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Why I Teach Millennials Email

August 27, 2014

I hear it all of the time from recent college grads…confusion over how best to manage their email, how best to communicate using email, how to fit in the business world where our communication resolves around email. 

They aren’t prepared.

We shouldn’t expect them to be. 

Many things are taught in college, but a session or class on email is not one of them.  If we aren’t prepared to show them how best to use it, leverage it, and control it, email will control them.  They will become that 30 or 40 year old who hates email because it never ends, it won’t go away and they can’t get it under control.

So while the PEW Research center talks about the decreasing trend of teenager email usage, the business community has to understand that we need to prepare our college students and new hires on how to use email.  It is not a part of their vocabulary or skill repertoire.  To a Millennial – having the email app on their phone is not nearly as important as the ability to text or have Instagram, Twitter, or the SnapChat app installed.  Because text messaging and social media is how they communicate with friends, family and their professors (my students are more likely to text me than email me).  They are certainly wired to understand email we just have to give them the tools.  But just because our Millennials are digital natives doesn’t mean they should be expected to “figure email out” on their own. 

And before you say it – yes – Millennials do have exposure to email.  They probably have some experience with Gmail, Yahoo or their school email system.  But exposure to and limited experience with the beast that is email is different than having an email address you give to J. Crew or Banana Republic to receive sale notices.   

We have to be proactive in teaching them the best way to communicate via email (not the same as text messaging), how to leverage the folders and task list, and how to set up rules that make their inbox do some of the work.  We also have to help them to discern when you email and when you get up and go talk to the other person.  Helping our younger employees overcome the ‘email divide’ is one of the easiest training you could ever deploy and in doing so they will become more productive.  Helping someone become more productive is a wonderful gift. 

Here’s to your employees becoming their productive selves!

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Conversations, Actions and Results

April 16, 2014

“The conversations we have

drive the actions we take

that lead to the results we achieve.”

-Dr. John Bennett

I have found that this quote perfectly sums up why my clients work with me…they are ready for things to be different, to feel different. They are ready to start down a path of accomplishing a goal, having a BREAKOUT year, or finally taking control of their days (and their email) in a way they haven’t tried before. In reality this quote drives home the point as to why anyone decides to work with a professional to help themselves improve, whether that is with a business coach, personal trainer or therapist. For the most part my clients know what they need to do but sometimes they need direction and expertise and almost always…a push on the execution phase.

Second quarter is upon us…first quarter of 2014 is done and gone. You can’t get it back and you can’t have a do over. So how is your year shaping up? I encourage you to take a moment (especially since tax day is behind us) and think about what you want to accomplish this quarter. Using the periodization model, each quarter – or 12 week period – is treated like a year itself. So if 2014 actually ended on June 30, what will you do differently, what would you push into overdrive, what would become a priority that is not?

Let’s make second quarter the best it can be…especially before beach vacations, tee times and the pool start competing for your attention.

You can do it! And if it is time for you to make more money and find more time…let me know.

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The Real Definition of a To Do List

March 27, 2014

The “To Do” list.

You either love it or hate it…or maybe you just loath it.  If  you are a planner – you’ve never met a to do list you didn’t love.  But if being an organized, sequential, detail thinking planner is not your thing…well then, you may just loath the idea of a to do list.

I’d like to change that.

Your brain was built to interact with ideas, not store them.  It does not make sense to use your magnificent brain to remember “to send Sally that email,” “call Carl back” and “oh, don’t forget the milk on your way home.”  What a waste of prime, precious real estate.  Your brain may be little – weighing in at only 2% of your body weight – but it takes 20 to 30% of your calories and 20% of your oxygen (according to The Daniel Plan and other brain research).  Though it may be little, your brain is mighty.

So why do we treat it like it is not important?  Using your brain to “remember milk” is insulting when it is desperately wanting to think, ponder,  create, innovate and give you great ideas.  Ever thought about where you are when your great ideas hit…how about in the shower, on a walk, sitting quietly, working out, playing with your kid or pet?  It is never at work when you are locked to your desk, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.  Your brain will work the way it wants to when it finds the space to do so, even if you don’t give it the space, it’ll just take it.

Which brings me back to the point of this post.  What is the real definition of a To Do list?  It is to capture what you need to do, want to do and don’t want to forget to do.  But with everything on one list it can be overwhelming and scary which is why so many don’t spend the time creating a To Do list.  The point is to create a To Do list that works for you.  Your To Do should be the place where everything goes that needs to get done, but that doesn’t mean you need to get it done the minute you create the list.  I coach my clients to consider different kinds of To Do lists…one for today’s or tomorrow’s  priorities, one for longer term projects you don’t want to forget about and a list of the things you will eventually get around to doing (though maybe not).  The point is you captured the idea. Because the ultimate goal is capturing the information…once the idea is down on paper and out of your brain you can stop thinking about it.  The space that “finalize marketing plan” was taking up in your brain is now released and room is made to think.

