Business

On The Road Again

I recently had a wonderful dinner with my twitter friend @_Ashley_Nicole_. We just needed to catch up. The last time we met up she was unhappy with her current job and I was just starting to do research on my own move. I’d seen on Twitter that she had a new job so I knew we needed to re-connect.

In our dinner, I saw a completely different person from the one I’d first met only months before. In a nutshell, Ashley was unhappy, and did something about it. She quit her job (not the easiest thing to do in this market) and joined the ranks of the unemployed. Just hearing her talk about it made me nervous.

But then she kept telling her story of finding a connection, having a meeting that quickly turned into a job interview, and a job offer. She told them what she needed, they said okay. It was a done deal. But here is the kicker. Ashley’s new job, or, the job offer was for a company that was working in the trucking industry. She, like me, have never considered working in that industry. Doesn’t interest me and didn’t interest her.

But here’s the rest of the story. She took the job and she’s become quite passionate about the trucking industry! She loves it! She loves the people she’s with and she loves talking about it! That’s the amazing thing. She quits her job one day and then, just around the corner, was a great opportunity. Just like a recent post where I talked about keeping your eyes on the horizon, Ashley didn’t quit and kept searching for a better situation. She found it. So can you!

Build Trust

I’ve had my fair experiences with managers and directors and one thing that always stands out is that I believe there are two types of managers.It happens to even the best intentioned leaders.

First, there is the leader that you can trust. That trusts you. The respects you and your knowledge. And then there is the one that doesn’t. This idea crossed my mind last week while reading one of my industry publications about landing new business. One of their lessons read,  “Give them what they ask for. Build trust.  Then give them what they need.”

Think about it. You wouldn’t become friends with someone one day and the next day tell that new friend everything that is wrong with them. You’re be lucky to ever see that person again. Instead, friendship is built on a shared respect for each other, which in turn, builds trust. That respect comes over time and is built by conversations, shared experiences and our vast array of differences.

So when it comes to business leaders, your boss, I bet you can imagine how this works. One boss will be “friends” with you. And I’m not talking about being an actual friend; hanging out on the weekends, having drinks over the LeBron James decision or talking politics over dinner. It’s just that respect. The, “I hired you because I believe in you, your talents, and your honest hard-working approach to what we do.”

But then the other boss doesn’t try to be your friend. Doesn’t try to understand your life and your experiences. Don’t apologize for mistakes. Doesn’t trust your talents, your abilities, or your general attitude and knowledge about life and the business you work in.

They are profound differences and unfortunately there isn’t much we can do to change person two. So, find the best boss you can – and work for them – and then become one yourself!

(flickr photo via colemanennis)

Six Months In – Amazing is Happening

I wrote back in January about my theme for 2010: Amazing Awaits. Then back in April, I summarized the first quarter of 2010. First of all, I must say 2010 has been crazy amazing. There have definitely been some amazing highs, but as with any roller coaster, there have been some downs as well. Here are some updates and where I’ve been this year and where I am going to try to go.

Business Goals

  • Sell my book (I have exceeded my sales goes by 400%)
  • Get published on six different blogs (Currently only on two, Primer Magazine and BackSeatFan)
  • Enter four writing contents (Haven’t had luck finding any that interest me)
  • Increase RSS Feed subscriptions (Haven’t had much luck with this, so maybe you should subscribe!)
  • Increase FOCUS email subscriptions (This has been a pleasant surprise. I am 68% to my goal)
  • Work with ten (10) speaking clients (Had six thus far this year! Interested…?)

Personal

  • Read 10 books (just finished number 7!)
  • Pay down half my student loan (On pace)
  • Paint four paintings (I have finished six so far!)
  • Run 25 miles / month (I am averaging 30/month)
  • Play in four tennis tournaments (I will play in my first one in four years next month!)

