Jumping a ten foot hurdle?


Completing small tasks is usually easy enough, but what about those huge ones, the monstrous changes and improvements?

Is it time to get into shape with both diet and exercise daily, time to earn that promotion you want, to buy your dream home, quite smoking or cross off your greatest bucket list item?

Here is a list that may help, courtesy of one of my Entrepreneurs’ Organization friends.

  • Set one goal, one. Make it bold while keeping it simple.
  • Find inspiration. Seek out the benefits, others that have been successful, visualize the end result (with a picture)
  • Get excited. Change is a good thing, nothing can improve without it. Pump yourself up for success.
  • Build anticipation. Don’t start right away. Set your start date weeks or a month into the future and give yourself time to become mentally and emotionally invested.
  • Post it, print it, BIG. Force yourself to think about your hurdle, see it, read it, picture it everywhere. Post-its on your mirror, poster on your wall, write it on your forehead if you must.
  • Commit to it publicly. Accountability is the key to success and often easier to have others hold you accountable than to do it yourself. Make your goal known so people can help you when you’re weak.
  • Think about it daily. Habits are hard to break and easy to fall back into. Whatever has held you back til now will still be there, think about your goal and resist.
  • Get support. You can’t and don’t need to do everything yourself. It’s in people’s nature to be helpful, it makes others feel good and important. Whether a support group or your friends and family, others want to see you succeed.
  • Stick with it. Everything takes time. Be patient and persist. If you fall down, get back up and keep trying. Quitters never win and winners never quit (unless you are trying to quit something:)
  • Build on small successes. Have you ever seen an infant learn to walk? They don’t just stand up one day and start walking. One step at a time is still closer than not stepping at all.
  • Read about it regularly. Chances are probably 100% that you are not the first to be taking on this quest. Read about what others have done, what professionals recommend and successful feedback. Just don’t believe everything you read on the internet.
  • Call for help when motivation ebbs. It’s probably going to happen at some point. Lean on your supporters. Reach out and ask for words of encouragement when you just want to give in.
  • Talk about the benefits, not the difficulties. If it was easy it wouldn’t take much effort, so we know there are difficulties. Talk about the benefits, remind yourself and others why you are putting in this much effort.
  • Squash negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts. With a positive attitude you can overcome just about anything. When those negative thoughts creep in, have your list of benefits present to review and remind you of your goal and small successes.
  • Don’t look back, other than to celebrate your success. You cannot change your past, don’t waste your time. You can affect today and tomorrow. When you reach your goal, then, take time to look back at all you have accomplished.

All the best!

To focus or not to focus, kind of a silly question

With dozens of simultaneous and constant distractions, how is one to focus and be effective?

You can write down your task lists, highlight your top 5 activities, schedule your day, use a day planner and any number of other forms of organization and planning. I still don’t believe you will be working (or playing) at anywhere near your full potential.

To skip to the point of this collection of words, you control most of your distractions or they control you.

Turn off your non-organic tools, toys and necessary technical devices – At lease for a few hours a day, completely off! This is primarily for the working folk, plan for it and then execute.

What do I mean?

Check your email one last time and quit the program, put your phone on do not disturb, turn off your cell phone, log out of instant messenger and turn off any other app that notifies you of facebook updates, new tweets, cool new instagram photos, important news bulletins, weather alerts and the other million possible interruptions.

All done?

Good, now go to the bathroom, grab that last cup of coffee or water and get ready to blow your own mind. If you can, shut your door or find a quiet place to work. With no interruptions, look at your list of tasks and put your collective focus on it and nothing else. For the next 2-3 hours, do just that. Whoever is calling, emailing, IM’ing, texting or in some other way trying to reach you, can either wait or seek you out personally.

Simple right?

Think of how many of these interruptions and distractions float by your eyes, ears and within your head long after the pop-up is gone. Compound these with the other huge distraction, LIFE. Kids, money, bills, taxes, family, health, temperature, noise, hunger and whatever personal relationships you happen to have going on at the time. Fortunately you can remember to breath during all of these interruptions.

For the record, I’m being a huge hypocrite writing this, but I am thinking about it and try to execute as often as I can. Even now I am ignoring my phone, email, facebook account and weatherbug telling me it’s snowing outside.

If you happen to be one of my wonderful workmates, please understand that this behavior and these activities are welcomed and encouraged. You won’t even need that get out of jail free card.

Business Intermission or Post-Mortem?

Sometimes taking an business intermission to reflect, re-group and then re-engage is best, better than quitting.


I’ve tried a lot of business ideas, some better than others. Some fail, more succeed and many of the successes have had to take a break before breaking out.