Working with one of my clients recently on her To Do list reminded me how a true creative, right brain phenomenal woman viewed “The List” and the creation of “The List.”  So I challenged her to see her To Do list different…just a place to capture all you want to do so you can decide when things will get done, on which timeline and in which order.  There are so many options when it comes to creating a To Do list and I don’t want to overwhelm you with the possibilities because your list needs to be a reflection of you.  But start by capturing all the “things” that are swimming around in your head and then categorize them by deadline…tomorrow, next week, next month, next quarter, next year, maybe never.  Then focus on working daily with the “tomorrow” and “next week” list to figure out when you can accomplish the items.  One great daily To Do list that I enjoy using is the 1-3-5 rule.  It says that on any given day I can accomplish one big item (like writing this post), 3 medium items, and 5 smaller items when considering the number of meetings, client sessions and networking events I have.  I can accomplish more of course when there is less on the calendar.  You can read more and download a printed template of the 1-3-5 list (if analog is your preference) here!  (Thanks Daily Muse for the great idea).

Your To Do list should set you free…not hold you prisoner.  You control your list, you are in charge and the list is just there to capture all the great things you are going to do!

So go create your To Do list and Take Control of Your Day!

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Networking Gone Wrong

March 7, 2014

Recently I attended two networking events and witnessed networking attempts that did not produce the desired result.  While they were not disasters they did strike me as such a waste of time (and money) for the people who did not leverage the opportunity to network correctly. And if you know me you know I am not a big fan of time wasting (probably a reason I am a time efficiency coach).  I felt compelled to write about it because we all can use a reminder of how best to network because networking is an art form.  Showing up with a go-giver mentality, being authentic and understanding how to have a relaxed, not forced, conversation are skills that can be developed.  After these two experiences I reached out to my friend and colleague Terri DeBoo of Ideas at Work.  She provided me with her Top 10 Networking Tips.   Two of her tips apply perfectly to the experiences I endured and witnessed.

First experience: After I gave the keynote address at one event a gentleman approached me as I was leaving the stage and handed me his business card.  He then proceeded to tell me what he did and how he can help me.  He encouraged me many times to check out his website to see how I could benefit from him and his company.  He was very kind but the conversation was all about him and he never asked what I did to clearly understand if I would even be interested in learning more about him.  Consider Terri’s tip #6 and tip #7…

6. “Have some questions in mind for conversation starters. People love to talk about themselves so ask questions about their jobs and what you can do to help them meet someone they need to know.”

7. “This is a NETWORKING event; quit trying to SELL somebody something. You cannot close a deal in a half an hour so stop trying.”

Unfortunately I won’t be following up with guy as he didn’t create value or reasons for me to do so.  I do hope he is able  to improve his networking style.  He does get major props for approaching me right away though.

Second experience: I was sitting at a table during a luncheon networking event and noticed the four people sitting to the right of me were all from the same company (of course the nametag tipped me off).  I thought to myself…”Don’t they know that the point of networking is to not sit with each other but to meet new people?”  The best use of their time, their company’s money and the networking event would have been to split up and sit at different tables.  If that was too uncomfortable they could have at least split up in pairs.  They missed the point of the event…to meet new people and nurture relationships they may already have with other attendees.

The main point of networking events is to meet people and allow relationships and business opportunities to naturally develop.  Those relationships and opportunities will develop through follow up, future meetings over coffee, introducing them to connections they need and taking a long-term interest in their career and business success.  Yes, it takes time but if real networking is part of your short-term prospecting strategy you will be disappointed.

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Snow Day…Productive?

February 11, 2014

Can a snow day be productive?  Well that depends on who you ask and their perception.  Yesterday, I was struck by the difference – yet truths - in my clients’ reaction to the impending snow day.

[For those of you not in Charlotte (or you don't know what it is like to live in the south when snow is on the way)…well it is a big deal…a few flurries send us scrambling for cover, after we pack the grocery store for milk and bread.]

So is a snow day an opportunity to be productive or a time waster?   Below are their reactions but notice I said their reaction to an impending snow day not how they will actually spend a snow day…

–My first client felt it was a time waster if she couldn’t get into the office because we never get that much snow (much ‘ado about nothing).

–My second client believed the timing of it couldn’t be worse (consider she is in banking and she loses a day next week due to President’s day since the banks are closed).

–My third client was excited…she knew she would have one or maybe two uninterrupted work days in the office…hopefully alone…which she needs to work on some new productivity practices we put into place.  (She is a very good student!)

–My fourth client knew her workload provided a breather this week so she looked forward to snuggling on the couch with her teenage daughter watching a romantic comedy.

