Melody Stevens

Academy of Music and Dance & Mozarts and Einsteins Preschool - Founder and CEO
Brooklyn, NY
http://mozartsandeinsteins.com
  • What exactly are we afraid of in business, and how do we move forward anyway? How do we over and over again, fling ourselves valiantly into the brave unknown, knowing that we may fail or we may succeed?

    One method I’ve found that works is to identify the fear, reframe it, then jump back into the tasks at hand. Here are 3 of my most common fears in business:

    1) Fear of my efforts being for naught, and coming up short financially.

    2) Fear of my loved ones telling me to give it up already, or they’ll be mad at me for my shortcomings. (Fear of damaging my relationships due to my failures.)

    3) Fear of being exposed.

    And here are some “reframes” of the above fears:

    1) Without efforts, it’s a guarantee that I will come up short financially in business. But, I’ve set a tall order for myself- to earn my own money and make a huge difference in the world through my business. So I might as well go for it, with the calculated knowledge I’ve gleaned from all my past failures [...]

  • I just got finished reading the book "Lean In" by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Wow. Spot on. A must read in my opinion.

    One of the things that Sandberg says in her book is that women, as opposed to men, tend to undervalue their own achievements and abilities, thinking of themselves as a fraud. Can you relate? I sure can. We are also socialized not to sound egotistical. In other words, bragging is a no no. 

    Sandberg asserts that this is one of the many reasons why we get passed over for promotions, earn less money than men, and we don't "lean in" to our own leadership as much as the men do. Sandberg encourages us to step up and sit at the table with the men. Stop hiding. 

    She goes on to say that we have a "catch 22" going on. A man will be respected and liked for his drive, ambition, and proud accomplishments in business. He is admired for making a lot of money, or even wanting to. Women, not so much.

    So, here we are in Savor the Success. We are pioneers. We fully support one [...]

  •  I was recently asked by one of my Savor sisters how I come up with systems for my Personal Assistant. Short answer: I don’t. Another short answer: My businesses are highly systematized so I don’t ever have to think too hard.

    Have I come up with ANY systems for my business? Yes. Many. However, those that I personally have come up with have come out of work that I’ve done in my business that I did well. Admin wasn’t one of them. Instead, for example, my faculty handbook- for music teachers- while I used a consultant’s template, is mostly from me. Why? I was very good at music teaching and popular for it. Therefore, when I had to start “cloning” myself to get my business scaled, I wrote out, with the help of a coach and a couple of my employees, my systems into this handbook template. We review and update the handbook once or twice a year at this point (When I say “we” it’s me, my manager, and senior teacher)

    Now, when I say system, I’m referring to anything from a policy to a pr [...]

    • I hear it often……
    • Exercise an hour a day, 5 days a week? Oh, I don’t have time for that.
    • Take a day off from work and go to the beach, just for fun and to relax? Forget it!
    • Have more dates with my husband? Ha! Yeah, right…..in my copious free time!
    • Make more sales calls, or do more marketing for my business? When am I going to squeeze that in?
    • Call a friend, family member or colleague just to say “Hi?” LOL!

    Okay, let me tell you…..you have PLENTY of time for the above and like items.

    Here’s what you DON’T have time for, and if you eliminate enough of these things, you’ll suddenly find all the time you need for whatever it is that will improve your life and business. I promise. (This is just a short list of a myriad of possible time wasters.)

    • Beating up on yourself for your shortcomings
    • Indulging in substances like junk food, excessive alcohol, drugs, smoking
    • Complaining and listening to complaining instead of problem solving
    • [...]
  • Once Angelique Rewers (The Corporate Agent) joined Savor as our sister, many of us (me included) have been inspired to tap into the corporate market for work as coaches, consultants, trainers, entertainers, etc. (Big shout out for Angelique's home study course....I'm working on memorizing her CD's. So informative!)

    And....I’m wondering if any of you have some similar notions as I do, like:

    •  The CEO is a jerk who lays off my husbands’ coworkers while he sits in some shiny office making millions.
    • CEO’s are so disconnected with the workers that they don’t know and don’t care what goes on, as long as he keeps on making enough money to fly around in that private jet.
    • CEO’s spend most of their time on a boat somewhere and don’t work very hard, never did.
    • The CEO got some lucky break because somehow he’s a member of the “old boys club” and you have to be a member of that club, and be rich already, to get a job like that.

    Some truly nasty assumptions I must sa [...]

