Category Archives: Young Professional

A Time of Transition By Evan Shirreffs

A Time of Transition – It’s OK to Take a Break By Evan Shirreffs

There is a reason the United States has the largest economy in the world. We work harder than anyone. There is also a reason we have a mental health crisis that is affecting 1 in 5 adults, nearly 50 million people. One of the contributors is our results-oriented society. Instead of falling in love with how things are done, we fall in love with simply getting things done. Whether it’s studying for a test or reaching a quota set by an employer, the satisfaction is short-lived for the amount of stress put into reaching the end goal. It wears us down because school and work gradually become viewed as a task instead of an opportunity. We look to the future for happiness and build these elaborate plans for our lives that become less realistic as time passes. We work towards a certain degree or job because we expect it to yield a favorable outcome that will in turn make our lives better. What we do not realize is that in doing so, our jobs become our lives. Why then would I even consider following a career path that is destined to become my life if the work involved isn’t something I am prepared to mold my life around?

In December, two major seasons of my life came to an end: school and my football career. Both dominated my life since I was a child, which left me wondering what might fill their voids on my list of priorities. Throughout our schooling and upbringing, we are taught that there is usually one proper way to do things. For me, this would mean searching for and starting a job as soon as possible to guarantee there would be no gaps on my resume and a steady stream of income to begin my business career. At the time, rushing into a job just didn’t feel right.

The truth is, all I was worried about for the last few years was training for football and completing my MBA program. I had no plan for how I would even apply my MBA to a career; I simply knew that having another degree would add to my value in the eyes of potential employers. Many people advised me to secure a job before finishing school. Ironically, much of this advice was coming from people who currently hated their jobs, so why would I listen to them? I was burned out from college football and knew that if I started a job in January, I would work myself into the ground. With employers pressuring me to start work following graduation without any real knowledge of what any of the jobs might entail, I felt a bit trapped.

Instead of accepting a position just to have a job, I decided to buy a one-way ticket halfway across the world. Australia would be my home for the next few months. I worked cash jobs for spending money and stayed in hostels with 10 different people every night. My 15-pound youth backpack was my only companion as I hopped on greyhound buses to get from place to place. For the majority of my life, I had planned my next move before finishing my last, so living day-to-day with no solid plan was a completely foreign idea to me. My world was turned upside down.

I soon found that I had no place in the hierarchy of society. I was no longer a football player or a grad student. I had no standards or expectations established for me by other people, meaning that there was no end result to work towards. I was simply a kid from America trying to find his way. There was something freeing in that.

Don’t get me wrong, it was tough. The time had finally come to think about past experiences, relationships, and mistakes I had made. It was a time of reflection that was long overdue. With everything I had been through over the years, I had bottled up a lot of issues because I just didn’t have the time to deal with them. Looking at myself in the mirror and truly analyzing my actions helped me discover a lot about myself.

Not only did I get to experience life on my own, but I got to hear about other travelers’ stories. I met people from all over the world: New Zealand, Ecuador, the UK, Canada, Germany, Spain, the list goes on. I found that Germans are serious in all aspects of life until they’ve had a few beers. Canadians are in fact the kindest, most agreeable people on this Earth. Australians love life because they don’t spend it indoors aimlessly scrolling through social media; instead, they explore and try new things. Through comparing my experiences and upbringing to others’, I realized that there is no perfect way to do things. There are endless solutions to every problem, it is just our choice to figure out which solution best answers the problem for our specific needs.

Sometimes you have to take a few steps back before a huge leap forward. Whether it is from high school to college, college to a job, or one job to another one, we are wired to rush from opportunity to opportunity without even batting an eye. We refrain from taking time off for no reason other than to save face when people ask us what we are up to. I was a bum for two months and I needed that. I needed to learn how to live on my own and appreciate the blessings I had taken for granted my whole life. Maybe travelling isn’t your thing. Maybe you’d prefer hiking or art or music or reading. Take some time to get out into the world and live on your own terms between these monumental seasons of life. Make those memories for yourself so your only stories for your grandkids aren’t about the time you watched an incredible video that someone else made while you sat on your couch. I’m not promising that this will cure everything you are going through, but I will say that it was a step towards finding joy in my life. It worked for me to clear my mind, realign my priorities, and reignite the passion for my dreams that every worry-free kid is born with. Go be a kid!

