Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Find Your Focus - It’s Easier Than You Think

Strategic advisor, management consultant, and blogger Peter Bregman has written a book that will clearly resonate with everyone who wishes that there were more than 24 hours in a day. He blogs regularly for Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, and Forbes magazines and also provides commentary for CNN and public radio – so he understands this wish in today’s era of instant communication and too many priorities. In his words, “To get the right things done, choosing what to ignore is as important as choosing where to focus.”

Bregman’s book, 18 Minutes: Finding Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done, should be required reading for all new hires and also provided to longer-term employees on their anniversary dates. Imagine a typical day at the office. After arrival and start-up of the computer or laptop, you open your email only to find 200 emails in your inbox. Then, the phone rings, and your boss wants you to completely change your projects for the day. Then, the network crashes. Well, you get it – just like the tagline for Calgon beauty products that has become a cult phrase, “Take me away.”

The book provides secrets to cut through the clutter and distractions so that you can focus and accomplish your objectives. Here are some:

  • Regular rest stops are useful interruptions.
  • Don’t settle for being less than you are. It won’t serve others and it won’t serve you.
  • Know what outcome you seek.
  • Recover your passion – think about what you love doing.
  • Failure is inevitable, useful, and educational. Just don’t give up.
  • The time to judge your failures and successes is never.
  • Plan your day ahead so you can fly through it, successfully maneuvering and moving toward your intended destination.
  • Reduce your overwhelm by putting your tasks in an organized list.
  • If you really want to get something done, decide when and where you are going to do it.
  • Never leave things on your to-do list for more than three days. They’ll just get in the way of what you really need to get done.
  • The right kind of interruption can help you master your time and yourself. Keep yourself focused and steady by interrupting yourself hourly.
  • Spend a few minutes at the end of each day thinking about what you learned and with whom you should connect. These minutes are the key to making tomorrow even better than today.
  • The world doesn’t reward perfection. It rewards productivity.

And now, here’s a breakdown of Peter’s 18 Minutes:
  • Step 1 – 5 Minutes: Your morning minutes – plan ahead.
  • Step 2 – 1 Minute Every Hour (8 Minutes): Refocus – manage your day hour by hour. Don’t let the hours manage you.
  • Step 3 – 5 Minutes: Your evening minutes – review how the day went.

According to Peter, the key is to add this 18 minute review to your routine EVERYDAY. “This particular ritual may not help you swim the English Channel while towing a cruise ship with your hands tied together. But it may just help you leave the office feeling productive and successful.” Now, who wouldn’t want that?

For more information, visit: http://peterbregman.com

Follow Peter on Twitter: https://twitter.com/peterbregman

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Aspiring Leaders: Define Your Purpose and Build A Strong Personal Brand

Selena Rezvani wrote an interesting book entitled, The Next Generation of Women Leaders, What You Need to Lead but Won’t Learn in Business School. While the book targets women, there are some important lessons within the book that resonate with all aspiring leaders, male or female.

While it's important to discover and define one’s purpose, an aspiring leader must hold onto his or her core beliefs and spirit. A successful example is Maxine Clark, the CEO (or Chief Executive Bear in company-speak) of Build-A-Bear (follow on Twitter). Clark saw an opportunity in 1997 and founded the company. Today, there are more than 400 stores worldwide as a result of her idea of building personalized stuffed animals.

In order to define one’s purpose, Rezvani suggested that the following questions will help:
  • If you had unlimited power, how would you use it?
  • What did you love doing as a child?
  • What do you love doing in your spare time?
  • When do people ask you for help?
  • What is the single biggest barrier preventing you from leading?
  • How would your professional biography read if you had the perfect career?
  • When you get compliments at work, which ones are the most satisfying?
  • Is there a job you love so much that you would do it for free?
  • What work activities have you engaged in where time seems to fly?
  • If you were on the cover of TIME magazine, what would the cover caption say?

According to Rezvani, building a personal brand is also critical for all leaders. As a brand marketing professional, I totally agree and assist others to promote their strengths and build their personal brands. In the words of Tom Peters, “Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in…our most important job is to be the head marketer for the brand called You.”

If you want to be inspired and gain some useful leadership tips, check out Rezvani’s book on her website and follow on Twitter.

Click here to read a previous blog post entitled, “Who do you represent: your company or your individual brand?

