We’re so busy that sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. We prioritize but are we using the right criteria to decide what’s important?
The key is to put your effort where you get the greatest results.

If you’re in sales, you know the activities that generate business: Prospecting, getting in front of people, doing great presentations, providing great customer service. Now break each of those activities down further. Are you prospecting by networking? What kinds of networking groups have your prime customer? What kind of advertising can target your dream client? Is it worth your time to improve your presentation skills so you can increase your closing rate?

If you supervise people, a high priority is always managing and leading your teams. But where specifically do you get the best results? It might be working with someone who has a lot of talent but needs to hone their skills more. It might be mentoring one of your people to provide bench strength for you. Or it could be daily quality control, or a combination of all of these.

Of course, you have to know what activities get you results to begin with. That means paying close attention to your feedback. Do you closely track where your business comes from? Referrals? What kinds of people are referring you? How are your marketing efforts paying off? Do you know how much business comes from each kind of marketing you do?

In your personal life, ask the same kinds of questions. Ask yourself, “What ONE thing could I do to make the biggest difference in my life?” It might be exercising to improve your health and outlook. It might be reading to your kids every day. It could be taking up that hobby you’ve always dreamed about. Or spending 15 minutes a day just for yourself where you do nothing but relax.
Now that’s an idea!

(Post a comment and feel free to pass this on.)

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Category : Uncategorized

The Ten Second Pitch

It’s an impatient world. We are all distracted and overloaded. In today’s environment, your personal and professional positioning statement better be short and compelling. Forget the 30 second “elevator pitch.”  You’ve got ten seconds. That’s how much time you have to grab someone’s attention. Ten seconds to communicate what you or your company does. Ten seconds that communicates to the other person the one thing they’re thinking: “What’s in it for me?”  Whether you’ve just met someone at a networking event, or you’re applying for a job, or initiating a cold call, you’ve got ten seconds to make an impression. It’s brutal, I know.

Avoid Blathering

People make the mistake of thinking that their spiel has to say everything about themselves or their company. They spew out a long monologue during which the other person has already mentally checked out. Their eyes are already wandering around the room looking for someone else more interesting to talk to, or they’ve decided to end the call as soon as they can. Hear that tapping? They’re responding to their email while you’re yammering on. What you want is to stimulate curiosity. You want the other person to ask you questions; preferably, “How do you do that?”

The Focused Ten Second Pitch

Your ten seconds must be centered on the personal benefit. In media, we constantly ask why someone would care about a story.  How does it affect them or their family? What solutions are we going to offer? What new information will we impart?

Think of a one-sentence description that would elicit the response, “Tell me more.” If you’re a sales trainer, your one sentence could be, “I help companies double their sales.”  A business owner is definitely going to ask how you do that!  Then you tell them more. Here are some more examples. Note none of them include the name of the occupation in the sentence.  I’ve put the occupation next to the sentence.

“I tell stories that change lives.” (reporter)

“I give peace of mind to families.”          (insurance sales)

“I help people find happiness.”              (speaker and author)

“I make people laugh.”              (standup comedian)

“I help make buying a home easy.”        (mortgage broker)

“I help people with life changing events”  (therapist)

“I help people get what they want out of life.” (My own statement as a time management expert)

Work on it!

Work on your one sentence. It must feel authentic to you. It should feel good to say. Keep working on it until it feels good. This is much easier than memorizing a 30-second spiel. You’ll find that the extended conversation about what you do will now feel more natural too!

Like this or have a comment? Have your own line you’d like to share? Post it here!

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Category : Goal setting and achievement

Every industry has its game changers. The moments when someone springs an entirely new product on the market that completely changes consumer expectations and the competitive landscape.  The digital world has brought numerous game changers that have impacted many industries.  Think downloadable music. Cell phones. CNN, then Fox News. The DVR. MySpace. YouTube. The iPhone.