The WIMS Guide Video Ep.11 Cali Trip and More

The WIMS Guide Video Ep.11 – Cali Trip & More

The WIMS Guide Video Edition is Back! I’m in Cali for the next two weeks. We came out here to close out my wife’s maternity leave with a little business and a little pleasure spending time with family and friends.

Today’s video I mainly focus on where I’m at her in Cali with a call to action for any potential meetups, introductions, connections, etc. I’ll be in Southern California until Sunday, February 23rd so please feel free to reach out!

The other topic is the Charlotte event I’m hosting on Thursday March 12th. I’m putting on an event for Charlotte’s best and brightest while also celebrating 6 years in business for WIMS Consulting. The event is open so please feel free to bring a friend!

After some extended time grinding in Charlotte for about 5 weeks, I head back down to Miami for the eMerge Americas conference. If you do any business in Miami of Latin America you’ve got to make it down here for this. It’s one of my favorites and I make it down every year specifically for it. Some friends and I are also going to plan a mastermind/meet up for those in town, we’ll share the details on that soon.

Also, I’m still putting together the content plan and doing outreach for additional posts and videos, etc. so if you’re interested in spreading the word about a specific business topic, your personal/business brand, etc. let me know!

Lastly, we’re going back to some of the CRM and business development topics we’ve been working through but I’m going to start adding a lot more structure and even a curriculum as well.

Thank you for your time, attention and support as always!

-Mike

The WIMS Guide Video Edition will focus on business topics such as Entrepreneurship, CRM, Marketing, Sales, B2B, Business Development, Web Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and much much more. To learn more about Mike Simmons and his company WIMS Consulting, click here. 

The WIMS Guide Video Ep. 9 Miami Monday

The WIMS Guide Video Ep. 9 – Miami Monday

It’s Miami Monday!! Just arrived in the Magic City and I have an action packed week on deck.

Meetings with investors, clients, prospects, referral sources, friends, etc. Planning to hit a few networking events as well with the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and Miami Finance Forum among others as well. Not too mention have to keep up this routine and the gym streak. It’s going to be absolute chaos in the best way.

Industries I’m working with and targeting: Legal, Commercial Real Estate, Accounting, Finance, Tech, Health Care, and professional services are the primary on this trip.

My company is also launching a major campaign surrounding private equity, venture capital, family office, investment banking, and financial institutions who maintain equity stakes in a variety of portfolio companies. In conjunction with some key partners we’re putting together an awesome value proposition to not only help increase revenue via sales and marketing, but also streamline the accounting and finance functions as well all in a consolidated fashion. Much more to come, but this week really kicks off some of the necessary meetings needed before launch.

If you’re in town and want to try and get together definitely reach out!

-Mike

The WIMS Guide Video Edition will focus on business topics such as Entrepreneurship, CRM, Marketing, Sales, B2B, Business Development, Web Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and much much more. To learn more about Mike Simmons and his company WIMS Consulting, click here. 

The WIMS Guide Video Ep. 8 Call to Action Friday

The WIMS Guide Video Ep. 8 – Call to Action Friday

Getting this in a little last minute today but keeping the streak alive nonetheless! Still in the mountains of Banner Elk, NC and wrapping up Day 14 of the fitness streak (only 90 more to go yet to meet my goal).

Again taking a bit of a detour with something that I make more of a thing going forward: Call to Action Friday. Wanted to shout out that I’ll be back down in Miami all next week. The schedule is already packed with client meetings, prospect meetings, networking events, and much more. I’ve said many times I’m ALL IN on growing the business more and more down there and this is another major step in the right direction. I still have some availability left but even if we’re not able to meet in person this trip please reach out and let’s at least set up a call and make a plan for the next time as I’ll certainly be back often!

Also, I’m still continuing to seek more and more content from entrepreneurs and professionals who are looking to create more whether written or video. If that’s a part of your strategy for the year please reach out and we’ll get something going.

