14 Dec

If you are a LeanMail user who finds him or herself on the road a lot…

by Michael Hoffman

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If you are a LeanMail user who finds him or herself on the road a lot — perhaps you don’t even start your computer every day, you can still keep up with LeanMail.

 Here’s how:

Of course the best way is to download the LeanMail app for iPhone (now in a Beta version) by contacting us at info@atrendia.com

But if you don’t have an iPhone there are still some things that you can do to leverage the power of LeanMail.

  1. When you finally do get to your computer, faithfully follow the two-step process: Prioritize all your mails before planning them.  Once you get to your Today view, review your list and reschedule the mails that you know you won’t get to.  It’s best to do this in the All view so that you can drag and drop single mails or groups of mails to specific dates.

I want to be very clear that there is no more efficient way of managing your inbox than following the LeanMail method.  If there were we would have incorporated it into our method. (Actually we do this each time someone has a brilliant idea! Send your brilliant ideas to info@atrendia.com.)

Every time you don’t follow the method (skip prioritizing or planning, hunt around your inbox for important mails), you lose precious time.  It’s not easy, but fight the urge to hunt.  In the end, you’ll have a system you trust and that is unbeatable in terms of speed and accuracy.

  1. Remember that prioritizing and planning mails doesn’t take that long – even if it feels like it sometimes, so even if you only have fifteen minutes to work on your email, try to get on your computer to manage your inbox at least once a day*.  It will:
    1. Help you get an overview of what your day/week is looking like
    2. Ensure that the most important mails will get done
    3. Ensure that the most urgent mails will get done
    4. Lower your stress about not being in control
  2. In a worst case scenario, you can just prioritize and act on the High priority mails for the time being.  In this case you would prioritize everything first (remember it only takes a minute to prioritize 20 mails once you get good at doing it), then plan/do only the important ones.

The important mails are the 20% that produce 80% of your results, so the worst case scenario is still much better than what you were doing before.

Send us your feedback.  We want to learn from our troops on the front lines!

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19 Nov

Prospects Aren’t Always Prospects

by Sharon Drew Morgen

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Sharon-Drew MorgenAs sellers, we’ve been taught that someone with a need that our solution fulfills is a prospect. But that’s not true or we’d be closing a lot more business and wasting a lot less time following the wrong prospects. Just because we see a need does not mean they A. want it resolved, B. want it resolved now, C. have the buy-in to bring in an external solution rather than using their own internal fix or beloved vendor, D. are ready to give up the work-
around they have in place that resolves the problem well-enough. So rule number #1: need does not a prospect make.

Unfortunately, the sales model has no capability to go behind-the-scenes to facilitate buy-in from the within the buyer’s culture/system – the other people who don’t see a need or don’t want to share budget, the tech group that wants to do it all themselves, or the President who has her own agenda and hasn’t informed everyone yet. But, and here’s rule #2: until everyone and everything that will touch the new solution buys-in to bringing it on board, there will be no purchase, regardless of a need.

A BUYING DECISION IS A CHANGE MANAGEMENT PROBLEM

Buyers have change management problems, not solution choice problems; a solution purchase (or any sort of change) is merely the last element in a chain of events – assembling the right Buying Decision Team members, getting buy-in, maintaining the status quo to avoid disruption – that must manage any change (and a purchase represents change) to enable the status quo to maintain it’s comfort. Rule #3: the status quo is sacrosanct, regardless of the need or the efficacy of your solution.

Here are two situations in which I failed miserably (and lost quite a bit of money), prior to understanding that buyers (in companies and individuals) must manage internal change before they can buy.

I did a pilot for an iconic multinational. Using Buying Facilitation® the group had a 400% increase in sales over the
control group (we shortened the sales cycle from 7 months to 4 weeks). They chose not to role out my program because the problems caused by increased revenue and cash flow issues, shifts in the manufacturing schedules, etc., would cost many millions to fix. They eschewed the increased profit to maintain the system.

I trained a large insurance group that got a 600% increase in sales over the control group (they went from 110 visits and 18 closed sales to 27 visits and 25 closed sales). After the test month, the trained team handed in their resignations because they said they were ‘field sales’ reps and would rather quit then be ‘inside sales’ reps, regardless of how much money they made. They liked handing out donuts and schmoozing.

