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Protect Yourself. Limit Liability.

When was the last time you read the fine print?

Not just in business, but in your everyday life? Like the time you purchased a phone, bought a car, rented or purchased a home?

Whether you’re a business owner, service provider or employee, just about everything we do in life is built on contracts. 

Knowing what’s in that contract is incredibly important so that you can limit your liability.

How? Know and understand the following: liability, indemnification and hold harmless: 

  • Liability: The responsibility or obligation of repaying, fixing, doing something that you agreed to do. Legal liability means it’s enforceable in a court of law or through some kind of tribunal, like in mediation or arbitration. (Check out Episode 18 for more on that.)
  • Indemnification: You agree to protect someone else – to protect them against hurt, loss, damage or injury that might occur, including as the result of that actual work together.
  • Hold Harmless: An agreement upfront where one of the parties assumes potential liability. 

Relationships are a natural part of life, especially if you’re a business owner, service provider or employee. But when you create relationships, you’re creating expectations.

But it’s important to make sure there is as much equity as possible in clear expectations that create reciprocity. For me, that means I treat others as I want to be treated.

In other words, if something were to happen, I want to be treated with respect and I’m going to make sure that respect is mutual. 

The best way to avoid getting burned by clients is to have clear expectations, communication & contracts.

Because if something goes wrong and you don’t have something that specifically says there’s a limitation of liability, you’re not protected.

But when you have a strong contract with clear expectations and consequences, you can comfortably sleep at night knowing that you’re protected. I love drafting contracts – they’re my favorite. For exactly these reasons!

Extra Credit

As you go about your day, think about this:

  1. You’re not expected to understand or know the law inside and out when it comes to your business or career. The goal is to understand the basics or concepts. In law, we call this “spotting the issue,” saying, “I think this is going to be an issue. Let me go ahead and address it now.
    1. Take a moment to look through your contract, handbook or any other agreement and try “Spotting the issue.”

Next Steps

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The truth about the law: Forget everything you learned on TV

Who needs a lawyer when you can just binge the latest marathon of “Law & Order,” “Suits,” or “The Good Fight?”

YOU do. In fact, forget EVERYTHING you’ve ever learned on TV about the law because it’s all fake, dramatized and scripted. Yes, even the reality shows.

As a lawyer, I don’t like legal shows because they tend to over-dramatize and under-represent what is already an incredibly stressful and taxing system – simply for entertainment purposes. And, as a result, people believe that’s how it actually works.

For instance, most popular crime-related dramas are about criminal law (crimes against people and state). But what do you know about civil law, aka wrongs done between people that don’t necessarily amount to a crime? 

Whether you’re a business owner, aspiring entrepreneur or an employee, it’s important to know the difference between the two:

  • With criminal law, your resolution options are jail or no jail.
  • Civil law is usually centered around money and does not result in jail time. 

But if you think that a business issue can’t be resolved without the courts, think again, because more often than not, it can.

That’s why around 95% of cases settle.

Whether civil or criminal, as a party, an attorney, a judge, court staff, a witness, or even an onlooker, working within the justice system and being within the justice system can be the most hair-raising illogical and seemingly unfair experience you’ve ever had in your life. Even when you win. 

And the reality is that the legal system was built by flawed humans. So, it’s far from being perfect, clear, or predictable. 

The why having clear contracts, setting clear expectations, living your life and running your business the way you want is so important.

Extra Credit

As you go about your day, think about these questions:

  1. Do you know some other key differences between civil and criminal cases? Test your knowledge below: 
    • Cases involving conflict between people or businesses, such as: marriages dissolving, family issues (i.e. child custody,) someone passing away and how to distribute their property, or who’s going to pay to fix the fence between two neighbors’ houses after a car accident or hurricane. CIVIL or CRIMINAL?
    • These are cases involving enforcing expectations of behavior as outlined in the law. These cases start with cops and then the government prosecutes. CIVIL or CRIMINAL?
    • In these cases, one or more people aka plaintiffs, bring a lawsuit against another one or more people aka defendants. In other words, the plaintiff files a complaint in court that begins the lawsuit. CIVIL or CRIMINAL?

ANSWERS: 1. CIVIL 2. CRIMINAL 3. CIVIL

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Understanding the Law for your Business or Career

How much do you actually know about the law and the role it plays in your job or business?