Thanks for the attention while I keep getting these reps in and have a great weekend!

-Mike

The WIMS Guide Video Edition will focus on business topics such as Entrepreneurship, CRM, Marketing, Sales, B2B, Business Development, Web Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and much much more. To learn more about Mike Simmons and his company WIMS Consulting, click here. 

The WIMS Guide Video Ep. 6 CRM

The WIMS Guide Ep. 6 – CRM: The A-Team

If you’re following along (if not that’s ok too) today we’re talking about what you do as the next step in launching or redeploying your CRM. You’re going to focus solely on the A players for now. The main thing that is going to create momentum and keep you using the system is achieving ROI as quickly as possible. That’s the main benefit you want out of this and thus its the primary goal.

The quickest way to get there is prioritizing the A players first, aka your best clients and prospects. So after you’ve got the data, context, and all the other appropriate information about them in there you’re then going to focus on doing something about it.

You’re going to pick these people and go through them and schedule/pre-plan your out reach and follow up strategy. You’re going to leverage the task list, the calendar, reminders, etc. to layout the timing and content with which you’re going to conduct your outreach. And you’re going to leverage the CRM to systematize/automate it and take out the human element (somewhat, but not entirely).

By now you should have some sort of script that articulates your value proposition well along with a deck or brochure. Pre-schedule your follow up, and do between 3-7 touch points to make sure you see it through. Once you close the deal you can eliminate the subsequent steps as they’re convert. Put the email script in there, add some customized talking points, context, recall a funny joke or something they care about and set the entire campaign up in one shot.

The feeling you’ll get knowing this has been accomplished is going to propel you forward and create an invaluable supplement to your day to day activities. Give it a shot and let me know if you need any assistance.

-Mike

The WIMS Guide Video Edition will focus on business topics such as Entrepreneurship, CRM, Marketing, Sales, B2B, Business Development, Web Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and much much more. To learn more about Mike Simmons and his company WIMS Consulting, click here. 

The WIMS Guide Video Ep. 4 CRM

The WIMS Guide Ep. 4 (Intro to CRM) – For Entrepreneurs and Professionals Focused on the Journey

Today we’re going to cover a brief intro to CRM (Customer Relationship Management) for those who don’t know what it is, and for those that do, I just go into some quick initial steps to consider taking if you’ve been apprehensive thus far. I know it can be tedious to set up and maintain but the ROI is incredible if deployed correctly.

It’s really mind blowing to me how much resistance there still is out there. Frankly, it’s like turning down a superpower. If you want a little help or guidance please reach out! Whether you’re starting from scratch, converting an Excel File/Google Sheet, or you’ve been using a CRM for a while but are stuck in a rut, WIMS Consulting can help you take it to the next level.

In summary, my favorite/recommended platforms are:

Track your leads and prospects from website/marketing, intros from referral sources, lead generation, sales cycle, your existing customers and deal flow, etc.

  • Sync email, whether Outlook/Gmail
  • Sync Email Marketing: MailChimp/Constant Contact
  • Sync Social Media Accounts
  • Card Scanner app to streamline uploading business cards and converting them directly into contacts.

I’ll make sure to keep adding more and more value on how to continue leveling up your CRM and sales game throughout the year. Much more to come!

-Mike

The WIMS Guide Video Edition will focus on business topics such as Entrepreneurship, CRM, Marketing, Sales, B2B, Business Development, Web Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and much much more. To learn more about Mike Simmons and his company WIMS Consulting, click here. 

The WIMS Guide Video Edition

The WIMS Guide Video Edition Ep. 1

Happy New Year and welcome to the new decade! After about 50 takes I figured what the heck, let’s just launch this thing. It’s raw and vulnerable, warts and all. Clearly I need a media training refresher from my wife who is a former TV reporter. But that’s ok, the polish will come later with practice and reps.

Without further ado, coming to you from the WIMS, Inc. War Room it’s The WIMS Guide video edition! I’ve procrastinated for years now on doing video content as surprisingly, it may be the one area I’m a little self-conscious. But that’s also why I needed to just put myself out there and DO it already. So here we are.

