All too often entrepreneurs and business owners who are going for big goals are driving, pushing, and exerting great effort. If you’re not in kick-butt mode you feel like you’re doing nothing. But there is a state that is called flow when everything seems to unfold without you being there to push it. I’m always looking to achieve greater balance between those two extreme poles of existence. This quest led me to Theo Prodromitis, an award-winning entrepreneur, Amazon Seller, marketing strategist, philanthropist and Greek mom. As the CEO and co-founder of Spa Destinations and CEO of Out Front Brands, she definitely understands the hustle and I couldn’t wait to hear her perspective on adding in flow too to achieve that great entrepreneurial balance.
Theo has been featured in the Small Business Journal on International Women’s Day, Business News Daily, the Tampa Bay Times and on Bay News 9, ABC Action News, FOX 13 and NBC and in the Money section of USA Today. In addition to those guest appearances, it was a pleasure to have her accompany me on my Now to Next podcast to share how she helps driven people find balance in their extremely busy lives which she has written about in her new book The Balance Between Hustle & Flow.
Marry Three Actions With Three Insights
Taking charge, pounding things through, driving success is pretty much the M.O. of most entrepreneurs out to achieve their dreams and goals. But this kind of behavior is not balanced and can lead to exhaustion and burn out. So I jumped right into the discussion with Theo by asking how she would suggest when to drive (hustle) and when to let things happen (flow) in order to achieve a greater sense of balance. And, more importantly, how to get into that state of flow. Her pragmatic response involved outer action married with inner action.
To find balance in the course of goal achievement, Theo suggests coming up with three bold actions you want to take. Then, before jumping into those actions, she suggests asking three questions about those three desired actions that will lead to insights. Insights lead to flow. Insights lead to the place where you can let things happen instead of making things happen. Asking directed questions about the actions you want to take leads to insights and flow, which as Theo points out, is not stasis, it’s not staying still. Asking questions is proactive which leads to insights which leads to flow which leads to the balance that no amount of continuous hustle can bring. If you never stop taking actions you don’t leave room for any response to the actions you’ve taken.
Passion Dissipates Any Concept Of Time
So many people ask about passion. It seems to be so elusive. They want to know how to find their passion and how to identify their passion. Passion is the Holy Grail. It’s the driver. When you have passion for something, all concept of time disappears when you’re doing the thing you’re passionate about. That’s how you know you have passion for something. Theo used the example of apples. “What if every time you see an apple, your heart sings?” she said. What if the smell of apples sends you over the moon? Someone would call you nuts for pursuing your love of apples. Someone would very likely attempt to persuade you in another direction. If you lose all concept of time and have endless ideas about what to do with apples, follow your dream, follow your passion, no matter how absurd it seems to others.
One reason passion is so elusive is because so many people are pursuing dreams that are not their dreams. They are pursuing the dreams of parents or others who want to influence who you are and who you should be. So make sure your dreams are yours and you’re not just attempting to fulfill someone’s dream for you. Your dreams and skillsets were given to you and are unique to you.
A Tip To Nip Negative Emotions In The Bud
Let’s face it, we all have good days and days when we feel a bit out of sorts. When feeling anxious and you recognize that for some reason you are feeling negative and you’re not sure why how do you handle it? How do you get yourself back into a good feeling state? Did you just get a negative text, did someone say something negative that you were not aware of? I asked Theo what she would suggest when someone finds themselves in a bit of a negative state. She introduced the concept of ‘micro-strategies.’ Micro-strategies nip negativity in the bud. This is how they work. You stop whatever you are doing when you recognize you are in a negative state and you deliberately turn your attention to something that will shift your emotional state and brings you joy. Look at a picture of your kids, jump up and down. Develop some action that is just yours. Something that snaps you out of the negative emotional state and into one of joy. When you develop the discipline and your own micro-strategies to shift your emotions, you become aware of negativity more quickly and put a stop to it, so it won’t escalate.
Respond To Negativity With Neutrality
Another question that I had for Theo involved responding to others who are negative or speak negatively or are just plain rude. Being around negativity can lead to those feelings we discussed earlier. Theo suggested developing the ability to disconnect from the natural instinct to want to fight back or make the negative person ‘wrong.’ Instead she suggests responding to their negativity with neutrality. She will often simply say, “Oh, that’s interesting.” A neutral response doesn’t give the other person the opening to go on. In fact, they often will try to back pedal.
Lessons Learned From The Family Business
Theo learned business from her family. I was curious to know some of the lingering lessons she gathered early on that she continues to use today. She shared three amazing lessons. First she explained, “play the long game.” This, she says takes away any sense of urgency that you have to make the sale. You know you’re in it, so make connections for the long game.
The next lesson Theo shared is “always create value.” It’s not about selling something to somebody, it’s about revealing what it is they need and how you can help them get what they need. The third lesson is one of Theo’s favorites. It’s that nothing happens until somebody sells something. Theo loves sales and all three lessons she learned in the family business are things she employs every day. She creates long-term relationships by playing the long game. She always create and adds more value, and she helps reveal what people want and need which ultimately results in sales with integrity.
Hustling is more natural to entrepreneurs and business owners but learning how to develop and allow the natural flow of events creates a greater sense of balance which sets the stage for greater creativity and productivity. To catch the full interview I had with Theo, you can listen to it on your favorite podcast listening platform. And of course, you can always reach out to me directly with any questions you might have!