From my point of view this is nuts. But from theirs it made sense. The status quo must be maintained at all costs – at all costs – regardless of the benefits of our solutions. Indeed, if they had known how to change without disrupting the status quo, they would have already. Companies prefer excellence, so long as they maintain stability. And when we think they are excellent prospects, their purchase of our solution might butt up against their needs for stability. Unless they can figure out how to address this, they are then not prospects regardless of their need or the efficacy of our solution.

THE SALES MODEL IS SOLUTION-BASED; BUYING IS SYSTEMS-BASED

Philosophically the sales model is accurate: as sellers we clearly see needs that our solutions will resolve. But it’s not a prospect until or unless the Buying Decision Team – everyone who will touch the final solution – is ready, willing, and able to:

          * bring in our solution and knows how to manage any changes in people, rules or job descriptions,
* bring in new technology without downtime,
* ensure the disruption won’t cost more than the problem it’s resolving,

they cannot buy. Indeed: a prospect is someone who WILL buy (and knows how to manage their change), not someone who SHOULD buy.

I developed Buying Facilitation® in 1983 to manage the issues my own sales team faced in my tech startup. As a sales professional, I never understood why ‘prospects’ weren’t buying as often as was logical. When I became an entrepreneur, I realized the problem buyers have when I needed to purchase solutions myself: how could I buy new software when the new programs weren’t working yet? When would be the right time to add new folks since the last new batch wasn’t fully trained yet? How would a new manager work with the current team when the current team had been working so effectively as unit for so long? When potential vendors came in to pitch new solutions to me, I understood the curiosity I had as a seller: the problem was not my need, but about managing my status quo effectively, and the sales model merely focuses on placing solutions and ignored the change management issues I had to deal with as part of my buying decision process.

So I developed my Buying Facilitation® model to add to sales the capability of beginning our prospecting by first facilitating the prospect’s ability and desire to seek excellence. Then, together (even on a prospecting call), we determined and addressed their tolerance for bringing in a new solution. I even taught my techies how to facilitate their users to make sure they got the buy-in for their programmers and project leaders and get the right people and the right data at the right time.We learned to enter each sales call as a facilitator rather than as a detective seeking a need/solution match or ‘qualifying’ a prospect immediately according to some specious standard we originally thought might have meaning.

Help prospective buyers determine how to change, how to get buy-in, how to bring in your solution. Along the way, you both will determine next steps, who needs to be included, and how to get everyone on board – with you! – to move toward the remedy will provide – even on a prospecting call! And then you can sell. Buying Facilitation® first, then sales. You need both. Then you can help buyers decide to be prospects – and they will buy.

_______________

Sharon Drew Morgen is the NYTimes Business Bestselling author of Selling with Integrity and 7 books how buyers buy. She is the developer of Buying Facilitation® a decision facilitation model used with sales to help buyers facilitate pre-sales buying decision issues. She is a sales visionary who coined the terms Helping Buyers Buy, Buy Cycle, Buying Decision Patterns, Buy Path in 1985, and has been working with sales/marketing for 30 years to influence buying decisions. More recently, Morgen is the author of What? Did you really say what I think I heard? in which she has coded how we can hear others without bias or misunderstanding, and why there is a gap between what’s said and what’s heard. She is a trainer, consultant, speaker, and inventor, interested in integrity in all business communication. Her learning tools can be purchased: www.didihearyou.com. She can be reached at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com 512 457 0246. www.didihearyou.comwww.sharondrewmorgen.com

 

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05 Oct

Inbox480 – My Personal Story – Part I

by Michael Hoffman

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Inbox480blogpost1It all started with a client.

To begin with, his IT manager had told him that 92% of his incoming email was spam and was filtered out before it ever reached his inbox. So my client never saw more than ninety percent of his incoming volume.

What my client found even more astonishing was that among the things that did reach him, he considered at least eighty percent of it “quasi-spam” — newsletters, articles and press releases, vendors trolling for new projects, social media, etc. — things that vied for his attention but were, more often than not, unwanted and unimportant.