I definitely cringed a little (ok a lot) watching the play back, but I will absolutely get better. I’ll begin conveying my thoughts my clearly and concisely. But if you could give your boy a little grace here in the beginning, I’d appreciate it. Or don’t, feel free to roast me too I can take it.

As the blog this is meant to be about the never ending/ongoing journey of business, entrepreneurship, professional development and much more. I’m going to try to provide you with as much value as I can through the insights gained from running my companies, WIMS Consulting, EolianVR, and ARRE (along with perspective and experience gleaned from dozens of clients across a variety of industries and sizes). But I also want to learn more from you too, and even build a community around our shared insights and experiences.

My goal isn’t to build a Gary V or Grant Cardone or Ed Mylett style vlog. It’s to just force myself to get better, get out of my comfort zone, and try to serve my community in any way I can. That’s really all I can hope for. It could last a week, or a decade, we’ll see…

Here goes nothing!

 

The WIMS Guide Video Edition will focus on business topics such as Entrepreneurship, CRM, Marketing, Sales, B2B, Business Development, Web Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and much much more. To learn more about Mike Simmons and his company WIMS Consulting, click here. 

Q4 Finish Like a Savage Prep for 2020

STILL PLENTY OF TIME IN Q4: FINISH LIKE A SAVAGE & PREPARE FOR 2020 DOMINATION!

There’s something about Q4 that is always exhilarating to me. Knowing that “the game” is coming to an end, each and every play is more significant, there’s less margin for error. Perform well during this time and you can make up for a lot of previous mistakes and setbacks along the way. Let up or fumble the ball, and you can destroy all the momentum you made thus far. No pressure, right?

All of this is going on while simultaneously a new game is going to begin soon thereafter. Endings are always thrilling, but so are new beginnings after all. The new year coming up is especially enticing. Not only is it a new year, but it’s a whole new DECADE. The freaking Roaring 2020’s are upon us.

Despite the hectic grind I’ve been on lately (pretty perpetual at this point, but even crazier with baby #2 arriving very soon), I wanted to take a little time to revisit and write up a quick/updated “Q4 Manifesto” which is mostly for myself, but then I decided to add a few extra tips for you too, primarily applicable to both your business and professional life.

  • Don’t wait for January 1st to start your New Year’s Resolutions, now’s as good a time as any. It’s a misguided practice that usually doesn’t end well anyway. You don’t need an arbitrary start date to work on self-improvement, that should be a daily practice as it is. Why not start right now?
  • Get AGGRESSIVE – Close out ALL of those pending dream deals that have been lingering. Do much more outreach and lead generation. Don’t dwell on whether you’re annoying people or assume that they already have an expert helping them that does what you do. Push harder!
  • Try not to eat and drink everything in sight just because it’s the holidays. Maintain (or in some cases start) your workout routine consistently and only indulge occasionally. It’s especially tough given all the parties and networking events, but some balance now will spare you later.
  • Enjoy time with my family and friends and BE PRESENT. Don’t spend that precious time distracted with your head in the clouds and worrying about things that are out of your control.
  • Debrief/Reflect on the past year. What worked, what didn’t, what do you need to improve upon? Lay it all out objectively and identify opportunities to get better. While this may seem obvious, it’s crucial.
  • Strategize for 2020 (and beyond) now. Spend an appropriate amount of time writing out specific goals, sketching out project plans, and dreaming big. It’s rare that a whole new decade is about to start so let your imagination run a little wild to kick things off. From there be mindful, thoughtful, deliberate, and thorough enough to also make your plan realistic while still stretching yourself. Once this exercise is completed, start working on implementing that strategy ASAP to carry some momentum with you.
  • Add appointments to your 2020 calendar (monthly/quarterly, etc.) now to make sure you schedule the time to reflect on your progress and measure where you’re at along the way to ensure you continuously improve.

