Over a decade of Sandy’s weekly written articles on strategies and motivation for your business and your life.
I’ve worked with CEOs who bemoan the fact that they are “forced” to work 60+ hour work weeks.
Unless you WANT to spend that much of your time working, and to forsake having any kind of family or personal life, you shouldn’t be doing it.
“But there just IS that much to do!” my client Ron, the CEO of a food product company, protested.
What Ron needed were some ideas to squeeze 12 hours of work into 8 or fewer.
Over the years, I have helped many business leaders implement strategies for getting things done in less time. Here are a six of my favorites:
(1) Just say NO. It seems like I’m oversimplifying, but as Warren Buffett says, “The difference between a successful person and a REALLY successful person, is the really successful person says NO to almost everything.”
(2) Focus on ONE thing at a time. Doing one thing at a time allows you to get things done faster because you’re able to focus and work at a deeper level. You’re also not wasting time “task switching”.
(3) Schedule it. Usually, what gets scheduled, gets done. If there’s a pile on your desk, schedule time to tackle and don’t allow anything to interrupt it. Arrange your day in “Power Blocks.” Have a time for responding to emails, a time to return phone calls and blocks of time in which you’re focused on your most important projects.
(4) Six Most Important. In the early 1900s, Ivy Lee taught industrialist Charles Schwab how to get things done. He told Schwab to make a daily list of his 6 most important projects and prioritize them. Then, he told him, start number 1 and do not touch number 2 until you’ve taken number 1 as far as it can go. The Lee Method still works today. Starting with the most important when your energy is highest makes sense. Trying to do a little on all of them sounds like a good idea, but it usually doesn’t work.
(5) Shorten deadlines. Parkinson’s Law says, “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion,” which means you can usually get things done in less time simply by allotting less time to complete them.
(6) Under-promise and over-deliver. Disappointing someone upfront by telling them you can’t get to something until the end of next week and then having it by Monday works better than promising it to them this week and disappointing them by not delivering it until Monday. Lighten your workload by under-promising.
What are your favorite ways to work faster? Let me know. Or ask me for more, so you can keep REACHING…
I have a wonderful, supportive wife and an amazing family.
I made it through 42 radiation treatments this year to beat cancer for the third time.
I had the opportunity over the past year to work with a team of financial advisors spanning from Pennsylvania to South Carolina while continuing my work with my regular clients.
There’s a roof over my head and food on the table
And, I have YOU reading this right now.
So many things to be thankful for.
But it’s all in how you look at it. I could be seeing it all this way:
How can I be thankful when I’ve had to battle cancer for the third time?
How can I be thankful for the toll that these battles have taken on my body?
How can I be thankful when my biggest coaching engagement just ended?
How can I be thankful when I’m concerned about the future?
Author Michael Neill says, “We live in the feeling of our thinking.” It’s not what’s happening to us, but what we’re THINKING about what’s happening to us that makes us feel sad, bitter, frustrated, or angry. Neill tells us, “Change the thought and you change the feeling.”
But if you’re not happy about your situation, how do you change the thought?
Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar would tell his audiences that the healthiest of all human emotions is gratitude. “Go home and write down all of the things you like about your [work/life],” he would instruct them. If you hate your work, do you at least like that you get paid, or that it allows you to be independent, or that you can control your hours?
“The secret,” Ziglar would tell them, “is that like is another word for grateful.”
If you’re feeling that there isn’t a lot to be thankful for in your business or your life, make a list of the things you like/love about them–what you can be grateful for–and read the list out loud tomorrow–and every day.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving…and keep REACHING…
In 2005, Steve Jobs gave the commencement address to the Stanford graduating class of approximately 5,000 students.
“I never graduated college,” he began, and then held his audience’s attention as he told three stories.
The first story was about “connecting the dots”. Jobs told them that even though he dropped out, he continued to attend classes anyway—the ones he liked. One of these classes was calligraphy. Years later, when he and Steve Wozniak created the Mac, one of its main selling points (eventually copied for Windows) was that it had multiple typefaces and proportionally spaced fonts.