Implications: In his unfiltered mail, out of every 100 messages he was being sent, fewer than two were essential.

So even with a spam filter, on a daily basis my client had to wade through and ultimately delete eighty percent of his email.  That’s a lot of decision-making and clicking for no return. — I asked him:

Why don’t you just unsubscribe from these senders instead of deleting them all the time?

Well, he said, every once in a while a vendor or newsletter — or even a LinkedIn group — has something interesting to say. I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  

So I said to him: Sounds like you could use a new inbox that only your essential senders could get into.

Exactly, he said.

That got me thinking.  I was pretty sure that others had that same problem, so we commenced work on our latest solution, Inbox480.  The inbox for 80 percent of your mail.

I480

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29 May

Meetings: The Purpose, The Pain, The Possibility

by Sharon Drew Morgen

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Sharon-Drew MorgenAs business folk, we hold meetings regularly. Yet often we don’t accomplish what we set out to achieve. Why?

The Purpose

Meetings are held to accomplish a specific, beneficial outcome requiring the attendance of the right people with the right agenda.

The Problem/Pain

Often we end up with miscommunication, wasted time, incomplete outcomes, misunderstanding, lack of ownership and ongoing personnel issues – sometimes an indication of internal power and faulty communications issues.

The Possibility

With greater success we can: stimulate thinking; achieve team building, innovation, and clear communication; and efficiently complete target issues. Here are some problem areas and solutions:

People. When outcomes aren’t being met effectively it’s a people- and management problem including: fall-out, sabotage, and resistance; long execution times; exclusion of peripheral people; restricted creativity and communication; exacerbated power and status issues. Are the most appropriate people (users, decision makers, influencers) invited? All who have good data or necessary questions?

  • Rule: unless all – all – relevant people show up for the meeting, cancel it. It’s impossible to catch people up or have them collaborate, add creative thoughts, or discuss annoyances. Once it’s known that meetings aren’t held unless all are present, the frequency, responsibility, and motives shift.
  • Rule: unless all – all – of the people who will touch the outcome from the meeting’s goals are in some way represented, the outcome will not reflect the needs of all causing fallout later, with resistance, sabotage or a diminished outcome.

Agenda. No hidden agendas! Recipients of potential outcomes must be allowed to add agenda items prior to the meeting.

  • Rule: unless all – all – of the items of ultimate concern are on the agenda, the meeting will be restricted to meet the needs of a few with unknown consequence (resistance and sabotage).

Action. Too often, action items don’t get completed effectively. How do action items get assigned or followed up? What happens if stuff’s not done when agreed? How can additional meetings be avoided?

  • Rule: put a specific, consensual, and supervised method in place to ensure action items get accomplished as promised.
  • Rule: as meeting begins, get consensus on what must be accomplished for a successful outcome. This initial discussion may change agenda items or prioritize them, detect problems, assumptions, resistance before action items are assigned.

Discussion. How long do people speak? How do conversations progress? How do the proceedings get recorded? What is the format for discussions? How is bias avoided?

  • Rule: record (audio) each meeting so everyone who attends can have it available later. Folks who didn’t attend are not privy to this audio. (See People above).
  • Rule: design a time limit for speaking, and rules for topics, presentations, discussions, cross talk.
  • Rule: include periods of silence for thought, notes, reflection.

Understanding. Does everyone take away the same interpretation of what happened? How do you know when there have been miscommunications or misunderstandings?

  • Rule: unless everyone has the same perception of what happened for each topic, there is a tendency for biased interpretation that will influence a successful outcome.
  • Rule: one person (on rotation) should take notes, and repeat the understanding of what was said to get agreement for each item before the next item is tackled. This is vital, as people listen with biased filters and make flawed assumptions of what’s been said/agreed.

Transparency. Agendas should be placed online, to be read, signed-off, and added to.

  • Rule: whomever is coming to the meeting must know the full agenda.
  • Rule: everyone responsible for an action item must be listed with time lines, names of those assisting, and outcomes.

Accomplishments. Are items accomplished in a suitable time frame? What happens when they aren’t?