A few specifically for you:

  • Get and implement a CRM already! Seriously, how many times do I have to say it? If you need to spend some time asking a few questions on how to get started, reach out to me, that part is, and always will be, on the house.
  • Start a blog, a podcastvideo/webinar series, whatever. Leverage content marketing to develop and enhance your brand and get your business’ name out there.
  • Finally start that business you’ve been day dreaming about for years now.
  • Or at least start working on that side hustle you’ve been planning.
  • Identify an organization you’re interested in and get involved in the community. This could be philanthropic or civic, doesn’t matter as much as simply taking action and giving back.

I’m sure there are plenty others I’m forgetting. And I will likely revisit this some more over the next few months to continue tweaking it.

What are some of your Q4 goals? What about your 2020 goals? How can I help you achieve them? Please let me know, would love to hear from you!

Improving with Kaizen

Improving with Kaizen

I have already highlighted some agile practices which can be used to enhance your personal and professional lives. From Kanban Boards to agile meetings, companies and individuals are being incorporated by thought leaders and managers at large and small organizations around the world. Kaizen is an approach to continual improvement which like Kanban originated in lean manufacturing practices in Japan in the 1950s.

 

The core to embracing Kaizen is to focus on continual improvements across all elements of the specific area which you are attempting to improve. If you are working on a team tasked with improving the user interface for a new mobile application for a volunteer organization a good place to begin would be to identify possible opportunities. Using this example will show how the focus and power of Kaizen is on being able to focus on specific aspects of a large process to improve the overall standing of the organization.

 

Identifying Opportunities  

Improvements begin with taking ideas and turning them into simple actions. The first step in gaining an understanding of how to improve a process is to understand the basic functionality of the task or process at hand. When applying Kaizen to work situations the place to begin is to understand the business process.

For our example of improving an existing mobile app, the focus should be on the existing business process and how the new roll out of the application fits into the organization’s overall strategy. The new application should be easy to use while conveying the core mission of the organization. This means that the aligning of strategic decision making means a new product or software update goes beyond developing software and aligns all business function in projects to ensure they are vital to the mission and values.

 

Collaboration

Actions are not siloed but must be collaborative between functional groups within any organization and often the best solutions come from collaborations between different organizations. Working on a shared goal will look different for every team and every circumstance/project will be unique but some lessons from Kaizen can direct teams to focus on specific areas of improvement and reap the rewards of focused collaboration. A good direction to follow on getting to the core of problems is by undertaking a root cause analysis. Through asking a series of questions to find the main cause of the problem at hand instead of merely patching problems through short term fixes.

 

Root Cause Analysis

Do you ever have a problem that constantly arises regardless of how many times you try to do little changes to fix it?

If this is the case conducting a root cause analysis may be in your future.

The purpose of a root cause analysis is to find the actual cause of a problem which in many cases is not visible on the surface. This requires asking many questions and getting to the cause of a problem instead of focusing on the symptoms that cause uncertainty. This process requires deep reflection and thoughtfulness to determine and focus in on the underlying causes of problems.

 

What this means

A nice feature of Kaizen is that it is an intuitive practice that many people already participate in without even knowing it. Asking more questions and being able to come to a collective agreement to improve the situation of your organization is a key outcome of Kaizen. This practice can additionally be used in your personal life to improve your relationships, career aspirations, and even improving home projects and chores. Revisit your own situation and see if there is any place that you can improve and begin asking questions to identify the root cause of the problem and make a plan to improve your outlook on life.

Charlotte Fall Updates

Charlotte in Fall

As the calendar has turned to October the temperatures in Charlotte are finally cooling off slightly after some record heat through September. While the weather may be cooling down and the fall spirit is spreading from Ballantyne to Belmont the business community around the Queen City is staying busy. Cranes can be seen all around the city and the roads are packed with dump trucks and construction vehicles. The real estate market is continuing to be very active as new residents continue to move into the Charlotte area and millennials embark on their first home buying purchase. Technology jobs are expanding across Charlotte bringing high paying jobs to the city and diversifying the entire regional economy. As job growth continues the real estate market in Charlotte is becoming one of the hottest real estate markets in the country. As an increased number of jobs are being created and the major infrastructure investments are made across the region the area is striving to move forward and be positioned for the economy of the future. While challenges including access to affordable housing and congestion exist the improvements and efforts of public and private leaders across the Charlotte region are addressing critical issues and moving the city towards a brighter future.