The question is…are you paying attention to noticing the game changes in your business? Music companies didn’t understand the true threat of downloadable music at first, and when they did, they fruitlessly tried to battle it instead of embracing it and making it part of their business plan.  Newspapers kept their heads in the sand about the internet until they’d lost hundreds of millions of dollars in classified advertising to the web. Readers who wanted information on demand abandoned newspapers in droves, and young people never embraced newspapers at all. The newspaper industry is a shadow of what it once was. Television broadcasters allowed cable to grow on the strength of network and local programming that stations gave to the cable companies for free.

I remember when Apple first released the iPod that could play video. This was years before the ability to easily view video on the web. Before YouTube or  Facebook. I went to the Apple store with my husband and daughter to check it out. Traditional media people had been dismissing the product. The sniffed, “Who would want to watch video on a tiny little screen?”

I watched the demo in the store. I held it in my hands. It was light and sleek. The little screen had incredible quality. It was completely cool;  a breakthrough product.  I felt as though the ground shook beneath me. I looked up and announced, “This changes everything.”  And it did. Once people understood that they could have movies and video entertainment of their choosing when they wanted, it paved the way for the growth of online video.

The trick is to identify a game changer before it overtakes you. A game changer can be a small thing at first. It’s always the events that are occurring right now that pave the way ahead. This is true in your own career and personal life too. Are you listening and watching?

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Category : Goal setting and achievement

My husband and I were recently hiking on Mt. Hood in Oregon. Even in the middle of July a lot of snow remained at Timberline Lodge where our hike began. We carefully made our way across numerous snowfields, delighting in the occasional wildflower peeking out in the grassy spots. It was a warm day with a cloudless sky. We’d been hiking about an hour and a half when we came to a sizable ravine.  It was a steep way down on the trail, then we’d have to cross a wide swath of snow that hugged the side of the ravine, then trudge back up the other side. It looked like a long way back up the hill. We gazed at it. “That looks really steep,” said my husband.  I was ready to wimp out, already thinking about the post-hike late lunch at the Ram’s Head bar. Instead, we both said together, “Let’s go for it.”   And we began the descent.

We found the way down was easy. The snowfield, after traversing dozens, wasn’t that difficult. We laughed as we held hands to keep our footing. Minutes later we’d climbed all the way back up to the other side. We stopped to look back. The ravine again looked steep and foreboding. We agreed that the steepness was simply an illusion. Just like a lot of things we face. “Things are easier than we think,” commented my husband Steve.

That’s the way our goals are. When we see them in a distance they can appear daunting. We pause to begin because we’re not sure we can do it. Or that we want to do it. Is the view from the other side worth it? We have to learn now things. We have to risk. But as soon as we begin, it gets easier. It’s always the moment of standing on the precipice that is most frightening.

Just get going. Right Now.

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Category : Goal setting and achievement

Road trip rush

Competing effectively today is like driving on the L.A. freeway system. This occurred to me when I recently took a business trip to Southern California where I had meetings with  NBC in both Burbank and Los Angeles. I’d rented a car but passed on renting a GPS system.  I reasoned that I know the freeway system well enough where I was scheduled to meet.

Then I had an unexpected event that required a trip to Altadena via a route I didn’t know as well. Armed with my iPhone, which I call with great admiration “the magic phone,” I quickly mapped out my route.

In Los Angeles you have to pay high attention at all times when driving.  The freeway system there is a beautiful, efficient means of transport. The gleaming concrete stretches across hundreds of square miles like a rushing river of metal. Cars whiz by at 70 or 75 MPH (no one, it seems obeys the speed limit there) weaving in and out of ramps, exits, and six-lane changes. If you blink you’ve missed the way. Or have a very bad accident.

Life is like a freeway

This is where my realization came in. I had my course plotted out. I was following it dutifully.  I maneuvered the quick lane changes with aplomb, crossing four lanes of traffic in a very short distance to make the next freeway change, shortly followed by more hair raising lane changes, all with cars speeding on every side.

What a powerful metaphor for business and life today! All those other cars are like your competitors. You’re all going full speed ahead. If you don’t pay attention, your competitor will rush right past you in seconds. One mistake and you’ve taken the wrong road. You waste time getting back on track while you competitor has gained ground on you. Sometime a change of route is intended.  The road is closed and you have to find a new way. The winnings go to the one who found the best solution first.