My Biggest Accomplishments:

  • On top of running, I have started to do one boot-camp a week with a friend of mine. It’s tough, but I absolutely enjoy it!
  • I began my research for my novel!
  • Started to eat healthier – and cook healthier!
  • Grown my network quite a bit
  • I launched a new RichardDedor.com!

Where I need work:

  • I have a lofty goal for getting my fans to sign up for my RSS feed (so why don’t you help me and sign up!)
  • Time management! Seriously, I have too much on my plate and a busy fall is planned, but I need to do a better job of managing my time and limited resources.

My Focus for Q2 2010:

  • I need to keep reading!
  • There are things with my family and my personal life that I need to keep to focus on.
  • My coaching program (which I’d like to launch this fall).

Now my question to you: How was your first half of 2010? What are you going to do to make sure the rest of the year is amazing?

More Thoughts on E-Mail Management

Recently I wrote my second blog post about managing and controlling your e-mail inboxes. I bring this up again for two reasons. But first – a quick refresher. In that previous post, I gave our three suggestions that I use to manage my own inbox. I set up specific times throughout the day to respond. I have a file/folder structure. And I have turned off all types of new message notifications.

Okay, so why am I writing about e-mail again?!

Some people will never understand.

In that previous post I mentioned about how I received an e-mail from someone a half hour after the first e-mail asking me if I had received it yet because I hadn’t yet responded. It happened again this past week, only in a grander sense. I got an e-mail and didn’t respond for two-and-a-half hours. That was simply because it came after one of my checking times and I did respond once the next time period came up. I got in trouble for my slowness in responding.

I responded that using the time-check schedule has made me more productive and thus, it was working. Didn’t matter. I needed to be available on my e-mail all the time. The fact that was left out was that there were no phone calls. I am always reachable by my phone. E-mail should never be the only form of communication. But it just goes to show that some people will never change and will never disconnect from their own worlds and their own needs. The key point here is this: we are all different. What works for me may not work for you, and vice-versa. But each person’s way is valid so long as it works. We should value and welcome unique management systems and work to understand them and work within them, instead of trying to get everyone to do it our way.

Research shows I’m right.

In a recent New York Times article, Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price, they write about the problem with all the technology in our lives. Here are some takeaways from the story:

  • The nonstop interactivity is one of the most significant shifts ever in the human environment, said Adam Gazzaley, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco.
  • Mr. Campbell, 43, came of age with the personal computer, and he is a heavier user of technology than most. But researchers say the habits and struggles of Mr. Campbell and his family typify what many experience — and what many more will, if trends continue. He goes to sleep with a laptop or iPhone on his chest, and when he wakes, he goes online. He watches a TV news feed in the corner of the computer screen while he uses the rest of the monitor to check his e-mail. Major spats have arisen because Mr. Campbell escapes into video games during tough emotional stretches. On family vacations, he has trouble putting down his devices. When he rides the subway to San Francisco, he knows he will be offline 221 seconds as the train goes through a tunnel.

So, there you have it. And what is “it” you ask? I’m not sure actually. I just wanted to share my thoughts on e-mail and technology again. I guess what I’m trying to say at the basic level is that I urge you to manage your e-mail and technology usage so life and your passions can happen. That’s why I have my system.

How do you feel about all this e-mail and tech talk?

Be a Child

I met a speaker years and years ago (when I was in high school) and one of his core messages was quite simple: Grow up to be a child.” Sometimes when I speak to audiences now, I tell that story. Mostly because I didn’t really understand it then quite as well as I do now. I’m 26 years old now and I definitely want to be a child.

I am a fan of Matthew Mitcham’s on Facebook and he recently reminded me of this attitude. If you don’t remember, Mitcham won the gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in the 10m platform dive, and was my 2008 Most Memorable Moment.

