Are You Conversationally “Tone” Deaf?

tonedeafRecently I found myself at lunch with two members of a group I belong to. The meeting was pre-arranged by mutual agreement to suit complicated work schedules. The purpose of these appointments is to learn more about each other, how we can be better resources and perhaps make referrals in the future. Business per se is not the topic, yet after enjoying many of these engagements, discussions of business, work challenges and other areas are frequently spoken about. In other words, there are no hard and fast rules; rather it’s left up to the participants.

When your role is as the moderator, it’s clear that you are responsible for posing questions, introducing topics and managing the flow. However, when the meeting’s intention is to engage everyone, it’s another matter. Despite my best efforts to be included I had to step back and assess what was happening.
• Did my dining companions feel more comfortable with each other?
• Have nothing in common?
• Social anxiety?
• Poor manners?
• Totally unaware?

I am not a quitter and try as I might; these very nice professionals were exhausting me to the point where I had to make a break for the restroom and some relief. We have all been in situations where attention might focus too much on one person or topic, so how can you not become TONE DEAF too?
• Remember why you are there
• Is it social or business?
• Be prepared with several possible topics of a general nature
• Notice the flow of conversation
• How can you contribute, share and ask questions?

Unless you are the instructor, it’s not your place to point out to your “companions” how challenging your time together has been. Better to make a graceful and early exit because time spent is one thing we can never get back.

©MWeisner2017

Save Time…Simplify Your Day

ignore-listenNot all tips may apply to you and no doubt you already employ ways to simplify your days, however, if you can pull out even one idea that eases your workday, enjoy!

1. Limit Meetings
Meetings can be essential, but they can also turn into time wasters if they go on too long or happen too frequently. Accept and schedule only important meetings.

2. Use Email Filters and Archives
Use email filters and archives so that you don’t spend hours looking for a particular message. Easy tools can keep your communications organized.

3. Hire a Virtual Assistant
A virtual assistant can help you with mundane daily tasks like email and bookkeeping.

4. Keep Projects in One Place
For both completed projects and those still in progress, have one folder or area where you know you can find them.

5. Avoid Travel Rush Hour
If you commute or have to travel for meetings, take traffic and construction into account. WAZE is an excellent GPS navigational tool and a quick app to download.

6. Have Virtual Meetings
Whenever possible opt out of on-site meetings and instead consider the use of programs like Skype or GoToMeeting.

7. Take and Organize Notes
Keep a notebook with you at all times to jot down notes and ideas or use an app like Evernote to store ideas, images and more so you don’t waste time trying to think of them later.

8. Take Advantage of Technology
There are many time saving and organizational apps and services available such as Dropbox, which lets you bring your photos, docs and videos anywhere. Experiment and find the ones that work for you.

9. Don’t Get Carried Away
Attempting to master and utilize too many productivity applications and services at once can be a time waster. Don’t use so many of them that you spend more time on them than you save.

10. Delegate
Ask your team to take on tasks that you don’t have time for or those with which you know they’d do a good job. Outsource and ask for support before you are overwhelmed.

©2017MWeisner

10 More Time Saving Tips

moretimesavingtipsSelf-care is an important focus as you address daily tasks. Accomplishment, while important, is best addressed with a balanced approach.

1. Schedule Breaks
Everyone needs to take breaks throughout the day, so make sure to account for them when scheduling your tasks for the day.

2. Schedule Time for Email and Social Media
Email and social media can be enormous time wasters. Don’t respond to every email as it comes in and don’t leave Facebook or Twitter open all day. Instead, schedule a short block or two throughout the day to accomplish these tasks.

3. Avoid Distractions
Aside from social media and email, there are a number of other distractions that can cause you to waste time throughout the day. If you work at home, turn off the TV. If you work in an office, take a different route to the water cooler to avoid chatty co-workers.

4. Stick to One Task at a Time
Multi-tasking sounds like a time saver, but it isn’t. Serial tasking is most effective. Focus on one task, complete it and then move on to then next item on your list.

5. Batch Tasks
It can be helpful to do similar tasks consecutively. For example, make all your phone calls for the day back-to-back.

6. Incentivize Tasks
When you have a really difficult task to complete, give yourself a reward for completing it. Something as simple as taking a break makes a difference.