High awareness is required of us every single day. The ability to think quickly and to change quickly is vital.  This is our own built-in GPS system. Plot a course. Then go fast. Go far.

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Category : Leadership

Stress is a serious issue, and chronic stress can have damaging effects on your physical health.  In an extended challenging economy, many people are dealing with long term stress in the work place and the demands of home.

The body doesn’t distinguish between psychological stress and physical threats. Our biology interprets it all as a “fight or flight” situation.    It doesn’t know that instead of a saber-toothed tiger chasing you, your car blew a tire on the way to pick up your child at daycare. Our body goes into “red alert” mode whenever it thinks it’s under attack.

Most people know that stress can lead to high blood pressure or stroke. But did you know that it suppresses your immune system? Stress can lead to sleep problems, infertility, diabetes, weight gain, and accelerated aging. That’s right. You get fat and wrinkled faster! Take that for motivation to manage your stress!

Sometimes major life changes are needed to tackle stress. But you can take daily steps to manage your stress level. Most of these tips take just a few minutes. Paying attention is the key. You are not invulnerable, and you deserve to live a better, less stressful life.

Listen to your favorite music. Music is a great stress-reliever. Listen in the car or at home at a time that you get to choose the music.

Hug someone. Hug your spouse, your significant other, your kid, or your pet. Physical contact makes us happier and reduces stress.

Breathe deeply and stretch for a few minutes. Making yourself take several deep breaths at your desk will relax you.

Take a parking lot minute. If you drive to work, take one minute before you go into the building to just sit quietly. Close your eyes and empty your mind. Take a few deep breaths and you’ll feel relaxed and ready to go.

Take mini breaks. This is especially important for those of you who work through lunch and power through the whole day without taking a breath. Stand up and walk around just for a few minutes. Have a “parking lot minute” at your desk. Give yourself time to recharge.

Remember to laugh. Kids laugh all the time. As adults we laugh a whole lot less. What a shame. It feels good to laugh! Watch short funny videos on YouTube, watch a funny movie at home, subscribe to a joke of the day, find humor in small things.

Have manageable to-do lists. It’s stressful to look at a daily to-do list that’s impossible to get done. Prioritize your list and make sure you have a list you can actually get done in a day.

Eat healthy. You knew this had to be on the list. Limit the refined sugar and eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Have berries at breakfast. Eat fresh leafy vegetables at lunch and dinner.  Start by committing to do just one thing, like eliminating an afternoon sugar snack.

Get some movement. Walk, get outside. Movement makes your body and mind feel better.

Maintain a calm sleeping environment. Make your bedroom a serene place. Take out the TV and leave your cell phone in another room. Get to bed early enough or get up late enough so you’re getting enough sleep. Fatigue leads to more stress.

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Category : Stress Management

Yesterday I was involved in the two-hour live telecast of the Portland Rose Festival’s Grand Floral Parade. It’s the second largest all-floral parade in the country, and the biggest event in Portland, Oregon.  Live television broadcasts and athletic contests both give us the opportunity to know in a very short window how well you’ve prepared. You either win the game, or you don’t. The broadcast either goes well, or it doesn’t.

It’s a lot like life, and a lot like managing any project.  Here’s a checklist for any project.

  1. Understand the steps you need to take for success. Assign timelines to each of those steps.
  2. Imagine the worst possible scenario and plan for that. What is your “showstopper?” Plan for the worst and hope for the best.
  3. Make sure you have the right mix of people on the project with all required skills.
  4. Assess your own strengths and weaknesses with honesty. Put people in place with strength in your weak areas.
  5. Communicate to other team members in detail.
  6. You must have back-up plans. It is not enough to have just a Plan B. You have to have a Plan C and preferably a Plan D too.
  7. Always do a “pre-flight check.”  Make sure everything is working and that people know their roles.
  8. Avoid complacency.  Arrogance causes blindness; blindness to your competitors, or new problems that must be addressed.
  9. Believe in your project. If you don’t love it, who will?

Remember to take notes during the project on what’s working and what isn’t. Bring team members together afterward to discuss what can be done better next time. Several small improvements can make a significant difference in your product, your service, your life!

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Category : Leadership