  • Rule: for each action item, participants must sign off on an agreeable execution. A list of the tasks, time frames, and people responsible must accompany each item, and each completed task must be checked off online so progress is accountable.
  • Rule: a senior manager must be responsible for each agenda item. If items are not completed in a timely way, the manager must write a note on the online communication explaining the problem, the resolution, and new time frame.

Meetings can be an important activity for collaboration and creativity if they are managed properly and taken as a serious utilization of time and output. Ask yourself: Do you want to meet? Or get work accomplished collaboratively?

__________

Sharon Drew Morgen is the author of What? Did you really say what I think I heard? (free download at www.didihearyou.com) and NYTimes Business Bestsellers in the area of sales, decision facilitation, change management, and helping buyers buy. She is developer of Buying Facilitation® and a recognized thought leader in communication and decision making. She is a coach, trainer, speaker, and consultant. For those in sales, coaching or leadership want to communicate better Sharon Drew Morgen has the tools to help make improvements with online learning, group coaching, or on-site training. Sharon Drew can coach and train your sales teams or license trainers to prospect and get more appointments by finding real buyers on the first call. She can be reached at: sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com.

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24 Apr

Weird habit that saves my butt!

by Michael Hoffman

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I have this weird habit, one might think.

Before I click send on a mail that contains a document that I have attached, I open the document and check it one last time.

Even if I have already gone through the document, or have just created it, I open it once it is attached to the mail and ready to go.

Here are some of the catastrophes it has prevented in the past:

  • Wrong document attached
  • Spreadsheet opens to wrong tab
  • I missed adding a slide to a PowerPoint
  • I missed some logos on some slides
  • Misspellings

 And I’m sure there are more that don’t recall at the moment.  There is something about viewing the mail as the customer would that sharpens our mind and makes it more “real”, which gets my concentration to another level.

Some may find it weird, but I live by it.

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15 Apr

8 strategy questions every CEO should ask

by Jeroen de Flander

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With 300+ likes and 1K shares, the strategy article 8 things every leader should know about strategy somehow struck a nerve. But as many readers pointed out correctly, it’s one thing to know what strategy is all about, but it’s another to get out there and come up with one.

As you will probably agree, there is no magic formula for crafting the perfect strategy. If there was, the business world would look a lot different. But that does not mean there aren’t a few shortcuts that you can take. Here are 8 strategy questions to inspire your strategic thinking.

1. Should I strengthen my current strategy? And if yes, how?

Are you doing ok today? If yes, ask yourself how you can strengthen your existing strategy. Look for ways to improve what you do well already. Think about introducing new technology, features, products or services that leverage other areas in the value chain and fit with the current strategy. In short, build on what you already have.

2. How can I copy with pride?

Copying what others in your industry in your main markets are doing isn’t smart. You will start competing on the same axes and this competition will lead to price erosion. But copying can still pay off big time. The world is a big place and many great companies only operate locally. But in this information era, it’s easy to find them, learn from their success and see if some of their ingredients for success can be copied.

By spending only one evening on the internet, 56 out of the 80 companies that participated in my research found at least one great example in another geographical area that fuelled their strategic-thinking process

3. How can I go beyond product innovation?

Don’t focus only on the product or service – a risk, especially in an engineering environment. There are more things to a value chain then the product itself. The key to a sustainable competitive advantage is that ALL activities are tailored to the value proposition.

4. How can I recapture company heritage?

If your company has been around for some time, it follows that it has been doing something well for at least a certain time period. Finding out what that uniqueness is/was and reapplying it to boost your strategy is an interesting way of fuelling your reflection process about strategy. This doesn’t mean that you have to re-do it in the same way, but an adapted version might be just what you need.

5. How can I take advantage of a crisis?

Take a look at these figures from an article in the Harvard Management Update(Baveja, Ellis, Rigby, March 2008). A study of more than 700 companies over a six-year period found that “Twice as many companies made the leap from laggards to leaders during the last recession (90-91) as during surrounding periods of economic calm”. And most of these changes lasted long after the recession was over − a clear indication that what you do during the crisis determines your position when it’s over. Put differently, what you do during a crisis determines your strategic position once it’s over. So when the going gets tough, the tough get going. And win in the end.