Click here to read Tom Peters’ article in Fast Company that, while written in 1997, is just as timely today entitled, “The Brand Called You.”

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Progression of Social Media from Real-Time Conversations to Mobile Devices

Please welcome Jamie Turner to my blog. Jamie is the Chief Content Officer for the 60 Second Marketer, an online magazine that provides tools, tips, and tutorials on the newest trends in marketing. Over the past 20 years, Jamie has helped a myriad of companies including AT&T, Cartoon Network, CNN, Motorola, and The Coca-Cola Company to grow their sales and revenues through persuasive marketing. Check out his website, follow on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook. Recently, I discussed the impact of social media on marketing with Jamie and would like to share the highlights.

How has social media changed marketing?
JAMIE TURNER: There are two primary ways that social media has changed marketing. The first is that the consumer now expects the brand to have a dialogue with them. In the past, brands had a monologue with consumers, but today, consumers expect brands to respond to their questions, comments, and complaints via social media. The second way that things have changed is that brands are expected to be completely transparent with their actions and behaviors. In the old days, brands could get away with questionable behavior. But today, consumers watch their every move, and as a result, are quick to Tweet, blog, or post an update to Facebook.

What three questions should a business ask before jumping into social media?
JAMIE TURNER: There are three simple questions to ask before you dive in:
[1] Is social media right for our business? Surprisingly, the answer is sometimes “no.”
[2] Can we devote appropriate resources to this campaign?
[3] Are we going to track and measure our campaign?
If the answer to all three is “yes,” then you’re good-to-go.

How do you measure the effectiveness of a social media campaign?
JAMIE TURNER: One, track and measure your traffic via social media, which is relatively simple in the digital world. And two, understand the concept of Customer Lifetime Value, which is the amount of revenue the average customer generates for your business during the average time that he/she buys your brand. If you understand Customer Lifetime Value, then you can calculate how much money you have spent using social media to acquire a new customer. By using these calculations, you can easily measure the effectiveness of your social media campaign. You can download my presentation on this topic at http://www.slideshare.net/JamieTurner1313/social-media-roi-how-to-calculate-your-success.

What are your favorite websites that focus on social media?
JAMIE TURNER: I’m a big fan of Google’s YouTube channel because the videos are extremely well-produced and provide great value to the viewer. I’m also a fan of Social Media Examiner.
How will the social media landscape change over the next 12 months?
JAMIE TURNER: The big change will be that more people will access their social media campaigns via mobile devices. I talk about this in great detail in my new book, Go Mobile. Mobile is going to transform the way we do business – it has already started, and believe it or not, mobile is not that hard for marketers to manage.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Leadership in the Most Unsuspected Places

With author Lee Goldberg at book signing.

Some people don’t understand the value of reading fiction. They say that we should only read non-fiction. They think that undisputed facts from history and science are the only things we should spend our leisure time absorbing. But if you adhere to that line of reasoning, you are missing out. The truth is, we all need time to get to know our creative sides, where we can just relax and allow ideas to develop.

As a long-time fan of the Monk television show and fictional series by Lee Goldberg, I just finished the thirteenth book in the series, Mr. Monk on Patrol. Don’t worry, I will not share too much of the plot and will definitely not spoil the ending. But, as a marketing and management professional, I was pleasantly surprised by the underlying leadership theme throughout the story.

Fans of the series will be thrilled to see Randy Disher, formerly an important member of the San Francisco Police Department, return as an important character in the story. But the big surprise for me was the type of leader that Disher had become. He moved from San Francisco to a small town in New Jersey and became both the new police chief and also the acting mayor. For most people (real and fictional), this quick ascension of power could be overwhelming.

But, for Randy Disher, he took the responsibilities in stride. He knew what he was capable of achieving, and he was also aware of his limitations. So, as any good leader would do – or should do – he called in reinforcements, in this case, Adrian Monk and his overly competent assistant, Natalie Teeger, and assigned them specific duties.

Consider how these actions appeared to residents of the small town, other members of the police force, and the people to whom Randy reported. But Randy was more concerned about the reasons why he needed assistance and the strengths that Monk and Natalie would be able to provide – than he was about appearances. He needed to look past appearances and focus on desired results.

In the real world of business, how often do leaders ignore their pride – even if they appear to be less than perfect – in order to solve problems, improve products or services, or just do the right thing? Maybe, we really can learn a lot by reading fiction.