 

A Southern Tech Hub

Charlotte is expanding beyond being more than a financial services hub, it is becoming a major destination for tech talent. The CompTIA Tech Town Index 2018 ranked Charlotte as the best city to embark on a technology career. The lower cost of living, 1.3% below the national average make Charlotte a desirable place to move, begin a family and purchase a home. The cost of living is particularly more affordable than other tech hubs including the Bay Area, New York, and Boston.

Many workers from the Midwest and Northeast are relocating to Charlotte to settle down in a place with lower taxes and an abundance of recreational activities to supplement career growth. The projected number of openings over the next five years in the tech sector is a steady 11% showing how the growth in the Charlotte tech sector is here to stay. Many Charlotte companies desire tech workers including some of the largest regional job creators including major banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America. Mooresville, NC based Lowe’s is opening a tech hub in the South End neighborhood of Charlotte bringing 2,000 jobs by 2021. This favorable job growth is spilling into the real estate market which consistently ranks as the one of the most active markets in the US.

 

Real Estate

The Charlotte real estate market was ranked fourth in the 41st annual Emerging Trends in Real Estate behind only Raleigh-Durham, Austin, and Nashville. The metrics from this report combine tech jobs to real estate investments in determining the rankings. The ranking of fourth marks a move from ninth in the 2018 report showing how the Charlotte real estate market is heating up. Some of the insight from the report also highlighted how strong home building prospects are in Charlotte, ranking second in 2019 up from fourth in 2018. The ability to attract technology and manufacturing to diversify beyond financial services is another factor driving regional growth and helping the housing market. Investments in infrastructure projects have provided additional benefits to improving desirability to Charlotte including improvements at Charlotte Douglas International Airport and an expanding Light Rail system. Along with massive success comes some growing pains and Charlotte, like many other Sunbelt cities, is feeling some residual effects of growth. These include higher housing costs, additional roadway infrastructure projects, and a need to improve stormwater systems. All things considered the real estate market is continuing to be very active, attracting 1.2% of US real estate investments from 2016-2019 while accounting for only 0.8% of the nation’s population. As additional companies  relocate to Charlotte and retirees move to the desirable Carolina climate and tax situation additional single-family homes, apartments, and townhouses will be needed to handle continued housing demands.

 

Relocations and Expansion

Over the past 12 months multiple companies have announced major relocation projects. The Charlotte Regional Business Alliance has been working with local and state officials in South Carolina and North Carolina to attract companies to expand current business operations, open regional offices, or relocate their headquarters to the regions. Some recent projects which have created new jobs across the region include Honeywell, which has relocated their headquarters to Charlotte in a move expected to create over 750 jobs.

These jobs along with new jobs from Lowe’s and a continued presence by Duke Energy, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo mean some of the world’s largest companies have a major presence in Charlotte. Beyond these firms the startup community in Charlotte is growing with recent expansions coming from AvidXchange who is planning to grow to accommodate 1,200 new employees. This diverse economic landscape allows Charlotte to grow beyond traditional financial services institutions while utilizing the skills of the regions highly skilled workforce.

 

 

WIMS Partners

The WIMS team has a robust and expanding presence in Charlotte utilizing the skills of partners. As we continue to grow, we are always looking for new partners and if you believe you can grow with us, we want to hear from you to see if opportunities exist. With the continued growth of WIMS it is exciting to see the city and region around us changing and growing.

 

Concluding thoughts

Charlotte has established itself as a major economic powerhouse in the Southeast that is seeing increased investment and interest on a regional, national, and international scene. As companies continue their planning for 2020 and beyond, many in the Charlotte region continue to grow towards an even brighter future. The institutions in the city through public private partnerships are investing in the city’s institutions to continue to encourage investment and relocations to Charlotte. By focusing on sustaining growth and creating a better region for the future, Charlotte is positioning itself for long term success moving up the ranking of best places to live as the quality of life in greater Charlotte region continues to improve.