With there being so many complexities in creating, building and effectively running a business, it is pretty hard to get them all right the first time around.

While busy most of the time working on VoIP Supply, my core business, I often build prototypes of businesses/products, prove their viability and (the hard part) hand the idea and basic objectives off to someone hired to build it from the ground up. Ideally remaining very hands-off and allowing the professional hired to build a plan around it and successfully execute on their plan. “Ideally” isn’t always the outcome.

One such project led to the following analysis which is shaping the second period, areas for improvement in many businesses. These are listed in no particular order.

  • Insufficient Planning and Metrics for Accountability and Measurement: If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. That which gets measured gets done.
  • Ineffective Leadership, Not Able to “Wear All Hats” as Needed in Start-Up Mode: You have to be able to see the business at 30,000 feet AND 30 feet.
  • Confusing Messaging to Customers and Staff:  Within a multi-tenant holding company, who are we, how do we fit, why are we here.
  • Lack of Focused Effort, Too Much Time Spent on Non-Essentials: Customers (sales) pay the bills, focus there first. Profits make pretty.
  • No Simplistic Message (“Why Buy”) to Present to Customers and Partners: Explain it clearly in 30 seconds, once.
  • Not Leveraging Strength in Brand and Reach of Strategic Partners: Don’t walk past five $10 bills just to get a $20 bill.

It is my belief that, had the leadership been more tech savvy with interest in learning and using tools to improve efficiency, had they created a plan that included measurable goals and the activities required to achieve them and had they rolled up their sleeves to complete the required tasks before dwelling on non-essentials, they would have been more successful. Furthermore, the messaging, the “who, what, why and how”, the “why buy”, along with their visual and textual representation needed to be simple and crystal clear without detailed explanation. Lastly, the pre-established partnerships and primed customer base wasn’t leveraged effectively.

Second period, back on the ice, avoid these six bullet points and do the opposite. Simple right?

The brain at work or home (and play)

Lists are a big part of any plan for success.

As the saying goes, if you fail to plan then you are planning to fail.

For tasks at hand, things to remember and other knowledge that you want to recall quickly, I put them to a list written out on paper.

For the skeptics of the world, those that “remember everything” and have no need for lists, try this very simple example.

Below are a list of words. Read them all once, twice, even three times. Now, close your eyes and count to 20 then speak the names of your 5 closest friends.

With your eyes still closed, read back as many of the words on the list as you can in 10 seconds.

 

  1. Two
  2. Paris
  3. Elvis
  4. Galveston
  5. Sea-hawks
  6. Seventeen
  7. 1943
  8. Alan
  9. Nebraska
  10. Disney
  11. Lincoln
  12. Washington
  13. Wilson
  14. Wildcats
  15. Filthy
  16. Fifteen
  17. New
  18. Nine
  19. Twelve
  20. Eyes

Now, open your eyes and read off the list as many words as you can in 10 seconds.

 

I won’t ask how you did because even having written the list myself, I couldn’t get them all in 10 seconds if I wanted to.

From a sales perspective, those words are your customers and actions that need to be addressed today. Outside of work, those are all of the things you need to get done before winter. At play, those are all of the fun thing you have done with friends when next you wonder what to do.

One of the first things I do when trying to remember what I had planned for the day and what I should do next is to create a list, so I don’t have to think about it anymore.

Progress and Morale

Progress and Morale, Morale and Progress…

Keys to success for sure, one helps the other and creates a positive spiral.

It’s been a bit since I posted anything here and thought this would be a good topic to rekindle with. With 2008 being a trying year in the business world (and elsewhere) and 2009 not highlighting too many significant improvements or substantial leaps at recovery, giving up seems to have been a rational choice in many people’s minds.

I didn’t (we didn’t) give up despite our circumstances and by focusing on Progress and Morale we have not only endured but improved on the inside and out. Our business is stronger, more stable, more efficient and better suited to serve our customers than ever before. This happened because we kept our heads high and crossed tasks off the list each day.

It’s pretty easy to get down on yourself when times are tough and as a result progress can halt and morale can fall through the floor. Giving up or jumping ship is just not an option in my book. Even in tough times, a lot of effort is put forth in making sure my teams are looking at the light at the end of the tunnel and working on tasks (even tiny ones) that demonstrate forward motion and progress towards improvement.

Motivated and rewarded people generate a positive atmosphere where there is genuine understanding and willingness to work hard for the sake of progress. At the end of the day, there is little better than reflecting on progress (any) as a reward and as a motivating force when the alarm clock goes off the next day.

Tomorrow I am going to make progress towards my goals and when I’m done I will reflect on them, know that I was successful and prepare to repeat the process.