How much do you actually know about the law and the role it plays in your job or business? 

Not much? Unless you’re a lawyer, does it really even matter? Absolutely.

Whether you’re a business owner, thinking about starting a business, or an employee with no entrepreneurial aspirations, it’s important to have at least a basic understanding of the law, how it functions and what the purposes of law actually are … today’s podcast above delves into that.

Think of it like one of those civic duties such as voting or jury duty.

Essentially, a law is a rule that has the following functions:

  • To help us keep the peace. 
  • To shape moral standards. 
  • To promote social justice.
  • To maintain the status quo.
  • To facilitate some kind of orderly change.
  • To facilitate planning.
  • To provide a basis for compromise.
  • To maximize individual freedom.

Sure, that may seem like a lot to absorb, but the law and the legal systems that make up the world really aren’t that complicated.

It’s more about knowing where to look and understanding the history behind the laws and the people that you’re working with, as well as understanding your role in the future of your jurisdiction, wherever you live – local, state, international.

In its simplest form, a law is a rule about something you can or cannot do, except in certain situations.

They are explicit expectations that the government, ruling bodies, or whoever’s in charge has of us, our conduct and how we conduct ourselves in our day-to-day lives.

As a result, laws are expectations that we also have of ourselves and others. 

So as you move forward either in your profession, business or daily life, be aware of the law and how it functions so that you can make the best decisions for your life and career.

Extra Credit

As you go about your day, think about these questions:

  1. What do you know about the law and the role it plays in your profession, business or job? Think deeply. 
  2. Are you open to the idea of throwing everything you thought you knew right out the window? If so, you’re off to a great start.

Next Steps

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What your Digital Footprint means for your Brand

When was the last time you Googled yourself, your business or even your specific service?

If it’s been awhile, or you’ve never done it before, there’s no time like the present to start cleaning up what’s out there about you. 

Why does it matter? Your brand as a service-based professional is you. And yes, you might have a brand for your company, or if you work for one, they have a brand, but at the end of the day, there’s one golden rule: People don’t hire companies. People hire people. 

So, if they don’t know that they can trust you, believe you and give you the space and energy you need so that you can give them the time, talent and energy that you have, you’re not going to have the career, business or reputation that you want.

If you Google me by typing “Sheila Wilkinson New Orleans,” I have the first two to five pages of Google. If you Google “Sheila Wilkinson New Orleans Brussels” … the results are less and I have all the pages.

That’s not a coincidence. I’ve done that on purpose. 

There is nothing on the internet that I don’t want on the internet attached to my name and the same should go for you and your name.

You have to care about your reputation and your brand.

No, that doesn’t mean you have to be perfect, but it DOES mean you do need to be consistent, honest and as transparent as possible about who you are, what you want and what you stand for. 

I want people beating down doors for you, excited because they know exactly what they’re going to get from you:

  • The expectations you hold yourself and other people to… 
  • Your values, mission and vision…
  • What you’ll do and what you won’t do…
  • Where your line in the sand is…
  • That you are going to enforce your own rules, contract and agreement with them…

If you’ve been putting this on the backburner and just focusing solely on your work, thinking that you’ll let your work speak for you, think about how you can also expand that. Think about who you are as a person and who you are with other people. And then let’s make sure that matches what’s said about you in the Google search.

Who you are on the internet should be consistent with who you are as a person and a professional in real life.

Extra Credit

As you go about your day, think about these questions:

  1. Caring for your wellness and health and showing up for yourself is a direct result of what people experience from you. So when you feel that sense of frustration, aggravation or annoyance, stop, pause and ask yourself:
    1. Is this an expectation? 
    2. Am I trying to control something that I don’t have control over? 
    3. Am I stressing out about something that doesn’t matter? 
    4. Am I thinking about things that don’t matter? 
    5. Am I trying to prove myself to someone? 

Next Steps

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Why your Client’s Ethics Matter for your Business & Career

Do you ever wonder what you need to know or don’t know when it comes to working with clients outside of your own profession?

Well, here’s a good rule of thumb: When you have the FIRST meeting with a potential client, ask them whether they have a code of ethics or a set of rules of responsibility of professionalism that they must abide by.

Maybe you’re thinking, “But why? What’s the big deal?”

