Productivity

Does Creativity Occur in Silence?

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Do you need to have the television on or the radio playing to get your creative juices flowing – or do you need silence?  For some people it is a combination or it depends on their mood or their projects for the day.

I have often wondered whether or not I was at my creative best in silence or with the company of the radio or television.  The fact that great ideas for client projects seem to come to me in the shower or while I am eating or driving made me think that I was not giving myself enough quiet time to be my best.

Over the last couple of months I have been paying attention to my work patterns and decided to conduct an experiment for myself.  For those of you who are entrepreneurs and work from home you can probably relate to this scenario.

You wake up in the morning and your office is calling to you – no matter what time it is.  But getting up and going straight in to the computer can feel isolated so you turn on the television with the thought that you will “get tuned into what’s going on in the world” while you check emails.  The morning show gives you quick teasers about the upcoming stories and before you know it an hour has gone by and they are still telling you what will be “coming up next.”  (I swear they spend more time telling you about an upcoming story then actually delivering it to you.)

Although you think you are multi-tasking you are really distracted-tasking.  Your focus may be on the email or the blog but part of you is still listening to the television or the radio.  At least that is how I have been feeling lately.  So I decided to make a change.

Starting a couple of weeks ago I did not turn on any distractions first thing in the morning.  I committed to begin my work whenever I got up and keep going as the flow dictated.  What a difference it has made in just a short time.  I have always found that first thing in the morning is my best writing time and I was jeopardizing that by my need not to feel isolated.  In addition, when I turned on the television for company my real starting time was delayed by at least an hour or two.

I realize not every week (or day) will be as creative and productive for me as these last few have been.  I will have times when my brain does not want to create and I have to be willing to change my pattern.  This week I am getting up to speed with a new client, which means reading her latest book.  This allows me to substitute an hour or two of just reading if I cannot make the keyboard sing when I had planned to write.

If you are a morning person and you do your best work first thing before client issues come up, take full advantage of that time.  If you are accustomed to starting your day with the company of your favorite morning show – try to resist turning it on.  Record it and watch it during lunch or later in the day.  You will probably find that the “breaking story” of the day is really not that big of a deal and you could spend two minutes reading about it or watching the video online instead of waiting an hour to see the 5-minute segment live.

Consider it this way – if you start your day creative and productive, you won’t feel guilty about taking a break in the afternoon (after a full eight hours of work).  You can always jump back in and check emails and work on projects after you have given your brain time to percolate in a relaxed state.  Who knows what might come to your mind when you are taking a walk outside for a half hour or even doing the dishes?

What do you do to be your most creative?  Do you need silence?  Do you work better with the occasional distraction? I would love to learn new ways of being creative – and productive.  Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

How to Maximize Bit.Ly for More than Shortened URLs

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Are you getting the most out of your shortened url service?  This is not a sales pitch and I am not an affiliate of Bit.Ly.  I have been using bit.ly for shortening my own links and those of my blogging clients for quite some time and I find it a valuable resource beyond its initial benefit.

The Basics: Bit.ly is a free personalized account so that you can create shortened urls to fit within the character limitations on Twitter and Facebook.

Monitoring Traffic: Provides you with detailed statistics on who, when and how many people clicked on your link and went to your website. The number of clicks is called a click through rate (CTR). Below indicates there were 48 clicks using your specific url and 49 total clicks on the blog (people who tweeted or shared on Facebook directly from Huffington Post)

clicks

With one quick glance you can see how many people Shared the link on Facebook (Shares 7) registered a Like on Facebook (Likes 7), Commented on Facebook (Comments 4) and Commented on the actual blog page (Comments on Page 3)

You can also see what type of traffic you are getting by the hour, day and week.  This helps to see what people are responding to – both by the time of day and the type of tweet and/or Facebook post you are crafting.  Also, if you have not posted during a time when there is strong traffic, it will give you a good indication of the power of the people who are retweeting you.

