Tag: Productivity

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.

Never Underestimate Your Value to Clients

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Have you ever assumed people already know how to do something that comes easily to you? For instance, just because someone is a published author, do you assume they love to write? Or that an accomplished speaker will automatically be a great interview on television without media training?

These assumptions have not always been correct. The same is true when I, like many people, believe that just because our clients are highly successful in the areas of their passion, that they know everything there is about the subject, or care to be an expert in all the details. Not true.

I couple of months ago I was given the opportunity to work with a highly-accomplished internet marketer. She did not choose my collaborative blogging program that includes my administration of publishing the blogs and the Twitter and Facebook posts because she wanted to stay engaged on those platforms for herself. That made complete sense.

After reviewing some of the blogs on her site and noticing the number of social networking posts she was using I saw an opportunity for optimizing her efforts. There were small changes she could be making to the blog site as well as her engagement to drive more traffic. I held off bringing this to her attention for a couple of reasons. First, she was a new client and I was not sure how she would receive my constructive feedback. Second, she was an accomplished internet marketer and who did I think I was telling her how to improve. Seriously!

I believe she has such great content and I know she could be increasing her visibility and helping more people with just a couple of tweaks. So I went for it. I not only explained what I thought she needed to do, but offered to do it for her on a temporary basis. This would be a win for her as it would save her time and effort, and teach her how to maximize the blogs. And it was a win for me. I was able to add more value and see the tangible results of my work.

I quickly received an enthusiastic email that could not have been more gracious. She felt clueless about these little details that came easily to me and was not afraid to admit it. I felt great that my message and offer was well received and I can’t wait to jump in and help her.

The lesson here is to remember that all of your knowledge is not common sense to everyone. What you know and how you use it has value. Take a few minutes and review what each of your clients is doing (or needs) and find small ways to solve a problem, increase visibility and create credibility. Your willingness to pay it forward can lead to great things.

Note: This blog post was reviewed and approved by my client prior to posting!

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!

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

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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!

Does your big idea bring you even bigger stress? Productivity Tool, Part 3

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When it comes to accomplishing big tasks or completing a goal, feeling inadequate and overwhelmed can be paralyzing.  The excitement of an idea combined with the adrenaline of wanting it done yesterday and the stress of not knowing how it will happen can lead you to feeling like you are going to jump out of your skin.  I am speaking from past and very present experience.

Practice what I preach: I love combining my writing talent with my skills for creating infrastructure and processes to empower my clients to realize their dreams on paper and on stage.  My clients’ feelings of overwhelm and anxiety are reduced because they are able to collaborate and sort through their concepts with an objective resource.  When it comes to doing that for my own dreams, I have to remind myself to go through my own processes to achieve my goals.

Recognize your wins: Keep a running list of the projects you have completed and the challenges you have overcome.   When a new one comes along, you can reduce fear and procrastination by remembering that you were never an expert in the mechanics of how it all happened, but you did find a way through the maze and it felt fantastic once it was finished.

Get it out of your head: Jumping from one step to the other in your head trying to make sense of it all tends to jumble everything together and results in many hours of lost sleep and unproductive work time.  Just start writing or typing out a list of every piece of the puzzle as it enters your head.  Don’t try to organize or sort it yet, just download your thoughts.

Chunk it: After reviewing your list you will start to see patterns of how the steps are linked together and their natural progression towards your goal.  By sorting your list into categories you will get a better sense of how the puzzle will come together.  Leave plenty of space in each category so that you can jot down additional pieces as they come to you or as you discover it along the way.

Tag line items: Next to each task that you do not know how to or want to do yourself, write down the name of the person or resource that might be able to help.  Some items may have a question mark next to them and as you move through the process of discovery, you can ask others for suggestions.  By tagging your line items you will be more organized and thorough when you sit down to do your own research or brainstorm with a colleague.

Reach out: You will not know how to accomplish everything on your list but you have ways of making it happen.  You can reach out to the internet (search engines, Twitter and Facebook communities) and ask for help and resource options.  Just knowing that people have the expertise that you do not and are willing to send you in the right direction for more information, helps decrease the anxiety that you need to know and do everything yourself.  It is okay to admit you don’t know everything.  The important thing is to reach out.  You may find a partner or affiliate relationship that will benefit you now or in the future.  In addition, what you learn in your own research will inevitably add more value to your client.

Knock it off: Now commit to knocking off at least 5 items on your project plan every day.  Try to tackle some of the big ugly monsters first in the process, and first in the morning.  Once they are out of the way, the rest is easy!

I am excited to get started with my new goal and look forward to sharing my progress and small wins with you in the hopes it can be a catalyst for your own big dreams.