7. Focus on Results
You should have an idea about why you are doing each task on your list. Ask yourself how each item will impact your company and focus on results.

8. Don’t Stress Over Unimportant Details
If something doesn’t have a big impact on your business, don’t stress about it. Perfectionism can be a big time waster.

9. Create Good Habits
Create a habit of sorting files regularly, responding to emails in a timely manner and quickly accomplishing any other tasks that show up on your to-do list so that it quickly becomes routine.

10. Eliminate the Non-Essentials
Remove items that no longer serve a purpose to your mission, both physically and electronically
.
©MWeisner2017

Dream Killers

dream-killers“If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.”

The three biggest dream killers; overwhelm, isolation and frustration, are most often experienced when we operate without a plan. You may have the best idea and the clearest vision, yet without support along the way, it’s an enormous challenge to achieve that dream.

• Stop thinking stupid thoughts
• Stop doing stupid things
• Stop working on meaningless projects

Make a map of everything that is important for you to work on right now. A strong visual is a reminder of where you are headed. It reinforces your dream and makes the goal more tangible when you can see both the path and the objective.

Notice what you do every day. Do your activities support your dream?

Whenever you focus on your dream, there is always one thing, that if you do it, it can change your life or business forever. Where’s your timeline for accomplishing that one thing?

Remember, your environment is a perfect reflection of YOU. This doesn’t mean pricey space or a team of consultants. For some, a cluttered or a messy desk is inspiring and underscores activity and ideas in action. For others, a more serene, less stimulating space is ideal for creativity. You choose!

And, let’s not forget about the people you surround yourself with? Are they positive, realistic, and smart? Do they share your vision and values? Can they be critical and objective too? Are these people a reflection of your past or your present?

Do an overall scan. What are you reading? What TV programs do you watch? Strive for harmony not dissonance which will give you a more congruent or matched life, internally and externally.

Failing to make necessary adjustments, you will feel frustrated, like you are always climbing uphill, forever inches short of realizing your dream. So, do the personal and professional inventory, make the changes and keep your eye on the prize.

©2017MWeisner

10 Daily Time Saving Tips

timesavingtipsWith a variety of tasks and deadlines to meet, how can you accomplish these goals more efficiently? No matter your business or profession, who couldn’t benefit from quick tips to save time. Below are 10 tips to accelerate your process and streamline a plan of approach.

1. Set Goals
Each morning, write out a detailed to-do list of the things you want to accomplish that day.

2. Create a Plan
Figure out when and how you’ll accomplish each item on your daily list. Will you need help, supplies, etc.?

3. Prioritize by Importance
It’s inevitable that sometimes you’ll have to delete items from your to-do list, so decide early what the most important items are and prioritize.

4. Prioritize by Urgency
You’ll need to get to those projects that have urgent deadlines so leave the ones that are due next week for later.

5. Break Down Large Tasks
If your list includes some overwhelming items, break them down into smaller, more manageable tasks.

6. Be Realistic
Don’t expect to accomplish everything in an hour. Know your limitations and your abilities.

7. Track Your Time
In order to better understand how you really spend your time, take a few days and record everything you do and how long it takes. Include breaks, e-mail, social media and everything else, so that you’ll find out what your biggest time wasters are.

8. Set Deadlines
Need some motivation to complete a project? Set a deadline for yourself and tell others about it so they can help hold you accountable.

9. Keep One Eye on the Clock
You don’t want to constantly obsess about time, but you also don’t want to let the day get away from you because you weren’t paying attention. Stay on track.

10. Set Reminders
If you have a deadline or meeting coming up, set a reminder on your phone that will go off shortly beforehand.

