How To Be A High-Performing Person.

“If you’re not continually reinventing yourself, your company, or your brand, it’s only a matter of time before you become obsolete, irrelevant, and end up in the bargain bin.”

This is my own mantra that I provide for my clients. If your not looking towards the future on a regular basis, the present will arrive faster than you think and you’ll be behind your competition. If you want to be a high-performer, here are some suggestions I deliver during my keynotes:

  1. Refresh your brand every 2-3 years. Can you tweak your logo? Maybe change a color or font? Keep it FRESH.
  2. Update your website every 2-3 years. Does it work/look good on mobile devices? How old does it look? Look at your competition. It has to be clean, uncluttered, and easy to navigate. Don’t fill it up with shit.
  3. Change your business card yearly. Today, your card is your brochure. It should not only deliver contact info — it should sell you and your business. Use quality card stock, use color, images, etc. Why yearly? Something always changes with the info/logo/title/location — only print small runs so you don't feel bad chucking out 1000 cards. Check out
  4. Make your voicemail message SELL. If it’s you with a tired voice, you’re probably losing business. Hire a professional to help you craft and voice your new voicemail message and outgoing on-hold systems. You could even take a look at using something like this ringless voicemail drop if you want to help promote your business more.
  5. Change your signs frequently. If you have a physical location or a fleet, ensure all signage is clean, new and visible. Old signs that are dirty/faded will LOSE business for you. Have signs made so they can modify messages frequently to attract interest. Keep it FRESH, CLEAN, and SHARP.
  6. Upgrade your email signature (at the bottom of your emails). Most people don’t have one or if they do, it doesn’t sell their business. Make it look professional, give them additional info, point them back to your site, and make sure it works on most email systems.
  7. Get a .com domain name. If your email address has aol, yahoo, gmail or another provider, it immediately telegraphs to me that you are not running a ‘real’ business AND you don’t know what you’re doing. Get one today.
  8. Clean up your digital act. If your voice mailbox is full or you never return emails, you have a problem. Set aside time to regularly clear out your voicemail and develop a system to help with email overload.
  9. Get comfortable with technology. I run into so many people in their 50/60’s who act like little children when it comes to tech. Listen — it’s here to stay and if you catch yourself not embracing it — you look old, antiquated, and lazy. It’s not an irritant, it a part of our lives.
  10. Hang out with people who AREN’T like you. We get lazy and commune/collaborate with our own age groups and social status. Get out and hang with millennials, seniors, and most of all, play tennis with tennis players who can kick your ass. You WILL play better tennis.

If you need help with any of these items, call me anytime - 203-500-2421. I can recommend highly competent people to help you. Even me.

Why Your Email Is Holding You Back.

I spent the better part of this morning entering in a bevy of business cards into my database so every person I meet can receive my eBlast and other services from me. Candidly, it's not fun. In fact it sucks. But I break it up into manageable piles and quickly do it. I should purchase a business card scanner — but the idea of shelling out $250-$300 for one just makes my blood boil. Until they hit $99 (a reasonable price), I will continue to enter them myself.

What Would Happen If You Disconnected From Email?

Take a trip with me. You have your smartphone and you unlink your email settings from your email server, making it impossible to receive email on your smartphone. You could probably still access your email via the browser on your smartphone — but that is so time-consuming, you'd rather not.

Your last email to your team, clients, and colleagues is to let them know you will be checking email at regular intervals during the day while you are at the office and if there is an actual emergency, to call you on your smartphone. But for all intents and purposes, you are not reading or responding to emails when you're not in the office.

What would happen?

1. You might get a few more phone calls.

But that's not a terrible thing. Instead of getting into a viscious email communication chain on some obscure topic, you can probably handle it with a quick 3-5 minute call. And you can group your callbacks and keep them short.

2. You get more organized and focused when you did access your email at the office.*

Initially, it would build up. But as team members, clients, and colleagues would notice, email would cease to be a primary communication vehicle for you. Since you only had a limited amount of time to read your email, you would only focus on those emails that were from key members of your team or were directly sent to you. Anything else most likely can fall by the wayside. *I totally understand if you spend 90-100% of your time away from the office — your smartphone is critical. But what would happen if you just checked emails when you opened your laptop? Or if you checked your smartphone at discreet times during the day and not ALL the time?