When you’re working with a client outside of your profession, you have to acknowledge that their code of ethics exists and you have to respect it. In some cases, you even have to follow it by law.

That’s right, you might actually be responsible for following rules outside of your own professional rules. 

For example, let’s say you’re a marketer hired to help out a lawyer. Well, guess what? You need to know that there are pages and pages of VERY specific rules about advertising. 

And not being familiar with those rules (aka professional ethics) can literally cost you the job, project, and any additional prospective clients in that profession. It might also cost you a lot of money if your limitation of liability clause isn’t shored up in your contract.

In other words, ethics are more than just a basic sense of right and wrong, good or bad.

They can give guidance to life, both personally and professionally. 

Ultimately, doing interdisciplinary work with others helps you become as holistic a service provider as possible, and it’s a great way to see how all of these rules, ideas about expectations, issues of control, wellness, health and power teams are really interconnected.

So, if you find yourself in an ethical dilemma, here’s an easy way to reframe and shore up:

  • Understand that ethics is a broad term. 
  • Personal ethics are ethics that a person identifies with in respect to people in daily situations. Like morals or a code of conduct.
  • Professional ethics are about the rules of ethics a person must follow when it comes to interactions, business dealings and professional life, or in order to keep their license or certification. 
  • Professional ethics are about the values and principles of the profession at large.
  • Professional ethics are usually introduced in a professional organization or association, especially ones that are mandatory for their job and especially when it’s based on a voluntary membership.

Remember, if your client is licensed or certified, it doesn’t matter what your personal ethics or opinions are. You must follow their professional rules.

Extra Credit

As you go about your day, think about these questions:

  1. How do we align our personal ethics, codes and standards with our professional ethics? What do we do when they’re misaligned?
    • Get clear about what matters to you and what rules you need to live by.
      1. Keep in mind that others may not know or understand that. 
      2. Some may even fear asking you to explain it.
    • Ask them about their code of ethics upfront
      1. Make these questions apart of your intake process
      2. Include as part of the process of learning about a person who may or may not be working with you.
    • Be as unambiguous as possible.
      1. Do not use jargon. 
      2. Never assume someone knows something if you do not know for a fact that they do.

Next Steps

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How to avoid discrimination and harassment in your workplace or business

When we hear words like discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, it may seem like they’re all one and the same.

But actually, discrimination is a broad term that’s not interchangeable with harassment. And discrimination and harassment aren’t interchangeable with retaliation, either. 

To discriminate against someone = to treat a person differently or less favorably for some reason, anywhere. It doesn’t have to just be at work. 

You can be discriminated against by anyone – friends, family, professors, colleagues, etc.

And one of the biggest mistakes people when it comes to handling a discrimination or harassment complaint is that they don’t take responsibility. The second biggest mistake is that they unwittingly retaliate against the person.

It’s never OK for people to discriminate or harass others – it’s not the victim’s fault.

But we do have responsibilities when it comes to who we work with, where we work, why we chose that organization or client, what we do with information we receive that’s unsavory.

For instance, it could be the way we respond or react to how they treat us the FIRST time it’s misaligned, and why we do or don’t stand up for ourselves – when we finally DO decide to do something about it, it’s usually too late. 

How you’re going to resolve the issue depends on whether you’re an employee or a business owner. 

(Note: This is not legal advice, but it’s good to know that while employees are protected by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency, 1099 independent contractors are generally not protected, unless there was a change in your status in which you’re paid like a contractor, but treated like an employee. Always consult an attorney if you need help.)

Flip the Golden Rule on its head – Treat people as YOU would want to be treated.

No matter whether you’re a business owner or an employee, here’s the one simple step you can take to set yourself up for success, and avoid discrimination and harassment: Know who you are, what you want, and why you want it. 

Then, based on that, set CLEAR expectations – whether that’s in your contract, your handbooks, etc. – to ensure that harassment, discrimination, and retaliation does not occur, let people know what the consequences of their behavior are, and to enforce the rules.

If you’re still not clear on the difference between discrimination and harassment or need more help understanding why it matters for you as an employee or business owner, consult with a lawyer on your Power Team. And, if you don’t have one, feel free to reach out. I’m happy to steer you toward resources.