©MWeisner2017

How Well Do You Know Your Market?

sign-upHow well do you know your market, demographic or audience? It’s all the same after all, simply a question of semantics. Who is buying or benefiting in some way from what you are selling? When I first began presenting workshops to groups, it was with a 90-minute program in an Adult Education/Community setting. The cost was low, but most important was to gain experience and refine the offering for future groups elsewhere. Feedback was excellent and the courses filled, some even with a waiting list. Almost every participant wanted more sessions and strongly suggested that I create a 2-part program. When I pitched it to the director, she was hesitant and expressed some doubts based on her experience with adults but ultimately agreed to try it. Much to my surprise, not only did registration dip dramatically, but those people who did sign-up were not as enthusiastic or participatory as my “One-and-Done” groups had been. I was disappointed and tried to get more feedback. Was it me? The quality of the offering? Cost? Or was it just the profile of the adult-ed student which is unique? While there was no definitive answer, I know that I did not do enough research to understand the history of multi-part workshops or the commitment of the adult learner in a casual setting. Expectations for learning a foreign language or a musical instrument are quite different than for personal development, goal setting and the accompanying homework. I had been flattered by the positive feedback and went full ahead without understanding that getting bodies in the seats requires more than setting the date and creating the content.

A recent newsletter I received underscores the same experience according to Amy Swift Crosby, founder of SMARTY. She understands her audience. When people called for a presentation on “How to Build Your Back Room” which is about accounting, staffing, etc. she knew that it was not sexy enough to get customers out of the house to attend a program like this. However, a webinar was the perfect idea and enrollment exceeded her goal.

She continues at length to describe the local joint/diner that has a great greasy spoon following and is now offering gluten free muffins. If the thinking behind this is that it will draw in a whole other group of customers, it’s probably off target. It’s more likely that those diners are also looking at a different overall dining experience, replete with high concept coffee, cultivated sea salt and more.

So, as entrepreneurs we may have many, many exciting new ideas and vetting them isn’t always the most fun part of the process. Imagining yourself in the customer’s place and thinking like the client is the shift that needs to happen before you place an order for 1000 x or sign a 5-year lease on that very cool storefront.

©MWeisner 2017

Getting Things Done = Freedom!

imagesCAUIW14S“Taking on new projects is not necessarily a positive change. It may be a sign of recklessness and non-fulfillment. But going back to all the levels of non-completion and completing them is a sign of positive change.” – John Roger

How many lists do you have? Are they short and long term, numbered and highlighted in order of importance? Are they color coded? Has their creation and maintenance taken on a life of its own? Are you living with annoying post-its everywhere that only increase your level of anxiety and multiply mysteriously? Does it feel like you are pushing back the ocean, while conflicted about this selfish waste of paper or electronic data? Are these overwhelming and unproductive activities? Non-completion takes up a great deal of psychic space, often accompanied by finger wagging and other judgmental posturing and is very taxing.

According to David Allen,” Stress comes from unkept agreements with yourself. You can relieve that stress only by canceling the agreement, keeping the agreement or negotiating it.”

Begin by clearing out and collecting your thoughts, assessing each one for importance and then review your options. Here is a 3-step approach that can get you out of being stuck and on the road to taking charge.

1. Find your preferred method of recording information. Take 5-minutes and dump everything that pops into your head. Do not censor or evaluate, just write!
2. Assess each particle. What’s the next action? What will you commit to?
3. Which things will you do in order of  time, place and importance?

A constant part of worry is the nagging feeling that there is always something else to be managed. While that may be true, for now you have cleared out the cobwebs and dumped the brain drains to a place where they can be seen and not just heard.

• Make your list
• Dig deep…no self-censoring
• Notice how it feels different than usual

©MWeisner2017

6 Ways to Make Your Own Luck

imagesCAADD1X9There’s a Latin proverb that says, “What you think of yourself is much more important than what others think of you.” So true, because it is your thoughts and your words that will have the biggest impact on your future success.

Luck is the residue of design. Accurate or not? We often make assumptions that someone else’s success is based on luck rather than the hard work of preparation. Of course the lottery winner has done little more than purchase a ticket. However, some might posit that their series of numbers or specific rituals are part of their potentially winning process. Do you believe your raffle ticket will be selected or are you the person claiming to never be a winner?

According to Richard Wiseman, Ph.D., and author of The Luck Factor, believe it or not, luck is not a matter of chance. In fact, experts suggest that there are specific things you can do to enhance your luck quotient.

1. Speak Up– Before beginning your day, stand in front of the mirror and say aloud, “This is my lucky day!” Thinking about something makes you consider it, but hearing it actually makes you believe it.