So keep going, even when it’s tough out there.

6. How can I build an execution edge

Strategy Execution provides a competitive edge. A strategy needs to reinvent itself every five to seven years. Execution capabilities last much longer. So it pays off to invest in strategy execution excellence.

7. How can I innovate my business model?

A business model is a fancy word for the combination of choices you have made in your activities – your value chain – to bring your value proposition to life. The concept has been around for a long time, but for some reason, everyone apart from strategy consultants have forgotten about it. A recent book by Alexander Osterwalder in which he puts thinking about business models in an easy-to-use format has been a big hit. If you want to get going, identify activities and ask yourself some questions for each block.

8. How can I create Shared Value?

Sustainability is a hot topic today and I believe it is more than a fad. Shared Value is a new concept that helps strategists to incorporate social value into the strategic positioning of an organisation. And it goes far beyond philanthropy.

Michael Porter’s definition of Shared Value is: “You create shared value by enhancing the competitive position of a company while at the same time advancing the society in which it operates.”

The words ‘at the same time’ are very important. When people look at the relationship between a company and society, they tend to think it’s a zero-sum game, a game with only one winner. The strategy concept of Shared Value looks at the positive sum. It means that certain choices will strengthen the strategic position of the organisation and at the same time offer benefits for society.

It’s your challenge as a strategist to find that sweet spot.

There’s an active discussion on LinkedIn Pulse. You can join it here

Original source: The Performance Factory by Jeroen de Flander

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07 Apr

Guest blog: Training vs. Learning: do you want to train? Or have someone learn?

by Sharon Drew Morgen

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Sharon-Drew MorgenTraining successfully educates only those who are predisposed to the new material. Others may endeavor to learn during class but may not permanently adopt it. The problem isn’t the value of information or the eagerness of the learner: It’s a problem with both the training model itself and the way learners learn. It’s a systems/change problem.

HOW WE LEARN
We all operate out of unique, internal systems comprised of mental models (rules, beliefs, history etc.) that form the foundation of who we are and determine our choices, behaviors and habits. Our behaviors are the vehicles that represent these internal systems – our beliefs in action, if you will. So as a Buddhist I wouldn’t learn to shoot a gun, but if someone were to try to kill my family I’d shift the hierarchy of my beliefs to put ‘family’ above ‘Buddhist’ and ‘shooting a gun’ might be within the realm of possibility.

Because anything new is a threat to our habitual and carefully (unconsciously) organized internal system (part of our limbic brain), we instinctively defend ourselves against anything ‘foreign’ that might seek to enter. For real change (like learning something new) to occur, our system must buy-in to the new or it will be automatically resisted. It similarly effects selling/buying, coaching/clients, doctors/patients, leaders/followers.

A training program potentially generates obstacles, such as when

  • Learners are happy with their habitual behaviors and don’t seek anything new
  • Fear they might lose their historic competency
  • The new material unconsciously opposes long-held beliefs.

We are programmed to maintain our status quo and resist anything new unless our beliefs/mental models recognize that the new material will align with our status quo regardless of the efficacy of the required change.

HOW WE TRAIN

The training model assumes that if new material

  • Is recognized as important, rational, and useful
  • Is offered in a logical, informative, interesting way,
  • Allows time for experience and practice

It will become accepted and habituated. But these assumptions are faulty. At an unconscious level, this model attempts to push something foreign into a closed system (our status quo): it might be adopted briefly, but if it opposes our habituated norm, it will show up as a threat and be resisted. This is the same problem faced when sellers attempt to place a new solution, or doctors attempt to change the habits of ill patients. It has little to do with the new, and everything to do with change management.

Truly experiential learning has a higher probability of being adopted because it uses the experience – like walking on coals, doing trust-falls with team members – to shift the underlying beliefs where the change takes place. Until or unless there is a belief change, and the underlying system is ready, willing, and able to adopt the new material into the accepted status quo, the change will not be permanent.

