May 27, 2010
Last week, I traveled non-stop, catching connections each day.
Living in airports or on a plane can lead to some pretty sour moods if you let it. It's stressful, and freaked out people or crying babies are everywhere around you. Today's planes frequently have equipment issues, as they are aging, so almost every flight I had was delayed. Painfully.
You cannot feed your mind good stuff is you key on the noise and stress on a travel day. But if you don't manage it, you will. It's too easy. Over the last year or so, I've done the opposite: Tune out the bad, tune into the joy. For example: Last week's humday was a grinder - eleven hours to get back home from a speech. 33D and 35J are not good seats, right next to the bathroom (with the long line of people, hands on the back of your seat.)
I looked around on my last flight and eight rows in front of me, a newlywed couple were laughing and cooing to each other. They were clearly not tuned in to the bad. So I tuned into them, trying not to be obvious. I quickly thought of Jacqueline, and how we've maintained this coo-state for two decades at this point. Made me smile.
In the boarding area for one flight, while an angry passenger was berating a ticket agent for God-knows-what, I scanned for the good and saw it in a smiling toddler that was admiring an old man's poodle. The toddler made the dog's tail wag, the old man smile. And the toddler, in turn, clapped his hands and laughed. I inhaled that scene, and it blocked out the rest of the world. I remembered that the whole point of my trip was to give a talk that created compassion, goodness and happiness. Just like the trio in front of me. I took a deep break, thanked God for all I've got and whistled as I got on the plane.
Of course, it stayed on the tarmac almost two hours before being cleared to take off. But I was largely unaware, because I found something else to occupy my attention ... You can find it anywhere, if you are willing to tune into it.
This is a concept that's included in my next book, Today We Are Rich. Visit the book page and you can pre-order a copy and receive a free eBook excerpt with an entire principle! You can also visit its facebook page too.
May 26, 2010
I recently gave the keynote at the annual AACD conference.
My topic: Social Responsibility. While I spent quite a bit of time talking about the environment and community service, I hammered home the idea that taking care of its employees is the #1 attribute of the great corporate citizen.
This audience, mostly cosmetic dentist practices, is comprised of small businesses. They have a handful of employees, unlike a big company like HP, but it is still very important to grow each employee's skill set be they a dentist or a receptionist. This is your challenge too, and you can help grow people at the supervisory level or as a business owner.
May 24, 2010
Here's a tip from Nick Morgan: Rehearse your speech the day you give it.
That's right, no matter what time you are going to speak, budget time for a full run through. In many cases, you don't have access to the room or the talk kicks off the day at 8:00. That is no excuse, just a challenge.
For the last few years, I've taken this advice to heart, and whenever I do this I am always more prepared. In many cases, this means that I get up at 5:30am, get ready and give the run through right up to the 7am sound check. It's not easy, and requires going to bed early the night before, but it is worth it. PS - Always give the speech into the mirror, making eye contact with yourself. This technique will also help you make quick adjustments to the talk as your subconscious mind will play audience or critic.
This is especially true if this is a new talk, contains one of a kind content or is being tailored to a unique audience. No amount of mental run throughs will ever replace a real talk through when it comes to getting these word right. If you have already given your talk once, then during your second run through (the actual presentation), your reptilian brain will be available to observe the audience reaction - instead of trying to think about what you'll say next.
Visit the new TimSanders.com to see my latest video clips!
May 20, 2010
This week's video clip comes from last week's trip to Hawaii.
On Thursday, I woke up inspired to blog about encouragement. We read a great deal about it, but little is written to help us give it. Think about it: In many cases, our attempts to encourage others fail to lift their spirits or validate their progress. We wonder why they do it - false humility on their part, a lack of perceived sincerity on our part, or just the timing of it all.
This is an important area of leadership development. We can all agree that our people need encouragement, but the point is that it's not about giving encouragement...it is about them receiving and accepting it!