Traffic

Learning from Hashtags: By seeing other people’s tweets you can quickly see what different hashtags (#) people are using.  This gives you an idea for new hashtag groups to follow – to learn more about a subject matter, to use the hashtags in your own tweets and for following relevant people who use the same hashtag.  For instance look at this tweet that appeared on Bit.ly – there are three hashtags that you may not have thought of to use or follow (#blogchat, #bloggers, #blogging)

Hashtags

Making New Connections: By scanning the other tweets, you can use bit.ly as a reminder to acknowledge and thank people for sharing your link.  On Twitter you can only see the people who retweet you or mention you in their tweets.  Bit.ly allows you to see who tweeted or shared on Facebook directly from your website (or Huffington post) and even the ones who did not use your specific url to do so.  Reach out – follow them, thank them for sharing and start a connection you otherwise might never have made (or known about).

connections

Creating New Ideas: By seeing other tweets on one page, you can also get good ideas of what phrases or concepts “spoke” to your reader.  For instance they may tweet a specific phrase from your blog or write a clever tweet that was retweeted by others.  There is a lot you can learn by seeing other people’s perspective of your work – from what topic might make a great follow-up blog to how to be more creative with your tweets and Facebook posts to get the most attention.

Researching  Others’ Links:  If you see a shortened url link posted by someone else and you want to know all of the above information on it before you access it, simply copy the shortened url, paste it into your internet browser, and add a plus (+) sign at the end and click Enter (bit.ly/dcmFHU+).  You will be able to see the number of clicks and who tweeted it or shared it on Facebook.

Using Bit.ly Preview Plug In: Firefox has an add-on you can download for free that allows you to preview any bit.ly url before opening the link (if you use Firefox as your browser).  It allows you to hover over a bit.ly URL on any web page and see the Page Title, Long URL, and any Click Data. This helps you decide in advance if you the link is worth accessing.  You can also click on the More Information link next to the number of clicks and see the full page of tweets and Facebook posts associated with the link.

Preview

*NOTE:  I have since removed the Firefox Preview Plug-In from both of my computers because it was interfering with my ability to access some of my client’s websites and blogs.  I wish I could provide more information about why this was happening – but needless to say when my computer tech removed the plug in, the problems I was having disappeared.

Take advantage of all the benefits your shortened URL service is providing you.  Be creative with the information to engage with others and to improve your own click through rates.  Have fun with it!

How to Survive a 2-Day Book Marketing Event

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Have you ever come back from a conference and your head is spinning with ideas?  Have you not been able to sleep because all of the great content is keeping your brain moving at warp speed?

When you go to a value-packed conference like the 21st Century Book Marketing Event put on by Arielle Ford and Mike Koenigs be prepared to be swept away.  I went to the first conference last year and I knew what I was in for – fabulous ideas by phenomenal experts.

As the conference began, Arielle asked, “how many of you attending the conference last year?”  Quite a few of the 360 attendees raised their hands, including myself.  A woman behind me said to her friend, “Once wasn’t enough?”   with a tone that implied, why would you have to attend twice?  I smiled and thought, “Strap yourself in, Honey, this is going to be a wild ride.”  What a wonderful example of foreshadowing.  Thirty-six hours later this same woman was up on stage at the end of the event going through a relaxation exercise because she was so overwhelmed.  Yes, I smiled at the irony.

This year I had a plan for maximizing the content and minimizing my sense of overwhelm.  I am confident you will find it useful and adaptable to your own style.

Conference Survival Plan:

1.  Magical Margins: In the left margin of your notebook use shorthand to plan out how you will use ideas and quotes when you get back to work.  This significantly cuts down on the time it takes to go through your 20+ pages of notes and pick out the gems.  You can certainly adapt this idea to your laptop or iPad.  If after the first day you realize you did not keep up with your plan, make adjustments so it works for you.

  • TW/FB – quotes or ideas you want to repeat and share on Twitter or Facebook.  In some cases I put the initials of my clients next to them knowing I would post the comments to their accounts on their behalf.  I could do the same for my own account and/or retweet theirs to expand their brand.  By using socialoomph.com I can easily commit to one hour and schedule posts to several sites that would be published over the next couple of days.
  • AI – Action Item to execute for your clients or your business
  • R – Research, a website you want to check out or a concept you need to look into
  • CC – Colleague Collaboration, a concept you want to execute but are not entirely sure you know how.   Plan to reach out to a colleague for help.   Just writing these two letters next to an idea significantly reduces your stress.  You don’t have to worry about how you will figure something out, set the intention that you have resources available to you and acknowledge you are not alone in the process.
  • FU – (not what you are thinking) – a Follow Up item you need to handle on behalf of a client that was sparked by an idea or concept
  • D – Delegate item to support staff

2. Sort and Schedule: Commit 30-minutes at the end of each day of the event to sort out your tasks and set the priority.  This process can have a tremendous calming effect on you because it can take what seems like a large pile of overwhelm and break it into small pieces of a beautifully executed strategy.  Besides, it is not as if you can go right to sleep anyway…

  • 24 hours – those things that MUST be started or completed the first day back to the office
  • 48 hours – pretty self-explanatory
  • Week – by the end of the week, these items will have been initiated or completed.

