More on Time Management

Reading a John C. Maxwell article in the September 2017 edition of Success about time management, entitled “4 Tips to Set Yourself Up for a Better Tomorrow Today” got me thinking.  On a hunch, I went back and reviewed several other articles, publications and the ActionCOACH TimeRICH seminar on the subject of time management and was able to confirm my conclusion that

Time Management is really Self Management!

This is not exactly a new idea, I’ve said this during numerous presentations.  So why highlight it now in this blog?  It seems to me that many of us brush off the importance of time-self management.  Taking an “I am what I am” attitude rather than seeking to improve our use of our time.  Thus, I am going to reiterate a few of our top self-time management tips:
  • Set personally motivating goals – if your goals are truly important to you, you must strive to connect every activity to them. In the article, Maxwell encourages creating a Priority Inventory, another way of looking at the connection of your goals to your activities.
  • Don’t finish today until you plan tomorrow – Maxwell explains two concepts in his article; be deliberate in your use of time, and hone your decision-making skills. Once you increase your awareness of your goals and their relationship to your activities, you will become more deliberate in your investment of time.  The decision as to what to address and what not to address will become easier, enhancing your self management.  Remember, every time you say “YES” to something, you are saying “NO” to many other activities.
  • Create a Default Diary – a schedule of how you intend to invest your time on “normal” days. Your Default Diary (Ideal Week or Default Calendar, we use these terms interchangeably at ActionCOACH) accomplishes many things; it sets your time expectations, and communicates them.  You will feel uneasy when your activities conflict with your internal clock once it has been set via your Default Diary.  Many of my clients use their Default Calendar as a communication tool with their teams, using the tool to create “deep thinking” time slots.
  • Delegate – Effective delegation is the key to successful time and self management. None of us are expert or skilled in all aspects necessary for the success of our businesses or lives.  We are faced with the choice to do it all, abdicate or delegate numerous times every day.  Should I change the oil in my car myself?  Should I abdicate the oil change by simply dropping off the car at my local service station? Or, should I effectively delegate the oil change by carefully selecting the service station or dealer, asking them about the oil and filter they are going to use, and all the other details related to the oil change?  I used this example to exemplify the fact that we can all delegate to our extended team even if we have no direct employees.  When delegating, John Maxwell makes the point the we should not mistake activity for advancement.  This applies to those we delegate to, as well as ourselves.
John C. Maxwell included the following quote in the article:

“Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Improve them, and they will become the brightest gems.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Remember, you cannot replenish your time, once a moment is gone, it is gone.  As Steadman Graham said at one of our ActionCOACH conferences,

“Time is the great equalizer.  We all have 24 hours in a day.”

His message continued to say that the very wealthy use their time more effectively.  How are you investing your precious time?  My colleagues and I at ActionCOACH are uniquely qualified to assist you toward effective delegation and successful self and time management.