Extra Credit

As you go about your day, think about these questions:

  1. What is the best way to resolve a discrimination, harassment and retaliation issue?
    1. Employees: Does the company you work for have a handbook? If so, it should outline the process for filing a complaint or resolving a dispute with any co-worker.
    2. Business owners: Do you have something in place on how to handle these issues with your employees? If you don’t already have this, get on it ASAP! If you hire independent contractors, have something in writing that says everyone is treated with respect no matter who they are to the company itself.
    3. Independent Contractors / Freelancers: Have you outlined in your contract what you will and will not put up with? Reserve your right to terminate the agreement if you experience something misaligned with your own personal and professional values.

Next Steps

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W2 or 1099? Why it always matters for your business and career!

When you hear terms like W2 or 1099, your mind immediately goes to tax season, right?

But these words mean more than just tax forms that you receive at the end of the year.

In fact, one of the biggest decisions we make throughout our career is the choice to be either a W2 employee or a 1099 independent contractor. Sometimes, we may even change from an employee to an independent contractor or vice versa.

Regardless of your role, it’s important to set up expectations of who you are, what you do and what your boundaries are from the beginning.

For instance, understanding the difference between a W2 and 1099 is crucial as you determine  what to include in your contracts with clients, especially when you want to be clear about who you are, what you are to them, what your working relationship is, how you maintain control and what the expectations are for each of you.

Whether you’re an employee or an independent contractor, too often, control can feel like a luxury for only a select few. 

REALITY CHECK: You don’t have to be everything to everybody. Even if you’re an employee.

Even if you are an employee and provide a specific service to your employer, you actually might have more control than you think you do.

The same is true for 1099s – just because you are doing work for someone else does not make you an employee, or the person hiring you as an independent contractor your employer.

If you need additional resources or information on W2s, 1099s and other tax information, the IRS and Small Business Administration websites are great places to start. But getting the information is one thing, applying it is another. This is what I do each and every day – help people decide what path is right for them.

Ultimately, implementing information in a way that works for you is what matters. I’d love to help you figure that out!

Extra Credit

As you go about your day, think about these questions:

  1. What is my role?
  2. Where do I have control?
  3. Where can I have control? 
  4. Where can I reset expectations?

Next Steps

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Using intentions to reach your life, business + career goals

These days, the internet is chock-full of websites, apps, and social media posts that dole out affirmations to make you feel good about yourself.

And affirmations are nice. But at the end of the day, they’re just about… fleeting feelings. 

When it comes to reaching your goals or taking your career or business in the direction you want it to go, you need a plan to put it into action. And setting intentions can give you the steps to help you get there.

As you’re setting intentions and affirmations, think about the following:

  • What is the purpose of the intention or affirmation?
  • What matters the most at this moment – do you need to feel better or do you need to take action?
  • When were you your happiest self? Not your most productive self, but your happiest, joyful, kindest, most compassionate self to you and others?
  • What is something that you can be thankful or grateful happened or didn’t happen the way you wanted or felt it should have.

Remember: Affirmations are about feelings. Intentions are about actions.

So, maybe you can start with affirmations to feel good about what you’re doing, the choices you’re making and the things you’re letting go. 

Then, you can rely on intentions to help you get where you want to go, reach the SMART goal that you want, or take your career or business to the next level.

Extra Credit

As you go about your day, think about these questions:

  1. Read each example below. Identify if it is an affirmation or an intention.
    1. “My focus today is me” 
    2. “I forgive myself for not being everything to everyone”
    3. “I actively let go of expectations” 
    4. “When I begin to think X, I will Y”
    5. “I will forgive myself when I feel like I’m not able to be everything to everyone” = AFFIRMATION attached to an INTENTION
  2. See the answers below to see how well you did:
    1. INTENTION
    2. AFFIRMATION
    3. AFFIRMATION
    4. INTENTION
    5. AFFIRMATION attached to an INTENTION

Next Steps

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Structure is the key to successful time management

Always be on… always be hustling… Always be closing… Always be scheduling… Always be working… Always, always, always…

Many of us have heard these types of mantras and the capitalist structure that we live in demands that we MUST think this way in order to build a successful business or career.

I always hated that mentality. In fact, I don’t agree with it at all. 

You don’t always have to be ON, hustling, closing, scheduling, working…

Often, I’ve found that for my clients and students, even myself, the trouble with time management is due to a lack of structure… knowing what to do first: the most important thing to do each day.

