  1. When do you want to get married and have kids? “A first date is not the time to talk about tying the knot and bringing little ones into the world,” Schweitzer says.  “A first date is a test of compatibility and for having fun. Talking long term goals is important way down the road. In the beginning, it will work against you and scares many potential dates off.”
  1. Are you having fun? “There’s no reason to ask your date if he/she is having a good time,” Schweitzer says.  “You know when your date is having a good time because of the chemistry, it feels right and you’re connecting on an emotional level. You also know when things aren’t going well.  Asking the question makes things unnecessarily uncomfortable.”
  1. So what’s your salary? “This question is off limits for a long time when you’re dating,” Schweitzer says.  “At this stage in the game, finding a compatible partner with an emotional connection is the priority.  After your discussions of their hobbies and outdoor activities, you can always ask what they do when they are not windsurfing, rock-climbing or running 5Ks. Their response will more than likely give you an idea of their financial situation.”

Photo by Yap Chin Kuan

Where Are Our Minds Headed Today-Pevonia

If you have been journeying with us, you’ll know we have been providing awareness toward May’s Mental Health Month. Here at Pevonia we take our call of duty seriously and want to provide strategies, ignite encouragement and press you forward on your Live.Beauty.Full journey to become a better you. So, as our final May article our hope is enhance your interest in your mental state not just today, but always.

Did you know the overall body of knowledge doubles every year? No person can be a true know-it-all. There’s just too much to know. What is happening in today’s world is very subtle: younger people are demanding more intelligence from their interactions. Whether the interaction is with a computer, an automobile, a cellular phone or another human being, human beings want engagement.

So, new marketing tactics and the new media are engaging. But, what’s happening in regards to our personal engagements, our person-to-person interactions? Do we lose something when we are interacting with gadgets or does new technology bring people together? Absolutely, Androds, iPhones, and the Internet have made the world a smaller place. It’s easier and cheaper to send video, still images, text, and voice than ever before. With webcams and small digital video cameras, people run the risk of making inappropriate personal disclosures and invading each other’s privacy. Ironically, making polite conversation with someone in an elevator becomes awkward because it’s easier and more efficient to send them a text message.

Teaching the Value of Money to Your Kids - Pevonia Blog

For most children in America, the coming season is a wonderful time, with treats, vacation from school, and plenty of toys and gifts that seem to magically appear. Of course, parents know it’s not magic, those gifts cost money. What about food? When was the last time your kiddie grabbed an orange, peeled it, to only give it one bite and then toss it in the trash?

Not having to worry about money or even think where money comes from is a gift found only in childhood, but “young children do need to learn to appreciate the value of a dollar,” says C. Ernie Nivens, a celebrated financial specialist since 1990 and the 2005 Father of the Year for Charlotte, N.C., designated by the American Diabetes Association.

“As a parent, grandparent and veteran financial advisor, I can talk all day about what I can do for an individual’s specific needs, but so much of it comes down to the basics of how we’re raised,” says Nivens. “When children are ‘spoiled’ and never taught the value of money, parents have neglected to empower them with the ability to budget and prioritize resources,” he adds.

Nivens, author of Baker’s Dozen: 13 Insights from Highly Successful Financial Advisors, says that a percentage of money children earn or receive as gifts this upcoming holiday season should be put aside for at least one of four pockets. He describes them as following:

Pocket 1: College Savings.
College graduates in the Class of 2014 share a sad historical fact; they’re the most indebted class ever. The average graduate with student-loan debt has to pay back some $33,000, according to an analysis of government data published in Edvisors, a group of websites about planning and paying for college.

“Hopefully, we’ll have a better handle as a country on student debt in the future,” he says. “Teaching children the importance of this pocket from a young age is important. They’ll understand the concept and need for establishing a budget for their future betterment.”

Pocket 2: Fun and games.
Also know as the Dream Pocket, children need to know that the entertainment they consume on a regular basis – including TV, movies, internet and video games – isn’t free. Having them help pay for a video game or a summer trip is a direct and concrete way for a child to experience the necessity of giving up something in order to gain something they’d like to have. It also helps them, “think before they play,” and in many cases choose to play outside like the old days. 

Pocket 3: God Pocket.
While the ability to save money is a virtue to a child’s future well-being, giving part of one’s savings to a higher purpose is a way of acting on their values. Giving donations to a church, charity or to buy a friend a treat teaches children that money isn’t the ultimate goal in life.

Pocket 4: Saving for the future.
Can a child always predict his or her money needs to the last dollar? Can adults? Of course not, and that’s why a pocket for general expenses is useful. It could be given to a charitable effort that takes off within the community, which could require travel. Or, they may accidentally break a window while playing catch with their friend. However the money may be needed for future use, it’s great to be able to supplement the other pockets with savings.