In my experience, I've learned that there's an art and science to giving encouragement, especially to people that need it the most. This video clip shares four tips on how to hit the bulls-eye every time.
May 19, 2010
This is a message small business owners: You are doing too much sub-minimum wage work!
In the last few years, you've likely trimmed your staff, and now you are the chief cook-shipping clerk and task runner for your company. Much of it isn't worth your time, after all, when your business is booked - you are worth hundreds of dollars per hour!
When you spend your time mailing, sorting, sifting and even blogging/tweeting, etc. - you are eliminating time and energy to earn what you are really worth. Think about it: How much time do you invest in these activities versus what income they actually produce? Do you really think that washing your own car or cleaning your own office is still necessary? You act like it's still Oct 2008 when you do this and to quote Tom Peters: You cannot shrink your way to greatness.
This is going to be a big emphasis for me, personally, in the coming months. I'm going to delegate or eliminate all tasks that deliver less than 50% of my average hourly billing in return. That includes hiring someone to help me get from idea-to-blog much faster. I'm going to stop touching paper, shipping things or running errands for the sake of getting out. I'll reinvest my time into marketing my speaking/consulting business and writing books. Everything else, is g-o-n-e.
Here's your takeaway: Write down a list of everything you did this week that took ANY time. Note how many of them you've taken on in the last year due to necessity or being seduced into it as a "mindless task" far easier than being creative. You'll be shocked to find that up to half you time is in these area. I know the high value work is more challenging - but you are worth it!
May 17, 2010
In the last few months, one thing's become clear: We are wasting too much time 'surfing the social web' when we should be working, building and executing. It's not much different than 1998-2000, when we couldn't get enough of search and email. But worse. Now we think it's connected to our job, or even worse, a god-given replacement for the smoke break at work. And the amount of niche and user-created content makes for a bottomless pool of information for us to drown in.
Think about it: You go online to check a stock or look up a site. You get distracted by a headline, go down that foxhole, and before you know it you are on your Facebook page, posting comments and clicking around. Then, realizing you might have just lost a half hour, you bounce over to email - and now there are ten from Facebook, along with multiple others that ask you to "click here" (work and/or spam). Before you know it, most of the morning non-meeting gap (only 60 minutes) is g-o-n-e. Now you'll have to answer your emails tonight or super early manana.
Does this sound familiar? You can't really manage time, but you can budget it and stay on plan. This is what you'll have to do if you want to take your life back. Look at it this way: Social surfing takes MUCH more of your time than smoke breaks. When's the last time a smoker hit the porch, and wolfed down a pack (taking about an hour)? When you add up blogs/portals/gossip/social media and shopping site time spent, I'd venture that you're surfing online up to half of your day!
This is going to be hard, because you've built up the addiction over the years, and social media's like digital-crack: much more addicting, with a high that needs to constantly be refreshed. Here's my action plan for you, try this starting TODAY!
1. Give yourself two or four 30 minute (Web Usage) periods per day to start. That's alot, I know, but you'll also use this time to sift through emails that require web use as well as any searches you need to do for work-related research. Put these blocks in your calendar and stick to them.
2. Don't make up excuses to go online outside of your four sessions. Don't let an email bait you. Don't think you can just check one price or score and stop. You must go cold turkey.
3. Organize what you'll do in your 30 minutes for the first 2 minutes of every session. This way, you can prioritize things, and that'll eliminate the need to break the plan.
4. Observe some other internet-addict for inspiration. Watch him/her waste time, floating around aimlessly from Yahoo to TMZ to Facebook to whatever-doesn't-relate-to work. Watch how listless they seem, and how low their energy is. Listen to the mindless chatter they spew in the lunchroom, mostly gossip and useless news-of-the-day. Do you really want to be 'that guy'?
5. When working on email, click File/Work Offline so you are in send mode, this will keep you focused on answering emails and eliminate click-here temptations. Eventually, make the four 30 minute sessions include ALL online time, including email. Read about the low-information diet plan in The Four Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss.