3. Rolodex Roundup: As you meet people and exchange business cards,  make a quick note on each one as a reminder of your conversation to ensure a personalized follow up correspondence.  When you get back to your office at the end of the conference, write an abbreviation on each one and/or use your contact system to keep track of the following actions:

  • W – Reviewed their website.  Having reviewed their website will help you in crafting a personalized message when you follow up.
  • B – Do they have a blog?  What is their passion? Could you add value?
  • TW/FB – Connect with them on Twitter and Facebook
  • TY – Send a hand-written thank you card if you can find a mailing address (within 24 hours).
  • EM – Send an email if there is no mailing address (within 24 hours)

Adjust these ideas into a system that you know you can stick to.  You will be amazed at how much better you feel knowing you have a system in place before the event starts.  You will also find it easier to sleep each night because your mind has processed the day’s information and you have sorted it into an easily-digestible action list for a productive week ahead.

Did you attend the event?  If so, I would love to hear about your experience and your take-aways.  If there is something you need, perhaps I know of a resource that can help you.

Getting Started with Blogging & Social Networking

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How often should I be blogging?

djcodrin/FreeDigitalPhotos

djcodrin/FreeDigitalPhotos

How do I efficiently drive traffic to my blogs?

How do I know if anyone is reading them?

Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, shortened urls, click through rates, etc. It can all sound very confusing when you are just getting started. Here are some basics to demystify the social networking world so that you can see the big picture.

Blogging

Regardless of your reason for having a blog, here are some key points to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t start a blog unless you can commit to it – regularly. Creating a blog and then letting it accumulate cobwebs (old posts) looks worse than not having a blog at all.
  2. Begin with at least one blog post per week and work up from there. If you are in the technology or social networking your visitors will expect more frequent blogs because of the ever-changing nature of your field.
  3. Blogs should be professional, yet casual. Depending on your reason for creating a blog, remember that you are leaving an internet footprint and establishing your brand (and reputation) online.
  4. Check out my previous post, 12 Elements of a Great Blog for specific details about writing a blog.

Facebook and Twitter

Use these micro-blogging sites to begin conversations and engage a community with similar professional and personal interests by creating status updates (or tweets).

  1. Facebook is much easier to connect with people through wall posts and comments. You can also follow conversations on a single page rather than multiple posts.
  2. You can build a following much faster on Twitter which gives you the opportunity for more visibility.
  3. Like blogging, stay focused with your posts on both social networking sites. Publishing random comments will take away from your online identity and your followers will lose interest.
  4. Create posts about your blogs and include links to drive traffic to your site
  5. To maximize your efforts, check out this blog post How to Get the Most Bang for Your Book on Twitter about the prime days and times to tweet to get the most visibility.

Bit.ly

http://bit.ly/ allows you to create a free personalized account so that you can create shortened urls. The advantages of this service are:

  1. Allows you to create shorter links to fit within the character limitations on Twitter and Facebook
  2. Provides you with detailed statistics on who, when and how many people clicked on your link and went to your website. The number of clicks is called a click through rate (CTR). Check out the blog previously mentioned “How to Get the Most Bang…” for how to increase your CTR.

SocialOomph

This personalized account allows you to pre-schedule your posts to your social networking sites. It is free to connect to your Twitter account however they offer fee-based premium accounts to connect additional social networking sites such as Facebook. This account will help you:

  1. Be efficient with your social networking efforts. Rather than remembering to write posts throughout the day or getting caught up spending hours on the sites, you can schedule multiple posts for the entire day, week or month.
  2. Optimize the key CTR without interrupting your work flow. Set each post up so that it is published at prime times.

If you are interested in learning more about blogging and how to use social networking to drive traffic to your website, check out our Strategic Blogging Plan.

How to Keep Your Blogging Mojo

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Has it been a while?  Are you plumb out of ideas?  Can’t find the time?  Don’t feel like making the time?