2. Smile- A 10-year study on the nature of luck shows that “lucky” people smile twice as often as “unlucky” people. Maintaining an open body posture, with arms uncrossed and direct eye contact, indicates approachability.

3. Say Hello- You could be in the right place at the right time. Begin a conversation with someone you would bit typically approach at the gym, at work or while waiting on a line.

4. Visualize Your Luck- Before your biggest hurdle of the day, close your eyes, relax and visualize yourself as lucky. Think about the people, sights and sounds you will encounter and imagine a welcoming, successful outcome.

5. Make a Phone Call- Studies have shown that lucky people usually have more “long-lasting” attachments, more old friends, than unlucky people. Contact a former classmate, old friend or someone you have not spoken to in the last 6-months. Re-connection on a regular basis enlarges your spheres of influence.

6. Make a List- Focus on all of the good things that have happened to you in the previous 24-hours. “Unlucky” people allow failure to throw them off course, whereas “lucky” people force themselves to concentrate on the positive, no matter what.

• How lucky are you on a scale of 1-10?
• Select 1-step daily that you will incorporate into your customary practices
• Which actions were most successful?
• Share your results

©MWeisner2017

Top 10 Ways to Survive a Social Media Nightmare

imagescakc7fr7Social media blunders happen all the time, but there are good and bad ways to deal with them. Josh Morgan, Vice President of Edelman Digital, and Lori Bertelli, Public Relations Manager of Augustine Ideas, shared some of the scarier sides of social media and how a little mistake can snowball into a nightmare.

These are their suggested steps you can take to help minimize the damage if you are faced with a social media nightmare:

1. Before you say anything on social media, take into account everyone who could be in your audience, not just the people you know for sure are in your audience. Remember, not everyone thinks exactly the same way you do.

2. Before you open up any type of social media forum, have a policy in place that lets people know that certain types of speech aren’t going to be tolerated and that the platform is being moderated.

3. If you find yourself getting emotionally involved in something online, take a step back. Don’t let commenters get you riled up as you could end up saying something that you regret.

4. Think about who is doing your social media postings. An intern may be comfortable using Facebook and Twitter, but are they the right person to be representing your brand online? It is easier to teach someone who knows your brand/business about social media than it is to teach someone who only knows social media about your company.

5. Set up multiple administrators on all social media accounts just in case you can’t get in touch with someone when you need to – or they leave the company.

6. Make it easy to do the right thing when you are setting up your policies.

7. Own a mistake and do it quickly. Don’t try to hide from it. It’s not going away.

8. Have a friend or an editor check things out. It might seem funny to you, but it may not be to everyone else.

9. Understand that you can’t control social media. Instead, be ready to react and take ownership when something does happen.

10. Don’t be insulting or come off as defensive. All it takes is one bad post to create a social media nightmare.

Suffering is Optional

sufferingoptional“You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.” – Yiddish saying

Any adult can tell you that life is not linear and yet as human beings don’t we plan and create. What we know to be true beyond a doubt at this very moment may be changed or challenged in the next. As convinced as we are that the “terrible twos” of childhood are seemingly endless, fasten your seatbelt for the traumas of the teen years.

Yes, you may have a perfect life, the ideal career, fulfilling relationships, supportive friends, significant wealth and terrific health yet you may still be suffering. What is your daily dance about? Is it worry, anxiety, excessive thinking and more that might be keeping you from fully living your life?

We poke and prod, plan and plan even more in anticipation of the future and making it manageable and perhaps creating our notion of perfection. We cannot control the future and living there only increases our anxiety in the present. The more we resist whatever is happening now, the more we suffer and the more it persists.

                                       Suffering = Change x Resistance
According to the author Steve Mitten, “The suffering you experience is equal to whatever resistance you give to the changes you experience in your life.” Once you accept whatever comes as a fact rather than purposeful acts to ruin your life, you can stop your personal suffering, step back and focus your energy on the reality of a situation, not the fantasy of what you wish it to be.

Helen Keller is often partially quoted, “When one door of happiness closes, another open.” However, her complete thought adds.”… but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

• What are your habits that may spiral into suffering?
• How willing are you to step into appreciation instead?
• Choose 1 action today that will focus your thoughts on the open door?

© 2017 Maureen Weisner