3. You would get slower replying to email.

No more quick responses — email is not texting or twitter. In fact, I would ask you not to use those tools either. The whole idea is to limit interruptions to your day to be able to focus on the important and strategic things happening in your life. If it's tactical- or emergency-based use the phone.

4. You would get faster communicating with your staff, clients, and colleagues.

No more long-winded emails — no death-defying email chains that go on forever. Just small phone interruptions (or grouping of phone calls) to connect and engage, manage, or inform. You can get a reputation of fast phone calls, keep them to 1-2 minutes or less and focus on the task at hand and make decisions or take action. Email prolongs debate — how many times have you been put through the email wringer with various vicious email cycles?

A number of clients of mine have done this and they've found a significant lightening of their load AND they are getting more things done. Why?

Email is not a very good communication vehicle.

It takes a long time to compose an email, there are many instances when you do give direction and someone doesn't see it, or the email message is misconstrued in a way where you come of yelling or reprimanding. Bottom line - email is not 'two-way' communication — it's a broadcast medium. In fact, it's worse, when you run into CC: and BCC: transmissions of the same email.

These reactive responses deliver the wrong message — not promoting or pushing projects and people forward — they actually get into email ruts. Trust me — I've been there.

Finally, email turns into heroin for some people. You know who you are — reading your email constantly like a stock ticker — responding instantly to people. How much productivity is wasted with this type of communication? What might be a better way of communicating?

So if you're brave — try unlinking your email today. If you just want to try it, don't check your email at all today — have an email response: "I won't be able to check my email today on my phone, please call me if it's urgent."

Go for it.

Work Smarter, Not Harder.

I really didn't mean that. To be honest, to be successful, one needs certain things to happen:

  1. You have to hustle. Move faster than your competition and get things done. Take action.
  2. You have to be smart. Not only intelligence, but knowledge and street smarts.
  3. You have to be lucky. Sometimes it comes from nowhere, but most of the time it presents itself from opportunities you developed.

But there are times when you need to be nimble, agile, and frankly, work smarter. How? Here goes:

Think of all the things you do during the day. The email, the meetings, the people, the stop-bys, the phone calls, the traveling, the commute . . . everything.

Now I want you to take each element and figure out how you can STREAMLINE it. Make it take less time but deliver the same (or increased) result. Let's try each one:

  • Email - do you have to read EVERY email? Develop a system to read the important messages and toss the rest.
  • Meetings - do you have to go to EVERY meeting? Eliminate one meeting per week - you don't really need to be there.
  • People - who are the most important people to your career? Who wastes your time? Start spending more time with the important people.
  • Stop-bys - it's nice to have an open-door policy but you have to have time for yourself. Close your door at certain times to get working.
  • Phone calls - all calls should be five minutes or less. If it is more complex, you need to meet.
  • Traveling - do you really need to go there? Can you video conference in? A conference call?
  • Commute - sitting in the car for an hour a day is tiring. Can you listen to motivational CD's? Can you telecommute?

Think outside of the box — you want to work smarter — get the work done in less time without killing yourself.

Over the next few weeks, I will be focusing in on each of these areas - STAY TUNED!

Image provided by H Sterling Cross at Flickr.

Why You Hate AND Love Your Email.

Who loves their email? Lovin’ those 150-200 emails you receive each day? I expect your answer to be “NO”. But why do we put so much emphasis on it then? Why do we check it whenever we get a spare moment?

How To Be More Effective On The Job.

"Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things." - Peter Drucker Even on the job, one is forced to comply to look busy, to fit as much 'stuff' into a workday as possible, to outshine your peers, and fly through your duties.

5 Ways To Kill Email.

Email sucks. It's a terrible communication platform (no live, two-way communication), messages are sometimes understood the wrong way, they get lost, you turn around and there are 50 new emails in your inbox, and deciding what to do (open, read, file, trash) is a frustrating process. If you're old like me (I'm 48), you probably remember the old Inbox on your desk where you received actual paper memos. Harkening back to those old times, we only received/wrote 2-3 (no more than five) memos a day. Most business was done face to face or over the phone (where real, live, two-way communication happens).

5 Ways To Spread A Little Warmth.

It's a cold world out there. One thing that always works for me is to share a positive, enthusiastic attitude. Whenever I feel down, or when things aren't going my way, I try to instantly turn that around with a smile, a fun comment, or a positive action. Most of the time it works and as I do it, it becomes infectious, and bounces right back to me. So . . .