He posted a few pictures on his fan page a few weeks ago of balloons. They were balloons he had made and a photo of the balloons in his bag, ready for their next victim. Well, he was asked some questions by his fans and here was his response: I love balloons. They symbolise happiness and celebration. I carry around a pack of assorted balloons everywhere I go :P

Therefore, I think I’m going to start carrying balloons with me! Why? Because he is right. Balloons make people smile, and I love seeing people smile. Balloons remind us to laugh and be kids. Those two things are important – priceless really.

When was the last time you played with a balloon? Or even blew one up? Or had a water-balloon fight?

It’s summer-time. It’s time to be a kid again. Never grow up.

Control Your E-Mail

I have recently changed the way I process my email. It has been a God-send! First off, I have two offices. I have my home office and my office office. I manage each one differently; mainly because they use different systems and because I have different needs at each place. But as I said, I recently made some drastic changes in how I manage my e-mail in and out flow.

Email

There are tons of articles out online about how to manage your e-mail inbox like a CEO. And while I love reading and taking tips from my role models, I’m not a CEO. I don’t have a secretary that can manage my flow for me. So, I can’t really manage my inbox like a CEO. I have to manage it with a system that works for me. Below are my three tips that I have slowly implemented to manage my inbox like someone who cares how time is used.

1. Set up times to respond.

This will take some getting used to. Trust me. I tried a year ago to do it and I eventually reverted back to my old ways of leaving my inbox open all day. But last month I thought I’d give it another shot. This time, I pulled out an index card and wrote six times on it. 8:00, 9:30, 11:30, 12:45, 2:00 and 3:00. I put it up on my bulletin board which is right beside my monitor. Those are the times when I can open my inbox. Then I have to close it. As I said, this takes some getting used to not only from yourself, but from your coworkers. I actually got an email the week after I went on this schedule that asked (because I hadn’t responded two seconds after I receieved the message) if I had received the message. Here’s a tip, if you need something immediately, pick up the phone.

2. Develop a file structure.

I still struggle with this one at the office. I don’t like the idea of a “to do later” folder, but at home, I have created a similar system. I get a ton of emails. Most of them are by choice. I get notified of new comments on my Brazen Careerist profiles, as well as Facebook notifications. But I also get a lot of emails from my bank, my credit card companies and my investment firms. I used to take care of all these emails and bills on a daily basis. 18 months ago I decided that was a waste of time. So I now pay all my bills on Sunday evenings. It manages the time better. But now, I have a folder that I use weekly to file away all the financial emails I get throughout the week that I know I will go back to on Sunday. It keeps my inbox clean and makes it easy to get through my Sunday night without any problems.

3. Turn off the notifications.

Seriously! If you don’t want to take my No. 1 point up there and implement it, at least turn off all the notifications. Turn off the pop ups and the little chims. They are destroying your productivity! And you could even turn off your phone notifications too. I have news for you: none of us are that important that we have to drop everything, every five seconds to check the email.

Since I have implemented these changes, I have noticed something. A half hour after I shut my inbox, I look on my taskbar and search for the e-mail; out of habit! I had never realized how much time I spent on emails until I made these changes. Take control of your inbox!

What tactics do you use to manage your inbox?

(Flickr image via buckaroobay)

Everything is Not as it Seems

We’ve all heard the saying, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” (I wrote about not judging a book with my review of Man and Boy. Much has been made of the 140 character world of Twitter. (Feel free to find me @RichardDedor.)

Anatomy of the TweetRecently, I found this awesome image. It shows what goes on behind the scenes with each tweet. Amazing, huh?

But the same goes with life and dreams. There is a whole heap of action, discussion, research, study, planning and more planning before anything sees the light of day. I know this all too well as an author and a speaker. I’m usually hired to speak for 60 minutes, but at least 300 minutes goes into prepping for each client. There is the research and practice and more practice and changes to the outline and then more practicing.

Do you do the same? Do you put in the time before you show your “cover?”

Are the best you can be?