  •  Hi Ladies,

    I wanted to share this story with you. I wrote it last summer, but I think it's a good example of how not to get distracted from doing what's really important....

    So, today, I had a cancelled appointment and, thus, a spontaneous opportunity for an early afternoon Zumba class. Woohoo! Problem was, I was dressed in work clothes and no where near my home. (note to self: keep exercise clothes in car at all times) That said, I figured I could quick duck into Macy's, buy a pair of shorts that I needed for my trip anyway, grab a salad, change into my shorts (I could get away with working out in the shell-top of the outfit I was wearing), and make it to Zumba class.

    Got to Macy's and OMG.....it was the one-day sale! There were signs everywhere; 40% off, 60% off.....the cutest coordinated little outfits. And, soon I found myself holding at least 10 items of clothing on hangers. Work-out pants of all lengths, and a couple of crop-pants coordinated with pretty blouses.

    I looked [...]

  • Ok, so staying in high mental energy/high dividend business activities most of the time is feeling what I imagine driving a racecar would feel like. The speed at which I am navigating opportunities, relationships, and how I am spending my time is often frightening and also absolutely exhilerating. Wheeee!

    Have you ladies ever experienced that feeling in business?

    Here's what crashes the racecar.......low dividend activities. Anything that doesn't bring both joy and money in business. Examples include:

    • playing phone tag
    • looking for stuff you can't find
    • doing anything you're just not good at
    • listening to complaining for more than like 60 seconds

    Let's take the above examples one by one. Here's how you can keep your eyes on the road and stay on track...

    1) Instead of phone tag, leave a very specific message with a request for exact return message, send an email, or better yet, schedule a call.

    2) Organize or get one of our fabulous Savor organizing gurus to organize you [...]

  • Becoming Inaccessible

    April 17, 2012

    It’s finally happened. A personal friend of mine needed to make an appointment (with my assistant) to talk with me. And, I feel REALLY weird about it. Even a little guilty. I mean, who the heck am I that my friends have to schedule time with me through my personal assistant? (My friend was fine with it by the way and we had a great conversation.)

    It’s got me thinking….if I am a time millionaire doesn’t that mean I should have time to spare for everyone? I mean I have gobs and gobs of time, right? Yes…..and no.

    As I have been using my time wealth to grow my Time Millionaire speaking/business consulting/writing business, maintain my music academies and prepare to start a brand new venture in NYC……..and spend time with my hubby and daughter, exercise, eat right, etc….I have had to make some choices. These include and are nowhere near limited to:

    1)      Not (well, rarely)answering my cell phone(except for hubby, PA, business partner, and scheduled appointments i.e. coaching calls [...]

  • Hello Savor Sisters!

    A brief (but hopefully potent) piece of advice for you today:

    "Hang with people who light you up."

    I can't stress enough the importance of this concept for your freedom and
    your success. So, right now, think about the people in your life...your
    friends, relatives, business colleagues. Who is it that lights you up, makes
    you laugh, and every time you get together with them, you are uplifted?

    Go ahead and call them up. Make a date to get together or have a phone
    conversation. Then do the same with another person that lights you up. The
    goal is to surround yourself with these kinds of people; in business and
    life. If there aren't many people like that it your life right now, go on a
    mission to find them! When you make more and more of an effort to hang with
    people who enliven you, the people that bring you down either naturally melt
    away from your life, or you will start developing the courage to distance
    yourself from them.

    Remember, positive earns you time, negativ [...]

  • Hi Savor Sisters,

    I was thinking of you and wanted to post this. It was written last summer, and with Spring Break coming up, I thought it pertinent to help you enjoy your vacations.....

    Here it is:

    About halfway though my vacation last week, I got this disturbing thought that my business must be falling apart because my staff is announcing a price increase for the fall. I had this picture in my mind of all these irate people quitting left and right. And, who the heck was I vacationning in Disney leaving my staff behind to deal with this? Common fears I'm sure for any business owner who raises prices in any economy, let alone this one. So, not wanting these ideas to erode one further second of my awesome vacation, I put on my imaginary time millionaire hat.

    And I remembered that by worrying I was actually being arrogant. That's right; not a responsible business owner or caring employer. Arrogant. Why is that? Well, worrying implies that I am more capable, smart, resourceful, etc. [...]

  • (Part 10 of 10: "If You Mess With My Serenity You're Fired!")