“If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class,” Jobs informed the graduates, “And personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.”
The second story was about getting fired from his own company, Apple, at age 30. This event led to the creation of NeXt, and Pixar, and to Jobs meeting his wife. Pixar created the first fully computer-animated film, Toy Story, and became the largest computer animation company in the world.
“I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple,” Jobs told his audience. “It was awful-tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it.”
“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick,” he attested. “Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love.”
The last story was about his first brush with death, when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2004 and told to go home and get his affairs in order. The stunned graduates listened intently as he told them:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Jobs did not succumb to his cancer until 7 years later, in 2011, living by that very advice until the end.
He concluded his commencement address by quoting from the back cover of a popular publication from his youth, The Whole Earth Catalog:
STAY HUNGRY. STAY FOOLISH.
Stay hungry, stay foolish, and keep REACHING…
Success, however you define it, may not be easy to attain, but what you need to do to be successful is simple.
You’re the boss. The buck stops with you. If you want your organization to be successful, you have to get it from where it is at “A” to where you want to go–“B”. And as Dusan Djukich says in Straight-Line Leadership, “A leader’s job is to get to B.”
As in geometry, the shortest distance between point A and point B is a straight line. If there were no forces being asserted against your efforts, you would simply direct your people to move in a straight line from A to B.
The problem leaders face, though, is that there are forces being asserted against your efforts to move in a straight line. Some of them come from realities of the world around us—mistakes, employee problems, unforeseen events, supply shortages, market conditions, competition, etc.
But the biggest forces working against you may be internal—having to do with who you are being—that is, what kind of leader you’re being. Too often, the problem with staying on that straight line is that you aren’t a straight-line leader. You might show up as a circular leader. Djukich describes this kind of leader as someone who keeps seeking more information—more than he needs—but won’t act on it. He keeps circling around looking for more information but doesn’t set in motion the action needed to get to B. Other leaders show up, he tells us, as zig-zaggers. Zig-zag leaders repeatedly thrust forward on a straight line and then stop to circle around before they thrust forward again.
What you’re doing to get to B is less important than what kind of leader you’re being. It’s hard for any team to get behind someone who is not calling for action or who starts and stops again and again.
Straight-line leaders come from a place of empowerment. They believe that B is attainable and that they can use their human and other resources to get there. They say what needs to be said even if feelings will be hurt. Djukich tells us that they’re loyal to the greatness of their people rather than to their smallness. And they keep moving forward, acquiring the knowledge they need as they go and applying it to move forward, rather than stopping and regrouping or changing direction.
Is there a “B” that you’re having difficulty moving your organization toward? Maybe who you’re being as a leader is the problem.
Contact me if I can help you be the leader you need to be and keep REACHING…
I talk with CEOs almost every day who appear to have two people residing in their bodies: The Fearless Leader and the Fearful Manager.
When the Fearless Leader is in charge, she has a clear vision of the company’s future and plans to get it there. She knows she will need to invest time, energy, human resources and money to do it. She understands that she will get there more certainly with investments in training, technology, etc. She knows there is risk involved, but sees the potential reward as her driving force. If financial resources are tight, she finds a creative way to raise the money the company needs because she’s committed to her vision. And she inspires her people by sharing that vision.
When the Fearful Manager is in charge, even if he sees the value of something that will help him improve business, he is deafened and blinded by his terror. He sees taking an entrepreneurial risk as a direct road to disaster. He sees his Board, if he has one, gunning him down. He hears “expense” wherever the word “investment” might appear to his counterpart. “If I have to spend money for (technology, human resources, etc.)” he exclaims, “it’s just too risky.” He closes his creative faculties to any ideas that would generate the resources needed.
There’s no doubt that when the Fearless Leader is in charge of your company, you will do significantly better in the long run. As long as the Fearful Manager is in charge, however, your company will fall further and further behind your competition.
Who’s in charge of your business today? If it’s the Fearful Manager, fire him. Believe it or not, who you put in charge of your business is a choice you make every day. Keep the Fearless Leader in charge.