2017 Business Excellence Forum – Blinding Flashes of The Obvious Part 1

I said it last year, and I must say it again, the Business Excellence Forum (BEF) gets better each year.  There were more than 500 business owners, executives, team members and business coaches in attendance in Houston, Texas.  With that many attendees, there was an abundance of formal and informal exchanges of ideas, strategies, success stories and best practices. This year’s forum had an extensive list of keynote speakers whose presentations yielded many Blinding Flashes of the Obvious (BFOs) and new ways of looking at things.  The following are some of the BFOs that struck a chord with me, most of which will enhance the value I bring to my clients.  I am sure that some of these will have a similar effect on you. During the opening session, Brad Sugars, founder and Chairman of ActionCOACH shared the following:
  • We often present the concept of Learn More to Earn More. Brad added Serve More to Earn More.  Serve More to Earn more became one of the major themes of this year’s Forum.
  • To serve more, you must set an expanded vision (more about that later) and then you must grow into it.
  • Brad highlighted the difference between a Leader and a Coordinator. Leadership is all about the Vision.
  • During a discussion of referral strategies, Brad challenged everyone to develop a pre-gifting strategy. For example, give a book relevant to your product or service to ten of your top customers and encourage them to pass the books along to people who would benefit from your offering.
Our first keynote speaker was Keith Cunningham, author of “The Ultimate Blueprint for an Insanely Successful Business” and creator of the CFO Scoreboard.  (keystothevault.com) Mr. Cunningham, while explaining financial reports in very plain, simple language, slips in many gems about business.  Following are some of the most important:
  • For most in business, the universal answer to business problems or issues is growth – most of the time, that is a fallacy. It is often more effective to consolidate your business and address the problems directly before resuming your growth.  After all, your problems may grow bigger as your business grows.
  • “To play the game of business you’ve got to speak the language.” The language is knowing how to read and understand your financial statements and KPIs.
  • You need two things; Language and Scoreboard:
    • Language (Report Card) = Financials
    • Scoreboard (Dashboard) = Optics which leads to strategy
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  • To make more money, get better at business
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  • M+D+A=N – Management -> Decisions -> Activities -> Numbers.  The numbers on your Report Card (Financials) influence your Activities and your activities determine your Report Card.
  • What activities need to change to change your numbers? When you stand on the bathroom scale and are unhappy with the number you see, what are you going to change to eventually see a happier number?
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  • We have too many goals, we need more standards (non-negotiable goals).
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  • Running your business with un-read or improperly formatted financial reports is like playing pin the tail on the donkey.
  • You give what you tolerate – every management failure is caused by a lack of courage.
  • PROFIT is a Theory – Cash is a FACT
  • “It is not about getting big, it’s about getting rich (generating cash).” Too many businesses lately are focused on getting very big.  Many of them are burning cash along the way.
  • The only reason to spend money is to get or keep customers.
All the BFOs above were from before the morning break!  There is much more to come from Keith and other speakers in the next blog post.

Applying Pareto’s Law to Your Life (and Business)

Many of us have heard that 80% of your results are achieved by 20% of your efforts. Since Pareto introduced that concept back in 1896 by identifying that 80% of Italy’s land was owned by 20% of the population, it has since been applied to science, engineering, healthcare, and sports. My assistant claims that 80% of what you wear comes from 20% of your wardrobe so the applications are limitless. As a business coach, my clients frequently complain that there’s just not enough time to get everything done.  Upon discussion, we have a lightbulb moment in which the client realizes that s/he is spending 80% of their time on trivial matters and only 20% of their time cultivating their core business, the very antithesis of what they should be doing.  During our coaching sessions, I suggest these ways to increase their productivity – and profits – by incorporating the 80/20 rule:
  1. Focus on the 20% of your customers who are generating 80% of your profits. Cultivate those relationships and watch your bank account grow!  Delegate the rest to your sales team and help them to nurture the future 20%.
  2. Identify the 20% of your friends and business associates who can provide 80% of your support, be it marketing or emotional. Conversely, eliminate the 20% – or more – of those who drain you of your energy or stand in the way of your success.
  3. Find the 20% of the tasks that you truly enjoy which bring the greatest reward and put 80% of your energy into them. The rest can be delegated or outsourced.
  4. 80% of a business’s problems come from 20% of the business. Is the 20% related to production?  Delivery?  A particular employee?  Periodically review your processes, policies and procedures.  Communicate expectations to your staff regularly.  This is about fire prevention.
The common thread here is to simplify as much as you are able.  Granted, the way we work has changed dramatically over the last two decades and we’re now “on” 24/7.  However, by discovering how we are using our time, we can make informed decisions about how we choose to spend it. My colleagues and I are ready to assist you in applying Pareto’s Law to your business and your life.  Contact any of us for a no obligation complementary coaching diagnostic session and learn how we can add value to you and your business.

Isn’t That Interesting?