6. If you fall off the horse and cheat, don't give up on the plan. This is like quitting anything, you're doing great to be on the plan, don't beat yourself up because quitting is hard. Let everyone you know that you are on this plan, especially if they are tempting you to go online out-of-schedule. If you have to, get a friend or even better a manager to help you. You just may beat this!
In his book Mojo, Marshall Goldsmith suggests that many of us waste time online at work, and don't get much satisfaction or performance from the activity. He's right. In fact, by surfing as we work, we enter into the most unproductive creative state: Multi-tasking. It creates constant decision shift, directly leads to depressionand saps your focus for the next meeting, call or client interaction. If you know someone who needs to read this note, please send it to them with the following message: Time is gold and the world wants to steal it from you - with an offer of edutainment.
May 11, 2010
Early in life I learned that devil's advocates are a dime a dozen.
And it's a job you shouldn't volunteer for either. Sure, without anyone to poke holes in ideas, we could all come down with group think or be bowled over by a persuasive presenter. That's why we step up at the first opportunity with the passive-aggressive disclaimer, "OK, let me play Devil's Advocate for the sake of argument..."
The character emerged during the sixteen century in the Catholic Church to regulate the canonization process. A lawyer was assigned to take the role of skeptic when someone was considered for canon. He would poke holes in the candidate's character, history and worthiness in a attempt to discredit him for the sake of the church. It was an assignment, not a job you cheerfully volunteer for.
Today, we've taken this to the extreme. When someone at work has a new idea about a product or a process, we take on the role of devil's advocate before they've even expressed half the idea. We treat them like idiots, posing objections to them in a tone of voice that suggests, "have you even considered the obvious?" We do the same thing at home. Our kid has an idea for a business and we go into skeptic mode, shooting down her enthusiasm before the food hits the table. In every situation, we don't improve the way the ideator thinks. Research suggests that only authentic dissent (You truly think it's a bad idea) can provoke a better idea. When you argue for the sake of argument, you merely bolster the ideator's conviction as well as her feelings that she's all alone on this one.
Think about a serial devil's advocate's point of view: No ideas, land-of-no, probably a poor self-image that's being bolstered by pessimism. I've never met a person of this type that was creative, innovative, enthusiastic or even inspirational. As Chris Brogran would say, "you don't want to be that guy." <But often, many of your are - at this point it's a knee jerk reaction on your part. If you saw yourself on tape, you'd be shocked!>
So, here's my advice to you: Don't be a Devil's Advocate unless it is absolutely necessary to prevent a mistake. Let the bankers, the CFO, the lawyers and everyone else further down the development process be the hole-punchers - when you hear a fresh idea in conversation, try being a collaborator instead. Help build on the idea, get the premise at the center of the table and imagine how it might all unfold. Authors of The Experience Economy, Joseph Pine & Jim Gilmore call this the "Yes, And" approach to talking about ideas. (Video: Yes, And VS Yes, But).
I hope more of you join this in this approach - the world is full of too many Devil's Advocates and not enough conversational partners and collaborators.
This idea will be part of my next book, Today We Are Rich. Normally, works in progress aren't posted on Sanders Says, but today I think the message is tied to the blog's narrative regarding relationship building and leadership development. Get sneak peeks of the new book at my Facebook public page.
May 10, 2010
A well rehearsed person is a prepared person.
This mantra applies to any type of human performance: Conversation, presentation, task completion, ideation session, customer meeting or demonstration. The trick, though, is to actually rehearse under real-world conditions. Sure, you may conjure up a crowd of insiders to pose as the audience or environment and sometimes they pepper you with distractions to see if you can weather them. Mostly, though, the real distractions on game-day leave you ill prepared, knocking you out of your groove.
You shrug your shoulders and say to yourself, "there's not way to create the real distractions I'll likely face, so I'll deal with them as they come up the best way I can." Hmmm, doesn't sound like a winning strategy to me! Instead, let me offer an obvious but helpful solution -- Practice dealing with distractions in your regular life.