I coach business leaders to keep the Fearless Leader in charge. If the Fearless Leader is in charge of your business let me help you sort out the steps you need to take to accelerate your company’s growth and productivity. If the other guy is in charge, let me help you get rid of him.
Contact me to help you stay the powerful leader you’re capable of being. And keep REACHING…
Some time ago, I opened up a fortune cookie at the conclusion of a Chinese dinner and read this:
“To Be Successful in Business Be First, Be Daring, Be Different.”
I dropped the fortune into my nearly empty tea cup. But then it struck me that this little slip of paper extolled the exact advice I give many of my clients—not just about business, but about careers and as a way to live their lives. It really did say something about someone’s future! I dug the wet fortune out of the cup with a fork, dried it off and saved it.
These days almost everything on the market has become a commodity–like apples in a supermarket. If you want one, you look for the juiciest one you can get at the lowest price. You don’t particularly care what farm it came from or who the distributor is. Twenty or so years ago, if you wanted a computer, your choices were an IBM (First), an IBM “clone” (Daring), or an Apple computer like the MacIntosh (Different). Today, however, if you want a computer, you may still want a brand name, but unless it’s an Apple (Different), you are unlikely to care which brand name it is. In other words, name-brand computers have, for most of us, become . . . well . . . expensive apples—commodities that are not unlike fruit in the supermarket.
Has it happened in your industry? To you? Does your business or product or service look to your customers and clients like supermarket fruit? Is the only way you can think of to compete by price, resulting in smaller margins, less revenue and significantly weaker client/customer loyalty? When you’re First or Daring or Different, your competitors are the supermarket fruit, but you’re not one of them. You’ll attract the people who don’t want just any apple. They want YOU.
Take a stab at being First, Daring or Different:
- Change your business. If you’ve been telling people you run a [whatever you do] business that works with anyone and everyone, stop doing that. Be the number one company in a category. Be the one that dares to _____. Be the only one around whose fee structure is _____. First, Daring, Different.
- Articulate your unique value to your customers. With so many choices, why should they be working with you and not someone else in the same business? Do what you can to keep price from being the distinguishing factor.
- Get help with your brand, your leadership, and your services. Turning yourself from an apple into anything else is never easy. That’s one reason why top executives hire coaches.
Whether you get help or not, to be successful in business be First, be Daring, or be Different. And keep REACHING…
“People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.” ~ Simon Sinek
Leaders who have worked with me know that I believe that business owners and professionals need to be crystal clear about their answers to three questions:
- Who do you work with? (Who are your customers/clients?)
- What do you give them that they want or need? And
- Why will they buy this product or service from YOU (and not someone else or using some do-it-yourself workaround)?
In his eye-opening TED Talk several years ago, author Simon Sinek talked about how communicating your WHY is the most important factor in growing your business. Sinek drew what he called the “Golden Circle”:
“Most companies sell from their WHAT,” he told the audience. He used computer companies as his example:
We sell great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly. Wanna buy one?
“The most successful companies,” he continued, “sell from their WHY.” He used Apple as his example:
[In] everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. (WHY) The way we challenge the status quo is making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user-friendly. (HOW) We just happen to make great computers. (WHAT) Wanna buy one?
Sinek went on to tell his audience that leading with its WHY allows Apple to sell other electronics products with similar ease, while other well-known computer and peripheral companies had difficulty launching related products.
What’s your WHY? What do you believe that drives what you do and who you do it with? Once you are clear on that, you can talk about WHAT you do and HOW you do it.
If you want help figuring this out, contact me. And always keep REACHING…
P.S. If you’re interested, you can find Sinek’s talk here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qp0HIF3SfI4
Image credit: Pixabay
Leading and managing have become so synonymous with each other in our language that an employee might refer to his boss as either. But the two terms are not interchangeable.
RetailerNow offers succinct definitions for leaders and managers: leading serves as the heart, they propose, while managing acts as the brains.
Managers come up with the vision for the company and then establish systems in order to enable their team to reach the goal they have set. They establish measures to determine whether or not their team is staying on track.