As I step into the confessional I bow my head and say, “Forgive me visitors, for I have sinned, it has been one month since my last blog post.”  Now I could use the logical explanation (excuse) that as a collaborative writer I create dozens of blog posts for my clients every month and yet I can not keep up with my own.  (i.e. The cobbler’s children have no shoes.)  But when it really comes down to it, I struggle just like you do in thinking, What new content can I share?  What questions can I answer?  What can I teach?  How can I best serve? Even with good ideas I still struggle sometimes in finding the time to create and publish the blog, and then drive traffic to it via social networking outlets.

So let’s look at ways to keep our mojo.

Need Topic Ideas?

  • In the past week, what questions have you answered for your clients?  Why not share your answers with the rest of the online world?
  • Have you seen an article in a trade magazine or online that you think needs some clarification or you want to show your clients how they can adapt it for their business?
  • If you were asked to write a How to… article as an expert for an industry publication, what would you write?  Now think in terms of breaking up that content and perhaps elaborating on each subject for a blog series.
  • Use your Facebook profile or Fan page to pose a question and ask for advice, comments or ideas.  Write your next blog on their contribution and your observations.
  • Think about the last speaker presentation you went to.  Are there any thought-provoking gems you want to highlight and relate to your visitors. (Remember to always give credit where credit is due and link back for proper etiquette.)
  • What interesting time saving or business-building concept did you just discover?  By all means, share your excitement and your findings.
  • What are people talking about on the social networking sites?  How might that apply to your audience and your brand?

Need Time Blocking?

  • Knowing that the high click through rates and prime retweeting times are Thursday and Friday afternoons (EST), you should plan to publish at least one post on Wednesday or Thursday morning and schedule your status updates and tweets accordingly to get the most impact.
  • With this deadline, commit to writing a blog draft at least two times a week at the same time each week.  Set that routine and block out that time.  Schedule it like a meeting or conference call and stop making up excuses. (That last part was more of an internal dialogue!)
  • When your creative juices are flowing, don’t step away from the keyboard until you have two blog drafts written.  You know the way you feel when you have written great content?  Keep that adrenaline going by pounding out another one.  (The Real Housewives of Fakeville and their constant bickering will just have to wait!) Can you feel the sense of accomplishment already?

Need Motivation?

  • Because we want to learn what comes so naturally to you.
  • Give us even just a glimpse of your talent so that we too can grow our businesses, our lives and our loves.
  • Share it all! Enough said.

If you still need a nudge, a push, a kick…..a collaborator, I would welcome the opportunity to help you grow your brand.  Creating content and writing comes naturally to me and I want to share it all!  For specifics about my programs, check out:

www.YourVoiceInc.com/BloggingYourBrand and

www.YourVoiceInc.com/StrategicBloggingPlan

How to Get the Most Out of the Editing Process

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When you hand your masterpiece over to someone to fix, tweak, tighten, or double-check, make sure you are very clear about your expectations.  Not all editors have the same focus or technique and rather than assume he/she will bring you the results you are looking for it is up to you to communicate what you want.

For instance, let’s say you sent out  a resume or a blog to five people for their edits and feedback.  Chances are that besides common grammatical issues, each one of the edited versions would be different.  Why?  Because editing is a subjective process if little direction is provided.

Maintaining Your Voice

Just as we each have a unique style, diction, tone and delivery in our verbal communications, so are we different in our writing styles.  If you tend to write in long sentences and your editor is more concise and direct, guess what?  Most often, your piece will come back reading like him or her and not like you.  Sure, the content will be tightened, which has tremendous value but you may have lost your voice in the process.  This is particularly important if you are a speaker or consistently appear in the media, in which case your audience is expecting your book to sound like you do on stage, television or the radio.

Tip:  Tell your editor that you insist on the piece remaining authentic to your voice. For instance, combining all of your fragmented sentences or shortening the descriptive ones may “read” better from a grammar perspective, but it may also create a disconnect with your followers who expect it to sound like you.  Think celebrity Twitter updates – you can probably tell who writes their own and who has ghost-tweeters.

Honoring Your Audience

By the time you have reached any editing stage, you are very clear about who you are addressing in your book.  You know the demographics and you have kept them in mind while you crafted your content.  Make sure your editor is also very clear to whom you are speaking.  Just because you are writing a management book does not mean your audience are college-educated, experienced managers.  You may have decided to tap into the new manager market and if your editor is not aware of your primary focus, he/she may rewrite your content for a higher level of reader.