One of the unfortunate assumptions of the training field is that the teach/experience/practice model is effective and if learning doesn’t take place it’s the fault of the learner (much like sellers think the buyer is the problem, coaches thinks clients are the problem, and Listeners think Speakers are the problem). Effective training must change beliefs first.

LEARNING FACILITATION

To avoid resistance and support adoption, training must enable

  1. Buy-in from the belief/system status.
  2. The system to discover its own areas of lack and create an acceptable opening for change before the new material is offered.

I had a problem to resolve when designing my first Buying Facilitation® training program in 1983. Because my content ran counter to an industry norm (sales), I had to help learners overcome a set of standardized beliefs and accepted processes endemic to the field. Learners would have to first recognize that their habitual skills were insufficient and higher success ratios were possible by adding (not necessarily subtracting) new ones. I called my training design Learning Facilitation and have used this model successfully for decades. (See my paper in The 2003 Annual: Volume 1 Training [Jossey-Bass/Pfieffer]: : “Designing Curricula for Learning Environments Using a Facilitative Teaching Approach to Empower Learners” pp 263-272).

Briefly: Day 1 helps learners recognize the components of their unconscious status quo while identifying skills necessary for greater excellence: specifically, what they do that works and what they do that doesn’t work, and how their current skills match up with their unique definition of excellence within the course parameters. Day 2 enables learners to identify skills that would supplement their current skills to choose excellence at will, and tests for, and manages, acceptance and resistance. Only then do new behaviors get introduced and practiced.

Course material is designed with ‘learning’ in mind (rather than content sharing/behavior change), and looks quite different from conventional training. For example Day 1 uses no desks, no notes, and no lectures. I teach learners how to enlist their unconscious to facilitate buy-in for new material.

Whether it’s my training model or your own, just ask yourself: Do you want to train? Or have someone learn? They are two different activities.

——–

Sharon Drew Morgen is the author of 9 books, including NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity, and What?. Did you really say what I think I heard? She has developed facilitation material for sales/change management, coaching, and listening. To learn more about her sales, decision making, and change management material, go to www.sharondrewmorgen.com. To learn more about her work on closing the gap between what’s said and what’s heard, go to www.didihearyou.com. Contact Sharon Drew for training, keynotes, or online programs at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com. Sharon Drew is currently designing programs for coaches to Find and Keep the Ideal Client, and Lead Facilitation for Lead Generation.

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31 Mar

Leadership Behaviors – Bad Habits That Hold You Back

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26 Mar

How my small company cut in half our $3.2 million dollar inbox expense in just 12 minutes!

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greasymOK, I have a small company of only 200 employees, so $3.2 million is nothing. But imagine a company of 2,000 employees that spend 2 hrs. per day on email with an average annual salary of $70,000. That would mean that they spend OVER HALF A MILLION DOLLARS PER DAY managing email.

Since we all know that email is a fact of life (nothing we can just cut out of the budget) I came up with a quick fix in the form of a memo that I sent to everyone in the company with the following 5 suggestions:

  1. Don’t check your mail too often during the day (Just enough so you don’t miss anything).
  2. Respond quickly. (I got this one from Google’s Eric Schmidt – GENIUS! – So don’t pay too much attention to rule 1)
  3. Use the OHIO rule; Only Handle It Once (unless you can’t, so don’t – and most you can’t)
  4. Prioritize your mails before responding, then answer the high priority mails first – remember that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. (I’m sure there is a way to do this in Outlook, just play around with the menus until you get it right)
  5. Don’t Cc: everyone, just the ones who really need the information (But always keep your boss in the loop and maybe a few others.)

So I figure, if a CEO of a 2,000 employee company does what I did, he could save $16,000,000 in just 12 minutes.

Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you. The truth is you CAN double your productivity and cut in half your email management cost. But you CAN’Tdo it with a memo, seminar, workshop, add-in, app, or any of the other methods that you’ve tried. There is only one solution on the market that works for entire populations of employees and it takes a lot more time than 12 minutes to see the results. 10 TIMES That. (Yikes – two hours!)