Four different clients, four different reactions.  The fact that this particular Monday was full of all female clients was rare…a random scheduling fluke.  Some focused on what the day would bring (uninterrupted work time or mom-daughter bonding time) and others on what the day would cost them (time).  If you judge them by their responses then you missed the point.  No response is right or wrong, better or worse…it just shows where they are in this moment.  Sometimes you have to define “your productivity” based on the moment you are in and know tomorrow or the next day, your mindset may shift and bring a new “productive” focus.  For me…normally the call for a snow day sends stress to our house…negotiations with my husband on the schedule, calling in childcare reinforcement (if they can drive to get to us) and a look ahead to see how we will make up the missed work and appointments.  But when the snow day hits and I’ve snuck in a little work, there will be nothing more to do than get productive with sledding, snowman building and lots of laughter.  After all, in that moment building a memory with my kids will be the best use of my time!

Here’s to your “productive” snow day(s).  (Lord help me, I can only take one day of no school).  :)

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The Only New Year’s Resolution You Need

December 30, 2013

The countdown is on to ring in the new year…just 31 hours (at the time of my post) to go until we welcome 2014.  It is at this time of year many sit down to reflect on the current year (great idea), set goals for the next year (even better idea) and write out a few New Year’s resolutions (bad idea).  Ok, so New Year’s resolutions aren’t all bad but according to Wikipedia 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail (2007 study of 3,000 people from Richard Wiseman and the University of Bristol).  My issue with setting New Year resolutions is the belief many have that there is an expectation of failure.  And the expectation of failure is rooted in the truth (see study I just mentioned).  Now, yes, some don’t accomplish their goals but they don’t set them expecting to fail either.  I believe there is a voice in the back of many, many people’s mind when they set a resolution that they expect to fail by Valentine’s day.  So why do we think we will succeed at accomplishing goals and not New Year’s resolutions?  It is all in how you use or define a resolution. According to Wikipedia a New Year’s resolution is “a secular tradition in which a person makes a promise to do an act of self-improvement starting on New Year’s Day.”

There it is…a “self-improvement” act!  Changing ourselves is the hardest thing to do, especially when we have to change decades of bad habits in the process.  So don’t look at it that way…focus on setting your goals (business, personal, health, community) and resolving to master only one self-improvement resolution this year.  The only New Year’s resolution you need is…

To get back on the horse.

There are things you want to change about yourself, projects you want to tackle and finish, revenue goals you want to blow out of the water…hold fast to them all because the only thing you have to commit to when you get off track is to be 100% committed to getting back on the horse.  So for example….you set a goal to lose 10 lbs and in late January you find yourself eating fast food on the run as the schedule kicks into overdrive…it’s okay…just resolve to get back on the horse and make the next item you put in your mouth healthy.  Or did you set a goal to have the best sales year ever and to truly focus on your daily prospecting activities but by March 1 you are ignoring your “prospecting time block” on your calendar…it’s okay…just get back on the horse and make the next hour (or two) about prospecting.  As in immediately pick up the phone, send an email, go to a networking event, or do whatever your prospecting time entails.  Whatever you do just don’t say…”I’ll try again tomorrow”…”I’ll get it right next time”…”Tomorrow I start fresh.”  Get back on that horse and before you know it you will stop falling off so much and be amazed at how much you can accomplish.

Here’s to you and to 2014 being a “BREAKOUT” year!

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Engagement Reflection

December 24, 2013

I’m a big fan of being more engaged in your life…engaged in your work…engaged in your family…engaged in your community.  Being engaged in it all is what life is all about.  So when I read stats like workers being stretched too thin I can only imagine the depth their engagement has sunk, not only at work but also in their personal world.

According to a CEB sponsored report on 2013 Business Outcomes (download at http://bit.ly/1k2P9wp) “80% of employees say that their workloads have already increased in the past three years and 55% say that they can no longer handle the resulting levels of stress.”  This is a reality that most companies are not addressing considering global executives in the report stated “…the key to delivering profitable growth is a 20% increase in staff productivity, even above current levels.”  Note there is no mention of increasing staff, just increasing the existing staff’s productivity.

When I decided to become a productivity and time efficiency coach and consultant the driving factor was that most people have not been taught and are not being taught how to manage information overload, use time wisely and get work done in the smartest way possible.  Two of my favorite client statements are “No one ever told me that before!” or “I didn’t know I could do that!”   In reality, my clients pay out of their own pocket…they have decided to take control and have the funds to do so.  When they are faced with a call for “20% increase in staff productivity” the step they took was to get help.  They get help for themselves because schools don’t teach classes on being productive and most companies don’t offer productivity educational sessions as part of the available “training classes.”  But that needs to change because everyone should have the option to learn how to manage their time in a way that works for them and be their best productive selves.

Because when people get the training they need in all areas (not just technical or industry knowledge) they have a greater chance of increasing their own engagement…in their work, in their family, in their community…in their life.  And that is what it is all about!

So take some time over this holiday break to reflect on the type of training or increase in skills or knowledge you need to get better and more engaged.

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