Tip:  Provide the demographics to your editor upfront. Be clear about your decision to use the phrases and examples you have included so your manuscript does not come back unrecognizable and you have not alienated your audience.

Communicating your template

You may have brought in an editor at an earlier stage of the writing process, perhaps to perform the role of collaborator.  This relationship can have a learning curve to it as he/she works through providing the meat of the content in the way that you prefer.  There is no reason for you to spend your time redlining a piece to death and crushing the spirit of your collaborator because you did not get what you wanted the way you wanted it.

Tip:  Provide samples and templates. If you have already produced similar pieces, provide them to your collaborate as well as a detailed description of the points you want addressed and the format you are expecting.

Matching Your Styles

In addition to having similar writing styles, it is important to also find someone who matches up with your style of content.  Your uncle who is an academic clinician should not be editing your non-fiction parenting book.

Tip:  Research your editor’s past and present clients. Is there a similarity in both topic and audience?  Make sure there is a solid fit rather than just going with your first referral.

Protecting Your Ego

Even though 82% of people surveyed said they had a book inside of them and intended to write one some day, very few have the one thing to follow through with their dream – and it’s not what most people talk about.  It is not a lack of time or talent.  It’s courage.  Many people lack the courage to put their thoughts, expertise and opinions on paper for the whole world to see.  It takes a thick skin to be criticized when there is no taking back what is now in written form.  You will have people say they don’t agree with you, that your sentences are too long, that you didn’t cover the topics they were interested in, and so on.  Writing is a very personal process and it can be easy to have your feelings hurt when your pride and joy comes back looking wounded.

Tip:  Remember the reason you started writing in the first place. If you were determined to tell your story, teach or motivate others, or be a valued resource, then do it.  Make sure your editor knows your motivation (he/she should have asked you that during your first meeting.)  You can’t please everyone so don’t try to be everything.  Ask your editor for constructive feedback and in some cases make them explain their thought process behind the changes.

Interview and hire your editor the same way you would a key employee in your company.  Your editor should stay consistent with your vision and mission, represent your brand well, and in the end, make you look damn good!

Do I Really Need an Editorial Calendar for My Blogs?

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I create them for my blogging clients, I brainstorm about them with my strategic planning clients and yet I am slipping when it comes to keeping on top of my own Editorial Calendar.  Why?  Because the cobbler’s children have no shoes?  I am continuously thinking of new ideas, concepts, and resources for other people that the writing of my own steady stream of blogs has fallen off my project plan.  That is really not a good enough excuse so I am back on the wagon and planning my next set of blogs.

So why am I preaching about the importance of an Editorial Calendar?  Simple – because it is an essential way of maximizing the profitability, effectiveness and efficiency of your blogging.

Yes, and here’s why…

Purposeful Plan – An editorial calendar provides a blueprint for consistent themes throughout a 30, 60 or 90-day plan.  You are less likely to publish posts willy nilly if you have a set plan for the creation of your content.  This will give your blogs a sense of flow and rhythm.

Variety is Not an Accident – To expand on this notion of a rhythm to your writing, plan to add a bit of variety to the type and style of your blogs.  You may want to alternate between a How to…, Interview with…, Top 10 Tips for….., etc.  As you start to gain traction and followers you will want to make sure there is something for everyone each week.  You don’t want to have two or three How to… blogs in a row.   Depending on how you have branded yourself and your content, you may want to consider adding a video blogs into your plan to shake things up a bit.

Accountability – The sheer guilt of missing a deadline.  It’s not easy to ignore the fact that a week has gone by and you haven’t been able to check off these entries on your calendar.  Once you start down that slippery slope, be careful – you may find yourself playing catch up because you are behind by  4, 6, even 8 blogs.  Ay, the guilt.  The shame.  The overwhelm.

Antidote for Writer’s Block – By brainstorming multiple topics at a time, you reduce the possibility that you will sit down at the computer with the time running out to post a new blog and no good ideas floating around in your head.

Write it and They Will Come – Consistently writing quality blogs will secure a larger following because you are viewed as a steady and reliable source for valuable content.  You will see your RSS subscriber numbers increase as well as the number of Comments, Facebook Shares and Retweets.