Leaders, on the other hand, inspire and motivate the group to work together to achieve the objective. They monitor the progress of the team, urging them on to meet those goals.
So, is a good CEO more of a leader or a manager? According to BFS Capital, he or she should have both skillsets. It’s important for CEOs to be the visionaries for where they want their company to go. At the same time, however, they need to do their part to motivate and inspire their employees so that they are excited to get into their work every day.
This is particularly true in small companies–especially startups. In larger organizations with larger resources, leadership and managerial roles may sometimes be handled by different individuals.
Inc.com provides a helpful guide that differentiates the tasks performed by managers and leaders so that the people performing these functions will better understand what is expected of them.
A recent Forbes article also provides some examples that help CEOs recognize the difference between the responsibilities of leader and manager in a company. The article focuses on Coca-Cola’s CEO Doug Ivester, who makes a conscious effort to provide direction and guidance to his managers so that they can make decisions over matters under their control.
The article points out that in any organization, there should be a clear understanding between CEOs and their managers with regard to who performs which roles so there won’t be any overlapping. It also stresses the importance of collaboration, pointing out that neither the leader nor the manager will be able to perform his/her job effectively without working closely with the other.
While in any organization, roles should be clearly defined, the CEO still retains the ultimate responsibility to be both a leader and a manager. But what if a CEO is good at only one of these skillsets and not the other?
In ’What Will You Earn Your ‘Oscar’ Doing?’, I talked about the importance of mastering your craft. If one of these aspects–being a leader or a manager–is not natural for a CEO, he should look to develop these skills. By consistently self-reflecting to see his weaknesses in one or both areas (and, of course, working with a coach) he can take steps towards improvement.
If you’re a CEO, work on your skills as both a leader and a manager, and keep REACHING…
This month, I began working with the advisors at a national financial institution under an exclusive agreement which limits my ability to take on new financial advisor clients. I will be finishing up my work with current advisor clients and will not be taking on new advisors.
I will continue to work with CEOs and professionals in other fields (attorneys, consultants, coaches, etc.) And my e-letters will return to their motivational and business advice roots.
While my regular one-on-one clients are generally entrepreneur-CEOs of companies that have grown well past the $1 million earnings mark, I have partnered with a couple of incredible business consultants to create online learning centers for businesses that are either just starting or established but generating less than $1 million annually: our Business Leadership Training Center and our Business Startup Training Center.
Today’s article is aimed at these smaller businesses and professionals, who often spend most of their time trying to find and convert new customers and clients…
Does Your Marketing Grab Your Prospects’ Attention?
Do your marketing messages compel your prospects to buy what you sell? Do they tap into their basic emotions? Are you leveraging the fact that most prospects buy on emotion and only then justify their purchase with logic?
Your marketing must convince your prospects that you offer “extraordinary value,” and resonate with them emotionally.
Simply telling them that you’re the best at what you do, or that you give the best service or care about them won’t work. You can’t just say you’re trustworthy, reliable and exceptional. That’s the same thing your competition says. Prospects won’t believe you. Instead, you must find a compelling way to educate them as to why you’re trustworthy, reliable and exceptional.
To consistently attract more clients to your business…and to effectively convert prospects into clients… it’s critical that you create a series of short, clear and concise messages that compel your prospects to instantly want to know more. These short messages must focus on the benefits your business provides to them, and on the value you provide that your competition doesn’t. Here’s an example:
“I help confused and frustrated guys find that perfect discounted diamond that has the highest quality, the lowest price and is backed up with the boldest customer protection guarantee in the industry.”
Compelling messages about what you do and the value you provide will have prospects seeking you out for additional information. They’ll be”pre-qualified.”
Find a compelling message that resonates with new prospects. When you have something that works, it can be incorporated into scripts that you or your staff can use to convert those into paying clients.
Effective marketing is the key to small business success, and the small business owner who learns how to do it will dominate his or her industry.
If you’d like to learn more about this and other topics addressed in our inexpensive, powerful online training, take a Test Drive at http://businessleadershiptrainingcenter.com/guidedtour
And always keep REACHING…