It’s a mindset about time. And for service-based professionals, especially business owners, this false ideal that not working is equivalent to making no money is rampant.

The truth is, the more structure you have, the more freedom you have.

Because then, you know what to expect and what’s coming down the pipeline, and you can choose what to put into your blocks of time.

Instead of wasting time making these huge promises or commitments you know you won’t be able to sustain, set tiny, baby, S.M.A.R.T. Goals or goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable and time-sensitive. 

Then, make sure you choose the right Power Tools to get there – aka the tools that help you to be your most powerful and structured, productive, beautiful, rested, sustainable self!

And in case you were wondering, time management isn’t about time at all. It’s about managing projects and tasks … but that’s a post for another time!

Extra Credit

As you go about your day, think about these questions:

  1. Take a personal goal – for example, the most common is weight loss (even though you’re beautiful just the way you are and the reason for the goal of weight loss is often much deeper and more expansive like being comfortable in your skin!) – and look at it from a “Five W’s and How” perspective. Ask: 
    • “WHO is going to lose weight?” 
    • “WHAT am I going to do?” 
    • “WHERE am I going to lose weight?” (I know, that’s a weird question, but keep going.)
    • “WHY do I want to lose weight?”
    • “WHEN am I going to start trying to lose weight?” 
    • “HOW am I going to lose the weight?” Hint: Make sure it’s Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable and Time-Sensitive aka S.M.A.R.T.

Next Steps

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The best way to build a successful business is to let go

Elsa in “Frozen” made it sound so simple to just let it go.

But, it’s not always easy. In fact, it’s one of the biggest challenges I see among my clients and students – letting go of things – regardless of whether they can or can’t control them – because they haven’t granted themselves permission to do so.

And so many times, they want to go straight to the HOW of things instead of first determining the WHAT,  WHO and WHY and getting to the root of what they want. They ask questions like: 

  • HOW do I get clients?
  • HOW do I write my contract?
  • HOW do I tell my client I hate him and don’t want to work with him anymore?
  • HOW much should I charge or make in my job?

Can you relate? If so, I want you do one thing right now: Pump the BRAKES. Let’s get to the root of it all.

I LOVE helping clients and students to see things they’re missing and be honest with themselves. For example:

  • Instead of asking, “HOW do I get clients?” I want to know what kind of clients you want, why those clients and who made you decide to do this work?
  • Instead of asking, “HOW do I write my contract?” I want to know what you’re trying to achieve with the contract, what’s the end goal and have you thought about all the pieces of the puzzle that go into the contract as well as all the terrible things that you want to avoid with clients?
  • Instead of asking, “HOW do I tell my client I hate him or her and don’t want to work with them anymore?” I ask why do you hate them (sometimes, it’s a manifestation of some other thing that you’ve been procrastinating –  like following your own deadlines that are unreasonable to begin with and we put it all on others, right?)
  • And instead of asking, “HOW much I should charge to make in my job?” again, I go back to the questions of YOU and all the things that make you, well, YOU.

SPOILER ALERT: There is no single “right” or perfect answer … there is no secret to success.

And anyone who tells you that, or tries to sell you that is lying to you.

I absolutely hate when people sell unethically. So, I’ve given myself permission to be transparent, tell people how I feel and think, and if we jibe, great! If we work together, we work together. And if not, that’s cool, too because I want what’s best for you. 

Even if we don’t work together now, we probably will in the future. Why? Because you’ll remember that I told you that the answer is within yourself and when you’re ready to look deep with me for it, I’ll be there and you’ll know I didn’t push you or try to use manipulative, fear-based, fake scarcity tactics to get you to work with me or do what is best for yourself. 

You may not be ready yet, and that’s okay. But one day you will be, and I will still be here, waiting to support you and be your cheerleader.

Extra Credit

As you go about your day, think about these questions:

  1. Whenever you think to yourself, “Oh, I can’t do that,” “I could have done that,” “I shouldn’t do that,” or “I wished I did that,” ask yourself WHY. 
  2. Get curious. Figure out what or who is holding you back. 
  3. Once you identify it, acknowledge it and then do something about it. 
  4. Give YOURSELF permission. Let go of unreasonable expectations. Go intentionally towards what you want. 
  5. Start slow, start small. Take small, baby steps toward what you want. You got this!

Next Steps

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