For example, you are on a crowded plane, trying to answer your emails (or write a blog post for later). A baby across the aisle is screeching and a grammar school brat behind you is kicking your chair. Breathe deeply, and continue you work. Don't cheat and put on headphones, you don't get to do that in your 'performance life.' Tune out the noise and the back of your seat and defiantly tune into your task at hand - creative typing.
At first, you'll find it a bit unnerving, trying to do two things at once. Soon, your 2nd brain (the reptilian brain) will take over the task of filtering out stimuli, while your 1st brain resumes your task of tapping out ideas on your keyboard. Try this exercise every time you are faced with a highly distracting environment and it will become 2nd nature to you. Then, when you are actually giving that presentation at work and someone is checking his blackberry, another person's phone is going off and there's a fire engine siren blaring on the street -- you'll tune it all out and make a stellar presentation.
In his fabulous book, The Power Of Now, uber-guide Eckhart Tolle says that distracting noises irritate us because we have a wall that catches them (our attention). Instead, he offers, "let the baby's cries pass right through you, no wall to catch them." Much like you learn to deal with pain at the dentist's office, you can over time deal with distractions in your life.
As a professional speaker, my life is filled with distractions that can either take away from my focus (as well as my audience's) or just pass through us unnoticed. I've had gun shot sounds in Bogota, a fire alarm go off at a hotel in Las Vegas and multiple phones ring during the key moment of my signature story. I was blissfully unfocused on all of them. But it required some exercise!
The added benefit to this strategy is an improved quality of life. Up until now, daily distractions (crying babies, ringing cell phones, loud noises, rude people) are a source of anxiety and irritation in your life. Being interrupted in a task creates what psychotherapists call "decision shift," a stressor that can lead to depression and anger. By looking at distraction as an opportunity to rehearse, instead of an annoyance, you are transmuting it from a problem into a solution. Now, as I travel and attempt to write, the same annoyances that make every one around me c-r-a-z-y just make me smile, bear down, and take in a very necessary distraction-rehearsal session.
For more on this topic, read: The Value Of Rehearsing
May 07, 2010
Another tennis lesson, another life lesson or two.
My tennis coach Nick Matthews is a great player and an amateur psychologist as well. When I woke up this morning, I felt groggy and my legs weighed a ton. When I showed up at the court at 10:00am, I worried that I'd half to quit the lesson in less than the allotted hour. Well, I hung in there, played seventy minutes and gained some confidence at the end of the session in my swing and physical stick-to-it-ness. That alone, was a lesson learned about finishing what I commit to (watch The Wheezer Story for more).
But the bigger lesson came when I half way swung at a shot and ended up with a bloopy winner. Rare point! Nick came up to the net and motioned for me to join him. "You'll never get confidence by winning a point the wrong way. That shot wasn't in form, you pinged it." The victory dance stopped. He was right.
When you play a game, there are rules that you abide by and form that you adhere to. Good form in tennis is about hitting through the ball, using your big muscles. When I swat at the ball with only my right arm only involved, I'm not doing it right. And at a subconscious level, I know very well that I'm not doing it right. When I hit one perfectly, I feel it, and Nick's right, I grow in confidence from my good form and positive results. When I hit a funky shot without regard to form, and I win the point, I know that it was a lucky-stroke - unlikely to ever happen again.
This isn't just a sports lesson, we'd all do well to take that into our professional life as well. There are rules for your business, industry or vocation. You agree to them when you hang out your shingle or agree to take the job. If you don't like the rules, don't agree to them.
Same goes for form. That's the process that's been built over time, a proven system for success. You are likely taught this early on by your boss or a mentor. There's a right way and a wrong way to do any job from administration to sales to management. In the world of business services, for example, a good sales person knows to have a conversation with the client instead of just showing some power points or a brochure and going for the close. When you short circuit that form, and get the occasional slam dunk sale, you don't feel like you earned it and you know deep in your heart that you've just had a once-in-a-hundred experience. You don't get any swagger from it, and the temptation to do it again calls into account the credibility of the system.