    I often say to folks: concentrate on the 1% that you can control; your own actions and reactions. You want a dream team, really?? Then you have to be a dream boss. How can you do that? Give up the 3 P's of time poverty; pressure, perfectionism and people-pleasing.

    Let's tackle these one by one.
    Pressure: The type I'm speaking of occurs when you are hovering over your employees, tapping your foot anxiously, and/or asking when, when, when on a constant basis. This means that you, the boss are feeling pressured and you are projecting that on your staff. To give up pressure, you need to consider your own planning, if you've got the right person in the job, and if you do, does that person simply need training or more support? If you've given an employee training and support and they miss reasonable deadlines consistently, you've likely got the wrong fit for the job. If a deadline is missed randomly, consider it a fluke, or c [...]

  • According to many success philosophers including Jack Canfield and Les Hewitt, there are typically 3 things that any one person is so good at, it feels almost effortless. That's called your "zone of genius."

    I've identified my "zone" as motivational speaking/coaching, delegating, and building relationships.

    On the other hand, please don't ask me to touch the accounting, decorating, admin including managing complicated schedules, or getting an accurate count of any like item past ten or even managing my own money. (like with time, I earn it rather than manage it) Oh, and I was the world's worst waitress and babysitting bored the heck out of me.

    I challenge each and every one of you to discover your zone of genius and endeavor to stay in it as much as you possibly can. And strive to dump the rest.

    To illustrate the point, here are a bunch of totally fabulous things that happen when your dream team has fun doing everything that is not in your zone.
    1) You improve your bottom line. Your b [...]

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    Hello my dear Savor sisters,
    While I realize some of you have employees and some don't, if you are really using the resources you have here at Savor, you have a great product and you keep taking action accordingly, your company will most likely get to the point where you will need employees in order to grow any further.
    If you don't yet have employees, you can apply so many of these
    concepts to business relationships in general. If you do, apply direct!
    That said, do you think the title of this blog is a strange concept? Taking risks in order to motivate your dream teamers? Well, it is to me.
    However, it has proven pertinent. Please allow me to explain:
    One of the reasons I lived with so much stress for so many years in my
    business was because I failed to take the little day-to-day risks that are required to have even a modicum of serenity in business. And, as you m [...]
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    In the past, I used to look for certain traits when making my decision to hire an employee. These included:

    Great credentials
    Entrepreneurial spirit
    Excellent technical skills
    Great enthusiasm for the job at hand
    Someone who could bring in their own clients

    And, I can tell you unequivocably, I failed miserably in building a dream team based on the above characteristics. More often than not, I got serenity-busters. If you've been following my series, can you see the "prima donna" the "owner-wannabe" and the "ever innocent flake" in the above descriptions?

    And, so here is my "David Letterman" top 10 list for traits of a dream-team employee. Here goes!
    10) Cares about the way they dress
    9) Gets along well with coworkers
    8) Allows you, the owner, to be you- no criticisms
    7) Has your back. (Will make sure you don't forget stuff, and when you do, they will handle it for you.)
    6) Has hob [...]
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    I'm often asked the question, "If I have a serenity-busting employee, can they turn around?" My answer is, "Yes, but it's rare." Most of the time, problem employees are like bad boyfriends. They promise you they will change, they change for a while, then they are back to their old stuff. Or, worse. They correct the particular behavior you call them on, but then do something entirely different but equally preposterous.

    That said, with few exceptions that were very extreme cases, I always allow employees a chance to change. We are all human, after all. I follow a formal procedure of:
    1) Verbal warning
    2) Written warning (often with notice of next review)
    3) Fire if they haven't done a 180.

    In recent memory, I can think of 3 employees who were warned and did a 180. When that happens it's a joy. It's wonderful to witness transformation. Here are some commonalities of what happened fo [...]
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    One of the reasons I used to be afraid of firing anyone, no matter how much grief they were giving me, was because I thought I could get sued. Here are the issues with that:
    1) Anyone can sue anyone at any time for any reason. We business owners must make peace with that.
    2) I have realized I used to dream up unsubstantiated legalities to avoid standing up for myself. It was an excuse for me not to change.
    3) Aside from my own peace of mind as a boss and remaining on top of my own game, I must consider the well-being of the rest of my employees. When I am too "chicken" to confront and/or fire a problem employee, I am planting the seeds for resentment and disrespect from the rest of my team. It doesn't matter who the problem employee is. It could be my best friend, my spouse (yes, you heard me), my relative, my business partner, an employee with me for a long time, if they are sere [...]

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