When I mentioned to my assistant today that I needed to write a blog post, she replied, “Well, what is people’s pain these days? Write about that!” With a smirk, I told her that I didn’t want to get political and she and I went on to have a pretty lively discussion about the candidates. Although we didn’t come out and say it, I got the feeling that we were of the same mindset which came as a relief. Nothing like working in a small, two-person office and being at complete odds with one another. But what about the rampant disagreements that are clogging up your Facebook page? “Your candidate is an idiot!” “Your candidate sucks!” And worse. Friendships are broken, even families can splinter when the members are on opposite sides of the fence. Every year, it seems that the back biting and insults get worse when, in truth, it’s been this way for 200 years. When I was in architecture school, my fellow students and I would often question one particular professor about one building or another to elicit his opinion about said building. “What do you think of Lake Point Tower?” Tilting his head and stroking his well-trimmed beard, he’d thoughtfully and quietly reply, “It’s interesting.” Interesting? That’s it? We were stymied by his response but now, 50 years later, I’ve come to appreciate these two seemingly innocuous – and admittedly somewhat frustrating – words and I teach them to my coaching clients today. The potential uses are endless and should be a part of every-day communication skills. It can be used in business settings, family settings, one-on-one relationships and the list goes on. Use it when someone tells you something that you don’t believe in or agree with. Let’s face it: our goals in provoking an argument is to get the other person to be on your side. More often than not, it has the opposite effect. So let’s take a look at how we can incorporate “That’s interesting!” into today’s volatile political arena: Ranting person: “Idiotface candidate is a lame-brained jerkhead who would take this country into world war III!” or “Moron is a bald-faced liar!” You (rakishly tilting your head and thoughtfully stroking your chin): “Hmmmmm…. that’s interesting!” Ranting person: “YEAH! Uh………” See? You’ve managed to acknowledge ranting person’s tirade while not giving him fuel for the fire. Chances are, he’ll either keep ranting, to which you keep replying, “That’s interesting!” or he’ll walk away. In essence, he’s inviting you to an argument but you’re not accepting the invitation. When applied to business, it can enhance brainstorming sessions, make meetings more effective and inclusive, and from the receiver’s side, defuse potentially negative performance reviews. Just be sure not to overuse it or it can be construed as passive aggression. But the thoughtfulness and learning behind it just may teach you something. And isn’t that interesting?

2016 Business Excellence Forum – Blinding Flashes of the Obvious Part 4

The first speaker of the afternoon on the second day was Chris Cooke of Luv4 Marketing one of the ActionCOACH strategic partners.  Luv4 has enrolled me and many of my colleagues in a social media master class.  In addition, we are able to offer a comprehensive marketing class to our clients via our strategic partnership.  My BFOs from Chris were:
  • Leads generated on the internet will not necessarily be successful if they are directed to a crappy website or landing page.
  • Internet leads will research you online, just like you research companies you are considering doing business with.
  • Your sales process must be revised to reflect the unique methods necessary to maximize your conversion rate of online leads.
Our chairman Brad Sugars wrapped up the afternoon and the BEF with mostly housekeeping announcements and one major BFO:
  • In order to improve your conversion rate, keep an Objection Log. Work answers to your most prominent objections into your sales process and materials BEFORE they arise.
The next two days were devoted to the annual North American Coach conference.  We were introduced to several new strategic alliances.  In addition, there were many speakers addressing best coaching practices and client strategies that worked for our clients.  The following are some of the highlights: In a session about KPIs, one of my colleagues showed a clip from the movie Money Ball Ball (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGf6LNWY9AI) to highlight using KPIs to overcome biases.  He then introduced the concept of subdividing KPIs into Leading, Lagging, People and Productivity KPIs, which was a BFO for me, having only thought of KPIs in general. KPI Examples Slide Balance KPIs Slide By the way, if you are not familiar with Net Promoter Score, I will cover NPS in a upcoming blog, stay tuned. In addition, he also had the audience do the following exercise: KPI Table Exercise Slide You should too. Another colleague of mine ran a great exercise based on the ActionCOACH formula for change:

(D x V) + F > R

Step 1 – write out a challenge you would like to eliminate Step 2 – write out your Vision of when the challenge has been eliminated Step 3 – rate your Vision 1-10 (btw if your vision is not a 10, rework your vision) Step 4 – rate your Dissatisfaction with the current situation 1-10 Step 5 – write the consequence of not eliminating the challenge Step 6 – R – list your top 3 resistances to the changes needed to eliminate the challenge Step 7 – write out the First Step Step 8 – Be x Do = Have – write an I Am related to the Being needed to overcome the challenge. (The I Am statement will influence your unconscious behavior related to your DISC) Step 9 – Four steps to learning – Step 7 moved you from u-i to c-i / what needs to be learned to move to c-c? 4 Steps to Learning Slide Step 10 – question how DISC is effecting behavior (both yours and your team’s) toward solving the challenge

Finally, another colleague presented a process for creating “I’ll be happy when …” and personal purpose statements.

