LISTEN When Your Life Teaches You Business Lessons

In Chronicles of a CEO by Rebecca Liston


There’s a funny thing that happens in life when you start to really pay attention to things, circumstances, happenings: you notice how often your personal life and your business life run parallel to one another.

Now I’ve always — always — maintained that one cannot separate one’s “personal self” from one’s business because there is unity there. Wholism. We are “one” with our businesses because the energy of our business infuses us, and our energy infuses our businesses.

But what about the patterns and behaviours, the rhythms and the routines, the experiences in each of those parts of our lives? Could it be that they, too, mirror one another?

I happen to think that they do. All the time. It’s simply up to us to notice, and to take in the messages and apply them as they come to both facets of our lives.

So in that spirit, I find myself writing to you today about my recent experiences with online dating!

Here’s what I have noticed so far AND how it applies to business:

1. Sometimes people lie. If you aren’t 6 ft tall, just say so. Don’t wait until we meet, you stand up from your chair, and you reach my chin. This applies to business in just the same way: be honest about who you are and your credentials! Make sure that your clients know who you really are, and what they are really going to “get” when they’re involved with you.

2. Sometimes people try to sell too fast. The email from the man who didn’t bother to ask me about anything at all except my sexual preferences? Yeah, that was going a bit too far, too fast. Warm up to your audience first. Ease them into conversation. Get to know them. There’s no rush here! I’ve “dated” some of my clients for years before they became clients. We were connected on social media, they read my articles, perhaps we even met in person at an event or talk, or even had a conversation. And even then it takes time to develop into a working relationship. So don’t rush the sale! It can be off-putting, and even downright rude.

3. Sometimes people want to get married. TODAY. This is another example of needing to slow things down! It’s a bit of a different tack than the one mentioned above. This one is seen as that somewhat desperate attempt to be totally and completely hooked together instantly and forevermore. If you get a similar vibe from a client, you may want to slow it down yourself. That high-level “need” can be overwhelming and may come from a place that isn’t healthy. People that come across that way can be very challenging to work with and may not be your ideal clients (even though at first it is exciting that they want to leap up and work with you NOW NOW NOW!) Be mindful that every relationship does need to take a certain course and follow a certain pace in order that everyone be well-served.

4. Sometimes people just stop communicating with you and you’ll have no idea why. In the dating world, this seems to equate to “I may send her three messages but after that, I’m out.” And as the recipient of, and responder to, these emails, you may wonder why they suddenly cease. This happens in business, too. Someone who’s been on your email list and opened each one and read it and responded enthusiastically for three years suddenly unsubscribes. That business owner you connected with on LinkedIn that sent you some of his articles he thought you’d be interested in only to then seemingly fall off the planet six months later? Same thing. People sometimes just stop communicating with you. And it’s up to you to decide how you want to navigate that. Will you reach out to the woman who unsubscribed with a personal note or phone call? Ask her what prompted her to remove herself from your list? Was it something you said? Or will you let it go, and simply tell yourself that she’s simply “self-selecting” off your list and that’s perfectly okay? I suggest you consider a system for dealing with such occurrences so you aren’t in a situation where you react emotionally to a stop in communication. Instead, put in place a process to follow up with people if that’s your intent based on a pure customer-service model.

5. Sometimes people tell you immediately that you are not the right one for them. Listen to that. If their profile online says “I don’t date women with kids” and you have six, then you likely shouldn’t bother to email the man. Same thing in business. If someone reaches out and says, “Hey, I am looking for a plumber who specializes in hot tub installation” and you’re a carpenter, then that seems pretty obvious that you should refer this person elsewhere. But let’s take this example one step further even. Maybe you actually are a plumber but you’ve only ever installed one kind of hot tub, once, about 15 years ago. So in that case, what do you do? Ethically I think you’ve a responsibility to ask some questions about the hot tub they are looking to have installed. Is it the one you’re familiar with? Can you educate yourself well enough to do a good job? If in doubt, refer it out! (Hey, that’s kind of catchy!)

6. Sometimes people are exactly who they say they are. “45, boyish charm, outdoors guy” shows up in a ripped t-shirt and jeans in his jeep with the kayak on the roof rack? Perfect. Exactly what I was expecting. “53, singer, performer, love my dog” sends you a video recording of him playing the guitar and belting out a tune while the dog races around in the background? That’s the way it should be! And this, THIS, is where the gold is! Take a look at how you’ve branded your business and your own self. Do you show up the way that people would expect? If your brand is all rhinestones and glitter and you come to meet me in sweats and a hoodie, there’s a disconnect. And when there’s a disconnect like that right from the beginning, then it’s much more difficult to build trust. Be honest about who you are but then show up honestly, too. Make it easy for customers to trust you. This leads to a much shorter sales cycle, and a much better relationship over the long-term.

These are but a few of the gems that life has been teaching me about business these days. It’s been quite fascinating for sure! But the most interesting piece is this: in both my in-person dealings with “dates” and my recent in-person business networking meetings, I have had tremendous success. Again, my experiences are parallel to one another. In just the last few weeks alone, I’ve had the pleasure and the privilege of meeting some of the most amazing people in this community and beyond!

So if you, like I, are focusing on connections for 2016, keep some of the above examples in mind. And share your stories with us, too! Because when one of us learns, we all learn. And all of our “lessons” are better when shared.

Big love,



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Rebecca Liston helps her clients predict, pivot, and compete in an increasingly complex global marketplace. Her clients quickly uncover the root of their challenges and know the actions to take to overcome them. A six-time nominee for the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur Award, Rebecca combines business strategy with intuition, giving her clients the edge on forward-thinking, elegant answers to their most complicated problems. Her clients are entrepreneurs with CEO-mindsets and executives with entrepreneurial instincts. She is based in London, Ontario. What if you could get the answer to your biggest business challenge, in one sitting? Visit to find out more.