Respect Other’s Time

I was recently in a business meeting and for the first hour it was was report-outs from the staff. There were nine people to report during a 50-minute period. It was simple updates on on-going projects and recent meetings and trainings the group had attended. The first three reports went smoothly and gave their brief updates. That’s when the train went off the tracks.

Two people took a half hour, leaving only 20 minutes for the rest of the group. The second of the two people pretty much did a play-by-play of their recent two-day trip. They gave detailed descriptions of discussions and conversations. They even described a wasted meeting where the group couldn’t agree on an item.

We got way off schedule and it astonished me on the way they presented the way they did. What it showed was the things we must all remember anytime you are delivering a report.

  • Respect everyone’s time
  • Whatever you report and say must add to the conversation
  • Give relevant information… follow up with details later

Doing those three things will show you respect the other people in the meeting and show you know the most important details of your presentation.

(flickr photo via ToniVC)

Overdraft Protection

Ah, the joys of multitasking. We pride ourselves on our ability to handle multiple projects, multiple tasks and multiple phone calls at once. But here’s a question: Do you have Overdraft Protection on your life when you over-multitask?

Right now, I have three programs on my computer running: Firefox, iTunes and Microsoft Word. In Firefox I have five tabs open. But of course I am only using this one. My Gmail is open. I have flickr open for the photo that goes with this post. My last two tabs are news stories that I am in the process of reading.

But I have to ask myself: Why don’t I just read the full articles and then close the tabs? I honestly don’t have an answer. I’ve been trying to get better with my multitasking nature, but to no avail. And this last week, I hit my low-point.

I received a letter in the mail from my bank. Yup. I had overdrawn my account. Shame on me! I’ve had banking accounts since I was like five years old and I’ve managed a checking account since I was probably 15, when I got my first job. In all those years, 11 to be exact, I’d never overdrawn my account. But now I have. I am now a statistic.

Thankfully, my bank forgives one overdraft fee. Thank-you!

But you know how it happened? I was multitasking. I was paying a credit card bill online, recorded the future payment on the bill, filed it away, recorded it on an excel sheet I keep for specific purchases, then moved on. I skipped one step – I didn’t record it in my register. So, thinking I had more money than I did, I transfer some to a different account. Not good.

The dumbest thing for me was that I was multitasking while I was doing financial stuff! One of the most important things and I wasn’t completely focused! I learned my lesson.

(flickr photo via jagger)

Where do you need to be more focused?

Blink – Book Review

I recently finished Blink by Malcom Gladwell, and while not as good (in my opinion) of his latest work, Outliers which I already reviewed. While Outliers looked at what created personal success. Blink focuses on the two seconds your mind takes in making decisions. In a nut-shell it was fascinating.

Why You Should Read It:

  • If you’re at all interested in how our minds operate, this is a good and quite quick read about our conscious and subconscious processes.
  • If you’re a manager or leader, Blink will definitely shed some light on not only why employees react the way they do, but also why you, as a leader, respond the way you do as all.
  • If you think you know everything there is to know about how to best make every day and major life decisions, this is a must read.

What You Can Expect to Walk Away With:

  • A changed perspective on your decision making.
  • Realize knowing everything oftentimes can be a huge detriment to your ability to make quality choices.
  • Less is definitely more
  • On the flip side, in certain situations, more is better, but you must allow the information to process.
  • If not a deeper understanding, you’ll definitely be challenged to look back on the decisions you have made and will make.

I do recommend this book, but it is harder to follow than his later works. Gladwell always seems to take very simple things, that are actually very complex concepts and biolt hem down to real-life stories and research that make sense. I caught myself on multiple occasions having the “ahhh, that’s why that happens,” moments. I think you will too.

I leave you with a quote from the book. It comes from Retired Colonel Van Riper; “What my brother always says is, “Hey, say you are looking at a chess board. Is there anything you can’t see? No. But are you guaranteed to win? Not at all, because you can’t see what the other guy is thinking.’ more and more commanders want to know everything, and they get imprisoned by that idea.”