To create your “I’ll be happy when …” statement

Write your top 2 personal goals Write your top 2 professional goals List how you will feel when those goals are achieved

Use your top goals and the above list to Create your “I’ll be happy when …” statement

To create your personal purpose statement

List your 2 most positive and unique skills and abilities For example: Experience and Insight

List how you demonstrate these skills Coaching & Mentoring

What does a perfect world look like to you?  Harmony between having positive impact on many clients and enjoying my 70s with my wife and family

Put all 3 together into 1 statement I use my experience and insight to assist my clients to build very successful businesses that create many great employment positions in their communities.

 I trust you will find some ideas in this BFO series of blogs that will accelerate your success.  My colleagues and I are available to assist you in implementing the concepts presented in these four posts.

What Can We Learn About Business from Wimbledon?

It took 200 IBM statisticians to produce the statistics for Wimbledon and the BBC that we all consumed during this couple of weeks of tennis. So why are we consumed by this incredible amount of information that’s available?  What is its purpose and how do we learn from what professional sports have been doing for years and apply it to business? Whether it’s your favorite baseball team winning their division or an individual athlete competing at the highest level, the statistics that follow them around are incredibly detailed.  The statistics tell us fans, the teams, coaches, managers, and the athletes themselves how fast, far, accurate, efficient, successful (or not) they or their strategies are.  We find out their strengths, weaknesses, what to exploit, what to focus on and ultimately how they perform against their competitors.  Statistics influence decisions such:
  • do we bring in a left-handed relief pitcher to face Slugger, the home run machine or stick with the starter with his current pitch count of 84?
  • shall I work with my coach on hitting more fairways or improving my approach shots?
Imagine for a second sport without a winner, no score, no position, no medal, no title.  How many of us would watch or participate?  Yet in business we often have no idea how we or our team is performing, or how we compare in the market or a sector. In business, stats can tell us if we are profitable, if we are converting, what our customer service is like, how our sales team is performing, what products are selling and not, how efficient we are, what makes us profit and looses us profit.  There is so much we can learn from sports fanatical approach to statistics.  The information is available, it’s just hidden away in your business and needs someone to ask the right questions and use the right technology to allow you and your team to perform at your optimum, working smarter, not harder. Now imagine you could sit in your office with all the information available for your business with a dashboard of your Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) just like IBM did for Wimbledon, knowing what works and what doesn’t, rather than using only gut feel.  Would your odds of success and your speed to success improve?  You bet they would. At ActionCOACH we focus our clients on the KPI’s that drive their businesses.  They use dashboard technology and tracking tools that helps them make much better strategic, structural and operational decisions.  So if you want to feel like the BBC or IBM but only have SME resources, and you want to out race your competitors, get in touch and see what your stats say about your business.