It takes 10 times more time than a memo, but it’s the only long-term, complete solution for your multi-million dollar black hole you call an inbox.
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06 Feb

8 Good Habits For 2015

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Change habits

Change = changing habits

If you want to change anything about yourself, it will require changing one or more habits, and since developing or stopping or changing a habit is so darn difficult, it’s best to focus on one particular habit at a time. Since it is so hard to do this, you will need the proper tool in place. Luckily, that’s just half a sheet of paper.

How:

Pick the easiest habit that you want to improve upon and apply to as many things you can for 30 days.
Print out the label below, cut off the piece you don’t need, then fold and place on a flat service in front of you. Make a new one for each good habit.
Schedule this exercise for the first work-day of each month in your calendar.
Repeat with the next.

Most readers will see familiar faces here. The idea of this exercise is not to nod in agreement that these would be good habits to form; it is to help you choose one habit to work on for an extneded period of time so that you master it and can move on. If you don’t like the idea of taking one month to complete the formation of a habit, you can try two months before going to the next one instead. Even if you focus on just one for three or four months you can’t go wrong. On the other hand, going too quickly increases the risk of not locking in the habit. It’s about retention, not velocity.

1. Avoid “white” or seemingly harmless lies.
You don’t have to tell your wife the truth when she asks you if she looks fat in that dress because our opinions should not always be trusted since they sometimes change over time; but late to an appointment? Don’t blame it on “traffic”. Instead, just apologize. You don’t have to give details. I planned poorly is a hundred times better than risking your integrity by inanely blaming traffic, which will be interpreted by the offended person as poor planning anyway. It’s not about being caught; it’s about the small lies overburdening you over time. Conversely, eliminating white lies incrementally builds up your self-confidence. This is first on the list because it has amazing impact on everything else.

2. Clean up after yourself.
In every way and every situation. Leave the room better than when you found it – always. Keep your desk clean, car, your closet. Perform a Kaizen (change for the better) in your stock room, your kitchen or in one room of the house every month.

3. Finish what you start.
Or at least fully complete parts of it that are usable, and keep track of the rest. That also means not starting things that you can’t finish.

4. Swallow the frog early in the day.
Do the most difficult things of your day in the beginning when you have the most will-power. Research shows that will power is like a muscle. It tires from use, but can also be strengthened.

5. Avoid speaking negatively and avoid others who have the same bad habit.
Complaining is the complete opposite of solving. Stay away from people who nag. After a while it becomes contageous.

6. Do what you promise.
Especially arriving on time. Integrity is the bond you have with all of those within your sphere of influence. Break it and people lose trust and faith in you, which, over time, is very hard to mend. Respect your promises to others and, most importantly, to yourself. If you have too much on your plate, you are breaking promises to yourself. Intervene in advance of failure.

7. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
Think about how they will perceive what you are communicating or doing. Without understanding context and perspective we run the risk of losing objectivity; creating problems rather than solving them; and appearing blunt and unsympathetic.

8. Create lots of systems that help you navigate on auto-pilot and give you overview.
There more autopilot best practices you have, the fewer mistakes and stress you will have. These can include calendaring, tasks, projects, shopping, etc. Anything to help you forecast what is around the corner. Don’t worry that it can seem nerdy. No one will ever know unless you have a few too many and gush about all your systems. I didn’t add “Stop drinking too much” to this list, but if the latter occurs…

Three tips to facilitate change:
1. Be consistent: Consistency is the mother of habit. The brain needs consistency in order to carve out those neuro-pathways that build in your ability to go on auto-pilot. The more consistent you are, the less you have to think and try.

2. Small is always better than big when starting a new habit: Get good at filtering out all your dreams and desires and go for things that are easily achievable until you build a consistent track record.

3. Simplify, simplify, simplify. ‘nuff said.

Remember that the objective here is to go slow. Pick just one to start with and keep the reminder on your desk, refrigerator or your bathroom mirror – or make several copies and post them for everyone to see them. Who won’t benefit from that?
I honestly don’t expect everyone to print out the reminders; only the ones who are ready for the challenge. But I can nearly guarantee that if you don’t actually print out the reminders, this will have been a slightly interesting and thoroughly forgotten exercise in just moments. A lost opportunity.
Print it now!

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