Your company culture may say that when a manager is upset at an employee, he should remain calm and focus on business results. When he, instead, screams at the person in question in front of the entire office, he's not in good form. The offending employee may apologize, scramble to fix the problem and swear he'll never do it again. This will not cause the manager to feel confident in himself, the company culture and advice he'd been given about dealing with his people. If others in the office observe this success through screaming tirade, they may begin to question the system too. No one wins.
Deep confidence at work requires self-belief, trust in others, and faith in the system. If you do anything to raise your buy-in to the system (rules and form), you general feelings of confidence will soar. That's why, when I follow Nick Morgan's process of writing a keynote speech, and it works, I'm confident at every level. If I give a talk that works, but don't take all the steps that I know I should, bad things happen. I get lazy or even worse, decide that the system isn't worth sticking to. Mostly, my integrity eats away at any feeling of accomplishment, pointing out how much better I would have done had I done it right. In any situation, my confidence will shrivel over time.
Next week, before you go to work, review: What are the rules, and am I following them? What is good-form for my role and am I following it? If you've started to just get by instead of considering yourself always striving for excellence, you might be shocked to find that you need to brush up on the basics again and humble down to obeying them. When you do it like your leaders suggest, and it works, you'll find that you are relaxing a bit, feeling more sure of success, because the system works! You also start to believe in yourself too as a good student that is highly capable of executing agreed upon plans. You believe you'll get it right the next time too. Any investment you make in form is an investment in the system - and rocket fuel for your confident outlook.
This is a concept that's included in my next book, Today We Are Rich. Visit the book page and you can pre-order a copy and receive a free eBook excerpt with an entire principle! You can also visit its facebook page too.
May 06, 2010
Over the course of my career one thing's certain: Favors are the currency of success.
The favor economy is a business environment where we give to others to promote their success without expectations. Often, the Norm Of Reciprocity kicks in and they return favors to us or parties connected to us -- with compound interest. Such is the nature of love, compassion and decency.
If you don't find yourself constantly doing favors for other bizmates, you aren't filling up your funnel for long term success. In sales, the funnel reference has to do with making enough contacts to creates enough prospects to end up with the targeted amount of paying customers. In the favor economy the funnel is about helping people, getting out of the way, and acting on favors that come back to you over time (many are proactive, not asked for).
For example, this week I'm on track to do six favors for people, investments in our long term relationship. I'm about to dash out the door to meet with a good friend who is trying to break into the speaking business. This AM I did a 45 minutes phone interview with a UK writer working on a book. This Saturday, I'll mentor a new friend on the ins and outs of writing a business advice book. In every case, I expect nothing but attention and follow up on their part. What's the ROI?
Satisfaction, Synergy and Significance. Over the course of the last decade, I've learned that smart favors move mountains. I got my start because of favors: A literary agent decided to educate me and develop me, a friend of hers brought her to one of my presentations as a favor. Tom Peters and Seth Godin endorsed my first book as a favor. A TV booker did a favor for a publicist and I appeared on the Today Show. Even my last call was a solid consulting lead from a fellow author who did me a favor, and recommended me for a job he wasn't up to. Favors are the fuel in my funnel.
Here are a few tips for playing in the favor economy:
1. Nice smart people succeed - This mantra from Love is The Killer App is about being selective in the favors you agree to and the people you contract with to do them. Make sure the favor makes a difference and the target of your give is ready to receive.
2. Account for favors in your time management. Never consider them extra-curricular as they often take business time.
3. Never complain as you deliver the favor. If you agree to meet with someone to give advice, don't grouse about traffic and your harried schedule as you arrive. You are ruining the mood and invalidating the favor to begin with. If you are overextending yourself, cut back on favors (or internet goofing off time) - don't be a giving jerk.