2015 Business Excellence Forum – Blinding Flashes of the Obvious – Part 1

Last month I attended the 2015 North American Business Excellence Forum (#BEF2015) and Awards.  I am proud that my client, the Winthrop University Hospital Department of Pediatrics won the 2015 Best Not-For-Profit Business Excellence Award for the combination of their STAR Program for children with special needs, their DOWN program for children with Down Syndrome and their Hempstead Pediatrics practice.  In addition, The Cancer Center for Kids, Winthrop Women’s Wellness, and Women’s Contemporary Care Associates – Maternal Fetal Medicine were all finalists in more than one award category. This year’s forum had some amazing keynote speakers whose presentations yielded many Blinding Flashes of the Obvious (BFOs).  The following are some of the BFOs that struck a chord with me.  I am sure that some of these will have a similar affect on you.  If I am correct in that assumption, please join the conversation and add your comments to this post. Our first speaker was Jonathan MacDonald (www.jonathanmacdonald.com @jmacdonald), a well known international speaker on perpetual change & how to think differently about the future of business, society & technology.  Here goes:
  • Beat competitors by solving problems faster and/or better than them – simple and straight to the point
  • Establish a balance between rapid growth and tuning – sometimes growth needs to be briefly slowed down in order to fine tune operations in order to continue to consistently deliver.
  • The concept of Phase Shifting – why some companies always seem to introduce new, very cool, innovative products. To state this as simply as possible, a company’s first product may be a phase or step along their journey toward their true goal.  They continually solve the increasing difficulties while adding more value with each step.  Think how the USA was able to land a man on the moon. Or, is the Apple watch the end game or a phase?
Phase Shifting Slide
  • The ideal members of your team are those who have the will to succeed – you can train everything except will.
Our next speaker was Brad Sugars – Founder and Chairman of ActionCOACH.  Brad spoke about the 9 Potholes On The Road To Success:
  • Pothole #1 – Superhero Complex
    • Kills more businesses than any other pothole
    • Learn the art and science of DELEGATION
  • Pothole #2 – Scarcity Thinking
    • Move away from Limitations / Lack mindset
    • Move toward how Big is the market or how Big SHOULD my business be to accomplish my mission?
  • Pothole #3 – Doubters
    • They are all around you, learn to filter
  • Pothole #4 – Bad Decisions
    • Learn and move on
    • Always Test & Measure to limit possible damage
  • Pothole #5 – Out of Your Depth
    • Learn to Earn
    • Build a great team and delegate
  • Pothole #6 – FEAR
    • False Expectations Appearing Real – Collect the facts to eliminate the False
    • Failure Expected And Realized – Move beyond your self-fulfilling prophecies
    • Face Everything And Rise
  • Pothole #7 – Short Term Thinking
    • Plan / Execute / Measure / Review / Plan / Etc.
    • Phase Shift
  • Pothole #8 – Overwhelm
    • Break the Overwhelm cycle by taking action – one step at a time
  • Pothole #9 – Self Sabotage
    • Have a good look at yourself in the mirror
To be continued.

Effective Delegation Part 3 – What You MUST Delegate If You Want Your Business To Grow

As part of my on-going series about the art and science of effective delegation, and in response to questions I have been asked, I have developed the following Top 10 List:   The Top 10 Items You MUST Delegate

10. Activities that will speed up your cash flow – This includes collection calls, invoicing on a timely basis, responding to inbound customer inquiries, processing and shipping orders and making it easy for customers to buy from your business, to mention just a few.

9. Tasks that are already streamlined and documented – This is one of the keys to achieving both leverage and consistency in your business. Without leverage and consistency your business will become increasingly chaotic as it grows, if it grows at all.

8. Tasks that involve government or other outside, often-changing regulations – You simply do not have the resources to keep up with regulations. Make sure to delegate to trained professionals whose job it is to be up to date.  For example, a while ago I was introduced to a customs lawyer.  She told me that her new law practice was booming because U.S. Customs is now part of the Department of Homeland Security.  She mentioned she found many companies that have been importing materials for years, always completing the paperwork the same way that are un-wittingly, no longer in compliance.  Worse yet, the potential penalties are many times larger than before DHS was formed.

7. Anything that you want your team to master – You will never achieve leverage in your business if your team does not master operational tasks. Mastery supports consistency.  Consistency is a prerequisite to growth.

6. Tasks where you are the bottleneck – If everything goes through you, your company can only work at your speed and capacity.

5. Areas that are beyond your skill-set or competence – Simply put, if you are not good at it, you shouldn’t be doing it.

4. Anything that you shouldn’t be doing – If you are tempted to do that low-value task that is not time sensitive, stuffing envelopes, shredding out of date documents, etc., you are keeping yourself from adding the most value you can to your business. Remember, all of us ultimately are compensated for the value we add, not for the time we devote.

3. Tasks that keep you from growing your business – The main responsibility of ownership, whether you actually own a company or simply take ownership of your responsibilities, is to develop and grow your business.

2. Anything you hate to do – If you hate it, you most certainly will not do it well.

1. Anything that requires specialized knowledge – You cannot possibly be an expert about every subject necessary to build a successful business. You can never go wrong delegating to expertise on an as-needed, demand basis.