How to Implement a Solid Plan

Visualize it – (Vision Board not necessary!) When you are looking at a blank monthly calendar, start picking and committing to particular days for each published blog.  Consider the following:

  • Will holidays be a factor for either content or blog release dates?
  • Are there any travel plans or breaks that should be integrated into the schedule?
  • Are there industry-specific events that should be considered or written about?

Brainstorming – Begin to list subjects you want to cover in each blog.  Some of these might be bigger topics that will require a series of blogs to address therefore knowing that ahead of time will help you pick the right time and intervals for publishing them in sequence.  Take into consideration the Categories you have set up on your blog page – those you have already posted about and those that still do not have a corresponding blog post assigned to them.

Plug and Play – Now that you have the days set up, start taking your subjects and inserting them into the pre-planned days.  As you do so, you will likely come up with more concepts and decide to move them around based on a logical sequence.

Let’s Get it Started – While you have your list of topics at hand, write out at least a paragraph or bullet points of the direction you want the blog post to go so that when you return to your list you don’t have to search your memory for what you originally had in mind.

It’s Not All About Me
-  If you are planning to commit some of your blogs to promoting your services or products, make sure you limit the number of these marketing pieces to only a couple of times per month.  You want to add as much value to your visitor as possible without it looking like you are always engaging in self-promotion.

Timing is everything – When you decide to advertise your services and products, maximize your conversion rates by scheduling these on the days that have proven to have the highest Click Through Rates when using Twitter to drive traffic to your blog.  For instance, a great resource for these statistics is Dan Zarella’s blog entitled Weekends and Afternoons Show the Highest Twitter CTRS.

If you want to develop a stronger following for your blog, increase conversion rates for sales and reduce your blog anxiety, commit to creating at least a 30-day Editorial Calendar.   It doesn’t have to be fancy.  Use a spreadsheet, your e-mail calendar program, Google calendar or a day planner.  It really doesn’t matter how you record it, just start playing with the concept and filling in the gaps.  You will be thankful that you did.

If you get stuck, ask your friends and colleagues for ideas….or call me!

Avoiding the Treadmill Effect: How to get the most from your outsourcing efforts.

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Tell me if this sounds familiar to you.  You have finally gotten to the tipping point in your business and you are employing the services of an outside contractor or support staff to take over parts of the job that you used to do.  This will allow you more time to create products, generate more speaking engagements and re-assess your overall business mission and focus.  It sounds great, it feels great and you can’t wait to get started.

A similar thing occurs when we (the royal “we”) decide to buy a treadmill.  We are convinced that with this new convenient gadget our lives will be much better.  It seems like a no-brainer.  Here is this great machine that helps solve a problem that has been weighing (no pun intended) on our minds and bodies for a long time and once it is in the house or the garage, everything will be different.  And then what usually happens?  The process necessary to get the most out of its features requires work and commitment on our part.  In only a short matter time that shiny new “answer” starts to lose its glow.  We engage with it less frequently and we convince ourselves it doesn’t really provide the value we once gave it credit for.

Now imagine that you did the same thing with your support staff.

Just like the treadmill purchase, we recognize that we could really benefit from this outsourcing support but when the talent is right there, ready, willing and excited to be the answer to our problems, we do not maximize their potential because we have to be in control of everything.  After all, it’s our company, our brand, and our clientele.  It is critical that we provide the best and who else can do that but us, right?  What we don’t realize or acknowledge is that with a little bit of training, clear communication and good leadership skills, we can get the same results from other people.

But if we don’t spend that time and make that effort, in the end, that talented support is like the treadmill that is now pushed off in the corner partially covered with clothes that either need ironing or a trip to the dry cleaners.  Not only aren’t we benefiting from their full potential, but they are feeling unsupported, undervalued and disengaged.  Sooner or later, their performance will diminish, they will quit, or you will let them go and none of these outcomes will be a true indication of what was really possible from the collaboration.

In essence, there is nothing wrong with the talents and skills of your support staff, just as there is nothing functionally wrong with the treadmill – but both are being underutilized and abandoned.

The solution? Start to relinquish a bit of the control you still have over the pieces you wanted to give up anyway – you don’t have to have your hands in everything to get great results.  Make a commitment to be available and regularly engage with the people who are helping you to create a better life for you and your company.  Start out slowly and gradually work up to giving away larger projects and bigger responsibility.  You can’t run a marathon until you can run a mile.