Bonus – Any subject where you can benefit from someone else’s experience – We are not omnipotent; learn from the mistakes of those who went before you.

One very important word of caution: You must not abdicate any of the above; you must learn and practice effective delegation. Please share your experiences and results from delegation or abdication with my growing community.

It Is Not Too Early To Begin 2015

As the end of 2014 approaches a little introspection is in order. As a business owner, some of your fundamental roles include:
  • coaching
  • planning
  • setting goals
  • interviewing and hiring
  • training
  • creating
  • managing
How are you doing so far this year regarding your time in these areas?  Ask yourself a few questions:
  • have you spent adequate, quality time planning the future of your business?
  • have you spent adequate time coaching and developing your team (or having it done)?
  • are you on target for all of your management and self-improvement goals?
  • have you been able to manage your attitudes consistently regardless of what was happening around you?
  • did you see change as your partner and embrace it…or has it become your adversary?
  • are you leaving any unfinished business behind as you move into the second half of the year?
  • have you been communicating your goals, strategies, plans, and objectives clearly to your team?
  • have you handled all of your team member’s challenges successfully, and in a compassionate and timely manner?
  • have you set clear goals for the rest of the year?
  • are you in touch with the realities within your organization and your marketplace?
  • if you could, would you reverse or change any of the significant decisions you made during the first half of the year?
  • if you could begin this year over again, what is one thing you would do differently?
A critical skill necessary for success as an owner is the ability to honestly evaluate your:
  • personal development progress
  • attitudes
  • skills
Work on expanding this list.  Set a target of 50 more questions that will help you get a better handle on your organization and yourself. You might think it is a little early to begin this process, since it’s only the beginning of November…but we all know it’ll be the end of the year before we know it.  How you spend the next several weeks could make or break your goals, your hopes, and the success and direction of your company for the balance of this year and planning for next year. And that’s worth thinking about…

What Can We Learn About Business From The Boston Pops – Part 2

About two weeks ago I went to a wonderful Boston Pops concert at Tanglewood.  While enjoying the concert, my mind wondered to business and I had two Blinding Flashes of the Obvious (BFOs). My first BFO was the subject of Part 1 of this post, that a well run business is like a symphonic orchestra.  The second BFO I had at the concert reinforced one of the core themes of my coaching; the goal of successful, effective delegation as opposed to abdication or, even worst, keeping every responsibility and task for yourself.  Something I call responsibility hoarding. I know this is an extreme example, but imagine for a moment that there were no section leaders, concert masters or first chairs in an orchestra.  That there was no one the conductor could delegate local leadership to, no one to be responsible for assisting the conductor with interpreting and communicating his or her vision of the performance of each piece of music to be presented. Without section leaders present during rehearsals, both the conductor and the orchestra cannot maximize the value of their time.  When the conductor works with the violins, the other sections are listening but idle.  Major orchestras with section leaders, often have separate concurrent sectional rehearsals, a much more effective use of everyone’s time.  During concerts, when the conductor turns his or her attention stage right, toward the violins, the other sections do not get lost, they can follow their section leaders.  Bottom line, the conductor, and by extension, the entire orchestra, gets the benefit of tremendous time and operational leverage. So in your business, you should always be aware of the following key questions:

-Have you identified your team (both internal and external)? -Are you delegating?  Successfully and effectively? -Are you even trying to delegate those things you are not good at, hate doing or shouldn’t be doing?

If you answered NO to any of these questions, you must answer YES to the next question:

-Are you your businesses biggest roadblock, in the way of growth and long term success?

No delegation equals no consistent growth, no long-term success and you becoming, if you haven’t already, a slave to your business with no exit plan.  I don’t mean to imply that successful, effective delegation is easy.  Delegation is both an art and a science which must be studied before it can put into your daily routine.  It starts with your desire to get leverage in your business, a desire to delegate. If you are not currently delegating, are not getting the results you expect in your business, have no plans to delegate or don’t know how to begin delegating, get thee to a business coach.  Any of my colleagues at ActionCOACH and I are expert in successful, effective delegation.