Creating Lasting Change: How the End of the One-Week Challenge Became the Beginning of a New Outlook

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I have often heard that what you focus on becomes your reality and that if you believe things to be a certain way you are undoubtedly provided with evidence that supports that belief.  Well, I am living proof that both of those statements are true and I am happy to say that so are many other visitors to this blog series.

This past week, our challenge was to focus on having tremendous confidence in ourselves and our abilities.  Even when we started to have doubts or negative self-chatter, we brought ourselves back to that single focus.  The results were astounding!

For myself, the Universe consistently provided me with supporting evidence that I am confident in my abilities – I am smart enough to figure things out, realistic enough to know what I don’t know and how to find the right resources, and talented enough to continuously provide great writing and guidance to my clients.  The end result was that last week was one of my most creative and productive weeks of 2009.

I never heard the chatter of “you can’t do that”, or “it won’t be very good”.  In the past, it never mattered that I had proven my inner chatter wrong thousands of times with quality work and great connections for my clients.  This time I reminded myself that success leaves wonderful clues if you listen and look for them. Every day, even every hour I was accomplishing things that I might have otherwise procrastinated out of fear or initially fumbled through due to a lack of focus.  I always delivered quality content and ahead of schedule, but sometimes the inner chatter made the process of getting to the outcome much longer and more tedious.  This last week I was accomplishing great results in less time and with more concentrated efforts.  For a productivity geek like me who never wants the tasks to compromise the creative process, that is huge!

For the visitors of this blog series I raise my glass to your success!  Congratulations for allowing your focus on self-confidence to empower you to be more creative and more productive. For some of you I was ecstatic to hear how you were able to establish very reasonable boundaries with colleagues, clients and loved ones that made for much more fulfilling relationships.  It is amazing how feeling great about yourself and your skills helps you to speak your mind in a constructive way.  (This will come in handy during the upcoming holidays!)  Some of you shared your newly found entrepreneurial spirit. Confidence definitely helps you take more risks and with that receive bigger rewards.  Onward and upward!

Cheers to all of you who committed to staying focused.  Your confidence was likely contagious, as I am sure others picked up on your great energy and were drawn to you.  Great Mojo – keep it working for you!

How to Create Fabulous Results: Checking in on the Confidence Challenge

Comment

WOW!!!  What a great few days it has been since the One Thing for One Week Challenge started.  Here are just some of the comments and successes that have been shared by those of us committing to focus on our confidence for 7 days.

“I can’t believe how much better I have slept.  I have spent all day feeling confident about my talents that I keep making progress on projects that I used to procrastinate and by the end of the day I feel so great that I sleep straight through the night.  I thank you and my wife thanks you.”

“I am feeling more comfortable asking for meetings with people I normally would not have the guts to approach.  I can’t believe I am going to have coffee with someone I consider a leader in her industry for a possible collaborative project. Yippee!”

“The last couple of days when I sat down to the computer to make my 1,000-word write goal like I do every morning I did not stress out about not knowing where to start or if it was going to be any good.  I just wrote and wrote and it is really good stuff, if I do say so myself.  What a difference, and what a week I am going to have, my agent won’t believe my progress!”

“I was able to make calls to former clients and ask for new business and referrals based solely on my own self-confidence about the type of work I had performed for them in the past.  Hey, if you don’t ask and don’t stay top-of-mind with people, they can’t say ‘yes’ as easily.  Four out of six had either a direct job for me or were able to give me potential referrals.”

“There were a couple of times when I fell back into my old routine of feeling overwhelmed and nervous.  When I reminded myself of this challenge, along with recognizing all of my past wins, I could shift my focus back to the value I continue to add to my clients.  I stayed much more productive than I have been in months.  Thank you.”

Celebrate:  Day 4

It is now Day 4 for some of us and as was suggested by a colleague, business strategist and all around expert in all things brain-brilliant, AmyK Hutchens at  www.amyk.com,  it is now time to celebrate our wins thus far.  AmyK wrote in…

“I would also suggest to your readers/followers that you break the week into two sets: “4 days” and “3 days.”  The brain is more successful with smaller chunks and turtle steps. After 4 days of focusing on your confidence and actively choosing to spend a few minutes developing your confidence, reward yourself! Celebrate your progress.”

So tonight is the end of the 4 days…what are you planning to do to celebrate?  For me, I see a nice meal and a glass of red wine and freshly baked cookies in my future (not necessarily in that order!)

Congratulations and keep up the great work!